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Personal Injury

Fewer People Want Self-Driving Cars After Uber Accident
Fewer People Want Self-Driving Cars After Uber Accident 150 150 admin

Are self-driving vehicles safe?

Many of us have long dreamed of the day when we could stretch out in the backseat while our car seamlessly drives us to our destination. Mass production of fully autonomous cars is just around the corner, but with the technology so near, now public support is waning in the wake of the serious Uber accident. As more self-driving vehicle accidents happen, and the public continues to fear these innovative new vehicles, the quest to release a fully autonomous car to the public could stall.

The Arizona Uber Accident

Self-driving cars are touted as being far safer than traditional automobiles. Statistically, driver error is the number one cause of car accidents nationwide. By eliminating the human element, safety experts believe that self-driving vehicles will greatly reduce the number of car accidents overall. Nonetheless, a few accidents involving self-driving vehicles have led many to question the true safety of these still in testing vehicles.

In March, an Uber self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian. The car, a Volvo XC90, was operating in autonomous mode with a human driver present behind the wheel. Reports indicate that the vehicle was traveling at 40 miles per hour when it struck a woman walking her bike across the street. The accident happened at night and it is still unclear as to why the vehicle did not detect the pedestrian and stop in time to prevent the crash. Additionally, the safety driver was distracted at the time of the crash.

While this is the first pedestrian accident linked to an autonomous vehicle, there have been other fatal crashes involving cars in autopilot mode. Autopilot has some features like autonomous vehicles, including lane keep and automatic braking, but requires drivers pay attention and react to dangers. There have been several accidents involving Tesla vehicles in autopilot mode.

Accidents involving autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles serve as a reminder to us all that these technologies are still in the testing phase. Fully autonomous vehicles are not ready as of yet for release to the public. With additional testing and continued development, most automakers remain hopeful that autonomous vehicles will one day surpass traditional cars in safety. The question remains, however, will the public ever fully adopt autonomous vehicles or will they continue to fear this new mode of transportation? If you have been involved in a car accident with an autonomous vehicle, a personal injury attorney can help. Contact Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC to schedule a consultation.

New Study Suggests Traumatic Injuries Are Linked to Mental Health Issues
New Study Suggests Traumatic Injuries Are Linked to Mental Health Issues 150 150 admin

Why might major injuries lead to mental health problems?

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) suggest an alarming and perhaps underexplored link between major traumatic injuries, like car crashes and falls, and mental health diagnoses.  With over three million people injured in car accidents annually and millions of others harmed in falls and other accidents, research into the long term effects of such injuries is of critical importance. Our Houston, Texas personal injury lawyers discuss the findings in the CMAJ and what they could mean for accident victims.

Trauma Increases Hospital Admissions for Mental Health diagnoses

Researchers examined the accident and mental health history of 19,000 patients in Ontario.  The majority of those patients who had suffered major trauma were men who lived in urban areas and suffered an accidental injury.  Researchers found that major trauma was linked to a 40 percent increase in the rate of hospital admissions for one or more mental health diagnoses.  

Children and teens had the largest increase in mental health hospitalizations after suffering trauma.  Suicide was also found in increased rates among those who experienced a major physical injury, raising from 11.5 suicides per 100,000 in the general population to an astonishing 70 suicides per 100,000 among injured patients.  

Reasons for the suspected rise in mental health issues and suicides after major trauma are likely complex and not yet fully understood.  Major injuries can have an impact on a patient both physically and mentally. Patients may experience depression as a result of losing mobility or being forced to take time off of work and other activities.  Anxiety could stem from the trauma of the incident, with many car accident victims experiencing ongoing stress when traveling or engaging in other triggering activities.

In addition to the emotional consequences stemming from the accident, major trauma often involves head injuries.  Brain injuries are linked to mental health issues, likely as a result of long lasting damage to the brain itself. The brain is a complex organ and scientists are just now starting to fully understand how injuries to the brain may have greater consequences than we previously thought.  As we uncover the link between major injuries and mental health issues, it becomes all the more important to ensure accident victims are given counseling and closely monitored in the years following the accident.

How Do You Prove Intoxication in a Personal Injury Case?
How Do You Prove Intoxication in a Personal Injury Case? 150 150 admin

Driving is by no means inherently safe. With human beings operating cars and trucks there leaves much room for error. But when an individual drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – both illegal and prescription – their intoxication can have very serious effects on the safety of themselves and others.

Driving While Intoxicated

In Texas, anyone who drives while intoxicated is committing the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If an intoxicated driver causes injury to another individual, the evidence of their intoxication can be used as evidence against them in a personal injury case.

Plaintiff Still Has Burden of Proof

It is important to remember that just because someone intoxicated gets into an accident with another person, he or she is not automatically guilty in civil court. When it comes to a case of negligence, the plaintiff who is suing still carries the burden of proving four elements (duty; breach; causation; damages).

When it comes to proving causation, the plaintiff must still prove that the crash occurred because of the defendant’s conduct, and that conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant can still argue that they were not at fault for the crash, and that the plaintiff either caused the crash, their injuries were not a direct result of the accident, or they contributed to the damages.

NTSB Investigates Crash of Impaired Driver

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released its findings in an investigation of a crash, which occurred in Texas that resulted in 13 fatalities because of a driver under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs.

The NTSB found that the driver was responsible for the crash due to the fact that he could not safely operate his truck because he was impaired. He was said to be driving erratically before crashing into a church bus that was transporting seniors from a three-day church retreat. The crash killed the bus driver as well as 12 of its 13 passengers.

The Aftermath of the Crash

According to the NTSB there were marijuana cigarettes, over-the-counter, and prescription medication as well as other drug paraphernalia in the truck. The driver also tested positive for marijuana and the sedative, clonazepam, of which he admitted that he had taken twice the prescribed dose. The twenty-year-old driver was then charged with multiple counts of intoxication manslaughter. He is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading no contest.

What To Do if You’ve Been the Victim of a Car Crash with a Drunk Driver

If you have been the victim of a car crash that involved a drunk driver, it is so important that you are compensated for any damages that you sustained from it and that the impaired driver is held accountable. That is why you should contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney who can help you to navigate your situation and get you what you deserve.

 

A “Never Event” Leads to Malpractice Suit
A “Never Event” Leads to Malpractice Suit 150 150 admin

What is a “never-event”?

Some people have no luck–on the road or in the operating room.

If you are a victim of a car accident, you could be facing months, years, or even a lifetime of medical treatment, surgeries and rehabilitation as a result of the injuries you suffered. You may not be able to work in your current occupation for some time, if ever.

If the injuries were caused by the reckless, negligent, or intentional actions of another person or entity, you can commence a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensatory damages. Depending on the circumstances, damage awards may include compensation for your current and future medical expenses and rehabilitation costs, current and future lost income or diminished earning capacity, physical and psychological damages, and more, provided you can prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries.

The extremely unfortunate may encounter alleged medical malpractice during the course of post-accident medical treatment. Medical malpractice falls within the realm of personal injury law in that the victim is injured by the negligent actions or inactions of medical personnel who breached the medically-accepted standard of care expected.

A woman who had been injured in a car accident reportedly underwent lower back fusion surgery and was unexpectedly told upon waking that “one of her kidneys has been unnecessarily removed”.

According to the woman’s attorney, the surgeon– whose only responsibility was to open the patient so that other surgeons could perform the back-fusion procedure–allegedly mistook her healthy kidney for a tumor and “declared an emergency and removed it”, obviously without the consent of the anesthetized patient. Such “never-event” actions are known as “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors” that should never have happened.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed in a car accident or any other accident, or as a result of medical malpractice by a doctor, hospital, or medical staff, the personal injury attorneys at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley P.C. may help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact the office today to schedule a free consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, Texas, we represent injured victims and their families throughout Texas as well as those injured while visiting the Lone Star state.

Feds Claim Protection from Sutherland Springs Liability Under the Brady Act
Feds Claim Protection from Sutherland Springs Liability Under the Brady Act 150 150 admin

The Federal government has filed a motion with the intent to dismiss several lawsuits filed against the United States Air Force by victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre. It is claiming that a law that was intended to prevent gun violence also shields them from any liability.

What Happened?

On Nov. 5, 2017, 26-year-old, Devin Patrick Kelley perpetrated the deadliest mass shooting in Texas and the fifth deadliest in the United States. It was also not surprisingly, the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in the modern era. He opened fire inside and around the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people and injured 20 others.

Failure to Record

Kelley, a former member of the United States Air Force, had been prohibited from purchasing or possessing any firearms due to a previous domestic violence conviction in a court-martial. However, the Air Force never filed the conviction in the FBI National Crime Information Center Database. The database serves as a tool to help the National Instant Check System to flag any prohibited purchases.

At least five lawsuits have been filed and consolidated in San Antonio federal court concerning the shooting. The suits claim that the Air Force should be held liable for its failure to report Kelley’s domestic violence conviction into the database. He had been kicked out of the military in 2014, having spent a year prior behind bars for part of a 2012 plea deal surrounding the beating of his then-wife and stepson.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

The plaintiffs assert that Kelley would have been unable to purchase any firearms, such as the ones he bought between 2012 and 2014, and the one he used during the attack, had his conviction been in the system. The lawsuits reference the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.

The government has cited a number of cases concerning the Act, claiming that the laws they reference should shield Air Force personnel from any bureaucratic mishaps. Lawyers for the Justice Department, which is currently defending the Air Force, has expressed that statutory immunity shield the United States from any liability to the plaintiffs in this case. “The federal statute on which the plaintiffs primarily base their claims (the Brady Act) expressly provides that no liability for damages may be imposed on employees of the federal government to prevent the sale of a firearm to a person prohibited by law from receiving it,” they wrote.

Watching the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

It should be interesting to watch how this plays out, as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence had no comment on this case, though it filed a brief in 2015 arguing against the government’s shield claim in the case of Charleston, S.C. church shooter and white supremacist, Dylann Roof. Roof shot and killed nine African-American worshippers.

Hot Air Balloon Crashes in Texas, Kills 16 People
Hot Air Balloon Crashes in Texas, Kills 16 People 150 150 admin

Was the pilot of the hot air balloon that crashed in Texas responsible?

As idyllic as hot air balloon rides may seem, they involve risks, just like any other form of transportation. As a matter of fact, they appear to involve far greater risks. As far back as 2013, a report by an FAA safety official vigorously recommended that the same level of oversight be applied to the commercial balloon industry as to airplane and helicopter tour companies, but that recommendation has not yet being followed. Stories like the recent one concerning the deaths of 16 people in the crash of a hot air balloon near Lockhart, Texas may give pause to potential passengers who wonder whether the spectacular views are worth risking their lives for.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injury as a result of an accident due to the negligence of another, you have legal recourse to obtain compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In such situations, you should contact a highly skilled attorney as soon as possible.

The Disturbing Details Concerning the Pilot of this Balloon Crash

It turns out the pilot of the hot air balloon that crashed this past July, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, was permitted to pilot that balloon in spite of:

  • Having received at least four convictions for drunk driving in Missouri
  • Twice having been imprisoned
  • Having been twice stripped of his driver’s license, each time for 10 years
  • Having complaints filed against him for canceling numerous balloon trips without refunds
  • Having complaints against his balloon-ride companies in Illinois and Missouri going back to 1997

Horribly for the victims of this crash, there were red flags galore indicating that Nichols shouldn’t have been piloting a balloon. As an injured victim of a crash 3 years ago in the suburbs of St. Louis declared in her court case against him, “He couldn’t drive a car, but he could pilot a hot air balloon.”

How do credentials differ for hot air balloon pilots and commercial airplane pilots?

Amazingly, pilots applying for a balloon piloting certificate are only required to disclose drug, and not drunk driving, convictions. If Nichols had been a pilot of a commercial airline, he would have been grounded a long time ago, but tragically the laws have not caught up with his situation. While the FAA might permit a recovering alcoholic to fly commercial jets if the pilot could demonstrate successfully completed treatment, it is highly unlikely that an airline pilot who had previous convictions for DUI would be allowed to pilot a commercial aircraft.

Unlike other pilots, balloon pilots do not even have to get regular medical exams from FAA-certified examiners. They are only required to write a statement certifying that they have “no medical defect” that would limit their ability to pilot a balloon, whereas commercial plane pilots must answer questions on alcohol dependence or abuse and convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The obvious flaws and inequities in the law put the public at terrible risk of injury in hot air balloon rides. If you have been injured, or if someone you love has suffered a wrongful death, as the result of a balloon or other pilot’s negligence, you should contact a competent personal injury attorney to make certain you receive the compensation you deserve.

Bellwether Trials Test Climate on GM Ignition Switch Litigation
Bellwether Trials Test Climate on GM Ignition Switch Litigation 150 150 admin

Over the past several years, execution protocol has come under fire across the United States – most notably following a “botched” execution in Oklahoma wherein the chemical cocktail took nearly 18 minutes to ultimately prove fatal. While the death penalty is undoubtedly controversial in the U.S., the state of Texas has a long and storied history surrounding its use of capital punishment. In August 2016, a Texas federal court reviewed the state’s execution protocols, and concluded that there are currently no instances of wrongful misconduct or issues involving the cocktail used to execute inmates.

In 2012, the state of Texas amended its lethal injection procedure. At the time, prisons were relying on a three-drug mixture designed to slow breathing, sedate the inmate, and ultimately stop the heart. Following the changes, the state began relying on a compounded form of pentobarbital – which has been used successfully and “without any problems” in 30 executions.

Q: What happens to individual cases when hundreds of people claim to have been injured by the same product?

It’d be wonderful if every product marketed and sold to the public was safe. But despite safety regulations and what’s presumed to be the best efforts of designers and manufacturers, some products that make it to the market are defective. And those product defects can cause personal injury or wrongful death to unsuspecting and innocent consumers.

Imagine driving your car. It started fine, is running well, and you’re enjoying the drive. You’re confident that the car will continue running until turned off and that your air bag system will work if you have an accident. Those are reasonable assumptions. Unfortunately, as two young drivers in two separate one-car, low speed crashes learned, air bags don’t always deploy upon impact.

The two women, from Virginia and Kentucky, brought legal action against their vehicles’ manufacturer, General Motors Company, alleging that a faulty ignition switch caused the air bags to fail in their cases and resulted in them suffering serious personal injuries.  The ignition switches—which can suddenly jostle out of position while travelling and turn off the engine and the air bags– were the subject of a massive 2.6 million car world-wide recall in 2014 and have been blamed for at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries. Both women’s cases recently settled for undisclosed sums.

Their cases are just two of hundreds of state and federal ignition switch claims against GM. And over a hundred more cases could be added if claims from before GM’s 2009 bankruptcy are allowed. GM allegedly knew of the defect for over a decade before instituting the recall.

These two cases are part of a series of about a half-dozen so-called bellwether cases…a representative sampling of cases related to the same claim or theory which are chosen as test cases for the purpose of setting parameters for the resolution of a multitude of similar claims. Two other bellwether cases, in Louisiana and Texas, were won by GM after it was determined after trial that the ignition switch issue was not the cause of those particular accidents, and another was dismissed when the plaintiff was caught lying during the trial.

These bellwether cases, with their varied outcomes, indicate that juries are weighing the issue of causation heavily in each individual case and are expecting the plaintiff’s to meet their burden of proving the defect was to blame in their particular case. This gives defense counsel parameters for offering to settle cases that are strong and to consider litigating weaker ones. Likewise, plaintiffs with weak causation arguments may be inclined to accept a settlement rather than going to trial.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a product defect, an experienced attorney can help your get the compensation you deserve. Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC has offices in Houston and Lufkin Texas and serves clients throughout Texas as well as many other states. Contact us at 800.657.2230 or online.

Perilous Prescriptions: Nexium, Levaquin and Invokana
Perilous Prescriptions: Nexium, Levaquin and Invokana 150 150 admin

What can I do if I am injured by a prescription medication?

Today, due to advances in medicine, more individuals rely on prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions. While these drugs are often touted as being highly effective and advertised as such, a number of medications have caused injuries that have resulted in lawsuits. In light of this, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with any medication.

Which prescriptions drugs are leading to lawsuits in the U.S.?

Nexium

For individuals suffering with acid reflux or peptic ulcer disease, Prilosec was the first treatment to hit the market in 1998. This proton pump inhibitor was ultimately replaced by many doctors in favor of Nexium, which is designed to block the release of acid to the stomach. Now, the drug has been linked to an increase in the risk of chronic kidney disease. In addition, proton pump inhibitors generally may also lead to an increased risk of heart attack, bone fracture and magnesium deficiency. Nexium in particular has also been associated with higher risk factors for liver toxicity and birth defects.

Avelox and Levaquin

Currently, new classes of antibiotics, known as fluroquinolones, have also been introduced to treat infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. The drugs, while known to be effective, have also been linked to serious side effects, particularly the drugs Avelox and Levaquin. The issue here is that the side effects can take years to present and then are manifested in aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm, and nerve damage.

Invokana

Invokana is designed to help individuals suffering from diabetes by improving kidney function and removing sugar from the body. The drug is intended to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise. Presently, lawsuits have been brought against manufacturers who failed to warn physicians and patients that the drug could lead to increased risk of kidney failure and heart attacks. The drug has also been linked to ketoacidosis, or insufficient insulin in the body which allows ketones to enter the blood stream.

The Takeaway

Nexium, Levaquin and Invokana are only a few of the prescription medications that have caused injuries that are the basis for lawsuits. Regardless of the medical condition you are suffering, it is crucial to have as much information about the side effects and other risks so that you can make an informed decision about your medical care. Moreover, when pharmaceutical companies bring medications to the market, they have a responsibility to make sure these drugs are safe. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective drug, a personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

Head-on Collision in Huffman, Texas Kills Two
Head-on Collision in Huffman, Texas Kills Two 150 150 admin

What causes head-on accidents in Texas?

A horrific head-on accident recently claimed the lives of a seven-year-old boy and 25-year-old woman.  The accident happened around 7 p.m. on FM 1960 in Huffman.  Witnesses report that the driver of a Yukon had been traveling at a high rate of speed while weaving in and out of traffic.  The Yukon driver clipped a Mazda sedan, causing it to veer out of control and into the path of a Dodge Durango.  Neither driver could avoid the head-on crash.  Police are still investigating the accident and the driver of the swerving Yukon agreed to a voluntary blood draw at the scene of the crash. 

Causes of Head-on Accidents

Head-on accidents most often happen when two vehicles traveling in the opposite direction collide with one another.  Negligence is the number one cause of head-on car accidents.  Some circumstances that lead to head-on accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Tire blowouts
  • Unsafe passing
  • Driver fatigue
  • Speeding
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Poor road design
  • Missing or inadequate signage
  • Swerving to avoid obstacles
  • Poor weather conditions

Head-on accidents comprise less than five percent of all accidents, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but have the highest fatality rate of all types of accidents.  Head-on accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, including head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and even death.  These serious injuries can be extremely costly financially and emotionally. 

Compensation for Head-on Accidents

If you are injured in a head-on accident in Texas, you should consult with a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.  You may be able to seek compensation for your damages incurred in the accident from the at-fault driver that caused the crash.  Potential damages include coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and much more. 

It is imperative that you act fast after the accident because vital evidence could be lost if not immediately gathered. Investigations after a head-on accident include a review of the police report, interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence at the scene, subpoenaing traffic camera footage, and more.  Armed with this evidence, your attorney can build a strong case to secure the damages you deserve.

Big Rig Accident Kills One in Harris County
Big Rig Accident Kills One in Harris County 150 150 admin

Is speeding really that dangerous?

A recent crash between a big rig and a sedan resulted in one fatality in northwest Harris County.  The accident happened in the early morning hours near Walters Road.  Evidence gathered at the scene suggests that the driver of a Honda Accord was traveling on FM 1960 at a high rate of speed, possibly more than 100 miles per hour.  The driver hit the rear of an 18 wheeler that was moving slowly while pulling away from a traffic light.  Sadly, the speeding driver of the Accord sustained catastrophic injuries in the accident.  He was decapitated and thrown from his vehicle, and ultimately did not survive the crash.  While initial reports suggested the Accord driver may have been racing another vehicle, no evidence has been uncovered to support this theory as of yet.

Speeding Claims Lives

It may seem tempting to exceed the speed limit if you are in a rush or there are no other vehicles on the road, but it is important that you understand the true risks that come with speeding.  Speed is a factor in approximately a third of all car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Excessive speed results in the death of about 10,000 people each year and injuries to hundreds of thousands of others.  

Speeding can include exceeding posted speed limits as well as traveling too fast for road conditions.  Drivers who speed may not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident.  Further, the additional force that generates with speed can inflict devastating injuries.  Anyone injured in a speed-related car accident should contact an experienced Texas personal injury attorney.  Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence in support of your personal injury action.  Accident victims in Texas may be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more from the negligent speeding driver that caused your injuries.