How do you feel about driving roundabouts? I know there was a lot of initial opposition to the new roundabouts on Fort King here in Ocala a while ago, but after a bit a research on the subject, I found out a few things that I didn’t know about them and thought you might also find it interesting.
Did you know that roundabouts are a safer alternative to traffic signals and stop signs? The tight circle of a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, and makes the most severe types of intersection crashes — right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions — unlikely. At traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, these types of collisions can be severe because vehicles may be traveling through the intersection at high speeds. With roundabouts, these types of potentially serious crashes essentially are eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction and at low speeds —generally less than 20 mph in urban areas and less than 30-35 mph in rural areas. The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts that do occur at roundabouts generally involve a vehicle merging into the circular roadway or in the case of multi-lane roundabouts, conflicts also occur as vehicles exit.
Did you know roundabouts improve traffic flow and are better for the environment? Research shows that traffic flow improves following conversion of traditional intersections to roundabouts. Less idling reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.
Did you know roundabouts generally are safer for pedestrians? Pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter and cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections.
I see the tents popping up all around town to sell fireworks. Are you planning to buy some? Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day and I fondly remember being a child and the thrill of setting off sparklers and bottle rockets. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring injury and pain. On average, 230 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
I am always surprised at how powerful the fireworks that my neighbors shoot off each year are. Manufacturers, and those that sell their products, have a responsibility to meet certain standards of health and safety, to include proper instructions and warnings on a product, and to remove potentially dangerous products from the market. If a person is injured due to a defective product or inadequate warnings, they may make a claim against the manufacturer or those in the chain of distribution of the fireworks.
When people carelessly use fireworks or don’t follow the instructions, innocent people may pay the price. When this happens, the injured party has the right to file a claim for damages against those that injure them. Many times homeowner’s insurance will cover such claims. It takes an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to successfully pursue justice in such cases.
Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of defective fireworks, inadequate warnings or someone’s negligent use of fireworks? It is important that you contact legal counsel as soon as possible. The preservation of evidence needed to prove your claim is of utmost importance and may be lost or destroyed if not preserved immediately.
We wish all a happy and festive Independence Day and remember to stay safe out there.
June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Most people don’t associate PTSD with vehicle collisions, but it is something that I see all the time. Todd Buckley, PhD, on the website U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, says that researchers are looking more closely at motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) as a common cause of traumatic stress. In one large study, accidents were shown to be the traumatic event most frequently experienced by males (25%) and the second most frequent traumatic event experienced by females (13%) in the United States. Over 100 billion dollars are spent every year to take care of the damage caused by auto accidents. Survivors of MVAs often also experience emotional distress as a result of such accidents. Mental health difficulties such as posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety are problems survivors of severe MVAs may exhibit.
How many people experience serious motor vehicle accidents?
One unfortunate consequence of the high volume of commuter and personal travel in the US is the number of accidents that result in personal injury and fatalities. In any given year, approximately 1% of the US population will be injured in motor vehicle accidents. Thus, MVAs account for over three million injuries annually and are one of the most common traumas individuals experience.
How many people develop MVA-related PTSD and other psychological reactions?
Studies of the general population have found that approximately 9% of MVA survivors develop PTSD. Rates are significantly higher in samples of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment. Studies show that between 14% and 100% of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment have PTSD, with an average of 60% across studies. In addition, between 3% and 53% of MVA survivors who seek treatment and have PTSD also have a mood disorder such as Major Depression. Finally, in one large study of MVA survivors who sought treatment, 27% had an anxiety disorder in addition to their PTSD, and 15% reported a phobia of driving.
When do you 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.
I hope this will help those of you out there who are suffering after a collision. Please remember that we are always available to listen to you should you feel the need.
A black box. Also known as event data recorder it is traditionally associated with airplane accidents because it helps the investigators to determine what went wrong. But the technology is no longer limited to aircrafts. In fact, you most likely have a black box beneath your seat or behind the dashboard in your car. Almost all new cars are already equipped with one of these small devices and if you drive a car that is not older from 5 years, you most likely have one yourself. If you are not sure whether your car is equipped with a car black box or not, you can check the owner manual. The data from the car black box is a reliable record of the driver’s actions few seconds before the accident and is an important piece of evidence when there are no witnesses of the accident or/and the drivers are blaming each other for causing the collision. It records various data depending from one car to another, most often the speed, turning, braking, accelerating, decelerating, etc. about five seconds before the collision. However, those five seconds are usually enough to get the necessary information about the events that led to the accident. Even more, the data from the car black box has been also used as evidence in the courts and had a major influence on the outcome of the trial.
It is vitally important to contact an experienced Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after your accident in order to preserve as much evidence as possible.
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.
So, why should you hire me? Besides the fact that I like to eat? 🙂 Here are some good reasons to hire me, or another Personal Injury Attorney.
There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney when you’ve been injured in a car accident, especially if your injuries are serious. See below for some of the ways hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you deal with your claim.
Experience with Car Insurance Companies
You don’t deal with insurance companies every day. These lawyers do. They understand the process of reaching a settlement, and because they’ve seen cases like yours, most personal injury law firms have a good idea of the type of settlement you can expect.
An attorney also understands how to negotiate with auto insurance companies to get you the fairest settlement possible.
Knowledge of the Law
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the particular laws that apply to your accident. Because of this, they may see other avenues for settlement that you don’t. This can be especially important if the accident involved an uninsured driver.
Understanding of Accident-Related Injuries
Because lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases deal with injuries caused in car accidents frequently, a trained attorney may be able to make recommendations for medical tests and care you should explore.
More importantly, he will understand the long-term effects, if any, of your injuries. This is vitally important in deciding whether a settlement offer is a fair one.
Finally, if you are unable to reach a settlement with an insurance company, or if the cost of the injuries exceeds the insured amount, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court.
This is essential if you have to sue the auto insurance company or others to get full coverage of your medical expenses and other pain and suffering.
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.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. The different injuries resulting from a car accident can be as varied as the individual circumstances of each collision, but there are some types of injuries that are more common than others.
Some car accident injuries may resolve within a matter of days without any medical treatment at all. More serious injuries might become permanent and result in some level of physical disability.
According to NOLO.com, the type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident depend on factors that include:
Was the person wearing a seat belt?
Did the person’s car get hit from the rear, side or front?
Was the occupant facing straight ahead in the seat? Or was the person’s head or body turned in a certain direction?
Was it a low-speed collision or a high-speed crash?
Did the car have airbags?
There are two broad categories of injuries caused by car accidents: (1) impact injuries, and (2) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are typically caused when part of the person’s body hits some part of the interior of the car. Often this can be a knee hitting a dashboard or the head hitting the seat rest or the side window. Penetrating injuries are typically cuts and scrapes. Shattering glass or loose objects flying inside the car on impact often cause these types of injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Car Accidents
A soft tissue injury is damage to the body’s connective tissue, which means muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is the most common type of injury resulting from a car accident. Soft tissue injuries can take many forms.
A “whiplash” type injury to the neck and upper back is a form of soft tissue injury. In that type of injury, the muscles and ligaments are stretched due to sudden movements imposed on the head and neck in the collision. These same mechanisms and forces can cause soft tissue injuries in other areas of the body such as the back. Car accidents often cause mid-back and low-back muscle sprains, and sometimes cause more serious back injuries because of the impact force against the spine.
Scrapes and Cuts
In a car collision, any loose objects inside the car immediately become projectiles thrown about the car’s interior. This includes cell phones, coffee mugs, eyeglasses, purses, books, dash-mounted GPS systems, etc. If any of these items hit your body, they can easily cut your skin or cause other injury.
Sometimes these scrapes and cuts are relatively minor and require no medical treatment. More serious injuries can result in loss of blood, and may require stitches.
Cuts or scrapes can also result if your airbag deploys in the collision.
Head Injuries and Car Accidents
Head injuries can take a number of forms, some relatively minor and others quite severe. A car’s unexpected stop or change in direction often causes the heads of the car occupants to experience sudden and unnatural movements. This can cause muscle strains in the neck and back (as discussed above). But the head itself can also be injured. Impact with a side window or steering wheel can cause scrapes and bruising to the head, or even deeper lacerations. More severe collision impacts can cause a closed head injury. In that situation, the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged because of the sudden movement or impact of the head. Less severe closed head injuries often result in concussions, while the most severe impacts can cause brain damage.
Chest injuries are also a common result of a car accident. These injuries typically take the form of contusions or bruises, but can be more severe, such as broken ribs or internal injuries. Drivers often experience chest injuries because of their position behind the steering wheel, which allows very little freedom of movement before the chest collides with the steering wheel. If a person’s body is thrown forward in a collision, even though it might not impact the steering wheel or dashboard, the chest area will still experience a high level of force against the shoulder harness or seat belt, which can cause severe bruising.
Arm and Leg Injuries
The same forces that unexpectedly throw a person’s head about in car collisions act similarly on arms and legs. If your car suffers a side impact, your arms and legs might be thrown hard against the door. While positioned as a passenger in a car, your legs typically have very little room for movement. Car accidents often cause an occupant’s knees to hit the dashboard or seats in front of them. Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to your arms and legs might be mere bruises or scrapes, but sprains and even breaks can occur.
Keep in mind that some injuries are not readily apparent following a car accident. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may take days, weeks, or even months for symptoms to appear. So, if you are in a car accident, it is best to seek medical treatment for even the slightest discomfort or early indication of injury.
Since we don’t look like “Graham” (at least I hope you don’t!), drive safely out there friends!
One of the best kept consumer secrets out there is the little-known CLUE report, which is made available to insurance companies on every single insurance consumer. I found this great information for my friends on the Blog 20somethingfinance.com by G.E. Miller. The CLUE report is the insurance-world equivalent of a credit report on insurance consumers and can have a profound impact on your personal property and auto insurance rates. However, despite its importance, only 1% of consumers said they were very familiar with the CLUE report and only 17% had ever heard of it. If you don’t know what a CLUE report is and how it can be used against you – I strongly recommend you read on.
Crusading for vulnerable consumers has become a deeply passionate pursuit of mine, so I decided to dig in to and find out answers to the following questions (and even ordered my own report in the process):
what is a CLUE report?
what information is reported?
when is information reported?
can your CLUE report be used against you to charge higher rates?
how far back do CLUE report claims and inquiries go?
when should you check your CLUE report?
how can you dispute any incorrect information?
how can you get a free CLUE report?
Hopefully you find this CLUE report overview helpful.
What is a CLUE Report?
CLUE is an acronym for the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange database, where insurers provide and obtain information regarding your insurance claims history. A CLUE report is a registered trademark of and generated by LexisNexis, an insurance consumer reporting agency (similar to credit reporting agencies like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, but for insurance instead).
There are actually 2 types of CLUE reports:
CLUE Property Claims Report (i.e. for homeowner insurance claims)
CLUE Auto Claims Report
The reports cover your personal property and personal auto claims history and are used by insurers to document your claims and inquiries and determine your risk profile, which impacts your insurance premiums.
What Information is Included in CLUE Reports?
The following information is contained in CLUE reports for each insurance consumer:
date of birth (partially edited out for security reasons)
Social Security Number (completely edited out for security reasons)
driver’s license, vehicle make and model, VIN# in the CLUE Auto Claims Report
description of the covered property and/or address of property in the CLUE Property Claims Report
type of claim
amount of claim
possible related claims
list or record of companies that have inquired about your loss history in the last two 2 years
your inquiry history (if submitted by insurer)
When Does an Insurer Contribute to a CLUE Report?
Insurers report to LexisNexis in the following scenarios:
when they pay a claim
when they set up a possible claim
when they formally deny a claim
when they receive an inquiry into a possible claim (not all submit this)
Inquiry history is key. If you call your insurer merely to inquire about damage and whether you should file a claim, a notation will get made. LexisNexis advises insurance companies not to report claims information when you contact them to simply ask a question about coverage or your deductible. However, they often do. This could come back to haunt you if someone asks you for a copy of your report later, you want to change policies, or have another claim later on.
Can your CLUE Report be Used Against you to Charge Higher Rates?
Unfortunately, yes. Insurers will typically request a CLUE report when you apply for new coverage or request a quote. The company will use your claim history and/or the history of claims at a specific property to decide if they will offer you coverage and how much in premiums you’ll pay for that coverage. Past claims are used as an indicator of future claims and to determine your risk profile. If you’ve had auto or personal property claims, you will typically pay more for future coverage.
Here are just a few of the ways your CLUE reports can be used against you:
Inaccurate information can be included in the report.
Fraudulent insurance claims made by others in your name may be included in your report.
Any recent claims against the property that you are purchasing can increase your rates on that property.
A report may use information other than claims data to rate you as a risk – even if the company doesn’t pay a claim. For example, a loss may fall below your deductible and the claim is denied or you are advised not to submit a claim. Even simple phone calls to inquire can be used against you.
Even when repairs are made and the property is restored to the original condition or you are not at fault in an accident, the CLUE report can include information about the claim.
All of this information in the report can affect the premiums you pay as well as whether you are insured at all if you are deemed to be a high enough risk. Scary, right?
How Far Back do CLUE Report Histories go?
Given the impact on insurance premium rates, one would naturally wonder how far back CLUE report claims and inquiries go. In other words, what is the historical lookback period for CLUE reports? CLUE reports typically contain up to seven years of claim history. According to LexisNexis,
“If you have not filed a claim against your auto or property insurance policy in the last 7 years, you will likely receive a clear report.”
When Should you Check your CLUE Report?
After researching CLUE reports in depth, here is when I plan to review mine (and others) for accuracy (note: you’re entitled to one of each report for free once per year):
Once a year prior to policy renewals.
Whenever I go shopping for a new insurance plan.
Whenever I am in a car accident and make a claim.
Whenever I look to purchase a new home, I will check my CLUE Property Claims Report and ask for a copy from the property owner of the property I am looking to purchase. In some states, sellers are legally required to disclose any damage or repairs – but that doesn’t mean they will. And getting a report from a third party to confirm is a smart move in case they are withholding information.
Whenever I sell a home (if I have a good record to show, this can be a selling point).
How to Dispute your CLUE Report
CLUE report errors are possible can have a costly negative impact on your insurance rates. Errors can range from a simple error in data entry or information reported by insurer to fraudulent claims made in your name. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s mistake or fraudulent activities. Thankfully, there is a means to dispute incorrect information in your CLUE report. LexisNexis has the following to say about filing CLUE report disputes:
Upon receipt of your dispute, we have 30 days to conduct a reinvestigation of the information disputed and to record the current status of the information on your file or, in some instances, delete the information from your file. We will provide you with notice of the results of our reinvestigation no later than 5 business days after the completion of the reinvestigation. This notice will be provided to you by mail.
You can dispute by contacting LexisNexis by phone at 888-497-0011 or mail at LexisNexis Consumer Center, P.O. Box 105108, Atlanta, GA, 30348.
When a teenager gets a driver license, it signifies freedom and the lure of the open road. But with this newfound freedom comes a host of new situations and possible problems that most teen drivers have never encountered before. It’s a good idea to review these scenarios with new drivers in your family, and discuss how to handle them before they happen for real.
From traffic stops to road rage, here’s a primer on what you need to tell teen drivers as they take to the roads.
What to do when you’re stopped by a police officer
Safely pull to the side of the road, turn off your car, roll down the window and keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves or argue with the officer. Do your arguing in traffic court.
How to deal with a flat tire
Pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. Call roadside assistance and let that person change the tire. If you have a spare (many cars now only have an inflation kit) and know how to change the tire, make sure you are out of traffic and in plain sight of oncoming traffic before changing it yourself.
What to do when the “check engine” light comes on
If there is any change in the car’s performance, any mechanical noises, smoke from the tailpipe or electrical smells, stop the car and call for assistance. If there are none of these symptoms, take the car to a dealer and let them diagnose the problem. However, if you just bought gas, the light might just be indicating that the gas cap is loose. Tighten the cap and continue driving. The light should go off on its own.
How to deal with a friend who is about to drive under the influence
Don’t get in the car. Do anything not to drive with an intoxicated person, and that includes calling your parents for a lift or paying for a taxi. Your next move is to try to prevent your drunken friend from hurting themselves or someone else.
What to do after an auto accident
If the car is drivable and there are no serious injuries, turn on your flashers and pull safely out of traffic. Call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver but refrain from discussing the accident and who is at fault. Make notes and use your cell phone’s camera to take pictures of the cars involved.
How to drive in rain
Reduce your speed and leave more room between your vehicle and those in front of you. Understand how to handle skids. Understand that a car might hydroplane on a rain puddle on the road and learn how to react to driving with reduced traction and visibility.
How to avoid road rage situations
Understand the severe consequences to you, your car and your driving record when minor disagreements escalate to life-threatening situations. When someone offends you, take a deep breath and know that your anger will dissolve in minutes. Don’t anger other drivers by cutting them off or tailgating. If you’ve inadvertently angered another driver, don’t get drawn into interacting with them. Ignore them or, if necessary, change your route. Finally, repeat this phrase: It’s just not worth it.
And lastly, but most important of all:
How to drive safely
Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.
As more and more drivers text while on the road, distracted driving crashes are steadily increasing year over year. In fact, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8 people are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver.
However, distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting and driving. You can be distracted by one of many activities.
Distracted driving means driving while not fully paying attention to the road. Many people think of texting and driving or talking on the phone when driving; however, you can also be distracted by: