Injury Law Alert - Winter 2007/2008 Issue
- INTESTINAL DISTRESS
- FINGERPRINT YOUR CHILD
- ACCUTANE VERDICT
- TAKING THE BITE OUT OF AUTO INSURANCE
- SCAFFOLD ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
- TICK, TOCK
- UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED COVERAGE
- WE PREFER YOU TO REFER!
- PRESCRIPTION DRUG SAFETY
- CASE BY CASE
As more and more Americans suffer from obesity, an increasing number of them are having gastric bypass surgery. A gastric bypass is intended to reduce the amount of food ingested by the patient, thereby helping him or her lose weight. Although commonly called "stomach stapling," gastric bypass operations can take a number of forms, including gastric banding, gastroplasty, and laparoscopic gastric bypass.
Because gastric bypass surgery is now covered by many health plans, the number of operations has increased dramatically over the past several years. Unfortunately, with the increase in the number of gastric bypasses performed, more people are suffering from complications caused by the surgery.
Complications range from the common and relatively less serious, such as gallstones, to the less common and far more serious, such as hernias, pneumonia, and blood clots. One potential complication from gastric bypass surgery is when the abdomen is accidentally perforated during the operation, which can cause infections and even death.
Although each case is different, there are some signs that you may have been the victim of malpractice in gastric bypass surgery. Excessive pain while recovering is an indication that the bypass did not go as planned. Serious side effects from a botched procedure include blood clots, embolisms, and kidney problems. If your doctor does not respond to your complaints or does not monitor your recovery, this may also indicate that he knows he made a mistake.
If you or someone you know has undergone an unsuccessful gastric bypass operation, contact us. We will look into the circumstances and help you determine if any malpractice has occurred.
FINGERPRINT YOUR CHILD
A staple of every cop show, the use of fingerprints or DNA evidence to catch criminals is well known. But did you know that there is a move afoot to gather the same information from America's children?
The availability of photographs, fingerprints, and DNA samples can make all the difference in cases where a child has been lost or even kidnapped. To ensure that this information is readily available, the National Child Identification Program has created an ID kit that allows parents to take their own child's fingerprints and even collect their DNA by means of a mouth swab. These kits are available for a small fee from the National Child Identification Program's website (www.childidprogram.com) or through distributions being made by the American Football Coaches Association throughout the country.
Don't wait until it's too late to collect this valuable information.
Accutane, a drug used to treat severe acne, has been prescribed to more than 13 million patients worldwide. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to birth defects, suicide and depression, and inflammatory bowel disease.
A jury recently awarded $2.6 million to a man who claimed Accutane caused his inflammatory bowel disease. The man was prescribed Accutane and took it for four months. Shortly thereafter, he began suffering from inflammatory bowel disease so severe that he had to have his colon removed.
The man argued successfully that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately warn of the serious side effects associated with the drug.
TAKING THE BITE OUT OF AUTO INSURANCE
Even as payments by insurance companies for property damage and injuries shrink, insurance rates continue to rise. However, there are a number of things that the savvy consumer can do to lower his rates and reduce the auto insurance bite.
It Pays to Shop
The most important thing to remember is that auto insurance is a business and, just like any business, insurance companies want you to be their customer. They spend millions of dollars each year on geckos and other advertising, so it pays to shop around. Rates for the same coverage on the same driver in the same car can vary enormously from company to company, and even an hour spent shopping by telephone or over the Internet could end up saving you hundreds of dollars in premiums each year.
Many insurers give discounts if you have more than one kind of insurance with them. For example, if you insure your home and your car with the same insurance company, that may reduce the rate that it charges for both types of coverage. However, be careful: Just because you are getting a discount does not mean that you are necessarily getting the lowest rate.
Tweak Your Coverage
You may also look into changing your coverage. Simply raising your deductible from $500 to $1,000 per accident can save you a lot of money. Also, if you have an old car that is of little value, consider dropping your collision coverage because chances are that, if you are in an accident, the car will be "totaled" and you will receive only a nominal amount.
Not Created Equal
Remember, not all cars cost the same to insure: The hot-rod car will usually cost more than the family sedan. If you are buying a new or used car, ask your insurer about the rates charged for the different vehicles you are considering. If you buy the car that costs the least to cover, you will save money on insurance as long as you own the vehicle.
Also, ask your insurance company about discounts that may be available. Most insurance companies offer discounts for certain equipment that makes cars safer or more difficult to steal (such as car alarms, air bags, and anti-lock brakes) or for certain kinds of drivers that they believe are less likely to have accidents (such as those who drive less than the average, older drivers, and students who get good grades in school). Some insurers will give you an additional discount if you take certain kinds of classes, such as driver's education or alcohol awareness, classes they hope will make you a better, safer driver.
The best advice of all is to BE CAREFUL when you drive. The fewer accidents you have and the fewer tickets you receive, the better your driving record and the lower your insurance rates will be.
SCAFFOLD ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
Construction workers have one of the most dangerous occupations, with thousands of people killed on job sites every year and many more injured. Some of the most common construction accidents involve scaffolds or other types of lifts. These accidents can be very serious and usually result either from falls due to defective scaffolding or from objects plummeting from scaffolding that injure a worker below.
Unfortunately, suits involving injured construction workers are often more difficult to handle than other kinds of injury cases. An injury or death at a construction site involves the acts of many workers employed by different companies, each of whom is pointing at someone else as the party responsible. The question of liability can turn on whether a party is the property owner, the general contractor, the subcontractor, or someone else. Because of these complexities, it is vital to have a construction accident lawyer involved in a construction injury case ASAP.
If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, contact our office and let us go to work for you.
We have all heard that "haste makes waste," but this may not be true when you have been injured. Whether your injury was caused by an animal attack, a car accident, or a defective product, you should contact our firm as soon as possible. One reason for this is that your injury starts the ticking of a legal clock, known as the "statute of limitations."
A statute of limitations is nothing more than a legal rule that limits how long you may wait before bringing a claim against another person. If you do not make your claim before the statute of limitations passes, the law may prevent you from ever doing so.
Statutes of limitations are followed strictly by our courts. If you are even a single day late, your claim may be dismissed-"close enough" does not help with the statute of limitations.
So how long is the statute of limitations for an injury claim? The general answer is that it depends on the facts of the case and the way in which you were injured. CALL US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER AN ACCIDENT OR INJURY so that we can evaluate your case. We'll make sure that the statute of limitations' clock doesn't run out on you.
UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED COVERAGE
Texas law requires drivers to have automobile liability insurance, which is the insurance that pays for the other person's expenses if you cause an accident. Minimum liability coverage in Texas is $20,000 per injured person, with up to a maximum of $40,000 for all injured persons in the same accident, and $15,000 for property damage. The shorthand for this coverage is 20/40/15, although minimum coverage requirements will increase to 25/50/25 ($25,000/$50,000/$25,000) on April 1, 2008 and 30/60/30 in 2011.
In theory, every driver on Texas highways is covered by liability insurance to protect other drivers. In reality, some people drive without insurance, or they hit and run, or, even if they have the minimum coverage required by law, it is not enough to cover the other driver's damages. This is where uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage come in.
An uninsured driver is someone who either has no insurance or who hits and runs. An underinsured driver is one who does have liability insurance, but in an amount that is not enough to cover the other driver's damages in a particular situation. For example, a negligent driver might have 20/40/15 minimum coverage but be found liable for $40,000 in damages to you individually. If you have underinsured coverage, it would pay the $20,000 difference.
Texas law gives you the opportunity to buy insurance coverage to protect yourself against both uninsured and underinsured motorists. This coverage is optional, but your insurer must offer you the opportunity to purchase it, and your refusal to purchase it must be in writing. This coverage protects you, your family members, passengers in your vehicle, and anybody driving your vehicle with your permission. It pays your medical and funeral expenses, car repairs, car rental, the replacement of damaged contents, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and permanent or partial disability up to the dollar limits that you have purchased.
You can buy uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in the minimum amount or in a larger amount up to the dollar limits of your liability policy. If you are not sure what choice you made when you were offered the opportunity to buy this coverage, talk to your insurance agent.
Your liability coverage protects you from having to pay damages to someone if you cause an accident. Your liability policy will not pay your expenses resulting from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Uninsured motorists often have few assets, and you could face significant financial hardship if you do not have this coverage and you are injured by such a driver.
Even if the other driver has liability insurance, it may be only the minimum amount, and this coverage can quickly be exhausted. Medical care is expensive. The replacement cost of even a single vehicle easily can be $30,000 or more. Your underinsured coverage kicks in to pick up all or part of the difference once the other person's liability limits are exhausted.
Purchase at least the minimum amount of both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If possible, have as much uninsured and underinsured coverage as you have liability coverage. This may be your only protection against uninsured and underinsured motorists.
WE PREFER YOU TO REFER!
The period of time following an accident is one of confusion and uncertainty. There are many things to take care of. Hiring a good Lewisville personal injury lawyer is one of them.
Many times, people don't know where to go when they need legal help. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call us. We will vigorously represent you and make sure that you are justly compensated for your injuries. That's our job.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG SAFETY
Although our doctors and our pharmacists make every effort to ensure that the drugs we are prescribed are safe, some basic information will help you to help them keep you safe.
Inform Your Doctor
When you go to the doctor, make sure that he knows all of the medicines you are taking, whether prescription medicines or over-the-counter medicines. The number one medical problem associated with prescriptions is adverse drug interactions, and knowing the drugs you take can help the doctor prescribe the appropriate medicine.
Make certain that the medicine you get from the pharmacist matches what the doctor prescribed. The handwriting of doctors is often hard to read, and mistakes can happen. Determine the medicine that the doctor prescribed, and then make sure that you are, in fact, given that medicine. If the prescription names do not match, ask questions.
Ask how many times each day to take each pill, whether it should be taken with meals or between meals, and so on, and make sure that you understand the instructions before leaving the pharmacy. If you look at many prescription labels, you will see that doctors and pharmacists often use old-fashioned Latin abbreviations in their directions and, unless you happen to know that "p.r.n." is an abbreviation meaning "take as needed" or that "b.i.d." means "take twice each day," it is easy to become confused.
Keep your medicines away from children (child-proof caps are a good idea), and keep track of the medicines you have been given. If you are taking multiple medications, a chart or a "day-by-day" pill box might be useful to ensure that you take the pills only as often as you are supposed to. DO NOT ignore the directions for use-take medicines exactly as prescribed, no more and no less. If you believe that the medication is not working as it is supposed to, call the prescribing doctor.
Finally, if you feel that you are having an adverse or abnormal reaction to a medicine that you are taking, call your doctor or an ambulance, depending on the severity of the symptoms. There are so many medicines available today, all of which interact with one another and all of which affect different people in different ways, that an adverse or abnormal reaction may be the first sign of a serious medical problem.
DISABILITY AND REASONABLE ACCOMODATIONS
Asthmatic Wins Disability Suit
If you are disabled, the law may require your employer to make "reasonable accommodations" for your disability, accommodations that allow you to continue to do your job. A recent case from Texas demonstrates that the definition of a "disability" can be broader than you might think.
The case involved a woman who worked in a prison as a drug counselor. The woman suffered from asthma so severe that an asthma attack made her turn blue for lack of oxygen and could send her to the hospital.
The prison began to use air fresheners that triggered the employee's asthma attacks, but, once the prison realized that the air fresheners were causing the asthma attacks, they were removed. However, the prison then installed automatic air fresheners and refused to remove them despite the employee's protests. The prison then compounded its error when it refused to allow her to come to work unless she provided a signed assurance from her doctor that the air fresheners would not affect her and, when such assurance was not forthcoming, she was fired.
At trial, the jury found that the woman's asthma was so severe that it constituted a disability, and it went on to find that the prison failed to make a reasonable accommodation for the woman by removing the air fresheners. The woman was awarded $1.5 million in damages.