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May
22
2015
Worker falls from ladder

Inadequate fall protection at construction sites tops the most common OSHA violations.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released its annual list of the most frequent regulation violations, along with the number of incidents and accidents that these violations caused. For the fourth consecutive year, construction falls top the list.

The top violations reported during fiscal year 2014 are:

  1. Fall Protection in Construction – 7,516 total violations
  2. Hazard Communication – 6,148 total violations
  3. Scaffolding in Construction – 4,968 total violations
  4. Respiratory Protection – 3,843 total violations
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks – 3,147 total violations
  6. Lockout/Tagout – 3,117 total violations
  7. Ladders in Construction – 2,968 total violations
  8. Electrical – Wiring Methods – 2,907 total violations
  9. Machine Guarding – 2,520 total violations
  10. Electrical – General Requirements – 2,427 total violations

OSHA violations typically fall into two primary categories based on severity and cause. A “serious” violation is defined by OSHA as “one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.” A “willful” violation is defined by OSHA as one “committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.”

Depending upon the cause, severity and type of violation, you may be entitled to a substantial compensation award if you suffer an injury caused or exacerbated by an OSHA violation at your workplace. Report the incident immediately, get medical treatment and contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer with Jacksonville’ Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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May
15
2015
Costs associated with car crashes can really add up, even in the case of a minor fender bender.

Costs associated with car crashes can really add up, even in the case of a minor fender bender.

More than 10 million auto accidents occur on America’s roadways each year, ranging from minor fender benders to major collisions that cause devastating and life-altering injuries. That 10 million figure reflects some 27,000 accidents daily and the related costs hit upward of $871 billion in property damage, medical bills, legal fees, lost productivity and other costs annually, according to results of a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Insurance industry statistics show that the average driver files a collision claim about once every 18 years. So, if you began driving at age 16 and hang it up at age 80, you likely will have been involved in a three to four separate accidents. Each one of these brings a range of potential financial costs – even in the case of minor fender benders.

Here are a few of the top costs you may be forced to pony up in the case of an auto accident:

  1. An increase in your insurance premium: Depending upon the severity of the accident and which party is at fault, you may face paying an average of 41 percent more for auto insurance after making just one claim, according to an InsuranceQuotes.com survey.
  2. Automotive repairs: Without comprehensive or collision coverage, you may be on the hook for needed repairs to your vehicle, even if the other driver is at-fault. Plus, no matter what type of coverage you have, you’ll likely have to pay a deductible.
  3. Car rental: Your car is in the shop for repairs that may take days or even weeks, but you’ve still got to get to work, school and other obligations. If another driver was at fault, his or her insurance may cover car rental reimbursement up to a particular amount. Depending upon your policy terms, your insurance provider may then pick up the remainder of the tab but again, there may be caps.
  4. Emergency room and medical costs: Florida is a no-fault state, so your own PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage should cover the bulk your emergency room and medical expenses. However, there are limits. PIP covers 80 percent of ER and medical expenses up to $10,000, as well as 60 percent of lost wages. You’re personally responsible for the differences.
  5. Payoff of your auto loan: If your vehicle is totaled, your insurer will pay out its actual cash value, which may be far lower than what you still owe on it. And believe us – your lender will have no sympathy for the fact that your car is gone. You’ll still be responsible for paying the balance of your insurance payout and the total due.

To ensure you get the fair compensation for all related costs after an auto accident, lawyers with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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May
14
2015
Fifteen girls from fifteen different schools have come together to form the Ponte Vedra Storm and have made it to the Round of 16 in the recent state cup.


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May
08
2015
May is Military Appreciation Month.

May is Military Appreciation Month.

 

There is no more honorable deed than to serve and defend one’s country and its citizens. America’s military servicemen and service women, veterans and those we’ve lost deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. That’s why May is Military Appreciation Month, culminating with the May 25 Memorial Day observance.

Unfortunately, many returning soldiers face difficult futures enduring ongoing physical, emotional and psychological battles. Consider these statistics on military and combat-related injuries:

  • Some 30 percent of all combat veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • The number of diagnosed cases of PTSD in the military jumped 50 percent between 2009 and 2010.
  • In a recent study, 44 percent of the members of an infantry brigade reported experiencing chronic pain for three months or longer after returning to the US after serving tours of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq. That figure is nearly double the rate among civilians suffering chronic pain.
  • In the same study, nearly half (48 percent) of the soldiers reporting chronic pain said their pain had lasted a year or longer and 55 percent said they suffered daily or constant pain.
  • Soldiers are nearly four times more likely than civilians to treat their chronic pain with prescription narcotics that can lead to addictions.
  • Between 10 percent and 20 percent of all Iraq war veterans suffer at least a mild level of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Those percentages represent some 150,000 to 400,000 veterans. For those who also sustained injuries to other parts of the body, the TBI rate rises to 33 percent.

Perhaps the most frustrating and heartbreaking factor in these statistics is that many of them go untreated and scores more may never be diagnosed in the first place. TBI can be difficult to diagnose because most are closed-head injuries that can’t be seen without X-ray or other diagnostic imaging. Plus, symptoms of TBI and PTSD are similar, which means the two often are misdiagnosed as the other. Plus, rampant peer pressure to “tough it out” can influence many military members and veterans to opt out of seeking needed medical or psychological help.

With multiple military bases in the region, Jacksonville has a high population of current and retired service members. If you are among them and believe that you may be suffering one of these or other service-related injuries, don’t simply tough it out. Get the help you need, and if necessary, enlist the help of a dedicated veteran’s disability benefits attorney to help assure you and your family get the benefits you so richly deserve. Reach Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 to schedule a consultation.

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May
01
2015
The 2014 Ford Focus is one of multiple Ford models affected by multiple recalls over various safety issues.

The 2014 Ford Focus is one of multiple Ford models affected by multiple recalls over various safety issues.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Ford Motor Co. Safety issues have forced multiple recalls covering a grand total of more than 943,000 vehicles.

The first affects some 390,000 Ford Fiesta and Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models sold throughout North America. These vehicles may have a door latch malfunction that can cause the door to become unlatched or even swing open while a vehicle is in motion. Thus far, Ford has received reports of two incidents involving latch malfunctions, one that involved a door bouncing back and striking the driver, and another in which a door swung open and struck another vehicle. While no major injuries have been reported in connection with the malfunction, it’s critical that car owners are aware of the risk of serious harm.

Just days after the announcement of the door latch issue, Ford recalled another 487,301 Fusions and Lincoln MKZs from model years 2013-2015 and 2015 Edge vehicles. Bolts on the steering gear motors installed in these vehicles can rust out, crack and disable the power assist. Vehicles most at risk are those driven primarily in the northern “salt bet” states, where large quantities of salt are applied to roads during the winter season to control show and ice and lower the risk of automobile accidents. However, here in Northeast Florida, vehicles frequently driven or parked long-term on near the beaches also are at risk because of the salty sea water and air.

Another recall affects 2014 Focus, Edge, Escape, Transit Connect models and 2014-2015 Fiesta models. Fuel pumps with nickel plating can loosen and plug the impeller (the rotor that spins and drives the fuel into the line), potentially blocking the flow of gasoline. These cars may not start or, far worse, may stall while driving, increasing the risk of a collision. The issue is known to have caused at least one crash and may also affect several Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen/Audi models, as well.

Though smaller in reach, the fourth recall is a critical one, too. It covers 73 2015 F-150 trucks manufactured over a two-day span at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant. Workers neglected to install heat shields or fasteners, which poses a fire risk when trucks are idling over grass or other easily ignitable surfaces.

Finally, owners of 2015 MKZ sedans are urged to request a software update that will lower the brightness of headlamps. The lamps are too bright under federal regulations in 21,435 cars.

If you believe your vehicle may be affected by the recall and no injuries have occurred as a result of the defects, take your vehicle to your nearest Ford dealer for free-of-charge fixes. However, if you or your family have suffered an injury that you believe may have been caused by one of these issues, get medical treatment and contact an experienced product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Apr
29
2015

Navy Veteran Takes the Mound and the TOTW after 17 Years of Service

Just a week shy of his 35th birthday a 17 year Navy veteran Brian Holcomb took the mound for the JU Dolphins baseball team. Starting for a college baseball team was a dream since high school, delayed by multiple deployments, an injury and a late clearance by the NCAA.


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Apr
24
2015
blue-bell-ice-cream-2

Blue Bell Ice Cream has recalled its entire product line over a Listeria risk.

On the heels of a 30,000-case recall of multiple Sabra hummus products over a possible Listeria contamination, another highly popular snack product line is off the shelves entirely. Brenham, TX-based Blue Bell Creameries this week voluntarily recalled all products made at all of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks

The move comes after an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell revealed that its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17 and March 27, made at different plants and sold in different places, contained the bacteria. Thus far, three people in Kansas have died in the past year and 10 people in four states (Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas) have fallen ill after eating Blue Bell products.

The Listeria bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Plus, a Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the issue may go back as far as 2010.
The agency connected patients from 2010-2015 to the current outbreak through comparisons to a database of bacteria DNA.

Though the origin of the strain remains unknown, “the fact that it was the same strain over the last five years suggests it could have lurked somewhere in the factory the whole time,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.

If you have any Blue Bell products in your home and have not been sickened, return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. However, if you or your dependents have suffered symptoms of a Listeria infection that you believe may have been caused by a recalled snack, contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Apr
22
2015

Gator Gymnastics Team totw

The Gators women’s gymnastics team is celebrating after winning its third straight NCAA championship. The win comes in one of the tightest contests ever at 5/100ths of a point.


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Apr
20
2015
Zofran, a popular medication prescribed for nausea and vomiting, has been linked to birth defects.

Zofran, a popular medication prescribed for nausea and vomiting, has been linked to birth defects.

Developed and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to help ease nausea in patients undergoing cancer treatment or surgery, GlaxoSmithKline-made Ondansetron, marketed as Zofran, is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, a list of medications needed in a basic health system. That’s a major accomplishment for drug makers. But a rise in unapproved use of Zofran to treat morning sickness, nausea and vomiting in pregnant women has proven dangerous. Multiple studies link the drug to severe birth defects in babies whose mothers used the drug while expecting.

Most alarming is that court documents show that GlaxoSmithKline (informally known as Glaxo) knew as early as 1992 that Zofran placed developing babies at unreasonable risk of harm because the drug passes through the human placenta. Still, the company continued to market the drug as a safe and effective treatment for pregnant women.

In 2012, Glaxo officials pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and illegal promotion of several drugs, including Zofran, and paid $3 billion as part of the legal settlement. Now, the company is back in court to answer to allegations that it:

  • Failed to determine safety risks before selling it;
  • Failed to warn the public about dangerous side effects;
  • Falsely advertised the drug as a safe treatment for morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum (severe or prolonged vomiting) even if it was not approved for this use;
  • Misrepresented that animal studies showed the drug was safe, when in actuality the results showed abnormal bone growth and signs of toxicity;
  • Failed to properly evaluate all data and safety information on Zofran for use in pregnant women;
  • Produced a defective drug;
  • Falsely and fraudulently claimed Zofran was safe for pregnant women.

If you are expecting or planning a pregnancy, know that Zofran remains unapproved by the FDA for use in pregnant women, though roughly 1 million women still take the medication or its generic counterpart each year. If you have been prescribed Zofran or believe that the drug may have affected your child, contact an experienced dangerous drug attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Apr
16
2015

UNF-Rock-Climbing-Team-totw

When you think Florida, you don’t think mountains. But UNF Climbing Team doesn’t need real mountains and is getting ready for nationals in San Diego.
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