Last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in our country. That total is up from 2014 when 4,884 pedestrians lost their lives. Throughout the United States, a pedestrian is killed roughly every two hours. While that is a startling statistic, in Nashville it may very well be even more dangerous to be a pedestrian. According to a recent report, Nashville is the 37th most dangerous city out of 104 metro areas according to a study released by Smart Growth America. The good news is that Nashville has improved from 15th but there is still more room for improvement. In a ten-year period, 209 pedestrians were struck and killed in Nashville. And, of course, many more have been injured. Continue reading
Government regulations get a bad rap. To be sure, if you look long enough, you can find some that will make you shake your head and wonder, but for the most part regulations do a good job of providing protection to the public. And, they can also be a big boost in accident claims and injury lawsuits.
As proof that regulations are needed to protect the public, one need only look at the tragic hot air balloon crash in Texas that killed the pilot and 15 passengers earlier this year. Many believe this accident occurred because the Federal Aviation Administration does very little to exercise oversight of hot air balloon operators. In fact, regulations on hot air balloon operators are almost non-existent despite the fact that they often carry more passengers than small commuter planes and helicopters. Unlike conventional pilots, hot air balloon operators do not have to get regular medical exams and, while the form operators must complete asks about narcotic drug charges, it specifically excludes alcohol- related driving offenses. In the deadly Texas crash, the operator was taking at least 10 different drugs for various medical problems. Some of the drugs including oxycodone would have disqualified him from flying conventional aircraft because of their effect on decision-making and reaction times. Moreover, the operator had been convicted of drunk-driving on at least four occasions. Of course, regulations do not prevent every accident, but it is probably safe to say that if the Federal Aviation Administration had implemented tighter regulations over hot air balloon pilots that this particular pilot would not have been in the sky with passengers on that fateful day.
Regulations not only provide protection to the public but they also can help your accident claim or injury lawsuit. If you are injured in an accident and you want to recover money for your injuries, you must prove that someone else was negligent, that negligence caused your injuries and the extent of your injuries and damages. Let’s focus on negligence. In simplest terms, you should think of negligence as either doing something you should not have done or not doing something you should have done. Lawyers will often refer to it as a violation of the standard of care. Part of proving the other party was negligent involves proving the standard of care, but when there is a safety regulation the standard of care has already been established by the regulation itself. So then, all you must do is prove the defendant violated the regulation. In other words, the regulation can eliminate one step of what is normally a two-step process. So regulations can play a critical role in injury litigation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has introduced new guidelines to combat driver distraction and hopefully reduce car accidents. The guidelines seek to prompt manufacturers to develop products that will reduce the risk of car crashes caused by distracted driving by either using a simplified driver interface which limits the time a driver’s eyes are averted from the road or by pairing a mobile device to the vehicle’s infotainment system. Currently, the NHTSA’s proposals are voluntary but they are a step in the right direction especially since we continue to see car crashes like the ones below that show just how out of control distracted driving is becoming. Continue reading
Recently the investigation into the Chattanooga bus accident that claimed the lives of six children and injured dozens more has revealed parents, faculty and students had all complained about the driving of bus driver, Johnthony Walker. Ask any defense lawyer and they will tell you that prior complaints can present a huge problem for the defendant if certain requirements are met. Continue reading
A new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards is expected to save 2,400 pedestrian injuries per year. Under the new standard, motor vehicle manufacturers have until September 1, 2019 to equip their hybrid and electric vehicles with a system that emits an audible noise under certain conditions to help alert pedestrians to the vehicle’s presence. Specifically, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 141 will require both electric and hybrid vehicles with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs or less to make an audible noise when traveling in either forward or reverse at speeds up to 19 mph or 30 kilometers. Continue reading
We wrote just a few days ago about the bus crash in Nashville involving a school bus in Chester County. That school bus wreck was bad enough, but today’s school bus accident in Chattanooga is even more tragic.
Apparently, a school bus filled with 35 children crashed into a tree. It has been reported that six children have died in the crash off Talley Road in Hamilton County and many others have been injured, some in critical condition. The students attended Woodmore Elementary School.
No information about the cause of the crash is currently publicly available, although speed is being investigated as a factor. Reportedly the school bus driver is cooperating with authorities. UPDATE: CNN reports that the bus driver, Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving and that the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating on Tuesday November 22. Continue reading
The Chester County school bus crash in Nashville injuring 23 students (with 20 more seeking a medical evaluation) provides a good opportunity to remind our readers of one of the most unfair provisions of Tennessee law. That’s saying a lot – there are lots of unfair parts of Tennessee personal injury and wrongful death law – but this one is a biggie.
Most people think that people and companies who harm others should be held accountable for the harm they cause. But, when a local government causes harm, its accountability is very limited. Local governments (and the state and federal government) can only be sued under certain circumstances and when they can be sued special rules apply. The special rules are set forth in the Tennessee governmental tort liability act and the relevant case law. (Claims against the State of Tennessee are addressed in a separate law.)
The Chester County school bus crash shines the light on two of the special rules. Before I discuss them please know that I know nothing of the facts of the accident. I have seen the news reports, but cannot vouch for their accuracy or completeness.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security statistics, there were 1,579 pedestrian accidents last year. But, there were actually many more because the State’s statistics do not include pedestrian accidents that occurred on private property, which means parking lots (where lots of pedestrian accidents occur because of the unavoidable interaction between cars and pedestrians). For the first quarter of this year, there have already been 378 pedestrian accidents, so we thought we would share some tips to help avoid being a pedestrian accident statistic: Continue reading
The summer driving season is just around the corner. Time for vacations, trips to summer camp and the like. Gas prices are expected to remain low. In fact, the federal government is expecting gas to be at its lowest since the summer of 2004. So, the roadways will likely be busy and, unfortunately, dangerous. Here are a few tips for making sure you and your family stay safe including one you might not know.
- The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security offers licensed Tennessee drivers the ability to add emergency contacts to their driver’s license online. So, if you are involved in an accident, emergency workers can quickly contact your spouse, parents, legal representative, etc. If you are unconscious, this could save valuable time in a medical emergency as your contact could provide medical history, information on any medications you are taking, etc. In addition, not only will your loved ones be alerted to the emergency quicker but they can begin helping quicker. For instance, maybe at the time of the accident you were on your way to pick up your daughter from school, if your spouse is quickly alerted to the accident, he could get someone to your daughter promptly. The process is simple. Just go to www.dl.safety.tn.gov. The 7th star on the page is a link for Manage Emergency Contacts. Click it, fill out the requested information and hit submit. Now, your emergency contacts are linked to your driver’s license number.
- Register your vehicle and your tires with the manufacturer so that you are kept updated on any recalls. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversaw a record number of recalls. If your vehicle and tires are not registered, the manufacturer cannot notify you directly. Vehicles and tires are only recalled if there is a safety defect or if they fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. So, recalls are serious business. At www.nhtsa.gov, you can search to see if there are any recalls affecting your vehicle, tires, child safety seats, etc. You can also sign up for safety alerts.
At the Law Offices of John Day, we are definitely seeing more accidents involving pedestrians but we are not relying on just our own anecdotal evidence for this post. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting, once all the data is in, that 2015 will have the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept. Pedestrians now account for about 15% of all motor vehicle crash-related deaths. So what is to blame for the national increase and what are the statistics for pedestrian accidents in Middle Tennessee? Continue reading