Missouri Injury Lawyers Blog
Missouri Injury Lawyers Blog


by Sidney E Wheelan, August 19, 2015

The Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals has transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court, an appeal of a $10.8 million verdict for the death of patient during a heart catheterization procedure.  The St. Louis County award included $9 million in noneconomic damages, but state law caps those damages at $350,000. 

Up until 2012, that cap would have applied whether the party’s injuries were fatal or not.  However, in 2012, the Missouri Supreme overturned the damage cap on most non-fatal injuries but allowed the damage caps on wrongful death claims to remain at $350,000. 

As a result of the 2012 decision, someone who is injured due to medical negligence can theoretically collect an unlimited damage award.  Yet the survivors of someone who dies from the same negligence can only collect $350,000 in noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium. 

Because the Eastern District Court of Appeals said this potentially created a violation of federal and state equal protection guarantees, the case was transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court to determine the constitutional issues.  The case is Dodson et al. v. Mercy Hospitals East Community et al., ED100952. 

Recent legislation set to go into effect August 28, 2015, increases the damage limits to $400,000 for most medical malpractice cases.  In catastrophic and wrongful death cases, however, the caps would be $700,000.  It is uncertain at this time how the new law will be affected by any decision on the Dodson case, but it will be interesting to follow as this area of the law evolves.

If you or a loved one suffer serious injury or death as a result of someone’s negligence, please contact Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC of Moberly, Missouri.  Our experienced attorneys will be happy to talk to you and work with you to obtain the best result for your particular situation.  

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Get Your Head Out of the Game: Sustaining Serious Head and Brain Injuries in Sports

by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, July 29, 2015

            Memory loss, headaches, and confusion are just some of the symptoms of concussions. Concussions are injuries to the brain that can cause temporary loss of normal brain function.

            The human brain is made of soft tissue and is protected by the skull, but when the skull sustains a hard blow or fast impact, it can cause serious harm to the brain. This can cause potential tearing of blood vessels, bruising of brain tissue, and pulling of nerve fibers. Contusions and hematomas, a blood clot that collects in or around the brain, can also occur. Swelling of the brain is a serious issue because the brain cannot escape the skull, and severe swelling can compress the brain and its blood vessels, thus limiting the flow of blood to the brain. Strokes can arise from lack of oxygen and necessary sugars in the brain. Severe, even fatal, brain injuries can occur if proper treatment isn’t received after enduring a concussion.

            Second Impact Syndrome is acute, fatal brain swelling. It occurs when the head sustains a hard blow after a previous concussion did not completely heal. This in turn causes the brain to swell rapidly, which is very hard or impossible to control. Second Impact Syndrome occurs most in contact sports such as boxing, football, ice or roller hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, and snow skiing. An average of 1.5 deaths per year result from sports related concussions, and in most cases a concussion that went undiagnosed had previously occurred.

Signs of a concussion:

×        Amnesia

×        Confusion

×        Headache

×        Loss of consciousness

×        Balance problems

×        Double or fuzzy vision

×        Sensitivity to light or sound

×        Nausea

×        Feeling sluggish

×        Memory or concentration problems

×        Slowed reaction time

×        Feeling unusually irritable

Warning signs of serious brain injury:

×        Constant or reoccurring headaches

×        Inability to control motor functions, trouble with balance

×        Hypersensitivity to light or sound, inability to hear, taste or see

×        Dizziness

×        Easily distracted, trouble concentrating, feeling disoriented

×        Confusion

×        Slurred speech, trouble finding “right” word, difficulty expressing words or feelings


            The Return to Play Laws require an athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion to sit out of the game, “When in doubt, sit them out”. Under most  “return to play” laws if an athlete is suspected of having sustained a concussion, the athlete must be evaluated and cleared by a practicing health professional before returning to practice or competition. This law or laws with similar principles have been passed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, there are many young players who are still put at risk by coaches and teams who do not follow the laws. Those who are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of athletes should be prepared to help in any case of a concussion or head related injury. Recognizing the symptoms and signs of injuries due to sudden impact is part of coach’s training. Failure to recognize or treat injuries or ignoring the symptoms is negligent and dangerous to athletes.

Taking safety precautions, such as wearing American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approved helmets or headgear, using a mouth guard and using proper tackling or checking techniques in contact sports, could reduce the chance of suffering a concussion. Never let your child use old or damaged equipment.

            If you or your child has suffered a concussion in an organized sport, you have the right to seek legal council. For a free initial consultation or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Mid-Missouri, St. Louis, or Kansas City, fill out our contact form.

If you want to learn more about how return to play laws cam about:

Story of Zachery Lystedt


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Personal Flotation Device Negligence

by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, July 22, 2015

A PFD or personal flotation device is very important when going out on the water. It may just seem like it is for those who cannot swim, but PFDs could be the difference between life and death, even for the strongest swimmers.

            Three out of four people do not wear a PFD when in or around the water. On average, more than 80% of people in boating accidents died from drowning, but most could have lived if a PFD had been worn.

            An average of 1,000 people die every year due to drowning in a boating accident, and 90% are not wearing a PFD.

            PFDs are regulated and approved by the US Coast Guard, and if the device is damaged or too old to operate properly, then it is illegal to wear. There also must be one life vest or PFD for every person aboard a boat, plus an additional throwable PFD.

Not only is wearing a personal flotation device or life vest essential to preventing drowning, but being aware of others is a key factor. Nine out of ten drownings occur inland, within a few feet of safety, and on boats of 20 feet or less. Disregarding safety of others while boating or other water activities is irresponsible and can cost someone their life.

It takes an adult about 60 seconds to drown; it takes a child about 20 seconds. Neglecting to wear a personal flotation device or life vest could mean death by drowning.


            Injuries can result from ignorance on the part of a boat operator. Those who are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of passengers should be prepared when operating a vessel and have all safety measures covered. Making sure passengers have personal flotation devices and that the PFDs meet US Coast Guard regulation is their responsibility.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or death from a boat operator neglecting to provide a personal flotation device or the PFD failed, you have the right to seek legal counsel. For a free consultation, or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Mid-Missouri, St. Louis, or Kansas City, fill out our contact form.

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Personal Watercraft Accidents

by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, July 15, 2015

What are more commonly known as Jet Skis, personal watercrafts are relatively new to the boating scene, but have quickly become one of the most dangerous watercrafts out there.

            Why are PWCs so dangerous? PWCs are very fast; they have no brakes, and can only be steered while using the throttle. The design of the watercraft makes it very easy to fall off, and if other boaters around aren’t paying attention, you or your PWC could run into another vessel. The PWCs also travel at very high speeds and that makes it more likely for one to collide with another vessel or object in the water. PWCs are made to be small and maneuverable, but that can also make them very hard to see, and because they are so maneuverable, anticipating the operator’s intentions is very hard. Not knowing where they are turning makes it hard for other vessels to go around or avoid them.

Jet Ski Deaths, Injuries, and Accidents Per Year


































The most common injury types are broken bones, lacerations, concussions, and sprains or strains. The primary accident types are collisions with other vessels, collisions with fixed objects, and falls. The contributing factors to these accidents are operator inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout, navigation rules violation, and operator inattention.

PWC Deaths and Injuries Depending on Age


Deaths (651)

Injuries (3000)

12 or less















more than 55




Hopefully PWC companies will make their products safer rather than increase the speed they can reach each year. However here are some tips that may help to prevent PWC injury.

  • Read the owners manual on PWC
  • Wear proper safety equipment (PFD)
  • Never operate PWC without safety lanyard on
  • Do not operate in swim area or around wildlife
  • Lookout for other vessels and be conscious of other operators and what they are doing
  • Respect others on the water
  • Never operate PWC after consuming alcohol

                  If you have been injured or have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to seek compensation for your losses. For experienced legal assistance, you can meet with our attorneys at our offices in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Mid-Missouri, or contact an attorney at the law firm of Tatlow, Gump, Faiella, & Wheelan for a free initial consultation or fill out the contact form on this page.





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Boat Collisions and Right of Way

by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, July 8, 2015

Boat collisions happen every year, mainly because of operator inattention and ignorance of rules. Not knowing the right of way rules can be dangerous to yourself and everyone boating around you. Reviewing the Navigation Rules, regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, can easily prevent collisions.

            Right of Way

  • Give-way vessel: vessel that does not have the right of way
  • Stand-on vessel: vessel that does have right of way
  • If the skipper of an approaching boat doesn’t know the right of way rules, then a series of warning horns can be made to make them aware of what is going on around them.
    • 2 horns for approaching port side
    • 5 horns for danger or on coming vessel

Many individual rules apply to avoiding collisions, like Rule 17(b). The rule states, “When from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision cannot be avoided by the action of the give-way vessel alone, she shall take such action as will best aid to avoid collision.” It is considered the “ultimate rule” in boating. Another important rule is Rule 8(a, c). These rules state that, (a) “Any action taken at avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with Rules 4-29 and shall if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.” (b) “Any alteration of course and/or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course and/or speed should be avoided.”

If you or your loved one have been injured or killed because of a responsible party’s negligent acts, seek immediate legal counsel. If you have been hurt, you have the right to seek compensation. You can meet with our attorneys by appointment in our offices in Mid-Missouri, St. Louis, and Kansas, or contact an experienced attorney at the law firm of Tatlow, Gump, Faiella, & Wheelan for a free initial consultation by filling out the contact form on this page.

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by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, July 1, 2015

Drowning is the number one cause of death in children 5 years old and younger, and the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide. It is also the second cause of injury or death in children 15 years old or younger. There are over 7000 drowning deaths per year. 5000 children 14 years old and younger are hospitalized each year from near drowning incidents, of that, 15% die in the hospital. For ever one child who dies, four are hospitalized. If the child survives, 20% come out with irreversible severe brain damage.

The most deaths occur between the ages of 1 and 3 where 64% of all deaths are caused by drowning, followed by ages 5 through 9 with 16%, 4 year olds with 12%, 10 through 14 year olds with 6%, and 1 year old or less with 2%. Males ages 0 to 14 are more prone to drowning with a 79% death rate verses females’ 29%. African American children are 5.5 times more likely to drown than white children in the age range of 5 through 19 years. The highest rates of death occur in the warmer months, May through August.

It takes a child 20 seconds to drown. Unfortunately drowning can happen if responsible parks fail to monitor swimmers and non-swimmers or watch for unexpected hazards.

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligence of another, seek immediate legal help. Different types of cases have different time limits, called statutes of limitations, in which a lawsuit may be filed. By taking immediate action, you are ensuring that you have the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries. You need experienced help to win the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced attorney at the law firm of Tatlow, Gump, Faiella, & Wheelan, LLC for a free initial consultation or fill out the contact form on this page.

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