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You and Your Rights

Farah & Farah newsletter: Fall 2008

In This Issue

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Store’s Negligence Causes Injury; Farah & Farah Helps Injured Woman

According to Florida law, property owners are responsible for keeping their premises safe and warning visitors of any potential hazards. For example, business owners must warn customers of a recently mopped floor.

Imagine facing one knee surgery, three back surgeries and dealing with a surgically implanted intrathecal pump. How would you be able to work? How would you pay for your own care? Those frightening thoughts were what a women who worked as a custodian for the St. Johns County School District faced when she slipped and fell at a big box store in July, 2003.

When the law firm of Farah & Farah was asked to take the case, our attorneys and investigators worked hard to find out what really happened. Originally, the store contended that the floor of the produce department was dry and that the plaintiff had a previously existing condition.

We received a court order from a federal judge to require the store to release its own accident report. Although the store manager had testified that the floor was dry, the accident report, which was authorized by the manager, stated that the floor was wet.

Upon further investigation, Farah & Farah discovered that the store had had nine accidents in this area over the preceding two year time period. Through the depositions of several other witnesses, we established that the likely cause of the wet floor was a leaking sprinkler system which watered products on the produce shelf. This system had some maintenance issues with its drainage which caused a back up with water leaking onto the floor.

As a direct result of our firm’s negotiations with the big box store, our client received a large lump sum of money which she has placed in a guaranteed structured settlement. This will provide her with monthly tax-free income for the next 20 years, the remainder of her work life expectancy. It will also provide her with peace of mind so that she is not worried about paying her bills.

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Vehicle Rollover Safety Remains a Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) proposed new rules for vehicle roofs is inadequate and will not help to reduce the more than 10,500 deaths a year from rollover crashes. Suggestions are that the rules should be rewritten to take into account roof strength along with performance of safety belts, curtain air bags, door locks and latches and windows.

Even the test they use to determine safety is flawed. Currently the NHTSA just presses a weight against the corner of the driver’s side roof while the vehicle is stationary as opposed to actually mimicking an actual rollover.

Congress demanded in 2005 that the NHTSA write new standards that would improve vehicle safety and increase roof strength.

For more information about if your vehicle is safe and what you can do if you or a loved one has been in an accident, call 904-263-4610.

  • Approximately 120,000 passenger cars and 134,000 light trucks, SUVs and vans are involved in rollover crashes each year
  • These crashes result in an estimated 10,000 fatalities
  • The current roof strength standard remains the same as it was when issued in early 1970s
  • 35% of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths occur in vehicles that roll over
  • The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety concluded in March 2008 that the risk of injury and death decreases when roof strength is increased

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U.S. Supreme Court Cases Can Affect You

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing two cases this year that can severely impact your ability to sue.

The first case was filed by a group of smokers in Maine against Philip Morris USA saying that the company for years lied to smokers through deceptive business practices. Called Altria Group v. Stephanie Good, this case revolves around the issue of federal preemption of state laws and regulations. Philip Morris is alleging that the Federal Trade Commission’s approval of their advertising preempts or overrules the state of Maine’s rules on advertising. Philip Morris has advertised that certain brands of its cigarettes are “light” or have “lowered tar and nicotine.” The lawyers for the consumers of Maine said that Maine state law prohibits companies from using deceptive business practices.

What does preemption mean? According to consumer advocates, trial lawyers and state attorneys general, federal preemption can make it more difficult to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices.

The second case relating to preemption involves a musician in Vermont who lost her arm due to an injection of the drug Phenergan to treat nausea. The Vermont courts found that the drug company, Wyeth, had failed to adequately warn doctors and patients that one injection method, the one used in this case, significantly increases the risk of irreversible gangrene. The drug company states that these types of lawsuits are not permitted because the Food & Drug Administration approved its label.

To find out more about how preemption might impact you, log on to www.farahandfarah.com.

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The Importance of Getting Access to Your Medical Records

Disputes over access to your medical records are often at the core of malpractice suits. And sometimes patients or their families believe that they are purposely withheld by hospitals.

Consider the case of Sande Pingatore who tried to find out how her 29-year-old son died in a California hospital while being treated for a drug overdose just hours after she had been told he was stable. It took her years to get a key test, her son’s blood pressure, which showed he was in danger for hours while awaiting care. By then, it was too late for Sande to sue.

There is a federal law that gives patients and families members access to medical records – the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act.

The best way to avoid a problem with medical records is for patients to routinely ask for copies of all documents. When the records appear to be incomplete, you can turn to the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services and your state medical board.

If you have a question about your medical records or the medical records of a loved one relating to concerns about your medical care, call Farah & Farah.

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Last Minute Approvals by Food & Drug Administration Can Cause Problems

Researchers at Harvard University have done a study that has shown that last minute drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration can cause problems. Of the 313 drugs approved from 1993 to 2004, 97 were approved within two months of deadline. And out of 21 withdrawals from the market and black-box warnings for drugs approved since 1993, 14 were related to approval within two months of deadline.

Examples of drugs withdrawn from the market include diabetes drug Rezulin, cholesterol-lowering Baycol, and Vioxx, a painkiller. Rezulin was shown to cause liver problems, Baycol could cause muscle damage and Vioxx sometimes caused heart attacks and strokes.

The FDA collects substantial fees from drug companies who have business before the agency. And the tight schedules for approvals have led to heavy workloads and high staff turnover among FDA employees.

If you or a loved one have experienced a health problem due to a prescription drug that has been withdrawn from the market, contact Farah & Farah to learn more about your options.

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Heavy Trucks Can Be a Road Menace

About 5,000 people are killed and more than 100,000 are injured each year in U.S. crashes involving large trucks. Although these heavy trucks only make up about 3% of all registered vehicles, they account for 9% of all fatal crashes.

Large trucks can also cause serious damage to roads and bridges. These vehicles were a contributing factor to the collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis which killed 35 people and injured 145.

Despite these problems, the trucking and shipping industries are launching a campaign to lobby Congress to allow longer and heavier trucks on the road.

One 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer can inflict as much damage to road pavement as 9,600 cars.
This is equivalent to adding the weight of five standard passenger cars.
Lobby forces are asking to raise the truck weight limit from 80,000 lbs to 97,000 lbs or more without changing axle assembly or trailer size.
Texas leads the nation in annual truck deaths.

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Office Spotlight: Joel Harris

“I liked the idea of the little guy taking on the big guy, but I wanted to make it fair,” Harris said.

From Bailing Hay to Helping The Little Guy

From bailing hay in Harrisburg, Illinois to interning with Salomon Smith Barney in New York City, Joel Harris could not have asked for a more eclectic beginning to his career. But Harris said his experiences early in his life are what made him choose a career in personal injury law.

Harris explained there are essentially three careers to choose from in Harrisburg, Illinois: coal mining, farming or banking. Growing up in a blue-collar town, Harris saw many of his neighbors getting “the short end of the stick” if they tried to stand up to big business.

When his mother became involved in her own personal injury case, Harris saw first-hand how big business worked against the average citizen who is not aware of the loopholes in the law.

“I liked the idea of the little guy taking on the big guy, but I wanted to make it fair,” Harris said.

Harris spent a year at Southeastern Illinois Junior College before he got his B.A. in finance from Auburn University. When choosing a law school, Harris knew he wanted to stay in the South. He decided to attend Florida Coastal School of Law (J.D. May 2007) because Jacksonville reminded him of his hometown—a blue-collar town where things moved a little slower.

Harris joined the law firm of Farah & Farah November 2007 and works specifically in personal injury law including motor vehicle accidents, premise liability, and wrongful death.

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If you have been injured, please contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Farah & Farah today to discuss your case.

More Information

Farah & Farah Main Office
10 West Adams St.,
Jacksonville Florida 32202
Toll Free: 855-797-9899
Local: 904-263-4610
Email: contact@farahandfarah.com

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The attorneys of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida have experience with personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, workers’ compensation, social security, injury and negligence lawsuits. Eddie Farah and our team of Jacksonville attorneys are proud to represent working people and families throughout the country.

*Disclaimer: Not all results are provided and not all clients have provided testimonials, the results are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer, and a prospective client’s individual facts and circumstances may differ from the matter in which the results and the testimonials are provided.

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