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Personal Injury Blog

Anoxic Brain Injuries From Near Drowning Accidents

Thursday, May 21, 2020




A day swimming at a local pool, lake or beach is a treat for you and your family. Unfortunately, a beautiful day of recreation can turn tragic in a matter of minutes. There are thousands of fatalities each year due to drowning and thousands more nonfatal incidents.

Submersion in water for just minutes results in mild to severe problems. One of the most common results of near drowning is a condition called anoxic brain injury (ABI). Anoxia happens when the brain lacks oxygen. Experts estimate that a few minutes of oxygen deprivation causes a victim a variety of symptoms but dissipates quickly, leaving the person to fully recover in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, four to five minutes without oxygen produces moderate to severe brain damage.

Effects of Mild Anoxia:

  • Disturbances vision, focus, and/or memory
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Sweating
  • Numb or tingling feelings especially in extremities
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Euphoric sensations

Effects of Moderate to Severe Anoxia:

  • Speech disturbances
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • cyanosis (bluish coloring)
  • Jerking
  • Seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • Coma

Long Term Effects of Severe ABI:

There are many long term effects when the cerebral cortex and cerebellum are starved for oxygen for four or more minutes. Weakness in the arms and legs, difficulties in movement and balance make it difficult for the victim to walk.

Disturbance of the basal ganglia might lead to persistent tremors and/or writing. Other times, chorea may result causing jerky movements.

Some patients suffer cortical blindness when the anoxia impacts the occipital lobe. In rare cases, a condition known as Anton's syndrome develops in which the person does not realize he has lost vision despite bumping into objects and not recognizing objects.

Those with frontal lobe impairment exhibit personality changes including mood swings when the patient become angry, irritable, frustrated and/or depressed.

 

Possible Tests and Treatments:

Physicians will likely order a number of tests to determine the immediate condition of a near drowning victim. Among these are blood counts, x rays, magnetic resonance imagery scan (MRI) and, computerized axial tomography (CT). These tests will help doctors assess the severity of the damage to the brain and body. . Typically, a medical team assembles to provide physical, occupational and speech therapy. The severity of impairment indicates how long to conduct rehabilitation efforts for the best outcome. Psychological counseling often helps a patient deal with the emotions due to his life altering accident.

Liability and Legal Action:

While many near drownings are accidents in which nobody is at fault, there are times when such occurrences could and should have been prevented. If, for example, the body of water was under the supervision of an ill-trained or inattentive lifeguard, a victim could in legal action against that person, the property company or the organization that certified the lifeguard.

Others who might be liable in certain situations are owners of unprotected pools. For example, in Florida, persons who own pools must provide a barrier to that body of water for when it is not supervised. This barrier could be a fence with a lock and/or alarm or a pool cover that meets the specifications of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Owners of properties containing unprotected wells or other water hazards might also suffer legal consequences should a drowning or near drowning occur there.

If you or a family member suffered from an ABI from drowning you need assistance. A competent and experienced lawyer can help you during this challenging time. You need compensation for associated costs like medical and therapy bills and possible loss of wages.  The pain and suffering ABI victims endure also deserves monetary assistance.

We Want to Help You:

Those impacted by the trauma and damage of anoxic brain injury due to a near drowning deserve compassion and guidance. The attorneys  at Freeman and Freeman urge you to contact us  for assistance with your particular situation.

Who is Legally Liable for Jet Ski Accident Injuries?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Riding on a jet ski is one of those unique vacation experiences. You may look forward to it for months or spot the rental place and decide to try it on impulse. You may decide to jet-ski alone just to feel the wind on your face or with friends to share the experience. But what happens when a high-speed frolic turns into a tragic accident? A few hundred jet ski accidents and a small number of deaths happen every year. And it's an unfortunate truth that because jet skis are high-speed recreation that the injured drivers are often blamed even when the accident was not their fault.

To discover who is responsible, you'll need to consider all the factors at play. Jet ski accident liability isn't as clear-cut as someone, say, getting injured on a theme park ride. Because there are so many contributors to the situation. Let's take a look at a selection of other players who might be the root cause of this terrible accident.

Another Boat Driver

Courtesy in the marina and along tourist-covered coasts is incredibly important. The more people in the water, the more careful each boat and personal watercraft driver has to be. It is vital that boats not only give each other space, but also respect each other's trajectories. You may be thinking that if another boat didn't hit the jet ski to cause the accident, then a boat driver isn't responsible. But that's not necessarily true. If another boat cut across the water in front of your jet ski and left a wake wave, for example, they may be directly responsible for the accident.  

 

The Jet Ski Rental Company

Rental businesses don't always fulfill their full responsibilities. Whether this was an accidental oversight or purposeful corner-cutting negligence, the rental company is still liable for failing to complete their duties in providing safe watercraft rental.

Rental companies are responsible for keeping their jet skis in top condition, well-tuned to perform well with inexperienced drivers. If a malfunction occurs or something breaks while you are out on the water, this is the rental company's failure.

The company is also responsible for giving you at least a quick summary of safety procedures. How to ride, how not to ride, and any local dangers. If, for example, there are sharks in the area your rental company is obligated to tell you before letting you go out on the water.

Liability Waivers

If the rental company is at fault, you may be worried about the liability waiver you signed to rent the jet ski. What you signed essentially says you won't be coming back claiming to have a crick in the neck because the handles were at the wrong height.

However, if the rental company really did fail to maintain the vehicle and rented you a defective high-speed personal watercraft, that is not included in most liability waivers. Make sure your lawyer takes a look at the waiver so you have a real idea of what the limitations are.

The Marina or Waterfront Management Company

Most people don't realize this, but there's also a possibility that the marina or beachfront where you were riding might be at fault for the accident. Any stretch of water and beach that are designated for recreational activity, the organization that opens the area is also responsible for making sure the area is safe. Patrolling the water for dangers, marking shallow rocks, and monitoring safe recreational activities.

The marina or waterfront are also responsible for any buoys, lines, piers, and floating docks that are part of their recreational area infrastructure. If your jet ski hits a buoy that is out of place, or shallow rocks that should have been marked, then these are examples of the marina or waterfront management company being at fault.

The Jet Ski Manufacturer

If your jetski malfunctioned but you can't figure out anything that you or the rental company did wrong, then the true responsible party might go all the way back to the manufacturer. Manufacturer errors do occasionally happen and personal injury suits are often the first time these risks are identified. In fact, if you successfully bring suit to a faulty manufacturer, you may save other lives by forcing them to do a recall on other units that may be defective as well.

A Tourist Guide Company

Finally, there is your tourist activity planning company or jet ski tour guide. Many people join a group or take a tour to enjoy their jet skis, meaning they are following the instructions and movements of someone who is supposed to be an expert with their safety in mind. If you were involved in an organized jet ski activity that resulted in an injury, there's an unusually high chance that your injury was ultimately the fault of the tourist guide or their company.

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a jet ski accident, the situation has so many layers that liability will take some investigating to discover. Was the marina a dangerous place to jet ski, or did your tour guide take you on a route too tough for beginners? Did your rental company fail to maintain the jet ski or warn you about local dangers, or did the manufacturer create a defective product that eventually failed under your use?

For more details on jet ski liability, to look over your rental liability waiver, or to consult on your case please contact us today. Our legal team is ready to help in any way we can.

Brain-Injured Rideshare Passengers Battle Uber for Justice

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Passengers expect their Uber and Lyft trips to be safe and problem-free. Of course, the reality is rideshare drivers have accidents too. It is difficult to determine how often passengers are injured while using a ride-hailing service. Although Uber recently released a safety report, the company did not include data on their accidents that resulted in non-fatal injuries. Yet, ride-hailing services have this data. They just don't make it public.

Each year transportation network companies, which is what the state of California calls ride-hailing services, must provide accident data to the state via the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The ride-hailing companies have asked the state to keep this safety data confidential. Thus far, the CPUC has honored their requests. A California politician is trying to get this critical information released to the public.

In the meantime, it's clear that rideshare passengers are being injured in collisions all over the country. The following cases show rideshare passengers have sustained serious brain injuries during their trips. These cases also demonstrate an injured rideshare passenger needs a strong Rideshare accident attorney to hold the responsible parties accountable. 

Uber Denies Hurt Passenger Has Right to Sue

Jillian Kemenosh is entangled in litigation with Uber. The basic facts of the case do not appear to be in question. In 2018, Kemenosh was using the service to get home. The Uber driver ran a red light and crashed into a vehicle. The accident left Kemenosh with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered spine.

When she sued Uber, the company claimed she had no right to sue. The company's argument is Kemenosh agreed to the company's terms of service, which requires her to settle legal disputes through binding arbitration instead of a jury trial.

Kemenosh countered that reading or agreeing to the terms of service was not required when she downloaded the app in 2013. A judge recently agreed with her according to media reports. The case is ongoing. It looks like Kemenosh may get the jury trial she desires.

Uber Rejects Responsibility for Passenger's Injuries

An Associated Press report indicates that ride-hailing service passenger Lokeshwaran Narayanasamy experienced a traumatic brain injury during an Uber ride from the airport. The driver hit a vehicle that had been abandoned on the road. In response to the 2017 lawsuit that Narayanasamy filed against Uber, the company said it wasn't responsible for his injuries because the driver is not employed by the ride-hailing service. 

In 2020, a federal judge ruled that a jury has to decide whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor. Narayanasamy's attorney is optimistic that a jury will classify the driver as an employee, which would mean the transportation service could be held accountable for Narayanasamy's injuries.

Passenger Sues Two Ride-Hailing Companies for Accident

The injuries that Sheila Hawkins received while taking Lyft to an appointment are similar to Jillian Kemenosh's injuries. Hawkins has brain and spinal injuries stemming from the highway crash. She alleges that her driver was distracted when he ran into a tractor-trailer because he had the Lyft app and the Uber app open to receive new rideshare requests. Hawkins contends these apps should be designed so that drivers cannot access them when their vehicles are traveling at high speeds. 

Los Angeles Uber Accident Lawyer

Have you been injured in an accident while you were traveling in a rideshare car? Did an Uber driver crash into your vehicle? We've helped hundreds of people in these situations. Contact us to have an experienced personal injury attorney help you navigate the complex process of getting everything you deserve. 

Sovereign Immunity in School Bus Accident Cases

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Like many parents, you put your child on the school bus each day and trust the driver to get them there safely. In most cases, your children will get to school just fine day after day. However, a child injured in a school bus accident can be just as jarring as it is unexpected. However, while a school bus may look like your usual auto accident, it is actually much more complex due to the potential for sovereign immunity that can bar you from recovering compensation for your child's injuries.

What is Sovereign Immunity?

The reason that a school bus accident is more complex than your standard auto accident is not because of the potential number of young victims, but rather because the school district is protected by sovereign immunity. Sovereign, or governmental immunity is what protects governmental entities from liability in civil issues. If your school district owns its buses, then as a school-owned entity, those buses are considered protected by this immunity in the case of accidents.

The good news is that sovereign immunity is often waived in school bus cases where the government employee – the bus driver – was responsible for the accident. Unfortunately, this is what makes the actual legal action more complex. If your child was hurt in a school bus accident, you must first notify the attorney general of your intent to sue. They will examine the accident and determine if they will waive sovereign immunity for it. If it is decided that the case can proceed, you are limited to filing an accident lawsuit against the school district within the next two years. The part that often limits the families of victims of a school bus accident is that you have only 72 hours after the accident to notify the government entity – the school district – of your intent to contact the attorney general.

Do All School Bus Actions Need Sovereign Immunity Waived?

If your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you might not need to worry about sovereign immunity. If you examine the accident report or talk to police officers that handled the accident, you will get a good idea of what caused it. If it was school bus driver negligence, then that is covered by sovereign immunity.

However, if a bus accident was caused by another auto driver, a malfunction of the bus that was due to the lack of maintenance or from the manufacturer, or unanticipated issues like icy roads – these are not covered by sovereign immunity. In these circumstances, you can pursue the case as you would any other personal injury case. If the accident was caused by another auto driver's negligence, they are liable. If the bus malfunctioned from faulty parts, you can pursue legal action against the manufacturer of the bus, the manufacturer of a specific failed part, or those responsible for maintenance. Unfortunately, if unexpected weather caused the accident, there isn't much you can do unless you discover negligence in preventing it.

Need Help?

Has your child been in a school bus accident? You will likely be highly focused on making sure they are okay after such a traumatic and serious event, but you will also want to make sure you are taken care of financially. While school buses are designed to be safe, if a child has been seriously hurt, their recovery can cost quite a bit – and you shouldn't be left paying for it. Contact us today to see what we can do to help you. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you examine your case to determine liability in order to get you the compensation that your accident deserves.

Can You Seek Punitive Damages After a Trucking Accident?

Friday, May 08, 2020

If you have been in an accident with a truck, it was likely a major accident. As trucks are often of a significant size and with a lot of power behind them, few regular drivers come out unscathed from such an accident. If you have had to endure this accident, you will be entitled to compensatory damages. This monetary amount is meant to make you whole, as if the accident has never happened. This means your medical bills and auto damages will be covered so you aren't left paying any bills. However, in certain circumstances, you may have another form of compensation available to you – punitive damages.

Punitive damages are much like how they sound – they are compensation meant to punish the wrongdoing party for their negligence. However, your entitlement to punitive damages is not guaranteed after a trucking accident. As the saying goes, accidents happen. When it is indeed a true accident, the courts find no reason to punish either party. However, if the accident was caused maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly through the actions of the truck driver or company, this opens up the option for punitive compensation.

When Can You Receive Punitive Damages From a Truck Accident?

In many circumstances, a truck accident is just a more dramatic auto accident. However, if you discovered there was various other factors at play in the accident, you could seek punitive compensation. Solid examples of truck accidents open to punitive damages include:

  • Drunk Driving – If the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were not only acting illegally, but recklessly. As the acceptable BAC level for CDL drivers is even lower than the standard .08 percent, any drinking is likely to build a strong case for reckless driving.
  • Destroying Evidence – The issue with seeking punitive damages is that you will need to provide evidence that there was malicious, fraudulent, intentional, or reckless action. This can be difficult when a trucking company is circling the wagons to protect themselves. If the truck in the accident just happened to be missing its black box or various maintenance records are missing, there is some fraud going on.
  • Regulation Violations – This can be the most difficult circumstance for punitive damages to prove. In this situation, you would need to prove that a company forewent various regulations on purpose and not just on accident. If there is a long record of non-regular maintenance, for example, this can help. However, one missed maintenance appointment can be a weak case.
  • Employment of Unsafe Drivers – It is a company's responsibility to do background checks on their drivers to ensure proper driving history and one without any red flags for substance abuse. If a trucking company employed a driver with a long history of DUIs, this was just asking for an accident to happen. They failed to do their due diligence when hiring a driver when, if they had, the accident may have been prevented.

If your accident with a truck falls into these circumstances or others that are equally as fishy, your compensation options are not only limited to medical bills and auto damages, but can include damages that serve to punish the company as well. However, it will require gathering the proper evidence of wrongdoing first, something that can be quite difficult to do if you are trying to navigate these legal waters on your own.

 If you have been in a truck accident and want to see what your options for compensation are, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is dedicated to helping you become whole after serious and traumatic accidents.



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