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Gerry Oginski's New York Medical Malpractice Blog

Welcome to my blog!

This blog is designed to educate and inform you about interesting things in the world of medicine and law and how they intersect. I offer news items, commentary and opinion on my blog. I welcome your comments and thoughts. To learn more about how medical malpractice, accident cases and wrongful death cases work in New York, I encourage you to explore my popular website here. As always, if you have legal questions, I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by email at Gerry@Oginski-law.com. I welcome your call!


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Can You Maintain a Healthy Weight This Holiday Season?

Experts are saying that new supplement prevents weight gain and trims fat around the waist. In a clinical trial run by a group of experts in London, they found

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Does a Second Risk of Breast Cancer Increase Over Time?

Reuters reports that with gene mutations a second breast cancer risk rises over time. Are women who are genetically susceptible to breast cancer and have it in

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She Didn't Know if She Had a Valid Medical Malpractice Case

Woman has routine gyn surgery in NY. Winds up in hospital for 3 weeks. Begins to wonder whether doctor did something improper to cause her injury. Valid case?

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How Writing Every Day Has Made Me a Better Lawyer

I love to write. When I do it transforms me and takes me to a different place. The key benefit of writing every day is that it has made me a better lawyer.

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While on vacation in St. Maarten, I wanted to create a short story that used all five of our senses. While waiting for my family, here's what I came up with...

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Gerry Oginski
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Heart Attacks Now Treated Much Faster

An encouraging new study shows that hospitals are now treating major heart attacks within 90 minutes of arrival, the time recommended by experts.

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Gerry Oginski
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Pharmacty Error: Family Claims Wrong Prescription Caused Death of 12 Year Old

The New York Post this week reported on a tragic medical error that is now on its way to court. 12-year-old Phillipe Galette died on April 2, 2010 because of a

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Gerry Oginski
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Handicapped Chasidic Jew Sues NYC Businesses That Are Not Handicap Accessible

Zoltan Hirsch, a double amputee in a wheelchair, goes around the five boroughs of New York looking for stores that do not allow handicapped access. When he

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Gerry Oginski
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An article in today's Newsday describes a recent study done by the government that cost $250 million to determine whether CT scans are a reliable and effective method of screening for early detection of lung cancer.The government project showed a 20% reduction in mortality through spiral or helical CT scanning. As of yet, private insurers do not cover CT scans for routine lung cancer screening according to Dr. Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, a sponsor of the CT scanning research.

As with any new diagnostic test that is expensive, many medical policy skeptics decry the use of diagnostic imaging based on ever-increasing health care costs. The Newsday article says that some medical policy experts have questioned the cost of cancer screenings of all kinds, citing false positives. I have written extensively on this topic before, and whenever medical policy experts get involved, you must always ask what their hidden agenda is. Typically it involves trying to reduce healthcare costs associated with diagnostic tests and treatments. Many of the so-called “policy experts” believe diagnostic tests and treatments are “unnecessary.”

The next time somebody tells you that you may have the early stages of a fatal disease, ask them what they would do if there was a test available that would detect this at an early-stage. Ask them whether they are willing to forgo early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in order to save an insurance company from paying $500-$1000 for diagnostic test. According to this government study, a CT scan is effective in diagnosing early lung cancers.

Dr. Harry Raftopoulos, a medical oncologist at North Shore-LIJ's Monti Cancer Center was quoted as saying there are no screening standards currently. The only ones in use are the ones created for this project to determine which patients would be right for this study. Interestingly, he asked a pressing question: "What are doctors  supposed to do when they diagnose an abnormal finding? He said there may also be a risk of exposing patients to unnecessary biopsies as a result of abnormal findings. However, both experts noted above predicted that their hospitals would eventually develop CT screening criteria that would allow patients to undergo this lung cancer screening test.

The article also quoted Dr. Jeff Schneider, director of lung cancer program at Winthrop University Medical Center saying that this study is groundbreaking. Hopefully, with early detection, patients can receive early diagnosis and treatment, which is exactly the goal for both doctor and patient.

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Gerry Oginski
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You've Been Taking Avandia-Is There Really a Risk?

Avandia, an oral hypoglycemic agent (OHA) used in treating diabetes, has been in the news recently because of concern that it is associated with an excessive number of adverse events in users of the drug. “Avandia users experience 30% more heart attacks,” headlines read this summer. The FDA on July 14 determined that existing warnings regarding the drug are sufficient and that the drug does not need to be removed from the market. So what’s the truth? Why the hype? Why the confusion?

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Gerry Oginski
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Pregnancies and the birthing process can take a heavy toll on a woman’s body.  As a result, many women undergo one or more operations after bearing children to help them recover their appearance from before having kids.  Women undergo these operations to have a better future but mistakes made by plastic surgeons can mean that these women have no future at all.

That is what happened to a 36 year old woman in Virginia Beach, California, who had a breast lift, tummy tuck, and liposuction to help return her appearance to the way it was before she had four children.  Within forty hours of having the operation, the woman was dead.  After an autopsy, it was revealed that the woman suffered from aspiration pneumonia after contents of her stomach went up her esophagus and then went down into her lungs. Aspiration pneumonia is mostly seen in anesthesia cases where the anesthesiologist fails to recognize that the patient has vomited during surgery and then the stomach contents are inhaled into their lungs. The stomach contents are highly acidic and when they go into the lungs, can have a devastating and deadly effect.

Before leaving the hospital, the woman reported having shortness of breath and the attorney who represented the woman’s estate claimed she was “whisked out the door” by the hospital.  A jury returned a $1.9 million dollar verdict.
To learn more about how medical malpractice cases work here in New York, I encourage you to explore my website http://www.oginski-law.com. If you have legal questions, and I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at lawmed10@yahoo.com. I welcome your call.

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Gerry Oginski
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How to Choose a New York Lawyer From a TV Commercial

You need to find an attorney. You're watching TV and see 5 different lawyer ads. How do you choose which law firm is right for you? Read the article to find out.

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Gerry Oginski
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When looking for an attorney online it is often difficult to determine which lawyer is right for you. Before making any decision, look critically at the information the lawyer is providing to you, either in an advertisement, an article or even a video. If the lawyer simply provides a brief message that says nothing more than "Call me because I'm here," ask yourself "Why?"

Selecting the right attorney to help solve your legal problem is an important decision. Read the article to learn the difference between pay per click ads and organic search results. Find out what experience this particular attorney has and how it can help you in your quest for justice. At the end of the article, read the conclusion for a neat little trick that will tell you a lot about any attorney that you call. 

To read the full article, click here. 

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Gerry Oginski
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Your dreams are gifts that set you in motion.

On the tides of time where life is an ocean.

Your sails  are filled with the winds of desire, to surge through the wake of muck and mire.

And when you awaken with your goal at hand, you see your true destination was the voyage, not the land! 

(Comment: I read this many years ago, and found it to be very inspiring. I would love to credit the author, but do not know who it is.) 

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Gerry Oginski
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July 4, 2009

At 7 PM on July 4, in Fort Myers airport, Florida my family and I were walking toward the boarding gate of our JetBlue flight 138 heading back home to New York. As we approached the boarding gate, we saw a gate attendant kneeling on the floor next to an elderly man who was clearly unresponsive. The gate attendant had his finger on the man’s carotid artery, checking for a pulse. My son immediately dropped his laptop ran over to the man on the floor, announced that he was a first responder and a firefighter and also checked for a pulse. Having found no pulse and that he was not breathing, my son directed that they immediately begin CPR and advised the gate attendant to begin chest compressions.

A few moments later, a Port Authority policeman arrived and my son requested a mask to ventilate his lungs.

Together, the gate attendant and my son worked as a team to perform CPR on this cardiac arrest victim. If you’ve ever performed CPR it is physically taxing. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re focused on reviving the patient. 

Chest compressions and ventilation continued for minutes until the pilot of our plane and another Port Authority police officer arrived with an automatic external defibrillator. Two large electrodes strips were placed on this man’s body and the defibrilator was activated.

If you’ve never seen an automatic defibrillator in action, it’s fascinating to watch and to hear. It announces that it is evaluating the patient’s heart rate and once it has finished assessing heart rate, it immediately recommends action and whether or not to shock the patient in an attempt to restore the normal heart rhythm.

After the first assessment was made by the automatic defibrilator, it recommended that the patient be shocked immediately. Once you press the button to administer the shock, the automatic defibrilator advises that everyone should stand back away from the patient. If you’ve ever seen someone shocked using defibrillator paddles on TV, it is the same as watching it in real life. A tremendous jolt of electricity is sent throughout the patient’s body to try and restore the heart rhythm or to get the heart rhythm reverted back to normal.

In this case, after the shock had been administered, my son and the gate attendant continued CPR until the automatic defibrilator advised to momentarily stop so it could check for a heart rate. At this point, there was still no heart rate or respirations. The defibrillator again recommended shocking the patient, and after the patient was shocked for the second time, the patient regained a pulse and respirations. My son together with an EMS attendant and the gate attendant turned the patient onto his side in order to prevent him from inhaling any fluids into his lungs (known as aspiration), now that he was breathing again. 

By this time, two other emergency medical crews arrived and took over where my son had left off.

My son is 17 years old and is a volunteer firefighter with the Vigilant Fire Department here in Great Neck. Watching my son take control of this medical emergency  and selflessly run to help this man in distress gave me the greatest feeling I could ever have as a parent. All of his training with the fire department effortlessly kicked into gear and I’m proud to say that my son helped save a life on July 4, 2009, Independence Day.

On the plane ride home to New York, my son told me this was his 15th time performing CPR. Looking at him, I could see the sparkle in his eye knowing that he did something good for someone else. Even though we were unaware of this man’s fate, I couldn’t help but think what a great person my son turned out to be.

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Gerry Oginski
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In this 12 page newsletter you'll learn about Gerry's new book, "Doctors Gone Wild." Learn how medicare and medicaid can ruin your accident lawsuit. Find out how Twitter and Facebook led to mistrials in recent lawsuits. Read about a juror in New York who was Twittering during the jury selection process. Learn why a permanent nerve injury resulted in a $1 Million Dollar settlement. Test your knowledge of medical malpractice and negligence cases in NY; Try our trivia game, and see what sits on top of the St. Maarten Courthouse.

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Gerry Oginski
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Every person who calls my office thinks that they are the perfect client.
Every person truly believes they have a valid case.
Every caller believes their injuries are worth more than the national treasury.

From an attorney's perspective, just who is the perfect client?

A perfect client is one who is willing to listen.
A perfect client is one who is willing to learn.
A perfect client is one who is willing to go on a stressful journey with someone they trust as their legal guide.
A perfect client it one who communicates with me.
A perfect client is one who does not demand, yell, scream or give ultimatums.
A perfect client is one who, after listening to my lawyerly advice, makes an intelligent decision about how to proceed, regardless of whether they agree with my advice or not.
A perfect client is one who responds to my letters, emails and phone calls.
A perfect client is one who is helpful and assists me when I prosecute their case. 

A perfect client respects me, my time and my secretary.

Does every client have to be the perfect client? No. But having a perfect client makes the attorney-client relationship that much more enjoyable.

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Gerry Oginski
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Just today I received mail from a company called Elite Lawyers of America asking me to join their organization to promote my success stories. How did they propose to do that? By joining an organization that supposedly restricts its membership to attorneys who have had awards, settlements or verdicts of at least two million dollars. Now I have no problem with an attorney who wants to tell their prospective clients about their accomplishments. Keep reading to find out the catch.

"Acceptance in this organization represents an incredible accomplishment by the civil trial attorney." You may ask, "What do I get for joining this Elite group?"

Well my friends, I get a lucite object to put on my desk which is etched with the name of the (previously never heard of) organization and a statement that says "Membership limited to civil trial lawyers who have obtained a verdict or settlement of at least 2 Million dollars." Then there is a place for your name, and the accompanying photo says "Your name here." How nice.

And the cost to have this company pay a few dollars to put my name on a generic lucite obelisk and for a fancy certificate I can impress you with? Only $500. Payment of this fee guarantees lifetime membership. Ooh, I feel so lucky.

Guess what? I personally don't need to spend $500 to show my clients that I have obtained settlements in excess of $2 million dollars. All they need to do is read my website and realize some of my accomplishments include settling a failure to diagnose heart attack case for $6 million dollars. Why do I tell you about this? The next time you walk into an attorney's office and are impressed with their certificates and fancy objects on their desk, look closely at it and ask them how they got it. The answers may surprise you.

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Gerry Oginski
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As of Monday, January 26, 2009, Gerry has been named as a faculty member of Solo Practice University!
Solo Practice University is an online school for lawyers to learn about areas of law they never learned in law school. SOLO PRACTICE UNIVERSITY™ is a revolutionary new web-based educational community that picks up where legal education left off.

"Learn from some of the most progressive lawyers, marketing pros, technology consultants and legal business giants how to:

  • Plan, build and grow your private practice
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Attract and engage new clients more easily

… and much more. They just can’t teach you that in law school."

Gerry will be teaching two classes at Solo Practice University:

The first will be about Creating Online Video for lawyers.
The second will be about Medical Malpractice Law here in the State of New York. 

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Gerry Oginski
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A former client of mine related this story to me recently. It was only after I had settled her case did she tell me what her friends said shortly after she told them she hired a solo practitioner for her injury case.

"How can you hire a one-man law firm?" one of her friends asked.
"What happens if he gets sick?" asked another.
"How does he have the resources that a large firm has?" said another good friend.
"What is it about him that made you choose him over the other law firms you looked into?"

The answers were revealing.

She told her well-meaning friends that I was the only lawyer who provided information to her before she ever came into my office. None of the other law firms she spoke to would give her any information about cases like hers. In fact, out of five New York law firms she contacted, I was the only lawyer who actually got on the phone to talk to her. All the other calls were intercepted by receptionists who wanted to set up an appointment for her instead.
She explained to her friends that on my website I gave free reports about how medical malpractice cases work. This was new to her and the information was very helpful to understand how a case works. She was also grateful to learn how a lawyer actually evaluates a potential medical malpractice case in New York. Before looking at my website, she had preconceived ideas about what types of cases are accepted by injury and accident lawyers in New York. My reports helped her understand the procedure a lawyer must go through to determine whether someone has a valid case.

This woman explained to her friends that she had spoken to a paralegal at one of the big law firms in New York City about how they communicate with their clients. This is what she was told: "You'll meet an associate when you first come to us. They'll gather all the information about your case. Once we get your records and determine that you have a valid case, your matter will be assigned to a team of lawyers consisting of a senior trial lawyer, an associate and a paralegal." When she asked when she'd get to meet with the senior trial lawyer, she was told that only if her case went to trial would she meet with him. Otherwise she'd be dealing with the associate on day-to-day matters. The paralegal was very flip about how simple it was to get information from her and from the associate. "Don't worry, we know exactly what's going on with your case every day," was her comment.

When my soon-to-be client called this law firm later that day to ask the paralegal more questions, her conversation started out like this: "Thank you for calling _____ law firm. How may I direct your call?"
"I'd like to speak to the paralegal I was speaking to earlier about a potential case."
"Do you know her name?" "No."
"Well, we have over 20 paralegals here. How do you spell your last name?"
"Never mind," she replied, frustrated with being unable to speak to the person she spoke to earlier.

Another law firm she spoke to refused to tell her anything over the phone. This is understandable since there are many legal dangers that arise if an attorney gives out legal advice over the telephone. First, there's no attorney-client relationship when someone calls with a question on the phone. Theoretically, anything that is discussed might be discoverable at a later time. Second, there are so many facts that may be missing that it would not be appropriate for a lawyer to give legal advice based on incomplete information. Ideally, the lawyer wants the person to come in, explain the problem, and then give the potential client an informed and educated decision based on their particular facts.
However, many attorneys refuse to discuss anything with a potential client until they walk in the door of their office.

What this young woman found particularly helpful were the video tips on my video blog and my website that discuss different areas of medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury law. In my educational videos I offer useful general information to help a website visitor understand how the legal process works. In one video I explain in detail how a medical malpractice lawsuit works from start to finish. In another video I explain some of the interesting cases I have handled where I have obtained compensation for my clients who have been injured.

This woman also told her friends that she asked each law firm she called how often the lawyer communicates with her about updates on her case. These were the replies she received:

"We send you a quarterly letter advising you what's going on with your case."
"Oh, we don't send written updates. If you want to know what's happening, you have to call us. If we sent updates to all of our clients on a regular basis, we'd spend most of our day writing letters."

When she came to my office, she was pleased to learn that I send written updates once a month. She also learned that I call my clients often and email them as well. She was even more surprised to learn that I answer my own phone often, and always promptly return my client's calls. There's no paralegal in my office who asks "How do you spell your last name?" My paralegal knows who my clients are, and gets to know them well. There's no associate who has to ask another attorney, "What happened on that case the last time you went on a conference in court?" There's no running to the file or checking the computer to find out what last happened on your case, because in my office, I am the only one who handles your case, start to finish. I know exactly what is going on with your case at any time, because I am the only one who handles it. Not a paralegal. Not an associate. Not a junior partner. Just me; a solo practitioner who has been in practice in New York for twenty years.

This woman asked me during our first meeting "How can you compete with the big law firms in terms of legal research?" My answer shocked her. I told her I don't need a big law library with musty old law books. Everything I need is on my computer. Legal research is all computerized now. The solo practitioner has the same legal research capability as the largest law firm. I told her that if a case was beyond my reach and required resources that I simply did not have, I would never accept it and would refer the potential client to another law firm that did have the ability to handle it.

Importantly, I mentioned that if she felt the need to go to a large law firm in New York City and help pay for their fancy offices and beautiful mahogany furnishings and gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows with offices looking out over the city, then by all means she should go there. However, I also told her that those beautiful offices don't win lawsuits. It is the attorney who occupies a particular office that wins cases. Regardless of whether that office is in Manhattan or Long Island. "If you want to be another fish in the ocean, I'm sure you will be very happy with that law firm. If however you want to have personal attention every step of the way, then a small law firm is the one for you."

I am pleased to say that this woman was extremely happy with her choice of attorneys. After she finished explaining her reasoning to her friends, you didn't hear any more laughing over her choice of attorney for her case. The only comments she heard were "You know, you're right." "I'm sorry I doubted your choice of lawyers." "I didn't realize there was such a difference between law firms."

About Gerry:

Gerry Oginski is an experienced medical malpractice & personal injury trial lawyer practicing law in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, New York, Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk & Long Island and has been in practice since 1988.

He is a graduate of Touro College, Jacob Fuchsberg College of Law in Huntington, NY and he is admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut. He started his legal career working for a defense firm on Wall Street representing doctors, hospitals and businesses who were sued. Four years later he felt the gravitational pull to represent injured victims of medical negligence and accidents. After doing defense work, he joined a personal injury law firm in Brooklyn, NY representing injured victims, and then four years later, joined forces with a large law firm in Queens, NY. While there, he was in charge of the medical malpractice department, and in 2002 opened his own office for the practice of law. His main office is located in Great Neck, Long Island, and he has affiliate offices in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Gerry prides himself on knowing all the details of each case he handles. Cases are not handed off to associates. When a client calls, he doesn't need to check a file to determine what happened last on the client's case. He knows what happened, since he was the one who handled the matter.

Gerry has become a prolific writer and publishes a monthly newsletter full of legal news, fun trivia games, and a never-ending fictional story that has won him accolades with all who read his newsletter. In addition to his newsletter, he has produced and created an entire video library of instructional videos that help consumers learn about medical malpractice and accident law in New York.

Gerry welcomes all calls about any accident or injury from a doctor or hospital in the State of New York. He promises to give you a straightforward and honest answer about every question you ask. Take a look at his website, where he has over 200 FAQ's, free reports about medical malpractice, wrongful death and accident cases, actual testimony of doctors in cases he's handled, and an entire video library you really should see.

If that's not enough, take a look at his blog where he offers free information about medical malpractice and accident law and when you've finished reading his blog at http://nymedicalmalpractice.blogspot.com, jump over to his video blog where he has most of his videos posted at http://medicalmalpracticetutorial.blogspot.com - you'll be glad you did.

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Gerry Oginski
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Here's an article directly on point with lawyer behavior that is simply unacceptable. It describes lawyers actually soliciting injured victims and their families and encouraging them to sign up with a particular law firm following the train accident tragedy in California. Correctly, the California Bar has reminded attorneys that soliciting victims is unethical and improper. In New York, in a mass disaster, lawyers are prevented from contacting any victim or family member within 30 days of the accident. There are very few exceptions. Ask yourself this question: "Would you hire a painter because he knocks on your door, telling you he's trolling around the neighborhood and sees that your house is in need of new paint?"

"Would you hire a contractor who calls you out of the blue to say you need to renovate your kitchen?" How did he get your name? Simple, from his friend who is a refrigerator repair man, who called him to say that you could certainly use a new kitchen. What do you know about him? Have you checked his references? Why does he have to chase customers for business?

Read the article. It's an eye opener.

Lawyers swoop in after the Metrolink crash, looking for clients

State bar officials cite possible professional sanctions, but the aggressive attorneys note that time is limited and the stakes are expected to be very high.
By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 
October 5, 2008
The phone rang at a rare moment between Angie Akins' frantic drives from her home and her husband's bedside in an intensive-care unit, between shuttling to her job and driving her 14-year-old daughter to after-school sports and ballet.

It was a lawyer who'd spotted her husband's name among those badly injured in the Sept. 12 Metrolink crash in Chatsworth. An attorney she had never met was urging her to retain him and sue the government railroad for all it was worth. Only a week had passed since her comfortable suburban life had been upended by tragedy.

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