Civil Rights and Why You Might Require an Attorney

Civil rights is defined as “The United States of America’s court-mandated protection from forms of unequal treatment based on race, gender, religion, sex and more.” The major foundation of our country lies within the freedom to choose without influence from the government, so long as our acts fall within the legal ramifications established by our founding fathers and legislators today. However, without the correct skillset, you may find yourself in the middle of a civil rights issue and in need of a civil rights lawyer.

Civil Rights: History

Historically, civil rights referred to the movement in our nation led by African-Americans looking for equal treatment from all other ethnicities, specifically Caucasians. Now in order to comprehend this problem, one should keep in mind the decades of previous enslavement led by white men towards African-Americans. Servants instantly lost their birthrights of freedom and choice upon their forced enlisting into slavery, proclaiming them a piece of property.

Other civil rights movements started to gain traction around the same era, such as the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination Act. Each movement is better concentrated on customized civil rights within the law. Civil rights stem from government regulations in addition to federal court decisions, referred to as “case law.” Famous cases such as Brown v. Board of Education stated problems of bigotry “unconstitutional” after its hearing, and its decision remains today.

Over a decade ago, our country faced an attack from a foreign nation’s terrorist company, which cost many men and women their lives and, after some time, caused war in the Middle East. 9/11 triggered new criticism of minorities when New York was struck with several suicide planes in the World Trade Center towers. An eerie justification of discrimination ended up being the norm, so in response, the U.S. Department of Justice put a strategy in place to prevent repercussions against minority communities. An entire website emerged to generate information for preventing and reporting prejudiced repercussions.

A regrettable problem that occurs in current times includes police abuse/brutality toward standard citizens. Most famously, the murder of African-American George Floyd by a Minneapolis law enforcement officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Additionally, another well-known catastrophe occurred in Louisville, Kentucky, when Breonna Taylor, a black medical employee, was fatally shot during a botched raid on her apartment. The law enforcement agents involved wore simple clothes and discharged their firearms without a clear line of vision. These instances set off a nationwide civil rights movement in the United States in an initiative to seek justice for Floyd and his family and all who may feel oppressed around the country.

Police brutality towards people of diverse backgrounds is not a new occurrence, but it reflects a continuation that one may connect with enslaved ancestry. Our modern-day justice system floods jails across the nation with predominantly black males that live troubled lives due to poor opportunities and guidance in their communities. As in any occupation, there remains a group of people with low-grade reputations in the police force, reflecting upon the whole career as a result. A response to injustice exists within our communities and government. Without proper management in legislation and the law, our citizens may face treatment that opposes individual rights and freedoms provided to them as citizens of the country and its states.   

Both states and the federal government pass their own civil rights laws in addition to counties and municipalities therein. Essentially, the further down the statute you proceed, the more personalized your civil rights become. Social dilemmas may trigger an action to consult with a civil rights lawyer that possesses the skills to interpret laws concerning your matter. Allow us to help you today.

Examples of Civil Rights Violated

Civil rights cover a minimal amount of rights protected, and it is essential to distinguish whether you indeed became a victim of a civil rights offense. The following examples may paint a better picture:

  1. You graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA and even better examination scores. You apply to your favorite institution, but the dean of the college declines your application due to your skin color. This may qualify as a violation of your civil rights.
  1. You move out of your parents’ house to get your first apartment. The property manager approves your application and wants to meet you face to face to sign the lease agreement. The property owner asks you about yourself, and you explain you are a practicing Buddhist that needs a quiet place to live. In response, the property manager says he is no longer interested in signing a lease with you since you are not Catholic. This can be certified as a violation of your civil rights.

The following examples can appear to be an infraction of civil rights; however, they may not qualify as such:

  1. You graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA and even better examination scores. Your schoolmate graduates with a 3.9 GPA and even better examination scores as well. You discover that the college you both applied to chose your schoolmate since he comes from a more diverse background. This cannot be certified as a violation of your civil rights.
  1. You move out of your parents’ residence to obtain your first apartment. The property manager accepts your application and wishes to meet you in person to sign the lease agreement. Upon your meeting, the property manager discovers you have a dog that makes him change his mind about signing a lease with you. This cannot be certified as an infraction of your civil rights.

It is essential to distinguish between discrimination that violates one’s civil rights and discrimination that simply shows lousy judgement. Unfortunately, some types of discrimination remain perfectly lawful and stand no chance to be heard by a court. The characteristics of an individual or group that adhere to unlawful discrimination involve one’s: age, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Settings in which discrimination happens matters too. Discrimination in settings prohibited by the government and its states include education, employment, housing, government services and benefits, healthcare services, land use/zoning, lending and credit, public accommodations (access to buildings and businesses), transportation, and voting.

A civil rights infraction involving the use of threat or force as a result of intolerance and hate initiates a case for a hate crime. Hate crimes target people of diverse backgrounds in an attempt to intimidate or injure them simply for their background. Generally, the punishment for those found guilty of hate crimes extends into deeper waters in contrast to an average civil rights violation. In the law, the “motive” and “intent” of a criminal weigh tremendously towards the court’s considerations when determining punishments. To explain further, someone who hurts an individual for no apparent reason may suffer assault or battery charges due to their actions. One who commits violence upon an individual due to their affiliation with a particular ethnic, religious, or other identities can be charged with a hate crime if motive and intent are proven. In some aspects, a hate crime falls within the specifications of terrorism against a particular community, not just one individual. A regrettable barrier of hate crimes is that the intent or motive is more difficult to prove based on the facts. Hate crimes need to be taken seriously due to their prospective dangers. One who commits a violent act and does so with ill intent becomes a very unsafe individual. To battle hate crimes, the FBI produced an internet page on hate crime laws and news. This initiative aims to keep communities informed while protecting future attempts. Information on how to report hate crimes and discrimination, background information, and more are also included.

No matter the situation, any form of discrimination demonstrates lousy behavior in our society. Judgement and prejudice of others must quickly cease for our modern society to succeed, especially since we are composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Civil rights started a brand-new era in this country in an effort to stabilize its expanding population from across the globe. Whether a law firm represents you on a legal issue involving civil rights or a good samaritan defends his/her next-door neighbor, the goal continues to be the same—equal treatment for all.

Filing a Civil Rights Legal Action

Submitting a civil rights legal action requires a variety of step-by-step actions in addition to the expertise behind implementing such a procedure. In order to file a civil rights lawsuit, one has to consider who may be responsible for the resulting harm suffered. Civil rights lawsuits may be submitted in federal or state courts relying on the matter at hand. As stated above, some states narrow their defense of civil rights established by federal legislation. For example, one state may concentrate on defending civil rights for LGBTQ+ community members, guaranteeing they receive equal treatment. In addition, your choices of where to file a “complaint” may exist within which area the law applies. Regardless, submitting a complaint starts a review process by the court to determine whether a civil rights offense occurred, in addition to where the concern will be heard.

The goal of a complaint exists within the effort to establish responsibility upon the offenders (who you charge) for committing the violations alleged in your complaint. It can consist of a list of facts, your interpretation of the facts, and the conclusive evidence that strengthens the facts listed. Harm you suffer from the accusations stands as a necessary measure for the courts to consider. It is essential to remember that you must file a claim with the proper government agency for some types of civil rights cases prior to pursuing any private lawsuit.

Submitting a civil rights lawsuit is made possible by an underappreciated right called “Due Process” supplied to us by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The right to Due Process certifies the government cannot remove the legal rights to life, liberty, or property without a formal hearing. Due to this Due Process right, Congress and state legislatures have developed complaint processes designed to help you enforce your civil rights.

Hiring a Civil Rights Attorney

Employing a lawyer can feel like a drastic measure for any matter; however, it maximizes one’s chances of success in the law and recovering damages. Without legal representatives, our community members can be taken advantage of without knowing their choices for protection provided by this great country. Unfortunately, some situations require legal aid in order to receive equal treatment in one example and set the tone to fend off future instances in another. 

Civil rights issues within the law prove to trigger severe problems within the step-by-step process and community process. Challenging issues consist of whether to file in state court or federal court, how to file a “complaint,” whether the violation involved a protected right, which laws apply to the scenario at hand, and whether you must first file a claim with the government. To appropriately navigate these issues, it remains crucial to seek consultation from an experienced civil rights attorney.

Why the Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you.

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help families who are pursuing a civil rights claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.

You need the help of an experienced civil rights lawyer who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages entitled to you under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States. 

Please contact the civil rights attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.

5 Examples of Wrongful Death Cases and How to File a Lawsuit

Essentially, a wrongful death lawsuit consists of an act by one individual leading to the death of another individual. The death might adhere to either a willful or unexpected activity, and the dead person’s estate might find themselves eligible to submit a wrongful death claim. In order to recover from a wrongful death lawsuit, various damages might apply, such as the deceased person’s medical bills, lost earnings, and the pain and suffering before death. Some instances of wrongful death claims include: 

The term for recovery is explained in the law as “damages.” Damages are the complainant’s asserted losses in a personal injury case, which is the class of most wrongful death cases. Damages fall into two groups: compensatory and punitive damages. Most states award compensatory damages to the deceased person’s family members to compensate for their loss caused by the decedent’s death. Compensatory damages are also granted to the decedent’s surviving family; nevertheless, punitive damages act to penalize the offender and discourage others from similar behavior. Thus, some states concentrate on compensating the decedent’s relatives, while others concentrate on punishing the offender. 

Now, one needs to bear in mind which state the mishap takes place in because each state has its own protocol for a wrongful death lawyer and what certifies as wrongful death.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Death? 

Wrongful death might be specified by each state’s own “wrongful death statute,” which establishes the policies for wrongful death actions. Along with financial liability for the death of an individual, one may likewise suffer conviction of a criminal activity affiliated with that death. For a wrongful death attorney to take on a case, they must first look at the elements used to define a wrongful death lawsuit. Each of the following factors must exist

  • The death of a person, 
  • The death was brought on by one’s negligence, or with intent to cause damage,
  • The survival of relatives that are suffering monetary damage as a result of the death,
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate. 

According to the factors above, the following instances may help establish whether to seek help from a wrongful death lawyer

 Example 1: Car Accident 

Anthony is driving to college after a long last summer in his parent’s house. He cannot contain his exhilaration and has been texting with his new roommate throughout the day. Anthony knows that he should not be texting while driving but cannot withstand the temptation. In the blink of an eye, while sending a text, Anthony finds himself in a car accident with Mary and her little girl in the backseat. Mary suffered extreme head trauma upon impact with Anthony’s car and lost her life shortly after the accident. Mary’s surviving family members may find a wrongful death lawyer to seek damages for the loss of their family member’s life in addition to justice. 

In this instance, if the wrongful death lawyer for Mary’s family members establishes negligence by Anthony for texting and driving, Anthony might be found liable for a wrongful death claim. 

The plaintiff in a car accident wrongful death case may recover the customary damages such as lost earnings, lost work benefits, medical expenses, and the deceased’s pain and suffering. And the driver at fault could be held liable in a wrongful death claim. 

Example 2: Slip and Fall

Eddie is addicted to coffee and fuels his addiction every morning at Starbucks, located just down the street from his residence. One morning Eddie walks into the front door of Starbucks and slips on a freshly moped floor. Unfortunately, a Starbucks trainee, in addition to the rest of the employees that mopped the floor, did not remember to put a “wet surface” sign after finishing the job. Unfortunately, Eddie died immediately upon impact with the floor. Eddie’s family may seek the services of a wrongful death attorney to sue Starbucks for the death of their beloved Eddie. 

In this example, if the wrongful death attorney for Eddie’s surviving relatives establishes negligence by Starbucks for failing to place a “wet surface” sign, Starbucks may be found liable for a wrongful death case

The plaintiff in a slip and fall wrongful death case may recuperate the customary damages such as lost income, lost employment benefits, medical costs, and the deceased’s pain and suffering. Both workers and owners may be held responsible in a wrongful death legal action. 

Example 3: Medical Malpractice 

Casey brings his son, Billy, to the hospital for the rupture of Billy’s appendix. Billy is diagnosed with Appendicitis. Unfortunately, halfway through the desired routine surgical treatment, a medical professional nicks an artery in Billy, killing him within minutes. Casey finds out about the doctor’s error and looks to hire a wrongful death lawyer for the death of his son, Billy. 

In this instance, if the wrongful death lawyer for Billy’s father establishes negligence by the physician for the death of Billy, the physician may be discovered as liable in a wrongful death claim

In a medical malpractice wrongful death case, the plaintiff may recover the customary damages such as lost earnings, lost employment benefits, medical costs, and the deceased’s pain and suffering. Both the medical professional and hospital may be held responsible in a wrongful death legal action. 

Example 4: Products Liability 

Joe buys a new candy at the checkout line of the grocery store every time he shops. One day, Joe purchases a brand-new flavor of Skittles that no one has tried before. Joe eats the whole bag of Skittles and experiences kidney failure that causes his eventual death. Joe’s relatives may look for the services of a wrongful death attorney as a response. 

In this instance, if the wrongful death attorney for Joe’s surviving family members establishes negligence by Skittles for producing a fatal product, Skittles may be found liable in a  wrongful death claim. 

The complainant in a products liability wrongful death case may recover the customary damages such as lost earnings, lost employment benefits, medical costs, and the deceased’s pain and suffering. The producer of the product may be held liable in a wrongful death claim. 

Example 5: Assault/battery 

John and Bob start an argument over who runs faster. One day the two men decide to race to settle the conflict once and for all. Both John and Bob run a 6-minute mile which angers them both even further. John becomes so upset that he threatens to retrieve his tire iron. Nonetheless, John strolls to his automobile, reaches for his tire iron, and sure enough, kills Bob. Bob’s family members may seek a wrongful death attorney’s services to obtain damages for Bob’s death. 

In this instance, if the wrongful death lawyer for Bob’s relatives develops negligence by John for the death of Bob, John may be held accountable in a wrongful death claim. 

For clarification, assault does not require that the defendant make contact with his/her victim. Rather, assault is a willful attempt or hazard to bring upon injury that places one or more individuals in fear of imminent physical harm. Battery, nevertheless, is the intentional touching of another individual in a dangerous or offending method without consent. Although individuals appear to say “assault and battery” together, they are different torts, and it is feasible to have one without the other. 

In an assault/battery wrongful death case, the plaintiff may recover the customary damages such as lost incomes, lost employment benefits, medical costs, and the deceased’s pain and suffering. The person that causes damage may be held responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit 

To file a wrongful death suit, a wrongful death lawyer must first consider who may qualify as the authorized individual by the state’s statute to submit this suit. In some states, compared to others, the decedent’s surviving spouse, kids, parents, siblings, or other relatives may qualify as authorized to submit a wrongful death lawsuit. Nevertheless, other states call for only the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate to submit a wrongful death claim. Of course, each state’s laws and regulations confirm as vital towards this issue. 

Another vital step for a wrongful death attorney is to find out a state’s implemented time limit that restricts whether a wrongful death claim may be filed. For instance

  • In California, the wrongful death statute of limitations is 2 years. 
  • In Montana, the statute of limitations is 3 years. 
  • In Florida, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the day of death. 

Some states begin their statute of limitations (time limit) on the day of the death, while others begin upon discovery of the harm. If the statute of limitations as defined by your state’s regulations had run, then you may not have the ability to bring a wrongful death legal action. 

Next off, a wrongful death lawyer must submit the appropriate documents to start the legal action officially. Typically, this first document in a civil case is called a complaint or petition. This complaint or petition must provide the accused with notice of the factual and legal grounds for the case. In addition, a wrongful death attorney file a summons, which essentially informs the defendant that he is being sued and where the lawsuit will be heard. Finally, when the wrongful death attorney submits the legal action, all relevant documents must be given to all defendants. Once again, each state may implement its own set of guidelines about correct methods to provide such information. 

A wrongful death lawyer’s most important task lies in proving fault for the wrongful death claim. To prove fault, the wrongful death attorney needs to prove negligence on behalf of the defendant unless the defendant commits an intentional act. Negligence lies at the heart of this job which includes its own elements. Proving negligence requires proving duty, breach of duty, causation, and last but not least, damages. Concerning duty, it is primarily a duty to do something to safeguard another person or avoid doing something that would ultimately cause them damage. Regarding breach of duty, a complainant needs to convince a court that the complainant’s variation of the facts is more than 50% likely to be true. Regarding causation, the plaintiff must show that the breach of duty caused the decedent’s harm. In addition to breach of duty and causation, the complainant must show that the decedent experienced damages. A wrongful death attorney contributes to these actions toward discovering the truth. 

In connection with the first instance of a wrongful death case, “car accident,” the complainant, Mary’s surviving family, is declaring that the defendant, Anthony, drove negligently when he killed Mary. Mary’s surviving family might say that Anthony owed Mary a duty of care to operate a car as a reasonably wise individual. 

In full transparency, the above process might be tough to navigate, and serving initial documents is just the primary step in the process. Legal actions might last for several years, consisting of several nuanced steps, which may be challenging for a non-lawyer. To navigate through the legal process in a smooth and effective manner, it may be in your best interest to seek the services of a wrongful death attorney

Why the Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help families who are pursuing a wrongful death claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced, wrongful death lawyer who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages entitled to you under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States. Please contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today. 

Asbestos Exposure: What You Need to Know

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was utilized in numerous structure materials and other items for years since of its toughness and fireproof properties. Asbestos is located in rocks and soil. Due to its flexibility and resistance to heat, chemicals, and electrical power, it has been used for several years to make construction materials, cars and truck parts, and even fabrics.

Asbestos can produce dust that, when inhaled, ends up being transferred into the lungs due to its durable, fibrous nature—triggering or adding to the advancement of critical, deadly health issues of asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. However, diseases like these generally need long-term and repetitive exposure to trigger illness, so one-time exposure is seldom an issue.

Where Can Asbestos Be Found?

Professions and industries that have generally seen employees exposed to a substantial level of asbestos are:

  • Construction, renovation, and demolition of commercial and residential structures
  • Ship-building
  • Paper mills
  • Mining
  • Heating and cooling devices repair
  • Automotive repair
  • Manufacture of items consisting of asbestos
  • Roofing
  • Janitorial tasks in buildings that contain deteriorating asbestos

These hazardous asbestos fibers are most commonly discovered in items such as:

  • Insulation in walls and attics
  • Vinyl tiles utilized for flooring
  • Shingles
  • Siding on houses
  • Blankets that protect hot water pipelines
  • Fabrics that resist heat (curtains, blankets, and doors).
  • Car brakes

These lists are not exhaustive. So, if you do not see the occupation or product in which you were exposed to asbestos, it does not mean that you were not exposed to asbestos.

Anyone whose work brings them in close contact with asbestos can breathe in fibers released in the air; this is called occupational exposure. Workers’ families might also breathe in asbestos fibers released by clothes that have been touched with asbestos-containing materials; this is called para-occupational exposure. Others that live or work near asbestos-related operations might inhale asbestos fibers that have been launched into the air by such an operation; this is called neighborhood exposure.

The amount of asbestos in which someone is exposed can vary according to:

  • The duration of direct exposure.
  • The build-up of fibers in the air.
  • The person’s breathing rate.
  • Any protective devices the person might be wearing.
  • Climate condition.

Even though it is known that the risk to workers increases with considerable exposure and longer exposure time, examiners have found asbestos-related illness in people who only had brief exposure. In addition, it is common for workers who establish asbestos-related diseases to not show indications of illness for an extended quantity of time after their first exposure. It can take between 10 to 40 years for signs of an asbestos-related disease to appear. Due to this lapse of time issue, many states enable individuals to file claims within a certain quantity of time after the health problem or condition was discovered.

How Does Asbestos Exposure Happen?

Asbestos exposure happens when tiny asbestos fibers end up being airborne. This harmful mineral dust remains in the air for hours, putting anybody close by in danger of inhaling or ingesting it. It may take anywhere from 48 to 72 hours for asbestos fibers to settle in an ideal environment with few interruptions. However, if the dust is interrupted, it can quickly become airborne, again, due to its density.

Many people are exposed through their profession. Professions in manual work and knowledgeable trades present a more significant threat of asbestos exposure. U.S. Veterans were among the most vulnerable because of the armed force’s past reliance on asbestos products, particularly on Navy ships.

Business and home restoration are also unsafe since numerous older buildings have asbestos-containing materials. When common asbestos products found in houses begin to break down or are sanded, cut, drilled, or disturbed in any other way, tiny fibers get in the air.

Although ecological and secondary exposure is not as typical, it still happens frequently. Of course, almost everyone will breathe in some amount of asbestos in their lifetime, but trace amounts seldom cause health issues.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

When microscopic asbestos fibers are breathed in and swallowed, they can become trapped inside the body’s digestive or respiratory tract. Although the body can get rid of some of these asbestos fibers, many fibers get stuck completely.

There is no amount of asbestos exposure that is safe; nevertheless, the majority of problems just emerge after years of exposure to the cancer-causing agent. When asbestos fibers collect in human tissue through recurring direct exposure, they cause inflammation and DNA damage. With time, this damage causes cellular changes that can result in cancer and other diseases. And the combination of smoking cigarettes and asbestos exposure multiplies the hazard, producing an even more significant health risk.

Cancers Caused by Asbestos Exposure:

  • Mesothelioma: A rare and incurable cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or abdominal areas.
  • Lung Cancer: Cancer that starts in the lungs and generally occurs in people who smoke; however, asbestos-related lung cancer comprises roughly 4 percent of all lung cancer cases.
  • Laryngeal Cancer: Disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the larynx. In 2006, the National Institutes of Health validated that asbestos triggers laryngeal cancer.
  • Ovarian Cancer: type of cancer that begins in female organs that produce eggs. In 2012, The International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed that asbestos causes ovarian cancer.

Noncancerous Conditions Caused by Asbestos:

  • Asbestosis: Inflammation and scarring of lung tissue, which inhibits the lungs from expanding and relaxing normally
  • Pleural plaques: Areas of fibrous thickening of the lining around the lungs—the most common sign of asbestos exposure
  • Pleural Effusion: Small locations of thickened tissue in the lung lining or pleura that causes problem breathing
  • Diffuse Pleural Thickening: Substantial scarring that thickens the pleural lining of the lungs that triggers chest pain and breathlessness
  • Pleurisy: Severe inflammation of the pleural lining, also known as the pleuritic pain
  • Atelectasis: The complete or partial collapse of the entire lung or area of the lung that occurs when the tiny air sacs (alveoli) within in the lung become deflated or possibly filled with alveolar fluid

Mesothelioma, the most common result of asbestos exposure, is a tumor brought on by breathing in asbestos fibers, generally forming in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or other organs. These fibers ultimately wedge in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that covers these organs, offering the body a tough time ridding the toxic fibers. Many different kinds of mesothelioma cancer can result depending upon where the fibers took a trip in the body. The most typical signs of mesothelioma consist of:

  • Cough (dry and bothersome)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite

Can I Avoid Being Exposed?

Asbestos is so common that everybody has been around it eventually in their life. It’s in water, soil, and the air. However, when somebody is exposed to such a low level, it is not likely to make somebody ill.

Asbestos permeates the air as materials that contain it are demolished. So, for instance, when buildings are destroyed or houses are renovated, asbestos can fill the air. Repairs and house maintenance can also launch these damaging fibers. So, people have less to be worried about if they are around asbestos products that have not been damaged in any way.

Since 1970, the U.S. government has controlled the use of asbestos. For instance, it has not been mined or processed in this country for rather a long time; nevertheless, it is still utilized in certain products like cement pipes, clothing, and brake pads. But the EPA has banned it in paper, floor covering felt, artificial fireplace cinders, and other items. Thus, the chances of getting related diseases are low unless somebody works directly with asbestos daily.

In events like 9/11, where hundreds of tons of asbestos entered the air, it is most likely that rescue workers, nearby residents, and those who aided with cleanup efforts might have inhaled it. However, the long-lasting results of the direct asbestos exposure will not be understood for several years.

Asbestos Exposure Regulations

Because of the health issues that asbestos produces, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, any brand-new use of asbestos was temporarily prohibited in the United States in July 1989. Because this year, the EPA released Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions, to eventually ban approximately 94 percent of asbestos being used in the U.S. However, that guideline was later abandoned after a challenge in the federal court, subsequently overthrowing the 1989 ban. In 1990, the EPA restricted the use of spray-on materials, including more than 1 percent of asbestos in structures, structures, and other applications.

Even with federal government guidelines, asbestos-related legal suits have been regularly filed since the 1960s and continue being routinely filed today. However, no matter its legality of many applications involving asbestos, following the overthrowing of the 1989 ban, many producers have largely prevented utilizing it to limit their legal exposure.

Employees’ Rights to Protection From Asbestos Exposure

If individuals work with or around considerable quantities of asbestos as part of their job, or if a person is worried about asbestos exposure in the workplace, it is crucial to seek advice from a manager or union about any health dangers as well as the steps that are being taken to decrease those threats.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other work environment security firms are expected to keep track of and handle asbestos exposure on the job carefully– they even set legal exposure limitations for different kinds of industries. If a profession involves exposure to significant amounts of asbestos, the employer is legally needed to take certain steps that safeguard staff members from any health threats involving asbestos.

Depending upon the industry and the specifics of a job, a staff member may be legally entitled to receive, and the company might be legally obligated to provide, the following type of on-the-job protections from asbestos exposure:

  • Properly ventilated workspaces
  • Training of employees who will be working with and around asbestos
  • Monitoring of employees for asbestos exposure levels (such as daily monitoring for workers involved in the removal of asbestos-containing materials
  • Warning signs and instructions in areas where asbestos-related work is performed
  • Protective clothing (such as coveralls, gloves, foot coverings, face shields, and goggles)
  • Showers and other post-exposure precautions
  • Medical examinations for specific workers who are exposed to excessive amounts of asbestos

If you believe that your work conditions are hazardous or your employer is not appropriately protecting you from asbestos, file a confidential problem with OSHA.

Compensation for Asbestos Exposure Injuries

The results of harmful asbestos exposure are usually long-term and irreversible. Although the law seeks to put a hurt individual in their position prior to the injury, this is generally not possible. However, monetary payment believed to amount to the victim’s damage is awarded. Thus, a plaintiff who can prove that they were exposed to asbestos may have the ability to recover for both the economic and non-economic consequences of said exposure, consisting of but not limited to:

  • The expense of past and future healthcare
  • The cost of required rehab
  • Lost previous and future earnings
  • Lost earning capability
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Previous and future pain and suffering

Punitive damages may also be granted to plaintiffs. Punitive damages are meant not to compensate victims for their losses but to penalize the defendant’s wrongdoing. Although these damages are unusual, they still are an option to some. The amount of punitive damages awarded is likely based upon the accused’s wealth and the level of the wrongdoing. And some states require that a portion of the punitive damages awards be paid to the state.

Why the Cochran Firm?

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you.

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help mesothelioma victims due to asbestos exposure. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.

If you are concerned about potential asbestos exposure, or if you or a loved one has suffered from mesothelioma due to the asbestos exposure, please contact The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We serve clients throughout the United States.


The acronyms DUI and DWI express the language used by different authorities for drunk and drugged driving offenses; however, these are not the only terms used to describe impaired driving. DUI is often used to describe drunk driving laws in general, regardless of the different acronyms, because it is the most common amongst state laws. But is there actually a difference between the two?

In a few states, DUI and DWI can be used interchangeably, while in others, DUI and DWI offenses are explained and penalized in several ways. In most cases, individual states have different laws regarding differentiating between DUI’s and DWI’s. For example, in Texas, a DUI expresses when someone is driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above zero but below the legal limit of .08%, while a DWI is driving with a BAC above the legal limit of .08%.


DUI is an acronym for “Driving Under the Influence.” In most cases, this charge is connected with drunk driving, but it can also pertain to those under the influence of drugs or specific medications. In some states, a per se offense is given, meaning that a person commits the crime of DUI when driving an automobile on the road or highway with a BAC of .08%, even if they are not visibly impaired.

In most states, an offender must actually be operating an automobile to be convicted of a DUI, but this is regularly changing. An increasing number of states are beginning to use phrases like “operating a vehicle” or “being in physical control of the vehicle” in order to broaden the circumstances in which a person can be convicted of a DUI—like sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition regardless of the whether the vehicle is in motion.


What defines a DWI is usually state-specific. In some states, DWI means “driving while intoxicated” and is essentially equivalent to a DUI. However, in other states, DWI means “driving while impaired.” Within these states, any level of impairment is grounds for criminal charges. For example, driving while falling asleep and driving while physically incapable of controlling a vehicle—safely— would lead to criminal charges. In reality, the elements of DWI are the same as DUI without drugs or alcohol being involved. 

No matter what acronym is used, a DUI or DWI designates that the arresting officer saw reason to believe a driver was impaired to the point of not being able to continue driving. 

Impaired Driving Acronyms

The acronyms DUI and DWI are the most frequently used expressions for drunk driving charges in the United States, but they are not the only ones. Each acronym has a specific meaning within the penal code of each state, so tossing around certain terminology doesn’t help when discussing particular jurisdictions. In fact, many states have more than one type of impaired driving charge, each with its own acronym. 

In over half of the states, the term DUI is used to identify the typical charge for driving under the influence, while ten states use the term DWI (driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired). However, various other terms are also used for standard impaired driving—usually for a BAC of .08% or higher— and including the following:

  • OUI – Operating under the influence
  • DWAI – Driving while ability impaired
  • OVUII – Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant
  • OWI – Operating while intoxicated
  • OVI – Operating a vehicle under the influence
  • DUII  – Driving under the influence of intoxicants

Do Offense Names Matter?

Despite the numerous names, state DUI laws are relatively the same in defining drunk and drugged driving. So, for the most part, the names do not matter all that much.

In each state, based on a BAC or actual intoxication, any person can be convicted of a DUI. A DUI that is based solely on BAC is usually referred to as a “per se DUI.” All states, except for Utah (where the maximum BAC level is more strict), define per se DUI’s as operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher. Some states even have a per se drug-DUI law which makes it illegal to operate a vehicle with a certain concentration of drugs in a person’s system.

With that being said, all states have impairment DUI laws. But each state has its own laws that define the forbidden level of impairment differently. For example, in Nebraska, the DUI laws define under the influence as having a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle impaired to any “substantial degree.” On the other hand, California DUI laws define under the influence if “substantially” affected by drugs or alcohol.

When Offenses Names Do Make a Difference

Most states use several different names to explain other classes of impaired driving offenses. For example, the standard drunk or drugged driving offense in New York is called “driving while intoxicated” or “DWI.” However, New York also has a less significant offense called “driving while ability impaired” or “DWAI.”

Generally, when a state has two different types of impaired driving offenses, the driver’s level of impairment is the difference between the two. In states with numerous impaired driving classifications, an offender charged with driving under the influence or DUI can sometimes plea bargain for the lesser impaired driving offense.

DUI or DWI Consequences

Like any other criminal charge, a person charged with DUI or DWI is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is demonstrated through the defendant’s own plea or after a jury trial, the punishment will depend on the state law that the impaired driving charge took place.

Most DUIs tend to carry hefty punishments that typically include license suspension, expensive fines, and possible jail time. It is also becoming common for state DUI laws to require convicted motorists to use ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for some time after their license is reinstated. 

Jail Time

A first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor in numerous states, and punishment lasts no longer than six months to a year in jail. However, in a few states, the maximum time a person can spend in jail for a first-time DUI offense is even shorter. For example, the maximum jail time for a first DWI offense in New Jersey is 30 days. And, although it is not common, some states, like Pennsylvania, carry no possible jail time for a first DUI.

With second and succeeding DUI’s and DWI’s, the maximum possible jail time is often more significant. Nonetheless, it is much more common for the mandatory minimum jail sentence for a second offense to be longer than the first offense.

Many circumstances affect the amount of jail time a person can expect to serve for a DUI or DWI conviction. For example, some states mandate more extreme punishments if a person’s BAC at the time they are arrested is much higher than the legal limit of .08%. Also, if someone’s DUI or DWI has been categorized as a felony—because the driver has killed or injured another person or due to the driver having numerous prior DUI/DWI convictions— it is not unlikely for the driver to receive a severe several year sentence. Again, however, it is important to remember that the specifics depend on the state in which the DUI or DWI occurred, the facts of the case, and the circumspection of the judge at trial.


Fines are the most common result of a DUI or DWI conviction. These fines frequently vary by state. But the same kind of factors that increase jail time usually increase the fines a driver can expect to pay.

In most states, a typical first DUI conviction is between $500 to $2,000 in fines. Fines for succeeding offenses and DUI’s or DWI’s that involved aggravated factors usually climb way into the thousands. Although it varies from state to state, the fines someone convicted of a DUI or DWI can prepare to pay are about the same.

Driver’s License Issues

There is a significant chance that a DUI or DWI offender will have their license suspended for an extended period of time—either assigned by the court or state motor vehicles department. Like other punishments, the suspension periods are normally associated with how many convictions a person previously has. For example, in Alabama, the suspension period is 90 days for a first DUI offense, a 1-year revocation for a second offense, and a 3-year revocation for a third offense.

License suspension can also result if a driver unlawfully refuses to take a breath, urine, or blood test. Typically, the suspension imposed for an unlawful refusal is exceedingly longer than what the driver would have otherwise faced.

Sometimes it is possible to obtain a “hardship license,” which allows a person to drive to and from places like school or work during their DUI suspension.

In few states, additional steps are taken to make sure that a person (typically a repeat offender) does not get back on the road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. States can either confiscate or cancel a person’s car registration, temporarily or permanently, or require an ignition interlock device (IID) to be attached to the driver’s car. An IID is a breathalyzer wired to a car’s ignition that hinders a driver from operating a vehicle when breath alcohol is detected.

Alternate Forms of Punishment

In a lot of states, alternative sentencing options are available to certain offenders, such as prevention programs, substance abuse education, treatment for substance abuse, and community service. Oftentimes judges in these states recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines, usually for first-time offenders. Also, a judge might intermix these alternative sentencing options along with other punishments.

Young Offenders

If a minor is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may face relatively different penalties than convicted adults. There is a zero-tolerance law in most states that do not allow drivers who are younger than 21 years old to drive with even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system. These zero-tolerance offenses normally don’t carry any jail time but will result in license suspension and fines.

Other Consequences

In addition to legal penalties, a driver’s insurance company will sometimes increase the driver’s rates drastically or even cancel an insurance policy because of the DUI or DWI conviction. It is important to note that a DUI or DWI conviction stays on someone’s driving record for a number of years.

Furthermore, certain jobs may be unavailable to those convicted of a DUI or DWI, like operating a school bus, delivery van, or any other vehicle as part of their employment.

In the end, the driver could face a separate civil lawsuit if there are accident victims that sue for bodily injuries or property damages. 

No matter how your state refers to impaired driving—and whether it has different types of charges for numerous offenses within that category—convictions for these types of crimes can significantly impact your life. 

A DUI conviction can result in jail time, license suspension, and fines. However, oftentimes, some of these punishments can be reduced or avoided entirely. For these reasons, it is pertinent to consult an expert DUI attorney to help determine your options.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the DUI process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you.

If you want to avoid the stress that comes with a DUI, you need a qualified attorney. You need a Cochran Firm attorney. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is being provided.

If you or a loved one have been accused of driving under the influence, please contact our experienced attorneys with offices nationwide today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation.

Keith Givens on the Trial Lawyers Summit and Lanier Trial Academy

Michelle Swanner, Executive Director of The National Trial Lawyers, interviews Keith Givens, Founding Shareholder of The Cochran Firm, P.C., about his experiences at the Trial Lawyers Summit and Lanier Trial Academy.

Q: Can you tell me about your experience at the Trial Lawyers Summit?

A: The Trial Lawyers Summit, and I have attended probably 10 or 12, is an opportunity, usually at the first part of the year, to jumpstart your brain and practice. But given COVID-19 circumstances, we are a little bit delayed this year, and given the unusually cold weather, everyone is super anxious to get started on both. The Trial Lawyers Summit is a networking opportunity on steroids, and it’s an opportunity to hear from the very best speakers and presenters in the country. I think we will have over 150 this year to present some of the changes and techniques that we are going to have to adapt to because of what we have experienced with all of the shutdowns in the justice system over the last 12 months. It’s really critical to experience both the safe interaction—because we will have proper distancing and masks provided by Esquire Bank—and all of the other necessary techniques to make sure our attendees are safe to restart our practices the right way again.

Q: Can you tell me about your experience at the Lanier Trial Academy?

A: The Lanier Trial Academy is a perfect 1-2 punch, with the first punch being the Summit in Miami and the second being a more detailed, ingraining experience with one of the best trial lawyers of our time. Mark Lanier will spend two full days sharing every secret he has, as well as some of his inner thoughts as to how to prepare for trials, the presentation of the trial itself, and what wins trials. Ultimately, he will take everyone through the jury selection, to the closing arguments, all the way through to receiving the verdict. Attendees will hear things that they will not be able to hear at any other conference, in any other manner. So, I would not miss that second punch that will help us get restarted, especially after COVID-19.

Q: Why should someone attend both the Trial Lawyers Summit and Lanier Trial Academy?

A: Well, for two reasons. The first, being the discounted opportunity we are now offering. Also, I think if you attend one, it should motivate you enough to want to be the kind of trial lawyer that wouldn’t want to miss the second one. The Lanier Trial Academy will get you into the weeds and below as it relates to being a successful trial lawyer and learning some of the most modern up-to-date techniques. So personally, I wouldn’t miss either one.

If you are interested in registering for both events using an exclusive 2021 Event Pass, NTL members can sign up here, and non-members can sign up here.

The 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit is sponsored by Counsel Financial, The Sentinel Group, and Digital Law Marketing. The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0 Big As Texas Partners are Consumer Attorney Marketing Group, Archer, and Trusted Legal Partners.

Safety Guidelines at the 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit

Safety has played a massive factor in planning for the upcoming Trial Lawyers Summit. If you are determined to enhance your legal processes, attending the Trial Lawyers Summit is the first step. On January 31 – February 3, 2021, YOU are our main priority. For this event, attendance is limited, but you can guarantee your spot by registering now. There’s no need to worry – you will receive a 100% refund if the Trial Lawyers Summit is canceled or if you cancel due to COVID-19 related issues. Though we do not know what requirements will be in place in January, we currently anticipate all events and sessions will remain on-site at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Large social gatherings will occur outside, and outdoor dining space will be made available for all meals, weather permitting. Plenty of disposable face masks and personal size hand sanitizer will be available for everyone, and physical/social distancing will be encouraged and respectfully enforced. Attendees will be required to wear a face mask during indoor activities and sessions. All session seating will be physically/socially distanced, and meeting occupancy will be limited to the seats available. To view our full COVID-19 safety guidelines, click here.

Best of all, Emmy award-winning medical reporter and writer Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be our keynote speaker at the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon on February 1. I’m interested to hear his thoughts on the world today regarding COVID-19 and what the future holds.

Check out the full conference agenda and view our online brochure.

Make sure to reserve your spot and I’ll see you next January!


Michelle Swanner

Executive Director

The National Trial Lawyers

Pfizer to Pay $190M in Class Action Settlement over Generic Neurontin

legal news, law news, lawyers, settlements

This article originally appeared on

A $190 million settlement has been reached in New York in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against Pfizer which alleges the pharma giant engaged in tactics to delay market entry of generic versions of its epilepsy drug Neurontin.

The lawsuit was filed by purchasers of Neurontin in 2002, claiming Pfizer undertook campaign of sham patent infringement lawsuits and promotion of the drug for unapproved uses in order to maintain market exclusivity. The case is In re Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, No. 02-1390, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

In 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegal marketing of Neurontin and paid $430 million to federal and state governments.

40-year-old English Professor Wins $27.5 Million in Rare Secondhand Asbestos Case

A Cleveland, Ohio, instructor has won $27.5 million in a lawsuit claiming that he contracted mesothelioma after coming into contact with asbestos on his father’s work clothes.  Doctors diagnosed John Panza, Jr., 40, with mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, in 2012.  His father died in 1994 from lung cancer after working at Eaton Airflex brake company for 31 years.

The $27.5 million verdict is believed to be the largest of its kind in Ohio.  The jury awarded Panza $515,000 in economic damages and $12 million in non-economic damages. His wife, Jane Panza, was awarded $15 million for loss of consortium for a total award of $27,515,000.The only defendant at trial, Kelsey-Hayes Company, successor to National Friction Products Corp., was found 60% liable. The verdict was handed down on December 18, 2013.

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Gary Paul, partner at Waters, Kraus & Paul in San Francisco and lead trial attorney for the Panzas, said “I am so proud to represent John and his wife Jane. True justice happened today.”   Paul was assisted by Demetrious Zacharapolous, also an attorney at Waters, Kraus & Paul.

Attorney John Mismas, who served as local counsel, says “I’m just happy for the family.  Which for me, it’s not about me winning this award.  It’s not about the money for me.”

John Panza, Jr., an English instructor at Cuyahoga Community College, has undergone four separate surgeries, including the removal of his right lung.  The plant where his father worked from 1963 to 1993, owned by the former National Friction Products Corp., manufactured brake pads which contained asbestos. Panza’s father regularly came home covered in the cancer-causing material after working in the receiving and shipping department. He delivered materials all over the plant and was a frequent bystander to other employees who drilled and abraded National Friction products, which released asbestos.

The jury assigned 60 percent of the liability to Kelsey-Hayes, after finding that the brake pads made at the factory were defective and were the primary cause of Panza’s cancer.  40 percent of the liability was assigned to Eaton Airflex, which was protected from liability under Ohio law.  Kelsey-Hayes will be held responsible for the damages, and is expected to appeal the verdict.  There will be a second trial at a later date set by the court with a different jury to determine whether punitive damages should be awarded and in what amount.

Family of Virginia Man Killed by His Own House in a Tornado wins $1.7 Million Jury Award

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Path of tornado Surry Co. to Mathews Co., including Gloucester Co., VA. April 16, 2011

A jury in Virginia awarded $1.7 million in a construction defect case to the family  of a Gloucester, Virginia man who was killed when a tornado dropped his own modular house on him.

Richard Ingram, 53, was killed on April 16, 2011, when a tornado lifted his home off of its foundation and crashed it into a nearby garage where he was working.  Robert J. Haddad, the attorney representing Ingram’s estate, argued that Ingram’s modular home had not been properly anchored to its foundation.

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Circuit Court Judge Frederick B. Lowe instructed the jury that the contractor which installed Ingram’s home, Custom Builders Express, had violated several portions of the building code.  Judge Lowe said the only thing for jurors to decide was whether the contractor’s negligence was a proximate cause of Ingram’s death.

The tornado had a nearly continuous damage path ranging in width from around 200 yards to as much as a half mile wide in Gloucester county, according to the National Weather Service. Over 200 homes were damaged with many of these homes severely damaged. Numerous trees were downed or sheared off.

Defense attorney C. Jay Robbins IV, representing Benchmark Insurance Co., argued that the EF-3 tornado was so powerful that Ingram’s home would have been ripped from its foundation even if it had been anchored.  Robbins also told jurors that the garage where Ingram was working had already been destroyed by the tornado, and that Ingram was likely killed before the house was blown onto the garage.  After two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ingram’s estate, which had sought $2.4 million in damages.  Robbins has appealed the verdict.


A Lawyer and Partner, and Also Bankrupt

New York Times; January 24, 2014

Anyone who wonders why law school applications are plunging and there’s widespread malaise in many big law firms might consider the case of Gregory M. Owens.

The silver-haired, distinguished-looking Mr. Owens would seem the embodiment of a successful Wall Street lawyer. A graduate of Denison University and Vanderbilt Law School, Mr. Owens moved to New York City and was named a partner at the then old-line law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, and after a merger, at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Today, Mr. Owens, 55, is a partner at an even more eminent global law firm, White & Case. A partnership there or any of the major firms collectively known as “Big Law” was long regarded as the brass ring of the profession, a virtual guarantee of lifelong prosperity and job security.

But on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Owens filed for personal bankruptcy.

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