Archive for September, 2011

Did a Risky Road Intersection Cause Your Auto Accident in Mississippi?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Over 45,000 people are killed on America’s highways each year, and of that number almost half of those accidents were a direct result of a problem with road design or maintenance—some form of dangerous or risky road. Faulty design, construction, maintenance, or inability to adapt to changing conditions are all issues with roadways which can be the direct cause of your car running off the road, rolling over or colliding with another car or fixed object.

There are lots of risky intersections in the United States which make having a serious accident much more likely. It can be difficult to see another car coming at many intersections, and appropriate signage may not be present to ensure the safety of motorists. Many intersections have not been adequately modified despite past indications of hazards to drivers. If any of these conditions were the cause of your intersection accident it is imperative you retain an attorney who is skilled in litigating cases such as these.

Dangerous Road Cases

Car accidents which resulted from dangerous road conditions can, unfortunately, be difficult and expensive to litigate, since you will be fighting a government entity. The investigation of the dangerous intersection and its history of accidents can be quite challenging. The case will likely  require significant amounts of attorney work, experts called in and expense, but the upside of a case such as this is that it has the potential not only to allow you to recover your damages, but to make the road safer for others. Changes that might otherwise never occur, may be made when you demand your rights.

Our Rights as Motorists

The agencies which design and maintain our roadways are charged with the duty of ensuring the safety of motorists, at least those who are using reasonable care when driving. Of course until cars begin driving themselves, drivers will skid, slide, lose control of their vehicle, fall asleep or become distracted. While all of these driver issues will certainly be responsible for car accidents, government entities who refuse to take reasonable steps to ensure foreseeable events don’t turn tragic are another thing altogether. When an intersection has been proven to be a danger to drivers, and has caused accidents or near-misses in the past, the government must take steps to correct the dangerous road situation to ensure the safety of drivers.

Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Dangerous road accident cases require the victim to prove the government knew the intersection was a high-risk road hazard and refused or neglected to take steps to fix the road or install appropriate signage to warn drivers. An experienced attorney will be able to show that the entity in charge of the road failed to do something which caused the danger, or will prove the government knew the intersection was dangerous, had plenty of time to fix it, but neglected to do so. If there is a solid history of accidents on the intersection which caused your accident, this may help show the risk was substantial.

Dangerous road cases can be especially difficult to prove because our laws give the government a certain level of immunity which protects them. If the intersection received the stamp of approval from an approved, reputable engineering firm, then unless the design or plan was changed, the government may indeed have immunity from being held accountable. Even if the design was approved and followed to the letter, however, the government entity may have failed to install or maintain signage which warned of the dangerous intersection, or may have failed to cut tree limbs or branches which blocked the views and potentially caused your accident. As you can see, dangerous road cases are complex and definitely require the assistance of an attorney who has the skill and aggressiveness to pursue the government and obtain a fair settlement for your injuries.

Coping with PTSD Following a Serious Auto Accident in Mississippi

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Of the millions of people involved each year in automobile accidents, a large percentage will suffer serious bodily injury and significant psychological distress. Any event which is threatening to life or body can produce traumatic stress in the victim. Normally the body has a “fight or flight” response which is employed to protect individuals against such threats, however when fight or flight is impossible—such as during a sudden car accident—the threat remains, causing the victim to essentially “freeze,” and PTSD to develop.

How Common is PTSD?

Estimates put the number of those who will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder following an automobile accident at somewhere between ten and forty-five percent. The broad range stems from the fact that many victims are too embarrassed to report their PTSD.  Women suffer more often from PTSD following an auto accident than do men, and this psychological trauma can actually interfere with a person’s daily functioning abilities. Many times, even when there is not full-blown PTSD following an auto accident some people may experience non-specific troubles on the job and in school, have problems maintaining friendships and be unable to enjoy their hobbies and leisure time.

Psychological Trauma is Often Overlooked

Typically broken bones and soft tissue injuries are the issues which are immediately attended in an emergency room following a car accident. Doctors set broken bones, stitch up cuts, attend to scrapes and bruises and check for internal injuries. Victims may have facial lacerations which require further plastic surgery, or may even require major surgeries just to survive. Of course the body must be attended to, yet often the psychological damage resulting from a traumatic car accident can be just as devastating as the physical.

Once you are physically stabilized and on the mend, your mental state may be pushed aside and not taken as seriously as it should be. Most of us are required to drive each day, simply to get to and from work, take our children to school or run necessary errands, therefore if one suffers severe anxiety simply from getting into a car it can become a serious handicap.

Primary Symptoms of PTSD

Victims of auto accidents who experience PTSD may find themselves re-experiencing the accident over and over. They may have recurring dreams of the accident, or even frightening flashbacks while they are awake. Post-traumatic stress disorder victims may try to avoid any type of stimuli which is associated with the original trauma or may find themselves become numb or showing a decrease in normal responsiveness. This numbing can bring about a loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities, and can cause people to feel detached from others.

There can be intense physical reactions when reminded of the original event such as a pounding heart, rapid breathing, sweating and nausea. People who are suffering from PTSD can also be extremely irritable, have unprovoked outbursts of anger and may be unable to concentrate on the task at hand. PTSD victims often feel extremely helpless and out of control, and should they not take the psychological symptoms seriously and get the necessary help, PTSD can worsen over time.

Getting the Help You Need

A relatively new tool, known as a magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-intrusive way to measure the magnetic fields in the brain, and definitively diagnose PTSD. It is believed that this test can correctly identify PTSD patients with a 90% accuracy rate. If you are having symptoms of PTSD, it is necessary to have a psychologist who is trained in the disorder to thoroughly evaluate you and run tests such as the MEG to back up your claims of psychological trauma. Victims who experience significant PTSD symptoms following a car accident may be able to seek compensation for their psychological injuries therefore should hire an experienced personal injury attorney who is skilled in proving such claims and can assist  in obtaining damages for injuries, both physical and mental.

Could your Failure to Wear a Seat Belt Affect your Settlement in Mississippi?

Monday, September 12th, 2011

If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, you may wonder about the legal consequences if you were not wearing a seat belt, and whether you could be considered negligent for this reason alone. This can be an extremely complex issue, depending somewhat on what state you currently reside in. While most all states have adopted legislation which requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear seat belts, the states differ widely in the specific consequences attached to a personal injury case in which the plaintiff was found to have not been wearing their safety belt.  While some states don’t consider nonuse of a seatbelt to be relevant in any way at all when determining the plaintiff’s potential recovery, other state courts do consider lack of a safety belt to be relevant.

Causation or Plaintiff Misconduct

If your particular state operates under the causation paradigm, you would not be allowed to recover any damages which resulted from your failure to wear a seatbelt. Some states will require you to prove that your injuries would have resulted just the same whether you had been wearing a seat belt or not, while others will make it the defendant’s job to prove that if you had been wearing your seat belt you would not have suffered injuries. Unfortunately, this issue can be very difficult to prove one way or another. States which operate under the plaintiff misconduct paradigm will focus more directly on your failure to snap your seat belt, which becomes the primary focus for calculating your specific damages. The plaintiff misconduct theory, however does require extremely complicated fact finding in the determination of whether you were properly wearing your seat belt, and the scope of the results of that failure.

No Clear Cut Method of Determining Negligence

Unfortunately, most courts currently have no clear cut rules regarding whether you can be held accountable in a personal injury claim for failure to wear a seat belt. Many courts will take into account your failure to wear your seat belt so far as to reduce your monetary recovery amounts for only the injuries which directly resulted from that failure.  The failure to wear your seat belt will not, however affect your other claims for injury and damages. A few states refuse to consider the seat belt issue at all when awarding damages, such as the Massachusetts law which states that “failure to wear a properly fastened seat belt shall not be considered as contributory negligence or used as evidence in any civil action.”

Seat Belt Defense

Ford and Chrysler companies first offered lap belts in automobiles in 1955, however it was not until 1968 that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards required that all auto makers install lap belts for all occupants of the vehicle as well as shoulder harnesses for the driver and front seat passenger. State and federal requirements soon followed in an attempt to encourage the use of safety belts. Initially, the seat belt defense was used to completely preclude victims of auto accidents from receiving any settlement for injuries which theoretically would have been prevented through the use of a safety belt. Although some jurisdictions ran with this defense, others rejected it out of hand under the belief that since the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt was not the cause of the accident, failure to wear a seat belt should not preclude recovery.

The use or non-use of a seat belt adds an entire new complex level to personal injury cases, and if it has become an issue in your particular case you must hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can determine whether the fact you weren’t buckled up will affect your settlement.

Mississippi Construction Accident Claims and Compensation

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Construction sites will typically pose a wide array of risks, meaning the likelihood of accidents which result in serious injury or death is quite high. Many construction workers are often working at considerable heights, making the risk of falling much more likely than other professions, and even when construction workers are working on with both feet firmly on the ground, they are subject to the risk of falling objects, hazardous substances, heavy machinery accidents, and the need to lift heavy or bulky objects. All of these things substantially escalate the chance of an on-site work accident with injuries which can range from relatively minor to extremely severe. There are many factors involved in a workplace construction accident, and if you have suffered such an accident it’s very important you retain a personal injury attorney who has experience in construction accidents.

Does Your Construction Accident Qualify for Compensation?

Although it may seem obvious, the primary factor to consider is whether the injuries sustained were a direct result of a construction site accident. This means that a near-miss accident—an incident in which you were almost severely injured or killed—does not meet the necessary criteria to justify compensation, even if you suffered severe psychological trauma from the incident. In other words, if something your employer did, or failed to do, directly caused you to narrowly miss being crushed by a piece of heavy equipment, you are not entitled to compensation even though you may suffer very real trauma as a result of such a close call. A plaintiff in a construction accident is only allowed to ask for reparation for harm, loss or damage which was sustained on the construction site and can be successfully substantiated.

Liability in a Construction Accident

In some cases a construction accident was not due to a direct act or lack thereof of the employer, however more often it can be proven that the employer neglected to maintain a protected working environment for company workers. This failure to provide safety could be through absence of training or any other manner of contributory negligence where it is obvious the employer failed to take the necessary safeguards required to keep his or her employees out of harm’s way. In order for a claim of employer negligence following a construction accident to have a positive outcome, the injuries sustained must be a direct result of the disregard for safety or blatant violation of duty of the employer. While employees may occasionally be injured as a result of their own error or negligence, the large majority of construction accidents are due to lack of a safe working environment.

Shared Responsibility

In certain instances there may be a dispute between the employer and worker as to who caused the accident and resulting injuries. In a case such as this, the court will make the decision as to the ultimate responsibility, and may decide that both parties were at least in some measure at fault. In such cases the theory of contributory negligence applies, meaning the worker may have caused his or her injury by ignoring known risks or behaving in a negligent manner. Should contributory negligence be applied, the amount of the settlement will be reduced accordingly.

What to Do Following a Construction Accident

The very first thing you must do following a construction accident, no matter how minor it may seem, is to get immediate medical attention. If your injuries require anything more than a band-aid, it’s essential you see your doctor or be taken by ambulance to a hospital. Your health is one of the most precious things in your life, and no amount of compensation will make up for a loss of your health, so take injuries seriously. Once you’ve attended to any health issues, you need to ensure that the details of your accident were recorded. Never admit responsibility of any sort for your accident until you have spoken to an experienced attorney—even if the employer was not directly responsible for the accident, a lack of training for employees may still render him liable.

Getting Legal Help

If you work in the construction industry, remember that it is your employer’s duty to ensure your health and safety while you work and to adopt all measures necessary to minimize the risks of injuries and accidents. Employees should be provided with sufficient training as well as safety devices necessary to carry out daily tasks, and all equipment and tools should be in good working order and pass all industry safety standards. Construction accidents can be quite complex requiring you to seek professional legal advice prior to making a claim. Don’t risk your health or financial future following a construction site accident.

Dealing With a Difficult Insurance Adjuster in Mississippi

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Hopefully you will end up with one of the “good” insurance adjusters who will offer assistance and will go out of his or her way to make your experience as positive as possible. You have already been through an ordeal with your accident, and if you should end up with an insurance adjuster who appears to being giving you trouble at every turn, you may feel frustration and anger. Supposing you get an adjuster who seems hard-nosed and doesn’t appear to be listening to anything you have to say—what then?

Dealing With the Adjuster Yourself

If you’ve decided to go it alone regarding your insurance settlement, first and foremost you will have to grow a tough skin and remind yourself over and over that while this accident and the subsequent injuries and expenses are highly personal to you, to the insurance adjuster it is just another day on the job. The job of the insurance adjuster is to get their company off for the least amount of money possible in order to increase the bottom line at the end of the year. Although insurance companies are perfectly happy to accept your insurance premiums month after month, year after year, they are banking on the odds that you will not have an auto accident. If you do have an accident, their goal is to pay you only the amount they absolutely must pay. When you fully realize this, then you understand that the insurance adjuster is simply doing what he has been told to do, and that even if he seems hard-nosed and inflexible, it really isn’t personal.

On the flip side, while you are not trying to hit the lottery, you do want all of your medical bills and lost wages fully covered. Especially if the accident wasn’t your fault, it can seem awfully unfair to be stuck with piles of bills that you simply don’t deserve. The insurance adjuster may not believe your injuries are severe enough to warrant a settlement, or he may not even believe your injuries are related to the accident but were injuries you had prior to the accident. Keep in mind that the first settlement offer is likely to be extremely low. Insurance companies count on you wanting to get the settlement over and done so you can get on with your life. They also know that many times you will be absolutely unaware of the future medical bills you will be stuck with, so if they catch you early on, they can minimize their payout.

Your goal is to be patient and immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar. Determine the lowest amount you will accept after running the numbers. Make sure your bottom line number will completely cover the repairs to your vehicle, your medical bills past, present and future, any rehabilitation which could be involved, prescriptions, and money for all lost wages to date and any future lost wages you can anticipate. Once you’ve reached that figure, don’t budge. Politely tell the adjuster that this amount is what you will accept, and don’t be persuaded by anything they say to lower the amount. If the insurance adjuster also refuses to budge, it is time to contact a personal injury attorney.

Hiring an Attorney to Deal with the Difficult Adjuster

If you’ve exhausted your stores of patience and are becoming frustrated with the difficult adjuster, hiring a personal injury attorney can get the ball rolling in the right direction. Often all it will take is a call from your new attorney to get a much better settlement offer. Once your attorney reiterates your refusal to accept an unreasonable offer, your adjuster may become much less difficult. Besides—insurance adjusters do not want their company being sued. It looks bad to their boss or supervisor if every case they handle goes into litigation, and the truth is the adjuster wants to settle just as badly as you do, they simply don’t want to settle for a fair amount. Often all it takes is for your attorney to draft a complaint and send it over to the adjuster for his or her attitude to change dramatically and a reasonable settlement offer to be sent right back. Your attorney will look at your initial estimation of damages and let you know if it’s reasonable, or even too low, then the two of you can go from there. Your attorney will be much better equipped to deal with the difficult insurance adjuster—after all, that’s what they do every day.

 

Dealing With an Uninsured Driver after an Accident in Mississippi

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Having an accident any time is distressing, but if you are involved in an accident in which the other driver appears to have no insurance, it can cause even more anxiety. Although most all states require minimum amounts of liability insurance to be carried by all drivers, it is estimated that a minimum of fifteen percent of auto owners in the United States do not. This translates into a one in seven chance that the person who just ran into your car is uninsured.

This is a nationwide statistic, and doesn’t reflect those states who have an even higher rate of uninsured drivers—if you live in one of those states the risk of being hit by an uninsured driver is even higher. In a typical auto accident the insurance companies of both parties get involved, and whether there is a settlement or the case goes to litigation, the prevailing party will be paid damages. If you are dealing with a person who has no insurance, however, you may find it extremely difficult to obtain the compensation you deserve and greatly need, however there are remedies available to you to help get the compensation from the responsible party.

Following an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

If you’ve been in a car collision only to find out the other driver is uninsured, don’t feel like it would be pointless to call the police or your insurance company. In fact these steps are even more important in this situation. In many states if the damage to the vehicles was more than $500—and that can be the smallest scratch—you must report the accident or risk getting into trouble. In any case, document as much information about the person who ran into you as possible so you will be able to contact them if you need to. If they show you an expired insurance card, write down the information so you can contact the insurance company and confirm it has actually been cancelled.

Why Drivers May Not Be Insured

In most cases, an uninsured driver doesn’t carry auto insurance because they don’t have the financial resources to do so, which also means that pursuing legal action against the uninsured motorist could be futile—if they don’t have the money to purchase auto insurance they probably also don’t have the financial means available to compensate you even if you get a judgment against them. Your attorney can be the very best source of advice and information in such a situation and can explore all your options and let you know if pursuing the uninsured driver is a worthwhile endeavor, or if you should explore other options.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Many states require all residents to carry uninsured motorist coverage on their own insurance policy. Although you may have been annoyed that you had to pay a premium for the irresponsibility of others, you could be very glad, now, that it was required. If you have uninsured or underinsured coverage on your automobile policy, then you may be able to recover your damages from your own insurance company. Because insurance policies are notoriously difficult to decipher, contact an experienced car accident attorney and have them take a look at your policy to determine whether you may be able to file for damages through your own insurance company. A knowledgeable attorney may also be aware of insurance coverage you are not which will help pay for your injuries and damages.

If you don’t already carry uninsured motorist coverage, have it added to your policy. This type of insurance rarely costs much—so little in fact that you will likely hardly notice it—but it can be invaluable in a situation where an uninsured motorist crashes into you, leaving you with serious injuries and damages.

Claims and Defenses Following a Car Accident in Mississippi

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

After you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, and filed all the necessary paperwork, you may be stunned to find the other party—or their insurance company—asserting they were not at fault, or, worse, that you were at fault. If what you thought was going to be a simple claim process has suddenly gone south, you will need some information about the process in order to determine what to do next.

The Defendant Asserts No Negligence Was Involved

Perhaps you have filed your claim under the belief the other person was either reckless or negligent, and he or she is now asserting they behaved in the same manner as any judicious person would have. The plaintiff (you, if you filed the suit) must prove negligence as a prerequisite to collecting damages, therefore if the defendant can show that his actions were completely normal and reasonable, your claim may die a slow death.

The Defendant Asserts That You Were the Negligent Party

If the defendant asserts that any of the negligence involved in the accident was yours, then he has created a certain level of defense, at least in the handful of pure contributory negligence states. Comparative fault regulations are generally the standard in most states, however, so this will not often work as a defense. In contributory negligence states, if any of the fault for the accident was yours, then it can be argued that your own negligence was also a factor in the accident thereby barring your right to recover any damages from the other driver.  In the comparative fault states, there will generally be a rule in place that allows you to sue if the other driver was at least more than fifty percent responsible.

The Defendant Asserts You Didn’t Fully Prove Your Case

As the plaintiff you have the weight of demonstrating negligence on the part of the other driver as well as proving that negligence caused you specific harm. In our system, defendants don’t have the responsibility of proving they are not responsible for an accident. If you are unable to prove the foundations of the case, then the other driver can be judged not liable.  It’s very important that you or your lawyer have all elements of your case firmly in place before it ever goes to trial, or you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised.

The Defendant Asserts Your Injuries are Not Real

If the other driver claims you are exaggerating your injuries from the accident simply for the sake of collecting compensation—and is able to successfully prove this assertion—he may be able to walk away without any responsibility for your accident and resulting injuries. Ensure you are able to prove your injuries are medically factual through doctor’s reports, hospital reports and any paperwork pertaining to medications you are on as a result of the accident.

In twelve specific states, a car accident lawsuit may only be brought if your injuries are deemed “serious” under the specific rules of the state. The theory in this law is to prevent the filing of lawsuits for relatively “minor” accidents. However, if you have suffered a “minor” injury as the result of a car accident, and that injury is causing you considerable amounts of pain, medical bills and time away from work, you may disagree with your state’s definition of “minor.” Because this process can be incredibly complex, and because you don’t want to end up in court only to have the defendant claim any of the defenses above, it is crucial that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney who will be aware of the laws in your specific state.

Determining Negligence in a Mississippi Pedestrian Accident

Monday, September 5th, 2011

When a pedestrian is struck by a car, the results are usually catastrophic, resulting in serious injuries and death. Even though state laws do their best to protect pedestrians and keep these traumatic events from happening, in the United States alone over 5,000 pedestrians are killed and 64,000 injured each year from being hit by an automobile. These figures average out to one pedestrian being hit every eight minutes, and a life lost every 120 minutes. A pedestrian is simply no match for a car, which can be several thousand pounds of metal and glass. Even though the passengers and driver inside the car are fairly well protected, the pedestrian is totally vulnerable to serious injury.

Who Has the Right-of-Way?

Generally, pedestrians are considered to have the right-of-way, although this is not absolute, and there are certainly times when pedestrians ignore not only the traffic signals, but their own safety as well, crossing the road in a manner that makes avoiding hitting them next to impossible. This type of behavior on the part of pedestrians is, however, the exception rather than the rule. Drivers are expected to approach pedestrian crossings with extra caution and to adhere to specific safety measures, most especially when the pedestrian is clearly visible and is within ten feet of where the vehicle will be turning. Drivers should always slow down—stopping if appropriate—and yield the right of way to pedestrians, and should take special care to be extra alert in areas where pedestrians are common. As an additional caution, a vehicle is not permitted to pass another vehicle which has stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.

Proving Negligence on the Part of the Automobile Driver

In order to establish negligence on the part of the driver who struck a pedestrian, the pedestrian must prove that the driver not only owed a legal duty to the pedestrian under the specific circumstances, but that they breached that duty through negligent or reckless conduct or action—or through a failure to act. The pedestrian must also prove the actions of the auto driver caused the accident which injured the pedestrian and that the pedestrian suffered injury or harm as a result. The facts will be closely analyzed in each accident involving a pedestrian, and it may turn out that more than one person was legally responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. This could be true in a case where a sidewalk, roadway or parking lot where the accident occurred was not properly maintained or marked or if the pedestrian was also at fault.

Automobile Driver’s Duty of Care

Those who operate automobiles are charged with exercising reasonable care under specific circumstances. Some of the factors which commonly contribute to driver negligence include inattentive drivers, a driver’s failure to obverse posted speed limits or yield the right-of-way at marked crosswalks, a driver’s reckless disregard for traffic signs or signals, failure by the driver to signal a turn, a marked disregard for weather or unusual traffic conditions, or driving under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, drivers owe a particular duty of care to small children—those between the ages of 5 and 10 are the most likely to be hit by a car as they are smaller, less visible and often exhibit unpredictable behaviors. The mere presence of children is a warning to drivers to exhibit particular care and hyper-vigilance. If a driver is in the vicinity of a school or in a residential area where children are known to play, extra care must be taken to avoid hitting a child.

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been the victim of a pedestrian-car accident, it is likely that you are struggling to pay your medical bills. You may even be unable to return to work, and find yourself unable to provide for yourself and your family. It is imperative that you retain a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and get you the help you need following your accident with injuries.

Distracted Driving as the Leading Cause of Auto Accidents in Mississippi

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Distracted Driving as the Leading Cause of Auto Accidents

Any time a driver on the road is paying attention to anything other than the road and the traffic around them, they are putting themselves, other motorists and pedestrians in danger. Although cell phone use and the practice of texting is in the news constantly as a cause of auto accidents, in truth there are plenty of other lower-tech distractions which cause as many, if not more, collisions. Consider the person who just spilled hot coffee in their lap or dropped something on the floor and bent down to pick it up—while driving. According to a study done by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, these two things are actually among the most common distractions drivers suffer. Still, cell phones are definitely a distraction—and a danger. Experts believe that those who regularly talk on their cell phone while driving are as much as four times as likely to have a car accident.

More Incidences of Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, our lives are so incredibly busy, that many people almost feel as though they live in their car. They eat breakfast in their car on their way to work, attempt to re-set the GPS, fiddle with the radio, and even put on makeup, shave and read while commuting to work. Parents find themselves turning around—while driving—to see what’s going on with the kids in the backseat, or attempting to put a bottle or pacifier into the mouth of a crying baby.  If you’ve ever passed a car where a woman was applying mascara, using the rear-view mirror, while navigating a busy city street, you probably were very alarmed—and with good reason. People who regularly eat in their car, also regularly spill, then their attention is completely consumed with cleaning up the mess from their clothing or the upholstery.

Types of Distractions

Generally speaking there are three main types of distractions, including visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes from the road—most distractions tend to be visual in nature. Manual distractions occur when you physically remove your hands from the wheel of the vehicle, and mental or cognitive distractions happen when your mind is anywhere but on the task of driving.

Many forms of distractions encompass all three of these—if you are texting your husband while driving, you are visually distracted as you glance back and forth at the screen, manually distracted as you use your fingers to type, and cognitively distracted as your mind is on what you are texting rather than watching the road. If the kids are screaming in the back seat and you turn around to swat one of them, again, you have engaged in all three types of distraction—at the same time. Even daydreaming as you drive home from running errands can be a significant distraction, and can lead to an accident.

How Many Accidents are Caused by Distractions?

Because many people don’t want to admit they were applying makeup or texting when they crash into the car ahead of them, it’s hard to get solid statistics on just how many accidents are caused by distracted drivers. Research indicates that the number could be as high as fifty percent of all accidents being directly related to driver distraction—a number that truly boggles the mind. Teens especially are among the worst offenders for talking and texting while driving, although the newest phones have technology which actually shuts the phone down when it detects the motion of the vehicle.

Contacting an Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to a distracted driver, it’s important that you contact an attorney who can work aggressively to get you the settlement you need and deserve while you work on recovering from your accident and resulting injuries.

Distracted Driving Involves More Than Cell Phones

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Over twenty percent of all injury accidents in 2009 could be directly attributed to distracted driving. When most people hear the term “distracted driving,” they immediately think of cell phone use and texting while driving. The truth is, there are a variety of distractions which drivers encounter on a daily basis, and there are different types of distraction as well. A visual distraction occurs when you are driving and take your eyes off the road, whether for a second or a longer period of time. Manual distraction occurs when you are engaged in exhibiting a negative hand gesture to another driver and your hand or hands are removed from the wheel.

A cognitive distraction occurs when a driver is “spaced out,” thinking about a problem in their life, or an upcoming vacation—anything other than the road ahead and the drivers surrounding them. A parent who turns around to holler and grab the child’s leg who has been kicking the seat for the past ten minutes is suffering from all three types of distraction—a very dangerous combination. Texting also involves all three types of distractions, which is why it has been found to be so deadly. When you engage in texting, your hand is off the wheel, your eyes are off the road, and your mind is on the text you are sending, or the person you are sending it to, rather than your driving.

Other Common Distractions

While cell phones can certainly be deadly, there are other distractions that are dangerous as well. How many of us routinely eat and drink while driving? What happens when your taco drips on your brand new skirt, and you first take your hand off the wheel to try and “catch” the taco sauce, your eyes leave the road as your survey the damage, and your mind is on how you will get your skirt cleaned off and still get to work on time. You’ve just committed another three-way distraction no-no, and in that very few seconds when your mind, hand and eyes are away from the task of driving, an accident can happen.

What about talking to the passengers in your car, sometimes even turning around to talk? Yes, many of us have been guilty of this at one time or another. If you live in the city, you have likely seen women applying makeup or combing their hair while driving; in fact some women routinely use the drive to work to take care of such tasks. Visitors to a new area can often be seen reading a map which is spread out across the steering wheel while driving down the road. Fiddling with a GPS system, radio station or CD player are common as well.

In other words, most all of us who have been driving for any length of time are guilty of at least one of these distraction no-no’s. Parents, especially those of small children, have even more levels of distraction. The baby is crying in the back seat and you turn around to see why. The kids are fighting in the back seat and your turn around to threaten or cajole. While all of these things are “normal,” per se, they are still extremely unsafe behaviors which can lead to serious or even fatal car accidents.

The Research on Cell Phones

So, as you can see there are lots of ways you may find yourself driving in a distracted manner, however cell phone use and texting still top the list for distractions which cause serious accidents. Of all of those people who were killed in a distracted driving crash, almost twenty percent involved cell phone use. The under-twenty age group had the highest levels of distracted driving, and astonishingly, using a cell phone while driving can delay the driver’s reactions as much as having a BAC concentration over the legal limit of .08 percent.  The bottom line is that any type of distracted driving is dangerous, and potentially fatal. If you are the victim of a crash caused by a distracted driver, it is important that you get legal advice and discuss your options.