Frivolous Lawsuits – Not So Fast: A Lifecare Planner Speaks Out

Victoria powell
Victoria Powell is the founder and current President of VP Medical Consulting.  She has been providing nursing education and consulting services for 14 years.  Ms.
Powell is a Registered Nurse and holds specialty certifications in Case
Management, Legal Nurse Consulting, Life Care Planning and Ergonomic
Assessments.

She wrote Frivolous Lawsuit: Not So Fast. Her insight and analysis of large jury verdicts in catastrophic cases are excellent and well taken.  If you've read my blog in the past, you know that I believe that there is no such thing as a frivolous lawsuit and that the phrase is a misnomer.  In fact, the idea of frivolous lawsuits are nothing more than a myth.  Read here, here and here.

By the Way, You Can Follow me on Twitter


Here is Ms. Powell's article in its entirety (reprinted with her permission, of course):

I have enjoyed the legal environment for many years.  Since becoming a Legal Nurse Consultant,
I have especially been intrigued with medically related cases.  I have
come to understand that the media spin that surround medical cases does
not always adequately reflect the issues of the case.

When the general public hears the millions of dollars that is
sometimes awarded, they do not know what makes up the award.  As a Life Care Planner I
can tell you that future medical is oftentimes in the millions of
dollars for what on the surface might seem like a minor medical
problem.  What you don’t see is the hours of assistance, medical
devices used, and frequent follow up with medical providers to keep the
patient moving and an active member of society.

The famous McDonald’s coffee case is one such example.  This was not
a frivolous case.  It was just that the major findings were never made
public by the media.  Since that case was settled some facts have been
made known.  You can read about these in this article or in another by the Wall Street Journal.

My Twitter friend, Lowell Steiger,
an attorney from Los Angeles, writes about another such case.  A
Manhattan Jury awards $3.5 million to a young man who lost his leg when
an MTA train ran over him while he lay on the tracks.  In a closer
look, Steiger points out that the jury actually found fault with both
parties and the award was decreased to $2.3 million.  You can read more
about this case on his law blog.

As a Life Care Planner, $2.3 million for a below knee amputation,
does not mean this young man has been hit by the gravy train. 
Prosthesis are tens of thousands of dollars and require regular
maintenance and replacement.  The skin problems due to wear and tear
due to the prosthesis can be numerous and expensive to treat.  The
medication regimen for an amputee with phantom limb pain results in
hundreds of dollars in prescription costs each month.  Add to this the
physician appointments and the associated mileage.  When you are
finished with those calculations multiple those dollars by the many
years of life expectancy for this young man and you should have close
to $2 million plus in medical expenses.

The media does not always follow through on a case.  The reporters
are often looking for a quick story and sensational headlines.  They do
not have the advantage of this nurse, to enter the home of the injured
and see how their life and the lives of those around them are
affected.  Do not be too quick to judge based solely on the size of the
award or the headlines you have read.

If you were injured and received a large award, how would you want the headlines to read?

You Can Follow me on Twitter

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at

(323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

Roof Top Electrocutes Worker by Charles Samo, Safety Engineer

ROOF TOP

ELECTROCUTES WORKER

by Charles Samo, Safety Engineer

Electrocution

Thank you to safety engineer/expert Charles Samo for contributing this fascinating and informative article.  Mr. Samo has been an expert witness in a multitude of litigation matters and can be reached at samoengr@sbcglobal.net.

INTERESTING TIMES

Have you ever wondered why birds resting on high and bare electric conductors do not get electrocuted? It is because the birds are not grounded or rather in contact with the ground.  This is an interesting phenomenon. Whenever a person comes in contact with an overhead power line, if not in contact with ground, he or she is perfectly safe but as soon as a part of the body touches an object in touch with ground, chances of survival are slim. Clearly before the invention of electricity this type of harm or hazard was nonexistent. I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb which when loosely translated, “may you live in interesting times.”

THE ACCIDENT

Interesting times can include exposure to unforeseeable hazards. In one case a man went to work on a roof of a commercial building. He worked for a construction roofing company. He props his metal ladder up against the concrete wall of the building, buckles his tool belt, throwing on his baseball cap but unfortunately leaving his hard hat behind.  He climbed up the ladder onto the old roof, stepped up to the edge of the roof, pulled his metal measuring tape, leaned forward, bent down and began to take roof measurements.  Upon committing the measurements to memory, he rose and leaned back.  Whether he was busy calculating his measurements or just not thinking we will never know, his head came in contact with a high voltage power line conductor, spanning above the roof, electrocuting himself and threw him off the roof.

The lights flickered in the building manager’s office and followed with a momentary black-out.  The building manager went outside to investigate and saw the man on the ground sizzling, his ball cap laid next to him with a hole burnt in the center.

THE INVESTIGATION

The local city fire department’s paramedics arrived within a few minutes and attempted to revive the barely breathing man, but were unsuccessful.  An extensive investigation was launched to determine the cause of the fatality related to this unfortunate accident. The investigation was undertaken by Electric Public Utility Company operating this particular power line, property insurance organization including U.S Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor. Come to find that the building was constructed first and the power line went up shortly after the building was constructed. The power line poles were placed too close to the building.

THE NATIONAL ELECTRIC CODE

Electric safety standards provide safe working guidelines to prevent such accidents. Nearly 100 years prior, in 1897, a document related to electric standards was developed as a result of the united efforts of various safety, insurance, electrical, architectural, and allied interests. This document was called The National Electric Code, or NEC.  It is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Agency, NFPA. At the time of the accident the NEC had specific safety procedures in place to prevent accidental contacts with overhead high-voltage lines.

FACTORS RELATED TO CAUSATION

There were a number of factors which contributed to the death of the worker.  The electric utility company had failed to meet the minimum clearance standards and safety for high-voltage overhead power-lines as required by the NEC. The line spanned too low over the roof and created a significant hazard. NEC required a minimum vertical clearance of 8-feet above the rooftops and a minimum horizontal clearance of 3-feet from the edge of the roofs. Clearly at the time of power line construction these standards were not followed.

RESPONSIBLE PARTIES

As the owner and operator of the electric conductor, the electric utility company is primarily responsible for the death of the worker. The electric company failed to inspect and maintain the line clear from the building as required by its own standards and NEC requirements.

The employer of the deceased failed to provide and maintain a safe working area for his employee who normally worked on rooftops or likely to work near or adjacent to high voltage overhead lines. 

The worker did not take adequate precaution for his own safety while working dangerously close to the high-voltage power line. The deceased had been in construction and roofing business for many years. Either he knew or should have known the hazard presented by overhead electrical wires when working on buildings’ roofs adjacent to overhead lines. Sadly, he was responsible for his unfortunate accident.

10-FOOT SAFETY RULE

The worker failed to follow a simple Federal OSHA’s safety construction industry rule known as a 10-foot Safety Rule. This rule is intended to keep workers away when working near overhead power lines. The rule prohibits workers and equipment from getting closer than 10 feet (radial) to overhead electric conductors.

ZERO RISKS

In our world there are many environmental and occupational hazards that we all face every day. This case is not rare. Very few things in life to which we are exposed are “zero risks”. But like the automobile, and X-rays, there are non-harmful ways to use potentially harmful electricity transported by overhead bare conductors. Applicable industry safety standard practices must be adhered to. If we all follow safety rules provided, it would help to ensure us all live long and ….interesting lives!

SAFETY CONSULTING AND ENGINEERING

E-Mail: samoengr@sbcglobal.net

C. Samo/M. Quecke

*****************************************************************************

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

Legal Nurse Consultants

Legal Nurse Consultants play a very important role in personal injury and medical malpractice cases with significant medical issues.  They are trained to pour through volumes of medical records and, frankly, make sense out of them.

I have used Legal Nurse Consultants in my practice and find that they provide invaluable insight into the often complex medical issues that are inherent in most personal injury and medical malpractice cases.

I would like to invite Legal Nurse Consultants to post comments in this section to help further illustrate what they see as their role in these cases.  Naturally, any interesting anecdotes (while maintaining client confidentiality) are welcome.

We all look forward to hearing from Legal Nurse Consultants.

Thank you!

Lowell Steiger

lowell@steigerlaw.com