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nager romaine & schneiberg attorneys

Welcome to the Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg, Co. blog!  We look forward to sharing our knowledge with you in our upcoming posts. We are an state wide law practice with officesin Cleveland, OH, Ashtabula, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio.   We have a staff of more than 25 paralegals and legal assistants and 12 full time attorneys who focus on the following legal concerns:

We believe that an informed client is an empowered client, so on this blog we will bring you the latest information on popular topics. These will include personal injury, workers’ comp, car accidents, medical malpractice, insurance coverage, mass tort/class actions, nursing home neglect and abuse, and other trending topics.

Owning a safe vehicle is a top priority for most parents and other individuals. In fact, more than 65 percent of consumers value safety over quality, price and performance. Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) completes independent crash tests and analyzes the safety of the year's most popular models. This year, auto manufacturers have introduced a variety of active safety features that could help prevent accidents. New safety features include lane-departure warnings, active headlights, blind-spot monitors, and collision avoidance systems that automatically activate the brakes when a pedestrian or vehicle is in the roadway.

In Ohio and across the nation, automobile accidents are at an all-time low, but there is still a significant risk of being involved in a fatal crash. For individuals between ages 3 and 34, vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 32,000 people died due to vehicle-related injuries in 2010. This means that one fatal auto accident occurs every 16 seconds. Plus, whiplash and minor injuries occur more frequently. Medical care and economic losses due to lost wages cost the nation more than $99 billion each year.

In 2012, a record-breaking number of vehicles earned the IIHS "Top Safety Pick." This list includes 69 sedans, 38 SUVs, and three pickup trucks. These vehicles were graded on their ability to withstand front-end crashes, side-impact crashes, rollovers and rear-end crashes. Here are a few popular vehicles that made the cut:

While advanced safety features aren't a substitute for attentive driving, they can help reduce the number of fatal crashes or help drivers avoid collisions completely. Dangerous vehicles and inattentive drivers cause debilitating injuries. If you've been involved in an auto accident and didn't recover the compensation you deserve, contact a local Ohio personal injury attorney today.

- See more at: https://nrsinjurylaw.com/blog/the-safest-cars-of-2012/#sthash.AXQ2dpM3.dpuf

The types of injuries that can be caused by a car accident are limited only by the number of ways a person can be injured. Every part of your body is subject to injury during a car crash. However, if you look at the statistics compiled from insurance claims, personal injury lawsuits and government agencies, then you will notice that some injuries occur more often than others do. The following are the five most common types of injuries that result from automobile accidents.

Spinal injuries

Spinal injuries are sometimes referred to as either neck or back injuries, but the neck and back can suffer from sprains and other forms of trauma that have nothing to do with the spine. Spinal injuries are very serious and can occur in even minor collisions. Spinal injuries include ruptured discs, nerve damage, and fractures. The most serious of these injuries may cause chronic pain or paralysis.

Neck injuries

Besides spinal injuries, the neck can become injured in other ways. One of the most common neck injuries is known as whiplash. This occurs when the head is violently snapped back and then forward again. Whiplash and neck strains are considered mild injuries, but they can cause temporary disability.

Back injuries

The back can be injured in a car accident in several ways, but the injuries are not always apparent on the scene. Some back injuries may not manifest until several hours or a few days later. After any motor vehicle accident, it is a good idea to be checked out by a doctor or EMT.

Facial injuries

Injuries to the face during car accidents are common because the face is totally exposed and easily traumatized. Facial injuries range from minor scrapes or bruises to severe disfigurement.

Psychological injuries

Car accidents do cause physical injuries as well as psychological injuries. Serious collisions may leave drivers and passengers emotionally distressed and in shock, or they may suffer from long-term conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

If you worked in one of the country's atomic weapons programs during the Cold War, you may have developed a serious illness because of it. Even if you didn't work with atomic weapons directly, you may have lost a family member to premature death due to his or her exposure to harmful substances. In June 2001, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was created to provide funds to injured workers and their families. Those who may qualify for benefits include employees, contractors and subcontractors at any Department of Energy (DOE) job site or people who worked for an atomic weapons employer. Survivors of deceased employees are also eligible.

Under the second section of EEOICPA, workers who developed cancer as the result of radiation exposure or those with silicosis or beryllium disease can also apply for benefits. If eligible, affected employees would receive a one-time payment of $150,000 in addition to payment of all medical expenses. If you were exposed to uranium on the job and got sick because of it, you may be eligible for an additional $50,000.

Eligibility for benefits

There was an amendment made in 2004 to improve benefits and expand eligibility for the program. After the amendment, surviving family members included the employee's spouse, children under age 18 or adult children under age 23 who are full-time students. Mentally and physically handicapped adult children who depended on the deceased employee's income are also eligible for benefits.

Nager, Romaine and Schneiberg Co., LPA is a personal injury law firm located in Cleveland that can help you if you are having trouble collecting your EEOICPA benefits. Even though you are entitled to them by law, you may have been denied due to a paperwork error or another minor problem. You were there when our country needed you, so we think it is only right that you get your benefits without any additional hassle from the government.

The Problem

Dave Duerson graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in economics. He then became a Pro Bowl safety in the National Football League. After retiring from the NFL, he took several McDonald's franchises and a food business from $24 million to $63 million in revenue in six short years. In 2011, at age 50, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He avoided shooting himself in the head so that his brain could be studied for a link between mild TBI and early-onset dementia. That was apparently his reason for taking his life – his brain just wasn’t able to do what it used to do. Boston University researchers subsequently confirmed his suspicions. His brain showed signs of a neurodegenerative disorder linked to concussions. As an NFL player, Duerson was subjected to numerous violent blows to the head. According to a massive study involving older NFL veterans, even a single mild TBI can more than double the risk of early-onset dementia like Alzheimer’s.

The Science

Neurons, or nerve cells, are like long spaghetti strands with a cell body on one end. When a head is struck a violent blow, the skull often rotates, with the brain following suit and rotating inside the skull. This rotation can stretch the axons (the spaghetti strands) of your brain’s nerve cells. This damage opens up molecular channels on the surface of the axon that transport sodium and calcium ions, and those ions flow into the interior of the axons themselves – creating a tidal wave of electrical activity. The brain reacts by pumping ions back out as fast as possible, rapidly depleting its store of energy. Exhaustion sets in and can leave a person lethargic and without energy for days. Like a computer, the brain must almost reboot before it can function normally again. Inside the axons, microtubules can break when stretched. Like a broken train track, molecular cargo can pile up rapidly. This cargo contains proteins that when broken down can form amyloid plaques. Sound familiar? They are commonly found as precursors to Alzheimer’s or other forms of degenerative brain disease.

On a more positive note, a new form of medical imaging makes it possible for doctors and scientists to see these changes where previous technologies did not reveal them. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) tracks the flow of water molecules down the length of the brain’s axons. If these molecules are seen to be moving laterally, an injury to the microtubules may have occurred. Being able to diagnose or gauge the severity of a mild TBI may aid greatly in establishing the course of treatment for individual patients.

The Skinny

People have been getting hit in the head for thousands of years. With contact sports, motor vehicle travel and life in general, this trend will likely continue. With increased awareness, however, great strides in prevention and treatment can take place. More and more schools are crafting practice techniques to reduce the risk of serious head injuries. Perhaps even more important, protocols are being adopted to deal with athletes who do suffer a mild TBI. Baseline tests can be administered at the beginning of a season to serve as a comparison for post-injury mental function. Players not showing a return to their baseline can be required to sit out until they’ve sufficiently healed.

In 2006, Zackery Lystedt went back out on the football field after suffering a concussion earlier in the game. After being struck in the head again, Zackery collapsed with what proved to be a debilitating brain injury. In 2009, his home state of Washington passed the Lystedt Law. This legislation requires annual mandatory training for athletes, parents and coaches. It also requires the immediate removal from sporting events of any athlete suspected of having suffered a concussion, until such time as a medical professional clears them to return. Since Washington took action, 34 additional states have followed suit.

Awareness is the key. Know the signs (review here) and don’t delay seeking medical attention. And while not everyone plays football, almost twice as many emergency room visits result from bicycling accidents. Automobile crashes account for many times more. The brain is an amazing organ. It is both durable and fragile at the same time. It contains the keys to our functioning, our personality and our identity. Guard yours well, and those of your children.

Tools You Can Use
Resources for Athletes, Parents, Coaches

Personal injury is the frequent and unfortunate result of many accidents. Immediate medical treatment of your injuries is imperative. Yet, the ensuring feud between your insurer and the liable party’s insurer does not really aid your recovery – and it’s certainly not getting your medical bills paid. The skilled litigators at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., LPA make insurance companies take notice of Ohio’s Coordination of Benefits (COB) law, cutting through the squabbling, and getting you peace of mind that coordinated insurance coverage brings.

Ohio COB law

One of the most disturbing issues when dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of an injury is the bickering between insurance companies over who is the primary insurer. Despite the parties having paid premiums, the insurers frequently withhold funds for medical care, leaving you open to bill collectors. Our Ohio personal injury attorneys deal directly with medical service providers and insurance companies on your behalf to get you the medical care you need. We additionally make sure the medical bills have been discharged before your lawsuit is concluded.

Ohio law defines COB as follows:

“The order of benefit determination rules govern the order in which each Plan will pay a claim for benefits. The Plan that pays first is called the Primary plan. The Primary plan must pay benefits in accordance with its policy terms without regard to the possibility that another Plan may cover some expenses. The Plan that pays after the Primary plan is the Secondary plan. The Secondary plan may reduce the benefits it pays so that payments from all Plans does not exceed 100% of the total Allowable expense.” Ohio Rev. Code §3901-8-01

In plain language: your primary insurer pays as much as possible according to the terms of the insurance policy. Then, if there are more costs that need to be covered, the secondary insurance company pays the rest, as long as the policy terms permit such a payout.

Depending upon the terms of your policies, you may be required to reimburse your insurers for medical expenses once you recover compensation as part of your Ohio personal injury lawsuit.

Class action lawsuits are legally defined as “a lawsuit that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue or be sued as a group.” Basically, when a group of people have suffered the same or similar injuries from the same product, one big lawsuit can be filed against its manufacturer. Class action lawsuits involve complex litigation because they address a large number of complaints at once against a usually well-protected business.

Private causes of action

Ohio class action lawsuits are provisioned under Ohio Revised Codes as “private causes of action” at §1345.09 and applied under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

There are three types of class actions available under Rule 23:

Where separate actions would be adversely impact individual class members, and would “substantially impair or impeded their ability to protect their interests.”
Where the defendant must be compelled to act on grounds respective to the “class as a whole.”
Where the court must determine questions or facts mutual to the class individuals.

Most consumer class actions join multiple smaller claims from a large class of people. While it may be cost-prohibitive to litigate each small claim individually, there is indeed strength in numbers. The smaller common complaints collectively add up, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome for each smaller claim. This is especially true when the defendant is a large corporation with endless resources.

Class members taking action

Our Cleveland personal injury attorneys protect the rights of class members in legal actions, successfully litigating claims lateral to these examples:

The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation (HB 278) that will increase the statutory minimum financial responsibility limits for auto insurance.

The Ohio Association for Justice was the lead advocate for the legislation.  Joining OAJ in support was the Ohio Insurance Institute (the property-casualty insurance trade group) and the Ohio State Bar Association.

The current minimums of $12,500 for one person injured in an accident, $25,000 for all persons, and $7,500 for property damage will increase to $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 under the new law.  The increase in Ohio's minimum auto insurance coverage is the first since the 1960s and brings Ohio in line with a majority of states.  The increase is expected to cost the average consumer an additional $2-$3 in premium per month.

The attorneys at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg applaud the efforts of those who have championed this cause as the existing state minimum coverage falls far short of covering the damages caused by even minor motor vehicle accidents.

The increase will take effect nine months after the bill becomes law.

Suffering bodily harm or property loss caused by another person’s failure to use reasonable care is, in legal terms, personal injury. In determining liability in a personal injury case, the courts look for evidence of negligent or reckless actions, and whether the injury was a foreseeable result of another party’s actions.

The wrongful death and negligence issues below serve as the basis for many personal injury lawsuits:

Damages recovery

Insurance companies often attempt to minimize your losses and coerce you into accepting a token settlement. We stand up to insurance companies for you.

Damages may be recovered for:

Statutory limitations

It is important to keep in mind that the statutory limitation for filing a personal injury claim begins counting down the day your Ohio personal injury occurs.

Your personal injury lawyer needs some time before the statute expires to be able to investigate your claim and determine if there is a personal injury case worth pursuing. It is best to act quickly and contact an injury attorney as soon as possible for the best chance at winning compensation.

Getting hurt is never on anyone’s to-do list. It ruins your day, messes up your plans, takes time out of your life, and it just plain hurts. Our responses to these injuries vary — some people look immediately for the lawsuit and point blame to others, and some immediately blame themselves and do not consider that someone else may have contributed to the injury.

Once you or a loved one is hurt, it is a good idea to consider the circumstances of your injury — a legal claim may be in order.

The three basic areas of consideration in personal injury law are:

If you feel someone else may have been responsible for or contributed to your injury, contact a personal injury attorney. You can speak with someone at Nager, Romaine and Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. for a free consultation by calling 1.855.GOT.HURT (1.855.468.4878) or contact us by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form.

Q: Is my consent required before my lawyer can settle my case?

A: Yes. However, if you entered into a retainer agreement authorizing your attorney to execute a settlement and release on your behalf, you effectively consented to settle the case by proxy.

Q: Can I get a copy of the settlement check?

A: Absolutely. Your rights also extend to receiving a copy of the settlement breakdown prior to the check deposit, and copies of any checks your attorney writes to cover your lawsuit expenditures. The net settlement check you receive, added to the expense checks, should total the gross settlement amount.

Q: My child received settlement money, how can I access those funds?

A: Usually, a parent cannot access their child’s settlement funds. Your child’s money is held in a bank account until he (or she) reaches the age of 18. If the child’s well-being and care are in question, the courts sometimes allow the disbursement of funds to benefit the child.

Q: How is my lawsuit settlement award collected?

A: If the defendant in your personal injury lawsuit had insurance, your attorney notifies the insurance company that a judgment has been entered. The insurer then issues a check covering damages up to the policy limit. If the defendant is uninsured, once judgment is entered with the court, your attorney may have to file a motion to enforce the judgment. Your attorney can advise you on collections measures to take, if necessary.

Q: When can I expect my personal injury award disbursement?

A: Pursuant to §1.15 in the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, gross settlement award funds must be deposited into a “client trust account,” “Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA),” or a “clearly identifiable fiduciary title.” Once the settlement check has cleared, your attorney then writes checks to pay your lawsuit expenses and issues a check in the amount of the net award to you.

If you have any other questions about your personal injury claim, please contact our Ohio personal injury lawyers for a free initial consultation at (216) 289-4740, toll free at (855) 468-4878 (Got-Hurt) or contact us by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form.

Being injured accident is serious business, especially if you receive a substantial injury. Plus, there’s always the added worry of who is going to pay the mounting medical bills that have accrued as a result of your accident.

Your health insurer is the primary

Your health insurance company is first in line to cover your medical bills following an accident. Don’t be surprised if they refuse to pay your medical bills, claiming your auto insurer is responsible. Your health insurer is aware of Ohio’s Coordination of Benefits laws (COB) and subrogation laws that require them to work with other insurers, by acting as primary insurers while your personal injury case is pending. Your health insurer is reimbursed later for claims they paid out through a third-party damages award generated by your personal injury lawsuit.

Final disposition, then subrogation

Once your personal injury settlement reaches final disposition, a settlement check is issued to your attorney who writes medical subrogation checks out of the settlement. If you do not have health insurance, your car insurance is second in line to cover your medical bills. In that event, when your settlement funds do arrive from your Ohio personal injury lawsuit, your attorney reimburses your auto insurer, rather than your health insurer.

Letter of Protection

Every now and then it’s necessary for Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., LPA to write a “Letter of Protection” on your behalf. This communication informs your medical care providers that you are being treated for injuries sustained in an accident, that you have a personal injury lawsuit pending, and they will be reimbursed once settlement funds become available.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) benefits Department of Energy (DOE) workers, who experienced exposure to radiation and other toxic substances. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., LPA, we have handled EEOICPA cases throughout Ohio, and strive to expedite your claim and quickly bring you the benefits you’re entitled to.

The 22 specified cancers

Cancer and radiation sickness is a common ailment of energy workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has specified 22 cancers under EEOICPA as making one eligible for compensation. These cancers are:

  • Bone cancer
  • Renal cancers
  • Leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia) provided the onset of the disease was at least two years after first exposure
  • Lung cancer (other than in-situ lung cancer that is discovered during or after a post-mortem exam)
  • The following diseases provided onset was at least five years after first exposure:
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Lymphomas (other than Hodgkin's disease)
  • Primary cancer of the:
  • Bile ducts
  • Breast (female)
  • Breast (male)
  • Brain
  • Colon
  • Esophagus
  • Gall bladder
  • Liver (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated)
  • Ovary
  • Pancreas
  • Pharynx
  • Salivary gland
  • Small intestine
  • Stomach
  • Thyroid
  • Urinary bladder

The Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) program — administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) division of the CDC — completes final dose reconstruction on behalf of exposed workers to determine covered worksites. Currently, 3,447 individual Ohio cases have been returned with a completed SEC report.

The 35 Ohio EEOICPA covered facilities

The Energy Employees Claimant Assistant Project has identified 35 EEOICPA covered facilities in Ohio respective to “Beryllium, AWE (automatic weapons employer), and DOL (Department of Labor)” (verbatim):

  • Alba Craft
  • Ajax Magnathermic
  • Associate Aircraft
  • Baker Brothers
  • B and T Metals
  • Battelle Laboratories King Avenue
  • Battelle Memorial Institute Columbus
  • Brush Beryllium Cleveland
  • Brush Beryllium Elmore
  • Brush Beryllium Loraine
  • Brush Beryllium Luckey
  • Cincinnati Milling Machine
  • Clifton Products
  • Copperweld Steel
  • Dayton Project
  • Diamond Magnesium
  • DuPont-Grasselli Research Lab
  • Fernald
  • GE Evendale
  • Gruen Watch Company
  • Harshaw Chemical
  • Herring Hall Marvin Safe Company
  • Horizons Incorporated
  • Kettering Laboratory at University of Cincinnati
  • Magnus Brass Company
  • McKinney Tool
  • Mitchell Steel
  • Mound Laboratory
  • Piqua Organic Moderated Reactor
  • Portsmouth
  • Reactive Metals
  • R. W. LeBlond Machine Tool Company
  • Tech-Art
  • Tocco Induction Heating Division
  • Vulcan Tool

If you or a loved one is an energy worker and has suffered on the job illnesses, please contact us today to determine if you are eligible for compensation.

Much has been written about the dangers of contact sports and the effects that physical injuries sustained in our youth can have on our bodies for a lifetime.  Most adults do not need to read the medical literature to know about these risks. They need only listen to their creaky knees, sore/stiff shoulders and elbows or chronic back pain. These are the adult manifestations of physical injuries sustained in those glory days.  But perhaps the greatest impact for some may be caused by undetectable injuries with great psychological impact from repetitive head trauma that is common place in contact sports. Concussions.  "Getting your bell rung" or "knocked silly" on the field of battle is a right of passage in football, hockey, wrestling, and boxing. But concussions can occur in many other sports and activities - skiing, skate boarding, biking, and cheerleading for example.

Recent studies have discovered a condition (chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE) that is as real as the rush any athlete feels from competing in a sport that he/she loves. Scientists are just discovering the cause(s) and effect(s) of this condition but the initial evidence is compelling and disconcerting. The post mortem study of  brain tissue from individuals that competed in contact sports have shown real damage to cell tissue which cannot presently be diagnosed in living tissue and cannot be explained by any other disease process. CTE is suspected to lead to depression and compromised brain function and the scientists who are studying this condition believe that the link to repetitive head trauma is undeniable.

Experts warn that this condition is not limited to collegiate or professional athletes but that evidence of the condition (CTE) has also been found in the brain tissue of teens. One problem thought to lead to CTE is the manner in which injured players are treated - or not treated post injury. Unlike detectable physical injuries (i.e., a fractured bone, a laceration requiring stitches or a torn ligament), brain injuries are diagnosed by subjective standards and not objective testing (i.e., xray, MRI, CT Scan). As a result, athletes are often sent back into competition before their brain has had a chance to heal. It is not known how much this plays into the development of CTE but it is believed to be a factor. We know that an athlete would never be allowed to return to a game after fracturing a bone until the injury was given the appropriate time to mend.

Protocols for head trauma are being reconsidered. Safety equipment and rules are being discussed in an attempt to limit head trauma. In the meantime, head trauma is a part of many sports and cannot be eliminated. The point of this blog article is to bring further awareness to this problem and to urge parents, players and coaches to take these injuries more seriously.

At NR&S we represent hundreds of clients each year who sustain concussions or head trauma in auto accidents and work place injuries. We are staying on top of the science in this area to best represent our client's interests.

If you'd like to learn more about the science of CTE, take a look at this video report or pick up a copy of Rolling Stone (January 31, 2013 edition) which has an excellent article on the subject.

The State of Ohio has enacted a new law designed to educate the public and protect children who sustain head injuries while competing in youth sports.  The new law will go into effect April 26, 2013 and it specifies that coaches, officials, and referees must complete a 20 minute course every three years designed to assist in the recognition and treatment of concussions sustained by student athletes.  The new law also requires the State of Ohio, Department of Health to create a Concussion Informational Sheet which has been completed.   A copy of this data sheet can be viewed at http://www.oysan.org/Assets/Concussion+2013/Concussion+Info+Sheet.pdf.  Most importantly, Ohio House Bill 143 requires that a player who sustains a concussion must have written permission from a health care provider before the student athlete can return to play.

Much has been learned about concussions in recent years by the medical community.  Much still remains unknown.  By the enactment of  HB 143, the State of Ohio has taken a proactive approach which we at NR&S applaud.

In 2004, Ohio enacted a controversial Apology Statute with a stated purpose of improving the physician/patient relationship when medical errors take place.  The statute permits a health care professional to apologize to a patient when a medical error occurs in the care of a patient or a procedure leads to an undesirable result.  The apology (according to the statute) cannot later be used against the health care professional in court if a medical mistake results in a medical malpractice case.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2317.43(A) provides that "statements, affirmations, gestures, or conduct expressing apology, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, or a general sense of benevolence [made by a physician] * * * are inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest."

All of this sounds benign enough until one sees how this might play out in the context of an undesired medical result and/or a medical malpractice case.

Studies have shown that patients are less likely to seek a legal resolution to a medical error when they receive an apology from their doctor.  Doctors have complained that the potential for litigation chills the physician/patient relationship when medical errors take place as the doctor who committed the error may fear anything he/she says might be used against him/her in court.  The result often leaves a patient with a cold defensive feeling from their doctor following the medical error or undesired result.  The Apology Statute seems to aid this and, at least in aspirational terms, seems to be a good thing for patients and doctors.  With the protection of the Apology Statute, the offending doctor can apologize for the error and explain treatment options going forward under circumstances where the patient feels empathy from the negligent physician.  One of the dangers of the Apology Statute is that the patient may feel empathy for the negligent doctor and less likely to pursue a medical malpractice case under circumstances where it is their only practical option.  More importantly, a patient may assume that a doctor's apology has legal significance and that the doctor is accepting responsibility for the consequences of the error or undesired result.  This may delay a patient's pursuit of legal options which, in the case of medical negligence, can be limited to one year from the date of the malpractice.  Of course, the patient has no legal recourse once the statute of limitations (1 year from date of malpractice) has expired.  Further, an apology from a health care professional does not prevent that person from denying fault in court should a malpractice action be necessary.   From the perspective of the patient, this can clearly be seen as a classic bait and switch.

This fear was realized for one patient in Ohio (and can be expected to occur to many others) following a recent Ohio Supreme opinion which extended the Apology Statute to apply to an admission of fault (not an apology) from a health care professional.  In the case of Estate of Johnson v. Randall Smith, Inc. the physician stated to his patient following a medical error "I take full responsibility for this.  Everything will be okay."  The Court held that this statement could not be used in the subsequent medical malpractice case brought against the physician when (in the eyes of the patient) everything was not "Ok."  This case serves as an example of how the Apology Statute can mislead patients and protect health care professionals.   In this case, the doctor's statement that he was taking "responsibility" would logically pacify the patient but the doctor later denied fault in court and the patient could not use his statement against him.   The result is a one way street that is certain to lead to legal problems for many patients who have or will be the victim of medical mistakes.

The opinion from this case can be found at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2013/2013-Ohio-1507.pdf.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, the law allows you to sue that person for your damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering. But that right to sue does not last forever. Your right to sue is subject to the statute of limitations.

Statute of limitations is one of those terms you’ve heard many times, but what exactly does it mean? Lawyers.com explains that the statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to bring your civil lawsuit, such as a personal injury lawsuit, or the prosecution has to bring criminal charges. That time period starts to run the day the claim arises, which usually is the day the accident or crime occurred. Once that time period has expired, the civil lawsuit or criminal charges cannot be filed.

Civil lawsuits are actions seeking money damages from someone who has injured you. More often than not, those actions are tort actions. A tort is a wrongful action by someone else that leads to an injury. Most tort actions are personal injury actions. According to O.R.C. § 2305.10(A), the statute of limitations is two years. If a loved one dies because of someone else’s negligence, his or her relatives can bring a wrongful death action. The statute of limitations is also two years (O.R.C. § 2125.02(D)).

Professionals are held to certain standards in each of their professions. If they do not comply with those standards, they can be sued for malpractice. The statute of limitations for a legal malpractice lawsuit is one year (O.R.C. § 2305.11(A)). According to O.R.C. § 2305.113(A) and (C), the statute of limitations for medical malpractice – one year or four years, depending when the injury is discovered.

Sometimes the tort committed can be intentional. One such intentional tort is assault and battery, and the statute of limitations for a lawsuit is two years (O.R.C. § 2305.10(A)). Also, libel (O.R.C. § 2305.11(A)) and slander (O.R.C. 2305.09(A)) each have a statute of limitations of one year.

If you are injured because a product is defective, you can bring a products liability action. Under O.R.C. § 2305.10(A) and (C), the statute of limitations for a products liability lawsuit is two years or ten years, depending on when the injury is discovered and when the defective product was used or made. Contacting an Ohio injury attorneys immediately after your injury is always the best possible course of action.

Much litigation has arisen out of the DePuy ASR™ Hip System, a cup-and-ball hip replacement system made of metal. The manufacturers had issued a voluntary recall of the parts in August 2010, and the litigation followed.

In fact, thousands of individual cases against Johnson & Johnson, whose DePuy orthopedic unit manufactured the hip replacement system, have been consolidated in federal district court in Ohio. The hip replacements have been the subject of many mass tort cases.

However, the New York Times recently reported that Johnson & Johnson lost its first trial over the DePuy hip replacement system. A state court jury in Los Angeles awarded more than $8.3 million in damages to a Montana man in the case, but it refused to award punitive damages because it found that DePuy did not act with fraud or malice. The jury awarded the plaintiff $338,000 in medical expenses and $8 million in pain and suffering.

The plaintiffs lawyers had asked that the jury award their client $36 million to $144 million, arguing that the DePuys executives had acted unethically by failing to warn doctors and patients about the defects in the product. After deliberating for more than five days, the jury declined to do so.

Johnson & Johnson found that the verdict was “mixed,” and it said that it would appeal. The company disputed the jurys determination that the hip replacement had been defectively designed. Another trial was scheduled to start in Chicago the following week, and other cases are expected to head to trial later this year.

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative was announced in April of this year by President Obama as part of his strategy to create 21st Century Grand Challenges that stimulate the economy and our understanding of our world.

Working through a wide coalition of research and funding partners, the BRAIN initiative proposes to:

Besides the advancement of knowledge and the jobs that will rise from innovation, what does BRAIN mean to you or me? With yet to be stated research goals, in your busy day of work and stress, how can it help you?

Accidents happen every day to ordinary people like you and me, going to work, or driving to the store. Some of those accidents inevitably cause trauma to the brain. Our firm works hard to obtain compensation for individuals and their families whose lives are permanently altered by brain injury.

Right now, understanding of the brain, and the spinal cord, does not provide much hope for full recovery for our clients. Results from the BRAIN initiative, like the human genome sequencing project, might someday provide that hope.

It is the human brain that has created the world in which we live. It is about time we explore how we might better protect that most precious asset from injury and from disease. Maybe BRAIN will help us do that.

In the past, safety was not one of the top criteria people considered when shopping for a new car, and hearing safety news about your car might have come by accident. In order to provide consumers with information they need, when they need it, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an app to provide timely, topical information about the car you drive.

The Safer Car app released by NHTSA in March of this year is available free from iTunes. Currently released for the iPhone and iPod Touch, an Android compatible version of the app is under development.

At the same time of the launch of the Safer Car app, NHTSA released an Application Programming Interface (API) to enable developers to integrate data available on the app into other products and mobile services.

Intended to connect consumers and drivers with information important to them, the Safer Car app provides the following:

Staying safe begins with the equipment you drive. Keep your car maintained and keep abreast of news about your car with the Safer Car app. And if you are injured in a car accident in Cleveland, always seek experienced legal advice.

In May, 11-year-old Cleveland resident Jeffrey Hussey, Jr. went down the street to ride bikes with a friend. Minutes later he rode out into the street and into a sports utility vehicle, smashing the driver side window and door. The injury sent him to the hospital near death with a cracked skull and a badly bruised brain. The fifth grader was not wearing a helmet.

In summer and every season of the year, there is always a temptation to ride a bike or a motorcycle without a properly fitted helmet. Excuses come in the form of it takes too long, it is uncomfortable, I cannot see right. But there are no excuses for not wearing a simply formed piece of foam, rubber and plastic that can save your life.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16 percent of pedalcyclists injured in vehicle accidents were age 14 or younger. Take note of these tips to keep your child safe on their bicycle:

Wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, bicycle or even a horse can make the difference between life and death. Stay safe and if you or a loved one is injured, get good legal help.

Jeffrey Hussey Jr. is making a strong recovery. His mother told reporters, if we can at least get to one child and have them wear a helmet, it's going to make the world of difference.

October, November and December are the most likely months for Ohio Motorists to encounter a deer on the roadway. Unfortunately, many deer strikes leave the motorist injured, with property damage and no insurance coverage. The only coverage that may help when you strike a deer is comprehensive/collision (to repair your automobile - less your deductible) and medical payments which can pay medical bills, co-pays and deductibles not covered by private health insurance.

Deer strikes can cause serious injuries so aside from the out of pocket costs of striking a deer, Ohio motorists are smart to follow a few rules to help reduce your chance of striking a deer on the roadway or sustaining injuries when encountering an animal in the roadway.

- Be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively at all times;

- pay attention to signs warning of the presence of deer in an area;

- pay particular attention around sunset and sunrise;

- do not overreact if you encounter a deer (or other animal) in the roadway. Often times motorists swerve out of their lane and are seriously injured by colliding with other vehicles, trees, buildings, etc. It is often the best course of action to brake hard, sound your horn with multiple short blasts and stay in your lane even if that means hitting the animal; and

- if you hit an animal on the roadway, be cautious about approoaching the animal after the collision. Often times motorists want to check a deer or other animal on the roadway if they strike it, that is human nature. But a wounded animal is a dangerous animal and if you are on the roadway you are at risk of being hit by another motorist. It is best to pull your vehicle safely off the road and call for help if you need it.

Below is a link to an article discussing the frequency of deer strikes state by state and some interesting facts about the costs of deer strikes from the insurance industry. Be careful on the roadways this Fall.


In August, a 59-year-old Cleveland man became the first fire fatality of this year when a fire broke out on the first floor of his two-story home. While investigators are unsure how the blaze started, there were no working smoke detectors in the home at the time of the fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), deadly residential structure fires increase in cooler months, spiking in January. Data from the USFA indicates that Ohio residents are at a slightly higher than average risk of dying in a fire.

Our firm works with clients who suffer injury or the loss of a loved one through devastating structural fires. Fire-related deaths do not usually result from burns, but from the noxious and deadly smoke that typically follow the fire. In looking at multiple-fatality fires in the United States between 2009 and 2011, the USFA made the following findings:

You have the ability to reduce the risk of fire in your home by properly maintaining appliances, extinguishing candles and fireplaces at night or whenever you leave your home, and replacing batteries in smoke alarms when daylight saving time ends. These steps can prevent a deadly house fire and the tragedy of lost life.

As a popular science teacher and cross country coach, Robert Lennon was a fixture at St. Francis DeSales High School where he taught and coached for 40 years. The 64-year-old Columbus man volunteered at foot and other races throughout central Ohio and was well-appreciated throughout the community.

An avid cyclist, Mr. Lennon was riding along Miller Paul Road in Delaware on Sunday, September 15th when he was struck by a driver who left the scene. Mr. Lennon died in a roadside ditch, discovered by passing cyclists approximately an hour after the accident, his bicycle almost broken in two.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 1,760 crashes involving bicycles in 2011, resulting in 16 deaths. Pedalcyclist fatalities rose nine percent between 2011 and 2012, according to report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, statistics do not tell the story of the grief and damage caused when bicyclists and automobiles collide.

Elements that contribute to bicyclist fatalities vary based on:

Mr. Lennon was riding on a sunny day and might have been stopped in the bicycle lane. Days after the accident, a woman was questioned about the incident. She first said she hit a deer, but later admitted she hit a person along Miller Paul Road. Her severely damaged car was impounded and charges are pending.

Bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are all at increased risk due to their lack of protection in traffic. Wear bright clothes, stay alert and try to stay alive. If you are injured through the negligence of others, talk to an attorney from our law firm.

Another pit bull incident raises questions about the danger of pit bull dogs and the people who own them.

In August, college student Ashley Debeljak walked her German Shepherd, Blair, along her neighborhood streets in Shaker Heights. While walking her dog, Ms. Debeljak noticed a red car drive up and drop off two dogs nearby. The car sped off.

The two dogs, both pit bulls, ran across the street and attacked Ms. Debeljak, biting her leg and her dog. Her screams attracted the attention of her neighbor, Gary Simon, who ran across the street with his dog, Baxter, to help Ms. Debeljak. The pit bulls turned on Mr. Simon and his dog, biting both of them before being driven off by Baxter.

Seeing the attack, another neighbor called law enforcement who captured and quarantined the two pit bulls.

Pit bull dogs commonly make headlines for dramatic and sometimes deadly attacks. Despite this, the American Humane Society argues that breed-specific legislation does not address the larger problem of why dogs bite. To reduce aggression in dogs, the Humane Society suggests owners:

Ohio holds owners strictly liable for the damage and injury caused by their dogs. Neighbors wonder if the pit bulls that attacked Ms. Debeljak and Mr. Simon were raised to fight and abandoned when no longer useful. Police continue to search for the owners.

If you are injured or attacked by a dog, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Cleveland.

In a recent blog, we discussed changes to the numbers of hours a truck driver is allowed to operate a vehicle. Those changes, finalized in July of this year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), are intended to reduce truck accidents caused by fatigue.

Across the United States, the trucking industry is responsible for getting freight where it is needed, often on a short turnaround. Safety is essential for operating a big-rig or driving near one. While shortened hours may give truck drivers more rest, tightened regulations do not affect daytime drowsiness caused by sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

While many people recognize snoring as a symptom of sleep apnea, the indications of the problem are not the same for each person. There are two prevalent types of sleep apnea:

Both types of apnea are sleep disorders that prevent restorative sleep. FMSCA estimates that approximately one-third of truck operators experience sleep apnea, partly due to disrupted sleep cycles and partly due to natural tendency toward the disorder.

Truck drivers or motorists with sleep apnea can suffer from reduced reaction time, poor memory, daytime drowsiness and diminished decision making capacity during waking hours.

If you are chronically sleepy during the day, talk to your physician about sleep apnea. If you have been injured by a drowsy truck driver, seek experienced legal advice.

Following an automobile accident, you or a loved one are typically taken or go to an emergency room.  The hospital is willing to treat you but wants to get paid as much as it can for the bill.  Even though someone else caused your accident and should be responsible for your bills, rest assured that the other guy’s insurance company won’t pay the hospital’s bills right away.  The hospital will ask you if you have health insurance or your own automobile insurance coverage and will ask you to provide your insurance information.  The hospital wants to bill your automobile insurance first because it pays 100% of their bill up to the coverage limit.  Your health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid will only pay a percentage of the bill (20-40%) depending on the contract your health insurance carrier has with the hospital or doctor.   If or when this happens to you, only give the hospital your health insurance information, NOT your automobile insurance information.  Save your automobile medical payments coverage for deductibles or co-pays.  This makes your health care dollar go further and helps you to pay all of your medical bills from an accident.  Remember, do not give your automobile insurance information to the hospital, only give your health insurance information and insist that the hospital submit your bills to YOUR health insurance.  Later in your case the at fault party will be required to pay your medical expenses (provided you effectively prove that the other driver was at fault and your treatment was reasonable and necessary to treat injuries caused by the at fault party).   At that point your health insurer will be reimbursed what it paid on your medical expenses from the proceeds of your case.  This is through the process of subrogation which subject will be dealt with in subsequent NRS Injury Law blogs.   You should also feel free to contact us at any time with any questions.   Please contact an NRS attorney toll free at 1-(855) Got-Hurt or 1-(855) 468-4878.  - See more at: https://nrsinjurylaw.com/blog/pitfalls-to-getting-your-hospital-bills-paid-after-an-automobile-accident/#sthash.oPodqD3R.dpuf

When pursuing a claim for injures suffered in a car accident, the auto insurance companies will want to talk about the reasonable value of medical services.  Isn’t this just what the hospital or other medical provider charges for their services?  Not always.

Medical providers will often accept less than the full amount of the medical bills when those bills are paid through health insurance.  This is typically a matter of contract between health insurance companies and hospitals.  Given the amount of business they do together, hospitals will often agree to accept less than the amounts they charge for services when health insurance is paying the bills.  For the person without health insurance to pay the medical bills, however, he or she is on the hook for the full amounts.

In presenting an insurance claim for injuries and the medical bills needed to treat those injuries, it used to be that only the medical bills themselves mattered.  At trial, a jury was only allowed to see those total medical bills, not the smaller amounts that health insurance actually paid.  With the decisions of the Ohio Supreme Court in the cases of Robinson v. Bates, Jaques v. Manton, and just this month in Moretz v. Muakkassa, however, Ohio juries may now see those lower amounts paid by health insurance when determining the reasonable value of medical services.  In effect, defendant drivers and their auto insurers now benefit from injured individuals’ health insurance and the premiums they pay for that coverage.  In its most recent decision, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the defendant does not even have to produce an expert to explain to juries WHY the hospital would accept less than the full amounts for medical bills; jurors are simply shown both numbers—the full medical bills and the lower amounts accepted—and asked to determine reasonable value of the medical services.

This explains why auto insurance companies are so concerned with health insurance and the amounts actually paid to the medical providers rather than merely the medical bills themselves.  They know that, in the event the claim eventually goes to trial, the jury will get to consider those lower numbers in determining how much to compensate an injured party for the reasonable value of his or her medical services.

To learn more about this subject, see our website practice area page for Auto Accidents.

Who is at fault? The answer to this question is vital when determining whether you are entitled to damages, and how much, after a motor vehicle accident. However, the answer is often debatable. Rarely is one driver 100 percent to blame for the crash. Instead, the negligent actions of each driver may have contributed to the incident, and so the question really becomes, to what extent?

Ohio follows the comparative negligence doctrine — meaning fault does not necessarily bar recovery. The Ohio Revised Code 2315.33 governs the contributory fault effect on the right to recover, which in a nutshell says:

Prior to 1980, Ohio followed the contributory negligence doctrine, which resulted in zero compensation to plaintiffs who were even mildly to blame. For example, under the old system, if you suffered damages of $100,000, but you were 10 percent at fault, you would receive nothing.

The comparative negligence system bases your recovery on the percentage of your fault. Therefore, using the same scenario above, damages would be calculated as follows:

As you can see, this calculation is equally important if you are the defendant in an auto accident lawsuit. A northeast Ohio personal injury lawyer can help you to prove negligence in a plaintiff’s lawsuit or as an affirmative defense against a claim.

Back injuries are the most common injuries caused by automobile accidents and workplace trauma.  Unexpected impact from an collision, lifting, twisting, fatigue, falls and trauma are the most common causes of back injuries which account for 75% of all workers' compensation and auto accident claims.

Back injuries can be minor (mild sprains or strains) to severe and disabling (disc herniations and other disorders of the spinal column).  The more severe back injuries often become chronic and disabling for workers', flaring up with or without new trauma.  Disc herniations can be treated in a number of ways from conservative (rest and medication) to more aggressive (injections and/or surgery).  It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of disc herniations to help your doctor arrive at a diagnosis as early as possible.   Early diagnosis often leads to better results from treatment.

The back is divided into three levels. The top or the cervical level (from the base of the skull through the neck). The mid or the thoracic level (below the neck down between the shoulder blades to just above the waist), and the low or lumbar level (from the waist down to the sacrum). Significant back injuries can result in herniated discs in any of these levels. By definition a herniated disc is a rupture of the nucleus propulsus which causes irritation of the spinal nerves and applies pressure to the spinal cord.  Depending upon where a herniation occurs, the patient may experience symptoms in other parts of their bodies (i.e., referred pain).   For example, a neck injury may cause numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the arms, hands or fingers while a low back disc herniation is likely to cause pain & symptoms through buttocks into the legs and down into the patients feet and toes.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms following a neck or back injury, it is important to report this to your doctor.  If symptoms persist your doctor should order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or other testing to determine if a disc herniation is present. Be sure to consistently report all symptoms to your doctor from the first visit to help the doctor arrive at a diagnosis and to help your attorney prove the relationship between your auto accident or workplace trauma and the medical condition.

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