Older Driver Safety Awareness: Helpful tips for driving safely while aging well

December 5, 2018 | 9:19 am


They are our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors. They are also the wisest among us.

Still, our senior citizens many times depend on us to watch out for them, and this is especially important when it comes to driving a motor vehicle. For Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, observed in December, make it a point to talk to your older loved ones about driving safety.

“Everyone should have the freedom to travel as they see fit as long as they are able to do so safely, and make sure others around them are safe as well,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Last year, California saw more than 3,400 fatal collisions in 2017, according to the California Highway Patrol. Drivers aged 65 and older were involved in nearly 14 percent of those crashes. Nationwide, the number of people 65 and older killed in traffic crashes made up 18 percent of all traffic fatalities.

With increasing age come changes in physical, mental, and sensory abilities that can challenge a person’s continued ability to drive safely. Family and friends play a major role in identifying changes in driving behavior and beginning discussions about older driver safety. It is important to start these conversations early and discuss any needed changes in driving habits before it becomes a problem, allowing older drivers to be actively involved in the planning.

Getting older does not necessarily mean a person’s driving days are over. But it’s important to plan ahead and take steps to ensure the safety of your loved ones on the road.

Bringing up the subject of their driving abilities can make some drivers defensive. Answering the following questions, courtesy of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, may help you decide if you need to initiate a conversation with an older driver about driving safely:

  • Getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
  • Noticing new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
  • Receiving a ticket for a driving violation?
  • Experiencing a near-miss or crash recently?
  • Being advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
  • Overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
  • Taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
  • Speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
  • Suffering from any illnesses that may affect driving skills?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might need to talk with your loved one about safe driving. Read this guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help you along the way.

Now, if you’re an older driver, you can also assess how changes can affect your driving. The following questions will help you decide if physical changes have affected your driving skills. Helpful tips about coping with these changes are also provided so that you can remain a safe driver for as long as possible.

  • How is your eyesight? Do you have trouble reading signs easily; recognizing someone you know from across the street; seeing street markings, other cars, and people walking, especially at dawn, dusk and at night; handling headlight glare at night? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you should 1) Make sure you always wear your glasses and that the prescription is current. 2) Keep your windshield, mirrors and headlights clean. 3) Make sure that your headlights are working and aimed correctly. 4) Sit high enough in your seat so you can see the road at least 10 feet in front of your vehicle. 5) If you are 60 or older, see an eye doctor every year.
  • Do you have control of your vehicle? Do you have trouble looking over your shoulder to change lanes; moving your foot from the gas to the brake pedal; turning the steering wheel; walking less than a block a day; going up or down stairs because you have pain in your knees, legs or ankles? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you should 1) Check with your doctor about physical therapy, medicine, stretching exercises, or a walking or fitness program. 2) Know that an automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, and other special equipment can make it easier for you to drive your vehicle and use the foot pedals.3) Reduce your driver’s side blind spot by moving your mirrors. 4) Watch for flashing lights of emergency vehicles. 5) Listen for sounds outside your vehicle.
  • Does driving make you feel nervous, scared or overwhelmed? Do you feel confused by traffic signs, and people and cars in traffic; take medicine that makes you sleepy; get dizzy, or have seizures or losses of consciousness; react slowly to normal driving situations? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you should 1) Ask your doctor if your health or side effects from your medicine can affect your driving. 2) Take routes that you know. 3) Try to drive during the day (avoid rush hour). 4) Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you. 5) Always scan the road while you are driving so that you are ready for any problems and can plan your actions.
  • Are loved ones concerned? Sometimes other people notice things about your driving that you might have missed. Have people you know and trust said they were concerned about your driving? If you said “Yes” to any of these questions, you should 1) Talk with your doctor. Ask him or her to check the side effects of any medicines you are taking. 2) Think about taking a mature driving class. The AAA, AARP and driving schools offer these classes. 3) Try walking, carpooling, public transit, and other forms of transportation.

CHP also offers free, two-hour “Age Well, Drive Smart” courses throughout the year. Through this program, seniors can sharpen their driving skills, refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road, and learn how to adjust to typical age-related physical and mental changes.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of someone else, contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Brain Injury Awareness Month: You’re ‘Not Alone’ campaign highlights millions affected in the United States

March 8, 2017 | 9:19 am


More than 2.5 million children and adults in the United States suffer a brain injury each year. At least 5.3 million Americans live with traumatic brain injury-related (TBI) disabilities. And every day, 137 people in the United States die because of a TBI-related injury.

It’s appropriate that this March — during Brain Injury Awareness Month — the Brain Injury Association of America is getting the word out on the facts of TBI with its campaign titled, “Not Alone.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, too, wants the public to know that they are not alone when it comes to traumatic brain injuries, and getting legal help from accidents that cause those injuries. The Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm has extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases involving traumatic brain injuries, and has successfully obtained millions of dollars on behalf of victims. Many of the victims have suffered brain injuries from accidents caused by someone else, or from accidents at work.

Additionally, each year Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a proud supporter of the Brain Injury Association of California’s “Walk, Run & Ride for Brain Injury.”

The “Not Alone” campaign aims to educate the general public about the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families. It also aims to de-stigmatize the injury, empower those who survive injuries, and promote the many types of support that are available.

To commemorate the awareness month, for example, the Brain Injury Association of America has produced several fliers with noteworthy facts about those affected by TBI and impactful slogans, including:

  • 5.3 million people living with brain injury want what everyone wants: a good job, a nice home, someone to love and to enjoy their lives.
  • Research, treatment and support speeds recovery for the 2.5 million Americans who survive brain injuries each year.
  • Life goes on for 2.5 million Americans who survive traumatic brain injuries each year.

Chances are that you know someone personally who has suffered a brain injury, whether it’s from a sports concussion, a fall, or motor vehicle accident, or an “acquired injury” from a stroke, brain tumor or aneurysm. Other causes of brain injuries Chain | Cohn | Stiles has seen from victims include from electric shock, strikes or assaults, and near drownings.

Those who suffer brain injuries experience significant change in their lives. Some are no longer able to work, and others require around-the-clock support. Treating brain injuries could require multiple surgeries or ongoing therapy.

According to Brain Injury Association of California, TBI is the most misdiagnosed, misunderstood and underfunded type of injury/disease. It’s not something most people think about until it happens to them or someone they love. Though advances in neurosurgery and research have saved thousands of lives, without appropriate level of specialized rehabilitation, many victims will not achieve their maximum outcome.

The Brain Injury Association of America is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization, with a mission to advance awareness, research, treatment and education and to improve the quality of life for all individuals impacted by brain injury.

If you or a loved one suffer from a traumatic brain injury, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website Chainlaw.com.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles gives back in October for scholarships, local nonprofits, cancer fight, more

October 19, 2016 | 8:49 am


So far this month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has taken part in and supported several local programs that raise awareness of issues in our community, and raise funds to help our neighbors in need.

They include:

  • Tips for CHiPs: California Highway Patrol hosted its seventh “Tips for CHiPs” luncheon fundraiser on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Outback Steakhouse in Bakersfield, with Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a gold sponsor. The fundraiser benefits the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Widows and Orphans Trust Fund, which helps families whose loved ones are killed in or off the line of duty. The fund is organized by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, a nonprofit that represents about 11,000 active and retired CHP officers, and is dedicated to assisting families of CHP officers. The event raised more than $31,000 this year.
  • Kern County Cancer RunUnfortunately, the Chain | Cohn | Stiles extended family knows too well the effects of cancer in our community. But we were proud to join CBCC Foundation for Community Wellness at the Kern County Cancer Run on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Yokuts Park, aimed to raise funds and awareness, and to encourage our community to support local cancer patients.

And the month of giving back isn’t over for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Here are a few more upcoming events and programs that you can join in supporting, too, and hopefully will make a big difference in our own community:

  • CSU Bakersfield Alumni Association’s Party in the Park: Funds raised for this annual party — held Friday, Oct. 21, at the CSUB Alumni Park — go toward alumni scholarships, membership outreach, and mentoring opportunities for current CSUB students. Three Chain | Cohn | Stiles associates are alumni of CSUB: Chad Boyles, Beatriz Trejo, and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller. Boyles is a member of the CSUB Alumni Association Board of Directors. For more information on the event, click here.
  • Olivia’s Heart Project Heart of Gold Gala: The vision of Olivia’s Heart Project is to increase awareness and prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest in children and young adults through community heart screenings, education and increased accessibility to life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The gala, which Chain | Cohn | Stiles, is sponsoring, will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, at Four Points Sheraton.
  • American Cancer Society’s Valley of Hope: Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a “Supporting Sponsor” for this event that is aimed to finish the fight against cancer. Proceeds help local cancer patients stay well and get well, and find cures. The event is on Saturday, Oct. 22, at a private residence. For more information, click here.
  • American Heart Association Heart & Stroke Walk: The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premiere event for raising funds to save lives from this country’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers — heart disease and stroke. The Oct. 22 event is designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living.
  • Steve Alvidrez Scholarship Poker Tournament: The annual poker tournament raises money for scholarships for students majoring in criminology or going into law enforcement in honor of former Kern High School District Chief of Police Steven V. Alvidrez, who was killed after being hit while on his motorcycle by a drunk driver.
  • Barbell for Boobs: Inspired by athletes everywhere, the nonprofit is dedicated to the early detection of breast cancer, with an emphasis on women and men under the age of 40. Locally, athletes will come together in an exercise event on Oct. 29, at KC Crossfit.

Outside of the work we do for injured victims, through community involvement, our law firm also supports a number of local organizations. See a full list of recent contributions and community involvement here.

Elder Abuse Awareness: Signs to identify physical, emotional, financial abuse of loved ones

June 29, 2016 | 7:00 am


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day took place earlier this month — and is recognized each year on June 15 — but it’s important to focus attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders every day.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 5 million cases of elder abuse occur every year; however, only about one in every 23 cases get reported. It can happen in a nursing home, in the home of your loved ones by an in-home nurse, or ever over the phone or on the Internet.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, our attorneys for decades have focused on helping victims and families who have experienced elder abuse. In fact, David Stiles, who serves as “of counsel” at the law firm, has been recognized as one of the most respected elder abuse lawyers in California.

Elder abuse can take many forms:

  • Physical Abuse: Physically harming an elderly person, by a caregiver for example.
  • Emotional Abuse: Mentally harming an elderly person by insulting him or her, or talking down to the victim.
  • Sexual Abuse: Touching of a victim inappropriately by a caregiver and without consent.
  • Exploitation: Tricking an elderly person into giving them money or property rights, and taking advantage for profit.
  • Neglect and Abandonment: Disregarding the needs of an elderly person, and leaving him or her alone for long periods of time with no help.

Unfortunately, elder abuse can take place at any time, and it can happen to anyone, and that’s why it is important to be aware of it. Here are a few warning signs, courtesy of National Center on Elder Abuse, to keep a watchful eye:

  • Unexplained bruises or welts on their body.
  • Loved ones becoming isolated or not allowed to contact family.
  • Caregiver is overly controlling or verbally abusive.
  • Bruises around pelvic and genitalia areas, or unexplained sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Sudden changes in loved one’s finances.
  • Ulcers from not being moved around properly, malnutrition and lack of basic hygiene.

A new video by Chain | Cohn | Stiles focuses on the effects of elder abuse and neglect on families, and how our attorneys can help. Click here to watch the video featuring attorney Neil Gehlawat.

Currently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the family of a man who drowned while unsupervised in a senior living facility in Bakersfield formerly known as Glenwood Gardens.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. Its purpose is to “provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.”

— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.