Archive for July, 2012

Cases Involving Medicare or Medicaid Are Complex

If you are on Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security Disability, it is vitally important that you inform your personal injury attorney of this fact. Unlike many other types of health insurance, these government funded plans are entitled to receive reimbursement for expenses they provided on your behalf. The process can be long and involved because it requires dealing with large bureaucracies, and it helps to get the ball rolling from day one.

Why do I have to pay?

A personal award is assumed to be compensating you for money that you have spent or will have to spend on your injuries. Theoretically, you are not supposed to be getting paid twice for the same injuries from the same accident. If Medicare has paid for your broken leg, and you then receive an award from someone’s homeowner’s insurance for those same leg injuries, you will need to reimburse Medicare for the cost of the treatment.

What if I just don’t mention that I have Medicare or Medicaid?

Medicare has started to get serious about enforcing these laws. As such, many defense attorneys will not settle without first ensuring that either there is no Medicare or Medicaid involved, or that they have been properly notified. Here is a helpful site outlining the process: MSPRC Site

Is there anything I can do?

Yes there is. By keeping your attorney informed you are allowing them to negotiate with Medicare for a lower repayment amount. Medicare often sends an initial bill that includes treatments and visits that are unrelated to the injuries in your case. Your attorney can challenge these charges. Additionally, Medicare is often willing to work with attorneys to reduce the fee by as much as a third. Don’t pay Medicare or Medicaid more than you have to. Call the Law Offices of James Morris to handle your case today.

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

A woman involved in a low speed collision accident suffers whiplash on the day of the accident, this is a relatively mild condition that most people overcome in a few days, but her pain does not decrease, instead she develops severe burning sensations, sensitivity to hot, cold, light and even touch.   She is devastated as daily activities she took for granted like cleaning, showering and even moving her limbs become more and more difficult.  She suffers debilitating pain and is forced to take stronger and stronger medications to function.  She can no longer work and has to rely on family members to do many tasks for her.

The name for this devastating condition is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).  Symptoms vary but may include:

  • Severe burning  pain
  • Pathological changes to the skin, hair and bones (such as early osteoporosis)
  • Tissue swelling
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle stiffness, weakness, or atrophy secondary to severe pain

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can occur after relatively mild injuries such as whiplash or a sprain.   Unfortunately, the mild nature of the accident or injuries often makes getting help difficult as family, friends and even some doctors may believe the victim is putting on an act or exaggerating the symptoms.   Insurance companies use this to their advantage hiring their own doctors to cast doubt on a victim’s credibility.

At the Law Offices of James Morris we believe you.  We have seen the tragic effects CRPS can have on a person’s life and we have fought insurance companies who claim the initial injury was too mild to result in such pain.  We have made them pay for the terrible pain and suffering our clients have endured.
If you or a loved one is suffering with CRPS after an accident, I urge you to call the Law Offices of James Morris.  We will fight on your side to get you the settlement you deserve.  We have the experience, dedication and resources to help you through this difficult time.
For more information on CRPS please see the following links:

UW Health


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Top Medical Mistakes – Part #2

This is post two in a two part blog series devoted to a recent article on CNN Health, ‘10 Shocking Medical Mistakes. This post goes over shocking mistakes six through ten. The original piece ties these mistakes to real-life instances of these errors – click here to see the personal stories in slideshow form on

Today we will look at (the last) five of the most common mistakes. The first five medical mistakes can be found here on our blog – Top Medical Mistakes – Part 1.

Mistake #6 – Air bubbles in the blood – When medical staff remove a chest tube, it is important that they seal the insertion point. If not, air bubbles can get sucked into the open wound and cause a disruption in blood supply to the lungs, heart, kidneys and/or brain. Left untreated this condition can be fatal. CNN suggests, if you have a chest tube as part of medical treatment, ask medical personnel how you should be positioned when they remove your chest tube. This will increase the odds that the procedure goes smoothly.

Mistake #7 – Operating in the wrong place – This mistake happens with a patient’s chart is incorrect, is misread or is obscured in the operating room. This can lead surgeons to cut into the wrong site on the body leading to a number of potential complications. The CNN article suggests checking with your nurse and surgeon that the surgery is going to be performed on the correct site on the body.

Mistake #8 – Inadvertent Infection – Cleanliness is imperative in the operating room. When doctors and nurses don’t properly wash their hands they can spread infections to patients. This can be especially dangerous to a patient with a compromised immune system. In extreme cases patients can die from this mistake. The article suggests asking doctors and hospital personnel whether they have washed their hands prior to them treating you.

Mistake #9 – Mistaken tubes – There are a number of different tubes used in different patient treatments. If hospital personnel mixes a chest tube and a feeding tube up, there can be serious complications. Medicine meant for the stomach can end up in the chest or vice versa. CNN’s suggestion is to ask staff to trace a tube back to the source so that mix-ups are avoided.

Mistake #10 – Waking up during surgery – Anesthetic dosage is specific to each patient. An overdose can cause problems and an underdose can cause a patient to wake up during surgery. In this case the brain is often awake when the muscles remain paralyzed. The patient can feel the surgeon cutting and prodding. The article suggests discussing your anesthetic options prior to surgery. A local anesthetic may be a better option.

Medical mistakes are tragic and can cause long term problems for affected patients. If you ever find yourself a victim of one of these indiscretions contact the Law Offices of James Morris immediately. We have valuable experience in medical malpractice lawsuits, and will give you the personal support that you deserve.

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NHTSA Study Shows That In-Dash Car Apps May Increase Distracted Driver Car Accidents in Upstate and Western New York

Carmakers are racing to install the most sophisticated dashboard applications and connectivity into their 2013 models, and regulators are not happy. They believe in-dash systems will spark a whole new surge of distracted driver car accidents across the nation, which could far outweigh texting while driving accident injuries and fatalities due to the wide range of tempting new driver distractions they’ll present.

The New York Times recently reported that car manufacturers are doing all they can to entice car buyers who want to stay as connected as possible while on the road. Many 2013 car models will have Internet-based systems installed and the ability to connect smartphones to dashboard technology. This will allow drivers to do everything from booking theater seats and plane tickets to making hotel reservations and scanning dining reviews.

Upstate and western New York personal injury attorney James Morris doesn’t agree with car companies who insist that in-dash options are safer than hand-held devices, as they will add mental distractions on top of taking drivers’ hands off the wheel. Not only will drivers have more screens on which to type in search phrases, their minds will be all-too aware of the simple reality that they can get so much done, so to speak, while driving at high speeds. And that’s a subliminal distraction that can result in distracted driver fatalities.

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration said in its February 2012 report on Driver Distractions Guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices that it considers even the most basic navigation devices as interfering “inherently with a driver’s ability to safely control the vehicle.” The report says up to 17% of the police-reported accidents in the United States in 2010 were driver distraction crashes, which is nearly or 900,000.

By allowing drivers on the road with so many more electronic and communications options, entirely new types of distracted driver car crash injuries will be added to a list that already includes texting car accidents and cellphone car wrecks, such as Facebooking rear-enders, Tweeting roll-overs and GPS user head-ons.

The NHTSA’s report includes several strong recommendations. One is that automakers shut down any dashboard functions that require drivers to take their eyes off the road for over two seconds. The 177-page report also suggests making illegal any keyboarding involving more than six button presses per task, along with the use of over 30 characters of text on a an dashboard screen.

Despite the lengthy study and stern opinions, NHTSA Driver Distractions Guidelines is not fueling any new legislation about distracted driving laws. The report says evidence of some distractions is “not sufficient at this time to permit accurate estimation of the benefits and costs of a mandatory rule” regarding such a wide range of electronically connected car systems. In addition, technology hardware, software and services are changing rapidly that any new regulations would likely become obsolete before being enforceable. It’s a frustrating equation but citizens and regulators alike must fight for tough distracted driver laws, in order to protect everyone on the road from people who drive recklessly due to in-dash electronic devices.

If you or a loved one suffered a distracted driver injury, find out how an experienced upstate and western New York personal injury lawyer can help you fight for your rights. Call the Law Offices of James Morris for a free consultation at 1-800-477-9044 or complete our online contact form.

James Morris Law
1015 Liberty Building, 424 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14202

Top Medical Mistakes – Part #1

A recent article on CNN Health, ‘10 Shocking Medical Mistakes,’ goes through a number of common medical errors with personal stories to illustrate real life examples. This post is focused on the actual medical mistakes – click here to see the personal stories in slideshow form on

Today we will look at the first five of the common medical mistakes. Check back later to get Part #2 of this post containing the rest of the list.

Mistake #1 – Treating the wrong patient – Occasionally, at a busy hospital, staff fails to verify a patient’s identity. This can lead to severe complications. CNN suggests that a patient (or accompanying friends or family) verifies that hospital staff checks the entire name, date of birth and any hospital identification (wristband, etc.) of the patient before any procedure.

Mistake #2 – Surgical tools left behind – If surgical staff fails to keep track of the equipment used in an operation or procedure, it can lead to tools/equipment being left inside a patient. CNN’s suggestion is to immediately contact hospital staff if you are experiencing any unexpected pain, swelling or fever after an operation. This won’t prevent the complication, but it will help ensure that you take care of the problem as soon as possible.

Mistake #3 – Wandering patients – Patients who are disoriented, or who suffer from dementia are prone to wandering. They can find their way out of their hospital room, or the building. Once a disoriented patient is out on their own they are at risk of being trapped, lost leading to hypothermia and dehydration. CNN’s suggestion for prevention; obtain a GPS tracking bracelet, and you will always know the whereabouts of your loved one.

Mistake #4 – Imposter Doctors – Unlicensed and disreputable medical personnel lack the proper training and background to properly treat a patient’s ailments. Con-artists impersonating doctors will ‘play the part’ to make a quick buck. Their treatments often backfire. Instead of healing a patient they cause further harm. CNN recommends that a patient confirms online that their doctor is a licensed and reputable professional.

Mistake #5 – Long waits in the ER – Overcrowded emergency rooms leave injured patients to wait for long periods of time. In some cases, these extended wait times lead to more severe medical complications. To combat these wait times CNN suggests calling your personal doctor. If your condition warrants, your doctor will call ahead to the emergency room paving your way to necessary medical care.

Medical mistakes are tragic and can cause long term problems for affected patients. If you ever find yourself a victim of one of these indiscretions contact the Law Offices of James Morris immediately. We have valuable experience in medical malpractice lawsuits, and will give you the personal support that you deserve.

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