Technology & Public Safety

Seat belts weren’t common in cars until the 1960s, and federal law didn’t require car manufacturers to install seat belts until 1968. The corporations fought the safety standards (corporations almost always put money over safety when the two are in conflict). As a result it took decades of medical research until car manufacturers were finally forced to install seat belts in their cars. 

Today, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 90% of Amercians use seat belts, and some 15,000 lives a year are saved.

There’s an exception, though. People who wear seatbelts regularly in their own cars don’t do so in taxis. And some states have enacted laws that exempt cab companies from the normal seat belt rules.

Some have speculated that the reason people wear seat belts in their own cars but not in taxis is psychological. People just assume that shorter trips with professional drivers and sitting in the back seat are safer in general. (This isn’t true).

Now, with the rise of Uber and Lyft, the number of people riding in cars-for-hire has skyrocketed. Last year, Americans took 3.2 billion rides. Some studies have shown that 43% of people in Ubers & Lyfts don’t use seatbelts, and 80% don’t buckle up for short trips.

I wear my seat belt in my own car 100% of the time. But when I take Ubers or other ride-sharing services, and I almost never wear a seat belt. And no one has ever said anything to me about it, other than my wife, who I should listen to more often!

At our firm, we’ve represented thousands of people in car and truck crashes, many of which are extremely bad crashes with serious injuries or even death. Even though I see mayhem regularly, I guess I fell victim to the psychology too, because I only recently realized that I wasn’t regularly buckling up in Ubers. 

From here on out, I will always buckle up in any vehicle, whether it’s my own personal vehicle, an Uber, a taxi, or any other vehicle. I’ll also make sure that my kids know about that “Buckle Up for Safety” applies to all cars, not just your own car.

I urge you to do the same. Seat belts truly do save lives.

Hard Rock Hotel Collapse

Chaos breaks out after a massive crane collapses at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site. This crane collapsed in Downtown New Orleans near the French Quarter and Theater District early Saturday morning at 9:12 AM local time leaving 2 workers dead, 30 people injured, and one person still missing amidst the rubble. 

Citadel Builders, based in Metairie, Louisiana has since been identified as the general contractor on the Hard Rock Hotel construction project. This 18 story and 350 room hotel project resulted in dangerous discord after a colossal crane collapsed, initially affecting the 6th and 8th floors, but ultimately causing large portions of the building to collapse. 

Brian Trascher, a spokesman for Citadel Builders, said that their team was “working closely with the city to stabilize the building”. In these efforts, Citadel Builders called on the crane’s owner and head engineer of the manufacturer from Munich, Germany, to fly to New Orleans and assist in the recovery effort. 

Furthermore, when asked about the cause of the crane collapse, Brian Trascher only mentioned that the cause of the collapse “remains under investigation”. Unfortunately, neither the Citadel Builders nor any Emergency Officials have been able to inform the public on the cause of the crane’s collapse. 

Our prayers to go out to the families that have been impacted by the devastation of the crane’s collapse.

Why survivors and victims’ families should conduct an independent investigation into the Hard Rock Hotel Collapse

It’s clear that working construction is no walk in the park. There are many layers of safety rules and regulations that are put in place to make safety a priority. Nevertheless, sometimes, companies and employees choose to prioritize profits over safety and that leads to accidents. When accidents like these happen, accidents that put people in harm’s way, the law refers to it as Negligence. You have to protect your legal rights by hiring the right attorney to combat corporate negligence on your behalf. At VB Attorneys, it is our mission to hold companies accountable for their negligence. 

What to do if you or someone you know has been harmed in the Hard Rock Hotel Collapse

Our office is monitoring the situation closely as we do with all crane related accidents. If you or someone you know has been hurt as a result of the Hard Rock Hotel Collapse contact our office at 877-724-7800 or click here to fill out a contact form. 

Our team of Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyers has taken on cases against corporate giants in crane accidents before & won. Our team has handled many crane-related lawsuits in the past, we know the right experts to call, we have a winning track record, and our mission is to fight for people who’ve been harmed by corporate negligence.

Private insurers are wrongfully denying Medicare prescription drug claims

Private insurers are wrongfully denying Medicare prescription drug claims

At our law firm, we take on insurance companies and big corporations every single day. We know the tactics they use to delay and deny legitimate injury claims. In fact, Vuk and I both worked for large law firms representing big companies and big insurance carriers before deciding we wanted to represent individuals and families against those very same corporate interests. Once we made that decision almost 20 years ago, we never looked back.

A recent study by a government watchdog group finds that private insurers are putting profits ahead of patient interests. The report was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General, which analyzed millions of rejected prescription requests.

According to the study, private insurers rejected 84 million prescription requests in 2017. According to the study, this could result in “physical or financial harm” to Medicare beneficiaries.

The study also found that many of the denials were inappropriate and resulted primarily from the insurers not explaining the complex Medicare rules to patients and doctors. (Think this was on purpose? I do).

More interesting, perhaps, was the fact that when patients appealed, 73% of the time, they won, which means the insurers were putting them through unnecessary time and expense most of the time.

In fact, sometimes, insurers will process a denial without even having all the relevant information, then they will take information they obtain at a later date and use that to support the denial, rather than honestly and objectively examining the evidence.

As I’ve written before, the insurance game is a rigged system, whether its health insurance, liability insurance, or prescription drug coverage. You pay good money for a product (insurance). Then when you try to use the product you paid for, the company selling it to you (the insurers) puts up roadblock after roadblock after roadblock to try to deny benefits that are rightly yours.

And when the insurance companies lose, they don’t face any real accountability, so they have an incentive to just keep doing the same thing again and again, to more and more patients and their families. After all, if it makes them more money, and they don’t have to face any real consequences for poor decisions, then the companies will continue to delay, distract, and deny claims. All in the name of making just a little more profit. And all at the expense of patients and doctors.

Bottom line: If you are having problems with an insurance company, you need someone on your side who knows how to fight and win against the largest companies in the world. The insurance companies have armies of lawyers and adjusters. Most consumers don’t have anyone fighting for them unless and until they hire an experienced lawyer.

The Human Cost of Fast & Free Shipping

My family loves the convenience of Amazon’s fast and free shipping. Heck, I’ll bet some sort of delivery box shows up on our door almost every day of the week, sometimes multiple times a day. 

Have you noticed that over the past few years the delivery trucks aren’t always brown UPS vans or FedEx trucks or US post office mail trucks?  

Instead, over the past few years, I’ve seen the UPS and US Post Office trucks replaced by fleets of white delivery trucks, mainly Dodge Ram delivery trucks all over the place, all over my neighborhood, delivering packages at all times of the day and night.

I’ve always assumed that those were Amazon vans, and if one of those vans were to cause someone to be injured or killed, Amazon, with its billions of dollars of revenue, would fairly compensate anyone who was injured or killed by one of their drivers.

I was wrong. Turns out that even though I am a lawyer who works on these kinds of cases every day, I did not know that Amazon has set up an elaborate scheme to avoid any accountability for its contracted delivery drivers, using outdated laws that simply don’t work in the age of technology and of fast and free shipping in order to insulate itself from accountability for its drivers’ recklessness.

So bottom line: Amazon reaps all the profits and pays none of the costs at all.

Here’s how the scheme works:

Amazon has built a huge logistics operation in its push to dominate e-commerce. It has created a network of delivery drivers whose primary job is to get goods to customers as quickly as possible.

Amazon tightly controls the order and route of deliveries through a dispatching app. Amazon requires that 999 of 1,000 deliveries arrive on time. It uses software to track its drivers and punishes those who don’t meet its strict requirements.

Then, when one of the drivers hurts or kills someone, Amazon claims in court that it has no responsibility at all for the negligence of its drivers. Amazon tries to push all the legal responsibilities off on other companies, claiming that its drivers should pay all costs, even though Amazon gets all the gain.

It’s completely un-American to take all the profits but then claim no responsibility at all for the human costs. Especially when you are a corporation worth hundreds of billions of dollars, owned by the richest man in the world, and don’t pay a dime in federal income tax.

Amazon should be ashamed for manipulating the legal system like this. Its lawyers should be ashamed for trying to help Amazon avoid any accountability at all. Judges who rule in Amazon’s favor on these issues are ruling against the rights of your family and mine to hold wrongdoers accountable for their negligence. And the politicians who turn a blind eye aren’t doing their jobs, either.

So what do you do if you’ve been injured by an Amazon delivery van? First, make sure you hire a really good lawyer, immediately. The reason you need to hire a really good lawyer immediately is because taking on Amazon and its army of lawyers is a big task, and most lawyers simply aren’t qualified to handle the task.

Second, vote. Pay attention to which politicians and which judges rule in favor of Big Corporations and Big Insurance, and vote them out of office.

Third, be prepared for a hard battle. Amazon didn’t become one of the largest companies in the history of the world by playing fair. The only way to hold them accountable is to fight back just as hard as Amazon fights you.

Bottom line: Fast and free shipping is awesome. It’s especially helpful for people who aren’t able to get the items they need, when they need them, because they have kids, jobs, or are not mobile.

Amazon makes billions of dollars every quarter. But there’s a cost to all of us, and part of the cost is the costs associated with dangerous delivery drivers. 

Who should pay those costs? The company making billions of dollars using this scheme, or the innocent people  who fall victim to the scheme? 

The answer seems pretty clear to me.

Taking away your legal rights

Study after study has proven conclusively that when Big Corporations, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and similar special interest groups pay our politicians to enact special laws to give them special rights that you and I don’t get, our communities are less safe and more people are killed by negligence or recklessness.

When insurance companies pay politicians to enact special laws just for them, bad stuff happens. For example, a few years back, the Texas governor put caps on the amount of money refineries would have to pay if they broke environmental laws. Not surprisingly, there have been major environmental issues with refineries in Texas.

None of this should be surprising to anyone. Think about it. Imagine a case where a corporation worth 5 billion dollars gets hit with a 2 million dollar verdict after killing someone through negligence or recklessness. 2 million sounds like a lot of money, right? Well, 2 million is .0004% of that corporations net worth. Less than a drop in the bucket. 

One of the main purposes of our legal system is to protect our community from dangerous corporations, insurance companies that don’t pay what they owe, and pharmaceutical companies who sell deadly or dangerous drugs.

Fining a corporation .0004% of its worth doesn’t change a thing. They just build that cost into the cost of doing business, and put safety over profit.

Big Corporations, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an all-out effort to convince lawmakers and the public to give them special rights that you and I don’t have. They’ve tried to convince people that they should be able to do whatever they want, when they want, regardless of who gets killed or injured, and not have any accountability or responsibility at all, or at least no meaningful accountability. 

Thankfully, the public is catching on, and so are some of our courts. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently overruled the special interest law that put a cap of $350,000 on personal injury cases, no matter how bad someone is hurt. A federal court recently said that a Tennessee law capping corporate fines was unconstitutional (the case involved a life insurance company that took a family’s money for years then decided not to pay the family when the policyholder died). 

Other courts are headed in the same direction.

This trend is positive and it will result in safer communities, safer products, safer drugs, and insurance companies that actually honor the policies they sell us.

I am a firm believer in a fair, open, and effective legal system. I believe that giving special rights to reckless companies or billion dollar insurance companies who refuse to honor their promises is the wrong way to go.

The right way to go is the way our Founding Fathers set up the system—let us decide, We the People, sitting on juries, hearing evidence, and reaching decisions based on the facts of each case.

Our legal system is the best system ever designed. Unfortunately, Big Business has spent the last 20 years trying to tear it apart, brick by brick, until nothing meaningful is left of our legal system. 

I am glad that many of our state and federal courts have started to recognize this trend. Each and every one of us deserves a level playing field. 

I hope the rest of our courts and our political leaders take note and stop passing laws designed to take away our rights.

Truck accident settlement calculator

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Your ultimate guide to settling your truck accident case

If you’re dealing with an injury claim because an 18-wheeler, commercial vehicle or truck hit you, you’ve probably had lots of people tell you that you’ll get “three times the medical bills.” We hear it all the time. It’s not true.

There’s no magic formula for truck accident claims, even though we’re often asked if there is one. Each case is unique, therefore every settlement will be different.

Many people think there is such a formula, like “three times the medical bills,” or something similar.  Well, there really is no “formula” for settling personal injury cases.  But here’s the good news:  there is a method by which personal injury cases are settled.

Our methodology for getting fair settlements in truck accident claims

You have probably heard that most personal injury claims are settled out of court. Indeed, over 95% of all these cases are settled and never go to trial. Yet, the method for settling injury claims is based on one thing and one thing alone: how would a jury decide the case. 

Here’s the deal: if an injury case is not settled out of court, it will be decided by a jury. That’s why we treat every case as if it will be decided by a jury.

If you knew what a jury would award you, then this would be an easy process. If the insurance company offered you the jury-decided amount or more, you would take it. If they offered you less, then you would go collect the higher amount from the jury.

The problem is that you don’t know what a jury will do with your claim. You don’t know how much they will award you, or if they will award you anything at all.

Because of this, the entire methodology of settling truck wrecks is based on what

If you don’t have a lawyer and want to try to settle your own injury claim, here’s what you need to know about how expert lawyers and adjusters come up with their reliable estimate. While the methodology I’m laying out in this article is what lawyers use, you probably won’t have the resources to be able to use every part of the method. But, this should give you some very good information that you will be able to use to try to settle your own claim.

1. Who was at fault in causing your injuries?

If you were hit by a commercial truck, 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or other large vehicle, 

 

Let’s start with a truck wreck.  Sometimes it was clearly the other driver’s fault, which will make this part of the evaluation fairly easy.  Other times, fault is not so clear. If a police report was made, and a ticket was given to one of the parties, that helps the jury decide who is at fault. If the police weren’t called to the scene of the accident, or they came but were unable to determine how the accident was caused, then your job becomes harder. You might have to hire an accident reconstruction expert to come up with how the accident occurred to show the jury. 

 One of the things a jury would decide is fault – and they can spread fault around if they want.  They can divide it up any way they want, 50/50, 70/30, 90/10, 47/53 – any combination of percentages as long as they total up to 100%.  What you need to know is this:  whatever percent fault a jury puts on you, then your compensation is reduced by that percent.  So, if a jury says you are 50% at fault and awards you $250,000, then you can only take home half – only $125,000.

Please note:  I am using the term “fault,” but the legal term for what you have to prove is negligence.

If your accident was not a car or truck wreck, then the fault / negligence determination is likely going to be more complicated.  For example, it’s often more difficult to evaluate fault or negligence in cases involving work injuries, offshore injury & Jones Act claims, and defective product cases.

2. What are your Injuries?

Orthopedic injuries are often categorized in to two groups:  surgery cases and non-surgery cases.  Surgery cases are almost always evaluated higher.  If you had a different type of injury, the evaluation process is more difficult. This would include the following other types of injuries:  brain injuries and burn injuries.  Perhaps the most complicated types of injury claims to estimate are wrongful death cases. Those require many experts to determine not only what happened, but how much your economic and personal losses are. Wrongful death cases are very complicated and typically take a long time. 

3. How Much are Your Medical Bills?

You will need to know how much your doctors have charged you so far.  Also, it will be very useful for you to know whether you will need to keep seeing doctors in to the future, and how much that treatment will cost.  A jury can award you compensation for these past and future medical bills (in our cases, we often hire a life care planning expert to support your claim for future medical treatment).  How much they award you is highly dependent on the details of your case.  Are your doctors credible and qualified?  Do your doctors come across well to a jury? Are your medical records tidy and accurate, or are they a complete mess?  How do your MRI films or other medical films appear? (Yes, a jury would be able to view these films for themselves, so it matters.) 

4. Did you Miss any Work Because of Your Injuries?

A jury would have an opportunity to compensate you if you missed work while treating for your injuries – the term for this is “lost wages.” They can compensate you for work not only that you have missed in the past, but also for work you may miss in to the future (in this situation, we always hire economic and vocational rehabilitation experts to support your future wage loss claim).

5. Do you have any permanent limitations from your injuries?

Some injuries heal up completely with medical treatment over time.  Other injuries leave you with one or more permanent limitations.  If your injuries leave you with one or more permanent disabilities, your claim will have a much higher value.  Often, your doctors’ opinions are going to help you substantiate such a claim.  Examples of injuries with permanent implications include:  injuries to the discs in your spine (often requiring surgery); spinal cord injuries such as paralysis; disfiguring burn injuries; amputation injuries; and head & brain injuries.

6. Other Important Considerations:

If you don’t have a lawyer, the opposing party will take it into consideration and will try to get off cheaper because they assume you won’t know the value of your claim.  If you do have a lawyer, the insurance company will consider who your lawyer is when determining their offer.  Hopefully you have an attorney with a lot of experience – if so, odds are your case will be valued higher.  If you have a lawyer who has gone to trial on lots of cases and obtained great results for his or her clients, that will help get your case settled for a fair amount.  On the other hand, if you end up with an attorney who has not set foot in a courtroom in years, and who has a reputation for settling all of his or her cases for anything the insurance company offers, then don’t expect to get much on your claim.

If your injury claim has been filed at the courthouse, consideration will be given to the judge’s identity.  Some judges are known for being better for injury victims, while others are known for being more favorable for insurance companies and corporations. 

The state and county where your claim would be filed (or where it is on file) matters as well.  Some venues are better than others for someone in your position – this is based on the demographics of the county, which tells us the likely makeup of a jury that would hear your case.

Hopefully this information will help you settle your personal injury claim on your own.  The truth is, if you have a relatively small claim, then you can probably follow the above methodology and get your claim settled.  But, if you have a significant injury, you will be best served by interviewing some attorneys and then hiring the lawyer who you believe is best for your case.

I wish you the best of luck.  If you would like us to give you a free case analysis, contact us and we will help you determine if you need a lawyer for your claim.

 

What does negligence mean for your personal injury case?

What is negligence?

When you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you, the injured party, sometimes referred to as the plaintiff, is required to prove that the defendant, the party who caused your injuries, was negligent in order to win your lawsuit and collect monetary compensation. Negligence is defined as the failure to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. Simply put, negligence is when a company or person is expected to act in a reasonably careful manner & fails to do so, resulting in injuries & damages.

The Principles of Negligence

Duty & Breach

The “duty” element of negligence requires that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal obligation to provide them (and others) with a particular standard of conduct. When no “duty” exists, there can be no legal liability due to negligence. Generally, there are statutory rules and guidelines that dictate how people must act, like an employee handbook or company policies. By introducing evidence of those guidelines being violated, one can now begin to prove negligence. Notwithstanding, courts ordinarily rely on the standards of a “reasonable person” when defining what “duty” is owed and if that “duty” was “breached”. Without elaboration, “Breach” is when the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty and fails to fulfill that duty. 

For instance, the “duty” of a “reasonable driver” is to yield before taking a right turn at a red light, failing to do so and causing an accident would mean they’ve “breached” their duty to act as a “reasonable person”. In this analogy, even if the driver had made a full stop at the red light, they have “breached” their “duty” to act as a “reasonable driver” when they failed to yield with enough caution. Oftentimes, the “breach” factor of negligence is the simplest to explain but can be the most challenging to prove in court. For this reason, the lawyers at VB Attorneys often call on experts to testify. In doing so, they can adjust the standard of a “reasonable person” to a reasonable person with a certain skill set or expertise that is relevant to the case at hand. 

Causation & Damages

Typically, after proving that a duty has been breached one has established that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries or “damages”. However, many times the defendant will challenge the “causation”. The “causation” aspect of negligence reveals whether or not the defendant’s actions caused the “damages” in question. When considering the “causation” element of negligence we must ask: Did the defendant’s actions or omission of action lead to the dangerous conditions that ultimately caused injuries or “damages”? Causation must prove that a person of ordinary intelligence could have anticipated the danger created by the negligent act or omission of such. The breach of duty must be the cause of damage in order for negligence to apply. 

Furthermore, the defendant may claim that even if they were negligent and breached their duty to the plaintiff, that negligence was not the cause -or the sole cause- of the injuries or “damages”. Essentially, the defendant will use the “causation” component of negligence to avoid all or partial responsibility for the “damages”. Let’s use our analogy from earlier about the driver who fails to properly yield and causes an accident, the defendant. In this scenario, the defendant is negligent. But what if the plaintiff, the person seeking compensation for “damages,” was texting and driving at the time of the accident. The defendant will argue that although he or she failed to properly yield, the plaintiff is fully or at least partially responsible for the accident and in turn, partially responsible for the “damages”.

How does negligence affect compensation?

Regardless of what state you live in, or what state your injuries occurred in, proving negligence in a personal injury case is always the same. However, each state has its own way of handling how negligence affects compensation and settlement disbursement in a personal injury lawsuit. Different states have different negligence statutes and knowing how each statute will play out in court is an essential detail that should not be overlooked by you or your attorney. If you’ve been injured due to negligence, or would simply like to know what negligence statutes apply to you, please consult with our Board Certified Attorneys immediately.  

Modified Comparative Negligence 

Texas operates under the “Modified Comparative Negligence Law”. This system only allows a plaintiff to recover damages if they are 50% or less responsible for said damages. If the plaintiff holds the burden of 51% or higher, he or she may not recover any damages. “Modified Comparative Negligence” is the most prevalent system because it is well balanced and nonpartisan. “Modified Comparative Negligence Law” protects the rights of plaintiffs who’ve suffered from the damages of negligence while simultaneously deterring nonsensical and risky lawsuits. To be awarded compensation under the “Modified Comparative Negligence Law” a plaintiff must prove their burden of responsibility for damages was less than half.

Pure Comparative Negligence 

Some states operate under what is known as “Pure Comparative Negligence”. This statute is different from “Modified Comparative Negligence” and adjusts the way compensation is accorded. Under a “Pure Comparative Negligence” system, plaintiffs are awarded compensation proportionately to their burden of responsibility or fault in the accident. As a rule, jurisdictions operating under the “Pure Comparative Negligence” system reduce the compensation that a plaintiff receives after a personal injury lawsuit by the percentage of fault the plaintiff had in causing the accident. For instance, if a plaintiff’s presented settlement is $100, and the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident, let’s say 20% responsible, the awarded settlement would be $80. 

Contributory Negligence

Under the “Contributory Negligence Statute,” a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is barred from the collection of compensation if the plaintiff is found to share ANY amount of fault in the accident that caused damages or injury. In the eyes of the law, under “Contributory Negligence” a plaintiff who is found responsible for even 1% of the blame can not recover any kind of compensation. Compensation for medical bills, loss of income and mental anguish are all off the table under “Contributory Negligence”.  This statue is largely seen as partisan and unfair. For that reason, it has been abandoned by most states.

Negligence Statutes don’t apply to every case

After discussing the different kinds of negligence statutes that exist, it is important to note that there are other exemptions to the rule. Most negligence statutes vary from state to state, and when you’re injured and seek compensation via a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney and your case are confined to the boundaries and the decrees of state law. That being said, there are occasions where the injured plaintiff is not only protected by state law but also by federal law. Some federal laws can provide plaintiffs with auxiliary protections, regardless of the state or where the accident occurred. One example of such exceptions is The Jones Act, a federal law that protects Seamen. A person working in the Maritime industry or on a vessel, may it be inland or offshore, has federal protections that The Jones Act provides. Statutes like “Contributory Negligence” and “Comparative Negligence” do not apply to Jones Act Mariners. If you believe you may be a Jones Act Mariner and a victim of Negligence, please click on this link

Do you have any questions?

Negligence Law can be overwhelmingly confusing and the outcomes and expectations vary depending on what state you’re in, as well as what industry you’re in. That being said, it is always best to consult a Board Certified Attorney about your personal injury case and negligence claim. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to leave a comment at the end of this blog post. Our team of Board Certified lawyers at VB Attorneys help people with personal injury cases on a daily basis and have a track record of success. Our attorneys know Negligence Law and have represented victims of negligence from across the country against some of the biggest companies in the country and their armies of lawyers. Although proving negligence is not always easy, our team at VB Attorneys has the experts and has recovered millions of dollars for our clients despite having battled some of the biggest bullies in the industry. If you need an entire team fighting for your rights, or if you simply have a few questions regarding Negligence, you need to call our office right now at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form by clicking on the large red “Free Case Consultation” button on the top right of this page.

Four crew members missing after car carrier Golden Ray capsizes

golden ray capsizes, roro ship capsizes, roro ship fire, roll on roll off,

Four crew members from the Marshall Islands-flagged car carrier Golden Ray remain missing after the ship capsized in the early hours of Sunday, September 8, 2019.

Twenty crew members have been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Golden Ray was departing the Port of Brunswick, Georgia, on its way to Baltimore, Maryland, with about 4,200 cars on board when it lost control, listed to one side, and capsized in St. Simons Sound. The ship notified the Coast Guard it was listing around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

A fire also broke out on board the vessel. Rescue efforts were suspended on Sunday afternoon until the vessel could be stabilized. Coast Guard Captain John Reed told reporters, “Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew remembers who remain on board.”

Golden Ray is the tenth Ro-Ro ship to catch fire in 2019

The Golden Ray is a roll on, roll off ship (Ro-Ro) built in 1973. This type of ship is notoriously prone to capsizing, catching fire, and/or sinking. The El Faro tragedy a few years ago wasn’t an aberration. It is the norm for these types of ships.

At least nine Ro-Ro ships have caught fire or capsized in 2019 alone:

Roll on, roll off (Ro-Ro) ships such as the Golden Ray are highly dangerous by design

The Golden Ray is the 10th reported Ro-Ro incident in nine months. These ships have long been considered dangerous. One factor is their age – many Ro-Ro ships are over 30 years old. The other factor is their design.

These ships are very shallow, with a low center of gravity. That causes the ships to roll dramatically and the cargo lashings to be highly stressed. This combination leads to cargo breaking loose when the ship rolls, causing the ship to list and even capsize. 

Ro-Ro ships also have completely open interior decks without bulkheads. This means when the ship takes on water, there is no way to stop it. This results in the ship losing stability faster than ships with bulkheads and capsizing. Open decks carrying cargo make fires more dangerous as well. 

Another factor that can lead to the vessel capsizing is the placement of stern and bow doors very close to the waterline. When the doors aren’t locked properly, or if the door is defective, the ship can take on water, creating a very dangerous situation.

Those are just some of the design risks of Ro-Ro ships. When it comes to fires on Ro-Ro ships, the International Union of Maritime Insurance voiced its concerns over an increase in Ro-Ro fires.  Ro-Ro ships were catching fire twice as often as other types of ships, the group reported in 2017.

The single most frequent sources of fires are reefer units, powered by electrical cable or diesel units. Another cause has been electrical equipment on board, including equipment in vehicle cabs and vehicle engines. Undeclared or mis-declared cargo is another fire hazard.

Ro-Ro ships in Jones Act fleet put Americans in danger

The bottom line is that these ships should not be sailing. Their design is convenient for companies, but deadly for crews and passengers. No matter what safety regulations are put in place by the International Maritime Organization, these ships won’t become safer. 

We have Ro-Ro ships all over the United States – from car carriers like the Golden Ray to passenger car ferries. Many of these ships are over thirty years old, many of them can’t be retro-fitted or re-hauled to be safer in any way. Crews are already highly trained to fight fires. But as we see in the case of the Golden Ray, if the fire starts after the ship lists and begins to capsize, the biggest threat is the rapidly sinking ship. 

As search and rescue operations for the four remaining Golden Ray crew members continue, we pray they are safe and rescued quickly. The best way to prevent another disaster is to remove all Ro-Ros from service. 

Our job is to protect mariners. And hold unsafe companies accountable for endangering their safety. These ships endanger thousands of people’s lives every single day around the world. Their only purpose is to save companies money. It is past time to design a new type of car carrier vessel. A safer ship. 

 From historic lawsuits such as the Maersk Alabama pirate attack to record-breaking verdicts and settlements, we don’t rest until we get our clients the results they deserve. We specialize in helping Jones Act seamen, mariners, and people working on the water. Protect your rights and get the compensation you’re owed after getting hurt working on the water.  Get help now. Call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form on our website.

Charging cell phone may have caused the deadly Conception boat fire

Conception owned by Truth Aquatics is a scuba boat that caught fire on September 2, 2019 off the coast of California.

Witnesses and the boat’s designer think lithium ion batteries in cell phones and other electronics started the Conception fire. 

Vice.com is reporting that one of the survivors told the owner of the fishing boat that came to the Conception’s rescue that he “thought the fire started in the boat’s galley.” On the Conception, people left their cell phones and cameras to charge overnight in the galley. 

The boat’s designer has a similar theory. He told the Los Angeles Times that a lithium battery charger must have caught fire. He said, “This happened in the belly of the boat. Those people did not have a chance to get out: from stem to stern, that boat was burning.”

Authorities have ruled out an explosion as the cause of the fire, according to the owner of Truth Aquatics, the dive company that operated the boat. He told “Fox and Friends” that an electrical fire could have been to blame. 

Lead federal investigator in Conception boat fire concerned over size of boat’s emergency hatch

The lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, Jennifer Homendy, told the Los Angeles Times that she was “taken aback” by the size of the emergency hatch of a vessel similar to the Conception.

Homendy and her team toured one of the remaining two vessels owned by Truth Aquatics, the Vision. The Conception was built by the same designer with many of the same features and functions as the Vision. This video from KTLA shows Homendy touring the Vision and examining the emergency hatch.

The Conception sank after catching fire before dawn on Monday, September 2, 2019. The scuba diving boat had 39 people aboard at the time of the fire. Five people survived. 33 bodies have been recovered. It is believed the last victim was also killed in the fire. 

What the Conception fire cell phone theory and concern over the size of the emergency hatch mean for loved ones and survivors 

The Conception sank after catching fire before dawn on Monday, September 2, 2019. The scuba diving boat had 39 people aboard at the time of the fire. Five people survived. 33 bodies have been recovered. It is believed the last victim was also killed in the fire. 

The theory that the fire was caused by a lithium ion cell phone battery, as well as the NTSB’s concern over the size of the emergency hatch, bolsters your chance of having a third party claim. Truth Aquatics has already filed a limitation of liability claim, which limits all claims against the company to the value of the Conception. That is not good for the 39 injury and wrongful death claims. 

A third party claim against the manufacturer or designer of the emergency hatch and the manufacturer of the potentially-defective device would enable you to hold them accountable. It would also get around the limitation of liability claim in that you are no longer one of 39+ claims fighting for a slice of the limited amount of compensation from the company.

The NTSB is going to release its initial findings within the next week. That report will most likely include their determination as to the cause of the fire. An independent investigation will be the fastest way for families of survivors and victims to determine if there is a valid third party claim to pursue. 

Our firm has successfully defeated limitation of liability claims and achieved record-breaking verdicts and settlements in third party claims on behalf of the loved ones who were killed because of a company’s negligence. To consult us about your case, call us at 877-724-7800 or fill out a contact form on our website.

Marketing Coordinator sues driver who caused catastrophic wreck

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On October 27, 2017, our client was driving northbound on the I-45 service road shortly after five pm. in North Houston. He had a green light so he proceeded through the intersection of I-45 and Beltway 8. He was hit by a driver who ran a red light. The force of the impact sent his car across the intersection. The catastrophic wreck happened less than two weeks before our client’s daughter celebrated her first birthday.

First responders were called to the scene of the wreck. An ambulance transported our client to Houston Northwest hospital’s emergency room. He suffered multiple serious injuries because of this wreck. Nearly two years after the wreck, his injuries still impact every part of his life, including his job as a father and his job as the Marketing Coordinator for a local Houston business.

VB Attorneys files lawsuit on behalf of Marketing Coordinator injured in catastrophic car crash

Our client turned to us for help holding the responsible driver accountable for the safety failures that caused this catastrophic wreck. Brian Beckcom has filed a lawsuit on our client’s behalf in Harris County District Court. The lawsuit alleges that the driver was negligent in failing to stop at a traffic signal. Other allegations include:

  • Failing to maintain a proper lookout;
  • Failing to make proper application of the brakes of their car;
  • Failing to make timely application of the brakes of their car;
  • Failing to bring their vehicle to a stop before it collided with our client’s car;
  • Failing to turn the vehicle to avoid a collision;
  • Failing to maintain proper control of their vehicle and being inattentive;
  • Failing to operate their car at a prudent rate of speed ; and
  • Operating their vehicle in a reckless manner.

The lawsuit alleges that our client’s injuries caused by this wreck are very painful and disabling. Our client is facing a lifetime of physical impairment, limitation of activities, disfigurement, and medical procedures. Our client wants the driver who hit him to take responsibility for their negligence and compensate him for his injuries.

Injured car crash victims should consult with an attorney about their case before it’s too late

In Texas, car crash victims have two years to file a lawsuit against the person or company responsible for their injuries. It’s important to consult an attorney as soon as possible within that time frame. While we recommend that you take action as quickly as possible, it can be hard to do if you don’t know the extent of your injuries or how much your claim is worth. In those cases, we work with our clients and their medical providers to make sure that as soon as we know the extent of your injuries, we can take immediate action.

The at-fault party’s insurance company gets to work right away after a wreck. They have invested millions in training their adjusters and lawyers to get away with not taking responsibility for injuring you. Their job is to make your claim go away.

We provide better representation than the biggest companies in the world enjoy. That means we know the insurance company’s tricks and traps and how to protect you. We know how to get you the compensation you’re owed and have the track record to prove it. 

When you need an entire team dedicated to your success, call us. Our Board Certified attorneys will answer your questions and get to work to get you the compensation you’re owed for your catastrophic wreck. Call 877-724-7800 or fill out a free, confidential contact form

Can I apply for disability if I’m pursuing a Jones Act case?

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Protect Your Financial Future

A question we get quite often is “Can I file for long-term or short-term disability if I’m pursuing a Jones Act Maritime Injury Case?” and the answer is, Yes! As an injured seaman, you can apply for short-term or long-term disability after a maritime injury regardless of any maintenance and cure you’re receiving or any advances from your company. (Please consult with a Board Certified Attorney before cashing any company checks after a maritime injury.)

Your financial independence may depend on it. Think of a disability policy as a financial safety net that will be there for you and your family if and when the company checks stop coming. Many times your company will try to convince you not to apply for disability to ensure that you remain dependent on their checks. Companies do this to control the outcome of your case and shift leverage in their favor. They are not looking out for your best interest.

We always encourage our Jones Act clients to apply for short-term disability and eventually long-term disability when necessary. We want to empower our clients to take control of their financial future and of course the income they’ll receive while they recover from their injuries. Why should you have to depend on company checks from the very company whose negligence caused your injuries in the first place? We believe you shouldn’t have to depend on company checks.

The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Disability

It is pertinent to note that when you apply for disability insurance you are doing so with an entirely different entity that is completely separate from your employer. This works in your favor because it ensures that you will not become dependent on company cash to pay your bills. Our team at VB Attorneys can help you explore alternative financial solutions.

Employers sometimes offer private disability insurance coverage as an optional opt-in. Often times this kind of disability insurance is known as a “group policy”. You may have also purchased your own disability insurance through an “individual policy”. Group and Individual policies are private disability plans and the available benefits are subject to the policy and type of coverage you purchased. It is important to know the difference and consulting with a good attorney who knows how insurance companies operate is always recommended after a maritime injury.

Short-Term Disability Insurance

  1. If approved, you must wait a specified amount of time after your injury has passed to begin collecting benefits.
  2. Short-term disability coverage is only offered for a specified amount of time.
  3. It will only cover a fixed portion of the income you’ve lost due to your injury.

You’ve been hurt in a maritime accident. The extent of your injury has left you unable to work in the industry and you’re worried about how you and your family will move forward without the income you used to receive every month. What do you do now? Long-term disability policies could provide an answer. What if I told you that applying for long-term disability could get you paid 60% of your salary until you’re ready for retirement?

Long-Term Disability Insurance

  1. Once long-term disability insurance is approved, it provides 60% of the monthly salary you had before your injuries.
  2. You are eligible to receive these benefits until you are able to return to work.
  3. OR It may continue for however long it takes for you to reach the age of retirement.

A word of caution: How does one define “disabled”? All long-term disability policies will provide coverage for the first 2 years after your offshore injury. You are considered “disabled” if you can not return to your position at work. You then qualify to receive benefits for 2 years. Here’s where you need to be cautious, because not all long-term disability policies provide you the same benefits. Some long-term disability policies change how they define “disabled” after 2 years. These long-term disability policies only protect you if you can not return to work at all (and depending on the intensity of the injuries pretty much anyone can return to an “occupation” even if that means working at a McDonalds.) Which means if you choose the wrong policy, you could be out of luck after 2 years.

Nevertheless, if you choose the right long-term disability policy you can expect to receive benefits until retirement if you are unable to work and earn close to or the same wages as before your maritime accident.  I strongly suggest that anyone looking into disability insurance consults with a Board Certified Attorney.

Returning to work

Oftentimes your company will pressure you into returning to work before you’ve reached MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement. It may seem they are eager to have to back to work because they “need you” or so you can “get back on the horse” and “move on” with your injuries. They may tell you that you’ll be able to “take it easy” on your first weeks back and that they won’t dock your pay, they may encourage you and entice you with money or empty promises that they’ll take care of you if you just come back to work for them. But the truth is that returning to work before you’re ready is a common mistake many injured seafarers make. 

Returning to work before you’re ready is likely the worst thing you can do for your health and for your Jones Act Case. Not only will returning to work cut you off from your disability payments, but it will also devalue your claim. You see, by returning to work big insurance companies will say you were “never that hurt” to begin with and that “your injuries were never serious”. In these circumstances, companies do their best to apply financial pressure. To make matters worse, they’ll use your time at work as proof that you can still earn what you used to earn before your offshore injury. 

Returning to work before you’re ready makes your case much harder to win, discontinues your disability benefits, and puts your financial future at great risk. Do not jeopardize your financial security.

Filing for disability

It won’t cost you a penny and you lose nothing if you’re denied.

After an on the job injury filing for disability can be easier than you may think. There are only 3 forms that need to be completed, one for your doctor, one for your company, and one for yourself to fill out. In order to file for disability, you’ll need to prove that you:

  1. Are seeking care from a qualified physician.
  2. Have suffered from a debilitating injury.
  3. Are unable to return to your job due to your injuries.
  4. Are willing to present any and all medical documents that support your claims.
    1. Physician statements and doctor’s notes.
    2. Treatment records.
    3. Test Results, X-Ray, MRI, and CT Scans.

Our team of Board Certified Lawyers at VB Attorneys can help you with your disability application process and your Maritime Injury. We provide this service to all our Jones Act clients because we believe in empowering people and helping our clients take control of their financial future. We step in and fight for you when negligent companies cause injuries. Call right now to speak with a Board Certified Attorney at 877-724-7800, or for more information visit the following link https://vbattorneys.com/practice_areas/jones-act-claims-maritime-injuries/