Friends don’t let friends text and drive

By Arthur Elk

Often, when we talk about peer pressure, it is in a negative light. But peer pressure can have a positive spin, too.

In the battle to get teens to stop texting and driving, it appears that peer pressure may be the greatest weapon. According to a new national survey conducted by tire manufacturer Bridgestone America, it is becoming less socially acceptable to take risks while behind the wheel.

The nationwide survey polled more than 2,000 drivers ages 16-21 and found that teens are less likely to text, check email, watch videos or post to social media sites when their friends are in the car. Results of the survey showed that:

  • 95 percent of teens read texts and emails when on the road alone, 32 percent do so with friends, and only 7 percent when they are driving with their parents.
  • More than 90 percent said they post on social media sites when they are driving alone, 29 percent do so with friends and only 5 percent with parents.
  • 75 percent admit to watching a video when alone in the car, 45 percent do so with friends and only 7 percent with their parents.

The survey also found that most young drivers think their friends are more likely to take part in risky behavior than they are. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed believe their friends text and email while driving, but only 37 percent of those surveyed admit to doing that. Only 9 percent admitted to using social media, but they believe that 29 percent of their friends do so.

It is so important that young people understand the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is responsible for more than 11 percent of all U.S. highway fatalities. A report issued in February by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers grew 19 percent during the first half of last year – a far greater increase than for the general population. Experts believe that distracted driving played a large role in that increase.

At Elk & Elk, we are strong supporters of educating young people about the dangers of distracted driving. As parents, we cannot stress enough the importance of safe driving, no matter who is in the car. Your life can change forever, in a moment.


Doctors routinely prescribing risky meds to older patients

Senior citizens, are you taking of the 110 drugs doctors say you should avoid? A new report shows that doctors in the U.S. are too frequently prescribing potentially harmful drugs to older patients.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that one out of every five senior citizens receiving Medicare were prescribed medications that health officials have advised doctors to avoid giving to older patients because of the extremely high risk of severe adverse side effects.

Take a look at the Harvard Pilgrim Health cares list of 110 drugs for the elderly to avoid. Many of the drugs on the list are widely used, especially in younger patients, but their risks are much greater for the elderly. Some of the drugs on the list include:

  • Antihistamines such as Ephedrine, Diphenhydramine and Hydroxyzine
  • Amphetamines like Adderall, Dexedrine and Desoxyn
  • Barbituates such as Amytal, Mephobarbital and Phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Librium and Limbitrol
  • Skeletal muscle relaxants such as Soma, Paraflex and Norflex
  • Oral estrogen
  • Narcotics like Meperidine, Pentazocine and Propoxyphene
  • Vasodilators, such as Ergot mesyloid and Isoxsuprine

The researchers examined data from more than 6 million Medicare patients across the country. They found that about 1.3 million had been prescribed at least one high-risk drug, even though many of them have safer substitutes. Nearly 5 percent of the seniors had been prescribed more than one of these risky drugs at the same time.

This issue, along with elder abuse and nursing home malpractice, are serious concerns for senior citizens and their families.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse or if you have questions regarding prescriptions for senior citizens, you need an experienced elder abuse attorney fighting for you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.


Ohio Drug Recall Attorneys: Bayer reaches $24 million settlement in claims of gallbladder injuries from Yaz, Yasmin

The contraceptive drugs Yasmin and Yaz have been associated with a number of serious, potentially fatal side effects. These include heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, gallbladder issues and stroke. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Bayer, the manufacturer of the contraceptives.

Last month, Bayer agreed to pay $24 million to settle lawsuits involving plaintiffs who alleged that Yaz and Yasmin caused them to develop gallbladder disease. Patients who had their gallbladders removed will receive the maximum amount. Plaintiffs who suffered other gallbladder injuries may receive up to $2,000.

Bayer admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

“This is another example of big business putting their own interests above those of their customers—the innocent people who are taking their drugs believing the products are safe. These companies must be held responsible and this settlement is a small measure of justice for those who have been injured,” said Elk & Elk Partner Jay M. Kelley.

This settlement does not affect the thousands of lawsuits filed by women claiming the contraceptives caused blood clots. Those cases have been consolidated to a special court in Illinois.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of more than 50 deaths of women who used Yaz and Yasmin between 2004-2008.

Elk & Elk is representing a substantial number of clients who have suffered serious side effects after taking Yaz or Yasmin.

The drug recall attorneys of Elk & Elk have nearly five decades of experience fighting for the rights of drug injury victims. If you or a loved one were injured as the result of taking Yaz or Yasmin, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.

Government sets guidelines to minimize in-vehicle distractions

Earlier this week, a study was released that found that hands-free texting was just as dangerous as manual texting. Now the federal government is taking more steps to crack down on distracted drivers.

It’s easy to get distracted by all the devices in our vehicles. Your GPS is talking to you. You have to change the song on your stereo. Your smartphone is chirping at you every time you get a new social media notification. But all these devices can be deadly because they take your attention off the road, where it needs to be.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued distraction guidelines that ask carmakers to put stronger limits on how long drivers can use in-car electronic devices, including entertainment and navigation devices.

The guidelines include recommendations to limit the amount of time it takes a driver to perform a single function on the car’s audio/visual systems to two seconds.

The guidelines recommend that in-car electronic devices automatically have certain functions disabled unless the vehicle is in park, including:

  • Manual text entry for the purpose of text messaging and Internet browsing
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video calling
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages or social media content

The guidelines would be phased in over the next three years, giving carmakers time to rework their electronic navigation and entertainment systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research has discovered that the visual-manual tasks increase the risk of being in an accident by three times. This includes the cell phone, but also factory-installed navigation systems and other screens. The cell phone is still the most dangerous screen, requiring 23.3 seconds to send a text message.

The NHTSA study also found that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk by 173 percent. Hands-free kits do not prevent distracted driving either, because they require a manual-visual interaction at least 50 percent of the time.

These new suggested guidelines from the NHTSA are a great step. However, in the end, it all comes down to personal responsibility. Each individual driver must make the choice to be a safe driver and to not let themselves be distracted by the electronic devices in their vehicles.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you need an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free online consultation form.

Arthur Elk: ‘Never events’ should never happen

By Arthur Elk

In the new Will Smith movie “After Earth,” we see a picture of what the Earth might look like 1,000 years in the future.

While it’s fun to imagine what the future might be like, at Elk & Elk, we are here right now to help our clients get their lives back on track after serious medical malpractice mistakes occur.

A recent study by John Hopkins estimated that 4,044 surgical “never events” occur each year.  “Never events,” named because they should never happen, include: wrong-site, wrong-patient, or wrong-procedure surgeries, as well as leaving objects inside a patient.

Using the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), researchers found that 39 times a week a foreign object, like a sponge or towel, is left in a patient; 20 times a week a surgeon operates on the wrong area of a patient’s body; and 20 times a week surgeons perform the wrong surgical procedure on their patients.

The Johns Hopkins study in the online journal Surgery looked at twenty years of data and found 80,000 occurrences of never events, for which 9,744 medical malpractice claims were filed, resulting in $1.3 billion in judgments and settlements. Of those cases, 6.6 percent of the patients died, 32.9 percent suffered permanent injury, and 59.2 percent suffered temporary injury.

Although there are already many safeguards in place intended to keep never events from occurring, the statistics show that more must still be done. There is no excuse for a doctor operating on the wrong limb, on the wrong patient or performing the wrong procedure. These events can cause serious, sometimes fatal, consequences to the innocent victims.

We may not know what the Earth will look like 1,000 years from now, but we definitely know how serious never events are. If you believe you or a loved  one are the victim of medical malpractice, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form and find out how we can help you.


Medical Malpractice: Diagnostic errors most common, dangerous

Did you know that an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Americans die each year from missed medical diagnoses? A new study has found that diagnostic errors are the main source of successful malpractice claims and are the most common, most costly and most dangerous of medical mistakes.

Incorrect, missed or delayed diagnoses accounted for 29 percent of successful malpractice claims, according to the study. They also accounted for 35 percent of the total amount of money paid out and caused 39 percent of malpractice-related deaths.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looked at approximately 350,000 malpractice allegations from 1986 to 2010 in which payments were made. The allegations were assigned to one of several groups. The leading categories, besides diagnostic errors, included treatment errors (27 percent), surgical mishaps (24 percent), obstetrical problems (7 percent), medication errors (5 percent) and anesthesia disasters (3 percent).

The study didn’t address why diagnostic errors are so common or how to lower the number of errors.

When a diagnostic error is made, the results can be fatal. For example, if someone has cancer, a delay in the start of treatment can make the difference between life and death.

If you or a loved one has suffered because of a diagnostic error, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you fight for your rights. When medical mistakes are made, the responsible parties must be held responsible. We have nearly five decades of experience helping clients get back on their feet after medical malpractice. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form.

Texting is deadly, even when it’s hands-free

By Arthur Elk

In 2012, more than 6 billion texts were sent every day. Many of those were probably sent by people who were behind the wheel of a vehicle. That’s too many distracted drivers. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 injured in distracted-driving crashes.

Most of us probably think that using hands-free texting is a safer way to text while driving. It seems like it should be, but that may not be true.

In a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute, 43 drivers were tested on a closed road course using a 2009 Ford Explorer. They each drove four times for about 10 minutes at 30 mph while: not texting at all, texting manually, texting with the voice-to-text app on the iPhone, and texting with the Android smartphone voice-to-text app.

Each driver was asked to complete five text-messaging tasks: send one, read and reply to three, and simply read one. The texts were provided in a short script.

The study found that driver response times were slower no matter which method of texting was used. Drivers took about twice as long to react as when they weren’t texting and spent less time looking at the road, the study says. Surprisingly, driver performance was roughly the same with both methods of texting, although manual texting actually required slightly less time than using voice-to-text.

No matter what method of texting you use, you are distracted from what you should be focused on: the road and other drivers around you. Don’t become just another statistic. Make smart choices. That text message that seems so important can wait until you are stopped. No text message is worth risking your life or the life of others around you.

FDA says supplement ingredient DMAA is illegal and dangerous

An ingredient used in many products touted to help you lose weight and build muscle is deadly and illegal, according to the government.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to not buy any dietary supplements that contain the ingredient dimethylamylamine, or DMAA.

The most serious DMAA side effects include:

  • Death
  • Heart Attack
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Heat Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Kidney Failure
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Liver Failure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heart palpitations

Some examples of products containing DMAA  include OxyElite Pro and Jack3d.

The FDA warns that the ingredient is especially dangerous when taken with caffeine.

Last year, the FDA sent warning letters to 11 companies, asking them to stop making and selling all products containing DMAA. All but one of the companies has complied.

Although the FDA has previously investigated DMAA and questioned the legality of the ingredient, this is the first time the agency has directly warned consumers about the hazards of DMAA. Supplements containing DMAA have been on the market since 2007.

The FDA has received 86 reports of illnesses and death linked to supplements containing DMAA, although the agency admits these reports do not prove that the supplements were the cause of the health problems. The majority are voluntary reports from consumers and healthcare practitioners. The illnesses reported include heart problems and nervous system or psychiatric disorders.

Dietary supplements do not require FDA approval before they are sold to consumers, unlike pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The FDA can only take action once a supplement is on the market.

Too often, companies push products to market in pursuit of profits. Millions of Americans are trying to lose weight and many will try any new product marketed to help in that effort. Unfortunately, the drug recall attorneys of Elk & Elk have seen too many cases where products have had serious and sometimes deadly side effects.

If you are trying to lose weight and use dietary supplements, check the label and make sure it does not contain DMAA. The FDA advises consumers who want to buy supplements to stick with vitamins and minerals, or single-ingredient supplements. Also, look for supplements that are certified by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) or NSF International.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous prescription drug, you need an experienced drug recall attorney. For a list of cases we are currently investigating, visit our website.

Another week, another recall: Honda recalls more than 200,000 vehicles for brake-shift interlock failure

Earlier this week, we told you how Honda was one of four Japanese car makers forced to recall thousands of vehicles for an air bag problem. Now the company has another issue to deal with.

Honda has recalled more than 200,000 vehicles because brake-shift interlocks can fail and cause the shifter to be moved without depressing the brake, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The 2012-2013 CR-V, Odyssey and the 2013 Acura RDX have interlock system parts that can contract in “subfreezing temperatures” and “become slow to return to its proper position,” Honda said in a statement. That means the shifter could be moved out of park without pressing the brake pedal, as is required on all vehicles to prevent unintended acceleration.

Dealers will install a new brake shift interlock system in mid-May. Affected owners can visit the official recall websites (​m and​m) or call the company at 1-800-999-1009.

Interlock failures have been a chronic problem for Honda, particularly on its ignition systems. The system is supposed to keep the key locked into the ignition slot until the car is put into park. Most recently, in December, Honda recalled 870,000 vehicles for ignition interlocks that could allow the driver to pull the key out of the ignition when the vehicle is not in park.

In 2003, Honda recalled more than 563,000 vehicles for ignition interlock failures. The same problem resurfaced in a 2005 recall of more than 483,000 Accords, Preludes and Acura TLs. In 2010, Honda recalled more than 384,000 Accords, Civics and Elements from the 2003 and 2004 model years, again for the same problem. NHTSA had collected reports of 18 alleged crashes and one injury due to the 2010 recall.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a recalled vehicle, contact the personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation, online consultation form.

Ohio launches new variable speed limit signs to make work zones safer

Summer is right around the corner. That means besides warm weather and having the kids home from school, we should expect to see lots of orange barrels on the roads.

Public safety officials are urging Ohio drivers to slow down in work zones. Over the past decade, the number of work zone crashes in Ohio hasn’t been below 5,000.VSL-Photo-2

National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week is April 15 through April 21. As part of the week, the state Transportation Department is trying out a new piece of equipment that could help reduce the number of crashes in construction work zones. The number of work-zone accidents increased to 5,188 in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. Sixteen people died in Ohio work zone accidents in 2011.

ODOT is piloting the new safety weapon, known as variable speed limit trailers. The portable devices come with technology that can be programmed to display a safer, slower speed, but only on the stretches of roadway where construction workers are present.

Around the state, there are 10 construction projects this year that will pilot the use of variable speed limit signs:

  • Franklin County – Resurfacing and pavement repair on Interstate 71
  • Henry County – Resurfacing a four-lane highway on U.S. Routes 6/24
  • Portage County – Spot pavement repairs on Interstate 76
  • Fairfield/Licking Counties – Bridge maintenance and repairs at various locations on Interstate 70
  • Madison County – Pavement repairs at various locations on Interstate 70
  • Montgomery County – Pavement repairs at various locations on U.S. Route 35 west of Interstate 75
  • Shelby County – Pavement repairs at various locations on Interstate 75
  • Ross/Pike Counties – Resurfacing of U.S. Route 23
  • Two projects in Athens County – Resurfacing of U.S. Routes 33 and 32/50

An ODOT analysis found that 56,945 vehicle crashes occurred in Ohio work zones from 2003 to 2012. Of those crashes, 20,590 happened when construction workers were present.

The top causes of work zone crashes are speed, following too closely, failure to control and improper lane changes. All four of these are easily preventable if drivers would just use a little more caution. Slow down, keep your eyes on the road and leave a little extra room between you and the car in front of you when you are driving through construction zones. And if the construction is in an area you drive through as part of your daily commute, make sure to plan extra time into your drive or find an alternate route.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a work zone accident, let the personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.