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Bicycle Accidents and Injuries

Bicycle Accidents—Protecting Your Rights

In Delaware, as in every state, bicyclists have a right to share the road with motorists. Unfortunately, far too often, drivers fail to pay appropriate attention or simply ignore that right, leading to serious injury.

The Common Types of Bicycle Accidents

Nearly half of all car-bicycle accidents occur at intersections, caused by:

  • Motorists making a left turn into the path of an oncoming bicyclist
  • Drivers failing to stop at a light or sign
  • Drivers making a right turn without looking for a cyclist

When on the road, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle,” and all laws and regulations governing vehicles apply. For example, if a bicyclist comes to a stop sign, he or she should make a complete stop, especially when there is other traffic present.

When determining who is at fault in a car-bicycle accident, then, the bicycle will be considered a vehicle and liability will be based on general traffic rules. If there are no traffic signals at an intersection, the first party to the intersection has the right of way. If there is a signal, the bicyclist must obey the signal.

The other common type of bicycle accident results from road hazards—gravel, potholes, sewer grates, uneven curbs and even water on the road. Generally, when you are hurt because of a defect in the road, you will have to seek compensation from the municipality with responsibility for maintaining the roadway. To successfully recover compensation for such an accident can be difficult unless you had witnesses and even then, you need to show that the municipality had not taken reasonable measures to fix the problem. If the fix was relatively simple, but the government failed to act, you have a good chance of recovery. But if the government had posted reasonable warnings or the fix was unreasonably expensive, it will be difficult.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Delaware’s Dog Bite Law

Protecting Your Rights When You’ve Been Bitten in Delaware

Most of the time, a dog is man’s best friend, and most pet owners act responsibly, minimizing the risk of dog attacks. But it only takes a moment of carelessness to lead to serious injury.

Delaware’s Dog Bite Law

Delaware has one of the more comprehensive statutes governing liability for damages caused by a dog. The law provides for damages for personal injury and property loss, and allows an injured person to bring legal action against not only the owner of the dog, but against third parties whose negligence may have contributed to the attack. For example, if a person is dog-sitting and the animal in his or her charge bites someone, he or she may be liable.

Delaware’s dog bite law finds liability under four different scenarios:

  • Intentional tort—A person who incites or orders a dog to attack another person will be liable
  • Negligence—Negligence involves a failure to use a reasonable standard of care. If a dog owner doesn’t use that level of care that an ordinary person would (as determined by a jury), he or she may be liable for any ensuing attack.
  • Negligence per se—“Per se” means “as a matter of law.” Under Delaware law, a dog may not run free unless accompanied by an owner/custodian and under reasonable control, or on the owner’s property. If a dog bites or attacks someone while in violation of this requirement, the injured party does not need to show negligence or carelessness by the owner. The simple fact that the dog was running free is considered proof of negligence.
  • Scienter—Scienter is a legal term that refers to the dog owner’s knowledge of the animal’s inherently dangerous nature. If a dog bite victim can show that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity toward violence, the victim won’t have to show negligence to recover compensation.

Exceptions to the Law

A dog’s owner will not be responsible for injuries to anyone who was illegally on the owner’s property at the time of the attack, or who was engaged in the commission of any crime when bitten, or who teased, tormented or abused the dog.

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To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Recreational Sports Injuries

Can You Recover Compensation for a Recreational Sports Injury?

Many recreational sports involve some level of risk of injury, from football and baseball to mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding or riding an ATV. If you are hurt while participating in a recreational sport, is it just part of the bargain? Can you willingly take part in a dangerous or risky activity and then seek damages if you get hurt? The answer—it depends.

The long established rule with respect to many sports-related injuries is known as assumption of risk. When you go onto a football field, in a full-contact game, you expect to get hit, particularly if you want to handle the ball. The key question, though, focuses on the nature of the risk assumed. Do you automatically assume risk for any type of injury simply because there is a chance of certain types of injury? The clear answer there is no. Here are some of the instances where assumption of risk would probably not apply in a recreational injury:

  • When equipment used for the activity is dangerous or defective—Participants in recreational activities have a right to expect that goods specifically developed and marketed for use in that activity are safe. Accordingly, a person may be able to recover damages if an ATV is demonstrated to have an unreasonable risk of rollover. Bats made with defective lumber, bindings that break, inadequate protective gear—all can be the basis of a lawsuit
  • Intentional or reckless actions that are outside of accepted components of the activity—Throwing a baseball at another player or taking a swing at someone, either with a fist or a bat, may be considered outside of the scope of the activity and not covered by the assumption of risk.
  • Other acts not considered to be an inherent risk—You can be hurt by acts of negligence that it’s not reasonable to assume, as they are not part of the activity. For example, if a stadium wall or fence is poorly maintained and causes injury, you will likely have the right to sue.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Premises Liability—Negligent Security

The laws governing premises liability—the potential responsibility of a property owner for injuries suffered on his or her premises—require that residential and commercial property owners take reasonable steps to monitor property for potentially dangerous situations, and that they either remedy those problems or provide adequate warning of the risks involved. In most instances, this involves some sort of structural breakdown or defect—broken steps or stairs, slippery floors or sidewalks.

But the duty to ensure the safety of legitimate visitors to your property also involves taking reasonable measures to protect their safety when you know or should know that they are at risk of harm from muggings or physical attacks. If your property is in a high crime area—if there have been prior incidents on your property (or even nearby), you may be responsible for injuries suffered if you don’t take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of a mugging; accusations of negligent security can plague owners.

Here are some of the steps you can take to protect your interests:

  • Install adequate lighting—Dark corners and alleyways provide convenient cover for a lot of illegal activity. Install and maintain good lighting.
  • Ensure that all locks and security systems are completely functional—If you have restricted access to the building or property, make certain all systems work, so that no one gets in without permission.
  • Monitor and maintain fences and other barriers
  • If you have security guards, perform random checks on them to make certain they are doing their jobs.
  • Install security camera and motion-sensitive lights

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Construction Site Injuries—An Overview

The Types of Construction Site Injuries

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately one in every ten construction workers in America is hurt on the job every year. Almost one out of every five dollars paid in workers’ compensation claims annually goes to people hurt on a construction site. Here are the most frequent types of injuries suffered by construction workers:

  • Injuries from falls—The most common type of injury on a construction project is a fall, either from a ladder or scaffold, an unguarded upper level or a construction elevator. A lot of workers are also hurt in slips, trips and falls over site debris, materials, tools and equipment.
  • Injuries from falling objects—Particularly on high rise projects, a lot of workers are hurt when items stored on upper levels, from tools to construction materials to trash, fall on them.
  • Dangerous or defective machinery, tools or equipment—Far too often, general contractors or owners use poorly maintained equipment, or tools or machines that are inappropriate for the job, or that have simply been poorly designed or manufactured. In those instances, the manufacturers and sellers of those devices can be liable for any injury they cause.
  • Negligent hiring, training or supervision—In the drive to complete a project, owners and general contractors frequently hire people without appropriate skills, fail to properly train them to use heavy equipment, and allow them to work without adequate guidance and supervision. Many workplace injuries occur when unsupervised workers devise workarounds that violate safety requirements.
  • Motor vehicle accidents—With trucks and other vehicles in and out of job sites, and with workers traveling back and forth from a job site, workers are continually at risk of injury in motor vehicle accidents.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Dangerous and Defective Products

The Different Types of Product Liability Claims

When a product that you’ve purchased, used or been exposed to has caused you physical injury or loss, you may have a right to seek compensation from a number of different parties, from the designer to the manufacturer to the wholesaler or retailer. This is known as a product liability claim.

Product liability claims generally fall into one of three types:

  • The product was defectively designed—This claim is based on the allegation that the product designer failed to take certain known or reasonably discernible risks into account when designing the product.
  • The product was defectively manufactured—This claim alleges that the manufacturer made a mistake in the production of the product. It may involve the use of substandard materials, the omission of key components or some other defect.
  • The product did not contain adequate warnings—This claim alleges that the product manufacturer did not adequately warn the potential user of risks that were reasonably foreseeable.

Most product liability claims are based on a theory of negligence. To recover under a theory of negligence in a product liability claim, you generally have to show four things:

  • You must have incurred injury or loss—it can be property damage or it can be personal injury (or both), but you can only recover for actual losses
  • You must show one of the three conditions above, i.e., defective design, defective manufacturing or failure to warn
  • You have to demonstrate that the design defect, manufacturing defect or lack of warning actually caused your injury or loss
  • You must also show that you were using the product as it was intended to be used

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation with a Delaware personal injury lawyer, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse—Dehydration and Malnutrition

Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes

According to a published report, a vast number of nursing home residents—up to one-third—don’t get enough to eat or drink on a daily basis. The report, released by the National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, found the situation to be critical in some facilities, with up to 85% of residents at some homes experiencing malnutrition or dehydration.

Experts express serious concerns in the light of the report, citing the relationship between diet, hydration and other conditions, such as bedsores, depression and cognitive impairment.

The study identified a number of factors contributing to the problem:

  • Nursing homes are chronically understaffed—Nursing homes are for-profit businesses, pure and simple. For most, the bottom line is far more important than resident care. As a result, nursing homes tend to cut costs on personnel expenses. The study cited a 93% annual turnover in nursing home employees, and expressed alarm that the average caregiver had responsibility for 12 to 15 people during a meal, as opposed to the recommended two to three residents.
  • Most nursing homes do not provide a high level of individualized care—Patients are rarely monitored to ensure that they are taking in adequate nutrition and liquids. Often, nursing home residents experience depression, which can suppress appetite. Without individual care, many residents can go long periods of time with little food.
  • Most nursing home residents have extremely limited choices for food
  • Many residents have poor dental health, which makes it painful or difficult for them to chew or digest food.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers

It’s the holiday season and everyone is filled with good cheer. Unfortunately, too many of them are also getting behind the wheel of a car. Statistics show that traffic volumes go up dramatically in the days leading up to Christmas, and that alcohol can be involved in up to 40% of holiday traffic accidents. And with motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers, there can be some complicating factors.

Does The Other Driver Have Insurance?

The reality is that many drunk drivers are repeat offenders. If a driver has a prior conviction for driving under the influence, he or she may find it cost prohibitive to get more than the basic insurance coverage, or may simply choose to drive without insurance at all. Of course, when you are hurt in a car accident, the first place you tend to look for recovery is the negligent party’s insurer.

If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or only had coverage for property damage, you can look to your own policy to see if you have coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. Most insurers offer this type of coverage, but typically as an optional rider on your policy. If you have it, it will provide an additional amount of coverage for personal injuries you have suffered.

Another option is to look for another potentially liable party. For example, if there were roadway defects, you might be able to seek damages from the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads. Also, if you can show that the drunk driver was served alcohol at a bar, tavern, restaurant or even a private party, you may be able to pursue compensation from the party who served the alcohol, under what is known as social host liability, or dram shop liability.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse—Bedsores

Nursing Home Neglect — Bedsores: Causes and Treatment

A recent study found that nearly half a million hospital or nursing home patients suffer from bedsores every year. The sad reality is that bedsores, also known as decubitis ulcers, are almost entirely preventable.

The Causes of Bedsores

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are lesions that develop on the skin. They are typically caused by a combination of any of the following: unrelieved pressure, friction, humidity, temperature, medication and age. A person can develop bedsores on any part of the body, but they are typically found at those bony places that make regular or continual contact with a bed or mattress, such as the buttocks, hip, spine, pelvis (sacrum), elbows, knees and ankles. Though called bedsores, they are not limited to people in beds, but can affect anyone who is confined to a structure, such as a wheelchair or other type of chair.

A bedsore results when pressure temporarily impedes the flow of blood to the skin in the affected area. Anytime the flow of blood is cut off to the skin, there is the potential for injury. What will initially appear as a red patch may begin to blister. In the worst cases, the skin may be damaged to the extent that bone or muscle is exposed.

Avoiding Bedsores

Researchers have long known that the most effective way to avoid bedsores is to regularly relieve pressure on potentially affected areas. Experts recommend that persons confined to a bed or wheelchair change their position a minimum of every two hours. Special mattresses can relieve pressure as well.

Studies also show that friction—dragging a patient across sheets, for example—exacerbates bedsores. This should be avoided.

Other recommendations to minimize the risk of bedsores include:

  • Avoiding chemical exposure, such as antiseptics, hydrogen peroxide, iodine and other substances
  • Good nutrition and hydration
  • Daily exercise
  • Proper daily hygiene

Contact Our Office

We aggressively protect the rights of senior citizens who have been victims of carelessness or negligence in a long-term care facility. To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Medical Malpractice—Failure to Diagnose

When a Medical Professional Fails to Diagnose an Illness or Injury

When there’s something wrong with you, you count on medically trained professionals to take the right steps to accurately diagnose your problem, so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Unfortunately, far too often, doctors and nurses neglect the telltale signs of a disease or fail to order routine tests that could provide the answers you need. If your condition has gone untreated or you have suffered in any way because of the failure of a medical caregiver to properly diagnose a condition, you have a right to pursue damages for negligence.

Most claims involving medical injury are based on a legal theory of negligence. Under the law, everyone, including doctors and nurses, has a duty to act reasonably in the performance of their job. With doctors, the standard is actually a little higher. Doctors are held to a standard of care equal to that of someone with equal training and experience, practicing in the same area.

With respect to diagnosis of an injury or illness, your doctor would be expected to use the same level of care in diagnosing your malady as would another doctor with similar training and experience in the same geographic location. That may include:

  • Conducting a detailed examination to identify all potential causes
  • Ordering necessary tests
  • Referring you to specialists, if necessary
  • Bringing in experts to ensure proper evaluation of test results, if necessary
  • Seeking a second opinion, if appropriate

Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose often arises with respect to illnesses, such as cancer, blood afflictions or heart disease. It can, however, also involve a failure to diagnose bone, connective tissue or muscle damage.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting with a medical malpractice attorney, please contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.