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Friday, February 27, 2009

Buffalo Plane Crash Lawsuits Begin to Trickle in

Families of those killed on Continental Connections Flight 3407 have begun to file lawsuits over what appears to have been a preventable aviation accident. While several families have already hired legal representation, it is expected that most families will do so in the future.

Losing a loved one in an aviation accident is an experience most of us will hopefully never have to go through. For those who have lost a loved one, the experience is described as surreal or numbing. While these words seem obvious, those who have never gone through this kind of a loss can’t really understand. It’s because of this time of shock and grief that the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 was created. This federal law requires a 45-day waiting period in which attorneys cannot approach the families. However, the families may always contact an attorney whenever they want.

The families and loved ones of those killed on Flight 3407 may have different reasons for filing lawsuits. For many, it is simple economics. When the person who was bringing in most of the family’s income has died, those left behind will need to be taken care of. This is one of the obvious reasons.

The other reason is the nature of this accident. While it will take up to a year before the NTSB finishes its report on the crash, some theories as to what the cause was are being bandied about. If it was ice on the wings that brought down the turboprop, then what was it doing flying in that kind of weather? Should the flight have been grounded?

If there was icing on the wings, why was the crew allowing the flight to continue on autopilot? The black box shows auto pilot was on seconds before the plane began to roll violently. In fact, the autopilot was adjusting to gain more speed, perhaps due to the icing. As a result, the nose was being forced down. Several authorities believe that the crew may have panicked and pulled the nose back up. This then caused the plane to stall. So, pilot error is another area that is being looked at. And, since the crew has come into question, so has their training. Were they experienced enough to be flying the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400?

How families will get through their own tragedy and not wanting to see other families to go through the same thing are two of the biggest reasons lawsuits are filed in this type of catastrophic accident. It is still believed, and rightly so, that if the airline industry believes lawyers are looking closely at it, they will take steps to improve on how they build airplanes and conduct safety. While no amount of compensation will ever be enough, hopefully this is all it takes to keep aviation disasters as rare as possible.

If you have lost a loved one in a plane crash, you may have cause to file a claim. Please contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Cochran Firm. We serve clients nationwide.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:28 PM

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Companies to Disclose Harmful Ingredients in Cleaning Products

In 1976, the New York State Legislature passed a law requiring manufacturers who sell their cleaning products in New York to file reports detailing the chemicals used in the products and any harmful health and environmental effects associated with these chemicals. In the 32 years since this law has been passed, there has not been a single report filed with the state of New York.

In 2008, environmental groups sent letters to many companies selling cleaning products in New York, asking them to file the reports mandated by this law. A lawsuit has been filed against all of the companies who have ignored this request. Some of the companies involved in this lawsuit include Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Church and Dwight, and Reckitt-Benckiser.

If this lawsuit is successful, it can set a precedent that may lead to similar disclosures across the country. Such disclosure is long overdue. For years, studies have been compiling evidence indicating that many chemicals contained in common cleaning products pose serious health hazards to consumers.

Some of the many potential conditions caused by harmful chemicals in cleaning products include asthma, hormone disruption, breast cancer, miscarriages, and birth defects.

By forcing companies to disclose safety information about the chemicals used in their products, consumers will be able to make more informed decisions about what they expose their families to.

If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or injury from harmful chemicals found in common cleaning products, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. The product liability attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help ensure that your rights are protected. Please contact our product liability lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:35 AM

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Illinois Nursing Home Death

During the night of February 5 this year in Itasca, IL, an 89-year-old nursing home resident, one Sarah Wentworth, wandered out the door. She wore only her nightgown. As a dementia patient she was wearing an ankle bracelet that set off an alarm at the nurses’ station. However the nurse on duty at the time was watching a television show and did not get up to investigate.

At about 5 a.m. Wentworth was found dead outside the nursing home and her body was placed in her bed. Nursing home personnel claimed that she died in her sleep. Later it was noticed that her body was cool to the touch – cooler than room temperature. Police then began an investigation into her death.

Many Unanswered Questions

The medical examiner listed hypothermia as one of the causes of death. Hypothermia is a very low body temperature, too low to sustain life. Investigators have found that she must have been outdoors for about an hour and a half before her body was found.

Wentworth was a frail woman who could not get up out of bed or dress herself without assistance. She had lived for over two years at this nursing home. One of the home’s policies requires staff to look around in the area between the nursing station and the courtyard door whenever an alarm goes off.

  • How did she manage to go through two doors that both had alarms, especially since she needed a walker to get around?
  • Had she been left up all night?
  • Did someone help her out of bed and give her the walker and then disappear?

Wentworth’s daughters have filed a wrongful death suit against the facility – The Arbor Nursing Home – in Cook County Circuit Court. The suit claims that the nursing home and its staff failed to provide proper resident supervision and medical care, and that the home failed to train its staff adequately.

The court has ordered an inspection of the nursing home and the family is conducting its own investigation. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, this facility has had fourteen complaints filed against it in the past twelve months.

Nursing home neglect is a type of elder abuse and is actionable. Our attorneys have a great deal of experience in prosecuting it. If you have a loved one who has been mistreated in a nursing home, please contact our nursing home abuse lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:12 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Golf Clubs Lead to Hearing Damage

In the December 20, 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers reported the case study of a man who came to their clinic describing tinnitus (ringing) and hearing loss. Analysis showed that the man's hearing loss was in only one ear, and that age-related hearing loss could not account for his hearing loss, which was consistent with noise-induced hearing loss. The man reported exposure to only one loud noise: the sound of his golf club, a King Cobra LD. He had been playing golf three times a week for 18 months before discarding the club because the noise was too unpleasant.

The King Cobra LD is a thin-faced titanium driver, recently developed to give amateur golfers a longer drive. It is not currently considered legal for play by the US Golf Association, but it and other similar clubs are very popular with amateurs.

According to the researchers at the British Medical Journal, the sound of titanium-faced drivers is sufficient to cause temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals. Noise levels as high as 120 dB were recorded by the researchers. Therefore, this type of club may be considered an unreasonably dangerous product.

If you have been playing with this type of club or playing with people who use it and believe you may have suffered hearing loss, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Schedule a product liability lawsuit consultation with the lawyers at The Cochran Firm today to learn if you may be eligible for compensation.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:48 AM

Monday, February 23, 2009

Defective Medical Devices

When we go to the doctor, we trust the medical professionals with our most important attribute – our health. Sometimes humans make mistakes, and there are medical malpractice laws to protect us from those mistakes. However, it is also possible that the devices the doctors and medical professionals use may be defective. Defective medical devices can lead to injuries or even fatalities that you may not have had to face if those devices were manufactured properly or used as intended.

Take the shoulder pain pump, for example. The shoulder pain pump is a device that is used to deliver pain medication after arthroscopic surgery. However, it was later discovered that the shoulder pain pump was causing destruction of the cartilage in the joint of the shoulder.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency that gives the seal of approval on new drugs and medical devices. The FDA has to approve medical devices for use and distribution to the public after ensuring that such product is safe for use. Physicians are also required to submit Medical Device Report if they encounter any medical device failure that resulted in an injury, illness or fatality.

The FDA approval only applies to the manufacturer, however. Physicians are not governed by the FDA in how they use medical devices. Even though a medical device is approved by the FDA for one use, a physician may use that device in a manner not approved by the FDA.

Whether the device fails when being used in a manner approved by the FDA, or if the physician was using it in another way, defective medical devices can often pose catastrophic risks to patients.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a defective medical device, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:29 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Legislation May Give Defective Medical Device Victims More Rights

Currently, House and Senate Democrats are seeking to pass legislation that would nullify a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that virtually stripped defective medical device victims of all recourse of action against the products’ manufacturers.

The ruling prevents injured patients and the surviving family members of victims killed by defective medical devices from suing the device manufacturers if the product had received FDA approval.

As a result of this highly misguided and grossly irresponsible Supreme Court ruling, courts all across the country have been dismissing product liability claims against medical device manufacturers for injuries caused by their products’ defects. This ruling has left victims of defective medical products all but helpless when trying to recover fair compensation for their injuries, and it has created a situation where neither the Food and Drug Administration nor medical device manufacturers are being held accountable for errors leading to the severe injury and death of many Americans seeking essential medical treatment.

The description of cases that have been dismissed in the past year will leave you shocked and appalled. Some of the more notable cases include:

  • A woman who suffered internal burn injuries by a medical device intended to reduce her menstrual bleeding
  • A man suffering internal injuries from the use of a prostate treatment device
  • Many patients who sustained serious injuries from defective joint and heart implants

This week in St. Paul, Minnesota, a woman filed a claim against Medtronic after one of their defective defibrillator leads resulted in the death of her 33-year-old husband. Due to the Supreme Court’s decision last year, her claim will most likely be dismissed as well.

Clearly, this legislation must pass in order to restore the rights of defective medical device victims and to create a greater sense of accountability on the part of the FDA and the medical device manufacturers. With such a large number of defective devices receiving approval to be sold on the market, it is clear that the FDA is not doing an adequate job at protecting the safety of Americans.

The Supreme Court is currently deliberating over whether to extend the same protections to drug manufacturers. Considering the large number of pharmaceutical products that are approved before studies can evaluate their long-term side effects, such a ruling would be disastrous to the many Americans seeking recourse for injuries sustained due to defective drugs.

If you have been injured by a defective medical product, the Cochran Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Please contact one of our product liability attorneys today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 7:43 AM

Friday, February 20, 2009

Psoriasis Drug May Cause Brain Infection

The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that three cases, and a possible fourth, of people diagnosed with progressive multifocal leukoenchephalopathy (PML) were caused by the psoriasis treatment drug Raptiva. Three of the four patients have died, and none of the four were taking any treatment that might have suppressed the immune system.

Raptiva is a drug injected once a week for adults who suffer from moderate to severe cases of plaque psoriasis, the most common type of psoriasis. Research has shown psoriasis is caused by a disorder in the immune system, which in turn causes a type of white blood cell called T cells to abnormally trigger an inflammation in the skin. This then causes raised patches on the skin, which are red and can be scaly, itchy, or burn. Raptiva suppresses the T cells and keeps psoriasis from forming.

PML is a disease that can cause severe neurological problems for those who survive. In 80 percent of cases, the victim of this disease is dead within six months.

In October, the FDA told Raptiva’s manufacturer, Genentech, to come up with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS), which includes a guide on educating patients about the risks of the drug. Raptiva’s label was also revised at this time highlighting the chance of PML, as well as other life-threatening infections. However, it wasn’t until yesterday that the FDA decided to take “appropriate steps” to ensure those taking Raptiva were not exposing their selves to overwhelming risks.

The FDA also said patients will be informed about the symptoms of PML and health care professionals will be told to monitor Raptiva patients for signs of PML. Furthermore, the FDA stressed that no patient who is taking Raptiva should quit taking the drug without first making an appointment with their doctor.

The European equivalent of the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, having seen the same reports, has decided to recommend that no more Raptiva prescriptions be written for patients of psoriasis, and that those already on it talk to their doctor about an alternative medicine.

If your loved one has developed an illness by taking a drug meant to help them, please contact the product liability attorneys with the Cochran Firm to schedule an initial consultation today.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:02 PM

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Suit Against the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority

Recently the Children’s National Medical Center and Virginia Tech together did a research study of the lead levels in D.C. tap water between 2001 and 2004. They concluded that many D.C. children could be at risk for:

  • Developmental delays
  • Behavioral problems
  • Permanent intelligence loss

Now a single father, one John Parkhurst, has filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status for the children in D.C. It claims that the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) knew that lead levels were too high, that they withheld language that could have warned people about this problem in public education campaigns, and that they encouraged D.C. residents to drink tap water.

WASA officials have replied that to link lead in drinking water to developmental and behavioral problems would require “scientific and case-specific substantiation”, not just an assertion. They are in continuing communication with the scientific community and health experts on this matter.

Parkhurst’s Twin Boys

Parkhurst’s lawsuit claims that he prepared baby formula and food for his twin boys using tap water, starting when he adopted them from Vietnam at the age of eight months until they were two, in 2002. The boys are now eight years old. When they had an annual medical checkup in 2002, Pankhurst learned that they had dangerous blood lead levels. One child’s lead levels were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Physicians advised him to add more root vegetables to their diet.

By the time the boys were in school, Pankhurst reportedly noticed that one had high anxiety levels and both had severe attention problems. Medical evaluations identified behavioral and learning problems.

The Parkhurst suit wants WASA to pay for his medication and therapy costs for the twins, and for the costs of all other D.C. children who drank the high-lead water before the age of six. It is not yet a class-action suit, as a judge must certify to proceed in that way.

Lead Poisoning Symptoms

Lead ingested above a certain level can certainly be poisonous. It can damage the brain and nervous system, the kidneys and the heart. It can also cause very noticeable symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, chest pain, headaches and even seizures. There is no known use for it in human physiology. It forms deposits in the bones and is very slow to leave the body once it is there.

If you have a child who has sustained a brain injury because of another’s negligence, please call or email our personal injury attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 2:19 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Contaminated Diet Drugs Show FDA's Inability to Protect Consumers

In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released information regarding contaminated diet aids. These non-prescription diet aids, which were sold not only online, but in mainstream retailers including GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe, and they contained unlisted prescription drugs, or, in some cases, drugs that were denied approval or taken off the market due to dangerous side effects.

The FDA website contains a list of the contaminated weight loss products, which contained sibutramine, rimonabant, phenytoin, phenolphthalein, and/or bumetanide.

Sibutramide is an approved prescription drug for treating obesity, but may lead to increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, and seizure. These effects are increased by taking the drug in combination with certain products.

Rimonabant is a drug that was denied approval by the FDA because of its dangerous side effects, including seizures, depression, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts. The drug has been linked to at least 5 deaths in the UK over the past 2 years, and its marketing has been suspended in Europe due to safety concerns.

Phenytoin is an anti-seizure medication, and its use has been linked to the deadly skin conditions Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrosis (TEN).

Phenolphthalein used to be an ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives until 1999 when it was identified as a carcinogenic mutagen.

Bumetanide is a prescription diuretic, which can lead to serious dehydration, low blood pressure, and fainting.

Although the FDA's list of tainted diet aids contains about 70 products, only 1--Starcaps--is currently being recalled. This is not because the other drugs are not dangerous, but because the FDA has no power to compel a recall of the products. It can only ask for recalls, then write warning letters. Eventually, if the companies do not respond, the FDA may order seizure of tainted products, injunctions against the company, and seek criminal charges, but in the meantime hundreds or thousands of people may be hurt by these dangerous products.

The FDA needs help in policing dangerous pharmaceutical products, and your product liability suit may be that help. By targeting the central concern of the companies that manufacture, market, and sell these products--their profits--product liability lawsuits compel companies to better police themselves. Including distributors and retailers in your lawsuit encourages stores to pay better attention to the products they carry on their shelves. And enlisting the aid of The Cochran Firm, an alliance of some of the nation's best lawyers with access to nationwide resources, will make you better able to pursue those responsible and make them pay.

If you have been injured by a contaminated diet drug or any other so-called natural supplement, we can help. Schedule a defective product lawsuit consultation with the product liability lawyers of The Cochran Firm today.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:54 AM

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pilots on Continental Flight Reported Ice Just Before Fatal Crash

Just minutes before Continental Flight 3407 took its near-vertical plunge to devastation this past weekend, pilots of the Buffalo-bound Bombadier Dash 8 Q400, which is a Canadian-built airliner, spoke of "significant ice buildup" on the wings of the plane. When the plane crashed, all 49 aboard were killed, and one man in a house that was demolished by the aircraft also perished in the fiery crash.

Flight 3407's cockpit voice recorder, which has been recovered and pilots are heard discussing the "significant ice buildup on the windshield and leading edge of the wings," will be quite helpful to the NTSB. The United States National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the remnants of the plane and crash site, and it could take months, maybe years, to have a full report explaining what led to the crash.

The flight was a routine, one-hour flight from Newark, NJ to Buffalo. Prior to crashing to the ground, the plane went through a series of violent maneuvers, rolling and pitching to and fro.

When pilots are faced with ice buildup, there are options to consider including seeking warmer air, increasing speed, and requesting higher altitudes. By continuing to fly low and slow in preparation for landing, it's been suggested the crew did not realize the danger they were in; even a paper thin layer of ice can seriously affect an aircraft's ability to fly properly and safely.

The data from the digital flight recorder will give NTSB investigators the information they need to sort out the details of what, specifically, led to the fiery crash.


If your loved one perished in a plane crash, you may have a valid personal injury claim. Please contact the experienced Aviation Accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:16 AM

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dead Rodents, Rat Droppings Found in Contaminated Peanut Plant

Earlier this week, Peanut Corporation of America was forced to close down a second plant. A recent investigation by the Texas Department of State Health Services found dead rodents, rodent excrement, and bird feathers in the Plainview, Texas plant.

As a result, the health department has ordered a recall of all products ever produced and shipped from the plant in its four year history.

The health department discovered the dead rodents and fecal matter in a crawl space near one of the production areas in the plant. The toxic substances from the crawl space were spread throughout the plant by the ventilation system, resulting in a contamination of the many peanut products produced there. While health inspectors have not conclusively determined that the peanut products contained salmonella, it is certain that they are not safe for consumption.

The Texas plant produced oil-roasted peanuts, dry-roasted peanuts, peanut meal, and granulated peanut products that were shipped to other food manufacturers for use in their products.

The peanut plant has been shut down indefinitely and will not be able to reopen without approval from the health department.

This is another major blow in what has been a very bad week for Peanut Corporation of America. Earlier this week, emails confiscated from Stewart Parnell, the president and owner of the company, indicated that he knew the products in his Blakely, Georgia plant were contaminated but insisted they be shipped out in an attempt to avoid losing profits.

Parnell's negligent and criminal behavior has led to one of the largest product recalls in our country's history. Approximately 2,000 products have been recalled, over 600 people have suffered serious illness, and nine people have died from Peanut Corporation of America's contaminated peanut products.

While Parnell will most likely face many defective product and wrongful death lawsuits, he may also be staring at jail time if it is determined that his actions are criminally negligent. Parnell's behavior is reprehensible and atrocious. Harsh consequences for his actions would likely send a strong message to other manufacturers, letting them know that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

If you have suffered an injury or illness as a result of eating contaminated peanut butter, you have rights. Please contact the product liability attorneys at the Cochran Firm today to find out if you are eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:23 AM

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Owner of Peanut Plant Tied to Salmonella Outbreak Refuses to Testify

Even though the families of victims who died as a result of eating peanut butter contaminated with salmonella came before Congress detailing their stories, the head of the peanut company who supplied the tainted product refused to cooperate. Stewart Parnell, the president and owner of Peanut Corporation of America, invoked his right to not incriminate himself repeatedly when asked about the salmonella outbreak.

Parnell’s Georgia plant is under federal investigation, and emails he sent were seized which point to Parnell’s prior knowledge of contaminated peanuts that have sickened hundreds and killed nine across the country. The most recent death linked to the salmonella outbreak was reported this Wednesday in Ohio.

Emails Parnell sent describe his concern over lost revenue, even though he was being investigated. In August, after a test that came up negative for salmonella after retests, Parnell sent an email saying, “okay, let’s turn them loose then.” In October, Parnell complained the positive tests were “costing us huge $$$$$$.” And even after the outbreak was tied to problems at the Georgia plant in January, Parnell told the FDA that the employees “desperately at least need to turn the raw peanuts on our floor into money.”

Though Parnell refused to explain to furious legislators and bereaved family members why he sent out salmonella contaminated peanut butter to an unwitting public, the emails seem to point to a business owner far more concerned with the bottom line than the potential harm he was inflicting. As a result of his actions, nine people are dead and nearly 2000 products have been recalled from dozens of stores, making this one of the largest recalls in U.S. history. In addition, all employees who worked at the Georgia plant have been let go and must now find employment elsewhere in an economy that’s already battered.

If you or a loved one has been made ill by eating something you suspect someone knew about in advance, please contact the experienced defective product attorneys at the Cochran Firm.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:18 PM

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Dentistry Malpractice Case

In Washington state last week the state Supreme Court made a ruling on a medical malpractice case involving a dentist. One Mystie Michael had been to see dentist Dr. Betsy Mosquera-Lacy for dental work involving a bone graft. She requested that the dentist not use any cow bone, but only human bone for the graft. This was not for any health reasons, but just because she “could not fathom the thought of having animal parts in her body”, according to the court.

The dentist complied, beginning the procedure with human bone. But the graft required more human tissue than she had on hand, which led her to complete the graft using cow bone.

Some time later, Michael was admitted to hospital for a drug allergy unrelated to her dental work. At that time it was discovered that cow bone had been used in her graft.

She sued Mosquera-Lacy and her dental practice for medical battery, negligence and violations of the Consumer Protection Act. However, the Consumer Protection claims were thrown out of court. She settled the other claims with the dentist and then appealed on the Consumer Protection claims.

However, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled last week that Michael cannot bring those claims under the Consumer Protection Act because her case does not meet that law’s standards for unfair business practices.

  • Cow bone is a standard graft material in dentistry
  • The dentist was not in the business of selling cow or human bone and not advertising their use in her grafting techniques. She was simply practicing medicine and treating Michael.

So Michael’s case was dismissed.

Medical Malpractice Cases Typically Complex

Medical Malpractice can take a myriad forms and surgical mistakes are one form. In this case the court decided that no surgical mistakes were made and although Michael was unhappy with her dental graft, she did not have any further legal recourse.

All medical malpractice cases can be complex and long-drawn-out. Medical documents must be examined by experts before a case is taken on, to determine its validity. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers on retainer, available for any insurance defense to fight medical malpractice cases.

If you are wondering whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim, please do not try to make that determination on your own. You need an experienced attorney with access to medical experts and knowledge of the specifically relevant laws. We will be happy to give you a free case evaluation if you call or send an email to our personal injury law firm.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 3:06 PM

Monday, February 9, 2009

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are caused when trauma to the head damages the brain. The effects of a traumatic brain injury can vary from mild to life-changing. Some of these effects include:

  • Memory loss
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Vision impairment
  • Speech impairment
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Numbness in your arms or legs
  • Ringing in the ears

It is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention after suffering a trauma to your head. Traumatic brain injuries are often misdiagnosed because their symptoms resemble those of many other conditions. Also, the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can remain unnoticed until several days after the trauma. Accordingly, if you have suffered a head trauma, you may think you feel fine and you are okay, however you should seek medical attention anyway. A CT scan may need to be performed in order to properly assess whether a traumatic brain injury has been suffered.

Traumatic brain injuries are often suffered after car accidents, slip and falls, or any other incident that causes injury to the head. The brain is protected by our skull; however, when we suffer a trauma to the head, the brain may move inside the skull, colliding with the skull wall, and causing a traumatic brain injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, please contact the experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm, which operates 27 offices nationwide, today.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 5:40 AM

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hospital Mold

When you receive treatment at a hospital, there are certain standards that you expect them to adhere to in order to ensure your safety: you expect doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to have the proper training and qualifications to administer your treatment; you expect the hospital to treat you with the most up-to-date technology available in order to reduce the risk of complications; you expect record-keeping and communication by staff members to facilitate more thorough care; you expect the hospital to maintain adequate staffing to handle the patient load; and you expect the hospital to maintain a sterile, safe environment in order to limit the risk of infection and other complications that may arise from exposure to bacteria, germs, mold, and dirt.

When a hospital fails to meet any of these standards and expectations, they are violating your trust and are guilty of medical malpractice.

It is quite common for a hospital to be under construction in one or more areas of the building. Renovations are a great way to ensure that hospitals are equipped to provide you with the highest quality care possible. However, it is important for the hospital to maintain a clean and safe environment during construction.

Frequently, hospital renovations will kick up dust and mold that can endanger the health of patients in other areas of the building. It is crucial for hospitals to take the necessary measures to adequately seal off these areas so that patients do not come into contact with toxic mold and dust particles.

A hospital in Tampa, Florida has just been sued for failing to properly seal off an area of the building under construction. As a result of their negligence, pathogenic fungi spread to the pediatric cancer wing, causing the wrongful death of three children being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Two of the three children were in remission and had a good prognosis for recovery.

The unsafe premises at the hospital directly led to the death of these three children and endangered the lives of many other patients. Before receiving treatment at a hospital, it is important to inquire about the cleanliness standards for the building. The stakes are too high to risk being exposed to toxic substances like mold or dust.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an unsafe hospital environment, you deserve to receive compensation for your damages. Please contact the Cochran Firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced premises liability attorneys.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:50 AM

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Blogs for Each Cochran Firm Office

We are happy to announce today that the Cochran Firm Website now has individual blog pages for each of our offices. As we add offices, we will add new blog postings.

Our offices include:
We plan to post blogs regularly that relate to each individual office. Please check back soon for more information.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:23 PM

Surgical Fires

When patients sign release forms before surgery, they are told some of the worst things that can happen are potential heart attacks, bleeding, infections, and the extremely small chance of death. However, what is not mentioned is the possibility of a fire during surgery that can debilitate or kill the patient.

It is estimated that there may be 600 surgical fires a year in the US, however the number may be much higher than this. When you consider that there are 50 million or so surgeries performed, it is a tiny percentage. But so is the risk of dying, and patients are told that can happen. Why aren’t they warned about the risk of a fire?

What makes a fire during surgery so serious is that it is the patient who is burned. And because it only takes heat, fuel and oxygen to ignite a fire, when it is the oxygen tube that burns, patients literally inhale the flames. Rubbing alcohol used in swabbing to disinfect areas is also highly flammable. What causes the fires is a spark that may be caused by a surgical tool, such as a laser. This then ignites anything flammable around the patient. This includes antiseptic, surgical drapes, and even a patient’s hair. It may then move to the oxygen mask and begin to burn the patient’s face as well as internal areas.

The founder of, a website dedicated to informing the public about this danger saw her mother go through this in 2002. Her mother suffered second- and third-degree burns on the right side of her face, as were her eyes, inside of her mouth and nose, and back. Her mother never really recovered and died two years later.

Surgical fires are most likely to occur during head and neck surgery because heat, fuel, and air are close together. It doesn’t take much for a laser to cut the line of oxygen and ignite it. But it would be beneficial if the hospitals let patients and their families know that this is a risk. Then let the patients and families decide how to proceed.

The Emergency Care Research Institute suggests asking your doctor about using less oxygen or even no oxygen during surgery. You may also want to ask about using non-alcohol-based skin preps, such as betadyne. These simple steps can significantly cut down the risk of a fire starting while you are on the table for surgery.

If you or a loved one has been burned in a surgical fire, you deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. Please contact the Cochran Firm to schedule an initial consultation with our experienced medical malpractice attorneys.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:40 PM

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Potential Risks of Taser Use

Tasers are a type of stun gun used by police since about 2000. Civilian models are also available and sold to women for self-protection. The police models use compressed nitrogen and fire darts which can penetrate up to one inch of clothing. They deliver an electric shock of 50,000 volts. They are designed to be used when a suspect resists arrest to the point where police must subdue him somehow to avoid injuries either to the suspect or the officers.

Over 70 wrongful death suits have been filed against Taser International Inc., the manufacturer of Tasers. Most of them have been decided for Taser. But in June, 2008, the company was ordered to pay a little over $1 million in damages to the family of a man who died after being hit by a Taser several times. Taser International was also ordered to pay $5.2 million in punitive damages even though the jury found the Taser to be only 15 percent responsible for the suspect’s death and the suspect 85 percent responsible.

Taser Controversy

Nationwide, over 70 deaths of people in custody have been blamed at least partly on Taser use. Much responsibility has also been assigned to each suspect’s pre-existing health conditions and drug abuse. When police make an arrest and the suspect resists, the officers have a choice of “takedown tactics”. They can use nightsticks or pepper spray, Tasers or guns. It depends on how strongly the suspect is resisting.

There have been several dozen Taser reviews and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division conducted a year-long review in response to excessive-force complaints made against deputies. The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a review in May, 2008 that concluded Tasers could interfere with a person’s heart beat – contrary to the standard view that they only affected skeletal muscles. However, some of the data came from studies of pigs.

Medical Study of Taser Risks

On January 15, 2009, the Annals of Emergency Medicine released the results of a three-year study on connections between Taser use and subsequent health problems. The researchers reviewed 1,201 arrest cases where a suspect had been Taser-stunned during arrest. Of those, two had died:

  • One had ingested a fatal amount of anti-psychotic medication
  • The other was overweight, using cocaine, and had a pre-existing heart condition

Also among the 1,201 cases were three severe injuries involving two men who fell after being stunned and hit their head and a third man who sustained kidney and muscle damage. All three recovered. There were also 408 skin punctures.

Researchers found no links between Tasers and fatal heart attacks. However, these issues are not fully resolved. There can be heart problems long after the Taser use and more research needs to be done.

If you have been injured by another’s negligence you may have a valid civil case. Please call or email our personal injury law firm to schedule a free case evaluation.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:41 PM

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

US Airways Seeks to Buy Off Passengers in Hudson River Landing

US Airways has wasted no time in getting compensation for the 150 passengers who survived a crash landing in the Hudson River on January 15. The company has already mailed checks for $5000 to all the passengers. According to US Airways, the checks are to reimburse passengers for their tickets and ensure that passengers can quickly replace lost items without major inconvenience. This is above the amount that the airlines are liable for--$3300, according to US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations--and comes much quicker and with less evasion than one typically encounters from a corporation liable in this type of incident. US Airways has an insurance claims specialist contacting passengers to tell them they'll be reimbursed for expenses or losses above $5000. In addition, many passengers report that the airline has treated them "like gold," since the incident, calling those who suffered minor injuries to be sure they are okay.

Should we be suspicious of the exceptional generosity of US Airways? One should always be suspicious of early settlements following any accident, especially those offered by corporations following commercial truck accidents, bus accidents, or aviation accidents.US Airways is probably counting, at least, on a high level of good will. There seems to be nothing in the letter accompanying the check that represents a release of further rights, but the hope is probably that by coming out right away with checks that are worth more than most people's baggage, they can reduce the already limited number of passengers who are likely to file lawsuits.

However, it is unlikely to prevent all lawsuits. A number of passengers have contacted lawyers either in New York or in their home states about the possibility of filing a lawsuit. Some have talked about emotional distress, saying that flying is becoming more and more difficult as a result of trauma.

If you have suffered injury or emotional distress as a result of either this or any other aviation incident, you deserve full compensation. To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, choose a law firm with the resources, skill, and experience to take on large corporations, like The Cochran Firm. Schedule an aviation accident lawsuit consultation with a local branch of The Cochran Firm to set the nationwide organization in motion to win your case.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 6:52 AM

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rear End Collision Accidents

The rear end collision is the most common type of auto accident. A frequent cause of these types of accidents is driver distraction. With cell phones, radios, gps navigation units, and other types of technology being found in more and more vehicles across the country, it is easy to understand how drivers become distracted.

Rear end collisions happen most often when a driver is distracted and does not realize the car in front of him is coming to a stop. Rear end collisions are usually minor, resulting in only slight injuries; however, they can be catastrophic, especially if you were traveling at a high rate of speed.

Cars do come equipped with bumpers, which cushion the effect of the collision in rear end accidents, however, defective bumpers and speed can make their affect negligible. In today's day and age we are seeing bumper systems that are designed more to protect the vehicle than the driver and passengers, so often there can be serious injuries sustained due to a rear end collision.

If you are obeying traffic laws and traveling at a safe rate of speed, you are not guaranteed to avoid an accident. You may be injured because the driver behind you was not paying attention and collides with your vehicle. Although in this situation you are not at fault, insurance companies are always difficult to deal with, and to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to, it is always best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney before speaking to any insurance adjustors.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a rear end collision accident, please contact the experienced automobile accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm, operating numerous offices nationwide, today.

posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 6:24 AM

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