Hospitals, Police Ready for New Year

As we prepare to ring in the New Year tonight, nurses, police and emergency responders are also preparing. Homes, bars and restaurants are filled with superfluous decorations, leftover Christmas trees, lights and candles, and of course, flowing vats of alcohol. Add this to a packed-house of partygoers, and there are sure to be a few mishaps. The injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm would like to offer a few tips on how to stay out of the hospital and holding room tonight.

We recently reported on the dangers of holiday decorating injuries, which most often stem from falling from ladders or fires from lights and candles. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 15,000 Americans were injured during November – December 2012 from holiday decorating accidents, a high percentage from falls. Add a little alcohol to that equation and it spells disaster for many folks.

We’ve all been there: you get a little too excited about the start of a new year, overindulge, try to pack into a crowded place, and struggle to find your way home at the end. There is an array of obstacles in getting through these steps, such as strings of Christmas lights, drunken party guests falling and tripping, food that’s been sitting out too long, and, perhaps the most dangerous, the roadways.

One of the more strange examples I can remember is from 2009, when a drunken Santa fell on top of a woman here in downtown Chicago. “Santa” caused the woman to fall face-first into the concrete sidewalk in the Loop, ultimately leading to an injury lawsuit. She suffered from severe pain, disability and disfigurement rom the ordeal, and sued Santa for negligence and negligent battery, requesting damages over $50,000.

How to Stay Out of Trouble While Still Rocking NYE

First of all, it is important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, to recognize any dangerous situations developing around you. Drunken partygoer dancing too close to an open flame? Move that thing out of there. Your designated driver taking a shot or three? Find a new one, or slap the shot out of their hand. Intoxicated Santa stumbling uncontrollably in your direction? Move out the way!

Somewhat surprisingly, Christmas actually reports higher number of auto accidents in the U.S. than New Year’s Eve; however, the Highway Loss Data Institute estimates that there is still a 20% increase in auto accidents throughout all of December compared to the rest of the year.

Something very important to remember for those of you drinking tonight: driving with a hangover is oftentimes just as dangerous as driving drunk, and may even catch you a DUI. Two new studies, from the Netherland and U.K., respectably, prove this by having hungover participants through a number of driving tests. In the Dutch study, all participants had consumed about ten drinks the night before, and they all weaved in and out of traffic and had significantly decreased ability to pay attention.

Researchers from both studies determined that drivers were experiencing short-term alcohol withdrawal, which, combined with sleep deprivation and dehydration, led to dangerous driving conditions. Among these included delayed reaction times, inability to drive in a straight line, lapses in attention, and inconsistent speeds.

The New Year is all about a chance to do better and improve your decision making process. Tonight and tomorrow morning is the best time to start, by preventing accidents before they happen and keeping aware of the best way to handle a sticky situation. We wish you a happy, safe, and joyful New Year.

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