The Shocking Truth About Cell Phones That Could Save Your Life

The number of people injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver is on the rise, and distracted driving is a factor in nearly one in five accidents resulting in injuries. This increase coincides with an increase in the use of cell phones and smart phones in general and particularly while driving.

Approximately 95% of Americans own cell phones and 77% own a smart phone, and the use of these devices appears to be increasing in frequency and duration over time. Approximately two thirds of drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving, and nearly a third reported reading or sending text messages or emails while driving. One study reported that over 90% of college students initiate, reply or read a text message while driving.

Distracted driving can take many forms including texting, using a cell phone, talking to passengers, looking at maps, grooming, eating, daydreaming, smoking, adjusting the stereo, or using a navigation system. These distractions are often classified into four broad categories: (1) visual distractions, such as taking your eyes off the road; (2) physical distractions, which include eating or smoking; (3) audible distractions, like listening to someone speaking; and (4) mental distractions, including daydreaming or focusing on something other than driving.

A distraction can include one or more of these categories. For example, reading a text message may involve receiving an audible notification, picking up the phone, looking at the message, and thinking about the content.

Mobile phone use while driving is common and can easily distract a driver from the road. Talking on a cell phone is a problem, but smart phones offer many functions to divert a driver’s attention, such as text messages, emails, social media, music, and map features.

Texting is particularly dangerous because it takes the driver’s attention away from driving more frequently and for longer periods of time than other distractions. One study found that text messaging increased distraction-related accidents six fold. The average time a driver takes their eyes off the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 mph, five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field.

California has attempted to address the problem by prohibiting drivers from holding or using a cell phone unless it is set up for hands-free operation. Nevertheless, drivers continue to reach for their phone while driving. So put down the cell phones while driving, and contact an attorney if you have been injured by a distracted driver.

What the media hasn’t told you about concussions

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results in a temporary loss of brain function. Every car accident victim is at risk for concussions or TBI, particularly children and older adults. A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI may range from mild to severe depending on the symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of traumatic brain injuries occur each year and approximately 15% of all traumatic brain injuries in the US are caused by motor vehicle collisions. Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of hospitalizations for persons ages 15-44 years of age.

Severe traumatic brain injuries can result in death, unconsciousness, or amnesia, and can lead to a wide range of long and short term issues. However, concussions are the most common form of TBI and are likely the most underreported because the symptoms are not always immediately apparent and many people do not seek appropriate medical attention. A concussion is a mild type of TBI that results in a temporary loss of brain function.

Recovery from concussions varies among individuals, but symptoms may last for weeks or longer. Symptoms of a concussion generally fall into four categories: (1) thinking/remembering (difficulty thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering new information); (2) physical (headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting early on, dizziness, sensitivity to noise and light, balance problems, feeling tired); (3) emotional/mood (irritability, sadness, more emotional, nervousness or anxiety); and (4) sleep (difficulty sleeping and sleeping more or less than usual).

People with a concussion should be seen by a healthcare professional, who can evaluate a concussion and determine if a referral to a specialist is appropriate. Getting help soon after the injury may help to improve recovery. Healthcare professionals may perform a brain scan or other tests on learning, concentration, or problem-solving abilities to identify the effects of a concussion.

Most people recover from concussions, but it may take a while depending on a number of factors. Some people may have difficulty performing daily activities, going to work, relaxing, and getting along with others. The recovery period may require plenty of sleep and rest, avoiding physical activities such as exercise and housework, avoiding mental activities that require a lot of concentration like doing taxes and balancing the checkbook, and may require time off work.

Should your car be considered a total loss after an accident?

After an accident, car owners and their insurance companies make a determination of whether a vehicle is a total loss. This determination can be a source of conflict when a car owner wants the car to be totaled in order to avoid driving a repaired vehicle that was badly damaged and the resulting diminished value of the car. On the other hand, some owners may wish to avoid a total loss determination because the actual cash value that the insurance company agrees to may not be enough to purchase an acceptable replacement vehicle or for some other reason the owner wishes to continue driving the car.

Generally speaking, a car is considered a total loss when the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the actual cash value of the car. However, as a practical matter, insurance companies usually determine that a car is totaled when the cost to repair it is a large percentage of the actual cash value because at that point the damage is extensive enough that it would be uneconomical to repair the vehicle.

There are a number of variables in this equation that should be considered when dealing with an insurance company regarding the total loss determination. First, insurance companies are able to recoup some of the value of a totaled vehicle by selling it as salvage and will add the salvage value to the cost to repair the car. If that figure exceeds the actual cash value then a car may be determined to be a total loss.

The salvage value of the car and the estimated cost to repair the vehicle should be considered in making a total loss determination. Repair estimates can vary widely depending on the body shop that provides the estimate, and insurance companies may consider the reality that supplemental repairs may be required beyond those listed in a preliminary estimate. Furthermore, the salvage value of a vehicle depends on a number of factors, including whether parts for that model car are in high demand, what parts are damaged, and whether the vehicle will be sold for scrap.

The actual cash value of a car is another area of contention in a total loss determination. Insurance companies do not always use the full Kelly Blue Book value of a car in making this valuation. They may consider other measurements of the value such as quotes from local dealerships, sales reports, valuation guides, or advertisements. There may also be a dispute as to the condition of the vehicle.

If a car is determined to be a total loss, the DMV and vehicle code impose a number of reporting and registration requirements on the owner and insurance companies involved. This may also affect the insurance payout on the vehicle. For example, if the car owner retains a totaled vehicle, the insurance company will decrease the payout by the salvage value of the vehicle.

The property damage component of a car accident can create a large amount of confusion, and a qualified attorney may be able to help in evaluating a potential claim.

8 Things Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know About Car Accidents

Insurance companies begin investigating car accident claims as soon as they are reported. These are sophisticated businesses that know how to minimize the value of a car accident case and have a strong financial incentive to pay out the smallest amount possible. Below are eight things to consider in dealing with an insurance company after an accident.

You do not have to give a statement to an insurance company. As soon as an accident is reported, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will probably call you immediately to ask for a recorded statement. California law does not require you to give a statement to another party’s insurance company. Sometimes making a statement can help to move a case along, but usually insurance companies use the opportunity to go on a fishing expedition and to trip up unprepared parties with valid claims.

You do not have to sign a medical records release for an insurance company. Many insurance companies routinely send out broad authorization forms for medical records as soon as a claim is reported. They will also send out information sheets that request information about the accident and the injures. Again, California law does not require you to execute a release or give out free information to an adverse party.

You are entitled to damages for pain and suffering if you experienced these symptoms after an accident. Insurance companies sometimes request copies of medical bills and may offer to pay a hospital bill to settle a claim quickly. California law permits recovery of all damages caused by an accident, which includes the physical pain, emotion anguish, and inconvenience associated with an accident.

You can retain an attorney even for a small accident. Many clients worry that they do not have a claim or that a case is not worth pursuing. However, most attorneys will offer a free consultation to let you know if they can help and will not charge attorneys fees unless and until they get you a settlement. An attorney can also help you get medical treatment with no up-front fees.

Soft tissue injuries can be severe and long lasting, and you may be entitled to compensation for them. Whiplash, contusions, sprains, and strains are all common injuries in car accidents, which can cause a lot of pain and can make it difficult to go about your life. Soft tissue injuries can take time to recover from and can have flare-ups down the road. The bottom line is that insurance companies often try to minimize these sorts of injuries.

Car accidents can cause brain injuries. Even low speed impacts can cause blows to the head and jolting forces. The severity of traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to sever, with a range of short or long term changes and can potentially affect thinking, sensation, language, and emotion, which might include difficulties with memory, reasoning, sight, balance, communication, understanding, depression, anxiety, and many other potential difficulties.

Insurance companies can and will look through your social media profiles. If you are active on social media, you should realize that anything you post can be used against you by an insurance company to minimize your claim. People usually put out a polished image on social media, but insurance companies often use these sorts of posts and images to undercut damages claims.

You should be compensated for all of your damages caused by another party’s negligence. Tylenol, bandages, parking at the doctor’s office, time missed from work, all cost accident victims money, and these damages may be compensable.

Compensation for Personal Injuries

This post goes over some of the potential damages that car accident victims may be able to recover following a traffic collision.

Past and Future Medical Expenses

A traffic collision can cause life changing injuries, including soft tissue injuries, broken bones, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. We work with you and your medical team to understand your injuries, and we can get you access to treatment with no up-front cost to you. Injuries often require extensive treatment from doctors, hospitals, surgeons, chiropractors, and therapists. We hold negligent parties liable for the medical care you need, now and in the future.

Loss of Income, Earnings, and Earning Capacity

You may also miss work or be unable to return to work at all due to the extent of your injuries. The loss of income and earning capacity can last well into the future, and can be financially devastating. We get car accident victims full compensation for their loss.

Past and Future Pain and Suffering

Hospital visits and missed work cost money, but car accident victims also experience physical pain and mental suffering from their injuries. Accident victims continue to suffer when they can no longer enjoy life as they did before the accident, enjoy the full use of their body, are inconvenienced by their accident, and when they suffer grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress following an accident. We hold negligent parties fully liable for the damages caused by a car accident.

Property Damage

Following a traffic collision, there may be significant damage to your vehicle or other property. You may be entitled to the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle or other property following an accident. Insurance companies often attempt to force accident victims to repair badly damaged vehicles and fail to adequately compensate victims for the diminished value of a vehicle following significant repairs. Insurance companies may also declare your vehicle a total loss and only agree to pay an amount that is insufficient to purchase an acceptable replacement vehicle.

Compensation

You may be entitled to compensation for you medical bills, property damage to your vehicle, loss of income and earning capacity, and past and future pain and suffering. The Law Offices of Scott C. Briggs will maximize your results and minimize your inconvenience in the meantime. We can help you pay your medical bills, protect you from insurance companies, help with the financial burden of being unable to return to work, get you paid by holding negligent parties accountable.

All cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, and the costs are advanced by Mr. Briggs, which means that you do not pay us a penny unless and until we get you compensated. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we will answer any questions you have about your case.

Medical Records in Auto Accident Cases

In car accident cases, an injured party’s medical records are important pieces of evidence. A health care provider’s charts, notes, reports, and bills provide important documentation for assessing and presenting a compelling case for compensation following a car accident. These records provide valuable insight into the extent of the injuries sustained, the pain and suffering inflicted, time spent in treatment, limitations in daily life, and amounts of money that were spent or are owed as a result of the treatment.

Injured parties and their attorneys need to diligently gather these records in order to present a compelling case. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides that individuals have a right to access their own medical records. A car accident attorney will locate the pertinent health care facilities, prepare release forms for the patient, and arrange to obtain copies of these records.

Defense attorneys and insurance companies also have a limited ability to obtain these records in order to evaluate the injured party’s claims. However, an injured party’s privacy rights must be balanced against a defendant’s right to obtain medical records.

Insurance companies do not have a right to obtain an injured party’s medical records before litigation unless the disclosure is authorized by the injured party. Many insurance companies routinely send out very broad authorization forms as soon as a claim is presented but before a lawsuit is filed in an attempt to engage in a fishing expedition for any information that might appear to undercut an injured party’s claim.

When a lawsuit is filed, HIPAA and California law provide defendants with procedures for obtaining medical records pursuant to a Court order or a subpoena issued to the health care provider. These procedures provide the injured party with notice of the health information that the defendants are seeking and an opportunity to object to the information that is being sought. Defendants routinely send out overbroad requests to health care providers and fail to consider the appropriate procedures for preventing the unauthorized disclosure of protected health information to third parties.

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney to protect your rights.

Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians

Car accidents involving pedestrians can result in significant injuries and damages. In order to win a basic negligence claim, an injured party must show that the defendant failed to drive as a reasonable person would under the circumstances and caused damages to the injured party.

Pedestrians and motorists have an equal right to the road, and the law requires that both exercise ordinary care in doing so. Courts have generally stated that the degree of caution required in the exercise of ordinary care depends on the danger that is apparent or should be apparent under the circumstances. Therefore, the measure of ordinary care for a driver is greater than that required for a pedestrian because a car is capable of causing serious or even fatal injuries as a result of the power and speed of a car.

California’s vehicle code states that the right-of-way is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway. Neither a pedestrian nor a motorist has a superior right to use the highway. However, violations of the laws defining the rights and duties of pedestrians and motorists may constitute negligence as a matter of law. For example, the vehicle code contains provisions relating to obeying signs and signals and yielding the right-or-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. When a party violates these laws, resulting in injuries, they may be found negligent as a matter of law.

Documenting Causation Issues in Car Accident Cases

Insurance companies and defendants in car accident cases have many methods of trying to undercut a claim for damages. In order to win a basic negligence claim, an injured party must show that the defendant failed to drive as a reasonable person would under the circumstances and caused damages to the injured party.

Insurance companies will often point to the element of causation in an attempt to undercut a claim for compensation and suggest that medical injuries or other damages were not caused by the accident or were not entirely the result of the accident.

A common tactic for defendants is to point to preexisting injuries as a reason to undervalue a damages claim. For example, if an injured party had a documented history of back pain and treatment for that condition prior to the accident, Insurance companies will claim that treatment for that condition following the accident is not related or not entirely related to the incident. However, California law establishes that a car accident victim is entitled to full compensation for any exacerbation of a preexisting injury that resulted from the accident.

Furthermore, defendants will look closely at the date of the onset of symptoms from the collision and any delay between the collision and the treatment for the injuries. Defendants will suggest that a delay in the onset of symptoms or treatments suggests that the injuries are not related to the accident, particularly in the case of soft tissue injures, which are not as objectively apparent as catastrophic injuries. Therefore, it is important that an accident victim seek medical attention as soon as it is necessary. Our firm has access to health care providers that will provide treatment on a lien, with no upfront costs to the patients until a recovery is obtained.

Moreover, it is important to insure that there is proper medical documentation of the injury and symptoms following an accident. Documenting the medical treatment and providing a complete record are very helpful in proving causation. This is another reason that an accident victim should seek appropriate medical attention regarding their symptoms and provide complete and honest information to their health care providers.

Another part of causation that should be considered is connecting the forces involved in the collision to the injuries sustained in the accident. A number of factors can go into this assessment depending on the accident, including, witness statements, skid marks, vehicle speeds, changes in velocity, directions of travel, biomechanical assessments, and other expert analyses. Documenting these issues is another important step following an accident, and a qualified attorney can put together a compelling case with information from the available sources, which might include traffic collision reports, witness interviews, scene inspections, and consultations with experts.

Legal Claims for Compensation following a Car Accident

Car accident victims may be eligible to recover compensation for their injuries and damages from the parties responsible. A fairly routine fender bender case often involves a claim of negligence against the at fault driver on the theory that the driver was not operating the vehicle reasonably. In many cases, the negligent driver is insured, and the insurance company will pay for the injuries resulting from the crash.

Claims can also be made against a vehicle’s owner for negligently entrusting a vehicle to someone who is unfit to drive. A driver’s employer may also be liable on a negligent entrustment, negligent hiring and supervision, or vicarious liability theory. In some cases, the government can be held liable for the negligence of its employees, as well as for the placement of traffic signals, guard rails, and road design.

Car accidents may also be the result of a defect in the vehicle or its components. These case may give rise to products liability claims based on an unreasonably dangerous product design, flaws in the manufacturing of the product, and inadequate warnings related to use of the product.

Tips for Handling and Documenting a Car Accident

Following a car accident, it is important to move your vehicle to a safe location and call 911 if anyone requires medical assistance. It is generally a good idea to contact the police in order to obtain a Traffic Collision Report, and it may be necessary to contact roadside assistance if one or more of the vehicles are not driveable. Read more