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Teen Drivers and Summer

Teen drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 account for just a little over 6% of the drivers on roads in the United States. Parents provide teenagers with cars because they want their kids to be independent and not rely on them to get around. Unfortunately, this newfound independence can have consequences. Teenagers lack the ability to recognize hazardous driving situations and often forego caution when they’re driving and end up taking unnecessary risks. That’s why they’re more likely to get into accidents than experienced adults.

Some Facts Regarding Teen Driving

• In 2013, there were around 2,524 teenage fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents.
• Around 120 deaths happened when a motorcycle was involved in the accident.
• Around 55% of the high school students surveyed confirmed that they wore seatbelts when they drove.
• Around 22% of the teens surveyed admitted that they rode with a driver who had drunk alcohol.
• June (summer) had the highest number of car accident fatalities among teens. 260 individuals died in 2013 for this reason.

As you can see, teenagers are involved in an alarmingly high number of accidents and many of them involve fatalities or severe injuries. Even the most responsible teenagers give in to the temptation to go past the speed limit or check their phones while driving.

Teen drivers don’t just place themselves in risk, but also everyone else present on the road and inside the vehicle. A recent study conducted by AAA or American Automobile Association concluded that 10 people die as a result of teen driving accidents every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most of these accidents happen because the teenager is distracted during driving.

What is Driver Distraction?

A driver can be distracted by a number of things inside and outside the vehicle. Adult drivers learn to keep their attention focused on the road and on their vehicles but they too can also get distracted. Teenagers are more prone to driver distraction than adults; that, coupled with a teenager’s tendency to be reckless while driving in general can lead to serious accidents. Many speculate that around 60% of accidents involving teenage drivers are caused due to driver distraction. Here are some facts that support that:

• In a nationwide survey, about 32% of high school students admitted that they texted or sent an email while they were driving.
• 56% of the teens surveyed admitted that they spoke on their cell phone while at the wheel.
• 34% of individuals between the age of 16 and 17 admit that they send or respond to messages while driving.
• 48% of individuals between the ages of 12 to 17 admitted that they were present in the car when the driver was distracted by texts and messages.

According to research, talking on cell phones can significantly slow the reaction time down and doubles the chances of an accident. Teenagers are likely to respond as slowly as 70-year old drivers if they’re distracted by a phone call.

Teen Drivers and Underage Alcohol Consumption

Teenagers can be reckless and take risks and the presence of alcohol in their system only aggravates this. According to the non-profit organization MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving):

• Around 25% of all teen car accidents with fatalities involve underage drinking while driving.
• Nearly 6% of individuals of the age 16 and 17 admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
• Over 15% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
• 13% of students in 12th grade admitted to driving under the influence.
• According to a survey conducted by the CDC, 17% of young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 in fatal vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher, which is considered the legal limit for people over the age of 21.

Underage drinking is also more likely to happen during summer when teenagers attend parties, sleepovers, and go out on trips together.

The Connection Between Summer and Teenage Accidents

Summer is considered the worst time for teen driving and this time is also known as “100 Deadliest Days for Teenage Driving”. Teenagers consider summer a time for freedom and fun. They consider themselves free from responsibilities and use their vehicles for more than just to drive to the local mall to go to school. Teenagers drive farther and go on longer trips during summer because they have more time on their hands.

This increases the likelihood of them being involved in accidents and being reckless. Parents need to be extra vigilant and communicate with their children, especially during summer. Experts have observed that regular communication between parents and teenagers regarding driver’s safety can encourage them to be more cautious and not indulge in as many risky behaviors.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents of teenagers can minimize the chances of teen accidents by teaching their children good driving habits and being aware of the risks involved. Here are some steps parents can take:

• Come to an Agreement – Before handing the teenager keys to their new car, parents can discuss some basic rules to follow. For example, parents can come to an agreement with their children that the car keys will be taken away if they text while driving.

• Switching Cell Phones or other devices Off – Parents can encourage their children to switch the device off and place it in the center console while driving. That’ll ensure they’re not distracted by calls or message ringtones.

• Music – Most teenagers use apps like Spotify or Pandora. Parents can encourage them to use the car’s existing system instead as that’ll minimize the likelihood of distraction and accidents.

Parents can also drive with their children and be in the passenger’s seat. They can teach safe driving techniques and encourage driving awareness.

What Can You Do?

If you’re involved in an accident with a teen driver, be sure to contact the authorities and get legal assistance immediately. A lawyer will protect your interests and ensure the case is handled fairly for all parties involved.

Trucking Accidents in Indiana

Trucking Accidents in Indiana

Trucks are massive vehicles and often travel at high speeds on the highways. Not surprisingly, accidents can happen –  and when they do occur, they can be very serious and lead to extensive injuries or fatalities of the victims. A collision with a fast-moving truck can send smaller vehicles flying and cause devastating consequences.

Many truck drivers travel over vast distances during the night, which also increases the risk of accidents. Driver fatigue, carelessness and poor safety visibility can cause a number of issues. In order to avoid accidents and the resultant liability, truck drivers are required to make sure their trucks are visible on the road.

Why is Visibility Such a Concern?

Even large vehicles, like trucks, can be almost invisible on a dark road at night. These trucks may be travelling through remote areas that aren’t as well-controlled or well-lit as city street. If there are no reflectors or lights to improve visibility, the trucks can pose a risk to other vehicles on the road. If the trucks have the necessary safety visibility stripes and reflectors on them, they’ll be visible from a distance, so other drivers on the road can take appropriate steps to drive more cautiously on the road or steer out of the way.

In fact, trucks without proper lights and reflectors are three times more likely to get involved in accidents. If a truck is not properly marked, the owner may be liable if an accident occurs. Even if the accident is someone else’s fault, the truck driver can be held liable if they don’t have proper safety and visibility markings on your vehicle.

Truck drivers are also required to follow certain safety procedures. They need safety visibility if their truck becomes disabled or stalls in the middle of the road and they have to park it. They must get the truck completely off the road and away from on-coming traffic and also ensure other drivers can see their parked truck – that it is visible to other drivers from a distance, so they can slow down in order to pass it safely.

Truck drivers are required to place the visible signs around the truck to establish a safe perimeter. This is to ensure that all other vehicles can pass by safely, and it minimizes the risk of collisions.

Truck Drivers are Required by Law to Follow Certain Safety Measures

When truck drivers stop on the roadsides or stall on the road, the drivers are legally required to follow a set procedure and park their vehicle in a specific manner. Most trucking companies must properly train their drivers carefully to ensure they follow these procedures. These drivers also attend refresher courses to ensure they remember their legal obligations and know how to secure their vehicles well.

Here are some of the safety measures truck drivers must take in order to avoid being a danger to other motorists:

• The truck driver must switch on their emergency hazard lights to ensure that the stalled truck is visible from a long distance.

• The truck driver then must set up three physical warning signs around the truck. These signs should be spaced according to the flow of traffic and length of the road, to get maximum visibility. This warns approaching drivers of the truck’s presence so they know to proceed with caution.

• The truck drivers must also place triangle-shaped reflectors on the vehicle in visible areas. These reflectors are red in color and made of plastic. Drivers are required to carry them in their trucks to ensure they’re always available in case of an emergency.

• Alternatively, drivers can also use roadside flares. These flares are bright and highly visible as they produce active flames.

If truck drivers fail to follow these safety precautions, they may be held liable for any accidents that occur as a result.

Why Reflector Tapes are Essential

According to a study conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reflector tapes are responsible for a 44% drop in accident rates in passenger vehicles as well as tractor trailers. This study can be easily applied to trucks and semi trucks as well. Semi trucks and vehicles with extended trailers need to have sufficient reflector tape on them.

If the other drivers on the same road can see the dimensions of the truck and the trailer as they approach behind it, they will know just how big it is, and that will help them drive around the vehicle more safely. Reflector tape should be affixed on top of the trailers, around the doors and windows, along the length of the trailer and truck, as well as along the back. These tapes reflect light so they will be easily visible when the lights of an oncoming vehicle shine on them.

What Should You Do If You’re Involved in an Accident with a Tractor-Trailer?

If you’re involved in an accident, you need to make sure you protect your interests. If your are physically able, you should call the authorities immediately and secure your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in a safe place to avoid other accidents.

Once you are able to call the authorities, call a lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases. Oftentimes, trucking companies, or their insurance carriers will send experts to the scene as soon as possible to begin taking photographs and preserving evidence. If you are able, you should take your own photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved.

Finally, never settle your case with the trucking company or their insurance carrier until you have spoken to an experienced accident attorney.  Trucking companies usually have good legal professionals on hand. If you are in an accident with a truck driver, find a legal professional to represent you before you speak to the trucking company or their legal team.

A legal professional will help determine liability and ensure both parties can come to a fair settlement.

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Are you thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana?

You’ve been in an accident or experienced injury due to the negligence of another person. The hospital bills are mounting, and you have no idea how you will pay them. You’re taking medication for the pain and are unable to work. What should you do? Your first step is to consult with a personal injury attorney who will review your situation and determine the best course of action.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit or Insurance Claim?

Personal injury comes in many forms: car accidents, falls, defective products, etc. Before filing a lawsuit, you may be advised to check into filing a claim instead. This should occur before a suit is considered.

The claims process consists of a series of negotiations that take place between you and the claims adjuster of the negligent party’s insurance company. The goal is to arrive at a monetary settlement that satisfies both parties. If such an agreement cannot be reached, it’s time to consult with a personal injury attorney to file the suit.

There are a number of reasons why a compromise can’t be reached in a personal injury claim. Perhaps the claims adjuster denies the insured caused the accident or disagrees with the severity of the injuries you sustained. The insurance company may also refuse to pay the monetary amount you are requesting. This is where an accident attorney can help.

Costs to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit

Before filing a lawsuit, you should be aware of the costs involved. Often times, a negotiated settlement is preferable to a trial because it saves you money. Trials can also be lengthy, which can result in an interruption in pay due to more time requested off work.

Expenses of filing a personal injury lawsuit can include:

• Filing fees
• Serving costs
• Lost wages as a result of time away from work
• Costs of depositions and transcripts recorded by a court reporter
• Expert testimonies from medical officials for depositions and trial
• Costs of acquiring medical records, police reports, witness statements, etc.

It is often tempting to file a suit because you are unhappy with the amount of money offered by the insurance company. This, alone, is not a reason to choose this route. Before making the decision to file, carefully consider the potential costs and time associated with going to court. Some injuries may not be serious enough to merit a trial, and you could wind up spending more than you receive in damages.

An injury is considered serious when it causes damage that is either permanent, or that limits one’s ability to perform daily activities for a certain amount of time. These types of injuries include:

• Dismemberment
Death
• Fractures
• Significant scarring or disfigurement
• A body organ that is limited or altogether dysfunctional

Arbitration for Personal Injury

Arbitration is another option to consider before filing a personal injury suit. Here, both sides agree to present their case to a third party called an arbiter who then decides the outcome. The costs are much lower than those associated with a trial, and the process doesn’t take as long because the hearing can be set more quickly.

Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuit in Indiana

The time limit for filing a personal injury suit is called the statute of limitations. Failing to file before that time limit expires will result in losing your right to sue. If this occurs, you may not re-coop any damages you are seeking.

In the state of Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years. This time limit typically begins on the date the accident occurs. You’ll want to make note of both the time limit and date on which it began when contacting an Indianapolis personal injury attorney.

Comparative Fault

There is a comparative fault rule in Indiana that applies to injured persons who are found to be partly at fault for the incident or accident that led to his or her injuries. This serves to reduce or eliminate damages, depending on how much fault is assigned the injured person.

Indiana’s comparative fault rule works in this way. Suppose you are driving just over the speed limit when another car turns in front of you, causing impact. It is determined you share 25 percent of the fault, and the other driver is responsible for 75 percent. In this case, the damages you are awarded would be reduced by 25 percent. If your fault is found to be 50 percent or more, you will be prohibited from collecting damages from another at-fault party.

Auto Insurance Laws

When it comes to automobile accident claims, Indiana is a “fault” or “at-fault” state. This gives an injured party multiple options. The injured person can file a claim with his or her own insurance company, file a claim with another driver’s insurance company, making it a third-party claim, or seek damages in court. In this type of insurance settlement negotiation, the threat of going to court can be used as a bargaining tool even if a lawsuit is never filed. You can always consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you make the right decision.

Conclusion

Before filing any lawsuit, do your homework carefully. An Indianapolis personal injury attorney can provide you with the legal information you’ll need to decide which solution is best for you. The time following an accident or other type of personal injury is always stressful, especially when medical bills are involved, but the decision to file should never be taken lightly. You should consider the situation from all angles before entering into such a costly endeavor. However, if your injuries are serious enough, seeking damages may be the most appropriate route for you to take.

If you have been injured in an accident or incident involving another party, call Goodin Abernathy immediately to learn more about your legal options.

Holiday Season – Drinking & Traveling Contribute to More Accidents

Holiday Season – Drinking & Traveling Contribute to More Accidents

We want you to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, so here are a few things to think about before the celebrations begin.

According to NHTSA Highway Safety Funding , there were 821 crashes involving fatalities in Indiana in 2015 – with 178 of them being alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.

Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the most popular holiday for Americans to travel to visit family and friends. Blackout Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest drinking days of the year. Combine the biggest drinking day with the highest travel holiday, and accidents are bound to happen.

Being both a major holiday (one where government services, such as the Post Office and local libraries shut down and many employers give time off) and occurring on a weekday, the number of auto accidents that occur on Thanksgiving day are much more consistent than for other holidays, like Christmas and New Year’s. These two latter holidays see fluctuations largely based on whether they occur on a weekend or a weekday.

The increase in the number of auto accidents is partly rooted in the substantial (more than 50 percent) increase in traffic on the roads. But it is also pushed up due to an increase in the incidence of drinking and driving. Holiday celebrations and family gatherings often involve the consumption of alcohol.

Sadly, drinking and driving often hurts more than just the drunken driver. Although a car crash can involve a single vehicle, many of them involve two or more vehicles. Even if it’s a single car accident, there may be passengers on board. In either of these cases, other parties are also subjected to personal injury caused by drunk driver.

Although everyone is aware that it is a problem to drink and drive, far fewer people think about other risks that drinking can cause – i.e. poor impulse control and people saying or doing things they wouldn’t normally say or do. What might normally be a calm exchange of words between those of differing opinions, can escalate to full-blown physical altercations – in public or at family gatherings- resulting in personal injury or even death.

You cannot control the actions of others, whether on the road or off, but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of injury for yourself, loved ones and guests this holiday season. Here are a few tips to make this a safer season:

• Volunteer to be the Designated Driver
• If you are hosting, stop serving alcohol an hour before the party ends.
• If you plan to drink, arrange alternate transportation home beforehand. This prevents you from needing to make an important judgment call while under the influence.
• If you are hosting, help guests arrange alternate transportation or let them stay the night rather than letting them get behind the wheel after a night of drinking.
• Most alcohol related accidents occur between midnight and 3 a.m., so avoid the roads during those hours this holiday season.
• End your party by 11:30 p.m. so your guests can get home before midnight, therefore helping them avoid being on the roads during the most dangerous hours.
• Host holiday events that do not revolve around alcohol. Promote good food and sober good times as an alternative.
• If there is unpleasant history with certain individuals, think through how to avoid having this turn into a fight at a party or family gathering before you run into them.

Remember, most accidents do not “just happen.”  Drinking and traveling contribute to more accidents. A high percentage of accidents are really a case of failure to think things through or to plan ahead. If you know you will be drinking this holiday season, or spending time with others who are drinking (especially those whom which you do not get along), plan beforehand how to handle it, so it is less likely to end in tragedy.

Of course, even if you do everything right, other people can still be the cause of tragedy, especially on the roads. If an altercation results in injury or there is a personal injury caused by drunk driver, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Soft tissue injuries are not always readily apparent, so do not think you are fine just because you seem fine at the moment of the event.

Many insurance companies look for a reason to deny a claim, rather than looking for reason to approve and pay. Waiting can cause you to forget pertinent details and it can allow evidence to disappear.

Often times, an initial legal consultation is free, so do not hesitate to start a paper trail, just in case. Right now would be a good time to put a few phone numbers on a business card and stick it in your wallet. Be prepared and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

We Come to You

We Come to You

Our Clients Come From All Over Indiana

Our experienced personal injury attorneys are currently accepting injury and wrongful death lawsuits all over the State of Indiana in all 92 counties. With today’s modern technology, distances do not create obstacles for representing our clients whether they are – from Terre Haute, Richmond, Evansville or Ft. Wayne, or any of the other great cities and towns in between.

We Come To You

Although we are conveniently located on the north side of Indianapolis, we don’t require that our clients come to us. Our central Indiana location may be convenient for you, but if not, we are happy to come to you to discuss your personal injury case. In fact, many of our meetings with clients take place at the kitchen tables or the living rooms of hard-working Hoosiers all across the state of Indiana. We will gladly do the same for you. Our consultations are free, and there is no obligation if you decide not to hire us to be your lawyers.

Knowledge of Local Ordinances

With vast experience helping injured Hoosiers throughout all parts of Indiana, we have gained extensive knowledge of not only Indiana law, but the local ordinances of communities all over the state. This can be significant in various types of cases from automobile accidents to vicious dog bites.

Wherever You Are, Contact Us

We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please call our toll free number 1-800-625-4710 or reach us locally at (317) 572- 8052 to speak with an attorney. If you prefer, you can send us a message via our website: www.GoodinAbernathy.com. We look forward to meeting you and earning the opportunity to by your lawyer.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Too often I see clients come in with serious injuries after they have been struck by a vehicle carrying no or very limited liability insurance.  The first question I ask is how much Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM) they have through their own insurance carrier.  More often than not, I receive a blank stare in response.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is coverage you purchase to protect yourself from uninsured or under-insured drivers.  If you are seriously injured in a car accident or by a motor vehicle, the wrongdoer may not have enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate you for your injuries.  The law requires, unless you specifically waive it, that UM/UIM coverage be a part of your car insurance policy.  This is excellent protection against those in our society who do not play by the rules or who have little to no assets to protect.  The best part though?  It’s cheap coverage!  For just a few dollars a year you can increase your UM/UIM coverage to help protect yourself on the roadways.

So talk to your insurance agent about UM/UIM coverage and make sure you have enough coverage to protect you if you are injured by a driver without adequate insurance.  If you have an umbrella policy, make sure it includes UM/UIM coverage, as well.

If you have been injured by a motor vehicle and have been told the wrongdoer has little or no insurance coverage, call our Indianapolis injury attorneys today to set up a free consultation and discuss making a UM/UIM claim.

 

*Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net