Yearly Archives 2012

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Making Sense of Medical Malpractice

Here in Texas, there is a constant stream of news regarding medical malpractice. The fact is that medical malpractice is a real thing and, unfortunately, it’s also a fact that there is a lot of information out there that is designed to make you feel guilty or like you’re running a scam if you sue a doctor for malpractice. The following information may help you to sort through it all and to understand your rights if a doctor breeches their duty to you.

The News

Texas has caps on medical malpractice. This is a very political issue and, outside of the dichotomy that the media likes to hammer on, there are many interests involved in this law. Take a look at the news and you’ll see conflicting information being pumped out all over. Some stories say the caps have done nothing and other stories say it has made Texas safe for doctors again.

Make sure you keep in mind that suing a doctor for malpractice is sometimes the only way that the victims of the doctors and their families are ever going to get enough money to pay for the fallout. There are a lot of stories about people abusing the system. There are also many cases, both in the past an ongoing, where people were given the wrong operation, the wrong medication, where a deadly condition was missed because of negligent diagnoses and where patients were otherwise wronged.

If you were the victim of malpractice, you need to talk to a lawyer, not to political operatives, media pundits or advocates for any type of law. You need someone to represent your interests, not someone who represents insurance companies or doctors who would rather that they have the safety of knowing that even the most egregious acts of malpractice aren’t going to get them in enough trouble for them to really worry about it.

Why Attorneys Matter

When you’re the victim of malpractice, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. You may be dismissed outright by the doctor or medical facility responsible or you might be offered a settlement, which amounts to money that’s basically given so that you’ll be quiet and go away. The attorneys for the healthcare provider’s insurance company can make you feel like you’ll never get any more money than they’re offering; it’s their job.

A Houston medical malpractice attorney will represent you and only you. If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, don’t go it alone, don’t take a settlement without consulting an attorney and don’t feel guilty. The only ones who should feel guilty are the doctor or healthcare facility who wronged you.

 

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Avoiding Drunk Driver Wrecks

College is back in session, the nights are longer and you’ll find that the roads on weekend nights are oftentimes full of people who have had a few too many to be behind the wheel. It’s easy to rage against the dangers of drunk driving and the people who drive drunk themselves, but it’s more important that you have the types of driving survival skills that will help you to avoid being injured or worse by these drivers. For personal injury attorneys, far too many of their drunken driving claims involve a wrongful death. Here are some survival tips.

Don’t Get In

If you have a friend or someone else you’re with who is too drunk to be driving, do not get into the car with them. There are all kinds of videos that show people dissuading their friends from drunk driving-even some showing them punching the driver out, which is assault, no matter how noble the intentions-but, sometimes, the only thing you can do is not get into the car. There’s always an uncomfortable choice that someone has to make when their friend gets behind the wheel drunk. It does feel awful to call a friend in but, remember, your friend may well kill someone if they’re out there driving while intoxicated.

Watch for the Signs

Drunk drivers tend to make some very characteristic mistakes when they’re on the road. Their driving also tends to be sloppy in a very distinctive way. Be wary if you see a car doing any of the following:

· Swerving across lanes
· Making jerky, high-speed turns
· Braking or slowing in the road for no apparent reason
· Running stoplights or lingering at green lights
· Making sudden stops and suddenly taking off
· Driving out of a drinking establishment parking lot sloppily

These are the types of things that make patrol officers turn on their lights and pull a car over. Watch out for them and stay well clear of drivers who are showing these signs of intoxication. You cannot predict what they’re going to do, so it’s best to treat them as threats right from the start. You’ll also want to be careful around taverns and other drinking establishments that have parking lots that exit onto busy streets. Drunk drivers do not estimate speed, distance or judge whether they have enough time to get out into traffic very well.

If you’re injured by a drunk driver or if you lose a loved one due to their negligence, contact an attorney. They may be able to help you by filing a lawsuit against that driver and winning you compensation. That compensation may be enough to cover your medical and property loss expenses and consulting with an attorney is usually free.

 

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Lawsuit Filed over Colorado Theater Shooting

Cinemark USA, headquartered in Plano, Texas, has been named in a lawsuit filed by some of the victims of the July 20, 2012 shootings that took place at one of their theaters in Aurora, Colorado. These shootings were big news, with 12 people having lost their lives and 58 other people having been injured by a shooter who managed to get into the theater with weaponry. The shooting took place during what was slated to be the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie.

Cinemark has requested that the lawsuit be dismissed and that it would be unfair for the company to have been expected to have foreseen the shooting. While this particular case is obviously going to be a high-profile one due to the circumstances and the already infamous shootings, it does speak to the question of a premise owner’s liability when they do not provide adequate security in certain situations.

Dangerous Places

Most of the time, if you read about premise liability lawsuits, they have to do with things like slip and fall injuries on dangerous flooring, people being injured by products left out in the middle of a high-traffic area and so forth. Security, however, is another area where premise owners are sometimes held liable for injuries and deaths that are suffered at their establishment.

One example of this that has happened many times involves concerts. There have been concerts where people have been trampled to death due to crowds getting out of hand and where people have been burned to death due to pyrotechnics misfiring and creating fire hazards.

Some establishments have a need for security that should be obvious to any reasonable person. For example, bars typically have bouncers because it is a given that some people are going to become violent or aggressive after having had too much to drink and, therefore, the bar provides for its patron’s safety by having qualified security people on hand to deal with the situation.

Premise liability lawsuits can be very complex and require a good lawyer to argue successfully. There are certain situations where you will want to consider speaking to an attorney about filing such a lawsuit in cases where the premise owner’s liability is not as obvious as it would be if you had slipped and fell on their floor and injured yourself.

Talking to an Attorney

A qualified personal injury attorney is the only person who can really give you advice on whether or not you should file a lawsuit for premise liability. If you were injured or somebody in your family died, however, because a property owner was negligent in providing adequate security for an event, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

 

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Another Change to Texas Medical Malpractice Law

The Texas Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision decided that workplace injuries for hospital workers, including nurses, should be treated as if they were medical errors. According to News-Journal.com, the decision will have impacts on nurses and other healthcare professionals who are injured on the job.

The Texas Medical Liability Act

The Texas Medical Liability Act limits the compensation that you can receive for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim to $250,000. The stated intention of this law was to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims throughout the state and to make the state more attractive to doctors, as well as to bring healthcare costs down. Since it was passed in 2003, the costs of healthcare have gone up and there has been no influx of doctors to Texas. The latest move extends this limitation to employees who want to sue for compensation for workplace injuries sustained at a hospital.

Under the law, an injured nurse or healthcare worker can only seek compensation from a hospital employer under the same restrictions that apply to the Texas Medical Liability Act. This applies if the healthcare facility hasn’t provided workers compensation insurance, as well. The limitations could make it difficult for employees who were injured to get enough compensation to help them carry their bills and other obligations while they recover.

Should You Sue?

The limitations in the Texas Medical Liability Act are not difficult to understand in terms of their purpose. The intent of the law is to make it less productive to sue over medical malpractice claims and, now, nurses who are injured on the job will be restricted by the same law. If you are injured, however, don’t give up.

The limitations on damages still leave room for a skilled attorney to get just compensation for what you’ve suffered if medical malpractice or workplace injuries were issues. Don’t let the law discourage you from talking to an attorney. A good Houston personal injury attorney may see an opportunity for you to get compensated and that may mean a lot of valuable assistance handling your bills and other obligations.

Malpractice law is designed to make doctors accountable for the treatment that they deliver to their patients. When that treatment is negligent, the law provides a way for people to seek compensation. There is a lot of talk about the damage that medical malpractice claims do to the healthcare system but far less talk about how much damage the healthcare system does to everyday people.

Make sure you talk to an attorney if you have questions. They can give you the information you’ll need on any laws that apply to your lawsuit and can let you know what your options are and which of them would be most productive.

 

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Low Speed Crash Causes Mayhem

The car crashes people dread are those that happen at high speeds, but a story from FOX in San Antonio reveals that you don’t have to be going fast to do real damage. According to the report, a 30mph crash resulted in $30,000 of damage to a home and two totaled cars.

The crash occurred on the northeast side of San Antonio. The driver of the vehicle that caused the crash ran a stop sign and slammed into a vehicle. The vehicle kept on going and slammed into a house. No one was injured in the home, but the three people in the vehicles were taken to the hospital, according to the report.

At Any Speed

Vehicles that are moving at low speeds are still very dangerous. The energy of a crash is partially determined by mass and, even at a slow speed, the tremendous mass of a motor vehicle makes it deadly. While no one was killed in the crash in San Antonio, cars travelling at low speed routinely cause death and destruction. In fact, even a car travelling at what seems a snail’s pace can be deadly.

In school zones, the 15mph speed limit may seem excessively slow, but a car going that fast can easily kill an adult, much less a child. The lowered speed does not make it safe to get hit by a car, but it makes it much easier for the driver to brake in time to avoid a disaster, which is the entire point. When drivers are negligent and do not follow speed limits, when they run stop signs and when they otherwise drive in an unreasonable way, there are recourses.

Civil vs. Criminal

In cases where there is negligent driving involved, there are sometimes criminal charges filed against the offending driver. This does nothing, however, for the people who were injured or who had their property destroyed by the negligent driver. That is where lawsuits come into play and they are sometimes the only realistic ways that people get compensated for their injuries.

Finding Help

Whether you’ve been injured or had your property destroyed by someone going 30mph or faster than 60mph, contacting an attorney is advisable. The attorney may be able to determine where negligence played a part in the wreck and, if it did, you may end up being able to file a successful lawsuit. Talking to an attorney right away after the wreck is highly advisable as there are limitations to consider.

Remember that someone facing criminal charges does not impact your ability to sue them. The criminal case will be a separate matter. A good Houston car accident lawyer may be able to help you get compensated for what you’ve been put through.

 

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Negligent Physicians not Being Sanctioned: Report

Public Citizen, a citizen advocacy organization, has conducted a study revealing that 459 physicians working in Texas who have been sanctioned by hospitals and other healthcare providers have not been disciplined by the state medical board. According to a report in KXAN, a letter was sent to Governor Rick Perry detailing the results of the finding. The study was conducted by analyzing 21 years of data collected in the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Not Following Standards

The report details that the state medical board does not receive all of the funding generated by fees and fines. In fact, according to the report, even though $30 million are collected annually, the board only receives one third of that amount.

The report also details that there are open cases that date back as far as 2005. In total, the report found that 454 cases had been open for one year or more. The KXAN report goes on to detail that some of the disciplinary actions taken by healthcare facilities were for rather egregious infractions. They include sexual misconduct, endangering the lives of patients, negligence, drug abuse and alcohol abuse and insurance fraud, among other infractions.

Some of the malpractice claims that these physicians faced included failure to treat, failure to diagnose, performing unnecessary procedures and even wrongful death. With the state authority charged with overseeing doctors receiving only a third of the funding that it collects, many of these cases remain open and unresolved. Of course, that also means that any disciplinary actions that the state could take against these physicians are not being taken and that they may well continue to represent a threat to their patients.

Medical Malpractice

Fixing a broken regulatory system is a political task, but medical malpractice is a legal issue. Whenever a physician takes you on as a patient, they have an obligation to provide you with competent care, accurate diagnosis and to adhere to certain ethical guidelines. When they do not, one of your options for rectifying the situation is seeking compensation via a lawsuit. Texas does have limitations on how much you can be awarded in a medical malpractice claim, but a skillful Houston medical malpractice attorney can ensure that you maximize your chances of winning your claim.

Filing a Claim

The first step in filing a medical malpractice claim is speaking with an attorney. If you’re not sure whether or not you do have a viable claim, an attorney can give you guidance in this matter. Because most medical malpractice attorneys work on contingency, they’ll have no interest in taking a claim that they don’t think is going to win. If they take your claim, you can be certain that they believe it is valid and that it could win in front of a jury.

 

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Houston Car Crashes Kill Two Well-Known Figures

A singer and a lighting designer were both among the fatalities that resulted from two separate car wrecks in Houston this month. Laura Botkin, a singer, died after being struck by a vehicle heading the wrong way. The accident occurred when she was on her way back from the Grand Canyon. According to a report on Chron.com, the singer was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. She was ejected from the car and killed.

Jeremy Choate, a lighting designer, was killed in a motorcycle accident on a service road near I-10. The 33 year-old artist was on his way to a cast party at the time of the wreck.

Police are investigating to see if alcohol was a factor in the accident that killed Botkin. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle had a warrant out for a previous DWI, according to the report on Chron.

Wrong-Way Accidents

Wrong-way accidents have been frighteningly common over the last few months. Drivers who mistakenly enter a freeway heading the wrong way can cause devastating damage to the cars they strike, oftentimes killing the driver or passengers. These accidents oftentimes do involve alcohol and the driver of the offending vehicle sometimes may have never made the mistake if they were not intoxicated.

Motorcycle Accidents

The wreck that killed Choate was a hit and run. These crashes are among the most frustrating because the driver who caused the accident sometimes ends up getting away with it for a time. Quite often, however, police are able to piece together evidence that allows them to determine who the hit-and-run driver was and to go after them for criminal charges.

Common Accidents and Options

If you’re involved in one of these types of accidents, you do have options. You can contact an attorney to discuss whether or not filing a lawsuit would be to your benefit.

Lawsuits over car crashes are filed due to the negligence of the driver that caused the accident. When that other driver was negligent and, because of that, brought you to harm, you can sometimes seek a jury award or a settlement through a lawsuit. Not every driver involved in such a crash, however, will have this option.

Talk to an Attorney

If you want to know whether or not it would be worth it to go ahead and file a lawsuit, the first step is consulting with a Houston accident attorney. They’ll be able to review the circumstances of your crash and help to determine whether or not the other driver involved was likely negligent. If they believe that driver was negligent, they can start putting together a case to establish as much to a jury and this may win you compensation.

 

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Pfizer Loses Fen-Phen Dismissal Move

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was unsuccessful in getting claims dismissed over fen-phen, a diet drug that has been the subject of numerous lawsuits. The company acquired the original manufacturer, Wyeth, in 2009 and sought to get lawsuits over the side effects of the drug thrown out. Specifically, it was trying to get lawsuits alleging that the lethal side effects of this drug could be experienced many years after usage had stopped.

Fen-Phen

A popular diet drug up until its 1997 recall, fen-phen was found to have potentially fatal side effects. The drug is linked to primary pulmonary hypertension and, according to some lawsuits, that condition can result from usage of this drug more than a decade after a patient has discontinued using it. At its peak, there were more than 6 million prescriptions written for fen-phen. In the year since it was recalled, fen-phen has been the subject of of nearly 200,000 lawsuits.

The Side Effects

The lawsuits filed over fen-phen alleged that the drug had side effects that were deliberately hidden by the manufacturer so that they could continue making profits on the drug. Since the drug was recalled from the market, however, fen-phen has cost the manufacturer a great deal of money. Some of the largest jury awards and settlements have taken place in Texas.

In a lawsuit over the wrongful death of a woman who was using fen-phen, a Texas jury ended up awarding her surviving family $900 million in punitive damages and $113 million in compensatory damages. To deal with the lawsuits that they were certain they were going to face, the original manufacturer of the drug had put aside $21 billion, according to reports.

Suing a Pharma Company

Pfizer and other large pharmaceutical companies, as you can see from the $21 billion figure, have plenty of money to protect themselves in court. In cases where you know you’re going to be up against such a huge company in a lawsuit, it’s easy to be cynical and think that you would never be able to win when a company can put up that kind of money. The fact of the matter is, however, that the law is on the side of a person who was wronged by a company that was irresponsible and people routinely win lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies when it can be established that those pharmaceutical companies deliberately and cynically endangered their customer’s lives.

If you believe that you were injured by a pharmaceutical company, whether it was from using fen-phen or any other drug, make certain that you contact a Texas personal injury attorney. They will be willing to sit down with you for a free consultation about whether or not filing a lawsuit is a good option for you.

 

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It’s Fair Season; Be Careful

Late summer and early autumn mean that county fairs will be popping up all over Texas. With those fairs, of course, come plenty of thrilling rides where children test their ability to endure frightening roller coasters and other amusements and where adults see if the intervening years between the present and their childhood have given them stronger stomachs. Before you get on one of these rides, however, realize that they can be dangerous and that there have been cases of people being grievously injured and killed on amusement park rides.

Avoiding Negligence

If you or a family member has come to any harm on an amusement park ride, a Houston personal injury attorney may be able to help you. Any Houston personal injury attorney, however, would very much prefer that you exercise a bit of common sense and that you are aware of any risks that you’re taking when you get on these rides. Your children may be a little bit disappointed by you putting safety before a momentary thrill on an amusement park ride, but make sure you do take the following into account.

Be wary of ride operators who let children slide when the safety guidelines for the ride demand that they be taller or bigger than they currently are. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, a three-year-old ended up losing his life after a safety restraint failed to keep him in his seat. In this particular case, the family did receive a settlement, but the amusement park continues to operate.

When you’re taking a look at a ride, take note of how safe it appears. You may not possess the type of engineering skills that are required to design and maintain an amusement park ride, but you should follow your instincts in this matter. If it seems like the ride isn’t stable, like it hasn’t been well maintained or the people operating the ride have very little regard for the people getting on it, you may just want to skip it and find something else amusing for your family to do at the fair.

If you do take a ride, make sure you instruct your children to stay seated or positioned however else is recommended by the ride operator throughout the entire ride. People have fallen off of rides before and ended up losing their lives. There are cases where this is not the fault of the ride operator, but is, instead, the fault of somebody who did not follow the safety guidelines. Make certain that you do and make certain that your children do.

If an irresponsible ride operator ends up causing you or someone in your family injury, make certain that you talk to a personal injury attorney about the matter. The operator may well owe you compensation.

 

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Houston Police Strike Pickup

A Houston police vehicle slammed into a pickup at the intersection of Bissonnet and Beechnut on August 19. According to Chron.com, the accident occurred when the driver of the police vehicle was on his way to a chase at around 1am.

The driver of the pickup will not be ticketed and no one was hurt in the accident. The truck was t-boned in the intersection. According to the report, the police officer did have his sirens and his lights on but the driver of the truck could not stop before entering the intersection.

Crashes with Municipal Vehicles

Drivers sometimes end up getting hurt or killed due to the actions of the drivers of emergency vehicles. Obviously, it’s not uncommon for emergency vehicle drivers to have to drive very fast in areas where the speed limits are much lower. Even though they do have reasons for doing this, you may be able to get compensated for the damages they caused.

Settlements

Sometimes, cities will be fair and offer a settlement amount that takes care of the damages that they caused to people’s property. If a police officer smashes into your vehicle and destroys it, for example, the municipality may simply offer to total out the vehicle for you and to pay you back. This isn’t always the case, however.

When to Sue

You need to talk to an attorney if you’re interested in going after a municipality because of damage that they caused to your property or because of medical expenses that you suffered due to a crash that they caused. There are cases where the municipality won’t offer anything or where they won’t offer enough to actually cover the damages that they caused. In such cases, it’s a good idea to at least consult with an attorney to see what your options are.

If it was a non-emergency vehicle that struck you, you may be able to sue, as well. Accidents involving city buses and other heavy, municipal vehicles can destroy a car in less than a second. In some cases, these accidents may involve serious injuries or even deaths and that means that you need to talk to an attorney about getting compensated. Which part of the city you go after for damages may vary depending upon the department responsible for the vehicle that struck you but, overall, there is usually a way that an attorney can seek compensation for you.

Talk to an attorney and let them know what happened. Even if the wreck didn’t cause injuries, you should be able to get compensated for your financial and property losses as a result of the crash. If an emergency or non-emergency vehicle struck you, be sure to talk to a lawyer about it.

 

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