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Apr
07
2014
Is it really low testosterone or simply normal aging? Find out for sure before you take Low T drugs.

Is it really low testosterone or simply normal aging? Find out for sure before you take Low T drugs.

A pharmaceutical company’s job is to sell its medications – bottom line. And some statistics suggest that manufacturers of drugs used to treat low testosterone levels in patients may be using trumped up symptoms to convince patients they need those products.

Statistics show that the number of testosterone prescriptions given to men has tripled nationwide since 2001, yet clinical cases of Low T remain relatively rare. Also called “male menopause,” Low T affects just two percent of men over age 40, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Figures from similar studies show that five percent of men of all ages, and 20 percent of men age 70 and older, suffer from Low T.

But the primary symptoms of Low T also just happen to be common effects of simply aging. These include decreased sex drive, fatigue, muscle loss and feelings of depression. It’s suspected that less scrupulous pharmaceutical companies and sales reps may be pushing these simple signs of aging as red-flag indicators of Low T. That suspicion is particularly troublesome considering that side effects of Low T drugs can include stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and even death.

If you believe that you’ve suffered side effects of a Low T medication that was needlessly prescribed, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical and related financial losses. Contact an experienced personal injury or dangerous drugs attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Apr
02
2014
GM CEO Mary Barra testified on Capitol Hill that she doesn't know why her company waited a decade to publicly acknowledge a deadly ignition switch problem. Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for General Motors.

GM CEO Mary Barra testified on Capitol Hill that she doesn’t know why her company waited a decade to publicly acknowledge a deadly ignition switch problem. Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for General Motors.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was in the Capitol Hill hot seat today, testifying to Congress about a decade-long issue with GM vehicle ignition switches that to date is to blame for more than a dozen deaths. It’s the latest development in a controversy involving the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles and an ongoing risk to any one driving or riding in certain GM vehicles, auto accident and product liability attorneys say.

News of the issue first hit in February with the recall of 780,000 GM vehicles after reports of 22 crashes and six deaths. In each of those incidents, the ignition switch shifted out of place, causing the engine to stall and all electrical components, including the mechanism that deploys air bags, to immediately shut down. GM initially laid part of the blame on heavy key rings and bumpy roads. Weeks later, however, the death toll rose to 13. The company expanded the recall to include additional models, and admitted that it had known about the problem for more than a decade. What’s worse – GM officials now acknowledge that the ignition switch falls short of the company’s own specifications, and that fixing the problem before these vehicles rolled off the assembly line would have cost just 57 cents each.

As it currently stands, the recall affects more than 2.6 million GM vehicles and the issue has prompted two congressional investigations and probes by the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On Tuesday, Barra testified before Congress, maintaining that she does not know why it took GM, which she has helmed for just two months, to publicly acknowledge the problem, but assured that an internal investigation would provide answers in time.

Meanwhile, the company last week announced two additional, unrelated recalls. One affects 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs with transmission oil lines improperly secured in their fittings. The issue allows transmission oil to leak, potentially causing fires if the oil hits hot surfaces. The second affects 172,000 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruz cars with defective right front axle shafts that can fracture and separate during operation. Wheels then could lose power without warning, causing the car to coast to an unexpected stop.

If you own or drive a GM vehicle, check with your nearest dealer to find out if yours is affected by the recall. If there have been no injuries to you or your dependents related to any of the recall-involved issues, take your vehicle to your dealership where workers will repair issues free of charge and, in some cases, may provide you with a loaner car. However, if you or someone you love has suffered an injury that you believe was caused by one of these defects, get medical treatment, stop driving the vehicle and contact an experienced auto accident or product liability attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida and Southern Georgia, can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Mar
31
2014
The 2014 Nissan Altima is included in recall of more than 1 million vehicles prompted by an ongoing airbag issue.

The 2014 Nissan Altima is included in recall of more than 1 million vehicles prompted by an ongoing airbag issue.

A problem with airbag sensors in certain Nissan and Infinity models first addressed over a year ago still is not resolved – and it’s prompted a recall of more than 1 million vehicles across North America and Canada. In affected units, the front passenger air bags may fail to inflate in an accident, leaving adult passengers at risk for serious injury.

The problem lies in faulty software. Front passenger seats of the recalled vehicles have sensors designed to determine the passenger’s weight, then turn airbags off if the sensors indicate that a child is on board. That’s because children’s still-developing bones are far more fragile than those of adults, which means they’re more vulnerable to injury from a deployed airbag. Keep in mind that airbags are not soft, billowy pillow-like buffers. Rather, they deploy from a vehicle’s dashboard at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and the impact against a body or face can be severe enough to cause fatal injuries.

In at least three incidents reported to Nissan officials, the sensors malfunctioned, turning off front-seat passenger airbags despite those passengers being adults of sufficient weight to keep the airbags turned on. Though no deaths were reported and it’s unclear whether those passengers were injured, the risk is clear. Airbags are credited with saving the lives of thousands of adults involved in car crashes nationwide each year.

Vehicles affected in the latest recall – nearly 990,000 in the United States and another 60,000 in Canada – include:

  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Altima;
  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Leaf electric car;
  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SUV
  • 2014 and 2014 Nissan Sentra;
  • 2013 NV200 Taxi Van
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35 SUV
  • 2014 Infiniti QX60 SUV
  • 2014 Infiniti Q50 SUV

If you drive one of these vehicles and had yours repaired after the February 2013 recall, you may need to get a second repair. Dealers replaced seat sensors in those vehicles, but Nissan officials said the company continued to receive customer complaints and warranty claims in vehicles that had been repaired. Nissan and Infiniti will notify registered owners of affected units and will update the software free of charge.

If you or your dependents are injured as a result of a failed airbag, whether in one of these recalled vehicles or a different one, get medical treatment and contact an experienced auto accident or product liability attorney. Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout North and Central Florida and Southeast Georgia, can help assure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

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Mar
20
2014

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Mar
18
2014
Pfizer has recalled several lots of its Effexor antidepressant medication over a drug mixup.

Pfizer has recalled several lots of its Effexor antidepressant medication over a drug mixup.

If you have been prescribed the Pfizer-manufactured antidepressant drug Effexor XR (also known as venlafaxine HC1), take note. The New York-based multinational corporation that happens to be one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies by revenues has issued a recall of several lots of the drug because it may contain capsules of a fully different drug.

Capsules of the antiarrhythmic drug Tikosyn may be mixed in with lots of Pfizer's Effexor  antidepressants.

Capsules of the antiarrhythmic drug Tikosyn may be mixed in with lots of Pfizer’s Effexor antidepressants.

Thanks to a sharp-eyed pharmacist, the company recently discovered that two lots of Effexor XR and one lot of a generic venlafaxine HCI brand called Greenstone may contain capsules of Tikosyn (diofetilide), an antiarrhythmic drug used to treat heart rhythm disorders like atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter. Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration warn that unknowingly taking Tikosyn could have serious and potentially fatal consequences. Of particular concern are patients who may also have allergies, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, mental illness or an electrolyte imbalance, such as low levels of magnesium or potassium in the blood. Tikosyn is available only from hospitals or specialty pharmacies, and patents initially prescribed the medication typically are kept in a hospital setting for at least three days so that physicians can monitor heart rhythm and kidney function.

The recall covers:

  • One lot of 30-count Effexor XR 150-milligram extended-release capsules;
  • One lot of 90-count Effexor XR 150-milligram extended-release capsules;
  • And one lot of 90-count Greenstone venlafaxine HC1 150-milligram extended-release capsules.

If you are taking one of these medications, look for the Pfizer drug lot numbers V130140 and V130142 with an expiration date of October 2015; or the Greenstone lot number V130014 with an August 2015 expiration date. If you have a filled prescription with these lot numbers, return the remainder of the medication in the packaging to your pharmacy and contact your doctor. If you believe you may have taken unprescribed Tikosyn, go to a hospital or see your physician immediately, particularly if you feel faint, become dizzy or have a fast heartbeat. Then, contact an experienced dangerous drug attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell serves clients throughout Northeast Florida, Central Florida and Southeast Georgia and can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Mar
10
2014
Celebrating spring break soon? Stay safe by designating a non-drinking driver and traveling in groups, personal injury attorneys urge.

Celebrating spring break soon? Stay safe by designating a non-drinking driver and traveling in groups, personal injury attorneys urge.

March means the spring break season is officially under way. While it’s designed as a season of fun and freedom for students across America, it’s also a season of danger, unfortunately. The rates of auto accidents, crime and personal injury incidents spike in popular spring break destinations each year – and several Florida cities top a dubious list.

An oft-referenced study of the most dangerous spring break destinations found that among the top 10 riskiest places to visit were six Florida cities. Orlando and Daytona Beach took the top two spots, with West Palm Beach, Panama City, Jacksonville and Miami following. Whether you’re a spring breaker yourself, or a local resident, Harrell and Harrell offers a few tips:

  • Mind the roadways: Drunk driving accidents are a given during spring break. Opt for non-alcoholic drinks, designate a non-drinking driver or take a taxi if you’ll be partying. Even if you don’t drink a drop, keep in mind that many others sharing the roadways with you won’t be so wise. Keep your travel to a minimum and watch closely for signs of erratic driving in the cars near you.
  • Be wary of others’ actions: Crime spikes during destinations because criminals know that intoxicated revelers are easy marks, particularly for theft and sexual assault. Again, our top recommendation is to remain sober. Also, never walk alone, particularly in an unfamiliar area. Travel in groups, avoid dimly lit parking lots and walkways, and be wary of strangers.
  • Choose your hotel and hot spots wisely: For many hotels, nightclubs and other popular spots spring break means premises liability lawsuits. If, for instance, a bar you visit fails to properly manage an unruly crowd and you suffer an injury as a result, the bar could be held liable for your damages. Avoid overcrowded party spots; hotels with inadequate lighting or security; restaurants with dark parking lots or unkempt facilities, etc.

We hope your spring break will be a safe and fun experience. But if yours turns dangerous and you find yourself injured by someone else’s negligent or deliberate act, get medical attention immediately. Then, contact an experienced auto accident, personal injury or premises liability attorney. Call 800-251-1111 to schedule an appointment with Harrell and Harrell, serving Northeast and Central Florida, as well as Southeast Georgia.

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Mar
04
2014
The 2007 Saturn Sky is among the cars affected in GM's expanded recall over a decade-long problem with faulty ignitions.

The 2007 Saturn Sky is among the cars affected in GM’s expanded recall over a decade-long problem with faulty ignitions.

Two weeks ago, we told you about a massive recall of 780,000 GM cars prompted by an ignition defect that already had been blamed for 22 car crashes and six deaths. Now, another nine accidents and seven deaths reportedly have resulted from the problem, forcing an expansion of the recall to include more than 1,367,140 cars in North America. Even more troubling, auto accident and product liability attorneys say, is the automaker’s admission that it has known about the problem for more than a decade.

Faulty ignition switches installed in various GM models made between 2003 and 2007 can cause a car’s engine to shut off unexpectedly and disable the airbags. Heavy key rings and driving on rough roads or terrain can trigger the problem by moving the ignition switch out of position, causing all electrical components, including the mechanism responsible for deploying air bags, to immediately shut down.

The recall originally affected Cobalt and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 to 2007 model years sold in the US, Canada and Mexico. Now, company officials also are recalling Saturn Ions made between 2003 and 2007; and Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky cars made in the 2006 and 2007 model years.

“The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, said in a written statement addressing the company’s waiting over a decade to publicly acknowledge the problem. “Today’s GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward.”

GM says it will notify registered owners of recalled vehicles by mail and expedite repairs. If you belie that your vehicle is affected by the recall and you have not been involved in an accident cause by the faulty ignition, take your car to a licensed GM dealership where the company will replace the ignition switch free of charge. However, if you have suffered an injury while driving or riding in one of the recalled cars, get medical attention immediately. Then, call 800-251-1111 and speak to an auto accident or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.

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Feb
27
2014
Denied for Social Security Disability benefits? Harrell and Harrell can help.

Denied for Social Security Disability benefits? Harrell and Harrell can help.

When you suffer a disability that robs you of your ability to make a living and support your family, Social Security Insurance benefits can be a much needed financial safety net. But a newly released report shows that in 2011, more than 630,000 Americans’ medical claims for SSDI benefits were denied. Unfortunately, it’s not a surprising statistic, say social security disability lawyers with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.

The Social Security Administration has stringent requirements for granting disability benefits. To be eligible, you must be insured, be younger than full retirement age, have correctly filed an application for benefits and have a Social Security-defined disability. You must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify and have what doctors and SSDI officials consider a total disability – not a partial or short-term disability.

The 2012 Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Program identifies the top three reasons for SSDI benefit claim denials:

  • 32.4 percent were denied because the claimant was found able to perform a new type of work;
  • 24.5 percent were denied because the claimant’s impairment was found not to be severe enough;
  • 22.7 percent were denied because the claimant still was able to perform their past work duties.

As with most government-run programs, the SSDI application process can be notoriously complicated, requiring copious amounts of medical and work records and involving complex rules. Meanwhile, your creditors won’t wait and your family suffers. To help minimized the time that you go without financial compensation and benefits, contact an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney to help you better navigate the application process. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell serves the region from Southeast Georgia to Central Florida and can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Feb
14
2014
The 2007 Pontiac G5 is among the 780,000 cars recalled by GM over an ignition defect blamed for six deaths.

The 2007 Pontiac G5 is among the 780,000 cars recalled by GM over an ignition defect blamed for six deaths.

General Motors this week announced the recall of nearly 780,000 vehicles due to an ignition defect blamed for six deaths. Auto accident and product liability attorneys are urging drivers of Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s to take heed.

Company officials warn that faulty ignition switches installed in Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 to 2007 model years a sold in the US, Canada and Mexico can cause the engine to shut off unexpectedly and disable the airbags. The problem thus far has caused 22 crashes, all while the cars were traveling off-road at high speeds. Six people (all drivers or front-seat passengers) have been killed as a result, and the potential for more deaths exists so long as affected vehicles continue to travel the roadways.

If you drive one of the cars, know that US safety regulators warn that heavy key rings and rough roads or terrain can trigger the problem by moving the ignition switch out of the run position. As a result, the engine and all electrical components, including the mechanism responsible for deploying air bags, immediately shut down.

In a media statement, GM noted that each of the five fatal crashes “occurred off road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment. In addition, failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were factors in some of these cases.”

If you own one of the recalled vehicles and have not been injured, take your car to a licensed GM dealership where the company will replace the ignition switch free of charge. However, if you have suffered an injury, either as a driver or passenger, in an incident that you believe the defect caused, get medical attention immediately. Then, contact an auto accident or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. Call 800-251-1111.

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Feb
11
2014
Ikea's popular Kritter and Sniglar junior beds have been recalled over a laceration hazard.

Ikea’s popular Kritter and Sniglar junior beds have been recalled over a laceration hazard.

Ikea again is issuing a voluntary recall of two popular junior beds after receiving an additional report of a child in the United Kingdom receiving a small scratch to the arm. The company’s Kritter and Sniglar Junior Beds feature a metal rod connecting the guard rail to the bed frame. Unfortunately, that rod can break during use, posing a laceration hazard to children.

The recall of 22,000 units initially was issued in August 2013 and was expanded to include another 3,500 upon news of the latest injury. The pine wood Kritter beds feature animal cut-outs, including a dog and cat, on the headboard. Look for a date stamp of 1114 to 1322 indicating the year and week of production; a 600.904.70 model number; and 19740 supplier number on the underside of the bed.

The Sniglar natural beech wood beds have a white painted fiberboard insert on the headboard and footboard. A label on the headboard or underside of the bed has a date stamp of 1114 to 1318, a 500.871.66 model number, and 18157 or 19740 supplier number. This recall expands the date code for Sniglar beds to 1049 to 1318.

Affected units were sold exclusively at Ikea stores nationwide and online at www.ikea-usa.com from July 2005 through May 2013 for between $60 and $90. If your child is using one of these beds and has not been injured, contact Ikea at 888-966-4532 and ask for a free repair kit which includes a replacement metal rod, tools and instruction sheet.

However, if your child has been injured, seek medical attention – even if the injury is minor. Keep the bed and all parts intact and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. We serve clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida, as well as Southeast Georgia.

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