Personal Injury News & Developments

Scaffolding Dangers and AccidentsBeing a construction worker is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. When an accident causes serious injuries and death, it is especially horrific. In March 2015, three workers assisting in the construction of an office building in downtown Raleigh North Carolina lost their lives. Another worker suffered serious injuries after the exterior lift system they were riding detached from the structure.

The accident occurred at a new Charter Square building located on Fayetteville Street. At the time of the incident, the men were taking apart a portion of the elevator system. The mobile scaffold platform ripped away from the structure and plummeted to the ground killing three men and injuring another. The falling platform crushed one of the workers while he was exiting a portable restroom below.

Injured and Deceased Victims

An unidentified individual at the worksite called 911, claiming a construction crew was aboard the elevator platform at the time of its collapse. The deceased men have been identified as Durham residents Anderson Almeida, 33 and José Erasmo Hernandez, 41 along with Clinton resident, 33-year-old José Luis Lopez-Ramirez. The injured worker Elmer Guevara, 53 was transported to WakeMed.

The 243,000 square foot Charter Square building is under development by Dominion Realty Partners of Raleigh. Choate Construction is the active construction site general contractor. Associated Scaffolding, a subcontractor working under Choate, is in charge of assembling, maintaining and disassembling all of the scaffolding used at the construction site.

As a part of that day’s workload, some of the victims were in the process of dismantling scaffolding to relocate part of the system to another area on the construction site. The scaffolding was being used as a way to install glass “curtain” walls. The process included the installation of metal walls or thin glass as a part of the exterior of the building. Two accident victims were employees of Janna Wall Incorporated.

Construction of the Site Halted

In response to the accident that occurred just before noon, the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Hazard Division halted construction. The entire structure did not immediately fall to the ground as portions of the frame used to install the exterior glass wall hung outside, dangling from the structure for hours.

Many construction companies have utilized mast climbers at venues across the United States since the 1980s. They are usually attached to large buildings under construction as a way for workers to install building materials to external walls. This includes installing glass windows, frames and other components. The mast climbers are considered a safe form of scaffolding and are known for their durable strength and carrying very large loads in multiple workers. However, the design does not always forgive even minimal errors where an accident can cause catastrophic results.

Three men lost their lives in Austin Texas after falling from a mast climber in 2009. Another three workers lost their lives in 2006 in a mast climber collapse when dismantling the unit at a Boston construction site. Back in 1995, three workers lost their lives in Miami when a misconfigured scaffolding platform collapsed from overloading. Between 1990 and 2010, there have been 18 fatalities involving mast-climber collapses, accidents and incidences.

Daily Scaffold Inspections

North Carolina law requires a full daily examination of the scaffolding system by a qualified inspector. However, both city and state governments do not inspect the mast climber. Apparently, equipment owners perform the inspection after receiving extensive training on the equipment by the manufacturer. Investigators are attempting to determine if the construction site contractors violated state law by overloading the system beyond its weight load limits.

The general contractor has been cited previously for safety violations on other construction sites. The violations total seven times over the past decade. In one of the accidents, a worker not under Choate’s direct employment died at the scene when the Tennessee garage collapsed while under construction.

In addition, associated scaffolding has received six violations in the last decade though none apparently involved fatalities. Installing and working on scaffolding equipment continues to be a dangerous occupation. Annual reports maintained by the state’s Labor Department indicate that one out of every 67 fatalities at NC construction sites is associated with scaffolding incidences.

Zimmer and A Recall of ToolsPortions of the Persona total knee replacement system is being recalled by its manufacturer. In February 2015, Zimmer, a leading orthopedic company, notified customers of its Class 2 FDA recall. The knee replacement system by Zimmer was the primary driver in increased sales for the company in 2014. The recall affects more than 11,500 patients worldwide. The move by Zimmer and the FDA is expected to produce a negative profit outcome for the company.

The orthopedic company’s Persona Trabecular Metal Tibia Plate is being recalled because of increasing “complaints of radiolucent lines and loosening.” Apparently, the unit’s design creates an ineffective “seat for the plate” that can produce poor patient outcomes because it can generate significant knee pain.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) disclosed Zimmer’s issued recall notice in March 2015. The released disclosure stated a recall notice was sent to healthcare providers and hospitals on February 16, 2015 with directions to locate and quarantine all effective knee products immediately. A Class 2 recall is issued when products cause medically reversible or temporary adverse consequences to a patient’s health. However, the medical problems associated with the knee replacement system still have the potential of causing multiple complications.

A Competitive Market

Zimmer has been developing total knee replacement systems since 1968. This includes the 1995 release of the NexGen Complete Knee Solution System. In 2013, the orthopedic company brought their Persona knee replacement system to market in an effort to capture a share of business enjoyed by more than six competing knee systems from other manufacturers. The device secured Zimmer’s position in the knee replacement medical marketplace.

Doctors have used the Persona because of its advantage over competitive devices since it provides a more accurate anatomical fit for both right and left knees of varying sizes. By the end of 2014, Zimmer generated approximately $2 billion in net sales from all of his knee related products. While sales had decreased in 2013 by four percent, it increased upwards of more than two percent the following year.

Loosening and Bone Damage

The Trabecular Metal Tibia Plate is designed to be installed without the use of cement while still providing an optimal fixation to the patient’s bone. Surgeons have chosen the implant because it easily adapts to a variety of surgical styles to provide an outcome quite similar to a natural knee.

Within the first year of use, Zimmer reported receiving increasing complaints of radiolucent lines (gaps between components) and an overall loosening of the implant. The problem occurred because that part of the implant was not properly secured. Over time, the gap can become filled with debris, tissue or joint fluid causing the implant to become significantly loose before failing. Some patients receiving the device have developed bone damage (osteolysis).

In many cases, the significant health problems generated by radiolucent lines require revision surgery as a way to correct the issue. Usually, the implant needs to be replaced. If the implant has become loose, the patient often experiences a variety of common symptoms including knee pain, knee stiffness, limping, and challenges when placing even minimal weight on the leg and foot along with a diminished range of motion in the knee joint.

Zimmer’s Ongoing Problem

There has been a significant rise of lawsuits filed against Zimmer for the many different medical devices they manufacture. Some recalls have triggered legal action taken by mass tort law firms in an effort to provide financial recovery for patients seriously harmed by the medical product.

Because of the recall caused by complications associated with the Zimmer total knee replacement device, patients injured by the allegedly defective component are likely entitled to seek financial compensation. Individuals that have received the implant and are experiencing unexplained pain and discomfort in the knee will likely require revision surgery.

If you are suffering injuries, pain or discomfort from your Persona replacement knee implant, it is essential to contact your physician immediately to safeguard your health. To ensure your rights are protected, it is essential to seek advice and legal counsel on how to file a claim for compensation. Personal injury lawyers can start the process of helping you receive recompense for the injuries you suffer because of your defective Zimmer knee implant.

Cesarean Section Legal Case

Classic cesarean section in the operating theater.

Introduction to Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, 237 Ill.2d 217 (2010): A Battle over Litigation Costs

On a cold night in the end of October of 2005, Francis Lebron entered Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Cook County, Illinois to undergo a Caesarean section. After being admitted, she was placed under the care of Dr. Levi D’Ancona and Florence Martinoz, a registered nurse. However, things did not go swimmingly. Her child, Abigaile Lebron, was born with severe brain injury and impairment as well as cerebral palsy. Consequently, doctors discovered that she would not develop brain functions normally or be able to eat without the assistance of a feeding tube. For the economic and noneconomic damages (i.e. trauma, medical costs, and reduced quality of life to name a few), the Lebrons sued the hospital as well as the attending doctor and nurse.

The family soon ran into the wall of existing laws. Just in that same year, through 735 ILCS 5/2-1706.5, the Illinois state legislature had put a cap on non-economic damages at $500,000 for doctors and $1,000,000 for hospitals for “any medical malpractice action or wrongful death action based on medical malpractice.” The Lebrons’ claim asked for a lot more than that. Based off of the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling in Best v. Taylor Machine Works (179 Ill.2d 367 (1997)), the circuit court held that 2-1706.5 was unconstitutional as an improper exercise of legislative power and declared the entire act void. Unhappy with the result, the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court.

Lebron Case Analysis

In Best, the court analyzed the constitutionality of a cap on noneconomic damages arising out of negligence or product liability claims. Noneconomic damages included those intangible aspects such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of society. Despite finding rationality within the act, the court held it was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers in that it acted as a “legislative remittitur.”

Illustrating how a remittitur is supposed to work will illuminate where the legislature went wrong in Best and instruct why the court ruled the way it did eventually in Lebron. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, juries return awards to plaintiffs that many view as excessive or unreasonable. Most people cannot do anything about it, except for judges. With the consent of the plaintiffs, the judge has the right in Illinois to lower the amount of the award to an amount that he or she believes is reasonable. Judges are supposed to use all the facts and circumstances of the case as well as their reasoned judgment in deciding the appropriate figure to lower the jury award to. By placing a cap in the particular instances relative to the act in question in Best, the Illinois Supreme Court thought that this impermissibly invaded the province of judicial authority and, thus, violated separation of powers principles. The court articulated this reasoning in the following passage:

“Unlike the traditional remittitur power of the *235 judiciary, the legislative remittitur of section 2–1115.1 disregards the jury’s careful deliberative process in determining damages that will fairly compensate injured plaintiffs who have proven their causes of action. The cap on damages is mandatory and operates wholly apart from the specific circumstances of a particular plaintiff’s noneconomic injuries. Therefore, section 2–1115.1 unduly encroaches upon the fundamentally judicial prerogative of determining whether a jury’s assessment of damages is excessive within the meaning of the law.” Best, 179 Ill.2d at 413–14, 228 Ill.Dec. 636, 689 N.E.2d 1057.”

Interestingly, had the court not thought that this act violated separation of powers principles, it still probably would have struck it down anyways. This is true because the court found the law was arbitrary and not related to a legitimate state interest. Yet, since the court initially found the law was an unconstitutional encroachment upon the judicial “sphere of authority,” it did not actually rule on this matter.

This slight tangent into Illinois judicial case law brings us to Lebron. As mentioned above, the defendants brought this case all the way to the highest court in Illinois. There, they presented both procedural and substantive arguments for why the cap found in 2-1706.5 was appropriate and constitutional. Their first procedural argument was that the court’s ruling in Best on the separation of powers issue should not even be followed. They argued it was dicta. Rebutting this common legal point, the court distinguished between two types of dictum: obiter and judicial. The former is merely an aside by the court, a remark on a matter not crucial to the eventual outcome of the case. The latter involves mattes that both sides’ lawyers debated and the court intentionally passed on; while not crucial to the outcome, it is entitled to be followed unless it is determined to be erroneous later. The court in Lebron determined that its remarks in Best on the separation of powers issue were judicial dicta entitled to respect. Thus, the defendants could not short-circuit the case in this manner but they tried a few others.

As opposed to questioning the authority of the court or the merits of its prior decisions, the defendants next tried two procedural arguments that involved the legislature’s sphere of influence. They claimed that the legislature (i.e. the Illinois General Assembly) has had authority to amend the common law even in the province of limiting plaintiff’s damages, and this authority has been upheld by the court. See Bernier v. Burris, 113 Ill.2d 219 (1986); Siegall v. Solomon, 19 Ill.2d 145 (1960); Smith v. Hill, 12 Ill.2d 588 (1958). Also, they pointed to the caps on noneconomic damages that other states had enacted and illustrated that Illinois’ fit within a reasonable range of all of them. Plus, those courts had upheld them as a proper exercise of constitutional power. To all of these procedural claims, the court reasoned that even if the Illinois legislature has this power at all, it is not infinite, and must fit rationally within the three-branches system of government (which has will be seen later, it does not). Further, while persuasive, the legislative and judicial bodies of other states are not dispositive, the court ruled. Therefore, the defendants then turned to several substantive arguments to support the constitutionality of 2-1706.5.

The first substantive device that the defendants proffered went to the construction of 2-1706.5. Unlike 2-1115.1 in Best, the act in focus in Lebron they urged was narrowly tailored. 2-1115.1 effectively sought to unilaterally reduce litigation costs without much context or exception, but they distinguished 2-1706.5 as focusing on a sole issue: sandbagging exploding health-care costs (2-1115.1 limited damages “On account of death, bodily injury, or physical damage to property based on negligence,” whereas 2-1706.5 limited those for “Any medical malpractice action or wrongful death action based on medical malpractice.”). The court conceded that the scope of 2-1115.1 in Best was by far broader than that of 2-1706.5 in Lebron. However, it found the trespass onto the judicial sphere in both just as grave and unconstitutional. It intimated as much when it said, “Notwithstanding this difference, the encroachment upon the inherent power of the judiciary is the same in the instant case as it was in Best.”

The defendants then distinguished their case from Best by arguing that 2-1706.5 was rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest, whereas the limitations in the former where found to be arbitrary, capricious, and poorly drawn. Here, the defendants argued that the confines of 2-1706.5 were tightly circumscribed around a very definitive problem, health care costs. They said they were responding to a “Mounting crisis in access to health care by stemming the cost of malpractice insurance.” The court sympathized with this concern but found it missing the point; it said that the separation of powers was first and fundamental to anything else. It reasoned that “The inquiry under the separation of powers clause is not whether the damages cap is rationally related to a legitimate government interest but, rather, whether the legislature, through its adoption of the damages cap, is exercising powers properly belonging to the judiciary.”

Losing on the first two substantive grounds-2-1706.5 being narrowly tailored and rationally related-the defendants contended that separation of powers principles also permitted the legislature to pass laws with legitimate goals. Here, the defendants, exasperated in their futility, cried that nothing could be further in the bounds of legitimate goals than fighting a health-care crises. To buttress their claim, they offered Burger v. Lutheran General Hospital in support of their contention. 198 Ill.2d 21 (2001). There the court upheld an Illinois law regarding medical disclosures and denied a separation of powers argument. Again, the court sympathized with the defendants but found their focused misplaced. The court distinguished Burger from Lebron because the law at question in the former did not affect the internal processes of litigation and, as such, did not “impinge upon the power of the judiciary.” However, if finding a legitimate goal existed for the promulgation of 2-1706.5, this would not absolve it of the sin of encroaching upon the constitutional power of the judiciary. Thus, the defendants struck out on all of their substantive arguments. The court held that 2-1706.5, which limited medical malpractice claims against doctors to $500,000 and against hospitals to $1,000,000, violated the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution (article 2, section 1).

The dissent in Lebron wrote a long and vigorous opinion. Most of it aped the defendants’ storyline in that they charged the majority with being a roadblock to fixing the health-care crises. Also, they claimed that the plaintiffs in this case did not have standing and the issue itself was not ripe for review. Without either of these two factors, they discerned, the court should not have ruled on the matter because, constitutionally, it must only decide cases of controversy and avoid issuing opinions on non-ripe items. To this, the majority said that it was not the responsibility of the court to be an advocate for health-care reform, it must only decide what is proper under the constitution for better or worse. Also, the standing and ripeness claims were waived by the defendants because they did raise them in the lower courts.

Aftermath of Lebron. What it Means for Plaintiff’s in Illinois Medical Malpractice Cases Today.

The subject matter of this case predetermined that it would be of crucial importance to the Illinois legal and health-care communities. Many across the state and across the country believe that litigation costs have gotten out of hand and that this is having a negative effect on the quality of and access to health care. By taking the ruling in Best to a broad level and striking down 2-1706.5 in Lebron, the Illinois Supreme Court took a legal, reasoned position on the opposite side of those critics, stating that the legislature could not cap noneconomic damages in this manner. The well-thought arguments of the defendants did not work. In Illinois, it does not matter if legislation the General Assembly passes is well-tailored to a solution, rationally related to a problem, or serves a legitimate goal. If it encroaches upon the judicial sphere at all, it operates as an impermissible “legislative remittitur” and is unconstitutional. Therefore, all suits filed after the effective date of this case will operate under the pre-2-1706.5 law, when no cap existed.

DePuy Tool on RecallIn February 2015, a recall was issued for the Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes orthopedic tool that inserts titanium elastic nails to secure broken bones. The recall affects 1500 inserters that have been distributed across the United States since it first became available in the medical marketplace. The Class II issued warning indicates that the orthopedic tool is prone to significant mechanical failure that can occur during surgery. Failures include breakage of the tool’s crossbar or main shaft along with the inserter becoming jammed during use.

The DePuy Synthes inserters are a functional tool used in various surgeries to repair long bone fractures. The tool inserts nails in the lower extremities of children or small-stature adults and can also be used for upper extremity repairs in adult patients. Surgeons also use the device to repair tarsal and carpal bones and other small long bone fractures.

Johnson & Johnson has not asked that the product be removed from use immediately. This is because it is often required in emergency surgeries. Instead, DePuy Synthes proposes to have the device removed and replaced in increments to ensure availability of the orthopedic tool in emergency situations.

Potential Hazards

The DePuy Synthes was recalled because of its potential for breaking during use, which could delay surgical procedures if an alternate inserter needs to be located to ensure the procedure is completed. In addition, broken pieces of the device might have the potential of causing significant damage to other structures or causing injury to the doctor. Breakage of the unit is often the result of constant hammering as is loosening the inserter and having components fall away.

A Class II Recall

The FDA issues Class II recalls on hazardous products that present no immediate danger of serious injury or death by its use. However, these products still present potential risks of injuries and death. In many situations, the FDA issues the recall as a preventative measure. However, there are still safety and health risk factors that must be considered.

The Food and Drug Administration handles Class II recalls similar to a Class I recall (the most serious type of recall), in that it works in tandem with manufacturers to notify consumers, surgeons and the public. In addition, the FDA assist manufacturers in creating plans to ensure that every recalled item is pulled from the medical marketplace as quickly as possible.

In many cases, the product has the potential of injuring or killing the consumer. This can occur even when the orthopedic device or tool continues to be sold in the medical marketplace with its manufacturing defect. In fact, many medical products are sold and used before any unforeseeable or unexpected risks are realized. In some situations, manufacturers fail to ensure all proper steps are taken including warning consumers of safety and health risks that could occur when the product is used.

Other Johnson & Johnson Recalls

This is certainly not the only recall faced by Johnson & Johnson, but only the latest one in a long list of significant quality control issues in the devices, implants and tools sold by the medical conglomerate. In addition to the DePuy Synthes orthopedic tool recall, J & J faces ongoing litigation from various devices that include power morcellators, hip replacement units, transvaginal mesh implants and others.

Taking Legal Action

Patients who have suffered serious injuries as the result of a recalled device are likely entitled to file a claim or lawsuit against the manufacturer and surgeon for financial compensation. This is because their injuries often require revision surgery or other expensive procedures to repair the problem. However, medical malpractice and product liability cases can be legally complicated and often requires the skills of a competent personal injury law firm to handle the case.

Personal injury attorneys can provide immediate legal action against all parties responsible for the injuries to hold them accountable through medical malpractice and product liability tort laws. A skilled lawyer can build a solid case for financial compensation to ensure victims and families receive adequate recompense for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, mental anguish, discomfort and grief. It is important to hire a lawyer now because filing a claim is time sensitive due to state and federal statutes of limitations.

Zofran Usage and Birth DefectsMany pregnant women have taken Zofran (ondansetron) to treat morning sickness, vomiting and nausea occurring during pregnancy. However, research has linked the prescription drug to serious birth defects that include cleft palates, heart defects and other crippling conditions. As a result, many women who took the drug during pregnancy have filed suit against the pharmaceutical company and their doctors for failing to warn them of the potential risks to their unborn child. Glaxo Smith Kline is the pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor of Zofran.

Zofran has been proven highly effective for treating nausea and other symptoms of morning sickness. However, prescribing the medication for treating morning sickness is considered an “off label” use of the drug, and does not have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. Without FDA approval, no conclusive clinical studies have been conducted on pregnant women to determine if any contraindications or side effects were produced in the mother or fetus.

Originally, Glaxo Smith Kline marketed the medication for patients undergoing chemotherapies and surgeries that produced unbearable nausea as a way to control the pain. However, because the pharmaceutical company is a “for profit” corporation, their marketers took steps to purposely push the medication for off label use.

As a result, the U.S. Justice Department ordered Glaxo Smith Kline to pay $3 billion in fines for illegally marketing numerous prescription medications for off label use, including Zofran. Some of the fines by the Justice Department order were to punish GSK for paying kickbacks to doctors prescribing the medication for off label use.

Conflicting Reports

Glaxo Smith Kline conducted a variety of studies on animals in the 1980s that indicated Zofran in fact did cross the placenta from the mother to the fetus. In the last 10 years, numerous studies confirmed the prescription medication rapidly passes in “significant amounts” from human mothers to their child through the placenta. These studies also indicate that the medication tends to remain active much longer in the fetus than in the mother.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study on Zofran in 2013 reassuring the public that the prescription drug was not increasing the potential risks of birth defects in humans. However, approximately 50 percent of all female study participants only took the medication 10 weeks and longer into their pregnancy, when the risks of major birth defects including heart defects and cleft palates were significantly reduced.

Within months after the published study was released, other researchers studied the same data showing pregnancy outcomes. The team reached the conclusion that the prescription medication had actually doubled the potential risks of creating heart defects in babies, which leads to a 30 percent increase risk. The study concluded that one out of every 20 newborns exposed to Zofran were actually born with a birth defect. This is significantly higher than the one out of every 28 newborns born with birth defects that were not exposed to the drug.

Common Birth Defects

A large study was conducted in 2013 involving 900,000 pregnancies where approximately 1250 expecting mothers from the group took the prescription medication during their first trimester. The results showed that the risk for developing heart defects was approximately 2 to 1 for infants exposed to Zofran. Common defects associated with the drug include:

  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), also referred to as a “hole in the heart”
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), or a hole between two ventricles (lower chambers) of the heart
  • Heart Murmur
  • Cleft Palate where the roof of the mouth is split
  • Cleft Lip where the upper lip is split
  • Kidney Malformation
  • Jaundice
  • Mouth Deformity
  • Fetal Growth Restriction
  • Musculoskeletal Abnormality
  • Fetal Death

Zofran Lawsuit

Families with a baby born with a birth defect after the mother took Zofran (ondansetron) while pregnant should consider filing a lawsuit to hold those legally responsible accountable for their negligence. This is because the mother more than likely was never told of the potential risks of taking the prescription medication because their doctors and/or Glaxo Smith Kline concealed the truth about the harmful and devastating side effects of the prescription medication. Personal injury attorneys handling Zofran lawsuits are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in an effort to warn other pregnant women of the dangers involved in using the drug.

Wounds Can Easily Become Infected in Nursing HomesIn August 2014, family members of a nursing home patient who allegedly succumbed from a bedsore infection filed a lawsuit against the facility where he resided. Prior to his death, TJ Johnson, had been a resident at the Jefferson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Beaumont, Texas. It was at this nursing facility where the patient developed a decubitus ulcer that advanced into an infected bedsore.

The complaint filed by the family alleges that the medical staff failed to provide proper treatment of Mr. Johnson’s ulcerated skin, citing that negligence of the medical staff was key to preventing the bedsore from advancing. The lawsuit also claims their loved one’s bedsore worsened because of the deplorable conditions at the facility, where Mr. Johnson was often left lying in his own feces and urine for long stretches of time.

In November 2012, the patient’s decubitus ulcer had progressed to such a severe stage that it began infecting his bone. The infected bedsore reached a critical stage and required immediate medical care. Although he was transported to a local hospital, he succumbed to his wounds, dying that same month. The family claims Mr. Johnston’s death directly correlates to the advancing complications of his pressure ulcer.

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value of a personal injury caseIf you have been injured in an accident, you may be frustrated by all of the conflicting information you’ve received by insurance companies, television commercials and on the internet. It is easy for the victims of accidents to make mistakes that greatly reduce the amount of compensation they are able to claim and the recovery process can be extremely daunting when you know that every decision you make has an impact on the financial impact of your injuries.

The good news is that there are ways you can increase the value of your claim following an injury and to increase the likelihood of success if you file a lawsuit. The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are happy to provide you with any information that you need following your injuries and can answer any additional questions that you have about personal injury cases throughout the Chicago area.

Initial Steps to Take Following an Accident

If you’ve been in an accident, it may be difficult for you to remember to do everything needed to protect your legal interests. Your primary concern should be your personal well being and the treatment of your injuries, but if you are able to do the following things or have someone do them on your behalf, you will protect your interests in the event that you choose to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for your accident.

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Infections at the Surgical SIteOne of the greatest risks that patients take when undergoing surgery is that of surgical site infections, which occur when the area operated on becomes contaminated or bacteria invade the incision site after the surgery. Of the reasons that patients return to the hospital following a postoperative discharge, infection is the most common as well as the easiest to prevent.

A recent study on hospital re-admissions has highlighted the need for more precautionary measures and monitoring of patients during recovery in order to detect infections early and to ensure that patients do not return home while the risk of infection is still a concern.

Hospital Readmission Study Results

Many hospitals have recently sought more insight concerning the alarming rates of readmission that patients experience in order to prevent readmissions and provide better service to their patients. It has been difficult to address the issue of readmission in the past because medical professionals simply didn’t know what factors have had the greatest influence on the need for patients to return.

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Ulcers that are like Superman's KryptoniteIt is hard to imagine it has already been 10 years since Christopher Reeve died. The handsome leading actor who brought the cartoon comic adventure hero Superman to the big screen suffered injuries when he fell from a horse in 1995, finally succumbing in 2004.

As an accomplished horseman, the actor had been riding since 1985 and had participated in various equestrian competitions for years. Reeve was injured in his last equestrian dressage event, when his horse failed to jump a barrier during the competition. The actor was thrown over the horse, landing on the top rail of the barrier.

After waking up in the hospital a few days later, Reeve was informed by his doctors that the accident destroyed both the first and second vertebrae in his spine. This meant that the actor’s spinal column was no longer connected to the skull. As a result of the accident, Christopher spent his remaining years bound to a wheelchair without the capacity to perform any action from the neck down.

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Leasing Company Responsible for DriverAn appellate court recently reversed a ruling which exonerated a motor carrier from liability when one of its independent contractors lost control of a tractor trailer and injured a coworker. FMI operates a shipping and distribution center out of California that delivers goods cross country to New Jersey and hires owner/operators to run its routes.

When two of its contracted workers were involved in an accident, FMI argued that it was not liable for the negligent actions of its hired drivers due to the fact that FMI regularly hires independent contractors. The court originally ruled in FMI’s favor but an appeal of the ruling by the plaintiff was successful.

Vargus vs FMI, Inc.

Jose Vargas and Luis Felipe Villalobos, employees of Eves Express, Inc. were hired to transport cargo on behalf of FMI and while Vargus was resting in the sleeper tractor, Villalobos lost control of the vehicle and injured Vargus during the resulting accident. Jose Vargus chose to file a lawsuit against Villalobos, Eves Express and FMI on the grounds that Villalobos acted negligently and Eves Express and FMI both failed to provide a safe work environment. FMI argued that the liability rested solely upon Eves Express— the company contracted to perform duties on its behalf.

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