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Dear celebrities: Here’s what you need to know about personal injury cases

Dear celebrities: Here’s what you need to know about personal injury cases

If you’ve been recently hurt or are still hurting from injuries sustained while working with egotistical directors and producers, and are looking for legal tips, you’ve come to the right place. Kind of.

Our blog is a rich source of celebrity legal news and barely-there legal advice. In an ideal world, our blog will just be all about Washington state personal injury laws. But Hollywood celebs’ legal woes proved more fascinating, so we’ve written more about those instead.

As esteemed consultants on personal injury laws, we've been providing high-quality legal services in the state of Washington AND writing insightful articles about your family law and personal injury legal troubles. Personal injury cases are particularly tricky to navigate all on your own; there are many things you need to know about it, but that's something that being in show business does not allow.

Your personal injury law education begins here.

  1. You can sue for personal injuries in the workplace
  2. Physical pain, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment are grounds for personal injury
  3. Mind the statute of limitations
  4. You can be sued, too
  5. You don’t have to go to court
  6. You need a personal injury attorney


You can sue for personal injuries in the workplace

Some call filmmaking the business of creating motion pictures. But if you’ve worked with James Cameron, you know that it’s also the business of breaking bones and other body parts.

Your idea of a workplace most likely differs from ours. We go to offices, while you may shoot in them. Your place of employment can be a studio, a parking lot, or the set of a film about a doomed passenger liner.

Kate Winslet is one of many who’ve suffered from a workplace injury. While shooting scenes in Titanic, she almost drowned and had pneumonia. But that’s nothing compared to what her co-stars endured; they suffered from food poisoning, ruptured organs, and broken bones.

Charlize Theron also famously got seriously hurt on the set of Aeon Flux, a cartoon-inspired action movie that dented her career and her spine. Another actress who suffered a major injury while filming is Ellen Burstyn who performed her own stunts in The Exorcist. She did a scene that required her to be pulled to the floor, resulting in a permanent spinal injury that can be best described as devilish.

Related article: Personal injury cases from Oscar-winning films that should have resulted in lawsuits

Sustaining injuries during filming isn’t uncommon. The fact that none of these brilliant performers sued for their injuries at the workplace is. Ms. Burstyn even professed to have loved working with The Exorcist director William Friedkin, 45 years after the incident.

But as a performer (and this goes to those who only make movies), you don’t have to break your spine to do your job. You have rights and you can sue. Getting injured by an employer’s intentional conduct — in the aforementioned cases, the conduct of the directors — means you can bring suit against your employer.

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Physical pain, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment are grounds for personal injury

“Winning” a Razzie “award” may be painful, but that is not the kind of pain that has legal implications. In this section, we will teach you what pain is.

Pain is a sensation caused by a certain type of message sent through your nerves. It’s what you feel when something hurts. It’s when something in your body is throbbing, aching, or burning. Actually, you should know what pain is because you’re an actor.

There are so many examples of pain, but one that probably hits closer to home is the pain that Viggo Mortensen endured while shooting the Lord of the Rings movies. Like his fellow thespians Kate, Charlize, and Ellen, Viggo did not sue the film’s producers for endangering his life and causing him anguish while shooting a film trilogy about some godforsaken ring.

Don’t be like Viggo. Be more like Taylor Hickson, who sued for damages after suffering a disfiguring facial scar during the filming of a movie that only five people saw called Incident in a Ghostland. She rightfully sued the film’s producers for the “massive amounts of insecurity…” from the facial scar.

You can also look to TV stars who exercised their rights when they were put in situations that required them to risk life and limb for ratings.

Related article: Unreal demands from reality TV shows that resulted in personal injury lawsuits

Acting — and by extension, being a celebrity — is wonderful because you get to show a range of emotions like love, joy, fear, or pain without having to experience any of the things that normally give rise to those emotions — unless you’re Joaquin Phoenix who method-acted his way into Oscar glory.

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Mind the statute of limitations

Suppose you play a character who gets kidnapped by a sociopath, and a scene requires you (not your stunt double) to suffocate while wearing a plastic bag over your head, to make the suffocation look “authentic.” You’d expect the film crew to take precautions, right?

Not necessarily, if you’re working with the likes of David Fincher; you would probably have to actually suffocate and do multiple takes to get it right.

What if you then realize that that’s not right and that punishing your heart and brain is not worth the Oscar nomination? Don’t wait for the shooting of the sequel to begin. Statutes of limitations place a limit on the amount of time that you, the victim of personal injury in the hands of the brilliant Mr. Fincher, can file a claim.

In states like Washington, the statute of limitations for an injury is three years, beyond which you may be permanently barred from claiming compensation. In some exceptional cases, time limits may be extended.

And that is why, should Uma Thurman decide to sue Quentin Tarantino for forcing her to drive along a dangerous dirt road to make her driving in Kill Bill look authentic, she will not be allowed to. The same goes for Linda Hamilton, whose hearing was permanently damaged when she signed up to star in multiple James Cameron productions. These actresses who’ve suffered significant bodily damages have missed their deadlines for filing a lawsuit.

Related article: Femme Fatales and their near-fatal injuries on set

Bottom line: If you suffered injuries from a shooting, cut to the chase and take action.

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You can be sued, too

You probably already know that. Indeed, you may end up facing certain injury cases, thanks to your astounding gifts to the world of entertainment and gossip blogging…like when you have a smackdown with the paparazzi.

The paparazzi are otherwise decent human beings who are only trying to make a living by invading your privacy, taking photos of you, and profiting off of your (usually) unflattering photographs. It’s normal to want to battle them, but make sure you’re well-armed.

There are plenty of paps suing celebs for assaulting them while doing their job, and some have won and/or have been paid massive settlements. One such case is paparazzo Daniel Ramos suing Kanye West for “assault, battery, negligence, and interference with his civil rights” in one of many incidents of Kanye behaving in a Kanye way. If Kanye can lose in a personal injury lawsuit, so can you.

And bear in mind that any celebrity can be a paparazzi magnet. Even the likes of Alec Baldwin and Chris Brown have had their fair share of paparazzi tiffs, despite not being the sort of celebrities the paparazzi should be hounding in the current decade. So, as horrible as it is to be followed around by snap-happy shutterbugs, you must resist the temptation to attack them with an umbrella, steal their camera, or run them over with your monster truck.

Related article: Oh snaps! Celebrity personal injury lawsuits involving the paparazzi

As a celebrity, the amount of attention you get from the paparazzi is arguably directly proportionate to how popular you are and how much fun you are to annoy (see: Kanye and Justin Bieber). Don’t steer into the path of violence, and keep yourself preoccupied. Swim in your cash at home, buy a small country, purchase a stolen Mongolian dinosaur skull, or have a nice little chat with your attorney.

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You don’t have to go to court

And why would you? You’re an attractive millionaire with hordes of adoring fans and an army of lawyers. But that doesn’t mean you’re above the law.

Whether you’re the victim or the accused, there is nothing more tedious and costly than going to court for a personal injury case. You have art to create and millions of cash to make. Settle.

It may not be rock-and-roll to have your attorneys sort out your legal troubles, but that’s what you should do in the event of a personal injury suit. There’s nothing sexy about spending tons of money on litigation and paying for expert witnesses, court costs, travel costs, and other fees that you’re better off not knowing about, much less paying.

Settling is, in fact, what many rock stars and singing sensations do. That’s what ’80s rocker Bret Michaels did when he suffered a brain hemorrhage after a piece of stage equipment struck him in the head during a Tony Awards broadcast. That’s what Gloria Estefan did when her tour bus got rear-ended by a trucker, resulting in her suffering a debilitating spinal injury.

The same applies if you’re the defendant. You have better things to do than being cross-examined. Musicians aren’t all beacons of reason and intellect, but in terms of settling personal injury cases, they’re shockingly capable of setting a fine example. Ever heard of a band called The All American Rejects? We won’t blame you if you haven’t. At one of the said band’s live performances, they threw cans of energy drinks at the audience, injured some people, and settled.

Related article: 4 Concert injury lawsuits, ranked by how Rock ‘n Roll the facts of the case were

But what’s really great about not going to court is avoiding run-ins with the paparazzi who would know you’re on trial because trials are not private. Once you go to trial, details of your case become a rich source of content for Page Six, The Smoking Gun, and TMZ. That is only advantageous if you’re promoting a new single, album, movie, or perfume.

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You need a personal injury attorney

In all likelihood, you already have a lawyer, but only for things that you usually need lawyering for, such as divorcing a spouse or denying paternity.

Just kidding. Regular people divorce and deny paternity, too. And in that regard, you are most certainly “regular people.”

But imagine not having someone to explain to you insurance, uhm, stuff. Do you really want to deal with insurance companies and spend time reading AND understanding things like personal injury protection coverage, bodily injury liability coverage, auto insurance injury coverage, and the like? You don’t, unless you’re studying for a role. The only thing you should be reading is fan mail. Leave the personal injury matters to reliable lawyers.

Some celebrities who went to law school (as students) may even feel compelled to represent themselves. You may think that because you’re innocent, you don’t need legal counsel. But you do.

Celebrity or not, it’s not advisable to defend oneself in court. As a star, your job is to be popular, attractive, and rich. Representing yourself in court, and with it, understanding the complexities of the rules of evidence and procedure, are not roles you were meant to play even if you have a law degree.

Related article: Celebrities with law degrees...who still ended up stuck in court

You may be a spoiled, overpaid, and out-of-touch-with-reality celebrity, but you’re a human being, too. And like normal human beings, you can suffer from workplace and non-workplace injuries for which you have the right to claim damages. Similarly, you may get sued if you inflict injuries on another person. If your accident happens to be in Washington state, personal injury lawyers Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams are the team to call.

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