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Highway Speeding Deaths Up as Other Crash Causes Drop

Traffic fatalities are down during the past 15 years, but speed-related deaths are up slightly. These numbers may seem inconsistent, but perspective from both sides of the highway speed limits issue lends some understanding.

Highway safety advocates got together about seven years ago to devise a plan to attack speeding and lower the injury and death rates from high-speed crashes. In the ensuing time, seven states raised their speed limits while only two increased speeding fines, according to USA Today.

The progress made in attempting to cut down on speeding in the United States has stalled, as other issues like distracted driving have taken a more prominent role among activists.

Progress has been made in other safety-related areas. There has been a 23 percent drop in deaths related to the non-use of seat belts since 2000. Drunk-driving related deaths have dropped about 3 percent in that same time period.

In fact, highway deaths were down about 3 percent in 2010 from 2009, even as the number of miles driven ticked up almost 1 percent. But speed-related deaths have gone up about 7 percent since 2000.

The fatality rate on American highways fell in 2010 to the lowest point since the government started tracking the data in the 1940s. The rate is calculated as deaths per 100 million miles driven. In 2010, the number dropped to 1.09 from 1.13 the year before.

“Last year’s drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news, and it proves that we can make a difference,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”

By failing to mention speeding as a major factor in highway fatalities, LaHood underscores the frustration advocates face in trying to draw attention to the issue.

Groups that advocated for raising the speed limit in 1995 point to statistics showing that overall deaths have fallen dramatically since the federal government repealed the limit.

“The bottom line is that the roads have never been safer,” said John Bowman with the National Motorists Association, which lobbied for the repeal of the national speed limit. “Traffic fatality rates have been steadily dropping since 1995…They’ve been steadily decreasing, and that’s with higher speed.”

Speed limits should be set by state highway engineers and local public works directors, Bowman said. He also noted that aggressive driving should be more of a focus than simply speeding.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago car accident lawyer and Chicago car accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Truck Driver Firing Brings Fines, Reinstatement

A truck driver who stood up for following the rules will be reinstated in his job after being fired when he pointed out safety concerns with his truck brakes and refused to drive when he was over DOT regulated hours.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigated the case of a Sauk Village, Ill., truck driver who was fired by Interline Logistics Group for failing to follow dispatch instructions. OSHA found the company fired the employee because he or she reported a safety issue and then refused to break a DOT rule about work hours.

The DOT’s new work rules include 12 fewer hours a week for drivers to work, among other provisions. Because of the new hours of service rules, many drivers will be making the difficult decision to tell their supervisor they cannot drive for another day until their workweek resets.

OSHA ordered the company to pay the man almost $200,000 in back pay, lawyer’s fees and compensatory and punitive damages. Interline Logistics Group is prohibited from retaliating against the employee.

The ruling should serve as a warning to companies that punish their employees for reporting safety concerns and following federal guidelines. The whistleblower in this case was not simply looking out for his or her own safety, but also for the safety of other people on the road.

Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer and Chicago car accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Children with Birth Injuries May Not Show Symptoms Immediately

It is difficult to know what to do when a parent suspects something went wrong in the delivery room, but a good first step is to understand the causes and symptoms of birth injuries.

Birth injury symptoms often do not appear in the delivery room and sometimes they do not show up for weeks or months. Late-showing symptoms include delays in reaching milestones of child development like sitting up, standing and walking.

Spotting birth injury symptoms often is a result of knowing what is not happening in the child’s development. Each developmental stage has its own milestones that a growing baby should be meeting for movement, visual cues, and hearing.

A one-month old should be able to bring its hands up to its mouth, for example, and turn toward familiar sounds and voices. A three-month-old, on the other hand, should be able to follow moving objects with its eyes and support its upper-body with its arms when lying on its stomach. There are more milestones for seven-month old children and still more for children at 12 months. Keeping an eye on where children are in their movement, visual and hearing milestones can be an important part of understanding whether a child may have a birth injury.

The next step is to understand the causes of birth injury. There are many natural movements that happen in a woman’s body when she delivers a baby and occasionally the contortions and contractions can be hard on an infant. Other times an infant can be injured during birth because of an error or negligence by the doctor, nurse or midwife in charge.

There are several factors that can potentially contribute to an injury to the infant in the delivery room:
• Negligence or improper care
• Lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain during delivery or labor
• Baby’s shoulders get stuck behind mother’s pubic bone and proper techniques are not used during delivery to free the shoulder
• High birth weight babies can be injured during a vaginal birth
• A fetus with a large head can prolong delivery
• Exposure to dangerous birthplace chemicals
• Incorrect use of surgical instruments
• Baby presents in a way other than headfirst

Any of these problems can occur in a delivery room. Oftentimes a parent will not even know that anything went wrong during the delivery. Since it may be months before the baby shows any symptoms, parents need to get legal advice when they are concerned about birth injuries

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago birth injury lawyer and Chicago birth injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

New Crash Test Dummy Helps Examine Restraint Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added a new member to its family this year – a 10 year old.

The new crash test dummy helps to illuminate the safety issues faced by an under-studied group of motor vehicle passengers. There has been extensive research focused on keeping adults safe in car crashes. There also has been careful research done on how to keep infants, toddlers and other children safe.

The dummy tests restraint devices to see how a higher weight child manages crash energy. The 77-pound crash test dummy was developed in conjunction with updated safety seat requirements that were changed to stay up to date with the latest child restraint technology. The latest rule from the NHTSA expands child safety seat standards so that even children weighing between 65 and 80 pounds need to be in car seats or boosters.

Safety groups recommend keeping children in safety seats or booster seats for as long as possible. This can mean that children as old as 12 will need to be in a booster if they are not tall enough to ride in the seat like an adult.

Chicago personal injury lawyer Robert Briskman is experienced at helping people who have been hurt in auto accidents. To learn more, call 877-595-HURT (4878) or visit more of

Safety Advocates Push Back Against Movement to Allow Longer, Heavier Trucks on Highways

Truck safety advocates are rallying against proposals to allow longer and heavier tractor-trailers on American highways.

A bipartisan group of House members recently passed an amendment to H.R. 7 that will cut restrict the ability of trucking companies to fill the highways with heavier and more dangerous trucks.

The amendment also struck a provision in the bill called the “state option” that would have allowed states to individually increase the weight limit for trucks by 17,000 pounds from 80,000 to 97,000. Opponents of the state option argued that each state legislature would be intimidated into signing the increase for fear of being seen as anti-business.

Statistics show that the heavier the trucks get, the less safe the roads become. Even though highway crash fatalities fell in 2010 to their lowest numbers since the 1940s, truck crash fatalities jumped 8.7 percent. In 2010, there were 3,675 people killed in accidents involving trucks – up from 3,380 in 2009. In 2007, 802 truck drivers lost their life while performing their job. That made the trucking and transportation industry among the most dangerous in the country, according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

The coalition argues that truck drivers are asked to meet demanding schedules often without enough rest or time at home. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently revised rules about truck drivers and the amount of rest they receive to ensure that commercial drivers are safe on the roads.

The new hours-of-service rules reduce the total amount a driver is allowed to work in a seven-day period from 82 hours down to 70 hours. There are also new provisions requiring drivers to rest more at night when the body’s natural instinct is to sleep. The new hours-of-service rules will be enforced by fines to the truck drivers and the companies that hire them.

Trucking lobbyists are pushing for longer combination vehicles like triple-trailer trucks that could get more than 100 feet long and potentially weigh more than 100,000 pounds. There are also proposals for trucks called turnpike doubles that can get up to 120-feet long and weigh more than 135,000 pounds.

Double trailer trucks are significantly more likely to be involved in fatal highway crashes than traditional single-trailer trucks, according to the Truck Safety Coalition. The risk goes up 200 percent for highway crashes and it goes up 32 percent for highway fatalities when an additional trailer is tacked to the back of the first trailer.

Statistics from the Truck Safety Coalition indicate that trucks weighing 80,000 pounds get into fatal crashes about twice as often as those weighing only 50,000 pounds.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago truck accident lawyer and Chicago truck accident attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

OSHA Pushes for Tighter Rules on Texting and Driving While at Work

Advances in smartphone technology have helped improve businesses in countless ways during the past several years. Vendors can use smartphones to charge credit cards on the spot. Investors can check stock prices from the back of a taxi. Purchasing departments can order more of just about anything from just about anywhere.

But when employees try to use those smartphones while driving for their jobs, it becomes a safety issue both for the employee and for the public.

That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is launching a new initiative aimed at stopping workers from texting while driving for work.

OSHA can claim great strides in worker safety over the years. It is a sign of how safe the workplace is becoming that motor vehicle collisions have become the leading cause of death in the American workforce. Distracted driving is part of the reason OSHA has been unable to bring down the numbers of workers killed and injured at work while in the car.

Many industries require some amount of driving for work. Sales representatives have to get out there and chase down leads. Caterers put employees in vans to deliver food across town or across the state. Photographers need to be on the scene for photo shoots and large animal veterinarians have to visit barns throughout their territory. Whether an employee is being paid for mileage while driving for work does not make a difference. If they are doing something work related and using their car to get it done, then it is work.

OSHA is asking all employers to crack down on assignments that require or even encourage employees to text while driving. That means not sending texts to employees while they are driving and ensuring that texting from the road is not a necessary part of the job.

Employers will face more tort claims and worker compensation costs as texting while driving becomes an accepted part of business. OSHA is trying to educate industries to make sure they are aware that they are responsible if their employees feel they have to engage in this dangerous behavior to keep up in their job.

“We want to send a clear message to managers, supervisors and workers that their company must neither require nor condone sending or reading text or e-mail messages while driving,” wrote Dr. David Michaels in his OSHA blog in October.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

FDA Budget Includes New Money for Food Safety Initiatives

The Food and Drug Administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget includes priorities that would improve food safety, protect patents and ensure import safety from China.

The new budget includes $364 million in a “protecting patents initiative” that will help review biosimilar products. There will also be money for research to protect customers and patients. There is an additional $253 million for a “transforming food safety initiative” that could be a boost for the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The protecting patients program and the food safety initiative both would pour in about $10 million in new money toward a collaboration with China to increase the FDA’s presence there. This would help improve the safety of the drugs and food produced that is then imported to the United States from China.

Finally, the “medical countermeasures initiative” is slated for another $3.5 million to help protect Americans from emerging infectious diseases. The new money in the FY 2013 budget will help medical countermeasure development timelines and will assist the FDA to expand a program that helps developers focus on medical countermeasures.

Chicago personal injury lawyer Robert Briskman is experienced at helping people who have been hurt by unsafe products. To learn more, call 877-595-HURT (4878) or visit more of

Patients Rarely Get Critical Preventative Services During Checkups

Every time a patient goes into the doctor’s office for his or her regular physical check-up, the doctor has a list of preventative services recommended to perform on the patient.

A recent study showed that barely half of the recommended services get performed as prescribed because there just is not enough time in the day.

The preventative services include screenings, tests and conversations that are done at a certain time in the patient’s life. A 42-year-old woman will have a different list of preventative services than an 80-year-old man, for example. On average there are fewer than six services, such as screenings and counseling per patient, but they are not all done – not by a long shot.

As few as 12 percent of the patients received all of the services that they should have expected for prevention, according to the study.

During a study, researchers listened in on almost 300 visits to family physicians and general internists over the course of about three years. They learned that patients receive only about half of the preventative services.

“If you put it into context and you think about how little the incentives and the structure of the U.S. health system support prevention, it’s probably a pretty good rate,” said Jennifer Elston Lafata, the co-leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “You have to remember that a 100 percent rate is likely not feasible or even desirable, once you consider patient preferences and medical needs.”

If another medical concern pops up during a routine physical exam, it is naturally going to take precedence over a checklist because it is an immediate need. Then, time constraints kick in and the physician and the patient rarely catch up to get to everything on the list, Lafata said.

The study included patients from age 50 to 80. A full 93 percent of patients who were due for a colorectal cancer screening were given one, making it the most consistent of the preventative services. Counseling about aspirin use was the conversation that most often fell between the cracks. Those talks happened only about 18 percent of the time.

The doctor visits in the study tended to last less than a half hour. The visits that lasted longer tended to be more comprehensive.

Preventative care breaks down into three basic categories: counseling, screenings and immunizations. Screenings happened about 74 percent of the time in the study. Counseling happened about 45 percent of the time and immunizations happened only about 34 percent of the time, according to the study. If all preventative care is not addressed during annual physicals, many serious and oftentimes life-threatening conditions, can go undetected.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Alcohol Awareness Month a Time to Get Facts on Alcohol and Injuries

April is Alcohol Awareness Month across the United States and while the statistics indicate that the number of deaths from drinking and driving have gone down slightly, they are still high enough to be a concern.

Drunk driving deaths have declined every year since a high in 2005 of 13,582, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Total traffic deaths also are down during the same period.

Yet, there still is a traffic fatality in the United States every 51 minutes that is caused by alcohol impairment, according to the study by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Traffic fatalities are only one of the ways alcohol-related dangers can be tracked. There were about 1.5 million arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That means about one arrest for every 141 licensed drivers in 2008, which is the most recent year for which data is available.

A new study from the NHTSA found that women are being arrested more often for drinking and driving, and the numbers of women who cause accidents because of alcohol consumption is not decreasing like it is in the general population in many states. The number of women who were arrested for drinking and driving went up about 30 percent from 1998 to 2007, according to the FBI. During that same period, arrests for men went down by about 7.5 percent.

During the first part of this year, new court decisions expanded liability for accidents involving alcohol.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court found that a social host can be held liable if someone served at a party injured someone off-premises while driving drunk. The court also ruled that hosts cannot be held responsible for alcohol related crashes if they did not supply the alcohol at the party. So, if the party was a “bring your own” gathering, then the party host is not held responsible.

Apart from the statistics that show the dangers of drinking while operating a motor vehicle, there are other significant health risks to be aware of during Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is a factor in more than half of the drownings, homicides and fatal burn injuries. Birth defects also are a well-documented result of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago personal injury lawyer and Chicago personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Beating Death in Illinois Nursing Home Shows Need for More Supervision

There are many ways a nursing home resident can come to the end of his or her life while in the care of a facility. Murder is rarely the case, but an example in Illinois shows that two men with aggressive behavior toward one another were not monitored closely enough and got in a fight that left one of the residents dead.

An 80-year-old dementia patient at an Oak Park, Ill., nursing home was beaten to death in February by a fellow resident 14 years his junior. Recently released documents from the Illinois Department of Public Health show that despite evidence of aggressive behavior from both men, nothing was written in the patients’ treatment plan to show how to handle the men.

The victim’s family filed a lawsuit against Oak Park Medical Center for wrongful death for failing to supervise a patient that posed an immediate threat to Anibal Calderon. The OPMC’s parent company agreed to correct deficiencies outlined by the IDPH report but has not accepted responsibility for the attack, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The family claims in the lawsuit that Oak Park Healthcare Center broke state and federal nursing home rules and did not protect their patient from neglect and abuse, according to the Sun-Times. The suit also claims that the business failed to hire adequate staffing to sufficiently monitor its patients. Finally, the suit claims the facility did not report suspicious behavior and ignored complaints about residents.

The case at Oak Park shines a light on a broader issue about how many nurses are needed to care for the residents and how many of those nurses need to be trained registered nurses as opposed to certified nursing assistants or licensed practical nurses. A 2010 nursing home reform law mandates increased staffing.

The challenge, predictably, is that RNs are more experienced and demand higher salaries. More RNs means less revenue. Illinois state government officials are working this spring to push for more RNs who should be better equipped to ascertain changes in patient behavior like that of the man who is accused of killing Anibal Calderon.

The new Illinois laws require more than an hour more per day per resident of nursing and personal care in the next two years.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago wrongful death attorney and Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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