December 2011 Archives

December 30, 2011

Pedestrian Safety Around the Holidays Can Reduce the Risk of Accidents in Charlotte, Elsewhere

Our Asheville personal injury lawyers know that the holidays are a dangerous time of year for motorists because roadways become more congested with vehicles, distracted drivers and drivers under the influence. But they are equally as dangerous for pedestrians who are traveling by foot. People getting around by foot need to pay close attention to speeding or distracted motorists in order to avoid a pedestrian accident in Charlotte, Greensboro or elsewhere in the state.
Several recent pedestrian accidents keep us mindful of just how dangerous roadways can be this time of year. reports of one pedestrian who was struck and killed by a car at an intersection in Wheaton. During early morning hours, a pedestrian was walking along Knollwood Drive when a vehicle driving along Geneva Road hit him as he was crossing an intersection. The accident is still under investigation but police officials reported that the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. reports of a separate incident that left two pedestrians dead after a car struck them and left the scene of the accident. The two pedestrians were allegedly having an argument when they got out of their vehicle on U.S. Highway 52. A motorist struck the couple and kept on driving while a second and third vehicle ran them over after they lay in the middle of the road. The second driver stopped and reported the accident. The two pedestrians were not able to be saved after having contact with three separate vehicles involved in the accident.

The Highway Safety Research Center reports that there are approximately 2,200 pedestrians struck by vehicles in police-reported crashes every year. Of these, roughly 150 to 200 are killed and another 500 are seriously injured from the collision. In a study looking at data from 2005-2009, researchers found that pedestrians failing to yield were the top cause of pedestrian crashes during this period, reporting a total of 1,756. The next leading cause or crash type were parking lot or off-roadway accidents which killed 1,091 North Carolina pedestrians from 2005-2009.

As pedestrians head out to do some last minute shopping or walk around town to see storefront holiday displays or parades, be mindful of the following safety reminders to avoid a pedestrian accident this holiday season:

-Nighttime falls sooner this time of year so keep a flash light handy to help avoid a trip and fall accident.

-Look both ways before you cross the street. Always use a crosswalk rather than dashing out into the street at mid-block.

-Don't become overloaded with too many shopping bags or gift items. Carrying excessive bags or cargo can deter you from seeing clearly or making it across the street safely if something falls from your arms.

-Try to shop with friends rather than walking to stores alone, especially in dark parking lots or isolated side streets.

-Join in the spirit of the holiday season by dressing in bright and easy to see clothing.

-Avoid walking on sidewalks or walkways that are icy or snow covered.

Pedestrians should use extra caution around motorists or other roadways users to avoid a collision that can lead to a serious injury during the holidays. Staying alert can help pedestrians to enjoy the season and spend the holidays with family and friends safely.

Continue reading "Pedestrian Safety Around the Holidays Can Reduce the Risk of Accidents in Charlotte, Elsewhere" »

December 29, 2011

Effective GDL Programs Help Teens Gain Experience and Reduce Teen Car Accidents in Hickory, Nationwide

Gastonia personal injury lawyers know that effective graduated driver's license (GDL) programs are gaining acceptance nationwide because it makes sense that the more experience a young driver can gain before being left alone to drive the safer they will be in making quick decisions or gaining confidence to handle difficult driving situations.
According to a recent article in USA Today, 2,000 lives could be saved throughout the country annually if each state were to adopt a comprehensive GDL program for young drivers which phases in driving privileges as they gain knowledge and experience. Some states already participate in strong GDL programs but others leave much to be desired when it comes to training young drivers.

We posted previously on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog that two former standouts from the U.S. Department of Transportation are pushing for federal legislation to pass the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act. Requiring states to strengthen and stand united on GDL programs can help minimize the number of teen car accidents in Hickory, Charlotte and nationwide.

USA Today reports that teen drivers between the ages of 16 to 19 are four times more likely to crash per mile driven than older adults according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Congress is preparing to make a decision about a multi-year highway and transit spending bill in the weeks to come. GDL program and teen safety advocates are pushing Congress to incorporate into the bill to include $25 million a year in incentives for states to take an initiative and build a stronger GDL program for teens training to get their license.

Every state has some sort of GDL program in place that will reward teens for meeting certain requirements as they learn to drive and gain maturity behind the wheel. Only New York and Delaware contain all seven key elements that are considered to make a program effective. The seven key elements of a comprehensive GDL program include:

-Turning 16 before a learner's permit is obtained.

-Gaining 6 months of driving experience before being permitted to drive unsupervised.

-During the learner's stage, teens must have a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving.

-Enter the intermediate licensing phase at a minimum age of 16 years and 6 months.

-No driving is permitted after 10:00 p.m. in the intermediate licensing phase.

-Non-family member passengers are limited to no more than one during the intermediate phase.

-Must be age 17 to obtain a full license.

According to the report, an estimated 83 lives could be saved each year in North Carolina if a stronger GDL program were to be implemented. In South Carolina, 65 lives could be saved annually.

As parents, there are so many fears associated with your child starting the learning to drive process but the best thing you can do for your teen is to spend numerous hours supervising them to be safe drivers and always exhibiting safe driving practices when they ride in the vehicle with you.

Continue reading "Effective GDL Programs Help Teens Gain Experience and Reduce Teen Car Accidents in Hickory, Nationwide" »

December 25, 2011

Car Accidents Caused by Texting in Greensboro, Elsewhere Increase in 2010

Keeping track of distraction-related car accidents in Greensboro, Charlotte and elsewhere has become important in determining the cause of an accident. The government is pushing local and state law enforcement agencies to ask questions and retrieve phone or texting records of the driver following an accident to help determine the relevance of a distracting behavior, specifically cell phones, in causing an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently released a new traffic safety sheet with relation to driver electronic device use for 2010. Distraction-related accidents continue to rise as more and more drivers become tempted to multi-task with electronic devices while they operate a vehicle.

Charlotte injury lawyers know that as tempting as it may be to text while you drive, research is showing the behavior is proving to be more and more dangerous for drivers.

The National Center for Statistics conducts a survey every year related to how often drivers engage in using electronic devices behind the wheel. After reviewing the data provided in the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), researchers from the NHTSA found that there was a significant increase in accidents from 2009 to 2010 caused by drivers who were texting at the time of the accident. The number of accidents caused by talking on a cell phone remained about the same from 2009 to 2010. Reported data shows that roughly 3,100 people died in distracted driving accidents nationwide in 2010.

According to the NOPUS survey, 5 percent, or 650,000 drivers were witnessed using a cell phone from 2009 to 2010. Female drivers were more likely to use a hand-held cell phone than male drivers. The survey also indicated that drivers between the ages of 16 to 24 years-old are the most apt to engage in electronic device use behind the wheel. It is probably no surprise that the survey found the over-70 age group to be the least likely to text or talk on a cell phone while driving. It isn't to say that elder drivers never take part in this unsafe behavior but it is less likely to occur as drivers reach senior citizen status.

The NHTSA conducted a phone interview to determine how many drivers talk on cell phones while they drive. Participants gave the following responses to the phone survey:

-The majority of drivers answer calls while driving and almost half these drivers admit to holding a cell phone while operating a vehicle.

-A small percentage (20) said they use hands-free devices to talk while driving.

-Less than 20 percent use the speaker phone feature on their cell phone while driving.

-Only 5 percent of those surveyed responded that they place calls on all trips while they drive compared to 25 percent who admitted they place calls on some driving trips.

-Almost 10 percent of respondents said they will answer a call and pull over to talk rather than drive and another 12 percent said they would answer but tell the caller they will give them a call back later. Very few drivers responded that they pull over first before answering a call.

Interestingly, fewer than 10 percent of drivers surveyed responded that they have a built-in feature in their car that allows them to place or answer calls while they are in their vehicle. As the potential for cell phone bans while driving nationwide becomes more of a possibility, automobile manufacturers will start pushing consumers to buy vehicles with voice activated cell phone devices built right in the vehicle so that they can continue to multi-task and save time while making or answering calls when they drive.

No matter what your age, there is no time like the present to avoid becoming distracted while you drive. Eliminate distractions by giving the roadway all the attention it deserves each time you get behind the wheel.

Continue reading "Car Accidents Caused by Texting in Greensboro, Elsewhere Increase in 2010" »

December 22, 2011

Supervise Pets at Holiday Gatherings to Reduce the Risk of Dog Bite Injuries in Winston-Salem, Statewide

Hickory injury lawyers want to remind pet owners to keep a watchful eye on their dogs during the holiday season to avoid a potential dog-bite accident. You may be having visitors coming and going this time of year that can cause a change in routine for your pet. Disruption can cause even the friendliest of dogs to become agitated or stressed, which can lead to serious injury when a dog attacks in Winston-Salem, Statesville or elsewhere in North Carolina.
American Humane Association reports there are an estimated 4.7 million dog bites annually in the U.S. Roughly 20 percent require a trip to the emergency room. Hands, arms, feet and legs are the most common areas to be bitten on an adult as evidenced in more than 70 percent of reported accidents. Children are more likely to be bit on the face, head or neck (65 percent) as these body parts are in close relation to a dog's mouth. Half of the dog bites that occur are to children under the age of 12 years-old. Alarmingly, 70 percent of deaths caused by a dog attack are children ages 9 and under. Newborns left unsupervised with a dog in the room are 370 times more likely to be killed by a pet.

Many pet owners have a misconception that their pets are so friendly that they would never hurt anyone, especially at home. What pet owners need to understand is that dogs are protective by nature, especially when it comes to family members or where they live. Almost 60 percent of dog bite fatalities occur on an owner's property compared to 24 percent off the owner's property when a dog is unrestrained. Almost two-thirds of bites occur when the victim is familiar with a dog on the victim's own property.

Dogs often give recognizable indicators when they become stressed. If you plan to have relatives or friends visit over the holidays, look for the following signs from your pet that they may have had too much excitement: yawning or constant licking of their chops, pacing, tail is tucked or moving stiff and swift like a rattle snake, hiding under furniture or behind your leg, intense staring towards a person, growling, fur is raised along their back or excessive barking.

Pet owners can reduce the risk of dog bite incidents this holiday season with the following dog bite prevention tips from doggonesafe:

-Keep your pet crated until visitors arrive and get settled in a seat.

-Instruct children not to approach your pet too quickly. Have them stand still and let the dog sniff them before they try to reach or pet the dog.

-Assign an adult to watch the pet for signs of stress. If the pet seems agitated or stressed, put them in a separate room or crate with their favorite chew toy or bone.

-Remind visitors not to feed the pet scraps from the table.

-Never permit visitors to bring their own pets to large gatherings, even if the dogs are familiar with each other.

-Make sure children and your pet are always supervised.

Continue reading "Supervise Pets at Holiday Gatherings to Reduce the Risk of Dog Bite Injuries in Winston-Salem, Statewide" »

December 22, 2011

Holiday Decorating Puts Families at Risk of Severe Injury in Asheville, Elsewhere

Families may enjoy the smell of fresh pine around the holidays as they decorate and light up their Christmas tree. But there are some risks involved with having a real tree in your home. Christmas trees present a risk of fire or electrical hazards which can lead to smoke inhalation or severe burn injuries in Asheville or elsewhere.
Winston-Salem personal injury lawyers know that once a real tree becomes dry it can be highly flammable so it is important to water your tree frequently throughout the holiday season.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released a video to show just how dangerous real trees can be and how quickly they can cause severe damage to a home when flames ignite.

The NFPA reports from 2005-2009, there were an average of 240 homes fires that started from Christmas trees in the U.S. each year which required help from fire departments to put out the flames. During this period, 13 people were killed, 27 were seriously injured and $16.7 million in property damage occurred each year on average. It is reported that one out of every 18 Christmas tree-related fires resulted in death. In 20 percent of incidents a heat source too close to the tree started the fire.

The NFPA offers these Christmas tree safety tips while picking out a tree, placing the tree in your home and lighting the tree after it is decorated:

-Select a tree that has green needles. It is never a good sign if the needles fall when you touch the tree so always choose a fresh tree.

-Cut away 1 to 2 inches from the base of the tree before you put it in the tree stand.

-Check your home for the closest heat source like candles, heat vents, fireplaces, lights or radiators. Make sure your tree is positioned at least three feet away from any of these sources.

-Never stand a tree where it can block an exit in case of a fire or other emergency.

-Add water to the tree stand daily.

-Read labels on lights to make sure they are for indoor use and make sure they have been independently tested by a laboratory.

-No more than three strands of mini string sets should be connected. Screw-in bulbs should have a maximum of 50 bulbs.

-Always read the manufacturer's instructions before lighting the tree.

-As nice as a lit candle may look on a Christmas tree, candles should never be used as decorations.

-Never leave a tree lit overnight or when you aren't at home.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also reports that decorating your home for the holidays presents hazards for fall accidents or severe cuts in addition to the risks related to tree fires. Family members are at risk of falling off the ladder while hanging decorations or being cut when a bulb or ornament breaks. Last year, the CPSC estimates there were 13,000 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms from holiday decorating in November and December. This was 1,000 more medically treated injuries than each of the two previous years.

For more information about holiday decorating safety, visit CPSC online for helpful safety tips that can keep you or your family injury-free throughout the holiday season.

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December 20, 2011

North Carolina Shoppers Can Check Consumer Group's Website for Defective, Recalled Products

Family, friends and co-workers are busy shopping at North Carolina malls and retail outlets in an effort to finish up last-minute gift purchases. Defective product accident attorneys in Greensboro, Charlotte and elsewhere want to remind shoppers to be cautious of what they buy because not all gifts are safe or hazard-free.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced that toys are safer due to more stringent manufacturing rules. But even though defective-toy recalls are down the last few years, child injuries and deaths still remain alarmingly high when it comes to toy-related accidents in North Carolina or elsewhere.

In 2010, 17 children under the age of 16 died in a toy-related accident in addition to another 181,500 kids who were injured badly enough to need immediate medical treatment. Parents and consumers should stay away from balloons, small balls and non-motorized scooters as they often put children at risk of choking hazards or fall accidents leading to serious injuries or death.

The CPSC has recently recalled several products for defects or safety hazards. Some of them include:

TXT golf cars, Cushman shuttle vehicles and Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles: manufactured by E-Z-GO, approximately 22,000 units have been sold. Drivers are at risk of losing control when the threaded end of the rack rod ball breaks and the ball joint becomes displaced. There have been 71 reported incidents of the ball joint breaking on these units. Products sold for $6,650 to $10,650 at Bad Boy and E-Z-GO dealers nationwide from February 2011 through July 2011.

Rocketfish Battery Case: approximately 31,000 units have been sold in the U.S. The battery case made for 3G/3GS iPhones is at risk of overheating while the phone is charging and can cause a fire. The CPSC has received seven reports of burn injuries or property damage while a phone covered with this product was recharging. The battery cases were sold exclusively at Best Buy stores and Future Shop or were available online between April 2010 and September 2011. The units range in price from $10 to $60. Consumers can receive a Best Buy gift card and instructions on how to return the unit by getting in touch with a local Best Buy store.

KEDS "Know It All" Girls Shoes: approximately 45,000 units have been sold from June through October 2011 at various online retailers or department stores for approximately $23 each. The shoes pose a laceration hazard when the ornamental stars on the heel loosen. There have been 27 reports of scratches or cuts caused by the metal stars coming loose. Girls in possession of these shoes should stop wearing them immediately and return them for a $30 gift card to be redeemed at Stride Rite stores.

More information about these recalls and many others is available online at

Continue reading "North Carolina Shoppers Can Check Consumer Group's Website for Defective, Recalled Products" »

December 17, 2011

"OMG" Campaign Educates Teens About Potential for Distracted-Driving Car Accidents in Gastonia, Elsewhere

You may have been sitting in your living room, filling your gas tank, or at the theater ready to watch a movie recently and noticed a public service announcement with a strong message for teens about the dangers of driving distracted. Hopefully it is getting through to younger drivers that texting while driving is a behavior that can lead to unfortunate consequences. Teen car accidents in Gastonia and elsewhere are often caused by a driver texting or otherwise not paying attention to the roadway.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the "OMG" PSA a few weeks ago, just in time for the holidays. No parent or family member wants to mourn the loss of a teenage child during the holiday season, so the timing is perfect to initiate conversations with your kids after you both have viewed the advertisement.

Charlotte personal injury lawyers understand that roadways can be a little more dangerous this time of year with winter weather and holiday travelers using roadways more frequently. Plus, teenage drivers are more likely to be hanging out with friends or attending parties now that they have a few extra days off from school.

The "OMG" PSA is meant to relate to teens with the shortened abbreviations used while texting. Speaking to teens in a language they can understand is expected to drive the point home. The vivid images show teens texting with messages like "LOL" (laugh out loud) and "L8R" (later) before they look up and find it is too late to avoid a crash.

The PSA is airing at Regal Cinema theaters and on Outcast Pump Top gas station pump-top screens nationwide throughout December. Two different versions may be viewed on cinema or gas-pump screens. One version is meant for a teenage audience and will be aired on almost 6,600 movie screens in 526 Regal Entertainment Group owned-and-operated cinemas nationwide. Outcast Pump Top TV will air a more somber version on 12,000 high-traffic gas stations nationwide. Both versions are also available for viewing at the government website,

The teenage group relies heavily on social networking devices to stay connected to friends and family. By portraying vivid images using their own teen lingo, the government and other anti-distracted driving advocates hope to get through to teens and eliminate these unsafe behaviors on U.S. roadways. Movie theaters and gas stations are some of the most highly trafficked avenues during the holidays and is the perfect way to portray a clear image about what can happen when you get distracted behind the wheel.

The government continues to be vigilant in their efforts to stop all drivers from using cell phones while they operate a vehicle. Parents and teens are reminded to do your part by putting down the cell phone each time you get behind the wheel this holiday season and beyond.

Continue reading ""OMG" Campaign Educates Teens About Potential for Distracted-Driving Car Accidents in Gastonia, Elsewhere " »

December 15, 2011

Chevy Volt Safety Tests Reveal Possibility of Fire Hazard After Car Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere

General Motors is offering to buy back your Chevrolet Volt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Volts are under a thorough investigation after the vehicles were discovered to pose a fire hazard after side-collision safety testing. A car accident in Asheville and elsewhere involving a Chevy Volt could potentially lead to safety issues in the future.

In recent crash studies, the NHTSA determined that, during a side collision, the vehicle's coolant line could rupture and the vehicle's lithium-ion battery could catch fire. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) are working alongside the NHTSA to collect information regarding the potential for fire in electric vehicles.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand how important it is to research vehicles for purchase and to stay up-to-date with the latest vehicle recalls. Drivers are urged to check out the website frequently to ensure that their vehicles aren't putting them at risk for an accident. Long after a vehicle is manufactured, officials can determine there are problems that could cause injury to motorists. Please review this information frequently to help reduce your risks of an accident.

The Chevy Volt has not been recalled yet, but will be if the NHTSA determines that there's an unreasonable risk to safety. If a recall is issued, officials from General Motors will take the appropriate measures to notify drivers.

While these investigations are taking place, GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson says that the company is willing to buy back any Volt from concerned consumers. The automaker is also offering to loan out a temporary vehicle to owners until the safety concerns are resolved as well.

"While the investigation is going on, we will do whatever it takes to allay concerns and keep our customers happy and if that includes repurchase, we will work individually with any customer," says GM spokesman Greg Martin.

Currently, there have been nearly 10,000 Chevy Volts sold in the U.S. Only about 30 of these vehicle owners have asked the company for a loaner vehicle. The company has yet to determine exactly how the repurchase plan would work.

Jessica Caldwell, an auto analyst with, says that the company is lucky that the problem involves such a small number of vehicles. If the Volt would have been more popular, then a recall or a buyback plan would be more difficult and costly.
General Motors would like to reiterate that there have been no reports from consumers of any fires. These allegations are only based on incidents that had taken place during testing.

John O'Dell, with, says that he doubts that many owners will come forward with a buyback request considering the vehicles get about 40 miles per full electric charge and hundreds of miles when the gasoline power kicks in.

We understand that consumers nationwide have been waiting for electric cars for quite some time now. Still, these vehicles can pose fatal complications just as gas-powered vehicles can. Owners of all motor vehicles should check out the website to make sure their vehicle is safe and isn't reporting any problems.

Continue reading "Chevy Volt Safety Tests Reveal Possibility of Fire Hazard After Car Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere" »

December 13, 2011

Researching North Carolina Nursing Homes Can Protect Elders from Abuse and Neglect in Asheville, Elsewhere reports that the majority of older adults would prefer to live in the comforts of their own home until they die. But our Asheville personal injury lawyers know that probably is unrealistic for many people. In fact, 43 percent of older adults develop mobility, sensory, or cognitive problems or issues with taking care of themselves as they age and need assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, cooking and cleaning.
When elders reach the point of not being able to take care of themselves, family members are faced with the tough decision of what to do next. If bringing someone into the home to care for your loved one is not financially or physically feasible, you may need to consider other options such as senior-living communities, assisted living communities, or a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

As part of a two-part series "Visiting Nursing Homes During the Holidays" we hope to not only create awareness about abuse and neglect occurring at North Carolina nursing homes but we want to help make choosing the right nursing home for your loved one a little easier.

Bringing medical staff into the home can be costly. The majority of long-term care services are publicly funded by either Medicare or Medicaid depending on the extent of an older adult's stay at the facility. Family members need to be cautious in choosing the right facility because not all nursing homes are rated highly or provide the best medical care.

The South Charlotte News recently reported there are more than 2,000 residents living in long-term care facilities in South Charlotte. North Carolina is ranked ninth in the country for the number of adults over age 60 residing in the state. By 2030, it is expected that one in four adults living in North Carolina will be over 60 years-old, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey.

There are 49 licensed adult-care facilities in Mecklenburg County alone, but only one paid regional long-term care ombudsman looking out for the rights and welfare of residents living in facilities. The purpose of the ombudsman is to make sure residents are treated properly and that facilities are following federal regulations and not committing violations that can endanger the health and safety of older adults. Ombudsmen are not regulators or inspectors but they can go around to facilities and talk to residents about whether their needs are being met or what kind of care they are receiving.

Family members in the process of looking for the right long-term care facility should first start by visiting the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation website. This site can serve as a resource and provide information about what a violation is and which adult care homes have received violations or have been cited for penalties.

Once you have done some research online, make a list of which facilities you want to visit. Choosing a facility that is close to your home is not always the best option so have a variety of nursing homes on your list. Make an appointment with someone in management at each facility to give you a tour and discuss the advantages to putting your loved one in their care. Once you have the list narrowed down, go for a second visit. It is important during the second visit to ask questions and pay special attention to the following:

-Talk to staff about how long they have worked at the facility. Staff longevity typically translates to residents being happier because the paid employees enjoy their job and like where they work.

-Plan to have a meal to get an idea of the quality, nutrition and amount provided to residents.

-Participate in planned activities or entertainment at the nursing home. Talk to residents about their experiences with staff and the kinds of activities provided.

-Recognize whether the state of health of residents at the facility matches the health of your own loved one. Look for mobility, communicativeness, and overall functioning of each resident. The idea is for your loved one to feel comfortable and make friends so residents should be free and able to interact with each other.

The important thing to remember is that both you and your elder loved one need to feel comfortable about which nursing home you choose. If it isn't a joint decision or the elder is resisting for some reason, communicate with them about the concerns they have. Choosing the right home can create a safe and healthy environment for them to live out the rest of their remaining days.

Continue reading "Researching North Carolina Nursing Homes Can Protect Elders from Abuse and Neglect in Asheville, Elsewhere" »

December 10, 2011

North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Urge Families to Look for Signs During Holiday Season Visits

Families build traditions and spend lots of quality time during the holiday season. If you have parents, grandparents or other loved ones at a nursing home, don't forget to include them in your holiday celebrations.

Greensboro nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys know that patients who don't receive visitors regularly are more prone to abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Family members must keep tabs on their elders living in these types of facilities to ensure they are not being mistreated by residents, staff or medical providers.
In a two-part "Visiting Nursing Homes During the Holidays" series, we hope to open your eyes to some of the signs of abuse or neglect to look for as you visit loved ones. There is also some good information about how to choose the right nursing home for your loved ones when they can no longer take care of themselves.

Abuse and neglect in Charlotte nursing homes or elsewhere can range anywhere from not changing bed sheets regularly to nurses making an error in medication management.

WWAY reports of a recent example of nursing home neglect when a couple visited a parent at a nursing home in New Hanover County and discovered the facility was operating without water. The couple was about to leave and saw the staff carrying around five-gallon jugs of water, which raised suspicion after being told earlier by the loved one that all they had to eat for breakfast was cold cereal. When questioned, management confirmed the water had been shut off for more than a week forcing residents to live without running water. Routine tests on the water found signs of bacteria and forced the facility to rectify the problem by putting chemicals in the system. More than one test detected signs of bacteria, which resulted in the facility leaving the water turned off for days.

The Nursing Home Monitor keeps the public informed about news of abuse and neglect occurring in facilities throughout the country, including several recent incidents at Charlotte-area nursing homes. Several homes have received violations for medication errors, allowing residents to roam the streets at night, untreated wounds and abuse, among other citations.

As you visit an elder at a nursing home this holiday, stay attentive for signs of neglect or abuse. The following are some signs to look for from the Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Resource Center:

-Extended deprivation of food or water.
-Signs of assault or battery evidenced by bruising, lacerations or unattended wounds.
-Symptoms of over-medication or not being given the correct medication.
-Witness a resident being slapped, shaken or mistreated by a staff member or another resident.
-Failure to provide necessary care to prevent bed sores, malnutrition, or dehydration.
-Residents live in unsanitary conditions.

If it doesn't look right to you, then it probably isn't and it needs to be questioned and possibly reported. Help protect your loved ones from mistreatment by visiting often and asking frequent questions about how they like living at the facility.

Continue reading "North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Urge Families to Look for Signs During Holiday Season Visits" »

December 7, 2011

Older Driver Awareness Week Aims to Reduce Car Accidents in Asheville, Elsewhere

In recognition of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week going on right now, our Charlotte personal injury lawyers want to remind family members to evaluate the driving skills of an older adult in your family with an open mind. Their physical skills and mental or visual abilities may have diminished in recent months without your knowing. This is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be traveling on roadways, so senior drivers may be more at risk of a car accident in Asheville, Hickory, Statesville or elsewhere in the state.
Recent studies have shown that the average person now lives about 10 to 12 years beyond their abilities to be a safe driver. To most senior citizens, a decade can feel like a lifetime when you have your driving privileges taken away.

News 14 Carolina reports that most older drivers feel that their skills don't diminish aside from driving at night or during rush-hour traffic. This time of year when the days get shorter and our roadways are congested with holiday travelers, it is sensible to keep elderly loved ones off the roadways as much as possible to reduce their risk of injury. However, it is unrealistic for senior citizens to think that if they avoid driving in these two conditions it becomes more plausible that they should be able to drive forever.

A spokesman from AAA Carolinas suggests that senior drivers should perform self-assessments of their driving abilities routinely. Older drivers should also take driving tests bi-annually or at least once a year to determine if driving abilities have diminished. Being able to drive defensively becomes more and more important with age so elders should take a class offered by a senior-living facility to evaluate their abilities to drive safely. If a class isn't available, then loved ones should take the time to evaluate and make sure the older adult is not a danger to themselves or other motorists.

Just like going for regular medical doctor check-ups, the American Occupational Therapy Association Inc. wants to reiterate the importance of going for regular driving fitness check-ups with an occupational driving rehabilitation specialist. The therapist can evaluate and will give an unbiased assessment of how an older adult scores on tests involving motor skills, visual skills and sensory skills with relation to driving abilities.

One of the most important points of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is that life doesn't have to end when a senior driver reaches the ending stages of their driving career. There are many other viable options out there to keep an older adult active in the community. If elders don't want to always ask family members to take them places they can check into public transportation offered by a senior adult facility or living center. These programs are designed to assist older adults who can no longer drive but are still mobile enough to leave their home and manage safely on their own.

Keep the older people in your life safe this holiday season by offering to drive them where they need to go and keeping them from driving on congested and potentially dangerous roadway conditions.

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December 5, 2011

Children at Risk of Driveway or Parking Lot Back-over Accidents in Winston-Salem, Elsewhere

Winston-Salem personal injury lawyers want to remind motorists to use extra caution as you back out of driveways or parking spots this time of year because little ones or elders may be difficult to see.
Back-over accidents in Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory or elsewhere can cause severe injury or even death when a young child or elderly person can't move out of the way quickly enough to avoid contact with a vehicle moving in reverse. Children playing in driveways at holiday gatherings or elders moving slowly through overcrowded parking lots are a common occurrence this time of year, so motorists should make sure the path is clear before putting their vehicle in gear.

Last December, we posted on our North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog that the U.S. Department of Transportation had plans to make it mandatory that all vehicles up to 10,000 pounds would have rear-mounted cameras or in-vehicle displays installed by 2014 in order to reduce the risk of back-over accidents nationwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there are almost 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries from back-over accidents on average per year. Small children and elders are the most at risk of these types of accidents because they often don't appear in a vehicle's blind spot and go undetected when a driver is attempting to drive in reverse.

A year later, rear-view camera regulations have made the headlines again. Bloomberg Businessweek reports the NHTSA had intended to announce a final rule by the end of the year on the standard installation of back-up cameras in passenger vehicles by 2014, but the government is receiving some flack and accusations of over-regulating from the automobile industry. It is estimated that the rear-view cameras could save as many as 146 lives a year but would cost automakers approximately $2.7 billion to install in 16 million vehicles annually. By their calculations, this works out to roughly $18.5 million per life saved.

One argument that industry leaders are making is the camera is not a "one size fits all" remedy. Meaning smaller cars have different expanded views than SUVs or pickup trucks and the height of a driver can also make a difference in determining a vehicle's blind spot. For example, an SUV can have a blind spot of almost 20 feet compared to a small coupe that sits low to the ground and may only present a 4-foot blind spot.

One thing motorists can do to reduce the risk of a back-over accident is to keep a watchful eye before backing out of crowded lots or driveways. The last thing you should do before getting in your vehicle is walk all the way around your vehicle to make sure there are no obstacles. Check the area around the rear of the vehicle to make sure no one is approaching or children aren't present. Once you start your engine, turn your head to look for passers-by and then slowly move the vehicle in reverse once you feel the coast is clear.

AAA Exchange reminds parents to teach their kids that driveways are not a playground. Parents should also keep children close in crowded parking lots by pushing them in a cart or holding their hand to reduce the risk of a back-over accident.

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