Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.
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A 29 year old male pedestrian died in a car accident in New York City last Saturday night. For some unclear reason instead of using the nearby pedestrian overpass, Caje Dawkins decided to walk across the Bruckner Express Way near Stratford Ave, half a mile from where he lived.  As he was trying to cross the busy highway he was struck by a SUV . The driver of the SUV stayed at the scene of the accident.  Read more in the New York Daily News

 

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An impaired motorcycle driver caused an accident that killed a 32 year old woman last Saturday around 3:20 am near the 60th street exit ramp of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge. Tasha Rodriguez was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by a 30 year old friend when another of their friends, 28 year old Jeremy Perez who was riding behind them on another bike rear-ended them. Rodriguez fell off the bike and was ran over by Perez. She died in the accident. Both motorcycle drivers as well as the 21 year old  passenger of Perez suffered personal injury.  Perez was arrested and charged for driving while impaired. Witnesses said that just before the fatal NY motorcycle accident happened they saw five motorcycles driving at high speed and weaving in and out of traffic.  Read more in the NY Daily News . Motorcycle riders must understand and respect the fact that motorcycles are powerful machines, not toys and the rider and passenger are totally unprotected. It goes without saying that one should never ride while impaired. Further riders should never ride bikes above their experience levels. 

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Right HookIn 20o9 fatal bicycle accidents represented 1.9% of all traffic deaths in the U.S. In 2013 this number was 2.3%.  Big trucks such as tractor trailers and box trucks as well as garbage and dump trucks represent a small fraction of the traffic but they are involved in a disproportionate amount of the fatal bicycle accidents. As cities are encouraging cycling and walking and create specific bike lanes and other infrastructures, e- commerce also brings more trucks into urban neighborhoods at the same time.

Trucks are extremely dangerous for cyclists and in many of the fatal crashes involving a bicyclist and a truck, the cyclist is first hit by the side of the truck, slides under it and gets crushed under the wheels.  Such crashes happen most of the time when the truck is making a right-hand turn in front of the bike. It is called the Right Hook. Because of the large dead angles, the truck driver often doesn’t see the cyclist riding on its side and the cyclist realized too late that the truck is turning right.

The installation of side guards on trucks is so far the best way to prevent bicyclists and pedestrians from falling under the wheels if they are hit by a truck. So far a few cities including New York have passed legislation to require the use of truck side guards but the approach is piecemeal and bicycle advocates are calling for federal action. Read more in Fair Warning

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The police are still looking for a hit and run driver who struck a pedestrian last Saturday around 12:30 in Queens.  21 year old Betty Jean DiBlasio was crossing Ditmars Blvd near 19th Street in Astoria when she was hit by a Chevrolet Impala.  The driver sped away leaving the young woman lying on the pavement with a severe head injury. She died later at the hospital.  Read more in the NY Daily News.

According to the Vision Zero Queens Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, 16% of Queens pedestrians fatalities happen between 12:00 and 6:00 am though less than 4% of pedestrian activity takes place during these hours. 75% of Queens pedestrian fatalities are caused by dangerous drivers choices such as speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, red light running, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.

Queens Pedestrians Fatality

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Pipe_installation_2During the summer, outdoor construction workers such as those raking asphalt or sweating pipes can suffer from personal injury such as dizziness, discomfort and the fogging of safety glass and put themselves and others at risk of accidents. In some cases heat exhaustion can even lead to death. According to OSHA statistics an average of 30 construction workers die every year from heat stroke.

Construction workers can mitigate these types of injuries by arriving at work rested, wearing light clothing, drinking water every 15 minutes, doing demanding tasks in early morning when the heat is lower and when resting in a shady area is possible. Workers should also check their colleagues for signs of illness. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, weakness, moist skin, mood changes such as irritability or confusion, upset stomach and vomiting. Heat stroke is an immediate threat to life. Rapid cooling with ice packs or cold water must begin at once. A victim may sweat a lot, but some may have hot, dry skin and no sweating. Either way, it’s an extreme emergency. Call 911 immediately.  For more info see the CPWR Hot Weather Toolbox

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BriefingBook_SiteBriefing Book: Medical Malpractice by the Numbers is a yearly compilation by the Center for Justice and Democracy  of all recently published statistics and research related to Medical Malpractice in the US. The Briefing book cover Medical Malpractice Litigation, Health Care Costs and “Defensive Medicine” , Tort Reform, Medical Malpractice Insurance,  Patient Safety and a special chapter related to Army Medicine.

Medical Malpractice Litigation

Recent studies added to the briefing book confirm that a very low percentage of individuals are filing claims or lawsuits when medical malpractice is being committed against them or a family member. A 2014 analysis of National Practitioner Data Bank(NPDB) by Public Citizen indicates that between 93 and 98 percent of deaths from medical negligence did not result in any liability payment. Compared to 2001, the year in which the most medical malpractice payments were made, the number and size of medical malpractice claims, lawsuits and payments stayed at an historical low in recent years.  Most of the compensation theses days is made for serious personal injury or wrongful death and high verdicts are almost always reduced.

Tort reform such as damage caps that artificially reduce plaintiffs’ damage awards also reduce attorney’s fees and as a result many legitimate cases are being refused by attorneys because they don’t make economic sense for personal injury law firms to accept them (“Uncovering the Silent Victims of the American Medical Liability System,” Emory University Associate Law Professor Joanna Shepherd, 2014.)  Additionally, according to a recent study entitled “The Impact of Tort Reform and Quality Improvements on Medical Liability Claims: A Tale of 2 States” published in 2015 by the Orthopedic Surgery Division of the Southern Illinois University Medical School and led by the Orthopedic Surgery Division Chief Khaled J. Saleh, M.D., with or without tort reform, the best way to reduce medical malpractice is quality of care which seems to be pretty obvious.

In 2014 several analysis also pointed fingers at the state medical boards and the federal government for not holding accountable incompetent physicians.  In New York 77% of doctors sanctioned for negligence continued to practice and most of their patients don’t even know it. Medicare is turning a blind eye on incompetent doctors  approving payments to physicians who’d been disciplined for gross malpractice, battery and violating  prescription drug laws and some practitioners who had their state license removed just went to practice in another state according to federal records. Another worrisome fact that was highlighted by USA Today in April 2014  is rampant  drug addiction among the medical staff and the fact that there are very few safeguards such as regular drug tests in healthcare facilities to prevent this issue.

Health Care Costs and Defensive Medicine

Recent studies show that tort reform doesn’t have much impact on reducing health care costs and that the reason why a doctor is ordering additional tests or procedures is not so much to protect himself from a lawsuit but more to increase his workload and revenue.

Physician Supply and Access to Health Care

A recent study that compared physician supply in States that adopted caps compared to States with no caps show “no evidence that cap adoption predicts an increase in total patient care physicians, in specialties that face high med mal risk (except plastic surgeons), or in rural physicians.” Another study that provides an in depth analysis of the effect of Tort Reform in Texas on physician supply substantially undermines the empirical case for the conventional wisdom that Texas’s 2003 reforms against medical malpractice lawsuits attracted more doctors to Texas.

Medical Malpractice Insurance

Since the last 12 years medical malpractice insurers have seen their business booming. Payments made to victims of medical malpractice are down, lawsuits filed against doctors and hospitals continue to plummet, and the industry in 2014 posted an underwriting profit for the ninth straight year. As a result premiums are also declining irrespective of whether tort reform has been enacted in any particular state.

Patient Safety

A flurry of new articles and studies published this year indicates that patient safety is worsening. Deadly infections, often a sign of poor in-patient care, are invading hospitals increasing medicare costs drastically. In 2013, the second-greatest hospital Medicare expense, “$5.6 billion, went for 398,004 cases of septicemia, or blood poisoning. Low volume hospitals continue to have a higher risk of medical malpractice and operating rooms continue to be a scary place with every year an average of 500 patients being operated on a wrong body part and 5000 surgical items unintentionally left in patient’s bodies.  An article published in the New York Times at the beginning of the year also indicates that hospital boards are much more preoccupied by financial performance than quality of care and that most of them are unable to  accurately assess their institution’s quality. When asked,  more than half of hospitals with low quality thought they were
actually above average.

The Briefing Book also highlights some particularly unsafe aspects of healthcare such as:

  • higher rate of medical malpractice in hospitals during the weekend
  • high frequency of deadly misdiagnosis in Intensive Care Units
  • frequent negligent adverse events in emergency rooms
  • high rate of misdiagnosis in skilled nursing units as well as in clinics and doctors’offices such as office based surgery practices
  • high rate of medical malpractice in hospice care with patients left to die without much care or attention.

Studies and articles published this year continue to indicate that hospitals are actually increasing their profit by providing unsafe medical care and that a lot of them do not report major medical errors which is making the situation worse.

In a study published this year entitled “The Deterrent Effect of Tort Law: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Reform,” Professor Bernard S. Black from Northwestern University Law School and Kellogg School of Management and P.h.D. Candidate Zenon Zabinski from Northwestern University Department of Economics confirm that litigation is the best way to improve patient safety while tort reform worsens it.

Special Problems for Vets and Military Families

Recent VA reports have confirmed severe dysfunctions or mistreatment of veterans at VA facilities and an in-depth investigation by Sharon LaFraniere  from the New York Times reveals a system where service members have a very high risk of being exposed to medical malpractice and can’t be treated elsewhere without specific approval. If something goes wrong they are unable to sue and get compensation.

 

 

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Medtronic announced yesterday that certain lots of its neonatal and pediatric Covidien Shiley(TM) tracheostomy tubes are defective and can seriously injure children. The defective products were formed with a wider-angle bend than standard models, making it difficult for patients to breath.  In its press released Medtronic indicates that it already started to notify hospitals and distributors at the end of May. The company also asks that customers and distributors  notify primary care physicians and home care providers to whom they provided such devices. Read the press release 

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Bicycle accidents injuries deaths NYC April 2015A man died in an accident between a bicycle and a truck in New York City. The man who was 57 years old was riding his bicycle at the Corner of Church Ave and Ocean Ave near Prospect Park in Brooklyn when he was struck by a box truck.

According to the police both the cyclist and the truck were riding in the same direction when they collided. The bike rider was run over by the rear wheels of the truck. The police found him with severe trauma to his body and he was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the hospital. Read more in the Mean Streets section of the Brooklyn Paper

For the last two years 3 people died in a bicycle accident in the month of June. Even though the Vision Zero Program includes several measures to protect bicyclists from being hurt or dying in dangerous traffic crashes the recent collision statistics published by the NYPD show no decline in deaths and injuries related to bicycle accidents in New York City.

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CO55 year old Nilda Sing was found dead in her apartment after she was apparently poisoned by  carbon monoxide fumes coming from a defective boiler. The woman was living in a basement apartment of a four-story building on Fort Hamilton Parkway near 55th St. in Borough Park, Brooklyn in New York City. She was discovered dead by her brother early Saturday morning. When the police and the firefighters arrived they detected a high level of CO in the basement and the 16 apartments of the building were temporarily evacuated. Nilda Sing’s sister who was also in the apartment but in another room with AC survived and only suffered personal injury. The origin of the deadly gas leak seemed to come from the boiler that was located just below the appartment of the victim. The boiler was not working proprely and a repair crew had been working on fixing it for the last two weeks. One of the workers didn’t comply with safety guidelines and secured the exhaust pipe with tape. The pipe burst on Friday.

Read more in the NY Daily News  and see video on New York CBS Local

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size_550x415_homeless9n-2-webJohileny Meran Almonte, a New York teen who has cerebral palsy and needs to use a wheelchair lost her mother to cancer in 2010. Since then she has been living in a homeless shelter while she was attending high school.

Last Friday, she graduated from Juan Morel Campos Secondary School with a 95 average. The valedictorian of a class of 86 students, she obtained a full scholarship from New York University where she wants to study to become a doctor to treat children with cancer.

Her counselor, Mariela Regalado helped her to apply to multiple colleges and Almonte landed a dozen acceptances and chose NYU. The student will move from the homeless shelter to the NYU campus but she still will have to pay for clothes, school supplies, rent and medical expenses.

Again her counselor was very resourceful and helped her set up a website to raise funds for her college expenses. If you want to help her, go to   https://www.razoo.com/story/Ywln.

Read more about this inspirational story in the NY Daily News