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Massachusetts Personal Injury And Workers' Compensation Blog

Study: Voice-activated devices can be distracting

New technology has made it possible for drivers to operate certain functions in their vehicles by simply speaking commands. Voice-activated technology is designed to minimize manual and visual distractions by allowing drivers to perform certain tasks, such as changing the radio station, making phone calls and composing texts, by speaking. Many manufacturers have incorporated this technology into their vehicles. While voice-activated devices help to reduce manual and visual distractions, however, researchers looked into whether it helps with cognitive workload

In the study released by AAA, researchers asked participants to drive through a closed course while performing certain tasks using voice-activated technology. Six systems were tested in all. While drivers were engaged in the tasks, researchers measured their cognitive workload by observing reaction times, brain activity and heart rate. They also asked participants how distracted they felt while completing the study. The results showed the even while drivers could keep their hands on the steering wheel to initiate and complete tasks, their focus was taken off driving and the road. This, in turn, causes delayed reaction times and makes it difficult for drivers to respond to other hazards, such as objects in the road, bad weather conditions, other drivers, stop lights and pedestrian crosswalks. 

Are hands-free cellphones safe to use while driving?

Although it is still legal for you to talk and text on a hand-hand cellphone while driving in Massachusetts, these acts are prohibited in many other states. At least 20 states in the nation have banned drivers from using hand-held devices because they contribute to catastrophic car accidents. In 2017 alone, more than 3,166 people were killed and even more were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. As a result, many people have started using hands-free cellphones to lessen the distraction and help them focus on the road. Yet, studies show that even hands-free devices cause a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which could also lead to an accident. 

The study, published by AAA, looked at the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experienced when they engaged in certain activities, including the following:

Teen drivers and motor vehicle accidents

When teens in Massachusetts pass their road tests, they are very excited about the independence a driver’s license imparts to them. However, with that privilege also comes an enormous amount of responsibility. It is important that parents or guardians of young drivers have frequent and serious discussions with them about the best way to prevent motor vehicle accidents.

The New York Times notes that parents should model good driving behavior for their teens years before they start learning to drive. When adults consistently follow the rules of the road, including driving within the speed limit, children are able to observe the best practices for operating an automobile. Also, these behaviors need to include refraining from using a mobile device, wearing a seatbelt at all times, and never using substances such as drugs or alcohol before driving. 

Pit bull owners in denial over risk of dog bites, injuries

Pet owners often have deep connections with their four-legged friends. After all, as the old saying goes, dogs are man's best friend. While a dog might certainly be his or her owner's best friend, that same rule does not always apply to other people. Unfortunately, pet owners can be biased towards their own dogs and ignore the risk of dog bites.

Dog bites are not as rare as some people in Massachusetts might think. Every year, dogs bite millions of people. Some of society's most vulnerable individuals are also most at risk when it comes to dog bites.

Trust matters in an injury case

Here at Ellis Law Offices, LLP, we know that our clients' needs are the beginning and the end of what we do as personal injury and workers' compensation lawyers. We engage in constant study of the law, keeping up to date on procedure and statutory changes, but our first priority is always to support our clients as they navigate the Massachusetts legal system. 

One of our first steps when we meet a new client is to try and understand the story behind the legal issue. To us, representing somebody is about more than simply providing the investigation, counseling and opinions that lead to the best possible outcome for their case. It is also about trust.

Fireworks and traffic accidents

Over Memorial Day weekend, some people celebrated the holiday by getting together with family members, barbecuing and lighting off fireworks. Firework usage across the country will increase in the coming weeks as many people celebrate the Fourth of July. Fireworks, both those that are used legally and illegally, can present a number of dangers. In some instances, a firework may even lead to a traffic collision and there are a number of risk factors for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to be aware of during these holidays.

For starters, a firework may cause a driver to become startled behind the wheel, which could cause them to hit another vehicle or swerve off the road. This is certainly not the only way in which firework activity could cause an accident, however. Some people may not be paying attention to the road while they are lighting fireworks, which can be especially dangerous at night and may result in a pedestrian accident. Moreover, a driver may even be hit by firework debris while they are on the road.

Understanding the scope of your workers' compensation policy

When you are going through the process of being recruited for a new job in Massachusetts, you will spend as much time interviewing your potential employer as they will spend interviewing you. One of the areas that you should ask about is how their workers' compensation policy works. Once hired, a good employer will spend considerable time making sure you understand your rights in the event you are injured on the job. At Ellis Law Offices LLP, we have been able to help injured workers to utilize the maximum of their workers' compensation policy. 

Preventing an accident and its subsequent injury from happening in the first place is a team effort between you and your employer. As you begin receiving training for your job, you should also be educated about the risks and hazards of the responsibilities you are required to perform as part of your job description. Additionally, it is your responsibility to abide by the regulations and protocols that have been given to you, to protect your own safety and well-being, as well as that of the people around you. 

Did your loved one experience nursing home abuse?

When a loved one is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself, your family may have to make the difficult decision to move that individual to a Massachusetts nursing home. This is a hard choice, and you likely did a significant amount of research before moving forward with the process. You may have been confident that the facility you chose would provide adequate care and support. 

It can be frustrating to learn that the nursing home you chose for your loved one failed to provide a standard of care. It is devastating and infuriating to learn that your loved one experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of the people you trusted with his or her care. If your family is walking through this difficult situation, there are legal options available to you.

Job success may fuel distracted driving

For many people in Massachusetts, the amount of time they spend in their vehicles getting to and from work every day has become almost an extension of their workday. This has been fueled by the ability to remain in communication at virtually any time. Cell phones have become so common that many employees find themselves on conference calls or receiving messages while on their daily commute. This, in turn, may well be increasing the urge to use phones while behind the wheel.

USA Today recently published a report that indicates the urge to respond to incoming messages is exceptionally high among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34. In this demographic, 37% of people say they feel strongly compelled to check or return messages even while they are actively driving. The desire to be available to bosses and colleagues is part of this desire, making some people feel that the need to compete at work may be contributing to dangers on the road for others. 

Work injuries down, but workplace violence up in Massachusetts

Hearing that the number of workplace injuries and fatalities is down in Massachusetts is good news for employees all around the state. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported the good news, stating that the number of fatal accidents has remained nearly the same over the last few years.

No increase in fatal work accidents is a positive note, but the same report also revealed that the rate of workplace violence has nearly doubled.

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