Archive for November, 2011

New Technology May Reduce Severity of Mississippi Motorcycle Accidents

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Few motorcycle enthusiasts would dispute the unique dangers associated with riding a motorcycle.  Motorcycles are less visible and stable and lack structural protection as well as safety equipment.  When a car, pickup truck, SUV or tractor-trailer collides with a motorcycle, the weight differential also contributes to the typically poor outcome for a motorcycle accident victim.  Even if a motorcycle enthusiast drivers extremely careful and is attentive regarding potential road hazards, this does not eliminate the increased danger associated with traveling by motorcycle.  When the driver of a passenger vehicle moves into your lane without checking the driver’s blind spot, even an experienced vigilant motorcycle rider may lay the motorcycle down and suffer serious injuries including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractured or broken bones, severe road rash and even wrongful death.

Motorcycle enthusiasts are more likely to be involved in a collision because a bike is less stable and responsive.  While rider inexperience contributes to many motorcycle accidents, even experienced riders are vulnerable to the actions of negligent drivers.  Not only are motorcycle enthusiast more likely to be involved in a motorcycle accident, but they also face a much higher risk of suffering catastrophic injuries because they do not have the protection of a metal enclosure, air bags, seat belts and other safety equipment that is standard to other vehicles.

There are many types of negligent driving practices that put motorcycle riders as risk of being involved in a Mississippi motorcycle accident including:

  • Driver impaired by drugs or alcohol (DUI/DWI)
  • Fatigued or drowsy drivers
  • Drivers using a cell phone or otherwise distracted
  • Failure to check blind spots and mirrors when changing lanes
  • Unsafe turns
  • Failure to comply with traffic signals or stop signs

While there are no counter-measures that can completely overcome these dangers, new technology offers some hope.  Honda was the first to offer a motorcycle that was equipped with an air bag like a car that was placed in front of the rider and inflated in the event of a collision.  While this was an interesting innovation, it provides fairly limited protection against ejection and no protection if a rider actually is ejected from a motorcycle in a collision.  However, new types of motorcycle air bags are being designed in the form of a jacket that the rider wears and inflates in the event of a collision or motorcycle ejection. These jackets are being widely used by those involved in motorcycle racing.  While the jackets are still cost prohibitive for most consumers, less expensive models designed for the consumer market are expected soon.

The experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Barrett Law applaud these efforts to make motorcycle enthusiasts safer in a Mississippi motorcycle accident.  The experienced personal injury attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing tenacious representation to accident victims for over 75 years.  We provide diligent legal representation and impassioned advocacy for our clients’ best interest so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

Slip, Trip and Falls Pose Serious Danger to Mississippi Seniors

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

While most people in Mississippi are aware of the danger associated with a serious falls, the scope and seriousness of an accident risk is much more severe than many people realize.  It is estimated that 424,000 people die in fatal falls annually world wide according to the United Nations Health Agency.  There are another 37 million people who seek medical treatment annually according to the organization.  Falls can occur in many ways including falls from ladders or scaffoldings on construction sites, slip and fall accidents on wet floors in stores and restaurants and trip and fall incidents involving poorly maintained sidewalks.  Many people presume slip, trip and fall accidents are minor events that do more damage to one’s ego than to one’s person.  This is simply not accurate as slip, trip and fall accidents often result in catastrophic debilitating injuries and even wrongful death.

The danger posed by falls increases with age with many elderly residents of Mississippi suffering serious injuries in falls.  Seniors may be more susceptible to serious falls because of cognitive, visual and physical changes that occur with age.  The scope of the problem is revealed by the fact that almost a third of older people over the age of 65 will fall at some time during a typical year based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC).  Falls are the leading cause of injury and hospital admissions for the elderly.  Almost twenty thousand seniors die in fatal falls per year, meaning that not only are the elderly more prone to a fall, but they also tend to suffer more serious injuries.

There are certain steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of your elderly loved one suffering serious injury in a fall including:

  • Keep common walkways clear of obstructions and debris
  • Maintaining reasonable fitness through diet and exercise
  • Obtain appropriate osteoporosis screening
  • Installation of handicap bars and railing in bathrooms and walkways
  • Maintain awareness of drugs that may cause dizziness, drowsiness or disorientatio

While these measures may reduce the risk of dangerous falls for seniors in their homes, this will not necessarily protect seniors against falls in businesses or nursing homes.  If your elderly loved one suffers serious injury in a fall while patronizing a business or as a resident in a nursing home, the business owner or nursing home staff have an obligation to warn of potential hazards that are not obvious and keep the premises reasonably safe.  When a business owner or nursing home proprietor fails to take appropriate safeguards to prevent injury to those who come on their property, they may be liable for any resulting injuries.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing tenacious representation to accident victims for over 75 years.  Our experienced and committed legal team provides innovative litigation trial strategies, effective negotiation and persuasive advocacy for slip, trip and fall victims.  We understand that you may have questions about your rights and remedies so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

 

Litigation of DUI Injury Accident Cases Caused by Legal Medications

Monday, November 28th, 2011

While most drivers are very familiar with the term driving under the influence (DUI), this expression most typically conjures images of drivers who have had too much to drink before climbing behind the wheel of their motor vehicle. However, driver impairment may take many forms including drivers that are impaired by the use of prescription medications or even over-the-counter drugs.  Many people falsely assume that if they are taking a drug that is not a narcotic or an illegal street drug they cannot be considered driving under the influence or driving while impaired (DWI).  The determination of whether one is violating DUI/DWI laws while driving with a drug in one system is not based on whether or not the substance may be consumed legally.  If a driver takes a prescription medication or over-the-counter drug that impacts one’s driving, the driver may be liable for injuries or wrongful death caused in an accident.  It is not the legal status of the drug that matters, but its impact on driving ability.

There are many prescription drugs that come with specific warnings not to operate heavy machinery or drive while under their influence. If a driver ignores these warnings and chooses to drive anyway, the driver may be liable if the drug impairs the driver and causes an accident.  Some over-the-counter medications also carry warnings that they may make a driver drowsy or that it is unsafe to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of the drug.  Even medications that are available without prescription may form the basis of liability in a civil lawsuit that arises out of a motor vehicle accident caused by driving while impaired by drugs.

Whether you have taken a prescription medication or an over-the-counter drug, the substance may have a substantial impact on your ability to drive safely.  Some of the most common negative effects on driving ability caused by legal medications include the following:

  • Sluggish reflexes
  • Drowsiness
  • Delayed response time when braking or steering
  • Impaired attention , memory and focus
  • Blurry Vision

Anyone who is taking a medication whether prescribed by doctor or picked up without a prescription in a local grocery store has an obligation to read the packaging of the drug to determine whether it is safe to drive after taking the medication.  While certain types of medications are more likely to impair driving ability, including tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, anxiety medication and sleeping pills, the best practice is always to check the labeling of any new medication or ask the pharmacist about whether or not the medication may impair your ability to drive safely.

Our experienced Mississippi DUI drugs attorneys aggressively pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of victims who are injured in accidents involving impaired drivers. These cases are more challenging to litigate than DUI case involving alcohol.  Mississippi’s “per se” DUI law provides that any driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or above is over the legal limit regardless of whether or not one’s driving ability is actually impacted.  There is no corresponding “per se” law for DUI offenses involving legal or illegal drugs.  This means that our experienced DUI drugs accident attorneys must carefully investigate an accident and erratic driving by the other driver to establish impairment.  Sometimes the nature of the accident may provide critical evidence, such as where a driver falls asleep at the wheel or blows through a red light.  Where impairment is not established by specific behavior of the other driver that caused the accident, we may use experts to testify on what impact a particular dosage of a drug would have had on driving ability.

If you are injured in a Mississippi car accident with a driver impaired by drugs, our experienced DUI accident injury attorneys may be able to help you seek the compensation you need to compensate you for your injuries.  We invite you to contact Barrett Law so that we can evaluate your Mississippi car accident claim and advise you of your rights and options.  Call us at 662-834-2376.

No Recovery No Fee!

 

Text Messaging While Driving Is More Dangerous Than Most Think

Friday, November 25th, 2011

While most drivers in Mississippi recognize that texting while driving is extremely dangerous, few people realize the true extent of the danger.  While some public safety organizations have begun referring to texting while driving as ‘the new DUI”, the practice does not yet generate the same sense of moral outrage as drunk driving.  It is somewhat hard to understand why this is the case given recent studies that suggest text messaging while driving may cause as many accidents and fatalities as driving while intoxicated.  According to a study conducted by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers that text message are six times more likely to be involved in a car accident than those who are not texting.

While all cell phone use while driving creates a driving distraction and poses an increased risk of causing a car accident,  research conducted by the University of Utah suggest that text messaging while driving poses an especially dangerous driving hazard.  The researchers have conducted a series of studies designed to evaluate the impact of text messaging on driving and car accident rates. The researchers found that driver’s that texted while performing in a driving simulator were involved in more collisions, displayed slower braking times  when responding to brake lights and exhibited impaired lateral and forward motion in the vehicle simulator.

The researchers also concluded that the difference between driving impairment when texting as opposed to talking on a cell phone is linked to the difference in the way drivers process information. When drivers talk on the telephone they split their attention between both talking and driving and shift the priority of their attention between the activities. Texting drivers are not able to divide their attention so when they are texting their entire attention is focused on reading, writing or sending text messages as opposed dividing their attention between the task of driving and talking on a cell phone.  The study found that the reaction time for drivers when braking decreased thirty percent when drivers were texting while decreasing only nine percent when talking on a cell phone.

While Mississippi has banned text messaging in limited situations, such as use by bus drivers when transporting school kids, state legislators have failed to pass bills that would prohibit cell phone use by all drivers and even rejected a provision that would have prohibited texting in a school zone.  This is surprising given that prior studies conducted by the University of Utah have indicated that drivers who are engaged in text messaging exhibit more signs of impairment while driving than driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent, which is the threshold at which a driver is considered legally intoxicated.  It is inconceivable that Mississippi parents would condone an exception to DUI laws in school zones or general authorization to drive while intoxicated.

While public awareness is growing regarding the extent of the dangers associated with texting and driving, the practice still is not condemned like driving under the influence of alcohol.  It is estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that almost 5,500 people per year are killed and another 450,000 people are injured in distracted driving collisions.  If you or your loved one has been injured in a Mississippi motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver who is texting rather than concentrating on his or her driving, our experienced Mississippi distracted driver attorneys represent our clients with diligence and compassion.  We invite you to contact Barrett Law so that we can evaluate your Mississippi car accident claim and advise you of your rights and options.  Call us at 662-834-2376.

No Recovery No Fee!

 

Feds Consider Guidelines to Reduce Sleep Apnea as a Cause of Fatigue Based Trucking Accidents

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

One of the leading causes of commercial trucking accidents in Mississippi as well as throughout the country is truck drivers that are sleepy or fatigued. Although the trucking industry is heavily regulated to prevent trucking accidents involving fatigued drivers, these regulations primarily address the amount of time a driver is on the road and the length of rest periods.  These regulations designed to prevent or reduce driver fatigue are called hours of service (HOS) rules.  Although these regulations limited drivers driving shifts and mandate rest periods, federal trucking regulations do little to address the quality of off-duty rest time.

Many truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea.  This disorder is a serious medical condition in which a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing while sleeping.  It is often characterized by loud snoring interrupted by periods where the person seems to be struggling for breath.  Sleep apnea involves breathing interruptions of 10-20 seconds that may occur hundreds of times while a person is sleeping.  This disorder often prevents a person from getting the quality of sleep necessary to be alert and awake.  Because the sleep cycle is constantly interrupted, a person will spend more time in light sleep and less time in deep sleep.  For the many truck drivers with sleep apnea, this means less attentive and mentally sharp drivers behind the wheel of big-rigs on Mississippi roads.

While it may be tempting to dismiss the seriousness of the problem, a recent study conducted by researchers in British Columbia found that a driver suffering from sleep apnea faced double the risk of being involved in a commercial trucking accident.  The study followed the accident patterns of drivers over a three year period and found that the group of drivers with sleep apnea faced a much higher risk of being involved in a tractor-trailer collision.  This study confirms earlier studies that also found a higher truck accident risk associated with drivers who suffer from sleep apnea.  Another interesting finding in the British Columbia study is that even very minor sleep apnea caused an increase in trucking collisions.

The Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes to existing guidelines regarding compliance with medical fitness standards concerning sleep apnea.  It has been estimated that the number of drivers of tractor-trailers who suffer from sleep apnea may be as high as 30 percent.  Although this is more than seven times the rate of sleep apnea in the general population, the disparity is predicated on the prevalence of the two leading risk factors of age and obesity amongst commercial truck drivers.  Approximately half of all tractor-trailer drivers are 45 or older and almost half are obese.

Given the serious risk associated with driving an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer while fatigued, stricter regulations to prevent sleep apnea related accidents are a constructive step.  HOS regulations can be an effective way to prevent driver from being involved in fatigued based accident related to lack of rest periods or too many consecutive hours on the road.  New sleep apnea guidelines can help ensure that drivers that may have issues in terms of quality of sleep are identified.  A tired driver behind the wheel of a forty ton fully loaded tractor-trailer is an extremely scary proposition.  The Mississippi tractor-trailer accident lawyers of Barrett Law provide zealous advocacy to those injured in trucking accidents including those caused by driver fatigue.  The commercial trucking attorneys at Barrett Law represent accident victims throughout the state so call us today at 662-834-2376 to see how we can help.

Thanksgiving Travel Requires Caution to Avoid Drunken Driving Accidents

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Despite the high cost of fuel and challenging financial environment, people throughout Mississippi have set out for Thanksgiving travel throughout the state.  Holiday periods typically present both the highest number of travelers occupying our streets and highways and also substantial spikes in accident rates.  The combination of more vehicles on the road, driver fatigue from traveling long distances and alcohol associated with Thanksgiving parties can present a perfect storm of serious accident risks.  At Barrett Law, we want to remind Thanksgiving travelers to be safe and take extra caution when on the road during this long holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving is a common travel holiday that sees many serious accidents caused by drunken drivers. Approximately forty million people will travel in excess of fifty miles this weekend with ninety percent of those travelers navigating streets, highways and interstates across the United States.  The day before Thanksgiving is the second leading party night of the year.  It is hardly surprising that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend exceeds all other holiday periods for fatal drunken driving accidents.  Travelers should take safe routes, travel during the day when possible, get plenty of rest prior to driving and take frequent breaks.

Although law enforcement attempts to step up enforcement of DUI laws during holiday periods with DUI checkpoints, many alcohol-related accidents still occur.  An intoxicated driver poses a significant risk to everyone else on the road because of the impact of alcohol on one’s driving ability. While many drivers under the influence of alcohol report believing that they are more effective drivers when intoxicated, drunken driving impairs drivers in the following ways:

  • Impairs judgment and decision-making
  • Slows reaction time for braking and steering
  • Reduces coordination
  • Adversely affects vision and depth perception
  • Distorts perception of speed and distance

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with a drunken driver you may not only file a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, but you may also seek punitive damages.  Punitive damages are designed to punish particularly offensive conduct that shows a conscious disregard for the safety of others and discourage such conduct in the future.  Frequently, punitive damage awards exceed the amount of all other types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

At Barrett Law, we believe traffic fatalities caused by drunken drivers are both needless and tragic. We are committed to seeking justice for the victims of drunk drivers and to diligently pursuing the best possible outcome for those victims.  We invite you to contact us so that we can evaluate your Mississippi car accident claim and advise you of your rights and options.  Call us at 662-834-2376.

No Recovery No Fee!

 

Early Start for School Increases Teen Auto Accidents

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Teens have a much higher incidence of auto accidents in Mississippi and throughout the U.S. when they start school early in the morning according to a study that was conducted in 2008 and just published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.  There was a comparison study conducted between two towns in Virginia.  In Virginia Beach, VA teenagers started school between 7:20 am and 7:25 am while in the other town, Chesapeake, VA, the kids started school between 8:40 am and 8:45 am.

The data showed that the 16-18 year old drivers in the town of Virginia Beach had a 41 percent higher crash rate than those teenagers from the town of Chesapeake.  There were 65.8 motor vehicle accidents for every 1000 drivers in that age group in Virginia Beach and only 46.6 per 1000 in Chesapeake.  The same study replicated an earlier study conducted in 2007 that found a crash rate of 71.2 per 1000 drivers for Virginia Beach teen drivers and only 55.6 per 1000 drivers for Chesapeake teen drivers.

The researchers theorize that teenagers are experiencing biological changes as they age so sleep deprivation can actually be more of a problem in this age group than in adults.  The average teenager actually requires a little over nine hours of sleep a night according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  A lot of teens have busy school and sport schedules as well as active social calendars.  These activities can prevent them from going to bed early enough every night so that when then get up in the morning they do not feel rested.  There does not have to be a study done to conclude that a more rested driver is going to be more alert and safe or that fatigued drivers have much higher car accident rates in Mississippi.

Starting Later

It makes sense that maybe it would be better to work along more with these kids’ natural circadian rhythms. In other words, Mississippi school districts might be well advised to adapt to the natural sleep and activity patterns of teenagers by implementing later start times for classes.  A separate study coming out in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicates that if the start of school was delayed by just one hour, then students’ attention levels and cognitive performance would increase. There is no specific focus on driving in this study, but it stands to reason that a more alert driver would make for a safer driver.  Given the high prevalence or teen auto accidents in Mississippi, this would seem like a prudent change to consider.

This recent study only confirms the results of earlier studies that indicate a link between the amount of sleep that teens get each night and their likelihood of being involved in an Atlanta auto accident.  A study in Lexington, KY in 1998 analyzed the relationship between auto crash rates and increased sleep in teen drivers.  The school changed the school start time to later in the day.  Researchers then studied data from two years prior to the change and from two years after the change.  The crash rates declined 16.5 percent in this study group compared to the crash rates of teens in the rest of the state, which experienced a 7.8 percent increase in car accident rates.

The study from Virginia does not prove a cause and effect relationship between early school start times and increased car crashes rates.  What it does show is that there is a relationship between increased auto crashes and tired teen drivers.  Later starts for Mississippi schools just seem like a logical place to start so teens get more quality sleep time making it more likely that they will remain alert and safe while driving.  There also may be additional benefits to kids such as increased learning and productivity, which has nothing to do with driving at all.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident involving a fatigued driver, then call our office today to consult with our team of personal injury attorneys.  The roots of the Barrett Law Office extend back over 75 years.  We have developed a reputation for providing zealous advocacy and compassionate legal representation to auto accident victims throughout Mississippi.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a Mississippi motor vehicle accident, we invite you to call us today at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help

Traumatic Brain Injuries: Among the Most Devastating Car Accident Injuries

Monday, November 21st, 2011

There are few personal injuries as devastating as a traumatic brain injury. This type of life-altering injury, which is often the product of a Mississippi car accident, typically has a permanent debilitating impact that may rob an accident victim of his or her ability to walk or communicate and other fundamental mental and physical functions that drastically impact one’s quality of life.  While traumatic brain injuries are not caused exclusively by motor vehicle accidents, car accidents are the most common cause of a traumatic brain injury for those under the age of 75. Traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents are also the most significant cause of long-term serious disability in children and teens.

At Barrett Law, we know first-hand the devastating impact that traumatic brain injury can have on accident victims and their families.  A traumatic brain injury can deprive a family of the love and companionship of a close family member and cause financial turmoil.  If the person who suffers this type of life-altering injury is a substantial contributor to a family’s household income, one’s family may face astronomical medical expenses while suffering a significant reduction in household income.

Although a family may suffer an enormous emotional toll when a family member suffers a traumatic brain injury, the financial costs are almost unimaginable.  It has been estimated that the annual direct and indirect costs associated with a traumatic brain injuries in the United States exceeds $48 billion per year.  A family that has had a loved one suffer a traumatic brain injury may be faced with a cost of treatment that can be as much as $4 million.  The medical care and rehabilitative costs alone are typically as much as $150,000 for hospital bills, vocational rehabilitation and training and modifications of one’s home.

Many people presume that their chances of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury are remote.  This is an inaccurate assumption because traumatic brain injuries suffered in auto accidents are much more common than people realize.  More than a million people per year suffer some form of traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries are generally very serious resulting in almost fifty-thousand fatalities per year with another eighty-thousand people experiencing significant long-term disability.  Though these statistics may be surprising, they tell only part of the story.  These statistics include only traumatic brain injury victims treated in hospitals but do not count those treated in doctor’s offices or emergency rooms.

Although there may be different types of accidents that can cause a traumatic brain injury the most common cause is a motor vehicle accident. When a car, truck or SUV collides with another vehicle or stationary object, a person’s body may be jolted forward causing a head injury when the accident victim’s head strikes the windshield, dashboard or other hard surface inside the motor vehicle.  Sometimes the skull may even be penetrated by a foreign object which is forced through the skull to the brain.

Traumatic brain injuries also may be the result of the body being whipped forward and then backward in a collision. The brain may continue moving inside the skull and impact the hard bony structure of the inside portion of the skull.  The brain is made of a soft gelatinous material that is susceptible to injury when impacting the skull.  Because the skull and brain move at different speeds during a motor vehicle collision given their differences in mass and  weight, this can cause the brain to collide with the inside of the skull. The force of impact from a serious car accident can cause a motor vehicle accident victim to suffer swelling of the brain, severe contusions or axonal shearing.

Diffuse axonal shearing is a severe traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain is propelled forward then backward inside the skull resulting in it being first squeezed or compressed and then stretched because of the soft gelatinous nature of the brain.  The fragile axons of the neurons also suffer from this process of compression and stretching.  If the force of the collision is severe enough, the axons may be stretched to the point that they tear, which is referred to as axonal shearing and can cause the neurons to die.

The Mississippi car accident lawyers of Barrett Law represent those who suffer serious injury like traumatic brain injuries.  The auto accident attorneys at Barrett Law represent accident victims throughout the state so call us today at 662-834-2376 to see how we can help.

How Dangerous Conduct by an Auto Driver Can Lead to a Serious Bike Accident in Mississippi

Friday, November 18th, 2011

In the blink of an eye the driver of an automobile can cause serious injury or death to a bicyclist. For instance, each year California alone has over 130 bicycle deaths and 11,000 injuries to bicyclists. While many states are working hard to improve bicycle and pedestrian paths the dismal statistics will only be lessened through the implementation of stricter bicycle safety laws and increasing awareness among drivers of vehicles.

Although bicyclists fall under the same laws and protections as motor vehicle drivers, the fact remains that it is not safe in many situations to bike alongside a big truck or car. Quite often drivers of passenger vehicles are either unaware of a bicyclist or simply don’t treat them like they would treat other vehicles on the road. Large trucks may not ever see a bicyclist until they have collided with them due to the size of the truck and the blind spots which can occur directly behind or on the side.

Primary Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Unfortunately, driver negligence has been documented as the primary cause of injuries and death to bicyclists. Auto drivers may pull out of a driveway or parking lot directly in front of a bicyclist, causing a serious accident. Many times drivers also fail to yield to a bicyclist, or turn into the bicycle rider. Automobile drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also be the cause of a bicycle accident. Further causes of bicycle accidents can be bad weather, inattentive drivers, overly aggressive drivers or drowsy drivers.

Bicycle Safety Codes

Most states operate under certain bicycle codes such as how a bicycle should be equipped during daylight hours as well as what lights and reflectors must be present when a bicyclist rides after dark. The laws spell out the fact that a biker must ride in the bike lane when one is present, as well as when it is legal to leave the bike lane. However, bicycle safety codes can only go so far in preventing accidents and fatalities—motor vehicle drivers must take seriously the fact that they don’t own the road and are bound under law to share it with bicyclists.

Driver Negligence

Many times a bicyclist may be waiting at an intersection and an impatient driver will turn in front of the bicycle. A right hand turn can knock the bicyclist over while a left hand turn can cause the bicyclist to collide with the vehicle. Other times a passing driver will fail to give a bicyclist enough space, either forcing him off the road or sideswiping him with the car’s mirror. Many auto drivers fail to recognize that bicyclists have the same rights and right of way as other drivers and may even use the biking lane as a shortcut. Drivers are also guilty of opening their car doors without looking, knocking a bicyclist over and of believing bicycle brakes are as effective as car brakes. Auto drivers should never assume a bicyclist can stop as suddenly as the car is able to.

Getting Help

If you are a serious cyclist, you run the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash as some point. Even if you are extremely safety-conscious, obeying all traffic laws, being fully aware of your surroundings and taking all safety precautions, an unsafe auto driver can still cause you to be seriously injured. If you were injured in a biking accident due to a driver’s negligence, it’s important that you get legal representation as soon as possible following your accident in order to obtain the most favorable outcome. Make sure your bicycle is kept safely until it has been examined to help provide evidence regarding your accident. There is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims such as this, so don’t be left holding a bag full of medical bills, unable to work and support your family.

Call and speak with an experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyer from Barrett Law, PLLC.  Be sure to visit our web blog for more helpful information about your case or call us for a free consultation to answer your important questions.

The attorneys at Barrett Law, PLLC serve people throughout Mississippi including: North Mississippi, Jackson, Hattiesburg, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

DUI Sobriety Checkpoints Preventing Drunken Driving Car Accidents in Mississippi

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Those who drive under the influence of alcohol continue to account for an unacceptable number of serious accidents resulting in injury and death to other innocent vehicle occupants.  The average number of DUI fatalities in Mississippi exceeds the national average.  The number of motor vehicle related fatalities caused by drunk drivers has lingered at approximately 35 percent in recent years.  Mississippi ranks much lower when the number of DUI accidents per number of miles driven is factored into the calculation. This substantial risk of being involved in a serious car accident with a driver under the influence of alcohol makes the use of sobriety checkpoints an important countermeasure for vehicle safety in Mississippi.

There are a great number of critics that believed DUI sobriety checkpoints have limited effectiveness in preventing alcohol related car accidents.  Critics of sobriety checkpoints contend that relatively few drunk drivers are actually arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint.  Those who believe that sobriety checkpoints are an effective countermeasure to prevent DUI fatalities counter that the key benefit of a DUI sobriety checkpoint is that it acts as a deterrent to potential drunk drivers.  It is probably reasonable to assume that DUI sobriety checkpoints serve as a deterrent to moderate and social drinkers but probably have minimal impact on habitual drinkers.

Critics of sobriety checkpoints claim that less than two percent of drivers that pass through sobriety checkpoints are actually arrested for DUI.  This contention is misleading for a couple of reasons.  First, the purpose of DUI checkpoints is not to arrest drunken drivers but rather to encourage those who might otherwise choose to drive while intoxicated to make alternative arrangements if they will be drinking.  Second, given the millions of people that pass through DUI sobriety checkpoints, even a small percentage of DUI arrests amount to tens of thousands of drivers under the influence that are removed from roadways.

Another key factor that is rarely considered when the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints is analyzed is that many motorists removed from the road do not have a valid driver’s license.  Drivers who are operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license may never have satisfied the requirements to attain a driver’s license or may have had their driver’s license privileges suspended or revoked because of accidents, traffic violations or DUI convictions.  When considering the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints, the reality that a substantial number of the motorists removed from the road are driving without a valid license must also be considered part of the safety benefits of sobriety checkpoints in Mississippi. While checking to see if drivers have a valid license cannot be the focus of the sobriety checkpoint, it is a secondary benefit.

While it is debatable whether the economics of sobriety checkpoints make them the most cost-effective means of preventing drunken driving accidents in Mississippi, there can be little doubt that many drivers are removed from the road for both driving under the influence and driving without a license, which makes  the roads of Mississippi safer.  If you have been injured in a Mississippi car accident with a drunken driver, the experienced Mississippi DUI car accident attorneys at Barrett Law diligently represent DUI accident victims throughout the state so call us today at 662-834-2376 to see how we can help.