Pre-Existing Injuries and Worker’s Compensation Claims

Under Connecticut law, you can still have a compensable Worker’s Compensation claim to a body part you have previously injured.

Connecticut law only requires a work incident or work activity to be “a substantial contributing factor” in order for it to be considered a viable Worker’s Compensation injury.  There is no requirement that the work incident or activity be the sole or only contributing factor.

An incident or work activity is considered to be a “substantial contributing factor” if it contributes to an injury in more than a minimal way.  This means that if a work incident or work activity increases or worsens a prior injury or condition by a discernable amount, it would a viable Worker’s Compensation injury.

Unsurprisingly, insurance companies frequently contest claims where the injured worker has a prior injury or condition.  For this reason, it is usually advisable to obtain a lawyer to help pursue a claim when prior injuries exist.

Dog Injury Cases in Connecticut

In Connecticut, the owner or keeper of a dog is strictly liable for injuries caused by his or her dog.  This means that the dog’s owner will be responsible for any harm caused by his or her dog regardless of whether they were negligent, with a few, limited exceptions.

The relevant statute is Connecticut General Statutes §22-357.  This law establishes strict liability on the part of a dog “owner or keeper” for injuries caused by his or her dog except when the injured individual “was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog.”

What is a “keeper”?

For purposes of this law, a “keeper” is a person who treats the dog as living at his or her house and is responsible for the dog’s actions.  In other words, the person who takes care of the dog.

What exceptions apply?

The owner or keeper of the dog will not be responsible for injuries caused by the dog, if the injured person was

  1. Trespassing on the property where the injury occurred; or
  2. Teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.

The Courts have defined “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” to mean conduct, without justification, which would naturally antagonize or irritate the dog and cause it attack.  Petting and friendly playing do not rise to the level of “teasing, tormenting, or abusing”.

When the person injured is a child below the age of 7, it is presumed that the child was not “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog.

What types of injuries does this apply to?

Although commonly referred to as the “dog bite statute”, this law applies to any injury caused by a dog engaging in vicious or mischievous conduct.  This includes instances where a person is knocked over by a dog or injures themselves while trying to get away from a dog.  However, the owner of the dog is not responsible if the dog’s behavior is “passive, innocent or involuntary.”

For example, in Coppedge v. Travis, a dog’s owner was responsible for injuries sustained by a woman who tripped and fell while trying to avoid an unleased dog running in her direction.  Here, the injured woman was allowed to recover for her injuries although the dog never made contact with her.  See Coppedge v. Travis, 187 Conn. App. 528, 537, 202 A.3d 1116, 1122 (2019).

By contrast, in Atkinson v. Santore, the plaintiff was not allowed to recover when she was exposed to dogs who had been near a rabid raccoon.  See Atkinson v. Santore, 135 Conn. App. 76, 84, 41 A.3d 1095, 1100 (2012).

Unlike some other states, Connecticut does not require that the owner of the dog be aware of a dog’s dangerous behavior or propensity to bite.

Landlord Liability

A landlord can be found to liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog on the rental property if the landlord permits a tenant to keep a dog known to have vicious tendencies.  This is not strict liability and does not involve Connecticut General Statutes §22-357.

In order to successfully bring a claim against a landlord, it must be shown that the landlord knew that a dog being kept on the rental property had vicious tendencies.  In these cases, a vicious dog is treated similarly to any other defective  or dangerous condition, such as a broken step or crumbled concrete.

 

Snow Law 101

As the snow continues to pile up, let us take a moment to review some of the law relating to snow and ice removal in Connecticut.

Under Connecticut law, a landowner has an obligation to remove or otherwise treat dangerous accumulations of snow and ice from his or her property.  It is well established that the landowner’s obligation to remove snow or ice does not begin until after a reasonable period has passed following the end of the storm.  This means that a landowner may not be liable to an injured party who falls on snow or ice on their property during a storm.  This is commonly referred to as the “ongoing storm” doctrine.

In some instances, it may be possible for a person injured during the course of a storm to bring a claim against a landowner if it can be shown that the injury was caused by an older accumulation of snow or ice not related to the ongoing storm.

The obligation to perform snow removal is known as a “nondelegable duty”.  This means that the landowner cannot avoid responsibility an injury caused by snow and ice merely because they had assigned the responsibility of snow removal to another party.  In an instance where a snow removal company has failed to perform its responsibilities, an injured person likely has a claim against both the landowner and the snow removal company.

Responsibility for snow and ice removal on public sidewalks is governed by local ordinances.  For example, §99.56(C) of the Waterbury City Ordinances reads:

(C)   The owner or person in possession and control of land abutting a public sidewalk shall have a duty of exercising reasonable care to keep the sidewalk free of dangerous conditions caused by the accumulation of ice or snow thereon and shall be liable to any person who sustains injury to self or property where a breach of the duty is the proximate cause of the injury.

Most Connecticut cities and towns similarly place responsibility for snow removal of public sidewalks on the owner of the abutting property.  Your own town likely has a specific ordinance relating to snow removal on public sidewalks.  These ordinances usually provide details regarding how long an abutting property owner has to remove dangerous snow and ice conditions.  You are encouraged to review them on your city or town’s website.

Top Ten Legal Movies In The Last 50 Years

1.My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Joe Pesci plays a brash Brooklyn lawyer who only recently passed the bar exam on his 6th try. He is representing his cousin and friend who are arrested for murder after stopping at a convenience store in Alabama.

2. Marshall (2017)
Chadwick Bosman plays Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice on the Supreme Court. The movie follows Marshall who travels around the country defending blacks he believes were unjustly
charged with criminal offenses.

3. Philadelphia (1993)
Tom Hanks is a gay attorney who claims his law firm fired him because he contracted AIDS. Tom Hanks hires Denzel Washington to represent him.

4. The Verdict (1982)
Paul Newman is a washed-up lawyer who is referred a medical malpractice case and sees it as one last chance to save his career.

5. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts is a paralegal who investigates illegal dumping of highly toxic chemicals which turns into one of the largest class action lawsuits in U. S. History.

6. A Civil Action (1998)
A small plaintiff’s firm in Boston sues a major corporation whose tannery is responsible for the leukemia related deaths of eight children. John Travolta is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs and Robert Duvall is the attorney for the Defendant.

7. A Few Good Men (1992)
Tom Cruise is a high energy Navy JAG attorney of a military courtroom trial. Two marines are court martialed for the death of another marine as part of an unofficial punishment known as “code red.” The two marines testify they were following orders. The marine commander played by Jack Nicholson testified they acted on their own.

8. Michael Clayton(2007)
George Clooney plays a “fixer” attorney at a big law firm where he cleans up messes no one wants to touch and deals with ethically questionable clients.

9. The Paper Chase (1973)
The movie is about the demanding environment of Harvard Law School.

10. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Matthew McConaughey is hired to defend a wealthy real estate mogul who is accused of assaulting a prostitute.

Remedies Available to Injured Delivery Workers

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for delivery services.  The increase of packages delivered this time of the year means that workers doing delivery work are more active than at any other time.  With this increased business, extra hours, and additional stops come an increased risk of injury.

Any employee who is injured during the course of working for a delivery service will likely have multiple legal remedies available.

Workers’ Compensation

First and foremost, an injured employee will be able to bring a Workers’ Compensation claim against their employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance company.  Even seasonal employees can bring Workers’ Compensation claims.  A Workers’ Compensation claim will help to pay for medical treatment and pay for lost wages if a worker is unable to return to work.

Third-party claims

In addition to a Workers’ Compensation claim, there may also be the possibility of a third-party lawsuit.  This would be a civil lawsuit against the party responsible for the injury.  These types of cases provide compensation for injuries not included in Workers’ Compensation claims.  Specifically, a civil lawsuit will provide compensation for pain and suffering.  Third party lawsuits that may arise from delivery work may include, but are not limited to:

Dog bite claims

Under Connecticut law, the “keeper” of a dog is responsible for any injury caused by his or her dog.  While these claims are frequently called “dog bite” claims, they may include scenarios where no bite actually occurs.  This includes scenarios where a dog knocks someone over.

Premises liability claims

In instances where a delivery worker is injured because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, they may have a claim against the property owner.  Dangerous conditions frequently faced by delivery workers this time of year include:

-uncleared or untreated snow and ice

– broken stairs

– uneven walkways, driveways, and stairs

Auto claims

Increased deliveries mean increased driving.  If a delivery worker is injured in a motor vehicle collision that is someone else’s fault, the worker will have the ability to bring a lawsuit against the other driver.

 

What To Do When: You Get Injured In a Fall

WHAT TO DO WHEN:

Over the next several months, we will issue a series of articles called “What To Do When”. This series is intended to help explain important steps that can be taken to protect yourself and your rights in the event of an injury or accident.

 

This month, what to do when:

 

You get injured in a fall

  1. Take notice of what caused your injury!

While it may be difficult in the moments immediately after an injury, it is important to notice what caused you to fall and injure yourself. Ask, what did I just slip on? What did I just trip on?

In a lawsuit for a fall, you must be able to specify exactly which defective condition caused your injury.

If possible, take a picture of what caused you to fall.

 

  1. Report your injury

It is important to notify the owner of the property that you injured yourself on their property. This may mean speaking with a store manager, a property manager, or a home owner.   If available, complete an incident report.

Do not wait to report the incident.

 

  1. Seek medical attention

As was discussed in last month’s motor vehicle collision breakdown:

Once the issue has been reported, it is important to seek medical attention. This is important for several reasons. First and foremost, if you are injured, getting prompt medical attention is the first step towards resolving your injury. Secondly, medical records generated by your medical treatment will document your injury.

Keeping in mind, be sure to give your medical treater an accurate history of how the injury occurred. If you were injured in a fall, it is important to tell them that you were injured in a fall! This is especially important if your fall incident was not witnessed. In a fall without a witness, the medical reports may be the first record of the incident.

 

  1. Consult a lawyer

 

Obtaining the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney early in the process can help to assure that you are taking the necessary actions. Depending on where you fell, there may be time specific notice requirements. This means that you would need to file documents with a town or state within a certain time period in order to preserve your legal rights to pursue a claim.

A lawyer can also help you to field calls from insurance companies and seek medical treatment.

What To Do When: You Get Injured At Work

WHAT TO DO WHEN:

 

Over the next several months, we will issue a series of articles called “What To Do When”.  This series is intended to help explain important steps that can be taken to protect yourself and your rights in the event of an injury or accident.

This month, what to do when….
You get injured at work

 

1.Report Your Injury

 

The single most important step you can take to protect yourself when you get injured on the job is to report the injury in a timely manner.  You should be sure to know your employer’s procedure for reporting an injury.  You may be required to complete an accident report or give a recorded statement.  While these requirements may seem cumbersome, it is actually a good thing.  Accident reports and recorded statements will help to prevent an insurance company from denying that an incident occurred.

 

Do not wait to report your injury!  Many of our cases involve injured workers who waited before reporting an injury.  This occurs for various different reasons.  Sometimes, the injured person may feel that his or her injury is not serious and will resolve on its own.  Simply put, at the time that an injury happens, especially when dealing with a back injury, it is difficult to tell how serious or lasting the injury may be.  Its better to report an incident as soon as possible and have it turn out to not be serious than to wait and end up having to report the work accident days or weeks later.  Insurance companies are always suspicious of late reporting!  Don’t give an insurance company the tools they need to deny your valid claim!  

 

Timely reporting is especially important if you are working alone.  

 

2.  Seek Medical Attention

 

Once the issue has been reported, it is important to seek medical attention.  This is important for several reasons.  First and foremost, if you are injured, getting prompt medical attention is the first step towards resolving your injury.  Secondly, the medical records generated by your medical treatment will document your injury.

 

Keeping this in mind, be sure to give your medical treater an accurate history of how the injury occurred.  If you were injured at work, it is important to tell them that you were injured at work.  This is especially important if you are receiving initial medical treatment at an emergency room or urgent care facility that does not exclusively treat work related injuries.

 

Your employer may refer you to an occupational health facility.  This is OK.  Do not think that you will be required to receive all of your treatment at this type of a facility if you agree to go for an initial evaluation.  These facilities can be helpful ways to obtain quick medical attention to address a work injury.  It is also important to know that you have the right to choose your own specialist, subject to some limitations.  For questions on this issue, you should ask an attorney.  

 

3.  Call a Lawyer

 

Obtaining the assistance of an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney early in the process can help to assure that you get off on the right track.  They will make sure to assist you in filing the necessary paperwork to initiate your claim, call the insurance company on your behalf, direct you patient-oriented medical providers and answer any questions you may have about how the Workers’ Compensation system functions. 

Why Get a Personal Injury Lawyer?

How an Attorney from The Dodd Law Firm, LLC, Can Assist me in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

1. Report Economic Damages: A Plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuits may pursue compensation for economic damages like lost wages, medicals bills and out of pocket expenses. As long as you send relevant receipts and invoices to our law firm, we will report all such damages on your behalf so that you can focus on getting better.

2. Evaluate Non-Economic Damages: A Plaintiff is also entitled to seek money for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life and emotional distress. Those damages are intangible. They are not accompanied by any documentation. An attorney at our firm will assist in quantifying your non-monetary losses.

3. Communicate with the Claims Adjuster: Our firm would correspond with the claims adjuster and advise them of lost wages, medical bills, medical treatment, medical appointments and out of pocket expenses.

4. Investigation: Our firm will conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. This would include interviewing witnesses to the accident as well visiting as the scene. We will retain and consult the experts. Testimony from experts may help your claim. As a example, if you were injured in an automobile accident, an accident reconstruction expert can advise us as to what probably happened in the crash. If you sustained a back injury, a neurosurgeon can discuss the ways in which your injury/condition will likely affect the quality of your life in the future.

5. Prepare the case for Trial: Even though most personal injury lawsuits are settled before jury selection, there is always the chance that your case will go to trial. If this were to happen, our firm will be prepared to try the case.

COVID-19 Executive Order

On Friday, July 24th, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order relating to Workers’ Compensation benefits for essential workers who contracted COVID-19.  According to this order, essential workers, as defined by a prior executive order, who contracted COVID-19 between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020 are presumed to have contracted the virus through work so long as they worked outside their home within two weeks of becoming sick.  This order puts the burden on insurance companies to show that a sick worker did not contract the virus through work activities.

This Executive Order should help essential workers who contracted COVID-19 to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits without having to prove they were exposed to the virus through work.

Other workers who contracted the virus outside of the time period listed above may still bring a claim for benefits related to COVID-19 infection, but would need to prove the infection occurred from work activities.

If you or someone you know was required to continue working through the pandemic and contracted COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss bringing a Workers’ Compensation claim.

The full language of the Executive Order can be found here:  https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7JJJ.pdf

 

 

Why you should not hire an attorney you see advertised all over buses, billboards, etc.

Why you should not hire an attorney you see advertised all over buses, billboards, etc.

It has been over 40 years since Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down bans on commercial advertising by Attorneys. Bates is a landmark case that paved the way for the current overabundance of personal injury lawyers who run continuous television ads and have their pictures on billboards and on the side of buses all over the country. Consumers are overwhelmed with these ads on a daily basis and they are often the first attorneys that personal injury victims call when they are looking for legal representation.

There are many reasons you probably should not hire that attorney you see advertised all over the place and here are a few reasons why:

1. You probably will never actually speak with the Attorney you are attempting to hire.

2. Many times, the lawyer you see if just a figure head for the firm. The chances are pretty good that they are not trying cases themselves and the chances are also pretty good that they will never see or work on your case.

3. Many times, people who hire a widely advertised lawyer will not actually ever interact with an attorney. They will be forced to always talk to paralegals.

At the Dodd Law Firm, LLC you will meet with a lawyer and have a face to face conversation the first time you come in to visit with us for a free consultation. We strive to make every client feel like their case is important. Recommendations from former clients are the main sources of our new cases. This is one of the reasons you will not see our picture on the side of a bus or on a billboard anytime soon.

Often, lawyers who are heavily advertised are just trying to get as many simple “ordinary” cases as possible so then they are can get the best return on their investment (by investing as little time as possible). They are not proactive as they develop a strategy for the clients to get them the settlement/compensation that they deserve.

Handling a high quantity of cases does not equate to a high-quality lawyer.

The simple matter is that lawyers who get the best results and settlements in a trial are the ones who have a proven track record of actually trying cases. Those lawyer are the ones who are willing and able to put in the work, invest their time, and go to bat for their clients. Many attorneys, especially those who rely on a high volume of cases for their revenue simply are not willing to do that.

Consumers cannot always trust what they see on advertisements either. While the Dodd Law Firm is certainly interested in taking on your personal injury case we are more concerned about individuals getting the best possible representation for their claim. Hiring a personal injury attorney should be seen as an investment and you should do your due diligence and decide who you would like to represent you.

At The Dodd Law Firm, LLC you can view a summary of each of our attorney’s credentials and can see an ongoing list of our case results. Our firm website is http://www.doddlawfirmct.com.