December 2010 Archives

December 26, 2010

Crash In Dumfries Kills 3---Did the Airbags work properly?

There was a terrible car crash in Dumfries, VA on Christmas Day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed. Mr. Edwin Alexander Membreno-Potillo was driving a 2005 Nissan when it left the road and crashed into a building on Main Street in Prince William County, Virginia. The passengers in the vehicle were Roger Adalid Membreno and Jose Ernesto Mejia-Lopez. There have been allegations that Nissan vehicles built in 2005 had defective airbags. Since I do not know the make and model of the Nissan involved in this crash, and I do not know all of the facts surrounding the accident, I cannot say whether or not a product defect and/or airbag failure caused this tragedy. But it is something the family should look into. More information can be found at the National Highway and Traffic Safety Website.

If an airbag failure caused the deaths, then the families of those killed in the crash would have a cause of action against defendants for wrongful death and may be entited to damages.

December 23, 2010

Feinberg Treating Louisiana Fisherman Poorly

Today there was an excellent article in the Times Picayune about how Kenneth Feinberg and the GCCF are failing the fishermen in Louisiana. The article discusses how the GCCF has made ridiculously high claims payouts to people who did not necessarily deserve it, yet many fishermen who have been directly impacted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have not been compensated. Many fishermen who had valid claims have had their claim denied by the GCCF. Others have been paid significantly less than the amount of their losses despite strong documentation for their GCCF Emergency Payment Claim. The Times Picayune article recognizes that with the Louisiana shrimp season ending and the oyster harvesting severely restricted or non-existent, many fishermen, oystermen and crabbers in the Gulf Coast are becomeing desperate, experiencing financial hardship, and are running out of options. To see the article written by David Hammer, click here

The GCCF is consistant about one thing: They do not give any reasons or justifications for the decisions they make. The GCCF and Mr. Feinberg are impossible to communicate with. When GCCF representatives do finally call back, they do not leave a number where you can reach them. It is absolutely insane.

As an attorney working on these cases, I can tell you this: dealing with the GCCF is incredibly frustrating. We will continue to fight to make sure that our fishermen and osytermen clients and other clients are fully and fairly compensated for their losses:

WARNING----DO NOT SIGN A RELEASE WITH THE GCCF WITHOUT GOING OVER IT WITH A LAWYER. THE RELEASE WAIVES IMPORTANT LEGAL RIGHTS AND THE GCCF CLAIMS PROCESS DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY COMPENSATION FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, ETC.

If you need assistance with your GCCF oil spill claim, or if you are just fed up with the GCCF's nonsense and want to proceed with a lawsuit, call us at 888-213-8140.

If you are a fisherman, oysterman or waterfront business owner and you have not been treated fairly by the GCCF, then you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to assist you. It is important that your GCCF claim meet the Oil Pollution Act Presentment requirements so that you can file a lawsuit in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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December 23, 2010

Feinberg Treating Louisiana Fisherman Poorly

Today there was an excellent article in the Times Picayune about how Kenneth Feinberg and the GCCF are failing the fishermen in Louisiana. The article discusses how the GCCF has made ridiculously high claims payouts to people who did not necessarily deserve it, yet many fishermen who have been directly impacted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have not been compensated. Many fishermen who had valid claims have had their claim denied by the GCCF. Others have been paid significantly less than the amount of their losses despite strong documentation for their GCCF Emergency Payment Claim. The Times Picayune article recognizes that with the Louisiana shrimp season ending and the oyster harvesting severely restricted or non-existent, many fishermen, oystermen and crabbers in the Gulf Coast are becomeing desperate, experiencing financial hardship, and are running out of options. To see the article written by David Hammer, click here

The GCCF is consistant about one thing: They do not give any reasons or justifications for the decisions they make. The GCCF and Mr. Feinberg are impossible to communicate with. When GCCF representatives do finally call back, they do not leave a number where you can reach them. It is absolutely insane.

As an attorney working on these cases, I can tell you this: dealing with the GCCF is incredibly frustrating. We will continue to fight to make sure that our fishermen and osytermen clients and other clients are fully and fairly compensated for their losses:

WARNING----DO NOT SIGN A RELEASE WITH THE GCCF WITHOUT GOING OVER IT WITH A LAWYER. THE RELEASE WAIVES IMPORTANT LEGAL RIGHTS AND THE GCCF CLAIMS PROCESS DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY COMPENSATION FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, ETC.

If you need assistance with your GCCF oil spill claim, or if you are just fed up with the GCCF's nonsense and want to proceed with a lawsuit, call us at 888-213-8140.

If you are a fisherman, oysterman or waterfront business owner and you have not been treated fairly by the GCCF, then you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to assist you. It is important that your GCCF claim meet the Oil Pollution Act Presentment requirements so that you can file a lawsuit in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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December 21, 2010

Quick Justice for Maryland Car Accident Victims

I have good news to report. The Governor has signed the bill that we fought for last year which increases the jury demand threshold in Maryland District Court from $10,000.00 to $15,000.00. What does this mean for the typical Maryland car accident victim? It means that your lawyer should be able to get your case to trial faster and with less expense and headache. This is a good thing. Previously, the jury demand threshold was only $10,000.00 and if a maryland resident injured in a car crash filed a lawsuit in District court (asking for a quick bench trial instead of a full blown jury trial) asking for more than $10,000, the defendant's insurance company would typically demand a jury trial forcing the case to go to the Circuit Court, forcing expensive discovery and dragging out the entire legal process in a relatively minor car crash case. Now, plaintiff lawyers in maryland can file suit in District Court for up to $15,000.00 and get a quick bench trial without the expense of circuit court discovery without having to fear that the defendant's insurance company would jury demand. This is great news for Maryland accident victims. I am proud that we passed this legislation that helps Maryland car crash victims during my term as President of the Maryland Trial Lawyer's Association. Since the legislation involved a change to the Maryland Constitution (aka Maryland Declaration of Rights), the voters had to vote for or against hte change. The Maryland voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of the change and now the threshold at which point a defendant can demand a jury trial is $15,000.00. In other words, in Maryland, there is not a constitutional right to a jury trial in a civil case if the amount in controversy is less than $15,000.00.

December 15, 2010

My Gulf Oil Spill Claim Was Denied What Should I do Now?

The GCCF denied many claimants an emergency payment who are deserving of compensation. If your gulf oil spill emergency payment claim with the gccf was denied, or if the payment you received is too low, DON'T GIVE UP. There are numerous options still available to you. Even if your emergency payment claim was denied, a lawyer can help get the GCCF to re-evaluate your eligibility for compensation and get you significant interim payment or final payment. Claimants should not accept a final payment claim without consulting with a lawyer because if you accept a final payment claim you will be required to sign a very broad release that will release your right to any further compensation from BP and the other guilty parties in the Gulf Oil Spill. Most lawyers are willing to review the release with you for free and will explain the rights that you are giving up if you sign it.

The first option for those who were denied an emergency payment claim is to submit an interim payment claim. An Interim Payment Claim provides for past damages that have not yet been compensated. SO IF YOU WERE DENIED AN EMERGENCY PAYMENT CLAIM, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER HIRING A LAWYER TO HELP YOU GAIN ELIGIBILITY AND COMPENSATION. An interim payment claim is not a final payment claim and you will not be required to sign a release or give up any legal rights. The downside is that it will only pay for documented past damages and will not pay for any future damages. Our lawyers can help you with your interim payment claim and help you gain eligibility for compensation.

The second option is to submit a well documented final payment claim. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS---TO GET THE FINAL PAYMENT YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO SIGN A RELEASE. The Final Pyament claim, if accepted, will resovle your entire claim against BP and other responsible parties for the Gulf Oil Spill. If you were denied an emergency payment claim, the GCCF will reevaluate your eligibilty if you submit a final payment claim..

A third option was just announced this week. It is a Quick Final Payment Claim. It is available only to those claimants who already received an emergency payment (basically to those already deemed eligible for compensation). It is an expedited procedure where you can settle your individual claim for $5,000.00 or a business claim for $25,000.00. You will be required to sign a release. WE BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A RIPOFF FOR MOST CLAIMANTS AND IT IS ANOTHER ATTEMPT BY BP TO UNDERPAY THESE CLAIMS. BE CAREFUL! Do not take this option unless you have a full understanding of what you (or your business's) damages are and a full understanding of the legal rights you are giving up. Again, if you are considering this option, you should consult with an attorney as you would be required to sign a release giving up your legal rights.

REMEMBER---IF YOU SIGN A RELEASE--YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR FURTHER COMPENSATION FROM BP OR OTHER RESPONSIBLE PARTIES.

If you are considering your options, you should speak with an attorney (not a GCCF representative) who can explain all of this to you.

Another reason to hire a lawyer for your Gulf Oil Spill Claim is that in the event that you are unable to resolve your claim with the GCCF a lawyer can help make sure that the Oil Pollution Act's "Presentment" requirement is met. In order to file a lawsuit under OPA, your claim must be properly presented to the Responsible Party (BP). This requirement can most likely be met by filing with the GCCF but it needs to be done in the proper way such that all elements of the presentment requirement are met.

December 7, 2010

Tragic Deaths At Frostburg State Probably Could Have Been Prevented

On Friday morning there was a terrible fire in a housing apartment near Frostburg State in Maryland. Two individuals died as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Evan Kullberg and Alyssa Salazar who by all accounts were absolutely amazing individuals. Mr.Kullberg is from Montgomery County Maryland and Ms. Salazar is from Anne Arundel County Maryland.

Most of the time, when a fire like this occurs and people are injured or killed due to smoke inhalation it is due to the fact that the smoke detectors (required by law) either did not work or were not properly installed and/or because of other building code violations. This is usually the responsiblity of the landlord. The fire occurred at 82 E. Main Street. A properly functioning smoke detector would have saved these students lives. The landlord who owns the building---PJ Fiorita and Malino's Pizza shop would be responsible for the deaths and a lawsuit for negligence could be filed. The Maryland negligence and wrongful death claims would be proven by establishing that the premises did not meet the applicable fire code and building code through expert testimony, which would establish a standard of care that was violated (actually in Maryland, the violation of a code provision is only evidence of negligence. It is not negligence per se like it is in most other states). In a fire case it is really important to hire an attorney and/or independent investigator early on so that all evidence necessary to prove the case is preserved--and so that a proper investigation of what occurred can be done without having to rely on the local fire department's investigation which is ofen underfunded and sometimes even inaccurate and biased to keep local business owners and landlords out of hot water. It is also important that the families of those with a legal claim send out letters to the responsible parties, their insurance carriers and attorneys instructing them to preserve all evidence relating to the fire including any evidence of smoke detectors or other materials relating in any way to the fire.