Personal Injury Blog

Three People Die from Listeria, Prompting Blue Bell Recall

April 15th, 2015
English: The modern Blue Bell Creameries facto...

English: The modern Blue Bell Creameries factory located at 30.163° -96.379°, Brenham, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listeria monocytogenes is a deadly bacterium that kills approximately 260 people in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is a bacterium that resides in the digestive tracts of animals and can spread to humans if crops contaminated by animal waste aren’t sufficiently washed. According to preventative medicine experts, it can be very difficult to completely clean foods and prevent outbreaks of listeria. After being in business for over a century with no food recalls, Blue Bell Creameries – a company that started out at its Brenham, Texas, facility and produces much-loved ice creams – is now associated with the fatal threat of listeria. Three people recently died in a Kansas hospital after eating Blue Bell products made in the company’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, plant.

Operations at the Broken Arrow plant were suspended voluntarily on April 3, 2015, because 3-ounce food service chocolate cups with tab lids used at hospitals tested positive for listeria. The tainted products were available only to Blue Bell’s institutional and food service accounts. The products were immediately recalled, in addition to strawberry and vanilla food service/institutional cups. Blue Bell announced that they identified the machine in which the contaminated products were produced.

Beginning April 4, Blue Bell worked with retail outlets to ensure that all products produced in Broken Arrow were removed. The products can be identified because they have code date endings of O, P, Q, R, S, or T, which can be found at the bottom of cartons.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified Blue Bell on April 7 that a pint of Blue Bell Banana Pudding Ice Cream tested positive for listeria. That pint was produced in the Broken Arrow plant on February 12, 2015. All products produced in that production line from February 12 through March 27, 2015, were immediately recalled by Blue Bell. These products had code date endings of either S or T.

In this continuing series, learn more about listeria and who is most at risk from exposure to the bacteria.

–Guest Contributor

Dallas Injury Lawyer: Bounce House Injuries Have Reached Epidemic Proportions – Part 4

April 8th, 2015
English: bouncer, fun games, inflatable games ...

English: bouncer, fun games, inflatable games Deutsch: hüpfburg, hüpfburg lachende kuh, la vache qui rit, laughing cow, hüpfburgen, www.gumpiburg.ch, gumpiburg, gumpischloss, luftburg, château gonflables, vermietung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outdoor Setup of Inflatable Bouncers

Correct setup of inflatable bouncers is important, to prevent injuries. The following are the correct procedures for installing an inflatable bouncer outside:

  • Find a flat surface to place the bouncer on.
  • Be sure that the area where the bouncer will be set up has plenty of space on every side.
  • Be sure that the bouncer is not set up near power lines or tree branches.
  • Remove all objects that may be sticking up from the ground, such as sprinkler systems. Also remove objects such as rocks and sticks before setting up the inflatable bouncer.
  • If the bouncer is going to be set up on concrete or some other type of hard surface, a soft surface must be placed all around the entrance and exit to the bouncer.

Indoor Setup of Inflatable Bouncers

  • The ceiling must be at least a few feet higher than the top of the bouncer.
  • The bouncer must be placed several feet away from all walls.
  • If the bouncer is set up on a hard floor, a soft surface must be placed all around the entrance and exit to the bouncer.

Additional Safety Rules

The following are a few additional rules that have been used by companies, to ensure the safety of the children using their inflatable bouncers:

  • Pay attention to the load capacity of the bouncer and do not exceed the load limit.
  • When there is excessive rain or wind, inflatable bouncers should not be used. If there is thunder, lightning, high winds, or rain, all occupants must exit the bouncer immediately. Re-entry should not be allowed until the weather is clear and the inflatable is completely dry.
  • Because inflatables are physically challenging to use, people with the following health conditions should not be allowed on them: high blood pressure; problems with the neck, back, bones, or joints; a disease; a health impairment, or any other type of condition which can cause someone problems when they are physically challenged.
  • Hot objects are allowed in or near inflatable bouncers.

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this four-part series to learn more about the trend in which children are injured in bounce houses.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Attorney: Bounce House Injuries Have Reached Epidemic Proportions – Part 3

April 1st, 2015
English: Photo taken my me (May 19, 2007) and ...

English: Photo taken my me (May 19, 2007) and is an example of an inflatable structure created by Cutting Edge Creations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inflatable bouncers are associated with about 30 hospital visits every day, which comes to one child being injured badly enough to require medical attention every 45 minutes in the U.S. Now that parents can buy the inflatable bouncy houses in addition to renting them, there are more children playing on them. No matter what individual or company sets up a bounce house for children to play on, injury prevention should be taken very seriously. The following are tips for preventing injuries in inflatable bouncers:

  • Before entering, participants must remove the following:
    • Shoes
    • Jewelry
    • Eyeglasses
    • Sharp objects in pockets
  • No roughhousing should be allowed. Wrestling, doing flips, and tumbling should also be prohibited.
  • While playing in an inflatable bouncer, children should stay away from the entrance, exit, and walls or sides.
  • Participants should stop playing and carefully exit the inflatable bouncer if it begins deflating.
  • Only children age 6 years old and older should be allowed to jump in inflatable bouncers.
  • An adult who is knowledgeable about how to safely use a bouncer should always be present when it is being used.
  • The best and safest way to use the bouncer is one child at a time.
  • When there are two or more children in a bouncer, they should all be about the same size and age.

See Part 1 and Part 2 to learn more about the trend in which children are injured in inflatable bouncers. In the continuing series, learn how to correctly set bouncers up outside and how to correctly set up bouncers inside so that injuries can be avoided.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Lawyer: Bounce House Injuries Have Reached Epidemic Proportions – Part 2

March 25th, 2015
An inflatable shaped like an elephant

An inflatable shaped like an elephant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inflatable bouncers are very popular at birthday parties, summer carnivals, Halloween carnivals, and other child-oriented events. Although they are popular, they are the cause of dozens of injuries every day. Researchers did a study of emergency room visits involving inflatable bounce house injuries. Results showed the following:

  • The average age of the children injured in inflatable bouncers is 7 years old.
  • The most common types of injuries are fractures and sprains to arms and legs.
  • Approximately 20% of the injuries involve the head and neck.
  • Most of the injuries occur when the children fall inside the bouncers, as opposed to outside of them. A larger child than the one injured is often a factor in causing the injury.
  • Only about 3.4% of all inflatable bouncer injuries result in hospitalization.

The reason for a huge increase in bounce house injuries is an easy one to identify. Although moonwalks, inflatable obstacle courses, and bouncy houses have been very popular for decades, today they are available for sale on store shelves. Parents can save money by buying their own rather than renting them. Without professional operators, however, bounce house injuries are far more likely. Instructions need to be carefully followed, to prevent injuries to children.

The Child Injury Prevention Alliance is an organization that has addressed inflatable bouncers and offers best practices that are designed to keep children safe.

See Part 1 to learn more about the trend in which children are injured in bounce houses. In the continuing series, learn tips for injury prevention, proper use of bouncers, how to correctly set bouncers up outside, and how to correctly set up bouncers inside so that injuries can be avoided.

–Guest Contributor

Dallas, Texas Lawyer: Bounce House Injuries Have Reached Epidemic Proportions

March 19th, 2015
An inflatable castle type of moonwalk.

An inflatable castle type of moonwalk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In October of 2014, two toddlers were injured in a bounce house accident. Both of the children were hospitalized, and one suffered critical injuries. This incident is just a graphic example of an alarming trend. Between 1995 and 2010, there has been a 15-fold increase in bounce-house injuries. Research revealed that, on average, 31 children per day were admitted to emergency departments for injuries sustained in some type of inflatable bouncer.

In the incident that occurred in October, a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old entered a bouncy house that had not been tethered to the ground properly. While they were inside, the wind picked up the bounce house and carried it over a 10-foot fence while the children were trapped inside. The 2-year-old was transported by medical hospital to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where he was listed as being in critical condition. The 3-year-old was also taken to a hospital, where he was reported to be in stable condition.

In May of last year two 6-year-old boys were playing in an inflatable bounce house in New York when they were suddenly tossed into the sky an estimated 15 feet in the air. One boy landed on asphalt and the other on a parked car. That same week in Colorado, two children were inside a bounce house when strong winds blew the inflatable house across the field with the two children trapped inside.

What is especially alarming is that these types of incidents are not isolated, and they aren’t freak accidents. Learn more about the trend in which children are injured in bounce houses in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Mother and her Two Sons are Killed in a Crash Involving Alcohol in Alvarado, Texas

March 11th, 2015
A woman is loaded into an air ambulance that l...

A woman is loaded into an air ambulance that landed on Ski Hill Rd. after a head-on crash near Lifford Rd. on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. She was flown to Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. Another woman was also airlifted to the same hospital with serious injuries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 22-year-old mother and her two sons, ages 5 and 2, were killed Saturday just minutes after she picked them up from her grandfather’s house in Alvarado, Texas. The woman’s 13-year-old sister was also in the car, where everyone had been wearing seatbelts; the teen survived the crash and was transported to a nearby hospital. According to authorities, a man was driving a pickup truck on the wrong side of Highway 67 and crashed into the woman’s car head-on. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of the truck driver was three times the legal limit, at 0.24, when the fatal crash occurred.

Alcohol consumption is the cause of approximately 30 traffic fatalities in the United States every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This also comes to one drunk driving fatality every 51 minutes. The only good news, as regards drunk driving fatalities, is that there has been a decline in the number of deaths in recent years. In 1991, 15,827 people in the U.S. died in drunk driving related crashes. By 2013, the number reflects a trending decline, at 10,076 deaths.

According to statistics provided by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in Texas alone in 2012, there were 1,296 traffic fatalities associated with drivers who were alcohol-impaired. Sadly, many of the deaths which occurred were caused by repeat offenders. Among drunk drivers who caused traffic deaths in 2012 and had a BAC of 15+, 66.7% of them were repeat offenders. Among drunk drivers who had a BAC of between .08 and .14%, 33.3% of them were repeat offenders.

Learn more about the hazards of drunk driving in this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Woman is Killed in a Head-On 18-Wheeler Collision near Winnsboro, Texas

March 4th, 2015
These pictures show some of the hardware which...

These pictures show some of the hardware which comprise the Landsat 7 satellite. Tractor and the forward end of the Transporter as it is being backed into the shelter behind building 27. 07-October-1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A woman was killed in a traffic accident in Wood County, Texas, on the morning of Wednesday, February 25. According to Trooper Jean Dark with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), on Highway 11 at about 9:20, a westbound 18-wheeler was rounding a curve and crossed over the centerline, slamming head-on into the vehicle 42-year-old Velma Dismukes was driving. Dismukes was pronounced dead at the scene of the semi-truck crash. The driver of the big rig was not injured.

The danger involved with getting in a collision with an 18-wheeler is much greater than when colliding with an average-sized car or truck. Semi-trucks can weigh 25 times more than a passenger car, which greatly increases the chances of being killed or suffering serious injuries as a result of a collision.

In one study of crashes involving 18-wheelers, more than half of the accidents were supposedly caused by the 18-wheeler driver. The associated factors in 18-wheeler accidents in which the big rig driver was assigned blame included:

  • The driver admits to making a poor driving decision.
  • The driver admits failure to correctly evaluate the situation.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Problems with the truck.
  • Roadway problems.
  • The truck driver was under the influence of illegal drugs.
  • The 18-wheeler driver was traveling too fast for the road conditions.
  • The semi-truck driver was unfamiliar with the roadway.
  • The semi driver failed to adequately survey the situation.
  • The 18-wheeler driver was fatigued.
  • The brakes in the truck failed.

Ensuring that the truck won’t run out of gas and that the truck is properly maintained are among the responsibilities truck drivers have to lessen the amount of risk to other drivers on Texas roadways.

–Guest Contributor

 

A 37-year-old Man is Killed in a Two-Car Collision in Austin, Texas

February 25th, 2015
Crash test between a 1996 Ford Explorer and 20...

Crash test between a 1996 Ford Explorer and 2000 Ford Focus photographed at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Research Center. Category:Ford_Focus_NA_Gen._I Category:Ford_Explorer_(second_generation) Category:Crash tests (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At about 6:13 a.m. Sunday morning, a fatal car crash occurred in Austin, Texas, on West Parmer Lane and Lamplight Village Avenue. According to witnesses, a motorist lost control of his vehicle and rear-ended the car 37-year-old Jong Kim was driving. The driver and passenger of the car that struck Kim’s vehicle both fled the scene. When Austin-Travis County EMS arrived, they found the two wrecked vehicles and the deceased in his car. Police located and arrested the other motorist and the passenger after they were treated at University Medical Center Brackenridge for non-life-threatening injuries. The driver is charged both with fleeing the scene and failing to stop and render aid.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been very interested in making a case for standardizing Electronic Stability Control (ESC), pre-braking systems, sensors, and other collision avoidance technologies and is trying to require that these be standard for passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. The NHTSA released some statistics related to traffic accidents, including rear-end collisions in particular, as follows:

  • 23% of all crashes in the U.S. are loss of control or run-off-the-road incidents.
  • 28% of all traffic collisions are rear-end collisions.
  • About 9% of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by bad lane changes.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), forward collision warning systems will prevent many fatalities. They provided the following statistics about forward collisions:

  • There are 115 fatal collisions in large trucks every year.
  • There are 897 fatal crashes in passenger vehicles annually.
  • Approximately 247 fatal crashes could be prevented annually with lane departure warning systems.
  • ESC, it is believed, will prevent about 439 traffic fatalities each year.

–Guest Contributor

 

One Man Dies in a Two-Vehicle Crash near Henderson, Texas

February 18th, 2015
2006-present Dodge Charger photographed in Mon...

2006-present Dodge Charger photographed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Category:Dodge Charger SRT-8 (2006-2010) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early this month on Highway 259 just north of Henderson, Texas, a 33-year-old Henderson man was killed in a crash near Highway 322. According to authorities, a motorist in a Dodge Ram was headed southbound on Highway 259 at a high rate of speed when he veered onto the center median, overturned, and struck a Dodge Charger in the northbound lane. The collision was front driver’s side to front driver’s side. The motorist in the Charger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Ram was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released. The crash is under investigation.

The specific cause of this fatal collision has not been determined by officials, though speed was mentioned. According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most drivers are unaware that speeding is as serious as other traffic violations and that it puts people at great risk. Excessive speed carries the following consequences:

  • Occupant protection equipment in vehicles is not as effective;
  • There is a much greater chance that the driver will lose control of the vehicle;
  • The severity of the crash itself is increased, and the result is that injuries are more disabling;
  • More fuel is consumed and the cost of travel is higher;
  • Once a driver perceives danger, the stopping distance is greater; and
  • Speed-related crashes have unexpected psychological and economic implications.

The NHTSA considers the message about the dangers of speeding to be as important as reminders about wearing seatbelts for safety and the hazards of impaired driving.

–Guest Contributor

 

An Anti-Texting Bill is Again Brought Before the Texas Legislature – Part 2

February 11th, 2015
English: A sign that states "No Texting W...

English: A sign that states “No Texting While Driving” in West University Place, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides information on their website about the dangers of texting while driving. The clear danger of the activity has become a rallying point for agencies focused on public safety. The FCC works with other government agencies as well as safety organizations and industry organizations to try to find ways to reduce occurrences of distracted driving.

The FCC provides the following suggestions for getting involved with efforts to discourage motorists from driving while distracted:

  • Parents are urged to be good examples to their children, with regard to driving with attention focused on the road. When driving, do not text, talk on the phone, eat, drink, groom, or engage in any other activities that shift focus away from the road. If you need to make a phone call or answer a text, pull over to a safe location first.
  • Clear, simple instructions should be given to teenagers so that they understand that wireless devices should never be used while driving. A great slogan to use is “On the road, off the phone,” according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Anything that pull eyes off of the road for even a few seconds could result in an accident, injuries, and death.
  • Spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Mention the importance of driving without distraction at organization meetings, with family and friends, and with your children’s schools.

Across the country, texting while driving has been banned in 44 states. Many people in Texas are anxiously waiting to see whether the current Texas legislature will take action on a bill they are scheduled to consider which would ban texting and driving in the Lone Star State. Governor Greg Abbott has not said whether he would veto such legislation, as Former Gov. Rick Perry did, but he has indicated a desire to solve the problem without government involvement and without micromanaging the activities of mature drivers.

Learn more about the proposed legislation and distracted driving in Part 1 of this two-part series.

–Guest Contributor