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assault and battery

What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

assault and battery

It is often incorrectly assumed that assault and battery are the same charge. In fact, assault is defined as an act that threatens harm along with the ability to carry out the threat. You don’t have to cause physical harm to the victim in order to be charged with assault. Battery is the actual striking or touching of another individual with the intention of committing harm.

Assault is a crime that can be carried out in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high. As there is not always physical injury involved in an assault, it can often be difficult to prove. Therefore, if you are charged with assault in Arizona, get in touch with The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, and we will fight your case aggressively and effectively.

medication error malpractice

Medication Error Malpractice

medication error malpractice

What Is a Medication Error?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a medication error is “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer.” Such errors are among the most common causes of medical malpractice injuries and deaths in the country, harming more than 1.5 million Americans each year. In fact, these errors happen so frequently that the cost of treating medication-related injuries reaches $3.5 billion annually — a figure that doesn’t even account for a patient’s lost wages or additional medical costs.

Unfortunately, medication errors can happen at any stage of your treatment — including at home — and it’s often the most common medications that carry the greatest risks. For example, insulin is used by more than 6 million diabetes sufferers in the nation, yet it remains the most common prescription associated with medication errors. Pain relievers like morphine, codeine, and Vicodin also carry a high risk of medication errors — especially overdoses — in hospitals and in patients’ homes.

Vitamins and over-the-counter medications found in most medicine cabinets can also contribute to a lethal medication error. Failure to inform you of the risks of a prescription can have lethal consequences at home. Neglecting to explain a medication’s contraindications — such as the fatal hemorrhage risk of mixing blood thinners like Heparin with a pain reliever like Advil — is just one example of a medication error that may be easily overlooked by a hurried doctor.

When it comes to medication errors, even the best-case scenarios are grim. The smallest mistake — like missing a decimal point on a prescription’s dosage — can cause permanent damage or even death. Other consequences of medication errors can include long-term disability, astronomical medical bills, and a diminished quality of life.

Medication Error Cases in Arizona

Medical malpractice cases are difficult to file in any state, but in Arizona, these difficulties are compounded by laws intended to reduce so-called frivolous lawsuits. When you file a medical malpractice case in Arizona, the filer must certify “whether or not expert opinion testimony is necessary to prove the health care professional’s standard of care or liability for the claim.” In layman’s terms, unless the error is glaringly obvious, the burden falls on the injured party to hire an expert witness who can tell the judge what good care should look like and prove that the defendant violated this standard of care.

Your expert witness can’t be just any doctor, however. The expert witness must be actively practicing in the defendant’s field or employed as a professor of medicine in the defendant’s specialty. Finding such an expert can be confusing, time-consuming, and emotionally draining for a plaintiff, who may still be suffering from the physical and financial effects of the medication error that started the case to begin with. Even with an expert at hand, you still have to contend with the complicated issues of contributory negligence and joint or severable liability.

Since there is no monetary limit in medical malpractice claims, doctors and hospitals do everything in their power to lessen their accountability. With so much at stake, you can be sure that the defendant in your case will have a retinue of skilled attorneys on hand to protect them. It’s only right that you, the injured party, should receive the same standard of legal aid.

The disturbing truth is that medication errors are often not reported to the patient or family members, especially in a hospital setting. In fact, a study released in 2012 found that families were informed of a medication error in less than 2 percent of hospital cases. If you suspect a medication error has been made, it’s essential to consult professional legal counsel, which can help you find out the truth.

At the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we understand the unique difficulties that victims of medication errors face. Our compassionate Flagstaff malpractice attorneys have helped countless plaintiffs like you recover medical costs and lost wages to help get their lives back to normal. While no settlement amount can reverse the consequences of a medication error, our medical malpractice lawyers will do everything possible to help you receive the compensation that is rightfully yours.

Common Causes of Medication Error Malpractice:

  • Drug name confusion
  • Prescription labeling errors
  • Faulty medication pumps
  • Drug interactions
  • Misinterpreted handwriting on prescriptions
  • Dosage errors
  • Incorrect administration methods
  • Compound mixing errors
  • Incorrect medication substitutions
  • Contaminated medical equipment
  • Failure to prescribe necessary medication
  • Misleading directions for use
  • Failure to disclose contraindications
  • Failure to disclose side effects
Ambien DUI

How Ambien Puts You Under the Influence

Ambien DUI

Ambien, also known by its generic name, Zolpidem, acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. When you take Ambien, your brain activity slows down, allowing insomnia sufferers to get some much needed sleep. However, drugs that act as CNS depressants can have some serious side effects in regard to your memory and motor function. When brain activity is slowed down due to a CNS depressant, the parts of your brain responsible for memory, motor skills, and decision-making are slowed down too.

Combined with the changes in your brain during sleep — or worse, when taken with another depressant, like alcohol — this drug can lead you to engage in dangerous behavior that you may not even be aware of and will likely not remember in the morning.

Sleep walking, sleep eating, and even sleep sex are not uncommon side effects of Ambien, but unfortunately, these sleep behaviors don’t end there. Some insomnia sufferers taking Ambien wake up behind the wheel of a car with police lights flashing in the rearview mirror. “Sleep drivers” perform the complex task of driving while in a half-conscious state between sleeping and waking. Motor function impairment makes sleep driving incredibly dangerous. Sleep drivers are often discovered running into parked cars or driving the wrong way on one-way roads and freeways. Some sleep drivers are even completely unconscious when this behavior occurs.

Sleep drivers charged with driving under the influence often ask, “How can I be held responsible for a DUI when I didn’t even know what I was doing?” That’s a complex question with answers that vary depending on the exact details of your case. In Arizona, voluntarily taking a substance that impairs your ability to drive — even if you didn’t intend to get behind the wheel — makes you accountable for a DUI, despite being unable to remember it later.

The second question sleep drivers ask is, “How can I get in trouble for taking a medication prescribed by my doctor?” While other states limit DUI charges to illicit substances and alcohol, Arizona does not make such a distinction. In fact, Zolpidem is specifically listed as a “dangerous drug” by statute 13-3401. Any amount of Zolpidem in your system puts you legally under the influence of a dangerous substance. This law makes it difficult to defend yourself against DUI charges without legal counsel, even when you’re simply following your doctor’s orders.

That being said, you can still fight Ambien DUI charges — and win your case. A defense attorney with experience trying Ambien DUI cases can help you develop a case that may limit the consequences of this type of charge. The fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently recommended lowering doses is also an asset to defendants, as judges increasingly become aware of the involuntary risks of this drug. Courts are also increasingly marking the distinction between amnesia and unconsciousness while driving under the influence. Amnesia implies that the driver was aware of his or her actions and later forgot, while unconscious drivers took the wheel without any awareness or control of his or her behavior and therefore can’t be held entirely responsible.

Other Ambien DUI cases arise when law enforcement officers order a urine or blood test to establish whether or not a driver was under the influence. If this test reveals any amount of Ambien, you may still receive a DUI, even if you’re not impaired. However, legal precedent has recently tipped in favor of the driver in these situations. In a recent Arizona case, a medical expert informed the court that although the DUI defendant had an involuntary eye-jerk reaction during a sobriety test, Ambien could cause this eye dysfunction without causing any driving impairment.

Each Flagstaff DUI attorney at the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier has a high-level understanding of the unique issues associated with Ambien DUI cases. If you’ve been charged with an Ambien-related DUI that you may not even remember, contact our office to find out how we can help you achieve the most beneficial outcome for your case.

burglary-theft

Is Burglary the Same as Theft?

burglary-theft

While there may be an element of theft involved in a burglary, Arizona state law does not use the terms interchangeably. Burglary can simply involve unlawful entry of a commercial or residential structure without actually stealing any possessions. Theft, on the other hand, must involve the actual taking of property. Burglary relates specifically to buildings, such as commercial properties or houses (and vehicles in certain cases).

indecent exposure

Indecent Exposure

indecent exposure

This relates to a person who exposes his/her genitals or anus and when a female exposes the nipple or areola of her breast in the presence of another person without regard for how that individual perceives the act. If the person who witnessed the crime is under the age of 15, the defendant can be charged with a class 6 felony.

burglary-defense

What Are the Common Defenses for Burglary?

burglary-defense

A skilled team of attorneys has an array of possible defenses, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, it could be proven that you were lawfully entitled to enter the premises. Another defense is to show you had no intention of committing a crime; you may have mistakenly entered the wrong building, or you were forced to commit the crime. Therefore, if you committed a burglary while being threatened, this can be used as a defense.

assault charges

Are There Other Assault Charges?

assault charges

Yes. Threatening or intimidating someone also falls under the assault umbrella in the state of Arizona. If you threaten to harm someone or their property, you could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. If this threat relates to gang recruitment or activity, you can be charged with a class 3 felony, which has a possible jail term of 3.5 years.

Putting someone at risk of death or injury is known as endangerment. In this case, only the risk of injury needs to be present. A misdemeanor charge relates to any act that causes risk of injury and has a potential 12-month prison sentence. A felony charge involves imminent risk of death. Although this also has a typical 12-month sentence, the charge is more serious when it comes to your criminal record.

burglary tools

What Are the Tools of Burglary?

burglary tools

If you are caught with the tools of burglary, the prosecution will try to prove you had intent to commit the crime. These tools can include a pry bar to force open locks or a master key that helps you unlock doors. It is possible to be sent to prison when found in possession of these tools even if you never actually attempted the crime of burglary, because the intention is clear.

burglary penalties

What Are the Penalties for a Burglary Conviction?

burglary penalties

None of the classifications are minor charges, as they are all considered felonies. Third-degree burglary is a class 4 felony with a minimum 18-month jail term. Second-degree burglary is a class 3 felony with a minimum 30-month jail term.

First-degree burglary is a class 2 felony with a minimum sentence of four years when committed against a residential structure. When the premises is nonresidential or a fenced-in area, it is a class 3 felony with a minimum 30-month prison term. In severe cases, you could be sentenced to 10 years for first-degree burglary. In certain cases, being caught in possession of the tools of burglary is deemed to be a class 6 felony and can result in a minimum four-month jail sentence.

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