Articles Posted in Catastrophic Personal Injury

swimming-pool-100155245.jpgEarlier this week, the pool at the Ansley Golf Club was the scene of the apparent accidental drowning of young girl. She was only four years old and was in her church preschool. The little girl’s passing is being mourned by her community. Her memorial service took place earlier this week. The accidental drowning appears to have occurred with a life guard on duty. The reports on this tragedy indicate that she fell into the pool, but no one saw this happen and no one noticed that she had fallen in. Perhaps this was because the event at which this tragedy took place was a party for the beginning of the pool season. Another recent drowning occurred at a Hall County suburb and took the life a toddler who apparently fell into a private pool. These two tragedies underscore the need for vigilance when kids are around swimming pools, lakes and ponds over the summer. Even the bath tub or a wading pool can be lethal, so we all need to remind ourselves about the things that can keep kids safer around water and water play.

Our Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control have made many recommendations for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe in areas where water is present. It is important to review these recommendations, some of which are included here.
The extent of this problem might be surprising. Two of every ten fatalities involving drowning involve children. Statistically, these children are under the age of about fourteen. Nearly 4,000 people are involved in unintentional drownings on an annual basis. Drownings that do not cause death can result in other life-changing problems including brain damage and related catastrophic injuries. Having represented victims of catastrophic injury, these injuries not only impact the victim, but the family and friends of that victim. These life-changing injuries often require ongoing support for many years.

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The Winter of 2014 will be remembered by our children and grandchildren. We will tell them stories about it and they will see photographs and carry memories of what has happened in the southern United States this year. The many vehicle crashes, stranded citizens, destroyed trees, power loss, kids at home rather than in their classrooms, these will all be remembered and shared for decades to come. The winter is serious. It has now taken lives of two more Georgia residents as we continue to wait out the freezing and dangerous conditions with accidents and injuries on many of our roads and highways over these past couple of weeks.

These conditions are not only dangerous for those attempting to drive in the snow and ice, but also those who are simply walking from one place to another. Although Georgians are not used to such severe weather here, most of us know that being outdoors in severe weather can be very dangerous for such hazards as frostbite. We also need to consider the danger that if something happens while we are outside, our bodies may not respond as they otherwise would in normal temperatures .

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgA local tragedy has caused many of us to consider our kids and their sports activities in a different way. Sports injuries are something we think about as we approach the start of school and football season. But we do not expect that young athletes risk their lives when getting out for football practice or for games. And thankfully, such risks are very rare. But when something happens close to home, like the loss of young life, we all need to pause and reflect.

Recently, a Fulton County high school football player passed away after an apparent scrimmage injury. Every year we hear about something like this on a basketball court or football field and we wonder, why is young life taken with no warning under these circumstances? As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I know the pain that families experience in losing a child and my heart goes out to the family of this fine young man.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has stated that the young Creekside High School football player passed away after being injured on the field and being taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. He apparently broke his neck during the scrimmage. The tragedy is made worse by the fact that football appears to have been at the center of this young man’s life. The University of Kentucky had already offered him a place in their football program after graduation and other schools were looking at him. He was said to have been an obvious Division One corner.

According to national reports, deaths from high school football are rare. Over the past decade, there have been an average of three fatal injuries on high school football fields.The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina retains statistics on sports injuries and deaths. There were no such deaths in 2012, which had not been the case since 1994.

Coaches and others have lauded the deceased young football player as a wonderful young man who was full of love for his family and for the game. His polite manner and esteem among his teammates is a testament to his memory now. But it is difficult to imagine the pain his family and friends are feeling, not to mention the sadness that will be present as the school year begins at his high school and at their games this season.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that it has been since 2009 that a Georgia football player has died on the field as occurred here.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for emergencyvehicle.jpegWe hoped for a happy and safe holiday weekend for all Georgians this Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the statistics are out now and 19 people were killed, with over 260 injured in holiday weekend accidents. Georgia’s Thanksgiving weekend last year saw 18 fatalities. All Georgians should take heed and be aware of the causes as we approach Christmas and New Year’s Eve next month. As a Gwinnett County injury lawyer, it saddens me to learn of these new reports on what happened in our area over the weekend.

The travel period for Thanksgiving is considered to be from the evening before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Georgia State Patrol was responsible for investigating over half of the fatal accidents. According to reports and a statement by the GSP, the main reasons for these accidents are alcohol, failure to wear seat belts and speed. One accident involved a single vehicle in Forsyth County and another involved a family in Norcross County. There is something remarkably common among these — all of them can be avoided.

Apparently, in four of the fatal accidents, alcohol is considered to be a factor that contributed to the crash. In seven of these fatal crashes, the victims failed to wear their safety belts. One of these accidents also involved a pedestrian.

As the holiday weekend began, a pedestrian accident was reported in Gwinnett County. Two pedestrians were found by a Gwinnett County police officer, having been seriously injured in what officials believe was a hit-and-run at Rockbridge Road and Stone Drive.

The hit and run is under investigation now. Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-270 provides that the driver of any vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident…” This provision also states that: “If such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.”

It is a felony to hit and run when death or serious injury are involved. Hit and run vehicles often have damage to them and officials are often able to connect the damage to the accident through family members or auto body shops that are on the look out for damage that would correlate to the injuries sustained. Very often, the vehicle tells the story.

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cheerleadersThe American Academy of Pediatrics has taken on an important issue for parents, kids, coaches and schools. In a recent policy statement that made the national news, the AAP has sent an alarming message on cheerleading injuries. These include injuries sustained after athletic stunts that have increased both the number and the severity of cheerleading injuries. As an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer, I am pleased that the AAP has taken a leadership position on this important issue.

The AAP wants all involved in cheerleading to “follow injury-prevention guidelines, develop emergency plans and ensure cheerleading programs have access to the same level of qualified coaches, medical care and injury surveillance as other sports.”

This is a great development. Some cheerleading stunts require a high-degree of skill. WIth stunts that have kids soaring to 15 feet and more … the possibility of serious injury is something that cannot be ignored since the number of catastrophic injuries is increasing. The statement can be read at the AAP site: “Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention,” and is published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

The reason this development is so important is that it will likely prevent serious and catastrophic injuries in some cases. Since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) doesn’t classify cheerleading as a sport. Without this, cheerleading doesn’t provide the protections that other sports have. According to the AAP, cheerleading needs “qualified coaches, well-maintained practice facilities, access to certified athletic trainers, mandated sports physicals and surveillance of injuries.”

The statistics are startling. The numbers of cheerleaders is increasing as are the injuries which amount to about 26,000 a year. One of the more stunning statistics is that cheerleading accounts for over 65 percent of all catastrophic injuries for female athletes in the past 25 years.

“Cheerleading is one of the highest risk sporting events for direct catastrophic injuries that can result in permanent brain injury, paralysis or death.” Pyramid stunts are among the most dangerous and common cause of serious injuries.

There are a number of recommendations made by the AAP for the prevention of injuries in the sport of cheerleading: make cheerleading a sport; require pre-season physicals and coaching for strength and conditioning prior to the season; train cheerleaders to spot properly; ensure that cheerleaders show the correct level of ability to safely do stunts; perform pyramid and partner stunts on softer appropriate surfaces and never on hard, wet or uneven surfaces; allow only pyramids to be only two people high.

AAP also calls for coaches, parents and athletes to have a written emergency plan and if a cheerleader is suspected to have a head injury, to get them out of competition or practice for a medical clearance. This is similar to recent suggestions on youth sport concussion guidelines.

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Thumbnail image for iStock_000001983354XSmall.jpgEarlier this year, we shared with readers preliminary news about a major accident on I-75 in Florida in which Cobb County residents lost their lives. Five members of a Cobb County church passed away in this tragedy. Now we are learning that several families are bringing lawsuits against Florida as a result of this crash. As I have noted in previous posts, in my work as a Georgia truck accident lawyer I follow incidents like this one, to learn what investigators determine are the causes of tragedies like this one.

Our own community was touched by this accident when the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that among the eleven people who lost their lives in the crash and 18 injured, were a local pastor, his wife and family members and friends.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received over 10 lawsuit notices related to the accident. Among the notices is one on behalf of injured and surviving family members of the Kennesaw, Georgia church group.

motorcyclistcountryroadiStock_000018067726XSmall.jpgThe Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta was a wonderful tribute to our service men and women as the community celebrated our troops in various and important ways. But for one man and his loved ones, tragedy struck unexpectedly as a world-class Augusta, Georgia athlete suffered a terrible and complex injury, one that I have dealt with in my practice as an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer.

Sunday morning, champion boxer Paul Williams who has twice been named top welterweight by the World Boxing Organization, was traveling on his motorcycle on South Marietta Parkway. He was in town for his brother’s wedding.

According to the reports by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and the Associated Press, he was traveling at a high rate of speed. The motorcycle he was riding crashed into an embankment as authorities stated the bike was traveling ” ‘too fast for conditions’ ” and ” ‘could not negotiate a curve.’ ” The bike went off the road and tragically, Mr. Williams’ spinal cord was severed. This is a very serious injury, depending on where on the spinal cord the injury occurs and how badly the spinal cord is severed, partially or completely.

Amazingly, his manager told the AP that he wants to fight again and get back on his bike although he is currently paralyzed from the waist down. It is also expected that Mr. Williams will make a statement this week. We wish him well and our prayers and thoughts are with him for his recovery.

From all accounts, he is in good spirits and wants to get back on his bike and box again. Touted as a very accomplished boxer, he has had a long career with significant successes and is reported to be one of the best in the world in his class. His sense of humor and outlook on life may well be the best tool he has to fight the tragedy that has befallen him.

Spinal cord injuries are complex and varied. As we have seen in past years with high profile cases like that of Christopher Reeves, individuals can live many years with these injuries through the help of medical advances in the understanding of this complex spinal cord system. Among the most common causes of spinal cord injuries are: car, truck and motorcycle accidents; falls, particularly in people over age 65; gun violence and sports, including diving as well as football and other contact sports.

In my work as an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer, I know that spinal cord injuries are life changing, complex and difficult both legally and emotionally. Not only is the victim dealing with pain and suffering, but there are very pragmatic aspects to these cases. Spinal cord injury victims must protect themselves financially as they may not be able to work in their chosen profession. They will likely have additional medical expenses throughout their lives.

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embers.jpgA Christmas morning fire that took the lives of nearly an entire family, serves as an important safety warning for all Georgians for general and holiday fire safety. In my practice as a Gwinnett County catastrophic injury lawyer, I have helped many Georgia families who have experienced tragic accidents and wrongful death of loved ones.

Often families are able to eventually move past their grief and use the tragedy they have experienced to help others. That is what I hope will be the outcome of the terrible fire that took place over the Christmas holiday.

Please make sure that you are aware of how to keep your family safe from fire danger. It is important to learn about what you can do to ensure that tragedy does not happen to you as it did to the family members lost in the Christmas day fire.

distracted driver.jpgEarlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would like to see states ban calling and texting while driving. They extended this recommendation even to hand-free devices which apparently do not completely eliminate distracted driving risks. Here in Georgia, I serve as an Atlanta area accident lawyer and represent drivers harmed in serious motor vehicle crashes. Safe driving can certainly help avoid tragedy, but how far should lawmakers go in managing these risks?

Many states differ in this regard, some have complete bans on the use of cell phones unless it is hands free like California and New York. Georgia bans texting while driving, but allows the use of cell phones whether hand-held or not. Specifically, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 40-6-241.2 prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle on any public road or highway “while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.” It is worth noting that even reading a text is prohibited, which could be viewed as similar to picking up the phone to make a call.

It is also worth a few minutes of your time to go to the NTSB site linked above, to find out why the NTSB asks rhetorically, so “what’s the big deal” and to review the statistics. We know that 3.092 people lost their lives last year because a driver was distracted while behind the wheel. If we were able to talk with those people now, what do you think they would say about driving distracted?

iStock_000003411145XSmall.jpgBy now, we all know that seat belts save lives and that “click it or ticket” are mainstays of federal and state government and law enforcement efforts to encourage families to buckle up. In my representation of many serious motor vehicle accident victims and their families, as a Gwinnett County catastrophic injury lawyer, in my view, anything that can reduce deaths and injuries is vitally important.

But for some reason, drivers and passengers are still yet to have learned to buckle up every time they get into a motor vehicle. It is never easy to reconcile human behavior with safety measures that are available to us, but that we do not use. So when it comes to seat belt use, the failure to use a seatbelt even when the dashboard in a modern vehicle is telling us to buckle up, is puzzling and sometimes tragic.

The National Highway Safety Administration touts its “Click It or Ticket (CIOT)” campaign as the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign in the history of our country and says it has helped to create the “highest national seat belt usage rate of 85 percent.” The State of Georgia has had its own successful Click It or Ticket campaign and continues to encourage us to buckle up.

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