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Oct
27
2014
Trick-or-treating should be a fun time for kids. But research shows children have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year, pedestrian accident attorneys say.

Trick-or-treating should be a fun time for kids. But research shows children have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year, pedestrian accident attorneys say.

Halloween night is fraught with scary costumes and spooky decorations. But while the characters and sights are make believe, true terrors to exist throughout the Halloween weekend, and among them is an all-too-real spike in pedestrian accidents, attorneys warn.

Results of a joint study by State Farm Insurance and Bert Sperling of Sperling’s Best Places show that children have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year. Consider that the US Census Bureau estimates there are 41 million trick-or-treaters ages five to 14 on America’s neighborhood streets each year (not including potentially millions more who are 15 and older) and you’ve got a frighteningly high number of young victims whose lives are forever changed or even ended each year.

Among the findings of the study:

  • An average of 5.5 child pedestrian fatalities occur across the nation each year on Halloween. That’s more than double the average 2.6 fatalities on other days of the year.
  • Nearly a fourth of pedestrian accidents occurring on Halloween happen between 6 pm and 7 pm, known as the “Deadliest Hour” by emergency room workers and personal injury attorneys. Over 60 percent of these accidents take place in the four-hour period between 5 pm and 9 pm.
  • While it may seem safest, the middle portion of a neighborhood block actually proved most dangerous in the study. Researchers found that over 70 percent of Halloween day pedestrian accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Children ages 12 to 15 are most at risk, accounting for 32 percent of all child fatalities on Halloween. Children ages 5 to 8 followed, accounting for 23 percent of fatalities.
  • Young drivers ages 15-25 posed the highest risk to trick-or-treating children, accounting for nearly a third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.

Halloween should be a fun and memorable experience for children. Keep your young trick-or-treaters safe by assuring that they choose costumes that are safe and highly visible to drivers. Avoid long, flowing costumes that can prove a trip hazard. Choose glow-in-the-dark costume props; have your children hold flashlights or glow sticks; or place reflective tape on your child’s costume, shoes, props or candy bags to help increase visibility. Before they leave your home, go over the rules with your children, including insisting that they walk, not run while trick-or-treating and that they stay together throughout the evening. Finally, assure that your children are accompanied by a trusted adult at all times.

If your child is injured while celebrating Halloween, get them to an emergency room immediately, then contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. Call 800-251-1111.

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Oct
22
2014
A new device in development may help restore memories lost in traumatic brain injury patients.

A new device in development may help restore memories lost in traumatic brain injury patients.

Studies show that some 70 percent of patients who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience memory loss and or reduced memory capacity a full year after sustaining the injury. In fact, few TBI survivors every realize 100 percent memory recovery. And scores of these victims are the military servicemen and servicewomen who put their lives on the line to defend and protect our country. But a new device being developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) may offer promise.

As part of a major federal initiative dubbed the Restoring Active Memories (RAM) Program, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded grants of up to $22.5 million to Penn and another $15 million to UCLA to help fund the development of a wireless, implantable device designed to help restore memory function in patients who have suffered TBI or other cognitive disorders. The devices will feature electronic interfaces that can sense memory deficits caused by injury and attempt to restore normal function and are being developed by teams of top-rated experts in neurosurgery, engineering, neurobiology, psychology and physics.

Development and testing of the new technology dubbed the “neuroprosthesis” in patients is expected to take about four years. But success can’t come soon enough, say patients, doctors and TBI attorneys. Statistics with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that TBI is a major cause of disability and death nationwide, contributing to upward of 30 percent of all injury-related deaths. It has been diagnosed in more than 270,000 military servicemembers since 2000 and affects an estimated 1.7 million US civilians each year. Besides memory loss, effects of TBI can include impaired cognitive, movement, sensory and emotional functioning.

We here at Harrell and Harrell applaud the university’s efforts and DARPA’s support. If you or someone you love suffers a TBI as a result of someone else’s negligent or deliberate action, one of our highly specialized TBI attorneys can help assure you get fair compensation. Call us at 904-251-1111.

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Oct
15
2014
New research shows a heightened risk of heart attack in men younger than 65 undergoing testosterone therapy, attorneys say.

New research shows a heightened risk of heart attack in men younger than 65 undergoing testosterone therapy, attorneys say.

If you’re a male who has undergone testosterone therapy to treat symptoms of Low-T levels, take note. Results of a recent study show a definitive link between testosterone therapy and heart attacks.

In the study, conducted jointly by the University of California, Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health and Consolidated Research, analyst reviewed data from Truven Health Analytics, which aggregate information on patient care. Data included health care records of 55,593 men who had been prescribed testosterone therapy. Of them, 48,539 were under the age of 65 and 7,054 were 65 or older.

Researchers found a two-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in men under age 65 with a history of heart disease shortly after undergoing testosterone therapy treatment. Researchers also found a two-fold boost in heart attack risk for patients over 65, regardless of a history of coronary health issues.

Symptoms of Low-T can include reduced muscle mass, decrease in bone strength and energy, increased body fat, depression, reduced sex drive and sexual dysfunction – all factors that can significantly affect a man’s health and confidence. So, it’s no surprise that marketing efforts for Low-T treatments have been so successful. Statistics show that the number of testosterone therapy prescriptions has tripled nationwide since 2001, despite the fact that clinical cases of Low-T remain relatively rare, affecting just five percent of men of all ages, and 20 percent of men age 70 and older. Many experts suspect that manufacturers of drugs used to treat low testosterone levels in patients may be using trumped up symptoms to push sales.

Meanwhile, patients may be needlessly risking their health.

“The extensive and rapidly increasing use of testosterone treatment and the evidence of risk of heart attack underscore the urgency of further large studies of the risks and the benefits of this treatment,” said the study’s senior author, Sander Greenland, also a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a professor of statistics in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Patients and their physicians should discuss the risk of heart attacks when considering testosterone therapy.”

If you have suffered a heart attack or other adverse health effect that you believe may have been caused by undergoing testosterone therapy treatment, contact Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Oct
05
2014

ZazouLARGE - Copy

With the fall season under way and temperatures set to drop soon, women are pulling out the scarves. Silk is a top choice because it allows the skin to breath while holding in body heat, keeping you fashionably warm. But if you’ve purchased a silk scarf from Berkley, California-based Zazou Scarves recently, take note.

The company has issued a voluntary recall of nearly 3,800 silk scarves, warning consumer that they fail to meet the federal flammability standard for wearing apparel. That means they’re a fire hazard. And that’s particularly troubling with the holidays just around the corner, as candles are so frequently used in Halloween, Hanukkah and Christmas decorating. Fortunately, no related injuries have been reported, but company officials and product liability attorneys warn that the risk exists.

The recalled scarves are made of 100-percent silk, measure 72 inches long by 20 inches wide and come in 20 colors including black, burgundy, celery, chili red, coral, espresso, fuchsia, grey, indigo, iris blue, mist blue, olive, peacock, periwinkle, pink, purple, ruby, sea foam and white. They were sold on the Zazou Scarves website and at specialty boutiques nationwide for about $30 from August 2012 to August 2014. Look for the Zazou Luxe logo printed on a tag sewn into the side seam of the scarf.

If you own one of the recalled scarves and have not been injured, contact Zazou Scarves at 800-472-2783 or email the company at monique@zazou.com. A representative will send you a prepaid postage label for returning the scarf. If you do suffer a burn injury while using one of the recalled scarves, keep the scarf intact, get medical attention immediately and contact a personal injury or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Sep
25
2014
Some tattoo inks can cause lifelong skin and health issues.

Some tattoo inks can cause lifelong skin and health issues.

Tattoos are a favorite form of self-expression, with some 45 million Americans sporting ink, including 30 percent of college graduates. But before you decide to get tatted up, as they say, it’s important to know the risks, personal injury attorneys say.

Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that some tattoo ink may be unsafe. Earlier this year, California’s White and Blue Lion, Inc. issued a massive recall of its tattoo inks, needles and kits after testing confirmed pathogenic bacterial contamination in unopened bottles of ink. Company and FDA officials warn that use of recalled tattoo kits may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Sepsis carries bacteria through the blood stream and is marked by a range of symptoms including fever, shaking, chills and sweats. It’s particularly dangerous for anyone with a pre-existing heart or circulatory condition. At least one case of sepsis has been linked to the recalled products.

The risk isn’t limited to DIY tattoo artists. Because regulation of professional tattoo artists and parlors varies from state to state, some states can be less vigilant about protecting consumers than others. As a result, tattoo clients can be at risk for developing hepatitis, HIV, staph infections and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections, due to dirty needles and unsanitary environments. It wasn’t until 2012 that Florida implemented legislation requiring licensure of tattoo artists and establishing standards of hygiene, training and supervision similar to those required at body-piercing studios and nail salons.

Those temporary tattoos popular with teens, kids and even adults not quite ready to undergo permanent ink, also pose risks. That’s because they often contain ink marketed as “black henna” and typically made with black hair dye containing para-phenylenediamine. Because of the name, consumers often assume that black henna is simply a variation of the natural red henna. Truth is, there’s no such thing as natural black henna and chemicals used in making it can cause painful and potentially dangerous skin infections. Symptoms can include blistering, open sores, loss of pigmentation, permanent scarring and lifelong health issues including persistent sensitivity to sunlight and certain chemicals, as well as allergic reactions. Because of the risks, the FDA has approved henna for use in hair dye only, not in products intended for direct application to the skin.

Before getting a tattoo, be sure to confirm licensure of the artist and check out any complaints that may have been filed with the Florida Department of Health concerning the parlor you’re considering. If you have suffered skin irritations or other health issues that you believe may be associated with your tattoo, get medical attention, then contact a personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help you secure fair compensation for your related injuries and costs. Reach us at 800-251-1111.

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Sep
16
2014
Research shows that veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries are at higher risk for developing dementia - and developing it earlier than others.

Research shows that veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries are at higher risk for developing dementia – and developing it earlier than others.

Military veterans who sustained traumatic brain injury while serving our country may be at a heightened risk for developing dementia, new research suggests.

Researchers found that veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia years earlier than those who had not suffered an injury – at 78.5 years of age on average, compared to 81 years old, respectively.

The massive research project began a decade ago and evaluated some 190,000 veterans with an average age of 68 and who had not been diagnosed with dementia. Of these participants, 1,229 previously had been diagnosed with a brain injury. Nine years later, researchers revisited those veterans and found that 16 percent of participants with a brain injury had since developed dementia, compared to just 10 percent of study subjects who did not have a brain injury.

“Our results suggest that [brain injury] may increase the risk of developing dementia in older veterans, with an age of onset about two years earlier,” study author Deborah Barnes, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, told reporters. “So clinicians may want to keep an eye out for signs of cognitive impairment in older veterans with a history of [brain injury].”

It’s believed that each time the brain takes a substantial hit, its ability to bounce back after being damaged is reduced. Plus, brain injuries may lead to a buildup of amyloid or tau, proteins known to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Researchers also noted that the risk for developing dementia is higher in TBI veterans who also experienced depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or cerebrovascular disease. What’s more, these veterans’ caretakers also are at a heightened risk for depression and related issues, including suicide. That domino effect means potential harm to an even greater population, making the TBI among veterans an increasingly serious health issue.

While it’s important to note that the study results do not prove a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between TBI and dementia among veterans, it undoubtedly reveals an association worth further attention from physicians, caretakers and other researchers. If you’re suffering health consequences of a TBI sustained during your military service and have been denied your veterans disability benefits, Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell can help. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an attorney specializing in veterans disability benefits today.

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Sep
10
2014
2014 may prove a (dubious) record year for FDA drug recalls.

2014 may prove a (dubious) record year for FDA drug recalls.

The number of FDA drug recalls has risen each year, multiplying seven times over from 166 in 2004 to 1,225 last year. With nearly 840 already announced this year, 2014 is on track for an all-time record number of medications removed from the market. In fact, FDA data shows that the last 24 months have seen almost as many recalls (2,061) as the previous nine years combined (2,217). While the sheer numbers are troubling enough, what’s more concerning is that the nation’s health officials are unsure what’s pushing the continual surge.

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers often have to recall drugs, devices and food products for an array of reasons, which can range from simple and relatively innocuous labeling mistakes to serious, potentially life-threatening issues. Common recall prompts include including improper labeling, packaging defects, contamination, improper testing or a product’s inherent safety and the potential that its use could cause harm to a patient or user.

Drug recalls are issued in three separate classes:

  • Class 1: A product undoubtedly will cause serious ill effect, including possible death, in a user.
  • Class II: A product has been known to cause an adverse, but reversible health effect.
  • Class III: A product is unlikely to cause adverse health consequences, but is being recalled simply for safety’s sake.

Class II recalls make up about 70 percent of the total drug recalls, followed by Class 1 at 21 percent and Class III at 9 percent.

Experts believe that one factor in the latest surge may be the fungal meningitis outbreak of 2012, which killed more than 60 people. In response, the FDA quickly initiated a crackdown on compounding pharmacies, noting that a large percentage of Class II recalls were related to issue with these pharmacies, including their provision of products that had possible, but unconfirmed microbial contamination.

Another factor may be continual efforts to improve current good manufacturing practices (cGMP). A single manufacturing plant found to be deficient in any one cGMP can lead to dozens, or even hundreds of recalls of its multiple products.

Whatever the reason, a rise in the number of FDA drug recalls is certainly a matter of concern. If you or your loved one has suffered adverse health consequences after using a recalled drug or device, you may be due fair compensation. Talk with a doctor immediately to assure your health issue is treated, then call 800-251-1111 and speak with a product liability or dangerous drugs and medical products attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.

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Sep
02
2014
Many returning soldiers suffer chronic pain that can lead to painkiller addictions, research shows.

Many returning soldiers suffer chronic pain that can lead to painkiller addictions, research shows.

Our nation’s military personnel deserve the best life has to offer for sacrificing time away from their families and putting their lives on the line on a near-daily basis. Unfortunately, far too many instead suffer chronic pain and crippling addition to narcotic pain killers upon returning home, research shows.

Led by Lt. Cmdr. Robin Toblin, a clinical research psychologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., a recent study surveyed confidential surveys completed by nearly 2,600 US soldiers serving with the same infantry brigade. The results are striking:

  • Some 44 percent of the members of the infantry brigade reported chronic pain for at least three months after returning to the US after serving tours of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq. That figure is nearly double the 26-percent rate among civilians suffering chronic pain.
  • Soldiers are nearly four times more likely than civilians to treat their chronic pain with prescription narcotics – 15 percent of the soldiers surveyed within the final month of the study phase, compared to four percent of civilians.
  • Combat injuries are a primary cause of chronic pain among returning soldiers, with victims nearly three times more likely to report chronic pain and twice as likely to take narcotic painkillers as their fellow soldiers who had not suffered a combat injury.
  • Soldiers who suffer depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are twice as likely as their fellow soldiers to report chronic pain.
  • Among the soldiers reporting chronic pain in the study, nearly half (48 percent) said their pain had lasted a year or longer and 55 percent said they suffered daily or constant pain.

“This gives us the first complete snapshot of an entire battalion. It really highlights the extent of the problem the Department of Defense is presented with, in terms of better managing pain,” said Dr. Wayne Jonas, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and president and CEO of Samueli Institute, a non-profit health research organization. He noted that many of these soldiers go untreated or undertreated in part because of rampant peer pressure.

“In the military, pain is seen as a sign of weakness so many people don’t report it,” Jonas told reporters “It’s being undertreated, and it’s being treated too often using medications that aren’t meant to be used on a long-term basis.”

Researchers encourage soldiers to report and get treated for chronic pain, and urge military physicians and other healthcare providers to work to improve diagnosis and pain management procedures. They note that 44 percent of soldiers in the study who reported use of narcotic painkillers said they had little to no pain during the previous month. While this may imply that the medications are working to relieve pain it may also suggest that soldiers are taking these painkillers needlessly, boosting an addiction risk.

Researchers lauded the US Department of Defense for considering alternative pain management solutions including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and music therapy to complement or even replace treatment with narcotic painkillers when possible and appropriate.

If you are a veteran struggling with chronic pain and/or painkiller addiction and are not receiving the help you need from the Veteran’s Administration, Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help. Call 800-251-1111 and talk with a veterans disability benefits lawyer today.

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Aug
26
2014
Ace Bayou and the CPSC have recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after the suffocation deaths of two children.

Ace Bayou and the CPSC have recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after the suffocation deaths of two children.

Bean bag chairs are fun favorites among families with children. They’re comfortable, casual and kid-sized. But some have proven dangerous, safety officials and product liability attorneys say.

After recent reports of two child deaths, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and New Orleans-based Ace Bayou Corp. have issued a recall of nearly 2.2 million bean bag chairs. Company and federal safety officials warn that the zippers on the round and L-shaped bean bag chairs can easily be opened, allowing small children to crawl inside the bags and become trapped. Unable to escape, victims risk choking or suffocation on the chair’s foam beads.

That heartbreaking scenario is exactly what took the lives of a 13-year-old McKinney, TX boy and a 3-year-old Lexington, KY girl. Both were found dead inside Ace Bayou-made bean bags after inhaling and suffocating on the foam beads that fill and shape the bags.

Round-shaped recalled bean bag chairs were sold in three sizes – 30, 32 and 40 inches in diameter. L-shaped units affected measured 18 inches wide by 30 inches deep by 30 inches high. Both were sold in vinyl or fabric materials in a variety of colors including purple, violet, blue, red, pink, yellow, Kelly green, black, port, navy, lime, royal blue, turquoise, tangerine and multi-color. Customers nationwide bought recalled chairs at major retailers like Walmart and via online retailers such as Wayfair.com, Amazon.com and Meijer.com. All were manufactured before July 2013 and sold for between $30 and $100.

Owners of the recalled bean bag chairs can order a free repair kit by contacting Ace Bayou at 855-751-8151 or Acebayou.com. In the meantime, personal injury and product liability attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to keep bean bags away from children until the faulty zippers can be replaced.

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Aug
19
2014
Looking for a new friend? Harrell and Harrell is partnering with WJXT to help boost adoptions of shelter pets in the Jacksonville area.

Looking for a new friend? Harrell and Harrell is partnering with WJXT to help boost adoptions of shelter pets in the Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville-based personal injury law firm Harrell and Harrell is a proud new sponsor of two WJXT TV news show segments designed to boost adoption of shelter pets. WJXT’s Critter Corner, a segment of The Morning Show, features dogs and cats available for adoption at the Jacksonville Humane Society. Similarly, 4′s Pet Project, part of The Morning Show‘s Saturday edition, features adoptable pets awaiting new homes at Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services.

Shelter statistics show that upward of 2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because shelters are unable to house all of the pets surrendered by their owners, picked up as strays or confiscated from suspected neglect and abuse situations. Meanwhile, purchasing of pets at pet stores may actually support puppy mills, where breeding dogs often live in harsh, unsanitary conditions with little or no shade, exercise, veterinarian care or human interaction.

With each adopted from a shelter, two lives are saved – the adopted pet and the one who will now have a spot at the shelter vacated by your new furry friend. Plus, you’ll reap benefits, too. Studies show that pet ownership offers multiple health boons including:

  1. An immunity boost: Studies show that exposure to pets at an early age can help boost a child’s immune system, reducing the risk of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
  2. Stress relief: In a survey by market research firm Mindlab International, 55 percent of respondents reported feeling more relaxed after spending time with their pets. Plus, 44 percent said they worried less about common issues like finances and job security than did non-pet owners.
  3. Heart health: A study of some 4,500 adults found that cat ownership correlated to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. Simply petting a cat can help lower blood pressure in minutes.
  4. Weight loss: Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that people who walk dogs exercise more consistently and enjoy better fitness results than people who walk with a human companion.
  5. Healing boost: Medical doctors increasingly are recommending that patients who live alone adopt or foster pets. They cite research and anecdotal experience suggesting that pets often help motivate patients to more closely follow physicians’ instructions and to give better effort when dealing with serious medical conditions such as cancer.

Ready to meet your new four-legged family member? Harrell and Harrell urges you to head to the Jacksonville Humane Society or Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services, where dozens of healthy, hopeful dogs and cats await safe and loving new homes.

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