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Holiday Distracted Driving: What You Need to Know

During the winter holidays, many of us hit the road to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. However, thanks to distracted driving and other factors, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one of the most dangerous times for travelers.

In this blog, Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys outlines the essentials of holiday distracted driving, so you can protect yourself and your family from car crashes this season.

Holiday Distracted Driving Is More Common Than You Think

When you hit traffic, you pull your phone out and send your mom a quick text to let her know you’ll be a little late for Thanksgiving dinner. You begin to type the message out when, all of a sudden, you hear a crunch. Your car wasn’t stopped when you began your message, and you’ve rear-ended the vehicle in front of you. In addition to being late, you may also be liable for someone’s injuries now.

Situations like this are all too common. With more people traveling to see family, too many of us are driving while distracted by our phones, devices, and other activities. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving injures roughly 390,000 people and kills 3,500 people every year.

Many distracted driving crashes occur during the holidays. The National Safety Council estimates that 855 people were killed in car accidents on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day in 2018 alone.

The increase in car accidents over the holidays is due, in part, to the volume of people who hit the roads. Millions of people clog our highways on peak holiday weekends. However, it’s also an easy time to become distracted. Many of us are too worried about making it to our celebrations, running our errands, or sending that one last text – and forget about safe driving.

RELATED: Alabama’s Distracted Driving Laws Don’t Work

Understand Distracted Driving in Alabama

Texting and driving is always dangerous. However, other forms of distracted driving can be just as harmful. These include:

  • Eating while driving
  • Personal hygiene tasks, like applying makeup or fixing your hair
  • Emailing or checking social media
  • Talking on the phone or with a passenger
  • Rubbernecking
  • Adjusting heating or radio settings
  • Daydreaming and multitasking

The more your eyes are off the road, the more likely it is that you will crash. Therefore, you put yourself and others at risk every time you look at your phone, your shopping list, or your navigation system. Fortunately, there are strategies and tools you can use to stay focused behind the wheel.

Protect Yourself From Distraction on the Road

When you’re traveling this holiday season, staying focused and safe while driving is the first line of defense against distracted driving.

    • Keep your phone on silent or airplane mode and refrain from checking it while you drive. If you need it for navigation, use a dashboard mount or rely on a passenger to help you. If you need to check your messages or make a call, pull over or park in a rest area.
    • Make sure you’re ready for the trip. If you’re tired, under the influence, or don’t think you can focus on navigating, call a taxi or rideshare, spend the night, or get a ride home from someone else.
    • Limit other distractions in the vehicle. If you can, restrict the number of passengers and the noise levels in your car.

RELATED: How to Calculate the Real Cost of Your Car Accident Claim

Hurt By a Distracted Driver? Follow Our Simple Advice

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully we follow the rules of the road, we can’t control other drivers. When someone else’s distracted driving causes a life-changing car accident, you need to protect yourself and your family.

Make Sure Everyone Is Safe and Call the Police

The first step to take after a crash is to make sure everyone is safe. You should always call 911 after an accident and request emergency medical assistance for anyone who is injured. If you suspect that the at-fault driver was texting or using their phone before or during the crash, voice your concern to the officers.

Gather Evidence at the Crash Scene

The moments after a wreck can be scary and disorienting, but taking steps to preserve evidence can be a huge help in the future. Take photos of the scene, including the damaged vehicles, your injuries, the road and weather conditions, and any other factors that might have impacted the crash. These images, even if they’re not perfect, can help expert witnesses reconstruct the crash.

You should also collect everyone’s names and contact information. If you need to file an injury claim, the witnesses’ statements may become essential evidence.

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Many victims ignore their aches and pains after a car accident, assuming that they’ll fade away. Unfortunately, your bumps and bruises may be signs of serious, developing injuries – like a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt very badly, it’s always best to seek medical treatment after a crash.

Call an Alabama or Mississippi Gulf Coast Car Accident Attorney

When you’re in a car crash with a distracted driver, you could be eligible for financial compensation. However, you’ll probably need an attorney’s help, since it’s not always easy to calculate the value of your suffering, injuries, and damaged property. An experienced Alabama or Mississippi Gulf Coast car accident lawyer can educate you about your options, guide you through your insurance claims, and build your case.

This is especially true when distracted driving played a role in the accident. Your lawyer can help preserve high-tech evidence like mobile phone and data records, which may prove that the at-fault driver was texting or streaming at the time of the crash.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Keeping Alabama and Gulf Coast Roads Safe and Distraction-Free

There’s no place for distracted driving on Alabama and Mississippi roads. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we take pride in our track record of fighting for victims harmed by distracted driving. That’s why we offer free consultations where victims can meet with one of our experienced attorneys to learn about their options. If you want to take advantage of one of these no-risk case evaluations, contact us today at 251-888-8888 or online.

References

2018 traffic safety culture index. (2019, June). AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2018-TSCI-FINAL-061819_updated.pdf

Halsey III, A. (2018, June 27). Distracted driving is illegal in many states, but too many people are addicted. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/its-illegal-in-more-states-than-marijuana-but-too-many-people-are-addicted/2018/06/26/c8de8308-78ab-11e8-80be-6d32e182a3bc_story.html

Halsey III, A. (2018, November 27). Distracted drivers are way more distracted during the holiday season. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/distracted-driving-will-jump-by-33-percent-this-holiday-season/2018/11/27/0197d7c2-ec37-11e8-8679-934a2b33be52_story.html

Holiday traffic fatality estimate: Christmas Day. (2019). National Safety Council. Retrieved from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/holidays/christmas-day/

Holiday traffic fatality estimate: Thanksgiving Day. (2019). National Safety Council. Retrieved from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/holidays/thanksgiving-day/

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Can I Get Compensation for Shoulder Injuries After a Car Accident?

Shoulder injuries are common following a car accident, and victims often suffer severe initial trauma from the sudden impact. On top of that, many victims also deal with longer-term chronic problems with the bones, tissues, and joints in their shoulder. When you experience chronic shoulder pain and loss of mobility, it can impact your quality of life and your ability to work – not to mention the massive medical bills a shoulder injury can rack up.

Each case is unique, but if your shoulder injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, then the law says you have the right to receive compensation for your financial losses as well as your pain and suffering. The type of injury, the severity, and the injury’s impact on your life are all factors that determine the amount of damages (which is a legal term for financial compensation) you can recover.

To learn more about shoulder injuries and your options for compensation, continue reading.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries

Most shoulder injuries that result from a car accident happen because of the sudden physical impact that the crash created. These acute injuries may be very painful, and they often require immediate medical treatment. Rehabilitation that lasts weeks, months, or even years may follow as part of the recovery. Examples of acute shoulder injuries include:

  • Severe bruising
  • Sprains and strains
  • Separated shoulder
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Dislocated shoulder
  • Broken bones
  • Injuries to nerves

Some shoulder injuries, especially those that involve nerve damage or dislocation, may not be obvious for several days or weeks after your accident. Sometimes, acute trauma and the resulting intense pain can mask the symptoms of a secondary or underlying issue. Once the initial acute injury begins to heal, the symptoms of the underlying problem start to become more pronounced.

These issues should not be ignored since they usually get worse over time without proper care. You should always keep your doctor updated about your condition after a car wreck and let them know if you develop new pain or other physical symptoms.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Can I Get Compensation for My Back Pain After a Car Crash?

What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover After Suffering a Shoulder Injury?

The damages you can recover for a shoulder injury fall into two categories. First are economic damages, which are any losses you’ve suffered that have a specific dollar value which you can prove. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Current and expected future medical bills, including ongoing physical therapy and in-home care
  • Modifications to home or vehicle to accommodate new limitations
  • Wages lost so far due to missed work and reduced earnings capacity
  • Loss of future income due to expected missed work and reduced earnings capacity

Documentation is critical for establishing economic damages, which is why it’s essential to keep track of every medical bill and appointment as well as any missed work and any other earnings or opportunities you’ve missed out on due to your injuries. Keeping everything organized can be a challenge, but if you’re working with an experienced injury lawyer, they’ll be able to help.

The second category of damages is non-economic damages. This category includes items like pain and suffering or other effects that lead to a loss of quality of life.

Compared to economic damages, determinations about the value of your suffering and the impact the injury has had on your quality of life are more subjective. Fortunately, an experienced attorney will know how to quantify non-economic damages and frame them in terms that a judge or jury will understand.

One way you can help your attorney make a strong case for compensation is to keep a detailed diary of the ways your injury has affected you. For example, if you can no longer participate in a favorite sport or hobby because of your injury, or if you’re no longer able to be intimate with your spouse because of pain or mobility issues, these are all items to write about in your diary. Make sure to also write about any emotional and psychological issues that have accompanied your injury and the limitations it has placed on you.

RELATED CLIENT STORY: An Injured Victim Demands Justice With Help From Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Experienced, Dedicated Representation for Your Personal Injury Claim

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that people hurt by the negligence of others deserve justice. If you’re struggling with life-changing shoulder pain or any other type of injury after a car crash, you deserve fair compensation, peace of mind, and space to heal. With decades of experience, our team of attorneys fights to get victims the compensation they need.

To schedule your free, no-risk initial consultation with an attorney from our team, call 251-888-8888 today or fill out our quick and easy online contact form.

Reference

Healthwise staff. (n.d.). Shoulder problems and injuries. University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/shoul

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Summer Is a Dangerous Time for Teen Drivers, But Parents Can Help

Your teen has been counting down the days until summer vacation. However, summer isn’t just associated with warmer weather, longer days, and backyard barbeques. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 deadliest days,” pointing to data that shows a 14% increase in fatal crashes involving teen drivers when compared to the rest of the year. With schools on hiatus for the summer months, more young and inexperienced drivers are on the road, which leads to higher crash rates.

Our car accident lawyers are committed to driver safety. That’s why we host safe driving seminars at local high schools and support the Citrin Safety Foundation. We also want parents to take a proactive role in encouraging safe driving. Below, we discuss some simple ways you can keep your young drivers safe this summer.

How to Talk to Teenagers About Responsible Driving

If you are the parent of a teen driver, one of the most important things you can do before handing over the keys is to talk to them about responsible driving. And even if it doesn’t seem like they’re listening, your young driver is noticing your driving habits. The examples you set and the expectations you discuss can play a huge role in keeping your teen safe on the road. In fact, according to a study by Safe Kids Worldwide, when parents and teens discuss rules for driving, those teens are less likely to behave recklessly while behind the wheel.

So how can you help your teen stay safe on the road this summer? Here are a few important topics to cover when you have that talk.

Distracted Driving

Nearly six out of ten teen crashes are caused by distracted driving, according to AAA. While phones are the most common issue, loud music, food, and other people in the vehicle can also distract drivers. Stress the importance of putting away their smartphone when they get behind the wheel. In many states, including Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, it is against the law for teenagers to use a mobile device or text while driving.

Talk about driving with friends in the car and the importance of keeping everyone safe. You may want to set rules about phone use, including hands-free use, and how many passengers are allowed in the vehicle when your teen is driving.

RELATED ARTICLE: Teen Texting and Driving: Education About Risks Works

Buckling Up

Make sure your teen knows that seatbelts are non-negotiable, both for them and their passengers. In 2015, 60% of teens who died in car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. This one small action goes a long way in keeping everyone safe.

Nighttime Driving

Driving when it’s dark takes extra attention and practice. During the “100 deadliest days” of summer, there is a 22% increase in the average number of nighttime crashes per day involving teen drivers. Ask your teen about their comfort level driving in the dark and talk about what they can do to stay alert and make their car as visible as possible. And if your teen isn’t comfortable driving at night, offer to give them a ride.

Drunk and Drugged Driving

Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi all have zero tolerance policies for impaired teen driving, whether they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Don’t assume that just because it’s the law, your teen already knows this. Talk to them candidly about drunk driving laws and how small amounts of alcohol can impact their driving—even if they have a blood-alcohol content below the adult legal limit.

You may also want to talk about what to do if your teen is unable to drive due to impairment and the importance of not riding with other drivers who have been drinking or using drugs. Brainstorm with them about what they should do in these situations—whether that’s calling you for a ride, getting a rideshare, or spending the night somewhere safe.

RELATED ARTICLE: Teen Drinking and Driving Falls by Half

Emphasizing Responsibility

Driving is a privilege, not a right, and it’s your job as a parent to emphasize this with your teen. Make sure they know that driving comes with a large amount of responsibility. As a driver, they are not only responsible for the safety of everyone in their car, but also the safety of every other driver, passenger, pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist that crosses their path.

You should always insist that your young driver follow Alabama’s graduated license program. If a teen has an intermediate or restricted license, they must follow certain rules:

    • No more than one non-family member in the car with them.
    • No driving between 12:00 am and 6:00 am, unless they are with a parent, driving to-and-from work, a religious event, or a school-sponsored activity, or it’s an emergency.
    • No use of handheld electronic devices while driving.

Teens that violate these rules may lose their license or face additional driving restrictions.

General Safety Tips

Make sure your teen knows how to use all of their vehicle’s standard equipment, such as turn signals, windshield wipers, hazard lights, parking brakes, and headlights. Talk to them about defensive driving, or being aware of potential threats and knowing how to avoid crashes safely. You should also discuss what to do in case of an accident or another emergency.

When Accidents Happen, the Team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Is Here for You

No matter how well parents prepare their teens for the responsibility of driving, accidents can happen. If your teen driver has been injured in a car accident, you need an injury lawyer who will fight for fair compensation while offering the emotional support you deserve.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys has earned a powerful reputation, due to our outcomes and personalized service. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions in compensation for our clients and helped them rebuild after the trauma of a car crash. We can help you understand your legal options and assess the value of your claim.

We also give our clients time and space to focus on their child’s wellbeing, while we navigate their claims and fight for what they’re owed. After all, what’s most important in the aftermath of a crash is that you’re able to be there for your family.

To schedule your free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 251-888-8888. Our staff will connect you with the right personal injury lawyer for your case.

References

AAA: Teen-driver involved crashes kill 10 people a day during 100 deadliest days (2018, May 30). AAA NewsRoom. Retrieved from https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/100-deadliest-days/

New teen drivers three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash (2017, June 1). AAA NewsRoom. Retrieved from https://newsroom.aaa.com/2017/06/new-teen-drivers-three-times-likely-involved-deadly-crash/

Walker, L. (2016, May 16). You can keep your teen drivers safer. Here are 7 ways that can help. Safe Kids Worldwide. Retrieved from https://www.safekids.org/blog/you-can-keep-your-teen-drivers-safer-here-are-7-ways-can-help

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

6 Tactics Used by Insurance Adjusters and How to Handle Them

After a car accident, you’ll have to negotiate your case with an insurance claims adjuster. Also called an insurance adjuster, claims representative, or insurance consultant, these employees go by various names, but they always have the same goal: to make your claim disappear as quickly and cheaply as possible.

In this article, we’ll talk about some common tactics insurance adjusters use to try and accomplish their goal, and we’ll also provide some tips that can help you prepare for and handle these tactics.

How Insurance Adjusters Operate

When a crash occurs and you file a claim with your insurance company, the claim lands on the desk of an insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s official job function is to decide how much the insurance company should pay you for that claim.

Insurance adjusters aren’t typically bad people, but they work under conditions that make it impossible for them to exercise compassion towards injured victims. Most adjusters have huge workloads of anywhere from 50 to 100 claims per month, and they also feel enormous pressure from their employer to minimize payments on claims. If the adjuster doesn’t do what the insurance company wants, then the company will find someone else who will, and the adjuster will lose their job.

To satisfy their employers, insurance adjusters often apply less-than-ethical practices and techniques to resolve each claim as quickly and cheaply as they can.

Here are six common tactics used by insurance adjusters along with information about how to avoid falling for these tricks.

Tactic #1: Looking for Inconsistencies in Your Story to Discredit You

Your insurance adjuster may ask for an official recorded statement from you describing the nature of your accident. They will use this statement as a tool to manipulate information and misrepresent the situation. For example, they might only ask you about your broken arm and not about your bruised ribs, then claim later that your ribs weren’t hurt in the wreck because you didn’t mention it in the recorded statement.

Remember that the adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money, and the more unreliable they can make you seem, the better off they will be.

Avoid the trap: Don’t give testimony to the insurance company without talking to a lawyer first. An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you negotiate this conversation and act as a critical resource in a process designed to trip you up.

Tactic #2: Recording Your Conversations

Many insurance adjusters will call you immediately after a collision happens and ask to speak with you. These conversations are often recorded, and they’re designed to catch you off guard before you’ve evaluated the extent of your injuries and losses or had the chance to contact a lawyer. Any contradictions in your story or admissions of guilt will be used against you, even though you experienced trauma and may have even still been in shock when you gave the statement.

Avoid the trap: Refuse to speak to a claims agent without consulting a personal injury lawyer first.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Important Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Car Accident Lawyer

Tactic #3: Requesting Access to Your Medical Records

Your insurance adjuster will usually ask for a medical authorization to gain access to your personal medical records. The request might seem reasonable, but if you grant the request, you’ll give them access to all your medical records — even those from before the accident.

Once the adjuster has access to your records, they’ll look for any evidence that the pain you’re experiencing might come from a pre-existing condition and not the crash that injured you so they can avoid paying you fair compensation for your injuries.

Avoid the Trap: Don’t sign anything after a crash unless your attorney advises you to do so.

Tactic #4: Stalling and Avoidance

Between medical bills, missed time at work, and damaged property, medical bills can pile up fast after an accident. Insurance claims agents know this, and they’ll use the pressure you’re feeling to try and manipulate you into settling for less than you deserve. Often, the adjuster will delay your claim much as much as possible to make you desperate. They may dodge your calls, refuse to provide specific information about your policy limits, and avoid putting details in writing.

The adjuster’s goal with these tactics is to push you to the point where you’ll sign a lowball settlement offer just to get a little relief. But if you sign their settlement offer, that’s the end of your claim — you’ll never be able to go back and get more compensation for your injuries, no matter how bad things get.

Avoid the trap: Get as much information from your adjuster as you can in writing. If the adjuster needs to check with a supervisor, make sure you get a date when you’ll hear back from them, and then follow up if they miss that date. Also keep in mind that insurance companies are more likely to make a legitimate, reasonable settlement offer to victims who hire a lawyer.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How to Prove Fault During an Accident

Tactic #5: Intimidation

Insurance adjusters are experts in the claims resolution process. Many adjusters handle 100 claims a month; meanwhile, for you, this is probably your first time dealing with an injury claim. Your insurance adjuster knows there’s a huge disparity between what they know about the claims process and what you know, and they’ll use this against you. They may say you’re not entitled to compensation and assure you that they’ve seen many cases like yours before, so they know how your claim will play out.

Avoid the trap: Claims adjusters may understand the claims process, but they have just minutes to spend on each case per day. They’re not experts on your claim, nor do they understand the details of your trauma and injuries. By hiring an experienced attorney to handle your claim, you can get someone on your side who understands how insurance claims work just as well as the adjuster and knows the facts of your claim much better.

Tactic #6: Pressuring You to Settle Without Consulting a Lawyer

Some claims adjusters will be so bold as to say that you won’t be eligible to collect benefits if you contact a lawyer or that you can’t afford to wait to seek legal counsel. This is the most unethical of all insurance adjuster tactics since it’s an outright lie.

Avoid the trap: You always have the right to consult an experienced personal injury attorney after a crash, especially when damages for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering are on the line. Getting advice from a lawyer will never damage your claim or reduce the amount of compensation you’re eligible to receive.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting Against Insurance Adjuster Tactics on Behalf of Victims in Alabama

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we have experience handling complex Alabama car wreck claims with empathy and grit. We understand the true value of your claim, and we know when the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you. When you choose us to handle your claim, we’ll deal with the insurance company and fight aggressively to get you the compensation you deserve.

If you think an insurance claims adjuster is trying to deny you the compensation you deserve, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, no-risk case assessment. To speak with an attorney from our team, fill out our convenient online contact form or call our offices at 251-888-8888.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Alabama’s Distracted Driving Laws Don’t Work

Alabama’s Distracted Driving Laws Don’t Work — Contact Citrin Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured in a Wreck

Like most states, Alabama has a law that limits texting and driving. But even though the police can stop you for texting while driving in our state, this law hasn’t reduced the number of fatal distracted driving deaths. Instead, distracted driving-related crashes and deaths continue to rise.

Keep reading to learn about the newest developments in Alabama distracted driving laws and find out how you can protect yourself after a car accident that involves distracted driving.

Alabama’s Texting and Driving Laws Are a Start, But They Don’t Solve the Problem

Alabama law limits the use of electronic devices in cars. Teen drivers under 18 cannot use any mobile electronic device while driving. If a teen gets caught using an electronic device, they can face additional driver’s training requirements, up to $350 in fines, court costs, and the suspension of their driver’s license.

For adults, Alabama’s texting and driving law is more complicated. The law only covers devices like smartphones and computers as well as older devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs). Alabama’s law does not cover hardwired screens like in-dash “infotainment” systems.

Also, our state’s prohibitions on electronic distractions are very limited. Under Alabama law, adults cannot write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving. It’s also illegal to program an address into a GPS app or device while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

RELATED ARTICLE: Teen Texting and Driving: Education About Risks Works

However, the law doesn’t address video streaming services, games, or video chat apps. In other words, while adult drivers can’t check their email or post on Facebook, it’s technically legal for them to engage in equally risky behaviors like binge-watching television or playing Candy Crush. Alabama law also allows drivers to dial phone numbers while driving and check their GPS systems and onboard infotainment systems.

Alabama doesn’t set additional standards for commercial drivers like those who operate school buses, delivery trucks, and 18-wheelers. In many other states, commercial drivers must operate their devices in a hands-free mode.

Not only are our state’s distracted driving laws lax, but the penalties associated with violations are minor. First-time violations only result in a $25 fine for an adult, and repeat offenders only face up to $75 in fines per incident. You’ll also get two points on your license for each violation.

Distracted Driving Deaths Are Increasing in Alabama

Alabama’s texting and driving law went into effect in 2012. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, there were only 24 fatalities and 429 serious injuries due to distracted and drowsy driving in 2009. In 2015, three years after the law went into effect, distracted and drowsy driving caused 84 deaths and 1,194 serious injuries.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dangers of Distracted Driving in Alabama

The department also notes distracted driving crashes go underreported since distracted driving is hard to prove. Many distracted drivers simply deny using their phones. According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), roughly 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving at any given time on U.S. roads.

Some Alabama Lawmakers Are Pushing for a Hands-Free Driving Law

In November 2018, State Senator Jim McClendon announced his plans to introduce a new hands-free law this year. McClendon intends to propose a bill that would prohibit drivers from holding any electronic device while driving. He says there is good support for hands-free driving legislation amongst lawmakers, and our attorneys will carefully monitor the bill’s progress throughout the year.

2 Things You Need to Do After a Crash with a Distracted Driver in Alabama

If you suspect that a driver was texting or using their phone during a crash, you need to act quickly to protect your legal rights. Most distracted drivers will deny using their phones, so proving distracted driving often requires careful and thorough investigation. Truckers and other commercial drivers are especially like to lie about distraction since they may face termination or discipline from their employer for violating company policies.

If a distracted driver hits and injures you, take the following steps:

1. Call 911 and cooperate with the law enforcement investigation

After a car accident, you should always call 911 and file an accident report. The police and other first responders will come to the scene, tend to your injuries, and investigate the crash. If you believe that distracted driving contributed to an accident, make sure you voice your concerns to the police.

2. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to investigate a distracted driving claim

Before you discuss your injuries with an insurance company adjuster, you should always consult an experienced injury lawyer. You’ll need more than suspicions about texting or phone use to prove your injury claim.

RELATED ARTICLE: Most Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we know how to obtain cell phone records, witness statements, and other important evidence that can prove a driver was texting or distracted. For example, many semi-trucks have electronic monitoring systems that record drivers’ behavior. However, if you don’t move fast, the trucking company may destroy this evidence. Our lawyers act quickly and aggressively after a crash to preserve “black box” data, driver’s logs, and other valuable information that can prove distraction and negligence.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Committed to a Safer Alabama

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that personal injury claims not only improve our clients’ lives but also make Alabama a safer place. If a distracted driver caused your or a loved one’s serious injuries, contact us today. We’d love to listen to your story and help you understand your legal options at no cost to you. To request your free consultation, fill out our quick and convenient online form or call us at 251-888-8888.

References

Alabama Department of Transportation. (2017, July). Alabama strategic highway safety plan. Montgomery, AL: Author. Retrieved from https://www.dot.state.al.us/dsweb/divted/TrafficSOS/pdf/Alabama_SHSP_081117.pdf

Definitions; prohibited activities; fines; exceptions. Alabama Code § 32-5A-350 (2012).

Restrictions on issuance to persons under 18 years of age. Alabama Code § 32-6-7.2 (2017).

Walsh, L. (2018, November 30). Alabama lawmaker plans to file hands free bill, similar to Georgia’s new driving law. ABC 33/40. Retrieved from https://abc3340.com/news/local/alabama-lawmaker-plans-to-file-hands-free-bill-similar-to-georgias-new-driving-law

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Hit by a Drowsy Driver in Alabama? Here’s What to Do

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we understand the dangers of driver fatigue all too well after handling cases for many victims who were hurt by drowsy drivers. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that drowsy driving poses just as serious a danger as drunk or drugged driving.

Keep reading to learn how you can prevent fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents as well as what you can do if the worst happens and you or someone you love suffers injuries in a wreck.

Drowsy Driving Kills More Than 800 People Each Year

According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 824 people die each year due to fatigue-related crashes. However, this data comes from police reports, and many experts believe driver fatigue goes underreported. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers might cause as many as 6,000 deaths per year.

Many drivers don’t understand how fatigue impacts their ability to operate a car or truck. When you’re tired, you have a harder time making decisions, your response times slow down, and you become inattentive. In the worst cases, an overly tired driver can lose consciousness completely.

RELATED ARTICLE: Truck Driver Fatigue

Research suggests that operating a vehicle when you’ve only had four or five hours of sleep poses the same crash risk as drunk driving. If you’ve had less than four hours of sleep, it’s as if you’re driving with a 0.15 blood-alcohol content level — almost twice the legal limit. With that little sleep, you’re 11.5 times more likely to crash your vehicle than if you were fully rested.

How Can I Avoid Fatigue-Related Car Accidents?

While you can’t always prevent a car wreck, you can take a few simple steps to reduce fatigue and give yourself the best chance of avoiding a crash.

  • Get Enough Rest Before Driving

Before you hit the road, make sure you’re well-rested. While you may feel tempted to pull an all-nighter and get to your destination, this is never a safe choice. Instead, do your best to get a full eight hours of sleep before a scheduled trip and remember to take rest breaks along the way as needed. Remember, a hotel room is a bargain compared to the costs of medical bills and property damage after a vehicle wreck.

  • Know the Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue

Some signs of driver fatigue are easy to identify. For most people, if they start yawning or their eyes feel heavy, they’ll realize that they’re getting tired. However, other signs of fatigue are subtler. You might be getting drowsy if you “missed” a few miles of your journey or passed your exit because your mind was wandering. Similarly, if you notice that your car is drifting or you’re hitting the rumble strips, it’s time to take a break.

  • Assess Your Fatigue Risk

Some people run an especially high risk of drowsiness behind the wheel. For example, if you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, you’re more likely to experience fatigue, even during the daytime. The same is true if you take certain types of sedating medications or work late or irregular hours. If you’re at a higher risk of fatigue, make sure you give yourself plenty of rest breaks or even ask someone else to drive.

  • Know Your Limits and Speak Up

We understand how tempting it can be to push the limits, especially if you have a schedule to keep or you’re experiencing pressure from passengers to keep driving. However, you’re always better off taking a break or calling it a night if you feel drowsy. And if you see someone else driving erratically or exhibiting signs of driver fatigue on the road, call 911 and let the operator know what you saw.

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you drive, you can’t control other people’s negligent behavior, and you might suffer injuries because someone else decided to keep driving in a fatigued state. Read on to learn what you can do if you get hurt in a wreck because of someone else’s negligence.

What Should I Do if a Drowsy Driver Hits Me or a Loved One?

If you’re involved in a car accident with a fatigued driver, you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. First, call 911 and cooperate with the police as soon as they arrive. If the police give you permission to leave the scene, you should have a doctor evaluate you, even if you believe you only suffered minor bumps and bruises. Sometimes, you might not realize the severity of your injuries immediately after a crash since your body is full of adrenaline and some injuries take time to appear.

RELATED ARTICLE: Important Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Car Accident Lawyer

Once you’ve consulted a doctor, you should call an experienced attorney who knows how to handle fatigued driving cases. Often, drowsy drivers won’t admit they were falling asleep at the wheel. This is especially true of commercial truck drivers, who sometimes cause crashes because they were breaking federal hours-of-service rules.

To keep our roads safe, the federal government sets strict rules that say how long a commercial truck driver can operate their vehicle without a break. However, trucking companies sometimes pressure their drivers to break these hours-of-service rules in the name of increased profits. Fortunately, electronic logs can often prove whether a truck driver complied with the federal rules.

When we suspect fatigue caused a crash, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys acts quickly with our Rapid Response Protocol. Depending on the circumstances, our attorneys will preserve important evidence like log books, GPS data, medical information, and cell phone records, all of which can help establish a driver’s time on the road and fatigue levels. After preserving and organizing all the relevant evidence, we’ll work to identify everyone who was responsible for causing the wreck and fight to hold them accountable.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Injured Victims of Negligence in Alabama

If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a drowsy driver’s negligent or reckless conduct, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys is here to help. To schedule your free consultation at any of our conveniently located offices

References

Drowsy driving: Asleep at the wheel. (2018, November 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/index.html

Drowsy driving. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving

Teft, B. (2016, December). Acute sleep deprivation and risk of motor vehicle crash involvement. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from http://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/AcuteSleepDeprivationCrashRisk.pdf

What If My Seat Belt Fails During a Crash?

In Alabama, everyone in the front seat of a passenger vehicle must wear a seat belt. Unfortunately, about one in seven people ignore this rule and fail to buckle up.

Below, the safety and injury law experts at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys explain the importance of seat belts and discuss what you should do when a safety belt malfunctions during a car accident or truck wreck.

Why Are Seat Belts So Important to Driver and Passenger Safety?

Seat belts are a critical part of the safety system in any car or truck. The statistics surrounding unrestrained drivers and passengers are grim:

  • More than half of the people who die in car accidents each year are not wearing seat belts.
  • You’re 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle during a crash if you’re not wearing a seat belt.
  • In 2009 alone, seat belts saved roughly 13,000 lives.

However, if you’re wondering how a simple strap of nylon can save your life, you’re not alone.

Our cars can come to a sudden stop because of their brakes. However, when you’re traveling in a car and the brakes suddenly bring the car to a stop, the brakes don’t exert any stopping force on you. That’s why you keep moving even though the vehicle stops, and it’s also why you’ll be thrown forward if you’re not restrained.

When you’re wearing a seat belt, you’re attached to the vehicle. The seat belt absorbs your forward momentum and spreads the force across sturdy parts of your body like your torso and pelvis, which can significantly reduce the severity of your injuries in a wreck and even save your life.

Most states today have laws mandating seat belts. Alabama doesn’t require back-seat passengers to wear seat belts, but this exception makes little sense since the back seat isn’t significantly safer than the front seat for an unrestrained passenger. Crash studies show that for teenage and adult passengers, the fatality rates are almost the same for unrestrained front-seat and back-seat occupants. And compared to a back-seat occupant wearing a seat belt, you’re eight times more likely to get injured or die in a crash if you’re sitting in the rear seat unrestrained.

Can the Insurance Company Deny My Injury Claim Because I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

Sometimes, we meet people who suffered catastrophic injuries because they weren’t wearing a seat belt during a car crash. These victims and their loved ones frequently face a lifetime of medical care and financial uncertainty due to their serious injuries.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Prove Fault After an Accident

For most personal injury claims, Alabama law imposes a standard called pure contributory negligence. This standard says that if an accident victim was even slightly at fault for their injuries, they cannot receive compensation. Thankfully, Alabama law makes a clear exception for cases that involve unrestrained drivers.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you can and should work with an attorney to recover compensation for your injuries, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt.

Are Some Seat Belt Types Safer Than Others?

Depending on the type of motor vehicle and its purpose, the vehicle may include any of several different seat belt types. Some of the most common types of seat belts include lap belts, sash belts, automatic seat belts, three-point belts, belt-in-seat (BIS), five-point harnesses, and six-point harnesses. However, not all seat belts offer the same level of protection.

  • Lap Belts

Lap belts are the oldest type of seat belt. A lap belt uses an adjustable strap that only goes across the waist. However, the lap belt design fails to restrain your torso, shoulders, head, or neck during a collision. Lap belts are rare in newer cars, although you’ll sometimes see a lap belt in the middle rear seat.

  • Sashes or Shoulder Belts

sash or shoulder belt is an adjustable strap that only goes over the shoulder of an occupant. These belts do a poor job of providing restraint during a crash, and they’ve been almost entirely phased out of existence in newer cars. During a collision, vehicle occupants can easily slide out of a shoulder belt and suffer catastrophic injuries.

  • Three-Point Belts

Most modern vehicles contain three-point seat belts. A single piece of nylon (or other material) stretches from the occupant’s shoulder, runs across the chest, and ends in a lap belt. When an impact occurs, these belts help spread out the energy of the moving body across the chest, pelvis, and shoulders.

  • Automatic Seat Belts

Some vehicles have shoulder belts that automatically move in place to secure the passenger when the vehicle starts. A separate lap belt is usually included, and the lap belt must be fastened manually. Once popular among automakers, automatic seat belts have fallen out of favor somewhat in newer cars.

  • Belt-in-Seat (BIS)

The BIS is a three-point harness in which the shoulder belt is attached to the backrest. Some studies have shown that this type of belt may provide additional protection during rollover accidents, particularly when a BIS is used to restrain a child between four and eight years old.

  • Five-Point Harness

A five-point harness is safer than other seat belts but also restricts movement more. This type of seat belt is usually used in child safety seats or in cars used for competitive racing. Some vehicle owners also install five-point harness belts as an aftermarket modification.

  • Six-Point Harness

A six-point harness is like a five-point harness, but it has an additional belt that goes between the legs. These belts are mostly used in racing and began to gain popularity after the tragic death of race car driver Dale Earnhardt, who was wearing a five-point harness at the time of his fatal crash.

RELATED ARTICLE: Three-Point Seat Belt Design

Who Is Responsible When a Seat Belt Malfunctions?

Sometimes, seat belts fail to do their jobs. When a seat belt fails, it’s important to identify the causes of the malfunction and demand accountability. Sometimes, a crash victim will have product liability claims related to a faulty seat belt in addition to liability claims against a negligent driver.

For example, suppose you were at a four-way stop when another driver failed to yield the right of way and T-boned your car. During the collision, your seat belt broke and you were thrown from the vehicle. Under these circumstances, you might have a claim not only against the reckless driver but also against the companies that designed, manufactured, and installed the defective seat belt.

RELATED ARTICLE: Mobile Personal Injury Lawyer Explains Defective Auto Product Liability Claims

If you know or suspect that your seat belt failed during the crash that injured you, then you should contact an experienced product liability lawyer right away. Your lawyer will need to act quickly to preserve the seat belt system and the vehicle as evidence.

In any product liability claim, your lawyer should work with a team of engineers and other experts to identify the cause of the product’s failure and determine who was responsible. However, it’s almost impossible to perform this analysis unless you’ve preserved the relevant evidence, so it’s critical to act quickly and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: We Fight for Alabama Car Accident Victims

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we offer free legal consultations to Alabama crash victims. During your consultation, an experienced attorney from our legal team will listen to your story, review the details of your claim, and talk with you about your rights and options.

To schedule your free case evaluation, fill out our quick online contact form or call us at 251-888-8888.

References

Policy impact: Seat belts. (2014, January 21). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief/index.html

Unbelted: Adults admit they often skip belts in rear seat. (2017, August 3). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/52/5/1

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.