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Hunting Safety Prevents Tragic Accidents

The fall season brings many fun activities including football games, Halloween and, of course, hunting season.  In Nebraska, big game hunting seasons begin in late August and continue through the end of January.   Whether you prefer to hunt with a bow and arrow or with a hunting firearm, following standard safety rules can prevent serious injury and even death.   In 2012, there were nine hunting incidents in Nebraska, including eight resulting in personal injury and one fatality.  One of the incidents resulted from illegal hunting activity.

Nebraska law  requires all persons age twelve through twenty-nine years of age who hunt with a firearm or crossbow to complete a firearm hunter education program.  An approved hunter education course includes a minimum of ten hours of classroom instruction, or independent study sufficient to pass an examination given by the commission followed by the student’s participation in a minimum of four hours of practical instruction in the areas of safe firearms use, shooting and sighting techniques, hunter ethics, game identification and conservation management.

Some basic hunter safety tips can keep you and your entire hunting party safe.

  • Assume your weapon is always loaded and avoid pointing a weapon in any direction you do not wish it to be fired;
  • Keep your safety on and point the barrel of your firearm down when walking with or transporting a firearm;
  • Make sure you can identify your target before discharging your weapon, avoiding any area where humans are present;
  • Wear safety orange and a brightly colored hat when hunting to avoid blending in with your surroundings and accidentally being mistaken for wildlife;
  • Ensure your target is deceased prior to putting them into or strapping them onto your vehicle;
  • Never hunt with small children;
  • Do not climb up or down a tree or over a fence with a loaded gun.  Pass your gun to a hunting partner with the safety on and allow them to hand it to you when you are in shooting position;
  • Stay sober and avoid mind-altering drugs before or during your hunting session;
  • Look beyond your target to avoid striking something other than your target should you miss the primary target;
  • Whenever possible, hunt with a buddy or ensure someone knows your hunting path and schedule of when you expect to return;
  • When using a tree stand, wear a safety belt;
  • Test all your hunting equipment to ensure it is working properly and you know the correct way to operate all equipment;
  • Store and transport your ammunition separately from your firearm;
  • When not in use, keep both ammunition and firearms under lock and key;
  • Never shoot at a sound or movement;
  • Store both firearms and bows in cool, dry places;
  • Carry a safety kit and first aid kit, including a waterproof fire-starting kit to avoid hypothermia if you get wet or stranded in an area you are not familiar with;
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order and stocked with safety gear, including survival rations, rope, a flare gun, space blanket, hand axe, whistle and small compass; and
  • Carry your cell phone in a waterproof plastic bag when hunting so if an emergency arises, you can call for help.

With proper preparation and observation of safety procedures, you and your hunting party can enjoy the sport and avoid a preventable tragedy.

 

Cycle Gear Motorcycle Helmets Recalled

 

Cycle Gear is recalling certain Street & Steel brand Big Bore model motorcycle helmets, sizes Extra Small and Small.  These helmets were manufactured in December of 2012.  The recall deals with the failure of the helmets to comply with dwell time requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 2818 “Motorcycle Helmets”.  If you own one of these helmets, you should be aware that you may not be adequately protected in the event of a crash, increasing your risk of head and neck injuries.

The voluntary recall by Cycle Gear includes the ability to exchange your defective helmet with a replacement helmet, or alternatively, a refund on your investment.  If you own one of these helmets, please contact Cycle Gear by calling 1-800-292-5343 or by email to customerservice@cyclegear.com.

Is That School Bus Safe for My Child?

As parents, we want our children to be as safe as possible when we send them off to school.  Twenty years ago, we could assume our children were safe not only getting to school but in school.  Unfortunately, there are many aspects of school safety that we simply have no control over.  So we concentrate on the things we do have control over, such as how our children get to school.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to take your children to school every day, you have a great deal of control over their safety.  However, many of us have no choice but to trust the bus to transport our children safely from our homes to their school.  Do you know how safe your school bus company is?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed an Online Safety Measurement System “Carrier Search” tool, which can be found at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/Data/Search.asp.  This search tool allows you to search for your school bus carrier, either by legal name or a trade name (“d/b/a” – doing business as).  Alternatively you can search by state.  Once you are able to locate your school bus company, you can get details on the company including unsafe driving, driver fitness, drugs/alcohol, crash indicator and other helpful details.  You may also access details regarding vehicle maintenance.

This tool makes it easier than ever to compare different transportation companies, if you have a choice, or to simply stay informed regarding the company you are entrusting with your child’s safety on their way to school.  You will note that most school buses do not have seat belts.  According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury.

Drivers are well trained and carefully screened, participating in pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing, as well as frequent record checks.  The drivers receive specialized training in loading and unloading, as well as security and emergency medical procedures.  The buses themselves are equipped with stop arm signs, flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and reinforced sides.  They are often painted a bright color to help keep them visible in inclement weather.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has a website dedicated to school bus facts.  Ultimately, students are about fifty times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends.  Statistics also show that students are actually safer riding the bus than even being drive by a parent.

For more information regarding school bus safety, please refer to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

FDA Recalls Stryker Spine Oasys Midline Occiput Plate

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Class 1 Recall on the Stryker Spine OASYS Midline Occiput Plate, used as an implant in spinal surgeries.  The recall was issued as a result of reported fractures of the pin that connects the implant’s tulip head to the plate body.   On May 30, 2013, Stryker, the maker of the implant, had issued an Urgent Medical Device Recall requesting medical facilities to immediately stop using or distributing recalled lots.  In June of 2013, Stryker notified spinal implant surgeons to begin routine clinical and radiographic post-operative evaluation for patients with an implant.

The FDA recommends an urgent evaluation if a patient with an implant begins to experience pain, weakness or numbness.   After revision, Stryker recommends routine post-operative care and follow-up.

Stryker has learned that in cases where a post-operative fracture occurs in the pin that connects the tulip head to the plate body, serious side-effects can occur, including blood loss, nerve injury and the necessity of a revision surgery to attempt to replace a fractured implant.  Affected products were distributed between April 23, 2010 and February 12, 2013 and include an estimated 1,536 units in the United States and another 880 abroad.

If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above symptoms, contact an attorney experienced in evaluating these types of claims.  Compensation recovered can help pay for medical expenses, lifestyle changes due to disability, economic and emotional damages.

Granuflo/Naturalyte Litigation Demonstrate Potentially Devastating Effects for Patients of Dialysis

On March 29, 2012, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Class 1 recall of a popular dialysis drug called GranuFlo, along with its sister drug Naturalyte.  According to the recall, these products can lead to “a high serum bicarbonate level in patients undergoing hemodialysis”.  This could contribute to additional side effects such as metabolic alkalosis, a significant risk factor which has been associated with low blood pressure, hypokalemia, hypoxemia, hypercapnia and cardiac arrhythmia, which could also result in heart attacks or cardiopulmonary arrest.

Evidence that Granuflo/Naturalyte could lead to such serious and devastating injuries, up to and including death, during dialysis led the FDA to take action in the form of a serious recall.  Unfortunately, these drugs still remain on the market, despite the fact that lawsuits have begun to emerge based on the terrible effects of the drugs.   Although not inherently dangerous products, NaturaLyte and GranuFlo can become lethal when mixed and administered incorrectly.  GranuFlo is the only acetic acid containing drug that also has sodium di-acetate.  The sodium acetate gets converted into bicarbonate by the patient’s liver, which results in increased bicarbonate levels beyond prescribed limits and causes an increased risk of metabolic alkalosis.

DaVita Healthcare, a national dialysis treatment provider that uses both GranuFlo and NaturaLyte during hemodialysis, is currently facing four class action lawsuits in the US District Court for the District of Colorado resulting from the adverse health effects associated with improper use of the drugs.  Both drugs are made by Fresenius Medical Care.   Lawsuits brought against Fresnius Medical Care are based on allegations that Fresnius knew about the possibility of adverse effects from its products but failed to warn doctors and facilities outside of the company.

If you or a loved one has suffered adverse effects during dialysis, please contact an attorney experienced in evaluating these types of claims.  Compensation recovered can help pay for medical expenses, lifestyle changes due to disability, economic and emotional damages, as well as funeral expenses for the worst cases.

Nebraska Lawsuits Emerge from Cyclospora Outbreaks

The second lawsuit has now been filed in Nebraska stemming from a multi-state Cyclospora outbreak from salad mix served at Olive Garden Restaurants.  The lawsuit was filed in Lancaster County, Nebraska on behalf of a pregnant mother-to-be who dined at Olive Garden in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever and chills, dehydration, loss of appetite and related weight loss. Cyclospora is diagnosed through a stool sample and treated with antibiotics.  The multi-state outbreak has reportedly affected over 86 Nebraskans and 535 cases throughout 18 states.

 The salad mix has also affected those who have eaten at Red Lobster locations.  The Cyclospora parasite has been traced back to Taylor Farms in Mexico, which ships to both Olive Garden and Red Lobster locations.  The parasite is spread by ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces.   If you are suffering from the symptoms of Cyclospora parasite listed above and have eaten at Olive Garden or Red Lobster recently, see your doctor to have a stool test completed.  An attorney with experience in claims dealing with food-borne illness can evaluate your claim.

Appeals Court Grants Plaintiff Day in Court

The Nebraska Court of Appeals has granted the mother of a deceased 15-year old a chance to present her case to a jury, reversing the dismissal of a lower Court.  The case stems from a crossing accident in which the plaintiff’s ex-husband was traveling in a car along with his 15 year old son and drove onto train tracks in December of 2007, failing to adhere to the warning lights and oncoming train’s horn in December of 2007.

 The lower Court granted Union Pacific’s Motion to Dismiss based upon allegations that the negligence of the father was the sole proximate cause of the collision.  The plaintiff alleged that Union Pacific was also negligent by failing to remove the concrete signal base which the ex-husband’s vehicle was pushed into by the train upon impact.

 Although the lower court dismissed the case stating the state law in effect at the time of the crash required the father to be grossly negligent in order to be held liable for damages, the appeals court reversed the dismissal, stating a jury should decide the merits of the plaintiff’s claims that the concrete barrier constituted active negligence by Union Pacific.  The appeals decision stated that the matter of gross negligence was a factual dispute to be decided by the trier of fact, a jury.

Another Big Win for Vaginal Mesh Plaintiffs

The newest verdict in the lawsuits regarding vaginal mesh injuries brought an award of $250,000.00 in compensatory damages, in addition to $1.75 million in punitive damages.  However, under Georgia law, 75%  of the punitive damages award will be handed over to the state’s general fund.  The verdict sent a very clear message to C.R. Bard, Inc. that injuries caused as a result of defective products, failure to warn and “malice, fraud or wantonness” in mishandling of medical devices would not be tolerated.  Allegations in the case included egregious contentions that Bard officials put profits ahead of safety and ignored warnings about defects in the implants.   Bard argued that it had “no intent to harm” in the case.

In this case, the plaintiff’s injuries included perforation of her internal organs, vaginal scarring, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse.  The damages to the plaintiff were so severe it required a revision surgery and caused significant negative impacts to her quality of life.

The New Jersey case is only one of more than 8,000 other claims against Bard.  Although an appeal is expected, Bard suffered a 1.7 percent drop in stock after the verdict.  This is the second large verdict against Bard, who suffered a $5.5 million verdict in California last year in the first ever vaginal mesh trial.  Under California law, Bard will only be liable for $3.6 million of the initial award.

Nebraska Supreme Court Rules Portion of Jury Award Taxable in Railroad Injury Case

In 2004, Eddie Heckman of Alliance was injured while working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  In 2011, Heckman was awarded $145,000.00 by a jury for his injuries.  Although the award was paid by the railroad, $6,200.00 was deducted for tax withholdings for the lost wages portion of the award.  Although the Box Butte County judge ordered the railroad to pay the award, and asked both sides to agree in writing that no amount of the award was considered wages, the railroad appealed.  The Justice Department filed an Amicus Brief as it alleged the ruling interfered with federal tax collection under the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974.

Heckman argued that the award had not been allocated, however the Supreme Court disagreed as lost wages were claimed in the lawsuit.  The Supreme Court found no authority to order the railroad to agree to an allocation of the settlement post-verdict.

Safety Precautions During a Traffic Stop

 

No one likes to get a ticket, but should you find yourself in the position of being pulled over by a Police Officer, it is important to know how to keep yourself and the Officer safe.  Remember that police get killed in traffic stops, usually as a result of a lack of safety precautions.  Pull over as soon as it is safe, but never stop on a curve or in an intersection.  Make sure you shut off your engine, stay in your vehicle and keep both hands on the wheel.  If you happen to get stopped at night, turn on the interior light.

You should keep your proof of insurance and drivers’ license easily accessible when you are in your vehicle, both for purposes of traffic accidents and safety stops.  However, do not get these items ready until the police officer asks for it.  If your insurance information is in your glove box or center console, make sure you tell the officer what you are doing before you reach for it.  If you have a concealed weapon in the vehicle, advise the officer of this and be prepared to present your concealed weapon permit.  If the officer does not advise you of why he or she pulled you over, it is okay to politely ask.  Make sure you are friendly, but respectful.  Never lie to an officer or be argumentative.  Do not make excuses, but you may offer explanations for any misunderstandings of the law.  Apologize for any traffic infraction and do not be confrontational. 

Remember that you are required to identify yourself during a traffic stop, but police do not generally have the right to search your vehicle without probably cause.  If an officer asks to search your vehicle, you do have the right to refuse under the fourth amendment to the Constitution.  You do not have a right to be physical with an Officer at any time.

Finally, you have the right to ask police questions regarding the traffic stop.  After the traffic stop, the Officer will return to his vehicle.  At that time, you are able to safely pull back into traffic.  Remember to signal when re-entering the roadway and consider the safety of other drivers as you resume your place in traffic.