Lower Drunk Driving Threshold To .05 Blood Alcohol Level?

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Behavior, In The News

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 driver or alcohol-related car or truck wreck, 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

Angel Reyes III Dangerous Drugs, In The News

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:

[list type=”icons-thumbs-down”]
  • 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.
[/list]

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?

Angel Reyes III In The News, Workplace Accidents

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:

[table]
BUSINESSMIN. AMOUNT*
*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
Electricians$600,000
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
[/table]

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.

Recent Vets Have 75% Higher Vehicular Mortality Rates

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, In The News

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.

Dallas Federal Jury Orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $247 Million to Hip Implant Patients

Angel Reyes III In The News, Medical Devices

A federal jury in Dallas on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopedics unit to pay $247 million to six patients who said they were injured by defective Pinnacle hip implants.

Delivering a third straight win to patients, the jury found that the metal-on-metal hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks.

Six New York residents implanted with the devices said they experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they blamed on design flaws.

J&J, which faces more than 9,700 Pinnacle lawsuits in state and federal courts across the United States, said in a statement it would immediately begin the appeal process.

A DePuy spokeswoman said the company was still “committed to the long-term defense of the allegations in these lawsuits,” adding that the metal-on-metal hip implants were backed by a strong record of clinical data showing they were effective.

Plaintiffs claimed the companies falsely promoted the device, most commonly used to treat joint failure caused by osteoarthritis, by saying it lasted longer than similar implants that include ceramic or plastic materials.

“We thank this jury for sending a very strong message about the responsibility the defendants have to take care of their consumers,” Mark Lanier, who represented the New York patients, said in a statement.

Thursday’s verdict came in the fourth test trial over the devices in Dallas federal court, where some 9,000 of the cases are pending. Test cases have been selected for trial, and their outcomes will help gauge the value of the remaining claims and inform potential settlement talks.

J&J won the first Pinnacle test trial in 2014, but subsequent juries determined the companies to be liable.

A jury in March 2016 awarded five Texas plaintiffs $500 million in damages. That award was later cut to $150 million.

J&J and DePuy were also found liable at a trial in March, during which a jury awarded six California patients $1 billion – a verdict that was later reduced to $543 million.

DePuy ceased selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened its artificial hip regulations.

PINNACLE HIP REPLACEMENT PROBLEMS

The Pinnacle hip replacement is a total hip replacement system manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000, the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Acetabular Cup System was the predecessor to the now recalled DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement is a total hip arthroplasty intended to provide increased mobility while reducing pain in patients with damaged hip joints.

Like patients who received ASR hip replacements, it appears that those who received the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement also face an increased risk of hip failure. This is because the two hip replacement systems had similar design defects, which can lead to severe pain, dislocation of the hip implant and hip replacement failure.

Although the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants were not part of the August 2010 ASR hip recall, they are also metal-on-metal devices, and therefore carry many of the adverse side effects commonly experienced by ASR hip implant recipients. Due to the defective design associated with metal-on-metal implants, as with the ASR hip systems, many recipients of DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants have had to undergo painful revision surgeries.

DEPUY PINNACLE HIP REPLACEMENT COMPLICATIONS

Lawsuits involving the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant alleged that the all-metal version is similar in design to DePuy’s ASR hip implant, another metal-on-metal device that was recalled in August 2010. The lawsuits claimed that the all-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant caused patients to suffer the same types of complications that prompted the ASR Hip Implant recall, including:

  • Hip pain
  • DePuy Pinnacle failure
  • Elevated metallic levels
  • Need for a second hip replacement surgery
  • Hip implant loosening
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Premature failure of the implant requiring revision surgery

Additionally, patients who received the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants should be aware of symptoms associated with metal toxicity, or metallosis.  The effects of metallosis can manifest outside of the hip region. Therefore, individuals who received a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement should be mindful of any changes in their overall health and pay close attention to any symptoms related to their:

  • Heart (chest pain, shortness of breath)
  • Nerves (numbness, weakness, change in vision or hearing)
  • Thyroid (fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain)
  • Kidney (change in urination habits)