Conservative Lawmakers In Louisiana Make A Move To Limit Car Accident Compensation

Car accidents are extremely common. You won’t live your life without being involved in at least a few. That’s why car accident lawsuits are common too. People get badly injured, or even worse, are killed. Generally speaking, people can be barred from building a case against an at-fault driver in court when insurance-related alternatives are available. That means that insurance companies themselves are often the target of these lawsuits.

Republican lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing to place strict caps on damages recouped by drivers involved in car accidents. Not only will this result in unfair compensation, but lawyers will make less money too. And that’s not necessarily a good thing, since most personal injury lawyers are paid only if they win a case. The new Republican push might result in unexpected blowback somewhere down the road — but no one’s thinking of that.

Those in favor of the potential legislation believe that these lawsuits result in higher insurance rates. They believe that the state might gain more business if the rules are changed. But opponents of the legislation say that there’s no reason to believe that, and ask for empirical data to support those claims. To date, there’s none forthcoming.

Worse, those involved in terrible car accidents might never be able to recover financially if the caps are placed.

Representative Sherman Mack is battling to become the next House speaker in the state of Louisiana, and he contended that this law would become “the biggest copic you’re going to hear most about in this next legislative session. We have to let the middle class and the public know that we are attempting as the leaders of this state to help them with these high insurance rates.”

But everyone acknowledges that the state needs to make some changes to address the rising premiums, which are currently around an average $2,200 annual rate, second-highest in the nation.

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards said, “I know that there is some movement, some compromise that’s possible.” But he also acknowledged that he doesn’t plan on “creating any red lines” as far as damages limitations are concerned. 

Republican Senator Rick Ward doesn’t necessarily agree that new legislation would result in lower rates. “We can certainly take a look at how we differ from other states, but the problem there is I think a lot of times … the reason the general public doesn’t trust us is because we go out and sell something, and then we pass what we sell and then it never materializes.”

He continued, “So, if we all go run around the state and tell everybody that we’re going to pass this and you’re going to see your insurance rates reduced, what happens in two years whenever we passed it and their rates don’t reduce?”

Are Car Accidents On The Decline? Safer Vehicles Reducing Fatalities!

Car accidents are still a leading cause of death in the United States (although they’re still not really comparable to heart disease and cancer, which rank numbers one and two). Vehicle-related fatalities run in the tens of thousands per year, but there’s good news: The number of fatalities is on the decline two years running. Around 36,500 people were killed in 2018, but that represented an important 2.4 percent reduction in the number of average annual deaths.

Statistics for car accident fatalities can be difficult to look at, because they often hit peaks and troughs. In 1970, for example, the number of deaths hit a peak of 52,627 in the United States. They then declined until 1975, getting down to 44,525 before beginning to climb once again. They’ve been going up and down ever since, but the overall trend for the past decade is down, down, down.

A big dip occurred between 2007 and 2008, from 41,259 to 37,423 dead.

Why are car accident fatalities going down so much? A lot of reasons, but there are two big ones. First, it’s important to know that pedestrian deaths are included in yearly car accident fatality statistics. That means anyone hit by a car when out for a walk becomes a number on a graph. Sadly, pedestrian deaths have actually been trending up. This is in part because more people have been exercising alongside roads over the past decade.

There’s hope that this number will decline as more people begin to use the dedicated foot traffic pathways or bike paths that are being built at increasing rates. The number will also likely diminish as onboard artificial intelligence software begins to use driverless technology to stop whenever a pedestrian gets in the way. This technology is expected to be implemented at a much higher rate over the next few years. 

That same technology will likely reduce the number of car accidents in general even further. Automated software has been implemented slowly over the past decade: features like automated parking, rearview camera, and automated braking are included in almost every new model of vehicle sold. As more people transition to newer models, we can expect the number of car accident fatalities and pedestrian deaths to go way, way down.

Although it seems nearly impossible, we might be approaching the day when the number almost disappears completely. That’s because full automation is probably coming within at least another decade. If politicians decide to enforce laws banning other vehicles from city roads, for example, then we can expect the number of people killed in car accidents to flatline.

Car Accidents In Review: Last Week

37,000 Americans die in car accidents every year, many of which involve distracted driving behaviors like texting, talking on the phone, or listening to music. Many of the dead include children aged 16 to 20. These are last week’s car accidents in review!

56-year-old actress Helen Hunt was riding in the back seat when she was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, California. The SUV flipped when the vehicle was struck. She was temporarily hospitalized, but released only a few hours later with minor injuries.

A gravel truck driver in Howard County, Maryland overturned his vehicle after striking another car trying to turn left onto River’s Edge Road. The driver was killed. U.S. Route 29 was temporarily closed while authorities cleaned the site of the accident.

There was a four-car accident in Osceola, Indiana earlier last week, sending two people to the hospital. One vehicle whose driver is likely at fault smashed into another car head-on, forcing it off the road and nearly pushing it into the nearby river. Chief Mike Mclain said that authorities would release more details after they investigate.

A tragic accident occurred on the Ben Shemen interchange (Highway 4) in Israel, leaving a 12-year-old girl and pregnant mother dead at the scene. When the mother was pronounced dead, medical personnel at the hospital successfully delivered the baby in serious condition. Two other passengers, an 8-year-old daughter and her father, survived the accident with minor injuries.

Car accidents like these occur every second of every day — and yet many of us continue to fail to take seriously the consequences of those accidents. Don’t forget that there are many options available to you after a car accident that was not your fault. You deserve compensation for injuries and trauma sustained.

Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means they don’t get paid unless you do. That means there’s no reason to try to file a lawsuit on your own. 

If you were in a car accident, try to document the events that led up to the accident as best you can. Photograph your vehicle. Photograph your injuries. Keep a journal of your daily thoughts and feelings after the accident. Make sure your bills are all forwarded to the attorney of your choice.

Not sure which personal injury or car accident lawyer is for you? Most reputable lawyers will provide you with a free consult. There’s no reason not to ask around!

Whistleblowing Lawyer Takes On The Auto Industry To Make Your Trip Safer

You might have heard about one of the biggest recalls in the history of the auto industry: 30 million General Motors cars were taken off the roads when Lance Cooper, a 56-year-old attorney, found out about faulty ignition switches in their vehicles. Before those vehicles were removed from the streets, at least 124 people died because of the defect. 

What you might find most disconcerting about the news, however, is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t know anything about it. 

Cooper discussed the problem with the Free Press: “Frankly, I’m skeptical of government bureaucracies.”

And who can blame him? The government might do the best it can, but people are still dying because the “best it can” isn’t good enough. 29 million vehicles were recalled in 2018 by order of the NHTSA, but Cooper fears there might be many more cars out there with similarly faulty mechanisms to the GM fiasco. 

“The best way to hold automakers accountable is through the civil justice system,” Cooper said, propping up the legal work his firm does to protect consumers. He might be onto something. In the 1970s, exploding gas tanks killed up to 180 people by some estimates. Lawyers were the ones to hold Ford accountable for the deaths. And barely fifteen years ago, a Firestone tire defect killed hundreds. 

One of those killed by the exploding tires was a 14-year-old girl, whose parents filed a lawsuit using the services of a lawyer named Randy Roberts. Once again, lawyers got to the bottom of it. The vehicle the girl’s parents had been driving lost the tread of its left-rear tire, which resulted in the vehicle flipping and rolling. Roberts subpoenaed Firestone and won the documents he needed to prove wrongdoing. 

While Roberts was on the Firestone case, so were others. Roberts found them, collaborated with them, and it was that collaboration that led to the massive Firestone recall — also by order of the NHTSA

Cooper said, “Toyota’s unintended acceleration, it wasn’t NHTSA that uncovered that — it was trial lawyers who used the civil justice system to uncover corporate malfeasance.”

And it’s through such service that Cooper wants to reduce the stigma against lawyers, who people sometimes see as greedy parasites who are out for themselves and no one else. It’s not always true. Some lawyers simply want to defend those who don’t know the law well enough to defend themselves, or those who can’t afford to take the chance.

Artificial Intelligence Making A Number Of Industries Safer, Not Just Vehicles

Most of us know exactly how scary a car accident can be. This is especially true when someone is injured in the collision. Arriving authorities, paramedics included, must often administer immediate treatments after making a diagnosis — and rarely is there any time at all to hesitate. Because there is so little time when lives are in the balance, misdiagnosis of injuries after a car accident is a common form of medical malpractice.

We know the story here at home, but how about abroad? It turns out the statistics are very familiar: The European Commission of Mobility and Transport acknowledged that about 44 percent of car accident-related fatalities might not have occurred had reliable and accurate information been recorded directly after the accident.

Believe it or not, most fatalities that result from car accidents don’t actually occur at the scene of the accident — they occur either in transport to the hospital, at the hospital, or even at home. The ECMT said about 32 percent of recorded car accident fatalities occurred when victims were transported to the wrong hospital for their injuries, while 12 percent died because no information was available at all.

That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play.

Machine learning has grown exponentially over the last few years, and is expected to grow at the same or greater rate for decades longer. 

A company called MDGo founded by Dr. Itay Bengad, Eli Zerah, and Gilad Avrashi last year is combining artificial intelligence and machine learning technology with healthcare, especially in the niche of car accidents. MDGo is using a predictive technology using sensors that already exist on new vehicles.

These sensors would automatically provide doctors and surgeons with real-time information on the nature of the car accident and the likely injuries sustained by passengers at the time of the crash. The report includes damage to the vehicle — but more importantly it will provide specific information about the injuries sustained, such as type of injury and severity. 

The information will also help first responders and coordinators make better decisions about where to send patients for the most accurate treatment possible. In the future, it is likely the MDGo tech will be combined with driverless vehicles to provide even more information about the circumstances related to the car accident.

The AI is expected to reduce car accident-related fatalities both short- and long-term, while also slashing healthcare expenses for those who need post-accident care. Better yet, the system should reduce the number of lawsuits that result from these accidents.

Who Will Be Held Liable For Car Accidents Involving Driverless Vehicles?

It’s a question you’ll hear asked often enough in the coming years as more and more car manufacturers begin to add automated cars to their yearly lineup: who is liable for an accident involving a driverless vehicle? Many car manufacturers are adding features similar to Tesla’s autopilot already, software which is itself becoming much more advanced and allows the driver to hand over control to the onboard computer when driving on certain roads.

Apple is working on a program of its own and has about 66 driverless minivans operating in California. The Audi A8 will allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel already, but only at speeds at or below 37 mpg. Volvo is aiming for a 2021 rollout for self-driving technology. BMW plans to get their own driverless vehicles on the road in the same year. 

No matter where you look, it seems like the early 2020s will be the era of the autonomous vehicle, and most car manufacturers are aiming for similar target dates. These vehicles will not be fully autonomous — they won’t use fully enabled level 5 automation, in other words. Instead they’ll rely on weak level 4 or advanced level 3 automation, which basically means the driver still needs to maintain awareness of what the technology is doing in order to prevent accidents.

Unfortunately for the drivers, this will place the burden of liability squarely on their shoulders in the foreseeable future. Most “scandals” involving driverless vehicle accidents until now are the result of lazy human passengers who decided to place trust in a technology that wasn’t supposed to be trusted yet. That makes them mostly responsible for the resulting injuries and fatalities.

However at some point in the future we will reach level 5 automation and passengers in these vehicles will not be expected to pay attention to the road. When this happens the burden of liability will shift primarily from the passenger over to other parties, including manufacturers, used car dealerships, and potentially mechanics or would-be saboteurs. The only case in which the driver would still be held responsible would be if the driver had tried to reprogram or work on the vehicle in a way that rendered the onboard software defective.

Unsurprisingly, the United States Federal Government is still slow to write new laws for the new technology. The Brits have outpaced us, already preparing for the future of driverless vehicles — and quite possibly they’ll therefore have legal access to these vehicles faster than we will if politicians don’t speed things up!

The New Car Technology That Will Make Your Trip To Work Easier In 2020

Automobiles are changing. Technological progress follows an exponential curve, which means the more time goes by, the faster technology changes. This is especially true for cars, which are beginning to implement safety tech faster than ever before. What’s more, some newer vehicles are even using learning software to “teach” older models how to drive more safely. These are a few of the new car technologies that will make your trip to work just a little bit easier in 2020 and beyond.

The 2020 Nissan Altima. Although the price is going up, so are its capabilities. The “Safety Shield 360” will implement a “ProPilot Assist” that will automatically keep a driver from veering too far from the center of a lane. An adaptive cruise control will also function somewhat like Tesla’s Autopilot does (during some highway driving, you can hand over most of the responsibility to the computer so long as your hands are on the steering wheel and you’re ready to take over at a moment’s notice).

In addition, the Altima will detect pedestrians and automatically brake when necessary. The cameras will monitor and detect cars both in front of you and behind, providing collision warnings or, once again, braking when necessary. There are a number of other safety features included in the package.

Toyota Manufacturing. This carmaker plans to introduce a number of electric vehicles in the coming years, which should help it catch up to other carmakers who are already doing the same. Toyota had previously provided a sales outline that included 5.5 million electric cars by 2030, but now the company has moved up the timeline to 2025.

Toyota also plans to unveil a solid-state battery “if possible” by the time the Olympic games take place. This follows an agreement by Toyota and Panasonic to research, develop, and manufacture batteries based on solid-state designs. In order to increase sales of both these batteries (when they release) and its platform of electric vehicles, Toyota has also paired with Subaru.

Toyota Lexus. This automaker recently unveiled plans for the “Lexus Safety System Plus” standardization in 2020. These safety measures help vehicles detect potential crashes in order to prevent them. The Lexus version of adaptive cruise control doesn’t work like the Altima’s; instead, it allows you to set both speed and following distance. If the set speed would take you too close to the car in front of yours, then the vehicle will slow down.

The vehicles will also come with automatic high beams to prevent blinding unwary drivers, lane departure warnings (steering-wheel vibration in conjunction with audio-visual warnings), and automatic emergency braking to prevent crashing into the vehicle in front of you. The Lexus will also detect pedestrians.

 

Driving At Night Is Dangerous

According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night than it is during the day. Factors contributing to this include night vision, rush hour traffic, impaired drivers from drugs and alcohol, shorter days and fatigue. It also doesn’t help that in dark things such as depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision all decrease. Bright headlights from oncoming traffic can also cause a driver to squint or be temporarily blinded from the road. And on dark roads with no street lights, visibility from headlights even on the highest setting is reduced up to 50%.

So what can you do to help prevent accidents at night? Make sure your headlights are aimed correctly and are thoroughly cleaned. Avoid speeding to make sure you can stop in time and clean your windshield to eliminate glare from oncoming headlights. If you wear glasses, making sure the lens are anti-reflective can also help at night.

If you suffer from bad night vision, the American Optometric Association recommends having annual vision exams, driving slowly, minimize the amount of distracted driving at night (such as listening to the radio or bringing passengers into the car). Elderly people might suffer from cataracts or degenerative eye disease so it recommended that they don’t drive at night.

A National Sleep Foundation poll says that 60% of adults have driven while they were tired and roughly 4 million of them have admitted that they have caused a crash by falling asleep while driving. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said that 100,000 police reported crashes were a result of driver fatigue. To prevent drowsy driving, getting proper sleep at night and only driving during hours you are normally awake can help prevent accidents.

Driving at night is unavoidable but if there’s option to wait until morning, it might be the safest thing you can do.

Could A Hacker Cause Your Car Accident in 2019?

The world is growing increasingly complex. Our technology sometimes seems to get away from us, so the question of whether or not our safety standards are outpacing it is worth asking. Unfortunately, it seems like safety standards will never be enough. There are creative criminals out there working to hack into your vehicles–heck, even the government could become a capable car hacker in the years ahead. Yes, it is possible for a hacker to cause a car accident in 2019.

There are only about 330 million people living in the United States–including those who are too young or too old to drive–but somehow we manage to register about 250 million vehicles every year in our country alone. That’s a scary statistic, since many of those cars are new. These are the vehicles that are more likely to be connected to wi-fi, and that means that hackers can potentially do some damage.

But how do they do it?

They do it by hijacking the controller area network (or CAN) that cars use. Think of it as your car’s “brain” sending out signals to various parts, each performing a separate task. CAN’s creators didn’t really consider cybersecurity when they developed it in the 80s, so now we’re at risk.

All right, so hackers can take over your vehicle. What can they do?

Well, what they can do is determined by which parts of your vehicle are controlled by that computer automation. The list is getting more expansive year by year: stability control, anti-lock brakes, airbags, headlights, lane guidance, or even Tesla’s controversial autopilot system. This is all child’s play compared to the inevitable wave of automated vehicles on the horizon. When full automation is allowed on the roads, then hackers can do a lot more.

How do I know if my vehicle has been hacked?

When your car’s electronics stop working or start to behave erratically, you might blame hacking. If you suspect this to be the case, then it’s time to contact a lawyer. This is especially true if you were injured in a car accident because of the potential intrusion. Your lawyer will help you contact the authorities, perform an investigation, and seek compensation for any damage done.

The Most Common Types Of Motorcycle Accident Injuries

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that there are a far greater number of motorcycle accident injuries than automobile accident injuries. Bikes aren’t nearly as safe as motor vehicles or trucks, and that can only be compounded by the thrill-seeking personality of most motorcyclists. Insurance premiums for these vehicles are often more expensive not only because of the number of accidents, but also because of how catastrophic they usually are.

Here are a few of the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries:

Road Rash. Have you ever had a really bad rug burn? A terrible noogie? Well, road rash is indescribably worse. When your bike tips and slides at high speeds, you’ll suffer from road rash. At that point you may have been flung away from the bike and started to rub against the pavement all by yourself. No protective gear or clothing is enough to prevent the skin loss that results.

The injury is often made worse by subsequent irritation, inflammation, and infection. Hopefully you won’t need skin grafts.

Muscle. Doctors and surgeons will often notice muscle damage after motorcycle accidents. If an accident leaves you paralyzed, your muscles will start to wither away. Any major injury will require physical therapy in order to build you back up to where you were before the accident.

Don’t forget about the loud sounds of the roadways–wear earplugs or buy a helmet that protects your ears in order to prevent bursting eardrums of an increased chance of deafness later in life.

Legs and Arms. When you fall–this is after the road rash but before the muscle damage becomes permanent–you’ll likely experience damage to the leg and arm on the side of the impact. Broken or shattered bones are commonplace, or perhaps you’ll be fortunate enough to experience only scrapes and lacerations.

Biker’s arm occurs because of the instinctual reaction to being flung from a high-speed vehicle. When you place your hands and arms in front of your face, you won’t just suffer from broken bones–you’ll suffer from nerve damage.

Other. You’re also prone to permanent disfigurement, amputation, paralysis, and traumatic brain injury (or TBI). About ten percent of individuals who experience TBI cannot live on their own after the accident because of permanent neurological damage. Be sure to wear a helmet when you’re on the road!