January 2012 Archives

January 31, 2012

Tennessee Traffic Safety: Are Your Aggressive Driving Habits Increasing Your Risk for an Accident?

Are you an aggressive driver?

Most would answer "no" to that question. And yet the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates more than half of all accidents are caused by some form of aggressive driving. An experienced Knoxville injury lawyer can thoroughly review the facts and circumstances of your accident. 1185230_winter.jpg

We recently reported on our Tennessee Injury Attorney Blog about the importance of conducting a through investigation into the facts and circumstances of a trucking accident. Doing so for a serious auto accident is no less important. Motorists should take pictures at the scene, and collect the names and contact information of any witnesses. Inspecting the damaged vehicles may also be important. In some instances evidence uncovered may include cell phone use, or that a driver was eating, applying makeup or otherwise distracted.

When we discuss aggressive driving, most people think of road rage, or other instances of assault or near assault. Those may even result in criminal charges. But aggressive driving has evolved to include a wide range of behaviors that show disregard for the safety of other motorists on the road. More than 90 percent of motorists view it as a serious threat to traffic safety.

They just do it anyway. Driving behaviors that may characterize dangerous or aggressive driving include:

  • Speeding
  • Red light running
  • Drowsy driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Tailgating
  • Failure to use signal
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to make a complete stop
  • Failure to obey traffic control device

All of these behaviors go toward proving negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Few "accidents" are truly "accidental." Modifying driver behavior is the only thing that will significantly reduce accident rates. Start with your behavior. As we reported in December, the number of fatal Tennessee car accidents has increased as the economy has continued to improve.

And, while an increasing number of states are putting emphasis on passing distracted-driving laws, enforcement is another matter entirely.

Tennessee now has one of the most comprehensive text-message bans in the nation, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Primary enforcement permits law enforcement to stop a motorist caught text messaging, even if the driver is not committing another moving violation.

However, hand-held phone use remains legal behind the wheel. This makes enforcement of the law a challenge because officers often will not attempt to differentiate between a motorist dialing a phone (legal) and one sending a text messaging (illegal).

But whether an activity is legal and whether it is safe are different matters entirely. A healthy dose of common sense can go a long way toward keeping you out of an accident. Something as simple as allowing yourself extra time in bad weather, can make a real difference. When we are in a hurry, we are quickly impatient and are at increased risks of causing an accident. In fact, driving too fast for conditions is the leading cause of weather-related crashes.

As we close out January, take a minute to make a resolution to be a better driver in 2012.

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January 24, 2012

Reports of Nursing Home Abuse in Tennessee Shut Down Facility

A number of complaints regarding nursing home abuse in Maryville resulted in approximately 100 residents being removed from the Colonial Hills Nursing Center. The nursing home allegedly lost its certification with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of a number of problems it encountered in 2011, according to Canadian Business. These problems included some life-threatening deficiencies.
The director of health care facilities with the Tennessee Department of Health reported that two of the facility's residents claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Other violations included patients becoming ill from overly-salted foods and complication from being given incorrect medications. The facility has been ordered to shut down and improve its standard of care before it can re-open.

Our Tennessee nursing home abuse lawyers understand that we depend on nursing homes to provide the proper care to our elderly loved ones, and that these centers have a responsibility to follow strict standards of care. Colonial Hills Nursing Center had nearly 165 residents in December when they were given the notification. Roughly 100 of those patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid. The Tennessee Department of Health ordered the facility to relocate those patients by early February.

State officials and the federal government will not pay for sub-quality care. After an investigation into the facility, there were nearly 100 pages of deficiencies identified at that one residence alone.

"This strips an individual of their dignity and respect. No one who is a vulnerable individual should be placed in this situation," said the director of health.

Tennessee state officials believe the state has some of the finest health care professionals and health care treatment facilities in the U.S. While most of these professionals are caring and competent individuals, there are problems that can arise from faulty institutions. For this reason, the state's Department of Health asks that you file a complaint if you feel that the treatment that you or a loved one is receiving from a nursing home in the state is unacceptable.

Tennessee Nursing Home Complaint Activity (2010):

-There were 325 licensed nursing homes in the state.

-Nursing homes received nearly 1,540 complaints.

-There were 300 nursing homes with one or more complaints filed. These homes accounted for more than 90 percent of all of the state's nursing homes.

-There were nearly 40 nursing homes that had 10 or more complaints filed against them. These residences accounted for more than 11 percent of the homes.

-One nursing home went bankrupt.

-There were 12 homes that were cited with standard level care.

-Five nursing homes were cited and ordered to pay a total of more than $1,569,000.

-Five nursing homes had admissions suspended.

ThirdAge.com offers residents of Tennessee with a list of the top-rated nursing homes in Knoxville. Do your homework before choosing a nursing home facility for your or your loved ones.

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January 17, 2012

Advocacy Group and Local Teen Fight for Safer Roads to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere

According to a recent report, "The 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws," Tennessee is one of the country's 18 safest states. Still, the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that there were more than 1,030 traffic accident fatalities here in 2010. The 2010 statistics also illustrate an increase from the 986 who were killed in 2010. While our roadways may have been voted as some of the safest in the country, the number of roadway fatalities is in fact increasing.
According to KnoxNews, a teenage driver in the state is working to spread the word about the importance of safe driving habits to avoid car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere. Joe Polakiewicz, the new advocate, is choosing to speak up about the dangers teens face on our roadways. The effort for safer roads came after Polakiewicz's October 2010 traffic accident in which he reached down in his vehicle while traveling along Big Springs Road. He unknowingly swerved off of the road, over-corrected his vehicle, spun out and slammed into a tree on the other side of the road. This accident almost took his life. But he survived and now believes it happened for a reason: to promote teen driver safety.

Our Tennessee teen car accident lawyers have read the recent report, "The 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws," was conducted by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in which researchers took a look at 15 road safety laws of all states. During the evaluations of each state, researchers looked at how well the state was able to adhere to the safety group's grading scale. Through these ratings, Tennessee came out as one of the top 18 as it had followed 10.5 or more of the safety group's 15 suggested laws.

The more safety laws a state has for its roadways, the safer motorists are. This is a good time to remember how beneficial these laws can be for teens who are just learning to drive. It's vital to reiterate to our newly-licensed drivers the importance of keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Polakiewicz's accident was completely preventable. But with his dedication to spreading the word of safe driving skills, safer roadways may be in the near future.

"I just feel that Joe's survival is a miracle and maybe he survived for a reason," Nancy Polakiewicz, the teen driver's mother, told a reporter. "I need to tell his story to prevent others from going through that."

Road Laws Evaluated in the Report:

-Three different laws to limit drivers' ability to pack in the passengers.

-Having seven complete elements of a graduated driver's licensing (GDL) program.

-Four drug and alcohol-impaired driving laws, including one requiring ignition interlock devices for convicted offenders.

-A ban on text messaging for all drivers.

Some of the worst-ranked states were South Dakota and Arizona, with 4 and 4.5 points, respectively.

Parents are reminded that these laws can be useless without adult enforcement. Parents should remain actively involved in their teen's driving career long after they've graduated to an unrestricted driver's license. Parent involvement can be one of the most beneficial factors in the fight against teen car accidents in Tennessee.

Continue reading "Advocacy Group and Local Teen Fight for Safer Roads to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere" »

January 10, 2012

Serious Burn Injuries in Knoxville and Elsewhere Accompany a Lifetime of Suffering

Burn accidents can happen practically anywhere if you're not careful. Oftentimes, these injuries can be caused by faulty wiring. They can also happen in rental units, places where smoke detectors are not available, where fire exits blocked or locked and in places not equipped with an adequate fire sprinkler system. According to the American Burn Association, nearly half a million people are injured every year in fire and burn-related accidents and require treatment from emergency rooms across the country. If that's not bad enough, another 4,000 people are killed every year in burn-related accidents. Of these fatalities, roughly 3,000 are the result of residential fires. Fire-related accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere can cause burn injuries that can be excruciatingly painful, devastating for family members and can result in permanent deformities.
Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers understand a dispute with an insurance company and a burn victim can involve proving how the fire-related injury happened and where the heat source originated. Our attorneys help to fight for the rights of burn accident victims. Our firm can help victims evaluate the accident scene and collect relevant evidence to help you prove a case to collect the proper compensation.

Many times, these burn accidents are the result of someone else's negligence. For this reason, it is important for you to contact an experienced attorney if you've been the victim of a burn accident.

In many burn accident cases, it is necessary for a victim to determine if the building in which the accident occurred met current safety codes. In cases where buildings do not meet safety codes and the proper corrections were not made to prevent a foreseeable accident, the property owner can be held reliable for the damages and the injuries.

Of the 4,000 fatalities that occur every year because of burn accidents, about 75 percent of the victims die at the scene of the accident or during the initial transport.

Ways to Help Prevent Burn Accidents:

-Never allow the cords of appliances to dangle.

-Keep your water heater set at 120 degrees.

-Don't use any electric hair styling products near sinks in the bathroom.

-Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable.

-Keep paint and other flammable liquids in their original-labeled containers.

-Never toss out ashes, either hot or cold, in anything other than a metal container.

-Never smoke while lying in bed or near anything that's flammable.

-If you live in an apartment, know where the nearest stairwell is located.

-If you have an appliance that starts to smoke, unplug it and take it to be serviced immediately.

-Never overload outlets or extension cords.

-Follow the recommendations listed by manufacturers for bulb wattage in light fixtures.

-Never put extension cords under rugs.

Continue reading "Serious Burn Injuries in Knoxville and Elsewhere Accompany a Lifetime of Suffering" »

January 4, 2012

Winter Weather Contributing to Numerous Car Accidents on Tennessee Interstates

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, there have been a number of serious car accidents in Knoxville on Interstate-75. Officials believe that many of these traffic accidents were caused by the snowy weather conditions, according to NBC10.
Snowfall plagued Campbell County and dispatchers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol are reporting that the Interstate was icy and dangerous. There have been at least three car accidents reported because of the snow, ice and slick roadways. Mile marker 158 on I-75 was blocked off because of an accident that happened just before 5:00 p.m. The two other accidents reportedly happened at mile markers 139 and 153.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that the holiday congested traffic may be departing. But the dangerous winter weather conditions are here to stay for a while. We're asking all drivers to be extremely cautious when navigating snowy and icy roadways. Make it a New Year's resolution to be a better and safer driver in 2012. You can help to reduce your risks of an accident by practicing a few winter weather safe driving tips. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is here to offer you these safe driving tips through its "Ice & Snow: Take It Slow" safe winter driving campaign.

Winter Driving Safety Tips:

-Slow it down. When it snows, you should use your head and not your feet. Reduce your speed when driving on icy, snowy or wet roadways.

-Slow down when approaching bridges, heavily shaded spots, off-ramps and intersections. These areas are prime spots for black ice. Drivers may not always be able to see black ice on the roadway, therefore slow travel is key in preventing an accident.

-Keep the steering to a minimum. Only steer, brake and accelerate when needed. Cutting down on these types of actions cuts down your risks of losing control of your vehicle.

-Keep the distance. Leave more room between your vehicle and other vehicles on the roadways as it's more difficult to stop in these conditions.

-Avoid using the cruise control. You should always stay in control or the acceleration and the brakes when driving on slick roadways. Using the cruise control only slows your ability to react.

-Never crowd snow plows. Give these machines plenty of room to do their job. Remember these vehicles travel much slower than normal traffic.

-Before leaving your home, call 511 from any phone or visit www.tn511.com to learn about current weather and road conditions.

-Leave for your destination with plenty of time to spare. Extra time reduces the need to rush and speed.

-Be sure to clear the snow from your vehicle's windows, headlights and taillights before departing.

-Remember that stopping on slick roadways takes longer than normal and can take more distance. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should brake by pressing firmly down on the brake pedal. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the brake pedal to stop.

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