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Considering that most New Englanders now feel they are living in Alaska, it is not surprising that snow and ice are causing a lot of car accidents in the past weeks. This has led to a common recurring question – why am I at fault for an accident caused by snow or ice? It is a reasonable question. If your car slides on ice and you are unable to come to a stop despite your absolute best efforts, then why should you be responsible if you rear end someone. You couldn’t help the slide, after all.

As reasonable an argument as that may be, the reality is that anyone who operates a vehicle in snow and ice willingly takes on the risk that comes with those conditions. We all know that it is dangerous to drive in the snow and therefore we take responsibility if we lose control of our car. Any injuries or property damage that are caused will be the responsibility of the person who lost control in the snow.

Aside from this, auto accidents caused by snow and ice are subject to the same rules of the road as any other car accident. If you hit a patch of ice and slide through a stop sign striking another vehicle, you will be responsible for the damages caused. Rhode Island does not become a no-fault state because of snow and ice. If you have been hurt in a car accident caused during the recent snow storms, contact our office for a free consultation.

I’ve written about hit and run accidents on this blog in the past, but it still seems to come up quite a bit so I thought it merited another post. What are your rights and what can you do if someone causes an accident injuring you and damaging your car and then takes off? Hit and run accidents, unfortunately, are quite common especially in Providence. There are a number of reasons why someone might take off after causing an accident such as:

  • He or she has an outstanding arrest warrant;
  • He or she does not have a license and/or insurance;
  • They are drunk or on drugs;
  • And sometimes, he or she is just a jerk who thinks they can get away with it.

If a driver flees the scene, all is not lost. While many police departments do very little in their “hit and run” departments, our law office may be able to identify the driver if you have a license plate. The RI DMV allows access to insurance and registration information if you have a plate of the hit and run vehicle. If you were unable to obtain a license plate, you may still be protected.

Depending on your insurance coverages you may be fully protected and able to obtain compensation for damages to your car, a rental vehicle, and a personal injury claim including medical bills and lost wages. Many people have uninsured motorist coverage on their auto policy and do not even know it. This coverage means that your insurance company will take the place of the insurance company that the at-fault driver should have had if they did not flee the scene. Bear in mind that uninsured motorist coverage is very affordable, so if you do not currently have it on your policy, get it! You never know when you might need it.

A fascinating study released this week from a Canadian research team suggests that pregnant women, particularly those in their second trimester have a much higher likelihood of being involved in auto accidents. In fact, the numbers are close to women who suffer from sleep apnea. There is no clear indication as to the cause of the spike in auto accidents for women during the second trimester, but it is suggested that increased hormones may be causing distraction or fatigue which results in car accidents.

Anytime a woman is involved in an auto accident while pregnant it is very serious. The babies safety is paramount and hospitals will generally place the expectant mother on a fetal monitoring machine for 24 hours to ensure no harm to the baby. Expectant mothers are limited to what prescriptions they can take and often have to endure tremendous amounts of pain and discomfort following an accident because they can take nothing more than tylenol.

Our office has represented many pregnant women who were injured in car accidents. Some of the more serious cases require emergency Cesarean section delivery of the baby and in some cases the unborn child has also been harmed. These can be immensely complex and serious personal injury cases and requires an experienced personal injury attorney.

A new study suggests that more than texting and even more than drunk driving, that distracted driving is the greatest danger on the road. A study from the Erie Insurance Group concluded that it is actually five times more dangerous to drive distracted (daydreaming) than it is to drive while texting or talking on the phone. In fact, it may be the leading cause of fatal auto accidents throughout the country.

Cars continue to increase safety measures but no amount of technology or airbags can prevent bad drivers from causing injury. Driving comes so naturally to us that we take for granted that we are driving a 3000 pound piece of metal at 60+ miles per hour. When we take our obligations for granted, by texting, drinking and driving, or simply not paying attention, we invite disaster. A nationwide review of 65,000 fatal auto accidents across the country in the past few years showed that at least ten percent of those accidents fell into the distracted driver category.

Surveys of accidents caused by distracted drivers indicate that a great many of those drivers were simply “lost in thought”. To my knowledge, few surveys such as this have looked solely at daydreaming as a cause of auto accidents. New safety mechanisms such as lane departure warnings and proximity alarms are audible alerts to notify the driver that something is wrong. Car companies are aware that many accidents may be avoidable if the driver is paying attention to the potential danger. Audible alerts or seats or steering wheels that shake to alert the driver will likely become increasingly common.

An interesting situation arises when a person is driving without insurance (a mistake, and in Rhode Island, illegal) and gets into a car accident, but is not at fault for the accident. For example, you are driving an uninsured vehicle but are rear-ended by another driver while you are waiting at a red light. Who is at fault in this situation?

I receive a lot of questions about this scenario and I can see why it might be confusing. It could be argued that it is negligent to drive a car without insurance. It can also be argued that since driving without insurance is a violation of Rhode Island law, the driver should not have been on the road when the accident occurred. While these are both valid points, they actually have no bearing on determining auto accident liability.

A lack of insurance, or license and registration for that matter, is not enough to impose liability for an auto accident on a person. The rules of the road still apply and are the only factors considered in determining who is at fault for the accident. In the example above of a rear-end accident, you would hold 0% liability for the accident. An uninsured driver is still entitled to damages for the property damage done to their car, and if injured, can make a bodily injury claim for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that the first half of year 2012 saw a 19 percent increase in teenage driver fatalities. The report took a look at all 50 states and showed that last year saw the reverse of a trend that saw decline in teenage accident related fatalities for almost a decade. Of even greater concern, the rate of fatalities for 16 and 17 year olds was even higher than the reported 19 percent jump.

This particular report focused solely on teenage drivers and did not include all auto accident related fatalities involving teenagers as passengers or pedestrians. The report also did not look at liability in these cases so there is no reported evidence to how many of these accidents were caused by the teenage driver.

We can only speculate as to why last year saw such an increase. One suggestion is that an improving economy is making it more accessible for teenagers to access a vehicle. Another suggestion is that we are seeing a slow down in previously created laws meant to reduce teenage driving fatalities such as graduated driving laws which have been enacted in many states. I would also add that the increase in smartphones and mobile technology has to be considered a cause in the increase of teenage auto accident related deaths. No generation is more wired and tech savvy than the current crop of young drivers and the distraction to text or check Facebook while driving may be the cause of these tragic numbers.

I recently ran into a former personal injury client from a few years ago. When I asked how she was, she told me that she was actually in quite a bit of pain. It turns out that she was hurt in a car accident a few months ago. I was disappointed that she did not call me to represent her for this new accident so I asked if she was not satisfied with my representation last time. She said that she was very satisfied and wanted to call me again following this car accident but the driver of the vehicle she was in said that if they did not go to the same attorney there “was going to be problems.” This is not the first time that I have heard this misconception so I suppose it is worth writing a post here.

Following a serious car accident, it is not uncommon for several passengers to be in injured. Each passenger has rights to make a personal injury claim for damages. A common misconception, however, is that everyone in the vehicle needs to hire the same attorney to handle the case. This is absolutely incorrect! While there may be benefits to agreeing on a single attorney, there may be other reasons why separate attorneys would have a better result. If you are one of several passengers injured in a car crash, you have every right to hire the auto accident attorney of your choice, regardless of the choice made by the other passengers. Your decision will have no negative consequences and will not cause any delays.

In fact, there is one situation when it strongly benefits you to hire a different attorney than the other parties. That is, if you are a passenger in a vehicle and the driver of the car you are riding in is partially or totally at fault for the accident. One attorney can not adequately represent both parties because he may have a conflict of interest. In order to recover the full damages for your case, the attorney might have to admit that the driver (also his client) shares some negligence. Since the attorney also represents the driver, he can not and should not admit to his own client’s negligence, and this is why there is a conflict of interest. It is better for you to hire an attorney of your own choice who has only your best interests in mind.

This winter has been extremely mild for us here in New England which seems to rule out the risk of a snowmobile accident or injury, but if you are injured this winter during a snowmobile accident it is imperative that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away to protect your rights and obtain compensation for you. There is no need to contact a national law firm to help you with a snowmobile accident because our firm is local and ready to fight for you.

Snowmobile accidents can occur in a number of ways. Collision between two snowmobiles, operator error, and product malfunction can all lead to an accident. Injuries sustained in a snowmobile accident can be serious and permanent including but not limited to head injuries, fractures, paralysis and even death. Do not delay in contacting a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will need to act quickly to establish the facts of loss and identify potential coverages for you to be compensated. Many insurance companies are now covering so called “small lines” vehicles such as jet skis, motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Because of this increase in coverage there is a strong likelihood that the vehicle which caused your injuries has an insurance policy protecting it. In some instances the homeowners policy may also cover your damages. As with other personal injury cases you are entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Because it is unlikely for the police or other government agency to investigate a snowmobile accident, there may be no incident report. Therefore, if AND ONLY IF, you are able, it is imperative for you to try and identify witnesses and take pictures of the scene. This will help establish the facts when trying to recreate the accident at a later date.

Car accidents which occur in parking lots are actually extremely common and come with a host of unique problems and complexities that need to be understood. If you have been involved in an accident which occurred in a store or other parking lot, hopefully the following information can be of assistance.

For most auto accidents that occur on a public road, determining who is at fault is much easier than in a parking lot accident. On a public road there are traffic controls, stop signs, and well understood rules of the road. Violating a rule of the road or ignoring a traffic signal will put one at fault for the car crash. In a parking lot, a determination of fault is not always as easy.

Why is it Tricky to Determine Liability in a Parking Lot?

This blog has always focused primarily on questions of personal injury and pain and suffering recovery, yet there is another important part to an auto accident claim that is often not discussed. That is the property damage – the repair to your vehicle, replacement of a total loss and placement in a rental vehicle immediately following an auto accident.

I have previously written posts about low bodily injury settlement offers from insurance companies if you do not have a personal injury attorney. But even when it comes to property damage, the insurance company’s main objective is to cut costs and limit your total recovery. Since you need immediate help following a car crash, it is imperative that you call an experienced car accident attorney right away, so there are no delays or problems with the repair of your vehicle.

Car smashed from accident
What if my vehicle is repairable?

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