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October is a time of year in which the leaves start to change color and Tennessee residents start to pull out their autumn jackets. This time of year has also been set aside to acknowledge America’s seniors and the contributions they have made to every future generation to come.  The National Long-Term Care Residents Rights Month aims to bring focus to seniors living in elderly care or nursing homes; enabling people to remember and value each and every one of these people. In addition to this, the commemorative month is meant to encourage seniors, and their loved ones, to remember their rights and their voice. Through this direct involvement and say from the resident’s themselves, long term facilities may be able to operate more effectively while building a reputation they can be proud of.

My Vote Matters Theme

Each year, The National Long-Term Care Residents Rights Month follows a theme. This year’s theme was ‘My Vote Matters’, and was chosen to garner attention to resident’s and their retention of voting rights, regardless of where they live or what kind of care they receive. The importance of this greatly exceeds many other important events for it reminds people that a seniors’ vote could impact the very laws and regulations which encompass long term resident homes.

Sudden, Sharp Increases in Premiums for Certain Types of Life Insurance Policies

For those who hold life insurance policies with variable premiums, beware of sudden, sharp increases in premium rates. If you have suffered financial hardship to keep up with the premiums or if you have defaulted on the policy because the cash value is depleted or because you cannot pay the premiums, you may have a claim. Contact The Higgins Firm for help.

Universal Life Insurance: Peace of Mind or Risky Investment Product?

The most important decision you can make in your case is hiring the right accident attorney. With so many out there to choose from, this is harder than it can seem. It is critical that you hire someone who is experienced at representing accident victims and negotiating directly with the insurance companies. This will put you at an advantage when it comes to settlement negotiations or if you need to go to court.

The biggest thing that you need to remember is that the insurance company has a team of skilled attorneys on their side. They know what to do in order to keep the settlement low and will do whatever they can to pay you as little as possible. You need an equally skilled accident attorney, on your side, to ensure that you are treated fairly and get as much money as possible. This is not the time to hire a novice lawyer or someone who rarely deals with insurance companies. With your future on the line, you want the very best attorney you can find.

There are several things you can do to ensure that you hire the best attorney for your particular situation. They include –

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has said it will block nursing homes from federal funding should they use pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. What this means is nursing homes in Tennessee can no longer force their patients and families to sign away their rights to sue in court before being admitted into the facility. Nearly all nursing homes are federally funded in some way or another, so this agreement could likely have a massive impact on the industry as a whole.

Prior to this ruling being made, it has been commonplace for elderly individuals and families to have to agree to private arbitration over the United States legal system. This meant elderly people, who are being cared for in federally funded nursing homes, may have been prevented from seeking legal damages as a result of neglect, recklessness, endangerment or wrongful death.  Currently, these arbitration contracts have helped the nursing home industry reduce legal costs and total cumulative damages as well as prevent tarnished reputations and long lasting repercussions.

Unfortunately, elderly are often desperate for care and shelter and will be quick to sign something even if they don’t understand what is being noted in the contract. When certain people have attempted to seek legal assistance for a dispute, the arbitration has held up as a legally binding contract; thereby affecting some of the most vulnerable Americans. For all new contracts between nursing homes and residents, this arbitration clause cannot be included.

We have all heard about the Tough Mudder events.  They are fun, challenging and popular.  Unfortunately, they can also be risky.  In this case, 28-year-old Avishek Sengupta drowned at the Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic event on March 20, 2013 in West Virginia and the wrongful death lawsuit claimed that Tough Mudder and Airsquid Ventures, whose subsidiary was responsible for aquatic safety at the event, among others,with gross negligence for their conduct at the “Walk the Plank” water obstacle. The complaint alleges that overcrowding made it impossible for rescue and safety personnel to monitor the pool and that Tough Mudder removed safety features to speed up crowd flow.

Before this event took place, Tough Mudder had received several complaints on social media about  long waiting times at many of its obstacles. In response to complaints of long wait times at Walk-the-Plank, Tough Mudder took steps to decrease wait times and increase the flow of participants through the Obstacle. This led Tough Mulder to decrease if not completely abandon their safety measures.

Avishek Sengupta and his “Walk the Plank” teammates experienced a traffic jam of other people while they wanted for their turn to plunge. They had to slowly make their way with hundreds of  other participants toward a near vertical wall of two-by-sixes that rose to a platform 15 feet above a man-made pool of muddy water that was roughly 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. When they reached the top, they would have to leap in and swim to the other side, only  Sengupta didn’t resurface after he went into the water. He was underwater and sinking to the bottom, passing out at some point, for reasons that are still unknown. When he was  seen on the surface, at least eight and a half minutes after he’d jumped, he would be unconscious and in the arms of a rescue diver.

By now, many people have probably heard about how actor Anton Yelchin recently died when his vehicle rolled away and caused him to be pinned in between his car and a brick pillar. His vehicle which was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee is just one of many vehicles that may be involved in a recall by Chrysler for a shifter defect that may have caused this unfortunate and devastating accident. If you or someone you love has been injured or died in an accident that may have been linked to this shifter defect, you need to speak to a vehicle defect and automobile accident lawyer with The Higgins Firm right away. We will listen to your case and make sure you get the compensation you need for what you have been through.

The Chrysler shifter defect is just one of many examples of the dangers presented by the hazardous combination of rapidly evolving automotive technology and a recall system that is inadequate to address safety defects and protect the public. The problem involves the transmission shifters which allow vehicles to roll away even after a driver believes he has put the vehicle in park. Chrysler has had problems with vehicle rollaways in other vehicles for years, usually as the result of the mechanical design of its transmissions. The specifics are unknown but this problem is likely related to a new shifter that shifts the transmission electronically.

This particular defect has been linked to certain Dodge Chargers, Sedans and Jeep Cherokees manufactured between 2012 and 2015 and has been under investigation by the NHTSA for two years. There have been over two hundred reported crashes according to the NHTSA database and at least forty people injured,  Despite these numbers and the length of time this problem has been under investigation, there was no recall announced until April. Even today, it appears that most people who own these cars have not even received recall notices, much less been given the opportunity to have the shifter fixed.

Most of us drive vehicles to and from work and to take our kids where they need to go each day. This means we need our vehicles to be safe and reliable for our loved ones and families. Unfortunately, sometimes vehicles have faulty parts such as tires, door locks, brakes, air bags and more. This is when we have to put our trust into companies and manufacturers to tell us when there is a recall on these items so that we can make sure our families stay as safe as possible. However, what happens when the system that issues recalls for things like defective tires also fails. Then we have a big problem because our safety is at risk.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Dr. Rob Molloy, acting director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety, “The federal recall system that is supposed to keep potentially dangerous car tires off the road is “completely broken.” The investigators said that while each year tire problems cause 33,000 accidents and kill 500-plus motorists, only one in five defective tires is being taken out of service via recalls. More than half of recalled tires remain in use.

To help combat the epidemic of elder abuse, on March 30th of 2016, the Department of Justice  made an announcement about the formal launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces designed to identify nursing homes and other long-term care  facilities that provide “grossly substandard care” to residents. This is similar to a team previously launched by the Department of Justice known as the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team or HEAT initiative, the newly created Elder Justice Task Forces will focus on coordination and information sharing among federal, state and local enforcement agencies to combat suspected cases of physical abuse and financial fraud of the elderly.

Every task force in this new Elder Justice Task Force  will consist of representatives from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and other law enforcement officials. These task forces will also have a national footprint with locations in the following districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.

These new Elder Justice Task forces mean that there is increased interest and attention being focused on the Long Term Care industry, maybe due in part to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposed rule, last summer, to overhaul requirements for participation by Long Term Care facilities in federal health care programs.

Virgil Hood handled paints and paint thinners manufactured by E.I. DuPont de Nemours daily while working as a painter between 1973 and 1996 for Timpte Trailers, a manufacturer of semi-trailers. He also worked for Continental Airlines. Hood was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes also known as acute myeloid leukemia in 2012. The lawsuit states that he received chemotherapy treatments and after having a bone marrow transplant, he experienced “horrific complications” that included his having pneumonia three times as well as temporary blindness and significant weight loss. The lawsuit also stated that, Hood was battling graft-versus-host disease, in which his body and the new bone marrow are literally attacking one another and experiencing side effects caused by the drugs he took to prevent his body from rejecting the new bone marrow. Although he still worked while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, he had to retire after the transplant.

During the trial, evidence showed that DuPont, the manufacturer of the paints that Hood worked with, that from 1938, DuPont knew that benzene exposure causes bone marrow disease and by 1954, DuPont had warned others to remove benzene from paints. By the late 1960s, it was well established that benzene causes leukemia. Hood representation stated that, “DuPont chose not to take the benzene out of its products or to warn workers like Mr. Hood about the hazards. Instead in 1975 DuPont marched one of its executives before OSHA to deceive the government about cancer hazards of its paint products.”

Another member of Hood’s legal representation during the trial, stated that, “When DuPont learned that the government was considering a safety standard, it thought only of costs to its business. Rather than simply place a cancer warning on its paints, DuPont’s expert presented shoddy test results to OSHA that were nowhere near real-world conditions. DuPont’s whitewashed testing was designed to create the appearance that workers exposed to benzene levels 5 to 10 times above the proposed standard would still be safe.”

Truck drivers are required by federal law to pass health tests before they drive, but many of these drivers keep certain medical conditions and problems a secret which could mean that they should not be on the road because it could be dangerous and lead to accidents. In one recent case, Ruthie Allen was one of thirty-five passengers that was injured when a Greyhound bus drove off an interstate. The driver allegedly blacked out. Allen stated that, “I started yelling at the driver but I didn’t get a response. The bus started to tumble. I looked down and I saw the bone in my thigh protruding through my clothing.”

The bus accident is still under investigation, however, according to the accident report the driver, Dwayne Garrett – told police he was drinking coffee, started coughing and lost consciousness. However, no coughing is heard on the dash camera video. A few weeks before the accident occurred, a Department of Transportation medical examiner suspected Garrett might have sleep apnea , a breathing condition that disrupts sleep and leads to fatigue. If untreated, it disqualifies a driver from operating a commercial vehicle like a bus. Garrett got a ninety day waiver and was told to get tested. When Garrett was questioned about what the doctor said, Garrett said that, “He claimed that I had one of the markers for sleep apnea, which was he could not see the back of my throat.”

According to reports, Garrett saw his his personal physician, Dr. Robert Kunkel, also a Department of Transportation examiner. He acknowledged the Department of Transportation’s suspicion about sleep apnea, but Kunkel claims Garret failed to disclose some key symptoms and a referral to get a sleep test, which he says prevented further evaluation. A court-ordered sleep test ultimately diagnosed Garrett with sleep apnea. He is now disqualified from driving commercially.

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