Friday, March 25, 2011

Man Mauled By Bear After Smoking Marijuana, Covered By Workers' Compensation

I call this good lawyering.....

The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a Workers' Compensation Court ruling that about $65,000 in medical bills incurred by a man who was mauled while feeding the bears at a tourist attraction should be covered by workers' compensation, despite the fact the man had smoked marijuana on the day of the attack.

Brock Hopkins filed a claim with the Uninsured Employers' Fund in December 2007, saying he suffered injuries to his legs and buttocks when he was mauled by a bear at Great Bear Adventures near Glacier National Park on Nov. 2, 2007. Hopkins was treated for his injuries at a Kalispell hospital.

The UEF denied Hopkins' claim because Hopkins had smoked marijuana before entering a bear enclosure. The fund also argued that Hopkins was acting outside the scope of his duties.

The Workers' Compensation Court ruled last June that Hopkins was an employee and noted that while his "use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most," there was no evidence presented regarding Hopkins' level of impairment.

The WCC found that grizzlies are "equal opportunity maulers" without regard to marijuana consumption.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New "Workers' Comp" sitcom....seriously...

From Hollywood Reporter:

Morgan Fairchild has been tapped to star in the comedy pilot presentationWorkers Comp.

Charley Koontz, Robert Carradine, Castille Landon and Jennifer Lee Wiggins also star in the independently produced project, which centers on a family insurance business owned by Joan (Fairchild) and the workers comp claims -- often extremely bizarre -- that they are forced to manage.

Just one more way for the insurance industry to paint our clients as fakers, frauds and crazies.

Gas Industry Truck Crashes

Many of our clients, either workers' comp clients or personal injury clients, come to us due to work related car or truck crashes. As you can tell by merely reading the Towanda Daily Review or the Sayre Morning Times, the amount of crashes in Bradford County has increased significantly. This is all related to the boom in the Marcellus Shale gas drilling. It seems like every other day there is news of another fatality due to a gas drilling truck accident. Below is an article from a Missouri lawyer about the specifics of truck crashes and their differences with car crashes.

Over the last few weeks there have been quite a few tractor trailer truck accidents and bus accidents. Inclement weather like we've been experiencing has been responsible for many of these truck accidents, but accidents occur even in the best of conditions. If you or a family member is hurt in an accident, it is important you understand the difference between truck and bus accidents and passenger vehicle accidents. The difference is important.

The first difference is plain to see, due to the size of vehicles such as trucks, busses, and other forms of commercial transportation accidents are far more likely to lead to serious injuries or even fatalities than accidents with passenger cars and trucks.

The next difference is not that obvious. There are a lot of people out there who assume that truck accident laws are the same as car accident laws. That is not the case.

There are many more laws and regulations controlling the operation of commercial motor vehicles than those that regulate driving the family station wagon. If you think about it the extra laws make sense. These vehicles are big, they sometimes carry dangerous cargo, they are on the road for considerably more time, and they often have more equipment which provides greater opportunity for failure. The laws providing oversight for the commercial vehicle industry and specifically for tractor trailers require trucks to be routinely maintained and inspected in order to prevent catastrophic failure. They require the vehicle to be driven in a safe manner (there are more types of traffic tickets that can be issued to commercial vehicles and regular tickets are harder to fight when you have a CDL). Also, there are many rules and regulations meant to supervise driver conduct. Drivers can only drive for so many hours and must rest for specific periods of time before they can drive again. In my opinion, the violation of any of these rules and regulations instantly makes the driver and the trucking company liable for the injuries that result.

A final difference is who could be held responsible for the accident. In an accident between two passenger vehicles the fault generally lies with one of the drivers. Commercial vehicle drivers are usually driving for work. This means that if they act inappropriately, were acting within the terms of their employment, or shouldn't have been allowed to drive the company might be responsible for the driver's accident. Not to complicate the issue; there are also scenarios where what the driver is hauling or what vehicle they are driving can bring more responsible defendants into the case. An accident with a vehicle such as a commercial truck could put any number of parties at fault, including: the truck driver, truck leasing company, the truck's maintenance company , the manufacturer of the truck, the loading company, or even the municipality or county government who maintain the road where the accident happened.

If you're involved in a truck accident or bus accident, you should start by following the steps you normally would take after being involved in an accident. However, truck accident will require extra work by the victim or the victim's attorney because there are more records and evidence to track down, and this information must be gathered immediately. These include the name of the trucking company and all the DOT numbers on the truck and the trailer. In some instances you must also recover the "black box" information from the computer that records certain information about the truck's speed, braking, and other accident related information.

Truck accidents will most likely involve a corporate legal team working against you. Truck and bus companies are, after all, usually big corporations. They have legal departments whose sole responsibility is handling cases like your accident. There will be experts and investigators lined up and ready to respond to an accident at any time. Often times the trucking company will have a lawyer and a legal team respond to the accident along with the police and ambulance. Those companies will have a team of lawyers representing them; you need an experienced truck accident lawyer representing you.

James Brown is a Missouri injury lawyer in St. Louis. If you are hurt in a car accident you need to know the common mistakes car accident victims make when talking to insurance adjusters that ruin their accident claims. Request a free copy of his Missouri accident guide, "I Survived! The Crash Victims Guide to Surviving the Aftermath" at his website