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
As the New Year approaches, many start to think about improvements they want to make in their lives for 2017. At the Law Offices of John Day, our work involves helping people who have been injured in accidents and, since most accidents are preventable, we thought we would give you some New Year’s resolutions that can help protect you and others. The best part of these resolutions is, for the most part, they are easy and painless to implement (unlike that weight resolution most of us make). Here are our recommendations:
- Check your auto insurance and make sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. I can’t tell you how often someone calls our office with significant injuries from a car accident who cannot recover any money because the driver who caused the accident did not have insurance and the client did not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We have written a number of posts about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and you can find them here, here, here and here. But, our number one piece of advice to protect yourself would be to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with as high of limits as you can afford. You will truly be surprised at how cheap it is and it can mean the difference between receiving compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and injuries and receiving nothing.
- Wear your seatbelt. They save lives. Period.
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
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
Can you name that quote? It was the foul-mouthed and very funny Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit. If for some reason you are unaware of this iconic movie also featuring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jerry Reed, the basic story line is that Jerry Reeds’ character, Cledus “Snowman” Snow is a tractor-trailer driver and he is trying to get a load delivered in record time. Burt Reynolds, the Bandit, has the job of diverting attention from the speeding Snowman and his illegal Coors beer cargo. By luring Sheriff Buford T. Justice and other police to chase him in his Pontiac Trans Am, Bandit permits the Snowman to speed down the highway without the interference of any Smokies. Continue reading
Now wait just a minute, I am not going to talk politics. I am going to talk about disclosure and hindsight. Whatever your opinion on Hillary Clinton, most people think it was a mistake for her not to have disclosed that she was suffering with pneumonia. Day in and day out, we counsel our clients on disclosure and here are some thoughts on the issue:
- What you think is important is not what everyone else thinks is important. HRC said she did not disclose the pneumonia because she did not think it was a big deal. But, she is not the decider of what is a big deal in an election. That is the voters’ job. The same is true of litigation: the ultimate decider is the jury. So we tell our clients that everything needs to be viewed through the eyes of jurors.
- Non-disclosure almost always does more harm than disclosure. Because some hubbub had already been made about her health, HRC probably thought it would be better keep her pneumonia diagnosis to herself and her camp, take some antibiotics, solider on and avoid providing any fodder to Trump, the media, etc. This is not an unreasonable position on its face. The problem comes when the information comes out anyway. With HRC, her stumble or collapse (depending upon your political affiliation) outed her illness. As a result, the focus is now two-fold: her health and her transparency. The same is true in injury litigation. Let’s say you have a prior back injury that you think is unrelated to the current back injury you received in a recent tractor-trailer accident and so you decide not to tell your lawyer or the other side about it when they ask you under oath. Let me be clear: this is a horrible plan. The other side is going to have full access to your medical and pharmacy records and the power of a subpoena. Defense lawyers get paid a lot of money by the hour to find things that hurt your case. A good defense lawyer will leave no stone unturned and when they find it you, just like HRC, will have two problems: the old injury is now known and your non-disclosure has now also created a credibility or transparency issue for the jury. Recall point 1; the jury gets to decide what is important and if you win.
The good news: the economy continues to improve and gas remains cheap. The bad news: this could mean more traffic deaths especially during the 100 Deadliest Days. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year traffic fatalities rose 7.7% to 35,200 — the highest since 2008. Many experts attribute the increase in accidents and fatalities to an improved economy combined with low gas prices as these lead to more drivers out on the road for reasons other than the daily commute. And with more drivers on the roads for weekend plans, vacations and the like, there is simply an increased likelihood for accidents. Continue reading
Memorial Day is a day to remember and be grateful for those brave men and women who have died while serving our country in the military. It is also the unofficial start of summer. Beach trips, parades, lake outings, pool parties and barbecues are on a lot of folks’ agenda. Here are ten safety tips to help keep your weekend fun and injury-free: Continue reading
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