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Oklahoma City Legal Issues Blog

The difference a severance package can make

Although Oklahoma law does not require it, many in-state companies have some form of severance pay as a form of goodwill toward their employees and protection against future lawsuits from them.

If you are thinking of drafting a severance package, or are applying for jobs that include one, it is important to know the difference between a satisfying and unsatisfying severance package.

The subtle early signs of sexual harassment

The rise of the #MeToo movement this past year has helped many women feel empowered in sharing their stories of workplace sexual harassment. Many of these stories have also served as a reminder that sexual harassment is not limited to physical abuse, but can also come in discreet forms that may be harder to identify.

If you find that you have been getting unwanted attention in the workplace, whether from a coworker, superior, or even a client, you may be experiencing early signs of sexual harassment.

According to an article by Business Insider, here are a few ways to identify inappropriate behavior at work:

Testing finds flaws in car safety systems

Oklahoma motorists should not assume that their vehicles are safe even if they are equipped with safety systems. Drivers will still need to pay attention to the road if they want to avoid getting into accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested electronic driver assist systems in Mercedes, Tesla, Volvo and BMW vehicles. They found that while the safety systems can save lives, they also have flaws that put driver and passenger lives at risk. The automatic systems in the cars that were tested are considered to be the best there are, yet testing showed that the technology is not infallible.

Summer sees more cars and more crashes on the road

With children out of school, there are plenty of people in Oklahoma who take long road trips over the summer. Unfortunately, summertime also sees an increase in the number of car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that car and motorcycle crashes are the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries that require hospitalization.

With this in mind, it's important for car crash victims to be examined for a concussion as soon as possible. This will help reduce the chance of a false diagnosis. Concussions are hard to detect because symptoms arise at different times for different people: sometimes minutes after the crash, sometimes days. Symptoms include exaggerated changes in mood, a loss or diminishing of cognitive function and slurred speech.

Are you being discriminated against? Identifying signs at work.

Your workplace should be free of any discriminatory action. For many people, unfortunately, discrimination seems to infiltrate career moves and decisions as they go about completing their job requirements.

Just as important as it is for employers and other employees to refrain from any judgmental behavior, it's important for you to recognize when discriminatory deeds present themselves in your workplace. Identifying when discrimination happens, discussing your rights with an attorney and taking legal action may give you the opportunity to receive compensation.

FMCSA introduces new trucking safety assessments

Trucking safety is a major public concern for people in Oklahoma and across the country. It's important to note that tractor-trailer accidents are far more likely to injure or even kill the occupants of passenger cars than truckers. Therefore, it's vital that the government maintains clear and accurate information about trucking safety records in order to reduce the likelihood of these types of crashes.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released a report indicating how it plans to retool its trucking company safety assessments after it was mandated to do so by Congress in 2015. Despite the importance of trucking safety data in preventing and reducing dangerous trucking accidents, the industry has complained for many years about the agency's safety ratings, claiming that they are unfair and inaccurate. In response to this industry pressure, Congress passed a highway bill that required the FMCSA to remove its current ratings from public view and mandated the agency to create a new system to track carrier safety.

Should medical malpractice claims be backed up by video?

Lately, there have been more news reports of police officers using excessive force. There is public outcry for transparency on the part of law enforcement. Using body cameras and dash cams to record officers while they work has been a proposed solution. Proponents of video use say this would not only protect the officer, it would help reach a conclusion on why certain procedures were done.

If video is becoming increasingly accepted for use by police, then why not doctors? Video of simple medical procedures, all the way up to major operations, could improve how a patient is treated and boost accountability. It may be time to bring video recording and the medical field together.

Brake Safety Week coming in September

Commercial truck drivers in Oklahoma might want to check their brakes. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week is scheduled to take place Sept. 16-22. During the event, CVSA inspectors will conduct roadside checks on commercial trucks and pull from service those with critical brake issues.

Brake violations are a common problem in the commercial trucking industry. Brakes can fail and cause accidents if they are not properly installed, inspected and maintained. In 2017, the CVSA conducted Brake Safety Day and found that 14 percent of all inspected vehicles had serious brake violations. Further, brake violations were the top reason vehicles were pulled out of service during the CVSA's 2017 International Roadcheck. In addition, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study on the causes of large truck crashes found that 32.7 percent of trucks with pre-crash violations had brake issues. The study also found that 45.5 percent of trucks involved in crashes where brakes were a critical factor had pre-crash brake violations. In comparison, 29.9 percent of trucks involved in crashes that were not brake-critical had brake violations.

More fatally injured drivers found with marijuana, opioids

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, more and more drivers in fatal car crashes are being found with drugs in their system. Oklahoma residents will want to know about the study that the GHSA has conducted regarding the issue of drugged driving.

After studying fatal car crashes in 2016, researchers found that overall, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs were discovered to have them in their system. A little over half tested positive for at least two drugs. The most common were marijuana (38 percent) and opioids (16 percent). 49 percent were discovered with both drugs and alcohol in their body.

Distracted driving a problem among select groups of truck drivers

Distracted driving remains a serious problem in Oklahoma and other parts of the country even though most states have laws in place prohibiting cell phone use while operating a vehicle. However, research suggests the problem is actually getting worse. An analysis of nearly 65 million vehicle trips found distracted driving occurred during nearly 40 percent of them. It's also an issue that extends to certain drivers within the trucking industry.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks have a crash rate that's lower than other types of vehicles. There's also research suggesting that passenger car drivers are primarily at fault for approximately three-fourths of all fatal truck and car accidents. Even with a generally good safety record, the trucking industry has problems with a subset of drivers who behave recklessly.

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