Console & Hollawell Blog
How economic improvement is killing thousands
After years of recession followed by more years of slow progress, the economy is finally looking up. Even the cost of gasoline has plummeted. That’s good news for all of us, right?
Maybe not. Thousands more people are dying on roads across the United States this year, and experts say that’s no coincidence.
The improving economy is making life better for families across the nation and around the globe – but the auto accidents linked to it are costing thousands of lives. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
Why a Better Economy Equals Thousands of Deaths
More jobs translate to more people on the road, and cheaper gas means they’re less restrictive about how much and how far they travel. Researchers at the National Safety Council believe this seemingly positive combination is at least partially behind a 14 percent spike in the number of motor vehicle deaths in the first half of 2015 alone, the Los Angeles Times reported.
There’s hard data to back up the connection. Americans drove more miles in 2015 than they had since 2007 – 1,540,000,000,000, to be exact. More time on the roads and more miles covered inevitably means we spend more time at risk – though it doesn’t mean the accidents themselves are unavoidable.
Traffic Fatalities by the Numbers
Last year, 32,675 Americans died in auto accidents. This year, we’re on track to exceed 40,000 deaths for the first time in almost a decade.
That’s not the kind of record we want to break.
Since 2007, traffic death rates have been on a pretty consistent downswing, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data shows. But this year could see rates skyrocket.
The death toll is the most dismal statistic, but others, too, show how dire the situation is. Injury rates have swelled by an alarming 30 percent compared to last year, and upwards of 2,200,000 people were severely hurt in just the first half of the year.
All told, the deaths, injuries, and property damage from traffic accidents in the first half of 2015 will cost Americans $152,000,000,000 – 24 percent more than last year.
3 Ways to Protect Yourself
More traffic may mean a greater risk, but does a better economy really lead to worse accidents?
The mere presence of additional cars on the roads doesn’t make drivers helpless. But it does mean any impairment or even the slightest distraction is more likely to have devastating consequences.
You can’t control the actions of other drivers around you. Unfortunately, there are some situations in which no amount of defensive driving measures can save you from the danger other drivers put you in. But you can take precautions to minimize your risk.
- Avoid distractions. When you’re driving, your focus should be on the act of driving – not talking, texting, reading, grooming, eating, or fiddling with the music system.By the way, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have – a distraction is still a distraction, and it’s never safe to multitask behind the wheel. Remember, you’re operating high-speed machinery that weighs in at nearly two tons – take it seriously!
- Avoid impairments. Having a couple drinks? Taking any medication, prescription or over-the-counter, that could make you drowsy? Had a few late nights? Drunk and drowsy driving are incredibly dangerous behaviors. Alcohol alone is the single biggest cause of traffic fatalities, playing a deadly part in nearly one-third of fatal accidents.
If you don’t have a designated, sober driver or if you’re too tired to continue on, stop the car. The cost of taking a cab home is way less than you’ll be on the hook for if you cause an accident that seriously hurts someone – including yourself.
- Wear a seat belt. One factor that helped drive death rates down in recent years – and, for that matter, decades – is more widespread seat belt use. A seatbelt can’t prevent a collision, but if one happens, it’s your last line of defense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving across the country or just around the block – wear the seat belt 100 percent of the time you’re on the road.
As the economy improves, it’s more important than ever that all of us on the road drive as safely as possible – otherwise, our next commute could be our last.
When a white woman wants to have a white child, and the AI clinic gets it wrong, is the mom who gets a mixed-race baby a racist if she complains?
It’s a tough question. Does this constitute “wrongful birth?” In Ohio, a lesbian couple wanted to conceive a child, and did so with the assistance of an AI clinic. The problem was that they specifically requested a child of a certain ethnic background, so that the child would look like them. What they got was very different.
Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, claims that the AI clinic gave her the wrong sperm. She and her partner wanted a child with blond hair and blue eyes. Instead, they got a mixed-race baby as a result of impregnation with the wrong donor sperm.
Payton is, by all accounts (including her parents’) a beautiful baby. But her parents live in a neighborhood that isn’t all that welcoming when it comes to racial and cultural differences. Cramblett is concerned that she and her partner are going to have to move. She says that she can’t even get her daughter’s hair cut properly, since she has hair that is typical of an African-American child. She says that she doesn’t love her daughter less because she is bi-racial, but she did ask for a white child.
So, racist or not? It’s hard to say.
Is this a couple that’s upset because their white, privileged way of life was turned topsy-turvy by the birth of a mixed-race child? Do they deserve our consideration? Or are they legitimately concerned about the problems they might incur raising a bi-racial child? If their child had been born appearing white, would they still be upset, even if the sperm had come from a black male?
This is a multi-layered lawsuit. On the one hand, you can’t just say to a lesbian couple, “Just be thankful you have a baby – in years gone by, you’d have been childless.” On the other hand, who has the right to say that one type of baby is more valuable than another? And backing up again, if you pay for a baby of a certain type, isn’t that what you should get?
It’s an ethical minefield, to be sure. We don’t have the answers. But it’s open for discussion. What do you think?
Console & Hollawell has great news! Managing Partner Richard P. Console, Jr., received a Lead Counsel Rating! Leadcounsel.org is an extremely useful resource that allows potential clients to search for attorneys that have this coveted rating.
“The Lead Counsel Rating offers consumers and businesses an objective and comprehensive evaluation tool to use when selecting legal representation,” according to Leadcounsel.org. A rated attorney must have the following three requirements:
- Professional Experience
- Peer Recommendations
- Spotless Record
When drivers in China strike pedestrians, they hit to kill. The reason why will shock you.
Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk of a busy city street when the unthinkable happens. A car strikes a fellow pedestrian – perhaps a child, a two-year-old, even. The victim cries out in pain. The car stops. But instead of calling for help, the driver does something you never could’ve imagined: runs over the victim again. And again. And again. Forward, reverse, in seemingly endless repetition until finally, the driver is sure the pedestrian is dead.
To most of us, this might sound like the act of a person who is clearly unhinged – a horrific crime, but not something that could ever become an epidemic. But in China, the hit-to-kill phenomenon has become “fairly common,” enough so that numerous such accidents have left behind incriminating video surveillance footage, according to Slate.
What’s turning these seemingly ordinary drivers into intentional murderers who don’t only mow down their victims but then repeatedly crush their corpses into the pavement? As twisted as it might sound, it could be the traffic laws – and the mind-boggling way penalties are worse for injuring someone than for killing them.
Obviously, the laws in China don’t literally encourage the slaughter of pedestrians. But the penalties, experts say, might. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
“Better to Hit to Kill Than to Hit and Injure”
In China, a driver who kills a pedestrian owes the surviving family a one-time payment “like a burial fee,” usually between just $30,000 and $50,000, Slate reported. That doesn’t say much for the value of a life, does it?
But suppose a driver in China injures a pedestrian and then does what most of us would consider the right thing – stopping the car and calling for help. The victim survives but is permanently disabled. Now the driver is on the hook for a lifetime of costly medical care. With medical expenses in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars, the expense becomes a financial burden that can ruin the lives of that driver’s family.
A No-Win Situation That Encourages a Horrible Choice
With the laws written the way they are, a driver in China who strikes a pedestrian by accident has two choices: bring a lifetime of overwhelming debt upon their family, or murder someone – often a stranger – who is already hurt. They make that choice in a moment of panic, when they don’t have the time or the composure to think clearly about what’s right and what’s wrong.
And unfortunately, too many of these drivers make the wrong choice.
It’s easy to say intentionally running another human being over (and over, and over) is sick. It’s harder, though, to argue that someone who made one mistake should impose a permanent financial hardship on their own family if there was any possible way to avoid it. Therein lays the problem –and the justification, however twisted, for these accidents-turned-murders.
Could the Hit-to-Kill Phenomenon Happen Here?
In the United States, lawyers pursue wrongful death suits every day on behalf of people killed by others’ careless actions, like pedestrians struck by cars.
Even here, the money an estate receives after a death often is less than what would be warranted if the victim had survived with permanent, debilitating injuries. But it’s still much more than the minimal compensation required by Chinese law. Estates often see hundreds of thousands – perhaps even millions – of dollars in compensation – enough to help families offset lost income and the costs of final arrangements, even though it can’t bring back their deceased loved one.
Here, it’s mostly insurance companies, not individuals, paying out these larger settlements and verdicts. American drivers aren’t personally responsible for coming up with these sums, so they never find themselves in the same position as drivers in China where they must choose between the life of a stranger and the wellbeing of their own families.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking our traffic laws in the United States are perfect. Not so long ago, Pennsylvania changed backwards laws that effectively encouraged drunk drivers to flee the scenes of accidents they caused – even if that meant leaving a helpless, gravely injured victim to die. The penalties were more severe for staying at the scene – and being found to be under the influence – than for committing a hit-and-run, as long as the driver evaded capture until the alcohol had left their system.
Of course, not every driver in China is so quick to kill pedestrians injured in accidents, just as not every drunk driver in Pennsylvania would compound their mistake by fleeing the scene of an accident. The penalties under the law may be lopsided, but there’s still the matter of morality to contend with. Fortunately, despite the shocking anecdotes of some documented hit-to-kill cases in China, most people aren’t eager to kill another human being.
Gather round, children, and let us tell you a story that may or may not be true. Can you imagine a man suing his ex-wife because she provided him with ugly children? Word has it that in China, a man by the name of Jian Feng sued his wife because she gave birth to children that he considered to be less than beautiful.
There are pictures available on the Internet. They show a beautiful woman, and a very handsome man. And of course most people would say that there is no such thing as an ugly child, but let’s just say that the children in the photos are… well… cosmetically challenged. According to most of the articles we’ve been able to find, the man actually received a judgement of $120,000 in the case.
But wait, there’s more. Jian Feng apparently was presented with these… um… oh, never mind – horribly ugly children – because he had the misfortune to reproduce with a woman who wasn’t really beautiful to begin with, and could not possibly have passed on good genetic material to children. Mrs. Jian Feng had apparently had more plastic surgery than Jocelyn Wildenstein (the Internet cat lady) or the late Michael Jackson. She wasn’t really pretty at all, and neither were her children.
Initially, Jian Feng assumed that his wife must have had an affair in order to produce such repulsive sprog. However, DNA tests proved that the children were his, and that’s when he began to suspect the plastic surgery. He claims that their first daughter was so incredibly ugly that he was “horrified.”
Now, here’s where this case gets really interesting. It might not even be true!
According to Snopes.com, this story has been circulating the Internet for eleven years, and there has never been any evidence of a court decision or a payout. Does Snopes have it right? Honestly, we don’t know. The story has been reported in papers including the New York Post, which recently posted an update. The Post acknowledges that this is an old story, but also states that there were reports of a settlement not only in English media, but on Chinese web sites.
All we can say is that there have been crazier lawsuits, so we tend to believe that the story has at least some basis in truth. Film at eleven?
We’ve got some pretty big news here at Console & Hollawell – we’re going to be in the news. Look for a feature on our own Richard J. Hollawell, firm partner, in an upcoming Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.
What’s the occasion? In recent years, our firm has handled numerous over-prescription cases – three of them against the same doctor! We resolved one case for $1,650,000 and another for $825,000. The third case is pending, but one thing is clear. When this many of a single doctor’s patients die from prescription painkiller toxicity, there’s a problem.
Look for our story in your Sunday paper soon, and check back here for more details!
This January, Denver Broncos fans were dealt a horrible blow. So was a Las Vegas gambler. However, was he victimized by a casino, or the author of his own misfortune?
California resident Mark Johnston brought suit against a Las Vegas casino because he lost $500,000 at the blackjack table on Super Bowl Weekend. The case is pending, but here are the facts:
Johnston lost $500,000 at the tables. We can’t emphasize this often enough – $500,000.
While Johnston was playing, he was more loaded than a pair of trick dice. By his own admission, he’d consumed no fewer than 20 alcoholic drinks.
Johnston gambled for 17 consecutive hours and admits to being totally intoxicated for most of that period.
Johnston was confusing his chip colors, dropping chips on the floor of the casino, and slurring his speech. He was so drunk that he couldn’t even read his cards.
Right about now, you’re saying “Well, he brought it on himself,” right? Not so according to Johnston. He maintains that the casino plied him with alcohol, and allowed him to continue playing long beyond the point where they should have just said, “Mark, go up to your room, you’re too drunk to play.”
Can his lawsuit succeed? Well, if it does, it could be a huge blow to Vegas’s gambling industry. However, it’s worth noting that the state of Nevada is entitled under law to offer free drinks to their patrons, most of whom have the good sense not to be pie-eyed falling-down drunk when they hit the tables. On the other hand, the state prohibits casinos from offering free drinks to customers who are obviously under the influence.
The Gaming Control Board in Nevada is investigating the casino in question in order to determine if they violated any regulations. So far it’s not looking good for Mark Johnston. Still, he insists on blaming the casino, saying “Just picture a drunk walking the street and he’s drunk, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him. That’s how I characterize it, I feel like it’s the days of old Vegas, the way they’ve been extorting me with letters and attorneys.”
Stay tuned. Drunk guy whining over his own stupidity? Or casino taking advantage of obviously drunk gambler? This could be interesting, and we’ll keep you posted.
First off, let’s identify the difference between libel and slander. Slander is any statement that’s made, verbally, that defames another person’s character. For that reason, slander is not usually an issue on the Internet (unless the defamatory statement is contained in a video, which is a subject for another blog). Libel is written defamation, and you can bet that it does become an issue on the Internet.
If you make a false statement about a person, and then you publish it, and cause that person harm to his or her reputation, or damage in some other way, you can be held liable. “Publishing” means simply that you have offered the information to another party. And yes, that means that if you slag someone in a blog, or in a Facebook post, and harm results to that person, you can be held legally liable.
So, what is damage? It can mean harm to a person’s reputation, loss of money, loss of business, or harm to the person’s health.
Increasingly, we rely on the Internet for communication, and the Internet is worldwide. So now, libel can mean much more than simply writing a letter to the editor of a local paper. We know, also, that the Internet is forever – people who are Googling you might never go beyond the second or third page of results, and most don’t. The issue is that they CAN, and everything you say about another person on the Internet (if not deleted) is there for all time, available to anyone who is willing to dig deep enough.
If you make a defamatory statement about another person on Facebook, you can be identified. You can’t just say “Samantha is a ****” or “Bob beats his wife” and think that no one is going to know that you’re responsible. You can, of course, tweak your privacy settings so that only certain people see your posts, but you can’t change the fact that you DID post it, it IS out there, and YOU made the statement.
So, what does a person do when they’ve been libeled on the Internet? One course of action is to contact the person and demand that they remove the offending statement. Ideally, the offending party will simply apologize and remove the post. Then, it isn’t there forever. If the person who made the post refuses, there can be remedies under law if the damage is documented and quantifiable.
So, bloggers and Facebookers, think before you post – you could be sued. And if you have been defamed on the Internet, you may have a cause for legal action.
Everyone loves video games, and you wouldn’t think that such a pleasant and harmless pastime could lead to court action, but sometimes it does. While not usually on the part of the gamer, who might actually have a cause of action for repetitive strain injury (that’s a topic for another day), but on the part of the companies that make the games, the celebrities who lend their names to them, and the people who think, sometimes erroneously, that they own the rights to the characters represented in the games. Consider these cases.
- Gate Five LLC v. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
You know her simply as Beyoncé, and might have thought of her as always having only one name. Kind of like God, Spartacus, or Cleopatra. For legal purposes, though, she is Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and Five LLC doesn’t like her very much. That’s because during the course of developing their video game featuring her, Ms. Knowles-Carter dropped out, while under contract. She claimed that Gate Five hadn’t paid her on time, so she was within her rights to bail. Gate Five disagreed and expressed great displeasure at having to lay off 70 employees and cancel the game. The suit never made it to court – both sides dismissed their claims and counterclaims.
- Nintendo v. Blockbuster
It seemed like a great idea when video game makers licensed stores to rent their games. The idea was that people would try, and then buy. The problem was that people didn’t buy, and Nintendo ended up banning rentals in Japan and later in America. Blockbuster ultimately won and was able to rent games. That didn’t help Blockbuster much, though – they went bankrupt, but Nintendo is still going.
- Universal v. Nintendo
Nintendo again, and this time it’s their venerable offering, Donkey Kong. Universal Studios thought that Donkey Kong was a rip-off of their movie, “King Kong.” The court disagreed, saying that the mere act of holding a woman captive at the top of a large building didn’t constitute copyright infringement. Universal ended up on the hook for $2,000,000 in damages, and also found that they didn’t even own the rights to the character of King Kong in the first place.
- Pac-Man v. K.C. Munchkin
Everyone remembers Pac-Man. You can play clones of the game online even today. However, back in the day, copycats were frowned on. Munchkin released a Pac-Man clone and ended up being sued by Midway and Namco, the developers of the Pac-Man game. Midway and Namco won their suit, but lost the battle with home gamers who already had the Munchkin product, and found it superior.
It’s all fun and games until there’s a lawsuit. Then, it’s extreme video game warfare!
A Good Diet May Prevent Alzheimer’s
Do you worry about aging? A good many people say “I’m not afraid of growing old; I’m afraid of losing my memory.” Of course Alzheimer’s disease is far more serious than simply “losing your memory,” but here’s the question – can this disorder be prevented?
Research seems to suggest that if you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you can stave off a lot of diseases, even Alzheimer’s. Nutrition may be the key, and in a way, it makes sense. Your muscles and organs respond favorably to a good diet. Your brain is an organ, so why wouldn’t it also respond?
You’ve no doubt heard fish described as “brain food,” and that’s not just an urban legend. Fish, especially fatty fish, contains Omega 3 acids that are believed to improve brain function. You can get Omega 3 from salmon, sardines, and tuna. If you’re not overly fond of fish, you can take a fish oil capsule to get the same benefits. Dark berries like blueberries, cranberries and raspberries are also believed to improve brain function because they’re rich in antioxidants. Soy and ginger are also beneficial.
Have a Cup of Tea!
Almost any type of tea is also antioxidant-rich. Green tea is the best, but black and red are also beneficial. And if you’re one of those people who just can’t manage without a cup of java in the morning, there’s more good news – coffee isn’t quite as rich in antioxidants as tea, but it’s still pretty powerful.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Your doctor has probably been on your case about getting enough exercise, and with good reason. The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation has conducted research that suggests that regular exercise can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping 50%!
Is It Too Late?
If you or someone you love is already experiencing cognitive deterioration, take heart. A diet that is rich in Omega 3 and antioxidants can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. And even if you’ve neglected your health, and been fairly sedentary, it’s not too late. Start eating right, and go for a walk once in a while. Keep in mind, too, that even everyday tasks like gardening or housework will provide a bit of exercise.
The Final Word
Until there’s a cure, you should take all possible measures to prevent Alzheimer’s and to slow its development. Get active, eat right and stay healthy!
To get help with your personal
Please call us at
for a free consultation
Get Help Now