Author Archives: stoddardfirm

Fireworks are dangerous

Fireworks Are Dangerous, Even in Responsible Hands

Every year, families across the U.S look forward to putting on their own backyard fireworks displays for Independence Day or New Year’s. Depending on local ordinances, and the type and quantity of pyrotechnics, this tradition can range from completely legal to a felony offence, but unfortunately, it’s always a serious safety hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home fireworks caused eight deaths and 12,900 injuries severe enough to require emergency room treatment in 2017. Those numbers are pretty typical, and have been since at least 2002. Accidents Are Not Always the Result of User Error Because of the questionable legality and inherent risks of fireworks, many people assume that they have “no one to blame but themselves” for firework-related injuries. Others believe that…

Pressure Cookers Can Fail Catastrophically and Unpredictably

Pressure Cookers Can Fail Catastrophically and Unpredictably

There are few things harder to render completely safe than a pressure vessel. Many products have the occasional defective unit, or a limited lifespan under the stress of normal use, but most products don’t cause second and third degree burns when they fail. Pressure cookers do, and it can be dangerously difficult to guess when that failure is approaching before it’s too late. Pressure Cooker Burns Are More Severe than Ordinary Scalding Injuries Pressure cookers were designed for canning meat and vegetables at higher-than-boiling temperatures to prevent botulism (a type of food poisoning from dangerous bacteria). They work by stopping water from evaporating and escaping at its natural boiling point, causing it to become superheated. People use them many types of recipes because their high…

The Gun Violence Epidemic Hits Georgia Families Hard

The Gun Violence Epidemic Hits Georgia Families Hard

The issue of preventing gun violence was a bitter and prominent point of contention in the 2018 midterm election, locally as well as nationally, and it’s no wonder why. As of 2016, Georgia ranked fourth in the nation in its gun violence death toll, losing 1,571 residents to shootings that year alone. Why 2016? Because those numbers come from the brief period after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when government research into gun violence was reopened by executive order. That program has since been shelved, resuming the gun violence research blackout instituted by the Dickey Amendment in 1996. This imposed shortage of hard data makes debates on the subject all the more frustrating, filled with partisanship and guesswork, but one thing is clear: the…

Parking Garages Should Be Safer

Parking Garages Should Be Safer

If you’re a woman living in Atlanta, or any big city for that matter, you’ve probably felt uncomfortable while returning to your car in a parking garage or dark parking lot. Even if you’re a man, these common settings of everyday life are inherently creepy places, isolating and full of blind corners. You may feel paranoid or laugh at yourself once you’re back on the road, but sadly, it’s not all in your head. Incidents of parking garage violence do occur with terrifying regularity in the Atlanta area alone. In March of 2018, a woman was carjacked in a parking structure while returning from her workout class in Atlanta. A group of attackers demanded her car keys at gunpoint. She handed them over and then…

Swimming Facilities Are Responsible for Keeping Customers Safe

Swimming Facilities Are Responsible for Keeping Customers Safe

Taking a swim is a great way to stay cool and keep in shape in the summer, but it’s easy to become wary of this pastime amid the many reports of fatal drowning. Here in Atlanta, the last few years have been especially rough on that front. In 2014, a 4-year-old girl drowned during a pool party at the Ansley Golf Club. A lifeguard was on duty, but apparently didn’t notice when the girl fell in. Just two years later, a 10-year-old boy drowned in the pool of the Westin Peachtree Plaza, at a birthday party for his friend. His death was made all the more sad and frustrating by the lack of information on how it happened. The Plaza’s representatives and the party’s chaperones…

Sexual Assaults at Massage Facilities: An Industry in Need of Regulation

Sexual Assaults at Massage Facilities: An Industry in Need of Regulation

While the issue of sexual assaults in massage facilities may have faded from the headlines in the past few months, it’s far from fading out of reality. The topic first became viral news in November of 2017, when the national spa franchise, Massage Envy, was accused of mishandling the sexual assault reports of over 180 female clients. Even more disturbing than the numbers were the company policies unearthed in the investigation. Massage Envy franchisees had been trained to prioritize public image and customer retention above all else. Complaints were to be handled in-house, and accusers were required to return to the scene of the crime in order for their reports to be considered credible. New Policies Serve the Same Old Purpose: Public Image Massage Envy…

A Closer Look at Premises Dangers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

A Closer Look at Premises Dangers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

Atlanta is home to the single busiest airport in the world, moving nearly 104 million passengers annually. With the city’s convenient placement and history as the birthplace of Delta Airlines, Hartsfield-Jackson has stayed the world’s most popular airport for 19 straight years. As with any such nexus of human activity, however, ensuring safety is a crucial and sizeable challenge that isn’t always met. The Most Hazardous Travel Conditions Are on the Ground Whatever our instincts may tell us, flying is statistically far safer than other forms of conveyance. However, airline passengers must make their way through several of these other conveyances on their way to and from flights, and therein lies the danger. From the moment travelers begin their journey using the services of Hartsfield-Jackson,…

Savannah Harbor Expansion Will Likely Increase Tractor-Trailer Fatalities in Georgia

Savannah Harbor Expansion Will Likely Increase Tractor-Trailer Fatalities in Georgia

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, also known as SHEP, is currently underway, with the aim of accommodating the larger container vessels expected to arrive after the expansion of the Panama Canal. In spite of some stumbling blocks over funding and necessary environmental precautions, SHEP has been a highly anticipated project, backed by bipartisan support and expected to create as many as 370,000 new jobs. Deeper clearance for larger, more heavily-laden ships will also lower shipping costs for business of all sizes, while generally keeping the Port of Savannah a bustling hub of global commerce. Unfortunately, a robust shipping economy already takes a toll on state-wide road safety, which is likely to worsen when the expansion is complete. Lapses in Judgment Cost More Lives Around Tractor-Trailers…

Georgia’s Crime Victim Compensation Program Can Provide Limited Help

Georgia’s Crime Victim Compensation Program Can Provide Limited Help

Violent crime can obviously have devastating physical and emotional consequences, for victims and innocent bystanders alike. Less often acknowledged, but just as real, are the heavy financial burdens it can leave. If you’ve been a victim or even a witness to a violent crime in Georgia, you may have more resources available to you than you realize. The Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program is specifically designed to help people who’ve been financially affected by local violent crime. Who Can Apply for Victim Compensation? To qualify for victim compensation in Georgia, the crime that affected you must have taken place in Georgia within the last three years. You’re most likely to be approved if the crime was reported to the authorities, and if one or more…

The New MARTA Expansion Should Include Money for Facility Repairs

The New MARTA Expansion Should Include Money for Facility Repairs

Last May, the plan to expand the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), using the half-cent local sales tax increase from 2016, was finally announced in detail. Some have praised the plan for promising to make the Clifton Corridor line a reality, while others have criticized it for leaving the Atlanta Beltline unfinished. Few are talking about the plan’s most dangerous shortcoming, however: a lack of emphasis on much-needed repairs and safety updates. Of the $2.5 billion in expected funding over the course of the project, only 5% has been earmarked for station enhancements, which include not only repairs but aesthetic updates as well. MARTA Facilities Already Have a Questionable Safety Record In 2010, MARTA had to fire its inspection and maintenance contractor, after a…