FAQ: Medical Malpractice

Q: Do most medical malpractice cases result in a verdict in favor of the patient?

A: No.  Statistics indicate that only about 30% of medical malpractice trials result in a verdict for the patient.  Medical malpractice cases are difficult because patients are required to prove that the doctor or provider was negligent, violated a recognized standard of care and caused damage.

Whiplash Not Just From Motor Vehicle Wrecks

Most people have heard the term “whiplash” and almost automatically associate it with a neck injury suffered in a vehicle wreck, which makes sense given that whiplash-type injuries often occur in rear-end collisions.  The sudden impact causes a victim’s necks to extend and flex in an unnatural whipping motion causing damage to the muscles and other connective tissues in the cervical area.

But what many people don’t know is that whiplash is often caused by much less extreme impacts, and can include:

  • Winter-related accidents such as slipping on ice or falling while skiing or snowboarding.
  • Injuries in contact sports such as basketball, football or hockey.
  • Any assault that involves head trauma.
  • Child abuse, including shaken baby syndrome.
  • Repetitive stress injuries resulting from a poorly designed non-ergonomic work area.
  • Accidents in stores or restaurants that result from unattended spills on the floor or other unsafe conditions.

Whiplash is a serious injury and can result in long term medical implications if it is not diagnosed and properly treated.  If you believe that you have whiplash, the key is to promptly seek medical treatment.  Be aware of the symptoms of whiplash, which can include:

  • Neck, shoulder and upper back pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and/or blurred vision
  • Tingling in your extremities, particularly arms and hands
  • Unexplained fatigue or difficulties concentrating

If you have a whiplash injury and you believe it is due to another person’s negligent actions, please contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claim.

FAQ: If the Other Party Does Not Receive a Ticket, Can I Still Receive Compensation For My Injuries?

IF I’M INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT BUT THE POLICE OFFICER DOESN’T ISSUE A TICKET TO THE OTHER DIVER, CAN I STILL BE COMPENSATED FOR MY INJURIES?

                   Yes, you can.  A police officer does not have to issue a ticket in order for you to be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver.  The key to recovering compensation is showing that the other driver was at fault for the accident, and most police officers assign fault for a collision even if they don’t write a ticket.

FAQ: Am I Safer in an SUV or Car?

The debate has endured for years with no clear cut winner.

While SUVs are larger and seemingly better able to protect passengers, they can have a tendency to roll over, greatly increasing the likelihood of death.  Cars, on the other hand, typically roll over less than SUVs, but their smaller size may leave passengers less protected in an accident.

So, which vehicle is safer?

A 2007 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which focused on crash statistics from 2002 to 2005 and car model years ranging from 2001 to 2004, found that SUVs generally were safer than cars.  In a comparison of driver death rates by vehicle type, 12 of the 16 worst rated vehicles were cars.

Of the 15 best rated vehicles, SUVs accounted for 7 spots, while only 5 cars made the list.  It should be noted that there is some disparity among SUV types as the same study showed that SUVs classified as mid-sized or large were safer than SUVs categorized as small or very large.

Crash statistics from 2005 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) corroborate the IIHS’s findings.  According to the NHTSA, driver fatalities from any type of crash were less in SUVs than in cars, and the gap steadily widens each year.

While safety should always be your number one concern, you should also consider that West Virginians pay more to operate and to insure SUVs than typical passenger vehicle.

WARNING: DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU

It is so unfortunate that we often hear from people who have been injured in a car wreck in which the other driver was driving without any insurance – a bad enough situation on its own.  But a bad situation can quickly turn into a disaster if the person who was injured was not carrying enough uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

Medical bills from serious injuries can easily run hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving you in financial ruin and unable to cover the costs of your injuries.

The best way to protect yourself is by buying higher levels of UM/UIM coverage.  UM/UIM coverage is very inexpensive (in some cases, $1 million of coverage can cost you less than an additional $50 per year for your premium), plus it will cover you in the event that the person who causes the accident doesn’t have auto insurance or has less than you do.

In West Virginia, it is critical to consider both UM and UIM coverages.  While UM coverage is mandatory, UIM coverage is not.  This leads many folks, especially in the current state of our economy, to refuse UIM coverage – a huge mistake.

UM/UIM insurance can pay for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages and any pain and suffering damages you are entitled to as well as provide coverage for future medical bills.  If you are unsure if you have adequate insurance coverage of have questions about UM/UIM coverage, please contact our office.

                   

7 Ways to Steer Clear of an Accident

As personal injury attorneys who handle a number of serious accident claims during the course of any given year, we see firsthand the terrible toll that wrecks have on our community.  According to the State of West Virginia, over 24,000 people per year are killed or injured on West Virginia highways. This means that, on average, one person is killed every day and someone is injured every 20 minutes.

While no one can completely eliminate risk when they get behind the wheel, there are certain things that drivers can do to help reduce their risk of being involved in a serious accident.

Here are 7 great tips for being safer on the road:

  1. Avoid driving at night.  Not only is it harder to see at night, but there also are other dangers such as more drunk drivers on the road.
  2. Scan ahead.  Sure, it makes sense to keep an eye on the vehicle that is directly in front of you, but if you can scan the road ahead of that vehicle as well, you may be able to avoid a problem if it develops.
  3. Watch out for damaged vehicles.  Check out the condition of cars around you.  A car with lots of body damage could be an indicator of a possible inattentive driver.
  4. Keep your hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions of the steering wheel.  This allows for maximum control of the vehicle.
  5. Stay out of the far left lane.  Most highway accidents occur in the “fast lane,” plus you have fewer options to avoid a wreck if one occurs while you’re in the left lane.
  6. Watch your blind spots.  While it’s important to use your side mirrors, don’t rely solely on them.  Turn your head to look into the lane next to you when changing lanes.
  7. Don’t drive distracted.  Eating, talking/texting on a cell phone, applying makeup, reading, checking your GPS, having four or more people in a car, etc., can all be distractions that can cause an accident.

The Facebook Problem

Currently, there are over 500 million active Facebook accounts across the globe.  Of the 206 million people in the United States who use the internet, it is estimated that over 71 percent of them are using Facebook.  What you may not know, though, is that if you are an active Facebook user and have recently filed a personal injury lawsuit, you could end up jeopardizing your claim.

You can be sure that the opposing attorneys will do everything they can to minimize your claim or refute it entirely, and they sometimes find a treasure trove of information on social media sites like Facebook to make their job easier.  For example, if you are claiming an injury in your lawsuit that hinders your ability to move around or perform daily tasks, it’s probably not a good idea to post photos on your page of you playing football or dancing at a club after the date your accident occurred.

Your Facebook friend list presents another golden opportunity for investigators as it can help them stumble upon damaging information about you that was posted by your buddies on your page.

Many people mistakenly believe that privacy settings on Facebook will prohibit opposing attorneys from accessing their pages, but the defense can ask the judge to require written authorization from you for access to your Facebook account.  Even if that request is denied and your privacy settings only allow your Facebook friends to see your page, you still may run into problems.  A creative investigator for the opposing counsel could trick you into being “friends,” leaving your Facebook account open to scrutiny.

For plaintiffs in the midst of a personal injury lawsuit, it is highly recommended that using Facebook be strictly avoided until after the case is over.