South Carolina Injury & Accident Lawyers

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SC Remington Recall

Whether you’re a deer hunter looking forward to this autumn’s harvest or someone who enjoys indoor target shooting, if you own a Remington rifle you’ll want to check out whether it is included in the recent recall.

On April 11, the Remington Arms Company issued a voluntary nationwide recall of their Model 700 and Model Seven rifles equipped with the X-Mark Pro trigger that was manufactured between May 2006 and April 9, 2014. Their website gives detailed instructions for determining whether your gun is one of those recalled because it can accidentally discharge.

If you have one of the recalled Remington rifles, you’re certainly not alone. The Model 700 bolt-action rifles have been popular because of their accuracy and “smooth trigger,” with more than 5 million of them sold since 1962. The X-Mark Pro trigger on the recalled rifles can discharge when small amounts of rust, debris, or even a small jolt can cause the trigger connector to become misaligned. In some cases, rifles have discharged as the safety was moved to the off position to unload the gun or when the bolt was opened, closed or even just touched.

More than 75 lawsuits have been filed alleging the Model 700 is susceptible to firing without the trigger being pulled. At least two dozen deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to accidental discharges involving the 700′s trigger mechanism.

Earlier this month, a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Missouri was settled, at least preliminarily. The parties must file a formal settlement agreement by October 30, which will be submitted to the judge for approval. In that case, a man alleged his rifle had fired accidentally three times, twice when the safety was released and once when the bolt was opened.

Other suits have been filed by plaintiffs who experienced an actual injury or death due to the faulty trigger mechanism. A Texas jury awarded $17 million to a man who lost his foot when the rifle accidentally discharged. A settlement ended a tragic Montana case filed after a nine-year-old boy was killed when his mother’s Remington 700 went off as she was unloading it.

We were all shocked when it came to light that GM had long been aware of the faulty ignition switches that caused the loss of many lives and that the company had chosen not to make design improvements because they wanted to protect their bottom line. Guess what? Remington did the same thing.

Investigative reports, as well as documents filed in Remington lawsuits, show that the manufacturer knew back in 1948 that the trigger’s design could result in a misalignment and accidental discharge, yet they rejected the proposed design change because of the cost, said to be pennies per gun.

Not only that, Remington considered a nationwide recall of the 700 series in 1979 and again in 1994 but instead decided to offer to retrofit existing rifles — for a $20 fee.

For purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter what side of the gun control issue you come down on. The question is not who should be allowed to have guns or where. The point is that gun manufacturers who deliberately put a defective weapon on the market should be held accountable for the deaths and injuries those weapons cause. Some say they should also have to compensate owners of the recalled rifles for the loss in resale value, similar to the damages sought by owners of Chevy Cobalts.

If you own a Remington rifle, please take the time to determine whether it is subject to the recent recall. The South Carolina gun accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can advise you of your rights if you or your loved one has been injured by a negligent gun manufacturer or gun user. Call us in Columbia at 888-440-3211 for a free consultation.

SC Tattoo Lawsuits

Statistics from the Pew Research Center compiled from a December 2013 poll show that 14% of all Americans (45 million) have at least one tattoo; 36% of adults age 18-25 have at least one tattoo; and 40% of adults 26-40 have at least one. Tats aren’t just for rebels or seamen any more. No longer is sporting a colorful tattoo a sign that one is a risk taker. And yet, there are definitely risks involved in getting inked. We’re not talking about the risk that you might someday regret having that romance indelibly memorialized on your bicep – we’re talking about the risk of serious infection, bloodborne diseases and allergic reactions.

Contaminated Ink

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), contaminated inks have caused serious infections in a number of states. Of particular concern is a bacterial organism called non-tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM), which can cause infections of skin, joints, lungs, and other organs, as well as eye problems. These infections can be difficult to diagnose and can require treatment lasting six months or longer with a combination of antibiotics. Severe abscesses can require extensive and multiple surgical debridements.

In June of this year, two San Diego residents were diagnosed with NTM infections caused by contaminated tattoo inks; both required medical treatment. Previous clusters of outbreaks have been reported in New York, Iowa, Washington and Colorado. The 14 infections in New York were caused by a prediluted gray ink that was contaminated by the use of non-sterile water by the manufacturer. After the FDA’s investigation of the illnesses in New York and the other states, two ink manufacturers voluntarily recalled inks implicated in the outbreaks.

Ink can also be contaminated when the tattoo artist does not use adequate precautions during the tattooing process. Tap, bottled, filtered and distilled water are not sufficiently sterile to dilute ink, wash the skin or rinse the needle between colors. In addition, the use of tattoo inks past their expiration date subjects customers to the risk of infection.

Bloodborne Diseases

If the equipment used to create the tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, it can spread various bloodborne diseases — including hepatitis B and C (which may lead to life-long liver damage and subsequent liver cancer), HIV, tetanus and tuberculosis. Obviously, the consequences of these diseases are seriously and deadly.

Untrained, Unlicensed “Scratchers”

Almost all states regulate tattoo parlors. To become licensed under South Carolina law, a tattoo artist must be 21 and “must possess a certificate of successful completion, on an annual basis, of a course in bloodborne pathology and tattoo infection control as approved by the (Department of Health and Environmental Control), a current American Red Cross First Aid Certification and Adult Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification obtained either from the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.” The state also regulates the location of tattoo parlors and the age limits of customers.

People who do tattoos without being properly trained and licensed are known as “scratchers.” An unlicensed 20-year-old scratcher was arrested in Columbia on July 8 after two juveniles became ill from ink work done in the man’s apartment. Bryce Napoleon Fashaw was charged with two counts of unlawful tattooing. He faces a $2,500 fine and/or one year in prison for each count. Details of the victims’ illnesses are not known.

Bad Tattoo? What to Do.

If you or someone in your family is proudly sporting some new body art, you should be closely monitoring the inked area for signs of infection: redness, heat, swelling or pus around the tattoo. NTM infections are easy to misdiagnose, with symptoms that appear much like an allergic reaction (red papules, or solid, raised spots on the skin that often appear soon after a new tattoo), so don’t take chances – see a physician.

There are many potential causes of tattoo-related health problems, and a number of possible sources of compensation to help pay for the medical expenses and pain and suffering endured by the victim. At The Louthian Law Firm, we can help you hold the responsible parties – the ink and equipment manufacturers, the careless practitioners, the disreputable business owners – accountable for your loss. Call 1-888-440-3211.

Shopping for a used car or truck? You probably assume that the dealer will have fixed any recalled parts and that it’s safe to drive off the lot. If that’s what you think, you’re probably wrong.

Already in 2014, 39.85 million vehicles have been recalled. How many of those do you think are sitting on used-car lots? And the dealer is not required to fix a recall defect on a used car before selling it. In fact, they don’t even have to tell you about the outstanding recall. Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers.

This is why nearly a dozen consumer safety groups have filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission urging the FTC to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the used-car superstore chain. The groups allege that CarMax uses deceptive advertising and sales practices when it characterizes its used vehicles as “CarMax Quality Certified” and assures consumers that each used vehicle has passed a rigorous inspection. Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), said, “CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers’ lives.”

CarMax has responded to the petition by stating that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future recalls.” As to existing recalls, CarMax pointed out that “manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls.” What they failed to acknowledge is that CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers . . . and then sell them. A NHTSA rule will take effect August 14 requiring all auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every seven days. Thus, CarMax and every other used-car dealer will find it even easier to check the safety recall status of their vehicles.

Here is what happened to Clarence and Angela Davidson, a California couple who bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, just two months ago. A short time after the purchase, the Davidsons contacted Chrysler because they wanted to add a feature to the truck. That’s when they were told that the truck had a serious safety defect and was under a federal safety recall. Chrysler had made the recall in 2013 because the rear axle pinion nut could come loose, causing a crash without warning. The Davidsons tried to return the truck to CarMax, but they were told that basically they were out of luck and they were responsible for getting it repaired. The couple then took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled the girl out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames, starting a fire that burned several acres and closing the highway for about four hours. We don’t know yet whether the accident was caused by a part under recall, but we do know that CarMax sold these folks a vehicle that was unsafe.

Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act prohibits new car dealers from selling recalled vehicles without first fixing the safety defects, but it does not hold used-car dealers to the same standard. In a June 24 letter to the FTC, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said if the FTC does not act to prevent used car dealers from selling defective vehicles, he will take legislative action to address this issue.

As the Senator said, “used cars with a safety recall shouldn’t roll one inch off the lot.”

If you’re shopping for a used car or truck, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of any used vehicle you are considering BEFORE you agree to anything. Look on the manufacturer’s website or call a local dealer and provide them with the VIN. They can give you recall information that could save your life.

If a defective vehicle has caused an injury or death in your family, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm – 1-888-440-3211. We’ve been securing justice for hardworking people and families since 1959, and we don’t believe any merchant should play Russian Roulette with your loved ones’ lives.

Columbia’s newspaper, The State, has reported that seven – and maybe more – people suffered serious infections after they were treated at University Specialty Clinics for orthopedic problems. University Specialty Clinics is staffed by doctors from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia and has nearly 200 doctors in 35 specialties.

Although the infected patients were treated in 2012 or 2013, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has stonewalled, refusing to release information about the problem.

The problem was mycobacteria, some forms of which cause tuberculosis and leprosy. But the particular form in question at the University Specialty Clinics is mycobacterium abscessus, in a group of environmental mycobacteria found in water, soil, and dust. It can also contaminate medications and products such as medical devices and syringes. According to the National Institutes of Health, the prevalence of nontuberculous mycobacteria has increased, and so it is no surprise that we are hearing increasingly about instances of infections acquired in a healthcare setting.

How did the USC infections occur? The State tells us that one woman’s infection developed after she had a cortisone shot for a knee problem. It was so severe that she wound up being hospitalized 10 times and having seven surgeries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people “who receive injections without appropriate skin disinfection may be at risk for infection by M. abscessus.” As this victim’s experience illustrates, the mycobacterium abscessus organism is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. For patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions, a mycobacterial infection can lead to chronic lung diseases.

Some mycobacterium abscessus infections have been associated with the use of alternative therapies. In the mid ‘90s, an injectable product claiming to contain adrenal cortex extract (ACE) infected 87 people because one distributor’s medication had been contaminated when manufactured under non-sterile conditions in a Florida lab. Some patients required drainage of the infected site, surgical excision and plastic surgery.

A study done after the ACE outbreak reported mycobacterium infections resulting from cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery, podiatric procedures, invasive procedures to improve hearing, and dialysis. It also cited a large outbreak in Colombia (not Columbia) when 350 patients were infected by injections of lidocaine from multi-dose vials. A cluster of infections also occurred in a Texas clinic when nurses giving allergy shots did not properly prepare the skin before injection.

Patients who develop any of the following symptoms after receiving an injection should see their doctor immediately:

  • Site of injection becomes red, warm, and tender to the touch
  • Tissue is swollen and/or painful
  • Area develops boils or pus-filled blisters
  • Patient has fever, chills, muscle aches, and a general feeling of illness.

To make a definite diagnosis, the doctor must take a sample of the discharge or biopsy the infected area and send it to a lab for analysis.

Because many bacterial abscesses occur as a result of improper procedures in healthcare settings, a patient who has been the victim of a medical provider’s negligence may wish to file a lawsuit to recover damages which can help pay for the pain they suffer and lengthy treatment they may require. As Columbia medical malpractice lawyers, we at The Louthian Law Firm know where to start and how to proceed in order to arrive at a just conclusion for patients who were harmed by those they trusted to help them become well. Call us at 1-888-440-3211.

One of the most refreshing activities for a hot summer day is a plunge in a chilly swimming pool, and you can find them all over our southern state – in residential backyards, community centers, amusement parks, motels, and apartment complexes. They’re the site of much frivolity, as well as athletic competition, but they can also be the site of tragic accidents.

Already this year we’ve read of several drownings in South Carolina swimming pools. On the last day of May, a 2-year-old Columbia boy drowned in a home swimming pool. The child and his 3-year-old sister managed to get out of the house while their parents slept, by piling up child-sized plastic furniture, climbing on it and unlocking the door.

Just two weeks later, a 3-year-old drowned in her grandmother’s swimming pool in Abbeville County. The woman went into the bathroom and when she came out she was not able to find the little girl in the house. She discovered her outside, in the swimming pool. The grandmother administered CPR, but the child did not survive.

On Friday, June 20, 2014, a young woman was found unconscious in a Conway apartment complex pool. Reportedly, she had been swimming alone there for about 15 minutes. The coroner ruled the death an accidental drowning.

According to the CDC, there are about 3,500 drowning deaths each year, not including those that happen from boating accidents. That’s about 10 people per day. Children ages 1 to 4 are most at risk. Only birth defects account for more deaths in this age group. If you extend the age group to include ages 1 to 14, only motor vehicle accidents cause more unintentional accident-related deaths.

What factors increase the risk of a drowning death?

  • Lack of swimming ability. A survey conducted for the Red Cross found that even though 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of them could perform all five of the basic skills that could save their life in the water (see below). Less than half of the parents of children aged 4-17 describe their children as possessing these necessary skills and yet more than 90 percent expected their kids would be participating in water activities this summer.
  • Lack of barriers such as fencing. A four-sided fence separating the pool area from the house and yard is said to reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83% compared to a regular property-line fence. Additionally, the fenced area should be well secured and inaccessible to children. According to USASwimming.org, most youngsters who drowned in home swimming pools had last been seen inside the house, had been out of sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the accident.
  • Lack of supervision. It goes without saying that children should be kept under constant supervision in the pool area. This is not always easy to do, especially when the pool is crowded and there are dozens of little heads bouncing up and down. A tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye. Stay close enough to reach your child at all times, and don’t get caught up in conversations, reading or sunbathing, assuming a lifeguard or another parent will be able to rescue your child in an emergency.

Swimming lessons won’t prevent all water tragedies, but they certainly will increase a person’s chances of surviving. We alluded above to the five basic water safety skills the Red Cross says could save your life in a swimming pool. Can you and your children do these things?

  • Step or jump into water over your head, return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute, without a flotation device
  • Tread water or float in a full circle and find an exit from the pool
  • Swim 25 yards (the length of a standard pool)
  • Exit from the water without using a ladder.

It’s worth testing all of your family members on these skills, even if you and they think they are safe swimmers.

We hope you’re enjoying your summer in the sun. We hope and pray your family doesn’t have to endure the sorrow experienced by those who lost a loved one in a drowning accident. In some cases negligence plays a part in swimming pool accidents, and in those situations the Louthian Law Firm is pledged to help the grieving family find at least some measure of justice from the responsible parties. Call 888-440-3211 if you have any questions about a swimming pool accident in the Columbia area this summer.

The official Atlantic hurricane season began June 1. That’s why the month of June is Hurricane Preparedness Month. In South Carolina, the first week of June was proclaimed Hurricane Awareness Week.

Are you aware of the fact that this year is the 60th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel? Hazel, a Category 4 storm, made landfall on October 15, 1954, near the border of North and South Carolina. Her winds packed a 106-mph punch and shoved a 16.9-foot storm surge onto the land. One South Carolinian was killed and damage in the Palmetto State was estimated at $27 million. North Carolina fared much worse, with 19 deaths and $136 million in property damage; 15,000 homes and structures were destroyed and 39,000 damaged.

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ATV-accidents-columbia-sc

“Crunch time” – that’s what they call the period from May through September, when ATV-related incidents are at their peak. ATVs have become increasingly popular; dealers reported sales of 228,305 new ATVs in 2013. Sadly, each year thousands of riders are injured or killed while out on an ATV adventure.

During the first week of June, we read of six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken being critically injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Arizona. Amy hit a curb in a restaurant parking lot and went over a dropoff of 5 to 7 feet. The accident severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae; slivers of bone narrowly missed rupturing her aorta. After being airlifted to a hospital in Scottsdale, Amy underwent surgery to stabilize the spine. She remains paralyzed and has a long road ahead of her in rehabilitation.

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South Carolina Parasailing Safety

Approximately 3.8 million people enjoy the sport of parasailing each year, according to Parasail.org. It’s one of the fastest growing adventure sports, available at nearly all of the major coastline tourist areas. There are approximately 240 parasail companies in the United States, with more than 650 boats providing a seagull’s view of sandy shores. Thrilling . . . but how safe is it?

The Parasail Safety Council, which has tracked injuries and deaths from the activity, reports that in the U.S. 73 people were killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012. That’s a low accident rate, but when a parasailing mishap does occur, it can be terrifying, with lifelong results.

You may recall the horrific accident in Panama City, Florida, in July of 2013 that was caught on video and viewed worldwide. Two teenage girls took a tandem parasail ride that had a tragic end. The tow line to the boat snapped, leaving the pair at the mercy of a gusting wind which slammed them into the 13th floor of a condominium complex and propelled them into power lines before they crashed into cars parked below. Both girls were hospitalized in critical condition in Florida and then were transferred to a facility in Indianapolis for rehabilitation. One girl’s spine was cracked and she sustained brain trauma that has left her with double vision and loss of peripheral vision. Her friend has had three cranial surgeries and extensive spinal surgery since the accident. She lost a large portion of her skull and still struggles with balance, mobility and learning.

An investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board made the following findings regarding the Panama City accident, which are instructive to all of us as we assess the safety of parasail adventures for our own families:

  • The wind conditions on the day of the accident far exceeded the safety recommendations on the parasail equipment. The manufacturer’s label on the 39-foot parasail warned that it was not intended for use in winds of more than 12 mph, but on the Coast Guard estimated that on the afternoon of the accident wind speeds were more than 20 mph with gusts of 31 mph. In fact, other parasail operators had ceased operations for the day because of an approaching storm front that was visible on radar and with the naked eye.
  • The boat and winch system, made in 1998, was designed for parasails smaller than the 39-footer used in the accident. Once the winds picked up, the winch was not strong enough to pull the riders back in.
    • The boat captain did not adhere to recommendations about distance from shore while parasailing.
  • Coast Guard guidelines recommend a minimum of 2,000 feet from shore in wind conditions from 0-10 mph, and 5,000 feet in wind conditions of more than 20 mph.

Who regulates parasailing? The federal government controls it to a limited extent, through the Coast Guard and the FAA, which has issued altitude limitations to 400 feet for all commercial parasail operations. Only two states – Virginia and New Jersey – have passed laws regulating the activity. A new bill has passed the Florida legislature and is expected to be signed by the governor. Advocates of parasailing regulation have been attempting to get something passed in Florida for four years. The measure which appears to be headed for enactment would require the following:

  • Parasailing companies would have to have at least $1 million in insurance.
  • Parasailing must cease when winds reach a speed of more than 20 mph and when lightning is within 7 miles.
  • Parasail boats would have to have a U.S. Coast Guard license and be equipped with weather radar with real-time forecasts.
  • There would be limitations on parasail canopy size.
  • Canopies, passenger support systems and tow lines would have mandatory replacement dates based on number of flights or age.

The family of one of the girls injured in the Panama City accident has filed a lawsuit against the parasail operator (Aquatic Adventures Management Group), its owner and the Treasure Island Resort. It alleges the operators negligently ignored dangerous weather conditions, used unsafe equipment, and were too close to shore. They seek compensation for past medical costs, future medical expenses including surgeries, and loss of companionship.

Can any amount of money return these girls to their pre-accident days of carefree living? Of course not. But perhaps it will help provide rehabilitation and therapy that will make the rest of their days a bit easier. That’s the goal of personal injury lawyers, including those at The Louthian Law Firm. If an owner’s or operator’s negligence resulted in an injury to someone in your family, call the Columbia amusement injury attorneys at 888-440-3211.

If you’re like most parents nowadays, you’re looking every year for something to make your child’s birthday party special. Pin the Tail on the Donkey gave way long ago to more adventurous activities, things like the increasingly popular bounce house, set up in your own backyard by one of thousands of party rental companies. Kids think they’re loads of fun, and parents assume they’re safe . . . that is, until an accident happens and a child is injured or killed. You should be aware that injuries on inflatable amusement structures are not uncommon.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 4,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States are linked to inflatables. Bounce houses (also known as moonbounces) cause the vast majority of injuries, but they’re not the only inflatable amusement attractions. Slides, obstacle courses, climbing walls and interactive (such as boxing or jousting) inflatables also feature in the accident statistics.

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Columbia Zip line Accident

Is a zip line ride on your bucket list? Are you planning to include an aerial adventure in your summer vacation plans, maybe on one of the lines in Myrtle Beach or crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina? Spend a little time inquiring about the company’s safety and inspection policies. The Redwoods Group Foundation provides risk analysis and insurance for camps, community centers and playgrounds. They encourage scrutiny of zip lines from the standpoint of design, installation, maintenance and supervision.

“They are spreading like fast-food hamburger joints.” That’s what Mike Teske told the Los Angeles Times, and he wasn’t talking about nail salons. Teske is the technical director for a zip line company, and he also heads a panel drafting national safety standards for zip lines. Zip lines are the latest commercial adventure craze, offering thrills to at least 18 million people each year, according to the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).

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