Our Paralegals: Great Assets and Backbone of Your Case


 

Ohio attorney Mindy Elk Fisher explains why paralegals are an integral part of your legal team.

It’s not uncommon to hear attorneys talk about their accomplishments and boast how they can win your case with wildly successful results.

However, the truth is, your personal injury case is a team effort – with most attorneys utilizing an entire team, including a professional known as a “paralegal.” A paralegal is a qualified individual who works under the supervision of an attorney in many aspects of your legal case, handling different tasks during the course of your claim.

There are two different types of paralegals here at Elk & Elk: litigation and non-litigation. Litigation paralegals help the attorney prepare for trial. They draft complaints and motions; they also assist in the discovery process and the deposition of witnesses for your case. By contrast, non-litigation paralegals assist with the medical aspects of your case. They gather medical records, bills, prepare medical histories and prepare demand packages for the attorney.

Without the help of a paralegal, an attorney’s job would be a very difficult one. While some cases are decidedly more complicated, there are numerous items with which to contend in any personal injury lawsuit. Paralegals assist attorneys throughout the entire process and are held up to the same high standards set for your attorney. They have to fight just as hard for your case to ensure it is successful. The hard work of diligent paralegals allows your attorney to devote his or her full attention to your claim – negotiating settlements, dealing with liability issues or taking your case to trial. At Elk & Elk, we feel it is important to educate you and all of our clients about the litigation process, including the many ways paralegals are critical for a successful resolution of your case.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Mindy Elk Fisher

 

Memorial Day Safety Tips

Like many of you, at Elk & Elk, we’re looking forward to celebrating Memorial Day weekend with family and friends. Whether you’re travelling out of state, down the road, or even enjoying a “stay-cation” at home, here are some important safety tips.

Highway Safety TipsSB-art1

  • Pay attention. Distracted driving puts everyone at risk. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Keep your distance. Follow the 3-second rule to ensure you don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Don’t drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. Stop and rest if you’re too tired to drive.
  • Buckle up. Wear your safety belt at all times and make sure kids are properly secured in age/weight appropriate seats.
  • Do a pre-road trip checkup. Ensure your car’s tires are properly inflated, the fluids are topped off, and that all belts and hoses are in good condition. Check to make sure all lights and turn signals are in working order – especially if you’re towing a trailer.

Food Safetyphoto_1127_20060220

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling food and after handling raw poultry or meat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of bacteria. Keep uncooked meats away from other foods.
  • Cook foods thoroughly, especially ground beef, poultry, and pork.
  • Refrigerate all perishable food within two hours.

 Grilling Safetyabout ready

  • Keep it clean. When using a grill, be sure to clean it thoroughly to remove any grease or dust.
  • Check for gas leaks.Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.
  • Use the grill outside, not in a garage, porch, or other enclosed space. The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings, out from under eaves, and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area and never leave a hot grill unattended.
  • Put it out. After grilling, make sure you turn off the propane. If you plan to use a fire pit, be sure to put out the fire completely before leaving.

Water and Boating Safetyboating_large

  • Never swim alone. Even an experienced swimmer can get into trouble. Supervise children at all times in and near the water.
  • Wear Life Jackets when boating. Make sure you have personal flotation devices (PFDs) for all aboard and make sure children wear a USCG-approved properly fitting life jacket at all times.
  • Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Consuming alcoholic beverages in excess will affect perception, reaction time and decision-making.

No matter what your plans are this Memorial Day weekend, staying hydrated is important, so remember to drink lots of water. If you’re going to be in the sun, put on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher before going outdoors.

Common Anesthesia Errors that Lead to Medical Malpractice

anesthesiologist in ORFor most patients, a procedure requiring anesthesia goes according to plan.  Unfortunately,when emergency rooms, operating tables or surgical centers get busy, mistakes can happen.  As a result, anesthesia errors happen more often than most people think they do.  If you believe that a loved one has suffered injury or death due to an anesthesia error, it’s best to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately to see if you have a viable claim for a lawsuit.

Anesthesia errors often happen because anesthesiologists and other medical professionals are forced to multitask during surgery. There are many different things happening at once, which can lead to distracted doctors and nurses. In turn, this can lead to mistakes, such as:

  • Administering too much or too little anesthetic medication
  • Waiting too long before administering anesthesia
  • Giving the wrong anesthesia drug
  • Interactions with prescription drugs
  • Bad reactions for patients with allergies
  • Forgetting to warn a patient that he should eat or drink prior to surgery
  • Failure to administer oxygen during surgery or properly monitor the patient
  • Defective medical devices and equipment used to administer anesthesia

Too small of a dose may cause the patient to remain partially or fully conscious during the procedure, meaning that he or she could experience extreme pain as surgeons are operating. Improper administration can cause other serious side effects, including:

  • Asphyxiation (loss of oxygen)
  • Aspiration of gastric contents (entry of stomach contents into the respiratory system)
  • Anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction)
  • Tracheal (windpipe) damage
  • Birth defects
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiac dysrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Myocardial infarction (minor heart attack)
  • Major heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Severe brain damage
  • Death

A medical malpractice attorney can help you determine if a loved one’s death or injury while on the operating table was caused by an error in the dosage or nitroglycerin concentration of the anesthesia that was administered prior to the procedure. If this is the case, your medical malpractice attorney can help you attempt to recover monetary compensation for the injuries or death caused by the anesthesiologist’s negligence.

Dog Bite Prevention Week – 2014

By now you’ve probably seen the viral video of “Tara,” a family cat saving a young boy from a dog attack.  Unfortunately, dogs bite more than 4 million Americans annually, half of which are children. While not all bites are severe, one in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week® (May 18-24, 2014), is an annual event designed to provide consumers with information on how to be responsible pet owners while increasing awareness of a serious public health issue.

To reduce the chances of your dog biting someone, the Insurance Information Institute recommends taking the following steps:

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. A dog with a history of aggression is inappropriate in a household with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
  • Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other people and animals.
  • Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as “go fetch.” Playing aggressive games like tug-of-war” can encourage inappropriate behavior.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
  • Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
  • Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

Liability

The Ohio Revised Code (955.28) imposes strict liability in dog bite cases. That means anyone who owns, harbors or keeps a dog is liable whenever his dog bites, injures or causes a loss to a person or to the property of a person—even if the dog has never bitten anyone one before—unless the injured individual was trespassing or committing a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor on the property. (Beckett v. Warren, 124 Ohio St. 3d 256, 2010-Ohio-4, 921 N.E.2d 624, ¶ 10.)

What to do after a dog bite

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Call 911 or contact your physician for additional care and advice.
  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner’s name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you’ve seen him before, and in which direction he went.
  • Contact an experienced dog bite attorney to investigate your case and protect your legal rights.

 

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html

Poor Decisions and Confusion Lead to Finger Pointing

Ohio medical malpractice attorney Jay Kelley recalls a case in which a woman who chose a simple outpatient procedure to avoid a long hospitalization, but poor communication by the medical team led to a horrible outcome.

 

Often in medical malpractice cases, the two sides of the claim do not see eye to eye. Their side does not agree that they caused your injury and you obviously agree that they did cause harm.

Even worse is when separate people on their side alone don’t agree. With lots of medical malpractice cases, we may be facing an issue in which more than one person can be involved in your case.

For example, in a surgery situation you will not only have been with the surgeon but an anesthesiologist and at least one nurse. There could also be aftercare staff who assisted following surgery. Finding the truth in your situation can then become very difficult. No one wants to be the one blamed for an injury, even if it’s only an accident. This can lead to a lot of confusion which was the case for one of our clients.

She was came out of surgery quite well. However, during the aftercare she was given a medication that was completely wrong for her. The drug worked against the pain in her body and when they gave her pain medication after surgery, it failed to stop the pain. They tried even more drugs and this caused her serious respiratory troubles. The contents of her stomach began to fill her lungs and she ultimately aspirated.

This all began because there wasn’t a clear course of action in the beginning. She was given the wrong medication and then resulting medication she needed for after surgery developed into this horrible issue. But to top all of that, was how the people in the room began to blame each other when we’re trying to get to the truth. They told different stories and blamed each other and all the while our client was the one who suffered. We face these types of challenges each time we take on a lawsuit. Sometimes cases are solved easily through medical records and sometimes it takes a little bit more digging through testimonials and depositions to get to the truth. But we fight through to help all of our clients get the best possible outcome for their families.

To learn more about medical malpractice law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Jay Kelley

Serious Risks Arise with Older Drivers

by Arthur Elk

 mar_article2If you or a loved one are getting older, it’s time to think about driving and the dangers it may pose. As an accident attorney with experience in this area, I know that there are risks with older drivers in terms of causing accidents and being the victim of an accident.

There is good news and bad news for the aging population of American drivers. First the good news: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the increase in older drivers did not lead to an increase in accidents for that age group. The Associated Press reports, “drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations.”

Unfortunately it’s not all good news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that compared to drivers in the same age group, drivers younger than 30 and older than 70 are more likely to have contributed to a crash (for example, by running a stop sign).

Another concern for older drivers is the fact that a car accident is more life-threatening and dangerous to their health. NHTSA reports that older people are more vulnerable in a crash. The International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury says a 50-year old female has about a 10% risk of serious injury in a frontal crash, whereas an 80-year old has a 40% risk.

As a car accident attorney, I know that many accidents can be avoided. If you know an aging driver, talk with them about the risks of driving and what they can do to avoid them; it could be a life-saving conversation.

For more information, please read our in-depth article, Too Old to Drive? – Senior Drivers: Assessing ability and legal actions.

Ride Your Bike to Work Day

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Who doesn’t want to look better, feel better and save money? One simple decision can help you achieve all three: bike to work. To promote bicycle commuting, hundreds of communities throughout the nation are hosting Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day events in May.

Bike to Work Week is a voluntary commuter challenge started in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists designed to encourage everyone throughout the US to ride their bicycles to and from work for one week out of the year. Each year in Ohio, the program becomes more and more popular and sees an ever-increasing number of participants.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, “More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent.”

There are dozens of Bike to Work events scheduled across Ohio – in major cities and small towns alike. If your hometown isn’t listed below, check out www.bikeleague.org for activities near you.

Cleveland

Greater Clevelanders are encouraged to leave their car at home on May 16 and commute by bike. Bike Cleveland, the Heights Bicycle Coalition, University Circle Inc., The Bike Rack, and many others are partnering to host plenty of activities in the morning to help you on your commute to work, school or around the city. Go to http://www.bikecleveland.org/btwd/ for more information. Tweet your photos with the hashtag, #BTWDcle.

Columbus

Join Bike to Work Day in Columbus, on Friday, May 16 rain or shine by riding into downtown along one of seven pre-planned routes. Each group ride will end at Columbus Commons for breakfast, awards, booths, and networking at 8:00AM. Mayor Michael B. Coleman will ride with the group that has the most committed riders. Learn more and register at http://www.columbus.gov/B2W2014/.

Cincinnati/Newport, KY

The Queen City Bike club is hosting a full month of activities in the Cincinnati/Newport area, including “Breakfast on the Bridge” on the Purple People Bridge from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 16. Enjoy breakfast on the bridge with your friends on bikes! Bike to the Newport side of the bridge for all of the goodies. The festivities will continue with a picnic and celebration in Washington Park at noon. Visit http://www.queencitybike.com/bike-month/ for details.

Safety First

In Ohio, by law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles – with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. The Ohio Department of Transportation encourages cyclists to follow these tips:

  • Have your bike checked over by your local bike shop
  • Always wear a helmet to protect your head in the event of a crash
  • Ride in the right-most lane that goes in the direction that you are traveling
  • Obey all stop signs, traffic lights and lane markings
  • Look before you change lanes or signal a turn; indicate your intention, then act
  • Be visible at all times; wear bright clothing and equip your bike with front and rear lights

By fostering a mutual respect between motorists and bicyclists, we can enhance safety for all road users.

Why bike to work?

Bike to Work events are a great way to reintroduce yourself to riding again! Many first-time commuters who participate in Bike to Work events become regular bike commuters.

Group riding can help give you the skills you need to feel safe commuting on streets and on off-road facilities. The workout you’ll get is great for your physical health and helps to make you more alert and mentally active. While being a great way to help the environment, it also saves you money!

Should I Stop Going to My Doctor?

Ohio attorney David Elk explains the importance of seeing your doctor and completing all medical treatment after an injury.

 

If you’ve already filed a lawsuit after an injury, you may be wondering if you should continue to go to your doctor. Frustrated by slow recovery, you may be thinking your treatment isn’t going to make you feel any better and shouldn’t you just stop going?

The answer is a definite no. Personal injury accident cases – whether you were injured a motor vehicle accident, tractor trailer accident or a slip and fall – are all medically driven.

What this means is that you must be able to prove to a jury the severity of the injury or harm done to you. Even if the doctors are at a point where your health will no longer improve – your condition cannot get any better – you should still continue to see a doctor as recommended.

Regular visits with a  physician helps track your progress and provides crucial evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. Your medical records will be used to help calculate damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. As long as you’re still in pain, it’s vital to keep going to your doctor. Failure to see your treating physician may cause your  insurance company to assume you’ve fully recovered and could significantly devalue your case.

With your family, health and finances on the line, you’re going to want the best possible outcome in your lawsuit. Personal injury accidents can cost thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital stays, prescription drug costs, lost wages and other medical expenses. You should never do anything that would jeopardize the value of your case so that you and your family can recover from the harm you have suffered.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Should You Store Your Car for Evidence after an Accident?

by  Arthur M. Elk

crashIf you have recently been involved in an automobile accident and your car has been totaled, you might be tempted to simply rid yourself of the remaining metal scraps. However, your vehicle might contain important evidence related to the crash. In some cases, you may be required to have it placed in a storage facility while an investigation is ongoing. Unfortunately, you may also be responsible for paying the fees associated with storing the vehicle.

In addition to investigating your claim, a car accident attorney can help ensure the towing company does not engage in any deceptive or unfair practices. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) offers these important tips to avoid towing and storage scams:

  1. Be prepared – You may already have access to reliable, reputable towing services via road side assistance benefits through your auto insurance carrier. Auto clubs and even credit card issuers also offer this benefit.
  2. The choice is yours – When your car is in an accident, you should always have the opportunity to call your own tow truck and choose where your car goes, whether that is a body shop or even your driveway.
  3. Get an itemized statement of charges – The towing company should give you an itemized statement of charges, and include clear information about how you can get your car back. Look for how much is being charged for storage per day, what kind of charges are listed, as well as a physical address (not a P.O. Box), hours and phone number of the storage yard.
  4. Watch what you sign – Sometimes towing companies will include language preauthorizing a number of days of storage, or even repairs at a certain shop. Towing companies don’t usually make such authorizations a requirement of providing the service.
  5. Be wary of “Good Samaritans” – Many tow scams start with a “passerby” who offers to call a tow truck to be “helpful”.
  6. Don’t just leave the car – If you leave your car by the side of the road, or park it in a lot, then leave the property, you’re setting yourself up for a bad experience.
  7. Safeguard personal information – Do not provide tow truck operators with your insurance information or personal lien holder information.
  8. Be familiar with the law– Know that there are laws that say what a towing company can and can not do when towing your car from an accident scene, or other situations, a little homework can save you a lot of
    aggravation, and a lot of money.

Sometimes, it can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks to get a police report filed properly before a dispute over the collision may begin. While keeping your car in storage will preserve any evidence that needs to be reviewed during a case, the price tag that comes with it can run high, especially if the case drags out for a long period of time. Rely on a car accident attorney to help make sure that the person responsible for the accident foots the bill.

 

OSHA: Is Your Boss Keeping You Safe?

SafetyThe Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) was enacted by Congress in 1970. It governs workplace safety in both the private sector and the United States federal government. The Act’s main goal is to ensure that employers maintain a safe working environment for their employees. A personal injury attorney can help you file an OSHA claim if you are injured in a workplace accident or exposed to unsafe working conditions.

One of the most important parts of OSHA is the general duty clause. This clause imposes three duties upon employers:

  1. Maintain conditions and/or utilize practices that are reasonably necessary to protect employees on the job.
  2. Be familiar with the safety standards applicable to their business establishments.
  3. Regulate and promote employee use of the appropriate safety equipment.

If you think your employer has breached one of these 3 duties, and you were injured on the job, you should schedule a consultation with an injury attorney.

OSHA also created the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which ensures that employers nationwide comply with the provisions set forth in OSHA. This involves creating and enacting workplace safety regulations, inspecting workplaces and employers to ensure that they comply with those regulations, and imposing sanctions on employers who violate OSHA provisions.

An average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every single day of the year. In addition, tens of thousands die every year from workplace disease and nearly 4 million workers each year are seriously injured on the job. A personal injury attorney can represent employees who have been injured or become ill while working. The process generally involves filing a claim through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and resolving that claim through settlement negotiations or a trial.

Whistleblower Claims

Employees who report violations of various workplace safety laws are protected from employer retaliation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Persons filing whistleblower claims, usually receive about 15-25 percent of any recovered damages, but that amount may be higher or lower depending on specific circumstances.

The statute of limitations on such claims can be as little as 30 days. Therefore, in order to preserve your claim, it is important to contact a qualified attorney and file a claim with OSHA as soon as possible.