Gallia County Jury Verdict Awarded

Ethan Vessels was able to obtain justice in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas on May 16, 2019. It was his pleasure to represent Diana Casto and her husband, Dana. Thank you to the jurors for their willingness to serve and to provide justice.

Can I Use Social Media If I’m in a Lawsuit?

Your Lawsuit and Social Media

Social media is such a normal part of our lives that we often post our daily activities without thinking twice. From sharing pictures of our meals, vacations, families and friends to updating our statuses with check-ins and personal tidbits, we seem to be a society obsessed with documenting every moment of every day.  

Sharing this information with your followers may seem innocent, but if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, even the most “harmless” information can potentially damage your claim.

For instance, imagine you were injured in a car accident and you’re suing for compensation. A few days after the accident, you attend a friend’s birthday party and are tagged on Facebook in some party photos. The defense attorneys for the insurance company find the photos and use them as evidence against you. They argue that if you’re at a party, then you must not really be hurt. They can show those photos in court, which can hurt your chances of being fairly compensated – or compensated at all – for your injuries.

What Should I Do/Not Do on Social Media?

  1. Avoid posting: It’s really simple – avoid posting pictures of yourself and your activities. Put your accounts on hold until your case is closed. The best way to ensure that you don’t post something the insurance company can use against you is to avoid using social media altogether.
  2. Don’t discuss the accident: If you absolutely must post on social media, don’t share details about the accident or your injuries. Even a small error in the way you phrase something or a timestamp on a photo can create problems. Don’t post pictures of the accident. Don’t share any details of the accident through messages. Don’t comment on the other party or the insurance company. The best advice is to discuss your lawsuit with only your attorney and no one else.
  3. Check your privacy settings: Make sure your accounts are set to “private” and not to “public.” Make sure that you have to approve any tagged posts or comments. You should also remove yourself from public Google search results on Facebook by unchecking the box under “Public Search Listing.”
  4. Ask your family and friends to be discreet: Sometimes our families and friends post pictures or “tag” us in events on social media. These posts can also be used by insurance companies and defense attorneys. Remind your family and friends that you’re in a lawsuit, and tell them you don’t want to be included in their social media.
  5. Don’t accept strange friend requests: As devious as it sounds, insurance company employees have sent requests to injured people to access their private pages. Avoid accepting requests from anyone you don’t know.

Are There Rules About Social Media In Court?

While there are very specific rules about what is admissible as evidence in court, the rules about social media are still evolving. While public posts and public pages are more than likely admissible, rules about private posts and private pages are different. Courts have ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for the content on social media, even if it’s shared with a small, select group. While defense attorneys aren’t likely to get permission to search the entirety of your private social media accounts, they might be granted limited access if they can show how it will lead to admissible evidence.

What Is Wrongful Death?

What Is Wrongful Death?

When a person dies due to the misconduct, negligence, or intentional harm of another person, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil court action requiring grounds (a legally supported reason) for filing.

Wrongful death lawsuits aim to prove that not only did the deceased lose his/her life due to the negligence of another, but also that his/her family members were directly affected emotionally and financially due to the death. Therefore, wrongful death cases will determine the financial compensation the family members should receive.

How Does Someone Prove Wrongful Death?

To be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit, some elements must be proven:

  • The person’s death was caused by neglect or wrongful conduct.
  • The surviving family members have suffered measurable damages as a result of the death.

If a victim, who would have otherwise been able to file a personal injury claim had he/she survived, dies as a result of the action of another, a “survivorship” claim is appropriate.

Common grounds for wrongful death lawsuits may arise out of a number of circumstances:

  • Medical malpractice death
  • Vehicle fatalities
  • Exposure to toxic/hazardous work conditions
  • Death during a supervised activity

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Every state has a wrongful death statute or set of statutes that set the standards for actions against wrongful death. A lawsuit for wrongful death may be brought by a representative of the estate of the deceased, including:

  • A spouse
  • Parents of minors
  • Extended family members, such as grandparents and siblings (in some states)
  • Any person named as executor of the estate

What Damages Can Be Awarded?

Once a death has been proven to be the result of a wrongful act, damages can be collected for the following:

  • Medical bills incurred prior to death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • The pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death
  • Lost wages and expected income
  • Mental anguish endured by the survivors
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Punitive damages intended to punish the offender and discourage similar actions (in some states)

If you believe that may have a wrongful death claim, contact us for a free consultation. We will help you understand your legal rights and determine if you should pursue a lawsuit.

What Is Radiology Malpractice?

What Is the Role of a Radiologist?

A radiologist is a medical specialist who has been trained to read and interpret the results of medical images, such as MRIs, CTs, and x-rays. A radiologist works in conjunction with other physicians who request imaging tests. For instance, if a primary care physician orders a chest x-ray, the radiologist will read and interpret the results of the x-ray, and then return those interpretations and results to the primary physician.

What is Radiology Malpractice?

There are two types of radiology malpractice: misreading an image and failure to communicate with the consulting physician. 75% of lawsuits against radiologists come from one of these two situations.

Misreading an Image

The most common form of radiology malpractice is due to diagnostic errors – the failure to correctly read or interpret the medical image.

At times, when examining test results, a radiologist can “miss” a vital finding or may focus on one type of medical condition over another.

For instance, a primary physician may request a chest x-ray of a patient to rule out pneumonia. When the radiologist looks for pneumonia, the image is clear of that illness. However, during examination of the x-ray, the radiologist may overlook a mass. Later, the patient is determined to have lung cancer as a result of that mass. The radiologist, therefore, can be found negligent in evaluating the initial x-ray.

Frequently missed diagnoses include breast and lung cancer, vascular disease, and aneurysms.

Communication Failure

The second most common type of radiology malpractice occurs when a radiologist and a referring physician miscommunicate. This can occur when a radiologist does not provide test results to the physician or fails to mention concerns about the patient’s imaging. It can also occur when the physician fails to read the radiologist’s full report and overlooks details about the evaluation of the scan.

Radiologists and physicians are required by medical malpractice law to communicate effectively not only with each other, but also with their patients.

When Should I See an Attorney?

Radiology malpractice cases can be quite difficult, with complex medical and legal details.  If you believe that the health of you or a loved one was jeopardized as a result of radiology malpractice, contact an attorney as soon as possible.

In the instance of misreading an image, an attorney will make the case, with the help of medical expert witnesses, that any other competent radiologist would have noticed an abnormality in the medical image.

If miscommunication between physicians is the issue, at least one of the two doctors – the radiologist or the referring physician – will be liable for the damage. Courts can also decide to penalize both physicians in a given case.

If you believe that you have a radiology malpractice case resulting in injury or death, contact us at 740.374.5346 or use our convenient contact form.

Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

For the most part, physicians work hard to care for their patients, and they always have their patients’ best interests at heart. However, sometimes doctors make mistakes. When those mistakes lead to serious consequences, injury, or death, a patient may choose to file a lawsuit against the physician for the harm he or she suffered. In the United States, there are a variety of reasons why a patient may file a malpractice claim, but some types of lawsuits are more common than others.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Not all bad outcomes are the result of malpractice. There are instances where treatments lead to unexpected outcomes or a patient suffers unintended and unforeseeable complications. There are times treatments are ineffective despite a physician’s best efforts. However, when an adverse medical outcome has a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, the issue of malpractice comes up.

Malpractice in Ohio must meet three specific criteria to be eligible for compensation:

A Deviation from the Standard of Care – A medical standard of care refers to the industry standard expected of medical professionals within the same field of expertise. Of course, the expected standard differs from one type of health professional to another.

Causation of Injury or Death –  The deviation from the standard of care is not sufficient by itself. That deviation must be the cause of the ultimate damage suffered.

Damages – Damages must occur for there to be an applicable case. Damages are the monetary and physical losses a patient endures, such as medical costs, pain, and suffering. Without damages, there is no reason to file a malpractice claim.

Exploring the Common Causes of Malpractice

Knowing that physicians almost never intentionally cause harm, you might wonder what the cause of malpractice is if there is no bad intention. Medical malpractice on the part of a doctor or other healthcare professional must involve negligence, such as using the wrong dosage of a medication or failure to diagnose the proper disease and treat it accordingly. Most malpractice claims arise out of issues with communication. Whether it was the physician’s inability to communicate with their patient effectively, or the doctor was too busy to gather the necessary information, these communication breakdowns can lead to devastating accidents.

Inpatient Malpractice Errors

A vast majority of malpractice claims arise in the inpatient setting. These malpractice types include:

Surgical Errors – Whether it is operating on the wrong site to leaving surgical instruments in the body, surgical errors account for one-third of all malpractice claims filed in the United States by patients. Most surgical errors are preventable errors, known as never-events.

Anesthesia – Another common injury is from anesthesia, whether the patient suffers a preventable reaction or is not monitored properly when given the medication. These injuries might lead to permanent brain damage or death.

Outpatient Medical Malpractice Errors

Outpatient procedures do not happen in the hospital. Instead, they occur in a physician’s office, clinic, or an outpatient surgical center. The most common outpatient injuries include:

Failure to Diagnose – In this case, the doctor fails to diagnose and treat the patient appropriately. As a result, the patient could suffer from a chronic illness and pain, or be too far advanced in his or her disease to receive treatment when it is finally diagnosed.

Misdiagnosis – In this case, the patient is diagnosed but with the wrong condition, such as being diagnosed with heartburn when the patient was actually suffering from a heart attack.

Medication Errors – Sometimes doctors prescribe the wrong medicine or the incorrect dosage.

Childbirth Injuries

Childbirth is demanding on the human body, and many physicians are too busy to prevent errors in childbirth. Approximately 20% of medical malpractice claims are filed against OB/GYNs.

Medication Errors

Medication errors might occur at the doctor’s office or a pharmacy. Whether it is the incorrect dosage amounts or the wrong medication given to the patient, these errors cause more than 1.5 million injuries each year in the United States.

Contact Ethan Vessels

When you have a medical malpractice claim, you need an attorney who will advocate for you. Ethan Vessels, of Fields, Dehmlow, & Vessels is a medical malpractice attorney who can help. Contact him today to discuss your claim by calling 740-374-5346 or by filling out our online contact form.

5 Common Myths Regarding Car Accidents and Whiplash

Whiplash is a very common injury associated with rear-end collisions and other types of motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, the sheer force that causes whiplash can lead to other serious conditions, including debilitating chronic pain. The validity of a whiplash claim often comes under question, but it is a real condition that many accident victims suffer. For any victim, it is important to understand the myths about whiplash and be educated on the facts.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash typically occurs in a rear-end car accident. When the vehicle pushes violently forward, the individual in the car will be pushed forward, creating a whipping motion. When the neck, shoulders, and torso are forced to move out of the ordinary range of motion, it leads to damage to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

What are the Common Whiplash Myths?

Symptoms of whiplash go away in just a few days. It is a common misconception that whiplash is a temporary condition, but it can take up to a month to recover from this injury. In some cases, victims will have chronic pain that lasts for up to a year. Whiplash can include difficulty in moving the affected area; muscle spasms and pain; and nausea, headaches, and other complications.

Attorneys make it easy for people to seek compensation. Many believe that the no-win-no-fee model used by personal injury lawyers will draw in people who will file frivolous claims. That is rarely the case, however. Instead, these attorneys provide a way for injured people to receive compensation by a qualified attorney who can represent them fairly.

Whiplash is impossible to diagnose, and a doctor’s testimony is not required for a personal injury claim. Traditional diagnostic imaging tools often do not show proof of injury, which causes some to question the condition. However, a medical professional can accurately diagnose whiplash by examining the patient’s symptoms and performing an assessment.

Injured people are better off dealing with insurance companies than attorneys. After an accident, a victim will be approached by an insurer. However, settling a claim without a personal injury attorney is never ideal. An attorney ensures that current and future medical expenses are addressed and that the compensation is fair for the victim’s injuries, pain, and suffering.

Whiplash is a controversial injury and juries do not believe victims. Whiplash claims cost billions each year, but rarely are those claims fictitious. In fact, whiplash claims are notorious for leading to chronic pain and disability. While a claimant may be painted as an insurance fraud, the reality is that whiplash is a real, very serious injury that has a life-long impact on the victim. Therefore, they have a right to collect compensation for that suffering.

Contact Ethan Vessels Today

As you can see, whiplash injuries can be controversial, which is one of the reasons that you need the services of a personal injury attorney. Ethan Vessels is a trial lawyer with experience in car accident claims. Contact us today at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for experienced legal representation. Call 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you very soon.

Top Cellphone Apps That Combat Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a well-known danger on the roads, but hundreds of drivers still continue to drive while using their mobile phone or engaging in other forms of distracted driving.

In response to the threat of these devices, several app developers have worked on creating new applications that combat distracted driving.

Today, there are numerous apps to choose from that will stop distracted driving for teens and adults.


The Purpose of Distracted Driving Apps

Smartphones are powerful. They keep individuals connected, allow business professionals to conduct business on the go, and allow children to maintain contact with their parents. However, text messaging remains a common issue. It takes just one text message to take a driver’s eyes and attention off the road for five seconds. These apps are designed to stop distracted driving by shutting down notifications, sending replies to text message senders that their recipient is occupied, and more.

Tips for Choosing the Right App

  1. Make sure the app is compatible with the phone’s operating software, such as iOS or Android.
  2. Look for an app that blocks messages and phone calls.
  3. Verify that the app offers notifications to parents so that they can monitor teen drivers.
  4. Check if the app tracks miles driven safely and if there are rewards for distraction-free driving.

What are the Best Distracted Driving Apps Available Today?

LifeSaver App – LifeSaver combines GPS monitoring with cell technology to dramatically reduce instances of distracted driving. They have rewards for safe driving, and when engaged, the app blocks a person from using their phone while driving. Also, it will notify parents that their teen driver has reached their destination and parents can use the “Driver Portal” to monitor teen driving habits. Parents are in control of the rewards offered to their teens. LifeSaver also works for commercial fleet managers that want to limit employee distractions.

AT&T DriveMode – AT&T released their DriveMode app for iOS and Android systems. It blocks texting and receiving phone calls while operating a vehicle. It can be set so that it automatically starts blocking when the vehicle is moving faster than 15 miles per hour. Also, parents can receive notifications if their teen tries to change a setting or deactivate the app. This app is very user-friendly.

TrueMotion – TrueMotion is free for iOS and Android system phones. It has unique features that other distracted driving apps do not, including a trip score that rates a person’s driving and moments that they might have been distracted.

Drive Beehive – This app connects drivers with sponsors who can set rewards for the specific number of miles safely driven.

Most safe driving apps are free or come with a nominal fee. Considering what they could do for a person — including saving a person’s life — paying a few dollars is always worth it to have an app that limits or stops distracted driving.

Car Accident Attorney, Ethan Vessels

If you or a loved one are hurt from a distracted driving car accident, contact Ethan Vessels at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for possible legal representation. Ethan has years of experience as a trial lawyer, and he knows how to win. Contact us today at Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels for experienced legal representation. Call 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you very soon.

Why Should I Have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

It is estimated that 1 out of 7 drivers in the U.S. are uninsured or underinsured. If you are involved in an accident where the other driver is at-fault, typically their liability coverage would be responsible for any medical bills and auto repair costs. However, if the driver does not carry any – or not enough – insurance, you may be left paying out of pocket.

In order to protect yourself, it is recommended that you purchase uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage from your insurance company. Regular car insurance coverage protects other drivers from damages you cause, and uninsured/underinsured coverage protects you from damages caused by other drivers.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

It is important to note that the uninsured/underinsured policies provide liability coverage for the other driver. Therefore, you still have to prove that the other driver is at fault, that your injuries were caused by the accident, and that the treatment for those injuries was reasonable.

Purchasing this coverage is a backup plan, as is all insurance purchases. No one plans on getting into an accident, but they happen, and sometimes they happen due to the fault of either an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If you are involved in this type of accident, having the extra insurance allows the insurance company to cover all of your costs up to the policy’s limit. If the at-fault driver only has the bare minimum coverage required, then he or she likely will not be able to cover all the expenses, and the underinsured coverage will fill in the gaps.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Usually Offers Two Types of Protection

Bodily Injuries Coverage (UMBI) The uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can cover not only car damages but bodily injuries as well if you choose to add this coverage. The bodily injury insurance would cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and funeral costs for you and any passengers in your vehicle.

Property Damage Coverage (UMPD) This type of coverage is not offered in all states, but if available, it may be worth consideration. This type of protection covers damages made to personal properties such as a house, fence, or even cell phones and other electronics.

State Requirements

Insurance requirements vary by state. Approximately half of all states require some type of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Some states even require that the coverage is offered, and if you want to decline, you must put it in writing.

Call an Attorney Who Has Experience with Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

If you have been in an accident where the at-fault driver does not carry enough or any insurance, you should call an attorney with experience. Attorney Ethan Vessels represents clients from Ohio and West Virginia. He is the author of the book “I have been injured. What are my legal rights?” If you would like to request a free copy of the book or schedule a consultation, please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.

Should You Feel Guilty for Wanting Compensation for Your Injuries?

Guilt is often felt by potential claimants. After a serious accident or injury, some people choose to suffer in silence instead of pursuing a claim, no matter how obvious the fault may be. The insurance industry has succeeded in labeling claimants as greedy plaintiffs, but seeking fair compensation for an injury is not greedy. If you sustained an injury in a car accident and accrued numerous medical bills and missed work, it is entirely appropriate to request compensation.

Claimant Stereotypes

The term “sue happy” has been used to describe the culture in America, claiming no matter the situation, people turn to lawsuits to fix any problem. Over the last several years, the media has shared some outrageous injury claims with the public. These stories are often sensationalized, and viewers do not get all the facts.

The most famous case was when a Mrs. Liebeck sued McDonald’s after she spilled hot coffee in her lap. The public immediately assumed the worst (spurred by the media) and concluded that the lady was looking for a lawsuit. They labeled her before knowing the details of the story. The coffee Mrs. Liebeck spilled was served at 185 degrees, and McDonald’s knew anything above 140 degrees was a burn hazard. Furthermore, there were roughly 700 claims filed by other people who had been burned by McDonald’s coffee. Mrs. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her body. She underwent skin grafting and spent a week in the hospital. In the end, she received $200,000 in compensatory damages and $480,000 in punitive damages. The jury clearly ruled that Mrs. Liebeck had truly suffered, but the story was fabricated to be a sensationalized story.

People may feel ashamed to be associated with this “sue happy” stereotype and want to keep their pride, but the only people who benefit from a claim not being pursued are the insurance companies.

Do I Deserve Compensation?

Potential claimants may also struggle with feeling like they are getting something for nothing. Some people still strongly identify with the philosophy of “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” This strong work ethic is admirable, but should not overrule compensation for which you are entitled. If you have been injured in an accident, remember the time you missed work and the medical bills you accumulated. You are not getting a free ride, but you are being compensated for what you lost. Being hurt is an extreme imposition on your life. It affects your productivity both at work and home, and it diminishes your quality of life. Why should you suffer because of another person’s negligence?

Call Fields, Dehmlow & Vessels in Marietta, Ohio

Do not wait too long before talking with an attorney, because the statute of limitations allows a certain timeline for which an injury claim can be filed. You should act fast and call a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case and what options are available to you.

Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced local personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio. He is licensed in Ohio and West Virginia and is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.

Elder Fraud & Financial Abuse

Financial abuse of the elderly is increasing. Only one in 44 cases of financial abuse are reported. Family members or close friends account for 90% of abusers, which makes the victims reluctant to pursue legal action. Read further to understand ways in which elderly people are exploited and the common scams that are used by professional con artists.

Exploitation by Family Members

Many elderly people have a “Power of Attorney,” which gives financial authority to the person of their choosing. A family member could steal this money for his or her own use or could take advantage of the finances by being the joint owner of a bank account with an elder relative. ATM cards and checks may be used to withdraw money, and cash and valuable items such as jewelry can be stolen.

Exploitation by Home Health Providers

In-home care professionals may charge for services never performed. They may keep change from store purchases and pay their own personal bills with the elder patient’s funds. The worker could even falsify time records and spend work hours to run personal errands.

Scams by Professionals

Seniors are often targeted by professional con artists because of their financial security, trusting nature, home accessibility, and potential memory problems. Older people control about 70% of the nation’s wealth. Professionals know who to target and have become very skilled with their pitch.

Home repair scams. Traveling con men may approach the home, stating they are in the area for a short time and can repair something inexpensively. Also, beware of people saying they are from a utility company. One person may ask for help outside while another teammate goes inside and steals the elderly person’s possessions.

Lottery scams. These will claim that the elderly person has already won, and now, they just need to share their financial information to cover the cost of the associated taxes.

Charity scams. Individuals will ask for donations for a good cause and then pocket the money for themselves.

Investment scams. Unrealistic returns being promised is a warning sign. Anyone who claims to be a financial planner or dealer should be properly licensed.

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Large bank withdrawals or unusual activity
  • Missing possessions
  • Unpaid bills
  • Unusual new friends
  • New names on bank accounts
  • Sudden changes in a will and the beneficiaries
  • Isolation
  • Debt collector calls and/or letters
  • Someone refusing to get the medical care needed for the elderly victim

What to do if you suspect Elder Financial Abuse

If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder financial abuse, there are several ways to report the situation. You could call the local law enforcement and file a report, and/or you could call the local Adult Protective Services.

You should seek legal counsel if you want the wrong-doer to be reprimanded and/or recover what assets were compromised. Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced attorney in Marietta, Ohio, and he is ready to discuss your case. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form.