Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dangerous Medical Products - How Can They Injure You?

You have probably seen the commercials: "If you have been injured by a pelvic implant, call our law firm and join our class-action lawsuit today!" But what does that actually mean? Can anyone who received a potentially dangerous pelvic implant join a lawsuit, even if the device has not injured him or her? And even if you are injured by a medical device, does that guarantee your right to monetary compensation? Although permanent or semi-permanent medical implant devices are the only treatment option for certain injuries, introducing non-organic products into the complex human body can cause serious medical issues that are often not anticipated by the makers of those products.

Common Types of Dangerous Medical Products

Some of the most dangerous medical products are non-organic medical implant devices, such as artificial joints, heart defibrillators (pacemakers), and surgical meshes. It is reported that tens of millions of Americans live with medical device implants, but did you know that many of these medical devices are often not tested before they reach the consumer market? Further, most surgeons do not have specialized training when it comes to implanting these devices, and it is often the product's sales representative who shows the doctor how to use and implant the device before and during surgery.

The famous “transvaginal mesh" cases are an example of these types of products. In those cases, patients were implanted with surgical mesh, which is a device implanted to support certain organs, such as a sinking bladder. However, implantation of these relatively untested mesh devices by attaching them to the vaginal area caused thousands of women to experience mesh erosion, pain, rejection of the implant, infection, bleeding, organ perforation, and urinary problems, which resulted in additional surgeries and permanent physical and nerve damage.

Nonetheless, surgical implants are not the only medical products that can cause harm. Certain over-the-counter products, such as talcum powder, have been linked to ovarian cancer, and certain non-implantation medical devices, such as the use of a certain warming blanket during surgery, have been linked to greater risk of developing serious infections.

Injuries Caused by Dangerous Medical Products

As the human body is complex, the injuries suffered through the use of certain medical devices will vary based on the patient. However, the following injuries are most commonly associated with dangerous medical implantation devices:

  • Infections
  • Nerve, bone, and tissue trauma to the area of implant
  • Organ perforation
  • Hematomas
  • Loose product fragments
  • Bodily fluid leaks
  • Abnormal bone and tissue growth around the device

Use of non-implanted products, such as talcum powder, can lead to diseases such as cancer, and many other products can cause various injuries depending on their location and the health of the patient.

Florida Products Liability Law

If you have been injured by a dangerous medical device or product, your legal cause of action generally lies in theory called “products liability.” Under Florida law, a products liability action is defined as a lawsuit "based on a theory of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance, or similar theories for damages caused by the malfunction, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product." The only catch is that the injuries you received from the product must be greater than those you would have suffered without its use. For example, if you have a heart condition that would likely cause death without a pacemaker, even if implantation of the pacemaker results in pain and discomfort, you would likely not have an action in products liability because the benefits of implanting the lifesaving device outweighed its potential defects.

Who Is Liable for Harmful Products?

Florida law provides a long list of legal theories that can be used in bringing a products liability action. It also states that these theories may be based on a number of issues involving the product, such as design, installation, or assembly of the product. As such, you are not limited to suing the manufacturer alone if you suffer an injury as the result of a defective product. You may be able to sue the company that designed and tested the product, the company that marketed the product as “safe,” and any product representatives who may have assembled and helped install the product. Further, medical products liability actions often go hand in hand with actions for medical malpractice against a physician or medical facility. A doctor who wrongly installs a product, is not fully educated on its use, or does not warn you of the likely complications can also be held liable for your injuries.

What Can You Recover?

If you are successful in your products liability action, you may be able to recover damages for the following:

  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Home and nursing care
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of quality of life

Unfortunately, some medical devices, such as certain spinal implant devices, have been known to cause such serious bone growth and nerve damage that what was meant to improve your quality of life can destroy it.

Contact a Clearwater Products Liability Attorney Today

When you are suffering from a medical condition that can be treated only with medical devices, you have likely already spent time suffering. There is nothing more discouraging than when what was meant to treat you causes greater pain and loss. But you are not alone, and you are entitled to the compensation you deserve to help you live life to its fullest. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group have the experience you need to fight the medical corporations that are turning a fast profit at the expense of your health and well-being. Most corporations will make millions of dollars by rolling out untested medical products before side effects and symptoms begin to develop in patients. They even anticipate this being the case. Don't let them get away with it. Call our Clearwater office today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your rights after a failed medical implant.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Concussions and Children

Concussions and their associated injuries have become a hot-button topic over the last few years, especially in the sporting community, leading to several class-action lawsuits against various sporting organizations and even a blockbuster film starring Will Smith aptly titled Concussion. This seemingly newfound national interest in head injuries comes after a wave of studies that showed that bumps to the head can be much more serious than we previously realized. Up until very recently, most head injuries of the milder variety were thought to be treatable with a nap and painkillers, but, unfortunately, this is not adequate in most cases.

While the effects of concussions and other head injuries can be serious for anyone, they are especially serious for children.

 What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. When this happens, the force of the blow causes the head and brain to move back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist inside the skull, and the trauma stretches and damages the brain cells and can result in chemical changes. This bouncing around can lead to breaks in the blood-brain barrier, which is the wall that allows beneficial substances to flow in and out of the brain. The brain's response to these breaks is inflammation, which temporarily plugs these gaps, but this inflammation can lead to longer-term damage like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a gradual deterioration of the brain tissue. Because the scientific study of concussions and their effects is still in its infancy, there may be many more long-term effects of concussions that have yet to be determined.

 How are They Caused?

 Concussions can be caused by any event that results in a sudden blow to the head, including:

  • Falling (especially for children and the elderly)
  • Participation in high-contact sports like football, hockey, soccer, rugby, or boxing
  • Participation in high-contact sports without proper safety equipment or supervision
  • Being involved in an automobile accident
  • Being involved in a pedestrian or bicycle accident
  • Being a soldier involved in combat
  • Being a victim of physical abuse

Although anyone can suffer from a concussion, there are several groups of people who are particularly prone to them. These groups include athletes, the elderly, children, and people who have had a previous concussion. Studies suggest that a history of concussion can actually double or triple the risk of suffering another concussion, especially for athletes, and that each subsequent concussion after the first increases the sufferer's risk of severe symptoms. There is also some data that suggests that women are more susceptible to concussions than men and that some people may be genetically predisposed to concussions due to their brains floating around more in their skulls.

What Are the Symptoms of Concussions?

General Symptoms

So how do you know if you have suffered a concussion or just a slight bump to the head? First, a concussion is likely to be the result of a much more serious injury than a simple bump, but there are also tell-tale signs that point to a concussion, including:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or a feeling of mental fogginess 
  • Amnesia surrounding the event
  • Dizziness or seeing stars
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue 

 A few longer-term symptoms that might show up several hours after the injury include:

  • Concentration and memory trouble
  • Irritability 
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in Children 

While anyone who suffers from a concussion can experience any of these symptoms, concussions are particularly dangerous for infants and toddlers because they often cannot describe how they feel. A child who suffers a concussion is also more likely to develop long-term problems from the concussion, so it is essential that your child receives medical treatment right away. A few clues that your child may have suffered a concussion include:

  • Appearing dazed
  • Listlessness and tiring easily
  • Irritability and crankiness
  • Loss of balance and unsteady walking
  • Excessive crying
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys

Pay close attention to your child's behavior after he or she suffers a bump on the head to determine whether he or she shows any signs of a concussion. If your child exhibits any of the behaviors listed above, it would be a good idea to get them checked out. However, more serious symptoms like vomiting and loss of consciousness require emergency medical attention.

 Why They are Particularly Dangerous to Children 

Concussions are a serious injury for anyone, but they are particularly serious for children. This is simply because children are more vulnerable to long-term injuries because their brains are still developing. The long-term effects of concussions and other brain injuries can include learning disabilities, communication disabilities, problems with acting out and social inappropriateness, and issues with memory and reasoning. The most important advice for parents of children who have suffered a concussion is that they should be given time to rest and heal. Children who return to school after a concussion may need classroom adjustments, including a lighter course load or a shortened school day. It is also of paramount importance that you give the concussion time to heal before returning to sports or other physical activity. If any activities cause concussion symptoms like headaches, the child should take a break from them and then resume the activity for shorter periods, gradually working back up to pre-concussion levels only when they are completely healed.

Contact a Clearwater Brain Injury Attorney 

If you or your child has been injured in an accident and suffered a concussion, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Please contact the Tampa brain injury lawyers at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Estimating your Future Losses After a Traumatic Brain Injury in Florida

Traumatic Brain Injuries1 (TBIs) are among the most severe injuries you can suffer as a result of a car or truck accident, and they commonly occur “when an external mechanical force cause brain dysfunction.” This can include a violent blow or jolt to the head, which causes the soft tissues of the brain to impact the skull. A severe traumatic brain injury can take away your ability to communicate, walk, and prevent you from taking care of or feeding yourself. Losing any one of these abilities can impact almost any profession, and people who are suffering from TBI can also lose the ability to concentrate and retain memories, drastically affecting your ability to perform at high levels. Because the brain is such a complex organ, and no injuries or persons are the same, it can be difficult to estimate how the consequences and symptoms of a TBI with affect your future earning capacity.

Societal Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is estimated that most survivors of severe traumatic brain injuries2 never recover full social independence, are unable to return to work, and necessarily live with and rely on their families for support. This creates extensive burdens on family members who are tasked with caring for their injured loved ones, especially when those loved ones have lost their earning capacities. However, if you suffered from a TBI due to an accident, you are entitled to full compensation for your injuries, which includes the following:

  • Medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses;
  • Home nursing care and household held;
  • Lost wages; 
  • Pain and suffering; and 
  • Future/anticipated economic losses. 

Accordingly, it is essential to contact an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney following diagnosis, as having an attorney on your side early can help you estimate expenses and assist you in getting compensation and household assistance to take the burden off of your family.

Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Generally, there are three classifications of traumatic brain injuries:

  • Closed Brain Injury: Occurs when the head either “snaps” back and forth or collides with another object, such as the steering wheel or windshield of a car, and damages brain tissues or nerve endings. Such injuries generally cause varying degrees of disability; 
  • Open Brain Injury: Occurs when an object, such as a piece of metal or glass from a windshield, penetrates the skull and injures the brain. However, such injuries tends to be to only one area of the brain, and as such, medical science can often predict the resulting disabilities; 
  • Acquired Brain Injuries: This is the general term for any brain injury that occurs by unnatural means and includes diffuse axonal injuries and anoxia (loss of oxygen injuries).  

The most common type of TBI seen after car accidents is, unfortunately, one of the most severe. It is called “Diffuse Axonal Injury,” and it occurs when the brain, which sits in fluids, moves back and forth violently within the skull and hits the bone. This can cause the brain tissues to shear, which results in swelling, decreased blood flow, and brain death. It also causes injuries throughout the brain that are not localized to one specific area. This can make it difficult for doctors to predict how such brain injuries will impact your future.

Economic Loss Experts

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury such that doctors predict you will either not be able to return to work or will only be able to work in a limited capacity, most courts require an expert witness to testify regarding the value of that future economic loss. Under Florida law,3 “if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact [jury or judge] in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion.”

One such expert witness is an “economic expert,” who will generally work for a litigation economics firm and specialize in accounting and valuations. Many such experts will have a Ph.D. in economics, and they will generally be published authors on related topics. The court will often question the qualifications of an economic expert prior to permitting him or her to testify, as the expert is permitted to give his or her professional opinion regarding the potential economic value of an individual’s case. For example, the expert could testify that, due to your inability to work after a TBI, you should be compensated approximate $70,000 each year over the next 30 years (i.e., the remainder of your work life). This would result in the expert testifying that your future economic loss is approximately $2,000,000 dollars.

Factors Used for Estimating Future Losses

Estimating a future economic loss traditionally begins with analyzing the medical aspects of your case. It must first be determined what kind of injury you suffered from, and it must then be determined what the nature and extent of your symptoms and injuries are. After this, doctors will have to provide your attorney and his economic expert a prognosis, meaning they must determine what the likelihood is that you will recover, and if so, when and to what extent. It will then fall to your economic and occupational expert to determine if you will once again work in your full capacity. If the answer is no, it must then be determined if you can work in a limited capacity, and if the answer is again no, it must then be determined whether you can successfully transition to another career field.

For example, let’s take a firefighter suffering from TBI after an accident. If doctors determine that, due to the injury, he has lost function of his left arm, he will not be able to continue in his current career but may be able to undertake a desk job in a similar field at a compensable salary. If, however, the injury also affected his memory, then he may not be able to continue in the field at all. The expert must then use medical reports to determine his likelihood of recovery, and if the answer is that he will only make slight improvements over the next 10 years, then the economic value of his case, including lost salary and benefits, would be quite high.

Don’t Delay - Contact a Clearwater Brain Injury Attorney Immediately

Traumatic brain injury litigation is some of the most complex personal injury litigation attorneys undertake. It takes a team of experts and a plethora of medical, economic, and occupational knowledge to ensure you get the full compensation you deserve for the loss of your future earnings. Further, it is important to ensure that your family is provided with all the help they need as they care for you during this difficult time. The Dolman Law Group is your premier traumatic brain injury firm in Clearwater, Florida, and our attorneys are here to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Costs of a Catastrophic Injury in Florida

“Catastrophic injuries” are defined in the legal field as injuries so severe that they prevent any future gainful employment. Treatment for such injuries can range from emergency care, physical therapy, at home nursing services, surgery, and constant pain management. Over the course of years, especially without stable income, the cost of treating these injuries can become unmanageable, and many conditions may lead to continued physical and psychological deterioration.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Although any injury can be deemed “catastrophic” under the right circumstances, the most common types of injuries that result in a catastrophic categorization are as follows:

-Traumatic Brain Injury1 (“TBI”): Brain dysfunction caused by a violent external force, such as a blow to the head;
-Spinal Cord Injuries: Injury to the spinal cord or nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord that can cause paralysis, unrelenting pain, or inability to control your movements;
-Third or Fourth Degree Thermal Burns: When extreme heat, such as fire or steam, destroys the cells in the under-layers of the skin and may reach the bone or tendons (fourth degree burns);
-Organ Crushing Injuries: When pressure applied to the chest or other body parts is so severe as to cause the breaking of bones and injury to essential organs, such as the lungs and heart.

These injuries are common causes of permanent disability, disfigurement, or even death, especially when suffered as the result of a car or truck accident. Rollover accidents, which are a common type of accident that occurs in trucks or large vehicles, can result in the severe crushing of organs and burns if you are trapped in a vehicle fire.

Costs of Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries

The expense associated with each type of catastrophic injury will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury suffered. For example, if a loved one suffered traumatic brain injury that resulted in a vegetative state, there is no limit to your potential medical expenses. In a vegetative state, patients have no cognitive function, but a certain part of their brain that remained uninjured still works to keep them in a waking or semi-waking state. However, a patient cannot respond to hunger, pain, or sound and requires constant hospice care. The estimated cost of caring2 for patients in vegetative state is nearly $150,000 per year. If that is multiplied by the average life expectancy of those in such a state, which can range from 1-10 years, it can result in millions of dollars in expenses.

Costs of Treating Spinal Cord Injuries

Severe spinal cord injuries can be some of the most expenses injuries to treat, as patients who suffer paralysis from such injuries require expensive medical equipment, constant nursing services, and specialized neurological and neurosurgical care. Further, such patients may never be able to return to their profession depending on the extent of their injuries. According to the Reeve Foundation,3 the average lifetime medical expenses, excluding lost wages and fringe benefits, for treating someone who has suffered a catastrophic spinal injury can range from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000. If you were injured at around age 25, which for young men is one of the most common ages to be involved in a DUI or auto accident, the average medical expenses are approximately $5,000,000 over the course of your lifetime, but you may also lose the ability to work and support yourself. The loss of your wages, pension, and fringe benefits such as health insurance, can result in over $1,000,000 of additional economic loss.

Catastrophic Injuries and Insurance Coverage

If you suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of a car accident, you may believe the liable driver’s insurance will be responsible for all your medical expenses; however, this is not the case. It is estimated that those who suffer from a catastrophic spinal injury will have $400,000 to $1,000,000 in medical expenses in the first year, but most Florida drivers only carry the mandatory state minimum insurance requirements of $10,000 per person. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, which means that Florida drivers are required to carry a certain amount of coverage for their own medical expenses, most drivers also only carry the state minimum, again $10,000. Accordingly, you will have exhausted almost all of your medical benefits in less than a month. Even your health insurance benefits may be capped, as many health insurance plans have lifetime and yearly payment maximums.

Economic Experts and Damage Assessments

Catastrophic injuries can affect more than your health, they can alter your career and ability to support your family. For some injuries, an injured individual may be able to return to work in a lighter capacity or change fields and have a fulfilling career, but for others, catastrophic injuries may spell an end to your earning capacity. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney will typically hire an expert in the field of economics to analyze your total lifetime economic loss as the result of your injuries. This expert will be able to write a report to the court that would help determine the value of your case. Although certain settlement offers may seem temping in the beginning, you should not settle until you speak with a personal injury attorney and an economic expert so you can fully understand the loss suffered.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Case Analysis

Catastrophic injuries are life-changing, and it is important to have an advocate on your side to assist you and your family through the litigation process. Many insurance companies will try to convince you to settle your case early on, when in many cases you may not know the extent of your injures or chance of recovery for years. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of an accident, the Dolman Law Group may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Their attorneys are your premier traumatic injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they are here to fight for your rights. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765