December 2008

Motor Vehicle Accidents Continue to be the #1 Killer of Children, Says World Health Organization

December 29, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

The World Health Organization has released its World Report on Child Injury Prevention. Among its findings is that motor vehicle deaths continue to be the leading cause of child fatalities. Almost a million children die around the globe annually because of accidental injuries, many of which are preventable.

The WHO Report’s Leading Causes of Accidental Child Injuries:

1. Traffic Accidents: 260,000 kids a year are killed. 10 million others are injured. This is also the #1 cause of fatalities among children, ages 10-19. Motor vehicle crashes are also the #1 cause of child disabilities.

2. Drowning Accidents: While some 3 million children survive drowning accidents each year, about 175,000 others are killed. Many drowning accident survivors suffer from permanent brain damage.

3. Burn Accidents: 96,000 kids die each year from their burn injuries.

4. Fall Accidents: 47,000 youths die every year because they fell. Hundreds of thousands of children survive fall accidents, but with injuries.

5. Accidental Poisoning: Over 45,000 youths are killed annually because they ingested something that was poisonous.

The WHO’s Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention director, Dr. Etienne Krug, says that injuries become the number one cause of child deaths once a young person turns 9. In the US, these leading causes of child injuries and fatalities are also among the common causes for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving injuries to minors.

If your son or daughter died in a North Carolina auto accident, bus crash, pedestrian accident, bus collision, train accident, premises liability accident, or fall accident, there are steps you can take to make sure that you hold the liable party responsible and that you get your child the medical care he or she needs to recover.

Injury Risks For Children Vary Around The World, Washington Post, December 23, 2008

Traffic Accidents Top Cause Of Fatal Child Injuries, NPR, December 10, 2008

Related Web Resources:

World Report on Child Injury Prevention Report, WHO (PDF)

CDC Childhood Injury Report, CDC

119 North Carolina Nursing Homes Receive 1-Star Rating, Says Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

December 22, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), out of the 419 North Carolina nursing homes that are Medicare and/or Medicaid certified, 119 of them received 1-star ratings for the quality of care they provide residents. 68 North Carolina nursing homes were awarded 2-stars. Members of the public can visit the Medicare Web site for more information about each nursing home to help them more easily evaluate the kind of care residents are likely to receive at a nursing home.

Under the federal consumer rating system, patient bedsores, failure to relieve patient pain, significant staff turnover, urinary tract infections, lost mobility, long-term catheter use, and excessive use of restraints were some of the factors taken into consideration when determining how many stars each nursing home should receive. This new system, which rates some 16,000 US nursing homes, will hopefully prevent residents from getting into a home where they may become the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect, as well as discourage such negligent conduct from occuring.

In order to receive a five-star rating, a member of the nursing home’s staff had to provide residents with at least four hours of patient care each day. 57 North Carolina nursing homes received 5-star ratings. Out of 175 South Carolina nursing homes, 46 received 1-star ratings and 24 received 5-star ratings.

Critics of this new system say CMS should try to work with nursing homes to fix any problems before giving them low ratings. Jeff Horton, the head of the North Carolina Division of Health Services Regulation, says that while the ratings system can provide useful information, it is also important that potential residents and family members visit a North Carolina nursing home before making a decision.

What to Look for When Visiting a North Carolina or South Carolina Nursing Home:

• Note whether the location is convenient enough so that you or another family member can pay regular visits.
• Look at the staffing schedule and inquire about the caregiver – resident ratio.
• Check the nursing home for cleanliness. Note whether you can smell urine or feces and if the bathroom is clean.
• Ask about the availability of hot water.
• See whether residents and nursing home workers appear to engage with each other and notice how much attention the patients receive when it comes to grooming, medical attention, feeding time, and other activities that may require supervision.
• Inspect the kitchen for cleanliness.
• Find out about quality of food and how much attention is paid to each resident’s particular diet.
• Check out inspection reports to note whether the nursing home has a previous history of nursing home abuse or neglect.

Nursing homes in state rated low, News and Observer, December 18, 2008

Choosing a Nursing Home, AARP, January 2007

Related Web Resources:
Nursing Home Compare, Medicare

Nursing Homes, North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services

Charlotte Construction Worker’s Death is Third Work Accident Involving Wachovia Project in a Month

December 15, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

A North Carolina construction worker died on December 2 after he was struck by a tool that fell from the 11th Floor in an elevator shaft located in the Wachovia tower. Jonathan Beatty, an elevator installer employed by Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp., was 24. The work accident that caused his death is the third accident to occur at the Wachovia construction site, located at Tryon and Stonewall, within a month.

On November 10, steel beams dropped from a crane, smashing into windows before hitting the ground. Shards of glass fell toward motorists and pedestrians below. No one was injured in this second construction accident.

On November 4, Leslie Hopper sustained damage to her property when glass from the Wachovia construction site fell onto her vehicle, flattening her tires, breaking her windshield, and damaging her sunroof. Hopper and her daughter were headed out of town when the accident happened. Hopper has expressed frustration that the construction company didn’t do more to ensure motorist and pedestrian safety.

North Carolina Construction Accidents
Construction accidents can result in serious injuries for construction workers and others, such as pedestrians and motorists passing by the site, and other parties that may be on or around the work premise. For the year ending in September 2008, 18 construction-related fatalities occurred in North Carolina.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers do not have to report a work accident unless three or more people end up in the hospital or one person is killed. An OSHA investigation usually takes at least four weeks. During this time, OSHA employees will inspect the accident scene, gather evidence, and interview witnesses to determine the cause of the work accident and find out whether any safety standards were violated.

Wachovia tower incident provides window into worksite rules, Creative Loafing, December 9, 2008

Job at tower gave worker new hope for his dream,, December 4, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Wachovia Condominium Tower,

FMCSA Approves New Rule Targeting Medically Unfit Truck and Bus Drivers

December 9, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has approved a new rule requiring that the licenses and medical examination certificates of bus drivers and commercial truckers be combined in a single electronic record. This will make it easier to determine whether drivers meet the medical criteria to drive a commercial vehicle. US states have three years to comply with this new rule.

The FMCSA is also proposing creating a medical examiners registry made up of people qualified to medically certify bus drivers and commercial truckers. The administration hopes that making sure that only qualified individuals are allowed to operate such large vehicles will result in greater safety and less truck accidents on US roads.

Unfortunately there are bus operators and tractor-trailer drivers who have suffer from a heart attack, a seizure, lost consciousness, or experienced another serious health emergency while driving. The repercussions of these health problems can be catastrophic for the driver and anyone else involved in the bus or truck accident. Thousands of serious motor vehicle crashes have happened because a bus operator or trucker who shouldn’t have been allowed to operate a commercial vehicle was behind the wheel.

In 1999, 22 people died in a New Orleans bus crash when driver Frank Bedell experienced life-threatening heart and kidney conditions. Despite his poor health, Bedell, 46, had a valid commercial driver’s license and a certificate declaring him medically fit to drive.

Based on a May 2007 – June 2008 study, the Government Accountability Office reported that 536,000 truckers and bus drivers had been issued licenses to operate commercial vehicles even though they qualified for federal medical disability payments. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also determined that it is very easy for commercial bus operators and truck drivers to obtain a forged medical certificate and that this is a common practice.

2007 Large Truck Facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• Out of the 2,224 deadly North Carolina motor vehicle crashes that occurred last year, 151 of the collisions involved large trucks.
• In South Carolina, there were 80 deadly large truck crashes in 2007.
• Nationally, more than 100,000 people were injured in large truck collisions.

Rules Target Medically Unfit Truck, Bus Drivers, AP/CBS, December 2, 2008

Rule seeks to help identify unfit truckers, Business Insurance, December 4, 2008

FMCSA Improves Medical Requirements for Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers, FMCSA, December 1, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Final Rule: Medical Certification Requirements as part of CDL Part of the CDL, FMSCA, December 1, 2008

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

North Carolina Inspectors Say Patient Abuse and Neglect Make Butner Mental Hospital Unsafe

December 3, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

A North Carolina mental hospital in Butner is considered unsafe for patients. North Carolina inspectors who had evaluated the conditions and quality of care at Central Regional Hospital say their findings show an “immediate jeopardy” identification. This means that the hospital’s patients could be in imminent danger if the problems that were identified are not remedied. Already, the new $138 million facility has been cited with multiple violations and is in danger of losing its federal funding.

Inspectors cited the hospital staff for its failure to prevent patient abuse and neglect and failure to provide the proper care in a safe environment. A 131-page report even noted that there is video footage showing workers falsifying records to indicate that they had closely monitored a patient with schizophrenia when this, in fact, was not the case.

The inspectors also criticized the mental hospital for improperly restraining an 8-year-old for two hours. Another problem noted at Central Regional Hospital was that a stairwell door at the home could not be unlocked from the inside, which could potentially trap hospital staffers and patients in the facility during an emergency.

Federal regulators say the hospital has until December 14 to correct all violations. The state of North Carolina had hoped to transfer patients at a Raleigh hospital it was planning to shut down to the Butner facility. Now, these plans will likely have to be modified.

In a little over 12 months, four of North Carolina’s state-run mental hospitals have either lost or have been on the verge of losing their accreditation because of patient abuse and neglect incidents, as well as patient deaths. This summer, a fifth North Carolina mental facility was shut down after workers strapped down a female patient and beat her.

There is no excuse for patient abuse or neglect, whether at a hospital, a nursing home, in the sick person’s home, or anywhere else. If you believe that your loved one is the victim of patient abuse or neglect, it is important that you take steps to remove them from the unsafe environment immediately. Failure to provide the proper patient care at a hospital could be grounds for a North Carolina medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit.

Mental hospital deemed unsafe, News & Observer, December 3, 2008

Central Regional another signal of troubled system,, December 3, 2008

Related Web Resources:
CMS Report 1 (PDF)

CMS Report 2 (PDF)

North Carolina Car Accidents: Over-Correcting is A Common Cause of Auto Crashes

December 1, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

Over-correcting when driving is a common cause of North Carolina car accidents. A driver ends up off the road, overreacts to the situation, and over-corrects in an attempt to avoid causing a motor vehicle crash. Unfortunately, what can end up happening is that by quickly turning the steering wheel to prevent an accident from happening, a single-vehicle rollover or a collision with another motor vehicle can result.

In January, Joseph Gerald Hart, 16, died in a Raleigh head-on collision with a delivery truck. The teen driver had over-corrected after driving off the road. In November 2007, 16-year-old Joel Duran drove off Interstate 40. While over-correcting, his SUV rolled over. Two of his passengers, 23-year-old Elizabeth Arch and 17-year-old Zepherino Duran were ejected from the vehicle.

Zepherino sustained critical injuries and Arch died from hers. Joel has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and manslaughter.

Adults, too, have known to over-correct. The Highway Patrol makes its troopers practice how to reenter the highway safely and correctly.

Last January, a school bus driver who over-corrected struck an SUV, killing its driver. The North Carolina bus driver, Trumeka Deon Wilson, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Unfortunately, over-correction and other driving errors can lead to catastrophic North Carolina car accidents that can cause serious injuries or deaths. In these instances, it is time to contact an experienced Raleigh, North Carolina car crash law firm about your case.

Other common mistakes that can lead to catastrophic North Carolina motor vehicle crashes:

• Drowsy driving
• Speeding
• Swerving out of one’s lane. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 15,574 people died in US traffic accidents in 2007 because a driver swerved out of their lane.
• Drunk driving
• Failure to yield
• Running a red light
• Reckless driving
• Not wearing a seat belt

Over-correcting linked to many accidents,, May 21, 2009

Most Lethal Driving Mistakes,

Over Correction- One of the Most Common Mistakes Teens Make,, May 22, 2008

Related Web Resources:
National Highway Traffic Administration

Teen Drivers, CDC

North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Winston-Salem Traffic Accident that Killed 7-Year-Old Bicyclist is Settled with Two of the Defendants

December 1, 2008, by Michael A. DeMayo

In North Carolina, two of the four defendants named in the wrongful death lawsuit involving 7-year-old Joshua Beckles-Palomares have reached settlement agreements with the boy’s parents. Joshua died in a Winston-Salem motor vehicle accident on May 20, 2006 while riding his bicycle.

The defendants in the North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit are the city of Winston-Salem, driver Michael Logan Jr., homeowner Norman Moore, and Flow Cos. The accident happened at the intersection of Freeman and Wells when Logan, driving on the wrong side of Wells street, hit Joshua. The boy was dragged under Logan’s vehicle and he later died. Logan later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, felony death by motor vehicle, and involuntary manslaughter. Joshua’s parents are accusing all the defendants of negligence leading to the boy bicyclist’s death.

The family’s lawsuit contends that the city owed a duty of care to make sure that there was nothing at the intersection that might prevent drivers and pedestrians from being able to clearly see the roads. Homeowner Moore was accused of failing to trim the bushes next to his property that blocked Joshua’s view, and one of Flow’s dealerships was accused of also making it harder for motorists to see the road because it illegally parking its cars on Wells Street. Last month, Moore and Flow Cos. reached confidential settlement agreements with Joshua’s family.

Also last month, a judge refused a request by the city of Winston-Salem to rule in its favor without a trial. The city has argued that it did not know there was a problem at the intersection of Wells and Freeman and therefore could not have prevented Joshua’s bicycle death.

A Few 2007 NHTSA Pedalcyclist Facts:

• 698 pedalcyclists died in the United States.
• 44,000 others were injured.
• 15% of all pedalcyclists killed were children younger than 16.
• 18 pedalcyclists were killed in North Carolina.
• 20 others were killed in South Carolina.

Two defendants settle with family in lawsuit over boy’s bicycle death,, November 27, 2008

Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, 2007 Traffic Safety Facts, NHTSA

Related Web Resources:

Separate pain, but common purpose, for mom, officer,, May 18, 2008

Second Annual Bike Safety Day,


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