Archive for April, 2014

What You Need to Know If You Suffer Catastrophic Injury in a Mississippi Motor Vehicle Accident

Monday, April 21st, 2014

When you suffer a catastrophic injury, the impact on your life and the lives of your family can be devastating. When the cause of such an injury is the negligent or intentional actions of an individual, public entity or business, you may need to pursue a personal injury claim for medical bills, cost of supportive and/or rehabilitative care, lost wages, diminished earnings and other financial hardships. These types of injuries derive their name from the dramatic prolonged impact that they have on the individual who is injured. The long-term needs and expense associated with a catastrophic injury far exceed those who suffer less serious injuries.

At the Giddens Law Firm, our Mississippi personal injury attorneys understand the physical, emotional and financial challenges associated with catastrophic injuries. We recognize that the expense associated with these types of injuries makes obtaining full financial recovery from a negligent driver or manufacturer of a defective product critical to maintaining a high quality of life and providing for one’s family. We provide legal representation and facilitate access to supportive and rehabilitative resources for the full range of catastrophic injuries including:

• Severe Burns
• Spinal Cord Injuries
• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
• Neurological Disorders
• Paralysis (paraplegia/quadriplegia)
• Amputations
• Multiple broken bones
• Cerebral Palsy (and other serious birth injuries)

Mississippi lawsuits involving catastrophic injuries pose special issues so representation by a Mississippi catastrophic injury attorney is important. When injury victims suffer this type of injury, they may need ongoing medical and supportive care for years or an entire lifetime. Severe burns may require dozens of surgeries over a number of years, for example, so it can be an advantage to be represented by an attorney familiar with the specific type of injury. If you are represented by a personal injury attorney with experience handling these types of cases, the attorney is in a better position to anticipate future medical and supportive expenses. Future lost compensation from employment also must be calculated and reduced to present value.

These types of cases can also present challenges in terms of the available insurance to satisfy a judgment or settlement. If you are injured in an auto accident, Mississippi law only requires drivers to carry liability coverage in the amount of $25,000 per victim and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. This amount will prove woefully inadequate if you suffer a TBI. Further, many serious car accidents are caused by drunk drivers or other motorists who may have terrible driving records and no insurance. While you may have uninsured motorist coverage (UM), this coverage also will not be sufficient to cover the loss associated with these severe types of debilitating injuries.

We investigate the liability of other parties to identify viable defendants with sufficient insurance coverage to satisfy an appropriate verdict or settlement. When an individual suffers a serious brain injury in a motorcycle crash, we might consider liability of the motorcycle manufacturer for a product defect, a public entity for an unsafe roadway or a bars/restaurant for a drunk driving accident under the Mississippi dram shop law.

If you or someone close to you has suffered a catastrophic injury because of the negligent or intentional conduct of another, this may entitle the injury victim to financial compensation. We invite you to contact our Mississippi personal injury law firm for a free consultation with a Jackson personal injury attorney. We invite you to call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help!

Mississippi Truck Accident Lawyers Discuss Unique Challenges in Pursuing Tractor-Trailer Accident Claims

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

While all motor vehicle accidents can result in drivers and passengers experiencing devastating permanent injuries, trucking accidents present a disproportionate risk of serious injury, as well as unique challenges in seeking compensation.  Because tractor-trailers can outweigh a small economy car by 25 times or more, the basic principles of physics dictate that such collisions are especially dangerous for occupants of a small passenger car.  When large tractor-trailers are involved in fatal trucking accidents, the person who dies is an occupant of the other vehicle in over three out of four fatal collisions according to data from the federal government.  Further, large trucks account for only five percent of registered vehicles, but they are involved in 11 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Extensive Knowledge of Trucking Regulation and Industry Practices

Because semi-truck crashes pose an increased risk of permanent debilitating injuries and fatalities, the trucking industry is subject to a complex matrix of federal and state regulations designed to promote highway safety.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary entity responsible for enacting federal regulations that govern interstate trucking, which involves commercial drivers that operate in multiple states.  Trucking companies and drivers that operate exclusively within Mississippi are primarily regulated by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).  This extensive regulatory scheme is designed to mitigate the increased danger posed by big-rigs by establishing safety rules regarding matters like:

  • Pre-employment screening and hiring standards
  • Inspection and maintenance of tractor-trailers
  • Hours of service (HOS) rules to keep fatigued truck drivers off the road
  • Pre-employment and random screening for drugs and alcohol
  • Maximum length and weight requirements
  • Proper securing of loads
  • Medical fitness of commercial drivers
  • Recordkeeping requirements to verify compliance (i.e. driver logbooks)

Many trucking accidents in Jackson and throughout Mississippi are the result of truck drivers who violate these safety regulations with the tacit or express approval of the trucking company.  When drivers use methamphetamines to drive longer shifts and disregard HOS rules, both the truck driver and trucking company can benefit from increase profits.  Effective litigation of Mississippi trucking cases requires extensive knowledge of trucking regulations and industry practices because many cases turn on non-compliance with these types of safety regulations.

Preservation and Gathering of Evidence in Mississippi Trucking Lawsuits

Trucking litigation is also complicated because commercial carriers and truck drivers have no real incentive to preserve evidence that can be used to establish liability.  Trucking companies often employ rapid response teams that can be dispatched to the scene of a tractor-trailer crash almost immediately.  These trucking experts begin an immediate investigation so that they can develop a strategy for minimizing or evading liability.

A successful Mississippi trucking accident lawsuit typically is contingent on promptly contacting experienced trucking accident lawyers.  Our Jackson tractor-trailer accident lawyers promptly send written notice to the trucking company indicating that the semi-truck and data contained in the rig’s black box is the subject of litigation so it must not be destroyed or altered.  When a truck is quickly repaired and placed back into service, this can undermine the efforts of accident reconstruction experts because the vehicle damage cannot be examined.  When the rig is rapidly deployed back into service, this also can result in the black box data being erased.  Because logbooks are routinely fabricated or manipulated to conceal non-compliance, black box data can be critical in exposing safety violation and establishing the cause of a trucking accident.

Our Jackson truck accident attorneys also engage in extensive discovery of other records that might reveal negligence by the commercial carrier or driver.  Some of the documents and information we might seek in discovery include:

  • Driver’s personnel file
  • Carrier’s hiring procedures and criteria
  • Maintenance and inspection records
  • Driver lodging and fuel receipts
  • Documents related to prior violation of safety regulations

The bottom line is that trucking litigation is complicated, so you should schedule a consultation with an experienced trucking accident law firm promptly so that you can explore your rights and remedies.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a Mississippi tractor-trailer accident or a loved one dies in a semi-truck collision, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss.   We invite you to contact our Jackson trucking accident law firm for a free consultation with a Mississippi semi-truck accident attorney.  We invite you to call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help!

Mississippi Car Accident Attorneys Discuss Why Text Messaging Is Still a Common Cause of Collisions

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Despite the enormous efforts to raise public awareness regarding the dangers of texting and driving, drivers distracted by their cell phone while reading or sending a text continue to be a significant cause of catastrophic injury and wrongful death.  At any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are distracted by electronic devices or cell phones according to the federal government’s distracted driving website.  These distracted drivers cause approximately 3,328 car accident-related fatalities and injure another 421,000 people annually.  While anti-texting laws, increased enforcement and public awareness campaigns may have made roadways safer, texting and driving remains a serious cause of car accidents.

Attitudes Regarding Distracted Driving

Many drivers who emphatically reject drunk driving as an unacceptable practice might not view distracted driving as equally dangerous.  Although these two forms of unsafe driving may not be perceived as comparable risks, there is evidence that distracted driving might be even more dangerous than committing DUI.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The recent case reported widely in the media that involved a distracted driver running down a bicyclist provides an extreme example.  According to the Huffington Post, the bicyclist struck by the texting driver suffered a fractured spine necessitating a three month hospital stay.

The driver reportedly told the police several days after the accident, “I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit, and my car is, like, pretty expensive, and now I have to fix it.  I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist hit the side of my car.  I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist.  I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.”

Despite indicating she was not using her phone, the driver had used her phone 44 times before slamming into the bicyclist according to reports.  After she hit the victim she parked 300 feet away and refused to render assistance.  While this driver, who was later pleaded guilty to criminal charges, is not a Mississippi driver (thank goodness), her cavalier attitude is an over the top example of the way some people view the risk associated with distracted driving.

Ineffective Distracted Driving Laws

Many laws banning cell phone use while driving have enormous gaps or present enforcement challenges.  Mississippi’s cell phone law provides an example of a law that has limited effectiveness.  Mississippi texting and driving laws only apply to school bus drivers and novice drivers with a learner’s permit or provisional license.  This means that drivers can use their cell phone for handheld calls, text messaging and any other activity while driving a motor vehicle.  Because Mississippi is one of the few states that does not ban text messaging for all driver, drivers who see no particular danger in this type of high risk driving conduct endanger others on the road.

Even in other states where texting laws prohibit all drivers from text messaging while driving, the laws often provide limited effectiveness because they can be difficult for law enforcement officers to enforce.  Police may have difficulty in determining that a driver is texting rather than using a cell phone for some other permitted purpose.  Another reason for the ineffectiveness of many anti-texting laws is that a violation usually only results in a nominal fine rather than the types of severe penalties imposed for drunk driving.

Although Mississippi legislators have not chosen to ban text messaging while driving, the danger associated with this unsafe driving practices can hardly be overstated.  Studies have revealed that the time a driver needs to avert his or her eyes to engage in reading or sending a text message is comparable to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph hour while blindfolded.  The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has conducted research indicating that the risk of being involved in a crash or near-crash is twenty times greater when texting and driving than when not using a cell phone.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or a loved one dies because of a collision caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss.   We invite you to contact our auto accident injury law firm for a free consultation with a Jackson, Mississippi car accident attorney. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help.

Mississippi Ignition Switch GM Chevrolet Cobalt Recall, Pontiac G5, Solstice, Saturn Ion, Sky Recall

Friday, April 4th, 2014

News sources are reporting that an investigation has been started by the United States Legislature into if something should have been done sooner about General Motors (GM) vehicles with bad ignition switches which have resulted in several deaths.

GM has issues a recall pulling back those vehicles that have been implicated in these fatal crashes.  The vehicles involved in this recall are Chevrolet Cobalts, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevrolet HHR SUV, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky with year models between 2005 and 2011.

GM has set up a website to direct the recall process stating:

There is a risk, under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. This risk increases if your key ring is carrying added weight (such as more keys or the key fob) or your vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events. If the ignition switch is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.

The GM website does however say that it is best to remove everything from you key ring except for your vehicle’s car key to minimize risk in these vehicles.

The issues with the cars involve failure of air bags in serious crashes where the bags should have definitely deployed. We are certain that these vehicles are still on the road in Mississippi and encourage anyone with these cars to respond immediately to the recall before anyone else is hurt.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Chevrolet Cobalts, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevrolet HHR SUV, Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky please contact our firm for a Free, no-obligation consultation with a Jackson, Mississippi attorney. Call us at 601-355-2022

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Jackson Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Discusses Risks Associated with Growing Popularity of Novelty Helmets

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

If you ride motorcycles in Jackson and the surrounding areas of Mississippi, you are well aware that many drivers fail to pay attention to the presence of motorcycle riders.  Because motorcycles are smaller than four wheeled vehicles, drivers of passenger vehicles frequently fail to notice or account for the possible presence of a motorcycle when executing a lane change or turn.  When riding a motorcycle, riders have a smaller margin of error and virtually no protection during a crash.  Head injuries are the most common form of catastrophic injury suffered by riders and also the leading cause of motorcycle fatalities.  While motorcycle helmets can substantially improve a rider’s prospects of surviving a motorcycle accident without serious head trauma, many riders are left largely unprotected because they wear novelty helmets that are designed for style rather than safety.

Mississippi’s Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law Is Designed to Protect All Riders

Mississippi has had a universal motorcycle helmet law that applies to all riders and passengers for over four decades.  While many states have enacted partial repeals of mandatory helmet laws based on the age of the rider, minimum medical insurance coverage or other conditions, our state continues to require all riders to wear helmet.  Although many riders reject the notion that the government should dictate helmet use, there is little dispute that motorcycle helmets that meet certain standards can substantially improve the survival rate for victims of motorcycle crashes.

Helmets Can Save Lives of Mississippi Motorcycle Accident Victims

A few statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide a compelling case for the value of motorcycle helmets that meet minimum safety standards:

  • Motorcyclists are thirty times more likely to die in a traffic accident than occupants of passenger cars based on a per mile traveled basis.
  • Motorcycle accidents account for approximately 14 percent of motor vehicle fatalities despite the fact that the vehicles constitute only three percent of licensed vehicles.
  • Motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities.
  • Helmets saved the lives of 1,600 people nationally during a one year period, but it is estimated they would have saved an additional 700 lives if all riders had been wearing helmets.

Novelty Helmets: Style Over Substance

While these statistics make a compelling case for wearing a motorcycle helmet, these benefits are only fully realized if the rider is wearing a helmet that meets federal safety requirements.  Many novelty helmets offer little or no protection during a motorcycle crash.  These helmets often provide virtually no impact-attenuating lining nor do they meet minimum penetration standards.  There also is no assurance that the helmet will remain strapped on a rider’s head during a motorcycle crash.

Generally, motorcycle riders should look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker on a helmet to ensure the helmet complies with minimum safety standards.  However, the sticker alone is not sufficient to ensure that a helmet complies with DOT standards because fake stickers are frequently affixed to counterfeit helmets.  The NHTSA has provided a checklist for riders attempting to evaluate whether a helmet meets federal safety standards:

  • Minimum one inch thick liner of polystyrene foam
  • Weight should be about three pounds (one pound or less is definitely unsafe)
  • Nothing should extend more than two tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet
  • Sturdy rivets and chin strap
  • DOT sticker indicating that the helmet meets or exceeds FMVSS 218
  • Manufacturer label sticker

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Mississippi motorcycle accident or a loved one dies in a Jackson motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss.   We invite you to contact our Mississippi motorcycle accident attorneys for a free consultation.  We invite you to call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help!