Articles by Scott Segal

You Might Have a Case, Even if the Law Wasn’t Broken.

When a law is broken, most of the time negligence was involved. So it’s natural for people to think that’s the only way they have a case. In fact, even if the law wasn’t broken, you could still have a case.   In coal mining cases and tractor-trailer cases, you’re inevitably going to find a law or regulation that was broken and the courts allow the breaking of that law to be introduced as evidence of negligence. But there are many types of negligence where no law was broken.   For instance, if a doctor or dentist commits malpractice, it means that a standard of care was breached. In other words, the doctor failed to do what a reasonably prudent doctor in the same or similar circumstance would have done.   Negligence is violating a standard that is accepted by common law. We see it a lot in car accidents. There could be rain or snow on the road and a driver knowingly continues to drive at a dangerous pace, causing an accident.  A reasonably prudent driver would have slowed down.  This type of negligence, if we can prove it, can be used in court.   You need an experienced …

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What is a Structured Settlement?

A structured settlement is a valuable way for injured clients to protect their settlements into the future. But it’s important that you have an experienced law firm to help guide you through the process, so that you can make informed decisions to protect you and your family.   Let’s say you lost a limb in an accident and the other side offers you a million dollars. You accept and decide to settle the case. At that point, we’ll explain to you a structured settlement. You can structure all or just part of your settlement. You might take three hundred thousand dollars to pay off debts and then put the rest of the seven hundred thousand into a structured settlement.   One of the biggest benefits of a structured settlement is that they are tax-free. That’s huge. When you put money into the stock market, you have to pay taxes on every dime you ear. If you put money in a CD or in a bank, you pay taxes on every dime of interest you earn. But with a structured settlement, you don’t pay taxes on the amount of growth you acquire for as long as you live.   It’s just …

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The Difference Between Mediation and Arbitration

Arbitration and mediation have a few similarities, but are actually very different. Mediation is a voluntary negotiation that occurs prior to a trial. Arbitration, on the other hand, is not voluntary and isn’t the preferred route for our clients at the Segal Law Firm.   Mediation Mediation involves an unbiased, disinterested party who has no stake in the outcome of the lawsuit. The mediator will basically go back and forth between the two sides to see if there is a number that can be agreed on voluntarily. The case can go to trial, if a number isn’t agreed by all parties.   Arbitration Arbitration is often agreed to at the onset of an agreement. For instance, labor unions have arbitration agreements in the event that their employers are fired or terminated for some reason. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t realize that there is an arbitration agreement and they don’t find out until they’ve been wronged.   In arbitration, one or three people will be selected by the sides to arbitrate. The arbitrators can be chosen in various ways. Generally, you start with a long list and scratch out people you don’t want until you arrive at the ones you do. Sometimes …

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What is Involved in Mediation?

In West Virginia, almost all judges require mediation before trial. It’s basically an attempt for both sides to work with an impartial party to try to agree on an amount of money that would be sufficient for the plaintiff.   Mediations can occur both early on and later in the case. Because we usually deal with very complex cases, ours at the Segal Law Firm tend to happen later in the case. We have to spend some time gathering the facts. What are you current and future medical bills? How much money have you lost in wages and how much will you lose moving forward? As soon as we get those types of numbers, we’ll want to mediate to see if we can help you settle and move on with your life.    So what does mediation look like? Both sides will choose a third party, a lawyer without bias. The mediator doesn’t care who wins and who loses; their role is solely to see if they can get the two sides to agree to a number. In one room will be the insurance company or corporate representatives of the entity responsible for hurting you. In the other room will …

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How Much is My Case Worth?

An honest lawyer should never tell a personal injury or wrongful death client how much a case is worth. That is up to the jury to decide. However, an experienced law firm will be able to give you a ballpark figure, based on what is recoverable in your case.   Lost Wages & Medical Bills Have you lost money from missing work? And can you expect to lose more moving forward? Those are damages that we can calculate. We can also determine how much you’ve spent on medical bills and, using a life care planner, figure out how much you’ll need for the rest of your life.   If you’re paralyzed or have lost a limb, what do you think your medical bills will look like thirty or forty years down the road? We have to look into the future to try and determine the compensation you’ll need.   Pain & Suffering Then we have to account for your emotional state. Your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and permanent scarring can be considered damages in West Virginia. There’s not specific number we can attribute to it, but because of our experience at the Segal Law Firm, we …

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How are Damages Calculated?

It’s crucial that the damages you collect from your lawsuit properly reflect the amount of compensation necessary for you to live out the rest of your life post-injury.  Only an experienced law firm will know the complex steps to take to ensure that happens.   Special Damages In West Virginia, there are two types of damages. The first, and possibly easiest to understand, are ‘special damages.’ These are damages that can be computed into an exact or range of numbers. For instance, we know what your medical bills have been so far, because we can get those from your doctors and hospitals.   But we also have to figure out your future medical costs. For that, we’ll need to use an expert witness called a life care planner. A life care planner will help us determine how much your future care will cost. Many people don’t realize that wheelchairs and prosthetic legs don’t last forever. You’ll need replacements and possibly multiples of both, depending on your lifestyle.   Once the life care planner’s report is done, it goes to someone called a forensic accountant, who computes how many dollars you will need to afford the rest of your life. We …

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When I File a Case, What’s Expected of Me?

When you file a case with the Segal Law Firm, we understand your number one priority is healing and getting protection for you and your family. That’s why we try to keep your time commitment to a minimum.   Your main job is going to be providing us with necessary information so we can find out how you got hurt. You also might need to collect documents for us; medical records, work history, canceled checks, and things like that.   You will be expected to spend some time either in the office or on the phone answering some questions for the other side, under oath and in writing. We’ll also need to get a deposition from you, which might take anywhere from two hours to a full day, although that long of a deposition is extremely rare. Usually, it’s a matter of hours.   You’ll then be asked to attend mediation. Most judges now require that both sides get together with a mediator, which is an impartial party, to see if the case can be settled. It could take a day of your time to do that. And, finally, if your case does go to trial, you’ll need to be …

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What is “Discovery”?

Discovery takes place in both state and federal court after your lawsuit is filed and before it’s tried in the courtroom. Deposition When a lawsuit is filed, both sides have the right to get answers from the other using a process called deposition, which is basically questioning under oath. When the other side questions you, you will always have one of our lawyers with you. Likewise, we are entitled to ask the person who hurt you, under oath and in writing, how and why the accident occurred. A case can involve depositions of the physicians who take care of you, and of your life care planner. A life care planner is the person who figures out what kind of care you’re going to need and how long you’ll need it. If you’ve lost wages or you will in the future, we can also depose a forensic expert to determine your financial needs. We’re also allowed to depose corporate representatives. For instance, maybe there’s an allegation that they failed to hire a properly qualified driver in a tractor-trailer case. We can depose that corporate rep, with a court reporter in the room, to find out why they failed to follow state …

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Experience Matters in a Catastrophic Injury Case

Every lawsuit has two parts to it. Liability– what happened and who is at fault? And damages– how badly are you hurt and how will that affect the rest of your life?   If your attorney doesn’t have enough experience with catastrophic injury cases, they won’t get you the amount of damages you need to live the quality of life you deserve.   Liability If you’re dealing with aviation, coal mining, certain train wrecks, or tractor-trailer wrecks, you’re probably going to work with an arm of the federal government. Along with that comes a whole load of complex regulations. You better have lawyer who understands those regulations inside and out.   Who messed up? Was the coalmine being managed improperly? Was the equipment maintained poorly? Was the tractor-trailer that hit you loaded incorrectly? An attorney with experience knows what regulations to use to prove to liability. And your lawyer will have to work with experts from all different types of industries to prove that liability to a jury.   Damages When it comes to damages, you might be thinking how complicated could that be? You’ve got some medical bills and some loss wages to recover. That’s it.   Well, sure, …

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What Qualifies as Negligence?

Legal terms are often thrown around without people knowing exactly what they mean. One of those terms is ‘negligence.’ There are three basic types of negligence that can lead to catastrophic injuries- active, passive and reckless.   Active Active negligence might be the easiest to understand. It’s doing an act that leads to someone being catastrophically injured. If someone passes a school bus that is stopped with its red lights on and runs over a child, this is an act of tragic, active negligence. The person knew what the law was and passed the bus anyway.   But it doesn’t always have to be breaking a law. For instance, a pharmacy might give out the wrong mix of drugs for a prescription that ends up killing or injuring a patient. Well, there’s no law that says the pharmacist has to double-check his or her work, but it’s an industry standard. By breaking that industry standard, the pharmacist committed active negligence.   Passive Passive negligence is not doing something that you know should do and that lack of action leads to a catastrophic injury. Let’s say you’re driving on a road that has a thirty-mile an hour speed limit. Well, what …

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