Archive for December, 2015

Tendency of Elderly Drivers to Avoid High Risk Behavior Prevents Car Accidents

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Although negative stereotypes about elderly drivers persist, a fair amount of evidence seems to debunk the notion that younger drivers are safer than elderly motorists.  A number of studies indicate that the experience, caution, and judgment that comes with age might trump age-related declines in vision, reflexes, and mental acuity.  Admittedly, advanced age can have an adverse impact on mental and physical driving ability, but age-related traffic safety data indicates that the aging U.S. population does not necessarily mean a rise in motor vehicle accident rates or fatalities.

Multiple studies suggests that traditional assumptions about the relationship between aging and driving ability might not tell the whole story.  Empirical research from a range of studies indicates a number of age-related factors that reduce the risk of crashes involving seniors when compared to young drivers.  The tendency of elderly drivers to avoid high risk behavior is one of the most significant.

While there are many factors that contribute to auto accidents, the most significant cause involves high risk driving behavior.  Two of the most prominent forms of risky driving involve substance impairment and distracted driving.  Alcohol and drug impaired drivers account for approximately one in three traffic fatalities per year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Although distractions like mobile phones do not claim as many lives, distracted driving is perhaps the fastest growing cause of injuries and deaths in vehicle collisions.

A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that elderly drivers are far less likely than younger motorists to engage in high risk driving practices like distracted driving.  While more than eight in ten drivers (82 percent) between the ages of 25 and 39 admitted to talking on their mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle, a mere 34 percent of drivers over the age of 75 affirmed that they engaged in this type of multi-tasking.  Similarly, a survey conducted by State Farm found that nearly half (48 percent) of drivers between the age of 18 and 29 confirmed using their phone to surf the web while driving.  By contrast, this extremely dangerous driving behavior is almost unheard of among elderly drivers.  Approximately 98 percent of older drivers in the AAA study denied ever using a portable electronic device to search the Internet while operating a motor vehicle.

Older drivers also tend to avoid other high risk driving behaviors that cause car accidents.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that almost one-fourth (24 percent) of drivers between the ages of 21 and 64 who were involved in a fatal car accident had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08 percent.  Among drivers over the age of 64, the number of drivers involved in a fatal crash with a BAC over the legal limit for drunk driving was only 7 percent.

Seniors over the age of 65 are less prone than younger drivers to engage in other high risk driving practices according to the CDC.  While 34 percent of drivers under the age of 65 who are involved in fatal crashes were not wearing a seat belt, only 24 percent of elderly drivers involved in deadly crashes were not buckled up.  Elderly drivers also limit their driving at night and in adverse weather conditions when compared to younger drivers.

If you or a loved one suffers injury in a motor vehicle accident caused by a careless driver, you might be entitled to compensation.  Our experienced Kansas City Accident Attorneys at Hubbard and Kurtz L.L.P. have over 80 years of collective legal experience.  We offer a free consultation to evaluate your case, so we invite you to call us today at 877-535-1163 or email us to schedule a time to discuss your auto accident claim.

 

Care in the Selection and Evaluation of a Nursing Home Can Protect Elderly Loved Ones

Monday, December 7th, 2015

As family members age, the prospect of trusting a nursing home or long-term residential care facility to care for a loved one can be a daunting proposition.  The average age of our population continues to rise, which means that a growing number of families will soon face this dilemma.  While families can investigate a nursing home or elder care facility, nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to identify.  Elderly loved ones may be vulnerable because of declining physical or mental abilities related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related conditions.  These limitations can make it difficult for a senior citizen to physically fend off an assault or inappropriate sexual advances.  The elderly are not only physically more vulnerable to abuse or chronic neglect but may have difficulty comprehending and communicating their exploitation to others.

While it may be comforting to simply presume that neglect and abuse of elderly residents in nursing homes is a rare anomaly, this assumption is simply not supported by statistics regarding nursing home abuse and neglect.  A few industry statistics provide a troubling picture:

  • A major media report found that ninety percent of all nursing homes are understaffed.
  • Five percent of home staff employees have a criminal record.
  • A mere sixteen percent of all cases of elder abuse are actually reported to authorities.
  • One-third of all nursing homes have been cited for nursing home abuse or similar infractions.
  • Over two million seniors per year are the victim of nursing home abuse.
  • Nearly half of all nursing home residents have been the victim of abuse and almost forty percent report witnessing such abuse in a nursing home.
  • Thousands of death certificates of nursing home residents list dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores, or starvation as the cause of death.
  • One-fourth of all nursing home employees that are cited for nursing home abuse have a prior criminal record.

This data is troubling because it makes clear nursing abuse and neglect is a widespread problem that impacts many seniors in residential care facilities.  Nursing home abuse and neglect typically is the result of a number of factors mostly related to placing incremental increases in profit above the quality of care provided to elderly residents.  Some of the factors that lead to the abuse and neglect of nursing home residents include:

  • Failure to do criminal background checks on potential employees
  • Lack of adequate staffing given the number of residents
  • Low pay which limits staff quality
  • Inadequate background checks when hiring
  • Lack of supervision and training of employees

There are many forms of elder abuse and neglect, but certain forms of mistreatment of nursing home residents are common, including the following:

  • Failure to provide nutrition or hydration
  • Employing unjustified physical or chemical restraints
  • Denying medication, over-medicating, or under-medicating
  • Sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, or rape
  • Abandonment or isolation of residents
  • Slapping, punching, or otherwise striking a residents
  • Refusing to provide appropriate medical care
  • Failing to make proper assistance with hygiene needs available
  • Not addressing hazardous conditions or taking other steps to prevent accidental injury
  • Verbally berating a resident or other forms of emotional abuse
  • Theft or misappropriation of resident property or money

While there is no set of precautions which can guarantee that a nursing home resident will not be abused or neglected, it is possible to check out a nursing home prior to entrusting your loved one to the care of the facility.  An enormous amount of information can be obtained online about many nursing homes.  Nursing homes that have residents on Medicare can be checked out on Medicare.gov.  This website provides a star rating system, results of facility inspections, nursing home staff data, and other valuable information to vet a nursing home for your loved one.  Loved ones also should consider inspecting the facility on multiple occasions, including at least one inspection that is unannounced.  When meeting with administrators at the nursing home, you should inquire about background checks conducted before hiring staff, training and supervision, staffing levels, past violations during inspections, and other relevant information.

Although nursing home abuse and neglect is rampant, your loved one who is mistreated while in a nursing home may have a right to financial compensation for any injuries.  One of the best ways to improve the quality of care in the nursing home industry and prevent nursing home abuse and neglect is to hold nursing homes accountable for failure to provide for the safe care of senior residents.  Our experienced Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Hubbard and Kurtz L.L.P. have over 80 years of collective legal experience.  We offer a free consultation to evaluate nursing home liability claims and advise victims of their legal right, so we invite you to call us today at 877-535-1163 or email us to schedule your initial consultation.