Information for injured persons and Social Security disability claimants in Texas and throughout the United States. By Robert A. Kraft
About My Blog
The purpose of this blog is to provide information to people who have been injured due to negligence, and to those who have filed for Social Security disability benefits, or who are considering filing for Social Security disability benefits.
Our Dallas, Texas personal injury and Social Security disability lawyers want to help. To find answers to your questions, please use the Google search box or the Categories list below. If you still don't find what you need, just send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get right back to you.
Business Journals reported, "The highway bill passed by the Senate last Wednesday includes two provisions that are causing indigestion for the restaurant industry, at least establishments that serve alcohol." According to the article, "First, the legislation appropriates $24 million for a federal program that could lead to the installation of alcohol detection systems as standard equipment in all vehicles. Second, it would provide $40 million in financial incentives to states that require anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated to put ignition interlocks in their cars." The American Beverage Institute is lobbying House members to reject the provisions related to drunk driving; Mothers Against Drunk Driving "strongly supported" the measures in the Senate.
From the American Association for Justice news release.
This public letter is from Consumer's Union, and addresses the situation many people fear we have slipped into, with new medical devices being rushed to market without adequate testing.
It’s a nightmare scenario. The implant that fixed your knee or your heart may actually be a ticking time bomb that could disable or kill you.
This isn’t science fiction. Millions of medical devices including artificial hips, surgical mesh, contact lens solution, heart stents, and pacemakers are being recalled – 700 different products a year.
And the vast majority of recalled products were never safety tested in humans, because the manufacturers claimed they were “similar” to products already on the market.
Tell Congress we don’t want to be guinea pigs anymore!
Every new prescription drug must undergo rigorous testing on humans before it can be sold, even if it is similar to another drug already in use. Not so with medical devices. Because of this loophole in our safety laws, more than 90 percent of medical devices aren’t safety tested before being sold nor are they routinely tracked afterward to identify safety problems.
For example, a metal hip implant marketed by Johnson & Johnson was approved in 2005 without first undergoing clinical safety trials. It was recalled five years later after having a 1 in 8 failure rate, and leaving potentially deadly metal fragments in the body. Countless patients had to undergo a second, painful ‘revision’ surgery.
It’s time safety standards for medical devices are as strong as those for prescription drugs!
The device industry has unleashed an army of lobbyists and they don’t want things to change. It will take a wave of consumers weighing in to make sure medical devices are safe and effective. Please take action, then forward this to friends and family.
Consumers Union, policy and action from Consumer Reports
Here we go again. I guess it's pointless for me to keep writing about how Texas has the highest homeowners insurance premiums in the country, and yet the carriers ask for increases every year. And of course they never get turned down by the agency supposedly in charge of insurance companies.
This time it's Allstate getting the big bump, and the story was covered by the Dallas Morning News. Here are excerpts:
State Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman has approved Allstate Insurance’s increased premiums for homeowners coverage, including a hike between 3.5 percent and 7 percent in the Dallas area.
All three of the state’s major home insurers — Allstate, Farmers and State Farm — have now won approval from Kitzman in recent months to increase their homeowners rates.
The higher Allstate rates took effect Jan. 26. Customers of Allstate Texas Lloyds are seeing their rates jump 3.5 percent in North Texas and 5.7 percent statewide.
Those insured by Allstate Fire and Casualty are facing increases of 7 percent in North Texas and 9.8 percent statewide. Together, the two Allstate homeowners subsidiaries provide coverage for about 585,000 homeowners in Texas.
Just over a year ago, the company boosted statewide rates for its two subsidiaries by almost identical amounts. That means that premiums charged by Allstate Fire and Casualty — the smaller of the two — will be up nearly 20 percent with the two increases.
Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, a consumer group active in insurance issues, criticized the recent rate decisions by Kitzman, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry and took over as commissioner in August.
“More than half of all homeowners have seen their insurance rates go up recently — many by double-digit percentages. And, what are insurance customers getting for these higher prices? Junk policies that cost more but cover less,” Winslow said.
Under state law, an insurer can increase premiums once it has notified the Insurance Department — but a company is subject to refunds and penalty interest if it charges rates later found to be excessive.
A report from the Insurance Department last year showed that Allstate Texas Lloyds had a profitable year in 2010 after paying out just 46.5 percent of its premiums to cover losses. The loss ratio for Allstate Fire and Casualty was 49.5 percent. A loss ratio of 60 percent is considered a benchmark for profitability in Texas.
Can you think of any reason you would want to check the Texas state-mandated inspection record of a vehicle? Well, me either, unless you maybe were trying to prove a defendant vehicle had a safety defect that had been reported in the past. It's a stretch, but it gives me an excuse to mention a site I just found called mytxcar.com. You enter a vehicle identification number (VIN) and you get a complete, detailed history of all the inspections that vehicle has undergone.
We would like to think that the medications we take are safe -- protected by government standards from containing harmful ingredients. Unfortunately, that simply is not true these days. Manufacturers of counterfeit drugs are managing to stay a step ahead of the regulators, both in the United States and in other countries. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.
A Reuters article discussed this problem in detail recently. Here are excerpts:
Scrutiny of the supply chain has grown since fake versions of Roche's multibillion-dollar cancer drug Avastin turned up at U.S. oncology practices late last year, sparking an international investigation that so far stretches from southern California back to Turkey with a stopover in a Cairo suburb.
Drug manufacturers, distributors, pharmaceutical security experts and regulators interviewed by Reuters identified vulnerabilities all along the supply chain and called for comprehensive measures to protect patients and punish perpetrators.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that less than 1 percent of medicines available in the developed world are likely to be counterfeit. Globally, however, the figure is around 10 percent, while in some developing countries as much as a third of medicines are estimated to be bogus.
Problems include the lack of a system to track medications as they change hands, loose regulation that allows potential counterfeits to enter the system and a willingness by legitimate distributors and medical practices to look the other way even when medicines appear to come from a questionable source.
"Right now you have a situation where one shady wholesaler can introduce something and that can then pass through multiple actors in the system," said Allen Coukell, director of medical programs at the Pew Health Group who co-authored a report on counterfeit medicines. "Once they've gone outside the legitimate supply chain they can't be sure they're protecting patients."
The fake Avastin contained a variety of chemicals but none of the life-extending medicine. It has so far been traced back to Turkey via an illiterate Syrian businessman who procured it for an Egyptian firm, parties involved in the transactions told Reuters.
WHO said newer technologies are helping counterfeiters produce and sell more convincing fakes.
The drugs were sold in the United States by Montana Healthcare Solutions and Tennessee-based Volunteer Distribution, which are under FDA investigation. The agency named 19 oncology practices that might have purchased counterfeit Avastin.
"The counterfeiters are so good at what they do, and they're so good at making a product that looks real, it's easy for someone to say, 'well, I didn't know, it looked right,'" said Ilisa Bernstein, another FDA official. She added that in some cases they are helped by "willful blindness" on the part of customers.
The Detroit News reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) "said it's opening a preliminary investigation into 360,000 2005-2006 Ford Taurus sedans over complaints of stuck throttles because of cruise control cable detachment. NHTSA said it is has received 14 complaints from Taurus owners that said the engine revved as high as 4,000 RPMs after shifting into park or neutral. Some complaints said owners had trouble stopping the vehicles - and one owner said the vehicle had traveled partially through a red light before it stopped."
Here are more details from the newspaper article:
Ford didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment. NHTSA didn't identify any crashes or injuries related to the issue in its statement.
In a complaint filed Feb. 15, an owner from Hickory, N.C., said "while coasting uphill and approaching my left turn the (2006 Taurus) began to accelerate. I made the left turn while applying a good amount of force to the brake pedal for fear that I would hit mail boxes and homes."
The owner of a 2005 Taurus told NHTSA in November that when stopped at a light the car started to rev "and could not hold on brakes enough to stop moving. Went through red light, around two cars as speed reached about 70 miles per hour. Both feet on brakes. Could smell them burning," the owner wrote. "Please someone make Ford wake up about this problem before someone is killed. I wouldn't feel right trading it in, for fear of someone else getting killed."
In both complaints, the owners said the problem was a disconnected cruise control cable.
Another owner of a 2005 Taurus videotaped the ride home - as the engine revved to 4,000 RPM.
The American Association for Justice and the non-profit group end Distracted Driving (EndDD) have teamed up to engage plaintiff’s lawyers in helping to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving, and to get attorneys involved in the movement to end this dangerous practice. As April has been designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, TTLA is encouraging the membership to get involved and become advocates for safer driving in our Texas communities.
At the 2012 American Association for Justice (AAJ) Winter Convention, more than 60 trial lawyers met to learn about efforts to end distracted driving. It was a message taken to heart. Over 750 trial lawyers have now volunteered to speak in schools across all 50 of the United States and Canada this April during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
The volunteer effort will save hundreds of lives and reach a new generation of drivers who can spread the safe driving message among their peers. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 28 percent of all crashes or 1.6 million crashes each year is caused by drivers using their handheld or hands-free cell phones and texting while driving.
EndDD has set a goal to reach 100,000 students during National Distracted Driving Month, and thanks to the volunteer efforts of trial lawyers and others, that goal may be exceeded.