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Be skeptical of any initial settlement offer from insurers

Carrying insurance is a means of protecting yourself against financial losses related to automobile accidents, health issues or other unexpected problems you may experience. Most people assume that insurance companies will take care of them in a worst-case scenario, but that simply isn't always the case.

Whether you are dealing with your own insurance company over a serious claim or a insurance company representing another driver, a product manufacturer or a medical provider, be careful. Insurance companies may take great pains to reduce their financial liability by any means necessary. That could include tricking you into admitting fault when you aren't responsible or trying to coerce you into settling for less compensation than you deserve.

New bill may help prevent side underride crash fatalities

A side underride crash occurs when a car collides into the side of a truck and slides underneath it. Since a car's safety features are rendered useless in such crashes, the fatality rate for underrides is high. About 200 people are killed every year in these types of accidents. Illinois drivers should know, however, that members of Congress proposed a bill in December 2017, called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017.

The bipartisan legislation, which calls for the mandatory use of sideguards on all commercial trucks, will be sent to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for consideration. There are two ways that the bill's intentions could be carried out: either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could issue a new regulation or Congress could order the Department of Transportation to do so.

Dealing with aggressive drivers and road rage

While most motorists are safe, there are also many aggressive drivers on the Illinois roadways. The important thing is to avoid aggravating those drivers even more. The following are a few tips for diffusing road rage.

First, drivers must stay calm. Some techniques, such as listening to soothing music, can be helpful. Remembering that anger will not help matters could also be salutary. Most people are aware that road rage can have a negative effect on the body; even gripping the steering wheel in anger can result in constricted blood flow and headaches. Second, drivers must never make eye contact with the other driver, honk the horn, flash high beams, make hand gestures or do anything else that be taken as a provocation.

Robotic system for breast biopsies is in development

Because of human error and the inadequacies of current surgical technology, breast biopsies can provide inaccurate results. Illinois women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer may be interested to know that a 3D-printed robotic system that is being developed can transform how biopsies are conducted and can increase the accuracy of the procedures and breast cancer diagnoses. The research that is producing this new technology could affect medical laboratories and surgical pathology around the world.

The robotic system, Stormram 4, is being developed by researchers in the Netherlands. Surgeons would use the system to excise biological specimens while conducting an MRI scan, similar to the existing biopsy procedures. However, the robotic system, which uses one, thin biopsy needle, will provide sub-millimeter precision that can target on the lesion inside the breast tissue on the first try. The time it takes to conduct a biopsy using the system is significantly shorter than the time for the existing procedure and allows MRI scanner technology to be used more efficiently.

Common causes of car crashes

There are roughly 6 million car accidents in the United States each year. In 2015, there was an 8 percent increase in the number of crash fatalities, and there were roughly 40,000 crash fatalities in 2016. However, it may be possible for Illinois residents and others to learn how to avoid being the victim of such an event. It is important to recognize that anyone can get into an accident regardless of his or her perceived skill level behind the wheel.

Based on scientific research, there are six common scenarios that cause accidents to occur. The first such scenario is making a rolling turn at a red light. Accidents happen in this situation because drivers are moving their vehicles to the right while turning their heads to the left, which makes it impossible to see anything coming from the right side. It is believed that 21 percent of fatal crashes occur because a driver fell asleep.

Audi recalls more than 50,000 due to gas line issues

For many Americans, European vehicles are synonymous with elegance and wealth. Many of the best known European brands are considered luxury vehicles, and driving them announces affluence and success in certain circles.

Sadly, just because more expensive vehicle brands come with a certain degree of prestige does not mean they are immune from manufacturing issues and product recalls. Any vehicle could potentially include faulty components, which could increase the risk of an accident and injuries or fatalities to drivers. Audi is currently in the process of recalling roughly 52,000 vehicles due to a serious flaw that poses a risk to drivers.

Durotomy and medical malpractice

Durotomy refers to small tears made in the spine's outer membrane, or dura mater. It is sometimes an inevitable result of surgery, though it does not lead to long-term problems if caught and treated in time. When the dural tears are not caught in time or reopen after the second surgery, it can lead to a medical malpractice suit. Illinois patients might want to know about a study analyzing the factors that tip the scales in such lawsuits.

Published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, the study looked into 48 malpractice cases found on three legal databases. Half were filed by males and half by females, and the average age of the plaintiffs was 55 years. The allegations included delays in durotomy diagnosis and treatment, and the injuries ranged from physical weakness to serious conditions like paralysis, brain damage, and even death. The authors found that 27 of the claims ended in verdicts favoring the surgeons, and over 80 percent of those victims with non-neurological complications did not receive any compensation.

Long commutes by truck drivers to be studied by FMCSA

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, excessive commuting is any work commute in excess of 150 minutes. The FMCSA is gathering information regarding the commutes of commercial motor vehicle drivers in Illinois and other states in an effort to meet the requirements of Section 5515 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. Section 5515 requires a study of the effects of excessive commuting by motor carriers.

Long commutes may negatively impact the ability of commercial drivers to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Specifically, excessive commutes may compromise a driver's off-duty time or impact the driver's health. Drivers who have long commutes have less time to sleep or relax while off-duty. Such compromises may lead to fatigue behind the wheel. A study of 4,297 people who commute to work found that drivers who have long commutes are more likely to have high blood pressure and poor cardiovascular or physical health.

Hospital medication errors

Illinois emergency room patients might be less susceptible to medication errors when a pharmacy professional gets a drug history from them. A study by Cedars-Sinai found that there was more than an 80 percent drop in mistakes compared to when nurses or doctors took the history. The study examined more than 300 patients who were taking at least 10 drugs and had a history of at least one serious condition.

Medication errors are common and can be fatal. They include the wrong dose, the wrong frequency or the wrong drug, and electronic health records do not appear to be the right solution. Errors introduced there can be carried over permanently. One advantage of using pharmacy professionals is that taking the patient's medical history is their only job while nurses and doctors must take medical histories and treat the patient. For high-risk patients, Cedars-Sinai uses pharmacy professionals.

Study links Pokémon Go to traffic accidents

With the rise in smartphone usage, distracted driving is increasingly becoming a problem among drivers in Illinois and across the United States. "Pokémon Go," the smartphone-based game that launched in July 2016 and became a worldwide phenomenon, has also contributed to the increase in distracted driving accidents, according to a recent study.

Conducted by two Purdue University professors, the study showed how the number of car crashes increased in the days following the release of "Pokémon Go," especially at intersections near a Pokéstop. After analyzing nearly 12,000 crash reports made in Tippecanoe County, Ind., the researchers found that there were 26.5 percent more accidents in these intersections.