Archive for the ‘Auto Accidents’ Category

December Holiday Drunk Driving Campaign in Indiana and Illinois

December 18th, 2014 by admin

This week, the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign began and it will run through New Year’s Day 2015. The federal effort will be coordinated with state and local law enforcement efforts to keep car accidents involving drunk driving from happening during this festive holiday season.

 

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Drunk Driving Kills People: Drive Sober Campaigns

These campaigns are working, hopefully: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of drunk driving deaths fell 2.5% last year (in 2013). Still, deaths caused by people driving under the influence is still a very serious problem in this country: in 2013, a person died every 52 minutes from a drunk driving crash.

“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

 

Illinois

According to the Illinois statistics, approximately 47% of Illinois motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol. This year, the State of Illinois is participating in the Drive Sober campaign during the last two weeks of December 2014.

Indiana

Indiana reports 5,152 alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2012, which resulted in 158 fatalities, 246 serious bodily injuries, and 1,866 other injuries (a total of 2,112 non-fatal injuries). This means that just about every other day in Indiana, someone dies in a drunk driving crash – or around 3 people a week. That’s a sad statistic for our state. The Drive Sober campaign is also in effect for the remainder of this month in Indiana.

Drunk Driving Safety Tips

  • Plan a safe way home before you start partying.
  • Choose a designated driver, who agrees to stay sober during the evening.
  • If you may be drunk or buzzed, then use the SaferRide app, or otherwise get a ride home (call a taxi, call your mom).
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police. You may save a life.
  • If someone is about to drive away drunk, then stop them. Take their keys. Get them a ride home.
  • Don’t get in a car with someone who may be intoxicated.

2014: SaferRide App

The NHTSA has a free app, SaferRide, that is available online (including Android / Google Play) which allows you to call for a cab or a pal for a ride home that gives them your location automatically. You can get the app here.

 

Wrongful Death and Serious Injuries in Car Crashes From Drunk Driving

Each year, victims die in car crashes that are the result of things like road hazards, driver errors, or product failure (like those ignition failures made the subject of the current GM car recalls). However, the most tragic traffic fatalities are those that could have been easily prevented – like those where drunk driving caused the crash.

Personal injury law does provide ways for those who are victims of drunk driving to seek justice after these tragedies. However, the best justice is to keep these tragedies from happening in the first place. Let’s all do our part to stop drunk driving in our communities.

Phones in The Car: Drivers Distracted Even If Not Using The Phone, Just Able to See It

December 16th, 2014 by admin

In 2012, drivers being distracted by cell phones in their vehicles caused 12% of the deaths in traffic accidents that year. That’s on record. However, it is believed that the reality is much more significant, since many drivers fail to admit they were on the phone at the time of the crash — or they perished in the wreck and are not able to explain what happened.

 

More and more research is being done on the impact of using a phone in the car by drivers.  There are laws being passed regarding talking on the phone while the phone is being held. There are laws being passed in some states regarding hands-free (speaker) phone communications by drivers.  Texting while driving is considered even more dangerous than talking while driving and many laws are in effect to ban this practice.

However, a new study from the University of Southern Maine takes things one step further and makes the dangers of accidents caused by phones even more scary. According to the research, many drivers are distracted and more likely to cause an accident if they have their phone with them in the car, even if they are not texting or talking on it.

According to the researchers, cell phones nearby, where you can see it, is enough to distract you from driving as well as all other sorts of tasks — like doing work or studying. The result? Apparently, people are so connected to their phones that part of their brains are continually aware of the gizmo even they are not actively using it at the time.

Bottom line: Drivers in Indiana and Illinois who are using their cell phones are more likely to be in a crash not just when they are talking or texting, but apparently they are also a bigger danger for all of us on the roads with them if they toss their phone on the seat next to them, or on the dashboard, and can simply SEE the phone there in the car with them.

It becomes even more important for police reports and accident scene investigations to notice and note where the location of cell phones are in accidents now. Distracted driving may or may not involve a crime, but it is an element of proving fault in a car accident where injury damages are being claimed.

Is Your Minivan Safe? Warning as New Crash Tests Study Released

December 11th, 2014 by admin

If you drive a minivan or know someone who does, then you need to read the results from the latest research study by the Institute for Highway Safety. There are some scary results here for some very popular minivans out on Illinois and Indiana roads — including three that are considered to be very unsafe.

How bad? According to the researchers, “some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash.”

Who did the research?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent non-profit organization that studies motor vehicle accidents in the United States and tries to find ways to make driving in America safer. True, the IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies — but their profit concerns are all about making cars safer so they don’t have to pay as much in claims. Even if we take the IIHS study with a grain, it’s important to consider their findings. So here goes:

You can read their full report here.

Chrysler Town and Country (2008-15), Dodge Caravan (2008-15), Volkswagen Routan (2009-12), and Nissan Quest (2001-2015)

Four minivans (Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Volkswagen Routan, and Nissan Quest ) were tested for what happens when they were in a crash with another vehicle (or a tree, or a utility pole) as the minivan is going 40 MPH. Each of these minivans “collapsed” in the crash.

Here’s a scary result: the crash test dummy’s head fell from the air bag and hit the dashboard in the Town and Country test.

The worst was the Nissan Quest. From the IIHS release:

The structure was pushed in nearly 2 feet at the lower hinge pillar, and the parking brake pedal moved 16 inches toward the driver. The dummy’s left leg was trapped between the seat and instrument panel, and its right foot was caught between the brake pedal and toe pan. Following the tests, technicians had to cut the entire seat out and then use a crowbar to free the right foot. ….The forces measured all along the dummy’s left leg, from the thigh to the foot, were very high, in some cases exceeding the limits of the sensors. ” ’A real person experiencing this would be lucky to ever walk normally again,” Zuby points out. A broken right femur also would be possible.…’”

Toyota Sienna (2015)

The Toyota minivan (Sienna) was “weak” but the crash test dummy survived the impact so the Toyota Sienna got a rating of “acceptable.” That is the 2nd highest rating. Sorta like a “B” on the report card.

Honda Odyssey – Only Minivan With Highest Safety Rating

Only one minivan — the Honda Odyssey — got the highest safety rating from IIHS in these safety tests. The minivan did suffer damage, but the crash test dummy was protected during the impact. Result: the rating of “good.”

Minivans Sold To Families: Shouldn’t They Be Safer?

In the United States, the minivan is synonymous with the American Family. It’s what mothers use to take the kids to soccer practice. It’s what dads drive when the family goes to the movies on Friday night. Sports gear gets thrown in the back of the minivan; most every minivan you’ll see on the roads will have at least one infant car seat in the back.

Parents buy minivans because they are convenient — but they also drive minivans because they believe these vehicles to be safer for their families than many sedans or SUVs. It’s shocking to learn that these vehicles aren’t passing basic safety testing at a 40 MPH rate. What happens when the minivan is in a collision on the freeway, where interstate speed limits are much higher?

When someone suffers an injury or tragic death in a minivan accident, they need to be aware that not only are there possible claims to be pursued against the driver who was negligent and at fault in the wreck but there are also potential “products liability” claims to consider regarding the design and manufacturer of the vehicle itself. Expect to see lawsuits advancing where victims of minivan accidents rely upon this study and others in their injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims.

Drive Safely This Thanksgiving Holiday: Tips to Keep Your Family From Danger as You Travel

November 25th, 2014 by admin

This week, despite the cold, stormy weather expected all around the nation, lots of families in Indiana and Illinois will be bundling up the kids and packing up the vehicles to drive across town, or across the state or country, to spend Thanksgiving this Thursday with loved ones. Sadly, for some folk in the United States, there will be the unexpected tragedy of traffic accidents and serious injuries resulting from car accidents on the roads — it’s a statistical reality.

For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2012, there were 416 deaths in traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of these fatalities were attributed to failure to use seat belts (60% of passenger car and light truck occupants) and surprising to no one, drunk driving caused many of this holiday statistics (42%).

 

 

 

Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling this Thanksgiving Holiday

Here are several things that we all can do for ourselves and our families to keep everyone safe from harm and free to enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend:

1. Wear Your Seat Belts

Everyone in the vehicle should be buckled up; this is especially true for the children.

2. Kids Under 13 Years Old Not in Front Seat

Keep smaller children in the back seat, where they are safer in the event of a crash.

3. Don’t Use Your Phone While Driving

Distracted driving (text, handheld, hands-free) can cause crashes even in the best weather conditions. Put your phone in the glove box if it helps keep you away from the temptation to text or talk.

4. Get Your Car Checked Before You Head Out

Make sure that your car is in good working order before you start your trip. Are your tires properly inflated? Are they still within the age limits of the car maker’s recommendations (old tires can kill). Do you have any car recall issues?

5. Prepare for Bad Weather

Know your route and the weather forecasts. If you are going to be driving through road hazards like snow or rain or sleet, then give yourself extra time to get there. Have emergency items ready if needed: things like flares and flashlights, snacks, water, and blankets are vital if you are stuck or stranded on the road.

Fatigued, Tired Drivers Said to Cause 20% of All U.S. Traffic Deaths: Drowsy Drivers at Fault?

November 6th, 2014 by admin

A new study has been released by “Triple A,” or the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, regarding traffic accidents and this study finds that 21% of deaths in car crashes are due to drivers who are tired or sleepy and operating a vehicle. That’s a lot of people driving with fatigue.

The AAA study is also reporting a higher number for fatigue driving risk that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its monitoring of the problem. This new study suggests that drivers on the road who are too sleepy to be driving is a much bigger problem that many may have perceived to be the case until now.

From AAA:

According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one-in-five (21 percent) fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. These results help confirm what safety experts have long suspected: the prevalence of drowsy driving is much greater than official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) currently indicate. As daylight saving time ends and evening commutes darken, AAA urges drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy during this holiday season.

“This new research further confirms that drowsy driving is a serious traffic safety problem,” warned Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.”

It’s Hard to Determine if Fatal Crash Caused by Fatigue

Meanwhile, the National Sleep Council points out that it is not easy to determine after the fact whether or not a driver in a fatal collision was driving drowsy at the time of the accident. Investigators of crash sites can’t easily calculate how alert (or not) a driver when the crash happened. There are ways, however, to find out if a driver actually fell asleep at the wheel, such as (1) one-car accidents and (2) the absence of skid marks.

Signs of a Fatigued, Drowsy Driver

From AAA, here are some signs that a driver may be driving dangerously because they are really tired and need some rest:

  • The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
  • Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
  • Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
  • Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
  • Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
  • Yawning repeatedly;
  • Accidentally tailgating other vehicles;
  • Missing traffic signs.

Accident Crash Claims and Fault of the Driver

When an accident happens and an insurance company is being asked to pay large sums of money in damages to an accident victim, rest assured that these insurance companies are going to be looking long and hard on studies like these to try and limit their liability through the legal element of “fault” in a negligence case.

If a driver can be shown to have driven when they were too fatigued to operate a vehicle, or if they can be shown to have been distracted at the time of the crash as another example, then the defendant can argue the “proximate cause” of the crash was the driver’s irresponsibility at the time of the crash.

Distracted Driving Status Report Released: Dangers Abound from Driver Distractions

November 4th, 2014 by admin

From Itasca, Illinois, the National Safety Council released its take on a new Status Report that has been published by the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently. In it, the Insurance Institute took distracted driving data from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and analyzed it in tandem with traffic accident data reported to U.S. insurance companies alongside the various state laws that ban different types of distracted driving (texting while driving, chatting on phone while driving, etc.).

The NSC is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and reporting on safety issues and it’s been around since 1913. The IIHS was created by the three biggest car insurance companies back in 1959, and ten years later became an independent research organization.

Read the IIHS Status Report here.

NSC on Latest Distracted Driving Report: What About Risks of Hands-Free?

It comes as no surprise that the National Safety Council supports making all kinds of distracted driving from the use of smartphones or other electronic devices illegal. As the NSC opines, “… it’s abundantly clear that using an electronic device while driving makes you four times as likely to crash, handheld or hands-free.”

Of particularly interest is the NSC taking to task the IIHS for not recognizing that hands-free cellphone use can be just as distracting and dangerous as talking on the phone while holding the phone in your hand. From the NSC analysis:

The report also queries why insurance claims haven’t decreased when handheld cell phone use has declined. While the enforcement of handheld laws does seem to be reducing handheld device use, IIHS acknowledges that drivers could be switching to hands-free. Therefore, we would not expect to see much reduction in claims because studies have shown that hands-free is not risk-free.

Underreporting of Cell Phone Distractions Means Numbers are Low

Both the NSC and the IIHS point out that the Status Report’s findings are limited by a lack of complete information regarding how many accidents and crashes are caused by cell phones. Unreporting is a big problem here, and the real dangers of distracted driving are assumed to be bigger than the numbers show.

The NSC ballparks that 26% of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted drivers on their phones.

Everyone Agrees that Distracted Driving in Other Forms Needs to Be Considered, Too

Both the NSC and the IIHS agree wholeheartedly on one thing: it’s not just cell phones that are distracting drivers on American roads and causing wrecks. Accidents can also be caused by drivers who are distracted by all sorts of things: dealing with music selections; eating food while they drive; putting on make-up; checking the navigation system; etc.

From the CDC:

Nine people die every day in our country from distracted driving and around another 1150 are injured daily. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines three types of distracted driving:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Obviously, it’s not just using a cellphone that can cause any of these three kinds of driving distractions. However, the real danger of using a cellphone, handheld or hands’ free, in a car is that the conversation can cause all three of these kinds of distractions to occur at the same time.

Bottom line: Just don’t use your phone while you are driving. It’s safer that way. And if you are in a crash, then the fact that the other driver was talking on their phone at the time of the accident, even hands free, can be of major importance as you pursue justice for your injuries.

Halloween 2014 Safety Tips: Keeping Your Kids Safe This Holloween

October 28th, 2014 by admin

Halloween is on Friday this year, which is great for everyone who wants to have a fun Hallow’s Eve and then not have to get up early to go to work or school the next morning. Most folk here in Indiana and Illinois are already in full preparation, with candy purchased and costumes planned if not yet purchased or made.

For safety reasons, many communities in our neck of the woods have established “Trick or Treat” hours set up, too. Families need to check for their neighborhood’s specific trick-or-treating schedule, and for those traveling to other places during the night, then recognize that each community’s hours are not exactly the same.

2014 Halloween Trick or Treat Hours for Northwest Indiana

This year, for Northwest Indiana, the Halloween Tricker Treater hours are set as follows:

Gary – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Burns Harbor – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Cedar Lake – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Crown Point – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Dyer – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Griffith – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Hammond – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Hebron – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Hobart – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Highland – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Lake Station – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Lakes of the Four Seasons – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Long Beach – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Lowell – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Kouts – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Michigan City – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Merrillville – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Munster – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Porter – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Schererville – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
St. John – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Trail Creek – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Wanatah – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Whiting – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Winfield – 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Chesterton – 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Ogden Dunes – 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Portage – 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Valparaiso – 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
La Porte – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Westville – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Safety Tips from Indiana State Police for a Happy Holloween

The Indiana State Police have issued the following safety tips for this year’s Holloween, as well. These include:

Costume Tips

•Keep costumes short to prevent trips and falls.
•Try make-up instead of a mask. Masks often obstruct a child’s vision, which makes tasks like crossing the street and going up and down stairs dangerous.
•Make sure children wear light colors or put reflective tape on their costumes.

Trick or Treating

•Make sure older children trick-or-treat with friends. Together, map out a safe route so parents know where they will be.
•Instruct children to stop only at familiar homes where the outside lights are on.
•Encourage children to trick-or-treat while it’s still light out. If children are out after dark, make sure they have flashlights and travel on well lighted streets.
•Remind children not to enter the homes or cars of strangers.
•Follow your communities trick-or-treating hours.

Treats

•Remind children not to eat any of their treats until they get home.
•Check out all treats at home in a well-lighted place.
•Only eat unopened candies and other treats that are in original wrappers. Remember to inspect fruits for anything suspicious.

Options to Walking the Streets

Additionally, many communities, schools and churches offer children safe alternatives to trick-or-treating designed to keep children safely within parents’ view. Some hospitals and schools allow children to trick-or-treat by going from room to room virtually eliminating the dangers associated with being out walking on the street after dark.

Drivers Need to Be Cautious on Friday

Motorists are reminded that they should also do their part in making Halloween safe for children. Make sure to drive cautiously including driving below the posted speed limit while in town during trick or treat hours.

Avoid talking on a cell phone or other distracting activities. Remember, excited children may dart out into traffic at any time without warning. Drive with your headlights on even during the daylight trick or treat hours so your vehicle is more visible to children.

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Everyone here at Kenneth J. Allen Law Group wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween this year, of course. However, if you are injured or hurt on Halloween, then please note to keep a record of what happened as well as a list of names of potential witnesses; call the police for a written police report so you have their help and documentation; and remember that getting medical care and attention is of paramount importance and it’s wise to err on the side of caution.  Be careful out there!

CDC’s New Car Accidents Report Includes Suggestions for New State Laws

October 23rd, 2014 by admin

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have just released a new report as part of the CDC’s Vital Signs monthly series regarding motor vehicle accidents in the United States, and the report may be shocking to lots of people. Not only are there a lot of car crashes (along with SUV accidents, and wrecks involving trucks, vans, etc.) in our country, but they cost Americans a tremendous amount in both time and money (not to mention heartache, frustration, pain, and other emotions that were not included in this report).

The numbers are big.

However, also included within this report are some suggestions for new laws to be passed that the CDC suggests will bring these numbers down and decrease the number of traffic accidents in this country: thing is, some of their suggestions may be shocking to some folk. For instance, the CDC would like laws to be passed in every state that requires anyone convicted of any driving under the influence charge (even a first offense) to be required to have ignition interlocks on their vehicles.

What will be the result of the CDC’s suggestions in Indiana, Illinois, or the rest of the country? Time will tell.

However, the real question: if these changes were made, then how much would these accident figures go down?

CDC Report: Costly But Preventable

Read the report, “Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries – Costly but Preventable/October 2014” here.

Among its findings:

  • In the United States, people who are injured in a motor vehicle accident spend a total of ONE MILLION DAYS in a hospital for needed treatment.
  • Over 2,500,000 accident victims had to seek help in an emergency room after being in a crash in 2012.
  • Over their lifetimes, the total financial expense for treating and helping accident victims recover from their injuries totals $18 Billion.
  • In 2012 alone, lost wages and lost earnings for these accident victims totalled around $33 Billion.
  • Those Americans between 15 and 29 years old are at the high risk of being in a car crash where they will need hospital care.
  • Americans over 80 years of age are at the highest risk of needing hospitalization after a traffic accident: 30% of these folk need to go to the hospital after an accident.

From the CDC:

“In 2012, nearly 7,000 people went to the emergency department every day due to car crash injuries,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all too frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society. We need to do more to keep people safe and reduce crash injuries and medical costs.”

Fighting To Stop People Being Hurt in Traffic Accidents

There are all sorts of ways to fight against people being hurt in motor vehicle accidents. Things like seat belts and air bags are just two examples of things that have proven successful in keeping people from being seriously injured or killed in a car crash.

CDC Suggestions for New State Laws

However, much more can be done. No state has the exact same laws in effect regarding traffic safety, for one thing. Easy example: compare the motorcycle helmet laws of Indiana and Illinois with states like California, where safety laws are much more strict.

“Motor vehicle crashes and related injuries are preventable,” said Gwen Bergen, PhD, MPH, MS, behavioral scientist in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Although much has been done to help keep people safe on the road, no state has fully implemented all the interventions proven to increase the use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts; reduce drinking and driving; and improve teen driver safety.”

In the aftermath of its latest research findings, the CDC is encouraging all states to regulate citizens in the following ways:

  1. Increasing seat belt use through primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover everyone in the car.
  2. Improving child passenger safety with restraint laws that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under or until 57 inches tall, the recommended height for proper seat belt fit.
  3. Reducing drinking and driving by using sobriety checkpoints and requiring ignition interlock use for people convicted of drinking and driving, starting with their first conviction.
  4. Improving teen driver safety through the use of comprehensive graduated driver licensing systems.
  5. Supporting traffic safety laws with media campaigns and visible police presence, such as sobriety checkpoints.
  6. Linking medical and crash data to better understand why crashes happen, the economic cost of those crashes, and how to prevent future crashes.

To help state legislatures make these decisions, the CDC has published its online Motor Vehicle PICCS (Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States).

According to the CDC, this online app should help the states tally an estimate for the costs of each suggested implementation and compare that cost against an estimate of lives saved as well as a estimate of the number of injuries that would be prevented with the implementation in that state.

 

Old Tires Can Cause Serious Accidents and Even Death

October 14th, 2014 by admin

Most people know to check their tires for tread wear and cracks or slow leaks. It’s risky to drive on bald tires, you can blow out while driving at high speeds and crash. However, many people are not aware that tires age, and even if you don’t drive your car that often and the tires look great tread-wise, they still may be dangerous to have on your vehicle.

In fact, news reports are that the one-car crash that killed actor Paul Walker of “Fast and Furious” fame was caused, at least in part, by the aging tires on the Porsche Carrera that crashed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the California Highway Patrol found that the fact that the Porsche’s aging tires may have contributed to the crash by lessening the drivability of the car, especially at high speeds, as well as the ability of the driver to handle the sports car on the road.

 

Tires Age Over Time

The truth about tires is that they are made of rubber, and just like rubber bands, the rubber will age and deteriorate. Even if the tires set in a warehouse and never get put on a vehicle, after so many years they will be useless.

If your car has old tires, then you may be driving with a dangerous condition. The same is true for other vehicles on the road: that big rig or semi truck driving on the Interstate next to you may be a moving safety hazard if those tires are old on that huge truck.

Tires that are sold with higher mileage ratings may age slower than tires with lower mileage because the more expensive tires will have chemicals added to them that slows the rubber’s deterioration and gives the higher mileage tires more time on the road before they age out.

However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is no set standard for when tires need to be retired from use for being too old. You cannot find a table on the internet, for instance, that will list when specific makes and models of tires are too old to have on your car.

Weather Conditions and Aging of Tires

It is known that tires exposed to hotter climates will age faster. For those who drive vehicles in the southern United States, their tires will age faster than those driven in our part of the country, for instance.

Why? The heat will accelerate the deterioration of the tire. This is true even if the tire is your spare, setting unused in the trunk of your car or hoisted onto the back of your SUV.

Car Manufacturer Recommendations

Car makers include recommendations for the time to replace tires in their owner manuals. For example, Ford Motor Company has a 6-year tire replacement recommendation, regardless of tread wear, for its cars. From the Ford website:

Age

If a tire is more than 6 years old, it is generally in need of replacement. Tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used. Heat caused by hot climates or frequent high loading conditions can accelerate the aging process. You should replace the spare tire when you replace the other road tires due to the aging of the spare tire.

Replacing Your Tires

Only use replacement tires and wheels that are the same size and type (such as P-metric versus LT-metric or all-season versus all-terrain) as those originally provided. Use of any tire or wheel not recommended by Ford can affect the safety and performance of your vehicle, which could result in an increased risk of loss of vehicle control, vehicle rollover, personal injury and death. Additionally, the use of non-recommended tires and wheels could cause steering, suspension, axle or transfer case/power transfer unit failure.

It is recommended that the two front tires or two rear tires generally be replaced as a pair.

 

 

Tracy Morgan v Walmart: Lesson in How Injury Victims get Victimized in Lawsuits

October 7th, 2014 by admin

This past week, a great example of how personal injury lawsuits progress was provided by beloved American comedian Tracy Morgan, as his accident case against Wal-Mart moves forward.   The case is far from trial and no jury has been picked, but already the defendant is attempting to limit its liability by pursuing defenses against the victim.

Comedian Tracy Morgan (2008)

Image: Alex Erde, Wikimedia Commons

This happens all the time.

The defendant and his insurance carrier have the goal of avoiding any liability for the accident, or finding arguments that their legal responsibility should be far less than 100% liable for the damages that the victim has sustained.

Defendants will urge all sorts of things in the injury lawsuit fight.

There are defenses like the plaintiff filed his claim too late (i.e., failed to meet the deadline set by law in the statute of limitations), or that the plaintiff wasn’t as hurt as he claims to be (e.g., conflicting medical expert testimony).

However, particularly shocking is when the defendant offers a defense that seems so uncaring and callous as an argument that the injury victim is responsible for what has happened to him.

Sadly, this kind of argument happens a lot: slip and fall victims, for instance, will often hear defendants argue that just because they fell, they’ve got to be partially at fault (regardless of how blatant the slippery surface negligence may be).

It’s done for a reason. If the percentage of fault can move from 100% toward the defendant, to even 80% fault on the part of the defendant, then the defendant is looking to find a way to pay less in damages, if any at all. (This will depend upon how “comparative fault” is handled under the law of the state where the accident happened.)

In Tracy Morgan’s situation, reports are that he may never be able to take on a TV role, do a film, or entertain on a stand-up comic stage because of the traumatic brain injuries he suffered in the crash between the Wal-Mart truck and Mr. Morgan’s limo van.

Flying in the face of this news is the defense argument being advanced by Wal-Mart that Mr. Morgan is at fault in the accident because he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Wal-Mart may be posturing for a comparative fault type of defense that is perfectly legal. However, it’s a great lesson to all plaintiffs in accident cases: expect to defend your actions, and in cases where there is media coverage, consider that potential jurors are reading all this and taking note, too.