Archive for May, 2012

Heavy Machinery Accidents a Common Cause of Severe Injuries on Mississippi Construction Sites

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The construction industry is the most dangerous of occupations with tens of thousands of people injured on construction sites annually, and another thousand killed in tragic mishaps while laboring on a construction project.  Construction site accidents in Mississippi often result in permanent debilitating injuries that may result in impairment of one’s mental functioning, mobility and livelihood.  When you suffer serious injury in a construction accident, you may be under enormous stress and financial challenges.  Although there are many types of hazards present on a Mississippi construction site, defective and dangerous machinery accidents are one of the most significant hazards on construction projects.

While most people that work with heavy machinery and equipment on construction sites know that careful operation and use of such equipment can reduce the risk of injuries related to heavy machinery, they also know that many accidents are caused by the negligence of others and defective or poorly maintained machinery.  Construction accidents involving defective machinery or inexperienced operators can be complex because they often involve multiple responsible parties.  If you are injured in a construction site machinery accident, you may be limited to worker’s compensation remedies against your employer.  Because the amount of recovery that is available in the worker’s compensation system is far more limited than a personal injury judgment, our experienced defective and dangerous machinery attorneys carefully investigate our clients’ construction accidents to identify third parties that may also be liable for your injury so that you may also be able to pursue damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Our Mississippi defective and dangerous machinery accidents attorneys have successfully represented clients who have suffered injuries caused by machinery, equipment and tools on construction sites including the following:

  • Dump Trucks
  • Excavators
  • Power tools
  • Backhoes
  • Cranes
  • Backhoes
  • Aerial Lifts
  • Compactors

Because of the danger associated with heavy equipment on construction projects, it is essential that those using such equipment receive proper training and supervision.  When those operating heavy machinery receive insufficient training, the danger of a severe construction accident involving such equipment is unacceptably high and may result in catastrophic injuries or fatal construction accidents.  Injuries may also be caused by construction equipment that is defective or not properly maintained and serviced.  If you are injured by defective machinery, we may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the defective equipment.  Any entities responsible for maintaining such heavy machinery on construction sites may also be liable for accidents that involve dangerous construction machinery that malfunctions.

Our experienced Mississippi construction machinery accident lawyers have over a century of experience carefully investigating accidents on construction sites before they change and critical evidence disappears or machinery is repaired.  We examine the circumstances of our clients’ dangerous or defective machinery accident to determine the factors and potential parties that may be liable for construction machinery injuries.  Our dedicated defective machinery attorneys also can advise you regarding your right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a third party in addition to a worker’s compensation claim against your employer.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Understanding Mississippi Slip, Trip and Fall Cases

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Explain Premises Liability

If you were injured in an accident on a commercial property, you may have a viable premises liability claim. The businesses and individuals who own commercial properties are legally obligated to maintain their properties in a condition that is reasonably safe for those people who lawfully enter them. When a business owner fails to provide a reasonably safe environment for their business invitees, those invitees may become injured. When that happens, the injured party may pursue a premises liability claim against the property owner. Depending upon how your injury occurred, you may have a specific type of premises liability claim called a slip, trip, and fall claim. A slip, trip, and fall claim is exactly what it sounds like – you slipped or tripped and fell while you were on someone else’s property, and you were injured as the result of the fall.

If you slip, trip or fall while you are visiting a commercial property like a restaurant, grocery store, retail shop, or other type of establishment, it is important to determine what caused your fall. It could have been a missing floor tile, spilled food or drink, merchandise that was not on a rack or a shelf, or some other foreign substance or piece of debris. The item or condition which caused you to slip or trip and fall is an important element in your claim for damages, and your attorney will want to conduct a thorough investigation of the accident scene and look for answers to important questions about the item or condition which caused your fall. The information that your attorney gathers at the accident scene is crucial support for your claim for damages.

Because evidence from the accident scene is vital to a claim for damages in a slip, trip, and fall case, accident victims should contact a personal injury attorney right away. The types of witnesses and evidence that are involved in slip, trip, and fall cases include things that may get repaired in order to prevent additional injuries to other people, witnesses who may change jobs frequently, security camera footage that may only be available for a limited time from the date that it is filmed, and other types of information that is available only temporarily.

Fortunately, it is not necessary that you know the full extent of your injuries before you contact an attorney, just as it is not necessary that you feel any pain before seeking medical attention following a slip, trip, and fall accident. Both your doctor and your lawyer can do a better job of helping you if you seek their assistance immediately.

Perhaps the most important thing that you can do after a slip, trip, and fall accident is to get immediate medical attention whether you feel hurt or not. Some injuries that can be caused by falling, including some severe and life threatening injuries, cannot always be felt right away. Doctors know how to check patients for these and other injuries after they have been involved in a slip, trip, and fall accident. Being seen by a doctor as soon as possible after your accident ensures that any injuries that you do have can be treated promptly. It also ensures that a record of your treatment is created, which is important for proving your damages in a slip, trip, and fall accident claim.

Barrett Law PLLC: Serving the Needs of Injured Parties throughout Mississippi  

Thousands of Americans die and millions of others are injured on commercial properties every year because property owners do not keep their premises safe. The Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC may be able to help you if you have been injured in a slip, trip, and fall accident. Our experienced team of attorneys can evaluate your claim and help you understand what your options are. To learn more, please call us today, at (662) 834-2376 to schedule an initial consultation.

Mississippi Trench Collapse and Excavator Accidents

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

There is little dispute that the construction industry is the most dangerous occupation for serious accidents that result in debilitating injuries and fatalities.  While there are many dangers and hazards that pose a risk of serious injury or fatality on Mississippi construction sites.  Trenching and excavator accidents are among the most dangerous types of construction project hazards.  Trenching accidents can result in a horrific scenario where those in the trench are trapped and suffocated in cave-ins, trench collapses or sidewalk collapses.  Although OSHA promulgates specific regulations and safeguards that are designed to protect construction workers from trench collapse accidents, these regulations and safeguards are often ignored, frequently with tragic results.

Inexperienced or careless excavator operators, defectively designed or manufactured excavator equipment or lack of compliance with OSHA and other safety regulations may cause serious and even fatal trenching and excavator accidents.  A construction worker who is at the bottom of a trench can be extremely vulnerable when excavated soil accumulates too close to the edge of the trench compromising the strength of the trench wall.

When vibration from an excavator or backhoe is added to the equation, it can cause the sidewalls to collapse, and the soil that has accumulated next to the trench may cave in and cause body crush injuries or suffocation to anyone at the bottom of the trench.  When an excavator is operated too close to the edge of the trench, it can also cause the trench to collapse and/or the excavator to rollover.  When the excavator rolls over, it can crush the operator who is inside the excavator or those nearby working on the ground.  Another common type of excavator injury involves improperly secured buckets that fall from the excavator crushing those on the ground.

Although there are a wide range of trench collapse and excavator accidents that occur on construction sites, the most common types includes the following:

Unauthorized and Inexperienced Operators: if the operator of the excavator leaves the machinery unattended with the keys in the ignition, which is a common practice, an inexperienced person on the construction site may attempt to operate the excavator and cause a serious accident.

Excavator Collisions: An inattentive, inexperienced or careless excavator operator may collide with other heavy machinery being operated on the construction site, or pedestrians on the ground.  Distracted excavator drivers may remain unaware of potential driving hazards on the construction site or fail to notice construction workers in the path of the heavy machinery.  Operation of an excavator on a construction site requires an experienced driver because of the uneven and rough terrain that can make it easier for an excavator to be involved in a rollover accident.

Crush Injuries Caused by Improperly Secured Buckets: If the bucket of the excavator is not properly attached and secured it can fall and crush those on the ground.  Sometimes excavator operators who are rushing, inattentive or inexperienced fail to verify that the bucket is properly attached to the jib or that the quick hitch pins are properly secured in place.  Excavator crush accidents caused by falling buckets are particularly common with quick couplers, which the operator controls hydraulically from within the vehicle to facilitate quickly change the jib attachments.  This is an especially serious risk with older excavators that do not have manual safety pins.

Trench Collapse Accidents: The excavator operator may use the machinery too close to the edge of an improperly shored trench causing the trench to collapse and the excavator to rollover.  The operator of the excavator or anyone on the ground in the vicinity of the excavator may suffer catastrophic injuries.  An excavator should never be used close to a trench when someone is inside but a careless operator may fail to check and verify that it is safe.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data there were over 270 people killed in excavator and trench collapse accidents during a recent six year period.  We invite you to contact us if you have been involved in a trench collapse accident or excavator accident in Mississippi.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Anesthesia Error Resulting in Serious Injury Often the Basis of Mississippi Medical Malpractice Claims

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

When one seeks medical services from any professional medical service provider, it is reasonable to expect a high quality of care.  Tragically, over 200,000 patients per year are the victim of a medical error or omission by an anesthesiologist.  A medical error involving anesthesia can result in serious injuries including brain damage and even wrongful death.  Injuries caused by anesthesia errors typically involve administering an incorrect dose or an overdose.

When a person undergoes a surgical procedure, the process will often entail one of several forms of anesthesia.  The type of anesthesia that poses the greatest risk is general anesthesia.  When general anesthesia is employed, the patient typically will be unconscious or semi-conscious and will not remember what occurred during the procedure.  The use of general anesthesia always involves a certain degree or risk and as many as 1 in 200,000 patients are killed by general anesthesia each year.  Many times during a surgical procedure the surgical team needs the patient to remain conscious so regional or local anesthesia is utilized.  Regional anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia and usually numbs an entire portion of the patient’s body.  Local anesthesia is used when only a small area needs to be numbed.

While anesthesia errors can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common cause is some form of professional negligence.  If serious injury or wrongful death that is caused by anesthesia could have been prevented by conforming to the standard of care that would be ordinarily exercised by other anesthesiologist in the region, patients that suffer serious injury or death caused by an anesthesia error or omission may have the right to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice to recover damages, including medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, impairment of quality of life and marital relationship and other damages depending on the specific circumstances of your medical malpractice claim.

The most common forms of medical malpractice involving anesthesia include the following:

Dosage Errors:  This type of error involves administering too much or not enough anesthesia.  Sometimes these errors are a result of improper labeling of the anesthesia.

Failure to Adequately Review Medical History: Some patients have specific issues in their medical background that must be evaluated when using anesthesia, such as past heart conditions including heart attacks.  An anesthesiologist must be aware of this type of medical issue when administering anesthesia.

Lack of Monitoring: Because there is inherent risk associated with the administering of anesthesia, it is imperative that patients who are receiving anesthesia be constantly monitored.  The anesthesiologist is expected to monitor a patient’s level of consciousness and watch for any distress.

Failure to Properly Intubate: Intubation is necessary when general anesthesia is used because anesthesia paralyzes the diaphragm, which makes it necessary to use a ventilator for breathing.  When mistakes are made during the intubation procedure or the anesthesiologist fails to intubate the patient, serious damage can occur including brain damage or death due to oxygen deprivation.

Anesthesia Awareness: This is a particularly horrific form of medical malpractice where the patient is not given sufficient anesthesia.  The patient may be aware of pain but unable to communicate during the procedure.  A patient who is subjected to this type of medical malpractice may suffer the excruciating pain of surgery without the benefit of being numb or unconscious.

Other errors or omissions that may form a basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit against an anesthesiologist include:

  • Improper administration of oxygen during surgery
  • Administering anesthesia while under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Use of medical equipment that is defective or improperly maintained
  • Permitting inappropriate proximity between hot  medical equipment and oxygen

These are a few of the types of medical mistakes that an anesthesiologist may make, which may provide a basis to pursue a legal claim for medical malpractice in Mississippi.  Litigation of a medical malpractice case involving anesthesia error requires use of medical experts and extensive resources.  Our Mississippi anesthesia error lawyers will carefully evaluate your medical history, the details of the medical procedure, potential issues involving those on the medical team and other facts to develop the most persuasive anesthesia malpractice litigation strategy on behalf of our clients.

There are many types of mishaps and injuries that can occur when anesthesia is being administered during a medical procedure.  Some of the most common or serious types of injuries include:

  • Cardiovascular injuries (heart attack/stroke)
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI) that may impair sensation and movement
  • Other impairment of bodily functions
  • Coma
  • Asphyxia
  • Injury to the trachea caused by intubation
  • Wrongful death

If you suffer any of these serious injuries because of an anesthesia mistake, our experienced Mississippi anesthesia medical malpractice lawyers are committed to assisting victims of substandard medical care obtain the financial compensation to rebuild their lives.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Understanding Mississippi Wrongful Death Actions

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

There are few challenges in life more trying or heartbreaking than losing someone you love in a tragic accident. When you lose your child, a parent or someone else that you love, it is likely that you will be overcome with emotions including anxiety, frustration, sadness and even anger. Although it is never easy to learn that someone you love has died in a tragic accident, it is even harder to come to terms with the loss of someone you love when it is caused by the wrongful conduct of a third-party whether intentional, reckless or negligent.  In the wake of a fatal tragic accident involving a loved one, few people have the emotional strength to face the aggravation of dealing with legal challenges or uncooperative insurance adjusters.

At Barrett Law, our experienced and compassionate team of Mississippi wrongful death attorneys represents the families of fatal accidents with compassion, competence and dedication to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. We know that no some of money will restore the love of a family member that has been lost or ease the pain associated with knowing you will never hold the person in your arms again.  However, pragmatic real-world problems accompany the deep emotional challenges of losing a close family member.  If a loved one who has been lost was the primary breadwinner in the family, you may be facing a mountain of household and medical bills with no realistic way to cover these mounting expenses.  A wrongful death lawsuit can serve a number of functions for family members that have lost someone they love by providing closure, punishing the wrongdoer, discouraging such behavior in the future and providing a financial foundation to secure the future of your family.

If you lose a loved one in a tragic incident involving a third party, you may initiate a claim for wrongful death if you are spouse, parent or child.  The extent of the misconduct by the person who causes the death of someone you love will determine the scope of recoverable damages.  In incidents that are based on reckless or intentional misconduct, the court may even award punitive (exemplary) damages.  This type of damage is designed to address conduct that is particularly offensive and objectionable both to punish the wrongdoer and to discourage future similar bad acts.  An example of reckless conduct that might justify an award of punitive damages would be a driver who causes a fatal drunk driving collision.  Any intentional act that causes a wrongful death will usually support punitive damages against the wrongdoer with an example being someone who commits a violent crime resulting in a fatality.

Our Mississippi wrongful death lawyers at Barrett Law have represented clients in a wide range of wrongful death lawsuits and have obtained substantial settlements and verdicts for our clients, which have allowed them to provide for their financial future following the death of a family breadwinner.  Examples of the types of Mississippi wrongful death accidents that our personal injury law firm handles include the following:

  • Fatal trucking accidents
  • Head-on vehicle collisions
  • Motorcycle accidents (particularly involving head injuries).
  • SUV rollovers
  • Bicyclists struck by motor vehicle drivers
  • Run off the road accidents
  • Fatal side effects from defective products
  • Pedestrian vehicle collisions
  • Construction site accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents  (trip and falls)
  • Industrial accidents including explosions and fires
  • Deaths from occupational illnesses (mesothelioma)
  • Vehicle crashes involving buses
  • 15 passenger vans involved in rollover accidents
  • Falls from ladders and other elevations

Wrongful death lawsuits typically involve two separate but closely connected types of legal claims. One of these types of claims is the actual “wrongful death” claim. This claim is intended to compensate specific family members for the losses and injury they personally suffer as a result of the loss of someone they love. The compensation that may be available to an immediate family member based on this type of claim may include:

  • Emotional pain and suffering associated with losing someone you love
  • Diminished financial support from the family member who died
  • A child’s loses of the guidance of a parent
  • A spouse’s loss of companionship and services

While the wrongful death claim is intended to compensate surviving family members for their personal loss or injury, the other claim typically asserted in a wrongful death lawsuit is called a survival action.  A survival action is brought on behalf of the estate of the person who has died to assert the right to damages that the person who was fatally injured would have been able to assert had they survived the accident.  In other words, the person bringing this action steps into the shoes of the person who suffered wrongful death.  The damages that may be awarded for a survival claim include the following:

  • Any lost salary or income, including future lost earnings.
  • Expenses associated with burial for funeral
  • Hospital bills and other medical expenses.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering from the time of injury to the time of death (this type of damages are not available if an accident causes immediate death)

The attorneys at our Mississippi wrongful death law firm understand that a wrongful death lawsuit is brought on behalf of a beloved family member that has had their life tragically cut short because of the unsafe or violent act of another.  We also recognize that family members are typically overcome with grief when they lose someone they love, and the aggravation or frustration of poor communication and unreturned phone calls may only add to your anxiety and frustration.  This is why we are committed to keeping our clients informed regarding the status of their wrongful death lawsuit during the entire process.  At the Barrett Law Offices PLLC, our experienced Mississippi wrongful death lawyers represent wrongful death victims and their families throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

 

Mississippi Construction Site Injuries: Confined Space Accidents

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Construction accidents resulting in serious injury and fatalities are common.  While the number of construction fatalities has fallen in each of the last four years, much of this decrease may be linked to the recession and the substantially diminished volume of construction projects.  There were 780 construction site fatalities in 2010 according to United States Department of Labor statistics.  Additionally, workers in the construction industry experienced a four percent accident rate.

However, these numbers are extremely conservative because many injuries that occur with undocumented workers on small construction project go unreported.  It has been estimated that as many as 42,000 days off work per year are caused by construction accidents that are unreported.  The bottom line is that construction accidents are common and confined space accidents are one of the most serious types of construction accidents.

While construction projects are extensively regulated by OSHA and other federal and state agencies, construction accidents related to negligent maintenance and unsafe conditions on construction projects are common.  Our knowledgeable and experienced legal team works closely with construction industry experts to carefully investigate confined space accidents and identify the best possible approach to maximizing compensation for our clients.

Those on construction sites that must enter confined spaces may face a wide range of dangers from physical agents and atmospheric factors.  Confined space accidents are typically caused by either inherent or induced hazards.  An inherent factor involves mechanical, electrical, chemical, thermal or similar factors present on a construction site and their interactions.  Inherent hazards are particularly insidious because they generally cannot be completely eliminated from a construction site but must be prevented with appropriate hazard control measures.  Common examples of inherent hazards include:

  • High voltage causing electrocution
  • High pressure lines that rupture and release toxic or explosive liquids or gases
  • Radiation exposure caused by machinery
  • Burns or other serious injuries caused by extreme temperatures

An induced confined space construction accident involves accidents that are caused by unsafe practices on a construction project.  These confined space accidents may be the result of the failure to implement appropriate safety equipment.  Common examples include lack of structural support, negligently created flammable environments or lack of oxygen at the bottom of a shaft.  These are hazards that proper decision-making and safe construction site safety practices can prevent.

Our Mississippi confined space construction accident lawyers have represented many clients injured in both inherent and induced confined space accidents.  We work closely with construction industry experts to develop the most understandable and persuasive claim for compensation to present to a judge or jury.  Our highly qualified team of Mississippi confined space accident lawyers and industry experts may provide representation for a wide range of confined space hazards including:

  • Explosive gases and fumes
  • Condenser pits
  • Purging agents
  • Transformers
  • Vaults
  • Pipeline assemblies
  • Liquid sumps
  • Electrical shock accidents
  • Low oxygen environments
  • Storage tanks
  • Falling materials

Anyone who works in the construction trades knows that this is far from an exhaustive list of the types of confined space accident hazards on a typical construction site.  These types of construction site injuries often result in catastrophic life-altering injuries and wrongful death.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Federal Regulators’ Intensified Busing Inspections Reminds of Busing Accident Dangers

Friday, May 18th, 2012

With the summer tourism season approaching, federal and state regulators are cracking down on busing companies in an attempt to slow the rising wave of tour bus accidents involving rogue busing companies.  While the inspections are being conducted by federal regulators under the auspices of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 13 Eastern states and the District of Columbia, it is part of a more general movement to protect travelers from unsafe bus companies.

While school bus accidents are the most common form of busing accident in Mississippi, the crackdown in the wake of several fatal bus crashes involving tour buses in recent years highlights the risk when busing operators do not carefully monitor vehicle maintenance and screen or supervise drivers appropriately.  Federal inspections of buses have increased dramatically because of the wave of busing accidents in recent years from 12,991 to 25,705 between 2005-2010.  Federal regulators shut down 54 busing companies just last year because of safety violations involving the condition of the bus or driver related safety issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed additional safety measures including anti-rollover equipment.  Rollover accidents involving buses can be particularly deadly because bus occupants may be ejected from the bus and crushed underneath.  Even when bus occupants remain within the protective shell of the bus, seat belts or air bags do not protect occupants so they may be slammed against the roof or other hard surfaces within the bus.  The anti-rollover equipment being advocated by the NHTSA has proven effective in preventing vehicle rollover accidents involving passenger vehicles and small trucks.  The technology being proposed to prevent bus rollover accidents involves a computer system that monitors braking and adjusts brake pressure on individual wheels to compensate for hard steering maneuvers.

While busing accidents are less common than other forms of motor vehicle accidents, they can result in severe injury and wrongful death.  Bus accidents may occur because of the failure to properly maintain the bus, including tires and brakes.  These dangerous collisions may also result from inadequate screening of bus drivers who have prior driving violations or drug or alcohol abuse issues.  Other drivers may not be properly trained or supervised once hired by a busing company.

If you or someone you love suffers serious injury or a loved one dies in a Mississippi busing accident, you or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.  Our experienced Mississippi busing accident attorneys at Barrett Law carefully investigate our clients’ cases so that we can construct the strongest legal position to obtain the recovery our clients need to rebuild.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Backing Out of Your Driveway Is More Dangerous than You Might Think

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

It is not unusual in Mississippi suburban communities to see a parent crossing the street as they hold their child’s hand.  This is not only predictable, but also an effective way to guard one’s child from an inattentive, drug or alcohol impaired or otherwise indifferent driver.  Ironically, parents often do not show the same level of attention and care when their children are playing near the driveway of their residence. While most people believe that the majority of children are hit by motor vehicles while crossing the street, a substantial number of children are injured every year by people backing out of a driveway.  There more than 220 fatal back over accidents per year, and there are another 14,000 people being injured by vehicles backing out of a driveway.  Our Mississippi driveway accident attorneys at Barrett Law understand the devastating emotional toll of having a child injured in a driveway back over accident as well as the enormous financial cost that may accompany serious catastrophic injuries.

Tragically, small children are the most common victims of driveway back over accidents. Because is not possible to see small objects immediately behind a vehicle, it is essential when backing out of the driveway that a driver physically walk behind the vehicle and check to make sure there are no children, pets or other obstacles present. This simple practice could prevent most, if not all, back over accidents in Mississippi driveways.  However, motorists are typically in a hurry to get to work, take their children to school or get home to deal with daily chores.  This urgency to get to one’s destination often means that drivers do not check behind their vehicle to determine if it is safe to back out of a driveway or parking lot. The problem associated with back up accidents has increased with the growing popularity of SUVs and pickup trucks with lift kits. The higher a vehicle sits off the ground the greater the area of the blind spot behind the vehicle.

New innovations in vehicle safety technology offer promise in reducing the number of these serious and fatal Mississippi backing up car crashes. Some collision warning systems sound an alarm to alert a driver that it is not safe to back up.   Other versions of this warning system provide an alarm to those who are potentially behind the vehicle designed to alert a pedestrian that the vehicle is about to move in reverse.  While our Mississippi car accident lawyers commend these safety improvements, they are still a rare option on many vehicles. While eventually these may become standard features, it is essential that for now anyone backing out of the driveway be alert regarding the location of their children or other children in the neighborhood and check behind their vehicle before backing out of the driveway.  At the Barrett Law Offices PLLC, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent personal injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

Should Mississippi Consider DUI Per Se Laws for Drugged Driving?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Mississippi drivers generally understand the dangers posed by drivers that are under the influence of alcohol.  Any driver whose driving abilities are actually impaired by alcohol may be convicted of DUI. However, every state has eased the burden on law enforcement and prosecutors of proving DUI cases by passing “DUI per se” laws that permit anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more to be convicted of DUI without needing to establish actual impaired driving ability.  Per se DUI laws do not apply to DUI cases involving marijuana and other drugs, but some advocate creating similar DUI per se laws for marijuana.

Marijuana is now legal to treat certain medical conditions in 16 states, and medical marijuana legislation is currently pending in 12 more states.  Colorado is currently considering legislation that designates a BAC for THC  (the active ingredient in marijuana) above 5 nanograms as “DUI per se.”  The objective of DUI per se laws for marijuana is to keep marijuana impaired drivers off the roads and prevent car accidents.  While Colorado is a state where medical marijuana is legal, this issue also is relevant in Mississippi though there is no medical marijuana law nor proposed legislation.  If marijuana impairs driving ability, then laws that make it easier to convict drivers of being impaired by marijuana may prevent Mississippi car accidents that result in serious injury and wrongful death.

Currently, the prosecution of a driver who tests positive for cannabis is more complex than DUI cases involving alcohol.  These cases involve establishing through testimony or other evidence (e.g. a car accident) that the driver actually displayed erratic driving indicating impaired driving ability.  Many times there will not be sufficient evidence to prove actual impairment of one’s physical or mental skills relevant to driving.  Sometimes expert witnesses are used to testify regarding what the impact of a certain amount of marijuana would have been on driving ability.  The bottom line is that DUI cases involving marijuana use are more difficult to prove and costly to prosecute than DUI per se cases involving alcohol.

Per se laws for marijuana would create an additional tool for law enforcement and prosecutors to discourage driving while under the influence of alcohol.  However, there are a number of issues raised by opponents of this approach to preventing car accidents caused by marijuana use.  The metabolites of marijuana can remain in one’s system for days and even weeks so it can be difficult to determine whether someone actually ingested alcohol prior to climbing behind the wheel.  Critics of marijuana DUI per se laws also point to studies that marijuana does not have the same impact on driving ability as alcohol.

The experienced car accident attorneys at Barrett Law are committed to aggressive measures to prevent Mississippi car accidents that cause painful debilitating injuries and wrongful death.  Per se laws for marijuana may deter some marijuana users from driving which will save lives.  If you or someone you love has been injured or a loved one has been killed by a drunk driver or an drug impaired driver, our experienced Mississippi DUI attorneys aggressively fight to hold impaired drivers accountable for the injuries and loss of life that they cause.  At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

What to Do When You Are In a Collision in a Rental Car and Declined Optional Insurance Coverage

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

As the school year winds down and the weather heats up, many people throughout Mississippi are making plans to go on vacation.  If you are planning to travel out of state by plane, there is a good chance that you may need to rent a car, truck or SUV.  Rental car leasing agents at all of the major car rental companies, including Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, Avis, Dollar or Alamo will likely encourage you to purchase optional liability insurance.  Given the tough economy many people presume that the odds against be involved in a car accident while on vacation are minimal and pass on the insurance.

Unfortunately, there are far more people than you imagine that are in serious car accidents while traveling.  Traveling in Mississippi can create a perfect storm that leads to a collision because you are driving a car that you are not used to on streets that you have never traveled on.  When a car accident occurs while you are driving a car, truck or SUV from a rental agency, you may have many questions about your ability to be compensated for your injuries and how the cost of the vehicle damage will be covered.  Many people that find themselves in this situation feel a sense of dread remembering the dire warning that they received from the car rental agent about the risks of not taking the optional insurance.

However, there are many sources of insurance that may cover your loss if you are involved in an auto collision in a rental car while visiting Mississippi.  If you did pay the premium for the liability insurance offered by the rental agency, you might be able to pursue a claim against the provider of that insurance coverage for your injuries and loss.  This insurance may also provide the source of funds to repair the vehicle.

Even if you opted out of the insurance offered by the car rental company, you may still be able to seek compensation for your injuries from a wide array of other sources, including the other driver’s insurance, your own insurance and other sources.  If the other driver was negligent because the driver was speeding or ran a red light, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim seeking damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost past and future earnings and diminished quality of life.  If the other driver was not covered by insurance or had minimal coverage so that not all of your losses are covered, we may be able to assist you in pursuing a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Even if none of these sources are available to obtain compensation for injuries, there may still be other options.  If the vehicle is defective, you may be able to seek compensation from the vehicle manufacturer or the rental car company if the agency failed to repair a known defect.  Other options may include a public entity that failed to provide a safe roadway or a vehicle owner that entrusted his or her vehicle to an inexperienced or incompetent driver.  At the Barrett Law Offices PLLC, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent personal injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.