Did you know that typically the injuries to the victims are severe and often fatal?
Large trucks account for only about 3% of auto accidents, yet because of their sheer size and weight, a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause incredible damage to the other vehicles involved and their passengers.
Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?
Seek medical help immediately, make sure everything is documented, make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report. Never take any calls from insurance companies without consulting with an attorney that specializes in trucking accident collisions first. Often these accidents are the result of trucking safety or driving law violations. State and federal regulations often come into play in a truck collision. Truck accident cases can be complicated because the truck, trailer and contents can be owned by different companies and operated by yet other independent companies. For this reason, it’s imperative that you work with a Florida truck accident attorney who is skilled in this area of litigation.
Do you know what to do if someone loses their life in a trucking accident?
Once again, it is important that you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney. There are many processes that the families of the deceased must go through and it can be very overwhelming given the grief and stress they are already enduring. Having the right attorney and her staff helping them through the process can provide a lot of relief at that time.
Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?
I am always available to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about a truck accident. And, as always, there is no charge to you at any time until or unless a settlement is reached. You may reach me at 352-512-0444 or through my website: www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com.
Did you know this fun fact?
The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.
Last week I wrote about a young client of mine who developed an intense fear of driving or being a passenger in an automobile after she was involved in a rear end collision that injured her. Many of you expressed a similar fear, so this week I researched to find some helpful tips to overcome, or at least alleviate, this common fear.
If you are someone that would like to overcome a driving fear, these tips from Jennifer Johnson may be very helpful. If you are the type of person who would rather run in the opposite direction in order to avoid driving or if you find yourself wobbling on jelly-legs whenever you try to open the driver’s door, it is possible that you are suffering from driving anxiety. Here are some tips on how you can cope with driving anxiety…
Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective relaxation techniques for anxiety disorders.
Self-talking and positive affirmations are another relaxation technique that you can make use of while driving. Tell yourself some words of encouragement such as “I can do this and I will be at my destination very soon and safely!”
Another self-talk technique is to tell yourself your reason for driving and outline the details or purpose for the trip. The key here is to try to relax yourself by distracting your mind and keeping it away from any negative thoughts that will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.
Think of the good points for your purpose of driving. Are you excited about your arrival or the event coming up?
You need to observe ‘mindfulness’ all throughout the duration of your trip. Don’t allow your anxiety to make you lose focus whilst driving! Once you notice your hands starting to grip the steering wheel more tightly and your mind is telling you about impending accidents…stop your thoughts and get back to rule number one. Use relaxation techniques.
Choose A Driving Companion
People who are suffering from driving anxiety should carefully choose someone to keep them company while driving. It should be someone whom you trust and someone who is very much aware of your anxiety and completely understands your condition.
This person must also be prepared to help you relax and stay calm.
Avoid those people who do not understand your anxiety or those who will only be causing you more stress and anxiety behind the wheel. Even if it is a husband or wife…if they are not supportive…do not drive…let them. Only drive with people who can help…not hinder. If you also hate being a passenger, say positive affirmations and deep breathe.
Know When To Take Driving Breaks
If you are experiencing driving anxiety, it is best to take several breaks behind the wheel. For example, you can take a break every 30 minutes of driving. You can either have someone else drive the car or you can look for a safe place to park for a few minutes.
You may increase the length of time for driving and shorten the time for your breaks once you notice yourself improving. If you are in a hurry, allow a trusted friend or someone else to do the driving for you.
Anxiety First Aid Kit
Another important thing that you must remember before you start driving is to check whether your anxiety first aid kit is complete. Make sure that you have your bottle of water, cell phone with its charger and your relaxation CD inside the car. It would also be best to have your own GPS so you can easily find your way back especially when you are driving to unfamiliar places.
Avoid Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications
Anti-anxiety medications may effectively relieve your anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications cannot be taken while driving. Taking these medications before or during driving is not recommended and will only increase your risk of accidents.
Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.
Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.
Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!
With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.
Chances are that after an accident your first priority was to recover from the injuries your body sustained. Many of my clients struggle mentally in the wake of a crash. If this happens to you, it’s important to get help.
It might have been a crash where you were the driver, a passenger, a pedestrian or even just an observer.
Lynda Matthews, the Head of the Rehabilitation Counselling Unit at the University of Sydney, says that while many people will recover totally, even from severe road crashes, up to 30 per cent of people will have to deal with a negative psychological response.
“It’s not so much the severity of the crash or the severity of any resulting injury that counts – it’s how someone perceives it,” Dr. Matthews says. “If you perceive the crash as life-threatening, or if someone is killed in the accident, then that can influence your response.”
The good news is that most people will recover from the anxiety which is a natural reaction to a stressful incident. Some people will have no symptoms of anxiety at all, others will have a few, while others will run the full gamut.
Common symptoms of anxiety include worrying, being very active, feeling irritable, unable to relax or sleep properly, having no energy, finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling upset, angry, confused, tired, helpless or ‘out-of-control’.
Anxiety can make a person feel unsociable and you may have unwanted thoughts or experience problems with personal relationships.
Dr. Matthews says that most people recovering from a crash generally focus first on physical recovery – treatment in hospital, visiting physiotherapists and the like. It’s also very important for people to tell doctors if they are feeling anxious or distressed.
And there are simple things you can do if you feel anxiety taking control.
“If you feel like it, it’s good to talk with people about the accident. One of the most important parts of recovery is having support from family and friends,” says Dr. Matthews.
“It’s also very important to try and re-engage with your social scene and get back to work – to get back to your pre-crash lifestyle.”
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF
Here are some tips to look after your mental health following an accident:
Give yourself time. Any difficult period in your life needs time to heal. Be patient with yourself and what you are feeling. Anxiety is normal for everyone.
Talk to someone about the accident. It may be a friend, family member or someone you feel comfortable with. Just talking about your experiences, getting information about anxiety and meeting any practical needs is often all that is required to help you manage your anxiety.
Look after yourself. When people feel anxious they often neglect themselves. Eat balanced meals and try to get plenty of sleep. Do some exercise, like going for a walk. Avoid increasing the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid drugs that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
Take some time for yourself and do a hobby or other enjoyable activity.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
You should seek medical advice if your symptoms:
Are worrying you.
Are preventing you from doing your normal activities.
Have lasted longer than three months after the accident.
Are causing your friends and/or relatives to be worried about you.
If your symptoms don’t ease after 3 months, or if your symptoms are severe enough to stop you living your normal life, then you have may an anxiety disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Most people who are involved in a road crash won’t develop an anxiety disorder. If you do, you may experience extreme anxiety and disturbing irrational thoughts and fears. Every part of your life suffers and you seem overpowered by the experience of the crash.
Some people may:
Have flashbacks to the accident.
Dream about the accident.
Become distressed when exposed to reminders of the accident.
Feel like they are continually in a daze.
Be out of touch with the world or feel that their life does not seem real.
Avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the accident even when they may be beneficial.
Feel guilty about the crash.
Problems getting back in the car.
Dr. Matthews says that necessity will get most people back into a motor vehicle, but some people might experience difficulty.
“The general principle is, where there’s fear of something then it’s good to take it in small steps,” she says. “Make sure you have people with you to offer support, and take it slowly.”
TREATMENT AND SUPPORT
It’s important to know that, with the right treatment and support, you can recover from an anxiety disorder. Your Primary doctor is the best person to speak to first. Other health practitioners, like psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists, can help to treat anxiety disorders.
WHERE TO GET HELP
The following organizations and websites provide information on getting treatment for anxiety and help with driving anxiety.
When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you likely feel angry and confused, and it can be unclear how to get compensation for your damages and injuries. However, there are steps you can take to create a smoother experience, should you be in this unfortunate situation.
Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.
If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run and compensate you or any of your passengers for any injuries.
What Is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.
Examples of hit and run accidents include:
A car hits you and speeds off.
A driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no contact information or way of collecting damages.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
While you’ll likely be feeling immense stress if you’re a victim of a hit and run, it will help to stay as calm as possible and gather as much information as you can.
Having more information:
Increases the chances that the police will catch the driver who hit you.
Helps your car insurance company make decisions about your claim.
First, get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, such as:
License plate number.
Finally, take the following steps before leaving the scene:
Write down the time and location of the accident.
Take pictures of the accident scene.
Take pictures of your car, especially if another car’s paint is visible on it. (This will help you prove that you are not attempting to defraud your insurance company.)
If the hit and run occurred when you wereaway from your parked car, jot down as much information as you can, such as:
Who Pays for Hit and Run Damage and Medical Care?
This depends on certain factors, including whether the fleeing driver was identified and what state you live in.
Payment for hit-and-run claims usually comes through your own car insurance. In most states, the coverages in question are uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage, which essentially act as the at-fault (in this case, hit-and-run) driver’s liability coverage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury helps pay for injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident, while uninsured motorist property damage covers damages to your car.
The good news is that these coverages are relatively affordable, and they offer significant financial protection from the uninsured (or hit-and-run-committing) drivers up to the limits you select.
The answer is yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. As nice as the other driver might seem, their story may change and it will be difficult to prove without the backup of a police report, as recently happened to one of my clients. Having an accident report cuts down on the he said/she said at the get go.
A police officer’s presence at the scene — and any resulting police report — may be crucial to your claim. A trained police officer can be an invaluable source of help and information in such a confusing situation. A police officer can:
provide or call for emergency medical care (of course, if there are injuries, someone should call 911 as soon as possible, before calling the police)
protect the accident scene, and
investigate and document the cause of the accident.
In cases involving injuries, substantial damage to the vehicles, or significant motor vehicle law violations, the officer will write a police report of a car accident. Make sure to get the name and badge number of the officer and the police agency that the officer represents so you can get a copy of the accident report after it’s written. Also get the report number if it’s available. There will probably be a small charge for the police report, but it’s worth it. The police accident report is a critical document which is relied upon fairly heavily by everyone involved in the claims process.
If You Have a Fender-Bender With No Injuries
Should you still call the police even if your accident is just a minor one? The answer is usually yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. However, in many metropolitan areas, the police probably won’t come to the scene of your minor fender-bender. They will simply tell you to exchange information with the other driver. The police will not prepare a report in this situation.
If the Police Tells You to Just Exchange Information
If you do call the police, and they tell you to just exchange information with the other driver, what information should you exchange? At a minimum, make sure you get from the other driver(s) — and that the other driver(s) get from you — the following information:
Name of car insurance company
Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative that you should contact about this accident.
License plate number (and state in which the car is registered)
Ask to see documents from which you can copy this information, such as a driver’s license and an insurance verification card. Why? Sometimes, drivers — such as those who don’t have insurance — will give false information if you don’t verify what they are telling you. If they won’t verify their information, call the police and insist that the driver stay until the police arrive.
If you are suspicious about the information you are getting, call the other driver’s insurance company from the scene of the accident to verify for yourself that the other driver has given you accurate information. But only verify coverage. Don’t give accident details to the other driver’s insurance company. Not yet. You’ll do that later, after you’re away from the scene of your accident and have calmed down.
If the Police Are On Their Way
If you call the police, and they do send an officer to the scene of your minor accident, they may give it a low priority. It could take up to one hour for an officer to arrive after you call the police. Wait for them. What should you do while you are waiting for them to arrive?
Assess the situation
Help anyone who is hurt
Protect the scene against further damage
Don’t make any agreements with the other driver at the scene
Document the scene with your cell phone or camera, and
Contact your own insurance company to notify them and see if they have anything they want you to do while there.
Once the police officer arrives, speak only with him or her about the specifics of your accident. Provide the information that the officer requests, but be careful what you say, even to the officer.
If you have any questions about what you should do, contact your local accident attorney for a free consultation. My office is always happy to answer your questions!
What is GAP Insurance and why should I add this coverage to my automobile policy?
GAP insurance or “guaranteed auto protection” is a coverage that you may purchase for your already existing automobile insurance policy. This coverage will pay for the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount that you still owe to the bank or finance company at the time of loss. Insurance companies will only pay what your vehicle is worth at the time of loss (actual cash value) and if the vehicle is depreciated they will deduct that amount. Therefore, you could end up paying for the difference of the amount you owe on your car loan and the car’s current estimated value. As a result, you may want to purchase GAP insurance in order to protect your investment.
Over the years I have had many clients who were injured in auto accidents in Florida and time and time again my clients assumed that their comprehensive and collision insurance will pay for their vehicle damage. These clients were surprised to find out that at the conclusion of the case they did not receive full compensation in their property damage because they did not purchase GAP insurance. So do your research and contact your insurance company and request a quote for GAP insurance coverage before you really need it!
According to the Smart Motorist, in the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 & over) is predicted to triple in the United States. As age increases, older drivers generally become more conservative on the road. Many mature drivers modify their driving habits (for instance to avoid busy highways or night-time driving) to match their declining capabilities. However, statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections.
Research on age-related driving concerns has shown that at around the age of 65 drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death. Three behavioral factors in particular may contribute to these statistics: poor judgement in making left-hand turns; drifting within the traffic lane; and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.
If you or your loved one is an older driver, there are many ways for you to stay safe on the road and continue to drive for many years. Much of it has to do with knowing your physical limits and capabilities. Here are some tips from AARP.
Monitor your health. Be aware of any health changes such as vision, hearing, memory and concentration. Keep up with regular checkups and exercise.
Keep a safe driving distance. Use the three-second rule when following another car, so you have time to react to any potential hazards.
Avoid distractions. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction and that includes cell phone use, eating, using a GPS, and adjusting the radio.
Adjust your fit. AARP is a member of the Car Fit program, where a team of technicians can help set up your vehicle to make sure it “fits” you for comfort and safety. Go to Car Fit to find a location near you.
Self-regulate. Avoid driving during rush hour, at night, or in challenging weather conditions. Keep running your errands and appointments, but try to choose daylight and less busy times to travel.
Go right. Lee says instead of making a left-hand turn, make three right turns instead to get to the same place instead of crossing traffic in a busy intersection.
Don’t forget to stop. At stop signs, scan before proceeding and look for pavement markings. If you are behind another car, wait two seconds until they proceed through the sign before you move forward.
Check your meds. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications you are taking could have an affect on your driving.
Be aware of others. Bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians can add more challenges to driving. Be extra vigilant in intersections and when merging.
Keep a buffer. Have enough space around your vehicle so you have room to maneuver whether it is on the road or in a parking lot.
So, how do motorcycle insurers come up with their rates, anyway?
Believe it or not, they base their premiums on sound statistical data that helps them determine the likelihood of you filing a claim (and costing them money). Insurance companies consider a number of factors, including:
Driving record (moving violations)
In general, those who are younger than 25, female, married, live in a rural location, don’t ride much, drive a safe but inexpensive bike, and have a clean driving history and great credit are treated to the best rates.
The numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.
Still, many enthusiasts enjoy a lifetime of riding without injury. The key to optimizing your odds is to be prepared and avoid risks. Keep in mind that 48 percent of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, according to the IIHS, and alcohol was a factor in 42 percent. Eliminate those factors and you’ve dramatically reduced your risk and hopefully, your rates.
It seems everyone is joining in on the recent Pokemon Go craze. The game, which is as close to a real life adaptation of the Pokemon world as anyone could hope for, is played outside using your phone to track down Pokemon and battle other members of the community for ownership of Pokemon gyms. This has sparked a cultural phenomenon bordering on obsession.
The negatives of the game are a little scary, however, and I’ve noticed some bad habits which include people not being aware of their surroundings as they play, despite the game explicitly warning you to do so, people driving while playing, and in some instances bad people using the game to lure in unsuspecting patrons to rob them or worse.
Some lawyers say Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. Alabama lawyer Keith Lee, writing at his Associate’s Mind blog, says his legal questions include:
Does placing a Pokemon character on a private property, without permission, affect the owner’s interest in exclusive possession of the property? Does it create an attractive nuisance? Does owning real property extend property rights to intellectual property elements that are placed on it? Is there liability for placing the characters on private property or in dangerous locations?
Michigan lawyer Brian Wassom raises other legal issues in a post for the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog. Augmented reality games can lead to competition for the use of the same physical spaces, disrupting the ability of players and non-players to enjoy the place, and possibly leading to violence, he says. Could government limit the players in a public space? Would that bring a First Amendment challenge?
Wassom also sees a risk of injury for players who are “wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.” New York lawyer Peter Pullano makes a similar point in an interview with 13WHAM in which he raises the possibility of distractions for drivers. “Even though you may be looking for your Pikachu while you’re driving, that’s not going to impress your officer,” Pullano said.
LawNewz points out that the game’s terms of service disclaim liability for property damage, personal injury or death while playing the game, as well as claims based on violation of any other applicable law. The game also has a notice that generally requires arbitration of disputes.
My #1 Tip For Staying Safe While Playing Pokemon Go: DO NOT PLAY WHILE DRIVING!!!
This is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting and driving. Again, I don’t want you to end up in a car accident because you do a U-Turn and jump over a median to catch a Pidgeotto. I promise you there will be another chance to catch one that doesn’t involve you risking you being in an accident.
Stay safe out there friends!!
YOUR #ocalaaccidentandinjurylawyer, Marianne Howanitz