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Jackson Personal Injury Blog

Truck accident injuries are often catastrophic

Thousands of motorists are killed or seriously injured every year in Mississippi and around the country in collisions with semi-tractor trailers. Larger vehicles provide greater protection in a crash, and data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that more than two-thirds of the road users killed in truck accidents are car, pickup truck or SUV occupants.

The injuries suffered in truck accidents can be catastrophic, and this is especially true when distraction, impairment or fatigue is involved. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces commercial vehicle regulations and places strict limits on how long truck drivers may spend behind the wheel before rest becomes mandatory, but these efforts have not been enough to prevent a worrying rise in tractor-trailer accident fatalities and injuries in recent years.

How insurance might fare in an era of driverless cars

There has been no shortage of reports predicting the fate of the insurance industry once driverless cars become a reality. Mississippi residents may be familiar with some of the dire predictions: A 2016 Morgan Stanley report estimates that with no drivers needing car insurance, the industry will dwindle by 80 percent by the year 2040.

A more recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance paints a different picture, though: not one of sudden declines in revenue but rather one of gradual shifts as new revenue sources open up. Who pays for a policy will change with parts manufacturers and technologies companies being especially likely to need coverage.

How to spot abuse in nursing homes

Of all the forms of abuse prevalent in nursing homes, neglect is the most common one. Simply put, neglect takes place any time an individual does not get the level of care they require; for example, when a man from Mississippi in his 80s has problems feeding himself and doesn't get fed regularly by a caregiver, this is considered neglect and abuse, which is a very serious matter and needs to be handled immediately.

When trying to ascertain whether a loved one is being neglected, there are several things to look for. To start with, the general cleanliness of both the individual as well as their living conditions can be an excellent indicator of how well this individual is looked after. Elderly people may find difficulty in showering, clipping their nails or cleaning their rooms on a regular basis, which puts this responsibility onto the shoulders of the nursing home.

GHSA probes link between drug use and fatal car crashes

Though studies on the effect of drugs on driver performance are limited by certain methodological flaws, one thing is clear: drugs, though their effect may be different from driver to driver, can lead to impairment and increase crash risk. Marijuana, for example, is estimated to increase it by 25 to 35 percent. Mississippi residents should know about a study from the Governors Highway Safety Association that probes the link between drug use and fatal car crashes.

More specifically, the GHSA studied the records of fatal car crashes in 2016 and found that of all those drivers who were fatally injured, 44 percent tested positive for drugs. Some things should be kept in mind: not every driver in a crash is tested, and no national drug-testing standard exists, so the results are not meant to be entirely accurate. The number is a jump from 10 years ago, though, where 28 percent of drivers tested positive.

Is the nursing home chemically restraining your parent?

If your parent resides in a Mississippi nursing home because (s)he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or some other type of mental disability, you likely live with the nagging doubt and worry that (s)he may not receive the care (s)he needs and to which (s)he is entitled. This does not make you a worrywart. It makes you a concerned son or daughter who loves his or her parent.

Sadly, you may have legitimate reasons to worry. A recent Human Rights Watch investigation revealed that nursing homes nationwide often give antipsychotic drugs to patients who have no need of them, but who the nursing homes desire to make easier to manage. Many times the patients have no idea that they are being drugged, and they certainly do not consent to it.

Truck driver fatigue can lead to crashes

There are more large trucks than ever on the road, and for Mississippi drivers, this can be a serious safety concern. When a large truck is involved in a collision, the consequences can be severe for the other pedestrians or vehicles involved, especially given the mass and weight of semi-trucks and 18-wheelers. The risk of an accident is significantly increased when a truck driver takes the road outside of their mandated hours of service, because drivers who have been on the road for too long can become fatigued.

When it comes to driving, truck driver fatigue is not just a bit of extra sleepiness; it can have effects akin to those of drunk or otherwise intoxicated driving. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration classifies crashes caused by fatigue in the same category as those caused by drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All of these crashes are considered to be caused by impaired driving. Of the 157 fatal truck accidents involving impaired driving in 2016, 70 - nearly half - involved fatigued truck drivers.

Researchers blame distracted driving trends on smartphones

Motorists in Mississippi likely notice other drivers looking at their smartphones behind the wheel. This behavior has increased in recent years and contributed to the growing problem of distracted driving. A vice president at Cambridge Mobile Telematics said that smartphone addiction compels people to engage with their devices while driving despite the dangers. A study of 65 million vehicle trips conducted by the organization concluded that 36 percent of trips over a six-month period involved distracted drivers. This represented a 5 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier.

Age has some influence on the negative behavior. Finder US surveyed 2,001 adults and calculated that 45 percent of respondents admitted to talking on phones while driving, but 45 percent of Baby Boomers paid more attention to the road compared to 38 percent of Generation X drivers. Only 35 percent of Millennials reported that they made concentrating on the road a priority.

2016 saw 3 percent rise in fatal truck crashes, says FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has just released a data drill-down report that may be of interest to drivers in Mississippi, especially operators of large commercial vehicles. Entitled "2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts," the report shows that the year in question saw a 3 percent rise in the number of fatal large-truck collisions -- 4,213 compared to the previous year's 4,074.

These resulted in a total of 4,317 fatalities, which was 223 more than in 2015. At the same time, the large-truck involvement rate stayed the same at 1.46. This means that 1.46 trucks were involved in a fatal crash for every 100 million miles traveled.

Tesla CEO angered by coverage of self-driving car crashes

The CEO of Tesla, along with its supporters and investors, has been critical lately of the way the news media cover accidents involving the company's semiautonomous vehicles. Residents of Mississippi should know what is behind such criticisms because they are often casually repeated by journalists and apt to result in uninformed opinions.

For example, a recent accident in Utah involved the driver of a Tesla Model S who crashed into a fire truck and broke an ankle because she was looking down at her phone. The Tesla CEO expressed his amazement that the accident would become front-page news when the tens of thousands of fatal car accidents that occur annually get less media coverage.

Responsibility by negligent entrustment or vicarious liability

A Mississippi resident can be held financially liable for damages caused by their vehicle even if they were not driving when the damage occurred. If someone lends their vehicle to a family member, friend or employee, or the vehicle has a manufacturing defect, the owner of the vehicle can be held responsible in the event of an accident.

If a vehicle owner has prior knowledge that someone is an unsafe driver, they should not lend their vehicle to that individual. If they do lend their vehicle to the unsafe driver, the owner can be held liable for any accidents that occur. Several states permit both the driver of the vehicle and the owner to be named as defendants in lawsuits that are filed under the vicarious liability theory. Even in jurisdictions in which there is no owner's liability law, the negligent entrustment theory can be used to hold the vehicle's owner liable for injuries that were incurred by the unsafe driver that was allowed to use the vehicle.

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