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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Senate Report: Ineffective Medical Device Monitoring Puts Patients at Risk

Dec 30, 2016 - Personal Injury by

Doctors use duodenoscopes to perform valuable diagnostics that can be vital to patients. However, these devices are known to have significant risks of infection, even after they have undergone recommended cleaning procedures. Earlier in 2016, the U.S. Senate issued a Minority Staff Report that expressed significant concerns about known links between duodenoscopes and increasing cases of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriacea (CRE). Since CRE is also known as a superbug that does not respond well to most antibiotic treatments, patients need to understand the risks. In this case, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Much of the Failure Points to Lapses in Communication The direct cause of the CRE infections is linked to difficulty in fully cleaning duodenoscopes. Even though manufacturers issued detailed cleaning instructions that were followed by medical providers, it appeared that those instructions did not fully remove the CRE-causing bacteria. Still, the direct cause of infection was far from the only problem. Even as medical providers, device manufacturers and even the federal government became aware of potential issues, a series of communication errors like the following seems to have prevented a timely effected response: At least 16 hospitals that had traced the infections to duodenoscopes did not notify federal regulators or send the required notification to the device manufacturers. Hospitals that did report events to manufacturers did not issue reports quickly, and they issued informal phone or email reports that did not include the information needed by the manufacturers to submit accurate reports for the […]

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Achieving Maximum Value in Personal Injury Cases (Part III): Damages

Dec 26, 2016 - Personal Injury by

Obviously, the nature and extent of damages play a central role in obtaining the maximum value in personal injury cases. It is incumbent upon us as lawyers for the injured client to employ the most effective ways to present the injuries and damages. We find that by doing certain things in the work up of the damages part of the case the value is greatly enhanced. As a preliminary matter, we make certain that we have copies of every medical record and medical expense involved in the client’s course of treatment. We also request copies of all prior medical records for at least five years before the injury occurred. That way, we are prepared to address the presence or absence of any pre-existing injuries or conditions. Our staff does an excellent job of collecting this information and making summaries of the medical treatments and records. In addition to photographs that depict the injuries at various stages of the client’s recovery, we often order specially prepared medical illustrations that depict the internal damage resulting from a personal injury. The medical illustrations are prepared from the client’s medical records, x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc. by Medical Legal Art in Kennesaw, Georgia. They are expensive, but can be very compelling evidence of serious internal injuries and surgeries. It is important to document past and future lost income as an item of special damages. We have a form letter that we mail to the client’s employer for completion so that total time and income […]

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Achieving Maximum Value in Personal Injury Cases (Part II): Jurisdiction and Discovery

Dec 23, 2016 - Personal Injury by

Selection of jurisdiction and venue is one of the most important factors in the value of any case. The jury venire, rules of court, and judges are all considerations. We typically prefer state court, but sometimes choose to file the case in federal court if there is diversity of jurisdiction. We often do so because the state venue may be more conservative. For instance, the Western Division of the Northern District is made up of at least three counties that are historically far more liberal than Tuscaloosa County (Greene, Pickens and Sumter). The jury venire is drawn from the Western Division, which includes these three counties. An additional factor involves expert testimony. Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, expert witnesses are permitted to give opinions as to the ultimate issue in the case. We handle a number of cases in Mississippi. My law partner, Justin Smith, is licensed to practice in Mississippi. Occasionally, we have cases that allow us to choose between the two states. In those instances, we compare and contrast the available venues in both states and consider any evidence of negligence on the part of our client. Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state while Alabama has maintained contributory negligence as a defense. We believe it is imperative to explore all options regarding venue in state court. For better or worse, the county where the case is filed will play a significant role in the evaluation by both plaintiff and defendant. We owe it to our clients […]

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Achieving Maximum Value in Personal Injury Cases: A Three-Part Series

Dec 19, 2016 - Personal Injury by

In every personal injury case, the goal should always be to achieve the maximum value available based on the applicable liability and damages. Personal injury claims involve both special and general compensatory damages and punitive damages in cases involving wantonness. There are numerous factors to be considered in evaluating a personal injury case, including the basis for fault, whether negligence or wantonness, the type of injuries and medical treatment, the amount of special damages, especially medical expenses and lost income, availability of collateral source payments, the extent of permanent injury and disfigurement, jurisdiction and venue, whether the defendant is an individual or corporate entity, and the appearance and demeanor of plaintiff and defendant. The preparation and handling of personal injury cases encompasses all of these factors, but we have found that certain activities and factors play a large role in achieving the maximum value. Although certainly not an exhaustive list, the following considerations are ones that we believe and have found to be particularly important. Investigation An investigation conducted before and after suit is filed often yields information that can greatly increase the value of a case. The information can be gathered from several different sources. As an initial matter, we routinely research Alacourt, Accurint, Motor Vehicle Reports, and Pacer to obtain information regarding the prior history of defendants and/or employees of defendants. Information regarding residency, employment history, criminal records, civil lawsuits, driving records and bankruptcy filings are available from these sources. The information derived from these sources often leads […]

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