Archive for December, 2012

Pediatric Injuries Can Be Prevented in Mississippi Car Accidents

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

As an experienced Mississippi auto accident attorney, it is always devastating to hear about a child that has either been injured or killed in a car accident.  However, it is even more troubling to learn that the child was not properly secured in his or her car or booster seat at the time of an accident.  Surprisingly, thousands of people across the U.S. fail to check that their children are properly secured in their seats while driving.   As a result, numerous children suffer the consequences of parents who neglect to take a few extra minutes to ensure that their children are safe.  For two parents in Mississippi, this situation has become an unfortunately reality.

In Eastern Mississippi, five young children, including an 18-month year old, and an adult passenger were recently killed when their SUV veered off of a rural road and landed in a creek.  The parents of the children managed to survive the crash however, they were treated for water inhalation and hypothermia.  Accident investigators revealed that none of the children were wearing their seatbelts during the accident.  Despite the mother’s claim that the 18-month year old was properly secured in his child seat, rescuers did not find the child’s body in his seat while investigating the scene.  Although this tragedy has deeply devastated the children’s parents as well as the local community, there are several safety lessons that can be learned from this incident.   These are as follows:

  1. Always secure your child in his or her seat, regardless of the circumstances.  Meaning, most accidents occur close to home and as a result, it is not surprising that some people compromise their children’s safety simply because they do not expect to be involved in an accident.   In other words, the short distance of your trip should never influence you to neglect you and your children’s safety.  Always check that your children are properly secured at all times.   Whether you are traveling one mile or one thousand, taking the above step will save lives.
  2. Review your car seat manufacturer’s instructions.   Be sure to review all of the car seat’s instructions before installing the device.  By failing to take one single step, you are putting your children’s lives at risk.
  3. Do not allow your children to remove themselves from their car or booster seat.  Children often become cranky, especially during extended car trips.  Regardless of how much they fuss, do not remove them from their seats or allow them to remove themselves.  Explain to them how important their safety is while riding as a passenger in a car.
  4. Contact your local police or fire department for help.  Oftentimes, police officers and/or local fire departments are available to review whether your car seat was properly installed or to assist you during the installation process.  Give them a call to find out whether they can evaluate your car seat and make sure that it is safe.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident in Mississippi, contact our office today to find out more about our superior personal injury services.  Our experienced attorneys will evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  Moreover, we will also take the time necessary to answer all of your questions and keep you well informed during the pendency of your case.

Helmets Prevent Bicycle Related Injuries in Mississippi

Monday, December 24th, 2012

One of the best pieces of advice that our Mississippi bicycle accident attorneys can offer to bicyclists is to always wear a helmet. Unfortunately, the failure to wear a helmet substantially increases a bicyclist’s chances of suffering from traumatic brain injuries and other serious and sometimes fatal conditions. Oftentimes, we notice bicyclists frequenting the many gorgeous areas of our State who consistently ignore this advice, putting themselves at risk for severe injury and even death. It often makes us wonder why these people continue to risk their lives by not taking such a simple step to ensure their safety.

A poll conducted by the British Medical Journal clarifies our uncertainty in this regard. Specifically, the poll established that most individuals believe state mandated helmet laws are overly paternalistic and as a result, discouraging to cyclists. Otherwise stated, laws that require people to take safety measures often backfire and encourage them to do just the opposite. In this view, the poll found that over 65% of individuals who participated in the evaluation reported that they greatly oppose mandatory helmet laws. Moreover, the majority of these individuals felt that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that wearing a helmet significantly protects bicyclists from sustaining injuries should they be involved in an accident. Specifically, those polled believe that mandatory bike helmet laws wrongfully give the impression that biking is an abnormally dangerous activity. Accordingly, they feel that it greatly discourages people from engaging in this extremely healthy activity.

While the above mentioned poll may be meritorious to some degree or another, our experienced Mississippi bicycle accident attorneys cannot underscore the importance of wearing a helmet. Contrary to the belief of many of the majority of those polled, bicycling is in fact a highly dangerous activity and leads to serious and sometimes fatal injuries across the State of Mississippi and nationwide. While many streets are designed to accommodate bicyclists, they nonetheless face the threat of drivers who often have difficulty seeing them. Other bicycle accidents are caused by intoxicated and distracted drivers who are impaired to the point where they are not able to anticipate bicyclists on the road. Moreover, it goes without saying that for any bicycle accident involving an automobile or truck, wearing a helmet likely saved lives.

For more information, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today to learn more about your legal options. We will take the time to evaluate your case and help maximize your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We look forward to providing you with excellent representation.

 

How to Avoid Fatal Car Accidents in Mississippi

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

For over the past decade, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of fatal car accidents across the State of Mississippi.  According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, in 2000, 941 people sustained fatal injuries in vehicle accidents across the State, whereas in 2010, only 641 were killed.  Overall, between 2009 (with 700 fatalities) and 2010, there has been an 8.4% decrease in the number of accidents involving death in Mississippi. While these numbers are promising, they still represent an excessively large amount of unnecessary and perhaps preventable accidents.   Otherwise stated, Mississippi continues to maintain its reputation as having some of the most dangerous roads in the country.

There are several reasons why an overwhelming number of fatal accidents continue to occur on a yearly basis in Mississippi. Specifically, the State is crisscrossed by various busy roads and interstate highways that are frequented by thousands of cars, trucks and motorcycles on a daily basis.  Hence, it is not surprising that the majority of fatal car accidents in Mississippi occur on roadway departures, which is a crash that occurs when a car crosses the edge or centerline of a roadway.  Regardless of the cause of a crash, there are certain things you can do to prevent accidents.  Although not every collision can be avoided, the following are some safety tips you should consider to maximize your safety while driving:

  1. Do not speed.  As simple as this may sound, speeding is one of the main reasons why accidents turn deadly in Mississippi.  As tempting as it may be, follow the speed limit, as it could mean the difference between life and death.
  2. Always maintain your car, vehicle or truck.  Many car accidents are caused by the failure of a driver to keep his or her vehicle in good repair.  For example, tire blowouts on trucks, which often result in fatal injuries, could have been avoided had the driver checked his or her tire pressure before departing.
  3. Do not drink and drive.  Do the smart thing and have someone else drive you home should you drink too much.  If you must drive, it is always a good idea to avoid drinking before getting behind the wheel or waiting a while to take off in the event you have had a few drinks.  Moreover, you can also call a taxi or take a bus to avoid the inherent risks associated with driving while impaired.
  4. Do not text and drive.   Driving while “distracticated” has become a serious issue across the U.S. and accounts for at least 25% of accidents nationwide.  This amounts to over 2,500 deaths and more than 250,000 injuries each year to drivers across the country.

For more information, contact us today to learn more about your legal options.  We will take the time necessary to investigate the facts of your case and keep you well informed during your case.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Trucking Accidents are Often Caused by Defective Roadways in Mississippi

Monday, December 17th, 2012

On a daily basis, trucks of all shapes and sizes frequent the many interstates crisscrossing the State of Mississippi to transport goods throughout the U.S.  As a result, it is not surprising to learn that trucking accidents within Mississippi and across the country are increasingly on the rise.  In fact, nationwide statistics provide that there were over 500,000 trucking accidents in the U.S. last year, the majority of which were caused by driver negligence.  However, a growing number of accidents unfortunately stem from poorly designed and maintained roads.

With regard to poor road design, it can expose truckers to a litany of unnecessarily dangerous hazardous. The following are a number of examples of improperly designed roads, such as:

  1. Improper road lighting
  2. Use of road materials that cannot withstand normal wear and tear
  3. Little to no shoulder lanes
  4. A lack of guardrails or medians
  5. Use of road materials that become unreasonably dangerous during bad weather
  6. Roads with confusing lanes

In addition to hazardous conditions caused by defectively designed roads, the failure to keep roads in proper repair can also result in serious trucking accidents.  Examples of poorly maintained roads include:

  1. The presence of potholes
  2. Road signage that is blocked by overgrown vegetation
  3. Improperly manicured vegetation along the side of a road
  4. The regular failure of a municipality to clear ice and snow

Overall, it is important to understand that pursuing a legal claim for improperly designed and ill maintained roads can be extremely challenging since most roads and highways are publically owned and managed.  In other words, the proper party who must be sued over contributing to and/or creating hazardous road conditions is usually a governmental entity.  Unlike private parties to a lawsuit, a government entity can raise an immunity defense, which is an exemption to liability when a suit is brought against it without its prior consent.  This is typically asserted by government actors when faced with a lawsuit stemming from an alleged lack of road maintenance or inadequate roadway design.

When bringing forth a personal injury claim against a government entity, is crucial that you consult with a Mississippi accident attorney experienced in handling these types of complex claims and also, in circumventing the governmental immunity defense. We all have the right to drive on safe roads, and governments that fail to ensure public safety in this regard should be held responsible for compensating its victims.

In light of the above, we encourage you to contact our seasoned Mississippi personal injury attorneys to find out more about your legal options and how to maximize your chances of obtaining the compensation that you deserve.  We look forward to providing you with excellent legal representation.

Christmas Day Crash Kills Baldwyn Woman

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

A Christmas Day crash claimed the life of a Baldwyn woman, according to a news report. Amanda Autrey, 25, sustained life-threatening injuries around noon December 25, 2012. She was a passenger in a pickup-truck that hydroplaned while traveling along Mississippi 245, overturning near Shannon.

At 2:30 pm, Amanda Autrey was pronounced dead at North Mississippi Medical Center.

Timothy Autrey, driver of the pickup-truck, was ejected from the vehicle, sustaining minor injuries in the crash. Amanda Autrey, a passenger, was trapped inside the crashed vehicle. Neither Timothy Autrey, nor his wife, were wearing seatbelts when the accident occurred.

The crash remains under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Sadly, when you lose a loved one in an automobile accident, insurance claims adjustors knowingly intrude on your grief, counting on your vulnerability to bully you into settling an insurance claim immediately – before you’ve had the opportunity to discuss the matter with your attorney. They do this to usurp a wrongful death or personal injury claim that you may be entitled to which, in most cases, has a substantially larger award value than the settlement the insurance adjustor is offering you.

Before you sign-off on any insurance company paperwork, ask your attorney to review the documents. This would be a good time to discuss the alternative option of filing a wrongful death or personal injury claim seeking compensatory damages to cover funeral and burial expenses, medical costs, and lost income. Depending upon the circumstances of the automobile accident that took the live of your loved one, you may additionally wish to seek an award of punitive damages. Seeking damages is especially important in terms of future economic support if, for example, the decedent left children behind who depended upon his (or her) income for support.

If you don’t already have an attorney, several attorney referral services are available through your local bar association or online. It’s important to find an attorney who is both experienced and reputable, and specializes in wrongful death and personal injury law. Your attorney is an advocate who represents your interests, files a claim on your behalf, and brings you the compensation you deserve.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, make an appointment with one of our attorneys by calling (800) 707-9577.

Mississippi State Student Dies, Five Injured

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Six-people were ejected from a 2006 Ford F-150 in an early morning crash that resulted in the death of a student at Mississippi State, according to a news report. Rachel Hillman, 20, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Tyler Renicker, 22, when Renicker lost control while traveling eastbound along Route 22, flipping the truck, ejecting all-five occupants from inside the vehicle. The crash occurred at approximately 3:30 am on December 27, 2012 in Yazoo County near Flora.

Hillman was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Renicker was reportedly was injured critically in the crash. Four surviving passengers, Trainor Storey, 19, Kaysie Bennett, 19, Anna Flowers, 18, and Steven Cumberland, 18, are reportedly in stable condition. None of the vehicle’s occupants were wearing seatbelts.

Tri County Academy was alma mater to each of the six accident victims, all of whom hail from Flora. Three of the injured, Renicker, Bennett, and Cumberland, are reportedly students enrolled at Holmes Community College. Mississippi Highway Patrol continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

The phone call parents never want to receive unfortunately does happen. If you, or a loved one, have sustained injuries as a result of an automobile accident, contact an experienced attorney as soon as you are able. Insurance company claims adjustors approach accident victims immediately following a crash in an attempt to coerce victims to settle their claims knowing the amount they’re offering is well below the value of damages award likely to result from the filing of court claims.

Insurance claims adjustors may appear to be your friend, but their job is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line by low-balling you with a settlement offer. If you sign-off on the insurance settlement, you are not entitled to make any additional claim. That’s a problem if your injuries require ongoing or long-term medical care.

A reputable attorney specializing in personal injury and wrongful death law files your claims and provides legal counsel throughout your lawsuit. Your attorney also understands that your injuries aren’t just legal paperwork, but have created physical difficulties and financial hardships for you and your family. Don’t sell yourself short to insurance company settlement enticement.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, make an appointment with one of our attorneys by calling (800) 707-9577.

Statute of Limitations in Mississippi Automobile Accidents

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A statute of limitations dictates the time limit for filing a legal claim with the courts. Filing limitations are applicable to both criminal and civil law matters. With respect to automobile accidents, the civil statute of limitations starts running from the day the accident occurred or the day you became aware of an injury (e.g., the date of a doctor’s diagnosis). Filing a lawsuit relating to an automobile accident should be done as soon as possible following your accident, in order to preserve evidence needed to prove your claim.

Mississippi imposes a three-year statute of limitations for the following civil damages claims under Mississippi Code Annotated § 15-1-49 (2012):

  • Personal injury
  • Products liability
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death

The purpose of statutes of limitations is to prevent stale or fraudulent claims by establishing a reasonable deadline for filing a legal claim (and, thereby, resolving the legal claim). The idea is to keep evidentiary matters, such as testimonial details respective to a car accident, fresh and relevant in terms of litigation. Witnesses, memory, and tangible evidence disappear as time passes.

Expediting the filing of your claims is important to you, because it gets the legal wheels turning on damages awards to hasten the economic relief available to you to compensate for lost wages and medical bills.

Once you, or your loved one, have secured medical treatment for injuries sustained in an automobile accident and are able, the next order of business should be contacting an experienced attorney specializing in automobile accident matters. The preservation of evidence needs to begin immediately following your injury, and your attorney can handle this in conjunction with his (or her) investigation into the accident on your behalf. Your attorney also takes statements, which is important later because this information helps you recall details of the accident that caused your injuries. In the course of the investigation, your attorney gathers medical reports and bills, photographs the vehicles and location involved in the collision, and interviews witnesses. Your attorney also ascertains compliance with Mississippi’s statute of limitations, ensuring that your personal injury or wrongful death claim is filed in a timely manner.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, make an appointment with one of our attorneys by calling (800) 707-9577.

Compensatory Damages Versus Punitive Damages in Mississippi

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Mississippi law allows victims and survivors to seek compensatory and, oftentimes, punitive damages when the legal standard of negligence is met. When another person harms you as the result of a car accident or another negligent action causing personal injury or death to you or a member of your family, you have the right to sue the negligent party for damages. Damages is generally considered a quantifiable monetary award paid to victims pursuant to judgment of the court (or a settlement agreement authorized by the court).

Within the context of personal injury law, damages are either compensatory or punitive:

  • Compensatory damages — Reimbursable expenses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and subjective considerations, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish are compensable.  In Mississippi, damages for personal injury are sought by petitioning a state court for compensatory damages under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-69 or, in the case of wrongful death, Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13.
  • Punitive damages – The courts have the discretion of ordering punitive damages as a matter of civil punishment and to deter similar behaviors in the future. Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-65 must be included in the petition if you wish to seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

Simply put, criminal restitution is to civil compensatory damages, what a criminal fine or incarceration is to civil punitive damages. The former reimburses, the latter punishes.  Mississippi law has placed statutory caps on punitive damages and limits who is eligible to file for compensatory damages (e.g., certain family members may file on behalf of a minor child, incapacitated party, or decedent).

Contributory negligence is also applicable within the context of damages for personal injuries and/or wrongful death, which occurs when the victim is at least partially responsible for the cause of his (or her) own injuries. Mississippi Code Annotated § 11-7-15 does not bar recovery of a damages award due to contributory negligence, although an award can be reduced. The reduction is based upon a formula which assigns percentages of responsibility to each party – the plaintiff and the respondent.

Impact of a Mississippi Car Accident Can Last Lifetime

Friday, December 7th, 2012

An automobile accident occurs in a split-second, but the impact can last a lifetime. The resulting injuries too often necessitate changes in lifestyle or cause strife in relationships.  The dad who used to throw the football around with his kids is suddenly unable to care for himself – let alone enjoy the simple pleasures of parenting. In other words, there’s nothing frivolous about seeking compensation for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Although impossible to reposition the lives of you and your family to exactly the way it was pre-accident, a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages makes it possible for you and your loved ones to garner the financial resources to create a brighter future.

The word “injury” is frequently tossed around and can be misleading, sometimes making the average onlooker perceive a compensable injury as inconsequential – like a hang-nail. The reality is that auto accident injuries can be quite severe, often resulting in chronic pain, permanent disability, or even death. Victims who seek a judicial remedy for their injuries, pain, and suffering are quite deserving of the awards allowed under the law and more.

Among the injuries that can result from a car accident are:

  • Broken bones
  • Concussion
  • Contusions
  • Disfigurement
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Internal organ damage
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of sensory function
  • Loss of limbs
  • Spinal injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wrongful death

If you and your family are dealing with the immediate aftermath of car accident injuries, you understand the high-level of specialized medical care your loved-one-suddenly-turned-patient now requires. Some car accident victims require long-term care that families are generally not equipped to handle.  Medical care – especially long-term care – although necessary, is bank-breakingly expensive. Most families simply don’t have the resources lying around.

When faced with the adversity of automobile accident injuries, always contact a reputable attorney as soon as possible to discuss your circumstance before agreeing to sign-off on an insurance settlement. Hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your personal injury claim under Mississippi Code Annotated § 85-5-7 (2012) can bring you peace of mind and the compensation you deserve.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, make an appointment with one of our Mississippi attorneys by calling (800) 707-9577.

Defensive Driving Helps Minimize Automobile Accidents in Mississippi

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Automobile accidents can happen to even the most careful and skilled drivers. From fender-benders to catastrophic-crashes, defensive driving is a must – something law-abiding citizens know quite well. Injuries frequently result despite the use of airbags, seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, or other safety devices. Preventing automobile accidents directly contributes to reducing crash-related injuries and deaths.

Among the most common causes of roadway crashes are:

  • Aggressive drivers – These are drivers who develop “road rage” and fail to exercise due discretion, endangering the traveling public with reckless driving.
  • Defective equipment – Drivers who fail to properly maintain their vehicles are a roadway hazard waiting to happen when a bald-tire blows or a muffler drops-off in the middle of an Interstate, sending debris in the direction of other motorists.
  • Distracted driving – Drivers focused on activities other than driving, such as talking on cell phones, texting, conversing with passengers, eating, reading, and operating CD players or navigation devices pose a huge risk to the traveling public.
  • Impaired driving – Drivers under the influence of over-the-counter, prescription, or illicit drugs or an intoxicating beverage are a risk to other motorists because they lack the coordination to drive safely.
  • Medical conditions – Drivers who become incapacitated due to heart attacks, seizures, diabetic complications, and other medical conditions endanger the traveling public.
  • Risky behaviors – Drivers exhibiting risk-taking behaviors, such as cutting off other drivers, slowing-down then speeding-up, improper lane changes, cutting-off other vehicles, or making illegal turns.
  • Senior drivers – Many senior drivers exhibit slowed response times prevent them from driving defensively or exercising due discretion toward fellow motorists.
  • Speeding – Driving in excess of the speed limit or too fast for road conditions poses a safety hazard to every driver and passenger on a thoroughfare.
  • Teen drivers – Inexperience, distraction, and unpredictability are risk factors inherent to teenaged driving that place all motorists in peril.

Several states require drivers’ education courses for motorists who have been prosecuted for driving-related offenses. The National Safety Council, a not-for-profit organization, offers a course in defensive driving online and certification (for a fee) for any driver who wants to strategically improve his (or her) defensive driving knowledge (and possible reduce insurance premiums), such as how to minimize costs associated with automobile accidents, how to reduce the incidence of injuries and fatalities, and reinforces good driving skills.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, make an appointment with one of our Mississippi attorneys by calling (800) 707-9577.