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Seattle – Two construction workers were injured and taken to Harborview Medical Center after they after they were injured this morning in an accident at a parking garage under construction at the intersection of First Avenue and King Street.

The two men were working on the roof of the structure when they were struck by a wall of rebar. One worker suffered moderate to serious injuries while the second man’s injuries weren’t as serious, according to the Seattle Fire Department.

Under Washington law, the general contractor in-charge of the construction has an obligation to enforce job safety work regulations.  It is important after these types of events that a complete and prompt investigation is conducted to determine whether safety regulations were violated and whether the men involved would be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact one of our lawyers.

According to the Spokesman Review, Canadian mining company Teck Metals, Inc. has admitted in U.S. District Court to dumping toxic metals and other pollution into the Columbia River near the Washington border during the past century.

The legal stipulation released Monday, September 10, 2012, comes a week before the company is set to defend itself in a trial brought by the Colville Confederated Tribes and the State of Washington.

The company’s smelter and ore processing operations in Trail, B.C., discharged hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous materials and metals from slag and industrial sewage.

A pair of dogs that had bitten at least one person before they ran wild in Everett on Saturday, attacking five people and prompting police to warn residents to stay indoors. Everett police and animal-control officers are investigating the owner of the two dogs.

In the first attack on Saturday, officers were called to the 1300 block of Lombard Avenue around 6:30 a.m. after a 44-year-old man suffered bites to his legs and back. The victim told officers that the two dogs crossed the street and attacked him. The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police tracked down the dogs, a female pit bull and a female boxer, and witnessed one of the animals kill a cat. One officer was bitten on the leg by one of the dogs when he tried to coax the animal into the back of his patrol car. The dogs ran off when the officer used his Taser on them.

Icicle, which processes seafood throughout Alaska, has agreed to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act resulting from leaks of an ozone-depleting refrigerant aboard its seafood vessels and in processing facilities, according to a consent decree lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company has agreed to repair leaks in its vessels and facilities, according to an Aug. 10 news release from the EPA’s Seattle office.

“There is a clear link between the deterioration of the ozone layer and the release of certain substances used for refrigeration,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement at EPA’s Seattle office. “Companies using these chemicals in the course of business must do so responsibly by repairing leaks and preventing releases into the atmosphere.”

The settlement concerns the improper release and management of R-22, an ozone-depleting refrigerant used on the company’s vessels and at its seafood processing facilities. The consent decree, which includes Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods Inc. and several of its subsidiaries, was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.

Harvard Medical School researchers have determined Northport, Washington, a tiny 296-resident border town, has 10 to 15 times the normal rates of the inflammatory bowel disease. The town is located downwind and downriver of a smelter in Trail, British Columbia run by Teck Resources, which for nearly a century funneled pollution through the narrow canyon of the Columbia River. Residents have long suspected a link between pollution from the smelter and their high incidence of inflammatory bowel disease.

For nearly a century, the Canadian smelter pumped slag, a byproduct of metals refining, directly into the river. More than 10 million tons of the granular slag created the “black sand” beaches of the upper Columbia, a 150-mile reach of the river between the Canadian border and Grand Coulee Dam. The slag contains 25 compounds that include lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Liquid mercury and other metals also flowed from the smelter’s sewer systems into the river. More pollutants came out of the plant’s smokestacks.

In the 1980s, the state placed air monitors in Northport which detected elevated levels of arsenic and cadmium. In the early 1990s, anglers in the upper Columbia River reported seeing beads of liquid mercury floating in the water. “When we were kids walking to school, we could smell it in the air,” said a 56-year-old resident of Northport who grew up about 15 miles from the smelter’s stacks.

You buy insurance to protect yourself against lawsuits and other claims in the event that you negligently injure another person on the road or at home. But what happens if you injure someone in your own family, even your own child, by accident? Is that same liability insurance available to help compensate your child or injured family member? The short answer is yes. Your child or injured family member may assert an insurance claim against your own liability policy to obtain compensation for their injuries. You should not ignore this important source of compensation that you purchased with your insurance policy.

In the aftermath of a major injury to someone in your family, the immediate focus is on getting appropriate medical attention for the injured child or family member. You may spend days or even weeks at the hospital talking to the doctors or waiting for your family member to come out of surgery. When they return home from the hospital, the medical bills will start to come in and you may begin to confront the permanent changes that will impact your family member for the balance of their lifetime.

Like any other type of insurance, you purchase insurance to protect yourself in the event you cause injury to someone else, even someone in your own family. You should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether your family member is entitled to compensation from your liability policy for the injury and the expenses related to the injury. Although compensation can never erase the harm caused by an accident, it can help provide financial assistance for the consequences of that harm.  If you fail to make a claim under these circumstances, you will only benefit the bottom line of your insurance company and let them off the hook for insurance benefits you purchased.  Our firm offers a free consultation. You may consult with our firm about a potential claim without obligation. We can tell you if you have a valid claim.

Yesterday morning, a runner was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with a head injury and multiple broken bones after she was hit by a car at a Burke-Gilman Trail intersection in North Seattle. Medics were dispatched at 9:14 a.m. to the 5800 block of Northeast 65th Street. Police said the woman runner was in the crosswalk when the car hit her.

Most people know that in a situation like this, the pedestrian probably has a right to recover against the driver of the vehicle under that driver’s insurance policy. But what do you do if the other driver is uninsured or the policy limits of their insurance do not cover your losses?

In Washington drivers are required to carry insurance with a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage, however in cases like this involving serious injuries, the injured person’s medical expenses alone are likely to exceed such a bare-bones policy-not to mention the injured person’s lost wages due to taking time off from work to recover and general damages for pain and suffering.

Over the last few months, injuries and deaths at Western State Hospital in Lakewood have been in the news. In April, there was both a murder and a suicide perpetrated by patients civilly committed in the hospital. One patient was murdered after he allegedly urinated on another sleeping patient. A fight ensued in which one patient stabbed the other patient in the ear with a pen and strangled him to death. The following day, another patient, a 20-year-old woman, committed suicide by hanging herself from her doorknob.

Today, the Seattle PI reported yet another attempted murder in the hospital. A patient is accused of attacking another patient with a metal lock in a sock and has been charged in Tacoma with assault and attempted murder. The patient pleaded guilty to fourth degree assault in April for an unrelated attack on another patient in the hospital.

After the two deaths in April, the national hospital accrediting group known as the Joint Commission started looking into safety at Western State. The Joint Commission highlighted a dozen ways in which Western has failed to meet national standards for keeping hospital patients safe from harm, including understaffing, failures to monitor patients properly, and unsafe doors. With too few nurses and psychiatrists working each shift, patients were able to harm themselves and others unseen. As far back as 2010 Western State officials had determined that hundreds of door handles and closing mechanisms above each door could be used by patients to hang themselves. The hospital began replacing door handles in October 2011, but hundreds of the old handles were still in place this spring, allowing the young woman to hang herself from her door in April.

Our law firm regularly represents fishermen, deckhands, tug workers, officers, and other seamen who work out on the water on boats.  These workers are covered under the federal Jones Act and, to collect most damages, must show that the vessel was unseaworthy or that their employer was negligent in causing their injury. 

A frequent issue that arises in these cases is an accident report filled out by the seaman that does not give sufficient detail of the event or reasons for the injury.  If you are injured at sea, it is important that you carefully describe how and why the incident occurred. Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the event.  You will need these witnesses later to prove how your injury occurred.  Why did your injury occur?  Was a piece of equipment faulty?  Give as much detail as you can in the accident report.  If you do not and leave out important information, the company will try to capitalize on this lack of information later and argue that if the incident had occurred the way you described that you would have written it down in the accident report.  Although not always possible, you may want to consult with an experienced maritime injury lawyer about the accident report.  We may be able to provide you with the correct language to make certain that the accident report is accurate and fully describes how you were injured.  Let us know if we can help.  Call us at 1-866-377-0191 anytime.

As a parent, it seems like every activity that children engage in these days now requires a parent to sign a pre-injury release to waive liability for any injuries to our children during the activity. But, are these releases valid in Washington State? Despite their widespread use, the simple answer is no. A pre-injury release signed by a parent does not release the right of the child to bring a cause of action for negligence if the child is injured during the activity. Such releases may prevent a parent from bring a lawsuit for injury to the parent-child relationship caused by the negligence of another, but the release does not prevent a child’s own personal injury action. Simply stated, a parent does not have the right to release a child’s personal injury action in a pre-injury release. See, e.g., Scott v. Pacific West Mountain Resort, 119 Wn. 2d 484 (1992) (holding pre-injury release did not bar child’s action).

So, if you are the parent of an injured child who signed a pre-injury release, you should recognize that the release does not bar your child from asserting a claim for injuries. On the other hand, if you are a sponsor of such activities for children, do not rely on a pre-injury release signed by a parent to protect your organization. The only way to protect your organization is to buy adequate insurance to cover any injuries to children during the activity.

Outside of the context of children, Washington courts have consistently upheld pre-injury liability releases for adults in the context of high-risk sporting activities, including automobile demolition derbies, scuba diving, and ski jumping. Blide v. Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., 30 Wn. App. 571, 636 P.2d 492 (1981) (mountain climbing); Boyce v. West, 71 Wn. App. 657, 862 P.2d 592 (1993) (scuba diving); Conradt v. Four Star Promotions, Inc., 45 Wn. App. 847, 728 P.2d 617 (1986) (automobile demolition derby); Hewitt v. Miller, 11 Wn. App. 72, 521 P.2d 244 (scuba diving), review denied, 84 Wn.2d 1007 (1974); Garretson v. United States, 456 F.2d 1017 (9th Cir. 1972) (ski jumping applying Washington law); Scott, 119 Wn.2d at 493 119 Wn.2d at 493 (adhering to prior law that an adult sports participant can waive liability for another’s negligence.

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