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Self-Driving-Semi-TruckOn March 18, 2018, a 49-year-old woman was killed after being struck by one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles in Tempe, Arizona. Around 10:00 p.m. that evening, the victim was crossing the street when she was struck by an Uber autonomous vehicle traveling approximately 40 miles per hour. This tragic accident has received heavy media coverage as a story of major public interest. Autonomous and self-driving vehicles have surged in popularity recently, with some of the biggest tech companies in the world investing heavily in the technology.

As more information continues to be released, here are 5 things to know at this time:

1. The accident happened with a human operator sitting inside Uber’s self-driving car. It is common for companies testing self-driving vehicles to utilize “test operators” to remain inside the vehicle. Their roles include monitoring the road and being able to grab the wheel, apply the brakes, or take other corrective action when necessary. Video footage of the inside of the Uber car showed the operator, a 44-year-old man, appearing to look at something else inside the car when the accident happened, instead of being focused on the road ahead at all times.

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Car-Crash-Cell-Phone-PhotoLike all states, the Volunteer State sees its fair share of motor vehicle accidents. Accidents can cause one’s life to flip upside down in the blink of an eye. While some victims are fortunate in that the wreck causes little to no damage to anyone’s vehicle or property, others are not nearly as lucky. Catastrophic accidents can cause permanent injuries or even death. The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security works to protect Tennesseans and reduce motor vehicle crashes, which includes providing driver education and keeping track of statistics.

2017 Tennessee driving statistics were recently released, and they yielded interesting results. For starters, there were a total of 208,104 motor vehicle crashes statewide, with 50,174 deemed to have caused an injury. Of course, these would only include injuries reported at the scene, so this figure is likely much higher considering some motor vehicle accident related injuries can take hours, days, or longer to develop. The total accident figure is an increase from 2016, when 206,404 wrecks were reported. While accidents saw a slight increase from 2016 to 2017, these figures represent a stark increase from 2008, when 159,214 accidents were reported.

In 2017, fatal car accidents slightly increased from 2016, going from 1,037 to 1,040. July was the deadliest month, with 120 fatal crashes. This can likely be attributed to the 4th of July, a holiday that typically sees a higher rate of drunk driving. 83 of the fatal crashes in 2017 involved teen drivers, compared to 103 in 2016. While teen driving fatalities decreased, the opposite occurred to seniors aged 65 and older. In 2017, 250 seniors were involved in deadly accidents, compared to 231 in 2016. Pedestrian fatalities also increased from 2016, going from 110 to 134.

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On March 1, 2018, in Carpenter v. Southern Transit, the Tennessee’ Workers Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of NST’s client that had suffered an on the job injury. Following his injury, our client’s medical treatment recommended by his doctor was denied by multiple insurance carriers, leading to NST attorney Monica R. Rejaei filing for an expedited hearing on the issue, which was granted. The decision was appealed, with the insurance companies claiming our client’s injuries were not caused by his employment.

Under Tennessee workers’ compensation law, “injury” is defined to mean “an injury arising out of and in the course of employment that causes either disablement or death of the employee and shall include occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of employment that cause either disablement or death of the employee.” To determine whether one’s condition constitutes an on the job “injury” compensable through workers’ compensation, relevant evidence can include the employee’s medical records and testimony of the treating physician.

Our client is a 66 year old resident of Memphis, Tennessee, employed as a truck driver for a logistics company. Occasionally, he would drive trucks belonging to another trucking company in the area when his primary truck was being serviced. In November 2016, while operating a truck belonging to the other company but within the course and scope of his employment, our client was transferring a trailer to another driver and bringing said driver’s trailer back to the hub. During this travel, the driver’s seat in the tractor was broken, continuously striking him in the lower back throughout his travel. He reported this injury to his supervisor that day. Just over one week later, as our client was stepping out of the truck belonging to the other company, he felt a sharp pain in his lower back that radiated down into his legs. This incident was once again reported to his supervisor.

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On March 1, 2018, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz (NST Law) opened an office in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to better serve the growing client base throughout Southeast Missouri, which includes Cape Girardeau County (including Cape Girardeau and Scott City), Scott County (including Sikeston and Benton), Butler County (including Poplar Bluff), Stoddard County (including Dexter), Pemiscot County (including Hayti and Caruthersville), Dunklin County (including Malden and Kennett), St. Francois County (including Farmington and Bonne Terre), and surrounding areas. NST attorneys David W. Hill and Glenn K. Vines are licensed to practice law in Missouri, and attorneys Amanda Altman and Travis Bargeon will serve as Of-Counsel to the firm’s Cape Girardeau office.

Our Cape Girardeau office is located at:

210 N. Sprigg Street

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On February 8, 2018, in Bowlin v. Servall, LLC, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court ruling in favor of one of NST’s clients who was injured on the job. Following the trial court ruling that out client was entitled to medical benefits for her severe neck injury resulting from an automobile accident, the employer appealed alleging that the employer’s substantial compliance with the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program rules was sufficient for the employee’s claim to be denied due to her drug test results that showed positive for marijuana. The employer additionally claimed that the trial court erred in awarding attorney’s fees based upon the unpaid medical bills.

In Tennessee, a workers’ compensation claim can be denied if an injured worker tests positive for any illegal substance, even if the injured worker was not actually under the influence of the illegal substance at the time of the injury. For example, if an employee used marijuana seven (7) days before that employee was injured at work, the employer can maintain denial of the claim based on the positive drug test results following the injury.

In the event an injured worker tests positive for any illegal substance following an injury, the viability of their claim may depend on whether their employer is certified through the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program and follows all statutory requirements of this Program.

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Car-Driving-in-RainCar accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. However, when bad weather is involved, the chances of a wreck taking place increase exponentially. According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 22% of auto accidents each year occur in bad weather such as rain, sleet, snow, fog, heavy winds, or ice. On average, 73% of weather-related wrecks occur on wet pavement, 46% when it is raining, 17% during snow or sleet, and 13% on icy pavement.

Between 2005-2014, there were more than 1.2 million weather related car accidents across the United States. In these accidents, more than 445,000 people suffered injuries, and nearly 6,000 involved lost their lives. These are troubling statistics no matter how you read them, but they are even more concerning when considering most could have been prevented through exercising caution.

To recover for your losses following a car accident, you will likely need to show the other driver acted negligently. Negligence is generally defined as the failure to act reasonably under the circumstances. Generally speaking, drivers always owe other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others a legal duty to act reasonably, exercise caution, and drive safely. In the context of bad weather, additional precautions are typically needed.

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Air-Bag-Deployed-in-Crashed-Car-SmallThe largest automotive recall in United States history is getting even bigger. While nearly 70 million airbags have already been or will be recalled, Takata is adding another 3.3 million to the list. The Takata recall initiative has shaken up the auto industry, with the U.S. Department of Justice bringing criminal charges against the company and key employees and executives. In January 2017, the company entered a guilty plea in response to charges brought by the government, which included paying a large fine of $1 billion.

Is your vehicle affected by the newest recall? This Takata airbag recall is affecting certain models from 2009, 2010, and 2013, manufactured by automakers listed below. A full list of specific models is set to be released later in January by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Honda
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Officer-Writing-Ticket-SmallAccording to a recent report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the number of traffic citations issued to Hamilton County drivers decreased for the 5th year in a row in 2017. For example, in 2012, police officers in Chattanooga wrote 6,776 tickets for speeding and 1,653 tickets for seatbelt violations. In 2017, officers only wrote 2,119 speeding tickets and 378 seatbelt violation tickets. On a similar note, tickets for red light violations dropped from 668 to 280.

With tickets going down, that must mean more people are choosing to follow the rules of the road, right? Not so fast. The Chattanooga Police Department has provided several reasons why traffic citations are declining in the area. The first concerns officer discretion. A supervisor of the Chattanooga Police Department’s traffic division stated police officers have discretion when it comes to issuing tickets and citations. For example, if an officer pulls someone over for speeding, he or she can issue a verbal warning instead of writing a ticket. Since the police department wants to always encourage safe driving, some officers believe that having a conversation with the offender and providing a verbal warning can do more to prevent violations in the future than writing that person up with a citation.

Police attrition may also be linked to less tickets being issued. Losing officers has been a problem for many municipal police departments over the year, and the issue is no stranger to Chattanooga. According to the Chattanooga Police Department, between three and four police officers leave the department each month, on average, with some being transferred to new divisions and others leaving the force altogether.

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Sports Fans,

Be on the lookout for 2 of NST’s television commercials during the big College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs. The championship game between these SEC rivals takes place on Monday, January 8th at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Kick off starts at 7:00 pm Central time on ESPN. You don’t want to miss this game! Team NST and championship football…..a WINNING COMBINATION!!!

For a sneak peak, here are the commercials that will air during the telecast:

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Keys-Laying-on-Insurance-Policy-SmallCar insurance is required in all states. The law requires drivers to carry valid liability insurance in case they cause an accident that harms another person or damages their property. Drivers caught operating a vehicle without valid coverage can be subject to fines and citations for financial responsibility. Repeat offenders may be subject to imprisonment. In most states, vehicle owners are only required to purchase liability coverage. Vehicle owners then have the option of purchasing additional coverage to protect them in the event that they are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

When it comes to purchasing auto insurance, the term “full coverage” is thrown around fairly often. Before making the ultimate decision, people consider the price of additional coverage and the likelihood they feel they may use it. It is common to hear many who have the following types of coverage believe they have full coverage.

  • Liability coverage. This covers bodily injuries and property damage caused by your negligence, or the negligence of an authorized driver. This coverage is required in all states.