Earlier today, a 15 passenger van wrecked in Florida killing eight people on board and critically injuring five others. This crash like most other cases involving passenger vans will have a number of key issues including:

  1. Were the occupants wearing their seatbelt? It has already been reported that a 4 year old child was not in a car seat. We also know 18 people were in a 15 passenger van so at a minimum 3 of them were not wearing their seatbelt. In serious accidents, especially frontal crashes, the components of the seatbelt system will have “witness marks” on them if the occupant was wearing a seatbelt. The D-ring, the webbing of the belt and latch will also show signs of load caused by a combination of the accident forces and the occupant’s body weight. While the failure to wear a seatbelt is not admissible in the typical motor vehicle accident claim, it is admissible in a product liability claim.
  2. Were there any mechanical issues with the vehicle or its tires? One of the accident victims has reportedly indicated the driver did not notice a curve in the road and then could not stop in time. So obviously the braking system will be analyzed and likely the tires too. As explained here, churches often fail to adequately maintain their tires.
  3. What were the qualifications of the driver? Under Florida law (and Tennessee too), a commercial driver’s license or CDL is required to drive any vehicle transporting 16 people or more, including the driver. Did the driver have poor safety record such that the church was
  4. negligent in allowing him to drive its vehicle?
  5. Did the church have adequate insurance on the vehicle? Are any of the accident victims covered by underinsured motorist coverage?
  6. Was speed an issue in the crash? Accident reconstructionists can measure both the skid marks left by the vehicle’s tires as well as the crush or damage to the vehicle and accurately state the speed at the time the crash sequence began.
  7. Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the crash? While DUI accidents are down, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued two reports that show drugged driving (both prescription and illicit medications) are on the rise.

If you would like to discuss a church van or passenger van accident, please contact us at toll-free at  866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers.

This week, the International Society of Barristers (ISOB) inducted John Day as a fellow.  The ISOB is dedicated to preservation of the adversary system, the right to jury trial and an independent judiciary.  Membership is by invitation only and includes a rigorous screening process involving both judges and fellow lawyers.  The ISOB extends membership to those lawyers “of exceptional talent, whose qualities including integrity, honor and collegiality embody the spirit of the true professional”.  Of course, those of us at the Law Offices of John Day have always known that John possesses these traits but we are certainly pleased that the prestigious ISOB has recognized it as well.  Congratulations, John! 

The 2015 Men’s SEC Basketball Championship kicks off tomorrow, March 11th at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.  Big wins and upsets are known to cause fans to storm the court in celebration, and many coaches and fans think storming the court is good for the game.  But, the melee that follows can result in injuries to fans, players, coaches and referees.  Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has expressed concern about potential for harm as a result of fans storming the court.  And serious harm has occurred in court storming.  For instance, a high school basketball player, Joe Kay was left paralyzed after fans stormed the court following his breakaway dunk to secure a win in a rivalry game.

Storming the court has been a fineable offense in the SEC since 2004.  The SEC rule states: “For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.”  The first offense fine is $5,000.  Additional incidents are fined incrementally at $25,000 and $50,000.   The fine is paid by the school.

Ultimately, it is the school and venue’s responsibility to ensure adequate security is on hand to police the crowd and prevent harm from occurring.   If they don’t and someone is harmed, liability could ensue.  So, enjoy the game, root like heck for your team, but don’t storm the court. 

After all, wouldn’t you rather act like you have won before and expect to win again?  

The past year was a record year for vehicle recalls with over 62 million vehicles recalled.   In the General Motors ignition switch recall alone, there have been 4,345 claims made including 479 death claims and 292 “Category One” claims which require an injury involving permanent brain damage, paraplegia, quadriplegia, severe burns or double amputation. The remaining 3,574 “Category Two” claims involve injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours after the accident. 

If you are the registered owner of a recalled vehicle, then the manufacturer, with oversight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will notify you that your vehicle contains a safety defect and provide instructions on how to get it repaired. But what about when you rent a vehicle? How are you supposed to know if all recalls have been addressed before you put yourself, your friends or your family in the vehicle? 

Here is an easy solution to the dilemma: before you accept the car the rental car company assigns to you, quickly run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on www.vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/. If there are open recalls on the vehicle, alert the rental car agency to the problem and ask for a different vehicle. Typically, you will find the VIN in several places including: the driver’s side dash by the bottom of the front windshield (this location is easier to read outside the vehicle), the engine block, underneath the spare tire and the driver’s side door post (open the driver’s side door for this location).  

I know some of you may think this is unnecessary because the rental car agency will surely address any recalls for vehicles in their fleet. But incompetence can happen anywhere and one only need to routinely rent cars as part of your job to know it happens with some degree of frequency at rental car counters and garages.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, EMS workers will respond to roughly 37 million emergency calls in a given year, and they will treat and transport approximately 28 million people. Emergency medical personnel must quickly assess the accident scene and victim, determine and provide what the patient needs and record their assessments, care and the patient’s response. Victims and bystanders can help make the job of EMS workers easier and more efficient by following the steps below:

1.     Stay calm.

2.     Provide as much information as possible about the accident scene location using mile markers, intersecting roads, landmarks.

3.     Send someone, if possible, to flag down the ambulance or rescue squad so they can locate the scene quicker.

4.     Clear the path, if necessary, to the victim.

5.     Do not move the victim, unless they are in danger.

6.     Keep the victim as calm and comfortable as possible.

7.     Provide basic first aid if you are able and willing.

8.     Respond completely and honestly to all questions asked by the EMS workers.

9.     Take note of significant events such as when a victim loses consciousness, etc.

10. If you have a significant medical history, consider using one of the available apps to record your medical conditions, allergies, medications, etc. Or alternatively, do it the old-school way by writing it down so it is easily accessible in case you are shaken up or unconscious following an accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your legal options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, call one of our award-winning lawyers anytime at 866-812-8787

For more information on this issue, click on one of the links below:

What To Do Following An Accident

What Are the Deadlines For Filing A Lawsuit in Tennessee?

How To Select A Personal Injury Attorney

How Much Do You Charge and What Do I Have To Pay to Pursue My Case?

The Tennessee Legislature is trying to get tougher with uninsured motorists in our State, which currently ranks sixth in the nation for the number of uninsured drivers. The proposed bill would triple the fines for failing to have insurance (from $100 to $300). If a driver could not provide proof of insurance, the bill provides for the car to be towed and the tags be seized. In addition to the increased fines, once the insurance was obtained, the driver would also have to pay reinstatement fees.

Unfortunately, this legislation is not enough to protect you. Increased fines are unlikely to deter uninsured drivers from getting on the roadways. Most people who drive uninsured do so because they simply do not have the funds to purchase auto insurance.  Their monthly budgets just cannot be stretched to include it. Then they should not be driving, you may say. I understand that, but when you live too far away to walk to your job and other basic services (doctor, grocery store, pharmacy, etc.) then most folks will cross their fingers, get in their car and hope for the best.  They are gambling they won’t be caught and won’t be in a wreck

But for argument sake, let’s assume this legislation will cause uninsured drivers to get insurance. The reality is that the State’s minimum limits are simply too little to provide adequate compensation to those injured and damaged in moderate to severe accidents. The State’s financial responsibility law, T.C.A. 55-12-102(12), mandates Tennessee drivers have $25,000/$50,000 auto insurance coverage.   If you and your family are hit by a driver with only minimum limits, the maximum their insurance carrier has to pay is $25,000.00 for one person and $50,000 for everyone hurt in the accident. For example, if you are driving by yourself and are hit by a driver with minimum limits and you sustain a broken back that requires surgery and leaves you unable to work for 6 months, the maximum amount you can recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance company is $25,000.   Now let’s assume you are riding with your family (wife and three kids), and you are involved in an accident with a driver who only has minimum limits, the maximum amount all of you combined can recover, regardless of the extent of your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring, etc. is $50,000.   Now do you see what I mean when I say the new legislation does not go far enough?  

So what can you do to protect you and your family? Purchase uninsured/underinsured (UN/UIM) motorist coverage.   UN/UIM coverage will compensate you for any injuries or damages caused by an uninsured driver. It will also protect you if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has insufficient coverage to compensate you for all your losses. For example, let’s say you have $1 million dollars in UN/UIM coverage and you are hit by a driver with minimum limits who leaves you totally and completely disabled from your $75K job and saddled with medical bills, your UN/UIM coverage would pay for all of the losses up to $1 million dollars that were over and above the at-fault driver’s minimum limits.

You would be surprised how inexpensive this coverage is.  I renewed my auto insurance and the $1,000,000 uninsured motorist coverage was $113.  Now, I am not saying that $113 is not a lot of money.  Of course it is.  But relatively speaking it is not inexpensive and spending this money provides protection for the occupants of my vehicle, usually my family.

Ask your insurance agent what it would cost to purchase additional uninsured motorist coverage.  And then make a decision about what amount to purchase based on your household budget. 

Since the beginning of February, the FDA has been busy with recalls related to undeclared peanut allergens.  A good number of the recalls are related to tainted cumin but not all. The foods involved are:

  1.  Pride of Szeged Sweet Hungarian Paprika (manufactured by Spiceco) 
  2. Goya and Kirby – Black Bean Soup and Black Beans with Creole Seasoning (manufactured by Goya)
  3. Whole Foods Market Divine Treasures 100,000 Smooches candy (manufactured by Whole Foods Market)
  4.  Whole Foods Market – prepared salads, tacos and seasoned meat items (manufactured by Whole Foods Market)
  5. Village Hearth, Lender’s, L’Oven Fresh and Kroger bagels (all produced by National Choice Bakery). This recall also involves tree nuts.
  6. Pepperidge Farm bagels (manufactured by Pepperidge Farms). This recall also involves tree nuts.
  7. Sara Lee, Thomas and Jewel bagels (all manufactured by Bimbo Bakeries) This recall also involves almonds.
  8. See’s Candies Classic Red Hearts and assorted chocolates (manufactured by See’s Candies). This recall also involves undeclared tree nuts.
  9. The Spice Mill Chef’s Choice Ground Cumin and Cajun Seasoning (manufactured by the Spice Mill)

Even more cumin-related recalls occurred in January.  For more details on these and other food recalls, go to http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

Food allergies can be life-threatening. In fact, approximately 1,500 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious allergic reaction to an undeclared allergen or contaminated food, we can help. Contact one of our award-winning attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consulation. Call us anytime at 866-812-8787

For more information on this subject, click on the links below:

Food Allergies

Food Label Requirements

Food Allergy Claims Against Restaurants

Food Allergies and Schools, Daycares and Preschools

Food Allergy Symptoms

Bruce Jenner of Olympic gold, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and gender transition fame was recently involved in a multi-car accident that left one woman dead. Because the accident resulted in a fatality, investigators are expected to review the cellphone records of all involved to see if distracted driving played any role in the accident.

Unfortunately, law enforcement simply does not have the necessary resources to do the same in every accident especially if a fatality was not involved. But if you hire a lawyer early and distracted driving is suspected, those records can be secured before they are lost. While the actual text message is generally stored for only days, the dates and times of texts are preserved, so it is possible to tell if someone was texting — just not necessarily what they were saying.   However, most cell phone providers will not provide this information without a subpoena, and subpoenas are only issued in pending lawsuits. 

If you contact one of our award-winning lawyers quickly after your injury accident, we can help you secure critical evidence for your case. Call us toll-free anytime at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We only get paid if we recover money for you.

For more information on this issue, click on the links below:

Distracted Driving

What To Do Following An Accident

How To Select A Personal Injury Attorney

Spoliation of Evidence in Trucking Cases

After I Hire You As My Lawyer, What Happens Next?

The 2008-2009 salmonella outbreak prompted one of the biggest food recalls in this country’s history. 714 people were sickened and 9 people died as a result of tainted food. This month, federal prosecutors are seeking criminal penalties against the corporate management of a peanut company that faked lab results and failed to recall products they knew were contaminated with salmonella.

Peanut Corp. of America supplied peanut paste to companies like Kellogg’s to be used in peanut butter crackers etc., but often had trouble meeting demand. So rather than wait two days for salmonella and other contaminant testing, the company would ship the peanut paste on the same day it was made and use old lab results to attach to the product. Just as bad if not worse, the company failed to recall their product if testing revealed it was tainted. 

As evidenced by this case, the effects of food poisoning can go way beyond diarrhea and general malaise. It can cause serious injuries and even death. Individuals and corporations who recklessly expose the consuming public to such injuries should be held accountable for compensatory damages and punitive damages. And, when appropriate, they should face criminal penalties. 

For the last six months, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been testing a new software system conveniently called CRASH – Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History. The software system is designed to help police predict the spots where crashes are likely to occur. While this is still a pilot program, the system has been accurate 75% of the time. The THP is also using software to predict where intoxicated drivers are most likely to be and at what time of day. Essentially, the software analyzes prior data and will predict where the greatest traffic risks are likely to occur given the day and time. Law enforcement can then direct its resources accordingly. The system cost $243,000 but was funded via a grant.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, please call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We handle all car accident cases on a contingency basis so you never have to pay any money out of pocket to protect your rights.