I’ve Been Injured In A Car Accident. How Can A Lawyer Help Me?

I’ve been injured in a car accident. How can a lawyer help me?

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, chances are good that life has become a bit hectic. On top of your busy day-to-day, you may now have to deal with getting to and keeping track of doctors’ appointments; endless back and forths with your insurance provider regarding your rates; scheduling repairs to your vehicle; and countless other things.

You may have lost time at work because of your injury, and you probably have incurred out of pocket costs for treatment. Car accidents are traumatic events, and adding to these stressors may be a new found fear of travel that will at some point need to be addressed. You may even have suffered a permanent disability.

In all likelihood, if you are looking for help from a lawyer, now is a low point in your life. You may feel overwhelmed by the recovery process, both with regard to your injuries and the money you’re out because of them. While neither suitable nor necessary in all situations, retaining an experienced lawyer may enable you to focus on what’s important: getting better.

The law says that you shouldn’t have to suffer because of someone else’s carelessness, but unfortunately it doesn’t say so this concisely. An attorney experienced in the field of personal injury can help guide you through what can be a complicated process, advocating as necessary on your behalf. Insurance companies may not offer all that you’re entitled to, and an experienced attorney is in a better position to know whether they have.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’ve been hurt or injured in Connecticut, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Strict Liability

In a previous posting, I discussed the definition of a “tort,” and talked about the three types of torts. I also answered the questions “what is an intentional tort,” and “what is an unintentional tort.” If you missed it, you can find those posts here:

To recap, the three categories of torts are (1) intentional torts, (2) unintentional torts, and (3) strict liability cases. An “strict liability case” is somewhere in between intentional torts and unintentional torts. In strict liability cases, the mere fact that you did something is enough to make you liable for it, regardless of whether or not you meant to.

The most common example of a strict liability case is a dog bite. In Connecticut (and in many other places), a person is strictly liable if his dog bites someone pursuant to Section 22-357 of the Connecticut General Statutes (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-357). If anyone is interested, I wrote a little bit about this in my Christmas Blog, which can be found here:

Strict liability cases are relatively few and far between. This is because the law does not like to make it so there is no defense for an action. In a strict liability case, the actor is liable for his actions no matter his reasons behind them.

As always, the information provided here is intended only to provide an overview of the law of strict liability. It does not replace the advice of competent legal counsel. If you believe you may have a case for an unintentional tort, you should call an attorney in your area.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Unintentional Torts

In a previous posting, I discussed the definition of a “tort,” and talked about the three types of torts. If you missed it, you can find that post here:

To recap, the three categories of torts are (1) intentional torts, (2) unintentional torts, and (3) strict liability cases. An “unintentional tort” is the opposite of an intentional tort: a wrongful act done without the intent to cause injury. Most of the time, unintentional torts arise because someone did something careless.

Common examples of unintentional torts are negligence and recklessness. A person may be liable for negligence if he owed you a duty, but carelessly breached that duty, causing you to incur damages. A person may be liable for recklessness if he knew that his actions posed a substantial risk of injury, but disregarded that risk and continued to act as he had.

This is, of course, a simplified explanation, and the information provided here is intended only to provide an overview of the law. It does not replace the advice of competent legal counsel. If you believe you may have a case for an unintentional tort, call an attorney in your area.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Intentional Torts

What is tort law? “Tort law” is the section of law that allows injured people to obtain compensation for injuries inflicted by others. It is what most people refer to as “injury law,” or “personal injury law.” A “tort” is a wrongful act that leads to civil liability.

There are three categories of torts: intentional torts, unintentional torts, and strict liability cases. An intentional tort is an act done with the intent of affecting the victim in a way that is forbidden. Classic examples of intentional torts include assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Precisely what a person seeking to assert an intentional tort must prove varies by the tort. However, for every intentional tort, there must be intentional action. If injury is caused due to carelessness, the case begins to sound in unintentional tort.

The information contained here is intended only to provide an overview of the law. It does not replace the advice of competent legal counsel. If you believe you may have a case for an intentional tort, call an attorney in your area.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler

Twelve Days of Tort Law – The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the court,

Not a lawsuit was pending, not even a tort;

The court clerks were lined by the exit with glee,

In a mere fifteen minutes, they knew they’d be free;

It was 4:45, and the court wasn’t be busy,

‘Til a young lawyer came in, all in a tizzy;

His papers were crinkled, his suit was a mess,

Everyone knew he was in some sort of distress;

The head clerk walked up to the window and sighed,

“It’s the day before Christmas, and we’re closing at five.”

The young lawyer yelled through the glass with despair,

“I have fifteen more minutes, you’re not being fair!

My tax dollars pay you to be here, you see,

And I am a lawyer, so you listen to me!

I need this order signed by the judge, and I need it now,

You have ten minutes to find him, you miserable cow!”

The clerk held her tongue, just as she’d been trained,

And replied with a smile that clearly was strained,

“Of course, counsel, I’ll send someone right away,”

Plotting while speaking how to lead him astray.

“That’s more like it,” the attorney yelled, shrilly,

Completely unaware that he was about to look silly.

The clerk took the motion, and as she walked off to the back,

Heard him yell into his phone “what a miserable hack!”

She looked down at the pleading, and noticed with glee,

That it didn’t comply with Rule 4.1(b)!

At 4:59, she returned to the counter,

The rest of the office all gathered around her.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said merrily,

“This doesn’t comply with Rule 4.1(b).

The margin down here is only one inch, you see,

So I cannot time stamp it as proscribed by Rule 4.3.

I am going to require correction pursuant to Rule 4.1(d),

Which for you, my good sir, means, unfortunately,

You’ll have to come back in two days, though I hate to deprive,

It’s the day before Christmas, and we’re closing at five!”

I hope you enjoyed our Festive Compendium! You can find the rest of the series here:

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Twelve Days of Tort Law – Statutes of Limitations

On the eleventh day of Christmas, a marshal served on me! A complaint three months past expiry!

Welcome to part eleven of The Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler’s festive twelve part pseudo-satirical series on Connecticut personal injury law: statutes of limitations.

In Connecticut (and the rest of the country), a person can only be sued for a certain length of time after whatever they did to get sued. Tort claims, for example, cannot be brought more than three years from the date of the tort. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577. That battery action Little Billy wants to bring against Little Susie? He better bring it within three years.

The reason for this? Well, there are a lot. One important reason that get cited a lot is that as time passes, people forget the details of what they saw. Do you remember exactly where you were at 5:33 p.m. on August 16, 1998? Do you recall who you were with? Can you tell the jury what you were doing that night? Are you sure about that? Then how could you possibly recall under oath how long the liquid alleged to have been spilled on the floor had in fact been on that floor at 6:33 p.m. on the night of August 16, 1998? You can’t? No further questions, your honor.

As straight forward as it seems, it is not uncommon for injured people to lose out on the compensation they deserve because of a missed statute of limitations. The statute of limitations period is different for different types of actions, and only a lawyer can tell you how long you have. If you’ve been injured, don’t sit on your right. Call an attorney to discuss what you can do and how long you have to do it!

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Want to read more? Find the rest of the series here:

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Twelve Days of Tort Law – Service of Process

On the tenth day of Christmas, a marshal served on me! A complaint, but he did so improperly!

Welcome to part ten of The Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler’s festive twelve part pseudo-satirical series on Connecticut personal injury law: service of process.

Being the astute reader you are, there is a good chance you noticed that each of these festive law blogs begins with a marshal serving a complaint. Today we are going to learn what that means.

Much like my festive tort law postings, civil lawsuits in Connecticut begin with a state marshal serving a complaint. Why, you ask? Simple. Because I think it’s funny.

Oh, you meant why do Connecticut lawsuits begin with service by a marshal? Well, that’s simple too. Because Connecticut General Statute § 52-45a says they have to. If not, the lawsuit can be dismissed for insufficient service of process. What does this mean? Well, that’s not so simple. If you’re crazy enough to be interested in it, you should go to law school (or have a drink with a group of lawyers).

The take away? If you are served by a marshal, you need to take it seriously. DO NOT disregard it. Instead, call an attorney.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Want to read more? Find the rest of the series here:

Copyright Christopher Mutchler – Wethersfield, CT – 2018

Snapchat: Innocent Fun, or a Statutory Bar to Patentability?

Back in law school, I wrote an article contemplating the implications of young employees posting to Snapchat images of proprietary designs prior to those designs being patented. Today, I will address that issue from the prospective of defense counsel seeking to challenge the validity of such a patent in an infringement litigation.

As a disclaimer, it is important to note that I am not licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and as such cannot speak to the implications of anything contained herein on patent prosecution, either in pre or post grant proceedings. Rather, the contents of this article are relevant only with particular regard to an invalidity defense in the context of a suit for patent infringement. For advice on the implications of this or anything else on patent prosecution, contact a licensed patent attorney.

For those who don’t know, Snapchat is a social media platform whereby users communicate with one another via transmitting photographs and video set to “disappear” after a finite time period. Messages can either be privately exchanged between two individuals, or more public, up to and including publicly accessible.

For any of what follows to make sense, we need to do a quick high-level rundown of patent law. Patent protection is governed by Title 35 if the United States Code, of which §§ 101, 102, 103, and 112 are, generally, most impactful upon patentability. 35 U.S.C. § 101 dictates patentable subject matter; 35 U.S.C. § 102 proscribes “novelty” as a condition for patentability; 35 U.S.C. § 103 proscribes “non-obviousness” as a condition for patentability; and 35 U.S.C. § 112 proscribes the form of patent prosecution documents.

Patent infringement is a Federal cause of action governed by 35 U.S.C. §§ 271, et seq. Almost always, when an action for patent infringement is commenced, the defendant accused of having infringed will contest the validity of the patent(s) alleged to have been infringed. Pragmatically speaking, this is because invalidity is, in essence, a complete defense to infringement. To over-simplify for the sake of clarity, you cannot infringe a patent that is not a valid patent.

35 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1) provides that an inventor shall not be entitled to a patent for an invention that has been in public use prior to the time of filing. There are exceptions to this generality, particularly where (35 U.S.C. § 102(b)) the inventor himself or his joint inventor committed the public disclosure, which disclosure was made one year or less prior to the effective filing date. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that none of these exceptions apply.

How does any of this relate to Snapchat? When I initially began the thought process behind this article, I was a young law student who had freshly obtained a degree in engineering. While I was camped out in the library with my nose crammed in law textbooks, many of my engineering friends were off working on exciting new technology, which they would document on Snapchat. Between the jealousy I felt and the amount of studying I had been doing, I could think only one thing: “Is that a public disclosure?”

Since that time, I have mulled the issue over quite a bit, and discussed it with much more experienced attorneys than myself. In so-doing, I have arrived at this conclusion: it very well may be.

You will notice that the answer is neither definitively “yes” nor definitively “no.” As is so often the case in law, it depends heavily on the facts of each particular case. For portrayal on Snapchat to invalidate a patent, it would have to be substantially more than a three-second photograph you sent to your mother with a new technology barely visible in the background. Such an instance would not be “public use” within the scope of § 102(a). However, a large publicly traded company that mistakenly transmitted a fifteen-minute video of an engineer thoroughly explaining a new technology for the public to view, and which then failed to notice its mistake for several weeks, may very well be invalid pursuant to § 102(a). Between those two extremes is an area of grey depending heavily on the specific facts of the disclosure.

The moral of the story? Put your phone away at work. It probably won’t amount to anything, but if it does, it could be bad. Better safe than sorry.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, The Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler

Twelve Days of Tort Law: Assault

On the ninth day of Christmas, a marshal served on me! A complaint alleging I assaulted someone civil-y!

Welcome to part nine of The Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler’s festive twelve part pseudo-satirical series on Connecticut personal injury law: assault.

Assault is a very simple tort, but one that is often confused due to its portrayal in popular culture. Assault is an act intended to create reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. You do not need to actually hit someone to assault them, you just have to make them fear that you are about to hit them. That assault did not require any actual touching absolutely blew my mind in my first year of law school, and I could not get beyond the fact that the professor had addressed its portrayal to the contrary in popular culture. To get a better understanding, lets use the same example as in battery.

Here it is again. It’s Christmas morning, and the family is opening presents. Little Billy’s presents are wrapped in blue wrapping paper, and Little Susie’s presents are wrapped in pink wrapping paper. Little Billy unwraps a toy dump truck, and begins shrieking in excitement. Little Susie unwraps a doll house, and begins to cry. Little Susie walks over to Little Billy and gives him a great big shove.

“MY DUMP TRUCK!” She screams.

In Part Eight, we learned that Little Susie has committed a battery. But has she also committed an assault?

As is so often the case in law, the answer is “it depends.” We need more facts to say definitively whether an assault has been committed. There absolutely has been a harmful or offensive touching, and Little Susie clearly acted intentionally. The crux of an assault claim, however, is whether the person assaulted was “reasonably apprehensive” of the harmful or offensive contact.

If Little Billy had his back turned and Little Susie snuck up behind him without his knowing, then Little Billy could not have been put in “reasonable apprehension.” This is because under these facts, Little Billy did not know that Little Susie was about to push him, and thus could not have been fearful of being pushed.

If, however, Little Susie did not sneak up on Little Billy but instead turned a bright shade of red, began stomping her feet and pounding her firsts, let out a shriek and charged Little Billy, then we may have a case for assault. All of these actions would make a reasonable person fearful that they were about to be hit. If Little Billy watched Little Susie act in this way before Little Susie Pushed him, Little Susie may very well be liable to Little Billy for assault.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.

Copyright Christopher Mutchler

Twelve Days of Tort Law: Battery

On the eighth day of Christmas, a marshal served on me! A complaint alleging (civil) battery!

Welcome to part eight of The Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler’s festive twelve part pseudo-satirical series on Connecticut personal injury law: battery.

Most people have heard the term battery in the criminal context, but what you may not be aware is that battery can be brought as a civil action as well. Battery is defined at common law as unconsented-to intentional contact with another that is either harmful or offensive. What does that mean?

Here’s an example. It’s Christmas morning, and the family is opening presents. Little Billy’s presents are wrapped in blue wrapping paper, and Little Susie’s presents are wrapped in pink wrapping paper. Little Billy unwraps a toy dump truck, and begins shrieking in excitement. Little Susie unwraps a doll house, and begins to cry. Little Susie walks over to Little Billy and gives him a great big shove.

“MY DUMP TRUCK!” She screams.

Little Susie touched Little Billy “harmfully” when she shoved him. She meant to do it. Little Billy did not consent to being shoved. Little Susie may be liable to Little Billy for battery. Simple.

Life’s not always fair, but it may be fairer than you think it is. If you’re in a bind, the Law Office of Christopher J. Mutchler may be able to help.