July 21, 2007

Senior Drivers Less Likely to Cause Accidents then Young Drivers

According to a RAND study released July 17th, drivers age 65 and older are one-third as likely as drivers age 15-24 to cause automobile accidents. Researchers found in 2001 that drivers 65 years of age and older accounted for about 15 percent of all licensed drivers in the United States, but only 7 percent of all accidents. Drivers aged 15-24 accounted for around 13 percent of all licensed drivers and caused about 43% of accidents. “Not only do seniors drive much less that younger drivers, they drive at safer times during the day and avoid poorer road conditions” said David Loughran, the lead author of the study. Loughran goes on to say that young drivers pose the greatest risk to traffic safety while seniors who drive pose the greatest risk to themselves. The study adds that seniors who drive are generally in poorer health and are frailer then younger drivers. It also says that older driver’s are seven times more likely to be killed during a two car accident.

The study projects that by the year 2025 drivers 65 and older will represent 25 percent of the driving population. In response to the aging driving population many states have imposed more rigorous age based licensing requirements for older drivers. Only two states thus far, Illinois and New Hampshire require older drivers to take road tests. However, many state legislators are continuing to consider tightening the licensing requirements for older drivers. The RAND study concludes that instead of imposing stringent age based licensing requirements, states should improve car and road design to make travel safer for older drivers. The study says that the new age based requirements would be costly to both states and seniors and the benefits of doing so have not yet been validated.

RAND is a leading non-profit research organization who provides objective analysis and solutions to the public and government agencies. For more information and access to RAND’s entire report titled “Regulating Older Drivers: Are New Policies Needed?” please visit their website at www.rand.org.

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July 19, 2007

Class-Action Rights Court Ruling

A victory for consumers happened Thursday July 12th when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that consumers cannot sign away their class-action rights. Many times consumers sign contracts agreeing to resolve their disputes through mandatory arbitration. Most people do not realize that when they sign this type of contract they are also waving their right to file a class action law suit against the company. A consumer may come across this type of contract when signing up for such things as credit cards, wireless service, buying new cars, and for employment. According to Justice Tom Chambers, the class-action waiver denies large number of consumers the protection of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

In 2004, five consumers sued Cingular Wireless, now AT&T, citing improper billing for long distance calls and roaming charges. The consumers were overcharged from an average of $1 to $45 each month for calls that were supposed to be free. Instead of going after Cingular individually, they decided to band together and form a class-action law suit against the company. They filed the suit for themselves and for others who were similarly overcharged. Even though none of the five consumers were significantly overcharged, they claimed that Cingular unilaterally overcharged the public large sums of money. After filing the suit, a King County Superior Court judge denied the class-action because of the contract the consumers had previously signed with Cingular. The judge ordered the claimants into individual arbitration with the company.

Fortunately for consumers, the Washington State Supreme Court disagreed with the judge’s orders. In the court’s majority opinion, class action “is often the only meaningful type of redress for small but widespread injury,” and “claims as small as those in this case are impracticable to pursue on an individual basis even in small claims court, and particularly in arbitration.” A spokesperson for AT&T stated that the company still believes that consumers are better off pursuing arbitration rather than through class-action.

Article Source: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/323520_arbitration13.html

July 18, 2007

Medical Errors a Leading Cause of Death in United States

According to the Millennium Research Group (MRG), medical errors are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. The report states that there are approximately 98,000 deaths caused by medical errors annually. MRG conducted the analysis through the acute care clinical information system (CIS). CIS is a computer based inpatient system that is designed to collect, store, manipulate, and make available information that is important to the health care process. When medical professionals use CIS they are able to access and use information pertaining to a patient’s medical history and profile.

David Plow, a senior analyst at MRG stated, “Medical errors in the healthcare system arise from miscommunication, physician order transcription errors, adverse drug events, or incomplete patient medical records.” He goes on to say, “Generally, medical errors are caused by overcrowded, understaffed clinical areas with complex workflow patterns and incomplete or inefficient communication between clinic areas.” According to MRG, the use of CIS will help medical facilities provide adequate, timely care and help to reduce the amount of preventable errors.

Article Source: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/health/8133207.html

July 13, 2007

August I-5 Northbound Lane Closures

Starting August 10th the Department of Transportation (DOT) will close two to three lanes of Interstate 5 northbound between the West Seattle Bridge and the 1-5/1-90 interchange. The lane closures will last all day and continue through August 29th. These closures are expected to slow traffic on I-5 and cause congestion on I-405, the I-90 Bridge, Highway 99, and on surface streets throughout the area. According to Jamie Holter, a DOT spokeswoman, this will be the largest-scale DOT highway closure ever in Seattle.

About 130,000 drivers daily use the stretch of I-5 where the construction will take place. The DOT is hoping that about half of those driver’s will find alternate routes during the lane closures. The agency is encouraging drivers to plan their alternate routes now. They say if people do not find alternate routes, the backups on I-5 could extend to Tacoma and congestion in the area could last from 4:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m. In order to help drivers, the DOT will provide alternate route maps and updates on traffic conditions on their web site.

During the closures, DOT crews will be replacing metal joints on the roadway. Currently the joints are outdated and may pop up into the middle of the freeway. The crews will also repave the highway. Holter stated that replacing the joints is a very time consuming and complex job and that is why weekend or night closures were ruled out.

There will also be some on-ramp closures throughout the surrounding area:

-The Spokane Street on-ramp will close for two weekends
-The Columbian Way on-ramp will be closed
-One lane of northbound Airport Way South will be for transit and trucks only
-Northbound I-5 exits to Fourth Avenue South, I-90 and James, Madison and Dearborn streets will close periodically
-Other onramps will be closed and northbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane at night

Click here to read the full news article.

July 12, 2007

Road Rage Accident Sends Father and Baby to Hospital

A father and his infant baby were taken to the hospital July 7th after their vehicle hit a pole while fleeing a road raged driver. The incident began when the two drivers’ were involved in an accident on South Gold Street in Centralia. Reportedly, one of the drivers exited their car and began yelling at the second driver. The hostile driver kicked the other’s car and even threatened to shoot. The second driver, with his 8 month old child in the car, attempted to get away from the aggressive driver by leaving the scene and running a red light. The hostile driver followed the fleeing car. The two vehicles were reportedly seen ramming each other’s cars. The chase ended when the fleeing driver either lost control or was forced off the road hitting a light pole. Both the father and his baby were treated and released from a local hospital. Police later found the hostile driver’s vehicle and arrested the driver and her passenger for second degree assault and reckless endangerment.

Article Source:http://www.komotv.com/news/local/8380277.html

July 10, 2007

The Coalition Behind Washington's Approve 67 Campaign Is Growing

The Approve 67 campaign announced today that Washington consumers, progressives, seniors, firefighters and labor leaders have officially endorsed the Approve 67 campaign. The group is working to pass new consumer protections against unfair insurance industry tactics and trends to deny legitimate claims.

"Thousands of honest, hard working people in Washington are forced to fight insurance companies over legitimate claims each year," said Sue Evans, spokesperson for the Approve 67 campaign. "Referendum 67 says the insurance industry must treat people fairly. It's a law that is long overdue."

Referendum 67 would require insurance companies to pay legitimate claims in a timely manner and holds them accountable if they do not. If voters approve 67 in November, insurance companies would face penalties for unfairly treating consumers with valid claims.

Continue reading "The Coalition Behind Washington's Approve 67 Campaign Is Growing " »

July 9, 2007

Child Awarded Millions in Medical Malpractice Claim

A Glendale Superior Court jury decided 9-3 to award $15 million to a child who developed a serious neurological disorder caused by untreated jaundice. Aidan, born March 24, 2003 at Verdugo Hills Hospital in California, reportedly exhibited several risk factors for a neurological disorder called kernicterus when he developed jaundice after birth. Jaundice is a sign of the buildup of bilirubin, a yellow bile pigment. Aiden’s parents were told that the jaundice would go away by itself and were handed a pamphlet that stated that jaundice did not produce a serious medical risk. Aiden’s attorney’s stated that the hospital and Aiden’s doctor should have been attentive and given him appropriate treatment to reduce the buildup. Lawyers for Verdugo Hills Hospital argued that Aidan was born healthy and was still in excellent health when he discharged from the hospital. Aidan was no longer the hospital’s responsibility.

Aidan, now four 4 years old, has normal intelligence but can’t control a single muscle in his body. He is unable to do such things as walk and feed himself and is in need of constant medical attention. His lawyers argued in court that this was all preventable. The current value of the award, $15 million is expected to reach $96 million over the course of his life to cover all future medical treatment. Lawyers for both Verdugo Hills Hospital and Aidan’s doctor said they would appeal the award. California does have a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice awards so it is now unclear how this would affect the jury’s award.

July 7, 2007

Inadequate Positioning of Head Restraints Leads to Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries caused by rear end collisions. Considering that there is a rear end crash every 17 seconds in the United States, according to Consumer Reports, it is unfortunate that most vehicles offer little protection against such injuries. Most whiplash injuries could be prevented or minimized with better head restraints and seatbelts. However, even if a vehicle has proper head restraints and seat belts, most people don’t know how to properly position them and do not take the time to do it.

Whiplash, the rapid snapping back of someone’s head during a collision, hyperextends and can damage nerves and ligaments in the neck. There are roughly 2 million reports of whiplash every year and an estimated 200,000 of these are serious enough to cause long term problems. In order to protect yourself, one must make sure that the seat/head restraint combo is properly positioned so that your torso, neck, and head move in the same plane. Good positioning of the head restraint is critical. Studies have shown that drivers tend to have the restraint positioned too low. The top of the restraint should reach at least to the top of your ears and be 3 inches or less behind the back of your head. Most vehicles have head restraints that are adjustable. However, they are only effective when the driver or passenger takes the time to adjust them properly.

Article Source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/safety-recalls/rear-collisions-8-07/overview/0708_collide_ov.htm

July 6, 2007

Bicyclist Killed by Moving Truck

A bicyclist was struck by a truck in Gig Harbor on July 5th. The 58 year old woman was riding her 10 speed bicycle at about 11:30am when a furniture moving truck hit her. Paramedics were transporting Lavick to Madigan Army Hospital when they confirmed her death. The driver of the moving truck passed a field sobriety test at the scene. The accident is still under investigation by the State Patrol.

Articl Source: http://www.komotv.com/news/local/8345692.html