Change comes in all forms. This recent wave of changes should signal stability in the bench for years to come, with worthy and talented legal professionals making the decisions on the rule of law.
Last month we updated our website to better serve our clients and to make sure those injured because of someone else’s negligence are able to find the resources and connections they need to protect themselves from overreaching insurance companies. Though the look and feel of the website is more modern and contains much of the same information, it should be more accessible and user friendly than our prior website.
The old saying goes, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” With that in mind, courts in Oregon and Washington had until recently been trending toward fast-track systems, implementation of local rules that would push civil cases to be resolved, if at all possible, within a year to fourteen months from the date of the case being filed in court. Since March of last year, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that train has definitely ground to a halt.
The basic guiding principle is, can you prove to a degree of reasonable medical certainty that any future care will be required to address your continuing symptoms? A reasonable medical certainty requires a showing that the future care is “more probably than not” reasonable in amount, necessary as a result of the incident, and related, specifically, to the incident. “More probable than not” could be simplified stated as a 51% probability.
Ultimately, any opportunity to receive real insight and input on a case is valuable. It can teach us about our case, the defense, and ourselves. No one factor is more important than another, but they all serve to advance the cause of the civil justice system, which is to provide a platform to resolve a dispute.
We often get calls from someone who has been assaulted, molested, or otherwise injured as the result of an intentional act. Acts done purposefully which cause harm to another are referred to in the law as “intentional torts”. These phone calls we get can range from someone having simply been threatened or harassed, to the caller or their family member having been actually physically hit, shoved, sexually attacked or raped, or merely slandered. In some of the more egregious physical assault cases, there may even have been a fatality.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Many people use public lands or lands open for use to the public to get outside. Inevitably, some people will be injured enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest terrain. In Washington, these injuries show an interesting intersection of public policy. Generally, Washington is a state that values public safety and holding landowners accountable for maintaining unsafe premises. As a result, an owner or occupier of land might be liable for damages if a person is injured on his or her property.
A reminder of the importance of drinking safely and responsibly if you choose to go and celebrate the end of a truly horrific year, in 2020, on New Year's Eve. New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year to drive.
Bringing a claim against the government can be tricky for a number of reasons, from learning who the correct agency might be, to getting proper service of a tort claim notice, to litigating a claim against the government and its vast resources. Another consideration is whether the claim being brought is the right type of claim.
That biting chill of winter, if not already here, will soon be upon us. In the age of COVID-19, with gyms either still closed or less appealing to those wanting to stay active, the homebound looking to simply get out for some fresh air, and deliveries of goods to homes abounding, there may well be more pedestrians traversing our community’s public sidewalks. This begs the question- if those sidewalks get hit with a coating of snow or ice, who is responsible for making them safe for those using them?
Viewing the greater context of injury-producing incidents is indisputably important. The daily motivation that drives our firm and our profession is this: Our greater collective community needs to be as safe as humanly possible for everyone in it.
A big impact Daylight Saving Time has on people (to the extent it could be life and death) is the danger it creates for drivers and, more particularly, pedestrians. This impact, too, is well-documented and clearly borne out by statistics, unfortunately.
Clark County Superior Court has recognized that with the increasing surge in COVID-19 infections in our county and across the country, it is again necessary to completely suspend jury trials, both criminal and civil, until at least January 10, 2021.
The Stark Family’s oft-repeated words (yes, I know Game of Thrones ended forever ago) will soon be ringing true - “winter is coming.” When it arrives we may have one of our occasional winter storms that dumps significant snow, or we may go the mountains to find it at ski resorts, mountain retreats, or snow parks.
Washington’s Supreme Court recently issued a decision clarifying injury law in a residential landlord-tenant relationship. Previously, there has been confusion over whether the law—specifically Washington’s statutory Residential Landlord Tenant Act (RLTA), Ch. 59.18 RCW, and the common law implied warranty of habitability—could provide a legal basis for liability when an unsafe condition injured the guest of a tenant. The Court’s answer was mixed: although the RLTA warranty did not apply to guests, the common law continues to provide a framework for injured persons to seek justice.
For me, part of what makes this career rewarding is providing access to justice and access to the courts to people who might not otherwise have it. This includes people who cannot afford an attorney, people who might be unfamiliar with the legal system, and people who do not speak English as a primary language, to name a few. However, I have some concerns that, even with access through an attorney, the systems are still not set up to serve those people.
Earlier in the COVID-19 tempest we wrote about many of the things our firm has been able to do to keep cases moving forward - using Zoom (mostly) and other videoconferencing platforms to meet with clients, take and defend depositions, mediate and arbitrate cases, and attend court hearings. We’ll now add one more to the list, having completed our first trial held entirely on Zoom.
Health insurance is critical. There may be a debate as to the wisdom of having other types of insurance. Like: How much liability insurance do you need to carry? (Well, what assets do you have to protect?) Should you buy life insurance? (Well, are there going to be loved ones deprived of needed support if you are taken out unexpectedly?) What about fire insurance, earthquake insurance, flood insurance, cyber insurance, or . . .
I just celebrated my fortieth birthday. While this is a milestone most Americans reach, forty years is a long time by whatever measure. Those who have already reached forty, will remember that 1980 was the same year that Mt. Saint Helens erupted. It was the same year John Lennon was killed. It’s also the same year Post-It notes, the Rubix cube, and Pac-Man were released into the world. While those are certainly memorable events, I’m in awe of the happenings those born in 2020 will have to reflect upon forty years from now when they celebrate their birthdays. What a year we have had!
The insurance industry is proactively taking steps to limit liability/exposure for these types of claims. Thus, now is the time for businesses to review their policies and assess whether coverage may be construed to provide coverage for losses associated with COVID-19/coronavirus.
It is a time to focus on the problem of bullying. With so much going on in the world around us, it would be easy to not give attention to this important topic and I wanted to take a moment of my own to reflect upon what I can do personally to impact change. Bullying can come in many forms. It is always unwanted and involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
From the title of this, you would think that this blog would be about our country’s economic recovery. Nope. This is instead about recovery from addiction, and the creative efforts of a local man whose passion to help others in their efforts to make a comeback from alcohol and drug addiction is quite remarkable. Specifically, this is about my good friend James Kasper’s most recent project.