Rainy Weather Driving Tips

As Daylight Saving Time comes to an end, citizens around the United States are preparing for a shift from summer to winter. Aside from earlier evenings and less visibility during the commute home, the change of season also brings rainy weather and more dangerous conditions for drivers. According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, between 2002 and 2012, wet pavement and rain accounted for a combined 28% of all vehicle crashes. Especially in areas of the United States that are known for frequent rainfall from late October to March, such as the Pacific Northwest, drivers have to be especially careful during this period. For example, in Clark County, Washington during Halloween this year, 70 reports of hazards were called into the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency prompting an urban flood advisory and nearly 40 traffic accidents were reported in a matter of hours.

As the rainy season kicks into gear, here are a couple of tips to keep you and your passengers safe as you brave the elements:

Be mindful of the first hours of a rainstorm. Although it would seem that it gets more dangerous the longer it rains, in actuality, the first few hours of a storm are some of the most dangerous because accumulated oil and dirt on the road create a slick that’s not yet completely washed away. This being said, technology such as thirsty concrete, which can absorb up to 1000 gallons of water a minute, is being developed to help solve the problem.

Get Your Car Ready. According to the NHTSA, tires with less than 2/32 inches of tread should be replaced. You can easily tell how much tread your tires have by using the penny test. Aside from the tread, tire pressure, windshield wipers, brakes, and lights should all be monitored regularly, especially during rainy seasons.

Slow Down. Not only does slowing down during wet conditions give more time to react and apply the brakes, it more importantly prevents hydroplaning and skidding. Wet conditions can cause a loss of up to 1/3 of your vehicle’s traction and even as little as a ½ inch of water can be enough to cause tires to lose grip with road. Therefore, a rule of thumb is reducing your speed by 1/3 in the event of wet conditions because hydroplaning can happen at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour.

If you do start to hydroplane, release the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until the car retains traction with the road. If you need to apply the brakes, do so lightly as slamming on the brakes could only make the situation worse. Similarly with skidding, don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, continue to steer in the direction of the skid and lightly pump your brakes until regaining control or coming to a stop.

Create Space. We have all heard the rule to leave one car length per each 10 mph you are traveling or staying about 3 seconds behind a car in front of you. However in rainy weather, this number should jump up to about 5-6 second behind another vehicle. Not only do different sized vehicles slow down at different rates, but more space is more time to react. Especially if overuse of the brakes may lead to skidding or less control, the more space there is to slow down, the better.

Even when following all of these tips and feeling comfortable driving in the rain, accidents can still occur. Unsafe conditions coupled with negligent actions like distracted driving can be a potent recipe for a collision. Therefore, if you have been in an accident in a region like the Pacific Northwest, that sees increased rainfall during this time of year, contact a local Vancouver car accident lawyer who can evaluate your claim and recover damages. Whatever you do, make sure to follow the simplest safety technique of all by slowing down when the rain starts to fall.

How Much More Dangerous are Truck Accidents for Other Vehicles?

Last week, a married couple was killed in a fiery collision when their SUV collided with a semitrailer hauling a combine just east of Omaha, Nebraska near Fremont. The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 30 when the SUV crossed the center line and ran into the truck driving the other way. While the married couple was pronounced dead on the scene, the truck driver was pulled from the cab after it erupted into flames and was flown to a nearby Omaha hospital for treatment.

In instances like these where a semi-truck comes into contact with a smaller vehicle, even if it is the smaller vehicle’s fault, it begs the question of how much more dangerous a truck accident is for anyone not inside the truck. According to data on large truck accidents compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the answer is much more dangerous. In 2012, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks, an increase of 18% from the previous year. Of those people injured in 2012, an overwhelming 73% were passengers of the other vehicle as compared to 24% who were inside the truck.

While this makes sense that passengers of larger, heavier vehicles are better protected during accidents, large trucks accounted for only 4% of all registered vehicles in 2012 but disproportionately 8% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. This is not to say that truck drivers are irresponsible, when in fact the opposite is true; truck drivers involved in fatal crashes were less likely to have a previous license suspension or revocation than passenger car drivers by almost 7%. However, since trucks transported about 68.5% of all domestic freight tonnage in the United States in 2012, safety for other drivers is a huge issue simply because of their universal presence on the road.

If you have been injured in a truck accident due to negligent behavior by another, you may be entitled to recover costs. Be sure to contact a local Omaha truck accident lawyer who can walk through your case to see if you have a claim and always remember to drive safely in the presence of large trucks.

Peanut Executive Sentenced to 28 Years Over Salmonella Outbreak

Former peanut company owner Stewart Parnell, 61, was hit Monday with 28 years in jail for deliberately supplying consumers with salmonella-tainted products in a 2008 outbreak that claimed nine lives and sickened hundreds of others, according to CNN. Establishing a striking precedent, a federal judge in Georgia sentenced the former head of Peanut Corporation of America to a virtual life prison term, imposing arguably the harshest punishment ever for a food executive in a foodborne illness case.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands additionally sentenced the former executive’s brother and co-defendant, Michael Parnell, 56, to 20 years behind bars for his involvement in the crimes. Former quality control and plant manager, Mary Wilkerson, 41, received a five-year prison term for her role in the fiasco.

The case originated from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) findings that sourced a nationwide salmonella outbreak to a Blakely, Georgia peanut roasting plant operated by Parnell’s company. According to a final report from the CDC, the outbreak may have contributed to nine deaths and sickened 714 people across 46 states. The illnesses were discovered in January 2009 and spurred one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history to date.

A federal jury in Georgia convicted Parnell last September on 72 criminal counts, including fraud, conspiracy, introduction of adulterated food, and obstruction of justice. The verdict was reached after prosecutors provided evidence that Parnell and the other co-defendants knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted peanut butter from their Georgia facility, which federal investigators later found to have roaches, mold, bird droppings, evidence of rodents, and a leaky roof – a seemingly perfect breeding ground for salmonella.

Salmonella is the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States, sickening nearly 1.4 million people each year. If you or somebody you love has been the victim of a foodborne illness, contact an experienced food poisoning lawyer for a free confidential case evaluation.

GM Agrees to $900 Million Criminal Settlement Over Defective Ignition Switches

General Motors Co. will pay $900 million to settle the U.S. Justice Department case related to its mishandling of a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 124 deaths, multiple outlets have reported. The settlement with prosecutors comes after GM failed for over a decade to recall 2.6 million vehicles with the defective product, despite evidence of a deadly issue.

Problems with the ignition switch caused small cars, primarily Saturn Ions and Chevrolet Cobalts from model years 2003 through 2007, to shut off during operation, disabling the airbag, power brakes, and power steering – ultimately putting both drivers and passengers in great danger of car accidents. The government is expected to charge GM with criminal wire fraud for allegedly concealing information and making misleading statements regarding the flawed component, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors are still in the process of looking into individual employees, but the likelihood of criminal charges being pressed against them has dwindled as the investigation has advanced, people familiar with the matter stated. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the law makes it troublesome to impose greater penalties on a company or to prosecute individuals. “Technically, it isn’t illegal to sell a car that has a defect that can kill people,” he explained to CNN.

The anticipated financial penalty is less than the staggering $1.2 billion penalty Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to pay last year to settle a similar case after admitting that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about inadvertent acceleration problems in its vehicles. Faulty or defective products can cause serious personal injury and in some cases, wrongful death. If you or somebody you love has been the victim of a faulty product, contact an experienced Kansas City personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation.

How to Calculate the Value of a Life in Massachusetts

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury deaths accounted for over 130,000 fatalities in 2013. Losing a family member is a tragedy, and regardless of any compensation you receive, no amount can bring someone back from the grave. Therefore, how does the legal system realistically assign a dollar value to a person’s life?

States vary widely in their interpretation of this value, so let’s take a look at one of the first admitted to union, Massachusetts. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 229 explains that damages in wrongful death suits are calculated using a series of criteria including loss of financial support, expenses directly related to the accident, the victim’s pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.

Calculating future lost income seems straightforward, but it’s not always as easy as having proper documentation and adding numbers. For example, depending on your profession, such as working in sales which relies heavily on commission, future earnings may be difficult to pinpoint or the defense can reasonably argue that estimations are too high. Similarly, expenses related to the incident generally seem clear-cut, but can be disputed. Unlike the first two, pain and suffering damages are much less matter of fact, but can use tangible evidence such as medical records or witness testimony to bolster the claim. The last and most challenging number to find is loss of companionship because it’s impossible to place a price tag on the human experience. Thus, many states impose maximum damage caps as to help juries make these types of decisions. In the state of Massachusetts, this cap is set at $500,000.

Therefore, the value of a human life is essentially set by individual state laws. However, this does not guarantee that juries will award the maximum caps in every instance. With this in mind, it is vital to be represented by an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can fight for fair compensation to secure future funds for you down the road.  Especially in such a high stake situation with the challenge of calculating a concrete number, wrongful death cases are some of the most costly and complex to navigate. Be sure to consult with an attorney and hopefully you will be able to find some closure.

Does Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Increase with Insulin Resistance?

A new study published this week in JAMA Neurology has linked Alzheimer’s disease risk to insulin resistance. Often occurring in individuals who are obese, pre-diabetic, or have Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is a physiological condition in which the cells of the body fail to respond to normal actions of the hormone insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.

During the study, memory tests were given to 150 adults with an average age of 61 and who were at risk for Alzheimer’s disease but had no mental impairments. Researchers also measured insulin resistance and had each participant undergo a PET brain scan. The results suggested that insulin resistance could increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease by modifying how the brain used sugar as energy – participants with higher levels of insulin resistance used less blood sugar as energy in parts of the brain that were more vulnerable to the disease. As a result of this, the brain had less energy to properly function.

“If you don’t have as much fuel, you’re not going to be as adept at remembering something or doing something,” stated Auriel Willete, lead author of the study. “This is important with Alzheimer’s disease because, over the course of the disease, there is a progressive decrease in the amount of blood sugar used in certain brain regions. Those regions end up using less and less.”

As many as 5 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in the United States while more than 67% of American adults are obese. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65. By 2050, it is estimated that the number of individuals with the disease will have tripled to approximately 14 million.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease to fall victim to scams, financial abuse and mistreatment, such as physical abuse. In fact, as many as 15% of individuals who suffer from dementia have been reported as targets of financial abuse alone. Of the 5 million Americans with some form of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease, almost half experience some type of abuse, whether it be financial, verbal, or physical. Furthermore, elder abuse can take place in a nursing home or other health care environment. If you suspect a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect, contact a compassionate California nursing home abuse lawyer.


Austin Accidents Increase with Economic Stimulation

With steady economic growth, a low cost of living, and healthy housing market, it’s no secret that Austin, Texas is quickly becoming the place be. So much so, in fact, that Austin leads all other major cities in the United States in terms of population growth, with an impressive 12% increase in population between 2010 and 2013. This surge in population however has come with its share of negative consequences as the city’s infrastructure is struggling to match the pace of this expansion.

This rapid growth has most notably had an impact on the level of traffic and number of accidents that the city experiences annually. According to a study done by Allstate, drivers in Austin are 30.3% more likely to be in a traffic accident as compared to the national average and TomTom’s annual worldwide traffic index report for 2014 rated Austin as the 13th worst city for traffic in the United States. The report offers further insight with statistics such as commuters with a 30 minute commute endure, on average, 21 additional minutes of traffic delays per day and that on Thursday evenings, over 60% of the road network is congested. Forbes has also reported on the hassle of driving in Austin, calculating that the average driver wastes 41 hours in traffic annually.

Although these numbers seem like time inconveniences, the increased congestion is contributing to accidents and fatalities. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Austin alone in 2014 saw a total of almost 12,000 crashes, resulting in 58 fatalities and 452 incapacitating injuries. This was all part of the 3,534 total traffic related fatalities that took place in the state that year,  417 of which involved large trucks of some kind. Therefore, even with positives like economic expansion, negative consequences can follow, especially if infrastructure is outpaced by growth. Wherever you are driving in Austin, be prepared to face some heavy traffic, stay safe even at slow speeds, and contact a local personal injury attorney in Austin if you are ever in an accident.

Social Media Responds to Women’s Jail Deaths

Sandra Bland, 28, was arrested July 10, accused of attacking an officer after being stopped for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. Last week she was discovered dead in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, her death making national headlines after authorities claimed she hanged herself with a plastic trash bag – an act those close to her describe as “unfathomable.”

Prior to her death, video footage taken from a cell phone indicating to be of Bland’s arrest shows officers pinning her to the ground, stoking speculation that police used excessive force. An officer is seen holding a woman down on the ground with his knee and she is heard saying that she can’t “feel my arm.”

In what appears to be a growing epidemic of racial bias and police brutality, Bland is one of the latest victims. However, she was not the only black woman to die in police custody last week. The day following Bland’s death, Alabama authorities stated 18-year-old Kindra Chapman died after hanging herself in Homewood City Jail. According to AL.com, she had been arrested for first-degree robbery.

The timing of the two deaths and their striking similarities particularly resonated with social media users, who took to social media like Twitter to share their thoughts using the hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. The phrase, which appeared in social media last week, references yet another recent death involving the police.

Two days before Bland’s death, Anthony Ware, 35, died July 11 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after being pepper-sprayed by police. Social justice activists claim that Ware’s death was another example of excessive force, and the convergence of all three events spurred social media users to express what they would want loved ones to do if they also died in police custody.

If you have suffered serious bodily harm or have experienced the wrongful death of a loved one as a result of police brutality, you may want to speak with a Washington DC personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in the laws governing the use of excessive force and other types of misconduct.

6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Medication Errors

What would the world be like without medication?

Medicines can ease pain, cure infectious diseases, and prevent problems related to chronic diseases. C0nversely, medicines can trigger harmful, even deadly, reactions if not used properly. In fact, the Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 1.5 million people are harmed by errors related to prescription medications each year.

Medication errors, a type of medical malpractice, can occur at home, the doctor’s office, or the pharmacy. If you have suffered harm from a medication mistake, you may want to speak with an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney to determine whether or not you have a case. You can help protect yourself and your loved ones by doing the following:

  1. Know the name of your medication. Always be sure to ask the name of the medication rather than allowing your doctor to simply write a prescription. This will ensure you notice if the pharmacy gives you the wrong drugs.
  2. Know the purpose of your medication. It is imperative that you understand your medication because you will be more likely to use it properly, more likely to know what to expect from taking it, and better able to communicate any problems to your health care provider.
  3. Ask questions. Some good questions to ask: What side effects might I experience? When should I take this medication? How much time should pass between each dose? What activities, food, or medications should I avoid while using this medication? To help you remember, take notes or have your doctor write down instructions or other important information that you should know about your medication.
  4. Read labels and follow directions. To avoid potentially harmful situations, be sure to read the drug label every time. Before taking any medication, you should understand when to use it, how long to use it, and how much to administer.
  5. Maintain a list of all your medications. Keep the list of your drugs and dietary supplements with you at all times, such as in your wallet or purse, and keep a copy in your home. Additionally, provide a trusted friend or family member with a copy of the list or let him or her know the location of it so that in the case of an emergency, that person will be able to inform your doctor of the medications and dietary supplements you take.
  6. Keep your health care providers informed. Keeping all of your health care professionals cognizant of everything you use (over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements included) will help ensure you do not take medications that contain the same active ingredient or will interact with something else you are using.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, the aforementioned actionable tips will provide you with the information you need to take an active role in your own healthcare and avoid medication mistakes.

Holiday Safe Driving Tips

During the holidays over 98 million Americans take to the roads.  With the heavy traffic load and harsh winter weather in many parts of the country, traffic accidents typically spike over the holiday period.  Given the festive nature of New Year’s a significant portion of these accidents are alcohol related and, sadly, fatal.

The number one way to increase your safety on the road, is to refrain from drinking and driving.   If you have a few eggnogs, a couple glasses of wine, or any other holiday beverage, call for a safe ride home or

Los Angeles car accident attorneys Panish Shea & Boyle offer up 6 more holiday safe driving tips over at Patch.com.

Read them and take them to heart this holiday season and get to your celebrations safely and soundly.  Happy Holidays