What Can I Do After a Hit and Run Accident?

Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2018 at 10:50 pm    

Anyone who is involved in a car crash in Texas in which someone has been injured, or died or even when only property has been damaged has an obligation to stop and provide information as well as render assistance where necessary and inform the police. If someone leaves the scene of the crash without doing any of these things it is referred to as a ‘hit and run’ accident.

There are severe penalties for anyone who is convicted of a hit and run offense, but this doesn’t necessarily help the victim of such an accident. What can you do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident and find that you have a damaged car, or a total write off and you yourself are injured badly into the bargain?

Hit and run accidents are on the rise

Hit and run accidents have increased across the U.S. in recent years and there is no evidence that Texas is immune from the national trend. The number of hit and run accidents has increased by 62% nationwide in the last decade. In 2016, over 2,000 fatalities were documented as a result of hit and run accidents. There are more than 600,000 of these accidents every year. Most victims are pedestrians and bicyclists, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot be hurt if you are in your own car.

Claiming compensation if the hit and run driver is found

If the hit and run driver is found, there is the chance that legal action can be taken to recover damages, even if the driver is charged separately by police with a ‘fleeing from the scene’ offense, which in Texas is a felony. Just because the driver has been located this doesn’t mean that you can automatically file a personal injury claim against him or her. As in any personal injury claim, you must still prove that the person caused property damage and / or injuries as a result of the accident. The driver must also have sufficient insurance to cover the amount you are claiming. Unfortunately, in many cases, a hit and run driver may not have any insurance at all and may not even be licensed to drive.

Assuming that the driver does in fact have insurance, you should file the damages claim with the driver’s insurance provider. If the police have charged the person with fleeing from the scene, then your chances of successfully obtaining compensation are likely to be higher.

Compensation may be claimed for:

  • medical treatment;
  • repair or the cost of replacement of your vehicle;
  • loss of earnings as a result of the accident;
  • pain and suffering caused;
  • punitive damages (normally reserved for cases where particular negligence can be proven: hit and run accidents could be considered definitely negligent).

Compensation when the hit and run driver is uninsured or underinsured or never located

In the quite possible situation where the hit and run driver either has no insurance or is underinsured, the only definite compensation that might be available is if you had taken out uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance with your own provider. This is quite commonly done in any case, especially as crashes involving these sorts of drivers are increasing. However, not all drivers realize that they actually have this type of cover.

It is also possible that the driver, despite having no insurance, has other substantial recoverable assets which can be used to pay compensation should you win a personal injury claim against him or her. It is unlikely that this would be an easy task without the help of an experienced McAllen car accident attorney.

You will also have little other recourse to compensation apart from your own medical insurance if the hit and run driver is never located. If any of these cases describes what has happened to you, you should contact the Patino Law Office in McAllen to discuss your legal options. Call (956) 631-3535 today.

Can I Sue if I Get Whiplash After an Accident?

Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2018 at 8:09 pm    

Whiplash is one of the most common non-life threatening injuries caused by a vehicle accident. It is typically an injury that is caused by an abrupt rear-end or head-on crash. One of the features of whiplash is that symptoms may not surface for several days after the actual accident and some people who find that they are suffering from whiplash symptoms may not know that it is not too late for them to sue the driver who hit them.

Causes of whiplash

Whiplash is typically an injury that affects the ligaments, joints and muscles of the neck and upper back. The name comes from the way in which the injury is caused. When a vehicle, especially a smaller vehicle, is hit from the rear, the occupants’ heads are jerked forwards suddenly as a result of inertia. The sudden forward jerking is swiftly followed by a backwards movement. A head-on collision will reverse the direction of the movements, but the end result is similar. It may also be worth noting here that head-on collisions can often be far worse than rear end collisions because of the relative speeds of the two vehicles colliding. That means that whiplash after a head-on collision may be only one of a number of other potentially more serious injuries, while it may be the major injury in a rear end collision.

The actual muscles, ligaments and joints undergo extreme degrees of strain and this puts a lot of stress on these organs and tissues. Sprain and strain injuries of this type are often eventually very painful without medication and treatment because it is almost impossible to keep the neck completely still. It can sometimes feel that every movement of the body exacerbates the pain.

Diagnosis of whiplash

Personal injury attorneys always recommend getting yourself checked by a doctor after any kind of car accident, even if you don’t think you have been injured. Whiplash, as an injury, may not reveal the damage that has been done to your neck until well after the actual accident. Sometimes, the shock of the accident and concern and confusion over the damage to your vehicle and what might have happened can obscure the symptoms.

You should certainly see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms after a rear end or head on crash:

  • neck, upper back, arm or shoulder pain;
  • swelling of the neck muscles;
  • dizziness;
  • nausea;
  • difficulty in focusing;
  • headaches;
  • vertigo;
  • muscle spasms.

If the doctor is concerned and suspects whiplash, or more serious damage to your joints, such as a herniated disc, or nerves, he or she will recommend further tests. This may include CT scans, MRI scans, x-rays and EMG / neurological analysis to eliminate the possibility of anything more serious than whiplash itself. This all costs money, of course.

Treatment for whiplash

When whiplash is diagnosed early on and a treatment program devised, it is likely that there will be a full recovery. The length of time for recovery to take place depends on the initial severity of the impact and individual circumstances. In a small number of cases, the condition may become chronic and last for several months, but usually it lasts for days or weeks, not months. While being treated, the pain may prevent the person from going back to work normally and this may be a reason, besides the cost of treatment, for seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Typical treatment for whiplash includes injections, medication and physical therapy. Surgery is very rarely needed for whiplash. Injections are usually used to reduce inflammation and pain; medication is mostly of painkillers while pain persists; physical therapy is used to restore spinal posture and the range of motion by the injured party’s neck and upper back.

Suing a driver who has caused you to suffer whiplash

Texas personal injury laws allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit within three years of an injury caused by a negligent driver. However, because all personal injury claims depend on clear evidence of negligence to be proven for their success, the sooner you initiate a claim the better, as evidence of negligence will be easier to find. Whatever the circumstances, don’t hesitate after a rear end or head-on collision anywhere around or in McAllen. Make an appointment with a car accident attorney at the Patino Law Firm in McAllen, TX by ringing 956-631-3535.


Can You Claim Damages if You Weren’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2018 at 1:40 pm    

Texas negligence rules are based on a concept of ‘modified comparative fault.’ This means that if it is determined that you “contributed” to your injuries because you were in some way negligent when an accident took place the amount of compensation you can claim is reduced in proportion to your perceived degree of fault. Additionally, if it is determined that you were more than 50% to blame for the accident, even 51%, then you cannot obtain any compensation at all.

How modified comparative fault affects a claim when you were not wearing a seat belt

The significance of comparative modified fault becomes obvious if you were hurt in a car accident when someone slammed into you, but you weren’t wearing a seat belt. The other driver may have been obviously at fault, but it is decided that you share some of the blame for the injuries you have received. Let’s say you decide that the total amount of damages you should receive was $20,000 for medical treatment, lost earnings and the pain and suffering caused. However, the case goes to court and the judge decides that the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt diminished your claim by 20%. This means that the maximum you would obtain would be $16,000 ($20,000 – 20% of $20,000).

Shared negligence is a gray area for insurance purposes

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, the natural tendency is to believe that you were not to blame for the accident, but it is quite possible that both you and the other driver were partly to blame for the accident. Imagine, for instance that you were driving along a highway in heavy traffic. Another vehicle was following, a bit too close for comfort. You decide to pass a vehicle in front of you, but fail to signal. Just at that point, the following vehicle decides to accelerate and overtake your vehicle. The vehicle crashes into the rear end of your car. Both cars are seriously damaged and both you and the other driver are quite seriously injured requiring hospitalization and subsequent surgery. Who was at fault and how much could you claim?

In practice, this would be a difficult situation to resolve as there is a question of shared negligence. The final resolution would come down to a detailed analysis of what happened immediately before the crash. Under Texas law, one of the two drivers is not going to receive any compensation at all, because he or she would have been judged to have been more than 50% at fault, while the other driver’s compensation would be limited to somewhere between 51% and 100% of the claim.

Contact a personal injury attorney if there is a hint of shared negligence.

Any hint of shared negligence means that you would be under pressure at the very least from the other driver’s insurance adjuster if you decide to file a claim. Insurance companies hate to concede that their clients were at fault and hate paying compensation. The upshot is that they will try and pin the blame, or at least some of it, on you, the plaintiff in an attempt to reduce their liability. The solution is to get legal help rather than try and negotiate your claim all by yourself. Experienced personal injury attorneys like ours at the Patino Law Firm in McAllen are used to assessing cases of shared negligence and will seek to minimize your share of the blame.

As for wearing a seat belt, it only makes sense. It is Texas law to wear a seat belt and you can be fined if you are not wearing one. It can save your life or at least minimize serious injury if you have an accident. If you are hit by a negligent driver and are not wearing your seat belt at the time, there is a chance that you will have to bear the financial cost of medical treatment, damage to your vehicle and possibly lose your job or your right to obtain compensation is challenged because of an interpretation of modified comparative negligence.

Who Is at Fault in an ATV Accident?

Posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 at 1:07 am    

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs) are popular for recreational use and on farms. In most states, they are not allowed to be used on public roads and are designed to be used off formed roads and highways. They can be a lot of fun when driven with regard to safety, but unfortunately accidents are common and many injuries prove to be fatal. The ATV injury rate is sitting at over 120,000 a year across the country. Many of those who are injured or killed are children. The fact that most ATVs stick to off road use makes it tempting for farmers and landowners to allow kids to use the vehicles as well as tempting for kids themselves. ATV drivers are encouraged to use helmets, but this is not often done. Like motorcycles, the ATV seat is straddled, which means that there is no safety belt to protect the driver or passenger.

Liability in an ATV accident

There are several different scenarios when considering an ATV accident:

  • The ATV driver is injured in a solo incident, i.e. no other vehicle was involved;
  • The ATV passenger was injured;
  • Another person, not in the ATV, was injured;
  • The occupants of the ATV were injured because they were hit by another vehicle.

Proving liability in an ATV accident can be problematic. The accident may happen in a remote area, or at least out of sight of anyone else, so the possibility that there were eye witnesses is reduced. The ATV driver and passenger may, or may not, have had training, safety protection, or even permission to use the vehicle in the first place. There may be defects in the vehicle or the helmet may have been faulty. All of these considerations must be taken into account in an ATV accident. If you, or a member of your family, such as your child, has been injured in an ATV accident, you should talk to a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options before filing a claim.

ATV driver is injured

If the ATV driver was injured in a crash which didn’t involve another vehicle, then it is quite possible that there is no-one else to blame but the driver. However, there are other scenarios which might make a personal injury claim a valid option. The main scenarios include vehicle defects, helmet defects and lack of maintenance of a designated off road vehicle track. As with any personal injury claim, if there is a product liability issue, then there must be proof that a vehicle was inherently unsafe, e.g. its brakes or steering faulty, the helmet was inherently unsafe, e.g.it cracked or collapsed on impact with the ground.

An accident that happened on a designated ATV track, for example, one provided by a private company, may be blamed at least partly on the owner of the track if it can be proven that it lacked routine maintenance.

ATV passenger is injured

If the passenger is injured, he or she may be able to prove that the injuries were caused by the actions of the driver, e.g. the driver failed to anticipate the conditions, was drunk at the time, was untrained etc.

ATV occupants injured by another driver

If the ATV was hit by another off road vehicle, such as another TV, an SUV, or a farm vehicle that was negligently driven, then the injured victims may have legitimate reason for pursuing a personal injury claim against the other driver. Because of Texas comparative negligence rules, the ATV driver’s contribution to the accident must be less than 50% to enable any compensation to be obtained at all.

ATV driver is injured and had permission to drive from parents

An interesting case in Florida recently involved a young girl who was killed after using an ATV for the first time. The family argued that the accident could be blamed partly on the boy who had given the girl permission to use the ATV knowing she had had no experience of driving one before and the boy’s parents, who had allowed their son to use the ATV without supervision despite clear warnings by the ATV seller and manufacturer that it should not be used by anyone under 16 (the boy was 12). The case has not been decided at the time this blog was written, but it does present an interesting legal question.

ATV accidents are often tragic, and it can be hard to know exactly who or what was to blame. If you, or a family member, have been injured in an ATV accident in or around McAllen, or the surrounding area, you should contact an experienced ATV accident attorney at the Patino Law Firm. Call 956-631-3535 today.

Claiming Personal Injury Compensation After a Workplace Injury

Posted on Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 3:14 am    

Can you claim personal injury compensation after a workplace injury in Texas? Maybe! It all depends on the circumstances and particularly whether your employer has workers’ compensation insurance.

Take an example. You work for company X as a driver. You are driving along the highway in work hours one day as part of your job. Suddenly, without warning, a truck hits you from the side. Not only is your company vehicle badly damaged, but you receive multiple injuries. You need extensive surgery and spend several weeks in and out of hospital and cannot return to work. You don’t have personal insurance to cover the medical bills and lost earnings and you, and your family, are worried about the future. What are your legal options?

Basically, these fall into 2 categories.

Option A: A workers’ compensation claim

If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you must first seek compensation through your employer’s insurer by filing a workers’ compensation claim. The very fact that your employer has this sort of insurance will mean you cannot file a personal injury claim instead. This may only be open to you if your workers’ comp. claim was denied by the insurer and you attempted to appeal without success.

Personal injury attorneys often, but not always, deal with workers’ comp. cases as well as personal injury ones and can certainly provide advice.

One of the benefits of workers’ compensation compared to personal injury is that you do not have to prove that your employer (or anyone else, for that matter) was at fault. It is a no-fault type of insurance. Even if you were partly to blame for the accident, you should still be able to claim compensation.

The disadvantage of workers’ comp., compared to personal injury claims, is that you can only claim medical expenses and part of your lost earnings. There are other benefits, too, but overall, a successful personal injury claim would lead to greater overall compensation.

Option B: A personal injury claim

Texas is an unusual state as far as workplace insurance is concerned. Unlike other states, it is not compulsory for your employer to have workers’ compensation insurance. It is up to your employer. Because there are advantages for employers to take out insurance for their workers (can’t be sued etc.), many employers in Texas do have workers’ comp., but this is by no means as certain as it is elsewhere in the U.S. If you have been injured in the scenario given above, and find that your employer does not have workers’ comp. insurance, you may have no choice other than to consider making a personal injury claim against the negligent party. However, this is unlikely to be the employer, but the driver of the vehicle that hit you.

With this option, it means you must find sufficient evidence that the other driver was at fault. You are allowed under Texas comparative negligence rules to be up to 50% at fault yourself, but no more.

The potential advantage of a successful Texas personal injury claim is that you can not only claim for medical treatment, current and future, as well as your lost earnings, but an amount for the pain and suffering experienced, too.

Personal injury claims and lawsuits are never easy. Before you file a claim you should discuss the case with a personal injury attorney in the McAllen or San Antonio area. The attorney will know from experience whether you have a chance of succeeding or whether you are wasting your time. A good attorney will be able to negotiate from strength with a wily insurance adjuster and you are far more likely to obtain a fair and appropriate compensation payment if you allow the attorney to take the case on your behalf.

Dog Bite Law in Texas

Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at 7:05 pm    

Dogs can be vicious at times and may attack suddenly without any provocation. Small children and babies are particularly at risk, especially because they may seek to play with, or interact with, a dog without understanding the potential risks. Even dogs that are familiar to small children may bite or attack the child.

If you, or a child in your family is attacked by a dog and you are injured, your first priority is to prevent any further injury and seek medical attention. If at all possible, make a mental note of the dog’s identifiable features if you are not familiar with it. This might include its size, shape, breed, color, tail size, how the attack took place and whether the dog had any tag, collar or leash attached. If you have a cell phone, tablet or camera and get the chance, take a photo of the dog and check whether there was anyone who might have witnessed the attack.

Dog bites can be serious and you may be entitled to seek compensation from the dog’s owner. If the dog’s owner was liable for the attack you may be able to seek compensation for medical treatment, lost earnings if any and other damages such as pain and suffering.

It is important to establish the rules that govern dog bite injuries in Texas. It is best to contact an experienced dog bite attorney if you are bitten by a dog in or around McAllen. The attorney can assess the chances of success if you opt for a personal injury claim against the owner. It can be difficult proving liability in Texas in dog bite cases because of state dog bite legislation, so it would be hard, if not impossible, to get a satisfactory outcome if you did not have effective legal assistance.

Texas legislation on dog bites

Texas does not have a specific law on dog bite attacks, like some other states. In California, for example, there is a strict liability dog bite statute that makes the dog owner liable for any injuries caused by his or her dog, except in certain circumstances such as prior provocation. This doesn’t mean that you cannot sue a dog owner in Texas, but the legal situation does make it a bit more difficult than in a strict liability state.

Dog bite liability in Texas is due to other statutes which concern, but are not limited to dog bites. Basically, dog owners are considered liable for a dog bite injury inflicted on someone else if they can be proven to have either:

  • had previous knowledge or experience of their dog behaving aggressively towards another person; or
  • behaved negligently with regard to their dog and this negligence can be proven to have caused the attack to have taken place.

The one bite law – previous knowledge may make the owner liable

Dog bite law in Texas and other states that have similar legislation is sometimes referred to as the “one bite rule,” although this is an informal expression and in fact there is no actual law in Texas that has this name. The expression refers to the fact that liability may be involved if the dog’s owner knew that his or her dog had bitten someone else once before.

There are exclusions to the one bite law. The dog’s owner cannot be held responsible if the dog is provoked by the person who is ultimately bitten. If the dog is taunted or teased, for instance, and it is this behavior that has caused the dog to attack then this may invalidate a personal injury claim against the owner.

If the dog bite takes place on the dog owner’s private property and the victim did not have permission to be present there, then the owner may not be liable even if the dog was known to be aggressive.

These are common defenses that a dog owner may make if confronted by a personal injury claim and can be hard to prove false if there are no other witnesses to confirm your side of the story.

Examples of negligence by the dog’s owner

If the dog’s owner was negligent, then the owner may be liable for any attacks that have taken place. Negligence can also be hard to prove, but in many cases is obvious. For example, if the dog is taken for a walk in a park where all dogs are required to be on a leash or are prohibited, the owner would be considered liable if the dog was allowed to run free.

If you are injured by a dog in the McAllen or San Antonio areas and believe that the owner was liable, you should make an appointment with a personal injury attorney at the Patino Law Firm to discuss your legal options. Contact one of our attorneys at 956-631-3535.

Psychological Fallout From Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Last a Long Time

Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2018 at 3:33 am    

Few people would disagree with the fact that serious motor vehicle accidents can be highly stressful. What many might not realize just how pervasive the psychological effects of an accident can be. The scars of a frightening crash and the subsequent injuries can last for a life time for a minority of crash victims, although this only seems to apply to less than 15% of cases.

The main long term psychological effects of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) are depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although depression and anxiety are well enough known amongst the general public, PTSD is usually associated with war veterans who have experienced terrible events, either involving themselves or others during combat. It seems that the experience of a major MVA is just as likely to lead to the development of PTSD after recovery from the physical injuries caused by an accident. PTSD rarely disappears completely but can resurface at unpredictable times. In effect it is a long term, possibly life time, burden caused in many cases by the negligent actions of another driver.

Symptoms of PTSD

The term is quite well known but few people who have not experienced terrible events and their psychological aftermath are aware of what exactly is involved. PTSD is an extremely complex mental health issue and is not always easily diagnosed or treated.

After experiencing terrible events, the human mind develops an ability to cope with the memory of the fear and terror that has been witnessed. The common symptoms that may be felt include:

  • nightmares;
  • flashbacks;
  • uncontrollable thoughts;
  • severe anxiety.

It seems that in many people these symptoms tend to fade with time, but in a minority of cases they do not. This can become PTSD. The U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) has studied PTSD development after major motor vehicle accidents and has found that PTSD symptoms tend to include emotional numbness  a way of avoiding memories of the accident), refusing to take up driving again, refusing to talk about the accident, insomnia, extreme levels of anxiety and flashes of irritability.

PTSD can be treated – the earlier the better

MVA injury victims who show any of the symptoms described above are encouraged to seek mental health treatment as early as possible. Support from family and friends to encourage reaching out for psychological treatment is valuable, especially because there may be a tendency to try and ignore that the feelings are causing harm as noted above.

Treatment for PTSD has been shown to be effective. The best treatment involves therapy before PTSD sets in. If PTSD is already diagnosed, then Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be effective.

Unfortunately, MVA victims are often forced to try and seek compensation for their injuries, especially when they were not to blame for the accident. The extra psychological stress of litigation does not help PTSD treatment, but on the other hand, recognition of the psychological effects of the accident can help to provide adequate funding for psychological; treatment.

You may be able to claim for PTSD treatment

If you have been involved in an accident, and are beginning to experience strange thoughts, anxiety depression, insomnia or any other unusual feelings even after physical recovery, you should seek psychological help as soon as you can.  You may be entitled to claim compensation for the cost of effective psychological treatment as part of a personal injury lawsuit filed against the person who was responsible for the accident. Talk to one of our car accident attorneys at the Patino Law Firm in McAllen, Texas. We will provide a free consultation to discuss your case and work on contingency so there is no need to pay upfront legal fees if we represent you legally. Ring (956) 631-3535 for an appointment.

Infotainment Systems Too Distracting for Drivers According to the AAA

Posted on Monday, December 25th, 2017 at 9:58 pm    

Texas may have banned texting while driving but there is no law that prohibits using and programming an infotainment system while driving, yet recent research by the AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that using these systems can be a major distraction while driving.

Texas is not the only state not to have any rules about using infotainment systems. No state has any such laws. It seems as if the speed of change and uptake of new information and communications technology is faster than the ability of lawmakers to establish laws to prevent people being killed because of the technology’s ability to distract.

Automobile infotainment systems usually have a touch screen and multiple uses. They allow phone communication, radio, music and navigation. Some manufacturers ensure that their infotainment systems that are designed for in car use cannot be actually programmed while driving. That helps to cut down on distracted driving to some extent, as the AAA study has shown that it can take up to 40 seconds to program one of these systems. Since it only takes 2 seconds failure to concentrate to cause a crash, according to the NHTSA, it’s a wonder that the use of infotainment systems isn’t a major cause of car accidents.

AAA study reveals the dangers of using an infotainment system

The AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety used researchers from the University of Utah to study the effects of infotainment systems on distracted driving. 30 vehicles and their drivers were used in the research. The main findings were:

  • It took an average of 40 seconds to program a navigation system alone;
  • 12 out of the 30 systems in use on the survey allowed navigation programming while the car was in use;
  • 1 in 3 drivers use an infotainment system;
  • Most systems require moderate or high levels of concentration;
  • Younger drivers are more likely to be distracted than older ones.

In addition to the AAA study, there have been previous studies that have highlighted the fact that technology has increased the burden on drivers.

Of course, distracted driving has been around for as long as people have been allowed to drive. The point is that these earlier distractions, such as eating and drinking while driving or talking to a passenger in the car or staring at something out of the window, are still with us. The new sources of distraction, cell phones, tablets and infotainment systems are increasingly part of our everyday lives wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Common sense dictates that if you wish to fiddle with your navigation system or talk to someone a cell phone that you pull over somewhere safe off the road to do so. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to have legislation to ensure common sense.

Car drivers don’t even seem to think that the infotainment systems they use in their own car are very reliable. In the AAA study, only 24% of the drivers surveyed thought that the infotainment systems they have in their cars were reliable, yet another survey revealed that 70% of U.S. drivers actually want a functioning infotainment system installed in their car.

Negligence is the key to a distracted driving personal injury lawsuit

Texas may not have any rules regulating the use of infotainment system but the inference from the AAA study is that the use of these systems could be a major cause of distracted driving accidents.

If you are injured by a distracted driver you cannot use their use of an infotainment system against them as it is not illegal. But you can claim that their behavior was negligent. Every driver makes a conscious decision when they use a device like a cell phone or an infotainment system and if the use of it distracts them, then this could be construed as negligence.

If you are injured in a car accident in the McAllen or San Antonio areas and believe that it was due to a distracted driver, you should make an appointment with a car accident attorney at the Patino Law Firm to discuss your legal options. Contact one of our attorneys at 956-631-3535.

Preventable Hospital Deaths?

Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2017 at 6:15 am    

If you were casually asked what you thought was the leading cause of death in the United States, you would probably think of things like car accidents, heart attack, cancer, stroke and homicide. You would be right, at least for the first three, but were you aware that right up there with the first three were preventable hospital deaths? That’s right. 440,000 people are estimated to die every year across the country from mistakes that have happened in hospitals. Mistakes, errors, call them what you will, medical negligence would be a more accurate legal term. That’s an absolutely staggering number of people who die every year because of decisions that have been made which were wrong.

The number has been quoted in the Journal of Patient Safety, which reports that the number of people that die from what it calls preventable adverse errors (PAEs) represents a sixth of the national annual death count.

Example of a typical PAE

There are a large number of PAEs, so it is impossible to generalize. Medical negligence may happen at any stage of the chain of medical service in a hospital. It could be a nurse, a doctor, a hospital pharmacist, or a surgeon. It could even be a medical orderly. One example given below illustrates a typical example of a fatal PAE.

A 55 year old man noticed that he had shortness of breath and chest pains. He decided to go straight to a specialist cardiac hospital where he was admitted and kept under observation overnight. He received oxygen to help him breathe and supplementary medication. However, it seems that he did not respond to the treatment as expected. Rather than relaying his deteriorating condition, the nurse delayed communicating with the result being that the man’s heart suffered from progressive failure to the point where his chances of survival were reduced from a probable 90% to 20%. A cardiologist later said that had the deteriorating condition been properly reported, the man had a chance of being operated on sooner. In fact, he died the next day during surgery.

Under reporting the norm

The figure the Journal of Patient Safety came up with (440,000) has been derived from a known 220,000 and doubled to take into account under reporting. Not all hospital errs, of course, end up in a death, so there must be a much larger number of non fatal errors that may, or may not be detected. According to the study described in the Journal, patients themselves report three times as many PAEs as do hospital staff judging by what is recorded on the patients’ medical records. The report suggests that many doctors are reluctant to report PAEs, with cardiologists being particularly likely to do this.

The most common PAEs include the following:

  • adverse drug reactions;
  • blood clots in deep veins;
  • infections acquired in the hospital itself;
  • incorrect diagnosis;
  • incorrect surgical procedure;
  • incorrect medication, either the wrong drug altogether, the wrong dosage or the wrong combination;
  • respiratory distress during or after surgery;
  • surgical instruments or swabs left inside a patient’s body during surgery;
  • wound infection after surgery;
  • suture opening up after surgery.

No-one expects to emerge from a hospital worse than when they went in, but it does happen a lot more than many of us would like. There is no excuse for medical negligence and that’s why a medical negligence lawsuit helps to remind medical personnel and the institutions they work in that they must keep to high standards. 440,000 preventable deaths a year in hospitals across the U.S. is 440.000 too many.

A medical negligence lawsuit is not just a punitive measure. It is primarily designed to compensate the person who is the victim of medical negligence. A successful lawsuit can help to reverse the damage done while in hospital, compensate for lost earnings and the pain and suffering experienced.

For families of those who have died in hospital from a PAE, a wrongful death lawsuit can help to compensate financially for losses as a result of the untimely death of a loved one.

Talk to a medical negligence lawyer at the Patino Law Office in McAllen Texas, if you, or a loved one, have been the recent victim of medical negligence in a McAllen hospital, ring 956-631-3535.

What’s Wrong With Fireworks?

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2017 at 7:25 pm    

The 4th of July is long gone and Texas has had far more than fireworks to worry about recently with the extreme flooding event caused by Hurricane Harvey, but it is worth looking at the dangers of firework injuries as their use is increasing every year and that means more injuries every year too.

Fireworks, especially well organized public displays like the ones on the 4th July are fun and spectacular but mistakes can mean serious injuries and even fatalities. The number of fireworks related injuries is in the region of 8,000 to 10,000 annually. Injuries from fireworks may be anything from minor burns to the skin to eye injuries, severe burns and death. The injury rate does not appear to be decreasing, mostly because the amount of fireworks being used is increasing every year. Many of these fireworks are imported. Statistics indicate a more than 700% increase in fireworks imports (mostly from China) over the last 30 years.

Causes of fireworks injuries

Most people enjoy publicly organized fireworks events although there are a large number of fireworks that are set off by individuals and families. The accidents that involve fireworks tend to fall into three main categories:

  • improper use by individual users;
  • manufacturing defects;
  • negligence on the part of organizers.

Of these three main reasons for fireworks related injuries, the first is by far the most common. The firework chosen is not faulty, but the person who ignites it fails to read the instructions carefully, points the firework in an unsafe direction, lights the firework in the wrong place, stands too close or places the firework in a container that it is not designed to be held in.

Injuries to children are very common. Sometimes it is because of negligence on the part of adults supervising and sometimes it is because children have got hold of the fireworks themselves or have been allowed to play with them unsupervised.

You, or a member of your family, may be injured by a neighbor’s fireworks that have been used incorrectly or unsafely. That’s when a personal injury claim may be in order if negligence on the part of the fireworks user has caused a significant injury.

Manufacturing defects are also common, especially if the batch of fireworks comes from a new unidentified source. Manufacturing defects in fireworks may cause unexpected, premature ignition or explosion that can cause serious injuries. It may be hard to take legal action against an overseas manufacturer, but a personal injury attorney may discover on doing some investigation that a U.S. distributor was aware of defects in fireworks that had been imported previously or had not translated warnings or instructions for use adequately so that firework use could go ahead safely.

Firework injuries at special events like public fireworks displays are much less common, but do happen occasionally. Because of the number of people at a public display and the number of fireworks, many of which are usually far more powerful than those used by individual families, there is always the chance that things can go wrong. Accidents can be caused by mistakes in organization, seating arrangements, failure to adapt to weather conditions, especially wind direction and lack of experience in the use of the fireworks used as well as the use of defective fireworks.

Being safe around fireworks

If you are going to use fireworks at home or in a public place you are responsible for choosing god quality products and their safe use. It is better to use a place where the fireworks are not going to impact on anyone else. Flat ground out in the open is best. Don’t use a container made of something that can shatter like a glass or ceramic jar. Prevent children from touching, lighting or standing or sitting too close to fireworks.

If you, or a family member has been injured by a firework and you think that it was a defective product, you should attempt to recover the spent firework and any evidence of where it came from. You may be able to file a claim against the manufacturer (if it was a U.S. manufacturer, or the distributor based on product liability law.

If the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence you may be able to claim compensation by filing a personal injury claim. Talk to an attorney at the Patino Law Office in McAllen, Texas.  You can contact the office for a consultation at 956-631-3535.