In a move projected to save lives, the U.S. Transportation Department has proposed that trucks and buses be equipped with devices to limit their speeds. With speed limits varying across the U.S. all the way up to 85mph in some states, the department is considering setting maximum speed limits to 60, 65 or 68 for new commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds using the speed devices. The government believes that decreasing speeds for new large vehicles will reduce fatal motor vehicle accidents involving heavy trucks and save up to a billion in fuel costs annually.
The petition for speed caps was first raised by a non-profit group, Roadsafe America, which was founded by the parents of a young Virginia man killed by a speeding tractor-trailer in an accident back in 2002. The non-profit, supported by the nation’s largest trucking industry group, American Trucking Associations, is hopeful that the new rules will pass, but would like to see the millions of older trucks on today’s highways retrofitted with the technology also.
While some carriers already using speed limiters believe they are a smart move in terms of safety and economy, many truckers believe that the changes could lead to dangerous situations on the road by limiting their ability to respond to extraordinary conditions. The deciding government agencies caught in the middle of the debate are open to public comment for the next 60 days, after which, they will determine if the regulation should be approved and at what speed limit.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Iowa truck accident involving one of the many trucks that traverse the state daily, contact the truck accident injury law offices of John T. Hemminger for help. Because large commercial vehicles have the potential to cause devastating accidents, their owners and drivers are required to follow certain regulations. Violations of these rules can include drivers operating while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unqualified or under-qualified drivers, improper maintenance, improper loading of cargo resulting in lost loads or rollovers and basic traffic violations.
Last year, for-profit companies were given the green light to provide care for seniors under Medicare’s PACE program, which previously funded only non-profits. Following the change, many are left wondering if private companies are well-suited to the job of taking care of the elderly, largely because of the potential for abuse.
The goal of PACE, or the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, is to help older Americans remain in their own homes longer by providing comprehensive medical care and social support. It also promises to save Medicare and Medicaid millions of dollars by keeping the elderly out of nursing homes for a flat fee.
Originally, government funding for the program was only given to non-profits such as church organizations, local community organizations and the like. However, in anticipation of the growing demand for care for aging boomers, the government opened the program to for-profit companies hoping to expand services for the elderly faster.
Although the new opportunity has generated a lot of enthusiasm among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, concerns run deep. Many feel that the influx of commercial operators into the program will result in companies skimping on care or simply cherry picking patients as witnessed in commercially-run hospice and nursing home facilities already. In fact, some correlate the epidemic neglect and abuse in nursing homes directly to the shift to commercialization of those industries decades ago.
Despite the reservations, newly-funded, for-profit PACE care facilities will likely spread rapidly across the country to answer the increasing need for affordable care for seniors. Hopefully, private companies who dive in will be able to provide the quality home care our families deserve.
If you or a family member has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect in an Iowa nursing home or other care facility, contact the Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help.
Source: The New York Times, “Private Equity’s Stake in Keeping the Elderly Home”, by Sarah Varney, August 21, 2016.
Overall traffic related deaths are on the rise in the U.S. and one group in particular is becoming increasingly at risk of injury or death: namely, pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) show that while figures for 2014 showed a “0.1-percent decrease” in traffic related deaths from the previous year, estimates from the first six months of 2015 have shown an uptick in this number, “an 8.1 percent increase from the same period last year” to be exact. As part of this rise in traffic fatalities, is a steady increase in the number of pedestrians killed each year by motor vehicles.
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, these accidents often occur when pedestrians are crossing at crosswalks. This can occur because drivers may fail to stop at red lights or other traffic signals and hit pedestrians who are already crossing the street. However, many Iowa pedestrian accidents take place when drivers make right or left turns at intersections or into other roadways. Often times, motorists are so focused on traffic coming from a certain direction that they fail to see a pedestrian crossing. Although less common, pedestrians are also at risk when crossing thoroughfares leading into and out of parking areas, in parking lots and when walking behind cars that are backing up.
According to the 2015 FARS report, there has been a 3.1 percent increase in the number of pedestrian deaths from the previous year and this trend is likely to continue warns the NHTSA. The steady increase in the number of overall traffic fatalities over the past few years, particularly among pedestrians, has served as a wake-up call to the U.S. Department of Transportation, who is “moving on many fronts to speed technology innovations that can save lives” (USDOT.gov). While certain groups that compose the yearly FARS report have remained fairly constant, such as the number of deaths each year caused by drunk driving, the rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities is a very real cause for concern because regardless of our preferred means of transportation, we are all pedestrians at some point in time. To ensure the safety of Iowans, addressing this issue is very important.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of a pedestrian accident in Iowa, email or call the Des Moines personal injury law firm of John T. Hemminger for help at 515-283-2116. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, our attorneys provide knowledgeable and compassionate service for seriously injured clients and individuals who lost family members in wrongful death accidents.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has put state health departments on notice: Make sure nursing homes prohibit staff from taking demeaning photographs of residents, or state officials will be directed to investigate and possibly discipline offenders.
This follows recent reports of nursing home employees taking inappropriate photos of residents and posting them on social media platforms such as Snapchat, FaceBook and Instagram. In a recent investigation, 47 instances of demeaning photos or videos of nursing home residents were discovered on social media sites dating back to 2012.
Nursing homes have a duty to protect residents’ privacy, prohibit abuse and provide training to prevent abuse, which includes exploitation on social media. If they fail to do so, they can face citations, fines, removal from the Medicare program and could be subject to an elder abuse or negligence law suit.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of elder abuse or neglect in an Iowa nursing home or care facility, contact the Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help. Mental suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, shortened life expectancy and malicious and reckless conduct by the nursing home staff are just some of the injuries for which damages may be found. Call us today for a free consultation.
Source: The Des Moines Register, “Feds to Target Social Media Abuse in Nursing Homes”, accessed August 8, 2016.
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