Brien Roche Law http://www.brienrochelaw.com Mon, 08 Feb 2016 23:05:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Product Liability: Electric Blanket Fires http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/electric-blanket-fires/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/electric-blanket-fires/#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2016 01:46:51 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/ Product Liability: Electric Blanket Fires from Brien Roche Law

Electric blanket fires and electric mattress pad fires are frequently the result of a product defect. These types of product liability claims require prompt investigation constituting recovery of the evidence and expert examination of the evidence if it is not in the … Continue reading

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Product Liability: Electric Blanket Fires from Brien Roche Law

Electric blanket fires and electric mattress pad fires are frequently the result of a product defect. These types of product liability claims require prompt investigation constituting recovery of the evidence and expert examination of the evidence if it is not in the hands of the local authorities.

These types of warming devices have a heating element in them which, in theory, conduct less current as the material becomes warmer.  The less current it conducts the less heat it produces.  Under this theory the heating wire is “self-limiting”, i.e. the wire should not overheat to the point of causing fire.  That theory, however, does not always comply with practice and as a result fires occur.

The major manufacturer of heating blankets is Sunbeam

There is a wealth of litigation material available in regards to Sunbeam claims wherein historically they have admitted that a fail-safe circuit is needed in its electric blankets.

With over 30 million owners of electric blankets and thousands of fires occurring per year throughout the world these products are potentially dangerous and must be treated as fire traps for the user’s own safety.

Electric Blanket Safety

While there are certain measures you can take to minimize the likelihood of injury or death as a result of a fire from an electric blanket, there certainly are many cases where a faulty or unsafe product is the cause. If you believe you have sustained injuries as a result of an unsafe electric blanket, contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

The City of Fairfax has some educational material available with recommendations on the safe operation and care of electric blankets. Some of their recommendations include:

  • Only use electric blankets that have been approved by nationally recognized testing agencies (like Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.).
  • Always buy new electric blankets; second-hand blankets may not be safe.
  • Replace all electric blankets that are more than 10 years old. Most fires caused by electric blankets are caused by those older than 10 years.
  • Replace any electric blanket that is worn or torn, where the electric cord is frayed, or where the temperature control is damaged.
  • Turn your electric blanket off when not in use. Many older models have no internal temperature control to shut the blanket off when it gets too hot; if your blanket has no such internal control, consider replacing it with a newer model.
  • Turn your electric blanket off before you go to sleep (unless the blanket is made specifically to be used all night).

Should You File A Product Liability Claim?

There are many considerations to take into account when considering to file a claim of product liability against the manufacturer of an electric blanket or heating pad.

Brien Roche is an experienced product liability attorney with over 35 years of experience serving the injured and their families. Brien Roche can provide guidance and resources for the thorough investigation into the product or electrical defect that caused the fire or injury.

Contact one of our offices to discuss your situation.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Propane Heaters Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Injury http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/propane-heaters-can-cause-carbon-monoxide-injury/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/propane-heaters-can-cause-carbon-monoxide-injury/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2015 03:49:42 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/ Propane Heaters Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Injury from Brien Roche Law

Propane heaters can cause carbon monoxide injury as reported by injury attorney Brien Roche. These heaters are intended for outdoors usage by campers but can be a source of serious carbon monoxide injury.  Many of these heaters contain no warnings … Continue reading

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Propane Heaters Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Injury from Brien Roche Law

Propane heaters can cause carbon monoxide injury as reported by injury attorney Brien Roche. These heaters are intended for outdoors usage by campers but can be a source of serious carbon monoxide injury.  Many of these heaters contain no warnings that if the heaters are used in an enclosed area they can cause injury.  The whole advertising concept that such a propane heater is an outdoor instrument is a bit of an oxymoron.  These heaters are not commonly used outdoors.  Propane heaters are commonly used inside a tent, recreational vehicle, or other enclosed space to warm the area.  Many propane heaters do have warnings stating that there is a need for adequate ventilation.  That again is inconsistent with usage in a tent, RV, or other enclosed space.

There are a number of different potential theories of liability relating to propane heaters injuries:

  • When a propane heater is used in a restricted space the heater sucks up available oxygen while at the same time producing levels of carbon monoxide.  There are ways  to design these types of heaters so that the user is audibly warned if the oxygen level is being depleted below a certain level.  In addition, there are “flame out” features that will actually cause the heater to turn off if the carbon monoxide level gets too high.
  • The failure to warn by manufacturers can be another theory of recovery.  That failure to warn may come in the failure to advise the user of the carbon monoxide hazard, its consequences and how to avoid the hazard.  The warning should be unambiguous as to the consequences from the use of such a heater in a confined space where oxygen is being depleted and carbon monoxide is being produced.  The consequence can be death.

If you or a loved one  has been injured as a result of a propane heater, contact us. Brien Roche is an experienced personal injury lawyer serving clients in Fairfax County, Virginia as well as Maryland and Washington, DC. Brien Roche has over 35 years of trial experience. He has achieved substantial compensation for clients. Let Brien consider the unique factors involved in your situation to determine the most appropriate course of action to represent your case.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Medical Record Metadata http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/medical-record-metadata/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/medical-record-metadata/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:00:09 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9472 Medical Record Metadata from Brien Roche Law

Medical record metadata can be critical in terms of evaluating when changes were made to medical records and who made them.  Metadata is that data that is recorded electronically to reflect when a document is changed and how it’s changed. … Continue reading

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Medical Record Metadata from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Medical Record Metadata

Brien Roche

Medical record metadata can be critical in terms of evaluating when changes were made to medical records and who made them.  Metadata is that data that is recorded electronically to reflect when a document is changed and how it’s changed.

Medical Record Metadata-The Big Picture

The actual medical records themselves that are visible to a viewer either in printed form or on the computer screen do not necessarily show all of that information.  In addition metadata may show what options the user is presented with before making changes to the record.  That becomes especially important to know what different diagnoses or so-called “differential diagnoses” are presented to a physician before choosing the appropriate diagnosis or diagnoses.

Medical Record Metadata-Who, When and How

All of that metadata can be important in terms of getting the complete picture as to who made changes to the record, when they were made and why they were made.

For more information on medical records and medical malpractice see the other pages on this site.For more information on metadata see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Injection Caused Injury http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/injection-caused-injury/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/injection-caused-injury/#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9473 Injection Caused Injury from Brien Roche Law

Injection caused injury is sometimes the explanation for shoulder symptoms that arise. Injection Caused Injury-Injection Too High What typically happens with an injection caused injury is that the needle containing the vaccine is injected too high in the shoulder.  It … Continue reading

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Injection Caused Injury from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Injection Caused Injury

Brien Roche

Injection caused injury is sometimes the explanation for shoulder symptoms that arise.

Injection Caused Injury-Injection Too High

What typically happens with an injection caused injury is that the needle containing the vaccine is injected too high in the shoulder.  It should be injected in the center of the deltoid muscle so that it is penetrating the most meaty part of the muscle.  If instead the needle is injected too high then it can cause the injection material getting into the bursa or sac that separates the bone at the top of the shoulder from the rotator cuff.  In addition an injection caused injury can sometimes actually result in a rotator cuff tear.

An injection caused injury can make many simple tasks very difficult.  Such tasks as lifting the arm, changing a light bulb, reaching behind you all can become very painful.  The shoulder is one of the most complex and unstable joints in the body.  That is what makes it very susceptible to wear and tear and also to injury.

Aside from sometimes producing torn rotator cuffs, these types of injections can result in the injected material getting into the bursa and resulting in a frozen shoulder because there is then a resulting excess of fluid in that bursa.

Injection Caused Injury-Compensation

Injection caused injury may be a basis for a claim under the Federal Vaccination Act which provides for compensation to persons who have been injured.  As of May of 2015 102 such claims have been reviewed and resulted in compensation totaling approximately $16 Million.

In addition sometimes what is seen with an injection caused injury is that the needle doesn’t necessarily tear the rotator cuff but it may simply stir up a preexisting inflammatory condition which can make a tear worse or can simply produce a great deal of pain.

For more information on needle injections and medical malpractice see the other pages on this site.For more information on vaccines see the pages on Wikipedia.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Auto Insurance Liability http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/auto-insurance/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/auto-insurance/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:09:21 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9329 Auto Insurance Liability from Brien Roche Law

You would think that the topic of auto insurance is a simple one.  Years ago some insurance carriers began writing auto insurance policies in what they call plain English.  Plain English to an insurance carrier is typically not plain English … Continue reading

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Auto Insurance Liability from Brien Roche Law

You would think that the topic of auto insurance is a simple one.  Years ago some insurance carriers began writing auto insurance policies in what they call plain English.  Plain English to an insurance carrier is typically not plain English to the ordinary American.  As simple as insurance companies may have tried to make auto insurance language, the fact is they are complicated documents.  They become especially complicated where you have coverage being provided apparently in one part of the policy only to be excluded or exempted in some other part of the policy.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney who will represent your interests – not the insurance company’s.

Basic forms of auto insurance coverage are liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist and medical payments.

Auto Insurance-Liability

Liability coverage protects you in the event that someone else alleges that you were at fault for an automobile accident.  By you, I mean either you as the insured or anyone who is driving your vehicle with your permission.  Under state statutes anyone who is a “permissive user” of the vehicle is covered by the liability policy.  Liability coverage is the only form of coverage in Virginia that comes close to being mandatory.  In reality however it is not mandatory because you can choose to pay an uninsured motorist fee in which event you may go without liability coverage.  The minimum coverage allowed in Virginia for liability is $25,000.00.

That $25,000.00 means that the insurance carrier will pay up to $25,000.00 in the event that you were found to be liable for the collision.  The insurance carrier will also provide an attorney to defend you.  The attorney is one that they chose- not you.

Auto Insurance-Uninsured Motorist

Uninsured motorist coverage or what can also be called underinsured motorist coverage applies in those instances where the at-fault motorist has minimum limits or low limits.  For instance if the other driver who is at fault only has $50,000.00 in coverage and you have a $200,000.00 claim, then your underinsured motorist coverage may apply in order to pick up the difference between that $50,000.00 and your $200,000.00 claim.

This latter form of coverage applies whether you are in an insured vehicle or not.  For instance if you are a pedestrian then conceivably your uninsured motorist coverage could apply.  Imagine that you are struck while crossing the street in a crosswalk.  The striking vehicle only has $25,000.00 of coverage.  Your $300,000.00 auto insurance policy may apply in that instance.  In this event the available coverage is $300,000.00 i.e., $25,000.00 from the at-fault motorist and $275,000.00 from your policy.

Issues of coverage under uninsured motorist endorsements of insurance policies can be rather complex.

Auto Insurance-Collision

Collision coverage is coverage that applies where your vehicle has been damaged.  It makes no difference who is at fault.  If you have that coverage your insurance carrier will repair your vehicle.  Typically if the repair cost is more than 70% of the value of the vehicle, then the insurance carrier will “total” the vehicle.  Under that circumstance they are only obliged to pay you the fair market value of the vehicle.  Fair market value may be determined by looking at such sites as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com.  The insurance companies use their own book upon which they base fair market value of vehicles.  This can sometimes create an unhappy circumstance.  Suppose you have a lien against the vehicle for $10,000.00 and the vehicle is only worth $8,000.00.  The insurance company is only obliged to pay you that fair market value i.e., $8,000.00.  That leaves you $2,000.00 short in terms of having to pay your lender for a vehicle you no longer have.

Auto Insurance-Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage is somewhat similar to collision in that it covers such things as fire, theft and glass breakage.  These types of coverage apply regardless of who may be at fault for the particular damages.

Auto Insurance-Medical Payments

Medical payments coverage typically comes in increments of $1,000.00, $5,000.00 and $10,000.00.  This form of coverage may stack, meaning that if you have five vehicles and your policy limits are $5,000.00 in medical payments coverage then in effect you may have a total of $25,000.00 in coverage.

This type of stacking in Virginia typically does not apply however to other forms of coverage i.e., liability coverage or uninsured motorist coverage.  However that particular issue may be policy-specific.  What that means is that you need to look at each insurance policy to determine whether or not stacking is allowed.

Medical payments coverage (frequently called Med Pay) is a very valuable form of coverage to have.  Even though your medical bills may have been submitted to your health insurance carrier and even though you are claiming your medical bills in your liability claim against the at-fault motorist, you can still submit these medical bills to your medical payments carrier and they will pay them.

Auto Insurance-Subrogation

One thing you need to be aware of in any auto collision is that if bills are submitted to your health insurance carrier then typically they have a right of subrogation.  The right of subrogation means that the health insurance carrier has a right to recover every dollar that they paid out on your behalf.  Some health insurance policies allow a reduction of this right of recovery for the attorney’s fees that you would incur.  Typically in an injury case your attorney’s fees would be 1/3 of the recovery.  In that circumstance they may reduce their subrogation claim by 1/3.  That however again is policy-specific.  That right of subrogation applies however only to employer-issued ERISA health insurance policies.  Otherwise subrogation is barred in Virginia for health insurance policies.

About Brien Roche

Brien Roche represents clients in all types of vehicle accident matters or accidents involving pedestrians. Mr. Roche has secured compensation for damages to clients involved in pedestrian accidents and accidents involving trucks, cars and other vehicles. With 35 years of trial experience, Brien Roche has garnered significant compensation for our clients. For a free consultation with an auto accident lawyer, complete the contact form on this page, or contact one of our offices directly.

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Thyroid Cancer http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/thyroid-cancer/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/thyroid-cancer/#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:47:17 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9457 Thyroid Cancer from Brien Roche Law

Thyroid cancer is sometimes referred to as the “good” cancer. It’s thought of as being the good cancer because the survival rate is 97.9% after 5 years from the date of diagnosis. Thyroid Cancer-Symptoms About 63,000 new cases of thyroid … Continue reading

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Thyroid Cancer from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Thyroid Cancer

Brien Roche

Thyroid cancer is sometimes referred to as the “good” cancer. It’s thought of as being the good cancer because the survival rate is 97.9% after 5 years from the date of diagnosis.

Thyroid Cancer-Symptoms

About 63,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Although some people have no symptoms associated with this illness other than an enlarged thyroid gland, others have pain in the front of the neck, trouble swallowing, persistent hoarseness or other voice changes or constant coughing.

Thyroid Cancer-Treatment

The first line of treatment for thyroid cancer is surgical removal of the thyroid. This is referred to as a thyroidectomy.

The thyroid is the organ within the body that controls many important functions including but not limited to blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and metabolism.  When the thyroid is removed, patients then must take hormones in order to regulate these various functions.

Frequently the problem with the hormone replacements is regulating the right amount.  Too much or too little can produce significant side effects including but not limited to significant fatigue, chest pain, increased heart rate, sweating, anxiety, headaches and others.

One of the more common symptoms of the improper medication flow is extreme fatigue.

Sometimes after the thyroid has been surgically removed there may still be some tissue left behind that is cancerous.  If so, then the patient needs to undergo radioactive treatment through what is called “radioactive iodine”.  This iodine is administered either in liquid or pill form.  After taking the medication the patient must be isolated for up to a week because the body at that point is letting off low levels of radiation.  As such the patient has to avoid close contact with other people, pets, must sleep alone and must essentially lead a solitary life for at least one week.

In addition these radioactive pills or liquids that are taken increase the risk of secondary cancer.  That is, the other organs of the body including the kidney, bladder and pelvic organs which are now being exposed to radiation may become cancerous.

Although thyroid cancer is referred to as the “good” cancer, it is probably more appropriate to think of it as the “not so bad” cancer because even as good as it may be, it’s still pretty bad.

For more information about injury related matters or tort issues contact Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche and also see the related pages on cancer of the thyroid in Wikipedia.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Expert Witnesses DC http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/expert-witnesses/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/expert-witnesses/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 18:00:07 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9424 Expert Witnesses DC from Brien Roche Law

Expert witnesses in Washington DC are governed by the Frye case. Frye holds that expert testimony may be admitted if the scientific principles are sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the field in which they belong. The US … Continue reading

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Expert Witnesses DC from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Expert Witnesses

Brien Roche

Expert witnesses in Washington DC are governed by the Frye case. Frye holds that expert testimony may be admitted if the scientific principles are sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the field in which they belong. The US Supreme Court rejected that standard for expert testimony 20 years ago.

Expert Witnesses-Federal

In federal courts the general standard is that the state of the pertinent art or scientific knowledge permits a reasonable opinion to be asserted i.e. there must be scientific reliability. The federal court must assess whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid. Scientific validity is a function of whether the theory or technique has been tested, whether it has been subjected to peer review, what the error rate is and whether the theory or technique finds general acceptance in the relevant community.

Expert Witnesses-DC

The Daubert case sets forth the federal principles. The Frye case is expected to be reviewed by the DC Court of Appeals. The most likely outcome is the adoption of the Daubert standard.

For more information about expert testimony see the other pages on the site and also see the pages on Wikipedia dealing with experts.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Pedestrian Collisions http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/pedestrian-collisions/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/pedestrian-collisions/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9421 Pedestrian Collisions from Brien Roche Law

Pedestrian collisions most often have an unfavorable outcome for the pedestrian. The number of pedestrians killed on US roadways has increased dramatically over the last five years. A total of 4735 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2013. … Continue reading

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Pedestrian Collisions from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche addresses pedestrian collisions

Brien Roche

Pedestrian collisions most often have an unfavorable outcome for the pedestrian. The number of pedestrians killed on US roadways has increased dramatically over the last five years. A total of 4735 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2013. The numbers for 2014 are almost equivalent.

Pedestrian Collisions-Walking Can Be Safe

Walking has been heavily promoted in recent years as a way to reduce health risks, obesity and greenhouse gases. Four of the heavily populated states accounted for 43% of pedestrian deaths. Delaware and Florida have the highest per capita pedestrian death rate.

Pedestrian Collisions-Six Factors

The six factors that appear to be most related to pedestrian deaths are:

    Age. Pedestrians 70 or older have the highest per capita crash rate of any age group. This is a very vulnerable group that must be protected much the same as we protect children.
    Gender. About 70% of pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes are males.
    Time of day. Most deaths are in the evening after 6 PM.
    Alcohol. More than a third of pedestrians in the year 2013 who were 16 or older involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.
    Distractions. A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance indicated that 60% of pedestrians were doing other activities while walking such as texting or talking on a cell phone.
    Driver speed. Driver speed increases the potential for death. With that in mind many jurisdictions have decreased the speed limit in congested areas.

Some safety measures begun by localities are such things as pedestrian safety islands, longer pedestrian signal timing and more visible crosswalks. Increased education on pedestrian safety is also critical. Pedestrian rights and pedestrian safety must be emphasized with young drivers and inexperienced drivers. Without this, pedestrian collisions will simply continue to rise.

For more information on pedestrian accidents see the other pages on the site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Federal Tort Claims Cases http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/federal-tort-claims-cases/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/federal-tort-claims-cases/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 18:00:27 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9419 Federal Tort Claims Cases from Brien Roche Law

Federal tort claims cases are based on a limited waiver of immunity by the federal government. The waiver applies to negligence actions brought against a US employee acting in the scope of employment. The individual employees are not liable. The … Continue reading

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Federal Tort Claims Cases from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Federal Tort Claims Cases

Brien Roche

Federal tort claims cases are based on a limited waiver of immunity by the federal government. The waiver applies to negligence actions brought against a US employee acting in the scope of employment. The individual employees are not liable. The only proper defendant is the United States. Two potential hurdles with federal tort claims cases are identifying the correct defendant and bringing the action in a timely fashion. Active-duty military doctors and uniformed letter carriers driving US postal trucks are federal employees. The doctor in civilian clothes at a VA hospital however may not be a federal employee. The doctor may be a contractor. Contractors are not federal employees and the United States is not liable for their negligence. Personal services contracts may bring persons within the scope of employment of the federal government if it is clear that the employer/employee relationship is being created. Only a minority of contractors fit into this personal services category.

Federal Tort Claims Cases: Contractor or Employee

in investigating your case it is important to gather all of the relevant contract documents. Even if the documents say the person is a contractor the practice may be different. The critical question is control. That is, to what extent does the federal government control the outcome and the performance of that person. Relevant considerations are the parties intent, control over the manner and method of performance, whose tools are being used, who provides liability insurance, who pays social security taxes, whether federal regulations prevent employees from performing these tasks and whether the person has the authority to subcontract.

In the case of medical doctors they frequently are contractors because ethically the government cannot control their performance. That is the doctor must exercise independent judgment. In regards to medical claims it is important to also be sensitive to the possibility of a federal employee working within a local or state complex. This is seen most often in regards to medical facilities. Certain federally funded clinics operating as local or state facilities have within their ranks contractors who may be deemed to be federal employees for purposes of federal tort claims cases.

Federal Tort Claims Cases-Statutes of Repose

Another significant hurdle in federal tort claims cases is any applicable statute of repose. Statutes of repose impose an absolute deadline for the filing of certain claims. In Virginia they typically only apply to construction claims. In other states that may apply to medical malpractice actions and negligence actions in general. These statutes of repose may not factor in periods of time allowed under the federal statute for filing an administrative claim.

For more information on federal tort claims cases see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

for more personal injury news and views visit, Brien Roche Law

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Chronic Pain Treatment http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/chronic-pain-treatment/ http://www.brienrochelaw.com/blog/chronic-pain-treatment/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 18:00:14 +0000 http://www.brienrochelaw.com/?p=9415 Chronic Pain Treatment from Brien Roche Law

Chronic pain treatment can be complicated. Chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke combined. There are more than 100 million sufferers in the United States. It cost the nation as much as $635 billion per … Continue reading

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Chronic Pain Treatment from Brien Roche Law

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Chronic Pain Treatment

Brien Roche

Chronic pain treatment can be complicated. Chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke combined. There are more than 100 million sufferers in the United States. It cost the nation as much as $635 billion per year in medical treatment and lost productivity. Chronic pain sufferers often are misdiagnosed, misunderstood and miserable.

Chronic Pain Treatment: The Right Blend

The good news is that chronic pain treatment can work. It requires the right blend of approaches. The traditional model of medication and rest is not sufficient. Drugs frequently rather than relieving the pain actually make it worse. What is required is the right blend of physical therapy, weaning off addictive medications and counseling.

It is not unusual for people to feel acute pain after an injury or illness. If the pain last more than 12 weeks it is considered chronic pain. With the prolonged use of pain medication the nervous system becomes distorted. Pain receptors get amplified and internal pain blockers are minimized. This can make the lightest touch seemed painful. Chronic pain is frequently associated with depression which can then lead to fatigue, anxiety and changes in mood, appetite and sleep. Patients with depression can experience increased pain because of the overlap between pain reception and mood regulation. Both depression and chronic pain share some of the same neurotransmitters and nerve pathways. As a result the pain gets worse, the function is poor and the response to pain is reduced. The key is to get the depression under control. Antidepressant medication can provide some relief and can be an important part of chronic pain treatment.

Chronic Pain Treatment: The Right Medicines

The extended use of strong addictive medications such as opioids or Percocet and Valium actually make the pain worse. These medications block the transmission of pain from the site to the brain. Over time the nerves send stronger pain signals. It’s like the nerves turning up the volume in order to get the attention of the brain. Higher doses of medication are therefore required to block the louder signals. The pain receptors and processors get so distorted that eventually most stimuli are perceived as pain and these medications are no longer working. What is needed is a holistic approach which includes getting off the ineffective medications, applying useful pharmaceuticals, incorporating physical therapy and beginning careful exercise to teach the damaged nerves the difference between normal and harmful sensations. The patient must be committed to engaging in helpful actions such as problem-solving, avoiding isolation, improving communication, embracing physical therapy and working with a counselor to reframe the illness. Support groups can be a big help in this regard.

For more information on medical issues see the other pages on the site and also see the pages on Wikipedia

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