Category

Wrongful Death

Dermatologist Dances into Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice

By | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Uncategorized, Wrongful Death | No Comments

Surgeon Dances into Medical Malpractice by making music videos while operating on her patients.

Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte’s website calls her “Atlanta’s most experienced cosmetic surgeon,” but recently her biggest experience has been dealing with medical malpractice cases. Dr. Davis-Boutte’s has four pending lawsuits against the doctor, and more than 20 videos previously posted on YouTube featured the board-certified dermatologist dancing and singing around exposed, unmoving patients. In one especially heinous video Boutte made incisions while she sang and cavorted to the camera.

26-year-old Ojay Liburd filed a lawsuit against Dr. Boutte last year. Liburd’s mother,  saw Boutte for a liposuction and a panniculectomy. It was weeks before her wedding, and she was credits away from earning her Ph.D. Unfortunately, Cornelius never wore her wedding dress and never married. After a more than eight-hour procedure, Cornelius’ heart stopped. She suffered permanent brain damage and will need care for the rest of her life.

During her procedure, Cornelius was not intubated, and did not receive general anesthesia. She was given a cocktail of drugs, including Propofol and fentanyl. No end-tidal CO2 monitoring equipment was used during the procedure. Boutte does not have hospital admitting privileges, and her Lilburn office is not a licensed surgery center. Cornelius went into cardiac arrest while Boutte was sew ing her tummy tuck incision. Her certified registered nurse anesthetist who was monitoring Cornelius’ vitals had already left the room. Boutte’s office elevator was too small for the stretcher, so first responders had to carry Cornelius down the stairs.  Dr. Boutte has settled the lawsuit with Cornelius’s family at an estimate of $13 million dollars.

Boutte’s website states “Dr. Boutté is board certified in both surgery and dermatology.” However, that is a lie. According to state medical records, Boutte is a board-certified dermatologist, and is not board certified in general surgery or plastic surgery. Unfortunately, in Georgia it is legal for any physician to operate, even if they are not a board-certified surgeon.

Remarkably Dr. Boutte is still performing surgeries and has not had her license to practice medicine  revoked. Her website still claims she is a board certified surgeon, and still is performing cosmetic surgeries. As Cornelius’s son puts it, Dr. Boutte is still getting up and going to work every day and making a great deal of money, subjecting patients who are none the wiser to her unsafe practices, while my mother a previous Ph.D candidate can no longer speak.

Like all professions there are good and bad doctors. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Georgia medical board has decided to protect Dr. Boutte and not suspend or revoke her license. If you or a loved one are considering plastic surgery, please investigate the doctor first. You can’t just believe what is on their website, you must investigate what certifications they are claiming and look into their malpractice history.

 

Big Pharma and Big Tobacco

By | Personal Injury, Tort Reform, Uncategorized, Wrongful Death | No Comments

Opioid Addiction

President Trump has declared the opioid addiciton crisis a national emergency, but nothing is changing. If it really is a national emergency, why has nothing happened to stop it? President Trump declared a 90 day public health emergency to mobilize the federal government. Unfortunately, that declaration expired with barely a flutter.

A senior White House official disputed the assessment of inaction concerning opioid addiction. The official claims that the declaration has allowed the president to draw further attention to this emergency. The declaration has enabled federal agencies to really change their focus. The official also added that an effective media campaign takes time and not to judge to quickly.

West Virginia, has the highest drug overdose death rate due to opioid addiction in the country. Public Health Commissioner Rahul Gupta hasn’t seen any significant change under Trump’s emergency order. West Virginia and other state have not seen additional funding nor resources.

Manufacturers of opioids much like big tobacco hid their addiction literature from consumers and the prescribing doctors. Opioid addiction has increased substantially since 1999.Opioid addiction now claims roughly more than 115 lives every day. Even more terrifying, is that 75 percent of those abusing opioids, report that there first interaction with the drug was through a valid prescription.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed and the man responsible for taking down big tobacco has called pharmaceutical companies “pretty evil.” The lawsuits filed allege that the pharmaceutical companies lied about the addictive properties of their drugs in the name of the almighty dollar.

I tend to believe him. There are promotional videos that rate the addiction rate much less than one percent.The assertion that addiction rate was less than one percent is a lie, and the pharmaceutical companies knew that it was a lie. In fact, the sales training focused on telling doctors that less than one percent of patients became addicted. Not a single study could support their assertions.

Why do Truck Accidents Happen

By | Articles, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death | No Comments

“Trucking accidents are defined as vehicle collisions involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles that cause personal injury and/or property damage.

Trucking accidents are pretty common on our roadways.  Truck drivers receive training to prepare them for their career, but human’s will never be perfect. The law does not require perfection, but it does require care. Negligence is when that care is breached and is common in trucking accidents. Numerous truck drivers are mindful and follow the rules, but individuals who don’t follow the rules cause catastrophic damage that often results in death or serious injury.

Trucking accidents are usually caused by driver mistake, careless hiring, or improper payloads. The first driving mistake is speeding. Second is driving while affected by medications or liquor. Unfortunately, trucking accidents mostly involve a driver driving while exhausted. In spite of the legislature’s best efforts. Drivers still ignore the hours of service controls which are intended to shield drivers from driving too long without satisfactory rest periods. Unfortunately, some drivers disregard these standards and increase the danger of nodding off. Sleeping often occurs at the worst possible time, and results in poor reaction times.

Cases of careless hiring often include neglecting to investigate a driver’s background. It is careless to hire someone who’s past is marked by criminal traffic offenses. It is also careless to hire somebody with a substance abuse past. Allowing an unsafe or unfit driver on the road opens the business to liability. Tragically, trucking organizations commonly attempt to deny any obligation to those injured by their drivers. The organization’s most common tactic is asserting that the driver is self employed. The adversarial process inherit in our system is why it is critical to become as educated as possible about your specific situation.

Improper payloads are common and occur at the point when a trailer is over-burden or unevenly stacked. The outcomes that result from trailers that are improperly loaded are unfortunate, trailers that are overloaded are at substantial risk of causing an accident. Braking becomes difficult with an overloaded payload. If the truck is driving too quick or following too closely an accident is almost always going to occur. Unevenly stacking trailers, or neglecting to guarantee that payload is legitimately secured, can likewise be perilous. An uneven payload influences the trailer’s focal point of gravity and increases the possibility of a jackknife accident.

 Remember, knowledge is power. Come back for more posts, and always make decisions that are reflective and not fear based.

 

Settlement

By | Articles, Bike Accidents, Car Accidents, Casino Accidents, Construction Accidents, Dog Bites, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death | No Comments

You’ve reached a settlement. The journey that began when someone’s careless actions hurt you,  has finally come to a close. Besides feeling relief, you’re probably wondering what happens next. What is required in a settlement by both the plaintiff and defendant. There’s several steps that occur between the time a case settles and having a check in your hands. Each process is contingent on what kind of settlement is reached. The different types of settlements are primarily based on if the person hurt is an adult, minor, or if it involved the wrongful death of a person.

“A Settlement is an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict.”

Whenever a case settles, the parties need to sign a release agreement. As part of the settlement, your attorney will send you a Release Agreement to sign. Your attorney will also send another document called a stipulation to dismiss. It’s imperative to put in a timetable for payment in the release. The Release Agreement is a document that specifies the terms between the parties. For example, in exchange for $250,000, you agree to release Mr. Jones from the car accident. Upon receipt of the settlement check, it is deposited in a trust account. Once the settlement funds become available, a check to you for your portion should be delivered.

When a claim involves injuries sustained by someone under the age of 18, the settlement requires court approval. A petition is submitted to the court specifying the terms of the settlement. The petition sets forth the amount agreed to, case expenses and legal fees. It also specifies why the agreement is in the best interests of the child. A Judge will then schedule a hearing where your petition will be presented to the court. This hearing is largely a formality but it is still important to take it seriously. Once the Judge affirms the petition, you will be requested to consent to a Release Arrangement as described above.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, there are usually claims for pain and suffering and wrongful death. Pain and suffering refers to the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death. Wrongful death refers to the monetary losses sustained by the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, such as loss of income, loss of maternal guidance, advice, and burial expenses. The portion of the settlement allocated to wrongful death is divided according to the loss sustained by each beneficiary.

What’s important to remember is that every case is complicated. A settlement is one of the last steps involved in litigation, but it’s definitely not the finish line.

Wrongful Death

By | Articles, Car Accidents, Casino Accidents, Construction Accidents, Train Accident, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death | No Comments

At some point in your life, you’ve likely known someone who was injured in an accident, either at work or in traffic.  Accidents are a fact of life, and unfortunately, sometimes accidents result in the death of an individual.  When this happens, Utah law provides for the compensation of dependents and family members.  However, most people have no idea where to begin when their loved one dies as the result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party.

Not a single person reading this sits around contemplating the wrongful death of a family member or a close personal friend.  Tragedies are unthinkable outcomes, and wrongful death is not an everyday occurrence in our lives.  We live our lives among our friends and loved ones, secure in their company and comforted by their continued presence in our day to day lives.

A wrongful death is the absolute worst case scenario for many of us, but if and when it happens to your spouse, your child, or someone you know, a crash course in the law is usually what ensues. At a time when you’re grieving the loss of someone close to you, the law is the last thing on your mind.  That’s why you need to contact an attorney.

An attorney is your advocate during the most unimaginably heartbreaking time.  They’re your guide, and when you’ve lost a loved one, you need to focus on healing and recovery.  Very often, the person you lose can be a breadwinner, a provider, a mother, a father, an adult child taking care of elderly parents or a disabled spouse or child.  The loss isn’t just emotional; it’s financial.  Life insurance and the estates a deceased individual leaves behind are often not enough to ensure the future of their surviving relatives.

In the event that a child dies as a result of negligence or wrongdoing, parents and siblings are left with the knowledge that no amount of money can bring their child back to life.  However, civil damages are intended to both compensate a loss that cannot be quantified, and deter the wrongful conduct that resulted in the loss of a child.

Second, Utah law limits wrongful death claims to the heirs of the deceased victim, or a personal representative of the deceased. Who are the heirs under Utah law?

1. A surviving spouse, such as a husband or a wife.
2. A surviving adult child.
3. A surviving parent or parents either natural or adoptive.
4. The surviving stepchildren, if they are under 18 at the time of death and dependents of the deceased person.
5. Any other blood relatives listed in Utah’s inheritance laws.

The presumption under Utah law is that one of the heirs will take on the role of personal representative for the deceased; however, if the deceased died with a will or an estate plan, they may have named a personal representative who can also file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative has to file in civil court. This is the person who will contact and hire an attorney to deal with those responsible for the wrongful death and their insurance company.

Third, you have to file within two years of the deceased’s death.  If the negligent party is a government entity, you only have one year to file.

Finally, you can recover damages under Utah’s wrongful death law. These damages can include the following:

1) Compensatory damages for:
-Medical expenses related to the injury causing the death.
-Lost wages, such as future wages and benefits lost.  This means that you should be able to  recover the wages the person would have made if they were still alive to work.
-Pain and suffering resulting from the death.
-The loss of companionship, guidance, and care.  Very often, the deceased will be a spouse or  parent whose loss cannot be quantified in mere lost wages.  Children rely on their parents for  guidance and care, and spouses rely on their other half for companionship and care as well.

2) Punitive damages: these damages are intended to send a message, and that message is that the negligent or intentional behavior that resulted in a wrongful death should not be tolerated or repeated. Punitive damages are awarded to punish intentional or negligent behavior, and they are also awarded to discourage that behavior in the future.

We all hope that we never have to deal with the aftermath of wrongful death, but if and when we do face that horrific possibility, knowledge is the key.  The Personal Injury Education Center of Utah is a resource to give you the knowledge you need when the unthinkable occurs.

Martin v. Herzog

By | Car Accidents, Cases, For Attorneys, Wrongful Death | No Comments

What Happened: Martin was driving his buggy during the night and was killed in a collision between his buggy and Herzog’s car. It was dark when the accident occurred. Martin was driving without lights and Herzog did not keep to the right of the center of the highway. Martin alleged that Herzog was driving on the wrong side of the road. Herzog claimed that Martin was contributorily negligent for driving without headlights as required under the law.

Question Before the Court: Does a jury have the power to relax the duty that one traveler on the highway owes under a statute to another on the same highway? Is negligent conduct actionable by itself unless there is a showing that such conduct was the cause of the injuries incurred?

Court Ruling: The unexcused violation of a statutory duty is negligence per se and a jury does not have the power to relax the duty that one traveler on the highway owes under a statute to another on the same highway. Negligent conduct is not actionable by itself unless there is a showing that such conduct was the cause of the injuries incurred.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell

By | Car Accidents, Cases, For Attorneys, Personal Injury, Spine and Back Injuries, Wrongful Death | No Comments

What Happened: In 1981, Campbell caused an accident in which Todd Ospital was killed and Robert G. Slusher was left permanently disabled, a fact confirmed by both witnesses to the accident and investigators. Notwithstanding the evidence against Campbell, Campbell’s insurance State Farm decided to contest liability and decline the settlement offers from both Slusher and Ospital’s estate. Both parties were offering to settle for $25,000 each, or $50,000 total, which was Campbell’s policy limit. State Farm assured the Campbells that “their assets were safe, that they had no liability for the accident, and that State Farm would represent their interests, and that they did not need to procure separate counsel. However, a jury rendered a verdict that Campbell was 100 percent liable for the accident and awarded a judgment of $185,849. State Farm refused to pay the excess amount, nor would it post a supersedeas bond to allow Campbell to appeal the verdict; Campbell obtained his own counsel to appeal the verdict. While the appeal was pending, the Campbells reached a settlement with Slusher and Ospital’s estate, whereby those parties agreed not to seek satisfaction of the judgment against the Campbells, and the Campbells would pursue a bad-faith action against State Farm. The attorneys for Slusher and Ospital’s estate would represent the Campbells in the bad-faith suit and would make all major decisions regarding it. No settlement would take effect without the approval of Slusher and Ospital’s estate, and they would receive 90 percent of any verdict against State Farm.The Utah Supreme Court denied Campbell’s appeal concerning the underlying car accident and State Farm then paid the entire amount of the judgment including the excess amount.

Nevertheless, the Campbells filed suit against State Farm alleging bad faith, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Campbells won a $145 million verdict against State Farm for their bad faith actions in not protecting their insureds, Resulting in over $116 million dollars to the Estates of Ospital and Slusher and $29 million to the Campbells.

Question Before the Court: There were two questions before the court; (1) was Campbell liable for the original car accident, and (2) did State Farm act in bad faith by not paying the verdict against the Campbells or settling the case for a reasonable amount?

Court Ruling: Campbell was liable in the underlying accident and State Farm acted in bad faith by not paying the original verdict, not settling the case for a reasonable amount, and not paying for the supersedeas bond; essentially, State Farm violated their duty owed to their insureds the Campbells.

Car Accident

By | Articles, Car Accidents, Personal Injury, Spine and Back Injuries, Wrongful Death | No Comments

America has a love affair with the automobile.  We drive everywhere: to work, to play, to eat, to church, and to school.  Driving is a rite of passage; every year, teenagers mark their passage into adulthood with their learner’s permit or their first driver’s license.

The down side of driving is the accident.  If you’re reading this, you’ve either been in a wreck or you know someone who’s been in a wreck.  If you were fortunate, it was just a fender bender and no one was hurt.  However, car accidents aren’t always just fender benders.  Sometimes people get hurt, and when you’re hurt in a car accident, you need to know what to do in order to maximize your compensation for any injuries or damages.

A car accident can result in major injuries, hospital bills, and even lost wages.  What will your family do if you can’t work?  Utah law provides the means for victims of an accident to recover money for the damages they suffer, but being hurt in an accident is so much more than a lawsuit.

If you have any passengers, make sure everyone is okay.  Even if they appear to be okay, call 911 to report the accident.  Internal injuries may not present symptoms initially, and erring on the side of caution can be the difference between a treatable and untreatable injury.  If it’s safe to move, everyone should move to the curb or shoulder of the road.  Turn on your hazard lights, and if you have any cones or triangles, put them out to increase visibility and prevent another accident.

Keep calm.  Don’t escalate the situation.  It’s normal to feel angry and upset after an accident, but it’s not going to help you come out ahead.

That 911 call is going to come to into play when the police arrive.  You’ll need to show the police your driver’s license, registration, and insurance.  Fill out the accident report, and request a copy from the officer.  Make sure you get the officer’s name, badge number, phone number, and the report number.  The accident report will be critical to recovering any damages from an insurance company.  It’s the product of an unbiased third party, which makes it harder for the insurer to challenge.

Don’t skip calling the police, because as we mentioned, injuries aren’t always obvious at first. The police report can strengthen your credibility, but the most important thing for you to do is to get checked out by a physician within 72 hours.  Insurance adjusters rely on data to determine the amount of any potential settlement, and when an injured party sees a physician within 72 hours of an accident, their actions create what is known as a “value driver” that can increase the amount of any settlement offer by an insurance company.

By not going to the doctor, you’re only reducing the amount of money you can collect.  You’re making it harder for your attorney to get a fair settlement with the insurance company.

Finally, make sure you collect as much information as possible.  Use your smartphone to take pictures of the accident scene, any other parties involved, the vehicles, and get the names of any other drivers and their passengers.  Collect their insurance information.  If at all possible, get an email address. This is information that can be used later to prove you weren’t at fault.

The steps above all presume that you’re in good enough condition to function. If you’re severely injured, you may not be able to do any of this.  If that’s the case, you’ll need to rely on passengers and witnesses.  Understand that your well-being comes first, and don’t worry if you can follow the steps above.

Whatever you do, don’t sign anything from an insurance company. An insurer has one sole purpose: limiting their loss, regardless of whether or not their offer is sufficient to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering.  Make sure your family understands this, and if you’re related to someone who’s been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to speak up.  The insurance company’s interests are not aligned with your interests: you need to make sure you have enough money to pay your medical bills, make up for lost wages, and keep your family afloat financially.  That’s why you need to use an attorney to defend your bottom line and make sure you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.

We’ve covered what you need to do, but what is the law in Utah when it comes to car accidents? Utah has a no-fault system, which means that your own insurance company will cover medical expenses and lost income regardless of whether or not you were at fault.  This is why you pay for Personal Injury Protection or PIP on your insurance policy.  PIP coverage is usually $3,000 in Utah.

Only after you exhaust your PIP coverage for any injuries under Utah law can you pursue a claim against the other driver for lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other damages.  That’s why we stressed seeing a doctor within 72 hours after an accident: you want to get any and all injuries diagnosed and treated, and you want to keep your options open by exhausting your PIP coverage.

However,  if your injuries are serious, there may be an exception to the no-fault requirement that you first exhaust your own insurance coverage through PIP, and having an attorney to guide you will enable you to potentially pursue a claim against the other driver sooner. Some examples of serious injuries include dismemberment, permanent disfigurement, and permanent disability.

The other factor to consider in Utah accident law is comparative fault.  If you’re found partially at fault in an accident, this reduces the amount you can recover from other parties.  If you’re more than 50% at fault for your injuries, you’ll recover nothing.  The percentage of your fault is subtracted from the total damages you’re awarded by a jury.  Again, this is why we stressed collecting as much information as possible earlier: the police report, photographs, and documentation can be used to reduce the level of fault attributed to you, thereby increasing the amount of your recovery.

You’ve got four years to file from the date of the accident under Utah law, and there are no economic caps on the damages you can recover for medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering, permanent disability, and vehicle repairs. If the court finds that the defendant’s actions merit punitive damages, the court will order the first $50,000 to be paid to you, and any punitive damages above $50,000 will be split between you and the state.

We here at the Personal Injury Education Center of Utah hope that you and your loved ones have a safe driving experience, and many happy adventures on the roads.  Have fun, but always be safe when you’re on the road.