Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

Report calls for updating of NHTSA's car safety rating system

Newer vehicles may not be as safe as West Virginia residents think. The reason, according to one critical report, is that the current five-star safety rating system employed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is outdated. This rating system was developed back in the 1990s and is based on the results of crash testing performed in a laboratory with dummies.

One problem the report points out is that the U.S. is performing an inadequate number of crash tests. Europe, for example, performs four times as many tests before determining a safety rating, and Asia and Latin America also surpass the U.S. in this regard. The NHTSA, for its part, has promised to add test procedures and new ratings for the various safety features that have been developed in recent years, like pedestrian detection.

Study lists worst 10 cities for car accidents in 2019

A nonprofit called Go Safe Labs has ranked 10 cities with the highest number of auto accidents in 2019. The nonprofit also came up with a list of the 10 most accident-prone "hotspots" in the U.S., so drivers in West Virginia may want to read on.

Researchers noted that there was a 6.8% increase in car accidents from 2018 to 2019. A total of 953,630 accidents took place in 2019. Of these, 22,188 occurred in Houston, making this the number one city for accidents. In second place was Charlotte, North Carolina, with 21,818 accidents. Incidentally, Raleigh was on the list as well at number six with 12,846 accidents despite the fact that it saw a 25.5% decline in car crashes in 2019.

Dangers of being an in-vehicle fallback test driver

Drivers in West Virginia who are following the developments in self-driving vehicle technology should know that many automakers are hiring individuals to be in-vehicle fallback test drivers for AI-driven cars. What these people sounds simple and perhaps even enviable: They sit for hours in a car that drives itself and only intervene if the car seems headed for danger. Yet the job itself is fraught with danger.

It starts with the fact that many firms, believing that it takes little skill to be an IFTD, hire people indiscriminately. These people, perhaps unfamiliar with AI technology, will begin to overestimate it, especially during long stretches when nothing goes wrong. This, combined with the boredom of sitting and watching one's surroundings, can cause IFTDs not to react in time when something does go wrong.

TBIs: different types and treatments

Brain injuries that disrupt normal brain functions are called traumatic brain injuries, and they can be caused when the brain receives a blow, is jolted around or is penetrated. West Virginia residents who know someone who has incurred a TBI should know about the different types and degrees of TBI.

For example, there are mild TBIs, also known as concussions. Contusions are bruises, and bruised brain tissues can mix with blood released from hematoma, or localized bleeding outside of a blood vessel. Penetration injuries, such as the piercing of the brain by part of a fractured skull, can also cause a TBI. Many of these can be fatal. Thirty percent of all injury-related deaths involve a brain injury.

Spinal cord injury: From the scene to the emergency room

If you suffer a spinal cord injury, such as in a serious motor vehicle accident, it's critical to receive immediate medical treatment as to stabilize your condition and improve the likelihood of making a recovery.

Despite advancements in the treatment of spinal cord injuries, doctors have yet to find a way to reverse the damage. However, there is a standard of treatment that can help minimize the impact.

Determining who was at fault in a multi-car crash

Car crash victims in West Virginia must determine fault before they consider filing a claim against the driver they believe was responsible. It's a difficult process, especially when victims were involved in a multi-vehicle collision. There are a few ways fault could be determined in such an accident.

Let's say that three drivers were involved in a series of rear-end collisions. Driver A, at the front, may have suddenly applied the brakes to avoid danger but was rear-ended because Driver B was tailgating (a clearly negligent act). But perhaps Driver B was, in turn, being tailgated by Driver C. In that case, Driver A may hold Drivers B and C accountable. At the same time, Driver B may hold Driver C accountable despite being partially to blame for Driver A's injuries and other losses.

West Virginia motorcycle helmet bill runs out of time

Motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear a helmet in West Virginia, but that would have changed if bills recently introduced in both the Senate and the House had been passed and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice. Senate Bill 153 and House Bill 2070 would have allowed West Virginia residents who have held a motorcycle license for two years or longer and are at least 21 years of age to operate a motorcycle or ride as a passenger without a helmet.

The bills were introduced on Jan. 9 and then submitted to the Committee on Technology and Infrastructure. The measures failed to reach a vote on Jan. 20 because time ran out after two hours of questions. The delegate who sponsored the house bill claimed in a television interview that not wearing a helmet could actually make riding a motorcycle safer. He said that helmetless riders would be more aware of their surroundings and ride more carefully as they would be deprived of the feeling of invulnerability that helmets provide.

How blue light can heal patients with concussions

Researchers at the University of Arizona believe they have found an effective treatment for mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions. West Virginia residents should know that there are few treatments for mTBIs besides medicinal methods. They may be interested to find out what the treatment is.

It is called blue light exposure therapy, whereby a patient is exposed to blue light every morning. This helps re-train the circadian rhythm so that the patient begins to sleep better and more regularly. This is important because half of all mTBI patients experience sleep problems after their injury. The treatment doesn't simply solve the sleep problems, though. By improving sleep, it gives the brain more time to repair itself during that sleep, thus accelerating healing.

IIHS: rear-seat safety falls behind front-seat safety

Drivers in West Virginia may own a vehicle with all the latest crash mitigation technology. However, they may not realize that this tech usually only benefits front-seat occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling for automakers to enhance the safety of rear-seat occupants as well. This technology includes air bags and crash tensioners, which tighten seat belts in a crash.

The IIHS has studied some 117 crashes involving the death or serious injury of a (belted) rear-seat passenger aged 6 or older. Taking the findings from this analysis, the IIHS will develop new crash testing as a way to demonstrate the need for rear-seat safety.

A truck's black box may be invaluable after a crash

If you routinely travel in or around Charleston, you know how popular the area is for commercial truckers. After all, Interstates 64, 67 and 79 are major thoroughfares. While truck drivers perform an essential function, truck accidents may put your life in danger. 

While less common than other types of motor vehicle accidents, commercial truck crashes are often fatal. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 5,000 individuals died in truck accidents in 2017 alone. If you have sustained a serious injury in a commercial truck collision, the truck’s black box may prove invaluable. 

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