Articles Posted in Auto Accident

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For most people in Tennessee, whether you live in Memphis, Jackson, Knoxville, Nashville, or Chattanooga, we get up each day and go to work. Workers rely on their paychecks to take care of everyday necessities – rent, mortgage, utilities, food, childcare, bills and more. What happens if one day, you go to work like you always do, but when performing your job duties, you get hurt? All of the sudden, you start to worry about your health and how you can get better. Another concern is your paycheck, and how bills could start to pile up.

Suffering a work-related injury is stressful. Sometimes there can be animosity towards a co-worker or the employer itself, especially when the injured employee thinks his or her employer did something to cause the injury. A question commonly asked by injured Tennessee workers is this: can I sue my employer for a work injury?

The Exclusive Remedy Rule

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ThinkstockPhotos-619512230Bird scooters are all the buzz in Memphis these days. In June 2018, Bird and the City of Memphis reached an agreement to bring the California-based startup to the Bluff City, marking the 15th United States city for Bird. Memphians who want to use a Bird scooter can rent them from Bird’s smartphone app and pick them up and drop them back off at designated spaces, which initially will be Downtown, Midtown, Cooper-Young, Uptown and South City. Proponents of these scooters tout additional mobility options for Memphis residents and tourists. But what happens if you get into an accident while riding a Bird scooter?

Safety Is Most Important

Members of the Memphis City Council are excited about Bird and what it could mean to Memphis. City Councilman Kemp Conrad described the move as “Memphis being an innovative, nimble and busy, friendly city.” Of course, with more scooter traffic comes safety concerns, and the top priority is always to keep citizens safe. For example, one condition of Bird entering Memphis is a requirement that Bird launch a citywide marketing and targeted community outreach to educate the public as to how to safely operate and maneuver these electric scooters.

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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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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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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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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.
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Man-Car-at-Crosswalk-SmallNashville, Tennessee, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The 13-county Nashville metropolitan area is currently home to nearly 1.8 million people. According to data tracked by the U.S. Census, this area gained close to 31,000 people per year between 2010 and 2015. This annual growth rate of 1.8% is more than double the national growth rate of 0.8%. A surging population has contributed to an economic boom in Nashville and Davidson County, but it has also come at a cost. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise.

As of October 2017, 19 pedestrians have died in Nashville. In the entire year of 2016, just 16 pedestrians were killed. With Nashville roads being crowded, many people walk when possible to avoid such dense traffic. According to safety experts, pedestrians are most at risk during the winter months, in part because it gets dark much earlier. As a result, people are walking home when it has already become dark.

Is there anything that can be done to fix this problem? In Middle Tennessee, two organizations have decided to team up – Walk Bike Nashville and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. Together, they have created a campaign called “Look For Me,” designed to raise awareness for pedestrians. According to Walk Bike Nashville, pedestrian fatalities are expected to reach 24 this year, nearly double from 2009, which saw 13 fatalities.

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Gavel-wScales-of-Justice-Medium-SmallIn a great victory for people injured in Tennessee, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz lawyers Glenn Vines, Mark Geller, Kevin Graham, and Jason Yasinsky were able to ensure injured victims have the right to submit the full value of their medical expenses in their personal injury claim. This case, Dedmon v. Steelmon, was argued all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Plaintiff Jean Dedmon originally filed suit in the Circuit Court of Crockett County, Tennessee, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. As part of the lawsuit, Dedmon attached her full medical bills for hospital treatment and doctor visits caused by the accident. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court of Tennessee issued an opinion in another case, West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corporation. That case dealt primarily with hospitals that filed liens (pursuant to Tennessee’s Hospital Lien Act) for the full amount of treatment billed to the patient, regardless of whether they had health insurance. While health insurance companies often pay at discounted rates due to contractual agreements with providers, the Court ultimately decided that based on the language of the hospital lien law, the hospital’s lien is limited to the discounted amount paid by the patient’s health insurance company.

Counsel for Steelman took that holding and sought to apply the principle to all of Dedmon’s medical bills. The trial court agreed and ruled that Dedmon could not submit the full amount of her medical expenses to the jury; instead, she could only submit the amounts of the contractually-agreed payments that the providers accepted from her insurance company. NST Law, on behalf of Dedmon, appealed that decision. After both sides submitted legal briefs and argued their respective positions, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling, stating Dedmon could introduce her full bills but Steelman could introduce proof contradicting the reasonableness of those bills. Steelman moved to appeal this ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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Texting-and-Driving-SmallTexas is taking a unique approach to combat a systemic issue in America – distracted driving. Those applying for a new driver’s license must now take additional steps than people who have tried to get a license in years past. If you are 18 years old or older, you must now take a driving skills test and one hour course on distracted driving awareness. While 16 and 17-year-old drivers have had to take their own courses for distracted driving, this is a new requirement for adults 18 and older. At this time, the Texas Department of Public Safety is planning on introducing a distracted driving course geared towards adults who are 25 years old and older as well.

Distracted driving has always come with problematic side effects, and these have magnified in recent years. Many people blame progress in technology on the increase in distracted driving accidents across the United States today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 9 people are killed each day in an accident that involves at least one driver who was distracted at the time of the crash. Just as alarming, over 1,000 people get hurt each day in these types of crashes.

Why does technology lead to more distracted driving related car accidents? For starters, people of all ages have access to a variety of personal devices that can be used at any point in time. Devices like cell phones and tablets are always tempting to use. People think they can look down at their phone to check email, send a text message, or browse social media websites like Facebook, even for a split second, and be fine. However, studies show that taking your eyes off the road to send or read a text message for just five seconds is long enough for your car to drive across an entire football field going 55 mph.