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Archive for March, 2014

One Facebook Post Cost This Girl’s Family $80,000

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

If you’ve watched a courtroom drama, then you probably have some understanding of a confidentiality provision. In many lawsuits and settlements, part of the agreement between parties is that the details and consequences of the proceedings are to be kept confidential. Basically, if a private entity decides to settle with you over a claim, they may attach a provision that disallows you from speaking about the case. While this is usually only employed in drastic circumstances, Patrick Snay, the former head of Gulliver Preparatory School, learned the hard way that you can lose everything you’ve won if you break the agreement.

Age Discrimination, European Vacations, and Facebook

facebook website

Photo by Spencer E Holtaway

When Snay’s 2010-2011 contract was not renewed by Gulliver Preparatory School, he filed an age discrimination lawsuit. To keep the matter out of court, the school agreed to pay Snay $80,000, plus $60,000 to his attorneys, and $10,000 in back pay. All he had to do was keep the news to himself. Unfortunately, Snay’s daughter had to share the good news and posted the following message for her 1,200 followers on Facebook: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Back in Court

facebook mobile

Photo by Simon A

Attorneys for Gulliver swiftly sent a letter to Snay explaining that he would not be receiving the settlement because he and his daughter had broken the confidentiality provision. Snay took the case to a circuit court, who enforced the settlement. But after an appeal by Gulliver, the Third District Court of Appeals in Florida decided that Snay had deliberately violated the confidentiality provision and voided the agreement.

While Snay has found work at another preparatory school in Florida, he never received his $80,000. All because of one comment on Facebook. For more information on confidentiality provisions or for a qualified personal injury attorney, contact us today.

Featured image by Karpati Gabor

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steering wheel

Driverless Cars: Who’s Liable If Nobody’s Behind the Wheel?

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

For decades, engineers have been working to develop cars capable of navigating roadways on their own without the need for drivers. Thanks to a recent explosion of interest in driverless technologies, autonomous cars are finally poised to hit the streets in the near future.

Nevada is one of four states in the country that has already passed laws permitting self-driving cars on its roadways. With news outlets reporting that the vehicles could be introduced by 2020, questions are emerging about their potential impact on the procedures and laws currently governing traffic safety and behavior. One particularly pressing question is how the law will asses liability when self-driving cars get into traffic accidents, especially if the driverless vehicle is responsible.

driverless car

Photo by Melody Joy Kramer

As of now, liability is determined by assessing behavior according to the “reasonably prudent person standard.” This legal concept is the basis for establishing negligence, or fault, in an accident. The law dictates that whoever caused a given collision by failing to exercise reasonable care is guilty of negligence, and should be held liable for any damages that result. A driverless car, which is operated by artificial intelligence, can’t be held to a reasonable person standard and can’t be held liable for negligence.

Who’s To Blame?

This presents a problem for future personal injury victims hurt by self-driving vehicles. If autonomous cars can’t be sued for damages, then who will cover their costs? Some have speculated that the owners and manufacturers of these autonomous cars could become defendants in such cases. Since driverless vehicles depend on humans to build, program and maintain them, and any mistakes they make could be construed as arising from human error in the form of product defects, insufficient upkeep or improper use of control settings.

Others have problems with speculation that autonomous car manufacturers plan to utilize the same radio spectrum as Wi-Fi signals. This raises the potential for disruptions in communication between a car and its satellite, as a result of nearby Wi-Fi use. Could it be possible for individuals using the Internet to wind up paying damages to accident victims?

It’s impossible to know yet exactly how the law will determine liability when driverless vehicles start populating roadways. As their release date gets closer, however, lawmakers and insurance carriers will likely begin to clarify at least some of the basics. In the meantime, we can wait, watch and dream of the day when enduring rush hour will be our car’s job and not ours.

Featured image by zabmo

Parents: You Can Be Held Liable For Your Teenager’s Bad Driving

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

Making decisions about whether your teenager is ready to take on adult responsibilities isn’t easy. Unfortunately, judges and lawmakers are often as perplexed as you are about when to treat teenagers like adults and when to treat them like children. This is especially true when it comes to driving. As the parent of a teenager, it’s critical that you take time to understand how laws governing teen driving and parent liability can affect you.

Drivers License -Teen driver

Photo by State Farm

If you’re a Nevada resident, you are legally responsible for any “negligence or willful act of misconduct” your teenager commits while operating a motor vehicle, as long as they’re under the age of 18. This means that if your teenager gets into a car accident and it’s their fault, you and your auto insurance company can be held liable for any and all damages that result.

Nevada is one of a small handful of states that uses driver’s license applications as a basis for imputing liability to parents when minors are involved in collisions. When you sign your teenager’s application for a learner’s permit or driver’s license, you assume responsibility for their behavior on the road.

States that impute liability to parents, but don’t consider driver’s license applications, rely on one of the following two approaches to determine who’s responsible for negligence on the part of a minor driver.

Negligent Entrustment

According to this legal theory, a parent who lends their car to a minor, knowing the child is incompetent, reckless, or inexperienced, may be held liable for any damages that occur as result of the minor’s negligence.

Negligent entrustment is also used to hold car owners responsible for lending their vehicles to any individuals, including adults, they know have a history of reckless driving, are currently intoxicated or are likely to become intoxicated while driving their car. According to his section of the theory, a parent who caught her son drag racing a week ago or knows her daughter’s going to a party involving alcohol would be liable for damages if she allowed her car to be used and an accident occurred.

Family Purpose Doctrine

In some states, the family purpose doctrine is used to hold a parent financially liable for accidents that take place while their teenager is using a family car. According to the family purpose doctrine, someone who purchases and maintains a car for general family use assumes responsibility for negligent driving on the part of any family member using the car.

Parents and teenagers tend to regard the issuance of a new driver’s license as a major milestone in a teen’s path to adulthood and self-sufficiency. Talking with your teenager about the responsibilities and risks you assume when they drive is a good way to clarify to your teen that, until they’re 18, the two of you will need to work together to make positive, safe decisions about driving

If your teen has been involved in an auto accident, it’s important that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney. The legal issues affecting teenage drivers and their parents are complex and changing rapidly. Don’t try to navigate them without expert help.

Featured image by rhonda_jenkins

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Do I Need A Lawyer? 5 Cases Where The Answer Is Always Yes

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

After an accident, many people are hesitant to contact a personal injury lawyer. But when you’re going up against an insurance company, there are a number of reasons why a personal injury lawyer is necessary. Here are five particular cases where not contacting a personal injury lawyer can hurt you in the long run.

1) A Permanently Disabling Injury Or Long-Term Injury

Handicapped Parking Sign

Photo by William Ross

An injury from an accident can impact you for over a year, and in unfortunate cases, the rest of your life. It’s often difficult to determine the amount your injury should rightfully be compensated. To get the most you can out of your claim, it helps to have assistance from an experienced lawyer.

2) When You Are Severely Injured

The amount you are compensated for your injuries is often determined by the type of injury, the total cost of your medical bills and your recovery time. As your potential compensation increases, so does the range of the amount you may be compensated. A knowledgeable lawyer can ensure you receive the higher amount in which you can be compensated.

3) If You Have Been Exposed To Toxic Chemicals

corrosive toxic

Photo by John Bell

Claims you’ve been exposed to a toxic chemical are difficult to prove and often require scientific data. Chemical industries skillfully protect themselves from legal exposure by making the evidence required to prove your exposure difficult to attain. In this case, it helps to have a lawyer that is familiar with toxic chemical lawsuits.

4) When Your Insurance Company Refuses To Pay

Sometimes your insurance company may refuse to make a fair settlement agreement. A qualified personal injury attorney has experience sticking up for the little guy and can get the most out of big insurance companies.

5) When It’s A Case Of Medical Malpractice

doctor in hospital

Photo by Juhan Sonin

The legal rules regarding medical malpractice can be very abstruse. It’s useful to have an experienced lawyer with a lot of experience in medical malpractice cases working for you.

In general, having a legal expert on your team as you recover from an accident will not only make for a healthier financial outcome, it can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort.

Featured image by phototogo2

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