How you initially respond to a Board of Nursing investigation may determine if you get sanctioned, or lose your license.

What not to do when you hear from the Board of Nursing:

Do NOT ever take a Board investigation lightly. You have worked hard to get your license and
most probably, your livelihood depends on your practice. The Board can take your license away.

Do NOT ignore a Board investigation. Regardless of what you think the merit of the complaint
is, take it seriously and remember that the Board’s job is to protect the public.

Do NOT assume that your innocence will be acknowledged. Never assume the complaint
lacks merit, and that as soon as you explain to the Board, it will be dismissed or forgotten.

Do NOT respond to a letter from the Board unless you have consulted with an attorney. Even
better, have the attorney respond to the Board rather than you.

Do NOT ever meet with the Board investigator without legal representation. Meeting with
an investigator without your attorney can be the single most professionally dangerous error you
can make. The reason to have an attorney present is she can protect your rights to respond to
certain questions, so you do not unknowingly incriminate yourself.

Do NOT assume that lack of harm to a patient will end the Board inquiry. You must
understand that the Board will focus on whether you operated below the standard of care or not
and not on harm to a patient.

What to do when you hear from the Board of Nursing:

Contact your malpractice insurance carrier as soon as you hear from the Board of Nursing
that you are being investigated. It is the smart thing to do and is often required by your policy.

Contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately who has dealt with the Board of Nursing
before on similar issues. When it comes to the Board of Nursing, not just any attorney will do.
I have represented many nurses in front of the New Hampshire Board of Nursing.

Prepare for the long run focus on self-care. Being under investigation by the Board of Nursing
is highly stressful. It also can take a long time to resolve.

Look for employment. The Complaint and the investigation process are confidential. You are
not required to inform any potential employer of the Board of Nursing Complaint until the Board
has decided if the Complaint needs them to take action beyond an investigation. This is, of
course, if your license has not been immediately suspended.

Understanding Your Car Insurance

There are over 250 million registered cars in the United States. Of those cars, an average of 4 million are involved in an accident that results in property and bodily damage. Not only will car insurance help reduce the costs in the case of an accident, but it will also help reduce your liability.

At the Law Office of Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N., we often see issues arise when an individual thinks they are completely covered by their policy, but actually have poor coverage. This can end up costing them more in the long run.

When deciding on a car insurance policy, most people automatically get the most affordable option but fully understanding your car insurance and what it covers is important.

Your Insurance Policy

When reading through your car insurance policy, you will notice it is divided into sections. Each section details the coverage, rights, and obligations of the policy and any exclusions. Some of the sections that will be outlined may include liability, medical payments, uninsured/under-insured motorists, and damage.

Declarations Page

There will be a declarations page in your policy, which identifies your policy number and all of the vital information you need regarding your policy, such as the policy term and coverage limits. It will also give a description of your vehicle(s) that is under the insurance policy.

What is Covered?

Car insurance is grouped into two primary groups: liability and property damage.

Liability – This section is broken down into three parts: liability insurance for bodily injury; liability insurance for property damage; and uninsured/under-insured motorists’ coverage. Injury liability protects against the claims of people that are injured when you are at fault. Property damage liability insurance pays for damage to the property of others.

Comprehensive – This section includes collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance pays for your car’s damage, while comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your car due to other causes, such as fires, severe weather, and vandalism.

Medical Payments

Medical payments are purchased by you to help with the medical bills of anyone injured in your car regardless of who is at fault.

I would be happy to discuss what the appropriate coverage for you and your family should be.

If you’ve been in a car accident and were injured, Nurse Attorney Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N. is here to support you. Contact us today at (603) 647-7200 to get started.

Please Stop Vaping

The popular activity of smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, is on the rise.  But the risks may significantly outweigh any benefit as this new trend has resulted in users reporting serious coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in October of 2019, over 1,400 cases of vaping related illnesses were reported across 49 states, except Alaska.  33 of these patients died.  These statistics are growing each day. 

While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Vitamin E have been reported to be a common ingredient in each of these cases, the CDC is advising that all consumers refrain from using all forms of e-cigarettes and vaping products until the exact cause of these illnesses can be determined.  What’s alarming is that regulatory bodies such as the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are still investigating these products.

No age group has been immune from these symptoms.  In fact, 15% of these cases affected users under 18 years old; 21% of the cases affected users between 18-20 years old; 18% of the cases affected users between 21-24 years old; 25% of the cases affected users between 25-34 years old; and 21% of the cases affected users 35 years of age, and older.  New Hampshire had a lower incident rate, reporting under 10 cases, however, just south of us between 10-49 cases were reported in Massachusetts. 

While vaping remains a popular activity across all age groups, it is important to remember the risks that have a direct correlation with this activity.  For your own health and safety, it is likely a safe choice to stop vaping and to encourage others to do the same.

Nobody Wants Their Tombstone to Read: “This Bicyclist Had The Right of Way”

Spring is finally here, which means bicyclists are on the roads again for exercise and recreation. This year, there actually may be more cyclists due to the COVID 19 health pandemic. As more COVID 19 restrictions are lifted, many motorists will once again be sharing the roads with bicyclists. It is important to review some of the rules and rights for bicyclists.

First, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle operator, they must follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists must stop at all stop lights, stop signs, and yield to pedestrians. They should signal to other traffic before making turns. They can ride two abreast, so long as they are not impeding traffic, but when the road is narrow bicyclists must ride in single file.

Second, New Hampshire law does require that cyclists stay to the right side of the road, but a cyclist does not have to remain there—especially if there are pot-holes, debris, unsafe storm drains, or any other obstructions in his or her way. If there is an issue with the right side of the road, then a bicyclist can merge with traffic to enter a turn lane. Just because there is a bike lane, it doesn’t mean that a bicyclist has to remain in it.

Third, although a helmet is not required for any bicyclist over 16 years of age it is a very good idea to wear one as bike verses car collisions are bound to happen. And when these collisions occur, they usually result in serious bodily injury or even death to the bicyclist. If you are a bicyclist who is struck by a car it is important to follow these steps: 1. Make sure the police are called. Police officers will generally interview witnesses and take photographs. If the motorist is at fault, the officer will also assign them a citation and note it in the report. 2. Make sure that the scene is preserved. Do not let anyone move your bike and do not let the motorist move their car. Do everything you can to ensure a photograph is taken of the scene in case there is a liability dispute—because there often will be. Ask the responding officer to take photographs. 3. Go to the hospital. Even if you do not think you are injured, when the adrenaline wears off you might find that you have suffered more injuries than you realize. It is important to seek immediate medical treatment, both for yourself and to avoid insurance adjusters claiming that you weren’t injured in the collision. When you are home and healing: 4. Take photographs of your broken bike, helmet, torn clothing, and your injuries. You are entitled to be paid for any property that is damaged. 5. Contact an attorney. If you have been injured while riding your bike due to the negligence of a motorist, contact me, Attorney Smith for a free consultation. I can help you manage your claim so you can focus on healing. I can help preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Finally, remember that you, as a bicyclist, are a vulnerable road user. While you have the right to be on the road, it is important to ride with vigilance and caution. Nobody wants to have your tombstone state, “He had the right of way.”


HAND SANITIZER DANGER FOR CHILDREN There were 5,157 cases of hand sanitizer “exposure” such as swallowing involving children 12 years of age and younger reported to U.S. poison control centers in the first three months of 2018. Most children who get a “taste” or a “lick” of hand sanitizer experience only mild symptoms, if any, and can be safely managed at home with the assistance of the Poison Center. Hand sanitizer taste bad and can result in a burning sensation, so most children will not swallow an amount large enough to produce symptoms. However, there are children who will drink anything, no matter how bad it tastes – and in those cases alcohol poisoning can result. The same thing can occur if mouthwash or perfume is swallowed. The bottom line is – hand sanitizers are beneficial for killing germs on hands and like all potentially poisonous items, they should be stored out of the reach of children and should be used according to the label. Adults should monitor use of hand sanitizer by children to ensure that the proper amount is used and that hands wet with sanitizer are not put in the mouth. Remember…If any amount is ingested, call Poison Control.

OMG! A Complaint Has Been Filed Against You With The Board Of Nursing

When you get a formal complaint against you by the Board of Nursing it can be terrifying. You worked hard for your license and you want to keep it! What do you do?

The first thing you need to do is check with your current malpractice insurance. What, you don’t have any?!?!. We will discuss that in another blog. Malpractice Insurance companies give you the option of being covered for board complaints. It has been my experience that most nurses do not select this coverage.

If you do have malpractice insurance, look over your policy to see if you are covered. If so, they should be notified immediately to ensure full coverage.

Regardless of your insurance status you need to contact an attorney immediately. You need an attorney who is knowledgeable in professional licensure defense and knowledgeable in nursing standards of care and practice.

Your initial response to the complaint is crucial. Addressing the complaint yourself can be dangerous. It is understandable that after receiving the complaint you are emotionally shook, but the complaint must be answered with facts. Consulting a lawyer to review the facts with you affords you the best chance of having the complaint dismissed without a hearing or resolved on the most positive terms.

As an attorney and a nurse, I am in a unique position to assist you with a board of nursing complaint. I have been successful in having complaints dismissed without a hearing or after a hearing working out terms for nurses to keep their license.

Please take these complaints seriously and contact either me or another experienced attorney. Protect your license!


Uber Accidents Can Be Tricky

Uber is a ride-sharing service that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. It’s popular because it’s convenient and less expensive than taxi service. Simply sign up, download Uber’s app onto your smartphone, request a ride, and a nearby driver—in their own personal vehicle—will be there in minutes to whisk you off to your destination.

However, auto accident cases involving Uber vehicles can be more complex than typical auto accident cases. Uber defines itself as a technology provider, not a transportation service. Uber drivers are not considered employees of Uber; instead they’re classified as independent contractors. What this does is shield Uber from certain complaints and claims made against them when one of their drivers is involved in an accident.

An Uber driver may be off duty, on duty but between rides, or on duty with a passenger onboard. Insurance coverage will vary for each circumstance, further muddying the waters. When there is an accident involving an Uber vehicle, the driver and passenger(s) of the Uber vehicle, occupants of another car that was party to the accident, and/or pedestrians can all be impacted in various ways.

As always, familiarity with your own insurance is important. For instance, does your own insurance company cover you if you’re an Uber rider? Are they aware that you drive for Uber? If not, they’ll likely not cover you in the event you’re in an accident while “on duty.” Uber related auto accidents can be tricky. If you have been involved in an Uber related accident give me a call so we can discuss how to protect your rights.   Christine

Deciding Who is At-fault for a Collision

Fault is one of the most critical elements in any car accident. The person at fault is the person who typically must pay for the damage caused by his or her negligence. If one driver is cited by the police as at fault that helps in determining fault but it is not always the deciding factor.

If fault is not clear in your case or if there is shared fault then fault is apportioned between the drivers. When fault is shared in an auto accident the insurance adjusters of both insurance companies will attempt to determine the percentages of fault for each driver. There is no set formula for determining percentages of fault in a car accident. If you are negotiating your own settlement you and the claims adjuster will negotiate and come to some agreement as to what extent, if any, you were at fault.

This is a critical determination because any settlement will be adjusted according to your percentage of fault. As an experienced personal injury attorney I can help you in dealing with the insurance adjuster’s determination of at-fault percentages. I know how to assess the accident and advocate for the lowest percentage of fault on your behalf. If an agreement cannot be reached with the insurance adjuster regarding percentage of fault, filing a law suit is ultimately your next step to resolve the issue of fault.

In New Hampshire and Massachusetts the way assigning fault works is that when two people are involved in an accident and the injured party was partially at fault then your settlement would be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For example, if your settlement is for $10,000 and it is determined that you were 10% at fault for the accident then you would only receive $9,000.

If your fault is determined to be more than the other driver’s, in other words anything over 50%, then you would not be able to receive any settlement from the other driver. Negotiating fault can be a critical element in obtaining a full and fair settlement. Never admit any fault to an adjuster.

So, What’s My Injury Case Really Worth?

The value of a personal injury case that goes to trial is determined by the jury. They are given evidence to evaluate and a list of items they may take into consideration before making their decision.

When settling a case prior to trial, various factors play a role in establishing the worth of a case. A good personal injury attorney makes their evaluation based upon all the doctor’s reports, present and future medical bills, and a comprehensive discussion with your doctor. Information covered should include the invasiveness of, pain associated with, and the duration of treatment; future pain and discomfort; and loss of enjoyment of life. Employment considerations include lost wages and future lost wages.

Insurance companies influence the landscape as well. They keep track of cases nationwide and can crunch the numbers. They know which doctors are “over-treaters”, whose bills can more easily be challenged at trial, and which doctors would make a poor or an excellent witness.

Insurance companies keep tabs on attorneys who are willing to go to trial and those who settle in every circumstance. They also know which attorneys have expertise in a specific area of law and those who are general practitioners. Insurance companies lick their chops when an attorney sends most of his/her clients to the same doctor, which they may then exploit at trial by insinuating that the doctor is shading his/her testimony to favor the attorney.

There is no magic formula in determining the value of a personal injury case, but hiring the right personal injury attorney can go a long way toward winning your case or achieving a fair settlement.



TV tip-overs…dangerous and all too common

Alarming reports of children being killed or injured by television tip-overs are headlining newscasts with ever-increasing frequency. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a child dies from a TV tip-over every three weeks in the United States, and another 13,000 are injured each year—a rise of 31 percent over the last 10 years. Children ages 5 and younger account for over 70 percent of tip-over injuries, and over 90 percent of injuries requiring hospitalization.

Tip-overs are commonly caused by a dangerous combination of factors: TVs that are not secured to a wall and inquisitive or rambunctious children. Newer flat-screen TVs may be lighter than the older cathode ray tube TVs, but are more unstable and still pack enough weight to cause serious harm when they are toppled and fall on children.

TVs of any kind placed on top of high furniture pose hazards as well. Children often climb up dressers, chests of drawers, and other furniture, and use open drawers as rungs. Uneven weight distribution leads to tip-overs. Keep toys, video games, and the remote away from the TV…anything that grabs a child’s attention and prompts them to reach and climb.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that all televisions, bookcases, shelving, and other heavy furniture be anchored to the wall whenever possible. Televisions should be placed in lower, more stable positions as well.