Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

August 2010 Archives

Study: Child Sports Concussion Rates Rising

According to a new study, the number of children arriving in the ER seeking medical attention for a sports concussion more than doubled between 2001 and 2005. Findings released in the journal Pediatrics have traced not only the growing numbers of concussions in middle-schoolers and elementary school age children, but new evidence relating to the effects of concussion on younger children.

A report by the Los Angeles Times says that the rise in sports injuries to younger children may be due in part to an increase in participation in "elite travel teams and in competitive youth leagues" across the country. Nearly half of the sports concussion pediatric patients seen in ERs were between the ages of 8-13, the study found.

Arizona Storm Causes 69 Car Crash

A surprise Arizona storm caused a 69 car crash on a highway near Downtown Phoenix this past Saturday. Believed to be one of the biggest multi-car pile ups in recent Phoenix history, the sizeable crash sent seven people to the hospital, according the MSNBC.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bob Bailey describes the chaotic scene, "The storm hit hard, hit fast, and caught a lot of drivers by surprise. The collisions began in the far right side of the roadway near the 7th street exit ramp and this thing kind of perpetuated itself, enveloping the whole roadway." Luckily none of the injuries were reported as life-threatening. The interstate was closed for roughly 3 hours, as over 100 firemen worked to clear cars, and provide alternate transportation and assistance for all the parties involved.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

Contingency what? In addition to nearly impossible legal jargon, procedural issues, and procedural hoops, the various payment structures for an attorney is one more aspect that serves to confuse a layperson in trying to successfully maneuver through a legal issue. A contingency fee is the most common fee structure used in personal injury actions, but not necessarily the easiest to understand.

Flat fees, referral fees, consultation fees, statutory fees. The type of fee agreement you enter into with your attorney can have an impact on your recovery. So here is a little contingency fee breakdown. When compensating your attorney based on a contingency fee, their paycheck is contingent on you winning your case. Victory or defeat, the attorney typically will collect some expenses, but the contingency fee will be based on a previously agreed percentage of the recovery.

15 Injured in JetBlue Flight 'Hard Landing'

A JetBlue flight survived a hard landing at the Sacramento, California airport on Thursday, August 26. The plane, an Airbus A320, blew at least two of its tires when it landed at just after 1 p.m. (PST) coming in from Long Beach. Fifteen passengers were injured and many had to exit the aircraft via the emergency slides.

Witnesses looking out the window at the airport were surprised to see the passengers standing around the plane as fire trucks arrived, according to the report by the Associated Press. The wheels had caught fire during the landing, causing the tires to blow out. An AP report for CBS News quoted a passenger. "We were then told to start evacuating very abruptly, you know 'Get out! Get out! Get out!'" said the passenger, who identified himself as Elvis. "I looked back under the plane, and it was on fire, and all four tires were out."

2 Settle in Continental Flight 3407 Crash

The families of two of the fifty people killed in the Continental Connection Flight 3407 crash in Buffalo, New York, in 2009, have settled their wrongful death lawsuits. The families of passengers Darren Tolsma and John G. Roberts III settled with the defendants in the suit, Continental Airlines Inc., Pinnacle Airlines Corp., Colgan Air and plane manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace Corp. The exact terms of the settlement were undisclosed.

The Continental crash occurred on approach to Buffalo on Feb. 12, according to the Associated Press. Suits by the victims' families claimed that the flight crew allowed ice to build up on the wings, flew the plane too slowly and didn't react correctly when the plane's stall-warning system kicked in. The suit further alleged the pilots were improperly trained.

Brennan Eden 100 mph Crash Caught on Dash Cam

A car driven at speeds of a least 100 mph crashed into the concrete pillar supporting a bridge on Ohio Interstate 675 on Monday, August 23. The moment of impact tore the car into three pieces and was caught on tape by the camera mounted in a police car at the scene.

NDTV reported 19 year-old Brennan Eden was driving his 1985 Pontiac Firebird past other drivers at high speed when he drove off the left side of the roadway while passing a Sugarcreek Township police car. "He went down into the median, into the grass, hit the guard rail, went airborne and the car hit the center post of the bridge and literally exploded into three main pieces," said witness Mark Riley.

Infant Death Blamed on BP Refinery Leak

This has been a very bad year for BP. A Texas mother is now suing BP for the death of her infant son -- a death she claims was caused by chemicals released into the air during the BP refinery leak this past Spring. The cause of Julius Provosts' death could not be determined by the local medical examiner's office, but his mother believes that the exposure to over 500,000 pounds of chemicals released during the leak was the ultimate cause of her son's death.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Sharon Champion's six month-old son was cared for by an aunt that lived one mile from the BP refinery, according to Southeast Texas Record. When the leak started, so did the following symptoms: runny nose, eye mucus, and a violent cough. Champion's attorney, Anthony Buzbee, is quoted in the Claims Journal, "It's almost like the baby drowned to death in its own fluids. BP will continue to downplay this and say their monitors failed to pick this up."

BP Compensation Fund Opens Today

In the wake of the BP oil spill, many wondered how economic victims would be able to recover their losses. The legal process moves slowly, especially when it involves multi-national corporations and billions of dollars. Under pressure from the Obama administration, the company created the $20 billion BP compensation Fund. Today, the fund opens for claims and is already facing criticism.

However, Kenneth Feinberg, who is in charge of the fund, said that claimants will find a more efficient process through the fund than they would encounter in the traditional legal system. He said that BP compensation fund claimants could receive more generous treatment and receive their funds quickly. Feinberg was in charge of administering the 9/11 fund as well as setting the executive pay for companies bailed out by the government.

Dr. Frank Ryan Texting Just Before Fatal Crash

Plastic surgeon to the stars, Frank Ryan was discovered to be text messaging just before his fatal car crash on Monday. Ryan died after he drove his Jeep Wrangler off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. The 50 year-old Ryan has performed plastic surgery on celebrities like Heidi Montag, Lisa Rinna, and Joan Rivers

According to People Magazine, Ryan was tweeting a message about his border collie, Jill moments before he crashed. Jill was in the car at the time of the crash and survived, but sustained injuries to her head, eyes, and paw. He had also tweeted a picture of his pooch earlier that day. Although officials have not released the cause of the accident yet, California Highway Patrol Officer Steven Reid said, "It is one of the elements we are investigating."

11 Things to Do After a Car Accident

Bright lights flashing. Loud voices. Exchanging numbers. No, this is not a description of a Hollywood club, but the scene after a car accident. Even a simple car accident can turn into a major headache as it often involves dealing with injuries, insurance companies, lawyers, and other parties remembering the chain of events slightly different. Even for the innocent driver in the accident, there are certain steps one should always take post-fender bender.

Here are 11 things to do after a car accident:

Carla Franklin Sues to Expose Cyberbully

Can a person talk trash about someone else on YouTube by posting vulgar and insulting remarks about them anonymously? Carla Franklin, former model and Duke biology and psychology major, as well as Columbia business school graduate, has asked a court to force Google to disclose the identity of an online commentator who called her a "whore" on YouTube.

Franklin had recently appeared on YouTube videos posted by Columbia Business School that documented her travels to Africa and featured her offering advice to future MBA students. Franklin filed an application for disclosure with the New York Supreme Court.

$4.9M Settlement in Atlanta Drug Raid Death

A tragic, ugly incident in Atlanta is nearing a resolution. In 2006, a police drug squad executed a "no knock" warrant and kicked in the door of Kathryn Johnson, a 92 year-old woman. The police were there based on the tip of an informant who said he bought drugs there.

A no knock warrant is issued by a judge and allows police to enter without knocking. The rationale behind a no knock warrant is that evidence can be destroyed while the police wait for the door to be answered, or it could provide the resident to time to get armed.

Johnson fired a shot from her gun as they attempted to enter, likely assuming her home was being invaded. The police returned fire 39 times, hitting Johnson either five or six times. The police were not injured, but Johnston was killed in the gunfire during the mistaken drug raid. Making maters worse, when police failed to find drugs at the scene, they planted drugs there that had been confiscated into another drug raid. After an FBI investigation, five officers pleaded guilty for their involvement in the drug raid death, and six officers were reprimanded for failure to follow police policy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Deadline Extended in Veteran PTSD Class Action

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that causes anxiety following exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal, is a very common problem among men and women returning from active combat. A class-action lawsuit established to provide health-related and financial assistance to veterans of Middle East wars who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been extended to allow more members of the eligible class to opt-in.

According to The Examiner, the PTSD class action (Sabo v. United States) will be open until November 10, 2010 -- an extension the plaintiff's attorneys hope the remaining 2,623 eligible veterans will take advantage of.

Bart Stichman, co-executive Director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, explains the reason behind creating the PTSD class action, "these veterans and their families were treated unjustly and denied the benefits to which they were entitled. This is about getting them the lifetime military benefits that they have earned and deserve."

$2.8M Settlement in Taser Brain Damage Case

"Don't Tase me bro!"

It was one of the top quotes of 2007. Andrew Meyer, a student at the University of Florida, shouted it moments before being hit with a Taser and arrested for allegedly inciting a riot, resisting an officer and disturbing the peace. Meyer had been in the process of trying to ask uncomfortable questions to Senator John Kerry at a Constitution Day forum. The incident brought to light mounting questions over the use of Tasers and whether they are safe and appropriate.

A brain damage case in California sheds further light on the risks involved with the stun guns.

Taser has settled for $2.85 with a man who was shocked by a Taser four years ago. The settlement marks the first time Taser International has settled a case over their product. Prior to Butler's lawsuit, they had also never lost a Taser case.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Daycare Death

Charges of active negligence, vicarious liability, and failure to train staff have been filed in the wrongful death suit relating to a recent daycare death. Katie's Kids Learning Center, a West Palm Beach, Florida daycare, has been voluntarily closed since the death. The lawsuit has been filed against the daycare, as well as a staff member believed to be responsible for negligently supervising the toddler.

2 year-old Haile Brockington was found dead in a van outside the daycare last week. Attorney for the family, Andrew Yaffa is quoted in WPBF News: "At the end of the day, when all the children were piling into the van to head home, there was a young child who headed to the back and saw the child sitting in the car seat and attempted to wake Haile and play with her as she normally would. And when Haile wouldn't wake up, she notified the driver that Haile was in fact in the car and wouldn't wake up." The complaint notes that the van was very hot at the time Haile was discovered, although the family does not know how long Haile was left unattended for.

Remains of Mitrice Richardson Found Near Malibu

Skeletal remains of Mitrice Richardson have been found in Malibu Canyon. Richardson, a California women, disappeared last year. As we reported in June, Latice Sutton, mother of Richardson, filed a wrongful death suit against Los Angeles County and officials at the Sheriff's Department. The lawsuit alleged negligence in the way Richardson was handled by the police following her arrest after she exhibited signs of mental illness. She was allegedly released without a car, phone or purse. She had been arrested for failing to pay her bill at a Malibu restaurant. Staff said she had been acting "crazy."

Mitrice Richardson was arrested on September 16, 2009, for failing to pay her dinner bill at Geoffrey's restaurant in Malibu. The staff said at the time Richardson was acting "crazy." The Sheriff's department disputed that Richardson was acting crazy.

BP Oil Spill Suits Will be Heard in New Orleans

Citing conflicts of interest, more than half of the federal judges in New Orleans recused themselves from BP oil spill suits. After the mass recusals, attorneys on each side began fighting over where the case would be heard, and by which judge. Lawyers for the victims of the spill of course wanted the cases to be combined and heard by a judge in New Orleans.

Lawyers for BP requested that the cases be heard in Houston, where their headquarters are located. They specifically requested Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston, Texas. According to Judicial Watch, Hughes lectured for oil industry groups that paid his travel expenses.

Naturally BP's attorneys wanted the BP oil spill suits in the hands of a corporate friendly judge and as far from New Orleans as possible. And naturally attorneys for the victims of the spill wanted the case tried in New Orleans, preferably where the damage of the spill was still visible and being felt firsthand.

Driver Error to Blame in Most Toyota Crashes

Sometimes things are not as they initially appear to be. When Toyota vehicles were recalled after a series of Toyota crashes, the media and the public were quick to pile on the automaker. After five months of investigating, the picture has changed. While Toyota could be responsible for a large number of crashes, the investigation has yet to find any defect beyond the defects Toyota reported. Further, in over half of the crashes that have been blamed on problems of "sudden acceleration," the driver was not actively breaking at the time of the accident, according to a government study.

The lack of braking at the time of the accident implicates driver error, or "pedal misapplication" as the cause of these accidents. These finding were presented by the U.S. Transportation Department to members on Congress on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports. The vehicles are equipped with so called "black boxes," data recorders designed to keep track of what is happening with a vehicle at the time of a crash. The devices are capable of surviving most crashes.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Duck Boat Incident

The tragic duck boat accident on the Delaware River in Philadelphia has led to a wrongful death suit. The parents of two Hungarians, Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, who were killed in the Duck Boat incident, have filed suit against several parties including the city and the Duck Boat tour company.

The family alleges that "Ride the Ducks" was negligent when the captain shut off the engine and dropped the boat's anchor in the middle of the Delaware River. The suit blames the city for allowing the Delaware River to become dangerous due to a mixture of large commercial vessels, such as the barge that ran over the Duck Boat, and smaller boats. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the tug company that pushed the barge was reckless when it failed to make use of a lookout to avoid blind spots. The Duck Boat capsized and later sank, throwing 37 people into the river.

"At the time of the incident, the tugboat was pushing a 290-foot barge upriver both blind and deaf, without caring what or whom they would run over or kill," the lawsuit said.

MIT Fraternity Settles Prank-Related Injury Case

Fraternities are known for pranks, and MIT fraternities are no exception. However, when a MIT fraternity prank went wrong three years ago, two people were severely injured and sued the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity. The fraternity and one of its members, Bhaskar Mookerji, have finally settled the lawsuits for an unspecified six-figure amount.

"No settlement can fully compensate individuals like Tom and Kate for all that they have been through, but they are pleased with this result,'' the victims' lawyer, John J. Barton, wrote in an e-mail to the Boston Globe.

The incident happened on September 6, 2007. Volunteers were removing litter from the water of the Charles River. They picked up a white, brick shaped object and put it in a trash container on board. Minutes later, an explosion occurred, causing massive burns to two volunteers on board, Thomas Soisson and Kate Nardin. The blast also caused thousands of dollars in additional cleanup and decontamination bills.

Methane Monitors at VA Mine Not Tampered With

There is again more news from the site of the mine explosion at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. On August 9, investigators confirmed that the methane monitors at the scene of the April 5 mine explosion had not been tampered with.

The methane monitors were taken from what is known as a longwall mining machine. The monitors are designed to shut down the mining machines when they detect levels of methane gas that could be explosive, according to a report by the Associated Press. The investigation followed claims by Massey employees that the monitors were sometimes rigged to keep running despite high readings.

Suit Filed in Taco Bell Salmonella Outbreak

No quiero Taco Bell. In a salmonella outbreak that has affected 155 people in 21 states, fast-food chain Taco Bell is now seeing the legal consequences of the salmonella outbreak that was first reported in May. Two different strains of Salmonella (Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon) caused patrons to experience fever, vomiting, and dehydration.

The suit was filed in Kentucky against Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brand by local resident Jo Ann Smith. After ordering two of Taco Bell's famous beef tacos, Smith began to experience symptoms that ultimately landed her in the emergency room. Smith's attorney, Bill Marler told Food Safety News, "My hope is that these two experiences will lead Yum! Brands to step up quickly to address the needs of customers who have been infected with salmonella." Marler also brought a salmonella suits against Taco Bell in 2000 for salmonella traced to green onions used in many of their menu items, and again in 2006 for an E. coli outbreak linked to lettuce.

$10B Lawsuit Against BP Over TX Refinery Emissions

Disclaimer: This is not a post about BP gulf oil spill. BP is in the news for what looks to be another very expensive problem on their hands -- a $10 billion lawsuit over the company's Texas refinery emissions. The class action claims that the refinery released 500,000 pounds of pollutants, including benzene, during spring of this year. The BP class action was filed Tuesday by Texas-based attorney Anthony Buzbee. In addition to a 40-day delay in alterting city officials to the leak, the class action alleges that the pollutants have affected the health and property values of the people who live and work in the area surrounding the refinery.

Health complaints include: allergic reactions, siunus infections, headaches, nosebleeds, and other symptions consistent with exposure to a noxious substance, reports the Houston Chronicle. The Texas refinery, the third largest in the U.S., has been on probation for a felony enviornment conviction relating to a 2005 explosion that killed 15, and caused a similar release of benzene and other toxins into the local community.

Missouri School Bus Crash Kills 2, Injures More

A tragic Missouri school bus crash has left two dead and up to 50 injured. The crash occurred between two school busses, a pick-up truck and a tractor. The students on the bus were members of the school band camp. One victim was the driver of the pick-up truck and the other was a child on one of the buses. The victims have not been formally identified.

ABC reports that the circumstances surrounding the Missouri school bus crash occurred after the tractor was rear-ended by the pick-up truck. Then, the female driver of the first school bus took her eyes off the road for a moment to check her mirrors and move lanes to the left lane. She did not notice the tractor/pick-up truck accident in time and the bus crashed into the pick-up truck and smashed it into the tractor. Then the second bus crashed into the first bus, which pushed it on top of the tractor and the pick-up truck. The crash left behind a tangled mess of metal.

Texas Apartment Balcony Collapse Injures 26

On Sunday, August 1, a balcony collapse during a party at an Austin townhouse caused dozens of people to fall two stories to the ground. Many of the party goers were hurt and had to be sent to area hospitals, though none with life-threatening injuries. The building inspectors and police in Austin are now investigating, to try to determine the exact reason the balcony gave way.

During a party on Sunday night, at one point, about 30 people crowded out onto the 400 square-foot balcony, which was more than the weight it was constructed to hold, according to the American-Statesman. The paper later determined that there were no documents on file with the city indicating that the necessary building permits to construct the balcony had been obtained. The building's owner and the contractor can be held responsible for the violation. City code compliance officials are still trying to determine who completed the work on the structure.

$7M Settlement in Sean Bell Wrongful Death

Last week, the City of New York came to a settlement agreement with the family of Sean Bell, the young man who was shot and killed by police officers on the eve of his wedding in 2006. Payments will also be made to two friends of Bell's who were with him at the time and were injured in the shooting, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield. The two will be paid $3 million and $900,000, respectively. The agreement will pay $3.25 million to Bell's two children and the estate will be administered by Bell's fiancée, Nicole Paultre-Bell.

As discussed in a prior post, the officers involved in the shooting were acquitted of criminal charges linked to their actions on the night of Bell's death. However, one of the officers is pursuing a personal injury claim against Bell's estate for injuries to his leg he claims were caused by Bell before he fired his gun.