Zack Hendon and The Hendon Law Firm, LLC Selected as a 2018 Super Lawyer

Zack Hendon has been selected to the 2018 Georgia Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.superlawyer

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

Robot Car Technology Challenges Law and Insurance

Where We Are Today

Most cars now already feature some form of self-driving technology, from cruise control – first developed in the 1950s – to electronic stability introduced in the mid-1990s to recent innovations like automatic braking, lane departure alerts and self-parking. The latest technologies, like Autopilot from Tesla and Drive Pilot from Mercedes-Benz, automatically steer, adjust speed and brake. Instead of relying on eyes, ears and a brain for control, autonomous vehicles depend on data from cameras, radar and LIDAR – high-tech sensors that detect light – all fed into an on-board computer.

Since we share the road with both old and new vehicles, all with a mix of technologies, the Society of Automotive Engineers created a six-level ranking system. Level Zero, One and Two vehicles still require human drivers to monitor the driving environment. Level Three, Four and Five vehicles put the computer in charge of monitoring the driving environment. Only Level Three vehicles, like the Tesla, are commercially available today. But traditional manufacturers, along with new players like Google and Uber, are testing fully autonomous Level Five vehicles and predict they will be available to the public in the early 2020s.

What Autonomous Vehicles Mean to You

Tesla Model S
Tesla has rejected responsibility for crashes even when its Autopilot system is engaged.

The most encouraging prediction from the transition to driverless cars is a dramatic reduction in auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 37,000 people died in auto accidents in 2016 and millions more were injured. NHTSA estimates that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. A self-driving car that is never tired, distracted or impaired could dramatically reduce accidents, saving 30,000 lives or more each year.

The reality, however, is that Americans will still suffer injuries and deaths from auto crashes as self-driving technology is perfected. No technology is foolproof, especially when it involves the highly complex sensors and artificial intelligence central to self-driving cars. We’ve also learned the hard way that automakers deny responsibility or cover up manufacturing defects to protect profits. And even if Level Five automation is available to the public in 2020, it will be another 15 to 20 years before all vehicles on the road have the latest self-driving technologies.

Operators Still Blamed for Crashes

In a collision involving autonomous vehicles, the question of liability is murky at best. Is the operator at fault, the manufacturer, the software designer? Unfortunately, the trend has been to blame the operator, with manufacturers suggesting that humans should be ready to take over when self-driving systems hand over the controls. Research shows, however, that humans are not well adapted to re-engage with complex tasks, like driving in an emergency situation, once their attention has been allowed to wander.

As more and more vehicles become completely driverless, it makes less and less sense to hold their human operators liable. Instead, we see strict liability as the best solution, where manufacturers take full responsibility for crashes when the robot system is driving. This same principle already applies to common carriers like bus companies, airlines or train operators, where passengers are completely dependent on the carrier for their safety. Auto insurance as we know it today would be eliminated under this scenario, because who needs an insurance policy if they’re not driving?

In the Meantime …

Self-driving technologies and eventually fully autonomous cars will likely be a reality sooner than later. Consider these tips along the way:

  1. Do your research: Cars that already have automated safety technology, such as back-up cameras or automatic braking, are already on the road today. Before you purchase a new car, review safety ratings for both the mechanical and the computer-driven technologies already on board.
  2. Stay vigilant: Just as you would if you were driving a car with no automated features, keep your attention on the road. It’s tempting to believe that once self-driving cars are introduced, you can relax your focus. Don’t exclusively rely on automated features to keep you safe.
  3. Support accountability: There are laws currently being written about liability and safety when it comes to driverless cars. Support the laws and lawmakers that insist on strict liability for autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

Medication Errors on the Rise, but They Can Be Prevented

As Americans Take More Drugs, Medication Errors on the Rise

Simply stated, a medication error occurs when a mistake is made in either prescribing, dispensing or taking medicine. The Institute of Medicine estimates that about 1.5 million people are injured by medication errors annually in hospitals, nursing homes or in outpatient settings. Meanwhile, a recent study published by the journal Clinical Toxicology estimates that the number of medication errors occurring at home doubled from 2000 to 2012. Many of these injuries are serious, hospitalizing 200,000 patients or more every year and accounting for 7,000 deaths.

 

Learn How Drug Errors Occur

Medication ListMaintain an updated medication list and share it with all your care providers. Download one here.

Knowing how and where medication errors occur can help you prevent them:

  • Wrong Dose:The most prevalent medication error is incorrect dosage, which can occur when a mistake is made by either the patient or health care provider. Transposing the amount of a dosage by just one decimal point, for example, when writing or filling a prescription can have serious consequences. Adults who take multiple prescriptions can easily double a dosage when two pills look similar. Dosage errors are also common with small children, as their dosages are limited by weight.
  • Wrong Medication: Like dosage errors, taking or prescribing the wrong drug can result in a medication mishap. One patient might receive a different patient’s medication at a hospital or nursing home because of sloppy record keeping, for example.
  • Wrong Administration: Even if you are taking the right medicine in the right dose, it must be taken as directed. Many patients skip scheduled dosages or stop taking a medication altogether. Other medicines shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach, with other over-the-counter drugs or while drinking alcohol.
  • Where and When: Patients are at greatest risk to medicine mistakes during transition from one health care setting to another, whether from one part of a hospital to another, from hospital to nursing home, from hospital to home or even from one pharmacy to another pharmacy. Miscommunication during a hospital or nursing home shift change can also trigger a medication error.

First Line of Defense: Communication

Pill BoxesUse pill boxes to organize multiple medications by day of the week and time of the day.

Many medication errors can be tracked to a breakdown in communication between patient and health care provider. Thus, patients should partner with their health care providers and be proactive in understanding and monitoring their medications. Conversely, health care providers should take steps to better educate, consult with and listen to their patients. Here are a few more practical tips on how patients can avoid medication errors:

  • Understand and Double-Check
    Make sure you know the name and dosage of the medication your doctor has prescribed. Understand when and how the medication should be taken, and what side effects might occur. In addition to talking to your doctor or pharmacist, check out your prescription on the FDA’s Drugs.com. When you pick up the prescription from a pharmacist, check that it’s the exact medication your doctor ordered (different drugs often have names that look or sound similar). And contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately if you are experiencing any unexpected changes in how you feel after starting a new medication.
  • Take as Prescribed
    Your medication could be in a pill form, or maybe it needs to be injected. Eyedrops and eardrops can easily be confused. Always take your medication in the prescribed method. DO NOT chew pills if they are not meant to be chewed, cut pills if they are not meant to be cut or take any dosage other than the one specifically prescribed to you.
  • Create a Medication List
    It may sound simple, but an accurate, updated medication list can prevent a lot of drug errors. Sit down with every one of your prescriptions and record the name, reason taken, dose, time of day, form (liquid, capsule, tablet, etc.) and any special instructions. Add the same information for over-the-counter medications, and then update the list any time there is a change. Honesty is critical, so don’t leave anything out.

    Now take your list with you and share it EVERY time you meet with a health care professional, even if you have done so already in the past. There are lots of electronic medication lists available online or for your smartphone. Download one here from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

  • List Drug Allergies 
    Disclose any allergic or adverse reaction experienced in the past when taking a medication, no matter how long ago it occurred. Add these reactions to your medication list and consider a medical ID bracelet, smartphone alert or other type of notification in case of an emergency.
  • Organize Your Medications
    Store prescriptions in their original labeled containers. The more medications you take, the higher the risk for confusion or error, so use a pillbox if you take more than one medication a day. Thirty-six percent of seniors use five or more prescriptions.