2013 Ohio Car Crash Statistics

Ohio Fatal Crashes 2013
Ohio Fatal Crashes 2013

by Arthur Elk

A car accident lawyer can help you if you’ve been injured in an auto-related collision, but the best way to protect yourself is to do all that you can to prevent an accident on the road. The state of Ohio has seen an overall increase in the number of enforcement stops in the past five years. This is done in an attempt to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

Despite more traffic stops, the number of crashes that were investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol increased from 60,045 in 2012 to 62,093 in 2013. Stops for driving under suspension as well as seat belt enforcements also went up. This is likely a result of more aggressive measure taken by police officers. The increased police presence may have helped convince some drivers not to drink and drive, as state troopers made fewer OVI enforcement stops this year.

Being a more alert and responsible driver can help keep you safe. Even when you’re not the one at fault, you can possibly prevent an accident from becoming life threatening. Keeping a safe distance from those driving haphazardly and refraining from distracted driving could enable you to swerve and avoid a collision. If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto collision, no matter who was at fault, it’s best to consult with a car accident attorney who can help protect your rights.

 

Source:

Ohio State Highway Patrol StatisticsOHSP, accessed: December 31, 2013.

‘Move Over Law’ Expanded to Protect Workers

New law protects workers.Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law on December 19 to protect Ohio road crews. Introduced by Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), Senate Bill 137 updates the current “Move Over Law” to include highway construction vehicles.

All motorists are now required to slow down and, if possible, move to an adjacent lane when approaching construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles that are parked on the roadside with flashing, oscillating or rotating lights.

The law previously required motorists to slow down or move over only when approaching police and other emergency vehicles.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, since 2008, more than 600 collisions occurred between the travelling public and ODOT vehicles and equipment.

A cornerstone of ODOT’s mission is the safety of all who drive on or work on Ohio’s roads. The expanded Move Over Law is a critical step to improving the safety of our workers, who risk their lives and well-being every day to care for the excellent transportation system the citizens of Ohio have come to expect.
– Jerry Wray, ODOT Director

Although the bill took effect immediately, there will be a 90-day grace period during which violators will receive warnings rather than citations. After March 19, 2014, drivers can be cited with a minor misdemeanor. Penalties will be increased if the driver has had multiple infractions in the last year.

The bill amends sections 4511.01, 4511.04, 4511.213, and 4513.17 of the Ohio Revised Code.
To see a complete copy of the legislation, click here.

Move Over Law (as amended)

Sec. 4511.01(QQQ) “Highway maintenance vehicle” means a vehicle used in snow and ice removal or road surface maintenance, including a snow plow, traffic line striper, road sweeper, mowing machine, asphalt distributing vehicle, or other such vehicle designed for use in specific highway maintenance activities.”

Sec. 4511.213 – Approaching stationary public safety vehicle displaying emergency light.

(A) The driver of a motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle that is displaying the appropriate visual signals by means of flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights, as prescribed in section 4513.17 of the Revised Code, shall do either of the following:

(1) If the driver of the motor vehicle is traveling on a highway that consists of at least two lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver’s motor vehicle, the driver shall proceed with due caution and, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, shall change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to that of the stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle.

(2) If the driver is not traveling on a highway of a type described in division (A)(1) of this section, or if the driver is traveling on a highway of that type but it is not possible to change lanes or if to do so would be unsafe, the driver shall proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for the road, weather, and traffic conditions.

(B) This section does not relieve the driver of a public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and property upon the highway.

(C)  No person shall fail to drive a motor vehicle in compliance with division (A)(1) or (2) of this section when so required by division (A) of this section.

(D)       (1) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(2) Notwithstanding section 2929.28 of the Revised Code, upon a finding that a person operated a motor vehicle in violation of division (C) of this section, the court, in addition to all other penalties provided by law, shall impose a fine of two times the usual amount imposed for the violation.

(2013 Ohio SB 137, 1)

 

Source:

‘Move over’ law aims to boost safety of Ohio road crewsAP/Columbus Dispatch, December 30, 2013.

Visitors Can Help Uncover Elder Abuse

Portrait of Worried Senior Couple

This time of year, many groups launch campaigns to encourage the public to visit nursing homes. We think it’s a great idea, but not just during the holidays. Nursing home residents benefit from regular visits all year long – and you may too.

Did you know?

  • 50% of people living in long term care facilities have no family
  • 60% get no visitors
  • As many as five million seniors are abused or neglected each year in the United States
  • One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities*

While visits cannot guarantee nursing home residents will not be abused or neglected, regular visitors may notice important signs of abuse.

Signs of elder abuse

Elder abuse can affect men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, regardless of social status.  Whether they live in their own home or reside in a long-term facility, seniors may be victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. They may also suffer from neglect, abandonment, or even financial exploitation.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one sign does not necessarily mean abuse or neglect is occurring, but watch for indicators that there could be a problem, such as:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses or caregivers are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

It is important to remain alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality, behavior, or physical condition, you should start to question what is going on.

For more information, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website or contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

 

*National Research Council. (2003) Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Mismanagement of Birth Leads to Cerebral Palsy

Attorney Jay Kelley recalls one traumatic case in which twins were born to thrilled parents. One infant was born healthy, but the other suffers from a lifelong medical condition due to the negligence of hospital staff.

 

For many, one of the happiest times in our adult lives is the day our child is born. Bringing a new life into the world should be a joyous and miraculous occasion. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

While there have been many medical advances to protect both mother and child, each birth presents its own unique challenges that require competent care.

For example, medical professionals frequently use monitoring equipment during the delivery. Fetal monitoring strips show the fetal heart rate and the mother’s contractions. Prompt action in the event of fetal distress can reduce the risk of serious medical conditions and infant deaths; but what happens when the equipment used to help save babies’ lives is not monitored properly?

The results of a mismanaged birth can be devastating. Babies who are not tragically lost at birth are often born with debilitating conditions such as cerebral palsy and brachial plexus injuries. In some instances, these types of serious medical injuries may indicate negligence by your doctor or nursing staff during delivery.

Early signs of cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy (another birth injury) are seizures, spastic or tight muscles, limp arms, difficulty controlling the head and the inability for the baby to sit up, crawl and walk at the correct milestone time of their infancy. Children who suffer these injuries can incur a lifetime of medical costs including doctor visits, hospital stays, and other medical treatments. Your family should not be forced to handle the burden of these injuries due to the negligence of others. In cases of malpractice, you deserve to be fully compensated for not only the injury during birth, but also the future costs of the harm done to your child.

To learn more about birth injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Jay Kelley

Online Law School

Online Law SchoolWould you hire an attorney who received his or her law degree online? While the American Bar Association (ABA) has not accredited any law schools offering a 100 percent online learning experience, some schools have started to embrace online learning.

Currently, ABA standards state that no more than one-third of an accredited law school’s curriculum can take place outside of the traditional classroom setting. However, the organization recently granted a variance to William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved the school’s plan to offer a 50-50 hybrid curriculum, scheduled to begin in 2015.

“Our research demonstrates that when implemented thoughtfully, courses blending face-to-face and online instruction offer students the best of both worlds,” Eric Janus, President and Dean of the William Mitchell College of Law said in a prepared statement.

Janus was quick to point out that the program was not an “online degree” but that it would offer more opportunities to rural students and those with families. “This is going to allow us to [reach students] in ways that were never possible in a traditional sort of program,” he said.

With law school enrollment down 11 percent in 2013 and plummeting 24 percent since the all-time high in 2010, many schools are scrambling to accommodate prospective students. However, the convenience of online learning may not be enough. With soaring tuition rates and fewer lucrative employment opportunities, many recent college grads are choosing a different career path.

It will be interesting to see if other schools follow suit. Online courses could conceivably reduce a school’s costs, but no word yet if that will translate into lower tuition rates.

 

Sources:

“William Mitchell law school first to offer ABA-approved online degrees” by Maura Lerner, Star Tribune, December 17, 2013

Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs are Cut” by Ethan Bronner, The New York Times, January 30, 2013

Glaxo to End Some Payments to Doctors

In a surprising announcement, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline revealed they will soon put an end to a common industry practice of paying doctors and other health professionals to promote their drugs. The company said it will stop paying doctors to endorse its products at speaking engagements and no longer base the pay of sales representatives on how many prescriptions are written.

A fistfull of twentiesWhile some may applaud their efforts, it does appear somewhat suspect in light of the recent bribery charges levied by the Chinese government claiming Glaxo bribed doctors and government officials in order to boost sales. The move also comes just prior to the implementation of legislation, which requires such payments to be made available to the public under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.)

Also known as Open Payments, the Act was created to provide greater transparency around the financial relationships of manufacturers, physicians, and teaching hospitals. It requires the following information to be submitted annually to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

  • Payments or other transfers of value by manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies to physicians and teaching hospitals
  • Certain ownership or investment interests held by physicians or their immediate family members
  • Payments or other transfers of value made to physician owners or investors by certain group purchasing organizations
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will collect data, aggregate it, and publish it on a public website.

For patients, Glaxo’s decision is a step in the right direction, but conflicts of interest remain. The New York Times reports that Glaxo will “continue to provide what the company described in a statement as ‘unsolicited, independent educational grants’ to continue educating doctors about their products.” Doctors will also continue to receive consulting fees from Glaxo for market research.

So, is this move part of a new, socially responsible corporate culture for Glaxo, or just an effort to stop the bleeding? It’s hard to tell. Bloomberg Newsweek reporter Diane Brady seems to share our skepticism:

It’s hard to look like an innovator when your company has paid a $3 billion fine in the U.S. and is accused of paying another half-billion dollars in bribes to China.

In a perfect world, doctors would prescribe medications to their patients based on unbiased, independent research weighing the risks and benefits for each individual. Hospitals and medical professionals would not receive kick-backs or be subjected high-pressure sales pitches promoting off-label use by pharmaceutical representatives and Big Pharma would not inundate the public with direct-to-consumer advertisements.

Sadly, we don’t live in that world (at least not yet) and sometimes baby steps are better than no steps at all.

 

Sources:

Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs” by Katie Thomas, The New York Times, December 16, 2013.

Is GlaxoSmithKline Playing Defense—or the Opposite?” by Diane Brady, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 18, 2013.

Why Attorneys Shy Away from Slip and Fall Accident Cases

Ohio attorney David Elk discusses why slip and fall accident victims
can have a hard time finding an attorney to handle their claim.

There are many different types of personal injury cases such as car accidents, slip and falls, wrongful death and medical malpractice incidents.

Any experienced attorney will be happy to help you with most personal injury cases, yet some of them shy away from slip and fall cases. Why?

A person who slips and falls – whether in a store or a restaurant – can suffer very serious and permanent injuries. Yet, lawyers tend to stay away from these cases because they are difficult to prove.

With a slip and fall or other premises liability claim, you must prove one of three things:

  • The property owner on an employee should have known about the dangerous condition.
  • The property owner or an employee had prior knowledge of the dangerous condition but did not take steps to correct it.
  • The property owner or an employee caused the dangerous condition.

These cases are hard fought and difficult to prove. They frequently cost more money and take more time to prepare than other cases. Additionally, many people view slip and fall cases as frivolous, which can have a negative impact on a jury. It takes a highly experienced lawyer and expert testimony to build a successful case, but at Elk & Elk, we’re committed to defending all of our personal injury clients no matter how they were injured.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

David J. Elk

Judge Fines Pradaxa Drugmaker $1M over Missing Files

German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim has been fined $931,000 in federal court for withholding or failing to preserve documents sought by plaintiffs in hundreds of Pradaxa lawsuits.

According to court documents, Boehringer failed to preserve or produce files belonging to a high-level scientist, sales representatives, consultants and others. The drugmaker also failed to provide access to documents on their computer network and allowed text messages to be deleted.

U.S. District Judge David Herndon, overseeing the multidistrict litigation, called the wrongs “egregious in the eyes of the Court.” In his scathing 51-page decision, Herndon ruled that Boehringer executives acted “in bad faith,” calling their defenses unbelievable and “nonsense.”

This was not the first time Boehringer has been sanctioned for failure to comply with a court order during the trial. In his September 18, 2013 decision, Judge Herndon imposed a $29,540.00 fine  – one he thought would remedy the discovery abuses and prevent them from occurring in the future.

The judge’s patience had obviously worn thin as he imposed the nearly $1 million in additional fines on Monday, “Once again, the defendants do not get to choose which evidence they want to produce and from which sources.”

About Pradaxa

The FDA approved the anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran) in 2010 for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Just one year later, there were 3,781 reports of serious adverse events, including 542 patient deaths. According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Pradaxa surpassed all other regularly monitored drugs in reports of hemorrhage (2,367 cases), acute renal failure (291), and stroke (644). It was also suspect in 15 cases of liver failure.

Court records indicate more than 1,700 lawsuits have been filed in the Southern District of Illinois on behalf of alleged victims of Pradaxa bleeding. Boehringer Ingelheim is accused of concealing knowledge about the drug’s risks. Plaintiffs also allege that the company failed to provide adequate warnings regarding the lack of an effective antidote for Pradaxa bleeding.

The case is titled In re Pradaxa Products Liability Litigation, 12-MD-02385-DRH-SCW, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis). The first bellwether trial in the Pradaxa Multi District Litigation is currently scheduled for August 2014.

 

Source:

“Boehringer to Pay $931,000 Fine Over Lost Pradaxa Files” by Jef Feeley and Phil Milford, Bloomberg News, December 10, 2013.

Arthur Elk: Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

By Arthur Elk

The highways are filled with semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. Because of their large size and tremendous weight, semi-trucks are more prone to accidents than small passenger vehicles. As a car accident lawyer, I see cases like this all the time. When they occur, there is a huge risk of injury. Ironically, truck drivers seem to be better protected due to their sheer bulk and surrounding metal. But when semi-trucks collide with smaller cars, serious injuries and even death are likely to occur.

The most common causes of trucking accidents are as follows:

  • Drug use
  • Blind spots
  • Distractions
  • Speeding
  • Road rage
  • Driver fatigue
  • Illegal driving maneuver
  • Driver unfamiliar with area

Careless driving of passenger vehicles can also trigger an accident. Trucks need a lot more room to slow down, stop, and turn. It’s important to keep this in mind when traveling. Also remember that their visibility is limited due to blind spots.

Most trucking accidents involve front or rear-end collisions, lane change collisions, jackknifing, or loss of control. If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, it’s vital to seek the help of a qualified car accident attorney who can help determine fault, take action, and protect your rights in order to seek compensation.

Headaches and Personality Changes Signs of Serious Brain Injury

 Ohio attorney Art Elk wants you to keep an eye out for your relatives or loved ones who have recently
been in a car accident and are showing signs of modified behavior.

 

After an automobile accident, you may feel a variety of different aches and pains. Upon examination at a hospital, you may be relieved to learn that you are being released with no serious injuries diagnosed.

However, you may still be at risk for a stealthy condition that can elude diagnosis. If you’ve hit your head in any way during the accident, you may be in danger of a serious brain injury.

A traumatic brain injury can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including headaches, vomiting, blurred vision, ringing in the ears and even a change in personality. Brain trauma can be caused by a direct blow to the head or even by the sudden acceleration of the skull, which can cause permanent brain damage.

Personality changes are often overlooked, as doctors may not be aware of how you normally behave and therefore, have no basis to determine if you have changed. But you notice it. Co-workers, family, and friends notice it. Although something has indeed changed, no evidence of personality change appears in conventional tests such as MRIs and CT scans. Nevertheless, this can be a very serious and debilitating condition and should be addressed right away.

You should speak to an experienced attorney who understands traumatic brain injury and how to evaluate your case. Brain injuries can result in lifelong medical needs. In cases of negligence, you and your family deserve to receive compensation from the responsible party.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above, read this blog and to explore our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.