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iStock_000001983354XSmall-300x199A recent Editor’s Pick in the Albany Herald discusses the positive impact of a law that we believe is important for many to know about. As is the case in other states, Georgia has a Good Samaritan law. Georgia’s Good Samaritan law is found at the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 51-1-29. Good Samaritan laws protect medical professionals and the public from liability when they voluntarily and gratuitously assist or provide care to an injured victim. They are also intended to enable those having a medical emergency or those hurt and in need, to get the help that could save their lives or protect them from further injury.

These laws are now being expanded to an epidemic that is found across our country. Most Americans are aware that thousands in our country are addicted to prescription drugs, such as opioids. Many of these individuals are vulnerable to overdoses which can lead to death. To help those who might be saved after overdosing on these drugs, many states including Georgia have taken a step to save lives.

The Georgia General Assembly has enacted a specific law that allows the public to contact emergency help for those who may have overdosed on these drugs, without fear of criminal or other liability. This means that even if there are other illegal drugs or contraband on the premises, they will not be held for these potential crimes. The law is called the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law and is helping to save lives in Georgia. Another aspect of this law protects first responders from liability in administering help or medications, such as Narcan, that can reverse an overdose for at least a period of time so that the individual can get medical care.

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079a696b93bebde4be49cba5451afb42-200x300Inflatables are everywhere these days, especially in the spring and summer months. They attract kids and parents alike, with fantastic colors and cartoon-like big houses and slides and castles. They are lots of fun for all, but bounce houses can be dangerous when they are not in great condition or not anchored correctly. These scenarios happen nearly every day in the Atlanta area. Your children are invited to a birthday party and the family of the birthday boy or girl have a bounce house set up in the yard. Or you attend a community event with your family and a bounce house is set up … it is a big draw for the kids. Exciting and fun experiences for the kids await, but the dangers are real and parents need to be mindful of them.

Earlier this week, a gust of wind lifted a bounce house into the air with children inside. The bounce house was anchored and set up at a church carnival in South Carolina. Five kids were taken to the hospital, with two kids sustaining serious injuries. Four of the kids are back home, one may still be hospitalized. The family has hired a lawyer to speak on their behalf. It is difficult to imagine the fear those kids felt as they were lifted into the air. It is painful to think about what the parents must have felt watching their children float up and away. All the kids survived. But the house ended up later hitting a power line with no children inside it at the time.

This is a serious matter because injuries from bounce houses and other inflatables have been on the rise for the past two decades. In a ten-year period over 100,000 people have been hurt in these apparatuses. The injuries can be serious and sometimes have been fatal.

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distracted-driver-200x300Over the years, we have shared posts about a wide variety of accidents with our readers. We do this because we want to help our readers understand why accidents happen and how to avoid them, if at all possible. Earlier this week, a truly horrific crash occurred in Texas. You may have heard about the crash involving a pick up truck and a church van. Thirteen people lost their lives in this crash. One survivor remains in the hospital. The crash turns out to have been completely avoidable. Thirteen people could still be with their families today, but for a 20-year old driver who was texting while driving on a two-lane road. He crossed over the line and struck the church van.

A driver behind the pick up truck noticed the driver traveling erratically and crossing the line. He contacted two different sheriff’s offices informing them that the truck was driving dangerously. But the crash happened before that was possible. And tragedy struck. After the crash the witness was there to listen to the young driver’s guilt … apologizing over and over again for having texted while he was driving. Although authorities have yet to confirm this was the cause of the crash, the witness indicated that the driver admitted this to him on the scene. This will be part of the investigation.

The church members were elderly and were wearing lap seat belts at the time of the crash. Experts reveal that in a crash like this one, a lap belt doesn’t protect passengers as well as a three-point shoulder belt. This is because passengers are more likely to sustain head injuries.

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6d15d15970fbc3199681f82df666c287-300x169Late last year, the federal Department of Transportation announced a proposed rule in what is called a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which started a 90 day public comment period. The announcement didn’t seem to get much notice, but we think it is actually a very big deal. The rule relates to something called vehicle-to vehicle or V2V technology. This new technology would apply to “light vehicles” meaning cars and similar vehicles that we drive every day in Georgia. The idea behind this technology is simple, but quite significant. It could allow vehicles to avoid some crashes and possibly protect occupants from serious or fatal injury. That is quite a stunning turn, particularly in light of driverless cars and could help deal with the upsurge in distracted driving.

This technology is very much targeted at saving lives, but also includes privacy guarantees so that personal information about the vehicle’s owner or occupants are protected. According to the former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who hailed the new technology as a remarkable advance in safety, V2V allows vehicles to have a complete “awareness” of the vehicles around them. The work supporting the technological advance has been going on in our federal agencies for the past few years and hopefully will continue. It is thought to be a very important addition to the advances being made in the area of driverless cars. If we are to have  driverless cars on our roads, this V2V technology will help those vehicles to drive more safely.

Although some of this seems like an episode of the vintage animated cartoon show, The Jetsons, it is quite real and will be our future. The combination of driverless and V2V could create a highway and driving experience that is actually less stressful and less dangerous than the current driving experience. But this will take a long while and will involve not only the vehicle to vehicle communications, but the ability for vehicles to communicate with things like traffic lights and railroad crossings.

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This morning on the Today Show, NBC took an entire segment to talk about the unseen dangers of house fires. This timely piece on fire danger hits close to home. ESPN reported only this past Sunday that a Monroe, Georgia house fire took the life of Quentin Moses. He was not only a former Miami Dolphin, but also a defensive end and MVP 2005 for the University of Georgia. The cause of the fire is not yet reported. But tragically, not only did Mr. Moses pass away, his friend and her 10-year old child also lost their lives in this tragedy. Moses has been the assistant football coach Reinhardt University for several years. The news of his passing has clearly touched many in our community. Jason Taylor and others who knew Moses well have expressed their sorrow over the loss of life taken so young. He was 33 years of age.

It is believed that the fire may have begun in the kitchen. It may have been related to cooking or to an electrical issue. Classes were cancelled this afternoon at Reinhardt University for a celebration of Moses’ life. He was said to have inspired his student athletes with his positive attitude and wonderful smile.

The tragic loss of a young man, his friend and her daughter, perhaps could have been avoided. We do not know at this point. However, we do know that there are many many homes, in fact most homes, that are not as protected against such a tragedy as we might think.

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photo-200x300This past November, a semi-truck driver caused a major collision in Norcross, Georgia. Failing to heed the clear warning at a railroad crossing that prohibited tractor-trailers from driving on the tracks, he made a dangerous attempt to cross and got stuck on the tracks. He and his passenger were pulled from the truck by local police officers just before an oncoming train struck the truck. The impact caused debris to be strewn across the area. Miraculously, no one was harmed or injured in this collision. A tragedy was prevented by the fast and effective work on the part of the local police. After the crash, Gwinnett County Fire came on scene to help with the clean-up. The contents of the truck belonged to customers of a moving company … which likely caused some additional issues for both the trucking company and the driver. This type of collision involving trains and trucks are dangerous not only to the truck driver and the train passengers and engineer, but to anyone in the vicinity. Other drivers, pedestrians and bystanders can be seriously injured due to these crashes.

In Los Angeles this past September about 20 people sustained injuries when a commuter train crashed into a tractor trailer that was stuck on the tracks. The truck driver was not injured as he attempted to get his truck off the tracks. Witnesses said the truck may have already been on the tracks when the railroad crossing warnings began to sound and the gates went down.

In December of last year, a slow-moving vintage Christmas train with St. Nick himself on board, which was carrying children stopped for a while when it hit a truck that was improperly crossing railroad tracks. St. Nick and his wife visited with the children, while they waited for authorities. The pickup truck driver admitted he had been on the phone when he hit the train. He apologized and thankfully he sustained only minor injuries and none of the children or other passengers were harmed. The local railroad representative called these types of accidents “common.” It is shocking to realize just how often these train and vehicle collisions occur.

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iStock_000001983354XSmall-300x199The final chapter has been written on the tragic accident we shared with readers previously that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and injured two others. Two years have passed since the truck crash that brought shock and sorrow to many across Georgia and the entire nation. The fatal truck crash occurred when a truck driver from Louisiana slammed into the students’ vehicle which had stopped in traffic due to a wholly unrelated accident. The truck’s destruction was so significant, it literally and violently compressed two vehicles in its path. The nursing students were returning to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro after their duties at a Savannah, Georgia hospital. Ironically, the student nurses were on their final rotation at the hospital.

On several posts in the past, we have discussed the fact that in trucking accidents, not only the driver, but the trucking company or companies and others can often be held liable when a tragedy like this occurs. Those entities in this case had settled with the families of the deceased victims. They also settled with another survivor. But the final victim sustained traumatic brain injuries and claimed that these injuries had continued to make her life difficult. Last week, a jury awarded her $15 million. Both the trucking company that owned the truck and its parent company were held to pay the survivor, now a nurse. In this case, the driver took a plea and was given a reduced sentence of five years in jail.  He pled guilty to all five first-degree vehicular homicide counts among other serious violations. It is reported that he apologized to the nursing student for the accident that injured her and killed five of her cohorts.  Continue reading →

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Tragic Fatal Injury After Pine Tree Falls

Winter is a time for beauty and caution. The ice, snow and rain that has fallen in different parts of Georgia, bring beautiful images and can be dangerous. Just this month, storms in metro-Atlanta led to the tragic death of a woman when a tree fell on her car. The incident involved a rotten pine tree that dropped onto her Honda Civic on a DeKalb County road. She passed away after she was removed from her vehicle by emergency teams. In another frightening local incident, a child escaped injury and was safely rescued after a tree fell on a home. In California, where the rain has been relentless in the drought-ridden state, a woman was walking with her husband on the golf course near her home, when a tree fell on her and killed her instantly.

Responsibility for Injury or Death from Falling Trees

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Accident Caused by Distracted Driver Using FaceTime

A lawsuit filed in California has put another twist on the national discussion on distracted driving. The question is, in part, is Apple responsible for death or injury to motorists because they offer technologies such as FaceTime that allow users to have face to face conversations on their phones? More specifically, should Apple be held responsible when they have the technology that would shut down this application when used by a driver, but failed to install it in their iPhone 6?

In the California lawsuit, a family claims that Apple’s FaceTime app caused their child’s death. The tragic loss of their child occurred in Texas, but Apple is headquartered in Santa Clara County, California where the suit was filed. In the crash, the family’s vehicle was stopped and was rear-ended by a distracted driver. The distracted driver was using the FaceTime app at the time of the collision. The vehicle was struck so intensely that the children in the back of the vehicle were severely injured. Their daughter lost her life from the injuries she sustained.

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iStock_000001221748XSmall-300x199Over the past decade, researchers have made a great deal of progress in learning about the long term effects of brain injuries. Concussions are among the most common brain injuries. It is now understood that when someone sustains even a few concussions over his or her lifetime, it can be more difficult for the brain to return to normal function. We have seen a lot of publicity regarding the dangers to professional football players, for example, who have sustained numerous concussions and the prolonged and often debilitating impact on their lives. We have seen school sports teams becoming more aware about protecting kids from getting back on the field after a head injury.

This past summer, USA Today reported on Virginia Tech’s research in identifying high-impact training drills that can cause injury to young football players. The research indicated that one particular drill called “King of the Circle” is most dangerous for kids. The drill studied about 35 kids between 9-11 years of age. It illustrated the concussion risks to kids in football practice and was published in The Journal of Neurosurgery.

Continue reading →

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