Uninsured Drivers: How They Can Affect You

Uninsured drivers affect everyone.I’m sure you don’t think much about uninsured drivers, but it’s very important to understand how they can affect every one of us on the roads. You should know what it means to be involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Even when all drivers involved in the accident are insured, it can be a difficult situation to handle. However, when you’re dealing with an uninsured driver, resolving the damage is even more challenging. The laws that govern automobile accidents differ from state to state. So, how uninsured drivers are handled depends on that state’s law. This is why you should work with a car accident attorney if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. In these situations, working with a qualified professional will give you peace of mind, especially if there were any injuries. A lawyer will be able to assist you with making a claim to your insurance company and help you figure out what damages should be paid by the uninsured party.

Did you know that nearly 1 in 7 drivers don’t have insurance? This means when you pay for your insurance policy, you are also paying to protect yourself from the uninsured drivers out there. Most auto insurance policies include provisions for damages or injuries caused by uninsured drivers. Depending on what state you live in, this addition can make your auto insurance much more expensive.

Even if you have all the right coverage, uninsured drivers are still treacherous for everyone. So, if you are involved in an accident, the wisest thing you can do to protect yourself is to call an accident lawyer and ensure that all of your needs are met.

Arthur M. Elk

Acne Treatments Can Cause Dangerous Side Effects

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that some products used to treat acne may cause potentially life-threatening side effects. According to an agency press release, over-the-counter acne products containing the active ingredients benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can cause severe irritation or even fatal allergic reactions.

FDA warns acne products may cause severe allergic reactions.
Acne treatments such as Proactive may cause severe irritation or fatal allergic reactions.
(Photo credit: Yuki Matsukura – Flickr)

The FDA warning names popular topical acne medications such as Proactiv, Neutrogena, MaxClarity, Oxy, Ambi, Aveeno, and Clean & Clear. Available without a prescription, these treatments are available as gels, lotions, facial washes, solutions, cleansing pads, toners and face scrubs.

Serious allergic reactions differ from the less harmful irritations included in acne treatment warnings, which include burning, dryness, itching, peeling, redness, and slight swelling where the product is applied.

“There is currently no mention of the possibility of these very severe allergic reactions on the product labels,” says FDA medical officer Dr. Mona Khurana. “It’s important that consumers know about them, and that they know what to do if they occur.”

Use Acne Products Safely

While severe reactions are rare, there are important steps you can take to protect yourself. For example, if you have never used a topical acne treatment before, the FDA recommends applying a small amount of the product to a small affected area for three days. If no discomfort occurs, then follow label directions for normal use. Other safety measures include the following:

  • Avoid using the product if you’ve had previous allergic or hypersensitivity reactions
  • Stop using the product if you develop hives or itching of the face or body
  • Discontinue use and seek immediate medical attention if you develop throat tightness or swelling of the eyes, face, lips or tongue; feel faint; or have difficulty breathing

Although no deaths have been reported, nearly half of the 131 known cases of allergic and hypersensitivity required hospitalization, with the majority since 2012. Approximately 86 percent of the patients were female, and the average patient age was 32 years. Based on the information reported, the FDA cannot determine if these reactions were triggered by the products’ active ingredients, the inactive ingredients, or a combination of both.

“FDA will continue to monitor closely and evaluate this safety issue,” Khurana says. The FDA encourages consumers to report any negative reactions or side effects from use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch program.

 

Source:FDA warns of rare but serious hypersensitivity reactions with certain over-the-counter topical acne products.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Safety Announcement, June 25, 2014.

My boss isn’t covered by Workers’ Comp. What happens if I get hurt at work?

Ohio attorney Gary Cowan discusses what to do if you’re injured at work but your employer isn’t covered by Workers’ Compensation.

 

With most employers, you have access to insurance if you’re injured on the job through a program called Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation, or “Workers’ Comp,” is a fund that provides medical attention and treatment to employees after a job-related injury. So, what happens if you don’t have worker’s compensation available to you? Do you have any options to help pay for the harm you suffered?

No Workers’ Comp? – Three things you should know about bringing a lawsuit after a job-related injury

  1. The first thing your attorney will do is to determine whether your employer was at fault for the accident. Remember, even if your employer is not covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may still be awarded money due to their carelessness. An experienced personal injury attorney will question potential witnesses or even co-workers during an interview called a deposition to ascertain the cause of the accident and establish who was at fault.
  2. The next step will be to combat any claims made by the employer. Typically, a company will claim you were negligent in some part of your job and caused your own injury. To build a successful case, your attorney will need to prove your injury occurred due to someone else’s carelessness, rather than your own actions.
  3. Finally, your attorney will look for a way to resolve your case and bring you the compensation you deserve. Whether the fault lies with your employer, a third party or even a co-worker, a knowledgeable lawyer will research all possible methods of recovery through each insurance company and the various policies. By exploring all options, your attorney can help you recover costs related to your injuries – such as medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that you’ve incurred, including any future medical care you may need.

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.

Gary Cowan

GM Recalls another 3.16 Million Vehicles

gmrecallGeneral Motors has announced yet another recall of 3.13 million vehicles with ignition switch problems. The defect can cause engines to shut off, leaving unsuspecting motorists to struggle with a sudden loss of power steering and power brakes, and, in the event of a crash, the air bags may fail to deploy. The defect has been linked to at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths.

The latest GM recalls include the following vehicles:

  • Buick Lacrosse (2005-2009)
  • Chevrolet Impala (2006-2014)
  • Cadillac DeVille (2000-2005)
  • Cadillac DTS (2004-2011)
  • Buick Lucerne (2006-2011)
  • Buick Regal LS and GS (2004-2005)
  • Chevrolet Monte Carlo (2006-2008)

Officials at General Motors announced fixes to the keys of the recalled vehicles will be available “in the next few weeks” and urged customers “to remove additional weight from their key chains and drive with only the ignition key” until a dealer can perform necessary repairs.

Earlier in 2014, GM recalled the following vehicles for the same ignition switch problem:

  • Chevy Cobalt (2005-2010)
  • Pontiac G5 (2007-2010)
  • Pontiac Solstice (2006-2010)
  • Saturn Ion (2003-2007)
  • Saturn Sky (2007-2010)
  • Chevy HHR (2006-2011)

Reports indicate that GM engineers were aware of serious problems with ignition switches for more than a decade, but failed to act.

20 million GM vehicles affected

Facing scrutiny from Congress and the Department of Justice, GM has recalled nearly 20 million vehicles in recent months. Of those, nearly 6.5 million were recalled for ignition switch-related issues. On June 13, 2014 GM also recalled all Chevrolet Camaros model year 2010 or newer for a similar ignition switch problem.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, told reporters that over the long run, the auto industry is unlikely to make significant changes to their safety policies unless Congress grants NHTSA the “teeth” to fine automakers more than $35 million maximum penalty, which he said is “petty cash” to a company like GM.

 

Sources:

General Motors grapples with safety crisis” Compiled by Matthew Lewis, Chicago newsroom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Reuters, June 17, 2014.

GM’s recalls of 20 million cars signals ‘sea change;’ will it last?” by Greg Gordon, Miami Herald, June 18, 2014.

 

Doctor Error in Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements

All hip replacements carry some risks.All artificial hip replacements carry some risks, including wear of the component parts, breakage of the device itself, and risk of adverse side effects such as nerve damage or joint pain. These risks can increase if the hip replacement procedure is not performed properly. For this reason, if you feel pain or other side effects after a hip replacement procedure, you should consult with a doctor first and then a medical malpractice attorney.

In addition to the more general risks listed above, metal-on-metal hip replacements carry their own unique set of risks. In a metal-on-metal hip replacement, the metal component parts will slide against one another when a person walks or runs. This can cause metal to be released into the bloodstream. Corrosion is another risk that is associated with metal-on-metal hip replacements, and it can also cause metal ions to be released into the bloodstream.

Although there is no way to entirely prevent the release of metal ions into the bloodstream, there are steps that surgeons and doctors can take to lessen the risk. A medical malpractice attorney can help you figure out whether or not your doctor took the appropriate precautions. Ideally, doctors should take steps to optimize the way the metal ball and socket rub against one another.

If you believe that your doctor did not take such steps, and if blood tests show an increased amount of metal in your bloodstream, you should seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney. That attorney will be able to help you determine whether or not the health care providers who performed your hip replacement procedure are liable for any injuries or ill health caused by the procedure.

 

Keeping an Eye on Workplace Injuries and Illness

Work place safety.
Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway

An important part of staying current on employment law is analyzing the annual release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We now have the latest numbers for 2012 and the news overall is good. The total rate of workplace injuries and illnesses is down by a small but statistically significant amount.

In 2012, there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries reported by private industry employers. The BLS reported that “no private industry experienced an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.” What is significant and worrisome is that more than half of the nearly three million injury and illness cases were of a serious nature and involved days away from work, transfer, or restriction.

The difference in rates between injury and illness is huge. More than 94.8 percent of 30 million total incidents are classified “injuries,” while only 5.2 percent are reported as workplace illness. Workplace injuries can lead to legal action where the victim seeks help from an employment attorney.

The report highlights risks related to specific industries:

  • Among service-providing industry sectors, transportation and warehousing had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses
  • Workers experienced sprains and strains in transportation and warehousing at a rate 2.5 times the rate for all industries
  • Transportation incidents occurred at a rate more than 5 times the rate for all industries
  • The mining industry had the highest median days away from work, at 21 days

Staying abreast of these statistics helps government and regulatory bodies to spot trends or risk factors for workers. For employment attorneys, it helps to identify areas of concern for clients and areas where employers or industry organizations may be falling short.

 

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/work-related-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-in-manufacturing-and-construction.pdf

Insurance Claims: Settling Too Early Can Be a Huge Mistake

Ohio personal injury attorney Bill Price explains why accepting an insurance provider’s settlement offer may not be the right decision.

One of the most common challenges you’ll face after an injury is the need for money. We already need it every day, but when you’re injured and can’t work, you need money more than ever to provide for your family.

To make matters worse, insurance companies know your situation. They know whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck or if you’ve been out of work for 6 months due to an injury – and they use this to their advantage.

Insurance companies deal with claims every single day. Claims just like yours. Claims that involve personal injury accidents like automobile crashes, tractor-trailer wrecks and even slip and falls. You don’t deal with an injury every day. In fact, the average person only brings one lawsuit against a company in their life regarding personal injury – if at all.

Insurance adjusters take that knowledge and use it against desperate, inexperienced injury victims. You don’t know whether your injury is worth $50,000 dollars or millions. What you do know is that with a family member out of work, bills can pile up quickly. Not only are there lost wages, but also medical bills, including hospital stays, prescription drugs and even physical therapy. For a struggling family, $50,000 can seem like a lot of money.

While an early settlement can help get you back on track and help pay off some bills, don’t accept an offer before seeking legal advice. An experienced personal injury attorney can look into the matter for you and help determine if more insurance money is available. Remember, a quick settlement may help right now, but what about future medical costs? If you’ve been seriously injured, it may take a very long time before you’re able to return to work – if ever. All future costs should be carefully examined in order to provide you and your family with the compensation you deserve.

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.

William J. Price

Should Cheerleading be a Sport?

Cheerleading accounts for the majority of catastrophic injuries to female high school and college athletes.
Photo courtesy of American Academy of Pediatrics.

The American Medical Association has announced that cheerleading should be considered a sport to help mitigate the risk of injury. The tricks and stunts performed by competitive cheer squads have become more extreme in recent years and cheerleading is now the leading cause of catastrophic injuries for female high school and college athletes.

“These girls are flipping 10, 20 feet in the air,” said Samantha Rosman, a Boston-area pediatrician. “We need to stand up for what is right for our patients and demand they get the same protection as their football colleagues.”

So why classify cheerleading as a sport? The American Academy of Pediatrics offered the following explanation when it designated cheerleading as a sport in 2012:

“[B]eing classified as a sport affords valuable safety resources and regulations, such as qualified coaches, adequate and well-maintained practice facilities, preseason conditioning, access to certified trainers and team physicians, and mandated pre-participation physical examinations.”

Research published in the Journal of Pediatrics indicates hospital emergency visits by cheerleaders have increased sharply, from just 4,954 in 1980 to more than 26,000 in 2007. The most common injuries include sprains and strains, cuts and bruises, fractured and dislocated bones, and head injures – including concussions.

If adopted by state and other sports governing bodies, the designation would require the creation of safety standards, such as proper training and equipment, spotters, and safer surfaces for pyramids and partner stunts. Cheerleaders showing signs of a head injury would be removed from practice or competition and not allowed to return without a doctor’s approval. Currently, 35 states and Washington D.C. have declared cheerleading a sport at the high school level.

 

Sources:

AMA officially designates cheerleading a sport” by Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press/USA Today, June 10, 2014.

“Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention.” Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Pediatrics 2012;130;966; originally published online October 22, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2480.

Adult Guardianships: Caring for the Elderly

nursing homeIf you are caring for an elderly family member who is no longer able to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to consider establishing legal guardianship. A guardian is a person who is appointed by the court as a representative to make decisions on behalf of a person who is found to be incapacitated, known as the ward. In Ohio, guardians are appointed by the probate court, which transfers responsibility for managing ward’s finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions to the guardian.

Ideally, the guardian is a responsible person who has their ward’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, the elderly and other incapacitated individuals are easy prey for unscrupulous individuals. In a recent series of articles, the Columbus Dispatch revealed numerous abuses in what many feel is a broken system. The crux of the problem, they contend, lies in a lack of oversight and accountability:

“This system, which is supposed to look out for the health and well-being of the elderly, the mentally disabled and children, is directed by probate judges in 88 counties. And for lack of detailed guidelines from the state, the counties have 88 different ways of overseeing guardians and their wards.”

For example, guardians in Ohio are not required to visit their wards. While some counties do have mandatory monthly visits, nearly 80 percent do not. The Dispatch also reports that 90 percent of counties do not require prospective guardians to undergo a credit check and 61 percent appoint guardians without even a basic criminal background check.

More than 65,000 Ohioans have been declared incompetent by a judge, and many of those are elderly. As baby boomers age, the number of adult guardianships is expected to soar – flooding an already overburdened court system with even more cases.

The good news is that if you plan ahead, you can generally avoid court appointed guardianship. Taking the time today to meet with an experienced probate attorney will allow you to sign durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, naming the individual you wish to manage your affairs.

If you have questions about guardianship, estate planning or other probate matters, call Probate Attorney Amy Papesh at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.

 

Source

Elderly, mentally ill and children trapped in broken court system” by Lucas Sullivan, Jill Riepenhoff, Mike Wagner & Josh Jarman, The Columbus Dispatch, May 18, 2014.

Boating Safety

The attorneys at Elk & Elk wish all of you an enjoyable boating season and encourage everyone to stay safe on and near the water. Boaters need to be especially careful, use common sense and take the steps necessary to avoid tragedy on the water. Follow these basic safety tips as you enjoy Ohio’s lakes and rivers with family and friends.

Don’t Drink and Boat

Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Exposure to sun, glare, wind and even vibrations can all increase the effects of alcohol.

boating
Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard

Keep and Maintain Safety Equipment Onboard

  • Life Jackets – Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommends that everyone wear a lifejacket while on the water.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Except for a few exceptions¹, all watercraft in Ohio must be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers must meet or exceed United States Coast Guard standards, be capable of extinguishing a gasoline fire, be readily accessible and be in condition to be ready for immediate and effective use.
  • Lights – Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry flashlights with extra batteries.
  • Emergency supplies – Keep a cell phone, maps, flares and a first aid kit on board in a floating pouch.

Watch the Weather

Always keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Signs that a storm is brewing include wind changes, lightning flashes and choppy water. When in doubt, head for shore.

Take Special Cold Water Precautions

It may be hot outside, but at the time of this writing, Lake Erie temperatures near Cleveland were only around 50° F. The water temperatures are much cooler this year due to an unusually late ice cover. So how cold is too cold? According to the U.S. Coast Guard, water temperatures less than 70° F can lower your body temperature, causing hypothermia.

Pre-boating Guidelines

  • Beware of fumes – If not ventilated properly, gasoline vapors can be deadly. Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine.
  • Don’t overload your boat – If your boat is filled with too much gear or too many passengers, it will become unstable and increase the risk of capsizing or swamping.

Follow Navigation Rules

  • The nautical rules of the road dictate the operator’s course of action for avoiding collisions. These rules are the traffic laws of the waterways and legally binding for boat operators.
  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A large wave, sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.
  • After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch.

Get Educated

If you were born after 1981 and you operate a boat greater than 10 horsepower, Ohio law requires you to have boater education.

For more information, or to find a boating class near you, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft online at http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/.

 


 

¹Except for vessels with an electric motor and vessels less than 26 feet of “open construction” with an outboard motor. (See Ohio Revised Code 1547.27.)