Nov 01 2019

Determining Liability for Bicycle Accidents With Vehicles

While many are aware of the fact that they can seek compensation if they’re injured in a car accident by a negligent driver, you might not know that the same theme applies for bicycle riders. Unfortunately, a great number of cyclists are hit by vehicles during the course of a given year, and there are many such cases where driver negligence was the underlying cause and the bicyclist might have a liability claim against this party.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, just the same way we would be if you were injured in a typical car or motorcycle accident. We’ve spent 35 years as advocates for victims of such events, and we’ll represent you with vigor and expertise in these and other personal injury lawyer needs. Let’s look at some of the basics on bicycle accident negligence, bicycle hit-and-run situations, and how you should respond in the aftermath of such an accident if one occurs.

liability bicycle accidents vehicles

Bicycle Accident Negligence

In any case where a bicyclist is hit by a vehicle on the road, the goal of the judge and jury in a resulting liability case will be to determine which party’s negligence caused the accident. If a vehicle driver is speeding, running a stop sign, drifting into a designated bike lane or breaking the law in any other way at the time of the accident, this will often be used as evidence of negligence.

For cyclists, on the other hand, negligence could refer to riding the wrong way on a certain street, turning unexpectedly into traffic or running a red light. Cyclists are required to obey the rules of the road when they’re on it just like vehicle drivers – do not simply assume that the other party is liable if the accident was a result of you being reckless or ignorant to your surroundings.

Hit-and-Runs

Just like accidents involving two vehicles, hit-and-runs are a risk in bicycle accidents as well. A driver may flee the scene after, an act that’s a felony if they had reason to believe you were injured by drove away anyway. In these cases, working with police to identify the party responsible will save you from having to use your own insurance to cover any medical bills or repairs.

How to React

If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle as a cyclist, the first and most important step involves remaining at the scene for police to arrive. You should do this even if you don’t believe you are injured, as many injuries don’t show up until hours later. Make sure your version of events are recorded by officers, along with those of any witnesses who can corroborate your story. Also be sure to take pictures if possible.

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

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May 17 2019

Types and Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Known medically as an intra-cranial injury, a traumatic brain injury is a significant traumatic event that leads to damage in the human brain. Most often seen in car accidents, but also possible in several other situations, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have a wide range of symptoms.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you fear you or a loved one sustained a TBI during a vehicle accident or any other situation where another party may be liable. Let’s go over some basic facts on these injuries, the symptoms you may notice, and the multiple areas where you may see the impact of these injuries in your daily life.

impact traumatic brain injuries

Basic Numbers on Traumatic Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can range from mild to extremely serious, and on the far end of this spectrum, they are responsible for about 200,000 American deaths each year. They’re also largely responsible for roughly another 500,000 non-death hospitalizations each year, including many that lead to future issues, often permanent ones.

Unfortunately, many TBI cases simply go undiagnosed, even some of the more severe ones. Many who suffer from them try to cover them off as nothing but headaches or similar symptoms, often because they don’t want to believe anything more serious is happening.

Types and Related Conditions

As you might expect, auto accidents are one of the top causes of traumatic brain injuries. Here are some specific types or related conditions to be aware of:

  • Closed head injuries: In most cases, TBIs are what are called closed head injuries. This refers to injuries where the trauma or impact causes the brain to go in motion inside the skull, slamming into areas of the skull due to the force being put on it. These collisions will form contusions and swelling in the brain.
  • Axon damage: As the brain is involved in this same movement, it may also twist and stretch outside its normal positioning. This, in turn, can damage axons, the parts of the brain that carry impulses from neuron to neuron, and this lowers brain function.
  • DAI: When axon damage becomes significant enough at the cellular level, a condition called diffuse axonal injury (DAI) may occur – it doesn’t damage blood vessels or main structures, so it won’t be detected by MRIs or CT scans, but it has a major impact on overall brain function.

Impact of TBIs

It’s important to note that with TBIs, there’s both a physical element to consider and a cognitive/emotional one. In addition, there are often delayed symptoms – people might feel completely normal after a traumatic injury has occurred, before showing symptoms hours, days or even weeks later. In cases like vehicle accidents where another party might be liable for the injury, it’s vital to retain the services of an auto accident attorney even if symptoms seem minor or nonexistent after a head impact (or many other injury types, of course).

For more on traumatic brain injuries and liability, or to learn about any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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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.

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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.

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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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Aug 17 2016

BIKE TRAILER VS. BIKE SEAT: WHICH IS SAFER FOR CHILDREN? 

Pic Bike trilaer

Salt Lake City, Park City and surrounding areas are popular places to bike, both as exercise and leisure activities. Many parents of young children choose to continue biking – and must therefore make a choice about involving their children.  Some parents will choose to leave their young children with baby sitters while they cycle. This may not always be an option, and many parents want to include their toddlers while biking. In this situation, there are two options: the bike trailer or the bike seat.

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Mar 03 2016

Utah Traffic Deaths Rise for third year in a row.

The Desert News is reporting the for the first time in 15 years, the number of traffic fatalities in Utah has risen for the third year in a row. Last year, 275 people died on Utah roads. Officials say as many as 94 % of those deaths were preventable.  We all share the same roadway, and we need to find a way to do it safely protecting not just those in vehicles, but pedestrians and bicyclists.

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Feb 03 2016

Dog versus Bike Accident

dog bites

Some dogs are attracted to moving bikes, shiny spokes, spinning wheels, tires and chains. The question is this: If a dog runs after you while you are riding your bike, what is the best way to handle it? Having a dog or several dogs charging at you can be a very frightening experience.  I know from experience how this feels, as it has happened to me on a few occasions.  It is never a good idea to attempt to get away from a running dog.  Dogs are hunters by nature and have an amazing ability to pick the right angle to catch you as you are riding.  You are more likely to crash and then be confronted with an angry dog, not a good combination.  You should safely come to a stop and put your bike between the dog and you.  If you happen to carry around dog treats for occasions such as this, it would be a good time to throw one far away from you.

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Feb 02 2016

Bicycle Safety Tips for Night Riding

bicycle safety

Despite the fact that an estimated 80% of all bike accidents can be avoided, approximately 100 bicycle deaths are reported annually in Utah, California and Idaho.. When a bicycle accident occurs, make sure your rights are protected and you receive adequate compensation for your injuries including medical costs, loss of earnings, loss of earning potential and other damages including your bike. It is in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who has a successful record of winning cycling cases for his clients. It is also important to be represented by a lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with the laws that govern your case which include bicycle law, tort law, civil procedure and evidence.

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Feb 09 2015

Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

A woman was injured in a Draper car accident when a car struck her bicycle. According to a news report the bicycle accident occurred at 11800 South and State St. in Draper. The bicyclist was transported by private ambulance to a nearby hospital.

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