As the Coronavirus escalates, public roadways and highways have become empty in recent weeks as more people opt to stay in the safety of their homes. In an effort to reduce transmission among law enforcement officers, many police departments have also reduced the number and frequency of speed traps on highways. Many drivers appear to be taking advantage of the more open roads and lack of law enforcement, which has led to a dramatic increase in fatal car accidents nationwide.
A recent report released by the Governors Highways Safety Administration indicates a significant spike in speeding facilitated by the open highways. Many drivers have apparently completely thrown caution out the window, regularly hitting speeds of up to 100 mph. This, of course, makes the car accidents that do occur more dangerous.
The Governors Highways Safety Administration cautions every road user to adhere to set traffic safety laws, particularly during these unprecedented times where emergency response times may be longer and hospital resources are already stretched thin. The association is reminding road users to remain vigilant and follow all laws to avoid car accidents and reduce additional strain on hospital emergency rooms.
Recent car accident reports for 2020 to-date indicate that 17% of all traffic-related incidents involve pedestrians.
At the same time, the study indicates that pedestrians and bicycle riders have increased substantially in recent weeks following the decrease in motor vehicle traffic. More people sequestered at home means that more families are taking walks, going for bike rides and using our streets for entertainment rather than a means of conveyance. Drivers should be extra cautious of the increase in foot traffic.
The Governors’ Report suggest a significant increase in the number of speeding tickets issued in recent weeks.
Notably, some states have reported a reduction in crashes, but the few recorded accidents have turned out to be severe or even fatal, mainly because of over-speeding and reckless drivers. You may be tempted to put your foot down on a clear, unobstructed stretch of highway, but you should avoid this temptation at all costs.
Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, obeying traffic rules is vital to keeping our roads and highways safe and accident-free as the country grapples with fighting this national pandemic. If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident, you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side. Cowan & Hilgeman Law is one of Dayton’s top rated car accident attorneys. Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule your FREE, no obligation phone or video consultation. If we don’t win your case, you don’t pay a penny.
At Cowan & Hilgeman, we try to write articles that are timeless: Questions and answers that will make as much sense in 5 or 10 years’ time as they do today. The present novel Coronavirus outbreak, however, has created a pressing situation that needs to be addressed immediately: How to keep your elderly relatives safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cowan & Hilgeman has developed an excellent reputation in Montgomery County and the Miami Valley for fighting abuse, neglect, negligence and wrongful death in nursing homes. We have written extensively about how to spot potential mistreatment of your elderly loved one while in a nursing home or residential care facility, and what to do if your elderly family member develops a pressure ulcer (otherwise known as a bed sore) while in care.
But what happens when you are unable to visit, monitor and advocate for your elderly family member?
On March 11th 2020, The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services issued an order limiting the number of nursing home/assisted living visitors to one person per resident per day. Exceptions can be made for end-of-life cases. The order will require that these facilities screen all individuals at every point of entry, including employees, vendors, family members, etc. Each individual will be screened for signs of illness and must submit to a temperature reading to gain entrance. All facilities will be required to keep a log of all who are admitted access.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we should all practice ‘social isolation’. This can be especially difficult for those with a parent or relative in residential care. Our elders rely on regular visits for love and support, but also so we can look out for their best interests. If we become sick ourselves, we will not be able to visit them at all, leaving them without an advocate.
Staff shortages in nursing homes and assisted living can be deadly
Aside from dealing with the illness itself, understaffed nursing homes can be incredibly dangerous for residents. Abuse and neglect become a bigger problem as the resident to staff member ratio increases out of control. Neglect and abuse on the part of the nursing home staff can cause psychological problems, physical illnesses and even death among the nursing home residents. Under-staffing of a nursing facility may add to psychological problems and physical illnesses among the staff members as they experience increased stress.
Physically dependent residents suffer the most. Bed-bound patients must be turned and moved regularly to prevent bed sores and muscle atrophy. Incontinence pads and diapers must be changed regularly to prevent infections. Residents who need help getting to the bathroom can instead be left to sit for too long in their own waste, leading to skin and genitourinary infections. Patients who need assistance with grooming, self-care and changing can be left to fend for themselves while more demanding residents dominate the attention of staff, which can lead to depression and physical degradation. If left to their own devices for too long, some residents try to do things unassisted, which can lead to falls and concussions.
Nurses who are understaffed may have problems feeding and giving medications to all of the residents on a routine schedule. This can lead to malnutrition, deficiencies in nutrition and other complications caused by not getting their medications on schedule. Dehydration can be especially dangerous in the elderly.
What you can do to help
1 – Visit as often as you can, as long as you are healthy
It will keep your loved one happier, healthier and safer. You will be able to nip problems in the bud before they become much larger problems that can have much more serious consequences. You can also help to care for your family member to lighten the load on nursing staff.
2 – If you cannot visit, call every day
Ask your relative if they are being properly looked after, if they are being fed, groomed, changed and assisted properly. Ask them if their needs are being met and if they are happy. If the answer to any of your questions is ‘no’, contact the Staff Nurse or management immediately.
3 – Document everything
If your loved one tells you that something is wrong, or if you even suspect that they are being poorly treated or neglected, document everything. What happened, the date and time, who was involved, who you spoke with to address the issue and what their response was. Hopefully, no further action will need to be taken. But if you ever need to take legal action against a nursing home, a well-documented paper trail showing their continued failure to address problems can help enormously.
4 – If you see something obviously dangerous, report it immediately
If nursing home residents are being obviously neglected, report it immediately. The State will take steps to rectify the situation, before it escalates any further. To report patient abuse or neglect to the Ohio Attorney General, click here. To file a complaint to the Ohio Department of Health, call 1-800-342-0553.
Extraordinary circumstances – such as a worldwide pandemic – do not excuse neglect or mistreatment.
It is the duty of nursing home owners to ensure that their clinics are properly staffed at all times.
It is the duty of nursing home management to ensure that their staff are properly trained and able to meet the needs of their residents.
Extraordinary circumstances – such as a worldwide pandemic – do nothing to absolve them of this responsibility. It is understandable that care facilities are occasionally understaffed, but owners and management must make every reasonable effort to boost staff to resident ratios to a safe level. If they fail to meet their most basic obligations, they may be found legally liable for any injuries or deaths that occur as a result of their poor management.
If you see or hear of neglect, negligence or abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, do not accept that as an excuse. Neglect, negligence or abuse happen because of poor management. Any explanation other than that is an unacceptable.
Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule a FREE video / Skype / Facetime consultation with one of Dayton’s top rated personal injury lawyers handling nursing home abuse, neglect and wrongful death cases.
Wrongful death is such a painful subject. It seems like such an oxymoron. After all, who doesn’t feel as if the death of a loved one is wrong in some way, shape, or form? All of the people tied to that special person feel a loss at their passing, but in the eyes of the law the emotional toll is just one part of the overall picture when a settlement is involved.
Grief can make these legal waters difficult to navigate, and with that in mind, this article is intended to help you understand the basic procedures surrounding a wrongful death, and what you might expect in the division of a wrongful death settlement.
The first step is understanding what constitutes a wrongful death.
According to the legal encyclopedia nolo.com, wrongful death is treated as if it was a ”personal injury claim in which the injured person is no longer available to file his or her own case in court.¨
Ohio state code section 2125.01 defines a wrongful death as ¨When the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.¨
Most cases of wrongful death are filed because of an accident that resulted in a death (like a car accident or in the form of medical malpractice) but it can also range out to include acts of violence or extreme negligence. If you feel that your loved one’s death falls into these categories outlining wrongful death and you wish to file a claim, or are just unsure of what you can do next, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to review your case.
In the state of Ohio most claims typically face a statute of limitations of two years.
If you wait until two years after the death, even if it does meet the criteria above, the case will almost certainly be dismissed by the courts, with very few exceptions. Even if you are uncertain about the eligibility of your suit, it is best to consult an expert to guide you through this complicated process.
Once you have followed through with the claim and a judgement has been awarded or a settlement has been reached, the next step is to divide that amount among the survivors of the deceased.
Ohio law tries to divide this as fairly as possible, determined by the degree of ¨damages suffered¨ by the beneficiaries. In most cases this is considered chiefly the domain of the spouse of the deceased, any children they had, and their parents.
If someone outside of this group feels they are entitled to compensation, they can make a claim, but they will have to do much more to prove what they have suffered. Regardless of who files, the court will divide the settlement based on inheritance laws which focus on the degree of relationship to the deceased, who was most dependent financially on the deceased, or who had a greater loss from the death.
For example, If a husband dies, his parents have suffered the loss of his company and any care he provided to them even in the form of house and yard work – and this is covered under the state law. However, his wife and any children they may have conceived has lost not only this, but has lost a vital part of the home’s support system. Emotionally and financially, this is considered a greater loss than the loss felt by his parents. Ergo, the wife and children would receive a larger portion of the judgment than his surviving parents.
Usually siblings of the deceased are not included in this party, but can file a claim as stated above. In some cases, the surviving family comes to an agreement on how the settlement should be divided – and this can be a huge benefit – and the courts will agree to honor this arrangement. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will do as they see fit given the circumstances of the case.
If some of the recipients are minors or under the age of twenty-five it is not uncommon for the courts to place the benefit into a trust to either be left untouched until the minor comes of age, or granted use by a designated trustee for particular circumstances (like college tuition, or routine and emergency medical expenses). This is also a preference the family can request of the courts.
Dealing with a wrongful death can be one of the most difficult and heart wrenching experiences you may face. You have already lost someone near and dear to you; however, that does not mean you are without support. You don’t have to face this confusing time of grief alone, so call an experienced, compassionate wrongful death attorney for help today. They will help to guide you through this trying time and receive the fair compensation you deserve.