Teen driver deaths, fueled largely by speeding and distraction, were up 10 percent last year, according to two recently released studies. teens

While the number of teen driving-related deaths has been slashed by nearly half, from 8,250 in 2005 to 4,270 in 2014, last year saw one of the first increases in a decade. In the last five years, according to the AAA auto club, there were 14,000 fatal crashes involving teens. Nearly 33 percent of those involved drivers who were speeding. Also, according to the newest figures released from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of motorists killed in teen driver crashes increased from 4,272 in 2014 to 4,689 last year. These accidents all involve teen drivers, but the deaths include passengers, persons in other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In fact, more than two-thirds of those killed in teen driver crashes were someone other than the teen driver.

Teens are among the most vulnerable drivers on the road. They lack experience. They often lack an understanding of the serious danger they face – and the great caution they must exercise.

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In most car accidents, the immediate cause is usually pretty easy to identify. However, when there are multiple vehicles involved, and perhaps even multiple accidents, determining causative factors and who is at fault can be more difficult. truck

Highway accidents especially pose significant traffic hazards due to debris and road blockage. This not only impedes the ability of rescuers to arrive quickly, but also it puts other unsuspecting motorists at risk for subsequent accidents.

In the recent case of Ready v. RWI Transportation, the question before the Mississippi Supreme Court was whether one crash could cause another crash, despite occurring one hour later and three-fourths of a mile away. The trial court in this instance granted summary judgment to the defense, and the state high court affirmed.

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Federal investigators examining the root cause of a recent school bus accident that resulted in the death of six adults in Maryland determined there were no mechanical issues with the bus. However, they did find the driver had been – at least at one time in the not-too-distant past – taking medication for treatment of seizures. school bus

Local police in Baltimore said in their concurrent investigation they are trying to determine whether the 67-year-old driver may have suffered some type of medical emergency on the morning of the crash. Preliminary results show that the bus rear-ended a Mustang passenger vehicle before careening into oncoming traffic and slamming into a bus operated by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). The school bus driver, the MTA operator, and four passengers on the MTA bus were killed in the crash. Nearly a dozen people suffered serious injuries.

A police spokesman told The Baltimore Sun that the school employee’s driving record and health history are a significant part of the investigation. The school district disclosed the driver recently passed a department-required physical exam. However, the worker had not yet offered up documentation to the state vehicle administration proving he was in good health. For this reason, he’d lost his commercial driving privileges. Certainly, these issues will become central to any wrongful death lawsuits that will be filed against the school district or the city. Although suing government entities can be a challenge, and damages are typically capped, cases like this often result in settlements before ever making it to trial.

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We live in a society that has become very fluid. Not everyone stays in the city where they grew up. Many people don’t even grow up in one place. The U.S. Census Bureau reports approximately 15 percent of the population moves annually. Most move somewhere in the same county, although about 7.6 million move out of state. Many of those who move are younger. While about four percent of those over 65 will move to a new county, about 30 percent of those in their 20s make the choice. car interior

Moving can have a lot of implications for many aspects of your life, not the least of which is auto insurance. The question of whether you need to get new auto insurance if you move out of state is almost always answered yes. You usually have between one and three months to register your vehicle, and you should use this time to make sure you have appropriate car insurance coverage. You should never cancel your old policy before setting up a new one. Be aware too that your policy could change after you relocate – even if you end up staying with the same insurer.

The case of Martin v. Gray highlights how a recent move could complicate matters with regard to your auto insurance coverage if you’re involved in a crash.

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Med-Pay in North Carolina offers a source of optional auto insurance coverage to motorists in the event they are injured. Generally, it’s low-level coverage for medical and funeral costs for the occupants of an insured vehicle. North Carolina Med-Pay coverage typically covers up to $1,000 or $2,000 in costs, although customers can ask for more coverage. It is usually the first source of coverage for those involved in a crash, and it is offered on a no-fault basis, meaning you don’t have to prove the other driver caused the crash. car crash

Similar programs exist throughout the country, although some are known as Personal Injury Protection plans, or PIP benefits. A similar program exists in Colorado, where an important question was raised before the state supreme court about whether benefits should be deducted from subsequent awards received for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. UM/UIM coverage is afforded to those insureds who:

  • Purchase UM/UIM benefits;
  • Were injured in an auto accident caused by another driver; and
  • Can prove the other driver was not insured or lacked enough insurance to cover his or her related injuries.

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Last month, a California bus crash killed 13 people, including the driver, as they returned to L.A. from a gambling trip. The bus collided with a big rig on the freeway, resulting in one of the deadliest crashes in the state’s history. Now, investigators are working to sort through the pieces as family members are still reeling. In the weeks since the crash, the L.A. Times reports some troubling information has been unearthed about the driving history of the man who was behind the wheel, as well as the safety practices of his company. (He worked as both a bus owner and an operator.)bus

Both of these elements will likely play a central role in any wrongful death lawsuits that are filed.

According to the Times, the driver had been previously named a defendant in at least two civil lawsuits alleging negligence resulting in two collisions. One of those crashes had resulted in three deaths. Furthermore, the California Highway Patrol had issued at least six “unsatisfactory” ratings to his company, along with numerous traffic violations in several counties.

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Expert witnesses are a key component in many complex personal injury cases. They can make or break a claim with rational, compelling analysis and explanations. Securing and presenting expert witness testimony is often a complex process. In fact, there are some situations in which expert witnesses you may have initially wanted to testify don’t ultimately reach conclusions that are favorable to your case. In these instances, you can rescind them. However, one must be careful because, in some cases, the opposing side may seek to depose or utilize that same expert witness.car accident

This was the case in State ex rel. Malashock v. The Honorable Michael T. Jamison, a matter before the Missouri Supreme Court involving a personal injury plaintiff who alleged a defectively designed utility terrain vehicle caused him serious injuries when the vehicle overturned, and the roof failed.

Before the trial started, the plaintiff designated four expert witnesses. One of those became the subject of this appeal. This expert was slated to testify regarding the performance of the utility terrain vehicle at various speeds, the forces involved in the crash, and the factors that would affect the performance of the vehicle. The “expert witness” designation never offered up the witness’ analysis or his conclusions on any issues in the case.

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court has affirmed the judgments of two lower courts in finding a plaintiff who was seriously injured and lost his wife to a drunk driver could not obtain damages from either:

  • The police agency whose employee arrested the defendant the night before for drunk driving; or
  • The tow truck company that released the defendant’s vehicle to him that morning, some two hours before the fatal crash.motorcycle

According to court records in Weaver v. Stewart, the plaintiff and his wife were riding their motorcycles at around noon one day in June 2010 when they were struck by a vehicle that had driven the wrong way into oncoming traffic. The plaintiff was seriously injured. His wife died. It was later determined the driver of the wrong-way car was intoxicated, as evidenced by the fact he exhibited signs of impairment and failed a field sobriety test. Investigating officers found illegally obtained Xanax in his back seat. Toxicology reports indicated numerous drugs – including Xanax – were in his blood system at the time of the collision.

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The Utah Supreme Court has just given the green light to a plaintiff/defendant suing herself for damages following the death of her husband, who died of injuries suffered in a single-vehicle car accident. The plaintiff, 55, was the one driving at the time of the wreck.gavel

In Bagley v. Bagley, Barbara Bagley is the allegedly negligent driver who is facing a wrongful death lawsuit, filed by herself as the widow and representative of her late husband’s estate.

Although the case is unusual, what it really involves is collecting insurance money to which the decedent would have been entitled. As a widow who suffered the untimely loss of her husband, she is grappling with medical expenses, funeral expenses, and creditors. A number of legal analysts have weighed in, and the consensus is that more than likely, the plaintiff isn’t going to profit from the outcome. Instead, this is about recovering certain losses. At most, according to her own injury attorney, quoted by The Telegraph, she is hoping to maybe cover the cost of the headstone.

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A recent Tennessee Supreme Court case asked the question of whether a rental car can qualify as an “uninsured motor vehicle” under a policy. In Martin v. Powers, the court held that it could.parking lot

That’s great news for the plaintiff, who was struck by the driver of a rental car and subsequently sought coverage under his own uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle insurance policy. It means that if the plaintiff is able to prove the defendant rental car driver was negligent and caused his injuries, he’ll be able to collect from the UM/UIM policy.

This is an area of law that is complex because duties and legal requirements for rental car companies have changed so much in recent years. It used to be that rental car companies could be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their driving customers. However, a federal statute known as the Graves Amendment, 49 U.S.C. 30106, created a preemption and abolition of any state law or common law precedent that allowed leasing agencies or rental car companies to be held vicariously liable for a driver’s negligence – except when the owner was personally negligent or engaged in some criminal action. So, for example, a rental car company might be liable for injuries caused by its failure to address a maintenance issue in its fleet or for renting to an unlicensed driver. However, the company probably wouldn’t be liable for renting to a licensed driver who later drove drunk.

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