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Litigation Funding Blog

Duty of care for bystander in tree cutting accident a question for Connecticut Supreme Court

March 23, 2015

A wrongful death lawsuit has taken a decade to wend its way through the legal system, ultimately ending up in the Connecticut Supreme Court.

On Feb 8, 2005, William McDermott stopped on the sidewalk to watching the progress of tree trimming performed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. McDermott, 77, bypassed several orange traffic cones and stopped to talk to two crew members close to the tree. He was approximately 55 feet away and spent at least 15 minutes discussing work progress.

The large trunk was being cut down in sections when one rope guided 11-foot segment plummeted from about 25 feet, landed on another log and catapulted into the air hitting Mr. McDermott in the forehead. He fell backwards, striking his head on the sidewalk. Although he made it to the hospital alive, he passed away the day after the accident. McDermott’s widow filed the lawsuit, believing the state to be at fault.

Attorneys appearing for the state of Connecticut suggested that it was purely an accident, an unforeseen event. However, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that state workers had a duty of care to make certain anyone was a safe distance from the worksite, and not just Mr. McDermott.

Middletown Superior Court initially ruled the accident was indeed foreseeable and thus the state was liable. This verdict resulted in a $1.3 million award to the widow. The state appealed the case, and the decision was overturned at Appellate Court level. The plaintiff’s attorney’s responded with an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Justices will probably be several months in deliberating the salient issues involved.

During the ten-year period that it took to get this case to court, the 65-year-old widow most likely had some financial struggles with related bills. One solution for an individual in this circumstance would be applying for litigation funding.

Litigation funding, or a lawsuit loan is emergency cash advanced to a qualified plaintiff to use while they are waiting for their case’s resolution. While most plaintiffs use the funds they receive to pay for medical, funeral and burial expenses, the pre-settlement funding may also be used to pay other important financial obligations, such as rent or a mortgage, as well as car or student loans.

The only thing a plaintiff needs to do before contacting a litigation funding company is to hire an attorney and make sure the lawyer has all the right documents to proceed with building a case. The lawsuit loan company needs to know case details prior to approving any funding. Any approved funding is sent directly to a plaintiff’s bank account within 48 hours or less.

From Pre-Settlement to Post-Settlement, Litigation Funding Corporation Offers a Financial Solution

January 23, 2015

On February 8, 2005, a 77-year-old man was talking with two Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) workers who were part of a crew cutting down a 55-foot sugar maple tree in a strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the street. While he stood between the two workers, both of whom were wearing hard hats, a 10-foot-long trunk segment was cut and fell to the ground. It struck a 25-inch-long log propelling it through the air and striking the man in the forehead. The man fell backward and struck his head on the sidewalk. He was transported to the hospital where he died the next day.

After waiting over two years for the Connecticut Claims Commissioner to grant permission to sue, the man’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that state workers failed to ensure that the man was a safe distance from the work site. Under state statute, lawsuits brought against the state need the permission of the state to go forward. She was awarded over $1.3 million in January 2012 after a non-jury trial, a judge who ruled that the accident was foreseeable and the state liable, but attorneys for the state appealed stating that the accident was unforeseeable. The defense argued that the DOT work crew met the standard of reasonable conduct and the man was kept a reasonably safe distance from any and all reasonably foreseeable dangers. The decision was overturned by a panel of three justices of the Connecticut Appellate Court in August 2013.
An appellate lawyer for the plaintiff asked the state Supreme Court to hear the case and argued that the DOT didn’t even have a written policy or regulation concerning the appropriate distance to stand from a fallen tree. He also noted that no Connecticut court has ever held that an industry has the last word on the standards governing its own liability.

We all have the right to expect that our state and local government does everything possible to keep us safe on our roads, at construction sites, and more. We expect they have written policies and procedures and all employees are properly trained to protect the community. When the government and/or business fail to do so, lawsuits almost always result in safety improvements. Shielding corporations and government entities from liability or damages is not a solution. Holding those who create dangerous conditions (or allow known dangers to continue without public warning) accountable for their actions improves safety, saves lives, and prevents future harm.

Now, almost 10 years later, the suit is nearly finishing its journey through the state courts. We will wait and see the Supreme Court decision.

This case is a perfect example of the all-to-often, lengthy litigation process especially with an appeal. The death of a loved one leaves many not only in emotional turmoil, but financial distress. Burial costs are expensive and can costs thousands of dollars. The loss may also put a strain on regular monthly expenses like mortgage/rent, car payments, and ongoing monthly expenses. As a result, some people turn to litigation funding.

Legal funding companies offer pre-settlement funding and post-settlement funding to help plaintiffs survive financially while they wait for their awards. Pre-settlement litigation funding is provided by a lawsuit funding company to a plaintiff before a settlement or award, with the expectation that the plaintiff will ultimately receive compensation from the suit. Funding provides immediate access to money so the plaintiff can cover expenses while in litigation. Post-settlement funding occurs after an award has been made or a settlement reached in a lawsuit, but before the award or settlement is paid out. Some plaintiffs find that they require financial assistance because even when a settlement is reached, it can still take time for the payment to be made. A defendant could also appeal the court’s ruling, resulting in a long time before the award is paid out.

If you are involved in a wrongful death lawsuit and are considering litigation financing, Litigation Funding Corporation may be your solution. We understand that waiting out the long litigation process can be devastating especially with bills stacking up. Our legal funding services are based on a non-recourse base, meaning that we are only repaid if you win your case. Credit score and employment history are not factors in the funding decision; only the strength of your case matters. Even if your case is in appeal, we can help. Don’t struggle financially during your pending claim and don’t settle for less than you deserve when our services may be a valuable asset to you. Once we receive an application, most requests for cash advances are approved within 1 to 2 days after case documentation is received from your attorney. Don’t delay; call today!

Medical Negligence Lawsuit Filed After Young Child Dies of Cancer

August 18, 2014

In 2009, the Dickhoff family filed a lawsuit alleging that the doctor who treated their 7-year-old child failed to diagnose her rare form of cancer. The family claims that their daughter could have been cured had she been diagnosed promptly in 2006, when she was born with a suspicious lump on her buttocks.

Court documents suggest that Dr. Rachel Tollefsrud told the parents to keep a watchful eye on the lump, but not to worry about it. Inexplicably, documentation relating to the lump did not appear in the child’s medical file until she was a year old. By then, several other doctors had diagnosed the lump as cancerous. The child died in July 2013.

During the trial, the doctor commented that the Dickhoff child was the first she had treated with cancer — and because of that, she is now more aware of such anomalies when they appear. In her defense, she argued that she provided the child with the accepted standard of care, did not do anything wrong and wished she could have acted sooner. 

The outcome of the case may have interesting legal ramifications. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a judgment that allows a family or patient to ask the court for damages if a doctor’s medical negligence results in a reduction of an individual’s chances of recovery or survival.

The Dickhoff family faced enormous medical bills as they cared for their daughter until her death. They may have been in a precarious financial situation and unable to handle all their usual financial obligations with the medical costs for their child. One solution may have been for them to seek litigation funding, also called a lawsuit loan. 

Pre-settlement funding is approved and send within 48 hours for qualified plaintiffs, provided that their case meets certain criteria and that they are working with an attorney of record.

There are many benefits for plaintiffs when they apply for litigation funding. They do not have to entertain any insurance company offers to settle and do not need to have a job when they apply. There are no credit checks, no fees to apply, no monthly fees and, should the case lose in court, the lawsuit loan funds are the plaintiffs to keep, no strings attached.

Six-year-old boy dies by electrocution at abandoned commercial property

October 15, 2013

The death of a 6-year-old boy by electrocution at a site that had been inspected by a city worker has sparked a lawsuit.

Cases involving the death of young children are especially difficult for everyone, and perhaps no more so than for the city of Montgomery employee who had recently inspected an abandoned facility approximately five months prior to the boy’s death.
The young boy died in 2009, as a result of playing near an air-conditioning unit in an abandoned building on a commercial property. While playing, the young boy came into contact with live wires and was electrocuted. The property had been inspected five months before the boy’s death. Thieves had raided the air-conditioner to steal the copper wiring.

The parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit, naming the worker. The main issue in the case relates to whether or not the worker, who did the inspection onsite, is protected by state law, a law that caps damages in civil suits at $100,000. In this instance, the worker is being sued personally, not as an employee for the city, which may, or may not mean that he is protected by the law.

The electrical worker’s attorney argued in court that the law does protect city workers from damages above the existing cap, and states that in plain and clear language. The original trial court ruled the statutory cap did not apply. The case went on appeal. There is no word on when the Supreme Court intends to hear the appeal.

The boy’s parents likely have massive bills to contend with in addition to their regular expenses, and may be hard-pressed to keep up with all of them in a timely manner. A solution for them to pay those bills would be applying for litigation funding. Pre-settlement funding is an advance lawsuit loan that is sent to approved plaintiff applicants to allow them to get back their financial bearings.

Applying for a lawsuit loan is easy. It may be done online or by phone. There are not upfront payments or monthly payments, no credit checks and no hassles. Many plaintiffs find litigation funding appealing when they have nowhere else to go to get financial help.

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