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19Oct, 14

Philadelphia, PA: A practice that has reportedly been used repeatedly in Philadelphia has resulted in a $490,000 settlement with a man who suffered a neck injury as a result of the practice. The plaintiff reportedly suffered a broken neck as a result of an altercation with an off-duty police officer. “Nickel Ride” Results in 0,000 SettlementAccording to the Inquirer (9/25/14), James McKenna had a confrontation with an off-duty policy officer at a bar. McKenna was arrested at the bar on simple assault charges and driven in a police van while handcuffed but otherwise not restrained. McKenna alleges the ride was abusive and caused him to move around the van violently enough to break his neck. As a result of that broken neck, McKenna says he grew faint in his prison cell, hitting his head against the bars. The officers reportedly said that McKenna injured himself by hitting his head against the bars in his cell. When McKenna was taken to the hospital, however, officers told medical staff that McKenna's injury was the result of the ride to the hospital. According to the Inquirer, Philadelphia has a history of “nickel rides,” rides in police vehicles that are purposely erratic, as a way of punishing criminals without the police actually touching the criminal. There have been reports of serious injuries - including paralysis - as a result of these rides. More than 10 years ago, the vehicles were pulled and outfitted with restraining belts, but those have since been replaced by grab belts that prisoners hold on to, meaning those incapable of holding on - due to illness, physical injury or intoxication - could be at risk of injury. McKenna reportedly suffered three broken neck vertebrae and two ruptured discs requiring hospitalization and surgery, including nerve decompression, discectomy and spinal fusion. Although he is not paralyzed, McKenna says he still has limited mobility in his neck and suffers weakness and numbness in his arms. According to his lawsuit, he was not put in a seatbelt in the police van and was driven in such a way that he fell to the vehicle’s floor four times. According to The Legal Intelligencer (09/30/14), McKenna was initially taken to the police station and he asked to go to a hospital, but officers refused and instead took him to a holding cell, where he became faint and hit his head. Despite repeatedly requesting medical attention, none was provided until his forehead was cut, McKenna alleged. McKenna’s medical treatment so far has reportedly cost around $375,000 and he could require ongoing pain management. At trial, McKenna was found not guilty of simple assault. Some lawsuits filed against the police linked to the so-called nickel rides have resulted in awards to plaintiffs, including one that resulted in $1.2 million to a man who was paralyzed from the incident, according to the Inquirer (12/9/13).

14Oct, 14

Los Angeles, CA: Uninsured patients who visit ER rooms are reportedly being hit with hospital emergency room overcharges, meaning they are paying far more for medical care and services than other patients are. Barry Kramer, of the Law Office of Barry Kramer, says uninsured patients do not have someone negotiating a discounted rate for services, and as a result end up being charged much more for hospital services than those services are worth. Kramer says he has seen clients who have had bills of between $5,000 and $10,000 for only a few hours stay in a hospital emergency room, often with little or no benefit. Those clients were unable to pay their bills and sought his help. Attorney: Hospital ER Overcharges “Unfair”“Hospital ERs provide a common contract that everyone signs, but which doesn’t set out the specific charges,” Kramer says. “So an uninsured patient, even if he asks, has no idea of what his charges will ultimately turn out to be. He doesn’t find out the bad news until he leaves the hospital.” According to Kramer, “Hospitals invariably claim that everyone is charged the same, which is simply untrue. Only uninsured patients are required to pay the hospital’s gross charges. Literally everyone else gets huge discounts.” The problem has been particularly unfair to uninsured patients who are capable of paying their inflated bill, but faced with the choice of paying an unreasonable and inflated bill or confronting the hospital’s collection department and ruining their credit. Many of these patients found themselves uninsured either because they recently lost their job or were in the process of changing insurers, or simply felt the insurance costs were too high. For such patients, paying an unreasonably hefty hospital bill did not help their financial situation, but they were forced to do so because they could not afford to defend a lawsuit or have their hospital bill go to collections. What they paid, unfortunately, was often up to five times the amount that other patients paid for similar services. “We are looking for patients who are uninsured, received an undiscounted bill from a hospital, and paid all or most of that bill,” Kramer says. “For example, a patient might have cut his finger, waited two hours in the emergency room, received 10 minutes of treatment, and then been hit with an inflated bill of $1,200. If the patient begrudgingly paid the bill rather than face a legal battle or collections, he would be entitled to a refund to the extent of the overcharges.” For people confronted with a hospital overcharge, an individual lawsuit is rarely feasible, given the costs and complexity of filing such a suit. Furthermore, few individuals have any understanding of hospital billing practices, which are largely hidden from the public. Thus, the cost of a lawsuit and access to billing information is more easily handled in a class-action suit. READ MORE EMERGENCY ROOM CHARGES LEGAL NEWS Predatory ER Overcharges and Hospital Overbilling Has to Stop “I’d Rather Pay an Attorney Than the Hospital for ER Overcharges” Hounded by Swedish Medical Center for ER Overcharges Payment Uninsured patients who have received care at a major hospital’s emergency room in the past three years and have paid all or most of their bill may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the hospital. “There is a limited group that ends up damaged or injured by these Charge Description Master billing practices,” Kramer says. “The bottom line is that emergency room billing for uninsured is based on an unconscionable rate structure, which insured patients, Medicare patients and Medicaid patients don’t have to pay. “Even the hospital contracts signed in an emergency room setting are deceptive, since they never explain the fact that an uninsured will be required to pay far more than others for the same services. It's a tainted system, and it works unfairly. Unlike other patients, uninsured patients have no rate structure agreed on in advance, and only after uninsured leave the hospital do they get hit with an exorbitant bill.”

21Sep, 14

In an effort to reduce accidents that killed 150 bicyclists throughout California in 2012 and injured nearly 5,000 more in Los Angeles County alone, California lawmakers have enacted a law requiring motorists to stay at least three feet away while passing bicyclists. The law, which took effect on Tuesday, puts California among two dozen states that have enacted such buffer zones. It imposes a $35 fine on violators, which can be increased to $220 if an accident occurs while a vehicle is within the three-foot prohibited area, reports the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.). Police will rely on visual observation to determine whether a driver is in violation of the law. Previously, drivers were required to maintain a safe distance from bicycles, but what constituted a safe distance wasn’t defined, NBC Bay Area reported last year. Bicylists in California are required to follow the same traffic laws as cars, the Times says, including stopping at red lights and stop signs. They are allowed to use a full traffic lane.

9Sep, 14

A 20-year-old woman accused of surfing Facebook while she was driving at 85 mph on a North Dakota highway earlier this year has been charged with negligent homicide after a fatal rear-end accident. Abby Sletten was en route from Fargo to Grand Forks on Interstate 29 on the afternoon of May 27 when she passed a witness who was traveling at 80 mph. Meanwhile, the witness later told authorities, he could see another vehicle farther ahead braking and signalling an unauthorized U-turn, according to CNN and the Star Tribune. Sletten allegedly never braked before plowing into the SUV in her Ford Escape. An 89-year-old passenger in the SUV died at the scene; her granddaughter and great-grandddaughter survived. Police got a warrant and searched Sletten’s cellphone and say that she had been texting while driving and viewing photos on a mobile Facebook app at the time of the fatal crash. Ordinarily, such cases of distracted driving are difficult to prove unless the alleged perpetrator’s cellphone can be searched, North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind told CNN. State law there prohibits texting while driving. Sletten appeared Wednesday in Trail County District Court where bail was set at $5,000. Her lawyer, Bruce Quick, declined to comment. If you, your loved ones or friends have been injured by someone Facebooking while driving contact The Kashar Law Firm.

4Sep, 14

Another example of injuries caused by texting and driving. If you, your loved one or a friend are injured by someone texting and driving contact our office for help. All consultations are free. http://news.yahoo.com/woman-impaled-while-texting-driving-172440872.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory

24Aug, 14

The trucker, the trucking company and the truck manufacturer and others may carry responsibility for the accident. The trucker must be carefully examined including the truck driver’s responsibilities, actions, training, physical and mental state, and credentials. The driver’s logs will be reviewed to determine if the driver complied with state and federal regulations and laws including laws on rest periods. Driver’s fatigue is one of the leading causes of trucking accidents. The vehicle’s records will be examined to determine the vehicle’s loading, maintenance, inspection and testing.

What type of evidence would be used to prove fault in a trucking case?

The types of evidence used to prove fault in a trucking case include trucking logs, police reports, witness statements, cell phone records, the truck driver’s employment records and the trucking company’s safety records.

Jennifer Kashar is a litigation lawyer with eighteen years of experience. She is licensed in both Texas and Florida, and is admitted to practice in the Northern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Texas.