May 2012 Archives

May 29, 2012

Questions and Answers about Arbitration Agreements for Kentucky Residents

1221952_to_sign_a_contract_3.jpgIn a recent case in Florida, a man was infected with flesh-eating bacteria through an infected needle at his doctor's office. Not only did the doctor provide the needle that infected the patient, but he also failed to notify the patient about the infection and did not instruct him to go to the hospital. When the patient tried to file a medical malpractice suit against the doctor, he discovered he had signed an arbitration agreement that prohibited him from filing a lawsuit.

Even though this case was in Florida, this situation could affect Kentucky residents as well. The following are some questions and answers about these arbitration agreements.

Q: What is an arbitration?

A: An arbitration is a hearing used to solve a dispute between two individuals. Rather than being argued in a courtroom before a judge and jury, both sides present their case to a panel of supposedly unbiased arbitrators. Oftentimes the panel is made up of experts selected by both parties.

Q: What is a medical arbitration agreement?

A: A medical arbitration agreement is a document signed by an individual that requires them to handle any dispute with the doctor or medical facility through arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit in court. In the case above, when the patient went to his doctor for a steroid shot, he signed an arbitration agreement saying he could not sue the doctor in court for medical malpractice. It also stated that the patient could not be awarded more than $250,000 in damages if the arbitrators ruled in his favor. This type of limitation may not be binding because it may conflict with state laws regarding caps on damages.

Q: What if I sign a medical arbitration agreement without reading it?

A: While this situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, it appears that most courts are upholding the agreements even if the patient states he didn't read it before signing. In the case above, a judge ruled that the agreement is binding even though the patient said he didn't read it because the agreement was clearly written and stated in large letters at the top that one should not sign it without reading it first.

Continue reading "Questions and Answers about Arbitration Agreements for Kentucky Residents" »

May 24, 2012

Kentucky Truck Crash Involving Four Vehicles Kills Two Motorcyclists

A recent Kentucky truck accident involved multiple vehicles and cars, most of whom were not even from the area. On May 22, 2012, traffic on I-24 over the Ohio River near Paducah was moving slowly due to some construction. One driver did not slow or stop in time and rear-ended the car in front of him. Both of these drivers survived the accident with only minor injuries.

Unfortunately, this initial car accident led to another more deadly accident in the same area. Traffic was backed up from the initial accident in both westbound lanes when semi driver reached the scene. He allegedly did not slow down or stop. He hit the mirror on a pickup truck first, then crashed into a motorcycle. Both people were knocked off the motorcycle. The truck driver then hit another semi before coming to a stop. Both truck drivers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The motorcycle riders were not so lucky; they were pronounced dead at the scene.

This accident was very tragic in that it claimed the lives of two innocent victims. It was also very unusual because almost every person involved was from a different state and no one was a Kentucky resident. The truck driver who allegedly caused the accident was from Wisconsin. The two motorcycle riders were from North Carolina and Texas. The pickup truck and second semi-truck drivers were both from Illinois. This raises the question of where a lawsuit, if necessary, should be filed.

Generally, lawsuits are filed in the state in which the accident occurred. We'll use the above case as an example. The accident happened in Kentucky, so a lawsuit should be filed in Kentucky. Most attorneys are licensed to practice law in one or two states that are in close proximity to each other. So it is unlikely that an attorney from Texas or North Carolina - the home states of the victims in this accident - would be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. It is also unlikely that the victims' families would know any Kentucky attorneys.

Continue reading "Kentucky Truck Crash Involving Four Vehicles Kills Two Motorcyclists" »

May 17, 2012

Woman Sues Kentucky's Norton Hospital and Medtronic for Medical Malpractice

Norton Hospital is located in Louisville, Kentucky and serves thousands of Kentucky residents every year. Medtronic is a large medical device company located in Fridley, Minnesota. What these two companies have in common is a medical malpractice lawsuit that has been filed against them.

A Louisville, Kentucky woman had surgery on her spine in 2006 at Norton Hospital. The hospital used a product from Medtronic called Infuse. Infuse is a bone-graft device used in certain spinal surgeries. A liquid bone protein is put on a sponge in a little crate between vertebrae. The liquid then solidifies into bone. The patient was having spine surgery, but not the type that Infuse has been approved for by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Surgeons at the hospital used it in her procedure anyway.
Unfortunately, as has been the situation in other cases, the bone continued to grow into her nerves, causing damage that has resulted in debilitating pain. She now has to stay in bed for extended periods of time and has trouble doing simple everyday tasks.

When a product is promoted and used in a way that has not been approved by the FDA, it is called "off-label" use, since what the medical professional is using it for would not actually be printed on the label of the medication or medical device. Oftentimes, medical professionals successfully use off-label treatments with the patient's consent. Other times it may lead to a dangerous treatment. However, companies such as Medtronic are not allowed to promote the product for off-label use. They can be fined millions of dollars if it is determined that this illegal activity has occurred. Unfortunately, to a multi-billion dollar company that could make billions on off-label use of one drug, the risk of investigation and fines may seem worthwhile. The off-label marketing can occur in many ways, including providing the product free to hospitals and medical offices or giving price breaks on other products to medical professionals that use a certain product off-label.

Continue reading "Woman Sues Kentucky's Norton Hospital and Medtronic for Medical Malpractice" »

May 9, 2012

Passing Other Cars in Kentucky can be Dangerous

It can be frustrating, being stuck behind someone driving slower than you want to go, especially if they are going below the speed limit or you are running late. If this occurs on a road with four lanes or more, it may seem fairly easy to move to the left lane and pass the person. Passing on a two-lane road is inherently more challenging. But both scenarios can be dangerous, as two Kentucky drivers discovered recently.

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, two teens were driving on U.S. 68, which is a two-lane road, near Campbellsville, Kentucky. The driver decided to pass the car ahead of them and pulled into the left-hand lane. Unfortunately, a car was coming from the other direction and the two collided head-on, resulting in a deadly car accident. Both cars rolled over and the teens tragically lost their lives. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to the hospital with injuries and was released the next day.

In another accident on Sunday of the same weekend, a driver again attempted to pass the car in front of him. This time the accident occurred on KY 213 in Morehead, Kentucky. When the passing car moved back into the lane in front of the other car, it clipped the front bumper. Both drivers appear to have lost control, and this car wreck injured all three people in the cars, including one critically.

These two accidents highlight the importance of using caution when passing other cars. Teendriving.com, a website started by a teen driver who was concerned about the number of accidents involving his classmates, provides the following tips about passing to drivers:

Don't Pass:


  • When there is a solid yellow line on your side

  • When you're uncertain there is enough time or space

  • When you can't see around a curve or over a hill

  • When behind multiple cars and passing one car doesn't really make any difference

  • On two lane roads, don't pass tractors or trucks or others you can't see around

  • In hazardous weather conditions

  • When another car is coming toward you in the opposite lane

  • When a car is passing you

  • When there is construction or road work

  • When the car in front of you is going the maximum speed limit

  • When on narrow roads, on bridges, or in tunnels

  • When you are unfamiliar with the car you are driving and its capabilities

  • Don't play leap frog by passing a friend that just passed you


Continue reading "Passing Other Cars in Kentucky can be Dangerous" »

May 6, 2012

As Personal Injury Lawsuits in Indiana Stage Collapse Continue, New Regulations Take Effect

The 2011 tragic stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis continues to affect numerous people - those who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and those who may or may not have been at least partially responsible for the accident. In an attempt to figure out who other than Mother Nature was responsible, the State of Indiana contracted with two different firms, one to study the stage and the other to review what preparations were made in case of an emergency. The firms were also asked to give recommendations on how the state could prevent tragedies like this at future events.

According to one report, the fair board and Indiana police approached Sugarland, the band waiting to perform, about postponing the show more than once. Each time they asked, they were told the band did not want to postpone the show. However, during a deposition, one of the band members said she was never approached by anyone about cancelling or postponing the show, so attorneys are now looking at the band's touring manager as the one who may have put the concertgoers' lives at risk. The same report also faulted the fair board for not having a clear safety plan or chain of command in case of an emergency.

The other report found fault with the stage design. It was not built to withstand the high winds that brought down the stage rigging on the crowd. Over $80,000 in fines have been issued by the Indiana Department of Labor, including about $63,000 against Mid-America Sound, which built the stage for the fair. As a result of this accident, the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission passed new regulations regarding temporary stages for outdoor events in Indiana at the beginning of May this year. Larger venues will be required to have their stages and rigging plans reviewed by an engineer and will have to provide documented emergency plans. Those smaller fairs or festivals that most likely could not afford the additional cost of an engineer's review would be required to leave additional space between the stage and the crowd. An eight-foot area between the between the crowd and the tallest height of the rigging would be necessary to avoid being in violation of the regulations.

Continue reading "As Personal Injury Lawsuits in Indiana Stage Collapse Continue, New Regulations Take Effect" »