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.

The real stuff is bad enough

Ohio has seen more than its fair share of tort deform laws over the last decade.  These laws have the affect of making it harder for folks who get hurt, through no fault of their own, to be made whole again.

 

 

Man with a broken leg  walking on crutches

As if reality wasn’t bad enough, I saw this post on The Pop Tort about fictitious laws on TV shows written in to scripts to limit fictitious rights of the characters.  Art imitating life indeed.

What does this mean to you:

Know that insurance companies and corporations have lobbyists.  Most of us don’t.  When laws get passed, guess which one they favor?

 

 

The Phantom (Driver) Menace

There seem to be a rash of “hit-skip” incidents going around, like this one just this weekend in Victorian Village.  Luckily, this guy was caught.  But what if they never find the at-fault driver?

Car-smoke

In Ohio, this situation is called a “phantom driver.”  Most insurance policies require there to be some other evidence that a crash happened, other than just the injured person’s word.

What does this mean to you:

If you are hit by another car who takes off, you will either need another person who witnessed the wreck to back you up.  Either that, or show some damage to your vehicle to prove there actually was a wreck.  Believe it or not, sometimes insurance companies don’t believe you!

 

It’s the most dangerous time of the year – sing it with me!

The opportunity for household fires seems to increase around the holidays, whether it be candles, electric lights in the tree, or even the yule log.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has posted a handy 12 point safety checklist to address some of these risks.

broken ornament

What does this mean to you:

The frivolity (read: alcohol) of the holidays can easily lead us to lower our guard.  Take two seconds and look at the above list so you are at least aware of the potential issues.  And as always, be safe, use common sense, and have a great holiday.

Tis the season

I saw this list recently – the top 10 most dangerous toys of all time.  Some of the toys on the list are downright jaw-droppingly dangerous and would make Irving Mainway proud.  Take, for example, the CSI fingerprint kit made with asbestos dust, made as recently as 2007(!)  Others, like the Hannah Montana card game laced with lead, are not as obvious.

child gun

What does this mean to you:

Always fill out and return the warranty cards that come with children’s products so you know when a recall happens and you can be up to date with the most current information.

 

Injured workers in Ohio dealt a legal blow

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that if an employer removes a safety device, like guard on a press, and someone is injured while working there, like losing losing their fingers or hand, they cannot hold their boss responsible for their injuries unless they PROVE that their boss meant to hurt them.

Yellow hardhat

The idea in someone’s head and what they were intending to do is an extremely difficult, if not impossible, thing to prove.  Today’s ruling is an unfortunate extension of an earlier decision from the Court.

What does this mean to you:

Someone injured or killed on the job is not always left out in the cold. If a person or company other than your employer was at fault – such as a sub-contractor doing work at an industrial job site or construction site, the manufacturer of a defective product, or any other third party – they may be entitled to make a claim, even though the injury happened while on the job.  A major part of any case brought by a lawyer or law firm is investigating all potentially-liable parties.  Workers comp may also be available, but by no means makes the person whole.

 

Add one more to the list

When we think of things that are dangerous to children, generally things like strollers or cribs come to mind.  But products designed for adults pose a dangers to little ones as well.  I stumbled on this tragic story about unstable furniture, like dressers, cabinets, and chests, that can tip over and pin children down, often with disastrous consequences.

Child climbing a dresser

What does this mean to you:

As parents, we can’t assume that only “kids products” pose dangers to kids.  To anticipate what children might get into, we have to to think like they would and approach common situations as they would.  Come to think of it, that might not be a bad way to approach life anyway for purposes of our health, business success, and mental acuity.

Leap of faith

Commercials for insurance companies make you feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t they?  If you believe these ads, some insurance companies are like your neighbor (but only the good ones), some are on your side, and others help old ladies cross the street.  What’s your policy?

We got another one. Get the stamp out!

Despite what these ads would have us believe, insurance companies sometimes actually act in downright un-neighborly ways.  Whether it be car insurance claim, a home owners claim, or any other kind of claim, insurance companies exist for one reason and one reason only – to make money.  (If they do anything other than try to maximize profit, they will be sued.)  To expect them to “do the right thing” is, unfortunately, not reality.

Your own insurance company has an obligation to treat you fairly, even if it means, believe it or not, they have to pay.  If your own insurance company wrongly denies your claim, or drags out the claims process, they may be practicing bad faith insurance, sometimes called “first party” bad faith.  One insurance company defense law firm was even nice enough to post some examples of what can be considered bad faith insurance.

What does this mean to you:

Insurance companies spend a lot of money on ad campaigns, mottos, and spokespeople to convince people they treat you fairly.  We all know, that doesn’t always happen.  Keep in mind that if your own insurance company gives you the run around, they may be liable.

Can you point me to the legal fiction aisle?

Corporations are many things.  They are convenient economic tools.  They are employers of many thousands of human people.  They sometimes even create beautiful objects which human people can use and covet.

See how tall he is?

But corporations are not people, my friend, despite what some have said.  Unlike human people, corporations live forever.  They can exist in multiple places simultaneously.  They have no heart, no soul, and no conscious.  They cannot speak or run for office or do any other thing that human people do.  To put it bluntly, corporations are property owned by human people.  (Which raises the question – is it then unconstitutional to own a corporation since the 13th Amendment outlawed the ownership of persons?)

What does this mean to you:

The word “corporation” is used nowhere the Constitution, a fact, of which, Thomas Jefferson was well-aware.  When corporations are improperly defined as “people,” they get the peoples’ rights.  Rights like “free speech.”  They then use the peoples’ rights to their benefit, like influencing what laws get passed.  Many times (and by “many” I mean “every,”) human people like you and me do not want the same laws passed as corporations such as Exxon Mobile or JP Morgan or Allstate Insurance. Laws like limits on how much a jury of your peers can give when someone has been injured by a dangerous product or a reckless semi truck driver, or laws saying a product is no longer defective as long as it is 10 years old, or laws limiting the amount to punish companies who intentionally hurt others.

We were sold a bill of goods

Over the last 20+ years, lawmakers in Ohio have been on a crusade to protect people.  Corporate people, mind you, not human people, but people nonetheless, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.  We were told that limiting jury awards would save jobs and create a “business friendly” environment .  As the graph below shows, this has not been the case in Ohio.  Even though the number of product liability cases filed in Ohio has dropped dramatically, the unemployment rate has continued to shoot through the roof.  Tort reform has failed.

Source:

2010 Ohio Courts Statistical Summary, http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/Publications/annrep/10OCS/summary/14.pdf;

US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST39000003

Even in the face of such staggering statistics, business and insurance lobby groups continue to advocate for the same, worn out tort reform, hoping for a different outcome.  This, of course, is the classic definition of insanity.