As of Thursday June 10th, Washington State Patrol Officers will enforce a zero tolerance policy towards driving while holding your cell phone. Hands-free devices are okay, but if you're caught holding a phone up your ear, you'll be busted. At the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, we're all for anything that will help reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Washington State passed legislation two years ago which made the act a secondary violation, meaning that law officers had to have a primary offense to pull them over. Speeding, running a red light, or illegal lane changes were all things that would give them a reason to stop you. They could then issue an additional fee if they found you were talking on your cell phone.
While there aren't any definite statistics on actual accident rates involving pets and car accidents, the fact remains that they can put you at serious risk. Currently, pet related accidents are merely lumped into the distracted driving category along with swatting an insect or reaching for a coffee.
At this point in time, Hawaii is the only state to implement an outright ban on driving with your pet in your lap, claiming that pets interfere with a driver's ability to maintain control of the vehicle. Two years ago, governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a law passed by legislature that would fine drivers for having a pet in their lap. His reasoning was that he was only focused on passing laws that met California's top priorities at the time. Similar legistlation was shot down in Virginia. As a Personal Injury Attorney Seattle, I think that anything that can potentially decrease car accident rates should be a priority.
On May 13th, 2010 bicycle manufacturer Niner Bikes issued a voluntary recall of their bicycles. This recall is based on the issue that the bicycle's frame can potentially crack and thus result in the rider loosing control and crashing. A bicycle crash can result in serious injuries, particularly if the rider isn't wearing a proper safety helmet. Sometimes these injuries are so severe that it's necessary for the victim to hire a Personal Injury Attorney Seattle in order to recover their damages from the accident.
The bicycle frames susceptibility to cracking results from a welding deficiency along the front triangle of the bicycle structure. If a bike was to fracture while the riders was going high speeds or traveling in close proximity to a car, the injuries could be catastrophic. Luckily, no reports of anyone getting hurt have been issued thus far. However, Niner Bikes has received reports that 53 of their products have experienced cracking along that particular weld while someone was riding the bicycle.
Educators at Yucca Valley High School have developed an extremely effective program to dissuade teenagers from drinking and driving. Each year, the school holds a two-day assembly right before prom, called "Every 15 Minutes" which is aptly named after the statistic that someone is killed in a alcohol-related auto accident every 15 minutes in this country.
The program's effectiveness hinges on student's involvement in acting out the scenario of a drunk driving accident in front of the school. In the skit, one student drinks heavily at a party and then gets behind the wheel to go buy more alcohol. Though friends try to convince her not to drive, she convinces them that she is fine and not drunk. On the way, she races at 75mph on a local road, swerves into oncoming traffic, and crashes into a car driven by another student.
One passenger was thrown through the windshield and was killed instantly. Another passenger had to be airlifted from the scene and subsequently died from their injuries. Another passenger was found dead at the scene by paramedics who participated in the skit. The "deceased" students were zipped up in body bags and carted away. The young teenagers who were killed in the skit even spent the night at a hotel and weren't allowed to communicate with any friends or family members.
The following morning, a mock-funeral was held at the school. Family members and teachers delivered realistic eulogies eliciting emotional responses from the audience. Many students were surprised at how much it affected them, knowing very well that they're friends weren't actually dead. Police Officers spoke about the reality and frequency of the situation played-out, while parents of real-life accident victims killed by drinking or drugs shared their stories.
We would love to see these kinds of educational programs at every school around the country. If there's something that can be done to reduce the rates of drinking and driving, especially among teenagers, then it's our responsibility to deliver that message. As a Personal Injury Lawyer Seattle at the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, we see the devastating effects of alcohol-related car accidents frequently. We applaud the educators at Yucca Valley High School for finding an effective way to get the message through to teenage drivers. You can find the original article here.
Staged car accidents are becoming more and more frequent across the country, especially in the wake of our country's recent financial crisis and economic downturn. Desperate people are turning to desperate measures that go so far as to stage a car accident resulting in fake injuries and exaggerated car damage.
Florida tops the chart with more than twice as many fraudulent insurance claims than the next two states on the list, New York and California, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In less than a year's time, over 260 people have been arrested on accounts of auto insurance fraud. Unfortunately, these bogus claims, often lead to skyrocketing insurance rates for the rest of us.
Crooks have crafted a few different ways to take advantage of you and your insurance company. As an attorney at the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, it's heartbreaking to hear stories of people's lives destroyed by an accident that was caused intentionally. Government agencies need to ramp up their efforts to crack down on these criminals. Here are just a few examples to watch out for:
At least Louise Robbins, a Wisconsin librarian, can attest to that fact. She and her husband traveled to China in the summer of 2009 when her husband suffered injuries brought about by slipping on the wet marble floor in their hotel lobby and hitting his head. He seemed okay at the time so they continued up into the mountains for a sightseeing trip. Symptoms began to appear once they reached an altitude and it became apparent that he was suffering from bleeding in his brain.
He made multiple flights to receive treatment before finally make it home to the States. Because of the severity of his injuries, it was necessary that he be transported in a plane specially equipped to transport patients in critical condition with medical equipment and personnel. Louise spent $250 for their travelers insurance policy which saved them from having to pay over $100,000 for all the treatment and transport her husband received.
Many Americans believe that when they travel outside of the country, their health insurance follows them. This couldn't be farther from the truth though. Rarely do domestic health insurance policies cover emergency evacuations which are often the most expensive cost of an injury abroad.
The US Travel Insurance Association states that Americans spent $1 billion on supplemental insurance in 2008. Many people make this purchase to protect themselves against canceled flights, or disruption to their plans due to natural disasters (remember how many flights were canceled due to the Icelandic volcano eruption this year?) but the benefits these polices provide in an emergency far outweigh those advantages.
On average, travelers insurance will run you about 5% of the cost of your trip, which is a complete bargain if you end up using it. The two most common reason travelers are medically evacuated are from heart attacks and car accidents. So even when you're out of the country trying to relax, the reality of being involved in a car accident is still very present.
As a personal injury lawyer Seattle, I can warn you about how costly a car accident can be if you're not covered by insurance. At the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, we've seen many unfortunate people whose lives have been destroyed financially by a lack of insurance. Do yourself a favor, don't travel without it. For tips on how to pick the right traveler's insurance policy, click here.
Even though states are cracking down on texting while driving by passing more stringent laws, it's ultimately up to law enforcement officials to put these laws into motion. They're finding that while these laws are great in theory, they're actually extremely difficult to actually enforce. Police officers are having a really hard time proving that someone was in fact texting while driving, and not just "talking" on their hand-held cell phone which is still legal in some states.
In 2007, a young girl was killed when a 17 year old driver smashed into the side of her car without so much as a tap to the brakes. The female driver was obviously distracted when the accident happened but without having witness accounts or without the driving admitting to texting, the victim's family will never know exactly why their daughter was killed that fateful night.
Lord Jesus Christ was in a marked crosswalk walking across the street when he was struck by a Massachusetts driver. Police officers gave the young woman at fault for hitting Christ, a citation at the scene for neglecting to yield to the pedestrian. Christ, whose name was confirmed when officers checked his identification, luckily only sustained minor injuries which included lacerations on his face. The 50-year-old man was discharged from the hospital shortly after his injuries were treated.
This case brings up a good point regarding pedestrian laws. Nearly all states have laws requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. A crosswalk can mean a marked crosswalk with horizontal white stripes and a blinking yellow light, or it can just be a regular intersection without any of that. Regardless, pedestrians have the right-of-way since they are at a great disadvantage should they come in contact with a car. At the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, we have seen devastating accidents with life-long disabilities resulting from pedestrian accidents. Unfortunately, many could have been avoided had drivers and pedestrians exercised greater caution.
New York safety inspector has pleaded guilty to allegations of false statements, mail fraud and violated the Toxic Substances Control Act. The inspector tampered with or faked the readings of hundreds of asbestos tests over the last decade. Typically, he wouldn't conduct any asbestos tests at all and would merely submit reports that buildings were free of asbestos and lead. Now free on bail, the Queens inspector is facing between 51 and 63 months in jail for his crimes.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Saverio Todaro acting independently or whether accomplices were involved. All in all, they've found over 200 buildings implicated in his fraudulent reports, and investigators fear it may be just the tip of the iceberg. In many of these instances, the buildings have been demolished to make way for the city's affordable-housing program. It's impossible to determine whether the workers involved in the demolition were exposed to asbestos and other toxic substances.
Asbestos is linked to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma which is a form of cancer that attacks the protective lining surrounding one's internal organs. Mesothelioma is almost always fatal and often goes undetected for many years or even decades. This toxic substance is most dangerous when in it's airborne state, which would have been the case if it was released during a demolition project. These cases often go to court where the victim is rewarded a lump sum for their injuries. However, this is a small consolation when the victim ultimately loses his life.
At the law offices of Kirk Bernard, we've seen many tragic cases of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos. The worst part is that it can almost always be avoided with proper testing and abatement. If you worry that you may have suffered injuries as a result of asbestos exposure, we urge you to consult with a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer immediately so you can protect your legal rights.
The Fire Department of Chula Vista, California is proposing to charge drivers who cause accidents requiring the services of the Fire Department. They estimate that approximately $100,000 is spent each year on the department's assistance in auto accidents. Each year, they respond to about 420 accidents which use their time and resources. By charging the drivers at fault, they can recoup a good chunk of their expenditures.
The City of Chula Vista claims that they think this is a fair since taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the bill for accidents that they didn't cause. The amount charged would vary depending on the severity of the accident and the amount of assistance required. The majority of car accidents would cost $435 while accidents requiring extraction from a vehicle would cost $1800, and a fire would run you $605. In the event that someone needs to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, the fee would jump up to $2100.
Thanks to current population awareness of environmentally-friendly "green-living" choices, there is a major push for electric vehicles right now. Money is pouring into the technology and research and development necessary to make these vehicles a viable purchasing option for consumers. One of the major safety concerns surrounding electric cars is the lack of noise they produce. Pedestrians and other drivers complain that electric vehicles are so quiet, you don't even know they're there.
A study conducted by the University of Calfornia at Riverside concluded that electric cars had to be 40% closer to a pedestrian before they were detected, in comparison to a car with a standard combustion engine. This poses a serious safety risk when pedestrians are looking to cross the road. Bicyclists also rely heavily on audible clues to discern traffic flow around them. Many of us don't realize how much we use these audible clues until they're not available.
It's nothing new for criminals to try and gain money with fraudulent insurance claims. As the economy continues to fluctuate, people begin to worry about money and how they're going to get it. Many times this opens the door to criminal thought and behavior.
Now criminals are using methods that could target you as a victim during a car accident. Many of these schemes involve an orchestrated whole team of people with multiple cars involved. The scenarios are very detailed and usually involve trying to take advantage of the insurance companies.
It's really a shame what criminals will try and do to scam the system and it only makes things more difficult for the real victims in accidents and injury claims. Here's a short list of a few ways you can protect yourself from falling victim to these car accident frauds:
On April 27th, 2010, Georgia's House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill that bans texting and driving as well as talking on your cell phone while driving. Once the bill becomes a law, it will ban cell phone use for teens age 16 and 17, and will ban texting while driving for drivers of all ages. Offenses made by juvenile drivers come with a penalty of $150 fine with a 90 license suspension (or suspension until they turn 18 if that comes first). The $150 fine is doubled if another traffic violation occurs at the same time, for instance speeding while driving and texting. Adult drivers will only be fined $100.
Many feel that while the law is a step in the right direction, the penalties that come with it are not stringent enough to really deter people from texting while driving. Personal injury attorney, Kirk Bernard, feels that the law should extend to ban all drivers from talking on the cell phone while driving, regardless of their age.
If the bill becomes a law, it will be dubbed the Caleb Sorohan Act to commemorate Caleb Sorohan, a 19 year old boy who was killed due to an accident he caused by driving while text messaging. Currently, the bill is awaiting a signature from the Governor.
Georgia now joins the nine other States who have passed laws banning text messaging while driving. These other states include Oregon, Washington, New York, Colorado, and Virginia. Many of these states, such as Washington, have made texting and talking on a hand-held cell phone a primary offense so that a police officer can make a citation without needing another offense as a reason to pull the driver over.
As a Seattle personal injury lawyer, I have seen an explosion of car accidents caused by cell phone use and texting while driving over the last two to three years. Often times, the people who survive the accidents are still left with debilitating injuries that can last a lifetime. A Youtube video made by a police department in the UK is circulating at a rapid rate and was showcased in this clip from the Today Show. They created a public service announcement that graphically portrays a horrific car accident that kills four people, as a result of a driver who is text-messaging and crosses into oncoming traffic. You should be prepared that this video is extremely graphic, but it might be the key to discourage drivers from texting while behind the wheel.
More resources regarding texting and driving can be found here.
The latest news of a TriMet bus accident that killed two young women and injured three others, sheds light on the increasing rates of bus accidents that injure pedestrians. As a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer, I have seen an increase in the frequency of bus accidents involving pedestrians over the last few years. In this particular instance, the bus driver struck the pedestrians while making a left-hand turn. Even though the pedestrians had the right-of-way to cross the street, they ended up pinned underneath the Municipal bus.
So far, reports have shown that bus driver Sandy Day was not talking on her cell phone, text messaging, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, tired or inexperienced. More than likely, the driver had difficulty seeing the pedestrians since it was late at night and they may have been in her blind spot. The father of one of the victims made a statement saying, "These bus drivers just got to pay attention," said Sale. " Too many people are getting in accidents."
Only a week ago, a San Francisco man died after being pinned between two Municipal Railway buses. A Utah woman is luckily to be alive after a turning bus struck her in a crosswalk last summer. She suffered life-threatening injuries, including brain damage, and her life will never be the same again. These tragic stories are becoming all too common. In our firm, Tacoma personal injury lawyers have fought for the rights of many pedestrian victims. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been avoided if bus drivers were more cautious of pedestrians, and if pedestrians were more aware of the dangers presented by buses and their blind spots.
In our opinion, there's many changes that should be implemented to avoid accidents like this from happening in the future. One of the best things we can do is to make buses and other vehicles have a protected left hand turn signal so that they must wait for the green-arrow before turning. Also, passing a law that buses that prevents buses from initiating a right-hand turn on a red light would help. Both of these ideas would keep buses from interfering with pedestrians who have the right-of-way to cross the street on a green light. A simple and inexpensive fix would be to implement signage at crosswalks on bus routes that serve to educate pedestrians of the dangers of turning buses.
California State uses technology that notifies pedestrians when a bus approaches. To avoid accidents resulting from pedestrians stepping into the street to get the attention of approaching buses, many cities are starting to adopt blinking lights that signal to bus drivers that people are waiting. Improving mirror placement on the sides of buses will help drivers to recognize when pedestrians are located in their blind spots. Right convex mirrors allow drivers to view their entire front bumper which alleviates head-on collisions while audible turn signals notify pedestrians when a bus is turning.
At the Law Offices of Kirk Bernard, we hope that when all these ideas are combined, they can drastically reduce the incidence of bus accidents involving pedestrians. While they won't bring back the loved ones that have already been lost, these practices can prevent more people from becoming victims of these horrific accidents in the future.