Texas Supporters of Texting Ban Say Statistics Underestimate Dangers of Distracted Driving


I have written many times about the hazards of distracted driving. Texas has tried to pass state-wide bans, but has never gotten past Governor Perry.

The Dallas Morning News recently ran an article that asserts that cell phone use or texting while driving may be more common than we’ve been led to believe. Here are the opening paragraphs of the article:

People shudder when they see this driver.

His bobbing head follows a familiar rhythm, nodding down to write or read a text and then glancing at the road to check traffic.

He tends to drift out of his lane and sometimes rear-ends the car in front of him.

State troopers and local police officers listed cellphone use as a contributing factor in 3,283 accidents in 2012. But traffic safety experts say the number vastly understates the true extent of the problem.

The suspicion is that cellphone use ranks with DWI and speeding as chief causes of injury and death on streets and highways.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the most important thing, but it’s pretty close,” said Sgt. Brandon Price, a veteran traffic cop in Allen. “I have really started to talk to people, especially kids, about the dangers of cellphone use while driving.”

Nearly two dozen Texas cities have prohibited texting and driving. Efforts to impose a statewide ban have failed in the Legislature even though safety advocates suspect that cellphone use is increasingly the cause of accident injuries and death.

But that assertion is hard to prove because of data-gathering problems.

At a crash, officers are supposed to ask if a cellphone was involved. Most drivers reflexively say, “No.” Sometimes, particularly in minor wrecks, the question doesn’t get asked. Police want to clear the wreckage quickly and get traffic flowing again.

“Do we have good data to know the extent to which cellphone use contributes to accidents? Not even close,” said Sgt. Paul Lassalle, a traffic safety expert at the Houston Police Department.

“It’s hard to get at. Drivers don’t want to confess they were doing something silly, like talking on the phone, that caused the wreck.”

Safety Tips When Using Hand Tools


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There is nowhere I won’t search to find information for you. These safety tips for working with hand tools are from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada.

What are some basic tips when using hand tools? 

• Select the right tool for the job. Substitutes increase the chance of having an accident.

• Use tools designed to allow wrist to stay straight. Avoid using hand tools with your wrist bent.

• Ensure that employees are properly trained in the safe use of hand tools.

• Use good quality tools.

• Keep tools in good condition at all times.

• Inspect tools for defects before use. Replace or repair defective tools.

• Keep cutting tools sharp and cover sharp edges with suitable covering to protect the tool and to prevent injuries from unintended contact. .

• Replace cracked, splintered, or broken handles on files, hammers, screwdrivers, or sledges.

• Ensure that the handles of tools like hammers and axes fit tightly into the head of the tool.

• Replace worn jaws on wrenches, pipe tools and pliers.

• Redress burred or mushroomed heads of striking tools.

• Pull on a wrench or pliers. Never push unless you hold the tool with your palm open.

• Point sharp tools (e.g., saws, chisels, knives) laying on benches away from aisles and handles should not extend over the edge of the bench top.

• Maintain tools carefully. Keep them clean and dry, and store them properly after each use.

• Carry tools in a sturdy tool box to and from the worksite.

• Wear safety glasses or goggles and well-fitting gloves appropriate for the hazards to which you may be exposed when doing various tasks.

• Keep the work environment clean and tidy to avoid clutter which may cause accidents.

• Use a heavy belt or apron and hang tools at your sides, not behind your back.

Keep the work environment clean and tidy to avoid clutter which may cause accidents

Use a heavy belt or apron and hang tools at your sides, not behind your back

What should I avoid when using hand tools? 

• Do not use tools for jobs they are not intended to do. For example, do not use a slot screw drivers as a chisel, pry bar, wedge or punch or wrenches as hammers..

• Do not apply excessive force or pressure on tools.

• Do not cut towards yourself when using cutting tools.

• Do not hold the stock in the palm of your hand when using a cutting tool or a screwdriver.

• Do not wear bulky gloves to operate hand tools.

• Do not throw tools. Hand them, handle first, directly to other workers.

• Do not carry tools in a way that interferes with using both hands on a ladder, while climbing on a structure, or when doing any hazardous work. If working on a ladder or scaffold, tools should be raised and lowered using a bucket and hand line.

• Do not carry a sharp tool in your pocket.

Confidentiality Agreements in Suit Over Texas Explosion Raise Safety Concerns


The Dallas Morning News reports that a lawsuit over the 2013 explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, TX contains “secrets” that “could keep valuable health and safety information hidden from the public forever.” The News notes that a judge “has approved confidentiality agreements requested by attorneys” that could mean that “even people who live in West may never find out much more about what happened.” The agreements “allow both sides to label as confidential virtually all information uncovered as the lawyers prepare for trial.” The News adds that confidentiality agreements are common, but “keeping secrets in lawsuits can have dangerous consequences for public health and safety.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Five Differences between a Brain Injury Lawsuit and Other Injury Lawsuits


Five Differences between a Brain Injury Lawsuit and Other Injury Lawsuits

Brain injuries can occur in sports injuries, falls, auto collisions and work accidents. Lawsuits involving brain injuries are more complex than other cases because the injury is much more complicated. Consequences can be both subtle and far-reaching. Attorneys who specialize in brain injury cases understand the factors that can influence the outcome of a case.

1.     Brain Injuries Aren’t Always Visible

A head injury can occur even though there is no obvious wound, such as penetration of the brain case or crack in the skull. The brain is composed of soft tissue suspended in liquid within the skull case. When an individual suffers a blow to the head or jarring of the head, the tissue can strike against the skull’s interior bone, causing bruising. This movement can cause a variety of symptoms, such as gait problems, speech problems, mood changes and difficulty concentrating.

2.     Damage Is Not Always Immediate

Immediately after an incident, the person may feel fine and may be unaware that serious damage has occurred. However, in months that follow the accident, the person may notice unusual effects, such as frequent headaches, episodes of dizziness or depression. These may be a result of undetected damage to brain tissue.

3.     Small Injuries Can Cause Big Effects

The brain is complex organ with thousands of connections that interact in intricate ways. Different areas of the brain control a variety of functions. Depending on the area within the brain, small injuries can have effects that can significantly impair an individual’s function.

4.     Oxygen Deprivation May Be a Factor

In some cases, brain injury can occur as a result of lack of oxygen to brain tissue. These injuries can occur as a result of accident or in the course of medical treatment. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, even for a short time, serious injury can occur that can impair function in everyday life.

5.     Personality Changes May Occur

Many people are not aware that mood and personality changes can result after an injury to the head. The individual may not connect these changes to the injury. A thorough medical and psychological evaluation can help to make this subtle connection between the incident and unusual behavior.

Because brain injuries are more difficult to detect and may not appear for a while, lawsuits can be difficult. For your brain injury lawsuit, consult with a law firm that has experience in this particular area of litigation.

Information credited to Cummings Andrews Mackay LLP, brain injury lawyers.

This article is from Kara Masterson, a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

Friday Fun


I have written before about a cool underground auto parking garage. Now here’s the same idea from Japan, but this time it’s automated parking for bicycles.

Trampolines Are Too Dangerous, Say Pediatricians


I’ve always liked trampolines. I had a lot of fun with them when I was a teenager. I even took a college PE class that was just trampoline-jumping. What a strange class, right? The teacher was a former Baylor cheerleader (male, darn it). When we weren’t doing flips and things, we all stood around the trampoline to catch the guys who messed up and came flying toward the hardwood floor of the gym. Of course when a big guy came hurtling toward us, we sometimes just let him hit the ground rather than risk injury by trying to catch him. I still feel bad about that…

Anyway, I know from experience that trampolines can be both fun and dangerous. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the danger outweighs the fun for kids. The pediatricians recommend against letting children use trampolines, even if the trampolines have safety netting and padding. The study was detailed in a Reuters article. Here are excerpts:

Kids should stay off trampolines at home and at the playground, U.S. pediatricians urged, saying emergency departments across the country see nearly 100,000 injuries from the bouncy mats each year. The new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updates recommendations from 1999, which caused manufacturers to add safety features to the products in an attempt to mitigate the risks. However, these measures may “provide a false sense of security,” according to the group.

“As best we can tell, the addition of safety nets and padding has actually not changed the injuries we have seen,” said Dr. Susannah Briskin, a sports medicine specialist who helped draft the new statement.

It’s estimated that the number of trampoline injuries nationwide has been dropping – from 111,851 cases treated at ERs in 2004, to 97,908 in 2009. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the devices have become any less dangerous, Briskin told Reuters Health. “Even though there has been a decrease in injuries,” she said, “I caution people against taking that too literally because the number of trampolines has also decreased.”

Mark Publicover, founder and president of JumpSport Inc, a trampoline manufacturer in San Jose, California, scoffed at the AAP’s recommendations.

He said he invented a safety net that encircles the trampoline and cuts the number of injuries by half. And, he added, if parents ban trampolines, their children might start climbing trees, using swings or skateboards, for instance.

“If you look at all those activities, a safety-enclosed trampoline is safer by hours of use,” Publicover told Reuters Health. “When they say, ‘Don’t use trampolines with a safety enclosure,’ they are going to increase the number of injuries.”

According to the new statement, published in the journal Pediatrics, three-quarters of injuries happen when more than one person are jumping at the same time, often when a small kid is bouncing with a heavier playmate. The impact of the bigger kid will thrust the smaller one high into the air, upping the chances of a rough landing, particularly if the kid comes down at an awkward point.

“Most of the injuries actually occur on the mat itself,” said Briskin, adding that she sees a lot of ankles sprains and fractures in her clinic, especially the young kids.

“Not everything has complete recovery,” said Briskin. “Head and neck injuries make up 10 to 15 percent of all injuries and those are the injuries that carry the greatest risk of leading to catastrophic damage.”

About one in 200 trampoline injuries lead to permanent neurologic damage, according to the AAP, and such accidents are often caused by botched somersaults or flips.

For parents who are unwilling to stop their kids from using trampolines, the AAP offers a number of tips to make the activity safer.

Those steps include checking that your insurance policy covers trampoline-related claims; using the mat one at a time, having effective padding around springs and frame, placing the trampoline on level ground, avoiding somersaults and flips and actively supervising kids.

The new statement is in line with advice from other medical societies, which also discourage recreational use of trampolines.

SOURCE: bit.ly/PQQMAp Pediatrics.

After the Fact: How to Respond when Someone Sues You Long After Your Involvement in a Car Accident


After the Fact - How to Respond when Someone Sues You Long After Your Involvement in a Car Accident

 

Photo credit: bills.com.

It’s every driver’s worst nightmare: months or even years after a car accident, you receive a letter in the mail informing you that you are being sued for damages or injuries. Don’t panic; as the defendant, the legal system will generally work in your favor. The first step to handling this situation properly is to contact your insurance company. As frustrating as it is to be in this situation, the key to winning this type of case is to proceed carefully and gather important information that will help you come out on top. Read on to learn a few helpful methods to keep you from getting cheated in your case.

Check the Statute of Limitations for your State

Each state has a different statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury claims. For most states, this is around two to three years. If the individual attempting to sue you has exceeded the statute of limitations on their claim, chances are that their case will get thrown out of court barring extreme mitigating circumstances. It’s helpful to consult with an insurance specialist to get sound advice on the statute of limitations for your particular state.

Consult an Independent Attorney

Even if your insurance company is providing you legal counsel, it’s may be best to get a second opinion. In many cases, insurance companies aren’t completely aligned with the interests of their clients, especially in the case of car accidents that they feel fall outside of their coverage. Even outside of such circumstances, a second pair of eyes is always appreciated, and can shore up critical weaknesses in your case. Having an attorney that is independent from your insurance company will ensure that you have someone looking out for your best interests, and provide you with legal help if you do in fact have to appear in court.

Research the Litigant

Do some basic research on the person suing you, and if possible, their lawyers. In particular, look out for posts on their social media profiles that contradict the statement that they gave you; this may prove to be court admissible evidence. All such information should be saved, if possible, and given to your attorney without notifying the individual or anyone else. Any information you can gather on the litigant can give you an advantage in court and provide you with helpful evidence as well.

Don’t Be Misled

Disingenuous personal injury lawyers might bring up the possibility of jail time in an attempt to reach a quick settlement. However, as a private litigant involved in a private legal dispute, the state cannot impose incarceration upon you, even in the case of driving under the influence or other crimes. This is why it is important for you to have legal representation—they can explain any claims that the litigant or their lawyers make against you, and help you understand what is truly going on, and which claims actually hold weight. 

Be Willing to Settle

If everything checks out about the accuser’s case, it can be easier and less expensive for both parties to come to an agreement out of court. Even if the amount of money that they are asking for in the settlement seems high, it is likely less than the time and effort of going to court, especially if you lose the case. Being held in default of such payments can even result in the suspension of your driver’s license, providing another incentive to settle out of court. Your attorney can give you a good idea of when you should throw in the towel, and when you should keep fighting. Even if you are being wrongly accused, sometimes the price of going to court (and losing) isn’t worth the fight.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people look for easy ways to get money, and target innocent people in the process. If you find yourself involved in a lawsuit long after your involvement in a car accident, get legal help and proceed with caution. Information for this article was provided by the legal experts at Gittens & Associates who specialize in personal injury cases in Newfoundland.

This article is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

Women Seek Support From Texas in Battle Over Pelvic Mesh Implants


The Texas Tribune, in partnership with Kaiser Health News, covers the controversy surrounding use of pelvic mesh implants by women, noting that in Texas, “a coalition of ‘pelvic mesh survivors’ has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is also the state’s Republican nominee for governor, to pursue legal action against Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest implant makers.” The paper noted that Texas women have also filed numerous lawsuits against mesh manufacturers in Federal courts across the US. The women allege the pelvic mesh implants were associated with “severe complications, including extreme pain, bleeding and infections.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

Can You Afford to Sue for Personal Injury?


Personaly Injury Afford

You’ve been injured through someone else’s actions or negligence. Now what? Your finances are struggling under the weight of medical bills or property damage. Should you pursue a lawsuit? Unless you are sure you have a good case, pursuing legal action can actually make your financial problems worse. Consider the cost of filing a case before you decide if it is worth it to pursue legal action.

Consider the Cost

Every lawyer handles their client’s fees differently, so you need to take extra care to understand exactly what your attorney’s legal fees will be.

Some lawyers are confident enough in their ability to win the cases they choose to take, and will only charge the client if the case is won. This arrangement is called a “contingency fee”: contingent on the result of the case. Some states have limitations on how much a lawyer can take as a contingency fee. The most common amount is 33% of the settlement money. If you win $30,000, for example, your lawyer will take $10,000 to cover their legal fees (source: All Law).

Contingency fees don’t always match up exactly with the amount of time a lawyer puts into a case, so they may leave either the client or the lawyer dissatisfied. For example, if you win a large amount of settlement money, the percentage your lawyer is awarded may be more than enough to cover the costs. On the other hand, if the case takes a long time to resolve or doesn’t result in a high settlement, the lawyer may end up being underpaid.

Consider the Time

Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t only take money from your wallet; it can also takes quite a long time. And you know what they say: “Time is money!” Every state has their own “statute of limitations” that dictates how long after the injury you have to sue the guilty party—many states say you have a year to sue, while others have shorter or longer limitations (source: Nolo).

Most personal injury cases can be settled outside of a court hearing. In these cases, the process is much shorter and easier to manage. Talk to your lawyer about how much time and effort you will need to put in to the case, and discuss whether or not he thinks the defendant will want to settle outside of a courtroom.

Consider the Outcome

If the party you are suing does not want to settle the case outside of court, then you will both appear in front of a judge and jury. When that happens, the outcome of your case will be in the court’s hands. If you are confident in your case and think you can convince a judge and a jury to agree with you, then pursuing a lawsuit may be worth it. If you don’t think a jury would agree with you, however, save time and money by not taking legal action.

If you don’t know what kind of outcome your case will have, ask a lawyer. Some law firms charge a small fee for an initial case review, but many offer a free initial consultation.

Even if you win a lawsuit, you cannot undo any damage or injury you suffered. If the settlement money would be worth the time and the expense of building a case and would improve your situation, then proceed with the case. If not, it’s in your best interests to let it go without pursuing legal action.

*Information Source: Torbet & Tuft

This article is from Meghan Belnap, blogger, researcher, and freelance writer.

Reducing Automaker Liability Risk in Driverless Car Accidents Advised


In the National Journal, Alex Brown reports that “by almost any estimate,” automated cars “will save thousands of lives” but the question of who is to be held responsible if a crash occurs remains. Brown says that litigation risks “could slow the movement of driverless cars to the mass market.” He suggests one option is a “payout fund…to compensate victims of driverless car accidents.” Brown says that subsidies to help the industry launch could include money to seed a payout fund. He concludes that automakers will carry uneven risk of liability lawsuits and says, “some form of straightening that out might make sense.”

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Injured On Vacation? Four Things To Remember If You’re Hurt Abroad


injuredabroad

When traveling to a foreign country, you probably have more exciting things on your mind than the possibility of being injured. The truth is, you can get injured anywhere, and many popular tourist activities are inherently a little bit dangerous. For example, most scenic destinations insist that their countryside is too beautiful to be seen from the road; they’ll suggest taking a bicycle tour, hiking through wilderness, and zip-lining above a canopy of trees. While these are all brilliant ideas for the athletic tourist, companies that provide these attractions do not assume liability for any injuries that may occur. If you do become injured, keep these four things in mind while seeking treatment.

1. Always buy travel insurance

Travelers are often tempted to opt out of travel insurance to save some money on an already expensive trip. Keep in mind that you are running a risk by not purchasing a policy; your domestic healthcare insurance may not cover you once you leave the country. All medical costs incurred from an overseas injury may have to come straight out of your own pocket. The purpose of a travel insurance policy is to cover any medical treatments necessary to getting you healthy enough to fly home. Depending on your policy, it may also cover additional travel expenses if things like ground assistance become necessary. Sometimes, they will even pay for you to travel to a different hospital or city if you feel they are more trusted than the city in which you are injured.

2. Keep track of all receipts and reports

Whether you’ve thought ahead enough to purchase travel insurance or not, it is important to keep all of your receipts, medical records, police reports, and medical reports. This will help you sort out what can or cannot be reimbursed once you’re back home. If you have any hope of speaking with an attorney, these records will be extremely important to your case. It will also help your medical treatment transition much more smoothly. X-rays and other diagnostics are especially important to avoid having them performed twice. Additionally, you may be able to file a claim through your domestic insurance with the proper paperwork.

3. Contact your country’s embassy if you need help

Embassies exist for this very purpose. If you are injured, assaulted, or get into any kind of trouble in a foreign country, your embassy will try to assist you in any way possible. If you are caught without insurance and without money, the embassy may be able to find funding for you to pursue medical treatment.

4. Once you are home, speak with an attorney

It is hard to trust medical facilities in a foreign country. It is even harder to trust foreign individuals who have been involved in your accident. Most people will do whatever they can to avoid paying for someone else’s medical treatment. HarronLaw.com has said whether you think you have a case or not, speaking with an attorney who is familiar with overseas laws and statutes will help you get the treatment and reimbursement necessary to your injury. Attorneys know more about overseas law than we could ever hope to and may be able to find you more money than you had thought possible. Even the smallest possibility of reimbursement should be pursued.

Traveling abroad should be a fun and exciting time of stress-free relaxation. Becoming injured in a foreign country is a nightmare. Unfortunately, these things sometimes happen. If this happens to you, keep in mind these four tips, and you will be much better off. Do your diligence to get back into good health as soon as possible. Most importantly, stay safe out there.

This article is from Chaleigh Glass. Chaleigh is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in the amazing city of New York. When she isn’t writing Chaleigh loves to travel and explore all that the big city has to offer.

Surgical Students Less Prepared After Work Hour Restrictions Were Put in Place


This is a little disturbing — do we have to choose between sleep-deprived surgeons or under-prepared surgeons?

Reuters reports a new analysis found that surgeons in training have had fewer opportunities to participate in operations since restrictions on working hours were put in place by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in July 2011. The study, published in JAMA Surgery, compared case logs of 52 interns working under the new restrictions to the case logs of 197 interns from the four years prior to the new restrictions. The interns under the new restrictions worked an average of 66 operations, compared to the previous interns average of 89 operations; participation in operations assisting experienced surgeons and major cases also went down. Experts are concerned the reduced number of operations interns participate in leaves them unprepared as they continue their training.

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Friday Fun


There’s nothing funny about this video, but it’s a great, visually beautiful endorsement of wearing seat belts.

From Test Drives to Tickets: Prepare Your Teen For the Road Ahead


Young female driver holding a key

Being the parent of a new driver can be nerve wracking enough; reading up on the statistics involving young drivers and car crashes can make parents want to wrap their teen in bubble wrap and hand them a bus pass. As the Centers for Disease Control notes, car accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers, leading to about 2,800 fatalities every year.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things proactive parents can do to help prevent their children from being part of these grim statistics, and none of them involve bubble wrap. The following tips can help prepare a teen to be a safe driver:

Practice, practice, practice

As often as possible, let your new driver get some driving practice. As the National Safety Council notes, the more hours he or she logs behind the wheel, the better off your teen will be. In addition to more formal driving lessons when you take your teen out to specific places — like driving on the freeway for the first time or learning how to maneuver the tight drive-thru window at Taco Bell — routinely ask your child to drive around town on simple errands. Try to shoot for at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised practice during the first six months your teen has his or her license.

Car maintenance 101

In order to be a safe driver, teens need to understand how a car works and how to take care of some minor repairs. Take some time to explain the safety features the car has, any warning signals he or she may hear in certain conditions, and what to do in case of a tire blowout. Discuss how to determine if the tires are filled with enough air, how to change a flat tire, what a tires with low tread looks like and when to replace old tires for safer driving.

Establish some basic rules

Because the risk of a car crash rises when teens drive with friends in the car, parents should be sure they are following their state’s teen driving rules and regulations. If your state does not have a law regarding teen passengers, then feel free to set one yourself. For example, you could allow your teen to take one trusted friend in the car or just drive places alone for the first six months to a year of having a license.

Parents also need to establish clear curfews and other rules for driving; these can range from being home before dark to allowing them to go a certain distance from home or maybe just on surface streets and not freeways. Then, once you have established your rules, notes Drive it HOME, let other parents of teens know about them. While your teen might protest, claiming that this will cause him or her to die of embarrassment, reassure your new driver that you want to be sure all of your parent friends are aware of your rules, so they can help enforce them, too.

Be aware that teens are watching you — always

When you are behind the wheel and your teen is along for the ride, be cognizant of the fact that your son or daughter is closely watching you to see what you are doing. If you want your teen to follow the speed limit, don’t be a lead foot. Check your blind spots when changing lanes, use your blinkers, and don’t tailgate. Although it might seem like that ear bud-wearing teen passenger is more interested in his or her phone than you, they are definitely still paying attention.

This article is from Karen Holbrooke, a teen safety expert, auto tech blogger, and mother of two.

Next Privacy Battle May Be Waged Inside Your Car


While we all worry about what information the NSA is gathering from our computers and cell phones, there may another information-gathering source inside our vehicles.

This disturbing possibility was the subject of a good, but lengthy, article recently in Economic Times. The article is well worth reading. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Cars are becoming smarter than ever, with global positioning systems, Internet connections, data recorders and high-definition cameras. Drivers can barely make a left turn, put on their seatbelts or push 80 mph without their actions somehow, somewhere being tracked or recorded.

Automakers say they are only responding to consumer demand, and besides, they and regulators say, the new technologies help them better understand consumers and make the cars safer. But privacy advocates increasingly see something more unsettling for drivers: Someone is always watching.

Five Mistakes That Are Common Amongst New Lawyers


New Lawyer

Attorneys fresh out of law school are often very eager to get an immediate start on their careers. While making the start is important, new attorneys often make mistakes during this period of their lives that can cost them well into the future. This article will outline five common mistakes that new attorneys make that can be easily avoided by taking the right precautions.

Having Too Much Confidence

While having excellent confidence is an important attribute for attorneys today, having too much confidence can come off as offensive to those who have a lifetime of experience in the field. This can strain relationships with one’s boss or make it more difficult to win at trial. Attorneys should be humble for the first couple years as they try to learn how to master their field. While confidence is important, new attorneys should always look to learn from others.

Pretending to Know it All

Just after getting out of law school, the new attorneys don’t know more than their more experienced peers. As a result, new attorneys should view others as an opportunity to learn how to master their profession. Attorneys should also be honest when they don’t know something, even when with the client or with colleagues. This can prove an attorney’s integrity and help to improve relationships with others.

Not Pursuing a Masters of Law Degree

Advanced degrees like a Masters in Law, or LL.M., are a great way to accelerate one’s success in a career. Attorneys should seek to continue to expand their education by studying for one of these degrees in the evenings or even considering enrolling in one of these programs full-time like the Masters in Law online at USC. These degrees can increase an attorney’s lifetime compensation and to lead to an overall return on investment.

Starting Out Alone

While working as a self-employed attorney may be advantageous for those of experience, starting out alone can actually hurt one more than it can help. Independent attorneys should consider starting out by working with an experienced law firm in order to build the resume.

Not Following Procedures

Most new attorneys are surprised to see how precise the rules can be in a real-world court. While in school attorneys are taught the laws, they often are not well-educated in strategies they need in order to make judges happy and lead to client satisfaction. This is something that is gained through experience, and new attorneys shouldn’t worry about this functioning as a barrier to success.

Getting a law degree doesn’t automatically mean that you will jump right in and start making the big bucks. Being new to the field doesn’t mean that you have to make rookie mistakes as there are many that are easily avoidable. By taking steps to avoid some of these problems, new attorneys will find themselves better-transitioning into a professional career.

This article is from Meghan Belnap, blogger, researcher, and freelance writer.

Honda Recalling Almost 900,000 Odyssey Minivans


The New York Times reports that NHTSA “said in a report posted on its website” that Honda has put out a recall on approximately 900,000 Odyssey minivans due to a fire risk. The automaker informed the agency of a problem in 2005-2010 Odysseys where the fuel pump can “deteriorate prematurely in a manner that can result in cracks,” permitting gasoline to leak from the vehicle. Although Honda is unaware of any injuries related to the issue, the report points out that the company said it would not have the right repair parts until this summer, and in April notifications will start being sent out. The report also observes that all 886,815 vehicles were “built in a Honda plant in Alabama.”

Reuters, the AP, and Al Jazeera America also report.

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Five Things that Could Get You Pulled Over


5 Things that Could Get You Pulled Over

Image Source: Einar Jørgen Haraldseid

Being pulled over can be frustrating, scary, and inconvenient. You don’t wake up hoping to see flashing lights in your rearview during the daily commute. So how can you avoid the attention of your friendly neighborhood highway patrolman? Start by steering clear of these top five violations.

  1. Speeding

Speed violations are considered the number one reason for being pulled over by drivers and police officers alike. And it’s no wonder: an estimated 20% of all drivers will be cited for driving over the speed limit this year. On average, 112,000 speeding tickets are issued every day, adding up to a whopping 41,000,000 citations every year.

Speeding is one of the easiest traffic violations to see and cracking down on speed demons makes a noticeable difference in road safety. Studies suggest that for every 100 more speeding citations given in a month in a single county, the average number of car accidents decreases by 14.3. It’s easy to get going pretty fast in hopes of getting to work on time or passing the jerk who’s driving way under 65mph, but remember that staying within speed restrictions is the easiest way to prevent a traffic citation or an accident.

  1. Distracted Driving

Distractions on the road come in many forms: your least favorite song coming on the radio, a backseat full of rowdy kids, or passing an accident. The number of people injured in distracted driving accidents has steadily increased since 2011. According to Cristall Kenneth, a firm of ICBC lawyers in Vancouver, the most common injuries are:

  • brain injuries
  • spinal damage
  • whiplash
  • broken bones

Driving safely should be your first priority. Letting your front-seat passenger control the music, avoiding eating while driving, and establishing rules for passengers to ensure that you can pay adequate attention to the road can keep you safe (and free of traffic citations).

  1. Illegal Phone Use

The most common kind of distracted driving is driving while using a cell phone. While no state bans all cell phone use by drivers, 13 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands prohibit hand-held cell phone use. All but five states prohibit text messaging while behind the wheel. Most cell phone laws are primary enforcement laws, meaning an officer may cite you for illegal cell phone use even if you haven’t violated any other traffic laws. (Information: Governors Highway Safety Association)

Cell phone use behind the wheel can have serious consequences. Answering the average text message takes five seconds, which, when you’re driving at 55 mph, is enough time to travel the length of a football field. It gives you plenty of space to run off the road or collide with another vehicle. It’s important to know and follow the cell phone laws in your current state and any states you visit frequently, but you should also exercise common sense. Postpone distracting or intense phone calls until after you’ve reached your destination, even if you’re using a handheld device.

  1. Reckless Driving

Aggressive or reckless driving offenses account for more than 30% of all annual traffic violations. The most common citations are for:

  • failure to yield right of way – 11.4%
  • failure to obey traffic signs – 7.4%
  • improper turns – 6.6%
  • improper passing – 4.1%
  • improper following – 1.7%
  • improper lane changes – 1.5%
  • driving on a sidewalk, median, or shoulder – 1.4%

You may think tailgating the minivan in front of you will convince the driver to follow the posted speed limit, but it’s more likely to convince the passing highway patrolman to give you a citation for improper following.

  1. Equipment Violations

Equipment violation tickets can be a hassle—they add mandatory court attendance and fees to the cost of regular maintenance. To avoid these citations, check your vehicle for these common violations:

  • expired registration
  • nonfunctional headlights or taillights
  • illegal glass tinting
  • missing side mirrors
  • no windshield wipers
  • a broken windshield

These unsafe conditions can land you with a “fix-it” ticket, which will incur a dismissal fee along with the cost of making the needed repairs. It’s more efficient (and cheaper) to stay on top of vehicle upkeep.

Avoiding these common pitfalls can keep you under traffic officers’ radar while making your daily drives that much safer.

This article is from Savannah Coulsen, a freelance writer. She lives in Long Beach. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.

Chicago Hospital Accused of Performing Unneeded Tracheotomies for Medicare Payments


There have been many, many incidents of Medicare fraud by medical providers, but this one (if true) is just awful:

The Bloomberg News reports about a Federal probe into allegations of unnecessary tracheotomies at Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital. Bloomberg reports, “Based in part on surreptitious tape recordings, an FBI affidavit lays out allegations that a Sacred Heart pulmonologist kept patients too sedated to breathe on their own, then ordered unneeded tracheotomies for them — enabling the for-profit hospital to reap revenue of as much as $160,000 per case. The Sacred Heart case is unusual because of the troubling nature of some of the allegations, said Ryan Stumphauzer, a former federal health care fraud prosecutor in Miami who reviewed the affidavit. ‘A typical indictment might allege phantom billing or improper coding,’ he said. ‘This complaint alleges the hospital and doctors were performing unnecessary invasive surgery to justify false billing.’”

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Friday Fun


We’ve probably all seen the movie Flashdance, but how about a Flashwaltz? Enjoy.