The Risk of Longshoreman Injuries

A longshoreman is often confused with a stevedore, but they are actually different. A longshoreman is primarily a dockworker who loads and unloads cargo. The term “longshoreman” comes from the colonial times phrase “men along the shore” or “alongshoremen.” A stevedore supervises dockworkers, and may be an individual or a company. The term is derived from the Spanish “estibador” which means someone who stuffs. But the terms are used interchangeably, although when it comes to occupational hazards, they are called longshoreman injuries.

Aside from loading and unloading cargo, longshoremen also do ship repair, bridge building and other duties. Because of the multitude of tasks they perform and the hazards they face, they are paid a premium rate. An experienced, unionized longshoreman may be paid as much as $20 an hour. However, longshore work and related maritime industry occupations are considered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be among the most hazardous occupations in the US. An average of 350 workers in this industry suffers serious work-related injuries every year. The most common longshoreman injuries are accidents involving equipment and machines, drowning, and slips and falls.

Some of the common injuries occur because of unsafe work environments. Working close to the water means the work surface is slippery. Defective equipment and inadequate safety procedures and gear also add to the risk of longshoreman injuries. In response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration came up with regulations in 2011 to promote a safer working environment including lighting standards, first-aid training, hazardous materials training and safe motor vehicle operation. According to the website of Pohl and Berk, LLP, employers have a duty to ensure the safety of their workers as much as possible, and should use these regulations to accomplish this. When employees are hurt on the job, the employers may be held liable, especially if the accident resulted from a dangerous situation onsite.

However, some employers fail to follow these regulations and expose their workers to the risk of longshoreman injuries unnecessarily. Workers who suffer from this negligence can avail of federal and civil solutions to get compensation for these injuries. People shouldn’t have to fear being injured at work due to overly dangerous job conditions beyond those which are reasonable for the job at hand.

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Identifying the Risk for Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Everybody will get old, which is why it is of paramount concern that there is a disturbing amount of elder sexual abuse in nursing homes. For many aging Americans, nursing homes are the practical option, especially when aging is accompanied by conditions that may require constant supervision. It is projected that by 2050, 6.6 million Americans will be nursing home residents. Every year, up to 2 million elder abuse cases is thought to occur, the most heinous of which is sexual abuse. Identifying the risk for elder sexual abuse in nursing homes will help prevent this from happening to someone you know.

Elder sexual abuse in the nursing home is the least reported of elder mistreatment. According to the website of Danville-based law firm Spiros Law, P.C., this is primarily because the victim is often unwilling or unable to report it, and when they do, they are often disbelieved or ignored unless serious injury or death occurs. In many cases, the staff is aware of these incidents but do not have the training or knowledge to properly handle the situation.

Elder sexual abuse is defined by the National Center on Elder Abuse as any sexual contact with any person which is unwanted, or to which the elder person is unable to consent to. It includes physical contact of any kind, enforced nudity, rape, sexual assault, sodomy and taking of sexually explicit photographs or videos.

Persons at risk for elder sexual abuse in nursing homes are of both sexes, although there are a smaller proportion of male victims. Nursing homes with a large resident population with dementia coupled with a low resident-to-staff ratio are more likely to have incidents of elder sexual abuse. Studies show that unmarried women aged 60 and older with no relatives in the immediate with functional and cognitive problems such as the inability to ambulate without assistance or confused about time and place are the most likely victims of sexual abuse from staff and other residents. The lower the mental capacity of the victim, the more invasive is the sexual abuse.

Nursing homes are facilities of care, and as such have a duty to protect the residents from harm. The failure to prevent foreseeable elder sexual abuse or to report it to the proper authorities may render the facility liable for personal injury claims as well as criminal charges. Consult with an experienced elder abuse lawyer if you suspect a relative or friend is a victim of nursing home abuse.

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Road Crashes a Significant Factor in Oilfield Accidents

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates road travel off shift may be more hazardous than working in an oil field. Between 2003 and 2009, there were 716 work-related oil and gas extraction industry deaths, a fatality rate of 27.5 for every 100,000 workers. This is seven times the fatality rate for all US workers. Curiously, the incidence rate of oilfield accidents with nonfatal injuries for the same period is 1.2 for every 100 full time workers, about one-third of the rate for all US workers at 3.5 injuries per 100 full time workers.

Of the fatalities, 208 were due to motor vehicle crashes. Other common causes include being hit by a tool or equipment (143), explosions (58), crushed by moving equipment (50) and falls (43). As the number of active oil fields increase, so do the number of fatalities and serious accidents, and are likely to get worse as the high demand for workers, especially in Texas, means less experienced workers are getting hired and working longer hours. Oil field workers have an increased rate of workplace injury and death due to employer negligence.

The finding that highway accidents are the biggest contributor to oil field accidents is perhaps not really surprising. The combined effect of fatigue and highway safety rules exemptions for oil field workers has been a major factor in these fatalities. Oil field workers work an average of 20 hours per shift, and then are expected to drive after their shift. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, oilfield workers and related fields are 8.5 times more at risk of dying in a vehicle crash than those in other industries. This startling figure could be altered for the better if only these workers were allowed to get enough rest.

If you or someone close to you sustained injury or death because of employer pressure to work longer than is safe, you may have an actionable case. Contact personal injury lawyers experienced in handling cases involving oil field accidents to find out your options. According to the website of Pohl & Berk, LLP, work-related injuries due to companies pushing their employees too hard for too long are inexcusable. While the overtime pay may be attractive, workers are often unaware of the effects exhaustion may have in their ability to continue working safely. Employers, however, should be aware of these kinds of dangers and would be negligent not to.

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Health Problems Associated with NuvaRing

The last decade has not been lucky for manufacturers and distributors of contraceptive products. Another large pharmaceutical company, Merck this time, is being sued by more of a dozen of its clients for failing to disclose the risks of using the contraceptive vaginal ring NuvaRing.

NuvaRing is a prescriptive flexible ring made of ethylene-vinyl acetate polymer that is placed in the vagina to inhibit ovulation and sperm penetration. As a contraceptive method, it is considered as effective but much more convenient than birth control pills. NuvaRing is left in the vagina in 3 week stretches, alternating with a rest of one week during which the user has her period. While the ring is in the vagina, it slowly releases small amounts of 120 µg of etonogestrel, a third generation progestin and 15 µg of ehinyl estradiol, a form of estrogen daily to prevent ovulation and theoretically implantation in the endometrium. According to Texas law firm Williams Kherkher, this particular combination of hormones has been found to be harmful to its users.

Studies conducted since 2002 when it was first marketed in the US, NuvaRing has been found to increase the risk of developing a serious blood clotting condition known as venous thrombosis by as much as 6.5 times. It is also thought to increase the risk of a pulmonary embolism as a blood clot that has dislodged and travelled to the lungs can serve to block an artery.

The main complaint of users that are slated to have their day in court in July 2013 is that Merck failed to adequately test the product before releasing it to the public, and to warn users about the risks associated with its use. Most of the plaintiffs are women who have suffered from the effects of blood clots or family members of women who have died alleging that the injuries or deaths had been directly caused by the use of NuvaRing. If you suspect that you are one or the other, consult with a defective pharmaceuticals lawyer in your area that has handled NuvaRing cases before. The specialized nature of federal multi-district litigation which NuvaRing cases has been classified under makes it the wisest course of action at this time.

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Woman Files Byetta Lawsuit after Husband Dies of Cancer

Adding to the extensive list of Byetta lawsuits, San Diego resident Rebecca Richard filed a suit on June 28 against drug manufacturers Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly on behalf of her husband, David Richard, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.

According to the website of Williams Kherker, Byetta, a popular medication for Type-2 diabetes since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005, increases insulin secretion after meals, slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, and helps to reduce appetite. Patients with diabetes inject the medicine into their thigh, arm, or abdomen twice a day after meals. However, while the drug has been shown to effectively treat Type-2 diabetes, it has been linked to a number of side effects, ranging from inconveniences such as vomiting, diarrhea, and heartburn to possibly fatal conditions including pancreatic and thyroid cancer. Some Byetta users have also cited kidney damage and allergic reactions as side effects of the drug.

According to Richard’s suit, her husband was prescribed Byetta on July 27, 2005. He took the medication until May 2010, when he began experiencing sharp and intense abdominal pains. A little more than a year later, David Richard died after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Richard joins a number of other plaintiffs, including a group that filed for multidistrict litigation on April 5, who claim Byetta manufacturers provided inadequate information about the possible side effects and risks of the drug. If you or someone you know has developed a serious medical condition after taking Byetta, you may wish to contact an experienced attorney who can help you gain compensation for the injury.

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Consumer Watchdog Fighting California Medical Malpractice Award Cap

Citing current laws as outdated, consumer education and advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has begun a campaign to do away with California’s cap on damages for pain and loss of enjoyment in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which passed in 1975 to combat rising insurance premiums and keep doctors practicing in California, set a cap of $250,000 for all types of damage in malpractice cases other than medical expenses and loss of income. The cap was never indexed to inflation–it has remained at $250,000 since the bill was signed into law more than 35 years ago.

According to the website of these Massachusetts personal injury lawyers, even experienced doctors occasionally fail to obey proper conduct rules and make minor to severe mistakes. In fact, estimates show that as many as 195,000 people die each year due to the negligence of medical professionals. Victims of medical malpractice claim MICRA prevents them from gaining suitable compensation for their resulting injuries, particularly in terms of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment. These kinds of damages are difficult to monetize, as there is no way to dependably measure the personal cost of losing a limb or becoming sterile.

Consumer Watchdog has stated its intention to add a ballot initiative for the November 2014 election that would update MICRA with a cap indexed to inflation or remove the cap entirely. Support for such an initiative is mixed: according to the Sacramento Business Journal, a recent survey of voters in California showed that more than 50 percent think the $250,000 damages cap is “too high or about right.”

According to spokespeople from Consumer Watchdog, a victim of medical malpractice should not only gain compensation for economic loss, but also for necessary changes in lifestyle and loss of enjoyment. The organization urges anyone who has been injured by medical malpractice to contact an experienced attorney to determine if they are eligible for compensation.

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Judge’s Ruling Sends Message to Negligent WV Nursing Home

A judge recently upheld a 2011 ruling that requires West Virginia nursing home chain HCR ManorCare to pay more than $90 million in a wrongful death suit. HCR ManorCare, which owns the Heartland of Charleston nursing home, was found responsible for negligent treatment of resident Dorothy Douglas, who died in 2009 from dehydration complications.

Several months after the 2011 jury verdict was reached in Douglas’s case, Heartland of Charleston was implicated in a second wrongful death suit. In the second case, staff failed to treat resident Christina L. Frazier’s infections, leading to her premature death.

In Douglas’s case, Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. upheld the jury’s original verdict, which called for $11.5 million in compensatory damages for Douglas’s family and $80 million in punitive damages. According to the website of a personal injury lawyer, punitive damages are fines leveled against the defendant to stop future negligent behavior. If you’ve been fined thousands of dollars for doing something you shouldn’t have done, you’re less likely to do it again in the future. If you are financially impacted by the fine, that is.

Lawyers for HCR ManorCare argued in May that West Virginia’s medical malpractice laws, which call for a cap on damages, should apply to the wrongful death suit and limit the settlement to no more than $500,000. However, Judge Zakaib Jr. ruled that the state’s Nursing Home Care Act does not require such a cap, and the $90 million settlement is legal. HCR ManorCare attorneys have already expressed their desire to appeal the case to West Virginia’s supreme court.

In his April decision, Judge Zakaib Jr. expressed his view that HCR ManorCare’s attempts to maximize profit were reckless and negligent.

“This verdict sends a clear ‘deterrence’ message to a multi-billion dollar nursing home corporation that its misconduct will not be tolerated,” Zakaib Jr. said.

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Miami Drivers Split on City’s Red Light Cameras

Some Miami drivers are seeing red this week, angered by traffic light surveillance cameras that help law enforcement officials write tickets. Miami commissioners meet Thursday to decide the fate of the city’s red-light cameras and whether to create a municipal appeals process for ticketed drivers.
Along with other Florida cities, Miami installed red-light cameras at high-risk intersections to cut down on instances of reckless driving and ticket residents who fail to stop fully at red lights.

According to Miami’s City Manager Johnny Martinez, since the 148 cameras were installed, the number of T-bone crashes caused by drivers rushing through an already-red light has been reduced. These accidents have one of the highest rates of serious injuries according to the website of Spiros Law, P.C. In addition to preventing possibly fatal accidents, supporters of the red-light camera program point out that the tickets increase city revenue, which funds projects from Jackson Memorial Hospital’s trauma center to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Red-light cameras have plenty of opponents, including mayoral candidate Francis Suarez, who accused the system of focusing on “generating revenue” rather than preventing accidents. Currently, a driver who receives a red-light ticket must pay a $158 fine (or $119 to appeal the ticket in court), although the proposed municipal appeals process would lower the appeals fine to approximately $50. Suarez criticized the program for bringing in $5.8 million last year. Supporters of the red-light camera program have brought attention to Suarez’s two unpaid red-light fines, tickets he claims “would not have been [given] by a police officer” and were the fault of a system expressly designed to ticket drivers.

Miami mayor Tomás Regalado, who has never received a red-light ticket, countered Suarez’s arguments and urged the city to continue the use of the cameras.

“This is about changing the driving culture and reducing the number of accidents,” Regalado said.

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