One in 12 bridges in Illinois is "structurally deficient," according to a report released by Transportation for America (TFA), a non-profit coalition out of Washington, D.C. Could these numbers indicate a bridge collapse story in our future? It's hard to say. The bridge collapse last month on Interstate 5 in the Seattle area was not considered structurally deficient, whereas the bridge in the 2007 Minnesota collapse did carry the label. What we do know is that U.S. bridges are aging and collapses are occurring more frequently. And in Illinois, it is becoming more obvious that the overall condition of our bridges is waning. According to the TFA report: • The number of substandard bridges in IL has risen from 2,239 to 2,311 since 2011; • Illinois is among 16 states that saw an increase in deficient bridges since 2011; • Statewide, 8.7 percent of bridges are rated "structurally deficient"; and • Illinois is ranked 35th nationally for overall bridge condition (1 is worst, 51 is best). As the quality of Illinois bridges continues to decline with age and use (on average, more than 8 million cars travel across Illinois' deficient bridges every day, according to the TFA report), it makes sense that we could see an increase in bridge collapse accidents. Clifford Law Offices has spent decades representing the victims of unsafe premises and structural collapses. In 2012, the firm was hired by the family of a couple who was killed when a bridge collapsed and fell on their car in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. Clifford Law Offices continues to represent the family in the lawsuit.
The compliance date for the Hours of Service Final Rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) goes into effect on July 1, 2013. With new guidelines for commercial driving time and rest breaks, the final rule is poised to create safer roadways for both truckers and commuters. Trucking Safety Then and Now Before the final rule was announced by FMCSA on December 22, 2011, commercial truck drivers were allowed to work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. As of the July 1 compliance date, the number of hours available per seven-day period will decrease from 82 to 70. Truckers will retain the current 11-hour workday allotment, but will not be able to drive after eight hours without first taking at least a 30-minute break. In addition, those who choose to maximize the 70-hour workweek will be required to sleep from the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for at least two out of the seven nights. The FMCSA announcement claims that these particular four hours are when the "24-hour body clock demands sleep the most." Here's a look at some of the changes: ....................................... New Rule......................................................Old Rule Hours per week 70 82 Hours per day 11, with 30-min. break after every 8 hours 11 Sleep requirements 1 a.m.-5 a.m. at least 2 nights every week None Additional changes can be found on the FMCSA's Final Rule. Looking at the Numbers According to a statement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities among large truck occupants increased by 20 percent in 2011. The aim of the final rule is to reduce this number going forward, helping to eliminate fatigued truck drivers from our roadways and improve trucking safety for the benefit of all. Clifford Law Offices, a firm of Chicago truck accident attorneys, has represented victims in a number of truck accident cases. In 2004, the firm was responsible for obtaining a $38.3 million verdict in a tragic Illinois highway trucking collision. It was the largest transportation verdict in the country in 2004, according to the National Law Journal.
Advancements in medicine have led to some miraculous discoveries and treatments, but even the latest technology can have devastating side effects. In a recent medical malpractice case involving robotic-assisted surgery, a 65-year-old male patient experienced a tragic outcome. Robotic Procedures for Prostate Cancer Laparoscopic prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate gland) is a common treatment for prostate cancer, and the da Vinci prostatectomy is one of the latest procedures being offered to these patients. Its robotic-assisted surgical capabilities make it a minimally invasive technique for eliminating cancer without compromising urinary and sexual function. Unfortunately for the male patient identified earlier, his experience with the da Vinci procedure cost him more than just the prostate gland; it destroyed nearly all of the nerve function in his hands and led to a serious medical malpractice case for the hospital and its staff. Why Risk Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety Due to the alleged inexperience of the primary surgeon in the case, the patient was left in one position for too long while the surgeon consulted with another doctor. This alleged negligence caused multiple compression-related problems, including severe nerve damage in the patient's hands. According to the lawsuit, the primary surgeon did not have the skills needed to perform the robotic surgery in an efficient and satisfactory manner, which directly impacted the patient's safety and the risk of medical malpractice for the hospital. In order for medical organizations to avoid malpractice lawsuits related to robotic surgery, they need to ensure the staff receives the proper training to successfully operate the new equipment. Patients that want to learn more about these types of cases can visit Clifford Law Offices' medical malpractice questions and answers webpage. Clifford Law Offices is renowned in Chicago and throughout the country for its work in medical malpractice cases, including a $16 million settlement for a newborn who suffered brain damage due to hospital negligence.
Here are some websites that offer advice and information on what you can do to make that a reality. New Avoidance Technologies Reduce Crashes Crash avoidance technologies, such as automatic braking systems and adaptive headlights, are preventing accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Read more about these new technologies (download report). Decade of Action for Road Safety The National Safety Council is urging all Americans to get involved in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, an initiative of the World Health Organization. The goal: prevent road traffic deaths and injuries that could take the lives of 1.9 million people annually by 2020. Graduated Driver Licensing for Teens Saves Lives Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of death for teens. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) reduces the crash risk for new teen drivers 20 to 40 percent by emphasizing experience while minimizing hazards like nighttime driving. Look up GDL laws in your state.
By the numbers / 7,630 Fatalities - An estimated 7,630 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the first three months of 2012, a 13.2 percent increase over the first quarter of 2011. This reverses a historic downward trend in fatalities during the past several years. Source: Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities, First Quarter 2012 (download), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1.7 Million - More than 1.7 million people participate annually - 67 million since 1964 - in the National Safety Council's (NSC's) defensive driving program. Download NSC defensive driving tips. Source: Defensive Driving, National Safety Council 1 in 3 Drivers - One in three drivers surveyed in 2009 felt less safe compared to five years before. And distracted driving (which killed 5,474 people and injured 448,000 the same year) was cited as the single most common reason for feeling that way. Source: 2009 Traffic Safety Index (download), AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety; Distracted Driving 2009 (download), National Highway Safety Administration
Human health and food safety compromised despite laws As Americans we want to trust the federal agencies that are designed to protect us, such as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is charged with developing and enforcing food safety laws across the country. But what happens when these organizations are the ones breaking the very laws they established? Feeling violated In a May 2013 audit from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency reported that although FSIS food safety laws exist they were not being properly enforced. Several swine slaughter plants that were evaluated as part of the report had hundreds of violations; some with repeat offenses. According to the OIG, this is because "FSIS' enforcement policies do not deter swine slaughter plants from becoming repeat violators of food safety regulations." Of the 44,128 noncompliance records issued to 616 plants by the FSIS from 2008 through 2011, only 28 plants were suspended. (A noncompliance record is the first of the FSIS' six-step enforcement program.) Without consequence, these plants were allowed to continue "business as usual". This includes slaughterhouses with reports of fecal matter, urine, and grease smears on processed meat products. It's as if the food safety laws that were put into place don't exist at all. Fighting for Your Food Unfortunately, these food safety violations are not the only ones impacting human health today. At Clifford Law Offices, we have been made aware of numerous legal infractions in the food industry and we are dedicated to righting these wrongs for our clients and the general public. Bob Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, recently wrote a column on food safety and important laws affecting Americans. In addition, he is currently serving as plaintiffs' counsel for Kane v. Chobani, a food mislabeling lawsuit in the Northern District of California.
Study into Auto Accidents Could be Clue to Best Decisions for Illinois Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has yet to approve the bill to raise the Illinois speed limit on non-urban interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph. But some motorists may already be concerned that an Illinois speed limit increase could be the harbinger of more auto accidents and fatalities. It's a Numbers Thing Whenever new legislation is proposed, it's typical for people to refer to data to justify the need, or the lack thereof, for updated rules and regulations. The case of the Illinois speed limit increase is no different. According to an article by the American Automobile Association (AAA), there was a 39 percent increase in auto accident fatalities involving big trucks in 2010. That was the year Illinois introduced a speed limit increase for big rigs that went from 55 mph to 65 mph for much of the state's highways. The same article confirms that while roadway fatalities in Illinois dropped 12 percent from 2008 through 2011, the fatalities during that time that were due to speeding rose nearly 14 percent. Making a Connection These claims by the AAA could lead one to believe that increasing the speed limit in Illinois is unwise; however, there are many studies and factors to be considered when making such a significant decision. After all, the choice that Governor Quinn will eventually have to make will not only impact travel across the state but also the lives of the millions of motorists who drive these roadways every day.
Map Shows State-by-State Licensing Information The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education features an interactive map that shows state licensing and regulation information for child care. Is Your Day Care Provider Accredited? Find Out Accredited providers have met child care standards higher than most state licensing requirements. Look up providers through the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association for Family Child Care, two of the nation's largest accrediting organizations. Checklist Rates Care Providers on 38 Indicators Arm yourself with this checklist (download) when visiting potential child care providers. Child Care Aware of America has created a cross reference of 38 quality indicators based on what is important to a child's health, safety and development.
By the numbers / 38 States Report - Just 38 states require licensed child care providers to report fatalities to state officials. Child care centers in 12 states and home-based providers in 11 states are not required to report fatalities. There is also no federal reporting requirement. Source: Why Aren't We Outraged? Children Dying in Child Care Across America, Child Care Aware of America 4:1 Staffing Ratio - National standards recommend that there be one care provider for every four children aged 13 to 30 months. Ratios increase as the age of the children increases. Source: Choosing a Child Care Center, American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org $972 Per Month - Costs vary by location, but parents can anticipate paying $972 per month on average for a baby or toddler at a day care center, and $650 per month for home day care. Source: Childcare Options: Pros, Cons and Cost, Babycenter.com
As personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, Clifford Law Offices is all too familiar with accidents in the home and on the job. The one thing many of them have in common: they could have been prevented. This notion of accident prevention is exactly what the National Safety Council (NSC) seeks to promote each June during its National Safety Month. Along with educating organizations and influencing behaviors that typically cause preventable injuries and deaths, the NSC encourages individuals within organizations to create a safety culture. Clifford Law Offices supports the initiatives of National Safety Month as a way to mitigate accidents, especially those like the downstate Illinois grain bin explosion. National Safety Month Highlights To help facilitate safety leaders across organizations, the NSC has created an introductory video about National Safety Month. Each week, the agency will discuss a different theme from preventing slips and trips to emergency preparedness. Driving safety and summer safety tips will also be featured. For more information or to make National Safety Month a part of your organization, visit the NSC's campaign page.
In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed a final rule requiring pilots to get a minimum of 10 hours of rest prior to duty, an imposition that is designed to improve airline passenger safety. The rule was created after federal investigators determined that pilot fatigue was the cause of a Colgan Air crash in upstate New York. Now we're finding it may not be just pilots that need a watchful eye. According to a June 1, 2013 report by the Chicago Tribune, flight attendants are also showing signs of impaired judgment and decreased performance while on the job. Why then, we ask, is there not a similar sleep rule for flight attendants? Risks to Airline Passenger Safety In a 2010 study of flight attendant work/sleep patterns conducted by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), it was shown that: * Flight attendants sleep an average of 6.3 hours on days off, but only 5.7 hours on work days; and * Flight attendants working international operations slept only 4.9 hours on average, and less efficiently than colleagues in domestic operations. Clearly, the average amount of sleep that flight attendants reported is a far cry from pilotsÕ 10-hour requirements, which are set to go into effect January 2014. There is potential risk in these findings, as flight attendants are responsible for a significant portion of airline passenger safety, including emergency evacuations. Will the FAA move toward creating a rule for airline crew that goes beyond pilots? Time will tell. In the meantime, we point to the CAMI report, which states, "...fatigue is a pervasive condition across the flight attendant community."
Traditionally, cruise lines charge their highest prices during the summer season, but with the Costa Concordia sinking last year and the Carnival Triumph debacle this winter we were left wondering will industry sales be heavily impacted as we head into the warmer months? The survey says yes. In a Harris Interactive Poll, more than half (53%) of those surveyed answered "somewhat agree" or "strongly agree" with the statement "I am less likely to take a cruise now than I was a year ago." That could mean financial trouble if customers sail away from vacations at sea, especially during high season when the industry sees the greatest profit. But the maritime accident victims whose psychological, physical and emotional wounds may never fully heal will feel the deepest losses. Clifford Law Offices, having experience in transportation-related personal injury and wrongful death cases, is no stranger to maritime accidents and the devastation they can leave behind for victims and their families. The firm's maritime injury attorneys represented a suburban Chicago man who was injured when a powerboat rammed his catamaran in Lake Michigan, cutting his watercraft in two. The lawyers at Clifford Law Offices have also worked closely with other attorneys around the world in representing victims of mass disasters, helping secure justice for those whose lives have been impacted by these tragic events.
By the numbers / 2 to 4 Million Hurt - Between 2 to 4 million Americans suffered serious, disabling or fatal injuries after using prescription drugs in 2011, based on estimates from data issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Source: QuarterWatch May 2012, Institute for Safe Medication Practices 80 Percent Generic - Even though nearly 80 percent of all prescriptions written in the United States are filled with generic drugs, the U.S. Supreme Court recently made it nearly impossible to bring suit against generic drug manufacturers when their products cause injury. Source: Generic Drugs, Take Justice Back 2/3 2/3 Labeled Wrong - A new study finds that more than two-thirds of generic drugs have some labeling discrepancies. Of more than 1,000 generic drugs reviewed, most had small differences compared to brand-name drugs. However, 9 percent had differences of more than 10 side effects. Source: Inconsistency Seen in Safety Labeling for Generic Drugs, US News & World Report Health
When an aviation disaster occurs, the families of the victims are often left to deal with an array of difficult emotions and circumstances. For one such family member, Jennifer Stansberry Miller, it was a reality that she was not prepared to handle. Unfortunately, as she found out at the time, neither was the aviation industry. The End that Started it All On October 31, 1994, Jennifer's brother, Brad, was killed in the plane crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 in Roselawn, Indiana, an aviation disaster that killed all 64 passengers and 4 crewmembers on board. A series of disturbing events, from receiving misidentified remains to never identifying Brad's body, led Jennifer and her family down a path that would ensure a more compassionate, thorough process for victims' families in the future. She wouldn't have to do it alone; she joined other individuals who had been through similar experiences and were escalating the issue to the United States Congress, where the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 was put into law. Now, almost 19 years later, Jennifer co-launched an outreach program for victims' family members called the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Project. The objective is to determine whether or not the processes that were put into place in the late '90s are helping people today. Jennifer, along with facilitator, Terri Henry Severin, assembled a lengthy survey to get a better understanding of how well the Act serves victims' families after an aviation disaster. The results of the survey can be found here or by visiting the website for The Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Project. The hope is that the work that Jennifer and Terri are doing will help to ensure families are provided the services and care they need after tragic events.