CBS Boston ran a story about one of the Boston Marathon survivors. Titled “Marathon Bombing Survivor Struggles With ‘Invisible Injury’,” it describes what many of our brain injured clients have to deal with. If you or a loved one has suffered from a concussion or other brain injury, it’s worth a watch:
It’s not enough to have the life jacket. You need to make sure you have the right life jacket for your size, your activities, and the water conditions you might be encountering.
The Safe Boating Council has these guidelines:
Try It On
- Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
- Make sure the life jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
- Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up.
- If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
- It is extremely important that you choose a properly fitting life jacket.
- Life jackets that are too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous.
- Life jackets that are too small will not be able to keep your body afloat.
- Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
- Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities.
- Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems.
- Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
I’m going to talk about statistics later in the week, but I wanted to start with the most important safety advice for boating: WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in almost three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2012 and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
I know when I was a kid and my dad lived on Lake Austin, I couldn’t wait to turn 14 so I wouldn’t have to wear a life jacket. Frankly, I was an idiot. Too many things can easily go wrong if you’re not wearing your life jacket. In most emergencies, you won’t have time to get life jackets out of storage and pass out to all your guests. Or heaven forbid you hit your head on something and get knocked unconscious. Wearing a life jacket in advance is the only way to protect you in those circumstances.
Don’t let your vanity cost you your life.
Over the course of the week, I’ll have a few posts detailing the dangers and safety measures related to safe boating. For today, I’ll give you the big overview of what you should do to make your trips out on our waterways just a little safer.
1. Avoid drinking and driving. This should go without saying, but a significant percentage of boating accidents involve alcohol. Even worse, being on the water magnifies the effects of alcohol. I’ve heard that one drink on the water is equal to four drinks on land. I’m not sure that’s completely accurate, but it’s probably close.
2. Use your lights. Austin Lake Police have indicated that one of the biggest risks of danger is night time collisions.
3. Wear your life vest. The law requires you to have one life jacket on the boat for each person. But if something goes wrong, you might not have the opportunity to grab a life jacket from storage. Be safe and wear it instead.
4. Look out for others. As the lake crowds increase, make sure you are cognizant of other skiiers, tubers and wakeboarders. And always remember that as you follow, they could fall in an instant. On the other hand, when you voluntarily stop to get in and out of the water, make sure that you are doing so in as safe a place as possible.
I’ve been writing for almost two years about the driving dangers created by the Texas oil boom, especially those dangers in the Eagle Ford Shale region. A new article about the increase of road deaths from the energy boom has me thinking about it again. In the article, the Karnes County Sheriff noted that historically, they used to have wrecks serious enough to require air transport of victims only a few times per month. Now, that’s happening three to four times PER WEEK.
These dangers come from all angles. First, there is danger from the sheer volume of trucks. Whenever I drive through South East Texas, I’m just shocked at the number of trucks on the road.
Second, where there are profits for pressure, trucking companies take shortcuts. In the recent article, Karnes County officers acknowledge that the truckers are violating safety rules, including driving more hours than the law allows. The Karnes County Sheriff cited two recent wrecks between school buses and trucks where the truck drivers acknowledged that they were just too tired.
Finally, the increased truck traffic is actually creating dangers by causing the roads to deteriorate. The Texas Trucking Association admits that many of these roads weren’t designed for the amount of truck traffic being seen on those roads today. The roads can’t handle the traffic, and it’s leading to all kinds of dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any good solutions for this problem, and it’s only a problem that will get bigger and bigger as the amount of miles continue to increase.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking or automobile wreck, please let us help. Call (512)476-4944 to set up an appointment.
Austin has had a rash of drunk driving injuries in the last several months, including the huge SXSW wreck.
After Kelly Noel, a local popular blogger, was killed by a drunk driver this weekend, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is calling for a summit on drunk driving issues. The article noted that fifty-five percent of Austin’s traffic fatalities this year involved drivers who were impaired by alcohol or drugs.
I don’t know whether a summit is the answer. But I am encouraged by the discussion. Like alcoholism, recognizing you have a problem might be the first step in treating it.
Unfortunately, this larger problem only reflects what we’re seeing in our firm. Over the last couple of years, we have been helping more and more clients who are being seriously injured by drunk drivers. And while most of these cases have been late night wrecks, it seems there are more and more happening during the day.
This might be better for another article, but if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, and you’re looking for a lawyer to help, make sure the lawyer has ample experience in representing victims of DWI or DUI. Most lawyers treat these as run of the mill car wreck cases. But they aren’t. There are a number of important steps and tactics that good attorneys utilize to help increase the value of your case. Make sure you have a lawyer who can adequately represent you and your interests.
But my perspective on these things changed about six weeks ago. At that time, my son was playing baseball, fell and hit his head, and he sustained a concussion.
Naturally, because of my experience in head injury cases, I panicked and feared the worst.
Once we took him to the hospital and had him undergo a CT scan to rule out a hidden brain bleed, my fears were reduced. At that time, he had some headaches, a little bit of dizziness when standing up, and a little bit of nausea. I knew from my experience that, once the brain bleed was ruled out, he’d likely be fine with a little (or a lot) of rest and time as long as he didn’t sustain a second concussion before his brain healed (second-impact syndrome – problems caused when a person has a second concussion before being healed from an initial concussion – can be catastrophic).
But then, we were faced with the harder question, “How do we know when he’s better? When is it okay to let him start participating in activities again? He looks fine, he isn’t having symptoms, but how do we know his brain is actually healed?”
Going through his treatment, we learned about ImPACT testing. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a widely-used and scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. This test measures cognitive abilities and cognitive processing of participants. When people take the test after a concussion, it can help medical providers make a determination of when the injured brain is healed.
But the key is having a baseline —- knowing what your cognitive abilities and processing are BEFORE you sustain a concussion. That way, doctors know whether you’re scoring as well as you did before you had the brain injury.
In our case, we didn’t know about the test before my son’s accident, and we didn’t have a baseline. My son’s medical providers were able to take his test scores and compare them to averages, but they weren’t able to definitively tell us if his brain was able to think and process as well as it did before the concussion.
But that’s a problem. And it’s why the NFL, MLB, NHL, NASCAR and many universities and school districts require their athletes to have a baseline ImPACT test and score before the athletes are allowed to participate in those sports.
Having gone through this, I think more parents need to know about it. If you or your child participate in sports, dance, cheer or other athletic activities, I urge you to have your child take the baseline test sooner rather than later. The baseline test is relatively inexpensive. I know that the specialist who treated my son offer the pre-concussion testing for $20. This testing cane be done online, at home. This is a small price to pay to help protect your kids.
If you want to learn more or find someone in your area who can administer a baseline test, visit the ImPACT website at www.impacttest.com.
The folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab have used all that MIT brainpower to put together an interactive map showing Austin’s bike wrecks.
Using data from the Texas Department of Transportation, they’ve mapped over 1,400 wrecks to come up with this map. Not only does the map show the location for the wrecks, but it also provides statistics on what roads have the most wrecks, and it allows you to see the Google Street View shot for each wreck location.
So what streets are most dangerous for Austin cyclists: Guadalupe Street, South Congress Avenue, IH 35, North Lamar, South First Street, and East Riverside Drive.
This week, Insure.com, the self-proclaimed independent consumer insurance website, released its list of Best Insurance Companies based on customer satisfaction rankings. The company surveyed 3,835 customers of 15 large insurers in auto, home, and health insurance, and 14 in life insurance.
The survey asked about:
- customer service
- claims satisfaction
- value for price paid
- percent who plan to renew
- percent who would recommend the company
Based on their responses, the top auto insurance companies were:
- State Farm
- Auto Club of Southern California
- Liberty Mutual
- American Family
- The Hartford
- Erie Insurance Group
- Mercury General
It’s important to note, having sued drivers covered by most of these companies, I would have a different ranking. My ranking would largely be focused on what company is most reasonable in willing to admit when their drivers caused a problem, and who are willing to protect their customers by making fair settlement offers when their customers do something wrong.
Using my criteria, I’d put USAA, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, and Hartford in a top group. I’d put MetLife, Nationwide, Travelers and State Farm in a middle group. I’d put Farmers, Allstate, Progressive, and Mercury in a bottom group.
My criteria is certainly different than that used in the survey, but I also think it’s an important perspective when you’re buying insurance. Heaven forbid, if you do cause a wreck, you want to make sure your company protects you. When the company doesn’t offer enough and forces a lawsuit to be filed against you, then that’s likely the insurance company not doing its job.
Today, there was another horrific dog bite attack. This time, the dog attack happened in League City, when Chelsi Camp and her two year old daughter were attacked by a pit bull owned by Ms. Camp’s boyfriend.
This is another reminder that these types of cases are terrible. The injuries are often severe, and these types of attacks can traumatize someone, especially a child, for a lifetime.
These types of cases also have legal misconceptions. Most people believe that there is a “one free bite” rule — that a dog must have made a prior attack before the owner can be held liable for injuries caused by the dog. This is a misconception. Instead, the owner of a dog may be liable for injuries caused by the dog if the owner knows the dog has dangerous propensities. That knowledge can be proven by showing prior attacks by the dog, but that knowledge can also be proven through other means. For example, you can argue dangerous propensities by showing the dog had a history of barking at kids, jumping on people, barking at the gate when people walk by, etc. You can also prove dangerous propensities by simply showing the type of dog. In the instance above, the dog involved was a pit bull. A lawyer could argue that the owner knew the dog had dangerous propensities because pit bulls are known to be a dangerous breed of dogs.
That’s not to say these cases are easy. There are a number of complicated factors. First, you need to know whether insurance is available. If the dog owner is a homeowner, then the owner will usually have homeowner’s insurance that will typically cover your claim.
If the dog owner rents his house or apartment, that’s more difficult. If the dog owner has renter’s insurance, the liability component of the insurance will likely cover your claim. But if the dog owner doesn’t have renter’s insurance, then the claim becomes more tricky. At that point, you may be left with only making a claim against the owner of the home or apartment. It’s possible to make these claims, but it is much more difficult to sue the owner directly.
You may also be able to sue the person in charge of the dog. In this instance, Ms. Camp was petsitting for her boyfriend, and she failed to control the dog, leading to the attack. This could be an unusual situation where an attorney ad litem appointed to represent Ms. Camp’s child could file suit against Ms. Camp for Ms. Camp’s negligent conduct in failing to properly handle the dog.
As you can see, these cases are complicated. If you ever find yourself in need of an attorney in these types of cases, make sure you call us or another firm that has handled serious dog bite cases.