Heiting & Irwin Attorneys At Law
(951) 682-6400
5885 Brockton Avenue
Riverside, CA, 92506

About Our Firm

Heiting & Irwin began in 1976 out of a deep commitment to the fundamental values of the American justice system. In that spirit, we've dedicated … Learn More

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Meet the attorneys of Heiting & Irwin in Riverside, CA. Each attorney has many specialties and experiences that contribute to the overall … Learn More

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MICRA CAP FIGHT TO CONTINUE

Trial lawyers in the State of California will continue to pursue the effort to raise the general damage malpractice payout cap established by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act in 1975. Even though the recent ballot initiative (Prop. 46) was overwhelmingly defeated, litigators will push to raise the $250,000 limit on pain and suffering damages by any available method.

Seriously out-spent by the healthcare lobby and buoyed by the confusion of issues contained within Prop. 46, recent efforts to raise the MICRA cap went down in flames! Prop. 46 would have raised the general damage limits to $1.1 million and readjusted it annually for inflation, bringing the damages cap for medical negligence cases more in tune with other jurisdictions and into the 21st century.

Despite the recent setback of Prop. 46, trial lawyers still have thoughts and plans to reform the antiquated limits established in 1975, whether by further initiative or through the court process. Courts in other jurisdictions have invalidated certain caps, but will the California Supreme Court consider such an issue regarding the MICRA damages cap?

The fight is not over. Round one was a victory for the healthcare industry. With a better strategy, increased funding, and clarification of issues, the trial lawyers will continue their efforts to bring MICRA damages to a more realistic limit.

If you have a claim for damages, whether by medical or other professional negligence, or any type of personal injury or civil damage claim, the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are available. We are just a phone call away from assisting you.

WATCH OUT – PAY ATTENTION AND SPEAK UP!

Too often an individual who initially has only a physical injury (eg: injury to an arm, leg,
neck, back, etc.) develops other, often more serious problems, which are a consequence of their original injury or treatment.

Examples include:

● Aggravation of High Blood Pressure – caused by anxiety, stress or depression (among other things) associated with their industrial injury. Being injured, off work, dealing with significant changes in finances, etc., are all potential contributing factors;

● Aggravation of Diabetes – insulin levels can be affected by trauma, including the trauma of surgery;

● Sleep Issues- sleep disturbance, in different forms, can be caused by many factors, including stress, the effects of medicine(s), and pain. This can, in some circumstances, lead to a more serious condition known as “sleep apnea” which has its own negative effects on an individual’s well being;

● Serious Dental Damage – Anxiety, depression and the extended use of certain medications can lead to multiple problems such as clenching/grinding of your teeth while sleeping and TMJ with obvious negative dental consequences. The use of certain medications can create a condition known more commonly as “dry mouth” which can ultimately lead to decay and deterioration, loss of teeth, etc.

The above are some conditions that are consequences of industrial injuries not more commonly thought of.

The above list does not include the potential damage to an individual’s liver, kidneys, stomach or heart that can be caused by some of the above conditions, not to mention the damage caused by chronic medicine use.

If you are a friend or family member of an individual who has sustained an industrial injury, pay attention to changes you see or the injured worker talks about. Those changes in high blood pressure, heart related symptoms, insulin intake, sleep disturbance, teeth or jaw-related symptoms, intestinal/stomach problems, etc. – may be connected to their industrial injuries and/or the consequences of treatment received as a result of those original injuries.

Watch out – pay attention- speak up!

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury, or “TBI,” occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain.

It is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, especially in children and young adults.  TBI is usually the result of falls, vehicle accidents, or violence.

Brain trauma can occur as a consequence of an impact to the head, by a sudden acceleration/deceleration within the cranium or by a complex combination of both movement and sudden impact.  In addition to the damage caused at the moment of injury, brain trauma may cause secondary injury, a variety of events that take place in the minutes and days following the injury. These processes, which include alterations in blood flow to the brain and the pressure within the skull, contribute substantially to the damage from the initial injury. [Read more…]

INJURIES WHILE USING RIDESHARE SERVICES

With the advent of “rideshare” services such as Uber and Lyft, among others, the question arises of who will be responsible for injuries sustained by riders of these services. The short answer is, it depends.

There may be any number of commercial and personal insurance policies that might cover the “rideshare” rider. For example, Uber’s website indicates that, for rides requested through UberBLACK, UberSUV, or uberTAXI, there is a “commercial insurance policy in at least the minimum amount required by local regulations”, while rides requested through uberX may be covered by drivers’ personal insurance policies, commercial insurance policies, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

This does not account for policies covering other vehicles involved in any collisions, policies personal to the riders/passengers themselves, or policies covering other entities who may bear responsibility for the injuries sustained by the riders of these services.

If you are injured while using a “rideshare” service, please be sure to gather as much information about the identity, employers, and insurance policies of everyone involved, and to take as many pictures of damage or injuries as possible. Unless you feel confident you will properly identify the various policies which may cover your injuries, and successfully navigate your claims to a satisfactory resolution, CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY IMMEDIATELY. The office of Heiting & Irwin offers free consultations, so call today.

WHERE HAS TREATMENT GONE?

Frustration is abound in the Workers’ Compensation system!

Now, even after you select a physician from the insurance carrier’s list of physicians (politely known as their “Medical Provider Network”) and that physician recommends treatment which the physician feels is necessary, the insurance company typically forwards that request to the now-infamous “Utilization Review” physician for his/her decision as to the necessity of said treatment.

Unfortunately, the Utilization Review physician does not even see or examine the injured worker! He or she merely reviews records/paperwork and then makes a decision as to whether that treatment is to be approved (i.e. “certified”), denied or denied in part.

If the injured worker or their attorney wishes to appeal this decision denying treatment in whole or part, the request for review goes to an IMR (“Independent Medical Examiner”), another physician contracted with and through procedures set up by the State of California that again does not see or examine the injured worker! By rule, the identity of that physician is anonymous to all the involved parties, so the attorneys don’t even have the right to take the physician’s deposition and question him or her as to their findings or opinion.

Then, if you wish to appeal the decision of the unknown and unquestioned IMR physician, the basis for appeal is so limited as to be virtually non-existent. For example, you can appeal the decision if you can prove prejudice, bias or conflict of interest. How do you prove any of those basis for appeal when the identity of the doctor is unknown? Absent a statement in the IMR decision which is on it’s face evidence of bias, prejudice or conflict of interest (which won’t happen) you are left with the final two (2) basis for appeal. Without boring you further they, likewise, are so limiting as to be the equivalent of essentially no appeal rights.

The State of California apparently believes that although it is illegal to provide medical treatment to someone without seeing them, it is apparently legal to deny medical treatment to someone without ever seeing them, based upon that doctor’s review of records only – which may or may not contain all the information the IMR doctor would be able to obtain if he or she were permitted to examine the injured worker.

Can you imagine having a doctor who has treated you for months (sometimes years) having his/her medical care requests denied by a physician who has never seen you or examined you, whose opinions are, except in the rarest of circumstances, binding and not subject to further questioning or inquiry?

Again, where has all the treatment gone?

TELEMEDICINE – GOOD MEDICINE?

Handling medical negligence cases in the everyday practice of law, I see with far greater frequency “medical records” which consist of email correspondence between the patient and the medical provider and/or messages referencing communication via telephone. This practice of medicine is generally referred to as telemedicine, that being the long distance practice of medicine via telecommunications consisting of telephone, internet and video conferencing. This new and increasing method of providing medical services and advice is fraught with challenges and potential risks.

Telemedicine can be an efficient method for physicians to manage their ever increasing patient panels, shorten time to a point of care, and decrease healthcare costs. Telemedicine can be effective in circumstances where geography, lack of transportation, and availability of the healthcare provider are significant issues. In addition, telemedicine can be used in managing certain acute and chronic situations and even serves as an effective triage tool in an emergency department. However, a true emergent, critical or life threatening situation will likely still require the hands-on care and treatment of competent medical professionals. Telemedicine is currently in use in many emergency room situations where ambulance attendants phone the emergency room to contact physicians or mobile intensive care nurses who provide orders during transport and pending arrival to emergency room facilities.

As the services continue to expand, multiple challenges do exist, not only to patients and medical professionals, but to the public at large. There are increasing issues involving patient verification and protection of patient privacy. Confirmation of a “physical” exam to document symptoms and conditions is curious. The quality and qualifications of the physician or healthcare provider; licensing; and availability of insurance are issues of concern. Another potential area ripe for neglect is the fraud or drug shopping by patients for prescription medications.

Telemedicine is an evolving method of medical care. As with any type of medical care, it is ripe for potential neglect and abuse. As a warning to the wise, be careful with the use of telemedicine and confirm the knowledge of and understand the identity of the medical provider, the qualifications, care and treatment being recommended. As telemedicine evolves, so does the legal profession in response to these new methods of treatment. Telemedicine is an area ripe for abuse and neglect and potential claims of medical neglect.

If you have any claim for injury arising from telemedicine or other medical care and treatment received from healthcare providers, the legal professionals at Heiting & Irwin are available to assist you.

Big Rig Accidents Require Special Handling

Heiting & Irwin has years of experience handling Big-Rig / Tractor Trailer Accidents.  We have represented many clients injured by semis over the years, including high profile cases in Riverside, San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga.

Tractor Trailer Accident cases require special handling and special investigation techniques.  Had the driver been working for 16+ hours before the incident occurred?  Is camera footage from within the cab available?  Was there a GPS or other type of tracking/recording device on the truck?  This type of information is not typically available in a collision between two motor vehicles.

When big-rigs are involved, the likelihood of catastrophic injuries also increases.  Make sure you have an attorney that will competently handle the presentation of your claim and retain the right experts to combat the trucking company’s defense team.

TO ALL PATIENTS CONSIDERING (OR WHO HAVE RECEIVED) A SURGICAL MESH IMPLANT

On July 13, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official safety communication entitled “UPDATE on Serious Complications Associated with Transvaginal Placement of Surgical Mesh for Pelvic Organ Prolapse: FDA Safety Communication”.

This safety communication was addressed to healthcare providers who have implanted surgical mesh to repair pelvic organ prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence or are involved in the care of these patients, as well as to:

Patients who are considering or have received a surgical mesh implant to repair pelvic organ prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence[.]”

Hopefully, if you are one such patient, you have been made aware of and reviewed this update, which is available at: http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/ucm262435.htm.

Based on new information gathered since 2008, the FDA has determined that, among other things:

a) SERIOUS COMPLICATIONS associated with surgical mesh for transvaginal repair of POP ARE NOT RARE;

b) transvaginal POP repair with mesh MAY EXPOSE PATIENTS TO GREATER RISK than traditional non-mesh repair; and

c) the most complications include mesh erosion (where the mesh erodes or protrudes through the vaginal wall or other barrier), and mesh shrinkage/contraction. (See link above).

According to the safety communication, patients suffering from complications of the transvaginal mesh implants complain of severe pain, severe pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse or an inability to engage in sexual intercourse, vaginal shortening, vaginal tightening and vaginal pain. Also, men may experience irritation and pain to the penis during sexual intercourse with implant patients when the mesh is exposed in mesh erosion.

In certain situations, an implant patient may have the ability to sue the manufacturer for problems arising from the implant itself, and the physician who performed the implantation surgery, among others. Strict time limits do apply, and it is important to immediately consult with an attorney should you experience any of the above-mentioned concerns. You may contact our office at (951) 682-6400 for a free consultation.

CONCUSSION INJURIES

As we approach the fall season, we are constantly reminded of “Back to School” and the fall sports that it brings. Football is in the air, whether it is high school, college or the NFL, and with it comes the alarming risk of concussion-type injuries.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TMI). It is generally caused by a direct blow to the head, or by an indirect blow to the body, causing the brain to strike the inner skull resulting in some type of neurological impairment. Impairments include headache, nausea, difficulties with concentration, memory issues, emotional (irritability and sadness), sleep disturbances and balance and coordination effects. Concussions are common, especially when participating in contact sports, such as football and soccer. Although most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, there are some alarming statistics and reason for concern:

  • There are 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year;
  • Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion)
  • Soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion):
  • Impact speed of a football player tackling a stationary player is 25 mph;
  • Impact speed of a soccer ball being headed by player is 70 mph;
  • Some studies suggest that females are twice as likely to sustain a concussion as males!

Motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian collisions, bicycle accidents, physical violence, and falls (particularly with young children and older adults) are also common risk factors to sustain concussive type injuries. After one sustains a concussion, the levels of brain chemicals are altered. It usually takes about a week (in a mild case) for the levels to stabilize. More severe concussions can have lasting effects, far beyond weeks, even to the point where bleeding in the brain can be fatal.

Whether you’re an athlete, or just drive a vehicle, the risk of head injury is one that can not be taken lightly. Potential complications include epilepsy, post-concussion syndrome, post traumatic headaches and vertigo, and cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries.

If you sustain a head injury, seek the appropriate medical care and treatment. If the injury may be a result of the negligent or intentional conduct of a third person or organization, contact the Heiting & Irwin law office to discuss your legal rights.

Riverside, California celebrates Labor Day 2014!

LA County beachesCalifornians know a lot about working hard, and about taking time away from the daily grind to relax. Californians know how to enjoy our state’s weather year-round, but especially so during the summer months. It doesn’t matter if you head to the seaside or stay inland, this Labor Day, how about enjoying something fun? After all, you’ve earned it!

Labor Day 2014 is a great reminder of the social and economic achievement made by American workers, including those living right here in Riverside, California.

If you don’t mind driving a bit, the Newport Coast, Orange County and the City of Angels have plenty happening over the holiday weekend – not to mention the beaches!

If you have never attended The Taste hosted by the L.A. Times, here’s a chance to enjoy some of the finest cuisine and drinks available in all of Southern California. Starting Friday, August 29 and running through Sunday, August 31, experience a food and wine festival promoters bill as “authentically L.A.” Los Angeles’ best chefs invite you to enjoy themed meals like, “Field to Fork,” “Dinner with a Twist,” “Sunday Brunch,” and “Flavors of L.A.” (No smog jokes, please.) Tickets are available on the website, starting at $100 and up for adults, with added discounts for L.A. Times subscribers. [Read more…]