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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

New studies from Risk Institute shed light on distracted driving

Many drivers in New Mexico, as elsewhere, use their phone or in-vehicle technology while behind the wheel. This can lead to accidents. The National Safety Council states that such accidents contribute to an average of 9 deaths and 100 injuries every day in the U.S. To combat the growing epidemic of distracted driving, the NSC has designated every April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

For April 2019, the Risk Institute at The Ohio State University has presented some research that could help in predicting and curbing deadly behaviors among drivers. In one study, the institute explored the ways that could encourage good habits, such as the giving of insurance discounts to those who practice safe driving. Researchers found that drivers are more likely to engage in distracting activities if they are more confident of their driving skills.

Weather Channel sued after fatal motor vehicle accident

New Mexico fans of the Weather Channel show "Storm Wranglers" may be aware that its hosts, Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall, died while chasing down a storm in Texas. On March 28, 2017, while the two were following a tornado, their live stream suddenly came to an end. The two had run a stop sign and smashed into a car driven by a 25-year-old employee of the National Weather Service. All three were killed.

The man's mother has filed a $125 million lawsuit against the estates of both men, the Weather Channel and others. According to the lawsuit, the men had a history of reckless driving, and officials at the Weather Channel were aware of this. A storm chaser had informed a producer at the Weather Channel via text that the two were driving recklessly and that the chaser was concerned about their safety and the safety of others.

For-profit nursing home risks

Many people living in New Mexico have loved ones living in nursing homes. Because the elderly are often quite vulnerable, a high level of trust must exist between nursing homes, their residents and the residents' families. Sadly, that trust can be breached, and it appears as though breaches of trust are more likely to occur in for-profit nursing homes.

A recent study published in Gerontology points to evidence that residents in for-profit facilities in Illinois were more likely to suffer neglect, including medication mismanagement, bedsores and severe dehydration. In addition, the study authors believe that neglect in for-profit institutions has been generally underestimated.

Congress probes nursing home abuse

Many people in New Mexico are deeply concerned about the threat of nursing home abuse or neglect, especially if their own loved ones are cared for in a facility. U.S. Congress is looking into the problem across the country after media attention has shed new light on the types of abuses that people can suffer inside nursing homes. In particular, a woman in a coma for 14 years gave birth at a nursing home, proving that she was subject to rape and sexual assault while in the facility.

The daughters of two elderly women testified before the Senate Committee on Finance on March 6. They shared the stories of the abuse and neglect their mothers suffered, calling for greater regulation and oversight of nursing home operations, including higher screening standards for staff employed at care facilities. Legislators shared in bipartisan outrage after hearing serious stories of nursing home neglect and abuse despite ongoing efforts to crack down on misconduct. One woman said that she repeatedly received assurances that her mother was receiving quality care in a nursing home. However, when her mother was sent to the emergency room, doctors discovered medical signs, including dehydration and elevated sodium levels, that indicated she had been neglected for a long period.

Policy changes lead to lower fines for nursing homes

The White House has changed the way it is fining nursing home for violations. According to NPR, these changes have caused the average fine to drop to $28,405 from the average of $41,260 during President Obama’s last year in office. Some experts worry lower fines will mean nursing homes will have less reason to end practices that endanger nursing home residents.

After lobbying by the nursing home industry, the White House has changed from fining nursing homes for each day they are in violation to issuing a single fine for about two-thirds of compliance issues. The administration also issued an 18-month moratorium on penalties for eight new health and safety guidelines for nursing homes. The changes also included getting rid of a ban that stopped facilities from forcing residents into arbitration instead of settling a dispute in court. Arbitration is notoriously unfavorable to the plaintiff.

Documenting a car crash as soon as it occurs

There are several steps that New Mexico car crash victims will want to take immediately after the incident, however shaken up they may be. Accurately documenting the collision can help the police write up their incident report and can clear the way for victims to file their insurance claims.

First, both parties will want to take care of any emergencies. A 911 call should be made if someone needs immediate medical attention. The vehicles should be moved if they are blocking traffic or creating some other hazard; otherwise the crash scene should be left as it is. Both parties will want to write down their recollection of events. They can then begin the process of physical documentation.

How to spot signs of nursing home neglect, abuse

New Mexico residents depend on nursing home staff to provide competent, professional care to their loved ones. However, it doesn't always turn out that way. Incidences of nursing home abuse and neglect are relatively common throughout the United States, and knowing the signs can help protect family members from serious harm.

According to experts, nursing home neglect is one of the most common forms of elder abuse in the country. Neglect takes place when staff members fail to take care of a resident's basic needs, including hygiene, mobility and nutritional needs. Signs of neglect may include dirty or disheveled clothing, lack of bathing, poor dental hygiene, messy hair and unclipped nails. Other signs of neglect may include unsanitary living conditions, such as unwashed bedding, a dirty bathroom or an unsanitary kitchen.

What are most frequently behind car crashes

Human error is behind many car crashes in New Mexico and across the U.S. By knowing what these mistakes are, drivers can see where they themselves might be able to improve. First of all, it is important to avoid distractions. Smartphones and infotainment systems are becoming more and more common, but even ordinary actions like talking with a passenger or eating and drinking will make a driver inattentive to the road.

Driving under the influence, either of alcohol or drugs (including prescription and over-the-counter drugs), is another factor. These substances will slow reaction times and impair drivers' judgment. Those with certain medical conditions can suffer uncontrollable episodes like seizures, stroke and heart attack. Falling asleep at the wheel can also be a medical episode since some have obstructive sleep apnea.

Common signs of nursing home abuse

The staff at New Mexico nursing homes have an obligation to provide quality care. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Those who have placed there loved ones in a nursing home or similar facility may be able to find clues that abuse is taking place. For instance, an individual may be sleepy or confused because of a bad reaction to a medication.

Some residents develop skin problems because of too much time sitting in their own waste. This can be a sign that a person has not been cared for in a timely manner or is being ignored completely. Other signs of untimely care include increased body odor, unwashed hair or overgrown finger nails. Bruises, broken bones and other injuries may be the result of being handled inappropriately during feeding times or when being given medication.

The role of staffing levels in nursing home abuse cases

Those who have to put loved ones in nursing homes in New Mexico and throughout the country may go through an emotionally draining experience. It is easy to doubt whether a parent or grandparent is getting the care that he or she needs. A study from the New York Times and Kaiser Health News reveals that those misgivings aren't just the result of an overactive imagination.

The study found that there weren't enough registered nurses on duty and that assistants didn't work consistent hours. This may result in patients being neglected, which is different than outright abuse. Those who are considering putting a loved one in a nursing home are advised to ask about staffing levels on weekends. Neglect may manifest itself in failing to properly feed or bathe a resident. It could also include ignoring a resident when he or she calls for help.

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