Damages Recoverable in a Personal Injury Jury Trial

Whether you have suffered serious personal injury in an automobile accident, motor vehicle accident, trucking accident, eighteen wheeler accident, motorcycle accident, hit by a drunk driver, injured by a defective product, or by a dangerous premises condition, the goal of any lawsuit is to attempt to compensate the injured party for the damages incurred. Evidence concerning damages in personal injury cases must be thoroughly presented with competent and admissible evidence in order to ensure the injured client is fairly compensated. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, you will need an experienced personal injury trial attorney to properly prepare your case for trial and present the evidence to the Court and jury.When I try a case in Court, I tell the jury the absolute truth. I tell the jury that my client would rather go back to the day before the accident and have his or her health back, as opposed to any amount of money. Unfortunately, such a request is not possible. Therefore, monetary damages is the only possible way we have to attempt to provide some type of compensation to seriously injured victims for the terrible and tragic damages sustained in accidents which should have not occurred but for the negligence of the wrongful party.Common types of recoverable damages in personal injury lawsuits include the following:Past and Future Medical BillsAfter a serious accident, the injured victim may need medical treatment from an emergency room hospital, medical doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, pharmacies, rehabilitation centers, and more. Such medical treatment is expensive.Tort law allows injured victims who have sustained personal injuries proximately caused by the negligence of another party to recover for their past medical bills if (1) the medical treatment was necessary, and (2) the charges (bills) for the medical treatment were reasonable at the time and place incurred.Even if you are covered by health insurance, an injured victim is entitled to recover all medical bills paid and incurred (owed). The health insurance company will, in almost all personal injury cases, ask for reimbursement for the monies paid on behalf of the injured victim if the insured recovers for medical bills from a third party. This is called subrogation and without it the cost of health insurance would most likely increase dramatically.If it can be shown during trial with competent evidence that the injured party will probably need medical treatment in the future due to injuries sustained in the accident, and that such medical treatment is necessary, the injured party is also allowed to ask the jury to award damages for future medical bills. Most of the time, testimony from a healthcare provider will be needed to establish evidence of the necessity of future medical treatment and the anticipated cost of such treatment.Past Lost Earnings/WagesTort law allows an injured party to recover for loss of earnings/wages incurred in the past by the injured party if it can be shown with competent and admissible evidence that the party was unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident if such injuries were proximately caused by the negligence of another party.An effective way to prove that the injured party was not able to work due to injuries sustained in the accident is through testimony and records from the injured person’s medical healthcare providers. Establishing the amount of past lost earnings entails offering evidence of the average monthly amount of wages earned prior to the accident and then calculating the wages lost due to the time missed from work by the injured party.Future Loss of Earning CapacityAn injured party is also allowed to ask the jury to compensate the party for loss of earning capacity damages which will probably occur in the future due to the party’s inability to work in the future as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident. Evidence such as past tax statements to show the person’s past earnings history is often used to predict the amount of earnings that most likely would have been earned by the injured person but were lost due to the injuries sustained in the accident.It is also extremely helpful to elicit testimony and/or records from the injured party’s medical providers indicating that the injuries are permanent in nature and will most likely prevent the party from returning to their previous employment or in serious cases, any employment.Past and Future Pain and SufferingTort law allows an injured party to recover pain and suffering damages endured by the party from personal injury sustained in the past, and which will probably occur in the future, if caused by the negligence of a another party.An effective way to present pain and suffering evidence in Court is through the use of the injured party’s medical records and/or testimony by the party’s medical providers. Each time the injured party goes to a medical doctor or healthcare provided for treatment, the type, location, and severity of the pain is usually documented in the medical records. If the injured party sits at home hurt and does not go to the doctor for necessary medical care, not only does that person fail to receive the medical treatment that is needed for their health, no medical records are generated to document that person’s injuries and pain and suffering.The jury determines the amount of monetary damages that would fairly compensate an injured party for pain and suffering. The jury could choose to award $5,000, $50,000, or $5,000,000. Each case is different because the circumstances surrounding an injured party’s pain and suffering is unique.Past and Future Mental AnguishTort law clearly allows an injured party to be fairly compensated for past and future mental anguish damages. A person who has sustained serious bodily injury as a result of an accident, such as an automobile accident, typically also suffers some form of mental anguish including depression, stress, nightmares, anxiety, sleep disturbances and post traumatic stress disorder.In order to be compensated fairly for mental anguish damages, competent and admissible evidence should be presented to the Court concerning the type, severity, and duration of such damages. It should also be shown that the injured party’s normal life was significantly disturbed due to the mental anguish sustained as a result of the accident.The amount of monetary damages for mental anguish differs for each case and is determined by the jury based on all evidence presented during trial.Past and Future Physical ImpairmentPhysical impairment can be defined as activities that a person enjoyed participating in that the injured victim can no longer enjoy due to the injuries sustained in an accident. Examples of such activities may include walking, running, biking, playing sports, cooking, going out to the movies, driving, as well as others.Tort law is absolutely clear that a party who has suffered injury which has caused physical impairment may be compensated for such damages by the jury. The jury may also award damages for future physical impairment if it shown that such impairment will probably occur in the future.The amount of damages to fairly compensate an injured party for past and future physical impairment is determined by the jury and differs on a case by case basis.Physical DisfigurementMany times serious accidents cause permanent physical disfigurement to the victim. Such disfigurement can be the result of severe scars, loss of limbs, and burns. Tort law allows the personal injury victim to recover monetary damages for physical disfigurement. The amount of the recovery is determined by the jury based on an amount that the jury believes would fairly compensate the victim for such disfigurement based on the evidence presented at trial.Loss of Consortium, Comfort, Love & Society, and ServicesDid you know that the spouse of a seriously injured party can also be a party to a personal injury lawsuit and ask for reasonable and fair compensation for loss of consortium, comfort, love and society caused by the injuries sustained by the injured party? In many cases, serious injuries cause a serious strain on marriages. Wrongful death cases usually result in severe loss of consortium damages. Furthermore, seriously injured spouses are unable to provide the type of love, support, comfort and services that were provided prior to the injuries sustained in an accident. The Supreme Court of Texas recognizes this type of damage and allows a jury to compensate injured parties with monetary damages for loss of consortium comfort, love & society, and services in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.All statements concerning tort law in this article are based on Texas law. Other jurisdictions may differ with respect to tort law.

Creating a Records Management Policy That is Right For Your Business

Establishing a solid records management program is a challenge for any organization. Just like the planning of a new college campus or the revitalization of an existing city center, it has to be planned carefully from start to finish. All organizations benefit from consistent, thorough, and well-maintained records, but records management is rarely given priority status. Most organizations focus on “the next thing” that will take their business forward, without spending enough time on creating, completing, updating, maintaining, protecting, and even purging or destroying their records at the appropriate times.Humans are notorious for being motivated when there is a sense of urgency to act. Many of us can identify with the need to diet or eat properly, but we first take action when we realize in a panic that our clothes no longer fit. We study like we should when there is a fear we might not get into the college of our choice, or might have to repeat a class. Unfortunately, few people do what they should do without an external motivation. Regulatory compliance, and the fear of litigation that accompanies it, have provided the necessity for records management to move up the organizational priority list for many businesses. Factors for establishing a successful policy are outlined below, along with software considerations to make implementation easier.Communicating the Need for A Records Management Policy
The key to a successful records management program is a well thought-out records management policy that is accompanied by consistent records management processes. A clear policy establishes rules that inform staff what to create, manage, purge, and destroy, and helps record managers, as well as the agencies with whose rules they must comply, to know when infringements have occurred.It is imperative to keep in mind, however, that automation is not a substitute for a policy. If you are still working from paper records, automation will not solve your problems, nor will it improve upon the inherent weaknesses in the policy. The need for compliance is true whether records are stored electronically or are still on paper. A sound policy sets clear expectations for records management, and helps staff to follow procedural expectations consistently.As stated by Steve Weissman, Senior Analyst and Director of Marketing from Art Plus Technology, “Simply automating your records management program often results in automating the existing chaos. By failing to set up a plan for the creation, management, and purging of data, companies are at risk of simply getting into trouble more quickly. Although managers may aim to prove compliance, their lack of a policy may actually demonstrate expediently that they have not complied. This spells unwanted trouble for those organizations that could have been avoided if they had established a solid policy from the start.”Even the act of creating a policy can help with legislation, in particular Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, because it demonstrates that an organization has made sincere efforts to ensure compliance and implement internal controls. If your organization has not felt the urgency to create and communicate a clear records management policy, the records manager should elevate the importance of compliance and the undesirable consequences of compliance failure. This can serve as a motivating tool to implement a plan from which your company will benefit on multiple levels. The policy will give management the tools they need to effectively oversee one of the most critical assets a company owns: its collective corporate records.Review: Defining a Record and its Lifecycle
The ISO (International Organization of Standardization) defines records as “information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business”. The form of a record can vary from a paper document to an email, voicemail, fax, image, or notes about the documents. Each record should have important information, or metadata, about the record that accompanies it. Who created the record? Where will it be stored? Who is allowed to access it? How long must it be stored? When should the record be purged from the files? When should it be disposed of or destroyed?During the first and shortest part of the record cycle, an organization is typically concerned with managing an active document and its contents, including who has accessed, viewed, annotated, or otherwise taken action on the material. The remainder of the lifecycle is focused on record storage (records that are temporarily or permanently inactive), controlled access, maintenance, purging, and disposal.Record Storage: Establishing A Clear Path for Easy Retrieval
The first step in records management is the effective classification of records and a storage system that enables quick, easy, and secure retrieval of information when it is needed. Regardless of whether you employ OCR, ICR, barcodes, or another method of capturing your information, electronic storage of your documents, images, and historical records can make records management easier. However, it only works to its maximum potential if information is classified thoroughly and intelligently.In a digital world, a clear indexing plan takes into consideration the diverse sets of people and departments that need to locate records, and the terms by which they need to search for them. By taking the time to create a solid record classification or indexing plan, your staff, auditors, and regulatory agencies will be better served, and you can reallocate staff skills to more important tasks than searching for records.Recently, e-discovery has made it imperative for companies to be able to provide whatever information is relevant to an issue during investigations and other regulatory response projects that require specific data. Legislation that was revised as recently as 2006, in particular the rules of civil procedure, now give courts of law the power to demand data as evidence, regardless of the cost to the companies that are required to provide it. Emails, text files, data stored on PDAs and other devices, backup tapes, databases, videotapes, voice files, and other materials are all subject to these regulations. A comprehensive and efficient records management system with easy retrieval helps companies avoid the crippling problems that can arise from eDiscovery challenges. Companies with technology that enables electronic searching of e-content and compliance with these demands have a significant advantage over those that do not. Those that have implemented an efficient system to enable easy e-discovery, coupled with a clear policy, have an indisputable edge in a court of law.For the long term, companies should aim to create a corporate file plan, a single hierarchical structure for all corporate records. This lofty objective is difficult to achieve, and can be accomplished more easily if done so gradually. By applying record retention policies at the department level first, the foundation can be laid for enterprise-wide success.Controlling and Auditing Access: Creating Clear Guidelines
The need to control who views, reads, annotates, and acts upon documents during the active portion of a record’s lifecycle was apparent long before regulatory compliance was the buzz. In decades past, organizational hierarchy, trust, and respect provided many of the rules related to who should access materials. In today’s world, those standards put organizations at risk if access is not properly controlled and monitored. With HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, SEC and other regulations, it is no longer enough to rely on respect and an arms-length handshake.Easy and effective auditing of the policy is critical. Breaches of security can and do occur, but they can be prevented easily in a digital solution that is configured to control who is authorized to take specific actions. Equally important, the system should be capable of providing thorough audit reports. If certain portions of a form should be accessible to everyone, but specific portions require viewing or annotation restrictions, good document management software programs can address this need. If documents travel through an automated workflow process during the active part of the record lifecycle, reporting tools can provide the information needed to demonstrate compliance with internal policies, as well as external regulations.Record Maintenance
Once a policy for records management is in place, many of the maintenance challenges are eliminated. By establishing a clear plan for storage, indexing, and access, the numerous actions that surround a record during its lifecycle are easier to manage. If your organization has moved beyond basic digital storage to include automated workflow, there are multiple benefits. Changes to documents or record updates to a policy or application can be configured to launch a routine process automatically, delivering a document with instructions for action, generating customized letters or calls based on data stored within a record, and much more. While the cost savings and increases in efficiency are enough to encourage any savvy records manager to consider this carefully, the reporting tools that help to monitor action and maintain compliance make it an important consideration.Record Retention: Knowing When to Purge Records from the System
Since most records gradually lose their relevance to a company’s current business over time, purging helps to reduce the plethora of irrelevant material through which the staff has to search for pertinent data. Just as the Statute of Limitations defines the maximum period that one can wait before filing a lawsuit, record retention schedules guide the user to eliminate information that may no longer be relevant to a business from a legal point of view. Purging appropriately (as soon as it is logical and permitted by law) keeps business data relevant and accessible, and removes what is no longer needed. Workers are no longer distracted by data that is not pertinent to their businesses. Purging promotes efficiency, while simplifying searches for information.Vijay Magon, Technical Director for OITUK, Optical Image Technology’s partner in the United Kingdom, states, “Timely purging of materials in accordance with retention schedules is a vital part of compliance. Companies need to demonstrate that they have a policy and system in place that results in purging the right materials at the right time. Technology makes it much easier to monitor and enforce these policies, while providing a clear audit trail of access and activity. Without this proof, companies place themselves at considerable and unnecessary risk.”Solutions to Document and Record Management Challenges
There are many components to a complete record management solution. Once a solid policy has been established, there are several powerful tools that can make management of the document and record lifecycle considerably easier. Automated workflow (during the business lifecycle of a document), email management, a hierarchical storage management product (to manage document retention and audits), and Web services are important components of a thorough solution. The role of each component in a records management program is explained below.The Role of Automated Workflow during the Record Lifecycle
Digital workflow is the key to effectively managing, monitoring, and auditing each of the steps involved in every business process that is related to a document or record. Automated workflow facilitates a record manager’s need to monitor document access and processes relating to those documents. If a court order arises, a company may be required to provide access to the records or show who viewed, altered, or forwarded a document or any other action related to it. An automated workflow product with robust reporting tools makes this process faster, easier, and considerably less time consuming and less expensive. Electronic workflow can be configured to demand the level of consistency and thoroughness that a recordkeeping department requires, and robust reporting tools to prove that the system and workers are following the expectations and rules set forth in the policy guidelines.Leading electronic workflow products on the market today can integrate thoroughly with diverse line-of-business software applications. This maximizes the value of data that is stored in those applications and enables data to be shared appropriately across the enterprise based on the company’s pre-set rules. Digital workflow pushes the right documents and data to the correct parties for timely action, dramatically improving efficiency. Updates in the database relating to a policy or application can automatically send an alert for action, or generate an appropriate call or letter. Workflow reporting tools enable all transactions to be monitored and analyzed in formats that suit the business and simplify compliance with auditors. These same tools provide managers with productivity analysis, clear audit trails, and information that enables continual quality improvement in the processes that relate to a company’s documents. During the business lifecycle, the value of digital workflow in aiding compliance and assisting organizational efficiency can not be overstated.A solution provider with automated workflow should have a product with tools to customize workflows to the needs of the business, tracking tools to show where documents are within a process, and reporting and auditing tools to help facilitate compliance. The software should be scalable to grow with your organization, and should integrate with other line of business software to provide maximum benefit from the investment. Organizations with limited IT staff and resources should ask their vendor about the availability of professional services to help them design, configure, and make potential changes the system to fit their changing needs.Email Management Tools to Promote Efficiency and Compliance
Emails are similar to other corporate records because they hold content relating to a company’s business. A large majority of companies’ emails have valuable business content, as well as information regarding how decisions were made. Industry statistics suggest that 60 to 70% of corporate communications are housed within emails, and sometimes more.Effective management of email messages is a critical piece of proper records management, since they often store important corporate information and communications. As Steve Weissman states, “A record is a record, regardless of its source or its form. Whether the information is stored in a voicemail, fax, document, image, or email, there is content, and it is a record. Companies are wise to manage all types of records effectively and thoroughly.” Email messages should be stored in the company repository to enable easy searching of their content, including the transmission information in the header and the metadata about the email. Many companies now store their emails in a corporate repository as a step toward compliance. If a court of law requires proof that email messages were sent out or received on a particular topic or in a stated timeframe, the auditors will expect data to prove facts unequivocally. The cost of providing the data an auditor requires may be irrelevant to the governing agency, but disastrous for a business in cases where searching or complying proves to be difficult.While tracing who forwarded specific emails beyond your company’s direct email recipients is an enigmatic challenge, your company needs to be able to prove what was sent out, and to whom, if questions arise. Without a searchable system, the tracking of such data about emails becomes a labor-intensive, time consuming, and expensive process. Establishing clear and consistent rules for autoarchiving of emails promotes greater efficiency and fewer errors, and makes compliance easier.An email management solution provider should include robust search tools that make true management of this critical information easy. The software should be able to monitor email on multiple servers simultaneously, and run on any platform to allow easy integration with other current and future technologies. The solution should be scalable, to enable it to grow with your company. The inclusion of blacklist and whitelist capabilities helps record managers to facilitate management of incoming emails and provides the added benefit of dramatically improving efficiency.Hierarchical Storage Management Tools to Automate Retention and Audits
A strong hierarchical storage management product removes the human component to managing a document and information repository. This makes the system more efficient and less prone to errors. Retention schedules can be automated, with built-in alerts when a record needs to be purged. Vital information can be backed up routinely and automatically based on the rules you set in place.A hierarchical storage management solution addresses the document-centered stipulations set forth in regulations and eliminates the human element in ensuring compliance. It includes retention schedules, audit trails, move and purge requirements, data migration, and various other records management tools. It should allow for automated and regular backups of data within pre-set rules that state the hierarchy of data importance. When paired with other products in an integrated document management suite, your organization will be empowered with a solution that not only addresses regulatory challenges, but also provides the means to increase the control of content, reduce risks, and ensure document integrity.Web Services to Ensure Interoperability
Recently, Web services have gained increasing significance in records management. Since documents and records concerning those documents often are stored in and processed by diverse line of business applications, interoperability of systems is vital. Web services enable the systems to communicate with each other, ensuring that data stored in different applications can be accessed and centralized for easy reporting and analysis. They enable organizations to tap into multiple technologies within their familiar applications. Data can be extracted from those applications behind the scenes, and as an additional benefit, specific operations can be performed by tying Web services into workflow to push work behind the scenes to those who need it. By configuring the system to automatically extract data or perform whatever is needed behind the scenes, efficiency is dramatically improved. In addition, compliance is made much easier by the ability to pull emails from multiple sources and provide data about the emails that is needed for analysis and audits.Summary
Records management is a never ending process. It helps to have a clear policy and effective tools that integrate with each other, both within each department that holds records and even across the enterprise. Consider your existing policies before you begin, and rectify weaknesses or inconsistencies so you understand your needs completely before choosing a solution provider.When evaluating vendors to contribute to a complete records management solution, make sure you also consider a workflow-driven document management solution that will integrate seamlessly and make it easier for you to manage the business lifecycle of your documents while they are still active. Don’t wait for an emergency to give you a sense of urgency to establish a strong records management program. With a solid plan, and tools that take advantage of workflow, reporting, storage management, email management, and Web services interoperability, your business should be able to manage records effectively and you should reap tremendous gains in efficiency. More importantly, you should be able to police your records effectively so the real police don’t have to.

Protecting Your Spa and Salon Clients and Staff During the Cold and Flu Season

Being a mother of four I have always been a bit concerned about germs and keeping my kids healthy, especially during cold and flu season. As I am sure we all are.Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a fanatic or anything… heck a bit of dirt never killed anyone, right? Well, that I know of, and waaaaay back when in ‘the good old days’ we just didn’t have all of the anti-bacterial products or even the concerns or attention on it that we have today.Because we are so much more aware today than years ago, it is important to do our best or protect ourselves from any harmful bacteria or virus that can, not only steal time away from us, but actually jeopardize our lively hoods and rack up so pretty hefty medical bills to boot! However, no matter how hard we try at home or when we out and about, there is just no way to always protect ourselves.I will confess… I did become a fanatic of sorts from May 2010 through September 2011 when I was taking care of my daughter, Kathryn, 24/7 while going through cancer treatments. With the immune system so low all of the time, it is very important not to come in contact with any virus or bacteria… So I admit it, I carried the disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray and the anti-bacterial hand gel everywhere! Everything had to be wiped down before she came in contact with it to lessen the chance of contacting “a bug,” which would have been very detrimental.This is what prompted me to sit down and write this. Kathryn’s twin sister, Michelle, recently had to go into the Emergency Room for dizziness and headache. While there she went into the back area to have the lab work done and when she was instructed to go back and sit in the waiting room for the results.When she and her father first arrived there were two people in the waiting area, one broke a finger and the other had chest pains. In the back, however, every room was filled and the nurse said that she was the only one in the past four hours that wasn’t here because of the flu. By the time she came back out after the lab work she counted about 10 people laying all over the place, coughing, sneezing, fever, vomiting with more coming in the door! She sat far enough away from them and called me.I told her to see if she could just get the hospital to call her with results since you didn’t have the flu and didn’t want to stick around to get it, if at all possible. She said they were calling people into the back and more would just sit down where that person got up… no one was given a mask, and no one was disinfecting anything! This means that when Michelle and her father sat in the waiting room when they first got there, all of the people in the back had been sitting on the same sofas and chairs! They had to sit somewhere, but we will never know if anything was disinfected or sanitized between patients… in the waiting room or in the lab room chairs and tables. Or do we?Well, two days later… Bing, Bang, BOOM! Full blown flu, for both of them!This got me thinking… how are you protecting your clients, staff and yourself from catching this “flu bug” that seems to be taking over America? Some areas are worse than others, but we all need to think about this. Billions of dollars and productivity are being spent and lost from lost wages and employee absenteeism for sick days.Of course, it is important to always keep your spa or salon clean. It is important to take steps in your spa or salon to continue to do business during flu and cold season by keeping your clients and staff healthy. By showing your clients that your spa or salon business has their best interest and health at heart, you will most definitely score major loyalty points! As well as going above and beyond when other businesses are not.Here are a few Safety Precautions during the cold and flu season for your Spa and Salon:1. If filling out a Client Questionnaire, be sure to either wipe off pens or this would be a great time to pass out new pens with your Spa or Salon Business information to all new clients or anyone that need to fill out any forms.2. Be sure to have Front Desk Staff disinfect front counter, phone, charge card machine, key board or any service they come in contact with.3. If you’re waiting area has furniture that can be wiped down periodically, do so.4. In between clients, make sure to wipe down salon chairs, especially the arm rests top and underside. As well as arm rests on shampoo bowl chairs.5. If you have magazines in the waiting area, print out a large sticker on the front that reminds people to be sure to wash their hands. In fact, this is where you can simply say, “Because we make your health and safety our priority, we recommend to wash your hands after enjoying reading this magazine either while waiting for your appointment or relaxing during your scheduled treatment.”6. Always use gloves to put dirty towels into washing machine and always wipe machine off so no clean towels or sheets will come in contact where the dirty laundry may have touched.7. Do not allow dirty laundry to sit over night.8. Keep disposable masks on hand for any employee or client that feels they need to use one.9. Spray down services with disinfectant spray every night prior to closing.10. Eat right, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated.What are you doing to protect your Spa and Salon staff and clients healthy during the cold and flu season?