Category Archives: Serious personal injury

A Guide to Herniated Disc Injuries

By David Macaulay, Veritas Legal Media – veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

Many back injuries sustained in car crashes will clear up over time, with the exception of severe spinal injuries caused by high impact crashes.

But herniated disc injuries can be caused by low speed rear-end crashes as well as high speed wrecks. They can cause the victim serious pain and may require costly surgery in some cases.

A herniated disc

The discs are round cushions that separate the vertebrae of the spinal column. They act like spinal shock absorbers. in the court room, attorneys  often compare them to jelly doughnuts when describing them to juries.

The stress caused to the spinal column by the impact and jolting of a serious car crash can cause the disc to rupture or to move out of place. These injuries are sometimes also referred to as slipped or ruptured discs. Herniated disks are often very painful because the displaced discs can protrude out into the spinal channel and push against the spinal nerves, causing severe pain that radiates into the back, neck, legs and even the hands.

Herniated discs can be a serious medical condition the accident victim will face for the rest of their lives. Many sufferers make the mistake of believing they will go away. If you suffer from an injury like this you should immediately see a doctor and also talk to a personal injury lawyer.

Common Symptoms of Herniated Discs

Back Pain: The pain associated with a herniated disc will appear suddenly and will usually be very intense. Lower back pain is the most common symptom because the most disks most likely to herniate in a car or truck accident are the bottom two in the spinal column.

Numbness in legs, back or hands: A loss of feeling or sensation is a common symptom of a herniated disc. In some cases the victim will experience difficulty walking or performing everyday tasks.

Invasive surgery may be required  in cases of herniated discs. It can be costly and complex, leading to potential complications. Insurance companies will seek to minimize the effect of back injuries that are not catastrophic. If you have suffered from a herniated disc, you will know it’s no small deal.

These kinds of cases often result in six figure settlements if another party is to blame for the accident, that party has good insurance cover and the victim had no preexisting condition.

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Filed under Back injuries, Serious personal injury

All the Danger of the Fun Fair

Veritas Legal Media – 757-582-1836 veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

In 2008 the fun of a fair in South Florida turned into a nightmare when a mother fractured her ribs and clavicle when the kiddie ride she was on with her son turned over and landed on top of her.

She is not the only victim of a fun fair or an amusement park.

The website rideaccidents.com, that describes itself as the world’s most comprehensive database on these accidents, contains details of numerous horrendous mishaps at fair grounds and fun fairs, some of which have ended up claiming the lives of those who took the rides.

In Feb. 2012, at Hopi Hari theme park in São Paulo, Brazil, a 14-year-old girl died after falling 80-90 feet from a drop tower named “La Tour Eiffel.”

It was a horrifying accident. The drop tower features cars that are pulled slowly up to the top of a 224-foot tall tower and then dropped 129 feet in a matter of seconds, reaching speeds of near 60 miles per hour.

Similar drop towers are found at amusement parks across the United States. The website reported that a 12-year-old boy was killed after he fell from a drop tower in 1999 at Paramount’s Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. The cause of that accident was never discovered.

In another accident human error was clearly to blame. In Nov. 2011, at the State Fair of Louisiana, a 4-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when a ride suddenly started as the ride operator unloaded passengers.

Reports suggested the ride operator left the control panel active, with its key engaged. As he helped children exit the ride, a child standing in line to board the ride pressed the start button on the control panel and the ride began to move, trapping the child underneath a car.

In August 2011, one of the deadliest fairground accidents in recent decades occurred when a carnival ride broke apart in Villacañas, Spain, sending a row of passenger seats flying across the fairground, killing three men and seriously injuring a girl.

The equipment had passed inspections according to reports, but clearly somebody was to blame because a major mechanical breakdown has occurred when equipment breaks apart in this manner.

In other cases liability can be less clear. In 2011, Abiah Jones, 11, was on a trip for honor-roll students when she plunged 150 feet from the Giant Wheel at Morey’s Mariner’s Landing Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey.

The girl’s parents filed a lawsuit against the ride’s operator. Although investigators could not discover how the girl got out of the gondola, her parents said the Ferris wheel should have had more restraints.

After the accident New Jersey’s supervisor of enforcement, Michael D. Triplett, issued a letter to operators of Ferris wheels with open compartments, saying the state is establishing a minimum height requirement of 54 inches for children going on rides without a parent or guardian, as well as recommending the minimum of two riders, ABC news reported.

According to a 2010 report from the National Safety Council, the estimated number of injuries on fixed-site rides nationwide was 1,086, or 0.6 per million patron rides.

There’s a perception that the top tier amusement parks in central Florida, have safety standards that are as high as their admission prices.

But an investigation by the Orlando Sentinel in 2009 questioned amusement park safety. The newspaper found almost 500 suits had been filed against the parks between 2004 and 2008, and 101 of them dealt with rides or attractions.

The others related to “everything from food poisoning to scratches from a wayward vulture during a trained-bird show,” the Sentinel reported.

But riders are probably safer at places such as Universal and SeaWorld than anywhere else.

“They have to have a safe environment or they’re going to face a lawsuit,” Michael Spellman, a Tallahassee attorney who specializes in the Americans with Disabilities Act, told the Sentinel.

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Filed under Amusement park accidents, Serious personal injury, Wrongful Death

Ex-Railroad Worker is Awarded $4.5 Million over Painful Slip

Veritas Legal Media – 757-582-1836 veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

BODY – Tripping on the railroad may not seem like obvious grounds for a lawsuit against your employer.

But when the employer is a railroad company that has allowed weeds to grow so high that the dangers are not readily apparent, it’s the grounds for a multi-million dollar verdict, a jury in Roanoke, Virginia decided.

See this video of a Norfolk Southern derailment.

The jury awarded $4.5 million to former Norfolk Southern Corp. conductor and brakeman Welsh Davis after he tripped on a cross tie along tracks, the Associated Press reported.

The result of the 2008 trip was a torn tendon that left the railway worker in constant pain and unable to work. His lawyer successfully argued the weeds had grown so high around the cross tie that Davis was unable to see the  trip danger and his workplace was an unsafe one.

Railroad workers are not covered by workers’ compensation. That’s where the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) comes in, although an employer’s negligence needs to be proved for a claim to be successful.

In other cases involving Norfolk Southern

* A conductor who suffered a traumatic brain injury at a Chicago rail yard in April 2005, when a faulty step collapsed was awarded $17 million against Norfolk Southern by a jury.

* Norfolk Southern worker David Rogers whose knee was badly injured when he slipped and fell as he tried to mount runaway railcars in a bid to prevent a crash in a Tennessee rail yard in 2002, was awarded $2.3 million.

*A brakeman whose foot was severed when he fell under a train in a Norfolk Southern yard in Delaware in 2005 after cars were incorrectly coupled was awarded $5.5 million

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Filed under FELA, Railroad, Serious personal injury, Slip and fall

Claiming for a Slip and Fall Injury

Veritas Legal Media – 757-582-1836 – veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

A case that was settled last year against PetSmart in Newport News, Virginia was a high profile example of a slip and fall lawsuit.

In Feb. 2011, PetSmart settled a federal lawsuit over allegations that employees at its Newport News store failed to clean up dog feces, leading a customer to slip and injure himself. The pet supply store and Robert W. Holloway of Poquoson, VA reached an agreement to avoid trial. It’s not known how much this case was settled for.

 Mr. Holloway and his daughter were at the Jefferson Avenue store on Jan. 18, 2009, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported. As he headed for the pet treats aisle, “my left foot slipped in a pile of dog feces that was not visible,” Mr. Holloway stated in court documents.

Mr. Holloway said after slipping on the feces he grabbed hold of his daughter and wrenched his back. “The dog feces in question was not open and obvious,” he said in legal documents.

 The fall had painfu and long-lasting consequencesl, leading to Mr. Holloway to have to undergo a back operation.

 The PetSmart case was unusual; more typically victims fall on wet floors. In a recent case in Georgia (GA) a man who slipped on a floor of a Kroger store and damaged his spine was awarded $2.3 million.

 As an experienced personal injury lawyer one of my first considerations in slip and fall cases is who owns the property on which the accident occurred.

 Commercial, private and public property owners may be held responsible for slip and fall accidents that occur on their property, although not every fall can be the subject of a lawsuit. If you are unlucky enough to fall on the floor of a Wal-Mart store, for example, and there is no contributory factor, you are unlikely to have a case.

If the floor has been washed and there are inadequate warning signs, or if dishwashing liquid has spilled on the floor and nobody has bothered to clean it up, that’s a different matter.

In slip and fall cases, a “reasonable person” standard derived from common law is used to establish whether the landowner has lived up to a duty in maintaining and keeping the property safe and also whether the injured party was acting reasonably.

Although there are different specifics depending on what state you live  in, generally a victim must prove the property owner to be held responsible for injuries on the property, the owner must have caused the condition or known about the dangerous condition and done nothing about it. So, in the example of a store, the owner could hardly be held responsible if a customer knocked a jar off a shelf and spilled a fluid and another customer slipped on it a few minutes later.

But if a customer was responsible for a spillage and members of staff simply walked on past it, nobody bothered to clean it up and another customer slipped on it later on, the store could be held responsible.

 Reasonableness is a subjective standard. As with any negligence action, the victim in a slip and fall case needs to demonstrate that his or her injuries were “proximately caused” by the property owner’s actions or inaction.

 Sadly many victims in these kinds of actions fail to seek legal advice. The recent verdict in Georgia, shows this can be a mistake because large awards are often available to slip and fall victims.

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Filed under Serious personal injury, Slip and fall