Articles Posted in Brain injury trials

The Center for Justice & Democracy recently released a report entitled, Courthouse Cornerstone: Contingency Fees & Their Importance for Everyday Americans. The study provides a helpful overview of these fee arrangements, explaining what they are, how they came about, their purpose, and the way that these agreements are used to ensure open access to the justice system. Many residents do not appreciate the value provided by this structure, and it is worthwhile to emphasize the critical role it plays in holding negligent parties accountable for paying for the consequences of their actions.

What It Is

The civil justice system has a cost. Court fees must be paid to keep the operations of the system running. Attorneys must be paid, as the work is their source of personal income. Litigation itself has a cost, as traveling to depositions, compensating expert witnesses, copying documents, and similar steps all must be handled.

They are at it again. It seems like every day comes news of some small front-group for big interests trying to make hay about some evil that has been caused by community members exercising their right to the civil justice system. Sometimes medical malpractice lawsuits are the target, while at other times it is anyone who dares to seek accountability from a corporation whose rights are at stake.

No matter what, however, it is important for all of us to stand up and push back. None of us know for sure what tomorrow will hold. Hopefully, we will all get up, head to work or begin the day’s activity, and arrive at the end having made a difference, made memories, and committed to continuing ahead. Sadly, for some of us, the next day will bring tragedy, pain, heartbreak, and perhaps even death. Whether it be a car accident, medical error, accidental fall, or any number of other possibilities, every day things happen which could have been prevented, are not, and cause severe damage.

While it might be convenient to ignore that reality, in the real world we must address these issues. One of the ways our society does so is by ensuring legal accountability following harm caused by preventable conduct. For example, if you drive irresponsibly and cause an auto accident that leads another to suffer a traumatic brain injury, then you may be held legally responsible for repaying the damage of that accident as fully as possible. The rules are no different for individual community members as they are for large corporations. When a big business (or an employee) makes a mistake and causes harm, they need to be held fully accountable for that harm.

When community members hear the words “tort reform” they usually think of one thing: medical malpractice. It is true that much focus on limiting the right of community members deals with insulating big medical companies (and their insurers) from being fully accountable for the consequences for their errors. But it is far too limiting to assume that these “reform” efforts are limited only to medical negligence. The truth is that big business of all stripes are constantly looking for various ways to insulate themselves from being held accountable for their errors.

This includes a wide-range of situations where brain injuries are implicated. For example, car and truck accidents are the leading casue of traumatic brain injury. But what happens if the accident itself was casued in whole or in part by something that was defective in the vehicle? As readers know, this happens all the time, and automative recalls are incredibly common. Under the civil law, those hurt in the accident may be able to hold the companies responsible for the defect accountable. But, there are efforts made all the time to slowly cut away at those rights, by making it harder to file suit, place limits on recovery, and otherwise throw more roadblocks in the way of residents seeking full accountability.

Not only do we need to correct all of the mistatements made by those pushing for these changes. But we need to fight back and actively protect all community members from the dangerous efforts being spearheaded by big business.

When someone suffers a brain injury as the resut of the negligence of another, it seems obvious that they should be entitled to redress for their losses. However, the attorneys at our firm know well that, far from common sense solutions in these cases to ensure accountability and compensation, many parties–particularly big busineses–often do everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for their negligence. Sadly, the business community is usually motivated solely by self-interest, even if that means taking away the rights of others and advocating in a hypocritical manner.

Take, for example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As the nation’s premier advocacy group for business interests, the organization, unfortuantely, acts in ways that might be good for certain big businesses but terrible for the community as a whole. Recently, the American Association for Justice put together a slideshow that list ten different ways that the conduct of the Chamber harms the nation. Please click here to be taken to the full slideshow on the AAJ website.

Quickly glancing through the list is a helpful way to be reminded of some of the policy debates that continue to rage and that affect all of us. From the outset it is important to note that 55% of the funding for the entire national Chamber comes from just 16 mega-companies. While the entity claims to speak for both big and small businesses, the reality is that the vast majority of its work is geared toward advancing the interests of the largest, most profitable companies. Many of the local Chambers have cut ties with the national organization as a result of this reality.

Our Illinois brain injury attorneys recently learned of a brain injury/wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by the mother of the victim of negligence that died while he was supposed to be receiving treatment at a drug rehabilitation center. The young man had been in the center for only two days when he died of hypoxic brain injury following what is believed to have been an over dosage of a medicine as well as an allergy to that same medication that he was being given at the rehabilitation center. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that not only was he given medications that his body was not reacting well to and too much of that medicine, but that he was not monitored or paid attention to even after he was clearly reacting negatively to the medication.

Once the brain injury/wrongful death lawsuit was filed, family members of other patients from the facility also spoke out about all their problems with the drug rehabilitation center. Allegedly, other patients were also over-medicated and not monitored properly, and at least one of these other patients died as a result of this alleged negligence on the part of the rehab center. According to The Tennessean, the rehab center has just spent a great deal of money on expanding the rehab center and the center is the largest in the state. In addition to the claim that the patients are not medicated properly and are not monitored properly, many patients and their families feel that the center was severely understaffed, which could also add to the lack of monitoring patients issue. As a result of the issues that have been reported in connection with this facility, the state has at least temporarily stopped sending underage drug abusers to this particular facility for treatment. The fact that this kind of negligence may be occurring, and that patients may not actually be receiving the help they need, is very upsetting especially at a center that has the resources available to really be able to help their patients with their drug addictions.

The young man’s hypoxic brain injury may have resulted directly from the over-medication and from him not being monitored properly. A hypoxic brain injury occurs when the flow of oxygen to the brain is disrupted, and in this young man’s case that disruption was too severe and led to his death. If he was receiving too much medication, or the wrong medication for his body, a hypoxic brain injury could result. The rehab center claims that if the victim’s medical records were viewed that it would be clear that he was treated properly and that his death was not the result of the center’s negligence. However, the rehabilitation center will not release the victim’s medical records for what they claim is a confidentiality issue.

Our Chicago brain injury attorneys just learned of a lawsuit in which an energy company was sued after one of their employees unintentionally hit another employee with power tongs in June of this year. Power tongs are a type of hydraulic equipment used on many industrial sites, which are used to help the workers move large objects around and maneuver around the work site. The employee that filed the lawsuit and was injured by the other employee when he was struck with the power tongs causing him to be thrown headfirst into other equipment that was on the work site and as a result suffered from severe injuries to the head including fractured sinuses and a brain injury. The brain injury lawsuit is against the company that the two men worked at and alleges that the company was negligent in allowing this type of injury to be able to occur while employees were on the job. The lawsuit claims that the worker that stuck the victim was using the control lever on a piece of equipment and hit the wrong lever, which was the one that struck the victim in the face.

Brain injuries are often caused by slips, falls, pushes, and a number of other ways in which the head is hit so severely that the brain is injured as a result. Many of these brain injuries are the result of another’s (other than the victim) actions, like in the case discussed here. When the injury occurs at the victim’s place of work, the victim may have the option of suing the company if the negligence occurred while the people involved were on the job. Because companies may be liable for the negligence of their workers, or negligence while on the job, it is very important that all companies make sure to try to keep the job site as safe as possible and that they hire employees that they believe will act very safe and make safety their greatest priority while on the job.

A personal injury lawsuit is an appropriate option for someone that has suffered a brain injury as the result of another’s negligent actions. These type of lawsuits are a way in which to try to make the person responsible for your injury accountable for their actions and to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages resulting from the injury, pain and suffering, as well as other damages that occurred. In this particular lawsuit the victim asked for compensation for his medical bills as well as for some other damages suffered as a result of the incident where he was injured.

Our Illinois brain injury attorneys recently learned of a case in which the parents of a young man who was severely injured when he was run over by a boat are suing the driver of the boat that caused the serious and permanent injuries. The terrible incident occurred a little over two years ago while the boy was out kayaking with his father. While the boy was paddling out towards his father and wearing a bright orange life jacket, the driver of the speedboat was not paying full attention and hit the young man, severely injuring him. The boat ran over the boy cutting his body in multiple places. Because of the negligence of the boat driver, the young man suffered severe physical injuries including a ruptured spleen and a collapsed lung as well as permanent traumatic brain injuries. According to The News Tribune, the boat driver did help the injured boy get to shore following the accident but did not immediately admit that it was his boat that had struck the boy causing his severe injuries. No charges were filed against the driver but he was fined for operating his boat negligently.

The family of the injured young man alleges in their civil personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the speedboat that he was operating the boat in an unsafe manner and that he was driving too fast and not properly watching where he was headed when he crashed into their son. Following the incident the young man was hospitalized for several months and then was in a rehabilitation center for many more months. Now, more than two years later, he still requires a great deal of medical care and is permanently physically and mentally disabled as a result of being hit by the boat. The traumatic brain injury that the young man suffered as a result of the crash was so damaging that he will require lifetime rehabilitation and he will never be back to the way that he was prior to the accident.

The lawsuit against the boat driver does not only cover the costs associated with the medical bills and the boy’s long term medical care, but also aims to try to compensate the family in some way for all the emotional and long-term damage they have and continue to suffer as a result of their son’s lifetime injuries. When someone acts negligently and their actions cause serious injury to another party, the victim and their family should be held liable for these actions and personal injury lawsuits are a way in which the victims may be able to be compensated in some way for these injuries.

A medical malpractice case went to trial recently alleging that a neurosurgeon who performed a brain biopsy on an elderly man acted negligently and did not exercise due care in his treatment of the patient. Our Chicago brain injury attorneys found this case particularly interesting because an Illinois brain injury expert testified that the kind of mistake that the defendant physician made was such a basic and common issue that he believed that a person with no medical training could have made the proper decision. According the The Duluth News Tribune, the defendant physician performed a brain biopsy, which is the appropriate procedure when there is evidence of a tumor, when all of the man’s symptoms pointed to the fact that he had a stroke and there was no evidence of a tumor. Performing the brain biopsy turned a small brain stroke into a major brain bleed causing the patient a severe amount of brain damage that was all a result of the doctor’s negligence. The elderly man is now suffering from multiple cognitive defects, is having trouble speaking, and can no longer walk.

The brain injury lawsuit seeks over one million dollars in damages that include medical costs, as well as damage for lost wages and the loss of the quality of life that the man could have expected without the negligent operation. The lawsuit also alleges that not only should the doctor have realized that the symptoms likely were caused by a stroke, but also that he should have required that more MRI and CT scans were performed on the patient before making such a major decision to open up his head. The doctor’s attorneys argue that the patient had the information necessary and the consented to the procedure, knowing both the risks associated with the procedure and the alternate option available to him. However, the injured man’s attorneys argue that because of his stroke that he was not aware of what he was agreeing to and that the decision was not actually an informed one.

It is crucial that when dealing with an area of the body like the brain that a doctor takes steps to exercise the most care possible to avoid unnecessary procedures because of how sensitive the brain can be to injury. It is especially sad to see a physician trained in neurosurgery make this type of error in a case that other doctors agree is one in which a little more care and attention would have made it clear that the procedure was not the appropriate given his symptoms.
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The Quad City Times recently reported on a trial involving an injured plumber. A Scott County jury recently awarded a couple in Coal Valley, Illinois $3.6 million in a brain injury lawsuit.

In 2006, a plumber was working in a trench as sewer and water service was being installed for a home under construction in Davenport. The trench collapsed when a skid loader drove too close. Rescue efforts successful dug the unconscious plumber out of the collapsed trench but the plumber suffered permanent brain damage in the work related accident.

The skid loader was being operated by an employee of Alliance Concrete Construction LLC of Davenport, Illinois. At trial, the injured worker and his wife were seeking damages from Alliance for lost wages and past and future medical expenses.

During the trial, the plumber’s wife took the witness stand and testified about dramatic changes in her husband’s behavior since his accident. She testified that since his brain injury, her husband suffers from severe nightmares that have caused the couple to sleep in separate beds at night.

The jury awarded the wife $300,000 for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries.

The defense attorney for Alliance argued at trial that the injured worker was at least partially responsible for his own injury because he failed to use a trench box and other safety precautions. The jury found the plumber 40 percent at fault. As a result of the plumber’s own negligence, he was awarded $1.8 million of his $3.6 million verdict. In Illinois, if an injured party is partially at fault for his or her injuries, then the total recovered amount may be reduced in proportion to the degree that the injured party was at fault.

For the full article on this brain injury case, see the Quad City Times.
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ABC News followed up on a brain injury case in Northern California where a man was awarded $6.4 million after being injured while getting on the bus in April of 2008.

The case involved a disabled man who was injured while being lifted onto a bus in Roseville, California. As he loaded the bus, his wheelchair rolled backwards off the ramp. The man fell 6 feet and hit his head, causing severe brain injury.

The city’s public transportation company was ordered to pay 83% of the $6.4 million verdict, while the city was ordered to pay the remaining 17%.

Falls on public transportation can be the result of improper safety measures. In Chicago, many of the city’s buses and trains are operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are among the three main causes of brain injury in the United States and they are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among people 65 and older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1.4 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States and about 50,000 people die from traumatic brain injuries.
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