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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysThe birth of a baby is one of the most joyous occasions a person can experience. Sadly, not every birth is without complication. Some birth injuries are mild, such as a small bruise or cut, while other birth injuries can have life-altering consequences for both the child and his or her parents. Some birth injuries happen due to no one’s fault or intention. Others are caused by medical negligence. When a doctor or other medical staff makes a careless mistake, they can cause permanent disability or death to a vulnerable infant. A medical malpractice lawsuit can help hold negligent medical staff accountable as well as provide compensation for damages.

Doctors Have a Duty of Care to Patients

Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to uphold his or her “duty of care” to his or her patient. Duty of care refers to the responsibility a doctor has to provide reasonably competent medical care to his or her patients. When a medical professional makes a poor decision which most medical professionals in his or her line of work and experience level would not have made, this may be a breach of duty of care. If a tragic event occurred during a birth, but the doctors and nurses made competent decisions while handling the crisis, this is likely not an example of medical negligence.

Common Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence

The most common birth injuries which can be caused by medical negligence include:

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersWhen most of us visit a doctor or other medical professional to address a health concern, we trust that he or she knows what they are doing and will be able to help. Understandably, doctors do not always immediately know what aliment is causing their patient to suffer. However, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals have a duty to treat patients to the best of their ability. When a negligent medical professional misdiagnoses a patient and the resultant medical treatment (or lack of treatment) causes the patient harm, a medical malpractice suit may be appropriate.

Diagnostic Errors Are One of the Most Common Causes for Medical Malpractice Claims

The law does not expect doctors to be perfect. Many times, a patient suffers from a complex array of conditions which may be challenging to identify and treat. Doctors and other medical professionals are not held legally responsible for every diagnostic error they make. However, when carelessness or negligence causes a patient harm, doctors should be held accountable. A successful medical malpractice suit includes the following elements:

  • An established doctor-patient relationship;
  • The doctor or other health care worker was negligent; and
  • The negligent party’s actions caused actual injury to the patient.

Understanding When a Doctor is Negligent

Negligence can be tricky to understand in the context of a medical malpractice suit. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis itself may be a mistake on the part of the health worker, but not necessarily evidence of negligence. Generally, a medical professional is negligent when he or she not provide treatment in a reasonably skilled and competent way. When deciding if a medical professional was negligent or not, courts may invite other similarly trained or experienced professionals to weigh in on the matters. If most medical professionals of similar expertise would have made a different decision than the medical professional accused of malpractice made, it is likely he or she will be considered negligent.

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Winnebago County product liability attorneysThis week, college basketball player Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury during one of the most important basketball games of the season. The Duke Blue Devils star was moving across the court when he appeared to lose his footing and injure himself. A closer inspection shows that Williamson did not simply misstep; his shoe had actually ripped apart. When he put his foot down, the 18-year-old basketball star hurt his knee and later limped off the court in pain. Although the injury was described as a “mild knee sprain” by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the injury brings up many concerns regarding the products we use and trust every day. A freak injury has the potential to ruin the career of an aspiring professional athlete. If that injury was caused by a defective or flawed product, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

Understanding the Purpose of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Unfortunately, personal injury suits have gotten an undeserved bad reputation. Personal injury suits are important for helping victims of negligence gain compensation for damages, but they also help hold companies accountable for the products they manufacture. Part of the reason we are able to trust the products we buy to be safe and work the way they are intended to is due to pressure from potential injury suits. Product liability suits can be brought against the manufacturer, distributor, or designer of a product.

A Serious Injury Can Reduce a Person’s Future Employability

After Williamson’s injury, the Nike company addressed the incident, saying, “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery." Nike also added that “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance.” Although the injury caused by the shoe breaking was mild in this case, a more serious injury would have greater possible legal consequences.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysSmartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other and get information about the world. Smartphones are so wonderful that some people have trouble putting them down, even while driving. The statistics about texting and diving are grim: over 1,000 people are injured every day in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you were injured or someone you love was killed due to the inattention of another driver, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Texting While Driving Is Reckless and Irresponsible

Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving because it integrates visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Trying to text or otherwise use a cell phone while driving means that a driver takes his hands, eyes, and mind off the road. Someone who is texting and driving is essentially driving blind. If a driver is traveling at 55 mph and looks away from the road for only five seconds, he or she has already traveled the length of a football field.

 Because of the great danger it poses to other drivers and pedestrians, Illinois bans texting and driving by law. Illinois motorists may still talk on the phone while driving, but only using Bluetooth technology or a hands-free device. Recently, Illinois imposed even stricter penalties for distracted drivers which will start in July 2019. Those caught texting while driving will now face more serious penalties for violating the law including possibly having their driver’s license suspended.

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Rockford personal injury attorneyPerhaps more so than any other legal action, personal injury lawsuits are shrouded in misunderstanding. People hear television commercials about getting compensation for an injury and incorrectly assume that personal injury lawsuits are designed to “cheat” the system and make an easy buck. The purpose of personal injury lawsuits is to compensate a person for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence.

If you are ever hurt by a drunk driver, defective product, unsafe environment, dog bite, incompetent medical professional, or another act of negligence, you may be out thousands of dollars. Medical bills and ongoing physical therapy can easily bankrupt a person, and insurance companies are notorious for only covering a minimum of costs. Missed work can result in even more financial hardship. Injury suits provide an avenue for injured people to recover some of these costs as well as be compensated for pain and suffering. Read on to learn about how personal injury cases are often misunderstood and how you can pursue compensation for your injuries.

Falsehoods Regarding McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case Damaged Public Perception of Personal Injury Suits

Back in 1992, a 79-year-old woman bought coffee at the McDonald’s drive-thru and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded millions. If this story sounds familiar, it is because the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit unfairly became the poster child of frivolous lawsuits in the 1990s. However, the real story of this lawsuit was nearly completely unknown to the public thanks to biases and irresponsible journalism. The liquid which the elderly woman spilled was not simply “hot coffee,” It was coffee heated to the outrageously high temperature of 190 degrees – a temperature hot enough to cause third-degree burns in three to seven seconds. When the woman spilled her coffee, it soaked into her pants and continued burning her. She suffered third degree burns on her legs and genitals which were so horrific, she went into shock. The woman’s burns were so severe, she required multiple skin grafts and extensive medical care. 

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Rockford personal injury attorneysNews reports of fatal drunk driving accidents are sadly common. Poor road conditions and winter weather only increase the risk of alcohol-related traffic accidents. On average, approximately 30 people in the U.S. die as the result of drunk driving accidents each day. This adds up to over 10,000 lost lives per year. Monetary damages from accidents involving a drunk driver are estimated to be more than $44 billion annually. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a car accident involving an intoxicated driver, you may be able to receive compensation.

Winter Weather and Poor Road Conditions Add to Danger of Intoxicated Drivers

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is always a reckless move, but it is especially dangerous during winter road conditions. Icy roads can lead to rear-end collisions when a driver fails to stop their vehicle in time. Multiple car pile-ups may be more likely to occur during adverse weather as well. The combination of an intoxicated driver and slippery roads can also increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck and killed.

Negligent Drivers Can Be Held Liable for Damages

Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car has an obligation to everyone else around him or her to drive with care and attention. When a driver chooses to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit or while otherwise intoxicated, he or she is not fulfilling his duty to act with reasonable care.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysElectric scooters can be a fun and efficient way to get around town. From New York to Chicago to Los Angeles, more and more people are using electric scooters for transportation. Unfortunately, these vehicles are not without risk. Because the rider stands on top of the scooter, it can be easy to fall off. Keeping your balance on a scooter may also be harder than it looks, especially in crowded or obstacle-filled streets. Until recently, there was almost formal data regarding electric scooter safety. Now, a new study shows that scooter injuries are quite common and can range in severity from bruises to serious head injuries.

Research Suggests Scooter Falls Are on the Rise

The study, which was recently published in the journal JAMA Network Open, analyzed data from 249 patients who visited the emergency room for scooter-related injuries in the Los Angeles area. Although scooters are thought of as nearly risk-free, injuries resulting from scooter falls or crashes are being more prevalent. Of the patients studied, about 40 percent suffered head injuries and roughly a third had broken bones. A noteworthy number of scooter-related injuries occurred in patients younger than 18. Simply falling off the scooter accounted for over 80 percent of the injuries studied while about 11 percent of injured scooter riders ran into an obstacle. Although most electric scooters only reach speeds of about 15 miles per hour, falling off a scooter, colliding with an obstacle, or being struck by a car while riding a scooter can cause serious injuries or even death. Dr. Joann Elmore, professor of medicine at UCLA and senior author of the study, says that scooter riders are underestimating the potential danger of these vehicles.  

Lawsuits Arising from Scooter Injuries

Some people who were involved in scooter-related injuries have filed lawsuits in order to recover compensation for medical bills or missed work. As with any personal injury lawsuit, the issue of negligence is the central concern when it comes to electric scooter lawsuits. Claimants must prove that their injury was caused by negligence in order to collect reimbursement through a civil suit of this kind. For example, if negligent design led to the injuries, the designer of the scooter may be held liable. Likewise, a scooter with faulty parts may have been manufactured carelessly which would make the manufacturer responsible for any injuries sustained. Assigning blame for defective products can be an intricate and demanding task. This is why it is critical for any person pursuing a defective product personal injury suit to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney.

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Winnebago County product liability attorneysWhen consumers take a medication, they understandably assume the medication will do more good than harm. Medications often contain powerful ingredients which can be dangerous or even deadly if managed improperly. Pharmaceutical companies must therefore be held to a high standard of quality and precision when it comes to manufacturing medications. Drug makers who sell medications they know to be defective must be held accountable. If you or someone you love has suffered because of a defective product, you should know that a defective product liability claim is one avenue for collecting compensation.  

FDA Continues Recalls of Several Popular Medications

Prinston Pharmaceuticals has decided to recall a blood pressure medication called “irbesartan” after it was discovered that the medication contained high levels of a cancer-causing ingredient. The medication is designed to block the effects of a hormone responsible for narrowing blood vessels. Chemical testing revealed that the medication contained unacceptable levels of nitrosodiethylamine, or NDEA, which is a probable carcinogen.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. This most recent recall is only one of several recalls linked to a pharmaceutical factory in China involving blood pressure medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has paused all new drug shipments from this factory. Another factory in India has also been linked to several medication recalls. In July 2018, the FDA issued a recall of several pharmaceutical drugs containing a component called “valsartan” due to the increased risk of cancer. Consumers of the recalled drugs are encouraged to speak with their doctor about alternative treatments.

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Winnebago County wrongful death lawyersA wrongful death suit is a beneficial legal tool which family members of a deceased person can use to collect compensation. Illinois law explains, "Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages." If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, read on to learn about wrongful death claims in Illinois.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Illinois, only the personal representative a deceased person can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative represents the deceased person’s estate. He or she can be a close relative of the individual who passed away such as a spouse, parent, or adult child. If the deceased person, or decedent, did not appoint a personal representative before he or she passed away, the court is authorized to make this decision.

Is a Wrongful Death Claim a Criminal Matter?

Many people misunderstand the difference between a criminal case and a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death suits are civil claims, meaning they do not take place in criminal court. Wrongful death lawsuits only address liability in terms of financial damages. Criminal cases are brought by the state or federal government, not by a personal representative. Often, wrongful death cases occur along with criminal cases, but a criminal prosecution is not necessary in order to pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court.

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhen a person goes to the hospital to get surgery for an illness or injury, they assume the doctors, nurses, and surgeons taking care of them will do their job with caution and attentiveness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows that over 250,000 individuals die every year in the U.S from medical errors. Other studies suggest that the number of individuals killed by medical mistakes is closer to 440,000. One medical error which occurs startlingly often is the unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) during surgical procedures.

Surgical Items Left Inside Patients Bodies

Alarmingly, it is not unheard of for patients to discover that a surgeon or other medical professional left a piece of medical equipment inside their body. Leaving surgical instruments in a person’s body after invasive procedures can cause serious illness and even death. The type of object left in the person’s body and the length of time it was retained are the main factors that determine the severity of this error.

In some cases, retained objects are discovered immediately after a surgical procedure through an X-ray or during a follow-up. Other times, the foreign objects left in a patient’s body are only identified after the patient seeks medical attention for unexplained pain. The most common objects which are left inside patients include:

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Rockford personal injury attorneyA slip and fall accident can devastate a person’s life in mere seconds. If you have been injured after falling and the fall was a result of another party’s negligence, you may be considering seeking compensation through an injury lawsuit. The success or failure of a personal injury claim almost completely relies upon the question of liability. To win a personal injury case, a claimant and his or her legal team must prove that another party is liable, or legally responsible, for his or her injuries.

Elements of a Premises Liability Injury Lawsuit

If you are considering pursuing financial compensation for injuries through a lawsuit, identify the potentially liable parties. In many slip and fall cases, responsibility lies with the property owner. For example, a shop owner who knowingly exposes customers to danger via unmarked spills or broken stairs may be legally responsible for any injuries caused by these conditions. Property owners have a duty to maintain the property in a way that minimizes the threat of injuries. Property owners who ignore potential dangers are considered negligent.

Not every slip and fall accident is the result of negligence, however. Sometimes a sequence of unlucky circumstances can lead to a freak injury-causing accident. Therefore, in order to bring a successful injury claim, the claimant must prove that negligence led to the dangerous situation which caused the injury.

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Winnebago County product liability attorneyThe holiday season is upon us and everywhere parents, grandparents, and friends are buying children’s toys. You may have heard about children and baby products being recalled over safety concerns in the past. While the vast majority of children’s toys and other products are safe, many children are injured and even killed by defective toys, furniture, and other items. If your child was injured due to a malfunctioning or defective toy, you may be eligible for compensation.

Toy-Related Injuries Can Cause Lasting Damage

The Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) received thirteen reports of toy-related deaths during 2017. The victims were all under 12 years of age. Over half of the fatal incidents involved riding toys like scooters and ride-on cars. Emergency room physicians treated an estimated 251,700 children for injuries caused by toys in 2017. Some of the most common toy-related injuries include bruising and abrasions, burns, lacerations, bone fractures, puncture wounds, suffocation, and strangulation.

Assigning Blame in an Injury Case

Toy injury claims are like other personal injury claims in that they are based on the legal concept of product liability. Parents who wish to seek compensation after their child was injured by a toy must prove that:

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Rockford personal injury attorneysStudies show that more and more Americans are taking psychiatric medications in order to cope with mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Experts estimate that about one out of every six adults in the United States has used at least one psychiatric drug. For some, psychiatric medication like fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), alprazolam (Xanax), Lithium, clozapine (Clozaril) diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan) help alleviate symptoms and cause few, if any, side effects. However, some people taking psychiatric medication experience intense mental and physical side effects including increased thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Now, the family of the late musician Chris Cornell believe that negligent over-prescription of psychiatric medication may have played a role in the singer’s death.

Singer Was Taking Anxiety Medicine and Opioids at Time of Suicide

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell passed away in May of 2017 of an apparent suicide. However, Cornell’s wife believes that the 52-year-old was not in his right mind when he chose to take his own life. She claims that a dangerous mix of anti-anxiety medication and prescription opioids caused him to have increased suicidal and psychotic thoughts, a known side effect of some psychiatric medications. She claims that the negligent actions of her late husband’s doctor are to blame for his death.

According to the lawsuit, Cornell’s doctor negligently prescribed Oxycodone, Lorazepam (Ativan), and other mind-altering drugs to Cornell even though the doctor knew of Cornell’s history with drug addiction. The doctor also allegedly permitted non-physician staff to write Cornell’s prescriptions and neglected to follow up with Cornell regarding negative side effects. Cornell’s widow says that the singer had not displayed suicidal behavior prior to taking his life and had not struggled with addiction for many years. The question of blame will come down to whether or not the doctor and his staff were negligent in prescribing the singer the combination of mind-altering medication.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysGetting hurt in a car crash or other accident can be an overwhelmingly emotional experience. In the moments after an accident, most people are in shock. They immediately start thinking about how to handle the situation and give little attention to their own well-being. Unfortunately, many people have decreased their chances at receiving compensation for their injuries because they delayed or skipped medical treatment after an accident. If you are ever involved in an accident and you are hurt, it is critical that you have a medical professional assess your injuries.

Adrenaline Masks Pain During Traumatic Events

Imagine you are driving down the highway with your family. Suddenly, another car veers into your lane, causing your vehicle to crash into the guardrail. After the impact, you will probably be more concerned with the other passengers in your vehicle than yourself—even if you are seriously hurt. This is partially due to a mechanism in the brain which helps block the feeling of pain in dangerous situations. In traumatic circumstances, an injured person’s bloodstream is flooded with a hormone called adrenaline. In addition to dilating the person’s pupils and increasing their heart rate, the hormone also blocks their brain’s ability to sense pain. This “stress-induced analgesia,” can trick injured people into believing they are less hurt than they really are. The injured person may cause further bodily damage by delaying medical treatment.

Delaying Medical Treatment Can Decrease Your Chances of Getting Compensation

Being involved in a serious accident can leave a person with burdensome medical bills and financial hardship due to missed work. Symptoms that do not become apparent until days or weeks after an accident can be more difficult to relate directly to the accident. As a result, insurance companies may try to evade liability. Getting compensation for injuries by means of a personal injury lawsuit may be a viable solution for some, but those without documentation of their injuries will have a much harder time making a successful claim.  

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Winnebago County premises liability lawyersAs Illinois residents prepare to turn their calendars over to December, the cold and snow have arrived. While snow is no surprise to those who live and work in the region, winter weather conditions bring a number of safety concerns, many of them related to road travel and highway safety. Winter storms can also cause serious problems for those on foot, making getting from the car to the house rather treacherous. There are, however, some things you can do to reduce the danger of a slip and fall accident and the resulting injuries that such a fall can cause.

Dress Appropriately

As you make your way into the office, do you wear your dress shoes or heels? Consider carrying your fancy footwear with you or leaving them at your desk and trade them for winter-appropriate boots. Be sure to find something that fits properly and that has an aggressive tread to grip slippery sidewalks. It is also important to make sure that your pants are not so long that they could be caught under your shoes or boots. A momentary stumble could have devastating consequences on snow or ice.

Alight With Caution and Three Points of Contact

A large number of slip and fall accidents occur while trying to get out of the car, as a single foot on icy pavement can leave you quite vulnerable. When you reach your destination, take your time and exit your car carefully, placing two feet firmly on the ground and a hand on the vehicle before attempting to stand. If you can only put one foot out, for whatever reason, be sure to keep both hands on your vehicle to help maintain your balance.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysFor many people, the upcoming six weeks are the best time of the year. Getting together with friends and family to enjoy a special meal, exchange gifts, or simply catch up is a cherished part of the holiday season. Many of these holiday gatherings will also involve alcohol. Unfortunately, this means that there are more alcohol-impaired drivers on the roads during the holiday season. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that on average, about a third of fatal car accidents involve an alcohol-impaired driver. During the winter holiday season however, an astounding 60 percent of fatal traffic accidents involve a driver who was drinking. This holiday season, make a commitment not to drink and drive and take steps to keep you and your family as safe as possible on the roads.

Make a Transportation Plan Before Drinking

One of the most misunderstood things about drinking and driving is that most individuals who are caught driving under the influence never intended to drive intoxicated. Often, auto accidents occur when drivers do not realize how impaired they actually are and overestimate their ability to drive a car safely. When a person consumes alcohol, the brain releases a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This results in lowered inhibitions, increased impulsivity, and diminished decision-making skills. It is extremely important to always have a travel plan in place before starting to drink. Waiting to figure out how you will get home from a holiday party after you have already begun drinking can be disastrous.

If You Are Involved in an Accident with a Drunk Driver, Act Quickly

The team at Mannarino & Brasfield hope that your holiday season is safe and enjoyable. However, if you are involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver, make sure to take the following steps: Always call the police if you have been in a car crash with a person you suspect has been drinking. If you have been injured—even slightly—get checked out at the hospital immediately. Often, individuals involved in a car accident do not realize how hurt they really are until hours after the accident. Lastly, take steps to document the damage to your vehicle as well as any injuries you sustained.

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Rockford medical malpractice attorneysDoctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are some of the most trusted members of our society. Of course, medical professionals are human just like everyone else, and they sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, errors made by doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and other medical professionals can often have devastating consequences.

Negligence Must Be Proven in Medical Malpractice Claims

Before delving into the most common mistakes made by medical professionals, it is important to be clear about one point: medical malpractice only occurs when negligence occurs. A patient simply being unhappy with the results of a medical procedure or test cannot be reason enough to claim malpractice. Furthermore, a medical procedure or surgery which results in a negative outcome is not always the result of medical malpractice or doctor error. For example, when an individual receives an organ transplant, the organ is sometimes “rejected” by the patient’s body. This can happen for a myriad of reasons and is usually not related to any negligent acts by the surgeon or other hospital staff. In order for a successful medical malpractice claim to be made, negligence must be proven. A medical professional is negligent when he or she acts in a way which is not reasonably competent or skilled, and this carelessness leads to patient harm.

Errors Which Often Lead to Malpractice Suits

There are many different situations which might necessitate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Patients who have been misdiagnosed or did not receive a diagnosis in a timely matter often have the justification to sue. Understandably, it can sometimes take doctors and other medical experts a long time to reach an accurate diagnosis. However, when a diagnosis is delayed or a patient is misdiagnosed due to negligence, the doctor and staff may be held liable. Childbirth injuries including seizure disorders and cerebral palsy can sometimes be caused by doctor error. Negligent prenatal care can result in damage to both the fetus as well as the mother.

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Rockford personal injury attorneyFrom the beginning of automobile manufacturing, auto manufacturers have worried about safety. Motor vehicles are constantly being redesigned with increasingly effective safety features. Components like seatbelts, safety glass, and padded dashboards were among the first efforts at increased automobile safety. Airbags designed to cushion passengers in the event of a car crash were another significant addition to automobile design. More recently, experts have been working to understand how these safety features work together to prevent passenger injury during a traffic accident. Insurance companies and automakers are continuously analyzing data in an attempt to answer the question, “Which seat is the safest to be in during a car crash?” 

The Rear Middle Seat Is Often the Farthest from Impact

Many people believe that the rear middle seat is the safest seat in an average automobile. This seat is the furthest away from the sides of the car. In the event of a crash, the passenger in the middle seat is theoretically less likely to come into contact with crushed windows and sides and suffer injury. Statistically, the rear middle seat has been found to be the safest seat during crashes that occur at intersections.

NHTSA Says Children Should Always Ride in the Back Seat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially recommends that parents place children under 13 years of age in the back seat. The rear middle seat is considered the best seat for children, but only if that seat is equipped with a functioning 3-point seat belt. The NHTSA also recommends the rear middle seat as the safest location for a child in a car seat. Studies show that placing a car seat in the rear middle may reduce the risk of injury by up to 43 percent.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysThanks to television procedural dramas and other dramatic depictions, you are probably familiar with the common legal phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” While the concept predates American law, it has become a cornerstone principle in criminal courtrooms around the country, providing a basis for protecting the rights of the accused. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of entertainment, it is easy to assume that the same standard applies in any type of court proceeding. Reasonable doubt, however, does not play a specific role in civil court or personal injury claims, as the standard used in such cases is much different and much easier to attain. In civil court, a claimant must only show that his or her version of the event in question is more likely than not based on the “preponderance of the evidence.”

Burden of Proof Is on the Claimant

As you might expect, the party that files a car accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claim has the burden of proof. This means that, in order to collect compensation as requested in claim, he or she must present a case that shows several distinct elements. The claimant must demonstrate and support with evidence that:

  • The defendant owed him or her a duty of care;
  • The defendant breached that duty by negligence or willful act;
  • The claimant suffered actual injuries or losses; and
  • The defendant’s breach was the cause of the claimant’s injuries or losses.

In most cases, the defendant’s duty of care is based on the standard of reasonable care, meaning that he or she must take the same steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent foreseeable injuries.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysCell phone use—particularly texting while driving—has become a serious problem in America. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 1.2 million accidents are caused by texting and driving each year. Those numbers, however, may be far lower than the reality because the police rarely investigate to determine whether or not an accident was caused by cell phone use. However, skilled auto accident attorneys can help to uncover this information and may even be able to help their clients seek punitive damages for their injuries.

Why Texting and Driving Accidents Are So Serious

Studies that have been conducted on distracted drivers have suggested that cell phone use one of the most dangerous forms of distraction. In fact, one study found that, while the body tries to compensate for other forms of distraction through a flight or fight reaction, that same compensation is not present when using a cell phone and driving. This is because the brain relies heavily on hand-eye coordination to activate this defense mechanism, and texting takes that coordination away. As a result, the accidents that occur due to texting and driving often cause serious injuries.

Your Injuries and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not often seen in auto accident cases. However, when a driver “willfully and wantonly” causes harm to another person, such as in accidents with drinking and driving or the use of a cell phone, victims may be due added punitive damages. Unfortunately, obtaining such damages is not an easy task. Knowledge of the law and of penal codes is required. This is why every victim who suspects that texting or talking on the phone while driving may have been a factor in their accident should seek skilled and experienced legal assistance.

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