Lower Drunk Driving Threshold To .05 Blood Alcohol Level?

shutterstock_13811443-300x200According to the Associated Press, a federal safety board just recommended that states should cut their drunken driving threshold by nearly 1/2, from .08 blood alcohol level to .05. Apparently research shows that the .05 standard has significantly reduced deaths in other countries. In fact, over 100 countries have adopted this .05 standard. Within ten years in Europe, traffic deaths related to drunken driving were reduced by more than half. So what does a .05 alcohol level mean to drivers? It means a woman weighing less than 120 pounds can get a DUI after one drink, and a man weighing 160 pounds can be hauled off for two drinks. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 80-proof alcohol.

The National Transportation Safety Board indicated it didn’t intend to prevent drivers from having a glass of wine with dinner. However, if one does have a drink or two, the safest bet is to not drive. The fact is that alcohol concentration levels as low as .01 can impair driving performance. Levels as low as .05 substantially increase the risk of fatal crashes, said the NTSB.

Jonathan Adkins, an official with the Governors Highway Safety Association said, “It was very difficult to get .08 in most states so lowering it again won’t be popular. The focus in the states is on high blood alcohol content offenders as well as repeat offenders. We expect industry will also be very vocal about keeping the limit at .08.” The term “industry,” of course, means the alcohol industry which has a huge lobby in government.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated that 7,082 deaths could have been prevented in 2010 if all drivers on the road had blood alcohol content below .08. As this story unfolds further, it will be interesting to see how far the NTSB’s recommendations get at the state level. But the fact remains, drunk drivers need to stay off our roads at all costs.

If you or someone you care about has sustained injuries from a drunk driving accident in Dallas, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Dallas auto accident attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right. Remember – You’re under no obligation to use our services, and we charge nothing if you do not win your claim.

Zolpidem (Ambien) ER Visits On The Rise

ambienZolpidem is a prescription sleep medication that is sending more and more people to emergency rooms from its serious side effects. Never heard of Zolpidem? Well, I bet you’ve heard of Ambien. Zolpidem is the active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist. But the most common among these is Ambien.

I’ve heard countless stories of people doing some pretty crazy things on Ambien – like sleepwalking into a 7-11 while in their pajamas. I’ve also heard some horrific stories about terrible nightmares and hallucinations from taking Ambien.

According to a new federal report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Action Network (DAWN), from 2005-2010, visits to emergency rooms from the adverse side effects of Zolpidem increased by over 200 percent. The findings of this report are as follows:

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  • In 2010, there were 64,175 emergency-department visits involving zolpidem. Of these, 19,487 — or 30 percent — specifically involved adverse reactions to the sleep medication.
  • In 2005, there were just 6,111 emergency-room visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep drug. During the period 2005-2010, emergency-department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem rose almost 220 percent.
  • Women accounted for 68 percent of emergency-department visits related to adverse reactions to zolpidem in 2010. The differences between men and women fluctuated during the five-year period, but overall women made up a greater number of the zolpidem-related emergency visits in every year but 2008.
  • The number of emergency room visits made by women involving adverse effects of zolpidem increased by 274 percent from 2005-2010. Visits by men increased 144 percent.
  • Adults ages 45 and older accounted for 74 percent of all emergency room visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.
  • Patients ages 65 and older were the most common age group to seek emergency treatment for adverse reactions to zolpidem – 32 percent.
  • Patients ages 45-54 were the next largest group, accounting for 22 percent of all visits.
  • Of the total visits to emergency room visits related to adverse effects of zolpidem, 40 percent involved the sleep drug alone.
  • In 50 percent of the cases, one or more additional prescription drugs were involved.
  • The most common prescription drugs seen in combination with zolpidem’s adverse effects included narcotic pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other insomnia medications.
  • Research also has shown that older adults are at greater risk for adverse effects from sleep medications, including those containing zolpidem.

In January of this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Zolpidem safety alert and announced it would require drug makers to cut in half the recommended dosages of medications containing zolpidem for women. The agency also recommended lowering the dosages for men, and urged medical professionals to warn all patients taking zolpidem about potential side effects. Sleep medications that contain zolpidem should be prescribed on a short-term basis only in severe cases of sleep disorders.

Big Pharma has once again created a monster with medications containing zolpidem. And as usual, rather than treating the problem, American doctors prescribe these pills to alleviate the symptoms.

Bounce House Operators Must Carry Liability, But Not Fertilizer Companies?

Plant_Explosion_Investigation_1-300x207Karl Magerheimer owns a family bounce house business for which Texas law requires him to carry $1 million in liability insurance. Of course, kids get hurt by bounce houses that are not properly secured and flip over. So this law is not unreasonable.  Other businesses required to have insurance covering injuries, deaths and property damage include home exterminators, air conditioning repairmen, tow truck drivers and many more.

Conversely, plants that house and mix dangerous materials like West Fertilizer Co. in West, Texas are a different story.  On April 17, 5 people were killed and 200 more were injured due to fire and explosion of mammoth proportions in West. Three state agencies couldn’t explain why NO liability insurance coverage was required for such companies.  Additionally, the Texas Department of Insurance reported that it only oversees insurance companies and the amusement ride industry.  According to insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins, “We don’t make law.  We implement law.”

The tragedy in West, Texas brings to light how flawed the system truly is in regard to insurance coverage.  During a hearing last week of the House homeland and security and public safety committee, this issue was discussed.  As is standard protocol with any governmental agency, change will be super-slow.  Joe Pickett, an El Paso Democrat who chairs the committee, said it was “too late in the legislation session” to get anything done in a timely manner.  “We don’t even have enough information,” he said.  Pickett called for a mid-June hearing to give all agencies and lawmakers more time for information.

There is apparently no governmental list of which businesses must have liability coverage.  However, most businesses carry liability coverage as standard industry practice.  In the case of West, Texas, the fertilizer company had only $1 million in coverage.  What’s worse, if the plant is found negligent, its policy would only pay $100 million in property losses that were estimated by the Insurance Council of Texas.  So why did West Fertilizer only carry $1 million in coverage when there was such potential for hazardous disasters?  We have no answers from either the company or its insurer to date.  The awful explosion literally took down hundreds of homes and structures in a 35-block radius.  Imagine the magnitude of 35 blocks!  The cause of the blast is yet to be determined, but it is speculated that the plant’s storage of ammonium nitrate, which is widely used as a crop fertilizer and part of an explosive mixture in mining, is the culprit.  West stored around 270 tons of this hazardous substance last year – one of the largest stores in Texas.

Two negligence suits have been filed against West Fertilizer on behalf of its victims by Tyler attorney Randy C. Roberts, who said his clients are in a real bind.  $1 million dollars is a drop in the bucket for compensation of their losses

Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council, sounded like he was making excuses by saying that $1 million is a common amount for commercial property coverage, and that explosions triggered by ammonium nitrate don’t happen frequently.  In the defense of West Fertilizer and its insurance company, he claimed that they may have balanced that fact against the risks. He went on to say that lawmakers do not like to tell businesses how much insurance to purchase.

Really?  Then why are amusement ride owners required to have proof of minimum insurance and an annual safety inspection?  In fact, the amounts are at least $1 million per incident for bodily injury and $500,000 for property damage.  Additionally, the Department of Agriculture has similar requirements of residential and business pest companies, with at least $200,000 in liability for bodily injury and property damage.

According to the Dallas Morning News, no one in our state government keeps a centralized list of businesses required by law to have liability coverage.  But here is a list the publication identified:

*combined bodily injury and property damage per occurrence

**insurance required by law but amount not proscribed

Amusement ride operators$1.5 million
Elevator/escalator contractors$1.5 million
Residential appliance installers$600,000
Emergency medical services providers$500,000
Tow trucks (non-accident work)$300,000
Structural pest control$300,000
Used automotive parts recyclers$250,000
Emergency/personal fall alarm responders$200,000
Air conditioning (lowest level)$200,000
Substance abuse treatment facilities**N/A

NOTES: Certain companies, such as those handling hazardous waste, must show proof of financial responsibility to cover third parties. Combative sports like mixed-martial arts and boxing provide surety bonds and medical coverage.

SOURCES: Departments of Insurance, Agriculture, Licensing and Regulation, and State Health Services; and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from commercial premises, industrial and construction site accidents. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

One Woman’s Surgical Mesh Horror Story

Medical Devices

shutterstock_128950211-300x200Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) affects approximately 13 million American women.  This embarrassing condition can literally change a woman’s life, as she never knows when she’ll leak urine while coughing, laughing, sneezing, having intercourse or performing virtually any physical activity.  Suzanne McClain is one of these women.

In 2004, Suzanne’s doctor told her that her SUI was an “easy fix.”  The doctor recommended outpatient surgery to support her weakened muscles and bladder by implanting a surgical mesh “sling.”  He even went on to say that it was better than wearing a diaper for the rest of her life.  He proposed Transvaginal Tension-Free mesh (TVT) which is manufactured by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson.  This mesh is made of polypropylene, and is a woven knit fabric that is pliable enough to form a sling.

Suzanne’s doctor was right. It was an easy fix for four years…until complications arose.  And the complications were horrendous.  Suzanne developed an infection which came with a terrible odor.  She tried using Monistat and antibiotics, but nothing worked.  Her doctor gave her estrogen cream to deal with the problem, at which point Suzanne made the decision to never return to him.

In July 2008, she went to a urogynecologist, who told her the mesh from the sling had eroded through her vaginal wall, causing her the awful symptoms she was experiencing. A month later, surgery was performed to remove what amounted to about 1/3 of the mesh.  The surgeon tried to extract the rest but it had become enmeshed with her own tissues.  Suzanne was told that if the mesh continued to erode, it would need to be removed through her abdomen, which is a complicated surgery that can be extremely dangerous.

Suzanne was never warned of the risks of surgical mesh slings.  In fact, the surgeons who are trained by the manufacturers of these slings claim an 80 to 95 percent cure rate for SUI.  After her surgery, Suzanne decided to do some Googling and her findings were astounding – hundreds of women were suffering from the same problems she experienced, but were too embarrassed to go public with their issues.  It was at that point that Suzanne decided to join the patient advocacy group, Truth in Medicine, to demand a Congressional hearing for surgical mesh to be removed from the market.

Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm is currently helping hundreds of transvaginal mesh and bladder sling victims and their families recover damages from their devastating TVM complications. If you or someone you know suffered injuries from this product, please call the DFW Metroplex’s expert medical device attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley for a complementary and confidential consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Recent Vets Have 75% Higher Vehicular Mortality Rates

shutterstock_17890870-300x199As we all know, many veterans must deal with the devastating effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). But that’s not the only problem soldiers face. Believe it or not, veterans of both wars have a 75% higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than civilians. In fact, those STILL in the military have a higher risk of crashing their vehicles months after returning home. And the men and women who served in multiple combat zones are at the highest risk of those accidents.

These findings are based on research and observation of service members, veterans and counselors. The explanation given is that soldiers who had to maneuver throughout roads in war zones did so with the intention of saving lives. However, those same driving habits are highly dangerous on America’s roads. Some of these maneuvers include racing through intersections, driving in two lanes, swerving on bridges and not wearing seat belts because they prevent them from what they perceive as a rapid escape.

Another major contributing factor is the obvious – PTSD. Thousands of veterans suffer from this horrible disorder, and unfortunately, a major symptom of PTSD is drunken driving. This evidence is based on both research and testimonies from other veterans.

According to Bruce H. Jones, a physician and epidemiologist who heads the Army’s Injury Prevention Program at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, “Before suicides became the leading cause of non-battle injuries, motor vehicle accidents were.”

Further research is needed but it is anticipated that findings will support the fact that motor vehicle crashes will rival suicide and interpersonal violence as a consequence of fighting overseas. Motor vehicle accidents in the military are nothing new, however. From 1999 – 2012, as many active-duty military personnel died in noncombat vehicle crashes both on and off duty as were killed in the Iraq war (with 4,423 deaths from accidents and 4,409 killed in Iraq). These are astounding statistics!

Men who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have a 76% higher rate of dying in motor vehicle crashes and women have a 43% higher rate than civilians. This same phenomenon happened with Persian Gulf War veterans.

Motorcycle crashes among veterans resulted in increased fatalities during these wars, accounting for 14% of military traffic deaths in 2001 and rising to 38% in 2008. The total rate of motorcycle deaths tripled during this period.

Safety For Workers, And Its Real Cost

shutterstock_111007946-300x300One primary reason that industrial and manufacturing companies don’t take better precautions? Why, money of course. Most companies are in the business of making money, period. And the risk to their workers becomes secondary to that goal. West, Texas… anyone?

Below is a great article I found on The Huffington Post:

One Reason Accidents Happen Is Because Safety Costs Money

Original Article By: David Macaray

There’s a reason why so many industrial and manufacturing companies resort to almost any means (some of them not entirely legal) to dissuade employees from joining a labor union. Besides having to offer higher wages and improved benefits (and giving employees a voice in how they’re treated by management), they are required to provide a safe work environment. The union’s on-site safety committee will demand it.

While no company wants to see its employees maimed or killed, it goes without saying that every company is interested in saving money. After all, with the bottom-line being what it’s all about, most companies are hyper-aware that safety programs cost money. Money for structural integrity, money for regular maintenance, money for machine guards, money for ergonomics, money for training.

The collapse of the building in Savar, Bangladesh, a suburb of Dhaka, on April 24, which killed hundreds of textile workers (the exact number is still to be determined), is tragic testimony to that fact. While one’s first impulse is to write off those Bangladeshi mills as Third World hell-holes–low wages, teenage workers (mainly girls), long hours, deplorable conditions–it should be noted that they’re probably no worse than American textile mills of a century ago.

It’s true. American mills of the late 19th and early 20th century were horrendously grim enterprises, cramped, poorly lighted industrial dungeons, something straight out of a Dickens’ novel. Of course, today’s factories (at least the ones that haven’t been shipped overseas) are bright, clean and relatively safe. So what happened? What caused those New England textile mills of a century ago to improve themselves?

Does credit go to our politicians? Was these improvements the result of changes in state and federal laws? Or was it the Church who, having seen enough degradation, finally chose to intervene? Or perhaps it was an outcry from the general public, demanding that workers (even young immigrant women) be treated humanely? Answer: None of the above. It was the rise of the American labor movement that made it possible.

Which takes us back to Bangladesh (and tangentially, to Vietnam, Indonesia, Honduras, Malaysia, the Philippines, et al). Bangladesh’s economy is almost totally dependent upon textiles. When you talk about Bangladesh revenue, you’re talking about one thing: textiles. As alarming an observation as it is, if you took away the garment industry, there would be no Bangladesh.

The New York Times reported (April 29, 2013) that there are a staggering 100,000 garment factories in and around the city of Dhaka, employing 3,000,000 people, but that there are only 18 full-time safety inspectors to monitor the industry. That number is not only miniscule, it’s close to ridiculous. And of course, all of the aforementioned countries, with Bangladesh leading the charge, are vehemently anti-union.

But increasing the number of roving safety field agents isn’t the answer, not in Bangladesh, not in Vietnam, not in the U.S. Just as Wall Street easily outwits government agents assigned to ferret out financial mischief, businesses regularly sidestep federal safety watchdogs. People who say we don’t need labor unions because we have OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), don’t understand OSHA. Even OSHA reps (and I’ve spoken to them personally) will admit they can’t do it all. The agency is under-funded, under-manned, and under-appreciated.

That Bangladesh building collapse was no more a coincidence than was the Massey coal mine explosion in West Virginia, on April 5, 2010, the one that killed 29 miners. Massey was a non-union mine. Companies are nothing if not inveterate cost-cutters, and accordingly, safety programs cost money. Say what you will about labor unions, but they aren’t going to ignore unsafe working conditions, not when their lives depend on it.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from industrial and construction site accident lawsuits. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Link to the original article.

Offshore Workers Death Rate 7x Higher

shutterstock_131543975-300x200According to a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offshore oil and gas workers are seven times more likely to die on the job than average US workers. From 2003 to 2010, the CDC revealed that 128 people died in such accidents as 2010’s Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, which killed eleven people. This accident was mentioned in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Out of the 128 people who died, 65 were related to transportation and 49 of those 65 were due to helicopter accidents caused primarily by poor weather and mechanical failures. In 2009, new safety measures were implemented and as of the end of 2012, there have been no weather-related helicopter crashes.

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the death rate for offshore workers is 27.1 per 100,000. Conversely, the average death rate for US workers is 3.8 per 100,000. The facts speak for themselves. What’s worse, these offshore oil and gas workers only made an average of $37,640 a year in 2010. Perhaps the death toll and low pay are the primary reasons CNBC named this profession “one of the worst 10 jobs in America” in early April. Safety conditions for this type of dangerous work must be held to higher standards. Furthermore, the families of the victims of these deaths should be fairly compensated for their losses. Just like Big Pharma, the oil and gas industry is extremely profitable. The corporations behind these travesties of justice must be held accountable.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from industrial and worksite accident lawsuits. If you or someone you know suffered injuries this or any other type of accident, please call us for a complementary consultation. You are under no obligation to use our services. Call us today at 214-526-7900, or submit the short case review form on the right.

Workplace Accidents Kill More Than Terrorist Attacks

texas-explosion-300x199Given all the initial press surrounding Boston, MA and West, TX, labor advocates are attempting to put the spotlight on an important issue – workplace safety.  Various groups pushing for safety at the workplace or in factories claim that hazardous conditions are mostly ignored by the media and general public.  However in 2011, workplace accidents killed 4,609 Americans, while only 17 Americans died from terrorist attacks.

There were many theories surrounding the explosion, but once they were ruled out, media coverage died down and the primary focus remained on the Boston Marathon.The West, Texas explosion was determined to be an industrial accident which killed 14 people and injured 200.

So why did that make this horrible incident far less important than the Boston Marathon to the media?  Primarily because the Boston bombings comprised the first major attack on our country since September 11, 2001.  Additionally, Grant Duwe, author of “Mass Murder in the United States: A History,” said last week that “History has shown that the public is generally more interested in crime which is unusual and dramatic and something that is violent and occurs infrequently.”

But the fact remains that what happened in West was tragic in terms of lives lost and injuries. There were tons of potentially explosive chemicals at the fertilizer plant.  However, regulators paid no attention to the possibility of danger.  Further, the company’s emergency response plan which was filed with the Environment Protection Agency in 2011, reported that there was no risk of fire or explosion at the plant – a ludicrous claim.   And the last time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited this plant was in 1985.  This agency has been grossly understaffed and underfunded for quite sometime.

Will workplace safety ever become a priority in this country?  Only time will tell.  But undoubtedly, more resources and manpower must be devoted to this important issue.

Don’t Text and Drive!

Aside, Auto Accidents

stop-texting-300x200According to a recent article in the Texas Tribune, texting and driving may become illegal later this year and rightly so.  Most of us are guilty of looking at texts while behind the wheel. For some reason, we’re unable to resist the temptation.  For some, there’s a misconception that a phone call can wait, but a text requires an immediate response.

And then there are those of us who would never text and drive.  But with voice-to-text technology that transcribes your spoken words into text form, we’re totally safe in doing so, right?  Wrong.  A new study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute finds that voice-to-text technology is just as dangerous as texting while driving. Coincidentally, this study was released while lawmakers are determining whether to pass House Bill 63, which would be a Texas-wide ban on sending text messages.  Many Texas cities already have their own bands in place.  This bill has already passed the House and the Senate will now vote on it. Two years ago, the bill was passed but Governor Rick Perry vetoed it.  According to Perry, the bill was “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”  This past March, he was quoted as saying “The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement.”

The lead author of the study said that new technologies such as speaking into a phone don’t protect drivers from having accidents. The study involved 43 research subjects who drove cars on a closed course.  The first time they drove, they did so with no distractions.  Then they were required to perform several activities, including texting, and voice-to-text technology.  Results indicate that driver reaction times were nearly two times slower than the baseline condition, no matter which texting method was used, according to the study.  Eye gazes to the forward roadway also significantly decreased.  Despite these findings, drivers perceived that they were safer using the voice method of texting.

Prior to approving any statewide ban, lawmakers want to see more data, as well as educational campaigns that will alert the public of the dangers of distracted driving. Earlier in April, the Texas Department of Transportation launched a campaign. On Monday, the House passed HB 437, by state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.  This bill would enforce current laws which prohibit all use cellphones on public school grounds, protecting children from distracted driving.

If you have been injured in a wreck through no fault of your own, the expert Dallas car accident accident of Reyes Browne Reilley can help. Call us today for your FREE consultation!

Irving Texas Bus Crash Update

Auto Accidents

irvingbuscrashupdate-april2013-300x194On April 11, 2013, a tragic bus collision occurred on the President George Bush Turnpike (State Highway 161) in Irving, Texas.  The bus was carrying many elderly citizens to Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma.  For an unknown reason, the bus driver lost control of the bus and it flipped on its side.

At this time, we don’t have all the facts.  We do know that prior depositions from a civil lawsuit filed against Loyd Rieve, Cardinal Coach Line’s bus driver, show the driver’s previous employer recommended firing him after several collisions, tickets and complaints.  For some unknown and grossly negligent reason, Cardinal Coach Line decided it was worth the risk to put many lives in his hands.  That decision, along with other negligent acts and omissions by Cardinal Coach Line has left two dead and over 40 others injured.

It is devastating that two families lost loved ones in this collision.  One family hired our law firm to uncover all the facts and bring justice for those suffering.  The family wants answers and we will work aggressively and diligently to get the family justice.  We filed suit on Monday afternoon against Cardinal Coach Line, Inc. and Loyd Rieve.  We already have a team of experts that have started their investigation as to what happened and how this deadly collision should have been avoided.

Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for victims and their families from tragedies such as this one.  If you or someone you know suffered injuries in this crash or any other type of accident, please call DFW’s elite car accident attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley for a complementary consultation.  You are under no obligation to use our services.  We will continue to work hard to keep our roads safe for our families.