January 2009

Spinal Fractures From Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Be Prevented if Seat Belts are Used Along with Air Bags, Says New Research

January 28, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The chances of a motor vehicle occupant sustaining a spinal fracture decreases if the driver or front side passenger is wearing a seat belt and riding in a car equipped with air bags. This information comes from research gathered from records of over 20,000 auto accident victims who received medical attention at Wisconsin hospitals after t auto collisions that occurred between 1994 and 2002. The article, found in the latest issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, is called “The continued burden of spine fractures after motor vehicle crashes.”

A spinal fracture occurs when at least one vertebrae in the neck or back breaks. A serious spine fracture can cause a spinal cord injury, paralysis, or death. Auto accidents are the number one cause of SCIs. 2,530 of the accident victims who took part in the study had spinal fractures. 64 of them died while they were in hospitals.

The 20,276 study participants had to be older than 15 and were riding in the front of the vehicles when the auto collisions happened. They also could not have been ejected from the vehicle and their files had to come with complete ICD-9-CMs.

Among the study’s findings:
• Combined seat belt and air bag use provide added protection and lower the risk that an auto accident victim will sustain a spinal fracture
• 38% of the victims were not using seat belts when the auto collision happened.
• Just 14% of the study participants were equipped with both air bag and seat belt protection when the auto crash happened.
• Air bag use alone without a seat belt was linked to a greater risk of thoracic spine fracture injuries.
• Speeding and drunk driving were two of the major causes of these motor vehicle crashes studied.

SCI Facts
• 250,000 Americans have spinal cord injuries.
• 11,000 new injury cases happen each year.
• Common causes of spinal cord injuries include auto accidents, violent incidents, fall accidents, and sports-related accidents.

Research: Air Bags/Seat Belts Important in Preventing Spine Fractures, Huliq.com

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Statistics, Sci-Info Pages

Related Web Resource:
Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine

National Safety Council Wants All US States to Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving

January 23, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The National Safety Council wants US lawmakers to push for a nationwide ban of all cell phone use while driving. The NSC says that even hands-free devices are a distraction to drivers, who should be focusing all of their attention on the road and in the vehicle and not on a phone or text messaging conversation going on with someone who is elsewhere.

Findings from the University of Utah and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis support the claim that use of cell phones and their accessories, including handheld devices, can make for distracted driving. The National Transportation Safety Administration is also backing up these findings and plans to push local lawmakers to establish tougher laws on the issue.

In North Carolina, current laws ban cell phone use and text messaging by teen drivers younger than 18, as well as bus drivers. Now, North Carolina Representative Nelson Dollar says the state should consider banning text messaging while driving.

According to the National Institute of Health, 636,000 auto crashes resulting in 2,600 deaths happen every year because people were talking or texting on a cell phone or another PDA device while driving. 330,000 other victims were injured, with 12,000 of them sustaining serious injuries. The costs incurred by such accidents is over $43 billion annually.

The NSC says that in addition to pushing tougher legislation, it will offer more education and materials about the dangers of driving while using a cell phone.

Distracted Driving
The NHTSA says that driver inattention is the cause of 80% of all auto crashes. According to the NSC’s Cell Phone Use While Driving Fact Sheet:

• The chances of a motorist becoming involved in an auto accident increases by four times whenever he or she is driving while talking on a cell phone.

• Over 100 million people drive and use their cell phones at the same time.

• It is safer to talk to someone who is in your vehicle with you than it is to talk to someone on your cell phone.

N.C. lawmakers could consider texting-while-driving ban, WRAL.com, January 2, 2009

National Safety Council Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving, NSC.org, January 12, 2009

Cell Phone Use While Driving Fact Sheet, NSC.org

Related Web Resource:
Cellphone laws, IIHS.org

Family of Lenoir-Rhyne University Student Killed in Fraternity Activity Intends to File North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit

January 19, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The relatives of Harrison Kowiak, a 19-year-old Lenoir-Rhyne University student who died after getting hurt during what they are calling a fraternity hazing activity, say they plan to file a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit. Kowiak died in November while pledging to join the Theta Chi Fraternity.

During the initiation, which took place off campus late at night on Buffalo Farm, Kowiak reportedly was knocked to the ground a number of times and struck his head. According to witnesses, the college sophomore became disoriented and appeared to lose some of his movement ability.

Fraternity members transported Kowiak to a local hospital before he was flown to Charlotte where he was admitted to Carolinas Medical Center. The 19-year-old passed away the next day.

Following the incident, the Theta Chi Fraternity’s international headquarters executive director said that Kowiak did not sustain his head injury during a hazing activity, but that the accident occurred during an optional team-building exercise.

Hazing is an initiation process practiced by many US fraternities and sororities. Unfortunately, many hazing activities can be degrading, dangerous, or physically abusive—especially among fraternities. Hazing activities have included:

• Verbal abuse
• Sleep deprivation
• Making a pledge eat a disgusting substance
• Beatings
• Binge drinking

In North Carolina, hazing is illegal. Victims injured during hazing incidents, as well as their families, may have grounds to file a premises liabilityclaim or wrongful death lawsuit against all liable parties.

Lenoir-Rhyne family plans wrongful-death suit, Charlotte Observer, January 16, 2009

Tampa Teen Got Fatal Head Injury During Frat Initiation, TBO.com, November 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:

North Carolina Hazing Law, StopHazing.org

Theta Chi Fraternity

Lenoir-Rhyne University

City of Charlotte Settles North Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuits Alleging Police Sexual Harassment by former CMPD Cop

January 12, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The City of Charlotte has settled the North Carolina injury lawsuits filed by the two alleged victims of former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Marcus Jackson for $225,000. The plaintiffs, a male and a female, are a couple. They contend that Jackson sexually assaulted her and harassed him after he pulled them over on December 28, 2009.

According to the plaintiffs, Jackson made the couple follow him to the Eastway Baptist Church parking lot where he fondled the woman while pretending to search her. He then told her boyfriend to pull down her bra and touch her while he observed them. By agreeing to settle, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina says that it is not admitting liability in the alleged incident.

At least 6 woman have said that Jackson sexually assaulted them after he pulled them over during traffic stops. He has been indicted in several cases and the CMPD has fired him. Jackson is behind bars while waiting for his trial.

Police are never allowed to abuse their power whether by excessive use of force when upholding the law or to commit any other crime. Police brutality is a violation of the victim’s civil rights.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault crime you may have grounds for a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit. Your civil case would be separate from any criminal charges filed against your assailant.

Sexual abuse by a police officer is police brutality, as is rape, molestation, improper touching, and sexual harassment by a cop under the guise of doing his/her job. Physical assault, verbal abuse, torture, intimidation, or other abusive acts by a police officer are also examples of police brutality.

City confirms settlement in police case, Charlotte Observer, October 7, 2010

Former Officer Indicted; New Evidence Of Fondling Presented, WSOCTV, January 19, 2010

Couple Suing City of Charlotte Claims Officer Marcus Jackson Sexually Violated Them During Traffic Stop, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

Police Brutality, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog

North Carolina City of Raleigh Will Pay Truck Accident Victim $1.1 Personal Injury Settlement

January 8, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The city of Raleigh has agreed to settle a North Carolina truck accident lawsuit filed by plaintiff Nirali Manish Dubal against the city and truck driver Gerardo Gomez Hurtado. The personal injury accident occurred on January 3, 2007 when Dubal, in a Toyota Camry, was struck during a head-on collision with a recycling truck driven by Hurtado.

Dubal, a pediatrician who was working for the North Raleigh Pediatric Group when the personal injury accident happened, sustained fractures to her spine, ankle, and arm. Her North Carolina truck accident lawyer claims Dubal has permanent disabilities as a result of the crash.

Dubal’s North Carolina truck accident lawsuit accused Hurtado of failing to yield the right of way and failing to signal properly before turning left on Bredon Court. The $1.1 million personal injury settlement is the largest settlement to be paid by the city of Raleigh over the past 3 decades. Under the terms of the settlement, Raleigh and Hurtado are released from future claims stemming from the truck accident.

Truck Accident Injuries
Involvement in a North Carolina truck crash can lead to serious personal injuries for those involved. Not only could your injuries result in a great deal of pain, costly medical bills, and permanent disabilities, but your ability to earn a living and live a normal life could also be negatively affected.

If you are thinking about filing a North Carolina personal injury or wrongful death claim against any liable parties, there are steps that you and your truck crash lawyer will need to take to ensure the best outcome possible for your case. In addition to filing your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, your personal injury attorney will need to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and examine truck driver logs and other pertinent data. You will also need a medical expert to examine your injuries so that your recovery costs can be properly estimated.

Settlement to cost city $1.1 million, News & Observer, December 31, 2008

Raleigh agrees to pay woman $1M for crash, WWAY.com, December 31, 2008

Johnson & Johnson Recalls Defective Duragesic Pain Patches

January 5, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Johnson & Johnson is announcing the recall of two lots of Duragesic pain patches. The recall, by its PriCara Division, is being issued because tears in the patches could expose users to the product’s gel and may result in an overdose. The recalled patches were made by ALZA Corp.

Recalled lots include:

• Duragesic 50 mcg/hr patches, lot number 0817239
• Sandoz Inc 50 mcg/hr patches, lot number 0816851

J & J is conducting the recall with the Food and Drug Administration. This is not the first recall involving improperly sealed Duragesic pain patches. In February 2008, J & J recalled some 32 million Duragesic Pain Patches over similar concerns. In 2004, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Products recalled 75 patches over leakage concerns also.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that accidental overdoses have been associated with use of the pain patch. The FDA has received over 100 reports of deaths that may have been related to use of fentanyl pain patches.

Duragesic, also known as fentanyl, is an opioid pain reliever that is 100 times stronger than morphine. You are not supposed to use fentanyl if you have drug allergies or a history of mental illness, seizures, breathing problems, heart problems, drug or alcohol dependence, low blood pressure, depression, liver disease, kidney disease, a brain tumor, or a head injury. Direct skin exposure to the gel that is inside the patch can cause respiratory problems, nausea, drowsiness, sedation, serious health complications, or lead to fatal overdoses.

Direct Exposure to Duragesic’s Gel:
If you or anyone has come into direct contact with fentanyl gel, it is important that you wash the skin completely with water only. Do not use soap or rub the skin too much. Do not directly handle patches that are torn or have cut edges. Use gloves or tissue instead. You can also get rid of the patches by flushing them down the toilet.

Medical device makers and pharmaceutical drug manufacturers are supposed to make sure that their products are safe for consumer use and free from defects that can cause illness, injury, or death. If you or someone you love was injured by a defective or dangerous medical device, you may be able to file a products liability claim or lawsuit against the negligent manufacturer.

J&J Recalls Two Lots of Pain Patch, The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2008

Duragesic Patch Recall Adds to Johnson & Johnson Patch Woes, News Inferno, February 13, 2008

Related Web Resources:


Johnson & Johnson

US Food and Drug Administration


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