Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Train-Moving-on-Tracks-SmallA recent train crash in the Binghampton area of Memphis serves as a reminder to us all – be extremely careful when approaching train tracks. In the early hours of November 14, 2017, a train collided with a vehicle in Binghampton near Pershing Avenue and Scott Street. According to Memphis Police Department, the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene, the driver got caught between the railroad arms as she was crossing over the tracks. Fortunately, she had enough time to get out of her vehicle and out of harm’s way.

Unique Dangers Involving Trains

It takes much longer for a train to come to a stop than it does for cars and SUVs driven by private citizens. Below are interesting statistics to put all of this in context:

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crash-car-1180834-SmallExercising caution and safety behind the wheel is, and should be, stressed year-round. However, each year, an entire week is dedicated to promoting safety among teen drivers, and it is appropriately called National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW). This year, it was held over the week of October 15-21. While this topic should always be discussed and promoted, safety is particularly stressed during this designated week.

Of all age groups, teens are some of the individuals most-susceptible to getting hurt while driving or riding in a vehicle, according to safety experts. Drivers between 15-20 years old are most vulnerable to passing away in a car accident. Many reasons have been given, including lack of driving experience, immaturity, drug and alcohol abuse, driving while distracted (such as using cell phones and listening to music), and driving while drowsy. To reduce teen driver accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking action.

NTDSW includes several campaigns, each with its own message.

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Happy-Halloween-Pumpkins-SmallHalloween appeals to people of all ages, and this time of year always brings fanfare and activities like dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, trick or treating, haunted houses, and corn mazes. While having fun is always a goal on Halloween, an equally important goal should be staying safe.

Across the country, millions of children and their parents will be out on the street to trick or treat on Halloween. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other night during the year. Another issue on Halloween is drunk driving. Halloween is known as a party night, and one study has shown alcohol violations/citations are 4.5 times higher when Halloween falls on a weekend compared to a weekday.

Using due care, being aware of your surroundings, and not taking unnecessary risks are all ways to avoid injuries and get to and from your destination in one piece. Below are specific tips that parents, families, and members of the community can utilize to make Halloween 2017 a safe holiday.

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On October 5, 2017, a federal jury in Chicago, Illinois found large drug manufacturer AbbVie, Inc. liable for injuries caused by AndroGel, a testosterone replacement therapy treatment known to cause serious medical problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. The multi-week trial was held in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. After deliberating for nearly two days, a Tennessee man was awarded over $140 million by the jury who found that AndroGel caused him to suffer a heart attack. The verdict consisted of $140,000.00 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages, as AbbVie was found responsible for negligence, misrepresentation, and concealment of AndroGel’s risks.

The plaintiff was prescribed AndroGel in 2010 for symptoms his primary care physician attributed to low testosterone levels. Two months later, he suffered a heart attack. At trial, attorneys for the plaintiff argued he suffered the heart attack due to AndroGel, and experts testified about the link between AndroGel and cardiovascular risks. Further, evidence was introduced that AbbVie failed to adequately warn consumers and their healthcare providers of the significant health risks associated with AndroGel despite known medical research. AbbVie disputed liability and minimized AndroGel’s role in the heart attack, instead pointing to pre-existing medical conditions and claiming the company complied with U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in effect at the time.

Low testosterone treatments were aggressively marketed to millions of middle-aged men for over 15 years without regard for whether they truly had the conditions for which it received FDA approval,” said Parker Trotz of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, one of the team attorneys for the plaintiff. “With this verdict, the jury sent a strong message that it is unacceptable for large pharmaceutical companies to prioritize profits over people by failing to conduct sufficient testing and knowingly hiding risks of adverse side effects to innocent consumers.”

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Car-ConsoleMany new vehicles come with all of the bells and whistles one would expect. Auto manufacturers consistently tout new technology in their cars, specifically in-car “infotainment” systems. This technology includes music, navigation, and Internet, such as on or near the car’s dashboard. The name says it all – this technology can be informative (navigation, speed, etc.) while also facilitating the vehicle’s entertainment systems.

What can easily be overlooked is how an infotainment system affects safety. A troubling report was recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which stated this technology can actually cause more accidents. This may come as a surprise to most people, since new technology is designed to actually reduce the rate of crashes. According to Dr. David Yang of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, certain “in-vehicle technology can create unsafe conditions for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.”

Specifically, infotainment systems that are not properly designed can increase distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any action that diverts attention from driving,” which includes the following:

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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.