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What are the Penalties for Jaywalking in Texas?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

When walking along certain roadways in Texas, pedestrians might not always find a crosswalk to use to safely cross the street. Logically, one might assume that an area with no crosswalks could imply that pedestrians possess right-of-way in crossing the street in any location. This is simply not true and is in fact extremely dangerous. Assuming that you possess right-of-way as a pedestrian not only leads to illegal jaywalking, but it can also cost you your life.

What is Jaywalking?

Jaywalking refers to entering a roadway in the absence of a crosswalk. It’s dangerous to jaywalk in undesignated areas because there’s no requirement for yield to pedestrians cars on continuous streets as they are at intersections. On in-town highways, for instance, cars typically remain at an accelerated speed. In this situation there are no stop signs, speed bumps, or other regulatory means to slow down a vehicle and prevent any potential pedestrian related accidents. Colliding with a car under these conditions can spell disaster for pedestrians, who are almost always lacking in bodily protection while crossing the street.

Texas Pedestrian Laws 

Texas exercises strict laws that keep pedestrians safe when entering roadways.

  • Cars must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks. White painted lines designate marked crosswalks, like those you see at busy intersections with traffic signals. Not all intersections have painted lines, though. In unmarked areas, like those including T-intersections and stop sign intersections, pedestrians still retain the right of way.
  • Cars must yield right-of-way to pedestrians when they cross entrance gaps that cause lapses in sidewalk. For example, pedestrians retain the right-of-way when they are attempting to cross an alleyway, driveway, or building that divides the sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians must abide by traffic signals when crossing a controlled intersection. This includes traffic lights and pedestrian-specific traffic lights. Pedestrians must also obey all signage pertaining to pedestrian travel. When disobeying traffic signals, pedestrians forfeit their right-of-way privileges.
  • Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way when crossing a street in a location that does not contain an intersection. This includes situations in which the pedestrian’s location is directly across the street.
  • Pedestrians must use available, marked crosswalks when available. Neglecting to use available crosswalks forfeits the pedestrian’s right-of-way.
  • Pedestrians must not enter an intersection in which a car cannot safely slow down or stop in time to yield right-of-way.

Not adhering to these rules compromises your safety and increases your liability in car accidents. According to state law, all instances in which a pedestrian crosses a roadway without an intersection counts as jaywalking.

Penalties for Jaywalking 

Jaywalking penalties aren’t nearly as severe as car-related traffic violations, though they do exist. Texas law enforcement offers to provide education to those caught jaywalking. Those that listen generally do not receive a ticket. If an individual is not willing to educate themselves on road safety by talking to the officer, they then administer a citation. Citations usually amount to between $20 and $160.

Who is Liable When a Car Hits a Pedestrian? 

The answer to this liability question lies solely in context. A pedestrian that knowingly jaywalks, or otherwise acts in a reckless manner, do not receive protection under Texas law. This is because pedestrians only possess right-of-way privileges at intersections and marked crosswalks. However, if a car collides with a pedestrian while they are lawfully crossing an intersection, the driver will most likely possess liability.

Crossing the street as a pedestrian can be extremely dangerous in Texas. State-established crosswalk rules are meant to prevent accidents, especially because they can be fatal to unprotected pedestrians. When jaywalking means risking liability and safety when facing a car accident, the wisest decision remains to wait for a crosswalk before crossing the street.

Posted by admin at 9:55 pm

Who is Liable for Public Pool Slip and Falls?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

During the summer months, frequenting public pools to cool off is a tradition for many families across the country. Especially in extremely hot states like Texas, public pools can be a godsend for individuals that don’t have pools of their own. However fun they might be, congested public locations can pose safety risks, especially for young children. Moreover, if a public facility fails to properly warn the public about risks associated with their equipment and/or services, or provide proper maintenance to the premises, they could cause severe injury to those that trustingly enter their establishment.

What Could Go Wrong?

Though at first glance, a location might seem safe, this is not always the case. Upon further inspection, small building code violations and other instances of premises neglect reveal themselves. Some of the most common issues that cause premises-related accidents include:

  • A lack of signage designating rules, pool conditions (ex. water depth), or safety guidelines.
  • Inadequate shelving or other faulty equipment/furniture that guests interact with.
  • In public pools, this could mean leaving maintenance equipment out or neglecting to keep the pool area clean.
  • Uneven or rough surfaces that cause tripping, especially in environments that involve water. This applies to the pool’s structure, too. For example, a pool with concrete edging or tiling that lift.
  • Failing to maintain safety-related features, like railings and ladders that lead out of the pool.
  • Failing to place precautionary signs around areas that need maintenance, or areas flooded with water. 

Premises liability cases have their basis in the property owner’s negligence. If you suffered an injury caused by any aspect of an establishment that you know the owner is responsible for maintaining, you could have a valid case to file.

What is Comparative Negligence?

As mentioned above, premises liability cases are negligence based. In personal injury law, you must prove how the defendant caused your injuries. Proving negligence typically requires claimants to provide evidence that follows the same cause-effect timeline, no matter the type of personal injury case:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to provide safe services and/or products. In a premises liability case, this means the pool owner was responsible for keeping their facility safe while warning against potential hazards.
  • The defendant failed to meet this duty to maintain the plaintiff’s safety. This could be by neglecting pool facility maintenance or put up safety signs.
  • The defendant’s negligent actions directly caused the incident that injured the plaintiff. For instance, a guest might trip over uneven tiling in a pool locker room/bathroom. The defendant neglected to fix their facility’s surfaces, causing the plaintiff’s accident.
  • The plaintiff sustained verifiable injury. Claimants can prove this by providing their medical records after seeing a physician for their injuries.

Providing different forms of evidence surrounding these four key points builds a strong case on the plaintiff’s behalf.

Comparative Negligence

The state of Texas exercises comparative negligence laws. This means that each party must assume responsibility for their contribution to the accident. Law enforcement, insurance companies, or the court assigns each party a fault percentage that designates the proportion of blame each party possesses. Texas utilizes modified comparative fault, meaning you must possess less than 50% of the fault to file a claim for damages. Individuals that caused more than half the damage in an accident will most likely assume responsibility for their damages and the other party’s damages.

Who is Liable?

In premises liability cases several saving graces could save the owner from liability. For example, posted signs, rules, warnings, or other hazard-related materials throughout the facility could act in their favor when determining if the owner was negligent.

However, if there were no signs designating danger, like a sign warning about broken floor tiles, or other communication about premises safety, the plaintiff will likely possess a rating that allows them to file a claim. This means the facility’s owner is liable for all damages associated with the accident.

When entering any facility, it is the guest’s responsibility to abide by all rules and safety precautions communicated by the property’s owner. However, if they neglect to keep up their facility or provide safety regulations to their guests, they remain liable. This means you should talk to an experienced Dallas personal Injury Lawyer.

Posted by admin at 7:09 pm

What If You Are the Passenger in a Rideshare Accident?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

With companies like Lyft and Uber giving taxicab companies a run for their money in the Dallas area, the options for catching an easily accessible, affordable ride are more numerous than ever. Rideshare drivers, however, are just as susceptible to accidents as the rest of us; some would even argue rideshare drivers are more prone to distracted driving due to their constant use of the rideshare app.

What happens if you are the passenger in a rideshare accident? What are your responsibilities, and next steps?

Some Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents

Just as with any other driver, rideshare drivers experience a few common causes of accidents.

  • Drunk driving, whether on the part of your driver or another driver
  • Weather-related incidents involving slippery roads or poor visibility
  • Damaged or defective street signs or traffic signals
  • Roadways in poor condition due to construction or wear
  • Reckless driving such as turning too quickly, tailgating, or rushing through intersections, either on the part of your driver or someone else
  • Road rage, whether your driver or another driver
  • Speeding on the part of your driver or someone else
  • Defective or malfunctioning vehicle
  • Drowsy driving by your driver or someone else
  • Distracted driving by your driver or someone else

Many rideshare experts are particularly concerned about distracted driving due to unruly passengers as well as the very nature of ridesharing. Drivers must access their company’s platform to accept requests and navigate to their stop. However, use of this platform should not occur while the vehicle is in motion. Notify the rideshare company if you notice this or any of the above behaviors.

What You Should Do After a Rideshare Accident

If an accident occurs while you are a passenger, follow this checklist to ensure your safety as well as any potential compensation for your injuries.

  • If he or she has not already done so, ask the driver to move the vehicle to the side of the road or away from the flow of traffic. This ensures that you and the driver will remain safe throughout the next steps.
  • Call the local authorities. Even if the accident seems minor, a police report will document the events of the accident and establish that you were a passenger in a rideshare vehicle at that time. Stay at the scene of the accident until authorities release you.
  • Obtain insurance information for all parties involved.
  • Report the accident to the rideshare company. Most companies allow you to do so within the app in which you requested the ride. Often, the company will contact you for more information.
  • Seek treatment for your injuries. Even if your injuries seem minor, it is important to have them documented as well as to screen for hidden injuries not apparent at the time of the crash. Retain all medical bills and doctor’s statements.
  • File an insurance claim.

Who Is Liable for My Injuries?

Depending on who is at fault for the accident, a number of insurance companies could be liable for your injuries. If a third-party driver with insurance caused your accident, that driver’s insurance company would compensate you for your injuries. However, if the third-party driver did not carry insurance the rideshare company’s uninsured motorist policy would likely provide coverage.

Rideshare drivers are responsible for providing their own, state-minimum liability and PIP insurance, meant to cover passengers and other parties involved in accidents. Rideshare companies maintain their own insurance, usually in effect while the rideshare driver has a passenger onboard. However, rideshare companies are notorious for maintaining that their drivers are not employees, merely contractors that use the platform. Still, most Dallas personal injury attorneys recommend filing a claim directly with the company first.

Consult with a Dallas rideshare accident attorney to determine your next steps. An attorney with experience in the area will be well versed in handling negotiations between the multiple insurance companies that often become involved in rideshare accidents.

Posted by admin at 8:49 pm

E-Scooter Accidents and Injuries

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dallas permitted electric scooter (e-scooter) rideshare companies Bird and Lime to release about 1,000 rental e-scooters into the city in July 2018. Since then, dozens of victims have suffered road rash, facial lacerations, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries in e-scooter accidents. E-scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour. This can surprise many new riders and contribute to accidents. Negligent drivers are another major threat riders face in Dallas.

E-Scooter Injuries and Deaths in Dallas

In the first three months after rideshare scooters’ debut in July 2018, Dallas police received four motorized scooter accident reports. Not all victims called 911, however, since Dallas paramedics recorded 13 scooter accident patients in the same time period. Parkland Memorial Hospital identified 37 cases involving scooters in the last half of 2018, with a major spike after the release of rentable e-scooters. Baylor University Medical Center says at least seven scooter patients required major surgeries since July.

The first confirmed rentable e-scooter death happened in Dallas, Texas. The rider was not wearing a helmet, and suffered a fatal head injury when he crashed the scooter, potentially in a hit-and-run. The victim, Jacoby Stoneking, took a Lime e-scooter home from a restaurant on September 1st. He soon called a friend to request a Lyft, saying he had crashed and hurt his foot. When the driver arrived, however, Stoneking was lying near the broken Lime scooter and sadly, was unresponsive.

Although the details of this fatal e-scooter accident remain unknown, authorities say the scooter had broken in half when they responded to the scene. While Stoneking’s family always suspected a hit-and-run because of the severity of his injuries, another answer could be that the scooter snapped in half during use. Other reported cases of e-scooters breaking in half have surfaced around the world, making many question a possible product defect. If this is the case, Lime could be liable for victims’ damages.

What Causes E-Scooter Accidents in Dallas?

Electric scooters pose many risks to riders. They expose riders to many potential personal injuries in a crash, with no metal shell to protect the rider from hazards. Although Bird and Lime recommend riders wear helmets, no law in Dallas forces riders to do so. (The law does require helmets, however, to ride mopeds in Dallas.) Lack of helmet use, new riders who underestimate the speed of the scooter, and negligent drivers can all result in e-scooter accidents and injuries.

Drivers in Dallas are still growing used to seeing dozens of electric scooters on roads and bicycle paths in the city. Many do not understand or respect the rights of scooter riders. They may tailgate scooters in traffic, pass too closely, honk, shout, ignore the right-of-way, or otherwise threaten the safety of scooter users. This can cause serious and fatal collisions. Drivers speeding and breaking other roadway rules can also cause e-scooter accidents.

What to Do as an Injured E-Scooter Rider

If you recently rented a Bird or Lime scooter in Dallas and suffered personal injuries in a crash, you may have grounds for a claim against one or more parties. An at-fault driver could be liable for your damages, as could the scooter company, a product manufacturer, or a property owner. More than one party could share fault for your accident depending on the situation. It is up to you as the victim to protect your rights and pursue compensation through the civil system.

You are not the first person to suffer a serious injury on an electric scooter. Resources are available to help you recover fair compensation. Discuss your case with an attorney to find out if your case has merit. You may be eligible to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the at-fault driver or e-scooter company.

Posted by admin at 5:14 pm

What Are Owners Liable for in a Slip & Fall Accident on Their Property?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

When a person legally visits another person’s property, the visitor has a reasonable expectation to visit without fear of injuries. Property owners have a legal duty to ensure their properties do not pose any risks of injury to lawful visitors. They must take appropriate steps to address and correct known safety issues or at least provide adequate warnings to lawful visitors if those visitors are likely to encounter known safety issues while on the property. A personal injury attorney in Dallas can help an injured person understand his or her options for legal recourse after a slip and fall injury on private property.

Damages in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

A slip and fall lawsuit against a property owner will follow a similar framework to any other personal injury claim. The plaintiff’s attorney will need to prove that the property owner owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, failed to uphold that duty, and consequently caused the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Several types of damages are available in a typical personal injury claim.

· Medical expenses. Slip and fall injuries can cause cuts, bruises, broken bones, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and a host of other possible afflictions. A property owner who was negligent in the care and maintenance of a property and caused such injuries is liable for the victim’s immediate and future medical expenses resulting from the incident. This can include hospital bills, ambulance fees, surgical costs, and any costs for necessary ongoing treatment like physical therapy.

· Lost income. A slip and fall injury may cause the victim to miss work, and the defendant is liable for the wages lost during the victim’s recovery period.

· Property damage. If a slip and fall incident also damaged or destroyed the victim’s personal property (such as an expensive watch or smartphone), the plaintiff can claim compensation for the costs of repairing or replacing these items.

· Pain and suffering. The jury reviewing a slip and fall lawsuit will consider the plaintiff’s medical expenses as well as testimony from expert witnesses to determine a fair amount of compensation for the plaintiff’s physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental distress resulting from the incident.

· Punitive damages. In some cases, a jury may decide that a property owner was intentionally reckless or negligent beyond the scope of typical negligence and award punitive damages in addition to other damages. This discourages similar behavior in the future and the amount typically depends on the personal finances of the defendant; wealthier defendants pay more in punitive damages.

Determining Liability for a Slip and Fall Incident in Texas

Property owners are not automatically liable for any and all slip and fall injuries that occur on their property. Several factors may negate or mitigate a property owner’s liability. To succeed with a slip and fall lawsuit against a property owner, the plaintiff’s Dallas slip & fall injury lawyer must prove several conditions.

· The defendant owns the property where the incident occurred.
· The plaintiff was on the property lawfully. Property owners have no duty of care to trespassers.
· A condition on the property existed that created an unreasonable risk of harm.
· The risk of harm was foreseeable, or the property owner knew about the hazardous condition prior to the injury in question.
· The defendant failed to address the hazardous condition in a timely and/or appropriate manner, or did not take adequate steps to warn the plaintiff of the risk.
· The plaintiff suffered actual harm, such as a physical injury or economic expenses resulting from a physical injury.
· The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s damages.

When a slip and fall injury occurs on private property in the Dallas area, a Dallas slip & fall injury lawyer can help a victim recover his or her damages and hold a negligent property owner accountable. Call the law firm of Aaron A. Herbert today to learn more about our speciality practice areas.

Posted by admin at 12:29 am

What Is the Move Over Law in Texas?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Every state in the United States has some form of the Move Over Law. Although the stipulations of the law may vary by state, the main goal remains the same: to safeguard emergency personnel and others from collision when responding to jobs on the side of the road. Understanding and obeying the Move Over Law in Texas are requirements if you wish to avoid fines and penalties. Keep yourself and others safe while driving in Texas with this information.

The 2003 Texas Move Over/Slow Down Statute

Every year, workers in the U.S. die from vehicles striking them while they are working roadside. From 2003 to 2015, 1,570 workers died at roadway construction sites. Texas ranked highest in the number of these deaths, with 171 fatalities. This number only represents construction workers killed; it doesn’t refer to first responders. Each year, an estimated 12 police officers, five firefighters, and 60 state Department of Transportation (DOT) workers die in the line of duty. Many of these deaths occur while responding to roadway incidents.

Roadside worker safety is paramount in Texas and throughout the country. Improving the safety of first responders and emergency personnel starts with spreading awareness of the issue. Enforcing new laws is one of the most effective ways to get drivers to change their behaviors. In 2003, Texas passed its original Move Over/Slow Down law. The law’s language protected employees by requiring drivers to yield to certain vehicles. Yielding means to either move over to the next available lane away from the stopped vehicle or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.

The original law applied to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and tow trucks on the side of the road with emergency lights flashing. In 2013, Texas legislators expanded the Move Over Law to also include Texas DOT vehicles. Drivers must now move over for all TxDOT vehicles stopped roadside with overhead blue or amber flashing lights as well. the announcement of the expanded law pointed out that more than 100 TxDOT employees working in construction zones had died after being struck vehicles since 1938.

Renewed Enforcement of Texas Move Over Law in 2018

On January 31, 2018, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced new enforcement efforts focusing specifically on the Move Over Law. The DPS planned periodic enforcement efforts at different locations in Texas throughout the year, starting in February. Data from 2017 showed more than 10,650 citations relating to the Move Over Law in Texas alone. By ramping up enforcement efforts in 2018, the DPS hopes to catch even more rule violators and enhance the safety of roadside service providers.

As a Texas driver, it’s your duty to obey the Move Over Law. This means you must slow down and/or switch lanes to give certain vehicles plenty of room when on official duty. If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, it’s wise to move over a lane or slow down to enhance the safety of any employees present. Moving over can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to roadside workers, who could otherwise lose their lives if drivers aren’t paying enough attention and driving too close to parked vehicles.

Violating Texas’s Move Over Law could result in fines of up to $2,000. It is a misdemeanor to break this law and a more serious Class B misdemeanor if you break the law and cause bodily injury. You may face criminal and civil penalties if you break the Move Over Law and cause a collision that injures or kills on-duty Texas workers. Stay on the right side of the law and protect others by obeying the Move Over statute and always paying attention to the road.

Posted by admin at 6:50 pm

Is There a Problem With Sleep Apnea Among Truck Drivers?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the sleeper experiences obstructed airways repeatedly during sleep. Some people may have obstructive sleep apnea, in which blockages in the upper airway reduce or stop airflow. Others may have central sleep apnea, in which the brain stops sending signals for the need to breathe. Sleep apnea suffers may experience interrupted sleep and feel more tired during the day.

As someone whose career relies on the ability to safely operate heavy equipment, it is clear how sleep apnea could be dangerous. Sleep interruptions due to this condition could make a commercial driver unfit to be behind the wheel. Studies on the rate of sleep apnea among truck drivers shows disturbing trends and correlations that could put lives at risk. Get the facts on sleep apnea and commercial trucking here.

3 Risk Factors for Developing Sleep Apnea

Although anyone could develop obstructive sleep apnea, certain factors can increase the likelihood of getting this condition. Some have to do with age, while others relate to lifestyle. Your chances of developing sleep apnea increase if you have a family history of this condition or of snoring, a large neck circumference, large tonsils, and a small lower jaw. The following, however, are three of the most prevalent risk factors:

  1. Men are up to three times more likely than women to develop sleep apnea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Central sleep apnea is more frequent in men than women. However, women may increase their risk if they are obese.
  2. Being overweight has one of the most significant correlations with sleep apnea. Obesity impacts sleep apnea by constructing one’s airways with extra fatty deposits around the neck. Obesity can obstruct breathing while a person tries to sleep.
  3. Middle-age. Sleep apnea is more common in middle-aged and older adults than younger people. As sleepers age and develop conditions such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, the need to take sedatives, the risk of sleep apnea increases.

All three of these risk factors are prevalent amongst employees in commercial truck driving. The trucking industry today is mostly male, with the number of female workers driving trucks hovering only around 4-6%. Obesity is more common in truckers than other types of workers (69% vs. 31%, respectively), due to long hours sitting and having to settle for unhealthy meals on the road. Most truck drivers are middle-aged as well, with millennials statistically reluctant to join the trade. Thus, the most common factors in truck driving and sleep apnea are one in the same.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea in Truckers

The rate of sleep apnea in truckers puts everyone on the road in danger. It’s a common enough problem that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the organization in charge of commercial trucking safety, has a page dedicated to the condition. Although President Trump recently canceled the requirement for sleep apnea screening in truck drivers, it is still a serious safety risk of which everyone should be aware.

As a truck driver, learn how to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and seek help if you believe you have this condition. You can manage sleep apnea and avoid drowsy driving. As a driver, pay attention when driving around truckers in Texas. Signs of a drowsy driver include drifting between lanes, coming to sudden stops, and driving off the road.

Keep your distance from commercial trucks and call the police to report the vehicle if you see signs of erratic truck driving behaviors. If you get into an accident with a trucker who has sleep apnea, the company could be liable for your damages. Contact a Dallas truck accident lawyer for more information.

Posted by admin at 6:48 pm

How Can Parents Set an Example Against Distracted Driving?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Although the media focuses on the issue of teenage distracted driving, parents are also guilty of using their cellphones and engaging in other distracting habits behind the wheel. In 2017, 100,687 motor vehicle accidents in Texas involved distracted driving. These crashes caused 2,889 serious injuries and took 444 lives. Teens aren’t the only ones responsible for these car accidents in Texas. Parents must also take responsibility – especially when it comes to setting an example against distracted driving.

Hold Yourself Accountable

As a parent with young children or new teen drivers in the vehicle, you set the standard for what’s normal behind the wheel. If your child grows up seeing you text, take phone calls, read emails, eat, drink, groom, and do other distracting things while driving, the odds are much higher that he or she will acquire the same bad habits when it’s time to drive. You can set a positive, distraction-free example by holding yourself accountable for your actions while driving. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your child to do when it’s his/her turn to drive.

Texas law imposes a statewide ban on cellphone use for texting or other electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Other municipalities have passed additional limits on cellphone use while driving as well. Even if it weren’t against the law, a parent should never text and drive. It is one of the most dangerous forms of driver distraction, impairing a driver’s abilities to watch the road, keep hands on the wheel, and keep eyes on the road. Hold yourself to the same standards you expect your child to keep in the future.

Pull Over to Use Your Phone

If you must use your cellphone for non-emergency purposes, pull over in a safe location (such as a parking lot) to write your text or make your phone call. This teaches kids in the vehicle that they only safe time to use a cellphone while driving is when pulled over – not stopped in traffic. Otherwise, use hands-free technology such as auto-reply to respond to texts or answer calls while driving. Waiting until you get home to respond to emails or texts can show your children that nothing is more important than safety.

Use an Anti-Distracted Driving App

Apps are available to help you avoid distracted driving. However, don’t expect your teen drivers to download anti-distracted driving apps if you don’t use them yourself. Download apps such as LifeSaver or Mojo as a family. Download it on every driver’s phone in the household, including you and your spouse. That way, teen drivers won’t feel like the app is a punishment or something only they should use. Apps can hold the entire family accountable for safe driving.

Give 100% of Attention to the Road, 100% of the Time

New drivers learn what to do and what not to do from watching other drivers – namely, their parents. If you often eat fast food behind the wheel, drink coffee, finish your morning grooming routine, rubber-neck accidents as you pass by, or engage in other common distracted driving habits, this will become what your children think is “normal” to do behind the wheel. You’re training future distracted drivers, even if you preach “Do as I say, not as I do.”

If you’re a prudent, attentive driver 100% of the time, however, you’re teaching the importance of safe driving. Your teen drivers may never even think of picking up their phones behind the wheel if they’ve never witnessed their parents doing it. If they’ve seen you reply to texts almost every trip for the last 10 years, however, they may be more inclined to think this behavior is safe and acceptable. Be a safe-driving role model from day one to encourage good driving behaviors in your young drivers. The future of distracted driving could rest with you!

Posted by admin at 6:43 pm

How Do Big Rig Accidents Happen in Winter?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Winter presents many challenges to drivers of all types of vehicles, but truck drivers who handle large tractor-trailers or big rigs need to be extra cautious on winter roads. Big rig accidents are some of the most damaging motor vehicle collisions possible and typically result in extensive damages for all parties involved. This winter, it’s vital for everyone to know how big rig accidents happen during the colder months. According to annual averages collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, about 21% of vehicle crashes logged over a 10-year period involved poor weather conditions.

Speeding

Speeding is generally dangerous for all drivers in any situation, but for big rigs the danger is exponentially greater. A tractor-trailer needs much more time and distance to come to a stop from high speed than a smaller passenger vehicle due to its heavy weight and large size. Speeding on roads with patches of ice or pools of water can be exceptionally dangerous. High winds also pose a risk to truck drivers driving tractor-trailers with empty trailers. These vehicles have high centers of gravity, and strong wind can be enough to cause a tip-over. Traveling at high speeds, especially around curves, compounds this danger.

Poor Visibility

It’s more difficult for all drivers to see in fog, rain, snow, or any other type of precipitation. Drivers should engage safety features such as lights and wipers as necessary and use extra caution during inclement weather. A study from AAA conducted over a five-year period concluded that rain contributed to more than 9% of crashes. Rain is dangerous, because it not only affects the quality of the road surface and vehicle tire traction but also impedes visibility.

During any type of limited visibility, all drivers should use extra caution and adjust their speeds as necessary. In some states, police have the power to conduct traffic stops if a driver is “traveling too fast for conditions.” For example, the posted speed limit on a stretch of road is 55 mph, and a driver is traveling at 52 mph during a severe storm. A police officer may conduct a traffic stop because it is too dangerous to travel at or near the posted speed limit.

Snow, Ice, and Sleet

One of the most prevalent dangers of driving in winter is icy or rain-slicked roads. Vehicles can lose traction with the road surface after hitting ice, snow, or water. Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle’s tires skim across water on the road instead of the road itself, and snow and ice accumulation can make it difficult for a driver to stop or make necessary maneuvers. Winter precipitation can easily cause multi-vehicle collisions, resulting in significant damages, and determining fault for these incidents can be difficult.

Road surfaces may also sustain damage over time from typical wear and tear, but winter weather conditions can compound the dangers such damage presents. Damaged road surfaces may weaken further from expanding and contracting water as it freezes, thaws, and refreezes, and this may cause chunks of asphalt to separate from the road surface. Infrastructure damage is a common cause of truck accidents, and winter weather is one of the leading causes of infrastructure damage in the country.

Holiday Traffic Congestion

Winter coincides with the holiday season, and that means many more vehicles on the road than usual. Additional traffic congestion naturally leads to a higher risk of accidents, and there are generally more private and commercial drivers on the roads. Tractor-trailers help many companies restock their products for holiday shopping and several delivery services including UPS, FedEx, and the USPS handle the vast number of holiday gifts sent through the mail. This means not only are more private individuals driving passenger cars during the winter, vastly more large trucks and commercial vehicles are on the road as well.

It’s wise for all drivers to use extra caution during holiday season travel. Plan trips before leaving and take care in unfamiliar areas. Always drive defensively, and if you don’t feel comfortable driving in inclement winter weather, wait for conditions to improve before driving, if you can.

Posted by admin at 10:49 pm

What Should I Know About Commercial Truck Black Boxes?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

While many Americans are aware of black boxes in aircraft that can record flight data to help determine the cause of a crash, few may know that many commercial trucks feature black boxes as well. Most black boxes feature fireproof materials and multiple safeguards that allow them to survive even catastrophic crashes.

Black boxes record different types of vehicle data including speed, direction of travel, electrical interference, any disturbances to the vehicle’s systems, impacts, fuel consumption, and countless other variables that may contribute to crashes. Investigators often rely on black boxes to determine how catastrophic vehicle accidents happen when no one survives to offer a statement. They can also play a significant role in litigation for a commercial truck accident.

Black Boxes Help Prove Liability for Trucking Accidents

Modern tractor-trailers manufactured since the 1990s feature electronic control modules (ECMs) built into their engines. ECMs function very similarly to the black boxes found in commercial airliners and can help determine the cause of an accident. Commercial truck black boxes typically record and store data for a specified amount of time, usually 30 days. The black boxes can track a truck’s gas mileage, average RPMs, time spent traveling at high speeds, overall speed, idling time, airbag deployment, hard stops, GPS coordinates, and many other variables.

Truck manufacturers originally designed ECMs to discourage fraudulent warranty claims but ECMs have recently been more valuable as evidence in truck accident claims to help determine liability. Trucking companies can compare ECM data to driver logs to help with these investigations, and it’s important for injured claimants in truck accidents to secure legal representation as soon as possible. An attorney can help ensure a trucking company preserves potentially crucial black box data for use in a future lawsuit.

Most states generally uphold that the data contained in an ECM is the property of the vehicle’s owner. If a trucking company owns a truck involved in an accident, the trucking company technically has the right to destroy the ECM data. However, some states have enacted laws that prevent trucking companies from destroying ECM data when clear evidence that the data could be crucial to an official investigation exists. Trucking companies may also use tracking modules for their vehicles that record and store additional types of data. An attorney may request protection of these types of recording devices if they contain hours of service logs, pick up and unload times, or other data vital to an ongoing case.

How Can a Black Box Influence My Lawsuit?

A plaintiff’s attorney in a truck accident claim can file for a court order preventing the destruction of crucial data in a truck’s black box or ECM. If the truck driver or the trucking company is liable in any way for the plaintiff’s damages, the ECM data can help establish liability for all parties involved. For example, imagine a plaintiff suing a trucking company after claiming the truck driver made an illegal lane change and crashed into the claimant’s vehicle.

The ECM data may show that the truck’s computer logged a turn signal use right before the collision, countering the claim.

ECM data from consumer vehicles may also come into play in these cases. Many auto manufacturers include systems to record travel and crash data for use in investigations. Following the previous example, the claimant’s vehicle’s ECM data may show the claimant was traveling 20 mph over the speed limit immediately before the crash, establishing the claimant is at least partially liable for the incident.

If you are unsure if or how a black box could come into play for a truck accident claim, your attorney is the best resource for additional information. Your attorney can also file subpoenas for crucial data that can improve your odds of succeeding with a truck accident injury claim and handle insurance issues. Truck accidents often result in significant damages, and a black box is likely to be one of the most crucial forms of material evidence that will come into play in a truck accident lawsuit.

Posted by admin at 10:45 pm