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Calhoun Legal Issues Blog

Drowsy driving, a widespread issue in ridesharing industry

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a position statement back in April 2018 that should be of interest to rideshare users in Georgia. According to academy researchers, many rideshare drivers are compelled by low fares and salary incentives to overwork themselves. Moreover, these drivers are independent contractors who are never screened for conditions like obstructive sleep apnea.

Drowsy driving contributes to an average of 328,000 car crashes every year in the U.S., according to AAA estimates. Of these, 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 in at least one fatality. In its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List, the National Transportation Safety Board placed the reduction of fatigue-related crashes among the top 10 changes that can save lives on the road.

Stress increases likelihood of surgeons making mistakes

Georgia surgical patients should hope their surgeons are feeling stress-free at operation time. According to a recent study, surgeons are much more likely to make medical mistakes during a procedure if they are feeling stressed.

For the study, which was conducted at Columbia University, a Stanford Medical Center surgeon wore a "smart shirt" beneath his scrubs for 25 surgeries, most of which were gastric bypasses. The shirt measured the electrical signals from his heart in order to detect signs of stress. At the same time, researchers documented any errors he made during surgeries and the times that they occurred. The study found that he was up to 66 percent more likely to make an error when he was showing signs of stress.

Unintential injury: a leading cause of death

Unintentional injury is a leading cause of death for Georgians between the ages of 1 and 44. In 2016, 61,749 people died in the U.S. as a result of unintentional injury. This makes it nearly twice as deadly for that age group as cancer and heart disease combined.

Most causes of unintentional injury are preventable. The majority of deaths from accidents involve car crashes or unintentional poisoning. In addition, there were 2,775 deaths in 2016 that occurred as a result of residential fires.

Car crashes now eighth leading cause of death worldwide

U.S. road safety laws are designed to protect Georgia residents and other Americans from traffic-related injuries and deaths. For example, laws on impaired driving and seat belt use have been proven to save lives. Unfortunately, not all countries have such laws, and their citizens are dying as a result.

According to a new report by the World Health Organization, 1.35 million people were killed in traffic accidents worldwide in 2016. That number, which represents an all-time high, makes car crashes the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages, displacing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Car accidents are also now the top cause of death for children and adults between the ages of 5 and 29. The overall global traffic death rate has remained steady at 18 deaths per 100,000 people for the last 15 years.

What happens if an uninsured driver crashes into you?

It is an unfortunate consequence of being out on the road and getting in an accident, some drivers just do not play by the rules. One of the more frustrating rule breaking infractions you may encounter is finding out that the other driver does not have insurance after an accident. Currently in Georgia, around 10 percent of drivers out on the road are uninsured.

If you learn after an accident that the other driver does not have insurance, you may be wondering what to do next. Here is what you should know when this happens.

Avoiding injuries when riding escalators

The National Elevator Industry, Inc. has published some tips to keep people safe on escalators in Georgia and across the U.S. These moving staircases can cause injuries to riders who slip and fall while entering or exiting the escalator or who get caught in the mechanism as it goes around. The legal theory of premises liability might allow injured parties to recover following escalator accidents.

The NEII divides its escalator tips into three sections: getting on the escalator, riding the escalator and getting off the escalator. When people are getting on escalators, they should be careful if they are wearing bifocals or similar glasses as these can cause depth perception issues. They should note the direction the staircase is moving and not try to get on going the wrong way. If a person is entering an escalator with a child, he or she should hold the child with one hand and the escalator railing with the other. It's a good idea to avoid carrying unwieldy items like strollers, electric scooters, hand carts, wheelchairs and luggage carts onto escalators.

Researchers report medical errors a leading cause of death

People in Georgia might be at a greater risk of a medical error than they realize. Increasingly, studies are showing that medical errors happen at a high rate. This first came to light in a report from the Institute of Medicine 18 years ago that estimated preventable medical errors killed more than 100,000 people per year. Further research has only reinforced this statistic and suggested that the situation might even be worse.

In 2016, an analysis estimated that preventable deaths from medical errors might top 250,000. John Hopkins did an analysis for an organization, The Leapfrog Group, and found that avoidable errors cost employers $8,000 for every inpatient admission. The November 2018 issue of the journal "Health Affairs" revisited the issue and found that more than a third of nurses rated their own organizations unfavorably when it came to patient safety. In addition to ongoing issues with medication errors, diagnostic mistakes may have serious consequences for around 4 million patients per year and affect 12 million or more per year. In another survey of seriously ill patients and families, a serious medical error was reported for 25 percent of patients.

Can I sue my neighbors if my kid gets hurt on their trampoline?

As your child grows older and makes friends around the neighborhood, they will likely be invited over to play often. You are always concerned about their safety, and you would hope any other parent who supervises them would feel the same.

Unfortunately, accidents can happen. Nowhere is this probably more common than on properties that own a trampoline. When you were younger, wasn’t the kid down the road with a trampoline the coolest one on the block? As fun as a trampoline can be, if it is not used safely it can cause an injury.

Drugged driving a rising danger

Drivers in Georgia and anywhere else who drive while impaired may increase their risk of getting into an accident. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, is pushing for more consistent rules when it comes to testing drivers for drugs. The organization says that in 2006, 30 percent of drivers who were tested for drugs after dying in a vehicle crash tested positive for drugs. That number was 46 percent in 2015.

The NTSB believes that police officers need more tools to be able to test drivers who are under the influence of drugs. Furthermore, the agency says that law enforcement should be given additional training to better spot drivers who are impaired by drugs. To help combat the growing problem of drugged driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has started airing advertisements warning of its dangers. It has also had discussions about the issue in major cities such as Baltimore and Seattle.

Truck accident fatalities on the rise

While the total number of deaths from auto accidents dropped in Georgia and across the country between 2016 and 2017, fatalities increased for crashes involving large trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people were killed in car crashes in 2017, a reduction from the 2016 death toll of 37,806. However, crashes involving large trucks or tractor-trailers, specifically those weighing more than 10,000 pounds, took the lives of 4,761 people in 2017. This was a rise of 392 deaths from the previous year.

An administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that many of these cases involved heavy trucks that weigh less than 26,000 pounds. Some of these vehicles are not regulated by the FMCSA. In addition, truck crash fatalities involving vehicles weighing 10,000 to 14,000 pounds doubled between 2016 and 2017.

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