January 2012 Archives

Excessive Speed Causes Fatal Accident During High Speed Chase; MU Freshman Killed

January 24, 2012

172434_accident_1.jpgOur Columbia, Missouri car accident attorneys feel strongly that car accidents happen because there are drivers who make bad decisions. We're very passionate about being advocates for the victims of these accidents, who frequently find their lives irrevocably changed because of someone else's poor choices. For example, when a driver chooses to run from law enforcement, he or she is choosing to endanger other passengers, nearby motorists, and innocent bystanders. The consequences of that choice are often deadly.

Tragically, a Mizzou student was killed last weekend after a high speed chase ended violently. It all started around 2:30 a.m. Sunday in Versailles, IL, when a Brown County sheriff's deputy responded to reports of a pickup truck driving through yards and vandalizing property. As the deputy talked with the victim, the victim observed the vehicle in question passing by the house. According to Sheriff Karl Groesch, "The deputy tried to stop the vehicle and that's when the vehicle accelerated through a stop sign and left Versailles at a high rate of speed."

The pickup truck led law enforcement on a chase through 2 Illinois counties, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph. By 2:50 a.m., Cass County authorities received reports that the pickup was passing through Beardstown, IL. The truck continued traveling at excessive speeds and running stop signs until it eventually struck a utility pole and flipped over.

The truck was carrying 6 occupants. 19 year-old Brianna Baker, an MU freshman and a passenger in the pickup, died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. One other passenger - 18 year-old Brooke Vonholt of Clayton, IL - was injured and taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The other four occupants of the vehicle were uninjured.

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Insurance Paperwork and Jefferson City, Missouri Auto Accidents: What Drivers Should Know

January 23, 2012

1221951_to_sign_a_contract_2.jpgOver 200 car accidents occur each day in Missouri, and the Jefferson City-Columbia area gets its fair share. Statistics indicate that all drivers are likely to be in a car or truck crash at some point in their lives. Our Columbia, Missouri car accident attorneys know from experience that many insurance companies use specific tactics designed to discredit your claim: in the end, they want to pay out as little as possible. Once you have sought the appropriate medical care for your injuries, you must also ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Tips For Dealing With Insurance Paperwork after a Missouri Auto Accident:

Call the police. If you are involved with another vehicle (or a pedestrian), call the police immediately. This step is important even if it appears that no one was injured, because the police will create a formal accident report. This report will be useful if and when the insurance companies determine fault.

Notify your insurance company within twenty four hours. Do not delay! Many insurance policies have reporting deadlines: if you miss those deadlines, you may lose your coverage and receive nothing.

Don't give a recorded statement. It is not unusual for an insurance adjuster to call and request a recorded statement within a day or two following your accident. However, you might not have total knowledge of the severity of your injuries at that point. Also, the adjuster may ask leading questions, which can prompt you to say something that will later be used against you in court.

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Can Trace Amounts of Alcohol Cause Drunk Driving in Camdenton, Missouri and Elsewhere?

January 19, 2012

1171697_a_beer_in_a_pub.jpgOver the holiday season, our Camdenton, Missouri car accident attorneys sponsored an initiative called Project Roadblock, which aimed to raise awareness about drunk driving dangers. The campaign's slogan was "buzzed driving is drunk driving," which we found especially apt. It's not uncommon to think, "I'm perfectly fine to drive - I just had a couple of drinks with dinner." But making a distinction between "buzzed" and "drunk" is dangerous and irresponsible for many reasons: namely, because consuming any amount of alcohol can impair a driver's focus, decision making, and reaction time.

According to a research study reported by ABC News and published in Addiction Treatment Magazine, drinking a few sips of wine or half a beer can create a buzz that significantly increases the likelihood of accident, causing injuries or even fatalities. Sociologists David Phillips and Kimberly M. Brewer studied fatal car accidents between 1994 and 2008, using federal statistics. Their findings: "Accident severity increases significantly even when the driver is merely 'buzzed.'"

Citing their research, Phillips and Brewer hold that the legal blood alcohol limit should be lowered. Sounds extreme? Perhaps not, as their study demonstrates that a blood alcohol level as low as .01% raises the chance of a fatal injury accident. When compared to other countries, ABC reports that the U.S. standard of .08% is generally seen as "permissive." In some places (Brazil and Russia, for example), it's illegal to drive if you've consumed any alcohol, even just a few sips. Sweden, China and Puerto Rico also have extremely low legal limits at .02%, while Japan's limit is 0.3%. Worldwide, the average is around .05%.

While most drivers understand that drunk driving is dangerous, many have shockingly cavalier attitudes about driving while "buzzed." Remember that a "buzz" leads to a "devil may care" attitude: risk taking, a feeling of invincibility, and slower reaction times. It also invites distractions, such as the playing of loud music, talking to friends, eating, and texting. Drivers with as little as .01% alcohol in their blood stream are more likely to break traffic laws by speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and crashing into other cars.

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Safety Restraints are Crucial - and Required by Law - to Protect Children in Columbia and Throughout Missouri

January 18, 2012

647050_safety_belt_2.jpgIt's no secret that our Columbia car accident attorneys strongly support any and all measures that make Missouri drivers safer. Unfortunately, the most basic measure available - the use of safety restraints - is often neglected by drivers. We've worked with clients whose lives were saved by seat belts, and we've seen cases where failing to buckle up resulted in serious injuries or death. We remind you again to fasten your seat belts and insist that your passengers do the same: it's Missouri law, and it's just good sense. Furthermore, since car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14, parents need to know which measures are appropriate, given the sizes and ages of their children.

Consider a Missouri accident that happened last week: a rear end collision in Arbyrd resulted in head injuries to a 3 year-old child. The child was wearing a seat belt, but he was not placed in a child safety seat. No one else was injured, but the child was airlifted to a children's hospital.

As we can see, children are especially vulnerable to injury in car collisions - even minor ones - so it's all the more imperative that they receive the best possible protection. Missouri law requires that all children who are under the age of 4 (or who weigh less than 40 pounds) use a car seat with a five-point harness.

Here in Columbia, readers may also remember a terrible accident last year that seriously injured a five year old boy who wasn't properly restrained. Lucas Klaus was a passenger in a vehicle that ran off the road, then traveled approximately 300 feet, fortunately stopping right before it went into a creek. Because Lucas was wearing no safety restraint, he was found outside the vehicle. He was life-flighted to University Hospital in Columbia.

According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. 32-year-old Elizabeth Klaus was also taken to University Hospital with minor injuries. She was released on Tuesday and turned herself into the Boone County Jail. She posted a $9,000 bond after being arrested on suspicion of a third DWI and 2nd degree assault.

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Winter Weather Causes Several Columbia, Missouri Traffic Issues

January 13, 2012

1336026_snow.jpgIt's official: winter has arrived. Yesterday, Boone County snow accumulation totals ranged from one to three inches, which caused dangerous driving conditions and prompted school closings in the Columbia area. As the winter season progresses, the Columbia, Missouri car accident attorneys advise you to be mindful of road conditions, and vigilant about safe driving practices. These behaviors reduce your chances of becoming an accident victim, especially in inclement weather.

City crews began working to clear streets at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, when the winter weather advisory took effect. Seven plows salted and pre-treated bridges, first-priority streets and second-priority streets, covering 171 miles even before the snow started to fall. Then, at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday, a full crew of 22 plows began tackling residential neighborhoods. In addition, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) had 225 trucks operating statewide, 25 of which were stationed in Boone County.

Roads that carry the heaviest traffic - like Broadway and Vandiver Drive - are classified as first-priority streets for city crews. Routes to schools and hospitals are second-priority. MoDOT crews handle state roads, like Stadium Drive, I-70 and Highway 63.

Statewide, the winter weather caused hundreds of accidents and traffic problems. In Columbia, local police investigated seven snow related accidents between midnight and 8:00 a.m. Conditions remained treacherous during the Thursday morning commute: the Columbia Transit system was forced to shift to their Emergency Weather Schedule, and several other accidents were reported. According to the Joint Communications Center, there were approximately four collisions (either between vehicles or between a vehicle and a non-moving structure) and approximately six slide-off accidents.

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Soft Tissue Injuries & Car Crashes: What Jefferson City, Missouri Motorists Should Know

January 12, 2012

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgThe Jefferson City, Missouri auto accident attorneys frequently consult clients who have suffered soft tissue injuries in car collisions. Soft tissue injuries involve damage to parts of the body that are non-bony, usually muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Their most common incarnations are sprains, strains, and tears.

Soft tissue injuries are caused by trauma. In the seconds just before a collision occurs, it's common for a driver to slam on the brakes and brace for impact. These are both instinctive reactions, but the resulting jolting can cause trauma to the body's soft tissues. Then, the impact of the accident itself will cause additional jolting. All of this jarring can stretch soft tissues, resulting in pain, soreness, redness, and swelling (among other possible symptoms).

One very common soft tissue injury resulting from car crashes is whiplash, an injury to the neck, which occurs when the victim's head suddenly jerks backward and then forward. These extreme motions force the neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion: the weight of the head exerts extensive pressure on the neck. All whiplash injuries are different: some people can recover in a short time, but others can develop chronic conditions that are extremely painful and disabling, including joint dysfunction, herniated discs of the spine, chronic pain, etc. Whiplash frequently occurs when one car is rear-ended by another, causing the occupants of the front car to experience a sudden impact that jerks the head back and forth.

Typically, those who have suffered a soft issue injury experience inflammation and pain, but these symptoms often don't appear for several hours. For some accident victims, it takes days before they know how badly they're hurt.

Damage to soft tissue can result in painful, serious injuries that can impact your life in a variety of ways. You may lose sleep due to the pain. You may have to take time off of work, losing sick or vacation time. You may find that you are unable to complete certain activities, so that the quality of your everyday life is changed.

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Pilot Programs Address Distracted Driving Issues Affecting Motorists in Columbia, Missouri and Nationwide

January 4, 2012

Columbia, Missouri auto accident lawyers have had many clients who were injured in accidents caused by distracted driving. It's a difficult modern problem that continues to grow, not just in Columbia and Jefferson City, but throughout the country: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently recommended that a total ban on cell phones be implemented for drivers nationwide. So, we were pleased to hear that two pilot programs led to reductions in distracted driving and its related traffic accidents.

52617_mobile_phone.jpgIn 2009, nearly 5,500 fatalities and another half million injuries resulted from traffic crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, distraction-related fatalities accounted for 16 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities in 2009.

Pilot Programs Attempt to Curb Distracted Driving

The anti-distracted driving programs took place in Syracuse, New York and Hartford, Connecticut. They involved both increased law enforcement efforts as well as big, high-profile public awareness campaigns.

The two programs were funded by $200,000 in federal money and $100,000 from the states. The goal was to determine if increased police enforcement along with paid ads and news coverage could reduce distracted driving. "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" was the campaign's slogan, similar to the highly successful nationwide campaign to promote seat belt use, "Click It or Ticket."

Syracuse police had four periods of increased enforcement last year, issuing 9,587 tickets for talking on cell phones or texting while driving. Hartford Police issued 9,658 tickets for illegal phone use during the same period of time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actively observed cell phone use along with public awareness surveys in the two cities. Keep reading to see what they found...

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Jefferson City, Missouri Car Accident Attorneys Help Injury Victims Determine the Best Course of Action

January 3, 2012

When it comes to pursuing a personal injury or car accident claim there are several factors to consider. Jefferson City, Missouri car accident lawyers examine at these factors to help our clients decide if they have a case that can be successfully pursued through legal channels. In a free initial consultation meeting, one of our lawyers evaluates the following information.

1088819262-1249.jpgJefferson City car accident lawyers ask--and help clients answer--these questions:

*How serious was the injury and/or damage to personal property?
*How much has the car accident cost so far?
*What are the the current and potential medical costs?
*Has there been significant emotional pain or suffering?
*Have daily routines and activities changed because of the traffic accident?
*How much current and potential rehabilitation is required?
*Have injuries made working impossible?
*Is there income that has been lost as a result of the accident? Is there potential for additional lost wages?
*Who was at fault, and was the car crash covered by insurance?
*What, if anything, has been paid by insurance so far?

These questions and others are then used to determine if personal injury case exists. If yes, the next step is to decide whether or not pursuing that case will benefit the client.

In making that decision, there are more factors to consider: a car accident lawyer can provide the information necessary to help a client make an informed decision. A personal injury case can be an extended process, and this factor--and others--must be considered.

The following information helps us advise clients about whether or not to pursue a claim:

*How much time will the case take, and is it worth that time to the client?
*Is there an offer from an insurance company? If so, is that offer valid?
*Does it make sense to accept an insurance company's offer or to pursue additional compensation?
*How can an accident attorney be of service in this particular case?
*Have all future considerations been fully explored?

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