Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

Victims of employment accidents, slip and fall accidents, and car accidents can suffer not only physically but also emotionally across the United States. But, in the United States, can you sue for emotional distress?

What is Emotional Distress?

People sometimes equate physical injuries with trauma produced by human-made or natural calamities. These victims, on the other hand, may be subjected to trauma that is not visible to the human eye. Emotional distress is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a highly unpleasant emotional reaction (as anguish, humiliation, or fury) which results from another’s conduct and for which damages may be sought.”

If you or a loved one have dealt with emotional distress that resulted from another’s conduct, damages may be sought.

Frequently Asked Questions About Emotional Distress

Q: Is it possible for a judge to decline to send an emotional distress claim to the jury?

A: Yes. For instance, the judge may declare the defendant’s conduct wasn’t sufficiently outrageous.

Q: I witnessed an accident involving a close relative. Can I bring a claim for emotional distress?

A: Yes. Being in the “zone of danger” refers to being present when a close relative is injured in an accident.

Q: If someone “flips the bird” at me, can I pursue a claim for mental distress?

A: No. Receiving a “bird” hand gesture does not entitle you to compensation for emotional anguish.

Q: What do I need to show that I’m experiencing emotional distress?

A: The victim must show that the distress is more than fleeing, that the distress is medically substantial, and that the defendant’s actions caused the emotional distress.

Q: Do headaches qualify as a form of emotional distress?

A: Headaches do not fall within the category of emotional distress. Emotional distress, on the other hand, includes sentiments like fear, dismay, and humiliation.

Emotional Distress in Its Many Forms

  • Humiliation
  • Loss of marriage partner
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental suffering

Emotional distress is defined as psychological or mental pain caused by another party’s illegal or negligent behavior. Suits for emotional distress, like claims for medical expenditures, can often aid in funding therapy or disability caused by wrongfully inflicted pain. Because emotional distress damages can be difficult to measure on their own, emotional distress claims are frequently incorporated in bigger lawsuits.

Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

In tort law, there are two types of actions that include inflicting emotional pain: deliberate infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

When someone acts with the goal of causing significant emotional pain to another person, this is known as intentional infliction of emotional distress (e.g., threatening future harm to another person). This type of planned behavior can happen in situations like nursing home abuse or sexual abuse.

When someone causes extreme emotional anguish through careless activity, this is known as negligent infliction of emotional distress. Negligent infliction of emotional distress does not require the presence of purpose. In personal injury litigation, this negligent act of inducing mental distress is more widespread, and it might include things like:

  • Accidents in automobiles
  • Accidents involving trucks
  • Accidents involving motorcycles
  • Accidents at work
  • Accidents involving pedestrians

If you’ve been the victim of intentional or negligent infliction of mental distress, seek medical or psychological help, document your claim, and contact a skilled attorney for assistance.

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

It’s not uncommon to experience stress symptoms before or after a crisis. Natural and human-caused disasters can have devastating effects on people’s lives since they can result in bodily and mental harm. Anyone who witnesses or is affected by a disaster may be affected in some way. The majority of stress symptoms are temporary and will go away on their own in a short period of time. However, for some Americans, particularly teenagers and small children, stress symptoms can endure for months, affecting their relationships with friends and family. The following are some of the most common warning indicators of emotional distress:

  • Problems with eating
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Putting distance between yourself and others
  • Having little or no energy
  • Experiencing unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling powerless or ineffective
  • Intoxication or excessive smoking
  • Prescription medicine abuse

Survivors of a previous human-caused or natural disaster are at risk for emotional anguish. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you lost a friend or loved one in a disaster?
  • Have you been the victim of a traumatic event such as abuse or a serious accident?
  • Have you experienced trauma caused by seeing or being exposed to death or near-death situations?

The anniversary of a calamity can rekindle feelings of fear, worry, sadness, and other negative emotions in those who have experienced it. Sound effects such as sirens or gunfire can also trigger emotional anxiety. These feelings can put victims in the same frame of mind as they were at the time of the incident or make them fear it will happen again. These uncontrollable emotions might strike at any time. Mental anguish can be extremely humiliating for some victims, and it can have a significant influence on daily activities like driving or eating. Emotional distress can disturb daily routines, causing stress and, in some cases, provoking aggressive conduct, such as domestic violence.

Attorneys have the resources, experience, and results to hold the offending party liable, whether the harm is caused by another due to an automobile or trucking crash, an explosion, medical malpractice, or any other method. Attorneys are aware of the emotional turmoil that their clients go through when they or a loved one is hurt due to events beyond their control or owing to the negligence of others. Call an expert attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one is or may be experiencing psychological or mental distress as a result of another party’s unlawful or negligent behavior.

Is it Possible for Me to Sue Someone for Emotional Distress?

Victims in the United States may face long-term emotional pain as a result of another’s illegal or negligent behavior. Yet, is it possible to claim emotional distress?

There are times when the answer is yes. Although nothing can undo the harm that has been done, the law provides injured victims with the legal right to seek compensation from those who caused the disaster. The laws governing damages for emotional distress differ from state to state. In Washington, D.C., for example, injury statutes allow a victim to seek compensation for both monetary and non-monetary damages for pain and suffering, including emotional distress. Victims of mental distress in D.C. may be eligible to obtain damages in the following sorts of cases:

  • Experiencing pain and suffering as a result of a personal injury.
  • Death threats, frequent harassment, or stalking are examples of intentional infliction of emotional distress in outrageous and extreme cases.
  • Negligent behavior that is likely to cause emotional distress when the accused person has a legal obligation to protect the victim’s well-being.
  • Partners are bringing a lawsuit against those who have caused them to lose emotional enjoyment.
  • Emotional anguish as a result of being near a dangerous accident in which the victim feared they might suffer a major personal injury.

If you believe you have an emotional distress claim, please contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Emotional Distress in Extreme Situations

Filing a lawsuit, in some cases, can be a long and winding journey. However, your lawyer can assist you in obtaining the maximum compensation allowed by law. Who can file a claim for mental distress? The laws in our states differ. The benefit of consulting an attorney is that you can find justice through the law with the help of someone who has done it for years. Take, for example, the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in December 2021 to increase the number of people who can sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress damages. Emotional distress lawsuits in Indiana can usually only be filed if the plaintiff has suffered emotional anguish.

However, an Indiana court said it would enable a guardian or parent to sue a child caretaker for damages if the guardian or parent had substantial evidence that the child caretaker sexually abused the kid and that the abuse had a significant impact on the guardian or parent’s emotional well-being. The new rule was prompted by a case involving the sexual assault of a profoundly challenged kid by an assistant responsible for her well-being at an Indianapolis Metropolitan School District school in 2015 and 2016. Two years later, the culprit allegedly confessed and pled guilty to abusing the child, receiving a 13-year sentence.

In 2019, the child’s mother filed a lawsuit against the perpetrator, school, and school district, alleging emotional distress as a result of the child’s sexual assault. Her anxiety allegedly hampered her capacity to care for her kid at home, requiring her to pay for the child’s daycare. The mother’s lawsuit was apparently dismissed by the courts because her claims did not fall into any of the categories for which emotional distress damages can be sought, owing to the fact that she did not witness the assault and only learned about it later. An extension was necessary, according to Supreme Court Justice Christopher Goff, because “the extraordinary circumstances here warrant a proper remedy.”

“Justice compels us to fashion a rule permitting a claim for damages limited to circumstances like those presented here,” Goff, along with Justice Steven David and Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote in an opinion. He also noticed that the facts of the case precisely aligned with Indiana’s new law, and he arranged for the mother’s emotional distress claim to be allowed to advance.

Justice Geoffrey Slaughter disagreed with the decision, arguing that the Legislature, not the courts, should be in charge of expanding emotional distress. The decision, according to Slaughter, opened the door to an overabundance of emotional distress claims.

What Does Pain and Suffering Mean?

Medical bills, inability to work and personal pain and suffering may be incurred as a result of major injuries. This is why personal injury lawyers fight for the highest amount of compensation allowed by law. Attorneys pursue damages that are far greater than what insurance companies generally offer.


The emotional, bodily, and mental losses caused by an injury are referred to as pain and suffering. In the event of injuries such as a vehicle accident, this phrase categorizes general damages as a result of another. The statute of limitations for filing a pain and suffering claim is usually one year. Various factors, for example, may add to a victim’s suffering under Tennessee law, such as:

  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Anguish in the mind
  • Depression
  • Emotional anguish
  • Physical discomfort
  • Trauma and apprehension
  • Insomnia
  • Property, income, and a spouse are all lost.

An expert personal injury lawyer will consider not just the current emotional, mental, and physical agony but also damages that will persist for months or years to come when calculating the pain and suffering of a victim’s injuries. A single injury has the potential to drastically change your life, as well as the lives of your family and friends. Compensation can assist in alleviating the financial and emotional strain on you and your loved ones.

Injuries Sustained Frequently in the U.S.

Injuries that are commonly encountered in the United States include:

  • Emotional anguish
  • Expenses for medical and rehabilitation
  • Modifications to the home and in-home care
  • Technology that adapts
  • Wages lost now and in the future
  • Adjustments to one’s quality of life
  • Suffering and physical pain
  • Damage to property

Without the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, victims are at the whim of insurance companies, which, unfortunately, prioritize profits over the victim’s recuperation. Victims who hire an attorney are backed up by a legal team that has the resources and skills to handle their case as efficiently as possible in order to obtain the maximum compensation allowed by law.

Common Personal Injury Claims Examples

The following are some examples of personal injury claims:

Damages for injuries and the consequences of those injuries are one of the most prominent reasons for lawsuits involving someone else’s negligence. Damages may be sought if you or a loved one has suffered emotional anguish as a result of another’s actions.

What Is the Process for Filing an Emotional Distress Claim?

When dealing with emotional anguish, finding a road to compensation might be difficult. Fortunately, there are attorneys who are skilled and supportive of victims. To litigate for emotional damages and mental pain, a claim for emotional distress can be broken down into four steps. These stages are as follows:

  • Documenting the victim’s emotional anguish: Take meticulous notes on anything related to the victim’s distress. It is always preferable to present more evidence than to present none. Documentation will aid in the recovery of your losses. Keep track of stuff like:
  • Records of medical care
  • Records of work
  • Sessions with a therapist
  • Emotional condition on a daily basis
  • Electronic heart rate monitors
  • Tracking devices for sleeping patterns
  • The severity and duration of your pain, as well as any other relevant factors that may be related to your mental distress

Expert witnesses could testify regarding your case, potentially increasing the trial’s costs and length. With the quantity of legal study required, establishing a link between negligence and losses can be difficult and exhausting. It’s a lengthy procedure, but if your suffering has had a detrimental impact on your life, you may be eligible for compensation.

  • Consulting with a lawyer: For your emotional distress claim, an attorney will go over everything you documented. They will use this information to assist you in preparing for the emotional distress claim.
  • Filing the lawsuit: You can now suit the defendant, thanks to your preparation and the assistance of your attorney.
  • Preparing for trial: After the accused party has been served, the discovery process begins, during which both sides’ information is exchanged. During this time, an offer to settle the case could be made in order to prevent a trial. Fortunately, you will have your attorney by your side to guide you through any option you make.

If the settlement proves insufficient to compensate the victim for his or her mental pain, the case will be taken to trial. Courts will hear both sides’ evidence and arguments before making a final judgment. This can be a time-consuming and challenging process, especially for victims who are experiencing such strong emotions. We strongly advise speaking with your attorney about your various choices in order to give yourself the best chance of recovering your damages.

*Emotional Distress and Personal Injury law may undergo changes. The following material is offered to assist you in better understanding generalized law. It is not intended to be legal advice in any specific situation or to be a substitute for legal counsel.


WORKS CITED

“Compensation for Emotional Distress in DC.” The Cochran Firm Washington D.C., https://cochranfirm.com/washington-dc/emotional-distress-compensation-dc/.

“Emotional Distress Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/emotional%20distress. 

“How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?” The Cochran Firm Memphis, https://cochranfirm.com/memphis/how-are-pain-and-suffering-damages-calculated/.

“Indiana Court Expands Who Can Get Emotional Distress Damages.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 27 Dec. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/crime-lawsuits-indiana-indianapolis-1efa062540fbdbe54ffcfc46fb691e6b. 

“Justices Limit Discrimination Claims for Emotional Distress.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 28 Apr. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/stephen-breyer-us-supreme-court-health-business-john-roberts-bcf8cbb583f145818b88e886c64c2070. 

“Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/negligent_infliction_of_emotional_distress. 

“Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress.” SAMHSA, https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/warning-signs-risk-factors. 

NEW Material |The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0

Accomplished Texas attorney Mark Lanier is bringing his trial academy back to Houston, but this time it’s different.

What: The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0

When: June 20 – 23, 2022 (NEW additional day!)

Where: Marriott Marquis Houston, Texas | Book a room (Discounted rate ends May 27)

Registration: Purchase a ticket

The Lanier Trial Academy, presented by The National Trial Lawyers, is one of the most in-depth seminars exclusively for plaintiff’s lawyers. Lanier Law Firm founder and 2018 National Trial Lawyers President Mark Lanier will reveal many new trial techniques, strategies and secrets during The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0.

Along with the wealth of knowledge attendees will receive during Lanier’s educational presentations, pre-conference events will be open for networking opportunities and entertainment, such as a tour of the Lanier Theological Library, a 17,000 sq. ft research library opened in 2010 by Mark Lanier.

The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0 is formatted to add more time in the classroom, offering a three-day intensive trial academy where Lanier will share new material that has not been previously available to attendees. Below, you will find agenda updates of what’s to be presented during Lanier’s seminar:

Monday, June 20 – Registration Day:

Pre-conference events are open to all registered attendees of Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0. Attendees must RSVP for these events* – no walk-ins will be accommodated. Attendees may RSVP for these events when they register for the conference or by emailing Sarah Hudson. These events are first-come, first-served with very limited attendance. If the event is full, there will be an option to be added to the waitlist for that event. Waitlist priority will be determined by conference registration date.

*These events are overlapping and cannot be attended at the same time. Please RSVP for only one event.

Meadow Golf Tour

Take a swing at the Meadow Golf Tour, a scramble-style golf tournament sponsored by Broughton Partners. Transportation to the Royal Oaks Country Club along with a delicious lunch will be provided. Learn more about the Meadow Golf Tour pre-conference event.

Lanier Theological Library Tour & Lemonade Social

Cool down with a fresh glass of lemonade and explore the Lanier Theological Library, a 17,000 sq. ft research library opened in 2010 by Mark Lanier. The library specializes in Biblical Studies, Church History, Egyptology, Archaeology, Linguistics, Theology, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Adjacent to Lanier’s library is a replica of a 500 A.D. Byzantine Chapel. Learn more about the Lanier Theological Library Tour & Lemonade Social.

Tuesday, June 21 – Seminar Day 1:

Mindset: A Different Way Of Thinking

  • Preparing for trial from day one; developing themes throughout discovery.
  • What is the right approach to trying a case?
  • How does one set their thinking right?
  • What work will need to be done in each case, and why?
  • How does one triage the work for efficiency as well as effectiveness?
  • What checklists for supplies and materials are needed?
  • Time effectiveness.
  • Preparing your normal practice for the time you are away in trial.
  • Preparing your family/friends/organizations for the time you are away in trial.
  • Ensuring appropriate resources are available for mind, body, and spirit while away in trial. 
  • Chemistry associated with selecting the trial team.
  • Identifying the trial leader(s) and understanding the chain of command.
  • Critical role of local counsel.
  • What to do with personal issues during trial.

Persuasion: The Latest Explanation Of Effective Communication

  • What is the difference in persuasion and propaganda?
  • How does one respond to propaganda tools of the defense counsel?
  • What is the best explanation for how effective persuasion works?
  • How does psychology affect persuasion?
  • What is the best way to make a presentation memorable?
  • How does one best motivate others to action?
  • What is the difference in teaching and persuasion?
  • What makes one story more believable than another?
  • How do people assess credibility?
  • How do ethics affect these considerations?
  • What are the reasons for road mapping?
  • How does one tell when another is lying?

Persuasion Techniques: The How’s And Why’s

  • How can one become better at communication?
  • What is the difference between audible, oral, and visual communication?
  • What is appropriate non-verbal communication in the courtroom?
  • What are practical ways to enhance one’s skill at communicating?
  • How does one persuade ethically?
  • What is unethical persuasion?
  • Is there a different approach for conservative or progressive jurors?

Wednesday, June 23 – Seminar Day 2:

Visual Aids

  • What makes a good PowerPoint, and how does one do it?
  • What is the effective use of a presentation device (IPEVO/Elmo, etc.)?
  • How does one use visual aids as demonstratives?

Theming And Countertheming

  • What makes an effective theme?
  • How does theming overcome case problems?
  • How does one identify which themes are needed?
  • How does one thwart counter themes of the defendant?
  • The importance of everyday items in constructing demonstratives.
  • Processing cases on the spot, with audience case examples examined.

Trial Structure

  • Mindset differences in small cases and large cases, in one-offs and MDL’s.
  • War room logistics; hardware, software, and security.
  • Negotiating with your hotel for adequate space and cancellation provisions.
  • Identifying loyal local vendors for trial support; 24/7 availability.
  • Ground transportation for plaintiffs and witnesses throughout the trial.
  • Adequate staffing throughout trial, including the briefing and appellate team.
  • Assigning folks to monitor/accompany the plaintiffs and their families throughout the trial. 
  • Assessing and ordering the trial for the greatest effect.
  • Setting exhibits and cross-exhibits.
  • Making sure your best exhibits make it to the jury room.
  • The difference in structure between a long and short trial.
  • The five critical moments of each trial and how to prepare for them.
  • How to dress yourself, your staff, and your witnesses.
  • The best use of focus groups and community attitude surveys.
  • The use and abuse of gallery juries.
  • The ethical implications of surveys and jury work.
  • Rapport and respect for the Court’s staff; you are a guest in that courtroom.
  • Time clock pros and cons.
  • Motions to videotape trial for perpetuation in subsequent trials.
  • Minimizing litigation fatigue for your team, your witnesses and the Court.
  • Logistics associated with presenting witnesses via satellite transmission.
  • Assigning someone with encyclopedic familiarity with motions in limine to be on high alert throughout the trial.
  • Rapport with defense counsel throughout trial.
  • Dealing with Settlement negotiations throughout trial.
  • Dealing with the media.
  • Earning the Court’s respect.
  • The importance of timelines and signposts.
  • Having your witnesses develop a rapport with the jury and Court.
  • Strategy associated with witness order and managing the calendar throughout trial.

Voir Dire

  • The outline of an effective voir dire.
  • Explanations of what makes a difference in jurors and how to select them.
  • The use of questionnaires and models for use.
  • The efficient use of time in selection.
  • What types of questions work best?
  • What questions should be in every voir dire?
  • A special section on Trump jurors and our research.
  • Importance of what can be learned in the post-COVID era about jurors response to COVID, vaccines, etc.

Thursday, June 23 – Seminar Day 3:

Opening

  • The importance of an opening theme.
  • Road-mapping an opening.
  • Structure of a memorable and effective opening.
  • An opening checklist.
  • Samples of opening PowerPoints.

Direct Examinations

  • Preparing the direct.
  • Preparing the witness.
  • A checklist for preparation.
  • The explanation of what is important in style and content of testimony on direct.
  • The ethical considerations in getting witnesses ready.
  • Role of PowerPoint in direct examinations.
  • The difference between a direct of a fact witness, an expert, and a party.

Cross Examinations

  • How depositions prepare for a solid cross examination.
  • Doing the cross examination scrub.
  • The materials needed for cross examination.
  • The importance of attitude in cross.
  • How different witnesses call for different approaches.
  • The ordering of an effective cross.
  • A cross checklist.
  • The practical dynamics of an effective cross.
  • Downfalls and potential problems in cross.
  • Dismantling and setting aright the “Ten Commandments of Cross Examination.”

Damages

  • How does one effectively make a case for damages?
  • What are the ways to get punitive damages?
  • How can one increase the amounts for actuals and punitives?
  • The case for and against asking for a specific amount of damages.
  • Asking for a specific amount of damages, particularly punitive damages, that has a hook with the evidence (“Billion Dollar Baby”)

Closing Argument

  • Tying closing into openings.
  • Explaining jury instructions in closing- when and how to do so.
  • What works in closings and what doesn’t?
  • The differences in closing approach in a short trial and a long trial.
  • Samples of closing arguments that work and those that don’t.

If you are ready to network and learn Lanier’s new material, make plans to attend the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Register now and book your room at the Marriott Marquis Houston.

What is Criminal Law?

Handcuffs and Gavel

Throughout the United States, there are around 10.5 million arrests made each year. This means that an arrest occurs every three seconds–but are they all fair?

Thanks to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, criminal defendants have the right to be represented by a lawyer. If an accused person facing prison or jail time cannot afford a lawyer, the U.S. Constitution requires the state to provide legal representation for the accused party. 

Criminal events can be very intricate, especially concerning several charges and defendants. Anytime you are charged with criminal activity, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair treatment while building a strong defense. 

Criminal Law

For most people, familiarity with the criminal justice system comes from movies, TV shows, and books. Nevertheless, when personally involved with the criminal law system, real-life issues come into play, and the need for information and assistance can arise quickly. 

Criminal law is composed of issues that arise from criminal offenses. Criminal offenses are defined by federal, state, or local regulations ranging from serious criminal activity, such as murder, to minor infractions, such as running a red light. Within criminal law, there are criminal punishments, which are also established by statutory law, and are usually consistent with the severity of the crime. Minor offenses are only able to be punishable with fines or short-term probation. Depending on the conditions and jurisdiction, violent crimes can result in prison time, life sentences, and sometimes even a death sentence. 

A crime is an act or omission that establishes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law. The majority of crimes are defined by statute and will vary across different states and counties. The Model Penal Code (MPC) provides a good overview of the most common types of crimes, while the U.S. Code provides a list of all federal crimes. Check your local penal code for a list of crimes in your state or local municipality.

To understand criminal law, there are a few terms that you should become familiar with:

  • Charge– A formal allegation of criminal actions
  • Indictment– A formal charge authorized by a grand jury
  • Arraignment– A pretrial proceeding in which an individual accused of committing a crime is brought into court, notified of their charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty 
  • Felony– A serious crime that is punishable by more than a year in prison
  • Misdemeanor– A criminal offense with a punishment less severe than a felony but typically punishable by less than a year in jail
  • Infraction– A minor offense or administrative violation typically punishable only by a fine 
  • Reasonable doubt–  A defendant can only be convicted if the jury believes the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; the highest burden of proof in the U.S. legal system
  • Plea bargain– The process by which a defendant and prosecutor negotiate a compromise; the defendant usually pleads guilty to one or more offenses in exchange for a lighter sentence or possible termination of other pending charges
  • Miranda rights– The legal rights that an arresting officer must offer a suspect before police question the suspect; these rights consist of the right to remain silent, to have a lawyer present during any/all police questioning, and to have a lawyer provided by the state at no expense if the suspect cannot afford one

The System and Procedure

The criminal justice system includes the entire criminal process–from the investigation and arrest to the conviction and sentencing– and each person that plays a role in the process. These can include law enforcement officers, prosecuting attorneys, bail bondsmen, criminal defense attorneys, judges, witnesses, probation officers, and corrections officers. 

During any phase of the criminal process, a person suspected of or charged with a crime is entitled to certain fundamental rights from the U.S. Constitution and other court decisions. These include the right to a lawyer and the right to a fast jury trial. These civil liberties balance the government’s goal of recognizing and punishing criminal behavior and the fundamental need to preserve and promote the individual freedoms that characterize a democratic society.

Prosecution of Crimes

While specific criminal acts vary by jurisdiction, they can be broadly characterized as felonies and misdemeanors. As outlined above, felonies include more violent crimes, like murder and rape, and are punishable by imprisonment of one year or more. Misdemeanors are not as severe and are punishable by less than a year of prison or fines. 

Unless a crime is a strict liability crime, meaning that no mental state is required, statutes typically break crimes into two separate elements: an act and a mental state. For instance, these components can be knowingly or recklessly. For a defendant to be convicted of a crime, a prosecutor must show that the defendant has met both of these elements. For example, larceny is the taking of another party’s property with the intent to deprive them of it permanently. With this example, if a defendant performed the act of taking the property and did so with the mental intention of taking another’s property, it would be feasible to prosecute the defendant for committing a crime. 

Nonetheless, if a prosecutor suggests that the defendant committed a crime but is not able to prove each element of the crime, that is not enough to charge a defendant. A prosecutor has to be able to prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt for a defendant to be convicted. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other government officials must also follow certain criminal procedures when pursuing criminal activity. This is because all citizens have constitutional rights that the federal government must respect and protect. If these rights are not respected, it is possible to prevent a prosecutor from obtaining a conviction in a case. The U.S. Constitution sets forth these rights and protections offered to defendants. 

Common Criminal Defenses

When a defendant goes on trial for supposedly committing a crime, a prosecutor must establish that the defendant is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. However, concurrently, the criminal defendant has the right to present a defense and can do so in numerous ways. Many criminal defenses are available within criminal law that allows defendants to avoid punishment for their actions. Some of the most common criminal defenses include:

State of Mind and Intent

One category of defense available to defendants is arguing that they cannot be found guilty because they were not aware of what they were doing or that their actions were wrong. At its most severe, this can include the defense of insanity. The defense of insanity requires the defendant to prove that they had a mental disorder that caused them to be incapable of understanding right from wrong or prevented them from controlling their actions and resisting violent impulses. In many states, the defense of insanity will keep defendants out of prison but require them to be held in a psychiatric facility for treatment.

Likewise, the defense of intoxication also relies on the theory that the defendant cannot meet all of the elements of the crime because they did not understand what they were doing. If the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated, this could be a defense to both the general and specific intent crimes under the theory that the intoxication prevented the defendant from understanding right from wrong. Voluntary intoxication is another defense, but only to specific intent crimes when the defendant argues that their intoxication prevented them from forming the intent necessary for the crime. 

Also, a criminal defendant can argue the mistake of law or fact. Under this defense, the defendant made a basic mistake that negates a component of the crime. For instance, a defendant charged with robbery can argue that he thought the victim had given him the property. Likewise, a mistake of law applies when a criminal defendant believes their actions were legal; however, this defense applies in few circumstances.

Justification

Another common defense category applies when the defendant committed the crime but argues that they were justified in doing so. Two of the most commonly recognized defenses under justification are self-defense and defense of others. A defendant can argue that he shot an intruder to defend themselves because the intruder threatened him with a violent weapon. Similarly, under the duress defense, the criminal defendant argues that they only committed the crime because they were forced to do so by another person. For instance, a criminal defendant can say that a co-defendant told him that the co-defendant would kill him if he didn’t commit the theft. Lastly, the criminal defendant can argue that they committed the crime to prevent more significant harm under a necessity defense. For example, the defendant may claim that they needed to steal a car to chase down another individual who was threatening them with an incendiary device. 

A similar defense is that of defense-of-property. The defense of property can arise where the defendant used force or violence to protect property, such as land or items, from damage or destruction. A limitation with the defense of property is the amount of force used to protect property can never be lethal. 

No Crime Occurred

Lastly, a smaller set of defenses can be used to argue that even though it may appear there was a crime, the defendant did not commit a criminal act. The defendant can claim that no crime occurred because of the defense of consent. For example, the defendant can argue that although sexual intercourse happened, it was not raping because there was consent. A criminal defendant can claim the defense of abandonment/withdrawal if they originally intended to commit or participate in a crime but changed their mind and withdrew from participation. Another possible argument could be entrapment. Entrapment can happen when the government convinces an individual to commit a crime and then attempts to punish the person for it. The defendant can argue that no crime would have occurred without the government’s coercion, and they should not be held liable.

Steps in the Criminal Law Process

It is important to remember that not every criminal case will follow the same road. The steps in the criminal law process described below are not all-encompassing. Some cases can be straightforward and not involve every step, and others can be more complicated and involve most or all of the steps in the process. 

  • Investigation
  • Charging
  • Initial hearing/arraignment
  • Discovery
  • Plea bargaining
  • Preliminary Hearing
  • Pre-Trial Motions
  • Trial
  • Post-Trial Motions
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal

Investigation

The federal government has agencies that employ criminal investigators to collect and provide information to U.S. Attorneys in corresponding districts. The investigators at these agencies will investigate the crime, obtain evidence, and help prosecutors grasp the case. During this step, prosecutors will look for two types of evidence: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence is any evidence that supports the truth without any interference. For example, testimony from an eyewitness would be direct evidence because the person physically saw the crime. Circumstantial evidence is a statement(s) or information taken indirectly or not based on first-hand experience—for example, a testimony about something that happened before or after the crime occurred.  

Charging

After all of the evidence from investigators is collected, the prosecutor will decide if the case should be presented to a grand jury. When a person becomes indicted, they are given a formal notice that it is believed they committed a crime. The indictment is composed of basic information that informs the person of the charges against them. For potential felony charges, a prosecutor will present the evidence to an unbiased group of citizens called a grand jury. Witnesses can be called to testify, evidence is given to the grand jury, and a summary of the case is presented to the grand jury. The grand jury listens to the prosecutor and witnesses and then votes on if they believe that enough evidence exists to charge the person with a crime. They can decide not to charge the individual after receiving the evidence, leading to no indictment from the grand jury. If a defendant is charged, they can hire a lawyer of their choice or choose to be represented by a lawyer appointed by the government.

Initial Hearing/Arraignment 

After the individual is charged, either that same day or a day later, they will be brought before a magistrate judge for an initial hearing on their case. At this time, the defendant will be given their rights, learn more about the charges they are facing, be given a lawyer (or choose a lawyer), and the judge will decide if the defendant will be released or held in prison until the trial. Sometimes, the law allows the defendant to be released from jail before the trial if they meet bail. If the defendant does not post bail, the judge can demand that the defendant remains in the U.S. Marshals’ custody pending trial. The defendant will also have to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges during this step.

Discovery

Before the trial starts, a prosecutor must learn as much about the case as possible. During the discovery phase, the prosecutor will talk to witnesses, study the evidence, and anticipate any issues during trial. At the same time, the defense attorney will be preparing the same way. Both the defense attorney and prosecutor will call witnesses to testify. Prosecutors must also provide the defendant with copies of information and evidence that are intended to be used during the trial. This process is called discovery and continues from the time the case begins to the time of the actual trial.

Plea Bargaining

If the government believes they have a strong case, sometimes they will offer the defendant a plea deal to avoid a trial or reduce their exposure to a longer sentence. A defendant can only plead guilty if they committed the crime and admit it in an open court before a judge. After admitting to the crime, they can be “sentenced” by the judge presiding over the court (and only that judge). Sometimes the government will agree, as a part of the plea bargain, to not recommend an enhanced sentence, but ultimately it is left up to the judge to determine how the defendant will be punished. If a defendant pleads guilty, there will be no trial, but the next step is to prepare for a preliminary hearing.

Preliminary Hearing

An initial hearing will most times be held as soon as the defendant pleads not guilty. The prosecutor needs to show that enough proof exists to charge the defendant. Preliminary hearings are not always required, and the defendant can choose to waive them. The preliminary hearing is similar to a mini-hearing. The prosecution will introduce the evidence and call witnesses to testify, and the defense can cross-examine witnesses. However, the defense cannot object to using specific evidence. Evidence can be presented at the preliminary hearing that was not allowed to be shown to the jury at trial. The preliminary hearing will conclude with the judge scheduling a trial if they believe the defendant committed the crime, or they will dismiss the charges if they believe the defendant did not commit the crime.

Pre-Trial Motions

One of the very last steps before trial is for a prosecutor to answer or file motions. A motion can affect the trial, courtroom, defendants, evidence, or even testimonies. Only judges will decide the outcome of a motion. 

Trial

After a long preparation period, the prosecutor is ready for the trial. This is the process in which the facts of the case are presented to a jury, and they decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. During this period, witnesses testify and evidence is presented against the defendant. The defendant will also be able to present his side, with the help of a defense attorney, also using witnesses and evidence. The prosecutor and defense attorney must choose a selection of jurors for this case to listen to the facts of the case and decide if the defendant committed the crime. During the trial, each side will go over opening statements, witness examinations, objections, and closing arguments. Following the closing arguments, the judge will inform the jury of the appropriate law and what they must do to reach a verdict. After being charged, the jury will go into deliberation and, after agreeing on a verdict, will notify the judges, attorneys, and defendant in an open court.

Post-Trial Motions

If the defendant is found guilty and convicted of the crime, many motions can be filed after the trial. Those can include:

  • Motion for a new trial
  • Motion for judgment of acquittal
  • Motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence

Sentencing

A couple of months after the defendant is found guilty; they will return to court to be sentenced. After receiving guidance from many sources, the judge will decide the defendant’s sentence. The judge will consider any aggravating or mitigating factors, such as whether the defendant had committed the same crime before, whether the defendant seemed to regret the crime, and the nature of the crime itself.

Appeal

If a defendant believes they were wrongfully convicted or the sentence was too cruel, they can appeal to the Circuit Court. An appeal is the opportunity to raise specific errors that may have occurred at trial. Appeals are often complex and can result in the case returning to trial. Even after a circuit court judge decides an appeal, a defendant can try to appeal that decision to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Criminal events can be very complex. If you have been charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to hire legal representation to help navigate you through this process.

What to Do if You Have Suffered From Scarring or Disfigurement

Asian Man with Scar on Head

On average, over 100 million patients acquire scars across the developed world each year. A variety of issues can cause these scars during a medical operation or surgery. There are 55 million elective operations and 25 million surgeries following trauma-related accidents. Some of these medical operations can cause considerable problems, which lead to scarring that can last forever.

Too often, traumatic injuries result in permanent injuries, such as scarring and disfigurement. Whether it is from a vehicle accident, heavy machinery accident, animal attack, burn, or amputation, visible scarring and disfigurement can be humiliating and, in some cases, can permanently change an individual’s life. It can deprive them of certain jobs and their overall quality of life, whether it be the loss of friends or potential romantic partners.

What is Scarring and Disfigurement?

Suffering any kind of injury can cause immediate, physical damage that can be detrimental, but not many people think of the lasting difficulties these traumatic injuries leave. Many patients who suffer injuries are left with permanent imperfections–scars and disfigurements– that present a physical reminder of their trauma and emotional harm. 

Scars

Scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process and are the result of the biological function of wound repair within the skin and neighboring tissues. Scars form when the dermis (a deep, thick layer of the skin) is damaged. Most scars, with the exception of minor ones, result in some level of scarring. 

Scars result from the skin being punctured due to an accident or surgical operation. They may occur after an injury from a vehicle accident, animal attack, or other severe accident; however, they can also arise from an utterly uneventful injury, such as a small scrape or cut. 

Scars can look thick and red, but most will fade and heal with time. Many factors influence the way a scar will eventually look, like the type, location, size, and seriousness of the injury, how the injury was treated, and genetic factors. There are three different types of scars, including:

  • Keloid Scars: These scars are most commonly the result of an overly aggressive healing process. They go beyond the original injury and, over time, can inhibit movement. Treatments for keloid scars can include surgery to remove the scar, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten out the scar. Smaller keloids can be treated using a therapy that freezes the scar using liquid nitrogen, known as cryotherapy. To prevent keloids from forming, you can use pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone after you have been injured. Keloid scars are most common among individuals with darker skin.
  • Contracture Scars: A contracture scar usually forms after your skin has been burned. These scars will tighten the skin, hindering your ability to move. These scars also go deeper than the surface, sometimes affecting muscles and nerves. 
  • Hypertrophic Scars: These raised, red scars are most similar to keloids but do not go beyond the border of the injury. Treatments include steroid injections to reduce the inflammation of the scar or silicone sheet injections to flatten the scar.

A fully healed scar’s look can be enhanced by surgical procedures, dermabrasion, laser treatment, topical treatments, radiotherapy, microdermabrasion, microneedling, etc. However, a scar will never mirror the appearance of the skin before the injury happened. For many people, scars remind them of a painful time in their lives and can seriously change their quality of life if the scar is on a prominent part of the body such as the face, chest, or extremities.

Disfigurement

Disfigurement is the state of a person’s appearance that is intensely and persistently harmed medically by a birth defect, disease, or injury. For example, a burn, scar, skin texture, missing body limb, or an unusually-shaped body part can affect a person’s appearance. Disfigurement can lead to depression, negative body images, never-ending concerns about other people’s reactions to their disfigurement, strains in one’s professional, social, and sexual, and other issues.

Various accidents, including vehicle accidents, heavy machinery accidents, animal attacks, amputation, burns, etc., can all lead to a person’s disfigurement. Acts of violence, such as assault, can also lead to disfigurement. Along with the original injury that caused the disfigurement, which is already traumatic, the physical reminder of your trauma can lead to additional emotional and mental stresses that sometimes lead to depression or suicidal thoughts. 

Surgeries, such as plastic or reconstructive surgery, can often help a person reduce the look of the disfigurement. Although surgery can sometimes completely fix the disfigurement, that is not always the case. On top of the uncertainty of the success of these surgeries, they are expensive and, in many cases, extremely risky. Being able to recover financial compensation after an injury has occurred can go a long way towards fully and healthily recovering from that injury and any lasting physical difficulties that may go with it. 

Types of Accidents That Cause Scars & Disfigurement

Most accidents can lead to scarring of any part of the body. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Fires: Fires sometimes lead to burns, the most common type of fire-related injury. When the body is exposed to extreme heat, tissue damage occurs, leading to severe scarring and disfigurement. There are four degrees of severity used to identify burns:
    • First-degree: the mildest type of burn that only affects the top layer of the skin. Usually heals within a few days of the burn occurring.
    • Second-degree: this burn damages a deeper layer of skin. Usually, second-degree burns will blister the skin, are very painful, and can take up to a few weeks to heal.
    • Third-degree: third-degree burns damage all layers of the skin. Sometimes, these burns are not as painful due to the damage to underlying nerves. These burns will not heal without medical treatment and sometimes require surgery and skin grafts.
    • Fourth-degree: the worst type of burn a person can suffer. These burns functionally destroy each layer of skin, leading to muscle, bone, and nerve damage. They can be life-threatening and often require multiple surgeries, and in some cases, amputation.
  • Defective Products: When a defective product, like a defective vehicle, airplane, medical device, workplace product, etc., malfunctions, it can cause severe damage. These products can become faulty at any time and cause lacerations, loss of limbs, and other life-threatening injuries that can leave lasting scarring and disfigurement.
  • Explosions: The burns caused by explosions can be severe, causing long-term and sometimes life-threatening scarring and disfigurements. Explosions can also result in first, second, third, and fourth-degree burns. Some of the most common explosion burns are the result of:
    • Natural gas explosions
    • Improperly stored chemicals
    • Electronic cigarette explosions
    • Defective phone batteries
  • Medical Malpractice: When a victim endures an injury because of the negligence of a doctor or surgical error that could have been prevented, severe scarring and disfigurement can take place. Medical malpractice can lead to unnecessary limb loss, life-threatening injuries, and permanent (and unnecessary) scarring and disfigurement.
  • Falls: Falls from high surfaces, rough terrain, or dangerous conditions can be extremely harmful. They can cause severe puncture wounds or even the loss of a limb when an object pierces a victim after falling to a lower level. 
  • Animal attacks, including dog bites: Attacks from animals such as cats, dogs, snakes, horses, cows, and other pets, can lead to permanent scars from puncture wounds, scratches, and lacerations. 
  • Being hit by an object on someone else’s property: When an individual is on another person’s property, and there are no warning signs of possible dangers, they can become severely injured. When struck with a large or sharp object, the person can suffer minor to severe lacerations and puncture wounds leading to life-long scarring and disfigurement.
  • Being exposed to hazardous chemicals/toxins: When in close contact with skin, dangerous chemicals can cause severe burns as a result of their highly corrosive nature. These burns can be first, second, third, or fourth-degree burns and usually result in visible scarring and disfigurement.
  • Construction accidents: Construction accidents frequently happen and result in minor to severe injuries. Falling objects, falls from high surfaces, caught between accidents, fires, explosions, electrical accidents, and defective equipment are all accidents that can result in burns, lacerations, and limb loss. Burns can range from first-degree to fourth-degree, causing severe scarring and disfigurement. Lacerations and limb loss can cause serious scars and disfigurement as well.
  • Heavy machinery/equipment accidents: Heavy machinery and equipment accidents can be detrimental and sometimes fatal. Because of the size and weight of heavy machinery, it can result in limb loss or severe lacerations to the individual operating the machine or those within close distance to the machine. Oftentimes, heavy machinery and equipment injury victims are left with permanent scars and disfigurement.
  • Automobile Accidents (motorcycle, truck, car, etc.): Automobile accidents can cause serious lacerations and cuts from shattered glass and airbag explosions. Scars can result from the initial injury or result from the extensive healing process, such as surgery scars.

All of the accidents above can cause a victim physical damage as well as emotional damage. The majority of the injuries that these victims face will result in long-term care, such as multiple surgeries, continued therapy (both mental and physical), or a combination of both. 

Liability and Damages

Like various other personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff trying to recover damages from scarring and disfigurement that were the result of an accident caused by someone else must establish four elements by a prevalence of the evidence:

  • Duty: A duty arises when it is legally acknowledged that a relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff exists, requiring the defendant to act in a particular manner, usually with a standard of care, toward the plaintiff. A judge will determine whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and most likely will find that a duty does exist if a reasonable person would find that a duty exists in similar circumstances.
  • Breach of duty: It is not enough to only prove that another person owed you a duty. An injury lawyer must also be able to prove that the negligent party breached their duty to the plaintiff. A defendant has breached their duty if they fail to exercise reasonable care when performing the duty. Unlike the question of a duty existing, the issue of if a defendant breached a duty of care is decided by a jury. 
  • Causation: Causation requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant’s negligence was the only cause of their injury. There is no question that someone can act negligently; however, the plaintiff must show that negligence was the sole cause of the injury to recover damages. This element also looks at if the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that their actions would have caused an injury. If the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury through an unexpected act of nature, the injury will most likely not be considered unforeseeable (meaning the defendant will not likely be found liable).
  • Damages: The final element is “damages.” This requires that the court be able to compensate the plaintiff for their injury, through economic and sometimes non-economic compensation.

Noneconomic and economic damages are available for scarring and disfigurement victims. The monetary portion of damages usually includes medical bills, loss of income, and future loss of income. 

Noneconomic damages are generally composed of pain and suffering and mental anguish. These damages will vary depending on what a juror believes is a natural reaction to the standard and location of the scarring or disfigurement that an individual has suffered.

The value of a scar or disfigurement will be different for everyone. Each insurance company and its adjusters will see the value of a victim’s scar or disfigurement very different than the victim. However, some factors that are almost always considered when deciding what the value of a scar or disfigurement is, include:

  • The age of the injured victim
  • If the scar or disfigurement is permanent
  • The gender and marital status of the victim
  • Where the scar or disfigurement is located
  • The color, size, and visibility 

If you can prove that your scarring and disfigurement were the results of the negligence of another party, that party can most likely be held responsible for any damage you have already suffered and future corrective damages you may face. 

Scarring and Disfigurement Damages Allowed

If you are injured in a way that leads to permanent scarring and disfigurement because of another person’s carelessness, you most likely will be able to make a claim for your damages. You could possibly be entitled to:

  • Medical costs related to treatment. These costs can include bills from:
    • Doctors that have treated underlying problems
    • Plastic surgeons who performed reconstructive surgeries
    • Psychologists and psychiatrists who helped the victim with their emotional damage
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Lost earnings from the days you were not able to work or from future loss of earnings

The monetary figure of the damage will depend on:

  • The body part that was affected
  • How deep, long, and severe the wound was
  • The change in the victim’s quality of life

Scarring and disfigurement can substantially change a person’s life. The treatments they will need are costly, may need to be repeated, and could possibly not result in any improvement at all. Even with care from the best medical professionals, scarring and disfigurement victims can still suffer permanent, and embarrassing changes to their appearance. 

Sometimes a disfigured victim may need counseling/therapy for their emotional distress, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Scarring and disfigurement are among the type of severe and permanent injuries that sometimes allow a vehicle accident victim to seek non-economic damages rather than solely economic damages through their own no-fault benefits. 

The settlement of a scar or disfigurement case will vary depending on the characteristics of the accident victim. For example, insurance companies and jurors typically treat young ladies with a facial scar differently than someone who suffers scarring on their abdomen. It is assumed that young women will undergo more significant stress due to their altered appearance. Furthermore, the face can be harder to treat because the tissues and muscles are more complicated in this part of the body. In addition, an accident victim whose career depends on her appearance, such as a model or actress, can most times recover a larger amount of noneconomic damages than a more unsociable, elderly, or male accident victim.

If you have suffered a scar or disfigurement, it is crucial to ensure that your doctor has documented it in your medical records and has specified whether there is a permanent or remaining effect. It is also crucial for your doctor to document if it has hindered your mobility in the affected area. These medical records will support your claim to the defendant’s insurance company or the jury for the compensation you are pursuing. The more documented proof you have against the negligent party, the better your chances are to collect the compensation you deserve.

The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0: New THIRD Day

Are you ready for more time in the classroom with Mark Lanier? Then join us for the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, presented by The National Trial Lawyers, on June 20 – 23, 2022, in Houston, TX! This conference will be held at the Marriott Marquis Houston, home of the world’s largest Texas-shaped rooftop lazy river. Featuring 150,000 square feet of event space, this is the perfect location to reconnect with fellow plaintiffs’ lawyers and learn some of Mark’s strategies and secrets that have led him and the Lanier Law Firm to over $20 billion in verdicts. If you have not done so already, make sure to book your room under our exclusive discounted room rate before it expires on Friday, May 27

This Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0 has been formatted to add more time in the classroom, offering a THREE-day intensive trial academy where Mark Lanier will share new material that has not been previously available to attendees. This year’s brand-new material will focus on the importance of communication, presentation, and powerpoints in the courtroom, how to construct the most effective opening and closing statements, identifying liars, and so much more. Other topics will include voir dire, non-verbal cues, trial preparation, discovery, examinations, and time management. For complete details on each session, please view our full agenda

If you are ready to learn the techniques it takes to be the best trial lawyer you can be, you will not want to miss this year’s Lanier Trial Academy. Spots are filling up fast, so register today and book your room on or before May 27 to take advantage of our exclusive discounted room rate.

Different Types of Surgical Errors

Operating,Room,Doctor,Or,Surgeon,Anatomy,On,Advanced,Robotic,Surgery

More than 200 million surgeries are executed each year globally, and regardless of the awareness of adverse effects, surgical mistakes still take place at an alarmingly high rate. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in the United States alone, at least 4,000 surgical errors happen each year.

Although most surgeries performed in the United States go well, sometimes serious errors take place during the operation due to the negligence of a medical professional. When this happens, you may be able to submit a medical malpractice claim and seek compensation for your damages.

Whether a patient’s surgery is “minor” or severe, the last thing they want to hear is that a mistake happened. However, just because an error occurred does not automatically mean that it was due to medical malpractice. Throughout this article, you will find information that will detail different types of surgical errors, help you determine when a surgical error becomes medical malpractice and if your case qualifies for compensation.

Surgical Errors

In simple terms, a surgical error is an avoidable mistake that happens during surgical treatment. As we all know, all surgeries pose some element of risk. Due to this, it is not uncommon to sign a form prior to undergoing surgical treatment that states that you understand that surgery involves a known risk. This is called “informed consent.” However, surgical risks go far beyond the known risks of surgery–they are unexpected. 

Different Types of Surgical Errors

There are several kinds of surgical errors that a medical professional can commit, leading to long-lasting complications for clients and their loved ones. Some common surgical errors include:

  • Infection – Infection occurs when using unsanitary surgical instruments or devices during surgery causes cross-contamination of disease. If the patient is already immunocompromised, the result can be infection and even sepsis, which can be fatal.  
  • Wrong Site Surgery – Wrong site surgery occurs when a client’s surgical treatment is performed on the incorrect body part or organ. In fact, there have been numerous circumstances where clients have had the incorrect limb amputated.
  • Surgical Instruments Left in the Body – This is actually more common than one would think. Sometimes surgical instruments are left inside the body after an incision is sutured. A lot of hospitals require that all instruments, devices, gauzes, etc., be accounted for before and after surgery, but not all do. Serious complications and infections can arise from surgical instruments being left inside the body.
  • Wrong Patient/Unnecessary Surgery – Wrong patient surgery is not as typical as wrong site surgery; nevertheless, it still does happen. When a patient receives unnecessary surgery, combined with the issues that come with surgery, it can have negative, lifelong consequences.
  • Damage to Internal Organs – When organs and tissue are damaged during surgical treatment, a surrounding organ can be mistakenly pierced or punctured with surgical instruments such as scalpels, scissors, or even lasers. Organ tissue is especially delicate, and if it becomes punctured or pierced, it can result in major and lifelong health problems.
  • Nerve Damage – When a surgeon makes a physical error while administering anesthesia, it can cause the patient to suffer minor to serious nerve damage. This can be due to an inexperienced or negligent surgeon and can result in paralysis and other complications.

Complications That Result From Surgical Errors

No matter what the cause was for your surgical error, it can trigger lethal or incapacitating complications, including:

  • Nerve Damage – As we touched on above, nerve damage can cause numerous complications. Those include muscle weakness and partial or full paralysis in the location that is impacted. In some instances, additional surgeries and physical rehabilitation might be required in order to help patients restore strength.
  • Organ Damage – Damage to internal organs is a possible complication, specifically in instances where a surgeon uses the wrong equipment, surgical instruments, or surgical techniques.
  • Scarring – Operating on the wrong body part or the incorrect side of the body can often lead to unnecessary scarring.
  • Internal Bleeding – While bleeding risks come with all surgical treatments, internal bleeding can be the outcome of negligence or unnecessary roughness during surgery. When there is internal bleeding after surgery, it can go undetected and significantly increase the risk of death or serious complications for the patient.
  • Disfigurement – When serious surgical errors occur, a patient can become disfigured. A surgical error can result in the unnecessary amputation of a limb or the amputation of the wrong limb.
  • Disability – When a client suffers from a lack of oxygen during a procedure, too much anesthesia, or unintentional nerve damage, it can result in temporary or irreversible disabilities such as parietal or complete paralysis.
  • Death – Unfortunately, each year, many patients die as the result of preventable surgical errors.

Treatments After Surgical Error

Due to the severe nature that surgical errors often pose, extensive and continuous care to treat or fix the mistake is unavoidable. A couple of common treatments following surgical errors include:

  • Additional Surgeries to Correct Damage – In many surgical error cases, additional procedures are required in order to fix the damage. These extra surgeries can increase a patient’s danger of developing infections and other issues and can become very expensive.
  • At-Home Care – Serious injuries may need extended at-home care from a nurse, doctor, or other medical professionals. If the surgical error has led to paralysis, a patient might need a wheelchair or other equipment to help assist their injuries. In this case, a patient’s house or car may need to be modified to accommodate such injuries or devices. Additional care, equipment, etc., can become pricey.
  • Ongoing Need for Rehabilitation – Many surgical errors result in injuries that need long-lasting physical or mental rehabilitation. A patient may need physical treatment to relearn basic functions, such as walking, speaking, or eating. This will lead to long-lasting therapies and rehabilitation, which can become very costly. 

Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?

No two surgeries are the same. That is why each surgical error has the potential to be unique. However, here are some common reasons that surgical errors take place:

  • Neglect – A lot of times, surgeons are simply not as careful as they need to be. This may include failing to ensure that their surgical instruments are sanitized correctly or the decision to use equipment that is known to be defective. 
  • Poor Communication – Failing to communicate properly can cause a substantial amount of errors. For instance, a surgeon might mark the wrong website for surgical treatment or fail to ensure that all devices are properly handled. Miscommunication can likewise cause an improper dose of medication. Any of these can lead to serious repercussions.
  • Fatigue – Due to surgeons infamously working long shifts, this is rather typical. This frequently leads to fatigue, and tired individuals are more likely to make mistakes compared to people who are well-rested.
  • Drugs/Alcohol – Due to the high-stress level that numerous surgeons deal with, some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. It might be surprising to some that a surgeon would even think to get in an operating room under the influence of drugs or alcohol; however, it does occur.
  • Improper Work Process – Sometimes, surgeons may mistakenly determine that they do not need to take certain steps during an operation and take shortcuts. These shortcuts can become expensive when it comes to something as serious as surgical treatment.
  • Incompetence – In some instances, a surgeon may not have performed the operation many times and merely lacks the knowledge, skill, or experience that it takes to perform the surgical treatment effectively. This might sound unusual; however, it can happen, and it does.
  • Inadequate Preoperative Planning – When a surgeon is not prepared for surgery, it can become destructive. It is important to review and prepare for any complications that may happen. This is not just limited to surgeons but can include improper preparation by nurses and assistants, failing to guarantee all equipment is prepared and ready when needed by the surgeon.

The list of possible causes continues. However, if you think your surgical mistake was due to the negligence of another, you will more than likely be able to pursue a medical malpractice case.

What is Medical Malpractice?

When you are injured due to a surgical error, you might be wondering if it means that medical malpractice has actually occurred. Although many times it may, the mere fact that a surgical error occurred does not mean that someone (or anybody) is liable for medical malpractice. In order to figure out if it is medical malpractice, the medical treatment in question, whether it was surgery or not, has to follow the practices of an accepted medical standard of care. Furthermore, the sub-standard treatment must have directly harmed you.

In other terms, if the medical error did not fall below the medical standard of care, or the treatment/surgery did not cause you harm, no malpractice occurred. A basic standard of care means “the type and level of care that a normal, sensible physician, with the comparable training and experience, would provide under the very same, or comparable, circumstances in the same community.”

In the majority of surgical error cases, it is reasonably simple to prove that your physician’s treatment was below the standard of care. If you are able to show that a surgical error violated that standard of care, the issue becomes whether or not you were hurt by the error.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim Following Your Surgical Error

Although surgical mistakes are not always as obvious as leaving gauze inside a patient or operating on the incorrect body part, they can come in a more subtle form, such as a surgeon failing to exercise sensible care at any point throughout the surgery. It’s crucial to remember that doctors are humans, and like the rest of us, they too can be tired from working a lot of hours in a day when performing surgery or become sick but still show up to work. It is not as easy to “call in sick” when you are a surgeon that has several operations set up in a day. 

However, whether the surgical injury could have been avoided if the standard of care had been exercised is the problem at hand. When developing the medical standard of care in a medical malpractice case, there are a number of crucial steps. Those include:

  • Determine what a reasonably skilled surgeon would have done under the same circumstances.
  • Show how the surgeon in question failed to meet that medical standard of care during the operation.
  • Prove that the surgeon’s negligence was what caused the patient harm.

Once those three key factors have been established, you most likely have a valid medical malpractice case. What you do next is very important. 

Hire An Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

As soon as you have established that you have a feasible medical malpractice case, it is essential to consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Despite the kind of surgical error you have experienced, having a well-informed attorney who has experience in medical malpractice claims makes all the difference. They will have an understanding of common surgeries and the threats they pose as well as the resources to talk to medical professionals on what the medical standard of care is. These third-party medical professionals are a huge asset to figuring out if a surgical error, in fact, happened and if it was the error that caused the issues the patient is presently dealing with.

Your legal representative can fight insurance companies and bigger corporations that typically own health centers or surgical centers to ensure that you get the compensation that you truly deserve. Because surgical errors can cause severe, life-long difficulties, your lawyer can look for damages to compensate you for both present and future complications.

Who Can Be Held Liable for My Surgical Errors?

In some circumstances, surgical mistakes may not be found for days, weeks, months, or perhaps years after an operation happens. For example, if a medical instrument or piece of gauze is left inside the patient, it could remain inside the client and not trigger any harm until long after the surgical treatment took place. In these cases, a patient might not remember who the operating surgeon was or not be able to find them since they no longer work at the same hospital.

However, there are lots of contributing elements that result in medical mistakes, and it may not only be the surgeon that is responsible for your surgical error injuries. In some cases, the medical facility in which the operation happened can be held vicariously liable for medical professionals’ negligence. 

Under the legal doctrine “respondeat superior,” an employer can be held liable for the carelessness of one of its employees as long as the careless act occurred within the scope of employment. This means that a hospital can be held vicariously liable for a medical mistake of a doctor as long as the following things can be proved:

  • The injury occurred while the employee was on the clock
  • The injury was the result of an activity the employee was hired to perform
  • The employer benefited in some way from the activity the employee performed at the time of the injury

Sometimes, hospitals will say that the medical professionals that performed the operation were not actual employees but instead were independent contractors, and therefore there is no hospital malpractice. However, the hospital can be held responsible for its own negligence if it fails to properly investigate the credentials of an acting physician before allowing them to operate at the hospital or allowing a physician to treat patients when the hospital knew they were incompetent. 

Vicarious liability applies to both hospitals and doctors themselves for mistakes that resulted from negligence. This includes mistakes made by interns and medical students who were operating under a doctor’s supervision. 

What Damages Can A Lawyer Help Me Recover From My Surgical Error?

If you have proven that a negligent surgeon was the reason for your injuries, you may be able to collect compensation through a medical malpractice case. Some common types of economic and non-economic compensatory damages you may be eligible for consist of:

  • Medical Expenses – treatments, doctor visits, physical therapy, additional surgeries, and assistive aids that your injury has left you with can all be reimbursed to you.
  • Disfigurement – if your injury leaves you with hair loss, missing or deformed body parts, scars, or any other obvious visual changes, you can be compensated for disfigurement.
  • Pain and Suffering – any physical pain and discomfort you have experienced after a surgeon harmed you, you can be compensated for. The monetary amount will be determined by the specific injury you faced as well as the length of your recovery.
  • Mental Anguish – any anxiety, distress, depression, and trauma you face are all types of mental anguish that can warrant compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. 
  • Loss of Consortium – any loss of physical intimacy or companionship with a partner or spouse that your injuries caused may be compensated.
  • Disability – if your injury leaves you disabled and you are not able to work or participate in activities that you were able to before your surgery, you may be able to receive compensation.
  • Loss of Income – if you miss work due to your injury and the recovery process, you can be compensated for any past, present, and future wages.

The unfortunate truth is that thousands of patients are injured by surgical errors each year. These preventable mistakes often lead to medical malpractice claims against medical providers, hospitals, and surgical centers. The injuries that patients face from surgical errors can be very severe and sometimes even end in lifelong care and treatment. Not only do victims of surgical errors face physical damage, but they can also experience emotional and financial damage as well.

Bigger and Better: The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0

On June 20 – 23, 2022, The National Trial Lawyers will present the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, hosted at the Marriott Marquis Houston in Houston, Texas. This conference, exclusively for plaintiff lawyers, will feature more time in the classroom, offering an intensive THREE-day trial academy led by accomplished trial attorney Mark Lanier. The Lanier Trial Academy will offer pre-conference networking events as well as extensive educational modules focusing on communication, powerpoints, presentations, and so much more.

To kick off the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, the Meadow Golf Tour, sponsored by Broughton Partners, will be held Monday at noon. This is a scramble-style golf tournament at the Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, TX, where attendees can enjoy an afternoon of friendly competition while networking with fellow plaintiff lawyers from across the country. Following the golf tournament, an awards ceremony will be held at the club.

*Shuttle transportation from the Marriott Marquis Houston will be provided.

Attendees of the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0 register for the 5th Annual Golf Scramble at the Royal Oaks Country Club in Houston, TX.

Also, on Monday at 2:00 PM, attendees will have the opportunity to mingle and explore the 17,000 sq. ft. research library opened by Mark Lanier in October 2010, during the Lanier Theological Library Tour and Lemonade Social, sponsored by Martindale-Avvo. 

*Shuttle transportation from the Marriott Marquis Houston will be provided.

Attendees learn from Mark Lanier during one of his educational sessions at the Lanier Trial Academy 5.0.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Mark Lanier will reopen the vault for the 6th time, sharing his experience that has resulted in over $20 billion in trial results. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn new trial techniques, strategies and secrets, during modules covering communication, persuasion, powerpoints, presentations, non-verbal cues, and how to identify liars.

The Space Center Houston in Houston, TX.

Plan on extending your stay? Check out the Space Center Houston, located in Space City, approximately 25 miles away from our downtown hotel. Explore attractions and exhibits at this top visitor attraction.

If you love art, taking a day of fine arts at the Houston Theatre District is a must! You’ll find venues like Hobby Center for Performing Arts, Alley Theatre, Jones Hall and Wortham Theater Center, all within walking distance. 

If you love exotic animals, The Houston Zoo is the place for you. Visit this amazing Zoological Park, with over 900 species that connect communities with animals.

Spectators watch two elephants play in the water at The McNail Elephant Habitat Area located in the Houston Zoo in Houston, TX.

If you are ready to learn what it takes to always deliver the best product possible, then you are going to want to register today for the Lanier Trial Academy. For more details on each event and session offered at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, please view our full agenda.

How Can Construction Site Injury Lawyers Help You?

Construction worker helping injured co-worker

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 150,000 workers are hurt on a construction site each year. While falls represent the majority of construction site injuries, direct contact with equipment is also a substantial cause of workers’ injuries.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures safe and healthy working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing certain requirements, the truth is that accidents are going to occur. That’s why it is crucial to have an experienced construction site injury lawyer you trust to represent you in the instance that an accident does happen. 

Construction Accident Lawyers

As a safe and responsible construction employee, it is vital to understand your worksite’s risks. You can take the right precautions, put in place by OSHA, wear the correct safety equipment, and never take unnecessary risks that fail to abide by worksite safety protocols. However, the truth is that you can still suffer a serious injury while on a construction site, even if you thought you did everything right. Here at The Cochran Firm, our personal injury lawyers will assist you in navigating your injury, whether it is navigating your state’s workers’ compensation system with you or merely pursuing a legal claim on your behalf.

Although by nature, construction sites are dangerous locations to work, that doesn’t mean your manager does not have the duty to keep you and your co-workers safe. And it also does not mean that you lose your right to justice if you suffer an injury.

What Do Construction Lawyers Do?

Construction lawyers assist a wide array of customers–from large construction companies to individual workers of those companies, to property owners, all the way to sureties. In fact, anyone who is associated with the construction process may find themselves in need of a construction site lawyer at some point in their life.

However, The Cochran Firm believes in representing the victims of building and construction site accidents to ensure they receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Numerous complex liability concerns come with construction accident claims, so it is vital to seek advice from a legal representative who has experience in handling third-party injury claims. The lawyers at The Cochran Firm have not only have the experience but the tenacious attitudes it takes to go up against any insurance company who tries to reject their employees the compensation they are owed.

Type of Construction Accident Claims

If you find yourself injured on a construction site, you might be able to pursue one or more of the following types of claims:

  • Workers’ Compensation: Usually, an injured worker will not bring a legal suit against their company because they have the right to benefits that are provided through workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In order to obtain access to workers’ compensation benefits, a worker only needs to prove that the injury happened, no matter the surrounding circumstances. If/When the claim is accepted, the worker will have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These claims can be brought along with claims against third parties to maximize recovery of damages. 
  • Personal Injury: In order to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, the employee needs to be able to prove that a third party’s neglect resulted in their injury.
  • Product Liability: If an injury was due to a faulty product, the injured worker could bring a claim against any party in the chain of distribution. For example, if a crane used on a building site stops working because of a defect and causes harm to a worker, the injured employee may have the ability to recover damages from the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, or any other party in the chain of distribution.
  • Wrongful Death: If a worker dies on the job site, their family may be able to bring a wrongful death claim on the worker’s behalf. In certain circumstances, multiple claims can be filed at the same time.

Which OSHA Rights Can A Lawyer Help Me Defend?

OSHA was made to ensure safe working conditions for employees across the country. Under OSHA, employees throughout the country have the right to:

  • Make a request for OSHA to inspect their worksite,
  • Use their rights without being retaliated or discriminated against,
  • Receive test results that were done to find hazards on the worksite,
  • Review records of work-related illnesses and injuries,
  • Receive copies of their medical records, and
  • Receive information and training about ways to prevent injuries, job sites dangers, and the OSHA standards that apply to their job sites.

A knowledgeable construction site attorney can help workers who have been hurt on the job that believe their worksite was dangerous (and did not follow OSHA standards) file a complaint with OSHA. As soon as a worker submits a complaint, they cannot be fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against by their employer. If you or a loved one has recently filed a complaint with OSHA and were retaliated against by their employer, a legal representative can help file a claim against the employer for retaliation.

What Are Common Causes of Construction Accidents?

Construction accidents are bound to happen and can occur for many different reasons. OSHA requires employers to acquire specific permits, administer regular inspections, and execute job safety programs to minimize the number of worksite accidents. However, negligence, failure to follow preventative safety measures, and defective products can all lead to construction site accidents that are inevitable. A few of the most common construction site accidents include:

Falling Objects

The seriousness of falling object accident injuries depends on the size and weight of the item that has fallen, the height from which it fell, whether it was slowed by other objects, and whether or not the worker that was hurt was using the proper protective equipment. A few reasons an employee can be struck by an object consist of:

  • Lack of proper training
  • Too heavy of a load
  • Failing to follow safety precautions
  • Improper stacking of materials on the job site
  • Failure to post warning signs
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Defective materials or parts that lead to a structure collapsing

Some of the most commonly sustained injuries in construction site accidents involving falling objects include:

Slips and Falls

Employees working on construction sites are almost always exposed to different slip and fall hazards. Whether they are working on the ground or on scaffolding that is a number of stories high, slip and fall accidents happen more frequently than they should. A few of the most common slip and fall danger factors at construction sites consist of:

  • Debris or trash on the floors,
  • Electrical wiring or stray cords,
  • Lack of lighting,
  • Lack of proper safety equipment or training,
  • Wet or slick surfaces caused by spills or recently waxed or polished floors,
  • Uneven surfaces, like old or uneven carpet or loose floorboards, and
  • Broken or faulty handrails.

Within the construction industry, there are two types of slip and fall accidents that employees can suffer from:

  • Falls to a lower level: These types of falls can trigger dangerous, even deadly injuries, in situations when a worker falls from a surface that is extremely high off the ground.
  • Falls on the same level: To no one’s surprise, these injuries are less serious and tend to trigger less serious injuries, including small cuts, strains, bruises, and musculoskeletal injuries

A few examples of injuries that construction employees may suffer after a slip and fall accident include:

Caught-Between Accidents

Getting caught in between objects, or even equipment, is one of the most common causes of death of construction workers. These accidents occur when a worker becomes crushed, squeezed, caught, pinched, or compressed in between two items, parts of two objects, or buried by objects (like a collapsed structure or in a trench).

Construction site employees can become seriously injured or even die when caught between objects or machinery in many ways. Some common ways these caught-between accidents happen include:

  • Construction sites (trenches and excavation sites) not being adequately supported, burying employees when they collapse.
  • Walls are not being correctly braced and falling in.
  • Machinery is not being properly guarded or not being locked down when being repaired or not in use.
  • Machinery tipping due to unsafe use 
  • Scaffolds collapsing after not being properly constructed or braced
  • Machinery not being repaired/maintained and malfunctioning.
  • Employees not being trained to use machinery and equipment safely.

Caught-between accidents can cause severe injuries. These injuries may include:

Fires and Explosions

From underground gas lines to temporary heating devices to electrical systems, construction sites are full of dangers that can turn a day’s usual work to explosive in mere seconds. It only takes a single spark or a spec of dust to trigger a construction site fire or explosion that can injure or take the life of many workers. A few of the most common causes of these mishaps include:

  • Temporary heating devices,
  • Chemical tanks or drums,
  • Compressed gas cylinders,
  • Flammable and explosive liquids,
  • Explosives and blasting agents,
  • Heavy equipment and vehicles,
  • Electrical shorts and malfunctions,
  • Liquefied petroleum gas.

Fires and explosions can cause injuries that vary from minor to extreme. However, the most common injuries are burns and can either be first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree burns. In the case the incident is catastrophic, it can result in many casualties. 

Electrical Accidents

Electrical accidents can cause serious damage both internally and externally and can unfold in a variety of unfolds. Construction sites have plenty of threats, and electric currents are just one of them. Even when employees take the correct preventative measures, they can still suffer from electrocution. A few of the leading reasons for being electrocuted include:

  • Poor lighting,
  • Incorrectly marked construction zones,
  • Exposed wires,
  • Defective equipment,
  • Fallen power lines,
  • Wires that are not correctly grounded.

Regrettably, electrical currents trigger severe damage. While external injuries might be obvious right after the incident occurs, internal injuries can be dangerous and need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Injuries that a construction site worker may suffer will depend upon many factors, such as the voltage, their health, the length of exposure, and how much current flows through the body. When a worker suffers an electrical accident, they can suffer from numerous injuries, consisting of:

Defective Equipment

Construction sites are full of heavy machinery, and when equipment of that size is defective, it can cause extreme disaster. Whether the equipment was initially manufactured with major defects or it was simply neglected, it can still cause major injury. A couple of examples of malfunctioning equipment that can be particularly unsafe on constructions sites are:

  • Construction tools,
  • Band saws,
  • Cutting tools,
  • Scaffolding,
  • Ladders,
  • Lawnmowers,
  • Convey belts,
  • Cranes
  • Forklifts,
  • Rollers,
  • Tractors,
  • Dump trucks,
  • Other heavy machinery.

When these types of tools and devices malfunction, they can result in severe injuries to the person operating them as well as other employees who are nearby. Some common injuries that employees may face due to faulty equipment consist of:

If you do not see the accident that you have suffered from above, take a look at some other construction site accidents listed below:

  • Misuse of tools,
  • Welding accidents,
  • Falls from high surfaces,
  • Mechanical hazards,
  • Compressed gasses,
  • Scaffolding accidents,
  • Crane accidents,
  • Lift accidents
  • Improper use or maintenance of equipment,
  • Exposure to toxic material,
  • Poor safety precautions,
  • Inadequate training,
  • Harness accidents,
  • Collapsed structures.

The unfortunate truth is that the lax commitment to safety and training requirements, along with the increasing need for faster networks, has led to dangerous conditions for numerous construction workers.

What Steps Should I Take If I Have Been Injured in a Construction Accident?

The truth is that construction site jobs are very hazardous no matter what precautions you may take. Whether it is faulty devices, the neglect of others, or simply a freak accident, you deserve to get the help you need from an attorney you trust. If you or a loved one becomes hurt due to a construction accident:

  • Seek medical attention for your injury quickly,
  • Report the injury to your employer or supervisor and keep note of who they tell,
  • Get statements and any information you can from witnesses,
  • Take pictures of the injury, the scene where the injury occurred, and any equipment that was involved,
  • Contact a lawyer to learn more about the legal options that you have

Who Can Be Held Legally Responsible for My Construction Accident Injury?

Many companies carry workers’ compensation insurance. If that is the case for your company, they are most likely provided immunity from personal injury lawsuits. Nevertheless, workers’ compensation does not restrict claims against employers if the injury was deliberate or abhorrent, but it is more common to file a claim against a third party. Those third parties consist of:

  • Construction Site Owner(s): In cases regarding construction site owners’ carelessness, liability usually rides on the degree of control the owner had over the facilities compared to the degree of control over the work being done itself.
  • Manufacturers: Any party in the chain of distribution (manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, etc.) of a malfunctioning item can be held accountable if the defect in their item caused a workers’ injury.
  • General and Subcontractors: Under OSHA, both general contractors and sub-contractors are required to supply their workers with a fairly safe construction site, post warnings of any hazards on the construction site, and ensure the work is being performed according to safety regulations. If/When an injury happens, the failure of the general contractor or sub-contractor to complete these tasks usually gives an injured employee the chance to seek compensation for their pain and sufferings.
  • Prime Contractors: The distinction between general/sub-contractors and prime contractors is that prime contractors are only responsible for the work that is defined in their contract or the work they give to sub-contractors as long as they have total responsibility for those subcontractors.
  • Architects and Engineers: In some cases, architects and engineers have the responsibility to oversee the development and make certain that compliance with plans and pertinent code regulations are being followed. When determining if an architect or engineer is responsible for injuries, it is obligatory to establish which duties were laid out in their contract with the construction company.

If you have been injured on a construction site but are unsure of who is responsible, contact a construction accident lawyer today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation

What Damages Can a Lawyer Help Me Cover From My Construction Accident Injury?

As many of us know, construction accidents can result in extreme physical, financial, and mental pain for victims and their loved ones. Substantial medical expenses, dealing with a severe injury, and permanent injuries can have a considerable effect on and even change one’s quality of life. By taking legal action against the negligent party that caused your injury, a lawyer can help you recover:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Mortgage and rent,
  • Ongoing living expenses,
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages (past and future)
  • Counseling costs,
  • Physical therapy,
  • Property damage, 
  • Loss of consortium for widows or widowers,
  • And more.

If you have been injured on a construction site and believe you have a claim for your injuries, an experienced lawyer can assist you with your personal injury lawsuit. Although it may seem complex and daunting, the right lawyer will help you navigate the legal process during this stressful time.

All Things New at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0

Are you ready for the best trial academy yet? Then join us at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, presented by The National Trial Lawyers, held on June 20 – 23, 2022, in Houston, TX, at the Marriott Marquis Houston. The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, exclusively for plaintiff lawyers, has been formatted to add more time in the classroom, offering a THREE-day intensive trial academy led by renowned civil trial lawyer, Mark Lanier. Attendees will have the chance to reconnect with fellow plaintiff lawyers and learn Mark’s strategies and secrets that have led him to a groundbreaking $4.69 billion verdict. If you have not done so already, make sure you register today and book your room under our exclusive discounted hotel rate at the Marriott Marquis Houston. *Offer ends May 27, 2022.

To kick off this year’s conference, on Monday, attendees will have the opportunity to register and enjoy pre-conference events like the Meadow Golf Tour and Lanier Theological Library Tour and Lemonade Social. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Mark will dive deep into the vault of his methods that target winning the case, and share his 35 years of trial experience that has led him and The Lanier Law Firm to over $20 billion in verdicts and settlements. This year, Mark will focus on a BRAND NEW section on persuasion, where he will teach you how to become a communication specialist. This section will help attendees improve their communication competence, sculpt their message, fashion their vocabulary, and so much more! Other topics will include voir dire, non-verbal cues, open and closing statements, time management, examinations, and how to identify liars. Getting into the mindset of someone who acts to the detriment of others and the detriment of themselves is a core understanding that all trial lawyers must have. In June, Mark will help you form these basic conceptions so that you can be the best trial lawyer you can be.

If you are ready to learn the techniques that it takes to always deliver the best possible product,  you are going to want to register today for the Lanier Trial Academy. For complete details on each event and session offered at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 6.0, please view our full agenda.

African American Lawyers Who Have Helped Shape the United States

Black History Month is a time to commemorate the cultural heritage and accomplishments that African Americans have made that are an unforgettable part of United States history. In celebration of Black History Month, we are featuring eleven prominent black lawyers who have had a significant impact on American history. Some of these men and women have made their mark in the courtroom, some moved towards legislatures, and others have had success in both arenas.

African American individuals have made, and continue to make, changes in the civil rights and legal field. Since our country’s founding 246 years ago, African American individuals have experienced, witnessed, and struggled with the systemic racial discrimination that was and is present in aspects of our daily lives. Although one would hope that the legal field, based upon basic ideas of equality and fair treatment, would be immune to such a tainted reputation, actuality has failed to meet the rhetorical requirement that the ideals of law have implemented.

Below, you will find eleven African American attorneys who have paved the way for generations of legal intellectuals by challenging a whole country’s predetermined bigotry and prejudice.

Macon Bolling Allen

(1816-1894)

In the 1840s, Macon Bolling Allen quit his job as a teacher in Indiana to pursue being an apprentice to General Samuel Fessenden. Fessenden was an eminent lawyer and abolitionist in Maine, and with the help of his encouragement, Allen took and passed the Maine Bar exam. In 1844, when African Americans were not even thought to be U.S. citizens, Macon became the first black male with a license to practice law in the United States. At the time, a big percentage of the population in Maine was white, making it challenging for Allen to find clients. Due to this, Allen moved to Boston, MA, where he continued to encounter racist attitudes; nevertheless, he stood firm, passed the assessment to become a civil court judge in 1848, and became the first black judge in the country. Throughout his profession, Macon continued to improve the odds of success for black attorneys for the next half-century. 

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

(1823- 1893)

Cary has a story that crosses borders, as she was not only an attorney but also a journalist and teacher who committed her life to civil rights. Born in 1823, she was raised by an activist family, with her parents helping guide runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad. After participating in a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania, Mary Ann taught in schools for African American students for 12 years. Later on, in 1850, she moved with her family to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. Once she was out of the United States, her life course changed from teaching to journalism. She founded the first Canadian antislavery paper and became the first African American female editor and publisher in North America. Soon after the Civil War, Cary returned to the United States, specifically Washington, D.C., where she received her law degree from Howard University. Although there are few details on her legal career, she is known for her persistent work with the women’s suffrage movement and even spoke in front of the House Judiciary Committee in 1874 as part of the fight for the right to vote.

Charlotte E. Ray

(1850-1911)

During the same time that Allen paved the wave for black men in the legal field, Charlotte E. Ray started her journey as a young girl in New York City. Ray’s father, Reverend Charles Bennett Ray, was a prominent abolitionist with a progressive stance on educating both of his daughters. Reverend Ray sent Charlotte to the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington, D.C. Later she attended Howard University, a historically black college in New York, where she studied education. However, her actual dream was to be an attorney, so she began studying law. In 1872, she became the first black woman to receive a law degree and develop an independent commercial law practice in the United States. Although she was praised for her rhetoric and detailed legal understanding and admired as “one of the best lawyers on corporations in the country,” she found it hard to keep a consistent clientele. Because of this, Charlotte returned to teaching; nevertheless, she stayed active in progressing women’s suffrage and continued to fight for equal treatment for women of color. 

Ferdinand Lee Barnett

(1858-1936)

Born in Nashville, TN, in 1858, Ferdinand Lee Barnett and his family moved to Canada right before the Civil War. After the Civil War ended, his family settled in Chicago, IL, where he attended Northwestern Law School. After graduating, Barnett went on to be just the 3rd Black attorney admitted to the Illinois bar. Barnett was also an activist, writer, and editor and is famous for being the first editor and founder of Chicago’s first Black paper, the Chicago Conservator. After some time, he chose to fully commit his profession to law and sold the Chicago Conservator to anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells (who later became his wife). Barnett worked as the assistant state’s lawyer for 14 years. He also was an attorney for the Wells-Barnett Negro Fellowship League, where on behalf of an African American man who was wrongfully accused of murder, he defended and won a case before the Illinois Supreme Court. His combined careers in journalism and law genuinely displayed his dedication to justice and racial equality.

Charles Hamilton Houston

(1895-1950)

Known as “the man who killed Jim Crow,” Charles Hamilton Houston began his career as an English teacher. But due to the obvious racism that he experienced while serving in the U.S. Infantry during World War I, he decided to study law and used his time fighting for men who could not fight back. Mr. Houston studied at Harvard Law and, during his time there, became the first black American to be the editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 1923, he received his Juris Doctor degree and joined the Washington D.C. bar in 1924. Later in his legal career, he became dean of Howard University School of Law and made that institution the leading training center for civil rights activists pursuing law. During this time, he acted as the first special counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In this role, Houston was involved in almost every Supreme Court case between 1930 to 1950 that involved civil rights. He also is credited with writing the strategy that ended segregation in the public school system by proving integration would be less costly than making “separate but equivalent” schools.

Thurgood Marshall

(1908-1993)

Born in Baltimore, MD, Marshall was one of Charles Hamilton Houston’s leading students and protégés. However, Marshall did not initially plan on going to Howard University. He first applied to the University of Maryland Law School in 1930, but they denied him because of his race. After he graduated from Howard and passed the bar, Marshall successfully sued the University of Maryland on behalf of other black students that were denied entry for the same reason he was. During Thurgood’s legal career, he led the milestone case that banned racial segregation in schools: Brown vs. the Board of Education. After the Brown decision, while serving in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and soon after the U.S. Solicitor General’s workplace, Marshall represented and won more Supreme Court cases than anyone in history. In 1967, he became the first black judge on the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until 1991.

Jane Bolin

(1908-2007)

Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 1908, Bolin’s father was a very successful lawyer. Following Charlotte E. Ray and her father’s footsteps, Jane went to Wellesley College, where her advisor tried to convince her she shouldn’t apply to Yale Law School due to the fact that black women would neither be accepted nor succeed there. However, she was determined to prove that narrative false, so she applied anyway. Luckily, Yale accepted her, and she was the only African American in her class. She finished in 1931, passed the New York City Bar exam, and began practicing law in 1932. Only seven years into her profession, Bolin became the first female United States judge when she was appointed to the New York Domestic Relations Court (now called Family Court). Bolin spent the next four decades there battling racial discrimination, working relentlessly to end segregation in child placement centers and probation assignments, and advocating for children’s rights.

Barbara Jordan

(1936-1996)

Jordan grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, where she was known for many distinctive qualities– her speaking capability, ambition, charm, and even her size. Following her dream of being a lawyer, Jordan applied to the University of Texas at Austin; however, she was barred because of segregation. Because of this, she attended Texas Southern University, the “separate but equal” law school for black students. During her first year as a student, her debate coach informed her she wasn’t good enough to compete, but she happily defied him by later leading the TSU debate group to a national championship. Jordan finished her undergraduate degree magna cum laude and went on to attend Boston University School of Law, where she was the only female in her class. In 1959 she graduated, started a private law practice in Houston, and in 1966 won a Texas state senate seat. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, Jordan honored his legacy with a gripping speech at a Houston funeral. Not long after, she became the first woman chosen in her own right to represent Texas in Congress and was the first black Congresswoman to represent the Deep South. In 1976, she made history when she was the Democratic National Convention’s keynote speaker. Throughout her profession as a Congresswoman, Barbara had her hands in over 300 pieces of legislation, a lot of which still stand. After retiring, she chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform after being selected by former President Clinton. 

Constance Baker Motley

(1921-2005)

Motley was an unanticipated civil rights hero. Growing up near Yale University, Constance was almost completely unaware of black history as a young adult and did not personally experience bigotry until later in high school. However, at 15 years of age, Motley read James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. DuBois, which sparked her interest in Black History. She then met a minister who taught classes on Black History, which focused her attention on civil rights and the underrepresentation of black attorneys. These classes influenced her desire to practice law; however, she did not have the means to go to college, so she went to work for the National Youth Administration. She met businessman and philanthropist Clarence W. Blakeslee through this work, who offered to pay for her education after hearing her speak at a New Haven recreation center. With this financial aid, Baker Motley was able to attend college, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1943. Constance got her Bachelor of Laws at Columbia Law School just three years later. Throughout her legal profession, Motley was very involved in the civil rights movement, once even visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. in jail. In 1950, she wrote the original complaint in the Brown v. Board of Education case and became the first African American female ever to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She later became the first African American woman to be appointed as a federal judge, the first African American woman to serve as a member of the New York State Senate, and the first woman to serve as Manhattan borough president. Her legal contributions do not go unnoticed, as she was a force to be reckoned with in and out of the courtroom. 

Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.

(1937-2005)

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, it wasn’t until late middle school that Johnnie discovered his passion for debate after figuring out he was more interested in words and language rather than numbers. While his parents had always believed he would be a doctor or research scientist, young Johnnie always knew he wished to be a lawyer. But, unbeknownst to Johnnie, his dad had already worked to help Johnnie achieve those dreams. Cochran Sr. managed to get Johnnie admitted to Los Angeles High School, where he had access to a fully equipped library that was not offered at the high school he was supposed to attend. After high school, Johnnie went to  UCLA for his undergraduate degree and then got his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1962. After graduating from law school, Cochran Jr. worked briefly as a city attorney in Los Angeles’ criminal division before starting his own firm. When he started his own firm, Cochran Jr.’s first large case was representing a Black widow who took legal action against numerous law enforcement officers who had shot and killed her husband. During his career, Mr. Johnnie Cochran, Jr. protected and defended many Black individuals from the police brutality and abuse they often faced.

Fred Gray

(1930-)

Mr. Gray is most famously known for the crucial role he played in the successful desegregation of Montgomery buses, both as legal counsel and as a strategist. After high school, Gray went to Alabama State College for Negroes where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1951. Regardless of his plans to become a historian and preacher, Mr. Gray relocated to Ohio after being encouraged to apply to law school by one of his instructors. After being accepted to Case Western Reserve University School of Law, he received his Juris Doctor degree in 1954. At the time, there were no Alabama universities that would accept African American students. Soon after finishing law school, Gray represented both Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks after they were criminally charged for refusing to give up their bus seats to white passengers. He also challenged the constitutionality of Alabama laws that mandated segregation of buses in Browder v. Gayle, which the United States Supreme Court affirmed in 1956. A few years later, in 1970, Fred Gray served as an elected representative in the Alabama State Legislature, making him among the first two African American public officials to serve in the legislature since the Reconstruction age. In 1979, Fred was elected to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama by former President Jimmy Carter, but he was forced to withdraw his name due to the massive opposition from conservative political opponents. Throughout his career, Gray also worked with and defended Martin Luther King Jr. and was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives until 2015.

Continuing the Fight

The fight for social justice that was promoted during the civil rights movement still continues today. While Black Americans have acquired certain rights under the law, they are still poorly and disproportionately impacted by many laws and suggested biases. Sadly, remnants of racism, discrimination, prejudice, and unequal treatment, still haunt our world today and can most clearly be seen in our criminal justice system.

Although the law is supposed to offer equality, the American legal system ought to be scrutinized for the various occurrences in which it has failed to follow through on its promises to its Black citizens. For over 200 years, African Americans have comprised the mainstay of a country that was founded on principles of freedom from which they were explicitly omitted for too long. This Black History Month, we acknowledge just a fraction of the contributions African American lawyers have made to shape the American legal system, gearing it towards connecting the gap between inequitable promises of freedom and their actual application to all Americans, no matter the color of their skin. In their commitment to upholding the law, these men and women have challenged biases, discrimination, and disparity of opportunity to secure the American promises of freedom and justice for all.