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Monthly Archives: August 2013

OSHA’s Required Scaffolding Safety Standards

Workers on construction sites are probably the ones most prone to job-related accidents due to the heavy and huge construction tools and equipment around them, as well as the great heights that they need to ascend. In fact, studies show that falls are among the four top causes of injuries in construction sites, the other three being electrocution, caught-in-between equipment and a solid object, and struck by construction equipment or vehicles.

The rapid increase in the number of high-rise constructions all across the US and the need to restore the aesthetic look of many old buildings has also given rise to the number of workers required to work around the exterior of these edifices from great heights, requiring them to work on scaffolds, sometimes daily. In fact an estimated 2.3 million individuals are said to be working on scaffolds every day, bringing danger to many lives.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is in charge of regulating and enforcing safety in the work place, set the standard on scaffold requirements back in 1971. For added safety, there are certain types of scaffolds that OSHA recognizes, which can be used depending on certain factors, like load, materials, and weather condition. These types include pole and specialty, ladder jack, mobile, suspended, tube and coupler, pump jack, and frame.

The types mentioned, however, are still exposed to collapse, especially if they have been incompetently assembled. Improper assembly is actually the most common cause of scaffolding-collapse and accident. It is, therefore, imperative that scaffolds be double-checked for proper assembly and strength before being used.

The scaffolds’ susceptibility to collapse, if coupled with disregard of OSHA’s stipulated safety standards can lead to much greater risks. The additional measures for ensured worker’s safety include scaffold safety training and incorporation of guardrails to which workers can hold onto in cases of slips.

An accidental fall may result to serious injuries that would require long-term rehabilitation and costly medical treatment. To make sure that you get the justice that is due you in case of a fall, make sure that you get represented by a highly skilled and determined lawyer who understands your situation and is determined to fight for your rights.

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Preventing Strokes through Timely and Proper Treatment

One truly inspiring story on stroke concerns a three-day old child who had a sudden seizure while at a pediatrician’s office during a routine check-up. The seizure caused the baby’s knees to jerk up towards her chest, her head to turn sharply to her right, her small eyes to roll back and her skin to turn to blue. CPR was performed on her and, as soon as she began to breathe again, she was treated with an intravenous line before the ambulance team that rushed her to a hospital’s emergency room arrived.

The baby suffered two more seizures that same day and though she made it through the ordeal, the seizures were more than enough to damage parts of her brain, causing her holistic development to be affected. The cause of the seizures, which were identified as ischemic stroke (a stroke caused by an obstruction within the blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain) was later determined to be a clot in the blood vessel. What followed was months of anti-seizure medication, appointments with doctors and treatment by therapists. Today, 6 years after the seizures nearly claimed her life in 2007, the child has become an embodiment of strength, determination, kindness, beauty and, most of all, happiness, despite struggling everyday in performance of even the simplest activities, like climbing the stairs.

A stroke, or brain attack, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the US (after heart attack and cancer), is a very serious medical condition; it deprives the brain of the oxygen it needs, causing the brain cells to die. If not given proper and timely treatment, it can end in disability, permanent brain damage or death.

The sooner the stroke is diagnosed and the patient given proper, timely treatment, the patient can be saved from life-long disabilities. Many doctors and emergency room staff often fail to diagnose strokes, though, as their symptoms are interpreted as signs of other illnesses.

A really informative article from the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, a law firm in Massachusetts, states that some of the common symptoms of stroke include headache, neck pain, weakness, vision changes and the most obvious, the transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or mini-strokes. More accurately, these “sudden” symptoms are numbness in the face, arm or leg, speech trouble, loss of balance or coordination and dizziness, unexplained severe headache.

The US Food and Drug Administration, the American Heart Association, and the American Stroke Association state that to effectively treat stroke patients and enable them to fully recover, they ought to be treated with the clot busting drug, the tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms.

Any failure by any emergency room staff or doctor to recognize a stroke and give appropriate treatment is nothing less than medical malpractice. Families of medical malpractice victims ought to contact a medical malpractice lawyer immediately to know what the victim’s rights are and to obtain for him/her whatever compensation that he or she legally deserves.

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Car Accident Liability Even if You Don’t Drive

It will not matter if a bar or tavern owner does not drive; he or she could still have car accident liability for injuries to a third party in a drunk-driving accident in Iowa. This is due to Iowa Code 123.92 Civil Liability for Dispensing or Sale and Service of Beer, Wine, Or Intoxicating Liquor (Dramshop Act) –Liability Insurance –Underage Persons.

Dram shop liability laws are not exclusive to Iowa by any means, although states with dram shop laws have different takes on various aspects of the law, including how a bar owner assesses the level of inebriation of a customer. According to the website of Des Moines law firm LaMarca Law Group, P.C., the law simply states that the bar owner or similar is liable if he or she “knew or should have known the person was intoxicated, or who sold to and served the person to a point where the licensee or permittee knew or should have known the person would become intoxicated.” In other states such as Texas, the bar owner only becomes liable when the patron is literally falling-down drunk and is still being served alcohol.

This subjectivity renders the bar owner more liable, but at the same time also opens up reasonable doubt. It can go either way depending on how the case is presented. When the dram shop statute is cited, it is important that the plaintiff or the legal representative complies with the limitation of action (Iowa Code 123.93). This is to avoid missing the window of opportunity to make those who supply drunk drivers with alcohol accountable for the consequences.

If you are planning of bringing charges against the dram shop owner for injuries you or someone close to you sustained in a drunk-driving accident, employ the services of an experienced car accident liability attorney. The lawyer will know exactly what steps to take and how to properly present the facts to convince a jury of the defendant’s car accident liability.

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Causes of Crane Accidents

Crane accidents usually involve fatalities because it is usually heavy and works at height, a deadly combination. Cranes are normally used to lift heavy loads, so the forces that act on it are exacerbated by the sheer weight involved. The use of cranes presents serious safety issues for those working in construction and related industries. A recent accident with a crane in New Jersey resulted in one fatality, an employee of the refrigeration company tasked to move a refrigeration unit from a hospital’s roof. The unit was not properly secured to the crane and fell on the unsuspecting employee.

Those who work with or around cranes know that the risks of an accident are high but when it happens, it can still be horrendously traumatic. This is even truer for those who are innocent victims, such as the man killed in his condo in Bellevue, WA when a crane toppled into it in November 2006. The crane was not even being operated at that time.

Crane accidents are often due to structural or mechanical failures, although the most famous case involving “Big Blue” in 1999 was attributed to high winds. In cases that does not involve acts of nature, the liability for injuries and fatalities are not always clear-cut. Depending on the circumstances and the results of the investigations, a case could go through an entire range of personal injury claims. Since the burden of proof usually lies with the plaintiffs in any personal injury lawsuit, establishing negligence to the satisfaction of the civil courts can be highly complex and frustrating for the uninitiated.

Finding someone to blame is the natural reaction to preventable crane accidents, but what is more important is to make the ones responsible pay for their recklessness or negligence. To do this with any degree of success, one needs to consult with a law firm experienced in pursuing personal injury or wrongful death claims in crane accidents. These law firms will have the right contacts and resources which will make it easier to establish fault.

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Essential Factors when Appealing for a Long Term Disability Claim

Long term disability due either to illness or injury can have a devastating effect on the financial life of a struggling family. Quite too often the disability benefit applied for by many individuals are turned down by insurance providers. The usual reason for such denial, as stated on the website of Scudder & Hedrick, P.L.L.C., is strictly technical, though, and not because of ineligibility; that is, improper filing of application or missing a signature or skipping a box when filling out an application paper – these errors sometimes happen because disability insurance policies are long and complex documents that can confuse applicants.

However, there are also reported instances when applicants are judged not qualified or, if approved, are awarded small payments. If long term benefits are meant to compensate for salary losses, then being awarded a small amount would never suffice for medical treatment alone, let alone the family’s daily expenses.

Many insurance providers resort to finding faults in applications aggressively and then deny claims or award small benefits to ensure increase in their profit. Besides using the guise of technical or paperwork issues, these providers also resort to other tactics to make denials appear legitimate, tactics like, misclassification of injuries, undue termination of the policy and delay in the approval and/or release of benefit.

Legal experts call denials of benefit as “insurance bad faith,” which is a breach of the contract that providers, themselves, made and which they signed with the policy holder. If an insurance company, though, denies any long term disability benefits claim, then the applicant must be allowed to a full and fair examination of the denied claim, as well as to appeal the decision.

An appeal is a formal petition that asks for a re-assessment of an unfavorable decision (like a denial, termination or reduction of benefits) made by an insurer. To avoid losing an appeal, some important factors that claimants ought to consider are:

  1. Preparation of relevant documents like medical record, medical expert opinion, letters from employer, medical abstract and photographs
  2. Awareness and readiness to argue against an insurer’s inadequate in-house medical review, misrepresentation or misuse of evidence
  3. Filing the appeal before the set deadline

Equally important as those above is having a highly-skilled and determined legal counsel who will represent you and fight for your rights throughout the appeals process. A less qualified lawyer may cost applicants the long term disability appeals they have worked hard to prepare for.

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The Need for Long Term Disability Claims Filing Assistance

It is not at all easy to make a claim for long-term disability from an insurance company, whether employer-provided or personal. Because the claim is based on a person’s capacity to work, there is quite a burden of proof on the claimant and the language of insurance is (deliberately) obfuscated. In other words, mere mortals may have difficulty in understanding what is being said, or the requirements for properly making a claim. This is where lawyers can be of great help in providing long-term disability claims filing assistance.

According to the website of Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, in Raleigh, North Carolina, insurance companies are always on the lookout for any opportunity to delay or deny a claim. Filing a claim without knowing the process can easily lead to the ultimate denial of legitimate long-term disability benefits. This is a major problem for someone who is unable to work and has many financial obligations. It is essential that the utmost thoroughness and care is taken when filing a claim for long-term disability with an insurance company. The documents provided to back up a claim has to be complete and properly filled out so that there are no loopholes that an insurer can use to wriggle out of its obligation.

It all lies with how an insurer defines “qualified” claims. The terms of the policy will set out what the limits are as well as who are eligible to receive benefits. An unchecked box, misplaced period, or uncrossed T can shoot holes in a claim that would otherwise be perfectly legitimate. Long-term disability claims filing assistance lawyers are well-versed in the steps for this particular dance with insurance companies, and will not hesitate to aggressively defend a client’s rights.

If you need to file a disability claim with your insurer, you would do well to consider getting long-term disability claims filing assistance at the very beginning to avoid derailing your case. Find a lawyer in your area with the requisite experience and be assured that you will be given every chance for a successful claim.

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Motorists and Bicyclists have Equal Rights on the Road

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration persuades every road user, especially motorists, to respect the rights of bicyclists on the road, as this is the best way to make a safe transportation environment. Legally speaking, bicycles have the same rights on the road as any other type of motor vehicle. Sadly, though, many drivers have refused bikers the space they need on the road, resulting to significant numbers in severely injured and dead bicyclists.

According to the website of LaMarca Law Group, there were about 51,000 injured and as many as 600 killed bicyclists in 2009 alone. These numbers have continued to increase in recent years, showing the great danger bikers are exposed to once they start to ride on US roads. And despite the bike lanes on busy city roads, many drivers still refuse to acknowledge the right of bikers on the road, rendering car and bicycle collision a common road site every day.

The most common causes of collision between motor vehicles and bicycles are:

  • Motor vehicle drivers directly and abruptly turning in front of bikers
  • Drivers, from parking areas or driveways, driving into traffic and cutting a biker’s right of way
  • Drivers failing to slow down at intersections
  • Drivers running a stop sign or traffic light
  • Drivers not taking time to double-check for incoming bikers
  • Reckless driving due to negligence or alcohol influence

Despite the number of bicycle accidents, riding a bike should never be a seen as a dangerous means of transportation or leisure activity. If only to keep away from the dangers that city roads present, many bicyclists have decided to ride along paths where they’ll be safer and enjoy their ride more.

In the event of an accident, however, the negligent or reckless driver at fault ought to be made to answer to the injury he or she has caused. With the help of a determined and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, obtaining the compensation that you legally deserve is closer to possible than never.

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What is a Retained Surgical Instrument?

A retained surgical instrument is any material used in a surgical procedure that inadvertently gets left behind. The material can range from a scalpel to towels, although the most frequently retained surgical instrument is a sponge. A retained sponge happens frequently enough that it actually has an official name – gossypiboma. This term also applies to a left towel, and an alternative term is textilioma.

There is no official term for a retained scalpel; indeed it seems highly unlikely that something like a scalpel can be left inside the body after surgery. But it actually happens more often than one would think. It is so much so that there have been considerable efforts made in improving the surgical process to prevent retained surgical instrument errors. Based on a recent study, it is estimated that retained surgical instrument occurs in 12.5% of all surgeries in the US.

This is perhaps not surprising considering that a minimum of 250 instruments are used in any given surgery. According to an article on the website of Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyers Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, there are a few common and preventable types of surgical errors that a patient may fall victim to. Retained surgical instrument is one of them and while it may be understandable, they are not excusable. The consequences of retained surgical instrument in the human body can range from the uncomfortable to the downright deadly, and will definitely lead eventually to injury and perhaps removal surgery. Some cases such as gossypiboma may not even be detected until years later. This has both health and financial costs to the patient.

Retained surgical instrument errors are clear examples of negligence on the part of the surgical team. If you or someone close to you find out that it has been done to you, consult immediately with a surgical errors lawyer to find out your legal options.

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