Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

As America blazes its path towards marijuana legalization, federal agencies and traffic safety experts are worried that the full ramifications of legalizing the once-illicit drug remain unknown. The latest smoke signal that states should study the matter further came out last week when the federal government reported a 6 percent increase in highway crashes across states that legalized the drug. The previous study, which focused on the first three states to legalize the drug for recreational purposes, found a 5.2 percent increase in highway crashes.

Unlike alcohol, where a breathalyzer can easily and objectively determine whether a person is too intoxicated to drive, the push for an objective sobriety measurement for cannabis remains elusive. Currently, the police are able to perform a blood test and locate THC in the blood of the driver, however, because THC can stay in a person’s system for days or even weeks, the test lacks the ability to measure whether the driver was intoxicated while behind the wheel.

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Across the United States, women giving birth are now almost three times more likely to die than they were just three decades ago. In a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States now leads the developed world in maternity mortality. Tragically, the majority of these deaths fall upon poor women and women of color. Perhaps even worse, the study shows that the majority of these deaths are completely preventable. With the increased attention on infant mortality rates in recent years, it appears medical professionals and researchers need to focus their efforts on improving the health of both the pregnant mother and the infant.

The wide-ranging report published by the government agency surveyed nine states to identify the characteristics and causes of maternal deaths, and consequently provide recommendations for reducing the nation’s shamefully high mortality rate. After collecting data from the states, the CDC reports that almost 60 percent of maternal deaths are preventable. The most common causes of death among all Americans were hemorrhaging, cardiovascular and coronary conditions, and infections.

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After a tragic limo crash killed 20 in upstate New York, Senator Chuck Schumer is renewing his call for stronger government regulations and oversight. Similar to other limousine offerings across the country, the Ford Expedition involved in the accident was modified into a limousine by cutting the SUV into two parts and then extended. Safety advocates have long warned that this process requires removing necessary safety features from the vehicle, including airbags and side rollover pillars, and imperils limo passengers. Now the cause of the deadliest traffic accident in a decade, according to The New York Times, transportation safety advocates and politicians are hoping their pleas for oversight will no longer remain unanswered.

According to New York politicians, the stretched Ford Expedition should not have been used on the night of the crash. The limo had repeatedly failed state inspections, including one just last month. The numerous violations included a faulty braking system, which had taken the twenty-passenger Ford Expedition off the road twice. Further, the driver of the limousine, Scott Lisinicchia, did not possess a valid license to operate the limo. Lisinicchia also died in the crash, which killed all seventeen passengers and two individuals parked on the side of the road. Authorities have charged the owner of the limo business with negligent homicide. The business owner pled not guilty and said the DOT deemed the limo roadworthy only a week before the crash and described the Lisinicchia as a “reliable employee” to CNN.

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New York State joined a growing list of states this month when it sued Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, for the company’s role in creating the current opioid crisis. According to New York State, Purdue marketed the prescription pain medication as a more effective and less addictive solution to chronic pain – despite possessing evidence suggesting the opposite. The resulting crisis resulted in the death of 3,000 New Yorkers just last year. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that opioids caused 49,000 Americans deaths nationwide.

According to the lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood, a statewide investigation found that Purdue’s deceptive marketing played an “important role” in the overprescribing of opioids. According to the Wall Street Journal,  more than 75 percent of opioid-related deaths in New York were caused by prescription pain medication, including OxyContin. In other instances, many patients become addicted to opioids through a legitimate prescription and then “graduate” to heroin for its cheaper and stronger high.  New York is suing for an unspecified amount and states the money will go towards funding rehabilitation and prevention programs, with Attorney General Underwood saying, “Our work won’t stop with this lawsuit.”

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Westchester County agreed to pay over $3 million in a lawsuit over the 2015 death of a local bicyclist. The bicyclist, Robert Small, an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital, died after an accident on the North County Trailway. Small, an avid and competitive bicyclist, according to LoHud.com, lost consciousness after biking into a marked pothole. The Briarcliff Manor resident did not regain consciousness and died four days later.

Small’s wife sued Westchester County, alleging that by failing to fill the pothole in the bicycle trail Westchester County acted negligently and caused the death of her husband. Steve Schirm, a surgeon who did not previously know Small, rode his bicycle in front of Small on the day of the accident. In a deposition taking during the trial process, Schirm recalled hearing the doctor yell and turned around to see Small flip over the handlebars of his bike. With one leg still attached to the bike clips, Small then landed head-first onto the ground. Though he was wearing a helmet, Small landed on his forehead.

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In a stunning and tragic case out of Florida, a new mother passed away after four medics allegedly told the woman she could not afford an ambulance ride. The woman, Crystle Galloway, had recently given birth to a son via C-section a few days before the event. According to Galloway’s mother, Nicole Black, Galloway was found slumped over in the bathroom and immediately called 911. According to Black, she told the emergency dispatcher that something was wrong, but that her daughter was still breathing

When the medics arrived later, Black says they told her that Galloway had suffered a stroke. Then, amazingly, told her that she could not afford a ride to the hospital in an ambulance and proceeded to “buckle-up” Galloway in her mother’s vehicle. Speaking to ABC Action News, Black says, “They never asked us if we had insurance, which we do.” She continued, “The whole conversation as the EMS put my child in the car was that was best for us because we couldn’t afford an ambulance. My daughter begged for her life, she begged!”

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According to the National Institute of Highway Safety, August 2 is the most lethal day for driving a car in America – with 505 deaths on the day just between 2012 and 2016. As the most common cause of death in America, car accidents tend to peak in the summer, with three of the five most dangerous days occurring during the warmer weather months. Perhaps surprisingly, Thursday 8/2 is the deadliest day of the week to be driving.

The summer is “prime vacation time,” according to Bloomberg, which reported on the federal government’s study. The first week of August, especially, is the most common time for a family to take a road trip in America. According to the researchers, the increase in travelers on the road is essentially the sole cause of the higher accident rate in August. Anecdotal evidence also shows that “driving habits” tend to be more erratic in the summer months – with no icy, dark roads to fear. Other data indicating that August is the most dangerous month for American drivers? According to Nationwide Mutual Insurance, more motorists report claims in August than in any other month.

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An “enforcement blitz” against speeding motorists is expected over the coming week as New York performs its an annual “speed week.” The initiative, funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, is entering its ninth year in the Empire State. Now an annual tradition, local police stations take to the streets and ramp up enforcement for driver’s disobeying speeding laws.

According to LoHud.com, Westchester residents should not expect any mercy or “warnings” if they are pulled over for speeding sometime in the next week. In fact, the entire slogan for the week is “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine,” according to the state government’s website. Speaking on the topic of “Speed Week”, New Rochelle Traffic Unit Supervisor Detective Sgt Myron Joseph told LoHud.com, “Speeding drivers put themselves, their passengers, and other drivers at tremendous risk. Our goal is to save lives, and we’re putting all drivers on alert – the posted speed limit is the law.”

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Amid a steady decline in pedestrian deaths, New York lawmakers will allow a law allowing speed cameras in school zones to expire this week. According to Mayor de Blasio, traffic deaths have decreased 55 percent in school zones equipped with cameras. Despite its effectiveness and relatively low cost, the Republican-led state Senate refused to renew the program while in session, despite its passing the Democratic-controlled state Assembly

Originally part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero,” the cameras originally went up across the city in 2014. Since that time, over 140 schools have been equipped with speed cameras across the five boroughs, according to NY1.  Hoping the Senate would be recalled from recess to extend the deadline before it reconvenes in January, Mayor de Blasio accused the state legislators of “effectively legalizing deadly driving in New York City school zones,” and failing to “protect New Yorkers.”

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Patient neglect causes serious issues in hospitals throughout the country, including pressure ulcers, falls and medication errors. However, a new company is attempting to gather data about patients using artificial intelligence which will, hopefully, led to fewer patients neglected in hospital rooms. The new sensor from start-up Inspiren is currently on trial at a hospital in Queens.

The sensor, which is roughly the size of a thermostat and possesses a glowing ring, will attempt to accurately report when a patient is “checked on” by a nurse or hospital staff member. While common procedure across the country, “hourly” check-ins by nurses are not uniformly followed when the hospital or staff are busy. The sensor, which is named “iN” will sit on a wall and monitor when a staff member enters and leaves a room. If the “iN” glows green, then the patient has been checked on recently. Unsurprisingly, yellow and red serve as warning signs that a patient may need assistance. Unsurprisingly, iN will come with an app notifying nurses whenever a patient has not been checked on in an hour.

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