Federal Study Reveals Most Dangerous Driving Distractions

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point — fiddling with the radio while we change lanes, taking our eyes off the road to gaze at the passing scenery. Even professional drivers aren’t perfect. Distractions happen, and sometimes they can be deadly. Recently, the U.S. Congress funded the Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS) to find out just how dangerous distracted driving is. The study was conducted by scientists from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Rather than using a controlled testing environment, data was collected from 3,500 volunteer drivers over a three year period travelling in real-world conditions. The volunteers’ vehicles were outfitted with a series of radar units, cameras and sensors that allowed the researchers to record and analyze their driving behavior. By the end of the study, the participants had been involved in more than 1600 incidents. The researchers assessed accident causation based on a number of factors including speed, fatigue, sobriety and distraction. After analyzing the data, the research team concluded that distracted driving was nearly as dangerous as drunk driving. But Which Distractions Were the Most Dangerous? Some distractions that the researchers expected to be particularly dangerous were actually fairly uncommon. These included things like applying makeup while driving, and interacting with children in the back seat. In fact, the researchers found that people tended to drive more carefully with children in the car. Other well-known distractions – texting while driving, for example – were found to be very dangerous. Generally, […]

What’s My Case Worth?

The most common question I am asked by my personal injury clients is, “what’s my case worth?” In this article I will spell out the factors that influence the value of a bodily injury claim. Assuming you have established that someone else is 100 percent at fault and the injuries sustained were directly related to that negligent conduct, Arizona law now permits you to present evidence of your loss or damages. Damages are generally classified as either special or general. Special damages are those that have actually been incurred like medical expenses, lost income (past and future), prescriptions, mileage to and from the doctor and any other expense authorized by a doctor that resulted from the accident. General damages are quite a bit more subjective. We have all heard the term ‘pain and suffering,’ which is a general damage component of all personal injury claims. Other general damage components include emotional distress, inconvenience, lifestyle disruption and loss of enjoyment or consortium. We will save loss of consortium for another day. Because of the subjective nature of general damages, the majority of cases that end up in litigation are there due to a disagreement over general damages. I am sure you have heard the old saying, “three times the medical bills equals the value of a personal injury case.” Rest assured, nowhere in Arizona law will you find this mathematical formula. Instead, the computation for general damages is done on a case-by-case basis. Here are some of the actual factors used […]

Don’t Be Afraid to File Suit

In the 35 plus years I have practiced law I have never encountered a client that looked forward to our filing suit against the at-fault party or their insurance company. Granted there is a delay in resolving the legal problem and a certain degree of uncertainty as to the result, but the method of operation or M.O. of insurance companies these days has dramatically increased the number of lawsuits we have to file on behalf of our clients. Years ago, perhaps one in four or five cases resulted in a lawsuit. Today, roughly 40 percent require filing suit due to unreasonable positions taken or low offers of settlement. Some insurance companies routinely make offers so low that the claimant receives little or no compensation for pain and suffering. In the case of those insurance companies we usually file lawsuits almost 100% of the time. Getting back to the title of this blog, “Don’t be afraid to file suit,” allow me to cite some statistics that will take some of the fear out of filing suit. The attorneys at Phillips and Lyon keep detailed statistics on all cases that result in a lawsuit. After all, I do not wish to recommend filing suit unless our client is likely to win. Looking at statistics for December, 2015 we note the following: On average the litigation award was more than double the highest offer made by the insurance company. The average length of time from the date of filing the lawsuit until the […]

Driverless Vehicles and the Future of Accident Liability

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made waves in the automotive industry when he announced that his company was just two years away from releasing its first fully autonomous vehicle. Prior to this announcement, even the most optimistic industry forecasters estimated that it would be about five years before driverless cars hit the consumer market. Coming from anyone else, Musk’s estimate might sound like a desperate grab for media attention. But in light of the fact that his other company, SpaceX, just successfully landed a rocket upright after returning from orbit for the first time in history, his prediction about driverless cars doesn’t seem quite so outrageous. Whether or not Musk’s estimate will prove to be accurate, there’s little doubt that sooner or later driverless vehicles will become commonplace on America’s roadways. Once this day does come, the questions surrounding accident liability could get a whole lot more complicated. Automakers, legislators and insurance providers are already working to hammer out the details of how fault will be established in car accidents that involve autonomous vehicles. Let’s take a look at a few of the hot-button issues surrounding accident liability and driverless cars. Joint Liability Between Man and Machine At least initially, autonomous vehicles will still need to have a driver behind the wheel. In California, legislation has already been passed that requires a licensed driver behind the wheel of any partially or fully autonomous vehicle. So let’s say one of these vehicles gets in an accident. Is the […]

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers in the United States is uninsured. At Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law, we are unable to handle a case unless there is either liability or uninsured motorist coverage. If an uninsured driver causes you injury or property damage, your recourse will be to sue them personally in order to recover your expenses. Good luck with that! A much better option is to purchase along with your mandatory liability coverage, uninsured motorist (UM) protection. In the event of an accident involving an uninsured automobile, this coverage will cover you, your passengers and anyone in your household that is a blood relative for: Medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost wages. It does not cover the damage to your automobile. Collision coverage would be required in order to reimburse you for damage to your car. Uninsured motorist coverage will also cover you if you are involved in a hit and run accident or whenever the at-fault driver is unknown. This coverage can also protect you outside your car. If an uninsured motorist strikes you while walking down the street or riding your bike, you will be covered as long as you can prove the uninsured motorist was at fault. While purchasing UM, you will need to decide how much to buy. Under Arizona law, your insurance company must offer you an amount no less than your liability limits. The limits start at $15,000.00 coverage per person and can exceed $1,000,000.00 […]

Choosing the Right Attorney for a Bodily Injury Case

Finding a personal or bodily injury attorney is not difficult. The problem is knowing if the attorney you found is a good one, or the right one for you. If you have a good case, or a “winning case”, many lawyers will be willing to help. You need to be able to choose the right lawyer who will best represent you in your accident injury case. What you should know: The attorney you choose can make a huge difference in how your case is handled. Do research on the lawyers that you are interested in working with, get referrals and seek out online reviews. Once you have narrowed your choices, set up meetings with the lawyers to get a better feel for how you are going to be represented. Pre-Planning for meeting with your lawyer Take notes that include important information about your case. Provide evidence you may have, pictures of the accident scene, injuries, as well as names of witnesses. Include a copy of the police report of the accident, medical bills, and insurance information and policies, which are extremely important to your case. Your being organized and prepared will allow the attorney to be more effective in representing your interests. Questions for the lawyer When meeting with your lawyer, you should feel comfortable with him/her. If you feel that there is no chance of having a positive relationship, find another lawyer. If you do feel comfortable with your lawyer, have some question ready for them. Such as: How […]

10 Tips to Help You When Involved In an Accident

Safety: Make sure that you and your passengers are not injured. If an injury occurred, call 911 to report the injuries. If there is serious injury or major damage, do not move the vehicles. Wait until the police arrive so they can properly document the scene. This will help the police and investigators determine who is at fault if there is any question of liability. If the accident is minor, move the vehicle to the side of the road to a safe location. Do not get out of the vehicle unless it is safe. Stay in the vehicle if you are injured or surrounded by moving traffic. What seems like a minor injury could be much worse than it seems and trying to move could make things worse. Your best bet is to stay in your vehicle with your seat belt fastened, turn on your hazards while waiting for help to arrive. Call the police: Don’t ever let anyone at the scene try to convince you otherwise. A police report will be very important alter on. Get the police report along with the name and number of the reporting officer. In some cases of minor crashes, the police will not respond unless there are serious injuries or property damage; if that is the case, you will need to file an accident report at the local police station as soon as possible. Exchanging Information: Get the other drivers name, phone number, insurance company, policy number, drivers license number, plate number, and […]

Talking to Your Children About Safe Driving

There are over 3000 teen deaths per year due to car accidents. That’s an average of eighteen deaths per day due to mistakes made behind the wheel. With today’s technology, along with other distractions, it is extremely easy to get distracted while driving, which can lead to serious injuries and death. Talking to your kids about safe driving habits is one of the most important things you can do while teaching them how to drive. The number one distraction which causes accidents is of course cell phones. Talking, texting, and tweeting are among a few things that can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. It only takes one second to lose your concentration while driving, which can lead to serious consequences. Teach your children to not use their cell phones at all while driving. They can wait to read the text they got until they have reached their destination. No text is worth their life, or the lives of others. Other common driving distractions for teens include driving with friends. Your children will most likely have friends in the car while traveling. It is very easy to get caught up in a conversation while having friends in the car. It is important to make sure that they focus on the road; the conversation can wait until they get to a safe place. Another common distraction is music. Messing with the radio can be hazardous. Adjusting radio stations or the volume, along with choosing a song within their […]

Things to Have in Your Glove Box In Case of Emergency.

Critical medical information: Write down any medical conditions, medications and allergies in case you’re involved in an accident and can’t communicate to the responders. Owner’s manual and recommended maintenance schedule: This comes in very handy. It helps when a fuse goes out, or a tire needs to be changed, or a light goes on that you don’t recognize. Emergency contact numbers: Write them down, and have them listed in your cell phone and wallet as well. There is a spot in most cell phones called ICE; In case Of Emergency. These numbers can be accessed without unlocking the phone, and emergency professionals are trained to check these numbers. Pen and paper: It will come in handy if you’re in an accident and need to take down information. Proof of insurance: It’s the law to keep proof of insurance in your car, and it comes in handy in certain situations as well. A flashlight: If something goes wrong at night, you’ll be glad you have one. Water Bottle: It gets hot in AZ, and having water is always a good thing. Napkins, travel wipes, tissues and hand sanitizer: They can be used to clean up when you need to change a tire, or make other messy repairs to your car. High-energy snacks: In case of an accident, or if you get stuck on the side of the road and have to wait for a tow truck. Cell Phone Charger: This one is self explanatory in this day and age. Camera: Comes […]

Be A Safer Motorcycle Rider

Be a Safer Biker You are more likely to get into an accident riding a motorcycle than if you were driving a car. Here are some safety tips to help you avoid a motorcycle accident, and have safer ride. The main cause of motorcycle accidents are: Being in a driver’s blind spot. Loose gravel, and road debris. The main objective is to stay visible. Try to stay out of the blind spots of cars. Add a little extra buffer room between you and the car that is in front of you, and to the side of you. Just in case they decide to stop short, or change lanes unexpectedly, you will have time and space to make the proper maneuvers to avoid and accident. You can also wear bright colors to improve your visibility. Yellow, red, and white are very visible on the road. Try to avoid wearing all black. Black blends in with the road, and may make you harder to see by other drivers. Wearing reflective gear will also help. It will help you get noticed by the drivers around you, even in their peripheral vision. Always use turn signals when making a turn. It might be necessary to put your turn signal on a little early to give the driver behind you ample warning time that you will be slowing down. Tapping your break a couple of times before slowing down will also get the drivers attention, and let them know that you will be slowing down […]

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