Yearly Archives: 2015

Why does the adjuster have to get a second opinion when her own doctor has recommended surgery?

Workers' Compensation

She shouldn’t, but under the current set of laws there really isn’t much of a limit to what the adjuster can request. It rarely works to simply refuse to attend a second opinion. On the other hand we’ve had some success convincing the Industrial Commission that the adjuster is abusing her privileges. And under a law which escaped revision by Gov. McCrory if an adjuster wants a second opinion on a surgical recommendation she must move quickly. While the Industrial Commission generally grants additional time the law requires that the second opinion be scheduled (but not necessarily completed) within ten days of the original recommendation for surgery. We are very aggressive about scheduling expedited hearings over this issue.

Can the adjuster really send me halfway across the state to see a different doctor?

Workers' Compensation

Sometimes, and, if they can get away with it. A while back a well-known neurosurgeon based in Raleigh spoke at a closed-door meeting with adjusters at a meeting sponsored by a law firm, which represents mostly insurance companies and employers. During the course of his presentation he stated that he believed a lot of injured workers underwent unnecessary surgeries and ended up being out of work longer than necessary as a result. What happened next? Clients who lived in Mount Airy, in Lexington, even in Charlotte were being sent to him for second opinions.

This happens more often than you would believe. In this particular case we objected to the Industrial Commission. The defense attorney, coincidentally a partner in the firm that sponsored the private meeting, argued that the law regarding second opinions didn’t require that the doctor be fair or neutral. The only limitation was in terms of geographical reasonability. The Industrial Commission seems to have bought into this theory. Your best defenses against a second opinion are that it’s too far away and that the adjuster has already had a couple of second opinions. At some point the adjuster has to concede that she’s only shopping for an opinion that she wants to hear and isn’t really looking for sound medicine anymore. While that seems patently obvious to some people it’s considered bad form to admit to it when you’re at the Industrial Commission.

To be fair, we have our own lists of doctors as well. One advantage of our law firm is that we’ve been keeping records and notes on doctors, adjusters, rehabilitation nurses, etc., for years now. We know which ones tend to unnecessarily favor the employers and insurance companies and we know which ones put their patient’s interests first. So when it’s our turn to pick a doctor we know who we’ll recommend.

What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage – and do you really need it?

Personal Injury

In North Carolina, motorists are required to buy automobile liability insurance with limits of only $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident to protect others from their carelessness. Because it’s all that is required, that’s all most people have. That means that most drivers on our highways have policies that will pay, at most, $30,000 for each person injured by that driver’s carelessness, and no matter how many people are injured, the most that the driver’s insurance company will pay is a total of $60,000. If you have been to the doctor’s office or the hospital you know how expensive modern medicine is, and it’s easy to understand that $30,000 is not a lot of money, medically speaking. Moreover, people injured in automobile collisions may be out of work and have lost wages and other expenses. It is easy to see that the insurance required in North Carolina can be woefully inadequate to compensate those injured by inattentive drivers. Fortunately, there is a way motorists can protect themselves from careless drivers who have only minimum limits policies. It’s called Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.

UIM is insurance you purchase. It pays you if you are injured by another driver when that driver does not have enough liability insurance to compensate you for your injuries. UIM coverage is purchased through your insurance agent along with your insurance policy. North Carolina law requires insurers to provide UIM to drivers who purchase policies with liability limits greater than the minimum limits of $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident. So, if you buy an auto policy with liability limits of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident, for example, you automatically will receive UIM coverage in the same amount.

On its face this makes no sense – the accident wasn’t your fault, why should your own insurance company have to pay? Well, this is the world we live in! One of the hardest parts of my job is telling a client that the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance to pay the bills and the client has no UIM coverage to cover the shortfall. The only prudent way for drivers to protect their families is to purchase UIM insurance – and lots of it. I recommend everyone get the maximum, $1,000,000 per person/$1,000,000 per accident. And as far as insurance goes, UIM is quite inexpensive.

Don’t wait to be injured by a driver with a small insurance policy. Talk to your insurance agent about UIM coverage today.

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Failures and Bard’s Cover Up: Part 1

Uncategorized

As many as 250,000 Americans are implanted with IVC Filters every year, making it one of the most popular medical devices in the country. These small, spider-like nets are implanted into a patient’s blood stream as a filter to prevent dangerous blood clots from traveling to the heart and lungs.

However, these devices come at a deadly cost. A recent NBC News investigation revealed that as many as 27 deaths have been associated with the Recovery Filter, manufactured by medical giant CR Bard. We’ve posted the NBC News video at the bottom of this page for your convenience.

Worse, after learning of the damage its product was causing, Bard never took steps to make the product safer or remove it from the market. Instead the executives at Bard turned to Hill and Knowton, the masterminds behind big tobacco’s media strategy. Together, the two companies formulated a plan to downplay the risks of the Recovery Filter and mislead the public in order to protect share prices. Bard also commissioned a confidential study that revealed the serious risk of filter fracture, migration within the blood stream and death but, again, did nothing to remedy the problem.

Bard’s scheme of misinformation was so successful not even doctors were aware of how deadly IVC Filters could be. This put patients like Dodi Froehlich, a 45-year-old mother of two, perilously close to death. In 2004, she was implanted with Bard’s Recovery Filter following a car accident. Several months after it was implanted, she was rushed to a hospital after her heart stopped beating. Doctors had no choice but to perform emergency surgery to remove a metal shard which had broken off from the filter and migrated to her heart.

Now, there are thousands of patients implanted with IVC Filters walking around every day. Many have already been injured. If you or a loved one suffered injury because of a defective IVC Filter, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Us to Learn More!

This article is part one of Oxner Permar + Richardson’s series on Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters.

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Failures and Bard’s Cover Up: Part 2

Uncategorized

We already know that IVC Filters are dangerous. We also already know that the manufacturers knew of the dangers but did nothing to protect the public. But did medical giant CR Bard, in order to obtain approval for their product, go so far as to forge a doctor’s signature on an application to the FDA?

Shockingly, that’s exactly what the second part of an NBC Nightly News investigation into IVC Filters revealed. Watch the video at the bottom of this page to see the signatures for yourself.

In 2002, Bard’s initial application for approval of the Recovery Filter was denied by the FDA. As part of its second attempt, Bard hired Kay Fuller, a senior regulatory affairs specialist, to assist with the application. Fuller brought her concerns to Bard officials and requested additional information after a clinical trial highlighted the product’s potential dangers. But instead of remedying the problems or giving Fuller the data she requested Fuller says Bard officials threatened to fire her if she didn’t stop asking questions.

Fuller refused to sign off on the application and left the project. Yet somehow her signature appeared on a critical FDA filing.

“That signature’s not mine,” Fuller told NBC, adding that she had no knowledge that her signature was included until recently. The FDA declined to comment on NBC’s report and Bard officials refused to be interviewed.

The NBC story also put a human face on the deeply tragic consequences of Bard’s greed. Gloria Adams, 55, was implanted with a Recovery Filter after suffering a brain aneurism. A week into her recovery a piece of the filter punctured her heart, killing her.

About 250,000 filters are implanted every year and many are never removed. If you or a loved one have been injured by an IVC Filter, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us to find out more.

This article is part two of Oxner Permar + Richardson’s series on Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters.