There are More Out There: Da Vinci Robot Surgical Injuries

Despite the numerous complaints already being filed against California-based Intuitive Surgical, Inc., maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System, it turns out that surgical injuries are actually being underreported. This was concluded by Johns Hopkins researchers who put together court records and news articles to come up with the true picture of the situation with da Vinci robot lawsuits in particular and the reporting mandate in general.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely requires medical device manufacturers and drug companies to report all adverse occurrences relating to their product in order to ensure public health and safety. However, the study shows that because there are no real repercussions from the FDA when companies fail to faithfully report these adverse events, there is no motivation to do so. This means that in general when a product or device is shown to have serious side effects or defects the FDA only gets to hear about it from the victims themselves when extensive damage has already been done.

Because there are no warnings issued to the public, most people are unaware of the risk they are taking in patronizing these products or devices, which are in large part inadequately tested. Coupled with marketing strategies which entice consumers already primed to favor the newest technology, manufacturers are set up to make huge profits which would be compromised if adequate testing is carried out. This applies to consumer products as well, but medical devices and products have the potential for serious if not fatal harm.

Until the FDA’s reporting mandate acquires a more punitive personality, the only recourse for those who suffer injury or harm from the use of these devices or products is in civil court. And because the da Vinci surgical system is a wholly new category of medical device, litigation is likely to be highly complex. It would be necessary for those suffering from surgical injuries to engage a product liability lawyer well-versed in the arena of robot-assisted surgical devices such as the da Vinci system.

NFL Settles Concussion Lawsuit

The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement over brain injuries among 18,000 retired players. The settlement will fund concussion-related compensation, medical exams, some legal expenses, and a medical research program. More than 4,500 former athletes filed suit, accusing the league of profiting from the sport’s violence while hiding the risk of concussion-related brain injury.

The family of Dave Duerson was among those involved in the lawsuit. Duerson, former Chicago Bears and Notre Dame safety, committed suicide in 2011, leaving a note asking for his brain to be examined for football-related damage. Boston University researchers found that Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a trauma-induced disease found in dozens of retired and deceased NFL players. The family had originally filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NFL, but it was consolidated with the concussion-related lawsuits in February of 2012 because of its similarity.

Through the settlement, individual awards will be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer’s, $3 million for dementia, and $4 million for those diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Rather than spending millions of dollars and many years litigating thousands of individual claims, the agreement will provide relief and support where and when it is needed. This is a historic agreement that will help to promote safety for football players at all levels.

The Issue of Domestic Violence

Texas is a state with a zero tolerance for domestic violence. Under Texas laws (Texas Family Code and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure), it is easy enough to get a protective order against a family member or live-in partner. All one has to do is to call the police and state that bodily harm has occurred to provide probably cause which will get the alleged perpetrator arrested. There is no need for any kind of proof other than a statement given to the police that one or another family member has been physically hurt or has experienced pain because of someone’s act. Why then has a 136 women been killed in 2008 as a result of domestic violence even after it had been reported?

Domestic violence is a crime, and as such there are degrees of severity that can classify any particular act from a class C misdemeanor up to a felony. According to the website of BB Law Group PLLC, it can be as simple as heated argument that includes threats of bodily harm as well as actual, physical contact. But it is also an intimate crime, and many victims are reluctant to take any action against a parent, spouse, sibling, child, close relative or a partner until there is an escalation that often leads to bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death. Even then, it is not easy for domestic violence victims and other intimates to make the move to report the abuse. This is an issue of domestic violence that no law can address.

Perhaps one of the reasons that bolsters this false sense of loyalty is the no drop policy of Texas laws on domestic violence. Once domestic violence is reported, the public prosecutor will pursue the case to the end even if the victim does not wish to prosecute. But what most victims do not appreciate is that the laws are put in place to protect the weak and the vulnerable from the influence of an abusive family member or partner.

What You Need to Know When Buying a Home in Austin

Buying a home in Austin, and pretty much anywhere for that matter, is an exercise in distrust. You cannot take anything for granted or anyone at face value. The one thing you will get tired of when buying a home is confirming every little detail of every transaction. It is not actually an issue of trust, per se, but of awareness. A seemingly legitimate transaction can still become a bad deal if you later discover the terms are not something you can live with. It is much better to know what you are getting into from the start.

Among the many people and outfits you will butt heads with when buying a home include agents, lenders, brokers, appraisers, title companies, mortgage companies, and possible lawyers. Each of these represent a phase of buying a home that you need to pay close attention to in order to find property that you can get financing for that you can afford. According to the website of Easy Road Home, knowing how much you can afford is the most important consideration in buying a home. For each person or company you deal with, you should always be wary of anything that seems too good to be true, because it probably is.

One of the most important things you need to do when you find a property you like is to have it verified by an independent title company. A title company will check the records for any unpaid taxes or other legal problems with the property, and will also verify if the seller is the legitimate owner. You will have to pay for the title insurance, but it is essential that you have this before making any sort of commitment for buying the property.

Buying a home is a lot of work, but if you don’t want to be left holding the bag, you will slog through it. Some people take a shortcut and go to real estate assistance companies because these often have extensive networks dealing with all aspects of the real estate industry, including properties for sale. This is a perfectly good idea as long as you make sure that the company you select operates in your desired area and has a good reputation. As always, do your research before committing to anything.

Drug and Alcohol Testing as Part of Trucking Regulations

Truck drivers are commercial drivers, and as such are required to pass higher-than-average standards when it comes to their operational fitness. This is because many truck drivers control large vehicles that may or may not contain hazardous materials, loads that are heavy enough to be dangerous when driving at high speeds, or simply be so big that they always pose a potential threat to smaller vehicles in their vicinity. Truck drivers need to be very good at what they do, always be alert, and be responsible when it comes to intoxicating substances.

As part of the trucking regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) as mandated by federal law, truck drivers are required to take drug and alcohol testing under the following circumstances:

  • Prior to hiring
  • Immediately after an accident
  • Return to duty after being suspended for prohibited alcohol use
  • Upon reasonable suspicion
  • Random and unannounced

These tests are typically saliva or breath testing as approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and in compliance with the procedures outlined in the 49 CFR Part 40 of the Department of Transportation. Employees who are found to have used alcohol and drugs in violation with trucking regulations are to be suspended immediately from safety-sensitive tasks i.e. driving a big rig. Employers are required to provide this information to the FMCSA to ensure compliance. According to the Williams Kherkher Truck Accident Resource Center website, trucking regulations involve not only the driver but the trucking company as well, and any attached liability for any accidents due to the use of alcohol and drugs by the truck driver.

If you are injured in a trucking accident, immediately engage a lawyer who is familiar with the trucking regulations pertaining to driver liability. If the driver fails to pass an alcohol and drug test immediately after the accident, you may have a clear basis for a personal injury lawsuit against the driver as well as the trucking company.

Products Liability and the Omnibus Tort Reform Act in Wisconsin

Major changes have been made to the civil laws on products liability in Wisconsin under the Omnibus Tort Reform Act of 2011 that will affect how manufacturers will be held accountable when it comes to design or manufacturing defects. Previously, Wisconsin was a strict liability state with no cap on punitive damages. The reforms have made it more difficult for plaintiffs to recover damages from manufacturers, sellers and distributors. However, according to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. in Rhinelander ®, this should not prevent product defect victims from addressing the problem and seeking compensation for injuries.

The new laws on tort liability now require that in order for a plaintiff to recover damages for injuries sustained due to a defect in a product’s design, it must present an alternative design for the product with which the injury would not have happened. This is the reasonable alternative design test which is in wide use in the US. A plaintiff claiming unawareness of the risks of using the product may only file for damages if there was inadequate or no warning or instructions included with the product. This is in direct contrast with the previously prevailing rule where it did not matter if there were instructions or warnings; as long as the plaintiff claims he or she did not know, the manufacturer may still be held liable.

Other conditions codified in the tort law include a statute of repose (after which a manufacturer may no longer be held liable, typically 15 years), a punitive damages cap ($200,000 or double the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is higher), limited market share liability, comparative negligence features and statutory defenses for manufacturers.

The new laws do make Wisconsin more attractive for manufacturers, but it also makes it more difficult for consumers to seek compensation for injuries they may sustain from a defect in the product’s manufacturing or design. The new law makes it even more imperative to have competent legal representation which will undertake the task of proving that a manufacturer breached its duty of care to its customers.

Most Fuel Fed Fires Are Due to Mechanical or Electrical Failures

Despite what you might see on television or the movies, cars don’t always explode or even catch fire when it collides with something or rolls over. However, when it does happen, in a majority of cases it is not initially caused by a ruptured fuel tank or fuel line. Those occur in only 2% of all automobile fires, although it does account for about 15% of deaths due to fuel fed fires. In fact, the most common cause of fuel fed fires is mechanical and electrical failure or malfunction, accounting for 69% of automobile fires between 2006 and 2010 according to data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System of the US Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association.

However, mechanical or electrical failure-caused fuel fed fires account only for a total of 12% of car fire fatalities. Rollovers and collisions, which cause only 4% of all automobile fires in the same period, account for 60% of all deaths in fuel fed fires. This skewed cause-and-effect seems to suggest that during a rollover or collision, fuel fed fires are not the actual cause of death but are rather a side effect of the incident. Mechanical and electrical defects do cause the majority of automobile fires and in all probability many serious injuries that in 12% of the time resulted in death. Of special note are the engine and running gear areas which 69% of the time is where a mechanical or electrical defect occurs or is located.

What does this mean for automobile and parts manufacturers? They have a responsibility to ensure that their products meet safety standards that will prevent or at least not start fuel fed fires in case of collisions or rollovers, especially since these types of incidents will most likely end in deaths. The failure to do so may render them liable for injuries or deaths that occur due to the malfunction or defects of these parts or the car on the whole. It also means that as these cars gain a reputation for being unsafe, people start to realize that they can be quite costly to own. Information on this car accident attorney website indicates that cars that are more dangerous end up being more pricey to keep insured as well.

If you or a family member was involved in a fuel fed accident due to some defect or malfunction, you could have an actionable case. Consult with a fuel fed fire attorney to do your investigation for you and prepare your case if it has merit.

Some Causes of Wrong Diagnoses: Which Hospitals are Really Safe?

Quality care, accurate diagnosis, timely and effective treatment and correct medication – these are the most important elements in any medical treatment; these are also factors every doctor or medical health provider owes every patient whom they accept to treat.

A website called HealthGrades posts patient-safety ratings of different hospitals in the US. In 2010, for instance, the top five hospitals in their list showed that, indeed, these hospitals did a much better job caring for patients. Why resort to this list? Because medical malpractice that leads to wrong diagnosis (which may mean missed, delayed or over diagnosis) is real and it claims as many as 40,000 to 80,000 lives in the US every year.

Another website, that of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, a law firm in Wisconsin, puts it more directly, saying: “Without an accurate diagnosis, you may receive treatments for a condition that does not exist or . . . not receive any treatment at all.” That site also says that wrong medication can cause the development of a health problem that can be more harmful than your initial state.

A study that was recently reported in the U.S. News and World Report says that one on the most common reasons for misdiagnosis is physician bias, which happens when doctors become fixated on just one patient issue or problem. This happens due to the very limited 15-minute office visit, during which doctors and patients interact. Oftentimes too, doctors apply the so-called, “18-second rule” to their patients, the tendency to interrupt patients as they describe symptoms to their ailment.

Though knowledge, familiarity with symptoms and diseases or technology may render him or her right at times, there will definitely be instances wherein he or she will make a wrong judgment for not all illnesses are easy to determine. Thus, doctors probably need to go back to the old-fashioned way of probing and history taking, but which is never easy due to the financial effect it will cause them.

Nevertheless, whatever the cause of medical malpractice is, it will remain to be considered as a personal injury – an injury resulting from someone else’s carelessness or negligence. A serious injustice to patients, this error, like any other personal injuries, gives patients the legal right to seek justice and receive compensation from the liable party.

Types of Disabilities Covered by Social Security Disability Insurance

Many people equate a disability with physical disability, including blindness. But there are other conditions that may not be physical but which nonetheless prevents a person from functioning normally. The types of disabilities covered under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program may be more extensive than most people think. One just has to know how to present a particular case that will convince the people in the Disability Determination Services offices in Illinois.

Applying for SSDI can be highly complex and often frustrating process, especially if the disability is not immediately discernible. Some conditions that are considered disabilities under the SSDI are:

  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Genitourinary impairments
  • Hematological disorders
  • Immune System Disorders
  • Loss of vision, hearing and speech
  • Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
  • Mental impairments categorized as organic mental disorders, psychotic disorders, affective disorders, intellectual disability, anxiety-related disorders, somatoform disorders, personality disorders, developmental disorders, and even substance addiction disorders
  • Musculoskeletal problems including chronic and acute back pain
  • Neurological problems
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Skin disorders

There is a broad spectrum of disabilities that are considered under SSDI. The biggest problem with getting approved for SSDI benefits is the failure to provide the necessary documentation that proves the condition is genuine, disabling and likely to persist more than 12 months. These are the three main criteria for SSDI eligibility, and most people who file a claim on their own may not meet the medical requirements of the DDS because they did not submit the correct forms, failed to get the right certifications, or applied for SSDI under the wrong category. While the DDS will process the claim, they do not provide legal advice on what to do. It is up to the claimant to get the information they need to make a successful claim, and the legal jargon may be a bit confusing for most people.

It is quite important to do it right the first time, or you could be waiting for more than 2 years to get your benefits; that is, if you are actually approved. To make the process as painless as possible, get advice and assistance from an experienced Texas Social Security disability lawyer. Lawyers can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that may get your application scrapped.

Are SUvs Really More Stable Today?

Rollovers are considered to be more dangerous vehicular accidents as these cause more severe injuries if not death. In the US, about 10,000 individuals are killed every year due to rollover accidents, while more than 24,000 sustain serious injuries. Rollovers are usually caused by aggressive, high-speed driving and reckless lane changes; these can also happen when the vehicle skids or slides sideways (especially when driver turns the vehicle very aggressively), causing the driver to lose control and the vehicle to trip.

A rollover can happen on any type of vehicle, however, taller and narrower ones, like SUVs and vans are more susceptible to it since their center of gravity is farther/higher from the ground compared to ordinary cars; their heavy tops or the weighty items placed on top of these and/or the added weight inside (from baggage and passengers) make the SUV less stable, increasing the risk of a rollover.

To make SUVs and vans much safer and, so, reduce the occurrence of rollovers, manufacturers have introduced the electronic stability control system (ESC) and the static stability factor (SSF) in vehicles; these give vehicles greater stability and drivers, more control.

The ESC enables the vehicle to sense when it skids and then applies a brake on each wheel automatically, keeping the driver from losing control. Its introduction in 2006 in a large number of vehicles and its inclusion in new SUVs as standard equipment in 2010 has made today’s SUVs safer than those made in the past.

Despite the move, SUV rollovers continue to appear in the list of vehicular accidents which register the higher numbers of deaths or severe injuries; this is due to the failure of some SUV manufacturers and aftermarket parts makers to produce vehicles or parts that will withstand the demands of the real world.

For extra safety and stability, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises SUV owners to observe the following to help reduce the risk of a rollover accident:

  • Steer clear of conditions (like speeding, drunk-driving, etc.) that will lessen your control of your vehicle
  • Observe extra care, especially on rural roads
  • Avoid panic-like steering, especially when your vehicle goes off-road
  • Make sure your tires are always in good condition and not worn out
  • Load any equipment in your vehicle properly

If you are a victim of an SUV rollover accident, then you have the legal right to pursue justice and receive compensation from the liable party. This compensation may be available from the liable party’s insurance company, as a person generally won’t have the funds to pay your expenses. According to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, certain policies include what is called “personal injury protection” that is used for the purpose of protecting yourself from going bankrupt paying someone’s medical expenses after you’ve caused an accident.