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iStock-837009352The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it against the law to talk on hand-held devices, such as a cell phone, while driving on any road within the state. Laws like this, known as hands-free laws, have been passed in other states already. The bill that just passed in Tennessee is HB 0164, and it now goes to the Tennessee Senate for a vote.

HB 0164 seeks to add language to Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-207. Specifically, it seeks to prevent any driver under the age of 18 from talking on a mobile phone while the car is in motion, whether it’s a hand held device or hands-free device. Drivers who are 18 or older would only be allowed to talk while driving on a hands-free device. A driver who violates this statute would be subject to a fine of $100, but if the violation led to an accident, the fine would increase to $200.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks accident data across the United States with a goal of reducing wrecks and traffic fatalities. The NHTSA succinctly defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” They go on to list several examples, such as texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, fiddling with the radio, or monitoring GPS systems while driving.

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iStock-182138065-LargeBe careful walking down the street – fatalities are on the rise and recently reached their highest levels in almost 30 years. Recent trends are troubling. In 2008, there were 4,114 pedestrian fatalities in the United States, and preliminary data for 2018 suggests 6,277 deaths, according to a report recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).  This represents an increase of a whopping 52%! In 2008, pedestrian deaths represented 12% of all motor vehicle related deaths. In 2018, that percentage increased to 16%.

Pedestrian Fatality Trends

The last 10 years have shown pedestrian deaths can happen at all hours of the day. From 2008-2017, daytime fatalities remained mostly consistent, from 1,145 in 2008 to 1,267 during the daytime. However, a dramatic shift occurred during the night hours, from 3,059 in 2008 to 4,440 in 2017. During that 10-year period, 90% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at night. Of course, at night it is harder for drivers to see pedestrians, unless they are wearing reflective clothing or lights.

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iStock-1086630316-LargeTennessee was recently given an unfortunate distinction – the worst state for distracted driving among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Value Penguin recently released a study analyzing deaths in each state related to cell phone use between 2015-2017, and Tennessee did not perform well when compared to other states.

Between 2015-2017, there were over 1,400 fatalities nationwide involving some form of distracted driving. Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” It encompasses many acts while operating a motor vehicle, including cell phone use, texting while driving, looking down at GPS, changing the radio station, eating, talking on the phone or to passengers, or engaging in any conduct that can take your eyes off the road.

Tennessee had the highest distracted driving fatality rate in the country, according to the comprehensive study. The average for all states was 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles. Tennessee’s rate was nearly five times as high, coming in at 7.20 fatalities per 10 billion miles. The next highest states were Delaware (3.28 fatalities), Wyoming (3.22 fatalities), Texas (3.00 fatalities), and Montana (2.91 fatalities). During the surveyed period of time, these five states were responsible for 31% of all distracted driving related fatalities, an astonishingly high number.

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Congratulations to Hannah Jian, the winner of the 2018 WTVA Scholarship! NST Law sponsored the scholarship, and high school seniors in the greater Tupelo/Starkville area were eligible to enter. For a chance to win, the participating seniors had to answer the following question: Which person in your life has inspired you to make a difference in your community?

Hannah, a senior at Starkville High School, sent in a video response stating her mother was her inspiration, describing her as “brave, caring, and giving.” NST Law attorneys Alex Saharovich and Corey B. Trotz were proud to present Hannah with her winning scholarship check in person at the WTVA studio in Tupelo, Mississippi. Attorney Corey B. Trotz stated “education is a very big part of what we’ve done, as learning to be attorneys, but also to give back to the community.” Congratulations again to Hannah for a job well done, and we wish you the best in the future!

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Every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted. Rape and sexual abuse is a problem that unfortunately is not going away. Sexual assault or rape is one of the worst events one can go through. The emotional trauma and scars can have lasting effects.

After someone is sexually abused, police and law enforcement should immediately be called. Of course, some victims are hesitant to report these issues due to shame, embarrassment, or fear of retaliation. While the police can investigate, and the District Attorney can file criminal charges, the criminal prosecution can do little in terms of fairly compensating the victim or providing proper financial restitution.

Can a Victim of Sexual Assault File a Civil Personal Injury Claim?

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Shelby County, Tennessee is one of the most populous counties in the state. It should come as no surprise that each year, Shelby County ranks high in terms of motor vehicle accidents, compared to other counties. In 2017, Shelby County ranked #1 in Tennessee with a total of 37,602 car wrecks. Shelby County also boats the highest 10-year average from 2007-2017, with an average of 33,852 auto accidents per year.

In the greater Memphis area, the top causes of car accidents are typically drunk driving, distracted driving, failure to yield right of way, speeding, and failure to keep in proper lane. Of all 2017 accidents in Shelby County, nearly 20% involved at least one form of distracted driving, which can include talking on a cell phone, looking down at GPS, and texting while driving.

If you are involved in a car wreck in Memphis or the Mid-South, safety should be your top priority. There are steps that can be taken to look out for your legal rights and make sure they are protected. Of course, contacting an experienced car accident attorney in Memphis can go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. However, here are steps you can take to help yourself.

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“Flu Season” often runs November through May, and for the 2018-2019 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates between 163-168 million doses of the flu vaccine will be administered. The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness that is contagious. It attacks cells in the body by spreading through one’s respiratory tracts. Symptoms of the flu include aches all over the body, fatigue, muscle weakness, and fever.

Side Effects of the Flu Shot

Some of the most common side effects that you can suffer from after being vaccinated are soreness, redness, headaches, fatigue, fever, and nausea. An allergic reaction may be possible too, and signs of that include difficulty breathing, severe swelling, dizziness, fast heartbeat, and wheezing.

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ThinkstockPhotos-505686606Multiple news outlets are reporting a bus accident in Desoto County, Mississippi, earlier today that has left at least 26 people injured and 2 people deceased. The bus was traveling on Interstate 269 near the U.S. 78 exit when it was rear-ended by another vehicle. Icy conditions were present, per authorities. As a result of being rear-ended, the bus ended up flipping over.

Emergency responders arrived at the scene, as approximately 45 people were on the bus. Around 26 people were injured (including 3 in serious condition), and 2 suffered fatal injuries. Of the injured parties, at least 19 passengers were sent to Baptist Desoto and 7 more were sent to Baptist Collierville. According to a spokesperson for Baptist, the bus, operated by Alabama charter bus company Teague VIP Express was traveling from Huntsville, Alabama, and the passengers ranged in age from 40-70 years old.

Common carriers such as charter buses must follow rigorous standards put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These federal laws regulate bus company and driver conduct such as vehicle maintenance, driver training, and mandatory driver rest. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Teague VIP Express is based in Anniston, Alabama, authorized to carry passengers.

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chiliHere at NST Law, one of our favorite events in the Memphis area is the annual Chili Cook Off benefiting the Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee. This year, our firm again sponsored a team at this fun community event. In addition to helping raise money for the Exceptional Foundation, our team, led by attorney Derek Fairchilds, was proud to take home 2nd place among all teams participating. Our staff and attorneys enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together, cook delicious chili, and help promote the Exceptional Foundation’s mission.

The mission of the Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee is to “enrich the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by meeting the social, recreational and continued educational needs.” This organization has been helping children and young adults in the Memphis area since 2006, many of whom have autism, Down Syndrome, and other special needs. We are already looking forward to the 2019 event!

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new-lawyersNST Law, along with the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Memphis Bar Association, welcomed new lawyers to the Bar and our legal community at a reception at our Memphis office on September 27, 2018. For the second year in a row, our firm sponsored this welcome reception which was well-attended by local judges (Federal, Civil, and Criminal), attorneys from law firms across town, judicial clerks, and new attorneys recently admitted to practice law in Tennessee.

As lawyers, we remember what it was like to spend all summer studying for the bar exam after graduation and having to wait weeks to get the results, so we enjoyed being able to reward the new lawyers for all of their hard work and welcome them into the local legal community. It was also rewarding to help facilitate the new lawyers getting to meet the local judges whom they will be appearing before in the years to come. We thank all attorneys and judges who attended this year’s welcome reception and helped make it a success.

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