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Chattanooga Law Blog

Restorative therapies for paralysis, part 1: Advances in robotics offer hope

In recent years, cutting-edge physical therapy techniques have been trying to help paralyzed people walk again by using robotic technology.

Are these techniques still only in the research stage or are they starting to bear fruit?

Drugged driving, part 1: Still no standard test available

The .08 percent threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) for a DUI charge is widely known. It's been in place for over a decade in every state and is based on a chemical test with a specific number.

Tests for BAC can have serious problems, such as failure to calibrate a breathalyzer properly, contamination of the blood sample, or testing error. However, BAC is based on an objective standard wherein a numerical result is obtained.

This is not the case for intoxicants other than alcohol. Is it true that there is still no standard test for drugged driving?

An update on the fight against the side effects of Risperdal

When you're in a fight, you don't necessarily win every round. When the cause is just, however, you keep fighting.

A recent example of this is the ongoing litigation against the makers of a dangerous drug called Risperdal. Though it is marketed to the public as an effective antipsychotic drug, Risperdal is associated with a terrible condition called gynecomastia, in which boys and young men end up growing abnormal breasts due to the drug's side effects.

Study shows that crash deaths lower for pickup trucks and SUVs

According to a traffic fatality study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pickup trucks and SUVs had lower driver death rates in accidents on roadways in Tennessee and across the U.S. Various pickup truck makes and models were analyzed, and some fared much better than others.

The report found that for model years 2011 to 2014, the driver fatality rate for all passenger vehicles was 30 for every million registrations. In 2015, there were more than 35,000 crash-related fatalities, which represent a 7 percent increase from the previous year. The study showed that passenger vehicles had the highest fatality rate at 39 per million vehicles registered. Minivans and SUVs, classified as light trucks, had the lowest number, which was about 20 deaths for every million registrations. The fatality rate for pickup trucks is 26 fatalities per million vehicles.

Signs that could indicate nursing home neglect

When a Tennessee family puts a loved one in a nursing home, they expect the facility to provide the daily care the person needs, including assistance with eating and basic hygiene. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is a serious issue that occurs at many facilities across the nation. Family members who have loved ones in nursing homes should look for specific signs of neglect.

First, family members should look for poor personal hygiene. This could indicate the facility does not have enough staff or the staff members are not properly trained to provide appropriate healthcare. Unsanitary living conditions are another red flag, as facilities are required to provide clean and safe living conditions for their residents. Third, poor nutrition could also be an indication of neglect.

Ominous exposure: 3 FAQs on the latency period for mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos can cause terrible harm to someone's lungs. In a post earlier this year, we described the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer, two of the devastating malignant diseases that can result from inhaling asbestos fibers.

But for people who get mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, symptoms do not appear immediately; there is a long latency period in which the disease slowly develops inside the body.

Checkpoint data shows DUI charges unlikely

In 2016, there were 3,320 cars that passed through DUI checkpoints in six Tennessee counties over 10 nights according to police records. Those records show that only seven people were taken into custody for DUI. This has led critics to claim that these checkpoints are a waste of time and that they don't work. In most cases, people pass through the checkpoints with no problem.

However, it is possible to be ticketed or cited for other offenses. The data shows there were 30 equipment violations that were found during sobriety checkpoints. There were also 130 instances of people being cited or taken into custody for crimes not related to drunk or impaired driving. In many cases, those who were cited for these offenses may not have been stopped by police were it not for the checkpoints.

Side effects of drugs may be revealed years after approval

The FDA has a difficult balance to strike between adequate testing and pressure to get new drugs on the market quickly. This pressure can come from several sources, but especially from the manufacturers who stand to reap huge profits if the medications are approved and from its often well-connected shareholders who stand to benefit from the manufacturers' stock appreciation. As a consequence, and with limited resources, the FDA relies heavily upon information provided by the manufacturers themseleves. Some FDA studies may be done with small groups, which can make it difficult to identify some side effects until the drugs are in wider usage.

In some cases, drugs prove to be dangerous enough that they are taken off the market. Even when this does not occur, if users suffer serious harm from a drug and they were not adequately informed about the risks, they might be have legal rights against the manufacturer. In some cases, a manufacturer may have been aware of potential adverse effects without publicizing the information, or the drug may not have been tested thoroughly enough.

What is the difference between a 1st and 4th degree DUI offense?

When a Tennessee resident is accused of driving under the influence, he or she should be aware that the severity of the consequences can change depending on the number of previous DUI convictions the person has. For example, the consequences for a fourth DUI offense are more severe than a first DUI offense.

If a person is a first-time DUI offender, he or she could be facing a minimum 48-hour jail sentence. If the person'a blood alcohol content is .20 percent or greater though, the driver must serve a minimum of 7 days in jail. The maximum sentence is 11 months and 29 days. The driver is also at risk for losing his or her driving privileges for one year and may be required to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program. An ignition interlock device may be required. In addition to this expense, which can exceed $1,000 on its own, the accused person may also face a fine that can range from $350 to $1,500.

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