Advanced Crash-avoidance Features do not Lessen Drivers’ Duty to Focus Fully on the Road

Nov 22

Records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 90% of all road crashes, which go beyond five million every year, is due to bad road behavior, such as driving while intoxicated, speeding, driving recklessly, ignoring traffic signs and signals, making improper lane changes, not focusing on the road, and either texting or talking with someone over the phone.

Using a cell phone, while driving, is now the worst form of driving distraction in the US. In 2012, distractions while behind the wheel resulted to 3,328 fatal crashes and 421,000 injuries, an increase of 9% from the 387,000 figure in 2011 and, while all other 2013 road accident data from the NHTSA showed declines in death and injuries (these include records on the different types of vehicle crashes and the causes of these crashes, and injuries involving pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists), distraction-affected crashes resulting to injuries remained to increase.

As defined by CDC, driving distraction is any activity that takes away a driver’s attention on driving. The real scary thing about this is that anyone is prone to distractions, including drivers who are always concerned about safety. There is a very long list of actions that can distract a driver, so many of these are too simple that people usually never realize the risk of accident they present. Distractions include conversing with a passenger, eating, looking at a map, adjusting a GPS or the car radio, turning the radio’s volume to full blast, fixing a tie, reaching for something from the backseat, playing with a child, putting on makeup, driving angry, and so forth.

Professional drivers and authorities list down three major types of driving distractions, namely:

  • Visual, which involves taking one’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual, which is taking the hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive, a case wherein a driver’s mind wanders off

Driving requires undivided attention on the road. This is to enable a driver to veer away from anything that may cause an accident without losing control of the vehicle. Recently, various advanced crash-avoidance features have been installed in cars which hope to prevent or avoid accidents, or help reduce the severity of an impact. Some of these features are improved seat belts and air bags, the All-wheel drive, which maximizes traction by distributing power to both front and rear wheels, the Electronic Stability Control, which helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles even during extreme steering maneuvers, the Automatic braking, which allows a car to brake automatically to prevent a crash or lessen its impact, and Reverse backup sensors, which automatically beeps if a driver is about to hit something while backing up.

Despite these advanced safety features, a San Antonio personal injury attorney would mention that auto accidents remain a top cause of serious injuries and wrongful death in the US, primarily because of distracted driving, which is an act of negligence and which makes an erring driver totally responsible for the pain, suffering, and losses that victims sustain in an accident.

This suffering, which the Truslow Law Firm explains in an article in its website, does not only include the physical and emotional pain experienced by victims, but the growing financial burden resulting from medical costs and other damages as well.

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Workplace Injuries: What if Workers’ Comp Cash Benefit is not enough to cover all Damages Resulting from an Injury?

Nov 21

Annually, from 2012 to 2014, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), which is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has recorded almost three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector, including those that occur in office settings, construction sites and industrial sites. While danger is much more extensive and threatening in construction and industrial sites due to the types of machines, equipment, substances and tools that workers use, office employees have their own share of danger too and, though many assume that offices are safe working environments, well, they better think again.

Office environments present various types of potential injuries that are different from other lines of work. Writing or typing on a computer for nearly eight hours every day and making or answering phone calls endlessly, both in seated position and in an indoor workplace setting, many employees are prone to developing vision problems caused by the glare of computer monitors, hands and wrists pains, and back and neck pains. Then there are risks of injuries which are common in any working environment, such as: electrocution due to faulty electrical cords; head or neck injuries due to supplies in stockrooms or shelves falling on employees; cut or laceration, a result of running into, or bumping against, a glass window, a wall, a door, a cabinet, or a chair; possible health problems due to poor ventilation and poor air quality; slipping; and, tripping, which remains to be the most common cause of injury in offices.

Employers have the legal responsibility of providing their employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This legal obligation is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which the US Congress passed into law in 1970. OSH Act, in turn, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971, giving it the task of enforcing the standards mandated by OSH Act.

To ensure that employers comply with OSH Act’s safety and health standards, OSHA conducts regular inspection and encourages employees to report their employer if they believe that he or she is not complying with OSHA rules; employees can also request OSHA to inspect their workplace if their employer does not act to find and correct safety and health hazards.

On its website, the law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC explains through an article how financially burdening work-related injuries can be, and that though injured workers can seek cash benefits from the state- mandated and administered Workers’ Compensation program, this benefit, which is about two thirds of an injured worker’s average wage, is often not enough even to cover costly medical treatment. If an injury is a direct result of an employer’s intentional negligence or caused by a third party, like a client, then an injured victim can file a civil lawsuit instead (against his/her employer or liable third party) to get the full amount of compensation that will cover all the present and future damages resulting from his/her sustained work-related injury. Filing a lawsuit, specifically against his/her employer, however, means waiving his/her right to file a Workers’ Comp claim. For higher chances of receiving full compensation, though, an injured victim may want to consider seeking legal help from a highly-qualified personal injury lawyer, who may just be able to help him/her compute the amount of compensation that he/she may want to seek in order to cover all damages related to his/her injury.

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Counter-arguing Charges of Impaired Driving

Nov 20

DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, and DUI, for driving under the influence, are serious crimes that refer to driving while impaired by the effects of either alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs). While some states use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to the same crime, others differentiate between the two, using DUI to signify lesser intoxication, thus, charging a driver with a lesser offense.

All US states consider a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher as impaired driving and, to further reduce drunk or drugged driving incidences, some authoritative bodies have been empowered to set lower BAC limits, as well as impose more severe penalties on offenders. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for instance, has set a zero tolerance level for those below the age of 21, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated a 0.04% BAC limit for those driving a commercial vehicle, such as a truck.

Many states are also becoming stricter in enforcing anti-drunk driving laws, thus the setting up of more sobriety check points and enforcers becoming more observant of signs of drunk driving. An enforcer, of course, has the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired and require him or her to perform some tests, like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line, and even submit to a breathalyzer test.

Professional-grade breathalyzer devices, like those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing are acknowledged as highly accurate and sensitive. There are important factors, however, that enforcers need to consider when using these devices on suspected drunk drivers:

  • These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate reading; failure to calibrate these regularly can affect BAC analysis.
  • Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain (even small amounts of) alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.
  • Acetone, which is detectable in the breath of those on high protein diets and diabetics, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

Impairment, the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the (impaired) driver and all others on the road, is the top reason why drinking and driving is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. But, while this may be a totally acceptable reason for apprehending and charging offenders, one main issue that has led to so many legal concerns is the overzealousness of some enforcers which has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.

In an article posted in its website, the Law Offices of Richard A. Portale, P.C., affirms the increased attention given by law enforcers on drunk driving and the maximum penalties imposed on those charged. But while said law firm may be concerned about the steep penalties that those charged can suffer from, it is much more worried about the serious professional and personal consequences of a criminal charge on the accused. This same legal concern is mentioned and explained in an article found in a website with address, www.lomtl.com/practice-areas/alcohol-offenses/driving-while-intoxicated/. Aside from the possible penalties and life-altering effects of a DWI conviction, the article also mentions the importance of contacting a criminal (DWI) defense attorney immediately, for the hope of possibly clearing one’s name of all criminal charges.

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Securing Your Loved Ones’ Financial Future Free from Debts and Disputes

Nov 19

To so many Americans, one very common financial concern is meeting essential expenses, such as mortgage or rent payment, student loans, monthly bills and credit card payments; to some others, there is also the additional concern of child support.

With all the bills and debts to pay, and with the almost inadequate monthly wage, many, especially parents, are often left wondering what else is there to leave behind if they die.

Minding family financial matters can be a very worrisome concern – but only because many are led to believe that making financial plans for their loved ones’ future (after they die) is only for the wealthy class. People tend to dismiss the thought that the things they have, no matter how “not so expensive” these may be, are worth bequeathing to their spouse and/or child. A house, a car, an antique jewelry, an antique table or furniture, an insurance policy, retirement pay, an old painting, or a small business, maybe – these things are worth passing on to all who people care for.

While some feel hopeless and fear losing a house or a car due to inability to continue making mortgage payments or a car bank loan, plus the growing debts which will obviously reach an amount that will already be impossible to pay, seeking help from a highly-qualified bankruptcy lawyer can be one solution to finally end their financial crisis and see a financial future worth hoping for.

Through an article posted in its website, the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, explains just how filing and qualifying for bankruptcy can help individuals and families return to enjoying financial freedom. Contrary to the negative consequences many associate with bankruptcy, this legal process rather serves, as the Bradford Law Offices puts it, as an invaluable tool that will help debtors restore order to their finances.

After bankruptcy (depending on the particular bankruptcy chapter that may work on an applicant’s specific situation) has erased some debts and has made the remaining debts much easier to pay, a family can now think more clearly about making plans for their loved ones’ financial future. One way is by making an estate plan, a plan made by a testator (a person writing the Will) before his or her death. An estate plan names the people to whom a testator intends to leave behind his or her assets or properties after he or she dies.

Estate planning basically starts with the drafting of a Will. A Will, as explained in the website of Peck Ritchey, LLC, is intended to administer the last wishes of an individual; it a legally binding document that gives instructions as how a testators’ assets will be distributed and to whom these will be distributed. A Will, however, can be subjected to contest, if any beneficiary or family member suspects its contents as not reflective of the actual intentions of the testator or if the wordings cannot be clearly interpreted. This makes it very important that a testator draft a Will with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, who may be able to help make sure that its wordings will be clear enough so prevent any potential disputes among beneficiaries and family members.

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Eliminating Possible Unseen Causes Truck Accidents

Nov 18

More goods are again being imported into the US, resulting to availability of more products, a wider array of goods to choose from, and maybe even more jobs that will help augment many families’ monthly income – thanks to this nation’s continuously improving economy.

One clear sign of this economic growth is the increased presence of large, 18-wheeler trucks or big rigs on US roads and highways, many of which travel long distances carrying loads of products that need to be delivered. But, as pointed out in an article on the Ausband & Dumont website, while these trucks may be said to be making major contributions in “filling our nation’s transportation and distribution needs,” these also serve as major threats on the road, the cause of half a million accidents every year. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck accidents cause more than 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths annually.

Many drivers blame fatal truck accidents (as well as the continuous increases in the number of these accidents) on commercial truck drivers who the victims say act like the commercial drivers believe that they have the right of way, are careless on the road, and often failing to consider the presence of smaller vehicles.

The tide of blame, however, takes a totally different course when considering truck drivers’ opinion or results of various studies and surveys. One big rig driver for instance, who has been on the road for almost 30 years, cites the failure of many car drivers to use turn signals. Even the Automobile Association of America’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, though surprising as it may be, says that 75% of the accidents involving trucks and cars are the fault of car drivers – the same view held by majority of the 800 poll respondents, who said that passenger vehicle drivers drive more dangerously near and around trucks, making unsafe lane changes, tailgating, speeding, cutting in front of a truck and then immediately slowing down.

Trucks move/maneuver much slower than cars, therefore, it needs more room; these also have blind spots or areas where smaller vehicles are not visible to their drivers. Now, while it is true that car drivers need to learn how to drive safely around cars (a topic not included in required tests and books when applying for a driver’s license), truck drivers, on their part, as professional drivers, should be more watchful and be more considerate to drivers of smaller vehicles (trucks always adjusting to smaller vehicles, however, can have consequential effects on the business operation of those in the trucking industry). But to actually reduce the number of preventable tragic accidents, acting responsibly and observing laws are necessary in order to eliminate possible unseen causes of these accidents and so ensure safety in the trucking business.

Without doubt, responsible actions and observance of laws will always ensure: production of truck tires and other vital truck parts that comply with federal standards; construction of good roads and proper maintenance of these; hiring or qualified drivers, making sure that they are further trained, and keeping bad ones off the road; and, making sure that truck loads are equally distributed and properly secured.

“The inherent danger that large 18-wheelers pose,” as explained in the website of the law firm David Ravid and Associates, “makes it imperative that all of the proper safety measures are taken and that these trucks are well maintained.” There are many different reasons why truck accidents occur; however, one sure thing is that when accidents do happen, the ones most seriously harmed are drivers of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, etc.

While it is a sad fact that the harm resulting from a truck accident can no longer be undone, victims should also never be allowed to suffer the financial consequences of such accident.

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