Texas Personal Injury News

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cell Phone Use Involved In Texas Crash Leading To Jury Award

Can you be awarded damages if you were injured in an auto accident that involved call phone use?

Automobile accidents are one of the most common causes of injury and death in the United States. The use of cell phones has made driving much more dangerous activity than it once was.  It is estimated that drivers distracted by cell phones cause as many as one quarter of the country’s car crashes every year.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mineral Royalties Lawsuits Rising from the Oil Bust

What is the value of CO2 in the oil sector?

There are vast numbers of mineral rights owners in the state of Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest, some of whom have been bringing lawsuits against energy producers for not paying the proper royalty compensation. Recently, a Denver resident, Jack Grynberg, was awarded $1.5 million by a Texas jury which found that ExxonMobil failed to act in good faith in connection with royalty payments for CO2 rights. Mr. Grynberg owns royalty rights on federal lands in southwest Colorado that has large reserves of the gas.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Volkswagen Facing Deceptive Practice Claims by the FTC

What is the fallout from VW's diesel emission controversy?

As has been widely reported, Volkswagen Group was found to have rigged its line of diesel vehicles with computer software designed to cheat emissions tests. The German automaker has been the target of a criminal investigation, as well as a wave of lawsuits. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is also on the case having accused VW of deceptive practices for falsely advertising its diesel vehicles' significantly reduced emissions.

Deceptive and Unfair Practices

The FTC has enforcement authority to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices. These practices include misrepresentation, false advertising and other deceptive, fraudulent or unethical methods utilized to obtain business.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Years After Officer's Death, Texas County Sues His Family for Medical Expenses

Does the statute of limitations bar a county from trying to recover medical costs after waiting for five years?

In 2010, a Texas sheriff's deputy responded to a call seeking assistance with a traffic stop of a possible stolen car. With flashing lights and siren on, he sped to the scene but, en route, had to swerve to avoid soundproofing that fell off a flatbed truck. Gravely injured, he died eight days later in the hospital.

The deputy's father and son both sued the company that owned the flatbed truck and its driver. The deputy's widow settled with the company separately, out of court.

Years later, Fort Bend County has sued the widow and her two children seeking recovery of $300,000 in medical costs it paid when the officer was hospitalized before his death.

The county says it "is entitled to the first monies paid by any third party," notably the funds the trucking company to paid the victim's family.

Attorneys for the victim's family say that the county missed its chance to sue and is now barred by the statute of limitations, which, they say, expired two years after the accident. There were, say the attorneys, at least two previous opportunities for the county to try to recover the medical costs, but now, five years on, it is too late.

A local petition drive has expressed outrage that the county is seeking reimbursement from the late officer's family and has called upon Fort Bend to drop the suit. The county insists it is duty-bound to try to recover taxpayers' funds. The family of the victim, however, regards the lawsuit as "a sucker punch.” As of this writing, the case was still moving forward.

Surviving a personal tragedy emotionally is, sadly, often only part of the challenge. Often a pitched legal battle ensues over fair compensation for plaintiffs, with defendants launching unexpected defenses and counterattacks. If you have suffered from the carelessness or wrongdoing of others, it is important to have an expert personal injury law firm on your side to help you gain and keep the upper hand.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Serious Consequences, Including Cobalt Toxicity, Result from Metal Hip Implants

What are some of the dangerous complications of having metal hip replacements?

Though many recipients of metal hip implants have been completely satisfied with their medical devices, thousands of patients who have gone through the surgery have reported serious problems. It a great many cases, such dissatisfaction has resulted in recalls, lawsuits, and even government action.

While over the past many years, metal hip replacements have become increasingly common as an improvement on plastic and ceramic prosthetics for replacement of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip, promising relief from the severe pain of osteoarthritis or athletic injury, there has been a high rate of complications with these metal devices. This has been true whether the patients having metal hip replacements were over or under the age of 50. Since 285,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed each year, and since medical research has shown a failure rate as high as 50 percent within six months, we are talking about a very serious problem.

Types of Problems Reported with Metal Hip Implants

Many types of problems have arisen with metal hip implants, including:

  • Metal debris left inside the body
  • Cobalt Toxicity, when flakes of cobalt enter the body
  • Other metallosis, when metallic components in implants abrade one another

When metal hip replacements fail, they require surgical replacement.

Symptoms of Metallosis and Cobalt Toxicity

Metallosis occurs when two portions of the joint replacement rub against one another, causing metal flakes to chip off and enter adjacent tissues and blood vessels. This can result in pain around the hip joint, as well as swelling and inflammation, numbness, bone loss, tissue death, and a recurrence of mobility problems. Even more frightening, metal flakes can travel to other organs, such as the heart, leading to dangerous complications.

Cobalt Toxicity

In addition to the symptoms brought about by other types of metallosis, when cobalt has been used as the material for the hip replacement, patients may also suffer from cobalt toxicity. Elevated cobalt levels can result in fever, inflammation, and lowered thyroid hormone levels. In severe cases, patients can also experience heart failure, loss of vision, loss of hearing, and organ damage.

Recalls and Lawsuits

Because of the high rate of failure in metal hip replacements, most manufacturers no longer sell them. Not only did the various patient injuries lead to widespread negative media coverage, increased research studies, and elevated levels of government regulation, but thousands of patients filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of the defective replacement hips. Some manufacturers have already settled hip replacement lawsuits. Johnson and Johnson (the parent company of DePuy Orthopedics), for example, has agreed to settle claims for $2.5 billion. Lawsuits against other metal hip replacement manufacturers are still pending.

If you have suffered personal injury or illness as a result of an artificial hip replacement or the implantation of some other medical device, be sure to contact an attorney experienced in this particular branch of law to find out whether you are entitled to monetary compensation. You may be entitled to a new replacement joint, as well as damages even if you have not yet experienced any pain or difficulty.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Texas Man Files Product Liability Lawsuit against Gun Manufacturer Following Loss of Leg

Consumer product manufacturers are under a heightened duty to ensure their goods are safe and hazard-free. If a product is dangerous, with the potential to cause injury, manufacturers design the product in the safest way possible to help minimize the risk of severe, catastrophic injuries, and must issue clear warnings as well.

With extremely dangerous items, like guns or explosives, manufacturers are under what is known as a “strict” product liability standard –- or, the product is so inherently dangerous, the plaintiff will prevail in his or her lawsuit regardless of any applicable defenses to the plaintiff’s allegations.

Relying on these principles, a Texas man recently filed a product liability lawsuit against Remington, the gun manufacturer, after losing his leg to an accidental gunshot wound. According to the allegations, a defect in the man’s hunting rifle –- known as the “Model 700” – caused the gun to discharge unexpectedly.  More specifically, the man alleges he was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle while on a hunting trip with friends. Immediately preceding the injury, a friend handed him the rifle – muzzle side down – after which he transferred the gun from his right side to the left. In so doing, the gun went off, striking the man’s right leg, and ultimately requiring an amputation.

Remington rifles have been named in an onslaught of lawsuits, particularly pertaining to problems with the trigger—which is known to discharge the weapon without actually being pulled. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that a bolt located near the trigger will cause the gun to discharge when simply tapped or bumped, creating an exceedingly dangerous situation for consumers.

Recently, Remington settled a series of trigger-defect lawsuits involving its previous design known as the “Walker Fire Control.” Its replacement trigger design, known as the “X-Mark Pro” has been subject to substantially fewer lawsuits, but consumers are claiming defects with the new design nonetheless.

If you are facing a recent injury with a consumer product, including an appliance, automobile or firearm, contact an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney promptly to discuss your legal options to obtain compensation.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Johnson & Johnson Negligent in Talc-Ovarian Cancer Case

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a St. Louis jury to pay $62 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer after using the company's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene. The company was found guilty of negligence, failure to warn (a key element of the case), and conspiracy to conceal risks associated with its products. Of the $72 million award, $10 million were for compensatory damages and $62 million were added for punitive damages.

The trial is the first of 1,200 ovarian cancer claims filed in the last two years against J&J and the company that supplied the talc -- the ingredient that was found to be the cause of the deceased woman's ovarian cancer. The company said in a statement that it is committed to the safety and health of consumers and reiterated its belief, "supported by decades of scientific evidence," that cosmetic talc is safe. J&J is expected to appeal the verdict.

During the trial, the company argued there was no evidence directly linking talc to ovarian cancer and without a causal connection, there was no reason to warn consumers of the risks.

The Grim Statistics of Ovarian Cancer

  • About 20,000 U.S. women annually are diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • The disease strikes about one in 70 women
  • More than 14,000 women die each year of the disease

As it relates to this case, there are studies, refuting J&J's claims of no causal connection, indicating a higher ovarian cancer rate of 35 percent in women who use talc-based powder for feminine hygiene. Moreover, the talc powders have been used by many women for long periods of time. Talc is said to be the "softest of minerals," which is widely used in industrial and consumer products, including paints, paper, rubber, roofing and ceramic materials, a filler in capsules and pills and in cosmetics, as well as a food additive.

Warning Signs of Talc and Ovarian Cancer

The potential of a possible link between talc and ovarian cancer was first revealed by British researchers in 1971 who found talc particles embedded in 10 ovarian tumors. More than 10 years later, a study in the journal Cancer showed a "statistical link" between genital talc use and ovarian cancer. A more recent study by a co-author of that report found a 33 percent higher rate of ovarian cancer among women who used talc for feminine hygiene. Moreover, in a prior case against J&J in 2013, a jury found the company guilty of failure to warn of the ovarian cancer risks, but awarded no damages because they were not convinced of a direct link to talc use.

Based on these studies, some health advocates have been calling on talc manufacturers to warn against using the products for genital hygiene. While it remains to be seen whether J&J will prevail in its appeal, the possible link between talc and ovarian cancer, and the company's failure to warn consumers, will be the overarching issue in the 1,200 claims the company is facing. In the end, proving negligence because of a failure to warn requires the skills of a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in product liability law.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Family Sues Utility for Wrongful Death after It Cuts Off Power to Oxygen Machine

Can a power company be liable for damages when it cuts off electricity for non-payment? 

Patients who depend on oxygen machines to survive require electricity 24/7. Tragically, when the Sam Houston Electric Company cut power to one of its subscribers for non-payment of $129.62, the result proved fatal. The family of the deceased is seeking in excess of $1 million in damages for

Read more . . .

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Legislating Reduction of Health Risks from Tainted Medical Devices

Can new warning system help track negligence regarding medical products?

Tragically, many serious infections and deaths have been spread in hospital settings because of tainted medical scopes. This shocking finding, recently reported by members of Congress, federal officials and health-policy experts, has prompted intense dissatisfaction with the FDA's surveillance system for such devices, a system which is clearly inadequate, relying too heavily on manufacturer's reportage of problems with their own products.

 Being aware of the serious problem is the easy part; remedying the federal warning system to warn doctors and patients of the risk of scopes, implants and surgical tools is much more challenging, involving as it does overcoming partisan Congressional divides and involving increased government funding. Many foresee years before a more effective system can be put into place.

Patient advocates and federal auditors are not the only ones with doubts about the FDA's commitment and ability to reform the system, since there has been criticism of agency oversight of medical devices since the 1990s. As recently as January 13th of this year, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) presented evidence of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria, originating from defective duodenoscopes (used for gastrointestinal examinations and procedures) that had spread throughout the country. In addition, Senators investigating the problem cited 19 superbug outbreaks that had sickened nearly 200 patients for 2012 to 2015. Amidst concern that these outbreaks were occurring, no substantive action was taken, and 68 more patients developed serious infection.

Sen. Murray has proposed a new system for tracking medical devices that would make use of insurance claims to supplement injury forms. Such a system would be similar to the method now used to monitor prescription drugs which works in a much more timely fashion. Robert M. Califf, President Obama’s nominee for FDA commissioner, has endorsed this data-driven approach.

One aspect of the new proposal, putting bar codes on every instrument, is already underway, being phased in over the next few years. Unless such bar codes are included on insurance claim forms, however, they are unlikely to be of much help. The hope is that tracking device IDs will work as car ID numbers do, enabling patients across the country to be notified promptly in regard to a defect device so that they could be checked for signs of possible infection immediately at the nearest hospital.

If you have suffered an infection or injury as a result of a defective medical device, you should contact personal injury attorneys with specific knowledge of the law surrounding defective medical devices so that you can be appropriately compensated for your pain, suffering, and/or resulting disability.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Family Files $500 million Negligence Lawsuit After Fatal House Fire

 In an unbelievable Christmas Day tragedy, a couple was killed and a dozen more people were injured when an unexpected explosion rocketed the roof right off a San Benito, Texas home – and now, surviving loved ones want answers. According to preliminary information, the explosion was caused by a possible propane leak affecting a tank immediately adjacent to the home. And, in a Read more . . .

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Basics of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Under what circumstances, and how, do personal injury cases proceed?

Personal Injury cases are legal disputes arising from a circumstance in which one person suffers harm from an accident or injury and believes that someone else or some other entity (such as a corporation) is legally responsible for the resulting physical and emotional harm.

The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, either before a lawsuit is filed, once one has been filed, or even after the case goes to the judge or jury.

The Stages of a Personal Injury Case

The stages of a personal injury case may include some, or all, of the following: 

  • Attorney consultation to discuss details of case and to see if you two are a good fit
  • Filing initial court papers
  • Fact-finding and discovery, including getting information from the opposing team regarding physical evidence, witnesses, and medical data
  • Resolution before trial -- frequently there are Motions to Dismiss before trial
  • Settlement -- in most cases lawyers on both sides negotiate a settlement, sometimes a structured settlement
  • Trial -- if the case is not settled, it goes to trial
  • Collecting money after judgment
  • Appealing a decision or judgment

There may be a limited time frame after the injury occurs during which a personal claim may be filed.
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