October 21, 2010

Baltimore Ravens Helmet Hit Sheds Light on Danger of Sports Head Injuries

Maryland sports fans who follow the Baltimore Ravens know what to expect when they witness the spectacle that is professional football. It's rough, it's fast, and it's exciting. But now safety advocates and the NFL are growing increasingly concerned about head injuries that can result when men the size of refrigerators hit each other head first.

A New England Patriots safety was fined $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet collision on a Baltimore Ravens tight end during this past weekend's match-up. This was not an isolated case: two other teams also received hefty fines for players who used their heads as battering rams in helmet-to-helmet hits on other players.

The NFL regards such hits as "dangerous and flagrant," while some defensive players contend that's just how the game is played. As the NFL promises to impose stricter sanctions to avoid helmet-hit head injuries, some players who say they'll be hamstrung by such restrictions threaten to quit.

Common Causes of Head and Spine Injuries

Baltimore County, Maryland brain and spine injury lawyers are aware of how lives can be devastated or cut short when a head injury occurs -- on or off the sports field. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines head injury as "...any trauma that leads to injury of the scalp, skull, or brain. The injuries can range from a minor bump on the skull to serious brain injury." A concussion occurs when the brain is shaken.

The topic of sports concussions brings to light one way that head injuries can occur, though injury to the brain and spine can happen in many ways: as a result of construction accidents, pedestrian traffic accidents, and car and truck accidents.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Blog Article on Brain Injury:

Maryland Brain Injury Association: March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

News Sources:

Brandon Meriweather Apologizes For Helmet-To-Helmet Hit
The Baltimore Sun Oct. 20, 2010

NFL fines but doesn't suspend 3 players for dangerous hits, wants to give fair warning
Associated Press in The Baltimore Sun Oct. 19, 2010

James Harrison threatens to retire because of dirty hit sanction
Yahoo! Sports Oct. 20, 2010

Related Web Resources:

About.com: What Is a Sports Concussion?

MedLine Plus: How Head Injuries Can Occur

May 1, 2010

Maryland Motorcycle Traffic Accidents in the News, Though National Motorcycle Accident Death Rates Have Declined

Maryland news media report that three fatal motorcycle accidents have occurred in recent weeks in the state, now that the weather is warm and more motorcycles are on the road.

According to Southern Maryland Online, a motorcycle accident that occurred on April 17 in the area of Prince Frederick, Md., is believed to have caused fatal injuries to a 53-year-old biker who died shortly after the motor vehicle accident. Police investigators reported that the operator lost control of his Harley Davidson motorcycle and struck a tree. While the man seemed uninjured by the crash and did not seek immediate medical attention, he was later found unresponsive in his home and was brought to an area hospital, where he died. The cause of death of this motorcycle accident victim remains under investigation.

Brain injuries can result from motorcycle and other car and truck accidents, and the severity of those injuries may not always be apparent immediately after the accident -- particularly if the person who has suffered a head injury is able to speak after the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that head injury is the number one cause of death of motorcycle riders involved in traffic accidents.

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Deaths Decline by 20 Percent
This same news source reports that two other fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in Southern Maryland in April. This comes on the heels of a new report out of Washington, D.C., that nationally, motorcycle accident deaths have declined by 10 percent -- the first decline, in fact, since 1997. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, nationally, motorcycle fatalities have declined from 5,290 in 2008 to 4,762 or fewer in 2009.

Motorcycle safety regulations such as the helmet law in Maryland are given credit for saving lives, though the report states that the sagging economy may be keeping more recreational motorcycles parked in their garages and off the road.

The GHSA report looked at motorcycle accidents in 39 states over two nine-month periods, Jan. through Sept. 2008 and 2009. Preliminary data shows that in that period, Maryland had 52 motorcycle accident deaths in 2009 compared to 72 motorcycle crash fatalities in 2008, representing a 20 percent decrease. Though as any Maryland motorcycle accident lawyer knows, any death on our roads and highways is one too many. We support the safety laws in Maryland such as the universal helmet law that help save lives and keep people out of our hospital emergency rooms.

So now that the weather is nice and people are traveling more in Maryland and beyond, remember -- that motorcyclist you see cruising down the highway is 37 percent more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than you, if you're driving a car, truck, or SUV. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycle Helmet Laws 2008.)

St. Leonard Man Dies, Motorcycle Accident Injuries Believed Cause
Southern Maryland Online April 19, 2010

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2009 Preliminary Data (PDF)
Governors Highway Safety Association

Related Web Resource

NHTSA: Motorcycle Safety Program (portal)

April 26, 2010

DWI Driver in Maryland Car Crash that Injured Judge May Go to Jail

Experienced Baltimore County, Maryland car accident attorneys know that when someone intoxicated gets behind the wheel, everyone on the road with them is at risk.

Anyone can be hurt or killed in drunk-driving traffic accidents—including justice and law enforcement officials who work to prevent such car, truck, and pedestrian accidents from happening. Last year on Aug. 21, a Maryland judge found himself in the path of a drunk driver, with serious consequences. It was not the first time the two had met.

The Washington Post reports that a retired Maryland judge and his wife, both in their 80s, were seriously injured when a man driving a Chevy SUV struck their Honda automobile. The car accident occurred in Montgomery County, Md. The judge's injuries included a leg fracture and broken ribs, and his wife suffered spinal injury and multiple broken bones. Ironically, the judge had spared the same man jail time when he stood before him in court years earlier, on a different drunk-driving charge.

The perpetrator has plead guilty to drunk driving in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Maryland, and this time, he may be sent to jail for his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8.

Man could see jail time for drunken crash into Md. judge's car
WashingtonPost.com April 14, 2010

Drunken Driver Spared Jail Time Accused in New DWI Accident, and Judge Is the Victim
ABA Journal April 12, 2010

March 4, 2010

Maryland Brain Injury Association: March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

The Brain Injury Association of America announces that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The group hopes to raise awareness of the seriousness of head injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI) -- particularly in regards to school sports injuries. The group's website offers resources about head injury, fall and accident prevention, and brain physiology, explaining that the brain can be injured even if the head isn't struck (such as in a whiplash car accident, where the neck and head are jarred violently).

The Brain Injury Association of America has a Maryland office and plans to hold an educational conference in Towson, Maryland, in April.

As Baltimore County, Maryland injury lawyers know from experience with client families, debilitating and deadly brain injuries can result from a number of scenarios, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an astonishing 1.4 million people suffer a TBI in the U.S. every year, with some 235,000 people requiring hospitalization and 50,000 dying from their traumatic brain injuries. Primary causes:

o Motor vehicle crashes cause 20% percent of traumatic brain injuries,
o Falls cause 28% (always a concern for the elderly, including those in nursing homes),
o Being struck by something/striking against something causes 19%, and
o Assaults cause 11% of traumatic brain injuries.
o Other causes: Suicide (1%), other transport (2%), pedal cycle (3%), other (7%), unknown (9%).

(Source: CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, "What is traumatic brain injury?," TBI Causes, collected online March 4, 2010.)

Maryland injury and wrongful death attorneys are, unfortunately, all too aware of circumstances where medical negligence results in a failure to properly and promptly diagnose and treat a traumatic brain injury in time to prevent permanent brain damage or death. Seconds count with these most serious of medical emergencies.

The news media has paid increased attention to the subject of brain injuries since the death of actress Natasha Richardson in 2009, following what at first seemed to be a mild fall on a beginner ski slope. Like many traumatic brain injury victims, Richardson was initially able to speak and appeared to be relatively uninjured. However she complained of a headache and fell unconscious hours later. She died due to an epidural hematoma -- bleeding inside the brain which can build up pressure and cause the brain to shift, cutting off the blood supply and causing death.

Brain Injury Association of America

Maryland Brain Injury Association

CDC: Traumatic Brain Injury

WebMD: Natasha Richardson Dies of Epidural Hematoma
WebMD Health News, March 19, 2009

November 21, 2008

Baltimore Jury Awards Woman $250,000 for Baltimore Beltway Construction Site Pedestrian Accident

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury awarded a seriously injured woman $250,000 in damages after she was struck by a car while attempting to cross a Baltimore Beltway construction site on foot. The Maryland car accident that resulted in pedestrian Sandra Lee Meade being hit and seriously injured occurred at a construction site near the Baltimore Beltway on Dec. 3, 2003. Meade had parked her car on the southbound side of Westland Boulevard at Circle Drive in Baltimore, Maryland before planning to catch a bus to her job at the IRS. She was hit by a car while illegally crossing the street at a construction zone operated by Pennsylvania based general contractors Dick Corp.

The area where the pedestrian car accident occurred was under construction to widen the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway, Route 695. Meade was crossing the intersection diagonally to catch a northbound bus when a car traveling south on Westland Boulevard struck her. The Maryland woman sustained lifelong brain and spinal cord injuries, and has been living in a nursing home since this terrible pedestrian car accident occurred. The driver was not named in the lawsuit, as the plaintiff's family felt he was also a victim.

Ms. Meade’s attorney argued at trial that the general contractor failed to keep the area safe for pedestrians, citing poorly placed barriers and confusing line painting. The jury concluded, however, that because the Plaintiff was crossing the street illegally, they could not hold the Dick Corp. liable for any of her injuries.

Fortunately, Ms. Meade's wise attorney had separately negotiated what is known as a "high/low agreement" with counsel for the Defendant. This type of agreement is legally binding in Maryland, and basically states that, no matter what result a Judge or Jury reaches, basic minimums and maximums of insurance coverage will apply. This one legal maneuver, by an experienced attorney, avoided the $ZERO verdict, which the Jury felt compelled to hand down, based upon Maryland's harsh law of contributory negligence.

Meade's original lawsuit sought $8 million in damages. The $250,000 she was awarded -- which her family must use to cover her lifelong medical and nursing home expenses -- represented the "low" end of the settlement. The bottom line here is that Maryland Law, especially the harsh doctrine of contributory negligence, can be brutal. That is why legal representation is so important to people injured in Maryland car and pedestrian accidents.

Woman Struck in Work Zone to Get $250K Maryland Daily Record, Nov. 16, 2008

Related Web Resource

WalkingInfo.org