Personal Injury Costs $671 Billion Dollars In The United States

Personal Injury Costs

Personal Injury Costs In the U.S.

According to two new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) reports, for 2013 $671 billion were the total costs of personal injuries and violence in the United States. Fatal injury costs was $214 billion and nonfatal injury costs were over $457 billion

The numbers for the United States are staggering, injuries, including all causes of unintentional and violence-related injuries combined, accounted for 59% of all deaths among persons ages 1–44 years of age. To put that into perspective that is more deaths than non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases combined. About 27 million people are treated in emergency departments and released, over 3 million people are hospitalized and more than 192,000 die as a result of unintentional and violence related injuries each year.

Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is reported as stating “The magnitude of costs associated with injury underscores the need for effective prevention. It is crucial that communities and states increase efforts to implement evidence-based programs and policies to prevent injuries and violence to reduce not only the pain and suffering of victims, but also the considerable costs to society.”

The two studies include lifetime medical and work loss costs for injury related deaths and injuries treated and released in hospitals and emergency departments, and provide costs by age, gender, and injury intent. Other key findings include:

Men accounted for 78 percent of fatal injury costs ($166.7 billion) and 63 percent of nonfatal injury costs ( $287.5 billion).

More than 50 percent of the total medical costs and work loss costs related to personal injury were attributable unintentional injuries, which I interpret mean negligent acts or omissions ($129.7 billion). The other causes of death included suicide ($50.8 billion) and homicide ($26.4 billion).

Poisonings from drugs, including prescription drug overdoses, accounted for 27 percent of fatal injury costs, transportation caused / related deaths account accounted for 23 percent of the costs and deaths related to firearm use accounted for 22 percent of costs.

Costs, for personal injuries that required hospitalization in 2013, were $289.7 billion. The costs for injuries that were treated and released in hospital and emergency departments were $167.1 billion.

Slip and Fall / Trip and Fall

Slip and Fall / Trip Fall Can Cause Fatal Injuries

Slip and Falls and Trip and Falls account for 37 percent of costs associated with emergency room care. Transportation-related personal injuries, automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, public transportation accidents accounted for 21 percent of the costs associated with emergency department treatment for nonfatal injuries.

The chart below shows that personal injury is the #1 killer of children in the United States.

Personal Injury - Children

Personal Injury – Children

As you can see the economic toll associated with personal injuries is staggering. In addition to costs associated with accidents, the human toll is even greater, considering the pain and suffering the victims and their family goes through. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is important that we all act in way that helps reduce and prevent injuries whether the result of negligence, violence or unfortunate incidences.

As an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, I know how accidents can cause severe personal injuries, for more than three decades, The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has been her to help. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or the loss of a loved one, for a complimentary assessment, kindly do not hesitate to provide me a call. 626-796-6333 or call me through my site http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

 

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS, PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS – WHY IT TAKES TIME TO SETTLE THESE CLAIMS

Personal injury claims consist of many different types of claims. Those claims included automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents.

Ford_E-Series_Ambulance

Personal Injury Involving Ambulance Service

Generally, medical malpractice, elder abuse, defective drugs, train crashes and airplane crashes are handled differently then general personal injury claims. Personal injury claims such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims I have found common factors in the claims handling process.

Often clients feel it “takes too long” to get their cases settled and sometimes feel that the “offers are too low.” First you should know that no two claims are the same. Claims like people are individual and unique.

Why it often takes a long time to settle many personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims, is because the claims settlement process requires considerable documentation. An insurance company rarely if ever accepts an attorney’s representations without supporting documentation. Often the smaller the claim, the more difficult it is to settle, particularly when it comes to the “pain and suffering” aspects of the claim. As well, contested liability claims are very difficult to settle the insurance carrier takes the position “our insured did nothing wrong.”

When it comes to claims handling it is constantly entertaining to see how different companies choose individuals to manage its finances: in banks, the lowest paid staff members are usually tellers and count the cash; in a storehouse, the shipping clerk sends out and receives everything owned by the company; and in most accounting departments, a clerk prepares and issue checks giving only the most brief review of the invoice before mailing. Well, the truth is that insurance companies handle personal injury claims including automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims about the same way.

My experience has shown that the individual originally assigned to your case will not likely be the adjuster, who will ultimately be responsible for settling your claim. Often they assign a claim to an adjuster or clerk with little experience. In that last few years I have noticed a change with some personal injury insurance carriers and they assign your claim to a “team.” Unfortunately often the “team” has little experience. In any event, the first step in opening a personal injury claim requires the setting of an initial reserve. This requires assigning a value based upon the apparent seriousness of the loss, such as broken bones versus soft tissue only. Unless injuries are serious and self evident, initial claim evaluations made by the insurance company will be unrealistically low, which can lead to a problem settling your case down the road. We try to give the insurance company as much information known to us at the time of the incident but often the extent of personal injuries and other losses are unknown.

The days when these types of personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims. ln would be initially reviewed by a claims supervisor no longer exists. Years ago it would be usual for a claims supervisor to review a claim and designate an adjuster with the experience and ability to handle the claim to its conclusion efficiently.

TheBus_New_Flyer_D60LF_(080)_on_Kalakaua_Avenue_(Accident)_2011-05-14

Auttomobile Accidents Between Bues and Cars Are Common and Often Cause Personal Injuries to Drivers and Passengers*

Today with computer programs such Colossus and team approaches I have found that are still “levels of claims” adjuster. An assignment of claim should be based upon the complexity of the claim and seriousness of the injuries, however, often they base claim assignment exclusively on the expected value of the claim, i.e., the reserve the insurance company has set on the claim. By way of example, perceived small claims involving $5,000 or less may all be assigned to a very inexperienced claims handler, and we will call him Bill. But claims that say fall into the $5, 000 to $20,000 range may be assigned to a more experience claims adjuster. claims would be designated to James and more senior claims handler Susan would take the $20,000 to $75,000 claims and a supervisor would take all the claims anticipated to exceed $75,000 in settlement value. These “assignments” are done at the time the claim is initially submitted.

So what happens when your more than $20,000 claim gets assigned to “wrong level?”The fact that they have assigned your claim to an adjuster without sufficient authority does not mean that the adjustor is incompetent or that her supervisor does not respect her/his opinions. Therefore, attorneys need to work with the adjuster to enable them to evaluate your claim properly. Frequently cases / claims get reassigned to a different adjuster. The “new” adjuster now has to get up to speed on your claim.

Keep in mind that many adjusters have caseloads of more than a 125 files often higher, much higher. In order to settle a case, the adjuster needs “documentation.” This includes medical documentation for injuries, documentation for medical expenses, documentation for loss of income. Depending upon whom you have seen for medical care obtaining medical reports and medical records can be very difficult to get because the doctor’s office does not cooperate. I have had cases in which we wait months and months to get such documentation. The same is true for loss of income or for self-employed individuals who cannot provide documentation regarding loss of income. The insurance companies will not accept and pay claims that are not properly documented. All of this takes time. Sometimes clients are unhappy with the delays.

My experience has shown in personal injury cases, involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents, it is common for insurance adjusters to begin negotiations by making a very low first offer. Sometimes, the adjuster will deny all liability for the claim. These negotiation tactics often work because some personal injury attorneys out there accept the first or second lowball offer. Because we must tell clients of all offers, an impatient attorney or client to get, some money will take any amount, I think this is a mistake.

I have had personal injury claims in my office for more than a year but over weeks and months the offers increase often dramatically. I recently settled a personal injury automobile accident claim for $27,500.00, and the original offer on the case was $7,000.00. This case took almost 18 months to settle and the client was very anxious to have his case settled. This case has been through three different adjusters. At one point the client was willing to accept a far lower offer to “get it over.” I told him that it was not a good idea and please follow my advice. He did and we settled his case fairly.

However, as a claimant you need to keep in mind that as a lawyer we need to work with the adjusters to settle a claim.  Some of your reading this may believe that “if only my case got in front of jury” they would award me a lot of money. YOU ARE WRONG. On some cases, particularly smaller “fender bender” cases, resorting to litigation / filing a lawsuit is often losing proposition FOR YOU.

The fact is that personal injury claims such as involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents (Tort cases, as they are called) have been on the decline for decades. According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 and are still on the decline. The belief that juries or judges award large amounts is wrong. The fact is that most lawsuits result in comparatively small verdicts.

Lawsuits are very expensive. No law firm can afford to accept weak or frivolous cases. In California I have found that jurors are usually fairly smart, not easily fooled and are not very sympathetic with soft tissue personal injury claims. It takes the average lawyer and law firm between 100-500 hours of time and thousands of dollars in court costs to prepare for a trial. The entire process often takes between 2 and 5 years – even a simple fender-bender case. The expense for even a simple jury trial begins at around $15,000.00. Unless your case is in limited jurisdiction you need live expert testimony concerning medical care, treatment and charges. If you have seen several physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers, most or all need to be called at the time of trial. Expert fees even for treating physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers can run into thousands of dollars.

Current studies show that personal injury claims involving back and neck strains in California have a median verdict of $10,885 ! ! ! So a jury trial can cost more than you are likely to recover. Now some of you may be thinking that does not happen often, YES IT DOES. Here are some examples:

2012 Corbin v. Pascarella $10,400 Verdict. The defendant hits plaintiffs’ vehicle in an intersection. Plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter claimed lower back, necks, and shoulder pain because of the collision. Plaintiff (mother) settles her claim before trial. A Los Angeles County jury awards $10,400 to the daughter

2012 Messina v. Bayne $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when his vehicle is hit from behind. Initially plaintiff only took one day off and returned to his work at a supermarket. Shortly after the incident he sees a chiropractor for four visits. Plaintiff claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale. He changes chiropractors and gets additional treatment and he later takes an additional 11 days off of work. He receives physical therapy for about 8 months from February 2010 to November 2010. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company contests the need for the “second” chiropractor visits and treatments. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company denies that the plaintiff’s claim for lost wages beyond the first day were unreasonable. The jury award likely shows what the jury thought of the claim. .

2013 – Reveles v. O’Neal $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed double yellow line and collided into oncoming car. The plaintiff suffered injuries. Plaintiff had medical bills of about $70,000, but the medical expenses were not allowed to go to the jury because a medical expert was not called. The injuries appeared to be mainly soft tissue. A San Diego County jury awarded $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.

THE TAKE AWAY?

Be patient, and patience is a truly a virtue in settlement negotiations. Although you may “need” the money now, it is rarely to your advantage to “hurry through the process.” Allow your attorney to their job. Most attorney’s will give you good advice on these types of claims.

Believe me, claims adjusters are pretty good at sensing anxiety. If your attorney shows anxiousness, the adjuster will likely change her/his focus away from the settlement, and on the sense of desperation. The adjuster will likely then base further settlement discussions on that sense of anxiety, rather than the facts of the claim.

Does the adjuster have to treat you / your claim fairly? The simple answer is no. Under California law on third party claims, law does not bind the adjuster to treat you fairly. California does not recognize third party bad faith claims.

My advice is simple, stay calm. If you have trust and faith in your attorney allow him or her to do their job. If you do not have confidence in your attorney, well that is another story for another day.

In the event you have suffered or a loved one has suffered a personal injury from any type of incident (automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents) you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Richard M. Katz, Esq.,  is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. We handle personal injury claims we specialize in accident, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

I am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. My office is located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California, 91106

*The Bus New Flyer Accident, public domain, by Daniel Ramirez

 

How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case ?

Many who have suffered a personal injury ask the question, How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

As a general rule the laws in all states provides a mechanism for people to obtain monetary compensation if they have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. The negligent act can range from driving car, to unsafe premises, to professional negligence. By way of example, I am talking about car accidents, slip and fall accidents and medical malpractice. If you have been physically hurt or injured as a result of a careless or negligent act, then you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries.

Keep in mind that every personal injury case is different. A valid and compensable claim depends upon the facts in your specific situation. Although personal injury claims have common elements each type of personal injury claim (automobile accidents, trip and fall, medical negligence, etcetera) has specific laws that apply to the type of claim. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, such as me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz to discuss a potential claim you may have. Our telephone number is 626-796-6333 and our website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

Some of the common and main issues in establishing a personal injury claim include:
1. Liability, that is who is at fault?
In any personal injury claim arising from an accident or incident an individual or organization can be held legally responsible for your injuries and damages. If you can prove negligence. Sometimes negligence is referred to as the “failure to act in a reasonably prudent fashion.” Although the language may vary on the type of claim you have, essentially this is what must proven. Whether someone or an entity acted “negligently” is based upon the facts. For instances, in a car accident if speeding or following too close was the cause of the accident, probably negligent. For a trip and fall or slip and fall case a dangerous condition created by the owner of the property or failure to fix a bad staircase, probably negligent. In a medical malpractice claim a physician who fails to act as a reasonably prudent physician in the same or similar circumstances probably negligent. Ultimately the questions posed are the facts sufficient enough to prove that an individual, or organization, was in whole or in part responsible for your personal injuries. Keep in mind that in California and many other states you can pursue your claim even if you were partially at fault for the incident. The laws in many states, including California provide immunity (does not allow a claim to be brought) to certain entities or people. This is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your specific case.

2. Does it Make Economic Sense to Purse a Claim, That Is What Are the Nature and Extent of Damages?
Even if you feel that someone has acted negligently and caused you harm, the injuries, losses and damages stemming from the negligent act may be minimal. For instance you are in a car accident, hit from behind, it was a light tap, your car suffered no property damage and you were a little sore for a day or two. It is very likely that the costs involved in prosecuting a lawsuit may be more than the monetary damages you could recover.

3. Do I Still Have Time to Bring an Action, That Is What Are Statute of Limitations?
California like every state has a statute of limitations for every potential claim. Generally a lawsuit or claim must filed within the “window of time” allowed for a particular claim. The time limits are different depending on the nature of your case i.e. auto accident injury, medical malpractice, product liability claim. Is a governmental entity involved? It is critical to know the time limitations applicable to your claim because if a timely action is not brought or filed before the applicable statute of limitations has run, it is likely that your claim will be forever barred. Another good reason to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

If you have questions about your personal injury matter, you need to speak to an experienced personal injury / medical malpractice attorney who can help you evaluate your situation and provide you with your legal rights and options. Remember consultations are free so there is no charge to have your case reviewed by me. I, Richard M. Katz, Esq., am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. I look forward to talking to you. Our website is lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

UP TO 40 PERCENT OF ANNUAL DEATHS FROM EACH OF FIVE LEADING CAUSES ARE PREVENTABLE

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely from the five leading causes of death . However, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that a large percentage of those deaths 20 percent to 40 percent from each cause could be prevented. The percentage varies greatly from state to state.

In the United States the five leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries. Collectively they caused 63 percent of all U.S. deaths in 2010. Unintentional injuries include car accidents, slip and fall accidents and other personal injury accidents. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) seminal study of preventable medical errors estimated as many as 98,000 people die every year from medical negligence and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

p0501-preventable-deaths-imagep0501-preventable-deathsB -image

 

The report, in a recent issue of the CDC’s weekly journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, examined premature deaths (before age 80) from each cause for each state from 2008 to 2010. The authors then calculated the number of deaths from each cause that would have been prevented if all states had same death rate as the states with the lowest rates.

The study suggests that, if all states had the lowest death rate observed for each cause, it would be possible to prevent:

34 percent of premature deaths from heart diseases, prolonging about 92,000 lives
21 percent of premature cancer deaths, prolonging about 84,500 lives
39 percent of premature deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, prolonging about 29,000 lives
33 percent of premature stroke deaths, prolonging about 17,000 lives
39 percent of premature deaths from unintentional injuries, prolonging about 37,000 lives

 

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH was quoted in a CDC article as stating “As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury – and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation’s public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable,”. “With programs such as the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative, we are working hard to prevent many of these premature deaths.”

Not surprisingly, there are many modifiable risk factors that are largely responsible for each of the leading causes of death, the CDC cites :

Heart disease risks include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, poor diet, overweight, and lack of physical activity.

Cancer risks include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation, and certain chemicals and other substances.

Chronic respiratory disease risks include tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants, allergens, and exposure to occupational agents.

Stroke risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, overweight, previous stroke, tobacco use, alcohol use, and lack of physical activity.

Unintentional injury risks include lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, drug and alcohol use (including prescription drug misuse), exposure to occupational hazards, and unsafe home and community environments.

As you can see by making changes in personal behaviors many of the risks are avoidable. Others risk factors are attributable to disparate conditions in social, demographic, environmental, economic, and geographic attributes of the local areas in which people work and live.

The study authors note that if health disparities were eliminated, as called for in Healthy People 2020 all states would be closer to achieving the lowest possible death rates for the leading causes of death.

Harold W. Jaffe, MD, the study’s senior author and CDC’s associate director for science was quoted in the CDC article as saying “We think that this report can help states set goals for preventing premature death from the conditions that account for the majority of deaths in the United States,” He was further quoted as saying “Achieving these goals could prolong the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.”

One can learn from these findings and change their and their family’s lifestyle for a healthier life.

IF YOU TRIP AND FALL OR ARE OTHERWISE INJURED ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY, CAN YOU SUE? MORE IMPORTANTLY CAN YOU WIN ? PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS.

One can be injured on someone else property in a number of ways, including, slips and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, shelf collapsing accidents, products falling and hitting one accident, walls collapsing on someone, these and many other ways exist for folks to be hurt on someone else’s property. We often refer to these types of claims as premises liability cases.

When we, the public, enters a property, we all have a reasonable expectation of not being harmed.  These are expectations that we all have, whether we are going into a supermarket, restaurant, fast food restaurant, amusement park, casino, office building, hospitals, parking lots, sidewalks or any other structure or building.  The law requires that the possessor of the property to maintain their property and they are required to inspect and correct defective and dangerous conditions. This failure to do so is sometimes called “premises liability.”  For example, someone having their care fixed at car repair facility  might slip and fall on an oil slick within an area in which customers walk. Such a person may have a legitimate claim because the owner of the property failed to keep the premises safe.

The legal theory of premises liability holds property owners responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property when they have done something negligent. Just because one trips and falls on someone else’s property does not make them automatically responsible for what happened. One must show the owner was in someway at fault. A land owner is not an insurer of the safety of the folks on his premises.  As stated in the Court case of  (Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc. (1966) 65 Cal.2d 114, 121 [52 Cal. Rptr. 561, 416 P.2d 793] the land owner  “ is required to exercise reasonable care for their safety and is liable for injuries resulting from a breach of this duty. The general duty includes not only the duty to inspect the premises in order to uncover dangerous conditions, but, as well, the duty to take affirmative action to control the wrongful acts of third persons which threaten invitees where the occupant has reasonable cause to anticipate such acts and the probability of injury resulting therefrom.” (internal citations omitted.)

Liability is set by the laws and procedures of the state within which the injury occurred. In some states, including California there is potentially different standards set depending upon the legal status of the injured party. In Rowland v. Christian, 69 Cal. 2d 108 (1968),  a case decided by the Supreme Court of California placed a general duty of care on the possessor of land to the people on the land. However, the still recognizes a higher degree of care for business invitees.

Under California law to hold a possessor of a property responsible for personal injuries to someone on their land one needs to establish essentially three facts.

1. The owners of the property knew or should have known of the dangerous condition and that the condition created an unreasonable risk of injury. A owner of a commercial property is required to inspect for and discover “dangerous conditions.”;

2. The owner didn’t exercise due care to make discover the condition, to make the condition safe, or to warn of the dangerous condition and the risk involved; and

3. The injured party did not know or have reason to know of the dangerous condition and the risks involved.

We have handled many premises liability cases including claims against public entities, private buildings and amusement parks. The list is long. So remember, if you or a loved one has been injured because of a premises liability incident, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that your legal rights to fair compensation are fully assessed and protected. Please feel free to give me a call, we are here to help. The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz, 626-796-6333

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