What is a Mass Tort and How Do Courts Handle Them?

A mass tort occurs when a single instance of negligence causes injury to a large number of people. Mass torts are common in cases involving common carriers — a plane crash for instance. But mass tort litigation has also become common in cases involving product liability. Mass torts can be a serious drain on judicial resources by forcing courts to repeatedly re-litigate essentially the same case. They can also pose a threat to judicial integrity should two essentially identical cases end in different results. For these reasons, state and federal courts frequently take a special approach to these types of cases.

The first approach is the class action lawsuit. This is where a small number of plaintiffs initiate litigation on behalf of a large class of similarly injured parties. The class members need not be individually identified and have minimal participation in the process. This type of case is most appropriate where a large number of people suffered a fairly minor loss.

The second approach is consolidated litigation in which the court takes numerous individual lawsuits and consolidates them into a single action. In the federal system, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is responsible for regulating this process and frequently consolidates cases across several judicial districts or even states. This type of litigation is more appropriate for serious personal injuries — such as vaginal mesh, Pradaxa® and Actos® litigation. The plaintiffs are individually identified and closely participate in the litigation process but do so under special procedures that promote efficiency and uniformity while preserving judicial resources.

Pradaxa Litigation Consolidated in Federal Court

Mass torts — cases in which a large number of individuals suffer harm due to a single instance of negligence — present numerous legal and administrative issues. In order to handle these cases quickly, efficiently and fairly, courts must be ready to adapt by creating systems that promote the uniform and equitable resolution of such claims. The current flood of Pradaxa® litigation is no exception.

Since the FDA issued its warning regarding Pradaxa bleeding risks in December of 2011, a flood of claims have flowed into federal courts across the nation from individual patients and their families who suffered harm due to the drug’s numerous side effects. More than 200 deaths have already been documented and Pradaxa lawyers expect as many as 500 more claims could surface in the near future. As a result, on August 8 the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal Pradaxa lawsuits consolidated into a single action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The Honorable Judge David Herndon presides over this case, entitled In re Pradaxa Product Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2385. A recent order issued by Judge Herndon notes that as of July 25, there were 36 substantially similar Pradaxa cases pending across 14 separate federal judicial districts.

If you or a family member has been injured by Pradaxa side effects, an experienced products liability lawyer at Phillips Law Offices can explain how this recent development affects your rights and what you need to do to start the process of receiving fair compensation.

Don’t Be Overlooked By Your Company: These Construction Accidents Are Even More Serious Than You Think

When you decided to become a construction worker, you knew that it was more dangerous than the typical job. You deserve working conditions that are as safe as possible and an employer who puts your well-being ahead of profit. Too often, this is just not the case. Construction companies facing tight deadlines or having problems with cash flow may knowingly choose to purchase unsafe supplies. They may also pressure workers to work more hours than their bodies can handle, which often leads to accidents. The 10 most common construction accidents include:

  • Crane accidents
  • Defective equipment
  • Electrocution
  • Forklift injuries
  • Machine malfunctions
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Injuries as a visitor or pedestrian
  • Falls from elevated heights
  • Workers being injured by fallen objects
  • Scaffolding accidents

Of these 10 construction site accidents, scaffolding accidents occur the most often and can cause the greatest degree of injuries. Scaffolding is a temporary elevated platform that construction workers stand on to perform their jobs. When it gives way, workers can be seriously injured or even fall to their deaths.

If you are a construction worker in the Chicago area who has been injured in a workplace accident, Phillips Law Offices would like to assist you with collecting the compensation you deserve. In these types of accident situations, it can be difficult to know who is to blame. Our experienced construction accident lawyers will look at all of the factors in your case and prepare a case against the responsible party.

Live or Work in Chicago? It’s Time to Learn to Drive More Safely

Chicago has a massive amount of commuter traffic. With so many drivers on the road, the risk of being involved in a serious automotive accident is always present. To avoid causing an accident or being struck by another car, all Chicago drivers need to adopt practical driving habits to make the city’s roads safer.

Many Chicago drivers use dangerous strategies to get to their destination on time. Unfortunately, when these people come to their senses, it’s often after they have injured a family or spent weeks in a hospital bed recovering. City driving requires patience and a high level of awareness. Here are a few tips that all drivers can use to travel through Chicago safely.

Be aware of your intersections

The first rule of city driving is to always let minor inconveniences happen. You’re not going to make every green light. People have to cross the street. Stopping at intersections and waiting for traffic to clear is far better than causing an accident and being liable for someone else’s injuries. Experts estimate that 50 percent of all collisions in cities occur at intersections. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who run red lights cause 260,000 injuries annually, including 750 fatal accidents.

Green lights are also dangerous. When you’re approaching a “stale” light, be prepared to brake. If traffic is moving, pedestrians are standing at the corner and cross-traffic is waiting, the light is probably stale. Always yield the right-of-way, and avoid rolling stops. Bad driving habits can cause auto accidents and pedestrian collisions. Once the light turns green, make sure the intersection is clear before you proceed.

In addition to obeying traffic lights, it is best to:

  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones, fiddling with a GPS, changing music, etc.
  • Always check your blind spots when changing lanes
  • Don’t tailgate
  • Keep a safe following distance — three seconds is recommended
  • Always make a complete stop when turning right on red (when it’s legal) and check both ways for pedestrians before accelerating
  • When waiting to make a left, keep your wheels straight. In case you get rear-ended, you won’t end up in oncoming traffic

Exercising safe driving habits is the easiest way to avoid collisions. Auto accidents can inflict debilitating injuries on both drivers and passengers. If you have been injured in a car accident, call experienced Chicago law firm Phillips Law Offices to get the compensation and professional representation that you need.

The Unfortunate Statistics Behind Scaffolding Accidents

Scaffolding accidents are a common occupational hazard for construction employees. Obviously, a fall from towering scaffolding is likely to cause serious harm or death. For that reason, if you’ve been injured in a scaffolding fall, you need experienced representation like you’ll find at Phillips Law Offices. We can help you sort through your options to find the best way to protect your rights.

How you might be injured on scaffolding

Scaffolding is dangerous. Numerous things can cause scaffolding to collapse, including:

  • Equipment or debris that has fallen from above
  • A collision with a crane, forklift or truck
  • Ladder failure
  • No safety devices, such as safety nets, safety lines, guardrails or fall arrest systems
  • Manufacturing flaws or defects in the design
  • Improper use of safety equipment
  • Safety equipment failure
  • Planks that slip
  • Unsafe conditions

Scaffolding accident statistics

  • Some 4,500 workers are injured every year in scaffolding falls. About 50 of those injuries result in death.
  • One out of every 10 work-related deaths is caused by a fall.
  • Scaffolds and ladders are involved in approximately 40 percent of injuries caused by falling.
  • Falls are the most common cause of construction-related deaths in the United States.

If correct safety precautions are followed, the majority of falls can be prevented. Usually, accidents occur when employers try to save money and time by cutting corners. Improper training of employees is another reason for scaffolding accidents.

If you were injured in a scaffolding mishap, contact Phillips Law Offices. We’ll investigate the circumstances surrounding your injury to build an effective case so that you get the compensation you deserve. We know how to present the evidence and enlist the testimony of expert product engineers, doctors and other authorities to help you win your case and obtain rightful compensation.

The Nasty Side of Pradaxa®

Some prescription drugs can hurt more than they help. A good example is Pradaxa (dabigatran), which is a blood thinning medication approved by the FDA. It is meant to lower the chance of a stroke in people suffering from non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib). It works by reducing the blood’s ability to form clots. In contrast to other blood thinners like Heparin, Pradaxa doesn’t have a counteracting drug to stop the bleeding if a patient using the drug is cut. Some 1.1 million prescriptions for Pradaxa were distributed by pharmacies in the United States between October 2010 and August 2011.

Patients using Pradaxa experience serious bleeding more often than users of other blood-thinning medications. From March 2008 to October 2011, approximately 260 cases of fatal bleeding occurred in Pradaxa users according to the drug’s manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim.

Patients with the highest risk for abnormal bleeding include the following groups:

  • People with pre-existing kidney problems
  • Patients over the age of 75
  • People with ulcers or stomach bleeding
  • Patients taking drugs that raise the risk of bleeding, such as other blood thinners, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin

Patients using Pradaxa should contact their primary care physicians right away if they experience any of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting blood
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Red or black stools
  • Brown or pink urine
  • Frequent nose bleeds

If you’re taking Pradaxa, don’t stop taking it until you’ve spoken with your physician because you might increase your risk of a stroke. Before undergoing surgery or dental work, notify your healthcare professional that you take Pradaxa.

If you’ve suffered severe bleeding that required hospitalization or if a loved one has died from cerebral hemorrhaging, contact us at Phillips Law Offices. We can let you know if you’re entitled to compensation. Big pharmaceutical companies have a battery of attorneys representing them. We’ll stand beside you and fight for your rights if you’ve been injured by Pradaxa.

When Improper Medical Treatment Warrants a Call to Your Lawyer

A study published by the Institute of Medicine reports that 98,000 people die every year from medical negligence. Medical malpractice is strictly defined by the law as providing medical care that does not meet professionally accepted standards or acting negligently by failing to provide the proper care.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are accepted and filed by experienced attorneys after the information has been vetted through several steps. The first of these steps is determining whether medical malpractice was the cause of the injury. If you have experienced any of the following situations, then it is in your best interests to discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney.

Extended delay in diagnosis

Doctors should be able to perform an accurate diagnosis within an acceptable timeframe. If your doctor does not diagnose your medical condition in a timely manner, then it may progress and cause injuries or symptoms that could have been avoided.

Improper diagnosis

The medical community grants that some conditions are very difficult to diagnose, but all other possibilities must be rejected before a diagnosis is accepted. If your condition is diagnosed incorrectly, you could be given the wrong treatment.

No warning of procedural risks

Most treatments and diagnostic procedures are not without risks. However, patients have a right to be informed of all the known risks and options. Failing to provide such a warning is known as negligent nondisclosure, and doctors can be held liable for injuries if patients do not have this information before consenting to treatment.

Improper treatment

Doctors are required to follow currently accepted treatment procedures. Using outdated or otherwise improper procedures means that you are not receiving care on par with medical standards.

Mistakes by healthcare professionals

Many mistakes made by doctors and other healthcare professionals could have been avoided by adhering to the proper procedural standards and checking twice before performing any treatment.

Started Taking Actos®? Here Are Some Things You Should Know

Actos is the brand name for pioglitazone, a prescription medication manufactured and marketed in the United States by the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company of Japan. Actos is mainly prescribed by for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. In the past, American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly was responsible for distribution of Actos in the U.S. along with Takeda, but as of 2009, the Japanese firm is the sole distributor.

The main active ingredient in Actos puts pioglitazone in the same class as thiazolidinedione drugs. These medications have hypoglycemic properties that improve the body’s positive response to the insulin hormone. Patients affected by Type 2 diabetes mellitus may be prescribed Actos, which is the most popular diabetes drug treatment in the world, in conjunction with other medications, a nutritional program and a fitness regime.

The popularity of Actos has also brought notoriety to Takeda. Government health agencies in Europe have taken strict action against pioglitazone due to increased bladder cancer warnings. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered Takeda to adhere a black box label warning physicians and patients about the dangerous side effects. The caution label instructs patients to seek medical assistance if they notice hematuria — blood in the urine — or experience pain while urinating.

A wave of federal lawsuits filed by diabetic bladder cancer patients against Eli Lilly and Takeda was recently consolidated by a multidistrict litigation panel. Plaintiffs have from now until June 2013 to submit their cases for inclusion in the trial against Actos. It is too early to foresee if Eli Lilly or Takeda will settle claims before the trial, but the Japanese pharmaceutical firm is already performing research to find a suitable replacement for the best-selling Actos. See Phillips Law Offices’ website on Actos for more information.

A Scary New Trend: Dental Malpractice

As if medical malpractice wasn’t enough to worry about, dental malpractice is also becoming a widespread problem. ABC News recently brought this issue to the public’s attention by the grandmother of a young girl who died as a result of dental treatment. The cause of her death was an unsafe level of sedation before a dental procedure, a practice that is apparently growing. Some unscrupulous dentists are motivated by the extra money they can charge by administering more sedation than the patient requires. To date, 12 children have died at the hands of greedy dentists who gave them more sedation than their bodies could handle.

Insufficient training on dental sedation

There is an entire training industry that promises current and future dentists that they can quickly learn how to sedate patients. In the worst cases, this training was offered over the course of just one weekend. Fortunately, there are far more ethical dentists than unethical ones. These are the professionals who are pushing for legislation that requires more extensive training in order to keep children safe during dental procedures that require sedation.

If you or your child incurred serious injuries as a result of a trip to the dentist, Phillips Law Offices in Chicago can help. We assist clients in the Chicago area and beyond get their lives back together after a case of serious dental or medical malpractice. Some of the other dental malpractice cases that we are familiar with include failure to diagnose or treat oral cancer; permanent injuries to the jaw, teeth or tongue; infections following dental surgery and more. Our attorneys hold your dentist responsible for malpractice and work to get you the compensation you deserve.

Know Your Rights: Injuries in Transit

In the United States, several organizations are charged with regulating transportation throughout the country. There are hundreds of laws, rules and regulations on the books that apply to all forms of transportation. These laws and rules apply to motor vehicles, trains, airplanes, boats and every other conceivable method of transit. With that in mind, it’s crucial to seek the right legal representation if you have been injured in a transportation-related accident.

Know your rights

On any given day in the Chicago area, residents travel by car, bus, train, plane and even water taxi. While it’s reassuring to know that there are many government bodies that are tasked with ensuring the safety of these forms of transportation, the truth is that it’s not so easy to make sense of all of those laws. There is no question that the majority of those laws, rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety of passengers, but everyday people can’t be expected to understand how those laws apply to them. That’s where an experienced transportation accident attorney can be invaluable.

Transportation accidents are often caused by negligence

As nice as it would be to live in a world where everyone did the right thing, the reality is that many people seriously miss the mark. From failing to maintain equipment to ignoring important safety regulations, the negligence of such individuals often results in serious injury and wrongful death.

Line up legal representation right away

In the aftermath of a transportation accident, confusion reigns. However, it’s important to get in touch with a competent attorney as quickly as possible. Without doing so, there is no way to ensure that your rights are being protected. The laws regarding various forms of transportation can be very confusing. A talented lawyer can help you get through the process as smoothly as possible.