A jury recently returned a verdict in a class-action lawsuit totaling nearly $619 million against one of the largest nursing home chains in the country. Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., which owns and operates nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation therapy businesses, and hospice homes, was sued for egregious and repeated violations of health codes in several states and for failing to keep staffing levels adequate. “This is a really strong statement to Skilled Healthcare that they have to follow the law,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney who delivered the closing arguments in the case. “They need to know that they are going to be held responsible.”

Although the jury has returned its verdict, the judge still needs to decide whether the court will issue an order that would require the company to keep staffing as required by law in the future. “I’m so thankful for this,” said the daughter of a former resident, who added that while it may be too late for her father to receive justice, she hopes the lawsuit makes things better for future patients. “We just want our loved ones to be taken care of.”

Pierce & Thornton has handled cases in Virginia, including cases in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore involving nursing home negligence. We are also licensed to practice in North Carolina. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have tried, mediated and settled cases involving the incorrect administration or dosage of medication, falls, bed sores, decubitus ulcers resulting in respiratory arrests, myocardial infarctions, heart attacks, infections, brain damage, paralysis and wrongful death. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the care rendered to you, a family member, or friend at a nursing, assisted living, rehabilitation therapy, or hospice facility.

According to the Virginia State Police, five motorists were killed in Virginia over the long July 4th holiday weekend. Troopers also reported responding to 743 traffic crashes over the four-day counting period. Of the fatalities, one occurred in the Hampton Roads area (which is comprised of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore), while the other four happened in the counties of Accomack, Fairfax, Nottoway and Rockingham. Three of the victims were not wearing seat belts, and one of the deaths involved a motorcycle. With increased traffic and everyone anxious to get to their vacation destinations, it is extremely important to be careful and take an extra dose of patience while in your vehicle. The beach will be waiting for you when you arrive. And remember, under a new Virginia law that went into effect on July 1, 2010, no texting while driving.

We hope you never need our services. But if you or someone you know does, please know that the attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have experience and expertise in representing Virginia and North Carolina families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of car or truck drivers. 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 consultation with one of our auto or truck accident attorneys.

A jury in Chesapeake, Virginia awarded a woman $2.5 million in a medical malpractice trial after agreeing with her contention that her debilitating stroke was due to complications caused by a doctor misdiagnosing her diverticulitis. The patient, now 52, suffered brain damage and remains unable to work as a secretary-bookkeeper as a result of the physician’s medical negligence. The jury’s verdict will be reduced to $1.65 million under a Virginia law capping medical malpractice awards.

Pierce & Thornton has handled numerous cases throughout North Carolina and Virginia, including cases in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore involving the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a disease or disorder by a physician, including the failure to diagnose and treat various types of cancers. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have nearly 50 years of experience in litigating all types of medical malpractice cases. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the medical care rendered to you, a family member, or friend.

In Virginia Beach, Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month is an important time. I have had the unfortunate privilege of representing two families who each lost a husband and father as a result of melanoma that went undiagnosed by their doctors. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the risk of an American developing melanoma is about 1 in 87, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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According to a recent report, Hampton Roads (which is comprised of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore) had the highest number of car accidents that resulted in injury or death in Virginia from 2006 to 2008. On average, there was a traffic accident in the Tidewater region every 19 minutes, and every 2.5 days someone died from one of those auto wrecks. Nearly 8 percent of all crashes in Hampton Roads involved alcohol, with 41 percent of fatal crashes involving alcohol. The leading causes of non-fatal accidents were following too closely, distracted driving and failure to yield; while the leading causes of fatal accidents were distracted driving and speeding. Nationally, Hampton Roads ranked 17th among 26 similar-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in traffic fatality rates.

Tragic accidents are an unfortunate part of life. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious auto or truck accident we can help. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of car or truck drivers. 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 consultation with one of our auto or truck accident attorneys.

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which allows people to sue the federal government for medical malpractice committed at federally funded clinics, was recently decided in favor of the family of a 6-year-old boy who suffered brain damage at birth. As a result of the brain damage injury, the child was rendered a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. The lawsuit was brought in federal court against the U.S. Government because the negligent doctor worked for a federally funded clinic. The $29.1 million verdict will be off-set by a $6.5 million settlement previously reached with the hospital.

Other claims allowed under the FTCA include those brought by dependents of active duty military members (active duty military personnel cannot sue the government for medical negligence at this time) who are injured or die as a result of medical malpractice by military medical personnel. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have successfully handled medical negligence cases against the federal government and have experience in federal court, which is where FTCA cases must be filed. If you have questions regarding potential malpractice committed at a VA facility or other federally funded clinics, call one of our attorneys at Pierce & Thornton for a free consultation.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals in Virginia and around the country were recently notified of a new program launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aimed at reducing the likelihood of preventable harm from medication use. The “Safe Use Initiative” was started because “too many people suffer unnecessary injuries from avoidable medication misuse, errors and other problems,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

Millions of people are harmed every year from inappropriate pharmaceutical drug use. Many injuries occur as a result of incomplete access to information about a drug, a patient, or the patient’s condition. “Only through coordinated interventions across all sectors of the health care system can we substantially reduce preventable injuries from using medications,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “All participants in the health care community have a role to play in reducing the risks and preventing injuries from medication use.”

The FDA highlighted several risk-reduction projects that may benefit from Safe Use collaborations, including evaluating consumer medication information, communicating about the risk of inadvertent overexposure to acetaminophen, implementing safeguards against surgery fires caused by alcohol-based surgical preps, and avoiding contamination of multiple use medication vials.

Physicians in Virginia and around the country often misdiagnose or fail to diagnose several common women’s health issues, according to a recent health report. Health experts say that many women walk out of doctors’ offices feeling that their symptoms were ignored or have not been taken seriously. They are often told that their complaints are “all in their heads” or that everything will be fine if they would just stop worrying. The report warns that the best way for women to avoid having a disease misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all is to become educated and empowered by learning the names, risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for the most commonly misdiagnosed women’s illnesses – – and then push to be taken seriously.

The seven most commonly misdiagnosed women’s health issues are: 1. polycystic ovary syndrome (the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age and the leading cause of infertility); 2. fibromyalgia (a disorder of unknown origin that is characterized by widespread pain, numbness, and exhaustion); 3. chronic fatigue syndrome (although nobody knows the exact cause of the extreme fatigue common to this disorder, studies point to dormant viral infections, hormonal imbalance, and stress); 4. lupus (a malfunction in the immune system where the body becomes its own worst enemy); 5. multiple sclerosis (occurs when the immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerves in the brain and nervous system, breaking down communication between the brain and body and sometimes destroying the nerves themselves); 6. rheumatoid arthritis (a disease that attacks the linings of the joints via the immune system, causing swelling, aching, and potential deformity in hands, wrists, hips, knees, and feet); and 7. irritable bowel syndrome (a disorder characterized by chronic abdominal cramping and pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation).

Pierce & Thornton has handled numerous cases throughout Virginia, including cases in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, and the Eastern Shore involving the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a disease or disorder by a physician, including the failure to diagnose and treat various types of cancers. We encourage you to contact our firm if you question the care rendered to you, a family member, or friend.

A recently released VA Inspector General report found ongoing problems at a Veterans Affairs hospital where nine patients died in surgery in six months – a mortality level more than four times the expected rate. As a result, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki pledged to send five top-ranking officials to investigate the ongoing medical errors at the government-run facility. The VA report also found other evidence of medical malpractice, including inconsistencies in the tracking of deaths, medical procedures performed by physicians without proper authorization, and inadequate record keeping of patient care.

Medical negligence committed by the government against a military dependent (active duty military personnel cannot sue the government for medical negligence at this time) can be pursued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Under FTCA, a dependent of an active duty military member who is injured or dies as a result of medical malpractice by military medical personnel can pursue a claim in negligence. The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have successfully handled medical negligence cases against the Federal government and have experience in Federal court, which is where FTCA cases must be filed. If you have questions regarding potential malpractice committed at a VA facility, call one of our attorneys at Pierce & Thornton for a free consultation.

Every year, hundreds of people in Hampton Roads and throughout Virginia are the victims of dog bites. In fact, a Norfolk Health Department report listed 860 dog bite complaints in the City of Norfolk through July 2009. Moreover, the Virginian-Pilot has reported several stories so far this year involving deaths and serious injuries stemming from dog bites. For example, a seven-month-old baby was reported in critical condition in Newport News after being attacked by a Pit Bull in February; a four-year-old child was mauled by a Norfolk K-9 dog in June; a woman was attacked by a dog at a Virginia Beach gas station in July; and a man died from wounds inflicted by two Pit Bulls in Loudon County in August. The list goes on and on.

While a majority of states hold a dog owner strictly liable for injuries caused by the owner’s dog, Virginia is among the minority of jurisdictions that adheres to the “one bite” rule. Meaning, every Virginia dog gets “one free bite” and the owner is not held responsible for the dog’s first aggressive act. However, if the dog owner or another person was responsible for the injury by being negligent or breaking a law, such as a leash law, then that person can be held legally liable.

The lawyers of Pierce & Thornton have represented numerous people who have been seriously injured by dog bites. If you need our help, please call today to speak to one of our attorneys.