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What are the signs of Nursing Home Neglect?

At the age of 14, when other teens were hanging out at the mall, going to dances, and being social, I was visiting my father in a nursing home. When most people

The signs of nursing home neglect aren’t always obvious.

realize that I was only 14 and had a parent in a nursing home, they assume that my father was one of those new age senior citizens who have children well into their sixties. Unfortunately, that was not the case with my dad. He was only 41. His body was weak from two years of battling brain cancer and having multiple surgeries. We tried taking care of him in-house, but it became too much for us. We decided that a nursing home was our best bet to give him proper care. It turns out we might have been wrong. I recall going to the nursing home one day to visit my father and I saw what would eventually be the beginning of the end.

Due to my father’s chemo, and the fact that had tumors in his brain, he was weak. He could not get in and out of bed on his own. One day in August we were visiting him. The nursing staff was helping my father back into bed when they didn’t give him proper care. Instead of laying him in the bed gently they let go early, and his head went crashing into the headboard. I was sitting next to the bed and saw it all happen. My father’s head hit on an edge of the headboard, near where he had surgery recently. Granted, this was 18 years ago, and I am no Doogie Houser, but I believe this impact caused my father’s shunt to quit working. Five months later we were planning his funeral.

Sudden weight Loss is a sign of neglect.

What I described was a not typical case of Nursing Home Neglect, but it’s too painful for me to discuss some of the other things I witnessed. At the time, nursing home neglect was not as mainstream as it is now, and we were not the type of family to sue anyone. We had just lost the patriarch of our family after a very long and stressful two year battle with a terrible disease. Now, in 2017, the Statute of Limitations has passed, and all I can really do is educate other people about the subject, and tell you what to look for with your loved ones.

Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are broad terms used to define a variety of offenses within the nursing home abuse. They can refer to something as simple as not attending to patients on a regular basis, to sexual abuse and rape. The subject is truly disturbing to talk about too.

Instead of examining specific cases of nursing home abuse, let’s look at things in a little more general fashion today. What are some signs of Nursing Home/Elder Abuse you should be on the look out for with your loved ones?

–      Emotional or social neglect, where the elder person is repeatedly ignored, left alone, or accidentally snapped at by an overstressed nursing home staff

–      Personal hygiene neglect, where patients do not receive adequate help with laundry, cleaning, bathing, brushing their teeth, or other forms of hygienic practices

–      Basic needs neglect, where the nursing home neglects to provide reasonable food, water, or a safe and clean environment

–      Medical neglect, where the nursing home fails to provide adequate attention, prevention, or medication for concerns such as bed sores, infections, cuts, diabetes, cognitive diseases, and mobility concerns

Warning signs of nursing home neglect include:

–      Sudden weight loss

–      Bedsores, or pressure ulcers

–      Injuries from nursing home falls

–      Dehydration

–      Malnutrition

–      Withdrawn elder behavior, or unusual changes in behavior

–      Changes in personal hygiene or appearance efforts

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the nursing home staff

–      A growing lack of friendly interaction with the other nursing home residents

–      Environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, unsafe mobility equipment, or unsafe furniture in the nursing home patient’s room

If you suspect a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse, report it to the proper authorities. If you’d like to know more about your legal options, give us a call today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will get back to you.

Driving Up Stream; How Live Streaming is Causing A Lot Of Accidents

One of the fun things about working in social media is seeing how technology is always changing how we deliver content. Five years ago it would have been unheard of to have business pages on Instagram or Snapchat. Likewise, to suggest streaming live video via a social media account was unheard of a few years ago. Granted, services like UStream were available back then, but these platforms were not easy to use. So, most brands didn’t participate. Recently, tools like Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook Live have made live streaming video so easy, anyone can do it. Now that “going live” on Facebook or Instagram is so easy, it’s also more dangerous.

Our firm has had fun with Facebook Live.   It’s great for reaching our clients. We’ve used it mostly for fun, but it shows our clients another side of our firm. It helps them get to know us better. For instance, when we present our Golden Apple Award to a teacher in the Mid-Ohio Valley, we set up a mobile device to stream the announcement live. This practice allows our clients to see a behind the scenes aspect of our firm. It’s safe to say that we use this feature as it is intended. However, we’re aware that a lot of people don’t follow the rules.

Periscope is a lot like Facebook Live, except it has its own app, and it integrates into Twitter easily. Periscope came out before Facebook Live, and many early adopters still prefer this application for live streaming. It was while watching a video on Periscope one evening that I first started to notice people using live video streaming when they shouldn’t. NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was using Periscope while driving home one evening. He was providing commentary about the other motorists, and he was answering questions from his fans. He was doing this all while driving on a rainy interstate. Soon after, I noticed more and more people broadcasting live videos as they drove. It now seems common to see live videos on Facebook, Periscope, and Instagram while users are driving.

Obviously, distracted driving is an issue, and it is nothing new. However, this adds another level to the issue because people are actually recording themselves committing crimes. In most states, it is currently illegal to operate a vehicle while using a non-hands free mobile device. For instance, I follow a local photographer who enjoys filming himself passing cars on rural roads in West Virginia. In one such video, this gentleman clearly passed a car on a double yellow line, essentially passing in a no passing zone.

It’s easy to argue that what I have seen is minor compared to what has occurred with some live streaming drivers. Earlier this month a Rhode Island man streamed himself driving recklessly on Facebook Live. While on the interstate he was traveling up to 115 MPH and passing cars on the shoulder. He eventually hit a dump truck. Luckily no other motorists were injured.

I believe it’s safe to say that everyone knows that it’s not safe to text/live stream while driving. However, the penalties for drivers who break this law are not very steep. Currently, the West Virginia traffic code does not list specific violations for live streaming. However, our state does have specific laws for texting or using a non-hands-free device while driving. The first offense is $100, the second offense is $200, and the third offense is $300. The third offense also comes with the possibility of points against your license. These fines don’t seem too strict considering that our fines for littering are much stronger. If you are convicted of littering, on your first offense, you could lose points on your license, and your second offense may result in community service. I hate a litter bug at as much as the next fella, but I think a distracted driver should be penalized more. Granted, that is my opinion.

Sadly, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers is on the rise. In these accidents, injuries or fatalities are likely.

UPDATE

 

Since we originally wrote this blog, there has been another tragedy making national headlines regarding Live Streaming while driving. Obdulia Sanchez, 18, of California was broadcasting live on Instagram while driving her car. She lost control and crashed the car into a fence. It eventually flipped in a nearby field. Her sister, 14 and a friend, also 14, were ejected from the car. They were not wearing seatbelts.

Sanchez continued to film after the accident and addressed the people watching the video. She addressed the fact that she (likely) killed her sister in the accident. She also mentioned that she was probably going to go to jail for life for what occurred. The other 14-year-old passenger in the car survived.

One thing that does set this example apart from the others is that Sanchez was arrested after the accident for a suspected DUI and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. She may have been under the influence of alcohol while driving.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, issued the following statement to NBC News after the accident:

“We’re deeply saddened by this tragedy. We urge people to use our reporting tools if they see any content or behavior that puts anyone’s safety at risk. We want to interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us, and we will also notify law enforcement if we see a threat that requires an immediate response. We suggest people contact emergency services if they become aware of a situation where the authorities can help.”

If you’ve been injured in a wreck because of a distracted driver, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk at a different time, fill out this form and call us at a later time.

Blind Spot Monitoring Leading the Blind

As I look back on 2016, I realize that it has been my busiest travel year by far. I know this because of the number of cars I have rented according to my phone’s Bluetooth pairings. My phone has been paired with more cars than Taylor Swift has been paired with bad guys.  Whether it was a trip for business or pleasure, I was in and out of a lot of different cars this year. I am also in the process of buying a new car, so I have test driven many cars, too. Not to mention all the fun I had looking at cars while attending auto shows. While I have never driven anything too exotic, I did get to drive and see a variety of cars. I drove everything in 2016 from a Ram 3500 dually, to a Hyundai Tucson that was clinging for every last ounce of life it may have had. Along the way, there were a few things that really stood out about these various vehicles.

One of the greatest things I noticed was that the Nissan Altima is a fuel miser. It’s a midsize sedan yet it managed almost 40 mpg on the highway when I drove it to Cleveland, Ohio. However, because it had a CVT transmission, there was a constant whine. It was most noticeable at low speeds. The whine was at its worst when I drove around downtown Cleveland. The city of Cleveland hadn’t experienced that much whining since The Indians lost the World Series.  I also drove a Jeep Cherokee. While it was not as efficient as the Altima, it was much more comfortable. Plus, it had heated seats and a heated steering wheel. However, at a toll booth, the emergency brake accidentally activated and I thought for sure the car had been hacked. Overall, my favorite car to drive was the Camry. I never thought I would say that, but it was very quick and fun.

The worst car driving experience for the thus year was when I took a Mazda 3 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my friend Shawn. I want to be very clear, the Mazda 3 is not a bad car. It just was not the car for us. We are both tall, large men and this compact car is not made for larger people. I hit my head every time I entered the vehicle, it was very underpowered, and during a very heavy rainstorm, I was certain we wouldn’t make it back home. While the overall experience with the tiny Mazda was not favorable, it did have one feature that no other car I drove this year had…Blind Spot Monitoring.

If you’ve never driven a car with Blind Spot Monitoring, it’s neat. A Bling Spot Monitoring system is self-explanatory. It’s a system that uses sensors to detect other cars or objects in your blind spots. For most vehicles, an icon in your side view mirrors will illuminate when there is an object in your blind spot. In the Mazda, the system is a little more advanced because it chimes if the driver activates a turn signal while something is in the blind spot. I will admit, this feature took some getting used to for me. By the end of my trip I was really starting to like the feature, and possibly getting too used to using it.

Earlier, I mentioned that I was in a rain storm so bad that I wasn’t positive that I’d make it back alive. Well, it was on the way home from Philadelphia, near the city of Baltimore, when the heavens opened up, and my little compact car didn’t want to play in the water. Trying to drive in the storm was nearly impossible. The rain was so strong that visibility was reduced to mere inches in front of the car. Looking back at the situation now, I can see that we should have simply pulled off the road. However, I was on an adrenaline high from meeting Television’s Stephen Amell at the Philadelphia Comic Con and was not about to sit idly by as other motorists beat me to the West Virginia line.

One thing I did not realize in advance was that the sensors for the Blind Spot Monitoring system don’t work well in adverse weather. For instance, if the sensors are dirty, covered in snow, or, ssi benefitsas in my situation, surrounded by torrential downpours, they won’t work as intended. I learned my lesson after I nearly sideswiped a Chevy Cobalt. It’s safe to say that most consumers are not aware of this issue. We tend to become too reliant on these driving aids. I think it’s safe to assume that few people under 25 have ever driven a car without ABS or traction control. While these aides to make driving easier and safer, they take control away from the driver. It’s possible that a driver may panic in a situation when a driving aid fails because they are not accustomed to driving without it.  Most manufacturers will list these limitations in the owner’s manual; but, let’s be honest…a lot of people don’t read those. This, however, may not be the biggest issue with driving aids.

If you’ve read my blogs in the past you’ll likely know that I have an obsession with cars. I stay up way past my bedtime most nights researching cars on YouTube and Autotrader. Because of this obsession, I have a bank of useless car knowledge. With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I learned how some cars are sold without all of the available safety features. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet though. All cars sold today now have airbags, seatbelts and the like. The issue is when cars are sold without electronic driver’s aids, but the owner believes that the car is equipped with the feature.

I am not trying to say that certain car companies are trying to do a bait and switch on consumers. There are few reasons why this disconnect can happen. One of the main reasons is that car companies have special names for each feature. Let’s use Subaru as an example. Subaru has one of the best Crash Avoidance Systems according to the IIHS. It’s called EyeSight. This feature is an automatic braking system for the car that works well. Subaru has something similar for the back of its cars which is similar but sold and packaged differently. It’s called the Reverse Autobrake. Here’s where things get tricky.

EyeSight is not standard on our example car, the Legacy, at any trim level. However, the Reverse Autobrake is standard on the most expensive trim levels, the 2.5i Limited, and the 3.6R Limited. To add EyeSight to these two trims, there is an additional cost of over $1,500. To complicate the matter, even if the car is not equipped with the EyeSight feature, it can still be marketed as auto/self-braking because of the rear system. This can easily create confusion for the customer. Consumers see that they have semi-autonomous features and they think that it’s for every aspect of the car. Some may say that it’s the responsibility of the consumer to make an educated decision about the car they are buying. I consider myself very educated when it comes to the automotive industry. However, I struggled to interpret Subaru’s website and available features.

As cars evolve, we need to make sure we have a better understanding of how their autonomous features work. Be sure to do your research, and ask lots of questions when you purchase your next car. However, if you’ve believed you were injured in an accident because of faulty driving aid, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you aren’t available to talk now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a better time.

What You Need To Know About Medical Payments Coverage

When I was younger I always hated paying my insurance. The cost was always extremely high, and the people I interacted with were very rude. I always tried to get the bare minimum jan dilscoverage. It wasn’t until I was much older, and had spent some time working around personal injury attorneys, that I realized how wrong I was about insurance coverage. Though my car is 12 years old, paid for, and worth less than stock in Samsung, I still have full coverage on the car. I also carry high property damage coverage and high underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Though I’ve been proactive about my insurance, I’ve learned that it may not be enough. Recently I learned about Medical Payments coverage. It turns out that my current policy may still not be adequate.

Medical Payments coverage is a good supplement for many insurance policies because it is often affordable, and it can help pay for medical bills if you are injured in an accident. If you are hit by a driver with state minimum coverage, this could be even more beneficial because their insurance coverage likely won’t be enough to pay for your medical bills. It get’s better, though. Depending on your insurance provider, Medical Payments coverage may also cover the following:

  • Passengers in your car
  • Injuries sustained while you are walking or riding a bike
  • Prosthetics
  • If you’re injured as a passenger in another person’s car
  • Dental care
  • And more

In addition to providing coverage for medical bills, some Medical Payments coverage will also cover funeral costs. Once again, every provider is different, so it’s important to check your policy.

You may still be asking yourself if this is something you really need. Well, It can be helpful if you look at the numbers. If you are hit by a driver with perfect insurance coverage, then you are pretty lucky. However, the number of people who drive without insurance is staggering. It is as low as 4% in Maine and Massachusetts. However, that is much lower than the national average of 12% and far better than the worst state in the union, Oklahoma, at 26%. Nationally, there is a 1 in 8 chance that the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance.

Federal Help for DisabledSome may look at the numbers over the years and state that the average is trending downward. That’s true, but it’s not just uninsured motorists you have to worry about. Underinsured motorists are also an issue. There are a lot of cut-rate insurance providers currently. Many motorists will join these insurance providers because of cheap their coverage is, and how accessible they are for individuals with bad credit. In other words, there may be more people with insurance now then there was ten years ago, but many of these insured drivers have very little coverage.

If you’re intrigued by Medical Payments coverage, be sure to talk to your insurance provider about it. Most agents will agree that you want at least $25,000 worth of coverage. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us today to learn more about the services we provide. Our consultation is free. Simply call 1-877-526-3457, If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

 

Car Value Depreciation, and your Personal Injury Claim

When I was in college I drove a first generation off-red Dodge Neon. I loved the car. It was not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was fun to drive. As I owned this car during the height of the “Fast Furious” craze, I decorated it with neon lights, an aftermarket exhaust, and I even had a vanity plate that read “NeonJon.” The car was not without flaw. One day, on the way to my local mall, a lady hit me, and in the process killed NeonJon. So, it was time for a new car. The process of financing my first car took a lot longer than I expected. I eventually found a 2002 Kia Optima at a local dealer. I wasn’t in love with this car, but I was desperate, and it made a cool sound when I left the keys in the ignition. So, I bought it. In my haste to buy a new car I didn’t take the time to properly review the car’s actual value nor did I take the time to research the depreciation value. It turns out that this information was really important four months later when I totaled the car by hitting a tree on Valentine’s Day.

Like a good motorist, I called my insurance agent to let them know what was going on. A few weeks later I met with an accessor, and then the bad news came shortly after. My insurance provider, who was supposed to be on my side, would not cover the total cost of the vehicle. Further, I even purchased gap insurance through my lender, and that was not enough to cover the cost of the totaled Kia. I was lucky, though, I only had to pay $25 out of pocket to cover my car. Granted that was in 2006 dollars, and I was a poor college student, but still, I was lucky. This is not always the case. Most people won’t get away with paying fewer than $30 to cover the cost of their totaled car.

Here is a better example of how extreme this type of situation can be. Currently, the manufacturer on the market with the worst depreciation value is Nissan. There are several reasons that contribute to this, but one of the main factors is the number of cars that manufacturer makes. Nissan sells a lot of cars each year, and many of them are sold to fleets. This causes the value to depreciate quickly. Let’s say that in October of last year you purchased a new Nissan Rogue SL from your local dealer. Currently, the retail value of that car, per NADA, is $27,800. According to my local dealer, the price for an equivalent new model of this car (2017) is $33,835.  So, that car is worth $6,035 less than it was 6 months ago. Granted, in this example, you are buying this car with no money down, and no dealer or manufacturer incentives. While this is never recommended by lenders, many people still purchase vehicles this way.  If you total your vehicle, or if your hit by another motorist and the vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company is likely only going to pay you what the car is currently worth, or even less than that. Further, car financing is becoming unstable right now. More people are getting longer loans with higher interest rates than ever before. If you financed your Rouge at a high-interest rate for a long period of time, you could owe even more. Worst of all, you could be making payments on a car you don’t even own any longer.

So, what are you to do? One of the best things you can do is get GAP insurance on your car. While GAP may not cover the entire value of the car, in my situation listed above, the GAP insurance was the difference in me paying thousands for my totaled car, and just $25. Some lenders may require you to get GAP insurance when you finance the car. In this situation, it may be possible to finance the additional cost into your loan. However, not all lenders offer GAP. Your insurance provider may offer it to you when you register your new car.

Regardless of whether it’s your insurance company or the insurance company of the individual who hit your car, you don’t have to accept the offer that is made for the property damage. Do not cash the check until you are satisfied. Be sure to get your own estimates on the value of your car, and even get repair estimates. Some companies are quick to total a car, even when it is not beyond repair.

One of the smartest things you can do is to research the car you want to buy in detail before you sign the loan paperwork. You definitely don’t want to get upside down in a car loan. Try not to finance negative equity from a previous car. This can cause a lot of issues if you quickly total your new car. Also, look at residual values and see which cars depreciate the best. This is also true if you lease a car. You will likely get a better lease term if you choose a car with a high residual value. It’s also smart to put some money down on a car and finao make smart decisions and to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into with financing. Also, research your insurance company too. If you are hurt in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn more about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fnce for a shorter term.

Buying a new car can be a lot of fun. However, it’s important till out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

Taxes and Your Personal Injury Settlement

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring just arrived, and a lot of us are preparing for tax season and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies this time of year. I’m a simple fella from Parkersburg, West Virginia. It only takes me about 30 minutes to complete my tax return. As a single person with no kids, I keep my expectations low regarding returns. If I am lucky, I’ll have enough money in my refund to buy some new bedding and possibly get some new sconces for my bedroom. Not everyone has it as simple as I do. For instance, my sister once won a “Rock, Paper, Scissors Contest” sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, you read that correctly. The result of her “championship” was a free trip for two to Las Vegas for the national Rock Paper Scissor Championship Tournament. Once again, this is all real. It was on TV and everything. Between the flight, hotel, and other prizes, the trip was valued at over $4,000. Come tax time, my sister had to count this as income and pay taxes on the prize. Luckily for my sister, she didn’t have to pay too much on a $4,000 prize. However, if you are awarded something like a new car, or a fancy vacation, or really, most prizes valued over a specific amount, you must pay taxes on the prize. This is why so many people forfeit whatever base model car they win on “The Price is Right.” Recently, a friend of mine asked me if she would have to count her personal injury settlement as income the way prize winners do. I honestly didn’t know, so I thought I’d dive into this topic deeper.

I was hoping to find a simple yes or no answer when I started researching this topic. However, I realized I was dealing with both taxes and law, so I was a tad naïve to think anything would be simple. The quick answer no, you don’t have to pay income tax on your personal Injury settlement. So, you may be thinking, “are there exceptions to the rule? We’re dealing with the government, so, of course, there are exceptions.

The official statement from the IRS is as follows:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

(BUT)

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness, you must include in income that portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year(s) to the extent the deduction(s) provided a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid in more than one year, you must allocate on a pro rata basis the part of the proceeds for medical expenses to each of the years you paid medical expenses. See Recoveries in Publication 525 for details on how to calculate the amount to report. The tax benefit amount should be reported as “Other Income” on line 21 of Form 1040. (read the entire IRS Publication here)

If you have received a settlement from a personal injury claim, and you’re not sure if you used any of your settlement for medical expenses, or if you just have general tax questions, it may be beneficial to consult an accountant. Keep in mind that many accountants focus on taxes just like we focus on Personal Injury Law. Another option is a step by step accounting program. Many of these pop up during tax season, and some offer live help either by text chat or video conference.

If you’d like to know more about the types of services we offer, or if you’d like to talk to someone about your personal injury claim, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’re not available to chat now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later time.

What You Need to Know About Rental Car Recalls

Last year I rented approximately 12 cars. This year I plan to rent just as many. I enjoy renting because there is far less wear and tear on my own car. I am also in the market for a new vehicle. So, renting allows me to do more than just test drive a car, I get to spend a few days with a potential car. Honestly, my joy of renting goes far beyond testing cars. When I pull up to my local Enterprise location I channel Ryan Bingham from the film “Up in the Air.” They sometimes allow me to choose my own car, and it feels almost Godlike. Maybe I take things a bit too far at the rental agency, but it’s one of my few joys in life. I recently found out some troubling news that made renting a little less majestic. Until the spring of last year, rental car companies did not have to abide by recall notices. In other words, they could rent cars to people that were possibly dangerous.

First the good news; it’s no longer allowed. It’s federal law now that a rental car company must fix any recalled car before it’s rented out to the public. Once again, until the late spring of 2016, it was common practice to rent defective cars to individuals. In the past, there were several cases of individuals dying as a result of renting a recalled car. However, the case that eventually led to the federal law occurred 10 years ago. In 2004 Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed when the cabin of their rented Chrysler PT Cruiser when it filled with the smoke. The driver was blinded by the smoke, lost control, crossed the median, and struck a semi truck. The parents of the victims sued Enterprise Rent-a-Car citing negligence. The PT Cruiser was involved in a recall one month prior to the rental. There was an issue with a leaky power steering hose that could result in a fire. That is what occurred with these two victims, and eventually, Enterprise admitted to their wrongdoing. In 2010 the parents were awarded $15 million dollars in damages.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely dealt with a safety recall before. Most people know that the cost of these repairs are covered by the manufacturer. This includes the recall issued by Chrysler back in 2004 for the PT Cruiser. If that is the case, why didn’t Enterprise have the vehicle fixed? The following was originally published in a findlaw.com blog in 2010:

According to a sworn statement by Mark Matias, manager of Enterprise’s Northern California area, it was regular company procedure to go ahead and rent a recalled car, even before the repair work had been done. Matais said the known company policy was this, “you’ve got to keep booking because you don’t know when you are going to get a car back. But then, of course, you run short on vehicles, and if all you have are recalled vehicles on the lot, you rent them out. It was a given. The whole company did it.”

Matais concluded, “If a priority recall appears on the computer screen in the rental office, the employee is required to write the word ‘recall’ on a Post-it note and place it on the key in an area designated for non-rentals, but nothing prevents an employee from renting that vehicle.”

Twelve years later, thanks in part to efforts made by the parents of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, it’s illegal for a rental company with more than 35 cars in their fleet to rent you a defective car. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal for a dealer to sell you a car with recall notices.

If you’ve been injured because of a defective vehicle, give us a call today for a free consultation and take some time to learn about the services we offer. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a better time.

10 Driving Tips for the Last Minute shopper

It’s Christmas Eve, a Saturday, and our economy is doing better than it has in years. If you need to shop today, you may be experiencing the perfect storm of shopping hazards. It’s no secret that conditions on the road get worse as the Christmas Holiday draws near. People are impatient, traffic is a mess, and no one wants to pay attention to their surroundings. However, with a little preparation, and a clear mind, you too can shop safely this weekend. Here are 10 Driving Tips for the Last-Minute Shopper.

  1. Plan your trip in advance. Too often people waste time and get distracted by heading into a shopping center without a plan. Any major shopping center will be congested this weekend. Try to plan where you want to go in advance. I made the mistake of trying to buy a gift on my lunch break yesterday. This was a huge mistake. I had no time to get what I need and I was almost involved in two accidents. Plan your route out before you go, and try to make use of surface roads or roadways that may be less congested. I personally have a special way of getting to my local mall that saves a lot of time and avoids dangerous intersections.
  2. Don’t drive distracted. This is a perfect rule for any time of year, but especially the holidays. You’re going to be experiencing much more congestion than you are used to. There will be a lot more opportunities to wreck. No one needs to see your Snapchat photo of what it’s like to sit in traffic. From a social media standpoint, that’s basic. We all know what it feels like to sit in traffic. From a safety standpoint, you’re acting in a dangerous way that may end with you getting a ticket.
  3. Lock your doors. This may seem obvious, but take a second to make sure your key fob is actually locking your doors. A few years ago, my key fob failed, but I was unaware of it for several weeks. I used it to lock and unlock my doors. But I would always wait until I was a few steps away from the car to hit the button. It turns out that my car was still honking when I pushed the button, but the doors were not locking. As soon as you get out of your car, hit your lock button, and make sure your doors are indeed locked.
  4. Don’t rely on your driving aids alone. Backup cameras are fun, but they are meant to aid you in your reversing. Be sure to use your mirrors and look around you as well when backing out of a parking lot. Also, if there is a bunch of salt on the road, your cameras will probably
  5. Don’t show off your purchases to potential thieves. My car is always a mess and I don’t utilize my storage space properly. I have a lot of stuff in the back seat taking up space and my trunk is full. So, most thigs that I buy are out in the open for everyone to see. Further, my car has very large non-tinted windows. It’s almost as bad as putting a sign on the roof that reads “please rob me.” It is easy for thieves to look in my car and see my purchases. So, you and I both need to see what we can do to hide our stuff. I’ve always been jealous of SUV owners because so many of these vehicles have shades for the back of the vehicle. Plus, many SUVs have dark tinted windows in the back. Between the dark tint and the cargo shade, it’s almost impossible to see in the back of most SUVs. There are other ways to hide your belongings, though. Hide things under the seat, make use of glove boxes, or even simply cover your items with a coat or tasteful sweater.
  6. Try not to leave your auto in one spot for too long. I love shopping at the Easton Town Center in Columbus. It’s not so much a mall as it is a shopping destination. It’s kind of like Jurassic World meets retail therapy. I’ve been there for more than 8 hours in one trip before. I’ve left my car in the same are for the entire time too. In fact, I walked back with my purchases to the car, put them inside and then left to go have dinner and watch a movie. If a thief was watching my activity, he/she would notice that my car had sat for a while, and it would be a good opportunity for them to break into my car. As a side note, I claim to have been cursed with amazing taste, so criminals definitely want my purchases.
  7. Good lighting is a must for perfect selfies, safe parking. I tend to park as far away from the entrance of stores as possible. It keeps my car from getting scratched up by irresponsible motorists and rogue shopping carts, but it usually means poor lighting. If you’re in an area with poor lighting you’re more likely going to be a target for someone to attack you or break into your car. Plus, the closer to the store you park, the more likely your car will be on a surveillance camera. Thieves are less likely to steal if there are witnesses or cameras nearby.
  8. Shopping Buddies make great friends and security guards. It’s no secret that shopping alone during the holidays can be difficult. It’s always a good idea to take someone with you. A lot of men will likely ignore this because they feel as if they are invincible. I am a large guy who is 6’4.” But if I am by myself and have to fight a group of people or one Rhonda Rousey, I am not going to win. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  9. Be aware of where you’re shopping. Once again, I travel to Columbus to shop often. I know which communities to avoid. In larger cities, there are places to shop that are in safer areas than others. Try to avoid areas with higher crime rates if possible.
  10. If you’re going to use Social Media, don’t tag your location. I am a social media guru. I love it all and know how to use it quite well. Let’s say we were all hanging out at a large shopping center like the Easton Town Center in Columbus. Well, if I get on Instagram, I can simply type Easton Town Center and Instagram will show me all the most recent photos taken there. As luck would have it, the third picture that showed up was a photo of someone’s vehicle, parked next to a sign for the garage they were in. Their caption said that they would return in an hour. So, in one post, I knew exactly where their vehicle would be, how long they’d be gone, the license number, and when I clicked on his account, I saw exactly what he looked like, so I would know if he was near his vehicle. Plus, he parked in an area where there would not be many witnesses. This is not smart. Do not geotag yourself.

Use these tips, common sense, and do a little planning this weekend and you’ll likely be fine. However, if you are involved in an accident, or if you’re injured, call us for a free consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If now isn’t a good time, fill out this form and we will be happy contact you at your desired time.

Driving Tired: A Comprehensive Look at a Growing Epidemic Among Motorists

Recently while trying to kill some time before a social event, I played a game of Would You Rather with a group of friends. For those who may be unfamiliar with the game, participants are given two situations in which they have to decide which they’d rather do. For instance; would you rather have the ability to fly or would you rather be invisible. You have to decide which situations you’d rather have or do. Would you rather be 10 pounds lighter or 10% smarter? Sometimes the questions can get very specific and very difficult. For instance, would you rather spend an evening with the Kardashians in which you have to compliment themKardashin every six minutes, or spend 8 months in jail? There is no right answer to that question. However, I was asked a question during this game that was very difficult to answer. I believe my response was different than what most people would say. I was asked: would you rather be given an all new Dodge Challenger Hellcat with free insurance for life or be guaranteed a full nights rest every night for the remainder of your life. That was tough. It’s my dream car versus something I desperately need. I chose to be able to sleep easily the rest of my life.

Why would someone as materialistic as me choose sleep over the car I so desperately want? Truth be told, I have a reliable car already. While I’ll admit that an eleven-year-old Chevy Malibu isn’t going to be featured in the next Fast and Furious movie, it gets me where I need to be. Sleep is something that I rarely have. Full disclosure, if I get more than four hours of sleep per night, I consider myself lucky. I find that I am actually jealous of people who don’t have difficulty sleeping. I’ve tried medication before, but it either didn’t work, or it made me not function at all.

Some people might be asking why this is such an issue. Obviously, our bodies need sleep. That’s why we do it. But the lack of sleep is very unhealthy. WebMD States that lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight, become depressed, have impaired judgement, and possibly worst of all, and have bad skin.

sleepy dogIf I were to do an informal poll in any group, most people would agree that driving while intoxicated is wrong. Alcohol impairs your judgement, delays your reaction time, and makes it difficult to concentrate. Lack of sleep impairs your judgement, delays your reaction time, and makes it difficult to concentrate. So, those two symptoms are the same, yet, a lot more people will drive a car with lack of sleep than they will while intoxicated. And of course, driving while intoxicated is illegal while driving while sleep deprived isn’t. Or is it? It actually depends on where you live. Take Arkansas for instance. This state Classifies “fatigued driving” as an offense under negligent homicide- punishable by a class A misdemeanor- when the driver involved in a fatal accident has been without sleep for 24 consecutive hours.

How bad is it? Well, it’s much worse than you may think. The CDC is currently attempting to make the public aware of the severity of the problem. They shared this statistic on their website:  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.4 However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. In comparison, the CDC states that in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. So, while the number of deaths relating to intoxication is much higher than that of drowsy drivers, it’s still a major issue on our roadways.

This issue impacts far more drivers than we realize also. The CDC website also states that more than 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. That number is staggering. In addition to individuals who have traditional sleep disorders, some people may be at risk if they are simply in a situation that is not traditional. Persons taking part in shiftwork, commercial/long haul drivers, and persons on road trips may experience issues with drowsy driving. Further, any person taking a new medication that causes drowsiness may be impacted too.

Like drunk driving before it, drowsy driving is easy to prevent. Follow these easy tips to prevent drowsy driving:

  1. Plan a sleep schedule. It’s easy to do. Actually, a lot more adults are setting bedtimes In fact, it’s recommended to do this to keep your body on track. Going to bed at the same time every night will help you sleep better.
  2. Don’t let FOMO get the best of you. FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is impacting more people each year. I have a lot of issues with this. One of the reasons I can’t sleep is because I am using social media every night instead of sleeping. I don’t want to miss a good Tweet or a photo on Instagram. Snapchat has ruined my life because I follow so many interesting people. But, it can wait. Most doctors will actually recommend sleeping in a room without a television or a mobile phone. My personal doctor even stated that I shouldn’t eat in my bed. I didn’t listen of course, but it makes sense. Your mind should associate bed with sleep. If you are doing everything else in there, it will confuse your mind.
  3. When driving long distances, be sure to split the duties with someone else, or make other arrangements. There is nothing more fun than going on a road trip with some friends. Just make sure to split the driving shifts. I have a friend who really struggles to let other people drive when on a trip. It has something to do with him wanting to constantly feel in control. It’s quite annoying and actually unsafe. Let someone else take the wheel. I’ll be traveling early next month by myself. My trip is about 8 hours total. While I could easily drive that by myself, I am stopping part of the way through to spend the night in Charlotte. I will also do this on the way home.
  4. Keep your mind awake. Have you ever noticed that if you’re driving in your car with the radio off and the windows up, that it’s the perfect recipe for drowsiness? I have caught myself being less alert in these situations. Recently on a trip home from Pennsylvania, I noticed that I was starting to feel sluggish. I stopped by a local gas station, purchased a soda, and downloaded the entire 2nd season of the Serial Podcast. I was alert for the rest of the trip. The reason, the podcast was very interesting, and this helped me stay alert. Plus I learned a lot along the way. Even if podcasts are not your thing, listen to high energy music, or even roll the windows down.
  5. Take a nap at a rest stop. I think too often people are embarrassed to sleep in their cars at rest stops. That is one of the primary reasons they were invented. Pull over for a few hours and get some sleep. For me, that can be a little difficult because my car is small and I am not. But, I’d much rather take an uncomfortable nap than fall asleep at the wheel.
  6. Call for a ride. Two years ago I would have suggested calling a taxi, but there are so many more options now. Use a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber. Or if you really want to treat yourself, use UberBlack or UberLux. You should reward yourself for making a responsible decision. For the people who may complain about the cost of a taxi or Uber, it really beats the alternative…death.
  7. Don’t rely on driving aids. Cars are currently so advanced. They will help you park, they will let you know if there is someone in your blind spot, and some cars can even wake you up if you leave your lane. You might say that these driving aids are going to save a lot of lives. While it is likely that these systems have helped people avoid accidents, they don’t always work. Recently, while test driving a car equipped with a lane departure warning system, the system would not engage with the reprehensive was trying to demonstrate it for me. The popular Automotive Television show Top Gear also showed how these systems can fail on their program. So, you really can’t rely on a driving aid to avoid an accident. The best safety feature is an alert and active driver.

Overall, it’s really a difficult time to be a driver. In 2016, cars are much safe than before, but drivers are not. If you’re involved in an accident with a driver who was negligent because of a lack of sleep, the insurance may try to make things difficult for you. This is especially true if you have injuries as a result of the accident. Call us today for a fee consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather contact us after hours, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a more convenient time.

Leading Acid Reflux Drugs May Lead to Chronic Kidney Disease, Renal Failure

Our firm has three areas of concentration; Personal Injury, Social Security, and Veterans Disability. Part of my job involves talking to Veterans about their disabilityPi Photo Shoot 1 122 benefits. One common trend among Veterans who served in Iraq is gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. So many Veterans from this era have gastrointestinal issues. It’s so prominent that issues like GERD, acid reflux etc. are presumptive conditions for Vets who served in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations. When you speak to as many Veterans as I do, you start to notice trends. One trend I noticed quickly amongst this group was how they were told to treat the condition. Almost every Veteran I spoke to was given Prilosec, Nexium, or some generic version of the aforementioned products. These products are grouped together as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI). Recent reports state that these products may be much more harmful than previously thought.

Before we get into the danger, let’s first look at how a PPI like Nexium works. With the exception of the three years that I was obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, I have no medical background, so I did what everyone else without a medical degree does, I went to WebMD.  Their website states that Proton Pump Inhibitors reduce the production of acid in the stomach. This leaves little acid in the stomach juice so that if your stomach juice backs up into the esophagus, it is less irritating. This allows the esophagus to heal.

To be honest, I have acid reflux. It’s actually been diagnosed twice in my past. Each time I was given a PPI and told to take it x amount of times per day, and I would be healed. Both times I took the pills and they didn’t do anything. I realized that they weren’t for me. So I stopped taking them. I instead modified my diet. As a native West Virginian, it was a hard to give up pepperoni rolls, but I’m no longer up all night with acid reflux pain.  It turns out that my refusal to take the medication may have been a good thing.

Do any research on these medications and you’ll find out how safe they are. Side effects generally include fever; cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat; stomach pain, gas; nausea, vomiting, mild diarrhea; or a headache. If it’s so safe, why is it in the news right now? A trip to the Prilosec website offers some insight into this issue.

Procter and Gamble are the makers of Prilosec and Prilosec OCT. The latter is the version you can buy over the counter. They must be serious about the issues with GERD because they hired a medical expert, Larry the Cable Guy to endorse their product. (He seems like a Hobart man.) Kidding aside, I thought it would be important to see how much these companies are doing to educate their consumers about risks associated with prolonged use. Beneath the scrolling banner featuring Larry the Cable Guy, and next to the link for a coupon, I found the FAQ’s and warnings. In this section, it states very strictly that Prilosec should only be taken for a 14 day period. If your issues last for more than 14 days, contact your medical care provider. The Nexium website isn’t as fancy as the Prilosec site. They don’t have any comedians endorsing their product, and more importantly, they didn’t have any warnings about the length of time recommended for the product. This is in sharp contrast to the Prilosec site that had several warnings. Further, Prilosec is making use of their retargeting campaign to warn consumers about the length of time associated with their product. All of their banners state that you shouldn’t take it for more than 14 days.

Pi Photo Shoot 1 099At this point, you must be wondering what the big deal is about PPIs. For a drug that has no major side effects, there is an awful lot of talk about going on right now about the issues regarding extended use. My own mother has used Prilosec and Nexium  for years. Her doctor still recommends that she take it every day. So, it can’t be that bad, right? Well, it turns out that it can be that bad, and actually much worse. A recent Consumer Reports article sheds some light on the issue with the extended use of PPIs. Their article, which references a recent study by the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, states that up to 70 percent of people who take a PPI might not need such a potent acid reducer and could get just as much—or more—relief from a safer heartburn remedy.

The study goes on to state that extended use of these drugs can lead to heart disease and dementia. Regarding Kidney Disease, one section of the Consumer Reports Article really stood out: researchers followed nearly 200,000 patients treated through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for five years and found a roughly 20 percent higher risk of kidney disease in those who took PPIs compared with those treated with a different class of heartburn drugs called H2 blockers, such as Pepcid AC and Zantac.

While there is no definite reason why this is occurring, it’s suggested that it may be related to PPIs reducing stomach acid. A person with reduced stomach levels may have issues absorbing iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B-12. Once again, my mother has been taking a PPI for years and has issues with iron, magnesium, and B-12 deficiency. She also has chronic kidney disease.  The report also mentions that a PPI may lead to an allergic reaction that causes swelling inside the kidney and keeps it from working properly.

The risks don’t stop there. Consumer Reports goes on to state that stomach acid kills bacteria. As I mentioned earlier, a PPI works by reducing stomach acid. If you have less stomach acid then you are more likely to get infections from bacteria. According to the research, this may increase your risk of bacterial pneumonia, food poisoning from campylobacter and salmonella bacteria, and an infection caused by the bacterium clostridium difficult which can cause severe diarrhea, fever, and even death.

There is a lot to digest here. The first thing that came to mind for me was my mom. Doctors have not been able to determine why her kidneys are failing, and this may be the missing link. Personally, I don’t plan on taking a PPI anytime soon, especially when there are other options available. Be sure to ask your doctor about what steps you should take now to make sure you are safely treating for any gastrointestinal issue. If you have been taking a PPI for a long period of time, you may want to ask a medical professional if it’s safe to continue.

So, what should you do if you have chronic kidney disease and were prescribed a PPI like Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid? Well, there are some lawsuits pending at this time against the parent companies of all of these products. These are considered mass tort claims. But you may wonder how the companies may be liable. For one, the products were not labeled properly, this is especially true of the over the counter version. Only now are they pushing the 14-day limit by way of advertising. Other lawsuits have cited the manufacturer didn’t properly warn consumers about the side effects. If you took any of these medications for an extended period of time and are now suffering from kidney disease, give us a call for a free case evaluation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted at a more convenient time, click here and a representative will call you.