Jul 17 2020

Determining Liability in Watercraft Accidents, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on watercraft accidents and how injury liability is often assigned in such cases. While many boating and other watercraft accidents are similar to car accidents in some ways, there are also several circumstances that are a bit different as you look to determine fault and see if you have a case for damages.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys cover a huge range of potential case types, from auto accident injuries to numerous others, including boating incidents. In today’s part two, we’ll go over a few additional circumstances for boating accidents or injuries and how liability will be assigned based on them.

determining liability watercraft accidents

Submerged Object

In some cases, particularly if there are hazardous conditions like fog or otherwise poor visibility, boating accidents may take place when the craft hits a submerged rock, a coastline or some other object in the water that could not be seen. In such situations, liability will come down to specific circumstances.

For instance, was the boat operator aware of the conditions and operating appropriately, such as slowing down and using nautical charts? If so, they will likely avoid liability – but if not, and if they were operating the craft improperly based on obviously hazardous conditions around them, they could be held liable for injuries and damage.

Improper Safety Equipment

In cases where injury occurs to boat occupants as the result of a lack of proper safety equipment, such as lifejackets, vests and floatation devices, liability is usually pretty straightforward: The operator of the craft is responsible. This person is in charge of ensuring such safety equipment is present for all boat occupants before leaving land.

Impairment

One area of boating accidents that’s extremely similar to car accidents and other vehicles is impairment. It is illegal in all 50 US states to operate watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; an operator who is found to be under such influence while causing an accident or injury of any kind will almost certainly be held liable in personal injury suits, plus could be charged criminally for DUI or a similar count.

Maintenance and Hazards

Finally, there are some cases where operator error is not involved at all in a watercraft accident or injury situation. Many boats are rented for temporary use – commercial businesses who offer such rentals are responsible for proper maintenance and ensuring watercraft they rent out are safe to operate. If an accident or injury occurs as a result of a failure to perform these duties, such businesses or individuals may be liable. Similar realities are at play within product manufacturers for new watercraft.

For more on how watercraft accidents work in terms of liability and personal injury, or to learn about any of our auto accident injury or other personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jul 10 2020

Determining Liability in Watercraft Accidents, Part 1

The summer period is one where many like to get out on the water and enjoy themselves, including those who enjoy watercraft like boats, jet skis and others. At the same time, just like any type of motorized vehicle, care must be taken while using these items – and a lack of such care could lead to liability concerns for personal injury cases if accidents take place.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, we’re proud to offer a variety of personal injury attorney services, including for cases involving watercraft and related accidents. In this two-part blog series, we’ll dig into a number of areas to be aware of here – common boating accident types and how fault is often determined for them, how resulting liability cases may go and much more.

determining liability watercraft accidents

Similarity to Vehicle Accidents

For starters, it’s important to note throughout any liability case involving an accident with watercraft that such cases often contain many of the same factors as auto accidents and their resulting cases. Things like speeding, recklessness and inexperienced operators are common underlying causes of accidents, as are issues of driving while under the influence.

At the same time, there are other types of issues that aren’t really too similar to a vehicle accident, and these may be handled differently. Our upcoming sections will look at a number of potential issues that fit in both categories, plus how liability is often determined in such cases.

Boat Impacts

Perhaps the most common and well-known type of boat-related issue, and one that’s definitely similar to a vehicle accident in many ways, is a standard collision. These aren’t as common as car accidents due to how wide open most lakes and other bodies of water tend to be, but they still do take place from time to time.

Who is at fault in such incidents? Like with car accidents, the answer depends. Both boat operators will be at some degree of fault in certain cases, or there may be others where a single one is at fault – incidents of motorboats hitting sailboats are good examples, as the motorboat owner is generally held liable.

Wake and Waves

Another type of boat accident involves a boat hitting another boat’s wake and sustaining damage as a result; the same may take place with large waves that were not caused by any boat. In such cases, several factors will be considered in determining liability, including the speed and size of the boat that caused the wake (if one exists), visibility, traffic and whether the operator warned passengers about the wake in advance.

For more on watercraft collisions and related liability concerns, or to learn about any of our auto accident injury or other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Jul 03 2020

Understanding Trampoline Park Injury Stats and Liability

Particularly in states like Utah, with unpredictable and sometimes extreme weather, the popularity of indoor trampoline parks has exploded in recent years. There are over 800 such parks in America, up from under 100 just five years ago, and while these bring entertainment and fun in most situations, they also come with some non-trivial injury risks.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys have assisted with numerous cases of injury or accident liability for trampoline parks. While such parks try to cover themselves with liability waivers, there are many situations where these do not properly cover certain hazards or conditions, and participants may have robust claims for injuries or damages sustained. Here’s a quick primer on the dangers involved with trampolines, plus some stats on trampoline park accidents and some important information to know on park liability waivers.

trampoline park injury liability

Types of Injuries

There are several specific injury types that are a significant risk when it comes to jumping on trampolines, including each of the following:

  • Minor sprains and strains
  • Fractures or dislocations or bones – over a third of reported trampoline injuries involve broken bones, per the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Significant spinal cord damage

Trampoline Park Statistics

Trampolines in any setting pose dangers, but those in trampoline parks have been found to carry additional risks even beyond these standard concerns. This often stems from the fact that this industry is completely unregulated – there are premises liability laws these companies have to follow, yes, but that’s about it. Collisions, landing issues, falling or jumping off the trampoline, and even landing on springs are all concerns.

A couple notable statistics on trampoline parks and accidents:

  • Trampoline park incidents lead to over 7,000 emergency room visits per year
  • Trampoline park injuries are 1.7 times more likely to require hospital admission and a longer stay compared to home injuries.
  • Roughly 75% of all trampoline injuries involve two or more individuals jumping on the same trampoline at the same time, a common circumstance in trampoline parks.

Liability Waivers

As we noted above, trampoline parks will attempt to shield themselves from liability by having all visitors sign liability waivers. These are meant to cover the business in case of injury.

And in some minor injury cases, such waivers will hold up. Patrons who experience strains or sprains based on hazards they were well aware of and chose to take part in anyway often won’t be able to file a claim against the business.

However, there are also many cases where the park will be found negligent even despite these waivers – incidents like improperly maintained equipment, hidden hazards or related issues that lead to major injury. In addition, there are also many states that do not allow minors to sign away their rights, even with a parent signing; in such cases, injuries to kids under 18 often lead to liability cases against the business even if a waiver was signed.

For more on trampoline parks and accident liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury or wrongful death attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 19 2020

Important Actions After a Workplace Injury, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the immediate actions to take if you’re injured in a workplace accident or incident. These cases may be handled a bit differently from many other personal injury types, with possible claims coming either from the employee in question, the employer, or sometimes even both.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help with a wide variety of cases, including workplace incidents. In today’s part two, we’ll go over several additional steps to take as you move forward with a potential liability claim here, including several factors that are important if you’re filing certain worker’s compensation types.

important actions workplace injury

Appointments and Symptom Tracking

We talked about seeking medical assistance in part one, and this also may involve certain follow-up appointments or sessions. These should be attended no matter what, especially if they’re providing documentation and evidence of how you’re recovering from injuries sustained during the incident.

Now, doctors and nurses are busy individuals whose jobs mandate they focus mostly on the most severe symptoms for patients. This means they may not necessarily record every symptom you’re feeling, particularly more minor ones – but this does not mean you can’t track your own symptoms. Use a phone, computer or another diary format to record and provide evidence of any such symptoms.

Formal Grievance

In any case where you believe you have been injured due to poor workplace conditions, you will work with your personal injury attorney to file a formal grievance against the employer. Such conditions may include defective equipment, hazardous and unmarked areas or several others.

Record Losses and Expenses

During the course of the post-accident proceedings, it’s vital for you to keep records of a variety of related financial areas. You’ll need to record all losses you’ve suffered due to the incident, including expenses – lost wages, money spent on out-of-pocket treatments or any other areas.

This information is often vital in winning your claim against the employer. It helps the court define the specific damages you’ve undergone due to the incident in addition to specific injuries.

Request Documents

At certain points during this process, there may become a need for you to request pertinent information – whether from the employer or another agency related to the incident. There are several legal documents that may play a role in a given worker’s compensation claim, for instance. This is one particular area where a personal injury attorney will assist you significantly, as we have years of experience with document and information requests from various entities.

For more on what to do after a workplace injury, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 12 2020

Important Actions After a Workplace Injury, Part 1

Different personal injury types will involve very different steps and requirements from victims as they attempt to receive compensation for injuries or damages, and a great example here is anyone who sustains an injury in the workplace. Those in such situations are often highly stressed – not only do they have to think about their injury and its impact, they also may be concerned about their job or the prospect of filing an injury claim with their employer.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to help. Our personal injury attorneys handle a wide variety of case types, including assisting those involved in workplace injuries or accidents. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over a number of steps you should take after such an incident, from ensuring your own health and safety to taking the proper steps in case a liability claim comes out of the injury.

important actions workplace injury

Medical Attention

First and foremost, both for your own well-being and to potentially bolster a liability case later on (if applicable), you should seek immediate medical attention after a workplace accident, particularly for any serious injuries. If anyone in the facility is certified in First Aid, they can aid in this process until other medical staff arrive. All workplaces must keep a First Aid kit present.

If you’re not sure about the severity of your injuries, do not hesitate to seek further attention. Attend an urgent care center or emergency room as soon as possible.

Inform Employer and Colleagues

Within reason after seeking proper medical attention, notify your supervisor or a member of company HR that you’ve sustained a workplace injury. Know that at this point, they are licensed to file a report with the OSHA. It is illegal to fail to report a workplace injury to your employer. If your employer has an accident book, common in many workplaces, it must be updated – if not, you may have a claim to file against management.

In addition, you should inform colleagues of the accident. This is especially important if there are no witnesses of the incident itself – making your situation clear is important if the employer wants to open an investigation or you choose to file a worker’s compensation claim.

Document Evidence

Record and collect all possible evidence of the incident, including photos or videos if possible. If witnesses were present, ensure you speak to them and record statements. This will be valuable if you choose to file a claim later on.

Trusted Colleague Assistance

Before leaving the office, ask a trusted colleague to keep you updated moving forward. This may relate to areas like changes to work policies, removal of dangerous equipment or other impacts related to your accident.

Call an Attorney

Either at this point or well before it, you should contact one of our personal injury lawyers if you’re considering filing a worker’s compensation claim. We’ll walk you through the vital factors involved and whether you have the requisite needs for a claim.

For more on how to respond after suffering a workplace injury, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident injury services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 05 2020

Modern Drone Usage and Injury Liability, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basics on modern drone usage and how to operate a drone safely and without risking liability. Drones are pieces of technology used for a variety of personal and commercial reasons, but like other mechanical items, they can cause damage or other forms of injury and must be used carefully.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to handle a wide variety of personal injury cases, from common types like auto accident injury to rarer cases, including drone-related injuries or privacy concerns. While part one was mostly focused around safe and responsible drone operation, today’s part two will dig into some of the possible liability claims that can be brought in cases involving improper use or manufacturing of a drone.

drone usage injury liability

Injury and Negligence

Perhaps the most common personal injury claim type related to drones traces back to simple injury that takes place due to a consumer operating a recreational drone unsafely or without proper care. While we use the term “simple” here, these injuries can be significant and even severe in some cases.

Now, proving liability of a drone operator in such a case is not the same as proving such liability for car accidents or other events. Drone usage isn’t regulated in the same ways, and its generally high skill level means there may be debate on what qualifies as negligence to a court. In any case where drugs or alcohol are involved, however, negligence will be easy to prove.

Premises Liability

In many situations, the location where a drone is being used is actually the key factor at play in a given liability case. Is the drone being operated on private or public property? Because drones move to other locations, however, did the injury or incident occur on private or public property? Each of these will require different approaches based on local rules.

Product Liability

In other cases, manufacturers of drones will be held liable if they produce defective products that lead to injury or other issues. This can be the case for both recreational and commercial drone types. Such cases tend to proceed similarly to other forms of product liability, where if the plaintiff can prove the product was clearly defective – usually a pretty cut-and-dried scenario – they will likely be awarded damages.

Invasion of Privacy

Finally, many drones come outfitted with cameras or other recorder types. These can be useful tools, but also may create significant privacy issues when used in the wrong ways. In some situations, this can lead to civil claims of invasion of privacy against the person operating the drone.

For more on the kinds of personal injury claims that may arise due to improper drone usage or manufacturing, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Apr 28 2020

Car Insurance Importance and Selection Themes

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, our single most common case type when providing personal injury attorney services to a variety of clients is a vehicle accident. Our auto accident injury attorneys have assisted numerous clients with receiving just compensation when injured in a car, truck, motorcycle or other vehicle accident at the fault of another party.

One of the most important factors at play during such situations and resulting liability suits: Car insurance. Insurance companies will play a central role in nearly all such incidents, whether we’re talking about your insurance, the insurance of the party who caused an accident or any other situation. In today’s blog, we’ll go over the basics of why you need car insurance, some basic requirements and factors we recommend you consider while selecting it, plus some detailed data compiled by Consumers Advocate on many of your top car insurance company options out there today.

car insurance importance selection

Basic Insurance Benefits, Themes and Selection Factors

Car insurance is important for anyone who drives a vehicle to maintain, both for your own protection and in cases where you are involved in an accident or any kind of on-road incident with another driver. Not only are you leaving yourself open to potential financial exposure and major related issues if you are driving while uninsured, you are almost certainly breaking at least one state law and may be arrested as a result (and on the flip side, most insurance policies carry coverage to protect you against uninsured motorists).

It’s important to note that anytime you move, and often when you change vehicles, you should consider shopping for new insurance coverage. Even if you haven’t left the state and are just moving to a new city or area, your rate may change in major ways based on these tweaks to your daily life.

State Requirements and Expression Formats

As we noted above, car insurance is generally a legal requirement, one regulated by the state you live in. Each state has created its own set of guidelines for minimum requirements that must be held by all drivers in that state, and you’ll usually see this broken down into three numbers with slash lines between them – a common such expression would be something like 200/400/50. Here’s what each of these numbers represents:

  • 200: The first number refers to the cost per person for bodily injuries, with the number multiplied by 1,000 – in this case, 200 means $200,000 of coverage
  • 400: Cost times 1,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • 50: Cost times 1,000 per accident for property damage

Thorough Insurance Company Reviews

While you should take the time to compare and shop between various insurance companies anytime you need new coverage, there are many resources out there to make this process easier for you. One such resource is this data compiled by Consumers Advocate, which uses detailed information on various insurance companies and their pricing, discounts, customer experience, automation and overall financial strength to help you differentiate between many of the most popular insurance companies out there.

For more on car insurance and why it’s so important, or to learn about any of our auto accident injury attorney or other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Apr 03 2020

Modern Drone Usage and Injury Liability, Part 1

While the majority of personal injury cases brought in the United States center around a few common areas, such as vehicle accidents and various forms of property or premises injury liability, there are also many brought in fairly unique areas you may not have even considered. Some such areas revolve around recent advances in technology, and one specific piece here has made some waves in the personal injury world in recent years: Drones.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer personal injury attorney services for a wide variety of case types, including more unique and modern technological areas like drones. In this two-part blog series, we’ll dig into everything you need to know about using a drone safely and in a way that does not risk liability, plus what might happen to those who do not heed these warnings.

drone usage injury liability

Regulations and Usage

As we noted above, drones and related regulations are all relatively new to society. In fact, the first national set of regulations for drones was not brought until December of 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration required that all drone owners begin registering their drones.

This was due to several problem areas with drone misuse and annoyance. Not only have there been privacy issues raised, which we’ll get into later in this series, there have been major safety risks, including near-misses with drones almost striking passenger airplanes. There have also been concerns with first responders, wildlife and even illegal smuggling risks.

Injury Liability

Likely the most common risk drone operators must be concerned about during the usage of their drones is causing serious injury to themselves or another person. While details in terms of negligence here are still being worked out in courts and precedents are still being set, those who do not take the proper safety precautions are often held liable for such injuries.

Safety precautions include a variety of areas, to be clear. They refer to basic training and understanding on how to safely operate the drone, plus on areas of use and off-limits locations.

Drug or Alcohol Influence

One area nearly all states have attended to already with regard to drone operators is operation while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Most states treat this similarly to vehicle restrictions in this area, including many that use the same blood-alcohol level as the threshold for us. Drugs and other substances are also covered under such rules, which often carry similar or identical penalties to traditional DUIs.

For more on drone operation and liability risks, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident injury attorneys, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Mar 26 2020

Physical Therapy Telehealth Programs During COVID-19 Outbreak

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our hearts go out to all those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in our society. Our team of personal injury and auto injury attorneys is available via phone, video conferencing or email to assist you with any legal questions or needs you may have, and we remain committed to serving our clients during this difficult period.

One group of our clients who might be particularly concerned during this period is those who have recently been in a car accident or any other type of traumatic injury event and require physical therapy as part of their treatment. Social distancing practices have made concepts like physical therapy much more difficult given the general need for in-person services.

However, numerous regulatory bodies, from the US government to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), have taken major strides toward relaxing regulatory restrictions and allowing for telehealth services – or services carried out over the phone, for those unfamiliar – to fill much of this void. Today’s important blog will go over some of the flexibility areas here that relate to physical therapy, including how you can still receive the beneficial services you need during this difficult time via phone and online methods.

physical therapy telehealth COVID-19

CMS Flexibility Areas

For starters, CMS and other agencies have implemented numerous relaxations of existing health standards to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the primary such actions here, at least as it pertains to physical therapy and telehealth, is the temporary waiving of Medicare and Medicaid requirements for that out-of-state providers hold licenses in the state where they’re providing services. This allows those who require physical therapy to have many more outlets available to them in terms of telehealth, as they can work with providers from other states if needed.

And while certain minor areas of physical therapy are not possible over the phone, most can be approximated fairly easily. Video-calling technology makes it easy for a therapist to view a patient’s range of motion or give them various stretches and exercises to perform, and checking on pain symptoms becomes a matter of individual reporting.

Physical Therapy and Telehealth

Now, it should be noted that the government actions did not specifically speak to expanding Medicare coverage to include telehealth services for physical therapy. But many individuals have reported varying circumstances here, and payment processes for commercial insurers will vary.

For this reason, we highly recommend contacting your insurer, whether Medicare or another, in advance of procuring such services. Doctors and therapists will also have gone through this process, which involves various site regulations and other factors.

Ethical Areas

Know that if you choose to participate in these forms of telehealth for physical therapy or any other health area, all the same ethical codes and practices are in place as would have been previously. All healthcare professionals must account for biological, social, psychological and cultural needs of the patient while working to improve their health. In addition, HIPAA requirements are not altered and must be met in the same ways, meaning you will have no privacy or related concerns in this realm.

If you’ve recently been injured and require physical therapy, we highly recommend utilizing these and other resources available to you – including contacting physical therapists in your area to find out which programs are available. To learn more about this or any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Mar 13 2020

Schools, Child Injuries and Liability Claims, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on schools and child injury liability. When children are injured or otherwise harmed on school grounds, it’s important for parents to understand how potential liability and negligence claims are made – against not only the school but possibly other parties as well.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to help with a wide variety of child injury cases, including those sustained while on school grounds or during school programs. In part two of our series, we’ll go over several specific areas of school liability here, plus certain cases where schools may be exempt or protected from injury liability.

schools child injuries liability claims

School Preparedness

As we touched on in part one, it’s the responsibility of teachers and other school staff members to care for the students who are in attendance during school periods. This includes many areas, but the broad theme stays the same: Preparedness to prevent students from being harmed or harming one another.

This refers to everything from proper hiring practices and staffing requirements to the individual responsibility of each staff member on a daily basis. Such daily responsibilities include all reasonable efforts to maintain student safety. School administrators will be expected to carry out background checks and other proper hiring processes when bringing in new staff members; failure to do so may result in claims against the school if something goes wrong with a staff member who was not properly vetted.

Negligence and Foreseeability

Down similar lines, many cases of injuries that take place on school grounds end up being decided from a liability standpoint in terms of how foreseeable, or predictable, they were. If your child’s school had clear evidence that there were safety issues with a given staircase on the premises, for instance, but failed to take the proper steps to repair these issues, the school would almost certainly be held liable if a child was injured on that staircase.

In other situations, it could be harder to prove negligence or foreseeability. Playground incidents are a common example – certain elements might not have been repaired anytime recently, but did this actually cause an injury, or was the child being too reckless?

Exceptions to School Liability

There are several cases where schools may be excepted from liability for a child’s injury on their premises, including:

  • Non-school hours or events: Many schools make their property available for non-school uses on weekends or outside school hours. If people are injured during such events, schools typically are not liable.
  • Organized sports: Both for outside sports and those sponsored by the school, children participating (and their parents) accept standard risks and usually cannot sue the school for negligence or liability if the child is injured during play.
  • Public schools: While public schools are not exempt from liability cases, there can be some significant red tape involved in them. Many school districts have immunity from certain kinds of liability, though there are detailed rules involved here and there are many cases where public schools can indeed be held liable for negligence.

For more on schools and child injury claims, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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