Each year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed on roads and highways simply due to poor road conditions. Poor conditions can be a result of natural events like flash floods or ice storms, but dangerous conditions can also result from poor upkeep and physical condition. Even though there are state and federal laws in place that require cities to maintain safe roadways, it’s impossible to ensure that every single road is totally safe.
Medical malpractice is a term many are familiar with, or have at least heard in passing. But, do you really know what it means? It’s much more than just a dissatisfied customer.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor or nurse who fails to provide proper health care treatment. Legally, medical malpractice means that a doctor or medical provider must have been negligent in some way (i.e. the provider was not reasonably skillful or competent, resulting in harm to a patient).
It is understood when examining the medical field that on a small scale, mistakes will be made. However, within that small scale, certain types of errors do crop up more often than others. These are the top five most common types of medical malpractice:
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis make up the majority of medical malpractice complaints. In such a complex field as medicine, mistakes are going to be made. However, often a physician’s negligence will cause them to completely overlook obvious signs and symptoms in a patient. These oversights might mean that a patient misses out on treatment opportunities that could have prevented serious harm or even death.
Personal injury lawsuits exist so that injured parties can be compensated for the damages (harms and losses) that occur as a result of the wrongdoing when someone or some company does not follow the rules of safety. Harms and losses can be past and future lost wages, past and future medical bills, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, mental and physical suffering, and those types of injuries. There are some cases, however, that go beyond simple compensation. Sometimes, there is cause to punish the defendant, much the same way that people are punished in the criminal justice system when they do wrong. In these instances, the defendant may be ordered to pay an additional sum of money known as punitive damages.
Punitive damages are intended to be a form of punishment for severe wrongdoing that was especially harmful. The point is to deter this person or company from committing the same egregious act again. Most Americans are familiar the concept of punitive damages. They are often the primary focus in media coverage of high profile cases. This kind of exposure has given the general public the impression that this is a common practice, but in fact, you will only hear of punitive damages being awarded in a small percentage of cases. This is due to the stringent requirements that are associated with punitive damages. The majority of cases simply do not qualify.
Modern technology and creative innovation have led to the rise of a "sharing economy" in the United States today. There are peer-to-peer vacation rental services (such as AirBnb), peer-to-peer businesses (such as Ebay), and perhaps the most controversial of all: peer-to-peer car services. These dynamics are all relatively new, and very few details have been established as to who holds liability for whatever may go wrong. The very question has the potential to incite an entire series of debates, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to discuss car-sharing specifically.
There's no denying that this model has caught on like wildfire, especially in larger cities and even more so on weekends and holidays. It makes sense. It's affordable and incredibly easy to access. However, making the decision to offer your vehicle up as a form of public transportation is seriously risky business. On the other side of the same coin, what happens if you are involved in a car wreck while you are riding as a passenger in one of these vehicles? Who will be held responsible for compensating you for your injuries? These are the questions that ride-sharers have failed to consider, and in just a few short years, we've seen an unfathomable number of conflicts arise as a direct result. (This fatal collision in Boston, for example, or this 6-year old child who died after being hit by a negligent Uber driver in San Francisco).
Insurance Concerns for Drivers
Ride-sharing giants like Uber and Lyft carry insurance for their drivers. That is, the insurance becomes effective when the passenger is picked up and deactivates when the passenger is dropped off at his or her destination. Sounds legitimate, doesn't it?
Experiencing a car accident is bad enough on its own, but unfortunately, the trouble doesn't stop there. At the very least you need to exchange information with the other people involved in the accident. Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents occur daily, and they are extremely detrimental to the victims. There is an obvious moral issue with failing to take responsibility for the damage you have caused, but what about the legal ramifications? Here are just a few of the reasons why you should never flee the scene of a car accident:
When someone enters your home or a property that you own, they almost always assume that it is safe to do so. This is a pretty reasonable assumption; your guests are not going to stop and ask about any potential hazards before they knock on your door. Your obligation to provide a relatively safe environment for visitors falls under what we refer to as "premises liability". As you may have guessed, this area of the law is extremely broad. After all, any number of things could happen on your property.
In every society, there is what is known as the "standard of care". There may not be any formal written declaration, but it comes in the form of social expectations. The underlying concept is that there is a certain level of attention or caution or prudence that a reasonable person would exercise in a given situation. If you put yourself in a situation that requires a certain level of caution, there then exists what we refer to as "duty of care".
In an earlier blog post, we explained that duty of care is most often implied as part of a given role. For example, the standard of care for a bus driver is that he or she will obey traffic laws and safely deliver passengers to their destination. The person who accepts a job as a bus driver has a duty to uphold this implied standard of care. It's never discussed, but it goes without saying that we expect bus drivers to practice safe driving habits.
As we've explained before, if a person's actions do not meet the express or implied standards of care, we refer to this as negligence. This can apply to anything that has the potential to harm another person. Negligence may be classified as criminal or civil in nature. Below are some common examples of each.
The phrase "duty of care" refers to the legal expectation that a certain standard of care should be upheld when someone is participating in anything that could potentially do harm to others around them. This concept can be applied to just about any scenario you can think of. For example, the company that employs you upholds their duty of care when they provide you with personal protective equipment. Public transportation operators do so by obeying traffic laws and properly maintaining the vehicles that carry their passengers.
The idea that we all take certain risks when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle is certainly nothing new. In fact, those risks are generally so well accepted that few of us even think about them anymore. Given that driving is such a necessary part of our daily lives, though, it would be wise for all of us to begin paying more attention to the amount of responsibility we are accepting when we drive our cars from point A to point B.
Each year, hundreds of horrific encounters occur between inmates and prison guards, and we rarely hear about any of them. Even in the absence of media coverage, though, inmate abuse is a very real and specific type of police brutality that should never be ignored.