Gas is cheap now and it’s the holidays. Both of those factors mean a lot of people will be traveling on the highways this weekend.
And with tonight being New Year’s Eve, many of those drivers will be impaired. it is against the law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to drive a vehicle while legally drunk. That means with a blood alcohol concentration BAC of .08 or higher.
If you’re under 21, the law is even tougher. You are prohibited from driving with any BAC in your system.
In 2013, 10,076 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver — one death every 52 minutes. That average goes up during the holidays, when 2-3 times more people die.
Extra police and patrols are also out in force to get drunk drivers off the road. Don’t put yourself and others at risk to be pulled over or even worse, cause an accident. There are ways for you to enjoy your midnight Champagne toast and get home safely and legally. Here are just a few:
- SaferRide app. This new app unveiled this month by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) allows users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.
- Uber app. With this popular app, you can find a driver to take your home, usually within a few minutes. Download the app and enter your information before you go out. Then when you are ready to go home, just call a car and with its location service, you can even see your driver as he or she approaches you.
- Check local services for free and inexpensive rides home on Sober Ride. This link contains a listing from NHTSA by state of sober and safe rides home. Put the number in your phone before you leave home.
- Have a designated driver. While this isn’t a great option for all groups of friends, there is often one person who doesn’t drink and is willing to get you and your friends safely home.
- Call a taxi. These may be difficult to come by at peak hours, but you may be able to schedule one earlier in the evening to pick you up.
Earlier this month, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Scotland, 22, filed suit against the Otis Elevator Company and the owner of the Boston Red Sox. Scotland is suing over severe injuries she sustained during an elevator accident that occurred in May 2014.
Lizzy was celebrating her graduation from Boston University and an impending job at PricewaterhouseCoopers when disaster struck in Fenway Park.
The bright young woman and her family were watching a Red Sox game in May 2014, gathered in an area near an elevator. According to the lawsuit, Lizzy had “casual contact” with the door, which swung backwards to the exposed shaft.
Lizzy plummeted two stories and landed on the top of an elevator car 25 feet below. She was unresponsive when firefighters arrived at the scene. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries and facial fractures, as well as dental damage.
Officials are still unsure why the elevator door opened.
A elevator injury video obtained by WBZ in Boston shows the door of the 4th floor elevator swinging open at just a touch. State investigators concluded that the door was in working order the day of the accident but has a long history of problems. It had been broken and repaired many times.
We wish her all the best in her continuing recovery.
We hope you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and joyous holiday season.
Earlier this week, one family in Taoyuan, Taiwan, suffered a terrible loss. A 77-year-old man called for the elevator after visiting his daughter in her apartment complex. When the elevator arrived, the man stepped in, but the elevator shuddered and ascended quickly while the doors were still open.
The force of the movement caused the man to fall. His leg became trapped between the floor of the elevator and the floor of the ceiling. The man was freed by emergency responders and the elevator operator. His leg was not severely wounded, thankfully, but he faces an even greater loss.
Hearing her father’s cries, the daughter attempted to free him from the upper floor. In her attempt, the woman fell down the shaft to her death.
Our thoughts are with the family in Taiwan.
One of the greatest Christmas traditions is the Christmas tree. The smell of a Fraser fir fills a house with Christmas spirit. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are about 210 fires caused by Christmas trees a year. That’s a low number, but it should be zero! No one should have to go through a potentially devastating house fire, especially during the holidays.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
- If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire retardant.
- When picking a real tree, fresher is better! The trunk of the tree should be sticky; the needles should not be falling off.
- When you bring a real tree home, cut off 1 to 2 inches from the bottom of the trunk before you put it in the stand. Water your tree daily!
- Place your tree in a safe location. Real or artificial, your tree should be at least three feet from any source of heat. This includes candles, radiators, heaters, a fireplace or lights.
- Use appropriate string lights on the tree. Don’t connect too many – a spark could be dangerous!
- As beautiful as a lit tree looks in the darkness, turn off the lights when it’s time for bed or if you leave the house.
In 2006 16-year-old high school student Hirosuke Ichikawa got on an elevator in a housing complex in Tokyo. He never got off.
He became wedged between the elevator and the elevator shaft when the elevator suddenly began to ascend with the doors open. The accident was fatal.
Prosecutors indicted four executives of SEC Elevator Company and Schindler Elevator K.K, both of which were in charge of maintenance during 2005 and 2006. They are seeking prison terms of 16 to 18 months for the executives, claiming that a problem with the braking system had previously occurred in November 2004 and that proper maintenance measures had not been taken.
In an article in Mainichi Weekly, Hirosuke’s mothers said, “This case is not only about the life of a 16-year-old but a safety issue for all who use elevators.”
Yes, it may be the most wonderful time of the year. But it can also be one of the most dangerous. Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were 15,000 injuries in hospital emergency rooms resulting from holiday decorating in November and December 2012. That equals to about 250 injuries a day.
According to the CPSC, the most common injuries were from falls (34%), lacerations (11%), and back strains (10%). Around 200 fires caused by Christmas trees were reported, resulting in 10 deaths.
Here are several tips from the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) to keep your home safe this holiday season.
Anyone with a small child or pet knows to keep breakable decorations off the tree or higher than a child can reach. Here are some more tips to keep your children and your pets safe.
Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
Store scissors and any sharp objects
that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations,such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
- Don’t give children toys with small parts or cords that could be a choking hazard.
- Give age-appropriate gifts to ensure they are safe.
In 2012 approximately 24.5 million Christmas trees were purchased during the holidays. To keep yours looking its best and to keep it safe, follow these tips.
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
We love the warmth and cozy feel from a fire burning during the holidays. Follow these tips to prevent house fires or injuries.
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
As for back strain, please exercise caution when lifting large items. Bend with your knees rather than your waist. And be careful in the kitchen when using sharp knives. Often cooks get distracted when a lot of people are around.
Find more by visiting the website at www.nachi.org/holidaysafety.htm. And please stay safe. Nothing saps your holiday spirit faster than an injury and a trip to the emergency room.
We regret to report that earlier this week in New York City, two men were injured in an elevator accident. The accident happened when the freight elevator in the old Western Union Building in Tribeca suddenly fell.
An FDNY spokeswoman said the men were taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for multiple trauma injuries. Luckily, neither of the men’s injuries was life-threatening.
Acceleration-deceleration injuries, often called whiplash, are a common cause of head injury. Whiplash is an apt nickname as these injuries are caused by a severe jerk, like the cracking of a whip, of the head and neck.
Rear-end collisions are the most common cause of acceleration-deceleration injuries. Car accidents are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury (which includes concussion.) Car accidents are the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
The most mild acceleration-deceleration injury causes soreness and stiffness that are cured over time with over-the-counter painkillers and hot compresses. But you need to see a doctor immediately if pain extends to your shoulders or arms, if it becomes painful to move your head and if your arms feel numb, weak or are tingling.
Severe acceleration-deceleration injuries can cause bruising and bleeding in the brain. In car accidents, our head, arms and legs keep accelerating until an outside force stops them. Our bodies may stop when they reach their limits or when they hit the dashboard.
Our brains, too, continue moving until they hit our skull. In an action called shearing, the brain hits first one side of our skull then slides back to hit the opposite side. The brain may not hit the skull, but it can still get injured by the severe jerking motion.
If you’re in a car accident where your head or body went through a blow, jolt or bump, look out for the “danger signs” of concussion. Go to the doctor immediately if you suspect you or a family member has a concussion.
Possible Signs of Concussion in Adults
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or repeated vomiting
- A headache that worsens or won’t go away
- Feelings of weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
Take an adult to the emergency room immediately:
- If you notice one of their pupils is larger than the other
- They look very drowsy and can’t be woken up
- Have a convulsion or a seizure
- Can’t recognize people or places
- Are acting unusual
- Lose consciousness, even briefly
- Become more and more confused, restless or agitated
The same signs for adults apply to children, too. Additional signs of concussion in children are:
- If they won’t stop crying and cannot be console
- Won’t nurse or eat
The legal system in the United States, while not perfect, is one of the best in the world. Even though its one of the best, it’s still complex and intimidating for people who aren’t acquainted with it.
The events that lead clients to our doors are sudden and, sometimes, very traumatic. They may be scared, navigating life uncertain of their health or the health of a loved one. After an injury, they may be worried about money as they or their family member may be unable to work.
Still, many of our clients describe themselves as initially reluctant to call us or meet with us. We meet with people who can’t believe they’re speaking with us — they say they are not litigious. Many are shocked they’re in a situation where they may need to consider pursuit of a lawsuit.
Our clients don’t take lawsuits lightly and neither do we. It’s a serious business. Initially, our clients don’t know what’s involved in a lawsuit. They don’t know what is required and are worried about the expense. The mystery of the legal system creates anxiety and fear.
My partners and I decided to keep our firm and caseloads small so we would have time to provide personal service to our clients. Every step of the way, our firm seeks to educate clients about the legal process. We’ve found that knowledge really is power. Knowledge often dispels the apprehension that comes along with a legal battle.
If you feel you have a legal claim, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Evidence has a funny way of disappearing and needs to be protected. Immediately following any type of serious injury, you need an advocate. Select an attorney and firm with good recommendations and interview the attorney carefully.
We know that lawyers can sometimes be intimidating. Find someone who makes you comfortable, that you trust to be professional and will act as your partner as well as your representative. At meetings, will your lawyer take time to explain what’s ahead? Can they (and will they) explain the different parts of the process to you, including what’s expected and what to anticipate? Ask your lawyer, who will try the case if it needs to be tried?
Each case differs, as do the needs of individual clients. Your lawyer will determine the next steps and keep you informed every step of the way until you’re satisfied. It may not be necessary or advisable to file a lawsuit immediately. In other cases, it may be crucial to act quickly.
The process of litigation requires some patience. It’s a process that takes months, starting after initial pleadings. (To learn more about litigation, you can read this page on our website.) Your attorneys should be with you every step of the way, guiding you through what can sometimes be a frustrating, difficult process.
Who represents you matters. Remember, you should never be left in the dark about your case. Please view this video, When Should You Hire a Lawyer? to learn more.
– Alwyn Fredericks
When a worker is injured on the job, most know that they’re entitled to some form of worker’s compensation from their employer. Worker’s comp (as it is commonly known) is a state-mandated insurance program. When an employee suffers a job-related injury or illness, they are entitled to compensation regardless of who was at fault. The at-fault party may include you, the employee, the employer, a customer, a co-worker or a third party.
Worker’s compensation laws vary from state to state. In general, you exchange your right to sue your employer for damages in return for guaranteed worker’s compensation benefits. The law in Georgia stipulates an “exclusive remedy” to protect employers from being sued by their employees.
If you’re injured on the job in Georgia, you cannot file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury suit against the same employer. Thus, your only remedy is what you receive through workers’ compensation.
However, in some cases, as mentioned above a negligent third party may be responsible for your injuries. Making a determination of whether a third party is responsible for you injuries often requires creative thinking from an experienced attorney. Therefore, if you or a loved one has suffered a serious workplace injury you should ask your worker’s comp attorney whether a liability attorney should take a look at the case.
The most common third-party claims include work-related vehicle accidents and injuries that occur on someone else’s property and on construction sites or a product liability claim — where your employer purchased a defective product from a manufacturer.
If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you and your family should focus on recovery and contact a lawyer as soon as possible. As we’ve said before, evidence may go missing or be harder to obtain after a delay. Hiring a good attorney ensures your case gets the attention it deserves and that all evidence is catalogued quickly and is kept safe.
Third-party claims may also involve multiple companies or individuals. The legal process can become confusing and complex. After you suffer an injury, make sure you hire an experienced lawyer at a reputable firm. You can read more and view a video on how to hire legal representative here.
– Alwyn Fredericks
Pugilism’s popularity rises and falls, but fighting as sport has been a part of American culture for more than 100 years. In the last decade, mixed martial arts (MMA) has overtaken boxing as the fighting sport of choice. The drama surrounding famous fights and fighters is compelling and draws huge crowds.
Fighting is a dangerous sport. Physically demanding and contact heavy, no fighter can expect to stay competitive in the ring for very long. In a sport where knocking your opponent out cold is the objective, fighters are guaranteed to take serious hits. A hit to the head can end a fight. It can also cause a concussion.
Fans and commentators alike lament a fighter who has become “punch drunk” or is suffering from dementia pugilistica. Dementia pugilistica is a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease, caused by repeated concussions or traumatic blows to the head.
I recently came across an article, “The Fighter Who Stayed Too Long” that profiled MMA fighter Gary Goodridge, a successful fighter who drew large crowds at home and internationally. But before he hung up his gloves for good, his friends were asking him to stop fighting. They noticed how forgetful he’d become. That his personality had changed. He got angry easier and was impulsive.
Our understanding of brain injury has grown in recent years. We treat concussions more seriously than ever before (though we could treat them still more seriously.) What we used to call punch drunk is now known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE.) CTE is the progressive degeneration of brain tissue. The symptoms include depression, aggression, memory loss, lack of impulse control, impaired judgment and progressive dementia. At this time, there is no cure.
Goodridge displays all the symptoms of CTE. It’s not altogether surprising. CTE is most common in professional, contact sport athletes and the military. Goodridge participated in 80 total kickboxing and MMA fights over a 14-year career. He suffered 14 total knockout or knockout losses while kickboxing. How many concussions and blows to the head he sustained is unknown, but the number is certainly high.
“I’m still getting used to the idea that I’m not going to be okay ever again. This is my life,” said Goodridge.
Without a post mortem exam, there’s no way to conclusively diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE.) That’s exactly what researchers at the Boston University are doing at the CTE Center. More than 300 athletes and soldiers have pledged to donate their brains and brain stems to the center after death. Hopefully, as we learn more, we’ll find a way to better treat the disease and its effects.
With or without a cure, prevention is the most important step. Contact sports and the people who participate in them must consider the risks. We can make changes to minimize the risk of concussions and brain damage. Sport and competition is valuable, but so are our minds.