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Santa Barbara Personal Injury Law Blog

Considering the most common risks of driving

Before heading out on any road trips, drivers in California will want to stop and evaluate some of the most common risks that they could face on the road. These include distractions, fatigue and aggression. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham say that at least 20 percent of all fatal crashes are caused by drowsy driving. Furthermore, crashes with distracted drivers account for an average of nine deaths and thousands of injuries every day.

Drowsiness, in fact, could be considered a distraction in itself. In either case, the symptoms will be largely similar -- more frequent blinking, slower eye movements, constant drifting into other lanes, poor judgment and slower reaction times. Drivers who recognize the symptoms are encouraged to stop and take a nap. If this is not possible, they should drink caffeinated beverages and or engage in alertness-enhancing activities like talking or adjusting the radio.

HLDI study reveals that larger vehicles are safer

Car buyers in California and around the country who are concerned about safety are often drawn to vehicles with sophisticated crash avoidance systems and multiple airbags, but a study from the Highway Loss Data Institute suggests that they may be wiser to choose full-sized pickup trucks or luxury SUVs. The HLDI is a nonprofit organization that gathers and studies traffic accident and financial claims data on behalf of the insurance sector, and their analysis of vehicles available in the United States in 2014, 2015 and 2016 reveals that large SUVs and pickup trucks are the safest way to travel.

The HLDI research team assigned each vehicle a safety score based on the number and size of personal injury claims filed by accident victims. Scores were increased when vehicles were involved in an unusually high number of accidents or their occupants suffered particularly serious injuries. The benchmark score for the automobile industry as a whole was set at 100.

Pedestrians at risk from distracted driving

Taking a walk in California can become unexpectedly dangerous when a negligent or distracted driver causes a severe crash. There has been a rise in the number of pedestrian deaths in fatal motor vehicle accidents, and some experts note that an increase in distracted driving may be a major cause of the change. Since 2009, traffic deaths overall have risen by 11 percent, but pedestrian fatalities have grown by 46 percent in the same time frame.

The rise of the smartphone plays a major role in distracting both drivers and pedestrians. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of mobile phones in use in the United States has grown by 236 percent between 2010 and 2016. Those phones have also become much more powerful and offer a wide range of distracting apps, games and communication technologies. It is easy for a text message, email or video to divert a driver's attention from the road ahead. However, the consequences of a momentary distraction can be catastrophic.

GHSA studies effect of drugs on fatal car crash rates

Drugged driving is becoming more prevalent in California and the rest of the U.S. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association studied the fatal car crash data for 2016 and found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs came up positive; this is a jump from a decade ago when 26 percent of such drivers tested positive.

Among the drug-positive fatalities in 2016, 38 percent were found with some form of marijuana, 16 percent with opioids and 4 percent with both. Approximately 51 percent tested positive for two or more drugs, and 49 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for alcohol intoxication were also found with drugs in their system.

Steps to take immediately following an accident

Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye with little time to think. Most people are in a situation they've never been in before, so fear, confusion, anger and pain are emotions that drivers and passengers can feel in the aftermath. A person's actions immediately after an accident can have legal consequences in the future. California residents should keep the following in mind when they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.

There are some actions everyone must take immediately after a collision. First, steps should be taken to make sure everyone is safe. This includes the occupants of not only the driver's car but the other vehicle as well. The accident must be reported to law enforcement, even if there is no injury involved. Leaving the scene of an accident can be a serious charge and also affect the credibility of one who does so.

Putting air jets on motorcycles to prevent accidents

For California motorcycle riders, staying safe and avoiding becoming involved in crashes is essential. Due to the lack of protection even a minor accident could have a major impact on motorcycle riders. Bosch, an auto industry supplier, believes that adding air jets to a motorcycle could make it safer.

Bosch said that the air jets would help prevent a motorcyclist from losing control of the vehicle when the wheel slips. A sensor would be installed on the motorcycle to detect wheel slip. When the sensor senses that the motorcycle is beginning to slide sideways, gas would be released from an accumulator, providing just enough force to prevent the motorcycle from completely slipping. The motorcyclist would be able to regain control of the bike and prevent a potential spill.

How To Choose the Best Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury occurs when you are physically or emotionally hurt by someone else's actions.  In order to protect yourself and get proper compensation, you may need to hire a personal injury attorney to be by your side. It is important that you look for someone who has experience handling your personal injury claim and with whom you feel you can trust.  Here are some tips to help you find the best attorney to support you.

Before you meet with anyone, identify your needs. The type of case you have will change the type of attorney you will need to hire. For example, a straightforward car accident with minor injuries can be handled by most personal injury attorneys. However, more complex cases with serious physical/emotional injuries or death will require the attention of an experienced trial attorney. Even if your intention is to settle your case, insurance companies take into account an attorney's reputation when they decide how much to offer.  Attorney's who try cases are generally able to secure more for their clients than attorney's who do not tend to try cases.

Next, research several attorneys. You can gather a list by asking friends and acquaintances who have been represented by a lawyer in their own personal injury claims or know someone who has.  The internet is another place to gather information and names. Be sure to look at the actual attorney profiles. How long have they been in practice? Have they help leadership positions? Do they have a track record of trial results? Do they have a track record of settlement results? Do they have positive testimonials on their website?  Do they handle a bit of everything or are they more focused on personal injury. Once you have your list, take time to interview with more than one lawyer. First consultations are always free.

When meeting with attorneys, notice if you have a positive connection.  Are they focused on you without other interruptions? Do they make eye contact with you? Do they remember what you are saying? Do they keep you waiting without an apology? Do you feel like this is someone you can trust? When you ask questions, are they able to answer them without beating around bush? Are they able to answer all of your technical questions with knowledge?  

Tyrone Maho and Chad Prentice of Maho and Prentice LLP take pride in their ability to care and advocate for their clients. An example of testimonials which back this behavior are shown on their website as follows:

"Settling a case can be a long, stressful procedure.  Tyrone was there guiding and supporting me at all critical times."  Previous Client, Santa Barbara

"Chad is a true professional, kept me up to date on how things were going, gave me realistic advice on how everything would go, made his staff readily available when I had questions and really just made a literally painful situation kind of just go away." Joel Perez, Santa Barbara

Finally, be sure to bring any documentation you have from your accident such as copies of police reports, medical records and bills, income loss information, and all correspondence with the insurance company. When you finish your first visit, you should be able to walk away with an immediate action plan. If you feel confident with a lawyer's experience, and comfortable with his or her idea of how to proceed with your case, chances are good that you have found a lawyer with whom you can work.  

Pedestrian fatalities remain worryingly high

Road safety experts in California and around the country are extremely concerned about a recent and alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrian deaths in the United States increased by 9.5 percent in 2015 and another 9 percent in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and a report released in February by the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that they remained high in 2017.

Many experts believe that distraction lies at the root of the problem. That's why some jurisdictions, including the city of Montclair, have introduced regulations that ban pedestrians from using their cellphones while crossing the street. Car manufacturers have also been accused of not doing enough to address the issue. While automatic braking systems that could save pedestrian lives have been introduced in recent years, simple headlight improvements that could yield far more impressive safety dividends are being ignored, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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