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Criss & Rousseau Legal Issues Blog

About 200,000 Americans die each year because of medical errors

Texas residents may be interested in learning about the statistics regarding medical errors and the progress that is being made. According to the U.S. government, medical errors that could be prevented potentially take the lives of more than 200,000 Americans every year.

A report that was released from the Institute of Medicine about 20 years ago made the claim that medical errors are more dangerous than auto accidents, AIDS and breast cancer. This sparked public furor, prompted new laws and caused responsible organizations to take steps to reduce medical errors.

Distracted drivers pose a risk on the road

Distracted driving is a problem that endangers many people on Texas roads. Some automakers have seen the risk distracted driving creates and have begun working on tools that include a mixture of artificial intelligence and visual monitoring systems in order to minimize the sad consequences that distracted driving may cause. There is a concern that if automakers are successful in creating a system that lowers accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving, the automakers may become required by law to provide the system in their vehicles.

Distracted driving is not something that can be ignored. Statistics show that every single day, at least nine people in the United States die, and there are around 100 injuries every day because someone is driving distracted. There are more sources for distraction now than in years past. Many automobiles come equipped with touchscreens on the dashboard that only add to the safety threat.

People may not be as objective as they think

Judges in Texas and other states may use their intuition when making a decision in a legal matter. In some cases, this is because they believe in their ability to make objective decisions. However, their rulings may also be based on unconscious biases. These are biases that a person may not be aware of when making a decision or forming an opinion. While judges typically don't try to be unfair to an individual, certain groups are treated better than others.

For instance, research has shown that black defendants are more likely to be sentenced to death. Black defendants are also more likely to be sentenced to longer jail or prison terms than other individuals who are convicted of similar crimes. Research has also shown that those who are confident in their ability to be objective may be more likely to act in ways that agree with their own worldview.

What are the standards of care in medicine?

Medical care must be up to certain standards to keep patients safe. The problem is that the standards can change based on the situation. Patients who don't receive appropriate care can suffer great harm, but it is sometimes difficult to prove that substandard care is what caused the suffering.

Taking a look at the case can help individuals to determine whether they did receive the care they should have. If it is determined that you didn't get the necessary care, you might opt to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The problems with community service sentencing

For some people in Texas, community service sentencing seems to provide an alternative to harsh jail time or hefty fines that many criminal defendants cannot afford. Community service is often touted as a humane alternative that poses fewer restrictions for people convicted of smaller offenses, often misdemeanors. However, a study by UCLA's Labor Center and School of Law indicates that community service sentencing can also exacerbate some of the existing problems of the criminal justice system, especially for people with low incomes and communities of color. The study examined 5,000 cases between 2013 and 2014 when people were sentenced to community service.

During the period studied, people were ordered to perform 8 million hours of labor as community service. This is the equivalent of 4,900 paid employees' work. At the same time, government agencies received 3 million labor hours, equal to the work of 1,800 people. The study points out structural problems with this reliance on people convicted of crimes to perform a significant amount of labor. Government agencies are less likely to hire people to fulfill these functions, leading to more unemployment and fewer opportunities. The need for this labor could also encourage more criminal prosecution and sentencing in cases that might otherwise have been dismissed.

Study finds more people detained, convicted

Texas residents who are detained and convicted of even minor crimes may find a reduction in their earnings over a lifetime. According to a study that appeared in Crime and Delinquency, even though overall crime is on the decline, young people today are more likely to be taken into custody and convicted than in previous generations.

One reason for this rise is an increase in the number of people detained and convicted for minor offenses. More than 10% of women detained and 16% of men are charged with underage drinking. Furthermore, while black men remain the demographic most likely to be charged, convicted and incarcerated, women and white men are catching up to them. Rates for women being taken into custody have risen from one in 100 to one in seven. The rate for white man is three times higher than in the past.

Felony convictions can accompany excessively broad laws

Many people in Texas and across the United States are concerned about excessive criminalization and the involvement of too many people in the criminal justice system. Some have drawn attention to absurd or overreaching laws that remain on the books that can lead to a felony conviction. For example, an athlete who went for a snowmobile ride was then lost in a blizzard, racking up costs to the government to find and rescue him. However, he wasn't just hit with a large bill; instead, he was convicted of a federal criminal offense and sentenced to six months in prison.

In another case, a security contractor was convicted for telling customers of a company that he previously worked for about a breach in the company's security system. He was convicted and served a 16-month sentence for "impairing the integrity" of the system for exposing the security hole. While his conviction was later abandoned by the Justice Department following high-profile outrage, it continues to serve as an example of the potential for overzealous felony prosecutions. People convicted of felonies can be subject to heavy fines and jail or prison time. Even more, they can lose opportunities for housing, work and education, and in some cases, they are denied the right to vote.

Difficulties faced by the executors of loved ones' estates

If a financially comfortable loved one has died, then there will be some time-consuming tasks for the executor to take on. Residents of Texas who decide to administer the estate rather than hire a professional executor should be aware of what some of these tasks are. The basic steps are identifying assets, paying off debts and distributing the estate to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. There are also taxes to deal with.

Executors must, first of all, determine if the estate will have to go through probate. The court costs and attorney fees will be taken from the estate, and the court may distribute the estate in ways that the heirs may not have desired. This is why many place their most valuable assets in trusts.

3 good reasons for an estate to go through probate

When most people plan their estate, the primary concern is often avoiding probate court. However, for heirs and beneficiaries, as well as people planning their estate, it's important to understand that probate court can have some benefits.

Probate involves a professional, experienced judge reviewing the case and ensuring that the allocation of assets and debts complies with Texas law and follows the wishes of the testator. There are three distinct benefits to going through probate instead of avoiding it, particularly with a complicated estate with a variety of valuable assets.

How medical malpractice may occur

The type of medical malpractice many people in Texas may be most familiar errors is surgical errors. Such mistakes as surgery on the wrong person or part of the body are rare but tend to get a lot of attention when they happen. However, there are many other types of medical malpractice that are more common.

A misdiagnosis or a lack of a diagnosis is one common type of medical malpractice. For this to rise to the level of malpractice, it must be demonstrated that the patient did not receive a reasonable standard of care from the doctor, meaning that misdiagnoses may happen that are not necessarily malpractice. Medication errors are another common mistake. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million people in the United States are harmed each year by medication mistakes. These are most common when a person has several health care providers or because of communication issues. Mistakes can happen at any point, including during ordering, preparing or prescribing. They may involve the wrong dosage or the wrong medication altogether.

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