Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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While car accident wrongful death numbers in the rest of the developed world have been falling significantly, they have actually been on the rise in the United States.  Part of the reason for this, experts say, is the presence of massive or large automobiles on our roads.

Tall SUVs are extremely popular, and have been so for decades.  The  race to make these cars bigger and better has, unfortunately, resulted in serious safety consequences for motorists and pedestrians. Some of these tall trucks, especially those with blunt trunks, aim directly at the torso or neck of the average American woman. The height of these vehicles makes it almost impossible for motorists to see shorter pedestrians, like young children behind the car.  Even more devastating is the kind of impact that an auto accident with one of these monster-sized cars can result in.  An auto accident with a smaller car may leave passengers suffering injuries in the leg, while an accident with a tall pick up truck or SUV can leave a passenger with personal injuries to the upper torso or the head and neck, and these personal injuries can be infinitely more serious. They are often also fatal.

Not only are these cars bigger and stronger, but they also come with large blind zones in front of the vehicle. That means they are at risk of causing severe and catastrophic personal injuries to vulnerable users of the road like pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicycles involved in an auto accident with these tall pickup trucks and SUVs.  Of special worry is the large blind zone in front of these large vehicles.  In one study, experts wanted to study how difficult it is for the driver in one of these cars to identify child pedestrians in front of the car. The experts made children sit in a row in front of the car. They found that a woman driver sitting in the driver’s seat was only able to see the 10th child in the row.  Even an alert driver may not be able to identify child pedestrians in front of the car.  The kind of car accidents that these large cars cause are devastating and often result in deaths.

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The use of automated enforcement like red light camera systems can be a sensitive and touchy subject for most Atlanteans,  but as federal administration officials focus harder on preventing auto accident wrongful deaths and serious personal injuries, the presence of such systems on American roads is only likely to increase.

A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and State Farm focused on the various types of automated enforcement  systems that are currently in place on American roads, effectiveness  of these systems and the sensitivities  involved in the implementation of these systems.  The  most common automated enforcement technologies  currently on our roads include red light camera systems, speed camera systems and school bus stop arm camera systems.  Some jurisdictions have also begun preliminary  experimentation with  cameras to identify when people  are driving without seatbelts and when motorists are using cell phones while driving.

The need for automotive enforcement, especially speed camera systems, has become even more dire over the past few years as speeding  rates across the country have skyrocketed.  The  number of people being killed in car accidents directly related to speeding has also   increased.  Law  enforcement departments across the country have been struggling with reduced  staffing, and that has meant departments looking more and more towards the use of automation to help with enforcement.

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First responders attended to multiple victims of car accidents across Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Across  Georgia and  the country, law enforcement  authorities were reporting record volumes of   traffic.   More  than 55 million Americans are reported to have travelled  over the holiday weekend.  Unfortunately,  as is often the case, large volumes of traffic make for greater numbers of  auto accidents.   In  Georgia, the scene was no better as more than 23 accident fatalities were confirmed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This year, the holiday weekend stretched from 6:00 pm on Wednesday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Apart from  the 23 wrongful deaths, numerous other persons are reported to have suffered personal injuries in these car accidents. At least one busy interstate had to be shut down for 7 hours after a car accident involving an  18 -wheeler and an  SUV.  At least five out of the 23 fatalities occurred in a single car accident.

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There is good news for teen motorists – a category of drivers that is traditionally one of the most at risk groups for car accidents.  The  Governors Highway Safety Association in a recent report announced that there has been a significant drop in the number of  fatal car accidents involving young motorists.

The  Governors Highway Safety Association recently released the findings of a new report titled Young Drivers and Traffic Fatalities:  20 Years of Progress on the Road to Zero.  The   report finds that there was a 38% drop in the number of fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers since 2002.  During the same period of time, there was actually an increase of 8% in the number of fatal car accidents involving older drivers above the age of 21.   There  was also a significant 45% drop in the number of teen car accident wrongful deaths during the same period of time, compared to a spike of 11% in car accident deaths for older drivers above the age of 21.  Traditionally, teenage drivers have had a car accident wrongful death rate that is four times higher than for drivers above the age of 21.

A  number of factors could possibly have impacted this significant drop in fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers.  The  Governors Highway Safety Association makes note of the fact that  teenage drivers are driving at lower volumes than they used to in 2002.   The  organization also believes that this has contributed to just a very small percentage of the staggering drop in fatal teen car accidents.  The  Governors Highway Safety Association believes that much of the drop has to do with the fact that  so many states like Georgia now have solid Graduated Drivers’ Licensing programs in place.  These  programs place significant restrictions on a teenager’s ability to drive independently including restrictions on the ability to drive at night and drive with teenage passengers in the car. However, most of these Graduated Drivers’ Licensing programs apply to drivers below the age of 18, and the report recommends that states extend these programs to drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 in order to reduce those accident risks further.

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently announced  a proposed rule that would set  minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes across the country.  Regulators  believe that this would help increase standards of care for the elderly and sick at these facilities, and prevent nursing  home neglect. Unfortunately, low standards of care often result in falls with fractures, decubitus ulcers (bed sores), amputations and wrongful death.

There  are currently more than 1.2 million people who are cared for at one of the country’s 15,000 nursing homes.  The  standards of care for all these patients would be directly impacted by the new regulation.  The   US Department of Health and Human Services says that the rule would, for the first time ever in history, propose a minimum staffing requirement for nursing homes. Poor staffing and poorly trained staff is often the main reason persons in nursing homes suffer abuse and personal injuries.

This  would include a requirement that the facility have a registered nurse on staff 24 hours a day, every single day.  It will also require and set a minimum standard of 3 nursing hours for every resident at the facility. That includes 0.55 hours of care per registered nurse per resident per day and 2.45 hours of care by a nurse aide per resident per day.  In addition, nursing facilities may also be required to provide more than the minimum staffing requirements in case of specific patient needs.

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American seniors are suffering slip and fall injuries at much higher rates than just a couple of decades ago. According to a new study, there has been a two – fold increase in the rate of fatal slip and fall accidents involving seniors since 1999.

The study  focused on seniors above the age of 65, and found that  fatal slip and fall accident rates have risen for both males and females and across all racial groups.  The  study found that in 1999, there had been 10,100 deaths from slip and fall accidents involving seniors, and in 2020, that number had increased to 36,500.   The rate of slip and fall – related deaths involving this very vulnerable age category increased from 29 for every 100,000 persons in 1999 to 69  for every 100,000 persons in 2020.

White  males  recorded the highest increase with approximately 78 deaths for every 100,000 persons in the year 2020.  Death rates also increased for other categories, including Hispanics and African American seniors.   Obviously, these results are concerning,  and even more so because they do not seem to be talked about enough.  Senior slip and fall risks are  not much of a priority for health authorities, and the results are clear to see.

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Statistics  from last year show that Labor Day was the second deadliest holiday in the United States in 2022, and this year,  with the incidence of drunk driving on the rise,  the risk of alcohol – related car accidents has never been higher.

Last year, one study by a car insurance app found that the Labor Day Holiday weekend ranked second only to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the number of fatal car accidents recorded.  The  study  analyzed data between 2011 and 2020, and found that the Labor Day holiday was the second most dangerous holiday in the country. Over the study  period, the data showed  that more than 4000 people were killed in car accidents over Labor Day, many of them caused by drunk drivers. Approximately, 25% of deaths involved   teens   and young people in their mid 20s.  About  70% of this category of drivers were male.  The  second most at- risk category of drivers during the Labor Day holiday were drivers between the age of 26 and 35.

Drunk driving is likely fueling this increase in car accident deaths. Recent  data shows that driving under the influence of alcohol is actually on the increase across the country. Between 2020 and 2021, there was an increase of approximately 14% in fatal alcohol – related car accidents. Overall, there was an increase of approximately 10% in car accident deaths during the same period of time.  Clearly,  the role of alcohol in causing car accidents is increasing, and this is a cause of concern.

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The  federal administration is proposing a new seatbelt warning system that would apply to occupants of the back seat as well as the front seat passenger.  It is a move that could significantly help reduce the number of people killed in car accidents on America’s roads every year. It is important to keep in mind that persons in the rear seats are injured in car accidents, especially in rear-end accidents and T-bone accidents.

In  2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator, approximately 43,000 people were killed in car accidents and approximately 50% of them were not wearing seatbelts  at  the time of the auto accident.  Their chances of surviving the crash could have significantly improved had they been buckled in.  Unfortunately, the current law only    requires seat belt reminder systems for drivers, but has no such requirements for front seat passengers as well as occupants of the rear seat of the car.  These people are also at a very high risk of suffering  fatal  injuries in the event of an auto accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a Proposed Rule which requires motor vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds to have seatbelt reminder systems for all passengers in the car, including front seat and backseat passengers.  The  requirement would require a visual alert that would go on for approximately 60 seconds and would alert the driver to the status of rear seatbelt usage.  It  would also require an audible alert that would alert the driver when a backseat passenger removes the seat belt while the vehicle is in operation. The rule would   also require an audio visual alert system for the right  front seat passenger  to buckle his seatbelt. Auto manufacturers would have the flexibility to decide how frequently and how loud the audible  reminder system should be.

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Summer  is when there is an increase in dog bite attacks across Georgia,  possibly due to the fact that more people are out during this time and in contact with   dogs.  However, the  weather may   play a much bigger role in the increase in dog bites  during the summer months than earlier believed. Unfortunately, dog bites often result in serious personal injuries.

According  to the results of a new study that was published recently, hot weather may cause aggression in dogs just the same way as it does in humans.  When temperatures are higher, human beings are likely to become  irritable and aggressive. They may suffer from disturbed sleep during hot days which causes increased irritability  and discomfort.  Incidents of road rage, for instance, are likely to peak during summer months. Several  studies have underlined this fact.  However,  there have not been enough studies done to understand the impact of higher temperatures on animals like dogs.

The  researchers focused on 8 metropolitan American cities, and extracted data on dog bite attacks that occurred in these cities over  a 10 – year period.  They found  more than 69,000 bites occurred in these cities over the time period.   When the researchers  drilled down further into the data, they found that dog bites were more likely to occur not only when temperatures were   higher, but also when there were higher  UV levels.  In  short, they found a link between higher temperatures, ozone and higher levels of air pollution and increased attacks by dogs.

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There are a significant number of persons in the United States who like to drive what are commonly called “muscle cars.” These are cars with high horsepower which are capable of high speeds and fast acceleration.  Examples of cars often referred to as “muscle cars” include the Dodge Charger, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, Dodge Challenger and the Camaro. Unfortunately, some muscle cars have been identified with an increase in car accident wrongful deaths.

A new study by the Insurance Institute  for Highway Safety finds that smaller cars  that have more powerful engines can be deadly for not just motorists and passengers, but also for drivers of other cars.  Traditionally,  safety experts have believed that larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks are more dangerous  for drivers and passengers of other vehicles in  the event of an accident.  However,  the dangers may be even more serious in the case of smaller muscle cars like the Ford Mustang or other similar vehicles.

Muscle  cars are basically smaller American cars that have increased horsepower. These are boxy cars that  usually have 2 doors and a powerful engine.  These  cars are typically marketed to a certain type of consumer,  and the study believes that the way in which these cars are marketed also contributes to the higher death rates associated with these vehicles.

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