FTC Issues Warning to Deceptive Advertisers

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The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it sent out a warning letter to more than 60 companies warning them of their failures to make adequate disclosures about their products in television and print ads. These letters went to companies who have advertised across the country, including at least 20 of the country's largest 100 advertisers. 

The FTC’s investigation, known as Operation Full Disclosure, focused on advertisements which concealed important consumer information in the fine print or in hidden parts parts of advertisements.

The FTC warned advertisers about specific problematic ads, as well as recommended that the companies review all other advertising to look for violations.  

Disclosures Must Be Noticeable

According to FTC regulations, disclosures in advertisements need to be close to the claims to which they relate—not buried in the background. Disclosures on television ads need to be on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood, and should not be obscured by other elements of the advertisement.

Many of the objectionable ads quoted a price or free trial period for a product, but did not adequately disclose hidden conditions for receiving that price. Others did not disclose issues relating to the safety or legality of a service. Still others made false claims, or included a demonstration of a product that had been materially altered.

The warnings went out to companies who advertise all kinds of products in both English and Spanish. While the FTC did not name the businesses which received the warnings, the Commission’s press release about the subject should serve to put all advertisers on notice that disclosures must be clear and conspicuous.

Did a Deceptive Ad Lead to Your Injury?

The FTC works to ensure that advertisers are honest about the risks of their products. When a company fails to disclose known risks which could be dangerous to the consumer, that company is responsible for the subsequent harm its products caused.

From household products to pharmaceutical medications, the Phillips Law Group has worked to hold companies responsible for deceptive advertisements which harm consumers. If you have injured by a product with a deceptive or hidden warning, you may be eligible for compensation. Call 1-800-706-3000 to speak with the experienced California products liability attorneys at Phillips Law Group today. 

New Mexico Court of Appeals Rules Workers' Compensation Must Cover Medical Marijuana

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States around the country are grappling with changing legislation and social attitudes towards medical marijuana. In New Mexico, the state’s Court of Appeals added to the national conversation by decided that an injured employee was entitled to reimbursement for medical marijuana under the state’s workers compensation law.

Case Background

Gregory Vialpando sustained a lower back injury in 2000 during the course of his job at Ben’s Automotive Services.  Multiple doctors examined Mr. Vialpando, and found that he had sustained a whole body impairment between 43% and 46%, and had a 99% permanent partial disability rating. He and his employer entered into a workers’ compensation payment arrangement in 2008.

In reviewing his case, Mr. Vialpando’s main doctor found that he had, “High intensity, multiple site, chronic muscle, joint, and nerve pain directly resulting from back injury, followed by failed spinal surgery and attendant myalgia/myositis from compensatory structural imbalances.” In discussing Mr. Vialpando’s pain, the doctor went on to say that he was suffering from “some of the most extremely high intensity, frequency and duration of pain, out of all the thousands of patients I’ve treated within my 7 years of practicing medicine.”

Mr. Vialpando was prescribed multiple narcotic pain relievers and antidepressants, but still suffered from excruciating pain. Finally, he was prescribed medical marijuana which afforded him relief.

He applied to New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Board and asked for his medical marijuana expenses to be covered or reimbursed through his workers’ compensation payments. A Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) held a hearing on the issue, and found that Mr. Vialpando was authorized to take part in a medical cannabis program authorized through by New Mexico’s Compassionate Use Act (Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, NMSA 1978 §§26-2B1- to 26-2B-7 (2007)).

The WCJ ordered that Mr. Vialpando pay for his own medical marijuana, and ordered his employer to reimburse him for his expenses.

The employer appealed the decision of the WCJ to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Court of Appeals Decision

The employer first argued that medical marijuana was not covered by the workers' compensation statute. The Court looked at the statute, and found that it authorized “reasonable and necessary health care services from a health care provider.” 

The Workers' Compensation Administration (WCA) and the administrative judge in charge of the case both found that a Mr. Vialpando’s participation in a course of cannabis treatment would constitute reasonable and necessary treatment. The Court of appeals agreed. 

Next, the employer argued that a medical marijuana dispensary was not an authorized health care provider within the meaning of the statute. While the Court agreed that a dispensary is not listed as an articulated type of authorized provider, the Court found that the law does allow health care to come from “any person or facility that provides health-related services as approved by the director of the WCA.” Since the WCA had approved the treatment and the dispensary, the appellate court dismissed this argument. 

Alternatively, Mr. Vialpando's employer argued that medical marijuana should be viewed as a prescription drug, meaning that it would have to be provided by a licensed pharmacist or authorized health care provider. The Court of Appeals also disagreed with that argument, and found that even if marijuana were characterized as a prescription drug, it would still be covered as an authorized treatment or service under the Compassionate Care Act.

Finally, the employer brought up federal law, which still classifies marijuana as illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The employer argued that providing reimbursements for the purchase of medical marijuana would be akin to forcing the employer to violate federal law.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals refused to consider this particular argument. The employer did not cite any specific law which providing reimbursement would violate, and pointed to the Department of Justice’s other advisories to states about the legalization of medical marijuana. The Court of Appeals found that the legislative intent of New Mexico’s lawmakers, as well as shifts in public opinion and policy weighed heavily on the side of allowing compensation for recognized medical treatment with cannabis.

Visit the New Mexico Court of Appeals website to read the full text of this decision. 

Phillips Law Group Will Fight For Your Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

At Phillips Law Group, we know that receiving the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled can sometimes be an uphill battle. If your benefits, or a particular treatment, have been denied, you need experienced representation to appeal your case to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Call (800) 706-3000 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today. We will help you secure the justice you deserve after an injury at work. 

Arizona Ranked High in National Driver Safety Survey

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A new study by the Allstate Insurance company ranked the nation’s 200 largest metro areas in terms of drive safety.

While drivers in Fort Collins, Colorado came in on top for the second year in a row, Arizona drivers fared relatively well in the study, with several cities ranking in the top 50.

The East Valley region of the Greater Phoenix area boasts several impressively ranked cities. Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and Gilbert all have the best ratings in Arizona. Nine of Arizona’s metropolitan areas rank within the top 80 spots.

The state's drivers may benefit from sunny weather for most of the year. Drivers here do not have to worry about accidents caused by snow and ice, which becomes a problem for drivers in northern states.

Arizona cities that made the cut of the top 200 areas include:

  • Gilbert—20th
  • Mesa—22nd
  • Chandler—31st
  • Tempe—33rd
  • Tucson—43rd
  • Scottsdale—45th
  • Peoria—47th
  • Glendale—65th
  • Phoenix—79th

While Phoenix is the lowest Arizona city on this list, another Allstate study looking at cities with a population of over one million people ranked Phoenix first for safety. That study found that the average Phoenix driver is in an accident every 9.5 years. In comparison, Boston drivers can expect to be in a collision every 4.4 years.  

Arizona’s driver accident statistics may be impressive, but collisions and injuries will always be a fact of life for even the most careful drivers. If you have been injured in an auto accident, you deserve to be represented by experienced and knowledgeable accident attorneys. Call 1-800-706-3000 to speak with the attorneys at Phillips Law Group about your accident claim today. 

Who is Responsible When an Airplane Crashes?

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Commercial airline disasters are always headline news. Though they may command worldwide attention, commercial plane crashes are exceedingly rare.

While large plane crashes are the most newsworthy, smaller, private planes are far more dangerous. In 2013, there were 1,199 crashes involving private airplanes and helicopters, which killed 347 people and injured 571 others.  

When a plane crashes, who is responsible? Who will be left to compensate the families of those injured or killed? The answer: it depends.

Commercial Airline Disasters

When a commercial airliner goes down, families will almost always be able to recover compensation from the airline and its insurance carrier. This will mostly like be the case whether the crash was due to pilot error, a malfunction in the plane itself, or an act of God, such as lightning in a storm.

Even when the airline would not normally be responsible for an accident, such as when the plane is shot down by terrorists or suffers some other unforeseen event, it usually makes better business sense for an airline to settle claims based on the accident rather than fight them in court.

Private Airplane and Helicopter Crashes

Legal responsibility for a private airplane or helicopter crash is normally more complicated than it is for a commercial accident. Unlike large airlines, who have a business interest in settling cases quickly and without litigation, the liability for small craft accidents can be much more contentious.

First, most airplane accidents are caused by pilot error. Negligence on the part of the pilot can mean that the pilot is personally responsible for any injuries or damages caused. Most pilots protect themselves financially by purchasing insurance, much like drivers with auto insurance. Damages caused by the pilot’s negligence are usually taken out of this insurance.

Next, the plane or helicopter’s owner may be responsible for damages, if the person or company failed to maintain the plane, or negligently hired a pilot who caused an accident. Like pilots, many companies and plane owners will also purchase insurance, especially if their aircrafts are rented out to the public.

Finally, the plane’s manufacturer or the aircraft’s maintenance crew may be responsible if there were manufacturing or repair issues which caused the accident.

Contact Phillips Law Group Today

In a large scale commercial airplane accident, the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of an accident. With smaller aircraft however, their investigation is much less complete, and many victims or their families are left to investigate the causes of an accident themselves.

Hiring a personal injury firm with experience in aviation accidents, like the Phillips Law Group, will ensure that you find out the actual cause of a plane crash and can seek compensation against all responsible parties.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an aviation accident, call (800) 706-3000 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today. Phillips Law Group will work to secure justice for you after an aviation accident.  

Driving In Mexico? Remember These Tips If You Are In An Accident.

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If you plan on driving in Mexico, be aware that the Mexican laws and procedures regarding car accidents are much different than those in the States. Before you travel in Mexico, make sure you are prepared in case of a car accident.

You Need Mexican Auto Insurance

The Mexican government requires that all persons driving a car have a Mexican auto insurance policy. Before you drive, check with your auto insurance policy to see if you are covered for accidents in Mexico.

Additionally, check to make sure your auto insurance policy will be accepted as insurance in Mexico—chances are, you will need to purchase a separate policy which complies with Mexican law. These insurance policies can be obtained through the internet or from insurance sellers at either side of the border for $10 to $15 dollars a day.

Many people who drive in Mexico for business and cross the border frequently stay within the Border Zone, or Free Zone. This area extends 12-18 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, and allows U.S. citizens to freely come back and forth without extensive visa or stay requirements, as long as your trip is less than 72 hours.

Keep in mind that even if your trip is short, you will still need insurance while driving in Mexico. If you are in an accident in the Border Zone, Mexican law will still apply.

You May Go to Jail

It is very common, and legal, for Mexican authorities to arrest and detain anyone involved in an auto accident which involves physical injury or major property damage. In fact, if someone is injured in an accident, be prepared to spend time in jail while the Mexican authorities investigate the accident.

If the accident was not your fault, you will be released. If the accident was your fault, your vehicle will be impounded and you will be released from jail once you can prove that you are financially able to pay for any damages. Usually, this can be accomplished by providing proof of Mexican auto insurance or a cash payment, usually around $5,000.

If you do not have Mexican auto insurance, or if you committed a crime while driving (such as, driving recklessly or while intoxicated), you may have to spend much longer in jail while you wait for your case to be sorted out. If you do have Mexican auto insurance, your insurance adjuster will normally provide proof of your insurance to the police, and will help you bond out of jail. He or she may also call the U.S. Consulate for assistance if you have been charged with a crime.

You May Be Able to Sue in the United States

Normally, auto accidents in Mexico are settled at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter. Many people involved in accidents arrange for cash payments at the scene that will cover any damages to vehicles. If the accident involved serious property damage or injury, the victim of the accident will negotiate a settlement to cover the damage. The person who caused the accident will likely remain in jail until the terms of the settlement can be sorted out.

It is not common to file a lawsuit in the United States over an accident which occurred in Mexico, but it does happen. It is usually more lucrative for the victim to file a lawsuit here, because Mexican law does not allow a victim to recover special damage, like those for pain and suffering or missed work.

You may be able to sue in the United States if the parties insurance companies allow for foreign lawsuits. Additionally, if you rented a vehicle in Mexico, you will need also need to check the terms of your rental car policy. The majority of these insurance policies do not allow for people to sue in the United States, but some do.

It may be difficult to sustain a lawsuit in the U.S., especially if the other party is a Mexican citizen. The legal intricacies of filing and serving paperwork in a foreign country, and potential issues with the other party receiving authorization to enter the country means that most lawsuits here are difficult. In addition, trying to collect a judgment in a foreign country can also be almost impossible. As a result, most car accident cases are settled while both parties are still in Mexico.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Mexico, the Phoenix-based attorneys at Phillips Law Group can help you recover for your injuries. Our experienced attorneys understand the interplay between these two countries legal systems, and will help you get the compensation you deserve. Call (800) 706-3000 to speak with an attorney about your case today. 

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