After a Car Crash

A car crash is a terrifying experience. Even the most minor of car wrecks can cause any number of medical issues. Which doesn’t account for the pain, emotional distress, and vehicle damage, and the overall disruption in life that occurs from the crash.  You have a right to protect yourself and exercise your rights in the time following an automotive incident. In situations such as these, you need car accident lawyers, give us a call at 800-228-7800.

Car Crashes in Indiana

In Indiana, car crashes occur in can occur in an instant, but can leave lasting damage. If you’ve been in a car crash in Indianapolis. After a car crash in Indiana, if you’ve been injured and your vehicle sustained severe damage. It’s important for you to consider your options for holding the driver who was at fault in the accident financially responsible for your losses. Here is a bit of helpful information about the all of the legal aspects of a car accident case in Indiana.

INDIANA CAR CRASH

Never Accept Blame in a Car Crash

If unfortunately, you are in a car accident, you should never admit blame.  Even if you believe you are responsible for the car crash or at least partially to blame, keep quiet. Usually after a car accident the majority of people are shaken up, and it’s easy to say something inaccurate or to incriminate yourself. If law enforcement is on the scene, make sure to carefully recite as many of the unbiased facts possible of what occurred during the auto crash.

CAR CRASHES

Auto Crashes May Require Medical Attention

Regardless of whether you see any visible injuries or not, it’s highly important that you get checked out or treated by a doctor right away. Even though not all damage may be immediately visible, you will have documented evidence of your hospital in record form. Your car accident lawyer will need any medical paperwork to serve as documentation of the incident, and if there is a need to include when you file a lawsuit and present your case.

CAR CRASH

Recorded Statements After a Crash

Generally, an insurance company will attempt to contact you directly and ask you to give a recorded statement. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies will often try to trip you up and get you to say something in your statement that relieves them from any type of financial responsibility. A representative or an adjuster may attempt to reach out and contact you, however it is important that you decline to make any comments on the car accident, and refer them to your Marion County car accident lawyer.

Hire a Car Crash Attorney

If you’ve been involved in a car crash, let the auto crash attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group help you explore the options you have available. Give us a call as soon as possible at 800-228-7800, time is of the essence.

The Dangers of Fatigued Driving for Hoosiers

Do you know that driving while drowsy or fatigued is just as dangerous as drinking and driving? Find out why fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel accounts for 29.3% of serious injury collisions in Indiana a year -those with at least one fatal or incapacitating injury.

dangerous driving habits

If you are like most Americans, you don’t get enough sleep. A quick cup of morning coffee and you are out on the road, along with hundreds of other sleepy motorists. This scenario is putting you (and the drivers around you) in a dangerous situation each and every day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year, over 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving. In 2015 alone, an estimated 5,000 people died in crashes where drowsy driving is the culprit, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report.

We know fatigued driving affects everyone on the road, both drivers and passengers. In Indiana, drowsy driving is classified as impaired driving, which falls under the greater umbrella of distracted driving, accounting for the largest percentage of the majority of accidents and injuries each year.

A recent report examining Hoosier driving behavior notes that drivers’ unsafe actions are the primary cause of crashes, resulting in 111,298 accidents. Indiana State Police finds fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel accounts for 29.3% of these serious injury collisions -those with at least one fatal or incapacitating injury.

Why Drowsy Driving Is Impaired Driving

GHSA research shows nearly 83.6 million people are sleep deprived in the workplace, at school and on the road. Why is drowsy driving considered impaired driving? Consider this:

  • fatigue slows reaction time
  • drowsiness impairs situational awareness and judgment
  • fatigue increases risk-taking and lapses of attention
  • driving while drowsy or fatigued is just as dangerous as drinking and driving

We regularly see how all of these factors have extremely detrimental effects on the driver’s ability to control a vehicle, accounting for more than 71,000 injuries each year. According to the National Safety Council, fatigue-related crashes involving fatalities or injuries cost society $109 billion each year.

Drowsy Driving and Indiana Law

In Indiana, laws intended to discourage drowsy driving generally concentrate on the connection between fatigued driving and alcohol consumption. These measures have saved lives and money in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.

  • Administrative License Revocation – These laws allow police and driver license authorities to automatically revoke a person’s license for refusing or failing a BAC test (blood alcohol test).
  • Zero Tolerance Laws – In Indiana, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to drive with a positive BAC. It is estimated that these laws have reduced impaired-driving fatalities by 4%.
  • .08 BAC Law – By lowering the BAC limit to .08, impaired driving fatalities have reduced by 7%.
  • Graduated Licensing – Young drivers must demonstrate responsible driving habits to advance between the three-stage licensing program from a learner’s permit, to an intermediate or provisional license, to full licensure.

Drivers More Likely To Be Fatigued

A majority of drowsy drivers fall into a short list of categories. These include:

  • Drivers who do not get enough sleep
  • Commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as semi-trucks, tow trucks and buses
  • Shift workers, especially those working a night shift or swing shift
  • Drivers with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • Drivers who use medications that treat sleeplessness or insomnia

Be Aware of the Warning Signs of Fatigued Driving

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is crucial that you get off the road and stop driving:

  • Yawning or blinking frequently
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Missing your exit
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
  • Falling asleep, even for a moment

Take Step to Dodge Drowsy Driving

The best way to ensure that you are not the cause of a drowsy driving accident is to avoid driving drowsy in the first place. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers this advice:

  • The only true way to avoid drowsy driving is to get enough sleep. Experts urge the public to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel for a long car trip.= or any kind.
  • Teenagers are especially vulnerable to drowsy driving as they typically don’t get enough sleep at a time when they biologically need more sleep than adults. Encourage your teens to get enough sleep before operating a vehicle.
  • Do not drink alcohol before driving. Alcohol increases drowsiness and impairs motor coordination.
  • Read your prescription labels. Most labels include information on whether or not the medication can cause drowsiness.
  • Try to avoid the peak fatigue times of midnight to 6:00 am and late afternoon.

Interventions for Drowsy Driving

While everyone should follow steps to avoid drowsy driving, it is also necessary to put interventions in place. We know this is especially true for male drivers under the age of 25, who make up an estimated 50% of drowsy driving crashes. Initiatives to consider:

  • Crash avoidance technologies – Safety technologies, both existing and planned, include drowsiness alert and lane departure warnings. These technologies can detect patterns of drowsy driving and warn drivers to stay in their lane or take a break.
  • University interventions – As college students represent a major portion of the under 25 driving demographic, education programs created for students may help raise awareness of drowsy driving issues. College students receive less sleep with some estimates at less than six hours a night. Educating these students now helps build better behaviors that will last into adulthood.
  • Workplace education – Employers with strong health and safety programs, both on and off the job, can contribute to employees getting sufficient information on the dangers of fatigued driving.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of a drowsy driving accident, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Buckle up, Indiana! Click It or Ticket Raises Seat Belt Awareness

Wearing a seat belt not only protects drivers and passengers, this Indiana law saves Hoosier lives.

click it or ticket

Police are out in increased numbers to enforce Indiana’s mandatory seat belt laws. Participating in the national Click It or Ticket campaign, Indiana law enforcement is working overtime, giving citations to drivers who fail to wear seat belts while driving or riding in vehicles.

The overtime pay for officers is covered by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 230 law enforcement agencies in Indiana participate in the annual campaign, patrolling day and night to bring awareness of seat belt safety to drivers and passengers, both in front seats and in the back.

Seat Belts Save Hoosiers

Seat belts protect drivers and passengers, even in non-serious crashes. “These are crashes that, when you look at the vehicle, you think someone maybe got a little banged up, and then you find out they were killed because they got ejected,” Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten tells local Indianapolis radio station WIBC. “No one plans on being in a crash. But crashes happen. And once the crash happens, you can’t freeze-frame and put your seat belt on to protect yourself. You do that by putting it on as soon as you get in the car before you pull out to drive.”

Seat Belts Decrease the Likelihood of Death

Drivers of cars and SUVs who are unrestrained by seat belts are 10 times more likely to die in a crash than those wearing a seat belt. The number rises to 14 times more likely for drivers of pick-up trucks and 15 times more likely for drivers of vans.

Lt. Jefferey Paine of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis news station WTHR, “It is absolutely heartbreaking to see the aftermath of a crash where a fatality could have been prevented by wearing a seat belt. Click It or Ticket is more than an enforcement campaign, it is an educational effort to increase seat belt use and decrease fatal crashes.”

Younger Male Drivers More At Risk

Male drivers aged 15 to 44, especially those under 25, are most likely to not be wearing a seatbelt at the time of a crash, according to State Police. Injury rates for unrestrained drivers and passengers are also higher:

  • in rural counties
  • when a driver is speeding or impaired
  • on weekend nights between the hours of 11:00 pm and 4:00 am

In fact, Indiana motorists are more likely to suffer property damage, injuries or death from a traffic accident than to experience a burglary, to be the victim of a violent crime or to be murdered.

seatbelt statistics

Click It or Ticket Through the Years

Prior to 1980, seat belt usage in the United States averages about 11%. In 1980, small campaigns to increase seat belt usage begin to pop up. Individual organizations, public education programs, incentives and policy changes work to change perceptions. However, without any actual laws on the books, these efforts only make a slight difference. By 1984, seat belt usage only climbs four percentage points.

New York becomes the first state to enact mandatory seat belt laws in 1984 and by 1990 an additional 37 states have seat belt laws on the books. At the time, most of these states have “secondary seat belt laws,” meaning an officer would first have to have pulled over a vehicle for another violation before citing the lack of seat belt use. Even so, the national rate of seat belt usage climbs from 15% to 50%.

The Click It or Ticket campaign begins as a statewide effort in 1993 when North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt launches it in conjunction with a “primary enforcement safety belt law,” which allows officers to issue seat belt citations without first observing another offense. Other states follow and in 2002 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration starts the first national campaign.

Enforcing for Safety

The campaign has been deemed a success by its backers. The U.S. Department of Transportation releases a statement in May 2003, “National belt use among young men and women ages 16-24 moved from 65% to 72%, and 73% to 80% respectively, while belt use in the overall population increased from 75% to 79%.”

In 2018, the 230 agencies involved with enforcing the Click It or Ticket campaign in Indiana put in nearly 29,000 hours of overtime to crack down on seat belt violations and write 32,000 citations and warnings.

Make Sure You are Properly Buckled

Indiana State Police provides reminders on how to properly “buckle up”:

  • Secure the lap belt across your hips and pelvis, below your stomach.
  • Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and rib cage, away from your neck.
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
  • If your seat belt doesn’t fit you, or you have an older car with lap belts only, ask your dealer or vehicle manufacturer about seat-belt adjusters, extenders or retrofits.

Senior Trooper Nick Klinghammer of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis station RTV6, “Most times you’re involved in a crash, it’s within five to10 miles of your house, so hopefully we prevented something here. If you don’t click it, you’ll get a ticket.”

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you have been involved with a seat belt violation, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Indianapolis Drivers Leaving the Scene of Auto Accidents

In 2007, four hit and run auto accidents claim a person’s life in Marion County. By 2016, that number jumps to 20 – and continues to rise.

personal injury attorney

On a Friday night in May 2019, a man is killed on the near west side of Indianapolis. According to Indianapolis Metro Police, a dark-colored passenger car slams into his Ford F-150 while he is likely lying underneath, working on the pickup outside of his home on West Michigan Avenue.

The driver of the car takes off on foot and the man, unidentified and transported to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition, is pronounced dead on arrival. Neighbors express surprise that someone would be working underneath a vehicle on this very busy road, particularly after dark.

Hit and run auto accidents such as this are not only tragic, they are all too common – especially here in Indianapolis where reports of drivers leaving the scene of auto accidents continue to rise.

More Hit and Run Investigations

Three Injured on the Near East Side. Fox 59 reports in April 2019 on a hit and run accident that causes serious bodily injury to three unnamed adults. The incident involves three vehicles and occurs around 3:40 A.M. at E. 38th Street and Arquette Drive. Police are still searching for the suspect, who was driving a green 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, according to witnesses at the scene.

11-Year-Old Girl Injured. An accident on the eastside of Indianapolis leaves police searching for the driver, according to RTV6. Rickonna Dixson and her 11-year-old daughter are waiting on East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive to turn into the Kroger at the Twin Aire Shopping Center. Rickonna recalls looking in her rearview mirror and seeing a truck she thinks is moving too fast. When that truck slams into her, the impact is so hard it pushes her into oncoming traffic where she is struck by a van.

“When we were hit, all I could think about was my daughter in the back seat,” Rickonna says. “It’s a miracle, really a miracle, that my daughter made it. She has half of her ear missing. My car is totaled.” Police are still looking for the driver of the 1997 black Dodge Ram that hits them.

Leaving the Scene of An Indianapolis Auto Accident Costs More

A Fox 59 investigation finds a sharp increase in the number of hit and run car accidents after analyzing crash reports obtained from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD). “In 2016, there were 5,049 hit and runs reported to IMPD; 543 of them involved injuries. The next year, that number jumped to 5,539 hit and run reports. The number of injuries jumped as well, to 594. By October of 2018, IMPD had already written up 4,236 hit and run reports with 398 of those reports involving injuries.”

In the face of more hit and run accidents than ever, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently signed a bill into law creating more serious penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a crash. Now, a hit and run that results in a fatality is considered to be a Level 5 felony. Before, drivers thought they would see more leniency in sentencing after leaving the scene. Today, the law clearly states that running will result in a more serious punishment.

14 Hit-and-Run Accidents a Day in Marion County? The Number Is Rising

Analyzing data records for Marion County, a noticeable spike in the total number of hit-and-run incidents is revealed. In 2007 there were a total of 5,315 hit and run accidents reported, and that number stays pretty consistent for the next seven years.

The total number jumped in 2015 to 6,016, then 7,603 in 2016 and 7,038 in 2017. That’s a 117% increase in the total number of accidents from 2014-2015 and a 126% increase from 2015-2016.

Even in the year with the lowest number of incidents (4,908 in 2011), there is still an average of 14 hit and run accidents per day. And that number appears to be on the rise.

indianapolis car accident

Reasons Drivers Leave the Scene of An Auto Accident

Why would someone leave the scene of an accident? After all, it’s unlawful and irresponsible, not to mention inhumane. The most common reasons include:

  • The driver has legal problems unrelated to the crash and does not want to have to deal with the police when they come to investigate
  • There is a warrant for the driver’s arrest
  • The driver is drunk or high
  • The driver does not have a driver’s license
  • The driver does not have current auto insurance
  • The driver is experiencing an emergency
  • Simple fear or panic

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Injury

Fortunately, most hit and run accidents do not cause personal injury. There can still be great cost associated with a hit and run, including property damage and emotional distress. Even just focusing on the number of accidents with injury, the number is rising along with the number of total accidents.

For instance, in 2007 there were 624 hit and run accidents resulting in injury. The numbers hover around that until 2016, when they jump to 801. Then, in 2017, the number drops back slightly to 741. There was a 116% increase from 2014 to 2015 and a 129% increase from 2015 to 2016.

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Death

The most shocking jump in numbers when analyzing the Marion County data is the number of hit and run accidents resulting in death. In 2007, only four hit-and-run auto accidents claimed a person’s life. By 2014 that number jumped to 14 and then jumped to 20 in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, of the 120 fatal hit and run accidents over the past 11 years, nearly half (45.83%) occurred in the last three years.

At Karpe Litigation, we’re all too familiar with the pain and suffering that can be caused by a hit and run auto accident. If you should ever find yourself in a situation where you have caused an accident, make sure to remain on the scene.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you are a victim of a hit and run auto accident, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

What Indiana is Doing to Lower Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

Ranking eighth among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, Indiana institutes “no pay, no play” laws that discourage driving with no insurance by penalizing repeat offenders.

As the average number of uninsured motorists (UM) continues to increase across America, many state governments remain concerned about the percentage of uninsured drivers in their own states – including Indiana. Many are implementing measures to help lower the averages, after studies reveal the cost to insured drivers has climbed 75% over the past 10 years.

According to InsuranceJournal.com, insured drivers or their insurance companies must pay for physical damages and health costs from an accident when an uninsured driver is at fault. What’s more, if the driver is under-insured, their policy limits may not be high enough to cover all costs.

With approximately 32 million uninsured drivers on the road (about 13% of all drivers nationwide still do not carry insurance), states like Indiana have implemented random insurance verification checks and no pay, no play laws that limit the ability of uninsured drivers to seek compensation in the event of an accident. The most current data from the Insurance Information Institute finds Indiana ranks eight among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, increasing to 16.7% from 16.0% in 2009. For comparison, Maine -which ranks 51- is one of 24 states that requires drivers to have uninsured motorist insurance. Maine also has one of the highest bodily injury liability insurance requirements of any state, at $50,000 per person.

How Fault Works in Indiana 

There’s no denying that car accidents can be expensive. The damage to your car means you will need to repair it or replace it. These things take time and you will most likely have to rent a car in order to get to work. If your injuries are extensive, you may end up missing work or be unable to return to work altogether. There are costs involved in medical treatment, follow-up therapy, medical equipment and prescription medications.

For these reasons, it is important to have insurance. Indiana law requires drivers to demonstrate “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle. In most cases, this boils down to Hoosiers purchasing car insurance.

When looking at financial responsibility and recovery, it is important to consider how fault works in Indiana. Indiana employs a “comparative fault” standard for personal injury cases.  Payment of an auto accident claimant’s total monetary damages is reduced by the percentage a jury finds the claimant at fault.  Further, Indiana automobile accident claimants will not be compensated from the other driver’s insurance unless the other driver was at least 51% at fault.

uninsured indiana drivers

The Complexities of No Pay, No Play Statues in Indiana 

Chapters 27-7-5.11 and 34-30-29.2 of the Indiana Code are commonly referred to collectively as the “no pay, no play” statutes. Under these laws, insurance companies can avoid paying non-economic damages to a repeat uninsured motorist in the case of an accident. The law is aimed at individuals with a history of driving with no insurance rather than first-time offenders.  If the claimant had no insurance at the time of the accident, and a previous citation for not having auto insurance in the previous 5 years, the limitations of this statute apply.

The various types of non-economic damages that insurance companies can avoid paying include:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Physical impairment
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship, services, and consortium
  • Any other non-pecuniary loss proximately caused by the accident

Uninsured drivers are still able to recover economic damages including medical expenses, costs of treatment and rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of economic or educational potential, loss of productivity and other pecuniary losses resulting from the accident.

Indiana’s “No Pay, No Play” laws have many nuances and can have a wide variety of effects for drivers involved in an accident. Insurance companies work hard to stay on top of regulations so they can minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay.

Other states that currently have no pay, no play insurance laws include Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota and Oregon. In most cases the no pay, no play laws allow uninsured drivers to sue for economic damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs, but limit the ability of suing for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. While these laws are meant to discourage driving without insurance, the states that have no pay, no play laws actually have a higher percentage of uninsured drivers, with 13.2% compared to 12% average for states without these laws.

Other Measure to Discourage Uninsured Drivers

In a number of states, Insurance Verification Systems have been enacted. Insurers are required to report to the state transportation authority when an auto insurance policy lapses or is cancelled. This allows the government to have a database of currently insured vehicles and gives law enforcement the ability to identify uninsured drivers. The states that currently have verification systems are Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming.

The state of Ohio has implemented a random selection program where a certain number of drivers are selected each week at random and are required to provide proof of insurance. Any driver who fails to provide proof of insurance in a given timeframe receives a random selection suspension of driving privileges.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an auto accident involving an uninsured driver, contact the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Drive Smart and Avoid Nasty Car Accidents

Indiana drivers are more distracted than ever, and we’re not alone. Learn defensive driving strategies you can use every time you’re behind the wheel and avoid an accident on the road.

safe driving tips

When driving your car on the roads and highways of Indiana, alone or with passengers, driving safety should be your top concern. It’s not only crucial that you know the basics of safe driving, you must practice them every time you’re behind the wheel, if you hope to prevent or avoid an accident like this one that occurred recently on I-70. Distracted driving is at least partly to blame for this multi-vehicle accident involving at least seven cars, semi-trailers and trucks, closing the highway and leaving two people dead.

When it comes to the worst states for distracted driving, Indiana ranks 31, with a distracted driving fatality rate of 1.08. That’s one too many per year for Indiana lawmakers, who are considering a new bill that makes holding a cellphone or any other electronic communications device in your hands while driving illegal. Laws are one way to help drive smart when you’re on the road; safe steps to drive by are another.

10 Safe Driving Behaviors to Stop Preventable Auto Accidents Before They Happen

Defensive Driving – As a defense driver, you assume other drivers might make mistakes. You are on guard in the event that other drivers make errors and watch ahead for advance warning of any hazards on the road. By watching ahead, you have enough time to avoid potential accidents.

You also learn to anticipate hazards by scanning frequently in front of traffic, as well as the side and back around the car, and adjust speed or direction to react safely to any situation. It is recommended that drivers scan ahead to where they will be in 10 to 12 seconds. For highway driving, keep your car positioned far enough from other vehicles to have enough time to successfully avoid them, if they suddenly swerve into your path. 

Right of Way – In general, the vehicle that arrives last must give right-of-way to other vehicles. Drivers should give right-of-way when entering traffic, when turning left in front of approaching traffic and when changing lanes. You should only move in your intended path or direction after assuring that you will not conflict with other traffic. Drivers should assume that other drivers will not see you when you maneuver into their path.

When pulling into traffic, proceed slowly, look and listen. Be aware of any blind spots, such as those in rearview mirrors and behind windshield pillars or highway road signs. Vehicles can seemingly appear out of nowhere so caution is the key to yielding the right-of-way.

Start-up and Back-up – When a car has been parked long enough, pedestrians and other vehicles may be resting within a few feet. Starting up forward, backward or to the right or left creates a potentially hazardous situation. Before starting the car, you should walk around the car and look underneath to make sure there is the right clearance.

After checking around your car, it is important to start up quickly before other vehicles or pedestrians approach. Start moving slowly at first to allow any vehicles or pedestrians who may have unexpectedly approached to safely move away.

Negotiating Curves – When negotiating curves at an excessive speed, cars can lose traction and slide off the road. Commercial trailers or other top-heavy vehicles risk rolling over. It is important to reduce speed before entering a curve in order to have enough time to correct direction and maintain control of the vehicle. Keep side wheels off the shoulder of the road. Side wheels may drop or sink in the shoulder, increasing the chances of an accident.

Passing – Safe passing maneuvers require well-developed skills. Drivers must make many critical decisions in a short amount of time. The steps to pass another vehicle successfully include checking sight distance ahead and mirrors for rear traffic and traffic passing you; estimating speed and position of approaching vehicles and the time needed to safely pass; accelerating, steering and checking for traffic entering on side roads. Safe drivers consider all steps quickly to prevent an accident. Safetyinfo.com recommends:

  1. Before you pass, check to be certain no one is passing you.
  2. Assume the driver in front of you doesn’t know you are passing. That driver may pull to the left to pass a vehicle in front or make a left turn.
  3. While you are passing, watch carefully for vehicles that may be entering the roadway from side roads or driveways.
  4. Assume vehicles approaching from the opposite direction will not see you or slow down for you to complete your passing maneuver.
  5. Watch out for vehicles passing other vehicles from the opposite direction.
  6. If the vehicle you are trying to pass speeds up, let it go. Don’t get in to a dangerous race.
  7. Don’t take risks. If in doubt, don’t pass.
  8. Signal your intentions to pass.

Crossing Intersections – It is probably not a surprise that a majority of car accidents happen in intersections. Vehicles coming from different directions into an overlapping space creates a reason for safe driving habits to kick in and anticipate a hazardous situation.

Count to three before entering an intersection on a green light. Look both ways to make sure other vehicles are not trying to race through a yellow light. Exercise caution when passing semi-trailers because long trucks have a considerable blind spot on their right side. If you cannot see a truck’s side mirrors, it’s unlikely that the driver can see you.

safe driving behaviors

Using and Changing Lanes – Lane use and lane changing accidents usually involve sideswiping and rear-end collisions. These are usually the result of following too closely or being inattentive of the traffic conditions ahead. Defensive driving is the best countermeasure for lane changing accidents.

Observing safe following distance and staying aware of blind spots -especially with large commercial trailers- is the best way to avoid lane changing hazards. If you cannot see ahead of the vehicle you are following, increase your following distance.

Parking – Parking on a travel lane creates a potential hazard. While in metropolitan areas drivers expect cars parked on or partially on a travel lane, drivers on rural or high-speed areas do not anticipate vehicles parked in their lane. Attention levels may be lower and there might not be enough time to react. You should try not to park in travel lanes, even partially, in order to avoid accidents. If you need to park on the shoulder of the road, always put on flashers, day or night.

Driving in Adverse Conditions – The two biggest factors causing accidents in adverse conditions are reduced traction and reduced visibility. Reduced traction conditions include rain, snow, ice, slush and gravel on roads. Reduced visibility conditions include twilight, darkness, rain, snow and fog.

To drive safely in adverse conditions, you should develop skills in compensating with speed and control of your vehicle. In addition, you should be prepared to compensate for other drivers who may not have the skills to deal with adverse conditions.

Pedestrian Interaction – Most pedestrian accidents occur when a person walks into a roadway because they misjudge how fast a vehicle is coming, they don’t see a vehicle coming or because they assume the vehicle sees them and will slow down or stop. You should be constantly aware of the potential errors a pedestrian might make and compensate accordingly.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

The safest, most defensive drivers in Indiana can still find themselves involved or injured in a car accident. The professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Safe Accident-Free Driving Means Driving Without Distractions

Every day in the United States, nine people are killed and 100 injured in accidents where the reported cause is distracted driving. To help raise awareness of this widespread danger on America’s roadways, government agencies have designated April as National Distracted Awareness Month.

dangerous drivers

What Defines Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving encompasses a variety of behaviors that generally fall into three main types:

  • Visual – the driver takes their eyes off the road.
  • Manual – the driver takes their hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive – the driver takes their mind off of driving.

Distracted driving can also be a combination of two or all three of these types. For example:

Texting – Incidents involving texting while driving are on the rise in the United States, despite efforts to raise public awareness of the issue. Taking your eyes off the road for just the few seconds it can take to look at a text is enough time to cause an accident. Obviously, the time it takes to type and send a text while driving is an even greater hazard. Taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour – without you even seeing where you’re going.

Talking on Phones – Along with texting, talking on cell phones is another area where the explosion of mobile technology is contributing to the rise of distracted driving. While hands-free models make it possible for drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, talking on phones still present a cognitive distraction, causing drivers take their minds off of driving.

Music – Playing music too loudly inhibits a driver’s ability to hear and respond to emergency vehicles and other audio cues that alert them to danger. This doesn’t mean you must drive a vehicle in silence. Keeping music at a volume where you can still hear sirens and respond accordingly can make the difference between reacting to a hazardous situation or causing one.

Passengers – When other people are in your car for the ride, it can place major demands on your attention. Turning to look at passengers when speaking to them takes your eyes off the road.

Eating – Eating and drinking any beverage while driving requires a person to take their hands off the wheel. This activity creates a dangerous situation because the driver is not fully in control of the vehicle.

Navigation Systems – Modern maps and GPS systems are very useful for drivers. However, the mapping information should be entered into the device or application before the car is in motion, rather than while driving is in progress.

Lost in Thought – The greatest percentage of distracted driving incidents resulting in death are caused by drivers who report they were “lost in thought” when the accident occurred. Drivers should remain aware of their actions, as well as the actions of other vehicles and pedestrians, at all times.

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What National Distracted Driving Awareness Month Does

To raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designates April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Safety Council. Law enforcement officers nationwide are mobilized to look out for distracted driving behaviors, such as texting and talking on cell phones. The NHTSA partners with States and local police to enforce distracted driving laws, leading the fight to keep us safe.

The NHTSA and the National Safety Council mount awareness campaigns and public service announcements to help make drivers aware that safe driving means driving without distractions. They maintain a presence on social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), sharing stories and driving tips to help save lives.

The key to the NHTSA’s efforts to educate the public on distracted driving and other risky driving efforts is their partnership with state and local police. The States determine various laws regarding driving safety that vary from State to State and the NHTSA provides Federal investments in locally-driven awareness campaigns and provides information for drivers to learn about the laws in their State.

The biggest NHTSA campaign is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month that occurs every April. During this time the NHTSA pairs nationally broadcast advertising with a locally driven crackdown called U text. U drive. U pay.

Join the Effort

Everyone can get involved in the fight against distracted driving and the effort to save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, “To prevent tragedies due to distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.”

Teens: Teen drivers are the best messengers when it comes to ending distracted driving. Teens are encouraged to speak up to their friends when they see distracted driving, to have their friends sign contracts saying they will not drive distracted and to get involved in their local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Formerly Students Against Driving Drunk, the organization encourages students to avoid making potentially destructive decisions to prevent driving accidents. Teens can share on social media to remind their friends and family about the dangers of distracted driving.

Parents: The best way for parents to contribute to teens developing safe driving behaviors is to lead by example. Parents should never exhibit distracted driving. Have everyone in the family sign a pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teens if state laws dictate, distracted driving could lead to a delayed or suspended license.

Educators and Employers: Spread the word at your school and place of business about the importance of distraction-free driving. Ask your students to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy. Encourage employees to exhibit distraction-free driving at all times as a good example to fellow drivers and young people.

The National Safety Council provides materials for promoting National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, including free posters, videos, fact sheets and more to share at your school or business.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been harmed by a distracted driver, speak with the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

What to Do If You Sustain Spinal Cord Injury in a Car Accident

Spinal cord injuries resulting from a car accident can affect every part of the body, causing permanent damage or paralysis and impeding the ability to perform daily activities.

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Every year, 17,500 Americans sustain injuries to their spinal cords. These can be the result of a sports injury, a bad fall or another type of injury, and it is often due to a car accident. Injuries to the spinal cord can result in the loss of function of arms, hands, shoulders, trunk or legs. The location of the injury on the spine determines the level of weakness or paralysis. The four groups of vertebrae in the spine each relate to specific body functions.

Car Accidents Can Cause 4 Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

1. Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1-C8

The cervical area of the spinal cord controls signals to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and diaphragm. Cervical level injuries cause weakness or paralysis to both arms and legs, leading to quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia). The cervical area of the spine is divided into high-cervical nerves (C1-C4) and low-cervical nerves (C5-C8). According to spinalinjury101.com, the specific levels of injury include:

High-Cervical Nerves (C1-C4)

  • Most severe of the spinal cord injury levels, causing paralysis in hands, arms, trunk and legs
  • Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, occurs when arms and legs are affected
  • Patients may not be able to breathe on their own, cough or control bladder and bowel functions
  • Patients’ ability to speak is reduced or impaired
  • Patients require complete care for daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating
  • Patients can achieve possible movement on their own using specially designed wheelchairs
  • Patients will not be able to drive a car

Low-Cervical Nerves (C5-C8)

  • These cervical nerves control arms and hands
  • Patients may be able to speak normally and breathe on their own
  • C5 injury
    • Patients can raise their arms and bend their elbows
    • Most likely will have total paralysis wrists, hands, trunk and legs
    • Are able to speak and breathe but most likely will be weakened
    • Need assistance with daily activities but are able to move independently with specialized wheelchairs
  • C6 injury
    • Nerves affect wrist extension
    • Patients have paralysis in hands, trunk and legs
    • May have the ability to bend wrists back
    • Can speak and breathe on their own, but with a weakened ability
    • Can move in and out of bed with assistive equipment
    • May be able to drive an adapted vehicle
    • Most likely do not have voluntary control over bladder and bowel
  • C7 injury
    • Nerves control extension of the elbow and some extension of fingers
    • Patients can straighten arms and have control of shoulders
    • Have the ability to do most daily tasks
    • May have the ability to drive an adapted vehicle
    • Little or no control over bladder and bowel
  • C8 injury
    • Nerves control some hand movement
    • Patients should have the ability to grasp and release objects
    • Are able to do most daily activities but may need assistance with more complicated tasks
    • Are able to drive in an adapted vehicle
    • Have little or no control over bladder and bowel

2. Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1-T12

Injuries to the thoracic spinal cord are less common due to the protection of the rib cage. Thoracic injuries usually do not affect arms and hands, mostly causing paralysis to the legs (paraplegia) and loss of control of bowel and bladder.

Thoracic Nerves (T1-T5)

  • Nerves affect muscles, upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles
  • Injuries usually affect trunk and legs (paraplegia)
  • Patients’ arm and hand muscles are usually unaffected
  • Most likely can use a manual wheelchair
  • May be able to drive a modified car
  • May be able to stand with a standing frame or walk with braces

Thoracic Nerves (T6-T12)

  • Nerves affect muscles of the trunk, abdominal or back (depending on the level of injury)
  • Injuries usually result in paraplegia
  • Patients’ upper body movement is not affected
  • When patients are seated, fair to good control and balance of trunk
  • If abdominal muscles are intact, are able to cough productively
  • Have little or no control of bladder and bowel
  • Are usually able to use a manual wheelchair
  • Are usually able to drive an adapted vehicle
  • May be able to stand with a standing frame or walk with braces

3-Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury L1-L5

Lumbar level injuries typically involve paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia) and loss of sensation, control over bladder and bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Shoulders, arms and hands are usually unaffected.

Lumbar Nerves (L1-L5)

  • Injuries generally result in loss of function in hips and legs
  • Patients have little or no voluntary control of bladder and bowel, but can manage on their own with special equipment
  • May need a wheelchair and may be able to walk with braces

4-Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1-S5

Sacral level injuries typically result in loss of control of the bladder and bowel, as well as sexual dysfunction. Some loss of function of the hips and legs is also possible.

Sacral Nerves (S1-S5)

  • Injuries generally affect the functioning of hips and legs
  • Little or no control of bowel and bladder
  • Most likely will be able to walk

Spinal Cord Injuries Resulting from Car Accidents are Costly

When victims of a car crash sustain spinal cord injuries, the costs can be astronomical. Medical bills and the cost of daily living while missing work can pile up quickly, and damages to the body resulting from a spinal cord injury tend to be permanent. Securing a tough and experienced legal team can help recover these costs.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or someone you love has injured their spine in a car accident, speak with the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. They are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.