Do I Need an Attorney if I Am in An Accident?

Sometimes in our lives we are suddenly thrust into being a victim of an unfortunate auto accident. It is inconvenient, time-consuming and often overwhelming. Decisions have to me made that can affect you, your family and your finances. One of the most important decisions you will make is whether you need a attorney. If you were not injured in the accident and just have property damage, you probably do not need an attorney and can handle the matter on your own. Most attorneys will not take a property only damage claim. If you are the non-fault party, the other driver’s insurance should cover your property damage claim. If the other driver does not have insurance you can turn it into your insurance carrier if you have collision coverage. If your car is not totaled, take it to where you want it to get it fixed (a dealer or reputable car repair business), and let them deal directly with the insurance company to properly fix your car. If your car is totaled, then get online and try to get a good estimate of the actual cash value or fair market value of the car. Use this amount in your negotiations with the insurance company as it is a good reference point.

If you were injured in an auto accident, it is always wise to consult with an attorney to better understand all your options. In Florida you have to navigate through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverages as well as whether you can file a lawsuit for non-economic damages. In Florida there is a threshold that must be met before a lawsuit can be filed against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience. You must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death

It is important to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about these threshold requirements and if you meet them. Also they can advise you as to what PIP covers. There are also certain accidents that don’t require you to meet the threshold requirement such as if you were operating a motorcycle, in a taxi or on a scooter. Personal injury law can be quite a maze to try to navigate your way through, and this is why an attorney can be so valuable to protect your interests. If a lawsuit is filed, you should always have an attorney. Florida Civil Procedure has certain requirements which if not met can risk your suit being dismissed. A good attorney will take the pressure off of you and allow you to recover, while he or she handles the legal side of the claim. Insurance companies may try to dissuade you from retaining an attorney and try to throw a few dollars at in you exchange for a release of the claim. Be careful as once you sign the release in almost all cases, the claim is gone and cannot be resurrected.

An experienced personal injury attorney will have a good idea as to the value of the case and what would be a fair settlement. Also if the case is litigated, depositions and other discovery is conducted and you want a good attorney handling these matters. It is almost impossible to try to do this on your own. Also if the case is tried in front of a jury, you want a personal injury attorney with trial experience that can tell your story in front of a jury in a compelling and passionate way. There also might be issues of bad faith that may need to be explored depending on the insurance company’s actions.

Florida does have minimum low limits of liability of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. An experienced lawyer will help you find all available forms of insurance and assets so you can be fully compensated. He or she can also advise you if it is worth retaining an attorney if there is only minimum limits of insurance available.

A personal injury attorney should always act in your best interests to help you obtain fair compensation. The fee is contingent so you are not required to come up with a retainer or pay an hour rate. This helps to alleviate any financial burden for the accident as the attorney only gets paid if  he settles your case or gets a verdict for you.

It is always wise to have a personal injury represent your interests if you were injured in an accident. He or she should communicate with you about your case and keep you fully informed as to the progress of your case. You should feel comfortable working together with your attorney as a team and trust that he or she is acting in your best interests. Your attorney should give you a roadmap as to what to expect as the case moves forward and should keep the case moving toward resolution. The court system can be slow, but the attorney should not cause any unnecessary delays due to his or her actions.

Florida personal injury law can be tricky and has many traps for those who do not understand the process. Insurance companies may act like they are your best friend, but they want to settle the case as cheap and quickly as they can. They usually do not have your best interests in mind even though they run many television commercials claiming they do. An experience personal injury lawyer will help you navigate the traps and will represent your interests not the insurance company’s interests. In order to obtain justice in your case, it is always prudent to get an attorney to fight this battle for you. If you have been injured in a trucking, auto or motorcycle crash, call or email Rowe Law Offices for a free consultation as to your rights and remedies. It may be the most important call you can make.

First Federal Opioid Trial Averted With $260 Million Settlement

 

Two Ohio counties and four drug companies agreed to a $260 million settlement, averting the first federal opioid trial an hour before opening arguments were scheduled to begin Monday.

  • The deal is between distributors McKesson, AmeriSourceBergen and Cardinal Health, along with Teva Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli manufacturer, and Ohio’s Summit and Cuyahoga counties.
  • The Washington Post reported that the counties will receive $235 million in cash from the four companies and $25 million in anti-addiction medication from Teva.
  • Walgreens was not included, and the New York Times reported it will be going forward with its case.
  • The deal comes as talks for a $50 billion settlement collapsed over the weekend.
  • The drug companies are still contending with over 2,400 claims from across the country, which they hope to end with a wide-ranging settlement.

Key background: Almost 400,000 Americans have died in the opioid epidemic over the past two decades. Millions remain addicted, costing local governments millions of dollars and creating enormous strains on law enforcement, health providers and social services. Cities began filing lawsuits against the drug companies in 2014. By 2019, the number of opioid lawsuits ballooned to more than 2,500, with nearly every U.S. state filing separate litigation as well. The total economic toll of the crisis could range from $50 billion to over $1 trillion, according to estimates.

Tangent: Purdue Pharma (which manufactured OxyContin) and its owners, the Sackler family, were part of the case until the company offered a separate settlement of up to $12 billion and filed for bankruptcy in September. If the settlement is accepted, the Sacklers will relinquish control of Purdue.

Courtesy of https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2019/10/21/260-million-settlement-averts-first-federal-opioid-trial/#6e19c08770f2

Are Juul E-Cigarettes Safe for the Consumer?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating more than 150 cases of severe lung issues that may be tied to e-cigarettes. The cases span nearly 20 states, and many of the victims are young adults who reported symptoms like coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath. Once hailed as the healthier end-all to smoking traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes (also called vaporizers or vapes) have become a public enemy thanks to a slew of reports of lung illnesses, seizures and even death in people who use them. Even if you don’t vape, you can develop health issues if you hang around people who do via secondhand vaping. Because of the company’s popularity, Juul in particular has sparked heated debate since its launch of sleek, small vapes and sweet-flavored nicotine cartridges in 2015. In fact, the World Health Organization actually singled out Juul in its latest report on the global tobacco epidemic (on page 31), calling it one of the new industry players that “continue to subvert tobacco control.” The FDA also called Juul out for marketing its vapes at healthier than cigarettes, when there’s no proof of that yet. Juul’s own CEO even said the recent respiratory illness cases are “worrisome.” In the midst of all this, it’s no surprise that big cities are taking action and banning e-cigarette sales in an attempt to keep their residents healthy.

Vaping and nicotine addiction

Vaping was supposed to be the less addictive cure-all to cigarette smoking. But as it turns out, nicotine is addictive no matter what vessel people use to consume it — and some e-cigarettes are known to contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes in just one e-liquid pod. So while vaping might help people quit smoking actual cigarettes and avoid some of the cancer-causing chemicals in them, vapes themselves are hard to quit. Dealing with addiction can cause a range of physical and emotional complications, from withdrawals to depression.

Effects of vaping on heart health

The Stanford School of Medicine released a study in May 2019 that suggested the e-liquids in Juuls and other vapes could increase a person’s risk of heart disease. When inhaled, the e-liquid affects a certain kind of cells, called endothelial cells,that line the inside of blood vessels. Researchers found that endothelial cells exposed to e-liquid or to blood collected from people who smoked e-cigarettes exhibited DNA damage and cellular death. Damage occurred even in the absence of nicotine, which means other compounds in the e-liquids are harmful. Interestingly, the severity of the damage varied by flavor, with cinnamon and menthol found as the most harmful. The endothelial cells the researchers tested were grown from stem cells, an ideal method for studying cells that are usually hard to isolate from patients. “This study clearly shows that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes,” said Joseph Wu, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, in a press release. “… We saw significant damage. The cells were less viable in culture, and they began to exhibit multiple symptoms of dysfunction.”Another recent study found that, compared to people who don’t use e-cigarettes, people who do are up to 56% more likely to have a heart attack and 30% more likely to have a stroke. “Even after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, the statistics are still significant,” Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer of American Addiction Centers, told CNET, “with e-cigarette users 34% more likely to have a heart attack and 25% more likely to develop coronary artery disease.”

Vaping and seizures

A possible link exists between e-cigarettes and seizures, Dr. Weinstein told CNET, explaining that “nicotine in abundance induces convulsive seizures by activating particular neurons in the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, memory and survival instincts.” Dr. Weinstein brings this risk to attention because nicotine concentration might be misstated on some products: Researchers who studied this found that some e-liquids labeled as having a concentration of 18mg/mL contained as much as 52% more than stated. Some e-liquids also contained less nicotine than stated. This can be particularly problematic for children who come into contact with mislabeled e-liquids because they are more susceptible to nicotine poisoning, Dr. Weinstein said. Throughout 2019, the FDA has been investigating incidents in which people — especially teens and young adults — who vaped suffered a seizure. In April 2019, the FDA said in a statement that it has received “35 reported cases of seizures following use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and early 2019.” What’s even more troubling is that the FDA says that in some cases, “Seizures have been reported as occurring after a few puffs or up to one day after use.” As of August 7, 2019, the agency has now received more than 120 total reports of seizures and other neurological issues that followed using e-cigarettes. It is still investigating the link between the two.

Nicotine and reproductive health

It’s well known that smoking traditional cigarettes during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of premature delivery, low birth weight, stillbirth and birth defects. Dr. Rajy Abulhosn, medical review officer for Confirm BioSciences, told CNET that the use of e-cigarettes may present just as much risk due to the nicotine they contain both lung and brain development and function.” A 2019 study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society found that the nicotine and chemicals in e-cigarettes may put women’s fertility at risk by making it much more difficult to harder for an embryo to implant in the uterus. Unsurprisingly, the study also found that vaping while pregnant can trigger lifelong developmental abnormalities in babies.

Psychological complications

The same study that found e-cigarettes to increase the risk of heart attack by 55% also found that e-cigarette use may increase a person’s risk of depression by 50%. The research does not outright say that vaping causes depression, but it’s likely that people who vape are more likely to already have depression and use e-cigarettes as a coping mechanism. Similar relationships have been found between smoking regular cigarettes and depression.Young people are particularly at risk for psychological complications, because nicotine can alter the development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, personality expression and logic. The prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until around age 25, and using nicotine before then can increase a person’s risk of mood disorders, addiction and impaired impulse control.

Nicotine’s effect on the brain

There’s one other big concern when it comes to e-cigarettes and the brain: Research has found that a significant number of electronic nicotine devices generate vapor with potentially unsafe levels of manganese. Manganese is an essential mineral that you need to get from food, but when inhaled, manganese “is delivered directly to the brain and can lead to hallucinations,” Dr. Weinstein said. Chronic exposure to manganese can lead to manganese toxicity, a condition that develops silently over time and begins with nonspecific symptoms like headaches and fatigue. Over time, if manganese levels become high enough, toxicity can cause organ damage, hallucinations, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and more. Researchers don’t know the actual threshold of manganese exposure at which these symptoms start to occur, but it’s always worth exercising caution.

Does vaping cause lung damage?

E-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco or leave tar on your lungs like regular cigarettes do, but the e-liquids and aerosols in vapes do contain a number of chemicals that still harm the lungs and respiratory system, Dr. Laren Tan, a pulmonologist at Loma Linda University told CNET. “A common misconception is that e-cigarettes are completely safe, since e-cigarettes do not appear to have the classic look, feel or smell,” said Dr. Tan, “[but] the intentional inhalation of particulates can still be harmful, especially in those with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD.” Dr. Weinstein points one of those harmful compounds out as chromium. Also found in regular cigarettes, chromium appears to be present in e-cigarette emissions, and chronic inhalation of it has been shown to induce asthma, decrease lung function and cause cancer of the respiratory system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating more than 150 cases of severe lung issues that may be tied to e-cigarettes. The cases span nearly 20 states, and many of the victims are young adults who reported symptoms like coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath.Article courtesy of https://www.cnet.com/news/is-juul-bad-for-you-doctors-weigh-in/

If you have been injured by using a Juul or e-cigarette product, call us at Rowe Law Offices for a free consultation as you may be entitled to damages for your injuries.