Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf 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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High School AthletesWhile a lot of emphasis has been recently put on protecting professional and college athletes from suffering serious injuries and their long term consequences, very little is done on a national scale to protect high school athletes. In a recent article in the Health section of the New York Times Jane E. Brody points out that there are still no national guidelines or rules protecting high school athletes and that it is the responsibility of the states and the schools to protect them. Unfortunately most states and schools are lagging behind in implementing serious safety measures. Last year in the US 50 high school athletes died while playing organized school or league sports and thousands of them suffered long term complications from sports related injuries.

Cardiac arrest, head and neck injuries as well as exertion are the most common causes of death among high school athletes. The author indicates that many of these deaths could have been prevented if the high school had:

  • an emergency action plan
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Desmoid-type_fibromatosis.gross_pathology Although very rare, failure to diagnose and treat desmoids tumors, also called aggressive fibromatosis, a tumor that develops in the fibrous tissue that forms tendons and ligaments, can be medical malpractice. Desmoids tumors are very rare and difficult to diagnose and doctors are still debating what is the most appropriate categorization and treatment. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Sandra G. Boodman writes about a 24 year woman who suffered several episodes of excruciating stomach pain before being diagnosed and treated for a desmoid tumor.

Johanna Dickson was 23 years old when the first symptoms of the disease occured. She had just come back from South Africa when she suffered a first episode of acute abdominal pain. She thought she caught some type of stomach bug in her last trip. The family doctor sent her to the hospital for various tests but nothing was found and the pain disappeared.

Another crisis happened six months later but it went away quickly so she didn’t even bother to see a doctor.

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spinal cord injuryThe medical practice of trying to avoid scar formation at the site of a spinal cord injury may indeed not be correct. Every year approximately 12,500 American will suffer a spinal cord injury and an estimated 276,000 people in the US are suffering from long term effects related to this injury. For decades the prevailing medical dogma was that that scars were preventing neuronal regrowth across the injured area but a newly released study says it is actually the opposite that happens. Scar forming cells called astrocytes may actually help nerve regrowth.  A study recently published in Nature and authored by  Mark A. AndersonJoshua E. BurdaYilong RenYan AoTimothy M. O’SheaRiki KawaguchiGiovanni CoppolaBaljit S. KhakhTimothy J. Deming & Michael V. Sofroniew found that   “scars may be a bridge and not a barrier towards developing better treatments for paralyzing spinal cord injuries.”

Read more in Medical News Today

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depressedA doctor who doesn’t screen a child treated for Cushing syndrome for depression related mental illness may commit medical malpractice.

Cushing syndrome is a rare disease that occurs when the body produces too much of the hormone cortisol. It can lead to obesity, infections, bone fractures and kidney stones. Therefore it shouldn’t be left untreated.  The disease can be caused by taking too much glucocorticosteroid medicine or by a pituitary gland tumor that releases Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) among other causes. When a child suffers from this syndrome the usual treatment is to remove the tumor that produces the excess cortisol.

A study recently released by the National Institute of Health however shows that children that have been treated for this syndrome have a high risk of developing anxiety and suicidal thoughts months after they have been successfully treated. The study looked at 149 patients and found that 6% of them thought about suicide and experienced depression, irritability, anxiety and anger with outbursts of rage after the treatment. These symptoms appeared from 7 to 48 months after the treatment.

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A few days after a DOI investigation revealed that NYCHA knew about faulty elevators that killed a resident and injured another, the NYC Housing Authority announced that Ken Buny, the head of the elevator division was fired. Five NYCHA employees who failed to communicate that the elevators were malfunctioning were also reassigned. They are all facing disciplinary charges that could also result in firing. (Read more in the NY Daily News)

The investigation revealed that NYCHA knew about the faulty elevator before the fatal accident happened but because of a communications  breakdown nobody went to fix it.  On December 24 2015, the NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center (“CCC”) received a phone call from a resident at the  NYCHA’s Boston Road Plaza senior building in the Bronx to inform them about a very dangerous malfunctioning elevator. NYCHA didn’t take immediate action to put the elevator out of service. An hour and half  later, 84 year old Olegario Pabon was critically injured when the elevator drifted upward as he was trying to get in. He died 3 days later from his injuries.  The investigation also found that the NYCHA senior management learned about the accident four days later. Another man was seriously injured in a similar accident that happened in another NYCHA building less than a month before.

In both accidents, the DOI found that brake monitors that should have automatically shut down the elevators were not functioning. After this discovery the DOI checked the 1,080 NYCHA elevators equipped with brake monitors and found that 80 (more than 7%) of them were not functioning.

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Coney Island HousesAn elevator mechanic died in an elevator accident in New York City on Friday. The accident happened at the Coney Island Houses in Brooklyn, a public housing development belonging to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).   54 year old Igor Begun, was working in the elevator machine room of the building located at 2926 W. 25th St when he was apparently electrocuted to death.

NYPD and NYCHA are still investigating the causes of the fatal accident. The report from the medical examiner will provide more explanation on the exact cause of the death.

Igor Begun was alone when the accident happened. Another elevator worker who was doing some maintenance work in the lobby found him unconscious in the elevator machine room. He was later pronounced dead.

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safety culture constructionConstruction workers have a high risk of getting injured or even dying in an accident while at work. Construction accidents often happen when negligent contractors try to save time or money and put profit ahead of their own workers safety. A new study looking at safety practices among contractors shows that increased safety on construction sites indeed increases Return on Investment (ROI) and attracts and retains more talented hard hats. The recently released study “Building a Safety Culture SmartMarket Report” was produced by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and United Rental, a construction equipment rental company.

For the study, Dodge Data & Analytics analyzed 254 American contractors using 33 indicators of safety culture in the construction industry. They found that approximately one third of the contractors were promoting a high safety culture standard in their day to day business and were investing heavily in safety management practices. Another third were somewhat promoting safety culture in their company. The last third were contractors who didn’t have much interest about safety culture and didn’t invest much in it.

The study shows that contractors who invested the most in workers safety reported less injuries, improved their projects quality, increased their projects ROI, had a lower staff turnover and were able to attract staff more easily than contractors who didn’t invest in workers safety.

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bicycle accident locationA bicyclist was fatally struck by a car in NYC on Friday Morning. The bicycle accident happened at the intersection of Classon Avenue and Lexington Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New York. The driver was making a left turn from Classon Avenue onto Lexington Avenue when she hit the 34 year old female bicyclist. According to the NYPD the bicyclist was riding southbound against the traffic. According to StreetBlog, the driver, a 41 year old woman, got out of her car and fainted in the street after she saw the victim. The bicyclist suffered severe head and body trauma and was transported to the hospital where she later died from her injuries.

The accident happened at the entrance of a 20 mph neighborhood slow zone. Classon Avenue has a history of accidents and in 2012 the avenue was completely redesigned to become a one-lane road with broader parking spaces on each side. No bike lane was included in the design.

Read more in Streetblog

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carlos monkayoLast year Carlos Moncayo died in a construction accident in New York. Moncaya was working on a construction site located at 9-19 Ninth Ave in the meatpacking district in Manhattan where the old Pastis restaurant was turned into a Restoration Hardware Store. The 22 year old construction worker was buried in a pit after unstable soil gave way. The accident was fully preventable. An hour before it happened an inspector warned the two construction site supervisors, Alfonso Prestia and Wilmer Cuerva that the 13 foot deep pit wasn’t proprely re-enforced and that nobody should get in the trench. Both men ignored the warning. An hour later the inspector saw 4 men in the pit and rushed again to the two supervisors to urge them to halt work. Two hours later the supervisors finally decided to call the crew out of the pit but it was too late. The trench collapsed and Moncaya died. The two supervisors were charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. According to recent court papers, the two supervisors are now blaming each other for the fatal construction accident. Prestia says that he wanted to fire the foremen who created the unsafe conditions but that Cuevas always opposed it. Read more in the NY Daily News 

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confidentialMost product liability lawsuits against manufacturers never go to trial. For obvious reasons, companies don’t want regulators or the public to know that some of their products have injured or killed someone. Therefore they will often reach a confidential settlement agreement with the injured plaintiff or Estate.  In this secret pact the plaintiff usually agrees to keep the lawsuit secret as part of the settlement agreement. Such settlements may be perceived as a win win situation for both parties as the plaintiff is being compensated for his loss and avoiding a costly trial while the manufacturers can deal with the defective product internally, avoiding expensive recalls and other profit killing consequences.  However concealing important information about dangerous products may put the public at risk of an accident with more people being injured or killed. Some manufacturers simply put profit ahead of safety and find it cheaper just to pay for a lawsuit rather than correct a defective product. This type of reasoning is especially true with the automobile industry and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a notice entitled “Recommended Best Practices for Protective Orders and Settlement Agreements in Civil Litigation” to try to fight this very disturbing problem. In a recent article in Fair Warning, Ben Kelley a board member of the Center for Auto Safety, and author of  “Death By Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed The Law,”  comments on the vicious consequences of such contracts. However many manufactures refuse to settle absent such an agreement. An attorneys first obligation is to the client. In very strong liability cases it is often possible to successfully refuse to include a confidentiality clause. If the defendant refuses to settle and the offer is a good one the plaintiff’s attorney should , obviously, only proceed to trial with the client’s consent. In our experience in such cases the manufacturer will often back down.

Read the complete article here