Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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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.

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A federal court jury recently handed down one of the largest verdicts in Ohio history in a medical malpractice case. The $14.5 million verdict was awarded to Nicole Welker and Justin Brinkley against Clearfield Hospital and Dr. Thomas A. Carnevale. Evidence was introduced at trial to show that the doctor, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital, improperly administered Pitocin to the mother to augment her labor while she was giving birth to her son, Justinian.

Pitocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract, thus inducing labor. It is often administered by doctors. Side effects of Pitocin are relatively mild for the mother but can be fatal for the fetus. Unfortunately, when Welker was administered Pitocin, the drug caused her contractions to increase in frequency and intensity. As a result of these increased contractions, Justinian’s oxygen was cut off. Tragically, Justinian was born with cerebral palsy and catastrophic cognitive disabilities.

Following the two-week trial, the jury deliberated on a number of key facts, including evidence showing that the doctor and the hospital had knowledge that the fetus was showing signs of distress during labor but took no actions to alleviate the problem. Ultimately, the jury assessed 60% liability for this incident against the doctor and the remaining 40% against the hospital.

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For years, the medical community has been aware of the hazardous effects that a concussion can have on an individual. Though most popularly known as studied in the context of sports, researchers are making new life changing discoveries on concussions every day. An example of this can be seen with the NFL’s Concussion Protocol. In the past, head injuries were taken very casually, and players were told to shake them off and get back in the game as quickly as possible. Now, however, football players are required to pass special concussion protocol testing before they can return to the field. So if concussions are treated with such caution in the world of sports, why isn’t the same true for everyday life?

Concussions are a category of traumatic brain injury brought on when the brain crashes into the skull, usually as the result of a blow to the head or body. This blow could come in a car accident, especially if a victim’s head is jerked around after the impact. Symptoms of a concussion may appear right away or may take weeks to manifest, and they include headaches, memory loss, dizziness, and nausea. Concussions are generally graded into three categories, with the most severe being labeled Grade 3 and the most mild as Grade 1.

A new study shows that concussions may have lasting effects on an individual’s ability to drive, even after symptoms seem to disappear. The study followed 14 young adults who were 48 hours removed from symptoms following a concussion. The participants were placed in a driving simulation where researchers monitored their driving ability. Shockingly, the participants displayed clear signs of impaired driving, despite presenting no obvious symptoms of their concussion.

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man-talking-on-the-cell-phone-1541703Distracted driving can be just as bad as reckless driving. When your attention is on your phone or another device, you are not able to pay proper attention to the road. Sen. Jim Tracy from Shelbyville, Tennessee, recognizes the obvious danger of cell phone use while driving. This is why, for the second straight year, Sen. Tracy is sponsoring a bill that would effectively ban cell phone use while operating a vehicle in Tennessee.

The proposed legislation, SB0954, would create a Class C misdemeanor for driving a motor vehicle and talking on a hand-held cell phone. The bill would also attach a penalty for minors who are found guilty of the proposed infraction. Violators can also expect to pay a fine.

The bill comes in the wake of startling evidence that shows that distracted driving crashes in Tennessee have more than doubled since 2006. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security:

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truck-delivery-1237583Imagine the following scenario: you are in your car, driving to your favorite restaurant for a mid-week lunch treat. You pull up to the restaurant, which is located in a particularly busy strip mall in a popular area of town. While navigating the parking lot to look for a parking spot, you are suddenly rear-ended by the car behind you. After getting over the initial shock of the crash, you and the driver who hit you pull over to discuss what happened, exchange information, and call the police so that an incident report can be made.

The driver of the vehicle that hit you apologizes for hitting you; however, the driver also expresses frustration that he got into an accident while “on the clock” as this will make him late for his “work assignment.” You find out that he is a delivery driver for the restaurant you were heading to.

After the other driver has finished speaking with the police, the driver hops back behind the wheel and drives off. The police officer tells you the other driver has auto insurance and you rest assured that you should not have to file a claim with your own auto insurance carrier. However, once you contact the other driver’s auto insurance company, you find out that, unfortunately, his personal policy had lapsed prior to their accident with you. Frustrated and searching for a solution, you wonder if the restaurant should be responsible for your damages, which may include medical bills and time off from work.

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wheelchair-1178247Damages are an element of every negligence or personal injury claim. In order for there to be recovery, the victim must have been injured in some way. Injuries can run the gamut, from soreness to broken bones to death. In cases where someone survives a car accident but is traumatically or permanently injured, victims may be able to recover for future medical care, future pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

When a person is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, medical expenses are almost always involved. In more severe cases, these expenses can be staggering. For instance, spinal cord injuries are some of the most costly and life altering injuries a victim can sustain. Often resulting in complete or partial paralysis, spinal cord injuries render victims dependent on special care and medical treatment for the remainder of their lives. Over time, these medical bills can add up, as can the cost of equipment such as a wheelchair. It is estimated that victims suffering from paraplegia incur a cost of roughly $520,000 the first year after the accident, and an average of $68,000 each subsequent year. These figures are even steeper in cases of complete paralysis.

In most cases resulting in a permanent injury, such as paralysis, the plaintiff will either be unable to return to work or will have to reevaluate their line of work to accommodate for their injury. This could mean having to accept a lesser paying job. Vocational experts are utilized in catastrophic injury cases to assess how a plaintiff’s injuries affect their ability to work and earn money. Vocational experts measure the loss of earnings by calculating the difference between the amount of money a plaintiff had the capacity to earn before the accident and the amount they are capable of earning after being permanently injured. This calculation depends on many factors including the plaintiff’s age, educational qualifications, and prior work experience. After liability is assessed against the defendant, victims can recover compensatory damages for their future medical treatment, as well as lost earning capacity.