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Animal Injuries

08-22-19    

For many farmers, livestock and animals are the majority of their business. Farmers and employees take significant measures to care for these animals and ensure that they remain safe; unfortunately, this same level of care is not always extended to employees or other bystanders. When farm animals cause harm, the farm owners can be held liable for injuries sustained.

Farm workers are often in direct contact with livestock, whether it be feeding, grooming, or transporting the animals. Animal injuries can range in severity from minor cuts and bruises to severe, life-threatening injuries. This could be biting, trampling, kicking, or goring. These accidents can have catastrophic consequences, leaving the victim with brain injuries, amputations, paralysis, and other severe injuries. These incidents can be caused by inadequate containment of livestock or inadequate training for handing livestock, both of which are preventable and inexcusable.

The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020, injuries will be responsible for more death, morbidity, and disability than all communicable diseases combined. Right now, injuries account for one in seven potential life-years lost worldwide, and by 2020 they will account for one in five. During the last decade, workers in the United States agriculture industry received particular attention because of the increasingly high risk of fatal injuries and suspected risk for serious, nonfatal injuries. Studies have consistently reported that farm machinery, livestock, and falls are major contributors to agricultural injuries.

The weight of farm animals can vary from a few pounds in newborns to close to two tons (4,000 pounds) in adults. Horses and cattle, rather than any single type of agricultural machinery, are reported the leading cause of injuries on farms. Animals sense their surroundings differently—for example, cattle have close to 360-degree panoramic vision, which means that any quick movement behind cattle may spook them and cause injury to the person. Animals also have extremely sensitive hearing and are often frightened by loud noises, such as the heavy machinery or loud yelling near them. It is estimated that about 30 farmers are killed each year from contact with farm animals, primarily horses and cattle. A study conducted by Oklahoma State University found 150 cases of cattle handling-related injuries among 100 Oklahoma cow-calf operations, and more than half of the injury cases resulted from preventable human error.

In general, the risk factors among farmers have been categorized into physical characteristics of the farming environment and the personal characteristics of the farmers. Farm machinery, falls, and animal-related injuries are the three major external causes of injury, and young male workers are considered the most vulnerable to on-the-job injuries. Due to the increasing mechanization of farming over the past century, and the high fatality rate associated with injuries due to machinery, most studies of agricultural injuries have focused on injuries related to interactions with machinery or tractors, leaving a large gap in the study of animal based injuries, even though livestock-related injuries account for the highest rate of lost work days in the agriculture industry.

When farm animals cause injury, you deserve compensation from farm and livestock owners. With the professional help of the Columbus animal injury attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm, you can feel confident that your case is being handled by skilled and experienced attorneys. With offices in Columbus and Mansfield, we assist injured parties across the state of Ohio. Contact us at (419) 529-2020 for a free consultation, or reach out to us online.


Dash Cams- What Are They and Do You Need One?

07-01-19    

Often times, the term “dash cam” is used when discussing incidents involving police—the majority of police vehicles are equipped with these devices to protect both the officer and citizens. However, an increasing number of civilians are investing in dash cams for their own protection in the event of an auto accident, theft, or vandalism.

A “dash cam” is a dashboard camera, typically mounted on the front windshield of a vehicle. Dash cams, depending on the make and model, can record both when the vehicle is driving and when it is parked, as well as recording audio and connecting to a smartphone in order for the user to watch recorded video; much like a home security system. All dash cams turn on automatically and begin recording when the vehicle is in use. For dash cams with parking mode, the dash cam will also record when the vehicle is off and parked. Dash cams can serve as a virtual witness to incidents and can be more reliable than simply recalling from memory. Some insurance companies offer discounts if your car has a dash cam installed, and dash cam footage can help attorneys if there is a dispute about who is at fault for an auto accident.

The most common known use for a dash cam is for reliable evidence in the event of an accident. This footage creates a clear picture of what happened in cases of automobile accidents—insurance companies, police departments, and personal injury attorneys can use dash cam footage. Sometimes the footage will show important information like that the person who caused the accident was driving distracted or was driving erratically.

Dash cams also protect against vandalism and theft. While the dash cam itself can also be stolen, many dash cams are so discreet they are usually unnoticeable. A dash cam can capture footage of accidental dings, vandalism, or interior theft. Dash cams can capture hit-and-runs, showing who is responsible for the damage, as well as preventing insurance spikes for the owner of the damaged vehicle.

While a car may have a backup camera, these cameras are not equipped for recording and cannot replace a 2-channel dash cam. There are three kinds of dash cams, which vary in cost by model and features:

  • 1-channel dash cams record from the front windshield to the front of the car (these are the most common)
  • 2-channel dash cams give front and rear protection. There are also 2-channel IR dash cams, which give front and interior protection (mostly for rideshare drivers)
  • 3-channel dash cams provide front, rear, and interior protection.

Dashboard cameras can cost anywhere from $30 to upwards of $300 depending on the make and model of the camera, with the highest ranked cameras averaging $100, and the best-selling dash cams averaging under $50. Higher-end dash cam have touchscreens and smartphone compatibility, higher resolution cameras providing clarity to read license plates, a wider field of view, and higher storage capacity.

There are many types of dashboard cameras, but they all have one common thread—they can greatly benefit the driver in cases of accidents, vandalism, and theft. The bottom line is a dash cam can help save thousands when dealing with unexpected insurance claims and can help hold responsible parties accountable for bodily injuries due to automobile accidents.


Can You Rely Solely on your Car’s Blind Spot Monitor? Not So Fast

05-08-19    

by Melanie Fahey

Along Interstate 71 northbound just last month, a lighted highway sign announced that the number of Ohio motorcycle traffic deaths last year was 141. It is common knowledge that lots of collisions resulting in injury and/or death to motorcyclists are related to an automobile driver’s failure to see or notice the motorcycle. That is why the “Look Out for Motorcycles” campaign is so important. But surely the introduction of newer, more sophisticated technology is making that problem ancient history, right?

Not necessarily.

blind-spotWhile it is true that many newer model vehicles come equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as blind-spot monitoring and alerts on side mirrors that could help a driver to see a motorcycle approaching, automobile drivers and motorcyclists alike may not realize the limitations of such systems. Blind spot monitoring technology uses sonar, lidar, or cameras to detect vehicles that are alongside or behind the driver’s automobile, even if that approaching vehicle may not appear in a side-view mirror. If an approaching or obstructing vehicle is detected, a warning light, a buzzer, or sometimes even a steering-wheel vibration is activated, depending on the make and model of the car. While these features improve the chances that a driver will avoid a collision, they are not perfect.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80% of drivers did not know the limitations of the technology or incorrectly believed that the technology could reliably detect cyclists. In reality, many blind-spot detection systems do not reliably detect cyclists. Even more alarming, 25% of drivers using blind-spot detection systems rely solely on these systems instead of performing visual checks for approaching traffic.

Automobile drivers with blind-spot monitoring technology must continue to perform visual checks to ensure the safety of the motorcycle riders who share the roadways. And motorcyclists must continue to be on guard by not lingering in a car’s blind spot and by preparing to drive defensively if a driver makes an improper lane change because of failure to spot the motorcycle.

Advances in technology create tools that can certainly improve safety for all motorists, but only when everyone understands these tools and how to use them properly.


Can I Fire my Lawyer?

03-20-19    

The rules that apply to Ohio lawyers say that a client can terminate their lawyer at any time. The lawyer must provide the client with the file and cooperate with the client’s new lawyer. The client will remain responsible to pay the lawyer for the work that has been done to the point the lawyer is fired.

Rule 1.16 of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility provides as follows:

(a) Subject to divisions (c), (d), and (e) of this rule, a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if any of the following applies:

(3) the lawyer is discharged.

Rule 1.16 goes on to say that once the lawyers is fired, the lawyer must do the following:

(d) As part of the termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps, to the extent reasonably practicable, to protect a client’s interest. The steps include giving due notice to the client, allowing reasonable time for employment of other counsel, delivering to the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and complying with applicable laws and rules. Client papers and property shall be promptly delivered to the client. “Client papers and property” may include correspondence, pleadings, deposition transcripts, exhibits, physical evidence, expert reports, and other items reasonably necessary to the client’s representation.

Also see Rule 1.16 of ABA model rules.


I Just Got Hit by a Car—What Should I Do?

03-18-19    

by John Rinehardt

Safety First

Don’t panic. Try to stay calm and evaluate your surroundings. If your air bags have deployed, the air inside your car will be cloudy with powder from the air bags. Many people think the airbag powder is smoke and then rush to get out of the car fearing their car is on fire. You should only get out of your car when it is safe to do so. As soon as you can, put on your four-way flashers to warn other drivers.

If your car has come to rest in a high traffic area and you are physically able, consider getting out of your car and getting safely to the berm or median while you wait for the police to get there.

Call the Police

Call 911 to alert the police. You should call even if you think someone else may have already called. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator until the police are sure they know your location. You should call even if the other driver suggests just exchanging insurance information instead of calling the police. Sometimes it takes the police a long time to get there and you might be tempted to leave—don’t, because having a police report is going to be important to prove what happened and make sure that you are treated fairly when you submit an insurance claim for your car and your injuries.

Tell the Other Driver not to Leave

assessing damaage after car accidentEven though you may not think you are hurt, you should tell the other driver that you have called the police and that they should stay until the police arrive. If the other driver starts to take off, try to take a quick photo on your phone of the license plate. Ohio law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident to stop and remain at the scene to provide his or her information to the police and the other driver. See Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02.

When the police get there, make sure the officer takes down your account of what happened and give the officer the names of any witnesses who you have talked to.

Ask anyone who stops to check on you to give you their names and phone numbers so that you can contact them if the other driver makes up a story about what happened. Many times, the driver at fault will apologize at the scene only to later tell his or her insurance company and the police a made-up version of what happened. Use your phone to take a bunch of pictures—of your car, the other driver’s car, and the scene of the crash. Your pictures may end up being important evidence. Remember no one at the scene is looking out for your interests except for you.

Get Medical Help

Even if you only feel shook up, you should get medical treatment at the emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible. After an accident, you are going to have a lot of adrenaline pumping, which may mask injuries. Lots of times you think you are okay, only to have serious pain later. You may have broken bones, an injury to a disc in your back or neck, a torn rotator cuff or tear of the labrum of the hip. Many of these serious injuries start off with relatively little pain. People with serious injuries often start out thinking it’s just a bruise or a minor strain.

After the emergency room or urgent care, if your pain gets worse, you must see your family doctor or go back to the emergency room because a more serious injury may have been missed at your first visit.

Contact the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

You can get the other driver’s insurance information from that police officer at the scene or from the accident report once it is completed. You should then call the other driver’s insurance company to set up your claim. When setting up the claim, only give basic information—your name, where it happened, where your car is now located—so that their adjuster can evaluate the damage.

The insurance company may try to record you while they ask you questions about what happened or what your injuries are. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance company is going try to get you to say something so it can put all or part of the blame for the accident on you. You shouldn’t let the insurance company record anything until you have spoken to a lawyer. The insurance company will pester you with calls and emails and even threaten not to pay your claim. Don’t cave in to these hardball tactics. The insurance company is just trying to increase its profits by trying to invent a reason not to pay your claim.

Get Legal Advice

The insurance company has lots of money and resources. When it is you against the insurance company it is not a fair fight. Contact a lawyer even if you are not sure it is necessary. An attorney specializing in accident cases will be able to stand up to the insurance company and look out for your best interests. A lawyer can make sure that you get paid for everything you are entitled to—things the insurance company won’t tell you about.

Ready to get Started?

We’re here to help you and your family get back on track after an accident. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.