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Concussions Are Serious Danger for Girls’ Soccer: 2nd Only to Football in Student Head Injury Risk

March 26th, 2015 by admin

Ask most folk around our area about concussions, and you’ll probably hear talk about the NFL Concussion Settlement or maybe parents worried about whether or not their kids should play school football. However, what many may not realize is that in the realm of school sports, the danger of serious and life-long brain damage is very high for girls’ soccer.

Danger of Concussion in All Youth Sports

It’s a growing controversy — the balancing of the positives that kids get from playing school sports against the growing awareness of the risks associated with head injuries in youth sports. There are some that argue against any sporting activities for minors in view of the research findings connecting even minor injuries to the head and neck and longstanding permanent harm to the child. For more on this argument, check out the opinion piece in USA Today by Ken Reed, “Game over for concussion debate.

Girls Soccer: Serious Danger of Brain Injury

Soccer does not get the focus that football does in much of this discussion. Nevertheless, girls’ soccer poses a very big danger for its players of permanent harm from head injuries incurred while playing the sport.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published “Sarah’s Story” documenting how one female teenager’s life was changed after she suffered a concussion on the soccer field.

From Sarah:

“For me, recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had. When I got a concussion, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think.”

Luckily, Sarah had a full recovery from her head injuries — but it took several months for her to succeed in regaining her health.

Meanwhile, research has shown that others may not be so lucky. In female students playing soccer, there is a known tendency to shake off any feelings of harm after a head injury and continue playing the game. This can lead to the female soccer player being hit a second time during the same event, particularly if they are playing through while experiencing dizziness or problems concentrating.

That second blow can mean a more serious head injury and a higher risk of permanent damage. This even as a name, it’s called “second-impact syndrome.”

Study Shows Rising Risk of Girls Soccer Concussion Injury

Research reveals that only football trumps soccer in the game that sends the most students to the emergency room for treatment. And students playing soccer have female soccer players 40% more likely to have a concussion from playing soccer than male soccer players.

Studies have shown that girls’ soccer is the number two concussion rate in the United States today.

Which means that parents, students, coaches, and others monitoring these female athletes need to know what the symptoms of concussion are – and to get these girls off the field if they exhibit any symptoms of head injury.

There’s a duty to these kids here to keep them safe.

Tires Cause Crashes: Air Pressure and Under-Inflated Tires are Dangerous

March 24th, 2015 by admin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new federal agency rule regarding Tire Pressure Warnings — which apparently took awhile to get passed and published.

An earlier version of the federal rule was challenged in a federal lawsuit and overturned.  After going back to the rulemaking table, the federal safety agency issued a new rule that will require systems that monitor the amount of air pressure in tires.

These new Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) alert the driver when the air pressure in one of their tires gets below a certain amount and is considered to be dangerously low in the amount of air in the tire.

These monitoring systems should be very helpful to many of us who drive cars, SUVs, minivans, and the like because drivers may walk around their vehicles and eyeball the tires, even give them a good kick or two, and still not be aware that the air pressure is too low and they have a dangerous situation to address.

Right now, these TPMS systems are only required to work on tires that come with the vehicle when it is sold and not on replacement tires.

Dangers of Under-Inflated Tires

Why is this important? It’s good because the public needs to know about the real risks of driving a vehicle without enough air in the tires. Simple enough to fix, and all to easy to procrastinate in checking the tires to make sure there’s enough air pressure in them.

 

Under-inflated tire results in tire worn down to cords.

 

From the NHTSA rule:

Under-inflation affects many different types of crashes. These include crashes which result from:

1. an increase in stopping distance,
2. flat tires and blowouts,
3. skidding and/or a loss of control of the vehicle in a curve, like an off-ramp maneuver coming off of a highway at high speed, or simply taking a curve at high speed,
4. skidding and/or loss of control of the vehicle in a lane change maneuver,
5. hydroplaning on a wet surface, which can affect both stopping distance and skidding and/or loss of control, or
6. overloading the vehicle.

The agency has quantified the effects of under-inflation in a crash involving skidding and loss of control, flat tires and blowouts, and the reduction in stopping distance. However, it cannot quantify the effects of under-inflation on hydroplaning and overloading the vehicles. The primary reason that the agency cant quantify these benefits is the lack of crash data indicating tire pressure and how large of a problem these conditions represent by themselves, or how often they are contributing factors to a crash. The agency has just starting collecting tire pressure in its crash data investigations.

Get Your Tires Check for Free at Discount Tire

There are some chains and service stations that will check your tire’s air pressure for free. For example, the Discount Tire chain in Indiana and Illinois offers free Air Checks — just drive in, they will check the air in your tires, no cost and you don’t have to exit your vehicle.  (Not a paid advertisement here — just that this is a great service, nice to share it.)

CDC Confirms: Crashes are the Number One Killer of Truck Drivers in the US

March 19th, 2015 by admin

We monitor the risks and dangers of driving on roads in Indiana and Illinois as well as the rest of the country, from riding in buses (see Tuesday’s post) to walking along the road as a pedestrian, to driving in cars, sedans, minivans, or SUVs.

However, of particular concern to us is the danger of these huge big rig semi tractor trailer trucks that speed alongside so much of the traffic in our part of the country.

Drive all local highways and you’ll be encountering a large amount of these heavy, dangerous commercial trucks. The risk of a big rig semi truck crash is much higher in our part of the country than in other states because we have so much more big commercial truck traffic here.

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And now, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued confirmation of the dangers of these big rigs on the roads today.

From the CDC this month:

Our nation depends on truck drivers to deliver goods and services safely and efficiently. Yet, crashes involving large trucks continue to take a toll on truck drivers, their passengers, other road users, businesses, and the community. Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the United States economy was $99 billion that same year.

About 2.6 million workers in the US drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the number of crash fatalities of truck drivers or their passengers increased between 2009 and 2012. Approximately 700 drivers of large trucks or their passengers died in crashes in 2012, and an estimated 26,000 were injured. About 65 percent of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers in 2012 were the result of a motor vehicle crash. More than a third of the drivers who died were not wearing a seat belt.

“We know that using a seat belt is the single most effective intervention to prevent injury or death in a motor vehicle crash. However, in 2012 more than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in crashes were not buckled up, a simple step which could have prevented up to 40 percent of these deaths” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “Employers and government agencies at all levels can help improve truck driver safety and increase seat belt use among truck drivers by having strong company safety programs and enforcing state and federal laws.”

This Vital Signs report includes data from the National Survey of US Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury, conducted by CDC at 32 truck stops along interstate highways across the United States in 2010. Key findings from the survey include:

An estimated 14 percent of long-haul truck drivers reported not using a seat belt on every trip.

Over one-third of long-haul truck drivers had been involved in one or more serious crashes during their driving careers.

Long-haul truck drivers who reported not wearing seat belts also tended to engage in other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding and committing moving violations. They were also more likely to work for an employer that did not have a written workplace safety program.

Long-haul truck drivers who lived in a state with a primary seat belt law – the law that allows police to stop motorists solely for being unbelted – were more likely to report often using a seat belt.

“Using a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent injury or death in the event of a crash,” said Stephanie Pratt, PhD, coordinator of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. “The smartest strategy for overall safety is to prevent truck crashes from happening in the first place.  Employers can help prevent crashes and injuries through comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.”

What can be done to reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths among truck drivers?

States can help increase seat belt use by truck drivers through high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws by state troopers and motor carrier safety inspectors.

Employers can establish and enforce company safety policies, including belt-use requirements for truck drivers and passengers as well as bans on text-messaging and use of handheld phones.

Employers can educate truck drivers about ways to avoid distracted and drowsy driving.

Engineering and design changes that provide increased comfort and range of motion and allow adjustments for diverse body types might increase use of seat belts by truck drivers.

For more information on motor vehicle safety at work, including trucker safety, please visit the NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety page. Released in conjunction with this month’s Vital Signs is the NIOSH Long-Haul Truck Drivers page. Both these topic pages offer research results, resources, and useful links for employers and workers.

College Tour Bus Crash in Southern Indiana: Is It Safer to take a Bus?

March 17th, 2015 by admin

Last week, students from Indiana Tech traveling on Interstate 65 in a commercial tour bus on their way to a college bowling tournament were involved in a scary and serious bus crash. The college kids, along with the bus driver and the school coaches, were riding south on I-65 when the bus suddenly ran off the highway at a high speed, and flipped over on the side of the roadway.

Many people were hurt, including lots of students as well as the 76-year-old bus driver. Fortunately, no one was killed or permanently injured.

Reporters on the scene asked the students what had happened, and eyewitness accounts are that the bus driver was fighting to keep control of the bus shortly before it overturned — but his efforts to set the bus aright with the steering wheel and the brakes were unsuccessful in preventing a crash. The bus flipped over and rolled side-over-side three times, crashing down the side of the raised highway.

It’s amazing that the bus load of passengers did not sustain more serious injuries. Not one person in this bus crash had life-threatening injuries there at the scene.

Tour buses offer passengers comfy seats and a sense of safety on the road that may not be warranted.

However, when a serious bus accident happens here in Indiana or Illinois, it’s always time to stop and consider how much risk we are taking upon ourselves and our kids when we decide to travel by commercial bus here in our part of the country.

After all, bus accidents can be very serious and lots of people die in commercial bus accidents. For example, just two days ago down in Brazil, a tour bus was carrying a full load of passengers when the driver lost control and the bus went off the road, falling down 1300 feet before coming to a stop. Initial reports are that the bus may have suffer brake failure. Sadly, 42 people died in this bus crash.

Traveling By Bus Is Not Safer Than Traveling by Car

Across the United States, buses are involved in accidents almost every week and over the years, there have been many different research studies focused upon figuring out why buses crash so often and what can be done to make traveling in commercial buses and motorcoaches safer for all of us. Some studies focus upon all buses; some look to city and school buses only and others study tour buses, charter buses, and other private motorcoach carriers.

In 2012, for instance, research published in the Journal of Safety Research confirmed that buses are not safer than traveling by car (though many people think this is true). From that report: “… while bus accidents comprise a relatively small share of the total accidents (0.6%) in the United States, the number of bus accidents per million passenger miles (3.04) is comparable to the number of car accidents per million driven miles (3.21).”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus crash, then there may be several reasons for the accident and more than one party responsible for liability and damages in your case. Having an experienced bus crash lawyer to investigate your claim and your individual circumstances is vital if you are seeking justice for injuries sustained after a bus accident in Indiana or Illinois.

For more on bus accidents, read our resources page or check out our past discussions of bus accidents and the dangers of bus travel.

 

Oil Trains in Indiana and Illinois: How Big is the Danger to Railroad Workers?

March 12th, 2015 by admin

A week ago today, there was a huge explosion a little bit south of Galena, Illinois, that was caused when a big BNSF train rolling 103 crude oil tank cars through the Illinois countryside blew up. Photos show the flames reaching as high of 300 feet into the air.

Twenty-one (21) cars went off the rails in this crash.  Each of these tanker cars carried 70,000 gallons of crude oil.  That is a LOT of flammable liquid.

Luckily, there were no fatalities. The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the train crash.

It was the third oil train crash in three weeks here in the United States. It is also reported that this Galena crash involved the “safer tanker cars” that were supposed to be less likely to catch on fire.

Railroad Workers Risk of Injury or Death While Working on the Job

According to the railroad company’s news statement, this particular track carries up to 50 oil trains each week through the Illinois countryside. Which means that railroad workers are dealing with lots and lots of flammable crude oil riding along the rails of Illinois and Indiana as part of their daily work.

In January, we considered the dangers of these big oil trains moving through our area. Our infrastructure (the rails, the trains themselves, the road crossings, etc.) has not been maintained and things have not been replaced. Things are old, weak, and prone to failure.

It’s no wonder that there was a derailment in Galena. What is amazing is that there aren’t more train crashes here with these huge, long, heavy oil trains moving through here — and that there haven’t been more people seriously injured or killed as a result of these oil cars catching on fire.

 

In Illinois and Indiana, it has been an honored tradition for people to work the rails.  

Railroads have been moving people and cargo through our part of the country for hundreds of years, and those who keep those trains running here are justifiably proud of the work that they do and the service they provide to their families, their communities, and to all of us here in this part of the country.

It’s a risky business, of course.  The dangers are so real and so serious that people who work on the railroads have special protections under federal law. There are statutes on the books that provide them with special care and treatment in the event of a rail worker being hurt on the job. This is different from workers’ compensation laws.

People who work on railroads are protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). This is special legal protection for rail workers injured on the job. FELA provides coverage to railroad company employees who are hurt in accidents as well as on the job injuries caused by a variety of things, including:

  • hazardous conditions on their worksite
  • hazardous materials that cause injury
  • inadequate safety precautions
  • Inadequate safety measures
  • equipment failure
  • equipment malfunction
  • inadequate supervision
  • improper supervision
  • Mistakes and human error.

The problem for railroad workers is that federal safety laws are only as good as their enforcement and our railroad system is notorious for not being monitored well by federal regulatory agencies. No wonder that we’re seeing more and more train derailments involving these dangerous crude oil tanker cars.

Hopefully, state and federal regulators are going to take action to protect railroad workers, as well as the general public, from the high risk oil trains that are moving through our communities and bringing danger to neighborhoods all around us.

However, at the present time, the danger is high for everyone and railroad workers are in danger on the job here. We can expect more and more railroad worker injury claims based upon injuries sustained due to crude oil trains in the future.

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On March 7, 2015, the railroad company that owned the Galena oil train issued the following update:

Update on Incident in Galena, Ill.

BNSF MEDIA STATEMENT as of March 7, 2015 at 11:00 am CST – Galena, IL derailment

Work to remove the derailed cars at the site of the BNSF Railway derailment, which occurred in a rural area south of Galena, Ill., is nearing completion. Due to its remote location and soft ground in the area, a temporary road is being built to allow heavy equipment to re-rail cars and remove crude oil from the scene. Additionally, the three small remaining fires will be extinguished by a foam truck once the temporary road is complete. Of the 21 cars that were derailed, six cars have been re-railed. Two more cars are expected to be re-railed later today. The remaining cars will be removed from the scene via truck.

Once the scene is cleared, BNSF currently anticipates that its mainline track can be operational on Monday, March 9, 2015. As the clean-up process proceeds, BNSF continues to find no evidence of oil in the nearby waterways due to the derailment. Air quality monitoring is also continuing.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation. BNSF Railway employees continue to assist local and federal officials.

Protection of the communities we serve, the safety of our employees and protection of the environment are our highest priorities. These priorities have guided us throughout our response to this event.

We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the first responders at this incident and the coordination and cooperation offered by local officials to keep the community safe. BNSF Railway sincerely regrets the inconvenience this event has caused to the community.

BNSF has established a claims center at the site of the incident to help and assist local residents who may have incurred damage to their property or are in need of temporary relocation.

With the scene mostly contained, BNSF does not anticipate the need to offer any additional updates.

MCS-90 Endorsements: Protecting Truck Crash Victims In Big Rig Accidents

March 10th, 2015 by admin

Odds are high that you shared the road with one of those big, heavy semis today — the big rig trucks and tractor trailers that move all over our Indiana and Illinois interstates and highways. Some of our routes are famous for the high amount of commercial truck traffic they get each day.

You know the ones — think Borman Expressway, right?

Sadly, all too often those huge monster vehicles are involved in traffic accidents in our part of the country, and when there is an accident involving a semi truck, there are usually traffic fatalities and people dying in those crashes. The weigh factor of a big rig, tractor trailer truck carrying a full cargo load as it collides with a smaller and lighter vehicle (like a family car or minivan) alone can cause horrific damage, no matter what the speed the truck driver was going at the time of impact.

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Knowing the huge danger of traffic deaths in commercial truck accidents, it is extremely important for accident victims and their families to be protected in the aftermath of these crashes. This includes making sure that these accident victims will have the security of knowing that the trucking company and owner/operator of that big rig semi truck will have the financial wherewithal to cover the huge medical expenses and long term care costs (and wrongful death damages) that all too often follow a semi truck crash.

What is a MCS-90?

Accordingly, federal law requires that every motor carrier moving along U.S. roads carry with it proof that the carrier has current insurance coverage to cover accident claims. This federal law mandates that the trucking company have as this official proof a form known as a “MCS-90 endorsement.”

In sum, the MCS-90 is evidence that in the event of an accident, the carrier can meet its financial responsibilities to victims of the crash. It is provided by the insurance company to its insured, the trucking company.

The MCS-90 is not an insurance policy. It is paperwork that evidences there is insurance coverage and financial means for the carrier to cover its responsibilities after a wreck. Under federal rules, something called a “BMC-91X liability filing” is sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and this document serves as confirmation to the federal authorities that a MCS-90 form has been provided to the carrier by an insurance company.

It is an endorsement to the trucking company’s liability insurance policy. It confirms that there will be money available to pay injury claims and death lawsuits arising from truck accidents where the trucking company is negligent and liable for damages like bodily injury, wrongful death, etc.

You can download a copy of the MCS-90 form from the FMCSA website.

Why is MCS-90 Important to Injury Victims and Their Lawyers?

For several years, the federal government has mandated that trucking companies keep minimum insurance liability coverage policies active and in place, to protect the public against possible truck accidents involving serious injuries and high damages. Liability insurance is expensive, particularly for interstate trucking operations.

Here’s how the MCS-90 law helps truck accident victims:

1. The MCS-90 works to push trucking companies to keep those policy premiums paid up, even if times are tight and the insurance premiums are cutting into their bottom line.

2. The MCS-90 makes sure that even if the particular truck involved in the crash is not listed on the trucking company’s insurance policy as a covered vehicle, the carrier’s policy will still cover the crash. (Trucking companies who fail to put one of their big rigs on their policies cannot argue a coverage defense simply because that vehicle isn’t specifically listed on their policy.)

Serious big rig semi truck accidents are often tragic. People’s lives are forever changed as they are permanently injured in these truck crashes. Families are hurt. People die. Making sure that there is the financial means to deal with these tragedies is extremely important, and having an experienced truck accident lawyer to help truck crash victims can be invaluable in making sure that justice prevails.

Doctors Paid by Big Pharma: How Much Does Your Doctor Get?

March 5th, 2015 by admin

A provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, makes it a federal requirement that the public be made aware of monetary payments made to their doctors and dentists and eye doctors (among others) by drug companies.

Big Pharma can label the payment in several ways: the big drug maker is paying the doctor or dentist for things like research as well as consulting or promos. Wow, right?

It took awhile for this information to be gathered and organized — but the results are starting to gel and be made clear.

ProPublica has been warning about this HUGE conflict of interest situation between doctors and drug companies for years.

However, there are now other online resources where anyone who wants to look can search for their health care provider and see just how much moola they’re getting from which Big Pharma drug manufacturer.

These include:

  • Pharmashine (covering 17 drug companies that make up 50% of the annual US drug sales)
  • CMS

The seriousness of this situation cannot be underestimated.  Think about how these medical professionals may be swayed, directly or indirectly; consciously or unconsciously, in the type of treatment they provide, the opinions they formulate, even the extent of the knowledge and know-how, by their relationship with these deep pocket drug manufacturers that are only too happy to pay cash money on a regular basis.

It’s definitely something to consider for anyone who has been injured and is dealing with an negligence or liability case.

  • How much is the defense expert being paid by Big Pharma?
  • How much can his or her expert opinion be trusted?

However, choosing to laugh rather than cry at what appears to be such a shocking situation (for that, read more at the ProPublica site), check out the February 2015 take on things by John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Marketing to Doctors (HBO)”:

Feds Requiring Air Bags Be Kept After Recall — Why? Defendants Like to Get Rid of Possible Evidence Against Them

March 3rd, 2015 by admin

Preservation of Evidence in an Injury Case

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association announced that the federal government is officially ordering the company that made all those defective air bags (Takata) to keep the air bags (and air bag inflators) that have been removed in all these car recalls and not to toss them. The federal order also requires the company to keep all the data and information that they have gathered during the testing of their air bag products as part of these recalls.

That’s right. There’s a federal goverment order mandating that a potential defendant in cases where people have been hurt or killed from getting rid of physical evidence that might be used later in legal proceedings. (In the past 7 years, 17 million cars containing air bags made by Takata have been recalled because their air bags are known to be dangerously defective.)

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Juries decide based upon admitted evidence: hiding or destroying potential evidence is a big temptation for defendants.

Now, why is this needed? Why does NHTSA and the Department of Transportation think that an official order is needed to make sure that this stuff is available later?

Well, the press release answers that question this way:

“This department is focused on protecting the American public from these defective air bags and at getting to the bottom of how they came to be included in millions of vehicles on U.S. roads,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “This preservation order will help us get the answers we need to accomplish those goals.”

Preservation of Evidence in Injury Cases

There’s another answer to this question, of course. Big corporations that all too often put profits over people often have control over the very evidence that can be used to prove that they have done bad things. It is only through the legal courtroom process of “discovery” that an injury victim can get access to this physical evidence in order to prove their case.

This can be tricky. After all, it’s easy to understand the temptation felt by any wrongdoer to toss the stuff that can prove them liable for bad acts — and for paying large amounts of money in damages.

Accident victims are encouraged by their lawyers to gather as much information as they can, as soon as they can. Videos of the accident site; names and addresses of people who saw what happened; medical records including the EMS documents, etc., are often invaluable in proving an injury claim for settlement or trial.

However, in many instances the needed evidence is in the possession, custody, or control of the potential defendant. Here, the victim needs an aggressive and experienced lawyer to fight for access and review of all this.

Spoliation of Evidence

The first thing that an injury lawyer may do is write a formal letter to the wrongdoer, officially notifying them that discovery will be proceeding in the case and that the defendant should not do anything that might alter, destroy, or otherwise mess with any potential evidence in the case.

This puts the wrongdoer on notice that they have a legal duty to preserve and retain everything in their possession that pertains to the accident.

Additionally, if in the course of discovery there is a belief that the wrongdoer has fallen prey to temptation and somehow messed with potential evidence, then there may be a claim for sanctions or for spoliation of evidence to be made.

The remedies available to the injury victim who is faced with a company that has destroyed or otherwise altered evidence that might have proven their wrongdoing depends upon the state or federal law applicable to their case. Different parts of the country provide different remedies for these situations.

However, the bottom line is that wrongdoers DO mess with evidence to try and protect themselves from being found guilty of doing bad things.

It’s a real problem for anyone trying to build their case for injury damages — and it’s one more reason why having an experienced and tough personal injury lawyer fighting for victims is so important.

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March is Brain Awareness Month: Do You Know Your Risk for TBI?

February 26th, 2015 by admin

When most folk discuss accidents — from on the job work falls, to car crashes, to getting hurt while playing sports, most of the talk involves what happened at the time and who was to blame for the accident. In lawyer’s language, that is the “liability” part of any injury claim or accident case. And that’s important — you cannot find justice for an injury victim without determining fault and assessing liability.

However, the bigger question for those who have been accident victims, as well as their families and their loved ones, is the aftermath of that accident. How badly was the accident victim hurt and how long till he or she recovers? What is needed in the form of care and therapy and drugs and rehab? What needs of the family need to be met (from loss of support and companionship to practical things, like how can the mortgage get paid)?  This is the “damages” part of their injury claim and accident case.

 

You and your loved ones may be at a much higher risk of Brain Injury than you realize.

Which means that when a group of organizations works to bring greater public awareness to the severe and serious needs of those who have suffered head trauma, concussion, and traumatic brain injuries after an accident, it’s a good thing. Families need to know that there is help for them both short-term and long-term, and in no type of accident injury is this more important than when the person has suffered an injury to their brain.

March 2015 is Brain Awareness Month

Every year, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) captains a national public awareness campaign for those who have suffered brain injuries, and the BIAA has made the month of March as “Brain Injury Awareness Month.

This year’s theme for March 2015 as Brain Injury Awareness Month is “Not Alone”.

In its Not Alone Campaign, the BIAA is working not only to make the public more aware of brain injuries — how they happen, what can be done for folk who suffer brain injuries — but also to help victims and their families by working to lessen the stigma that many brain injury victims suffer after their accident.

A stigma that is so serious, that combined with the burden of recovery and comprised life style, leads far too many TBI victims to consider suicide as an option.  See, “Do College Athletes Have Higher Risk of Suicide Because of Sports Concussions? Yes..”

One of the organizations working with BIAA in bringing greater awareness of the impact of brain injury upon Americans is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

Every year, around 2,400,000 people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in this country, and this is especially tragic in the life-altering impact these brain injuries have upon children and young adults.

The NCTSN has compiled a long list of online resources for those want to learn about brain injuries as well as how to help TBI victims and their families.

Our law firm has represented many people who have tragically suffered severe and life-changing head injuries in all kinds of accidents. These traumatic brain injuries need long term help and those responsible for these accidents should take responsibility for things like future physical therapy needs, future psychological needs, and future care needs for both the victim and their families.

It’s important for people to know about the very real dangers of injuries to the brain which can happen in all sorts of ways, from sporting accidents like those that have happened to football players in school sports as well as car crashes where victims are suddenly injured in their head, neck, and spine.

Do you know the symptoms of brain injury?  Read “Concussion Warning Symptoms — Watch Out for These Signs of Brain Injury” for how sneaky these serious injuries can be.

Let’s all support March 2015 as Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Safety Groups Push Feds to Require Big Rigs to Have Auto-Brake Safety Devices

February 24th, 2015 by admin

Anyone who drives the Borman Expressway here in Indiana knows all too well how terrifying it can be to look in your rear-view mirror and see a hugh big rig semi truck barrelling down the road right behind you.

What if the truck driver doesn’t slow down? What if you have to brake suddenly?

Borman Expressway, and other interstates in our neck of the woods, are notorious for having road traffic where big tractor trailer trucks, heavy semis, and 18-wheeler big rigs share the lanes with family sedans and SUVs, pickups, minivans, and motorcycles.

 

If there is a semi-truck crash, all too often people are seriously hurt or killed in the accident. Big rig semi truck accidents are usually fatal for at least one of the people involved in the crash.

So, when not one but FOUR national safety advocacy groups joined together this month to urge the federal government to create a new legal requirement for these big commercial trucks (e.g., those weighing 10,000+ lbs.), it sure looks like lots of safety experts may have a good idea for keeping us all a bit safer on the roads with these monster machines.

Together, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Road Safe America, and the Truck Safety Coalition have formally requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandate that any truck driving American roads with a minimum weight of 10,000 pounds have a new electronic safety alert gizmo installed on the truck.

Read Their February 2015 Petition for Rulemaking Here.

What would this safety gizmo do?

Well, for one thing these four expert organizations suggest that thousands of big rig semi truck crashes could be prevented each year if these devices are installed on the heavy commercial trucks. Lots of lives will be saved if these devices are put on commercial trucks according to their studies.

How? The safety device would do this by first warning the truck driver that there is stopped or stalled traffic ahead of him in the truck’s path and if the truck driver didn’t respond to that warning fast enough, the gizmo would AUTOMATICALLY BRAKE that truck so that a collision could be avoided. Cost is minimal: it’s estimated that installing these safety devices would cost less than $300/truck.

Sound familiar? It should.  Similar safety devices are already in place and being sold as components to several luxury sedans for sale now here in the United States.

The F-CAM System

Officially, the new gizmo is called a “forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking system” or “F-CAM system” and it works by using a combination of radar and sensors.

The F-CAM system, when alerted about danger in front of the truck, first alerts the truck driver that the truck is getting too close to another vehicle traveling in the lane in front of the truck. Maybe that vehicle is moving, but it’s moving slowly. Maybe it’s come to a full stop.

The truck driver gets a chance to apply the brakes. (Or maybe change lanes.)

If the F-CAM system alerts that a crash is imminent because the driver has not solved the problem, then the “Collision Mitigation Braking system” or CMB system automatically takes control of the truck’s brakes to slow the big rig semi truck down. Hopefully, this prevents an accident. However, if a crash does happen, then the system will have (hopefully) lessened its severity by slowing down the heavy machine before impact.

Construction Zones are High Risk for Rear-End Truck Collisions

The goal here really is to fight against rear-end collisions where a big rig semi truck slams into another vehicle, a type of accident where people are likely to be seriously injured or killed in the impact. These rear-end collisions are most likely to happen in construction areas, where construction forces traffic to bottleneck into a single lane or where construction workers are flagging traffic to slow or stop suddenly to accommodate construction work.

According to these safety advocates, in a five year period (2003-2008), 300 people died each year from rear-end wrecks involving big commercial trucks and there were 32,000 rear-end crashes involving these heavy commercial vehicles hitting smaller cars and trucks on a yearly average.

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition commented:

“In work zone areas and when traffic is significantly slowed or at a complete stop, cars are particularly vulnerable to being rear ended by large trucks. Trucks are overrepresented in fatal highway crashes, and they are even more so in fatal work zone crashes. This is why it is imperative that F-CAM technology is required safety equipment in large trucks.”

What Will Happen? The NTHSA Must Act

Right now, this is a campaign instituted by safety groups to get these automatic brake systems for big rig semi trucks to be a federal law requirement. The process of petitioning the federal agency to create a new federal rule for commercial trucks has begun.

Whether or not the federal government will move forward with action based upon the petition is an open question. If the NHTSA agrees to do so, then we still have a long time before the rules-making process is completed and any trucking company has to worry about actually installing these gizmos on their fleet of big rig semi trucks.

So, for now, it’s just as dangerous to be driving in front of a heavy commercial truck on Borman Expressway as it ever was. Be careful out there.