Sunday, October 7, 2012
Sometimes being a personal injury lawyer makes me appreciate the simplest things in life. Like going for a run in the park on a crisp October morning. I am by no means a fast runner, or a distance runner. But as I watch the color of the sky change from deep blue to pale gray, I use that quiet time to think ahead, to plan the day, or to just clear the cobwebs. That’s my time and I confess that I am pretty fiercely attached to it.
Lately on these morning runs, I have been thinking about two particular clients. Both have substantial brain injuries; one from obstetrical medical malpractice, and the other from prenatal exposure to neurotoxic chemicals. Both are young people who have always been wheelchair bound and unable to take care of themselves in any way. They face suffering every day that most of us cannot fathom. But despite their injuries, both experience joy and pain, have preferences and dislikes, and enjoy the loving company of their families.
But today I was thinking of something else. Today it occurred to me how utterly different their experiences would be if they were born normal, had normal childhoods and adulthoods, and sustained their brain injuries later in life.
What made me think of this on my run today is the recent report of patients whose brains have been injured by a completely preventable situation. These patients are adults who contracted fungal meningitis after they received tainted epidural steroid shots, which are given for back pain. Here is an update on the investigation, reported by the New York Times, linked below: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/us/scant-drug-maker-oversight-in-meningitis-outbreak.html?hp&_r=0
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by an infection from a virus, bacteria or fungus. If not treated, meningitis can lead to brain swelling and cause permanent disability, coma, and even death. Sixty-four people in nine states have contracted fungal meningitis and seven have died since receiving injections of the steroids in their backs. The tainted shots came not from a pharmaceutical manufacturer, but from a “compounding” company. Compounding companies are apparently not subject to the same level of government oversight as pharmaceutical companies. The vials of tainted shots are now being recalled, but it is unknown how many doses have already been given.
Some medical professionals have said that the only reason to buy a product like this from a compounding company, rather than a drug manufacturer, is because compounding companies sell it at a lower price, thus increasing the profit margin of the doctor or clinic administering the shot.
These meningitis patients and their families probably already know that they are victims of not just a defective product, but also of the greed of those who wanted to increase their profit margin. So today in the park I was thinking that these patients also probably had things that they were fiercely attached to, as I am to my morning run, which they may never again be able to enjoy because of their injuries. And having lived full lives until that moment, they know what has been taken from them, and they know who has taken it, and why. It seems to me that to know you are the victim of a cruel injustice is an injury in and of itself.
I wish them all a speedy and full recovery.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
"No Chaser". That was the title of a 2003 feature article about my practice as a personal injury lawyer in a now out of print magazine called Jungle Law. Click here to read the first couple of pages. I came across a copy recently and when I read it I recalled the compelling story of one of my clients at the time. Henry was a young man whose mother had sustained a brain injury due to medical malpractice. As she lay in a hospital bed in a coma, I was in court with him for a hearing to have him appointed her guardian. It was an emotional hearing for everyone; even for me as his attorney. I remember many months later getting a large settlement for him and his family (his mother had since died from her injuries). That was emotional too, since although it could never bring back Henry’s mother, he felt that justice had been done to the extent possible under the law. As I re-read the article, now nearly ten years later, I realized the average person doesn’t know very much about the personal side of being a personal injury lawyer. This work can be inspiring, as well as heart wrenching. It is exciting, as well as frustrating. I’ve been litigating personal injury cases for nearly 20 years now, and nearly every day I have learned something new, not just about the law and advocacy, but also about human nature and the endurance of the human spirit under extraordinary challenges. That's why I decided to start this blog.
This blog will tell the stories of the individuals and families whose lives have been irreversibly changed because of the carelessness of others. This blog will also tell my story, as witness to the perseverance of their humanity during devastating life crises, and as their advocate in the trenches of litigating catastrophic injury cases on their behalf. I often hear clients say something like, “You know, I have had many doctors, but you are the first person who actually listened to me.” I listen because these people are hurting and need to tell their story; they need to be heard, even though it also happens to be my job to listen. I also listen because these legal cases are fascinating. They involve medical malpractice (birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to timely diagnose cancer, wrongful death, anesthesia negligence, etc.), as well as birth defects, serious automobile accidents, construction accidents toxic exposures, and other life changing injuries. Finally, this blog is my chance to bust some of the myths about personal injury law, because there are plenty of myths that need busting. I hope you find it interesting, and if you have any comments or questions, just email me. Thanks for reading!
This is a blog written and edited by me, Danielle George. Nothing presented on this website should be construed as legal advice. All content is for informational purposes only. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent, personal legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.
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