Nov 25 2018

Basic Stages of Personal Injury Cases

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer the highest quality personal injury attorney services available in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. We’ve helped hundreds of clients with their cases over nearly 40 years in the field, from walking them through the basics of the procedure to aggressively negotiation fair settlements when appropriate.

For those who luckily haven’t dealt with such a case in the past, the process of a personal injury procedure can be unfamiliar. Let’s go over the simple stages of the process, which will vary depending on whether the two sides are or aren’t able to arrive at a settlement.

stages personal injury cases

Pretrial

To begin with, attorneys from both sides of the case will convene with their clients to find out their versions of the facts and what evidence is available. After this is done, conferences and motions may be held in front of a judge or magistrate, which can be requested by either attorney or even the court itself.

These meetings may be held for several reasons, including expediting some part of the case, discouraging any meaningless pretrial activities, improving trial preparation, or often to help bring along a settlement in the case.

Negotiations

After pretrial motions and meetings have been completed, both attorneys will convene for an important negotiation stage. This is where they will attempt to reach an agreement that both clients are okay with, which will allow a trial to be avoided and a settlement to be completed. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, over 98 percent of our cases are able to be settled before ever reaching a lengthy and often burdensome trial phase, getting our clients their due compensation without a drawn-out process.

Litigation/Trial

In cases where a settlement cannot be agreed upon, a trial will be needed. This will be held in front of just a judge in most cases, though certain localities allow either party to request a jury as well. The plaintiff presents their case first, followed by the defense. Witnesses can be called to help present evidence or facts, and can be cross-examined.

Settlement or Final Arguments

In cases where a settlement was reached during the negotiation stage, the litigation stage will be skipped and we’ll move directly toward finalizing the settlement. The proper documents will be signed, including the method and time period for fund disbursement.

For cases that go to trial, attorneys for both clients will give their final arguments. At this point, they will await the judgement from the judge or jury in the case.

Appeal or Post-Judgement Motions

Settled cases are done once the papers are signed, but trial cases may have a few post-judgement areas to consider. Attorneys for either side might appeal a non-favorable judgement, or may motion for a new trial based on a few different causes.

For more on the stages of a personal injury case, or to learn about any of our personal injury, car accident or wrongful death attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 12 2018

What To Do If You’re Hit by a Car

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, some of the most potentially dangerous personal injury cases we help clients with are those where a pedestrian is struck by a car.

Pedestrian accidents aren’t as common as car accidents, but they can be extremely dangerous and may leave victims deserving of significant compensation for their injuries and hardship – or may leave their estates in a similar position if the victim is killed.

Hit by a Car

If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident where you are injured but remain conscious and mentally aware, it’s vital that you follow a few important steps – both for your safety and to help your personal injury case if there is one. Here are some tips we can offer if you’re in this unfortunate situation.

Remain Calm

It’s totally understandable that after such an incident, your adrenaline will be flowing and you might be overwhelmed or emotional. Know that especially directly after the accident, the influx of adrenaline might make you feel like you’re fine even if you’ve been injured – take great care when moving around and do a visual assessment before trying to get up.
In addition, do your very best not to let your emotions get the best of you. Lashing out at the driver who hit you or anyone else will not help you at all, and in fact might detract from your case later on. Try your hardest to focus on the important details of the event and move forward in a responsible way until authorities arrive.

Move Away From Danger

As soon as you’re mentally and physically able, move yourself off the road and out of any danger. If you require it, ask for help from onlookers or whoever else is present.
Call the Police and Medical Staff
The moment you’re safely out of danger, call 911 and ensure police and medical staff are responding. It’s possible witnesses have already done this as well. Under no circumstances should you ever leave the scene of this accident before police arrive and get your statement, and this applies to the driver of the vehicle as well. You also should not attempt to treat any injuries yourself – rather wait for medical staff to arrive on the scene.

Personal Info

The driver involved in the accident should know this already, but if they don’t, firmly request that they stay at the scene until police arrive. Also request their personal information, including basic driver info, their insurance, and more. Never try to make them feel better by downplaying the incident or claiming you’re “fine” – it’s nice to be polite, sure, but these kinds of admissions might hurt your case moving forward.

Witnesses

If there are any witnesses on the scene, ask them to remain as well until police arrive and can get their statements. Witnesses who can corroborate your version of events may make or break your ability to receive damages from the offending driver.

For more on what to do if you’re hurt by a vehicle as a pedestrian, or for information on any of our personal injury or car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 05 2018

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

As some of the biggest vehicles on the road, accidents involving trucks and other big rigs can be some of the largest and most complex. This is particularly true if you’re injured in an accident involving a truck or commercial vehicle of any kind, which is generally defined as any vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or greater.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you’ve been in a truck accident and need an attorney to represent your interests. Our truck accident lawyers have been helping clients get their just compensation for over 35 years, whether the accident involved a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or some other type of commercial vehicle. Let’s look at three of the most common causes of these accidents, and whether or not you’re likely to have a good claim if you’re involved in an accident with one of these causes.

causes truck accidents

Driver Errors

The most common cause of an accident involving a truck or larger commercial vehicle is a driver error of some kind, and there are several different possible areas here. Some of these relate to the truck’s far larger turning radius, which makes it a very different type of vehicle to drive than a passenger sedan or even an SUV. This is exacerbated if trucks have trailers attacked to them.

In addition, some trucking companies subject their drivers to long hours – there have been some cases where those injured by a truck in an accident have actually been able to recover damages from the parent trucking company, rather than the driver themselves, when it was found that unreasonable driving expectations led to driver fatigue that may have caused the accident. But in other cases, aggressive or distracted driving by the driver themselves will leave them liable for your damages.

Weather Issues

Just like other vehicle types, bad weather can impact driving safety and can even cause accidents in some cases. But once again, this can be exacerbated for larger trucks, which don’t handle as well and are more prone to slipping and sliding once they lose control.

Whether or not you’ll be due damages if you’re injured in a truck accident caused by weather can be a bit more complex than other accident causes. If you can prove that the driver should have known the risks of extreme weather and should never have been driving to begin with, you might have a good case. But this isn’t always possible – contact our experts to find out what your options are here.

Mechanical Problems

In other situations, mechanical failures of some kind – such as a flat tire or worn brakes – may contribute to a truck-related accident. Liability here will generally come down to whether you can prove that the driver or trucking company should reasonably have known about these issues beforehand and taken steps to correct them; once again, our attorneys can inform you of whether you have a good case based on your specifics.

To learn more about this or any of our other personal injury or car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 20 2018

Important Facts on Drug Liability

The pharmaceutical world is a huge one, with remarkably high demand in many areas and companies that are notably ruthless about making their profits no matter what. This often leads to the rushed release of certain medications on the market, including those that are regularly prescribed to numerous patients, and this in turn can cause unsafe interactions, overdoses and even death or serious injury in some cases.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve helped many clients receive their due compensation after complications from prescription medications. This falls under product liability, which is a significant part of the personal injury world. Let’s look at all the important factors here, including what qualifies for these kinds of cases and what you should do if this happens to you.

important facts drug liability

Drugs and Personal Injury

If you’ve been experiencing unexpected or uncomfortable side effects from a prescribed medication, chances are you’ve called your doctor already to ask about these. The most common response here is to just ride it out – some drugs are like this, with a little time needed while the body adjusts to the new medication.

The problem is, these side effects that may seem normal in some cases might not be in others. They might have severe results, such as severe medical complications or even death in some cases, but it might be too late to totally ward off these complications. If this is the case for you, and either you or a loved one has been affected or even killed as a result of prescription drug complications, know that you have legal recourse available.

Types of Defects

With any product liability case, there are a few different types of defects that might lead to harm. These types are:

  • Design defect: A design defect refers to any drug with unsafe ingredients or an unsafe method of delivery for the target population. One prominent example that’s taken place on more than one occasion in the past is antidepressants designed to help with anxiety actually causing an increase in suicide rate among the population who takes them.

  • Manufacturing defect: In some other cases, the actual ingredients and delivery method of a drug are perfectly safe – but the manufacturing process itself has issues. Perhaps the production line where the drug is stamped is contaminated, or maybe the manufacturing plant received a batch of subpar ingredients.

  • Marketing defects: In still other cases, the design and manufacturing processes were just fine for a drug, but it’s marketed improperly in one of several ways. This could mean incorrect dosage or ingredient information on the bottle, or improper directions for taking the medication.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you think any of the above defects have taken place for your medication, resulting in harm to you, speak to a personal injury attorney right away. We can help you determine whether there’s enough evidence to prove liability, plus advise you on the proper steps to take as you move forward.

To learn more about this or any of our other personal injury lawyer services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 10 2018

Elements of a Settlement Release

With any personal injury case, the potential for a settlement is always present. Most cases tend to end this way rather than making it all the way to court, as it simply makes more sense for all parties involved unless there’s a serious dispute about the facts of the case.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys can help you determine if a settlement is the right way to go if you have a case pending. We can work with you to determine your damages sought, plus assess the position the defense is taking and decide whether a settlement might be best.

If you do end up settling, chances are you will be required to sign a release document that spares the defendant and their insurance company from any future claims against them for this same incident. It’s important to know all the elements that might be present in this release before you sign – here are some basics.

Release of Claims

The settlement releases the defendant, their insurance and any other parties from any further liability in this case. This includes all damages and losses, both past and future. Once signing, you will be forbidden from bringing these kinds of claims that are listed.

Indemnity and Hold Harmless

To take things a bit further, you may also have to indemnify and hold harmless the defendant from claims from outside parties attempting to take some part of the proceeds or profits in the release. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, health care and health insurance, court and attorney fees from third parties, and more. This is an acknowledgement that satisfying these claims and liens is your obligation.

Confidentiality

In many cases, a confidentiality clause will be included that prevents all parties from disclosing the release, terms or settlement amount. You’re instructed to only give bland responses such as “the matter is resolved” when asked about it moving forward. Be aware that exceptions to this clause exist when it comes to certain situations, such as when you’re speaking with your hired accountant.

Attorney Fees for Enforcement

Settlement Amount and Tax Implications

If any legal action is needed in the future to enforce any part of this release, you also agree that the prevailing party will be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

One area that will always be included in the release is the total amount of the settlement. This includes all losses, injuries and damages related to claims against the defending party. You will also be responsible for all taxes relating to these payments, including the local, state and federal levels.

Jury Waiver and Court Approval

The release also waives your right to a jury trial for any litigation related to this incident. In addition, certain cases will require a court order approving the settlement before the release becomes effective.

For more on what will be in a settlement release for a personal injury case, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 01 2018

Different Types of Distracted Driving

As cell phones and other in-car devices have become more common, so has the rate of distracted driving and accidents resulting from them. But while these devices understandably get a lot of the blame for these increases, there are actually several kinds of distracted drivers out there who are endangering others as they drive.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we can provide comprehensive attorney services if you’ve been injured in an auto accident featuring a potentially distracted driver. Let’s go over the different types of distraction that can cause distracted driving so you’re aware of all the possibilities here if you’re in an accident.

different types distracted driving

Visual Distractions

As the name suggests, visual distractions are those that take your eyes away from the road and onto something else, even for a brief period. It’s curious and a bit ironic that perhaps the single most common type of visual distraction is in fact a car accident on the side of the road – and yet, this kind of rubbernecking is exactly what often causes these accidents to begin with.

It’s vital for drivers to remember at all times that the most important thing to focus on is the road. An outside distraction may seem important in the moment, but it’s definitely not more important than your life or safety.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are a broad category that refer to any action that takes one or both hand away from the steering wheel or other driving mechanisms. Many visual distractions are actually manual distractions also – think of things like checking your cell phone or changing the song on your iPod. Not only do these actions require looking away from the road, they require the use of at least one of your hands.

There are others that aren’t necessarily visual, but they’re similarly dangerous. Eating, drinking, fixing makeup or hair, or reaching into the back seat for a variety of reasons are all good examples. Even if these don’t necessarily cause you to take your eyes off the road, they can still serve as distractions. And if you cause an accident while distracted in this way, you could easily be liable for damages caused.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are a bit more of a vague category, referring not to any specific event but rather to any loss of focus while behind the wheel. The most common example of cognitive distraction is actually dozing off or falling asleep, and some people have issues with daydreaming or staring into space. These areas can be tougher to prove during personal injury cases based on the trouble with ascertaining what a driver was focused on at the time of an accident, but they’re still dangerous and often result in serious incidents.

For more on the kinds of distracted driving, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Sep 27 2018

Wrongful Death Versus Homicide

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, one of the areas we’re most proud of is our wrongful death services. We have a fantastic 98 percent success rate in getting surviving victims their maximum compensation, and you can rest assured knowing you have a wrongful death attorney fighting for you.

We regularly see bits of confusion from clients when it comes to the details of a wrongful death case. Many simply assume that, like homicide or manslaughter, it’s a criminal charge tried through the criminal court system – in reality, this is not the case. Wrongful death is part of the civil tort system. What does that mean, and what are some of the important differences?

Who Files

The biggest up-front difference between wrongful death and a homicide case is who files the charges. Criminal acts like murder, manslaughter and other homicides are brought by a prosecutor, then tried by a criminal court system at this prosecutor’s behest (barring a settlement, that is).

On the flip side, wrongful death cases are brought voluntarily by a plaintiff. These are most commonly surviving family members of the deceased looking to get due compensation for the death.

Amount of Evidence

The different court systems these areas are tried in come with very different levels of evidence required. Criminal cases require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” – this is a high burden of proof that allows for no doubt left in the mind of a jury. Attorneys in this realm use evidence and witnesses to attempt to make this case to the jury.

With a civil case, though, the bar for proof is lower. The plaintiff’s goal is to prove that the defendant is liable based on a “preponderance of evidence,” which simply means that most evidence must point to the defendant being responsible for causing an avoidable death.

Due to these differing levels of proof, wrongful death cases are more likely to succeed than homicide cases. Some families who don’t get the verdict they want through the criminal justice system will find it later through a wrongful death case.

Statute of Limitations

Another big difference between wrongful death cases and homicides or other criminal charges is the statute of limitations. With very few exceptions, major crimes like murder or homicide have no statute of limitations – they can be investigated and tried at any point in time, regardless of how long ago the event took place.

Wrongful death cases, though, often do have a statute of limitations. In Utah, this statute requires that wrongful death claims be filed within two years of the death, or within one year if the claim is being filed against any government entity.

For more on wrongful death cases versus homicides and other criminal charges, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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Sep 12 2018

Basics of Slip and Fall Accidents

As those who have experience in the legal field will know, personal injury is a wide category that contains a number of different possible circumstances. There are a number of different ways one can be injured or experience harm due to negligence or liability on the part of another person or entity, and we’re lucky to live in a system that allows people to be justly compensated when this happens.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we have a personal injury lawyer available to you regardless of your specific injury or issue. Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident or through some other cause, we’ll represent you aggressively and help you get the compensation you’re owed – almost always without the hassle of a trial, too.

One type of personal injury that’s more common than you might think? Slip and fall injuries, which cause over 1 million hospital visits every year that often come with significant resulting costs. There might be times where a fall you sustained was simply your own fault and there’s nothing that can be done, but in other situations, your fall and resulting injuries may have been caused by negligence. Let’s look at some steps to take and important information if you think your slip and fall was caused by negligence of an outside party.

Immediate Steps to Take

Some of the most important moments for your potential personal injury case will come directly following the injury itself. Make sure to immediately seek medical attention for any injuries, and to also notify the manager or entity in charge of the property so they can fill out an accident report. Make sure you get records of each of these things.

One important note: Even if you don’t feel major pain at the time of the accident, you should still take the steps we just listed. Some medical symptoms may not show up until later, and even if they don’t, documenting the fact that you sought this attention could be important for your case.

Proving Property Liability

To receive compensation for a slip and fall injury, you have to be able to prove that the property owner failed to create a safe environment. This might mean a restaurant with wet floors, for instance, or a hardware store with blocked aisles or falling products. You have to not only prove that these conditions existed, but that management either knew or should have known about them.

For this reason, a few different evidence types may be used:

  • Incident reports from the scene
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Photo or video evidence available
  • Documentation such as bills, reports, emails or others that help prove management was or should have been aware of possible dangers on the property

Statements and Information

One important note here: Like in many other kinds of personal injury cases, you have to be careful about who you talk to in the immediate aftermath of the accident. You should speak to medical professionals and any law enforcement, of course, but be cautious beyond this. Any statements you make can be used against you, and some insurance companies will preemptively try to contact you to get you to make statements that they’ll then attempt to use to limit their own liability.

Our best advice: Once you’ve spoken to the proper first responders, immediately contact the offices of William Rawlings & Associates for a personal injury attorney. To learn more about slip and fall accidents or any of our other personal injury services, contact our offices today.

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Sep 03 2018

Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we specialize in personal injury cases of all kinds. Whether you’ve been in an accident, injured by a dog bite or harmed in a number of different ways where another party may be liable, our personal injury attorneys will help you get the compensation you deserve by law.

This includes walking you through the entire process of a personal injury case, plus helping you avoid any factors or behaviors that might detract from your case. One such possible detractor in today’s modern age? Social media. How could this be the case, you ask? Let’s look at how the wrong uses of social media can cost you the successful completion of your personal injury case, plus some precautions to take to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Privacy Entitlement

There’s an unfortunate reality we often find when it comes to Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media: Many users of these services seem to think they’re entitled to far more privacy than what reality actually dictates. Virtually anything you put online through these networks can be found, including posts, pictures, messages or shares.

There have been numerous instances recently of private online information becoming exposed – even if you think your messages to friends are only for them, this might not be the case. In general, you should simply assume that anything you’ve put online can be discovered.

Social Media and Proving Suffering

Within the world of personal injury cases, the above information has some direct consequences. Defense attorneys and insurance companies will absolutely use information posted on social networks to help poke holes in your case – we’ve seen this torpedo more than one personal injury case in the past.

Consider a basic example where you were injured in a car accident by a driver you’re claiming was negligent, one you’re attempting to receive compensation from for your injuries. You claim serious back pain that’s preventing you from working and obtaining wages…but then just a few days later, you post an Instagram video of you playing basketball at the gym. Insurance companies or defense attorneys are absolutely within their rights to use this post against you during trial or out-of-court negotiations, and this could dramatically lower the compensation you end up with if it’s proven that your injuries or hardship are far less than what you claimed.

Steps to Take

There are a few basic steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you:

  • Privatize all your social media accounts, or at least narrow down who is allowed to see and share your posts.
  • Ask friends and family to refrain from posting anything with or about you while your personal injury case is ongoing.
  • Think carefully about every single post you make, even if it’s supposed to be private. If you’re unsure, don’t post it.

For more on preventing social media from torpedoing your personal injury case, or to learn about any of our car accident, dog bite or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Aug 20 2018

Wrongful Death Versus Homicide

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, one of the areas we’re most proud of is our wrongful death services. We have a fantastic 98 percent success rate in getting surviving victims their maximum compensation, and you can rest assured knowing you have a wrongful death attorney fighting for you.

We regularly see bits of confusion from clients when it comes to the details of a wrongful death case. Many simply assume that, like homicide or manslaughter, it’s a criminal charge tried through the criminal court system – in reality, this is not the case. Wrongful death is part of the civil tort system. What does that mean, and what are some of the important differences?

Who Files

The biggest up-front difference between wrongful death and a homicide case is who files the charges. Criminal acts like murder, manslaughter and other homicides are brought by a prosecutor, then tried by a criminal court system at this prosecutor’s behest (barring a settlement, that is).

On the flip side, wrongful death cases are brought voluntarily by a plaintiff. These are most commonly surviving family members of the deceased looking to get due compensation for the death.

Amount of Evidence

The different court systems these areas are tried in come with very different levels of evidence required. Criminal cases require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” – this is a high burden of proof that allows for no doubt left in the mind of a jury. Attorneys in this realm use evidence and witnesses to attempt to make this case to the jury.

With a civil case, though, the bar for proof is lower. The plaintiff’s goal is to prove that the defendant is liable based on a “preponderance of evidence,” which simply means that most evidence must point to the defendant being responsible for causing an avoidable death.

Due to these differing levels of proof, wrongful death cases are more likely to succeed than homicide cases. Some families who don’t get the verdict they want through the criminal justice system will find it later through a wrongful death case.

Statute of Limitations

Another big difference between wrongful death cases and homicides or other criminal charges is the statute of limitations. With very few exceptions, major crimes like murder or homicide have no statute of limitations – they can be investigated and tried at any point in time, regardless of how long ago the event took place.

Wrongful death cases, though, often do have a statute of limitations. In Utah, this statute requires that wrongful death claims be filed within two years of the death, or within one year if the claim is being filed against any government entity.

For more on wrongful death cases versus homicides and other criminal charges, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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