Category: Personal Injury

5 Things You Need to Know About Going to the Emergency Room After an Accident

5 Things You Need to Know About Going to the Emergency Room After an Accident

Millions of people are treated each year in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in accidents. People go to the emergency room after car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle crashes, slip & fall accidents, dog bites, defective product injuries, and construction accidents, to name a few. 

Some individuals are transported directly to the ER from the accident scene. Other people go to the emergency room after experiencing symptoms of an injury in the hours or days following an accident. 

Since so many people visit the emergency room each year, you should know a few things going to the ER after an accident.

1.  Notes and Records From Medical Staff Are Important in a Personal Injury Case

Nurses, doctors, and other medical providers ask lots of questions. They will ask about your injuries, and they may question you about the accident or how you were injured. 

Be careful what you say to nurses, doctors, and ER staff members. Your comments and answers become part of your medical record, which the insurance company and defense attorney will receive when you file a personal injury claim.

Therefore, if you state that you are unsure how the accident occurred or imply you are at fault, those statements could significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury case.

Try to keep your answers short and to the point. Do not elaborate on how the accident occurred or offer information that is not requested. Try to keep the conversation confined to your injuries and symptoms. 

2.  Be Careful What You Sign

You will be given numerous documents when you enter the emergency room. The hospital requires that you sign a consent to treatment and other forms. You may also be given forms about your insurance coverage.

If you are seriously injured, it may be impossible for you to understand these forms. If you do not understand the insurance forms, ask the person to wait until you are not under the influence of medication or severe pain to read and understand the document. 

Tell the records personnel that you have health insurance that may cover the cost of care but that the injuries were sustained in an accident caused by another party. 

3.  Tell Nurses and Doctors About All Symptoms

Do not leave out any information about your injuries or symptoms, regardless of whether the symptom is minor or severe. All aches and pains could be an indication of a serious condition. You want the medical staff to note all of your complaints in your medical chart.

One reason for relaying all your symptoms is for doctors to provide a correct diagnosis. It is also crucial for claims purposes. 

Some injuries may not be immediately noticeable. It could take a few hours or days for you to begin feeling severe pain or severe symptoms. It is more difficult for an insurance company to allege that the accident did not cause your injury when the ER records indicate you were experiencing minor symptoms within minutes or hours after the crash. 

4.  Emergency Room Costs Can Be High

The costs of emergency care can be high. Your physicians may need to perform one or more diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms. The ER doctor might order a CT scan, MRI, x-rays, an ultrasound, and various blood work. The cost could total thousands of dollars for one imagining test.

Your health insurance company may pay for some of these costs. However, you could have thousands of dollars in co-pays or uncovered amounts that the hospital expects you to pay. Talk with a personal injury lawyer about ways that you can hold off paying ER bills while your personal injury case is pending. 

5.  Request Written Instructions for Further Care

Before you leave the emergency room, ask the staff to provide written instructions for your care. Make sure you understand these instructions and follow them after leaving the hospital. Follow up with your physician as soon as possible for further care.

Delays in medical care, refusing care, and failing to follow a treatment plan can hurt your chance of recovering a fair settlement for your personal injury claim. 

Seek Legal Advice if You Have Questions

Most people have never had to deal with a personal injury claim. Therefore, they may not understand the process or the types of damages they might be entitled to receive. If you have questions about an injury, ask a personal injury attorney for help. 

It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel rather than trust what an insurance company tells you about a claim. The insurance company is looking out for its best interest. You need someone who will do the same for you.

What’s a “Reasonable” Person When it Comes to Negligence?

For most personal injury claims, you must prove that the other party was negligent to recover compensation for your damages. 

Negligence is the basis for injury claims arising from:

Almost every type of personal injury case involves a negligence claim. Whether a person was negligent is based on what a “reasonable person” would have done in a similar situation. However, who is considered a “reasonable person?”

Who is Considered a Reasonable Person?

A “reasonable person” is subjective. It is a model for judging the reasonableness of another party’s conduct. There is no specific definition of a reasonable person.

In most cases, a reasonable person is defined as someone who uses ordinary prudence. In other words, the person uses a reasonable level of cautiousness in approaching a given situation. A reasonable person considers a situation and acts with common sense based on the circumstances.

For example, a reasonable person knows that texting while driving and speeding through a school zone are dangerous driving behaviors. Therefore, a reasonable person does not engage in these behaviors. 

Another example might be a store owner failing to clean up a spill. A reasonable person knows that a spill makes the floor slippery. If they do not clean it, the spill could cause someone to fall. Therefore, a reasonable person would clean up the spill as quickly as possible or take other steps to prevent someone from falling.

The Reasonable Person Standard is Not the Same in Every Case

The facts and circumstances of the case dictate the standard used for a reasonable person. Using this standard does not mean that a person must be perfect. It only means that the person acted with reasonable prudence.

If a reasonable person would have made the same mistake or error, the party who caused the injury may not be liable for damages. There are also instances in which a situation was not within someone’s control. If the injury was unavoidable, a party might not be liable for damages. 

Children Are an Exception to the Reasonable Person Standard

Children may be exempted from the reasonable person standard in some cases. A child lacks the knowledge and maturity of an adult. For that reason, a child cannot be expected to act with the same level of prudence and reasonableness as an adult in certain situations. 

The court may apply a modified standard for the reasonable person test for children. The child’s actions may be measured against what a child of the same age, knowledge, and experience would do in a given situation. 

The court uses the facts of the case to determine what standard should apply. Therefore, it is difficult to determine in advance what a judge may rule in these types of cases. 

Who Decides What a Reasonable Person Would Do in a Given Situation?

The jurors stand in the shoes of the reasonable person. They listen to the evidence presented by each party to determine the facts of the case. They decide what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

The jury must decide if the risk was foreseeable. Suppose a risk was foreseeable and the person proceeded with this knowledge and without regard to the risk of harm or injury to another person. In that case, the jury may find the person’s conduct was not reasonable. 

Personal injury lawyers often argue that the defendant could have taken steps to prevent the injury or harm. The hypothetical “reasonable person” can play a significant role in whether you recover compensation for your damages.

Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

To prove negligence, you must show that:

  • The person owed you a duty of care
  • The person breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries
  • You sustained damages because of the person’s conduct

Jurors may have strong opinions about what constitutes reasonableness. Reasonableness is used to judge whether the person breached the duty of care. If you cannot convince the jury that the person breached the duty of care, you cannot recover compensation for your economic damages (financial losses) or your pain & suffering damages. 

Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Imagine you are on the road and decide to spend the night at a hotel. You check in, carry your stuff to your room, and get settled. Over the course of the night and the next morning, you are in and out of the room—checking out the pool, exercise room, and breakfast. When you gather your things to leave, you realize your laptop is missing. After further investigation, it becomes clear it was stolen. 

While we all hope this nightmare scenario never happens, it is good to be prepared and understand the law regarding such an issue. More specifically, if something is stolen from your hotel room, who is liable?

While there is no easy answer to that question and there are a thousand different factors that could produce a thousand different answers—which state you are in, whether or not there is clear signage noting the hotel’s liability and policy, whether or not there is a safe—there are several general rules that can help determine liability when something is stolen from your hotel room.

Innkeepers Laws

Just about every state in the country has what are known as Innkeepers Laws. Innkeepers laws govern a range of issues related to hotels and the entire hospitality industry. For example, innkeepers laws cover things like:

  • Evictions
  • Overbooking
  • Security

Innkeepers laws also cover the issue of liability when something is stolen. Because dollar amounts and exact verbiage of the laws vary from state to state, it is important to understand the rules in each state to which you travel. 

By way of example, consider the innkeepers laws in the state of Massachusetts. In the Bay State, a hotel is only liable for up to $300 of lost property for things like luggage, clothing, and money. However, if you deposit money or jewelry to be watched by the hotel, their liability goes up to $1000.

Other states might have rules about safes in the room and signage stating the hotel’s policy and liability limit. For example, if one of your valuables is stolen and you hadn’t put it in the safe then the hotel might not be liable. 

Also, generally speaking, hotels are not at fault if your loss of property is the result of an act of nature such as a hurricane or earthquake, or if it is the result of civil unrest such as a protest or riot. 

Tips for Keeping Your Stuff Safe While Traveling

For the most part, innkeepers laws tend to favor hotels and inns. For that reason, it is important you educate yourself before you hit the road. You will want to make sure you read the hotel’s policy on items that are stolen and what you have to do to make sure your valuables are protected. 

If a hotel room you are staying in has a safe, you might want to consider placing your valuable items inside of it whenever you are not in the room. 

One other option that might be a good idea is traveler’s insurance. Most traveler’s insurance policies cover items that are stolen from a hotel room. Of course, the amount covered depends on the policy so you will want to make sure you get a policy that meets your needs.

Finally, if something was stolen from your room and you feel the hotel is responsible but they are stonewalling you, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to investigate your case and determine whether or not the hotel should pay up. 

Of course, not every item that is stolen will warrant legal action. But if you have had something truly valuable stolen from your hotel room, there might be steps you can take to seek justice.