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What Happens If You’re Injured after Your Flight Is Grounded Due to a Natural Disaster?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The recent tragedy in Nepal has left thousands of travelers stranded, awaiting a route home as airlines and other carriers have focused on the evacuation of those most closely affected by the earthquake. If you’re injured after your flight has been re-routed due to a natural disaster, what are your options? What if your only “injury” is to your pocketbook–are you entitled to recover financial damages resulting from your unplanned layover?  Here is how some principles of personal injury law may apply if your flight has recently been re-routed, as well as the accommodations an airline is required to provide upon redirecting your flight. What must an airline provide upon re-routing your flight? If you’re traveling on a US carrier and your flight has been re-routed to an alternate airport (or even country), the airline is required to reimburse you for the unused value of your ticket. However, in many cases, you’ll also need to secure accommodations for an overnight stay before the next outgoing flight is available. In this situation, the airline may provide–however, depending upon the specific contract language contained on your ticket, you may be entitled only to a voucher for a reasonably priced hotel, rather than reimbursed for the full costs of the hotel you use.  If your airline carrier has exempted ‘”acts of God” from the situations for which it is required to reimburse passengers, you may even need to provide your own hotel room. Using this rationale, because the natural disaster was caused by unforeseen elements, rather than the airline’s action (or failure to act) the airline should bear no financial responsibility for any resulting inconvenience. However, in an effort to improve customer relations, an airline may still opt to cover some of these costs. Is the airline responsible for any injuries or financial damage you suffer as a result of a re-routed flight?  If you’re injured while stationed at an alternate location, or if you miss a once-in-a-lifetime event because your flight has been re-routed, you may have a legal claim against the airline–but only in certain situations.  In general, the airline will not be responsible for injuries (or financial damages) you’ve suffered if its course of conduct was deemed prudent and reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if your flight path took you through an earthquake-affected area and your plane needed to continue past the affected area to safely land, it’s likely this action will be deemed reasonable — and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect from the airline if you’re injured by a vehicle or suffer other injury while traveling to your temporary hotel.  If the airline instead chose to land in a dangerous area, against guidance or professional recommendations, this can establish the negligence or recklessness needed to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit.   What must you prove in able to recover damages from the airline? If you feel your injury was due to the airline’s negligence or recklessness, you’ll need to establish a few things in order to recover damages. First, you’ll have to show that the airline owed you a duty of care. The specific language governing the airline’s duties should be on your ticket (or in the documentation you received along with your ticket), and should state that the airline takes responsibility for transporting you...

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Negligence Laws Lets You Sue For Damages In No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although you may drive your motorcycle in a responsible way, the same can’t be said for other people on the road. If you take action to avoid hitting another vehicle and get into an accident, you can still sue for damages even if the other person doesn’t hit you. Here’s what you need to know about recovering compensation for damages in no-contact accidents. Suing for Negligent Behavior People have a legal duty to be careful of other drivers and operate their cars, trucks, and motorcycles in a safe manner when on the roadways. If they fail to do so, they may be found to be negligent and held liable for any and all outcomes that result from their actions (or failure to act). To successfully sue for negligence in a no-contact accident, you must prove four elements: The person had a duty to exercise reasonable care The person failed to exercise said care Their actions caused harm The harm resulted in actual damages (e.g. physical injuries) For instance, a person drifts into your lane because he or she was texting and not paying attention to the road. You stomp on the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting them but end up crashing into a tree. The person can be held liable for the damages caused and made to pay you compensation for your losses provided you can prove those losses are the direct result of the crash. Challenges to Proving Your Case The first challenge you’ll face is proving the person acted negligently. If the driver of the other vehicle has a valid reason for taking the action he or she did while on the road, the individual may be able to escape liability. For instance, if the person swerved into your lane to avoid hitting a child, they may be able to successfully use the Sudden Emergency Doctrine as a defense against charges of driving negligently. The Sudden Emergency Doctrine removes the standard of care people must take in cases where they are suddenly faced with an emergency situation through no fault of their own. As long as the person can prove he or she acted the same as any other reasonable person would in similar circumstances, the individual typically won’t be held liable. Without that assignment of liability, it can be difficult for you to make a case that the person should be responsible for your losses. You may still have a case, though, if the person’s actions were caused by a third-party (e.g. the individual swerved to avoid an oncoming drunk driver). In this situation, you can go after the third-party for your losses. Another issue you’ll face is proving the events happened as you claimed. This will be particularly challenging if the other driver doesn’t stop and you don’t have any identifying information that could help you track down the perpetrator. Not only will it be difficult to sue the other person for compensation for damages, you may have a hard time convincing your insurance provider to pay your claim. In this situation, you’ll need to find witnesses who will corroborate your story. These witnesses can be: A passenger riding with you on the bike People who stop to help you on the road Video recordings taken by other drivers, security cameras, or traffic cameras...

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Preventing Slip And Fall Accidents From Occurring At Your Business

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Personal injury cases can be a big deal for you or your business. If a personal injury case is filed against you, there is an entire litany of problems to deal with: court costs, maintaining the integrity of your business, making doubly sure it doesn’t happen again, etc. The best way to avoid a personal injury suit is just that: avoid it! Of the most common personal injury suits filed against businesses, many involve slip and fall accidents. There are plenty of ways to avoid such cases; these are just a few of the precautions that you can take. Salting The Outside Of Your Establishment During Icy Weather The most common time for someone to slip and fall in a public setting is during icy weather. Remember that you can be held responsible for the medical bills of anyone who has a slip and fall accident on your property during icy conditions. Luckily, you can use salt to prevent ice from forming, as well as use salt to make the icy build up melt faster. In some states, it is required that business owners salt pathways leading up to their business; for others, it is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended. By salting the pathways leading up to your business before and after icy weather conditions, you will be taking precautions against any potential personal injury suits. Set Cardboard Down During Rainy Conditions Rainy days are the most common of crummy weather conditions. They can also be established as a legitimate cause of injury for a slip and fall personal injury suit. A very common trick amongst businesses – especially mom and pop stores like delis, corner stores and family owned restaurants – is to place duct-taped cardboard on the floor of the business. This ensures that the floor will not remain constantly wet, creating a likely place for potential customers to slip and fall. Make Sure That Your Business Is Adequately Dry After Cleanup Many times businesses will neglect to make sure that floors are adequately dry after mop cleanups. This is a big no-no for all businesses. Make sure that employees are properly trained regarding mopping up messes and how to adequately dry the floor afterwards. Many employees are under the impression that mopping up an area, placing a wet floor sign near the potential accident, and then moving along to the next task is entirely adequate. It is best to perform a thorough-going mop job – including drying the floor – and then placing a wet floor sign next to the potential slip area in order to ensure maximum safety. Make Sure That Your Business Is Free From Ground Clutter Although water and weather-based slip and fall personal injury cases are the most common, there is a long list of other potential hazards that can cause someone to slip and fall at your business. One of the easiest things that you can do for your business is make sure that the floor is free of clutter. This can be a trying task, as many people have so little room for everything they wish to stock in their business. However, it is important to keep inventory of these items – cords, items in stock, etc. – and to keep a close eye on them,...

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Applying For Social Security Disability: Understanding The Process

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Experiencing a disability is a devastating time, and if you are unable to work, you worry about how you’ll pay for your bills and support your family. Luckily Social Security disability is designed to assist disabled people who cannot work. However, the process to apply for benefits is long and may seem overwhelming, so understanding a breakdown of the general process may calm your nerves. Initial Application The first step in getting disability through Social Security is to file a claim. Once the claim is received, it is processed by local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and Disability Determination Services (DDSs). First, SSA field offices verify your personal non-medical information, including your name, age, marital status, etc. Once that information has been verified as correct, your claim is passed on to the DDS. It is the DDS’ responsibility to confirm your disability. They use your medical sources to determine the extent of the disability. If there is not enough information, you may have to go in for a special examination. This is usually performed by your regular doctor, but in some cases, a specialist is used. Using all this information, the DDS makes a decision to either reject your claim or approve it and determine the benefit amount. Preparing for a Hearing In many cases, this first claim is denied. Even if you genuinely are disabled, you may not have provided enough information. In this event, an appeal hearing is your next step. It’s best to hire an attorney or advocate at this time to help you prepare for the hearing. Firstly, your social security attorneys will work with you on what you should say at the hearing. This is designed to help you clearly state your condition and not mislead or confuse the judge. During this time, your lawyer will also get in contact with your doctor. The lawyer’s goal is to gather all necessary medical records, test results and doctor statements to create a clear and unbiased view of your medical condition. If there is missing information, your lawyer may have you revisit your doctor, so a clear and complete picture of your disability can be presented. Attending the Hearing At the hearing, expect to be questioned on your disability. This is where your work with your lawyer to help form your answers will come into play. However, you won’t be the only person questioned. In many cases, your doctor may be called to answer questions regarding your condition. This is another reason you need a lawyer or an advocate. They have experience with disability law. They know what questions to ask and what information the judge wants to hear to help make a ruling. During this time, your attorney or advocate will also fight to get a fair disability onset date, so you get more back pay. Appealing the Claim on a Federal Level Hopefully, the judge finds in your favor at this first hearing, but if not, you’ll need to appeal your claim on the federal level. If you’ve been working with an advocate, you’ll now need to hire a lawyer as an advocate cannot appeal on a federal district court level. This process is much like the original hearing, expect you’ll be presenting to the federal district court. Your lawyer may gather additional...

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Interested In Private Disability Insurance? What Should You Know?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although many Americans are aware of the importance of life insurance coverage (with approximately 44 percent of households carrying at least some coverage), the number of American households with short- and long-term disability coverage is much lower. The paradox of this coverage gap is most individuals are much more likely to suffer a debilitating injury than an untimely death — and such an injury can have a permanent impact on your long-term earning potential. Luckily, there are a number of short- and long-term disability insurance policies available. Read on to learn more about what these types of disability insurance claims will cover to determine whether they are a worthwhile addition to your portfolio.  What do short- and long-term disability policies cover? These policies are generally complementary — in many situations, the only coverage difference is the length of time for which you can receive benefits. Once your short-term disability coverage has been exhausted, your long-term disability coverage should kick in.   Short-term coverage In general, short-term disability policies will cover a portion of your salary (usually between 50 and 70 percent) while you are unable to work due to your injury or illness. If your policy is paid by or purchased through your employer, you may be required to use up paid sick days or other leave before you become eligible for short-term disability pay. Depending upon the specific policy and your state’s minimum coverage laws, you can expect to receive coverage for at least 10 weeks, but generally no more than 26 weeks (or 6 months).  You may also be subject to lifetime maximums. For example, if you receive 6 weeks of short-term disability pay after an operation, and then a few years later take 26 weeks of short-term disability after a heart attack or serious injury, you may be prevented from filing further claims under your policy. Not all policies have these maximums, but you should be aware of your policy’s specific coverage to ensure that you don’t do anything to jeopardize your receipt of future benefits. Long-term coverage Once you’ve exhausted your short-term disability coverage and it appears you will not be able to return to work soon, your long-term disability coverage should kick in. This insurance can include coverage for long-term care (such as a nursing home or assisted living facility) as well as payments to help supplement the loss of income that can result from a chronic illness or other disabling condition.  Like short-term disability coverage, long-term coverage can provide a portion of your salary for an extended period of time. Many long-term disability policies are designed to help bridge the gap in time between the onset of your illness or disability and your qualification for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments.  What about maternity coverage? Many short-term disability policies also cover maternity leave, and may even kick in before the baby is born if you need to be on bedrest or have another complicating condition. In general, you’ll be eligible for 6 weeks of paid short-term disability leave if you have a normal delivery, and 8 weeks or more if you have a c-section or other complications.  How can you purchase this insurance? Many employers offer short- and long-term disability coverage as a fringe benefit — similar to health or life insurance. Because employers are...

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When Incretin Mimetics Kill: What Bereaved Families Need To Know

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

People with type 2 diabetes commonly use one of several prescription medicines known as incretin mimetics. These drugs can help control the symptoms of the disease, but they can also cause serious side effects, and some type 2 diabetics have even died as a result of these medications. In some cases, the bereaved families of the victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Learn how incretin mimetics can kill, and find out what you need to do to file a lawsuit over your loved one’s death. How incretin mimetics work Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to process the sugar you need for energy. Type 2 diabetics may not produce enough insulin to regulate sugar in the body, or they may become resistant to the effects of the hormone. Over time, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, kidney damage and problems with the feet. Incretin is the hormone that tells your body to release insulin after food, which then lowers the blood sugar. Incretin mimics take the place of these hormones in your body, prompting your pancreas to produce more insulin. The drugs also stop the pancreas producing too much glucagon, which forces the liver to release stored sugar. When you use the drugs as part of an active, healthy lifestyle, incretin mimetics can effectively help people with type 2 diabetes keep up safe levels of blood sugar. FDA approval The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several incretin mimetics as a way to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients can receive these prescription medications under several brand names, but they all act in the same way. The FDA approved sitagliptin phosphate in 2006, and another form of the drug (sitagliptin/metformin hydrochloride) in 2007. People with type 2 diabetes account for up to 95 percent of all cases of the disease. With 29.1 million diabetics in the United States, this represents a significant part of the population. As such, doctors have prescribed incretin mimetics to millions of Americans, and the problem continues to grow worse. Side effects Some patients have developed pancreatic cancer after using incretin mimetics. Experts believe that this disease will become the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030. This type of cancer is difficult to diagnose, and spreads aggressively. Doctors also have few available treatments, and the five-year survival rate is only around 5 percent. Pancreatitis is another serious side effect that can occur in people who use incretin mimetics. The disease occurs when enzymes from the pancreas start to digest pancreatic tissue, instead of food in the small intestine. Chronic pancreatitis gets worse over time and causes permanent damage. Death from pancreatitis is not common, but the symptoms can kill. FDA response to reports of side effects In 2013, the FDA issued a drug safety communication about incretin mimetics. The FDA stated that they would investigate some research that suggests a link between these drugs and side effects like pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. The FDA had already issued a warning about reports of acute pancreatitis with some of these drugs, but this was the first time the organization had mentioned the potential risk of cancer. Incretin mimetics carry warnings on the...

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What To Do If Your Loved One Dies During Bankruptcy Proceedings

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Bankruptcy is designed to help people struggling with financial difficulties obtain a fresh start. Though it doesn’t occur often, sometimes petitioners pass away before the bankruptcy proceedings can be concluded. This can have unfortunate consequences for heirs if they don’t take action as soon as possible. Here is what you need to do if your loved one dies during active bankruptcy proceedings. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 The options available to you for resolving your loved one’s open bankruptcy depends on whether the person filed a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. A chapter 7 bankruptcy is simply a liquidation of assets and a distribution of funds to creditors. The petitioner’s presence is not required for the court to do this. Therefore, the bankruptcy will usually proceed as normal even though the person who filed the petition is deceased. If the person was married but his or her spouse was not included as a co-debtor, the surviving spouse will be allowed to stand in the person’s stead and speak on his or her behalf. For example, you will be allowed to attend the meeting of creditors and testify about your loved one’s state of finances. Once you obtain a bankruptcy discharge, you can continue administrating the person’s estate like normal. Things are not as simple, though, in chapter 13 bankruptcy cases because these proceedings require petitioners to make monthly payments to trustees. A deceased petitioner cannot make payments, which can lead to the case being dismissed by the court. Without a bankruptcy discharge, the debts will be considered still owing and creditors will attempt to collect from the estate and heirs. How to Proceed with the Chapter 13 Case There are a few things you can do to resolve a chapter 13 bankruptcy case where the debtor has died. The first option is to let the court dismiss the case. As noted previously, creditors can then attempt to collect from the estate. However, if the person is truly indigent with no money or assets, then the outcome is likely to be the same as if the person had filed a chapter 7. The other option is to request the court convert the case to a chapter 7 bankruptcy. This may be the best option for spouses who were also involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. If the deceased person was the primary breadwinner, the loss of income may be enough to convince the court to make the change. Even if you’re not a co-petitioner, you may still be able to get a chapter 13 bankruptcy switched to a chapter 7, but this option is not available in every state. You will need to consult with a bankruptcy attorney for information about and assistance with pursuing this option in your area. A third option is to petition the court to discharge the debts anyway based on hardship created by the debtor’s death. To qualify for a hardship discharge, the case must meet three provisions: The repayment plan cannot be modified The debtor is unable to continue making payments because of circumstances beyond the person’s control Creditors received payments totaling the amount they would have received had the debtor filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy If the court grants the request, all debts will be discharged, including debts that wouldn’t normally be eligible...

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Recovering Property Seized During Civil Forfeiture

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There are many laws on the books designed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. While these laws were developed with good intentions, some government agencies are exploiting the statutes to steal from innocent civilians. In recent months, law enforcement agencies have come under fire for abusing civil forfeiture laws to wrongfully seize millions of dollars in money and assets. If you’re the victim of civil forfeiture abuse, here is what you can do to reclaim your money and property. What is Civil Forfeiture Abuse? Civil forfeiture occurs when the government (or one of its agents) seizes money and property from citizens. This legal maneuver is typically used to cripple drug traffickers by taking money found during searches and busts. However, it has been used to hinder other forms of crime including prostitution and theft as well as to punish convicted criminals. Unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies have been using the law as a fundraising tool. People who have not been convicted of or charged with a crime have had their assets confiscated for dubiously legal reasons. For example, police seized $1 million from a woman during a traffic stop in 2012. The police took the cash because a K-9 unit indicated there were trace amounts of drugs on the bills, but that is true of the majority of currency in circulation in the United States. The woman had proof that the money was acquired in legal ways, but the police refused to return the cash. Mind you, the woman was not charged with or convicted of a crime, but she had to file a lawsuit against the police department to get her money back. She was also awarded an additional $39,035 to cover her legal costs. A Nationwide Problem Civil forfeiture abuses are not just limited to state agencies. The federal government has also stretched the limits of its authority on numerous occasions. The latest example involves a business owner who deposited money into her company’s bank account in small increments. The IRS seized all the money in her bank account because it believed she was trying to skirt reporting laws. Again, this citizen was never charged or convicted of a crime, but she still lost almost $33,000 to the tax organization. Getting Your Property Back It is unfortunate but true that the laws as they are currently written allow for this type of abuse. However, you can also use the law to fight back and reclaim your property. The best legal strategy for getting your property returned to you will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, the Constitution protects against illegal searches and seizures. If you can prove the agency violated your rights, then the courts may rule in your favor and return your assets. This was the outcome of a case involving the seizure of $28,000 from a California man by federal agents. The judge ruled that because the agents didn’t Mirandize the man or have a search warrant or the man’s permission to enter the home, the search they conducted was unlawful and the money was returned to the individual. Proving the agency’s allegations false is another way of winning back your assets. In the case of the woman who had $1 million seized, she was able to prove to the...

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Tips For Collecting Witness Statements After A Car Crash

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Whether you’re submitting a claim to your insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit against another driver, witness statements will be an integral part of your case. Witnesses to the accident can provide added support to your side of the events, which can increase your chances of winning your case. Here are a few tips for obtaining credible witness statements after you’ve been in a car accident. All Witnesses Are Not the Same Although you’ll want to speak to anybody and everybody who was present at the scene and saw the accident, not all witnesses will be helpful to you. You want people whose testimony the judge or insurance investigator will find credible. If there is any doubt as to the veracity of your witness’ statement, your case could suffer as a result. There are a number of things that can affect a witness’ credibility such as: Did the witness view the accident from the beginning? Were they in an area where they could see clearly? Were they paying full attention to the events or were they distracted by other things such as a crying child or talking on their cell phone? Have they been convicted of a crime? This doesn’t automatically disqualify the person as a credible witness but could throw the individual’s honesty into question. Is there a conflict of interest? For example, is the witness related to the driver? Was the witness impaired in some way? For instance, was the individual intoxicated or not wearing his or her prescription glasses? It’s important that you make note of anything that may negatively affect how the witness’ testimony is viewed so you can either find a way to minimize the impact the issue has on your case or discard the person’s testimony altogether. At the Accident Site During the immediate aftermath of the accident is both the best and worst time to collect witness statements. On the one hand, the events are fresh in everyone’s mind so the accuracy of recall will be high. At the same time, accident scenes are typically chaotic and people are more focused on tending to injuries and assessing property damage to give their full attention to discussing the crash. If there are injuries, it’s best to focus on getting medical attention and worry about collecting statements at a later time. If no one is hurt, though, then start talking to everyone at the scene. Use you cell phone or a digital camera to record statements from: The driver of the vehicle Passengers People who stop to help Nearby Road or utility workers If you don’t have a recording device, have the witnesses write down what they saw on a piece of paper. Be certain to get their signatures. It may be helpful to keep blank witness statement forms in your glove box just for this eventuality. If a person doesn’t want to give a statement at that time, at least collect the person’s name and phone number so you, your attorney or your insurance company can contact the individual for a statement at a later time. Be certain to get the contact information of the police officer at the scene so you can get copies of the police report and any witness statements the cop collects. Locating Other Witnesses There may...

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Suing A Restaurant For A Food Allergy Situation

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Living with a food allergy makes eating out somewhat more difficult, but if you’ve lived with this allergy for a while, you probably have a routine set up that helps you eat safely no matter where you go. Unfortunately, no matter how much effort you put forth, you may still end up eating something that you are allergic to. The results of this can be devastating in some cases, but you may be able to recover damages by suing the restaurant. Responsibilities of Restaurants More restaurants are taking steps towards learning about this subject, and many restaurants already have certain procedures in place to help prevent this problem from happening. Some of these things include: Offering a special menu or certain entrees for people with food allergies Educating cooks about prevention of cross-contamination and cross-contact Teaching servers about food allergies While many restaurants have policies for this purpose, there are still some that do not, and there are still times when situations occur when guests are served food that contains an ingredient they cannot eat. A restaurant is responsible for informing guests of ingredients in all items. They are also responsible for ensuring that they offer true and accurate information about ingredients. A restaurant should also take every necessary step to make sure that the guest is served the right plate of food. One thing a restaurant can do to protect itself is to post warnings. For example, if a restaurant uses peanut oil to deep-fry foods, it may want to post this on the walls and in the menu. Anyone with a peanut allergy would see this, and this would alarm the person of the risks of eating any food at this restaurant. What Happens When The System Fails If you take every necessary precaution to find out what ingredients are in a particular dish and end up being rushed to the hospital because the dish had something you were allergic to, you might have the right to sue the restaurant for this. There are many ingredients people are allergic to, but most food allergies fall into one of eight different foods. Some of these are fish, peanuts, and wheat. Health Central reports that approximately 150 people die each year from food allergies, but thousands of people are affected by food allergies every year. Challenges of Lawsuits While you have the right to file a personal injury case against the restaurant, the hardest part will be proving it. Proving that the restaurant caused your allergic reaction and that the restaurant is liable for this is the main challenge you will have. To prove this, you will need to hire a personal injury lawyer, like those at Meltzer and Meksraitis, that has experience with this subject. Your attorney will probably want to know what precautions you took to make sure that you did your part to avoid eating the wrong ingredient. Next, the attorney will look into the procedures the restaurant uses for ensuring that cross-contact of food is prevented. The best way to win a case like this is to prove negligence. Negligence is one of the main elements of personal injury law. In a food allergy case, negligence can occur in many ways, including: Customers being misinformed from employees Cooks preparing the wrong food and serving it to...

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Four Hazards In Your Office That Can Kill Or Hurt You: How To Be Alert And Stay Safe

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When you think about job safety and injury prevention, you probably picture someone driving a bulldozer, using a cutting torch or any number of other tasks that involve physical risk. However, if you work in an office, you may be surprised to know that there are a variety of things within your environment that can seriously harm or even kill you. Here are four specific hazards and how you can stay safe and healthy while working with and around them: Photocopier Photocopiers are among some of the most handled pieces of equipment in many offices, and many employees are accustomed to correcting paper jams, replacing toner cartridges and other simple maintenance tasks. However, copiers are complex machines, and they present hazards to workers such as: Toner particulates: Photocopier toner is made from carbon black, an organic substance that can cause respiratory irritation if inhaled. Modern machines used sealed cartridges, but there are some older copiers that require filling toner bins from an open source. Take extra caution such as a wearing a disposable mask when filling these machines. Also, keep copiers in a well-ventilated area; the microscopic particles released during the copying process are believed to cause significant air quality issues in some offices, and you can help prevent a build-up of irritants by keeping the air moving. Internal components: The various rollers, gears, levers, drums and other devices inside a copier can be hazardous if care isn’t exercised. Always follow jam clearing procedures exactly as provided by manufacturer manuals and on-screen instructions. Never open panels or doors that are not specified in documentation, and heed warning labels placed inside the machine. Some components become very hot and can burn you, and others can pinch or cut your fingers. Always see where you are placing your hands before doing so. Stapler Electrically-powered staplers can be a source of danger to your fingers and hands. Here are a couple of hazards to note: Desktop electric staplers: These machines typically use a paper sensor that triggers the stapling mechanism; however, if you are careless, your fingers can punctured by a staple if you get them too far into the mechanism. Never reach into the stapling area to remove a jam or stuck staple unless you have unplugged the device.  Staple guns: These staple guns are often used for mounting materials such as posters, bulletin board materials, etc. They pose a particular danger due to their lack of a backstop to catch staples. That means a staple can be easily driven far into your hands or fingers should you accidentally depress the trigger, and they can also potentially cause blindness should a staple be fired into your eye. Never dismantle any safety mechanisms that prevent accidental activation, and be sure that you unplug the stapler before performing maintenance or adding additional staples. Kitchen The break room may seem to be a safe place to get away from it all, but there are potential hazards lurking for the inattentive worker. Here are some specific concerns: Coffee makers: Coffee makers are a source of burns from scalding water or coffee. Be careful when filling a hot coffeemaker so that you aren’t burned by steam or splashing water. Additionally, an empty coffee pot can shatter if left on a hot burner, so always keep it...

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