Defamation as Personal Injury

A tort is a wrongful act, and while it is not necessarily a crime, civil sanctions can be brought to bear against the actor depending on the circumstances. The term personal injury in the US is most often associated with physical forms of injury resulting from negligence such as a drunk driving accident resulting in serious injury or death.

Personal injury is also most commonly linked to slip and fall cases (premises liability) and defective drugs (product liability). But in all the cases mentioned above, a personal injury claim is based on the resulting bodily harm, and the compensation is computed based on the actual costs related to treating the injury, losses associated with a death, and everything in between including emotional distress as well as pain and suffering.

However, personal injury may also be non-physical, such as damage to one’s reputation through defamation. Defamation is defined as any spoken or written statement that negatively affects a person’s reputation, leading to economic losses and emotional distress. Defamation comes in two forms: libel (written form) or slander (spoken form).

For example, if a local business owner is accused by a client of fraud on Facebook, this may be considered defamation if it is not true, and the business owner sustains losses from the publication of this accusation, then the business owner may bring a personal injury suit against the client. However, while libel is considered more serious than slander, it is nevertheless quite difficult to prove. This is mostly because one of the elements of a defamation case is that the defendant acted with malice.

When considering filing a defamation lawsuit, consult with a personal injury lawyer to see if the case is eligible. Keeping in mind that as in most tort cases in the US, the laws may vary from state to state, choose a law firm in the area.

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A Donated Kidney Gone to Waste

With at least 118,617 people waiting for organ or tissue donations annually in the US, this makes every donation a life-saving act. With to the scarcity of donors, however, about 18 people die every day due to failure in acquiring the organ that is also much needed by patients nationwide.

Due to the severity of the medical blunder wherein a good, viable kidney was accidentally thrown in a waste can, a lawsuit was filed against the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) in Ohio by the Fudacz family. The scenario of the case involved Paul Fudacz Jr., 21 years old, who donated his kidney to his 24-year old sister Sarah, in August of 2012. Diagnosed with late-stage renal failure, Sarah was deeply relieved after finding out that her younger brother, a perfect match, was willing to donate the kidney that she badly needed.

The team at the UTMC, where the surgery was performed, included surgeon Dr. Michael Rees and two nurses, Judith Moore and Melanie Lemay. Records showed that Lemay, who took charge as Moore went on a lunch break, failed to update Moore upon her return regarding the status of the surgery. Unaware that the donated kidney was still contained in the slush machine, nurse Moore mistakenly emptied its contents even before the surgery was finished.

The doctors found out about the accidental disposal of the kidney already two hours after the incident and since their attempt to resuscitate the biowaste-contaminated organ proved unsuccessful, they decided against using it, but consulted with Sarah’s family and told them of another possible compatible donor. The needed kidney was found in Colorado three months after; during which, Sarah had to undergo dialysis treatment, extending her suffering and causing her, her brother Paul and the rest of the family deep worry and stress.

Despite covering Sarah’s travelling costs to Colorado where she had a successful organ transplant, the Fudacz family filed a medical negligence case against the hospital. Meanwhile, Judith Moore resigned within a month after the incident, while Melanie Lemay was dismissed from her job.

Miscommunication, or the lack of it, is one of the reasons why medical mistakes take place. There are other reasons why surgical mistakes happen, more complicated ones, but miscommunication is definitely one issue that can easily be solved with enough diligence on the part of all concerned.

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Ridin’ Safely – The Motorcyclists Dilemma

By now, it should be a no-brainer to avoid driving while intoxicated. Despite widespread initiatives to educate the public about drunk driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that around 10,000 people die from alcohol-related automobile accidents annually. That’s equivalent to twenty jets crashing every single year.

The recent Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative for police to crack down on drunk drivers and reduce these statistics lasted from August 16 through last Labor Day weekend. The experiment was a success: 695 arrests were made during the two weeks, and due to this success, similar initiatives are planned for the holiday season.

Although changes like these are encouraging, drunk drivers are still on the roads, and still a major safety concern, especially for motorcyclists. Bikers simply don’t have the advantage of being protected by a seat belt and a massive metal box in the event of being hit by a drunk driver.

Motorcyclists should always practice defensive riding. However, in the event of being hit by a reckless or intoxicated driver, motorcyclists should always get the financial compensation they deserve. The law firm of Houston lawyer Ali Mokaram comments on its website that one of the most frustrating parts of being involved in a motorcycle accident can be trying to claim financial compensation from an insurance company. Some companies purposefully do their best to cheat victims and pay the minimum amount.

Furthermore, cyclists may also experience prejudice against them in the event of fighting for financial compensation after being hit. Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A.,  points out on its website that juries may be biased against motorcyclists – even if the other party was entirely at fault.

Complications for motorcyclists involved in accidents may never fade, but it’s always smart to know your options and consider seeking legal representation if you or a loved one ever ends up in one of these situations.

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Texting and Driving: A Deadly Epidemic

Driving is rarely considered a huge risk. Millions of people commute back and forth from work every day without a second thought. In fact, the only case in which driving is widely considered a danger is in the middle of the night, because of drunk drivers. However, some people simply don’t make it home safe due to cell phone related distractions such as checking email, receiving a phone call, or texting. Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® state on their website that although some car accidents are simply an unavoidable mishap, most wrecks can be blamed on negligent actions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting and driving is six times more dangerous than drinking and driving. The NHTSA also states that you are 23 times more likely to crash if you text while driving. However, the practice simply hasn’t reached the same level of social stigma as drinking and driving. In fact, 34 percent of teens openly admit to texting while driving, according to Clearly, younger generations simply don’t see texting and driving as a serious danger.

Despite the widespread social acceptance of texting and driving, the law is cracking down. According to “New Jersey court: Texting with a driver can get you in trouble, too,” an article in the LA Times, New Jersey appeals court ruled that if someone texts a person who gets in an accident shortly after receiving that text message, they can be held accountable for the damage. In this case, there must be proof that the person doing the texting knew that the recipient was driving.

In any case, victims of texting and driving may benefit from gaining legal representation.

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Slip and Fall Accidents

Most people trip and get back up instantly, unharmed. However, some may experience recurrent medical issues or may even die from complications after falling.

When a slippery liquid or a misplaced object trips someone in public, the victim or the victim’s family may be entitled to compensation. In general, it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that the land or building is safe for others. However, determining if the property owner is at fault may be complicated. Laws on the subject are somewhat vague, and it is vital to prove the “reasonableness” of the property owner’s actions. If a property is not examined or cleaned regularly, for instance, and someone falls on a puddle caused by a leak, then the property owner may be held accountable for any consequent injuries. On the other hand, if that leak started the morning of the incident, the property owner may not legally be at fault.

Victims in most states must also prove that they were not being careless or clumsy. For example, if someone was sending a text message at the time of the slip, they may be held partially accountable for their own injuries.

According to Hach & Rose, LLP, a law firm in New York City, some common causes of slip and fall accidents include slippery flooring, bad lighting, or deep cracks in sidewalks. These are things that can and should be avoided; some cases of wrongful death have occurred where a victim dies from a fall due to someone’s negligence.

When someone has experienced injury or death from a situation that should have been avoided, it may be wise to seek legal representation.

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The Drug Dilemma: Is Your Medication Helping or Hurting?

When we think of harm from drugs, the first thing that comes to mind is often drastic misuse of the treatment; perhaps we picture an addict, or someone who drinks excessively with their medication. However, that isn’t always the case.

The process for getting a drug approved is complex and layered; in fact, it takes an average of 12 years to get a drug approved from start to finish. Each new medication is taken through a lengthy process of pre-clinical research, studies, and review before being cleared. Still, faulty – or even seriously dangerous – medications are getting through the Food and Drug Administration’s process and ending up on the market. Recently, many prescription drugs have been shown to have dangerous effects beyond their listed warnings.

Among them is Reglan. It’s meant to treat acid reflux, but it is also prescribed to expectant mothers experiencing nausea or morning sickness. A post from the Williams Kherker law firm in Houston, Texas, warns that this medication (also referred to as metoclopramide) may cause movement disorders such as Tardive Dyskinesia and Akathisia; victims may also experience Parkinson’s symptoms. It’s estimated that more than 2 million individuals have taken this medication.

This isn’t the only case of cures that may have hidden side effects. They aren’t always in the form of a pill or an injection; the website of the Williams Kherker law firm warns about a hernia patch by AlloDerm, a synthetic skin graft introduced by LifeCell. After 2000, many patients that were treated using the patch reported symptoms such as swelling, pain, abscesses, and severe – even life-threatening – infection. Some were forced to undergo more surgery to correct the damage.

Other than taking medications as prescribed, nothing can be done to avoid dangerous side effects. However, it may be advantageous to seek legal representation in the case of harm caused by medication.

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