Distracted driving is no “accident”

Fascinating NYT article on how we talk about distracted driving.  Words have meaning.  The word “accident” implies no one is responsible.  “Accidents happen,” as the saying goes.  Most car crashes are not accidents.  They are caused by driver action, inaction, or distraction. Let’s call a spade a spade.  #crashnotaccident

Female driver with mobile phone. Focus on hand holding phone

She did not pick up the phone and decide to text by accident.

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The hidden cost of tort deform

General Motors knew that its ignition switches were faulty but allowed people to continue to drive Chevy Cobalts and other cars for years.  To date, 49 of those people have died in crashed related to the defective switches, and many more suffered horrific injuries.

burningcar

However, many families of these innocent victims have not been able to obtain justice.  Many states, including Ohio, place a limit on the amount of compensation injury victims and their families can get under the guise of “tort reform.”  As pointed out in this recent New York Times piece, it simply becomes too expensive to bring a case, in light of what the law allows to be recovered.  Said another way, by the time experts are hired to prove the case, the value of the injuries and suffering is not enough to obtain a successful result.

In fact, Ohio even takes the added step of cutting off the right to bring a case after the product is 10 years old.  This “statute of repose” applies even if it is defective and dangerous and even if the manufacturer knew of the problem.

What does this mean to you:  

No one would dispute that frivoulous lawsuits have no place in our legal system. The dispute is, what constitutes “frivolous” and who gets to decide?  Politicians or a jury of your peers?

Shhh! We’d like to keep our fraud secret!

So, Über and Lyft want to keep their insurance policies secret, which raises a lot of questions in my mind.  Like, what are they hiding?  And specifically, what is covered by the policy?  Is it only the driver, or are the passengers covered too?  Seems like we should be allowed to know the answers.

secret

 

Interestingly, the companies are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – insurance that protects you when you are not at fault.  But, there is no requirement that the rest of us buy uninsured motorists coverage, and there is no requirement that your agent offer or even explain it to you.   Its important enough to require it for those services, but not for everyone else.  Hmmm.

What does this mean to you:

Go now and find out how much uninsured motorists coverage you carry on your insurance policy.  We will wait for you here.  Yes, its that important.  Go on.

Do you have uninsured motorists coverage in your auto policy?  Do you also have it in your umbrella policy?  What are the limits?  Considering that almost 15% of drivers carry no insurance and many more do not carry enough insurance, do you have high enough limits?

 

The passengers on the bus go ’round and ’round

Seat belts have been mandatory in cars since 1968.  Seat belts are even required in airplanes, where there is usually no such thing as a “minor” crash.  Why, then, are no seat belts in commercial or school buses?

Bus travel

It seems the bus industry has resisted efforts to mandate seat belts in new buses, or to retrofit old buses with new seat belts.  You see, the health and safety of those pesky passengers shouldn’t get in the way of the bottom line.

What does this mean to you:

Be careful when selecting your preferred method of travel.

 

The Phantom (Driver) Menace

There seem to be a rash of “hit-skip” incidents going around, like this one just this weekend in Victorian Village.  Luckily, this guy was caught.  But what if they never find the at-fault driver?

Car-smoke

In Ohio, this situation is called a “phantom driver.”  Most insurance policies require there to be some other evidence that a crash happened, other than just the injured person’s word.

What does this mean to you:

If you are hit by another car who takes off, you will either need another person who witnessed the wreck to back you up.  Either that, or show some damage to your vehicle to prove there actually was a wreck.  Believe it or not, sometimes insurance companies don’t believe you!

 

iPad apps for Lawyers

Here’s a handy list of the ten iPad apps I use in my law practice on a daily basis:

1.  Dropbox – keep all your files in sync where ever you are.  No more wondering which version of a document you have.

2.  QucikOffice – create and edit Word and Excel documents on your iPad.

3. Notability – take notes in text or freehand, and sync them with Dropbox.

4. Keynote – Apple’s (far superior) version of PowerPoint.

5. Exhibit A – Non-linear trial presentation app that allows you to manipulate images and documents on screen.

6. LogMeIn – Remote desktop app.  Forget to bring a particular document with you?  Forget about it!

7. Good Reader – View and edit PDF documents.  Good for depo outlines.

8. Form Tools – Create text boxes on PDF’s, such as a client intake sheet or medical release.

9. Print n Share – print wirelessly from your iPad.

10. Facebook – make new contacts, investigate opposing parties, and make sure your client is on the up and up.

It can wait

 

As noted earlier this year, April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Since then, though, the number of deaths from texting while driving just in Ohio – not to mention nationwide – continues to rise.

At least she’s got one hand on the wheel…

There is a new resource available at EndDD.org.  It shares the real-world story of Casey Feldman who was struck and killed by a texting driver as she crossed the street.  EndDD.org also has a checklist of pledges, which can be especially helpful for teenage drivers.

What does this mean to you:

Ohio’s texting while driving ban went into effect at the beginning of September.  Not only is it now against the law, its just dangerous.  Put down the cell phone while driving.  Nothing is that important.  It can wait.

 

The two guarantees in life

Everyone’s heard the old adage – the only guarantees in life are death and taxes.  I would think that both happening simultaneously would probably ruin your day.

What goes here?

CNN reports there is actually an increased likelihood of deaths from car crashes on tax day, probably caused by increased stress and driver inattention, which has become a huge problem.

In Ohio over the last 2 years, distracted driving accounted for more than 31,000 wrecks, 7,800 injuries, and 70 deaths.  Though lawmakers debated a statewide texting while driving law earlier this year,  Ohio is one of only 8 states that does not have a specific ban.  Of course, Ohio law does require all drivers to be in control of their cars at all times as a general rule.

What does this mean to you:

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Any distraction from the primary goal of driving creates unnecessary risk to your passengers and other drivers on the road.

Take a minute, slow down, and be safe out there.

Yea, but the benefits make it worth it

Having a job is a good thing, let’s be honest.  Not getting hurt or killed on the job is even better.

Look out below!

In Ohio, though, if your employer is at fault for injuring you, you cannot make a claim against them.  Even if they could and should have prevented it.  Even if they knew you were going to get hurt and did nothing to stop it.  Thanks to the Ohio Supreme Court, unless your employer got up that morning and was specifically out to get you that day, they are not responsible for your medical bills, loss of a limb, or any damages, even if a death results.

What does this mean to you:

Someone injured or killed on the job is not always left out in the cold. If a person or company other than your employer was at fault – such as a sub-contractor doing work at an industrial job site or construction site, the manufacturer of a defective product, or any other third party – they may be entitled to make a claim, even though the injury happened while on the job.  A major part of any case brought by a lawyer or law firm is investigating all potentially-liable parties.  Workers comp may also be available, but by no means makes the person whole.