The Black Eyed Peas insanely infectious song “I Gotta Feeling” has become the most downloaded song in history topping 5 and a half million legal downloads. I would venture to guess that the number of illegal downloads would bring the total number to well over ten million.

Itunes has also recently reported that it has sold ten billion downloads from its site. That lucky track belonged to Mr. Johnny Cash. These numbers, only a few years after MP3 became a household term, confirms that the music industry is forever changed. Think about it – 10 Billion downloads!

The Recording Industry Association of America would likely say that the internet has decimated the music industry due to piracy and illegal downloading of music. This is evidenced by the number of lawsuits against every day people who illegally downloaded a few songs off limewire or similar peer networks. I think it is preferable to say that the internet has reinvented the music industry. While big name performers and major record labels may feel their wallets tightening, artists and musicians across the globe can thank the internet for new opportunities that would never have been available before.

Social networking, Pandora.com, Myspace, Internet Radio, youtube, and sites like Itunes, offerring legal downloads allow anyone who has recorded a song or full length CD to become a professional artist. A savvy internet user can create buzz about their band and generate sales without the help of major record label or publishing companies. In fact, many well known artists are now publishing their own records and/or releasing albums solely online. With the right contacts and initiative, artists can also find commercial venues to license their music. No longer do artists have to wait and pray that a record label will somehow discover them and make them famous.

While it is easier to get one’s music out to a larger audience, certain precautions still need to be made. It is imperative that you trademark your artist name, properly copyright your material (and I don’t mean mailing a CD to yourself), and learn about music publishing and online distribution. If necessary, it is also helpful to have a band partnership agreement so that there are no disputes when the money starts rolling in or the lead guitarist decides to move to Vegas. When you’ve done all that – your may be off and running. Luckily, my office can help with all of this.

I have advised and represented many artists and I can help jumpstart your music career.

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The Boston Globe had this interesting article discussing not only the growing number of older bike riders, but the fact that these motorcycle riders sustain more frequent and severe injuries than younger riders.

The mean age of motorcycle ownership has risen in the past decade from 33.1 in 1998 to 40.2 in recent years. Whether 40 is the new 20 or baby-boomers are reconnecting with their youth, the fact is that bike riders are older in age. The study highlighted in the Globe article, indicates that riders over 40 years old sustain more serious injuries, have longer hospital stays, and increased risk of dying from motorcycle accidents than riders under 40 years of age.

Some of the troubling findings include:

  • rib fractures are twice as common for riders over 40
  • 32% of bike riders over 40 required stays in the intensive care unit compared to 27% of riders under 40
  • Riders over 40 were more likely to suffer from pneumonia, infections, or blood clots
  • Older riders are twice as likely to die from less serious injuries

Citing the State Department of Health, the Globe report also shows that in Massachusetts, the rate of motorcycle related deaths and injuries among 55 to 64 year olds increased by 400%.

As the body ages it is less able to deal with trauma and this is the reason cited for these startling statistics. For instance, older riders have thinning bones and less resilient tissue. Older riders are more likely to have pre-existing complications such as diabetes and heart problems.

Finally, the study reported that helmet use is only around 73% for both the under and over 40 age groups. This is far too low for any age rider because wearing a helmet is the single easiest thing one can do to prevent serious injury.

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Cerebral Palsy is a permanent disorder affecting motor skills and coordination. It is caused by damage to the motor control center of the brain (cerebrum) and can occur in utero, at birth, or up to three years after birth. Newborn children may not immediately display signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy but you should immediately contact a doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • poor coordination
  • stiff muscles
  • unusual posture
  • involuntary movements
  • difficult or delayed crawling and walking

Cerebral Palsy and Child Birth Medical Malpractice

There are many forms of Cerebral Palsy and the condition can occur for any number of reasons, some of which are unavoidable. A percentage of Cerebral Palsy cases, however, occur due to medical error during childbirth.

Infection, head injury and lack of oxygen are three of the ways in which Cerebral Palsy can occur during childbirth. A few of the mistakes that doctors might make during delivery leading to Cerebral Palsy are:

  • Failure to detect and treat a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Improper use of forceps and/or vacuum
  • Leaving the child in the birth canal too long despite lack of oxygen
  • Inadequately responding to fetal distress or changes in the fetal heart rate
  • Failing to perform a C-section despite fetal distress
  • Failure to identify and treat seizures after delivery

All medical malpractice cases are a challenge and the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that a child’s Cerebral Palsy was caused by doctor error and not another cause. If your child has recently been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, especially if the child had a difficult birth experience, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney right away.

Damages for medical malpractice

Victims of Cerebral Palsy are unable to operate in society and in the workforce at the same level as others. They may also suffer a reduced IQ. Therefore, Cerebral Palsy is truly a life changing condition. While it may be impossible to place a value on such a condition, one report conducted in 2003 suggested that those suffering from Cerebral Palsy lost $921,000 due to medical expenses and inability to work.

This amount, which already seems slightly low, does not include damages for pain and suffering which could be in the millions.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this terrible condition.

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This topic is a big one and comes up very often. While our federal government is working out a new health plan for our Country, the fact remains that roughly 46 million people in America do not have any health insurance, including 140,000 people in our small State of Rhode Island. Many people without health insurance have no idea what to do following an auto accident even though they are seriously hurtdiscount-card.gif.

The at-fault driver will be responsible for all of your medical bills. Unfortunately, you will not receive this money until the case is settled or a verdict is reached at trial. That means you could be waiting several months to a few years. There are options, however, and an experienced auto accident attorney can help you through the process.

In Rhode Island, many auto policies contain Medpay.

Medpay acts just like health insurance. If you, or the owner of the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, has medpay on the auto policy, this coverage will pay all of your medical bills up to either $2500 or $5000 depending on the policy. Many people are unaware that medpay exists, but it is a very affordable coverage that is often grouped with a “full coverage” policy. This money comes directly from your insurance company so you do not have to wait as with a settlement or jury verdict.

Massachusetts drivers have personal injury protection (PIP)

PIP will cover you for up to $8000 in medical bills if you have a Massachusetts auto policy and no health insurance. Like medpay, this money is available to you right away and can help with emergency room bills or necessary diagnostic testing such as MRI’s and CT scans.

What if there is no medpay, no PIP, and no health insurance?

Honestly, this could get a little tricky. Understand that you have a right to be seen at an emergency room following an auto accident. If they know that you have no health insurance, the care may not be the best, but they will at least stabilize your injuries. Hospitals and emergency rooms often have to wait for payment and if they know that you are represented by an attorney, they will often wait to receive payment at the time of settlement.

In addition, many doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other specialists, are willing to treat your injuries right away and wait for payment from the accident settlement. The more trusted your attorney, the more likely a doctor or specialist will trust him or her to pay the bills when the claim is resolved.

I have an excellent reputation among doctors and medical providers in this community and can always find a physician willing to treat your injuries while delaying payment. In one case, in which my client suffered traumatic brain injury, I was able to arrange treatment with a neurologist and psychiatrist who both agreed to delay payment until the case settles.

In summary, if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney such as myself, there are always options to ensure that you get the medical care that you need right away. Never feel pressured into settling early and for little money in order to pay your medical bills.

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Yesterday I wrote a post about a Virginia Supreme Court decision imposing liability on the hosts of a sleepover following a fatal auto accident. The parents of the victim had requested that their daughter not be allowed to ride in any car with teenage boys, and the Court imposed liability on the hosts for failing to follow through with that instruction and for failing to adequately care for their guest.

I began thinking that the Rhode Island Supreme Court would almost definitely deny such a claim. Rhode Island is among the States which do not recognize social host liability. Ferreira v. Strack, 652 A.2d 965, Willis v. Omar, 954 A.2d 126. Social host liability laws hold hosts and homeowners responsible for injuries sustained by a third party as a result of their actions. For example, if a homeowner throws a party in which a person becomes severely intoxicated and later kills a person in a car accident, the homeowner would be responsible for the role they played. It is dram shop liability on the homeowner.

Rhode Island, however, fails to recognize this liability because the Supreme Court does not believe that the host owes a duty to an unrelated third party. Rhode Island will only impose social host liability if the homeowner allows underage drinkers to become intoxicated or provides alcohol to minors which later results in a tragic accident. This law is relatively recent and is a product of the legislature. The Supreme Court has often stated that it defers to the legislature in establishing new causes of action. Therefore, social host liability will never be imposed in RI unless the legislature drafts such a statute.

Today I came across an interesting case out of Virginia. A judge has approved a $1.75 million dollar settlement in a case arising out of the death of a teenage girl who was sleeping over a friends house. The parents of the victim told the parents hosting the sleepover that they did not want their daughter to drive in any cars with boys. Unfortunately, the host mother gave permission for the girls to go for a car ride with a teenage boy that ended in the tragic death of the victim. The lawsuit sought money from the homeowner’s policy of the hosts alleging that they were negligent in caring for the girl.

In approving the settlement, the Supreme Court of Virginia stated that a parent who agrees to supervise and care for a child has a common law duty to do so with reasonable care. One could make an argument that it was not unreasonable to allow the girls to get in a car with a properly licensed driver – but considering that teenagers often drive recklessly, particularly when in a group setting, an accident is arguably foreseeable. Furthermore, the parents of the victim specifically requested that the daughter not be allowed to get into such a situation.

I am unsure if any other State has similar case law (searching the case law of all 50 States isn’t all that appealing) but I thought this was a novel and interesting ruling.

Many people injured in car accident, whether in another vehicle, a pedestrian, or on a bicycle, may not be aware that uninsured motorist will cover their damages if the at-fault driver flees the scene. While uninsured motorist obviously covers you if the other driver fails to maintain mandatory liability insurance, or if they fail to carry enough insurance to pay all of your damages, it will also cover you in a hit and run auto accident.

Regardless of whether the at fault driver who flees the scene is ever caught by police, your coverage under uninsured motorist will cover all of the typical damages that you can recover in an auto accident claim including: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

It seems that Rhode Island has had a flurry of hit and run accidents in recent weeks including the terrible story of Earlene Sally and Nikia Phillips, the mother and daughter who were seriously and permanently injured by a driver who fled the scene. The driver accused of hitting the two women with his car and fleeing the scene has been charged with two counts of driving under the influence – serious injury resulting, and other counts.

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The Boston Globe is reporting today that bicycle safety groups are calling out for increased safety following the tragic death of Eric Hunt last week. Bicyclists are incredibly vulnerable on city streets and cycling advocates are calling for increased awareness and safety measures.

Tragic accidents involving bike riders happen with unfortunate frequency in Boston and Providence. The reality is that motorists are not well trained to keep a look out for bicyclists or pedestrians on the road no matter how many may be walking around the area. This accident, in particular, demonstrates a common and dangerous scenario. It appears that Mr. Hunt was attempting to pass an MBTA bus that was pulled over collecting and dropping off passengers. The bus merged back into traffic and struck Mr. Hunt causing his fatal crash. The bus driver never saw the bicyclist at the rear of his bus.

Drivers are aware of blind spots and potential hazards on the road, but are not as aware of bikers, runners, and pedestrians. Particularly in heavily congested cities, we need to share the road and be aware of one another to prevent any further fatal accidents. As a biker myself, I am increasingly aware of the danger. My condolences to the family.

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In recent years, Geico Insurance has become one of the leading insurer’s throughout the Country, including a strong foothold in Rhode Island. Their popularity has skyrocketed thanks to effective ad campaigns featuring the lovable English accented gecko and the highly civilized cavemen. Unfortunately, Geico is anything but lovable, friendly, or civilized when it comes to settling personal injury claims.

Geico Insurance has taken, a la Allstate, to making insultingly low offers without justification. Regardless of the injury sustained or the amount of damage to an automobile, Geico responds with a very low offer. I have often asked the adjuster how they arrive at such a low amount, only to hear that a computer gave them their negotiation range.

So why am I telling this to Rhode Island and Massachusetts accident victims? It is important to understand that if you are injured in an auto accident that was not your fault and the other driver is insured with Geico, you may need to file a lawsuit in order to receive fair compensation. For this reason, it is all the more important that you hire the right attorney when involved in an auto accident with a Geico insured driver.

Be sure that you speak with your attorney to discuss what amount you are looking for in settlement. If that amount is unobtainable in settlement be sure that your attorney is prepared to go to trial, if necessary. Geico Insurance is counting on the fact that most auto accident victims are unwilling to wait for a fair settlement and that most attorneys are unwilling to file suit following a car accident, motorcycle accident, or ATV accident (Geico insures all three). Therefore, most of their unreasonable offers are accepted. My office now has the majority of it’s Geico cases headed to litigation.

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Recently I was speaking with a client who was involved in a serious car accident. Negotiations have been ongoing with the insurance company for over a month already, but I felt that their offers to settle the case were too low. I presented the offer to my client and reminded him that it is his choice whether to accept the offer, and that if he feels it is too low we can proceed to a lawsuit.

My client then asked me – how is a lawsuit going to affect me and my case? I realized that this might be a question that a lot of personal injury victims share and will be a good topic for a blog post.

In a previous post “Some Thoughts on Settlement“, I offered some advice regarding the decision to accept or decline an auto accident or other personal injury settlement. Here is some additional information to consider if you choose to decline the offer.

A lawsuit is filed directly against the person, persons, or corporations that caused your injury from an auto accident, slip and fall, motorcycle accident, wrongful death, etc. His or her insurance company is not named in the lawsuit, but they will likely supply the defense attorney.

Your personal injury attorney will handle all of the additional work required with a lawsuit. Personally, the impact on you as plaintiff should be very little. You will be required to assist in discovery (answering questions and producing documentation that the defense requests) and you will likely have a deposition (a lengthy interview concerning the facts of the accident and the injuries sustained).

Beyond these obligations there should be little other impact on you personally. Of course, a lawsuit will greatly delay the amount of time before you recover the money to which you are entitled. The amount, however, is likely to be greater.

Filing a lawsuit does not always end in an actual trial. In fact, more often than not, a lawsuit will never make it to trial. Often, personal injury cases can be resolved by settlement, mediation or arbitration after a lawsuit was filed. Mediation and arbitration are similar dispute resolution processes. An impartial third party (not a judge) hears both sides and makes determinations as to a fair and equitable settlement.

If you have a strong case, then filing a lawsuit can really give you leverage in negotiations. The insurance company knows that they will have to pay a defense attorney to defend the case and that you are willing to wait for your day in Court rather than accept what little money they are offering you at the time. Of course, you need to speak with your attorney about your individual case and filing a lawsuit is not always the right thing to do.

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