Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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.

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. 

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?

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.

Drivers who participate in transportation networking companies (TNC) may have a significant gap in coverage.  Some insurance carriers are taking the position that the TNC driver is engaged in a commercial service any time they are logged into a ridesharing app and just looking for a passenger.  Under such circumstances, if the driver is involved in an accident with another car or pedestrian and depending upon the language of the policy, the insurance carrier can take the position that the accident is not covered.  If the driver’s personal insurance does not cover the accident, then the injury victim must look to their own uninsured motorist insurance or that of the company i.e, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc. 

Unfortunately, many individuals do not have uninsured motorist coverage.  Or, if they do have coverage, the limits are often very low and inadequate to ensure full compensation for significant injuries and losses.  As for the pursuing the transportation networking companies, their insurance may not apply since the driver was not actually transporting a passenger but instead was merely logged into the app and looking for passengers.  Coverage will turn on the terms of their policy.

As we have mentioned in prior posts here, here and here, there are many issues to be worked out with respect to this new means of transportation.  The Legislature will likely resolve some of the issues via regulations for these services.  Other issues will have to work their way through the court system. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries.  Contact one of our award-winning lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.   Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.   

 Drivers involved in fatal accidents are more likely to test positive for prescription drugs and street drugs then in the past. Here are some staggering statistics from some recent reports.

·       From 1993 to 2010, for fatal crashes, the number of drugged drivers with three or more drugs in their system almost doubled as it jumped from 11.5 % to 21.5%.  

·       Drivers involved in fatal crashes are more likely to be combining drugs with alcohol.  For instance, 55% of drivers who had used marijuana had also been drinking and 70% of drivers who tested positive for cocaine also had alcohol in their system.

·       Prescription drug use was highest in drivers over age 50

·       Marijuana use was highest in drivers under age 30.

·       A 2012 study reported nearly 10.3 million American had driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.

Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.  Any agent that affects motor skills and brain functions puts everyone else on or near the road at risk including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, etc.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact one of our award-winning lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and your rights.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.  Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  

With age comes invaluable driving experience, but after a certain point it can also bring declining physical abilities which makes driving more dangerous.   Case in point: 78% of seniors drive regularly despite reporting slow reaction times and tiring easily behind the wheel.  13% of senior drivers reported difficulty hearing or seeing and 9 % report getting lost or feeling confused while driving. 

These days, I do not know what age qualifies one as being senior.  You can get an AARP card at 50 but the retirement age has been moved to 67.   One thing I do know is that with each passing year of my life, I think the age that one become a senior should get moved back. 

Given the squishy nature of when one becomes a “senior”, I elected to discuss the Tennessee crash statistics beginning at age 50.  Year to date, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there have been over 3,609 car crashes involving drivers over age 50.  Note that this number excludes parking lot and private property car wrecks and car accidents  involving $400 or less in damage. 

Because Tennessee does not have any special testing requirements for older drivers, it is imperative that we all assess ourselves and our loved ones for continued driving ability.  By doing so, we ensure the safety of everyone.  

At the Law Offices of John Day, we handle all types of car accidents and would be glad to speak with you about your potential car wreck case for free and without obligation.  Just give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.  

A Tennessee statute provides that a funeral procession has the right-of-way when the lead vehicle properly identifies the funeral procession by using a flashing amber light or is identified as a police escort or other “properly identified” escort.  A funeral escort may also use a siren and flags to identify the funeral procession. The lead car must comply with stop signs and traffic-control signals such as red lights but the remainder of the funeral procession can proceed without stopping or obeying the traffic signal if each vehicle has its headlights on.  

As with anything else, there are exceptions to the right-of-way rule.  A funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) with its siren on.  A funeral procession must also yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by any law enforcement officer.

So as to minimize the effect on traffic flow, the funeral procession must maintain minimum speeds.  On a highway, the procession should go no slower than 45.  On other roadways, the procession should not go any slower than 5 mph below the posted speed limit.  A motorist who is following a funeral procession on a two-lane highway must not pass the funeral procession.  Likewise, a motorist confronted with a proper funeral procession must yield the right of way and must not drive or attempt to drive in between the vehicles.

I find that folks in the Tennessee are generally very respectful of funeral processions. But accidents do happen and every motorist should know their responsibilities when proceeding in or confronted with a funeral procession.  If you would like to know your rights with respect to any type of car accident, give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers.  The consultation is free and without obligation and we handle all injury cases on a contingency basis.