Distracted Driving: An Epidemic Threat on U.S. Roads and Highways

In 2015, 38,300 people were killed on U.S. in car crashes, while 4.4 million were seriously injured, making this year the deadliest driving year for Americans since 2008. Though the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) blame the dramatic increase of fatal car crashes to the price of gas going down (as this resulted to many more cars on the road), still, the major cause of these accidents is driver error or bad road behavior.

The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify impaired driving (impairment may be due to alcohol and use of illegal or prescription drugs), driving beyond the set speed limit or driving fast despite poor road conditions, aggressive driving, reckless driving, and distracted driving with cell phone use as the number one cause of distraction.

Distracted driving, specifically, is any form of activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This bad road behavior takes many forms, including, but definitely not limited to, eating and/or drinking, cell phone use and texting while driving, smoking, and adjusting the radio. Since the introduction of cell phones and now, the expansion of smartphone functions and wider use of social media platforms, driving distractions due to cell phone use have not only increased but have also become more dangerous. Rather than just texting, making a call or answering one, many drivers, teenagers, mostly also send emails, snap selfies, conduct video chats, shoot videos, and use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat; some even watch YouTube videos while driving, thinking that they can drive and do anything else in total safety (Snapchat, an apps that has a speed filter, allows a driver to take a selfie and send it to anyone hi/she likes all while driving at fast speed. The recipient of the photo has only about 10 seconds to view the shot before it completely disappears).

Distracted driving is an epidemic threat on U.S. roads and highways, and cell phone use is its number one form. In 2013 alone, of the 5.69 million auto crashes in the U.S., 1.2 million were due to talking on the phone, while another 341,000 were due to texting while behind the wheel.

Brownsville personal injury attorneys of The Benton Law Firm know well enough how an accident can leave an innocent victim in trauma, and in degraded financial, emotional, and physical states. Personal injuries resulting from the misconduct of someone else, whether the harm was intentionally inflicted or not, will always have a considerable impact on victims’ lives, making them face a variety of setbacks, including painful recovery periods, expensive treatments, lost time at work, and emotional distress. Thus, financial compensation, though it cannot undo the injury or its lasting effects, can take a considerable burden off the victim and ensure that the party responsible for the injury is held legally and financially responsible.

Slip and Fall Accidents Indoors

Slipping, falling, and tripping are underrated accidents. They should not be taken lightly because they may cause serious injuries, particularly in the head and back. At worst, they may even cause death.

According to an informative article on the website of the Bruner Law Firm, slip and fall accidents are under premises liability. So if you have been injured because of the negligence of a property owner, you may have a premises liability case waiting to be taken to court.

But what causes slip and fall accidents? In the outdoors, they may involve weather conditions, poor maintenance of roads, and unnecessary obstructions. In the case of indoors, it is much more complicated. Below is a list of indoor elements you should look out for because they make you vulnerable to slips, falls, and trips.

Escalators and elevators
Mechanisms that move from one floor to another such as escalators and elevators are very susceptible to slip and fall accidents. This is because of the fact that they move, have tiny parts and gaps between the parts. This combination puts passengers’ body parts such as fingers and clothing such as dresses at risk of getting caught or trapped, potentially triggering a slip and fall accident, or worse, an amputation. Defects and malfunctions, like escalators and elevators suddenly jerking, can also catch passengers off-guard.

Generally, slip and fall accidents concerning floors involve slippery objects like debris, water, and wax. If the floor has trash or debris that should have been cleaned, is wet without any warning signs and barriers, or is recently treated with slippery wax, it may be involved in a slip and fall accident. Failing to use a no-skid treatment on the floor is also known to make the floor more slippery and inviting for an accident to occur.

Stairs are very simple. They help you go to the next level above or below by using steps. But even the simplest indoor elements can be factors in slip and fall accidents. In the case of stairs, it is known that the presence of trash or other potentially slippery obstructions in the steps can cause such accidents. Defects such as missing or broken handrails and worn steps are also to blame.

Injuries elderly may sustain from negligent nursing home staffs

Many families decide to bring their elderly loved one in nursing homes to ensure their safety, comfort, and health. However, elderly are at risk of suffering serious or even fatal injuries if they are entrusted to the hands of negligent nursing home staffs.

To ensure elderly safety, nursing home staffs are required by the NC Division of Health Service Regulation to undergo at least two training courses every year. But there are times that nursing home residents are deliberately neglected by staffs. Elderly are often physically weak, they are at risk of suffering bodily injuries like broken hip bones from slip and fall. Elderly are also at risk of injuries when staffs fail to keep away clutter around the facility. In some situations, elderly who are suffering from a serious illness may have their condition worsen if nurses are negligent in giving them their medicines.

The Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group lawyers say on their website that financial exploitation, neglect, physical and emotional abuse are some of the forms of elderly abuses. There are many instances that elderly who have been abused by a nursing home staff were afraid of complaining as they might think that the negligent or abusive staff harms them again. Families might realize that their elderly loved one is being abused or neglected if they become unhygienic or they become unreasonably weak due to poor health condition. Families are left devastated when their elderly relative is neglected or abused. Such negligence and abuse also translate to great financial loss if the maltreated elderly is required to undergo medical treatment to recover.

Families who believed that their elderly loved ones have been abused or neglected while inside elderly care facilities should know that they may hold negligent parties liable for the sufferings endured by an elderly. As such facilities are regulated by state and federal laws, negligent parties may be penalized and elderly may possibly get compensations they need to recover.

Types of Birth Defects

The arrival of a young child is definitely an occasion worth celebrating. However, the happy entry of a young child into the planet can be marred by information of a defect sustained due to a mistake before, during or right after birth. From a modest bruise or a scuff, which needs a simple cure, to a critical problem that can cause life-long anguish and handicap which, subsequently, demand continuous costly treatments, as well as passing – the ramifications of arrival harm is as varied as its several different varieties.

According to the website of the Driscoll Law Firm, a handful of the birth injuries that are very regularly reported include:

  • Erb’s Palsy – is a type of paralysis of the arm because of trauma of the arm nerves
  • Shoulder Dystocia – a life-threatening ailment wherein after delivery the shoulders of the baby of the head, don’t pass the mother’s pelvis
  • Cerebral Palsy – a disorder characterized by diminished control of the muscles due to injury to the mind before or during arrival
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN) – a disorder of the cardiovascular system, which will be a likely result of lack of air in the brain of an infant
  • Birth Brain injuries – is damage to the brain which can affect his/her intellectual skills and bodily of a baby
  • Cranial and spinal-cord damage – a kind of trauma that will cause a newborn to endure long-term disability or death
  • Asphyxia – an ailment defined by not enough air in an infant’s brain, resulting to the body’s organs to severe harm;
  • Umbilical Cord Strangulation – an ailment that could result to departure or brain injury
  • Folic acidity Disorder – an ailment because of the lack of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. This illness can result in:
  • Spina Bifida – a congenital defect is a condition that frequently ends in paralysis of the legs or psychological handicap
  • Cephalohematoma – is bleeding involving the membrane underneath the cranium along with the skin. This condition is usually due to prolonged labor, use of forceps or utilization of a vacuum extractor
  • Anencephalia – which can be a deadly illness, is characterized by underdeveloped brain
  • Cleft lips and Palate – an opening, typically in the top lip
  • Heart Defects

Some of the reasons for the debilitating ailments endured by infants throughout arrival include:

  • Erroneous selection of shipping method (such as using a vacuum extractor instead of performing a C-section shipping)
  • Failure to immediately treat internal bleeding, lack of oxygen or infection
  • Incorrect kind or dosage of medication to baby or the mom

These errors or failures generally occur when an unexpected complication during delivery happens, such as a surprising change in a baby’s posture. A birth harm occurs when the doctor looking after the patient during labor or when the physician in charge makes an error. Several birth injuries require expensive treatment besides causing discomfort and the baby/kid and his/her family great pain.

Levels of Spinal Injury

Spinal cord injuries have devastating potential. Vertebrae are grouped into sections, and the level of injury depends on which section has been affected. The three sections are characterized by cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae.

There are eight cervical vertebrae. These are the highest on the spinal cord, and are denoted as C1-C8. The highest degree of injury severity is when C1-C4 nerves are damaged. Such an injury is quadriplegia, meaning that that the arms, hands, trunk, and legs are all paralyzed. Below C1-C4 are C5-C8. When these nerves are damaged, control of the arms and hands is inhibited.

The next section of vertebrae is includes the thoracic vertebrae. There are 12 vertebrae in section, known as T1-T12. People with thoracic nerve injury may still control upper parts of the body, however the trunk and legs are often affected. Paraplegia can be caused by these injuries, however patients can learn to drive a modified car or possibly walk with braces.

Individuals whose lumbar nerves have been damaged can experience partial loss of control in the hips and legs, and partial or full loss of control of the bladder and bowel. However, there is special equipment that those affected can use to remain independent.

The last sections of the vertebral column are the sacrum and coccyx. The coccyx is commonly known as the tail bone, and each section is fused. Injury to the sacrum has the same implications as an injury to lumbar nerves, however patients higher chance of being able to walk.

Spinal damages result from a variety of incidents, including car accidents, falls, gunshots, sports games, or medical diseases. There is special equipment for the majority of those affected by paralysis that aims to increase ability and independence.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma can develop. After being exposed to asbestos, symptoms such as persistent coughing, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing can signal mesothelioma. If you have experienced these symptoms and suspect you have been around asbestos, a few steps are essential when diagnosing mesothelioma.

A doctor will often want your medical history to determine risk factors as well as possible asbestos exposure. This often includes providing your doctor with a complete work history. A physical exam is also often performed to test for fluid buildup in the chest, abdomen, heart, or other areas commonly caused by mesothelioma.

If after these procedures mesothelioma is detected, imaging tests will often be performed. These imaging tests can be used to determine if there are cancerous cells present and areas of the body being affected by cancer. Chest x-rays will be taken if a patient is experiencing symptoms such as coughing and chest pain. The chest x-ray can show fluid build up or abnormal thickening of the pleura, which are both caused by mesothelioma. CT scans can also be used to determine this but go further in detecting all areas of the body for cancerous cells. This can also help determine the stage at which the cancer has progressed. If a doctor suspects you have fluid around your heart caused by mesothelioma, an echocardiogram can be performed to look at the heart. PET and MRI scans can also be used at a precise way to determine the location of cancerous cells. If anything suspicious is seen during these imaging tests, patients are often referred to a doctor specializing in the treatment of cancer who can test blood and fluid to see if it mesothelioma. Due to the symptoms being associated with other diseases, mesothelioma can often be misdiagnosed as a less serious disease or another form of cancer. This is why it is important to take all necessary steps recommended by your doctor if he suspects you may have gotten mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Click here to learn more about asbestos exposure and options if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

A New Treatment for PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is still a topic psychologists are trying to fully understand. Many methods have arose in hopes of remedying PTSD, but no full-proof idea excepted by the entire psychology community has come about yet.

According to the New York Times, a method created by Albert Pesso – a dancer who worked with Martha Graham – is a go to exercise for psychiatrist, Bessel van der Kolk.

The method, which van der Kolk named “structure” entails the patient gaining acceptance or closure from people role playing those involved in the traumatizing situation. He believes that the key to curing trauma is through the body instead of the mind. This ideology stems from the fact that trauma is created by the outside world, as opposed to internally.

Van der Kolk lost a lot of credibility as a medical professional when he publicly defended repressed-memory therapy. This type of therapy is based off of the idea that victims repress traumatic experiences and have no recollection of them happening. The therapy’s purpose is to uncover these “lost” memories. A once fairly respected theory soon became a joke o the psychology community when people started claiming that through repressed-memory therapy they “remembered” getting abducted by aliens and other radical situations. Van der Kolk’s support for the theory caused him to lose his affiliation with Harvard Medical School.

However, the structure method he practices gave him a new place to feel at home amongst body-oriented therapists. He currently runs his own non-profit trauma clinic.

In a medical field where not only a diagnosis but also the disease itself can be easily disputed, it is very common for professionals to misdiagnose or incorrectly prescribe. The website of Jeff Sampson says that when the standard of care is not respected a followed, it can lead to severe consequences.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that support cells attached to the brain. It is responsible for communicating messages back and forth from the brain to the body. When the spinal cord is injured, it can result in long-term or permanent injuries. Partial or complete paralysis is a common consequence of many spinal cord injuries. There are also more likely to be permanent changes in muscle strength, sensation, and body functions beneath the site of the injury.

Spinal cord injuries occur when a blow is sustained in that area. Car accidents, gun shot and knife wounds are all possible events that might cause a traumatic spinal cord injury. A non-traumatic spinal cord injury can be a result of cancer, arthritis, an infection, or disk degeneration of the spine. After the initial incident affecting the spinal cord, further damage is possible and likely due to bleeding, swelling, and fluid accumulation around the spinal cord.

According to the website of Pohl & Berk, LLP, about 4,500 people suffer partial paralysis, or paraplegia, every year. Paraplegia is usually when an individual loses motor functions in the lower half of the body. The condition results from a spinal cord injury to the lumbar region of the spine, affecting the legs, bowels and bladder control, and sexual function.

Total paralysis, or quadriplegia, occurs when the damage to the spinal cord is in the torso area. This type of injury can affect the functions and movement of almost the entire body. An individual suffering from quadriplegia generally loses control of all body parts below the neck. It can even be difficult to breath in severe cases.

The impact of a spinal cord injury is serious and the consequences are severe for the injured individual. The stress associated with a long-term or permanent injury of this nature can worsen with the financial, emotional, and psychological pain associated with motion impairment or immobility. If you believe that you are a recipient of a spinal cord injury due to a workplace injury or negligent third-party, call an attorney in your area to help find you the compensation you deserve.

The Tooth of the Matter is Oral Health Matters

Dental care is not a top priority for most people; that is, until something starts to hurt. When that happens, you can’t get to a dentist fast enough because when something in the mouth hurts, your whole life is a misery. But the fact is, the best type of oral health is one that is preventive. It is one of the more important aspects of overall health because it is the first indicator of the general condition of the body. In addition, poor oral health can lead to many complications ranging from tooth decay to stroke.

Oral health is much more than the condition of the teeth in terms of esthetics; it also includes the gums, tongue, and jaw. Studies indicate that there is a correlation between gum disease and pre-term babies with low birth weight, heart disease and stroke. While many will argue that the primary function of the dentist is to ensure that the teeth are healthy, problems with other parts of the oral cavity can have a significant impact on overall health, and dentists are specialists trained specifically to oversee oral health.

Most (90%) of systemic diseases (those that affect more than a particular part of the body) such as diabetes and chronic liver disease can also be detected in the mouth, so a well-trained and attentive professional may detect the first signs of a serious health problem. According to the website of Leander dentist Dr. Sid K. Steadman D.D.S., this is why it is important that people visit their dentists regularly and not only when there is an obvious problem.

Prevention and early detection are key aspects of maintaining oral health, and while the teeth are the main focus of attention of most people, dentists know when incipient trouble is brewing even when the teeth are healthy. Make your oral care a priority in your life and you will avoid a lot of health complications now and later in life.

Reducing Your Risk of Rolling Over

In the United States today, single-vehicle rollover accidents account to the biggest percentage of fatalities as compared to other types of vehicles. Sports utility vehicles, or SUVs, are more prone to rollover accidents than other vehicles because of the way they are built – they have a higher center of gravity and track width. Because they were not built to initially be passenger vehicles, they had automotive defects that lead to a great number of accidents and fatalities.

Because of the high probability of SUVs to get into rollover accidents whenever they make fast turns or change directions, engineers and manufacturers of these types of vehicles have been trying to change fundamental design flaws, such as lowering the center of gravity or widen the track width in order to make the vehicle more stable. However, many of these changes can be expensive, thus some manufacturers have chosen to go with less effective modifications.

For drivers, there are ways they can take to lower their chances of a rollover accident when driving an SUV. One thing they can do is to be careful when driving on rural roads, since these roads are not leveled and rough roads can easily “trip” SUVs and send them tipping to the side or over. When you are in a situation where you may go off the road, consider reducing your speed and avoid panicking while steering. Make sure your tires are properly maintained; ensure that loads are properly distributed. Lastly, avoid driving when you are not fit to drive – reckless or negligent actions or behaviors such as DUI or speeding can increase your chances of getting into an SUV rollover accident and diminish your chances of filing for an injury or insurance claim. Too many driving mistakes, and insurance companies might refuse to take you on as a customer. When this happens, people are forced to take what is called an SR-22 policy. More information about SR-22 policies can be found on this website.