- all insurance Their insurance company just offered me $50,000 to settle. Should I take it?Insurance companies often make unreasonably low offers of compensation to victims of serious car accidents, while describing those offers as “fair” or even “generous.” They are counting on the fact that most consumers won’t know how much compensation they deserve. In some cases, the offers are indeed fair. But before you accept an offer, contact an experienced lawyer to protect your rights and make sure you receive full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Insurance Company Tactics: How They Take Advantage of Injured Mainers — And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
- all general default How much is my case worth?There are many factors that need to be considered when determining the value of your case. Every case is unique and it takes a team effort — including your attorney, staff researchers, and outside experts — to determine the extent of your damages and how much your case is worth. There are two types of damages for which you could receive compensation: Economic and non-economic. If your case goes to trial and a jury agrees you deserve compensation, the jury members will decide how much the money you should receive for each category of damages.
- all general default How long will it take to resolve my case?Every case is different, and there is no way to predict how long it will take for your case to be resolved. Some cases end in a matter of months, while the most complex and challenging cases, such as a medical malpractice case, can span several years. The vast majority of cases, however, are resolved before a trial and usually within a year. The goal is to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, no matter how long it takes whether that comes in the form of a pre-trial settlement, or with a jury verdict in your favor.
- all medmal How do I choose a medical malpractice lawyer in Maine?
There are several factors to consider when hiring a medical malpractice lawyer. First, make sure you choose a lawyer and firm with a proven record of success in cases like yours. Second, trust your instincts. You need to have a high level of comfort and trust with the person you choose to represent you, and his or her staff.
Many lawyers claim to handle medical malpractice cases, but in fact, do not have expertise in this complex area of the law. Remember that the choice is up to you. You don’t have to hire the first (or even second or third) lawyer you interview.
- all pi How do I choose a personal injury lawyer in Maine?
There are several factors to consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer. First, make sure you choose a lawyer and firm with a proven record of success in cases like yours. Second, trust your instincts. You need to have a high level of comfort and trust with the person you choose to represent you, and his or her staff. Remember that the choice is up to you. You don’t have to hire the first (or even second or third) lawyer you interview.
Many lawyers claim to handle personal injury cases, but in fact, have never even taken a personal injury case to trial. Some lawyers are willing to settle for a “lowball” offer from the other side, because they are more interested in volume than in results, or because they don’t have the skills and experience to maximize the value of your claim.
- all insurance The insurance company wants me to settle my case quickly. Should I?Clients are often pushed into settling their cases prematurely by insurance companies. Before you resolve your claim, it is critical that you understand the full extent of your injuries and damages and how they will affect your life moving forward. Ultimately, the “right” time to settle your case varies from case-to-case depending on your injuries. When it comes to a personal injury case, patience is important to protecting your interests. Serious Personal Injury Cases: Five Guiding Principles to Remember
- all insurance What are some of the insurance tactics I should know about?Here are some of the most common tactics used by insurance companies to deny fair compensation to people who have been hurt in accidents.
- They make you think they are on your side
- They low-ball your claims
- They take advantage of your financial distress
- They blame the victim
- all medmal What are some of the steps involved in a medical malpractice case?After determining you have a valid medical malpractice claim, we'll file a Notice of Claim, proceed with the discovery period and pre-litigation panel hearing required for all medical malpractice cases and, when warranted, file a lawsuit. Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case
- all pi What are the basic steps of a personal injury lawsuit?Though every case is unique, the basic steps of a personal injury lawsuit include a client meeting, case workup, pre-suit settlement, filing of a lawsuit, and trial (if case can't be resolved). Determining If You Have a Personal Injury Case
- all insurance What can I do to make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of me?If you have been injured in an accident, here are some things you can do to protect yourself from insurance company tactics:
- Never agree to a settlement for your injury claim without knowing if it’s fair.
- As soon as possible, contact an experienced lawyer that understands the entire insurance system, and the tactics used by defense lawyers and insurance companies.
- Educate yourself about the process and ask questions. You need to make sure your rights are protected.
- Hold your ground and assume the insurance company will most likely delay handling your claim, deny you were hurt and defend their decision in a court battle.
- all medmal What is a Pre-litigation Screening Panel in a medical malpractice case?Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in court, we are required by Maine law to first present the case to a pre-litigation screening panel appointed by the superior court. The panel is made up of three panelists, including a representative of the healthcare industry; neither a judge nor a jury participates. The panel proceedings are confidential, but the opinions of the panelists can significantly influence the outcome of the case.
- all medmal What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maine?
In general, you have three years from the act of negligence causing your injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maine. However, there are a number of special circumstances that can shorten or extend that timeframe. The only way to know for sure is to speak with an experienced medical malpracitce lawyer as soon as possible.
- all pi What is the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Maine?
In general, you have six years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit in Maine. However, there are a number of special circumstances that can shorten or extend that time frame. The only way to know for sure about your specific case is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
- all productliability What is the statute of limitations for filing a product liability (defective product) lawsuit in Maine?
In general, you have six years from the date of incident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Maine.
- all wrongfuldeath What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Maine?
In general, you have two years from the date of death to file a personal injury lawsuit in Maine.
- all bs What kind of law do you practice?
Once a general practice firm, Berman & Simmons now specializes on personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, dangerous drugs and medical devices, and complex trial matters.
- all general pi What should I do if I have suffered a spinal cord injury?
The prognosis is different for everyone who experiences a spinal cord injury. Some patients recover fully and within a period of months; others suffer injuries that are likely to be permanent. Individual outcomes are influenced greatly by the timing and quality of medical care, and the support systems (family, community, medical) available to each person.
- Immediate, high quality medical care is essential after a spinal cord injury. Victims should avoid any movement while first responders and doctors oversee your care.
- After your immediate symptoms have been addressed and you are in a stable condition, doctors will work with you and your family to create a detailed plan for your recovery. This may include additional surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and other components.
- Emotional and mental health supports are also essential following a spinal cord injury. Individuals should consider a range of therapies to maintain a positive outlook, as depression and anxiety are common for SCI survivors.
- all pi What types of compensation are available to spinal cord injury victims?
There are two types of damages for which you could receive compensation: Economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include damages that can be calculated or fairly estimated, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings potential. Expert witnesses can testify about how the injury impacted the person’s ability to earn a living in the future. These type of damages are sometimes referred to as “out of pocket” expenses.
Non-economic damages compensate victims for losses that are much harder to assign a specific dollar amount. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, the loss of companionship from a loved one, or permanent loss of function or permanent disfigurement are all types of non-economic damages.
- all pi What types of damages are awarded in personal injury lawsuits?Here are some brief definitions of the most common types of damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit: Economic damages include damages that can be calculated or fairly estimated, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings potential. Expert witnesses can testify about how the injury impacted the person’s ability to earn a living in the future. These type of damages are sometimes referred to as “out of pocket” expenses. Non-economic damages compensate victims for losses that are much harder to assign a specific dollar amount. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, the loss of companionship from a loved one, or permanent loss of function or permanent disfigurement are all types of non-economic damages. Personal Injury Damages: What can I recover?
- all medmal What types of damages could I recover in a medical malpractice claim?Here are some brief definitions of the most common types of damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Economic damages include damages that can be calculated or fairly estimated, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings potential. Expert witnesses can testify about how the injury impacted the person’s ability to earn a living in the future. These type of damages are sometimes referred to as “out of pocket” expenses.
- Non-economic damages compensate victims for losses that are much harder to assign a specific dollar amount. Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotinal distress, the loss of companionship from a loved one, or permanent loss of function or permanent disfigurement are all types of non-economic damages.
- all medmal What types of questions should I ask a medical malpractice lawyer before I hire them?
When you're considering hiring a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you, here are a few questions you should ask:
- Have you had success representing clients in cases similar to mine?
- Does your firm have the financial resources to take on my case?
- If necessary, are you prepared to take my case to trial?
- What are some of the results you have obtained?
- all pi What types of questions should I ask a personal injury lawyer before I hire them?
When you're considering hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you, here are a few questions you should ask:
- Have you had success representing clients in cases similar to mine?
- Does your firm have the financial resources to take on my case?
- If necessary, are you prepared to take my case to trial?
- What are some of the results you have obtained?
- all insurance Why isn’t the insurance company offering me more money for the accident?Insurance companies are simply more profitable by denying and low-balling all claims (referred to in the industry as forcing "smaller walk-away settlements”). In other words, it's in their best interest to pay out as little in claims as possible. Insurance Company Tactics: How They Take Advantage of Injured Mainers — And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
- all bs Why should I choose Berman & Simmons to handle my case?Results. We have won many of the largest jury verdicts and settlements in Maine history. Two of our landmark cases have been recognized in The National Law Journal’s Top 100 U.S. Verdicts and many of our cases have advanced Maine law to protect the rights of those who have been injured or harmed because of someone else's negligence. Reputation. Founded more than 100 years ago, our firm is recognized in Maine and nationally for its record of success in trials, a fearless approach to litigation, and for standing up for working people against powerful defendants. Relationships. We care about our clients and establish trusted relationships with them. We listen. We follow through on our promises. You’ll have a team behind you and we'll make the process as easy for you as possible. With a Steadfast Mission, Berman & Simmons is Poised for Another Century of Success
- all medmal How do you determine if I have a valid medical malpractice case?We first need to determine whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim by proving that the medical provider failed to comply with accepted standards of practice in diagnosing or treating your condition, injury, or disease. We will also need to prove that this failure resulted in harm to you. This process involves an initial consultation with you, review of your medical records, research about your condition, including details about your medical history and treatments, and follow-up conversations with you. Determining If You Have a Medical Malpractice Case
- all medmal Will I need to speak with the doctor or healthcare practitioner I’m considering suing?
Absolutely not. You will not have to confront your doctor, healthcare provider or medical facility. We will take on that responsibility for you.
- all general default How will I know if I have a case?To pursue a case, we will need to prove that you suffered a substantial personal injury and the injury was directly caused by the negligence of another party. A bad result alone is not enough to establish negligence. We let you know upfront if we are able to move forward with the legal process, or if we don’t think you have a case. Generally, we will know if you have a case after our first phone call or meeting. If we believe you have a valid claim and decide to move forward with litigation, our attorneys and staff will then take it from there and do everything else that needs to be done, including obtaining and reviewing records relevant to your case, such as accident reports and other law enforcement documents, employer records, medical records, and other information.
- all general Why do I have to hire a lawyer so quickly?
If you’ve been in a serious accident, there are many benefits to seeking legal counsel as soon as possible after your injury has occurred. Here are some reasons why hiring a good personal injury lawyer early is in your best interest.
- Time is of the essence as Maine has strict deadlines for filing many personal injury claims.
- The at fault driver’s liability insurance company is not on your side and, undoubtedly, is already investigating and reconstructing the accident on its own in an effort to avoid or deflect responsibility. You need expert counsel to make sure the insurer does not take advantage of you.
- Critical witnesses may become unavailable and supportive evidence may be lost or degrade with time. Therefore, it is important to hire a law firm that can immediately and thoroughly investigate the accident, talk with eye witnesses, preserve evidence, and, as necessary, hire appropriate experts to help evaluate and support your case.
- You need an experienced team to help you navigate the medical care you need and relieve some of the financial pressures you may confront by identifying all potential insurance options and negotiating with creditors.
- Hiring a lawyer early can provide much needed peace of mind so you can focus on your recovery.
- all vehicle What should I do if I’ve just been in a car accident?Taking some basic steps after a car accident can make the difference between a legal claim that fails and one that provides fair compensation for you and your family. Here are some suggestions for first steps.
- First, be sure all parties involved are safe and out of danger. Then move your car if it is causing a hazard; otherwise leave it where it is and turn on hazard lights.
- Call 911 to immediately report the accident to police, even if you think the damage is minor. Stay close to your vehicle until police arrive.
- Remain calm and polite, but do not apologize or admit fault.
- Gather pertinent information from other driver and any witnesses.
- Photograph vehicle damage and any visible injuries. Write down your recollections about the event.
- Get the name and badge number of all responding officers, and ask for police report.
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, even if you think they are minor.
- Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
- Report the accident to your insurer. Do not give a signed or recorded statement to your insurer before talking with your lawyer.
- Do not discuss the accident with any representative of the other driver’s insurance company before talking with your lawyer.
- all general vehicle What compensation am I entitled to as a car accident victim?Under Maine law, victims of vehicle accidents have the right to recover financial damages for various categories of injuries and loss, including:
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress, past and future
- Interference with your enjoyment of life
- Medical expenses, past and future
- Time lost from work
- Loss of future earnings
- Damage or total loss of your vehicle
- all vehicle I’ve been hurt in a car accident, but my injuries seem minor. Should I still seek medical treatment?Even if your injuries seem minor to you, seeking treatment early is critical because it provides a roadmap to understanding the extent of your injuries, the treatment you require, and the timeframe for recovery. When you seek treatment, it's also important to honestly and accurately answer the medical provider's questions and report all your injuries and limitations. Serious Personal Injury Cases: Five Guiding Principles to Remember
- all vehicle Why should I take pictures after a car accident?After you are injured, it is important to take pictures that accurately reflect the injuries caused to you and the severity of damage caused to your personal property, such as your vehicle. Pictures that capture what the scene of the accident looked like are important in fully describing the incident to an insurance company or jury. Serious Personal Injury Cases: Five Guiding Principles to Remember
- all bs How long has Berman & Simmons been in business?In 2014, we celebrated 100 years of serving the people of Maine! The firm was established in 1914 when Benjamin Berman hung a shingle on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, Maine. Berman and his brother David became known as trusted advocates of the men and women who worked at the city’s textile mills and shoe factories. Their commitment to blue-collar Mainers and their willingness to take on the most complex and controversial cases, remain hallmarks of the firm today. Berman & Simmons has been committed to Lewiston and to Lisbon Street from the start and we recently renovated our office to honor our history and showcase who we are as a firm now. Century-old Law Firm Joins Lewiston's Revitalization Push
- all vehicle Should I provide a recorded statement about my car accident?Frequently, opposing insurance companies will ask you to provide a recorded statement. You should recognize that these recorded statements are for the benefit of the insurance company and that such statements will be used at every opportunity to undermine your potential case. If an insurance company asks you to give a recorded statement, a warning bell should go off in your mind and you should politely decline. Serious Personal Injury Cases: Five Guiding Principles to Remember
- all masstort What is a mass tort lawsuit?
Mass tort cases stem from a defective drug or device on the market that harms a large number of people. Some of these cases are well-publicized, while many others never make headlines, but cause just as much pain to the people whose lives are affected.
Mass tort claims can include different complaints against the same defendant(s), and often involve injuries from dangerous drugs and medical products. For instance, patients can sue the maker of a defective medical implant for different types of injuries. In a mass tort case, they would file individual lawsuits, which are grouped together only for pretrial proceedings, and then they may be tried later in their original state jurisdiction.
Prescription drug and medical device makers are legally responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and must:
- Conduct adequate clinical trials and other testing as the FDA requires
- Clearly explain the risks and benefits of their products to healthcare providers and consumers
- Continue to test their products for safety
When corporations fail to satisfy any of these or other requirements, they can be held liable to the people they harm. Dangerous drug and medical device lawsuits involve complex medical and legal issues and are expensive to pursue.
- all masstort Why are some medications dangerous?
There are a number of reasons why medications can be dangerous, including:
- Drug companies sometimes fail to conduct the studies needed to identify risks that emerge after approval.
- Failure by a drug manufacturer to properly warn the medical community and consumers about risks.
- Marketing of medication for uses not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
More than 30 dangerous drugs have been approved and later taken off the market because of serious health risks since the 1970s. These drugs have killed or seriously injured thousands of Americans. Dozens of other dangerous drugs remain available. Some of them come with warnings from the FDA, but those warnings are not always clear or well communicated.
All of these failures come back to the basic principle of accountability. Drug manufacturers can and should be held legally accountable if they put consumers at risk.
- all masstort What types of mass tort claims are most common?
Mass tort categories typically fall into three types:
- Prescription drugs
- Product liability, which includes medical devices: Claims typically fall into three categories: 1) defective manufacture, 2) defective design, 3) failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions concerning the proper use of a product.
- Toxic contamination: Also known as “toxic torts,” these cases involve hazardous pollutants or chemicals that have poisoned people.
- all masstort Which types of mass tort cases does Berman & Simmons handle?
- all masstort What are the skills needed to handle mass tort cases?
Mass tort cases require extraordinary resources and highly sophisticated knowledge. It takes an understanding and mastery of varied and complex subject matter and theories of liability and damages, the time necessary to review and process thousands of case documents, and the ability to work with many witnesses and experts. Our lawyers have the skills and tenacity to prepare a mass tort case no matter how complex.
- all masstort What if I was harmed by or experience abnormal side effects from a medical device?Companies have an obligation to ensure that the product they sell is a safe, effective solution to any medical issue you might experience. When a company doesn’t fulfill this obligation, it can leave you with injuries that degrade your quality of life. If you believe you might have a claim, contact our lawyers at Berman & Simmons. We will fairly and accurately assess your case.
- all masstort If I’ve experienced complications from a dangerous drug, do I have a tort claim?Complications from dangerous drugs can vary in severity. Because of this, it’s difficult to determine if a tort claim is feasible. To get a fair and accurate assessment of your potential case, contact our attorneys at Berman & Simmons. We handle many cases involving dangerous drugs and medical devices and can let you know if we can help you with a tort claim.
- all masstort What if the drug I took was a generic brand?
According to the FDA, generic drugs are required to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the original brand-name drug. All manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites must also pass the same quality standards as the brand-name drug.
The Supreme Court has determined that generic drug makers are not liable for any negative side effects; the original manufacturer is. (See PLIVA, Inc. v. Mensing, 564 U.S. 604 and Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartless, 570 U.S. 2468.)
- all masstort What is the process for a mass tort claim?These are the basic steps:
- Review records – We examine statements from claimants and their medical records to identify the device or drug and injuries.
- Injury consistency – We check for similarity of injuries among those harmed by drugs or devices as evidence for the claim and categorize the cases to understand any shared characteristics.
- Federal court filing – Individual cases are consolidated to speed up processing and information gathering.
- Bellwether trials – A small group of lawsuits, chosen from a larger group of similar cases, are tried first. The results can determine the potential outcomes of future cases. As an example, C.R. Bard, the maker of the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter G2, will pay plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker $3.6 million for injuries she suffered from the device and for failure to warn about its dangers in the first IVC "bellwether" case to go to trial.
- Settlement – This occurs when both parties enter negotiations to settle the claims, and any proposed agreements are presented to claimants to decide whether they will accept them or proceed to a trial.
- all bs How many lawyers work at Berman & Simmons?Berman & Simmons is the leading personal injury firm in Maine, with 17 skilled trial lawyers and more than 40 staff members, including legal assistants, paralegals, and administrators. We have the most plaintiff attorneys of any law firm in the state. Because of our talent and reputation, we often provide counsel on cases and receive referrals from the most respected lawyers in Maine and around the country. Our Attorneys
- all masstort How long does a mass tort claim take?
Because mass tort claims can involve multiple plaintiffs, they can take longer than typical personal injury cases. Generally, these cases take years before resolution.
There are statutes of limitations in medical device and dangerous drug cases, so it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you believe you have a claim.
- all masstort What type of damages can I claim in a mass tort case?
Under state and federal law, victims of dangerous drugs have the right to recover financial damages for various categories of loss, including:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost work time related to your injury
- Disability and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional damages
If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug or a defective medical device, we are prepared to stand up for you and your family. Our team of experienced lawyers will hold companies accountable and make sure you receive full compensation for the harm done to you.
- all masstort What is a class action lawsuit?
In class action lawsuits, several plaintiffs who sue a defendant are grouped together into one “class.” One or a few plaintiffs can be named as representatives of the class. For instance, a class action lawsuit can occur when several consumers sue an automaker for producing faulty auto parts.
- all masstort What is a multidistrict litigation (MDL) lawsuit?
Mass tort cases can be grouped together only for pretrial proceedings and become multidistrict litigation for federal trials, and then the individual cases may be tried later in their original state jurisdictions. MDL is a way to speed up processing and information gathering.
- all masstort What is the difference between a mass tort, class action, and multi district litigation (MDL) lawsuit?
Mass tort cases stem from a defective drug or device on the market that harms many people. Multidistrict litigation occurs when individual mass tort cases are combined to streamline the legal process. Class actions, however, do not always involve injury claims and cover one complaint with common characteristics.
- all masstort What is a bellwether case?Bellwether trials play an important role in determining the potential outcomes of future mass torts going through MDL. These cases, a small set of lawsuits chosen from a larger group of similar cases, are tried to see how juries will react to them and to set expectations for possible settlement values. For example, C.R. Bard, the maker of the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter G2, was ordered by a jury to pay plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker $3.6 million for injuries she suffered from the device and for failure to warn about its dangers in the first IVC "bellwether" case to go to trial.
- all bs How many offices do you have?
As a statewide law firm, our headquarters are on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and we also have offices in Portland and Bangor, Maine.
- all general default How much will a lawyer cost me?The lawyers at Berman & Simmons work on a contingency basis. That means you pay nothing up front and nothing unless we settle or win your case. We will consult with you, evaluate your situation, and do initial research free of charge. This is true even if we decide you don’t have a valid claim. We will also cover all necessary case expenses and you will not be obligated to reimburse us until and unless we recover monies on your behalf. if we do take your case and win a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor, a percentage of the compensation goes to pay for our costs and the work done by our legal team.
- all medmal I really like my doctor and I’ve seen him for years. How could I sue him?There’s often feelings of guilt in taking legal action against another individual or an organization. We understand that. But there are other factors that must be considered. When doctors are negligent and someone is hurt or killed, they must be held accountable. This helps make sure healthcare companies put safety first. Our civil justice system is designed to provide you with fair compensation if you are harmed by the negligence of others. Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What to Expect
- all medmal I’m nervous about filing a medical malpractice claim.This is especially true for people who have never needed to consult with a lawyer or worry about wasting their valuable time. We talk to people every day who are facing the most difficult challenges of their lives and don't know what to expect next. We handle a roller coaster of emotions and will help you through the entire process, from finding solutions to your immediate needs to helping you manage your ongoing medical care. Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What to Expect
- all general default What do I prepare for the first call or meeting with you?For your first meeting with us, simply tell us your story and explain in your own words what happened and how your life has been affected. If you're meeting with us in person, you can bring notes about what happened to you, driver insurance information, names of any witnesses, photos of the accident damages or injuries, medical records, and other related paperwork if you have it and if it's applicable, but that information isn't necessary. Really all you need to do is be yourself, speak with us honestly, and be willing to tackle your problems with us. Initial conversations between potential clients and our staff members are often done over the phone. Rest assured that everything we discuss is confidential and protected under law.
- all productliability What are cooking spray can fires and explosions?
Cooking spray can fires and explosions have severely burned and disfigured several people nationwide. Despite these accidents, the products continue to be sold, and consumers are often unaware of their dangers.
Aerosol cans have been known to burst in extreme heat, however, defective design, over-pressurization, and highly flammable contents have contributed to the explosions.
Fires and explosions from PAM cooking oil spray have been seriously injuring consumers across the U.S. for years. The manufacturer, Conagra, promotes PAM’s “100% natural” ingredients, which actually include highly flammable petroleum-based propellants such as propane, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas or butane.
- all productliability What causes cooking spray can fires and explosions?Fires and explosions from cooking oil spray can happen for a number of reasons. Too much pressure, exposure to extreme heat, and defective design are contributing factors. In tests chemical and fire expert Dr. Michael Fox of Chemaxx conducted, he found a design flaw that can cause some of the explosions. Vents at the bottom of the larger size canisters that were meant to reduce pressure and prevent explosions can release flammable gas and start fires near heat or open flames. These vents may also release the contents at temperatures and pressures below those expected to cause venting, and when combined with too much pressure, the containers can become fireballs and burn anything in their paths. Not all of the accidents have occurred near heat sources, and the potential for sudden fires, severe burns, disfigurement, and death makes these products particularly hazardous for consumers, yet they remain on the market.
- all productliability Why are there product liability lawsuits against ConAgra?
Exploding cans of cooking spray have seriously injured several people nationwide, yet the products are still on the market, and consumers are often unaware of their dangers.
Many people injured have filed lawsuits against ConAgra, maker of PAM cooking spray, and other responsible parties seeking damages for their injuries, pain, and suffering. These product liability cases also cover the design flaws that contributed to these accidents and the lack of adequate safety warnings.
Jury verdict or settlement awards to plaintiffs in these cases can potentially send a message to cooking spray manufacturers, including ConAgra, that they need to make their products safer for consumers and improve their warning labels.
- all productliability Have other people been harmed by exploding cooking spray cans?Many people have suffered debilitating cooking spray burns and injuries. Their injuries have included blindness, full and partial burns to the face, arms, hands, neck and other areas, and even death. Some of the exploding cooking spray accidents that have occurred nationwide include: Connecticut – a woman suffered first-, second-, and third-degree burns to her face, arm, right hand, chest, leg, and foot after a can of PAM far from where she was cooking exploded and shot flames across her counter and all over her body. Pennsylvania – a woman suffered severe burns to her hands and face after a cooking spray can fell into a pan while she was cooking and spewed hot grease when it exploded. Massachusetts – a Wicked Tuna chef suffered third-degree burns when cooking spray exploded and shot flames and fluids over his arms, chest, and legs. Ohio – a woman remembered “putting the fork in a pan” when a can explosion occurred and that she was “on fire” with severe burns on her face, arms, and chest. Despite these devastating accidents, PAM and other dangerous cooking sprays remain on the market, and many consumers are unaware of their dangers.
- all productliability Do I have a PAM cooking spray explosion lawsuit?Makers of PAM and other cooking oil sprays that are supposed to be safe, but violate state and federal consumer protection laws are subject to product liability lawsuits. Several lawsuits have been filed against ConAgra, maker of PAM cooking spray, seeking compensation for injuries, and punitive damages meant to punish the company and pressure it to make safer cans with better warnings before more people become seriously injured. If an exploding cooking spray can has caused you to suffer severe burns, disfigurement, pain, and emotional distress, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries and for damages from the manufacturer. If you think you have a product liability case, contact us today for your free, confidential consultation.
- all productliability How do I keep my kitchen safe from cooking spray can explosions?
Too much pressure, exposure to extreme heat, and defective design have proven to be contributing factors in cooking spray can explosions and fires. It’s important to educate your family about the dangers of cooking oil sprays and how they can protect themselves. Here are some safety tips to consider:
- keep aerosol cans far away from heat sources or anything flammable
- avoid storing aerosol cans near heat or open flames
- avoid cooking with grease; some cooking spray accidents have involved grease fires
- consider healthier alternatives to non-stick cooking oil sprays such as olive oil, butter or other natural oils
- apply cooking spray to pans or food at a safe distance away from heat
- if you ever catch fire from an exploding cooking spray can, "stop, drop, and roll” by slowly lowering yourself to the floor and rolling in a safe place that won’t cause major damage to extinguish the flames.
- all sexabuse Is there a statute of limitations for sex abuse cases?Most of the time yes. Maine changed its laws in the early 1990s to eliminate the statute of limitations for minors who were sexually abused. Your case is not over just because you didn’t take action right after the incident; it takes many survivors years to come forward. We are here to support you when you are ready.
- all sexabuse Does it matter if I didn’t tell anybody about the sex abuse?No, it’s okay if you didn’t report the sex abuse when it occurred. It takes courage to come forward and many survivors are too afraid or confused to do so at the time of the abuse. We are honored that you would confide in us and we will support and listen to your story now, whether or not you have told anyone else. We strive to earn your trust and we will. Our lawyers are trained to handle your case with discretion and sensitivity to ensure you feel comfortable sharing details of your experience, no matter how long ago it was. It’s important that you share your story and we will help you through that process.
- all sexabuse I’ve been sexually abused. Will people believe me?Yes, we will help tell your story in the most believable, persuasive way. You may have been dismissed or ignored in the past or people may not have believed you. From our first phone call, we will always believe you and we will take the time to advocate on your behalf to ensure others believe you too.
- all sexabuse Can you help me make sure this happens to no one else?Yes, we will help you make your claim and highlight what you experienced so it doesn't happen again. Being brave enough to come forward is the first step towards making sure the people and institutions responsible for the abuse are exposed and held accountable. While we cannot end sexual abuse altogether, with your help in bringing a claim, we can make our communities safer.
- all sexabuse Can I trust you?Yes, but we want to earn your trust. It all starts with a phone call. From there you can get to know our lawyers and decide for yourself if we are the people you want to trust with your story. We realize this situation is very difficult for you to face. Starting with our first conversation and throughout our relationship with you, everything you tell us is confidential and you don’t have to tell us anything you don’t want to.
- all sexabuse Will I have to testify against the person who sexually abused me?Maybe. Oftentimes you don't have to testify, but if you choose to, we will make sure you're well prepared. Whether you’re facing a sexual predator or an institution that failed to protect you, we will help you to make the best choices and prepare you for all the scenarios and possible outcomes . We will respect your decision to testify or not and make sure you feel safe, regardless of what you decide.
- all sexabuse Will I have to go to trial someday?Maybe. A well-prepared case will often settle. However, trials are sometimes unavoidable if a case is to be resolved in the best interest of the survivor. Whether or not we go to trial, we will be with you every step of the way from our first meeting to the final resolution of the case. We know how important this is in your life and will not stop until we’ve done everything in our power to help you.
- all sexabuse Will I have to face the person who sexually abused me?Most likely not. Most cases don’t require the survivor to testify, but if yours does, our lawyers will ensure that you are fully prepared and feel safe during the process. If you are not required to testify, or a settlement is reached before going to trial, we will do everything in our power to make sure you don’t have to face the accused if you do not want to.
- all sexabuse What if I want a female lawyer?We have both male and female lawyers who handle sex abuse cases and they often work together on larger cases. If you have a preference, let us know.
- all ltdclaims Who is eligible for long term disability insurance?If you have a disability insurance policy in effect when you become disabled, and your disability prevents you from working full time at your job, then generally speaking you would be eligible for long term disability benefits. Your eligibility depends on the exact language and terms in your policy. It is important to review and understand the terms of your policy.
- all ltdclaims Am I eligible for long term disability insurance if I am able to work part time?Most LTD policies provide for partial benefits to those who are able to earn less than 80% of former income. The exact amount of the partial benefit is based on a formula. If you are able to earn less than 20% of your former income, most LTD policies will consider you fully disabled.
- all ltdclaims Can I be denied long term disability insurance because I can still work at another job?
Some LTD policies will terminate benefits after two years if you are able to work at “any occupation.” Despite what it sounds like, this does not mean your benefits will be terminated if you can work at any job whatsoever. “Any occupation” means an occupation that compensates you at a reasonable rate and is related to your skills, training, education, and experience.
If you purchased an individual LTD policy or if you work in a highly specialized profession, you may have an “own occupation” policy. This type of policy provides benefits when you are no longer able to work in your specific field or sub-specialty.
- all ltdclaims Can I be eligible for long term disability benefits if I do sedentary work?Yes. Any type of work can be impacted by a disability, not just physical work. People in professions ranging from attorneys to business owners to doctors to managers can be eligible to receive long term disability benefits.
- all ltdclaims What is ERISA?
The Employment Retirement Security Act, first passed by Congress in 1974, protects and regulates retirement, short term disability, long term disability, and other benefits provided by employers to workers. If your LTD policy was provided through your employer, ERISA law probably applies. There are exceptions to this, and whether your policy is an individual policy or an ERISA governed employer-provided policy is not always obvious.
ERISA is a complex body of law consisting of federal statute, regulations, and court decisions.
- all ltdclaims If my LTD policy is governed by ERISA, what does that mean?ERISA impacts when and how you can file a lawsuit to contest your insurance company’s denial of long term disability benefits, and what evidence the judge can consider in such a lawsuit. Therefore it is very important to involve a lawyer early in the process, in order to ensure that your rights are preserved and the judge is able to consider all relevant evidence if you need to file a lawsuit.
- all ltdclaims I am receiving Social Security Disability Benefits—does that make me eligible for long term disability benefits?Not necessarily. The law and regulations that determine eligibility for Social Security disability benefits differ from the law that governs LTD benefits. You may have to submit more or different evidence to prove your eligibility for long term disability benefits.
- all ltdclaims The insurer denied my claim for LTD benefits. Is there a deadline to appeal?Yes. The deadline to file an appeal to your insurer will be determined by your insurance policy. It is important to review and understand the policy.
- all ltdclaims What is the deadline to file a lawsuit for denial of LTD benefits?The deadline depends on whether your LTD policy is governed by ERISA or not. The deadline to file a lawsuit is also determined by terms in your LTD policy. It can depend on how several different terms in the policy interact with each other. You can be in a situation where you need to file a lawsuit in court before you have filed an appeal with the insurance company. In that case, you can ask the court to ‘stay’ the case in order to put the lawsuit on hold while you file an appeal with the insurance company.
- all sexabuse How much time do I have to file a BSA sex abuse claim?The Boy Scouts of American (BSA) filed for bankruptcy protection in February, 2020 to stop individual lawsuits and create a compensation fund for men who were molested as youngsters decades ago by scoutmasters and other leaders. In May, it was announced that the deadline for survivors of child sex abuse to file a claim in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case is November 16, 2020. If you were the victim of sexual abuse while participating in the Boy Scouts don’t wait. The attorneys at Berman & Simmons are here to help answer your questions and help navigate your claim.
- What is Plaquenil®?Plaquenil, also known as hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, is an antimalarial medication often used to treat these and other inflammatory or autoimmune conditions:
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Kawasaki disease (aka mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome)
- rheumatoid arthritis
- What is Plaquenil® toxicity?Damage to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, can occur from long-term, high doses of Plaquenil. Retinal or Plaquenil toxicity symptoms include blurred vision, seeing halos, streaks of light, or color changes, and in some cases, blindness occurs. Unfortunately, the damage is usually permanent. In some cases patients don’t notice any symptoms.
- How does Plaquenil® or retinal toxicity happen?The main ingredient in Plaquenil, hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ), binds to melanin, which produces eye color and is the same pigment that forms your skin tone. The HCQ then builds up in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye, damaging and weakening its cell layer. The RPE nourishes the fragile nerve tissue of the retina. The decaying RPE cells then move to the outer retina and eventually to the photoreceptors that transmit light into signals sent to the brain, causing damage.
- How do I know if I have Plaquenil® or retinal toxicity?If you’ve been taking 200 milligrams or more of Plaquenil regularly for a long time, such as five years, your eye doctor should have had your eyes tested for damage to the retinas even if you haven’t noticed any vision changes. Retinal or Plaquenil toxicity symptoms include blurred vision, seeing halos, streaks of light, or color changes, and in some cases, blindness occurs. The risk factors for Plaquenil toxicity can include short stature, obesity, liver, kidney, or macular disease.
- What are the recommended tests for Plaquenil patients?The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that an ophthalmologist (eye care disorder specialist) check Plaquenil patients for retinal toxicity with photos and the following tests:
- a visual field test to check if blind spots have developed
- OCT imaging, three-dimensional photography done to look for early retinal damage
- a multifocal test (electroretinography) to see any retinal decay and how the cells respond to light
- Why are people filing lawsuits against medical providers over Plaquenil® toxicity?Studies have shown that many eye doctors and medical specialists have failed to check their patients’ eyes regularly for signs of toxic retinal damage from long-term, high doses of Plaquenil. Many people have suffered harmful vision damage, some of it permanent, through these breaches of medical standards of care. Several plaintiffs seeking damages for their injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages have filed Plaquenil toxicity lawsuits against providers for not following recommended Plaquenil treatment guidelines. Jury verdict or settlement awards to plaintiffs in these cases can potentially send a message to medical practitioners who prescribe Plaquenil that they need to follow standard treatment guidelines or face consequences for medical malpractice.
- Do I have a Plaquenil® toxicity lawsuit?The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that doctors keep daily dosages of Plaquenil to less than five milligrams per pound of a patient’s body weight except for “rare instances” when a higher dosage is needed to treat a life-threatening disease. The pills are 200 milligrams each and some doctors prescribe the full amount to their patients. If you’ve taken high doses of Plaquenil for a long time, even if you haven’t noticed any vision changes, you might have a medical malpractice case if your eye doctor hasn’t discussed potential retinal damage or had your eyes tested for it. Maine has strict statutes of limitations for filing medical malpractice complaints against doctors, so it’s critical to consult with us as soon as possible if you think you have a medical malpractice case.
- all wrongfuldeath What is loss of consortium?A loss of consortium action is normally a standalone claim brought by the spouse of a person who was injured or killed as a result of the defendant's negligent or intentional actions. People sometimes call loss of consortium loss of affection or loss of companionship. It's a request for compensation for the mental and monetary damage a spouse suffered after an injury to their partner.
- all wrongfuldeath Who can file a loss of consortium claim?In Maine, a spouse must file a loss of consortium claim. However, some states allow children, parents, and domestic partners to file this type of claim as well.
- all wrongfuldeath How are loss of consortium damages calculated?No amount of cash can truly compensate a person for the loss of a spouse or their health. Therefore, these damages are categorized as general or noneconomic, and the amount of money is up to the judge or jury. However, consulting an expert to provide a more precise monetary value for a loss of consortium claim could benefit you.
- all wrongfuldeath What are the limits for loss of consortium settlements?Maine limits pain and suffering damages in wrongful death cases to $500,000. There are no set limits for loss of consortium when both spouses are still living, but the awards are usually below this amount.
- all wrongfuldeath Is there a statute of limitations for filing a loss of consortium claim?In Maine, the statute of limitations for filing a loss of consortium claim for a wrongful death or a skiing accident is two years. For other types of injuries, including falls, vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, you can wait up to six years to file a loss of consortium claim.
- all wrongfuldeath How do attorneys prove loss of consortium?The plaintiff must demonstrate that they were legally married to the person who was injured or killed at the time of the accident. They also need to show causation or prove that any damages to the relationship were actually caused by the defendant. Defendants often try to investigate the relationships between spouses and attempt to prove that any problems existed before the injury. They may hire private investigators to look into all of the most intimate details of your marriage, even records from therapists or marriage counselors. A skilled attorney will keep the defense from forcing you to answer inappropriate questions about your personal life and help you prove that the person or organization you're suing was negligent or malicious in their actions.