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Who is to Blame When a Child is Injured in a Playground Accident?

If your child was injured in a playground accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for their medical bills and other costs.

A visit to the playground offers children a chance for a fun day outside. Unfortunately, these visits sometimes end with a trip to the emergency room.

Studies have shown that more than 200,000 children in the United States go to the hospital each year with injuries sustained on the playground, such as concussions or severe lacerations. Broken bones resulting from a fall are the most common injury, and the majority of those injured are ages nine and under.

If your child was injured in a playground accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for their medical bills and other costs. These claims can be very complex, and a skilled attorney can provide helpful assistance. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the legal issues that may arise from a playground injury.

Premises liability

Playgrounds can be found at numerous different places, including schools, parks, day care centers, campgrounds, churches, and private homes. No matter who owns the playground, they have a responsibility to keep it safe. A claim against someone in control of a playground must demonstrate that the defendant failed to make sure the playground was reasonably safe to use. An injury may be caused, or worsened, by the following conditions on the premises:

Poor maintenance

The playground owner has a duty to regularly inspect it for any potential safety issues, such as broken equipment or unsafe surfaces. They also have a responsibility to repair these problems in a reasonable amount of time. If the property owner fails to take these steps, they can be held responsible.

Lack of hazard warnings

When a playground hazard is present, the playground owner must take steps to keep visitors away from it until it can be addressed. If they don’t take reasonable steps to warn others, such as putting up barriers or signs, they can be held liable for injuries resulting from the hazard.

Inadequate safety and security measures

The playground owner must take steps to ensure that the premises are safe and secure, especially if there are known issues at the site. Precautionary steps might include putting up fencing to prevent children from walking into a nearby street or installing lights if the playground can be used in the evening.

Products liability

You may also be able to file a claim against those responsible for designing, manufacturing, or constructing the playground. A products liability claim can be filed if one of the following scenarios occurred: 

The playground is poorly designed or constructed

Playgrounds must be designed to endure various weather conditions and heavy use. They must also include adequate safety features and be appropriately designed for a specific age range. If there was a design flaw that made the playground inherently unsafe, it can contribute to injuries. If a defective product causes injury, a product seller may be responsible for damages.

Even if a playground is properly designed, errors or flaws in the production process can create unsafe conditions that contribute to injuries. If a manufacturer becomes aware of such a defect, they must issue a timely recall notice and provide proper notification to make the playground owner aware of any potential hazards. Manufacturers can also be held liable if they use substandard materials or other practices that compromise the safety of the playground.

Errors in the construction or installation of a playground can also contribute to injuries. These might include structural instability, loose components, and the exposure of sharp fasteners like screws and bolts.

Regulatory non-compliance

Playgrounds must comply with safety standards and regulations governing playgrounds. These standards can include federal, state, or local codes. Any parties that don’t abide by these standards can be held liable if this non-compliance is a substantial factor in causing an injury.

Failure to warn

Playground equipment usually includes labels warning visitors about certain inherent risks in using the playground. If the manufacturer fails to provide adequate information about potential safety risks, they can be held liable for an injury.

Negligent supervision

Parents have a duty of care to supervise their children at playgrounds, look out for potential hazards, and take reasonable steps to prevent injuries. This duty also extends to adults who supervise children “in loco parentis,” or in place of the parents, such as teachers and day care staff.

The playground owner can be held liable if a staffer did not properly supervise children using the playground. Negligent supervision may include not addressing a safety hazard, failing to stop dangerous behavior, or being absent or distracted when the injury occurs. It can also include the failure of the playground owner to hire qualified staff, maintain adequate staffing levels, provide proper training, or establish proper policies and procedures.

Negligent supervision can sometimes be challenging to prove, as the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to act reasonably and did not provide an adequate standard of care. This factor can also be less applicable in claims involving older children, who are generally expected to exercise better judgment and not require close supervision.

Other considerations

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, several other issues can come into play when a child is injured on a playground. These might include:

Governmental immunity

Publicly owned playgrounds, including those at schools or parks, have greater protection from legal claims due to government immunity. This protection aims to prevent legal actions against government entities. However, there are certain exceptions to this immunity, which must be investigated to defeat a governmental immunity defense.

Trespassing

There may be clear signs indicating that a playground is not used at certain times, such as after sunset or outside of school hours. If an injury occurred outside of these hours, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was trespassing and therefore not owed the same duty of care owed to users during normal hours. However, property owners are still responsible for keeping the property in good repair and owe a greater duty of care to children (see below).

Attractive nuisance precautions

Property owners must take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm children may suffer due to property features that may attract children. For example, the owner of a private playground has a duty of care to put up fencing or other deterrents to prevent its unsupervised use.

Shared fault

A defendant may argue that you share some of the fault for your child’s injury. For example, if a child is injured due to unsafe equipment but you were not supervising them at the time they were hurt, the defendant can argue that you were partially to blame. This can result in a reduction in the award received in a settlement or verdict.

Let’s review your case

Personal injury claims involving playground injuries can be complex. If your child has been injured in a playground accident, the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers will sit down with you to discuss the circumstances of the accident and how you might proceed with a claim, and conduct the needed investigation to pursue a claim. Contact us online or call 860.886.8845 to set up a free consultation.

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Is a Driver Liable if a Car Crash Occurs on an Icy Road?

If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid.

Winter weather conditions can sometimes make for a scary driving experience. Snow, ice, or slush might create slippery road surfaces, which can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and crash.

Icy roads can also complicate motor vehicle accident claims. If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid. The condition of the road can also be a factor in determining whether a driver was at fault in an accident, and hence, whether insurance will pay for all damages caused in a crash.

The attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers are skilled in handling motor vehicle accident claims of all kinds, including motor vehicle accidents that occur in winter weather. Here are a few factors that commonly come up in these types of claims.

Negligent driver behavior

When you get behind the wheel, you owe a duty of care to drive responsibly — not only for your own safety but for the safety of everyone else on the road. When hazardous conditions are present, this means you must reduce your speed and otherwise use extra caution to reduce the chances of an accident.

For this reason, motor vehicle accident claims primarily focus on the behavior of each driver rather than the road conditions at the time of a crash. Drivers are expected to be aware of any hazards the weather might create — many vehicles even issue a warning that ice might be present when they are started on days with freezing temperatures — and respond accordingly.

If you are involved in an accident with another driver who was not exercising due caution at the time of the crash, they can be held liable for your injuries. Some examples of negligent behavior include:

  • Driving too fast for conditions: During hazardous conditions, drivers are expected to slow down to travel at a safe speed — even if their vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, snow tires, or other features to help them navigate winter weather. Drivers who travel too fast for conditions may not be able to safely stop on a slippery road.
  • Following too closely: Drivers must always maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them so they can stop, if necessary. During slippery conditions, drivers are expected to increase this following distance to account for reduced traction. 
  • Inadequate maintenance: A driver’s duty of care includes keeping their vehicle in safe working condition. Certain maintenance issues, such as tires and brakes, will make it more difficult for a driver to operate their vehicle and avoid a crash in icy conditions.
  • Failing to take other precautions: A driver might be held liable if they do not take other proper precautions in poor weather conditions, such as using their headlights during low visibility conditions and clearing their windshield of snow and ice.

Factors that limit a driver’s liability

In some cases, a court may decide that a crash resulted from the inherent risks of driving in hazardous weather during the winter, not negligence on a driver’s part. Even if a driver is found to be negligent in a crash, certain factors can limit their liability. These include:

  • Unpredictable hazards: If a driver encounters something unusual on a road with little or no warning, they may be able to argue that they did not have adequate time to respond to the hazard. 
  • Reasonable driving behaviors: A driver may be able to show that the accident occurred even though they were taking the necessary precautions, such as reducing their speed.
  • Uncontrollable sliding: Some circumstances, such as a severe ice buildup and sloped roads, can cause vehicles to slide uncontrollably. This can be considered a mitigating factor that reduces a driver’s liability in a crash.

Third-party liability

On public roadways, it is the duty of the state or municipal government to keep the road reasonably clear of snow and ice in order to permit safe travel. They are also responsible for the upkeep of features that can improve road safety and reduce accident severity, such as streetlights and barriers that separate the road from a steep slope. 

Governments typically have immunity protections against certain lawsuits, on the principle that excessive litigation could impede the government’s ability to provide services. However, municipal or state governments can still be held liable if they fail to properly maintain a road. 

For example, you might show that a town’s public works department failed to sand and salt the road despite adequate warning of potential icing, or that they did not respond to icy conditions in a timely manner. You can also argue that inadequate maintenance of safety features contributed to a more severe accident.

If the crash occurred on a private road, you may be able to file a claim against the entity responsible for maintaining the road. Certain other factors will also affect liability for motor vehicle accidents on private roads, such as contractual agreements between a homeowners association and the party responsible for the upkeep of the road.

Let’s review your case

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can help. We’ll review the circumstances of your accident and help you get the settlement or verdict you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 860.886.8845 to set up a free consultation.

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Winter Slip and Fall Accidents Are Common. When Are They Grounds for a Personal Injury Claim?

Even though falls occur frequently in the winter, you’ll still have grounds for a personal injury claim if another person’s negligence contributed to your accident.

Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of taking a tumble during the winter. Snow and ice create more slippery surfaces, making it more likely that you’ll lose your footing. 

Slipping and falling is so common in wintertime that people may consider it a normal part of the season. Yet these incidents can also lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones or traumatic brain injuries, that result in lost wages and expensive medical bills.

Even though falls occur frequently in the winter, you’ll still have grounds for a personal injury claim if another person’s negligence contributed to your accident. However, numerous factors also go into determining liability in a winter slip and fall case, including the property owner’s responsibilities, the injured person’s actions, and the inherent risks of winter weather.

When you have grounds for a personal injury claim

The property owner failed to remove ice and snow

Property owners have a duty of care to keep the premises reasonably safe for visitors. During the winter, that means inspecting areas such as walkways, driveways, and parking lots for snow and ice, and then taking steps to remove it. Although public sidewalks are considered municipal property, local ordinances and statutes typically put the responsibility for snow and ice removal on the abutting property owner. Commercial property owners also have a duty to anticipate inclement weather and prepare accordingly, in addition to maintaining the property after a weather event.

The property owner negligently maintained their property

If a property owner does not maintain their property well, it can lead to hazards such as leaking roofs, improperly draining gutters, or poor drainage. These conditions can cause water to pool and freeze in areas where visitors might walk, increasing the risk of a slip and fall accident. Property owners can also directly create hazards through negligent behavior, such as emptying water onto a nearby sidewalk and allowing it to freeze.

The property owner failed to warn you about the hazard

A property owner can — and should — put up signs or barriers warning people about slippery conditions they know to exist. If the property owner does not take this step, they can be held liable if someone is injured on the property.

When you might not have a claim

The property owner wasn’t negligent

Property owners are not expected to remove every last speck of snow and ice from their property, only to make a reasonable effort to address the hazard. A court may determine that the property owner did their due diligence but that inherently dangerous conditions still remained.

Similarly, property owners are not expected to clear snow and ice as soon as it appears; rather they must address the hazard within a reasonable amount of time. If you slipped and fell while walking during a winter storm, for example, a property owner can’t be held liable because they aren’t expected to clear their property until after this weather has subsided (this is known as the “ongoing storm doctrine”).

Property owners can also sometimes limit, or even eliminate, their liability if they demonstrate that they quickly addressed a hazard once it was reported to them.

You share the blame for your injury

Comparative negligence is an affirmative defense that typically acknowledges that the defendant bears some responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries, but also argues that the plaintiff is partially to blame due to their own negligent actions. For example, the defendant in a winter slip and fall case might argue that the plaintiff was wearing improper footwear or failed to see the hazard because they were distracted at the time.

If the court determines that you were primarily responsible for your injury (at least 51 percent to blame), you won’t be able to recover damages. If the defendant was primarily to blame, you’ll still be able to file a claim but comparative negligence will reduce the damages you’ll be able to recover.

You slipped and fell on public property

Government entities generally have greater protection against lawsuits. This will limit your ability to file a claim if you slipped and fell at a location such as a government building, public park, or a sidewalk maintained by a municipality.

However, it is still possible to file a claim against a government entity if you follow certain procedures and abide by timelines, and if you can make the case that the government was negligent in its duty of care.

Let’s review your case

If you have been injured in a winter slip and fall accident, the experienced attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can help you with your personal injury claim. Contact us online or call us at 860.886.8845.

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Why Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer is Better Than Representing Yourself in Court

People may choose to represent themselves in court because they want full control over their case. But representing yourself can be very problematic.

There are millions of people who take a “do it yourself” attitude toward home improvement, but the DIY approach is surprisingly common in the courts as well. According to the Self-Represented Litigation Network, approximately 60 percent of people in civil claims go to court without a lawyer.

People may choose to represent themselves (known as appearing pro se) because they want full control over their case, worry that hiring an attorney will be too expensive, or fear that an attorney will get the bulk of the award in a settlement or verdict. But just as a DIY home improvement job can turn into a disaster if you don’t have the proper knowledge, representing yourself in court can be very problematic.

Here’s why working with the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can be more beneficial than handling a claim by yourself.

Not every pro se claim can, or should, go to court.

You cannot represent yourself when filing a claim on behalf of a business or child, or when representing a class in a class action lawsuit. These types of claims all require representation by an attorney.

Pro se plaintiffs may have trouble looking at their claim objectively. If you’ve been injured in an accident and believe it was due to the negligence of another party, you’ll naturally believe you have a legitimate claim. However, not every personal injury provides grounds for a claim. A personal injury attorney can take an objective look at the circumstances of your case to see if you have a case.

Attorneys have the expertise to handle your claim

You have the right to represent yourself in court, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. While the state provides resources to assist pro se litigants, even these guides can be imposing — such as the densely worded 21-page guide for self-represented litigants from the U.S. District Court of Connecticut or the 129-page manual on electronic filing from the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

Personal injury claims are complex; even knowing where to file, or whom to file a claim against, can be a tricky matter. Pro se plaintiffs also need to be aware of matters like court procedures, case law, and legal precedents. They’re more likely to make mistakes, which could easily lead to the dismissal of their case — especially if the opposing party is represented by a skilled attorney.

Pro se plaintiffs must undertake the entire process themselves; judges and court clerks are not allowed to give them any legal advice. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you’ll be represented by someone who is knowledgeable in the law and will argue on your behalf.

Attorneys take on the hard work involved in a claim

Handling a personal injury claim is complicated. Some of the steps involved in a typical claim include investigating the legal claims, gathering evidence like witness statements and medical records, preparing legal briefs, and filing motions. Anyone representing themselves in court must also be willing to make all necessary appearances before a judge. If the claim goes to trial, they’ll need to take on tasks like jury selection, delivering arguments, and questioning witnesses.

Handling a personal injury claim is also expensive. The average plaintiff also has limited time and resources to argue a claim – especially if they are recovering from an injury and have diminished earning capacity due to an accident. Attorneys, in addition to guiding and assisting you throughout the process, can spend the necessary resources on investigating your claim and hiring necessary experts to assist in your claim.

Attorneys obtain larger settlements and verdicts

Most personal injury attorneys, including the team at Anderson Trial Lawyers, operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that they only get paid if they obtain a settlement or verdict, receiving a portion of the damages awarded as their fee.

Even after this fee is accounted for, settlements and verdicts tend to be larger in cases represented by attorneys than they are in cases with pro se plaintiffs. Pro se plaintiffs are more likely to ask for too low a settlement or accept an insufficient settlement; they can also reduce their chances of a fair settlement by overestimating their losses.

Attorneys are particularly skilled and experienced in calculating fair and reasonable compensation. These calculations will take into consideration both economic damages (which reimburse the client for costs such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic damages (which compensate the client for pain, physical and emotional suffering, and the effect injuries have on a person’s day to day life) as well as punitive damages (which serve as a deterrent against further irresponsible actions by the defendant or similar parties).

To learn more about how the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can assist you, set up a free consultation by calling us at 860-886-8845 or contacting us online.

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Fighting Biases in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Injuries received in a motorcycle accident are often debilitating and life-changing, but injured motorcyclists face an additional challenge as well: deep-seated biases that can make it more difficult to succeed in a claim against another motorist or an insurance company.

Anderson Trial Lawyers Helps CT Motorcycle Accident Victims. CT motorcycle accident claims legal experts Anderson Law, Norwich.

Some people consider motorcyclists to be reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous. This bias can affect the people who witness the accident, the first responders who treat the injured motorists, the judge and jury hearing a claim, and the insurance adjusters determining the value of a claim.

It’s important to understand these biases when filing a claim in a motorcycle accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer will work to push back against “motorcycle bias” and get you the settlement or verdict you deserve.

Examples of motorcycle bias

People can be biased against motorcyclists because they believe:

  • Motorcycles are too difficult to see on the road
  • Motorcycles are too fast or loud
  • Motorcyclists are risk-takers
  • Motorcycling is a risky behavior and motorcyclists knowingly assume the risks of the road
  • Motorcyclists are irresponsible young men prone to dangerous behavior

Any of these biases can make a person more likely to believe that a motorcyclist is at fault in an accident.

Insurance company biases against motorcyclists

above but also because statistics seem to indicate that motorcyclists are more dangerous motorists. For example, motorcyclists are associated with a higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents. While this is a result of their more limited protections and smaller size, insurers may believe that it’s due to reckless riding. 

Insurers may also believe that motorcyclists’ injuries are a result of poor decisions, such as choosing not to wear a helmet. Connecticut does not require a motorcyclist to wear a helmet.  In fact, about two-thirds of motorcyclists wear a helmet and injuries are more common because motorcyclists are more exposed in collisions with motor vehicles.

Bias from insurance companies can lead to a denial of claims or a reduction in value. This, in turn, can leave a motorcyclist struggling to pay their medical bills and other expenses after an accident, and little to nothing for the way their injuries affect their day to day life.

When filing a motorcycle accident claim, we make the argument that the greater risks associated with motorcycles don’t mean that motorcyclists are inherently riskier drivers. A person riding a motorcycle responsibly still presents far less risk to themselves and others on the road than a person driving a motor vehicle irresponsibly.

Overcoming motorcycle bias

When filing a claim related to a motorcycle accident, the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers work to address and overcome any potential biases that may affect the case. This strategy helps ensure that the claim gets fair consideration.

 The use of accident reconstruction experts can build a convincing set of arguments supported by evidence, such as photographs, diagrams, videos, skid mark measurements, and analyses of vehicle damage to  combat assumptions that the motorcyclist was driving recklessly.

We also confront these biases during jury selection to minimize the effects of bias when the claim is settled or goes to trial. By making jurors aware of motorcycle bias, we help ensure that they aren’t unconsciously affected by it.

Witness testimony is particularly valuable. Statements from friends and family can separate you from negative stereotypes and emphasize that you are a safe, law-abiding motorcyclist. 

Injured in a motorcycle accident?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers for a free consultation.

Call us at 860-886-8845 or contact us online.

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19th Annual Evening with an Author featuring Dr. Marcia Chatelain

Join us for hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, delicious dinner stations, extravagant silent auction items, an engaging author address, and book signing.

An evening with an Author featuring Dr. Marcia Chatelain is an exciting and highly anticipated event celebrating the release of Dr. Marcia Chatelain’s latest book, Author of Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. As a proud sponsor of this event, Anderson Trial Lawyers are thrilled to support the literary community and contribute to the success of this special occasion.

About Anderson Trial Lawyers

At Anderson Trial Lawyers, we are dedicated to supporting our local community. We believe in the power of literature to inspire, educate, and entertain, and we are committed to promoting and supporting authors and their work.

C LaughlinC Laughlin
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Finally, a lawyer not talking in circles. Chris does exactly what he says he's going to do. He has your best interest at heart. He also stands by he word. You feel like your talking to a family member. He makes the whole process easy and comfortable. He staff is always very nice and helpful.
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For thirty years, we have never faced a vendor-related contract failure... but it finally happened.We turned to the compassionate team at Anderson and Anderson, for our goal was a resolution that met the needs of clients and agency but didn't turn into something nasty or not reflective of our corporate culture.Chris and his team at Anderson and Anderson were professional, calm and supportive. Through a strong and guiding presence, they helped us successfully negotiate a settlement with a vendor that failed to deliver as promised.While it was a challenge to experience this process, Chris translated the legal-ease and clearly protected our best interests and that of our client. We could not have been more pleased or grateful for his guidance and support.I can clearly envision how he would protect those injured and in need of a skilled advocate. We had to go to court, and other clients may have to do so, as well. Ultimately it really matters who you choose to be your representative: someone who says "they will fight for you," or someone who has a proven record of walking into a courtroom to fight on your behalf.
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Chris is a beyond professional, compassionate and intelligent lawyer. He consistently supported my family and I, while always updating us on my case. If anyone is looking for a lawyer who will eloquently fight for you, believe in you and provide the best care, Chris, and all the lawyers at Anderson Law Firm, provides all of the above and more. Thank you Anderson Law Firm!
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