Miltary Sexual Trauma (“MST”) is when a servicemember is a victim of sexual assault, forced or coerced into sexual activities, or exposed to “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”[1]  Due to the nature of the military, its esprit de corps, its command structure, and the potential for severe retaliatory action, most sexual harassment and assaults go unreported.

stockfresh_8574877_woman-showing-a-note-with-the-text-me-too_sizeS-300x200Because of the gross underreporting of MST, it can be difficult for an MST survivor to accumulate enough credible evidence that the in-service event occurred to support his or her claim.  The VA cannot use the absence of an MST report in a Veteran’s service record as evidence that the event did not take place;[2] however, the Veteran cannot simply rely upon his or her statements that the event did take place.  He or she must submit additional credible evidence.  The VA details possible evidence which can corroborate the Veteran’s statements in 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f)(5),[3] which states: Continue Reading

Arthritis and Hypertension are just two common conditions in an extensive list that the VA will grant presumptive service connection for if the symptoms manifest to a certain degree within one year after discharge from service. dreamstime_s_84139689-300x200

Usually, when a Veteran files a claim for disability benefits from the VA, he or she must show three things: (1) a current compensable condition, (2) an in-service event or injury, and (3) a direct link between the two.  With presumptive service connection, the Veteran only has to show that he or she has a current compensable condition and that he or she has met the other requirements for the presumption.  For chronic condition presumptive service, the requirements are[1]:

  1. The Veteran served for ninety days or more during a period of war,
  2. A chronic condition listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) became manifest within a prescribed period (one year after discharge from service, except leprosy, tuberculosis, and multiple sclerosis, which are three years, three years, and seven years, respectively), and
  3. This manifestation within one-year has to rise to the level of 10% under the VA disability rating schedule in 38 C.F.R. §4.40-4.150.

Several Chronic Conditions Are Accepted By The VA

The complete list of VA accepted chronic conditions is listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) and includes such common conditions for Veterans as, but is not limited to, anemia; arteriosclerosis; stones of the kidney, bladder, or gallbladder; cirrhosis of the liver; diabetes; psychoses; Raynaud’s disease; and gastric or duodenal ulcers.

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It’s all over the news; Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault.  But many people might ask, why was he convicted this time and not last time? Last year Cosby was tried, and because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict, a mistrial was declared.  So what made the big difference this time? Same victim, dreamstime_s_29662892-300x199same crime, same investigation. One key difference was the prosecution’s use of an expert witness.  What is an expert witness? How are they different than a normal witness? Expert witnesses are people with so much training and education in a specific field that they are qualified to be “experts” in a particular field.  This is important because it allows them to testify to their opinion, rather than just testifying to the facts like is required of normal witnesses.  The expert in the Cosby trial was Dr. Barbara Ziv, a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of sexual assault victims and offenders. While a sexual assault prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I had several opportunities to work with Dr. Ziv and call her as an expert witness.  In any case, where an expert is called, the expert’s schooling and work history is presented to the jury.  So, Dr. Ziv’s education in becoming a psychiatrist and her work history working in the field of sexual assault would have been analyzed in depth by both the prosecution and defense before the Judge in the case qualified her as an expert witness.  After this Dr. Ziv would have been allowed to testify to her opinion regarding the behavior of sexual assaults victims, combating many pre-conceived notions and myths held by jurors. This education of jurors from the witness stand likely played a critical part in their ultimately reaching the guilty verdict.

It’s not just in criminal cases that experts can mean the difference between success and failure.  In the right case, expert witnesses can and should be used in a personal injury case.  When people are seriously hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall, there are several experts that are used in court.  Calling an expert to testify to the cost of future medical care they will need or calling an expert to testify to the ramifications on a person’s ability to earn a living can have a huge impact on what a jury will award an injured person.  It is essential to have an attorney on your side who knows when an expert should be used, knows those best qualified in their fields, and knows how to present them to a jury.   Just like in the Cosby trial, use of an expert in a personal injury case can have a huge impact on the outcome of a case.  You need an attorney who understands that and who is skilled in their use of experts.  At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP we use expert witnesses when we believe it will help our clients’ case.

Senta Rhodes is a personal injury attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP

As the parent of a teenager, you likely have concerns about their ability to operate a vehicle safely when you are not in the car. Teenagers often feel that they are ready for the freedom that having a drivers’ license can give them, but parents often worry that their kids do not have the maturity, skill, or experience to protect themselves and others from harm on the roads.stockfresh_3258351_young-black-teenage-driver-holding-car-keys-driving-her-new-car_sizeS-300x200

Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a parent to help your teen be a safer driver. Here are some suggestions:

Step #1: Set a good example.

For your teen to be a safe driver, you should make sure to set a good example of safe driving habits. A parent who drives aggressively or impatiently, tailgates, or speeds will have a harder time convincing their teen to practice patience behind the wheel. Be a good role model for your teen!

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As a parent, selecting the right car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make for your child. Choosing the right seat for your vehicle and your child’s age and size is critical to protecting them from harm in the event of a collision.

stockfresh_7984496_baby-car-seat-toddle-car-seat-safe-child-traveling-icons_sizeS-300x300According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child restraint systems saved the lives of 6,567 children from 1975-2002. A secure and properly installed car seat can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your child from harm when you are in a collision while they are in the vehicle.

The following are some helpful tips for selecting the right car seat for your child.

  1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

There are many different types of car seats on the market made by different manufacturers. Be sure to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out how car seats may be installed. Some vehicles have lower anchors and tethers, while others require installation using the seat belt. Continue Reading

Consistent with the Trump administration’s overall effort to curb the growth of the federal government, the number of federal workplace safety inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decreased over the past year. According to an NBC News report, OSHA has lost 40 inspectors through attrition since President Donald Trump took office – 4 percent of the total inspection force, with no new hires as of Oct. 2, 2017.

stockfresh_4367909_package-ready-for-dispatch-in-warehouse_sizeS-300x200The decline in total inspectors to below 1,000 raises questions of how effectively the agency can inspect workplaces, enforce federal safety requirements, and reduce workplace accidents. While this decrease in federal bureaucracy extends across a number of federal agencies, the lack of OSHA inspectors could have a real impact on workplace safety, especially in more dangerous work environments like construction, manufacturing, and meatpacking.

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Many products are advertised and promoted to men to boost their testosterone levels. While testosterone therapy may sound appealing for its promised increase of testosterone in older men, there are numerous downsides to the treatment that can have moderate to severe and potentially long-term lasting effects.

An article titled “The Risk of Testosterone Replacement in Men” stockfresh_8396921_doctor-giving-prescription-to-patient-at-hospital_sizeS_8759de-300x200published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) “has been linked with prostate cancer” and advised that such therapy should be taken with caution. The occurrence of polycythemia, or elevated red blood cell count, is also increased for those who undergo TRT. Finally, the article reported that men who seek the treatment are found to suffer more frequently from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

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This time of year we at Grimes Teich Anderson get a lot of calls regarding falls on ice. Sometimes people fall in parking lots of businesses or outside of storefronts.  Many times these falls result in fractures and serious injuries.  With high deductibles or no health insurance, people sometimes want to know if they can sue owners for their medical bills or for pain and suffering.

In the state of North Carolina, landowners are required to exercise reasonable care to provide for the safety of those visitors who are lawfully on their property.  Whether a landowner’s care is reasonable is judged against the conduct of a reasonably prudent person undestockfresh_2071921_ice-pattern_sizeS-300x199r the circumstances.  What this means is that they are not held to higher standard, they must simply do what other reasonable people would do under the same circumstances.  Additionally, landowners have no duty to protect a person from dangers which that person knows about, or dangers that are so obvious that it would be reasonable to think the person would discover those damages.  Or to put it another way, the courts have said that a landowner doesn’t need to warn people of “apparent hazards or circumstances of which” the person has equal or superior knowledge.” Von Vicazy vs. Thoms.  More specifically about store owners, the courts in North Carolina have even said that a “proprietor of a store is not an insurer of the safety of his customers” and that there is no presumption of negligence just because a customer sustains an injury on his premises. Skipper vs. Wayne Oil Co. Inc.

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In NC, workers compensation has the right to select and is required to pay for your treating physician once they accept your claim as compensable. Whether or not they have accepted your claim as compensable is the question. If workers compensation refers you to a particular physician to treat your injury, that does not obligate them to pay for anything more than that particular visit. In other words, they can pay for as little or as much stockfresh_404317_medicine-bandage-on-human-injury-hand_sizeS-300x201treatment as they wish until they decide to accept or deny the compensability of your claim. You can’t assume that workers compensation will start paying weekly benefits if you can’t work or continue to pay for medical treatment unless your claim is accepted as compensable.

How Do You Know If  My Claim Is Compensable? 

There’s a poster in every business that has workers compensation that tells an injured worker to notify the employer in writing of an injury within 30 days and to File a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission if they wish to claim workers compensation benefits. Continue Reading

dreamstime_s_31345940-200x300The old adage “other agencies may take care of a Veteran’s family, but the VA only takes care of the Veteran” is only partially true.  In certain circumstances, family members, dependents, and survivors of Veterans may be entitled federal VA benefits.  These benefits may include an increase to the Veteran’s disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), death compensation (including Accrued, Substitution, and Non-negotiated Benefits), educational and training assistance (DEA), health care, VA home loans and housing-related assistance, and death pension.

Dependent Pay

If a Veteran has a service-connected disability rated at or greater than 30%, the Veteran’s disability payments will be increased if he or she has a spouse and/or dependents – including biological children, step-children, and eligible parents.  These increased payments for children continue until the 18th birthday of children who are not enrolled in an educational institution.  If the child enrolls in and attends courses at an educational institution, this compensation may be continued until age 26, as long as the attendance is recorded and sent to the VA.  It is the responsibility of the Veteran to record and send to the VA proof of attendance on a VA Form 21-674, and any other pertinent forms, every year.  The amount of time it takes the VA to process dependent pay can vary greatly.

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