Recent Articles

“Loss of Chance” Doctrine Becoming National Trend in Malpractice Law

Minnesota Supreme Court recently deviated from its traditional rulings on malpractice claims to create a “loss of chance” doctrine, in which a patient is entitled to compensation if the negligence of a doctor can be proved to have decreased the patient’s chances of survival. Kayla and Joseph Dickhoff, the parents of a young girl with a rare form of muscle cancer, brought the case that inspired this decision. The Dickhoffs felt that Dr. Rachel Tolefsrud and her clinic had failed to diagnose their daughter’s suspicious lump, leading to her currently more difficult, painful, and expensive battle with the cancer.

The Court ruled that the defendants had been negligent and should be held liable for the girl’s lessened chances of recovery. Even though this case brought Minnesota to join the other 40 states with “loss of chance” doctrines, the ruling was split 3-2. The dissenting side argued that because a “loss of chance” did not deal with true causation of harm from specific actions, it should not be supported as a liability. Dissenting Judge Christopher Dietzen pointed out that even though the Dickhoffs’ child had worsened and was currently struggling to beat her cancer, who could say with total confidence that it was a result of negligence or just the natural progression of the disease?

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was the first to rule for “loss of chance” in 2008. They saw the doctrine not as another pitfall for doctors, but as a reminder to provide quality medical services and heightened attention in order to avoid a medical mistake such as misdiagnosis. The Supreme Judicial Court had hoped the “loss of chance” doctrine would lend itself to overall reform in medicine.

Boot Camp Created for Aspiring Start-Ups

Creating a boot camp for eager entrepreneurs searching for the key to a successful start-up business organization sounds like the set up for a scam, but VentureCamp seems like the real deal. However, the camp is as much a start-up as the businesses it hopes to foster, partially inspired by the sprawling mansion which Chad Folkening found himself unable to live in or sell but still hearkened for a purpose.

The maiden voyage of VentureCamp began in June 2013, with twelve carefully selected businesspeople, just as many successful guest speakers, and one 26,000 square foot house nestled in the northeast side of Indianapolis, despite its neighbors’ opposition. The selected campers don’t pay a dime to attend the eight-week interactive seminar in which they’ll hear lectures, receive personal coaching, and eventually team up to develop genuine business plans to take back to the real world.

Naturally, the experience is being filmed reality television-style, following the participants around with cameras from the time they get up to the time they go to sleep. VentureCamp hopes to use the footage to advertise itself, privately or publicly. Participants don’t seem to mind, though. Constant surveillance is a small price to pay for the chance to take their start-up dreams and bring them to life.

Role of High Pressure in Explosions

When we speak of explosions, we usually think of dynamite or C4, but there are actually many types of explosions. The most common man-made type of explosion is chemical, to which dynamite and C4 as well as other flammable compounds belong. There are also electrical, nuclear and mechanical explosions. No matter what kind of explosion, there will always be heat, destruction, noise and pressure as by-products.

In the case of pressure, however, it can also be the cause of an explosion. In a chemical, nuclear or electrical explosion, pressure comes after the explosion, and the amount of pressure will depend on the magnitude of the explosion. In some instances, the pressure is so great that it creates a shock wave with rapidly expands from the epicenter of the explosion, usually causing massive destruction over a large area in a very short time.

In a mechanical explosion, however, pressure is necessary for the explosion to take place. Mechanical explosions are mainly due to the buildup of pressure within a confined space through the transformation of a liquid substance to gas through heating.

A good example would be throwing a tin can in the fire. If the can is not vented, the contents of the can will expand as it heats up because the liquid is being turned into gas, which has a higher volume, and it has nowhere to go. This increase in volume may happen slowly or fast, but unless there is a reduction in the heat source, the integrity of the tin can will eventually fail, resulting in a rapid release of pressure localized at the point of rupture or failure. This high pressure release can cause the container to fragment, sending projectiles in every direction.

This type of explosion is duplicated, albeit in a larger scale, in boiler room explosions. The Boston Marathon explosion was also a mechanical explosion. In some instances, there may also be a chemical explosion resulting from a mechanical one, such as the heating of pressurized aerosol cans of hair spray, or propane tanks. Heating these containers may cause the liquid inside to expand, but the explosion may set off a chemical reaction i.e. ignite the flammable gas thus increasing the resulting heat and pressure which would make it much more devastating.

High pressure is a destructive force when it comes to explosions. Under controlled, circumstances, however, it can be used for good. An example would be a combustion engine, in which controlled chemical explosions turn fuel into mechanical energy. Without high pressure, many of the processes we take for granted would not be possible.

Having a Heart Attack Does Not Get You Out of Car Crash Fines

The carelessness rule that governs most of personal injury liability says that in an accident between two people, the more careless person should compensate the less careless one. However, in the recent case of a 20-year-old New Jersey man, Dan Langley, who caused a car wreck because he was struck by a heart attack while driving, could you label him as being careless?

Police officers who rushed to the scene saved the man’s life by immediately performing CPR, but then slapped him with three tickets for causing the wreck. Langley’s doctor was uneasy about the fines and felt more consideration was due to the situation. The CBS New York article covering the incident discloses that the man’s doctor “wrote the court a note, asking to forgive Langley for having the heart attack which caused the wreck”, which reads a bit like a parent asking a school to forgive their child’s absence because he had the flu.

Luckily for Langley, the court did finally consider his medical condition and the fact that there were no further injuries to anyone involved in the crash. They forgave two of the tickets, although they found him still responsible for a portion of the third ticket, which amounted to $133.

Maximum Hours of Driving Service: A Federal Order to Truck Drivers

Driving an 18-wheeler, which weighs about 80,000 lbs. or 40 tons and has a length of, at least, 70 feet is no easy task, especially if the job is done for more than 11 hours, night and / or day, anywhere. This is why drivers of large trucks are required to undergo additional training and education on proper handling and operation of these types of vehicles in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license or CDL. There is also a federal law that states how many hours a driver may drive continuously and the number of hours required for rest.

18-wheelers, also known as big-rigs, semis or tractor-trailers are commercial vehicles that carry loads of important cargo from one end of the state / country to another or from manufacturer to retailer; thus, these definitely render great service to the US economy. Yet, no matter how important the role these play, once on the road, these vehicles pose great danger due to their size and weight, so that even the least error can lead to devastating damages to properties and severe harm against innocent lives.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US Department of Transportation, which is in charge of trucking and all other transportation-related industries, has issued regulations regarding the maximum driving hours or hours of service (HOS) of commercial drivers. Some of these regulations state that drivers of trucks:

  • Should not drive after rendering duty for 14 hours straight
  • Are allowed maximum driving time is 11 hours only, which is within the 14-consecutive-hour on-duty period
  • Ought to have 10 consecutive hours off-duty after his or her 14-hour service

A sleeper berth area is designed toward the back of the truck cab to allow drivers to take their much needed sleep when on the road. This will help them get over fatigue and drowsiness, especially when they need to strictly follow delivery schedules. Though some drivers may not admit it, but feeling drowsy while driving is very dangerous, in fact more dangerous than drunk-driving.

18-wheeler accidents happen daily in the US, though these can be avoided with the strict observance of the HOS order. If sleepiness is the reason behind an accident, then the victim has all the right to seek justice and compensation for all the accident-related injuries he or she will suffer from.

Observe Traffic Rules or Waive Right to Drive

The driver’s education course that hopeful drivers take, the driving test and the continuous ads and information on proper observance of traffic rules ought to be more than enough to keep all motorists and pedestrians safe on the road. This ideal scenario, though, remains just a possibility, for in actuality the number of road accidents involving cars continues to reach millions.

There are various causes of car accidents and all of which may be categorized under three headings: driver’s fault, manufacturer’s fault and road defects. Among the three, driver’s fault still registers the highest number of road tragedies.

Driver error, drunk-driving, speeding and reckless driving all fall under driver’s fault. There are times when an accident is a result of a simple careless act by the driver, such as answering a cell phone, reaching for something at the back seat or something that fell on the car floor; such acts which make the driver take his or her eyes off the road even for a couple of seconds, but which can very well result to an accident.

Reckless driving, speeding and drunk-driving are, likewise, driver errors, but of a different nature – for such acts are spurred by a thoughtless or irresponsible attitude, bereft of concern for others’ safety. Besides property damage, in the case of a car wreck, it can also cause serious injury to another driver or pedestrian. Sadly, these acts are products of a driver’s conscious decision, thus, these are willful decisions to act irresponsibly.

In the event of such an accident, even if the damage is limited to your property, your vehicle in this case, you still have the right to go after the negligent party to make him or her pay for the damages he or she has caused. Reckless attitude on the road should never be tolerated; over-speeding to be on time for an appointment or for any other reason can never be an acceptable excuse either as this will simply put other’s live in danger. Traffic rules are intended to keep everyone safe; if any driver has no intent of observing them, then they have no business being on the road with you.

Road Defects: A Threat to Safe Driving

To millions of people in the US who drive to their destinations every day, strict observance of traffic rules is doubly important – actually, anything that will ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers, especially children. No driver would ever want to be in an accident, just as much as no driver would ever want to cause one. Thus, driving with extra care, always having in thought everyone’s safety, is both a civil and moral obligation of everyone.

So many still fail to drive with total care, though, as they allow themselves to be distracted, fail to use signals or speed in their desire to reach their destination fast. Due to this, the number of car accidents in the US still reaches millions annually despite continuous information and education on safe driving plus constant reminders on observance of traffic rules. Regardless of how an accident happens, one underlying fact encompasses all of its types – that it is always a product either of reckless of careless behavior. It can be due to driver mistakes, like those mentioned above; but it can also be caused by the mediocre attitude of a vehicle part manufacturer, who compromises quality of parts for bigger income, or the unconcern of authorities in charge of road safety signs and maintenance. It takes only one substantial mistake from any of these persons for a road or motor vehicle accident, with devastating results, to happen.

It is a fact that the major cause of car accidents is driver error; but there are also lots of instances when the cause of accidents is a defective car part or, the more serious, road defects, especially on non-interstate roadways, as these affect all motorists. The list of road defects include faulty guardrail end treatments, potholes, substandard road construction, defective design of the roadway, wrong , misplaced or absent road signs, lack of pedestrian crossings, lack of traffic lights or railroad crossing lights, insufficient  street lighting, poor skid resistance of roadways and many more.

Whoever is responsible in maintaining road defects, but fails to repair it fast, is responsible for any accident that occurs due to it. If you’re a victim of a car accident and have sustained injuries because of these defective roads, then you can seek legal help to bring the liable party to justice and receive compensation from them.

Overtime Pay Rulings in Wisconsin

Many employees continue to suffer unjust labor practices from unscrupulous employers, being denied of just treatment, fair wage or overtime pay. Federal laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and state laws aimed at protecting the rights of all employees in the US have been enacted to ensure that workers receive what is their due. Despite such rulings, many illegal practices in the workplace prevail.

One major injustice committed against non-exempt employees, that is, employees qualified to render overtime and receive overtime pay, is denial of pay for hours of work rendered in excess of the 40-hour work week. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime pay is equivalent to time and a half or 0.5 on top of an employee’s hourly rate. Professionals, administrators and executives with a weekly rate of $455 are, under the FLSA, exempt from overtime. A number of other workers exempt from overtime pay, include housekeepers, certain farm and agricultural workers, some transportation workers, independent contractors and external salespeople.

Most US states have wage and overtime pay laws that are the same with federal rulings. One such state is Wisconsin, where the laws are designed to stop employers from exploiting their employees. This includes employers who pay their workers after every couple of weeks, for even with a pay schedule such as this, employers will still need to observe the 40-hour (not 80-hour) work schedule stipulated by the Wisconsin Overtime Law or by the FLSA.

Employers in Wisconsin, though, have the right to schedule employees’ work schedules in any way they want. This means that they can choose to schedule an employee’s work in ways that will best benefit their business. These employers may even require mandatory overtime to make sure that all work, which need to be finished are completed. However, discovery of any form of violation committed by employers on such issue may be filed as a violation of Wisconsin or FLSA laws.

ERISA: A Federal Law for Your Retirement Benefits

Commercial disputes begin when a business firm, which enters into contract with another firm, fails to adhere to the conditions and terms of that contract. Such disputes ought to be resolved fast or those can be causes for a litigation which can ruin your business’ reputation, the effect of which can be loss of clients, assets, and profits in the near future.

Commercial litigation is the legal way of resolving disputes or conflicts that arise between two or more businesses. Area of conflict may revolve around issues concerning ownership / partnership, trade regulations, employment problems, business licensing, civil fraud, environmental concerns, breach of fiduciary duty or relationship involving trustee, interference with business relationships, franchise or shareholder issues, debt collection, Civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization), and ERISA or Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

One specific issue with increasing cases over the past couple of years concerns employee retirement income security, which has been abused by many unscrupulous employers. Several employees applying for their retirement benefits get denied too and then experience much difficulty in following the steps required for reconsideration of their application. This retirement security is covered by Employee Retirement Income Security Act, more familiarly called ERISA. It sets the minimum standards for pension plans, health, retirement, and other benefit plans of employees in private firms and is managed by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), one of the many divisions of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Act took effect on September 2, 1974, and was intended to safeguard the interests of employee-benefit plan members and their beneficiaries. ERISA is a federal law that is directed to private employers, who offer employer-sponsored benefits; it is supposed to enable millions of US employees to enjoy the benefits that are rightfully theirs when they retire.

Settling commercial disputes can take years due to the complexity of the case. Though an out-of-court settlement would clearly indicate liability by one party, it would also prove quite beneficial as both parties are given the free chance of reaching a reasonable amount and that the liable party would be saved from the burden of increasing legal fees as well as from being proven to have acted wrongly or negligently.

ERISA cases are usually tried in federal courts, an environment many lawyers are unfamiliar with. Besides this, the case demands special subject matter knowledge and great skills. Not many commercial litigation attorneys can represent and fight for you in commercial litigations, especially in ERISA cases, with great effectivity and efficiency, thus the need to choose your legal representative well. With the best representation comes the greatest chance of meriting the benefits that are rightfully yours upon retirement.