Trading Places – When It Becomes Necessary to Tell Your Elderly Parents to Stop Driving

There sometimes comes a point in the relationship between adult children and their parents that you begin to notice a shift in power.  Suddenly, the people whose favorite words were “because I said so” are the ones being counseled on their decisions.  Role reversal is an extremely difficult change for parents, but it is no less intense for the adult child.  One of the areas this shift becomes the most unpleasant is when the child needs to tell a parent they should no longer be driving.

Driving often equates to independence.  Take away the keys and you limit personal freedom.  Obviously when faced with the option of not being able to come and go as they choose, often the result is the parent chooses not to go down without a fight.  Still, there are warning signs that a parent has arrived at that fork in the road when it becomes necessary to find other ways of getting around.  AARP lists the following warning signs:


  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Going through stop signs or red lights
  • Reacting slowly
  • Problems seeing road signs or traffic signals
  • Straying into other lanes
  • Going too fast or too slow for safety
  • Exhibiting problems making turns at intersections, especially left turns
  • Performing jerky stops or starts


If you see these signs on a consistent basis, it is necessary to have that dreaded, forthright discussion with your parents.  When you decide it’s time, there are a few basic rules to follow.  The first is watching your approach.  Things may get loud, but avoid using a nasty tone, criticizing them, or making them feel inadequate.

Don’t make discussion of their deteriorating driving abilities a head on collision.  Try bringing it up indirectly by mentioning you read an article about problems older drivers have or perhaps you know of someone who decided to stop driving.  Ask them if they’ve noticed changes in their own abilities.  Then talk about ideas of how they can get around and not feel housebound.  This will necessitate having an action plan in place with family and friends as to who will be available to drive your parents to their regular activities. Get everybody involved so that it isn’t just the responsibility of one or two drivers.  Also, include in that plan any public, private and community transportation services available.  Be sure to investigate public buses, subways, taxis, private drivers for hire, senior transportation services and volunteer driver services.

Be understanding if your parents resist change.  It may require more than one discussion to finally get them to relinquish the keys.  However, you do need to remain firm without being harsh.

Finally, if your parents insist on continuing to drive, ask their doctor, their clergy, or a close family friend to speak with them.  Sometimes it’s easier for parents to accept advice from an outside source than it is for them to accept it from their children. AARP notes on their web site that, “As a last resort, you can contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles and report unsafe driving.  Most states will contact older adults and have them take a driving test, revoking their license if necessary.”

Take Three Steps to Controlling Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Controlling workers’ compensation costs is not as difficult as you may think. The secret is a three-step approach that is firmly grounded in common sense: avoid injury claims, use proper industry classification codes for your employees, and find an insurance agent with experience in workers’ compensation coverage.

It sounds like a clichГ(c) to say that avoiding claims is a way to control costs. It’s such a simple concept, but it is actually made up of several complex components. The first is properly training new employees to perform their jobs safely. This requires developing a written program that is presented to all new hires during their initial orientation. This can be a difficult process, especially if you don’t have someone who is trained to design and implement training.

If you need help to develop a program, you can find it through OSHA’s Outreach Training Program. This is a voluntary train-the-trainer program through which OSHA develops trainers who are authorized to teach construction and general industry occupational safety and health standards and policy. For information regarding trainer certification requirements for the construction industry, course guidelines, training tips etc., You can also find information about locations offering this certification training.

Once you have conducted the initial training, it’s important to maintain safety awareness. You need to continually remind your employees to practice safety by posting reminders in common areas and holding meetings to discuss the specific issues affecting workers. These meetings are a good way to discover emerging problems and to brainstorm possible solutions. Employees who are part of the solution development process are more likely to buy into the process.

The other element you need to incorporate into a program that will successfully lower the number of on-site accidents is responsibility. Safety is the job of every employee, regardless of job title. Keep in mind that in the majority of states, workers’ compensation is “no fault.” Injuries that occur in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation insurance no matter what caused the accident, including employee negligence. It is essential that you continually create an environment where employees take ownership for maintaining a safe workplace. A good way to encourage this is to provide incentives like raises or extra time off for employees who make it a habit to work safely.

The second step in the three-step program is to properly classify your employees. There are more than 600 job classification codes and each one is associated with the level of risk necessary to perform that job. Never use one code for all of your employees and always use the most recent edition of the classification codebook for your state. If you don’t take the time to properly classify your employees, you may actually increase your workers’ compensation rates by assigning codes that have more risk than your employees face.

The last step in the strategy is to find an insurance agent that specializes in property and casualty insurance, particularly workers’ compensation. This person will be able to design a program that not only meets state mandates, but also offers you the best value for your premium dollar.

Tips to Reduce Insurance Premiums for Your Teenage Driver

While most parents would prefer to keep their teenagers off the road, you probably won’t have much success encouraging them to withhold from getting that long awaited ticket to freedom. 

Unfortunately, because teenagers are at a higher risk for traffic accidents and tickets, their insurance rates can easily be 50 to 75 percent higher than their parents.  Furthermore, premiums for teenage drivers generally won’t be significantly reduced until they turn 25, get married or both.  In the meantime, they’ll stand to save money by having themselves added to your insurance policy instead of getting their own policy.

Here are some ways to reduce car insurance premiums, courtesy of the Independent Insurance Agents of America:

  • Make sure your teen stays in school and studies to make good grades. Many insurers offer discounts to good students.  A “B” average or better in school carries a lot of weight in keeping insurance costs down.
  • Sign up your teen for a supplementary driver’s education course.  Many insurers will offer a discount to offset your investment.
  • If your teen will be driving a family car, designate one vehicle he or she will drive.  Otherwise, the insurance company will calculate the premium based on the highest risk vehicle covered by your policy.
  • Consider a higher deductible. Moving from a $250 to $500 or $1,000 deductible can save you 10 to 20 percent on your premium.  Consider whether you can absorb the extra out-of-pocket expense in the event of an accident.
  • Reward safe driving.  More than anything else, an accident- and ticket-free driving record will keep your premiums at their lowest.

Study Reveals Number of Workplace Lawsuits Decreasing

Each year, Jackson Lewis Law Firm conducts a Workplace Survey during law conferences around the country, asking several questions concerning legal disputes and other situations that arise in a workplace.  The most interesting results for 2005 include the following:

  • Fewer lawsuits were brought against companies in 2005.  On the survey, only 49% of the participants said that they had experienced a lawsuit in the past year.  In 2004 and 2003, 57% of the companies had been sued.
  • The most popular lawsuit was gender discrimination.  51% of those sued cited gender discrimination as the cause. Racial discrimination was 45%, age discrimination was 40%, disability discrimination was 40%, and nationality discrimination was 17%, which were relatively unchanged from the 2004 survey.
  • Sexual harassment complaints are decreasing.  48% of the participants said there were no reports of sexual harassment at their companies. This is down 4% from 2004, and 11% from 2003.
  • Sexual harassment prevention training is more prevalent. 90% of all companies surveyed provide mandatory sexual harassment training, up from 71% in 2004 and 56% in 2003.
  • Drug and alcohol testing has become routine.  62% of all companies surveyed conduct drug and alcohol testing, with 91% conducting testing on a pre-hire basis.

Do Not Fall Prey to a Staged Auto Accident

As if it wasn’t painful enough to be found at fault in an auto accident, imagine finding out that it was not an “accident” after all.  Each year thousands of drivers become victims of staged auto accidents, and most never realize it.  Criminals plan the accident to appear as the innocent driver is at fault, and then file claims for vehicle damage and personal injury to the at fault driver’s insurance company.

The CPCU Society and the National Insurance Crime Bureau offer the following safety tips to help avoid these scams:


  • When driving look beyond the car in front of you. If you see traffic slowing, start applying the brakes – don’t wait for the car in front of you to brake first.
  • Allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you so you have time to react to sudden stop.  The general rule is one car length for every ten miles per hour traveled.
  • Be especially careful when turning into a lane that allows for two vehicles to turn left simultaneously. People committing staged collisions often prey on cars that cross the center line, purposely sideswiping the victim’s car.
  • Call the police to the scene and get a police report, even if damage is negligible. If the police report describes the resulting damage as minimal, it will be harder for the criminal to inflict further damage to their car afterwards and collect a larger claim.
  • Carry a disposable camera in your glove compartment and take as many pictures of the other car and its passengers as possible.
  • If you suspect a scam, call the NICB hotline at (800) TEL-NICB.


Proper Treatment, Proper Place: The Key to a Smooth Workers’ Compensation Procedure

The longer an injured employee is out of work, the harder it is to return to their job, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.  Employers are also generally unaware that the time that lapses between an injury and the filing of a claim significantly increases the resulting costs. The Hartford Research Study in 2004 found that claims filed over a month after the injury cost an average of 48% more to settle than those reported in a timely fashion.  The study also found that even a delay of a week results in 10% more costs.  The delay in a claim could also delay the treatment, which could add to the cost of medical care and wage replacement.  The best strategy is to implement a 24-hour injury response process.

However, the duty of the employer does not end with the filing of the claim.  It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employee receives appropriate care, for the benefit of both parties.  Proper medical care that can still keep the employee in the normal routine of coming to work is the key to maintaining an injured employee.  However, even if a physician or provider is credentialed through a network, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are familiar with injury management, or are aimed at returning the employee to work as soon as possible.

Factors to evaluate the appropriateness of a provider are:


  • Availability of case management
  • Use of standardized work restriction forms
  • Ability to identify ergonomic job risks
  • Treatment guidelines in the care of the injured worker
  • Willingness to coordinate and manage treatment and rehabilitation to facilitate a speedy recovery and return to work.


This is also an important step in establishing effective employer-employee relations, because when employers take on this responsibility, they will be able to:


  • Improve access to care that results in early treatment and speedier recovery
  • Establish origin of injury: is it really a workers’ comp claim?
  • Improve effectiveness of treatment
  • Reduce claim costs
  • Show your employees that you value them and are committed to their return.


Lower claims costs and a quick, effective recovery benefit all parties involved, and will maintain both your worker satisfaction as well as the productivity of your company.

SUVs and Your Teenager – A Bad Combination

By now, most of us are aware that SUVs have a greater chance of rolling over in a single vehicle accident than cars.  You’re also probably aware of what type of vehicle your teenager wants to drive.  But before you purchase a SUV for your teen, you should be aware of the increased safety danger they pose for inexperienced drivers.

A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study recently looked at SUV rollover tendencies in conjunction with teen driving habits to conclude that a SUV may not be the safest vehicle for your teenager.  Between 1999 and 2001, 37% of SUV drivers under age 25 were involved in single vehicle accidents that resulted in a rollover.  Compare that to the 30% rollover rate in single vehicle accidents among all drivers and you can readily see the safety concern.

Parents commonly think that with SUV’s height and weight being greater than a regular car, their teenager will be better protected behind the wheel.  The facts show otherwise.  Putting your teen in a SUV may actually compromise their safety.

A common type of accident for young drivers is one where a single vehicle runs off the road.  This type of accident usually involves a change in grade or road surface, causing the vehicle to begin to roll over.  A SUV’s higher center of gravity, coupled with a teenage driver’s lack of experience behind the wheel increases the chance for a serious accident in this scenario. 

Federal data indicates that in 2003, 6.4% of drivers on the road were teens, yet they were 14% of drivers involved in fatal accidents.  Of the almost 4,000 under 20 year-old drivers killed, 53% were not wearing seat belts and almost 31% had been drinking.  In response, most states have instituted graduated licensing for young drivers.  While this has helped curb the number of accidents involving teen drivers, the type of vehicle your teen drives can further reduce those numbers.

The Michigan study noted that almost half of SUV rollovers start with a sideways slip and loss of control.  This type of scenario is more difficult for a young driver to negotiate successfully due to their lack of experience.  Electronic stability control may help correct a sideways slip, but not all SUVs are equipped with that feature.  In addition, the study found that a greater chance of rolling over exists if the driver was drinking, had two or more passengers, was driving through a curve, or was traveling on a high-speed road. 

When considering a vehicle for your teenager, the safest car is the one they don’t want to drive – a large, low-power car.  Whatever type of vehicle you choose for your teen, it is important to consider the conditions your child will likely come across and their ability to react to those conditions.  If you do choose a SUV, consider providing your child with the additional resource of a defensive driving or accident-avoidance course.  The money you spend educating and protecting your teen will be worth it in the face of the elevated risks they face by driving a SUV.

Court Rules Undocumented Worker Eligible for Workers’ Comp

In a July 2006 ruling, New York’s 3rd Appellate Division ruled that The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) doesn’t automatically pre-empt the New York Workers’ Compensation Board practice of ignoring immigration status in determining workers’ compensation eligibility. The IRCA, enacted in 1986, requires employers to only hire persons who may legally work in the U.S., such as citizens and nationals of the U.S. and authorized aliens. The employer must verify the identity and employment eligibility of anyone hired.

In the case of Jose Hernandez vs. Excel Recycling Corp., Hernandez filed for workers’ compensation benefits after he was injured in August 2003 while working for Excel Recycling Corporation. At a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge, he admitted to buying his Social Security card to obtain work in the United States. In spite of this admission, the judge established the case for injuries to the claimant’s back, left leg and left foot, and awarded him benefits. Excel and its workers’ compensation carrier, the State Insurance Fund, applied to the Workers’ Compensation Board for review of the decision. They asserted that benefits should not be awarded because Hernandez is an undocumented alien who is not legally authorized to work in the United States. The Board denied the application because the issue was not raised when the case was brought before the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge.

The carrier appealed, arguing that the Immigration Reform and Control Act as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in Hoffman Plastic Compounds vs. National Labor Relations Bd. pre-empts the Board’s policy of disregarding immigration status in determining eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. The carrier admitted that the issue of the law’s applicability here was not originally raised before the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge. However, the carrier maintains that the Board was incorrect in declining to include the issue because it is a matter of law. The appeals court rejected the argument that the IRCA applied and agreed that the board is not obligated to consider an issue that was not raised before the Workers Compensation Law Judge at the time of the original hearing. Hernandez’s original benefit award was upheld.

Boost and Buckle – Using Child Booster Seats

Most parents are readily aware of the need for car seats for their infants and toddlers.  Unfortunately, many parents are either unaware of or ignore recommendations that call for booster seats for older children.  In fact, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children age six to fourteen with children ages five to fifteen properly restrained only 68.7 percent of the time.  Additionally, over 47 percent of fatally injured children ages four to seven were completely unrestrained. 

NHTSA has made several important recommendations for children aged five to fifteen.  Every child between 40 lbs. to 80 lbs. and less than 4’9” tall should be restrained in a booster seat.  Children fitting these descriptions are usually ages four to eight.  In addition to those guidelines, any child who cannot sit with their back flat against the seat and their knees bent over the seat edge should use a booster seat.  Make sure to use both a lap belt and a shoulder belt when securing your child in his booster seat.  Never put the shoulder belt behind the child’s arm or back.  Instead of helping the child feel more comfortable, this improper use of restraint can cause severe injury in a crash.  Use only an approved booster seat that is secured to your vehicle following the manufacturer’s specifications.  And lastly, never place a child in any type of safety or booster seat in the front seat of your vehicle if it is equipped with an air bag.  By following these guidelines, you can ensure that, at any age, your children are as safe as possible when traveling with you.