Practice Areas

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Practice Areas

Barsumian Law LLC handles cases in the following areas of law:

Below each of the above areas we share with you some of the publicly available statistics for these types of injuries. Please click on your area of interest to learn more about the type of cases we handle.

Personal Injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites statistics from a survey of Emergency Departments in 2013 to provide an idea of the type of personal injuries that occur most often. Of the 39,378 injuries surveyed, it was determined that 71.4% or 28,114 were accidents. Of these accidents, falls were the leading cause of injury at 25.3%. Motor vehicle crashes were the second leading cause of injury at 9.5%. Being struck by an object or other person came next at 8.8%. Being cut or pierced by an object such as a knife or stick was 4.5%, while simple overexertion or strenuous movements was 8.8%. Non-traffic pedal cycling was 1.1%.

Construction Accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) provides a variety of construction accident statistics on its website. In 2015, for example, 4,836 workers were killed on the job. This equates to 93 persons a week or more than 13 deaths per day. As such, it is no wonder that OSHA has a substantial budget to inspect places of work for safe practices. Of the aforementioned deaths, 21.4% or roughly one in every five worker deaths were in the construction industry. The “Fatal Four” deaths were falling, being struck by an object, being electrocuted, or being caught between objects, crushed in a collapsing structure, equipment, or material. These four categories accounted for 64.2% of all construction worker deaths in 2015.

OSHA’s most commonly cited safety standards in fiscal 2016 were fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, controlling hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), industrial trucks, ladders, machinery and machine guarding, electrical wiring and equipment, and electrical systems design. OSHA notes that eliminating the fatal four categories of death would save 602 workers’ lives in America every year.

Medical Malpractice

The Indiana State Department of Health was ordered by then-Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to develop and implement a medical error reporting system. The purpose was to obtain data that could be used towards reducing the frequency of medical errors, revealing the causes of medical errors, and empowering healthcare professionals to design methods to prevent or discover errors before patient harm.

Since 2006, the average number of reportable events per year has been 103.9 events. The most reported event in 2015 was stage 3 or 4 bed sores also known as pressure ulcers acquired post admission, followed by retained foreign objects in patients after surgery, wrong body part surgery and, finally, death or serious disability associated with falls. These incidents have been the leading medical errors for all but two years of medical error reporting. Several reasons for medical errors were cited in the most recent report such as:

  • System failures caused by inconsistent care practices between physicians, nurses or other healthcare providers, which lead to mistakes;
  • The increase in the number of health professionals providing care to a single patient brought about by larger, decentralized, and fragmented hospitals and health care facilities;
  • Difficulties accessing patient information;
  • Illegible handwriting or erroneous data entry;
  • Misperceived medical acronyms and abbreviations;
  • Failure to document patient conditions or other critical data;
  • Service levels of the healthcare facility compared to the number of patients admitted or under care; and
  • Interestingly, health care provider competition, which “result[s] in the lack of development of communication systems” between hospitals and healthcare providers

Of course, Indiana’s efforts to track medical errors are dependent upon those errors being reported. A significant Medicare study showed most medical errors likely go unreported. In a 2012 article in The Hospitalist, it is noted that “6 out of every 7 hospital-based errors, accidents, and other adverse events still go unreported.” Doing the math, this would mean that Indiana’s approximate 104 medical error events per year is realistically more like 624. The article notes that “physicians are more likely to report events that caused permanent harm or the death or near-death of a patient, but overall, they report only 1% of adverse events. Nurses, on the other hand, are more likely to report events that cause no harm or harm that’s only temporary, and report about 45% of events.” Some of the most often-cited events are drug-induced hospitalizations from common drugs such as blood thinners, insulin, and some diabetes pills.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) compiles information and resources about adverse events in nursing homes. In 2014, the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) reported that one in three nursing home residents were injured by an adverse or temporary harm event within the first 35 days of their stay. According to the OIG’s findings, these events were preventable in sixty percent of the cases. CMS notes that adverse drug events among anticoagulants, diabetes agents, and opioids are particularly prevalent. For example, over a three-year period, at least 165 nursing home residents were hospitalized or died after prescription, dosing or monitoring errors involving coumadin or its generic version, warfarin. Thirty-seven percent of all adverse events identified by the OIG report were related to medication. In our own experience, the failure to keep residents adequately hydrated and to timely diagnose and treat urinary tract infections are also common. Moreover, when combined with a patient who has compromised kidney function, administration of certain antibiotics can be contraindicated and lead to renal failure to dialysis.

Product Liability

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) tracks reports from a number of product-related injuries. Not all such injuries relate to an unreasonably dangerous product, product defect, inadequate warning, or faulty instructions. However, when such is the case, a civil remedy may exist under a theory of recovery known as product liability. The following are just a small sampling of those statistics that can be found on the CPSC’s website in the form of a variety of reports.

For the ten-year period between 2003-2013, an estimated 113,272 emergency room visits were for treatment related to inflatable amusement products. More than 90 percent of these estimated injuries were related to “moon bounces.” Most of these injuries were in the 4 to 15 years of age group. Most of the injuries were to limbs and 12 deaths were reported.

Although reported less frequently, two basic type of amusement-park rides—mobile and fixed-site—have been investigated by the CPSC. Through 2000, there was an estimated average of 4.5 fatalities each year. Most injuries occurred to children 10-14 years of age during this period and more females were injured than males.

ATV injuries account for a significant number of injuries. Between 1982 and 2015 there were 14,129 ATV-related fatalities with 3,163 of those fatalities occurring in children younger than 16 years of age or 22 percent of the total of reported ATV-related fatalities, a striking statistic. ATV injuries resulting in emergency room visits in recent years have approached 100,000 per year, though the majority of these are treated and released.

From 2011 to 2013, annual non-fire related deaths associated with consumer products generating carbon monoxide averaged out to 148. Engine-driven tools were associated with the highest percentage of carbon monoxide poisoning fatalities at forty-six percent, followed by heating-systems-related carbon monoxide fatalities at thirty-percent. Most of these deaths over the years have involved generators. Heating system fatalities have been identified from LP or propane gas heaters, unspecified gas heating, oil-burning heaters and wood-burning heaters. Of course, most carbon monoxide deaths occurred in colder months as the need for in-home heating increased. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often confused with common illnesses, such as cold and influenza. In addition to deaths, after severe poisonings, irreversible neurological effects may result. Poor maintenance in terms of inadequate ventilation or exhaust pathways may lead to potentially lethal amounts of carbon monoxide without fumes that would otherwise cause irritation and forewarning of the potentially deadly effects. Consumer products such as portable heaters, furnaces, room heaters, space heaters, charcoal grills, water heaters, and camp stoves were cited as occasional sources of the deadly gas.

From 2007 through 2008, there was an estimated average of 70 consumer-product related fatal electrocutions per year. Products associated with fatal electrocutions between 2002 and 2009 have included antenna, boat lifts, electric fence, extension cords, hand tools, holiday lighting, household wiring, ladders, appliances, lawn and garden equipment, pools, hot tubs, and whirlpools.

From 2012 to 2014, there were an estimated average of 2,220 fire deaths. Cooking equipment was cited as the source of the largest percentage of fires with an average of 156,900 such fires annually. The total number of deaths attributed to cooking equipment fires on an annual basis was 180, or 7.9 percent. Many of the losses were associated with range and oven fires. A fire suppression or sprinkler system that fails to function properly or is not installed properly may contribute to injuries, death or loss of property in a fire scenario. Following cooking equipment in the total number of residential fires is heating and cooling equipment. However, more deaths, at 9.3 percent, resulted from fires induced by such equipment. Other fire sources included microwave ovens, audio/visual or AV equipment, clothes dryers, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators and freezers. More recent product-based fire sources that have made the news have included e-cigarettes, laptop batteries, cell phone batteries, phone charges, golf-cart batteries, and hoverboards. Oftentimes, a fire can be linked to a product during a cause and origin investigation by the discovery of a v-pattern coming from the base of a product, such as a refrigerator. Indiana and many other states recognize that although a product may be destroyed in a fire making a defect analysis impossible, through the use of circumstantial evidence ruling out other causes, enough evidence may exist to allow a jury to find the product was unreasonably dangerous and defective causing the fire.

In winter months, electric space heaters are often discovered to be the source of ignition whether through placement too close to combustibles or through a defect in the heater itself. The National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”) estimated that between 2006 and 2010, approximately twenty-seven percent of fires in space heaters were caused by heaters that were placed too close to combustibles. With this significant a finding, the CPSC has been studying the use of proximity detector circuits for portable electric radiant heaters. Such a circuit could detect combustible objects, thereby resulting in a significant reduction in deaths, injuries and property loss. One heater available to consumers incorporates a proximity detector using IR-emitting diodes to sense objects, as well as a semiconductor sensor to detect them. Thermopiles have also been studied to detect objects using the heater’s own IR radiation. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach. However, the end goal is the same, which is to reduce the number of fires and deaths of a known risk, just as an airbag in a vehicle reduces the number and severity of injuries and death in vehicles that are at a known risk of impact with other vehicles, semis and objects.

Fireworks are a controversial product in that they carry significant risks to users, although many are marked as being safe enough for children, like sparklers. However, even sparklers, when manufactured in a certain manner, may pose a risk to the individual lighting them or the intended user. In 2015 Yo-Yo sparklers injured a number of persons trying to safely light them, burning ferociously and causing second and third degree burns. In 2016, reloadable aerial devices and shells caused fatalities. On average, there were 7.1 firework-related deaths between 2001 and 2016. In 2017, an Indiana resident died in Henderson, Kentucky when he was struck by a firework that went off prematurely, striking him in the chest and causing death by blunt force trauma. Typically aerial shells have long fuses, allowing the user to move away from the scene with time to spare, but it is possible for a shortened fuse or influx of sparks to result in a shorter escape time.

Unfortunately, common recreational products such as pools and spas may pose an unexpected risk of drowning through circulation or suction entrapment of hair, swimsuits or body parts, especially in infants and children. Between 2012 and 2016, 17 persons were victims of circulation entrapment with 2 fatalities. Although many advances have been made to keep circulation and entrapment drownings from occurring, they still occur and one is too many.

Although most everyone understands the danger of gas cans, children do not always appreciate the risk. Much progress has been made to anticipate this known risk through the children’s gasoline burn prevention act of 2008. Although frustrating to consumers, flame arrestors are a powerful flame and burn mitigation device that can prevent or minimize the risk of explosion and serious burns.

Power tools are becoming more and more consumer friendly and powerful. Like other products, many advances have been made in guarding against the known risks of severe cuts and amputation. Proper guards are incorporated on many tools, but sometimes the preventative measures may not go far enough, allowing a user to suffer severe and life altering wounds or amputation.

With the advent of lightweight flat televisions that can be moved by children, tip-over injuries and fatalities have been on the rise. Such incidents can also happen with household furniture, as children inevitably climb. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 43,400 emergency room visits together with 293 fatalities. The majority involved children under the age of 18. Forty-four percent of falling items were televisions with or without furniture, fifty-two percent of falling items were furniture only, and four percent of injuries were caused by appliances falling. The majority of fatalities involved televisions, followed by chests, bureaus and dressers together accounting for thirty-one percent of fatalities. Appliances cause nine percent of the fatalities caused by household furnishings falling. Industry groups and trade associations have worked on improving the number of tip-over incidents in recent years, but too often not enough thought goes into the end-product’s intended use and placement, creating an increased risk of injury.

Sadly, the last product liability category we explore relate to injuries and deaths among children younger than five. The data is staggering. Between 2013 and 2015, estimated emergency room visits for injuries and deaths among children younger than age five associated with nursery products averaged 70,000. Cribs and mattresses out-paced all nursery products in 2015 with 12,100 incidents. Infant carriers, excluding automobile incidents, accounted for 9,500 of these incidents. Strollers or baby carriages accounted for 11,000 incidents of injury or death. The other most significant contributor was high chairs with 11,100 incidents. Other nursery products associated with injuries and deaths among children younger than five included changing tables, baby bouncer seats, baby walkers, baby jumpers, baby exercisers, playpens, baby gates, and portable baby swings.

The majority of crib and mattress fatalities were associated with a cluttered sleep environment. However, other causes appear to be related to the design of the product itself, including wedging entrapments between cushions and the crib frame. Unfortunately, too often the controllable placement of cords, strings or plastic bags in proximity to the crib can be the cause of fatalities. Although many of the fatalities were not caused by the product’s failure, nursery product recalls are one of the most common seen on the CPSC’s website.

Slip and Fall

The National Floor Safety Institute (“NFSI”) provides some useful statistics relating to slips, trips, and falls. The NFSI even recognizes slip, trip and fall incidents could be intertwined with product liability by encouraging the injured to report the details of their incident to the CPSC. Reportedly, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency department visits, which is the leading cause of visits at over twenty-one percent. Of these falls, slip and falls represent twelve percent of the total falls, or roughly one million visits. Fractures occur in five percent of all people who fall. A significant number of slip and fall victims lose days from work, resulting in lost wages and commissions. The CPSC reports that floors and flooring materials directly cause or contribute to over 2 million fall injuries each year. Hip fractures, especially among the elderly, are caused by falls. In 2005, the CDC reported that 15,000 people over the age of 65 died as a result of a fall. For persons over 85 years of age, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death. Significantly, twenty-two percent of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fatal falls occur most often in the workplace during construction, mining and maintenance activities. And, in the trucking industry, slips and falls are cited as the leading cause of compensable injury.

Wrongful Death

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites statistics relating to accidental deaths in the United States. This data from the National Vital Statistics Reports is available on the CDC’s homepage. In 2014, there were 199,756 injury-related deaths. According to the NVSR, “[f]our major mechanisms of injury in 2014—poisoning, motor-vehicle traffic, firearm, and fall—accounted for 73.6% of all injury deaths.” Accidental deaths were the fourth leading cause of death in 2014.

According to the NVSR, in 2014, there were 33,018 deaths from unintentional falls or 16.5% of all injury deaths. The vast majority of these fall-related deaths—96.8%--were unintentional. Poisoning caused 51.966 deaths or 26% of all injury deaths. The majority of poisoning deaths were unintentional at 80.9%. On the other hand, motor-vehicle traffic was responsible for 33,736 deaths, which equates to 16.9% of all injury deaths. Firearms—another leading cause of injury deaths—accounted for 33,594 deaths. However, of these deaths, only 3.5% were unintentional. The majority of deaths from firearm were suicide at 63.7% and homicide at 32.8%.

Of the 199,752 injury deaths reported, 135,928 were determined to be accidental. Mechanism of injury for accidental deaths other than those stated above were drownings (1.1%), fires (.9%), machinery (.2%), and suffocation (2.1%).

Motor Vehicle Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reported traffic safety facts for Indiana in 2015. In 2015, Indiana had 821 motor vehicle related fatalities. Of these fatalities, 576 were occupants of passenger vehicles. Of these occupants in a passenger vehicle that were killed, 279 persons were restrained, 221 were unrestrained and the remaining 76 occupants killed were unknown. Speed was a factor in 232 of motor vehicle fatalities. Alcohol-impaired driving was cited as a factor in 178 deaths. The top counties per 100,000 population for fatalities include the southwestern Indiana counties of Pike at No. 3 (47.64), Gibson at No. 6 (41.45) and Spencer at No. 7 (38.62).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reported traffic safety facts for Kentucky in 2015. In 2015, Kentucky had 761 motor vehicle related fatalities. Of these fatalities, 558 were occupants of passenger vehicles. Of these occupants in a passenger vehicle that were killed, 249 persons were restrained, 308 were unrestrained and the remaining 1 occupant killed was unknown. Speed was a factor in 140 of motor vehicle fatalities. Alcohol-impaired driving was cited as a factor in 192 deaths. The western Kentucky counties of Daviess (88%) and McCracken (275%) saw a significant increase in the percentage of fatalities when compared to 2014.

Motorcycle Accidents

According to the NHTSA, in Indiana for the year 2015, Motorcyclists sustained fatal injuries in 108 fatal events and, of these, only 17 motorcyclists killed were known to have been wearing helmets. In Kentucky for the year 2015, Motorcyclists sustained fatal injuries in 91 fatal events and, of these, only 30 motorcyclists killed were known to have been wearing helmets.

Pedestrian Accidents

The NHTSA reported that 96 pedestrians were killed in motor-vehicle related accidents in Indiana in 2015. In Kentucky during the same time period, 67 pedestrians were killed in motor-vehicle related accidents.

Bicycle Accidents

The NHTSA reported that 12 bicyclists were killed in motor-vehicle related accidents in Indiana in 2015. In Kentucky during the same time period, 7 bicyclists were killed in motor-vehicle related accidents.

Truck Accidents

The NHTSA reported that a large truck or semi was involved in 117 of the traffic fatalities in Indiana in 2015. In Kentucky for the same time period, 81 fatalities involved a large truck or semi.