September 2012 Archives

September 18, 2012

Senior Kentucky Drivers Face Fewer Obstacles When Renewing Licenses

A recent article from the Associated Press regarding senior drivers has been making the rounds both online and in local newspapers. It discusses how various states handle senior drivers differently, even starting with at what age a person is considered an "older" or "senior" driver. Common precautions taken with giving senior drivers permission to continue driving include eye exams and shorter expiration dates on drivers' licenses. The article points out that while younger drivers in their teens and twenties cause more car crashes than senior drivers, that may be because older drivers do not drive as much, by choice, and also may avoid driving in the dark and if it is raining or snowing.

State officials may have a hard time setting driving limits for seniors because someone's driving ability may not be commensurate with their age. A 65-year-old driver that has no major medical issues will be less likely to cause an accident than someone of the same age that suffers from memory loss or vision issues, or who is on multiple medications that may impair judgment or response time.

Many states have tried though. In Virginia, drivers over 80 can still keep their licenses for eight years like everyone else in the state, but they must renew their license in person and take an eye exam. Older Florida drivers have to renew every six years instead of eight and have an eye exam when they turn 80. California requires their drivers to submit to a vision test and a written test when they want to renew their licenses over the age of 70.

Some of these state laws have changed in response to accidents or personal injury lawsuits. In Massachusetts, the law changed in 2010 to require anyone over 75 to renew their license in person and have an eye exam. The reason? In 2009, an 88-year-old ran over a 4-year-old and killed the child. However, in New Hampshire, drivers are no longer subjected to mandatory road tests over the age of 75 because an 86-year-old driver said it was a form of discrimination in 2011.

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September 14, 2012

Kentucky DUI Accidents Costs One Man His Life, Another Man Seven Years in Prison

In February every year, Superbowl parties abound, in Kentucky, Indiana, and across the nation. Friends and relatives get together to enjoy the game, the commercials, food and drinks. Unfortunately for one Kentucky resident this past February, his friend enjoyed the drinks at a Superbowl party too much.

On February 5, 2012, a Tennessee resident came to Louisville to enjoy the game with some friends. After the game was over, he and a friend got in his Corvette. While on I-71, the driver lost control of the car, which ended up rolling on its top, injuring himself and killing his passenger in the car crash. It was determined that the driver had been speeding and was driving under the influence. Each of these factors alone makes it more difficult to maintain control of a vehicle; added together, they can be deadly.

At the beginning of September, 2012, the driver was convicted of wanton endangerment and driving under the influence. While his attorney asked the judge to sentence him to probation, the judge handed down a seven-year prison sentence, with a chance for shock probation in 30 to 180 days. The prosecution had argued that probation did not seem like a harsh enough punishment for killing another person. He also stated that the driver was a repeat DUI offender and would likely drive under the influence again without the proper punishment.

The prosecutor's belief that the driver would incur future DUIs was most likely based on the fact that he had been charged with DUI at least three other times in Kentucky since the 1980s and he faced drug-related charges at some point. Should the victim's family decide to pursue a civil lawsuit against the driver, they could request punitive damages, which would be an amount above and beyond what would be awarded for lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of a loved one. Punitive damages are awarded strictly to punish the defendant for his actions and to deter him from acting the same in the future. The fact that he was convicted in the criminal case would make it more likely that a judge would rule against him in a civil wrongful death as well.

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September 7, 2012

Woman Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit against Hospital That Didn't Treat Her

In an unusual twist in the world of medical malpractice law, a woman from Kansas has filed a lawsuit against a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that never provided her medical treatment, and that she has most likely never even seen. The woman was admitted to the Hays Medical Center in Kansas in 2010 for treatment at the heart center.

She needed a pacemaker. She encountered numerous medical personnel during her admission, never suspecting one might give her an incurable disease.
In August 2012, the patient received notice from the Kansas hospital that one of their former employees had hepatitis C, that she may have been infected during her pacemaker procedure, and that she should be tested. The test came back positive. She and her husband have now filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and two staffing companies. How they came to sue a hospital in Pittsburgh over something that happened in Kansas is something one might expect to see on TV crime show.

Before coming to Kansas, a medical technician who worked at UPMC allegedly was stealing narcotics for his own personal use. He was caught with a syringe in his pants and was terminated in 2008. The hospital did not alert the police because they did not think there was enough evidence against him to press charges. The man went on to work at hospitals in several other states before finally being arrested in July, 2012 in New Hampshire. Along the way, he contracted hepatitis C and is accused of infecting 31 people at a New Hampshire hospital with the disease while attempting to steal fentanyl. After his arrest, every patient he might have come into contact with was notified that they may be infected.

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September 5, 2012

Kentucky Drivers Not Used to Driving in Rain Cause Multiple Car Accidents

1200812_water_drops.jpgLabor Day, according to the United States Department of Labor "is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers." Many Americans celebrate the weekend with friends and family around the grill or the neighborhood pool, enjoying the last few days of summer. Unfortunately, Hurricane Isaac made outdoor celebrating a little trickier for Kentucky residents this year with heavy rains and the occasional thunderstorm. Based on the number of car accidents reported, it also made driving more difficult.

In 24 hours between Sunday and Monday evening, almost 80 car accidents occurred just in Lexington, with 17 of the crashes causing injury to at least one person. In Rockcastle County, there were five related wrecks on I-75 that involved 12 vehicles and shut down the highway for miles. And tragically, a motorcycle rider was killed in Louisville, Kentucky when he lost control of his motorcycle on the wet pavement on a curvy stretch of Brownsboro Road. He had returned from serving in the military in Saudi Arabia only 24 hours before the crash.

What caused all of these accidents, and what can be done to make Kentucky roads safer for drivers when the pavement is wet or it is raining? According to police involved in the cleanup of the 12-car accident scene in Rockcastle County, people were not paying attention. When it is raining outside, it is even more important to not be distracted while driving because wet roads may make it harder to stop and visibility may be reduced. An increase in traffic due to the holiday weekend may have worsened the situation. When more people are on the road, there are simply more cars to crash into. So drivers need to slow down, shut off their cell phones or radios, and stop trying to multi-task in the car when roadways are wet.

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