As the winter snow and ice melts away, motorists become less concerned about driving through snowstorms and blizzards. Although spring brings warmer weather, it also creates new driving hazards that motorists should take into consideration. A car accident attorney in Tennessee understands that there are many things to keep in mind while navigating the thawed Tennessee roadways this spring. Here are three of the most common concerns:
- Wet roads
April showers can make for wet roads. The Federal Highway Administration reported that wet pavement was responsible for 74 percent of all weather-related car accidents in the nation from 2002 to 2012. Not only does wet weather make it hard to see, accumulated water is slick and can cause cars to hydroplane. When water builds up on the road, it can cause a loss of traction between the street’s surface and the vehicle’s tires. This can trigger the car to slide and skid when the driver attempts to stop, according to esurance.
Speeding and worn tires can increase the risk of a hydroplaning incident, a fact known by a car accident attorney in Tennessee. Motorists should make sure that their tires have good tread, avoid speeding and never use their cruise control when traveling in the rain.
Motorists should also make sure that their windshield wiper blades are in good working condition. Windshield wipers are often used excessively during the winter, and may need to be replaced in the springtime.
- Beware of potholes
During winter months, snow seeps into small cracks on the road. As the water freezes, it causes the pavement to expand. The end results are treacherous potholes that have made their appearance throughout the state of Tennessee. According to WKRN News 2, these potholes can cause tire damage, misalignment, undercarriage problems and even car accidents. While avoiding potholes may be easy during daylight hours, they can be difficult to see at night or during spring rainstorms. The Tennessee Department of Transportation reported that motorists who have fallen victim to giant potholes may be able to file a claim through the Department of Treasury’s claims division.
- Small animals everywhere
In many parts of the country, little creatures become more abundant in the springtime. It isn’t uncommon for motorists to encounter little bunnies, squirrels, raccoons, deer and porcupines while out on a drive. Braking for small animals can cause a catastrophic auto collision if motorists aren’t driving defensively.
Spring auto accidents may result in serious injuries, emotional trauma and property damage. Injured drivers may be left with excessive medical bills and unable to return to work. A car accident attorney in Tennessee may provide accident victims with the legal counsel they need to resolve their problems and obtain compensation for their injuries.
Tennessee residents are no strangers to the life-altering effects that car accidents can cause. Since 2004, more than 3.5 million car crashes have occurred in the state. These accidents claimed 12,072 lives and caused millions of injuries. Unfortunately, these numbers have not significantly reduced over time. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Research, Planning, and Development, between 42,700 and 50,400 individuals were injured in Tennessee in 2014 alone. Another 673 people were killed that year.
The most unfortunate detail regarding these accidents is that they are largely preventable in nature. As commonly seen throughout the U.S., most car accidents in Tennessee are caused by driver error. A Tennessee car accident attorney understands that if motorists were simply better prepared for certain road conditions, or made more safety-conscious choices, fewer lives would likely be affected.
Common causes of accidents
A Tennessee car accident attorney may see a wide variety of car accidents every year. The TDSHS lists the following as the most common contributing factors of car accidents in the state:
- Careless or erratic driving
- Failure to keep in proper lane or running off the road
- Failure to yield right of way
- Following improperly
Many circumstances can cause these accidents to occur, and each citation may be related to other underlying causes. Responding officers often cite speeding, failure to obey traffic controls and improper lane changes when creating traffic accident reports, yet these citations may come from a single offense of driving under the influence of alcohol.
A Tennessee car accident attorney understands that today, education is the best defense against being involved in a car accident. To increase their chances of staying safe on the roads, drivers should consider the following in-depth look at some of the most common and dangerous causes of motor vehicle accidents in Tennessee today:
Although many motorists may believe that reckless driving is most often caused by young male drivers, A Tennessee car accident attorney understands that the practice is actually prevalent among all demographics. In 2013, over 3,000 accidents occurred in Tennessee in which reckless driving was listed as a major contributing factor. Although the rate of reckless driving has decreased over the past ten years, these numbers are still unacceptably high because of the completely preventable nature of these crashes.
The act of reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal charge in Tennessee. Drivers may be convicted of the offense if officers believe they were driving “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Some practices that may constitute reckless driving include swerving, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic or driving in any way that puts others at risk.
Dangerous weather conditions
A Cambridge City man was recently killed in a weather-related accident that took place near LaFollette. Pal-Item reports that the 69-year-old man was driving his RV along I-75 with his wife when he lost control of the vehicle due to the snow and slush in the area. His vehicle crossed the median and struck a cable barrier, which caused the RV to land on its side. An oncoming car then collided with the RV, injuring both passengers. The motorist’s wife was severely injured as well. In ideal weather conditions, this accident may not have occurred.
A Tennessee car accident attorney knows that winter weather can often create dangerous driving conditions. This was recently seen in the storms that bombarded the state with sleet, snow and ice. The Tennessean reports that the storm was so severe, government officials declared a Level III State of Emergency and asked for residents to do all they could to stay off the roads until the weather improved. Some motorists were unable to comply with the warning and were caught in the storm. At least 6 people died in motor vehicle accidents due to the severe weather in just one short week.
Although this severe storm is a rare occurrence in Tennessee, wintery weather conditions are a reality. Drivers should always be prepared with proper equipment and training before they attempt to drive in snowy and icy conditions each winter.
When motorists fail to abide by the legally posted speed limit for a certain area, they are guilty of speeding. According to the TDHSH report, the dangerous act was associated with 6,200 accidents in 2013. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that roughly 250 people die each year in the state due to speeding-related accidents. The general dangers of speeding are well known, yet some motorists fail to believe that they will have a problem controlling their vehicles at all times. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
As motorists drive at greater and greater speeds above the legal limit, they greatly increase their chances of being involved in an accident. As speeds increase, it increases the distance covered while motorists respond to potential hazards and the distance required for a car to stop. A Tennessee car accident attorney should understand that this makes it more difficult to stop in time to avoid an accident.
Speeding may also be a contributing factor in loss of vehicle control. At greater speeds, the laws of physics take over and motorists often find it difficult to navigate tight turns or evade potentially dangerous objects. An additional danger to speeding comes with the increased force with which speeding vehicles collide with other objects. The faster a car is traveling, the harder it will hit and the greater damage it will cause.
Driving while distracted
A Tennessee car accident attorney often hears about distracted driving accidents. With the advent of cell phones and other technology often used in vehicles, motorists are allowing themselves to be more distracted at greater rates. While cell phones get the brunt of the blame, several studies by government and private researchers have concluded that other distractions can be just as deadly.
According to Distraction.gov, distraction comes in three main forms: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distraction occurs when motorists perform tasks that take their eyes off of the road. This could be as simple as changing a radio station, looking in the back seat or glancing at a cell phone text message.
Manual distraction occurs when motorists take one or more hands off of the steering wheel. Eating, drinking, changing a cd, putting on makeup and reaching for objects within the vehicle are all manually distracting events.
Among the forms of distraction, cognitive may be the most dangerous. When drivers are cognitively distracted, their minds are no longer on the task of driving. This can occur due to daydreaming, preoccupation with conversations with vehicle passengers, talking on a handheld or hands-free device, or writing text messages or posts for social media sites. This form of distraction is so dangerous because many drivers may be unaware they are distracted until an accident occurs.
Nationally, over 3,000 people were killed due to distracted driving accidents in 2013. In Tennessee in 2014, distraction was cited as a contributing factor in over 21,000 accidents. This statistic would not surprise a Tennessee car accident attorney. However, the true numbers are likely much greater because few drivers readily admit to being distracted due to fear of the consequences. Furthermore, accidents cited as being caused by failure to keep in proper lane, which occurred 22,833 times in 2013 in Tennessee, are often caused by distracted drivers.
Driving under the influence
Like distracted driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol is a well-recognized offense. In 2013, 6,928 alcohol-related accidents occurred in Tennessee, leading to the deaths of 277 individuals. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that this represents 27.8 percent of all traffic deaths in the state. This cost the taxpayers there an estimated $1.3 billion that year alone. Additionally, MADD reports that 59,208 individuals who were cited in the state for DUI that year were three-time offenders. Another 17,342 were five-time offenders. These figures show that DUI continues to be one of the biggest challenges for motorist safety.
While the dangers of driving under the influence are obvious, a Tennessee car accident attorney sees too many people who fail to take the dangers seriously. News 3 Memphis reports that a 21-year old Memphis man recently chose to drive while intoxicated and killed a 55-year-old woman. The young driver failed to slow down for a red light and drove his pickup truck into an intersection. The pickup collided with the woman’s vehicle so forcefully that the crash ejected her from the car, killing her. The intoxicated driver and his passenger, who were unhurt in the accident, fled the scene but were later apprehended. Officers found open beer cans in the man’s car and have charged him with DUI and vehicular homicide.
Seek help for all accidents
No matter what causes car accidents, those that survive may be left dealing with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Accident victims may face years of recovery, including surgeries, physical therapy, counseling and chronic pain. Those who have been affected by a car accident should contact a Tennessee car accident attorney immediately. With an attorney’s help, victims and their families can overcome the devastating effects of a car accident and gain the financial and emotional assistance that they need to rebuild their lives.Categories
A week of winter storms recently left Tennessee in a state of emergency for days. Over 60,000 people were without power throughout the state as the result of some of the most severe weather in recent memory. Roadways, windshields and power lines were all coated in a thick layer of ice that left motorists stranded on unsafe roads.
This ice, known as black ice when it clings to the roads and pavement, is one of the most dangerous hazards motorists faced during the storm. It receives the name not from its color, but from its tendency to look exactly like the roads beneath it. A car accident attorney in Nashville knows that when motorists drive over black ice on the roads, they have no forewarning and are often left at the mercy of the ice.
What is black ice?
According to Accuweather.com, black ice usually forms when the air is at or below 32 degrees at the surface and it is actively raining. The ground is so cold that the water freezes on impact and creates a sheet of black ice. The ice can range from relatively thin to inches in thickness, depending on the weather conditions. Sleet may also generate black ice, as can the refreezing of water or snow as temperatures rise and drop throughout the day and over time.
The most common time for black ice to form is at dawn and late in the evening on wintry days. This is when temperatures are usually the lowest. The substance can often be found in shaded or tree-covered driveways and roads because of the sun’s inability to penetrate and melt the ice. Other common areas in which it forms are bridges and overpasses because they often freeze quickly. A car accident attorney in Nashville understands that motorists should always use extreme caution when driving in these areas in weather with at- or below-freezing temperatures to avoid dangerous accidents.
The most obvious way to prevent potentially fatal collisions in winter weather is to stay off of the roads. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. When unavoidable, the key to driving safely in dangerous weather is to drive slowly and carefully. No matter what roadways motorists use, they should never go above 45 miles per hour in icy conditions. If a vehicle begins to slide or fishtail, the motorist is going too fast for the road conditions. When black ice is present, motorists may be injured in an accident while driving at only 10 miles per hour, so constant vigilance is required.
Those who have been injured or whose loved ones have been killed in winter accidents may have a valid personal injury claim. Injured parties should contact a car accident attorney in Nashville for a case review and to help them through the claims process.
The effects of alcohol on motorists have been clearly documented through decades of continuous research. However, a car accident lawyer in Tennessee knows that the effects of cannabis use on drivers has seen less exposure. With the recent legalization of cannabis in many states in the U.S., a new focus is being placed on how it affects motorists, especially when used in conjunction with alcohol.
Researchers with VA Connecticut Healthcare and Yale University School of Medicine recently carried out a study in which they examined how dangerous the practice of driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis can be. Their findings indicate that combining the drugs may be more dangerous than using either substance alone.
About the study
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Addictions, focused on reviewing existing scientific evidence on the effects of driving while drugged with marijuana and comparing them to the effects of driving while inebriated. The researchers found that overall, cannabis users have an increased awareness of their impairment due to the nature of the drug. Therefore when they drive, they take extra precautions to ensure that they drive safely. However, when drivers use cannabis and alcohol together, they are no longer able to use these coping strategies. Instead, they become significantly more impaired. This was seen even at doses that would have caused insignificant impairment had just one drug been used.
Statistics demonstrate the potential danger
Due to the increasing rate of drug use, a car accident lawyer in Tennessee would likely argue that the dangers of combining alcohol and drugs can no longer be ignored. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, substance abuse or dependence problems plague around 22 million Americans. Furthermore, the survey reports that 9.9 million people over the age of 12 reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs.
Real effects on real families
ABC affiliate Wate.com reports that a small boy was recently killed when he was in an accident with an inebriated and drugged driver. The 7-year-old boy was riding as a passenger in a van when the driver of the vehicle crossed the center line and drove into a ditch on the opposite side of the road. The car hit a tree at full speed and caught fire. Both the 31-year-old driver and another 9-year-old passenger were seriously injured in the accident. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that the driver tested positive for both alcohol and drugs.
Motorists and pedestrians who have been injured due to the negligent acts of a drunk or drugged driver should contact a car accident lawyer in Tennessee. With their assistance, injured parties may be able to receive just compensation for their injuries and move on with their lives.
Tennessee workers who are required to drive commercial vehicles, as a part of their job, put themselves in danger every day. A Tennessee personal injury attorney knows that sometimes these employees are victims of other motorists’ poor driving habits. Injured employees have the right in Tennessee to seek workers’ compensation but they may also be able to file a third party lawsuit.
Recently, a woman employed with AT&T was standing next to her utility truck. According to Commercial Appeal News, a motorist overcorrected while swerving to miss hitting another car and smashed into the AT&T truck and woman. The truck was parked alongside the road when the accident occurred. The employee lost her leg as a result of the tragic accident. The driver was officially charged with driving while license suspended, failure to maintain control and violating the financial responsibility law.
What is a third party lawsuit?
A third party lawsuit is essentially a lawsuit filed against a person or company who is not associated with the injured worker’s employer. For example, in the above story, if the woman was hit by another AT&T driver, she would not be able to file a third party lawsuit as the negligent party would be a fellow co-worker. Since the person who caused her injuries is not affiliated with AT&T, she can seek additional financial compensation from that driver.
Unlike workers’ compensation, which is awarded on a no-fault basis, a Tennessee personal injury attorney knows in a third party lawsuit the injured worker must prove that the injuries were caused by the third party’s negligence. In some cases, the person who initiated the accident may be solely responsible. However, there have been situations where there were several parties involved. For example, if a delivery driver is hit and injured by a large tractor trailer, the truck driver and the trucking company may be held liable for the damages in separate third party lawsuits.
Are just auto accidents eligible?
These lawsuits are not limited to just auto accidents; they also apply to cases involving slip-and-falls as well as construction accidents. Unlike workers’ compensation benefits, which have a maximum payout limit, lawsuit money may be awarded for emotional trauma in addition to medical expenses and other damages.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a little over 3 million work-related injury cases were recorded in the U.S. during 2013. More than 200,000 of those involved slip-and-falls. When employees believe that their work-related injuries have been caused by an outside party, they may want to seek legal assistance from a Tennessee personal injury attorney.
Motor vehicle accidents contribute to a significant number of serious injuries and deaths in Tennessee each year. A personal injury attorney in Tennessee knows that many of these devastating collisions are preventable. In fact, AAA reported that more than half of all motor vehicle accident fatalities are the result of aggressive driving. Reckless driving, road rage and operating a vehicle while intoxicated are just a few ways that negligent drivers can cause a tragic car accident.
- Frequent lane changing
Many Tennessee motorists have shared the road with a vehicle that is switching back and forth between lanes haphazardly. In some cases, the anxious lane changer fails to use their turn signal to indicate to other motorists where they intend to go. Drivers may aggressively switch lanes if they are annoyed with slower drivers, are in a hurry to get to their destination or simply wish to speed through traffic. Unfortunately, frequent lane changing at high speeds can cause tragic car accidents. Drivers may fail to get a good look before turning into another vehicle traveling in the lane beside them.
Aggressive tailgating occurs when motorists follow the car in front of them too closely, according to SmartMotorist.com. If the leading vehicle should have to stop suddenly for any reason, the tailgating motorist may rear-end the car in front of them. Drivers often tailgate when they are in a hurry and feel as though the car in front of them is going too slow. Yet, riding on the back of a car’s bumper hardly accounts for safe driving practices. In fact, it could end in serious injury or death when speeding vehicles are driving too closely. Sadly, a personal injury attorney in Tennessee may deal with these types of cases on a regular basis.
- Excessive speeding
One of the most deadly aggressive driving behaviors is speeding. Driving at speeds above the posted limit lowers a driver’s ability to respond to certain roadway hazards, including objects in the road, pedestrians, traffic signals, inclement weather conditions, crosswalks and other drivers’ reckless behavior.
Not only do these driving behaviors put other motorists in danger, they also put the driver in danger of serious harm. Speeding, tailgating and constant lane switching can cause a car to rollover or swerve into oncoming traffic.
Other aggressive driving behaviors can occur if the motorist is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Extreme amounts of aggression may result in road rage, or people who use extreme violence against another driver who causes them to be upset.
When people are injured or lose a loved one in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, they may want to seek justice and compensation for their injuries and pain. Some accident victims may choose to consult with a personal injury attorney in Tennessee regarding their legal options.