Recently in Personal Injury Category

December 21, 2014

Izell v. Union Carbide - Appellate Court Upholds $24M Mesothelioma Award


Asbestos is a fibrous material that for decades was used in everything from flooring material to vehicle brakes. It also happens to be deadly when those fibers are inhaled, causing chronic and terminal illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, which often don't manifest until decades post-exposure.
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Many companies that manufactured and sold asbestos-laden products have been the subject of thousands of lawsuits, mostly because there is ample evidence these companies knew of the dangers this material caused and failed to warn users and workers. In some cases, it's been found the companies actively concealed this information.

Some firms have established asbestos trusts to pay out proven asbestos injury and wrongful death claims. Others continue to fight the claims in court.

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December 19, 2014

Wells v. Smith - Demolition Site Injury Claims Can Be Complex


Construction workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. One of the most dangerous sub-categories of construction work is demolition.
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Earlier this year, after a series of demolition-related injuries and fatalities, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety & Health Administration noted far too many workers' lives were risked or sacrificed because employers and/or property owners neglected demolition safety fundamentals. The official went on to say all employers of workers involved in demolition projects have to be aware of the hazards and necessary safety measures before such work begins.

The agency recently updated its standards and page on demolition dangers, entitled, "Demolition: Construction in Reverse, with Additional Hazards."

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December 11, 2014

Laser Hair Removal Causes Disfigurement and Burns


For many women, undergoing painful procedures in the sake of beauty is not unheard of. However, going through painful procedure with resulting disfigurement and burns is never expected. According to New York Magazine, many women have suffered from serious burns and scarring after getting laser hair removal. Many of the victims have been young teens, and now the practice is being scrutinized. While women may take certain risks to meet beauty standards, parents, physicians, and other advocates should be concerned about the potential danger of laser hair removal.

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Laser hair removal is a procedure that obliterates hair follicles to prevent future hair growth. Teenagers have been known to seek out the procedure for legs, underarms, or even unsightly facial hair that has led to bullying. Though the practice has been noted among many teenagers, and even 11 or 12 year-olds, there have been significant reports about the potential dangers of laser hair removal. According to reports, patients have suffered burns that turned to discoloration. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, nearly half a million laser treatments were performed in the U.S. in 2011 by trained doctors. Treatments are also performed by non-doctors, which can increase the potential for risk and injury.

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December 2, 2014

Black Friday Injuries and Retailer Liability


In the weeks leading up to the notorious "Black Friday" for bargain-seeking shoppers, media sources reflected on past incidences of injury, even death related to stampedes, fighting, and brawls between customers and employees. In the event that a shopper is injured onsite, who is at fault? Can a consumer take action against a shop owner or corporation if they have suffered an injury? Black Friday attracts shoppers from all over the nation and has even spread to the UK. It is the busiest and most publicized commercial day of the year, but has also resulted in serious injuries and poses risk to consumers as well as retail employees.

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The National Retail Federation reports that there were over 90 million consumers participating in online and in-store Black Friday events. Those who decide to brave it in the masses could face potentially dangerous conditions. While many retailers will invest in a few extra security guards--they are not always sufficient or able to properly manage large crowds. A website found at www.blackfridaydeathcount.com tracks the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred as a result of Black Friday mobs. Individuals who have suffered a Black Friday injury do have the right to take action to collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and additional personal losses that may have been incurred.

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November 30, 2014

DeCormier v. Harley Davidson - Enforceability of Liability Waivers


If you have ever participated in a high-risk activity - think sky-diving or rock-climbing - you were almost certainly asked to sign a "waiver of liability," releasing the organizer and/or property owner from any claims of negligence relating to that activity.
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These waivers, also known as "exculpatory clauses," are becoming increasingly popular, even for participation in seemingly innocuous activities, such as a gym class or a charity 5K.

In South Carolina, these agreements may be enforceable as valid private contracts, but only if the language is sufficiently specific and the negligence asserted does not stem from a reckless or intentional act by defendant. It's also worth noting the South Carolina Supreme Court, in its 2003 ruling in Fisher v. Stevens, established exculpatory contracts are not favored by the law, and will be strictly construed against the party relying thereon.

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November 13, 2014

Zylstra v. Boise State University - Student Wrestler Head Injury Case


Football players have become the unfortunate poster child for sports-related head injuries in recent years, with a flood of lawsuits filed by professional players on down to those in the Pop Warner-age leagues.gym.jpg

Certainly, football can be a dangerous sport, and reports one of the highest rates of head injuries for any athletic activity. But it's not the only one. As the recent case of Zylstra v. Boise State University highlights, wrestling too can be hazardous to participants - especially when coaches fail to recognize possible head injury symptoms or take appropriate precautionary measures.

A 2010 study published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine researched numbers and characteristics of wrestling injuries among male athletes in the U.S. between 2000 and 2006. Culling figures from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, study authors found 173,600 emergency room visits involving wrestlers between the ages of 7 and 17. Of those, 91 percent involved wrestlers 12 to 17, with an injury rate in that group of nearly 30 injuries per 1,000 wrestlers. Those included sprains, fractures and bruises, but the vast majority of injuries (75 percent) occurred above the waist (including to to the head).

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October 30, 2014

77-Year-Old Woman Killed in Tragic Swamp Boating Accident


Tourists and visitors to the Southeast region may be put at additional risk if they are unaware of their surroundings or attempting new recreational activities. According to reports, a 77-year-old North Carolina woman drowned in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia after she fell out of a boat in the Suwanee Canal. The woman was visiting the swamp with her husband at the time of the accident. Authorities reported that the Efland woman was staying with her husband at the Laura S. Walker State Park while visiting the swamp.

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Drowning and boating accidents are common along the coast and on inland streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the Southeast. According to reports, the victims' husband stopped to look at something and had turned off the engine. When he restarted the motor, the boat lurched forward, "standing on end" and they both fell backwards out of the boat. Police reports indicate that the husband tried to help his wife, but she become entangled in the boat's propeller and suffered fatal injuries. The accident occurred approximately 7 or 8 miles down from the boat basin where they launched. After initial calls for help were made, local law enforcement officials, fire and rescue personnel, as well as officers from U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service and the State DNR responded to the scene. Though attempts were made to revive the woman, she was pronounced dead at the refuge by the Ware County coroner.

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October 29, 2014

Family Awarded $97 Million for Death of South Carolina Mayor


The family of a South Carolina mayor who was shot by a police officer has been awarded $97 million in a wrongful death case. According to reports, the mayor was shot and killed after he complained about the officer's aggressive behavior. The wrongful death verdict was considered a success for the family who tragically lost their loved one in a preventable crime. The mayor was shot in the chest with a revolver belonging to an officer in May 2011. The mayor was shot on a small dirt road and, according to local authorities, the officer still has not been charged with the crime.

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The tension between the mayor and the officer grew after the mayor objected the arrest of an employee in his construction business. The family sued the officer and the town of Cottageville, alleging that it should never have hired the officer due to his checkered past and troubled employment history. An attorney representing the officer alleges that the mayor had bipolar disorder and was enraged when he confronted the officer. A defense attorney claimed that the officer only shot the mayor in self-defense.

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October 14, 2014

Nguyen v. Western Digital Corp: On the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases


Nguyen v. Western Digital Corp., a case from the Court of Appeals of the State of California, Sixth Appellate District, involved plaintiff who was born in 1994. Her mother worked for defendant from the late 1980s through 1998. Her mother worked in clean rooms in which she was exposed to tetratogenic and reproductively harmful chemicals for extended periods of time.

3mspraymount-138829-m.jpgThese chemicals are now known to cause serious harm to unborn children. Plaintiff's mother was pregnant during the time she was exposed to the chemicals. Her employment involved the manufacturing of semiconductors that required the use of a combination of toxic substances and chemicals, and there is to no way to separate which specific chemical she was exposed to at any give time.

Plaintiff (through her guardian) alleged in her complaint that the clean rooms were clean in terms of protecting the company's products but not in terms of protecting workers from toxic chemicals. The protective clothing given to workers was also to protect the semiconductors from contamination from the workers and did nothing to prevent the workers from absorbing the toxic material through their skin or inhaling toxic vapors into their lungs.

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October 4, 2014

Hunting Accident in North Carolina Results in Death


According to recent report from ABC News 13, a North Carolina man was killed in a hunting accident when his friend allegedly shot him with a crossbow. The two men were deer hunting on private property when one hunter had mistaken his friend for a deer.

archery-2-358728-m.jpgThe hunters were wearing camouflage and not blaze orange. However, under North Carolina law, during archery bow season, hunters are not required to wear blaze orange, as they are during rifle season. The apparent logic behind this regulation is that a hunter will be much closer to a deer when shooting with a bow, as opposed to a gun, where it is more likely that a fellow hunter could be mistaken for a deer.

As of this time, charges have not been filed against the hunter, and authorities have stated that, at least for now, they are treating this as an accident pending further investigation.

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September 24, 2014

Brewer v. Hunter - Medical Records of Non-Parties Relevant in Malpractice Suit, Court Rules


A man rendered permanently paralyzed following back surgery has won a key victory in his lawsuit against the surgeon and hospital, after the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's decision to allow the medical records/outcomes of other surgical patients to be considered as evidence.
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Medical malpractice attorneys in Charlotte know that while the outcome of any case is going to be heavily weighted to the facts in that particular instance, the assertion of malpractice is a complex one, and by allowing a broader range of evidence, the courts gave plaintiffs an opportunity to determine whether this physician had a problematic history. This information would be relevant in a medical malpractice case, where plaintiffs have to prove a breach in the acceptable standard of care. A pattern of such breaches would strengthen the claim and potentially dampen defendant doctor's credibility.

Here, in Brewer v. Hunter et al., the patient in question first underwent thoracic spinal surgery to treat his severe back pain, leg weakness and spinal stenosis. Less than a decade later, he sought treatment from his primary care physician for many of these same issues. He was referred to a neuroscience and spine center specialist doctor after an MRI scan revealed severe canal stenosis and diffuse degenerative disease in his lumbar.

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September 20, 2014

Reed v. Malone's Mechanical, Inc., et al.: On Jury Instructions in a Personal Injury Case


Reed v. Malone's Mechanical, Inc., et al., an appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, involves a mechanic ("Plaintiff") who was hired to help renovate a chicken processing plant. Plaintiff was employed by a contractor ("Defendant 1"), and that contract was managed by another contractor ("Defendant 2").

pipes1.jpgPlaintiff was performing work on overhead pipes designed to transport hot cooking oil to cooking equipment located in other parts of the factory. Plaintiff was diagnosing a problem with a commercial fryer when another worker ("Defendant 3") was operating a scissor lift. The worker on the lift was adjusting a 12-pound pipe saddle when it fell and landed on Plaintiff, injuring him.

Plaintiff first sued all parties except Defendant 2 in federal court under diversity jurisdiction. As your Winston-Salem personal injury lawyer can explain, for a case to be heard in federal court, it must involve either a federal question (such as the constitutionality of a statute) or have complete diversity and an amount in controversy over $75,000. In the context of a federal case, diversity means that the plaintiff and defendants are from different states. A corporation is considered a resident of the state in which it has its principal place of business, corporate headquarters, or any state in which it conducts business.

The chicken plant owner ("Defendant 4") moved for summary judgment, and the case was dismissed. At this point, Plaintiff re-filed his lawsuit against Defendant 1 and Defendant 3, claiming that the employer was negligent in failing to secure the pipe saddle, for failing to warn him that dangerous construction work was going on above him, and that it was negligent to schedule work on an overhead pipe while others were working below.

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September 19, 2014

Patterson v. Domino's Pizza, LLC: On the Agency Relationship in Civil Actions


Patterson v. Domino's Pizza, LLC, a case from the Supreme Court of California, involved an employee ("Plaintiff") who was employed by a franchised pizza restaurant operated by Defendant. Defendant hired a male employee to work as a supervisor at the restaurant. Plaintiff was hired to serve costumers at the store.

gavel22.jpgPlaintiff filed lawsuit against Defendant, alleging that her supervisor had sexually harassed her anytime they worked the same shift. She claimed that he made lewd comments and gestures and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. She asked her supervisor to stop, but he continued to harass her, according to court records.

At this point, Plaintiff informed her father, who called police. He also called corporate offices of the pizza franchise and spoke with someone in human resources. Plaintiff did not return to work for one week. When she returned, her hours had been reduced, and she quit her job. It was Plaintiff's belief that her hours were cut in retaliation for filing a complaint against her employer.

Her lawsuit contained various claims, including sexual harassment, failure to take reasonable steps to avoid harassment, and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. She also made common law claims of negligence, assault and battery, and emotional distress. She sought both compensatory and punitive damages. As our Charlotte personal injury lawyers can explain, compensatory damages, as the name implies, are designed to compensate an injured party for any damages caused by the defendant's negligent or intentional conduct. These are the normal form of damages awarded under our legal system.

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September 7, 2014

Hahn v. Walsh - Ensuring Adequate Medical Care in S.C. Prisons


Although the prison population tends to garner little sympathy, the fact of the matter is, many are locked up for non-violent crimes. Regardless of the transgression, inmates are entitled under the Eighth Amendment to receive adequate medical care while in custody.
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Unfortunately, our Spartanburg personal injury lawyers know that because prisoners are isolated from their families and out-of-sight from the rest of the community, they are vulnerable to care that is deficient, resulting in unnecessary suffering and, in some cases, death.

Bringing a claim in these situations requires an attorney with extensive experience. These claims are complex as it is, but when they involve a government institution and a person accused or convicted of a crime, matters are even more complicated. While private medical firms contracted with the institution may face a claim of medical malpractice, the institution itself could be held liable if it is shown prison officials treated the inmate with "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs."

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September 4, 2014

Tattoo Ink Recall: Serious Infection Risk With Contaminated Products


Everyone who gets a tattoo (which is nearly 1 in 4 Americans today) anticipates some degree of pain in the process. Unfortunately, some are finding it more painful than others after developing painful rashes, skin infections and even blood diseases, like hepatitis C from contaminated inks and needles. tattoo.jpg

Our Charlotte personal injury lawyers understand in the wake of a tattoo ink recall in July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are dialing up the volume of their warnings, as more reports of serious illness emerge.

Let's start with the most recent recall. It involved inks and needles produced and distributed by a company called White & Blue Lion, Inc., a firm based in Southern California. The company voluntarily pulled its products from the shelves when it became apparent the products tested positive for pathogenic bacterial contamination. The bacteria present in these products has the potential not just to result in severe skin rashes, but also in sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition that happens when the body has an overwhelming immune response to a bacterial infection.

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