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See No Evil – Hear No Evil – Speak No Evil at the Metropolitan Transit Authority

If an organization was involved in a major accident in which several people were killed, you would hope it would learn from its mistakes and take responsibility for its actions.  If the organization is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the accident is the train derailment in the Bronx that killed four and injured more than 70 two weeks ago, it’s not clear the organization is heading in that direction.

Metro North Mass Transit Accident

According to an article in the New York Times, the MTA’s board had their first public meeting since the accident, on December 16. Safety issues came up, as they have in the past year.  According to the Times,

The meeting on Monday was held as the Federal Railroad Administration was to begin a sweeping review of Metro-North’s operations and “safety culture,” the first such inquiry into a passenger railroad in the federal agency’s history. The derailment has capped what was already a difficult year for the railroad. Other troubles have included a train collision on the New Haven line in May; the death of a track foreman, who was struck in West Haven, Conn., less than two weeks later after a trainee rail controller opened a section of track without proper clearance; and the derailment of a freight train on the Hudson line in July.

Despite these repeated safety problems, some of which ended up killing people, The Times reports board members largely praised the transportation authority’s leaders, including the chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, and Metro-North’s president, Howard R. Permut, even while they questioned the railroad’s safety record. “He didn’t cause this accident,” one board member, Charles G. Moerdler, was quoted as saying of Mr. Permut.

“You see very clearly, firsthand, the impact of the incident on people’s lives,” Pendergast was quoted,  recalling the sight of victims being removed from the Bronx crash scene. He said he was involved in “soul-searching,” trying to determine, “What could you do to prevent a recurrence from happening?”

That’s an important question to ask.  Maybe one thing that could be done is to hold leaders accountable if their organization repeatedly makes mistakes that cost lives. Without accountability, there’s little incentive to change.

In situations like this, if an organization won’t take responsibility for itself, it’s often legal claims by accident victims that result in facts coming to light and organizations being held accountable financially by the courts for their negligence and the harm they inflicted. Time will tell how this will play out for the MTA.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood, LLC

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries in a mass transit accident, contact our office online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. There is no charge or obligation for your first visit. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

The Law Office of Michael J. Hood represents accident & injury victims throughout Delaware and Pennsylvania including individuals in New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware. Also Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.

Dietary Supplement Dangers

Dietary supplements may offer the prospect of a healthier, stronger, more youthful you, but the reality may just be the opposite.  A supplement may do you more harm than good.

Federal regulation of dietary supplements is far more lax than pharmaceuticals.  While drug makers must show the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a new drug is safe and effective for its intended use before it can be approved for sale, a dietary supplement maker doesn’t have to show anything to anyone.

Under federal law, dietary supplements need not be registered with the FDA.  It’s up to the manufacturers to make sure the product is safe and that labels are truthful and not misleading.  Manufacturers are also entrusted to submit to the FDA any adverse event reports they receive.

The FDA and Dietary Supplements

With this hands off approach to regulation, the general public has become guinea pigs for dietary supplements.  An example is the Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50, marketed as a vitamin B dietary supplement. One thing the FDA can do is take action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Last July it warned consumers not to use these supplements because of 29 reports of adverse reactions.

After laboratory analysis of the supplement, the FDA also found a nasty surprise for consumers: two potentially harmful anabolic steroids (one a controlled substance), not listed as ingredients, were part of the supplement.  According to the FDA, anabolic steroid use may cause acute liver injury. Some of the incidents reported to the FDA resulted in hospitalization, but there were no reports of death or acute liver failure.

The FDA states anabolic steroid use may cause other serious long-term consequences, including adverse effects on blood lipid levels, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, masculinization of women, shrinkage of the testicles, breast enlargement, infertility in males and short stature in children.

The FDA asked the product’s manufacturer, Mira Health Products Ltd. in Farmingdale, New York, to recall the product and warn consumers of potential health effects.  It refused.

Without any further action by the FDA, it’s up to the legal system to hold Mira accountable.  Earlier this month a product consumer in New York filed a lawsuit against Mira in state court alleging negligence and recklessness, failure to warn consumers and defective design.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff, Manya DuHuffmann, suffered skin rashes, fatigue, severe muscle cramping, unusual hair growth and hair loss, deepening of her voice and increased blood lipid levels and liver enzyme levels. Even now, after discontinuing use, she is still allegedly experiencing pain, disability, emotional distress and economic loss.

This is an instance where if federal law and a federal agency can’t or won’t prevent harm to a consumer, a personal injury attorney can seek damages for his client and hopefully bring about positive change. Perhaps a verdict for the plaintiff may lead to changes in the product or stop its sales entirely.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood, LLC

If you or a loved one may have suffered serious side effects due to a dietary supplement, (302) 777-1000. There is no charge or obligation for your first visit. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

The Law Office of Michael J. Hood represents accident & injury victims throughout Delaware and Pennsylvania including individuals in New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware. Also Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.

Common Causes of an Escalator – Elevator Injury

Seeking Compensation after an Elevator or Escalator Injury

Elevators and escalators have revolutionized the modern world, allowing consumers, businesses and residents easy access to high rise living, shopping and work. Though strict regulations govern the operation of elevators and escalators, statistics show that every year approximately 30 people are killed and more than 15,000 suffer injuries in elevator and escalator accidents. If you have been a victim of an elevator or escalator accident, there are a number of avenues you can pursue to obtain full and fair compensation for all your losses.

Negligent Design or Manufacture

Elevators and escalators involve thousands of working parts. When the designer or manufacturer of any part of an elevator or escalator fails to take reasonable care, the malfunction of a single part can have devastating consequences.

Failure to Inspect and Maintain an Elevator or Escalator

According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training, many of the deaths and serious injuries sustained in elevator and escalator accidents could have been avoided if timely inspection and maintenance requirements had been followed. Researchers cited numerous conditions that can arise because of failure to inspect or maintain an elevator or escalator, including:

  • Unsafe wearing of cables, brackets, or other fixtures that secure an elevator or escalator
  • Wiring or electrical problems that may cause elevator doors to open between floors or when an elevator car is not present, or that may lead to sudden starts or stops
  • Sudden changes in the speed or direction of an elevator or escalator
  • Damage to clothing guards on an escalator

Failure to Provide Adequate Protection during Construction or Repair

The CCRT study found that nearly half of the deaths in elevator accidents occurred while an elevator was either under construction or repair. In most instances, proper safeguards were not employed, or owners/workers failed to provide adequate notice of the dangers involved.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Seeking Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident

When You Are Hurt in an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

When you have been in an automobile accident, one of your first steps is typically to contact the insurance provider for the other driver. But what if you don’t know who the other driver was? What if you sustained injuries in a hit and run accident? Are you without recourse to seek compensation for your losses? The answer is most often no.

In Delaware, as in all states, automobile insurance carriers customarily offer what is known as uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage. It is typically optional and, in most instances, will appear as a rider on your policy. If you have this type of coverage, you can seek reimbursement directly from your own insurance company, should you be in an accident with a driver who carries no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your losses. You can also use this provision to seek coverage when you cannot identify who caused your injuries.

You may or may not be able to find it if you review your policy after an accident. In addition, your insurance company may not be too helpful in assisting you with an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. An experienced lawyer can review your policy and identify quickly whether you are entitled to this coverage.
You may also want to investigate whether there are other parties who may be potentially liable, parties who have the resources to cover your losses. For example, road conditions may have contributed to your accident, or there may have been a traffic light out. There may have been problems with your car, stemming either from design or manufacturing errors, or faulty work by a mechanic.

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we will use our three decades of experience to help you get full and fair compensation for all your losses, including wages and income, medical bills, physical pain and suffering and loss of companionship. We handle all types of serious and catastrophic loss, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, paralysis, burns, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and amputation or loss of limb. We also take wrongful death claims.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.

A Property Owner’s Duty to Address Snowy or Icy Conditions

Snow and Ice Removal—What Must a Property Owner Do?

Winter is almost upon us. Over the next few months, far too many people will suffer injuries slipping on ice or snow on someone else’s residential or commercial property. In Delaware, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to maintain the premises in a way that minimizes the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting the property. How does this apply to accumulations of snow or ice? What must a landowner do to protect his or her interests?

Liability for Snowy or Icy Conditions

In a lawsuit for injuries suffered after a fall on residential or commercial property, you can typically seek compensation from either the owner, or the possessor of property, or both. As a general rule, for a property owner to have responsibility for injuries related to a fall, the injured person must show one of three things happened:

  • The owner or possessor neglected to perform reasonable maintenance, or to properly monitor the property to become aware of potentially dangerous conditions,
  • The owner or possessor knew (or should reasonably have known) about dangerous conditions that actually existed, or
  • The owner or possessor created the dangerous conditions, either through acts or omissions.

The rules governing the removal of ice and snow vary from state to state. In Delaware, no distinction is made between snow or ice as a dangerous condition, and any other type of risk. The key question will be whether or not the property owner took reasonable steps to remedy the problem. Important factors will include the amount of snow and the timeliness with which the property owner responded. If a jury determines that a reasonable person would have responded differently, and that the property owner had the ability to respond that way, they can find the owner or possessor liable.

Contact Us

For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call (302) 777-1000 to schedule an appointment. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Types of Injuries on a Construction Site

The Types of Injuries Most Frequently Suffered on a Construction Site

You don’t need to watch The Most Dangerous Jobs in the World to know that the likelihood of serious injury on a construction site, especially a high-rise, can be substantial. With cranes, earth movers, graders and other heavy equipment nearly always present, and with scaffolding, ladders, construction elevators and heavy building materials, the slightest carelessness by an owner, contractor or another worker can spell disaster. Here are the most common types of accidents on construction sites:

  • Falls from heights—In an effort to save costs or meet deadlines, owners and contractors often fail to take appropriate precautions to prevent workers fall from upper levels, from elevators or cherry pickers, or from ladders or scaffolding. Scaffolding may be improperly constructed or poorly maintained, or necessary guard rails may not be in place or may not be properly constructed
  • Falling objects—Workers on a construction site are often in danger of being struck by a falling object, such as building materials or tools stored on an upper level, as well as collapsing cranes or collapsing upper levels.
  • Injuries caused by the malfunction or improper use of tools, machinery or equipment—In some instances, a tool or machine may be poorly designed or may be used for some other purpose than specified. Owners or contractors may neglect to perform necessary maintenance, or to repair tools when necessary. In addition, workers may be inadequately trained or qualified to use tools, machines or heavy equipment.
  • Injuries caused by lack of supervision, poor training, or negligence in hiring—Some contractors hire workers without the necessary skills to operate heavy equipment or to perform other key tasks. They may also allow workers to do their job without adequate instruction or supervision.
  • Motor vehicle accidents on job sites—Many construction sites have regular traffic moving in and out, with deliveries arriving, and with heavy machinery moving regularly about the project.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Driving Distracted — More Common Than Driving Drunk?

Texting and Driving—More Prevalent than Drinking and Driving?

Here are some startling statistics:

  • In 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3,300 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. In the same year, just under 10,000 people were killed nationwide by drunk drivers.
  • The average amount of time it takes to send or read a text message is nearly five seconds, about the same amount of time it takes to stop a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour. In fact, in a study in Virginia, researchers found that truck drivers who sent or received text messages while behind the wheel increased their risk of accident and injury by almost 25%. Studies also corroborate that sending a text message while driving can increase reaction time by one third to one half.
  • The reaction time for someone sending a text message was actually worse than that of a drunk driver, in a study conducted by Car and Driver magazine.
  • Adults are worse about texting and driving than younger drivers. Almost half of all adults asked admitted to sending text messages while on the road. Just over 2 of every five teenagers are guilty of texting and driving.

In another study initiated by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, during the same time period (2009-2012), while there was a 20% drop in the number of drivers who admitted they would think about drinking and driving, there was an increase in the number of drivers who admitted texting, as well as a decrease in the number of people who thought texting or e-mailing while driving was a bad thing.

The Car and Driver study was conducted on a runway at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan, with a 22 year-old using and iPhone and a 37 year-old driver on a Samsung Alias. For both drivers, their average reaction time was significantly greater while texting or reading an e-mail than it was when they were impaired. In fact, for the 37 year-old driver, the reaction time was at least double in both instances.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

What is Premises Liability?

Understanding the Legal Concept of Premises Liability

One of the most common types of personal injury claims involves what the law refers to as “premises liability.” For the lay person, this term can be confusing. Is it really just another way of saying “slip and fall”? Not exactly. Here’s what lawyers mean when they talk about a premises liability claim.

In all states, the owner or possessor (could be a landlord, tenant or property manager) of residential or commercial property has a duty to keep the property (or premises) in a condition that minimizes the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting the property. As a general rule, this means that the owner or possessor must take reasonable steps to monitor the property for any potentially dangerous conditions. If any are discovered (or should have been discovered), the owner or possessor has a duty to either take reasonable measures to fix the problem, or to provide adequate notice of any known dangers.

The most common type of claim based on premises liability stems from a slip, trip or fall. Typically, this involves a slip or fall on slippery floors, sidewalks or walkways; on defective, torn or broken flooring, such as tile, linoleum or carpet; or broken steps or stairways. A property owner can also be responsible for naturally occurring conditions, such as snow or ice, if it can be shown that the owner or possessor could have reasonably taken steps to remove or remedy the problem before the accident occurred.

There are, however, other injury claims that can fall under a premises liability claim. For example, if property is located in a dangerous neighborhood and the owner fails to provide adequate security or proper lighting, there can be liability for any injuries that you suffer. Owners and occupiers of land can also have responsibility for injuries caused by pets or animals they keep on the property.

Property owners customarily have no duty of care toward people who are trespassing illegally on the premises, unless they know or have reason to know of the presence of trespassers.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Driver Fatigue – a Common Cause of Truck Accidents

In response to increased concerns about the number of hours commercial truck drivers spend on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently enacted new regulations designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents stemming from driver fatigue. On July 1, 2013, new standards went into effect, limiting drivers to 70 hours per week behind the wheel, and mandating at least 34 hours off when truckers reach the 70 hour maximum. The new regulations retain prior rules that limit a driver to 11 consecutive hours after a 10 hour break, and no more than 11 total hours over a 14 hour consecutive period. Drivers must also take a 30 minute break at some point during the first 8 hours on the road.

Truck Drivers Going Without Rest

There are a variety of reasons that truckers operate big rigs, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers without the necessary rest. Most are compensated by the number of miles they drive, providing an incentive to log as many as possible. Many trucking companies have tight deadlines, and do not monitor drivers to make certain logs are accurate, and drivers are not exceeding federal limits. Sometimes it can be as simple as wanting to get home, or trying to avoid bad weather.

The statistics are pretty clear, though. About one in every 8 commercial truck accidents involves driver fatigue. In an FMCSA study, about 7% of drivers who had been in accidents admitted to falling asleep while driving. Another 40% said they felt some level of fatigue at the time of the crash.

Studies show that driver fatigue dramatically slows down reaction time, a significantly greater risk when you are hauling 80,000 pounds of goods. Researchers also determined that drivers who suffered from fatigue made frequent judgment errors, including changing lanes without looking, accelerating instead of braking, and exceeding the speed limit.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

When You Are Hurt in an Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

Often, after suffering injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence or carelessness of another driver, your first course of action is to seek reimbursement and compensation from the other driver’s insurance provider. But what are your options when the other driver carries coverage for property damage only, or, worse yet, is driving without insurance (even though that’s a violation of the law).

In Delaware, as in other state, insurers typically offer what is known as uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage. It typically appears as a rider on your policy, and allows you to seek reimbursement directly from your own insurance company, in the event the “at-fault” party either has no insurance, or does not have enough coverage to cover your losses. It’s usually offered at an additional premium, and most insurance agents will carefully explain what it is and how much it will increase your premium. You may or may not be able to find it if you review your policy after an accident. In addition, your insurance company may not be too helpful in assisting you with an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. You are best served to have an experienced lawyer review your policy and act as your liaison with insurers.

Another option when you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver is to investigate the likelihood that there are other potentially liable third parties who have the resources to cover your losses. For example, even though the other driver may have been speeding or driving recklessly, there may also have been potholes or other roadway defects that contributed to the accident. The other driver’s vehicle may have been negligently designed or manufactured, or even serviced improperly by a garage or mechanic, leading to defects that caused or contributed to the accident.

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we will use our three decades of experience to help you get full and fair compensation for all your losses, including wages and income, medical bills, physical pain and suffering and loss of companionship. We handle all types of serious and catastrophic loss, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, paralysis, burns, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and amputation or loss of limb. We also take wrongful death claims.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.