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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Personal Injury Cases vs. Workers’ Compensation Cases

What makes workplace accidents different than other accidents?

While logistically, an injury resulting in a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit may be the same, the law views these two types of cases very differently.  Separate specialized courts handle workers’ compensation claims. These courts operate under different procedural and substantive rules than those of traditional courts. 

In order to receive compensation for an accident that occurred outside of work, a person must be able to show that someone else was at fault for the injuries he or she sustained.  In a workplace accident, even if the result is due the negligence of the person injured, he or she is still entitled to an award.  The courts usually ignore fault altogether in their determination of how much money to which the injured party is entitled.  While personal injury claims are sometimes limited in traditional courts, workers’ compensation claims are highly restricted by the specialized courts. While the type of injury a person sustained may be ground for a high personal injury award, a workers’ compensation court will usually give a smaller award for the same injury.  

Most of the time, the plaintiff in a personal injury case can sue whoever may be at fault.  But, in a workers’ compensation case, the claimant may not be allowed to sue the employer or his or her co-workers outside of the specialized court, unless the party falls into a statutory exception. There are also generally no awards for pain and suffering in workers’ compensation cases, as there often are in personal injury cases.  

The above are just a few examples of the wide variety of differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  If you were injured on or off the job, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding whether you should file your case as a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim.  The attorneys and staff at Sawicki Law are experienced in handling both personal injury lawsuits and worker’s compensation claims.  If you have suffered an injury in any context, you should contact us today at (888) 468-8844.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Texas Man Killed by Defective Airbag

Who is responsible for defective parts in my car?

A low-speed car accident near Houston proved fatal earlier this year. An autopsy performed on 35-year-old Carlos Solis found that a metal disc from a defective Takata airbag cut into his neck and killed him. He suffered no other serious injuries. The cause of death was listed as blunt force injuries to the neck.

Airbags are supposed to rapidly inflate to cushion drivers and passengers against the force of an accident. The defective airbags manufactured by the Japanese company Takata Corporation inflate with too much force causing them to blow apart, sending shrapnel-like pieces of metal into the passenger compartment. The company is under investigation and has been ordered to preserve evidence from recalled cars. Takata is banned from destroying or damaging recovered airbag inflators except for the purposes of testing. The company is also required to save 10 percent of the devices for testing by plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against the company.

Solis reportedly purchased the car in 2014 from an independent car dealer in the Houston area. His vehicle was part of a 2011 recall to fix the airbag. Neither the dealer nor two prior owners had the repairs done. The Solis family is suing Honda, Takata and the dealer who sold Solis the car.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the attorneys at Sawicki Law Firm can help. We have more than two decades of experience exclusively handling personal injury lawsuits. Call us today at (888)468-8844 for a free consultation. There is no fee unless you collect. Headquartered in Dallas, the Sawicki Law Firm represents clients throughout Texas.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Crashing Plane Misses an Elderly Couple by Eight Inches

Are Accident Victims Eligible for Compensation Even Without Physical Harm?

Late last year, an elderly couple living near Midway Airport in Chicago found themselves on national news following a fatal plane crash. 

The couple, Roberta Rolinskas, 82, and Raymond Rolinskas, 84, were not struck by the plane. But, the crash did come frighteningly close to injuring the couple. In fact, parts of the plane came within eight inches of them before coming to a halt. 

The Rolinskases and their family are no doubt grateful to have survived the crash and to have done so without any bodily harm at all. But, as is often the result of shocking and severe accidents, the Rolinskases have possibly suffered lasting, debilitating and severe emotional distress and developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

While often met with skepticism, PTSD and other forms of emotional trauma equate to real harm as documented and opined by the American Medical Association, the United States military and the branch of the Social Security Administration that provides benefits for injured Americans. According to these organizations, symptoms of emotional trauma can include:
• Frequent nightmares and panic
• Emotional isolation and depression
• Sleep disorders
• Anxiety and lack of focus 
• Self-medication via drugs and alcohol

When emotional distress is caused by an “act of god,” compensation is often not owed. When emotional distress results from another’s negligence, however, victims and their families can often pursue compensation for losses incurred. 

In the case of the Rolinskases, negligence may have occurred, according to their lawsuit, via the airline’s failure to execute a proper takeoff plan, failure to land properly and failure to maintain, inspect and control the airplane. In more common accidents involving emotional distress, such as car, truck and workplace accidents, negligence can result from careless driving, lack of sleep, substance abuse, high alcohol levels and numerous other things.

If you have questions regarding physical or emotional injuries following an accident, including an aviation accident, contact attorney Michael G Sawicki. Sawicki Law offers free attorney consultations, and while it is conveniently located just north of downtown Dallas, Texas, the firm serves clients all over the country. Call (888)468-8844 to schedule an appointment today.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Hospital Sued by Patient After Alleged Rape By Nurse

Can an Employer Be Held Responsible for Failing to Perform a Background Check on an Employee?

If you find yourself admitted to a hospital, you expect that the medical staff will be caring for you rather than harming you. That was not the case according to one woman who is suing The Medical Center of Plano.

Debe Castro alleges that her nurse, Wilson Karago, raped her while she was recovering from a surgical procedure. Karago gave Castro her prescribed nighttime medications, which included Ambien, and then returned to her room several hours later and assaulted her. Karago has been indicted for felony sexual assault, but he left the country before police could arrest him. It is believed that Karago returned to Kenya, where he has lived for most of his life.
Represented by Mike Sawicki, Castro is suing The Medical Center of Plano for failing to protect her. Specifically, Castro asserts that the hospital failed to perform an adequate background check when it hired Karago. There were several troubling allegations surrounding Karago that should have been easily discovered and prevented him from being hired by the Texas hospital, according to Castro.

While working at a hospital in Indiana, Karago was accused of poisoning his infant daughter with insulin. The six-month-old baby was admitted to the hospital where Karago and the baby's mother worked. The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) took custody of the infant, but she was ultimately reunited with her mother. Karago, rather than cooperating with the DCS investigation, moved to Texas and lost custody of his daughter. About two months prior to the insulin poisoning, Karago and his daughter were rescued from an icy river; Karago had driven his car into the river, claiming he blacked out before the crash. Before fleeing the United States altogether, Karago had more than one paternity suit filed against him and failed to pay child support for at least two children.

In addition to Castro's assertion that The Medical Center of Plano failed to perform a sufficient background check before hiring Karago, her lawsuit alleges other negligence against the hospital. Castro's contentions include that the hospital failed to hire proper security and should not have allowed a male employee to enter a female patient's room alone while she was partially sedated.

Dallas, Texas personal injury attorney Michael Sawicki represents clients in all types of sexual assault and personal injury cases. For a free consultation, call the Sawicki Law Firm today at (888) 468-8844.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Recent Awards in Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Give Plaintiffs Hope

Can you be compensated if you were injured by transvaginal mesh?

 

Many women who have suffered from damaged pelvic muscles turned to transvaginal mesh for relief. Unfortunately, this medical product often did more harm than good.  Although the mesh is still being used in certain situations, over 70,000 women have filed lawsuits claiming to have been injured by the product.

Transvaginal mesh is most commonly used in women with disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.  The mesh is implanted into a woman’s pelvis and supposed to stay in place permanently.  Unfortunately, the implant is known to cause complications including adverse reactions, bladder issues, infections, pain, scarring and sexual dysfunction, among other things.  The Food and Drug Administration has even acknowledged the danger of the product.  Usually, once complications occur, the mesh needs to be taken out, posing another problem since it can take multiple surgeries to remove.  

Many women that have undergone this process have filed lawsuits against the main manufacturers of transvaginal mesh including Johnson & Johnson, or Ethicon, and others.  The plaintiffs claim that the polypropylene plastic that the mesh is made of is not safe for implantation into the human body.  Of course, the manufacturers deny this claim.  

There have been some recent breakthroughs in transvaginal mesh litigation this year that are giving plaintiffs in remaining lawsuits some hope.  Although this case will likely be appealed, juries have awarded millions to a plaintiff who claimed to be injured by transvaginal mesh manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.  In another case, Boston Scientific agreed to a $73 million settlement.  Other companies are compromising as well.  As most of the cases are before the same Federal District Court Judge in West Virginia, these decisions are causing plaintiffs to be optimistic that litigation will soon be moving along.  

Dallas, Texas personal injury attorney Michael Sawicki represents clients in all types of personal injury and products liability cases.  For a free consultation, call the Sawicki Law Firm today at (888)468-8844.

Monday, December 29, 2014

After Mediation, Victim's Family Accepts Settlement in Roller Coaster Death Lawsuit

Can amusement parks or ride manufacturers be held liable for injuries or deaths on their rides?


Rosa Esparza plunged 75 feet to her death last July while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster at the Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, Texas. Now the family of the Dallas grandmother has agreed to accept a settlement in their lawsuit against Six Flags Over Texas and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, who manufactured the cars used on the roller coaster. The case would have gone to trial in Fort Worth, TX in January had the parties not settled.

According to attorneys close to the case, the settlement provided for a payment to Esparza's family but did not say who was at fault for the accident.  The negotiated settlement followed a ten-hour mediation session. Attorneys for the victim's family say they are pleased with the settlement.

Six Flags’ parent company had said it had set aside $3 million for the litigation that was filed after the 52-year old woman fell to her death.

In court papers, Six Flags and Gerstlauer each claimed the other was to blame.  Had the case gone to a jury trial, determining who was at fault would have been a key focus of the court proceedings.  Documents filed in court raised questions about whether Esparaza's lap bar was fitted properly and whether the one-size-fits-all design of the car was appropriate for larger riders.  

The Texas Giant roller coaster closed for two months after the incident. When it reopened, it had new seatbelts and new padding on the lap bar. The amusement park also installed a test seat to give riders a chance to see if they fit before boarding the ride.  That test seat, according to court filings, had been in storage since 2011.

Esparza was only the second rider to have died in Six Flags history.  The other died of drowning when a ride capsized.  Esparza's death was the fourth reported injury on the Texas Giant. 

If you or loved one has been harmed by the mistakes or negligence of others, you may be entitled to damages, both from those directly responsible and from those who played a contributing role.  The tenacious personal injury attorneys at Sawicki Law in Dallas, Texas, have years of experience handling all types of accident claims, including wrongful death. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, with no fee until you collect.  For a free consultation, call us today at (888)468-8844 or use our online consultation request form.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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