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.

Car Insurance to Protect You And Your Family

I regularly meet with potential clients who have been seriously injured in a car wreck. Their stories of how the accident unfolded and the injuries they sustained can be truly heartbreaking, especially when the driver who hit them has little or no insurance. 

When this is the case, one of the first questions we ask is, “What does your own auto insurance look like? Are you fully insured?” Invariably, their response is, “Yes, I’m fully covered.”

The reality, though, is usually quite different, since the vast majority of accident victims (and most drivers for that matter) don’t have nearly enough of what is known as Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).

Unlike liability coverage, which insures you if you injure someone else in an accident, UM/UIM coverage protects you in the event that the person who hit and injured you has little or no insurance.

The problem is that since so many drivers carry the bare minimum in liability coverage or don’t have any insurance at all, you’re left in a disastrous situation if you are hit by one of them and you or your passengers suffer serious injuries. Any sort of a hospital stay, surgeries, or ongoing medical care can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s the real kicker—UM/UIM coverage is actually very inexpensive. In fact, a $1,000,000 UM/UIM policy usually isn’t that much more per month than a $25,000 policy. So, do what you can to protect yourself and your family—make sure you are carrying a high amount of UM/UIM coverage on your policy.

Stay Safe, Christine


New Mammogram Guidelines

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations to the

Federal Government regarding healthcare. They were tasked with reviewing breast cancer screening guidelines and the

Task Force has recommended sweeping changes in its breast cancer screening guidelines for women who are not

at risk for breast cancer.

Their recommendations are:

• Routine screening of average-risk women should begin at age 50 instead of age 40

• Routine screening should end at age 74

• Women should get screening mammograms every two years instead of every year

• Breast self-exams have little value based on fi ndings from several large studies and should no longer

be encouraged

Their recommendations have set off a fi restorm of controversy.

The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual mammography screening to all healthy women starting at age 40.

Since age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer, it makes little sense to stop screening relatively healthy women when they

reach age 75. There are plenty of relatively healthy women in their late 70’s and 80’s for whom screening may be appropriate.

WebMD reports that the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging say the new guidelines could cost

women’s lives. Calling the guidelines a “cost-cutting” measure, the American College of Radiologists states that “two decades

of decline in breast cancer mortality could be reversed and countless American women may die needlessly from breast cancer

each year.”

If a woman younger than 50 or older than 74 wants to get a screening mammogram, can she?

The guidelines do not ban anyone from getting a screening mammogram. Currently the recommendations have not affected

insurance coverage for mammograms but it is not yet known if the guidelines will affect mammography coverage in the future.

The Task Force does not make recommendations regarding insurance coverage but they are infl uential in guiding policy.

So, what should you do? My recommendation is to keep doing what you have been doing for years – talk to your doctor about

your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you.