Sometimes a headache is just a headache, other times…

By Frank Natale, Malpractice Associate

A condition which can cause headaches and potentially lead to aneurysms is known as a cerebral arteriovenous malformation.
Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, bypassing the capillary system. Although many AVMs are asymptomatic, they can cause intense pain or bleeding or lead to other serious medical problems.
The most general symptoms of a cerebral AVM include headaches and seizures with more specific symptoms occurring that normally depend on the location of the malformation and the individual. Such possible symptoms include:[2]
• Difficulties with movement coordination, including muscle weakness and potentially paralysis;
• Dizziness;
• Difficulties with speech and communication;
• Difficulties with everyday activities;
• Abnormal sensations (numbness, tingling, or spontaneous pain);
• Memory and thought-related problems, such as confusion, dementia or hallucinations.
Cerebral AVMs may present themselves in a number of different ways:
• Bleeding
• Sudden onset of severe headache. May be described as the worst headache of the person’s life.
• Seizure or brain seizure.  Depending on the place of the AVM, it can cause loss of vision in one place.
• Worsening of neurologic functions.

Treatment for brain AVMs can be based on symptoms, and is usually coordinated by a  neurologist for symptoms such as: seizures, headaches, or focal neurologic deficits.
AVM-specific treatment may also involve endovascular embolization, neurosurgery or radiosurgery.  Embolization (cutting off the blood supply to the AVM) with coils, or other materials introduced by a radiographically guided catheter, may be used in addition to neurosurgery or radiosurgery, but this type of treatment is rarely successful in isolation except in smaller AVMs. Gamma knife may also be used to eliminate the AVM in some cases.

Follow up care is extremely important where invasive (surgery, lasers, coils) care is undertaken.  For example people who undergo these procedures may have swelling of the tissue around the AVM, atrophy (wasting away or dying of tissue) from a lack of blood supply to the area, and other effects.  It is extremely important to understand what options your physician would consider to treat any of those effects.  Discuss those in detail with your family and the people you rely on for medical care.

If you or a loved one experiences complications arising from the treatment of a cerebral AVM, please feel free to contact Frank Natale at Bowers Law to discuss any legal options you may have. We can be reached any time at 410-885-6200.

PIP waiver tricks- Stop paying for nothing

Imagine that I am making you a simple offer, and you must choose one of these options:

A) Give me $1.00 today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident I’ll give you $100. I’ll also give $100 to anyone else in your car. I don’t care who is at fault for the accident, I’ll give you the $100 because you got into an accident.

B) Give me forty cents today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident, too bad.

Which one would you choose? No-brainer, right? Regardless of the amount of money you’re being asked to give me, you’d expect at least something in return for it, right? In fact, as a lawyer, if I charged you money for absolutely no work or no benefit, I’d likely lose my license, or at least be sanctioned by the bar!

The problem is….insurance companies in Maryland are making this deal with drivers in the state ALL THE TIME, and they are getting people to choose option B far too often!

What am I talking about? I’m talking about Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP. I’ve talked about PIP countless times in various ways on my site, and to my clients. If you haven’t had a conversation with me about PIP coverage, you’ve probably never been my client.

The photo linked to this article is a scan of a real PIP waiver premium disclosure. This is a general document that is contained within every single auto insurance policy written in the State of Maryland. It discloses the cost of having PIP insurance, and it also discloses the cost to WAIVE that coverage. Yes, the COST to WAIVE the coverage. As you can see from the disclosure, most insurance companies charge a minimum of 40% of the normal premium to have the coverage in order to waive it. Over the years in this business, I have seen this number as high as 60%.

Yes, paying money to waive a coverage. This is an offer that is made in every auto insurance policy. We’re not talking about $100 here, either! The minimum PIP coverage on a policy that doesn’t carry this waiver is $2,500 per person, per accident. They don’t just give you this money for getting in the accident, but it can be used to pay for medical bills, ambulance bills,  and time missed from work.

Don’t do it. Don’t save a few dollars on your insurance policy, and lose out on important medical payment or wage payment coverage should you ever be in an accident.

Call us any time to talk about your insurance coverage. We’re not insurance agents, and we cannot sell insurance. What we are, is happy to talk to you about your policy, or a quote from a new insurance company, and let you know what we think about the insurance coverage that is being offered, and if anything is missing that you’d want to have if you were involved in an accident.

Our office always takes calls at 410-885-6200 and is happy and available to discuss auto insurance at absolutely no cost to you!

Guest Post: What You Need To Know To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In PA & Maryland

Occasionally we have the opportunity to welcome some guest insight from a colleague either related to our profession and the cases we handle, or in this case an attorney from Pennsylvania who handles medical malpractice claims. Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. and shares with us insight about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, and how they different from medical malpractice claims in Maryland.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is used by patients to try and protect them from a negligent doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly caused damage while performing a medical procedure.  As I state on MarcianoLegal.com, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Specifically, medical malpractice can come from:

  • Prescribing improper medication or prescribing too much medication
  • Not using the basic standard of care to treat patients
  • Failing to warn patients about potential side-effects to medications or procedures
  • Making an incorrect diagnosis

The state of Pennsylvania has its own rules when it comes to preparing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should hire an experienced legal professional to help you understand and abide by those rules.

Standard Of Care

Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit for medical malpractice, you must prove that your doctor violated the standard of care for your state. Each state has nuances to their standard of care that your attorney will know, but standard of care is generally the accepted method for delivering safe and effective medical care in any situation. For example, the standard of care in most states says that doctors need to get patients to sign a document stating that the patient has been explained the risks of their treatment and accepts those risks.

A medical malpractice case can be brought against a doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly violates the state’s standard of care. If the doctor’s negligence and violation of the standard of care causes injury to a patient, then that patient can seek out a lawsuit that would award damages based on the decision of the state’s civil court.

A Medical Malpractice Case In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has some rules regarding medical malpractice lawsuits that attorneys and victims must follow. When it comes to awarding damages, Pennsylvania does not put a cap on any of the potential awards a court might offer. The different types of damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:

  • Compensatory Damages – These are the real damages such as lost wages and any medical bills the victim has accrued related directly to the medical incident.
  • Non-Economic Damages – This is the category of damages used to determine the value of the patient’s pain and suffering.
  • Punitive Damages – These are damages added to an award if the court determines that the doctor was purposely negligent. Compensatory and non-economic damages have no cap, but punitive damages are capped at a maximum of 200 percent of the compensatory award.

The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case has two parts to it. The patient has two years to file a lawsuit after discovering the error, or after it should be reasonably expected that they would discover the error. The courts usually decide when the patient should have noticed the damage based on the evidence that is available. However, there is a second limitation that says that no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed seven years after the medical procedure has been performed.

The Difference Between Pennsylvania And Maryland

When comparing the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania to the process in Maryland, there are two significant areas to look at.

  • Statute of Limitations – The time frame for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland is much tighter than it is in Pennsylvania. While a patient has three years from the time they discover the doctor’s error to file their lawsuit, they only have five years from the date the procedure was performed to get their lawsuit filed. Any medical malpractice lawsuit filed after the five-year deadline will not get heard in Maryland.
  • Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are much more common in Pennsylvania than they are in Maryland. In Maryland, it is much more difficult to prove intentional negligence on a doctor than it is in Pennsylvania.

It takes an experienced legal professional to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania or Maryland. If you feel you are the victim of a negligent doctor, then you should contact an attorney immediately to avoid running up against the ticking clock that is the statute of limitations.

Author bio:

Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.

 

Maryland Auto Accident. Should you Hire a Lawyer?

Accident cases in Maryland can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes you might think it’ll be smooth sailing because the other insurance company has accepted fault for the accident, and now your case is a “slam dunk.” In many cases this is exactly what the insurance company wants you to think. Fault isn’t the only hurdle to jump in these cases. The value of the case is often times more important than fault. Insurance companies thrive on offering substantially less for your injury claim than they’d have to pay if you went to court, or even if you hired a lawyer to settle the claim.

You’ll need to know that ALL of your medical bills are being paid out of the settlement, not just by your health insurance company or your PIP insurance. You’ll also need to know if your health insurance is entitled to reimbursement for what they paid out. Are your lost wages covered in the settlement? After all of this, is there anything left over for you? Our office works hard to make sure that each and every factor of these cases is covered, and that our clients are getting what they’re entitled to under the law, nothing less.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the insurance company is offering you a little bit of money, or if they’re ignoring you entirely, call us today at 410-885-6200 to see if we can help you.

Trouble with mortgage approval?

Over the past several months our office has received a lot of calls from potential clients looking for help to clean up their credit in advance of getting approved or pre-approved for a mortgage. In fact, we’ve actually developed a few relationships with mortgage brokers who have begun to suggest us to some of their clients who cannot immediately be approved for a mortgage.

In our office, there are a number of techniques and tools we can utilize to assist with credit repair. Since everyone’s situation is very different, there is no hard and fast answer for everyone, and we prefer to do a sit down or phone consultation for about 15-20 minutes to get a good feel for your individual situation.

After/during this process, we can help go through your credit report and analyze your debts. Depending on whether your problem is a low credit score, a high debt to income ratio, or a combination of both we can probably help.

Again, our solutions vary for each and every situation. For some clients we can dispute items on a credit report, negotiate debts, set up payment plans and also negotiate the reversal of negative reports on credit.

Sometimes there’s an avenue to not only challenge the harmful items on a credit report, but to seek money damages for our clients as a result of these harmful items on their report if they were put there improperly, and not removed timely.

For other clients, we discuss the options of bankruptcy. For some consumers this serves as a “clean slate” approach that will often clear the decks on a lot of old, bad debt. This debt can be credit card debt, medical bills, or many other debts from the past.

Many of our clients are initially concerned with filing for a bankruptcy due to some of the negative stigma surrounding it. Others find it contradictory that a loan officer will tell someone to call us knowing that there’s a chance we will file bankruptcy. The truth of the matter is that most underwriters will be able to approve a mortgage within 18 months to 3 years from the discharge.

If you’re struggling to get a mortgage, and want to clean up your financial situation in anticipation of approval give us a call at (410) 885-6200 to schedule that free initial consultation.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #3

We continue our countdown of the hot spots for Cecil County auto accidents in 2016 with a bit of a stretch. As with some of our previous posts in this spot is actually a stretch of roadway where a couple of different areas/intersections along the road are the real “hot spot”. This one ranks just above #4, which we looked at last week.

3. Rt 40 approaching and past North East, MD

Rt 40 through a few spots in North East, Maryland are some big problem areas. One of them is a direct result of evening/afternoon rush hour traffic. As you head west on Rt 40 from Elkton to North East, traffic will begin to back up between 4:30 and 6pm as far back as Marley Road. This traffic inevitably results in many rear end collisions on an almost daily basis. This wasn’t always the case, and we suspect that it’s largely the result of cell phone/smart phone use by people who are waiting in the line of traffic, seeing that it begins to move, and then doesn’t stop in time for the traffic.

Heading a little further west on Rt 40 will bring us to the intersection with Red Toad Road. This newly renovated, but not redesigned, intersection is a super hot spot for traffic accidents for a variety of reasons. It’s actually a bit surprising to most that this isn’t alone the number one accident spot in our countdown (maybe it’ll rise up the list in 2017, as we’ve already seen double digit accidents here so far this year).

red toad during construction

From an overhead map view there’s nothing strange or unique about this intersection, but if you travel through the area regularly you’ll know that it’s nothing normal going on here. The traffic coming from Red Toad in either direction often have issues negotiating who gets to go first, and in what direction, as most traffic coming from Red Toad in either direction is turning onto Rt 40 in one direction or another.

Additionally, the traffic traveling through Rt 40 in either direction is in no way innocent in causation of these accidents. We’ve found many people get surprised by the light, and attempt to speed up to beat it, or just run it altogether. The problem created here more or less speaks for itself with where this intersection ranks on this year’s list!

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #4

We’re continuing out countdown of the most dangerous accident spots in Cecil County, Maryland for the calendar year 2016. Last week we saw the 5th most dangerous accident intersection(s) as rated by the cases my office handled in the 2016 calendar year.

4. Rt 40 and Rt 213 (Bridge St/Augustine Herman Highway)

rt40rt213elkton

If you were to have asked me what intersections I thought were the most dangerous in 2016 without actually looking at the numbers this one would have been my guess for the top spot. Surprisingly, this intersection ranked number 4 on the overall list for 2016 accidents.

Yes. That mean’s there are 3 intersections in Cecil County Maryland that we handled more accidents from than the interchange between Rt 40 and Rt 213!

This is likely one of the busiest intersections in Cecil County, right in the heart of Elkton. The intersection of 2 major county arteries is also the intersection of many many vehicles, not in a good way!

The lights here are on a timed sequence, but they’re not entirely consistent. If you’ve ever tried to turn left onto 213 from the eastbound Rt 40 lane, you know that left arrow lasts maybe 3 or 4 cars…if everyone is paying attention!

Be careful traveling through this intersection, and don’t try to “speed up” and beat any lights here, otherwise you might become a client of ours, or even worse create a client for our office. Don’t just be careful here, but also be careful in our #3 most dangerous intersection for 2016.

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #5

Our injury law office here in Elkton, Maryland has grown quite a bit before opening up in late 2014. We handle a LOT of accident and injury claims throughout the State, but many of them happen right here in Cecil County or involve citizens of Cecil County. In our normal process of doing year-end reporting from 2016, we noticed some interesting trends when it comes to the location of many of the accident cases we handle. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Accident Locations in Cecil County. You may want to take note of this list, and be extra aware when driving in these areas.

5. Rt 272 near the North East Walmart

272 at Walmart NE

The intersection with the 5th most injury related accidents in Cecil County in 2016 is really 3 different intersections that sit back to back to back in North East, MD. We’ve represented clients in a variety of accidents that have occurred entering and/or exiting the main entrance to the plaza where the Walmart is in North East. Just a bit north of this intersection is the main entrance to Timberbrook community, Rogers Road. We have almost as many accidents in 2016 at this intersection, as there are a few feet down the street.

272atRogers

Just a few hundred feet north of Rogers Road is the intersection at Nazarene Camp road. Not quite as many as Rogers Road or the Walmart, but just as close in location that we felt the need to lump this in. This grouping of 3 intersections is actually only our 5th most “dangerous” for 2016. Number 4 has us representing even more clients….

 

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

The cost/benefit of increasing your PIP/Medpay Coverage in Maryland

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with one of my clients in the Elkton, MD office to discuss her current treatment progression as a result of an ongoing automobile accident case. Among the topics of conversation was her auto insurance policy, and the fact that she had switched insurance companies since her accident. As I experience many insurance companies who attempt to trick their clients into waiving PIP coverage, I wanted to double check her coverages and make sure she didn’t get duped.

Fortunately, her company has an app that allows her to bring up, and even modify coverage on the fly, which let us play around with possible scenarios for insurance coverage…

We quickly learned that she did have PIP coverage….that’s good. Don’t ever waive PIP coverage in Maryland!

The company she is now insured through does not offer more than the basic $2,500 PIP, but they do offer MEDPAY coverage. It works more or less the same way as PIP, except it cannot be used for wages.

The additional coverage was offered in the following increments: $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000. Each of these options would offer money toward medical payments above and beyond the $2,500 in PIP coverage, depending on which was selected.

We first clicked the $500 option, which immediately let us know that her premiums would increase by $2.55 if she were to add the $500 in medpay coverage. That’s not too bad. Doing the math, she’d have to pay this premium for 196 months (16 years) for her to pay more in premium than the benefit she’d gain as a result.

Medpay Premium in MarylandWe then clicked the $5,000 button…while it was loading I told her “i bet you anything it’s far less than 10x the price” and sure enough…to get $5,000 in additional medical payment coverage, it would cost her a whopping $5.88month. That’s double the premium for ten times the coverage! that’s a no brainer… She’d have to maintain this policy for $850 months (70 years) accident free in order to pay more in premium than she’d potentially gain in benefit! This is an absolute no brainer!

 

New Maryland Law- Proof of Insurance Required

Attention Maryland drivers! There is a new law that will go into force this October that you need to be aware of so that you’re not stuck with avoidable fines or trouble from the police during a traffic stop.

Each year Maryland’s legislature meets for a 90 day session that runs from January through April. The laws that are passed during that session typically go into act the first of October that same year.

This year there is a huge push from the legislature to crack down on uninsured drivers. Now, for the first time, there is a new law in place requiring proof of insurance during a traffic stop, should the officer demand/request it.

Beginning on October 1, 2016, all drivers in Maryland are required to carry valid proof of insurance, and present it during traffic stops, at the request of a law enforcement officer. During an initial introduction period, warnings will be issued to drivers who are unable to present valid proof of insurance. Beginning on July 1, 2017, drivers will be fined $50 for failure to provide valid proof of insurance.

For most of us, we keep our insurance cards inside of our glove compartment where the registration, owners manual, napkins from your favorite restaurant and whatever other random stuff is jammed in there. We’re urging you to double check that you’ve not only got your insurance card in that spot, but that it’s the current/valid insurance card. Most insurance companies re-issue a new insurance card with each renewal period that shows an effective date range (usually 6 months or a year). Every time you get one of these the only thing that normally changes is the effective dates, but it’s important that you pay attention when these come in the mail, or print them if they come to you online!

As always, be safe on the roads. Follow our firm on facebook or bookmark this blog for more future updates on important legal topics!