What Does a Judge do in a Personal Injury Case Trial?

The lawsuit process can be intimidating. When you’re injured and are considering filing a lawsuit, it’s hard to know where to begin. Even after hiring a lawyer and getting started, the process can be hard to figure out. What do you have to do? What does your lawyer do? What happens at trial? What happens between now and then?To help you understand the lawsuit process, let’s look at a one specific piece of the personal injury process: the judge’s role. Specifically, let’s look at what the judge will and won’t do if your case goes to trial.Judges, Cases and the LawIn a personal injury case, the judge serves as a trier of law. The trier of law is responsible for making a ruling over the legal issues brought up during the course of the trial.For example, a woman sues the driver of the car that struck her while she was riding a bike. Because the injured woman filed a lawsuit, it is up to her to prove that the other driver was at fault. …

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Cyclist Wins Pothole Injury Compensation

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2014 » 3 » Cyclist Wins Pothole Injury CompensationCyclist Wins Pothole Injury CompensationA cyclist from Hertfordshire has won his case against the County Council after he lost his job due to the injuries he suffered in a road accident when he came off his bicycle.Alan Curtis, who lives in Bushey, was earning £96,000 a year in a charity fundraising directorship when he came off his bike after it hit a pothole in October 2009.The accident in Rickmansworth led to him suffering a fractured skull, leaving him with hearing problems and short-term memory loss; the Evening Standard reports.Mr Curtis, who also broke his arm in the accident, was eventually able to return to work, but had to take a less demanding post with a salary of only £30,000. He decided to sue the County Council due to its failure to maintain the road surface and ensure the safety of riders.The bicycle accident claim was successful as Judge Pittaway QC awarded Mr Curtis £69,425, which includes £20,000 to cover any potential unemployment he may suffer should he be required to change jobs again. In making his adjudication, he said the accident will either have occurred because of Mr Curtis being thrown off his bike by hitting the pothole, or losing balance as he tried to swerve to avoid it.Commenting after the award, the 56-year old told the Evening Standard, “I’m quite pleased. I have always said I never came into this for the money and I didn’t expect to win a life-changing amount.”But the more I thought about it and the more I realised I have got permanent injuries that I will have for the rest of my life, I just felt that someone ought to be held to account. In that sense, justice has been done.”The verdict was welcomed by Mr Curtis’s solicitor Kevin O’Sullivan, who said the judgement may open the “floodgates” and lead to a series of further pothole injury compensation claims against Councils that fail to maintain the roads. Describing the outcome as “great news for cyclists”, he criticised Hertfordshire County Council for not deciding to settle out of Court. However, the local authority was unhappy with the verdict. Its spokesman said, “Mr Curtis’s pothole accident is regrettable. However, Hertfordshire County Council is disappointed with the outcome of the judgement.”The possibility of a large number of claims arising against Councils for pothole related accidents may be increased by the high number of such problems occurring on roads across the country, following the severe weather endured in the winter.However, in his budget speech last week, chancellor George Osborne acknowledged that “our roads have taken a battering” and revealed that a £200 million cash pot will be made available for Councils to apply to access in order to fund road repairs.This may lead to fewer problems in some local authorities, but where pothole accidents do occur, it may be that Councils unsuccessfully applying for funds attempt to use a lack of financial support as a defence. Conversely, those that do receive funds but fail to repair potholes may find any cases that arise harder to defend.By Francesca WitneyOr Call freephone 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

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Ever-so-slight delay improves decision-making accuracy

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have found that decision-making accuracy can be improved by postponing the onset of a decision by a mere fraction of a second. The results could further our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions characterized by abnormalities in cognitive function and lead to new training strategies to improve decision-making in high-stake environments. The study was published in the March 5 online issue of the journal PLoS One.”Decision making isn’t always easy, and sometimes we make errors on seemingly trivial tasks, especially if multiple sources of information compete for our attention,” said first author Tobias Teichert, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist in neuroscience at CUMC at the time of the study and now an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. “We have identified a novel mechanism that is surprisingly effective at improving response accuracy.The mechanism requires that decision-makers do nothing — just briefly. “Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors,” said last author Jack Grinband, PhD, associate research scientist in the Taub Institute and assistant professor of clinical radiology (physics). “This way, rather than working longer or harder at making the decision, the brain simply postpones the decision onset to a more beneficial point in time.”In making decisions, the brain integrates many small pieces of potentially contradictory sensory information. “Imagine that you’re coming up to a traffic light — the target — and need to decide whether the light is red or green,” said Dr. Teichert. “There is typically little ambiguity, and you make the correct decision quickly, in a matter of tens of milliseconds.”The decision process itself, however, does not distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Hence, a task is made more difficult if irrelevant information — a distractor — interferes with the processing of the target. …

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Recession’s after-effects could lead to cheating and workplace theft suggests new study

Oct. 16, 2013 — We like to think we’d stick to our ethical principles no matter what. But when people feel financially deprived — as many did from losses suffered thanks to the last market and banking meltdown — they are more likely to relax their moral standards and transgress to improve their financial situation. They are also more likely to judge other deprived moral offenders who do the same more leniently, says a new paper to be published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.”We found that most respondents did not think financial deprivation would lead them to behave immorally,” said Nina Mažar, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and one of the lead researchers of the study. “Yet, once they actually experienced financial deprivation, they were more likely to loosen their ethical principles.”This could result in workplace sabotage and the pilfering of supplies and equipment, the paper says. Public policies that entrench financial inequalities, such as through regressive taxation plans or tax cuts for the wealthy, could also lead to more cheating inside and outside the office.And those who interpret or enforce policies or regulations as part of their work — in corporations, law enforcement, or the judicial system — need to be mindful of the deprivation effect too. Temporary upsets in their own financial position could lead them to go easier on others demonstrating unethical behaviour while under financial stress, the paper says.There are many ways people assess their financial health. But research has found one of the strongest influences is comparing oneself to other people. A sense of financial deprivation can happen when people simply feel financially inferior to their peers.The findings are based on a series of experiments that studied people’s views about dishonest behaviour, and how they behaved once they were induced to feel financially-deprived themselves. The effects were observed both in experiments where people actually experienced financial loss and in those where they were merely made to feel financially-deprived, relative to others.The effects were lessened however, when people saw that acting unethically either would be unfair, or would not improve their financial situation — or when they accepted that their financial position was deserved.Perceptions of fairness were key to participants’ decisions to act honestly or dishonestly, said Prof. …

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Why are consumers more likely to participate in online gaming than gambling?

Sep. 10, 2013 — Consumers are more likely to participate in online betting if it’s called “gaming” rather than “gambling,” according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.”Changing an industry label from gambling to gaming affects what consumers, especially non-users, think of betting online,” write authors Ashlee Humphreys (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and Kathryn A. LaTour (Cornell University). “A label like gaming prompts all sorts of implicit associations like entertainment and fun, while a label like gambling can prompt seedier implicit associations like crime.”These largely unconscious associations affect what people think of the industry and even their intention to participate, the authors explain. The process of changing perceptions, called framing, has an impact on whether or not people think the industry is socially acceptable. And framing can occur merely by changing a word.The authors analyzed newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for the language used to describe online betting. They analyzed coverage of “Black Friday,” April 15, 2011, when the US government shut down the three largest online betting sites. Newspapers shifted the way they described the online activity, framing it more as a crime, which led to a shift in consumer judgments about the legitimacy of online casinos, especially among non-users.The authors conducted two experiments to explore what causes consumers to make different judgments about gambling. They found that “rags-to-riches” or “get-rich-quick” narratives prompted a set of favorable or unfavorable implicit associations among participants. In a stronger test of their hypothesis, the authors changed only one word in the narratives — gambling or gaming — and found that the “gaming” label caused non-users to judge online betting as more legitimate. …

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Unattractive people more likely to be bullied at work

July 17, 2013 — It’s common knowledge that high school can be a cruel environment where attractive students are considered “popular,” and unattractive kids often get bullied. While that type of petty behavior is expected to vanish with adulthood, new research proves it does not.Colleagues can be just as immature as classmates.The study by Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and Brent Scott from Michigan State University is the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace.In “Beauty, Personality, and Affect as Antecedents of Counterproductive Work Behavior Receipt,” recently published in Human Performance, the researchers examine counterproductive work behavior and its effect on employees. They show that physical attractiveness plays as much of a role as personality in how a person is treated in the workplace.The researchers surveyed 114 workers at a health care facility, asking them how often their co-workers treated them cruelly, including saying hurtful things, acting rudely and making fun of them. Through digital photos, the workers’ “attractiveness” was then judged by others who didn’t know them.”Our research is novel because it focuses on how coworkers treat attractive and unattractive colleagues,” says Judge, who specializes in management psychology, gender, leadership personality and career and life success. “We find that unattractive individuals are more likely the subject of rude, uncivil and even cruel treatment by their coworkers. And, not only do we, as a society, perceive attractive and unattractive coworkers differently, we act on those perceptions in ways that are hurtful.”Considerable research has been done in psychology, management and economics demonstrating that “beauty is good” for labor market outcomes, such as earnings, performance ratings and career success. Attractive people are more self-confident and have higher self-esteem and they are perceived as more intelligent and moral. Research even indicates that seeing attractive individuals puts us in a better mood.”Given that physical attractiveness is not a bona fide occupational qualification for most jobs, our new findings are problematic for society,” Judge says. “Worse, research reliably shows that we’re more influenced by attractiveness than we are willing to admit.”It’s a problem with no easy solution, especially given the increasingly visual nature of communication, according to Judge, who has written and been interviewed extensively about his gender, ambition and work stress research, among other studies.”Awareness is surely one important step,” Judge says. “If we recognize our biases and are more open and honest about their pervasiveness, we’ll be in much better shape to combat the influence.”

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Women reject sexually promiscuous peers when making female friends

June 3, 2013 — College-aged women judge promiscuous female peers — defined by bedding 20 sexual partners by their early 20s — more negatively than more chaste women and view them as unsuitable for friendship, finds a study by Cornell University developmental psychologists.Notably, participants’ preference for less sexually active women as friends remained even when they personally reported liberal attitudes about casual sex or a high number of lifetime lovers.Men’s views, on the other hand, were less uniform — favoring the sexually permissive potential friend, the non-permissive one or showing no preference for either when asked to rate them on 10 different friendship attributes. Men’s perceptions were also more dependent on their own promiscuity: Promiscuous men favored less sexually experienced men in just one measure — when they viewed other promiscuous men as a potential threat to steal their own girlfriend.The findings suggest that though cultural and societal attitudes about casual sex have loosened in recent decades, women still face a double standard that shames “slutty” women and celebrates “studly” men, said lead author Zhana Vrangalova, a Cornell graduate student in the field of human development. The study, titled “Birds of a Feather? Not When it Comes to Sexual Permissiveness” and published in the early online edition of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, reports that such social isolation may place promiscuous women at greater risk for poor psychological and physical health outcomes.”For sexually permissive women, they are ostracized for being ‘easy,’ whereas men with a high number of sexual partners are viewed with a sense of accomplishment,” Vrangalova said. “What surprised us in this study is how unaccepting promiscuous women were of other promiscuous women when it came to friendships — these are the very people one would think they could turn to for support.”She added that prior research shows that men often view promiscuous women as unsuitable for long-term romantic relationships, leaving these women outside of many social circles.”The effect is that these women are really isolated,” Vrangalova said. She suggested future research to determine whom they could befriend — perhaps straight or gay men who would be accepting of their behaviors.For the study, 751 college students provided information about their past sexual experience and their views on casual sex. They read a near-identical vignette about a male or female peer, with the only difference being the character’s number of lifetime sexual partners (two or 20). Researchers asked them to rate the person on a range of friendship factors, including warmth, competence, morality, emotional stability and overall likability.Across all female participants, women — regardless of their own promiscuity — viewed sexually permissive women more negatively on nine of ten friendship attributes, judging them more favorably only on their outgoingness. Permissive men only identified two measures, mate guarding and dislike of sexuality, where they favored less sexually active men as friends, showing no preference or favoring the more promiscuous men on the eight other variables; even more sexually modest men preferred the non-permissive potential friend in only half of all variables.The authors posit that evolutionary concerns may be leading men and women to disapprove of their bed-hopping peers as friends. They may actually be seeking to guard their mates from a threat to their relationship, Vrangalova said.In the case of promiscuous women rejecting other women with a high number of sexual partners, Vrangalova suggested that they may be seeking to distance themselves from any stigma that is attached to being friends with such women.The authors report that the findings could aid parents, teachers, counselors, doctors and others who work with young people who may face social isolation due to their sexual activity.The study is co-authored by Cornell grad student Rachel E. …

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Alternative medicine use by MS patients now mapped

Apr. 19, 2013 — A major Nordic research project involving researchers from the University of Copenhagen has, for the first time ever, mapped the use of alternative treatment among multiple sclerosis patients — knowledge which is important for patients with chronic disease and the way in which society meets them.

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often use alternative treatments such as dietary supplements, acupuncture and herbal medicine to facilitate their lives with this chronic disease. This is the result of a new study of how MS patients use both conventional and alternative treatments which has been carried out by researchers from five Nordic countries. The results have been published in two scientific journals, the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health and Autoimmune Diseases.

“What we see is that patients do not usually use alternative treatments for treating symptoms, but as a preventative and strengthening element,” says Lasse Skovgaard, industrial PhD candidate from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Society, who has been involved in conducting the questionnaire-based study among 3,800 people with MS in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease which attacks the central nervous system, and which can lead to a loss of mobility and sight. Denmark is one of the countries with the highest incidence of the disease worldwide, with approx. 12,500 MS patients. At the same time, the number of MS patients in the West is increasing, posing considerable challenges in respect of treatment, prevention and rehabilitation.

Access to knowledge bank

Together with researchers from the five other Nordic countries, Lasse Skovgaard has spent three years gathering the new data, and he is delighted at what it offers: “Within the field of health research, it is often a question of studying the extent to which a particular type of drug affects a particular symptom. However, it is equally as important to look at how people with a chronic disease, for example, use different treatments to cope with their situation. Here, MS patients offer valuable experience. Their experiences constitute a knowledge bank which we must access and learn from,” he says.

Lasse Skovgaard draws attention to the significance of this new knowledge because, if people with chronic disease are better able to manage their lives, it can potentially save society large sums of money.

“There is a lot of talk about ‘self-care competence’, in other words patients helping themselves to get their lives to function. Here, many people with a chronic disease find they benefit from using alternative treatments, so we should not ignore this possibility,” says Lasse Skovgaard.

At the same time, he emphasises that knowing more about why patients choose particular treatments is important in relation to improving patient safety because of the possible risks involved in combining conventional and alternative medicine.

Growing use of alternative treatments

According to the latest Health and Sickness Study from the Danish National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) in 2010, one in four Danes say that they have tried one or more types of alternative treatments within the past twelve months. Among MS patients, the use of alternative medicine has been growing steadily over the past fifteen years. In the researchers’ latest study, more than half of the respondents say that they either combine conventional and alternative medicine or only use alternative medicine.

“We cannot ignore the fact that people with chronic disease use alternative treatments to a considerable extent, and that many of them seem to benefit from doing so. It doesn’t help to only judge this from a medical point of view or say that alternative treatments are nonsense — rather, we must try to understand it,” says Lasse Skovgaard.

Highly qualified women top the list

The study shows that, among MS patients using alternative treatments, there is a significantly bigger proportion of people with a high level of education compared to those who do not use alternative treatments. There is also a larger proportion of highly paid people and of younger women.

“Some critics are of the opinion that when alternative treatments are so popular, it is because they appeal to naïve people looking for a miraculous cure. But our results indicate that it is primarily the well-educated segment that is subscribing to alternative treatments. And that using alternative treatments is part of a lifestyle choice,” says Lasse Skovgaard.

He hopes that the new knowledge will improve communication regarding how the chronically ill use alternative treatments in combination with conventional medicine:

“We see that so many people are combining conventional medicine with alternative treatment that it should be taken seriously by the health service. Until now, there hasn’t been much focus on the doctor-patient dialogue in relation to the alternative methods used by the chronically ill to manage their lives,” says Lasse Skovgaard. He says that the research group is continuing to analyse the results and, among other things, is conducting several interview studies based on the results of the questionnaires. The interview studies will, for example, provide additional knowledge on how patients perceive the risks associated with using alternative medicine and explore why some patients turn their backs completely on conventional medicine.

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