Personal Injury Blog

Former Texas News Anchor Puts DWI in the Spotlight

August 1st, 2015
English: A traffic collision in Boston

English: A traffic collision in Boston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A popular former news anchor in San Antonio was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) – or driving while intoxicated (DWI) – this week. Some news reports made the story about the 57-year-old, but perhaps the spotlight should really be more about the dangers of drinking and driving. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) offers detailed statistics regarding crashes involving DUI, including a daily calendar showing fatal crashes caused by people who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Statewide in 2014, a year in which there were no deathless days on Texas roadways, 952 DUI drivers were involved in fatal crashes. Tragically, 1,041 people died last year in crashes in which the driver was under the influence of alcohol. This number accounts for 29% of all people killed in an automobile crash in Texas in 2014.

What many people don’t understand is that the level of impairment a person experiences is not simply dependent upon the amount of alcohol consumed. Instead, it’s the number of drinks consumed during a certain period of time that determines impairment.

On average across our nation, about every 53 minutes, around the clock, one person dies in a DWI crash. In other words, 27 people die daily from drunk driving. In addition, every minute and one-half, a person is injured in an incident involving a driver impaired by alcohol. The times of day differ in the level of danger posed by drunk drivers, however. For instance, in Texas in 2014, there were more alcohol-related crashes between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. than any other hour of the day. Saturday also averages more crashes than other days of the week.

Thanks to initiatives such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there has been a huge reduction in the number of people injured and killed by drunk drivers since the 1980s. Still more needs to be done.

–Guest Contributor

Daycare Exposes Children to Second and Third-Degree Sunburns

July 29th, 2015
Sunburn, photographed 2 days after a 5-hour su...

Sunburn, photographed 2 days after a 5-hour sun exposure. The dark-red area is sunburned. The lighter-colored skin was covered by the woman’s clothing during exposure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A daycare in Oklahoma has allegedly exposed children to second-degree sunburns. The 5-year-old and 9-year-old were hospitalized because of the severity of their injuries. The day care they attended took the children to a splash park and allowed them to play under the scorching sun with no sunscreen. As a result of this incident, the day care is under investigation by the state and health department. But, in the meantime, the daycare owner has permanently closed the facility.

A staff member with the day care said that the children who were injured had been told to wear their shirts but they refused.

When the mother picked her sons up Friday, they were crying from pain. According to the mom, day care workers were laughing at her older boy for weeping about the pain, when she was picking them up. She consulted a pharmacist and repeatedly applied aloe lotion, but the boys hurt so badly they refused to be touched by Saturday morning.

At that time, the mom brought the boys to a nearby emergency room. On Sunday, the injured children were transported to Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas. Their backs and shoulders had large boils, and the 7-year-old complained of chest pain.

Second-degree burns may require up to four weeks to heal, and they can cause scarring. Third-degree burns are more serious and require skin grafts for treatment.

The day care service has allegedly been cited in the past for non-compliance violations. Among the alleged violations were expired fire extinguishers, the lack of a staff member with current director’s credentials, and an incorrectly placed and updated food menu.

Within the minimum standards for child care centers in Texas is a note that children must be protected from excessive exposure to the sun, though some sun exposure is needed.

–Guest Contributor

Lubbock, Texas Police Officer Sues Motorist for $1 Million Plus

July 27th, 2015
Landscape of the skyline of Lubbock, Texas tak...

Landscape of the skyline of Lubbock, Texas taken from the shoulder of Interstate 27. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week a police officer in Lubbock, Texas, filed suit against a motorist who crashed into him as he was directing traffic, causing him to have one foot amputated. The lawsuit requests damages amounting to $1 million or more. The 20-year-old who has been sued is in the Lubbock County Detention Center on charges of aggravated assault; his bond is set for $200,000.

The following are among the allegations in the lawsuit:

  • The defendant was driving a 2001 Buick Century in the early morning hours of May 30 and struck the police officer, causing his right foot to be crushed and later amputated.
  • The defendant allegedly failed to operate his vehicle at a safe speed, control his vehicle, keep a proper lookout, and more.
  • The defendant was allegedly intoxicated. His breath smelled of alcohol and he was unable to recite the alphabet.
  • The defendant was allegedly negligent and demonstrated a conscious indifference to the rights, safety, and welfare of others.
  • The defendant was allegedly driving at 71 miles per hour when he struck both the officer and his vehicle.

When the devastating automobile crash occurred, the police officer was directing traffic at a flooded intersection. The officer seeks damages for lost wages, disfigurement, anguish, and pain.

Under the Texas Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act, if a motorist causes a collision through his own negligence and fails to establish financial responsibility, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) may help the injured party recover damages arising from the crash.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 3, Injures 5 near Corsicana, Texas – Part 5

July 27th, 2015
English: A sign that states "No Texting W...

English: A sign that states “No Texting While Driving” in West University Place, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following are more of the most dangerous driving distractions:

  • In a survey of motorists involved in collisions, 2% who admitted to being distracted when a fatal accident occurred said they were adjusting climate or radio controls when they crashed. It only takes 2 seconds of distraction to significantly increase the likelihood of being in an automobile collision.
  • The same percentage of drivers that collided because of adjusting controls in their automobile crashed because they were eating or drinking. One of the risks of drivers becoming experienced is that they mistakenly believe they can handle tasks such as eating and drinking while driving, but distraction is distraction, in whatever form.
  • Another 2% of distracted drivers who crashed said that they were reaching for something when they crashed, such as headphones or a GPS device.
  • Talking and looking at passengers in the car accounted for 5% of the distracted drivers surveyed who were in a fatal crash. Many drivers don’t realize that simply chatting and having a conversation can be enough distraction to cause a wreck.
  • Rubbernecking or looking at something outside the vehicle that was a distraction accounted for 7% of the drivers surveyed who crashed.
  • Texting while driving or talking on a cell phone accounts for 12% of all driving distractions that end in fatality. It has been estimated by various institutions that approximately 11 teenage fatalities occur per day in the U.S. because of cell phone use while driving.
  • According to research, 62% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were daydreaming or lost in their thoughts when the accident occurred.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this five-part series for more about drowsy driving as well as more examples of dangerous driving distractions.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 3, Injures 5 near Corsicana, Texas – Part 4

July 26th, 2015
Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...

Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand held mobile phone violating New York State law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Distracted driving is another dangerous epidemic occurring on U.S. roadways. Distracted driving is basically driving while also engaging in another activity which diverts your attention from the task of driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,154 people were killed in crashes associated with distracted driving in 2013. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDoT) is leading an effort to alert motorists to the dangers of texting and driving as well as the dangers of cell phone use and driving.

The actions that the USDoT has taken since 2009 include:

  • Banning texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers.
  • Encouraging states to adopt laws that are tough on texting and driving and other types of driving distractions.
  • Launching several campaigns designed to raise public awareness about the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving.

Distracted driving increases the potential of getting into an automobile crash, and there are three types of distractions:

  • Manual: Taking your hands off of the wheel;
  • Visual: Taking your eyes off of the road; and
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind completely off of driving.

Examples of driving distractions include:

  • Activities related to smoking, lighting up, and putting ashes in the ashtray.
  • Moving objects, including pets and insects.
  • Adjusting rear view mirrors, adjusting the seat, using a navigation system, and other devices or controls integral to the vehicle.

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for more about drowsy driving as well as more examples of dangerous driving distractions.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 3, Injures 5 near Corsicana, Texas – Part 3

July 24th, 2015
English: Polysomnography in a patient with obs...

English: Polysomnography in a patient with obstructive sleep apnea Ελληνικά: Στιγμιότυπο από πολυσωματοκαταγραφική μελέτη ύπνου σε ασθενή με σύνδρομο αποφρακτικής άπνοιας στον ύπνο όπου φαίνονται κεντρικές, μικτές και αποφρακτικές άπνοιες (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best strategy for avoiding drowsy driving is to regularly get plenty of sleep. Losing just one night of sleep results in a level of sleep deprivation that makes driving dangerous. Research shows that when people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, they are at a much higher risk of getting into a collision, as compared with the general population. Using prescription sleep medications is a common sleep strategy in the U.S., and research shows that it is also associated with an increased risk for getting into collisions when driving.

The following are tips for avoiding drowsy driving:

  • Avoid driving early in the morning and late at night. As a basic rule, limit driving during hours when you would normally be sleeping.
  • Plan your travel to ensure that you have plenty of time to get to your destination. When scheduling your drive, include breaks for getting fresh air, stretching your legs, and breaking up the monotony of driving that can be fatiguing. As necessary, extend your driving with an overnight stay, to ensure that you keep your regular sleep routine.
  • When possible, share driving responsibilities. Take turns with another driver, so that each of you can get some rest.
  • If you feel sleepy, call for help, rather than driving in a fatigued state. The same is recommended for people who have been drinking alcohol. Call a friend or a taxi service, even if the drive is short.
  • Do not make the mistake of trying to substitute sleep with caffeine. Caffeine can effectively boost alertness for a short time, but other effects caused by sleep deprivation can continue to interfere with the ability to drive safely.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 for more about drowsy driving.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 3, Injures 5 near Corsicana, Texas – Part 2

July 22nd, 2015
English: An advisory sign on Interstate 15 in ...

English: An advisory sign on Interstate 15 in Utah near Mt. Nebo. It reminds drowsy drivers to get off the freeway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most dangerous aspects of drowsy driving is that motorists don’t seem to have a realistic grasp of how dangerous it can be to drive when sleepy or fatigued. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a significant number of motorists admit to driving while struggling to keep their eyes open. One report revealed that 28% of drivers surveyed drove when fatigued within the previous month. Thirty-three percent of young drivers between the ages of 19 through 24 admitted driving drowsy within the previous 30 days. As a society, we are well-versed on the dangers of drunk driving but fail to realize that drowsy driving is often equally dangerous.

Researchers believe that a leading factor in the tolerance of drowsy driving is that motorists are not good at properly gauging their own level of fatigue. In other words, we tend to underestimate our sleepiness and overestimate our level of alertness.

Another factor that contributes to drowsy driving is the environment, particularly when driving at night. The rhythm of a moving automobile and the monotonous sights and sounds of the roadway can quickly lull drivers into being dangerously sleepy.

Experts say that there are two stages of sleep that occur for a driver who falls asleep at the wheel. First is a transitional period, which is a state that wavers between being asleep and being awake. In Stage 1, motorists feel as though they’re awake all along, but what is actually happening is that the brain waves are slowing down and at the same time the body is relaxing and preparing for deeper sleep.

Read Part 1 and more about drowsy driving in this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash Kills 3, Injures 5 near Corsicana, Texas

July 21st, 2015
1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado photographed in ...

1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado photographed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Category:Chevrolet Silverado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 50 miles southeast of Dallas, Texas, on Interstate 45, three people were killed and five were seriously injured as a result of a wrong-way crash yesterday that set off a chain-reaction. According to investigators, the northbound driver of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck crossed into the southbound lane at a high rate of speed and crashed head-on into a Nissan Pathfinder SUV occupied by a family of eight. The SUV was knocked onto its side and was then struck by two additional vehicles.  Both drivers in the head-on crash were killed as well as a 14-year-old from the SUV, who died at the hospital. The mother and five children who survived the crash were transported to a nearby hospital.

No updates have revealed further information about the possible reason that the driver of the pickup truck moved into opposite lanes of travel, but investigators will no doubt look for evidence of alcohol consumption. The most common cause of wrong-way collisions is drinking while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Another of the many possible causes is fatigued driving, which is an equally dangerous activity.

There are strict laws in Texas against DUI, and most people are aware. There are no laws which directly address drowsy driving in Texas, however. Other states have taken action, in recognition of the dangerous activity that claims lives every year. In 2013, for instance, Arkansas enacted a law which classifies “fatigued driving” as a class A misdemeanor under negligent homicide. A person may be found guilty of fatigued driving if he or she was involved in a fatal crash and was in a state of sleep after being without sleep for a full day or was without sleep for a 24-hour period when the fatal crash occurred.

Read more about drowsy driving in this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

 

Attorney for El Paso – Texas Consistently Ranks the Worst in Nursing Home Care – Part 8

July 17th, 2015
English: St Annes Nursing Home

English: St Annes Nursing Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bureau of Justice has released statistics which indicate that 67% of elder abuse victims are women. Abusers tend to view women as weaker targets, which is one reason they are more at risk for nursing home abuse. In addition, women live longer and more often single, factors which also make them more susceptible to elder abuse.

Women and Nursing Home Abuse

Disabilities – Elderly women are more prone to suffer from crippling disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis, and they often have a longer recovery time than men. Nursing home abuse is far more common for disabled elderly patients because abusers feel more secure that they will face no consequences for the abuse. Elders who are not disabled are considered more capable of reporting abusive activity.

Sexual abuse – Research has revealed that elderly women are six times more likely than elderly men to become victims of sexual abuse. The majority of incidents of elder sexual abuse occur in institutional facilities such as nursing homes.

Neglect – Studies indicate, alarmingly, that as many as 95% of all nursing homes in the U.S. are understaffed, a situation which easily leads to high rates of neglect. Because women tend to live longer and reside in nursing homes longer than men, they are more frequently the ones who suffer from nursing home neglect.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 of this eight-part series to learn about the most common types of nursing home abuse and medical malpractice in nursing home care.

–Guest Contributor

Dallas Attorney – Texas Consistently Ranks the Worst in Nursing Home Care – Part 7

July 15th, 2015
US Navy 080808-N-3271W-046 Rear Adm. James A. ...

US Navy 080808-N-3271W-046 Rear Adm. James A. Symonds, commander, Navy Region Northwest, visits with a resident of the nursing home care center at Spokane Veterans Administration Hospital (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following is from state laws regarding nursing care in Texas found in Title 40, Part 1, Chapter 19 of the Texas Administrative Code.

Quality of Life

Nursing home facilities are required by law to care for residents in an environment and a manner which promotes enhancement or maintenance of their quality of life. The children admitted to such facilities must be provided with care that meets their unique developmental and medical needs. More about quality of life follows:

  • In the areas of participation and self-determination, residents have the following rights:
    • Make choices about aspects of life that are significant to each individual resident;
    • Interact with people inside and outside of the facility; and
    • Choose schedules, activities, and health care that is consistent with the resident’s plans of care, assessments, and personal interests.
  • Residents have the right to participate in religious, community, and social activities that do not interfere with the rights of others who reside in the facility.
  • Nursing home facilities must provide care for residents in an environment and in a manner that enhances or maintains each resident’s dignity and respect with full recognition of that person’s individuality.
  • With regard to accommodation of needs, a resident has the right to:
    • Receive notice before his or her roommate or room in the facility is changed; and
    • Reside and receive services in the nursing home with reasonable accommodation of individual preferences and needs, except in cases when the safety or health of the individual or other residents would be endangered.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 of this continuing series to learn about the most common types of nursing home abuse and medical malpractice in nursing home care.

–Guest Contributor