Tech company Aims to Fight Distracted Driving Accidents

Text NinjaA start-up company thinks it has a solution to one of the worst problems we face on the road today — accidents caused by distracted drivers. This brand new, five-person Chicago company, called TextNinja, has created an app that combines technology, psychology, and gaming rewards to stop people from texting while they drive.

A Computer Game That Can Save Lives

It might sound unlikely that a computer game could save lives on the road, but there is a compelling idea behind the TextNinja app.  The app is based on the idea that many drivers know full well they shouldn’t text while driving, and these drivers intend to do the right thing, but then they get tempted by their phones.  Despite all their best intentions, they just can’t resist reaching for their phones when they hear the signal that a text has come in.

The problem is extremely serious.  In Kentucky, an astonishing 30 percent of road accidents where people were injured were caused by distracted drivers. Surprisingly, that’s even more than the number of injury-producing accidents that were caused by alcohol.  In 2014, distracted driving contributed to 20 deaths and more than 9,000 injuries on the road in Kentucky alone.

TextNinja uses a multi-pronged approach to shore up users’ willpower. First, the app removes the temptation to look at texts by turning off the sound of incoming texts. Users can also optionally have an automatic reply sent out saying they can’t answer the text at that moment because they are driving.  The gaming aspect of the app rewards users with levels and “ninja belts” that increase the more that users stay off their phones while driving.  People can also choose to compete for rewards with their friends.

The beauty of this system is that it is aimed at people who are already aware they shouldn’t be using their phones while driving. It doesn’t require lecturing people about things they already know. Instead, it gets at the psychological factors that underlie much of the unsafe driving behavior that has become so common.

Risky Behavior Caused by Fear of Missing Out

TextNinja says that what drives people to pick up their phones when they know they shouldn’t is the fear of missing out.  This malady is so common, not only in driving but in life, in general, especially among young people, that it now has its own popular acronym, FOMO.  What if the text that has just come in, a FOMO sufferer may wonder, is a life changing opportunity that must be grasped immediately before it slips away.

Logic doesn’t help.  In reality, most texts are not very important and don’t need to be dealt with right away.  But the fear that puts the “F” into FOMO can override logic and common sense.  It can compel people to do things they know they shouldn’t.  As a result, they may invent excuses, telling themselves it can’t hurt to just glance at the phone for a second.  Before they know it, they may have gotten absorbed in the text messge and be at risk of causing an accident.

By providing psychological rewards in the form of gaming points, the app turns the addictive power of smartphones on its head and uses it for a good cause.  The FOMO-driven smartphone addiction — the inability to resist looking at or responding to a text even when people promise themselves they won’t — is what causes so much distracted driving in the first place, and the app counteracts that bad behavior with what will hopefully be equally addictive game rewards. In time, the repeated good behavior will become a habit — and a safer driver will be born.

The TextNinja app has just been launched, so it’s too early to say whether it will have a significant effect in saving lives.  The idea sounds like a good one, and anything that might help reduce distracted driving accidents will be very welcome on our roads.  For now, though, distracted driving accidents are unfortunately all too common. If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, and you need an experienced accident lawyer to help you get all the compensation you deserve, the attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning would be glad to set up a free consultation to discuss your options.

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

2015 Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship Winner Inspired by Past Personal Tragedies

Alex TurnerOften, past events have a profound impact on future plans, even when those events don’t necessarily seem all that tragic at the time. So is the case with this year’s winner of the Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship, Alexander Turner, who is determined to turn the misfortune of family members into a driving force to pursue legal justice for all.

Motivated by Tragedy

Turner, who hails from Africa but has deep family roots in Brazil, experienced his first brush with personal injury as a high schooler when his cousin was accidentally electrocuted. His cousin, who resided in Brazil, was playing soccer when he touched a live, exposed electrical wire. It was later learned that the wire has been tampered with by neighbors who were using it to steal electricity. Later, tragedy struck again when his elderly Brazilian grandmother was struck by a motorcycle. Though she survived, she had a difficult and long recovery and was compensated only for the loss of her glasses which had been destroyed during the accident.

These events ignited a fire in Turner who became determined to fight for those who have been personally injured by negligence, especially those who cannot afford to seek legal counsel. This desire to assist those in need was further reinforced when he visited New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As he helped to rebuild houses and clean up the streets, Turner noticed the drastic difference between socioeconomic levels in the New Orleans area. You see, nearly all of the areas that were destroyed were of lower economic status. Those with higher incomes had built homes that were out of harm’s way or of better construction. Thus, they were relatively unaffected by the storm or flooding.  A Gallup poll conducted six weeks following Katrina’s devastation provides proof that the poor and African-American residents of New Orleans were more likely o suffer from the effects of hurricane Katrina than those in other economic or racial groups. That is when Turner began to understand the plight of marginalized people, those who are too poor to seek recompense for the wrongs done against them.

Turner graduated as the valedictorian of East High School in Iowa before heading to college and earning a degree Political Science. He has received numerous distinguished honors for his academic and extracurricular efforts. Some of these honors include participating in the Fox Leadership Program in Rodin College House and acting as the news director for UTV 13 at the University of Pennsylvania, which is the oldest college TV station in the world.

Turner will begin his legal studies at Drake University Law School in Des Moines with a commitment to their public interest and poverty law internships and programs. He is determined to become a successful public interest attorney by utilizing every learning opportunity available to him. In addition, he has a strong interest in learning about trial law and the civil justice system. Following graduation in 2018, Turner hopes to begin work as either a public defender, a prosecutor or in legal aid. He will have abundant job opportunities available to him once obtaining his Juris Doctor, given that the demand for lawyers is expected to rise by 10 percent by the year 2022.

The $1,000 Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship was created to help offset the cost of pursuing a legal degree for students who have been personally affected by past personal injury cases. These events include misfortunes such as medical malpractice, automobile accidents, and other personal injury accidents. It is the belief of Meinhart Smith & Manning that these deep personal experiences fuel a passion for seeking justice in the personal injury field, and the firm wants to support qualified students in their pursuit of justice for others.

Congratulations Alex and Good Luck!

Posted in Firm News

Louisville vs. Lexington: Which Is Safer for Drivers, Bikers, Pedestrians?

which city is safer

Only about an hour apart, Louisville and Lexington share a community that includes many commuters and people who travel between them to take advantage of all that each city has to offer.

So how should your sense of safety change when traveling between the two? Which city is really safer?

There’s no easy answer to that question, but a hard look at the numbers helps. That’s why we’ve pulled out the latest statistics from each city in the comparison below. By understanding the relative risk factors, you can better guard yourself against the biggest threats to your safety in either place.

A Note on Population Size

At the outset, it is important to note that Louisville and Lexington are cities of different sizes. In terms of population, Louisville is home to about 600,000 people, while Lexington boasts a population of around 300,000. In making our comparisons, then, we’ll rely on population-adjusted rates in addition to the raw numbers.

Auto Accidents in Louisville vs. Lexington

Earlier this summer, we reported that auto accidents in Louisville are on the rise. While that’s true, Lexington still has the higher crash rate, at least when the data is limited to major roads.

According to a report by the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, between 2008 and 2012 (using the latest year-to-year data available), the accident numbers on major roads were as follows:

Louisville — 26,863 accidents (or 397 crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles)

Lexington — 10,039 accidents (or 532 crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles)

When we open the data up to all roads, though, and look at them relative to population size, the numbers move into a tie:

Louisville — 121,494 accidents (or 41 crashes for every 1,000 people)

Lexington — 60,540 accidents (or 41 crashes for every 1,000 people)

So what’s the takeaway? Given that Louisville is the larger city, we’d expect a larger number of total accidents there. When adjusted for vehicle-miles and/or population size, though, Lexington ties or pulls ahead.

Clearly, auto accidents are a major problem in both cities, with Lexington arguably posing an even bigger concern for its relatively smaller population size. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in one of these incidents, the auto accident attorneys here at Meinhart, Smith & Manning can help.

Bicycle Accidents in Louisville vs. Lexington

Bicycle accidents almost always cause serious injuries. Sadly, dozens and sometimes hundreds of bicyclists are injured or killed throughout Central Kentucky every year. As the number of cyclist and pedestrian deaths rises nationwide, it is paramount that we act now to curb this alarming trend.

Here’s how the data shapes up for Kentucky’s two largest cities:

Louisville — 601 bicycle accidents (or 2 crashes for every 10,000 people)

Lexington — 305 bicycle accidents (or 2.1 crashes for every 10,000 people)

Here again, it’s clear that bicycle accidents are an urgent problem in both cities, with Lexington seeing just slightly higher per-capita numbers. We should note, though, that more recent data suggests that the Louisville bicycle accidents situation is improving considerably.

Pedestrian Accidents in Louisville vs. Lexington

The pedestrian accident numbers are clearer and easier to read, with Louisville easily outranking Lexington as one of the most dangerous places in Kentucky for pedestrians.

Louisville — 1,362 pedestrian accidents (or 4.6 accidents for every 10,000 people)

Lexington — 504 pedestrian accidents (or 3.4 crashes for every 10,000 people)

Fortunately, as we reported earlier this year, there are some early signs that the pedestrian accident numbers might be modestly improving in Louisville. Future data will paint a clearer picture.

Injured? Talk with Experienced Louisville Auto Accident Attorneys at No Charge.

Statewide crash data can be hard to read, even when you break it down city by city. While comparing Louisville and Lexington can be interesting, the most important thing is for residents in both cities to realize that their lives are potentially in danger when they use the roads.

Most auto accidents happen because of simple driver negligence. While our law firm can help victims fight for comprehensive financial compensation after an accident, there is no way to undo the terrible heartache and suffering a car or pedestrian accident can cause. It is our goal, then, to hold negligent drivers accountable and do our part to reduce the rate of auto accidents and serious injuries in our state.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident in Louisville — whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist — the experienced Louisville injury attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning can help.

Please know that our services are available to residents of both Louisville and Lexington, as well as the rest of the Bluegrass State.

Contact us for a free consultation today.

Posted in Personal Injury

A Look at Louisville’s Latest (and Surprising) Traffic Crash Stats

When it comes to auto accidents, good news rarely arrives without bad news tailing behind. Indeed, Louisville’s latest crash statistics are a mixed bag, with a few uplifting strides overshadowed by an overall increase in accidents and injuries.

Car crashes remain a leading cause of serious injury and death in our state, so we see our fair share of heartbreaking headlines. Especially frustrating is the fact that so many of these accidents are entirely preventable.

Driver negligence is responsible for more accidents in Kentucky than any other contributing factor. Stated differently, the overwhelming majority of car crashes would not happen if drivers behaved more responsibly. That’s a tragedy.

How do we fix it? Understanding the problem is the first step. Fortunately, Louisville has an impressive field of city-specific data available, which empowers us to design solutions at a local level while the state tries to address its own statewide car crash problem.

We take a look at the latest Louisville figures below.

Fewer Bicycle Accidents in Louisville

Louisville Bike Crashes

Let’s start with some good news! The number of Louisville bicycle accidents declined significantly this year, dropping from 189 in 2013 to 168 in 2014. (As data takes a while to compile, 2014 is the most recent year on record and its results were only recently released.)

Just as importantly, fewer bike accidents resulted in injury (down from 132 to 112). The fatality rate, meanwhile, remained constant at one death per year. That’s still entirely too many, though city leaders would likely point out that those numbers are dramatically better than many other cities of our size. This is quite surprising considering Kentucky was recently ranked second to last for bike safety

With Pedestrian Accidents in Louisville, There’s More Than Meets the Eye

As for pedestrian accidents, the numbers are a bit harder to read. Overall, the number of accidents increased, but only by three — from 386 to 389.

That sounds bad and, without question, any increase at all is less than ideal. But when we take a closer look, there’s some cause for optimism. Even with an increase in the total number of pedestrian accidents in Louisville, the number of injuries declined by six (from 318 to 312, meaning that the decline in injuries was double the increase in total pedestrian collisions). Fatalities also fell by one, from 15 to 14.

For those inclined to glaze over numbers (we understand!), the takeaway is this: Louisville’s pedestrian situation may actually be getting modestly better. While there’s been a small uptick in accidents, a meaningfully smaller portion of those resulted in serious injury or death.

Of course, any pedestrian death is heartbreaking, and the majority could have been avoided with a combination of careful driving, street-smart pedestrian safety, and state/municipal efforts to crack down on pedestrian-endangering behaviors.

Auto Accidents Go Up; Deaths and Drunk Driving Go Down

Car Accidents Louisville

The auto accident picture is a somewhat grimmer one, but the trends are still a bit of a jumble.

Overall, auto accidents increased, from 25,353 to 25,713. Injuries fell, though. (From 4,729 to 4,651.) Deaths did too. (From 80 to 69.)

Pedestrian Accidents Louisville

It’s surprising to see a single city experience hundreds more accidents in a given year but also more than a hundred fewer injuries and fatalities. Drunk driving might have something to do with it. DUI collisions fell from 859 to 835. We know that drunk-driving accidents are among the deadliest and most catastrophic. With fewer drunk drivers comes diminished calamity.

A Trend of Safer Streets?

So what do we make of the numbers as a whole? The probable answer, unfortunately, is that it’s too early to tell. Two years do not a trend make, and the recent improvements would likely need to continue before they can support any inference of a real pattern of change.

This much remains crystal clear: auto accidents are a very serious, often-deadly danger in Louisville and throughout the entire state of Kentucky.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash in Louisville — whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist — the attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning can help. Contact us for a free consultation today.


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Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Five Famous Medical Malpractice Cases

While there are a lot of things individuals can do to take care of their own health, at one time or another most people find themselves in situations where they are relying on medical professionals to treat some sort of ailment. When a person is being treated, they are forced to relinquish control, and trust that the professionals are applying their knowledge and expertise in order to give their patient the best chance for healing.

At times, doctors, nurses, and other staff truly do everything they know how to help a patient, and even their best results in death or worsening of an illness or injury. But there are also many times when the details of medical protocol fall through the cracks, and a serious medical situation results. Too often the mistake that is made is hidden in hopes that they can fix what they did wrong without the patient or their family being any wiser. But just like children who try and glue a vase back together after they have knocked it over, hoping their parents don’t notice, a little patchwork is not enough to erase the mistake. With medical malpractice, however, the situation is far worse, because there is much more at stake.

Medical malpractice hits people in every socio-economical group, from “regular people” to famous celebrities. Here are five cases of medical malpractice that had a huge impact on the victims and their families.

Dennis Quaid’s Newborn Twins

Dennis QuaidIn November, 2007 Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly welcomed their their twins Zoe Grace and Thomas Boone into the world. When the babies were just two weeks old, they developed staff infections. The infections were difficult, but treatment was relatively standard and included administering an appropriate sized dose of Heparin, a blood thinning medication. Unfortunately, the wrong dosage was given to the Quaid infants — by 1000 times. The pharmacy technicians had delivered adult concentrations of the drug to the pediatric unit.

The babies were administered two doses of the drug eight hours apart. When the Quaids called the hospital to check on their condition, they were told that the babies were “fine.” even though the hospital was treating them for the overdose, which left the babies vulnerable to extreme bleeding.

The Quaid’s were not made aware until they showed up at the hospital early the next morning, greeted by the “risk management” department and were finally told that their children were in critical condition. In addition to making the error, and attempting to cover it up, the hospital also mismanaged media relations. Fortunately, after 11 days in intensive care the twins made a full recovery, and eventually they settled the case with the hospital for $750,000, and the hospital was another $25,000 by the California Department of Public Health.

Julie Andrews Throat Operation

Julie AndrewsFew would argue that the voice of Julie Andrews was among the most revered of the century. In 1997, she had developed nodules on her vocal chords which were causing minor problems. She was told surgery and a six week rest would correct things, but the operation permanently damaged her voice, leaving her unable to continue singing. Her malpractice suit was settled in a New York court.

Rhode Island Hospital Brain Surgery

When neurosurgeons undergo an operation on a person’s brain, double checking all the details is important — after all, it is brain surgery. However, in 2007 Rhode Island Hospital’s surgeons started operating on the wrong side of the brain three different times. Twice, they were able to correct their own mistake, by closing the holes and proceeding with the correct operation. The third patient was not as fortunate, and died three weeks after the botched surgery, The surgeon received a two month suspension of his license before returning to work.

Sherman Sizemore Anesthetic Awareness

When Sherman Sizemore underwent surgery in 2006. two types of anesthesia were required for the operation, paralytic agents, to prevent him from moving or speaking during the operation, and inhalation anesthesia which would make him lose consciousness and prevent him from feeling the pain of the surgery. The first was administered correctly, but the second was not.

Sixteen minutes into the surgery the medical team realized that he was still awake. The inhalational anesthesia, along with another drug intended to induce amnesia were given at that point, but Mr. Sizemore experienced nearly a half hour of surgery, complete with pain, while fully conscious. He was never told what happened. But although he was unable to point to a concrete memory of the incident, something was clearly wrong. With no prior history of psychiatric or psychological conditions, Sizemore was suddenly panicked. He thought that people were trying to bury him alive, and suffered from insomnia and nightmares. He committed suicide just weeks after the surgery, but his family didn’t fully make the connection between the surgery and his psychological struggles until a doctor mentioned the possibility while offering his condolences, prompting a closer look at his medical records.

Jesica Santilian Heart and Lung Transplant

In 2003, 17 year old Jesica Santilian came to the United States from Mexico to receive treatment for a severe heart condition, and it must have been a great relief to hear that she would receive the heart and lung transplant she needed. When doctors transplanted the organs, Jesica experienced severe brain damage, and her body was shutting down. At that point, medical staff realized that that the donor of the new organs did not have the same blood type as Jesica. While the physician attempted to rectify the error by finding compatible organs, and performing a second surgery, the damage had been done. Jessica did not survive the operation. The doctor took responsibility for the error, and the hospital implemented a new system to double check transplants in order to prevent similar errors from occurring.

Medical malpractice is not always as dramatic as it was in these instances, but the mistakes of medical professionals can result in a range of problems from inconvenience, to a more difficult recovery, to death. Hospitals and medical professionals often do not admit that they made a mistake, and attempt to cover their tracks leaving the patient and/or their family with little more than a gut feeling regarding the mishap. While there is no guarantee that such a feeling will lead to a successful lawsuit, it is still important for those in Kentucky to investigate and confirm the possibility as soon as possible. Most malpractice related lawsuits in the state fall under a one year statute of limitations, so it is important to act right not to miss an opportunity.

A Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study revealed that medical errors contribute to over 4,000 deaths each year, but 97% of valid claims are never pursued. Filing a malpractice suit is about more than money, it’s about accountability. By drawing attention to preventable mistakes, hospitals and medical professionals are forced to take a second look at their approach to medical care and make improvements that can help others. At Meinhart, Smith, and Manning in Louisville, we have handled multiple medical malpractice lawsuits, and we’re ready to look at the specifics of your case, and help you decide if filing a medical malpractice suit is the right move for you. Contact our office today for a free consultation with our experienced attorneys.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Understanding PIP Insurance in KY

Kentucky motorist are required to maintain specific levels of automobile insurance. Many drivers are confused about the “no fault’ or PIP insurance policies followed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We will attempt to clear up some of the confusion.

What is PIP?

Personal injury protection or “no fault” insurance means if you are involved in an accident regardless of fault your claim will be filed with your own insurance company. The at fault driver is not required to pay anything out of pocket to the victims of an accident if those victims have PIP coverage.

Is PIP mandatory?

While it is not mandatory in order to waive this insurance, you have to file specific documents with the Department of Insurance.  This document must be filed with the Kentucky Department of Insurance and provides motorists the option to refuse to accept only the limited compensation allowed when using this coverage. Otherwise, claims for injuries are limited by the policy and will pay only $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages.

In addition, PIP coverage does not apply if the other vehicle in an accident is uninsured, it’s an accident is related to employment activities or if the accident involved a motorcyclist who has not purchased PIP coverage. When you are involved with an accident with a motorcycle, it is important to know if they have elected special PIP coverage.

Does PIP rejection include all family members?

In most cases all family members are rejecting the coverage.  However one notable exception is that your spouse must sign the  rejection form themselves to be excluded. If your spouse does not sign the PIP rejection form and you are both involved in the same accident, they would be limited to PIP reimbursement.

What about deductibles on PIP Policies?

Some policies do include deductibles which can be problematic for drivers. For example if you have two family members injured each would pay an equal portion of the required detectable. therefore, if you are deductible amount is $1000, each person would have to sustain $500 in monetary losses. This means that injuries would have to exceed this amount before any reimbursement for medical costs is available to victims.

Does PIP include lost wage  benefits?

Well there is some coverage for lost wages, the maximum amount you can collect is $200. In addition, you can only collect 85 percent of your lost wages. For someone earning only $200 a week, the maximum amount that can be collected is $185. In addition, if a person is collecting Worker’s Compensation benefits at the same time, their total PIP payout may be further reduced.

What if my injuries exceed PIP?

PIP will cover injury expenses up to $10,000 and will only cover your expenses that are at least $1000. Only in specific situations may you pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

If you have rejected personal injury protection coverage for your medical costs and lost wages are in excess of 10,000 dollars, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney to help determine your options. Since the personal injury protection rules are very complicated and exclusions may apply to bicycle riders, pedestrians and motorcycle operators it is important to speak with an attorney who can explain your rights.

If you have been involved in an accident and you have rejected PIP coverage and the other driver has PIP coverage there may be additional options for getting compensation for your injuries. Additionally, even if you have PIP coverage, if your claims are rejected by your insurance company, you may need an attorney to assist you with getting the reimbursement that you are entitled to under the policy.

Any time you have suffered an injury because of someone’s negligence or inaction, it is important that you have someone working to protect your rights.  In addition to the injuries you have suffered, you should not have to suffer financially because of an accident.  Whether you are injured in a construction accident, a car accident or a motorcycle accident, you have the right to ensure that you understand how the personal injury laws can work for you and an attorney who understands these laws can serve as your advocate. Contact our attorneys for a free consultation today to talk about your legal rights.

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Failure to Communicate Change in Condition

Nurses failure to communicateOne of the skills people most like to highlight in their resume is “good communication skills.” This is something that is almost always sought after because when a person truly has these skills it can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of work they will be able to do, their ability to limit and manage stressful situations, and even improve the dynamic of relationships.

Communication Between Medical Professionals

Failing to communicate important information, especially when it comes to a medical condition can have very bad consequences. Failing to communicate a change in a patient’s condition is just one scenario that can result in a gap in care that could potentially cause irreparable damage or even death in a medical setting. As one patient is treated for a single ailment, the responsibility for that person’s care is shared by several people. Maintaining good communication about that person’s condition is vital. How a patient responds to various treatment options can make a big difference when it comes to deciding what the next step should be.

Nurses and mid-level professional, such as Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners are highly involved in a patient’s care, but their ability to follow directions, and to only treat patients to the extent that they are licensed to do so  makes them vulnerable to being named in a medical malpractice suit. A shared study conducted by the Nurses Service Organization (NSO) and CNA, explored a malpractice case where the errors of a nurse played a large role in the treatment of a patient in the hospital. Malpractice of nurses accounts for approximately $87 million in damages. In the cited case, a 28 year old woman came into the hospital because she was in labor and about to have her first child. There had been no problems with the pregnancy, and her labor began just a week before her due date. However, after she had been at the hospital for two hours, she was forced to undergo a c-section due to fetal distress.

The OBGYN delivered the baby, and there were no obvious adverse effects to the mother. Still, the doctor left instructions that accounted for possible red flags, and asked that he be notified if these became apparent. He especially stressed that he should be contacted if her oxygen levels dropped below 95%. The woman experienced the drop in oxygen, and several other uncomfortable symptoms, including uterine cramping, excess discharge, weakness, nausea, and unstable vital signs. The doctor was not notified of complications for four hours. During that time, the nurse also administered the drug Xanax, despite the risk it carried considered the woman’s unstable vitals.

When the doctor arrived, the patient’s blood pressure was extremely low, and an emergency hysterectomy was needed. The surgery resulted in even more complications, including the loss of blood. She was also experienced seizures, and cardiac arrest, which was temporarily remedied with CPR. She had congestive heart failure, fluid in her lungs, brain damage, pneumonia, and respiratory distress syndrome. After 12 days in the ICU, the woman died.

Communication with a Patient and Family

In addition to staying on the “same page” regarding a patient with fellow medical professionals, it is important to properly communicate with patients and their families as well. The reality of a medical situation can be hard to handle, but it is information that patients have a right to know. This knowledge is often beneficial because it can allow families to nurture their connections with one another.

Any time a patient is treated for a particular ailment, they may be seen by several practitioners in multiple settings. including primary care, specialized out patient, emergency care, surgical care, and rehabilitation. Within a single facility, there is also an average of three handoff communications involving a single patient. This communication needs to be accurate, but sometimes it is not. Gaps in communication compromise the continuity of care, and essential information can get lost, putting the patient at risk or medical complications up to and including death.

The Joint Commission in the U.S.A. reported the breakdown in communication was the number one factor in unexpected serious injury and/or death. In Australia, a study was done tracking issues with transferring patients between health care providers. When adverse issues arose, 11% of the time they involved communication issues. Inadequate skills only contributed to 6% of incidents.

Communication problems are not only responsible for causing missed opportunities for quality care, but can also result in providing unneeded care. One woman received a more complex procedure than what was  needed for her irregular menstrual bleeding, Performing the wrong procedure meant that the woman would not be able to get pregnant in the future. If communication issues led you or a loved one to receive subpar care that resulted in injury or death, contact Meinhart, Smith and Manning for a consultation.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Herniated Discs – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

People are born with 33 vertebrae, but by the time they reach adulthood, some of the ones in the lower back fuse together, leaving only 24. Between each disc there is a cushion reminiscent of a jelly doughnut with a hard outside and a soft, squishy jelly like material on the inside of the doughnut. Healthy and normally functioning discs hold the spine together and also act as “shock absorbers” which allows the spine to have some flexibility.

What is a Herniated Disc

When the cushion gets a crack in it, some of the jelly-like substance oozes out and irritates nearby nerves which may cause pain. The condition is referred to by several names. Herniated disc is the most common term, but ruptured disc, bulging disc and slipped disc are terms that are also used to refer to the condition.  Most herniated discs are found in the lumbar spine with the second most common area being the neck.

Herniated Disc Symptoms

Some people have a herniated disc and do not even know it. Others suffer debilitating and excruciating pain to a degree that they are unable to even participate in daily life activities. Some common symptoms include:

  • Leg or arm pain. The oozing gel-like substance may irritate the nerves to the legs or arms which causes pain. If the herniated disc is in the lumbar region, there may be leg pain. If it is in the neck, the pain may radiate down the arm. Often, the pain is increased when a person coughs, sneezes, laughs or moves into certain positions.
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm or leg, depending on which disc is herniated.
  • Weakness in muscles that are affected by the irritated nerves become weak making it difficult to hold an item if the arms are affected. If legs are affected a person may stumble and have balance issues.
  • Stabbing pains that radiate down the leg.
  • Difficulty in urinating or defecating.

Causes of Causes

The most common causes of herniated discs are:

  • The aging process which results in the deterioration of the discs which crack and cause the gel to ooze into the nerves
  • Lifting heavy objects using the back muscles instead of the leg muscles
  • Repetitive movements that cause strain to the back. This is often the result of sports activities
  • Sudden twisting or bending motion
  • Car accidents


In many cases, diagnosis is made based on a person’s physical symptoms, medical history and responses to neurological testing such as testing reflexes, walking ability and response to pin pricks of the extremities. If the medical professional suspects the pain may be caused by something other than a herniated disc, other tests will be done to rule out other causes and confirm the diagnosis of herniated disc. These include imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans or a myelogram. Nerve tests may also be conducted.

Herniated Disc Treatment

Treatment ranges from simple home remedies, like alternating heat and cold to the affected area, to surgery.  Some rest is recommended, but too much rest is not good. Other possible treatments, depending on the severity of the pain, include:

  • Medications ranging from over-the-counter pain relievers to narcotics. Specific nerve pain medications may be required and, for severe pain, cortisone injections directly into the nerve area may provide pain relief
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing the area of the affected disc
  • Ultrasound
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery, which is usually a last resort when all other treatments have been tried and been ineffective in relieving pain, or when severe symptoms arise, such as problems with urinating and defecating or inability to stand or walk

How an Attorney Can Help

If you suffer from herniated disc pain that arose following an accident, particularly a car accident, you may have a claim for damages against a person who negligently caused your injury. These are complex cases and the opposing party’s insurer often argues that your herniated disc was not caused by the accident. A lot depends on the nature of the impact, where you were sitting in the vehicle at the time of the impact and other issues that may be discovered during the investigatory process. Our experienced attorneys will review the facts of your case with you and help you decide how to proceed. Contact our offices today for a free consultation of your legal options

Posted in Personal Injury

Retinal Detachment Symptoms and Treatment

retinal detachmentAlthough many people express themselves by rolling their eyes, ultimately, eyes are supposed to stay properly attached and in place, but those who suffer from retinal detachment experience some trouble with this. The retina is an important layer of tissue that is on the back of the eye and is supplied with the oxygen it needs for proper function through the attached blood vessel. When that connection is compromised, the eye loses oxygen, and if the condition is not quickly treated, vision is lost as well. The longer the wait, the worse it gets. Receiving an early diagnosis and treatment can save vision.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

One of the main things that indicate the possibility of retinal detachment is when a person sees “floaters” in their line of sight. These look like specks of debris, hair or spots that seem to be floating in air.  If the detachment is happening in a specific eye, that eye may notice flashes of light. It can also seem that a curtain has begun to close on the visual field of an affected eye. There may also be some shrinking of vitreous, the gel-like material that fills the eye. Seeing spots of floaters for a few seconds does not necessarily warrant a diagnosis of a detached retina. If floater persist, treatment is likely needed.

How and Why Does Retina Detachment Happen?

The retina connection becomes more fragile as people get older, especially for those over 40.  Those most at risk are very nearsighted people, due to stretching of the eyeball. Those who have experienced an inflammatory eye disorder, advanced diabetes, or have sustained an injury to the eye may experience retina thinning, which leads to tears and fluid leakage. Family history can also play a role.

Getting Treatment

In most cases, retinal detachment can be repaired, but the extent to which vision is restored depends largely on how quickly a person gets treatment. Whenever possible, a person who experiences symptoms should see an eye specialist immediately. For many, this means going to an emergency department that has an opthamologist  available. At the very least, they should be able to provide an appropriate referral.

In some cases, retinal detachment is minor enough that it will heal on its own, in other cases, surgery, laser therapy, or other treatments will be required as well as professional observation to assure that healing is properly progressing. In some cases, it will take months to recover from retinal detachment, and the recovery period often requires that activities be restricted in order to prevent recurrence.

Sometimes, when retinal detachment happens it is something that should have been preventable. It may have been triggered by a physical injury that happened during a car accident, falls, or exposure to chemicals. At times, symptoms are reported to a person’s regular doctor or an emergency room doctor, and those reports are not taken seriously, allowing the condition to worsen. The opthomologist may also fail to diagnose or mismanage the condition.

Ophthalmologists have a low rate of malpractice claims brought against them compared with health care professionals in other disciplines, however, when claims are made, failure to diagnose retinal detachment is the second most common reason, after glaucoma related issues. Mismanaging the disease is also a possible reason for a claim, although it happens much less often.

At times, retinal detachment is not immediately detected through the initial eye exam, but in nearly two percent of cases, a retinal tear will be present within six weeks. Ophthalmologists should be diligent in educating their staff as to what constitutes an urgent case and what isn’t. keeping patients as well informed about their own condition as possible, and charting these interactions on the patient’s chart.

Proper vision is key to a person’s ability to maintain their sense of control of their world, and independence. A drastic deterioration can greatly reduce the quality of a person’s life and may even contribute to conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders.

If you experienced retinal detachment, and are facing additional obstacles in your life because of it, it is important to consider why. If it happened because of a physical injury, or if became worse due to your being denied timely diagnosis or case, the attorneys at Meinhart, Smith, and Manning, PLLC may be able to help.

As important as it is to receive timely treatment for retinal detachment, as well as other injuries, it is just as important to act right away on any pertinent personal injury or malpractice case. The state of Kentucky imposes a statute of limitations on the length of time a person can file  a case. Pursuing action right away, also keeps details more fresh and evidence more reliable.

Contact us to set up a consultation to discuss your situation and we’ll help you decide which course of action is best for you.

Posted in Personal Injury

Texting and Driving Statistics in KY

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2013, 10 percent of all fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes were distraction-affected crashes.

That said, vehicle crashes that involve distracted drivers are on the decline. In 2013, there were 3,154 fatalities caused by distracted drivers. This is a decrease of nearly 7 percent when compared to the fatalities recorded in 2012. However, there was a slight increase (0.7 percent) in the number of people injured due to distracted drivers.

In 2014, the state of Kentucky experienced more than 53,500 crashes, which resulted in 169 fatalities and in excess of 14,000 injuries. All of these crashes occurred due to distracted driving.

Texting While Driving Is Especially Dangerous

Although every kind of distraction can be dangerous to the driver and those around him or her, texting involves all three distraction categories, which makes texting and driving extremely dangerous. NHTSA states that when an individual texts while driving, he or she looks away from the roadway for approximately five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, the distance traveled in that time totals the length of a football field.

On April 15, 2010, Kentucky House Bill 415 became a law. This law bans drivers from texting while the vehicle is in motion.

Drivers Under the Age of 18

Drivers who are under the age of 18 are not permitted to use any kind of personal communication device while the automobile is moving. Although using a global positioning system is permitted, information can only be entered manually into the GPS when the vehicle stops.

Drivers 18 and Older

Drivers who are 18 and older are permitted to use a GPS as well as read, select or enter a name or telephone number to make a call.

Texting and Driving Statistics

Carnegie Mellon University states that driving while using a mobile phone substantially reduces the brain activity associated with driving. Studies indicate this decrease is nearly 40 percent.

According to the University of Utah, the use of a handheld or hands-free cell phone while driving changes a driver’s reaction time. This reaction time change is equal to the decrease seen in an individual with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent.

The 2011 survey Mobile Device Use While Driving — United States and Seven European Countries states that 31 percent of the U.S. drivers surveyed between the ages of 18 and 64 reported that within the 30 days prior to completing the survey, they had sent or read text messages or emails while driving.

If you were involved in a car crash and sustained injuries, you may be able to seek compensation. Please contact our office to schedule your free initial consultation today.

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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