What are the Most Common Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents?

Most other vehicles on the road do not stand a chance against a tractor trailer. These oversized vehicles can cause devastation when involved in an accident. Resulting injuries are often serious, if not fatal. So, how do we share the road safely with large trucks? For starters, you can give them a wide berth on the road. Stay focused and drive defensively. You can also learn about some of the most common causes of tractor trailer accidents and account for this information when you are sharing the road with a tractor trailer.

What are the Most Common Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents?

There are too many different causes of tractor trailer accidents to recount at one time. The nature of these causes runs a wide range. Here, we will focus on the more common contributing causes to tractor trailer accidents. There can, of course, be more than one cause of a tractor trailer accident and it is not uncommon for multiple causes discussed here to be at play in an oversized truck accident.

First, let’s take a look at some of the external, environmental factors that can often cause a tractor trailer accident. Weather, for instance, can create unsafe roadway and driving conditions. Heavy rain, snow, and sleet can mean slick road surface. Slick road surfaces mean significantly reduced traction which, in turn, makes it more difficult to effectively stop or slow a truck down and increases the chances of a truck driver losing control over the vehicle. Furthermore, such weather conditions can severely impair the driver’s ability to see other cars and hazards.

Poorly maintained roads and confusing construction site arrangements can also lead to tractor trailer accidents. It is dangerous enough for a regular-sized vehicle to hit a pot hole on a poorly maintained road, but this danger exponentially increases with an oversized vehicle like a tractor trailer. A tire blowout caused by a pothole can lead to the truck jackknifing and sweeping out to other lanes of traffic, unable to stop hitting anything in its path.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the dangerous driving behaviors tractor trailer drivers engage in that are often the root causes of accidents. Driver fatigue, for starters, is a common cause of tractor trailer accidents. While truck drivers can put in long hours on the road, there are legal regulations in place that restrict the number of hours a truck driver can put in within a certain period of time. Unfortunately, far too many drivers ignore the restrictions and end up driving while tired. This can slow reaction time and impair judgment.

Truck drivers can also engage in reckless driving behaviors that can all too easily result in an accident. Excessive lane changing, speeding, disregarding traffic signals, and tailgating are all common causes of truck accidents. Truck drivers driving while distracted also greatly increase the chances of an accident occurring. When truck drivers check their phones, text, eat, or engage in any activity that takes their full attention away from the road, accidents happen.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Trucking accidents can have devastating results for all involved. If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, you can count on CDH Law. Contact us today.

Who is at Fault in a Lane Change Accident?

Lane change accidents can occur in a number of ways. A car may turn into a lane with a car already there. A driver may merge into a lane with a vehicle already in it. Alternately, a driver may change lanes into a lane at the same time another vehicle is already located in that precise lane spot. Regardless of what scenario you may find yourself in, a lane change accident can result in significant property damage and serious injury to all involved. As in any accident, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault in a lane change accident. Determining fault in an accident is critical as it is the legal responsibility of the at-fault party to compensate the others who were harmed by their actions. In most cases, it is usually the insurance carrier for the at-fault party who provides this compensation.

Who is at Fault in a Lane Change Accident?

It is important for drivers to be alert and aware of their surroundings. It is important that drivers comply with traffic laws and signal properly when turning, merging, or changing lanes. When drivers are distracted or engaging in negligent driving behaviors, accidents happen and people get hurt. Most lane change accidents are caused by driver inattention. These are drivers that fail to adequately check their blind spots and may even fail to notice the lights and alerts of blind spot monitor technology that often come standard in vehicles this day.

There are also a number of causes, both primary and contributing, of lane change accidents. Some such causes often include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to check mirrors
  • Failure to check blind spots
  • Failure to signal before changing lanes
  •  Driving while intoxicating
  • Broken headlights
  • Broken break lights
  • Speeding
  • Crossing multiple lanes of traffic at once
  • Drivers changing lanes at the same time

In order to determine who is at-fault for the lane change accident, a thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances of the accident will likely need to be conducted. The property damage to the vehicles can be very telling as to what happened in the accident as can the road debris and skid marks. These pieces of physical evidence can often be enough for an accident reconstruction expert to recreate what went on to cause the accident.

Witnesses can also play a critical role in determining who was at-fault for an accident. Witness accounts of the accident can either corroborate or contradict what either driver said happened in the accident. In other words, witnesses can be the tie breakers in a he said, she said situation. If you are ever in an accident, lane change or otherwise, be sure to try and get witness names and contact information as they can often provide compelling evidence. Pictures of the accident scene can also be instructive and helpful in supporting your version of events.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in an accident like a lane change accident, reach out to the trusted personal injury team at CDH Law. We will help you in your fight to pursue monetary compensation for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today.

Rear-End Collision Injuries

When a car is struck from behind by another vehicle, this is referred to as a “rear-end collision.” It often occurs at places such as intersections where one car comes to a stop or slows down to stop and the driver of the vehicle behind it is not paying attention or is going too fast to properly slow down. As a result, impact occurs. Rear-end collisions are incredibly common and can run a wide range of severity depending on factors such as speed. Unfortunately, vehicle occupants can sustain serious injuries even in what may seem to be a minor “fender bender.” Let’s take a look at some of the injuries that are commonly sustained in rear-end collisions.

Rear-End Collision Injuries 

Injuries to the cervical and lumbar spine are incredibly common in rear-end collisions. This, of course, refers to the neck and the back areas of the spinal column. The force of impact can lead to soft tissue injuries and put particular pressure on the vertebral discs. The discs act as cushions between the vertebrae so that the bones of the spine do not rub together, which can cause extremely painful friction as the bones rub together without the padding of the disc. In particular, herniated discs can arise as a result of the force of impact from a rear-end collision. Not only can this be incredibly painful, but the injury victim may also have numbness and weakness as a result. In severe cases, damage to the cervical or lumbar spine may result in paralysis.

One of the most common soft-tissue injuries that result from a rear-end collision is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are forced forward suddenly and then snap back, like a whip. Whiplash can be painful and lead to extreme soreness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back areas. A person suffering from whiplash may also experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in these areas. Dizziness and headaches are also common side effects of whiplash. 

As the force of impact from a rear-end collision can send a person’s head jolting forward, facial injuries are also common in these types of crashes. Vehicle occupants may sustain facial bruising or lacerations from their heads impacting with the steering column, dashboard, or other vehicle surfaces. In even more serious cases, vehicle occupants may be at risk of sustaining traumatic brain injuries. When the head is jolted forward, the inertia can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull causing damage to it. Traumatic brain injuries can have devastating impacts on a person and require immediate medical attention. The symptoms of the injury may not fully present themselves right away, but immediate medical care and evaluation can help properly address it.

Bone fractures are another common rear-end collision injury. While seat belts save lives, the restriction of the seat belt upon impact can lead to rib fractures. Airbag deployment can also lead to fractures. Additionally, fractures and soft tissue injuries can be sustained in the hands, wrists, and arms as a person braces for impact.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in a rear-end collision caused by someone else’s negligent driving, you have the legal right to pursue compensation against them for the harm you have suffered. The team at CDH Law is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

Be Cautious of These Summer Driving Hazards

Are you excited for the summer season? School is out. The temperatures are heating up. The memory of winter freezes is but a distant memory. It is no wonder why summer brings people out on the road. Everyone is gearing up for family road trips, backyard barbecues, and catching up with family and friends near and far. Before you hit the open road this summer, be mindful of the unique driving hazards that can come with this time of year. Proceed with caution and stay safe out there!

Be Cautious of These Summer Driving Hazards

The hallmarks of summer weather also compose some of the season’s primary driving hazards. Warmer temperatures, for instance, mean an increased risk for tire blowouts and overheated engines. The hotter weather causes the air in tires to expand which, in turn, means a risk for tire blowouts. To help avoid this, frequently check your tire pressure, and always carry a spare tire in your car. Avoid potholes and replace tires that have excessive wear. To help prevent your engine from overheating, which can lead to a breakdown or even cause a fire, check your engine coolant level as well as the condition of your hoses and belts. Should your engine begin overheating, pull over right away and call for assistance. Before restarting your car, wait for the engine to completely cool off, which takes about 30 minutes.

Warmer weather isn’t the only thing the summer season brings. It also brings rainy days and flooding. The rain can present hazards to drivers on a number of levels. First, the rain can impair visibility conditions. Second, rain creates slick roads that can lead to loss of traction, vehicle control, and ability to break in a timely manner. Additionally, many drivers get skittish in inclement weather like rain and this can lead to erratic and nervous driving behavior. While it is often best to avoid driving in inclement weather, sometimes it cannot be avoided. If you are on the road in summer rains, give more room between yourself and other vehicles and reduce your speed.

Summer also means an increased number of bicyclists, motorcycles, and pedestrians. All of which lack the basic structure and protection afforded by vehicles and all of which can be difficult to see and get lost in blind spots. If you are a driver, always double-check your blind spots. Give motorcycles a safe distance on the road. Be patient and vigilant. You could just save a life by doing so.

Teen drivers are another summer driving hazard. After all, school is out. These inexperienced drivers have the combined freedom of summer and being able to drive and they are likely to be taking advantage of it at every opportunity. This is where defensive driving becomes particularly important. While you may not be able to make teen drivers drive safer, you can be a defensive driver and try to anticipate any unsafe moves other drivers may make. Give plenty of distance, avoid aggressive maneuvers, and be mindful of the speed limit.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Stay safe out there on the road this summer. If you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else’s unsafe driving, the team at CDH Law is here to help you. Contact us today.

Take These Steps to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident

Nobody wants to have to deal with an insurance company. This may be truer than ever after you have been in a car accident. The logistics and red tape abound. The hurdles you have to jump to get access to the benefits you need can be stressful and frustrating. Taking things one step at a time, however, can help make things a bit more manageable. It all starts with filing a claim.

Take These Steps to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident

After an accident, there are two types of insurance claims that you may be able to file. There is a first-party insurance claim that you file with your own insurance company. Then, there is a third-party insurance claim that you file with the insurance carrier for another person involved in the accident, such as the at-fault driver who caused the accident.

To file a claim, you will notify the insurance company of the accident and submit the police report as soon as it is available. Doing so sooner rather than later is usually best practice. This is especially true considering there is likely to be a provision in your own insurance policy requiring you to notify your insurance company of an accident within a certain amount of time. Failure to file a claim in a timely manner can also jeopardize your ability to collect on the claim.

Upon being notified of the accident, an investigation of your claim will be launched by the insurance company. They will try to gather as much information about the accident as possible. This can include getting statements from witnesses as well as getting a statement from you. Regardless of whether a request for a statement comes from your insurance company or that of another person’s insurance company, proceed with caution. You may be contractually obligated to provide a statement to your own insurance company, but that is not true in relation to someone else’s insurance provider. Insurance companies are businesses, after all, and they are out to protect their bottom line. They will look for any weakness in your statement and any possible loopholes to try and get out of paying on your claim. Keep all answers to their questions concise and to the point. Do not speculate and, if it is someone else’s insurance company, consider not giving a statement at all.

Based on the investigation, your claim may be denied. Alternatively, the value of your claim may be calculated and a settlement amount proposed. You may accept or reject this settlement offer. There is likely an appeals process outlined in your policy. If you are unable to reach an agreeable settlement, you may have to file suit.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Don’t go up against the insurance companies on your own. The tenacious team at CDH Law is here to fight for you. Contact us today.

What Do I Do If the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement?

After your insurance company or an insurance company for another party involved in an accident is notified of said accident, the phone calls are likely to begin. Insurance companies begin contacting claimants and potential claimants right away. They are on a mission to gather as much information about the accident and resulting injuries as possible. Be warned, however, that their motivations are far from altruistic. Insurance companies will begin immediately exploring any potential way to get out of paying on a claim totally or at least in part. One of the ways they try to gather information to support a loophole is through requesting and conducting a recorded statement. If you are asked by an insurance company to give a recorded statement, proceed with caution.

What Do I Do If the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement?

After a crash, it is not uncommon for your insurance carrier and the insurance carrier for the at-fault party to request a recorded statement with you. The best course of action when you receive such a request is likely to be ignore it or outright deny it. The insurance carrier for the at-fault party will often request recorded statements from everyone involved in the accident, injury victims included. As previously stated, the main motivation of this insurance carrier is often, if not always, to use recorded statements as a means of finding some way to get out of paying on accident claims. They will even look for ways to blame you, the accident victim.

While you are under no obligation to provide the at-fault carrier with a recorded statement, you may have a contractual obligation to comply with a recorded statement request from your own insurance carrier. In that case, you would have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. Refusing to comply with the request for a recorded statement, should it violate the terms of your contract with your insurance carrier, is likely to result in your carrier denying the payment of benefits.

During a recorded statement, a representative from the insurance carrier, likely to be an insurance adjuster, will call you and begin with questions relating to basic identifying information such as your name and birthdate as well as your address. The line of questioning is then likely to turn to details surrounding how the accident happened and any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. Be sure to only answer the question you were asked. Keep your answers as simple and direct as possible.

Saying as little as possible is usually best practice for recorded statements. Avoid speculating. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification instead of trying to guess what was meant by it. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply say that you do not know the answer.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

Interactions with insurance companies can be stressful. This can be especially true if your right to full and fair compensation for accident injuries is at stake. The team at CDH Law is not intimidated by insurance companies. We stand up to them to fight for our clients. Contact us today.

What are Compensatory Damages?

Being injured in an accident can take its toll physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Medical bills can reach staggering heights. You may be missing out on work due to your injuries and necessary recovery period. All of this can compound to spell significant stress for your finances. Through a personal injury claim, fortunately, you may be able to recover full and fair compensation for the financial toll, as well as other harm, sustained as a result of the accident caused by the negligence of someone else. The bulk of a personal injury award is, most times, compensatory damages. We’ll take a closer look at compensatory damages, what they are, and what they include here.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

For the losses sustained and the harm suffered in an accident, compensatory damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff. In fact, compensatory damages are often awarded in civil cases where the negligence or recklessness of someone else has resulted in another sustaining a loss. Compensatory damages will likely be awarded when the plaintiff, the injured party, can prove negligence on the part of the defendant. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that duty was breached, and the breach of that duty was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff sustaining damages.

The plaintiff must be able to quantify or put a number, on the amount of damages or loss sustained as a result of the defendant’s negligence. The appropriately named compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for that which was lost and suffered as a result of the accident. The bulk of a compensatory damage award is likely to include medical bills, among other costs incurred as a result of being injured in the accident. Things included in a compensatory damage award may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Increases in living expenses

Transportation to and from such things as doctors’ appointments are also compensable in a personal injury claim. Costs associated with home care for injury victims as well as modifying a home to meet the needs of a person physically disabled by their accident injuries are also compensable.

The above-mentioned damages are considered to be economic damages includable in a compensatory damages award. They are referred to as economic damages because they represent easily quantifiable economic losses sustained by the plaintiff. There are also non-economic compensatory damages available in most personal injury claims. Non-economic damages pose just as real an impact on the injury victim but can prove exceedingly difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of opportunity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

It is important to remember that compensatory damages will likely make up the bulk, if not all, of the available damages in a personal injury case. In some cases, punitive damages may be available, but this is pretty rare. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for harm suffered. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior that resulted in harm suffered by the plaintiff. Punitive damages are meant to deter such conduct from occurring again.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

The team at CDH Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve for harm suffered in an accident. Contact us today.

New York is a No-Fault State. What Does that Mean?

In order to get a license plate and the ability to legally drive their vehicle on public roads, New York car owners must register their vehicle with the state. During the registration process, the vehicle owner must provide proof of financial responsibility. Financial responsibility can be established with proof that the owner has enough out-of-pocket savings to cover injuries resulting from an accident, but, more commonly, it is established with proof of no-fault insurance in a minimum amount of $50,000 coverage per person. This is why New York is considered to be a no-fault insurance state, but what does no-fault really mean?

New York is a No-Fault State. What Does that Mean?

New York requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance cases, with limited exceptions. No-fault insurance coverage is also known as “personal injury protection” insurance, or “PIP.” PIP coverage pays out to the policyholder regardless of who is at fault for an accident resulting in injuries. There is no need to prove that anyone was negligent in causing the accident when trying to access PIP benefits. Regardless of who was at fault, the PIP policyholder will be entitled to certain benefits.

PIP benefits can cover certain losses resulting from an accident. These benefits may include coverage for things such as medical expenses and lost wages. PIP benefits can provide critical financial support after an accident. The fact that no-fault has to be proven to access these benefits means that they are usually available fairly fast. PIP benefits, however, may not be enough to cover all of your losses. In this case, you may also be able to file a claim against the person, or their insurance carrier, who caused the accident.

In order to file a PIP claim, you must provide your insurer with written notice within 30 days of the accident. The claim is filed with the insurance company providing coverage to the vehicle that was involved. Any passenger of the vehicle involved in the accident may file a claim against the PIP policy as can any member of the insured’s household if injured as a pedestrian. The claimant must be sure to comply with the 30-day time limit as this time frame is rarely extended. Sometimes, if the claimant can provide written proof of a reasonable justification for the delay, then there may be a time extension granted.

The written statement that must be provided to the insurance company within 30 days of the accident must detail as much about the accident as possible. The time, date, and location of the accident should be provided as well as other circumstances surrounding the accident.

Syracuse Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you been injured in an accident? Talk to the team at CDH Law about your options for accessing financial compensation for the losses you have sustained. Contact us today.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you have been injured, harmed, or suffered due to receiving negligent medical care, you may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim. You see, medical professionals, owe patients a duty of care commensurate with that expected of similarly situated medical professionals of the same field and of comparable geographical locations, among other relevant factors. Those doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who fail to uphold such a duty can cause serious and lifelong harm to patients who trusted them with their well-being. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, however, certain elements must be met with legally sound evidence.

Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice refers to a legal claim based on the action or omission of a medical professional that deviates from the accepted medical standard of practice that results in harm to a patient. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must be able to establish four elements:

  • Duty:  The medical professional, oftentimes a doctor, must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This is commonly established easily just by demonstrating that the doctor-patient relationship existed. When a medical professional is responsible for providing some type of evaluation, treatment, or care for a person, the duty element is usually established. The duty itself refers to a duty to act within an applicable standard of care which will be discussed in more detail in the next element.

 

  • Breach: The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the health care professional breached the relevant standard of care. In medical malpractice claims, the applicable standard of care is the level of care that a similarly situated medical professional would have provided under comparable circumstances. The standard of care takes into account things such as the specialized knowledge the doctor should have had, among other relevant factors. In medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is typically needed from other medical professionals in order to establish the standard of care that should have been exercised and to support a claim that the relevant standard was breached.

 

  • Causation: The breach of the duty of care owed by the health care professional to the patient must have been the direct cause or a contributing factor to some harm suffered by the patient. This may have been an exacerbation of a preexisting condition or the development of a new medical issue in the patient, among other things.

 

  • Damages: The plaintiff must also be able to prove that he or she suffered damages as a result of the health care professional’s breach of duty. In medical malpractice cases, compensable damages may include things like medical expenses, the cost of future medical care, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses sustained as a result of the medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice can take many forms including:

  • Surgical mistakes
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis
  • Birth errors
  • Prescription errors 

In any of these forms, the same four elements must be established.

Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you have been hurt due to negligent medical care, the dedicated team of medical malpractice attorneys at CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

What You Need to Know About TBIs and Personal Injury Claims

Head trauma is a common result of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Upon impact, a person’s head can be jolted forward into the steering column, the dashboard, or even pushed to the side and impact with the window, door, or side of the vehicle. With head trauma comes the possibility of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs range in severity from mild to severe. Regardless, it is important that you monitor any potential TBI symptoms after an accident and be clear with your treating physicians about what you are experience so that you can get the care you need. There are also some unique issues that can come up regarding TBIs and personal injury claims which we want to go into more detail here.

What You Need to Know About TBIs and Personal Injury Claims

While serious, TBIs can also be incredibly sneaky. An accident victim who sustained a TBI may not experience symptoms until several days or week later. This means that many TBIs go undiagnosed, untreated, and unaccounted for in personal injury claims. After an accident with a head injury, be sure to monitor any potential TBI symptoms for several weeks after the accident. Be forthcoming with your doctor about any behavioral or physical changes you may notice following the accident. It is a good idea to become well-versed in some of the potential symptoms you may experience if you have sustained a TBI so you know what to look out for.

With a mild TBI, you may experience:

  • Difficulties with coordination
  • Excessive sleep
  • Depression
  • Changes in mood
  • Violent outburst
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble gathering your thoughts
  • Loss of smell
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Seizures

With a moderate to severe TBI, a person commonly will lose consciousness for over an hour.

Within days, a person who has sustained a moderate to severe TBI may experience:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Chronic nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty walking
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Combative behavior

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to share it with your doctor. You can get the medical support you need for your TBI.

In addition to getting the proper medical care you need, identifying and receiving treatment and support for your TBI as soon as possible will also help preserve the full and fair value of any personal injury claim you might pursue after the accident. Getting immediate, consistent treatment for your accident injuries is critical to preserving the value of your claim. Medical records act as primary evidence in a personal injury case. A TBI can have far reaching physical, mental, and emotional impacts on a person’s life. It can not only disrupt your health, but also your emotional state of being and impact your state of mind as well as your relationships and what activities you are able to participate in and enjoy. These losses are all compensable in a personal injury claim. They should, however, be supported by solid medical evidence, as well as documentation such as a journal you have kept tracking your symptoms.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been in an accident, take stock of how you are feeling and any symptoms you may be experiencing. TBIs can be difficult to diagnose and your doctor will need your help to understand what you have been feeling. For help with the fight to pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries, get the team at CDH Law by your side. Contact us today.