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Back in September of 2012, Andre Walker, 30, suffered a serious injury due to a “gopher-infested soccer field in Ocean Beach,” according to a recent article in U-T San Diesoccer-ballgo. Earlier this month, Walker won a $450,000 settlement after filing a claim against the city in August 2013. While the specific facts of the case may seem like something out of a fictional narrative, the settlement emphasizes the importance of seeking compensation for injuries resulting from premises liability injuries.

Have you suffered a personal injury because improperly maintained premises? You may be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries. Don’t hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney.

Improperly Maintained Soccer Field

How did the plaintiff’s injury happen? In short, Robb Field, or the Ocean Beach Recreation Area, had serious hazards on its premises. While it doesn’t seem like the most likely cause of a severe personal injury, the field was littered with gopher holes. One of those gopher holes caused serious injury to Walker’s knee, which ultimately “required total knee reconstruction.”

A number of recreational users filed complaints with the city, urging it to properly maintain the soccer field. Indeed, during arbitration, Walker’s attorney presented letters from other soccer players “noting that dangerous conditions had led to injuries ranging from sprained ankles to fractured femurs.”

Walker’s lawyer also presented proof that “the city contracted with the lowest bidding pest control company in order to reduce the number of pocket gophers at the site.” And despite the fact that the city knew about the problem and sought bids to eradicate it, players continued to suffer injuries. To be sure, even after Walker’s knee injury, players continued to get hurt from the poorly maintained field.

Why? In short, the grounds manager at Robb Field indicated that the pest control firm from whom the city entered into a contract, Epic Pest Control Company & Landscape Services, Inc., “entered a bid too low to cover the costs of exterminating the gophers.”

Severe Injury and Long-Term Disability

Walker’s injury was an especially severe one. Stepping in the gopher hole caused a “complete rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament, meniscus, and other injuries to his knee.” As a result, he required a total knee reconstruction, and has also developed a condition called drop foot. This condition prevents Walker from “lift[ing] his foot up and down or us[ing] his lower leg for almost two years.” In addition, he’s likely to “experience long-term disability as a result of his injury.”

Since Walker filed his lawsuit and settled, the city has reportedly “taken steps to improve the condition of Robb Field.” The field still has gopher holes, but there are fewer than when Walker sustained his injury. In addition, the city has managed to “substantially reduce the gopher population,” which will result in fewer gopher holes over time.

Premises liability is a broad area of the law that allows injury victims to seek compensation when they’ve been hurt because of a property owner’s negligence. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises free of hazards. If you have sustained an injury on another person’s property, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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emergency roomWhen you’re admitted to a Southern California hospital for treatment or a routine surgery, are you at risk of being injured because of medical negligence?

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, ten different California hospitals received fines last month “after state health inspectors found deficiencies in care that resulted in one patient being abandoned on the side of the road to wait for transportation and another dying because a feeding tube was inserted incorrectly.” In short, investigators discovered serious issues relating to medical mistakes and medical malpractice.

Hospitals Fined Across Three Southern California Counties

When the California Department of Public Health issues fines to hospitals for medical mistakes, it releases inspection reports, along with a list of penalties, which “offer details into why and how the medical errors occurred.” Just last month, the department levied a total of $700,000 in fines to hospitals in Los Angeles county, San Bernardino county, and Riverside county.

What kinds of medical errors took place? The medical errors varied immensely from hospital to hospital, ranging from preventable medical mistakes to neglect.

Medical Mistakes and Hospital Liability

At Kaiser Permanente, a facility in Woodland Hills, inspectors confirmed that “a patient received 19 doses of three types of narcotic medications within a few hours and then died nine days later.” For that violation, the hospital received a fine of $50,000. While one of the medical professionals on staff might not have been the ones to improperly administer those fatal doses—investigators from the department learned that “a device that administers medications may have been too accessible to the patient’s family members”—the hospital still has a duty to that patient.

At Loma Linda University Medical Center, a resident physician’s mistake led to another $50,000 fine. At that hospital, the doctor “inserted a feeding tube that went into the patient’s lung instead of the stomach.” The error proved to be a fatal one. A statement from the facility emphasized that it’s “a teaching hospital,” and that its staff “carefully stud[ies] critical events to identify opportunities to improve systems and practices of patient care.” The adverse event occurred in 2010, and the medical center hasn’t been implicated in similar medical mistakes since then.

Patient Neglect and Preventable Deaths

In addition to active mistakes committed by the hospitals and their employees, some facilities were fined for injuries and deaths that resulted from neglect. For instance, at Southwest Healthcare in Murrieta, a “47-year-old patient suffering from pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney dysfunction” died in the emergency room “as a result of a delay in care and medications.”

The California Department of Public Health fined the facility $100,000.

Southwest Healthcare has been implicated in a number of serious and fatal medical errors in recent years, and the $100,000 fine was the 13th one it has received. Safety advocates are urging state officials to take specific actions against hospitals that “repeat medical errors.”

Medical errors and medical malpractice are much more common than any of us would like to believe. Indeed, an article in NPR cited medical mistakes as the third-leading cause of preventing deaths in the country. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury as a result of medical negligence, you should seek legal counsel. Contact an experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorney today to discuss your options.

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Late last month, a commuter train crash led to 30 serious personal injuries. Now, the top prosecutor in Ventura County is deciding whether or not to bring criminal charges, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.

Train accidents and derailments can be devastating, often resulting in severe and fatal injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured in a train collision, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer. You may be able to file a claim for compensation.

Details of the Train Accident

What happened in Oxnard? According to reports, three out of five train cars on a Metrolink commuter train derailed after it crashed into a truck in the early hours of the morning. Images from the crash show that the derailed cars “tumbled onto their sides,” leaving four people with critical injuries. Investigators initially arrested the truck driver, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, for “leaving the scene of an injury accident.” Given that many Southern California cities have witnessed a rise in hit-and-run accidents over the last year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that law enforcement agencies are taking the train crash very seriously.

Investigators have indicated that they continue to seek information about the crash, and a video of the train derailment was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. for additional analysis, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. By and large, investigators aren’t exactly sure how the accident happened.

Sanchez-Ramirez argues that, while driving his Ford F-450 truck and trailer over the track, it “became stuck,” and Sanchez-Ramirez “tried unsuccessfully to get it moving again.” When he saw the train coming, he got out of the vehicle and “ran for help,” his attorney indicated. The driver’s lawyer pointed out that Sanchez-Ramirez did all that he could to prevent the accident, as he “turned on his high beams and tried to extricate the truck from the tracks, even getting out to push it, but it wouldn’t move.”

Reports indicate that the Metrolink train crashed into the truck, turning Sanchez-Ramirez’s vehicle into “a fireball,” which resulted in 28 passengers being rushed to nearby hospitals. The train engineer, in addition to two other passengers, remained in critical condition as of late last week.

Liability for the Dangerous Crash

Who is liable for the accident? Sanchez-Ramirez’s initial arrest suggests that the truck driver may have behaved not only negligently, but also criminally, when he fled the scene. However, investigators have emphasized that they need to finish their investigation before any decisions will be made about a criminal prosecution.

We do know that the police located Sanchez-Ramirez more than a mile from the scene of the crash. The driver also has a history of traffic violations, including a DUI, failure to obey a police officer, and failure to obey a traffic control device.

Even if prosecutors don’t elect to file criminal charges, the driver still may be liable for damages. When a loved one suffers injuries in a serious automobile accident, it’s important to talk with an experienced California accident lawyer about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Home fires can be extremely dangerous, and they can result in severe and often fatal burn injuries. According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, an Oceanside woman died after her mobile home started on fire last week. In addition to this accidental death, the victim’s husband suffered serious burn injuries on his face and upper body.

Mobile Home Fire Causes Serious and Fatal Injuriesflames-300x200

The victim of the recent fire-related death was in her 60s, and emergency responders found her inside her bathtub. She and her husband lived in a mobile home at Lamplighter Mobile Home Park on North River Road in Oceanside. According to reports, firefighters arrived at the mobile home park at around 6:30 p.m. after receiving reports of “a double-wide home on fire” with “three people inside.”

Members of the fire department found a man inside the mobile home who suffered serious burn injuries and smoke inhalation. He was identified as the husband of the deceased, and he was rushed to the burn unit at UC San Diego Medical Center. Felipe Rodriguez, the Oceanside Battalion Chief, reported that the man “was in serious condition but was expected to survive.”

The adult son of the deceased was also reported to have been in the mobile home at the time of the fire, but emergency responders did not locate him. Two dogs also were found underneath the home and had suffered from burns, but they’re expected to survive.

The Oceanside police department, along with fire officials, are investigating the cause of the fire. In addition to the serious and fatal bodily injuries that occurred in the blaze, authorities predict that the home fire caused approximately $150,000 in financial damage, as the “mobile home was determined to be a complete loss.”

Home Fire Statistics

How often do home fires result in serious and fatal personal injuries? And, how frequently do these blazes lead to other significant damage? According to a news release from the U.S. Fire Administration, the total number of deaths and injuries from home fires has declined in recent years. However, the numbers are still higher than you might think:

  • In 2011, nearly 1.4 million home fires occurred throughout the country. That number actually shows a significant decrease from just a decade prior, when nearly 20 percent more home fires were reported.
  • Fire-related deaths have decreased by more than 20 percent in the last decade, yet more than 3,000 people die each year from fire-related injuries.
  • The total number of serious (but not fatal) fire-related injuries hasn’t declined as sharply (only by about 5 percent over the last decade). More than 17,000 Americans suffer injuries each year in fires.
  • Home fires result in billions of dollars of damage. Indeed, fires lead to more than $11 billion in damages annually.

What causes home fires? The U.S. Fire Administration lists the following as the most frequent causes of fatal home fires:

  •      Cooking;
  •      Smoking;
  •      Heating; and
  •      Electrical malfunctions.

Fire-related injuries and deaths often result from a homeowner’s or renter’s own negligence, but they also happen because of another party’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured in a home fire and has suffered serious burn injuries, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer.

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Dangerous Recalls and Children’s Products

When we hear about a product recall, many of us worry that we may be at risk of a serious personal injury. However, those concerns tend to increase dramatically when we learn that our children have been using defective products. After all, child injuries can be particularly serious and life-threatening. According to a recent article from CBS News, children’s product recalls decreased in 2014, yet many recalled products continue to circulate in the used marketplace.

What should you do if your child suffered serious or fatal injuries from a product defect? It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced San Diego product liability lawyer. You may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.

Recall-254x300Child Safety Product Defect Report

How effective is the recall system in our country when it comes to children’s products? Do recalls actually result in these hazardous items being removed from the shelves? According to a report from the child safety advocate group Kids in Danger, fewer children are “being injured or killed” by defective products. Recalls have also declined. Yet, do these statistics account for used products that continue to make their way to our homes through second-hand stores and garage sales?

Some child advocates urge daycares to step up and to “play a key role to assist parents” when it comes to product recalls. If daycares pay close attention to recalls, then their employees can ensure that none of these products are purchased for or used by the children at the facility.

For instance, last year a napping chair (the “Nap Nanny”) was part of a recall last due to the danger of suffocation it posed. While many parents who owned these products discarded them, many of these chairs ended up in donation piles and ultimately at daycare centers and other places where they can continue to pose a serious risk to the safety of young kids. In situations like these—which arise with more frequency than most of us would like to assume—it’s important simply to know about recalled products and to avoid using them.

More Vigilance Needed for Kids’ Safety

What can we do to ensure that parents, daycare centers, schools, and babysitters know about dangerous product recalls? According to the recent Kids in Danger report, a very important tool that isn’t used as often as it should be is social media.

To be sure, social media platforms can play a very important role in publicizing product defects and recalls, but not all children’s companies use Facebook or Twitter, for example. And, for companies that do have these social media accounts, “less than a quarter of those with Facebook pages and less than a third of those with Twitter accounts posted recall information on those channels.”

As such, consumers should encourage companies to make information about recalls as salient as possible, which likely involves using social media. The Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association recently emphasized that companies making kids’ products do post recall notices in many different places (e.g., in-store notices, direct-mail notices). However, making better use of social media channels could make a big impact.

Not only do many young parents check Facebook and Twitter regularly, but daycare centers can also monitor these channels for news about dangerous products and the risk of child injury.

If your child has been injured because of a defective product, your child deserves compensation for his or her injuries. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to speak with an experienced San Diego product defect lawyer.

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Bike-Accident-InsuranceAlthough it’s wintertime, many Californians have the luxury of riding bicycles at any time of the year. However, bicycle accidents can be deadly, especially when they’re caused by distracted or aggressive driving. A recent article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that a bicycle advocacy group, People Power, is hoping to create “bikeways near highway interchanges” in order to make those intersections safer for cyclists.

While these changes would only affect the Santa Cruz area in the most immediate terms, it’s very likely that bicycle advocacy groups across the state could push for additional measures to make bicycling a safer activity in the San Diego area.

Making Bicycle Transportation Safer

Cycling accidents can happen anywhere—in bike lanes, at interchanges, and even when a cyclist is stopped at a traffic light. However, interchanges pose significant risks for auto accidents, and bicyclists can get caught in the middle. To be sure, the bike community in California “knows these areas as dangerous places to ride.” Why? Most notably, “when motorists are getting on or off the freeway, they’re driving much faster than cyclists.”

Many freeway intersections in California don’t even have cameras, so it’s impossible to know how many times a bicyclist has been cut off or almost involved in an accident with a speeding driver. According to one cyclist in the Santa Cruz area, riders often feel as though they’re risking their safety when they ride through a freeway interchange. “There are a lot of avoided and unreported accidents,” the rider explained.

Without bikeways near highway intersections, numerous California cyclists are dissuaded from riding bicycles as a primary mode of transportation. However, with more bikes on the roads, the safer cycling becomes. Indeed, according to Amelia Conlen, the director of People Power, “with more cyclists, there’s more of a perception of safety.” She went on to explain that, “by making cyclists more visible on the road, it can make them feel like they belong on the road.”

Bicycle Accident Facts and Figures: What You Need to Know

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do.”

What are some of the risk factors linked to cycling? For one, adolescents aged 15-24 and adults aged 45 and older are at greatest risk of a fatal bicycle accident. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old and adolescents between the ages of 15-24 are at greatest risk of injuries in a serious cycling-related accident. And if you’re wondering whether your child’s gender can play a role in his or her risk of a bike accident, males are at much greater risk than females of sustaining serious or fatal injuries in a bicycle crash.

What can you do to prevent a serious or deadly bicycle collision? The CDC recommends the following:

  • Wear a helmet, even if it’s not required by law.
  • Wear fluorescent clothing, even if you’re riding during daylight hours. It will make you more visible on the road, and if it gets dark while you’re riding, other drivers are more likely to see you.
  • Install active lighting on your bicycle, including front white lights and rear red lights. You want to do everything in your power to increase your visibility to other motorists.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious bicycle accident or pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.

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Construction work takes place every day in sunny California. While many construction projects reach completion without any dangerous accidents or injuries, construction work can be extremely hazardous. Indeed, construction accidents often result in severe and fatal injuries. According to a recent article from ABC 7, a freeway bypass collapse in Willits left four construction workers with serious injuries and another trapped beneath debris.

Details of the Mendocino Bypass Collapse

How did this accident happen? Caltrans has been working on a freeway bypass in Mendocino County. It’s intended to be a nearly 6-mile overpass, but it has encountered a number of problems along the way. Most notable, it “has been beset by lengthy delays and cost overruns.” The bypass is projected to cost around $210 million, but it has only reached approximate 50 percent completion. It’s also two years behind schedule.

According to officials, when the construction workers began to pour concrete for the project, “a 150-foot temporary steel and wooden structure known as falsework suddenly collapsed.” The collapse took place in an area only accessible to construction workers.

In addition to the serious accident dangers posed by the bypass project, California residents have contested its construction due to environmental concerns. To be sure, both opponents of the project have filed lawsuits in hopes of preventing unnecessary damage to the environment. Such opposition has been a notable contributing factor to the construction project’s delay. Authorities report that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be looking into the bypass collapse.

Serious and Fatal Workplace Accidents

Construction accidents are among the most frequent and deadly workplace accidents in America. But how often do they happen? And what steps can construction workers take to prevent serious and fatal accidents?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2013, more than 4,600 employees sustained fatal injuries at work. In connection with a news release that reported the high number of deadly workplace accidents, the BLS released some of the following information about fatal workplace incidents:

  • About 15 percent of all workplace deaths involve contractors. In many cases, these contractors are employed by the construction industry.
  • Fatalities in the construction industry have risen in recent years. Between 2011 and 2012, construction fatalities rose by nearly 10 percent (to a total of 806 deaths in 2012).

Employers can help to prevent deadly construction site accidents by taking the proper safety precautions. In particular, employers must take steps to reduce the following types of accidents:

  • Falls, which lead to more than one-third of all construction accident deaths;
  • Being struck by an object, which results in about 10 percent of construction fatalities;
  • Electrocution, which leads to almost 10 percent of all deadly construction accidents; and
  • Being caught in or between a structure or operating device, which accounts for approximately 2 percent of deaths that occur in the construction industry.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident or in another workplace accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. A San Diego construction accident attorney at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your options with you today.

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brain-injury-300x240Serious accidents and injuries can take place anywhere, and they often happen when we’re least expecting them. Depending on the type and severity of an injury, the consequences can be life-long. According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, a young Carlsbad man recently suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while playing in a recreational softball league. While he’s currently in stable condition, doctors worry that he may not be able to fully recover.

A “Freak Accident” on the Softball Field

Less than a week ago, 28-year-old Mike Petracca had been in Las Vegas for a softball tournament. However, while he was walking across the softball fields, he sustained a TBI in what his coach referred to as “a freak accident.” While Petracca was walking between the fields, a “softball bat slipped from a player’s hands, flew like a rocket nearly 90 feet over a fence and struck Petracca in the head.”

After being struck in the head by the bat, Petracca fell and “hit his head on the asphalt.” Emergency medical responders rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors “determined he suffered a fractured skull and swelling of his brain.” As a result of the severe injury, Petracca underwent emergency surgery. However, post-surgery scans of his brain suggest that the region of his brain that controls speech (in the frontal lobe of one hemisphere of the brain, known as the Broca’s area) remains damaged. As such, Petracca has only been able to utter one full word since waking up after surgery.

Unfortunately, according to Petracca’s surgeon, the damage cannot be repaired with surgery. Instead, Petracca will need time to allow his brain to heal. However, there are no guarantees. According to the doctor, “he may regain speech in a day or two, or a year or two, or never.” In short, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of this severe head trauma.

Members of the LGBT sports community, of which Petracca is a part, have been generous in helping to fund Petracca’s recovering and in offering their support. He remains in stable condition, and doctors report that his motor skills continue to improve. Petracca’s medical team hopes that the facial paralysis he’s currently experiencing will heal with time. After he’s discharged from the hospital, he’ll continue treatment at a Southern California rehabilitation center.

Sports-Related Severe Brain Injuries

We often think about sports-related brain injuries in college or professional athletes, but they can happen to anyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs are contributing factors in about 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the country.

While many sports-related TBIs are classified as concussions, or mild TBIs, these injuries can also be more severe. Two types of severe TBIs exist:

  •      Closed: where an injury to the brain was caused by the movement of the brain within the skull.
  •      Penetrating: where an injury to the brain resulted from a foreign object entering the skull.

In cases of severe head trauma, the effects can be long-term and life-altering. The CDC explains that, in the case of non-fatal severe TBIs, patients often report one of more of the following problems:

  •      Impaired cognitive function;
  •      Impaired motor function;
  •      Impaired sensation; and,
  •      Emotional changes, including depression, anxiety, and general personality shifts.

If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury, you may be able to file a negligence claim. You should contact an experienced San Diego brain injury attorney to learn more about seeking compensation for your injuries.

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Every year, thousands and thousands of car recalls take place. For many Americans, hearing about a product defect can be very scary. But are all recalls emergency situations? A large number of these recalls aren’t going to have a serious effect on the drivers. According to a recent article from ConsumerReports.org, numerous recalls happen for “less than perilous reasons.”

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For example, “sometimes they’re for something as benign as a mislabeled sticker.” Or, in other cases, “durability tests find a suspension spring could wear out prematurely.” And even if your car is subject to a more serious recall, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll experience that problem. To be sure, “a vast majority of affected cars will never experience the potential problems outlined in a recall notice.”

Yet many of us aren’t always sure how to tell the difference between a relatively benign and a more serious recall. How can you learn specific details about recalls and whether you need to pay particular attention? And in the event that your car is recalled for a significant reason, what should you do?

Recent Recalls and Consumer Injuries

In 2014, a number of automobile recalls shook the news. Nearly 8 million recalls took place for cars that had certain Takata airbags installed. If you’ve been reading about the Takata air bag recall, you know that these automobile parts “are prone to explode in collisions, spraying passengers with shrapnel,” and “sometimes with fatal results.” Some of the automakers that use Takata airbags include GM, Honda, Toyota, and BMW. Honda was just recently fined $70 million for failing to report more than 1,700 injuries and deaths that occurred in its automobiles, according to an article in the Washington Post.

In addition to the Takata recall, GM also recalled about 2.6 million vehicles in 2014 due to a defective ignition switch. In certain cases, these cars could simply turn off during operation, resulting in serious and fatal accidents. And just shortly before news about the GM recall hit the internet, Toyota and Lexus recalled more than 10 million automobiles because of a problem that resulted in “unintended acceleration” and deadly car accidents.

Learning About a Recall

How do most of us find out about recalls? Whether an auto manufacturer issues a recall for a minor or a serious problem, it will contact car owners by snail mail or email, and it will provide instructions for having the defective part repaired or replaced. How long does an automaker have to alert you to the recall? Once it has informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the recall, it must let you know within 60 days.

If you find out that your car is part of a recall, you should follow the instructions—which usually involve visiting the nearest dealership—and have the fix or replacement completed. In some cases, the dealership won’t have the parts in stock that are needed for the repair. In such a case, you should find out if the recall “involves a key operating component, such as the acceleration, brake, steering, suspension, or fuel systems.” If it does, and the automaker suggests that you stop driving the vehicle until it can be repaired, it “should tow your car to a dealership and provide a loaner.”

Social Media and Product Recalls

If you want to stay informed about product recalls, social media can provide very useful tools. For example, you can follow your automaker on Twitter or Facebook. After GM instituted its massive recalls, it began using these precise social media platforms to let consumers know that they needed to pay attention.

If you do sustain an injury from a defective car part, you should always report the problem to the NHTSA and contact an experienced San Diego product defect attorney. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.

Photo Credit: Manish Prabhune via Compfight cc

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Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have serious consequences. Even concussions, or mild TBIs, can result in significant threats to long-term health. Did you know that many people don’t even realize they have concussions? When head trauma patients don’t receive proper medical care and treatment, those mild TBIs can be even more dangerous. Now, research into a new eye-tracking technology, published recently in the Journal of Neurosurgery, promises to make concussion evaluations easier than ever.

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Background of the New Brain Injury Technology

The new technology was developed at the NYU Langone Medical Center using 169 patients, according to a recent article in Forbes. Of those patients 157 were “neurologically normal,” or had no brain injury. Twelve of the patients had brain injuries, or “demonstrated specific abnormalities in cranial nerves controlling eye movement or brain swelling close to those nerves.” When these nerves are damaged—in other words, when a person sustains a brain injury—their eye movements change.

For the study, the researchers required the patients to watch television shows or music videos, and they monitored their vertical and horizontal eye movements. In patients without brain injuries, the ratio of horizontal to vertical eye movements is typically equal, or 1:1. In patients with brain injuries, however, that ratio changes. And depending on the ratio (more horizontal movements versus more vertical movements), physicians can locate nerves that have been damaged by head trauma.

While medical professional treating patients with severe TBIs typically can locate the source of the brain injury or the area affected by the trauma, patients with concussions aren’t as easy to evaluate. Often, the specific location of the nerve damage or brain swelling isn’t readily apparent. Now, this eye-tracking technology may offer a new method to make these evaluations.

Wide Use and Accessibility

One of the great things about this new technology, several of the researchers emphasize, is that it’s transportable to many different medical professionals and diagnosis sites. For instance, it won’t need to be used only in hospitals. Rather, emergency medical responders will be able to assess patients after suspected brain injuries, and more significantly, sports venues may be able to employ it to evaluate athletes.

Athletes in contact sports who suffer concussions can be at risk of life-threatening diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). With eye-tracking technology, sideline doctors may be able to use this “simple non-invasive screening test” to determine whether a football player, for instance, has suffered a concussion on the field.

Right now, the balance error scoring system (BESS) test is the one primarily used to determine whether athletes have sustained concussions. How does it work? It allows doctors to assess abnormalities in balance. However, many physicians emphasize that it’s a problematic test if the player has difficulty standing for an unrelated reason (such as a spinal cord injury or a hip injury). The new eye-tracking technology could be extremely useful when athletes in contact sports sustain multiple injuries, including suspected head trauma. To be sure, the new technology could be used regardless of whether a patient is able to stand upright during the test.

If your loved one recently suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Contact an experienced San Diego brain injury lawyer today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

Photo Credit: Ars Electronica via Compfight cc

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