An Overview of Silicosis

Silica or silicon oxide is perhaps one of the most common compound minerals found in nature, existing in various forms in soil, rock and sand. Its variety and abundance has made it an important component in many industries including construction, electronics, and food. As a consequence, it is estimated that more than 2 million workers in the US may be at risk for a medical condition called silicosis.

Silica can be present in the air as dust when working with materials that contain them such as concrete as extremely tiny particles that can be inhaled by anyone who is in the immediate area such as Nashville residents around a road being built. This is called respirable silica dust. Because it is so small, even a relatively small amount of silica can create a heavy concentration of silica dust. Somewhat similar to asbestos, when the silica particles are inhaled, they get into the lungs. This builds up over time and develops into a condition called silicosis, a type of pneumoconiosis, which is considered an occupational disease for workers who are repeatedly exposed to the dust. On average, 250 workers in the US die from silicosis every year.

The main problem with silicosis is that it makes it difficult for the patient to breathe, causing a perennial shortness of breath, and weakens the immune system so that the risks of developing respiratory, autoimmune and infectious diseases are much greater than a person without silicosis. And because there is no cure for silicosis, the only way to manage it is to do preventive measures. As any Nashville personal injury lawyer may point out, it is the responsibility of employers and contractors to ensure the safety of their workers and other people from silica exposure to prevent silicosis.

There are three types of silicosis: acute (heavy exposure over a short time); chronic (regular exposure over an extended period ~10 years); and accelerated (regular exposure over a longer time ~20). It is difficult for the sufferer to detect the early symptoms of the disease because they can appear to be symptoms of a cold or flu (dry coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, feelings of tiredness). Some remain asymptomatic for years after exposure. If a person begins developing silicosis, the disorder will progress even when there is no further exposure to the mineral.

If you have contracted silicosis or other injury due to silica exposure, you may be able to get compensation from the responsible party. Consult with a toxic exposure in your area to discuss your legal options.

Staying Green in Infancy

happy babyBeing a baby is not exactly the best thing for the environment. Babies, like all humans, can contribute to pollution. While this is kind of inevitable in our consumption-driven capitalist society, there are ways parents can reduce baby’s carbon footprint.

One of the easiest ways to help curb baby-related pollution is to simply recycle your baby products. All those glass jars baby food comes in can be either repurposed in some cute DIY project, or simply sent to the recycling plant.

Another huge baby contribution to pollution is one-use diapers. Aside from being filled with baby waste, disposable diapers take up a great deal of space in landfills and smell bad. While it is definitely more work, having reusable cloth diapers can drastically cut back on baby-related pollution. Think about it: A baby can go through several disposable diapers a day. Over the course of a few years (until baby can go potty by herself), this will add up to hundreds of diapers being disposed of. Additionally, you’ll save a lot of money not buying a new package of diapers every few weeks.


Radiology Errors as Medical Practice

Attending physicians are often targeted for medical malpractice lawsuits for delayed or wrong diagnosis, but they are not always the only parties concerned. In most cases, a physician will make a diagnosis based on results from blood work and radiology.

Radiology is a specialty field of medicine dealing with the use and interpretation of the products of various imaging technologies. Film X-ray radiology are the most commonly recognized technique, but there are also other techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET). Each of these techniques has a specific use, but they are all primarily diagnostic tools. A radiologist is a doctor who is qualified not only to perform the test but to interpret the raw data. A radiology technician, on the other hand, is only trained to take the images but is not qualified to “read” them.

The interpretation of the radiologist of what is in an image is what reaches the attending physician, which will use it together with other data to make a diagnosis. According to the website of law firm Crowe & Mulvey, LLP in New Hampshire, errors in reading the image are more common than people know. If the interpretation is wrong, or there was a perceptual error (missed something), the attending physician is likely to make a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which can both have serious consequences for a patient who needs to be treated correctly in a timely manner.

Yet this is an aspect of medical malpractice that is often overlooked because of a multiplicity of errors. While fault may not lie entirely with the radiologist, it is important that they are also held accountable to minimize the occurrence of preventable errors in interpretation and perception of diagnostic images.

If you have suffered harm because of a delayed or wrong diagnosis, there may be others responsible aside from or instead of the attending physician. Bring your medical records to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney experienced in handling diagnostic error cases to get an accurate assessment of who should be held liable and sued for in your potential medical malpractice case. An experienced attorney will be able to determine the most likely defendant for your case to succeed against.

‘Ware Elevator and Escalators!

It may seem like a pretty bad premise for a movie, like sharks attacking from the air, but elevators and escalators can be more dangerous than you think. If you are like millions of people who use these contraptions several times every day and never had an accident, it may be difficult to believe that anything bad can happen. But just like walking along the sidewalk leading to your house and having a piano fall on you, anything is possible.

In general, most elevator accidents happen in construction work sites, but they can also occur in passenger elevators. There are several ways that elevators and escalators can seriously ruin your day. These include but not limited to:

  • Sudden starts and stops
  • Floor shifting or lurching
  • Uneven floor or steps
  • Missing steps
  • Failure to open (elevators)
  • Comb plate or side entrapments
  • Falls

Elevators, especially, have had its share of accidents over the years since the modern elevator was first invented in 1823. But because it is so convenient, especially if you live on the 98th floor with bags of grocery to carry, the government imposed a whole lot of laws and regulations to make it safer rather than scrap the whole thing. The same is true of escalators, although to a lesser degree. Today, riding an elevator or escalator should be completely safe.

Like with any mechanical contraption, regular maintenance and inspection are crucial in keeping them working properly. When an elevator or escalator malfunctions and causes an injury, it is most likely that some regulation had been broken. According to the website of the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C. in Austin, the failure to maintain property (and its components) properly to prevent injury constitutes negligence, and may be actionable. You will need a competent lawyer experienced in premises liability cases to help you get compensation for your injuries.

But before that happens, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The next time you step inside an elevator, you may want to first check out the inspection sticker.

Bankruptcy: Cutting your Losses

Stick-to-itiveness is something that is considered a virtue. It is that characteristic that is often associated with someone who refuses to be defeated by the odds. That is true in most cases, but it is also a virtue to know when to throw in the towel.

Circumstances sometimes create a situation where you just can’t win no matter what you do, and while going down with a sinking ship may be noble, there are more important things. IN cases where financial troubles threaten to overwhelm you, you have to cut your losses and save what you can from the wreckage. This is where bankruptcy is the ideal option.

Bankruptcy can get you out of debt, stop foreclosure, and help you make a fresh start. You will not have to contend with debt collectors, and you can start concentrating on changing your lifestyle to foster better financial management and avoid getting into such a situation again. There was a time when filing for bankruptcy was considered an admission of failure, but that is no longer the case. With proper management, filing for bankruptcy could be the smartest thing you will ever do.

Of course, bankruptcy is not the answer to everything, and it is not all roses. There are consequences to filing for bankruptcy depending on the type you file for, and bankruptcy laws have safeguards to prevent true slackers from taking advantage of its protections. This can make it difficult for those truly deserving a break to file, which is where the bankruptcy lawyer can be very important.

A lawyer that specializes in bankruptcy law will know how you can derive the maximum benefit for your filing. The lawyer will also take care of the documentation, minimizing delays due to technical errors. Considering that a successful filing could mean saving your home from foreclosure and retaining what you need to make a new life for yourself and your family, it is something that you want to invest in.

Recent Developments in Depakote, DePuy and Risperdal Litigation

Civil lawsuits typically take a long time to come to trial, and for drug companies, the costs can be prohibitive, especially if the verdict goes against them. In most cases, a settlement is preferred, but it really depends on the terms of the settlement.

Abbott Laboratories chose to settle the civil suits filed against them by the state and federal governments for the marketing of Depakote, an anti-seizuredrug, to nursing homes for health conditions the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not approve it for. The settlement reached $1.6 Billion after four years of investigations. The settlement was to reimburse public healthcare systems that paid for the medication, and did not include lawsuits filed by individuals for adverse side effects of Depakote which included congenital malformations and other birth defects. The civil lawsuits allege a failure to warn, and are currently ongoing.

DePuy, on the other hand, continues to battle it out before a judicial panel in multidistrict litigation which alleges that a defective hip implant of either the DePuy ASR or Pinnacle Hip Implant type caused serious health problems in patients. It had earlier offered a multi-state settlement of $4 billion to cover more than 8,000 claims on the condition that at least 94% of those claimants would opt in. In the meantime, more cases are being filed and there are now in excess of 14,000 cases pending.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals successfully appealed a multibillion verdict in a state case brought before the Arkansas Supreme Court on a technicality.  However, it agreed to settle with civil litigants for the off-label marketing of their product Risperdal for a $1.25 billion pot. It is an anti-psychotic drug that was approved for short-term treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but not for dementia.  As mentioned in an article on the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, the company also made no mention of the risk of gynecomastia (breast enlargement in males) with the use of the product in the warning label.

These are just three of the dangerous medical products that have come to the public’s attention in recent history, but there are more out there. If you suffered serious side effects from a drug or medical device which you were not warned about, it could be an actionable case. Consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling cases against drug companies to find out more.

Claiming for Workers’ Comp and SSD Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) processes claims for individuals with enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD). However, the SSD is limited in its scope; it will only process claims for conditions that is like to last for at least 12 months. You are generally disqualified if you are earning more than $1,070 a month on average, even if you used to make much more in the job you held when your became disabled. It should also be included in the list of accepted medical conditions and severe enough to preclude you from doing the work you used to do.

An alternative to SSD would be workers’ compensation insurance, which covers all types of disabilities. However, the disability benefits under workers’ comp are finite, and the amount for partial disability depends on the affected body part and the impairment rating of the physician. For example, loss of a third finger will be covered for 25 weeks while loss of a thumb will be covered for 60 weeks.

It is possible to claim disability benefit from both workers’ comp and SSD insurance. These are not mutually exclusive programs, and benefits received from one will not affect the other. However, it is not easy to make a claim for either. Workers’ comp is a no-fault insurance, so processing should not take too long unless the employer or insurance company disputes the claim. On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of all SSD claims are initially denied, and the appeal process can take months.

It may facilitate making a claim for disability benefits if an experienced workers’ comp or SSD lawyer is on board from the start. Both programs are often confusing to the layperson and it is fatally easy to make mistakes that can cause a claim to be delayed or denied. A competent lawyer will know how to work the system to get the maximum benefit for the client.