May 10 2019

Causes and Liability Issues for Wrong-Way Vehicle Accidents

Certain kinds of car accidents are inherently more dangerous than others, and on the very riskiest end of this spectrum sits wrong-way accidents. As the name suggests, these are accidents where vehicles collide, usually head-on, after one driver begins driving the wrong way on a given road or highway.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we have experienced auto accident attorneys who will help you receive proper compensation if you or a loved one has been impacted by a wrong-way vehicle accident or any other type of car or truck accident. Let’s look at some simple statistics behind these accidents and what makes them so dangerous, plus how many jurisdictions will respond harshly and punitively to these kinds of incidents.

causes liability wrong-way vehicle accidents

Basic Statistics

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, abbreviated NTSB, nearly 400 highway deaths are caused per year by wrong-way driving accidents in the United States alone. As we noted above, nearly all such incidents are head-on collisions between the driver going the wrong way and other driver(s) going the correct direction.

Unfortunately, the numbers also showcase how much more dangerous these wrong-way collisions are than average. While only about 1 percent of standard vehicle accidents involve a fatality, over 20 percent of wrong-way collisions include a death, making them over 20 times more likely to result in a fatality.

Wrong-Way Collision Causes

There are a few possible causes of wrong-way driving accidents, including some that may overlap with others. A few of the most common include:

  • Alcohol or impairment: According to a 2012 report from the NTSB, over 50 percent of all wrong-way driving accidents and deaths involve alcohol or impairment on the part of the driver going the wrong way. An even higher percentage, over 60 percent in fact, had a blood alcohol rating of at least 0.15, or nearly double the legal limit in most states.
  • Age: About 15 percent of wrong-way accidents are caused by drivers over 70, who may have cognitive or vision issues that contribute.
  • Road configuration and mistakes: Many of these accidents take place when a driver enters the wrong road or highway, mistaking it for their exit- or on-ramp. Cities will take steps to help resolve any confusing signage or side-by-side ramp issues, but it should be noted that these kinds of obstacles are not generally viewed as a viable justification in court to prevent a wrong-way driver from being liable for an accident.
  • Darkness: Almost 80 percent of wrong-way accidents take place between 6 PM and 6 AM, or generally at night when there’s less light.

Punitive Penalties

For many years, the NTSB has recommended that judges and juries assign strict, punitive penalties to those who contribute to wrong-way crashes, particularly those who do so while impaired. If you’ve been injured by such a driver, consult with one of our car accident attorneys, who can prepare you for the kinds of damages you’ll be able to seek.

For more on wrong-way driving accidents, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
May 03 2019

Understanding Common Forms of Distracted Driving

There are several potential causes to vehicle accidents on the road, and one of the most common and dangerous is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a broad category that can refer to several specific types of distraction, from visual ones to manual or even cognitive issues.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to tell you that regardless of which type of distraction was the cause, you could be owed damages if you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Here are some basics on defining this term, how an auto accident injury attorney can help, plus an investigation into a few specific examples of distracted driving – including a couple that some people mistakenly think don’t put them at risk for liability if they cause an accident.

common forms distracted driving

Defining Distracted Driving

Simply put, the law defines distracted driving as any behavior or activity that turns the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Many of the basics here come back to simple science: Even a single second spent looking away from the road in front of you will cause you to be unaware for a huge amount of ground covered, particularly if your vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed.
For this reason, anything that causes this sort of diversion of attention could be considered a distraction. While we’re about to lay out a few specific examples of the most common forms of distracted driving, know that a far greater number of potential actions or distractions could also fit the bill, and you should be aware of them at all times when operating a vehicle.

Cell Phones and Texting

In today’s modern day, texting on cell phones is considered the single most dangerous type of distracted driving facing US drivers. It is responsible for literally thousands of deaths on the road every year, plus untold additional thousands of injuries. This is extremely straightforward: Not only does texting require a driver to move their eyes from the road to a phone, it takes at least one hand off the wheel and uses it for another purpose.
In addition, several other phone behaviors outside texting may cause distraction. Talking on the phone can apply if you aren’t using fully hands-free devices, and even voice commands may distract the brain. Those looking to fully avoid distractions will not use their phones at all while driving.

Daydreaming or Preoccupation

This is a bit more of a nebulous category, but distraction can also be easily caused by our own mental picture. Daydreaming or distraction are particularly common for tired drivers, part of the reason you often see reminders to pull over and rest if you feel tired while driving.

Rubbernecking

It’s often used as the butt of jokes due to it’s silly-sounding name, but rubbernecking – or slowing down and losing focus on driving so as to view accidents or other things happening on the side of the road – is extremely dangerous. It’s the cause of numerous additional accidents, in fact, and is a form of distracted driving that is not viewed favorably by courts.

For more on the common types of distracted driving, or to learn about any of our car accident or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
Apr 19 2019

Taking Prompt, Proper Action After a Dog Bite

Hopefully this never happens to you, but if you’re ever bitten or otherwise injured by someone else’s dog, it’s possible this party will be liable for your injuries. Dog owners are generally liable for these kinds of injuries with a few exceptions (trespassing, abuse or taunting of the dog, etc.), and this liability may extend all the way to future pain and suffering just like many other personal injury case types.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you’ve been injured in a dog bite case. How should you respond if you’re bitten or otherwise injured by a dog that isn’t yours? Here are some important areas to make sure you cover.

proper action after dog bite

Seeking Medical Attention

The most important thing after any injury is your own health and safety, and you should see to this first. Seek medical attention right away if your injuries justify it – this includes any puncture wound, even if it doesn’t seem too serious. This is because you never know the cleanliness of that dog’s mouth (it’s likely not great), and you could be at risk for infection even for smaller wounds that aren’t bleeding much.

Wherever possible while seeking medical attention, look for ways to document the services you receive. If you have to attend a hospital or doctor’s office, ask for copies of your bills with detailed lists of the injuries treated. In cases where your face is injured by the dog, you might consider a plastic surgeon for cosmetic areas that standard doctors are not trained on.

Collecting Information

As quickly as possible once you’ve addressed any injuries and are sure you’re safe, begin to obtain information on the incident. The most important piece of information here is on the dog itself and its owner, which will enable you to find out whether there’s a rabies risk or the possibility of other disease.

You should also, however, collect information on the entire circumstance. If any witnesses were present, take their names and ensure they speak with any investigators on the scene – if none are present and witnesses are looking to leave, try to convince them to stay or take their statement yourself.

Reporting to Animal Control

While all dog bite incidents should be reported to animal control, this is of particular importance if you’re not able to identify the owner of the animal. In these cases, it’s imperative that the animal be located and tested for rabies or other conditions that could harm the public.

Legal Assistance

And finally, if you feel you may have a liability case against the dog’s owner, you should immediately contact our offices. We have several great dog bite lawyer options available for you, with significant experience in the field and proving fault to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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

-->
Apr 12 2019

Important Photo Documentation After Car Accidents

If you’ve just been involved in a vehicle accident, particularly one where another party could be at fault, one of the most important things to consider in the immediate aftermath is documentation. While ensuring you and anyone with you is safe is the top priority, the very next set of steps you should take includes assessing the damage and beginning to document it for vital future use.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, a personal injury attorney can help you understand the kinds of documentation that are important for any car accident situation. In today’s modern age, with smartphones in most pockets, pictures are some of the most detailed and valuable pieces of evidence you can collect – but what exactly should you be taking pictures of? Here are some details on the major areas to make sure you snap good pictures of.

photo documentation car accidents

Full Scene

For starters, you should try to capture as much of the overall crash scene as you’re able to. The goal here is to include as much detail as possible, so look for both wide-angle shots that cover most or all of the scene plus more specific photos of individual areas.

These photos shouldn’t just be on the damaged areas of the vehicle, either. They should also include any pertinent road signs or stoplights, plus any skid marks, broken glass or other results from the crash that may have ended up on the road. These kinds of materials can often help investigators understand the pattern that led to the accident when determining fault.

Any and All Injuries

Another vital area to document in detail, even if it’s a little gross, is any injuries you sustain during the accident. These can be as minor as scrapes or cuts or much more significant – as we noted in the introduction to this blog, serious injuries should be attended to as the first priority.

While it’s only partially related, know that injury documentation involves elements well beyond just photographs. Certain injuries cannot be seen immediately or at all, such as concussions or whiplash, and medical records will be another vital part of this documentation.

Vehicle Damage

It’s also important to take specific, detailed pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash and the damage they incurred. This includes not only your vehicle, but also any others involved, no matter how minor their involvement may have been. Try to get photos from multiple angles if possible, while of course remaining at a safe distance from any hazards like fire or broken glass.

For more on the kinds of pictures you should be taking to document a vehicle accident scene if you’re involved, or to learn about any of our car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
Apr 05 2019

Sporting Events and Personal Injury Liability Concerns

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve seen virtually every variety of personal injury case out there. While the most common in this category are car accidents and those involving other vehicle types, we also handle cases involving various other injuries, dog bite claims and even trampoline-related injuries.

The moral of the story here: You can be injured in many situations, and just because yours isn’t one of the most common for a personal injury case doesn’t mean you can’t receive compensation if another party was at fault for your injuries. One great example of this is with injuries sustained at a sporting event – let’s go over when you may or may not have liability claims in these relatively unique circumstances.
sporting events personal injury liability

Assumption of Risk

It’s important to note that when you attend a sporting event, particularly one put on by a professional-level team like the Utah Jazz or Real Salt Lake, there’s a legal element known as “assumption of risk” that you are taking. This assumption will generally be expressed in several areas: On your tickets themselves, plus at multiple locations within the arena or stadium. They will also generally be repeated by a public service announcer at some point before the event begins.
Generally speaking, these assumptions cover the reasonable, inherent risks presented by whatever sport you’re viewing. If you’re at a baseball game, then, it’s reasonable to expect that baseballs may fly into the crowd at some point, and you have to be watching for them – if you’re hit by one and weren’t paying attention, you won’t have a claim against the ballpark, for instance. This same level of reasonable assumption applies to any sport based on the basic rules, fields and materials used during play.

Exceptions to Risk Assumption

Now, assumption of risk is not a cover-all rule for arenas or the groups putting on these events. There’s also a reasonable expectation that the venue provide the adequate protections that should be in place.
Take a hockey rink, for example, which in recent decades have all installed protective nettings behind each goal to stop speeding pucks from flying up into the crowd and hitting spectators. If this netting is faulty in a rink you attend and results in a puck injuring you, you very well might have a liability claim against the venue.

Unforeseeable Events

There are other cases where events no one could have predicted lead to injury cases. Often these are incidents between fans, such as fights or similar events. If you’re unsure whether such an event qualifies, ask one of our personal injury lawyers, who can clarify for you.

Safe, Secure Facility

Finally, as we touched on above, it’s the venue’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure facility. This means well-maintained premises, including proper lighting and a maintenance staff that keeps walkways and other public areas clear. It also means hiring and maintaining proper security – certain personal injury cases involving sporting events related to issues where non-adequate security was present to prevent an incident.

For more on whether or not an injury sustained at a sporting event might leave you with a personal injury claim, or for information on any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
Mar 15 2019

Emerging Future Trends in Personal Injury Cases

Through our years of assisting clients with a variety of personal injury cases at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve noted a number of trends. Whether due to changes in technology, laws, or some combination of other factors, there are stretches where certain kinds of cases become much more common.

Keeping an eye to these kinds of trends is valuable, not only to us but to our clients. With them, we can help advise you on the types of incidents that are on the rise and help you avoid any of their primary risks. With that in mind, here are a few of the areas that many in the personal injury world expect to be some of the biggest emerging sectors in the coming years.
emerging trends personal injury cases

Ridesharing Services

In a process we’ve gone over in this space in the past, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft continue to be on the rise throughout the country. This is particularly true in larger metropolitan areas like Salt Lake City, where there are tons of drivers working for these services – and not all of them are safe or properly qualified.

These companies do have insurance policies in place to protect customers and drivers, but due to how new these services still are in many areas, there’s still some gray in terms of how settlements and compensation are worked out in cases where a rideshare driver is responsible for an accident. You car accident attorney can help you with the ins and outs here, many of which are becoming clearer with each passing year.

Drone Usage

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones are also experiencing a huge surge in popularity in recent years. They’re used in both the professional and recreational spaces, with a number of practical and entertainment uses.

But as they continue to become more popular, though, the conversation has shifted in some circles to their safety and regulation. What happens if a poorly piloted drone falls from the air and injures you, for instance? Who is responsible? This gets into areas of product liability and invasions of privacy, all of which our personal injury lawyers can assess for you.

Cell Phones and Distracted Driving

The primary causes of many vehicle accidents have shifted over the years, and one of the top items on the list in recent years is distracted driving due to cell phones. Our smartphones offer more information and entertainment than ever before, and even despite hands-free and car-safe formats, many people still continue to use these unsafely while on the road. Distracted driving itself is not new, of course, but both law enforcement and safety organizations are highly interested in curbing the cell phone usage that often causes it today – and these issues are important parts of resulting personal injury cases, as well.

For more on which areas of personal law are becoming more common, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
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.

-->
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.

-->
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.

-->
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.

-->