Southern Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Legislators in Indiana and Kentucky have enacted laws mandating medical review panels in cases where individuals allege they have been harmed by a healthcare provider’s negligence, commonly known as medical malpractice.  Under legal challenge, Indiana found the legislation constitutional, whereas Kentucky did not.

Long ago, prior to enacting this legislation, Indiana’s and Kentucky’s founders provided as part of their Constitutions that their courts should be “open” and justice administered freely and “without delay.”

Article I, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution provides:

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The Indiana Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in Biedron v. Anonymous Physician 1 addressing the applicable statute of limitations in medical malpractice lawsuits in Indiana.

Biedron involved three related medical malpractice claims, which were consolidated for the purposes of the appeal. Proposed complaints for medical malpractice were filed by the plaintiffs with the Indiana Department of Insurance more than two (2) years after the alleged malpractice occurred in each of the cases. The plaintiffs in each of the cases argued that the 2-year occurrence-based statute of limitations, as set forth in the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, should be tolled under the doctrine of fraudulent concealment. With differing trial court orders on the defendant healthcare providers’ motions for summary judgment on the statute of limitations issue, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding in favor of the Indiana healthcare providers.

Under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, a medical malpractice claim, whether in contract or tort, may not be brought against a healthcare provider based upon professional services or healthcare that was provided, or that should have been provided, unless the claim is filed within two (2) yeas after the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, except that a minor less than six (6) years of age has until the minor’s eighth birthday to file. Ind. Code § 34-18-7-1.

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Our lawyers are currently investigating the FDA’s recall of Valsartan in an effort to determine whether a sufficient medico-legal basis will exist to file Valsartan lawsuits for those impacted.  At this point, it is difficult to ascertain whether those who have taken Valsartan products contaminated with NDMA may have been adversely affected by taking the contaminated drug.  The viability of such claims will depend in large part on how long the medication was taken, from whom the medication was sourced, who manufactured the medication, what dose of the medication was taken, and the amount of contaminant contained in the medication.  A Valsartan lawsuit attorney can investigate the facts necessary to form a basis for possible Valsartan litigation.  First and foremost, though, is the need for those taking a contaminated Valsartan medication to consult their physician to determine if they have been taking a contaminated Valsartan product to determine whether a different medication may be indicated.  According to the FDA, Valsartan users should not stop taking the medication until completing a physician consultation.

The biggest concern for Valsartan users appears to be an elevated risk of cancer, although other concerns are possible organ damage or tumors.  Nonetheless, and importantly, at this time, the FDA is warning those taking Valsartan do not stop taking the medication unless and until you have consulted with your prescribing physician.  It is also important to note that not all Valsartan medication was contaminated with NDMA. The FDA has published a list of the recalled and non-recalled medications, which can be found here.  Valsartan lawsuit lawyers will continue to monitor the information being developed by the FDA and companies participating in Valsartan recalls.

According to the FDA, taking the highest Valsartan does (320 mg) from the recalled batches daily for the full four years may increase the risk of cancer to the point one additional case of cancer occurs in the lifetimes of a hypothetical group of 8000 such Valsartan takers.  This may seem like a relatively insignificant risk compared to the risks of developing cancer published by the American Cancer Society.  However, this is additional risk and one additional case of this terrible disease is one too many and may very well warrant a Valsartan law firm to file a product liability or failure to warn lawsuit supported by admissible scientific and epidemiological evidence.

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There is a misconception among some that if a product is destroyed during a fire, that it will be too difficult to prove the product had a defect because no specific mechanism can be pinpointed as the cause and origin of the fire.  However, in spite of manufacturing defendants’ attempts to take advantage of a potential legal Catch-22, Indiana law allows a manufacturing defect in a product to be proven through circumstantial evidence and a process of elimination.  This was explained by a federal court applying Indiana law in Gaskin v. Sharp Electronics.

In Gaskin, the plaintiffs claimed that a 19-inch Sharp television caught fire in Ms. Gaskin’s elderly mother’s room, causing her death.  They alleged that Sharp was strictly liable for placing an unreasonably dangerous and defective product–the television–into the stream of commerce.  Sharp filed a motion for summary judgment claiming the plaintiffs were unable to show a defect in the television after their engineering expert was excluded by the court as unreliable.

The plaintiffs responded to the manufacturer’s motion with evidence from a fire investigator who noted that based on his burn pattern analysis and other evidence examined, the fire originated to the north of the television stand.  And, circuit wiring in the room was examined and eliminated as the cause of the fire.  Although a definitive cause could not be determined,  the investigator opined that the fire had burned upward and outward from the television stand.  He conceded he didn’t know the first thing about televisions, but the television was the only ignition source among many he examined that could not be eliminated.

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The Nursing Home Investigation and Selection Process
. Entrusting a loved one, such as a mother, father, sister or brother, to the care of a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions many of us will ever make. In spite of a long, thorough investigation into suitable nursing and rest homes and assisted living centers, it is often difficult to get a true feel for the environment when you leave a loved one in the care of strangers. Often times it is not possible to witness the actual care being given so it is important to notice the overall state of care such as cleanliness, the quality and temperature of food items, how medications are delivered, changes in personality of the loved one, and missing personal items. When you arrive at the facility are the staff actually engaged in helping residents or are they out on the front porch in groups smoking, texting and checking social media on their cell phones? Has the rest home, nursing or assisted living facility changed ownership or administration often? Have medical directors changed or are they rarely or never present?What have State nursing home survey inspection findings been for the home?

Keeping Tabs on Conditions and Care

While it is likely impossible to meet the ideal conditions we would like to see for a loved one, some nursing, rest and assisted living homes fall well short of meeting even the most minimum standard of care. Sometimes failure to ensure proper staffing levels means the routine care of a loved one suffers. Pay careful attention to your loved one’s mood changes. Do they seem anxious or concerned when they see particular staff? Are you seeing a lot of different faces and are those faces less friendly than when the stay began? Do you hear yelling or exasperation from staff as you walk by other rooms, administration or the nursing station? Does your loved one exhibit signs of dehydration such as dry eyes, flaky skin or chapped lips? When you arrive, do they have a full or empty drinking cup in their room and within their reach and are they eating or refusing to eat reminiscing about home-cooked meals? Are they losing weight or exhibiting skin changes? Do you notice flies or uncleaned restroom facilities? If they had bedsores or pressure ulcers upon admission, have these gotten better or worse? If they were continent when they started are they now incontinent? Or, if they were incontinent when they started at the facility and were on a scheduled toileting program, has the facility now suggested they are continent to avoid the burden of scheduled toileting? Has your loved one fallen from a wheelchair, bed or been found wandering outside the facility?

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Any kind of vehicle collision can spell disaster for innocent drivers and passengers traveling on the roadways. When the situation involves truck accidents, the results can be even more devastating for innocent victims due to the sheer size and force of tractor-trailer trucks traveling on Indiana highways. Despite the unpredictability of truck accidents, there are common reasons or situations that may make a truck accident more likely.

One reason a truck may lose control and wreck into an innocent victim in a car is that trucks sometimes have an unbalanced load. This can lead to swerving and tipping of a truck. Also, when an accident occurs and tipping over of a load results, that in itself can pose a hazard on the road and may endanger people who were not even involved in the original crash.

Another common reason a truck may crash is driver fatigue. While drivers are only supposed to drive for a certain number of hours, some may be tempted by incentives to go above that amount, putting others at risk. Equipment failure can also lead to truck accidents. This can include faulty brakes or improperly maintained tires.

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Losing a loved one, no matter what the circumstances, is typically devastating, and the emotional impact for a family may be immeasurable. For many Indiana families, the financial impact may also be crushing. When a loss is the result of the recklessness or carelessness of another party, a wrongful death lawsuit is generally seen as an appropriate way to pursue claims for relief concerning the financial damages incurred.

Wrongful death claims are a common result when a loved one is killed in a car accident that is blamed on the negligence of another person. Negligent nursing home care is another circumstance that often leads to a legal claim of wrongful death. Construction site accidents may also spawn a wrongful death suit.

These are not the only incidents that may lead to a wrongful death suit. When a fatal accident occurs on someone’s property, that property owner may face claims of negligence from a wrongful death situation. A slip and fall accident is one of the most common sources of injuries, and unfortunately, wrongful death on someone’s property. Hazardous toys or medicines negligently left out can also lead to situations where a visiting family or child is put at risk and loss of life occurs.

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A collision between any two vehicles on a busy roadway can obviously lead to injuries or worse. When those car accidents involve motorcycles, the drivers and passengers on those motorcycles can be at a greater risk for serious injury or death. A recent collision between a car and a motorcycle on an Indiana roadway led to the death of the motorcyclist and injuries for his passenger.

The accident occurred just after noon on a Sunday. A 44-year-old man and his 32-year-old passenger were hit by a Pontiac. According to reports, the Pontiac driver was about to make a left turn onto another road. Then, that driver apparently pulled back into traffic upon realizing it was the wrong road; this lead to the collision.

The 44-year-old motorcyclist died at the scene of the accident. The passenger was transported to a medical facility by helicopter. The driver who hit the motorcycle suffered cuts on his hands and needed medical treatment also.

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The risk of being injured does not necessarily go away after a crash is over. The individuals called to the scene following an incident are placed at risk as they tend to the scene as well. These individuals not only include first responders but tow truck operators as well. The recent death of a tow truck driver on an Indiana road highlights this.

When he died the 59-year-old man was working underneath a bus. As he did so, it rolled down, crushing him.

The owner of the towing company he worked for said that the general public does not understand how dangerous the job is. According to her, compared to policemen, the rate of tow truck drivers being hurt or killed while working is higher.

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Safely navigating traffic takes attentiveness and maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles. When traffic is held up or slow and oncoming drivers do not slow down for that traffic in a timely manner, deadly car accidents are an all too common result. A recent crash on an Indiana Interstate left one child dead and her mom and a baby sibling seriously injured.

Around 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, the driver of a pickup truck did not slow down for the traffic on Interstate 70. It struck a car with a 29-year-old mother and her two children inside. Tragically, the crash killed the 3-year-old toddler.

The mother and her surviving 1-year-old baby were airlifted to an area hospital. They were reported to be in critical condition. In all, the crash involved four vehicles, but there was no word as to any other injuries or if the driver who appears to have caused the crash would be cited or charged.

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