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Houston Texas Accident Lawyers

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Mr. Padilla was named a Texas Super Lawyer (Rising Star)(2006) by Thompson Reuters as seen in Texas Monthly Magazine
Houston Personal Injury Lawyers

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Super Lawyers
Mr. Padilla was named a Texas Super Lawyer (Rising Star)(2006) by Thompson Reuters as seen in Texas Monthly Magazine
Wrongful Death Attorneys

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Super Lawyers
Mr. Padilla was named a Texas Super Lawyer (Rising Star)(2006) by Thompson Reuters as seen in Texas Monthly Magazine
When a worker covered by workers’ compensation makes a claim against a third party, the workers’ compensation insurance retains the right to subrogate against any recovery from that third party for all benefits paid to or on behalf of a claimant injured at work. When subrogating for more than basic medical and indemnity benefits, the Texas workers’ compensation subrogation statute provides that “the net amount recovered by a claimant in a third‑party action shall be used to reimburse the carrier for benefits, including medical benefits that have been paid for the compensable injury.” TX Labor Code § 417.002.

In fact, all 50 states provide for similar subrogation. However, none of them precisely outlines which payments or costs paid by a compensation carrier constitute “compensation” and can be recovered. The result is industry-wide confusion and an ongoing debate and argument with claimants’ attorneys over what can and can’t be included in a carrier’s lien for recovery purposes.
The Sugar Land City Council recently voted to approve a new ordinance that would make it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless the driver is using a hands-free or Bluetooth device.

The move comes after a year of asking its residents for their feedback on the proposed ordinance. Out of those who responded to the call for comments, a majority stated that they would be in favor of the limitation.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an opinion in the case of Nabors Well Services, LTD., et. al v. Asuncion Romero, et. al., which overruled years of established case law regarding seat belt use in the state of Texas. In this case, it was alleged Plaintiffs family members were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, which was found to be the fault of a third party Nabors Well Services vehicle. During the accident several plaintiffs were ejected from their vehicle and died.

The Court looked at whether under ever evolving Texas law and public policy that now a Plaintiff could be held partially liable for the injuries they receive due to their failure to wear a seatbelt. Never mind the fact that the overall accident was the fault of another third party negligent actor.
An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a workweek of at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay.

Some employees are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Exemptions, however, are few and are narrowly construed against the employer asserting them. Consequently, employers are cautioned by the U.S. Department of Labor to always closely check the exact terms and conditions of an exemption in light of the employee’s actual duties before assuming that the exemption might apply to the employee. The ultimate burden of supporting the actual application of an exemption rests on the employer.
General Motors Co. (GM) has been making headlines for recall issues over the last several years due to faulty ignition switches that have been linked to 124 fatalities. The defect causes the power to the engine to cut off unexpectedly. Subsequently, drivers lose access to key safety features such as power steering, brakes, and airbags. The faulty ignition switch recalls involve the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

An additional recall was issued by GMregarding the wiring for the mounted side airbags. The airbag issue may trigger a warning light that reads “Service Air Bag.” GM indicated that if customers ignore the warning light, the side airbags may ultimately fail to deploy. The wiring harness connectors for the side airbags, if not properly installed may be subject to corrosion or loose crimps. The airbag issue may cause non-deployment of all side-impact restraints, including the driver and passenger seat-mounted side air bags, the front center airbag and the seat belt pretensioners.
In the trucking industry, there are numerous regulations put in place in order to protect individuals from harmful and potentially deadly crashes. However, at times these regulations are not followed and can lead to death or serious injury if a person is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler and/or commercial vehicle. Below are some of the highlights of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulations. A complete list of regulations can be viewed on the FMCSA's website.

QUALIFICATIONS OF DRIVER
Ford recently issued a safety recall for approximately 650,000 of their 2013-2016 Ford Fusions as well as their 2013-2015 Lincoln MKZ vehicles due to faulty driver and passenger seat belt pretensioners. A seat belt pretensioner works by tightening up any slack in a seat belt in the event of a crash and pulling the bodies of the driver and front-seat passenger firmly into their seats. When functioning properly, the pretensioner positions the occupant’s body so as to receive the maximum protection from the front airbags and prevent what is called “submarining,” or when the momentum of an accident causes an occupant’s body to slip under their seat belt, sending the body forward below the dash.

Ford is currently aware of at least two accidents and injuries related to this recall. In an effort to resolve this issue, Ford has notified owners by mail to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to have the pretensioners repaired.
The intravenous iron replacement product, Feraheme, has been linked to serious, sometimes fatal, allergic reactions in certain patients. As a result, the warnings and instructions that accompany the anemia drug Feraheme are being strengthened.   The FDA changed the prescribing instructions and approved a Boxed Warning, commonly referred to as a “Black Box” warning. The Boxed warning is the FDA’s strongest type of warning. The FDA also added a new Contraindication, a strong recommendation against using Feraheme in patients who have had an allergic reaction to any intravenous (IV) iron replacement product.

Feraheme is used to treat iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition where the oxygen-carrying red blood cells are reduced because of too little iron.
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A semi-trailer which was too high for an overpass collided with the overpass bridge on Interstate (IH) 35 about 40 miles north of Austin, in Salado, Texas, today, causing the overpass to collapse. It was reported that at least one person was killed and others were injured. Tractor-trailer drivers should plan their route, be aware of the height of their truck and pay close attention to heights that are posted on most overpasses. Oversized loads require permits. So-called “permitted loads” are oversized loads that must receive permits after submission of the proposed route so that the load is only transported on routes where overpasses are high enough and roads are large enough. From photographs of the scene of this particular accident, it appears that it was the tractor (i.e. the truck) and not an over-sized load that collided with the overpass. The driver of the semi-trailer and his employer should have known about low overpasses through proper route planning and the driver should also have remained attentive to the measurement that was probably posted on the overpass.
Medical literature has suggested a link between the use of the prescription drug Zofran (or its generic ondansetron) during pregnancy for nausea or vomiting, and birth defects, particularly cleft palate and heart defects.   Approximately 1 million pregnant American women are exposed to ondansetron every year.

An estimated 80% of pregnant women suffer from nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy.   Zofran, and its generic ondansetron, are frequently prescribed “off label” by physicians for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting even though the drug is not classified as safe in pregnancy by the FDA, and the drug is not labeled for use for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
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Leiomyosarcoma (“LMS”) is an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma (cancer) derived from smooth muscle cells in the uterus. Women undergoing laparoscopic (small incision) hysterectomies using a power morcellator are at risk for the spread of LMS. The power morcellator is used to remove the uterus by cutting it into small pieces, risking the spread of unknown LMS tumors in the uterus to other parts of the abdomen.   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found significant increased risk of sarcoma cancer after use of the morcellator device during hysterectomy. Power morcellators were used in over 50,000 hysterectomies in a single year, risking the spread of any unknown cancer cells in the uterus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication notice announcing that the use of power morcellators for removal of the uterus creates the risk of spreading undetected cancerous tissue in women with previously unsuspected cancer. The largest manufacturer of the power morcellator device withdrew the surgical tool from the market in July 2014. The company issued a world-wide letter to return the devices.
In a March 2015 letter to the Editor of the Houston Chronicle, the Chairperson of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the U.S. federal agency that investigates chemical disasters, expressed concern over the safety of Latino workers in the United States.   Chairperson Moure-Eraso pointed out that the workplace fatality rate for Latino workers not only exceeds the rate for non-Latinos, but is also on the rise. Particular industries cited as having dangerous occupations included construction, agriculture and the petrochemical industry. According to the Chairperson, 148 workers died in “fires and explosions” in 2013, and 20 of them were Hispanics. Similarly, he reports that out of 330 total workers that died from “exposure to harmful substances or environments” in 2013, 68 were Hispanic.   Mr. Moure-Eraso cited to a UC Berkley report that spoke to why Latinos are so vulnerable in the work place, citing factors such as them being overrepresented in jobs with low wages and dangerous working conditions, being less likely to have adequate training and sometimes lacking language skills to access safety information.
During construction of highways, construction companies frequently apply blacktop one lane at a time, and at the end of the day, leave a vertical drop-off of 2 to 3 inches between lanes. This dramatic drop off is extremely dangerous to motorcycle drives, especially at night when it is impossible to see the drop off and the driver attempts to change lanes. It is difficult to maintain control of an articulated two-wheel vehicle under these conditions and dangerous accidents can result.  Misplaced signs or absent warning signs aggravate the problem and leave the motorcycle driver without any warning of the dangerous condition. We have become aware of accidents that have occurred in just such conditions. The use of a notched wedge joint at the edge of the lane during construction can prevent injuries. If the construction company tapers the edge with a roller, the dramatic drop off becomes a gradual slope, making the area safer for motorcycle drivers. Recently we noticed inconsistent use of the notched wedge joint in Houston, Texas. During part of the project, the proper notch wedge joint was used and during part of the project it was not. Even changing lanes in a car we could notice the extreme drop, and risked overcorrecting. We’ve become aware of these dangerous drop-offs during roadway blacktop operation on major highways in Houston, including on I-10, the Beaumont highway, and I-59, the Southwest Freeway.
Caustic and toxic chemicals in the workplace pose serious risks of significant injury and even death. Proper training, maintenance of accurate Material Safety Data Sheets that are clearly accessible and understandable to the work force and maintenance of eye washes and showers, along with proper personal protective equipment are important to maintaining a safe work place. Recently OSHA proposed a significant fine for an insulation company that failed to maintain proper eye wash and shower facilities for its employees. Caustic chemicals can cause blindness, poisoning, burns, dermatitis and systemic diseases like cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains useful information on chemical hazards in the workplace, and offers tips to prevent them at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/chemical-safety/.

To learn more about workplace hazards, visit our website at:
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A Louisiana based oil field service company has agreed to pay 270 current and former employees almost $620,000 in back wages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. The investigation found that the employer violated the FLSA by not paying its workers for the time spent at mandatory staff meetings and that the company failed to record the time spent at these meetings.

The mandatory safety and orientation meetings occurred on drilling rigs and platforms at the beginning of each shift. The rig workers were required to come to the meetings 30 minutes before the start of their shift. The employer failed to pay workers for the compensable time spent in the mandatory meetings.
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In Houston, Texas, a sawmill was recently fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, for failing to protect workers from unguarded machines. An employee of the sawmill was killed when a piece of lumber weighing over 800 pounds was kicked out of an unguarded machine and struck him, fatally wounding him.

The company was fined for not providing an approved method for preventing the lumber from kicking back and striking a worker. The company was also fined for failing to install a guardrail on work platforms and failing to guard chains, sprockets, belts and pulleys properly, and for failing to cover unused electrical panel openings.
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OSHA found a number of safety issues at a Cleveland based stamping company which included failing to have adequate machine guarding to protect workers from amputation. Multiple mechanical power press, machine guarding and electrical violations were found.  For more information regarding workplace injuries, visit  www.houstontexaspersonalinjurylawyers.com/workplace-hazards.  For more information regarding unguarded machine hazards, visit www.houstontexaspersonalinjurylawyers.com/crush-injuries.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 61 citations and orders to a Nevada gold mining company.  OSHA cited the company for improperly stored mercury containers, blocked access to steps and a catwalk, lack of warning signs for hazardous chemical storage, unsecured gas cylinders and insufficient illumination. OSHA also found an improperly grounded cable, a possible electrocution hazard.  For more information regarding electrocution hazards, visit www.houstontexaspersonalinjurylawyers.com/electrocution.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a plumbing and heating company following a deadly trench collapse involving the company’s foreman.  An excavated trench collapsed and killed the worker while he was installing sanitary sewer lines at a residential construction site.  According to safety standards, employers must provide a safe means of egress from a trench, protect workers in a trench from the trench collapsing, and ensure equipment and soil piles are maintained at least 2 feet from a trench. According to OSHA, trenching and excavation standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.  For more information on trenching operation hazards visit www.houstontexaspersonalinjurylawyers.com/trench-injuries.
OSHA recently issued one willful violation and one serious violation safety citation to a Florida roofing company following an inspection of a Pompano Beach worksite.   OSHA found that the employer exposed employees to fall hazards while they removed roofing materials without fall protection.  OSHA also found that the employer exposed workers to a struck-by hazard while working in close proximity to a crane. OSHA conducted its inspection as part of a regional emphasis program for falls in construction.  For more information on workplace injuries, visit www.houstontexaspersonalinjurylawyers.com/workplace-hazards.

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*John M. Padilla is licensed in Texas and California. The firm's other attorneys are licensed in Texas.

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