In an effort to combat addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will reclassify hydrocodone-based products from Schedule III to Schedule II, making it much more difficult for patients to maintain long-term dependence on these drugs. The DEA first recommended this move more than 10 years ago; however, opposition from physicians, pharmacists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed the rescheduling of hydrocodone and related products for an extended period of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all overdose deaths are due to the use of pharmaceuticals. For patients who experience serious side effects due to prescription drugs, consulting a drug lawsuit lawyer can provide financial support for the recovery process. How Rescheduling Will Affect Patients The reclassification of hydrocodone will go into effect on October 6, 2014, and will limit prescriptions for the medication to 90 days. As a result, patients must visit their health care provider at 90-day intervals to receive a new prescription for these medications. In some states, the ability to prescribe hydrocodone may be limited to licensed physicians only. Nurse-practitioners and physician assistants were previously allowed to prescribe these medications to patients in many areas of the U.S. Some industry professionals believe that the stricter guidelines will lead to increased prescriptions for more powerful pain relief medications and may worsen the addiction problem in the U.S. Others foresee a reduction in addictive patterns among those who require only minimal pain relief to manage their daily activities. Facts about Hydrocodone Hydrocodone is a derivative of codeine and has been used to treat persistent coughs and mild to moderate pain. It is typically combined with another pain reliever, usually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Because the accompanying drugs are usually available without a prescription, some patients may regard hydrocodone-based products as safer or as less addictive than medications that contain oxycodone or codeine. However, the potential for addiction and misuse exists even in low-dose prescriptions for hydrocodone. Alarming Statistics The CDC tracks overdose statistics for a wide range of prescription and non-prescription drugs. According to the data compiled by the agency, almost three-fourths of all overdose deaths are caused by opioid analgesics like hydrocodone. Abuse of prescription opiates is estimated to cost approximately $55 billion in lost productivity, medical costs and prosecution of offenders each year in the U.S. When combined with other drugs, opioid compounds can be even more dangerous. By limiting access to opiate pain relievers, the DEA hopes to reduce the number of overdoses and to reduce the potential for addiction among patients who require long-term pain relief solutions. Preventable Adverse Events The CDC classifies mistakes in prescribing or formulating drugs under the category of preventable adverse drug events (ADEs). According to data collected by the CDC, approximately 700,000 people visit the emergency room each year due to ADEs. Since more than 80 percent of adults in the U.S. currently take at least one medication, the risk of drug interactions and errors in writing or filling prescriptions is considerable. Patients injured through these mistakes can often obtain compensation and help in recovering from their injury from prescription drugs attorneys and firms that specialize in personal injury cases. If you or someone you love has been injured by the use of prescription medications, enlisting the help of a qualified expert can provide you with valuable assistance in navigating the legal process and ensuring that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries and losses. An experienced prescription drug lawsuit lawyer can even the playing field for you and your family in recovering physically and financially from the lasting effects of these serious drug-related incidents.
Hailstorms can wreak havoc on roofs and vehicles and can result in major headaches for Houston homeowners. Understanding these dangerous storms can help you to protect your property more effectively. If your car, truck, home or business has been damaged due to hail, consulting a professional Houston hail damage attorney can ensure that you receive the settlement to which you are entitled from your insurance company. Here are some of the fundamental facts about hail and some tips for managing the insurance claim process more effectively after a damaging storm. What Causes Hail? Hail results from strong updrafts that carry moisture and precipitation into higher, colder areas of the Earth's atmosphere. Water vapor in the air condenses into small droplets at these heights and freezes. As more droplets form, the frozen water forms into irregular ball shapes that grow until their weight exceeds the pressure of the updraft. When this occurs, the hailstones fall downward to the surface of the ground below. Why Does the Size of Hail Vary? Depending on the strength of the winds and updrafts inside a particular thunderstorm, the hailstones may remain in the upper atmosphere for extended periods of time before the force of gravity pulls these ice balls down to the ground. Sudden updrafts can also propel hailstones back up after they have already begun their journey downward, allowing them to collect additional layers of ice that can increase their size to a considerable degree. By contrast, storms with weak updrafts typically produce sleet or small hailstones rather than the large, damaging hail possible in storms with high winds. Dangerous Hailstorms Most hailstorms produce small hailstones between one-quarter and one-half inch in diameter. These small hailstones do not present a serious risk to pets, people or property. Larger hailstones can cause injury or death for those outside during major thunderstorms; however, property damage is a much more common result from major storm systems and hail events.
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) offer added protection for truck drivers and for other drivers on the road. These integrated technologies allow near-instant communication between vehicles and their home bases and can provide added help for truckers in navigating unfamiliar areas. ITS implementations may even reduce the number of 18-wheeler accidents. With more than 400,000 crashes and 5,000 fatalities involving these large trucks annually in the U.S., the need for these advanced technologies is evident. For victims of trucking accidents, an 18 wheeler accidents attorney has experience in these cases and can provide solid representation and real help in obtaining the compensation necessary to treat injuries and recoup costs associated with the recovery process. The Basics of ITS In general, ITS technology provides added safeguards to improve highway safety. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) has sponsored research into a variety of methods for implementing intelligent transportation systems in current and future projects, including the following:
Established technologies could provide added protection for railway workers and the communities through which freight trains travel. Positive train control (PTC) systems provide automated anti-collision features and can slow or stop trains to reduce the risk of crashes and derailments. These systems are designed to protect the safety of rail workers. For those injured in railroad accidents, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) provides a mechanism for obtaining compensation and holding employers accountable for failing to protect workers. Retaining the services of a FELA injury lawyer can help injured employees receive the financial support necessary to manage their recovery and to handle any incidental expenses resulting from these events. Proven Technology for Train Safety Positive train control systems were first recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1970 after a 1969 head-on collision between two commuter trains in Connecticut resulted in four deaths and more than 40 injuries. The NTSB has put PTC systems on its Most Wanted Lists every year with no response from the train industry. Since 1970, numerous collisions, derailments and other accidents have caused death and destruction across the U.S. and Canada. In the opinion of safety experts, many of these tragic incidents could have been prevented if PTC systems had been implemented throughout the railroad industry. Resistance from Railway Companies However, the railroad industry has proven surprisingly resistant to the implementation of these systems. Some factors in this lack of response by rail companies include the following:
In the wake of numerous major and minor oil train accidents across the U.S. and Canada, some states are passing legislation to establish stricter rules regarding railway freight. Both New Hampshire and Minnesota have enacted new regulations governing the transport of oil within their borders, and other states are poised to follow suit in the near future. These regulations will supplement existing federal laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For railway workers injured in the course of their duties, however, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) remains the most effective form of legal protection. Consulting a FELA claim lawyer can ensure that workers receive appropriate compensation for their injuries on the job. A qualified and experienced train accident attorney can negotiate the highest settlement and can ensure that these workers receive the financial support needed to manage medical bills and other ongoing expenses. Changes to Minnesota Law Minnesota's new regulations regarding oil train traffic went into effect on July 1, 2014, and set new inspection and oversight requirements while requiring additional fees and proactive safety planning from railway companies that transport oil within the state:
Semi-trailer trucks made up less than four percent of all vehicles on the road in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During that same year, however, large trucks were involved in eight percent of all U.S. fatality crashes. The state of Texas reported the highest number of fatality accidents involving trucks during 2012 and accounted for 11 percent of all truck crash fatalities throughout the U.S. In nearly all cases, drivers and passengers of the smaller cars and trucks involved in these accidents suffer more serious injuries due to disparities in the size and weight of the respective vehicles. For victims and their families, retaining the services of qualified 18-wheeler accident lawyers can provide valuable support in obtaining appropriate compensation from insurers and trucking companies for injuries and wrongful death events. Risk Factors for 18-Wheeler Trucks Large trucks represent a much greater risk on the road than passenger vehicles, especially when they are carrying full loads of cargo:
Recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) indicates that most railroad companies are seriously underinsured against potential damage and destruction due to oil train derailments or other accidents. The DOT report was released on August 1, 2014, at the same time as the DOT's release of a list of proposed rule changes intended to increase safety and reduce the risk of accidents in the rail industry. Dangerous and deadly train derailments and collisions have reached a critical level in the U.S. and Canada. Establishing guidelines for appropriate insurance levels is critical to ensure that those harmed by the negligence of the railway companies can receive the settlements to which they are rightfully entitled. The U.S. Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) offers protection for individuals who are injured in the course of their duties with railway companies. FELA railroad injury accident lawyers can help injured workers obtain compensation for their medical expenses and damages while holding railroad companies accountable for their failure to protect the safety of their employees. Serious Shortfalls in Insurance Funding According to figures released by the Association of American Railroads in December 2013, more than 400,000 carloads of oil were transported by train last year. This is a significant increase over the 9,500 carloads transported in the U.S. in 2008. The increased risks associated with transporting oil by train have already been felt by a number of communities in the U.S. and Canada:
It may come as a shock to those in Houston and throughout the United States who regularly shop at The Home Depot, but the construction giant has a spotty record of safety violations spanning more than 10 years. According to OSHA, Home Depot USA Inc. has racked up more than 120 safety and health violation citations in the last five years, a figure that home improvement professionals, do-it-yourselfers and the Houston work injury attorney profession alike may want to take note of. One of the most recent serious incidents at a Home Depot store occurred in Chicago, where the company's North Kimball Avenue location garnered six violations in July 2014, resulting in $110,700 of proposed fines. Of the six citations, three were considered serious and two were repeat violations involving powered industrial vehicles. When an employer has previously been cited for a similar or the same violation at any other facility within the previous five years, it is considered a repeat violation. One of the Chicago store's repeat violations, for failing to evaluate forklift operators' performance at least once every three years, was given because Home Depot was cited for the same violation in July 2012 at a store in Douglasville, Ga. The forklift inspection was part of a local emphasis program, designed to reduce injury and fatalities caused by industrial vehicles. OSHA reports that industrial vehicles, including forklifts, were the cause of 105 occupational fatalities between 2005 - 2013 in Wisconsin, Ohio and Illinois. National incident numbers were not available. The three serious violations at the Chicago store involved hazardous working conditions that could result in serious harm to workers, much like the types of incidents a work place personal injury attorney may come across. The Chicago Home Depot apparently failed to provide an emergency eyewash station for those workers who handle corrosive materials. In addition, the store failed to require the use of face, eye and hand protection when workers checked the water or otherwise serviced industrial batteries. OSHA found that these overlooked safety protocols posed a substantial risk of serious physical harm or death. The Chicago store also received a willful violation, which OSHA describes as one that is committed with intention or voluntary disregard for the law and worker safety. The store allegedly failed to remove an industrial truck that was in need of repair from the premises. Repeat safety violations are not new for the Home Depot. In 2012, its Saratoga Springs, N.Y., store was fined $51,480 because items were stored in the working space around electrical equipment panels, restricting emergency access to the panels. The previous violation occurred in 2010 at stores in New Jersey and New Hampshire. Home Depot's history of incidents goes back even further. in 2002, the company was fined a total of $82,940 for 86 separate violations at facilities throughout the country. In addition, between 1999 - 2002, nine workers died at Home Depot stores, some during the construction of new buildings. OSHA did not report if those incidents resulted in a wrongful death in industrial accident lawsuit claim or any other type of litigious action. The 2002 Home Depot violations, much like the more recent occurrences, were wide-ranging, from failing to provide adequate training and protection for employees responsible for cleaning up chemical and fertilizer spills, to improper storage of propane tanks in the path of forklifts. OSHA considers Home Depot a "lumber and building materials dealer" and inspects its stores with that classification in mind. Once Home Depot USA receives its citations, the company has 15 business days to either pay the fines or contest the findings. There are more than 2200 Home Depot stores in the United States, and they employ about 325,000 workers. Despite its history of repeat safety violations, the corporation maintains that worker safety is its highest priority.
The commonly prescribed medication Montelukast® is coming under close scrutiny as consumers increasingly believe that it can trigger Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or SJS. Montelukast® is popular with long-term asthma sufferers and is typically used along with inhaled corticosteroids in adults to lessen the wheezing, coughing, breathing difficulties and chest constriction associated with asthma. Other prescribed uses include ongoing and seasonal allergies, urticaria, and bronchospasm caused by exercise. If you or someone you care about received a diagnosis of SJS after taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication, you contact a pharmaceutical lawsuit attorney to determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit or join a class action lawsuit to receive compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other applicable damages. How Does Montelukast® Work? Montelukast® functions by blocking leukotriene D4 as well as LTC4 and LTE4, two secondary ligands, on a receptor found in the lungs and bronchial tubes. It does so by binding to this receptor, thus decreasing leukotriene-induced constriction in the lungs and calming inflammation. Montelukast® is generally acknowledged to be useful as a long term leukotriene antagonist, although it is not helpful in acute asthma attacks. About Stevens-Johnson Syndrome This life-threatening condition is a severe allergic reaction of the skin and mucous membranes caused either by a medication or an infection. First symptoms are often generic and include fever, fatigue and sore throat; this frequently leads to an initial misdiagnosis. Ulcers and blistering of the mucous membranes soon follow, and the skin develops a rash of lesions. Some children also develop conjunctivitis. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and related conditions like Toxic Epidural Necrolysis are immediate medical emergencies for which only supportive care is available since effective treatments do not yet exist. Failing to Disclose the True Risks Where Montelukast® is concerned, the manufacturers did disclose to the public a range of possible drug side effects, from mild to severe. However, various pharmaceutical manufacturers, including the makers of Montelukast®, are currently under fire for allegedly having prior knowledge of an association between their drugs and an increased risk for SJS and a related condition known as toxic epidural necrolysis, or TEN. These particular associations were not disclosed. The growing suspicion is that these companies knowingly chose not to warn consumers of the association between using their medications and the severe reactions found in SJS and TEN. With any extreme injury from prescription drugs, attorney expertise is often necessary. Numerous individual SJS lawsuits have already been filed against pharmaceutical manufacturers leading to the distinct possibility that class action lawsuits may be the next step. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: Lawsuit or Class Action Lawsuit? A conventional lawsuit is a means of seeking compensation for some wrong that has occurred. The plaintiff and the defendant build their cases by examining all available facts and analyzing the issues involved. What if many individual cases are all based on similar facts and make identical claims? If the defendant is a powerful pharmaceutical company with whole teams of lawyers, each individual bringing suit presumably cannot match that legal firepower. A class-action lawsuit filed by numerous plaintiffs all harmed in similar ways is sometimes the best approach. There is strength in numbers -- the strength that comes from joining with others to ensure that companies who do harm must sit up and take notice of their victims. To find out if you may be eligible to file an individual lawsuit or join a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers of Montelukast or other drugs that cause SJS, you would be well advised to consult a reputable and experienced class action lawsuit lawyer. SJS is a devastating medical condition for which sufferers and their loved ones deserve just compensation.