Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Truck Accidents: Protect Your Interests in the Face of Serious Injury

Truck accidents stand out from other types of automobile accidents because of the increased likelihood of fatality.  Truck accidents are generally more harmful to the parties involved than standard car accidents because of the size disparity between the vehicles and the potentially dangerous cargo commonly carried by trucks.  Currently in the U.S., one person dies every 16 minutes as the result of a truck accident.  Though truck accidents constitute just 3% of all injury accidents and 5% of all property-damage-only accidents, 8% of the vehicles in fatal accidents are large trucks.  In 2008 alone, there were 4,006 fatalities directly attributed to accidents involving large trucks.  Of these fatalities, 98% of the people killed in truck accidents are occupants of the non-truck vehicle. 

A number of factors exist that are potential causes of truck accidents.  Chief among these factors are the demanding schedules and deadlines that are imposed on many truck operators.  High demand schedules can cause the truck operator to speed or drive aggressively, to drive tired or be fatigued due to extended work shifts, or even to consume narcotics that impair the operator's ability to drive.  The amount of hours that a truck driver has operated their truck is often a relevant fact in truck accident cases, as federal law specifically restricts how many hours a truck driver may log over a fixed period of time. 

Another potential cause of a truck accident is poor maintenance or a failure to install safety equipment.  Often times, a large truck involved in a truck accident may exhibit poorly maintained or overused brakes, missing blind spot mirrors or defective safety equipment like signals, lights and warning devices. 

The overloading or failure to secure truck cargo is also a common cause of truck accidents.  Earlier this year, a Prince George's County jury awarded a substantial verdict for injuries sustained as a result of unsafe cargo loading in Diaz v. Earth Hauler Trucking.  In Diaz, a family was traveling in a minivan on I-495 behind a dump truck owned by Earth Hauler Trucking. The rear gate of the dump truck suddenly detached from the truck, causing the gate and debris held within to fall onto I-495. Although there was no actual contact between the minivan and the dump truck, the detached gate and debris struck the minivan, causing two of its tires to go flat. During impact, the Plaintiff struck his head on the roof of the vehicle and his knee on the dashboard.  The jury in this case rendered a particularly favorable verdict in the amount of $105,755.00, despite the fact that the Plaintiff was able to replace his tires and complete his drive, and that the Plaintiff waited for over a month until seeking medical treatment for his injuries.

Truck accidents are widely considered to be the most likely type of automobile accident to inflict serious injuries on the individuals involved.  Serious injuries call for serious legal representation.  The attorneys of Portner & Shure have countless years of experience representing the victims of truck accidents.  The firm is represents truck accident victims in Maryland, Virginia and Texas.  If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, please contact Portner & Shure. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cerebral Palsy: Was My Child's Condition Caused by Medical Negligence?

Learning that a newborn child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy is one of the greatest fears of expecting parents.  A diagnosis of cerebral palsy often means that a child could suffer from a number of potentially crippling disabilities, including muscular deformity, involuntary movement, seizures, speech disorders and mental retardation for the rest of their lives.  Although a specific cause of cerebral palsy has not been pinpointed, the general consensus is that cerebral palsy is brought on by some form of injury to the brain of the infant before, during, or shortly after birth.  Fortunately for those that suffer from cerebral palsy and their parents, awards in cerebral palsy cases are usually substantial because of the long term effect of the condition and the high cost of medical care associated with the disorder. 

In Frederick County, a jury recently yielded an award of close to 4 million dollars to the family of a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth.  In this case, the mother, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, began to complain of severe and persistent pain and vomiting.  After alternative treatments were attempted, the child was born via cesarean section hours after the mother's complaints.  Upon birth, the child demonstrated signs of oxygen depravation to the brain, which is commonly associated with cerebral palsy.  At trial, the family alleged that the failure of the attending physicians to properly evaluate, diagnose and treat the mother was the cause of the child's cerebral palsy.  The jury agreed with the family, and rendered an award of nearly 4 million dollars for past and future medical expenses, future lost income and noneconomic damages. 

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a number of factors may indicate that the condition has been caused or facilitated by medical negligence.  Common indicators of medical negligence shown shortly after birth are if a child is under-oxygenated or has bluish skin, seizures, trouble breathing,  or an abnormal fluxuation of body temperature.  Use of vacuum extraction or heart rate abnormalities are also indicators of medical negligence.  Other factors that could indicate medical negligence are whether the attending physicians addressed changes in the condition of the pregnant mother, whether physicians addressed changes in the condition of the fetus, whether a cesarean section was ordered in a timely manner, and whether there is a family history of brain damage. 

If you or your child suffers from cerebral palsy and you believe that the condition was a result of medical negligence, you should contact an attorney immediately.  The attorneys at Portner & Shure have many years of experience providing aggressive representation for the victims of cerebral palsy and their families and currently practice in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dog Bite Cases and Methods of Recovery

Dog bite cases can often be very lucrative because of the potential to name multiple defendants.  In many cases where a dog owner is renting their home or apartment, successful claims can be made against both the landlord and tenant.

For example, a Baltimore City woman was recently able to obtain a verdict of over $325,000 for injuries she suffered as a result of a dog bite.  In this case, the Plaintiff was walking her dog down a public street when another dog broke free from a nearby apartment.  The loose dog then attacked the Plaintiff, causing a flesh wound that would later require 25 stitches to repair.  The Plaintiff subsequently filed suit against both the dog owner and the landlord of the dog owner's property. 

In her suit, the Plaintiff claimed that the dog owner was liable for not adequately securing his dog, and that the landlord was vicariously liable because the property being rented to the dog's owner was not sufficient to house a large dog (the dog in this case was a rottweiler).  Only the landlord presented a defense at trial, claiming that he was not liable for the actions of the dog involved in the attack.  A Baltimore City jury took just 1 hour to return a verdict against the dog owner in the amount of $175,025, and against the landlord in the amount of $150,025.  The amount rendered for the pain and suffering of the Plaintiff was not provided by the Court. 

In dog bite cases, a good attorney should be careful to identify all possible individuals or entities that could be held liable for the actions of the attacking dog.  Specifically, an attorney should focus on whether the attacking dog had escaped the control of its owner.  If the dog did break loose from its owner, an attorney should uncover initially how the dog was being restrained, how the dog was able to break free, and where the dog was able to break free from.  Further, the attorney must investigate the past history of the dog.  If the dog previously demonstrated violent tendencies, the owner is on notice that the dog would be violent, or would bite again.  The issue of notice should be given considerable attention in all dog bite cases.

The attorneys at Portner & Shure are among the most experienced in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in representing victims of dog bites.  If you, a friend or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, please contact Portner & Shure