Thursday, 22 June 2017

Fidget Spinner Safety Concerns

Simple gadgets can sometimes take the world by storm – one of the most recent being fidget spinners. You’ve likely witnessed youth with one of these devices, whether you knew what it was or not. A fidget spinner is a ball-bearing device that continuously spins when you rotate it with your fingers. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is said to reduce stress. Many people have even claimed benefits from these devices to children with ADHD and autism. Unfortunately, fidget spinners have also been a cause of distraction to children in schools. Many classrooms have banned the devices. And like most consumer products, recent studies claim safety risks with fidget spinners as well.

In both Texas and Oregon, children have been rushed to the hospital after choking on fidget spinner pieces. They are made of small pieces and prongs with a circular pad in the middle. Users hold these gadgets by this middle circle with a finger and thumb, spinning the toy with other fingers. Reports show that brushings within the toys can pop out easily, leading to risk of choking.

A Texas mother was driving with her daughter in the backseat when she heard choking noises. Her daughter had apparently tried to clean the fidget spinner by putting it in her mouth, which led to her accidentally swallowing the device. X-rays from the Emergency Room revealed part of the device stuck in the child’s throat. Because the spinner is approximately the size of a quarter, surgery was necessary to remove the object.

In Oregon, a fidget spinner broke, causing a metal bearing to fly into a child’s mouth while playing with the device. She also had to have the object removed at a local hospital.

While all products have potential dangers, it is important to understand the risks in an attempt to prevent injury – especially to children. Parents, we urge you to explain the risks and dangers of fidget spinners to your children as a safety precaution.

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NY Legislature Amends Venue Law for Lawsuits

New York’s counties

As the New York Legislature raced to a close yesterday, I wrote about a change in the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases.

But that wasn’t the only change that affects the personal injury field. There was also a change as to where lawsuits can be brought.

Currently, a lawsuit can generally be brought either in the county where the plaintiff resides, or the county where the defendant resides. Thus, if someone from Manhattan and someone from Suffolk were involved in an auto collision in Nassau — which sits between the two for you non-local readers — the plaintiff could choose either Manhattan or Suffolk as the venue for the lawsuit. But not the county in between where it actually happened.

But late yesterday both the Senate and the Assembly passed a bill to amend that to include also the place where that collision took place, adding the words in all caps to CPLR 501(a):

Except where otherwise prescribed by law, the place of trial shall be in the county in which one of the parties resided when it was commenced; THE COUNTY IN WHICH A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE EVENTS OR OMISSIONS GIVING RISE TO THE CLAIM OCCURRED; or, if none of the parties then resided in the state, in any county designated by the plaintiff. A party resident in more than one county shall be deemed a resident of each such county.

While this provides a bit more flexibility for the individual that chooses the forum, the practical application is that one may now bring suit where important eye witnesses are most likely located, thereby increasing the chance one will be able to get them into court for trial.

A good tool for the lawyer’s toolbox. The bill passed with very wide bipartisan support and now goes to the Governor for signature.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

NY Senate Passes “Lavern’s Law” — A Date of Discovery Law for Cancer Cases

A month ago I posted about New York’s need to pass “Lavern’s Law,” which extends the date of discovery in medical malpractice cases from the time the discovery of malpractice was made, or could reasonably have been made.

The problem, as I noted back then, was that some folks lost their rights due to our short statute of limitations — 2 ½ years for most cases and a mere 15 months against a municipality — before they even knew they had an undiagnosed cancer or other condition.

The Assembly had, in prior years, passed the bill. The obstruction was in the Senate.

A couple hours ago, though, the Senate passed the bill. Or at least a version of the bill.

While the original version related to discovering malpractice in general, the Senate version is restricted to undiagnosed cancers and other malignant tumors.

This is a victory for consumers no doubt, in that some of them won’t have the courthouse doors slammed in their faces before even being aware they had any rights to begin with.

The law is named for Lavern Wilkinson, who went to Kings County Hospital on February 2, 2010 with chest pain. A radiologist saw a suspicious mass on the x-ray. But Wilkinson wasn’t told.

When it was found again two years later when her complaints worsened, the 15-month statute of limitations had expired. As per the Daily News summary of the incident:

A chest X-ray found the cancer had spread to both lungs, her liver, brain and spine. The disease was now terminal.

She left behind family including an autistic daughter.

The bill had bipartisan support, and passed the Senate by a vote of 55 to 6.

Reconciliation with the Assembly is next, and assuming that happens, on to the Governor for signature.

The extension of the statute of limitations is not forever, of course. It starts to run from the date of discovery, and the time to start suit will end seven years later, even if the cancer is not discovered.

This is all very good for New York’s residents. Should they fall victim to malpractice, they have to worry less about being victimized a second time by an unjust civil justice system.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Preventing Traffic Jams

The metro-Atlanta area is well known for higher than average levels of traffic. Because the city has such a large population and is used as a connector to more southern states, the number of automobiles traveling through on a daily basis is great. Unfortunately, public transportation is not fully developed throughout the metro area – another cause of high traffic. Summer months will only see an increase in traffic due to vacationing families and travelers.

In high-traffic areas, auto accidents and traffic jams are inevitable. Here are a few tips to prevent being involved in an accident and to limit traffic jam wait times:

  • In the event of an accident, avoid slowing your vehicle to look at the vehicles on the side of the roadway. This only slows the traffic behind you more substantially.
  • Changing lanes excessively causes an increase in the need to brake and affects drivers behind you.
  • Don’t cut into lanes of traffic – use your turn signals and wait for the appropriate time.
  • Only use the express lane if you’re traveling faster than the vehicles around you.
  • Be on the lookout for pedestrians – they have the right of way in every situation.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while behind the wheel – even when in traffic.
  • Plan ahead by checking traffic maps and reports to attempt to avoid high traffic areas or jams. When possible, avoid traveling by during rush hour.
  • If your vehicle breaks down or you’re involved in an accident, try to pull to the side of the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers and use warning triangles if you have them to alert oncoming traffic.
  • When possible carpool with others going to the same area of town. This cuts down on traffic levels tremendously.

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Takata Airbag Recalls Continue with Additional Alpha Inflator Warnings

Numerous auto manufacturing companies have announced defects and recalls as a result of Takata airbags. Millions of Takata airbag brands have been labeled dangerous due to the potential for rupture during a crash. Unfortunately, at least ten deaths have been attributed to these defects.

More recently, Honda announced that certain vehicles from 2001 through 2003 were equipped with “Alpha” inflators. These were the original driver’s airbag inflators and have recently been assigned a particularly high risk factor in a crash. Acura and Honda vehicles manufactured in those years may face a rupture risk of as high as 50%. Of the ten deaths confirmed by Honda related to Takata airbags, at least eight involved these Alpha inflators. Potentially more troubling is that these recalls have been reported as higher risk in areas of high humidity and heat – things that Georgia is well known for.

Honda urges owners of these Alpha vehicles to drive only to repair locations authorized by the company. Thus far, more than 74% of these Alpha vehicle airbags have been fixed – but that leaves a quarter of vehicles still on roadways in danger of these defects. For a complete list of vehicles that include Alpha inflators included in the recall, visit

If your vehicle is included in the list of recalled models, you should have little trouble receiving service. Most authorized dealers for repair have an excess of parts and all offer free corrections. Honda is even offering complimentary rental or loaner vehicles while your vehicle is being repaired. There’s no risk in taking your vehicle for repair.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Tractor Trailer Blind Spot Safety

Have you ever been driving along the highway and an 18-wheeler forced you into another lane or off the roadway? It’s a common occurrence and is scary for even the most experienced drivers. Because big rig drivers have larger blind spots than a typical vehicle, it’s not surprising that so many accidents involve tractor trailers. Jones & Swanson has experience with 18-wheeler accidents and hopes to use that knowledge to educate you on how to drive safely alongside 18 wheelers.

Big rig trucks bring a certain extra level of danger to the roads and the patrons surrounding them. These18-wheeler trucks have blind spots in front, on both sides and behind the large rig. Since the driver may not be able to see you, you may experience a time when the 18-wheeler will move over in to your lane without seeing you – in turn, forcing you out of the way!

It is important for you to remember to stay out of the “danger zones” when driving next to an 18-wheeler truck on any road or highway. Staying out of these “danger zones” will drastically reduce your odds of an accident with a large semi-truck.

“Danger Zones”:

  • 20 feet in front
  • On both sides
  • 30 feet behind

Below is a great visual representation of where these blind spots can be found:

big rig blind spots

Although the length of the danger zones on both sides of a truck can be unknown, it is important to use extreme caution when passing one of these large rigs on the highway. Riding alongside a large truck for any length of time can cause you to ride in the “danger zone.”

If you feel uneasy or uncomfortable near an 18-wheeler truck, consider changing lanes if you can do so safely to avoid their blind spots. The size difference between a typical tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds and a standard passenger car weighing 5,000 pounds is an obvious reason to give the tractor trailer adequate road space.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving an 18-wheeler, or have any questions regarding tractor trailer safety, please give the knowledgeable attorneys at Jones & Swanson a call at 770-427-5498.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Nursing Home Abuse Claims in Smyrna, GA

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, “Experts have reported that knowledge about elder abuse lags as much as two decades behind the fields of child abuse and domestic violence,” and we couldn’t agree more. Since elder abuse, also known as nursing home abuse, is underreported, we don’t know for sure how many people are being abused at the hands of their caregivers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

According to the NCEA’s data:

  • The elderly can be reluctant to report abuse because of cognitive impairment and because of fear of retaliation, or because they’re afraid of getting the abuser in trouble.
  • The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study discovered that for every case of abuse that is reported, 24 go unreported.
  • Poor health and “functional impairment” increase the risk of abuse.
  • Women are victims more often than men.
  • In 2010, a study found that 47% of participants with dementia experienced mistreatment from their caregivers.
  • A study conducted in 2009 found that nearly 50% of dementia patients had been abused to some degree by caregivers.
  • Resident-on-resident abuse in long-term care facilities is “recognized as a problem that is more common than physical abuse by staff,” reports the NCEA.

Do You Suspect Your Loved On is Being Abused?

Nursing home abuse comes in many forms. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, or it can involve financial exploitation or neglect. If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected, physically or emotionally abused, it’s time to seek help. Some of the common signs of nursing home neglect or abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Restraint marks
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Steep decline in health
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Your loved one is fearful of caregivers
  • The resident’s room is unclean or has foul odors
  • Your loved one complains of neglect or abuse
  • Caregivers won’t let your loved one have private visitors or take private phone calls

Nursing home abuse is not something to be ignored. If left uncorrected, it can lead to depression, very poor health, and in the worst cases, premature death. If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused by the staff at a nursing home or long-term care facility, we urge you to contact our firm to meet with a Smyrna nursing home abuse attorney.

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