Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Medical Failure to Properly Detect and Treat Fetal Distress

Fetal distress is a medical term used to describe the warning signs a fetus exhibits when potentially experiencing a health crisis, either shortly prior to, or during, delivery. These warning signs can develop rapidly, and if a mother and her unborn child are not carefully monitored throughout delivery, fetal distress signals can go unnoticed. Often, these warning signs are treated with birth-assisting tools—like vacuum extractors and forceps—or with cesarean sections.
Fetal Distress Can Happen
Several factors can lead to fetal distress, such as:

  • Dangerous presentation or positioning of the fetus during delivery
  • Multiple births (e.g., twins, triplets)
  • Shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder catches on the mother during delivery)
  • Nuchal cord (when the umbilical cord wraps around the fetus’s neck)
  • Prolapse of the umbilical cord (when the umbilical cord precedes the baby)
  • Complete or incomplete uterine rupture (when the uterus tears during delivery)

The Warning Signs of Fetal Distress
There are a range of warning signs that can indicate that the fetus may be in distress during the delivery process. These warning signs include:

  • When the fetus exhibits decreased or irregular movement inside the womb
  • When the fetus exhibits either an increased or decreased heart rate (especially during maternal contractions)
  • When the fetus’s blood shows increased lactate levels, which can indicate lactic acidosis
  • When the amniotic fluid indicates the presence of meconium (the infant’s first stool)

Monitoring for Fetal Distress
The most common method for determining fetal distress during labor (or before) is through fetal heart monitoring (FHM) and careful regulation of uterine contractions. The steady heart rate of a fetus provides a strong indication that the infant has proper blood flow and good overall health. Medical protocol generally dictates that the fetus’s heart rate be checked and recorded every 30 minutes. This consistent monitoring can aid in pinpointing fetal heart-rate changes that can indicate fetal distress. Heart-rate monitoring can be done in a variety of ways, in a variety of birth settings, and with a variety of different monitoring tools.

External Fetal Monitoring

External fetal monitoring records the fetal heart rate by measuring it through the mother’s abdomen. The most basic of these devices is the fetoscope, which is a stethoscope that is specialized for the purpose. A more complex handheld electric Doppler device that provides an ultrasound is another form of external monitoring.

Internal Monitoring

Internal fetal monitoring involves using a wire electrode that is normally attached to the fetus’s head through the mother’s cervical opening. The strength of the mother’s contractions can also be effectively measured by a device that is inserted into the uterus. One such device is the tocodynamometer, which is a pressure-sensitive monitor that measures a contraction’s frequency, length, and strength. At the same time, it measures the fetal heart rate in relation to the contraction, which is another means of identifying fetal distress.

Early Fetal Stress Test

While most fetal stress tests are performed during (or just prior to) delivery, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that a Fetal Non-Stress Test (NST) be performed after 28 gestation weeks. This test is comprised of two external monitoring belts that detect both fetal heart rate and maternal contractions relative to fetal movement. The results of the NST indicate whether the fetus has adequate blood flow and is receiving adequate oxygen; both of these are essential to the prevention of fetal distress.

Recognizing Fetal Distress

The symptoms of fetal distress are the signs that alert medical professionals to potential issues with the fetus’s oxygen supply. Fetal distress can come on suddenly—even during a healthy pregnancy—and the health of both the mother and the baby are dependent on how well the members of the medical team monitor and react to this distress. The team members’ abilities to recognize the warning signs of fetal distress and to respond accordingly are paramount to a healthy delivery. If the medical professionals fail to recognize and promptly respond to fetal distress, the newborn’s health—and sometimes the mother’s health—can be jeopardized.

Treating Fetal Distress

Fetal distress, if left unchecked, can lead to dire health consequences. It is essential that the expectant mother and her unborn child be carefully and properly monitored throughout delivery. Competent medical professionals carefully monitor for fetal distress and have the experience and skill to immediately respond in a manner that minimizes the detrimental health effects and maximizes the safety of the mother and her unborn child.
Consequences of Fetal Distress

Fetal distress that is not correctly monitored, recognized, and handled can have catastrophic consequences for your newborn and family. In fact, birth injuries are often physically, financially, and emotionally damaging. Birth injuries caused by improper detection can lead to lifelong physical and cognitive disabilities. The effects can be overwhelming for the entire family, and children who suffer from birth injuries can require a lifetime of ongoing medical treatment, accommodations for special needs, and highly specialized caregiver and daily-living services.

The potential consequences of undetected or improperly treated fetal distress are so significant that you should seek immediate legal counsel if you are concerned that medical negligence may have caused your child’s birth injury. As difficult as your situation is, it is essential that you act quickly. Determining fault in a birth injury case is complicated, and your skilled birth injury attorney must immediately begin collecting evidence, interviewing your medical team and medical experts, and determining fault in your child’s birth injury case.
Consult with a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Lawyer Today
Despite modern medicine and advanced medical training, birth injuries still happen, and they are sometimes the result of medical negligence. Medical negligence, however, is not always obvious. If your baby suffered a birth injury, contact a skilled birth injury lawyer as soon as possible after discovering the injury. The experienced St. Petersburg birth injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are dedicated to protecting the rights of birth injury victims, and we are here to help. We have the experience, skill, and commitment to bring your birth injury case to its best possible resolution. Please contact or call us at 727-222-6922 for a free consultation today.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Monday, August 21, 2017

Slip and Fall Accidents: The Basics

slip and fall basics

At some point in all of our lives we have slipped and fallen for one reason or another. Usually it's because we weren't watching where we were going and slipped due to our own carelessness. But sometimes, slip and falls are caused by another person’s negligence. Imagine a scenario where you are visiting a grocery store and slip and fall because a store employee left a banana peel on the floor. This is the classic slip and fall case involving a commercial property. This article will walk you through the basic elements of a slip and fall case and what your attorney will be looking for when they evaluate your potential claim.

Was there a duty owed by the business?

It is important to establish that the person you are claiming caused your injury actually had a duty to protect you. A duty exists when a business owner owns, controls, or operates a business and consumers are invited onto that premises to conduct business. A business owner owes a duty to these customers to make sure that the premises are in a safe condition. If a business owner or employee fails to keep the premises clean and free of noticeable dangers, they may be found to have breached their duty to their guests, and that is when they could potentially face liability.

Was the store aware that the situation existed?

This is called the “notice” requirement. Was the store either actually aware that the condition existed or constructively aware? A store is actually aware when they discover the banana peel themselves and fail to take any action. If someone tells the store or a store employee about the banana peel they are also on actual notice of the condition. Constructive notice can be established when a plaintiff can prove that the store failed to regularly inspect the premises when they know that it is likely that a spill could occur. If they know this probability is high, and they fail to take steps to inspect, they are said to be on constructive notice that a dangerous condition could be present.

Did the store breach their duty to keep the premises safe?

As discussed above, a business owes a duty to its customers to keep the premises in a safe condition. This duty is breached when they are put on either actual or constructive notice that a dangerous condition is present and they fail to take action to remedy the situation. If a business is aware that the banana peel is on the floor and they decide to ignore that notice and fail to pick it up, and someone slips on that banana peel, they have breached their duty to their guests. Likewise if a business fails to actually regularly inspect the business for dangerous conditions knowing that there is a chance one could appear at any time, they have breached their duty to regularly inspect and could be liable.

Were your injuries caused by the stores breach?

So you slipped and fell on the floor after you stepped on the banana peel, does that mean your case is automatically worth a million dollars? No. Most people do not realize that you must be able to point to an actual injury which was caused by that slip and fall. This is known as the causation element. In order for you to claim damages, you must be able to show that the injuries you suffered were either caused by the slip and fall, or were preexisting conditions which were actually aggravated by the slip and fall. An aggravated injury is one in which an old wound once again surfaces and begins causing pain again. If you can show that your injury was caused by the slip and fall, or that a preexisting injury was aggravated by the fall, you stand a better chance of being compensated for your injuries.

Contact an experienced attorney for your slip and fall case

The personal injury attorneys of the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating slip and fall claims. They fight hard to protect Clearwater residents from injuries and ensure that they are fairly compensated when injuries do occur. Whether your slip and fall injuries were caused by the negligence of a grocery store or other kind or business, our experienced team has the legal expertise to ably handle your claim. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will protect your right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.

-Geoffery Pfeiffer

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

Umbilical Cord Problems Can Lead to Birth Injuries

Assisting Clients Who Have Been Affected by Birth Injuries Due to Medical Negligence

The umbilical cord is the lifeline from a mother to the child she is carrying. Without the umbilical cord, a baby would not receive blood, oxygen, or nutrients. The baby also would not be able to eliminate waste. The umbilical cord cannot be safely clamped and severed until after the baby is delivered; otherwise, the baby will not survive.

Due to the importance of the umbilical cord, you can likely imagine how dangerous it can be when a problem arises involving this cord. When certain umbilical cord issues arise, they must be addressed as soon as possible to prevent any injuries that can result from cutting off the baby’s oxygen or blood supply. In some situations, however, doctors fail to properly diagnose umbilical cord problems that they should have noticed. In such situations, unnecessary and preventable birth injuries may occur.

Having your child sustain an avoidable birth injury is a traumatic experience that will likely affect your family for years to come. Many financial and intangible losses can result from a birth injury. If your doctor’s negligence was to blame for the injury, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. The birth injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group regularly represent clients in medical malpractice claims and can help you after a birth injury in your family.

Umbilical Cord Issues that Should be Addressed

The following are some examples of problems that may arise involving the umbilical cord. These should be properly diagnosed and addressed whenever possible. Each doctor should have specific methods of addressing these umbilical cord problems should they present a risk to your child:

-Nuchal cord The nuchal cord is one of the most commonly-seen problems. It happens when the cord becomes wrapped around the neck of the infant. When the cord is wrapped loosely, there is little danger; however, if the cord is wrapped tightly around the infant’s neck, she may be deprived of oxygen and suffer brain injuries, cerebral palsy, or other birth injuries as a result.

-Umbilical cord prolapse - This happens when the umbilical cord passes through the

cervix in the labor and delivery process before the infant. When the infant follows, his head and body can compress the cord, or the cord can become wrapped around him. If not detected and addressed quickly, this can lead to severe oxygen deprivation and related birth injuries.

-Knots in the umbilical cord - Loose knots can form in the umbilical cord during pregnancy because of the way a baby moves around. However, during a traditional delivery, a loose knot can become tightened and constrict the cord, preventing adequate oxygen and blood flow from reaching the child during a sometimes long delivery.

-Cysts on the umbilical cord - Different types of cysts can develop on the umbilical cord early on in a pregnancy. If properly detected, these cysts can be treated relatively easily. However, if not diagnosed and treated, umbilical cord cysts can result in birth defects.

-Umbilical cord stricture - While one of the rarest issues, this is perhaps the most frightening of the umbilical cord problems. This is because it is not known why it occurs and it can happen to anyone during pregnancy. When the umbilical cord narrows, it can cause severe fetal distress and, if the condition is not diagnosed immediately, it can often result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Many umbilical cord problems happen on their own and there is nothing that even the best doctors could do to prevent them. However, a doctor should identify that there is an issue with the umbilical cord as soon as possible and take any steps necessary to reduce the risk of injury to a child.

If an infant is injured by an umbilical cord problem and there was no way to prevent the injury, a doctor will not be held legally at fault for that injury. However, if a doctor failed to diagnose an umbilical cord issue or did not take the appropriate measures to prevent injuries, the doctor may then be held legally liable for any birth injuries that occurred under Florida law.
The Birth Injury Claim Process
If your child was injured at birth and you believe your doctor’s mistakes may be to blame, you should discuss what happened with the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Our attorneys will use our resources to evaluate your situation and determine whether medical malpractice occurred and whether you have a valid claim.

Birth injury cases may either be resolved through a claim with the doctor or hospital’s insurance company, or by filing a lawsuit in civil court. In either situation, it is critical that you have an experienced birth injury law firm on your side to represent you through every step of the process. Our attorneys understand the complex insurance and legal negotiations and will seek to resolve your case in the most favorable way possible.
Find Out How Our Experienced St. Petersburg Birth Injury Attorneys Can Assist You
Umbilical cord problems are only one of many different things that can go wrong during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. This should be a joyous time for your family and should not be marred by a birth injury that resulted in significant losses and trauma to your child. Doctors should be living up to their expected standard of care and doing everything in their power to protect both infants and mothers from birth injuries.

The legal team at the Dolman Law Group knows that unfortunately, birth injuries do happen on a regular basis in South Florida. Our birth injury lawyers understand the pain you have been experiencing and are here to help you by representing your rights. To learn more about the many ways we will assist you in seeking compensation for your losses, please call our office at 727-222-6922 or contact us online to set up a free consultation today.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Role of Property Damage in a Personal Injury Claim

My clients are always surprised to learn the important role that vehicle property damage plays in a personal injury case. Specifically, the amount of property damage to the car can be critical. 

I suppose this line of thinking is understandable.

Imagine you have been in a car crash. You are hurt, you feel pain in your neck and back or maybe your arms and legs. You know you are injured. You go to the hospital and are seen by a doctor. Perhaps they run some tests, prescribe some medication, and send you on your way. You follow up with your primary care physician or the hospital-recommended physician and, due to your continued pain complaints, they recommend you begin physical therapy or chiropractic care. Eventually, someone recommends that you contact an attorney to pursue a personal injury case. You don’t want to be one of those “people who sue everyone,” but you figure you might as well meet with the attorney just to be safe. You get to the meeting, you tell the attorney about your pain and the crash and then he or she asks you about the damage to your vehicle.

It's understandable to be confused as to the relevance of this question; afterall, you're the one in pain, not the car.

Elements of Causation

There are four elements to any personal injury case: duty, breach, causation, and damages. 

To win a personal injury case, a Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant owed a duty to the Plaintiff to exercise reasonable care. 

Then, the Plaintiff must prove:

  • that the Defendant breached said duty (these two elements are often rolled into one overarching element called liability);
  • that the breach of said duty was the cause of the Plaintiff’s injuries;
  • and to what extent the Plaintiff was damaged by the Defendant. 
The damages element can include outstanding medical bills and the ever-famous pain and suffering. Of course, there are potentially other pieces to this element, but these are the most commonly claimed and/or asked about by clients.

While insurance companies will fight a personal injury case on any issue that they can (reducing or denying a claim), one of the go-to tactics of the Defense bar is to argue that the crash in question was simply not severe enough to cause the injuries that the Plaintiff is claiming. I often find that this line of thought perplexes my clients. 

They know that they are in pain and they know they didn’t feel this way before the crash. They have seen a doctor that has related their pain to the crash, and they’ve probably even had some diagnostic testing performed that revealed an objective injury of some kind. It doesn’t matter to them that a body shop repaired their vehicle for less than $1,000; they know that they are injured and that the car accident caused it.

However, the reality is that if the Plaintiff and the Defendant can’t reach a settlement on out of court, at some point the case will go to trial before a jury. That jury will consist of six people who do not know the Plaintiff, the Defendant, or any of the attorneys. 

In cases where the property damage is minor or non-existent, the Defense will blow up large photographs of the damage, show them to the jury and ask if they believe that the accident that caused such little damage to the Plaintiff’s car could have caused the injuries the Plaintiff is claiming. This is a powerful tactic and it is quite often successful, mostly because it's a simple logical step for a layman to make from “small damage to the vehicle to small damage to the person inside.” 

While there is some science that rebuts this line of thinking, it's often not strong enough to defeat the typical jurors’ own logic. Essentially, in these cases, injury attorneys are having to ask jurors, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

That is why finding out as much information as possible about the extent and status of a potential client’s property damage is vital to the building of a personal injury case. As with anything, the sooner your attorney knows about a potential issue or pitfall to a case, the sooner they can start building the case to rebut the arguments they know the defense will make.

Experienced Representation for your Personal Injury Claim

The personal injury attorneys of the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating personal injury cases. They fight hard to protect Florida residents from insurance companies and ensure that their clients are fairly compensated when injuries occur. Whether your injury was caused by a car accidentworkplace accidentslip and fall accident, or medical malpractice, our experienced team has the legal expertise to ably handle your claim

Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will protect your right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.