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Concussion Complications - Bailey Javins & Carter

Second Impact Syndrome and other Concussion Complications

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is considered by many medical professionals to be a milder form of TBI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussions are “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

The effects of a concussion are usually temporary, and signs and symptoms may include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Headaches or head pressure
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Irritability
  • Mood and personality changes

Some symptoms of a concussion may surface immediately, while others may take a few hours or even a few days or longer to develop.

Although a concussion may be considered “mild” compared to other forms of TBI, there are serious complications that can result from this type of injury. The Mayo Clinic lists several potential concussion complications:

  • Post-Traumatic Headaches: Some concussion sufferers experience ongoing headaches for as long as a few months after the injury occurs.
  • Post-Traumatic Vertigo: Dizziness or a sense that your head is spinning around can continue for as long as a few months after the injury.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome: Headaches, dizziness, trouble thinking clearly/confusion, and other concussion symptoms can continue for several weeks or months after the injury occurs.
  • Cumulative Affects of Multiple Brain Injuries: The Mayo Clinic says, “it’s possible that some people who have had one or more traumatic brain injuries over the course of their lives are at greater risk of developing lasting, possibly progressive, impairment that limits function. This is an area of active research.”
  • Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS): This is a rare condition in which an individual suffers a second concussion before their first concussion has fully healed. When this occurs, it can cause rapid and severe brain swelling, and in many cases, the results can be swift and fatal.

The Dangers of Second-Impact Syndrome

Although SIS is a rare condition, it is more common among certain sectors of the population, such as athletes. That said, second-impact syndrome can happen to anyone who sustains multiple concussions within a short period of time. For example, if someone was unfortunate enough to be involved in two high-impact vehicle crashes within a few days of each other, they may be at risk for SIS.

Second-impact syndrome occurs most often with younger athletes (typically around high school age) who play high-impact sports. Although SIS is rare, some of the factors that contribute to this injury among young athletes are not. For example, it is not unusual for an athlete (who is in the midst of an adrenaline rush) not to notice a head injury and continue to play. As an aside, it is common for those involved in motor vehicle accidents to experience this same type of adrenaline rush, which may cause them not to notice various injuries until later on.

Even if the athlete feels the effects of a head injury, they may not think it is all that serious, so they don’t report it to a coach or parent. There may also be pressure put on the athlete (internally or externally) to continue playing in spite of the injury. The risk of second-impact syndrome and the depth of information now being learned about the cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries are major reasons the National Football League (NFL) now uses a concussion protocol.

To prevent second-impact syndrome from occurring and to minimize other concussion complications, it is important for those who experience any type of head trauma due to an accident or from playing sports to be examined right away by a qualified medical professional. It is also important to do everything possible to avoid another bump, jolt, or blow to the head while they are recovering from their current injury.

Suffered a Head Injury? Contact a Seasoned West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has suffered a concussion or another form of traumatic brain injury and another party may have been responsible, it is important for you to understand your rights and legal options. For skilled legal guidance with all types of personal injuries in West Virginia, call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.

Poorly Loaded Trucks

Accidents with Poorly Loaded Trucks

Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Thousands of individuals are killed each year in accidents involving commercial trucks, and the vast majority of those killed are occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who are involved in these incidents. There are numerous reasons 18-wheeler accidents occur, and with many of these accidents, there are several contributing factors.

For example, an accident may occur because the truck driver is too close to the vehicle in front of them and unable to stop in time to avoid a crash when the other vehicle slowed down. However, upon further investigation, we may learn that the brake lines were faulty, which shortened the truck’s braking distance. We may also learn that the driver was tired and not paying close enough attention to the vehicle in front of them because they were on the road for too long.

Some of the most serious trucking accidents are caused by overloaded trucks or trucks with unevenly loaded cargo. Loaded commercial trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more. And when they are overloaded or poorly loaded, they can create all kinds of hazards, such as:

  • Cargo falling out of the truck and striking other vehicles or individuals nearby;
  • Putting extra strain on key truck parts, such as the frame, suspension, springs, brakes, and tires;
  • Increased risk of jackknifing, tipping, or decoupling.

Last August, a semi-truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Hershey products rolled unto its side while traveling on Interstate 470 in Ohio County, WV. The accident resulted in hundreds of pounds of sweet treats being dumped onto the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the truck was tipped to its side, but this is an example of what can happen with poorly loaded trucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Cargo Securement Rules for commercial vehicles. These rules state the following:

Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, FMCSA standards are not always followed when trucks are loaded. Drivers and shipping companies are typically working under very tight (and often unrealistic) deadlines. This puts pressure on those loading the trucks to complete this task promptly. Trucks may also be loaded beyond their allowed weight limits when shippers are trying to consolidate more cargo into one load in order to save money.

How Poorly Loaded Trucks Can Cause Big-Rig Accidents

Overloaded trucks or imbalanced loads are often one of the hidden causes of a trucking accident. For example, jackknifing, tipping, and decoupling can happen for a number of reasons, such as ice, heavy winds, and other types of inclement weather. However, overweight trucks or poorly balanced loads can contribute to this situation.

Those who drive passenger vehicles probably do not think much about weight distribution most of the time, but it makes a big difference with an 18-wheeler. As mentioned earlier, a fully-loaded big-rig truck typically carries upwards of 80,000 pounds or more. A truck with too much weight or a truck with a poorly balanced load is much more difficult to handle even under the best of conditions. But when these trucks start driving up curvy, winding, mountain roads like what we have here in West Virginia, sometimes all it takes is a moderate gust of wind and/or a little bit of rain or ice to create an accident.

Injured in a Truck Accident in West Virginia? Contact a Nationally-Recognized Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents with commercial trucks can be highly complex cases because there are typically multiple contributing factors and several parties that could potentially be responsible. To get to the bottom of what happened, a thorough investigation is required, and this should be headed up by attorneys who thoroughly understand this area of the law and what it takes to recover full and fair compensation in these types of cases.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in trucking accidents and all other types of personal injuries. We have over four decades of experience, and we have been highly acclaimed not only for our experience and skill, but also for our client-centered focus and our tireless commitment to providing the strong personalized representation our clients deserve. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, contact our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam (IME) - Bailey Javins & Carter

Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam (IME)

During a personal injury case or Workers’ Compensation claim, the other party sometimes requests verification of the physical and/or emotional injuries sustained. This is typically done through an independent medical examination (IME). Being asked to undergo an IME is not unusual, and it is not a reason to panic. By understanding the purpose for the IME and preparing for it properly, you can get past this hurdle and bring your claim toward a successful conclusion.

What is an Independent Medical Exam?

An IME is supposed to be conducted by an “independent” medical professional who is not affiliated with any of the parties. This is rarely the case, however. Most of the time, the examiner is someone who is selected by the insurer and has a history of performing similar exams for this same insurer. This means that, at the very least, the examiner is incentivized to make findings that are favorable to the insurer in order to continue receiving referrals in the future.

With this in mind, you can expect this to be an adversarial situation, and the doctor’s findings are likely to favor the insurer’s side of the story and attempt to poke holes in your claim. From the insurer’s standpoint, the end goal of the IME is to produce one of two results:

  • Provide a basis to deny your claim outright; or
  • Provide a basis to offer you far less than your claim is really worth.

How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam

Now that you have a general idea why the IME is being requested and what the other side is likely trying to accomplish, you should have the right mindset while you prepare. There are several steps you should take in properly preparing for an IME, here are some the most important:

Review the Details of the Incident that Caused the Injury

You are likely to be asked in detail about what led to your injury. Some time has passed since your accident, so you may have forgotten a few things, or you may be a little foggy on some of the details. Go over the original accident report and any other notes you have describing what happened, and make sure that the answers you provide the medical examiner are consistent with what you have said in the past.

Know your Medical History in Detail

The examiner will most likely have all your medical records in front of them, including previous injuries and health conditions. Take some time to review your medical history in detail, so you understand what the examiner is referring to when you are asked about any of this.

Bring Someone with You to the IME

Always have someone with you when you attend an independent medical exam. This is very important, because you need a witness to confirm what happened at the exam in the event that a dispute arises later. If it is possible and practical, bring a nurse or another health professional along. This way, they can provide expert testimony (if needed) regarding what occurred at your IME.

Arrive Early

Missing your appointment time could be a costly mistake. For example, if the IME is for a Workers’ Compensation claim, your benefits could be suspended if you don’t show up for the exam. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of extra time and arrive early, so there can be no question about whether or not you kept your appointment.

Understand that you are Continually Being Observed

From the moment you pull up in the parking lot of the medical examiner’s office, you are most likely being watched. Assume that the premises are under video surveillance and plan accordingly. The examiner will consider everything about you; including how well you walked into the office, how well you move around the room, how easily you get on and off the exam table, etc.

Do Not Exaggerate your Conditions

Be honest and polite with the examiner, and do not exaggerate the extent of your injuries or symptoms. The examiner will be looking for inconsistencies between what you say and do and what s/he observes, so do not provide any reason for them to claim that you were not telling the truth.

Take Detailed Notes about What Happened at the IME

After you get home from the examiner’s office, write down in as much detail as you can what happened during the exam. Take note of the questions the examiner asked, the tests that were administered, what the examiner told you, and other important facts. This information may become very useful if your case ends up in court.

Consult with Your Personal Injury Attorney for Additional Guidance

For more information on preparing for an IME, speak with your attorney beforehand (if you have one). Your attorney will provide more detailed advice about how to prepare for the exam based on the specific circumstances of your case. For example, they can go over the reason the IME was requested, what types of questions to anticipate, what steps need to be taken to counter a bad report, etc.

 

Car Accidents & the Holidays - Bailey Javins & Carter

Car Accidents and the Holidays

Car Accidents and the Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and this is what the famous song refers to as the “most wonderful time of the year.” The holidays are a wonderful time in which we look forward to spending some relaxing days catching up with close family and friends. But with all those get-togethers comes increased travel. During the month of December, Americans will put on millions of miles to go out to holiday parties and drive out of town to visit family members. Car accidents are a heightened concern during the holidays, especially in states where there is a strong likelihood of inclement weather.

West Virginia is definitely among the areas in which motorists must exercise extreme caution while driving during the winter. Our narrow, winding roads and high mountainous regions can be a recipe for disaster, especially on days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s when there are numerous travelers on the road.

What Causes Auto Accidents During the Holidays?

Increased road congestion and poor driving conditions are two of the major reasons more car accidents occur during the holiday season. These factors are beyond our control, but there are other causes (that are largely within our control) that contribute to these accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Holiday Stress: Everyone is in a hurry during the holidays. There are countless places to go and things that need to be done. Shopping for loved ones, mailing out cards and gifts, preparing the house for guests/visitors, preparing for holiday parties, going to school events and other presentations, and numerous other tasks can put undue stress on even the most level-headed drivers. This combined with heavy traffic and bad weather can lead to very poor driving decisions.
  • Distracted Driving: These days, more and more people are texting while driving and sending other types of electronic messages when they are supposed to be focused on the road. With all the coordinating that needs to be done around holiday events and related tasks, it is easy for people to take out the phone and try to sneak a quick text in while they are slowing up to a stop sign or stop light. Texting while driving is an especially dangerous activity, because it distracts drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively.
  • DUI/DWI: According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, drunk driving accounts for accounts for 28% of all car accident fatalities during the month of December. And on average, 300 people are killed each year just in the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve alone. Many holiday gatherings involve alcohol, and it is tempting for those celebrating to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, especially if they only have to drive a short distance. Sadly, this results in numerous preventable auto accident injuries and fatalities during the holidays.
  • Faulty Vehicle Maintenance: Maintaining your vehicle is important at all times, but this is especially true during the winter. Drivers need to make sure their cars are tuned up, their brakes are in working order, and their tires are not worn down to unsafe tread levels. Here in West Virginia, tire chains of reasonable proportions are sometimes required because of snow, ice, or other slippery conditions. When owners do not take proper steps to ensure that their vehicles are maintained, they can endanger themselves and others on the road.

What to Do If Injured in an Auto Accident During the Holidays

If you are involved in a car accident this holiday season, there are some steps you should take to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights:

  1. Seek Medical Attention

The first priority is to ensure that everyone who may have been hurt in the accident receives medical help right away. If there are injuries, call 911 and summon an ambulance to the scene. Some injuries are not easy to detect right away, such as whiplash and injuries to internal organs. If this was a high-impact collision, call for medical attention for everyone involved just to be on the safe side.

  1. Call the Police

The police should be called to the accident scene to ensure that an official report is filed. The police will investigate what happened, interview witnesses, etc. and put it all in their report. Be sure to review the report when you have a chance and check for any inaccuracies.

  1. Document as Much as Possible

Write down, in as much detail as you can, how the accident occurred. Do this as soon as possible, so everything is still fresh in your mind. In addition, take multiple photographs of the accident scene from various angles, and obtain the contact information for any individuals who may have seen what happened. Their testimony may be valuable later on if you end up pursuing an injury claim.

  1. Contact a Seasoned West Virginia Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

If you or someone close to you was hurt or killed in an auto accident during the holidays, you may be entitled to compensation. Before speaking with the other party’s insurance company, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney who has in-depth experience with car accident injury cases can thoroughly review your case and advise you of your rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision regarding which legal avenue you want to pursue.

Contact The Experienced Car Accident Injury Attorneys at Bailey Javins & Carter

If you, or a loved one, has been injured in a car accident this holiday season, contact the experienced car accident injury attorneys at Bailey Javins & Carter. Contact our office at (304) 345-0346 or contact us online.

What should you do immediately after being injured at work? Bailey Javins & Carter

What Should I do Immediately After Being Injured at Work?

Workplace injuries are more common than most people think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2016, the most recent year on record. In addition, there were 5190 work-related fatalities, the highest since 2008. Being injured on the job is an unsettling experience, and it often difficult to know what to do next to ensure your injuries are treated and your legal rights are protected.

There are some steps you should take immediately after being injured at work, here are four of the most important:

Obtain First Aid and Any Other Necessary Medical Treatment

Before anything else, make sure your injury is treated and you have the medical assistance you need. See a doctor as soon as you can after the incident. Some injuries are not apparent right away, and they may take time to manifest themselves. This is why it is important to have an examination as soon as possible, so you will know the extent of your injuries and ensure they are properly addressed. In West Virginia, you are allowed to select your own doctor for Workers’ Compensation purposes, at least for the initial visit. Your doctor will determine if you are unable to work, your treatment plan, and when you can return to work.

Notify Your Supervisor of Your Injury

You should report your injury in writing to your employer as soon as it is convenient. In West Virginia, you have six months from the date of your injury to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. If you were exposed to a hazardous worksite condition and/or your doctor informs you that you have an occupational illness, you have three years from the date of your last exposure or from the date you were informed of your illness to file a Workers’ Comp claim.

Find Out if Your Employer is Covered by West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Laws

Most employers in West Virginia are required to maintain Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees. There are some exceptions, however. First of all, sole proprietors, partners, LLC members, and corporate officers are usually included in a Workers’ comp policy, but they can elect to be excluded. Secondly, there are certain types of employers that are exempt from the requirement to provide coverage. These include:

  • Employers in the agricultural industry who have five or fewer employees;
  • Employers of domestic services;
  • Employers with three or fewer employees who have temporary casual employees that work no more than 10 days per calendar quarter;
  • Employers who are churches and certain non-profit organizations;
  • Employers who are engaged in professional sports. However, coverage must be provided for certain employees who are not professional athletes and work only on the business side.

Though these types of employers are not required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for their exempt employees, many of them still do. Be sure to check with your employer to be certain.

There may also be a question about whether or not you are considered an employee or an independent contractor. Non-exempt employees are covered by the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation statute, while independent contractors are not. However, just because an employer says you are an independent contractor does not necessarily mean this is the case. It all comes down to the employer’s “right to control” or supervise the work you do. If that right to control exists, you are likely to be classified as an employee.

Speak with an Experienced West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

Once you have determined whether or not you are covered (or likely to be covered) by Workers’ Compensation, it is best to speak with a seasoned personal injury lawyer with extensive experience handling Workers’ Comp claims. There are several reasons why it is a good idea to speak with an attorney:

  1. The Workers’ Compensation claims process is complex and confusing, and many employees are wrongfully denied benefits often because of technicalities. This is especially true if the employee is not working with an attorney. By having strong legal counsel by your side, you can help ensure that your claim is processed smoothly and successfully, and that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
  2. Your injury may not be covered by Workers’ Compensation because you are an exempt employee or independent contractor. Or your injury may have resulted from the negligence or reckless actions of a third-party other than you or your employer. In any of these scenarios, you may have a strong basis for a personal injury action against the party responsible for your injuries.
  3. Although West Virginia employers are generally immune from civil liability for work-related injuries that are covered by Workers’ Comp insurance, state law provides for an exception if it can be shown that the employer acted with “deliberate intent” to place the employee at risk for injury. In such cases, an employee may be able to sue the employer for damages above and beyond what is paid out by Workers’ Compensation.