Archive for July, 2012

What to Do When You Hit a Pedestrian

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Over 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year after being struck by a vehicle with another 70,000 or so suffering serious injury. Pedestrians are simply no match for a several-thousand pound car made of metal and glass. Unfortunately, even the best driver can end up hitting a pedestrian and it is a frightening and potentially serious event for all those involved. While many pedestrians have been hit and survived, much more often they are killed or seriously injured. In some cases the driver is distracted for any number of reasons and simply don’t see the pedestrian, in other cases the pedestrian is at fault.

Pedestrians may be walking with headphones on and fail to see an oncoming car or, in many cases, it is children who dart across the street who end up victims of an accident. While pedestrians are generally considered to have the right of way, should they blatantly ignore traffic signals they can make it virtually impossible for an automobile driver to avoid hitting them. Drivers must, however, approach all pedestrian crossings with extra caution, and should slow down in areas where pedestrians are present. There are certain things a driver must absolutely do should they strike a pedestrian.

Stop Immediately and Call for Help

Even if the pedestrian seems to be all right and it was a relatively minor bump-in, you must still call for medical help then call the police. Internal injuries are always a possibility even when the pedestrian claims to be fine. After calling for help, call your insurance company. It can be much easier to sort through all the paperwork when the details are fresh in your mind. If you are able, take some photographs of the accident scene and jot down some notes regarding the time of day, the weather and the circumstances surrounding the accident. Always assume that you could potentially end up in court, and act accordingly with that thought.

Never, Ever, Leave the Scene of the Accident

While it may certainly seem self-evident, you should never leave the scene after you have hit a pedestrian even if the pedestrian leaves. Leaving the scene of an accident can come back to haunt you in the form of lawsuits and even criminal charges. Hit and run charges are by far worse than any charges you may incur which allege negligence. There may even be circumstances you are unaware of, and you may not be responsible at all. You will never know if you don’t stay until the police arrive and give your side of the story.

Never Leave the Pedestrian in Harm’s Way

It is a sure bet that you will be extremely rattled after hitting a pedestrian however if that person is still in harm’s way you need to take immediate action to get them out of the street. If a pedestrian could be hit by another car by virtue of where they landed after the accident then it is imperative that you get help and get them out of the way as well as getting your car out of the way in order to avoid a huge pile-up of car accidents.

Don’t Neglect Your Injuries

Depending on the circumstances of your accident you may also have injuries so don’t neglect your own rights as you tend to the pedestrian. You may also suffer a tremendous amount of guilt whether the accident was your fault or not, particularly if the victim suffered serious injuries. Many people who have hit a pedestrian become very anxious when driving. Should you eventually end up in court you will want to show that you did everything properly following the accident. Whether you are the victim of a pedestrian car accident or were the driver, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner to protect your rights as well as your future.

How Common are Bus Accidents?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Bus accidents are becoming a cause for concern as we hear more and more about them in the news although in the grand scheme of things bus accidents with fatalities are comparatively unusual in the U.S. Most bus crashes occur in metropolitan areas and at relatively low speeds. Approximately 22,000 victims sustain minor to grave injuries after being involved in a bus accident with about 50 fatalities per year although school bus collisions are responsible for only 15 fatalities per year. While any death is tragic—particularly that of a child— considering the huge amount of miles covered by school buses each year you can feel relatively safe putting your children on one to go to school. Overall, nearly 400 million people ride a variety of buses over 31 billion miles per year, making them fairly safe transportation. Should you or a loved one have been unlucky enough to be injured on a commercial bus, it is important you acquire experienced legal counsel early on.

Bus Collision Factors

There are a wide variety of factors involved in bus crashes, but it is estimated that bus driver exhaustion accounts for at least a third of all collisions while a specific medical condition of the driver accounts for another 15-18%. Over half of all bus accidents can be directly attributed to the driver, with smaller percentages related to the condition of the bus or inclement weather conditions. In most accidents there are a variety of factors at play; perhaps the driver was negligent or distracted in combination with a bus which has been poorly maintained. While large buses are not as prone to rollover, the typical 15-passenger van has such a high center of gravity that rollovers are common occurrences. Additionally, most buses lack seat belts, so in the event of an accident the passengers are not restrained.

Tired Bus Drivers

Hours of service for commercial drivers are overwhelmingly disregarded, particularly by those companies which are not union. Although commercial trucks are subject to random stop and checks by police officers or Department of Transportation officials, buses are rarely stopped most likely because of passenger annoyance at the time lost. Due to a lack of regulation, bus drivers may be driving while drowsy could have their driving ability influenced by prescription medications. Those bus drivers who commonly drive city buses may become very aggressive in their driving habits and several cities have had city bus drivers actually caught on camera texting while driving a busload of people.

Other Causes of Bus Accidents

Additionally other vehicles may stop in bus lanes, causing accidents, or pedestrians can enter the bus lane improperly.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studied bus driver accidents and determined that most accidents are a result of bus drivers who fail to properly recognize and react to a situation in order to avoid a collision. Of course some bus accidents are not caused by driver failure as when a bus fails to operate properly or has a brake failure or tire blowout.

In some cases bus companies fail to hold up their end of the bargain—to keep their passengers safe—refusing to accept responsibility and compensate the victims for the damages and injuries they sustain. Having a personal injury attorney in your corner, protecting your rights can be crucial at a time like this. You don’t want to have to go up against a large bus company or their insurance carrier on their own, particularly at a time when you are trying to recover from your injuries. If you have been injured in a bus accident, don’t wait—contact a qualified attorney immediately.

 

 

Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Motorcycle Accident Case

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Motorcycle collisions are among the most dangerous type of accidents with over 3,000 fatalities and 50,000 injuries among motorcyclists in the United States each year. Those motorcyclists who routinely use their cycle as their primary form of transportation are thirty-seven times more likely to die in a collision than automobile passengers or drivers.  The reason motorcycle riders are most often either grievously hurt or killed upon collision with an automobile is mainly because of the complete absence of protection around the motorcycle rider.  Those inside an automobile have at least a modicum of protection in the form of the metal cage enclosing them as well as the safety features incorporated into most automobiles such as seatbelts and airbags.

The motorcyclist has only a helmet—if worn—and perhaps leather leggings which could possibly lessen road rash injuries. Further, due to the stigmas attached to motorcycle riders by many people, trying a case in which a motorcyclist was involved can be quite complex. Juries may tend to assume the motorcycle rider was at fault simply by virtue of their perception of those who drive motorcycles as aggressive risk-takers. Actually, the overwhelming majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the motorcyclist, yet the cards may be stacked against you from the beginning. There are several things you can do to avoid making mistakes which will further jeopardize your case.

Never Sign Anything

Insurance companies almost never have your best interests at heart despite the abundance of television insurance commercials showing friendly, compassionate people who only want to help. The insurance company is interested in one thing—their bottom line. Because of this, insurance adjusters are trained to use any tactic possible to get you to settle for less than you deserve. Until you have legal counsel in your corner, do not talk to an insurance adjuster and never sign anything the insurance company asks you to.

Never Discuss Your Injuries on the Internet

As tempting as it may be to post pictures of your injuries on Facebook or tweet your friends about your accident–resist the urge. Further, once you begin healing continue to resist that urge. Insurance companies are trained to check for information about your injuries everywhere they can. Should you post a photo of yourself horseback riding with your family two weeks after your reportedly-serious motorcycle accident and could hurt your claim. Try to avoid talking about your case to anyone other than your lawyer if at all possible.

Don’t Neglect Documenting Your Injuries

One of the primary ways accident cases can go awry is simply from lack of organized documentation.  From the time your accident occurs you must be vigilant in documenting every single issue surrounding the accident and your subsequent injuries. Have someone take photographs of your injuries and write down everything you could do prior to the accident but are now unable to do—whether temporarily or permanently. Keep every medical receipt including those for prescriptions, therapy, chiropractors—basically any and every receipt which has to do with your accident. A daily journal will help you remember details you might otherwise forget over time.

Never Miss Doctor’s Appointments

Even if you have a really good reason, missing a doctor’s appointment will give the impression that you are simply looking for an insurance handout rather than doing your best to heal. Be on time for your appointments and follow any advice given you by your physician.

Finally, hire an attorney at the earliest possible time. Trying to handle your motorcycle accident injury case is a huge mistake as most of these cases are practically impossible to navigate without legal assistance. The highly experienced motorcycle accident attorney will understand the particular mechanics of motorcycle operations as well as the dynamics of the accident. The aftermath of a motorcycle accident is difficult and anxiety-producing. Let a knowledgeable motorcycle attorney take some of the worry from you, allowing you to heal.

 

 

Side-Impact Car Accidents

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Automobile collisions are responsible for about three million injuries each year and over 43,000 fatalities. Of these crashes nearly 9,000—or approximately percent—are side-impact accidents. Side-impact accidents are also known as T-bone crashes by virtue of the fact that when one vehicle hits another on the side it resembles a “T.” The location of a side-impact automobile accident puts the driver and passengers at significant risk. The sides of cars generally have far fewer safety features than other parts of the car since few cars other than higher end models have side-impact airbags.  A front or back collision means there is several feet of metal and steel standing between a human being and the other car, but in a side collision there is little more than a door frame stopping the other vehicle from impacting with a person. In fact, this area has been dubbed the “crumple zone,” by experts who study car crashes. When a seat belt is properly worn it can certainly keep the body stationary but does not stop major injuries from occurring.

Typical Locations of Side-Impact Crashes

Most commonly a side-impact car crash will occur in an intersection. Quite often drivers see a yellow light and speed up in order to race through the stop light. A driver who is traveling through a green light can be broadsided in a mere instant with absolutely no way to avoid the accident. Children are the most vulnerable passengers in a side-impact car collision—even more so should they not be restrained in an approved child safety seat. In this instance a side-impact airbag could actually do more harm than good since airbags are designed to protect adults and can seriously injure a much smaller child. How severe the side-impact accident will be is also highly dependent on the relative height and weight of the vehicles involved. Imagine a truck or SUV which sits high off the ground hitting a low-to-the-ground sports car from the side. It is likely the driver of the sports car will sustain serious or even fatal head injuries.

Common Injuries from Side-Impact Crashes

Leg injuries are common in side-impact collisions, particularly when the impact occurs at the bottom of the car door, crushing the door inward. Leg lacerations, fractures or crushed bones are likely in this type of accident. In the same vein, hip injuries may be severe when the impact occurs in the middle of the door. A middle door impact can also lead to broken or crushed ribs and arm injuries or even severed limbs in high-speed crashes. The overall impact of the oncoming car striking the other on the side can lead to shoulder injuries that can include muscle tears, dislocation, broken shoulder bones or severe lacerations.

The back is likely to be injured in a side-impact collision with injuries ranging from a pinched nerve or slipped disc to a sprained or broken back. While whiplash injuries are more common in a rear-impact collision any time the neck is moved violently from one side to the next injuries such as whiplash or a strained, sprained or even broken neck can occur. Another downside to having a side airbag—although it could potentially save your life—is that, depending on the position of your head at the time of the crash—the airbag can hit the ear and head with considerable force. Loss of hearing, distortion of sounds and ringing of the ears can result. Head injuries which result from the head impacting with the side glass window can be severe—traumatic brain injuries often occur in side-impact car crashes.

Negligence as a Cause of Side-Impact Collisions

Negligent driving is one of the main factors in side-impact collisions. Because injuries to driver and passengers will likely be serious, it is crucial that a knowledgeable personal injury attorney be consulted who can ensure you achieve the best legal results possible. You could be entitled to medical expense compensation, lost wages and pain and suffering as well as for a partial, total or permanent disability.

 

 

Responsibility for a Trucking Accident

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Over the past twenty years, the number of trucking accidents has increased by over 20%. For those who are victims accidents involving large commercial trucks, the question liability is often much more complex than in an accident involving passenger vehicles only. Many more “players” exist in a trucking accident, and getting the necessary information can be very difficult. In fact, it is imperative that you have qualified legal assistance when attempting to determine the various relationships between the truck, the trailer, the load, the trucking company, the truck driver, the company who does maintenance on the truck, etc. A personal injury attorney who has had extensive experience in trucking accidents will be able to establish what type of claim works best in your specific circumstances and how your case will be best presented.

Was the Truck Driver Responsible?

In some cases when a trucking accident occurs, the person sitting behind the wheel of the large commercial truck was squarely to blame. The driver may have been distracted, exhausted from driving too many hours, inexperienced, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is a huge responsibility in driving a loaded truck which can weigh as much as 80,000 as well as required skills and training.  A truck driver who is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle will most often walk away from the accident relatively unscathed while the driver and passengers in the passenger vehicle will suffer death or grave injury.

Since a truck driver’s livelihood depends on getting the load delivered in the timeliest manner, it is common for truck driver’s to get behind the wheel when they desperately need rest. The trucking company is unlikely to prohibit this type of behavior since the faster loads are delivered the more money they make. Although federal mandates have gotten a bit stricter regarding the number of hours a truck driver can driver before he stops to rest, many drivers ignore these regulations. If the driver was at fault in your accident, then he should be held liable.

Was the Trucking Company Liable?

While some truck drivers are independent contractors, the vast majority work for trucking companies. In some cases the company can be held liable for accident leading to injuries and death. These companies bear responsibility for their employees, therefore if those employees are exhibiting negligent behaviors they could be held liable. Perhaps the trucking company failed to train their drivers sufficiently before they sent them out on the road or maybe the company failed to adequately maintain the truck involved in the accident. Brakes and tires particularly must undergo rigorous and regular maintenance in order to be considered road-safe. In some cases the trucking company may not have actually been negligent to still be held accountable for their employee.

Was There Product Liability Involved?

In some cases neither the truck driver nor the company he works for is responsible for the accident rather there was a defect in the truck itself due to the manufacturer. There are so many parts which go into a truck, and if any one of these parts has a flaw, then the safety of all those on the road is at risk. Brakes and the cargo strips which secure loads are two of the primary truck parts which can be defective, leading to serious or fatal accidents. Tires can also blow, which is why truck drivers must check all the truck’s tires each and every time they stop. The manufacturer of a part may be held liable if it can be proven the part was defective and led to the accident.

Is an Outside Company Liable?

In some instances trucking companies employ third-parties to load their trucks, secure the cargo or perform routine maintenance. If an accident occurs because one of these companies or entities was negligent in their duties, then a highly qualified personal injury attorney will be able to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve and need. Don’t wait, hoping everything will work out well, call an attorney as soon as you can.

Truck Transporting 25 Occupants Crashes – 13 Dead in Single Vehicle Crash

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A fatal pickup truck accident in Texas this weekend may be the most deadly single vehicle accident in history.  The pickup truck was transporting 25 people – ten squeezed into the cab of the pickup and 15 in the bed of the truck when it crashed into two trees.  An officer who investigated the F-250 truck crash has been an officer for 38 years and indicated that he had never seen a comparable motor vehicle accident with so many people piled into a single vehicle.  Thirteen of the vehicle occupants died in the collision while the rest of the vehicle occupants suffered injury.  According to media reports, law enforcement officers speculate that the pickup was transporting illegal immigrants, which is why so many people were crammed into the pickup truck.

This terrible tragedy serves as a grim reminder that the many safety features of a motor vehicle are meaningless in a collision if vehicle occupants decline to utilize them.  It is never advisable to pack more vehicle occupants into a car, truck or SUV than can be accommodated by vehicle seatbelts.  Seatbelts are 56 percent effective in preventing fatalities in collisions involving passenger cars.  They are even more effective in preventing fatal injury in vehicle collisions involving other types of vehicles like pickup trucks, vans and SUVs.

Seatbelt use also substantially reduces the risk of serious debilitating injuries by 53 percent.  Seatbelts keep vehicle occupants inside a motor vehicle during a collision where they can take advantage of the protective shell of the vehicle.  In addition to preventing vehicle ejections, seatbelts also reduce the risk of head trauma suffered when one’s head impacts a steering wheel, dashboard or other hard surface inside the vehicle.  Airbags also provide protection from blunt trauma impact and penetration from objects during a collision.

While this safety equipment provides protection from serious injury and wrongful death during a motor vehicle collision, these safety features are meaningless when a vehicle is overloaded beyond the capacity of safety equipment to protect vehicle occupants.  Riding in the back of a pickup truck is particularly dangerous because it is especially easy to be catapulted away from the vehicle and slam against the hard surface of the roadway.  The truck bed also provides no structural protection from the impact of a serious crash.  Although sitting in the bed of a truck can be fun and appealing to kids, you should never allow children to ride in the bed of a pickup even for a short distance or at low speeds on residential streets.

When motor vehicles are overloaded with passengers, the available safety options for vehicle occupants are reduced considerably.  The risk of catastrophic injury and wrongful death is always present when traveling in a motor vehicle, the danger increases exponentially when vehicle occupants overload a vehicle and ignore safety equipment. The experienced Mississippi motor vehicle accident attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing effective legal representation to Mississippi auto accident victims for over 75 years.  We provide careful investigation, thorough analysis of the law and facts and impassioned advocacy so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

 

NHTSA Reports Traffic Fatalities for First Quarter of 2012 Highest Level in Six Decades

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The news in recent year regarding Mississippi motor vehicle accidents rates has generally been positive with a steady decline annually in both fatality rates and the number of deaths per mile driven.  This downward trend is so positive that last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that traffic related fatalities had reached their lowest level in over sixty years.  Further, the fatality rate as also lower last year than at any time since 1921 when the number of miles driven was taken into consideration.

Sadly, despite these positive trends, the NHTSA is reporting an alarming turn of events based on data from the first quarter of 2012.  Auto accident rates during this period rose substantially which would constitute the most significant annual increase since data has been kept on accident fatalities by the government.

While the sudden spike in auto accident rates runs counter to a four year trend of declines, it may not be as troublesome as it first appears.  Some traffic safety experts have speculated that the increase is a product of an improving economy and mild weather.  While the economic recovery has been marginal, there is a general consensus that the situation is improved over last year.  A stronger economy usually results in more miles being driven because motorists are better able to afford discretionary expenditures.  The relatively mild winter also means that drivers tend to venture out more frequently.  This is particularly true of motorcyclists who face a higher risk of fatality when being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

While the combination of improved vehicle safety features, aggressive enforcement of DUI laws, anti-cell phone laws and other public education and law enforcement measures have made Mississippi roads safer, there is no way to compel indifferent or inconsiderate drivers to obey the speed limit, abstain from consuming drugs or alcohol prior to driving or putting down their cell phone if they have no regard for the consequences.

While our experienced Mississippi auto accident lawyers sincerely hope that this spike in auto accident rates is an anomaly, we also know that car accidents cannot be completely eliminated.  If you have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in a Mississippi auto accident, our experienced Mississippi auto accident lawyers fight diligently to recover the financial compensation injury victims need to move past their tragedy.  The experienced Mississippi motor vehicle accident attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing effective legal representation to Mississippi auto accident victims for over 75 years.  We provide careful investigation, thorough analysis of the law and facts and impassioned advocacy so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

Impact of Illicit Drug Use in Mississippi Motor Vehicle Accidents

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

While many people in Mississippi and across the U.S. are aware of the substantial reach and magnitude of the danger associated with drunk driving, but the majority of drivers in Mississippi do not realize the extent of the danger posed by drivers impaired by narcotics.  A study conducted by the federal government found that one in eight drivers stopped and drug tested while driving at night one weekends tested positive for some form of illicit drug.  There are many types of illegal narcotics that impair drivers including methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, opium, oxycodone, PCP and more.  When drivers attempt to navigate the roadways with illegal drugs in their bloodstream they are the equivalent of someone using a deadly weapon like a firearm when impaired by drugs.

Unfortunately, many drivers disregard the dangers of operating a motor vehicle when under the influence of illegal drugs.  These drugs can disrupt perception, promote sleepiness, adversely impact judgment, interfere with coordination and reflexes and promote an inflated sense of confidence in one’s driving ability.  When a car accident occurs involving a driver who is under the influence of drugs, the officer may administer field sobriety tests and a breath testing.  Because illicit drugs do not show up in a breath test, the police officer investigating the accident will typically conduct a blood test.  If a driver impaired by street drugs causes a serious auto accident resulting in serious personal injury including spinal cord damage causing paralysis, traumatic brain injury causing loss of cognitive functioning or amputation of limbs, the judge or jury will often award substantial punitive damages.

Although driving while under the influence of alcohol is a widely acknowledged and discussed dangerous driving practice, drivers that are stoned while driving receive a lot less attention.  While drug impaired drivers are less common, another reason that drugged driving receives less publicity is that it is much harder to prove.  Many times police officers do not even test for drugs in a driver’s system unless a motor vehicle accident occurs.

When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with a driver who engaged in erratic driving behavior before causing a collision, you should summon law enforcement to the scene of the motor vehicle accident.  Any erratic or unsafe driving that you observed prior to the collision should be clearly described to the police officer.  These statements provide additional evidence supporting the basis for the investigating officer to conduct a drug and alcohol screening.  Sometimes if the officer suspects that the driver was impaired by drugs a specially trained expert called a Drug Recognition Expert may be summoned to conduct tests and make observations to support expert testimony that the driver was drug impaired at the time of the collision.

If a driver who you suspect may be under the influence of illicit drugs injures you, you may have a right to pursue a claim for financial compensation against the other driver. The experienced Mississippi motor vehicle accident attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing effective representation to Mississippi motor vehicle accident victims for over 75 years.  We provide diligent legal representation and impassioned advocacy so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

 

Overview of Premises Liability in Mississippi

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Premises liability is the area of law that specifies the legal obligations of a property or premises owner to make hazards on one’s property safe or warn visitors of potential dangers.  Although Mississippi law does not make premises owners an insurer for the safety of those that come on their property, the law does impose an obligation to take reasonable remedial measures to protect visitors from dangerous conditions created by a property owner.  The scope and nature of this duty turns on the individual facts of a particular premises liability case.

At Barrett Law, our experienced premises liability attorneys provide effective legal representation to those injured on the premises of others particularly businesses and public entities that hold their property open to the public.  The vast array of types of premises liability cases are virtually limitless because there are many hazardous conditions that may cause serious injuries including the following:

  • Trip and falls on debris, trash and other clutter
  • Swimming pool accidents involving drowning and head injuries from diving accidents
  • Negligent security that permit visitors to become victims of physical or sexual assaults
  • Drain entrapment accidents
  • Slip and falls resulting from failure to clean liquids or foreign substances on flooring
  • Falls caused by broken steps and stairs with missing railings

These are just some of the types of incidents that may be the basis for a premises liability case in Mississippi.  Our experienced Mississippi premises liability attorneys understand that Mississippi premises liability cases require careful investigation, analysis and presentation of the facts to build a compelling case supporting the liability of a property owner.  Our Mississippi premises liability lawyers carefully analyze critical facts including:

  • The duration of time the hazard existed
  • Whether the hazard was caused by the property owner
  • Basis for actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard
  • Remedial measures taken by the owner of the premises to make the hazard safe
  • Reason for the injury victim’s presence on the premises
  • Maintenance and custodial procedures to discover and correct hazards

Because evidence can disappear and witness memories fade, our experienced Mississippi premises liability attorneys investigate these cases promptly.  Many times in premises liability cases the insurance carrier for the defendant will attempt to shift the blame for the accident to the injury victim.  We fight tenaciously to make sure that property owners that do not take reasonable precautions to protect injury victims are held accountable for their lack of care.  If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury or a loved one has died because of a hazard on the property of another, we may be able to help.  We have over 75 years of experience representing personal injury victims in Mississippi so call us today at (662) 834-2376 for a free case evaluation.

Criminalization of Distracted Driving Can Benefit Mississippi Personal Injury Victims

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Distracted driving in its many forms poses one of the greatest motor vehicle safety risks to those on Mississippi roads.  Drivers who are using a cell phone, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, reading or otherwise not focusing their full attention on traffic and the roadway cause many accidents.  In a typical year, distracted drivers cause over 410,000 injuries and almost 3,100 fatalities according to the Department of Transportation website “Distraction.com.”  Because of the alarming number of families who have their lives turned upside down by drivers who are not focused on driving, distracted driving may become a basis for imposing criminal liability on drivers.

A Massachusetts driver was recently convicted for motor vehicle homicide and a slew of other crimes related to a car accident caused by the driver who was engaged in text messaging at the time of the collision.  The accident resulted in the death of a father of two small children and injury to two others.  The district attorney in the case provided cell phone records for the teen driver, which revealed that the seventeen year old driver sent over 190 text messages the day of the fatal car accident.  Some of the texts were sent immediately before the accident and dozens after the collision.  The teen driver was sentenced to a year of jail time along with other penalties.

Most states including Mississippi have laws that impose criminal liability on drivers who engage in unsafe driving practices that result in serious injury or wrongful death.  It is reasonable to presume that Mississippi prosecutors and those in other states may also start to pursue criminal charges against distracted drivers who cause car accidents resulting in personal injury or wrongful death because they are using a cell phone while driving.  This criminalization of distracted driving particularly involving cell phone use seems appropriate given that the scope and the danger associated with texting and talking on a cell phone while driving is similar to DUI/DWI.

There may be significant advantages for car accident victims injured by distracted drivers if prosecutors pursue criminal liability for drivers that are texting or calling on a cell phone when they are involved in a collision.  For example, personal injury and wrongful death injury victims may be able to use the doctrine of negligence per se when the ban on text messaging is violated.  Negligence per se essentially provides that someone who violates a public safety law may be held strictly liable for any injuries caused by the driver’s violation.  Because bans on text messaging are designed to protect other drivers, passengers and pedestrians, a violation of a law prohibiting texting and driving may facilitate proving liability in a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence per se.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a Mississippi auto accident involving a distracted driver using a cell phone our experienced Mississippi distracted driving auto accident attorneys can analyze your case and advise you of your rights.  If you or a loved one has been injured or you have lost a loved one in a Mississippi car accident, our experienced Mississippi car accident attorneys at Barrett Law represent clients throughout Mississippi so call us today for a free no obligation initial case evaluation at (662) 834-2376.  Our law firm has roots that reach back over 75 years helping car accident victims in Mississippi just like you.