Articles Posted in Auto Accident

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Construction-Site-SmallMarch 18, 2013 was a tragic day for the family of David Priester, Jr. – the 38-year-old Boeing employee fell from an elevated platform at Boeing’s campus and ultimately passed away. In August 2017, his widow got justice from a jury in the form of an $8.8 million verdict against SAR Automation, the company Boeing hired to program the computer that controlled movable sliders on the platform in which Priester fell. Suit was filed against SAR Automation and two other companies. Claims against those companies settled before the trial began.

At trial, it was argued that SAR Automation did not properly program multiple safety features designed to prevent accidents, such as sirens and warning lights. On Priester’s platform, sliders were supposed to be no more than 3 inches from the aircraft at any given time. However, in this particular case, one of the platforms did not extend as it should have, and Priester fell 18 feet through the gap. His eventual death was caused by brain injuries suffered in the fall.

This case highlights many issues in the industrial and construction industries. With workers operating complex machinery, relying on innovative technology, and performing taxing manual labor, they are some of the most dangerous industries worldwide, and those dangers are only exacerbated when an unsafe workplace is provided. While employers must follow state safety regulations and OSHA standards, mistakes do happen. Unfortunately for the injured employee, his or her exclusive remedy against the employer is likely to be workers’ compensation, even if the employer could have been considered negligent in some form or fashion. While workers’ compensation provides valuable medical benefits, wage benefits are awarded at a reduced rate, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering are generally not recoverable. This results in injured employees not being completely made whole after an accident.

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Post-Accident-Car-Large-SmallBeing involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Whether you are sitting still at a red light and get rear-ended, riding on a bus that crashes into another car, or clipped by a car while riding a bicycle, the potential for immediate pain is always there. Many car accident victims in Tennessee require medical assistance at the scene of the crash before being transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance. Severely injured victims may be airlifted. Others will try to deal with the pain on their own before choosing to seek treatment within the next few days. This will likely leave you wondering what exactly you may be entitled to under the law.

An accident can place a victim in a bind. With the cost of medical treatment in the United States continuing to rise, many people simply cannot afford unplanned expenses like these. It becomes even more difficult if the wreck renders the victim unable to work due to constant physical pain. A sudden lack of transportation is another issue altogether. If you were injured in a car accident, you are not alone in wondering about your rights under Tennessee law. Below are elements of damages that may apply to your case:

  • Property damage – If your vehicle was involved in the accident, your vehicle will either be deemed repairable or a total loss. If total loss, the law states you are entitled to fair market value (FMV) at the time of the accident. Other out of pocket expenses can be recovered, such as rental car fees, towing, storage, and damaged personal items.
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ThinkstockPhotos-599896574-SmallA large auto recall is currently underway with General Motors (GM). More than 800,000 trucks are affected across the United States and Canada, including certain 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks. The issue with this recall concerns power steering. These models have been found to suddenly lose power steering with no warning whatsoever to the driver. This is highly dangerous because a sudden loss of power steering could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the loss of power steering can occur when the vehicle is using certain levels of electrical power. This can be triggered when a vehicle is making a turn at low speed, among other actions. When such power steering problems occur, the driver could lose control of the steering wheel. While the power steering could ultimately return within as little as one second, the short period of time without it could result in a car accident if the driver does lose control of the vehicle. This is what has federal auto regulators worried and prompted the recall.

Per NHTSA guidelines, GM is required to notify all vehicle owners affected by this recall. To see if your vehicle is included, you can visit the NHTSA’s website. Some owners of these vehicles are no stranger to recalls, as these trucks were subject to a 2016 recall involving 3.64 million cars with airbag software problems.

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Did you know that you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi while injured on the job, even if you are found to be at fault for speeding during an automobile accident? In a June 2016 decision (affirmed in July 2017) from the Mississippi Court of Appeals, a police officer for the City of Jackson was injured while speeding and on his way to an emergency call. His employer, the City, alleged that he was acting with a “willful intent to injure” himself, and based on this intent, that he should not be permitted to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The case is City of Jackson v. Kearney Brown, No. 2016-WC-01164-COA.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals disagreed with the employer, stating that in the 10-0 decision mentioned above, that the police officer was entitled to benefits, regardless of his disputed fault. Workers’ compensation laws in the State of Mississippi cover injured workers who receive injuries by way of an accident arising out of the course and scope of their employment. However, workers’ compensation benefits will not be paid to an injured worker if they were injured by their willful intent. This test for willfulness is based on intent and whether the facts of the claim support a willful intent to injure oneself.

The attorneys for the employer above tried to argue that the police officer intentionally injured himself, which meant he should not be paid benefits owed to him pursuant to Mississippi law. The facts presented by the employee showed that he was injured by an accident, and therefore, he was entitled to his benefits.

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Driver fatigue is a widespread issue across the country. Research shows that drivers who are fatigued tend to exhibit many of the same side effects as drunk drivers – delayed reaction times, impaired judgment, and lapses in concentration, just to name a few. What has recently come to light is a troubling trend – Uber drivers working dangerously long shifts. According to USA Today, an Uber driver in Utah drove for 20 consecutive hours on at least one occasion last year to take advantage of a sudden spike in the hourly rate he could earn. Situations like this are occurring across the country. Uber drivers in the Seattle area are reported to work in excess of 16 consecutive hours.

As of this time, Uber does not cap the number of consecutive hours that its drivers can work. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits passenger-carrying vehicles to 10 hours of driving following 8 consecutive hours off duty, Uber vehicles do not fall under the definition of passenger-carrying vehicles. Thus, drivers would not be subject to federal hours-of-service guidelines. Lyft, on the other hand, has been reported to shut down its app after a driver has been logged on for 14 hours and will not let that user log back on until 6 hours after that.

According to Uber, only 7% of drivers work in excess of 50 hours per week. Further, Uber claims that it recognizes the dangers of drowsy driving, investigates instances of driver misconduct, and takes appropriate action when necessary.

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ThinkstockPhotos-525489094-MediumThe time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the “100 deadliest days of summer” around the Knoxville area. When the school year ends, more teenagers are out on the road during summer, either enjoying their time off or driving to and from summer jobs. In fact, AAA estimates that fatal teen accidents increase by 15% during the summer months. Leading causes of those wrecks are speeding, distracted driving, and not using seatbelts.

Teen driving is not just an issue in Knox County. Nationwide, motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death for teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data shows that on average, approximately 6 teens between the ages of 16-19 are killed each day as a result of a car accident.  Further, teens in that age range are nearly 3 times as likely to be involved in a fatal wreck than drivers who are 20 years old or older.

When discussing a link between teenage driving and car accidents, the CDC lists eight “danger zones.” They include the following:

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Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are often stereotyped as a lot of things: entitled, sensitive, idealistic. Some people even blame a number of society’s problems squarely on millennials. While many of these perceptions are generally untrue, one fact is concerning: millennial drivers display riskier and more erratic driving behavior than other demographics.

A study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) presented evidence that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 display far more risky driving behavior than adults and senior citizens. The study found that roughly 88% of the 2,511 licensed drivers surveyed displayed at least one risky driving behavior in the last month. Risky driving behavior, as defined by the AAA, included speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and using a cell phone. Millennials acknowledged texting while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers, and nearly half of the individuals surveyed reported running a red light, even if they could have stopped the vehicle safely.

Not surprisingly, the study fits with findings of a 7% increase in accident fatalities from 2015 to 2016. This increase follows a tragic trend in the frequency of traffic-related fatalities, which legislators throughout the country, at the federal, state, and local levels, are keenly aware of. Many states rely on marketing campaigns to increase awareness of ways to prevent fatal car accidents. For example, entities like the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Mississippi Department of Transportation routinely publish car wreck statistics on their websites to ensure citizens are informed about motor vehicle-related dangers.

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Self-serve taprooms are on the brink of revolutionizing the bar industry by adding the same elements that make self-serve frozen yogurt places so wildly popular. For example, Pour Taproom is a chain of bars that sell a wide variety of craft beer, but with a slight twist: customers pour their own drinks. Customers can pour as much, or as little, as they like and pay by the ounce. Naturally, when Pour Taproom attempted to obtain a beer license for its newest establishment in Knoxville, it raised some red flags.

The Knoxville City Council has voiced legitimate safety concerns over the bar’s method of serving customers. The self-serve policy seems to be ripe with potential Tennessee dram shop lawsuits, which is one reason why the Knoxville City Council raised the possibility of an ordinance that would effectively ban self-serve bars. Knoxville Beer Board chair, Brenda Palmer, explained that the new ordinance would only permit service of beer from the permit holder, the permit holder’s employees, or agents of the permit holder.

Board members and concerned citizens are worried that self-serve bars’ new style of service could be dangerous. With semi-unregulated drinking and with the option to pour more beer than would traditionally be served, there is the definite possibility of an influx of serving alcohol to people who are too intoxicated.

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Did you know that on average, 88% of drivers use their cell phones at some point while driving? This statistic was released in a recent study conducted by Zendrive, a company that measures driver safety. The study analyzed 3.1 million drivers between December 2016 and February 2017. The subjects made 570 million trips covering 5.6 billion miles. The study made many findings, including that drivers used a cell phone during 88% of the 570 million trips. Further, for every one hour driven, drivers spent an average of 3.5 minutes on the phone.

The study then ranked all 50 states by the prevalence of distracted driving. Here is Zendrive’s list of the 10 states where distracted driving is most prevalent:

  1. Vermont
  2. Mississippi
  3. Louisiana
  4. Alabama
  5. Arkansas
  6. Oklahoma
  7. New Jersey
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Missouri
  10. Massachusetts

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We are taught at a young age to look both ways before crossing the street. However, despite our best efforts, pedestrian related accidents occur at shocking numbers. A statistic from 2015 found that over 5,300 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, equating to one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours. Additionally, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.

Recently, the city of San Francisco, California, was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from a pedestrian crash that took the life of a 38-year-old disabled woman. The victim was struck by a vehicle and killed as she crossed Market Street back in February 2016. The vehicle that struck and killed her was operated by an employee of the city of San Francisco, who was acting on behalf of the city at the time of the crash. According to the accident report, the driver made an illegal left-hand turn on to Market Street, striking the victim who was lawfully in the pedestrian crosswalk. According to reports, a settlement of $2.9 million was expected.

The victim’s death has brought about positive change from the city of San Francisco. The site of the victim’s death, and many other dangerous locations throughout the city, is receiving new signage clarifying illegal turns. Many, however, are calling for stronger measures, such as GPS tracking in government-owned vehicles, as well as frequent driver education classes for city employees.