| Read Time: 2 minutes | defective products

Have You Been Treated for Injuries Caused by an IVC Filter?

Each year, over 600,000 people suffer a pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot formed in the leg breaks loose and travels to the lungs. More than 60,000 die, most within 30 to 60 minutes after symptoms start. Common treatment options begin with oral and injectable anticoagulant medications, also known as blood thinners, and end with the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. IVC filters have been in use since the late 1960s, with a marked increase in use beginning in the late 1990s with the development of removable IVC filters. What is an IVC Filter? An IVC filter is a tiny metal device that can be described as cage-like or spider-like, which is implanted in the inferior vena cava, the artery that returns blood from the legs to the heart. The design of the IVC filter allows it to catch blood clots before they can travel toward the lungs. It is used as a last resort treatment for individuals who cannot take anticoagulant medications or those who are taking anticoagulants and still develop clots. Approved by FDA Without Testing Removable IVC filters have been approved by the FDA through their 510(k) clearance process. This process allows manufacturers to bypass the process of conducting new safety studies if their new device is similar to another device already on the market. This means that new designs of existing devices are not subject to rigorous testing to prove safety before being used by the medical community. The Dangers of IVC Filters IVC filters can fragment and migrate throughout the body, with potentially fatal outcomes if the fragments migrate into the heart, lungs, or other vital organs. By 2010, the FDA had issued a cautionary bulletin to doctors, following over 900 reports of adverse events involving IVC filters. Failure of IVC filters can include: Device fracture and fragmentation Device migration Embolization to heart or lungs Perforations of blood vessels Symptoms of IVC Filter Failure IVC filters come in two designs – permanent and removable. Removable IVC filters are designed for retrieval once the blood clot issue has resolved, but design flaws and fragmentation can render these filters impossible to remove. Individuals with a removable IVC filter that has fragmented and/or migrated are at an increased risk for severe complications, chronic pain, and even death. Symptoms of IVC filter failure can include but are not limited to: Rapid heartbeat Blood around the heart Difficulty breathing Nausea Vomiting blood Intermittent abdominal or back pain Gastric pain Have you or a family member been injured by an ICV filter? The manufacturers of IVC filters have repeatedly failed to warn the public about the potential risks associated with their devices. If you or a family member have suffered serious side effects from the use of an IVC filter, you may be entitled to compensation. Filters designed and produced by Bard Medical, Cook Medical, and Boston Scientific in particular have produced a high rate of failure for their devices. If you know or suspect that a faulty IVC filter was used to treat a blood clot issue in you or a family member, contact the Gerling Firm. An attorney experienced in medical products liability can help you understand your legal rights. Contact Gerling for a free case evaluation today.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | defective products

Airbag Recalls, Public Safety, and Your Legal Rights

The news about the Takata airbag recall seems to get worse and worse. In addition to the ever-expanding recall, news sources report that manufacturer Takata became aware of the issue in 2004 and yet continued to manufacture a faulty design regardless of data culled from crash reports. Similarly, in the wake of the GM recall earlier in 2014, data that should have been more closely examined by the NHTSA was instead ignored in favor of a quick out. If we cannot rely on manufacturers and watchdog groups to examine crash data and act in an appropriate manner to protect the public, where do we place our trust? It’s not as if manufacturers and public safety agencies don’t have access to solid data regarding crash statistics. There is a significant volume of information available, and qualified statisticians can examine this data to determine what action should be taken to protect the consumer. Unfortunately, this data is sometimes discounted or unexamined, for any number of reasons. What is the responsibility of the manufacturer? Vehicle components are manufactured by numerous outside companies. It is the responsibility of each manufacturer to design and test their components to meet established safety standards. It is also the responsibility of the car maker to heed the information provided by the manufacturer, in addition to data received from crash results. Component failures as a result of accidents are often examined by engineers at the manufacturer, as was the case at Takata in 2004. However, merely testing and examining the data does not always result in corrective action being taken on the manufacturer level. According to a story by the New York Times, Takata engineers conducted tests on deployed airbags in 2004 and determined that there was a significant design flaw that made the airbags extremely dangerous to vehicle occupants in a crash. Based on these findings, the Takata engineers began to redesign the airbag assembly, only to have their work abruptly stopped by company executives. The data accrued from these tests was ordered destroyed, and the manufacture of airbags continued to progress based on the original (though faulty) design. What is the responsibility of the NHTSA? Because cars continued to be manufactured with the Takata airbags as originally designed, a different set of data began to accrue from accident reports: persons injured or killed by exploding airbags. Car makers are required to report crash data to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), which is responsible for independently examining such data to identify trends. Accident data, when indicative of a trend, is used to determine if a recall is advised or necessary. While the data continued to mount regarding the airbag defect, the NHTSA instead chose to accept the assertion from Takata that the defect was the result of exposure to high humidity and therefore limited in scope – even after an initial recall of 4,000 Hondas for this issue, back in 2008. What happens when something falls through the cracks? The NHTSA sifts through a mountain of crash data every year and relies on car makers and component manufacturers to provide thorough information for assessment. Through the data provided and testing conducted by the NHTSA, recalls and advisories can be issued for a specific problem. However, the NHTSA can sometimes operate at a glacial pace, and recalls are not issued in a timely manner. This can be devastating to the general public. Can you depend on others to look out for public safety? Public safety can be a dicey business. Manufacturers balance safety with profit margins and must answer to shareholders. Oftentimes a problem such as the Takata airbag recall is so large and goes on for so many years that millions of consumers are put in harm’s way, just for the sake of company profitability. How important is it to seek out an individual to represent your interests? The question becomes, then, who can you trust to balance the scales in favor of your safety? This is where individuals such as attorneys step into the gap. An attorney versed in product liability laws can dive into the issue at hand and determine who is responsible and how far back that responsibility goes. While anyone can notice a problem and advocate for change, it is often those in the legal field who have the experience and depth of knowledge needed to make an immediate and long-lasting impact. Most attorneys are well aware of the reputation of the legal profession in today’s society, and yet the vast majority of lawyers out there wouldn’t dream of doing anything else for a living. Regardless of how society views the legal system, the fact remains that lawyers are champions of individual legal rights. We are committed to helping others solve problems that might seem overwhelming on the surface. So when an issue such as the Takata airbag recall begins to unspool in such a spectacular fashion, attorneys step in to assist individuals and their families in preserving their legal rights. The GM recall and the Takata airbag recall are prime examples of how a system designed to protect the public can be circumvented and rendered ineffective. Shoddy research and willful ignorance on the behalf of manufacturers and public safety groups can put individuals in danger, and it becomes the responsibility of attorneys to protect consumers. Hiring a lawyer means placing your trust in someone who has pledged to represent your interests, and it is a responsibility that your attorney takes very seriously.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | defective products

Massive Airbag Recall: Are You In Danger?

In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the recent recall of GM vehicles; including vehicles worldwide, the recall currently affects 16.5 million automobiles. The Problem Airbags produced by manufacturer Takata contain a flaw that causes the airbag, when deployed, to inflate explosively, causing parts inside the airbag ignition system to break off. These parts, made of plastic and metal, effectively become shrapnel, puncturing the airbag’s fabric and seriously injuring the vehicle’s occupants. In affected Honda vehicles, rupturing airbags have contributed to two deaths and more than 30 injuries, with an additional 139 injuries reported from a varied collection of other manufacturers using the Takata airbags. The Cause There is particular urgency for vehicles located in high-humidity areas, such as the South, because the defect is associated with the airbag ignition source, which uses ammonium nitrate as a source for ignition and inflation of the airbag. Ammonium nitrate is sensitive to moisture, and it is suspected that the flaw in the affected airbags involves exposure of the compound to air-born moisture found in hot, humid areas. The NHTSA advises consumers living in hot, humid areas – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and US territories American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands – to have their vehicle inspected immediately. But regardless of where you live (and Southern Indiana can be hot and humid, too), assessing your vehicle’s risk for this recall should be done as soon as possible. The Legal Impact Happening so closely on the heels of the GM recall, the Takata airbag recall is alarming due to the incredible slowness of auto companies to respond to this defect. The issue with Takata’s airbags dates back to 2004, when Honda first noticed the defect and filed the necessary paperwork with the NHTSA. The defect was reported again in 2007, and continued to be reported as recently as 2009 and 2010, in which airbags deployed and exploded in minor accidents, severely injuring or killing vehicle occupants. Despite the reports filed as required by law, further investigation into the issue was limited at best. Only after Honda issued a second recall for the same issue did other automobile manufacturers begin to question the safety of the airbag products in use in their own product lines. According to a recent news article in the New York Times, when Takata became aware of the malfunction of its airbags in 2004, safety engineers at the company were ordered to conduct secret tests to determine the scope of the problem. The results of these tests led engineers to begin designing fixes for the issue in advance of a recall, but executives at Takata instead ordered testing data destroyed and maintained the existing airbag design. It was only after the growing body of evidence, several years in the making, pointed to a significant issue with the Takata airbag design that the NHTSA issued the airbag recall. Affected Models This recall affects more than 50 models manufactured between 2000 and 2011. The manufacturers include: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. The NHTSA recommends you check your vehicle’s VIN number to determine if your vehicle is one affected by this recall. You can check your VIN number here. If your vehicle is affected by the airbag recall If you determine that your vehicle’s airbags are affected by this recall, contact your dealer’s service department and make arrangements for the necessary repairs. If you’ve been injured If you, a family member, or friend have been involved in an auto accident in which your airbags have deployed and ruptured due to this defect, causing injury or death, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced attorney for a review of the facts of your case.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | safety

Be Informed When Using Alternative Medicine

Do you use alternative medicine instead of mainstream methods of medicine, and how certain are you about its effectiveness on your overall health? Alternatives to traditional medicine – known broadly by such terms as alternative medicine, holistic medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, and natural medicine – have in recent years become more popular across all segments of  the population. However, alternative medicine can be dangerous, and using common sense will go a long way to protecting yourself from unscrupulous alternative medicine manufacturers. The attraction of “alternative” medicine Pharmaceutical companies bear some of the blame in driving people toward alternative medicine. It seems that any pharmaceutical advertising that we see on television or read in magazines also comes with a lengthy disclaimer. You know these disclaimers: “May cause dry mouth, constipation, seizures, increased risk of stroke…” Often it seems that the cure is worse than the disease, and while legally the pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to include these disclaimers in their advertising, a laundry list of possible side effects may make people reluctant to try FDA-approved medications. Additionally, the cost of some pharmaceuticals is beyond what many patients are willing or able to pay, and this may cause some to seek different treatment options. These factors may mean that people are more willing to try “natural” remedies as a part of their treatment. Unfortunately, a “natural” remedy may not help, and may in fact worsen the health issue. Not vetted by the FDA While there’s certainly nothing wrong with chicken soup when you have a cold, alternative treatments for many illnesses and diseases can actually do more harm than good. When you choose to forego conventional medicine in favor of alternative therapies, there is a possibility that your illness will worsen. Examples of alternative medicine include megadoses of vitamins, herbal preparations, dietary supplements, herbal teas, use of massage or manual therapies, magnets, nutritional extremes, and spiritual healing. If you examine the labels on some of the various “remedies” and supplements used in alternative medicine, you will see a disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Regardless if the manufacturer makes the claim that a supplement will treat or cure a disease, they must legally include this disclaimer on their label, as the FDA does not evaluate such claims. Only established pharmaceuticals can legally make the claim that they are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease, and only after a thorough process of investigation and testing by the FDA. A brief history of alternative medicine Alternative medicine, ironically enough, was mainstream medicine once upon a time. Ancient societies relied on shamans and healers to treat their illnesses and ailments, and many of the therapies used in alternative medicine today stem from those dark ages. However, as civilization became more sophisticated, and as science developed, many of these treatments were proven to be harmful or ineffective. Modern medicine developed as scientific advances were made, and continues to develop today, while the methods of the old shamans and healers continue to fade into the annals of history. What about “integrated” or “complementary” medicine? Some physicians have expressed a willingness to use alternative treatments alongside the more traditional forms of medicine in use today. These alternative treatments have been proven scientifically to perform just as well as today’s pharmaceuticals, without some of the side effects found with medicines currently in use. Physicians who adapt some forms of alternative medicine into their practice tend to promote this type of treatment as “integrated” or “complementary” medicine, as it supplements the traditional form of medicine in use today. For example, a doctor may determine that a supplement of Vitamin B-12 would be beneficial for a patient undergoing treatment for anemia, and may suggest a certain dosage of this vitamin in addition to the course of treatment the patient is undergoing. The supplemental B-12 would complement the treatment rather than presume to solve the issue as a stand-alone treatment. The difference here is that the supplemental medical treatment is directed by a licensed, board-certified physician whose primary oath to his or her profession is, “first, do no harm.” If it looks like a duck… You may be wondering why aromatherapy or oil-pulling or reflexology seems to work for some people and not others. The answer is best left to the scientific community, because research is ongoing in order to prove or discredit many alternative medicine treatments. So far, no one has cured cancer by using herbs and megadose vitamins and it’s unlikely they will. An editorial in the Journal of American Medical Association in 1998 spells out the medical community’s feelings on the subject of alternative medicine very well: “There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking.” Until the scientific evidence proves the effectiveness of alternative medicine treatments, you would be wise to approach this subject with caution. Please understand that there are no national licensing standards for alternative medicine practitioners, and the requirements for credentials or certifications vary from state to state. Government regulations, licenses, and certificates do not guarantee safe, effective treatment. Also, be aware that some individuals who offer alternative medicine treatments are not licensed in any way to provide medical advice. Sometimes what appears to be quackery is exactly that. Abandoning contemporary medicine in favor of alternative methods can be dangerous and harmful to your long-term health. When it comes to alternative medicine, thoroughly investigate the claims being made and draw your own conclusions. Talk with your doctor. If you choose to use alternative therapies, please involve all of your healthcare professionals, so that they may have a complete picture of the methods being used to maintain or improve your overall health. Finally, if your health has been damaged by alternative medicine, speaking with an experienced attorney can help you to determine whether you have legal recourse.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | personal injury

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Most of us have been affected by drunken driving in some way – whether through personal experience or through our acquaintance with someone else’s personal experience – and yet it continues to occur despite our awareness of the problem. In a society where it’s always “5 o’clock somewhere,” the legal ramifications of drinking and driving are well established, and though we know that driving while under the influence is bad, we rationalize such a risky behavior. After all, it’s a fine line between a drink with dinner and being too impaired to safely drive. Measuring BAC BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, can be measured by breath, blood, and urine tests. The accuracy of these tests is dependent upon a number of factors, and the choice of which test to use is most often based on convenience and portability. The technology available to law enforcement officials allows for a simple assessment in the field using a breath analysis device, more commonly known as a breathalyzer. What is Considered “Drunken” Driving? Most people can tell you what the “legal limit” is in their area. In Indiana, a BAC of at least .08% puts you over the limit. The amount of alcohol you must consume to reach these numbers is dependent on many factors, including (but not limited to) your gender, body weight, and rate/duration of consumption. In short, what puts one person over the limit may not have the same effect on someone else. Drunken Driving and You If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver, you know the impact firsthand. Every hour of every day, someone is injured or killed in a crash involving an impaired driver. In fact, an average of one in three people will be involved in a drunken driving crash in their lifetime. Those who manage to survive a crash often face long months or years of recovery and may never regain the quality of life they knew before the accident. They may never be able to return to their career, support their family, or care for themselves. For the person convicted of impaired driving, the impact of such a conviction will have far-reaching consequences, beyond incarceration. A DUI/DWI conviction can result in a suspension or surrender of a driver’s license, which can result in loss of employment if a position requires driving as part of the job description. A job search can also be affected, since most employers conduct a criminal background check on potential employees. Even a first-time DUI offense can impact a person’s ability to obtain certain jobs, regardless if that person’s criminal record is otherwise clear. Some colleges and universities refuse admittance to those with a DUI conviction, and certain state certification and licensing entities, such as those for educators or physicians, prohibit certification for individuals with a DUI on their record. And for those whose DUI conviction is classified as a felony, certain rights – such as the right to vote, purchase or possess a firearm, or obtain a passport – are surrendered. The Bottom Line Alcohol affects a person’s judgment, depth perception, and the motor skills necessary to safely operate a vehicle. And while there are many home remedies for overindulgence, the fact is that coffee, cold showers, or exercising do not mitigate the effects of alcohol in a person’s body. The only cure for alcohol consumption is the passage of time. The human body, regardless of gender or weight, metabolizes alcohol at a rate of about one drink per hour. Consuming alcohol at a pace beyond that rate increases the potential for an individual to become a statistic. In fact, more than 10,000 Americans become a statistic to drunken driving each year, and those who survive an alcohol-related accident may never fully recover. While there is some legal recourse for those affected by an impaired driver, decreasing the number of alcohol-related accidents has the ability to positively impact the statistics nationwide. If you or a loved one have been injured by the actions of a drunk driver, it can be to your benefit to talk with an attorney. Gerling has extensive experience in representing persons whose lives have been turned upside down by someone else’s decision to drink and drive.

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