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Almost 90% of Elder Abuse Cases Have this in Common

Elder abuse: intentional mistreatment that causes harm, or creates a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder.

Experts agree that elderly women are abused at a higher rate than men. And the older the person is, the more likely she is to be abused.

Dementia also increases the risk of elder abuse. Nearly half of all people over 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Who Are the Abusers?

A big majority—estimates run as high as 90 percent—of abusers are family members.

That’s a shockingly high percentage. Abusers, usually adult children, spouses, or partners, are more likely to have drug and/or alcohol problems, mental illnesses, or feel burdened by their care-giving responsibilities.

Signs of elder abuse are often missed because:

  • There is a lack of training on detecting this type of abuse – especially in families.
  • The elderly victim is reluctant to report the abuse for fear of retaliation, or because he doesn’t want to get the abuser in trouble.
  • The elder is not physically able to report the abuse.

Damore Law Group Elder Abuse 300x215 Almost 90% of Elder Abuse Cases Have this in CommonIt’s important to remember that elder abuse happens in private homes as well, but abuse and neglect in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is still a big problem.

One survey of certified nursing assistants found that 17% of CNAs admitted to pushing, grabbing, or shoving a nursing home resident. More than half said they had yelled at a resident, and 23% had sworn at or otherwise insulted a resident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Construction Sites Commonplace for Injuries

Almost 6.5 million people work at over 250,000 construction sites in the U.S. on any given day, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Because of the heavy equipment and hazardous conditions often present at construction sites, the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is well higher than the national average for all other industries.

In the U.S., OSHA sets and enforces standards concerning workplace safety and health.  Because of the increased safety standards, worker deaths in America have declined from about 38 workers per day in 1970 to 12 a day in 2012. Workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent in the last 40 years, despite the fact that U.S. employment has nearly doubled.

Hazards Present on Construction Sites

Construction workers are exposed to a number of health hazards on the job, depending upon the trade, job, day, and even time of the day. Some of the many health hazards present on construction sites include asbestos, solvents, noise, and manual labor resulting in accidents. Other potential hazards faced frequently by construction workers include:

  • Trench and scaffold collapse
  • Falls, especially on ladders and stairways
  • Injuries sustained while operating heavy equipment such as forklifts and cranes
  • Being struck by objects
  • Electric shock
  • Heavy loads
  • Chemical burns
  • Injuries sustained due to failure to use protective equipment
  • Repetitive motion injuries, including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Blows to the head resulting in traumatic brain injury

Falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry.

Third Party Negligence

It is not uncommon that a worker will sustain a construction site injury due to the negligence of a third party. A third party is anyone other than the worker’s employer or co-worker. In such cases, employees may be able to pursue both workers’ compensation benefits and also bring a personal injury claim for negligence against the party responsible for their injuries.

 

Four Ways that Civil and Criminal Law Differ

Civil and criminal law are two broad and separate entities of law.  While both types of law take place in the same courthouse, they have different goals. Civil law is designed to repay the victim with money. Criminal law is designed to punish a wrongdoer for engaging in an activity that society has deemed a crime, and to deter the wrongdoer from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Other differences include:

Parties

In civil law, the person or entity that initiates the lawsuit and is called the plaintiff. In criminal law, the district attorney, a government employee, initiates the lawsuit and is known as the prosecutor. In both situations, the entities that the claims are against are called defendants.

Type of Disputes

Civil cases are to resolve disputes between individuals or organizations.  A civil wrong is called a tort. In a criminal matter, an individual is prosecuted by the government for committing an act that is against the laws established by society, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or committing a murder.

Decision

In a civil case, the defendant is either liable or not liable. If the defendant is liable, he is generally ordered to pay compensation to the plaintiff. In a criminal case, a defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is guilty, an appropriate punishment, such as jail time or probation, is determined by the court.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that based on the evidence presented, there can be no reasonable doubt. This is sometimes referred to as “to a moral certainty.” This high burden of proof goes along with the presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty at trial.

The burden of proof in a civil trial in Oregon is a preponderance of the evidence, a much lesser burden than beyond reasonable doubt. Preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not. Each fact in a civil case is determined using this standard, including the ultimate decision concerning liability. The plaintiff generally has the burden of proving his case.

Examples of criminal law include burglary, assault, battery and murder, while civil law applies in cases of negligence and legal or medical malpractice.

Distracted Driving: Multi-Tasking Is a Myth

When you’re driving, there’s an old saying that tells you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

This is easier said than done.

In our fast-paced world, motorists are distracted by a wide variety of activities that take their attention away from their primary task, which should be driving. These common distractions include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Texting, emailing, or surfing the net on a smartphone
  • Talking on the phone, even by using a hands-free device
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Fatigue
  • Talking to passengers
  • Putting on makeup
  • Reading a map or using GPS
  • Rubbernecking (checking out something happening in the oncoming lane or on the side of the road)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player
  • Watching a video

According to an April 2012 report by the National Safety Council, the human brain cannot perform two tasks at the same time, and instead handles each task successively by switching from one to the other. Because the human brain is capable of rapidly juggling tasks, people are led to believe that they are doing more than one thing at the same time (multi-tasking). The reality is that we only do one thing at a time, and do not have complete control over which information the brain processes and which it filters out.

Distracted Driving Puts Everyone at Risk

The mental distraction that occurs when engaging in any activity other than driving takes a driver’s mind off the road, and puts the driver and others at risk. One alarming statistic from Distraction.gov: At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Driving is an activity that requires complete attention. Do not put yourself or others at risk by trying to accomplish other tasks when your priority should be reaching your destination safely.

 

Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents as School Begins

Summer is almost over— soon nearly 54 million children across the nation will be back on our roads, walking and biking to school. Motorists need to be extra careful while driving during the times children are traveling to and from school.

Drivers should always slow down and obey all traffic laws, especially when traveling in school zones. The speed limit in and around most school zones is 15 or 20 mph, and special speed limit signs, often with flashing lights, are posted to alert motorists that they are entering a school zone. Drivers should be more alert in these zones because there are a higher number of pedestrians. Keep distractions, like cell phones or conversations with passengers, to a minimum. Although motorists should always observe traffic laws, they need to be especially conscious of their driving while in school zones, near playgrounds, or in neighborhoods where children might be traveling to and from school.

Children can move quickly, and often are not aware of nearby traffic. Be ready to stop at a moment’s notice for an inattentive pedestrian. Because many are small children, they can be more difficult to see and might not know the rules of the road. When you see children waiting to cross the street, try to make eye contact with them so that they will be aware of your presence. Remember that pedestrians and bicyclists have the right of way if you are turning. Always follow any instructions given by a crossing guard.

On a two-lane road, motorists approaching from both directions are required to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing or stop sign out. On a four lane road, only vehicles traveling in the same direction must stop. A driver should never pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children. Be aware that school buses make frequent stops and must stop for all railroad crossings. While they might slow your drive down, safety is more important.

With a little extra attention, drivers can ensure that our nation’s children are safe when traveling to and from school.

Federal Regulations Written to Help Prevent Truck Crashes

Because of their size and weight, commercial trucks are capable of causing extremely serious injuries should an accident occur. As a result, the federal government has passed various laws holding semitruck drivers, as well as trucking companies, responsible when they fail to comply with applicable federal regulations. While the standards may be high, the public’s safety is important enough to warrant the heightened standards.

Federal Trucking Laws That Promote Safety

Federal law prohibits the use of alcohol and other controlled substances while driving a semi-truck. Under 49 CFR 382, employers are required to implement and follow alcohol and controlled substance testing in compliance with federal law. Semi-truck drivers are restricted from driving or performing any safety-sensitive function if their alcohol concentration is at or above .04. While this BAC is lower than many states’ DUI/DUII laws, the risks associated with impaired truck drivers warrants a more stringent guideline.

In January 2012, a federal law was amended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to prohibit truckers from texting, dialing, or even holding a phone while operating a truck. However, drivers are allowed to use hands-free mobile devices if they require only a single touch to operate. Operators who violate this law may face over $2000 in fines and the loss of their license. According to an ABC7.com report, the legislation came as a response to a Kentucky truck accident that killed 11 people after the truck driver was using his cell phone while driving.

Promoting Safety

While trucking companies must ensure that their fleet of trucks is well maintained and their drivers are disciplined when safety violations occur, the public should also be vigilant drivers. Defensive driving techniques such as slowing down in work zones, keeping a safe following distance, and being aware of “no-zones” can help avoid trucking accidents and fatalities.  It’s our collective responsibility to help keep the country’s roadways safer for all motorists, including truck drivers.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Am I Ever Going to be 100 Percent Again?

Traumatic brain injury is appropriately named traumatic, as it is an extremely serious injury from which there is no predictable recovery time. The best answer to the question, “How long will it take me to get better?” is “It depends.”

In the early stages of a head injury, it is impossible to predict what lies ahead. Each doctor will likely give you a different estimate of how long your recovery will take. Some may say your recovery is maximized six to nine months after the injury, and others may say you have several years to improve.  However, traumatic brain injury victims will likely have made significant improvements in certain skills and learned to cope with what can’t be improved in that length of time.

Although it is rare for someone to say she’s recovered 100 percent from a head injury, many will return to work, resume a normal family life, and function well socially. But he may still say he feels different.

The Brain’s Potential for Recovery

According to CNN, the brain is extremely resilient and has the capacity to restore some functions after traumatic injury, a phenomenon called plasticity, which is enhanced by rehabilitation.

Plasticity is the brain’s ability to change. We now know that it is possible to form new brains cells (neurons) even as adults, and by undergoing rehabilitation to relearn basic tasks, a traumatic brain injury patient may be able to form new brain connections that allow him to make a more complete recovery. The goal of rehabilitation is to stimulate the brain to reform lost circuits, but how well a patient recovers depends on the severity of the injury. Generally, the more improvement shown in the early stages of traumatic brain injury, the more potential there is for improvement long term.

Change is a hard part of life, and the reality is traumatic brain injury or not, we are always changing. Although the aging process is gradual, a head injury causes sudden change, which makes it all the more difficult. But the good news is that people do get better. It just takes time and persistence.

Sports Head Injuries Gaining National Recognition

The prevalence of head injuries in sports and their devastating lasting effects is well documented. Football players’ head injuries have been a prevalent news topic in the past few months. As the face of football, the National Football League is being blamed for keeping this epidemic buried for so long. Despite claims by former professional football players of the post-career effects of repeat head trauma, the NFL continually discredited research associated with analysis of deceased football players’ brains. It wasn’t until 2009 that any league official publicly acknowledged any long-term effects of concussions.

According to the Center for BrainHealth, long term effects of concussions include memory problems, intense anger and/or aggression, personality changes, lack of concentration, problems organizing and planning, difficulty problem solving, and language impairment. Particularly troubling is the number of former NFL athletes struggling with mental health problems. Just in the past 4 years, there have been 10 recorded suicides among former NFL players.

Along with the depression, dementia is another significant mental health problem for former NFL players. A 2012 study by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) showed that players who spent at least five seasons playing in the NFL were four times more likely than the general population to die with dementia or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Former Bears quarterback  Jim McMahon has been an outspoken advocate for retired players suffering from dementia. He says that while he “doesn’t have thoughts of killing himself anymore” he still has the dementia and “doesn’t think they [NFL] were looking out for our best interests” while he played.

Fortunately, President Obama recently hosted a sports summit  highlighting the concerns of head injuries in sports. This gathering brought together more than 200 sports officials, medical experts, parent activists and young athletes, with a goal of finding new ways to treat and prevent serious head injuries, particularly in youth sports. In addition, the NCAA and Pentagon have launched a $30 million clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure among college students.

 

Rise in Construction Injuries

Construction work is known for being dangerous. With the seventh-highest rate of non-fatal injury among all occupations in 2009 alone, construction workers died on the job almost three times the rate that all other workers in the US did. Additionally, while overall workplace fatalities decreased by over 6% in 2012, construction site fatalities actually increased by 11%.

With the technology available today, there is no defensible reason why fatalities should be increasing for construction workers. The construction industry has an obligation to take note of these staggering statistics and make a commitment to ensuring the safety of its workers.  If production is prioritized over the lives of employees, both injuries and fatalities will only increase.  The variety of hazards construction workers face at their workplace is shared by few other occupations. Workers are already at greater risk than any other industry to suffer a disabling injury due to falls, equipment malfunctions, and pinch point crush injuries.  However, lead poisoning and respiratory problems also affect these workers. From 2002 to 2008 construction workers made up 15% of all cases reporting lead blood levels exceeding 25 ug/dl. And in regards to dangerous levels of exposure to asbestos, construction workers are at the greatest risk of all occupations. Over 1.3 million construction workers are exposed to asbestos on the job each year.

Unfortunately, the mental toll this industry demands from its workers is often overlooked as a major hazard.  Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that construction workers are frequently stressed about work-related injuries and pain and often fail to seek help, putting themselves at risk for more injuries and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Because the construction industry employs over 11 million people in the US, this data suggests that a large portion of our workforce is not getting the support they desperately need. Essentially, the mental burden brought on by a workplace injury is too much for many construction workers.  Another 2012 study of over 350,000 construction workers found that injured workers were 45% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than non-injured workers.

To combat their mental and physical suffering, it is paramount that the workers have treatment options, and more importantly, are made aware of them. It is critical that an injured worker understand he or she may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover their lost wages and medical bills.  In cases where a third party is involved, the injured workers may also be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering, whether physical or emotional. In conclusion, it is important that more people are educated about the risks and dangers of the construction industry so that we can prevent both harm to the workers through a commitment to safer practices and better treatment.

 

New Hope For Those With Spinal Cord Injuries

Each day car accidents and other tragic events leave victims paralyzed for the rest of their life. There are 250,000 Americans who have a spinal cord injury and 37% are caused by motor vehicle accidents each year. Of these injured individuals, half  are paraplegic. With average lifetime costs for paraplegics being $400,000 and an estimated 48% of spinal cord injury (SCI) victims being uninsured, the impact of this debilitating injury is magnified. Unfortunately, 63% of SCI (spinal cord injured) individuals are unemployed 8 years after the injury so making a living to cover those expenses is difficult.

Until now, these victims have had very little to hope for in terms of regaining their mobility lost to the injury. However, new breakthroughs in electrical stimulation therapy for paraplegics have shown promise. University of Louisville neuroscientist Susan Harkema oversaw a recent study in applied electrical stimulation and its effect on nerve pathways after injury. Over five years, Harkema’s team applied electrical stimulation to paralyzed men with broken spinal cords. Amazingly, all four patients were able to develop movement. This marked the first time electrical stimulation allowed patients to move voluntarily after a paralyzing spinal cord injury. The level of regained movement varied – participants went from being paralyzed to being able to wiggle their big toes, lift and swing their legs, and move their ankles up and down without support. Currently, the stimulation can only activate one muscle group at a time. Yet, patients are already showing dramatically improved bladder, bowel and sexual function.  While things like lifting a leg may seem insignificant to able-bodied people, these simple movements give spinal cord injury victims a sense of freedom and independence that is incredibly meaningful.

An important takeaway from this research is the hope it has given people paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. Knowing there is a reasonable chance that they can regain their mobility may give them the motivation to walk an extra 10 steps in physical therapy or do an extra hour of leg lifts. And hopefully, this research has merely scratched the surface of what is possible.