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Recent headlines across the country have revealed that a significant percentage of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have involved residents of nursing homes.  One of the key reasons for this unfortunate result is understaffing at these facilities.

For decades, elder care advocates have tried to spotlight the problems involving understaffing in the nation’s nursing homes. In far too many nursing facilities that cater to the elderly or the infirm, staff numbers are far too low to ensure adequate care for their residents.

At several nursing homes across the country, the COVID-19 outbreak has raged unchecked. At these facilities, advocates say that the protocols for prevention of infections are simply not being followed as stringently as they should be in order to avoid a massive outbreak. Basic protocols like wearing of personal protection equipment have not been followed at these homes. In addition, hand-washing and hygiene protocols have also been neglected.

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The weather is getting warmer and the roadways have been emptier than they normally are.  This combination can make for a motorcyclist’s dream.

The National Safety Council has deemed the month of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.   This is the time to bring awareness to both motorcyclists and drivers alike to the special safety challenges faced by motorcycle riders.

Although riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, it also comes with some sobering statistics.  Fatal accidents among motorcycle riders and passenger vehicles have more than doubled in the past 20 years.  Since 2017, motorcycle accidents account for 14% of all traffic related deaths.  Of these motorcycle death, older riders, age 50 and up, accounted for 36% of the deaths.  What’s more, 91% percent of those who died in motorcycle accidents were male.   And in a recent study, statistics showed that more motorcycle accidents occurred during the weekday versus the weekend.  The study also released that accidents that occurred at night were more serious, and often fatal, than those accidents that occurred during the daytime.

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The number of vehicles on our roads has plunged during the pandemic, but the risk from reckless and speeding drivers is ever present. According to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, there has been an increase in reckless driving across the country since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Governors’ Highway Safety Association recently released a news alert urging motorists to adhere to their regular safe driving routines to avoid accidents, especially during these highly uncertain times.

The lower number of vehicles on the roads seems to have triggered a false sense of confidence among motorists during the pandemic that they are able to disregard normal driving laws. The organization is reporting an increase in speeding across the country. Several states have reported finding drivers now frequently exceeding the 100-mile an hour mark. In some states, drivers have routinely been found to be driving at speeds exceeding 20 to 40 miles over the limits. Many states are also seeing an increase in negligent or reckless driving.

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During the difficult recent times, there are limited options for people to engage in outdoor or recreational activity.  For those who own a boat, being out on the lake may be one of the few options left. Boating at anytime of the day or year must be approached with skill and care.  However, boating at night presents its own unique challenges.

Boating at night time is not something we recommend, because of the diminished visibility as well as the fact that sudden surprises or dangers might blindside you on the water in the dark. However, many Atlanta boaters do enjoy being out on a boat after sundown. In some cases, people may find themselves inadvertently stuck out on the water well past sundown, and have to make their way back to shore.

There are safety precautions that you can follow, however, to keep yourself and everyone on your boat safe at night. For one, understand all of the safety precautions that you follow during the day also apply, and even more stringently, at night. Most importantly, you absolutely must not be operating the boat without any boating experience or without basic boat safety training.

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Being in a car accident is enough to ruin anyone’s day.  But when you are a victim of a hit and run accident, it can double a person’s frustrations.

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, Georgia law requires a driver to stop after an accident and provide identifying information to the other people involved.  In any accident which results in injury or death to a person, or damage to a vehicle, a driver is required to stop at the scene of the accident and provide his or her name, address, and registration number of their vehicle.  The requirement to information applies to any driver who is involved in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who is at fault.  There are some who may think that they are not required to exchange information with the other vehicle if the police are not called to the scene of the accident.  However, this requirement also holds true even if the police are not called to the accident.

Georgia law also requires a person to provide reasonable aid or assistance if a person is injured as a result of the motor vehicle accident.  This can include calling an ambulance or even transporting the injured person to receive medical care.  If the injury victim is unconscious or unable to communicate, the other driver is required to make reasonable efforts to contact the police and emergency medical treatment.

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The number of bicycle accidents across the country rose by 9 percent between 2008 and 2017, a grim reminder of the growing number of bicyclists on our roads and the risks they face every day. In order to tackle the growing threat to bicyclist safety, the Governors’ Highway Safety Association has joined hands with Uber Eats, the online food delivery platform, to educate bicyclists about the need to ride safely.

The Governors’ Highway Safety Association is a non-profit advocacy group that aims to promote efforts to keep all users of the roads, including bicyclists, safe. Uber Eats has a strong presence in many American cities, including the metro Atlanta region. Uber Eats and the Governors’ Highway Safety Association have come up with a set of eight tips for bicyclists to stay safe on the roads. The tips, although developed by Uber Eats for its thousands of bicyclist delivery boys across the country, are nevertheless also applicable to all bicyclists.

The Bicycle Delivery Safety Tips booklet advises all bicyclists to choose a bicycle that fits them correctly. This means that you should be able to extend your leg fully while pedaling.   A test to make sure you have the proper size bike is to see if your feet can reach the ground when you are seated on the bicycle.

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The state of Georgia is moving closer to requiring ALL persons in a car to wear seatbelts while the car is in motion, including back seat passengers.

Currently, Georgia does not require back seat passengers to buckle up while riding in a motor vehicle. Thirty other states have laws that require back seat passengers to wear their seatbelts. Not wearing a seatbelts can place back seat passengers at tremendous risk of injury, or even death, in an accident.

The Georgia Senate Passenger Vehicle Seat Belt Safety Study Committee was created recently to study the consequences of failure to wear seatbelts by back seat passengers. The Committee was created by Senator Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, who calls this failure to require back seat passengers to buckle up a serious safety issue.  Requiring back seat passengers to buckle up can help reduce the number fatalities in car accidents.

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In a recent case in New Jersey, a pedestrian was struck by a city bus in an intersection.  The bus’ impact caused catastrophic injuries to the pedestrian including permanent brain injury, as well as multiple fractures and broken bones.

What is as, if not more, troubling about this accident is that the driver of the bus had a record of being involved in over 50 accidents during his 30-year course of driving for his employer.  What’s more, the driver had over 40 violations during his employment for issues ranging from distracted and careless driving, driving with a suspended license, and failing to follow police instructions.  Yet, the bus company allowed the driver to continue to drive buses despite the egregious driving record the employee had.  When this happens, an employer can be held responsible for their employee’s negligence.

Under Georgia law, and in most states as well, if an employee commits a negligent act while on the job, the employer can be liable for their employee’s negligence under the theory of respondeat superior.  An employer can also be held independently liable for injuries caused by their employee’s actions under the theory of negligent hiring, supervision or retention.  If the injury victim can prove that the employer knew or should have known that the employee had the tendency to engage in certain behaviors, such as careless driving, and that the accident and injuries were caused by similar behavior, the employer can be liable for failing to properly hire, supervise or retain the employee.

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Cities throughout the U.S., and over the globe, are increasingly encouraging alternative forms of transportation to ease traffic and improve air quality.  In response, bicycling as a means of transportation has gained popularity in many urban areas.  And with the increase of cyclists on the road, city planners and governments have been working to improve safety for both the cyclists, as well as the vehicles and other pedestrians that they share the road with.

Dedicated bike lanes are the most common protections cities have implemented to keep cyclists safe while travelling on local roads.  Forms of bike lanes vary from street level bike lanes with painted lane markings, street-level bike lanes with protective barriers, and protected bike lanes that are raised from the roadway.  Of these, the safest type of bike lanes are the protected bike lanes that are raised and separate from the roadway as these provide a permanent and solid barrier, such as a raised curb or sidewalk, between the cyclist and motor vehicles.  Statistics have found that the fewest number of bike accidents involving crashes with vehicles occur in these types of bike lanes.

Many people tend to think that a street-level protected bike lane, protected by physical barriers such as posts or landscaping, would be safer for cyclist than conventional bike lanes with just painted lines.  However, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that this isn’t necessarily the case.  While the level of serious injury and number of fatalities may be less with street-level protected bike lanes, the number of injuries is actually more than the number of accidents that occur with conventional bike lanes.

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If you have a loved one or an elderly family member currently residing in one of Georgia’s nursing homes, there is plenty that you can do to check and monitor to make sure your loved one is not being physically abused. However, monitoring for emotional or psychological abuse is always as straightforward.

Recently, two nursing aides in a nursing home were fired after they posted a video on Snapchat taunting a 91-year-old resident with dementia who had a fear of hospital gowns.  The video shows the two aides mocking the woman as they pushed a hospital gown towards her, even as she resisted their attempts to do so. The video was posted on Snapchat, and was brought to the attention of the resident’s family members. They brought it to the attention of the nursing home, which suspended the aides, but promptly put them back on work barely 6 days later, citing insufficient evidence of any abuse.

Rightfully, the family has gone ahead and filed a lawsuit against the nursing home for damages. They claim that the psychological trauma has harmed their loved one, and that her mental condition has actually regressed.

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