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SAY NO TO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING


As the Texas legislature again readies to pass another no-texting law, Governor Perry’s office again said it will veto that law if passed. Governor Perry did last session because he believes that such a law is governmental interference in an individual’s life. He called it “micromanaging adult human behavior”. That’s odd for out state’s top elected public official to say. I though all laws were aimed at micromanaging human behavior, adults and children alike.

The problem is that Governor Perry has not driven a car on a city street or highway since December 2000. The Governor has not personally observed texting drivers in action and does not appreciate the aggravation and serious risk these idiots pose to everyone on and near the road. The Governor naively says we need to educate drivers of the dangers of distracted driving, not pass laws to prohibit it. The Governor needs a bit of that education so he can see that education has not worked, and anti-texting law is needed to curb this ever increasingly widespread and dangerous practice. The education he needs, however, is about what is happening on the streets and highways in the real world. Consider these facts from textinganddrivingsafety.com:

Texting While Driving Causes:
1. 1,600,000 accidents per year National Safety Council
2. 330,000 injuries per year“ Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
3. 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
4. Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents

Texting While Driving Is:
1. About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
2. The same as driving after 4 beers“ National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
3. The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers

Texting While Driving:
1. Makes you 23X more likely to crash National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
2. Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time VA. Tech Transportation Institute
3. Takes place by 800,000 drivers at any given time across the country
4. Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% Human Factors & Ergonomics Society
5. Leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road

The Governor uses political friendly quips and buzz words to explain himself, which include education rather than regulation is the solution for the increasingly widespread but dangerous practice, and it’s just another government effort to micromanage behavior of adults. Governor, that’s what lawmaking and laws are and are about. Laws are necessary to change the behavior of Texans so those who need changing do not injury or kill other innocent Texans. Texas already has laws that micromanage behavior of adults in cars and trucks, and here are just a few to remind you:

– Prohibiting drinking alcoholic beverages or having open containers cannot be in a car
– Requiring the use of seat belts
– Prohibiting children under 18 years of age from cannot ride in the back of a pick up on streets and highways
– Speed limit and traffic signs
– Driving a car at night without headlights and/or taillights
– Having to have a current registration and inspection sticker
– Requiring front and rear license plates

Governor, Austin and 23 other cities have banned texting while driving. Additionally, 32 states, including Texas, have prohibited novice drivers from using cell phones, and 10 states prohibit the use of cell phones by all drivers. You approved a law restricting texting in school zones. Your friend, the insurance lobby, wants the law to cut down on liability claims.

Just like your failed bid for the republican presidential nomination, you are not in the majority. Legislators and their constituents want this law. Texas needs laws like this to change bad behavior. If you want to call laws that protect Texans from others bad driving behaviors micromanaging adult behavior, so be it. It truly is time for you to get off your high, anti-government horse and do something to protect Texans from distracted drivers. Your current anti-law position is nothing more than an outlaw mentality.

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Texas Supreme Court Throws Out Clear Cut Example of Medical Negligence

How terrible for the family of Beverly Gross, to actually receive justice following her wrongful death only to have it whisked away by the Texas Supreme Court.

On February 1, the Texas Supreme Court reversed both the trial court and the court of appeals in the wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Beverly Gross. Beverly committed suicide three days after a psychiatrist declined to involuntarily hospitalize her for psychiatric care.

Both the trial jury and the court of appeals found in favor of Beverly’s family, finding that the psychiatrist committed medical negligence by deciding against hospitalization and ignoring her history of suicidal behavior and the recommendations of two other psychiatrists, one of whom had treated Beverly within the week prior to the decision to release her.

Beverly voluntarily admitted herself to a hospital after police found her disoriented and trying to hurt herself in her home when they responded to a call reporting gunshots from her house. When she asked to be released, her doctor successfully obtained a detention warrant to have her involuntarily admitted based on the continuing risk she would harm herself.

After her transfer to a state mental health facility, a staff psychiatrist named Diego Rodriguez-Escobar examined Beverly’s medical records and spoke with her for a total of 45 minutes. Based on these minimal sources of information, Rodriguez-Escobar decided she did not meet the requirements of involuntary hospitalization and released her. She committed suicide three days later, on her 53rd birthday.

The Texas Supreme Court did not hear oral arguments in this case, basing its decision solely on review of the written arguments submitted by Rodriquez-Escobar’s attorneys and the attorneys representing Beverly’s family. The Texas Supreme Court found that the Gross family’s psychiatric expert witness failed during the trial to present enough evidence that hospitalization would have lessened the chance Beverly would commit suicide.

This case presents an excellent, and chilling, example of how time-consuming and expensive wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits are. You can read more about the history of the legal battle in this Austin Statesman article. A family that files a medical malpractice case will almost always experience years of legal battles, since hospitals and doctors are more than willing to fight back“ and have the resources to do so.

Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence or malpractice of a medical malpractice should seek advice from experienced attorneys like the Texas medical malpractice team at the personal injury law firm of Bailey & Galyen. We encourage you to contact us for a no-obligation consultation if you“ or someone you know“ has questions about medical malpractice.

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HIKE AND BIKE UNTIL THE TUMORS COME HOME


Bills have been filed in the Texas legislature to create hike and bike trails in utility easements in Houston. Under this bill, the utility companies would donate their easement land to the city of Houston for this use in exchange for immunity from any and all personal injuries. But let’s be clear: The legislature is not talking about immunity from liability from injuries and death caused by the other people using the hike and bike trails.

Why wouldn t the legislature be concerned about someone being injured or killed in a utility easement by someone other than another user of the easement, you might ask? The answer is found in the easement itself. The high-voltage lines and equipment in these easements are dangerous, and those dangers include but are not limited to adverse health effects from their electromagnetic fields. There has been a lot of discussion in the scientific and medical communities about whether there is an association between these electromagnetic fields and cancer. Whether the risk is established or not, and even if it is inconclusive, why would we want to expose innocent victims to that risk while giving immunity to the power/utility companies who built and maintain those high-voltage lines? The city would build the hike and bike trails directly under these electromagnetic fields, and if it turned out that electromagnetic fields can cause cancer and the utility companies have immunity, who will compensate the innocent victims? What about the innocent men, women and children?

Tort immunity is handed out in the Texas legislature like campaign contributions, free meals, liquor and cigars. The Texas legislature’s liberally handing out immunity is the new tort reform. We now have qualified, limited or full immunity for drug manufacturers for their vaccines, the state and its cities, charitable volunteers, educators and school districts, first responders, emergency rooms, providers of private land for public recreational use, animal control agencies, food donors, transplants and transfusions, fire fighters and police, persons assisting in hazardous or dangerous situations, the use of deadly force in self defense, farm animal activities or livestock shows, donations of medical devices, volunteer health care practitioners who conduct physicals or medical screenings to determine one’s physical health and fitness to participate in a school-sponsored extracurricular or sporting activity, volunteer audiologists or speech-language pathologists, space flight activities, and rendering health care and treatment to the indigent, just to name a few.

Each and every Legislative Session the legislature is lobbied hard by special interest groups for immunity from liability, and when given, accountability only comes when the innocent victim can prove the protected wrongdoer’s act was intentional.

This 83rd Legislative Session is no different. Houston is attempting to obtain immunity for the utility companies who allow the city to build hike and bike trails in their easements, directly under their high voltage lines. That would mean immunity for the power/utility companies who built and maintain those high-voltage lines in the easement for any injury or death caused by electrocution, falling objects, a dangerous condition on the land, or by the users of the easement.

The Texas legislature needs to think about its residents and visitors instead of special interests, for a change. Immunity should rarely not freely – be handed out. Legislators needs to protect their constituents who may well become the innocent and unsuspecting victims of their back-hallway winks, nods and handshakes with the special interests lobby. Whether it’s tort immunity or damages caps, all tort reform hurts innocent victims and only benefits special interests. That is why the Texas Trial Lawyers have opposed these bills in past Legislative Sessions and now; the Texas Trial Lawyers are the only ones in Austin protecting every Texans rights to hold wrongdoers accountable.

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No Love for Workers Exposed to Silica on Valentine ™s Day

Workers™ advocates in the United States have been waiting since the George W. Bush administration for stricter standards on one of the world’s oldest known workplace dangers. Ancient Greek stone cutters knew about the risks they faced breathing in sand or rock dust. Today, almost two million Americans work in jobs that expose them to silica, which often results in silicosis, lung cancer or other serious respiratory illnesses.

Most of the information and prevention measures from this 1938 U.S. Department of Labor film on preventing silicosis are still relevant today.

Laws setting limits on how much silica workers may inhale are out of date, according to workplace safety experts. Workers advocates want the limits cut in half, but manufacturers and their lobbying organizations disagree. No surprise.

On Valentine’s Day 2011, OSHA sent a proposal for new silica exposure rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB was supposed to take 90 days to review the proposal. And yet, there sits the proposal, still at the OMB, two years later as Valentine’s Day 2013 approaches.

We agree with the director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO. Peg Seminario said, There has been incredible delay, inexcusable delay, on protecting workers against silica exposures. Seminario says the AFL-CIO and other workers groups thought they saw potential for movement during the George W. Bush administration and then grew hopeful under the Obama administration but no action has yet occurred.

Sixty workers a year die from silicosis, according to the government’s own estimates of work-related deaths. And thousands of people are newly diagnosed with silicosis or silica-related lung cancer every year. These workers can file workers compensation claims, of course, unless they are independent contractors. But even a successful workers’ compensation claim is small consolation for a stone worker who contracts a serious, often fatal, disease like silicosis.

During difficult economic times, workers often keep quiet about unsafe working conditions for fear of losing their jobs. During times like these, the government’s role as watchdog and protector of workers’ health and safety is even more important. The personal injury team at Bailey & Galyen call on the current administration to move forward these proposed new rules at a quicker pace.

If you or someone you know works with stone and is suffering respiratory illness, the most important step is to get high-quality medical care. If you then need help with a claim against the employer, Bailey & Galyen can help. We also encourage you to contact us if you know of an employer that might be violating the government’s existing limits on silica exposure.

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POINT MADE, PIERS: THEY MAY NOT BE SMART ENOUGH TO OWN AN ASSAULT RIFFLE


Piers Morgan’s interview of 5 people on CNN was aired on February 4, 2013. First, he spoke with the Katy, Texas Tactical Firearms gun shop owner, Jeremy Alcede, where the interview took place. Alcede said we needed to keep assault weapons out of the hands of the retarded. What do you say about someone who owns a gun store and sells assault riffles but does not know the difference between someone who is retarded and someone with a mental illness.

His second guest was Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot. Abbot said background checks do not work so we should not bother with it at all, and it is not the law abiding citizens who own assault riffles that we need to worry about. The last time Texans listened to this Attorney General was when he somehow differentiated and justified his personal injury suit from all of those frivolous lawsuits when a tree fell on him while he was jogging during or right after a tropical storm in an affluent, Houston neighborhood. That lawsuit netted him an 8 figure personal injury settlement. Once elected Texas Attorney General, Abbot supported tort reform to restrict other truly innocent victims from being able to redress wrongs against them. Like all tort reformers, it’s all other lawsuits that are frivolous – not theirs.

His third and fourth guests, appearing together for moral support, Texas State Senator and former and current conservative radio talks how host, Dan Patrick and Ben Fertuson, respectively. Patrick said he owns an assault riffle and needs it for self defense. Ferguson said Texans need assault riffles because they hunt hogs from helicopters and need to be able to defend themselves against Mexican drug runners and gangs. Ferguson is simply an angry zealot who thinks the military is going to come into his home and take his guns from him. He yells to make a point that he cannot make in a normal, calm tone. He yells because with little to say to make his point, he has to drown everyone else out.

Last but not least was former living-large, wild rock star guitarist, now ultraconservative, right wing, avid hunter and NRA Board Member Ted Nugent. Nugent said it is an unnecessary government intervention in his life for him to have to register his assault riffle. Nugent registers his property, his motor vehicles, airplanes and boats, his prescription medications, his concealed handguns, his annual income, his political party, his intention to vote, his availability for the draft, his hunting dogs breed, his business entities, his campaign contributions, his employees, just to name a few. He does not, however, want to have to tell the government that he has assault riffles or how many of them because that would be an intrusion to the level of bureaucracy gone mad.

It is interesting that the only person on the show who was not angry, did not raise their voice, and was not out of control was Piers Morgan, and his delivery of his message came across loud and clear. Through all of the others raised voices it was impossible to understand their message of why they are so adamantly against registering the assault riffles they currently own and restricting the sales of more assault riffles and multi-round ammunition clips. I think they are afraid the government will send the military to their house to confiscate their assault riffles. That’s not paranoia, is it?

I learned a long time ago that when one side in a discussion or debate raises their voice it is because they have very little to say.