News

Traffic Safety for Community Upheld in Trailer Runaway Case

The Publication, verdictsearch.com, recently published a significant traffic safety case. Tom Wuori of RINGSMUTHWUORI PLLC was contacted to represent a family from Northern Michigan involving a crash and injuries from a trailer runaway case in the Upper Peninsula.  Statistically,  thousands and thousands of runaway trailers cause significant injury and death on our public highways. In this case,  the responding  police reported the crash as being just an “accident.” The driver of the truck with the attached work trailer said that it just happened and maybe it was a defective hitch. However, following significant investigation into responding 911 callers and identifying other witnesses with knowledge of how the load on the trailer was loaded, a different story emerged.  We presented a significant and what we believed was truthful evidence from independent witnesses who established that the known and accepted community safety rules that protect us all were violated. Among those known safety rules are (1) all drivers must use safe and properly equipped trailers; (2) all drivers must use safety chains (and that are well-maintained and not old, rusted, and bent); (3) all drivers must have and use safety equipment such as lights and brakes; (4) all loads must be loaded safely and secured so that the trailer does not sway and swing; and (5) all drivers must drive slow enough to keep the trailer safe and if not stop and pull over.  What we presented was strong evidence that (1) the trailer that ultimately became unsecured and went travelling down US 2 until it crashed into our client’s truck was old, improperly equipped, and unsafe; (2) the lights weren’t hooked up, the safety chains were not hooked up or were so old and bent as to become useless, (3) contrary to what the driver said, the load was not secured with safety straps and was loaded so that the trailer was prone to swing and sway, and (4) the trailer, according to the witnesses who called 911, was in fact swinging and swaying significantly and they saw it well down the road and commented that “that guy is going to lose that trailer.” The trailer missed them when it did unhitch down the road but struck our client, who was significantly injured. 

There are many resources for trailer hauling on the internet and from public agencies, including police, auto clubs, and trailer or hitch manufacturers.  This case did not involve a defective hitch but when the trailer driver blamed them, they had to hire an attorney to respond to those claims and they joined with us in showing what really happened.  Community safety is important and only when jurors choose to enforce safety rules in these types of cases can we help obtain safety in the future.  Otherwise, if jurors give passes to rule violators, what happened in the past will continue to happen in the future.  The citizen juror can be the highest office in the land, and one of the most important, when these types of safety cases have to be filed and heard by a jury.

 

Verdict/Settlement


Boating Collisions and Injuries

As we approach the spring and summer seasons, boating safety should become a topic for discussion among family members. Michigan, with its expansive coastlines among multiple Great Lakes, to say nothing of the numerous smaller lakes, rivers, and impoundment, has one of the more significant uses of recreational watercraft in the nation. Without fundamental attention to the required boating safety rules, dangerous accidents will occur. The boating statistics for the nation and Michigan can be accessed here: http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.php. While they show that safety training and enforcement of the safety rules is helping reduce some of the serious collisions and deaths, unsafe boating practices are still causing many serious injuries and death. These can range from boaters not paying attention to where and what they are doing, intoxicated operation of water craft, to reckless driving, among others. 

There are requirements for boating operations and there are safety courses leading to boating safety certificates: https://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/ The Official Michigan Boater Safety Handbook is important: https://www.boat-ed.com/michigan/handbook

Be aware of your surroundings and the skills and training of those with whom you are boating, including your children. Spotters are required for tubing and skiing and one of the common safety-rule violations is the driver’s failure to maintain a proper and safe lookout (at all times).  How many times have you seen the driver looking backwards and not forwards or driving too fast or recklessly? While there is the appearance of fun, there are many dangers and injuries each year throughout Michigan and the nation because of safety-rule violations.  

A conservation or DNR officer will also be looking for boat safety—including do you have the correct amount and type of life preservers, do you have a fire extinguisher, and whether or not there is alcohol on board the vessel. 

There are Federal Boating Safety Rules as well, and which are incorporated as part of Michigan’s safe boating rules. http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent

 


MARCH is Head Injury Awareness Month

While head injuries can and do occur throughout each and every year, there are also times when outdoor activities increase so does the risk of head injuries.  These can range from bike riding to rollerblading and skateboarding to other sports.  Soccer, for example, was recently in the news because of a study of a young man who was an accomplished youth, high school, and college soccer player but who died at a young age.  His family had the head injury group studying the effects of football (and now other sports) on the brain (chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)). This particular player was estimated to have had thousands and thousands of sub-concussive blows from practices and games over his lifetime but these sub-concussive blows lead to significant findings of CTE in this young man.  Many parents are now having their children wear protective headgear specifically for soccer players (for head collision protection and headers) or restricting headers. 

There are many resources online and through local brain injury resource centers about head injuries and care and treatment.  For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent references about concussions and head injury causes, care and treatment, and long-term effects:  http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html

 Concussions are serious injuries that are now being recognized for the serious and potentially long-term consequences they can cause.  Each person is different, but each person’s brain is important.  While the medical terminology categorizes brain injuries as mild, moderate, and severe, it is established in the medical field that a clinical diagnosis of a mild traumatic brain injury is a serious injury and is not to be misunderstood as non-serious.  Moreover, most mild traumatic brain injuries will not be revealed from diagnostic tests because those tests cannot always detect the microscopic harms that have occurred.  The CDC and many specialists recognize that MTBI can have serious and long-term impact on a person’s cognitive, physical and psychological function.  Many times the real effects are not known or appreciated until the person goes back to work, or as school demands increase (from 3rd grade to 8th grade science or math, for example). 

 There are estimates that a traumatic brain injury occurs once about every 16 seconds throughout the United States.  Many of these injuries are caused by people choosing to violate fundamental safety rules that govern our lives and protect everyone.  While not every head injury is preventable, many are.  And the resources for and awareness about head injuries continue to grow.

 There are free apps about head injuries and prevention, including the signs and symptoms of concussions to bike helmet and car safety. 

 Because of the rise of military actions and experience with explosions (IEDs), military members and their families, and military medical specialists, are well aware of the consequences of a traumatic brain injury.  Military members are also seeing an increase in awareness about TBIs and treatment, ranging from vision therapy to speech therapy and counseling needs:  http://www.peninsulawarrior.com/news/health/traumatic-brain-injury-awareness-month-highlights-resources/article_413999c0-b922-11e4-8057-5b2ac451e93d.html

 Choose to Be Safe and Aware. 


VACCINES AND NATIONAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM

 

The Centers for Disease Control have continued to report on epidemic levels of flu throughout the country. 
 
There also has been recent news articles about the pros and cons of vaccines and their effectiveness and risks. 
 
About 80 percent of disease is transmitted through touch and routine, but proper hand-washing can be one of the simplest practices to follow. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/cold-prevention-hand-washing  
 
In the event that someone does become ill and have a complication from a vaccine, there is a legal remedy that Congress created years ago called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is a Fund that was established under the federal legislation and is funded by a small percentage/tax that allows for those injured by a vaccine to seek compensation for any such injury or death. It is a federal law claim where you can hire an attorney and seek to present your claims that you or a loved one was injured by the vaccine. The case/claim has to be filed in federal court and in the Federal Court of Claims, where your attorney will have to be admitted to practice. The cases are heard before a Special Master and evidence can be presented, along with attorney arguments, to establish the causation link between the vaccine and the injury. There are essentially three different types of claims that can be presented and require medical proofs (and which can include aggravation of a pre-existing condition by the vaccine). The court is based in Washington D.C., but it allows for video-conferencing (testimony and argument).
 
This legal remedy is not well-known but it’s existence will be beneficial for those small percentages of the population who do suffer health problems from a vaccine. There is a wide variety of research and discussion about vaccines (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/side-effects.html) but many people are unaware of a legal remedy because of a complication, which the government established as part of a comprehensive law to provide an adequate supply of vaccines, control costs, and provide a legal framework by which those injured by vaccines can seek assistance upon appropriate proof of causation.  

CARBON MONOXIDE DANGERS

As the winter season begins, inevitably the risk of carbon monoxide exposure and poisoning increases. Furnaces are turned on, heaters are used, and snowfall can pile up and cause airflow blockages that can lead to carbon monoxide dangers. Inside homes and businesses, carbon monoxide may occur because of a back-drafting heating appliance, stoves, heaters, a faulty chimney, a faulty or unmaintained furnace, or blocked air flow/vents, among many others. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless gas and can be deadly. It forms during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels containing carbon. Exposure to carbon monoxide can inhibit the transport of oxygen to the blood and cause serious health problems and lead to death. Thus, the use of the carbon monoxide detectors is critical. The maintenance and checking of these detectors is equally important. 

Recently, the firm has resolved several cases involving carbon monoxide exposure at hotels in the swimming pool areas, causing damage to multiple people. 

Upon investigation in all of the cases were dangers and defects from, among other problems, a rusted vent pipe that caused carbon monoxide not to be vented outside properly and a blocked air intake and unmaintained heaters. Even in residential homes, fireplaces and attic fans can create back drafts and prevent the proper air exchange/venting of carbon monoxide into the home. 

Below are links to some government links addressing carbon monoxide dangers and safe practices to address carbon monoxide protection:

NFPA – Carbon Monoxide safety tips

Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

Carbon Monoxide Safety Facts and Tips – How to prevent poisoning from a gas with no odor.

Safety Tips | Safe Kids Worldwide

Top 10 Tips on Carbon Monoxide Safety | Quantum Group Inc.

 


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