Recent Developments in the Product Liability Arena

Defective products have long been the subject of civil litigation, but it is not really as simple as it sounds. According to the website of Wilson & McQueen, PLLC in Lexington, there are many legal considerations that come into play when you go against big corporations especially in a product liability case. It is only with competent legal representation that you can have any chance of being heard.

The most prominent cases currently in the product liability arena concern defective pharmaceutical products, medical devices, and automobiles. But there are other types of products that may be making life miserable for more folks because they are more commonly used. Let’s take a look at some of the everyday products that are coming under fire lately.

Washing machines

There has been a lot of noise made about front-loading washing machines which make clothes moldy. A class action suit is pending against four of the biggest names in washing machines for design defects in their front loading machines that allow biological debris to accumulate with no real way of getting them out, resulting in odoriferous and potentially dangerous mold and mildew growth in the home. If you have noticed that your newly-washed clothes smell funky, it may not be you after all. Contact a product liability lawyer in your area for more details on the front-loading washing machine conundrum.

All-Natural foods

Food labels have become more important to an increasingly health-conscious population, so it is common practice for food makers to label their products “All-Natural” whenever possible.  This practice has recently come under attack as consumers question the truth in their advertising. The issue currently being hashed out now is whether genetically-modified (GMO) food can be considered “all-natural.” The Food and Drug Administration has already refused to make a ruling, leaving it to the courts to decide. Whatever it is, it is believed it will have widespread repercussions in the food industry.  Stay tuned.

Burn Complications

The skin is the largest organ of the human body, providing a protective covering to ward off infections and to regulate temperature. When the skin is extensively damaged to the lower layers by electricity, chemicals, radiation, friction or heat, there are many complications that can ensue over and above the fact that it is extremely painful and disfiguring.

The most urgent concern is the risk of infection. Because the skin has been breached, the patient is vulnerable to bacteria and other pathogens that can easily get into the bloodstream and affect the entire body. When the body attempts to fight off infection, it leads to inflammation and a condition called sepsis, and this can progress quickly into a life-threatening condition.

Another complication of burn injuries is the loss of fluid and blood because of damage to the blood vessels. It can lead to a condition called hypovolemia (low blood volume) which can make it hard for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

The loss of a large amount of healthy skin can also lead to dangerous amounts of body heat that the body cannot produce in equal amounts. This is called hypothermia, which is also life-threatening.
Burn victims may also develop respiratory problems if they were in a fire because inhaling heated air and smoke damages airways. Many people who die in a burning building do so from smoke inhalation rather than by being burned by the fire.

As mentioned in the article on the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter in Dallas, burn victims face multiple painful operations over several months to harvest from unburned areas of the body to graft them over the burned areas to encourage the growth of new skin, and even then the appearance is far from normal. Moreover, in the healing process tendons can shorten and scarring can contract the skin, considerably limiting movement.

If you were burned because of the negligence of others, you are in the best position to describe the pain and suffering you experienced as a result. You should hold the responsible parties liable so that you will at least be able to get the medical treatment you need and recover financially from your losses. Consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area with experience in dealing with burn cases to get just compensation.

Side Effects of Alloderm on Trial

As cynics like to say, there’s always a catch. What seemed to be the ideal solution to a painful situation has turned out to be less so as time has revealed, and in the medical field, that often means a lawsuit.

This is the current situation for LifeCell, mother company Kinetic Concepts Inc., and tissue matrix product Alloderm. Alloderm is an organic surgical mesh that is called an acellular  dermis, meaning that all biological material has been removed save for the dermal matrix to prevent rejection, that was designed to help burn victims grow tissue faster. It was first introduced in 1994 and had numerous successful applications making a lot of money for its manufacturer. So it was with confidence that LifeCell marketed the product for use in hernia repair because it could be done laparoscopically, which is less invasive than the traditional open technique. And that’s when the bubble burst.

Hernia repair using Alloderm proved to have an alarmingly high rate of failure and injury. The side effects of Alloderm in hernia repair typically required removal and repair surgery. There was a recurrence of the condition, pain, infection, swelling, and tissue adhesion. In 2012, the first cases were filed against LifeCell and KCI, alleging that the company failed to properly test the product for hernia repair while marketing it for that application. The cases had become so numerous that it was consolidated into a multidistrict litigation case in New Jersey.

Currently, the trial is set to select the bellwether cases that will be representative of the more than 300 cases that have been filed against the manufacturer. If you or someone in the family has suffered injury from the use of Alloderm for hernia repair, you may be able to file a case against LifeCell as well. Consult with a lawyer who has experience in dealing with Alloderm cases and find out your legal options.

Dealing with Foreclosure

The economic crisis has hit a lot of people where it hurts most: the home. Plunging real estate values, rising interest rates, and sudden unemployment have all come together to make hitherto stable finances teeter on the edge of disaster. In increasing numbers, homeowners are facing foreclosure all over the US.

There are three ways that you can deal with the threat of foreclosure. You can ignore it and hope it goes away. You can panic and try to raise money to settle your arrears. You can keep calm and explore some debt management strategies.

Ignoring it will obviously not work as inevitably the sheriff man cometh. Getting together all that you can beg and borrow from family friends (who are in all probability also in the same situation) will probably work as a stopgap but unless there is a substantial increase in the cash flow, essentially throwing good money after bad. Debt management, on the other hand, is a more proactive way to go. Essentially, managing debt is simply weighing what you have against what you have to pay, and resolving to make them at least equal. If things are not yet so far advanced as to be irreclaimable, you could get help from a credit counselor to help you cut on costs and increase income so as to balance out the equation. In some instances you could look into consolidating all your debts to get a better rate, or negotiating with your lenders to restructure the terms of your debt for longer repayment period and/or lower monthly payments.

But if foreclosure is imminent, you may have to file for bankruptcy. If you are employed with the requisite income, you may do well with a Chapter 13 filing, which is essentially a court-supervised debt restructuring scheme. If you have no income, you may do better with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is an asset liquidation program. However, there are many things that come into play when filing for bankruptcy. Before taking the plunge, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to better understand what you may be getting into and to get an accurate assessment of what would be your best legal option.

Ways to Lower Your Insurance Rates

Car insurance is mandatory in most states in the U.S., with the exception of New Hampshire, California and Wisconsin, although even the last two require some type of proof of financial responsibility. The rationale behind this sweeping regulation is to ensure that in case of an accident, the associated costs can be covered by the driver whether it is property damage or personal injury to all parties concerned.

But what you need to pay for this assurance is not exactly pocket change. Even in areas with the lowest average car insurance rates, the annual premium is still almost $1,000 (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), but this still depends on a number of factors including your coverage, driving record, vehicle, distance driven, demographics, and location. It is obviously desirable to lower your insurance rates as much as possible. Here are some ways to do it.

Lower Coverage

It is good to have comprehensive insurance coverage, but that will really knock that money ball right out of the park. Calculate how much insurance you think you need based on your track record and get as close to it as possible that your budget will allow. Needless to say, the lower your coverage, the lower your premiums.

Drive Safe

Insurance companies calculate the premiums based on the risks. If you are a bad driver, it will reflect on how often you make a claim for what and for how much. If you are a really bad driver, insurance companies won’t cover you at all. If you want the lowest possible rate, keep your driving record clean by driving defensively, using products that make driving safer such as Bluetooth headsets for your mobile phone, and driving sober.

Choose a Safe Vehicle

Insurers have a handle on cars that are prone to theft, accidents, and damage, which are then assigned a vehicle safety rating. The higher the rating, the lower the premiums. If you are just about to buy a car, choose a vehicle that has a high safety rating.

Drive Less

If you drive long distances on a regular basis, you are likely to pay more for insurance every year because statistics show that the more miles travelled, the higher the risk of an accident even if you are a safe driver. You may want to consider commuting or carpooling to reduce your exposure to accidents as well as your insurance premiums.

Single males under the age of 25 are the highest risk group for accidents based on actuarial tables, so if you fall under that category, there’s not much you can do. As for location, unless you really pay an outrageous amount in car insurance (Detroiters can pay as much as $10,723.22 a year) you probably won’t want to move just to lower you insurance rates. But then again, people have done more for less.