Personal Injury Blog

A Red-Light Runner Causes a 3-Vehicle Crash in San Antonio; 4 are Injured – Part 2

September 4th, 2015
Flickr - skinnylawyer - Metro Gold Line Extension

Flickr – skinnylawyer – Metro Gold Line Extension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most common approaches used in the U.S. to address red-light running is the use of red light cameras. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of the cameras. In Houston, Texas, for instance, voters caused red light cameras to stop being used because they were extremely unpopular. One of the issues that was complained about was that people were receiving red light tickets for turning right on red, which is legal.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has information on their website answering frequently asked questions about red light cameras. The site explains:

  • The red light cameras only photograph vehicles that enter the intersection after the traffic signal has turned red. When vehicles enter an intersection on yellow, even if still in the intersection when the light turns red, a photograph is not taken.
  • Regarding the purpose of red light cameras, TxDOT says the purpose is to improve safety at intersections. According to TxDOT, the lights are not put up in order to increase revenue for the city. Instead, they say, the money paid for violations is used to pay for the costs involved with the photographic enforcement system, including installation, operation, administration, and maintenance. The cost of a red light camera system varies but can cost more than $100,000. There is a requirement that a portion of revenue over and above installation and maintenance must go to the regional trauma account and local traffic safety.

Learn more information about the hazards of running red lights in Part 1 and this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Attorney – A Red-Light Runner Causes a 3-Vehicle Crash in San Antonio; 4 are Injured

September 2nd, 2015
Português: Farol

Português: Farol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, a driver allegedly ran a red light and caused four injuries in a three-vehicle crash on the Northwest side of San Antonio, Texas. The accident happened at Huebner and Eckert Boulevard. Witnesses told investigators that a driver was traveling on Hueber in a white vehicle and ran a red light at the intersection. The vehicle collided into a Jeep and a mini bus. Firefighters had to cut out the two occupants of the Jeep. They both suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the traffic accident and were transported by ambulance to University Hospital. The mini bus driver and driver of the white vehicle were also both transported to a hospital, but there was no report regarding the extent of their injuries.

Earlier this month, the week of August 2 through 8, there was a national campaign related to the dangers of running red lights. The initiative is called National Stop on Red Week, and many organizations and communities, including the National Coalition for Safer Roads, joined efforts to bring it about.

On each day of National Stop on Red Week, there is a different safety topic. Information that was shared this year includes the following:

  • Approximately 697 people were killed in 2013 as a result of motorists running a red light.
  • There were 127,000 people who suffered injuries in 2013 as a direct result of red-light running.
  • In urban areas, the leading cause of automobile crashes is red-light running.

Learn more information about the hazards of running red lights in this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 1, Critically Injures Another in Upton County, Texas

August 31st, 2015
Head-on crash test between 2009 Smart ForTwo a...

Head-on crash test between 2009 Smart ForTwo and 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 photographed at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Research Center. IIHS crash test page Category:Smart_Fortwo_Coupé_(2nd_gen) Category:Mercedes-Benz W204 (pre-facelift) Category:Crash tests Category:Blue and silver vehicles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At about 4:30 Wednesday morning at mile marker 408 on U.S. Highway 385, a two-vehicle crash occurred that left one dead and another with critical injuries. According to DPS troopers, a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu was on U.S. Highway 385 traveling southbound when it veered into the northbound lane, striking a northbound 2013 Chevrolet 3500 head-on. The 52-year-old driver of the Chevrolet Malibu was pronounced dead at the scene. The 48-year-old driver of the Chevrolet 3500 was transported to McCamey County Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

Wrong-way driving creates the biggest hazards on our Texas roadways. A study was done by the Texas Transportation Institute, and the results prove the destructive nature of wrong-way accidents. The following are some of the findings and more:

  • Half of wrong-way collisions result in either death or an incapacitating injury, which is a very high percentage as compared to average traffic collisions.
  • Wrong-way crashes happen most frequently at night and between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. in particular.
  • Freeway exit ramps are where wrong-way drivers enter the roadway going the wrong direction most frequently, according to the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
  • The majority of wrong-way drivers are impaired. Drivers were under the influence of alcohol or drugs in more than 60% of wrong-way collisions researched.
  • More than 80% of all head-on collisions occur on undivided two-lane rural roads.
  • Construction zones are also common sites where drivers end up driving in the wrong direction.

Read this continuing series to learn more about head-on collisions, including what makes them more dangerous than other types of crashes.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Nursing Home Residents are Protected by Federal Law OBRA – Part 4

August 26th, 2015
English: Nursing Home and pond, Saunderton. Th...

English: Nursing Home and pond, Saunderton. This is the large Cherry Tree Nursing Home. Taken from the road between this and another section of the pond, in Church Farm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987 brought enormous changes. The federal Nursing Home Reform Act protects nursing home residents from abuse, which is the chief concern.

News from New York came out this summer which highlighted the awful fact that nursing home abuse is still too often a reality. Allegedly, one nurse’s aide and two nurses were caught on camera abusing some patients and refusing to provide assistance to others. The facility’s surveillance system caught the callous behavior on film.

The film shows a debilitated man, age 51, being dragged on the floor by one arm. The man is bleeding and obviously in pain. Nurses simply watch the abuse occurring and make no move to help the patient. The same male patient can be seen on another video bleeding from the arm or neck and crawling on the floor; again, the nurses do nothing.

About 25 minutes later, the same resident could be seen in a backless gown that was pulled up over his unclad waist. He was bleeding profusely. Two nurses were a few feet away and ignored the man completely. Finally, one of the nurses allegedly dragged the man by the gown that was twisted around his neck and deposited him in front of his room.

Anyone who has had to leave a loved one in the care of a nursing home hopes for the best. Unfortunately, that is often not what happens, in spite of OBRA.

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this four-part series to learn more about OBRA, including sanctions that can be imposed on nursing homes to enforce compliance with the Nursing Home Reform Act.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Nursing Home Residents are Protected by Federal Law OBRA – Part 3

August 24th, 2015
English: Banks o'Dee Nursing Home Modern Care ...

English: Banks o’Dee Nursing Home Modern Care Home for the elderly in Abbotswell Road, Aberdeen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987 brought enormous changes. The federal Nursing Home Reform Act was birthed out of public outcry and growing concern that nursing homes were not being held accountable to provide quality care. Unfortunately, research on nationwide nursing home trends following the enactment of OBRA revealed that there are serious shortcomings in the system. There have been numerous reports that a significant number of nursing homes still put residents in harm’s way because of their unacceptable practices.

The following are some of the problems cited in 63 nursing homes, problems which contribute to the continued lack of appropriate care of residents in nursing homes:

  • Compared to other nursing homes in their states, the nursing homes were generally cited for a greater number of deficiencies that caused harm to residents.
  • Civil money penalties (CMP) were generally imposed at the lower end of the allowable dollar range. For example, instead of a per-day-CMP of $3,000, the maximum, the per-day-CMP was more an average of $425 per day.
  • Sanctions which failed to encourage the correction of deficiencies were favored. For instance, instead of having 15 days to correct serious problems, nursing homes were generally given 3 months.
  • Even immediate sanctions were not monitored for one to two months after the citation for a serious deficiency.

Researchers have been frustrated with findings on OBRA’s effectiveness in improving conditions for nursing home residents, saying the policies that are in place allow nursing homes with the worst histories of compliance to escape immediate sanctions.

Read Part 1, Part 2, and this ongoing series to learn more about OBRA, including sanctions that can be imposed on nursing homes to enforce compliance with the Nursing Home Reform Act.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Nursing Home Residents are Protected by Federal Law OBRA – Part 2

August 21st, 2015
English: Bretby Nursing Home - Bretby park Win...

English: Bretby Nursing Home – Bretby park Wing of Bretby Nursing Home, behind Bretby Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987 brought enormous changes. The federal Nursing Home Reform Act was birthed out of public outcry and growing concern that nursing homes were not being held accountable to provide quality care. In fact, poor quality care was found to be the norm, prior to the enactment of the law. The Institute of Medicine (IoM) helped Congress with the issue by studying ways to better regulate the quality of care provided in the country’s Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes. The report by IoM entitled Improving the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes recommended:

  • There should be a stronger federal role in ensuring the improved quality of patient care in nursing homes.
  • Revisions in the inspection process, performance standards, and the remedies to improve nursing home services.
  • Better training of nursing home staff.
  • Improved assessment of the needs of nursing home residents.
  • A regulatory process that is both dynamic and evolutionary.

Prior to the enactment of OBRA, state inspectors approached nursing home visits in an entirely different way than they do now. For instance, previously, the inspectors spent all of their time speaking to members of the staff and reviewing facility records. A prime time survey event now is for inspectors to have conversations with residents and their families. Dining and medication administration are events that are closely observed and are, in fact, a focal point of each annual inspection.

Read Part 1 and this ongoing series to learn more about OBRA, including sanctions that can be imposed on nursing homes to enforce compliance with the Nursing Home Reform Act.

–Guest Contributor

Texas Nursing Home Residents are Protected by Federal Law OBRA

August 18th, 2015

English: Nursing home, Merton This is Manor Ho...

English: Nursing home, Merton This is Manor House Nursing Home in Merton, which has over 100 beds. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Ronald Reagan signed landmark legislation in 1987 that is referred to as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA). The legal expectations of nursing homes and the care they provide were forever changed when OBRA became the law of the land. The reason for the law was the revelation through ongoing research that the elderly were frequently being given inadequate nursing home care, including being abused and neglected. The purpose of the Nursing Home Reform Act, which is part of OBRA, was to ensure that:

Nursing home residents are provided with quality care which will result in their maintaining or achieving their highest practicable level of mental, physical, and psychosocial well-being.

A Residents’ Bill of Rights was established, which includes the right to:

  • Freedom from neglect, abuse, and mistreatment;
  • Freedom from being physically restrained;
  • Privacy;
  • Accommodation of social, psychological, physical, and medical needs;
  • Participate in family and resident groups;
  • Be treated with dignity;
  • Exercise self-determination;
  • Communicate freely;
  • Voice grievances without reprisal or discrimination; and
  • Participate in the review of one’s care plan and to be fully informed in advance concerning any chanced in treatment, care, or status within the facility.

Nursing homes are surveyed and monitored with unannounced visits and surveys at least once each 15 months. If a survey reveals that a nursing home is not in compliance, the enforcement process of the Nursing Home Reform Act is initiated. Remedies can be severe, depending on whether residents have been placed in immediate jeopardy and whether the deficiency is an isolated incident, part of a pattern, or a widespread issue throughout the nursing home facility.

Learn more about OBRA in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

Three Die in a Wrong-Way Crash in Valley View, Texas

August 17th, 2015
Photo taken by Reid Sullivan.

Photo taken by Reid Sullivan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even a motorist who is aware of the potential dangers of 18-wheelers on our Texas roadways may not be too worried about getting into a head-on collision with a big rig at 2 pm on a Saturday, when there is a cable barrier in the center median of the highway. But neither the daylight nor the cable prevented just such an accident from happening on Saturday. The driver whose commercial truck barreled across the median on Interstate 35 near mile marker 488 in Valley View, Texas, was transported to a hospital in Gainesville, where he died. The occupants of the van that was struck head-on were pronounced dead at the scene. They were 75-year-old John Blackwell and his wife, Carol, age 69, of Oklahoma City. The cause of the fatal head-on crash is under investigation.

Due to healthy commerce in Texas, 18-wheelers on our roadways are very much a fact of life. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) conducts continuing studies on ways to keep motorists safer. Truck-lane restrictions have been done as part of a recent study, and a range of favorable safety benefits were discovered. When the study was implemented along the I-10 corridor east of Houston, there was a 68% drop in crashes. Researchers were unsure, however, whether requiring truck drivers to stay out of the far left lane was the reason for increased safety or whether it was an increased presence of law enforcement that made things safer.

Learn more about 18-wheelers, truck drivers, and roadway safety in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A 47-year-old Woman Dies in a South Padre Island Parasailing Accident

August 14th, 2015
Aerial perspective of parasailing, Bali Indonesia

Aerial perspective of parasailing, Bali Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last weekend Dawn Strickland of San Antonio, Texas, age 47, died as a result of a tragic parasailing accident on South Padre Island, Texas. The United States Coast Guard is investigating the deadly accident.

A friend of the victim said that on Saturday evening last weekend, Strickland and her boyfriend were dropped off at a Tequila Sunset Dock for a parasailing adventure. About 90 minutes afterward, the Coast Guard said they were called to Laguna Madre Bay because a woman was reported to have fallen during her ride.

The boyfriend reported trying to tell the parasailing company that Strickland was in distress, and he was asking them to reel them in. He said that Strickland’s safety vest was over her head and her safety harness came loose, and it was dangling below her knees just before she fell.

Strickland was rescued by a boater, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Her body was picked up by a Coast Guard crew, and they continued to administer CPR but could not revive her.

The parasailing operators have 30 years of experience. Industry experts from Florida said that it is uncommon for people who are parasailing to slip out of their harness. Founder of the Parasail Safety Council Mark McCulloh said that if parasailing is done in the correct wind conditions and with the correct equipment, it is generally a safe activity.

No federal regulations currently exist on the parasailing industry. There are no requirements for inspection of parasailing equipment. Insurance companies provide more stringent oversight to operations than government agencies do.

According to Strickland’s boyfriend, no instructions were given on how to deal with distress in the air. No safety instructions were given whatsoever, such as hand signals or shouting.

The parasail operators are under investigation.

Since 2009, there have been nine fatal parasailing accidents in the U.S., and between 3 million and 5 million people parasail each year.

–Guest Contributor

Four Die in a Wrong-Way Crash in Hunt County, Texas – Part 3

August 14th, 2015
U.S. Highway 281 heading south towards downtow...

U.S. Highway 281 heading south towards downtown San Antonio, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

US 281 at Airport Boulevard in San Antonio was identified as having the highest number of reported wrong way driver events of any other single location in the city. The US 281 corridor, which is about 15 miles long, was chosen as the Wrong Way Driver Countermeasure Operational Test Corridor.

The test area is a section of freeway and is a 4-lane to 6-lane divided highway. There are 32 exit ramps in the project area, 17 northbound and 15 southbound. Two LED illuminated Wrong Way Signs were installed at each exit ramp. This was an important measure, considering that 72% of wrong way driver events occur at night.

On the exit ramps TxDOT installed one detection device which is connected to the TransGuide Operations Center. The device notifies operators at TransGuide as well as San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) dispatchers of the location of wrong way entry onto US 281. Signs have also been used which advise drivers that a wrong way driver has been reported and extreme caution should be used.

Eighteen-month results of the project include the following statistics:

  • According to TransGuide logs, the reduction in the average rate of wrong way driver events through March 2014 was 28.11%. The 9-1-1 logs for the SAPD showed a decrease of 27.29%.
  • The cost of the project was $377,605.
  • Annual cost savings, derived from an average of SAPD and TxDOT data is: $235,946.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series for more information about wrong-way driving.

–Guest Contributor