March 19, 2013

Contamination at NC Marine Base May lead to Tort Claims

On March 14, 2013, NBC News published an article highlighting the dangers of contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune Marine base. Camp Lejeune is one of the most storied Marine bases in the United States, but new evidence shows contamination of the water supply at the base may go back for as long as 60 years. 1409533_glass_of_water_1.jpg

According to past estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was thought that somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people were exposed to contaminated drinking water at the Lejeune base between 1953 and 1987. New evidence, however, suggests that the contamination may go back even further to 1948. Our North Carolina injury attorneys know this means more people may have potentially been exposed to toxins and may have developed, or may be in danger of developing, serious health problems.

The Contaminated Drinking Water
It has long been established that there were several wells on the Lejeune Marine base that were contaminated with a variety of different chemicals. The contamination occurred because of fuel leaks and potentially because of a nearby dry-cleaning plant. However, while federal officials were aware of the contamination for years, it was not previously thought to extend back for as long as 60 years.

Past reports indicated that some of the wells were potentially tainted with trichloroethylene (TCE) between 1948 and 2008 while others were tainted with benzene between 1951 and 2008.

A new report, however, indicates that the TCE contamination may have begun either during construction in 1941 or right after construction in 1942. If this is the case, then the TCE may first have exceeded the maximum content level by 1948. A potential 60-year history of contamination is tragic and can have devastating outcomes for the Marines and their families who drank and bathed in the toxic water. The highest levels of TCE were reached in the 1970s, but anyone exposed during the time they lived on the base was potentially at risk.

Determining exactly who was affected by the toxins and how much contamination existed is complicated since different housing areas and office areas are affected in different ways. However, it is clear that Marines have complained that they and their family members, including children, have suffered from cancer as a result of the contaminated water.

Cancers caused by exposure to the toxins include fatal leukemia and breast cancer. The chemicals in the contaminated water at the marine supply may also cause kidney disease, aplastic anemia, lupus, infertility, Parkinson's disease and a host of other health problems.

Taking Action Due to Toxic Water Exposure
The federal government has taken responsibility for exposing the marines and their families on the base to toxins, and those exposed can seek compensation and medical care through the government. With the new report indicating that the exposure to toxins from contaminated wells may have occurred sooner, it is possible more people will now be eligible for compensation.

In many cases, those who are exposed to toxic chemicals in the water, at work or anywhere else often have a very hard time obtaining compensation since it can be challenging to prove that there is a clear link between the toxic exposure and illness that often develop much later in life. In this case, the Marines and their families are fortunate that at least their bills are being taken care of and that money is available to help meet their needs.

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March 15, 2013

New OSHA Standards to Keep Kids Safe in Cribs and Play Yards

Officials with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced tougher safety standards for child play yards. The new rules took effect in late January and they require all importers and manufactures of toddler and infant play yards to test them to make sure they're meeting the new standards.
Our Asheville child injury attorneys understand that parents expect these play yards to be a safe and reliable spot to keep our children. Unfortunately, there were holes in the safety standards that allowed these young children to face serious risks. As you may know, these play yards are areas that are framed and enclosed with a floor and a fabric or mesh side panels. These play areas can be folded up for easy moving or for storage. Unfortunately, their design wasn't as safe as it should be. And that's why OSHA officials stepped up to the plate.

Under the new play yard standards:

-The side rails of these play areas cannot form a sharp-V shape -- especially when folded. The elimination of this sharp V will help to eliminate the strangulation risks for children.

-The corner brackets on these devices are to be made stronger. This is going to help to eliminate sharp-edged cracks. The stronger brackets will also help to reduce the chances of these devices collapsing.

-The mattress attachments are required to be stronger. This is to help to keep the mattress down and to reduce the risks of children getting caught underneath. This is also going to reduce risks of them getting trapped, injured or suffocated.

All of these new standards fall under the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act. This act is also referred to as "Danny's Law" and was named after a young child who died in a play yard in Chicago in 1998. He was napping in a play yard that had been recalled. It collapsed and he wound up suffocating.

For parents, it's not only important to make sure that you have a safe play yard and crib for your young ones, but it's important that you know how to properly use these devices. Every year, there are about 700 children under the age of 1 who are killing because of pillows and cushions placed in these areas. It's important that parents and guardians know what's safe for their young ones. About 60 percent of these fatalities are the result of suffocation from these items.

The safest place for your child to sleep is in a crib or in a play yard that meets these CPSC standards. This means that there should be no pillows, thick blankets, stuffed toys, or any other large items. If you're worried about your child getting cold, your best bet is to dress them in warm clothes. Blankets and quilts are more dangerous than warm.

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March 12, 2013

Fatigued Trucker Accused of Carolina Accident, Killing 5

A trucker from Wisconsin is looking at years behind bars after a serious traffic accident in North Carolina. The trucker pleaded guilty after slamming his big rig into a line of stopped traffic along Interstate 26. According to JS Online, 5 people were killed in this accident. The driver pleaded guilty to five counts of involuntary manslaughter from the October accident. Three of the victims were from Hendersonville. The two others were from Lexington. A judge sentenced the 50-year-old Bulgarian immigrant to between 48 months and 60 months in prison.
According to authorities, the driver was heading east on the interstate when his big rig slammed into a line of cars that were stopped by another accident. Officials say that the truck was traveling at about 70 miles per hour when the accident happened. They say it happened because the driver was fatigued.

Our Charlotte trucking accident lawyers understand that the U.S. government has already established laws regulating exactly how long a commercial driver can work in a given period of time. These laws were enacted to help to protect both the truck drivers and the motorists. Fatigued and drowsy driving is unsafe for everyone on the road.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off the clock. They're also not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

According to, there are about 100,000 accidents that are reported every year as a result of driver fatigue. Unfortunately, the actual number may be a lot higher as there's no real way to determine if a driver is drowsy or tired behind the wheel. We've got breathalyzers to test to see if drivers are under the influence, but nothing to test for drowsiness. With what we know, officials predict that drowsy and fatigued driving contributes to close to 2,000 fatalities and more than 70,000 injuries each and every year. These accidents are costly, too. Officials estimate that these accidents run a tab of more than $12 million in monetary losses.

Close to 75 percent of American adults drive a vehicle to and from work. Many of them are drowsy drivers. The ones who are driving while on the job may be even worse. Imagine spending more than 10 hours behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. You'd get tired, too. That's why it's important that our truckers are getting the rest that they need. Their trucks serve as death weapons out on our roadways. Our passenger vehicles stand little to no chance against the size, weight and power of these big rigs.

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March 7, 2013

NCDOT Wants Your Opinion on Bike and Walk Plan

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) are all about getting you to your destination as quickly as possible -- if you're in a motor vehicle. But now, officials are also working on a draft of a statewide biking and walking plan.
The Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan has officials looking to determine how the state is going to invest in these modes of transportation. Officials are working on a blueprint that will help to improve biking and walking in communities and they're looking to do it by investing in bike lanes, sidewalks and greenways.

Our Asheville personal injury attorneys understand that residents can add their two cents about this plan. All you have to do is visit Walk Bike NC, review the plan and let officials know what you think. Remember to do it quickly! If you want to submit your comments, you better do so by April 30th.

How do these investments help us?

-Biking and walking helps to promote physical, social and mental well-being by helping to provide outdoor places to exercise, relax and socialize.

-Helps to provide easy biking or walking connections between schools, neighborhoods and trails.

-Increases property values, helps to promote tourism and works to foster local businesses by encouraging these easy and convenient modes of transportation.

-Helps to improve overall quality of life.

Unfortunately, biking and walking in NC may not be the easiest -- or the safest. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 25 bicyclists who were killed in traffic accidents in North Carolina in 2010. Pedestrians were no safer. As a matter of fact, they were worse off. In 2010, North Carolina saw close to 200 pedestrian fatalities.

Until we get those much-needed sidewalks and bike lanes, we're turning our attention to drivers. It's important to remember that these travelers have a right to our roadways, too. We need to treat them with the respect of any of driver out there. Be sure to keep your distance from these travelers as they're much more likely to be seriously injured, and even killed, in the event of an accident. They don't stand a chance.

Walkers and bicyclists are asked to do their job, too. Stay as far away from vehicular traffic as possible. Make sure drivers can see you -- wear bright-colored clothing and make your maneuvers predictable. When you're crossing the street, the most important thing to remember is to make eye contact with drivers before doing so. You want to ensure that they see you.

Drivers are asked to be safe out there, and be on the lookout for our two-footed and two-wheeled friends. Their safety relies on you!

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March 3, 2013

Carolina Nursing Home Neglect: Nurse Lets Patient Die

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a major problem throughout the Carolinas and throughout the United States. One recent tragic case making headlines, however, is an egregious example of a retirement community that failed to provide even the most basic of assistance to a dying 87-year-old resident. The incident occurred when a nurse refused to provide CPR to a woman in an independent living community, resulting in the woman's death.

Our Charlotte injury attorneys believe that this tragic incident should be a wake up call to every single person entering a nursing home or admitting a parent or relative to an assisted or independent living community. The nurse and facility argue that they followed protocol as outlined in the nursing home contract. While it remains to be seen whether any action will be taken in civil or criminal court as a result of the events, this tragic incident is a key reminder that you must always read and understand your contract before entering into a retirement or elder living environment. Further, it is also a key reminder that you need to choose your living environment very carefully.

Nurse Refuses to Provide CPR To Patient
An article in USA Today published on March 4, 2013, relayed information about the incident in the independent living home that has been making nationwide headlines. According to the USA Today article, a nurse called 911 when an 87-year-old resident was in distress. The Dispatcher begged the nurse to perform CPR on the dying woman and asked whether there was anyone in the facility that was willing to help the woman and not let her die.

In response to the question, the nurse said "Um, not at this time." The dispatcher reminded the nurse that "it's a human being," but to no avail. On a tape of the call, the nurse could be heard telling someone else that the dispatcher was yelling at her and that she was not going to make the call on whether to perform CPR or not. Yet, no one came to the aid of the dying woman and the 87-year-old was declared dead at the hospital later that day.

While there has been a widespread public outcry as the tape was played on media stations and made national news, USA Today reported that the executive director of the assisted living facility defended the actions of the nurse because the nurse had followed policy.

The policy specified that emergency personnel would be called in during an emergency and that someone would wait with the patient in distress until help came. The independent living community had a contract in place that outlined the policy, and the director said that residents were informed of the no CPR rule when they moved in. At the adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, no such policy was in place.

USA Today reports that an investigation is underway by local police, as well as an internal investigation of the nursing home. According to their article, the daughter of the woman who died said she was not dissatisfied with the handling of the case since there was a do not resuscitate order on file. However, if the surviving family members had been displeased, then they might have been able to file a claim for nursing home neglect.

Of course, the existence of the contract and policy might have absolved the nurse and assisted living facility of the obligation to render aid, especially since there is no general duty to provide assistance to others under the law. However, a solid argument could also be made that it was grossly negligent to stand by and watch someone die who was under the care of the facility when simply performing CPR might have saved a life.

Without a lawsuit, the impact of the contract on liability for negligence in the death is something that an only be speculated about. It is clear, however, that this incident should serve as a very important reminder to ALWAYS check your nursing home or assisted living community paperwork before moving in so you know what your guaranteed rights are.... and aren't.

Continue reading "Carolina Nursing Home Neglect: Nurse Lets Patient Die" »

March 2, 2013

Dangerously Exhausted Medical Residents and Patient Safety

On February 22nd, 2013, the Wall Street Journal tackled an important question. The question was whether medical residents are dangerously exhausted. Our Winston-Salem injury attorneys were very interested in the analysis and information presented in the article because we know that medical residents are often overworked and not given sufficient time to sleep. Sleep deprivation can compromise your faculties and cognitive abilities, and these overtired residents may, therefore, be dangerous if they are not equipped to provide reasonable patient care due to their fatigue.

The Rules on Medical Residents and Rest Periods

Before the year 2003, there were no laws, rules or regulations in place that set limits on the number of hours that a medical resident could work. This means that residents could theoretically work straight through all night and into the next day and could be kept working even as they grew more and more tired. The author of the Wall Street Journal article indicated he had experienced this himself, remaining awake for as long as 36-hours-at a time as a medical resident and becoming so tired by the time he left work that he fell asleep at stop lights on his ride home.

This situation was, of course, untenable since a doctor who is falling asleep on his feet is unlikely to provide the best quality of patient care. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education took action and imposed an 80-hour-per week work limit for residents. Because this Accreditation program is in charge of determining which U.S. medical residency programs are accredited, this essentially created a de facto industry standard rule imposing a maximum 80-hour work week.

In 2011, the Accreditation Council decided that the 80-hour limit wasn't sufficient to protect the public from an overtired doctor. As such, they mandated that first year interns/residents could not work overnight or 24-hour shifts.

All of these limitations are, hopefully, going to help save lives. It is very clear that being awake for too long can be seriously impairing (in fact, this is why truck drivers have maximum drive time limits and why drowsy driving has become such a major concern). If limits are imposed on other professionals like truck drivers to avoid fatigue, it stands to reason that limits should be imposed to ensure that those who perform life-saving medical treatments don't do so after getting no sleep.

Unfortunately, as the Wall Street Journal author points out, there are costs to imposing limits like this as well. One issue is that handoffs from one doctor to another can be dangerous as crucial information vanishes in each shift. In some cases, it is even possible that the actual patient will become lost in the shuffle and may not get the necessary care.

The Wall Street Journal author also argues that the residents who are limited in their work time may not get sufficient exposure to the medical procedures they are expected to perform and the concepts they are expected to learn.

These are very valid concerns, and should be dealt with through appropriate policy adoptions including having strict guidelines on the handoff procedure and taking concrete steps to ensure that residents get real hands-on experience. It is clear, however, that having an overtired hospital worker is not good for anyone and could put the patient at risk. Every solution needs to be considered in light of what it takes to keep a patient safe from medical negligence or medical malpractice that causes harm.

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March 1, 2013

Death Rate of Teen Drivers Down in South Carolina

Auto accidents remain one of the top causes of death for teen drivers, and younger drivers face a significantly greater risk of becoming involved in a car wreck than their older peers. This is why our South Carolina personal injury attorneys were so happy to read the recent data indicating that young teen driver deaths had fallen in the state in 2012.

While it is great news that fewer teenage drivers died in 2012, however, the decline in deaths was only a small one. We still have a long way to go in making the roads as safe as they can be for young drivers and we encourage all teens and parents to remain vigilant about driver safety.

Teen Car Accident Deaths Declines in 2012
On March 5, 2013, The State published an article highlighting the good news from the Office of Highway Safety about the decline in the teen car accident death rate. According to The State, the number of deaths among drivers ages 16 and 17 declined slightly in 2012 as compared to 2011.

The change was in keeping with the long-range South Carolina trends on teen accident deaths. The number of young drivers ages 17 and 18 being killed in auto accidents has been on the decline since 2003.

The change is not an insignificant one. In 2003, there were 29 deaths among those ages 16 and 17 in the state. By 2012, there were only 13 deaths within the same age group over the year.

The ongoing decline in South Carolina teen car accident fatalities is at odds with the national average. Throughout the United States as a whole, the number of teen deaths has been rising. Predictions were also made that the death toll of young drivers was expected to go up for all of 2012.

South Carolina beat these expectations and had fewer drivers die for many reasons, but some of the most important include:

  • The mandatory seat belt law, which became effective in 2006. Today, almost 60 percent of teenagers who are killed in wrecks are not wearing seat belts but The State indicates this number used to be much higher.

  • The Alive at 25 Program, which is a 4 ½ hour course that is taught at eleven high schools and reaches 3,511 students. The program was started in 2007 and works to connect with students emotionally to foster safe driving habits.

  • Putting onto tickets clearly displayed traffic safety information dealing with the issues of texting and driving; drunk driving; speeding and seat-belt use.

  • Rollover simulators and driving simulators, which an estimated 15,000 people used last year. The simulators show teens how easy it is to become distracted and become involved in a wreck.

  • The Families of Highway Fatalities Program, in which parents of teens killed in avoidable car wrecks speak to students. This program reached over 15,000 students last year.

The laws and outreach efforts are clearly working as the rate of car accident deaths continues to decline among South Carolina's youth.

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February 26, 2013

South Carolina Car Accidents: Blame it on the Rain

Sheets of pouring rain stretching from Anderson to Augusta were reported to be a factor in numerous serious accidents along U.S. 278 and across both states. raindrops.jpg

Our Anderson personal injury lawyers understand that authorities are attributing about five back-to-back crashes on low visibility and slick roads caused by the inclement weather. In truth, the responsibility lies with those drivers who failed to respond appropriately to the conditions.

The bottom line is that while no one controls the weather, we can control our reactions to it. Every single person who gets behind that wheel must take this responsibility very seriously, not only for their own personal safety but for all of the rest of us who share the road.

According to the South Carolina Highway patrol, a recent Thursday morning saw at least five crashes along the rain-soaked expressway. One was reported on Silver Bluff Road just after 6 a.m. As crews were responding to that scene, another wreck was reported on Herndon Dairy Road about a half hour later. Then a third accident followed on U.S. 278 around 7:30 a.m. By 8 a.m., there was a fourth crash on Sudlow Lake Road, and then a fifth crash was reported a short time later at Pear Orchard Road.

Morning commuters were left to cope with major delays, but we don't have any immediate word on the extent of the injuries.

In March, the weather table in South Carolina indicates that we see anywhere from 3.8 to 5.3 inches of rain, depending on the location.

We hear an awful lot about safe winter driving hazards, but rain doesn't get as much attention, even though it's equally perilous. In particular, teen drivers need to be educated about how to operate and control their vehicles in poor conditions - especially when they crop up unexpectedly. officers a long list of rainy safe driving tips that we have found to be especially on point:

  • Slow down. This is a good idea anytime you face an altered road condition. In the rain, it's going to take you longer to stop or adjust gears. Play it safe by lowering your speed.

  • If you can, stay in the middle lanes. We know that rainwater has a tendency to pool along the edges of the roadway, and this can cause you to skid (especially if you're going fast!).

  • Keep a fair distances from big tractor trailers or buses, which have a tendency to have the propensity to kick back visibility-reducing spray.

  • Try to avoid slamming on the brakes. In wet conditions, it's usually more effective to ease your foot off the accelerator if you need to slow down.

  • Flip your headlights on, even if there's only a light rain. It helps you see and it helps other drivers to see you.

  • Prepare for potentially rainy weather by replacing old wipers.

  • If you can, try to avoid off-road driving. Puddle depth can be tough to judge from inside a vehicle, and you risk potentially getting stuck.

  • If you find your visibility is significantly reduced - especially at night - pull over and wait it out. This might seem an inconvenience, but consider that in these conditions, wildlife, pedestrians and sometimes even other cars, can be difficult to see.

  • If you approach a puddle, do so slowly. If the rainwater is higher than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route.

Continue reading "South Carolina Car Accidents: Blame it on the Rain" »

February 25, 2013

South Carolina EMS Urge Immediate Medical Attention After Accident

Too many times in this line of work, our Greenville personal injury lawyers have seen instances where people who were involved in an accident - whether in a motor vehicle or a slip and fall or an athletic activity - who failed to get immediate medical treatment. medicaldoctor.jpg

We tend to see this quite a bit with men in particular, who don't want to worry their family members or appear as if they aren't tough enough to handle it.

But here's the thing: Even if you feel Ok in the few minutes after it happened, you could have incurred serious and potentially life-threatening or life-altering injuries that aren't immediately apparent. In many of these cases, early detection could actually save your life. Furthermore, having hard, medical proof and documentation of these injuries can go a long way in bolstering your success if you choose to later file a personal injury lawsuit.

South Carolina emergency workers have been driving home the point in a public awareness campaign, recently published by local Gannett affiliate, WLTX in Charleston. The crews say that those involved in accidents should almost always seek immediate medical treatment because in the aftermath of an incident, you may not be the best judge of whether you are actually injured.

For example, certain kinds of head injuries may not reveal themselves for days or even weeks. It's estimated that head injuries account for some 250,000 annual hospital admissions and some 50,000 deaths. Motor vehicles and sports accidents account for 9 out 10 of these cases, and children under the age of 14 account for 2,500 of them.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that certain symptoms or factors increase the urgency to seek medical attention following a blow to the head:

  • Headache;

  • Short term memory loss;

  • Vomiting;

  • Seizure;

  • Alcohol intoxication;

  • Being over the age of 60;

  • Obvious physical trauma to either the neck or head.

South Carolina emergency workers say that while accident victims always have the right to decline medical care, most recommend immediate transportation to the hospital or, at the very least, some sort of check-up soon thereafter.

Know too that the longer you wait to seek medical help, the more difficult it will be to prove that the injuries you are suffering are in fact a direct result of the incident. You may also consider taking photographs of any scrapes, cuts, bruises or other visible injuries.

South Carolina emergency medical professionals responding to an accident or injury scene operate on two principles when deciding whether to transport you to the hospital: Expressed consent and implied consent. You may expressly communicate that you want to be treated or there may be implied consent. That happens either when someone is under 18 and has no one to sign consent for him or her or when the individual is not mentally capable of making those decisions. In making that call for an adult, emergency workers will try to assess whether you are alert. It's best to simply go with them if there is any doubt.

Even if you are alert and feel fine following an injury, particularly one to the head, a precautionary medical evaluation is not something to take lightly. Trying to "wait and see" or "sleep it off" could potentially result in a rapid deterioration of your condition.

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February 24, 2013

Rock Hill Injury Lawyers Warn of Rising Plastic Surgery Risks

Our Rock Hill medical malpractice lawyers have learned there has been a marked shift in the kinds of plastic surgeries being conducted in this country. browneyecloseup.jpg

It used to be, breast and buttocks enhancements were the norm. Now, for the first time in six years, they are down significantly. Instead, CNN reports, more people are opting for facial plastic surgery. Procedures like lifts, injections and laser corrections.

No surgery is risk-free, and most people know that going in. These types of procedures come with very real risks that should be clearly communicated by your surgeon. But perhaps what he or she won't tell you about is the possibility of malpractice in the form of egregious errors on the part of the medical team.

By conducting these procedures and rendering care to their patients, surgeons imply that they have the education, training and skills necessary to carry out these procedures safely. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Some of the plastic surgery complications we have seen include:

  • Infection;

  • Prolonged sedation leading to injury;

  • Disability or disfigurement;

  • Anesthesia errors;

  • Over or under-correction;

  • Scars;

  • Hematoma;

  • Nerve damage and numbness;

  • Excessive skin removal;

  • Excessively dry eyes or inability to close eyes;

  • Blistering or burning;

  • Medication interactions or reactions.

These are just a few, but their prevalence is likely to rise with the number of increasing facial surgeries conducted.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons released an annual report indicating that last year, more than 14.6 million Americans underwent cosmetic procedures. That's a record, and an overall increase of 5 percent from the previous year. There was actually a 2 percent decline in the number of surgeries, but that was offset by the fact that there was a 6 percent increase in minimally invasive procedures, such as Botox injections, which increased 8 percent within the past year.

The number of face lifts increased by 6 percent, cheek implants also by 6 percent and eyelid lifts by 4 percent.

A big part of the reason for this shift, it's been determined, is Baby Boomers. Older patients are more likely to seek facial tightening cosmetic procedures, rather than breast or buttocks augmentations. But it's worth noting that older patients in general are at greater risk of surgical complications than their younger counterparts, even when they are relatively healthy. Surgeons have a critical responsibility to carefully vet each patient prior to the procedure to ensure that certain obvious complications don't arise.

Even minimally invasive procedures are not without risk. Facial laser treatments, for example, can potentially cause skin discoloration or extensive burns and blisters. And last year in Virginia, a jury awarded more than $210 million to a man who suffered brain injury as a result of Botox injections.

Some victims of botched procedures may be less likely to file suit out of embarrassment or shame. But when these things happen, they are not your fault, and you may be entitled to compensation.

Continue reading "Rock Hill Injury Lawyers Warn of Rising Plastic Surgery Risks" »

February 20, 2013

21/2Malpractice Watch: Case Involves Mistaken Pregnancy Termination

A woman has filed suit against an Air Force base hospital and a former North Carolina doctor, claiming her pregnancy was terminated under the erroneous determination that she was suffering a molar pregnancy.handsonbelly.jpg

As our Charlotte medical malpractice lawyers understand, that turned out to be false. A molar pregnancy is one in which the tissue that would normally develop into a fetus instead becomes an abnormal and sometimes cancerous growth.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the woman was diagnosed with the condition when she was 12 weeks along. Doctors had no reason to immediately believe that the tissue had become cancerous, but indicated there was grave potential for it to become a rapidly-progressing and potentially terminal illness. They advised an immediate suction dilation and curettage, which is a type of abortion procedure used to extract tissue from the womb.

She underwent an immediate series of tests - blood work, ultrasounds, exams and x-rays.

She and her Air Force husband had been ecstatic about the pregnancy, and the news of the molar pregnancy was devastating. But as a mother, she did not want to risk not being there for her son to grow up. She underwent the procedure.

She would later reveal in court documents that the procedure was emotionally gut-wrenching and physically painful. But that was little, she would later say, compared to what she learned afterward: The tissue that was removed was actually a healthy fetus.

Because the incident occurred in a military hospital, the lawsuit had to be filed in federal court. But similar cases have been noted in other parts of the country. In 2011, a Colorado woman filed suit after her pharmacist mistakenly gave her an abortion pill, as opposed to the antibiotic she was actually there to pick up, while she was six-months pregnant.

A recent study published in the journal Surgery combed through a federal database of medical malpractice claims to determine how often problems were caused by surgeons either performing performing the wrong procedure, leaving a foreign object inside a patient or operating on the wrong person. The researchers found that between 1990 and 2010, some 9,745 medical malpractice settlements were reached after these kinds of situations, which resulted in payments totaling $1.3 billion.

It's unclear how many instances involved pregnancy-related malpractice, but we do know that birth injuries are exceedingly common. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 7 out of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S. suffer some form of birth injury. Most of these happen at non-profit hospitals. Additionally, 6 out of 7 will suffer mild to severe complications as a result, including erb's palsy, fractures, cerebral palsy, facial paralysis and spinal cord damages.

About 135 out of 100,000 live births result in death due to medical malpractice. Some of the more common mistakes include:

  • Failure to recognize fetal distress;

  • Improper use of vacuum or forceps;

  • Untimely C-sections;

  • Instrumental births.

Doctors take an oath upon becoming licensed to never do harm. Sadly, not all keep their word.

Continue reading "21/2Malpractice Watch: Case Involves Mistaken Pregnancy Termination" »

February 18, 2013

Speedy Mover Accused of Killing Passenger in NC Traffic Accident

A Greensburg man who was in the middle of moving to North Carolina was killed in a recent one-vehicle accident. According to TribLive, the man died on scene on Route 17 right by River Bend. State Highway Patrol reports that the man was a passenger in the vehicle.
Media reports indicate the vehicle was heading south just before 4:00 a.m. when the accident happened. The vehicle reportedly veered off the road, into the median and the driver lost control. After traveling in the median, the driver completely lost control, flipped over and slid sideways into lanes of oncoming traffic. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead on scene. The driver was taken to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Officers say that the driver was speeding when the accident happened. Charges are currently pending.

Our Greensburg car accident lawyers understand that the faster a driver is traveling the higher their risks are for an accident. Speed is actually considered a factor in about a third of all accidents. According to Smart Motorist, exceeding the speed limit by only 5 mph in the wrong place can be dangerous. Local governments and traffic engineers have spent plenty of time working on creating appropriate speed limits for roadways across the nation. The speed limits are not there to slow you down, but they're there to help to keep you safe. Still, about 90 percent of drivers admit to speeding at least once during their driving career. About 75 percent of drivers say that they commit this offense regularly.

Traffic engineers maintain that speed limits should be established according to the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic. What this means is that the limit should be set at a level at or under which 85 percent of people are driving. Numerous studies have shown that the 85th percentile is the safest possible level at which to set a speed limit.

Drivers who speed are more likely to engage in other dangerous driving habits, too. Some of the most frequent dangerous driving behaviors include tailgating, horn honking, Frequent or unsafe lane changes, light flashing, deliberate obstruction, failure to signal, drunk driving and more.

Speed Limits in the state of North Carolina:

-Rural Interstates: 70 mph

-Urban Interstates 70 mph

-Other Limited Access Roads: 70mph

Just because these are the speed limits on interstates and other fast-traveling roadways, that doesn't mean it's the speed limit everywhere. You're urged to remain aware of speed limits on all roadways that you travel. In residential areas, remember that the speed limit is usually 30 miles per her. Keep an eye on your speed and help to improve your safety! When traveling on high speed limit roadways, make sure you're keeping your distance from other vehicles. The closer you're traveling to another vehicle the less time you have to react to a roadway danger. Travel cautiously, travel the speed limit and travel with safety in mind.

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February 16, 2013

Recall Highlights Child-Proof Caps and Poisoning Risks

Common child cold remedies are being recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). We're talking about Triaminic and Theraflu products. According to CNN, officials are taking these products off the market because the caps aren't working properly. These medicines are required by law to come with a functioning child-resistant cap. Unfortunately, they're not working as they're supposed to.
More specifically, it's the Triaminic Syrups and Theraflu Warming Relief Syrups that fall under this recall. The products were voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer, Novartis Consumer Health. They were too easy to get into for children and were posing serious poisoning risks.

Our Asheville child injury attorneys understand that our young ones don't always know what they should and should not be playing with. When presented with something new, there's no doubt that they're going to explore -- even if that "explore" means tasting. When they get their hands on candy- and fruit-tasting syrups, the outcome can be disastrous. This is why it's important for parents and guardians to keep these dangerous products out of sight and out of reach.

The company says that the last batch of these medicines was distributed in the U.S. more than a year ago. They believe that there is not much left on store shelves but home medicine cabinets may be a different story.

The problem with these products is that they contain both diaphenhydramine and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an ingredient that is used as an anti-inflammatory and is used to treat pain. Diaphenhydramine is an antihistamine that is used to treat both colds and allergies.

Products that contain these ingredients are required under federal law to come with child-resistant caps. These caps are to help to reduce the risks of child poisonings, which affect over 300 children each and every day here in the U.S. Each day, there are two children under the age of 19 who die from these kinds of accidents.

If you have any of these products in your home, you're urged to stop using them immediately. You're asked to safely throw them out. If you want, you can contact Novartis for details regarding a refund, too. It's also important that you routinely go through your medicine cabinets to make sure that you have no unused or expired medications. These products can be deadly and should not be stored in your home.

Altogether, there are 24 kinds of products involved in this recall. It all started because of a complaint that was filed by a consumer late last year. All of the products that fall under this recall are in the U.S., although some are being recalled in Canada as a safety precaution.

So far, the company has reported that they've received about a dozen reports of children getting into the bottles. There were four reports of children consuming the medicine as a result of the faulty caps.

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February 15, 2013

NC Motor Coach Safety Driven Home By Fatal Crash in CA

A tour bus crash in California has claimed eight lives and resulted in dozens of hospitalizations, with more than 40 people injured. trolleybus.jpg

Our North Carolina personal injury lawyers are heartbroken for the families of those lost, and will continue to hope for a swift recovery for those who were hurt.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about all of this is that the crash was likely entirely preventable. The investigation is ongoing, but initial reports are beginning to paint a picture revealing the company that owned the motor coach may have prized profits over people - underscoring the critical importance of thoroughly researching any transportation firm when planning your next road trip.

According to local news reports, the passengers on the bus were on their way back to Mexico, following a daylong trip to a ski resort in Southern California. The driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle, potentially due to a brake failure, and the bus careened down the hill at a high rate of speed. The vehicle allegedly slammed into a car heading the same direction before swerving into the opposite lane and striking a pick-up that was towing a trailer. The bus ultimately flipped over in a complete 360, ejecting passengers and crushing in portions of the roof.

Making matters worse was the fact that the mountainous terrain where the crash occurred made it difficult for rescuers arrive quickly and transport the injured.

At least one passenger who survived told investigators that people inside began to panic when the brakes began smoking and the driver screamed for someone to call 911. However, the remote location of the roadway meant no one could get a clear signal on their cell phones.

Investigative reporters have discovered that the company that owns the bus - one of just three in its entire fleet - had a somewhat spotty safety record. While the Department of Transportation reports that the national average for motor coach inspections resulting in out-of-service actions is 21 percent, this company's rating was 36 percent. This was in addition to the fact that the company had been flagged on the DOT's safety watch list, primarily due to ongoing problems with vehicle maintenance.

And yet, the company was still given a safety rating of "satisfactory" by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration - which goes to show more improvements are needed in federal oversight.

The FMCSA advises all persons planning bus or motor coach trips to verify the following before purchasing tickets:

  • Review the company's safety performance history;

  • Check the company's FMCSA safety rating, noting that firms with a "conditional" rating could be higher risk and those with an "unsatisfactory" rating shouldn't even be operating;

  • If you're traveling out of state, make sure the company has federal operating authority and if it carries more than 16 people at a time, make sure it carries a minimum of $5 million worth of insurance.

You may also consider contacting the DOT for more information on a company, and also the Better Business Bureau for consumer satisfaction reviews that could offer further safety insights.

Continue reading "NC Motor Coach Safety Driven Home By Fatal Crash in CA" »

February 13, 2013

FDA: Eye Surgery Centers Warned To Inform Patients of Risks

Vision enhancement surgery, such as LASIK, was hailed as near miraculous when it became commonplace in the late 1990s. eye1.jpg

However, our South Carolina personal injury lawyers know there is a dark side to it as well, though risks and complications haven't been widely reported to the public or even patients, until recently.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to five of the country's top surgery centers - two of those in nearby states - to immediately halt false advertising practices and begin appropriately advising patients of the potential adverse outcomes. The warning letters were sent to eye surgery centers in Indiana, California, Florida, Texas and Georgia.

A report by National Public Radio in the summer of 2010 indicated that some 17 million people globally had undergone LASIK eye surgery, with about 700,000 in the U.S. opting for the procedure each year.

Specifically, the goal of the surgery is to use lasers to reshape the cornea to improve or correct a number of vision-related problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. While the American Academy of Opthalmology has reported that most patients are happy with the results, an increasing number of people have suffered serious side-effects. In a number of cases, the FDA has indicated patients may not have been adequately warned of those risks.

The regulator's Center for Devices and Radiological Health said patient awareness is paramount.

Among the most common risks posed by the procedure, some patients have reported severe dry eye syndrome, the need for contact lenses or glasses afterward and vision problems such as glare, double vision, starbursts and halos. In some cases, patients have been known to lose their vision entirely.

One of the greatest problems is that patients aren't being told when they are not a good candidate for the surgery, which could be the case for a number of reasons.

This most recent warning to those in the industry is by no means the first. The FDA first issued warning letters to 17 eye surgery centers in 2009 after they were found to have failed in adequately reporting patient complications to authorities. Similar problems prompted warning letters also in September 2011 and again in March of last year.

Those centers that don't follow the FDA's guidelines could face additional sanctions, such as monetary penalties or injunctions forcing them to close.

A $180 million federal class action lawsuit lawsuit was filed in South Carolina three years ago, alleging that some 30 branches of TLC LASIK Centers conducted the procedure on patients who should have been disqualified, causing them to suffer severe problems. The plaintiff alleged he had suffered vision loss and had to undergo a cornea transplant as a result of undergoing LASIK, which he said he should have never been allowed to have due to a pre-existing eye condition.

That case was initially dismissed, but is now pending appeal.

The bottom line for you is that if you are considering LASIK surgery, make sure your doctor thoroughly explains the procedure and potential risks and has conducted a thorough examination to determine whether you are in fact a good candidate.

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