Brain Injuries

Bus Accidents: Beware the Low-Cost Carrier

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)  has found that so-called curbside bus companies, which pick up riders on sidewalks rather than in terminals, are involved in bus accidents involving fatalities at seven times the rate of traditional carriers like Greyhound. On September 8, 2011 Grazian and Volpe wrote of a recent NTSB study finding that bus accidents involving fatalities were greater than expected and appeared to be under reported (myaccidentlaw.com/blog 9/8/2010). As the initial report involved all bustypes,this latest study is more disturbing because it focuses on only”curbside” buses. The curbside carriers first gained popularity in urban areas, such as Chicago, by offering frequent rides betwen major cities for as little as $1 a seat. Popularand catering primarily to students and budget-conscious travelers, these carriers have racked up an alarmingly high number of fatal accidents and safety violations over the last few years. While the report found that low-cost bus companies were a safe mode of travel and that accidents happened infrequently, the bus accidents that do occur, were far more likely than traditional carriers to result in serious injury or wrongful death.

The report suggests that the reasons for the increased rate of serious injury and wrongful death is related to the disproportionate (by industry data) larger number of violations issued to these companies relating to driver fatigue and training errors. In addition, the industry has exploded due to the depressed economy. Regulators indicate that it is more difficult to inspect low cost buses because they do not park in traditional terminals and officials must locate and inspect these buses on crowded street corners. Since they are barred from inspecting buses in the middle of a scheduled trip, it is difficult to conduct the surprise inspections necessary to determine the true operating procedure of any motor carrier. Apparently, many drivers and owners of low-cost bus companies do not speak English, and their records are often kept in other languages. Officials are concerned that this language barrier may mean that some owners and drivers do not fully understand the federal regulations and how to comply.

We reported in our previous article (myaccidentlaw.com/blog) that the Transportation Department, which has oversight of the motor coach industry, had nearly doubled its safety inspection on buses in the past five years and recently issued rules banning bus drivers from talking on cellphones or sending text messages while driving. However, this increase in enforcement and regulation is not applying to the low-cost bus carriers.

Grazian and Volpe has advocated for the rights of victims of bus crashes in Chicago and South Chicago for over 25 years. We have noted an increase in clients who are involved in bus crashes involving low cost carriers. Fortunately, we have not seen a wrongful death but have noted that the injuries sustained are serious injuries often involving brain injury and/or spinal injury. We hope this report will act as a wake-up call to Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board and more inspections and pro-active regulations are promulgated to protect the lives of those using these low-cost providers. Please follow Grazian and Volpe on website or on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning the first Tuesday of every month where we take questions and inform out viewers on how to stay safe and if they have been involved in an accident-how to make sure they obtain the best compensation possible.

Car Accidents Pose Greater Risk for Women

It has been our experience as car accident lawyers that women seem to fare worse in car accidents than men. Our experience received scientific confirmation when researchers at the University of Virginia concluded a study this month which was published online on October 20th in the AMerican Journal of Public Health.

The researchers at the University of Virginia reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims which was gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. They found that, compared with the male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.

The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.

The lead author of the study, Dipan Bose states that for now, “female drivers can ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”  Grazian and Volpe hopes that the results of this study are heeded by the car industry and advises their clients to review the National Highway Traffic Administrations website to determine the best seating position for safe operation of the vehicle and maximum protection in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

Please visit us at myaccidentlaw.com/blog for more blog articles regarding motor vehicle safety and protection against brain injury and spinal injury. Remember- it is always best to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe – your accident lawyers in Chicago and South Chicago for over 25 years.

The Bike Driver in a Motorcylce Accident is Not Always at Fault!

On September 15th, we wrote about the difficulties inherent in pursuing personal injury claims made by the drivers of motorcycles that are involved in motor vehicle accidents. (Winning the Jury; myaccidentlaw.com/blog September 15th, 2011). To add insult to injury, we have written about the brain injuries and loss of memory endemic to riders when they are hurt (myaccidentlaw.com/blog “Bikers: Get A Garmin). Unfortunately for riders, they suffer these disadvantages when they are involved in accidents and the general public perception that riders are reckless drivers often acts against them when they are pursuing their personal injury claim. The fact is that riders are most often responsible and obeying traffic rules when something occurs that cannot be avoided and is not the rider’s fault.

In one recent case, a motorcycle passenger was seriously injured by a crash caused by the improper installation of a manhole cover. Apparently, the road had been recently resurfaced but the contractor failed to repair one manhole cover causing it to be raised 3 inches over street level. It was determined that the negligence of the contractor caused the crash and the case was settled for $3, 817,500. The plaintiff who was a 50-year-old nurse suffered traumatic brain injury, a fractured sacrum, a fractured pelvis and two fractured ribs. In this lawsuit, a settlement was reached and the case did not go to jury. At Grazian and Volpe we are always cognizant of the prejudices juries have against bikers. We are  pleased to see this plaintiff was able to reach a fine settlement without trial and wish this healer a speedy and good recovery.

More Brain Injury Tragedy in the NHL

Not to sound like a broken record when it comes to brain injuries – but we don’t care if it serves to prevent more tragedies like that of former N.H.L star Rick Martin. On October 13, 2011 at myaccidentlaw.com, we wrote of the changes to N.H.L. regulations regarding prevention of brain trauma through hit limitations. I expressed my incredulousness at the reluctance of a number of players to embrace these changes. Hopefully, a recent article in the New York times regarding the death of Rick Martin will serve to garner full league support.

The Times reported that Mr. Martin had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain trauma when he died last March of a heart attack at the too young age of 59. Martin had only 14 fights in fourteen seasons in the junior leagues and the NHL. He did not wear a helmet for most of his career and sustained no known brain trauma outside of hockey, according to a Boston University report issued in a new release following his death. The Boston University researchers found that Martin was in the second stage of the disease, which was unlikely to significantly affect his cognitive abilities or behavior. There are four stages of the disease, and the fourth is the most severe including memory loss, depression and lack of impulse control.

Rick Martin’s case indicates that even hockey players who don’t engage in fighting are at a risk for C.T.E (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Martin’s only known concussion occurred in a 1978 game against the Rangers during which his head hit the ice, causing immediate convulsions.

Researchers at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatice Encephalopathy have currently completed the analysis of the brains of more than 70 former athletes, with than 50 with signs of C.T.E., including 14 of 15 former N.F.L. players, as well as college and high school football players, hockey players, professional wrestlers and boxers.

All brain injuries are tragic for both the sufferer and the family. Grazian and Volpe has advocated for hundreds of brain injury victims, most of which are suffered as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident. The increase among athletes exhibiting advanced stages of brain injury has sky-rocketed in the last decade and is most disturbing because many of these injuries could be prevented by appropriate head gear and promulgation and adherence to safe and fair standards of play. Please visit us at myaccidentlaw.com/blog and WCIU, You and Me in the Morning where we report on new findings and laws in the area of prevention of brain injuries and pursuit of claims. Remember, it is always better to stay safe-but if you can’t-stay with Grazian and Volpe!

Aluminum Baseball Bat Responsible for Wrongful Death of Player

Aluminum Baseball Bat Causes Brain Injuries Leading to Wrongful Death of 18 year old player:

For over 25 years in our Chicago and South Chicago personal injury and worker’s injury practice we have advocated for the victims of negligent and reckless accidents and Volpe was surprised to see that event the gentler All American past-time of baseball is not immune from these dangers. A recent Montana verdict affirmed by its Supreme Court found that the manufacturer of aluminum bats was liable for the death of American Legion pitcher. The player died from brain injuries when hit by a ball struck by a player using a Model CB-13 Louisville Slugger. The family of the pitcher filed a failure to warn lawsuit alleging that the aluminum bats increased the danger of personal injury and death because pitchers have less time to react due to the increased velocity of the batted ball. The manufacturer stated that only the batter, as the user of the bat, had standing to bring a failure-to-warn claim and that it did not have duty to “bystanders” such as pitchers and fielders. The Supreme Court disagreed stating that in the context of a baseball game “all of the players were users or consumers placed at risk by the increased exit speed caused by the (aluminum) bat. (The manufacturer ) is subject to all players in the game…for the physical harm caused by its bat’s increased exit speed.”

We are strong believers in laws and practices which prevent and mitigate the dangers to consumers and workers and are pleased to report on this latest verdict. Our condolences to the family of the victim and hopes that his death will serve to prevent other wrongful deaths.

Brain Injuries and The NHL: Hard to Believe These Hard Heads!

It’s hard to believe the hard heads in the NHL that don’t seem all that interested in preventing brain injuries and concussions. The N.H.L began its preseason with a tightened Rule 48, which outlaws most checks to the head as part of the leagues’ response to the spate of concussions in hockey.

However, the N.H.L did not fully outlaw head contact as done by the International Ice Hockey Federation, The N.C.A.A. and the Ontario Hocky League. Seven of the 17 NHL top players interviewed said they would prefer the full ban; four said no; and six stated they were not certain. Fifteen year veteran, Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes disagrees with the full ban stating that “(sic) that’s not the way our sport is designed. If you’d have to change the whole sport, well, you have to be careful of what you wish for.” While illegal hits are clear cut cases, it was legal hits that lead to concussions that provided the final impetus for change. While initially the 2010-2011 change to Rule 48 read that “a lateral or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact ‘is not permitted’; it was changed after a series of more high-profile concussions occurred during the year. The scope of rules on boarding and on hits to the head was widened to remove the “lateral or blindside” provision, making “any” making potentially illegal any hit to the head, regardless of the direction from which it is delivered.

The personal injury lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been Chicago hockey fans for over 25 years. During those 25 years, we have advocated for victims of brain injuries and concussions sustained from motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, falls and sports injuries. Brain injuries are being linked to a myriad of illnesses and conditions, many which may not occur until much later in life. If there exists a potential to prevent these tragic injuries, whether through protective gear or practices, it should not be ignored and in the case of sports and the workplace-strictly enforced. Remember it is always better to stay safe-but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe.

The Many Faces of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are an often catastrophic result of accidents: motor vehicle accidents; bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents and; work accidents. It is important that victims of accidents and their personal injury attorneys are aware of the many types of injuries that may occur.  Accident victims need to seek immediate medical attention whenever a head injury occurs.  As detailed below, not every brain injury is immediately apparent. Delay in seeking medical treatment can result in an avoidable tragedy.

Brain Injuries come in many types and may be as follows:

  1. Infections (organic or occurring as a result of injury or treatment)
  2. Skull fractures
  3. Seizures
  4. Hematomas
  5. Contra Coup
  6. Coma
  7. Anoxic brain injuries
  8. Concussion and contusions
  9. Diffuse axonal injuries (DAI)

Mild traumatic injury is damage to the brain, like jarring, that results in the loss of certain memory functions such as short-term or long-term memory and dulled feeling. Traumatic impact form a truck accident is a major cause of mild traumatic brain injury.

Often it may appear there is no visible head injury, but in reality there is permanent brain damage. Often, these types of injuries will go undiagnosed at the hospital because there are no cuts or abrasions to indicate that a victim’s head has been impacted or jarred.  The victim, herself, may be in shock and not remember the details of impact. These are called “closed head traumatic brain injuries.”

Victims and attorneys need to be aware of the obvious and subtle results of brain injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) create inattention, forgetfulness, and other short-term and long-term memory problems. These injuries can cause irritability, depression, fainting spells and seizure.  Physical manifestations may include incontinence, loss of feelings in the extremities, loss of hearing, loss of bladder control, inability to breath independently, inability to speak, see and loss of communicative and cognitive abilities. These catastrophic effects can require lifetime care and may result in severe mental pain and suffering for the victim and his or her family.

Post emergency medical car after every accident should require a thorough examination for injury to the brain. Victims and their attorneys should be watchful for the symptoms of head impact to assure prompt and appropriate care and facilitate the maximum compensation in the event of a personal injury lawsuit.