New Oregon PIP Insurance Changes Benefit The Injured Victim

Late last year, Oregon legislature passed a bill to drastically alter and improve Oregon Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which went into effect January 1, 2016. There are two main changes we will see take place; a Portland accident attorney Travis Mayor claims the Oregon PIP insurance changes are significant for personal injury cases for various reasons. Because, not all damages for medical bills and lost income have been incurred within the current defined time limits, extending the time of the Oregon PIP insurance benefits up to 24 months after the accident and delaying insurance company reimbursements will allow drivers to recover proper resources from serious accidents in Oregon.

What Exactly are the Oregon PIP Insurance Changes?

Before this bill, if you were in a serious accident in Oregon, an insurance company is dubbed first in line to be reimbursed, before non-economic damages are paid, which reduces the amount of money for the injured victim drastically. With the new Oregon PIP insurance changes, PIP carriers are now reprioritized; the PIP Make Whole rule policy will require that the insurance company be paid on the victim’s behalf after all economic and noneconomic damages have been defined and paid. Ultimately, an injured victim will only reimburse the PIP carrier if the recovery amount exceeds both economic and noneconomic damages. The goal with this is to change in priority from the insurance company to the injured victim.
Secondly, changes in the Oregon PIP insurance extends medical coverage expenses from 12 months to 24 months after an accident. After a minor motor vehicle accident in Portland and throughout Oregon, a 12 month medical coverage period is generally a sufficient amount of time for an injured victim to be covered. However, catastrophic events that result in devastating injuries, like TBI or spinal cord injuries, have a much longer recovery processes. Medical expenses for these accidents can far exceed 12 months, which leaves the payment responsibilities on the injured victim. However, extending the PIP medical payments allows additional time for patients to recover.

What is Next for Oregon Drivers?

Lawmakers are taking the necessary steps to protect drivers in Oregon with Oregon Senate Bill 411, but as a driver, there are a few things to do in order to benefit. While most Oregon PIP carriers say companies will implement these Oregon PIP insurance changes automatically, Travis Mayor, a trusted personal injury attorney in Portland, advises Oregon drivers to reissue or renew their policy immediately because exclusions will remain in the policy until a driver actually renews it. If you were involved in an accident after January 1, 2016, the Oregon PIP insurance changes apply to your case.

Caitlyn Jenner Sued for Negligence by Grammy Nominated Composer

Caitlyn Jenner is being sued for negligence by a family who suffered injuries in the fatal February crash that killed Kim Howe.

Los Angeles personal injury attorneys Panish Shea & Boyle filed suit against Jenner on behalf of grammy nominated Peter Wolf-Millesi, his wife Lea, the couple’s two minor children, and Lea’s mother Elga Maurer.

According to the firm’s site:  On February 7, 2015, Peter Wolf-Millesi was driving a Hummer H2 southbound on Pacific Coast Highway on the way to his eldest son’s tennis tournament. His wife Lea was seated beside him in the passenger seat, while his two sons and mother-in-law rode in the backseat. At the same time, Caitlyn Jenner, driving a Cadillac Escalade and towing a trailer with an all-terrain vehicle on it, was traveling northbound when she rear-ended a Lexus LS 430 driven by Howe. The Lexus was launched into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the Wolf-Millesi’s vehicle. Jenner’s SUV continued forward, rear-ending a Toyota Prius driven by Jessica Steindorff before coming to a stop.

“All of a sudden a car comes into our lane from oncoming traffic and rushes onto our hood. We were shocked and terrified we were all going to die,” says Peter, recalling the crash. “When you’re involved in an accident that claimed the life of someone, you’re just not the same anymore. So many lives have been changed forever,” adds Lea.

In the suit, Peter Wolf-Millesi claims to have suffered sever nerve damage to his wrists and hands and – as a composer – has been unable to work.  Lea has suffered orthopedic trauma to her legs, neck, knees and back and will continue to have pain and physical limitations.   It also indicates that Maurer – Lea’s mother – suffered a C-spine “hangman’s fracture” in her neck.

In the suit, Wolf-Millesi claims he suffered nerve damage to both hands and wrists and has been unable to work. Lea allegedly suffered orthopedic trauma to her legs, neck, back and knees; she continues to have ongoing pain and physical limitations. The suit also states that Maurer suffered a C-spine “hangman’s fracture” in her neck.  A hangman’s fracture occurs when the neck is hyper extended and typically happens in car accidents when a person’s chin is slammed against the steering, dashboard, or windshield.

While investigators found that Jenner was traveling at a speed unsafe for traffic conditions, no vehicular manslaughter charge was filed.

Millions Recovered For Victim of NuC02 Truck Accident

On June 3, 2015, the San Bernardino personal injury attorneys at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, obtained a $17,393,479.87 jury verdict for a young man who suffered severe injuries after being involved in a six-vehicle collision caused by a negligently driven NuCO2 truck.

This is reportedly the highest amount ever awarded by a jury in the North County Division of the San Diego Superior Court.

Russell Sheaffer, who was 24-year old at the time,was driving his Toyota when a 35,000-pound Freightliner truck driven by a NuCO2 employee slammed into a row of five stopped vehicles on Interstate 15.  The truck was traveling at freeway speeds, and Mr. Sheaffer’s stopped car, the third of the five, was hit with so much force that his car propelled into the SUV in front of him.

Mr. Sheaffer sustained facial fractures along his jaw, an imploded sinus and a minor traumatic brain injury.  He underwent two major surgeries, and after a year of doctor’s visits, CT scans and 3-D modeling of Mr. Sheaffer’s jaw revealed a traumatically induced, rapidly progressing, degenerative joint disease of the temporomandibular joints.

Although NcCO2 admitted liability for the accident, it denied that Mr. Sheaffer suffered the long term damages or pain and suffering that he claimed.  The jury chose to awarded Mr. Sheaffer $12,500,000 for past and future pain and suffering, $2,888,373 for past and future medical expenses, and $2,005,107 for past and future loss of earnings.

In 2012 alone, 3,802 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 5% increase from 2011- according to the truck accident attorney team at PS&B.

Missouri Accidents in 2014

Interactive Map of Injury Accidents in Missouri

The map above is a map identifying the most dangerous areas in Missouri where injury accidents have happened so far in 2014. Last year there were over 10,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state with hundreds of fatalities. so hopefully by identifying the most dangerous areas you will be sure to drive more safely in these areas.

The Ultimate Guide To Bicycle Safety

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute states that there are somewhere between 73 and 85 million cyclists in the United States.  In 2006 over 700 people were killed in accidents involving cyclists and motorists.  An estimated 50,000 plus people are seriously injured every year as a result of bicycle accidents every year.  Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in New York.  Commuter cycling has increased by more than 25% between the years 2008 and 2009 and more than doubled since 2005.  It is estimated by the New York City Department of Health that over a half million New Yorkers ride bikes.  This is bike safety is important now more than ever.  It is important for both cyclists and motorists to know the rules of the road and follow the laws and regulations that are here for our protection.  Below is a guide to bike safety that everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or gets on a bike should read and follow, for all of our sake. 

Bicycle Safety Infographic

Texting Behind the Wheel is More Dangerous than Drunk Driving

America’s growing epidemic, distracted driving, is killing people. Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to a study carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Motorists engage in secondary behavior during more than half of their time spent driving – an action that is a factor in more than one million national car crashes and 16% of fatal accidents annually. And texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long-shot. “We have recently seen a large influx of accidents that involve a driver that was distracted by the use of a cell phone” says Las Vegas attorney William Brim. With technology at drivers’ fingertips, drivers are becoming more and more tempted to send and read quick text messages that they, by-and-large, assume to be harmless. The truth is, texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds and increases the chances of a crash by 23 percent. To put that into perspective, if a vehicle is traveling at 55mph, the average driver doesn’t look at the road for about the length of an entire football field while composing and sending a text.

With texting and driving becoming a frighteningly common behavior, various organizations and researchers have been carrying out tests to determine just how dangerous the habit is. Car and Driver Magazine performed an experiment to document those dangers, in comparison with the widely known risky activity of drunk driving. During the experiment, cars were rigged with a red light to alert drivers when to brake. The magazine tested how long it would take to hit the brakes when sober, when legally impaired at a BAC level of .08, when reading an e-mail and when sending a text. Sober, focused drivers took an average of 0.54 seconds to brake. For legally drunk drivers four feet needed to be added. An additional 36 feet was necessary for reading an e-mail, and a whopping additional 70 feet was needed to send a text.

In a different experiment reported in the journal of Traffic Injury Prevention, participants either used a cell phone while driving or consumed alcohol beforehand. It should be noted that habitual drinkers and people who had never consumed alcohol before were not allowed to participate in the experiment. In the driving simulation, drivers were asked to stay in the center or left lane and maintain a speed of 37-50mph. Scientists found that when the participants texted with their phones they drove with a comparable BAC of 1.0.

Another test conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory in London found that drivers who texted had slower response times, were more likely to drift in and out of lanes and even drove worse than drivers who were high on marijuana. The study found that reaction times for texting drivers were 35% worse than those of drivers with no distractions.

Ten states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones, 32 states and D.C. forbid novice from using cell phones and 39 states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from texting.

Making Sure Your Teen is Safe Behind the Wheel

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities and causes more injuries and deaths than anything else in the United States. Driving is very dangerous even for experienced, seasoned drivers. Bradley Parker of a Dallas accident law firm states that “The staggering facts are that over 100 people die every single day due to vehicle accidents in the United States.” For teenagers who are new to driving, it’s even far more dangerous, both for themselves and others on the road. The main reason for teenagers’ poor safety record is their lack of experience. New drivers do not know how to properly handle their car while recognizing and reacting appropriately to hazardous situations like driving in poor weather conditions.

The only way parents of teenagers can make sure their children are prepared to face the dangers of driving is to take proper steps in teaching them how to safely operate an automobile. Here are some good guidelines and instructions, parents or guardians, can teach their children to keep them safe on the road.

1. Necessitate your new teen driver to take a safety course before getting behind the wheel. These days, passing your driver’s license test basically consists of successfully making left and right turns at low rates of speed, stopping at intersections controlled by stoplights, and parking the car. If parents really want to give their teenage driver a fighting chance on the roads today they should sign them up for a safety class or two.

2. Make certain the car your teen will be driving is safe and roadworthy. In a lot of cases a teenager’s first car is a hand-me-down. Make sure that this used car your child will be driving has working breaks, four new tires and is properly aligned.

3. Make sure that your teen makes some type of meaningful financial contribution to their driving privilege. Teenagers are more likely to take better care of their cars and in turn drive more carefully when they have spent a substantial amount of their own money.

4. Before allowing your teen to drive, make sure they show that they can handle frustration without losing his or her temper. Teenagers that lose their tempers easily are much more likely to lose it behind the wheel and feel the negative effects of “road rage”, which is never safe.

5. Set a good example for your teenager. As a parent you are one of the most powerful role models for your children. No speeding, no drinking and driving, no texting while driving, no weaving in and out of traffic, and always wear your seat belt.

6. Give your teenager extra practice behind the wheel. Many schools across the U.S. are putting an end to driver’s education classes and programs because of budget cuts. The driver’s-ed classes that are still implemented typically only provide a total of six hours on-the-road training when the number that is necessary to become realistically capable is closer to fifty hours.

Will Increase in Traffic Fatalities Increase Insurance Rates?

This is the first time in the past seven years that more people died in the United States in automobile accidents then the year before.  Before 2012 the last seven years in the United States witnessed a decrease in auto accident fatalities every year.  This surge of road deaths comes during increased awareness of distracted driving and could and most likely will affect auto insurance rates if this increase in deaths is sustained.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that traffic fatalities in the United States increased by 5.3 percent in 2012.  The NHTSA states that 30,080 people died on the roadways in the U.S. during 2012, reaching the highest death toll since 2008 when the U.S. had 8 million fewer people than in 2012.  It is believed that this rise in traffic deaths is result of the upsurge of distracted driving and driving associated with the improving economy.

Many people in the insurance industry believe there is no way insurance rates will not be affected as traffic fatalities increase.  The chief actuary at West Des Moines-based GuideOne Insurance, Gilbert Korthals, stated “if we begin to see a trend where traffic fatalities are increasing year after year, this is most likely trigger rates increasing”.

Even though the NHTSA’s report did not attempt to identify the cause of this increase in traffic deaths, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has publicly stressed the hazards of distracted driving and its effect on accident fatalities.  A different National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report was released a month ago estimating that more than 600,000 drivers in the U.S. are instantaneously using their cellphones or operating some form of electronic device while driving at any given time during the day.  This report also states that over 3,300 people died and 387,000 injured in 2011 as a result of distracted driving.

Seven of the nine geographic regions in the U.S. recorded increases in 2012 in the federal traffic fatality study, with the Northeast region recording a 15 percent uptick. Deaths fell by 1 percent in the New York-New-Jersey-Pennsylvania region and in the Pacific Northwest. Traffic fatalities rose 5 percent in the Midwest region that includes Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.  It is important to contact an experienced accident attorney in your area if you or someone you love is involved in any type of auto accident.

 

Arizona Bicycle Laws

As a whole, states are cracking down on bicycle law enforcement and the nation’s rate of cyclist fatalities has declined as a result. In 2010 there were more than a hundred less bicycle fatalities than in 2001. Unfortunately, the state of Arizona remains one of the most dangerous for cyclists. In 2010 the state saw 19 bicycle fatalities and more than 1,500 bicycle injuries.

Half of bicycle accidents in Arizona occur because either the bicyclist or the motorist failed to yield. Half of all bicycle accidents occur when a car is turning right, mostly to be attributed to “right on red” allowances. Half of the accidents involved a bicycle traveling against traffic. A third of bicycle accidents occur when a bicycle is on the sidewalk. Although riding on the sidewalk is legal as long as the cyclist is not surpassing the speed of foot travel, it is not the safest way to travel. When a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk they allow themselves less room to maneuver. Also, suddenly entering the road from the sidewalk can catch motorists off guard.

Arizona’s Department of Transportation has taken notice of the dangers that the state’s roads pose to bicyclists, and has created a plan to ensure cyclist safety. ADOT’s bicycle safety action plan was introduced in late 2010 and strives to reduce bicycle fatalities by 12% by the year 2018. The plan will install 4-ft wide shoulders on all highway projects, new “wrong way” signs on bike lanes, include more information about bicyclists on the driver’s written exam, mandate taillights at night and urge police to enforce the “3 ft” following clearance law.

A bicycle is defined as a device that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride. In Arizona, as in any other state, a bicycle is legally treated as a vehicle. Cyclists have the same rights on the road as motorists, and must obey by the same traffic laws as other vehicles. This includes stopping for stop signs and red lights, adhering to certain speed limits and the flow of traffic, using lights at night and yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway. In addition, any traffic violation committed on a bicycle can affect the cyclist’s driving record.

Bicyclists are required to use hand and arm signals from the left side of the bicycle. For a left turn, the cyclist’s hand and arm must be extended horizontally. When turning right, the hand and arm must be extended upward. To stop or decrease speed, cyclists are expected to lift their hand up and extend their arm downward. Cyclists are advised to use a blinking taillight when riding at night, and never to ride on the sidewalk or against traffic. Although Arizona does not have any helmet law in place, cyclists are always encouraged to wear a helmet. Helmet usage decreases the risk of serious head injury by 80 percent.

 

 

MOTORCYCLE SAFETY: How Far We Have Come

Since the first motorcycle hit the streets in 1885 there have been major transitions in rider gear, motorcycle design and safety laws. Improvements in safety equipment and evolution of safety laws are keeping more riders safe.

Helmets


Motorcycle helmets became a heated topic of discussion after T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) suffered a fatal motorcycle crash in 1935. The accident prompted research about brain injuries, and Lawrence’s neurosurgeon, Hugh Cairns’ findings eventually lead to the first motorcycle crash helmet. The first patent for a motorcycle helmet was submitted in 1953 by University of Southern California Professor C.F. “Red” Lombard.

The first helmets to be manufactured were made with leather. Though this material didn’t do much for major-impact injuries, it helped protect riders from abrasions and low-impact wounds. In the 1960’s helmets were transformed, and exteriors were made of fiberglass with interiors that were lined with foam or cork.

In 1967 the federal government required states to enact helmet laws in order to increase motorcycle helmet usage. The incentive was that the more stringent the laws, the more likely states were to qualify for certain federal safety programs and highway construction funds. By the 1970’s almost every state had universal motorcycle helmet laws, however in 1976 states succeeded in getting Congress to stop the Department of Transportation from demanding that states without helmet laws are penalized.

There are currently no mandatory helmet laws, and legislation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Today 23 states that have motorcycle helmet laws that cover all low-power cycles. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws that cover some low-power cycles. Modern helmets are made of plastic, carbon fiber or Kevlar, have flip-up visors to shield the face, and are designed to protect riders from head and brain injuries, as well as scrapes and lesions.

Protective Gear

With the exception of the helmet, today’s thick leather motorcycle jacket is the most recognizable characteristic of a rider. Upon the invention of the motorcycle, most riders wore long, heavy jackets. When military personnel began using motorcycles during World War I the long dusters were replaced with short jackets in order to eliminate the chance of them getting caught in the wheels or spokes. Today, there are even some suits that come equipped with built-in airbag systems that inflate in the event of an accident.

Unlike Europe, the United States has not yet mandated safety gear standards when it comes to jackets, pants, boots and gloves.

Motorcycle Design

The improvements in motorcycle design safety over the years are impressive. Current motorcycles have better brakes, greater stability, more responsive steering, more effective controls, airbags, leg protectors, tire quality, improved ergonomics and better reliability than those of any previous decade.

Even with the impressive innovation in motorcycle safety features and technology, we still have a long way to go. Motorcycle rider fatality rates go up year after year, and riders continue to throw caution to the wind when on the open road. Despite state laws, all riders are encouraged to exercise caution, to ride with the flow of traffic and to always wear a helmet.

A special thanks to The Law Office Of Mann & Elias, a Los Angeles motorcycle accident law firm, for making this post a possibility.