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A Property Owner’s Duty to Address Snowy or Icy Conditions

Snow and Ice Removal—What Must a Property Owner Do?

Winter is almost upon us. Over the next few months, far too many people will suffer injuries slipping on ice or snow on someone else’s residential or commercial property. In Delaware, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to maintain the premises in a way that minimizes the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting the property. How does this apply to accumulations of snow or ice? What must a landowner do to protect his or her interests?

Liability for Snowy or Icy Conditions

In a lawsuit for injuries suffered after a fall on residential or commercial property, you can typically seek compensation from either the owner, or the possessor of property, or both. As a general rule, for a property owner to have responsibility for injuries related to a fall, the injured person must show one of three things happened:

  • The owner or possessor neglected to perform reasonable maintenance, or to properly monitor the property to become aware of potentially dangerous conditions,
  • The owner or possessor knew (or should reasonably have known) about dangerous conditions that actually existed, or
  • The owner or possessor created the dangerous conditions, either through acts or omissions.

The rules governing the removal of ice and snow vary from state to state. In Delaware, no distinction is made between snow or ice as a dangerous condition, and any other type of risk. The key question will be whether or not the property owner took reasonable steps to remedy the problem. Important factors will include the amount of snow and the timeliness with which the property owner responded. If a jury determines that a reasonable person would have responded differently, and that the property owner had the ability to respond that way, they can find the owner or possessor liable.

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

Types of Injuries on a Construction Site

The Types of Injuries Most Frequently Suffered on a Construction Site

You don’t need to watch The Most Dangerous Jobs in the World to know that the likelihood of serious injury on a construction site, especially a high-rise, can be substantial. With cranes, earth movers, graders and other heavy equipment nearly always present, and with scaffolding, ladders, construction elevators and heavy building materials, the slightest carelessness by an owner, contractor or another worker can spell disaster. Here are the most common types of accidents on construction sites:

  • Falls from heights—In an effort to save costs or meet deadlines, owners and contractors often fail to take appropriate precautions to prevent workers fall from upper levels, from elevators or cherry pickers, or from ladders or scaffolding. Scaffolding may be improperly constructed or poorly maintained, or necessary guard rails may not be in place or may not be properly constructed
  • Falling objects—Workers on a construction site are often in danger of being struck by a falling object, such as building materials or tools stored on an upper level, as well as collapsing cranes or collapsing upper levels.
  • Injuries caused by the malfunction or improper use of tools, machinery or equipment—In some instances, a tool or machine may be poorly designed or may be used for some other purpose than specified. Owners or contractors may neglect to perform necessary maintenance, or to repair tools when necessary. In addition, workers may be inadequately trained or qualified to use tools, machines or heavy equipment.
  • Injuries caused by lack of supervision, poor training, or negligence in hiring—Some contractors hire workers without the necessary skills to operate heavy equipment or to perform other key tasks. They may also allow workers to do their job without adequate instruction or supervision.
  • Motor vehicle accidents on job sites—Many construction sites have regular traffic moving in and out, with deliveries arriving, and with heavy machinery moving regularly about the project.

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.

Driving Distracted — More Common Than Driving Drunk?

Texting and Driving—More Prevalent than Drinking and Driving?

Here are some startling statistics:

  • In 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3,300 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. In the same year, just under 10,000 people were killed nationwide by drunk drivers.
  • The average amount of time it takes to send or read a text message is nearly five seconds, about the same amount of time it takes to stop a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour. In fact, in a study in Virginia, researchers found that truck drivers who sent or received text messages while behind the wheel increased their risk of accident and injury by almost 25%. Studies also corroborate that sending a text message while driving can increase reaction time by one third to one half.
  • The reaction time for someone sending a text message was actually worse than that of a drunk driver, in a study conducted by Car and Driver magazine.
  • Adults are worse about texting and driving than younger drivers. Almost half of all adults asked admitted to sending text messages while on the road. Just over 2 of every five teenagers are guilty of texting and driving.

In another study initiated by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, during the same time period (2009-2012), while there was a 20% drop in the number of drivers who admitted they would think about drinking and driving, there was an increase in the number of drivers who admitted texting, as well as a decrease in the number of people who thought texting or e-mailing while driving was a bad thing.

The Car and Driver study was conducted on a runway at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan, with a 22 year-old using and iPhone and a 37 year-old driver on a Samsung Alias. For both drivers, their average reaction time was significantly greater while texting or reading an e-mail than it was when they were impaired. In fact, for the 37 year-old driver, the reaction time was at least double in both instances.

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.

What is Premises Liability?

Understanding the Legal Concept of Premises Liability

One of the most common types of personal injury claims involves what the law refers to as “premises liability.” For the lay person, this term can be confusing. Is it really just another way of saying “slip and fall”? Not exactly. Here’s what lawyers mean when they talk about a premises liability claim.

In all states, the owner or possessor (could be a landlord, tenant or property manager) of residential or commercial property has a duty to keep the property (or premises) in a condition that minimizes the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting the property. As a general rule, this means that the owner or possessor must take reasonable steps to monitor the property for any potentially dangerous conditions. If any are discovered (or should have been discovered), the owner or possessor has a duty to either take reasonable measures to fix the problem, or to provide adequate notice of any known dangers.

The most common type of claim based on premises liability stems from a slip, trip or fall. Typically, this involves a slip or fall on slippery floors, sidewalks or walkways; on defective, torn or broken flooring, such as tile, linoleum or carpet; or broken steps or stairways. A property owner can also be responsible for naturally occurring conditions, such as snow or ice, if it can be shown that the owner or possessor could have reasonably taken steps to remove or remedy the problem before the accident occurred.

There are, however, other injury claims that can fall under a premises liability claim. For example, if property is located in a dangerous neighborhood and the owner fails to provide adequate security or proper lighting, there can be liability for any injuries that you suffer. Owners and occupiers of land can also have responsibility for injuries caused by pets or animals they keep on the property.

Property owners customarily have no duty of care toward people who are trespassing illegally on the premises, unless they know or have reason to know of the presence of trespassers.

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.

Driver Fatigue – a Common Cause of Truck Accidents

In response to increased concerns about the number of hours commercial truck drivers spend on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently enacted new regulations designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents stemming from driver fatigue. On July 1, 2013, new standards went into effect, limiting drivers to 70 hours per week behind the wheel, and mandating at least 34 hours off when truckers reach the 70 hour maximum. The new regulations retain prior rules that limit a driver to 11 consecutive hours after a 10 hour break, and no more than 11 total hours over a 14 hour consecutive period. Drivers must also take a 30 minute break at some point during the first 8 hours on the road.

Truck Drivers Going Without Rest

There are a variety of reasons that truckers operate big rigs, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers without the necessary rest. Most are compensated by the number of miles they drive, providing an incentive to log as many as possible. Many trucking companies have tight deadlines, and do not monitor drivers to make certain logs are accurate, and drivers are not exceeding federal limits. Sometimes it can be as simple as wanting to get home, or trying to avoid bad weather.

The statistics are pretty clear, though. About one in every 8 commercial truck accidents involves driver fatigue. In an FMCSA study, about 7% of drivers who had been in accidents admitted to falling asleep while driving. Another 40% said they felt some level of fatigue at the time of the crash.

Studies show that driver fatigue dramatically slows down reaction time, a significantly greater risk when you are hauling 80,000 pounds of goods. Researchers also determined that drivers who suffered from fatigue made frequent judgment errors, including changing lanes without looking, accelerating instead of braking, and exceeding the speed limit.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

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.

When You Are Hurt in an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

Often, after suffering injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence or carelessness of another driver, your first course of action is to seek reimbursement and compensation from the other driver’s insurance provider. But what are your options when the other driver carries coverage for property damage only, or, worse yet, is driving without insurance (even though that’s a violation of the law).

In Delaware, as in other state, insurers typically offer what is known as uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage. It typically appears as a rider on your policy, and allows you to seek reimbursement directly from your own insurance company, in the event the “at-fault” party either has no insurance, or does not have enough coverage to cover your losses. It’s usually offered at an additional premium, and most insurance agents will carefully explain what it is and how much it will increase your premium. You may or may not be able to find it if you review your policy after an accident. In addition, your insurance company may not be too helpful in assisting you with an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. You are best served to have an experienced lawyer review your policy and act as your liaison with insurers.

Another option when you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver is to investigate the likelihood that there are other potentially liable third parties who have the resources to cover your losses. For example, even though the other driver may have been speeding or driving recklessly, there may also have been potholes or other roadway defects that contributed to the accident. The other driver’s vehicle may have been negligently designed or manufactured, or even serviced improperly by a garage or mechanic, leading to defects that caused or contributed to the accident.

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we will use our three decades of experience to help you get full and fair compensation for all your losses, including wages and income, medical bills, physical pain and suffering and loss of companionship. We handle all types of serious and catastrophic loss, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, paralysis, burns, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and amputation or loss of limb. We also take wrongful death claims.

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.

What Are the Most Frequent Causes of Truck Accidents?

When there’s a motor vehicle accident involving a big rig, tractor-trailer, semi or 18-wheeler, the likelihood of serious or catastrophic injury is great. Though the maximum legal weight of an 18-wheeler is 40 tons, they are frequently overloaded, or loaded without adequate consideration of the distribution of weight in the trailer, making them extremely difficult to handle in a crisis. Because of increased concerns over the high rate of serious and injury and death in accidents involving commercial trucks, the federal Department of Transportation looked extensively at nearly 1,000 truck accidents, seeking to identify trends and patterns. Here’s what they found:

Most Truck Accidents Fall into One of Two Categories

The study, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), determined that more than four out of five commercial truck accidents resulted from either driver error, or from problems with brakes or tires.

More than half of the accidents studied stemmed from carelessness or negligence by drivers (this includes truck drivers and drivers of other vehicles). The most frequent mistakes by drivers included:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs(including amphetamines to keep a driver awake)
  • Speeding
  • Failing to properly judge the speed of others on the road
  • Failing to allow adequate distance between vehicles
  • Distracted driving (using a hand-held device, texting, adjusting the stereo)
  • Failing to take reasonable or appropriate actions in a hazardous situation (often the result of poor or inadequate training
  • Crossing lanes or driving on the shoulder of the road

In about one third of the truck accidents investigated, the primary cause of the crash involving either brake or tire failure/defects. The study showed that this could involve a manufacturing defect, but that it also included failure to properly maintain tires or brakes. Investigators discovered that many drivers were using tires that did not meet minimum tread depth requirements, and that many were using mismatched tires, such as bias and radial tires, on the same axle.

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we aggressively protect the rights of people hurt in truck accidents, helping you recover compensation for all your losses, including wages and income, medical expenses, loss of companionship or consortium, and physical pain and suffering. We take all types of claims, from sprains, strains and soft tissue trauma to serious and catastrophic loss, including wrongful death actions.

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.

Hosting a Party This Halloween? Make Sure to Take Precautions

Halloween is a wonderful time of year – ushering in both the Fall season, and the Holiday season in general. Throwing a festive get-together is always a great way to celebrate.

Being aware of the negative side of this Holiday can ensure everyone has a good time, and arrives home safely!

Concerns on Halloween – and the Weekends Both Pre and Post

  • Drunk Driving – Of course Halloween is celebrated by both children AND adults. If drinking is part of your plan to celebrate this year, make sure a designated driver or cab is scheduled before drinking begins
  • Drive Extra Defensively – So you and your cohorts have prepared smartly, but that does NOT mean others on the road have! Look out for inebriated drivers AND pedestrians
  • You Can Still Incur Risk Hosting at Home – For example, if one of your guests drinks alcohol and then proceeds to cause an accident after they leave your party, you stand a chance of being held partially liable. Social Host Liability in regards to drunk driving does vary between states – know the laws in YOUR area! Consider allowing guests to crash at your home, having a ‘key-master’, assigning designated drivers or making cabs available
  • Vandalism (aka ‘Tricks‘) – Adolescents will sometimes indulge in trickery during the Halloween holiday. Keep your home locked, your porch lights on when available, pets kept safely away from potential visitors (for their safety as well!), your cars in the garage, when possible and make sure your children twelve and under are escorted by a trusted adult to any events

Contact Delaware and Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney Michael J. Hood

Halloween should be worry-free and fun for all. If any of your Holiday festivities happen to turn sour, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. To schedule a meeting, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

Delaware and Pennsylvania – Slippery Floors

Supermarket and retail store owners seldom have the staff to monitor for potentially dangerous situations, only responding when someone has been hurt. If you or someone you love has been injured because of dangerous conditions at a supermarket or retail store, we can help.

Personal Injury & Premises Liability Attorney Michael Hood

At the office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania for more than three decades. We understand the impact that a personal injury can have on every aspect of your life and take a direct approach at all times, carefully gathering as much information as we can so that we can give you a thorough and realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as your case’s value. We built our reputation through honesty and hard work. When we take your case, we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the best outcome for you. We have the knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you pursue full and fair compensation for all your losses, including lost wages and income, medical expenses, loss of companionship, and physical pain and suffering.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

Contact our office online or call us at (302) 777-1000. There is no charge for your first visit.

Swimming Pool Injuries and Accidents

If you have been hurt in a swimming pool accident, or your loved one has died or suffered serious injury at a swimming pool, you want an experienced and aggressive lawyer to protect your interests.

Our Swimming Pool Accident Injury Practice

We handle all types of injury claims arising out of swimming pool accidents, including:

  • Brain injury caused by lack of oxygen from being underwater for too long
  • Spinal cord or other injury from diving accidents
  • Slip and fall injuries on wet pool tile, diving boards or other surfaces
  • Drownings resulting from unsupervised swimming or failure to erect and maintain four-sided fencing around a pool

We take cases involving all types of serious or catastrophic injuries, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, paralysis, and amputation or loss of limb. We also litigate wrongful death claims arising out of swimming pool accidents.

We will help you seek damages for all your losses, including lost wages and income, medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, and loss of companionship or consortium.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To schedule a meeting, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.