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CYCLIST ASSISTED BY OMAHA CYCLING COMMUNITY

It is inspiring when we get to read about, or even experience the kindness of strangers, but even better when you live in the city and are able to experience that kindness firsthand by someone who shares your passions.  In Omaha, cycling has become a passion shared by many, and the City of Omaha has taken that passion seriously, especially in recent years as new bike lanes have been added to give cyclists even more opportunities to stay healthy and enjoy their passion.  Unfortunately, cyclists still must use the street system for commuting, accessing the trails, recreational trips and other purposes.

On May 20, 2013, Thomas Burbach was using the street system on “L” Street to train for RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa, when he was struck by a car, which immediately sped away.  Thankfully, he survived, despite massive injuries and complications from those injuries and is grateful to a fellow cyclist, Marshall Stewart, for stopping to render aid.  Mr. Stewart called 911, issued emergency first aid to prevent shock and distracted him from pain while they waited for an ambulance.  But Stewart wasn’t the only cyclist to come to Burbach’s aid after his hit-and-run.  The local cycling community has offered support and donations to help with his medical bills.

As much as the City of Omaha has progressed and decreased the number of bicycle-vehicle crashes since the 1990s, there are still around 250 per year.  According to Craig Kelley, co-founder of the Dundee Chain Gang Cycling Club and accident attorney, the new bicycle lanes in Omaha offer more room for bicyclists, but care and attention is still a priority for motorists in order to avoid accidents such as Mr. Burbach’s.

Inserra & Kelley wishes Mr. Burbach a quick and complete recovery!

TORNADO SAFETY IN THE MIDWEST

 

It was March 23, 1913.  Five twisters across Nebraska and Iowa killed 115 people in total.  At this time, there was no such thing as a tornado warning .  In fact, the first tornado warning system was made by United States Air Force Captain Robert C. Miller and Major Ernest Fawbush on March 25, 1948.  Time and technology brought sophistication to the tornado warning systems and today, Doppler weather radar can detect rotational funnel cloud formations earlier than is typically possible by trained spotters.  On May 29, 2013, the National Weather Service reported nearly a dozen tornadoes in south-central and southeastern Nebraska, however reported no injuries, which speaks volumes to the advances in warning systems.

Growing up in rural Nebraska, I learned at a very young age the dangers of the devastating winds and tornadoes.  I remember being ordered to the cellar when the warnings would come on our small television, where we could find blankets, a radio, flashlights and yes, even an old camping lantern and some matches and would wait out the storm.  Today we receive our warnings much more efficiently with the invention of computers and the internet, but how many of us actually know how to prepare for a tornado or stay safe once one is forecast?  The American Red Cross not only responds to these disasters, they offer safety tips and a free lifesaving tornado application available for download on the iPhone and Android.  Just search for “Tornado by American Red Cross” in your applications store.

You can prepare for a tornado by gathering important emergency supplies, such as food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights, and a portable radio.  If you are in a tornado watch, you will want to keep a close monitor on the television, internet or radio for updates that may warn you when your tornado watch is upgraded to a tornado warning.  A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado, while a tornado warning means a tornado or funnel cloud has actually been sighted.  It is important to know the signs of a tornado.  Look and listen for a strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base, whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base (as some tornadoes have no funnel), hail or heavy rain followed by either a dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift, or a loud continuous roar or rumble which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.

When a tornado is approaching, you should immediately take shelter in a basement or first-floor room or hallway.  Avoid windows and large, open rooms (such as a gym or an auditorium).  Seek protection by getting underneath large, solid pieces of furniture, such as a mattress or a solid oak table.  Avoid automobiles and mobile homes and if you do happen to get caught outside, lie flat on the lowest ground you can find while you wait for the storm to pass.  Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, as there can be deadly traffic hazards while the bridge actually provides very little protection against flying debris.  Stay away from trees, as they can be picked up by the tornado and tossed.  Most importantly, do not panic.  Crouch down and cover your head when you have found your safe place.  Tornadoes are a frightening reality of living in the Midwest, however if you stay alert, prepared and calm, you have a better chance of surviving the storm.

SHOULD MOTORCYCLES HAVE A SPECIAL EXCEPTION TO RED LIGHTS?

The Nebraska unicameral is currently exploring a proposed bill, introduced by Nebraska State Senator Paul Schumacher, which would allow motorcyclists to drive through red traffic lights if the rider had already waited at least two minutes for the light to change.  Advocates of the proposed bill suggest that traffic sensors are not triggered as easily by lightweight motorcycles as other vehicles, causing a delay in the change of the light for motorcycles.

The bill, LB 85, was introduced and indefinitely postponed, however its proposal offers an interesting perspective regarding the ability of traffic lights to “sense” traffic weighing less than 1,000 pounds.  An additional element of the proposed bill requires no other cars to be present as well as the two minute delay prior to travelling through a red light.  Opponents of the bill argue that the law would be too difficult to enforce as it would be nearly impossible to keep track of the two-minute time requirement.  In 2011, Illinois suggested a similar measure for cities with populations of less than two million.  The Illinois law passed in 2012.  South Carolina also passed a similar law in 2008.  According to USA Today, at least seven other states already have similar regulations.

Although not everyone agrees with the length of time spent waiting for red lights, is there really a good argument to be made for allowing motorcycles special exceptions to the rules of the road?  Will these types of proposed laws increase traffic accidents caused by violation of red lights?  Will liability be more difficult to prove in cases involving a motorcycle which runs a red light?  These are all considerations the Unicameral will have to consider in debating LB 85, should it be reintroduced in the future.

GRANUFLO SIDE EFFECTS ENDANGER THE LIVES OF DIALYSIS PATIENTS

 

Hemodialysis treatment can be an efficient way to replace loss of function in the kidneys; however it can also cause a number of side effects, such as low blood pressure, muscle cramps, itching, sleep problems, anemia, bone diseases and high blood pressure.   Patients could also suffer from pericarditis, high potassium levels, stiffness and fluid in joints and depression.   Many of these side effects are a result of the loss of electrolytes during the dialysis process.  One treatment which is effective at reducing the side effects caused by loss of electrolytes is the use of Granulfo, a drug originally seen as a safe treatment option due to its lack of volatile chemicals. 

Unfortunately, GranuFlo also has some very dangerous side effects of its own, and was recalled in March of 2012 because it contains more of a substance which converts into bicarbonate in the human body.  This additional bicarbonate can lead to heart problems and cause side effects including death, heart attack, low blood pressure, low potassium in the blood, low levels of oxygen in the blood, excessive carbon dioxide in the blood and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

In the early 2000’s, GranuFlo was seen as the safest dialysate on the market.  However, increased use of GranuFlo and its sister product, NaturaLyte, led to a rise in the number of cardiac arrest complaints by patients who were treated with its usage in early 2012.   At that time, the drug was deemed unsafe for human consumption due to the increased amounts of bicarbonate in the body. In February of 2013, a widow filed a lawsuit in Alabama Northern District Court alleging her husband suffered severe injuries, including cardiovascular death, after receiving Granulfo.  In March of 2012, the FDA published a Class I recall of NaturaLyte and Granulfo due to the high serum bicarbonate levels, causing metabolic alkalosis, associated with cardiac arrhythmia that had the potential to culminate into cardiac arrest.  In January of 2013, an additional lawsuit was filed in the Louisiana Eastern District Court alleging the plaintiff suffered heart attack and stroke as well as severe pain and suffering, following hemodialysis treatment with Granulfo and/or NaturaLyte.

Fresenius Medical Care, the manufacturers of Granulfo and NaturaLyte, owes the users of these drugs a duty of care.  If you or a family member were exposed to the use of Granulfo or its sister product, NaturaLyte, and suffered a cardiac arrest or developed serious heart complications you may be entitled to compensation.  Inserra & Kelley is proud to offer a free initial evaluation of your case.  Contact us today to start your claim evaluation.

NEBRASKA EXPLORES RAISING MINIMIM INSURANCE RATES

If you have ever been involved in an automobile accident, you understand the importance of properly insuring your vehicle. Vehicle insurance is designed to cover your risk of financial liability or loss if you are involved in an automobile accident causing property damages or personal injuries. Most states require vehicle owners to carry a certain amount of “minimal limits” of liability insurance to cover a driver’s potential negligence in operating a motor vehicle. In Nebraska, the minimal limits currently are $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident (when two or more persons are injured in the same accident). Is $25,000.00 a sufficient amount of insurance when you consider the rising costs of medical care?

In January of 2013, Nebraska State Senator Paul Schumacher introduced LB 80, a bill proposing increases to the minimal liability insurance limits required in Nebraska. The bill proposes the minimal liability limits in Nebraska be raised from $25,000.00 to $50,000.00 per person and from $50,000.00 per accident to $100,000.00 per accident (in cases where two or more people are injured in the same accident). This change would pay up to $50,000.00 per injured person in an accident up to $100,000.00 for two or more persons injured in one accident. Consumers would still be able to purchase larger limits, however the mandatory minimum liability limits would be raised.

As a personal injury law firm, we see cases all the time where the minimal limits of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident does not even cover the medical bills incurred in an accident. Inserra & Kelley encourages our clients to carry insurance limits sufficient to protect themselves not only for their own liability, but in cases where you must protect yourself from the negligence of persons who are operating an uninsured motor vehicle. According to the Insurance Research Council, California Department of Insurance, 8% of all Nebraska drivers are operating motor vehicles uninsured. This makes it even more important for drivers to carry sufficient limits. If you are struck by an uninsured driver who has no non-exempt assets, your only option for covering your medical bills is to make a claim under your own underinsured/uninsured coverage. If you have any questions regarding how much coverage you should carry, please contact your insurance agent or give our law firm, Inserra & Kelley a call for a free analysis of your current coverage.

Bicycle Safety Tips: How Not to Get Hit

As we move into the Spring and Summer seasons, it is a great opportunity to remind ourselves the importance of bicycle safety. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to get hit by a car when riding on public streets, and sometimes wearing a helmet and following the law is not enough to protect you from unsafe or careless drivers. Bicyclesafe.com offers us some excellent tips on how not to get hit when riding your bicycle on a public roadway. Remember that defensive driving is not just for motorists, so wear your helmet, avoid busy streets, signal your turns and be aware of your surroundings when riding a bicycle. Have a safe and happy summer!

KIDS AND CARS URGES CONGRESS TO TAKE ACTION REGARDING REARVIEW CAMERAS IN CARS

Families of Children Killed in Car Backover Incidents and Safety Groups Urge Obama Administration to Take Action on Rearview Cameras in Cars

Over 1,100 People Killed Since Law Was Passed

Washington, DC – Parents of children killed in backover incidents and safety groups today joined Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) at a Capitol Hill press event to urge the Obama Administration to release a rear visibility rule for motor vehicles. With strong bipartisan support Congress required this safety rule in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act signed into law by President George W. Bush in February 2008. The rule is two years overdue and should have been issued by February 2011.

“It is clear from so many other actions that President Obama has the safety of our children as a top priority. We urge the President to take one simple step today and issue the rear visibility rule. These unacceptable and unnecessary deaths and injuries from backover incidents must stop,” said Janette Fennell, president, KidsAndCars.org.

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KIDSANDCARS.ORG

INSERRA & KELLEY SUPPORTS KIDSANDCARS.ORG

Inserra & Kelley has joined KidsAndCars.org in their campaign against the dangers cars present to children.  KidsAndCars.org was established after Janette Fennell,    Read more

Lawyers Against Hunger

Inserra and Kelley is the first Nebraska firm to participate in the Lawyers Against Hunger campaign by giving away 500 turkeys. It was a beautiful day and a good   Read more