Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that support cells attached to the brain. It is responsible for communicating messages back and forth from the brain to the body. When the spinal cord is injured, it can result in long-term or permanent injuries. Partial or complete paralysis is a common consequence of many spinal cord injuries. There are also more likely to be permanent changes in muscle strength, sensation, and body functions beneath the site of the injury. Spinal cord injuries occur when a blow is sustained in that area. Car accidents, gun shot and knife wounds are all possible events that might cause a traumatic spinal cord injury.

A non-traumatic spinal cord injury can be a result of cancer, arthritis, an infection, or disk degeneration of the spine. After the initial incident affecting the spinal cord, further damage is possible and likely due to bleeding, swelling, and fluid accumulation around the spinal cord. About 4,500 people suffer partial paralysis, or paraplegia, every year. Paraplegia is usually when an individual loses motor functions in the lower half of the body. The condition results from a spinal cord injury to the lumbar region of the spine, affecting the legs, bowels and bladder control, and sexual function. Total paralysis, or quadriplegia, occurs when the damage to the spinal cord is in the torso area. This type of injury can affect the functions and movement of almost the entire body.

An individual suffering from quadriplegia generally loses control of all body parts below the neck. It can even be difficult to breath in severe cases. The impact of a spinal cord injury is serious and the consequences are severe for the injured individual. The stress associated with a long-term or permanent injury of this nature can worsen with the financial, emotional, and psychological pain associated with motion impairment or immobility. If you believe that you are a recipient of a spinal cord injury due to a workplace injury or negligent third-party, call an attorney in your area to help find you the compensation you deserve.

Medical Records and Reports in Medical Malpractice

One of the first things that any medical malpractice lawyer will ask prior to filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is the medical records of the patient in question. Most personal injury lawyers take on only cases that has a good chance of being won because they work on a contingent fee basis, and in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the records are the key element to prove negligence. State laws on the confidentiality of medical records and relevant reports differ, but they are generally discoverable. In Kentucky, for instance, a recent state Supreme Court ruling established when certain medical documents are considered confidential under federal law i.e. Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Specifically, the defendant hospital claimed that they could not release the post-operative incident report concerning the fatal surgery that claimed the life of the patient because it was prohibited by federal law. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the report in question was part of the hospital’s regular reporting and discoverable under state law, and that the federal law was not intended to intervene in the state regulation of healthcare facilities. In Massachusetts, the medical record rights of the patient under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and state law include the right to:

  • See and obtain a copy of your own medical records
  • Amend medical records to correct inaccuracies
  • File a complaint for violation of these rights

When a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer asks a potential client to obtain their medical records, the healthcare provider may not refuse, and generally should comply within 30 days, although delays are common. The client also has the right not to disclose the reason for the request to obtain a copy of the medical records because this is an absolute right. If you are planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for yourself or an immediate family, make a preemptive strike by obtaining the relevant medical records immediately. This will save a lot of time and effort for both you and your medical malpractice lawyer.

Liability for Falling Power Lines

It is inconceivable for most Americans to live without electrical power on demand. Some make do with generators or have adopted an Amish-like lifestyle that has nothing to do with electrical appliances, but in most cases having no electricity in the home is a big problem.

Most people are aware but spare little thought for the fact that electricity is piped to the home by way of electrical power lines that are stretched overhead. That is, until something happens that brings it to our attention—such as falling power lines. This can happen during a storm, when a branch or tree falls, or when sagging lines snag a passing truck. When this happens, not only will whole neighborhoods lose power, but it has the potential to create an electrical fire or to electrocute people in the vicinity. When this happens, it is highly possible that the utility company will be liable for any property damage or personal injury.

Electric utility companies are considered public service companies even if they are privately owned, and most states have adopted the guidelines set under the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). While strict liability does not apply for any injuries or damage done by falling power lines, the NESC does set strict standards for electrical utility companies to avoid foreseeable danger to the public. When these standards are breached, they can be held liable.

The NESC has been adopted in some form by all US states with the exception of California, so a Houston Lawyer, Ali Mokaram, will have recourse to 5 or so state laws governing liability for falling electrical lines rather than the NESC. A Louisville personal injury lawyer who will refer to the Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 278.042.

If you have suffered serious personal injury from unintentional contact with falling power lines because of some negligence on the part of the electrical power company, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer in your state for a more thorough discussion of your legal options.

Issues Concerning Potential Fuel Tank Explosion Injuries

When you get into a car, you think about checking your oil, water, gas, and tires. Rarely would the thought of the placement of the fuel tank be a matter of concern. However, for some car owners, this may be of primary importance.

Design defects in cars have lately been prominent because of the alarming number of cars from General Motors that experienced ignition switch-related accidents, resulting in at least 13 deaths and numerous injuries. Design defects in fuel tank placement, on the other hand, was last the subject of litigation in 1972 when the lack of protective reinforcement between the fuel tank and differential in the Ford Pinto (1971-1980) was alleged to have caused a deadly gas-fueled fire after a rear collision (Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.).

While the fuel tank did not precisely explode in that particular case, the resulting fire was devastating. It resulted in severe burns and eventual death of the driver and permanent, disfiguring burns over the entire body of a 13-year-old passenger, which required multiple skin-graft surgeries to repair. In the ensuing product liability case, the explosion lawyer representing the victims was able to prove that Ford was aware of the potential for danger because of the car’s design but did nothing to remedy it. The California courts eventually awarded compensatory damages ($2.5 million) and punitive damages ($3.5 million) to the plaintiffs.

More recently, investigations are ongoing regarding the potential for danger over the placement of the fuel tank behind the rear axle of the Jeep Grand Cherokee (1993 to 2004 models). So far, 72 deaths by fuel tank fire have been associated with 51 accidents with the relevant car models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into the matter and concluded that there appeared to be a higher incidence of fuel tank fires with rear end collisions with the Grand Cherokee than comparative models.

Injuries sustained from fuel tank explosions may very well be the result of someone else’s negligence. In these instances, the negligent party should be help responsible and financial compensation may be available.