NTSB Most Wanted List 2014

Are you one of this country’s ‘Most Wanted?’ If you’ve been using your cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving, then you’ve been engaging in distracted driving—one of the top priorities for the national Transportation Safety Board.

Each year, the NTSB releases its Most Wanted List, which represents their advocacy priorities. It is designed to highlight the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives. This year, the agency is pursuing a number of goals, including the elimination of distractions in all modes of transportation—highway, aviation, railroad, marine, and even pipelines.

While this may seem like a daunting task, you can do your part by making the commitment to drive phone-free and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Check out our infographic to learn more.

Distracted Driving Infographic

 According to the NTSB website, cell phones and other electronics are a “cultural epidemic.”

“With the expansive increase in portable electronic devices (PEDs), including cell phones, messaging and navigation systems, and entertainment devices, as well as the growing development of integrated technologies in vehicles, the NTSB is seeing a disturbing growth in the number of accidents due to distracted operators; often these accidents have deadly consequences. . . In short, operator distraction due to PED usage is a cultural epidemic that too often has tragic consequences.”

The complete NTSB Most Wanted List includes the following goals:

  • Address Unique Characteristics of Helicopter Operations
  • Advance Passenger Vessel Safety
  • Eliminate Distraction in Transportation
  • Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
  • Enhance Pipeline Safety
  • Improve Fire Safety in Transportation
  • General Aviation: Identify and Communicate Hazardous Weather
  • Implement Positive Train Control Systems
  • Promote Operational Safety in Rail Mass Transit
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation

 

 

 

 

Rising Statistics on Tractor Trailer Related Injuries

Attorney William J. Price discusses the pitfalls of proving lost wages
for a client injured in a tractor-trailer accident.

Each day, we go about our lives on the road — expecting those around us to be alert and aware of their surroundings so as not to cause an accident.

Despite improved safety measures, traffic accidents continue to occur across the country, with thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year. Deaths from U.S. motor vehicle crashes rose 5.3 percent in 2012, according to new numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s the first time since 2005 that fatalities have gone up. National Safety Commission officials pointed to distracted driving and an increase in the number of heavy trucks on the roads as possible explanations for increase.

Trucking Accidents

Earlier this year, the NHTSA released a Large Truck Report stating that 287,000 large trucks were involved in accidents in 2011, resulting in 3,757 deaths and injuring 88,000 people. The number of registered large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) have steadily increased from around 8 million in 2011 to over 10 million in 2013.

While tractor-trailer drivers undergo special schooling to drive such a vehicle, it is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to be aware and cautious while on the road. The truck may cause an accident due to improper maintenance or equipment failure. The driver can also contribute to an accident by allowing himself to become distracted.

A truck driver can become distracted by the same things divert the attention of all drivers, including cell phones, playing with the radio or looking at maps. Additionally, tractor-trailer drivers may be affected by long hours on the road. Some truckers drive for many more hours than is legally allowed – and that’s just the driving portion. They may have other work, such as loading and unloading, and the cumulative hours without rest can greatly affect the abilities of a truck driver.

Truck accidents are less common than collisions involving private vehicles, but they are associated with far more serious injuries. If you are struck by commercial truck, you and your family may face substantial economic and non-economic damages,  including medical expenses, prescription drug costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and even future losses — as some injuries can be significant and/or permanent.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above, read our blog, and explore our educational website at www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.
I welcome your call.

William J. Price

Tips to Avoid Traffic Accidents

by Arthur M. Elk

As a car accident lawyer, I have represented numerous plaintiffs in cases where someone made an error in judgment on the road. Many traffic accidents are the result of distractions, frustrations, impatience, or simply a lack of attention and awareness. Here are a few easy tips on how to avoid accidents in traffic.

Be Comfortable And Ready To Drive

Before you even turn the ignition, you should be seated comfortably in your car. Your seat should be properly adjusted to suit your height and ensure that you’re a comfortable distance from the pedals and the wheel. All of your mirrors should also be adjusted so that you have the best range of vision without needing to overly adjust.

Know Your Car

A car is just a tool we use to get around. So, one of the best ways to avoid an accident is to really understand your car’s limitations. Make a note of your blind spots and how you’ll adjust to them. Understand how your car responds to the gas pedal and how it feels when it’s shifting gears. As a car accident attorney, I recommend getting used to driving on open roads before driving in traffic.

Be Courteous and Practice Defensive Driving

The most effective way to avoid accidents is to be a courteous driver and practice some defensive driving techniques. The most crucial piece of advice that a car accident lawyer can give is to be aware of other people on the road. Leave a reasonable amount of room between you and other cars when stopped or when changing lanes. Follow all traffic signals and speed limits. Try not to get impatient or frustrated, especially when others around you might be making poor decisions.

Remember, everyone is on his or her way to some destination. If you can stay calm and aware, you can handle any level of traffic.

Six Key Elements that Impact Compensation in Car Accident Injury Claims

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by Arthur M. Elk

Victims of motor vehicle accidents may suffer from a number of serious problems, including injury and financial loss due to missed work. In many cases, hiring a personal injury attorney can make all the difference in getting financial compensation that will pay for medical costs and other expenses following the accident. Many factors affect whether compensation is granted and the amount. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, it is imperative to hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure the appropriate steps are taken quickly and correctly.

Here is a review of six key elements that impact compensation:

  1. How Quickly Medical Attention is Sought – Injured parties are advised to go to the emergency room or visit their doctor as soon as possible following the accident. Any delay in seeking treatment may lead to problems with the claim.
  2. Pre-Existing Medical Conditions – If you feel that additional damage has been done to a pre-existing medical condition, be sure to request a new x-ray or other review of the affected area from your doctor so that any further injury can be presented in the claim.
  3. Proper Documentation – There are many types of documents, including medical bills, lost wage reports, and repair bills, that will need to be properly filled out, gathered, and included in the claim.
  4. Witnesses – People who witnessed the accident and can give detailed reports on what they saw are an important piece of the puzzle. Providing firsthand information from a non-partisan third party can lend credibility to the victim’s claims of what happened.
  5. Policy Limits – Signed car insurance policies act as contracts and can set clear guidelines on what the insurance company may be held responsible for financially.
  6. Evidence – The scene of the accident will be reviewed thoroughly by officials, and they will collect anything that can be considered as evidence. This evidence may be reviewed with all other gathered information to determine eligibility for and amount of compensation.

As an injury attorney, I make sure to research all possible areas of compensation to get victims what they deserve. For more tips, download our free Accident Checklist.

Dozens injured in Ohio Bus Accident

A passenger bus crashed early this morning, just north of Cincinnati. The driver may have fallen asleep.

The Greyhound bus was carrying 51 passengers bound for Detroit when it careened off I-75 around 4:00 a.m., violently striking a tree and fence. The out-of-control vehicle flipped over twice before it finally came to rest on its side, injuring at least 35 people.

Nearly 100 first-responders arrived on the scene to find passengers suffering from a wide range of injuries. Six people required helicopter transportation to area hospitals and 29 were taken by ambulance. Reports indicate that emergency crews had to extract passengers trapped in the bus, some of whom had a suffered compound fracture – a grisly injury in which a broken bone pierces the skin.

Driver may have fallen asleep

Christopher Lake, a passenger from Michigan, told TV reporters that he saw the driver slumped over and heard a woman scream at the driver, “Wake up! Wake up!”

However, Kim Plaskett, a spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines Inc., assured reporters that the driver had only been on duty for an hour and was “fully rested.”

Interstate commercial passenger bus drivers must follow strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  Once drivers have been behind the wheel for 10 hours, they must rest for 8 hours before they are permitted to drive again. Additionally, there are limits for total weekly hours. Drivers may not exceed 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in an 8 day period.

Commercial drivers must also submit to a medical exam conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Physicians take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam – testing the driver’s vision, hearing, blood pressure, and screening for drugs and alcohol. The results are recorded in a medical report. The DOT exam is valid for 24 months.

Bus accidents are a serious problem

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “In the last two years, Greyhound buses have been involved in 102 crashes, three involving fatalities and 57 involving injuries. Nationally, in 2011 alone, there were 54,000 accidents involving buses, with 283 fatalities and 2,400 injuries.”

Don’t wait

In any motor vehicle crash, the period immediately after the crash is critical. Prompt investigations can capture accurate explanations of what happened and prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed. You can trust our experienced attorneys and comprehensive team of doctors, nurses, and accident reconstruction experts to investigate your claim.

For information about how our Ohio lawyers can help you obtain compensation for your damages after an accident, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online.

 

Sources:

“34 injured in Liberty Twp. bus crash” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, September 14, 2013. (Updated)

“Greyhound Bus Overturns In Southwest Ohio; 34 Injured” by Lisa Cornwell, Huffington Post, September 14, 2013.

Ohio bus crash: Did driver fall asleep?Christian Science Monitor/AP, September 14, 2013.

Texting a Driver May Make You Liable

Cell-Stop-Sign-10x15

People who send text messages to motorists may be found liable for accidents that occur from texting and driving. In Kubert v. Best, a New Jersey appeals court found that a person who texts someone that is driving can be held liable for personal injuries sustained by others who are involved in an accident caused by the driver.

“We hold that, when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time,” Judge Victor Ashrafi wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Shannon Colonna, a co-defendant in the case, had sent text messages to Kyle Best while he was driving his Chevy pickup truck. Mr. Best subsequently crossed the center line and sideswiped a motorcycle – causing serious injuries to the driver and his passenger. Although Colonna was not found to be liable (it was not clear if she knew the driver would read the text message) the court’s ruling has opened the door for future claims against remote texters.

Narrow Ruling

It should be noted that the court’s decision imposes only a limited duty on those sending texts. “The mere sending of a wireless transmission” to a person operating a motor vehicle is not enough. It must also be shown that the remote sender knew or had reason to know that the recipient was driving and likely to read the text message while driving.

The Court reasoned that this limitation is necessary because “the act of sending such messages, by itself, is not active encouragement that the recipient read the text and respond immediately, that is, while driving and in violation of the law.”

Better safe than sorry

While this was a New Jersey case, it’s no secret that driving while texting and other forms of distracted driving is a widespread problem.  Nationally, there were 387,000 injuries and 3,331 deaths in 2011 due to motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Other judges and lawmakers across the country are likely to consider this case when making future rulings or drafting new laws.

Just how dangerous is it to text? Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field – blind.

  • If you are driving, let your friends and family know that you’ll be behind the wheel and unable to answer their messages.
  • If you know someone is driving, or do not immediately receive a reply to your text – wait for them to arrive at their destination. Sending repeated texts demanding a reply could cause an accident – for which you may be partially liable.

Source:

Can you really be liable for texting a driver?” by Doug Gross, CNN, August 29, 2013.

Things to Do Following a Car Accident

by Arthur M. Elk

 

Any motor vehicle accident can be incredibly overwhelming. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or major damage, a few bumps and bruises or serious injuries, it is very important to remain calm and collected. There’s a lot to think about. To be prepared, here are a few tips I have as a car accident attorney to help you through the process.

One way to prepare is to ensure that you have all the information you will need to share with the other party. Make sure that you have a pen and a piece of paper so you can write down their information. You will need their name, address, contact phone number or e-mail, as well as the make and model of their vehicle, the license plate number, and their insurance carrier and policy number.

accidentchecklist-small-1

As a car accident lawyer, I know how stressful being in a crash can be. The very first thing that you should do is to think about your safety and the safety of others. Move your vehicle off the road if you can. If you or someone else is injured, call 911. If there is significant damage to the vehicle or debris in the road, call the police. If there is minimal damage or you need to see if anything has happened, you can choose to simply swap information with the other driver.

Once you start talking, be sure to watch what you say. Even if you feel bad about what happened, resist the urge to apologize or admit fault in any way. Your statements may used against you later by the police or insurance companies. If the police are called, make sure that in addition to the other driver’s information, you get the officer’s name, badge number, and the police report number. This will make filing a claim easier and help your car accident lawyer access the information when needed.

Remember to utilize all the resources available to you: The police,  emergency medical staff, and an experienced attorney are there to help when you need it the most.

For more information, download our FREE Accident Checklist to keep in your car.

 

Things to Do Following a Car Accident

by Arthur M. Elk

 

Any motor vehicle accident can be incredibly overwhelming. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or major damage, a few bumps and bruises or serious injuries, it is very important to remain calm and collected. There’s a lot to think about. To be prepared, here are a few tips I have as a car accident attorney to help you through the process.

One way to prepare is to ensure that you have all the information you will need to share with the other party. Make sure that you have a pen and a piece of paper so you can write down their information. You will need their name, address, contact phone number or e-mail, as well as the make and model of their vehicle, the license plate number, and their insurance carrier and policy number.

accidentchecklist-small-1

As a car accident lawyer, I know how stressful being in a crash can be. The very first thing that you should do is to think about your safety and the safety of others. Move your vehicle off the road if you can. If you or someone else is injured, call 911. If there is significant damage to the vehicle or debris in the road, call the police. If there is minimal damage or you need to see if anything has happened, you can choose to simply swap information with the other driver.

Once you start talking, be sure to watch what you say. Even if you feel bad about what happened, resist the urge to apologize or admit fault in any way. Your statements may used against you later by the police or insurance companies. If the police are called, make sure that in addition to the other driver’s information, you get the officer’s name, badge number, and the police report number. This will make filing a claim easier and help your car accident lawyer access the information when needed.

Remember to utilize all the resources available to you: The police,  emergency medical staff, and an experienced attorney are there to help when you need it the most.

For more information, download our FREE Accident Checklist to keep in your car.

 

Failure to Yield accidents 2nd leading cause of fatal crashes in Ohio

yieldBy Arthur Elk

I was not surprised to hear that excessive speed is the leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Ohio. It also didn’t surprise me to read what the second leading cause of fatal accidents is: Failure to Yield violations. In 2012, motorists running red lights, stop signs or failing to yield to traffic caused 37,475 crashes in Ohio. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, these accidents killed 187 people and injured another 23,353.

The Highway Patrol is making a concerted effort to crack down on these violations. In 2012, troopers wrote 22,025 citations for Failure to Yield, a 3 percent increase from 2011. About one-fourth of the citations were issued after an accident.

It should be no surprise that the largest number of Failure to Yield accidents took place in counties with major metropolitan areas. Franklin County had the most crashes (5,430) with Cuyahoga County coming in second place (3,335).

Young drivers, ages 16-25, were at-fault in nearly one-third (30 percent) of these crashes. That is nearly double the rate of those aged 26-35 (16 percent). Parents need to remind young people often to pay attention when behind the wheel. There are too many things that can distract them and cause them to run a red light or a stop sign. Drivers of all ages need to put away their cell phones and focus on the road and the other vehicles around them.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol offers these tips to avoid failure to yield crashes:

  • Slow down and take your time
  • Look both ways before entering an intersection
  • Signal every turn and lane change
  • Make a complete stop at stop lights and stop signs
  • Yield to other drivers and be courteous

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Please check out our website.