Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Costs of Preventing Rear-End Collisions

In Columbia, Florence, Darlington, Midlands and surrounding areas, there is a significant risks that a motor vehicle collision will be a rear-end crash.  Approximately a third of all U.S. car accidents are rear-end accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).whiplash_blog_image

A personal injury lawyer knows that a rear-end accident can cause whiplash, broke bones, facial injuries, and spinal cord damage among other serious injuries.  Many of these accidents happen because of the actions of drivers who are not paying attention or who do not hit the brakes in time. In fact, the NHTSA has indicated that the rear driver did not hit the brakes, or was unable to fully hit the brakes, in a large number of rear end accidents.  Because so many crashes are caused by human error, the development of effective crash prevention technologies could make a major difference in making the roads safer by reducing rear-end collision risks. The question is: will motorists be willing to pay for the costs of these potentially life-saving technologies?

Considering the Costs of Preventing Rear-End Collisions 

Many effective technologies exist today to prevent rear-end crashes according to the Washington Post.

The basis of a rear-end prevention system involves a radar system and cameras that are able to defect when a car is about to hit another vehicle in front of him (or another obstacle). The system then warns the driver that a crash is imminent and that the driver needs to hit the brakes. If the driver doesn’t hit the brakes, an automatic braking system kicks in and hits the brakes for him.  Some systems also include technologies that will work in conjunction with a braking driver to make the brakes more effective when a crash is imminent.

These systems are installed in some vehicles already too. As of 2008, Volvo vehicles have had rear-end collision prevention systems featured as a standard offering. This could help to explain why drivers in the Volvo CX60 ended up with 20 percent fewer car accident claims than people in similar car without rear-end crash prevention systems.

Volvo isn’t the only car with the systems. Around 27 percent of 2015 vehicle models offer rear-end crash prevention as an option. However, when drivers have to pay for it, they may not do so.

A Carnegie Melon professor who is developing driverless cars told the Post that the actual cost to install a rear-end accident prevent system requires parts valued at around $700 to $800. Because of markup, however, motorists can expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000. They’ll get some of this back by reduced insurance costs and they may also end up avoiding a deadly crash because they paid extra for this technology. Still, many motorists do not make the choice to pay more up front to protect the future.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit http://www.matthewsandmegna.com. Serving the entire Florence, Darlington, Columbia, Midlands and Pee Dee

Columbia Child Pedestrians Face Greater Crash Risks

Parents in Florence, Darlington, Columbia, Midlands and Pee Dee need to talk with their children about pedestrian safety and tell kids that if they are crossing the road or walking somewhere, the kids must be 100 percent focused on walking safely. Kids shouldn’t be using smart phones or electronic devices while they are walking. A personal injury lawyer knows that even having a conversation with a friend or listening to head phones can exacerbate the risk of a child getting hurt in a pedestrian collision. 

While it is important for every pedestrian to pay careful attention to what is going on around him, this may be even more essential for children.  This is because a recent study shows that children 10 and under frequently suffer from perceptual blindness.

Perceptual Blindness Puts Children at Risk of Pedestrian Crashes

Around 25 percent of children who are killed in motor vehicle accidents lose their lives in pedestrian crashes.  Some children lose their lives because they don’t see cars coming toward them, while others are killed due to the negligence of the driver.

Perceptual blindness makes younger kids less likely to see cars in time to get out of the way. Perceptual blindness refers to the fact that you don’t recognize what is going on around you if you have your attention focused on something else.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently on a study showing younger children don’t have the same ability to recognize an unexpected object as adults do.  The study was conducted in Germany and 480 school children were included. The kids involved in the study were boys and girls between the ages of eight and 15.

A 30-second video of basketball players was shown to the children. The kids were told that their goal was to watch the players who were wearing white jerseys and to count the number of times that those players had passed.

While the children were looking at the third video, a man dressed in a gorilla suit came on to the basketball court.  The gorilla walked directly across the court and then went out an area where there was no camera pointing. The gorilla was visible in the video the kids were watching for a full nine seconds.

At the end of the experiment, the children were asked if they had observed anything unusual in the video. Less than half (only 43 percent) said they saw the gorilla. Kids who were older were more likely to see it.  A total of 32 percent of 10-year-olds indicated they had seen the gorilla.  This was higher than the 15 percent of eight-year-olds, and the 31 percent of nine-year-olds.

By the time a child reaches the age of 11, this perceptual blindness phenomenon seems to resolve itself and children are just as capable as adults at being able to identify things going on around them even if their focus is elsewhere.  Still, for younger children especially, perceptual blindness can make them more likely to get hurt. Parents need to talk to their kid about staying focused and about road safety while drivers should also think carefully about whether they are obeying the rules and protecting children.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit www.matthewsandmegna.com. Serving the entire Florence, Darlington, Columbia, Midlands and Pee Dee, SC area.

Columbia Crash Risk Heightens With ‘Buzzed Driving’

Many motorists think they can have a drink or two and still get behind the wheel safely. A personal injury lawyer knows it can be very difficult to predict a safe amount to drink without your driving being affected. 

Because even a small amount of alcohol may affect your ability to drive, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reminded motorists that “buzzed driving” is indeed drunk driving. With holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, coupled with the earlier darkness due to daylight-saving time ending, it is more important than ever for motorists to be aware of the high risks associated with driving after consuming alcohol.

Buzzed Driving Can Increase the Risk of Collisions

One of the biggest challenges in preventing intoxicated driving is that people who have consumed alcohol may not be able to make a rational choice about whether they can safely drive. As Young Men’s Health cautions, having one drink can make it harder to think clearly and affect your judgment. As a result, after you have consumed alcohol, you may believe that you are OK to drive when really it would be unsafe for you to do so.

The Daily Mail also reported on a study demonstrating how difficult it is to make accurate predictions about when you have had too much to drink such that your driving will be affected. Researchers found that one thin dancer was able to consume considerably more alcohol than someone twice as heavy as she was before her ability to drive safely was affected. While weight and gender are important factors in blood-alcohol content estimation, the historical frequency of alcohol consumption and a variety of other things all impact the way in which alcohol affects you.

Here’s a fact: Most people really can’t drink as much as they think before their driving is affected. This is why the National Transportation Safety Board is advocating for the permissible blood-alcohol concentration limit to be dropped from the current level of .08 percent to a lower level of .05 percent. The reason is once a person reaches the .05 percent level, driving abilities may already be significantly impaired. For some people, just one drink would result in the legal threshold being reached or exceeded.

Business Insider published a chart showing just how little you can actually consume before you have had too much alcohol to be legally allowed to drive. For example, after a 100-pound man had consumed only two drinks, his blood-alcohol concentration would be at .09 percent. A 180-pound man would only have to drink three drinks before he reached a blood-alcohol concentration level over the legal limit and even a 220-pound man could have just four drinks.

It is always better not to take a chance and drive when you are buzzed. So before you start drinking for the night, be sure you have a designated driver or another plan in place to get home without getting behind the wheel.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit http://www.matthewsandmegna.com. Serving the entire Florence, Darlington, Columbia, Midlands and Pee Dee, SC area. 

Are More Columbia Collision Victims Getting Legal Help With Insurance Claims?

Private insurance companies cover approximately half of all costs arising out of motor vehicle collisions. Charities and healthcare providers pay 14 percent of motor vehicle crash expenditures, and government revenue pays the remaining costs according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIAA)

People who turn to insurance companies to pay crash costs may face significant challenges. The American Association for Justice published a report on the tactics of the 10 worst insurance companies, which include some of the largest insurers in the country. These insurers employ practices of “deny, delay and defend,” with the goal of depriving victims of having losses covered and paying out as little as possible when claims do get paid.

The good news is, a report from the Insurance Research Council reveals that more victims are getting help from a personal injury lawyer to deal with these troublesome insurance tactics and recover the money they deserve. While the Insurance Research Council tries to present this as a negative development, the fact is that having an attorney can be very helpful to a car accident victim.

Attorneys are Helping More Collision Victims

The most significant increase in the percent of collision victims seeking representation has occurred among victims who are making personal injury protection (PIP) claims. In 1977, 17 percent of PIP claimants had a lawyer. In 2007, 31 percent were represented and in 2012, 36 percent were represented.

At the same time as the percentage of represented claimants has risen, the average claimed economic losses of victims have also gone up. The RMIIA reports an eight percent annualized increase in claimed losses for PIP claims.

The number of victims making a bodily injury claim who seek representation has also increased but not by nearly as much. In 1977, 47 percent of bodily injury claimants had a lawyer. In 2007, 49 percent of claimants had an attorney and in 2012, half of claimants had a motor vehicle collision lawyer representing them.

An increase in claimed losses has also happened for bodily injury claims, but the increase is a smaller one. From 2007 to 2012, the average claimed losses made by bodily injury claimants rose four percent.

The Insurance Research Council suggests that it is bad for more people to be represented by lawyers. One of their big argument is that it takes longer for victims to resolve claims. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Insurers may try to use high pressure tactics to get victims to accept low sums of money and settle cases really quickly before the extent of injuries is clear. A delay to allow time for a proper diagnosis and for an attorney to negotiate a more favorable settlement may be something the insurers want to avoid, but it is definitely better for the collision victim.

The data also shows that claimants represented by a lawyer may be more likely to get an MRI than those victims not represented by a lawyer. Getting proper medical testing for an accurate diagnosis is also a good thing for covered claimants, despite the insurer’s unhappiness at having to actually pay for covered services.

Contact Columbia, SC injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit http://www.matthewsandmegna.com

Columbia, SC Drivers Making Unsafe Choices

A survey of 2000 drivers found that 46 percent of motorists said they had driven once or twice in the past year at a time when they were concerned it was not safe for them to operate their vehicle. This troubling statistic comes from a recent survey conducted by CarInsurance.com. The same survey found that 11 percent of respondents said they had driven despite safety concerns somewhere between three and 10 times over the course of the year. Three percent said that there were 10 or more times they had gotten behind the wheel when they felt they shouldn’t. 

When a driver operates his vehicle at a time that it is not safe for him to do so, he endangers himself and he endangers others. An experienced personal injury lawyer should be consulted by victims of any accidents that result from driver negligence.

Drivers are Making Unsafe Choices

There were many different behaviors reported by drivers who said they had gotten behind the wheel despite safety concerns. Of the drivers who admitted to driving when they felt they should not do so:

  • 68 percent were concerned they were too sleepy yet drove anyway.
  • 53 percent said they had a headache but still drove.
  • 35 percent said they got up to drive despite the fact that they were so sick they felt they should have stayed in bed.
  • 23 percent said that they thought they were too intoxicated but they drove because they were not as drunk as a friend.
  • 16 percent drove despite not having glasses or contacts that they needed to see.
  • 15 percent said they drove even though they were on narcotic pain medication.
  • Eight percent said they drove when they had their arm in a cast.

Drivers also reported that they operated their vehicles even when they were concerned that the car had mechanical problems. A motorist who chooses to drive an unsound and unsafe car can also be held responsible for the consequences. The motorists who drove despite concerns about the car’s features included:

  • 61 percent who had a check engine light on.
  • 32 percent who couldn’t see because of too much snow or ice on the windshield.
  • 36 percent who had windshield wipers that didn’t work.
  • 21 percent who had broken speedometers.
  • 19 percent who had horns that didn’t function.
  • 18 percent who had headlights that did not work.
  • 17 percent who had a flat tire.
  • 10 percent who had a door that actually had to be held closed so it did not open.
  • Seven percent who had a child in the car but who had no child safety seat as required.
  • Six percent who had a vehicle that was filled with exhaust fumes
  • Five percent who had either no driver’s seat or a broken driver’s seat

These are serious risks, but drivers choose to operate vehicles with these major problems. Drivers indicated that they drove when they felt they shouldn’t as a result of a need to get to work; to return home; to visit a doctor or to pick up their children. Unfortunately, there is never a reason to get behind the wheel and put your life at risk.

Contact Columbia, SC injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700

Teen Risks Lead to Student Accidents in South Carolina

In South Carolina, News 4 recently reported on the death of a 19-year-old teenager who was thrown from a vehicle after the car he was riding in went out of control.   He is one of many young people to die in motor vehicle collisions each year. Among high school and college students ages 13 to 19, motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of death. In 2012, 2,439 teenagers were killed in collisions compared with 1,927 young people who lost their lives in homicides and 1,863 teens who took their own lives.

Determining the cause of student accidents is important, because drivers can be held accountable when they make choices that cause injury or death. An experienced attorney at Matthews & Megna, LLC can represent clients who have suffered injury and help them obtain compensation for losses.

Understanding the Dangers that Teenagers Face

General Motors recently conducted an in-depth study on teen car accidents. More than 1,000 teenagers were interviewed from across the United States. The results of the research showed:

  • 56 percent of teens killed in motor vehicle collisions were driving at the time and 44 percent were passengers when they were killed.
  • One out of four teenagers admitted to not buckling up every single time they were in the car. Teens didn’t buckle up if they were driving too short of a distance, or because they were not in the habit of wearing a seat belt. Some young people also did not buckle up because they found seat belts uncomfortable.
  • Around 50 percent of the teen fatalities involved young people who were not buckled up at the time of their death. A teen sitting in the front seat of a car who is buckled up is 45 percent less likely to die in a collision compared to someone who is not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.
  • 73 percent of teenagers who admitted they did not buckle up regularly also admitted to texting and driving. Just 52 percent of teens who always wore their seat belts said that they texted and drove.
  • A total of 57 percent of teenagers who responded to the survey reported being in the car with a parent who was talking on his phone while driving, and another 28 percent said that they had been in a car with a parent who was texting.
  • 39 percent of teen drivers said they had been a passenger in a car with a teenage driver who was texting, and 43 percent had been a passenger in a car with a teenage driver who was talking on a phone.
  • 49 percent of teenagers reported they had been a passenger in a vehicle with a teen driver who they felt was operating the car in an unsafe way. Another 31 percent of teens indicated that they had been driving in a car with a parent who was behaving in an unsafe way. Despite the risk, only four in 10 teens said that they spoke up when they felt unsafe.

The data shows that many collisions could be prevented if teenagers kept their phones put away, if they buckled up at all times and if they spoke up when their friends acted in dangerous ways behind the wheel.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna, LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit http://www.matthewsandmegna.com

South Carolina Drivers Ranked as the Second Worst in the Country

Car Insurance Comparison recently released a list ranking all of the states in the U.S. in terms of which locations had the safest drivers.  Unfortunately for the state of South Carolina, and for the people on the roads within the state, South Carolina had the second worst drivers in the entire country. Only the state of Louisiana fared worse. 

To rank the different locations, Car Insurance Comparison used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as other available information on the number of car accidents and the number of violations of driver safety laws within the states. An experienced car accident attorney in Columbia, SC knows that one of the areas where South Carolina did the worst was in the number of intoxicated motorists on the roads. While the high rate of drunk drivers in South Carolina played a key rolling in causing a relatively high number of auto accident fatalities, there were also other dangerous behaviors that South Carolina drivers tended to engage in.

Drivers in South Carolina should consider the Car Insurance Comparison information an important wake-up call. Motorists shouldn’t have to fear being injured or killed by a drunk or careless driver on the roads and every motorist owes a duty to others on the road to behave in a reasonably prudent way in order to avoid deadly wrecks.

South Carolina Ranks Poorly for Drunk Driving & Other Dangerous Behaviors

Taking a close look at the different categories that Car Insurance Comparison used to rate the states, it is clear that there were some specific bad behaviors that resulted in drivers earning their place as the second worst in the country.

The fact that South Carolina ranked number 49th out of 50 states in terms of drunk driving was especially bad news since driving while intoxicated can more than double the risk of becoming involved in a crash. South Carolina also ranked 50 out of 50 in the category of careless driving. In prior years, South Carolina was ranked third best in the Careless Driving category, so this was a dramatic shift that moved the state from having the 11th worst drivers in the country to having the second worst.

South Carolina did improve in the category of failure to obey, which refers to traffic signals and seat belts. In this category, the state ranked 29th out of 50 states. Wearing your seat belt is especially important every time you are in the vehicle. If you are involved in an accident with a careless or intoxicated driver, having a seat belt on could potentially save your life.

Finally, South Carolina also ranked number 38 in regards to the number of tickets drivers received. Increasing police presence and issuing more tickets could perhaps help the state to improve in other categories by reducing the rate of drunk driving and by reducing the rate of careless driving.

Call Matthews & Megna in Columbia, SC today at 877-253-7705 today for a free case consultation.

Night-Shift Workers at Risk of Accidents: What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

A 25-year-old woman was killed in a Columbia traffic accident this November as she was heading home from work at approximately 5:00 a.m.  According to WISTV, the accident is still under investigation and it is not clear why the woman’s vehicle veered off the road, hitting both a tree and a utility pole. 

While there are many reasons why this young victim may have become involved in this deadly crash, any car accident attorney in Columbia SC knows that individuals who work nights and who come home in the early hours of the morning are at serious risk of becoming involved in an auto accident as a result of such a work schedule.

Night-Shift Workers Face Dangers on the Road

According to the American Psychological Association, almost 15 million Americans either work a permanent job on the night shift or rotate into a position that requires at least periodic work at night. Many of the individuals who take these jobs do not have time to adjust their sleep schedules or take the work because they need the money regardless of whether they find themselves overtired.

Unfortunately, the APA indicates that many of these workers are at serious risk because their circadian clock is off. The circadian clock is essentially a timer within the body that controls the release of certain hormones and that controls alertness, mood, body temperature and other aspects of your daily cycle. Based on the circadian clock and on your body chemistry, the body will naturally start to relax after dark and become more alert once morning comes.

For those who work third shift jobs, who work overnight and who are coming home in the early morning like the recent accident victim, this natural body process of relaxing for the evening is a problematic. As the American Psychological Association points out, working against your natural sleep cycle and reflexes can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, delayed reflexes, warped perspective, difficulty making decisions and decreased immune function.

All of this means that a driver who works nights is more likely to suffer from excessive sleepiness or insomnia. Drivers who suffer from these types of disorders and drivers who try to drive home early in the morning after working all night are more likely to nod off behind the wheel and are thus more likely to become involved in drowsy driving accidents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide some tips for shift workers to reduce the risk of accidents. The CDC recommends:

  • Making sure you leave sufficient time to get sleep after working a night shift.
  • Avoiding alcohol or heavy foods before going to sleep and reducing the use of stimulants several hours before trying to sleep so you do not interfere with your sleep schedule.
  • Sleeping someplace dark, cool and quiet to make it possible to fall asleep quickly and remain asleep for a full night’s rest.
  • Getting help from a healthcare provider if you are having a hard time getting to sleep.

By following these tips, hopefully the risks that shift workers face on the road can be reduced.

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC can help auto accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705 today for a free case consultation.

Teen Car Accident Risks and Start Times at Carolina Schools

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 58 percent of young people who are killed while traveling to and from school die in a collision with a teen driver. Deaths on the way to or from school were far more common with a teen behind the wheel.  By comparison, 23 percent of child deaths happened when the children were commuting to school in their parent’s car, and the remaining one percent of fatalities occurred when the commuting child was on the school bus. 

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC know that young drivers are at greater risk of getting into an accident than older motorists, which may help to explain these statistics. While there are many potential risk factors that account for the high teen car accident rate, one risk factor is drowsy driving.  Teens often get insufficient sleep due to school, sports and social activities. Studies have also shown that young people are less likely to pull over and rest when feeling fatigued behind the wheel as compared with older motorists.

Early School Starts Increase Car Accident Risk

Drowsy driving is a potential problem for teen drivers all the time, but the start of the school year is an especially dangerous time for young people. This is because, as a recent article on Coloradoan.com points out, many high schools start really early and kids have a very difficult time getting enough sleep.

Because high schools often share buses with elementary and middle schools as a cost-saving measure, school start times need to be staggered.  High schools are almost always the school that starts the earliest, and as a result, around 40 percent of public high schools in the United States open prior to 8 a.m.  The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics also reported that only 15 percent of schools in the United States start at or after 8:30 in the morning.

Teachers have noticed that these early classes have a real impact on the teen’s ability to pay attention and learn, especially first thing in the morning. As the Coloradoan reported, one teacher said that attendance in first-period classes was often below 50 percent since kids couldn’t get up.  Kids would also be falling asleep in their early classes and were described as being exhausted.

The fact that kids are exhausted isn’t surprising when considering the school these kids attended started classes at 7:17 a.m. and some had to catch the bus as early as 5:50 a.m. to get to school on time.

Most teens and young adults need at least eight-hours of sleep to be rested enough to do their best academically and to be as alert as possible behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, this would mean that kids would need to go to bed sometimes as early as nine or 10 at night in order to get the recommended amount of rest. Since few teens are going to do this, you end up with a lot of tired teens.  When those tired teens get behind the wheel, they put themselves and others in danger.

Many schools are recognizing both the risk to safety and the impaired academic performance that comes with insufficient sleep and are considering making schools start later. Until this change is made, however, teens commuting to school need to be absolutely sure they get enough rest so they don’t present a risk on the roads.

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC can help auto accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705.

New Consumer Study Sheds Light on Car Insurance Premium Practices

Car insurance companies are supposed to provide protection to drivers by ensuring that accident damages are covered. Our South Carolina accident lawyers know that car insurers will evaluate how much of an accident risk a given driver presents before quoting an insurance policy and determining how much someone will pay in premiums. 

Although it has long been known that certain factors – such as a history of accidents – can result in higher premiums, a new study from the Consumer Federation of America sheds light on some of the practices of car insurers. Unfortunately, this new consumer report doesn’t make car insurance companies look very good (or very trustworthy) as it appears the insurers are taking into account education and employment in setting car insurance rates.

Car Insurance Companies Charge Blue Collar Workers More

According to a report released by the Consumer Federation of America:

  • Geico charges a factory worker with a high school degree as much as 45 percent more in certain markets as compared with a plant supervisor that has a college degree.
  • In some markets, Progressive charges a factory worker with a high school degree as much as 33 percent more than the college-educated factory supervisor.
  • Farmers charged non-professionals and non-government workers as much as five percent higher premiums than those who worked for the government or who worked in jobs traditionally considered professional.

The Consumer Federation of America obtained quotes from major insurance companies by providing information that was consistent in all respects except for education and income.

Based on the data collected in the survey, the Executive Director of the CFA, Stephen Broderick, was quoted as saying “Auto insurers charge high premiums for minimal coverage to most working people, even those with perfect driving records, who live in urban areas.” The use of education and income data to set insurance rates is something that the majority of people disagree with; a June 2012 study revealed that 68 percent of more than 1,010 responding adults said it was unfair to use education in setting insurance premiums and 65 percent said it was unfair to use occupation in setting rates.

Unfortunately, as the study points out, the outcome of this is that many lower income workers end up facing a choice of paying either unaffordable prices or taking the chance of breaking the law and driving with no insurance. If this is the choice that is made, it is dangerous for everyone involved because a lower income person who causes a crash would have no insurance and limited assets to pay for damages.

The findings are disturbing as they show that insurance companies may actually be creating a high-risk situation where some drivers are more likely to go without insurance. The findings also highlight a fact that has become abundantly clear: insurance companies care about profit and not customers. This is why it is so important to ensure you have a legal professional dealing with the insurance company on your behalf if you are involved in an accident and need to make a claim.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Columbia, South Carolina attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705.