Driving Safely Near Semi-trucks

Semi-trucks are a common fixture on interstates and roadways. They can be tricky to maneuver around and if you get into a crash with one, it is most likely to result in serious injury. A common rule of thumb is to give truckers plenty of room.

Common Hazards with Semi-trucks

Tire Blowouts. Most people who drive on the interstate are likely to have seen chunks of rubber scattered along the side of the road. These are the result of a tire blowout from a semi-truck. A loaded truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, and that amount of weight adds extreme stress to the tires. Truck drivers usually swerve when blowouts occur, and chunks of the tire will fly in all directions.

Heavy Winds. Although semi-trucks are massive, they are still affected by strong winds. Their large size actually makes them more difficult to control, especially if they are not loaded. An unloaded truck can mimic a sailboat in heavy winds with random drifting and swerving in and out of lanes.

Blind spots. Every vehicle has blind spots, but semi-trucks are plagued by them. The passenger side has more blind spots than the driver side, so when passing be sure to do so on their left side, and pass quickly. The driver can only see another vehicle in their side view mirrors at certain times; the closer you get to the front of the truck, the less likely that they will see you.

Safety Tips

Statistics show that in more than 72% of semi-truck accidents, the fault lies with the other vehicle. Below are some tips to help navigate and share the roadways with our larger counterparts.

Give room for wide turns. Trucks need extra turning when space. They may even need to get into the oncoming traffic lane to successfully maneuver a turn. You should never try to sneak by them. When preparing to stop at a traffic light or stop sign, stop where the white guidelines are. They are marked at a certain spot so that other vehicles such as large semis have enough turning space.

Keep a safe following distance. Following too closely behind a semi puts you in a blind spot behind the truck. If a truck should quickly hit the brakes and you do not respond fast enough, you could get jammed underneath the truck. You also should never stop closely behind a truck on any type of hill because once the truck driver lets off the brake, it will likely roll back.

Pass safely and quickly. Make sure you can see the driver and then signal that you are changing lanes. Remember to pass on the left side of the truck because it has less blind spots. Accelerate and quickly pass the truck. Try to avoid passing trucks on a downgrade as they will pick up speed and you could get stuck driving in a blind spot.

Do not merge in front of them too closely. Merging quickly in front of a truck is dangerous. You need to be sure that there is plenty of space ahead of them before doing so. You may get rear-ended if you cut too close because a fully loaded semi takes the length of approximately three football fields to completely stop when traveling at high speeds.

Have You Been in a Semi-truck Accident?

No matter how defensively you drive, accidents can still happen. If you have been injured in a semi accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurance coverage on semi-trucks can get very complicated because they often have more than one carrier, and this can make the claims process tricky.

Ethan Vessels is an established personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio serving Ohio and West Virginia. He can help you through the claims process and negotiate reasonable compensation for your injuries. Please call 740-374-5346 or fill out our online contact form to discuss your claim.

Have You Suffered from a Surgical Error?

Undergoing any surgery, minor or life-changing, is a serious matter. Whether it is having tonsils removed, a heart transplant, or any other type of surgery, there are always risks involved. If surgery does result in an error, that does not necessarily mean medical malpractice was committed. Read further to understand when a surgical error equals medical malpractice and who should be held liable for the mistake.

Examples of Surgical Errors

A surgical error is a preventable mistake made during surgery. There are many types of surgical errors that can occur. These are some common errors:

  • Nerve damage
  • Incorrect anesthesia dosage
  • Leaving surgical equipment inside a patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part

Common factors that lead to errors

Insufficient Planning. The medical staff must always be aware of a patient’s medical history and of pre-existing conditions which could create complications. They should know all medications being taken and any possible side effects. Medical staff should ensure all equipment is cleaned properly and is available when needed by the surgeon.

Incompetence. Doctors go through years of training and studying, but not all doctors have the competence to perform surgeries. A surgeon may be inexperienced with a certain procedure, and therefore, a more experienced surgeon should either perform or supervise the surgery. Surgeons may also unwisely decide to skip a certain step during the surgery to save time, but any shortcuts can lead to an error.

Poor Communication. Miscommunication among the surgical staff can lead to serious consequences. The wrong body part could get marked for surgery, the patient’s medication and dosage could get mixed up, and surgical equipment could be missing or not be sanitized properly.

Neglect. This could include failure to properly sterilize surgical instruments or using defective equipment. Sometimes this is directly related to other areas such as poor communication or fatigue.

Fatigue, Drugs & Alcohol. Surgeons and the support staff work long, draining shifts. It is understandable that fatigue will set in occasionally, yet they have a responsibility to inform their superiors when they need rest or that another surgeon/staff member needs to be called in to perform or assist in the procedure so any mistakes can be avoided. Surgeons and their staff frequently deal with extremely stressful and emotional situations. Some staff members or surgeons may turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope. They may also turn to certain drugs in an effort to maintain energy and stay awake. No matter the reasoning, it is unacceptable for anyone to perform or assist in a surgery under the influence.When does a Surgical Error turn into Medical Malpractice?

When does a Surgical Error turn into Medical Malpractice?

If a surgical error occurs, that does not automatically mean someone is liable for medical malpractice. All surgeries involve risks and therefore, patients are typically required to sign an “informed consent” form stating that they understand these risks.

In order to have a viable medical malpractice claim, the following elements must exist:

The mistake has to fall below the medical standard of care. Doctors have a legal obligation to perform the standard of care needed and avoid foreseeable injury. It must be proven that the doctor failed to meet these standards of care. For example, if a surgeon left a surgical sponge in a body cavity after performing surgery, this would show a failure in maintaining a standard of care.

The doctor’s negligence must be the cause of the patient’s injury. This injury must also have caused damages, whether economic, non-economic, or both. As examples, lost wages, future earnings, and medical bills are economic damages, while pain, suffering, and emotional distress are non-economic damages.

Talk with an Experienced Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a surgical error, you should talk with an experienced malpractice attorney. Speaking with an attorney in a timely manner will help you avoid any difficulties with a statute of limitations. Call (740) 374-5346 or fill out a contact form, and we will get in touch with you.

Tips for Your Personal Injury Case

If you were hurt in a car accident and are trying to retrieve payment for medical bills and fair compensation for your suffering, you are involved in a personal injury claim. For many people, being involved in a car accident is the first time they’ve had to deal with a legal dispute, and therefore, are unaware of how to navigate the process. Below are some tips to help get you through your claim.

Do not talk to the insurance company before consulting with an attorney.

It’s important to understand the harm in talking to the insurance company, even if you know you will just state the facts about the accident. The problem is that you may unintentionally provide them with information to use against you. After an accident, your nerves are shaken because car accidents are traumatic events. If you talk to someone from an insurance company, you could inadvertently give too much information or information that is inconsistent.

Giving a statement is sometimes required, especially if your insurance company is the one paying for damages, and you don’t want to be labeled as uncooperative. Speaking with an attorney who knows how to navigate the questioning process is valuable. He or she will make sure the questions are limited and relevant.

Explain all the symptoms you are having to your doctor.

If you have been in an accident, it is important to seek medical attention for any aches and injuries you sustained. Even if you feel that your injuries are minor, you should see a doctor. A minor injury can last for weeks, and if left untreated, it could become more serious. It is better to see a doctor as soon as possible and document your injury than to wait and try to seek compensation at a later time.

It is also likely that anyone involved in an accident could have multiple injuries. However, it is quite common to have one injury that is more severe and painful than the others. It is understandable that this severe injury might overtake any thoughts of other injuries. It is wise, however, to make a conscious effort to think about the rest of your body. You can accomplish this by assessing how you feel from head to toe and asking yourself some questions. Does my neck hurt if I turn my head? Are my shoulders sore? Does my back hurt if I turn my waist? These are just samples of questions you should ask yourself so you can be aware of any injuries that should be assessed.

Your doctor will likely focus on your most severe injury first. The objective, however, is to make sure that all of your injuries are documented. For example, if you are being treated for an injury and after a few weeks or months you mention that your back has been gradually feeling worse since the accident, insurance adjustors will probably argue that your back pain is from an unrelated incident since it was not first documented along with your other injuries. It is best to speak up now in order to avoid aggravation later.

Avoid gaps in your treatment.

Once treatment for your injuries has begun, it is crucial to show up for your appointments. If you routinely miss appointments, the liability insurer will notice this. They may claim that if you were injured, later treatment is no longer necessary.

Check medical payments coverage under your insurance policy.

One of the first things you should do after an accident is to obtain a copy of the declarations page from your insurance policy. The declarations page will show whether you purchased medical payments coverage, which often referred to as Med-Pay.

Med-Pay is insurance that pays for medical bills sustained by you, family members, or anyone riding in one of your insured vehicles. This coverage is paid regardless of who is at fault. Some people may feel that it is unfair for their insurance to pay anything if they were not the ones at fault, so it’s important to understand that Med-Pay is a backup plan.

As an example, let’s say that you were injured in a car accident, and the other driver was at fault. You sustained a neck injury and were transported to the hospital via ambulance, so you now have a hospital bill. Some hospitals will put your bills on hold until your claim is settled, but others will not. There is no way to tell how long it could take to settle your claim and you do not want your bills sent to a collection agency. If you have the coverage, Med-Pay will pay your bill now, and later, when your case is settled against the at-fault party’s insurance company, your insurance company will be reimbursed for any payments made on your behalf.

Lost wages from your job are recoverable.

There must be documentation in your medical record in which your healthcare provider excused you from work or put you under restrictions that did not allow you to perform your job. You must be able to prove this. Your employer may choose to temporarily modify your job duties to allow you to return to work under light duty, and if that’s the case, you have a responsibility to return to work under these new conditions.

You have to be able to prove the wages that you lost. Typically, we give our clients a form for their employers to fill out to document this. There are different methods that can be used to determine the exact amount. If you work a routine schedule and know what hours you would have worked, we keep track of this and simply multiply the hours by your hourly wage. Overtime and bonuses, if they are not speculative, should be included in your lost wage claim. Another approach that can be used is to average your wages from the prior year.

Do not forget to mention if you used your vacation or sick time because of the injury because this is also compensable. This is a benefit you had to use because of the irresponsibility of the defendant.

Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

This area of law continues to become more complex and difficult to maneuver. Issues often arise regarding monetary disbursements. Some health insurance plans need to be paid back. Health insurance and healthcare providers may have liens on the recovery.  If lien holders are not properly paid back out of your settlement, you can face huge liabilities.  You may get a settlement offer that seems reasonable to you, accept it, then could potentially end up being sued for not recognizing liens. There are also healthcare providers or insurance companies that may seek more than you are required to pay them. This area alone usually requires legal guidance.

Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced and local personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio. He is licensed in both Ohio and West Virginia. Call our office today at 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you.

Why Should You Choose an NBTA Certified Attorney?

Many people are unsure of how to find a good attorney. Most people search on Google for attorneys in their area. While that might be a good first step, what comes after that?

Look for an attorney who is board certified.

The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is accredited by the American Bar Association. The board is dedicated to helping clients find the most highly qualified trial lawyers. The NBTA certifies lawyers in the areas of civil trial law, criminal trial law, family trial law, civil pretrial practice law, and social security disability advocacy law. Having this certification is not a requirement, so if an attorney went the extra mile to achieve this distinction, you can be sure that he or she is highly experienced and qualified.

Board certified lawyers go through a thorough screening process of their credentials. They must show proof of their experience, gather peer and judicial references, pass an exam, and report any and all officially reviewed disciplinary issues to the NBTA Standards Committee.

You want an attorney who is prepared to go to trial.

When you seek out an attorney, the hope is that your case can be settled without having to step foot in a courtroom. However, in order to achieve the desired outcome, it may be necessary to go to court. Should that happen, you want to rest assured that the attorney you choose is well prepared and experienced in front of a judge and jury.

There are many attorneys that have never argued a case in the courtroom. Do not be misled by appearances and advertising. Be sure to do your research. You do not want to feel pressured by your attorney to accept an unfair settlement so he or she can avoid the hassles of preparing for a trial.

Talk to an NBTA Certified Civil Trial Advocate.

Civil trial advocacy can include cases in the areas of personal injury, property disputes, insurance claims, and other civil disagreements. Monetary damages are often disputed in these civil litigations.

Though you hope your case will never go to trial, it is impossible to know how things will turn out. You should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. An NBTA Certified Civil Trial Advocate has experience, knowledge, and top-notch communication skills. They understand the complexity of group psychology and are able to use this understanding to impact a jury. A good trial lawyer always stays ahead of the game and is prepared for any bumps in the road.

Contact Attorney Ethan Vessels Today

If you live in Ohio or West Virginia and need to talk with a board certified attorney, call our office at 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form. Attorney Ethan Vessels is the only NBTA Certified Civil Trial Advocate within an 80-mile radius. He is licensed to practice in both Ohio and West Virginia and is ready to discuss your case.

What Should You Do if You’re Injured in a Car Accident?

What Should You Do if You’re Injured in a Car Accident?

Car accidents happen every day, and unfortunately, the reality is that at some point in our lives, we or someone we know will be involved in one. Whether it is a minor fender bender or a major collision, it is wise to have an idea of the steps to be taken to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Driver of the car is sitting thinking about somethingCall the police.

You should always call the police if an accident happens, no matter how minor. Once the police officers arrive at the scene, they will investigate, ask questions, and issue a police report. Having an official police report is crucial to an insurance claim because it establishes who is at fault and liable for the accident.

Write down the other driver’s information.

Be sure to get names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. In addition, get information from any passengers and witnesses as well. It is better to have too much information than too little.

Take pictures.

Most of us carry cell phones, and they can come in handy if an accident occurs. Take pictures of the accident scene and damages made to your vehicle.

Seek medical attention for any injuries.

It is vital that you seek treatment for any injuries you or any passengers sustained. You need to inform all healthcare providers treating you that you were involved in a car accident.

Many of us tend to brush off simple aches, but any injury to our spine, muscles, or joints can last for days or even weeks. It’s recommended that you visit a doctor or hospital immediately so they can document these injuries and begin treatment. This will result in a faster road to recovery and also serve as evidence of your injuries. If treatment is recommended for your injuries, don’t miss any appointments. Any missed appointment or gaps in your treatment will give the insurance company the chance to argue that you must not be hurt or in pain or you would have kept the appointments. This weakens your claim and negatively impacts possible compensation.

Consider talking to a personal injury attorney first.

If an injury occurs as the result of an accident, be skeptical of early offers made by insurance adjustors. Adjustors are interested in settling your claim for as little as possible, and they want to get to you before you talk to an attorney.

Usually, a person’s first concern when looking for an attorney is the cost involved. If you work with a contingent fee lawyer, you can stop worrying. Contingent fee lawyers will not take a fee unless they can obtain a settlement for your case.

Preparing for Your First Meeting With Your Personal Injury Lawyer

Preparing for Your First Meeting With Your Personal Injury Lawyer

In a previous article, I discussed the qualities you should look for in a personal injury attorney (trial experience, previous work with personal injury cases, a successful track record, etc). Once you have found the right lawyer, you will meet with him or her.

At the initial meeting, you should provide your attorney with as much evidence and information regarding your case as you can. Properly documenting police reports, medical reports, damage reports, photos, and/or eye-witness accounts allows for a stronger case.  Make sure to bring all correspondence from any insurance company.  Make sure to bring a copy of the “declarations page” for any insurance policy that you may have had in force. (The “declarations page” shows what types of coverage you had purchased and the amounts of coverage.)

The more documents that you can give your lawyer at the beginning of your case, the faster your lawyer can get your case moving.  Ultimately, this will yield a faster, and perhaps larger, settlement.



Slips on Snow or Ice

Slips on Snow or Ice

We typically receive several calls each winter regarding falls on ice or snow.  These slips and falls can be serious.  I once encountered a case in which a business patron actually had his leg amputated, resulting from complications of a fall on ice.

However, most people misunderstand what obligations property owners have regarding snow and ice. Contrary to popular belief, property owners and business owners generally have no duty to clear snow and ice.  (They often mistakenly believe that they do, and accordingly clear the ice and snow.)

In Ohio, snow and ice are considered general hazards of living in the northern parts of the United States.  Everyone is supposed to take care to avoid slipping on snow or ice.  In most cases, if a business owner fails to shovel the snow or put salt on ice, and you fall, you have no case against the business owner (or homeowner, or whomever).  Shoveling snow or removing ice is, legally speaking, merely a courtesy extended to the walking public.

There is one major exception, however.  If a property owner creates an unnatural accumulation of snow or icethen the owner can be liable.  For example, a property owner has a gutter that is facing in a direction that causes water to flow over a walking surface.  The water freezes and causes a slip hazard.  The owner can be liable in that situation.

More complicated are the “snow pile” cases.  Store owners with large parking lots plow the snow into large piles.  The snow starts to melt, creating new ice.  Courts have gone both ways on these cases.  Ultimately, whether the ice unnaturally accumulated will be the deciding factor.

If you think that you may have a case arising from a slip on ice, please call us at 740-374-5346.


Finding the Right Attorney

Finding the Right Attorney

How do you find the right lawyer in your injury case? My advice: do not just call the first lawyer in an ad that you see.

All attorneys market themselves, some more than others. The best-known lawyers in your area will be the ones with well-planned marketing campaigns. They will have television and radio commercials, billboard ads, catchy jingles, and a myriad of ways of making sure you remember their name.

These may be great lawyers. But, they may not. The quality of advertising doesn’t always correlate with an attorney’s quality of representation. Do your research before calling. Is this how you would choose your surgeon?

Ask around. Ask your doctor who they would recommend. Call a lawyer who you know does not handle injury cases. See who he or she would recommend. Research the injury lawyer’s experience and background on the internet.

Many lawyers will tout that they accept personal injury cases, but that does not mean that all lawyers are personal injury specialists. Technically, lawyers are not supposed to call themselves “specialists” (although some states do recognize certain specialty fields). However, there are lawyers who make an entire practice of injury litigation. If you have been injured, these are the attorneys you need to look for.

Make sure your lawyer is a trial lawyer. For some reason, this name has become politicized. Regardless, my experience is that few lawyers can, or will, actually try a personal injury case before a jury. You need to ask: “Have you tried a personal injury case to a jury?” “How many times?” You do not want to find out two days before trial that this is the first time for your lawyer. (You would be surprised that even lawyers with twenty years of experience have never tried a civil trial to a jury.)

You may need a further specialized lawyer. If your claim is a standard personal injury claim, an experienced personal injury lawyer will suffice; however, if you have received a workplace injury or an injury through medical negligence, then you should look into finding either a worker’s compensation lawyer or a medical malpractice lawyer.

Finally, you want an attorney that can devote sufficient time to your case and, if necessary, take your case to court. Good lawyers work on many cases at once and are used to handling the fast-paced nature of their occupation. That said, if your lawyer is completely bogged down with open cases, he or she may not be able to devote as much attention to your case as is necessary. Ask.

C.Diff Infections Caused by Antibiotics

C.Diff Infections Caused by Antibiotics

We are currently handing a case involving a C. diff. infection caused by an antibiotic.  That is right—an infection caused by an antibiotic.

Clostridium difficile (C.diff.) is a bacteria that is often found in the large intestines.  It is kept in check by the “good” bacteria that is normally found in the colon.

Many antibiotics, particularly the stronger antibiotics, will kill the “good” bacteria in the intestine, leaving the C.Diff. bacteria to grow unchecked.  The C.Diff. is a dangerous bacteria that can cause intestinal inflammation.  In minor cases, the patient will notice diarrhea.  In more severe cases, the patient may develop colitis—an inflammation of the bowels.   In still more severe cases, the C.Diff.-induced colitis can cause the large intestine to be injured so severely that the colon must be completely removed. The patient will live with a colostomy or ileostomy bad. And, yes, some people have died.

Sometimes, these infections are the result of medical negligence.  Antibiotics should only be prescribed for bacterial infections. Some of the stronger antibiotics, such as clindamycin, specifically warn that it should only be prescribed for confirmed bacterial infections that cannot be treated with other antibiotics.  In fact, clindamycin carries an FDA-mandated “black box” warning to this effect because of the risk of C.Diff.-induced colitis.

Most importantly, symptoms of the C. diff. infection may not begin for weeks after the patient has completed taking the antibiotic. The patient usually does not know to suspect the antibiotic as the cause of the diarrhea.

You may ask:  isn’t the patient responsible for reading this warning?  Not exactly.  Here is why. As a prescription drug, the pharmacy does not provide all of the drug information specific to that drug.  All the patient typically gets is the amber pill bottle with a sticker explaining how often to take the pills.  Sometimes, the pharmacy will provide a general drug information sheet, but these usually do not have the specific warnings about the drugs.  The information sheets that I have seen do not provide the “black box” warning, do not warn about C. diff. colitis, and do not warn that symptoms may not manifest for weeks after taking the drug.

The law requires that the physician warn the patient about a drug’s potential side effects. So, a physician or dentist must first be sure that the antibiotic is required—i.e., is there a bacterial infection?  Second, if it is indicated, the physician must warn the patient about the potential to develop a C.Diff. infection.  This can be as simple as, “If you develop diarrhea while you are taking this, or even in the six weeks after, call me.  Sometimes these types of antibiotics can cause an intestinal infection.”

Some doctors and dentists are not doing these things.  They prescribe powerful antibiotics when they are not sure of an infection.  Worse yet, they provide no warning to their patients. This places the patients in danger—unnecessary danger.  There have been a number of reported cases throughout the United States in which doctors have been held liable for this type of negligence.