A Virginia wrongful death claim involving the death of a bicyclist was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve an experienced bicyclist who rented a bicycle while in town for a religious conference. As she approached an intersection at a high rate of speed, according to the sole eyewitness who was standing on the sidewalk, the witness observed the bicyclist (operating in a designated bicycle lane) wobble, re-gain control and veer toward the curb before her body “hurtled” from the bike and fell into the street. As she fell, a dump truck that was executing a right hand turn ran over the bicyclist. In the days following the events, the witness posted on a blog that the dump truck driver had done nothing wrong and was not responsible for the bicyclist’s death.

The dump truck driver testified that he had signaled well in advance of the turn as he was descending a hill and approaching the turn. The fatality crash team investigation of the dump truck revealed that the turn signals were inoperable. The driver, at the scene, claimed that the turn signals had been operational, and that he must have caught the wiring (which was located under the steering column) with his leg as he exited the truck after being waved down by the eyewitness. The driver pointed this out at the scene and when the wiring was re-connected, the signals were again operational. The driver also testified that he never saw the bicyclist as he approached the intersection and that she must therefore have been overtaking him at a high speed in the seconds before the turn.

The investigating officers concluded that a bicycle skid mark that measured approximately 62.5 feet had been made by the bicyclist, and performed skid testing to conclude that the bicyclist’s speed was approximately 25-34 mph prior to her braking. The investigation also found that a rub mark on the curb was made by the bicyclist before she lost control and fell from the bicycle under the right rear tandems of the truck. The case turned on defendant’s failure to maintain a proper lookout and failure to signal due to defective equipment versus a contributory negligence defense based on the eyewitness’ account that the bicyclist was traveling very fast and had lost control well before the intersection and before the truck started to turn. The case resolved in the weeks following mediation.

A Virginia medical malpractice case involving the death of a patient shortly after delivering a baby was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve a nineteen year old pregnant woman who presented at full term to a community hospital. After several hours of labor and an arrested descent, she was taken shortly after midnight to the operating room for a caesarean section. Approximately fifteen minutes following the successful c-section delivery of her son, she exhibited “scant” then “moderate” bleeding and decreasing blood pressure and tachycardia. The PACU nurse assessed her uterus as “boggy.” The PACU nurse alerted the defendant OB-GYN of this change in condition and defendant immediately assessed the patient. Defendant expressed clots from the uterus and noted that the fundus was firm. Defendant ordered Oxytocin drip and continued to periodically assess the patient, who continued to hemorrhage.

Approximately 15 minutes after the patient’s vitals first worsened, the physician ordered blood products and uterotonics and continued to monitor the patient, whose vitals continued to reflect hypotension and tachycardia with impending hypovolemic shock. Defendant ordered an additional IV line for fluid resuscitation and continued to monitor her patient, massage the fundus and express clots from the uterus. The patient exhibited a transient improvement in vitals but did not stabilize. The decision was made to return to the operating room for laparotomy and potential hysterectomy. The defendant ultimately performed a hysterectomy after attempting to stop the bleeding with O’Leary stitches. During the procedure, additional units of blood were transfused and additional uterotonics administered in an attempt to stop the post-partum hemorrhage. Approximately 6 hours after the hysterectomy and after transfusion of over 12 units of blood, the patient coded multiple times over a two hour period and was pronounce dead at approximately 2:15 p.m. The cause of death was DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy) caused by an atonic uterus.

The allegations of negligence centered on the defendant OB-GYN’s failure to recognize the extent of the post-partum hemorrhage and act more aggressively in the resuscitation and in the decision to return the patient to the OR for a life-saving hysterectomy. Plaintiff also challenged the defendant’s decision to order cross-matched rather than universal donor blood (O negative) which was available and would have been delivered substantially faster than the 45 minutes that elapsed during delivery of the cross-matched units. Defendants contended that the OB-GYN physician had acted reasonably by assessing her patient, ordering uterotonics and fluids, blood products and had returned her to the OR within 90 minutes of first learning of her patient’s hemorrhage. The sole beneficiary in the case was the child born shortly before his mother’s death.

A Federal Tort Claims Act case involving the death of a patient at a skilled and long term care facility was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The decedent, a seventy-six year old woman, was admitted to the nursing home where she was to undergo physical therapy following hospitalization for aggravation of a pre-existing compression fracture in her spine. Upon admission, she was noted to be alert and oriented; however she also had a suspected diagnosis of Parkinson’s and dementia. Her attending physician ordered various labs including a CBC and BMP. He also ordered her foley catheter discontinued. A Nurse Practitioner ordered a urine culture and sensitivity test. Over the course of the next week, the patient’s overall physical and mental condition progressively declined. After complaints by her husband and children, she was transferred to a hospital where she was found to be in septic shock and suffering urinary sepsis, dehydration, renal failure and pneumonia. Several of her laboratory values were critical including a BUN of 155 and a creatinine of 6.5. She was obtunded and suffering from multi-system organ failure. She died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital.

Plaintiff’s allegations of negligence against the attending physician included failing to insure that his orders were carried out by the nurses, failing to determine that various test results were not in the chart and failing to timely and properly monitor the patient’s overall declining condition. The allegations of negligence against the facility included the nurses’ failure to carry out certain physician’s orders including timely discontinuing the foley catheter and failing to insure that test results were placed in the patient’s chart. Plaintiff also alleged that the nurses failed to monitor the patient’s condition and report her decline to the attending physician.

Defendants’ experts contended that they complied with the standard of care in all respects. The attending physician’s experts contended that the patient was suffering from a debilitating neurological condition and had a limited life expectancy. Defendants further contended that the patient died from a rapidly progressing pneumonia that could not be timely diagnosed and treated. Plaintiff contended that the patient died as a result of complications from an undiagnosed and untreated urinary tract infection.

A Virginia wrongful death case alleging medical malpractice by a surgeon was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve the death of a 49 year old man who underwent an arthroscopy with synovectomy operative procedure on his left knee in 2006. Eight days post-op defendant orthopedic surgeon diagnosed decedent with an acute deep venous thrombosis involving the gastrocnemius veins of the left lower extremity. He prescribed Lovenox and Coumadin to prevent the further development of DVT and a potentially fatal pulmonary embolus. Decedent remained on anticoagulation therapy for three months with no complications.

In 2008 the same surgeon performed an arthroscopy with an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with hamstring autograft operative procedure on the decedent’s same knee. He was not placed on anticoagulation prophylaxis following the surgery. Six days post-op he acutely developed difficulty breathing with choking, chest pain and syncope. After initially recovering, while being transported to the hospital he stopped breathing and was noted to be with pulseless electrical activity. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.

Plaintiff’s experts opined that decedent was at a higher than standard risk for a potentially fatal PE given his demonstrated history of DVT following the first surgery. They further opined that the second surgery was longer, involved more blood loss, a longer tourniquet time, decedent was two years older, heavier and less ambulatory; all further increasing the risk for clotting. Given all of the above, plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in failing to advise the decedent that he was at an increased risk for the development of DVT and PE and further negligent in failing to place him on prophylactic anticoagulation.

A Virginia wrongful death case alleging medical malpractice by a physician who gave the wrong medication to a patient was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve the death of a 53 year old woman who presented to the hospital for placement of a port to accommodate dialysis. Prior to placing the port, a surgeon attempted to flush the patient’s vein with what he thought was Heparin, a blood thinner. Instead, the syringe to be used by the surgeon contained Thrombin, a clotting agent, which had been mistakenly filled by a nurse. Approximately sixty seconds after administering the medication, the patient suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest due to a massive pulmonary embolus caused by the Thrombin. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the patient expired. The case resolved prior to filing suit for $1.9 million.

The law firm of Pierce & Thornton specializes in medical malpractice litigation throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. They have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend. If we can help you, we will. Your consultation is free.

The Virginia Lawyers Weekly recently reported that a federal court in Virginia held that a widow whose husband died in a collision with a tractor-trailer may sue the truck driver for punitive damages, which are damages exceeding normal compensation that are meant to punish the defendant. The Court in this case found that while the Virginia Supreme Court normally frowns on awarding punitive damages in most motor vehicle cases, they would be allowed here because the defendant truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his truck, despite a prior citation for violating a federal rule against driving more than 14 consecutive hours. The Court reasoned that a jury could find that the commercial driver engaged in conduct that he had been specifically warned about, and by doing so, he acted willfully, wantonly and in reckless disregard for the safety of the public.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious truck, auto or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our truck, auto or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia and North Carolina, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

Two personal injury claims, both of which involved automobile accidents, were recently tried and won in Virginia courts by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The first accident involved our client being struck from the side while traveling on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The impact from the accident was severe enough to total both drivers’ cars, and resulted in serious personal injuries. During trial in the Virginia Beach General District Court, the defense contended that the plaintiff was at fault for the collision because she was speeding and also questioned the amount and type of medical treatment received by the plaintiff as a result of the accident. The judge, however, returned a verdict for the plaintiff that was nearly twice the amount of money the defendant and his insurance company had previously offered to settle the case for before trial.

The second motor vehicle accident case occurred on Newtown Road in Norfolk, Virginia. Here, our client was rear-ended by a distracted driver while stopped at a red light. As a result of this accident, the plaintiff was forced to undergo extensive physical and chiropractic therapy for over a year to be relieved of the pain associated with the injuries from this collision. At trial in the Norfolk General District Court, the defendant did not question liability, but argued that the plaintiff had over-treated and that his injuries from the accident were pre-existing. The judge, however, ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages that were over twice the amount of money the defendant’s insurance company offered to settle the case for prior to trial.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto, truck or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our auto, truck or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a motorcycle rider was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after he collided with a tractor-trailer in Newport News, Virginia. According to the report, when police arrived at the scene, they found the motorcyclist unconscious in the street. Investigators believe that the truck driver did not know that he struck the motorcyclist because the motorcycle collided with the rear of the tractor-trailer. Although the commercial driver did not stop at the scene, the driver and his truck have since been located. The crash is under investigation.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto, truck or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our auto, truck or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported that a motor vehicle accident left one person dead and others injured in Norfolk, Virginia. According to the report, the deceased individual was a passenger who exited the vehicle he was traveling in, which was parked in the travel lane, to put something in the trunk of the car. As he was doing so, another car read-ended the vehicle thus causing the decedent to become trapped between the two cars. Police and rescue crews arrived on the scene immediately and took the decedent to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The drivers of the other vehicles were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to be fine. The crash is under investigation.

The attorneys at the law firm of Pierce & Thornton understand that tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto, truck or motorcycle accident we can help. Pierce & Thornton has experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. The lawyers at Pierce & Thornton have obtained some of the largest jury verdicts and mediation settlements in Virginia over the past several years. We can put together a team of qualified investigators and gather the information and data necessary to reconstruct the accident and determine who was at fault. We will consult with all of your health care providers so that we have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life. Call today for an immediate free consultation with one of our auto, truck or motorcycle accident attorneys. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton handle cases throughout Virginia, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore. They also associate with other attorneys on significant injury cases throughout the United States.

A Virginia wrongful death case alleging medical malpractice was recently settled by the attorneys of Pierce & Thornton. The facts of the case involve the death of a 40 year old man who suffered a fracture of his tibia after being struck by a tree. He was evaluated in an emergency department, diagnosed with a fracture and referred to an orthopedist. Over the course of the next several days he experienced chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath and consulted with his PCP who arrived at a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia and admitted him to the hospital for observation and treatment.

On the second day of his hospital admission a venous Doppler study revealed a deep venous thrombosis in his lower extremity. He was placed on anticoagulation therapy. Lab work revealed compromised kidney function thus a CT of the chest with contrast, which could definitively diagnose pulmonary emboli, was contraindicated. The decedent’s overall medical condition continued to worsen and his physicians continued to work under the presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia.

On the fourth day of admission, the decision was made to perform an open lung biopsy to diagnose the source of the decedent’s continued decline. Heparin therapy was stopped in an anticipation of the surgery. On the day of the scheduled surgery, it was determined that decedent needed to undergo dialysis. The surgery was postponed until the following day. The Heparin was not restarted and the decedent suffered a pulmonary embolus prior to the performance of the surgery the next morning, resulting in his death.