Archive for April, 2013

15
Apr 2013
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Rhode Island Texting & Driving Ban Proves Controversial

Our Providence, RI accident attorneys believe that texting while driving is one of the most dangerous activities that a person can do while behind the wheel of an automobile. Distraction.gov has provided data indicating that a driver who is reading or writing a text is 23 times more likely to crash. A texting driver could also drive the whole length of a football field blind every second if he was going 55 miles per hour. Clearly, texting and driving is too risky for drivers and people need to be discouraged from this dangerous behavior.

Unfortunately, a recent article on GoLocalProv indicates that Rhode Island’s current ban on texting and driving is proving ineffective. A bill introduced in the House would change the current rule, making enforcement penalties much stricter. However, the new bill is very controversial and the Rhode Island branch of the ACLU has vowed to fight the law.

Rhode Island Texting and Driving Ban

The ban on texting and driving in the state of Rhode Island was originally passed two years ago.  Since its passage, drivers have received almost 600 tickets and been fined more than $36,000. Providence has issued the most tickets, with 39 in the area, while some local police departments have only issued five or fewer tickets.

The law imposes a fine of $85 for a first offense, defined as sending, reading or writing a text when driving. Fines go up to a $100 for a second offense and $125 for third and subsequent offenses.  Since the law has passed, only one ticket has been issued to a repeat offender.

However, Representative Charlene Lima and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin believe that more needs to be done. As such, Lima has introduced a bill that would put into place some of the strictest penalties for texting and driving laws in the entire country.

Under the proposed law, drivers would be required to install a device in their car after their first offense. The device would prevent text messaging and making cell phone calls except to 911 or to an emergency number.

If a driver was required to put the device in his or her car and was subsequently caught without it, the driver would be subject to a one year license suspension for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the license suspension would increase to two years. The law would not permit any judge or magistrate to waive the license suspension requirement.

While these harsh penalties very likely would have a deterrent effect and stop people from texting and driving, they are being met with a great deal of controversy. The Rhode Island branch of the ACLU believes that the law would be a serious infringement on civil liberties.

Concerns about the new suggested penalties are not unfounded, especially as texting on a cell phone is a civil offense and not a criminal one like drunk driving. The concerns about the potential infringement on people’s rights will need to be weighed against the public safety interest in preventing texting and driving accidents.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced auto accident lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl  serves clients in Providence, R.I., as well as Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.

9
Apr 2013
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Rhode Island DUI Injuries Reported in Route 146N Crash

Multiple people, including a state police officer, suffered injuries recently after a drunk driver reportedly barreled down Route 146 North with no apparent regard for the lives he was putting at risk.

Our Providence DUI injury attorneys have learned that the incident happened near the 1-295 interchange, where an officer has responded to a request to assist a motorist who had broken down on the side of the roadway.

Investigators are still piecing together the details, but they suspect that as the officer was outside his vehicle helping the stranded motorist, the drunk driver reportedly plowed into the police car – totaling it – before slamming into the broken-down vehicle as well.

While the injuries sustained were extensive, it’s believed that, miraculously, everyone will survive.

The driver who was reportedly drunk has so far been charged with DWI, driving to endanger and possession of narcotics. It’s probable that additional charges could follow.

Drunk driving cases are some of the most tragic and frustrating because not only are they 100 percent preventable, so often we see the person at-fault walking away from the wreckage with a few scrapes and bruises, while the victims may not walk away at all.

In Rhode Island, nearly 40 percent of all traffic-related deaths are connected to impaired driving, according to the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Our state reportedly incurs roughly $153 million annually in costs for drunken drivers. That includes not only the property damage, hospital bills and emergency responders, but also lost wages and lost productivity.

In this case, we don’t know how old the driver was, but we do know that a recent survey showed nearly 40 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 20 in Rhode Island reported consuming alcohol within the last month. That amounts to 52,000 people. To assume that none of those individuals stepped behind the wheel of a car would be foolish.

While the state did see an 11 percent decrease in DUI fatalities from 2011 to 2010, the state failed in both 2011 and 2012 to pass a measure that would have mandated ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders – not just those guilty of repeat offenses. This is maddening because it truly is a simple way to check those who have proven themselves untrustworthy behind the wheel.

Here’s the reality: By the time a person is stopped and arrested for drunk driving, MADD calculates that he or she has actually been behind the wheel impaired at least 80 times. Not everyone gets that lucky, of course, but we certainly can’t assume that just because someone got caught one time means it’s the first time they’ve done it.

In the last five years, we have seen 133 people in Rhode Island die as a result of the careless and negligent actions of a drunk driver.

With regard to repeat offenders, MADD reports that there are some 3,500 three-time offenders and nearly 550 FIVE-time offenders.

If you have been injured in a Rhode Island DUI accident, contact The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at (508) 677-4900.

3
Apr 2013
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FDA Recalls More Drugs From Compounding Pharmacies

Health care officials in Connecticut were puzzled when they reached for a plastic bag of magnesium sulfate solution – and spotted floating particles inside.

It was later determined to be fungus – similar to what led to a deadly meningitis outbreak late last year connected to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that produced injectable steroids.

Our Fall River personal injury attorneys understand that this case involves another compounding pharmacy, although this one, Med Prep Consulting, is located in New Jersey. Yet these batches of medications, used to treat a deadly pregnancy condition known as preeclampsia and also to steady the heartbeat after surgery – were shipped to at least 12 different sites throughout the country.

As a result, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has ordered all health care providers to immediately halt their use of the product, and the firm has recalled all 83 of the products it manufactures. It has further agreed to halt all operations until further inspections can be conducted.

Records show a prior inspection in November didn’t appear to indicate any significant problems with contamination.

As of yet, there have not been any reports indicating illness or injury resulting from administration of these drugs, but it could be too early yet to know for sure.

The fact is, though, even before the fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 45 people and sickened 650 more last year, compounding pharmacies have been linked to illnesses, safety failures and even deaths.

Compounding pharmacies, if you aren’t familiar, are facilities that custom make and mix certain drugs that are used in clinics, hospitals and by individual patients. Yet, the industry is not as tightly regulated as other pharmacies, and few of these facilities faced any significant consequences, even when oversights and errors resulted in deaths.

A recent investigation by The Washington Post found that both state and federal regulators appeared to have taken little action with regard to systematic inspections and following through with ultimatums for not correcting hazards.

The Post found that serious and potentially deadly problems existed in at least three of the 15 largest compounding pharmacies in the country – not including the New England Compounding Center, where the fungal meningitis outbreak was spawned. These pharmacies make untold millions of dollars with their mass production of medicine – despite the fact that they are actually supposed to be producing them for custom order based on individual patient prescriptions.

In fact, where these firms once supplied about 15 percent of all intravenous drugs about 10 years ago, compounding pharmacies are now supplying about 40 percent of all injectable drugs.

Some of the most common problems in these facilities included medication that was too potent or that was contaminated with bacteria.

Compounding pharmacies started with seemingly good intentions back in the 1990s, with hospitals seeking to outsource the mixing of some of their most dangerous drugs, as nurses had routinely made egregious and sometimes fatal errors in this regard. Compounding pharmacies seemed to be the perfect solution.

The problem is that these facilities are not held to the same regulatory standard, and as it stands can not be compelled to quality control test each batch for proper potency and sterility.

That may change, however, as a number of lawsuits have recently been filed against the NECC, following the fungal meningitis outbreak.

If you have been injured as a result of defective drugs in Massachusetts, contact The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at (508) 677-4900.