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West Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Ignition interlock testing linked to distracted driving crashes

Ignition interlock devices that test drivers' breath for alcohol before allowing their vehicles to start contribute to the enforcement of drunk driving laws in Iowa. These devices have proven that they reduce repeat offenses by people convicted of intoxicated driving, but they also have the potential to distract drivers. Manufacturers of these devices typically require drivers to initiate a retesting of their breath at some point during a trip. The rolling retest function is meant to disrupt attempts to fool the device by having a sober person start the vehicle at the onset of a trip. Unfortunately, blowing into the devices while operating vehicles can distract drivers and sometimes cause accidents.

An investigation by journalists identified multiple accidents associated with the distraction of a rolling retest. Some cases involved lawsuits. To avoid distractions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises drivers to pull over before breathing into the ignition interlock device. Device manufacturers have also built in features that grant drivers time to find a safe spot to stop before they blow into the tube. Despite safety features, the system relies on individual drivers to take precautions to prevent distracted driving.

Driver distraction doubles when car safety systems are engaged

Distracted driving accidents in Iowa and around the country are often blamed on cellphone use, but some of the most advanced automobile safety systems could also be playing a role. Adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features are designed to monitor road conditions and take action automatically to avoid collisions, but the results of a study from the American Automobile Association suggest that these systems could be causing accidents as well as preventing them.

The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety came to this conclusion after watching videos of drivers using adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist features. The drivers were behind the wheel of some of the most advanced cars and SUVs available in the United States. The researchers noticed that the number of distracted driving incidents almost doubled when the semiautonomous safety features were engaged. This led them to conclude that motorists put far too much faith in these systems.

3 common, but serious birth injuries

The birth of your child should be a joyful occasion, and the days following the birth should be filled with worry-free bonding as you welcome your little one into this world. However, the birth process doesn’t always go according to plan.

Sometimes the mother and infant experience a difficult birth. A baby may be born prematurely or breech. The baby may be too large for the mother’s pelvis, the labor may be prolonged or other difficulties may arise.

HS: a commonly misdiagnosed skin condition

In the July 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology can be found the results of a survey concerning the diagnosis of a skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS. Iowa residents should know that in this multinational survey, 64% of respondents said they had to visit five or more physicians before being formally diagnosed with HS. Diagnoses were sometimes delayed for over a decade.

HS is a chronic, non-contagious disease characterized by painful lumps that form under the skin, primarily in those areas with hair follicles and sweat glands, and fill up with pus. The fluid will seep out, and the boils return. The effect of this can be devastating with nearly half of respondents in the JAAD survey saying it has had an "extreme impact" on their life. Almost 15% say that HS has disabled them.

Old TBIs may cause memory loss, not Alzheimer's

In Iowa and across the U.S., many seniors as well as toddlers experience falls, which lead to traumatic brain injuries. Not a few of these older TBI victims develop memory loss as a result. Unfortunately, many doctors are quick to link memory loss with Alzheimer's disease, so these TBI patients are often misdiagnosed.

The reality, according to the Alzheimer's Association, is that some 40% of dementias are due to other conditions than Alzheimer's. A UCLA study has analyzed 40 TBI patients with memory loss to find a way to distinguish between Alzheimer's cases and TBI cases, and their results may be of interest to doctors because it involves MRIs. No special types of imaging are needed.

Four precautions for safe winter driving

When the weather turns cold and snow begins to fall, messy road conditions become hazardous and winter-related car accidents can happen. Driving in the snow, sleet and slush can be intimidating and dangerous even for the most experienced drivers.

Inclement weather poses unfavorable conditions and can make driving a daunting task. Dangers include decreased visibility, unpredictable road conditions, lane obstruction and reduced pavement friction. Iowa is ranked as the 7th most dangerous state for snow driving. Fortunately, being prepared can go a long way in mitigating the hazards of driving in the snow.

Road deaths fell slightly in 2018

Nearly all of the people who died on the roads in Iowa and around the country in 2018 lost their lives in accidents that could have been prevented according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Figures released by NHTSA on Oct. 22 reveal that motor vehicle accident fatalities in the United States fell by 2.4% in 2018 to 36,560, which the federal watchdog says is largely due to improved automobile safety technology. NHTSA says road deaths are on track to fall by 3.4% in 2019.

However, not all of the news contained in the NHTSA road safety report was positive. Pedestrian fatalities rose by 3.4%, and cyclist deaths increased by 6.3% in 2018 according to NHTSA. The number of road users killed in large truck accidents was also higher. Pedestrian deaths have risen by 53% in the last 20 years, and the 2018 death toll was the highest in almost three decades.

Family pursues wrongful death claim over stuntman's accdent

While many people in Ohio enjoy the popular TV series "The Walking Dead", one stuntman lost his life while filming an episode. His family is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against AMC, the network that it appears on. The stuntman died in 2017. AMC had sought to dismiss the case, claiming that the stuntman accepted all responsibility for the consequences of performing the stunt. However, the dismissal attempt was denied by the judge hearing the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in December 2019. AMC says that it was a tragic accident.

The man's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against AMC in 2018. She says that the company's low production budget led to inadequate precautions taken for stunt performers' safety. She claims that the company's filming practices were fundamentally unsafe and led to her son's death on the set. In particular, she says that the network put more pressure on Stalwart Films to cut budgets and safety protections. The man died due to injuries in a fall where the series is filmed in Georgia. The lawsuit also names the director of the episode, an actor involved and the stunt coordinator responsible for the scene.

Birth injuries and cerebral palsy: what parents should know

Parents hope their children have few issues when they’re being born, however, that’s not always the case. One of the most common and long-term delivery injuries an infant can get is cerebral palsy. The condition is classified as a group of disorders that can impact muscle movement, tone and posture. It’s often caused by damage to the baby’s brain during their birth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children across the United States and nearly half of those who have it have another co-occurring condition.

Fatal crashes linked to aggressive drivers jump 500%

Anyone who commutes regularly in Iowa knows that some drivers behave aggressively. Most people recognize the term "road rage" because it has become so prevalent in society. During the 10-year period of 2006 to 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculated that fatal traffic accidents involving aggressive drivers increased exponentially.

Drivers threatening other motorists with firearms has become more common as well. A nonprofit organization that collects gun violence data reported that 247 incidents of gun violence between drivers happened in 2014. By 2016, the figure went up to 620. A poll conducted by the Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2016 found that 80% of people admitted to feeling road rage at least once a year. A slim majority of poll respondents said that they tailgated people on purpose.

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West Des Moines, IA 50266

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