Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Motorcoaches are a popular way to travel. The Greyhound slogan was “Leave the driving to us,” and many thousands of people do leave the driving to Greyhound and other motorcoach operators every year. In 2010, U.S. motorcoach companies provided nearly 700 million passenger trips, second only to the airlines. Bus transportation is generally safe, but when an accident does happen, there are likely to be multiple victims.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that between 2000 and 2009, there were 87 fatal crashes of motorcoaches, resulting in 209 fatalities.

On April 10, 2014, a fiery collision between a FedEx big rig and a motorcoach carrying California high school students left 10 people dead. The accident is still under investigation, and federal authorities are again considering what measures can be taken to improve the safety of bus passengers. It was only a few months ago that NHTSA issued a rule mandating that all motorcoaches made after 2016 be equipped with three-point shoulder-lap safety belts. The Silverado Stages vehicle in the Orland, California, crash was brand new, and it had seat belts, even though it was not required to. You have to wonder how many of the high school students had actually buckled up.

The first motorcoach accident investigated by the NTSB occurred in 1968, when a charter coach overturned and burned near Baker, California. Nineteen of the 30 passengers aboard were killed. Even way back then, the NTSB found that “one of the primary causes of passenger injury and fatalities in motorcoach accidents is that the passengers are thrown out of their seats or ejected when a bus sustains a front, side, or rear impact or rolls over,” and they advocated passenger restraint systems.

On February 14, 2003, a crash near Hewitt, Texas, killed 5 and injured 9, and the NTSB found that the fatalities were a result of occupants’ being ejected from their seats.

Two high-profile motorcoach accidents in 2008 —one in Sherman, Texas, and the other near Mexican Hat, Utah— resulted in numerous passenger fatalities and serious injuries. At that time it was noted that “even when the motorcoach remains relatively intact during an accident, passengers lacking a protective seating environment can be thrown from their seating area and killed or injured.”

In passing the final rule requiring safety belts in motorcoaches after 2016, NHTSA took what some consider to be just the first step toward passenger safety. They did not require that older buses be retrofit with seatbelts, nor did they take measures to help ensure that passengers avail themselves of the safety equipment when it is available. In light of the fact that innocent people are still dying in motorcoach accidents, even when safety belts have been installed, it would seem that an additional step could provide additional protection – i.e., reminder systems like what we are accustomed to in our personal vehicles and on airplanes.

A news report following the California crash quoted a former NTSB chairman as saying, “Unfortunately, motorcoach safety has historically been an orphan at NHTSA. This is the transportation that carries primarily older people, students and low-income people. It hasn’t been a priority (for regulators).”

Wow. No wonder it took an act of Congress (the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012) to put safer buses on the road, resulting in the NHTSA rule re seat belts. Sounds like NHTSA needs to improve upon its own rule and also find a way to make passengers take advantage of the improvements the carriers have to pay for. And they haven’t even addressed the other topics Congress told them to look at, like ease of evacuation, fire suppression, smoke suppression and improved fire extinguishers, all factors which could have been at play in the California crash.

If you or a family member is injured in a motorcoach accident, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm – 888-440-3211. We believe you deserve more than a chance – you deserve a voice.

FDR said, in his second inaugural address, “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.” He was referring to the abuses that led to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

GM Auto Recall

Even now, nearly eight decades later, we find that corporate greed has led to unconscionable decisions which, in turn, have resulted in peril for one of America’s industrial giants and for millions of American citizens. I’m referring to the choice by GM not to spend one dollar per car to correct the problems with the ignition switch that has cost at least 12 people their lives and caused 31 accidents. GM itself faces a criminal investigation and multiple lawsuits alleging they knew about the faulty ignition switches in 2002 but waited until 2014 to recall a total of 2.5 million vehicles that have ignition switches that may easily be moved out of the “run” position and into the “auxiliary” position, causing loss of power, steering, braking, airbags and lighting. That’s bad economics any way you look at it.

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This year we’ll be celebrating Presidents’ Day on February 17. Originally established to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, President’s Day is now viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents.

We’re in mind of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, who said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Why did Jefferson think so? Because the media plays an important role and provides a great service to the public by informing them about topics that could have a direct impact on their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And why are we reminded of this just now? Because news organizations have been following and reporting on a situation of great importance to residents in our area – the groundwater contamination by a Hoechst Celanese polyester fiber plant previously located in Spartanburg. Residents of the Cannons Campground community allege that the pollution has exposed them to serious health issues, including cancer, sometimes leading to untimely death.

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Any surgery has risks, even those we think of as routine. We often don’t think twice about scheduling some procedures for our children because they are so common they seem to be harmless; and, of course, the vast majority of us would never knowingly subject our children to harm. But even “routine” surgeries can have complications, as these recent news reports show.

South Carolina Surgery Mistakes

A 13-year-old girl in California was declared brain dead three days after undergoing a routine tonsil removal surgery in December 2013. The child’s physician recommended the surgery because she suffered from sleep apnea. During the patient’s recovery, she experienced excessive bleeding and trouble breathing, went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead. Whether or not she will remain on life support is a continuing issue before the courts.

Tonsillectomy is the most common surgical procedure in children. More than half a million tonsillectomies are performed in the United States each year. According to The Journal of Family Practice, mortality rates for the operation range from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 35,000. The most common complication is postoperative bleeding, which usually occurs within the first 24 hours after surgery. About 1 in 200 patients is returned to the OR so that bleeding can be controlled. Other complications can include pain, nausea and vomiting. Many tonsillectomies are performed on an outpatient basis, but the Journal recommends that patients with sleep apnea, coagulation disorders, or other underlying diseases, and anyone younger than 4 years of age or living a long distance from the hospital should be admitted for overnight observation.

Earlier this year, in February, another teenaged patient died after a routine tonsillectomy at a surgical center. After the surgery, she was given Fentanyl, a strong narcotic pain reliever known to depress respiration. Her failing respiratory condition went unnoticed and she sustained significant brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. She died 15 days later. The family filed a medical malpractice case against the surgical center and received $6 million in settlement.

Another common surgical procedure for children and young adults is the removal of wisdom teeth. In March of 2013, a 24-year-old California man died unexpectedly after undergoing this routine oral procedure in a doctor’s office. A former football player, he had no known health problems. During the procedure, the patient woke up coughing, so he was given more anesthesia. (The medical records later showed he received five kinds of sedative medications, including propofol.) He went into cardiac arrest. Responding EMTs took him to a hospital, where he died three days later.

Another death from the administration of propofol during wisdom tooth surgery occurred in 2011, when a 13-year-old girl from Ohio died of brain damage. She never awoke from the sedation given in the doctor’s office. The girl was taken to a hospital, where she died two weeks later. The parents won a $1 million settlement in a personal injury lawsuit.

In April 2012, a 17-year-old Maryland girl went to her doctor for removal of her wisdom teeth. Just 15 minutes after the procedure began, she experienced respiratory complications. Her brain was severely damaged and she died 10 days later. The oral surgeon and the anesthesiologist were named in a lawsuit, which was settled for a confidential sum.

Although these kinds of tragic outcomes are rare, there are some important questions to ask your doctor or dentist before you or your child has a “routine” surgical procedure:

• Is the office the right setting for the procedure, or are there medical issues that might make it safer to go to the hospital?
• Who will be giving sedation or anesthesia?
• What type of sedation or anesthesia will be used?
• Will someone other than the surgeon be monitoring blood pressure, heart rate and breathing? (The answer should be yes.)
• Is equipment available if the patient stops breathing?
• Is someone on staff certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support?
• What is the doctor’s plan in case of emergency?
• Who will monitor the patient’s recovery and supervise their discharge?

If you or someone you care about has suffered complications from a “routine” procedure, contact the Louthian Law Firm today by using our online form or call toll free at 888-662-0434 or locally at 803-454-1200. We have been helping injured people find justice since 1959.

Drunk driving has claimed another life in South Carolina.

The driver of a car that killed a state Department of Transportation worker on I-20 in Lexington County has been charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

There were 357 motor vehicle fatalities in South Carolina linked to alcohol impairment in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available. More than 19,000 arrests for driving under the influence were made.

Following is from The State newspaper:
Thomas Lee Stafford, 39, is accused of driving drunk when his 2003 Nissan SUV fatally wounded Nicholas Johnson, who was walking along the road’s emergency lane near mile marker 62, according to Highway Patrol spokesman Brent Kelly.

Stafford continued to drive for another half-mile or so after hitting Johnson, Kelly said, before eventually pulling off the road. Stafford is charged with driving under the influence involving death, a felony, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Stafford’s vehicle swerved to the right and hit Johnson from behind, killing the man, but Highway Patrol investigators aren’t sure as to why.

The victim, who was only 21, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Victims and their families whose lives are disrupted by the recklessness of a drunk motorist may have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina.

Sources:
* The State http://www.thestate.com/2012/12/03/2542921/worker-killed-in-i-20-collision.html
* Century Council http://www.centurycouncil.org/state-facts

Last week Contra Costa County was ordered to pay over $13 million to settle two separate lawsuits. In one case they will pay $1.5 million to the family of a man shot by sheriffs in a wrongful death claim. The second suit requires they pay $11.7 million to the family of man who died in a crash on a county road.

The county will pay $1.5 million in the case of a man who was shot in 2009 in the emergency room at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. The man had checked himself in for treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He became agitated and he attempted to cut the restraints off himself with a knife. His children, who filed the lawsuit, claimed the deputies used excessive force.

In the other case, jurors found the county failed to keep the road safe during road resurfacing work after a man died when he was struck by a vehicle that ran off the road after he stopped to help another driver. The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that “the county failed to cover higher speed limit signs and sweep off gravel during the resurfacing work..

A “wrongful death” is a death caused by the carelessness (negligence) or misconduct of another person or organization. The Louthian Law Firm has vast experience in pursuing wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today at 1-866-454-1200 for a free evaluation of your unique case.

Contra Costa pays $1.5m over hospital shooting
Jury orders Contra Costa to pay $11.7M in crash

Sono Bello Body Contour Center, a cosmetic clinic in Bellevue, Washington, has agreed to pay $1.8 million to the family of a bride-to-be who went to the clinic for liposuction in May 2009 and died hours later. The 28-year-old went to the clinic for the procedure then checked into a nearby hotel to recover. The hotel maids found the woman’s body the next morning. The King County Medical Examiner ruled that she died from “acute lidocaine intoxication..

Lidocaine is a nerve blocker that is pumped into the body to suppress pain during liposuction. When a representative from the Society of Plastic Surgeons was asked by KING 5 News to interpret the levels of lidocaine found, she said they were “really, really high, stratospheric high..

In the settlement neither Sono Bello nor the doctor, admitted any wrongdoing. The family’s lawyer said that Sono Bello offered a higher, undisclosed amount if they would keep the settlement confidential. The family refused to do so and accepted a lower amount.

Since this death, the state of Washington now requires all clinics to be accredited by one of four national agencies. Prior to this case, cosmetic clinics were not licensed or inspected. In addition, the health department has charged the doctor who performed the procedure with unprofessional conduct and delivering medical care below state standards. His hearing is scheduled for November.

A “wrongful death” is a death caused by the carelessness (negligence) or misconduct of another person or organization. The Louthian Law Firm has vast experience in pursuing wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today at 1-800-410-5656 for a free evaluation of your unique case.

Woman Dies After Liposuction Procedure
Settlement Reached in Wrongful Death

The family of a teenager who was killed in a June 2009 auto accident has sued the town of Cary, North Carolina for wrongful death, alleging the town failed to maintain a safe roadway. The town has not had a similar suit brought against them in over 15 years.
The 16-year-old was a front-seat passenger when the car in which she was riding swerved at the intersection of Cary Glen Boulevard to avoid striking another vehicle. The driver, the girl’s stepmother, then lost control of the vehicle which flipped several times. There was not a stoplight in the intersection at the time, but after the death and public outcry, a traffic light was installed.
The lawsuit claims the town “negligently failed to install a traffic signal” where the girl died. They are seeking financial damages in excess of $10,000.
A “wrongful death” is a death caused by the carelessness (negligence) or misconduct of another person or organization. The Louthian Law Firm has vast experience in pursuing wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today at 1-866-454-1200 for a free evaluation of your unique case.
Wrongful Death in Accident

A widow and her two sons were awarded $6.7 million by a jury in Fresno County, California in the death of her husband who was struck by a tractor-trailer while filling the bus he had been driving with fuel. The wrongful death award also included over $500,000 for a nephew who witnessed the accident and has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The deceased had volunteered to drive the Sierra Pines Church of Oakhurst bus. When he pulled over on the side of highway State Route 99 in Merced County to put fuel into the bus in April 2009, two approaching semis “became entangled as one attempted to pass the other.” One of the trailers hit the man and the bus.

Lawyers presented testimony, which led to a verdict well beyond the $3 million offered as settlement, regarding the wife who was one of 25 students on a bus in 1976 that was commandeered by three armed men. The men buried the children and the bus driver underground in a moving van. All of the victims survived after digging their way out when their kidnappers fell asleep. The testimony was key because the woman’s husband had helped her overcome her fear of buses by getting his bus-driver’s license so she would feel comfortable enough to get on a bus with him.

The trucking companies, Logos Group Inc. and Triple E Produce, were both named in the lawsuit.

A “wrongful death” is a death caused by the carelessness (negligence) or misconduct of another person or organization. The Louthian Law Firm has vast experience in pursuing wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today at 1-800-410-5656 for a free evaluation of your unique case.

Nebraska Medical Center (NMC) in Omaha has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a child who died at the Center in March of last year after receiving 10 times the amount of heparin she was prescribed. The 23-month-old child was in the hospital for an infection following a liver, pancreas and small bowel transplant she received there in December 2009.

The parents filed the lawsuit, also naming a dialysis center that provides nurses for NMC, claiming their child’s condition had been improving when a nurse mistakenly gave the girl the wrong dosage of heparin. Heparin was administered intravenously over a five-hour period.

According to the lawsuit, the overdose caused severe bleeding in the toddler’s brain, excruciating pain during the next 48 hours and, ultimately her death. The hospital acknowledged that an overdose of heparin contributed to the toddler’s death, but said it may not have been the sole cause.

Overdoses of heparin, which are believed to have caused dozens of deaths over the last several years, led the Joint Commission to issue a safety alert in 2008 urging hospitals to adopt strict measures to prevent such errors.

A “wrongful death” is a death caused by the carelessness (negligence) or misconduct of another person or organization. The Louthian Law Firm has vast experience in pursuing wrongful death lawsuits. Call us today at 866-454-1200 for a free evaluation of your unique case.

Wrongful Death