Drowsy Driving Prevention Week November 3-10, 2013

In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to save lives, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 3-10, 2013 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®.  Most of us realize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.

FedEx Truck Accident in West Virginia

In October, 2012 near Morgantown, WV a FedEx truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes shortly before 1 a.m. when the driver tried to make a U-turn to correct his direction. FedEx Truck Crash on I-79 The FedEx driver caused a truck accident when he struck a tractor-trailer which then crossed the median into the northbound lanes and crashed through a guardrail on the east edge of the road.  A passenger car traveling ahead of the tractor-trailer ran off the west edge of I-79 south, coming to rest against a guardrail.  Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured.  Three people were taken to the hospital, treated, and released.  The FedEx driver was from North Dakota and the semi-truck driver was from Arizona.

Early Morning Collision in Huntington WV:

More recently,  The Huntington Police Department is investigating a crash involving two tractor-trailer trucks which shut down all westbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Huntington.  Dispatchers received word of the crash at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013.

The crash involved a box truck owned by the U.S. Mail and a tanker truck carrying an unspecified substance. Dispatchers said the box truck overturned due to the crash’s impact and was leaking fuel from its tanks. One of the trucks also hit a bridge and knocked off a chunk of its concrete wall.
The accident happened at the 9.5-mile marker, located just east of the 5th Street Road exit in Huntington. Officials were diverting westbound traffic off the Hal Greer and 29th Street exits.
Thankfully, there were no reported injuries, and unlike a May 2013 accident on I-64 in Kentucky involving a mail truck which caught fire as a result of a fuel leak, the contents of this US Postal Service truck was not destroyed and was transferred to another truck by Postal Service crews.

 

All of these truck drivers illustrate the type of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  Before we launch into the fall and winter holidays, we need to consider the potential impact of driving while exhausted could have on our own safety, our families, and other drivers sharing the road with us.

Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving

  • Young people-especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
  • People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
  • Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged

Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:

  • 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
  • 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
  • In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.

Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
  • Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
  • Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
  • If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.
  • Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.

Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
  • Missed exits or traffic signs.
  • Repeated yawning.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.

Posted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV.  You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can avoid the unnecessary pitfalls of dealing with the insurance adjusters who are motivated and trained to devalue your claim, if not destroy it altogether.

Call our office today for free books for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide. 

304-594-1800 

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Don’t Wreck Your Personal Injury Claim

Above all, be Honest!

The number one way to ruin your otherwise legitimate claim is to lie about anything that relates to your claim. The veracity, that is the truthfulness of your story of your injury, has to be ultimately believed by a jury, and if you lie about even a seemingly insignificant thing, you may not be believed about your injury.

As a true illustration, a client lied to the police about who was driving the vehicle to shield blame from the actual driver who wasn’t supposed to be driving. Irrespective of whether my client or her friend was the driver, it should not have mattered since the collision was caused by the driver of the other vehicle who ran a stop sign. The insurance company and defense lawyer used the lie to refute my client’s injury claims, even though her injuries were legitimate, permanent, and painful. Ultimately, the jury did not fully believe the magnitude of the client’s injuries because she had lied to the police.

If you are the type of person that doesn’t like this type of confrontation, you are going to feel nervous when the insurance adjuster calls to have a chat about your injury claim.  Sure, you want to tell the truth, but you also want to receive just compensation, and the questions that are asked make you feel uncomfortable (if not intimidated).  When it comes to giving information that will be scrutinized by the insurance adjuster and defense lawyer, guessing about information is not a good idea. You will be characterized as someone who just “makes up” information to fit their financial motives, or worse, you will be considered a liar.Car in snow in ditch

While lying is an act of commission, that is what you do say knowing it is untrue; concealing information is an act of omission, which is what you didn’t say knowing it to be true. Both are wrong and both will ruin your auto injury claim. Before you decide to discuss your case with the insurance adjuster you ought to give careful consideration to the difficulties you will face without legal counsel. It is easy to get confused and say the wrong thing when the insurance adjuster is firing questions at you and you feel the sense of urgency to answer each one, hoping your responses will satisfy the insurance adjuster. Take my word for it, the insurance adjuster is laying traps for you to fall into and will allow you to hang yourself if you are not very careful.

Don’t Exaggerate or Minimize Your Injuries

If you try to play your injuries down, like a lot of people do, you will not be taken seriously. And when your injuries don’t get better, you will be accused of being a malingerer (a person who fakes their injuries). But, on the other hand, if you exaggerate at all the symptoms of your injuries at the outset, you will be labeled as a faker or money-grubber. For instance, if you are losing quality sleep because of neck pain from the auto collision, you should not say that you haven’t slept a wink for two nights. You should say you have tried to sleep, but could not get restful sleep because of the neck pain. Because your symptoms change, sometimes day to day, it is not advisable to speak with an insurance adjuster early on after your auto collision. Of course, it is best to consult an attorney before you speak with an insurance adjuster.

When you visit the emergency room or medical express clinic for your injuries you are routinely given a form that tells you what is expected of you in treating your injuries. If you are prescribed medications it is expected that you will promptly go to a pharmacy and fill the prescription and take the medicine. If you don’t, you will not be taken seriously when you tell an adjuster or jury that you had pain. Likewise, if the physician instructs you to apply hot or cold compresses to your neck and stretch every day, and you don’t, others will minimize your injuries.

Many people work in pain, even with a lot of pain. I know many persons who have worked for years with chronic, constant pain. But early on in your assessment, if you attempt to do normal things in pain, you will be viewed as normal. Pain is invisible; nobody can see your pain. What they can see is how you respond to the pain. So if your conduct resembles that of a normal person, even though you are in pain, your injury will be minimized and so will your compensation.

Don’t Give a Recorded Statement or Sign Anything without Counsel

We have all watched the news programs that tell of the latest investigations or indictments for wrongdoing. Have you noticed how many times the newscaster stated that the accused or involved party was unavailable for comment, or they have no comment? Well, there’s a good reason for this – they don’t have all the information and they know that if they say something wrong, it will be used against them. I have previously explained the hidden dangers of giving a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. There are times when giving a recorded statement to an adjuster may be in your best interest, but only an experienced lawyer will know when to do so.

When you are injured in an auto collision, which was not your fault, you are viewed in the eyes of the law as a victim. The insurance adjuster, however, doesn’t view you as a victim, but a claimant, a money-grubber (someone who is motivated to get something they don’t deserve). The more the insurance adjusters cheat you out of your recovery, the more applause and promotions they receive. When you are told that you won’t get any recovery until you sign a medical release, you feel like you don’t have any choice in the matter. But when you sign the medical release, an entire world of your personal information is given to the individual who looks on you as a money-grubber, and your records will be used to prove it. I have seen this scenario work out hundreds of times. The motivation of the insurance company to get your records is to disprove or minimize your claim. Additionally, all your medical history will be recorded on national insurance indexes that the insurance industry uses to defeat claims. You have to ask yourself whether giving the insurance adjuster access to all your medical records is necessary and wise.

Hire a Good Lawyer

There is a common saying in the practice of law, “Don’t hire yourself to act as your own lawyer.” The reason for this is that the client lacks objectivity. Objectivity means that you can analyze the law correctly and evaluate the facts of the case in a neutral way. That way you are not overlooking a key weakness in your case. I have known many who represented themselves, and even filed their own lawsuits, but in the end finally come around to the obvious need to have a professional oversee and handle their legal matters. If you had a common cold, you would likely go to the local grocery store and buy some cold medicine. But if you had a severe laceration on the leg, you wouldn’t likely stitch your leg. Many people try to represent themselves because they think it will be like treating a common cold. By the time they realize that a professional is needed, a lot of damage to their claim has already occurred.

By now you know that handling your own auto injury claim has significant challenges, and you decide to hire an Irvine lawyer (or the one based in your city). Keep in mind, though, not every lawyer who takes personal injury cases has the necessary experience to provide excellent representation. There are plenty of average lawyers who are looking for quick answers to solve their client’s complex problems, because they don’t have the experience and knowledge to answer their own questions. Hiring an inexperienced, but well-intended lawyer, to handle your case will be no substitute for an experienced lawyer with a thorough knowledge of auto injury law, and trials and appeals. And, if you expect to collect any money from the insurance company, you had better hire a lawyer that knows insurance law, too. Without question, having no lawyer is a worse mistake than hiring an inexperienced lawyer. But since you are wisely choosing to hire a lawyer, hire a good one.

Not Deciding is a Decision regarding your Injury Claim

Last, but not least, you will sabotage your claim if you remain undecided. This often resembles “doing nothing” about your claim. The problem is that “doing nothing” is actually “doing something” after all, but not the “something” that will help your case (source: Costa Ivone, LLC). While you wait week after week, month after month, the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations on your claim, witnesses vital to your claim are not interviewed and move out of the area.  Furthermore, evidence about the collision is destroyed, the police officer can’t remember the collision anymore, the time period when you are expected to seek treatment has passed, and a whole host of other negative things happen to your claim while you are making no decisions. So, as it turns out, waiting around for things to get better on their own actually worsens the situation. Many individuals, though, have difficulty taking the first step to meet with a lawyer. You’ll be glad you did.

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC:  We’re here to help.

If we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about your injury claim.  To learn more about car accident injuries or other injury claims, click here  or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.

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Don’t Let an Injury Ruin your Holiday Shopping

In a frenzied effort to ratchet up end-of-year profits, major retailers will offer their best sales of the year on Black Friday.  Although the Morgantown, WV area and adjacent regions of Marion, Preston, and Taylor Counties are not heavily populated areas as compared to Pittsburgh, the mixture of customer expectations and limited quantities produce the same risks of injuries that we hear about in larger cities.  Many customers will drive with little sleep, even in bad road conditions to get a good position at the door.bags

Try to minimize possibilities of confrontation by showing courtesy to other shoppers and don’t be perceived as a line-cutter – it will cause resentment and possibly an altercation.  If you happen to be the lucky shopper who gets the last item at an incredible price, either cover (if possible) with other items in your cart or try to avoid that area of the store where others will be looking for the same item.

Even in the midst of all the crowds, excitement, and confusion, retailers have an obligation to create and maintain a safe shopping environment for their employees and customers and have a duty to maintain safe parking lots, sidewalks, stairs, and railings that are clear of water, ice, and obstacles to prevent personal injury.

Parking lots are part of a business owner’s property. Therefore, the owner of the retail store or other business property has a legal obligation to maintain the lot or ramp, including sidewalks and stairwells in a condition that is determined safe for public use. This includes ensuring the lot is properly marked and lighted and the traffic flow has been designed with the public’s safety in mind. If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, either while driving, riding a bike or walking, you may be entitled to seek damages for the cost of medical treatment, lost earnings and pain and suffering resulting from your injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a guide to employers for preventing injuries during the Holiday shopping season or at any other time when large crowds gather.    The OSHA guide includes provisions for pre-planning strategies, practicing, and assigning specific workers to implement security, safety, and emergency responses.  The National Retail Federation issued similar warnings and guidelines to retailers that include emergency response directives and having employees practice crowd control safety measures sometime before Black Friday.

Other sound advice includes while shopping, make some trips to the car to put your gifts in the trunk. Lock them up and you can come back and finish your shopping and not have to carry everything around.  After one or two bags, it gets a little cumbersome and strains your back and could affect your balance if the parking lot is even a little slick.

Even though we’re not in a major metropolitan area, there will always be an undesirable element lurking about — at the grocery store, a shopping center, a shopping mall — they’re looking for an opportunity. So, don’t turn your back on anything.  As a consumer, you don’t want to provide theives that opportunity. Always keep things locked up in trunk, keep your cell phone close, don’t hang your handbag on the top of a stroller or over the back of your chair in a restaurant or food court. Use good common sense, even at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.

When a place of business does not provide a safe workplace and shopping environment and an employee or customer suffers an accident, injury, retail stores and malls are responsible for medical bills, lost wages and continuing disability, pain, suffering, and inconvenience caused by their carelessness.

If you have been seriously injured while shopping due to someone else’s negligence, call a Morgantown, WV Personal Injury Lawyer —  visit our website today  or call us today at 304-594-1800 or 304-216-6695 after hours to obtain the answers you need.

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Drowsy Driving Prevention Week November 12-18, 2012

In an effort to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and to save lives, the National Sleep Foundation is declaring November 12-18, 2012 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®.  Most of us realize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.

FedEx Truck Accident in West Virginia

In October, 2012 near Morgantown, WV a FedEx truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes shortly before 1 a.m. when the driver tried to make a U-turn to correct his direction.  The FedEx driver caused a truck accident when he struck a tractor-trailer which then crossed the median into the northbound lanes and crashed through a guardrail on the east edge of the road.  A passenger car traveling ahead of the tractor-trailer ran off the west edge of I-79 south, coming to rest against a guardrail.  Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured.  Three people were taken to the hospital, treated, and released.  The FedEx driver was from North Dakota and the semi-truck driver was from Arizona.

At least two of these drivers illustrate the types of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  Before we launch into the fall and winter holidays, we need to consider the potential impact of driving while exhausted could have on our own safety, our families, and other drivers sharing the road with us.

Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving

  • Young people-especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
  • People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
  • Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged

Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:

  • 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
  • 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
  • In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.

Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
  • Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
  • Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
  • If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.
  • Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.

Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
  • Missed exits or traffic signs.
  • Repeated yawning.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV.  You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can avoid the unnecessary pitfalls of dealing with the insurance adjusters who are motivated and trained to devalue your claim, if not destroy it altogether.

Call our office today for free books for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide. 

304-594-1800 

Pit Bull Attack Statistics – West Virginia

pit bullThree members of a McDowell County, West Virginia family were injured on Sunday, October 9, 2011 in a pit bull attack.  The family pet was chained in the backyard of their Welch, WV home when it broke loose and attacked a three year old girl.  Her grandfather and mother rushed to help the child and were viciously attacked.  The three year old and grandfather suffered serious injuries and the pit bull was put down.

In 2009, a three-day old baby boy in Hardy County, WV was viciously attacked and killed by the family’s pet pit bull.  The pit bull refused to release the newborn infant during the struggle to save the baby.

Devastating events such as these ought to cause West Virginians to reconsider the wisdom in choosing dogs such as the pit bull as family pets.  Typically, 77% of dog injuries are caused by dogs familiar to the victim, and most occur close to, or in, the owner’s home.  Selective breeding practices that emphasize aggression and tenacity in such breeds work to increase these dogs’ negative impact on communities.

Pit Bulls only account for two percent of the dog population, but account for one-third of dog bite fatalities.  Because of Pit Bulls’ record of mauling, serious injuries, and deaths, many countries worldwide ban or regulate ownership of this breed.  Many US cities and towns also have passed legislation restricting ownership and increasing penalties on owners whose dogs are responsible for attacks.

Every forty seconds, someone in the United States seeks attention for a dog bite, approximately 800,000 per year.  Most of the victims are children, and most (77%) are bitten on the face.  In addition to the trauma of having been attacked by a vicious dog, almost $165 million annually is spent treating dog bites.  In 2010, the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay.

West Virginia has a strict liability dog bite statute for dogs running at large, but a one-bite rule under other circumstances.

Dog bites can inflict cuts, lacerations, abrasions, crushing wounds, punctures, fractured bones, infection, and disfiguring scars, especially on the face.  Dog owners have a legal responsibility to control their animals.  In recent years, several owners of these dogs have been criminally prosecuted in homicide cases.  Sadly, many victims of traumatic dog bites go uncompensated and personally incur the full cost of the injury resulting from a dog owner’s negligence.

For information about traumatic dog bites, go to http://www.robinettelaw.com/Premises-Liability-Injuries/Dog-Bite-Injuries.shtml