What are punitive damages?

You do not have to be a lawyer to understand the basics of personal injury law. In fact, of all the different types of law, I truly think that personal injury is the easiest to understand! The ease of understanding is most likely caused by injury being something to which most people can relate. Compare that to topics like constitutionality or intellectual property!

However, there are still concepts important to personal injury lawyers that are not easily understood without some intense research. One topic, punitive damages, is pretty important to know about as an average citizen because it might affect a potential lawsuit you might pursue after being injured by someone.

Luckily for you, I have done a lot of research on personal injury law, broadly, and punitive damages, more specifically:

The purpose of a personal injury case

Because punitive damages are so closely related to personal injury law, it is best to first understand the general purposes of a personal injury lawsuit. In most situations, people sue others for personal injuries in order to earn compensation to cover medical bills, health costs, or other financial damages incurred as a result of an injury.

Some additional financial damages that many people do not initially think of in these situations is something like lost wages or potentially-lost benefits. If a person is unable to work because they are recovering from an injury — or if they are disabled as a result of an injury — then one purpose of a personal injury lawsuit could be to recoup those losses. A person’s financial status ought to never be dramatically worsened because of the negligence or damages caused by another.

Punitive damages explained

On the other hand, as Portner Bond, PLLC discusses on their website, an additional benefit that a judge or plaintiff might pursue in a personal injury lawsuit is punitive damages. These are meant to disincentivize — a nice way to say punish — the extremely negligent behavior that a person engaged in, that caused the victim’s (or plaintiff’s) injuries.

While this might seem harsh, using the judicial system to persuade the public’s actions not only makes sense but is done every day. The main reason people do not speed is not because of safety concerns, but because of the fear of a speeding ticket. So pursuing punitive damages against someone might make it so that the person does not commit the negligent or reckless actions again.

When punitive damages are used

If you still feel that punitive damages are harsh, the silver lining is that only rarely do judges or plaintiffs seek to pursue this form of restitution. Other forms of incentives (like compensation for medical bills) are more commonly used in personal injury cases. But for particularly egregious or reckless behavior, punitive damages are a good means of motivation.

What is a Personal Injury Case?

A lot of people can pursue personal injury cases but don’t because they are unsure of the qualifications. You may be entitled to compensation and not even know it!  That’s why I’ve crafted a handy list of everything you need to know about personal injury cases.

First, it’s important to understand what qualifies as a “personal injury” in a court of law.  In order to pursue a case, you must be sure that the injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence and that you are not at fault.  Once you have established that you are not responsible, you will have to examine the severity of the injury. Insurance companies will pay out the most money for serious, permanent injuries.  You will likely not receive as much money for a soft tissue injury (whiplash etc.) as a serious injury (a herniated disk or a broken spine). Regardless of the injury, you should still pursue a lawyer, like Ocala Personal Injury attorney, Gordon Glover to discuss the specifics of your case.

There are multiple damages that may be paid out to you as compensation for your injury.  Some of the most common fees that you can be reimbursed for is any medical bills that you incurred for treating your injuries, lost wages due to an inability to work, any mental or emotional suffering that resulted from the accident, a diminished life, or any accommodations from a disability.  There’s no reason that you should have to pay medical bills for something that wasn’t your fault. That’s why you need an attorney like this one I found, Gordon Glover.

Even if you have sustained a larger injury, you will have to convince the court that the injuries you received are indeed from your accident and that they did in fact impact your ability to lead a normal life.  There are multiple avenues you can take in terms of evidence, including keeping pay stubs or getting a letter from your employer vouching for the lost time you could have worked. You might also need police statements about what occurred and receipts from any medical care appointments that you might have needed.  Remember, the more evidence you can obtain, the more likely you are to receive a larger settlement.

After you’ve classified your injury and gathered evidence, you’ll need to determine how you want to go about receiving your financial compensation.  There are two main paths you can choose from: filing a personal injury claim and filing a personal injury lawsuit. A claim is something you file with the insurance company, while a lawsuit is when you take legal action against a civilian.  Choosing between the two often depends on the severity of your injuries and how much compensation you are pursuing. The claims process is less complicated than a lawsuit. All you need to do is notify your insurance company and allow them to walk you through the process. A lawsuit, on the other hand, requires a personal injury attorney and is usually used when you exceed the max compensation provided by your insurance.

How to Beat Law School – Maybe it’s the Snoring!

I have a friend that is in law school. For those who don’t know, law school can be pretty demanding. He would be up all night reading contracts law, criminal law, and civil procedure for the following day. He’d go to class the next day exhausted but still be forced to learn. The strange thing was that he always made sure that he got seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Despite this, he always felt tired throughout the day. He says that his tiredness certainly hindered his ability to learn effectively.

I remember after his first year of law school, I suggested that he try to get some extra sleep, say nine hours. He tried this, but he still felt tired. In fact, not only did he feel tired, but he also felt a little groggy from perhaps getting too much sleep. I encouraged him to eat healthier. My friend was particularly fond of a “study beer” now and then. I told him to replace this with water, and to try to incorporate some more fruits and vegetables into his life. Again, he tried this, but to no avail. I could not possibly figure out what was wrong with him. It seemed like the guy was getting enough sleep, and that he was eating healthy enough, yet he constantly felt exhausted. I did feel bad for him, but after one night, I realized that while my friend was getting “enough” sleep, but he was not getting enough “good” sleep.

My friend was in town one night, and he spent the night on my couch. The morning after he spent the night, I walked into the living area to get some breakfast while my friend was still sleeping. As I approached the living room, I heard a sound grow louder and louder. I walked into the room and noticed that my friend had been snoring loudly. When I say “loudly” I mean that he shook the entire apartment with his snoring.

When my friend finally woke up, I told him about his snoring. He was surprised that he had been snoring that loud, and in fact, he seemed to not believe me at first. After some more convincing, he finally believed me. I told him to go to his doctor to see if there was anything he could do to treat his snoring. I’ll admit, I did not want to hear it again! But besides my selfish reasons, I felt that maybe his snoring related to his daily exhaustion.

Eventually, he found out that he had a condition known as sleep apnea. As this article explains, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that disrupts an individual’s sleep. Individuals with this condition will unpredictably stop breathing during sleep, which means that the body is not getting enough oxygen. Fortunately, this condition is very treatable, and treatment yields excellent results. My friend is telling me that law school is going better than ever before!

There are Fewer Divorces Each Year

People just aren’t getting divorced like they used to. Believe it or not, the number of divorces has been going down in America for a while now. Despite the long-held semi-truth that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce, the numbers aren’t bearing that out lately.

The reasons are numerous. For a while, experts thought the younger generations just wouldn’t get married. With financial crises and low incomes for young people, it seemed likely they would just continue with the long trend of cohabitation and kiss marriage goodbye.

The numbers for marriages, however, have also been on the rise lately. It seems those millennials finally decided to tie the knot after all. And because they waited longer, their divorce rate is going down steadily.
So everyone is getting married and no one is getting divorced anymore. Are we living in a perfect marriage-friendly society all the sudden? Why didn’t we all get a card in the mail informing us of that fact?

Well, the reason is that, of course, we don’t live in such a society. There are still plenty of divorces taking place around the country (around 800,000 a year, in fact) to keep the divorce lawyers happy. And now, with international business and travel becoming more common, there is a whole new field for potential divorce: international divorce. That comes up when people from different countries want to separate after ill-advisedly saying “I do” in the first place.

International divorce is particularly tricky because the laws aren’t all uniform. There’s been an attempt to make a universal law to cover everyone everywhere who wants to get away from the love of their lives—it’s called the Hague Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations—but the U.S. has never signed on (it was agreed to in 1970), so those rules don’t necessarily apply here. Besides, U.S. divorce laws often come from the state instead of federal level. All the better for the lawyers, of course.

Despite this new glut of potential clients for the hardworking lawyers out there, divorce numbers are still going down all over the place. Since those millennials married later, they married better, and are more likely to stay together. With the economy improving, even with the average income remaining a bit stagnant, the numbers are likely to continue to drop.

Besides, that 50% divorce rate was always something of a fallacy. The truth is, most people stay married. Those who do divorce, however, tend to divorce multiple times, making the rest of us look bad. The problem is, the figures aren’t really that clear anyway. Some states don’t report divorces at all, and it’s not always clear if a divorce is the first or twenty-fifth.

So, it all comes down to this: when it comes to divorce, we were never as bad as we thought we were, and anyway, we’re getting better every year.

Construction Sites Accidents: Fires and Explosions

We can all agree that there are some workplaces that are more dangerous than others, like how construction sites present more hazards compared to, say, an office building. According to the website of the Oklahoma City accident lawyers at the Abel Law Firm, construction site accidents account for about 20% of fatal work injuries and 10% of non-fatal work injuries in the U.S. Considering that there are many hazardous workplaces out there, taking 20% and 10% of the chunk of deaths and injuries is troubling.

Hazards

Some of the many accidents that can happen in construction sites are fires and explosions. Employers should make sure that their workplaces are safe from these hazards, but employees should also rely on common sense and safety measures to prevent accidents involving fires and explosives. Below are some of the hazards they should look at:

  • Chemicals, other combustible and flammable substances, and their containers
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Electrical systems, and the possibility of malfunctions
  • Explosives like dynamites
  • Tools, equipment, heavy machines, and the possibility of malfunctions

Injuries

There are a lot of possible injuries that can be sustained in a fire or explosion. There is the most obvious one – burns. The website of The Benton Law Firm has classified burns depending on where you have sustained them, from first degree burns and hot metals and fourth degree burns and electric shock – either danger is present in a construction site.

Other injuries include traumatic ones, mostly sustained from the blast of an explosion and victim hitting an object or getting hit by an object. The most dangerous traumatic injuries involve the brain and the spinal cord.

Liability

What makes construction site accidents and injuries so devastating is the fact that employers have the responsibility of keeping safety on the workplace, so in a perspective, the hurt workers are merely victims. There may be legal options available for these workers, especially if it has been proven that the employer’s negligence, recklessness, or incompetence, is the reason behind the accident.