Archive for January, 2016

Tragic Bicycle Accidents Reminder of Danger to Mississippi Cyclists

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Mississippi’s Natchez Trace has emerged as one of the most popular locations for recreational cycling.  The area provides hundreds of miles of picturesque scenery and well-maintained asphalt.  Bikers across the U.S. enjoy exploring this stretch of federal park land.  However, caution and prudence are important when navigating “The Trace” by bicycle.  The distraction of scenic vistas along with a narrow roadway constitute a potentially deadly combination of risk factors.  Distracted drivers of car, trucks, and SUVs who are distracted by the scenic views can present an extremely serious hazard for bicyclists.  Natchez Trace has been the scene of injuries and deaths for a number of cyclists.

Hundreds of bicyclists are killed annually in the U.S. in bicycle collisions, and tens of thousands more suffer injury in bicycle crashes.  While only about a third of all bicycle accidents involve a collision with a motor vehicle, these types of bicycle accidents account for the vast majority or catastrophic cycling injuries and wrongful deaths.  Tragically, almost half of those who suffer serious injury or wrongful death in bicycle accidents are children under the age of 16.

Bicyclists often are injured even when in protected areas like bicycle lanes by drivers who do not respect a cyclist right to share Mississippi roadways.  There are a wide variety of factors that contribute to a typical bicycle accident, including but not limited to the following:

  • Inattentive Motorists: Drivers who are not focused on the road because they are engaged in other activities, including using a cell phone, talking with vehicle passengers, or other distracted driving practices.  Inattentive drivers are a leading cause of motor vehicle collisions with bicycles.
  • Drunk Drivers: Driver who are impaired by drugs or alcohol also constitute a common cause of many types of motor vehicle accidents that include crashes involving bicycles.  Drivers who are intoxicated experience impaired judgement, poor reaction time, slow braking response, and distorted perception, which often causes bicycle accidents.
  • Dangerous Roadways: Frequently, roadways are constructed or maintained in a fashion that makes them unsafe, such as: traffic signal malfunctions, overgrown foliage obscuring visibility, potholes, or uneven pavement that disrupts balance.
  • Motorists Violating Traffic Safety Laws: Many drivers simply refuse to obey traffic safety laws that are designed to keep our roadways safe for cyclists.  Drivers who are speeding or fail to respect traffic signals frequently put cyclists at risk of serious injury.

Mississippi bicycle accident victims tend to suffer serious injuries, including head injuries, spinal injuries, broken bones or fractures, and internal organ damage.  These injures are often debilitating and frequently result in disability from work as well as permanent loss of mental or physical functioning.  Cyclist that experience head injuries account for the majority of catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths.  This means that wearing a helmet when bicycling in The Trace, Jackson or elsewhere throughout Mississippi is imperative.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident in Mississippi, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries.  The Mississippi Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law, PLLC are committed to helping bicycle accident victims accidents by handling insurance headaches and legal issues.  We tenaciously pursue financial compensation for our clients, so contact us today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation. 

Ten Important Questions from Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Claimants

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Our Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Attorneys at Barrett Law, PLLC receive certain questions from employees injured on-the-job on a frequent basis.  Many of these inquiries are a product of the complex and difficult process of pursuing a valid claim.  While the best legal advice about worker’s compensation issues can be obtained by talking with an experienced work-related injury attorney, we have provided answers in this two-part blog to ten of the most common questions we hear for injured workers looking for general information.  If you have further questions or concerns, we invite you to contact us to schedule a free consultation.

What is the worker’s compensation system?

The worker’s comp system furnishes injured workers with benefits through a no-fault insurance plan that most insurers in Mississippi are required to carry.  The objective of this system is to make access to certain benefits available to workers who suffer an injury or occupational illness in the workplace without the delay and complexities of civil litigation.  Companies required under Mississippi law to obtain worker’s compensation coverage (or to self-insure) will have insurance to compensate injured employees with wage loss and medical benefits.  This method of compensating injured workers eliminates the need of a claimant to prove negligence by the employer.  However, the benefits paid pursuant to a worker’s compensation claim will constitute an exclusive remedy against an employer in most cases.

What benefits can an injured worker pursue through a claim?

The two most important forms of benefits that an employee can qualify to receive include wage loss and medical benefits.  If an employee suffers temporary disability from employment, the worker can receive up to two-thirds of his or her weekly income.  However, the amount of money received is subject to certain caps.  These payments, which continue during the course of treatment and until the claimant can return to work, are referred to as “temporary disability payments.”  At some point, the treating physician will determine that the worker has reached a point of maximum improvement.  If the employee has a permanent disability or handicap, he or she can qualify for further wage benefits referred to as “permanent disability payments.”

The other key form of benefits available through the worker’s compensation system are medical benefits.  An injured worker is entitled to obtain medical care and services that are necessary and reasonable until the claimant reaches the point of maximum recovery.  The coverage extends to a broad range of health care services, such as doctor’s appointments, medications, travel reimbursement for appointments/medical procedures, nursing services, physical therapy, medical devices/apparatus, and other needed medical services.  Depending on the circumstances, the claimant also might be eligible for certain rehabilitation services to facilitate the worker’s ability to re-enter the job market.

Who is covered under the worker’s compensation system in Mississippi?

An employer with five or more regularly employed workers is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance or to self-insure.  Some employers with fewer than five workers voluntarily obtain coverage.  Certain companies are exempt from the requirements of Mississippi worker’s compensation laws, including charitable, fraternal, non-profit, or religious organizations.  Agricultural and domestic workers also fall outside the scope of the worker’s compensation system.  Individuals employed by the federal government and certain other workers are not covered, so an employee who suffers a workplace injury or occupational illness should seek legal advice from an experienced Jackson worker’s compensation lawyer if he or she has any uncertainty about coverage.

Workers need to be aware of an important and sizeable exception to worker’s compensation that applies to independent contractors.  Benefits eligibility depends on the employee status of a claimant.  Employers often mischaracterize workers as independent contractors to avoid certain expenses, such as worker’s compensation insurance.  Fortunately, the existence of an independent contractor relationship is not controlled by the designation made by an employer or an agreement between the parties.  Our law firm investigates the extent of the control exercised by a company over the employee to expose attempts to obscure the existence of an employment relationship.

Our Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Lawyers at Barrett Law, PLLC have successfully represented many injured employees in obtaining worker’s compensation benefits and damages in third-party lawsuits.  At Barrett Law, we are here to help.  Contact our firm today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.

 

 

Mississippi Trucking Accidents Caused by Air Brake Failure

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Defects and malfunctions are a factor in close to five percent of all fatal crashes involving tractor-trailers.  While there are many vehicle-related issues that can contribute to a trucking accident, unsafe brakes constitute one of the most dangerous types of malfunction that can cause a large truck to collide with other vehicles.

Since semi-trucks are much heavier than passenger cars, vans, and pickups, truck drivers require a much longer time to stop when confronted with a road hazard.  Because of their size and weight, large trucks are equipped with a different type of braking system than passenger cars.  Generally, large trucks come equipped with compressed air brake systems whereas passenger cars rely on hydraulic brake systems.

A compressed brake system is comprised of several components, including an air compressor driven by the engine, control panels, a compressed air storage tank, services brakes, and parking brakes.  When a truck driver pushes down on the brake pedal, pressure is generated and propelled into the brake chamber.  The air slows the rotation speed of the wheels of the tractor-trailer.  Although this type of braking system is more efficient at reducing the speed of heavier vehicles, air brake systems can fail without adequate and timely maintenance.  When air brakes on a large truck fail, the prospect of an 80,000 pound vehicle streaking down the highway out-of-control can be a terrifying sight.

The vast majority of tractor-trailers are equipped with a backup braking system designed to avert collisions when a big-rig cannot stop or slow properly.  Despite this form of redundancy and the general reliability of air brake systems, trucking accidents involving brake failure cause a significant number of motor vehicle accidents.  In most instances, the brakes fail on a large truck because the operator’s driving places too much stress on the brakes, or the driver fails to properly engage the braking system.

Even when problems exist with the air brake system, the brakes offer some resistance which allows the truck driver to gradually bring the vehicle to a stop.  However, mechanical or maintenance issues can interfere with the efficient functioning of the brakes.  If these problems are not detected and rectified prior to leaving on a route, minor errors by the driver can exacerbated stress on the brake system when an emergency occurs.

Commercial drivers need to anticipate that air brakes and backup brake systems will not functioning at full capacity all the time.  Drivers can reduce the risk of a trucking accident if they reduce the amount of stress and wear on the braking system by avoiding riding on the brakes on sharp inclines or stopping short.  Safe driving practices can prevent situations that necessitate placing excessive stress on the brakes, such as traveling at a safe speed, observing a proper following distance, and anticipating potential road hazards that necessitate slamming on the brakes.

Brake sensitivity also commonly is a factor in many large-truck crashes, particularly when drivers use too much force engaging the brakes.  This mistake is common among less experienced drivers who utilize excess pressure when activating the brakes.  When novice drivers must navigate wet and slippery Mississippi roadways, the risk of a jackknife accident caused by applying the brakes too quickly and rapidly increases significantly.

If you or your loved one is injured in a commercial trucking accident, you are invited to contact the experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Barrett Law to learn how we can help.  Our tractor-trailer accident lawyers have been representing accident victims throughout Mississippi for over 75 years.  We offer personalized legal representation and zealous advocacy.  We provide a free initial case evaluation so call us today at (800) 707-9577.  No Recovery No Fee!

Federal Court Forces Business to Pay Restitution of Claim Recovery to BP

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

While this blog discusses a multitude of issues regarding the right of businesses to damages resulting from economic loss associated with the BP Gulf Oil Spill in 2010, businesses also need to be aware that illegitimate claims can have serious adverse consequences.  When a fraudulent claim is asserted, the potential exists for both criminal and civil penalties.  The most common form of fraudulent claim in this context involves misrepresentation of the revenue generated by a business prior to and after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

A federal judge has required Vision Design Management, which is a small family business, to pay restitution in the amount of $2.1 million in claim money.  The business filed a claim with the BP settlement fund based on a purported gross income of $821,462 approximately one year prior to the ecological and economic disaster.  However, evidence presented in support of a motion for return of the money which was filed by an oil spill claims administrator for BP revealed that the claim was “nearly entirely based on fraud” according to the judge.

The Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center contended that the money represented as income by the consulting business that made the claim was not income at all.  The judge found the evidence established that $773,000 of the purported income for the business was provided as part of a construction loan borrowed by another business owned by the claimants.  According to the court, the funds were not income but rather a “pass through” of payments for the affiliated company’s construction project.

Based on this analysis of the claimed revenue lost by Vision Design Management, the court found that the entire amount of the company’s claim had to be returned.  The court pointed out that 92 percent of the alleged revenue was a fiction, so full restitution of the amount received in settlement needed to be disgorged from the consulting business.

Despite these findings, the small business owners maintained that their losses were genuine.  The husband member of the husband-wife ownership team indicated that “Vision Design Management was formed in 2007 and was profitable, and [we] worked very hard to make a good business.  The oil spill stopped it!”

The massive BP oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 caused 11 deaths and catastrophic economic and environmental damage.  The spill sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf for months.  The economic toll exacted by this tragedy adversely impacted the business earnings of many companies throughout the gulf-states region.  While businesses that had their revenue adversely affected by the BP ecological disaster can submit claims for compensation, this case demonstrates the importance of legal representation to ensure your financial information is persuasive.  Although the settlement fund is designed to reimburse those harmed by the spill, claims often are met with denials.

Our Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys recognize the enormous financial impact of this tragedy, and we are committed to pursuing the fullest compensation for our clients.  At Barrett Law, PLLC, we are here to help.  Contact our firm today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.

 

 

 

Protecting Your Mississippi Auto Accident Claim: Tricks Used by Insurance Adjusters

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

After a Mississippi automobile accident, an insurance claims adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company may contact you on behalf of the other driver.  The adjuster might request that you provide a recorded statement or ask you to sign a release authorizing the disclosure of your medical or employment records. The adjuster will justify such requests by telling you that the information is needed to evaluate your claim. The adjuster may even offer you what the insurance company claims is a “fair settlement.”

 

Car accident injury victims should never agree to anything an insurance adjuster offers without first obtaining legal advice.  It also is not advisable to give the insurance company access to any of your private information without consulting an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney.  The adjuster may seem friendly and appear to be trying to help you resolve your claim.  However, the insurance adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money by finding a basis to deny your claim or to settle the claim for far less than its actual value.  Insurance adjusters routinely make lowball offers to increase insurance company profits.

The average Mississippi auto accident victim typically will not know how to accurately value an auto collision claim without legal advice from an attorney.  The insurance adjuster recognizes that knowledge is power.  It is very common for an insurance company to extend a lowball settlement offer if the liability of its policyholder is clear, and it’s obvious that you suffered injury.

The insurance adjuster will try to settle the claim before you have a chance to have an attorney evaluate the claim and provide an accurate estimate of potential damages, especially those that are hard for the average layperson to quantify, such as pain and suffering, diminished enjoyment of life, and permanent disability.  The adjuster also knows that some injuries do not immediately manifest themselves and that a thorough examination by a doctor might make you aware of more serious injuries.  The goal is to settle the case before you have obtained this type of information from legal and medical professionals.

A common trick employed by insurance adjusters is to claim that you only suffered minor or no injures because of the limited damage to your vehicle.  The adjuster will characterize your Mississippi car crash as a “low impact” collision.  The adjuster will offer you a settlement to repair your vehicle and agree to pay nominal medical expenses.  The adjuster might even act magnanimous and ask if you need a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.  The adjuster knows that you might be under financial pressure to get back to work and pay medical expenses.  The insurance adjuster will use this financial pressure to try to get you to settle your auto accident claim before the seriousness of your injuries or your right to more substantial damages becomes apparent.

Car crash victims should always keep in mind that an adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company by settling the claim for as little as possible.  At Barrett Law, we have a wealth of experience with the tactics used by insurance companies to minimize the value claims and to avoid liability all together.  If you are involved in a Mississippi auto accident, you should not speak to the other driver’s insurance company until you have obtained legal advice.  The knowledgeable and experienced team of Mississippi Auto Accident Lawyers at our Mississippi car accident law firm offers a free initial consultation so that we can evaluate your claim.  Contact the qualified Barrett Law, PLLC today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Worker’s Compensation Claims in Mississippi

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

This is the second installment of our blog that provides answers to recurring questions about Mississippi worker’s compensation claims.  While we have attempted to answer many of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients, injured workers are welcome to contact us for more specific information about your claim.

How should an employee beset by a workplace injury or occupational illness proceed?

When workers experiences a work-related injury, they should notify their supervisor or other individual designated by the company.  It is essential that the reporting of the incident and injury be accurate and prompt.  Although notice should be given as soon as practical, the employee needs to provide notice within thirty days of the incident causing injury.  If the employee does not hear back about the claim, the claimant should seek immediate legal advice.  When two years elapse from the date of injury without payment of wage loss benefits, the employee will forfeit all rights to benefits unless the claimant has commenced a claim with the Commission during the two year period.

Will a claimant be required to pay a deductible for medical benefits as under health insurance policies?

While the employer might have to pay a deductible, an injured worker pursuing a claim for a workplace injury can pursue medical benefits free of charge, which means no deductible is needed.

Will a claimant receive benefits covering all work days that are missed?

If an injured worker is disabled for a period shorter than 14 days, a waiting period must be observed before benefits are paid.  In this situation, the employee will not be compensated for the initial five day period.  When a worker’s disability is severe enough that the claimant misses 14 days or more, there is no waiting period that must be met prior to entitlement to benefits.

When will coverage commence after a claim is made?

An employee will become eligible and covered once the employee starts his tenure at the company.  There is no probationary period or minimum earning threshold that must be satisfied prior to the claimant becoming eligible for benefits.

What is the duration of wage loss benefits?

The duration of payments for disability depend on the nature and severity of the injury.  When an employee is rendered totally and permanently disabled, the time limit will depend on specific facts related to the injury.  However, the maximum duration that worker’s compensation benefits will be paid cannot extend beyond 450 weeks.

Can I assume that safety violations and obvious workplace hazards are irrelevant since the worker’s compensation system operates on a “no fault” basis?

Although worker’s compensation benefits do not depend on negligence, compensation through such benefits often fall short of what is needed to make an injury victim whole.  Safety practices should be observed because prevention is a better alternative than the recovery of works comp benefits.  Frequently, a civil lawsuit can be filed against parties responsible for a work-related accident other than the claimant’s employer.  Safety violations often constitute negligence and entitle an injured worker to damages against a third-party defendant.

Do I really need an attorney to pursue my claim for benefits?

There are many reasons to retain a Mississippi worker’s compensation attorney.  The attorney can makes sure that a claimant has appropriate medical evidence to support the claim.  Legal advice can also prove invaluable to ensure proper compliance with procedural and timing requirements in pursuing a disputed claim for benefits.  Further, an experienced workplace injury lawyer can explore viable liability claims against third-party defendants.  A third-party lawsuit can facilitate a fuller recover because damages in a civil lawsuit can include pain and suffering and other types of compensation that do not fall within the purview of the worker’s compensation system.

Our Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Lawyers at Barrett Law have successfully represented many injured employees in obtaining worker’s compensation benefits and damages in third-party lawsuits.  At Barrett Law, PLLC, we are here to help.  Contact our firm today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.

 

Whistleblower Seeks Compensation and Reinstatement after Alleged Termination for Fraudulent Medicare Billings

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

This blog has addressed the important role that a whistleblower serves in protecting the public from financial fraud involving federal funds and illegal acts that could harm consumers.  Disclosure of this type of illegal and unethical conduct constitutes a heroic act because of the risk of retribution by companies that employ those who reveal improper activities.  Fortunately, most whistleblowers are protected to some extent by laws that make it a criminal offense to punish an employee for disclosing fraud against a public entity.

A recent case involving a pediatrician who was fired as the CEO of Architrave Health after disclosing $10 million in improper Medicare payments to doctors provides a telling example.  The CEO was terminated allegedly due to his decision to report kickbacks and improper billing by a subsidiary of Architrave to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  The lawsuit filed by the former CEO indicates his termination was retaliation for uncovering the fraudulent billings and refusing to cooperate in preventing the information from being made public.  The complaint filed by the plaintiff alleged that the company’s board of directors “reluctantly authorized” the CEO to self-disclose the Stark Law violations.  However, the plaintiff was terminated shortly after reporting the illegal payments.  He claims that he was informed the reason for his firing was a failure to “cooperate and coordinate.”

The federal Stark Law prohibits certain referrals by physicians where a conflict of interest exist.  The law bars referral of designated health services for patients on Medicaid and Medicare when the doctor has a financial affiliation or interest in the entity receiving the referral.  Penalties for violations under the Stark law include:

  • Restitution of funds received by the provider
  • Civil penalties of $15,000 per violation for each service the physician knows or should know was a violation of the law
  • Three times the amount the entity received from the public health program
  • Payment of civil penalties for attempting to evade the law of up to $100,000 for each scheme to avoid detection

The lawsuit for the wrongful termination filed by the former CEO requests reinstatement, back pay, attorney fees, and punitive damages.  He also alleges his unjustified termination of employment resulted in losing business opportunities, future earning capacity, damage to his professional standing and reputations, as well as lost income and benefits.  The whistleblower also indicates in his complaint that he was blacklisted by Architrave.

Our Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyers understand how to use the protections provided by whistleblower laws to shield employees who disclose this type of misconduct.  At Barrett Law, our Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyers work to protect individuals who expose corrupt and unlawful practices while seeking the fullest compensation for whistleblowers.  Contact our firm today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions.

Mississippi Accident Litigation Strategy: Identifying a Viable Defendant

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Sometimes when you are involved in a car accident in Mississippi, there can be challenges in terms of identifying a viable responsible party to compensate you for your injuries. If a careless driver runs a red light and slams into your vehicle, the drive may lack insurance and possess no viable assets from which to pay a personal injury judgment.  Alternatively, the at-fault driver might even flee the scene, and despite careful investigation, it may be impossible to identify the responsible driver.  Sadly, some people simply give up when they learn that the other driver cannot be identified or does not have insurance.  Our Mississippi accident attorneys have successfully assisted many car accident victims facing this difficult situation.  There are a number of effective strategies that can be employed when the most obvious at-fault party (i.e., the other driver) is not a viable defendant.  We have provided an overview of strategies that we may successfully employ to identify a viable defendant to facilitate the fullest recovery in these situations.

Liability of Other Parties

Frequently, there is a third-party that also might have contributed to your car accident.  Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, a wide range of third-parties might be liable for your injuries. If the person who was at fault in your accident was performing a work-related function, the company that employed the driver may be responsible for your injuries. These cases can be complex because the employer typically will dispute whether the particular tasks that the driver was engaged in were within the scope of employment.  It is not necessarily dispositive that the task occurred after hours or even that the employee voluntarily decided to undertake the errand.

Even if the driver does not have insurance, the owner of a car who entrusted the driver with the vehicle may be liable for your injuries. When someone entrusts their vehicle to a motorist who lacks the maturity, competence, or responsibility to drive safely, he or she may be liable for negligently entrusting a vehicle to a third-party.  For example, vehicle owners who lend their car to a friend they know has a history of driving under the influence of alcohol or a pattern of past traffic accidents can be liable for crash-related injuries

Other parties that might be liable for your injuries include public entities, which may have designed or maintained a defective roadway, and vehicle manufacturers that produce a defective automobile.  Our experienced Mississippi car accident attorneys routinely explore the possibility of liability of a public entity or vehicle manufacturer, but this is especially important when the at-fault driver is not a viable defendant.  Public entities that know or should know of dangerous roadway conditions may be liable for failure to make a roadway safe or failure to provide adequate warnings of potential hazards.  An automaker that produces a defective vehicle also can be liable for your injuries if the defective component contributed to your car accident.

Uninsured Motorist (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM)

If there is no other viable party against whom you may recover for your injuries, our Mississippi car accident attorneys can explore filing a claim against your own uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.  Uninsured motorist coverage is optional supplemental insurance coverage that provides compensation for some of the types of damages you might recover from a negligent driver if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident or an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist coverage is typically available for a relatively modest additional premium and can be invaluable if you find yourself involved in a serious car accident with no viable defendant to compensate you for your injuries.

Underinsured motorist coverage is slightly different in that it provides additional compensation if the defendant does not carry enough insurance coverage to compensate you for all of your loss. If you are faced with this situation, underinsured motorist coverage can provide additional compensation on top of the insurance coverage of a negligent driver.

Anytime you are involved in a car accident in Mississippi, you may face challenges in identifying a viable defendant with sufficient insurance to compensate you for all of your loss.  Our law firm offers a free initial consultation so that we can evaluate your claim.  Contact the qualified Mississippi Auto Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law, PLLC today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Speeding Increases the Frequency and Severity of Mississippi Car Accidents

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Almost everyone violates the speed limit or drives faster than one should given road and traffic conditions at some point.  While many motorists perceive speeding as a minor infraction that has no real consequence, a significant number of people are killed throughout Mississippi and the U.S. every year by drivers guilty of speeding.  The faster a vehicle is moving the more stopping distance it needs when applying the brakes to avoid a car accident.  A car also is less responsive and more prone to rollover at high rates of speed when a driver engages in sharp steering maneuvers.  Further, vehicles occupants are more likely to be involved in a car accident when driving at a high rate of speed and experience more severe injuries.

Our Mississippi speeding accident attorneys have successfully represented many victims of speeding drivers.  Because car accidents that occur at a higher rate of speed result in a more intense impact, it is important to have an experienced car accident lawyer who has handled a substantial number of car accident claims involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

The danger of being involved in a speed-related accident is substantial given that ninety percent of all drivers admit to speeding, and 75 percent admit to doing so regularly.  Some people justify speeding based on the fact that they exceed the speed limit by only a small margin.  The problem with this reasoning is that even exceeding the speed limit by only five mph can cause a serious car accident depending on where the speeding occurs.  Speeding is a significant factor in as many as one-third of all fatal car accidents.  The relationship between increased speed and traffic collisions is demonstrated by a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which revealed that increased speed limits resulted in a rise in the number of car accidents and auto accident-related fatalities.

Excessive speed frequently is combined with alcohol and other collision risk factors.  An accident victim typically must establish the negligence of the other driver to recover for injuries.  Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for weather or road conditions often constitutes negligence.  Speeding increases the probability of a driver being involved in a Mississippi car accident resulting in serious injury in a number of ways that include:

  • Speeding decreases the amount of reaction time a driver has to engage in evasive maneuvers.
  • Excessive speed increases the risk of skidding on icy or wet roadways.
  • Stopping distance increases significantly as speed increases.
  • Speeding increases the force of impact in a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, or fixed object.
  • There is an increased risk of losing control of a vehicle when turning if a driver is speeding.

If you have been involved in a serious car accident in Mississippi caused by a speeding driver, Barrett Law provides a thorough investigation of the facts, extensive legal research, meticulously drafted pleadings and motions, as well as compelling courtroom advocacy.  The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at our traffic accident injury law firm offer a free initial consultation so that we can evaluate your claim.  Contact the Mississippi Car Accident Lawyers at Barrett Law today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Drunk Driving Accidents Can Result in Life-Altering Consequences

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

It is tragic anytime someone suffers serious injury or wrongful death in a car accident in Jackson or the surrounding areas of Mississippi.  When the accident is caused by completely avoidable behavior, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, the tragedy is even greater.  Despite significant efforts to reduce the number of serious car accidents involving intoxicated drivers, more than 10,000 drivers per year die in accidents caused by alcohol-impaired motorists, which amounts to an accident every fifty minutes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Many Mississippi drivers presume that their probability of becoming the victim of an alcohol impaired driver is minimal.  Based on statistical evidence, a third of all drivers will be involved in an accident with a drunken driver at some point during their lifetime.  Although stricter drunk driving penalties, more aggressive law enforcement efforts, and public service campaigns might have reduced the number of drunk driving crashes, intoxicated motorists still claim the lives of many innocent victims.

Those who cause car accidents in Mississippi while driving under the influence of alcohol tend to be repeat offenders.  The average drunk motorist drives under the influence of alcohol eighty times before his or her first drunk driving arrest.  Because committing DUI poses such a substantial risk of causing a serious motor vehicle accident, a judge or jury will often award punitive damages in a lawsuit against an alcohol-impaired driver.  The type of conduct required for an award of punitive damages is much more egregious than a finding of negligence under Mississippi law.  An award of punitive damages requires the conduct of the perpetrator rise to the level that it constitutes gross recklessness or intentional, wanton, or malicious conduct.  Drunken driving is exactly the type of recklessness that might justify punitive damages.

There have been a wide range of measures designed to curb the practice of driving under the influence of alcohol. Some of the most effective measures include the following:

  • Stiffer sentences for drunk drivers, which includes mandatory minimum sentences
  • Imposition of zero tolerance DUI policies for drivers under 21
  • Reduction of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) standard to .08 percent on a national basis
  • Increased use of sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols
  • Widespread use of ignition interlock devices

These are just a few examples of the methods employed to reduce the risk of serious auto accidents caused by drunk drivers in Jackson and the surrounding vicinity.  Ironically, many drivers who are intoxicated believe that they are actually more alert and able to drive because alcohol impairs their perception and judgment.  Drunk driving is especially dangerous because it compromises a variety of necessary driving skills.  Some of the types of driving skills that are adversely impacted by alcohol include:

  • Reaction and braking time
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Coordination and control of motor functions
  • Vision and hearing

It should never be the case that someone is killed by a drunk driver because these accidents are so easily preventable.  At Barrett Law, we believe that drivers who engage in this type of reckless driving behavior show a conscious disregard for human life and public safety.  We are committed to aggressively pursuing justice for victims of alcohol-impaired drivers and seeking the maximum possible financial compensation for those injured or killed by intoxicated motorists.

While there have been substantial efforts to reduce the number of fatal Mississippi car accidents, many victims suffer serious injuries or wrongful death at the hands of drunk drivers.  The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at our Mississippi Auto Accident Lawyers offer a free initial consultation so that we can evaluate your claim.  Contact Barrett Law, PLLC today at 800.707.9577 to schedule your free consultation.