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San Jose personal injury attorneyGetting into a car accident can be terrifying. In the moments after an accident, most people are not considering the financial cost the accident will bring. However, after the accident is over and their injuries have been treated, the question of expense arises. If you have been hit by a distracted driver, you may wonder whether or not you have a valid personal injury claim. There are many factors which can contribute to the success or failure of accident injury claims. If you have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, read on to learn more.

Drivers Texting and Driving Are Usually Considered Negligent

Texting and driving has become a serious danger in the United States. A shocking number of car accidents are directly linked to distracted, including texting or otherwise using a cell phone while driving. The statistics involving the dangers of distracted driving are sobering. Over 1000 people are injured every day in traffic accidents involving a distracted driver and approximately nine individuals die from these accidents each day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving at any one point in the day. Texting and driving is expressly illegal in California. The Wireless Communications Device Law states that drivers must not write, send, or read text messages while driving. Bluetooth technology or other hands-free devices may be used by drivers 18 years old and older, but certain restrictions still apply. If you can prove that the diver who hit you was illegally using his or her phone or other electronic device when the accident occurred, you will likely have a successful personal injury suit. 

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San Jose personal injury attorneyWhen you have been hurt in a car accident, you may be facing a myriad of challenges, including recovering from your injuries, getting back to work, and generally dealing with the aftermath of the crash. Unfortunately, things can become even more difficult when the insurance companies get involved.

While insurance coverage is a consideration in virtually every car accident, it is not uncommon for carriers to offer much less than you would need to start putting your life back together properly. Insurance companies are well-known for their “lowball” settlement offers that seek to minimize their payouts and avoid costly litigation.

Protecting Yourself from Insurance Companies

If you were injured in a crash and are in the process of negotiating with an adjuster—either from your own insurer or that of the party who caused your accident—it is important to keep in mind that:

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San Jose personal injury attorneysFor years now, public awareness campaigns have been reinforcing the inherent danger of cell phone use while driving. In fact, one could argue that the war against texting and driving is nearly equivalent to the anti-drunk driving efforts of the 1980’s. Today, 47 states and the District of Columbia have instituted complete bans on texting while driving, while Texas and Missouri maintain bans for younger drivers. Only Montana and Arizona have no laws prohibiting such mobile device use. However, a new study suggests that simply hearing a cell phone notification may be just as distracting as actually using the device.

Interesting Research

Conducted by researchers at Florida State University, the study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Lead author Cary Stothart and his team examined the impact to an individual’s attention caused by a cell phone notification—either an audible tone or vibration—while performing a task that demanded concentration. Using a non-driving computer project, test subjects were asked to perform an attention-intensive task twice. During the second round, participants received either a call, a text, or no notification, but were not permitted answer the call or read the message. The subjects were not aware that the texts and calls were part of the study.

According to the team’s results, participants who received notifications were three times more likely to make mistakes on the task that those that did not receive a call or text. Those who received calls were the most distracted of any group. When compared with similar studies related to actual cell phone use, the effect of the simple notification was found to very comparable to the distraction created by talking on the phone or texting.

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San Jose car accident attorneyAccording to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2 and 3 million Americans experience an auto accident injury that requires emergency medical attention each year. Overall, that same care is expected to cost victims some $18 billion throughout the course of their lives. Those accidents also cost victims about $33 billion in lifetime employment earnings.

While not all accidents can be prevented, there are ways that victims can mitigate their risks. This is especially true when it comes to reducing the risk of serious injury—and it all starts with choosing the right vehicle for you and/or your family.

Using Safety Ratings to Choose Your Vehicle

Safety ratings come from all kinds of sources, but not all are unbiased or reliable. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests and rates cars, but the agency only sets mandatory standards. In contrast, the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a non-government agency. They are actually funded mostly by insurance companies, so they have a good reason to keep drivers safe behind the wheel.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

Santa Clara County personal injury attorneyGetting into a car accident can have devastating consequences for those in the vehicles affected. Astoundingly, almost 1.3 million people die each year in car accidents and an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. Whenever a person gets into a vehicle, they are taking a risk. Drivers can lessen the risk that they will get into an accident by never driving after consuming drugs or alcohol, avoiding distractions like cell phones, and keeping a lookout for careless drivers. There are many things that can trigger a car accident, but you may be surprised as to the main causes of such accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a more serious problem every year. Having the world at our fingertips on a cell phone has made it more tempting than ever to take your eyes off of the road. The National Safety Council reports that 1.6 million crashes each year are caused by distracted drivers. In fact, distracted driving is so dangerous that 1 out of 4 of all car accidents are caused by it.

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San Jose personal injury attorneyThis is a busy time of year for many of us. Whether celebrating Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Christmas, millions of Americans will be traveling by car this holiday season, putting you and your family at an increased risk of getting into a car accident. The National Safety Council estimates that there were about 300 traffic fatalities last year and 37,000 injuries due to traffic accidents during the days surrounding Christmas of 2016.  Every time that a person gets into a vehicle, they are taking a risk, but there are steps you can take in order to mitigate that risk.

Experts encourage drivers to make sure that their car is properly maintained. If you are going to drive a long distance this holiday season, it is a good idea to take the car to a service station to be inspected. Check the tires for correct air pressure and ensure that the tires still have adequate tread depth. Top off all the fluids in the car and replace old or worn out wiper blades. Ensure that the car’s battery is working correctly. It is also a good idea to be prepared with an emergency car kit. In it, place extra phone chargers, blankets, flashlights, batteries, flares, reflective markers, water, snacks, and tools. Check your route and be aware of increased traffic patterns and accidents due to the holiday rush.

If You Get into an Accident, Take These Steps

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San JOse distracted driving accident lawyerAccording to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving behaviors such as reading a text, making a call, or simply changing the radio station while driving causes at least 12 percent of car accidents worldwide and 14 percent of U.S accidents. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology has shed even more light on the subject. Ole Johansson, a researcher at Norway's Institute of Transport Economics, led the study that sought to identify which demographic of people was most likely to engage in dangerous distracted driving.

A Revealing Survey

Young men, frequent drivers, and those with neurotic and extroverted personalities were found to be the most likely to be dangerously distracted while driving. Older women were the least likely group of people to be distracted. The researchers acknowledged that their findings might be slightly skewed, however, because their method relied on self-reporting.

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San Jose personal injury attorneyGetting into a car accident is a terrible experience for anyone. Being the victim of a hit and run can be even more devastating. A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information. This can include when a car hits you and then speeds away or when a driver hits your parked car and leaves no contact information. Many victims of hit and run accidents are unsure of how to get compensation for their damages and injuries.

Collect Information and Gather Evidence

The first step to take after you have been involved in a hit and run is to collect as much information as you can. If possible, take note of the car and driver who hit you. Write down the model, make, and color of the car. Write down the license plate number or snap a picture of it if you have time. Note the time and location of the accident. Collecting this information helps the police find the person who hit you as well as help your car insurance company to make decisions about your claim.

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San Jose personal injury attorneyOver the last week, national headlines have been abuzz with the story of an 18-year-old California woman who was broadcasting a video live to social media while behind the wheel. During the course of filming the video, she lost control of her car, resulting in an accident that killed the woman’s sister—and the whole thing was immediately posted to Instagram.

Despite warning after warning and countless advertisements and public safety messages, some drivers cannot seem to resist the temptation to use their cell phones while driving. Many convince themselves that it is fine to send a quick text message or read an email. In reality, however, using a hand-held cell phone while driving is simply unsafe.

Fatal Accident in Los Banos

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hit-and-run victim, San Jose personal injury attorneyMore accidents occur each year in California than in any other state. However, there are also more people in California than in any other states. Of these car accidents, hit-and-run occurrences happen at an alarming rate—about 20,000 cases each year as reported by the California Highway Patrol. Many victims are left each year with a significant financial burden and no one to pay. Who pays the bill in these cases?

Your Options in The Golden State

During an ordinary traffic accident, the at-fault driver will stop, enabling their negligence to be confronted but preventing further legal difficulties. Strict laws are in place prohibiting leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging pertinent information. Although there are exceptions—leaving your information on a parked vehicle in a parking lot where the driver is unavailable—it is the responsibility of every driver to stop after their involvement in such an accident. However, not all drivers remain at the scene of a hit-and-run accident.

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San Jose car accident attorneysYou read that correctly; certain driving behaviors can actually increase your chances of being in a collision by four hundred percent. According to the California Highway Patrol, distracted driving behaviors--particularly the use of a cell phone--increases your chance of being in a car accident by 400 percent, and makes it 23 times more likely for you to be at risk for collision. Those are pretty astonishing statistics, but the fact that so many drivers continue to text and talk on their phones while driving sadly implies such driving behaviors are not taken very seriously.

Dangerous Driving Behaviors that Put You and Others in Harm’s Way

Sending one single text requires the average person 4.6 seconds of their time, and driving at 65 miles per hour and texting for a mere three seconds is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field completely blindfolded. Although using your cell phone in any way, shape, or form while behind the wheel is the most dangerous and the most commonly talked about distracted driving habit, other behaviors such as eating, interacting with other passengers, and fidgeting with the radio put you at serious risk for accident and injury as well.

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car accident deaths, San Jose wrongful death lawyerWhen you lose a loved one, there is nothing that can ever fully heal the broken hearts they leave behind. When a family member is killed in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, the only thing the law can offer for the loss is monetary damages. Even though no amount of money will ever bring your loved one back, you and your family may need the money you recover from damages to cover bills and provide future economic security.

Wrongful Death Claims

When you bring a claim for damages after the death a family member it is called a wrongful death claim. In California, a wrongful death claim can be brought through the probate court or by a qualifying family member individually.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_blog-race.jpgOn Nov. 14, three people were killed and two others were critically injured when a car plowed into spectators during a street race in the City of Commerce. The crash was reported at around 1 a.m.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the accident occurred at the intersection of South Malt Avenue and Telegraph Road, which is a hot spot for street racers. There were reportedly up to 100 vehicles gathered in the area when a car involved in the race struck a car that was doing donuts, causing the vehicles to careen into onlookers. Two Los Angeles men, ages 27 and 29, and a 15-year-old South Gate boy were killed in the collision. All three victims were said to be related. Two other people were transported to the hospital with critical injuries.

People who work nearby told the media that street racing is a constant problem in the area, which is an industrial park. Sheriff's deputies often run patrols in the area, but racers simply drive off and return when the coast is clear. Several people who visited the crash site memorial said that traffic lights or speed bumps should be installed to deter racers.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog-underage.jpgMany California residents may be familiar with the public service campaign that advised "friends don't let friends drive drunk," and recent surveys show around nine in 10 adults still recognize this phrase. The Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have again partnered on a campaign to discourage underage drinking and driving. In October 2015, a representative from the NHTSA presented the new campaign at a summit focused on safer driving for teens.

Teens in the United States are more likely to die in vehicle crashes than from any other cause, and NHTSA data reveals that nearly 25 percent of young drivers involved in fatal crashes had been consuming alcohol. The ads discouraging young people from drinking and driving were created by an ad agency for free and filmed entirely on an iPhone.

Previous campaigns for which the Ad Council and the NHTSA partnered led to some change in driver behavior. For example, in 2005, the two worked on a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while buzzed. More young men said they would opt to take a taxi, take public transportation or get a ride in the years after the campaign with the number increasing between 2005 and 2013 from 38 percent to 47 percent.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog-sleep.jpgSome California drivers may have experienced falling asleep while driving. In a 2015 survey conducted by the American Automobile Association, around 43 percent of drivers said that they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in their lives. Among drivers aged 19 to 24, 39.6 percent said that they had dropped off while behind the wheel in the past month, and in all age groups, almost one-third admitted to having done so.

A representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke during National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week at the Asleep at the Wheel forum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4. He said it is estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 fatalities happen annually due to drowsy driving.

He also stated that one in five major investigations conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board between 2001 and 2012 listed fatigue as a contributing cause. When limited to major highway investigations during that period, it was a contributing factor in nearly 40 percent of the accidents. Furthermore, in a 2010 study, AAA found that drowsy driving causes 16.5 percent of all fatal accidents.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

More crashes are the result of red-light running than drivers may realize, and it is a serious safety problem across the United States. California residents may be surprised to learn that about 165,000 people suffer injuries in such accidents each year around the country, and in 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 762 related fatalities.

In 1999, Old Dominion University in Virginia conducted a survey to generalize the type of drivers who are most likely to run red lights. The survey found that red-light runners are not necessarily frustrated at the time. They are generally young, are in a hurry, are driving alone and either have no children or have children who are younger than 20. They are also frequently unemployed or work jobs that require relatively little education, such as lower technology and blue collar jobs. Additionally, they often run red lights more than 2 miles from home and are more likely to have previously received a ticket for running a red light.

In May 2004, the NHTSA also conducted a survey that found that 97 percent of drivers think that people who run red lights are a major threat to traffic safety. Four years later, the agency found that an average seven deadly and 1,000 injury car accidents occur every day at intersections that have traffic lights. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that, in 2007, about 50 percent of the people who died in crashes that involved red-light runners were not the ones who violated traffic laws.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Drivers in California and around the country have access to vehicles that contain several technological advances that have helped to reduce the frequency of fatal car accidents. However, such incidents still are one of the significant causes of death to U.S. residents.

Every day the news is filled with stories about people being killed in car accidents, leading readers to believe motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in this country. That just isn't so. Deaths from car accidents have decreased by approximately a third over the past three years, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. According to 2013 data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people in the United States died from heart attacks that year, while one in 34 people died from alcohol or drug problems. Only one in 77 people died in car accidents, the same rate as those who were killed by firearms. Fire had the lowest death rate, with only one out of 821 people dying in fires.

Statistics are also available to show the jurisdictions that have the highest and lowest traffic death rates on a per capita basis. The three states that have the highest such rates are Montana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, while the District of Columbia has the lowest rate.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

Although roundabouts are meant to slow traffic down and prevent accidents, many people believe that they are not right for California. In Berkeley, a roundabout that was constructed on Gilman Street near Interstate 80 is thought to be causing accidents rather than preventing them. However, proponents of roundabouts argue that they just take getting used to and ultimately cause traffic to flow better.

According to traffic studies, roundabouts can prevent accidents in an area by up to 47 percent. Roundabouts have also been shown to reduce traffic delays by 23 percent. Cars going through roundabouts do not always need to come to a complete stop, and the time that is saved can result in a less clogged intersection. Pedestrians may be safer crossing the street near roundabouts because they only have to look out for cars traveling in one direction.

People who are opposed to roundabouts say that they should not be installed in areas where drivers travel at high speeds. When drivers approach a roundabout at 60 to 70 mph, they may come across signage that they do not understand and end up causing an accident. In areas with heavy traffic, it may be difficult for drivers in a roundabout to find a break in traffic so that they can make a turn.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

California drivers who find themselves in situations where visibility has dropped due to fog might be unaware of the dangers posed by these conditions. Because visibility can drop rapidly and because drivers often do not have enough time to react correctly, fog has been a factor in a number of serious crashes around the country over the years.

While research focusing on the role that foggy weather can play in a motor vehicle accident is limited, there have been studies that have addressed the issue. One found that drivers tend to approach foggy conditions in two ways. The study labeled drivers 'laggers" and 'non-laggers" and suggested that the majority of drivers fall into the non-lagger category, which posed its own set of dangers as non-laggers attempt to stay within view of lead cars ahead of them, which sometimes cause them to drive at unsafe speeds. Additionally, another study found that fog can make drivers underestimate just how closely they are following another vehicle, which means that in the event they have to brake to avoid a collision, they might not have enough time to do so.

One study also focused on identifying the location and time when accidents involving foggy weather were more likely to take place. The study found that incidents under these conditions tended to happen in the early hours of the day, in rural areas and during the winter months from December to February. These accidents also tended to be multi-vehicle accidents resulting in more serious injuries than crashes where visibility was not an issue.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents

California residents have probably heard about the General Motors recall of many vehicles that could have defective ignition switches, but some may be unaware of how these recalls might influence the legal system. Several past criminal cases are being looked at in light of the new knowledge of the problem.

In one case, a 25-year-old woman previously spent three months in jail for a one-to-two year sentence when losing control of her Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010, which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old male passenger. The authorities thought she was speeding, but the woman said that she was not and that the brakes and vehicle stopped working. The Chevrolet's ignition went into the accessory position, and there was no power for steering or braking. Additionally, the airbags did not deploy when a crash occurred. Instances like this sounded unbelievable before the news about faulty ignition switches, and the woman pleaded guilty to reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.

The woman's guilty plea was erased due to new evidence in August 2015, but this story highlights what some have gone through after unexplained accidents happened that now make sense due to vehicle recalls. GM knew about the ignition switch problem before issuing a public notice, and the company has created a fund to compensate those who suffered because of the defective ignition switches.

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Tagged in: Car Accidents
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