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file3291233869663Each day, San Diego residents visit local hospitals and healthcare facilities for routine and outpatient surgeries. Yet much too often, preventable infections lead to severe and even life-threatening patient injuries. According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, six local hospitals in Southern California received fines for preventable patient infections.

Federal Quality Control Efforts Expose Patient Risks

When patients enter hospitals, they should not have to worry about acquiring preventable infections. However, as the article makes clear, hospital-acquired infections are a serious risk for many San Diego County residents. A recent federal review of quality-control efforts in California and throughout the country shows that “too many patients still acquire infections and other potentially deadly yet avoidable complications.”

And these problems do not just afflict smaller or underfunded facilities. As the article notes, “the problem plagues hospitals large and small including prestigious medical centers with a reputation for top-flight care.” Where are some of these dangerous hospitals located? Most Southern Californians will be surprised to learn about some of the well-regarded hospitals that have some of the highest rates of hospital-acquired infections. For instance, the Hillcrest and La Jolla campuses of UC San Diego Medical Center, as well as Scripps Green Hospital, “have infection scores that put them in the worst 5% of hospitals nationwide.”

When hospitals do not perform well when it comes to hospital-acquired patient infections, they can be penalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Specifically, CMS has a hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) program, which includes hospital-acquired infections. The most recent report looked at around 4,000 hospitals across the nation, and 758 of those facilities had reimbursement cuts because of rates of HACs. Six of those hospitals were located in San Diego County:

  • Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla;
  • UC San Diego Medical Center;
  • Scripps Mercy in Hillcrest;
  • Scripps Memorial in Encinitas;
  • Sharp Coronado; and
  • Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside.

As U-T San Diego underscores, a number of these hospitals were also fined in 2014—the year that the HACs program began under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Learning More About Hospital-Acquired Conditions

As we mentioned, infections are one form of hospital-acquired condition. On its program website, CMS provides a list of HACs for which it can penalize hospitals. Those HACs include but are not limited to:

  • Foreign objects retained in the body after surgery;
  • Air embolisms;
  • Blood incompatibility;
  • Pressure ulcers;
  • Falls and other forms of physical trauma;
  • Various manifestations of poor glycemic control;
  • Urinary tract infections associated with catheter use; and
  • Surgical site infections.

Surgical site infections can affect many different areas of the body and can follow many different kinds of surgeries. Some of the following surgeries are linked to post-surgical infections that may be preventable:

  • Coronary artery bypass graft;
  • Laparoscopic gastric bypass;
  • Gastroenterostomy;
  • Laparoscopic gastric restrictive surgery;
  • Cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) surgery; and
  • Orthopedic procedures impacting the spine, neck, shoulder, and/or elbow.

If you acquired an infection after visiting a San Diego hospital, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. You should discuss your situation with a dedicated San Diego medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for assistance.

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brain scanWe know that multiple concussions can result in irreparable, long-term damage. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease of the brain, is now a condition that we know results from sustaining repeated traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), both in contact sports and elsewhere. But what about “seemingly mild, concussion-type head injuries” that happen only one time? According to a recent news release from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers now acknowledge that sustaining what we might call a mild TBI actually can “lead to long-term cognitive impairments surprisingly often.”

Brain Protein Discovered That Signals Cognitive Impairments

According to the news release, researchers have discovered a brain protein known as SNTF. It can show up in the blood after a patient sustains a mild TBI, but it does not show up in all cases of concussions. Researchers believe that the presence of SNTF “signals the type of brain damage that is thought to be the source of these cognitive impairments.” A team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Glasgow (in the UK) recently reported these findings.

One of the authors of the study elaborated on the significance of SNTF, noting that “the brain protein specifically indicates the presence of nerve fiber damage that we call diffuse axonal injury.” While that kind of an injury may not be clear to someone without specific medical knowledge, the researchers emphasize the underlying point of that finding: “even relatively mild, concussion-type brain impacts can cause permanent damage of this kind.” We do not need to be able to identify the brain protein ourselves to understand that it is a marker of a potential long-term battle with the repercussions of a head trauma.

To better understand what the researchers mean by a diffuse axonal injury, we can take a closer look at some previous research into such brain damage. As the news release explains, a diffuse axonal injury happens when the brain moves suddenly as the result of a TBI. Bundles of axons that are connected to specific regions of the brain get stretched rapidly, the news release articulates. When these axons get stretched rapidly, they can become deformed, which can result in “abnormal inflows of sodium and calcium ions that help regulate a neuron’s function.” When calcium levels are too high, a “self-destruct process” is triggered, which can ultimately result in the severing of nerve fibers.

Blood Tests May Help Physicians to Treat Head Trauma

What is the significance of the recent finding? It suggests that physicians might ultimately be able to use blood tests after a patient suffers a bump or blow to the head in order to determine whether that patient may have a diffuse axonal injury. And if a physician can diagnose a diffuse axonal injury, she can help to better predict a patient’s level of cognitive impairment as a result of the TBI.

Sustaining a concussion—whether as a youth athlete, a military service member, or as an adult civilian who does not participate in sports—can have lifelong consequences. If you or a loved one suffered a mild brain injury because of another person’s negligence or wrongful act, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation. Do not hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced California brain injury lawyer. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.

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Is it safe to travel on the highways in California? Whether you are commuting to work in San Diego on the I-5 or are taking a vacation that requires you to drive with your family along the I-10, it is extremely important to be aware of serious car accident risks. According to a recent report from The California Report and KQED News, highway traffic fatalities are on the rise in California despite a relatively steady national number of deaths on America’s roadways. What is happening on California’s highways that makes driving in our state more dangerous? What can you do if you have suffered injuries as a result of another driver’s negligence?

Federal Highway Traffic Safety Data Highlights Substantial Death Toll

As the recent report makes clear, new federal highway safety data shows that “the traffic death toll in California continues to trend upward even as the number of people who die on roads nationwide holds steady.” Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified nearly 33,000 auto accident fatalities and about 2.3 million accidents that resulted in injuries. While that death toll might strike you as shockingly high—and it is a high number, to be sure—it actually represents a decline in the total number of nationwide auto accident deaths from the previous year. Between 2013 and 2014, auto accident collisions caused 44 fewer fatalities.

Several decades ago, yearly traffic fatalities tended to total more than 50,000, but we have seen that number decreasing in a meaningful way throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The lowest number we have seen yet occurred in 2011, when the NHTSA reported a total of 32,479 car accident deaths. But the NHTSA’s recent report suggests that the number is likely to increase from last year—it is already up by more than 8% from the same period in 2014.

California is, unfortunately, leading the nation in terms of highway deaths relative to the total population. In 2014, California reported a total of 3,074 motor vehicle fatalities. That number represents a 2.5% increase from 2013, when the total death toll was 3,000. The lowest number of fatal highway accidents we have seen in California was back in 2010 when the total was 2,715. Since then, the number has increased at a relatively striking pace.

Difficulty Pinpointing the Impact of Smartphone Use

Many commentators suspect that the rise in California highway fatalities has a connection to the use of smartphones on the road. According to a spokesperson with the California Office of Traffic Safety, most Californians recognize that smartphone use is “a huge problem.” Indeed, “investigators and analysts estimate that personal electronic devices are involved in 10% to 20% of crashes.” Yet determining an absolute number is difficult because of the nature of the traffic violation.

With other traffic violations, law enforcement officers have evidence to back up their suspicions. For example, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) often is backed up with a measurement of a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Or, if a driver is going too fast, a law enforcement officer has evidence of the excessive speed. With smartphone use, unless there is an eyewitness, it is difficult to know whether or not a driver may have been illegally using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you should speak with a dedicated San Diego car accident attorney to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

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Opened First Aid Kit

Opened First Aid Kit

Does the failure to maintain a patient’s privacy ever rise to the level of medical negligence? According to a recent article from NPR, disclosing a patient’s health history under certain circumstances may in fact be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. What do you need to know about your privacy rights as a patient? When might a physician’s violation of those privacy rights lead to a successful lawsuit?

Breaches of Patient Safety May Amount to Medical Malpractice

Depending on the state you live in, courts may be more or less willing to consider a breach of privacy in relation to a medical negligence claim. Although California has not yet provided such a ruling, that fact alone does not mean that patients in our state should feel as though they do not have certain rights to privacy that patients in other states maintain.

For example, just this past summer, a patient filed a claim against UCLA and the Regents of the University of California due to a breach of privacy, according to the NPR report. What harm had the patient suffered? She argued that “a romantic rival accessed and shared her medical records.” The NPR article noted that “the rival was a temporary worker in the hospital of a private practice physician affiliated with UCLA’s Santa Monica Office,” and the “doctor acknowledged improperly sharing his password.” The jury in Los Angeles did not find in favor of the patient, but she had already settled out of court with the physician. Subsequent claims in California could ultimately turn out differently, with a jury awarding damages to an injured plaintiff.

Unlike the California court decision, courts in Indiana have been particularly “receptive to such arguments” about patient privacy. Patient advocates contend that more states should behave like Indiana, emphasizing to patients that their privacy rights are important and that healthcare providers will be held liable if they breach those privacy rights.

According to one advocate, “privacy protections should be the same regardless of what state you’re in.” Indeed, he underscored, “there is something wrong with an employer providing the means, providing the access, and providing the tools by which an employee can commit this crime and then being able to hold up their hands and say, ‘It’s not our fault.’ Should federal laws come into play? Or would a larger look to federal protections undercut state laws concerning medical malpractice?

Large-Scale Medical History Breaches

Some patient safety advocates argue that medical data breaches are nationwide issues that can involves hundreds—or even thousands—of patients. The federal Office for Civil Rights has looked into large-scale breaches of medical data already. Under current law, healthcare providers are required to notify the Office for Civil Rights “within 60 days of breaches affecting at least 500 people.” In addition, healthcare providers are required to “share details with the media and contact those potentially affected.” Thus far, the Office for Civil Rights has looked into cases even when there has been no clear “demonstrable real-world harm” to the patient. In the last six year, the office has gotten information concerning approximately 1,400 large-scale data breaches.

What happens when smaller patient data breaches impact individual plaintiffs? It may be possible for patients who have suffered breaches of confidentiality to file medical malpractice claims. You should speak with an experienced San Diego medical negligence lawyer about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.

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file161261158584Did your child ask for a Hoverboard for Christmas? Did you decide that the warm winter weather in San Diego would make for an amenable environment in which to learn how to use a Hoverboard? Regardless of whether children or adults use these devices, numerous reports suggest that serious personal injuries arise when people attempt to use these dangerous consumer products. According to a recent report from, “despite their coolness, this tech fad has a dangerous side.”

Learning More About Hoverboards

What is a Hoverboard? Perhaps you have seen these devices on television or on neighborhood streets. In short, they are self-balancing, two-wheeled scooters that quickly became “one of the hottest toys of the year,” according to the article. Celebrities can be seen gliding around on Hoverboards, while kids of all ages likely want a chance to ride one.

As the article explains, new Hoverboards really are more like “miniature Segways minus the handlebars.” They respond to the user’s movement, “moving forward when you lean forward and braking and reversing when you lean back.” Unlike a skateboard (another two-wheeled device), Hoverboard users face forward (just like with a Segway scooter). Very subtle movements of the “feet, legs, and torso” control the movement of the Hoverboard. The user’s physical movement also controls the speed. There are pressure-sensitive footpads that allow you to press harder to speed up and to let up on the pressure to slow down. As soon as a rider steps onto the Hoverboard, the device begins moving. As such, they are “tricky to mount and dismount.”

In addition to difficulties with mounting and dismounting, the lack of handlebars also prevents the user from having anything with which to steady him or herself. As the article notes, “it’s easy to fall off while you get used to the board.”

Hoverboard Personal Injury Risks

While these devices might look like they could be fun to use, there are two major injury risks that allegedly accompany the use of Hoverboards:

  • Risk of the device exploding and catching on fire; and
  • Risk of serious falls.

When it comes to the risk of fire, these dangerous products may in fact be defective. Given the number of Hoverboards that have exploded, “cities are banning them from roads and sidewalks,” while “airlines won’t let you bring them onto planes.” In addition, online retailers, including major ones like Amazon and Overstock, have decided to stop selling certain Hoverboard models and even have gone as far as to tell consumers to “trash ones they’ve already received.” There has been no official recall, however.

In addition to the risk of fire-related injuries, the difficulty of balancing and maneuvering on Hoverboards also makes fall-related injuries a serious problem. While physicians recommend using proper safety gear—such as a helmet, knee pads, wrist pads, and elbow pads—a fall can still result in severe injuries, including but not limited to:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
  • Neck injuries;
  • Back injuries; and
  • Broken bones.

Many new consumer products can pose serious risks to users. If you or someone you love sustained a serious injury while using a Hoverboard, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. You should discuss your case with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist with your claim.

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motorcycle_02If you are riding on a motorcycle in San Diego, are you at higher risk of suffering injuries in an auto accident than other motorists? According to a recent article in the Ventura County Star, law enforcement officials in our state are concerned about motorcyclist safety and are conducting motorcycle safety enforcement operations in Southern California. It is important to know the risks associated with motorcycle accidents, and it is essential for bikers to understand the ways in which we can all work together to prevent deadly crashes.

Safety Enforcement Operation Targets Common Motorcycle Accident Areas

According to the article, earlier this month the Ventura County sheriff’s office planned an operation to “patrol areas frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes have occurred.” The law enforcement officers planned to keep a close eye on traffic violations committed by automobile drivers, but also by motorcyclists who share the roadways. While not all motorcycle collisions occur during daylight hours, more auto accidents happen during the daytime work week than you might think. As such, the enforcement period focused on the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

What are some of the behaviors and violations the Ventura County sheriff’s office aimed to stop through the safety enforcement operation? Authorities are interested in both identifying traffic violations that can put other drivers and riders at risk in addition to helping motorcyclists to learn ways of staying safe on the road. Generally speaking, traffic citations can be issued for certain forms of aggressive driving, such as speeding, running red lights, and riding through stop signs. But other safety issues involving motorcycles do not necessarily allow law enforcement officers to issue citations. According to the article, the safety enforcement operation also hoped to encourage motorcyclists and automobile drivers to pay attention to the following issues:

  • Knowing the importance of sharing the road, both for motorcyclists and automobile drivers alike;
  • Automobile drivers looking twice for motorcyclists before turning, entering the highway, or changing lanes;
  • Motorcycle riders wearing helmets and protective clothing;
  • Motorcyclists only changing lanes when there is “ample room” to do so;
  • Staying with the speed of traffic, particularly if you are a motorcyclist (and not speeding ahead or weaving between cars); and
  • Motorcycle riders using lights at all times, even during the day.

A guide from Consumer Reports emphasizes that, while not all states require motorcyclists to wear helmets, a helmet is indeed required of all riders in California. Wearing a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet is not just an important safety decision—it is also the law.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Given the key issues in the motorcycle safety enforcement operation we discussed above, you may be able to guess some of the primary causes of motorcycle collisions. According to a fact sheet from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the following represent some of the most common reasons that motorcycle accidents and fatalities occur:

  • Failure to wear a helmet;
  • Failure to have a valid motorcycle license and/or training;
  • Impaired riding or driving (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol); and
  • Speeding.

In 2013 alone, according to the GHSA, more than one-third of all deadly motorcycle accidents involved riders who had been speeding.

Contact a San Diego Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle collision, an experienced San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about our services.

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brain scanHow is the NFL handling increasing pressure to take preventive measures when it comes to sports-related concussions that occur with surprising frequency in professional football? According to a recent article from CNBC, the NFL “believes one of the best ways to ensure the longevity of its sports—as well as all sports—is to make sure athletes are equipped with the latest and most advanced technologies to prevent traumatic brain injuries.” In other words, the NFL’s answer to sports safety advocates is that we need more science and better technological innovations to keep players from sustaining life-threatening head trauma. The answer to concussion concerns, the league suggests, is not an end to the game of football.

New Technology and the Head Health Challenge

Last year the NFL along with GE and Under Armour sponsored a “Head Health Challenge,” which gave researchers an opportunity to “invent ways to improve safety in sports by helping to prevent head injuries.” This year the NFL partnered with GE and Under Armour for the second year of competition. According to Jeff Miller, the NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy, the Head Health Challenge II emphasizes the league’s commitment to keeping players on the field safely by applying new technologies and scientific innovations to head-injury prevention.

The competition, as the article points out, is one portion of the Head Health Initiative—a $60 million plan that was initiated in 2013 by both the NFL and its partner, GE, to “advance diagnosis and treatment of concussions.” Researchers who have invested time and energy into the project contend that it is not only about football-related concussions, or sports-related head traumas altogether. GE’s director of community and government strategy contended that the Head Health Initiative may be able to help us understand the relationship between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and degenerative conditions such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Focus on Science with Release of Concussion Film

As CNBC notes, the NFL’s continued emphasis on scientific innovation with regard to TBI prevention coincides with the release of the film Concussion. The film traces the medical discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and its link to sports-related concussions. NFL officials have indicated that the film will serve to raise more awareness about head injuries in football, which will hopefully result in continued scientific research into injury prevention methods.

As researchers continue to make new discoveries about the long-term risks of concussions, players and their families will be in a better and more informed position about whether or not they are willing to take those risks by participating in the sport.

Examples of new technologies developed through the Head Health Initiative that could help to limit concussions include but are not limited to:

  • New helmets that “protect against fractures and concussions”;
  • Protective turf underlayers; and
  • Rate-dependent tethers that prevent the head from “snapping or whipping when a high-speed, high-force event occurs.”

In the meantime, athletes continue to be at risk of serious TBIs and long-term health risks as a result of multiple concussions. If you or someone you love suffered concussions while playing football, you should discuss your case with an experienced San Diego brain injury attorney. Do not hesitate to contact the Walton Law Firm to find out more about how we can help you.

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construction siteThe construction industry ranks among the most hazardous for employees, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Construction jobs in California are no exception. A recent article from CBS News reported on a deadly structural collapse at a construction site in Oceanside close to El Camino High School. Construction areas can pose hazards both for construction workers at those sites and for passersby who are in or around the area of construction. How did the accident happen? While the accident remains under investigation Cal/OSHA, we can take a closer look at construction accident statistics and safety issues in order to understand the risks posed by this industry.

Employee Fatally Injured by Falling Concrete Slab

Although the recent accident in Oceanside is still being investigated, we do know some facts about the deadly incident from the CBS News article. The accident occurred at around 9 a.m. at a FedEx warehouse facility that was in the process of being built on Avenida del Oro. The construction worker had been positioned “alongside a drainage channel . . . when a section of retaining wall fell on him for unknown reasons.” A crane operator attempted to remove the extremely large concrete slab that fell into the construction employee (a piece of building material estimated to be about three feet by twelve feet), but the worker had already died from injuries.

Suffering a fatal injury as a result of being struck by an object is, unfortunately, a scenario that is all too common in the construction industry. According to a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), being struck by an object is among the “fatal four” of common accidents in the construction industry. OSHA cites the following data concerning construction’s “fatal four” and the number of deadly injuries reported each year:

  • Falls (349 deaths, or nearly 40% of all annual construction deaths);
  • Electrocutions (74 deaths, or 8.5% of construction-related fatalities);
  • Struck by Object (73 fatalities, or 8.4% of all construction deaths reported per year); and
  • Caught in/between (12 deaths, or 1.4% of reported annual fatalities).

California Construction Accident Risks

The “fatal four” identified by OSHA occur at construction sites across the country, but California is no stranger to these deadly incidents. An article in Safety and Health Magazine identified a trend of fatal construction accidents in California last year. It emphasized that Cal/OSHA inspectors have traveled to local construction sites to ensure that the following areas for safety issues are taken seriously and that employers take proper precautions:

  • Falls;
  • Trenches;
  • Equipment safety; and
  • Power lines.

In the past, Cal/OSHA has emphasized that awareness about safety issues on construction sites is one of the primary ways to help prevent accidents from happening. Yet even construction companies that have paid very close attention to hazards and have taken significant precautions can learn that an accident occurred at a worksite.

If you or someone you love suffered a serious or fatal injury at a construction site, it is important to speak with an experienced San Diego construction accident lawyer about filing a claim for financial compensation. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can assist you.

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_DSC6907Eight high school football players in the country have already died from sports-related injuries sustained this season. With increased focus across the nation on the risks of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and high school sports, officials in California have decided to take a closer look at the future of high school football in our state. According to a recent article in the Contra Costa Times, in response to football fatalities, “the administrator who oversees high school athletics in California raised concerns this week about the sport’s future.

Critical Juncture in High School Football

Does high school football have a future in the San Diego area? Or do the risks of traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries (SCIs), and other serious wounds outweigh student and parent interest in allowing the sport to continue? Roger Blake, the executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), suggested that we may not see football being played at high schools in a handful of years: “I think honestly—and I say this in all sincerity—I think high school football, we’re at a critical juncture in the next two to three years.”

What could lead the administrator to shut down football programs at local high schools? Blake explained that the CIF is “going to have to watch and look at the medical science and see what the community says about the future.” It is not just California schools that could put an end to high school football. Blake emphasized that school districts and athletics programs across the country are all at the same “critical juncture.”

Keeping Sports-Related Injuries in Perspective

While it is possible that the CIF could reevaluate the risks and reward of high school football in the coming years, Blake emphasized that it is important for parents and school officials to keep the number of fatal sports-related accidents in perspective. As he explained, there are “more kids involved in tragic accidents in cars at 15 years old than the 1.1 million high school football players playing.” In other words, more students sustain deadly injuries in car accidents each year—by far—than do students on football fields. Yet that fact alone cannot be enough to maintain support for a sport that may be putting youth athletes at unnecessary risk of injury.

Blake indicated that the CIF wants to focus on ways to make the game safer for teenagers in California high schools. While the CIF pays close attention to medical reports about sports-related concussions, TBIs, and other catastrophic injuries. The focus of the CIF, however, remains on making football (and other contact sports) safer without eradicating such athletics programs altogether. The article noted that, while Blake discussed the CIF’s position on sports-related injuries and high school football, another young player sustained fatal injuries on the football field.

Sports-related injuries can be debilitating and even deadly. Football players are at serious risk of suffering traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other catastrophic injuries on the field. In many cases, these injuries could have been prevented. If your child suffered a severe sports-related injury, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. You should discuss your case with an aggressive San Diego brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about our services.

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IMG_7906When San Diego residents hear about holiday driving hazards, many believe they are not at risk of an auto accident because of the relatively sunny weather we experience all year. Yet the risks that come with holiday driving are not necessarily impacted by inclement weather. According to an article in EHS Today, the most common holiday driving hazards have nothing to do with snow and ice. Rather, driving while you are impaired, distracted, fatigued, or experiencing stress can result in a severe car accident. In the event that you will be driving outside of Southern California during the holidays, it is important to keep in mind that snow-covered roads and limited visibility will only be made worse if you are not prepared to be behind the wheel.

What do you need to know about staying safe on the roads this holiday season? We will examine risky driving behaviors in more detail to make clear the ways in which these actions can pose serious risks to the driver, passengers, and others out on the roadways.

Impaired Driving During the Holiday Season

During the holidays, impaired driving occurs much too often. Holiday parties at your place of employment or holiday dinners at the houses of friends and family often involve drinking alcohol. Having even one drink too many can result in a deadly auto accident. According to the article, “an increase in the number of impaired drivers using the roadways during the winter holidays has been well-established by law enforcement, and the loss of life resulting from impaired driving is also well-established.”

How dangerous is drunk driving in California? According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10,000 people died in California car accidents involving a drunk driver between 2003 and 2012. A majority of the deaths involved people between the ages of 21-34, but persons in all age groups were impacted by alcohol-related crashes. California does have a slightly lower rate of alcohol-related accident fatalities than the national average, and fewer Californians self-report drinking and driving than do Americans surveyed to calculate the national average. However, drunk driving accidents do occur in our state, and we should be particularly careful about these preventable accidents during the holidays.

Other Holiday Driving Dangers

In addition to driving under the influence of alcohol, the article notes the following as serious holiday driving hazards:

  • Distracted driving: taking your eyes off the road or concentrating on other tasks while you are driving can result in a serious or even fatal car accident. Distracted driving includes cell phone use, texting, and even remapping a route on your GPS device.
  • Driving under pressure: the holiday season is often a stressful time for San Diego residents, from the financial strains of gift-giving to the year-end pressures at work. If you are stressed, you are more likely to drive aggressively, and aggressive driving can lead to a serious crash.
  • Fatigued driving: if you drive while you are too tired to be behind the wheel, you could be putting yourself and others at risk. While there are “increased demands and activities during the winter holidays [that] often mean significantly reduced sleep schedules,” according to the article, it is important to pull over if you are too tired to drive.

Auto accidents can happen suddenly and without warning. In many cases, another driver’s negligence is the cause of the crash. If another party’s negligence led to a traffic collision in which you sustained severe injuries, it is important to discuss your case with an aggressive San Diego car accident lawyer. You may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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