Medical Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

A Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., has published his research into various categories of treatment of patients in hospitals. These categories ranged from more simplistic “bad doctors” to “more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.”

Dr. Makary explained that “when a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns… we consider it part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards.” The study and research was done to illuminate problems which are normally swept under the rug by hospitals and healthcare facilities. Often, these facilities will go out of their way to avoid discussing any issues or risks, and frankly bend over backwards to keep such information confidential, arguing it is “privileged.”

Continue Reading

Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. Elected Managing Shareholder of Stark & Stark

Posted in Stark News

Stark & Stark is pleased to announce the election of Michael G. Donahue, III, Esq. as Managing Shareholder of the firm, effective May 1, 2016.  In this new leadership role, Mr. Donahue will oversee the day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning of the firm.  His election to Managing Shareholder coincides with his upcoming June installation as President of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) for the 2016-2017 term, where he also serves as co-chair of NJAJ’s Amicus Curiae Committee.

Mr. Donahue, who has been with the firm since 1995, is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney and focuses his practice on products liability and serious personal injury litigation. He is a prolific legal presenter, a member of several New Jersey-based law associations, and very active in area charitable and philanthropic organizations, including Boheme Opera New Jersey, the Trenton Area YMCA, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra, and Theater Exile in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Continue Reading

No Insurance, No Claim Against the Physician Individually – So Says the New Jersey Supreme Court in Jarrell v. Kaul, M.D.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

New Jersey Statute 45:9-19.17 requires physicians to maintain insurance and specifically states:

A physician who maintains a professional medical practice in this State and has responsibility for patient care is required to be covered by medical malpractice liability insurance issued by a carrier authorized to write medical malpractice liability insurance policies in this State, in the sum of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 per policy year and unless renewal coverage includes the premium retroactive date, the policy shall provide for extended reporting endorsement coverage for claims made policies, also known as “tail coverage,” or, if such liability coverage is not available, by a letter of credit for at least $500,000.

Continue Reading

Passing a Social Security Continuing Disability Re-Evaluation

Posted in Social Security

Some period of time after a claimant begins receiving Social Security Disability Benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) generally conducts a Continuing Disability Re-Evaluation (CDR). If you are less than 55 years of age at the time your benefits begin, a review is usually conducted every 3 years. If you are 55 years old or older, or if you have a condition that is unlikely to improve, your CDR will occur approximately every 7 years, until you reach retirement age.

A CDR may also occur if you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits and earning more than “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) per month. In 2016, the SGA amount for disabled non-blind beneficiaries is $1,130 per month. For blind beneficiaries, the amount is $1,820 per month. If you earn more than the SGA, your disability benefits will be in jeopardy. The exception to the SGA limitations is when the beneficiary is enrolled in a return-to-work plan through Social Security, which allows for a trial run of work for the beneficiary.

Continue Reading

6 Steps You Can Take in an Effort to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Malpractice

Posted in Medical Malpractice

You may not be aware, but medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Recently, the Huffington Post published an article which outlined some general steps that you can take to prevent becoming a victim of medical malpractice. Some of these recommendations include:

Continue Reading

No Charitable Immunity for YMCA

Posted in Legal Updates, Personal Injury

On September 18, 2015, the Honorable Stephanie A. Mitterhoff, J.S.C. denied YMCA’s Motion for Reconsideration of the denial of its Motion for Summary Judgment as to whether it is a charitable organization and entitled to immunity pursuant to the Charitable Immunity Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53-7 (see “CIA”). Judge Mitterhoff found that the core business of the “modern day YMCA” is a fitness center providing gym memberships including classes for various physical activities (e.g. aerobics and racquetball) for a fee.

A comprehensive analysis was conducted by Judge Mitterhoff to determine that the YMCA is not organized exclusively for religious or educational purposes, and that the sole basis for such an argument were documents such as the Articles of Incorporation, Certificates of Incorporation, and Mission Statements, which generally stated that it is an organization established to “promote a moral, spiritual, physical and mental welfare of the young men and boys of the community.”

Continue Reading

Stark & Stark’s Carin O’Donnell Won Bucks Happening 2016 Attorney Honor

Posted in Stark News

Congratulations to Stark & Stark Shareholder Carin O’Donnell for winning the Bucks Happening 2016 List for the Attorney Category. Ms. O’Donnell is a member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group in the firm’s Yardley office.

The Bucks Happening List is an annual record that is curated as a result of thousands of Bucks County residents voting to determine the most “happening” people, places, businesses, and events in the region. One winner is announced for each of the hundreds of potential categories, along with four runner-ups. Every nominee must reside in Bucks County in order to qualify.

Ms. O’Donnell concentrates her practice at Stark & Stark in representing children and adults who have been seriously injured or killed due to catastrophic accidents which can include those in construction, the workplace, motor vehicle, and motorcycle accidents.

In addition to Ms. O’Donnell’s win in the Attorney category of the Bucks Happening 2016 List, another Stark & Stark Shareholder, Jennifer Gould, was a finalist in the same category. Ms. Gould is a member of the Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Group and is also located in the Yardley office.

To learn more about the Bucks Happening 2016 List and to see the full record of winners, click here. To learn more about Ms. O’Donnell, please click here.

Fees and Costs for Attorney Representation for Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted in Social Security

In case you were unaware, the fees for all attorneys who represent claimants seeking Social Security Disability Benefits are regulated by federal law. Furthermore, these fees are contingent on the attorney’s ability to successfully get an award of benefits for the claimant. In other words, if the attorney is not able to obtain an award of benefits for the claimant, the attorney does not get a fee.

The statute in question that regulates attorneys fees states that the attorney is entitled to get 25% of the claimant’s retroactive benefits or a flat fee (which currently stands at $6,000), whichever is less. An attorney is not entitled to receive any monies from a claimant’s monthly checks from Social Security.

Continue Reading

The Danger in Discharge from a Hospital

Posted in Medical Malpractice

In a recent New York Times article, Dhruv Khullar, M.D., a medical resident in a large Boston teaching hospital, wrote about what often happens when a patient, especially an elderly patient, is discharged from the hospital. All too frequently, there is a high chance of readmission for many of these patients. Dr. Khullar notes that one-fifth of Medicare recipients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge, and one-third are readmitted within 90 days.

One study found that 20% of patients have a complication within 3 weeks of leaving the hospital and that half of those complications could have been prevented or mitigated. Although many of these complications are minor, some are serious and life-threatening. Medicare spends $26 billion annually on readmissions, and more than half of that amount on readmissions that are considered preventable.

Continue Reading

An Emergency Medicine Expert Can Be Qualified to Offer Opinions as to Deviations by Emergency Room Nurses

Posted in Legal Updates, Medical Malpractice

By way of a decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division in October 2015, a case was remanded for a new trial following the Trial Court’s granting of Motions under N.J.R.E. 702 and determining that the Emergency Medicine expert was “not qualified to render opinions as to the standards of care applicable to either defendant nurse.”

This arises out of the matter of Lauckhardt v. Jeges, 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2393. Plaintiff’s emergency medicine expert, Dr. James Bagnell, was offered to provide testimony as to the emergency room doctors and nurses. Even after Dr. Bagnell had substantially completed his testimony, both as to the doctor and the nurses, there was a Motion to bar his testimony as to the accepted standards of emergency nursing care. The Court granted the Motion pursuant to 702 based on the determination that plaintiff’s expert was “not qualified to render opinions of standards of care applicable to either defendant nurse.” The Court did not just strike the expert’s testimony regarding the nursing care, instead provided an instruction that read in substance:

Dr. Bagnell was qualified as an expert in the field of Emergency Medicine and in that regard he can render and did render opinions as to the deviations from the standards of care with regard to Dr. Jeges, but he cannot as a matter of law do that for either of the nurses…

Continue Reading