Edwards & Kautz
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Paducah Legal Issues Blog

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits

The Social Security Administration pays benefits to qualified individuals in Kentucky and around the country who have been unable to work for valid reasons for a year or more. In order to qualify, an applicant's occupation must first be a job covered by Social Security. Also, the resulting medical issue must meet the SSA's definition of what's considered a disability. The basic goal is to help individuals transition back to work whenever possible.

Applicants must have worked long enough and recent enough to receive benefits. Work credits are based on yearly wages or income earned by self-employment. Also, applicants must be unable to do the work they did previously and have a disability expected to last a year or more or result in death. The process begins when an individual seeking benefits sends an application to a Disability Determination Services office. The condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.

OSHA publishes guide to prevent tractor rollovers

Every year in Kentucky and other states, farmers are seriously injured or even killed when tractors roll over. In order to reduce injuries and deaths, OSHA has released a guide that's designed to both help prevent these rollovers and reduce harm when they do occur. The guide advises that all tractors be equipped with a roll bar or a cage frame for the tractor operator. OSHA says that these protective features greatly reduce the incidence of injury and death.

In addition to protective features, OSHA advises all tractor operators to follow a few safety rules to reduce the chances of injury and death. First, operators should always fasten seat belts securely and avoid transporting any passengers. When approaching ditches, steep grades or sharp turns, operators should slow down significantly. Tractors that are stopped should have their brakes set and locked if there is a lock available.

Tips for pedestrians avoiding distracted drivers

Anyone choosing to travel on foot is vulnerable to multiple outdoor elements. Not only can the weather impair visibility, but there are often many sounds and distractions everywhere. Pedestrians must practice defensive walking while commuting.

Defensive walking is understanding that if an accident was to occur, the person walking would most likely suffer the greatest damages. Therefore, it is the one on-foot who must be alert and defensive to your own safety and well-being.

Stressed surgeons more likely to make mistakes

When Kentucky surgeons face stress on the job, the potential consequences may be troubling for their patients. According to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University, surgeons make up to 66 percent more errors during stressful moments. The researchers used a technology to track the electrical activity of a surgeon's heart while performing procedures in the operating room. During periods of stress, surgeons were more likely to make errors. Some of these mistakes may cause tears to tissue, burns or bleeding in the patient.

The stress involved does not need to be major in order to lead to increased surgical errors, researchers found. Some of the issues could be as simple as negative thoughts or loud noises in the operating room. Every year, between 250,000 and 440,000 people lose their lives due to medical mistakes across the country. Some of the most significant errors can occur during surgery, and the consequences of these mistakes can be significant and long-lasting. Improved strategies to manage surgical stress could help to save lives and prevent injuries to patients.

What to do to avoid drowsy driving

It is not a good idea to drive on Kentucky roadways when sleep-deprived. Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. According to a Consumer Reports study, prescription sleep aids could be contributing to the problem. Of 1,767 people surveyed, roughly 20 percent said that they drove within seven hours of taking them.

Generally speaking, an adult needs seven hours of sleep each night. Those who get that much sleep each night and are still tired could have a medical issue. Other signs of a potential medical issue include waking up at night and snoring. Proper sleep can be especially important for those who are planning on spending many hours behind the wheel. Ideally, a person will take a break after driving for two hours.

How misdemeanor cases influence the justice system in Kentucky

According to one researcher, there are 13 million misdemeanor cases each year that pass through U.S. courts. With so many cases to deal with, judges and prosecutors put pressure on public defenders to resolve them as soon as possible. In many cases, the defendants are black or poor. Statistics show that white people are 75 percent more likely to have charges that could result in jail time dismissed or reduced.

The justice system can be expensive for those who don't have a lot of money. For instance, it may be necessary to pay for drug tests, supervision or DNA tests. Defendants may also be unable to make bail, which results in waiting several days in jail before being able to see a judge. Fines and other costs could also be difficult to pay.

Study links patient record oversights to pediatric safety errors

A parent seeking medical care for their child in Kentucky should be able to assume that health care professionals will do everything possible to avoid oversights and mistakes. Still, there are times when human error contributes to patient safety risks. Surprisingly, a new study has found that half of all pediatric safety errors are actually attributable to electronic health record (EHR) oversights. The study is based on a review of nearly 10,000 patient safety reports over a five year period.

Researchers found that medication errors, which can sometimes be considered a type of medical malpractice, related to EHR usability were largely related to discrepancies in feedback generated by the system and what was actually appropriate for the patient -- e.g., failing to display alerts if a patient happened to be allergic to a prescribed medication. The study's lead author also notes that EHR display screen clutter may be what's contributing to some of the issues with failing to add certain patient details.

Workplace fatalities decline in 2017

Employees in Kentucky may be pleased to learn that even as the overall workforce grew in 2017, workplace deaths actually went down. Overall, the fatal workplace injury rate fell to 3.5 percent in 2017 from 3.6 percent in 2016, according to a report released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Responding to the report, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration official praised the progress but emphasized that workplace fatalities are still a serious concern. He also said that OSHA is committed to protecting workplace safety through educational efforts for employers and workers as well as enforcement and compliance efforts.

In addition to the decline in workplace fatalities, several particular types of serious accidents also declined in 2017. The year saw the fewest number of deaths associated with crane-related workplace accidents since these statistics were first issued in 1992. However, there were serious concerns in other industries. More workers lost their lives on the job in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas industries. In addition, more workers aged 65 and older died on the job in 2017, and additional employees lost their lives due to slip-and-fall accidents.

The most common causes behind DUI crash deaths

Excessive alcohol consumption can impair a driver's reaction time, depth perception and peripheral vision, all of which increase the risk for an auto accident. Many drunk driving crashes in Kentucky are fatal. In fact, about one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the country are DUI crash deaths. Drivers under 24 and motorcyclists are among those most susceptible to drunk driving crashes.

Also at high risk are those with prior DUI convictions and those who mix alcohol with drugs or medications. Young drivers, however, are at the most risk because they are inexperienced. Furthermore, they tend to travel in groups that cause distractions. An older adult with the same blood alcohol concentration as a younger adult is actually safer. It should be remembered the 0.08 percent is the legal limit in most states.

Photos after an accident are important, here is what to do

Those minutes and even hours after a car accident can be daunting. One moment you were driving and trying to stay on a schedule and the next you are looking at your damaged car and wondering if you are physically okay. This can be a stressful time, besides checking in with the other driver, you may be worried about other passengers and dealing with people coming to your aid. On top of all of that, you need to speak to the police, the tow truck driver, your insurance agent and possibly medical personal.

During all this chaos, one very important may item may slip your mind, documenting the scene with photo evidence. The good news is that most everyone has a camera in their pocket or purse. In the past, it may have been difficult to document the scene of the crash with pictures, but now most everyone can use the camera on their phone.

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Edwards & Kautz

Edwards & Kautz
222 Walter Jetton Blvd
Paducah, KY 42003

Phone: 270-908-4914
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