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Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

The states where work vehicle drivers are safest

West Virginia residents who drive trucks or other work vehicles may be interested in the data gathered by Verizon Connect, a fleet management systems provider, as to what states are safest for people in their industry. Verizon Connect analyzed the behavior of drivers from more than 6,200 of its fleet customers, all of them small or mid-size businesses, between October 2015 and September 2017.

It found that the safest states for work vehicle drivers are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New York. In fact, the top 10 are all on the East Coast. Vermont especially had the fewest instances of lead foot. The most dangerous states were found in the Midwest and the South, including Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky and Mississippi. South Dakota was the worst for speeding.

How modified comparative negligence plays a role in your case

In some personal injury cases, one person's negligence clearly caused the injuries, and that person is 100 percent responsible. Many cases, however, are more complicated or nuanced, with both parties shouldering some of the responsibility for an accident.

West Virginia uses modified comparative negligence, meaning that if you seek remedies for your injuries, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you played in the accident. Say that a jury finds you were 20 percent responsible. Your award would then go down by 20 percent (say. from $100,000 to $80,000). This is a good thing for the most part.

Increased serum levels after head impacts

A West Virginia resident who has suffered a high-acceleration head impact may have elevated levels of two different types of serums in their body. These serums, tau and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1, are biomarkers of traumatic brain injuries and may be present even if there has been no diagnosis of a concussion. This finding is a result of a study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

Athletes who participate in American football routinely sustain head impacts that vary in degree of intensity. These hits might result in the clinical symptoms and signs of a concussion; although, it can be difficult to determine if a hit has caused a brain injury, and if it has, the severity of said injury.

Potential issues with younger commercial drivers

Some West Virginia residents may have heard of a bill that has been introduced in Congress that would allow people as young as 18 to train as commercial drivers. Although it is known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, some people have reservations about just how safe it will be.

One objection is that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that teenagers have a rate of involvement in motor vehicle accidents that is three times higher than that of drivers 20 and older. Furthermore, while teens make up 7 percent of the population, they are responsible for 11 percent of the cost of injuries from traffic accidents.

Report predicts gradual effect of driverless cars on insurance

West Virginia residents may be familiar with some of the predictions that have been made about the future of auto insurance in an age of driverless cars. A 2016 Morgan Stanley report predicts a sudden decline for the industry, estimating that by 2040, it will contract to 20 percent of its current size. However, new research predicts a different outcome.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has published a report stating that while the nature of insurance premiums may change, driverless cars will actually open up sources of revenue for those companies that are quick to adapt. Individual drivers may not need insurance, but technologies companies and manufacturers probably will. Insurers could even provide cyber insurance to protect against cars getting hacked.

Slip and falls: what they involve for small businesses

Small business owners in West Virginia probably know that maintaining a safe environment for customers and employees isn't cheap. To start with, premises liability insurance can cost $500 or more each year depending on business type and size. Owners must also spend money on routine maintenance and repairs, employee training and signage to warn others about safety hazards. If business owners face a claim, they then have to pay for a legal defense.

Although there is no such thing as total immunity, owners do have some reassurance that they are reducing the risk for slip, trip and fall accidents when they are fulfilling their duty of care. It is when they breach the duty of care that they can be held liable for another's injuries. This could mean paying for the victim's medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.

Study reveals potential role of microglia in TBI cases

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine may be of interest to anyone in West Virginia who has suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. Researchers discovered that microglia, which are certain cells that reside permanently in the central nervous system, have an important role in clearing up dead and dying cells in the brain.

In an experiment, these phagocytic cells (so called because they literally eat other cells) were found in the brains of mice with injured optic nerves. The retinal ganglion neurons had degenerated and left the brain with debris, which was being consumed by the microglia. Removing dead and dying cells is crucial because if left alone, they can become inflamed and affect neighboring neurons.

CVSA announces Brake Safety Week dates

Thousands of road users in West Virginia and around the country are injured or killed every year in accidents involving tractor-trailers, and many of these crashes are caused by trucks with poorly maintained or defective braking systems. Efforts to address this problem include the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week, which is scheduled to commence on Sept. 16. During the weeklong safety initiative, trucks will be subjected to rigorous Level I inspections and will be ordered out of service if inspectors discover barking or other safety issues that place other road users in danger.

Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reveal the scope of the problem. After inspecting 407 commercial vehicles that were involved in serious accidents between 2001 and 2003, the FMCSA discovered that almost a third of them would have been ordered off the road for brake-related violations if they had been inspected earlier. Braking system violations are also the most common reason for out of service orders during the CVSA's annual International Roadcheck safety blitz.

CMV brake inspection spree slated for September

From September 16 to 22, commercial truck drivers in West Virginia and the rest of the U.S. will undergo random brake inspections. This is part of Brake Safety Week, an annual inspection spree held by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. While last year the spree was pared down to a single day, the CVSA has returned to the weeklong format as a way to better enforce brake safety guidelines.

Truckers should ensure routine inspections of their brakes and maintain them according to their manufacturer's specifications. Failure to do so can lead to inefficient braking and, with it, a higher risk for collisions. The CVSA will mostly perform Level I inspections, which are the most comprehensive.

Celebrating responsibly during the Independence Day holiday

According to the American Automobile Association, there will be 37.5 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles from home between June 30 and July 4. However, this period of time can be among the most dangerous to be on the road. Drunk driving during the Fourth of July holiday accounted for 40 percent of all traffic deaths between 2007 and 2011. West Virginia motorists might want to know that there are around 200 traffic deaths throughout the nation during the holiday period.

Individuals who are celebrating the holiday with fireworks should also be careful. Injuries to hands and fingers are also common during this period of time due to defective products or those that are used improperly. While these injuries may not be fatal, they can still be painful. Also, food poisoning and swimming accidents are more common over the July 4 holiday period as people enjoy picnics or afternoons on the beach.

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