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Pittman, Dutton & Hellums Team Named 2018 Super Lawyers

At Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, we are thrilled to announce that our four of our founders and team members have once again been included on the 2018 roster of Super Lawyers. This prestigious honor is only achieved by no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. This is the tenth consecutive year our firm’s founders Tom Dutton and Lee Pittman have been included on the list, and the sixth consecutive year founder Chris Hellums has been included. This is the third consecutive year attorney Jon Mann has been named to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, an honor that only 2.5 percent of lawyers achieve.

We’re incredibly proud to receive this distinguished accomplishment,” says Pittman. “Our firm strives to serve our clients with the utmost in ethical considerations and due diligence. To be recognized by this renowned organization and by our peers in the law field is truly an honor.”

Worthy Consideration

Super Lawyers, which produces the Super Lawyers Magazine, rates outstanding lawyers out of more than 70 practice areas. To be considered for inclusion, nominees are nominated by peers from within their states and participate in a rigorous selection process that includes peer evaluations and independent research. Candidates are evaluated based on a dozen indicators, including professional achievements and peer recognition.

To be nominated in itself is a privilege that our firm’s team members greatly appreciate,” Dutton says. “Receiving the title motivates each member of our team to continue the level excellence our clients have come to expect. We’re passionate about our work, and achieving the Super Lawyers distinction reinforces our commitment to continued growth in our practice and in what we can provide to our clients and community.”

To be eligible for the Rising Stars category, candidates must be either in practice for 10 years or less or be 40 years old or younger.

I feel so thankful to be included in the Rising Stars roster for Super Lawyers,” Mann says. “The team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums holds each other accountable for exceeding expectations and doing our best work. The caliber of professionals I’m surrounded by within the Rising Stars category inspires me to keep contributing at a high level and be a meaningful representative of our firm.”

Super Lawyers Pittman Dutton HellumsMeet the Lawyers

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums was founded to provide those in need with experienced, ethical and dedicated law professionals to help them obtain the justice and compensation they deserve. Learn more about the four Pittman, Dutton & Hellums attorneys who have been recognized by Super Lawyers in 2017 below.

Tom Dutton‘s practice areas focus on medical malpractice, nursing home malpractice, defective medical devices and equipment and pharmaceutical mass torts. Dutton’s representation of clients extends throughout the United States, giving the firm a national presence and helping those clients who need an experienced attorney in these areas the most. Dutton is an Alabama native and founding partner of the firm. He is a member of the American Association for Justice, Alabama Bar Association, Alabama Association for Justice, Birmingham Bar Association and Mississippi Bar Association.

Chris Hellums is an Alabama native and shareholder in Pittman, Dutton & Hellums. He practices litigation in areas including bad faith, class actions, commercial disputes, consumer protection, identity theft, insurance fraud, personal injury and tax shelters. Hellums practices law on a national level and is a member of the Alabama State Bar Association, Alabama Association for Justice, American Association for Justice and Birmingham Bar Association.

Jon Mann‘s primary areas of practice include auto and trucking accidents, bad faith, commercial disputes, defective medical devices, insurance fraud, mass torts, personal injury and product liability involving pharmaceutical drugs. He practices law throughout the United States and is a member of the Alabama State Bar Association, Alabama Association for Justice, American Association for Justice and Birmingham Bar Association.

W. Lee Pittman‘s practice areas include personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, workers’ compensation, consumer protection, environmental law, health and health care law, class actions, mass torts, product liability, fraud, aviation, nursing home abuse and neglect, and toxic torts. Pittman is a member of the Alabama Bar, Birmingham Bar, American Bar Association and American Association of Justice. As a founding partner of the firm, Pittman strives to be an ally for his clients through a dedicated commitment to serving their needs.

The Pittman, Dutton & Hellums law firm includes a robust team of experienced, caring and empathetic law professionals who work for their clients’ best interests to ensure compensation is fair and just. If you need attorney representation in any of the areas our firm practices in, please contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation at (866) 722-0250 or by emailing us here.

Mass Torts Trends and Definitions

Spike in Mass Torts Cases being filed

During 2016, according to court statistics, there has been an increase of 25% in successful Mass Torts cases being filed over the number filed in 2015. Much of this is due to increased courtroom efficiency, change in administrative processes, and several streamlined legal delineations meant to clean up courtroom process and procedures thereby making it easier to both file a mass torts case and potentially receive remuneration.

Many of the cases involved with this spike in filings deals with the drug Reglan. However, inventory of cases involving the antipsychotic drug Risperdal is coming in at a close second. The Reglan cases are approximately 34% of the Mass Tort case inventory. The Risperdal cases comprise over 31% of the collective mass tort docket. Previously, in 2015, 43% of the cases involved Reglan and Risperdal cases were slightly more than 26%.

The blood thinner Xarelto also saw a large increase – 121% – from 2016 in comparison to 2015.  Conversely, the largest decrease in mass torts filings was with the Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella program. One of the reasons for this may have been the $57 million settlement over claims that these contraceptive pills cause blood clots.

Legal Definition of Mass Torts

To qualify as a tortious charge in accordance with mass tort law, the basic legal definition is that a mass tort is a collective tort or injury to more than one person. The two instances of mass torts can be:

 

  • Involve several victims with many lawyers, but a single common instrument; such as defective medicine or defective medical device.

 

Common types of Mass Torts cases

There are a wide variety of types of cases that qualify as mass torts. A comprehensive list includes:

Intentional Interference with a Person

Defenses to Intentional Interference with Persons

Negligence: Standard of Conduct

Owners & Occupiers

Negligence- Defenses

Imputed Negligence

Strict Liability

Nuisance

Products Liability

Survival & Wrongful Death

Compensation for Mass Torts cases

For tort cases, many times the victims will receive compensation of some kind; including monetary judgments. Some other types of recompense or case results may include the accused having to publicly admit guilt. In most jurisdictions, courts have placed limits or legal judgment ranges which depend on specific factors unique to each individual case. For many victims who sustain injuries, they will receive a judgment which maxes out regardless of how painful and permanent the injury is. However, courts can also award additional judgments in tandem with the award made for specific bodily injury.

When to file a Mass Torts case

Your mass tort case, like a class action, will involve a large group of individuals who have a claim against a company. The difference is that a mass tort case comprises a number of individual claims handled by one attorney or a number of lawyers who happen to be grouped together for a brief time – usually for reasons of discovery.

Many mass torts can be related to cases involving pharmaceuticals which have caused harm to many people. The injuries the plaintiffs sustain can vary – which is why filing a class action suit is both impractical and inappropriate. One sufferer may have developed long-lasting brain damage and another may simply experience periodic headaches.

Mass torts allow the lawyer or attorney(s) representing all the individual parties to investigate, pool information, and share discovery findings with each particular case. This allows a large number of cases to move more rapidly through the legal system.

What Should I Do if my case qualifies as a Mass Torts procedure?

To determine whether your case qualifies as a mass torts action or to determine your next steps, it is critical to remember that your individual case is subject to a statute of limitations. Depending on which state you are in, the clock begins to run down anytime after the injury first began or potentially when you first recognized the cause of your injury. Our qualified legal team can assist you in determining the relevant statute of limitations. We will help you file your claim well within the statute of limitations and far before the clock runs out.

 

Call our expert team of lawyers at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for your free consultation today. Call (866) 515-8880 or simply fill out our form. We serve clients nationwide. Our highly qualified legal representatives will get you a fair and just settlement or determine whether to move your case to trial.

Chris Hellums Joins Colleagues in Abilify Litigation

If Abilify is a familiar sounding name to you, that may be because it is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.

Abilify, used to treat major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, has been associated with compulsive gambling behavior while using the drug. Thousands of Americans who were using Abilify, often at the recommendation of physician, received no proper warnings of the compulsive gambling habits, and, in turn, many have lost all of their savings or retirement.

Legal Action

Chris HellumsOn December 16th, 2016 in United States District Court, Northeastern District of Florida’s Pensacola Division, the Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers ordered firm partner Chris Hellums to be appointed to the plaintiff’s leadership council. This leadership position, alongside a number of distinguished colleagues, will oversee the litigation on behalf of thousands of claimants from around the United States.

In addition to being named to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee, and in light of his experience, skill, and knowledge in this area of law, Mr. Hellums has also been appointed to the Plaintiff’s Fees and Common Benefit Fund Committee.

The History of Abilify

Developed by a Japanese pharmaceutical giant, Otsuka, in 2002, and marketed jointly with Bristol-Meters Squibb, it is one of the most profitable drugs in US history and it is was reported that the drug earned the company more than $6 billion in 2013. In 2007 the drug maker reached a settlement with the Justice Department for improperly marketing the drug for use in children just after its approval in 2002 through 2005.

The Recent Science

In July 2011 a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed three case studies showing “distinct changes in their approach to gambling”, and most importantly, that the urges to gamble ceased once the use of Abilify was discontinued.

The 2014 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed unusual and severe impulse control disorders for dopamine receptor agonist drugs. These impulse control disorders frequently involved behaviors such as pathological gambling, hyper-sexuality, compulsive shopping, and while less frequent, binge eating.

The Losses

According to The Economist, Americans lost nearly $120 billion in 2013 alone, with a considerable amount of those losses at casinos.

Abilify Gambling Losses

Most casino players keep a player card which tracks wins and losses, and depending on the location, may offer benefits “comps” or other rewards. These cards do potentially include a record of losses over the years, and if you or someone you know has lost a considerable amount of money gambling while taking Abilify, it is encouraged to contact our firm for a free consultation.

Scientific studies have stated for more than five years that Abilify is linked to gambling and other compulsive behaviors, but have failed to adequately warn consumer on the financial risk. To begin a consultation, contact us at 866-515-8880 today.

Protecting Yourself from a Car Accident with Uninsured Driver in Alabama

Driver Stressed What To Do In An Accident With An Uninsured Driver

When you’re involved in a car crash, “stressful” is the mildest word to describe the situation you find yourself in. If you’re extremely fortunate, the most you will suffer is a derailed schedule because the driver who caused the accident quickly pays for the damages to your vehicle.

However, even a minor car collision can become a major disaster when the other driver does not have insurance and refuses to pay for damages. While Alabama state law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, some uninsured drivers choose to get behind the wheel illegally. Others may be insured but not have adequate coverage to compensate the damage done to you and your vehicle.

Your options when dealing with an uninsured driver can often throw the whole process into a tailspin. Sometimes, it even results in you being forced to bear the financial burden for a collision that was not your fault.

What Happens If You’re in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

If you are in a car crash with an uninsured driver (or a driver whose insurance is not sufficient to cover your damages), your own insurance provider may become your foe instead of your friend. Without another driver’s insurance to bill, insurance providers may deny claims that they might have approved, or simply delay processing the claim in an effort to avoid it altogether.

This can be a terrible ordeal for someone who is suffering from injuries or significant vehicle damage, along with the financial burdens that come with both. In this situation, a car accident victim is forced to choose between taking on enormous medical bills without the benefit of the insurance policy they paid for, or going without treatment because they cannot afford it.

Alabama Insurance and Liability in Car Accidents

Unlike many other states, Alabama is a “fault” state regarding car accidents and insurance coverage. This means that the fault (or legal responsibility) of the drivers involved in the crash will affect how compensation is paid to those who are injured – or whose property is damaged – as a result of the accident. It also means that Alabama drivers have multiple options when it comes to proceeding with a claim for compensation after an accident. These options include:

  • Filing a claim with one’s own insurance company, according to the terms of the policy
  • Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance (sometimes called a “third-party claim”)
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driverreviewing insurance documents

While every registered vehicle driver is required by state law to have liability insurance (a minimum of $25,000 per person, $25,000 in property damage coverage, and $50,000 total insurance for personal injuries caused by negligent driving), it sometimes happens that a driver’s insurance policy is not sufficient to pay for the damage done to the other driver. At other times, the at-fault driver is driving illegally without insurance.

In either case, while the driver may find himself on the wrong side of the law, you are still left in a very real predicament. Even if the other driver faces penalties for driving without insurance, this does nothing to help you with the financial burdens you are suffering through no fault of your own.

What Are Your Options After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

Many victims of uninsured driver accidents naturally think that a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is the answer to their problem. But the very reason that most uninsured drivers fail to get insurance is because they have no money to pay for it. So while a court or judge may find the other driver guilty in your case, there is little they can do to help you collect damages from a driver who simply does not have any money.

The alternative to shouldering the entire financial burden yourself is to hire a car accident attorney who can help you file a claim with your own insurance company. An experienced accident attorney will deal with your insurance provider, working on your behalf to settle on a sum that adequately compensates the costs of your medical care and vehicle damage.

Uninsured Coverage or Lawsuit

Nobody expects to find themselves involved in a car crash, much less one with an uninsured driver. But these events do happen, and it is precisely in these instances that many insurance providers in Alabama offer optional uninsured motorist coverage. It is a good option to consider purchasing because the coverage gives you a much better chance of getting the financial amount you deserve when filing a claim with your insurance provider.

After an accident, the stress of dealing with an uninsured driver is the last thing you need. By working with an experienced car accident attorney, you can focus on your recovery while having the assurance that your rights are being defended by an expert.

If you’ve suffered from a car accident with an uninsured driver in Alabama, don’t let your insurance company make you a victim all over again. Contact the team of attorneys at Pittman Dutton & Hellums to make sure that your rights are honored and that you get the financial compensation you deserve.

Sleep Deprived Teens More Likely to Be in an Accident

Increased Risk of Drowsy Driving Accident

Sleep deprived

Data from the CDC shows drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years are 80 percent more likely to be in a drowsy driving accident

Most of us remember our high school years with a combination of fond nostalgia and shuddering relief not to be there anymore. Along with the emotional highs and lows, and the pressures of school balanced against the stresses of home and social life, a prominent memory for many is being hustled out of bed by a parent or sibling, and racing the clock to get to school on time.

It’s easy to look back on those early mornings (and the late nights of studying that preceded them) as a teenage rite of passage. But doctors and researchers are finding that those early mornings are actually symptomatic of a real problem, one that poses real dangers to the future of students and their community.

Sleep-deprived teens are susceptible to many different ills. Poor performance in school, behavioral problems at home, and chronic health symptoms over time are just a few of the results from high school students getting too little sleep.

Beyond the damage to just themselves and their families, sleep deprived teens pose a threat to the safety of their local community. CDC data shows that drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years are 80 percent more likely to be in a drowsy driving accident. These accidents contribute to the number of motor vehicle crashes, making it the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.

These drowsy driving rates are linked to the demanding schedules in most U.S. high schools. According to a 2014 study, teen drivers who start class earlier in the morning are involved in significantly more motor vehicle accidents than those with later start times. In addition, teenage drivers are found to have the highest risk for falling asleep at the wheel.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Doctors agree that teenagers have a higher requirement for sleep than adults, due to the physical demands of adolescence. Puberty brings a lot of changes that tax the body’s energy reserves, from growing muscles and limbs to the emotional ups and downs caused by changing hormone levels.

Another factor is changing circadian rhythms; researchers have found that the human body’s internal clock shifts about two hours later during adolescence. This means that a teenager suddenly finds it hard to fall asleep before 11:00pm; combine that with an average school start time of 7:59am, and you have a sleep deficit that only grows as the school year progresses. Long weekend lie-ins only make this sleep deficit worse, since the body is unable to establish a proper sleep schedule with irregular hours.

Since lack of sleep significantly increases teens’ risk for drowsy driving accidents, it is vital that parents help teenagers understand their biological need for sleep, and support them in making choices that protect not only their safety, but also that of others on the road. Along with improving teenagers’ mental, physical and emotional health, helping your high school student get adequate sleep is an important way to maintain the safety of your community.