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.

-->
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.

-->
Dec 03 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 1

Over the last several years, companies like Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular based on their convenience and the ability for anyone to both utilize and work for them. At the same time, these companies have had to deal with significant issues when it comes to their drivers and any accidents they’re in – who is liable in these cases, for instance?

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we can help answer questions like these if you’re involved in such an auto accident. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how claims work when it comes to these incidents, including Utah’s insurance laws and how they’re relevant.

rideshare accident liability

Utah and No-Fault Insurance

Utah is one of 12 states that has what are known as no-fault insurance laws in place. These laws require all Utah drivers to keep at least $3,000 in “personal injury protection,” which is also called no-fault coverage. This coverage eliminates the potential for compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages – to step outside this, your injuries have to meet certain thresholds (this is only for physical injury – car damage claims can be made against an at-fault driver with no limitations at all).

To pursue a liability claim after any accident in Utah, then, you must have incurred at least $3,000 in medical bills or have suffered specific serious injuries. These injuries include:

  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent impairment
  • Permanent disfigurement or dismemberment

If your injuries surpass any of these thresholds, you are not limited by no-fault claims.

Rideshare Drivers Are Contractors

Companies like Uber recognize that their insurance could be liable for certain issues, so they’ve taken significant steps to distance themselves from their drivers – most importantly, naming all their drivers independent contractors. This creates a legal separation between these companies and their drivers, which can often transfer to legal issues in the case of an accident caused by the driver. However, there are still situations where Uber or Lyft insurance will come into play, which we’ll go over below.

Uber Accident Insurance

We’ll use Uber as our test example here, and the crux point often comes down to whether the driver is logged in and actively working for Uber at the time of the accident. If not, the driver’s personal insurance is on the hook.

If so, things are a bit more complex. Uber offers no collision coverage if the driver is logged in but hasn’t actively accepted a ride at the time of the accident, but does offer liability coverage for third parties involved in these accidents – up to $50,000 per injury, and up to $25,000 for property damage beyond the driver’s personal insurance.

Finally, if the driver is actively transporting a paying customer, Uber’s full $1 million collision and liability policy will kick in. It will have the following coverage:

  • Third party liability coverage for all other drivers, pedestrians, and their property.
  • Contingent comprehensive collision coverage for the Uber car, regardless of driver fault.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, if the Uber driver is not at fault and the other driver does not have enough coverage or cannot be identified.

For more on ridesharing companies and how liability works if you’re involved in an accident with one, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
Oct 20 2018

Important Facts on Drug Liability

The pharmaceutical world is a huge one, with remarkably high demand in many areas and companies that are notably ruthless about making their profits no matter what. This often leads to the rushed release of certain medications on the market, including those that are regularly prescribed to numerous patients, and this in turn can cause unsafe interactions, overdoses and even death or serious injury in some cases.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve helped many clients receive their due compensation after complications from prescription medications. This falls under product liability, which is a significant part of the personal injury world. Let’s look at all the important factors here, including what qualifies for these kinds of cases and what you should do if this happens to you.

important facts drug liability

Drugs and Personal Injury

If you’ve been experiencing unexpected or uncomfortable side effects from a prescribed medication, chances are you’ve called your doctor already to ask about these. The most common response here is to just ride it out – some drugs are like this, with a little time needed while the body adjusts to the new medication.

The problem is, these side effects that may seem normal in some cases might not be in others. They might have severe results, such as severe medical complications or even death in some cases, but it might be too late to totally ward off these complications. If this is the case for you, and either you or a loved one has been affected or even killed as a result of prescription drug complications, know that you have legal recourse available.

Types of Defects

With any product liability case, there are a few different types of defects that might lead to harm. These types are:

  • Design defect: A design defect refers to any drug with unsafe ingredients or an unsafe method of delivery for the target population. One prominent example that’s taken place on more than one occasion in the past is antidepressants designed to help with anxiety actually causing an increase in suicide rate among the population who takes them.

  • Manufacturing defect: In some other cases, the actual ingredients and delivery method of a drug are perfectly safe – but the manufacturing process itself has issues. Perhaps the production line where the drug is stamped is contaminated, or maybe the manufacturing plant received a batch of subpar ingredients.

  • Marketing defects: In still other cases, the design and manufacturing processes were just fine for a drug, but it’s marketed improperly in one of several ways. This could mean incorrect dosage or ingredient information on the bottle, or improper directions for taking the medication.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you think any of the above defects have taken place for your medication, resulting in harm to you, speak to a personal injury attorney right away. We can help you determine whether there’s enough evidence to prove liability, plus advise you on the proper steps to take as you move forward.

To learn more about this or any of our other personal injury lawyer services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

-->
Aug 30 2017

Nursing Home Neglect Cases

William Rawlings & Associates investigate and review potential nursing home neglect cases.  The injuries are reviewed to determine if the injuries suffered are a result of inadequate care. This may have occurred in a nursing home, hospital or long-term assisted living facility. Individuals confined to a nursing home, deserve proper care and treatment.

-->
Oct 24 2016

SUE OR NOT TO SUE! ACCIDENT CLAIMS

accident claims

Many accident victims we speak to don’t consider themselves the suing type. That is to say they don’t feel comfortable taking someone to court to seek compensation for their injuries. These conscientious individuals believe that if they sue, the at-fault driver will have to pay enormous amounts of money out of their own pockets. This is simply not the case.

-->
Oct 13 2016

PEOPLE OVER PROFIT: Your Utah Injury Attorneys

Insurance companies make a lot of money. In fact, it’s one of the most lucrative industries in the U.S. Their business model is simple. You convince consumers to purchase insurance from your company by promising to be on their side or hold them in good hands when the unexpected happens. You collect premiums until that day comes and then pay them as little as possible for their claim. If you take in more premiums than you pay out in claims, you could stand to make billions in profit every year. That is exactly what Insurance companies do year after year.

-->
Aug 24 2016

6 STEPS TO CHOOSING THE BEST UTAH INJURY ATTORNEY

Pic 6 steps
It’s worth the time and effort to be very selective in whom you choose to represent you.  So, how exactly, do you determine whether you need a lawyer for your accident claim and how do you choose the best Utah Accident lawyer?

(1) Identify Type

Your uncle may handle corporate law cases, but does that mean he handles accident cases.  One law firm may practice 10 different types of law, while another may specialize in just one. You want someone who is an expert in what you need. So think about what kind of lawyer will handle your case.  If you have you been in a car accident you require the expertise of a personal injury lawyer.

IMPORTANT:  Don’t rely on television commercials, bench ads or the phone book.  These types of advertisements can’t tell you if the firm is credible, reliable and/or professional.

-->
Aug 03 2016

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Tax Free?

pic tax free

If you sue for personal physical injuries like a slip and fall or car accident, your damages are tax-free. That may seem odd, since you may be seeking lost wages because you couldn’t work after your injuries. But a specific section of the tax code–Section 104–shields damages for personal physical injuries and physical sickness. Before 1996 “personal” damages were tax-free. That meant emotional distress, defamation and many other legal injuries also produced tax-free recoveries.

-->
Jun 21 2016

How Personal Injury Attorneys Get More Compensation for Victims

Pic PI atty

Sometimes accident victims decide to settle their own personal injury cases. If you had very minor injuries, no significant medical expenses, and are confident that your injuries have completely healed, you may not need a personal injury lawyer. If you have a serious injury caused by the negligence of another person, however, you are more likely to lose money than to save money by handling the claim yourself.

-->