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Updated OSHA Reporting Requirements Yield Workplace Accident Data


2-construction-workersNow that the first year under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) new workplace injury reporting requirements has come and gone, the agency is now assessing the implications of the data gleaned in the past 12 months and what it may reveal about employer-based safety initiatives and precautions.

In support of that effort, OSHA has released a document discussing the over 10,000 serious work-related harm reported during 2015 in federal OSHA-adherent states.

New rules expand reporting parameters

Though employers were already under an obligation to report fatal workplace accidents to OSHA within eight hours of their occurrence, new new rules resulted in OSHA receiving additional reporting of more than 7,000 events requiring hospitalization and more than 2,500 amputation events stemming from workplace incidents.

The statistics reveal that approximately 30 severe workplace injuries happened on a daily basis, indicative of the presence of real danger on an unacceptable number of worksites. The report further states that the majority of hazardous conditions leading to the injuries reporting to OSHA are preventable, and could have been reduced if employers had taken steps such as offering additional fall protection devices, erecting guardrails near large machinery or insisting on clearer marking of pathways.

Self-reporting and analysis encouraged by OSHA

The agency states that one of the main goals of the new reporting framework is to urge employers to engage in self-evaluation of their equipment and processes so that issues can be identified and corrected in a timely fashion. OSHA claims that working in collaboration with the agency has helped numerous employers reduce risks to workers and develop protocols from which others can benefit. The guiding principle, according to OSHA, is that if employers interact with the agency following a severe injury to a worker, they will be more inclined to take remedial action, whether or not a formal inspection process is commenced.

New rules helpful, yet reporting remains incomplete

Despite OSHA’s detailing of several workplace incidents which, after reporting, led to significant employer-driven safety improvements, agency officials themselves admit that the system remains imperfect when it comes to rooting out all danger.

According to Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels, OSHA is encouraged by the past year’s participation in the new reporting scheme, but suggests that the true number of severe injuries is likely double what was actually reported. Furthermore, there just are not enough OSHA inspectors for every potentially problematic workplace to receive personal attention from agency staff. Therefore, there is little choice but to rely on self-reporting to a certain degree, and that can invite attempts by unscrupulous employers to skirt the rules.

Compensation for victims of workplace injuries

The Maine worker’s compensation system is in place to provide much-needed financial assistance for individuals injured in the workplace. However, by accepting worker’s compensation payments, workers are required to forfeit their ability to sue their employer for any acts or omissions which may have led to the harm sustained. While the resources provided by worker’s compensation may suffice in some individual cases, there are many other families for which these payments are grossly insufficient to cover all of the financial and other losses suffered in the aftermath of a workplace accident. This can be particularly true in cases where the event resulted in a fatality and one or more dependents are left behind.

For this reason, victims of workplace accidents caused by negligence may wish to consider the possibility of filing a third-party lawsuit against an entity besides their employer. This can be an effective alternative, provided that negligence on the part of another party contributed to or caused the injury event.

There are a number of potential targets of a third-party claim of this type, including:

  • heavy equipment manufacturers

  • public utilities

  • subcontractors

  • truck drivers and crane operators

  • architects

  • engineers

  • construction project managers

Advocacy for injured Mainers

At Hardy, Wolf and Downing, our Maine accident lawyers have dedicated their careers to vindicating the rights of the injured, and we are committed to delivering the personal service and aggressive advocacy our clients deserve. Because we accept injury cases on a contingency basis, our clients owe nothing unless we secure a financial recovery on their behalf. To discuss your unique situation and begin the process of exploring your legal options, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.

More Pedestrians Killed in Motor Vehicle Crashes Last Year, GHSA Reports

Pedestrian Walk Sign

Pedestrian Walk SignTroubling statistics on pedestrian fatalities have been reported by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA). According to the GHSA’s most recent report, pedestrians made up 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014 and will likely do so in 2015. GHSA estimates that the number of pedestrian fatalities will increase by 10-percent between 2014 and 2015.

The last time pedestrians made up 15 percent of all fatalities was 25 years ago. In addition, the new report found that pedestrian deaths have been on a steady increase since 2005, when the pedestrian fatality rate was 11 percent. The current study is based on preliminary data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Pedestrian deaths by state

Pedestrian deaths vary widely from state to state, with Vermont showing no fatalities for the first half of 2015 and California showing 347. Maine saw five fatalities during the first half of 2015, which was the same number of pedestrian deaths in the state during the first half of 2014. Maine was one of just three states that saw no change in this statistic between the two years. More than half, 26 had increases in pedestrian fatalities, while 21 saw decreases in their numbers.

Nearly three-fourths of pedestrian deaths occurred when it was dark, the study found. More than one-third involved pedestrians with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. The majority of all pedestrian fatalities occurred in areas that were not intersections while one-fourth to one-third occurred at intersections. The rate of fatalities was similar across all the age groups.

Strategies to prevent deaths

The report also includes evidence-based strategies that could effectively reduce pedestrian accidents and deaths. Some of those include steps to separate pedestrians and motor vehicles, such as sidewalks and refuge islands. Other strategies focus on improving visibility of pedestrians, through high-visibility crosswalks and improved street lighting. Finally, the GHSA listed ways in which motor vehicle speed could be reduced, since higher speeds were associated with a higher rate of pedestrian deaths. These include roundabouts, speed humps and automated enforcement.

Public education is another recommendation in the GHSA’s report, which noted that education has always been a factor in reducing accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians. Steps in this direction have included a speed campaign toolkit created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and “Share the Road” and other branded campaigns.

Liability in pedestrian accidents

When a driver hits a pedestrian, it may be assumed the driver is always at fault. However, that is not the case. Negligence on the part of both the driver and the pedestrian can lead to the accident, which means either one can fail to exercise a reasonable standard of care for the circumstances. For example, a pedestrian may cross a street illegally, rather than using a crosswalk. Drivers may be negligent by traveling at excessive speeds or participating in distracting activities like texting.

When determining liability in an accident between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle, numerous factors must be considered. Expert legal assistance is usually required to ensure the victim receives the appropriate compensation.

To speak with experienced Maine accident attorneys about your case, please call Hardy, Wolf & Downing at 1-800-INJURED for a free consultation and answers to your legal questions.

Truckers Non-Compliant with Sleep Apnea Therapy at Risk for Crashes

Maine truck accident lawyers

trucks on the freewayTruck drivers who fail to adhere to their prescribed sleep apnea treatment significantly increase their risk of serious preventable crashes, according to a recently published study on the subject.

The study compared 1,613 truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea with the same number of comparable drivers without the condition. The drivers with sleep apnea were given a positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that downloaded objective data concerning the drivers’ adherence to their treatment. The study found that drivers who completely or even partially adhered to the treatment were involved in crashes at about the same rate as the control group, while the non-compliant truckers increased their crash rate by five times.

The study was conducted by researchers involved in the Truckers and Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and published on-line in the journal Sleep on March 21.  Lead author Stephen V. Burks, PhD, concluded that “the results of our study support the establishment of obstructive sleep apnea screening standards for all drivers through the commercial driver’s medical exam.”

Sleep apnea poses a crash risk for truckers

Currently, federal guidelines rely on truck drivers to self report sleep apnea problems as part of a general assessment for their physical fitness for duty.  However, various safety organizations have advocated for stronger and more wide-ranging guidelines regarding sleep apnea and driving, given the risks involved.  According to some estimates 25 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, which can result in daytime sleepiness and drowsy driving.  The CPAP treatment keeps the airways open during sleep by providing a steady stream of air administered through a mask.

The data from the current study was gathered as part the trucking company Schneider’s 2006 screening, diagnosis, and treatment program for its employees.  A team was put in place to help drivers maintain their CPAP treatment.  Schneider employees who did not comply with a treatment program were ultimately removed from their positions due to the safety hazards they posed to themselves and others on the road.

However, there is nothing to prevent such drivers from taking positions with other firms, most of which due not conduct such rigorous screening.  The study suggests that there may be many truck drivers on the road who pose drowsy driving crash risks that are not being properly monitored.

Liability in a drowsy driving accident

Drowsy driving is at the root of a large number of serious crashes, including those involving commercial vehicles. Drivers, including those who operate big rigs, who are aware of  their sleep apnea condition but did not properly treat it may be held liable in a court of law for any accident that results due to sleep deprivation.

All motorists are responsible for driving in a state of mental alertness, not compromised by factors such as alcohol, drug use, or exhaustion.  In cases where a trucking company knew about and did not reasonably respond to sleep apnea risks in its drivers, that company may also be legally responsible for resulting accidents.

In truck crashes caused by negligent or drowsy driving, victims may file a personal injury lawsuit in pursuit of fair compensation for lost income, hospital bills, emotional trauma and other losses.

Maine car accident victims are encouraged to contact the law offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing to learn about their options for legal recourse. To speak with a truck accident lawyer about your case, please call l 1-800-INJURED. The consultation is free and without obligation.

Durham Woman Dies From Injuries Sustained in Head-On Crash

Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car Firefighter and paramedics taking victim out of crashed car

A Durham woman has died from injuries that she sustained on Friday, March 11, during a head-on collision in Topsham. Christina Babnaw, 44, died in the hospital on Saturday night, March 12, as confirmed on Sunday morning by Topsham police Sgt. Mark Gilliam.

The accident took place near the 800 block of Middlesex Road, according to town police. Babnaw was driving her 2009 Toyota sedan with one passenger, Joshua White, 21, also of Durham, in the car when she collided with a 2008 Hyundai SUV driven by Bruce Hanson, 65, of Harpswell. With him in the car was Taylor Hanson, 32. Only one of the four parties involved in the accident was wearing seat belt; however, authorities did not name that individual.

Fire emergency vehicles were called to extract both drivers, who were trapped in the vehicles. Both passengers were able to exit the vehicles on their own. Joshua White, Bruce Hanson, and Taylor Hanson were all treated at the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. By Sunday, White, who had suffered a broken pelvis, and Bruce Hanson were listed in satisfactory condition. Taylor Hanson had been released.

Speed believed to be a factor in Topsham crash

Police believe that speed may have been a central factor in the crash and that Babnaw may have been trying to catch up with another vehicle. The collision occurred when Babnaw veered off the right side of the road and then crashed into an oncoming vehicle as she reentered the roadway.

Failing to stay in one’s lane and running in to on-coming traffic is one of the typical causes of head-on collisions. Such a failure may occur because of driver distraction (including use of phones or other hand-held devices) or impairment (as in a drunk driving case). In some cases, poorly marked roadways or lack of accurate signs may also be a culprit.

A driver who strikes another vehicle head-on due to distraction, impairment, or recklessness of any kind may be liable in a court of law for the injuries or fatalities that occurred as a result of his or her negligence.

Compensation for victims in head-on crashes

In certain situations, accidents that result in significant injuries and/or death may warrant legal action if  negligence was a contributing factor. A successful car accident lawsuit may seek damages for medical expenses or long term rehabilitation costs, loss of income or earning potential, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of consortium, wrongful death, and other losses.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injury in a head-on collision as the the result of another driver’s negligent behavior, contact the Maine personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing. A free case review can be set up at your convenience by dialing 1-800-INJURED.

NHTSA Summit Seeks to Curb Traffic Crash Deaths

car accident front end collision Cars-accident-at-city-road

With federal statistics estimating recent annual traffic fatalities at about 26,000, it is fair to say that the deaths affect hundreds of thousands of people each year. Earlier this month, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration concluded a series of conferences aimed at changing dangerous traffic behavior.

The most recent 2-day summit ran on March 10th and 11th in Washington, D.C. and featured presentations by representatives of the NHTSA, Loyola University New Orleans, the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Harvard Law School, and the Delaware Highway Safety Office. NHTSA described the summit as a call to action for those interested in stopping crashes on the roads.

Summit addressed driver-related factors in fatalities

The summit was dedicated to “Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety” and topics included the current state of behavioral safety countermeasures; strategies for changing behavior; innovative approaches for changing traffic behaviors; and how behavioral economics and social sciences can be used to cut down on traffic fatalities.

As the symposium recognized, driver-related factors often play a significant role in traffic fatalities. For example, an upturn in the economy could translate to an increase in traffic fatalities as more people engage in recreational driving. The NHTSA reported that the number of traffic crash-related deaths increased by 8% in the first half of 2015. A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety drew a connection between the death rate and the economy. Its analysis found a strong relationship between the yearly changes in the unemployment rate and the changes in crash-related deaths.

An upturn in the economy is welcome but an increase in the roughly 30,000 deaths is not. Hopefully the industry professionals who took part in the recent traffic safety gathering will develop measures to decrease the deaths even as the economy improves.

Legal recourse for accident victims

Every driver is under a legal obligation to operate his vehicle responsibly. The law recognizes the rights of victims to hold negligent drivers responsible for the injuries they cause. Recovery from a personal injury lawsuit can afford the victim relief from pressing medical bills and lost income resulting from the crash.

In a successful case, the negligent driver may be liable to pay for both the economic and non-economic damages that he or she has caused.

Compensation can include:

  • Past and future medical expense reimbursement
  • Payment for pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Reimbursement for services that the victim can no longer perform
  • Lost companionship
  • Funeral expenses
  • Wrongful death compensation for the loved ones left behind

The burden is on the plaintiff to prove every necessary element of a personal injury lawsuit and sometimes expert testimony by doctors or scientists is needed to connect the dots for a jury. Parties who place their trust in dedicated Maine car accident lawyers tend to see greater results.

Maine personal injury lawyers

Hardy, Wolf & Downing is dedicated to fighting aggressively for the rights of victims who’ve been injured in private or commercial vehicle accidents in Maine. To learn more about your rights to compensation after a car accident, please call to schedule a free consultation. We are available any time, by calling toll-free 1-800-INJURED.

Sleep Apnea Compromises Safety of Rail & Highway Transportation

Maine truck accident lawyers

truck on highway in MaineSleep apnea poses many risks to those who are affected, but perhaps the most immediate danger is the threat of nodding off while driving – a side effect that often results in catastrophe. Chronic fatigue and sleepiness caused by obstructive sleep apnea is known to impair driving drastically, making motorists more susceptible to vehicle accidents. One recent study reported a sevenfold greater rate of auto accidents among sleep apnea sufferers compared to subjects without the disorder.

Unfortunately, impaired drivers with sleep apnea cause preventable accidents every year, and some of these involve commercial rail and highway transportation. On March 8, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed the creation of new rules that would affect employees who held “safety sensitive” positions such as locomotive conductors or operators of commercial motor vehicles who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

The agencies are requesting additional information about the screening process, costs of treatment and safety risks of transportation personnel with OSA, so they can create effective regulations across the industry.

Sleep apnea and safety risks for transportation

Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea has been known to cause deficits in concentration, alertness, reaction times and memory – the same sort of effects that are associated with alcohol impairment. Commercial vehicle drivers, such as those who operate tractor trailers or commuter trains, are often responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers in addition to their own, making it essential they are properly rested and fit to get behind the wheel.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cites recent train derailments and truck accidents where undiagnosed or poorly treated sleep apnea was determined to be an underlying factor. One of the crashes listed was the 2013 Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx, NY that killed four and injured more than 60 people. After investigations, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the probable cause of the accident was human error. The conductor had undiagnosed “severe” sleep apnea and had fallen asleep momentarily, during which time the train increased speed to 82mph in a 30mph zone.

What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by intermittent periods in which the throat muscles collapse, essentially blocking airflow. Breathing stops for a period of seconds, causing individuals to gasp or snore as they struggle to breathe. This cycle can repeat itself dozens of times throughout the night, resulting in shorter periods of deep, restful sleep.

Risk factors for developing sleep apnea include:

  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Having a wider neck
  • Hypertension

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that at least 100,000 accidents are caused by driver fatigue every year, and these estimates are on the conservative side.

Drowsy driving accident liability issues

Injuries or death caused by a drowsy driver may prove grounds for litigation. A plaintiff may seek monetary damages against the defendant in cases where negligence played a role. For example, a bus or truck driver may be held accountable if he or she did not comply with mandatory sleep intervals between shifts and was driving while excessively fatigued. In certain situations, an employer may also be held legally responsible for injuries or loss caused by a fatigued employee who was forced to work extra shifts under duress.

If you were harmed in a truck accident caused by an impaired or drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Discuss your claim with a veteran Maine car accident lawyer at Hardy, Wolf & Downing by calling 1-800-INJURED. We serve the entire Southern Maine region including Portland, Bangor, Lewiston and Auburn.

Alcohol a Likely Culprit in Fatal Maine Crash

car flipped over

auto accident - rolloverA fatal Maine car accident on County Road claimed the life of 28-year old Matthew Spencer, reports the Bangor Daily News. On the morning of February 24, Matthew was riding as a passenger with his younger sibling Nicholas, 21, when his brother lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a telephone pole. The car rolled over and then caught on fire, says the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.

Matthew was pronounced dead at the scene. Both Nicholas and another passenger — Samuel Ketch of Milford – were taken to the Eastern Maine Medical Center for emergency medical treatment. Nicholas sustained critical injuries, while Ketch’s injuries were described as non-life-threatening.

Authorities say that excessive speed and alcohol are believed to be factors in the fatal rollover accident, and are still investigating potential causes.

Greenbush man killed in rollover accident

Penobscot County police say that Nicholas was driving at a high rate of speed before he lost control of his car and hit a utility pole. Just before the crash, the three men were apparently talking with other people at local convenience store, Milford On The Run. The Sheriff’s Office is interested in speaking with those individuals for more information about the events leading up to the accident.

Authorities are trying to reconstruct the accident, which happened in Milford, on County Road at Baker Brook Road.

Matthew was born in Bangor and was described by family as a consummate outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing, camping and mud runs. He is survived by his parents, three sisters and two brothers.

Rollover accidents – causes and liability

Rollovers account for nearly 25 percent of all deadly passenger vehicle accidents, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Individuals that do survive a vehicle rollover often sustain catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injury, skull fractures, head trauma, and other life-threatening harm. 

Inclement weather and road hazards may create dangerous conditions that contribute to rollover accidents. Icy roads, potholes, uneven pavement or a lack of guardrails are common causes. Because of their high center of gravity, SUV’s and pickup trucks are more susceptible, though other types of passenger vehicles can still roll under the right conditions.

However, in accidents where police determine that negligence caused a fatal crash, surviving victims or the families of those who were killed may have the right to sue for damages.

Maine law stipulates that any damages recovered in a wrongful death claim are to go to a surviving spouse, in the event that the decedent has no surviving minor children. If the deceased has both a spouse and surviving minor children, the compensation will be equally divided by both parties.

Legal advocacy from Maine accident attorneys

Hardy, Wolf & Downing is dedicated to protecting the rights of all accident victims throughout Southern Maine. We always fight for maximum compensation. With the support and expert guidance of personal injury attorneys, our clients can focus on recovery, leaving the litigation to us.

To learn more about your rights to compensation following a car accident in Portland, Lewiston or Bangor, we invite you to arrange a free consultation. You can reach our offices anytime, toll-free by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Researchers Identify Biggest Distracted Driving Risks

teens texting and driving

texting-driving-teensThe problem of distracted driving has become a common concern among law enforcement and motorists alike. Now, researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have identified the most dangerous culprits in distracted driving accidents and other factors that can increase a driver’s chances of a crash. The hope is that by determining the riskiest distractions, steps can be taken to make the roadways safer for everyone.

Some of the most notable distractions researchers discovered were dialing a cell phone or using the touchscreen on a vehicle dashboard. Both of these activities require drivers to take their eyes completely off the road, which is a major crash risk. These activities proved even more dangerous than some of the well-known driver distractions, including eating and applying makeup.

Emotions and car accidents

Emotions also played a role in vehicle crashes, with drivers that were sad, angry or crying facing 10 times the risk of an accident than those who drove without any distraction. Other risk factors that made the top of the list in this study included reading or writing, driving while fatigued and texting.

To come up with the results of this study, researchers used data from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study. This study is the largest of its kind, involving more than 3,500 participants at six collection sites across the U.S. More than 1,600 crashes were included in the data, ranging from minor curb strikes to accidents serious enough to file a police report.

Driver-related factors have huge impact

The researchers found that driver-related factors were involved in more than 90 percent of the higher severity crashes, which involved either property damage or injury. Drugs and alcohol made up the biggest risk, followed by mobile phone dialing, reading and writing, and intense emotions like sadness or anger. Reaching for an object rounded out the top five driver-related factors resulting in crashes. Other factors that were near the top of the list included interacting with others in the car, texting and browsing on a mobile device.

“These findings are important, because we see a younger population of drivers, particularly teens, who are more prone to engaging in distracting activities while driving, “ Tom Dingus, lead author of the study and director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, was quoted as saying by Science Daily. “Our analysis shows that if we take no steps in the near future to limit the number of distracting activities in a vehicle, those who represent the next generation of drivers will only continue to be at greater risk of a crash.”

While this study was unique in its ability to collect data with more precision than other research on car crashes, the results were similar in many ways to those found by other research. The Huffington Post reported last year that nine Americans are killed every single day by accidents involving distracted driving. There is a one-in-four probability every motor vehicle crash involved a cell phone. Those numbers make sense when considering that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of a crash four times.

Liability in distracted driving accidents

Victims of motor vehicle crashes where distracted driving was involved may be eligible for legal compensation under the law. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, the person responsible for the crash may be held liable for associated medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.

If you or someone you love is the victim of distracted driving, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact the offices of Hardy, Wolf & Downing today at 1-800-INJURED to get a free assessment with veteran Maine accident attorneys who leverage decades of success winning car accident and personal injury claims.

Long-Term Complications Tied to Early Childhood Brain Injury

brain with bandage

brain concussionEven children who suffer a mild brain injury early in life are at risk of long-term functional impairments and learning disabilities, suggests new research published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers also found that a child’s home environment plays an important role in the healing and outcome of pediatric head trauma, with poorer outcomes noted in children with permissive parents, highly authoritarian parents and households with fewer resources.

The purpose of the observational cohort study was to compare and contrast the outcomes of early childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) relative to childhood orthopedic injuries, while accounting for the influence of parenting practices and social environment.

Study on early childhood brain injury

The research included one general hospital and three children’s hospitals, with patients enrolled for the study between January 2003 and October 2006. Follow-ups were performed from 2010 through April 2015.

The study authors examined 72 children who sustained orthopedic injuries (broken bones or mild fractures) and 58 children who suffered various types of TBI, all of which were between the ages of 3 and 7 at the time of enrollment. The children were tracked at multiple points for the study, up to 6.7 years after their injuries. Assessments were made using the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS), which measures long-term functional outcomes in daily settings.

The findings indicated that children with mild traumatic brain injury had greater functional impairments and problems in school compared to those who had sustained an orthopedic injury. Additionally, the researchers found that functional impairments in participants with TBI were more pronounced among children from homes with higher levels of strict parenting, permissive parenting and fewer resources.

“Improving parenting skills and quality of home environment may promote functional recovery following early TBI,” concluded the study authors.

Lasting impacts of TBI still being investigated

The full scope of cognitive and functional impairments that may result from a TBI are not always recognized at home or in school. A mild brain injury during early childhood may have few long-term side effects in some children while others may go on to have problems with basic skills such as:

  • Self-awareness
  • Memory
  • Problem solving
  • Organization
  • Attention
  • Auditory processing

Other research has suggested that an early childhood brain injury can be followed by a notable decrease in cognitive and behavioral skills at the time of the trauma, in addition to a “stalling period” afterwards, that can affect the ability to maintain friends and jobs later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a separate study on childhood TBI, finding that children suffering from a brain injury are almost 5 times more likely to struggle with moderate to severe depression.

Incidence of brain injuries in children

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, an estimated 62,000 children between the ages of 0 and 19 sustain brain injuries every year, requiring immediate medical treatment and hospitalization. TBIs account for 2,685 deaths annually in children ages 1-14.

Some of the most common causes include:

If your child suffered a head injury caused by another party’s negligence, you may be eligible for monetary compensation. Liable parties may include negligent daycare or school personnel who failed to supervise and provide a safe environment, or reckless drivers who caused an accident.

Discuss your options with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Hardy, Wolf & Downing. We provide unrivaled legal representation to clients throughout the Portland, Bangor, Lewistown and Southern Maine areas. Call our offices at 1-800-INJURED.

Tighter Nursing Home Controls Sought By Regulators

Care Worker Mistreating Elderly Man Care Worker Mistreating Elderly Man

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts public health commissioner announced an initiative aimed at substantially boosting oversight of nursing facilities across the state. The initiative would establish a specialized unit designed to make surprise inspections and impose financial sanctions on facilities found to have serious problems. Further, the plan calls for greater scrutiny and investigation of entities and individuals attempting to secure nursing home facilities licenses in Massachusetts.

State actions come on the heels of disturbing revelations

The recently-launched plans to heighten oversight of facilities intended to care for the elderly follow a series of troubling reports of unacceptable resident neglect in nursing homes operated by an out-of-state company which had opened a number of sites within Massachusetts without a great deal of supervision from state regulators. Synergy Health Centers, the operator in question, has been the subject of a deluge of complaints concerning:

  1. Medication administration mistakes
  2. Poor training of staffers
  3. Lack of adequate care professionals on site
  4. Substandard infection control practices

Facilities found to have serious violations will be subjected to fines starting in March, though advocates have called for changes to state law which would raise the currently-allowable sanction of $50 per day to an amount likely to have more of an impact.

Massachusetts health commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel also stated that her agency is currently wading through a mountain of accumulated consumer complaints regarding specific nursing homes, and that as a result she plans to hire additional staff to address the concerns. A new online system will be put into place where consumers will be able to submit detailed descriptions of problems in nursing homes and which will also serve as a research hub for patients and families to learn more about facilities located in the state.

Critics say initiatives are long overdue

It is estimated that approximately 40,000 individuals currently reside in more than 400 nursing homes located in Massachusetts. Patient and elder care advocates have long argued that the state health department has failed in its duty to aggressively investigate troubled facilities, halt admissions to questionable homes or take action against licenses held by controversial operators. Dr. Bharel has indicated that the newly-created oversight group will demand more comprehensive information from entities seeking to purchase Massachusetts nursing homes, including details about affiliated companies sometimes utilized to shield firms from liability.

The National Center on Elder Abuse has estimated that nearly 50% of America’s nursing facilities have insufficient staff to fully attend to patient needs. Thus, neglect and abuse events regularly occur without being appropriately addressed. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that just 1 in 5 incidents of this type are likely to be reported by victims. Therefore, it is incumbent upon families, fellow residents, caregivers and state regulatory agencies to stay vigilant when it comes to protecting vulnerable seniors from unscrupulous nursing home owners, management and staff.

Protecting Maine’s seniors

If you or a loved one have been subjected to physical, financial, sexual or emotional abuse within the confines of a nursing home facility in Maine, or have experienced harm as the result of caregiver neglect, the injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf & Downing are prepared to seek justice on your behalf. To schedule a no-cost evaluation of your case and to learn more about available legal options, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.