Workplace falls from height are the leading cause of private sector worker death in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 39 percent of construction fatalities in 2016. They’re also among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports worker injuries and illnesses are down drastically from nearly 11 percent of workers in 1972 to nearly 3 percent of workers in 2016, there are still dangerous risks anyone working from a substantial height faces.
Workplace falls from height include incidents like the following:
- Falling off ladders
- Plummeting from scaffolding
- Being struck by an object from above, then losing balance and falling off another object
- Cascading off a roof or vehicle
- Falling into a hole in the floor or a wall
Any fall from 6 feet or more can cause serious injury, but even falls covering fewer distances can cause broken bones, cuts, head injuries and more. Here’s a look at what to be aware of concerning workplace falls from height, what to do if you experience this type of situation, and when negligence may be to blame for your fall.
Causes of Workplace Falls from Height
Any time you’re working high off the ground, it’s vital to be aware of the risks you incur. One of the top preventable causes of workplace falls from height is a lack of training. If you ever feel uncomfortable with the amount of training you have before working from a significant height, voice your concerns to an employer. You should never be forced to do work you are uncomfortable with.
As you’re working above the ground, keep these other risk factors in mind:
Inadequate edge protection: If you are not properly secured to a harness that can protect you in a fall, and there is no edge protection, you could slip off the edge and plunge.
Poor securing of flooring or objects: If what you are walking on is not stable and secure, you might fall or slip off the flooring. Objects above you that are not properly secured and that may fall on your could also cause you to fall.
Vehicle movement: If you are scaling a vehicle, and the vehicle starts moving without warning, you could fall off it. A moving vehicle could also cause you to collide with another object and fall off.
Weather: A 2016 study of falls from height found weather conditions are one of the most common factors in falls. Inclement weather like windy or rainy conditions can exacerbate risk factors.
Protect yourself in situations where a fall is a risk factor by wearing slip-resistant shoes, helmet equipment and protective clothing. Always make sure any equipment you use has been tested first to ensure it’s in proper working condition.
What to Do If You Fall at Work
If you experience a fall at work, call for help, and don’t move because you may be injured. Get medical attention immediately. Try to take a mental note of what you were doing before the fall, what the conditions were like, and what happened immediately after.
You will want to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. The insurance firm of your employer will handle compensation for medical bills and money lost from time missed off work.
Sometimes, the compensation you are offered is much lower than you deserve, or a workers’ compensation claim may be turned down. When an employer’s negligence is to blame, getting help from a workers’ compensation attorney may be wise. OSHA’s outline of fall protection states that employers must install fall protection at elevations at 4 feet or higher depending on the work environment. Employers should also guard holes, provide guardrails and toe-boards around elevated flooring, provide safety harnesses, and more depending on the work situation.
If you suspect adequate protection was not given to you while working, and you sustained a serious injury after a fall, contact an attorney. The statute of limitations prevents workers from filing a lawsuit after a certain amount of time, so it is best to get a free consultation as soon as possible from an attorney. Workers’ compensation claims don’t necessarily account for pain and suffering, or psychological damage incurred from a fall. An attorney can help you get the full compensation you deserve.
Need Help for a Serious Fall from Height Injury?
If you have experienced a serious injury from a fall, the team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums may be able to help. We specialize in workers’ compensation issues and offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
When a sourpussed cat is in the courtroom, things are bound to get interesting.
Grumpy Cat who’s real name is actually Tardar Sauce is the lovable and actually not so grumpy feline who inspired a million memes in 2012 and beyond. He was recently involved in a commercial lawsuit that resulted in a $710,000 settlement to her owner, Tabatha Bundesen. According to the plaintiff, Grenade beverage company exploited the name and likeness of the famed feline in product lines that included beverages and T-shirts. The plaintiff alleged she had never agreed to let her beloved kitty be used for the products.
How It All Started
In 2013, Grenade owners Nick and Paul Sandford created an agreement with Bundesen’s Grumpy Cat Limited, her company promoting her cat, to sell a line of Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino iced coffees. Two years later, Grenade started selling a line of Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee, which was not part of the deal. Grumpy Cat Limited sued, seeking damages for copyright infringement, infringement and dilution of trademark, and domain name exploitation.
Perhaps one of the most grin-inducing commercial litigation complaints to be read, the complaint states, “Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about.” The lawsuit also sought royalties for profits made off the cat’s likeness.
The Battle Wages On
Since entering litigation, Grumpy Cat Limited and Grenade engaged in a more-than-2-year court battle. Grenade countersued Grumpy Cat Limited, claiming Grumpy Cat Limited did not promote the iced coffee promotion enough. The countersuit sought $12 million in damages based on potential lost revenue.
Grumpy Cat’s posting about the coffee 17 times on social media was not enough for Grenade. The Grenade owners also claimed that a social media posting of the iced coffee by Bundensen’s brother before the coffee made it to market deflated product launch potential. The countersuit also states that on an appearance with Fox News, Tardar’s handlers were supposed to say, “Watch out, Starbucks. The cat’s coming for it,” but never did.
The countersuit also claimed that during the iced coffee negotiations, Grumpy Cat Limited said that Tardar would be starring in a movie with actors Jack Black and Will Ferrell. Tardar and company never made said movie. Grumpy Cat Limited’s legal team alleged the Grenade owners knew that Grumpy Cat was linked to a movie producer who was involved in another movie with the two comedians – not that Grumpy Cat would star in a movie with them.
The case made it to trial, which raged on for a week and triggered an in-person appearance by Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce. Upon the eight-person jury’s verdict, Grumpy Cat Limited’s attorney David Jonelis said, “Grumpy Cat feels vindicated.”
What Can Be Learned from the Grumpy Cat Trial?
As Birmingham commercial litigation attorneys, the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums team often deals with similar breach of contract issues — though usually not with a client as cute as Grumpy Cat. As can be seen from the substantial settlement offer, the Grumpy Cat trial was no laughing matter. Here are some key takeaways:
Make sure any commercial contract you enter is extremely detailed for your protection. Both sides in the Grumpy Cat case sued each other for various reasons. Whenever a contract is negotiated, various scenarios should be covered to avoid future potential litigation. Working with an attorney helps protect you in many situations, both in the case you need to pursue legal action against a partner or need to protect yourself.
Keep all business records. Emails and text messages can be powerful evidence in a commercial litigation case. If you are suspicious about the dealings with a partner, retain all communications and seek to get confirmations in writing that protect you.
Do not sign anything you are uncomfortable with. When your business or an entity you work with is your livelihood, strive to only form legal partnerships with companies you are comfortable with. Negotiate terms so that you are completely satisfied with what you are getting. Anytime your business has to face litigation, you are putting your reputation at risk with current clients and with potential new customers. Think Grumpy Cat’s ardent millions of followers will check out other products from Grenade since Grumpy Cat Limited sued them? Chances are good they’ll get their coffee elsewhere.
If you feel that your business has been harmed by negligent practices or has been exploited by an offending company, you may have a commercial lawsuit worth pursuing. Contact us for a free commercial litigation consultation.
If you’ve experienced a serious personal injury that required medical treatment or time missed off work, and/or caused substantial pain, suffering or life-altering outcomes, you might be in search of a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for your case. Knowing how to find the right personal injury attorney is crucial to a successful claim and ensuring that you get the most for your damages. Choosing a lawyer you’re comfortable with – in terms of both work experience and personality – is so important, not just for the outcome of your case, but for your well-being throughout the claims process.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, avoid getting overwhelmed or delaying finding an attorney. The statute of limitations sets a time limit on how long you have to file a claim, so use these tips to get started on a personal injury lawyer search.
Ask for Personal Injury Attorney Referrals
Contacting attorneys whom your friends and family trust is a great place to start. You’ll want to make sure any referred lawyers practice in the state where your personal injury occurred. Even if no one close to you knows a personal injury lawyer, many lawyers belong to professional organizations and have wide networks of other lawyer professionals, and they may be able to refer you to a personal injury lawyer who can help.
You can also ask your employer for referrals, since some employers may offer discounted legal services through an employee assistance program.
Vet Several Candidates
Some personal injury lawsuits may last several months to several years, depending on the severity of a case. You may be working closely with your lawyer for an extended period of time, so you want to make sure you’ve consulted with several candidates so that you can feel confident in your choice. If you’ve only received one or two solid referrals, you might consider perusing the American Bar Association’s lawyer referral directory for guidance for more candidates.
Make Sure Experience Matches Up with Your Case
Not all personal injury cases produce the same experience. Responsible personal injury lawyers will be willing to answer any questions you have for them. Don’t be afraid to make good use of interviewing them. Ask potential attorneys questions like:
- How long have you been practicing in personal injury cases?
- Do you work more with plaintiffs or defendants?
- What is your winning percentage for cases like mine?
- What certifications or education do you have that relates to my case?
- How open will communication be throughout my case?
You should also ask potential personal injury attorneys if anyone else would be working on your case besides that individual. You should be comfortable with the size of the team that would be working on your case and with the experience of every person handling it. Some law firms may pass on details of your claim to interns or junior attorneys. Sometimes, working with a larger firm is a benefit because there will likely be more resources available to designate to your case. Be sure to ask about the personal involvement of whomever you’re interviewing to make sure you’re comfortable.
Personal injury lawyers should offer up a free consultation, since they should only want to take on cases they think they can win. After a call with the law firm that you feel comfortable with, ask to meet in person. A lawyer’s personality should put you at ease. You need to feel relaxed enough to be completely open and honest about the details of your case with your personal injury lawyer.
Visiting the law office also helps you realize if you’ll be comfortable with possibly driving to the location frequently, as well as if you feel secure with the office environment and culture at the firm. A face-to-face meeting helps secure your confidence more than just a phone call can.
Consider Trial Experience
You should hire a personal injury lawyer who has experience bringing cases to trial, because some claims may require being handled in court. Ask about trial experience as you’re vetting candidates. You want to hire a lawyer who is prepared to fight for you in front of a judge it that is needed.
Compare Settlement Estimations and Fees
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means they don’t get paid unless you do and will typically take a percentage of the settlement as their payment. Ask personal injury lawyers you’re interviewing what type of settlement they estimate they can achieve, and then determine a fee you can expect to pay based on the percentage they charge.
Settlement estimations may also be based on the possible lengths of the case, depending on how quickly you want to settle or how much you want to get. Keep in mind there are never guarantees, and estimates can be large ranges. That’s why other factors like comfort and success record should be taken into account.
To get the most accurate information, the more details you can provide potential attorneys about your case, the better. These include:
- Medical documentation
- Documentation of the scene of the accident and witness statements
- Arrest records or police reports
- Professional opinions you’ve gathered
What you will end up paying shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor when considering personal injury attorneys. Whether or not they can win is more important. If your lawyer doesn’t win, you’ll end up with nothing and may have spent a lot of time on your case.
Get Second Opinions from Former Clients
When you’ve narrowed down your search to personal injury lawyer candidates you think might be a fit for your case, ask the lawyer if they’d be able to connect you with former clients so you can talk to them, too. This is common, and many personal injury lawyers will be happy to connect you. This way, you can ask more questions about what to expect from the process and what working with the lawyer was like, so you can feel completely confident with your choice.
Need Help with a Personal Injury?
If you’ve experienced a personal injury and are looking for an Alabama or Birmingham personal injury attorney, the team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums is here to help. You can call (866) 722-0250 or text (205) 900-4188 to set up a free consultation. We pride ourselves on providing honest and open feedback to potential clients and work with those we strongly feel we can achieve justice for. Contact us online for more information.
Comedian and actor Jim Carrey recently made headlines not for his latest movie, but because of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against him after his ex-girlfriend committed suicide. The woman’s estranged husband and mother filed a lawsuit against the celebrity claiming Carrey provided her with drugs, even though the actor knew the victim was prone to depression and had attempted suicide in the past. The lawsuit was dismissed this February.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed for a variety of reasons. At the heart of all of these is negligence: negligence on behalf of an individual, a company that manufactured a defective product, a business owner who improperly maintained an event venue that made it dangerous to visitors, etc.
When the estate of a victim files a wrongful death lawsuit, they are making a claim against another party that they consider to have caused the death through wrongful conduct. In Alabama, those involved in successful wrongful death claims are entitled to punitive damages, which exceed simple compensation and are awarded as a punishment for the defendant. Wrongful death lawsuits can help to prevent similar negligence from harming others in the future.
Here’s a look at what constitutes a wrongful death claim, what attorneys working on these cases are typically looking for to help their case, and what is needed in order for a plaintiff to be successful in a case like this.
How Wrongful Death Claims Work
Wrongful death claims constitute legal action brought about when someone dies suddenly due to the wrongful actions, omission or negligence on behalf of another party. Types of wrongful death claims may arise due to incidents such as:
- Drunk driving or reckless driving
- Medical malpractice
- Employer negligence
- Caretaker abuse
- Defective products
- Dangerous premises
Wrongful death laws vary from state to state, but in Alabama, the estate of the person who died and may have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived is the party that can bring about the wrongful death lawsuit. In the case of the wrongful death of a minor, the parent or legal guardian of the victim may bring forward the lawsuit. The victim must have died in Alabama in order for a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama to be filed.
Even if a defendant is not facing criminal charges related to the victim’s death, a wrongful death lawsuit may still be brought up in civil court. Unlike some states where a family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit, in Alabama, only the victim’s estate’s personal representative may file. However, any damages that are awarded go directly to the heirs of the victim. This is why designating someone to be in charge of your estate in a will now can help bring justice and provide compensation for your loved ones should you become a victim. Otherwise, the probate court may designate a representative who can bring about a claim.
What Attorneys Need to Succeed
If an estate of someone who has died wants to pursue a wrongful death claim, there is a statute of limitations of two years from the date of death in which the lawsuit must be filed. Getting in touch with an attorney as soon as possible can help increase the likelihood of success should a claim be filed.
To prove a wrongful death lawsuit, the following is typically required in order for a Birmingham wrongful death attorney to take on a case:
- The victim must have died because another party failed to act safely or knowingly hurt the other party
- Negligence, omission or wrongful acts must be able to be proved
Evidence-gathering and witness testimony is essential for a successful wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on the type of death and who may have caused it, bringing in expert witnesses to testify with their expertise may also be required. The more documentation and photo/video evidence the estate bringing forth a wrongful death lawsuit can provide, the more it helps the attorney.
Don’t Wait to Contact a Lawyer
Representing someone who has died can be an emotionally taxing experience, but the pain and suffering of the victim’s family and the potential for the wrongdoer to repeat a dangerous action makes pursuing a potential wrongful death claim quickly so important. Sometimes insurance companies may offer up a settlement, which is much lower than what should be paid regarding the severity of the case. A wrongful death lawyer should give you a free consultation, so they can learn about the details of the case and give a recommendation on next steps.
If you represent the estate of someone who has died suddenly due to the negligence of others, please contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation on a wrongful death lawsuit, or call or text (205) 900-4188.
Out of the 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 and the tens of thousands more non-fatal accidents, many were caused not by another person, but by the road itself. Even though it’s an inanimate object, the road you drive on or ride your bike on may be the cause of a severe accident. Hazardous conditions that cause vehicles to malfunction or flip over and cause injuries to someone may be the result of negligence on behalf of another party, such as a local government or construction company working on the road.
For example, this past December, a plaintiff who suffered severe injuries in a car accident in New York sued his town for negligence in road design, stating that a road in his town has a sharp curve and does not have adequate signage or lighting, does not have guardrails and has an unsafe speed limit.
These kinds of personal injury and car accident cases can get complicated quickly because of several factors:
- You have to be able to prove that the road conditions were the cause of the injury, not your car or vehicle, not the weather, and not your driving habits or those of another driver
- You must be able to prove that it was negligence on behalf of another entity that caused the poor road conditions or failed to alert riders about them adequately
- You must file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, and only if the other party is able to be sued
Personal injuries caused by faulty road conditions, including those created from bad design, are serious cases not just because of the pain and suffering the victim experiences. The same conditions may put other drivers and riders in danger. Often, large entities like a government or manufacturing corporation employ their own large legal teams. Consulting with a lawyer when you believe negligence and road conditions caused your accident is wise.
Types of Road Conditions That Cause Accidents
Accidents due to road conditions that put dangers and riders in danger may include the following:
- Dangerous potholes
- Oil slicks on roads that are being resurfaced
- Lack of signage alerting drivers to danger
- Lack of signage to control traffic, such as a missing stop sign
- Missing guardrails
- Erosion of the road, which can lead to dangerous dips, jolts or sinkholes
- Inefficient design that causes roadway dangers
- Poorly painted or fading lane lines that are difficult to see
- Work zone confusion due to lack of explicit directions for riders on how to interact with the area
- Dangerous road obstacles, like fallen trees or utility poles
Intersections that are known to be risky in the community due to narrow lanes or sharp turns may be considered to be a negligent hazard, due to improper design and maintenance, like the previous claim states. Also, if an agency decides to cut funding for maintaining a certain area, which then contributes to a severe accident, there may be a substantial claim to be pursued. When a severe injury and damage to a vehicle occurs due to a factor like one of these mentioned, the party responsible for causing it or for not warning riders about it may be to blame.
How to Help a Case Involving Road Conditions
Like any road accident you’re involved in, you should not accept blame for the accident and should contact emergency services if damages are severe. Take note of the scene in front of you. If you are injured, ask someone at the scene to take photos or videos for you of the road conditions. Talk about these with police officers who arrive.
It’s important to get medical attention when you need it, but you also want to document the road conditions that may have contributed to the accident. If you can, ask witnesses for anything they noticed, and record their answers. Witness testimony and documented evidence are so important in a case regarding road conditions. Without them, the defendant can blame the driver’s or rider’s actions or another factor, like the weather, and not the road conditions on the accident. Collect evidence as soon as you can after the accident. You should also return to the scene to see if conditions are the same or if they have been changed in any way.
If you suspect negligence with road conditions is to blame for your accident, contact a car accident attorney or personal injury lawyer for help as soon as possible, since the statute of limitations limits the time frame in which you can pursue a claim. Your lawyer will be able to help determine the appropriate party to file a claim against – it may be the city, county or state, or a combination of all three.