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What Is the Difference Between Actual and Proximate Cause?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 17, 2021

If you’re injured in an accident that was caused by someone else in Omaha, Nebraska, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your medical bills, property repairs, and other losses. As the filing party, or plaintiff, however, it is your responsibility to prove the elements of your case as more likely to be true than not true. One of these elements is causation.

Elements of Proof in a Personal Injury Case in Nebraska

A civil case aims to hold one or more parties legally and financially responsible, or liable, for an accident, injury, illness, or wrongful death. In the civil justice system, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that what he or she is claiming is more likely to be true than not true. This is the burden of proof known as a preponderance of the evidence. Almost all personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is when someone does not use enough care, causing injury or harm to another person.

Negligence consists of four elements:

  1. Duty of care: A legal obligation to exercise reasonable care.
  2. Breach of duty: Any action or omission that violates the accepted requirement of care.
  3. Causation: A provable link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the accident.
  4. Damages: Losses suffered by the victim because of the defendant’s careless or reckless acts.

Causation is one of the key elements of a personal injury case. As a plaintiff in Nebraska, it is important to understand causation. It is the main reason why the accident or injury in question took place. Determining causation often uses the “but for” test – the plaintiff must prove that his or her injuries would not exist but for the defendant’s negligence.

Actual vs. Proximate Cause

The actual cause is also known as “cause in fact.” The actual cause is relatively straightforward. It is what actually caused the victim’s injuries or losses. For example, in a case where a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the motor vehicle driver’s actions are the actual cause of the accident. The actual cause, however, may not be the legal cause. The person behind the actual cause might not be the liable party in a personal injury case.

Proximate cause is the legal cause of an injury. It determines liability. Proximate cause may not be the final event before an injury took place, and it may not be the first event that set off a chain reaction. Instead, it is the cause that produced a foreseeable reaction, and the one but for which the injury or harm in question would not have happened. In many cases, it is required to prove that the defendant’s negligence was both the actual and proximate cause of the injury. In other states, proof of substantial cause is enough.

In the pedestrian accident example mentioned above, the actual cause of the injury might have been the motor vehicle driver’s actions, but if a defective tire blew out and this propelled the vehicle into the pedestrian, the tire blowout would be the proximate cause of the injury. This would make the manufacturer of the defective tire liable for the accident rather than the driver that struck the pedestrian.

How to Prove Causation in a Personal Injury Case

To hold one or more parties liable for your accident or injury in Nebraska, you or your Omaha personal injury lawyer must provide proof of proximate cause in connection to the defendant(s). You will need to present evidence to demonstrate that the defendant’s action or failure to act was the legal cause of your accident or injury; in other words, that your injury would not have happened but for the defendant’s negligence. The evidence available to prove causation may include accident reports, medical records, photographs, and witness testimony. An attorney can help you meet the burden of proof by collecting evidence of proximate cause.

What Are the Different Ways to Collect on a Personal Injury Judgment?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 17, 2021

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a personal injury case. Most personal injury claims settle, meaning that they are resolved with agreements between the injured party and the insurance company. Some, however, require trials that may end in judgment awards. Either way, you may need assistance from an Omaha personal injury attorney to collect the money that you are owed.

Wait for a Settlement Check

The majority of personal injury cases are resolved with settlements. Settlements save both parties time, money, and stress. They also keep the particulars of the case confidential and out of the public eye. An insurance company is generally more willing to offer a fair and reasonable settlement if the claimant has hired an attorney. The insurance company will know that an attorney means the ability to go to trial, and will most likely offer a better settlement to avoid a court case.

If your personal injury case settles, you must wait for a settlement check to arrive in the mail to collect your compensation. You will need to sign a liability release statement first, which releases the defendant from any further liability for your accident or injury in exchange for the settlement value agreed upon. The courts generally require both parties to complete settlement paperwork within 30 to 60 days. Once you sign the paperwork, your case will be resolved and – in most cases – unable to be reopened.

The insurance company’s accountant will cut your settlement check and mail it to you. Expect the settlement check to take one to two weeks to arrive. If two weeks have passed and you still do not have your check, contact the insurance company to ask about your payment. If you suspect that the insurance company is intentionally delaying your payout, consult with a lawyer about a potential insurance bad-faith lawsuit in addition to your original injury claim settlement.

Receive a Judgment Award Check 

If you win your personal injury case at trial, you will receive a check in the mail for the judgment award issued against the defendant(s) within a few weeks, in most cases. If there is no insurance coverage available to pay the judgment award, the courts may make the defendant pay using another method, such as wage garnishment over a period of time. This could take longer to receive your full judgment award.

Keep in mind that once you receive the check from a judgment award, you will need to pay off your financial obligations before keeping any remaining amount for yourself. These obligations may include paying taxes, attorney’s fees, and outstanding medical bills. In many cases, the amount that a plaintiff can keep is the portion of the award granted for pain and suffering.

Go Through the Appeals Process

There is a chance that you will have to wait for the appeals process to be completed if you receive a personal injury judgment at trial in Nebraska. An appeal is an additional lawsuit filed to argue against the outcome of a case. A defendant cannot file an appeal just because he or she does not agree with the decision made; the appeal must be made for a valid reason, such as an error of fact or jury misconduct. 

With an appeal, you would have to wait to receive a check for your judgment award. If the appeal succeeds, the courts may reverse the judgment, meaning that you may no longer be entitled to financial compensation. In this case, you could appeal again to the next highest court. Depending on the case and the number of appeals filed, the appellate process could take a year or longer to finish, delaying or even rescinding your collection of a judgment award. For more information about how to collect on a personal injury judgment, contact an attorney from Omaha today.

Long-Term Costs of Brain Injuries

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2021

An injury to the brain can cause serious and lasting damage to a victim. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in an auto accident, fall, act of violence, or other circumstances, you may be facing a lifetime of related complications. Understanding the common long-term costs of brain injuries could allow your family to seek the financial compensation that you deserve through the civil justice system. For more information about recovering financially from the long-term effects of a brain injury, contact an Omaha brain injury attorney.

Permanent Disability

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can affect a victim both physically and psychologically. The brain is responsible for how the mind and body operate. Damage to any part of the brain could result in permanent impairment or symptoms that interfere with the survivor’s life, such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Chronic pain or headaches
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Trouble communicating
  • Lack of focus or concentration
  • Motor dysfunction
  • Vision or hearing impairment
  • Mood or personality changes

A brain injury survivor may or may not make a full physical recovery. Many TBI patients have permanent disabilities that require long-term or live-in care. Lasting symptoms can require expensive ongoing medical care in addition to affecting a survivor mentally and emotionally.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Two of the most common types of long-term medical care required for a traumatic brain injury are physical therapy and rehabilitation. Physical therapy aims to improve the body’s physical function, while rehabilitation addresses the victim’s mental and cognitive states. These are also two of the most expensive medical costs associated with a TBI. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average lifetime economic cost of a TBI is $95.8 billion in 2021 dollars. This estimate includes direct and indirect medical costs, costs associated with emergency medical care, long-term rehabilitation, lost work time and productivity, lost earnings, and costs associated with social services.

Lost Capacity to Earn

Many brain injury victims cannot return to work after their incidents. They may need a period of recovery, such as a few weeks or months of medical care and rehabilitation, to go back to their jobs. Others can never return to the jobs they held before their injuries. Permanent brain injuries can interfere with the ability to perform the essential functions of a job. The victim may return to work in a different capacity, such as part-time or for a different job that pays less, or the victim may be permanently unemployed. The long-term lost capacity to earn a living can cost a victim millions of dollars in lifetime lost wages and employment benefits.

Loss of Personal Enjoyment

The long-term costs of a brain injury are not only physical and financial; brain injuries also impact how a victim thinks and feels. A lasting or permanent brain injury can cause a victim significant physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological harm, and inconvenience. It can also result in diagnosable mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, that decrease a victim’s quality of life. In Nebraska, it is possible to seek financial compensation for the noneconomic costs of a traumatic brain injury as well as the economic.

Can You Recover Financially for Your Losses?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a brain injury after a preventable accident in Omaha, Nebraska, contact an Omaha personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options. You may be eligible for financial compensation for your short- and long-term associated costs from a defendant, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The value of your case will depend on the severity of your brain injury and how much it will impact your life. Discuss your case with an attorney before settling with an insurance company to make sure you are recovering fair and full financial compensation.

Damages to Look for After a Rear-End Car Accident

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2021

As a driver involved in a rear-end car accident, you might immediately notice cosmetic or more significant vehicle damage from the impact, as well as signs of a physical injury. It is important, however, to keep an eye out for delayed or hidden damages after a rear-end car accident, as well. These collisions can cause more damage than you might initially realize.

Hidden Vehicle Damage

Hidden vehicle damage is a significant concern after a rear-end car accident. Hidden damage is especially common after a minor collision, such as a low-speed fender bender, as an auto mechanic may not fully assess the vehicle for hidden damage – or the owner of the car might not take it to an auto shop at all. Common examples of hidden vehicle damage that may exist after a rear-end car accident are:

  • Frame damage: Damage to the frame of your car may not be immediately noticeable, as it may be concealed beneath a plastic bumper. If the collision bent or damaged the frame, however, it can throw off the alignment as well as put more stress on other aspects of the vehicle. A vehicle with a damaged frame may also not hold up properly in a subsequent car accident.
  • Suspension problems: The suspension is what provides a smooth drive and easier handling of the vehicle. If a rear-end collision affects the frame of a vehicle, it could cause wear and tear on the shocks, struts, and other parts of the suspension system. This can make the vehicle less comfortable and more difficult to control.
  • Engine damage: (drivetrain, transmission, etc.). A rear-end car accident can affect the mechanical aspects of an engine in a way that may not be immediately apparent but will eventually be noticeable when serious problems arise. Even a minor car accident could lead to leaked fluids and latent engine damage
  • Electrical damage: Electrical issues can be caused by a rear-end collision if the crash jars or loosens the wires that connect the car’s brake lights, taillights, or battery. These problems may not be immediately apparent if the wires slowly get looser over time.

The possibility of hidden vehicle damage is why it is important to have your vehicle carefully inspected by a licensed professional after a rear-end collision. Even if it looks fine from the outside, it may have internal problems that ultimately compromise its safety, comfort, and durability. If hidden damage is discovered, including the price of repairs, vehicle replacement, and/or the lost resale value of your vehicle on your insurance claim.

Delayed Injuries

It is important to consider delayed or hidden injuries after a rear-end car accident, as well. You may be eligible for financial compensation for these damages if the other driver caused the collision. Common delayed injuries after a rear-end collision include:

  • Whiplash
  • Other neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Back injuries
  • Herniated disks
  • Soft-tissue injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal injuries

Stay calm and check yourself for any pain, swelling, or immobility immediately after a rear-end car accident. Even if you feel fine, go to a hospital in Omaha for a checkup. A doctor may be able to diagnose a hidden injury before you experience symptoms.

Other Types of Rear-End Car Accident Damages

In Nebraska, an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit could repay you for the costs associated with your property damage, physical injuries, and more. Look for all of the following damages after a rear-end collision to make sure that you seek fair financial compensation:

  • Lost income and capacity to earn 
  • Lost employment benefits
  • Disability-related costs
  • Lost enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Travel and out-of-pocket costs

For assistance seeking the insurance settlement or judgment award that you deserve after a rear-end car accident in Omaha, consult with an Omaha car accident attorney. An attorney can help you seek financial compensation for the full extent of your losses, including hidden damages.

Who Is at Fault for an Accident Caused by Weather?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2020

Car accidents happen in Omaha for many different reasons. Most reasons will allow a victim to seek financial compensation for injuries and property damages, such as crashes caused by negligent or reckless drivers. You might assume that an accident caused by bad weather, such as rain or fog, is no one’s fault – and that you therefore will not have grounds for a claim. This might not be the case, however, depending on the circumstances.

 

Multivehicle Accidents and Fault

After a car accident involving another driver in bad weather in Nebraska, remain calm and call the police for an investigation. It is important to have a professional investigate while evidence is still available, such as tire tracks in the mud or a police report showing the other driver’s headlights were not working. While the weather might have contributed to the collision, the other driver could be at fault for failing to drive safely or prudently based on the conditions. If the other driver was speeding or driving without working windshield wipers, for example, he or she could be at fault for your accident.

 

Every driver has a duty to drive safely according to existing weather conditions. Driving in rain, sleet, snow, ice or fog requires extra care behind the wheel. A reasonable and prudent driver might reduce his or her speed below the posted speed limit if it is raining, for example, or increase the following distance behind other cars. If a driver negligently fails to drive carefully according to conditions, that driver may be liable for a resultant car accident – even if bad weather also contributed to the crash. An investigation could help you prove the other driver’s fault.

 

Poor Decisions Made By a Company or Driver

If you were on a tour bus, private bus or in an accident with someone who was driving for work, you might have grounds for a claim against the company. It is a company’s responsibility to take the weather into account when deciding whether or not it is safe to proceed with a trip, tour or job. If the company does decide to proceed, its driver must use an appropriate level of care and caution to maneuver through bad weather with reasonable safety. If the company or one of its drivers fails in these responsibilities, the company could be liable for your damages.

 

Bad Weather and Dangerous Premises

Sometimes, car accidents that seem connected to the weather are actually related to issues with the premises. If a storm knocked down a tree, for example, and this caused your car accident, it might be possible to bring a claim against the owner of the property where the tree stood. If a prudent landowner would have noticed issues with the tree that could make it more susceptible to falling in a storm and removed the tree sooner, the property owner could be liable for your car accident. A dangerous premises could point to property owner or government liability for your crash on a private or public road, with or without bad weather contributing to the event.

 

Dangerously Designed Roads

The government could also be responsible for a crash that stems from a dangerously designed road. If a vehicle struck you in an intersection in the rain, for example, but the driver says he or she did not see you due to an obstructed stop sign, the City of Omaha could be liable for failing to keep the sign clear. It is important to wait for an investigation to determine fault before filing a claim or assuming you cannot file.

While a car accident purely caused by weather or an act of God might not allow you to bring a claim against another party, many crashes in bad weather involve other elements that could make you eligible for compensation, such as driver error or a dangerous property. An Omaha car accident lawyer can help you search for fault after a car accident, even if bad weather was a contributing factor.