Safety Concerns for Self-Driving Cars in Houston

self-driving-car

How do you feel about self-driving cars? Are you excited by the thought of getting in a vehicle and letting the autonomous system chauffeur you to your destination, or are you terrified by the prospect of surrendering control to a self-driving vehicle?

Both mindsets are justified. In fact, many of you are probably of two minds about self-driving vehicles, and for good reason. Advocates of autonomous vehicles tell us that self-driving cars could virtually eliminate traffic deaths. Critics point out that these technologies aren’t ready for public use, and they caution companies against making them available before they thoroughly test them.

Whether you’re hesitant or eager, self-driving cars are coming to a road near you. Many Texas cities, including Houston, plan to work with research institutes to test self-driving cars on our roads. Uber has already launched test runs in cities like Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

Companies from Tesla to Google to Uber are racing to be first in the autonomous vehicle frontier. This competition is key to speeding up technological advances, but it might also present some problems if the competitors act hastily in releasing their new vehicles.

This is precisely what critics of Tesla fear happened with the company’s Autopilot system, which was at the center of the controversy surrounding a Florida driver’s death. A system like Tesla’s Autopilot has autonomous features, but a driver might still need to take over in certain situations. It’s not clear whether the driver, killed in Florida, wasn’t prepared to take control of the vehicle, or if the Autopilot system didn’t do its job.

Safety Concerns in Increasingly Autonomous Vehicles

Even vehicles that have autonomous features will require some driver involvement. That means that drivers need to know how to work with the autonomous vehicle, but it is not entirely clear who will be responsible for this training. Dealerships, for example, are currently selling vehicles with plenty of autonomous features, but many don’t possess the knowledge to explain to buyers how they work.

Autonomous vehicles also present some other safety concerns. For example, self-driving cars aren’t yet sophisticated enough to make certain subtle distinctions that human drivers make with ease. Uber announced last year that they were working to fix a programming flaw that caused cars to cross biking lanes in a way that posed a threat to cyclists.

Self-driving cars still have a long way to go in being able to deal with other circumstances, including unpredictable human behavior on roads, detours, weather conditions that make road lanes invisible, and situations that call for spontaneous decision making.

Time Will Tell if Companies Can Address These Concerns

Many of these concerns might be addressed as the feature’s programming becomes more advanced, but that could require a special effort by the companies working on autonomous vehicles. To make sure that these vehicles are as safe as possible, it is in the public’s best interest for companies to share their research. This is something that they might not be willing to do unless convinced, or forced, by the government.

In the months and years ahead, be prepared to hear much more about these issues. Self-driving technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and there is a big push at both the consumer and professional levels to make autonomous vehicles a reality. In other words – ready or not, here they come.

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Observing Burn Injury Awareness Week

burn-injury

Every 2 hours and 41 minutes, someone dies in a fire in the United States. Most of these deaths, along with many more burn-related injuries, occur in the home. Burn injuries are incredibly painful, expensive, and debilitating. They are often preventable.

Burn Injury Awareness Week is observed during the first full week of February, which means that this year it takes place from February 5th to February 11th. It’s a great opportunity to make sure that your homes and workplaces are as safe as possible.

How Common are Burns?

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • In 2015, there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States.
  • Fire departments responded to a fire every 23 seconds.
  • 3,280 civilians died in fires or from smoke inhalation.
  • 15,700 civilians suffered burn injuries in these fires.

Burns aren’t just caused by exposure to fire and smoke inhalation. They are also caused by exposure to hot liquids. In fact, over 500,000 scald burns happen every year in the U.S. Scalding is the leading cause of burn injuries for children under the age of four.

How Burns Happen

Burns happen for several reasons, including kitchen fires, cigarette-related fires, faulty electrical wiring, and scalding.

Kitchen Fires: Cooking equipment is the leading cause of residential fires. Home cooking fires often start on ranges and cooktops. Many of these fires begin while someone is frying food.

Smoking-related fires: Cigarettes and smoking materials cause around 90,000 fires in the United States every year. These fires often start because a cigarette is placed in the trash or falls on furniture, such as a mattress or other type of bedding.

Electrical fires: Home electrical fires account for roughly 13% of structure fires in the U.S. Any device powered by electricity carries the potential to start a fire if it is faulty or malfunctioning. Wiring and wiring-related equipment are listed as causes in over 60% of electrical fires.

Scald burns: Scalding injuries are typically due to kitchen-related accidents or water heaters that are set too high. A hot water heater’s thermostat should be set at 120 degrees or lower. Children and older adults are most vulnerable to scalding injuries.

Burn Prevention Tips

Nearly all causes of burns can be prevented by taking the proper precautions.

To prevent home fires:

  • Make sure all smoke detectors in your home are functioning properly.
  • If there are cigarette or cigar smokers in the house, make sure that they smoke in designated areas or, if possible, outside the home. Always dispose of cigarettes in a designated fire-proof bin.
  • Have a property’s electrical wiring regularly inspected for fire-hazards.
  • Have an escape plan for you and your family in the event of a fire.

To prevent scalding injuries:

  • Designate a “no-go” zone around ovens, stoves, grills, or anywhere else that you will be cooking. Remind children not to enter that area when you are cooking.
  • Check the temperature set on your water heater’s thermostat. It is not uncommon for injuries to occur because of hot water from a faucet.
  • Consider installing anti-scalding devices on shower heads and faucets.

Fire safety awareness can prevent almost every home fire. If you live in a rental home or apartment building, don’t be afraid to talk to your landlord or property management about any concerns you have. It is their responsibility to respond to your concerns.

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Staying Safe at The Big Game 51 – at NRG and at Home

Houston Stadium Safety

It’s exciting to be at the center of the sports world. Houston is brimming with anticipation as we prepare to host our third Big Game. Football fans from around the country, along with some from around the globe, are filling our city to witness the biggest event in American sports.

Attending a Big Game is an incredible experience, one that comes at a steep price. CBS Sports recently reported that the average cost of a ticket to the Big Game 51 is $4,744. In fact, the largest ticket price recorded for this year’s Big Game is nearly $75,000.

For many football lovers, the price they pay for the ticket is well worth it. But to have the best experience possible, it’s best to be prepared. If you are attending the Big Game 51, you likely have your tickets, lodging and travel lined up. However, you might be asking yourself if there is anything you should keep in mind when it comes to safety.

Safety concerns are completely warranted at any sporting event, especially at an event as massive as the Big Game. To help make sure that your gridiron experience is as safe as possible, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Take These Precautions When Attending the Big Game 51

  • If you are attending the game with a child, always keep them in sight and designate a spot to meet up in case you are separated.
  • If you are attending the game with an older adult with a medical condition, make sure they have any necessary medications on hand and help them as they walk up steps.
  • Be mindful of slick areas or steep flights of stairs, both of which could present a fall risk.
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, remember that you’ll be safer if you drink in moderation. Always arrange transportation ahead of time when drinking at a game.
  • Make note of where emergency services are located at NRG Stadium. You never know when you or another fan might need assistance, and knowing where to go before an emergency arises can make all the difference.
  • Familiarize yourself with NRG Stadium’s layout before you go to the game. This map will help you navigate the stadium, along with locations of any emergency services.

To learn more about what to expect when attending the Big Game 51, check out these resources:

Safety Tips for Big Game Parties

Even if you don’t have tickets to the Big Game, you can still take steps to ensure that your Big Game party is safer for everyone. Perhaps the two biggest concerns surrounding these parties are drunk driving and food poisoning. You can avoid both by:

  • Making sure that you arrange transportation for any partygoers who are drinking alcohol.
  • Offering non-alcoholic options for those who will be driving.
  • Cutting off alcoholic beverages well before the party is over.
  • Keeping all food at a safe temperature. Here’s a food safety guide from the CDC to learn more.
  • Thoroughly washing your hands before handling food.

From diehard fans to casual viewers, the Big Game is the perfect chance to enjoy football with loved ones. We can’t wait for kickoff, and we hope you have a great time watching the game, whether you’ll be at home or in the stands. Game on!

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Department of Labor Website to Claim Unpaid Overtime Pay

overtime

Have you worked more than 40 hours in a week without paid overtime by your employer?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), first enacted in 1938, establishes overtime pay, minimum wage, recordkeeping and child labor standards affecting all workers – full-time and part-time – in the private sector as well as in federal, state, and local governments.

In general, unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for those hours worked that exceed 40 in a work week. That overtime pay will not be less than time and one-half of their regular pay. The Act does not mandate overtime pay for weekend or holiday work unless overtime hours are worked on those days.

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hours Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing our nation’s labor laws. After investigating violations, unpaid wages on behalf of U.S. employees are often recovered.

If you believe that you or a family member may be owed back wages that have been collected by WHD, search our database beginning with the employer’s name. You can submit a claim if you find that you are due money.

Please call us now at 800-444-5000 to explore other legal remedies.

If you or any family member has been injured by an auto accident or any other type of personal injury, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately.  Call 800-444-5000 for your initial free consultation. The Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law Firm, personal injury attorney in Houston, can help you determine whether you need a lawyer for any incident or any personal injury case.

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Get Ready Houston: The Big Game Is Coming to Town!

big-game

Even if you’re not much of a football fan, we’re sure that you know that Houston is hosting the 51st Big Game on Sunday, February 5.

It’s been 13 years since our city 38th Big Game in 2004 and we’ve seen many changes in this short time. Social media will now be the #1 vehicle for viewers to share their experiences. And our 10-day live festival will lure more than 1 million fans with free concerts, local culinary experiences, and fan games.

Know Before You Go

All these activities will significantly impact downtown Houston and surrounding businesses. Here’s what to expect as football fever comes to town, courtesy of the Houston Big Game Host Committee:

– Check out parking availability in advance. You can even pay in advance.

– Organizers encourage fans to park on the west side of downtown and ride the Mass Transit to their event.

– Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination due to event-specific detours and road closures.

METRO transportation will have extended event schedules and additional routes and shuttles.

– Uber and taxis will be available 24/7 for all event areas.

– Big Game LIVE will offer valet service to store your bicycle.

– Big Game ticketholders are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Game Day Fan Plaza.

Don’t Drink and Drive

Houston is gearing up to entertain thousands of visitors as well as residents and their guests. With more than 10,000 restaurants and bars in the Houston area, there will be plenty of opportunities to party and celebrate your favorite team.

But don’t make the mistake of drinking and driving! Big Game Sunday is one of the biggest drinking days of the year. However, you can enjoy Super Bowl events safely and avoid auto accidents even while drinking alcohol:

  • Select a reliable designated driver who drinks no alcohol at all.
  • Take public transportation.
  • Call a taxi or Uber driver for door-to-door service.
  • Book a hotel room or stay at a friend’s for the night.

If you’re hosting a Big Game party, hold your guests’ keys and don’t release them to anyone who has had too much to drink. Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages too.

Don’t let Big Game 51 be a tragic event – drive safely and sober!

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Put Safety First When Shopping for the Holidays

 

toys teddy bear

With holiday shopping in full swing, toys are often at the top of everyone’s shopping list. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games. In 2014, there were more than 251,000 toy-related injuries that required emergency room treatment (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission).

To keep child safety top of mind when shopping for toys:

  • Always follow the age recommendation on packages to be sure the gift is age-appropriate.
  • Never allow babies and toddlers to play with toys that have small parts that present a choking hazard.
  • Stay away from second-hand toys as they may not meet current safety standards and people often acquire them without packaging or other literature that contains the age recommendation, safety warnings, or critical instructions.
  • Look for a “UL Approved” label on electric toys.
  • Watch age ratings on video games and DVDs.
  • Purchase only non-toxic art materials.

Do your research before you hit the toy store. You can find more toy safety tips at kidshealth.org. You can also sign up for email recall updates for the CPSC and other safety agencies here.

Tips To Avoid Holiday Scams

The holidays bring out the best in most of us but they can bring out the worst in criminals. Beware of common scams that can result in loss of your assets as well as your identity:

  • Bogus online shopping sites that look like the real thing but have deals that are far too good to be true. Check carefully that you’ve reached a legitimate retailer.
  • Gift card fraud. Buy only from reputable dealers and check the balance when purchasing.
  • Phony charities. Verify the organization via CharityNavigator.com or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Don’t shop or bank via public Wi-Fi.
  • Hide your purchases. Lock packages in your trunk or covered area. Put out cardboard for recycling only on collection day.
  • Don’t put your travel plans on social media.

Contact the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s FTC Complaint Assistant if you’ve been the victim of a scam or identity theft.

If you or any family member has been injured by a defective product or any other type of personal injury, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800-444-5000 for your initial free consultation.  Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help you determine whether you need a lawyer for any situation involving personal injury or death.

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Stryker Hip Implants Causing Severe Health Issues

 

stryker hip

Did you or a family member have a metal-on-metal hip implant during or after 2002?

If so, you are at risk of having your implant fail – if you have not already had serious issues, and potentially corrective surgery. The risk of failure of these metal-on-metal implants may be as high at 25% and effects more than 200,000 implant recipients.

What Are the Problems with the Stryker Hip Implants?

Stryker® Orthopaedics, the manufacturer of these devices, issued a safety letter in late September to physicians warning them that the metal V40 femoral heads are causing premature revision surgeries. A hip revision surgery, or re-operation, is necessary when there is a mechanical or biological failure of the implant.

If the head portion of the implant is made of metal-on-metal, such as cobalt chromium (CoCr), there is a risk of injury to the patient from wear and corrosion of the metal. When the metal components of the implant rub together, cobalt and chromium ions are released into nearby tissues and the blood stream. Excessive levels of these metals can cause metallosis which can lead to serious medical issues including thyroid, nerve, or heart problems, or even deafness.

Another problem due to the excessive metal corrosion is head dissociation, where the head portion actually separates from the rest of the implant. The head loses its stability because it no longer fits on the taper portion due to metal wear and tear.

Note that implants with ceramic heads are not subject to the warning. The use of a ceramic head in an implant should result in less wear on the components and also should improve implant performance.

Take Action if You Have Had a Hip Implant During or After 2002

If your hip replacement was during or after 2002 and was made of CoCr, you should call your surgeon immediately if you have any swelling or pain in your hip. These symptoms may indicate that your implant is defective and you may have to undergo a major hip revision surgery.

Even if you have not yet noticed any issues that you associate with your replacement hip, check with your surgeon to help identify the type of implant that you received.

If you or a family member has a metal-on-metal hip implant, even if manufactured by another company, we encourage you to seek legal advice. Please share your experience with us and we can explore getting you the compensation that you deserve.

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How To Handle A Car Accident & The Steps To Follow

Knowing how to handle a car accident is important for every driver, regardless of age or experience. There are far more automobiles on the road than ever before, and unfortunately, serious auto incidents occur with great regularity. While most of these incidents often result in minor injuries, fatalities are far too frequent. For example, for the year 2014, the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics recorded more than 32,000 vehicle fatalities.

Knowing how to handle a car accident can make a big difference, not only for one’s safety but also for subsequent legal action. If involved in an automobile incident, it’s important to follow these steps:

  • Get Help: When an accident occurs, call 911 to get help from emergency services. The sooner emergency services are notified, the sooner help can arrive. This is particularly important when any injuries are visible (but make no assumptions about injuries).
  • Get Out of the Way: If possible, move vehicles to the shoulder of the road. This is important for the safety of everyone at the scene and any oncoming traffic. If this isn’t possible, turn on hazard lights to provide additional warning for motorists.
  • Do Not Admit Responsibility and Do Not Leave the Scene: Discussing responsibility at the scene is inappropriate and can yield false conclusions. As a result, it’s imperative to avoid the discussion of responsibility at the scene. Additionally, do not leave the scene—wait for emergency services to arrive.
  • Record Everything: Record names and contact information of anyone involved and from anyone who witnessed the wreck. Ask police about where to obtain police reports. Photograph the scene, injuries, and any damages.
  • Consider Legal Assistance: Finally, consider contacting a legal professional who knows how to handle a car accident case to discuss any and all legal options.
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Accidents In Houston Caused By A Drunk Driver Happen All Too Often

When you live in a very populous city like Houston, the chances of a drunk driver causing you or your family harm or injury is far greater than those that live in smaller cities. With over two million people in the city of Houston, the sheer number of drivers on the road is a concern. Add in the fact that Harris County typically leads the state of Texas in accidents caused by inebriated drivers and you’ve got a scary situation on your hands.

While the main concern regarding drunk drivers is death, the injuries that are typically sustained by survivors of these types of accidents are incredibly debilitating and often permanent. Traumatic brain injuries due to head trauma are very common in accidents caused by someone driving under the influence. Spinal cord injuries are common as well, and they can cause paralysis. Head-on collisions, side swiping, and T-bone collisions are common with drunken drivers. This puts the driver and passengers of the other vehicles on the road at incredible risk for head and/or spinal cord trauma. In addition, damage to the legs and knees are common in accidents involving alcohol. Permanent ligament or tendon damage could mean victims may never walk normally again. Internal injury to vital organs is another common occurrence.

When living in a big city like Houston, a drunk driver could be on the road with you at any time. It’s important to know the risks associated with driving on major metropolitan roads and to drive defensively to avoid injury or death.

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What Cases Can A Medical Injury Lawyer Help Victims With?

When medical malpractice occurs, it may be time to consult with an experienced medical injury lawyer. These types of cases can be complex and complicated, often involving well-funded hospitals with legal teams prepared to do whatever possible to not admit responsibility, no matter how cut and dry a case may appear to be. Having a medical injury lawyer with the experience and skill set necessary for these cases is crucial for helping a victim get the justice he or she deserves.

A patient’s trust is generally well-placed in physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, that trust is all too often unwarranted in cases of malpractice by healthcare professionals. Such incidents are in fact extremely common in the U.S. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that medical malpractice is the third highest cause of death in the U.S. That’s a rather startling statistic.

Malpractice of this type can be categorized into four broad categories:

  • Misdiagnosis: Misdiagnosis is the single most common type of physician error. And it’s not hard to see why: not every patient’s symptoms conforms to the textbook descriptions. Misdiagnosis can make a bad situation much worse for a patient, and like all other items on this list, it can even lead to death.
  • Obstetric/Gynecological Negligence: A lot can go wrong during childbirth, and potential harm or kill both mother and child.
  • Surgical Error: As with childbirth, surgery can easily lead to serious complications. When those complications are due to negligence, a patient deserves justice.
  • Mistakes in Drug Prescription and Administration: Prescription errors and drug administration mistakes are far too common today. From pharmacies to nurses and doctors, drug prescription mistakes can have serious consequences. When a victim suspects negligence, it’s important to consider contacting a medical injury lawyer as soon as possible.
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