Self-driving vehicles are not a new concept, but they are a relatively new reality. The technology is not yet perfect, with glitches and malfunctions that have cost lives. The first recorded death involving a self-driving car occurred in Tempe, Arizona in 2018, when the driverless technology failed to detect a crossing pedestrian. The vehicle struck and killed the pedestrian when she tried to cross the street. When a driverless vehicle gets into an accident, the question of liability can be a difficult one to answer. Fault may come down to the vehicle manufacturer, the human behind the wheel or many other parties.
The Vehicle Manufacturer
The manufacturer of the self-driving vehicle has a legal responsibility to ensure the product’s reasonable safety. While this does not mean guaranteeing zero accidents, it does mean taking steps a reasonable and prudent manufacturer would take in the same situation to prevent collisions. This could include properly testing the self-driving software technology and conducting crash tests before releasing the vehicle to the public. It could also mean repairing any known defects or issues with the technology in a timely manner.
If the designer, manufacturer or distributor of the driverless vehicle released a defective product, it could be strictly liable for crash victims’ damages. Strict product liability means the victim of a collision does not have the burden to prove the defendant’s fault. The manufacturer would be legally responsible even if it was not negligent during the design or creation of the defective vehicle. The plaintiff in a strict product liability claim would only have to show that the self-driving vehicle contained a defect and that it caused the accident.
The Software Designer
If it was the self-driving software that glitched and caused the accident specifically, the software company could be liable for the crash instead of the car’s manufacturer (if they are two separate companies). Self-driving software defects have been behind multiple deaths involving driverless vehicles in recent years, as well as many injuries. In most of these crash cases, the driverless software did not perform as expected to detect oncoming vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians and properly apply the vehicle’s brakes. In these situations, the software designer could be legally at fault for crash victims’ damages.
A Human Supervisor
A driverless vehicle accident could trace back to the fault of its human supervisor. Most self-driving vehicles are not entirely self-driving – they carry drivers that still have the responsibility to supervise the autonomous technology and intervene to avoid an accident, if necessary. If the vehicle makes a tone warning the driver to take over, for example, the human supervisor should step in to take control of the car until the hazard or issue has passed. Failure to properly supervise the technology and react could point to fault on the vehicle’s occupant.
Although self-driving technology is advanced, manufacturers have not perfected it enough to take over for humans entirely. It is still up to vehicle occupants to pay attention, obey the vehicle’s warnings and immediately react to changing roadway conditions. If the driver behind the wheel of an autonomous car or truck was texting, watching videos, chatting, eating, or otherwise too distracted or negligent to promptly react to hazards, the driver could absorb liability for a resultant collision.
A Third-Party Driver
Some self-driving vehicle accidents have nothing to do with the self-driving vehicle or its human occupants. Third-party drivers can make mistakes and crash into driverless cars as they would other vehicles. In these situations, the third-party driver could be responsible for paying for damages. Victims in these accidents would seek restitution from the at-fault party’s insurance provider as they would after any other type of car crash in Nebraska.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Liability for your self-driving vehicle accident will depend on its cause and the factors at play. It can be a complicated matter that requires a full investigation. The vehicle manufacturer, software company, human supervisor, another driver or many other parties could owe you compensation for your damages after a self-driving car accident in Nebraska. Work with an Orange County car accident attorney near you to investigate your recent auto accident and determine fault. A lawyer will understand the unique laws surrounding self-driving vehicles, as well as how to navigate an accident claim. A lawyer can also help you fight for full damage recovery.
Of the many different types of auto collisions, a broadside accident is one of the most dangerous. In a broadside accident, one vehicle strikes the broadside – the side, not the front or rear – of another. Other names for broadside accidents are T-bone collisions or side impacts. Determining liability can be difficult after a broadside accident. Proving fault is not always easy.
Unique Factors in a Broadside Accident
Broadside accidents might not be unique, but they pose unique threats to victims. The way a T-bone crash occurs can seriously injure occupants of both vehicles. A broadside accident can cause catastrophic injuries to the driver or person on the passenger side of the vehicle depending on which side of the car gets struck. It can also seriously injure the driver in the vehicle doing the broadsiding. For this driver, the mechanics of the car accident are similar to a head-on collision. A broadside accident can cause many serious injuries.
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain and head injuries
- Lacerations from broken glass
- Neck or back injuries
- Herniated disks or spinal cord damage
- Crush-related injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Catastrophic injuries could make a victim eligible for greater compensation than a claim after a minor car accident. Catastrophic injuries are those that could permanently affect the victim, such as paralysis or brain damage. T-bone accidents often lead to life-altering injuries due to the frame of the impacted vehicle crushing inward or crumpling. Passengers sitting on the side of the vehicle struck are more at risk of severe injuries than passengers elsewhere in the vehicle.
Common Causes of Broadside Accidents
Side-impact collisions are most common at intersections. Where two lanes of traffic flowing in opposite directions intersect, one driver might break the rules and end up in the other driver’s lane at the wrong time. This could happen if one driver runs a red light at an intersection, for example. Many different things could cause a broadside accident.
- Red-light running
- Ignoring a stop sign
- A malfunctioning traffic signal
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
- Drowsy driving
- Ignoring the right-of-way
- Making an illegal left turn
- Passing illegally
- Bad weather/hydroplaning
After a broadside accident, the police might issue a ticket for a traffic infraction to one or both drivers – typically, the driver that did not have the right-of-way. This could serve as evidence against the driver during an injury claim later. Then, an insurance company may investigate the side-impact crash for signs of negligence or fault. Hire an accident lawyer to serve your best interests during a T-bone accident investigation and injury claim.
Who Is At Fault?
Nebraska is a fault-based insurance state, making it necessary to identify the at-fault party before you can file a car accident insurance claim. Broadside accidents typically trace back to the negligence of one of the drivers. In most cases, one of the drivers should not have been where he or she was when the collision happened. Had the driver obeyed traffic laws and driven prudently, he or she would not have struck the side of the other vehicle. It is up to the victim of the T-bone accident (or surviving loved ones) to identify the party at fault for the collision, often with assistance from investigators or attorneys.
If another driver caused your broadside accident or a loved one’s death, his or her insurance provider may offer you a check for your damages. Insurance benefits can help you pay for medical costs and vehicle repairs. If the insurance company disputes fault, however, or you have severe injuries, you may need to take your claim to court. Bringing a legal cause of action against the at-fault driver may be necessary to obtain fair compensation depending on the scenario. An Omaha personal injury lawyer can help you determine fault for your broadside accident, navigate an insurance claim and/or bring a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
Getting into a car accident in your own state, where you are familiar with the crash laws and insurance system, can be difficult enough. If you are traveling through another state and get into a vehicle collision, you might not know how to bring an insurance claim or recover compensation. The good news is your vehicle insurance follows you to other states. The bad news is you could end up in a legal battle in the state where your accident occurred.
Follow the Same Steps as a Crash in Your State
In the beginning, take the same steps as you would after a car accident in your home state. Stop your vehicle at the scene, check yourself and others for injuries, obtain the other driver’s information, take photographs, and go to the hospital. Call the police if your car accident caused injuries or expensive property damage. The threshold for mandatory police reporting is $500 to $1,500 in property damages, in most states. If you are unsure whether your crash is serious enough, call the police anyway. A police report could serve as evidence for your claim later.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Call your automobile insurance provider as soon as possible after a crash in another state. Your insurance will cover your damages regardless of the state where the crash occurred. The state’s fault laws, however, could determine whether you will seek compensation from your insurer or the other driver’s insurer. For the most part, the laws in the state where the accident occurred will apply to the case. If you crash in a no-fault state, call your own provider regardless of fault. In a fault state, the insurance company of the driver that caused your wreck will be responsible.
Your insurance might not cover you, however, if you crossed the border into another country. Traveling into Mexico, for example, would generally mean your insurance company refusing to pay for your damages after a crash. You must pay for special coverage if you plan on crossing the border. If you move to another state permanently, your insurance company might also deny your claim. You must purchase insurance in that state shortly after moving.
When speaking to car insurance companies, report your collision and answer any questions asked. Do not admit fault for the car accident and do not give away more information than asked. Stick to the facts and do not agree to give a recorded statement. The claims adjuster may try to convince you to give a statement or claim fault. Do not do either if you wish to protect your rights. If you are not comfortable speaking with an adjuster on your own, contact a car accident lawyer to do so for you.
Consult With an Attorney
A car accident attorney could help you negotiate your case and obtain fair compensation, whether your wreck occurred in your home state or another state. A lawyer can help you determine fault, gather evidence, and take the other steps necessary to obtain compensation for your medical bills, vehicle repairs and lost wages. After a crash in another state, you should hire a lawyer with a license in that state. A lawyer from your state might not have the ability to take your claim unless he or she also has a license in the state where your accident occurred. Many attorneys have licenses in adjacent states.
If you already have a lawyer at home, call to find out if he or she can take your out-of-state car accident claim. If not, hire a lawyer in the state where the accident occurred. In the event that you need to take the defendant to trial (or if the other driver tries to bring a claim against you), the court process will occur either in the state where the accident occurred or the state where the defendant lives. Find an Orange County car accident attorney that provides services in that state for legal assistance with your case.
Lane splitting refers to riding between two lanes of same-direction traffic on a motorcycle, rather than keeping only in one lane. Motorcyclists may try to lane split to pass slower-moving vehicles in heavy traffic. Lane splitting is an illegal traffic maneuver for motorcyclists in every state except California and Utah. It is not legal to lane split on a motorcycle in Nebraska. Doing so could mean a traffic infraction and fines, as well as civil liability if the motorcyclist causes a motorcycle accident.
Why Do Motorcyclists Lane Split?
Lane splitting became a subject of debate in many states due to motorcyclists advocating for the right to ride between lanes. Many motorcyclists believe lane splitting is a safe and effective way to avoid traffic on busy streets and highways. Some motorists also support the practice, believing lane splitting could help clear traffic congestion. Many motorcyclists also believe lane splitting could help them avoid rear-end collisions. Stopping a motorcycle between two vehicles helps prevent an oncoming vehicle from being able to rear-end the motorcyclist.
People who are against lane splitting assert that it is a dangerous practice that can risk the lives of motorcyclists and other roadway users. Those opposed to lane splitting often believe it puts motorcyclists too close to other motor vehicles, increasing the risk of accidents. Drivers may also be afraid to switch lanes for fear of striking a fast-moving motorcycle riding between the lanes.
In 2016, California became the first state to remove the language in its traffic laws prohibiting lane splitting. Lawmakers voted on the bill after a study from Berkeley announced the relative safety of lane splitting when done prudently. After California moved to legalize lane splitting, Utah followed with the passing of a modified lane filtering bill. Lane splitting on a motorcycle remains illegal in every other state. Nebraska’s motorcycle laws state that no one can operate a motorcycle between two or more lanes of traffic or between two rows of vehicles.
State law also says no motorcycle operator may overtake or pass in the same lane as the vehicle he or she is passing. It is against the law for a motorcyclist to share a lane with a motor vehicle. However, two motorcyclists may share a lane. According to Nebraska’s motorcycle handbook, riders should maintain center-lane positions. This is especially important when surrounding drivers are trying to pass, to keep the motor vehicle at a safe distance away from the motorcycle. Otherwise, drivers may try to squeeze past the motorcycle and get too close.
In Nevada, traffic laws assert that lane splitting can leave a motorcyclist vulnerable to accidents, including a door opening or a vehicle suddenly turning. Nevada prohibits lane splitting and suggests all motorcyclists discourage lane sharing by others. Nebraska is one of many states that explicitly prohibits motorcycle lane splitting in the language of its laws. Several other states do not address lane splitting in its statutes, either to legalize it or make it illegal. Currently, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are considering legislation that could legalize lane splitting. Nebraska currently has no such bills underway.
Will Lane Splitting Place Accident Liability With the Motorcyclist?
If a motorcyclist in Nebraska breaks state law and rides between two rows of cars, he or she could be liable for a related vehicle collision. The driver could argue that the motorcyclist breached a duty of care by breaking the state’s lane-splitting law and that this is what caused the collision. If an insurance company or the courts agree with the driver, the motorcyclist may have to pay for the driver’s damages – including medical bills and vehicle repairs – out of pocket or through his or her automobile insurance. The motorcyclist may also have to pay for his or her own crash injuries, even if they are worse than the driver’s. Avoiding lane splitting is the best way for motorcyclists in Nebraska to protect themselves and their rights.
Texting and driving is a major cause of injury and fatal car accidents in the U.S. It is a common source of driver distraction in Nebraska and around the country. In 2017, distracted drivers caused car accidents that took a total of 3,166 lives. The known risks of distracted driving, and especially texting and driving, has led many states to pass laws related to banning cellphone use behind the wheel. Nebraska is one of them.
The Risks of Texting and Driving
Texting and driving checks off all three forms of driver distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. Looking down at a cellphone and pressing its buttons can slow reaction times, making it impossible for a driver to stop quickly enough to prevent a collision. Reading messages also distracts a driver mentally, impairing judgment and reflexes. Looking down at a message for five seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of crossing a football field blindfolded, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting and driving can be just as dangerous as driving drowsy or impaired.
Texting and Driving Is Illegal in Nebraska
No driver in the state of Nebraska may use a handheld wireless communication device of any kind to send, read or write text messages. The language of the law is broad enough to ban all types of written communication, including texts, instant messages, social media posts, and emails. It is illegal to read, manually type or send any kind of written communication while operating a motor vehicle.
For the purposes of the law, operating a motor vehicle includes any time the vehicle has come to a temporary stop, such as at a stop sign or red light. Parking the vehicle, however, will enable a driver to read or send electronic messages without breaking the law. The fine for breaking Nebraska’s texting and driving law is $200 to $500. Breaking the law will also put three points on a driver’s record. Enough points can result in consequences such as a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
A few important exceptions to the texting and driving rule exist. A driver may text behind the wheel in an emergency situation, for example, or if the driver is a medical professional, police officer or emergency service personnel on official duty. Devices permanently affixed to the motor vehicle, hands-free devices, and voice-operated devices are also exceptions to the rule. All texting violations in Nebraska are secondary, meaning the police need another reason to stop a driver. An officer can only write a texting and driving citation if another violation motivated the stop.
Cellphone Calls Illegal for Some Drivers
Drivers that owe additional responsibilities to public safety, such as commercial vehicle drivers and school bus drivers, have stricter cellphone laws the must obey. In addition to being unable to text and drive, these drivers also may not make phone calls from handheld wireless communication devices. They cannot use handheld devices for any reason while driving, except in emergencies or to input navigation information. Texting and driving is a serious traffic violation for commercial and school bus drivers. Getting two or more such violations can lead to the loss of driving privileges for commercial drivers.
Repercussions for Causing an Accident While Texting and Driving
Causing a car accident while breaking Nebraska’s texting and driving law could lead to civil and criminal penalties. The driver may receive a reckless driving citation or criminal charges for more serious cases. In crashes involving catastrophic injuries or deaths, for example, the distracted driver could face a vehicular manslaughter charge for wanton disregard for the safety of others. The driver would also be civilly liable for all victims’ damages. Civil liability means the driver must pay for all related losses, including medical bills, property repairs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. No driver should ever text and drive, for his or her safety and the safety of others.
Many people assume that because pedestrians are the road’s most vulnerable users, they do not have any responsibilities in terms of safety or roadway rules. While pedestrians are at the greatest risk of injury in accidents, they still have traffic laws they must obey. Nebraska has state and municipal laws outlining pedestrian responsibilities when navigating the streets and sidewalks. Before you decide to walk or jog around Nebraska, learn your duties to help prevent an accident.
Know the Rights-of-Way
Pedestrians do not automatically bear the right-of-way. Like other roadway users, they must yield the right-of-way when appropriate. Even when the road has a crosswalk, pedestrians do not always have the right to cross. Many pedestrian accidents occur when the person walking or jogging mistakenly believes he or she has the right-of-way and steps out into traffic. Similarly, many drivers struggle with understanding rights-of-way and may try to turn left or right into crossing pedestrians. Learn Nebraska’s right-of-way laws to keep yourself and others safe.
- At signalized crosswalks and intersections. If the intersection has a pedestrian traffic control device, you may only proceed into the crosswalk when the WALK or pedestrian icon appears. Do not start crossing if you see a flashing red hand or a DON’T WALK signal.
- At crosswalks and intersections without signals. Without a traffic control device, you have the right of way to cross. However, you may not step out in front of a vehicle if it does not have enough time to stop. You must give oncoming vehicles the right of way if they are approaching fast enough to constitute a hazard.
- At places other than intersections. Try to only cross the street at intersections. You do not have the right-of-way when crossing anywhere other than a crosswalk or intersection (jaywalking). You must stay on the curb and wait until the road is clear to cross.
The safest place to cross the street is at a corner. Marked and unmarked intersections are safer than crossing midblock. When in doubt, stand safely on the curb until oncoming vehicles pass or come to complete stops. Make eye contact with drivers, if you can, to make sure they see you. Do not step out from behind a parked vehicle, hedge, sign or another obstacle, as oncoming drivers may not see you. Always watch for pedestrians and crosswalks signals and obey them when in use. When crossing a street with multiple lanes, make sure the cars have stopped in each lane before proceeding.
It is also a pedestrian’s duty to pay attention to the road or sidewalk. Just as a driver must watch the road when driving, a pedestrian has a responsibility to watch where he or she is going. As a pedestrian, you should always look at traffic signs and signals, be aware of your surroundings, watch for cars, and pay attention to where you are walking. Do not listen to headphones, talk on the phone or look down at your cellphone as you walk. Listen to the sounds of approaching vehicles. Do not assume it is safe to cross just because the person next to you steps out into the road. Never try to walk home after drinking alcohol. Pedestrian intoxication is a leading cause of accidents. Trust a sober friend to drive you home, take the bus, or hail a cab or Uber vehicle.
It is generally against the law for a pedestrian to walk in the street if a sidewalk or pedestrian passageway is available. It is also unsafe. Always use a sidewalk if one is available. Walk in the direction opposing traffic, so you are facing oncoming vehicles. This can give you time to react and move out of the way if you see a vehicle about to strike you. If you have to walk in the street, stay as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible. Get to a street that has a sidewalk as soon as you can.
If you’ve been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, contact the Omaha pedestrian accident lawyer at Knowles Law Firm today.
Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Nebraska, but it can also be highly dangerous. Not all drivers respect bicyclists’ rights to the road. Many people drive distracted, drowsy, drunk or otherwise unable to safely control a vehicle. Unsafe drivers can lead to catastrophic and fatal collisions with bicyclists. In 2018, Nebraska recorded 238 bicyclist accidents, with dozens of injuries and no deaths. The right hook is one of the most common accidents impacting cyclists in Omaha.
How a Right Hook Can Happen
A right hook accident refers to a motorist striking a bicyclist headed in the same direction by turning right into the bicyclist. The most common circumstance leading to a right hook accident is a motor vehicle driver passing a bicyclist going in the same direction and then making a right turn. This can cause the vehicle to collide with the biker or the bicyclist to crash into the side of the car. Drivers may misjudge the speed of a bicyclist or the distance between the two vehicles. As the vehicle slows to make the turn, however, the bicyclist often has a chance to catch up so the two are at the intersection at the same time. Distracted drivers may not notice they passed a bicyclist at all.
- A vehicle turns right directly into a bicyclist, colliding head-on with the biker.
- A vehicle turns right in front of a bicyclist, causing the biker to collide with the side of the vehicle.
- The bicyclist passes a slow vehicle on the right, then the car turns right into the biker.
- Both vehicles are waiting at a red light. When the light changes, the motorist turns right into the bicyclist.
A right hook accident can seriously injure or even kill a bicyclist. A vehicle colliding with a bicycle can mean injuries for the bicyclist such as skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, back injuries, road rash, cuts and scrapes, and internal organ damage. An injured biker may need weeks or months to recover or could suffer permanent disabilities, on top of medical expenses and bicycle replacement. A right hook accident could easily be fatal for the biker depending on the nature of the collision.
How to Avoid a Right Hook Accident
Both parties often have the power to prevent a right hook accident. A driver should drive prudently around bicyclists and always keep his or her eyes on the road, scanning for bicyclists on all sides of the vehicle. If the motorist is driving to the left of a bicycle riding in the road or a bike lane, the motorist should wait for the bicyclist to safely pass or come to a stop before making a righthand turn. A driver should always use a turn signal in advance, scan the road behind and to the right of the vehicle, and make sure it is clear to turn before making the maneuver. As a general rule, motorists should avoid passing bicyclists at all before turning.
Bicyclists can also help prevent right hook accidents. A biker can ride in the center of the road (when no bike lane is available) to make it more difficult for a vehicle to pass right before making a turn. Bicyclists should not pass vehicles on the right, but instead slow down behind a vehicle that slows down in anticipation of a turn, even if the motorist does not have a turn signal on. If the vehicle does not turn or speed up, the biker should pass it to its left, not its right. A bicyclist can pass to the right, cautiously, only if the vehicle has stopped, and only while watching for opening car doors. Bikers should try to ride behind other vehicles, not in their blind spots to the left or right of the car. A bicyclist should leave room to brake in case the car turns right.
If you’ve been injured in a right hook accident, contact the Omaha pedestrian accident attorney at Knowles Law Firm today!
Any car accident can be frightening; even minor accidents with insignificant property damage. A minor accident can still have enough force to inflict serious harm to occupants. Unfortunately, insurance companies can make it more difficult to recover compensation for low-impact car accidents, even if you suffered serious or life-changing injuries. You may need a car accident attorney in Omaha to help you work through your claim and go up against insurance companies on your behalf.
Common Injuries in Low-Impact Crashes
Thousands of car accidents in Nebraska each year are low impact, meaning the vehicle was traveling under 10 miles per hour. The gravitational forces in an accident – even while traveling at a low speed – can still be enough to cause injuries to the vehicle’s occupants. In every car accident, three collisions happen – the vehicular collision, the human collision, and the internal collision. The human collision refers to the occupant’s body connecting with objects inside the vehicle. The internal collision is the organs impacting other organs or the skeletal frame.
A low-impact crash can still impart enough kinetic force into vehicle occupants to cause significant human and internal collisions. The occupants will accelerate faster than the vehicle, leading to them absorbing most of the force of the impact. This can cause injuries such as blunt force trauma, bruises, contusions, concussions, and lacerations. If a low-impact crash is enough to whip the victim’s upper body forward and backward, he or she could also suffer serious neck and back injuries.
The spine is a sensitive part of the body that is prone to serious injuries in auto accidents of all calibers. One of the most common and potentially serious low-impact crash injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is the straining or injuring of the tendons and ligaments of the neck. The soft tissues of the neck often cannot withstand the forces of a low-impact accident. Whiplash generally occurs when the head and neck rapidly move back and forth due to the impact of a collision. Rear-end car accidents most commonly produce impact forces that injure the occupant’s neck.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Low-Impact Accident?
Car accident attorneys do not only represent victims of serious, high-speed or deadly collisions. They represent victims of crashes of all kinds, including people injured in low-impact collisions. You might need a lawyer’s assistance after a low-speed accident if you suffered a personal injury such as whiplash, a back injury, slipped disk, pulled muscle or torn ligament. These are potentially serious injuries that could cause chronic pain and long-term disabilities. They are the types of injuries that deserve attention from attorneys.
If you had a preexisting injury a low-impact accident worsened, you may need a lawyer’s help for insurance negotiations. Insurance companies often try to deny claims involving preexisting injuries, when in reality the party that caused the accident should be responsible for all your related losses – including the exacerbation of a preexisting condition. Do not let an insurance company convince you that a preexisting injury will negatively affect your claim. Use a lawyer to negotiate a fair and full compensatory award despite preexisting conditions and/or the low impact of the crash. The same rule applies to cases involving vulnerable parties such as children or the elderly.
Another reason to hire an attorney is for proof of injury. An auto insurance company will ask for proof that you sustained the injuries you are claiming to have suffered. Since low-impact accidents can injure the soft tissues, injuries may not appear on imaging scans or x-rays. This can make it more difficult to obtain proof of your injuries to show to an insurance provider. If you hire an attorney, he or she could help you prove your case through means such as medical documents, expert witnesses, testimony from your family members and crash reconstruction. Using a lawyer to navigate your low-impact crash claim could ensure you do not settle for less than your injuries are worth.
Whiplash is a type of neck strain injury that commonly occurs in car accidents. It can cause temporary disabilities as well as long-term complications, including chronic pain. Whiplash could require weeks of medical treatments and time spent away from work, resulting in lost wages. It can also cause substantial pain and suffering. If you sustained whiplash in a car accident or another type of incident in Omaha, you could be eligible for compensation from the person or entity that caused your injury. Whiplash is a coverable injury in most insurance claims.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash is the strain of the neck tendons, ligaments or muscles (and sometimes damage to bones), usually from a rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck. Whiplash is most common in a rear-end vehicle collision when the victim’s head and neck were stationary at the time of impact. Whiplash can also occur during contact sports or from physical abuse or assault. Some victims feel whiplash symptoms immediately, while others do not notice them until hours or even days after the incident.
• Inability to move the head or neck
• Pain or soreness when moving the neck
• Stiffness or lack of mobility in the neck or back
• Pain or tingling in the arms
• Headaches from the base of the skull
• Dizziness or blurred vision
• Memory problems
• Trouble concentrating
• Irritability or depression
Any of these symptoms could point to a whiplash injury. If you notice potential signs of whiplash, see a doctor right away. Typical treatments for whiplash include ice to reduce swelling, painkillers, massage, physical therapy, at-home exercises, rest and a temporary neck brace. Prompt treatment for physical as well as emotional symptoms of whiplash could help you recover from the injury sooner.
Recovering for a Whiplash Injury
Once you receive medical care for your whiplash injury, focus on your financial recovery. If someone else caused or contributed to your whiplash injury, that person could owe you compensation for your damages. You may be eligible for money for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, temporary disability costs, medications, legal fees, pain and suffering, and more. Bringing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party could help you afford your injury and have peace of mind while you heal.
1. Identify the defendant. First, recognize the party that caused your whiplash injury. This could be another driver, a negligent sports coach, a product manufacturer or a criminal. If you are not sure who or what caused your injury, speak to an attorney.
2. Value your damages. Place a monetary value on your damages so you know how much to demand. Calculate your economic damages using receipts, bills and paystubs. Estimate your noneconomic damages based on the severity of your whiplash.
3. Call an insurance company. Contact the insurance company of the at-fault party and file an initial claim. Your claim should name the defendant, describe the accident and list how much money you are demanding. It should also come with evidentiary support.
4. Negotiate a fair settlement. Insurance companies often try to take advantage of claimants to save money. If an insurer tries to offer less than you believe your whiplash case is worth, negotiate with the claims adjuster for a fairer amount.
5. Contact an attorney. If you suffered a serious whiplash injury that will cause chronic pain or long-term disability, or if you cannot get an insurance company to treat your claim fairly, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance.
Most people fully recover from whiplash injuries. In some circumstances, however, you may find that whiplash interferes with your ability to move, work and enjoy your life for months or years to come. Regardless of the details of your specific situation, a lawyer in Omaha can help. You can learn more about whiplash injuries and related personal injury cases by contacting an Omaha car accident attorney.
Your actions during a traffic stop can have an enormous impact on what happens next. The police officer conducting the stop may be scrutinizing you for reasons to investigate further, bring criminal charges or search your vehicle. One false move could lead to a hefty traffic citation or even an arrest. Taking the right steps and knowing what to do during a traffic stop in Omaha could make all the difference.
Pull Immediately to the Side
As soon as you see flashing police lights behind you or hear a siren, pull to the side of the road and turn your vehicle off. If it is not safe to pull over right away, turn your hazard lights on so the officer knows you plan on stopping. Then, pull over as soon as you see it is safe to change lanes and park. Pull as far to the side as you can so the officer has room to speak to you without being too close to traffic.
Show Common Courtesy
The law requires you to pull over for an officer. After that, what you do or do not do is up to you; however, showing a few common courtesies could sway the course of the stop in your favor. Turn off your engine and place both hands on the steering wheel. Do not reach into your glove box or pockets for your license and registration. Wait for the officer to ask you to do so, so he or she does not think you are reaching for a weapon. Do not exit the vehicle unless the officer asks you to do so.
Roll down your driver’s side window. Address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am,” and only answer the questions asked. Do not offer up any additional information. Answer questions politely and succinctly. Always obey the police officer’s orders and cooperate as much as you can with the traffic stop. Conducting yourself with politeness and professionalism could convince the officer to go easier on you – or at least avoid a catastrophe such as an arrest for assaulting a police officer.
Highway patrol officers have heard countless excuses from drivers during traffic stops. While telling your story may have an effect, do not expect it to change the outcome of the stop. When the officer tells you why he or she pulled you over, be apologetic and explain that your violation of the traffic law was unintentional. Let the officer know you understand the rules and the consequences of breaking them. Do not refute the allegations or charges. You will have a chance to do this later, in court, if you wish, with an attorney’s help.
Know Your Rights
While it is important to be polite and respectful to a police officer, this does not mean you have to say yes to everything the officer asks. If the officer asks to search your vehicle, for example, you have the right to politely decline. The officer may only proceed to search your vehicle after you decline with reasonable cause to suspect he or she will find evidence of a crime. Most police officers that conduct traffic stops will not have the right to search your car unless you leave something suspicious in plain view.
If you do not wish to speak to the officer, you have the right to remain silent, other than a requirement to give the officer your name. Choosing this option, however, could make the traffic stop harder on you than it needs to be. Instead, reply with brief answers that do not give more details than the officer requested. If the officer asks if you knew how fast you were traveling, for example, do not go into a story about how you only had one beer at dinner. You could accidentally incriminate yourself by saying too much. If you need assistance after an officer places you under arrest in Omaha, contact an Omaha personal injury attorney.