Routine maintenance on a Houston jobsite sends five to hospital

It was a routine day on the job for CenterPoint Energy workers doing maintenance work when an electrical fire broke out.

Five Houston workers were seriously harmed in an on-the-job accident involving a fire caused by an electrical malfunction. Eyewitness reported that they witnessed an electrical arc which caused a flash fire while five utility workers were in a building in the downtown core.

The vault the CenterPoint Energy workers were in was in the basement of the Southwestern Bell building. The vault was a repository for stored equipment to maintain underground power lines in the downtown area. The men were there to carry out routine maintenance.
In the middle of their work, something happened to cause an electrical accident, which triggered a flash fire in the underground room. The one-two combination of electrical shock and a fire critically injured one man. The other four were deemed in stable condition when they arrived at the hospital. All the men were expected to remain in the hospital for an extended period of time to be treated for their burn and smoke inhalation injuries.

There are a number of questions inherent in this scenario, not the least of which is whether or not a safety protocol was breached while the five were underground in a small, enclosed vault, working with electricity. An investigation would provide details on what caused the precursor electrical accident, which started the flash fire. Whether or not the lines were improperly maintained in the first place, or a worker was careless will be of importance in determining fault in this accident.

On-the-job injuries caused by the conduct of others, either by another worker or the employer, should be discussed with a competent Austin injury lawyer. Not all Texas companies offer workers’ compensation and how the case may proceed to obtain compensation is affected by the facts.

Injuries that occur on-the-job that were the result of negligence, either by another worker or the employer, should be discussed with a competent Austin injury lawyer. Not all Texas companies offer workers’ compensation and how the case may proceed to obtain compensation is affected by the facts.

If you have been injured on the job, make it a point to discuss your situation with an experienced injury lawyer. You may need long-term care and face enormous medical bills. It is the lawyer’s job to assist you in obtaining fair and equitable compensation to assist you in moving forward with your life and deal with your financial obligations.

Posted on: September 30, 2013 | Tagged

Auto Accidents: Another Form Of Distracted Driving — Daydreaming

A Friday report in Popular Mechanics reported on the dangers of daydreaming while driving.  The report is based on the Erie Insurance Group’s study of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s database of traffic fatalities.  That study concludes that 62 percent of the traffic fatalities in the US over the last two years have been caused by daydreaming.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely minimize the risk that your mind wanders off, but the risk can be reduced.  The report makes the following recommendations to help reduce the risk of daydreaming while driving:

• Keep your eyes moving. Change your gaze every 2 seconds. Any longer and you tend to stare, which induces mind wandering and narrowing of peripheral vision. Tiring? No. The eyes were designed to keep in motion.

• To keep alert, interact with your environs by imagining “what-if” scenarios. What if that oncoming car crosses over? What if that truck ahead suddenly stops? All those what-ifs you’re visualizing feed your subconscious with some valuable data to reprogram your brain for your benefit. They may provide you with a better accident-evasion plan than the one you’ve imagined should a similar event actually happen.

• Chew something. Really. Crunchy foods will keep you alert. Even chewing gum works. One psychology professor advised drivers to chew peanut brittle, calories notwithstanding. Besides the noise made from crunching, he said that searching for the peanuts was oral therapy.

• Try different driving routes when possible. Driving the same long route is boring, and your mind is more prone to wander when it encounters the same repetitive conditions. It’s called habituation. Perry Buffington, a medical columnist, says, “simply put, we get used to things, and when we do, they’re no longer important to us.” Daydreaming results. And you notice fewer things when you’re bored, even if you’re not daydreaming.


Car Wrecks: Distracted Driving Comes In Many Forms – Even Pizza

I hear a lot of stories about distractions that cause people to have wrecks, but this was a new one for me.

Last week, Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson leaned over to try and and adjust one of the pizza boxes falling off the seat off his SUV.  Unfortunately, when leaning over, he veered a bit, over-corrected, and hit the median wall.  He broke his arm in two places and will be out of commission for several weeks.

This is just another reminder of all of the things we don’t consider as potential distractions that can have an adverse affect on us when we get in our cars.  Whether it’s a phone, a pile of papers sliding around, an empty water or soda bottle rolling around in the floor, we should look to see what distractions we can easily eliminate.  There will always be things we can’t control, but there are also obvious things that we could adjust that would make us all safer drivers.

PERSONAL INJURY: Make The Most Of Your Doctor’s Appointments

For whatever reason, people get intimidated when going to doctor’s offices and they forget to tell their doctors about all of their issues, they’re unwilling to ask follow-up questions, or they’re flustered and forget what the doctor says.  This is a threat to your health, but if you’re a personal injury victim, it also has a big affect on the value of your case.

Here are some tips to help avoid these problems.

• Identify your symptoms. If you’re feeling ill, spend some time documenting the problem in specific terms: what hurts, how much, how long you’ve felt sick, anything that might have contributed to it, and so forth. This will help your doctor make a diagnosis more efficiently.

• Bring your medical history. On your smartphone, or just a piece of paper, keep track of such health-related items as previous illnesses, vaccinations, accidents, and allergies, as well as your family’s medical history as far back as you can go. All of this gives doctors a better context for determining your condition.

• List medications. List all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements you take on a regular basis. Your doctor will need the information in case any of them might be causing unexpected side effects, and to avoid interactions if he or she prescribes any new medications for your condition.

• Prepare questions. Don’t rely on your memory alone. Write down questions as they occur to you before the appointment so you don’t forget any relevant details while talking with your doctor.

• Take notes. Again, you’re better off writing down what your doctor says so nothing slips your mind later. Ask for a printed list of instructions to ensure you’re interpreting his or her advice correctly.


Two Massachusetts hospitals may co-opt TBI patients into a study without their permission

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients in Massachusetts may end up participating in a study without giving their permission.

While the question of informed consent is a huge one when being admitted to hospital and having procedures, tests and diagnostics run, being enrolled in a medical study without consent may cross a legal line. If negligence is involved, being co-opted into a medical study could spell serious issues for the hospitals.

Boston Medical Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital have launched tests to see if giving traumatic brain injury patients progesterone as soon as possible after a head injury limits brain damage. Evidently, there are current studies that show the hormone may slow the secondary cascade of injuries that come on the heels of the initial trauma. The trial was approved by review boards at both facilities.

According to federal law, researchers in this study must obtain an okay for the patient or patient surrogate prior to giving an experimental drug. This particular trial is one of the first that relies on a 1996 exemption to study emergency treatments. Legally speaking, if something went wrong during the course of the study involving a patient that had not provided an informed consent, the exemption could face successful challenges in a lawsuit.

This study is not solely taking place in Boston. There are over 40 other hospitals in the nation also focusing on whether or not progesterone helps limit brain trauma if administered early. Researchers attempt to get consent from a victim if they are able to communicate their wishes or if their family consents. The reality is that TBI patients often come in needing immediate treatment and medical personnel cannot wait for the family to be found and may not be able to talk to the victim. This means that in an emergency, the drug would be given and an option offered to opt out of the trial later.

The fact that the researchers have provided a phone line for those wishing to opt out of the study is encouraging and a step in the right direction to address anyone’s concerns about being given an experimental drug. Again, the reality of an emergency situation may mean the drug is given anyway.

The main question in situations like this becomes whether or not the patient, or their family, would object to the possibility of a life enhancing treatment, even if it were experimental. Many may feel that any chance at all is preferable to going without treatment and facing the life altering consequences of TBI. This is not to say that treated TBI may not still change someone’s lifestyle, but the progesterone may reduce the severity of the changes.

If you find yourself in a situation like this and have objections to being given drugs without your consent, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer. This is groundbreaking medicine that may save lives, but there are still those who would prefer not to be test subjects without knowing how a drug or procedure may affect them.

Posted on: September 18, 2013 | Tagged

Car Wrecks: Could You Be Liable For Sending A Text To A Driver?

texting-while-driving.bmp” alt=”” /> It’s no secret that texting while driving is dangerous.

We’ve probably all seen the driver who can’t stay in his lane or who is driving dangerously slow all so the driver can text while driving.

But it’s dangerous.  It’s so dangerous that study after study finds that it’s significantly more dangerous than even driving while intoxicated. (And heaven knows we see too many clients injured in wrecks caused by texting and driving.)

Thus, we can all understand (I hope) that if someone is texting while driving and causes a wreck, then the law ought to hold that person accountable for the harms the person causes others.

But what about the person who sends a text to someone that person knows is driving?  Should the person sending a text to a known driver be potentially liable if the driver is in a wreck while reading or responding to the text?

That’s now a possibility in New Jersey.  Earlier this month, a state appellate court ruled that third-party texters could bear responsibility in texting-related car wrecks.  In reaching the opinion, the court wrote, “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public road to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”  However, the Court specifically said that they are not holding that someone who texts to a person driving is liable for that person’s negligent actions.

Could this happen in Texas?

It’s doubtful.  Our legislature and court systems are extremely conservative, and I have a hard time believing that they would reach the same conclusion.

But we should still heed the warning.  If you know a friend or family member is driving, don’t text them.  Wait until they’re somewhere safe to read your message.


Car Wrecks: Take Care With Car Seats

A big part of our summer has been the addition of a new nephew.  In August, my youngest brother had his first child, an adorable baby boy.

As we were sitting at the hospital, I was thinking back to my daughter’s birth.  As young, inexperienced parents, we were trying to make sure that we did everything right to keep our daughter safe, including making sure that we had the best car seats to protect her while we were driving.

But car seats are like anything else —- they’re only as good as the operator.  And about a month after our daughter was born, we figured out that we had been strapping her into her car seat wrong.

We’re not alone., a respected public service website, reports that 7 out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in.

That’s a problem. Studies unanimously find that motor vehicle crashes are the number 1 killer of kids, and a lot of that can be attributed to lack of use or improper use of child safety seats.  That’s a particular problem for us in Texas, where we are usually neck and neck with California for the most number of child deaths from car wrecks.

Not surprising, child safety seats are remarkably effective at protecting kids.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatality in infants by 71 percent and in toddlers by 54 percent.  It’s so important, that the American Academy of Pediatrics has started recommending that doctors discuss car seat safety with parents at each visit.

If you have any questions about whether you’re using a car seat properly, find a free check in your area.  A study in Pediatrics magazine   found that this type of hands-on instruction can increase proper usage significantly.

Schuelke Law maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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