Distracted driving is no “accident”

Fascinating NYT article on how we talk about distracted driving.  Words have meaning.  The word “accident” implies no one is responsible.  “Accidents happen,” as the saying goes.  Most car crashes are not accidents.  They are caused by driver action, inaction, or distraction. Let’s call a spade a spade.  #crashnotaccident

Female driver with mobile phone. Focus on hand holding phone

She did not pick up the phone and decide to text by accident.

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100% natural cancer

“Natural” foods and products seem to be all the rage these days.  Buzzwords like “organic,” “free range,” and “gluten free” convey a sense of health and superiority to other products.  But not all natural products are good for you.

Talcum powder on black background

This is not the powder you’re looking for.

Talc in talcum powder is a naturally-occurring mineral, similar in composition to asbestos. Research suggests, however, that talc may be linked to ovarian cancer.  Two recent cases against Johnson & Johnson in St. Louis found that they knew about the risk of ovarian cancer and never disclosed it.

What does this mean to you:

Interestingly, talcum powder is not regulated by the FDA, as other products are, but the makers should still warn about its potential dangers.  I guess talc is not considered a drug.  Or, you know, a food.  What I’m saying is, don’t eat talcum powder.

Knowing when to leave is half the battle

We all know the type: the person at the party who cannot bring themselves to leave. Whether they just like the sound of their own voice or fear of facing what is at home is just too much, knowing when your time is up is critical.  (Watch this segue.)  And the same goes for IVC filters.

Oh geez.  Its time to go.

Oh geez. Its time to go.

After surgery, the risk of blood clots forming goes up.  If one of those clots makes it into the lungs, it can be bad.  Like, pulmonary embolism-bad.  So, surgeons can place a metal cage or filter in a vein, called the inferior vena cava, to trap blood clots to prevent them from reaching the lungs.  

The problem is that, if these IVC filters are left in too long, they tend to not stay in place. That is, they can move or tilt, causing perforation or tearing of the vein.

These filters have several metal spines, and in a pinch, can also be used to catch bass and stripers.  (This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.)  What has been stated by the FDA is that leaving an IVC filter in too long can be dangerous.

What does this mean to you:

It can sometimes be as important to know when to stop using a particular medical device as it can be to know when to start.

Sooner or later, they’re going to get one right

When I was growing up, Dad always had workshop.  One of the mantra’s I heard him repeat (and find myself repeating to my kids) is “measure twice, cut once.”  That is, make sure the part fits before you make it permanent.  The parents of the good people of Zimmer apparently never imparted such wisdom to their kids.

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Zimmer has now had to recall a part of its Persona artificial knee implant, specifically, the Persona porous coated, uncemented trabecular metal tibial plate.  Say that three times fast.  It seems that Zimmer began selling its knee implant without doing any clinical trials first.  This is the same problem Stryker had with its hip implants recently.

Zimmer Persona knee components can become loose, causing swelling and pain, and develop radiolucent lines – large gaps between the parts of the implant and the bones – which can damage both the bones (called osteolysis) and the device itself.

What does this mean to you:

A couple of rhetorical questions come to mind.  Shouldn’t companies that make products, especially ones that get implanted inside your body, have to test them first?  And how does one actually recall a device AFTER its been implanted?

The hidden cost of tort deform

General Motors knew that its ignition switches were faulty but allowed people to continue to drive Chevy Cobalts and other cars for years.  To date, 49 of those people have died in crashed related to the defective switches, and many more suffered horrific injuries.

burningcar

However, many families of these innocent victims have not been able to obtain justice.  Many states, including Ohio, place a limit on the amount of compensation injury victims and their families can get under the guise of “tort reform.”  As pointed out in this recent New York Times piece, it simply becomes too expensive to bring a case, in light of what the law allows to be recovered.  Said another way, by the time experts are hired to prove the case, the value of the injuries and suffering is not enough to obtain a successful result.

In fact, Ohio even takes the added step of cutting off the right to bring a case after the product is 10 years old.  This “statute of repose” applies even if it is defective and dangerous and even if the manufacturer knew of the problem.

What does this mean to you:  

No one would dispute that frivoulous lawsuits have no place in our legal system. The dispute is, what constitutes “frivolous” and who gets to decide?  Politicians or a jury of your peers?

Shhh! We’d like to keep our fraud secret!

So, Über and Lyft want to keep their insurance policies secret, which raises a lot of questions in my mind.  Like, what are they hiding?  And specifically, what is covered by the policy?  Is it only the driver, or are the passengers covered too?  Seems like we should be allowed to know the answers.

secret

 

Interestingly, the companies are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – insurance that protects you when you are not at fault.  But, there is no requirement that the rest of us buy uninsured motorists coverage, and there is no requirement that your agent offer or even explain it to you.   Its important enough to require it for those services, but not for everyone else.  Hmmm.

What does this mean to you:

Go now and find out how much uninsured motorists coverage you carry on your insurance policy.  We will wait for you here.  Yes, its that important.  Go on.

Do you have uninsured motorists coverage in your auto policy?  Do you also have it in your umbrella policy?  What are the limits?  Considering that almost 15% of drivers carry no insurance and many more do not carry enough insurance, do you have high enough limits?

 

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

When I was growing up, my grandfather was a smoker.  As entertainment for the grandkids when we’d go to visit, grandpa Harris would stand up on a chair, hold his lit cigarette up to the smoke detector, and set off the alarm.  Now that’s fun.

smoke detectorBut its only fun as long as the smoke detector works.   It was revealed this week that as many as 150,000 smoke detectors made by ESL and Interlogix have been recalled.  According to the Consumer Product Safety commission, radio interference can cause the detectors to fail.  Most were installed commercially in schools, apartments, hotels, and dorms. 

What does this mean to you:

Call your security or fire system company to see if you have one of the recalled units.  If you do, you can find out more by calling Edwards/ESL at (800) 655-4497 or Interlogix at (855) 286-8889.

Maria’s Message

For those who don’t know, Dom Tiberi is a Central Ohio sportscaster who lost his daughter, Maria, last year due to distracted driving.

Maria's Message

He and his wife have been on a tireless campaign to raise awareness of the dangers distracted driving poses to any one of us on the roads.  The Central Ohio Association for Justice was proud to present the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Award to Dom on behalf of Maria’s Message.

And in other news, people no longer buying Ford Pintos

Change is hard.  I get it.  The people in the horse and buggy business probably didn’t like to see the advent of the automobile.  But as technology changes, especially in the the area of safety improvements, business must change and adapt along with it.

secret handshake

It is disappointing, then, but perhaps not surprising, to learn that many manufactures of table saws, such as Bosch, Black & Decker, Makita, and Ryobi, have been conspiring to thwart new safety rules to require automatic blade stop technology, called Saw Stop, in their saws.  And this is no small issue.  67,000 U.S. workers and do-it-your-selfers suffer blade contact injuries every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What does this mean to you:

Its one thing if they don’t want to adopt the safer technology, but its quite another to actively try to stop safer technology from being adopted as the standard.

Shop around before making a major tool purchase.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

What kind of action do you have?

Not all cases involving hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs are class actions.  Class cases make the most sense where the wrongful conduct applies the same to everyone affected.  Think of a corporation that misrepresents its financial condition.  All shareholders suffer the exact same loss in share value.

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But what about when the wrongful conduct affects lots of people, but each in their own individual way?  Those cases are called mutli-district litigation, or MDL for short.  MDL’s are common with defective medical devices, where the defect is the same in every case, but the way it affects each person is unique to their circumstances.

The defective Stryker hip implants is an example of a current MDL.  For every implant, the metal in the hip joint begins to fret, or corrode, causing pain and swelling in the hip joint.  Some affected patients may have to have a revision surgery, some won’t, while some may require multiple surgeries.

What does this mean to you:

Class actions get a bad name, perhaps not without merit, for automatically including people without their knowledge.  MDL’s on the other hand, require the plaintiff to actively pursue a claim for their harms and losses.