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Product Safety Organization Cites Dismal Effectiveness of Children’s Product Recalls

Jan 27, 2017 - Personal Injury by

When the organization, Kids in Danger issued its most recent report on children’s product recalls back in 2015, it was somewhat heartened by the results. While about one-quarter of all products recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) were for children, there was a slight reduction in child injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, the majority of recalled children’s products (nearly 80 percent) remain in consumer hands after recall. Our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys want parents to understand the special challenges of keeping their children safe from dangerous products — and know what to do in the event any product causes injuries. Numbers Alone Add Challenges to Tracking the Safety of Children’s Products Many children’s playrooms seem to be stacked floor to ceiling with toys. Add strollers, cribs, car seats and countless other must-have products to the mix, and it would take a full-time analyst just to keep track of where each item is, much less whether they are all safe. Parents who dutifully register bigger ticket items have an advantage because manufacturers will notify them in the event of a safety recall. With some effort, parents can go further to protect their children, as follows: Sign up for recall lists: While the CPSC provides the most official recall information, child-dedicated sites like Safe Kids Worldwide allows parents to sign up for the most recent product alerts focused specifically on children. Inspect all products carefully: Before putting new toys or other products in the hands of children, parents should perform quality tests. […]

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Apps Can Convert Smart Phones Into Distracted Driving Preventers

Jan 13, 2017 - Car Accidents by

It is no secret that the use of cell phones while driving significantly increased car accident rates across the U.S. That impact increased sharply when smart phones brought everything from text messages to full Internet access behind the wheel of moving vehicles. Until recently, each Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer at our firm believed that powered-off smart phones are the only safe phones to have in moving vehicles. However, the development of apps that focus on driving safety can help reduce the inherent risks. No Need to Power Off When Phones Can Be Smarter According to Consumer Reports, a number of cell phone companies now offer free apps that help drivers automatically avoid texting while driving with these features: Automatic activation: Most apps activate automatically when vehicles reach a specified speed. However, some apps must be turned on by the user before driving. Disabled texting: Drivers cannot send or receive text messages as long as any of the apps are activated. Auto responders sent for incoming text messages: Some of the apps automatically respond to incoming text messages to notify senders that they must wait for a response until drivers reach their destination. This feature is particularly helpful for stopping texters who send more and more messages when they do not receive an immediate response Monitoring of young drivers: Some apps allow parents to monitor the driving and texting activities of their children. Certain apps even assign points for safe-driving behavior, which parents can use to provide positive incentives for avoiding […]

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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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Senate Initiates an Inquiry Into the Practice of Overlapping Surgeries

Nov 25, 2016 - Personal Injury by

Few things are more impressive than watching a surgeon run between multiple surgical arenas and save many lives at once on television medical dramas. Surprisingly, this practice is not necessarily fiction. Known as concurrent or double-booked surgeries, the practice probably threatens successful surgical outcomes more easily than it saves lives. In March 2016, the Boston Globe reported that Senator Orrin Hatch initiated an investigation into this practice, specifically related to one hospital, but then extending to other hospitals. Concurrent surgeries are a relatively common practice across the U.S., particularly in the area of orthopedics. In some cases it is permitted to a limited degree, but surgical patients need to be aware of it and know how to help protect themselves. Key Points About Concurrent Surgeries It is not uncommon for surgeons to move from one surgical procedure to the next, leaving the final steps to other members of the surgical team. In fact, even Medicare views the practice as acceptable, as long as surgeons are present for critical or key portions of the surgery. Unfortunately, the investigation uncovered unacceptable practices, such as the following: Patients left under anesthesia, waiting for the surgeon to arrive from another procedure Key portions of procedures performed by unsupervised medical residents Surgical procedures rushed due to double-booking Surgeons who fail to respond to urgent situations in one of two booked surgeries Surgeons performing concurrent surgeries at different facilities miles apart Patients who are not informed that their procedures are scheduled concurrently with other patients It […]

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Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney Warns of Playground Concussion Dangers

Nov 18, 2016 - Personal Injury by

The potential long-term risk from concussion injuries from football and other sports is no longer news. The media has done an impressive job of reporting how concussions can lead to serious limitations later in life, particularly when victims return to play without permitting proper healing time. Unfortunately, parents may not realize that concussion risks extend well beyond sports playing fields. A recent NBC article has alerted the public that playground concussions are on the rise. They report that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that accidents on playground monkey bars and swings are sending children to emergency rooms at an increasing rate with brain injuries. Precautionary Measures Can Help Reduce the Risks of Playground Accidents Few parents would send their children out to the homes of friends without knowing that the people and home are safe. Playgrounds may be designed for children, but parents need to perform due diligence to ensure that any facility is appropriate for their children. The following tips may not absolutely eliminate the chance of injury, but they can help reduce the risks: Become familiar with each playground. Do not assume that all playgrounds are equal in terms of safety. Before allowing children to use a specific playground, parents need to check for safe conditions, such as soft surfaces and equipment in good repair. Assess equipment based on the child’s age. The National Program for Playground Safety offers tips for assessing equipment based on the size and ability of children. Playgrounds can be important tools […]

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Obtaining Certain Treatment for Workplace Injuries May Require Pre-Approval

Oct 31, 2016 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

As a general rule, any employee who sustains a workplace injury in Alabama expects to seek immediate treatment under workers’ compensation. However, the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Administrative Code requires pre-certification in certain relatively-common situations. These requirements can leave injured workers facing significant out-of-pocket expenses. Still, the rules can be open to a certain degree of interpretation. It helps to become familiar with the pre-certification process that can occur between medical providers and individuals representing the details of claims. Most importantly, injured employees should seek advice from an experienced Tuscaloosa workplace injury lawyer before assuming that they are responsible for personally paying the expenses. How Pre-Certification Works Meeting pre-certification requirements is the responsibility of medical providers — not injured employees. Once providers determine that emergency conditions do not apply, the Code requires that they apply for certification before rendering certain medical services, such as (but certainly not limited to) the following: Inpatient admission of any type Elective procedures, including ambulatory or outpatient surgery Outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy Chiropractic services Medical management services requested by the employer The list extends to ambulance services and any number of pain management procedures, durable medical equipment other than items such as braces and splints and items that require reimbursements of $500 or more. Even procedures that injury victims assume to be necessary — such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scans that are commonly used diagnostic procedures — can be subject to denial in many cases. Denial […]

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Sleep Apnea in Truckers Places Motorists at Risk

Oct 21, 2016 - Truck Accidents by

Many drivers have nodded off for a split second behind the wheel. This experience is as terrifying as having no memory of driving the last 5 or 10 miles. Drowsy drivers take real risks with their own lives and those of others. Place the drowsy driver in control of a massive tractor trailer truck, and the risks increase dramatically. Each Tuscaloosa truck wreck lawyer at our firm is pleased that hours of service laws help ensure that truckers take the time for the rest they need. Unfortunately, the right number of hours of sleep does not necessarily create enough rest when medical conditions affect the quality of sleep. One Study Shows Sleep Apnea to Be a Notable Issue for Truckers Simply stated, sleep apnea is a breathing-related disorder that interrupts breathing during sleep. In its extreme forms, this condition can be life-threatening. Since just about any level of severity can interrupt restful sleep, however, it leaves many individuals drowsy even after they believe they had a good night’s sleep. An article published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cites one study that states that 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. The article goes on to list a wide array of factors that places individuals at higher risk for this disorder, including (but not limited to) the following: A family history of sleep apnea Overweight Certain physical attributes, such as a large neck, recessed chin and others Smoking and alcohol use Age over 40 […]

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Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

"After my husband was injured in a burn accident at work, we felt the accident could have been avoided. I was not sure where to start, but after careful research, we met with Justin Smith and shared our experience. From day one, we felt we were in good hands. Justin and Dell explained everything and kept us informed from start to finish. It was a complicated case that took an outside the box approach. Both Justin and Dell made us feel like part of the team."