Yearly Archives: 2009

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should Be Extended

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Setting the scene: Let’s say you’re driving down the road and another vehicle crosses over the yellow line,swerves into your lane and is about to hit you. As you try to avoid getting hit by the other car, you turn your wheel hard to the right and go off the road and into a tree. Your car is totaled and you have injuries. The other car never hit you and sped away. The at-fault driver’s identity is never discovered. Fortunately, a witness traveling behind you saw the whole thing happen and stops to give you assistance.

How do you recover? The at-fault driver’s insurance is unavailable because it’s unknown. If you have uninsured coverage, the insurance company won’t pay the claim because North Carolina law requires, in a “hit and run,” that there be some physical contact from the at-fault vehicle in order for you to recover. The current law is protecting insurance companies from paying claims for single car accidents caused by the driver. But in the case of having a witness to verify the events, the proposed law would allow the described accident to be treated as a “hit and run.” We at Oxner + Permar feel that Uninsured Motorist Coverage should include coverage for the injured person and his or her vehicle any time the victim can prove that another person caused the accident (with a witness, video coverage from a nearby business, etc.)

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Todd Oxner on Board of Directors at WILG

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Todd Oxner recently joined the Board of Directors of the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group (WILG) based in Washington, DC. This non-profit organization promotes the rights of injured workers by joining together plaintiff attorneys across the country. The group shares knowledge and offers support, all in the interest of helping injured workers and their families.

State DDS Jobs Should Be Secure

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Because of action by Vice President Biden, job positions for state disability determination services (DDS) should be stable and free of hiring restrictions and unpaid mandatory leaves of absence. Biden asked Governor Ed Rendell, Chairman of the National Governor’s Association, to urge all US governors not to furlough or downsize their DDS departments. If all DDS personnel are able to continue with their jobs, then social security benefits for the disabled will not be disrupted or delayed. Commission Astrue noted that state-wide reductions would save no money from state budgets because salaries and overhead are self-funded from within the department. With this plea from Vice President Biden, the heavy workload that our country’s DDS program manages for more than 12 million citizens, and the predicted increase in the number of claims, should continue to be handled without concern of DDS employees losing their jobs. And that should keep the system moving along.

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Product Liability Bill News

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The House Commerce Committee has passed Senate Bill 882 Statute of Repose (Product Liability) which extends the statute of repose for damages caused by defective products from six years to 12 years (from date of product purchase). A statute of repose is an end point for pursuing a claim. Generally speaking, an injured party is barred from seeking recovery in a products liability case if the product that causes injury is over 6 years old. This new law, if passed, would extend that period to 12 years. The statute of repose is different from a statute of limitation, which, in North Carolina, states that an injury victim has 3 years from the date of injury to pursue a claim (or 2 years if the injury causes death). Regardless of when the injury occurs, if the product is over 6 years old (or 12 years under the proposed legislation) then you cannot pursue the product liability claim. Understanding the interplay between the statute of repose and the statute of limitations can be difficult. We encourage you to seek legal advice in sorting them out. The bill will now go to the House Judiciary Committee for approval. Hopefully it will become law later this year, and we will keep you updated.

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Medical Malpractice Case Punishes the Whistleblowers

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A recent medical malpractice case involving a doctor in Texas ended up getting the nurses who reported him fired from their jobs and facing possible prison sentences. It’s been reported that the nurses sent patient medical records directly to the Texas Medical Board about the lack of care that the doctor’s patients were receiving from him. They were not granted permission by the patients involved but they felt that the misconduct needed to be reported to the Board anonymously, and only patient record numbers were used. The original complaint which involved a concern for patient safety has turned against the very people who were trying to right a wrong. This case shows how difficult it can be to succeed with a malpractice case against a physician. The tactics used by the defense attorneys will make anyone second guess whether or not a wrongdoing should be reported, and that’s just not right.

This article was written by Chip Permar