Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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ferris-wheel-SmallEach year, people across the country attend festivals and state fairs, many of which are held at local amusement parks. Patrons enjoy live music, food, and rides like Ferris wheels and roller coasters, and organizers consistently look for new ways to top the previous year’s event in terms of attractions, promotions, and entertainment. While these events are advertised as safe and family-friendly, troubling numbers continue to arise. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPC), nearly 31,000 people were injured by amusement park attractions (such as rides) in 2016 alone.

Injuries at fairs and festivals can be caused by a number of reasons. Ride malfunctions are a common source of injury. In August 2017, a ride malfunctioned at the Wilson County (TN) fair, leaving eight people stranded in mid-air. In July 2017, an 18-year old died at the Ohio State Fair due to the Fire Ball ride malfunctioning. In 2016, 14 people were reported to have suffered injuries at the Delta Fair & Music Festival in Memphis due to a problem with the Moonraker ride. While the ride was in use, the ride’s computer detected a problem and began its shutdown procedure. Meanwhile, the ride’s operator tried to stop the ride, releasing the safety restraint prematurely. The result was a halted ride with customers falling and dangling in mid-air. Eight people were taken to the hospital.

Fairs also bring the potential for chaos and fights. For example, parents may be inclined to drop off their kids for the day or night, leaving them unsupervised. In addition, patrons under the influence of alcohol could cause problems with other guests. As such, festivals must provide proper security measures to maintain peace and order. The festival or fair should also create a risk management plan and put the pieces in place to properly execute it.

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Post-Accident-Car-Large-SmallBeing involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Whether you are sitting still at a red light and get rear-ended, riding on a bus that crashes into another car, or clipped by a car while riding a bicycle, the potential for immediate pain is always there. Many car accident victims in Tennessee require medical assistance at the scene of the crash before being transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance. Severely injured victims may be airlifted. Others will try to deal with the pain on their own before choosing to seek treatment within the next few days. This will likely leave you wondering what exactly you may be entitled to under the law.

An accident can place a victim in a bind. With the cost of medical treatment in the United States continuing to rise, many people simply cannot afford unplanned expenses like these. It becomes even more difficult if the wreck renders the victim unable to work due to constant physical pain. A sudden lack of transportation is another issue altogether. If you were injured in a car accident, you are not alone in wondering about your rights under Tennessee law. Below are elements of damages that may apply to your case:

  • Property damage – If your vehicle was involved in the accident, your vehicle will either be deemed repairable or a total loss. If total loss, the law states you are entitled to fair market value (FMV) at the time of the accident. Other out of pocket expenses can be recovered, such as rental car fees, towing, storage, and damaged personal items.
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ThinkstockPhotos-599896574-SmallA large auto recall is currently underway with General Motors (GM). More than 800,000 trucks are affected across the United States and Canada, including certain 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks. The issue with this recall concerns power steering. These models have been found to suddenly lose power steering with no warning whatsoever to the driver. This is highly dangerous because a sudden loss of power steering could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the loss of power steering can occur when the vehicle is using certain levels of electrical power. This can be triggered when a vehicle is making a turn at low speed, among other actions. When such power steering problems occur, the driver could lose control of the steering wheel. While the power steering could ultimately return within as little as one second, the short period of time without it could result in a car accident if the driver does lose control of the vehicle. This is what has federal auto regulators worried and prompted the recall.

Per NHTSA guidelines, GM is required to notify all vehicle owners affected by this recall. To see if your vehicle is included, you can visit the NHTSA’s website. Some owners of these vehicles are no stranger to recalls, as these trucks were subject to a 2016 recall involving 3.64 million cars with airbag software problems.

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A California man, 35 years old, was awarded $9.8 million by a jury following a product liability trial concerning claims of a defective wheelchair designed and manufactured by Sunrise Medical LLC and later sold and repaired by National Seating and Mobility, Inc. The product at issue was the Quickie Q7 manual wheelchair. In 2014, the victim suffered a puncture wound from an inward-facing bolt on the chair. One month later, he suffered further injury to that area when a screw came loose and he was ejected from the wheelchair. He suffered a nerve injury that doctors advised may never resolve.

The victim sued for defective design, manufacture, failure to warn, and defective repairs. At issue during the 15-day trial was a design change made to the wheelchair back in 2013. The wheelchair manufacturer had received complaints that certain bolts on the wheelchair were backing out. Thus, the product was redesigned in a way that placed those bolts facing inwards. The victim was injured through one of those inward-facing bolts. The trial included proof and testimony from expert witnesses who claimed the bolts were not strong enough to support the average user, making the product unsafe and dangerous. The jury deliberated for two days, and the $9.8 verdict was broken down as follows:

  • $4.8 million in economic damages for a life care plan for the victim
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Driver fatigue is a widespread issue across the country. Research shows that drivers who are fatigued tend to exhibit many of the same side effects as drunk drivers – delayed reaction times, impaired judgment, and lapses in concentration, just to name a few. What has recently come to light is a troubling trend – Uber drivers working dangerously long shifts. According to USA Today, an Uber driver in Utah drove for 20 consecutive hours on at least one occasion last year to take advantage of a sudden spike in the hourly rate he could earn. Situations like this are occurring across the country. Uber drivers in the Seattle area are reported to work in excess of 16 consecutive hours.

As of this time, Uber does not cap the number of consecutive hours that its drivers can work. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits passenger-carrying vehicles to 10 hours of driving following 8 consecutive hours off duty, Uber vehicles do not fall under the definition of passenger-carrying vehicles. Thus, drivers would not be subject to federal hours-of-service guidelines. Lyft, on the other hand, has been reported to shut down its app after a driver has been logged on for 14 hours and will not let that user log back on until 6 hours after that.

According to Uber, only 7% of drivers work in excess of 50 hours per week. Further, Uber claims that it recognizes the dangers of drowsy driving, investigates instances of driver misconduct, and takes appropriate action when necessary.

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ThinkstockPhotos-525489094-MediumThe time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the “100 deadliest days of summer” around the Knoxville area. When the school year ends, more teenagers are out on the road during summer, either enjoying their time off or driving to and from summer jobs. In fact, AAA estimates that fatal teen accidents increase by 15% during the summer months. Leading causes of those wrecks are speeding, distracted driving, and not using seatbelts.

Teen driving is not just an issue in Knox County. Nationwide, motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death for teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data shows that on average, approximately 6 teens between the ages of 16-19 are killed each day as a result of a car accident.  Further, teens in that age range are nearly 3 times as likely to be involved in a fatal wreck than drivers who are 20 years old or older.

When discussing a link between teenage driving and car accidents, the CDC lists eight “danger zones.” They include the following:

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Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are often stereotyped as a lot of things: entitled, sensitive, idealistic. Some people even blame a number of society’s problems squarely on millennials. While many of these perceptions are generally untrue, one fact is concerning: millennial drivers display riskier and more erratic driving behavior than other demographics.

A study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) presented evidence that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 display far more risky driving behavior than adults and senior citizens. The study found that roughly 88% of the 2,511 licensed drivers surveyed displayed at least one risky driving behavior in the last month. Risky driving behavior, as defined by the AAA, included speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and using a cell phone. Millennials acknowledged texting while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers, and nearly half of the individuals surveyed reported running a red light, even if they could have stopped the vehicle safely.

Not surprisingly, the study fits with findings of a 7% increase in accident fatalities from 2015 to 2016. This increase follows a tragic trend in the frequency of traffic-related fatalities, which legislators throughout the country, at the federal, state, and local levels, are keenly aware of. Many states rely on marketing campaigns to increase awareness of ways to prevent fatal car accidents. For example, entities like the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Mississippi Department of Transportation routinely publish car wreck statistics on their websites to ensure citizens are informed about motor vehicle-related dangers.

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Self-serve taprooms are on the brink of revolutionizing the bar industry by adding the same elements that make self-serve frozen yogurt places so wildly popular. For example, Pour Taproom is a chain of bars that sell a wide variety of craft beer, but with a slight twist: customers pour their own drinks. Customers can pour as much, or as little, as they like and pay by the ounce. Naturally, when Pour Taproom attempted to obtain a beer license for its newest establishment in Knoxville, it raised some red flags.

The Knoxville City Council has voiced legitimate safety concerns over the bar’s method of serving customers. The self-serve policy seems to be ripe with potential Tennessee dram shop lawsuits, which is one reason why the Knoxville City Council raised the possibility of an ordinance that would effectively ban self-serve bars. Knoxville Beer Board chair, Brenda Palmer, explained that the new ordinance would only permit service of beer from the permit holder, the permit holder’s employees, or agents of the permit holder.

Board members and concerned citizens are worried that self-serve bars’ new style of service could be dangerous. With semi-unregulated drinking and with the option to pour more beer than would traditionally be served, there is the definite possibility of an influx of serving alcohol to people who are too intoxicated.

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We are taught at a young age to look both ways before crossing the street. However, despite our best efforts, pedestrian related accidents occur at shocking numbers. A statistic from 2015 found that over 5,300 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, equating to one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours. Additionally, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.

Recently, the city of San Francisco, California, was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from a pedestrian crash that took the life of a 38-year-old disabled woman. The victim was struck by a vehicle and killed as she crossed Market Street back in February 2016. The vehicle that struck and killed her was operated by an employee of the city of San Francisco, who was acting on behalf of the city at the time of the crash. According to the accident report, the driver made an illegal left-hand turn on to Market Street, striking the victim who was lawfully in the pedestrian crosswalk. According to reports, a settlement of $2.9 million was expected.

The victim’s death has brought about positive change from the city of San Francisco. The site of the victim’s death, and many other dangerous locations throughout the city, is receiving new signage clarifying illegal turns. Many, however, are calling for stronger measures, such as GPS tracking in government-owned vehicles, as well as frequent driver education classes for city employees.

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A federal court jury recently handed down one of the largest verdicts in Ohio history in a medical malpractice case. The $14.5 million verdict was awarded to Nicole Welker and Justin Brinkley against Clearfield Hospital and Dr. Thomas A. Carnevale. Evidence was introduced at trial to show that the doctor, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital, improperly administered Pitocin to the mother to augment her labor while she was giving birth to her son, Justinian.

Pitocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract, thus inducing labor. It is often administered by doctors. Side effects of Pitocin are relatively mild for the mother but can be fatal for the fetus. Unfortunately, when Welker was administered Pitocin, the drug caused her contractions to increase in frequency and intensity. As a result of these increased contractions, Justinian’s oxygen was cut off. Tragically, Justinian was born with cerebral palsy and catastrophic cognitive disabilities.

Following the two-week trial, the jury deliberated on a number of key facts, including evidence showing that the doctor and the hospital had knowledge that the fetus was showing signs of distress during labor but took no actions to alleviate the problem. Ultimately, the jury assessed 60% liability for this incident against the doctor and the remaining 40% against the hospital.