Aug 09 2019

Basics of EDR Vehicle Systems and Role in Accident Cases

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we have a long history with car accident cases and can tell you about one common complicating factor: Hazy, unreliable memories. As authorities (and then later, personal injury attorneys) attempt to reconstruct the events of a given accident and determine who is at fault, imperfect memories – skewed even further by the trauma that just took place, in many cases – can make this process more difficult and complex.

Many know that the air industry has what are called black boxes, event recorders that keep track of important information in case there’s a crash or some other incident. Did you realize that modern vehicles have a version of this same technology as well? It’s called an event data recorder (EDR), and it’s a piece of technology that can often play a big role in auto accident injury and related personal injury cases. Here’s a primer on EDR systems and what you need to know about them.

EDR systems accident cases

EDR Basics and History

EDR systems were first created in the 1990s, and were originally designed as monitors for airbag deployment during vehicle accidents. Since then, they’ve increased their capacity significantly – they now record over 30 different data points, from seatbelt use to vehicle speed, brake usage, seat position, roll angles during a crash, weight of the occupants in their seats, and much more.

In the year 2014, US Congress passed a law requiring that all new vehicles manufactured in the country contain EDR systems. Most manufacturers had been using them well before this, however.

EDR Recording Types

There are two kinds of data recorded by EDR systems:

  • Deployment events: If any airbags in the vehicle deploy during the collision, all data from the event is permanently saved. This data includes information from just before the accident, during it, and then following it (about 20 seconds of data in total).
  • Nondeployment events: In cases where the airbags do not deploy, the same information will be tracked – but will only be stored for a period of time, then eventually overwritten. However, it can still be accessed in the short-term if necessary for investigators.

Reconstructing Accidents

As you might imagine, the data provided by EDR systems can be enormously valuable for helping reconstruct the events of an accident. Instead of working only with physical remnants of the accident and the memories of those involved, which can be hazy and outright unreliable in some cases after trauma, investigators can use the data provided to get a clearer picture. If you’re ever involved in an accident and believe the other party was at fault, contact our auto accident attorneys right away for help with locating and preserving EDR data for use in your case.

For more on EDR systems and how they can assist with vehicle accident cases, or to learn about any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 21 2019

Insurance Companies and Prolonged Treatment After Car Accidents

As anyone who has been through this situation will know, the process of obtaining proper compensation from an insurance company after a car accident can be arduous and stressful. Insurance companies, whether your own or that of a liable party in your case, are always looking for loopholes and excuses that will get them out of paying major funds, and they’ll often go to great lengths here.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer you quality car accident injury attorney services that will help balance the scales here. We’ve spent years dealing with both liable parties and their insurance companies, with many former insurance adjusters in the fold who understand exactly how these companies work – and how to fight against some of the tactics they’ll use.

One particularly stressful area in some auto accident injury cases is what’s called prolonged recovery. Lucky car accident victims may recover quickly from physical injury, or may even have very little such injury to begin with, but many less fortunate people will suffer back pain, neck pain or other symptoms that linger on for weeks or months after the accident. In these cases, insurance companies will try a few specific tactics to avoid covering this prolonged care – let’s look at each of these tactics and how we’ll help you fight back against them.

insurance prolonged treatment car accidents

Issues of “Malingering”

Insurance companies often like to put a sparkly bow on even some of their most negative behaviors, and this area is a good example. Representatives are obviously instructed never to tell someone outright that they’re faking or exaggerating an injury – instead, they’ll use the term “malingering.”

Really, though, you know what they mean. This is often the first argument made against providing compensation for treatment that comes weeks or months after an accident, one where the insurance provider claims you don’t actually need the treatment and are exaggerating.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If the malingering excuse doesn’t work, many insurance companies will next move to pre-existing conditions. As the term suggests, they’ll go out of their way to try and prove that your current physical symptoms are not a result of your vehicle accident – rather, that they’re due to a previously present condition of some kind. They’ll dig deep into medical records, even going years back to previous physical therapy or any other evidence that might suggest the injury came from somewhere else.

Unrelated to Accident

Finally, if both of the above are unsuccessful, the insurance company may just argue that the treatment you received wasn’t relevant for accident-related injuries. They may ask why you didn’t go to the ER directly after the accident, for instance, and then use that fact to claim that future treatments are not connected because you clearly weren’t in pain right after the accident (a straw man argument our attorneys can quickly poke holes in, as not all accident injuries are immediately visible).

For more on ensuring you have the proper compensation for prolonged treatment after a vehicle accident, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates 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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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.

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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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Nov 12 2018

What To Do If You’re Hit by a Car

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, some of the most potentially dangerous personal injury cases we help clients with are those where a pedestrian is struck by a car.

Pedestrian accidents aren’t as common as car accidents, but they can be extremely dangerous and may leave victims deserving of significant compensation for their injuries and hardship – or may leave their estates in a similar position if the victim is killed.

Hit by a Car

If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident where you are injured but remain conscious and mentally aware, it’s vital that you follow a few important steps – both for your safety and to help your personal injury case if there is one. Here are some tips we can offer if you’re in this unfortunate situation.

Remain Calm

It’s totally understandable that after such an incident, your adrenaline will be flowing and you might be overwhelmed or emotional. Know that especially directly after the accident, the influx of adrenaline might make you feel like you’re fine even if you’ve been injured – take great care when moving around and do a visual assessment before trying to get up.
In addition, do your very best not to let your emotions get the best of you. Lashing out at the driver who hit you or anyone else will not help you at all, and in fact might detract from your case later on. Try your hardest to focus on the important details of the event and move forward in a responsible way until authorities arrive.

Move Away From Danger

As soon as you’re mentally and physically able, move yourself off the road and out of any danger. If you require it, ask for help from onlookers or whoever else is present.
Call the Police and Medical Staff
The moment you’re safely out of danger, call 911 and ensure police and medical staff are responding. It’s possible witnesses have already done this as well. Under no circumstances should you ever leave the scene of this accident before police arrive and get your statement, and this applies to the driver of the vehicle as well. You also should not attempt to treat any injuries yourself – rather wait for medical staff to arrive on the scene.

Personal Info

The driver involved in the accident should know this already, but if they don’t, firmly request that they stay at the scene until police arrive. Also request their personal information, including basic driver info, their insurance, and more. Never try to make them feel better by downplaying the incident or claiming you’re “fine” – it’s nice to be polite, sure, but these kinds of admissions might hurt your case moving forward.

Witnesses

If there are any witnesses on the scene, ask them to remain as well until police arrive and can get their statements. Witnesses who can corroborate your version of events may make or break your ability to receive damages from the offending driver.

For more on what to do if you’re hurt by a vehicle as a pedestrian, or for information on any of our personal injury or car accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Oct 01 2018

Different Types of Distracted Driving

As cell phones and other in-car devices have become more common, so has the rate of distracted driving and accidents resulting from them. But while these devices understandably get a lot of the blame for these increases, there are actually several kinds of distracted drivers out there who are endangering others as they drive.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we can provide comprehensive attorney services if you’ve been injured in an auto accident featuring a potentially distracted driver. Let’s go over the different types of distraction that can cause distracted driving so you’re aware of all the possibilities here if you’re in an accident.

different types distracted driving

Visual Distractions

As the name suggests, visual distractions are those that take your eyes away from the road and onto something else, even for a brief period. It’s curious and a bit ironic that perhaps the single most common type of visual distraction is in fact a car accident on the side of the road – and yet, this kind of rubbernecking is exactly what often causes these accidents to begin with.

It’s vital for drivers to remember at all times that the most important thing to focus on is the road. An outside distraction may seem important in the moment, but it’s definitely not more important than your life or safety.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are a broad category that refer to any action that takes one or both hand away from the steering wheel or other driving mechanisms. Many visual distractions are actually manual distractions also – think of things like checking your cell phone or changing the song on your iPod. Not only do these actions require looking away from the road, they require the use of at least one of your hands.

There are others that aren’t necessarily visual, but they’re similarly dangerous. Eating, drinking, fixing makeup or hair, or reaching into the back seat for a variety of reasons are all good examples. Even if these don’t necessarily cause you to take your eyes off the road, they can still serve as distractions. And if you cause an accident while distracted in this way, you could easily be liable for damages caused.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are a bit more of a vague category, referring not to any specific event but rather to any loss of focus while behind the wheel. The most common example of cognitive distraction is actually dozing off or falling asleep, and some people have issues with daydreaming or staring into space. These areas can be tougher to prove during personal injury cases based on the trouble with ascertaining what a driver was focused on at the time of an accident, but they’re still dangerous and often result in serious incidents.

For more on the kinds of distracted driving, 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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Jul 12 2018

Important Hit-and-Run Responses | Rawlings Law

Perhaps the worst kind of auto accident to be in is a hit-and-run, which describes an incident where a driver hits another car, then flees the scene before authorities can arrive to collect information. State law in every part of our country requires drivers to stop after being part of an accident that involves another vehicle, and there can be serious consequences for those who do not comply here.

Unfortunately, though, those consequences might also spill over to you if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, however, we’re here to help. Our personal injury attorney services include helping you navigate through a hit-and-run and receive the compensation you deserve despite the complications. Here are some basic steps to follow if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run.

First Priority: Safety

Before you consider any financial element at all, make sure you and everyone else in the vehicle is safe an unharmed. If possible, move your car to safe place away from oncoming traffic, and be sure to call 911 to request that police respond to the scene.

Seeking Medical Attention

If anyone in the vehicle is hurt, even in a very minor way, medical attention should be sought from first responders. Some injuries may seem minor only to become more significant later on, particularly whiplash or other back injuries, so report any symptoms immediately even if they don’t seem like a big deal.

If anyone in the vehicle does receive medical attention, document this. Write down the kind of attention received, any medications given, and take the information of the responder who gave the assessment.

Cooperation With Responders

We know this is a stressful time, but you have to comply with all first responders and law enforcement officials. Take any medical care they recommend, and comply with their requests. Only speak to these officials about sensitive details of the scene – no one else.

Documentation

Write down everything you can here, including any details you remember from the vehicle that fled the scene or the person driving it. Include dates, times, and as much descriptive detail as you can. Even if you don’t think this is important or assume you’ll remember it later, get it down on paper now.

For more on how to handle a hit-and-run situation, or for any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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