August 16, 2007

Suggestions for Auto Accident Safety

Many drivers will be involved in an auto accident at some point in their lives. According to the National Safety Council, one in eight drivers will be in an accident this year. If you happen to be one of those drivers involved in collision, here are some tips to help you minimize stress, prevent injury, and save your time and money.

-When driving, stay calm and protect yourself. Avoid road rage and stay rational when encountering irrational drivers.

-If you are involved in an accident, stop. Don’t leave the scene until you speak to the other driver or to the police.

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August 12, 2007

Tips to Survive the I-5 Lane Closures

Between August 10th and 29th, drivers in western Washington will face one of the worst traffic headaches in the state’s history. Beginning Friday night, I-5 northbound between Spokane Street and the I-90 exit will be reduced to two or three lanes for construction. The lanes on I-5 will narrow to 10 feet wide and there will be no HOV or shoulder lanes. With the closures, officials are expecting traffic congestion that will affect Seattle and all surrounding regions. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the backups:

• Drive on roads west of I-5. Many northbound roads, including Airport Way South, First Avenue South, Fourth Avenue South, Highway 99, and East Marginal Way South will have their stoplights retimed to make green lights longer along northbound routes. Other measures will also be taken by police and the Coast Guard to help the congestion.

•Use van pools. Van pools registered with transit agencies will have a special rate for the month of August. An eight person van will cost each rider $45, much cheaper then the normal rate of $81.50. Metro provides the van, gas, maintenance, and the insurance. These vans can also use the designated bus and truck lanes on streets like Airport Way South. For more info, visit or call 206-625-4500.

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August 11, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collapses, Recovery Beginning

The Interstate 35W Bridge unexpectedly collapsed during the evening commute August 1st. The eight lane bridge, a major artery of Minneapolis, was undergoing repairs when it buckled sending dozens of vehicles into the Mississippi River below. The bridge, built in 1967, was about 1,900 feet long and rose about 64 feet above the river. Over the last week, road crews were out working on the bridge’s joints, guardrails, and lights. During the evening of the collapse, workers were laying concrete on the surface of the bridge completing a routine resurfacing project. This was considered the final phase of the construction project. There were 18 construction workers on the bridge during the collapse, only one is still unaccounted for.

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August 10, 2007

Man Left Paralyzed after being Rear Ended

A man was left paralyzed July 28th when a non-mounted speaker in his truck flew forward and hit him. The 27 year old Redmond man was stopped at the NE 70th ramp meter light attempting to get onto northbound I-405 when a Ford F-250 pick up truck rearended him. The speaker flew forward during the accident and struck him, breaking his neck. The injured man was left a quadriplegic and remains at Harborview Medical Center in serious condition. The driver of the Ford F-250, a Bothell man, was not injured in the crash.

The Washington State Patrol is urging people to be cautious when mounting devices, such as speakers, in their vehicles. Appropriate brackets designed to withstand impacts or sudden stops should be used.

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August 9, 2007

Tips for Handling Bills Denied by Health Insurance

An internet survey recently conducted by PNC Financial Services Group found that out of 1,000 consumers, close to one in four said they had a legitimate claim denied by their health insurance. Here are some helpful hints when dealing with denied claims:

1. Get Help: Seek help from your doctor, hospital business office, and employee benefits office. These offices can be a lot more powerful then you. Also seek help from the Patient Advocate Foundation, a non profit group who employs case managers specifically to help people work out insurance company issues.
2. Be Persistent: Appeal, appeal, appeal. “You may go through three or four levels of appeals before you get a favorable resolution” says Nancy Davenport-Ennis, co-founder of the Patient Advocate Foundation.
3. Use the Right Words: According to advocacy groups, certain words like “cosmetic” or “to enhance esteem” can trigger the denial of medical bills. Insurance companies may refuse to pay these bills claiming the procedure was not medically necessary. Instead, use words that mention the specific problems.
4. Ask your Doctor to Resubmit: Sometimes just having your doctor tweak the paperwork slightly will fix the problem.
5. Seek Legal Help: The help of or the threat of using a lawyer is sometimes all the convincing an insurance company needs to start paying denied bills.

Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents 1,300 insurance companies, stated that the survey was flawed. He asserts that only about 3-4 percent of all claims are denied by companies. He attributes these denials to doctors entering in the wrong codes when filing the insurance papers and employers not purchasing certain kinds of health care for their employees’ insurance.

August 8, 2007

Cable Barrier Issues

Questions about highway cable barriers were once again raised after a fatal crash occurred July 22nd in Fife. Sunday’s accident was the first fatal crash involving the cable median barrier to happen outside of the Marysville area. A review of the cable barriers, ordered by Gov. Christine Gregoire, concluded that the barriers have performed excellently except for a 10 mile stretch of I-5 in Marysville where eight people have died in cable related accidents. According to the report, median crossover collisions account for about one fifth of disabling injuries and fatalities on state highways. State officials say that cable barriers work about 95 percent of the time and are built to handle impacts of up to 62 mph.

The fatal accident Sunday morning closed northbound I-5 for several hours and backed up traffic for six miles. The deceased driver, 21, was driving southbound at speeds estimated to 100 mph when his car drifted to the left shoulder. He hit the cable barriers, proceeded through the median and struck several cars heading northbound. According to state trooper Cliff Pratt, it appeared that at least one of the cables was severed during the crash.

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