There are two fundamentally different types of court cases -- criminal and civil. A criminal case arises when the government seeks to punish an individual for an act that has been classified as a crime by Congress or a state legislature (i.e. D.U.I., theft, murder). A civil case, on the other hand, usually has to do with a dispute over the rights and duties that individuals and organizations legally owe to each other. Many times an incident may give rise to both criminal and civil penalties for the same series of events.
In a criminal case a prosecutor (the State), not the crime victim, initiates and controls the case. The prosecutor may file criminal charges even if the victim doesn't approve, or refuse to file criminal charges despite the victim's desire that criminal charges be filed. This method of beginning the case contrasts with civil cases where the injured party is the one who gets things started.
Penalties for being convicted of a criminal charge typically can include jail, a fine, probation, or some combination of the three. In a criminal case the burden is on the prosecution (the State) to prove that the individual charged with the criminal offense is guilty of all elements of that offense "beyond a reasonable doubt". If you have been charged with a criminal offense an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine your situation and evaluate your options.
Personal injury lawsuits are filed by people (or their representatives) injured due to the fault of someone else. The injury may be either physical or emotional, and it can arise from a variety of sources or types of conduct. Some of the most common types of personal injury cases include slip and fall, automobile accidents, assaults and battery, medical malpractice, and product liability. In general, the goal of a personal injury action is to determine who was responsible and to compel the responsible party to compensate the injured person for the losses sustained.
A catastrophic injury or illness usually occurs suddenly and without warning. Injuries that are considered catastrophic, due to the enormous impact they have on the lives of the individuals who experience them, include the following: brain injury, spinal cord injury, accidental amputation, severe burns, multiple fractures, or other neurological disorders. Management of such an injury is complex and requires the expertise of a team of health professionals including physicians, consultants, nurses, therapists, and counselors. Individuals may recover from some catastrophic injuries if they receive proper, early medical treatment; however, others may experience permanent disability, significant suffering, and reduced life spans.
If someone's wrongful actions caused injuries that resulted in your loved one's death, that is a wrongful death. At common law, there was no legal action that surviving family members could take. That changed, however, when governments began to make laws protecting survivors. Now, in every state in the US, the representative or heirs of a person lost to wrongful death may file a lawsuit for monetary damages. The laws, however, vary greatly from state to state, so consulting with an attorney is advisable.
Medical malpractice occurs when a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient. Negligence by a medical professional could include an error in a diagnosis, treatment or illness management. If such negligence results in injury to a patient, a case could arise against the doctor if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice; against the hospital for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing care; or against local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.
Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients' rights to pursue compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. However, malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. While theoretically, you can seek compensation for any injury caused by negligence, regardless of its seriousness, time and money make it unrealistic to sue for an injury that is minor or heals quickly. Therefore, if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consult with an attorney who can help you determine whether your claim is worth pursuing.
Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, largely because of other drivers who share the road with motorcyclists. The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler represents motorcycle riders who are injured in spills, crashes and collisions because of the negligent actions of others, or dangerous driving conditions that should have been addressed.
A traffic accident involving a large commercial truck can have disastrous consequences. A typical large commercial truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds, while an average automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Because of the sheer size of trucks, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries. The trucking industry is also heavily regulated by both federal and state agencies. The federal regulations can be found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. §§ 350-399). These regulations govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic. An experienced lawyer can explain these regulations, explain how they may apply to your truck accident case, and help you determine whether you have a valid claim.
Railroad Accidents (FELA Injuries)
The Federal Employers' Liability Act:
In the early 1900's, Congress enacted what has become known as the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA). The name is misleading as the act only applies to employees of railroad companies engaged in interstate commerce who are injured on the job, and not to employees of the federal government.
FELA created a system whereby injured workers can receive legal compensation for their injuries. It provides a uniform liability standard for working conditions and employee safety on the job. FELA requires railroad companies to provide employees with a reasonable safe workplace (equipment, tools, safety devices, etc.) and ensure employees are properly trained, equipped and supervised.
Negligence Under FELA:
The burden of proof in a FELA claim is known as a "featherweight" burden, it is less than the burden in an ordinary negligence claim. A FELA plaintiff only has to show that the railroad was somehow negligent, and that such negligence, no matter how small in its relation to the injuries suffered, played some role in causing the plaintiff's injuries. Railroads may also be held strictly liable for violating federal standards pertaining to workplace safety, e.g., Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, the Boiler Inspection Act, the Safety Appliance Act, etc. The worker must only show that the law in question was violated and that he was injured as a result.
Dog Bites or Animal Attacks
Although animal-attack claims most commonly involve dog bites, many other types of domesticated animals, such as ferrets and cats can bite or attack humans. An owner's liability for injuries caused by his or her pet, if any, can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury claims is an excellent source for accurate advice and information if you have been injured in an animal attack.
Slip and Fall
Premises liability law involves the legal responsibilities of property owners and occupiers to prevent injuries to persons on their property. One of the most common causes of such injuries is a trip or slip and fall, such as on an icy sidewalk, a loose or uneven stair tread, or a piece of debris or spilled liquid on the floor. Property owner liability can vary depending on where the incident occurred. An experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate the strength of your premises liability claim.
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