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.

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.

Take a moment and repose yourself

Most people are familiar with a statute of limitations, a law that gives you a certain amount of time to bring a claim starting from the date of the injury.  That makes sense, since you know when you are injured.  A “statute of repose,” on the other hand, is a limitation on the amount of time starting from the date a product is made, whether you have been injured yet or not.

Seeking enlightenment

What makes these laws – such as Ohio’s law – particularly vicious is that they can cut off the ability to file a claim BEFORE THE INJURY HAS EVEN HAPPENED.  One a product had been made – whether that’s a medical device like a hip implant, a smoke detector, or a baby’s high chair – after 10 years, no claims can be made against the manufacturer.

What does this mean to you?

Not surprisingly, Ohio’s statute of repose has been described as “a victory for manufacturers.”  If manufacturers won, who lost?  And by the way, how does this make products safer?

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.

Testing, schmesting.

You would think that medical devices  implanted inside your body would be some of the most highly-tested products in the world.  Not so, though, for hip implants made by the Stryker company, who began selling its hips without going through clinical trials first.

science experiment

Stryker claimed its hips were similar to DePuy’s metal on metal hips that were already for sale.  The fault in this logic, if you can call it that, is that DePuy’s hip implants are the ones having problems with fretting and corrosion of the metal, which causes pain and swelling.  This defect may even lead to metalosis – metal toxicity in the blood stream caused by metal ions and shavings from the implant itself.  This, despite the fact that the industry has known for some time that as much as 40% of metal-on-metal hip implants would fail.

Stryker has since recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants.  DePuy has since settled many of the claims against it for $2.5 billion.

What does this mean to you:

Someone with a recalled hip implant probably does not know the make or model they have.  If an implant patient continues to have, or suddenly develops, pain or swelling around their hip implant, they should check with their surgeon right away.