Marks Law Group, LLC - September 2019




I n the medical world, saving a life can be difficult, but supporting someone whose life has been altered by an injury is a whole other story — particularly if that someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury. The lives of these people are irrevocably changed, and they may have to relearn how to eat, talk, or walk and suffer from any number of other side effects. All the relearning requires coaches who provide constant guidance and support over the course of years, and that’s where we at Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse come in. My name is Cindi Johnson, and I am the founding executive director of Side by Side. Along with my administrative duties, I advocate for policy changes, raise funds, respond to medical emergencies, and help with clinical operations day to day. I do all kinds of things, and I’m thankful for my hardworking, passionate team that’s willing to wear a lot of hats. In a not-for- profit organization like Side by Side, “fast, fluid and flexible” is standard operating procedure. I’ve worked in brain injury rehabilitation since the 1980s, but I became disenchanted with the pervasive imbalance of resources when comparing saving lives to supporting lives. Quality of life was not something many insurance companies wanted to fund, and, as a cognitive rehabilitation therapist, I knew how important this matter truly is. Then I heard about the clubhouse model. Clubhouses were designed in the 1940s by people suffering from mental illness as a way to keep them out of hospitals and provide them with a community and support network. I heard of someone using the clubhouse model for people with brain injuries, and it seemed to be a way to really rehabilitate them outside of hospitals. With the help of some mentors and colleagues, we procured the funds for our clubhouse through Shepherd Center and Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. As per the agreement, the seed money those two hospitals gave us would last 2–3 years, and, once the money ran out, they would evaluate the effectiveness of our program. Well, it’s 20 years later, and we have tripled in size, bought our own building, and served over 600 people with traumatic brain injuries, as well as survivors of strokes and other brain-damaging illnesses.

The people we serve are members, not patients, because they play an active role in every aspect of running their Side by Side Clubhouse. They answer the phones, take care of the grounds, make lunch, clean the building, and get jobs in the community. They have friends and support networks, and they become contributing members of society again. But this service is not covered by health insurance. We have to raise around $400,000 a year to cover scholarship costs — and that’s where Aaron comes in. Every year, Side by Side hosts a basketball tournament called Jawbones vs. Sawbones. We invite the public to watch lawyers and doctors play basketball against the Harlem Wizards. A lot of law firms will sponsor the fundraiser, and it generates about 25% of our scholarship money for the year. Marks Law Group is a new sponsor this year, and Aaron and his son personally volunteered to make the event a success. But that’s not the only way Aaron’s firm helps Side by Side. This month, we have an annual reunion for our members’ families. We expect 100–150 people in attendance, and Aaron offered to sponsor the whole event, paying for everybody’s meals. That kind of dedication to community service is rare, and without his help, we wouldn’t be able to pay for this event. As someone who has represented people whose lives are affected by traumatic brain injuries, he truly understands the necessity of lifelong support. There are 5.3 million people in the U.S. with traumatic brain injuries, not including veterans or stroke victims, and caring for them costs around $76 billion annually. My job brings me joy on a daily basis because I get to work with people who are grateful for the second chance they get at life. Our members’ dedication to their own care is largely what makes it successful,

but Side by Side is happy to give them the tools, and we’re thankful for everyone who supports us in our mission. If you’d like to join in the effort, visit for more information. –Cindi Johnson

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Anger is a common emotion. It’s natural, and it’s a part of how you respond to certain circumstances in your environment. It’s how you express extreme displeasure. However, new research suggests chronic anger can be detrimental to your health. Essentially, it comes down to this: If you are stressed, tense, easily irritable, angry, and “snippy” all the time, you may be doing serious harm to your well-being. Studies have already shown a link between anger and the heart. People who showed signs of feeling anger on a regular basis experienced higher rates of heart disease. The first studies on the impact of anger came out in the 1950s and have since been confirmed: Chronic anger physically harms the heart. Why? When you get angry or upset, your brain triggers the release of specific hormones, including cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for triggering the “fight or flight” response. When these hormones enter the bloodstream, your heart rate increases and arteries constrict. This helps to more effectively pump blood to the arms and legs for a fight or a flight. The problem is that when a person is constantly angry or upset, these hormones course through the body more frequently, stressing the arteries and internal organs. As a person ages, this stress can become more damaging. One study that appeared in the Psychology and Aging Journal looked into this phenomenon. Researchers found that there is a link between frequently experiencing anger and increased inflammation and chronic illness for people ages 80 and older. This equated to more instances of heart disease and dementia. The study also looked at other emotions, including sadness, which has also been linked to heart and other inflammatory disease. Through a number of tests involving 200 participants ages 59–93, the researchers concluded anger was far more detrimental to a person’s health than sadness. Ultimately, if you regularly experience rage and frustration, properly dealing with your anger is one of the best things you can do for your health. Every person’s situation is different, and it comes down to getting to the bottom of what makes you angry so you can work through it, whether you work through it alone or with a mental health professional. Take the steps to prioritize your mental and physical health, and your efforts will pay off tenfold in the long run. CHRONIC ANGER, YOUR HEART, AND YOUR HEALTH HOW THIS EMOTION IS DOING YOU HARM


According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a car crash than car passengers. That being said, motorcycles are here to stay. If you or a family member ride, then you know that there are simple ways to keep yourself safe. Here are three of them. COVER YOURSELF UP Protective clothing goes a lot further than just wearing a helmet, even though that is an important part of it. Along with a helmet that comes with a face shield, always wear clothes that will protect your body if you hit the pavement at high speeds. Jackets and pants made of leather, or another type of reinforced material, along with gloves and over-the-ankle boots, should be indispensable parts of any motorcyclist’s wardrobe. 3 TIPS FOR MOTORCYCLE SAFETY GET EDUCATED Before getting out on the road for the first time, going through a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course is absolutely critical. In Georgia, riding courses include 5 hours of classroom activities and 10 hours of riding practice conducted over two or three sessions. Along with an enhanced understanding of navigating the roads on your bike, an MSF Course Completion card could earn you an insurance discount. ALWAYS BE ON THE DEFENSE Never assume drivers are completely aware of you when you’re riding your motorcycle. Two thirds of all riding accidents happen because a car turned onto a main road right in front of a motorcyclist. Always ride with your headlights on, follow from a safe distance, signal well in advance, and wear reflective clothing if you’re riding at night. While you might want to feel the wind in your hair and carefree as you careen down the road on that steel horse, you aren’t exempt from responsible riding. Practice the above tips to keep your next ride from being your last. And, if you ever find yourself in an accident, give Marks Law Group a call.



Even though overall traffic deaths fell 6% from 2008 to 2017, the number of pedestrian deaths increased by 35% in that same time period, according to a recent New York Times article. In the past two years, that number has only increased further. The evidence clearly shows there is a problem. So, that leads to two important questions: (1) What is causing the increase in pedestrian deaths? and (2) What are some solutions? A recent study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) cited a few potential causes, with some being more likely culprits than others. While older cities, like New York, were built with pedestrian traffic in mind, larger cities in the Sun Belt, like Los Angeles and Phoenix, were built for automobiles. Atlanta is a mix of both. Some city roads have become almost like freeways in terms of size

and speed of traffic, making them increasingly dangerous for pedestrians to cross. At the same time, SUVs and trucks, which are more likely to cause fatalities if they strike a pedestrian, are more popular among American motorists. According to the GHSA report, the number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs has increased 50% since 2013. Other potential causes cited in the report include increases in drunk driving, smartphone usage, and population growth. Of all possible solutions, making transportation infrastructure more pedestrian-friendly seems the most intuitive. Florida has one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths, so the state invested $100 million to improve lighting around streets to make pedestrians easier for motorists to see. The state has also made changes to its roadway design manual

to better account for pedestrian traffic. Improving safety technology in automobiles has also led to fewer pedestrian deaths. Reports from a nonprofit group showed that EyeSight, a collision-avoidance system in Subarus, led to 35% fewer pedestrian- related insurance claims. It appears that the problem is being acknowledged by parties with the power to enact solutions. But, in the meantime, five states are still responsible for almost half the pedestrian deaths in the U.S. — California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and our own state of Georgia. If your family has been affected by this epidemic, give our office a call. We can ensure you and your family are fairly compensated.




• 2 garlic cloves or scallions, peeled and sliced • 1 1⁄2 cups packed fresh herb leaves of basil, parsley, mint, or cilantro (or a combination) • 1⁄3 cup raw or lightly toasted almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans* • 1 cup grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, shredded cheddar, or crumbled feta or goat cheese

• 3⁄4 cup olive oil • 1⁄2 tsp kosher salt


1. Put the garlic, herbs, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process until well-chopped. 2. Add the cheese, oil, and salt, and process until smooth, stopping from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. 3. Use right away or transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days. *To toast the nuts, put them on a small baking sheet in an oven at 350 F until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, 5–20 minutes depending on the type of nuts.

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WWW.247LAW.COM 678-210-3954



The Side by Side Clubhouse Story


Anger May Be Harming Your Heart


Motorcycle Safety Tips


The Pedestrian Death Epidemic


(Almost) Any-Herb Pesto


The Clean Plate Conundrum


As you celebrate your last backyard barbecue, consider this: If someone puts three helpings of potato salad on your plate, would you feel pressured to finish it? According to nutrition experts, this pressure to finish your plate is making people indulge a little too much. Dubbed the “clean plate phenomenon,” this overindulgence is troubling. Researchers have discovered that people feel pressured to clean their plates even when they feel satisfied or full. Even people who don’t fill their plates all the way often reach for that last piece or second helping because “one more bite won’t hurt.” Experts speculate that this compulsion could have stemmed from habits passed down from World War II, when rationing food was required for most, or from 4 | WWW.MARKSLAWGROUP.COM

a fear of wasting food. Most people have, at some point, heard an adult say to a child, “Eat up; there are starving children in the world.” But all those “one more bites” add up. Researchers from Vanderbilt University conducted a study in which participants were served individual plates with any number of cookies piled on top. They were instructed to eat three cookies, and afterward, researchers asked each of them if they wanted more. Those who had only one or two cookies left on their plates were more likely to indulge in a fourth or fifth cookie, while those who had no cookies left or had too many cookies left said they were full.

certain parties. Studies have found that plates and portion sizes in the U.S. have increased by about 20% since the 1970s. The same psychology that propelled humans to eat just a little bit more to survive is now contributing to serious overeating and a staggering calorie intake. There are a few simple tricks you can use to break this habit. Use smaller plates or measure out your food portions so you can clean your plate without guilt. You can also get into the habit of leaving a few bites on your plate to retrain your brain that it’s okay to not finish your food. (You can use your leftover food for compost or save it for later!) With a little effort and intention, you can break free of the pressure to clean your plate.

Despite what you think about your own diet, this isn’t a problem sequestered to

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