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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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According to the most recent study by the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to over 1,345,500 fires in 2015 across the United States.  As a result of these fires, there were a total of 15,700 civilian injuries and 3,280 civilian deaths.  Additionally, fires in 2015 resulted in over $14.3 billion in direct property loss.  Of the 3,280 civilian deaths, 78% of these deaths occurred in the home.  Across the nation, a civilian died in a home fire every three hours and 25 minutes in 2015.  Of the 15,700 fire injuries reported, 71% of these injuries occurred in the home resulting in a fire related injury every 47 minutes across the U.S.

Unfortunately fires happen.  Tennessee currently ranks sixth in the nation for fire mortality rates.  In the most recent report by the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office, 60 fatal fires were recorded in 2015 that resulted in 72 deaths.  While the cause of most of the fires is unknown, it is believed that smoking, electrical work, heating units, and cooking led to the most structure fires in 2015.

Whether these fires were intentional, “acts of God,” or caused by the negligence of the property owner, everyone should know what avenues of recovery are available to them. Survivors of a fire may experience serious burn injuries, such as third degree burns.  If you are injured in a structure fire, you may have a claim against the homeowner’s insurance liability coverage on the property.  It is important to note that the cause of the fire is a very important factor when deciding whether a homeowner’s liability coverage will cover an injured party’s injuries.  Intentional acts by the owner and acts of God generally will not be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy.  However, if the owner acted negligently and a fire resulted, then you may have a valid claim against the owner’s policy.

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Who can imagine anything more nightmarish than having a family member or loved one killed, not by some unknown rogue assailant, but by the very people hired to protect the public? Many businesses that welcome customers hire private security companies to protect their property and customers from theft or attack. Although the vast majority of private security guards provide excellent protection and ensure an extra layer of safety to the public, situations can sometimes turn deadly when danger arises or guards are not being adequately trained and supervised. These situations are commonly referred to as inadequate or negligent security.

A night of holiday partying and merriment recently turned deadly at the O’Cielo Mexican Bar & Grill in Memphis, Tennessee, when shots rang out at the restaurant on December 14, 2016. News reports revealed that party attendees were shooting toward the bar when a private security guard, David Alexander, returned fire and hit two victims who were not the initial shooters. One of the victims, a 43-year-old man, died at the scene, and the other victim was critically injured. The security guard has since been arrested and charged with reckless homicide, aggravated assault, and acting as a guard without a license. The criminal case is currently pending before the Criminal Court of Shelby County, Tennessee.

When sudden catastrophic events arise, few people, amidst all of the grief and heartache, consider the full breadth of legal options for justice – justice that may extend beyond the criminal court realm. In civil court, loved ones of a deceased victim may have claims against the shooter or company that hired him under theories of agency, negligent hiring, or negligent training. Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one killed so tragically, many times the individual shooter does not possess sufficient assets to satisfy a wrongful death verdict in court. Thus, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation into the conduct of the business owner and/or private security company to gauge whether their conduct led to the loved one’s death.

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An event for teens in ended tragically in the death of two young men, ages 18 and 14, when shots rang out, just as parents were picking up their children from the event. A wrongful death lawsuit has since been filed, alleging claims ranging from negligence to inadequate security.

The shooting occurred outside of a business known Club Blu in Fort Myers, Florida. The club, which did not serve alcohol, was promoting and hosting events for teens. On the night in question, two young men died of gunshot wounds and sixteen others were injured, including children as young as 12 years old. Police have since arrested three suspects believed to be involved in the shooting.

Understandably, many of the victims and their families are now represented by attorneys and seeking compensation for their injuries. The men believed to have committed the crime, however, are not the only ones that may have legal responsibility for what happened that night.

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Generally speaking, four essential elements of negligence and hence most personal injury claims are:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of duty of care
  3. Causation of injury
  4. Damages

Damages may include medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, out of pocket expenses, and lost wages. In many car accident or personal injury claims, providing evidence of damages proves to be the most difficult element to satisfy, as physical and emotional damages may be difficult to measure and quantify into a dollar amount. However, economic or financial damages, such as lost wages, may be easier to calculate and document.
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The number of violent crimes committed every year is staggering. Despite being on a historical decline, nearly 1.2 million violent crimes were committed in the United States last year, according to the FBI’s annual report, Crime In The United States, 2015.

This number is even more troublesome when you consider that it represents only 5 types of crimes: murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Many states establish funds that assist victims and their families with some forms of compensation, such as paying for a limited amount of medical expenses. However, these funds often allow for a very limited recovery and typically don’t compensate victims for important types of damages, such as pain and suffering.

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Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury related death for adults 65 and older across the country? With the elderly population steadily growing along with the rate of high risk falls, it comes as no surprise that treatment costs for fall injuries are also on the rise. Just last year, Medicare paid over $31 billion to treat fall related injuries, with the average hospital cost averaging in at over $30,000.

These types of accidents are often commonly referred to as “slip and fall.” Unfortunately, many of these falls are the result of a property owner or management company failing to take proper precautions to keep their premises safe. Knowing this, it is only natural to wonder how many deaths or serious injuries could have been avoided had the property owner been more proactive.  The good news is statistics can change with action.  The bad news is many times prevention is only realized after an injury has occurred and bills have accumulated for hospital treatment, rehabilitation, prescriptions and maybe even nursing home care.  After treatment is completed, there is also the issue of whether there will be long term effects for the injured party and their family. The outcome of a slip and fall can be traumatic and life changing, which is why it is important to know what to do if you find yourself in this situation when there is so much at stake.

In Mississippi and many other states, property owners have a duty to invitees to exercise reasonable or ordinary care to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. In addition, if a property owner has knowledge of a dangerous condition on their property or should have knowledge that a dangerous condition exists, he has a duty to warn the invitee.  Problems arise when a property owner is either aware of a problem and does nothing to remedy the issue, or a property owner is unaware of a hazard because he failed to inspect the area within a reasonable period of time after the condition occurs. If either of these situations exists and someone is injured as a result, the property owner could be held liable for the injuries. Thus, victims may be able to assert premises liability claims against the property owner or manager.

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The holidays can bring out both the best and worst in people. Point in fact, multiple people were shot during Black Friday sales across America, including at two Tennessee malls. These four separate shootings happened outside of the stores.

In one of the Tennessee attacks, a 21-year-old was critically injured in front of Memphis’s Wolfchase Galleria Mall the night before Black Friday, and the mall had started sales a day early. A 19-year-old identified by witnesses allegedly fired multiple shots in the parking lot. He was arrested for the shooting, but it wasn’t clear what his motive was.

In a Chattanooga attack, two people were wounded outside the mall after a fight inside it on Friday afternoon. One suspect was brought into custody.

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Since 1975, the Social Security Administration has based any Social Security general benefit increases on whether there has been an increase in the overall cost of living. These general benefit increases are called a Cost-Of-Living Adjustment, also referred to as COLA. Social Security measures what that cost of living increase is by the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor and measures the average change over time in the price paid by urban households for a set of consumer goods and services. This seems simple enough; when we see enough of an increase in the cost of goods and services, Social Security Disability beneficiaries should see an increase in their benefits to help offset that increase, right? Wrong.

On October 18, 2016, Social Security announced that there will only be a 0.3% Cost-Of-Living adjustment.  Social Security beneficiaries will not see that increase in their checks until January 2017. More than 65 million Americans receive some type of Social Security benefit.  This is a significant percentage of our population that either rely on Social Security benefits for their entire income or to supplement their income. With an aging Baby Boomer generation, the number of Americans on Social Security Retirement is set to increase as the years go by.

This nominal cost of living increase should come as no surprise. Over the last 20 years, the cost of living increase has been over 2% only 4 times. You have to go all the way back to 1981 to find the last time the increase was greater than 10%. To put that in perspective, that is the same year the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was released and the number 1 single on the Billboard Year-End Chart was “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. It is fair to say much has changed since Social Security beneficiaries saw a meaningful increase in their Social Security benefits.

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