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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

Nursing home violations now reported this online website

People in New Mexico who are researching nursing homes for their loved ones will soon have an easier way to learn about violations related to abuse, neglect or exploitation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the process of updating Nursing Home Compare's website to include an icon next to facilities with reported violations. This website tracks performance for all U.S. nursing homes certified to collect Medicare or Medicaid benefits.

The new icons will allow people to notice right away if a facility has had reports filed against it. Previously, the reports were buried within the website and difficult for visitors to find. Clicking on the new icons will take visitors directly to reports of abuse that harmed residents within the past year. Reports about potentially harmful incidents going back two years will also appear after clicking the icon. The agency will add new information every month.

IIHS study links road death surge with higher speed limits

New Mexico is one of 41 states that has increased speed limits since the 55 mph nationwide maximum speed was abolished in 1993. Drivers in the state can now travel at 75 mph on highways without worrying about a ticket, but increased speeds mean increased dangers. After studying traffic fatalities between 1993 and 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that road deaths rise by 8.5% for every 5 mph increase in speed limits.

The nonprofit road safety group's study suggests that 36,760 people who have died on the nation's roads since the abolition of the 55 mph nationwide speed limit would still be alive today if the maximum had remained in place. IIHS researchers determined this figure after allowing for factors including seat belt use, unemployment and the number of young drivers on the roads. Experts say the speed-related death toll would be even higher if innovative safety features such as automatic emergency braking systems had not been introduced in recent years.

Nursing home abuse shared on social media

When loved ones can no longer care for themselves, New Mexico residents have to make tough decisions. Providing that care personally or through an in-home service is often not affordable or feasible. This leaves only one option for many: a facility for long-term care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a reality, and family members need to take steps to prevent it and recognize the signs.

In one case of abuse, employees of a nursing home for dementia and memory care patients were making Snapchat videos of themselves mocking their clients. The emotional abuse was characterized as "disturbing" by police and ran completely counter to the facility's mission statement. Inspections by the local health department had resulted in citations over previous years for failure to train employees per state standards. It was unclear whether these citations were available to the public prior to the investigation.

AAA poll says road rage is becoming more prevalent

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported an astounding 500% increase in fatal car crashes stemming from aggressive driving. While in 2006 there were 80 such crashes, there were 467 in 2015. Many drivers in New Mexico have probably encountered an aggressive driver, or perhaps they have fallen into a fit of road rage themselves.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety took a poll back in 2016 asking about aggressive driving habits. Nearly 80% of drivers admitted to expressing anger or aggression while operating a vehicle at least once in the previous year. Among the most common acts of aggression were tailgating (51% admitted to it), yelling at other drivers (47%), honking the horn (45%) and making obscene gestures (33%). More dangerous actions that respondents admitted to included cutting off a driver on purpose (12%), confronting a driver (4%) and ramming a car on purpose (3%).

Many nursing homes lack qualified social workers

Residents of nursing homes here in New Mexico rely on social workers to develop plans addressing their health needs, which can change quickly and often. Social workers help residents cope with severe mental and cognitive issues, such as depression and dementia, and can be important advocates for them and their families.

The federal government holds nursing homes responsible for addressing the psychosocial needs of every resident. However, national standards only require facilities with 120 beds or more to employ one full-time social worker who doesn't have to have a degree in social work.

Elder care agencies fail to investigate complaints in time

Many nursing homes in New Mexico and across the U.S. are the subject of complaints regarding the quality of elder care. Residents of these homes may be neglected, abused or financially manipulated. The condition of many homes can even be unsanitary. One auditor in Massachusetts has found that many complaints linked to nursing homes are not being investigated as promptly as they should be.

The auditor took a sample of 200 complaints that could be considered the worst. Massachusetts requires that complaints be investigated within 10 days, but this happened with only a quarter of the cases. On average, each complaint was not investigated until 40 days after it was filed. On top of that, the Department of Public Health failed to report the more serious cases to the Attorney General's office and had no way to track such cases.

Red light-running accidents reach 10-year-high

Fatalities due to red-light running in New Mexico and across the United States have spiked to a 10-year-high. The report comes from data compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In 65% of the cases, the fatality victim had not been responsible for the crash.

In 2017, 939 people were killed in the United States in red-light running motor vehicle accidents. This number is the highest its been in 10 years and is a 28 percent increase since 2012. Though many people recently surveyed by AAA believe that red-light running is indicative of reckless driving behavior, the data shows that many people continue to run red lights.

Even one passenger can distract a teen driver

Teens driving on New Mexico roads and others throughout the country may have a harder time dealing with distractions. Therefore, it may not be a good idea for young drivers to have passengers in their vehicles. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), teen drivers have a 44% greater chance of getting into an accident when they aren't riding alone. Therefore, parents shouldn't rely on their newly licensed drivers to provide rides for their siblings.

In some cases, it can be more dangerous for a teenager to drive with a sibling in the car. This is because a brother or sister may know how to get an emotional reaction from the person tasked with getting them to a destination safely. It is never a good idea for anyone to drive when excited, anxious or upset for any reason.

Subaru Crosstrek involved in the most crashes in the US

New Subaru Crosstrek owners in New Mexico have the distinction of owning 2019's safest car. However, in an odd twist, they also own the most crash-prone vehicle in America, according to a new report by insurance comparison website Insurify.

In order to find out which car models have been involved in the most crashes, Insurify researchers analyzed 1.6 million insurance quotes from the company's database. Information provided in the quotes included the make and model of a customer's vehicle and whether the vehicle had ever been in an accident. They found that around 13.64% of all vehicles in the database had been involved in a crash of some type. In comparison, they found that 25.81% of Crosstreks had been in accidents. Meanwhile, they found that 25.7% of Honda HR-Vs had a crash history, making it the second most crash-prone vehicle in the database. The rest of the top 10 included the Hyundai Elantra GT, the Infiniti Q50, the Subaru WRX, the Mazda 3, the Acura ILX, the Lexus CT, the Chevrolet Trax and the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Seven of the vehicles are from automakers in Japan, two from Korean automakers and one is from an American automaker.

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