Mar 08 2019

Staying Safe As a Winter Driver in Utah

Negligence is one of the top causes of auto accidents that lead to personal injury cases, and this is particularly true during the winter in places like Utah. Snow, ice, and various other winter conditions make roads much riskier during and after storms, but not all drivers are conscious of this and many take a risky approach on the roads.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, there’s always a car accident attorney available to help if you’re involved in an incident with one such driver. We can ensure you get the proper compensation if your accident was caused by winter-related negligence by the other party, and we’re also here to provide some tips to keep yourself safe from this happening to begin with – driving safely isn’t only about you, but also about protecting yourself from the possibility of poor driving by others sharing the road. Whether you’ve been involved in such a case in the past or not, here are a few important areas for staying safe on the road during winter.

safe winter driver Utah

Clean Vehicle

Both for your own safety and that of others on the road, you should not drive your vehicle if it’s full of snow and ice accumulations on the windshield, windows, rear windows or even the roof. Slabs and chunks may fall off as you drive and make things less safe for other vehicles, especially trucks. There are even situations where you can be fined or cited for driving with roof or other snow accumulation on the vehicle, even if no damage is created. You may also be liable in civil court if these issues cause you to be responsible for an accident.

Speed Concerns

While speed limits for given areas are there for a reason and should always be respected, they may not go far enough when you’re dealing with winter driving conditions. They’re meant for optimal road conditions, not those with significant hazards present.
In these cases, you can absolutely be driving unsafely even if you’re doing a speed well below the limit. The National Safety Council recommends at least a three-second following distance during good driving conditions – you should at least double that when there’s snow or ice on the ground, and you should limit your speed with turning as well.

Passing Snowplows

Never attempt to pass a snowplow on your side of the road for any reason. Stay at least six car lengths behind it and move away from the center line if one is approaching from the opposite side.

Understanding Brakes

The kind of brakes you have in your car should dictate how you use them in snow or ice. If you have antilock brakes, you should maintain steady pressure while braking and never pump for any reason. If you have standard brakes, though, you can pump them to avoid skidding. If the car starts to fishtail in any situation, steer in the direction you want to go, not the opposite one.

For more on staying safe on the road during winter, or to learn about any of our auto accident or personal injury lawyers and what they can do for your case, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Mar 01 2019

Premise Liability and Slip-and-Fall Cases

The world of personal injury is a wide one within the law, covering everything from vehicle accidents (some of the most common cases) to numerous other situations that might involve injury. One such situation is the slip-and-fall scenario, which can take place in a variety of locations and might be due to negligence or lack of warning by a business or property owner in some cases. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we can help with all personal injury cases, including these situations. When it comes to slip-and-fall incidents, we’ve found there’s some confusion among those who use the term “premise liability” interchangeably – the two terms are very similar, but are not the same. In fact, premise liability is actually more of an umbrella term that refers to several personal injury claim types. Let’s look at the basics of premise liability, plus several examples that include slips and falls.
premise liability slip-and-fall cases

Basics of Premise Liability

Premise liability, as the name suggests, is related to an individual or business’s responsibility to maintain safe, reasonable conditions on their property. If they fail to do so due to negligence, and someone sustains an injury due to these conditions and/or this negligence, it’s possible that the injured party will have a personal injury case falling under the category of premise liability.

For a successful premise liability case, you have to be able to prove specifically that the owner’s negligence caused the unsafe condition that led to your injury. Just being injured on another’s property isn’t enough, nor is the fact that the property was unsafe – if either of those conditions takes place independently of the other, you have no case. You have to prove that a hazard existed, the owner was aware of it, and did not do enough to remedy it.

Premise Liability Examples – Including Slips and Falls

Some examples of broad situations that would fall under premise liability include:

  • Inadequate maintenance to facilities
  • Snow or ice accidents
  • Inadequate security for certain building types
  • Improperly maintained elevators leading to accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Dog bite incidents
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Amusement park liability issues
  • Slips and falls with outside liability

It’s important to note that in any premise liability case, just like with many issues of liability and personal injury, it’s possible for more than one party to have some fault in an injury or accident. This is particularly true in the cases of slips and falls, where it might indeed be true that a business or property owner was negligent – but where you also may have had liability for being in the area to begin with.

Perhaps there was no good reason for you to be there, or maybe there were warnings posted that you missed due to being distracted. Shared liability is possible in these cases, as is you simply being found fully liable if your own negligence is actually what caused the fall.

For more on separating premise liability from slips and falls, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Feb 18 2019

Basics on Auto Accidents and Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most common symptoms experienced by those who are in a car accident of any kind, and yet there are some who question whether it’s even a real medical condition. Because it’s not a proper medical term always used by doctors, some are confused about what the term actually means.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to tell you that whiplash from a car or truck accident is very real. In fact, the term and condition existed before cars were even invented. And if it happens to you in a car accident, one of our personal injury attorneys is standing by to consult with you about whether you might seek compensation from another party. Here are some basics to know on whiplash, including signs that you have it and how it’s treated.

basics auto accidents whiplash

Whiplash Basics and Causes

Whiplash is a broad term that actually describes a set of medical conditions that involve the ligaments, vertebrae and muscles in your neck and shoulders. It generally happens when the neck is extended forward suddenly by a violent force, such as a car accident. Your head is thrown backward but then forward, which stretches or tears the anterior longitudinal ligament – the ligament responsible for stability on the outer surface of the spine.

During whiplash, the spine may take an S shape, which leads to muscle injuries as well. The trapezius or supraspinatus muscles are common injury areas here, and often retain pain for weeks or months after.

Whiplash Symptoms

Now, it’s important to note that you don’t necessarily always have whiplash just because your head snapped back and forth. Rather, look for any of the following symptoms appearing within 24 hours:

  • Stiffness or increasing neck pain
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Limited range of movement in the neck
  • Numbness in the arm
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep issues

See a doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms – both for health reasons and because there may be a limit on your personal injury case if you wait too long.

How It’s Diagnosed

When you see a doctor, they will assess your reflexes, range of motion in the neck, and your limb strength. They may also order an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to confirm the diagnosis – this may reveal no whiplash in some cases, or in others may reveal a more significant injury like a fractured vertebrae.

How It’s Treated

The majority of treatment for whiplash will be rest and pain management, which can include heat or ice treatment, pain medications and possibly muscle relaxants. Exercise and stretching of the head and neck area may also be recommended. One big myth area to avoid during whiplash treatment: The foam collar around the neck that some people wear. This actually immobilizes the neck and delays recovery – the muscles in these areas need to move and stretch out to recover properly, and the foam collar doesn’t allow this.

For more on whiplash or whether it might impact your auto accident case, speak to the attorneys at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Feb 11 2019

Determining Liability for Multi-Car Accidents, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the complexities of a multi-car accident. These situations are a bit tougher to deal with when it comes to liability and damages than two-car collisions, and it’s important for anyone in this situation to know the options available to them.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys can help with this and all other questions about car accidents. Part one mostly focused on insurance and specific factors that may contribute to multi-car accidents (and their resulting damages); today, we’ll go over important information on mental trauma and how that’s considered, plus the steps for receiving compensation if you’re part of a multi-car accident that you believe you’re due damages for.

liability multi-car accidents

Mental Trauma Symptoms and Considerations

Like with any vehicle accident, multi-car collisions may involve mental trauma in addition to any physical injuries suffered. All car accidents are highly stressful in this manner, but those involving multiple cars – and potentially multiple successive dangerous scenarios – might make trauma symptoms even more severe. These symptoms may include the following areas:
  • Association issues: Your mind will try to protect itself from trauma by avoiding anything that associates it with the accident, such as driving by that same area or even, in some cases, getting behind the wheel of a car at all.
  • Sleep issues: The mind and body need rest to recover fully from a trauma, but this can be difficult to achieve due to stress. Some people find they can’t stop going back over the accident in their heads, and may find this creeping into sleepiness or fatigue during the day. If this is the case, speak to your doctor about solutions.
  • Eating concerns: Some people are focused on other things and struggle to eat due to anxiety. Others, however, may stress eat or emotionally overeat.
  • Anxiety: Some people become more anxious in general after an accident.
  • PTSD: Short for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD may be triggered by various memories or similarities to the accident. In some cases, PTSD can last for many years or even your entire life.

It’s important to note that anyone involved in an accident can experience this sort of trauma, even passengers who were not driving. It’s important to seek help for any of these concerns, and to document such help in detail – you may be eligible for damages in this area.

Receiving Compensation

In Utah, as we mentioned in part one of this blog, the first bit of coverage for your various accident-related expenses will come from your personal injury protection insurance, which is required under the state’s no-fault insurance laws. For this amount, it does not matter who was responsible.

However, once you exceed this limit, you may be due additional compensation in several areas:
  • Medical bills over the personal insurance limit, which can quickly be moved past.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering, including future quality of life.
  • Payment for hours missed at work, and resulting loss of compensation.
  • Any funeral and burial expenses associated with the accident if someone is killed.

For more on how liability works in multi-car accidents, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Feb 04 2019

Determining Liability for Multi-Car Accidents, Part 1

In most car accident situations, the legal ramifications in terms of fault and damages are fairly simple. One of the two drivers is usually at fault, and may bear liability to the other in terms of physical or emotional damages.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are here to help with these kinds of basic car accidents, but also with a more complex type: The multi-car accident. Liability may not be so simple in these cases, and determining responsibility may take a bit more work. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over some of the basics to consider if you’ve been involved in a multi-car accident.

liability multi-car accidents

More Than One At Fault

For starters, it’s important to note that there’s no set method for listing fault in these kinds of accidents. In some cases a single driver will have 100 percent of the fault placed on him or her, while in others multiple drivers may have some responsibility.

As an example, let’s say a driver rear-ends another, pushing the front car into yet another vehicle that’s in front of it. In this case, the driver of the first vehicle to make contact will be responsible for damages to both other vehicles, as they caused the damage. In other situations, though, multiple drivers can contribute to an accident taking place – think of a driver who goes through a red light at far too high a speed, but is then hit by someone who ran the opposing red light at the same intersection in an accident that also impacts a third vehicle. In this case, both the speeder and the driver who ran the red light could be at some degree of fault.

Insurance Considerations

When a multi-car accident takes place in Utah, the first consideration for all drivers involved, even those who may not have been at fault, is their insurance. Utah is a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning that you’ll first use your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance to pay for basic medical expenses or lost work time. Once this policy limit has been reached, which usually happens fairly quickly, drivers are able to use fault and liability to request damages from others involved in the accident.

Other Factors

Some other areas that may play a role in liability for multi-car accidents:

  • Driver sobriety: If an at-fault driver was drinking before the accident, it’s possible the local bar or restaurant that served them could be partially liable. This is particularly true if the establishment knew they were leaving behind the wheel of a car.
  • Type of vehicle: If a vehicle involved in the accident was commercial or the driver was on the clock for work purposes while driving, the company that employs the driver may have some liability as well.
  • Geographic features: In some cases, poor visibility or other driving conditions may have helped cause the accident. In this case, the city itself may bear some liability.

For more on determining liability in multi-car accidents, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 15 2019

Wrongful Death Claims for Workplace Accidents

For anyone who has lost a spouse in a workplace accident, dealing with the grief and emotional toll of the loss is always the first priority. Another that’s very important, however, is accounting for the well-being of children, paying for mortgages and other major expenses, and maintaining general quality of life despite this tragic event.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to help. Our attorneys are skilled in wrongful death litigation and settlements, helping you recover compensation that you and your family are due and allowing you to grieve properly.

In some cases, our clients are under the impression that due to worker’s compensation laws, wrongful death suits can never be filed with regard to workplace accidents. And while it’s true that civil actions against employers directly are blocked through these laws, this does not mean there are no actions potentially available to you here. Let’s go over the possibility for damages to be filed against a third party, plus what you might be able to recover here.

wrongful death workplace accidents

Wrongful Death and Third Party

In many cases, the actual death of your spouse or loved one in the workplace was not caused by the employer themselves. Some other potential causes or liable parties may include:

  • Manufacturers of dangerous or defective machines or pieces of equipment that led to the accident.
  • Owners of property where the accident occurred failing to remove a hazardous condition that caused the accident.
  • A third-party contractor or employee from another company who is on the premises and causes the accident.
  • Any other third party who, through negligence, caused the accident in question.

In these cases, you are absolutely within your rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While the employer in particular is exempt from this due to worker’s compensation laws, these third parties are not protected by these laws in any way.

Possible Damages

The general purpose of wrongful death lawsuits is to provide the spouse or other surviving family members with compensation for several things. These include lost wages, funeral an burial expenses, and others – in addition, the state of Utah also includes pain and suffering endured by family members, as well as loss of care and companionship, as potential damages. Finally, you may even be entitled to punitive damages in Utah if it’s determined that significant, avoidable negligence was practiced by a third party responsible for the accident.

In most cases, however, the majority of damages will focus on compensation for economic losses. Punitive damages will only be used for cases where intentional or reckless behavior was involved in the death – the point is to send a message that the court system will react harshly to this behavior, to help deter it in the future.

For more on filing a wrongful death suit for a workplace accident, or to learn about any of our personal injury or wrongful death attorney services, contact the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 10 2019

Basic Tips for Pedestrian Road Safety

Whether you like to take a stroll around the neighborhood in the evenings or you walk through a busy downtown area every day for work, most of us are pedestrians on the road at sometime or another. And while we all assume general safety during these situations based on traffic and pedestrian laws and visual assists like signs and crosswalks, the unfortunate fact is that pedestrians are hurt or killed every year in accidents that could have been avoided.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in an accident where someone else may be liable. But of course, we’d rather avoid these incidents altogether – here are some tips for staying safe during any periods where you’re a pedestrian, plus to avoid any potential liability if an accident does take place involving you (yes, pedestrians can be partially or fully at fault for accidents if they were not obeying the law).

tips pedestrian road safety

Be Visible

You should make efforts to make yourself visible and easily seen to drivers, especially if you’re walking on busy streets or during the evening or night time. Just like a biker or someone else sharing the road, use lit or reflective clothing at night to make sure you can be seen – some others like to carry a flashlight with them that helps with both visibility and their own personal walking path.

In addition, use the assists already present on roadways to remain visible and obvious. Only cross busy streets at marked intersections and crosswalks, while obeying all walk or stop signs or signals. If you do have to cross an unmarked intersection at night, seek a well-lit area where drivers can see you without any obstructions.

Stay Aware

Be aware of the things you’re doing as a pedestrian on the road. Failure to do this may not only lead to injury, but could cause liability concerns as well. Some areas to consider:

  • Signs: Traffic signs and various signals are there to keep you safe. Follow them at all times.
  • Listen: You don’t have a 360-degree range of vision, and you may not always see traffic from every angle. You might be able to hear it first, however, but not if you’re distracted by music or talking on the phone.
  • Looking: The phrase “look both ways” is cliché for a reason – it’s necessary. Traffic comes from both directions, and vehicles may turn at intersections.

Avoid Dangerous Activities

Finally, you have to avoid certain behaviors at all times while a pedestrian. These include walking on streets instead of marked sidewalks, plus walking facing traffic – this lets drivers see you more easily. Finally, never assume you’re completely safe or that drivers will always obey the law perfectly; take additional precautions in any busy area just to be sure.

For more on staying safe as a pedestrian, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident services if you’re involved in an accident, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jan 01 2019

Self-Driving Car Features & Liability, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the basics of self-driving cars. This newer technology is becoming a larger and larger consideration for auto manufacturers, buyers and insurance companies alike, with many benefits but also a few potential drawbacks to consider.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we have auto accident attorneys always on hand for any car-related incident you’re involved in. In today’s part two, we’ll look a bit more closely at some of the liability issues related to self-driving cars, ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber, and how litigation in these areas might be changing.

self-driving car features liability

Crashes and Liability

Because self-driving cars are so new and have barely hit the market in most areas (if at all), we’re still in the very nascent stages of how liability will work for them. We’re mostly still in the realm of establishing legal precedent, which has begun to happen in a couple significant cases:

  • In 2017, a self-driving Uber vehicle crashed in Tempe, Arizona and caused the death of a pedestrian. The vehicle to crash was an SUV, which flipped on its side after traveling at 38 miles per hour. An early investigation found that the pedestrian may have been at fault due to jaywalking and walking in a non-crosswalk area, and the case was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board while prompting significant conversation.
  • A Tesla vehicle using autopilot collided with a tractor-trailer, leading to the death of the Tesla’s operator. But before the crash, the Tesla vehicle was reportedly flashing a warning signal to the driver to disengage the autopilot.

Uber and Lyft

Some in the field have noted that, when it comes to ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber, tort law principles may be applied for negligence. Using the case listed above involving the Uber vehicle and a pedestrian, here are the basic factors:

  • If the self-driving Uber did not note the pedestrian’s presence, Uber and the vehicle’s manufacturer would likely be responsible under product liability principles.
  • If the pedestrian was crossing at night and obscured by darkness, she could be at least partially liable.
  • If the pedestrian’s conduct caused the accident to be unavoidable, she may be fully liable. This scenario is less likely, however.

These interpretations will also vary based on individual states, as the NHTSA is only responsible for overseeing basic guidelines and regulations.

Litigation

The Tempe case mentioned above, which has yet to hit litigation, could provide a baseline for future such cases. It will likely devolve into a battle between Uber, the vehicle manufacturer, and the suppliers of the self-driving automation technology in terms of who is liable. Some self-driving systems may contain confidential indemnification agreements that companies use to protect themselves. It’s possible multiple entities could be found liable and/or sued during this process.

For more on self-driving cars and liability, or to learn about any of our auto accident or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 23 2018

Self-Driving Car Features & Liability, Part 1

It’s not the plot of an 80s sci-fi movie, it’s reality: Self-driving cars are coming, and they may soon be a major part of our basic driving experience. In fact, many of these vehicles are already hitting roads around the country.

As those of you who have been in an accident involving liability might already be thinking, this creates some interesting circumstances for vehicle collisions and determining who is responsible. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys can help you if you happen to be involved in an incident with one of these cars. In part one of this two-part blog examining this new area, we’ll go over the history of self-driving cars and their features, plus some benefits and drawbacks they may come with. In part two, we’ll go over some specific liability areas to know here.

self-driving car features liability

Self-Driving Feature Timeline

To get a full picture of how the legal landscape has evolved in terms of self-driving cars and liability for accidents they’re involved in, one must understand the history of their technology. Self-driving cars use what are called Automated Driving Systems (ADS), but this technology is still in its relative infant stages. Here’s how we got to where we are today, plus where experts in the field expect things to go over the next several years:

  • 2000 to 2010: During this period, fully self-driving cars were not yet on the road at all. There were, however, several individual self-driving features that began to show up in certain models, such as electronic stability control, collision warnings, blind spot detection, lane departure warnings and other similar assists.
  • 2010 to 2016: By the turn of the decade, most of the features we just listed above were standard on new models. But new features like rearview video, lane centering, automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alerts and others began to show up in ADS systems as well.
  • 2016 to present and onward: By 2016, certain ADS features began to show up that presented something close to full autonomy over the driver. We’re talking about areas like self-parking, traffic assists, lane-holding assists, adaptive cruise control, and several automated safety features.
  • 2025 and beyond: By the year 2025 or even potentially sooner, it’s expected that fully autonomous vehicles will be common – and will eventually make up the majority of cars on the road in the US.

Benefits of Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars are beneficial for two primary reasons:

  • Potential safety increases: Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 94 percent of all severe crashes on US highways take place due to human error. Because self-driving technology shows the potential to fully remove this error from the range of possibilities, many experts forecast a huge reduction in major accidents.
  • Convenience: More and more autonomous vehicles will lead to a rise in ridesharing services, and will also be beneficial for people who cannot drive due to limitations of any kind.

Potential Issues With Self-Driving Cars

At the same time, self-driving cars still need a lot of work to get past some potential issues. Cybersecurity is one such problem, and another is who is responsible when an automated vehicle crashes – who is liable? Which party’s insurance is on the hook? We’ll examine these questions in part two of this blog.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 13 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 2

In part one of this blog series, we went over some of the basics when it comes to rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber when their drivers are involved in accidents. Liability can be tough to necessarily place in some of these cases, and the auto accident attorneys at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates are always here to help if you’re involved in such an incident.

Today, we’ll go into a few more details when it comes to this process. There are, in fact, several current lawsuits in place based on gaps in liability in these areas, and these may play a huge role in how these sorts of incidents are litigated in the future. Let’s go over some important liability areas for drivers, rideshare companies, and even third parties involved in accidents.

rideshare accident liability

Possible Driver Liability

If you’re hit by a negligent or reckless driver employed by a rideshare company, and you’ve suffered a permanent injury or one that exceeds your no-fault insurance policy, the driver may be liable even if they were not on the clock for Uber or Lyft at the time. There’s an issue here, though: Many drivers only carry state minimum insurance required by law and Uber.

This means that you may not be able to recover enough to pay for your injuries in these cases. Plus, if the insurance company was unaware that their driver was contracting to carry passengers, the driver’s own insurance company might reject the damages from an accident.

Possible Rideshare Liability

As we noted above, there are some lawsuits currently in play or recently completed in this area – and they relate to parties who feel Uber and Lyft should be more responsible for these gaps in liability. In 2015, Uber settled a case where one of their drivers struck and killed a young girl in a crosswalk while logged into the Uber app and waiting to accept a ride.

Multiple other similar suits have been brought through recent years, including incidents where rideshare drivers have run red lights, T-boned cars in intersections, or even those where the plaintiff was the passenger in an Uber itself. Some have alleged that Uber does not provide adequate safety and training procedures.

The main point to take away here is this: Even if you’re in one of these accidents and it appears standard insurance coverage won’t help you recoup all your injury damages, there’s a good chance a separate suit can bring you the results you want if you have a strong case.

Possible Third Party Liability

Just like in any accident situation, third parties could also be at fault here – or fault itself could be impossible to place. Road conditions may contribute to crashes in some cases, and vehicle inspections for ridesharing companies are another big crux point. Finally, if a third party driver causes an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, that party will likely bear liability.

For more on handling liability claims after an accident involving a ridesharing vehicle, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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