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Thomaston Legal Blog

How long does a divorce take in Georgia?

No one enters a marriage with the expectation that it will end. Many life changes happen that can lead to the breakdown of a marital relationship, such as financial strain, health problems and infidelity. Sometimes, the only approach to these situations is divorce.

Divorce can be a frightening undertaking and comes with numerous questions. If you find yourself considering this option, one thing you may wonder is how long a divorce takes in Georgia. The answer depends on many factors.

Memorial Day to Labor Day: the deadliest days for teen drivers

Teen drivers, being inexperienced, are usually more liable to get in auto accidents here in Georgia. The chances of an accident are even higher during the summer when teens are out on the road more. Ford Motor Company has pointed to the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as especially dangerous for teen drivers, and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls this the 100 deadliest days for teens.

Fatal car crashes involving teen drivers go up an alarming 15%, on average, in summer. Parents, not only in the summer but at every other time of the year, have a duty to educate their teens about being a safe driver. It all begins with vehicle maintenance. For example, the tires should be properly inflated. Once in the car, teens must buckle up as it is against the law not to do so.

The top three deadliest cars still on the road

Georgia drivers may be interested to learn that there were a reported 34,247 fatal motor vehicles accidents in 2017 that resulted in 37,133 deaths. Even with automakers consistently coming out with new safety features and high-tech crash avoidance systems, car accidents are still the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers. This may be due to certain vehicles being historically more deadly than others. Therefore, those who are looking for used vehicles for younger or newer drivers should choose their new car carefully.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety identified the most dangerous cars with model years between 2013 and 2017 that are common on the roadways today. At the very top of the list, the Mitsubishi Mirage, a subcompact car, had a fatal crash rate of 10.2 vehicles per billion vehicle miles in 2017. At No. 2, the Chevrolet Corvette had a crash rate of 9.8 vehicles per billion miles. Finally, the small Honda Fit had a fatal crash rate of 7.7 vehicles per billion vehicle miles.

Study finds schizophrenia patients often misdiagnosed

The side effects of schizophrenia treatments can be significant for patients in Georgia. Powerful antipsychotic medications can affect people's overall psychological well-being as well as their physical bodies. Some are linked to weight gain while others are related to involuntary physical movements known as tardive dyskinesia. In fact, some of these side effects can be why it is so difficult for many people with schizophrenia to maintain medication regimens. Still, the benefits can outweigh the risks for people struggling with severe mental illness.

One recent study indicates that many people may receive a diagnosis or even treatment for schizophrenia when they do not actually have the disorder. Misdiagnoses of patients sent for further treatment for schizophrenia at one psychiatric clinic was so common in the study that over half the patients instead received a different diagnosis, especially anxiety or another mood disorder. One of the biggest problems, researchers found, was the misdiagnosis of severe mental illness by general practice physicians. In many cases, they made the diagnosis and even prescribed medication without seeking a second opinion from a specialist, such as a psychiatrist.

Survey shows many drivers get distracted by emergency vehicles

The National Safety Council and Emergency Responder Safety Institute recently conducted a survey asking drivers what they do when they observe an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Georgia residents may not be surprised to hear that 71% of respondents said they take photos or videos. This was regardless of whether the vehicle was conducting a routine traffic stop or responding to a fire or crash. Another 60% said they post on social media about it, and 66% email someone.

This behavior poses a risk to first responders when they exit those emergency vehicles to help others. In the first four months of 2019, 16 first responders were struck and killed by vehicles. Not surprisingly, 16% of respondents admitted that they had struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle. While 89% recognized the danger of distracted driving poses to first responders, only 19% thought their own driving could pose the same danger.

Georgia police cannot enforce breath tests

Numerous traffic violations go out throughout Georgia every day. Many of these relate to driving under the influence of alcohol, and it has become much more difficult for Georgia law enforcement to arrest suspected drivers. 

Recently, state legislators attempted to fix a law that claims refusal to take a breath test cannot come up in court against the arrested driver. A bill came up in Georgia's Senate that would have corrected this problem, but it did not pass. It did not reinstate mandatory breath tests on the sides of roads. This makes it much easier for drivers to get out of DUI convictions if there is not substantial evidence to back up a police officer's claims. 

New research provided for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month so that residents of Georgia and across the U.S. may recognize the dangers of that behavior. This year, the Risk Institute at The Ohio State University provided research on various factors behind the growing trend of being distracted behind the wheel.

For example, researchers studied driver behavior and how certain incentives, such as insurance discounts, can be effective in promoting good behaviors. They found that the more confident drivers are, the more likely they will engage in distracted or other risky activities on the road.

Most malpractice claims are diagnosis-related, studies find

Misdiagnosis is often to blame for hospital patient deaths in Georgia. The National Academy of Medicine concluded back in 2015 that diagnostic errors may be the third leading cause of death among hospitalized patients and may be behind the majority of paid medical malpractice claims. This has recently been backed up by the separate reports of two malpractice insurers.

The first is from Coverys, an insurer based in Boston, and covers 1,800 closed claims against physicians from 2013 to 2017. Of these, 46 percent were diagnosis-related. Forty-five percent of the patients in these cases died. Diagnosis-related claims accounted for 68 percent of the indemnity costs that were paid out.

Colon cancer misdiagnosed more frequently in younger patients

Georgia residents should know that clinical misdiagnoses may be behind the sharp increase in patients 50 or younger who have stage 3 or 4 colorectal cancer (colon cancer). A study from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance shows that 71 percent of patients under 50 have stage 3 or 4 colon cancer, whereas patients over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 colon cancer.

These conclusions are based on the testimony of 1,195 respondents. Of these, 63 percent said they had to wait between three and 12 months to be screened for the cancer. Many of these patients did not get an accurate diagnosis until they had seen two to four physicians.

Study finds association between opioid use, traffic fatalities

Georgia drivers who cause fatal two-car accidents might be more likely to be under the influence of alcohol or prescription opioids than drivers who are not at fault. Researchers looked at 18,321 fatal two-car accidents and found that more than 900 drivers who were at fault tested positive for prescription opioids compared to 549 who were not at fault. More than 5,200 motorists who were at fault tested positive for alcohol compared to 1,815 who were not at fault.

The study also found the incidence of drivers under the influence of opioids was on the rise. More than 7 percent of drivers at fault had opioids in their system in 2016 compared to 2 percent in 1993. However, experts say that some elements of the study may be somewhat misleading. Studies have found that people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain over a long period of time build up a tolerance that makes driving safe for them. It tends to be abusers of the drug, who are unused to it, who may be dangers behind the wheel.

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