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Understanding the ins and outs of Social Security Disability

You worked for most of your adult life, but an accident or severe illness has rendered you permanently disabled. Your condition has left you unable to work for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of your life, and you are worried. How can you support your family now? Will you lose everything? It is understandable for you and other Georgia residents in the same situation to have concerns.

It would be a good idea at this time to apply for Social Security Disability. “But I don’t know how Social Security works,” you may think, “and I’ve heard it’s difficult to get approved for benefits.” The following information can help shed some light on Social Security Disability Insurance.

Common causes of car accidents

Human error, equipment malfunction or even animals could be the cause of motor vehicle accidents in Georgia. Human error includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Distracted driving is another common cause of car accidents. Using a phone while driving, eating and even dealing with children while in the car may be distracting enough to cause an accident. Some accidents may occur because the driver has a stroke, a seizure or another medical incident. Even getting lost or being unfamiliar with traffic laws, particularly if the person is from another state, could lead to an accident.

An equipment malfunction may also cause an accident. Sometimes, the malfunction could be because of a mistake made by the manufacturer. An accident could also happen if a person fails to keep up maintenance on the vehicle. Faulty traffic lights could also cause an accident.

Drivers using phones raise fatal accident risk by 66 percent

Most people in Georgia have either used their smartphones behind the wheel or seen other drivers doing it. Because operating a phone takes people's eyes off of the road, the distraction places them at a greater risk of causing crashes. According to research, drivers increase their chances of experiencing a fatal traffic accident by 66 percent when they use their phones.

A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that shifts in the ways that drivers use their phones have heightened crash risks. Instead of making phone calls and talking, surveys indicate that people are engaging in riskier activities like texting, opening apps or browsing the internet. Two traffic surveys conducted in four cities in 2014 and 2018 measured drivers' increasing tendency to text, email or use the internet instead of talking during phone calls. From 2014 to 2018, drivers became 57 percent more likely to use their phones for purposes other than phone calls.

Many medical lawsuits involve antibiotics and painkillers

Patients in Georgia depend on healthcare professionals to make safe and effective choices about their medication. Two commonly prescribed classes of medication, painkillers and antibiotics, account for the most lawsuits involving medication errors.

Doctors must typically navigate conflicting priorities when giving prescriptions for these types of medication. Writing too many prescriptions for pain pills might expose a doctor to claims of enabling an addict. Denying appropriate relief to a person in pain, however, might result in accusations that a doctor failed to provide adequate care. Similarly, antibiotics sometimes place doctors in a quandary. A doctor might avoid giving someone a broad-based antibiotic for fear of contributing to antibiotic resistance. A prescription for an antibiotic that targets a specific type of infection, however, might later prove to be insufficient if it was the wrong choice.

Seatbelt use found to be effective at reducing liver injuries

Emergency room doctors in Georgia and around the country treat about 2 million car accident victims every year. This places a huge financial burden on the health care sector, but treatment costs could be reduced significantly if all road users fastened their seatbelts, according to a recent study. Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center and New York University studied medical records to find out how effective seatbelts are at preventing serious liver injuries. They found that being properly restrained reduced such injuries by 21 percent.

The study was based on information gathered by the National Trauma Data Bank. The researchers studied the cases of 51,202 road users who suffered abdominal injuries in automobile accidents that took place between 2010 and 2015. Reducing the severity of abdominal injuries is important because accident victims who suffer serious liver injuries are about twice as likely to die as those who suffer mild to moderate injuries.

How much does a Georgia DUI affect auto insurance rates?

A conviction for driving under the influence brings with it sizable penalties for Georgia drivers, and these penalties collectively have the potential to upend numerous aspects of your life. In addition to potentially having to spend time behind bars, you may also face ignition interlock requirements, substance abuse treatment obligations and steep fines. You may, too, face other repercussions that do not come directly from a judge or jury.

For example, while the fines associated with a Georgia DUI are considerable, they may also make it increasingly difficult to pay for the jump in your auto insurance rates you can expect following a conviction. Once you receive a DUI, per Insure.com, you become far more of a liability for insurers, so they will typically charge you significantly more for coverage than they would in the absence of a DUI.

Traffic accidents now eighth leading cause of death worldwide

Most Georgia drivers understand the importance of strong road safety regulations. Over the years, laws on speeding, drunk driving, seatbelts and child restraints have helped reduce deaths in the U.S. and worldwide. However, according to a new report by the World Health Organization, many low-income countries lack sufficient laws in these areas. As a result, traffic fatalities continue to rise.

The 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety found that 1.35 million people died in motor vehicle accidents around the world in 2016. That number represents an all-time high. It also makes traffic deaths the eighth leading cause of death for people in all age groups around the world and the top cause of death for young people between the ages of 5 and 29. On the other hand, the worldwide death rate of 18 per 100,000 people has stayed steady over the past 15 years.

Preparing for winter driving in Georgia

With the winter comes blizzards and icy, snowy or wet roads, even in some parts of Georgia. Drivers should therefore take the following tips into account and prepare their vehicles for these challenges. As a first step, they could have a mechanic check their vehicle's components, including the brakes, ignition, spark plugs and battery. The mechanic can also make sure that antifreeze levels are right and that the tires are properly inflated and free of wear.

Drivers may already know that they should slow down in winter weather and keep a greater distance from the vehicle in front (about 8 to 10 seconds is recommended). What they may not know is the function of their own vehicle's safety features. The National Safety Council, together with the University of Iowa, is currently educating drivers on new safety technologies through a campaign called, "My Car Does What?"

Police auto accident reports plagued by incomplete data, says NSC

Georgia residents may know that the number of fatal car crashes is increasing. Yet it will be difficult for states to develop laws and regulations addressing the factors behind this increase, and the reason is simple: police reports come with severe limitations. A study from the National Safety Council shows that this is a nationwide issue.

The NSC identifies 23 crash factors that police should be able to record. But the states that fared the best, Kansas and Wisconsin, captured only 14 of these. Zero states have fields for reporting driver fatigue or the use of advanced driver assistance technologies. Texting and hands-free cell phone use behind the wheel can only be reported in 26 and 32 states, respectively. Police in 35 states cannot capture teen driver restrictions.

Surgeon removes kidney after mistaking it for cancerous tumor

Georgia residents who are about to undergo surgery may be worried about the possibility of surgical errors. Unfortunately, errors do occur, even those that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calls "never events" because they should never happen. Among these mistakes are wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient errors. One such never event has led to a major lawsuit settlement in Florida.

In April 2016, a 51-year-old woman went to the Wellington Regional Medical Center in Florida to undergo back surgery following an auto accident. The surgeons were to fuse the bones in her lower back, and to do this, they had another surgeon make the proper cuts. As he did so, the surgeon spotted one of the woman's kidneys, mistook it for a cancerous tumor and removed it without the patient's consent.

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