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In Gould v. Wright Tree Service, the Kansas Court of Appeals recently discussed a worker’s neutral and personal risks along with the personal comfort doctrine in finding  that a worker injured while smoking suffered a compensable work injury. The Court also found that claimant did not recklessly violate a safety rule when he smoked on the job after handling gasoline.

Claimant was a groundsman for Wright Tree Service.  His job duties required him to assist a foreman cutting limbs from a tree by hauling away branches, refueling chain saws, and handing tools to the foreman. He had spilled some gasoline on his shirt while refueling and handling a chain saw. His foreman told him there was a clean shirt for claimant in the company truck, and that claimant should take a break while the foreman finished up working in the tree. Claimant waited outside the “drop zone,” an area 10 feet in circumference around and beneath his foreman working in the tree removing branches. The employer permitted groundsmen to smoke while waiting to gather branches in the drop zone. When claimant lit a cigarette while waiting outside the drop zone, vapors from the fuel on his shirt ignited and severely injured him.

Claimant admitted to “not thinking” at the time though he was aware of the danger of smoking around flammable liquids. The workers compensation insurer for the Tree Service denied the claim.  The Administrative Law Judge agreed and denied benefits.  The Judge found that smoking was a risk personal to claimant and thus there was no connection to his employment.

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According to the CDC, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. Even the most minor motor vehicle accident can cause this sudden brain movement and damage.  Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes you might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but a couple hours later you might not be able to remember how you got hurt.  Most medical providers recommend that you should continue to check for signs of concussion for a few days after the injury. If your concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should consult with a physician or go to the emergency department right away.

The following is a list of concussion signs and symptoms to watch for if your loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident:

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From  December 4, 2015 through December 30, 2015, the City of Wichita has partnered with the Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles, Workforce Alliance, and Sunflower Community Action to help roughly 8,000 drivers get back to driving legally. The driver’s license amnesty program is being offered for the first time in the state and this is the pilot program.

Participants will receive a second chance at complying with their traffic citation without the threat of arrest or additional fees being assessed.

People will be able to apply for a restricted license from the state.  A restricted license can be used to get to specific places including work, school, medical appointments or emergencies, probation and parole meetings, and required court-related destinations.

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Generally there are three different cases when involved in a collision.  First is property damage, second are PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, and third is the bodily injury liability case.  Sometimes there is a fourth case for underinsured motorist coverage.  Get an attorney early to avoid hurting your case!!

The injury claim is often the most important case and the goal is to avoid doing something that will defeat the case.  Examples of mistakes include giving a recorded statement to the insurance company, failing to seek treatment when hurt, seeking short term treatment and stopping, and going to the wrong health care providers.  The injury case is where you can financially recover for your “noneconomic” losses.  You life has been disrupted and you have been physically hurt due to no fault of your own and you deserve to be paid for that disruption including pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disability, disfigurement, and loss of time.  In Wichita and in Kansas, when injured in a car wreck, you have a right to recover for your past medical bills, your future medical bills (if supported by the doctors), your past wage loss, your future wage loss (if supported by the doctors), and the past and future noneconomic losses commonly known as pain and suffering.  The only exceptions are if you injury is so minor that your bills don’t reach $2000, or if you failed to maintain auto insurance on your vehicle (and can’t find an exception to the Kansas No Pay No Play laws).

The property damage case is to either fix your vehicle if repairs are less than the value of your vehicle or to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle (also known as actual cash value) plus sales tax and transfer of title fees.  If your vehicle was towed to a tow lot, it is important to get the vehicle moved by the insurance company to an insurance lot quickly to avoid storage fees.  You may be eligible for a rental car, but they don’t pay for insurance on the rental and usually want the rental returned shortly after they make you an offer on your vehicle.  Remember they are supposed to value your vehicle retail, not wholesale.  If your vehicle is fixed, sometimes the value of your vehicle goes down due to the fact is has been wrecked.  You may be eligible for a separate settlement on the property damage for the “diminished value” of your vehicle due to the wreck.  Usually property damage claims should be resolved within a week or two following the collision.

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Just like my recent blog on car wrecks, a motorcycle wreck requires looking at fault and damages. Call us before speaking to the insurance companies to protect yourself and your case! A free call to 316-689-8035 can make a huge difference. The can give you free advice to keep the insurance companies from taking advantage of you. With motorcycle accidents you are even more at risk. We have been helping motorcycle injury victims since 1987 and we have the reputation, experience, and resources to help you maximize your case value.

Some personal injury attorneys claim just by being on a motorcycle, you have 25% comparative fault. That assertion is contrary to Kansas laws. You only have fault if you violate a legal duty like failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to maintain control, traveling too fast, etc. A biker has no fault if they are exercising reasonable care. Insurance companies really scrutinize the conduct of a biker. But if you have an attorney, they can’t talk to you or get evidence, from your own words, to try and incriminate you.

Other drivers often fail to keep a proper lookout. They “never saw” the motorcycle. That is their fault, not yours. They have a duty to lookout for all vehicles including motorcyclists.

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mobile-phone-in-hand-1438236-3-mAccording to recent news from the National Safety Council, cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents.  Research indicates that 5 percent of crashes involved texting, while 21 percent involved drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones.  Our accident law firm has helped many injured victims of distracted driving.  In doing so, we have helped our clients send a message that together we will not tolerate this form of careless driving.

At Brian and Brian, we routinely meet with new clients who have had their lives forever impacted by negligent drivers who are distracted by their cell phone.  Recently, I met with a new client who indicated that after her vehicle was rear ended at a stop sign, she looked in her rearview mirror and saw the other driver with his cell phone up to his ear.  In fact, the other driver proceeded to get out of his vehicle and continued to talk to the other person on the call.  My client is fortunate to be alive and all this reckless driver cared about was keeping his conversation going.  Needless to say, I look forward to my opportunity to utilize this information to expose the at-fault driver and his complete disregard for the safety of others to the insurance company.  Should they refuse to settle, I am confident that a jury will send the driver and the insurance company a message that this recklessness is not tolerated on Kansas roadways.

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Are you having a difficult time deciding which attorney to hire for your auto accident injury in Kansas?

Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law Offices are the absolute right choice.  Why?  Brian Pistotnik has been successfully helping injury victims in auto accidents since 1987.  Brian  speaks to you personally without dishing you off to a legal secretary or staff.  Other lawyers have paralegals or even former insurance adjusters that spend time talking to clients, and other lawyers may only talk to you if you have the “big case”.  Not Brian Pistotnik.  He treats every client,  regardless of case value, with respect and he takes the time to make the client feel welcome and to make sure the client understands the process of pursuing a car wreck claim.  Brian Pistotnik has successfully handled hundreds of cases each year for 28 years.  The ability to properly handle a case requires not only years of experience, but a clear understanding of the facts of each case and an understanding of the client’s damages is essential for a full recovery of damages.  If the attorney doesn’t talk to you or know what you are  going through, the attorney can’t adequately relay what your case is all about to the insurance company or to a jury.  If you only talk with staff, the attorney won’t know what your case is really about.  I will give you the time and dedication necessary to handle your case.  I care about my clients and their cases.

Brian Collignon has handled injury cases for 15 years and also has the knowledge, honesty, and integrity to properly handle any large or small case.  He knows the insurance companies’ tactics and tricks.  He has the common sense, intelligence, and logic to deserve respect from insurance companies and opposing lawyers, so that they know “We mean business!”

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If I hire a lawyer, will I have to go to trial on my auto accident injury case?

Whether or not to go to trial is always a decision that belongs to the client. However, very few cases actually go to trial. In fact, most cases settle without a lawsuit ever being filed. Unfortunately, going to trial has its pros and cons.


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Are these real auto accident settlements in TV ads?

Many of you have seen commercials for attorneys in Wichita and in Kansas where a person proclaims how much money he/she received from their personal injury settlement. Everyone wants to know if those settlements are real. The answer is sometimes. Ethically, a lawyer should not advertise a client settlement unless it is legitimate and the lawyer is supposed to verify that past results don’t guarantee a future recovery.

However, these ads can be very misleading. Just because a lawyer advertises a certain dollar figure doesn’t necessarily mean they recovered that amount or that a client received money. Sometimes the lawyer wasn’t even the same lawyer that obtained the recovery.

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How are “wrongful death” cases handled in Kansas?

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s fault, you need legal help to make sure you receive fair compensation. There is nothing worse than having to talk to insurance companies while you are still bereaving your loss. Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law Offices have years of experience handling these cases and we can help you too! Call 316-689-8035 for a free consultation and there is no money required to hire us. Read on to learn about these cases.

“Wrongful death” is just one type of case when a person is lost due to someone else’s negligence. The other type of case is know as a “survival claim”, and this type of claim is pursued by the probate estate for the deceased to recover for the deceased’s medical bills, conscious pain and suffering, wage loss prior to death, and the estate pursues these claims, stepping into the shoes of the deceased to get a recovery for the heirs.