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Cleanliness, Infection, Statute of Limitations & Hospital Medical Malpractice

News channel WWLTV reported recently on a Children’s Hospital admittance to a mistake that cost five young patients their lives.  The hospital confirmed that the patients contracted a fatal fungus from bed linens at the facility.  In other words, these wrongful deaths could have been prevented.

Limitations Medical Malpractice

The fungal infection, called mucormycosis, killed the five children five years ago.  Each child was already fighting serious diseases before being infected.  The outbreak stretched over a one-year period between 2008 and 2009.  Since determining the source of the outbreak the hospital has undergone sterilization procedures and thrown out the old linens.  The hospital has also changed linen vendors.

What’s remarkable is that the families of these dead children were not told the cause of the untimely deaths until recently.  In fact, the hospital only apologized to the victims’ survivors this month, after keeping them in the dark for years.

Statutes of Limitations Generally

This delay in information disclosure brings up a very important question for these families: does their only finding out the cause of their loved ones’ deaths at this late date affect their ability to hold those who are responsible accountable for their actions.  This is an issue medical malpractice attorneys deal with in every case.

Laws that set the time limits for when a lawsuit can be brought are called statutes of limitations.  They are different in every state, and are different for every kind of case.  Not all types of legal cases are governed by a statute of limitations.  For example, in many states, the government can bring charges against someone for murder no matter how much time has passed since the crime was committed.  However, in areas of civil law, there is usually some time limit involved.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Florida

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida is governed by state statute.  In most cases, any lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death against a doctor, dentist, nurse, or hospital  arising out of their care for a patient must be filed within two years of the date when the plaintiff (person suing) either knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received written notice of the existence of the injury or death.  There is a limit, however.  Even if the plaintiff does not know about the injury for years, there is an absolute limitation of four years from the date of the malpractice or seven years in unique cases where fraud or intentional misrepresentation is present.

Interestingly, there is an exception in this law for children.  If the person entitled to sue over malpractice is under 8 years old when the malpractice happens, he or she has until their 8th birthday to file suit

What this all means is that the timelines are very short in medical malpractice cases.  If you or a loved one has been wronged or may have been wronged by a medical practitioner or hospital, it is in your best interest to speak with a licensed attorney sooner rather than later. The legal professionals at Fetterman & Associates can educate you on your rights and help you begin filing a claim today. Call us at 561-845-2510 for a free consultation.

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The Heartbleed Mega Bug Threatens Internet Security Worldwide

In recent weeks countless news stories shed light on the so-called “Heartbleed bug” and its pervasive reach threatening internet security and potential ramifications including identity theft. It has been deemed as “catastrophic” by industry experts, but what is it?

Understanding the Danger

The Heartbleed bug works by creating a pathway into security software. Unfortunately, the security software made vulnerable is some of the most widely used protection for sensitive information used on the internet. The software affected is the OPenSSL, a security tool used by web pages everywhere to keep user content and information safe.

Heartbleed Mega Bug Threatens Internet Security Worldwide

To make matters worse, the Heartbleed bug has been around for years already without being detected. Also, use by hackers of the security flaw created by the bug leaves absolutely no trace on computer logs. The Heartbleed bug stands alone in comparison to past web security breaches in its ease of use by hackers, sheer length of existence, scope of applicability, and reach to the four corners of the internet.

Typically when a user is conducting private business online, the information being entered on their computer is encrypted by software. That is when a user would see a little padlock icon in the URL window at the top of the browser. However, that very security layer is what was pierced by the Heartbleed bug.

The pathway created by the bug allows access to user’s personal information like passwords, logins, and content like emails, web history and online banking records. Anything online worthy of encryption is in harm’s way. Over 17 percent of the internet’s secure areas are thought to have been compromised leaving the information that flowed through those sites open to exploitation.

An even more nefarious potential use of the bug allows for imitation of authenticity certificates. This permits thieves to create seemingly safe spaces online, or even impersonate trusted sites.

A Fix to the Problem?

A repaired version of the corrupted security software has been released. However, the true damage has already been done the extent of which cannot yet be estimated.

Arrests have already been made as some hackers have capitalized on the security weakness. However, the actual designers of the bug are still at large. Furthermore, there really is no anticipated extent to the potential damage that could be caused when information already collected is used for illicit purposes.

Experts recommend changing passwords and logins as soon as possible. It is also a wise precaution to check online banking and other online financial tools, like PayPal and stock trading accounts, for discrepancies. Some have even called for staying away from online services entirely until the dust settles.

The real danger of the Heartbleed bug is that victims will not know they have been involved until it is too late. Cleaning up this mess could take years, and who is to blame is still a question that needs an answer. The best thing to be done now is to monitor information to see if you as a internet user have been harmed. If so, take immediate steps including seeking competent legal counsel that is up to date on personal identity theft issues.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by identity theft, please contact Fetterman and Associates and our team of experienced attorneys immediately at 561-845-2510 for a free legal consultation.

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Getting Social Security Disability Benefits May Take Longer Due to Cuts

News is out that staffing cuts at the Social Security Administration (SSA), which occurred during the 2013 fiscal year, will have an impact on those seeking timely hearings. In September 2012, the SSA had 65,113 workers; a year later, that number had been reduced to 62,543. Over the past three years due to cutbacks, the SSA has lost a total of 11,000 employees.

What this translates into is a backup in processing claims on all levels, more pressure on workers, and the chance that decisions regarding your social security disability benefits may not go the right way. The sum effect can be a loss of or delay in getting much needed benefits.

Long Term Disability Applications

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is to be used when someone has a severe disability, physical or mental or both, that lasts 12 months or longer. To qualify for benefits under the program someone has to be unable to perform their job duties and, as a result, they are precluded from earning a living. Workers, who make contributions through their FICA with holdings, fund the program, which is administered by the SSA.

SSDI

Although those who apply for benefits are not required to use a lawyer, an attorney with experience in this area can be very helpful. Many times those who are disabled will file for benefits without legal assistance, but will then decide to use an attorney when they have been turned down initially and are preparing for their SSA review and appeal process.

The entire process of applying for and appealing SSA decisions can take more than a year, for some it can take as much as three years before they receive a final decision. With the reduction in the SSA workforce, the time for the processing of claims is expected to expand.

Good News for the Future

However, there is good news on the horizon. The SSA has reported that they will receive increased funding for FY2014 and expect more funding for FY2015, which means they will be hiring more employees. Although there will certainly be a learning curve involved in training new employees, this is, overall, good news for the future. But presently, the SSA is contending with shortfalls in staffing.

Working with an Attorney

A knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled attorney who has been successful in helping others secure SSDI benefits can be a major factor in expediting your claim and reducing frustration. Your lawyer will know how to best document your disability and present it. They will be able to monitor the progress of your application, provide additional information in a timely mannerthat may be requested by the SSA, and represent your claim in any hearings.

Find Out More

If you believe that you have a claim for a long-term injury and will be seeking help through SSDI, consider working with a lawyer who understands the system and can help make sure that every aspect of your claim meets their criteria. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to guide you through the entire process and will help reduce any problems related to improperly prepared and incomplete applications.

For information on the SSA and SSDI, contact Fetterman and Associates at 561-845-2510 today. We offer a free evaluation of your claim and situation. Fetterman and Associates will protect your rights and work hard to make sure that you have every opportunity to receive the benefits that you deserve.

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Social Security Disability Insurance Waiting Line: 680,000 Have Not Heard About Initial Claim

It was announced recently that at the end of FY 2013 that 680,000 applicants were waiting for a preliminary decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on their request for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. A majority of those who apply for SSDI benefits, which are awarded to those who suffer from long-term physical and/or mental disabilities that preclude them from working, are turned down on their initial application. After being rejected, many decide to utilize the services of a disability lawyer in the appeal process.

Tips on Applying for Disability Benefits

Getting Worse Before It Gets Better

The SSA (Social Security Administration) projects by the end of FY2014, which occurs in September, that the number of people who will be waiting on a first decision could reach 900,000. As noted in an earlier blog, the SSA has reduced its workforce by 11,000 over the past three years, and this has contributed to longer processing times on all levels. For those who decide to apply for disability benefits on their own, delays in receiving benefits can be extended due to common mistakes made by those applicants.

Common Mistakes People Make with SSD Claim

There are various mistakes that people commonly make when they file for SSDI, including still working when applying for benefits or simultaneously filing for unemployment benefits. Remember, SSDI is for those who are suffering from some type of injury that is considered to be long-term, affecting them for 12 months or longer. If you can work or if you are looking for work, which is why one would file for unemployment, then you are negating your need for help through SSDI.

Another common mistake made by applicants is that they decide to not seek medical help for physical or mental problems that are affecting them. A major way in which one proves that they have a disability that’s affecting them is by seeing a doctor for help. Also, it’s important to take medications and undergo any treatments that are prescribed by your doctor.

Finally, applicants will often not check the status of their application, or they don’t adhere to appeal deadlines that are set by the SSA. It’s important to check on your application, as you may discover that it’s being delayed due to the need for you to take some form of action. After having your social secuirty disability claim denied initially, missing your appeal deadline can be devastating, as you’ll lose your ability to qualify for benefits to which you may be entitled.

Why Use a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

An experienced social security disability lawyer will monitor your application, inform you of its progress as it goes through the system, and, if it is turned down in the first stage, represent you throughout the appeal process. They will also ensure that your original application is complete and will work to make sure that you do not make any of the common mistakes noted above.

Many people are concerned about being able to pay their lawyer. The fact is lawyers who work in this area do so on a contingency basis, which means they do not get paid until you do. They receive a percentage of what you are awarded and are paid for expenses incurred while representing your claim.

Related Post and Pages:

DENIED CLAIM FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY

WHO QUALIFIES FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY

Get Answers to Your Questions on SSD

If you have questions concerning your disability, the SSA, and SSDI, then please contact Fetterman & Associates at 561-845-2510 today.  We will setup a free, no obligation consultation, discuss your disability claim, and review the SSDI process. There’s no need to deal with your disability and the SSA on your own. Utilize the services of someone who knows all aspects of the system and who will be a major factor in cutting back on any delays.
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Florida Truck Accidents May Increase Due to Driver Shortages in 2014

So often truck accidents and personal injuries to other drivers and to pedestrians are caused by either truck driver fatigue or inexperience. There’s a problem looming that may cause truck collisions to increase due to both fatigue and inexperience. These include a shortage of drivers and new regulations governing the trucking industry.

Truck Driver Age Issues

Florida Truck Accidents May IncreaseDriver shortages in the trucking industry are related to numerous issues, including the aging population in the U.S. The median age for Americans according to the U.S. census in 2000 was 35.3. In 2010, it stood at 37.2, and the fact is we are not getting any younger. In some regions, it is at 40 years old. Estimates say that since the census in 2010, the population’s median age is close to 39 years.

With an aging population, the number of competent drivers who are able to deal with the physical and mental rigors of driving a commercial truck will continue to shrink.

Shrinking Commercial Trucking Workforce

Another problem has to do with the shrinking labor force in the U.S. This is linked to age, and in terms of fewer truck drivers being available, it is connected to people migrating to white collar jobs and the high tech industry.

Big Rig Truck Driver Turnover Rate

The trucking industry has a high turnover rate. In 2012, during the third quarter, the turnover rate was 104% according to the ­­ American Trucking Association, with some positions seeing a change more than one during that short time. That’s an alarming figure when connected to commercial truck driving accidents where a large percentage of accidents are attributed to driver inexperience.

More 18 Wheeler Drivers Needed

New regulations mean that more drivers are needed, which, once again, may result in drivers who are not experienced enough driving commercial trucks and being put into situations for which they are not ready. New rules have lowered the number of hours of service per week that a driver may put in by 12%. Jobs should be plentiful, but who will fill them and how long will they stay in them? Plus, there are always those times when drivers violate rules concerning hour of service, which does occur.

Florida 18 Wheeler Truck Accidents

Florida, which ships large amounts of produce and various products all over the country, is a major player in the trucking industry. Concerns regarding shortages and a rise in truck accidents and personal injury claims are based on trends, facts, and factors that indicate there will be greater stress and strain on those who drive.

If you have been injured due to a commercial truck driver’s negligence, which may be connected to distracted operation, fatigue, inexperience, or other issues, it’s important to contact an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law. If you have questions concerning injuries and losses associated with a commercial truck accident, contact the Law Team at Fetterman and Associates at (561) 845-2510. You may also contact us by filling out the form on the right side of this page.

We’ll gladly arrange an appointment with our experienced truck accident attorneys where you may ask questions and have your case assessed. If we feel it would be to your benefit to pursue a civil suit, and you would like to do so, we’ll represent you in your personal liability suit.

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13th Annual National Touring Film Festival Coming to Port Saint Lucie

LUNAFEST
13th Annual National Touring Film Festival Coming to
Port Saint Lucie
LUNAFEST®: Short Films By, For, About Women®

LUNAFEST®, the fundraising film festival dedicated to promoting awareness about women’s issues, highlighting women filmmakers, and bringing women together in their communities, will be hosted by Inner Truth Project at 2190 Reserve Park Trace #13 in Port St. Lucie on April 5th, 2014.

This unique film festival highlights women as leaders in society, illustrated through nine short films by women filmmakers. The films range from animation to fictional drama, and cover topics such as women’s health, motherhood, body image, aging, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

All proceeds from LUNAFEST will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and Inner Truth Project. Thus far, LUNAFEST, which is created and funded by LUNA®, The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women®, raised over $656,000 for Breast Cancer Fund and over $1,250,000 for other women’s non-profit organizations.

WHEN: April 5th, 2014
Starting at 4:00pm
Show times: 5:00pm and 8:00pm showing of LUNAFEST Films

WHERE: Inner Truth Project
2190 Reserve Park Trace #13
Port St. Lucie, FL. 34986

TICKETS: $20 general admission $15 student admission
Available to purchase at: www.innertruthproject.org                                 Or email: Kerry.Webster@live.com

CONTACTS: Mindi Fetterman
561-909-9991
innertruthproject@gmail.com
luminaries@scripps.

Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Malpractice Damage Cap

Florida’s highest court recently declared unconstitutional a state law that limited the amount of money plaintiffs could collect for the loss of a loved one due to medical malpractice. The decision, made by a 5 to 2 majority, ruled that the law was an unlawful breach of the Florida Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Malpractice Damage Cap

As discussed by Reuters, the decision revolved around a challenged law that had capped medical malpractice claims at one million dollars. The tort cap was passed by the Republican-led legislature in 2003 and signed into law by then governor Jeb Bush. Ten years ago, supporters of the bill alleged that the limit was required to reduce insurance rates and keep doctors from moving out of state.

The damage award limits applied to situations where a patient died due to negligent care from their healthcare provider, and its existence made Florida one of over 30 states with some sort of ceiling on malpractice claims. Now that the law has been struck down, Florida has joined a group of six other states eliminating such laws.

The Court Opinion

In its decision the Florida Supreme court held “[t]he statutory cap on wrongful death non-economic damages does not bear a rational relationship to the stated purpose that the cap is purported to address, the alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida.” The court reasoned that, “[t]he cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members,”

Regarding the existence of the “medical malpractice crisis” cited by supporters of the 2003 law the court wrote, “even if there had been a medical malpractice crisis in Florida at the turn of the century, the current data reflects that it has subsided.” The court went on to say, “[n]o rational basis currently exists (if it ever existed) between the cap imposed … and any legitimate state purpose.”

The constitutionality of the law came before the court on appeal after a trial judge limited his verdict to be consistent with the cap. The parents of Michelle McCall brought the suit after their daughter died from severe bleeding during childbirth. The original verdict awarded $750,000 to each of Ms. McCall’s parents and $500,000 to Ms. McCall’s son who survived the delivery.

Advocates for striking down the law had argued that caps on damages were “fundamentally unfair to the victims of medical negligence,” according to ABC News. Speaking on behalf of the Florida Justice Association, Debra Harmon said, “when little kids lose their mommy or daddy because of medical malpractice, they’re absolutely victims.”

The Florida Supreme Court’s recent decision does not affect the portion of the law limiting malpractice awards when no death is involved. Although, the question of whether or not that aspect of the law is constitutional is expected to come before the court in the future.

If you or a loved one has been injured by the malpractice of a doctor or other healthcare provider, contact Fetterman and Associates at 561-845-2510 for a free case evaluation today.

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A Local Twelve-year-old Takes on Texting While Driving

Distracting driving is nothing new. For years Florida residents have suffered serious personal injury in auto accidents caused by drivers not paying attention to the road. One innovative and driven Palm Beach County seventh-grader is making headlines while trying to do something about the distracted driving problem.

texting while drivingCalling Out Distracted Drivers

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Mia Evans from Boca Raton is on patrol and looking to curb texting behind the wheel. Her campaign is a simple one. Every morning, when her mother is driving her to school, Mia keeps her eyes peeled for the indicators of texting while driving.

Mia says she spots the tell-tale signs several times every day on the ride to school. She sees drivers looking down at their laps or their steering wheels, as their cars swerve, slow down at the improper times, and pass other cars at unsafe distances.

Once an offender is spotted, the next phase of Mia’s driver safety campaign takes effect. The precocious and community-minded Mia has printed hundreds of posters shaped like stop signs, and she uses them to remind inattentive motorists there are other people on the road. These signs read “Caught Ya! Stop Texting & Driving,” and, apparently, they work. Most people put away their phones after getting busted.

Mia got the idea to combat texting while driving after seeing how upset the problem made her mother. Dedicated to spreading her project outside of her region, Mia has made the signs available to purchase for $5 on her Facebook page so people nationwide who are worried about distracted driving can take advantage of Mia’s strategy. Signs have been sent all over the country, including Texas, Oklahoma, New York, and California. Mia is donating all proceeds from her safety campaign to local charities that shuttle elderly and disabled residents to religious services that they could not drive to without help.

Distracted Driving in Florida – Not a New Problem

For years, the National Transportation Safety Board decried the use of cellphones behind the wheel, even going so far to call the trend an “epidemic” and the “New DUI.” In 2010, NSTB statistics put the number of distracted driving related fatalities at 3,092. This prompted a recommendation that all states ban the use of cell phones by drivers. Additionally, the NSTB urged strict enforcement and awareness campaigns (perhaps like Mia’s) to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving.

The Florida Legislature Took Action

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a texting while driving ban into law. However, some say that the ban does not go far enough to stop reckless behavior on Florida’s roads. The nature of the ban makes texting while driving a secondary offense. This means that officers cannot pull over drivers for texting behind the wheel alone. First, officers must observe a different offense, like speeding, before they have lawful authority to pull over distracted drivers and issue a citation.

Also Read: Distracted Driving: Growing Epidemic On Roadways

Hurt By A Distracted Driver? Talk to a Professional

If you have been injured in a collision by a distracted driver contact Fetterman and Associates at (561) 880-4610 for a free case evaluation.

CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION561-845-2510

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Fetterman and Associates Scholarship Project

Scholarship Project

The Law Team of Fetterman AssociatesPRESS RELEASE

PORT ST. LUCIE – The Law Team of Fetterman Associates, headquartered in North Palm Beach with additional offices in Port St. Lucie and a mobile office, has developed the Scholarship Project to encourage and support local students in pursuit of higher education. This year’s Project is “My Most Influential Teacher.”

The Project is an essay contest students may enter by writing an original essay describing the teacher who had the greatest influence on them. The winners receive a $1,000 scholarship and each winner’s chosen teacher a new IPAD Air. Applications and instructions will be available starting Feb. 10 at www.lawteam.com/scholarship, any Fetterman & Associates office, by sending an email to scholarship@lawteam.com or at the Fetterman & Associates booth at the St. Lucie County Fair Feb. 28-March 9.

“Our children are our future, and education is the key to their success. We wish to encourage everyone in the pursuit of education, and we wish to recognize the teachers who guide them along the way,” said Evan Fetterman. “We are proud to be able to help the winners fulfill their dreams.”

The Scholarship Project will award a $1,000 scholarship to five college-bound high school seniors from these eligible counties: Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie, Okeechobee or Indian River. Completed applications and essays must be received no later than March 31, 2014. Winners will be announced onApril 30, 2014.

The Law Team of Fetterman & Associates is a premier personal injury law firm with over 40 years experience representing the most serious injuries arising out of car and truck collisions and other motor vehicle accidents; as well as injuries resulting from falls on dangerous property or the use of defective products. Whatever the accident or injury, we have the knowledge, skills and experience to get results. Fetterman & Associates, headquartered in North Palm Beach, FL, has additional offices in Port St. Lucie and a mobile office. For more information, please visit www.lawteam.com or contact us at 1-800-330-HELP.

Pharmacy Errors Year in Review

Pharmacy Errors Year in ReviewPerhaps the biggest story of 2013 in the area of pharmacy errors revolved around the fungal meningitis outbreak linked to compounding errors in tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center that caused hundreds of illnesses and dozens of deaths around the country.

In response, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy came down on six compounding pharmacies in four states. Meanwhile, the FDA and state pharmacy boards also stepped up inspections and found an abundance of safety violations at compounding pharmacies nationwide. The crisis culminated in Congress’ passage of the Drug Quality and Security Act, aimed at increasing regulation of compounding pharmacies, although the somewhat toothless reforms may not do much in the end to increase public health and safety. Compounding is the process of preparing a particular medication to meet the needs of specific patients who may have allergies to certain ingredients or require their medications in a particular form.

In other news, the latest Medication Self-Assessment Survey issued by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) revealed an average score of 64% on initial and ongoing training on medication use and safe medication practices to prevent medication error. ISMP is the nation’s only nonprofit organization devoted entirely to the prevention of medication errors and the safe use of medication.

Also in 2013, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) at its Summer Meeting held a session on crisis management to deal with catastrophic medication errors and the fallout in negative media coverage and lawsuits that could follow. Recommendations included having a crisis management team at the ready, including the hospital’s chief public relations officer and legal counsel on the team, among others.

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