June 2011 Archives

June 30, 2011

Knoxville Personal Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe and Fun Fourth of July

With the Fourth of July finally here, many families throughout Tennessee will enjoy the warm weather by traveling and others will relax at home. Either way, the Hartsoe Law Firm wishes you a safe and fun holiday weekend.

For those of you traveling this weekend, be safe. AAA estimates that 39 million drivers will be hitting the roads, down slightly from 40 million in 2010, USA Today reports. The national auto group believes that an average $1 increase in gas prices is the reason for the slight dip in drivers.
But 39 million is still a huge number of drivers and they represent a high risk of car accidents in Knoxville and the surrounding areas this weekend. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 989 people died on Tennessee roads in 2009. That ranked Tennessee ninth in the country in highest number of traffic deaths.

And despite tough criminal penalties for people convicted of DUI, people continue to drink and drive, causing tragic and devastating injuries and deaths. In 2009, The Century Council reports, 303 died in 2009 in alcohol-impaired crashes in Tennessee, about 1/3 of the total number of accidents.

While vehicle accidents are a risk, so are boating accidents. Tennessee had 266,185 registered vessels in 2010, which was down more than 3,000 from 2009, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. But despite the drop in vessels, there were 167 boating accidents in 2010, up from 2009, when there were 158. There were also 19 fatal accidents in 2010.

The Ocoee River had 34 boating accidents, tops in the state. And while boating accidents that cause trauma are a concern, drowning is also a risk. The Associated Press recently reported that two people have drowned in the Ocoee River this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in 2007. Children are most likely to drown. Among children ages 1 to 4 who died from unintentional injuries, nearly 30 percent died from drowning.

So, whether whitewater rafting or swimming in your own pool, be safe. Swimming pool injuries can lead to lifelong injuries and brain damage. Near-drownings can have substantial effects on a child.

But what many people most look forward to during the Fourth of July weekend is fireworks. They light up the sky and are fun to watch, but they can be dangerous. Fireworks accidents claimed seven lives in 2008 and another 7,000 were injured, the CDC reoprts. The most common fireworks injuries are to the eyes, hands, fingers, arms and legs.
Here are some fireworks tips to keep your family safe this holiday weekend from The National Council on Fireworks Safety:

  • Use fireworks outdoors only
  • Obey local laws
  • Always have water handy
  • Never relight a "dud" firework
  • Don't alter or use homemade fireworks
  • Don't mix alcohol and fireworks
  • Don't let children under 12 use sparklers
  • Use common sense

Continue reading "Knoxville Personal Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe and Fun Fourth of July" »

June 28, 2011

Sleepy Drivers Increase Risks for Truck Accidents in Tennessee during the Fourth of July Weekend

Two people were killed in a trucking accident on Interstate 55 last week. One of those killed was a state transportation worker. The Tennessee trucking accident occurred just before r Mississippi River bridge, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The state transportation employee was a HELP truck driver. The accident happened when the driver was helping a stalled vehicle. As the vehicles were stopped, a tractor trailer hit the disabled vehicle and then struck the Tennessee Department of Transportation truck. In addition to the death of the state employee, the driver of the tractor trailer died.
Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys would like to urge all motorists to travel safely, especially during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. You may think that truck drivers are well rested and traveling responsibly this weekend, but the truth is they're traveling under even more dangerous conditions than normal -- many pushing to make it home to their families or pushing to make up for lost time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently made exemptions to the number of the driving hours for 3,000 commercial truck drivers who are hauling FIREWORKS! They're now allowed to be behind the wheel of their commercials trucks for an even longer amount of time.

"FMCSA announces its decision to grant the application for exemption from the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) on behalf of 9 member motor carriers seeking relief from FMCSA's hours-of-service (HOS) regulation that prohibits driving of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) after the 14th hour after the driver comes on duty," reads the commercial driver exemption.

This is only a temporary exemption, but takes place during some of the most dangerous days on our roadways. This exemption will allow commercial drivers of firework cargo to exceed the driving hour limit from June 28, 2011 through July 8, 2011. It will also be effective next year from June 28, 2012 to July 8, 2012.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 380,000 large trucks involved in traffic accidents in the United States in 2008. A large truck is classified as a vehicle having a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds. Of the 380,000 trucks, nearly 5,000 of them were involved in fatal traffic accidents. Deadly trucking accidents contributed to more than 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2008. There were another 90,000 people injured in these accidents. During 2008, there were nearly 100 trucks involved in fatal accidents in our state.
Motoristshave no choice but to share the road with these dangerous and deadly big rigs. Here are some safety tips for passenger-vehicle motorists to help preserve your safety on our roadways.

-Be cautious of wind gusts from trucks.

-Keep both hands on the wheel when you pass a truck or a truck passes you.

-Be sure not to tailgate trucks. This is especially important on hills because when they let off the brake, the truck may roll backwards.

-Beware of their blind spots. If you can't see the driver, the driver can't see you.

-Don't speed up when a truck is passing you. Instead, you should stay to the right and slow down a little bit. Let the truck pass you.

-If a truck driver is signaling to change lanes, give them enough space to do so. An average truck changing lanes, at highway speeds, needs an eight second gap or roughly 700 feet to do so.

Continue reading "Sleepy Drivers Increase Risks for Truck Accidents in Tennessee during the Fourth of July Weekend" »

June 22, 2011

Smokies Relief Pitcher Involved in Hit-and-run Knoxville Car Accident

A relief pitcher for the Tennessee Smokies was reportedly the victim of a hit-and-run car accident in Knoxville early last Friday morning, according to KnoxNews.

The pitcher, Ty'Relle Harris, suffered a leg injury and was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. These injuries were reported to by non-life threatening. He remains at the UT Medical Center.

Our Tennessee personal injury attorneys understand that almost everyone is involved in an accident at one time or another. It is important that we all do the right thing in these situations. Motorists are urged to check on one another to make sure that injuries receive the proper attention. Motorists are also to exchange information and report to authorities when necessary. Often in a hit-and-run crash, either the fleeing driver doesn't have insurance or a valid license, or he or she may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you're the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you are urged to contact an experienced attorney immediately as recovery can be made against at-fault drivers.

In cases where a driver lacks insurance, a claim may be made against insurance policies in effect on other vehicles in the household. And in cases where the at-fault driver is not located, or does not have sufficient means to make a recovery, a victim may be able to make a claim against his or her own insurance carrier.

The hit-and-run driver was reportedly apprehended by the Knoxville Police Department after fleeing the scene. He is currently facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident, vehicular assault and drunken driving.

The Smokies are currently in the middle of a five-game series against the Chattanooga Lookouts at Smokies Park.

"Ty'Relle is a great teammate and we missed him tonight," Smokies manager Brian Harper said. "He's a good young man and there's no question he would have pitched tonight. Hopefully he'll get better."

Hit-and-run accidents saw a near 19 percent jump in frequency from 1999 to 2001 and have continued to steadily rise since 2003, according to hitandrunreward.com. Hit-and-runs don't only affect vehicle occupants, either. It is estimated that one out of every five pedestrians killed on our roadways die from a hit-and-run.

The AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety estimates that more than 20 percent of all fatal accidents from 1993 to 1999 involved a driver without a driver's license. This is a common scenario in hit-and-run accidents.

If you witness a hit-and-run accident, you are encouraged to stop and help the victim and the police. Try to get a description on the fleeing car. Try to get the make, model and color of their vehicle. Try to get their license plate number and the direction in which they headed.

Continue reading "Smokies Relief Pitcher Involved in Hit-and-run Knoxville Car Accident" »

June 21, 2011

Officials Crack Down on Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recently participated, in partnership with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, in the nation's biggest patrol on commercial vehicles.

Operation Roadcheck 2011 was a 72-hour roadside enforcement project conducted in various areas throughout the United States. This project aimed to enhance bus and truck safety and reduce the risks of bus and truck accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere in North America, according to Clarksville Online.

"It is more important than ever that we place an emphasis on commercial vehicle safety in Tennessee," said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "The Tennessee Highway Patrol will do its part to maintain the safety and security of our highways through inspections and roadside checks, but it is also the commercial drivers' responsibility to identify safety defects with their vehicle. Together, we can ensure that all motorists reach their destination safely."

Our Tennessee truck accident lawyers recognize that these large, commercial vehicles often produce more serious injuries and more fatal accidents than accidents between two smaller motor-vehicles. It is the large size and heavy weight of these commercial vehicles that prove to be deadly in accidents. Motorists are urged to travel among these large vehicle with extreme caution.

There were nine inspection stations at weigh stations along our interstates. Law enforcement made random stops in various areas of our highways. They conducted Level I inspections -- the most thorough and comprehensive type of inspection. Officers examined tires, lights, brakes and every other major component on trucks and buses.

During last year's operation, more than 400 commercial vehicles were inspected during the 72-hour crackdown period. Throughout these inspections, more than 25 commercial drivers and nearly 35 vehicles were placed out-of-service. Throughout the entire United States, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, nearly 65,500 commercial vehicles were inspected and nearly 30 percent of drivers received out-of-service violations. Another 26 percent of vehicles received out-of-service violations during that time.

"Operation Roadcheck reinforces the critical role inspector's play in safety and crash prevention on state highways," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "It's important to have well-trained drivers who are conscious of their vehicles functionality and abide by the rules of the road, especially with the size, weight and increased numbers of passengers of these vehicles. We will not hesitate to place commercial vehicles or its' drivers out of service to keep our highways safe."

Continue reading "Officials Crack Down on Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere" »

June 12, 2011

Man Killed in Maryville Motorcycle Accident

A Tennessee motorcycle accident on Morganton Road in Maryville left a motorcyclist dead earlier this week, according to The Daily Times.

According to the Blount County Sheriff's Office, the motorcyclist was traveling north on the road when he rear-ended a pickup truck that was pulling off of Wells Road. He was reportedly wearing a state-approved helmet, but it flew off from the impact of the accident.

Our Maryville motorcycle accident attorneys recognize the dangers that motorcyclists face on our roadways. Motorcycle riders are much more likely to sustain serious injuries or die in these accidents than the occupants of the passenger vehicles. Motor-vehicle drivers are asked to practice extra caution when sharing the roads with these bikes, especially during the summer when the warm weather attracts motorcyclists from across the state.

The driver was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The 23-year-old pickup driver denied medical attention at the scene of the accident. Officers report that he was not wearing his seat belt.

The Sheriff's Office Traffic Safety Unit is investigating the accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009 illustrated the first decease in fatal motorcycle accidents since 1997. It was also the first year that the number of motorcycle accident injuries decreased since 1999.

Still, 2009 saw nearly 5,500 motorcyclist fatalities because of roadway crashes. Another 90,000 motorcyclists sustained injuries throughout the year.

In 2008, a motorcyclist was nearly 40 times more likely than a passenger vehicle occupant to die in a motor-vehicle accident based on miles traveled. Motorcyclists were also nine times more likely to be injured in a crash.

In the last 10 years, motorcyclists 40 and older saw the largest increase in the number of fatalities. During the same time, those with an engine size 1,000 cc and above also had the greatest increase in deaths.

Motorists are urged to follow these tips to help keep our motorcyclists safe on the road:

-Double check your blind spots. These are the areas where a motorcyclist is most likely to get lost from your line of vision.

-Always assume that a motorcycle is closer than it appears. Because of their small size, they sometimes seem farther away than they really are.

-Avoid tailgating.

-Don't depend on a bike's brake lights. Motorcyclists often downshift to slow down. This does not activate their brake lights.

-Allow a motorcyclist the entire lane. Riders are likely to zig-zag within a lane to avoid road debris or wind from passing vehicles.

Continue reading "Man Killed in Maryville Motorcycle Accident" »

June 11, 2011

Teens Unite to Raise Awareness of Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere

A group of teens recently joined together to raise awareness about trucking accidents in Tennessee and elsewhere throughout the United States.

Teens from around our nation's capital teamed to make summer traveling safer by vowing to be extra cautious near large trucks. They vowed to allow them plenty of room and to avoid driving in their spots. The teens even signed a "No Texting Promise." This truck safety demonstration event was organized by national safety officials and families of distracted driving crash victims, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Organizations for Youth Safety and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance also spoke to students about the importance of safe driving around these big trucks. Accidents involving these trucks are often deadly.

Our Knoxville truck accident attorneys know this all too well. These vehicles operate much differently than our passenger vehicles and motorists need to familiarize themselves with these differences. It is important to work around these vehicles and to accommodate their needs to preserve the safety of all motorists.

"We want everyone to be safe, but as newer drivers, teens must adhere to a few simple rules," said Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. "They are: buckle up, don't drink and drive; don't speed, don't text or use your phone, and steer clear of a truck's blind spots."

Drivers 16 to 24 years old have the highest traffic accident death rate in the United States. From 2005 to 2009, almost 4,000 people from that age group were killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks.

The event was held this month because, according to the most recent data from U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the deadliest days for teens on our roads are from May through August. During these months, teens 15 to 19 see about two times more deaths on roadways than any of time during the year. During this time, there's an average of 16 deaths per day on our roadways. This is compared to an average of roughly nine deaths per day the entire year.

"Prom, graduation, and summer are fantastic times for youth to celebrate and enjoy. However, with these fun times come unfortunate tragedies," said Sandy Spavone, president of the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). "Through education, enforcement, and legislation lives can be saved and injuries prevented."

A fully loaded tractor-trailer needs about twice the distance to stop than a passenger vehicle does. These tractor-trailers also have extremely large blind spots that motorists should avoid.

"Do not expect that having a driver's license is a right that comes without responsibility or risk," said Steve Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. "Be accountable for your actions, spread the word to your friends and parents, and help create a culture of safety. Most importantly, take the driving task seriously. You never know the impact you can have that ultimately could save your life or someone else's."

Continue reading "Teens Unite to Raise Awareness of Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere" »

June 7, 2011

New Program Aims to Help Those Severely Injured in Tennessee Vehicle Accidents

A runaway truck rolled down a hill, took a fence down and crossed over two interstate ramps before striking a guard rail. The Tennessee trucking accident ended with the truck coming to rest underneath the Interstate 26 underpass last Wednesday evening, according to Volunteer TV.

Tennessee Highway Patrol and police are still investigating what caused the truck to venture off without supervision.
Fortunately, no one was injured in this accident, but that's not usually the case in accidents involving these large tractor-trailers. Our Tennessee truck accident attorneys understand that accidents involving these large trucks oftentimes result in serious injury -- or death. Because of their large size and heavy weight, these vehicles come with a lot of force and power and have the ability to cause a lot of damage.

There's a new program to help the victims of these accidents that involve large trucks. According to USA Today, there's a new national program that will allow emergency responders to get much needed information from seriously injured victims in the event of an accident. This new program is fueled by the growing number of maturing Baby Boomers.

This program is referred to as the Yellow Dot Program. Here's how it works: Participating drivers will place a yellow dot sticker on the rear windshield of their window. This is to notify emergency responders of a folder that is located in the glove box of the vehicle. This folder is to be marked with the same yellow sticker and is to contain vital information including medical conditions, emergency contacts, a photograph of the driver, prescription information and other vital information.

"It's a promising approach," says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "Actually, this is one of the goals of automated crash notification systems. Eventually, when there is a crash, these key data such as medication needed will automatically be available to EMTs, etc. The Yellow Dot program may be a system that can be helpful in the meantime."

The chances of survival are greatly increased when this information is readily available within the "golden hour," or the first 60 minutes after an accident.

"The residents of the state ... realize the importance of it, particularly someone with a lot of medical issues. The second group is the first responders, because they know when they arrive, if the person is unable to communicate, they know they can go to the glove compartment and get the information they need, and they can do it immediately without wasting a lot of time," says Lora Weaver, program coordinator for the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office.

The nation's first Yellow Dot program started in 2002 in Connecticut. Yellow Dot programs are in effect in counties scattered across at least eight states.

"It is very nice to see innovative programs to address the unique risks associated with older Americans and car crashes," says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Since older individuals tend to have more medical conditions, are on more medications and are generally more fragile, this sounds like a well-justified program, especially in light of the growing number of older Americans."

Continue reading "New Program Aims to Help Those Severely Injured in Tennessee Vehicle Accidents" »

June 6, 2011

Teen Driver Dies in Tennessee Car Accident

A 16-year-old girl lost her life this past weekend after she reportedly lost control of her vehicle and was struck by two oncoming vehicles. The crash happened when she went though the median and through the cable-wire barrier of the Interstate. State police are still investigating the accident. They have concluded that the teen driver was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash.
These accidents are not uncommon among our teen drivers. Teens are more vulnerable for a car accident in Tennessee and elsewhere because of their lack of driving experience. They're also more likely to participate in distracted driving behaviors and to ignore roadway rules and regulations.

Our Maryville personal injury attorneys would like to warn teens and parents about the increased risk of motor-vehicle accidents during the summer months. With prom, graduation and summer break approaching, teen drivers will be hitting our roadways in full force. It is no surprise that these months provide the 100 most dangerous days for teen drivers on our roadways.

An autopsy on the teen driver indicated the she died "as the result of neck and chest trauma," according to the coroner's office. Routine toxicology testing will be conducted in order to determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash,

The father of the teen driver is responding to reports and articles that claim that his daughter was on the phone right before the accident.

"She was not texting and talking on her phone," said Barry Budwell, the teen's father. "That's the first thing I have to hear about, and that's wrong."

After analyzing crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Allstate Foundation discovered that May 20 is the deadliest day for teens on our roadways. This day took the lives of 63 percent more teen lives than average over the past five years.

Because of the increased traffic of teen drivers in the summer, May through August prove to be most deadly. There are 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day that have bee coined as the deadliest for teen drivers.

Data from the IIHS also concludes that roughly 60 percent of teen passenger deaths occur in vehicles that are driven by another teen. Other studies concluded that more than 75 percent of teens confess that they feel unsafe while riding with another teen driver.

Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. These accidents take more lives than cancer, heart disease and AIDS altogether. Every year, roughly 6,000 teens die in traffic accidents. This means about 16 teens die because of car accidents every day. More than 300,000 teens suffer injuries from these accidents every year. Overall, teens are involved in three times are more fatal accidents than any other age group of drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 158 teens died in Tennessee traffic accidents in 2009 alone.

Continue reading "Teen Driver Dies in Tennessee Car Accident" »