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Westlake Village Personal Injury Blog

The Northern California Fires - A Look at the Aftermath


The Northern California wildfires left in their wake, paths of destruction that Californians have never known. Forty-two lives were lost and an estimated 8,400 structures were destroyed. Damage estimates for homes, businesses and property have climbed into the billions of dollars.

Witness accounts show that power lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric fell during high winds igniting the fires.

What Victims of the Northern California Fires are Facing

Residents who lost homes and businesses are left desperately struggling to recover their lives. The emotional trauma caused by the disaster is just beginning to affect many, while some may not realize the trauma for weeks, months or even years. The lives people once knew are gone. Not only must they dig through the ashes, they must search deep in their emotions.

JAMA: Better Communication Needed Following a Medical Malpractice Injury


Improved hospital communication with patients is crucial following medical malpractice, or mistakes during treatment, to aid in their endurance and resolution of the issue, according to new findings.

The medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine published a report last month by Australian researchers indicating the patients generally have positive experiences following a medical injury, but there was much room for improvement. Often doctors and staff display a lack of empathy in regards to the issue and fail to communicate the path of resolution of the underlying cause to prevent reoccurrence with future patients.

Researchers conducted interviews with 40 patients, family members, and staff members who had been involved with the medical errors. The interviews took place at three U.S. hospitals, which operate communication and resolution programs (CRPs), between January 6, 2016 and June 30, 2016.

To be eligible for the research interviews, patients were required to have received a CRP, speak English, and were no longer able to file a malpractice claim because of receiving prior compensation or expiration of the statute of limitations.

NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Up Again in 2016


According to information released by federal highway safety regulators, U.S traffic fatalities rose for the second consecutive year in 2016, despite a reduction in the number of distracted driving fatalities.

The vehicle collision death toll reached 37,461 in 2016, the highest mark since 2007 according to figures released by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). The increase of 5.6 percent in traffic fatalities followed an 8.4 percent leap in 2015, which was the greatest annual increase since the mid 1960's.

Surprisingly, the increase in deaths was linked to other risky behaviors, rather than fatigued driving and distracted driving. Texting related fatalities actually declined by 2.2 percent. The largest overall gains in deaths were attributed to speeding, drunk driving and failure to wear a seatbelt. Drunk driving was listed as the number one cause for the increase in mortality.

The NHTSA said in a statement, "The agency continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save lives every year. They may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that people make behind the wheel."

FMCSA: Hours-Of-Service Rule Change For Commercial Drivers to be Tested


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has plans in place to test new hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers. The adjusted rules would allow drivers to divide their off duty time into two shorter periods without exceeding current on duty driving limits.

Approximately 200 commercial truck drivers will be enrolled by the FMCSA into a pilot program that will basically reinstate a previous standard, allowing drivers to split their sleeper berth time.

Truckers who routinely use a sleeper berth would be allowed to split their 10 hours of off-duty time into two separate sleeper berth periods of no less than three hours, under the test program. The FMCSA hopes to develop "statistically reliable evidence" how split sleeper berth time affects driver safety performance and fatigue.

Truck Accident Test Shows Need For Side Underride Guards


Underride accidents account for twenty-five percent of all fatal truck accidents. California leads the country in the number of all underride deaths with 426 recorded between 1993 and 2015. Death by underride is drastically undercounted, as some crash report forms do no contain a check box for underrides.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested safeguards called AngelWings that prevent passenger cars from sliding beneath the side of a tractor-trailer or large truck. Side underride crashes generally occur when a tractor-trailer jackknifes, causing vehicles behind to crash into the side. Very often airbags fail to deploy because of the height of the trailer. Roofs can get sheared off and passengers may receive severe head injuries, even decapitation. In other instances the rear wheels of the trailer may ride over the vehicle crushing it.

The IIHS car and truck accident test showed that AngelWings, produced by the AirFlow Deflector Company, were extremely effective at preventing side underride and also initiated air bag deployment. At present they are the only commercially available side guards available for commercial tractor-trailers. AngelWings have been on the market for over a year but are not required equipment in the US.

Research Supports a New Approach to Understanding Concussions


Approximately 3.8 million cases of traumatic brain injury are reported in the United States each year, most of which are concussions.

According to new research led by Portland University, an entirely new approach to understanding the complexities of concussion, and how to treat it, will become the criterion. The researchers favor systems science, a discipline that analyzes complex problems, as whole systems, and integrates research findings from different disciplines.

"Complex systems are those in which the behavior of the whole is not entirely explained by the behavior of its parts," said Erin Kenzie, systems science researcher at Portland State. "Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is very complex. It's been called the most complicated disease of the most complex organ of the body."

Feds Move Forward with December ELD Mandate Enforcement


Despite protests in Washington DC and other cities, by independent truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is moving forward with its plan to begin enforcing the electric logging device (ELD) mandate. The implementation date of Dec. 18 comes amid speculation regarding potential delays.

The ELD mandate, which went into effect in 2015, has been in a voluntary adoption phase since then. However a study released by C.J Driscoll and Associates showed that complete conformation is far from reality. The study, which encompassed 529 fleet operators, found that 60% of commercial fleets were still using paper logs to record driver's hours of service.

"We won't be putting drivers out of service for simply failing to have an ELD, but if they're not compliant with the hours of service rules or don't have a paper record that shows that they're compliant, they'll continue to be put out of service," Jon Dierberger, field administrator at FMCSA explained, during TU-Automotive's Connected Fleets event. "That rule will remain in effect."

Despite Risks, California Seatbelt Use Low in Uber and Taxi's


Seatbelts save lives. That phrase is not a tagline from a government-sponsored ad - it is a fact. The fact is that seatbelt use can reduce the chances of fatality or serious injury to the front seat passenger of a car by 50%. Too often, we learn of a rollover where an occupant was ejected from the vehicle and died unnecessarily.

In California, seatbelt use became a strictly enforced, primary law in 1993. Since then, compliance rose steadily to its current level of 96%. That number is ten percentage points higher than the national average. With seatbelt use so prevalent by drivers and passengers in private motor vehicles, why is the usage in commercial transportation so low, especially in rideshare vehicles such as Uber or Lyft and in taxicabs?

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that only 65% of passengers in taxi's and rideshares wear their seatbelts. The most apparent reason is that most public transit, such as buses and trains, lack restraint systems and riders are unaccustomed to buckling up. The tendency is to simply get onboard for a short ride and get out quickly.

Common Misconceptions About Spinal Cord Injury


If you have not experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI) or worked closely with someone that has, chances are great that you are ignorant to some degree of what life with an SCI is really like. It is important that, through awareness education, families who are learning to cope with SCI do not use the wrong ideas.

Some Myths and Misconceptions About Spinal Cord Injury

Never moving again is always the prognosis

Each persons injury and recovery results differ. There is always some loss of sensory and motor function, but at greatly varying levels. Even in a person classified as quadriplegic there may be limited use of the arms.

Youth allows for easier rehabilitation

Regarding SCI, each individual situation is different. The success of rehabilitation depends on the location and severity of the injury, they type of support the patient receive during recovery along with other factors related to each individual. When it comes to SCI a person's recovery is not contingent on their age.

How is a Traumatic Brain Injury Measured and Classified?


When a sudden trauma damages the brain and disrupts normal brain function, it is referred to as traumatic brain injury (TBI). The results can be substantial disability or mortality. TBI may have severe detrimental effects on physical, psychological, cognitive emotional, social abilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate and average of 1.7 million people suffer from a TBI each year. Of those, 275,000 are hospitalized and 52,000 die. Nearly 80%, or 1.365 million, are treated and released from an emergency department.

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