Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Slip and Falls: New Effective Recovery Strategies

            Slip and Falls are known as being one of the most difficult areas of personal injury cases to win for Plaintiffs. When a person slips on a spilled drink in a supermarket, the supermarket often blames the person who slipped as being the responsible party. They argue that the victim should have looked where they were going, and often trot out the ineffectual argument that others in the area didn't fall so it must have been the victim’s fault. These arguments can be tricky to deal with, but often it is easier to overcome these arguments than others.

            The most difficult thing to overcome in slip and fall cases is often proving the Defendant knew or should have known the spills or hazards were present and were a danger. Supermarkets and other major stores often argue that they didn't have notice of the spill and that there was no way they could find out that such a danger existed. As Plaintiff’s attorneys, we always look for the video tape of the area where the fall occurred, but sometimes no video tape exists or no video camera was recording that area. Knowing these issues, we at Parnell & McKay are always looking around the country for cutting edge approaches based on new scientific studies and research. One such study from a firm in California used cutting edge science to test how dangerous a supermarket floor can be even without liquid on it. The study focused on comparisons of slippery objects, and how much more dangerous they get when covered with a  liquid or other slippery item. One such focus was on supermarket floors, which use a bright tile that helps make their products “pop” from the aisles. The study demonstrated that once these floors get wet with water, or any spilled liquid product, they become extremely dangerous for anyone walking over them. The slippery quotient multiplied exponentially, and the studies demonstrated that once a supermarket floor gets wet like this they are effectively ticking time bombs for prospective customers. The study also found that supermarkets often consider buying a more tacky, or rough floor surface that significantly reduces how slippery and dangerous their floors can get. However, these floors are often not reflective of light, are generally darker, and do not look as shiny and bright as the more common tiles preferred by supermarkets.

            These supermarkets, when faced with the option of installing safer floors, decide not to and instead install the more aesthetically pleasing tiles that become extremely dangerous when wet. This helps demonstrate that not only did the supermarket know the floors they installed would be slippery, but that they deliberately decided against purchasing a safer floor because it didn't look as pretty.

            Science is constantly evolving, and staying on top of these various studies is important to maintain the most effective representation we can provide. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, contact the Law Offices of Parnell & McKay and put our years of experience and diligent research to use. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Worker’s Compensation: Differences in Lump Sum Settlements in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

            At Parnell & McKay, we handle both New Hampshire and Massachusetts worker’s compensation cases. However, we often are asked about the differences between the two as it relates to settlements. In worker’s compensation cases, these are called “lump sum settlements”. A lump sum settlement generally uses the weekly wage benefit amount as a basis for coming up with a settlement figure. For example, in a situation where an individual is getting $400.00 per week in wage benefits, and is permanently disabled, there are a number of factors that come into play. Generally, it’s the injured worker’s life expectancy, the wage benefit amount, and whether the client prefers settlement to receiving regular weekly benefits. If a person is permanently disabled and cannot work any form of employment, the person is very likely entitled to wage benefits for the rest of their life. However, most people tire quickly of dealing with worker’s compensation insurance and prefer to avoid the continued hassle of denials, delayed benefits checks, and fights with the insurance companies.

            So, what is factored into the settlements beyond the above? In New Hampshire, that answer is permanent loss of use or function of a part of their body, and the wage benefits if a permanent disability exists. If a person loses function, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire recognize that the injured worker should be compensated for this loss. The determination of this amount is very complicated, and I strongly encourage anyone facing a permanent disability to consult with a worker’s compensation attorney prior to agreeing with the insurance company on the permanent impairment. In Massachusetts, however, lump sums can also include scarring and disfigurement, and future medical bills can be lump summed as well. New Hampshire does not allow future medical bills related to the work injury to be lump summed, nor does New Hampshire account specifically for scarring and disfigurement. It is always dangerous to lump sum future medical bills without knowing what you are agreeing to, so it is very important to consult an attorney prior to agreeing to any settlement.

            There are other minor differences in worker’s compensation law between New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but when it comes to lump sum settlements it is important to know what is being resolved. If an injured worker fails to get the proper legal advice, they can put themselves in a dangerous situation where they could resolve their case for too small an amount and not properly include things like permanent injuries in both Massachusetts and NH, and scarring and future medical bills in Massachusetts.

            At Parnell & McKay, we have experienced worker’s compensation attorneys who can give you the advice you need to maximize your case’s settlement and make sure your rights are protected. Please contact us today if you were injured at work and need help navigating the worker’s compensation arena. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


            New Hampshire made substantial changes to the way we calculate child support in the Granite State. Generally, the way child support is calculated is to take the person owing child support’s net income and then take a percentage of that net income as child support. Traditionally, this was 25% for one child, 33% for two children, and 40% for 3 or more. With the new changes, these figures can change fairly dramatically.

            Here is the link to the new child support guidelines tables. As you can see, gone are the round numbers we used previously, and instead we have more defined figures based on each parties’ income. The more you make, the less percentage is taken out of your income. The problem that was being generated was high income wage earners were getting stuck with significant child support amounts. For instance, under the new rules a wage earner making $14,000 or more will pay 19% for one child, 26% for two children, 31% for three children, and 33.5% for four or more children. For a person who makes approximately $5,300.00, the figures will be 23% for one child, 31.5% for two children, 38% for three children, and 40.5% for four or more children. This helps better calculate child support amounts that are more commensurate with the wages one earns.

            The new guidelines also call for specific amounts for three children, and now have a four or more children option. Three children are generally much more common than once anticipated, so having a specific calculation for three children will help keep the child support figures more accurate and in line with what each wage earner makes.

            These child support calculation changes went into effect on July 1st, 2013 and are the law of New Hampshire. If you need assistance with any modification of child support, either based on the three year modification as a matter of right, or a substantial change in circumstances, contact the experienced family attorneys of Parnell & McKay.