Laird Barron

Not Lord Baron

A recurring theme in many da Vinci robot lawsuits naming Intuitive Surgical Inc. as a defendant is that of inadequate training of surgeons in the use of the company’s robotic surgical system. Surgical injuries can occur with robot-assisted surgery in a number of ways, most commonly when blood vessels are nicked or organ linings are punctured by accident. It is also possible for a patient to be harmed when the electric current jumps from the instruments to the patient, causing burns that can lead to serious health issues or even death.

The surgeon’s training comes into play in this last instance with the simple act of cleaning an instrument that came with the da Vinci system in the midst of a procedure. Properly trained surgeons would know not to scrape instruments together to clean them as this causes the protective coating to be scraped off as well. This increases the risk of “arcing,” which is when an electrical current appears to jump from one surface to another.

Plaintiffs in the cases against Intuitive claim that the company knew of this particular risk, yet failed to inform surgeons about it.  Moreover, in order to increase the number of surgeons who are credentialed for its use and thus increase demand for the product, da Vinci system salespeople aggressively push hospitals relax credential requirements for surgeons being trained to use it. Since robot-assisted surgery is physically easier on the surgeon and comes at a premium, the tendency is for surgeons who have credentials to recommend the da Vinci system to their patients needing gynecologic, cardiothoracic, urologic and general surgery.

In most cases where burning occurred, surgeons are seldom listed as a defendant in personal injury claims because they are not considered to be at fault. The manufacturer is responsible for providing users of the new technology with the skills and knowledge to use the tool safely and effectively.

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Over-the-counter medication that is readily available in most household first-aid cabinets now includes warnings about components that could lead to overdoses.

Tylenol, produced by McNEIL-PPC, Inc., now comes in bottles where the caps include warnings that the medication contains acetaminophen, a pain reliever that has long been misused, possibly resulting in overdose and liver problems.

Many people think that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are harmless and may be ingested with impunity. The truth is, it is easier to abuse and misuse OTC medications because it is so readily available. Pharmaceutical companies are not always so concerned with consumer awareness, which is why the potential for product liability lawsuits is present. Not so with the makers of Tylenol.

In general, acetaminophen is safe as long as the dose does not exceed 3,000 milligrams a day. This is about six tablets of Tylenol, which is a lot even on the most stressful of days. However, an overdose can occur accidentally when the medication is taken with another drug which already contains acetaminophen such as Sudafed or other prescription medication, or when it is mixed with alcohol. In roughly 50% of overdose cases, the excessive amounts were taken deliberately. The most recent additional warnings in the cap is to ensure that no liability can be attached to the drug manufacturer in case of an overdose.

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Grandparent Rights in Texas

Posted By on Jul 24, 2013

Divorce is always a time of stress and worry, but usually grandparents merely play a supporting role, perhaps provide testimonials to support their respective child’s claims when necessary. But when grandparents believe that their grandchildren suffer under the custody of unfit parents, they take on a more active role.

Grandparents’ rights refer to custody of a grandchild in lieu of one of the biological parents. Typically, grandparents can ask and receive visitation rights in Texas if any of the conditions apply:

  • Parents are divorced
  • Custodial parent is abusive or neglectful
  • Custodial parent is dead, in prison or found incompetent
  • The parent-child relationship has been legally terminated by a court
  • The grandchild has been in the custody of the grandparent for a minimum of 6 months

It is not at all easy to prove that a parent is unfit or that it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of his or her grandparents. This is especially true, according to the legal website Holmes, Diggs & Eames, PLLC, when the custodial parent is resistant. It has to be proven in court that the child’s physical and emotional health is being impaired significantly by being under the continued supervision of the custodial parent.

In Texas, grandparents may sue for custody of a grandchild only if at least one biological or step- parent is alive and has parental rights to the child. Grandparents’ rights are superseded by the rights of an adoptive parent if he or she is a person other than a step-parent, and grandparents may not sue for access or custody to the child.

Once grandparents’ rights have been established, grandparents take on the role of conservators. Financial support may be claimed from both parents for medical and living expenses as this is their legal responsibility.

If you believe that your grandchild is being abused, neglected, or otherwise not being reared in a reasonably healthy environment, then you can assert your rights as a grandparent. Contact a grandparents’ rights attorney to get the wheels started on your petition before more damage to the child is done.

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Types of Brain Damage

Posted By on Jul 22, 2013

A physically traumatic event can result in brain damage, such as in a vehicular accident. But to say that there is brain damage can mean a lot of things. The damage may be mild and temporary and may resolve without any treatment. Alternatively, according to the Perth Amboy-based law firm Levinson Axelrod, P.A., brain damage can be extremely severe, resulting in permanent and total disability or death. The type of brain damage will depend on the amount and location of the force, and what portions of the brain was affected. Below are some of the more common types of brain damage.


When the brain is subjected to a sudden and violent force, cranial nerves and blood vessels may be affected, causing disorientation, dizziness, and/or loss of coordination, consciousness, and memory. It is not easy to diagnose, which is why patients who sustained a blow to the head or involved in a vehicular accident are required to keep conscious for 24 hours after to report on symptoms. There is no treatment for a concussion, and may take a few months to a few years to heal. Occasionally, a blood clot can form which can lead to death. Concussions are the most common types of brain damage.


When the brain bleeds from direct impact to the head, this is called a contusion. Small ones may be left alone to resolve by itself, but large ones may have to be removed surgically. There are several types of contusions, including:

  • Coup-Contrecoup Injury – the force is hard enough that the brain is “bounced off” the wall of the skull, creating contusions at both the original point of impact and at the opposite side
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury – when rotational forces, such as in a car accident occur, the violent movement causes the axons from all over the brain to shear away, causing interruptions in the firing of information from the brain to the body and vice versa. The effects can be temporary or permanent, depending on the amount of force and the site of shearing.

There are other types of brain damage. The aforementioned are simply the most common that occurs in car accidents. If you or someone close to you sustained any form of brain damage as a result of the negligent actions of a third party, you may have a case for a personal injury claim.

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Sexual Assault in a Civil Tort Action

Posted By on Jul 20, 2013

Rape and sexual assault are considered by most people as the basis for criminal prosecution, but few consider the personal injury aspects of this particular type of crime. Sexual offenses against women and children often have far-reaching and life-long consequences, and it is not always enough that the perpetrator is put in prison. The physical, psychological and emotional damage to survivors of sexual assault are arguably much more serious than other types of civil torts, usually referred to as personal injuries.

This option for civil remedies to sexual assault has been around since the early 1900s, but it is only recently that victims have become aware that they can get financial compensation for what they had gone through. This could be due to the increasing popularity of personal injury lawsuits since the 1970s. Whatever the reason, this accommodation is probably most appropriate for victims of sexual assault than any other personal injury. Under civil tort law, survivors of sexual assault may be able to redress their grievances in employment, immigration, education, public benefits, housing and family law. As a civil tort action, however, the focus is on seeking financial compensation for injuries suffered from sexual assault.

The parties that may be considered liable in civil court may also be much broader than that available in the criminal justice arena. Prior to 1960, it was the perpetrator which was the sole focus of the lawsuit. However, the circle of responsibility has become much wider in recent years, as the law accommodates the concept that other parties which may have foreseen or should have foreseen the potential for sexual assault may also be held liable. According to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. in Wausau, the gathering of evidence to prove negligence of other parties is essential for bringing about a successful civil tort action. An example would be a school which fails to check on the background of their staff, one of whom is a registered sex offender. If one or more of the children under their care are sexually assaulted by this person, the school may be held liable for what is considered a breach of their duty of care to their students.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can get the compensation you need to pay for therapy, medication, special equipment, medical bills, and other costs associated with the attack on your person. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area and get your civil tort action going.

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Is Robotic Surgery Safe?

Posted By on Jul 19, 2013

It is the scene out of the most popular science fiction movies – a robot performing surgery. In theory it makes perfect sense; robotic surgery addresses certain human weaknesses such as the surgeon’s hands starting to shake after hours on a delicate and stressful operation. But is robotic surgery safe? And is it worth the extra cost and training necessary for its successful use?

Currently, hundreds of thousands of surgeries are performed using robotic tools, and on the whole it is considered safe. However, as the frequency of robotic surgeries rises, so does the chances of complications. Since 2007 when the technique was first introduced to perform hysterectomies, there have been over 200 reported serious injuries of which 89 had resulted in death due to complications during and following robotic surgery.

It is speculated that the use of monopolar energy, which can cause damage from sparks produced, may be the cause of the burns to the bowels, ureter, intestines and other sites which represent the majority of injuries reported. The injuries may not present at once, sometimes taking days and requiring additional procedures to pinpoint and repair. Top robotic surgery tool manufacturer Intuitive Surgical maintain that with proper use, the da Vinci surgical robot is perfectly safe.

According to the website of Massachusetts law firm Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, the potential for injury may lie primarily on the amount of training and experience of doctors and medical staff has in the proper use of the technology. When a patient suffers injury due to the improper use of robotic surgical techniques, the doctor and hospital may be found to have breached their duty of care and be civilly liable for those injuries. If you or someone close to you came back from a routine procedure using robotic surgery with serious injuries, consult with a robotic surgery lawyer at once to explain to you your options.

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Compensation for the cost of damages caused by a car accident in the US is often paid for by the car insurance provider of the driver at fault. This is usually accomplished when each of the parties concerned informs their respective insurance companies about the accident and the details so that fault can be assigned. The insurers will then determine who pays for what and how much. Depending on the coverage of the driver at fault and the extent of the injury, some car accident compensation for pain and suffering may be forthcoming. However, whether the offered settlement for pain and suffering is fair or not will depend on a lot of factors.

Insurers are always interested in getting away with paying as little as they can possibly get away with, so in most instances whatever the insurer initially offers for pain and suffering is probably going to be really small. Many people quickly accept the offered car accident compensation to settle the matter as soon as possible, thinking they are getting money for nothing. However, according to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., they often don’t consider that there may be physical, psychological and emotional problems that will crop up later that will have a significant impact in their lives. This may entail additional and possibly long-term costs. After all, it is not called pain and suffering for nothing.

Unless a personal injury lawsuit is filed, insurers will generally try to dictate how much car accident compensation for pain and suffering will be. The at-fault driver’s coverage may have a natural cap for such payments, but insurers will seldom offer the maximum outright. Consulting a personal injury law firm can provide a good estimate of what might be reasonable car accident compensation for pain and suffering.

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Dog Bite Law in New Jersey

Posted By on Jul 16, 2013

There is a statute under New Jersey state law that specifies the liability for dog bites (NJSA 4:19-16). Nevertheless, those who may be considering a dog bite personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner should know what the statute says.

New Jersey implements a strict liability rule for dog bites. The owner of a dog who attacks another person is liable for any damages even if there is no prior evidence that the dog is aggressive and prone to biting. The injured party only needs to prove that the defendant is indeed the owner of the animal, that the attack is the direct cause the injury, and that the plaintiff was in the vicinity of the animal legitimately or trespassing but without criminal intent.

The distinction of legitimacy is included in the conditions for proving liability because there are two circumstances in which the owner of the dog may be liable under the strict liability rule, but will not be required to pay damages for personal injury of the plaintiff. The first is when the plaintiff was in the vicinity of the animal as a trespasser with the intent to commit a crime i.e. robbery. If the plaintiff was trespassing but had no criminal intent i.e. wandered inadvertently onto the dog owner’s property then the exception does not apply and the owner will still be liable for damages.

The second exception to the dog bite law is when the plaintiff acted in a negligent manner which provoked the animal to attack. For example, if the plaintiff was throwing rocks at the dog, the plaintiff is considered partly responsible for the incident, and any damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage in which the plaintiff was responsible. An exception to this exception is when the injured party is below seven years of age.

Dog bites can lead to serious injury and even death, so owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those who have a legitimate reason to be in the vicinity of the animal. Failure to honor this responsibility can render the dog’s owner liable for considerable damages.

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