Surgical “Black Boxes”?

Posted in Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

In the context of airplanes and motor vehicles, a “black box” is a device that records data at the time of an accident or crash.  In the case of cars or trucks, often these devices record things like speed, acceleration and deceleration, whether brakes were applied, whether seat belts were in use and steering angle.  In the case of planes, these devices record flight data such as altitude and airspeed.  By retrieving and analyzing the data recorded on these black boxes, investigators are better able to determine how or why a crash or accident occurred.  Now, researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a similar device to be used by physicians during surgery.  According to a recent article in philly.com, this surgical black box tracks a surgeon’s actions during surgery and records any errors.  As with plane and car black boxes, which help show what happened during a crash or accident, the purpose of these devices is to collect data during surgery that would subsequently help show why the patient had a poor outcome.  Moreover, collecting this data would allow researchers to analyze why surgical errors occur in an effort to prevent future such mistakes during surgery.  The device is still in its initial phase, having been used in only about 40 surgeries, all of them laparoscopic weight-loss procedures.  However, philly.com reports that a number of hospitals have already expressed interest in the device, including several in the United States.  Could this be the future of surgical error prevention?  Only time will tell. If you or a loved one has been affected by a surgical error, contact Stark & Stark today for a free consultation.

Stark & Stark Attorneys Elected to Bucks County Bar Association Board

Posted in News & Events

The law firm of Stark & Stark is pleased to announce that Shareholder Tyler Tomlinson, Esq. and Associate Bianca A. Roberto, Esq. have been elected to the Bucks County Bar Association Board.

Tyler Tomlinson, member of the firm’s Accident & Personal Injury Group, is honored to have been elected to the Bucks County Bar Association’s Board of Directors for a three-year term. The BCBA is one of the oldest and most active Bar Associations in the United States, and Mr. Tomlinson is prepared to become an integral part of continuing all of the good work that the Bar Association does in Bucks County.

Bianca A. Roberto, member of the firm’s Business & Corporate Group, has been named a Director on the Executive Board for the Young Lawyers’ Division of the Bucks County Bar Association for a one-year term. This will be Ms. Roberto’s second year on the Young Lawyers’ Division’s Executive Board. The Young Lawyers’ Division is active within the Bar Association and in the Bucks County community. Ms. Roberto anticipates another productive and rewarding year on the Executive Board.

Shareholder Appointed to the Northampton Township Parks & Recreation Board

Posted in News & Events

Michelle Christian, Esq., Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors on January 5, 2015 to a four-year term on the Northampton Township Parks & Recreation Board.

The Northampton Township Parks and Recreation Department’s primary mission is to address the interests and needs of the Northampton Township community by providing facilities and services to Northampton residents for the betterment of the community. It is the goal of the Parks and Recreation Board to fairly allocate the facilities for use by Northampton Township residents as well as community sports organizations.

New Book Reveals Startling Medical Malpractice Findings

Posted in Medical Malpractice

A new book, Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers, published by the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York University Law School, revels several startling findings regarding our healthcare system and medical malpractice.  According to the press release issued by Center for Justice & Democracy, among the many findings are:

  • Medical malpractice insurance companies are making twice the profit of the entire insurance industry.
  • On any given day, 1 in 25 U.S. hospital patients has at least one infection contracted during their hospital stay.
  • At least 8 doctors whose medical licenses were suspended or revoked collectively billed Medicare more than $7 million in 2012.
  • An average of 103,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides a year were abusing or dependent on illicit drugs.
  • Military hospitals are less safe than civilian hospitals.
  • Medical malpractice insurance premiums are not rising.
  • When newly trained New York state physicians were asked their main reason for leaving the state, “cost of malpractice insurance” was practically dead last, and the state’s liability laws was not even mentioned as a factor.

Interestingly, rising liability insurance premiums due to the high volume of medical malpractice lawsuits is frequently cited as a basis for instituting tort reform (laws that limit the right to sue, or that cap the amount of money injured patients can recover for their injuries).  According to this book’s findings, however, medical malpractice insurance companies are making twice the profit of the entire insurance industry, and malpractice insurance premiums are in fact not rising.  Moreover, constituents are often led to believe that physicians are leaving their state because of high insurance premiums or unfavorable liability laws.  At least in New York, this appears not be true.

Equitable Liens on Real Estate

Posted in Real Estate

Suppose you have sold real estate to someone else and take a mortgage back from the buyer to secure payment of the sale price. Suppose, again, that you find out that there’s something wrong regarding that mortgage. Maybe the buyer claims he didn’t sign it. Maybe it describes the real estate incorrectly. Maybe it gets lost on the way to being recorded. Maybe…well, you get the point. If there’s something wrong with your mortgage, how can you be sure it’s a lien on the real estate to protect your “financial assistance” to the buyer with the sale price?

The answer (assuming you don’t have title insurance) may be filing an action to request an equitable lien on the real estate. An equitable lien is a lien imposed by a court when someone lends money or furnishes services to someone else, and intends real estate to secure the loan or services rendered, but (for whatever reason) doesn’t have an existing lien on the real estate. The ultimate rationale behind an equitable lien is to prevent a windfall/lucky break to the person whom money was lent to or services performed for, and who expected a mortgage on his real estate, but doesn’t have one. Three conditions must exist under Pennsylvania law for the imposition of an equitable lien—an obligation from one to another, a piece of real estate which is related to the obligation, and an intent between the obligor and the obligee that the real estate secure the obligation.

Practically, if an equitable lien is imposed by a court, it should reflect as many of the terms of the intended mortgage as possible, but at a minimum the original face amount of the mortgage. The court should also indicate that the equitable lien’s priority relates back to the date the intended mortgage was originally entered into or dated.

At Stark & Stark, we possess the expertise to file and prosecute actions for equitable liens in all Pennsylvania counties. If you feel you may benefit from the imposition of an equitable lien, do not hesitate to contact us.

Medicare Payments For Hospital Admissions Will Be Reduced in 2015

Posted in Personal Injury

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that there will be reductions in funding for hospitals who provide care for many low income patients, and for hospitals with too many patients who develop infections while in the hospital.  In addition, there will be higher penalties assessed for those hospitals with readmissions within 30 days.

These cuts in funding are part of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) and the aim is to make hospital care safer and more less costly. If you are affected by this and have any questions, you can contact Stark & Stark located in Yardley, Pennsylvania

Number of People Killed While Riding Bikes or Walking Continues to Increase

Posted in Community, Personal Injury

Unfortunately the number of people killed by motor vehicles while walking or riding their bicycles continues to go up.  This is despite the efforts by many states to implement laws regarding helmets. Of those killed, studies show that 65% of the bicyclists were not wearing helmets. While several states have helmet laws that relate to children, most states have no laws relating to adults wearing helmets.

In our own community here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania between 2008-2012 the total deaths of adults of children struck while riding  bicycles or as pedestrians, by motor vehicles was 51. This is about 1.6 persons to every 100,000 people who live in our area.  To us, here at Stark and Stark, any loss is too many and we therefore encourage people to be aware of your surroundings, wear a helmet and proper safety and reflective equipment.

Stark & Stark represents clients that have been injured in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Yardley office is Bucks County’s catastrophic injury attorneys. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.

 

Users Reporting Rashes and Irritation Due to Fitbit Charge

Posted in Personal Injury

Earlier this fall, Fitbit released its latest fitness tracking wristband called the Charge.  This is the first Fitbit product release since the company was forced to recall a similar device called the Force due to an estimated 10,000 plus complaints of rashes and skin irritation caused by the device.

Unfortunately, some early users of the Charge have reported similar skin irritation to that caused by the Force.  In an interview with Yahoo Tech, Fitbit CEO, James Park, has acknowledged this issue and suggested that users experiencing skin irritation remove the device and contact a dermatologist if symptoms persist.  See the full Yahoo Tech article here: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/reviewed-the-fitbit-charge-is-effective-but-104934385489.html.

The experienced attorneys at Stark & Stark are currently working with a team of attorneys to pursue claims on behalf of those individuals that have experienced injuries caused by the Fitbit Force.  With the report of similar injuries caused by the Fitbit Charge, our team has launched an investigation in an effort to determine the underlying cause of these injuries.  If you or someone you know has experienced a rash or skin irritation due to any Fitbit device, please contact Stark & Stark for a free consultation.

End Distracted Driving Now

Posted in Personal Injury

I was on a family vacation a few months ago and read a billboard that said, “If you want to speak with God, call Him.  If you want to meet Him, text.”  It was a pretty clever billboard, and I remember thinking, wow, even in Costa Rica? I sat at a traffic light on the way to work last week and counted 4 people talking in cells, and another two with their head and eyes staring into their laps.  I sat at that very same traffic light this morning and counted 3 cell phone talkers and a woman applying lipstick.  Granted we were all stopped at a red light, but let’s face it, those three calls were not going to miraculously end when the light turned green (they didn’t incidentally)

We have all read and seen the horrific stories in the news, and need only glance over at the cars around us to know that it is everywhere … even in Costa Rica!  Distracted driving takes many forms, whether it be tuning the radio, reaching for a fry, or talking and texting.  And whereas we don’t often hear about the accident caused when a parent reaches over to pick up a dropped sippy cup, we too often hear about the deadly crashes when a driver is texting (receiving or making).

From a legal standpoint, a distracted driver who causes property damage, personal injury and/or death is exposed to civil liability (monetary damages) and criminal liability (jail, probation, etc) depending on the circumstances and nature of the harm caused.  Whereas each case is different, each case also seems to have been avoidable.

Below is an informative website, EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving) and the Casey Feldman Foundation, established “to raise awareness and generate action against the epidemic of distracted driving.”  It was created by the parents of Casey Feldman, a college student, who was tragically struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2009.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a distracted driver, contact Stark & Stark today for a free no obligation consultation.

Medicare’s 3-Day Rule

Posted in Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation

Many older patients, who are on Medicare or in a Medicare Advantage Plan, are shocked when they are hospitalized for less than 3 days only to find out that Medicare will not pay for nursing home coverage following this brief hospitalization.  These patients, who are technically admitted for “observation” for less than 3 full days, are in fact, being penalized for getting well faster than a Medicare patient who spends perhaps 4 or 5 days in the hospital.

Medicare is currently conducting pilot projects in hospitals across the country in which Medicare patients admitted to the hospital for less than 3 days, are permitted to continue their recovery in a nursing home, with payment made by Medicare.  The hope is that providers that drop the 3-day rule can reduce costs or keep them the same while improving the quality of care.  These pilot projects are conducted under a provision of the Affordable Care Act that created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations to develop ways of improving Medicare.  If you have any questions regarding the rules, contact Stark & Stark today.