Archive for February, 2014

Teenage Drivers Pose a Significant Hazard on Mississippi Roads

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The issue of teenage driving and an increased rate of serious traffic accidents has long been a focus of safety campaigns throughout Mississippi and the rest of the country.  There was a decline in teenage driving accidents and fatalities from 2006 through 2011, so these safety programs may be working.  However, there was an uptick in teenage driver accidents in 2012, based on a preliminary report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.  Although there is a lot of speculation about the cause of this increase, one of the reasons might be the frequency with which teenagers use their cell phones and other technology, even behind the wheel.

Mississippi has the unfortunate distinction of being the third highest state for teenage deaths where a teenager was behind the wheel.  Erie Insurance worked with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to analyze crash data provided by the United States Department of Transportation in order to rank the states with regard to deaths caused by teen drivers.  The IIHS has stated that a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system, where there are tiered driving privileges, may work to decrease these accidents.

There are many reasons why teen drivers experience such a high rate of accidents, with much higher rates during the first year of driving.  Some of the main causes of teen accidents are:

  • Lack of experience – teenage drivers simply do not have the time on the road to have developed skills to anticipate and react to hazards in the same manner as experienced drivers.  This is one of the reason people advocate for GDL.
  • A sense of invulnerability – many teenagers do have a belief that nothing bad is going to happen to them when they ignore posted speed limits and drive recklessly.  However, the statistics demonstrate the fact that teenagers are not impervious to the dangers of violating road rules.
  • Teenagers drive distracted – the prevalence of cell phones and texting among young drivers means that they are more likely to read or respond to a text while operating a motor vehicle.  In addition, they may be distracted by making music selections, eating or drinking in the car, interacting with friends, and applying makeup or performing other grooming behaviors.
  • Peer pressure influences driving techniques – a teenage driver is far more likely to emulate their friends rather than adult family members and other adults with greater skill behind the wheel.
  • An inability to react properly to changing weather conditions – heavy rains and high winds can lead to terrible accidents if the teen driver does not take the appropriate steps to deal with the hazards.

Drivers who are between the ages of 16 to 19 years of age are four times more likely to get into a fatal car accident that drivers aged 25 to 69 years.  The use of programs like GDL and distracted driving safety campaigns aimed at young drivers are effective ways of decreasing the dangers that these new drivers pose for themselves and others on the road.

Barrett Law PLLC Advocates on Behalf of Accident Victims

Whether you were injured in a car crash with a teenage driver or another type of serious collision, it is important to focus on your recovery.  However, the time in which an injured party can make a claim begins to run as soon as the accident happens.  The skilled and hardworking Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC are ready to fight on your behalf while you get better.  To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at (800) 707-9577.  We only receive fees if we succeed in getting a settlement or award for you.

Mississippi Negligent Truck Driver Hiring Leads to Dangerous Situations

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The commercial trucking system is one of the main ways that goods are transported across the country.  However, the ability of a trucking company to make money is contingent upon a driver’s ability to make a trip in the minimum amount of time and return for another haul.  This requires long hours in the truck, away from family, and relatively isolated.  For all of these sacrifices, the rate of pay is not particularly high.  This has resulted in a shortage of qualified truck drivers in the United States and pressure on the trucking companies to find people to operate the large, challenging tractor-trailers.  This may lead to short-cuts with devastating consequences.

When a trucking company makes the wrong decision and hires a driver who poses a danger to other people on the road, the company may be responsible for the harm that is caused by the driver in a collision.  In order to be liable for the harm that was done, the trucking company must have:

  • A duty to ensure that the driver had the skills and appropriate driving record to drive the tractor-trailer;
  • Breached that duty by hiring a driver who had red flags in his background and putting him behind the wheel of a commercial truck;
  • Been the proximate cause of the harm that was done to the victims of the accident by negligently hiring an unqualified driver; and
  • Caused actual harm to the victims as a result of the preventable crash.

In order to avoid this liability, a trucking company must carefully screen its employees.  Federal regulations require that a trucking company perform background checks on new employees in order to check for things such as a criminal record, a history of reckless or aggressive driving, or other indicators that the driver would be a safety hazard on the road.  Specifically, the trucking company must analyze the potential driver’s background to determine:

  • Whether the driver has the training and qualifications to operate the type of the tractor-trailer that he would be driving;
  • Whether the driver had a history of substance abuse, including prescription medication, illegal narcotics, or alcohol;
  • Whether the driver has a history of unsafe driving; and
  • Whether the driver had any DUI convictions.

When an accident happens, the victim may be able to hold both the trucking company and the truck driver responsible for the harm that he suffered.  However, it is critical to investigate carefully the facts of the case in order to demonstrate that the company’s negligent hiring was part of the cause of the accident – this is not a simple matter.  It is necessary to examine the records of the trucking company, review whether or not the company outsourced the background check to a qualified investigation entity, analyze the logs and other records, and pour over the accident reports in order to build a strong case.  It is important to have the right attorneys because they need to collect the evidence quickly and effectively as the trucking companies only are required to maintain documents for a limited amount of time.

Barrett Law PLLC Gets Justice for Truck Accident Victims

When a truck collides with a car or other passenger vehicle, the damage to the car often is serious, leading to severe injuries to the driver and any passengers in the car.  Frequently, these victims require emergency medical care, long-term treatment, and modifications to the home and vehicles.  The dedicated and experienced Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC understand how to build a case that will get victims the best possible results after a devastating crash.  We are available to discuss what happened to you in a free and confidential consultation.  To schedule a time to meet, please call us at (800) 707-9577.

Negligent Maintenance Leads to Serious Truck Accidents in Mississippi

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Sharing the roads with commercial trucks is a fact of life in Mississippi.  Although the trucks that travel on the roads are limited in size because Mississippi does not allow longer combination vehicles, there are still heavily laden semi-trucks that cannot stop quickly or turn suddenly even under the best of circumstances.  When these vehicles are not maintained properly, the commercial tractor-trailers that are on the road can cause serious harm to passenger vehicles as the result of an accident.

Tractor-trailers spend hundreds of hours each month on the road.  Driving hundreds of thousands of miles each year means that various parts of the truck wear down quickly.  If the maintenance schedule is not established and followed in an effective manner, the work is not done properly, or the parts not appropriate for use in the commercial truck, then the consequences can be devastating.

There are many logistical issues that surround establishing and following a proper maintenance schedule in the commercial trucking industry.  However, the ownership issue surrounding the cab and trailer involves a complex hierarchy that may impact the scheduling of maintenance to the detriment of other drivers on the road.  If the truck driver does not own the cab, he may rely on the trucking company to schedule the maintenance and oversee the quality of the inspection and replacement, but it may be that the cab is leased and there is a third-party responsible for maintaining the vehicle.  When the driver is an independent contractor that works for multiple trucking companies, but leases the cab from a third-party, the scheduling of routine maintenance that is amenable with the driver’s schedule may be very complicated.

Under the rules and regulations that govern commercial trucks, there must be detailed records kept about the maintenance work performed on the truck, including:

  • What type of inspection, repair, or replacement was performed on the truck, including the date on which the work was done, the name and identifying information of the person performing the work, and the identification information for the truck to be certain the work matched up with the vehicle;
  • A catalog of the parts that were installed in the truck when any repair or upgrade was performed pursuant to a maintenance schedule or emergency situation, including identification information for the parts; and
  • Any requests from the driver, mechanic, or trucking company administrator for specific work to be done or inspections to be made.

There are many problems that can occur if this maintenance schedule is not followed, including:

  • Brake failures;
  • Tire blowouts;
  • Malfunction of the steering system leading to collisions with vehicles in other lanes on the road;
  • Failure of the coupling mechanism between the cab and the trailer resulting in a jackknife or separation of the cab and trailer; and
  • Failure of the restraints that were intended  to secure the load causing the items being transported to spill into the roadway.

These types of maintenance problems can lead to serious collisions that can be devastating for the occupants of the vehicles that are impacted by the tractor-trailers of the items being hauled.  Commercial trucks with a full load may weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while a sedan usually has a maximum weight of 4,000 pounds.  When there is an accident involving these two vehicles of very disparate sizes, the occupants of the car often suffer much more serious injuries, or death.

Barrett Law PLLC Represents Victims of Serious Truck Accidents

A truck accident involving a tractor-trailer that has been negligently maintained leads to severe injuries that may lead to a lifetime of struggles.  Frequently, truck accident victims require years of intensive rehabilitation, along with in-home care, assistance with routine tasks, and modifications to the home and car.  All of this requires compensation that will see a victim through the remainder of his life.  The compassionate and experienced Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC are ready to hear what happened to you and develop a legal strategy that works for you and your family.  To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call us at (800) 707-9577.

Mississippi Campaign Targets Distracted Driving

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

When you are driving along Mississippi roads, it is not uncommon to see people putting on makeup, looking at the GPS device, bending down to scroll through the music options, or using a cell phone or other electronic device.  These various forms of distracted driving lead to dangerous situations where the driver’s focus is off the road at the critical time.

In Mississippi, a campaign to target distracted drivers started in Oxford in early November, 2013, and is spreading to other areas along the coast.  The campaign, known as “Pay Attention or Pay a Fine” targets behaviors that lead to a driver not paying attention to the road and driving in a careless manner.  According to a local news story, Lieutenant  Johnny Poulos of the Mississippi Highway Patrol stated that they would not be pulling people over for eating while in a vehicle, but they would have officers looking for other dangerous behaviors.

Distracted driving can be a serious problem even when people do not consider themselves to be distracted.  There are three different classifications of distracted driving that have been set forth for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are:

  • Manual distraction – the driver removes one or both hands from the wheel in order to do something, whether that is texting, drinking coffee, plugging an address into the GPS, or performing any other activity;
  • Visual distraction – removing one’s eyes from the road to the extent that it leads to a loss of focus and negligent driving; and
  • Cognitive distraction – while it may seem perfectly normal to think about the weekend events or evening’s menu, this may lead to a distraction that leads to a loss of reaction time at a critical moment.

Some of the activities that lead to distracted driving without being regularly thought of as a distraction include:

  • Checking on the children in the backseat, which entails many glances in the rearview mirror and turns in the seat;
  • Bringing your pet along for the ride – having a loose animal can lead to paying attention to what the animal is doing rather than the stopped traffic on the road ahead;
  • Driving while fatigued – this is particularly dangerous because the driver may believe that he or she is paying attention to the road, but the exhaustion leads to a loss of focus; and
  • Focusing on the billboards – while advertisers are trying to grab the attention of drivers, reading the marketing text may lead to a critical distraction.

In order to be safe from distractions, there are some things to do, including:

  • Driving defensively – by staying aware of what is going on around the driver, it may be possible to react quickly to a potential problem;
  • Never use technology while driving – taking the time to pull off the road may be a life-saving decision;
  • Maintain a safe driving distance with other vehicles on the road;
  • Wear seat belts and make sure your passengers are buckled up as well; and
  • Stay focused on the road – thinking about what you are doing will help you react when it is critical.

More municipalities are taking action against distracted driving because this is an increasing threat to everyone on the road.  If you were the victim of a distracted driving accident, it is critical to get the right legal help as soon as possible in order to preserve your rights.

Barrett Law PLLC Fights for Those Who are Injured as the Result of Distracted Driving

In an age where people are praised for multi-tasking on a variety of technological devices, it is understandable that the mindset carries over to driving.  However, this distracted driving leads to serious crashes along roadways across Mississippi.  If you were injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving or some other negligent behavior, the compassionate and skilled Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC are here to protect your interests.  To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, please call (800) 707-9577.

Well-known Tobacco Whistleblower, Merrell Williams, Jr., Recently Dies

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Merrell Williams, Jr. died in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on November 18, 2013.  Williams was a controversial whistleblower who was one of the main reasons many of the dangerous or fraudulent actions of the big tobacco industry were brought to light, but the manner in which this came about was the subject of great debate.

Williams was a paralegal with a law firm in Louisville, Kentucky, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, which did a lot of legal work for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company.  In 1994, Williams leaked a very large amount of documents that he previously had copied, which resulted in lawsuits that ultimately culminated in the tobacco industry paying billions of dollars into settlements and funds to cover the medical problems suffered by smokers.  The files that Williams leaked clearly demonstrated the tobacco industry’s awareness that the cigarettes did in fact cause cancer, that nicotine was addictive, and that there were marketing campaigns aimed at getting children hooked on cigarettes.

The controversy that surrounded the leaking of the tobacco companies records related to the fact that he was acting as a paralegal with Brown & Williamson as a client, and the tobacco company accused Williams of a breach of attorney-client privilege.  In addition, there was evidence that an anti-tobacco attorney who was bringing suits against the tobacco industry had paid for a house, a boat, two vehicles, and a job that paid $3,000 per month, but did not require any attendance at an office, for Williams.  Williams claimed that these were actually the result of loans that he was repaying.

 When Williams joined the Louisville law firm, he was one of a number of employees who was tasked with reviewing thousands of pages of documents in order to craft defenses to the many tobacco-related personal injury lawsuits that were being brought against tobacco companies.  Williams saw documents demonstrating that the tobacco companies had scientific research from their own scientists detailing the dangers of smoking.  The same year that he joined the firm, 1988, Williams began taking documents out of the firm hidden under his clothing.  He would copy them at different copy stores and then return the originals.  From 1990 to 1992, Williams tried to get law enforcement agencies or anti-tobacco groups interested in the documents he had taken.  After being laid off in 1992, he notified the law firm of his intention to bring litigation against the firm based on job stress-related illness, but the tobacco company of Brown & Williamson sued him first on the basis of theft and breach of contract.  Williams defended his removal of the documents on the basis that they revealed criminal activity.

An attorney in Florida eventually became interested in the documents in 1994.  This attorney was the one who provided the house and other high-value items to Williams.  Although the admissibility of the documents was debated, they ended up in court cases and in public hands.  The case against the tobacco industry was significantly bolstered when Jeffrey Wigand, who had been an executive with Brown & Williamson, went public with company secrets in 1996.  The tobacco settlement in 1998 resulted in the top four tobacco companies agreeing to cover tobacco-related medical bills for 46 states over 25 years.

Regardless of the controversy that surrounds his disclosure of documents, Merrell Williams, Jr. was a whistleblower whose actions contributed significantly to the tobacco companies being held responsible for their wrongdoing.

Barrett Law PLLC Advocates on Behalf of Whistleblowers

The decision to take action to expose injustices despite possible repercussions is a very brave one that deserves the best possible legal support.  The hard-working Mississippi Qui Tam/Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC will provide an honest evaluation of your case in a confidential initial consultation, without charge, and develop a legal strategy that meets your unique circumstances.  To schedule an appointment, call us at (800) 707-9577.  We only receive legal fees if we recover for you.

Whistleblower in JPMorgan Chase Fraud Case to Be Paid $63.9 Million

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Under the False Claims Act, those people who learn about the efforts of businesses to defraud the federal government through fraudulent practices or the submission of false documents may receive a portion of any payments that the government is able to recover from the wrongdoer.  This percentage may range up to thirty percent (30%) of the total recovery.

In the matter of JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan), according to news reports, the company admitted that it used fraudulent or deceptive practices in order to entice the federal government to insure home loans that were not financially sound.  JPMorgan entered into a settlement with the government and whistleblower in which it acknowledged that for more than ten years it had submitted loans to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veteran Affairs that did not meet the requirements to qualify them for federal guarantees.  The financial settlement mandates that JPMorgan pay 614 million dollars back to the government and take affirmative steps to provide more oversight over the loan process.

The information that triggered the investigation into JP Morgan was provided by Keith Edwards, who brought a False Claims Act case against JPMorgan.  Edwards had worked for JPMorgan or one of its predecessors from 2003 to 2008 and had the  position of an assistant vice president dealing with government insurance.  After Edwards initiated the suit, the federal government joined the action as a plaintiff.  On Friday, March 7, 2014, the amount of payment was revealed in a court filing in the United States District Court in Manhattan, which marked the conclusion of the legal case against JPMorgan.

Part of the case against JPMorgan included allegations that the company’s internal review process had turned up the problem with the loans, but that it did not disclose these issues.  As a result of these unqualified loans being insured by the government, there were millions of dollars in payouts when homeowners that could not meet the terms of their mortgages defaulted, resulting in foreclosures across the country.

The payment that the whistleblower is going to receive includes approximately 56.5 million dollars resulting from payments made to the government to reimburse insurance payments that were made by the Federal Housing Administration and another 7.4 million dollars resulting from reimbursement to the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Mr. Edwards brought the legal action under the False Claims Act, initiating the case in January 2013.  The case was brought under the provisions that permit United States citizens to bring action against government contractors whose actions have defrauded the government.

This whistleblower payment is one of a number of very large payments made by the government as a result of the financial crisis that hit the mortgage industry in 2008.  The Justice Department stated at the end of 2013 that it had paid out nearly 2 billion dollars in whistleblower awards from 2009 through 2013, although not all of these related to mortgage lenders.

Barrett Law PLLC Represents Whistleblowers Who Expose Fraudulent Practices

The False Claims Act allows ordinary citizens to make a real difference in exposing corporate wrongdoing.  When a person decides to take action, it is important to have knowledgeable and committed attorneys who will work with the individual in putting together a complicated case.  At Barrett Law PLLC, our team of Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys have the experience and dedication to ensure that those who are willing to come forward have the support that they need to succeed in holding wrongdoers accountable.  To discuss your case in a confidential initial consultation, call us at (800) 707-9577.  We do not recover any fees unless we succeed on your behalf.

BP Ordered to Abide by Terms of $9.2 Billion Settlement

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

When the Deepwater Horizon had a catastrophic incident on April 20, 2010, 11 people were killed and 4.9 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico, forever altering the lives of many victims.  Despite the initial assertions by BP Oil to meet its financial obligations in the aftermath of the largest marine oil spill in history, they have fought the financial settlement that the company reached on a voluntary basis, taking it to an appeals court to contest the terms of the settlement.  The company did reach a settlement with many of the private plaintiffs in March of 2012, which concluded a pending legal action that was about to result in a civil trial.

In December 2013, BP halted payments under the terms of the $9.2 billion settlement it previously had reached.  Attorneys for BP Oil went to court to argue that the settlement covered losses that were not directly linked to the oil spill and should not be part of the payout. However, the federal Court of Appeals that heard the argument ruled that the terms of the settlement agreement did not require the offer of proof that the damage being claimed was the direct result of the oil spill.  This means that BP was required to resume the payments due under the terms of the settlement agreement.  The appeals court ruled that the company failed to satisfy its burden that the settlement agreement required a specific burden of proof.

The United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the “settlement agreement does not require a claimant to submit evidence that the claim was the result of the oil spill,” according to Judge Leslie Southwick.

The legal argument was based on the fact that claims were submitted that were not directly related to the Deepwater Horizon spill.  BP Oil claimed that the settlement did not cover claims that could not be directly linked to the spill.  For example, without any link to actual claims that were filed, a hotel on the Mississippi gulf coast that might have claimed damages related to loss of revenue based upon the aftermath of the oil spill would not be able to maintain such a claim against BP Oil under BP’s argument.  BP had argued that claimants that could not trace their losses directly to the spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon should not be able to maintain their claims.  BP Oil denies that many of the claims that were filed pursuant to the settlement are the result of scientifically based methodology.  The Appeals Court struck down this argument.

As of early March 2014, BP Oil has paid 3.83 billion dollars in an effort to resolve more than 55,000 claims that have been submitted as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  In addition to the claims that were filed, there were legal claims submitted by 700 casinos, as well as an estimated 250 financial organizations, approximately 750 government entities, and 900 business entities, and other entities that allegedly were harmed as a result of the BP Oil spill that were instituted as a result of the efforts of the Obama administration.  These claims are not covered in the settlement reached by BP Oil.  BP has struggled in court to prove that the victims who submit claims must demonstrate that the economic harm was directly related to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Court determined that the settlement might have been more protective of the rights of BP Oil, but the terms were agreed to by the parties to the settlement and were not unreasonable.  The Court ruled that BP Oil would not be able to renegotiate the deal via the court system.

The BP Oil spill and other environmental disasters that have decimated the Mississippi coast have altered the lives of many people.  At Barrett Law PLLC, our team of Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys work hard on behalf of the  people who have been decimated by the BP Oil spill and other horrific environmental events.  To schedule a free initial consultation, please call us at (800) 710-9577.  We do not collect our fee unless we recover compensation for the harm that you have suffered.

U.S. Government Files a False Claims Lawsuit Against Sprint

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

The United States Government enacted the False Claims Act as an incentive to people that had inside information of wrongdoing to provide those details to investigative bodies.  The act has led to legal action being brought against many commercial enterprises, large and small.  One of the most recent cases filed under the False Claims Act involved telecommunications giant Sprint Corp. and involves allegations that Sprint charged the United States government 21 million dollars more than it should have when complying with court-mandated wiretaps and other operations to assist the government in ongoing investigations.  Attorneys for Sprint have stated that the telecommunications company intends to vigorously defend against these charges.

The government frequently will seek the assistance of telecommunication firms when carrying out investigations through the use of phone surveillance.  In order to be able to assist in these requests, telecommunication firms are required to maintain the proper infrastructure.  As part of this readiness,  the firms may seek reimbursement for expenses that are reasonably related to the staff, equipment, and facilities that must be maintained to meet the wiretap and monitoring needs of the requesting government entities.

The current litigation arises out of a case brought by the Justice Department in which it alleges that Sprint inflated its expenses by as much as fifty-eight percent (58%), submitting bills that did not properly enumerate the basis for the reimbursement requests.  These expenses were related to operations by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other agencies from January, 2007 through July, 2010.  The court action alleges that Sprint improperly sought and received funds from the government to pay for upgrades to its facilities and equipment, which are not recoverable expenses, according to news reports.

Through its attorneys and court filings, Sprint maintains that it only sought reimbursement for allowable expenses that it reasonably incurred during the process of assisting government entities with surveillance operations.

The United States government relies on the False Claims Act as the primary mechanism for getting money back that allegedly was paid as the result of a fraud committed by a corporation.  A claim brought under the False Claims Act may include:

  • The improper presentation, with knowledge of the wrongdoing, of a claim for payment to the federal government that is based on fraud;
  • Utilizing a false or fraudulent record to get a claim approved and paid by the government;
  • Engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the government through the submission of and payment on false or fraudulent claims;
  • Submitting to the government a certification about property used by the government when that property may not have been used or the person making the certification does not have actual knowledge that the request for payment is accurate;
  • Purchasing or taking possession of an obligation from the government when the business entity is not legally able to take the respective action; or
  • Acting with knowledge to avoid or conceal an obligation to pay money or otherwise transmit property to the government through the use of false records or statements.

When a whistleblower brings fraud to the attention of the federal government under the provisions of the False Claims Act, he may be entitled to an award of fifteen to thirty percent (15-30%) of the government’s recovery from the wrongdoer.

When a person steps forward to revel wrongdoing in the part of a company, it is imperative for him to be protected.  If you were acting as a whistleblower as part of a protected activity, the company knew that you were acting as a whistleblower, and you suffered harm as the result of retaliatory actions by the company, the knowledgeable and experienced Mississippi Qui Tam/Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC will fight to get you the justice that you deserve.  Call us at (800) 707-9577 to discuss your legal rights during a free and confidential consultation.  There are no fees until we recover for you.

Is My Mississippi Workplace Accident Covered by Workers’ Compensation Alone?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Workers’ Compensation insurance is intended to make certain that a person injured in a workplace accident can receive compensation for the harm that was done, but Mississippi law imposes significant restrictions on the amount of money that can be paid out, so it is important to evaluate the true causes of the workplace accident carefully.

Workers’ Compensation insurance is intended to cover wages that were lost while the employee recovers from the injuries that he suffered while on the job, as well as reimbursement for medical bills and expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering.  While this sounds good in theory, the fact is that there are such low monetary caps and hoops through which to jump, that many victims do not receive enough money to meet their financial obligations, let alone get compensation for the pain and suffering that they have endured.

There are many instances where an employee will be injured at work and his employer will attempt to talk him out of filing a claim in order to avoid having the insurance rates go up.  In other cases, the insurance company attempts to avoid or minimize payment as their financial success is contingent on paying out as little as possible on claims.  Skilled Workers’ Compensation attorneys can get you over these hurdles.  However, there are other times when the injury that occurred was the result of third-party negligence and it may be possible to recover compensation from other individuals or business entities, which is not capped by Mississippi’s Workers’ Compensation laws.

A workplace accident might be caused by the negligence of others, including:

  • A defective part as the result of a manufacturing error;
  • Negligent work by outside contractors;
  • Injuries caused by a negligent driver while the employee was acting within the nature and scope of his job while traveling off-site;
  • A dog bite where the employee carrying out work-related duties; and
  • Slip and fall injuries in off-site location.

A person who was injured at work may receive money through Workers’ Compensation and still bring a separate legal action against the wrongdoer who caused or contributed to the  harm that was suffered.

The third-party who might be liable for the harm that you suffered, at least in part, might be:

  • Another individual who performed some service or supplied equipment as an independent contractor or outside vendor;
  • A different company that supplied workers or equipment;
  • The manufacturer of defective parts or equipment; or
  • A government entity.

Many cases involve a situation where there is a combination of employer fault and third-party negligence.  In these cases, the Workers’ Compensation payment may provide critical monetary assistance while the employee cannot work while also allowing the injured party the time to bring a claim against the third-party who contributed to the harm suffered.  An example of when this happens is when there is a piece of machinery that is critical to the ongoing business operations, but the employer learns that many of these machines have a manufacturing defect that makes them dangerous.  In order to avoid a stoppage of work, the employer does not replace the equipment and an employee gets hurt.  The employee may recover money under Workers’ Compensation and bring a claim against the manufacturer of the machine.

When Workers’ Compensation was developed, it was viewed as a means of making sure that employees were compensated for injuries while protecting employers from litigation.  The system is not perfect and there are many instances where the compensation available is not sufficient to meet the legitimate needs of the injured employee.  A careful review of the case may reveal that a third-party claim is possible.

A workplace injury causes serious problems for many people employed throughout Mississippi.  Workers often think that they are limited to what they received from a Workers’ Compensation claim, but a third-party claim might be possible.  The dedicated and experienced Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC will evaluate your case during a free initial consultation and discuss your legal rights with you.  To schedule an appointment, call us at (800) 707-9577.  We do not collect any fees unless we recover compensation for you.

Mississippi Wrong-way Collision Devastates Many Lives

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

          On Saturday, February 8, 2014, a 23-year-old woman was driving the wrong-way, traveling south in the northbound lane of Highway 49, when she collided with two young friends who were returning to the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  The accident happened around 1:30 AM  and the cause of the accident was still under investigation a couple of weeks after it occurred.  The collision resulted in the death of the woman who was driving the wrong-way in traffic and caused the two young college students to be hospitalized.  One young woman suffered serious injuries, including a broken spine, severe injuries to the appendix and spleen requiring their removal, broken bones, and damage to the diaphragm.  The spinal cord damage resulted in a loss of feeling in her legs, according to a news report.

            This accident is a tragic reminder of the devastating outcome of a wrong-way collision.  Many times, these collisions happen at night, where a number of factors could lead to a terrible crash.  Wrong-way accidents may be the result of driver confusion or fatigue, driving under the influence, unsafe passing, or distracted driving.  Regardless of the cause of the accident, the outcome often is severe injuries or death for the involved parties.  The impact forces of two vehicles traveling towards each other at a high rate of speed means that the damage to the vehicles will be severe.  In turn, this results in catastrophic harm to the driver and passengers.

            In the collision in Saucier, Mississippi, the victims suffered terrible injuries, including a spinal injury that could alter the victim’s life forever.  Wrong-way collisions often lead to serious injuries, including:

  • Crush injuries leading to organ failure;
  • Traumatic brain injuries;
  • Spinal cord damage, resulting in paralysis;
  • Broken and fractured bones;
  • Severe abrasions and lacerations, causing permanent disfigurement;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Serious burns from fires cause by the crash;
  • Whiplash and whiplash associated disorders; and
  • Death.

            One of the reasons that wrong-way collisions are so serious for the victims involved in the accidents is that the front-end impact causes the hood of the car to crumple and leads to the destruction of the structural integrity of the vehicle.  In many accidents like this, the engine compartment travels forcibly into the front area of the interior compartment.  Although only two percent (2%) of traffic accidents involve front-end impacts, accidents like this lead to approximately ten percent (10%) of fatalities relating to traffic crashes due to the severity of the impact.

            Victims of wrong-way collisions may face long hospital stays, intensive rehabilitation, an inability to pursue the career that they intended prior to the accident, and a need for assistance with even the most basic of tasks. Frequently, a victim may need to rely on family members to get them from one place to another, including transporting them to the many medical appointments that are necessary as part of the recovery process.  If these victims are able to return to their homes, they may need modifications to the structure of the residence, including the widening of doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, the lowering of counter heights, the installation of ramps, and the relocation of bedrooms.  Specialized vehicles might have to be purchased.

            When you or a loved one is seriously injured as the result of a wrong-way crash, it might be difficult to focus on everything that needs to be done merely to get through the day, but it is important to get the right team working on your behalf to protect you or your family member’s legal rights.  The physical, emotional, and financial impacts of a serious accident are profound and the experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have the skill and dedication to get you the justice that you deserve.  We are ready to sit down and discuss what happened to you and determine your legal options during a free initial consultation.  Call us at (800) 707-9577 in order to schedule an appointment.  You do not pay any legal fees unless we recover money for you.