Deaths among youngest drivers surge in first half of 2012

By Arthur Elk

I’m a parent of four and I remember well those years when my children were first learning how to drive. Driving is such a huge responsibility and can be such a dangerous thing to learn how to do. As a parent, I was very concerned about my children when they were 16 or 17 and driving or riding with their teen-age friends.

A new report shows that deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers increased in the first half of 2012, a sobering reminder for all parents of teen-age drivers.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, deaths of teen drivers jumped 19% in the first six months of last year, more than double the percentage increase for overall traffic deaths.

There were 240 highway fatalities of 16- and 17-year-old drivers through the first half of 2012, up from 202 for the same period a year earlier. Overall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projects that all traffic deaths were up 8% for the period.

If the numbers hold true for the second half of 2012, it would mark the second straight year of increases in deaths of teen drivers. In 2011, road deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers rose 3%, ending eight straight years of declines.

Allan Williams, a safety consultant who compiled the GHSA report, says the spike in teen fatalities is likely caused by the improving economy and the leveling off of safety benefits from graduated driver licensing programs.

While those may both be factors, I also believe that distracted driving, caused by texting or using mobile devices, is also a major factor in the increase. It is too easy for a young driver to send a quick text to a friend or try to look something up on their smartphone. For an inexperienced, young driver, those seconds of distraction can easily prove deadly.

If you are the parent of a teen driver, continue to emphasize the importance of not texting and driving and encourage your young driver to keep their eyes on the road, not on their smartphone or their friends. Communication is the key to making sure they know that texting and driving is illegal and dangerous.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Please visit our website for information on how we can help.

Arthur Elk: Counterfeit drugs are dangerous problem, even in our country

By Arthur Elk

Most of us have probably filled a prescription in the past year, whether it is medicine for a chronic health problem or antibiotics to treat an illness. More than 4 billion prescriptions are filled in the United States each year. We all trust that the medicines we buy contain the ingredients they are supposed to and will not cause us any harm. However, even with all the governmental oversight and control over the pharmaceutical industry in our country, there are still millions of fake prescriptions handed out each year, especially from online pharmacies.

According to estimates from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, 1 to 2 percent of drugs sold in the U.S. are counterfeit. That means that 4 million prescriptions are given out each year that contain no active ingredient, an insufficient amount of active ingredients or they contain useless or even toxic fillers.

The NABP says the most common way that people receive counterfeit drugs in the U.S. is by ordering from rogue Internet drug sites. This is because it is easier for unscrupulous people to get around the regulatory safeguards that brick and mortar pharmacies must follow. It is very rare for counterfeit drugs to be purchased from legitimate brick and mortar pharmacies.

In 2009, a FDA crackdown on unauthorized online pharmacies led to authorities seizing more than 800 packages of prescriptions including Viagra, Vicodin and antihistamines. Some of these pills had three times the level of active ingredients they were supposed to have, while others had none. They found fillers including drywall, antifreeze and yellow highway line paint.

Drugs that are most likely to be counterfeited in the U.S. are costly, high-demand prescriptions such as products for erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, hypertension, cancer and psychiatric conditions.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy offers some red flags for consumers concerned that they may have counterfeit drugs:

  •  Packaging that appears to have been opened
  • Labels that don’t match those seen in the past
  •  Medicines that are cracked or chipped
  • Medicines that have a different color or shape than you are used to
  • A medicine with a different taste or texture
  • Side effects that you have not experience before or that are not mentioned on warning labels.

If you think you have a fake drug, please contact the FDA’s Medwatch program at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm or 1-800-332-1088. You also can contact your state pharmacy board, the manufacturer or the pharmacist who dispensed the drug.

I am outraged that millions of prescriptions are sold each year in our country that contain the wrong ingredients – ingredients that may kill or injure an innocent person. More must be done to protect us from counterfeit drugs. The Institute of Medicine issued a report earlier this month that called for a national drug-tracking system. In its report, the institute urged the use of technology such as barcodes or electronic tags to weed out fake packaging or altered pills. The report also called for states to tighten regulation of drug wholesalers and distributors, tighter controls on Internet pharmacies, and the implantation of World Health Organization guidelines for product safety. All of these would be positive steps toward keeping us all safe from counterfeit drugs.

If you or a loved one has had side effects as the result of a counterfeit drug, you need an experienced drug injury attorney. Please visit our website to see how we can help.

Failure to Yield accidents 2nd leading cause of fatal crashes in Ohio

yieldBy Arthur Elk

I was not surprised to hear that excessive speed is the leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Ohio. It also didn’t surprise me to read what the second leading cause of fatal accidents is: Failure to Yield violations. In 2012, motorists running red lights, stop signs or failing to yield to traffic caused 37,475 crashes in Ohio. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, these accidents killed 187 people and injured another 23,353.

The Highway Patrol is making a concerted effort to crack down on these violations. In 2012, troopers wrote 22,025 citations for Failure to Yield, a 3 percent increase from 2011. About one-fourth of the citations were issued after an accident.

It should be no surprise that the largest number of Failure to Yield accidents took place in counties with major metropolitan areas. Franklin County had the most crashes (5,430) with Cuyahoga County coming in second place (3,335).

Young drivers, ages 16-25, were at-fault in nearly one-third (30 percent) of these crashes. That is nearly double the rate of those aged 26-35 (16 percent). Parents need to remind young people often to pay attention when behind the wheel. There are too many things that can distract them and cause them to run a red light or a stop sign. Drivers of all ages need to put away their cell phones and focus on the road and the other vehicles around them.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol offers these tips to avoid failure to yield crashes:

  • Slow down and take your time
  • Look both ways before entering an intersection
  • Signal every turn and lane change
  • Make a complete stop at stop lights and stop signs
  • Yield to other drivers and be courteous

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Please check out our website.

Arthur Elk: More must be done to protect people from dangerous products

By Arthur Elk

As a personal injury attorney, I have seen far too many cases of dangerous products injuring or even killing innocent people. Whether it is a vehicle with a dangerous malfunction or a child’s toy that proves to be a strangulation risk or food contaminated by salmonella, there are hundreds of products recalled every year.

With the wealth of information available at our fingertips and tighter government regulations, are we really any safer from dangerous products than we were in the past? Two reports issued this week show some progress is being made in making children’s products safer while food recalls are on the rise.

Kids in Danger’s annual report found that while the number of child product recalls dropped to 97 in 2012, the numbers of incidents (up 49%), injuries (up 42%) and deaths (up 200%) associated with those products rose dramatically from 2011. Eight children and one adult were killed before these products were recalled.

One product, the Flexible Flyer Swing Set, had an amazing 1,232 reported incidents before consumers were alerted to the dangers through the recall.

While the number of child product recalls dropped in 2012, food recalls reached a four-year quarterly high for the fourth quarter of 2012 with 552 recalls. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approximately six food recalls were documented every day during the fourth quarter, affecting 18.4 million products. This was an increase of 33 percent from the third quarter of 2012.

Experts pointed to the peanut butter recall as a major factor for the increase. According to the FDA, 165 of the recalls were related to the salmonella outbreak at Sunland Inc.

More must be done to ensure recalls are done in a timely manner, before innocent people die. It amazes me to see the things that companies will do to make money at the expense of their customers. There is no reason more than 1,000 incidents should be reported on one product before someone issues a recall. I want to see manufacturers step up and take products off the shelves when they are shown to be dangerous. And if they don’t, someone must hold them accountable.

If you need help with a product injury case, find out how we can help you.

Quick settlement helps client pay medical bills and realize her dream

feb_article3At Elk & Elk, we are focused on getting our clients and their families the maximum compensation they deserve. Sometimes a client has plans and dreams that go far beyond simple financial numbers. Elk & Elk attorney Gary Cowan recently was able to help his client pay her medical bills and make her dreams come true.

On June 8, 2011, Bessie DeVinney, 88, had attended her dialysis appointment and was being picked up by a taxi from Columbus Green Cabs. The driver of the taxi forcefully stepped on the accelerator as Mrs. DeVinney was attempting to sit down in the back seat. The driver lost control of the taxi and hopped over multiple curbs before coming to a stop in the parking lot of a nearby WalMart.

Mrs. DeVinney suffered multiple fractures including her ankle, nasal and compression fractures of two vertebrae. She spent five days in the hospital, before being transferred to a rehab unit, where she spent more than two weeks.

After nearly a year of no response from Columbus Green Cabs, Cowan filed suit against the company in May 2012 and the case went to mediation in September 2012. During a break in the mediation talks, Mrs. DeVinney told Cowan that all she wanted was to get enough money to pay her mounting medical bills from her hospital stay and rehabilitation and take her whole family on a trip to Niagara Falls. However, she was worried that the case would drag on so long that she would not live long enough to receive the money and take her family on the trip.

Cowan was able to get the company to agree to settle the case and Mrs. DeVinney received her money in October. She was able to pay all her medical bills and have enough left for her dream trip. She told Gary that she is planning on taking her trip in April. Mrs. DeVinney was very appreciative of all the hard work Gary and his team put in to helping her get the settlement she deserved in a timely manner.

At Elk & Elk, we believe strongly in getting our clients the results they deserve. We work hard to help our clients receive the compensation they need to pay their medical bills and get their lives back on track after a life-changing injury.  If you or a loved one has been injured, we will use our extensive resources and nearly 50 years of experience to help you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form and find out how we can help you.

Should you stay home if you have the flu?

feb_article2Are you hesitant to call in sick, even when you are seriously ill? Do you worry that you should go in to work even if your body is telling you to stay in bed?

Many of us may feel that we have to go to work, even on days we really shouldn’t. But experts say you should stay home if you can when you are sick — especially when you have the flu — or else you may end up being Patient zero – the first person to get sick and start spreading it through the office. All it takes is one infected person to go to work and before you know it, the whole office can end up sick with the flu.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with the flu can spread it to from about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets then can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Also, a person might get infected by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose; this is a less common form of transmission.

Do you have the flu?

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  •  fatigue
  • sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

Should you go to work?

Experts say that whether you have the flu or some other illness, you should consider the following questions when deciding if you should go to work or stay home:

  •  How well can you carry out your work duties? If you’re feeling quite sick, you’re going to have a hard time functioning and performing at your normal level.
  • Are you contagious? If you have a viral or bacterial illness, you’ll expose your coworkers and they, in turn, will infect others. Staying home when you’re sick helps to curb germs in the community.
  • Will resting at home help your body to overcome the illness? Doctors say they often see a lot of symptoms worsening because people will not just stop and rest. What you need to understand, experts say, is that they’re pushing themselves to the point where they’re actually a lot sicker at the end of two to four days than they would have been if they had just taken that first day off and let their body fight the infection.
  • Are you taking medications that could impair your ability to think, work, operate machinery, or drive? If you’re so sick that you’re using opiates or any controlled substance to manage pain, you really need to stay home and you shouldn’t be driving. Your performance will be impaired and you will be a danger to yourself and others.

If you have the flu, you may be able to infect others before symptoms even begin to develop and up to 5 to 7 days after you become sick. It also is possible to not have any symptoms and carry the flu virus, but still be able to pass it on to others.

Staying healthy

Beyond getting a flu shot, experts say the best way to keep from getting sick are to:

  • Frequently wash your hands
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid crowds whenever possible during flu season
  • Know the symptoms of the flu so you can get treatment quickly

The worst of the flu season appears to be over, according to health officials, but it is still important to be aware of the symptoms and to get to your doctor if needed. And if you have the flu, please stay home, for your own and others’ well-being.  Treat others as you would like to be treated. Think about if you would like it if someone came to work and coughed on you all day, possibly spreading germs to you.

Do you know the signs of a heart attack?

feb-article1February is a month where we celebrate love by giving our heart to someone on Valentine’s Day. But it also is a month where we raise awareness of how to keep that heart healthy.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. That’s one reason why every year, February is designated as National Heart Month.

Annually, about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 15 percent of people who suffer from one will die from it.

Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack is key to preventing death, but many people don’t.

In a 2005 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 92 percent of respondents recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Unfortunately, only 27 percent were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 911 when someone was having a heart attack.

About 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs.

Heart attacks have several major warning signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.

If you think that you or someone you love is having a heart attack, you need to call 911 immediately. A person’s chance of surviving a heart attack increases greatly if emergency treatment is administered as soon as possible.

Who is at risk?

High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

How can you protect yourself?

Lowering you blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce your risk of dying of heart disease. Here are some tips to protect your heart:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt; low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Take a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible.

Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack and following experts’ advice to reduce your risk of heart disease are great ways to stay heart healthy. Make sure your loved ones are informed as well. They’ll thank you for it.

Falling TVs pose a danger to young children

By Arthur Elk

With tax season upon us, you may be considering using part of your tax refund to buy a new TV for your family. If you do, what are you doing with your old one? Putting it in one of your children’s bedrooms? Most of us would never consider a TV as a danger. But for parents with young children, TVs or any other piece of large furniture can become deadly and one watchdog group is reminding parents about the danger.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging parents to anchor and stabilize their TVs, furniture and appliances to avoid tip-over related accidents.

A new CPSC report issued in December shows that falling TV sets have killed more than 200 children since 2000. In 2011 alone, 29 people – mostly children – were killed by falling TVs in the USA and another 18,000 people are treated for injuries from falling TVs. According to Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, every three weeks a child dies from a tipped-over TV.

According to the CPSC report, TVs aren’t the only dangerous household item:

  • More than 43,000 people are hurt each year as the result of TVs or furniture tipping over, with more than 25,000 of those hurt being children.
  • Between 2000 and 2011, 349 people were killed when TVs, furniture or appliances toppled over onto them; 84 percent of them were children younger than age 9.
  •  Falling TVs caused 62 percent of the 349 deaths, making it the most dangerous piece of furniture.
  • In 2011, 41 fatalities were recorded, an increase from 31 in 2010 and 27 in 2009.

Why is this becoming such a serious issue? Experts say as families buy newer, thinner, lighter televisions for their family rooms or living rooms, the older, heavier TVs are being relegated to children’s bedrooms or basements where they may not be as secure, sitting on a dresser or other large piece of furniture.

According to a survey conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide in September, 3 percent of parents had secured traditional cathode ray tube TVs to walls and furniture, just 5 percent had secured flat-screen sets to furniture and 28 percent had attached them to walls, which experts say is the safest choice. But if you can’t anchor your TV to the wall, experts suggest you place your TV on a low, sturdy base and remove any items from the top of the TV such as remotes that might attract children.

Many of the children who are injured or killed in these accidents as the result of playing near a TV or furniture, or because they are climbing on the furniture. The personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk want you and your family to be safe, which is why we urge anyone with children in their home to make sure that TVs and large pieces of furniture are secure.

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Ohio personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk today at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or by filling out our online consultation form.