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Billings Personal Injury Law Blog

Could you be in danger from a truck rollover?

Large trucks are a common sight on interstates and city roads. While you know that trucks are essential to move goods through Montana and across the country, you are also aware that they can pose a danger to you and your family, especially when you are traveling at high speeds. You might wonder if rollovers are one of these dangers.

Any vehicle can roll over at high speeds or in adverse conditions, but semis and other large trucks pose significant dangers due to their size. Some accidents of this nature are unavoidable, but many rollovers could have been prevented. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about 78 percent of truck rollover accidents involved a driver error. Such preventable mistakes might include the following:

  • Driving above the posted speed limit or too fast for road and weather conditions
  • Taking a turn too quickly or tightly
  • Driving while intoxicated, distracted or tired
  • Improperly loading the cargo
  • Failing to maintain the truck’s tires or brakes

Will your doctor reveal a surgical mistake?

When you undergo surgery in a Montana hospital, you do not expect that anything will go wrong during your operation. Unfortunately, however, medical errors do occur in the operating room and other departments of hospitals throughout the country. Today, more than 250,000 patients die annually from them, making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States.

While national guidelines encourage your surgeon and hospital to tell you about any mishap that occurs during your operation, CBS News reports that many physicians and hospitals fail to disclose such information to patients and their families.

State Supreme Court rules on expert witness dispute

One of the more important elements of medical malpractice cases is expert testimony. Most people in Billings may lack the medical knowledge and expertise needed to challenge a clinician's actions or decision-making. Thus, one who has similar expertise as those who are the subject of a medical negligence claim is typically needed to offer an educated opinion as to whether said parties acted appropriately. The process of qualifying an expert witness goes beyond simply saying one is so, however. Plaintiffs must follow the state's processes for doing so or risk having the basis of their cases challenged. 

A case recently argued before the state Supreme Court in Florida illustrates this point. The defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the estate of a local woman argued that the expert witness that the plaintiff presented was unqualified. The expert in question had been pursuing educational opportunities immediately prior to the events of the case. The defendants argued that this meant that the proposed expert did not meet the standard of being "duly and regularly engaged" in the practice she was asked to testify on (which is a requirement to qualify an expert witness in Florida). 

Teaching teens about the dangers of texting and driving

When parents are teaching their new teenage driver about the risks of driving, they often focus on factors such as inclement weather, recklessness and distraction. One of the most dangerous behaviors to participate in while driving is texting. Parents who wish to educate their children about this extreme hazard may sometimes be conflicted about the right way to bring it up. However, their proactivity in doing so can be all that it takes to encourage a new generation of safe drivers in Montana. 

According to Consumer Affairs, a study reported that teenage drivers in Montana that had admitted to texting while driving was at an alarming rate of 55 percent. Researching findings also indicate that young drivers who are accompanied by an adult are much less likely to engage in texting while they are driving. Generally speaking, teenagers who are younger are at a higher risk of choosing to text and drive. 

What are retained surgical items?

As you enter the operating room to have a procedure performed, you are putting your health and wellbeing in the hands of experienced and talented surgeons and operating room staff. The last thing on your mind is whether or not you will leave the OR with a surgical instrument sutured up inside of you. The very thought of something like this happening sounds unheard of. However, it does happen more often than you may think.

A study performed by Johns Hopkins University found that surgical items are left behind in patients at least 4,000 times every year in the United States. These forgotten objects can cause major infections, and in some cases, lead to permanent injuries or even death.

Understand the settlement process in Montana

If you are involved in a crash in Montana, then you should know about the car accident settlement process and the time it takes to settle the claim. Understanding this can help you better plan for your own financial issues during the time it takes to resolve the claim and get the care you need.

In Montana, you have to report an accident if it resulted in the death of any person. Report the incident immediately if the vehicle hits someone who is already deceased. If someone is injured or there is property damage exceeding $1,000, you need to report the incident to the police as soon as possible. You have up to 10 days to file the written report with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division after the report is given to police on the day of the incident.

What are trucker road check inspections?

When you drive alongside a massive tractor trailer on the Montana roadway, you may take for granted that the truck driver operating the large vehicle is fully trained and licensed to do so. You may be surprised to find out, however, that the truck driver may have former violations and should not be allowed to operate a truck at all or that the truck they are driving does not pass requirements to function on the road.

Every year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds 72-hour road check inspections of both trucks and truck drivers. Inspectors look at truck drivers’ hours-of-service documentation, operating credentials, seat belt usage, alcohol use and drug impairment. They then check the tractor trailer’s cargo securement, exhaust systems, brakes, frames, coupling devices, lighting, fuel systems, suspensions, steering mechanisms, windshield wipers and tires.

Truck driver shortage may cause increase in accidents

Truck drivers fill a vital role, transporting essential goods across Montana and throughout the country. Well trained and qualified truck drivers are crucial to ensure these products are delivered safely. The American Truck Associations report a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers in the U.S., and that there are not enough truck drivers on the road to keep up with the growing demand. This year alone, the amount of freight needing to be delivered grew by 4.2 percent, and by 2029, freight tonnage is expected to increase by 35.6 percent.

Why the shortage of truck drivers? As the generation of baby boomers retired, younger generations show less interest in the business. Many opt for careers that pay better and allow them to stay home with their families. Some trucking companies attempt to entice new drivers by offering enhanced benefits, free training and increased starting pay; However, the turnover is still high. The government is attempting to solve the problem by loosening tight regulations requiring truck drivers to go through certain tests, including sleep apnea. They are also looking at removing safety technology restrictions, such as speed-limiting devices on large trucks.

Age-related accidents a problem in Montana

A number of elderly drivers in the nation put other motorists at risk while on the road. Motorists who are over the age of 65 were involved in over 6,700 deadly car accidents in 2016 alone, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The District of Columbia and 33 states have regulations in place, requiring elderly drivers to go through a different licensing process than other motorists. States may restrict online registration, require elderly drivers to come in for vision and/or road tests or have them renew their drivers licenses more frequently. In Montana, drivers over the age of 75 must renew their licenses every four years, as opposed to every eight years, which is regular renewal length.

There are many factors that come into play when looking at mature drivers. Eye problems and conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, increase significantly as people grow older. People over the age of 65-years have a hard time focusing in low-light conditions and may be more sensitive to glare and bright headlights. Furthermore, decreased motor functioning can make it difficult for elderly drivers to operate a vehicle safely. As people age, they often experience a decline in important cognitive skills, such as visual processing, focusing and memory. Medications taken by elderly drivers may also have an effect on their ability to operate a vehicle, as they may decrease their response time.

What are retained surgical items?

When you enter the operating room for a surgical procedure, you entrust your health and life to the hands of medical professionals who are licensed and trained to perform. Although you may feel like you are in good hands, there are a number of things that may go wrong once you enter the OR. One potential issue involves retained surgical items, which includes equipment that is left behind in an operating site once you are sutured up. Surgical items that are left behind can cause serious problems, including infection, and may lead to long-term damage. Surprisingly, this type of medical negligence occurs more often than you may think.

Surgical sponges are the most common piece of equipment left behind in an operating site. These gauze-like items are used by surgeons to soak up blood and fluids during the procedure. Once they are saturated, however, they easily blend in to the organs and other areas in the body. To ensure no items have been left behind, the surgical staff is responsible for counting all medical supplies before, during and after the procedure. Interestingly enough, the counts have been on even in cases where something is left behind inside a patient.

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