Uncategorized

Common Injuries From Rear-End Collisions

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2022

A car accident of any kind or caliber can cause serious injuries to vehicle occupants, including broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, and internal injuries. A rear-end collision is no exception. A rear-end collision describes a car accident where one vehicle strikes the back end of the vehicle in front of it. The occupants of both vehicles can suffer many different injuries in a rear-end car accident.

Omaha rear-end collision lawyer

Whiplash

Whiplash is the most common injury complained of after a rear-end collision. Whiplash is a type of neck injury that is caused by the head and neck “whipping” rapidly backward and forward from the forces of a crash. Whiplash can cause the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues of the neck to stretch or tear, leading to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and immobility. Even a low-impact rear-end collision could cause a serious neck injury if the impact causes the muscles and ligaments of the neck to extend beyond their normal range of motion.

Catastrophic Injuries

Not all rear-end collisions are minor fender benders. A high-speed rear-end collision, or one involving a vehicle such as a commercial truck, could be catastrophic in size and severity. A major rear-end collision could propel the vehicle into the car in front of it, resulting in a chain-reaction accident. A severe rear-end collision could also crush the vehicle and the occupants inside of it, causing life-threatening or fatal injuries. Examples of catastrophic injuries include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, amputations and permanent disfigurement.

Back and Spine Injuries

 

The spinal cord can sustain many different types of injuries in a rear-end collision. If the forces of the accident lead to an impact against the spine, it could result in a spinal concussion or a ruptured or herniated disk. In a serious accident, it may be possible for a seat belt to sever the spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis. Penetrating spinal cord injuries are also possible if the crash results in debris or shrapnel flying through the air.

Concussions and Brain Injuries

If a vehicle occupant strikes his or her head or skull against something during a rear-end accident, such as the steering wheel or windshield, the impact can cause an injury to the brain. Damage to the brain’s cells may be irreparable. The most common type of traumatic brain injury suffered in car accidents is a concussion. Swelling or bleeding in the brain can also arise from blunt force trauma against the skull.

Knee and Leg Injuries

A rear-end collision could send a driver’s body flying forward, where the driver may strike his or her knee or leg against the steering column, dashboard or keys in the ignition. This can lead to broken bones or soft-tissue damage in the knee and lower extremities. Crushed or severed limbs may also be possible if the rear-end collision occurs at a high speed.

Airbag Injuries

A vehicle’s airbag is meant to reduce the severity of injuries involved in a car accident. While it often accomplishes this goal, the force of airbag deployment itself could also cause injuries in a rear-end collision. The force of the airbag going off could break an occupant’s nose or cause other facial injuries, for example. The powder from the airbag can also cause skin and eye irritation.

Emotional Injuries 

Like all car accidents, rear-end collisions can take a mental and emotional toll on victims. Many auto accidents result in post-traumatic stress syndrome, for example, with symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks. The emotional effects of a rear-end collision may lead to therapy, additional medical bills, missed school or work, and reduced quality of life. In Nebraska, it is possible to seek financial compensation for emotional injuries as well as physical injuries after a rear-end car accident. Contact a car accident lawyer in Omaha for more information about your case.

Damage Caps in Nebraska Personal Injury Claims

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2022

In a personal injury claim, the financial compensation available to a plaintiff is known as damages. Damages are meant to make a plaintiff whole again, or to restore an accident victim to the financial position that he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. In Nebraska, however, there is a damage cap that can limit the amount of compensation available to a plaintiff. Find out how this cap could impact your personal injury case.

What Is a Damage Cap? Why Do States Have Damage Caps?

A damage cap is a statutory limit on how much a plaintiff can receive in damages, or monetary recovery, during a personal injury claim. A damage cap places a maximum limit on the amount of money that an injured accident victim can recover from a negligent or at-fault party in a civil lawsuit. There are many purposes for damage caps, such as discouraging frivolous lawsuits and protecting defendants from going bankrupt from paying large settlements. Damage caps are most commonly used to protect public entities, such as government agencies and hospitals, from financial ruin.

Omaha personal injury lawyer

Damage caps are a controversial subject. In the past, many more states had some type of damage cap limiting the compensation available for an injury claim. Today, many states have ruled damage caps unconstitutional and removed them from the civil justice process. Many lawmakers believe that damage caps are unfair and infringe upon a victim’s rights. Nebraska, however, still has damage caps in place.

What Are the Damage Caps in Nebraska?

The best way to understand the damage cap in Nebraska is to learn about the two different types of damages: economic (known as special damages) and non-economic (general damages). The courts recognize these as two distinct categories of damages. Economic damages are the monetary expenses connected to an accident, such as medical bills and property repairs. Noneconomic damages are the personal or intangible ways in which the accident impacted the victim, such as pain and suffering.

In many states that still use damage caps, these caps only apply to non-economic damages. They limit the amount that a plaintiff can recover in pain and suffering but do not limit the amount available to pay for the costs related to an accident. Nebraska, however, has a damage cap that applies to both economic and non-economic damages. This cap is only present in medical malpractice lawsuits, under the Nebraska Hospital Medical Liability Act (Nebraska Revised Statute 44-2825).

Nebraska’s cap on medical malpractice damages limits the amount that a plaintiff can receive in both economic and non-economic damages combined to $2.25 million. This cap started at $500,000 for occurrences on or before December 31, 1984, and increased over the years to the current limit, which applies to any medical malpractice occurrence after December 31, 2014. This is the final increase mentioned in Nebraska’s damage cap law. Note that if a plaintiff brings a claim for an act of malpractice that occurred before 2015 – such as for a foreign object left in the body that has only just been discovered – a smaller damage cap may apply.

Other Recovery Restrictions in Nebraska

In addition to the damage cap on medical malpractice claims, Nebraska has a rule known as modified comparative negligence that could decrease the compensation available to a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. This rule states that if a plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for the accident or injury in question, his or her financial recovery will be reduced by an amount equivalent to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. If 20 percent of the liability for an accident is placed with the plaintiff, for example, his or her compensatory award will be reduced by 20 percent.

For more information about all of the limitations and reductions that may be involved in your personal injury claim in Nebraska, contact an Omaha personal injury lawyer at Knowles Law Firm for a free consultation.

Is Technology Increasing or Decreasing Traffic Accidents?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2022

Modern technology has improved the safety of driving in many important ways. From automatic brake systems to advanced airbag technology, many modern inventions have prevented car accidents and saved lives. There are some ways, however, in which technology has increased the risk of car accidents. Therefore, the answer is that technology has done both: increased and decreased the number of traffic accidents over the years.

How Has Technology Decreased Traffic Accidents?

Technology has come a long way since the advent of the motor vehicle in protecting drivers and occupants from car accidents and related injuries. Countless time and money have been spent researching and developing new ways to protect motor vehicle occupants from vehicle collisions. These efforts have resulted in life-saving technologies that have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths over the years. Some of the top vehicle safety technologies today include:

  • Seat belts
  • Airbags
  • Lane-keeping technology
  • Anti-lock braking systems (ABS)
  • Traction control
  • Brake assist
  • Collision warnings
  • Emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Cruise control
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Backup cameras
  • Parking assistance
  • Automatic headlights
  • Vehicle maintenance monitoring
  • Telematics

Some of these technologies have been integral for driver safety. For example, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that seat belts prevented an estimated 329,715 deaths between 1960 and 2012. Seatbelts prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in 2016 alone. It is no secret that technology has improved driving safety in multiple ways and decreased the number of traffic accidents and deaths. It does not have a perfect track record, however, for keeping people safe.

Driving Risks Associated With Technology

Just as technology has the power to save lives, it is also capable of causing car accidents, in some circumstances. For instance, modern technologies such as smartphones and dashboard infotainment systems can be distracting for drivers. Drivers can also become too complacent when using driver-assistive technologies, resulting in delayed reaction times and poor driver decisions behind the wheel. Examples of technologies that have increased the number of traffic accidents in recent years include:

  • Cell phones. Driver distraction is one of the main safety concerns associated with modern technology. According to the NHTSA, 3,142 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers in 2019 alone. Cell phones are one of the most common types of driver distractions, even in states that prohibit texting while driving.
  • Infotainment systems. An in-vehicle infotainment system is a combination of systems used to provide both information and entertainment. Modern vehicles come with large screens built into the dashboard for infotainment. While these systems can be helpful for a driver, they can also be distracting. Despite warnings against using these systems while driving, many drivers make this mistake and take their eyes off of the road, resulting in collisions.
  • Driverless cars. Autonomous or self-driving vehicles are advertised as safer alternatives to traditional cars, as they allegedly have the power to eliminate driver errors. So far, however, driverless vehicle accidents have been caused by human occupants who are supposed to be paying attention and intervening to prevent accidents, when necessary. Drivers may place too much trust in autonomous technology and fail to do their part to prevent accidents.

Omaha car accident attorney

These are just three examples of ways in which modern driving technologies can go wrong. Modern technology still has a way to go in perfecting motor vehicles and preventing traffic accidents. While advanced equipment that is currently on the market may have the power to prevent car accidents, some have contributed to the number of collisions each year. If you believe that technology contributed to your recent car accident or injuries, contact a car accident attorney in Omaha for a free consultation. The manufacturer of the technology may owe you financial compensation.

The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Homicide

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2022

If someone dies because of the wrongful act, behavior, or carelessness of another person, there are two justice systems that can be used to hold the wrongdoer accountable: the civil justice system and the criminal justice system. Understanding the difference between a wrongful death claim and a homicide case is important if your family is grieving the preventable loss of a loved one. 

Civil vs. Criminal Justice System

Omaha Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful death and homicide both refer to a loss of life at the hands of another person or entity. The difference lies in the justice system to which each term belongs. Wrongful death is a civil law term. It is a civil claim that is filed by surviving family members of the deceased person’s estate. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to reimburse the claimant(s) for losses suffered because of the decedent’s death or to make the claimant whole again. A homicide case is part of the criminal justice system. The goal of this system is to punish someone for breaking the law rather than to compensate victims. 

Different Burdens of Proof

A key difference between a wrongful death claim and a homicide case is the burden of proof.  To win a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff or wrongful death lawyer must prove – through a preponderance of evidence – that the decedent would not have perished were it not for the actions of the defendant. A preponderance of the evidence means clear and convincing evidence that establishes the defendant is at fault with at least a 50-percent certainty.

There is a stricter burden of proof in the criminal justice system: proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It is also a requirement to prove intent – the defendant intended to harm or kill the decedent. A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, does not require proof of intent. Most wrongful death cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is the failure to use a reasonable or appropriate level of care, resulting in the victim’s fatal injury.

The lighter burden of proof in a civil case makes it possible for the same defendant to be found guilty of wrongful death but not guilty of homicide. The defendant’s actions or omissions may fulfill the definition of negligence without reaching the level of intent to harm. An infamous example of this is the case of OJ Simpson. It is also possible for a defendant to be found guilty in both justice systems, and to be held civilly and criminally liable for a death in Nebraska.

What Is Your Role as a Family Member?

If you recently lost someone close to you because of another person’s negligence, recklessness, or criminal actions, you may have a role in both the civil and criminal justice systems. Your role is more involved in the civil justice process, however. First, your family must determine the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This is the person with the legal right to file a wrongful death claim in Nebraska. Your loved one’s will might have named an executor, or else the courts will name one for you.

A homicide case, on the other hand, is initiated by a prosecutor. While your family may be called upon to provide evidence or testify during a criminal case against the defendant, you will have less involved roles. The prosecutor will attempt to prove that the defendant is guilty of homicide, or the crime being charged. Note that your family has only two years from the date of the death to file a Nebraska wrongful death claim, but a criminal case for homicide or murder has no time limit. To learn more about both types of cases after the death of a loved one, contact a wrongful death attorney in Omaha.

What to Do After a Hit-And-Run Accident

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2022

Every driver in Nebraska has a legal obligation to pull over at the scene of a car accident. Fleeing the scene without stopping is a crime in all 50 states, known as a hit-and-run. Despite it being illegal, many drivers are guilty of driving off after causing accidents. If you get involved in a hit-and-run accident in Omaha, take the following steps to protect your rights in this situation.

Remain at the Scene

Just because the other driver flees the scene does not mean that you should. A hit-and-run is a serious crime that can result in penalties such as jail time. After an accident, pull your vehicle off of the road in a safe location as close to the scene as possible. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that there has been an accident. If you were struck as a bicyclist or pedestrian, get to a sidewalk or the side of the road, out of traffic, if possible.

Check for Injuries

Find out if the car accident injured you or anyone else involved in the collision. Take a moment to remain still and check yourself head to toe for any pain, immobility, tingling, numbness, or other strange sensations. Search for blood, bruising, and swelling, as well. Keep in mind that many car accident injuries have delayed symptoms that you may not notice right away. When it is safe to do so, exit your vehicle to check if anyone else involved in the crash has been injured.

Call the Police

Call 911 using your cell phone from the scene of the hit-and-run accident. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, no matter how major or minor the accident is, call the police to report it since a crime has been committed. Do not admit fault for the accident when the police arrive. Do your best to provide as much information as possible, including anything that you remember from the crash. This may include a description of the other vehicle, any identifying marks on the vehicle, partial license plate numbers, what the driver looked like, and the circumstances of the crash.

Collect Evidence

Since the other driver is not available to take legal responsibility for the accident, it is important to collect information that could help you with an insurance claim. Try to gather any evidence of the other driver, even if they have fled. This could mean the other car’s paint at the impact point, a broken piece of the car in the road, or eyewitness statements that corroborate what you saw. Take photographs of the scene of the car accident and your vehicle damage before you leave.

Go to a Hospital

Omaha hit and run accident lawyer

Delaying medical care is a common mistake made by car accident survivors. If you are not seriously injured, you may think that you can wait to see a doctor or not see one at all. This can lead to challenges when processing an insurance claim, however. Many insurance companies will reject claims if the victim waited too long to see a doctor.

File a First-Party Insurance Claim

If the police do not identify or locate the other driver, you may be able to rely on your own car insurance company for coverage. Many drivers have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance on their policies. This type of insurance will cover your medical bills and property damage as if the driver did remain at the scene but did not have car insurance. If you have comprehensive or collision insurance, this can also help you pay for your losses, even if you did not cause the accident.

Contact an Attorney

Making a financial recovery can be difficult in a hit-and-run car accident case. Discuss your recovery options with a car accident lawyer in Omaha as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you with a first-party insurance claim, as well as explore the option of filing a lawsuit against a third party, such as an auto part manufacturer or the government. A lawyer can help you protect your legal rights after this devastating type of collision.

Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Car Accident Claim

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2021

Just as there are steps that you should take after getting into a car accident in Nebraska, there are also things that you should not do. Avoiding common mistakes is just as important as saying and doing the correct things after a car accident. A single misstep could hurt your ability to recover fair financial compensation for your medical bills and property repairs. Watch out for these mistakes if you get involved in an auto accident in Omaha.

Failing to Call 911

Nebraska law makes it mandatory to call the police immediately to report any motor vehicle accident that causes injuries, deaths or at least $1,000 worth of property damage. Failing to call 911 from the scene of a car accident can significantly hurt your claim. An auto insurance company relies on the information and evidence that a police accident report contains. The failure to call the police and obtain an accident report – especially when state law requires you to do so – won’t be viewed favorably by an insurer, making it more difficult to collect a fair settlement. Always call the police after a car accident in Omaha, big or small.

Admitting Fault

Never say you’re sorry to the other driver or admit to causing the crash. While you should be polite to the other driver involved in your accident, apologizing can be misconstrued as an admittance of guilt. Do not admit fault to the other driver, the police or an insurance representative. Admitting fault can place the blame on you even before a car accident investigation, taking away your ability to recover compensation.

Underestimating Your Injuries

It is common for a car accident victim to underestimate the extent of his or her injuries immediately after the crash, as adrenaline can mask pain. Do not answer any questions about your injuries until you have been to a doctor. Otherwise, you may downplay your injuries and unintentionally reduce the value of your car accident claim.

Not Going to a Doctor

Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Car Accident Claim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Failing to go to a doctor or hospital after a car accident can significantly reduce your odds of obtaining fair financial compensation for your injuries and related bills. Car insurance companies generally require proof of your car accident injuries in the form of medical records and supporting documents, such as letters from a doctor. 

Failing to get professional medical care after a car accident will mean no official injury diagnosis on the record, giving an insurance company a reason to reject your claim. If you wait too long to see a doctor or fail to follow your treatment plan, this can also hurt your car accident claim, as the insurance company may argue that you failed to mitigate your injuries with proper medical care.

Trusting the Insurance Company

During a car accident insurance claim, it is important to realize that the insurance company you are dealing with will always put itself and its profits above you. When speaking to an insurance claims adjuster or representative, keep your responses short and do not offer any information that is not specifically requested. Do not agree to give a recorded statement and never sign anything sent to you by the insurance company. Do not accept the first settlement offer, as it may not be adequate for your past and future losses. Instead, bring the offer to an attorney for a case review that you can trust.

Representing Yourself 

The car insurance claims process can be confusing – especially if the insurance company is attempting to save money on your payout by mishandling your claim. Representing yourself rather than hiring a car accident lawyer in Omaha could be a critical error. This is particularly true if the defendant you are going up against is a large or powerful party, such as a trucking company or major corporation. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident for professional assistance with the claims process.

Nebraska Car Seat Laws

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2021

Child passenger safety is paramount in a motor vehicle. Children are more susceptible than adults to serious and deadly injuries in automobile accidents. To offer the best possible protection from injuries in a motor vehicle accident, Nebraska requires parents and drivers to use the correct types of car seats for young children. Obeying Nebraska’s car seat laws is critical for your child’s safety.

What Are Nebraska’s Child Safety Seat Requirements?

By law in Nebraska, all children in a moving vehicle must be restrained with the correct child safety system at all times. Although Nebraska is a secondary enforcement state, meaning that a police officer must have another reason besides a broken seat belt law to make a stop, you could still get into legal trouble for failing to properly restrain a child passenger. Breaking the law can also put your child in danger. The following are Nebraska’s car seat laws as of 2022:

  • Infants under the age of two must be seated in rear-facing car seats. A rear-facing seat with a five-point harness provides the best support for a baby’s head, neck, and spinal cord.
  • An infant approaching the age of two that has exceeded the height or weight requirement of a rear-facing seat can transition to a front-facing car seat early. Otherwise, the transition should take place after the child turns two. 
  • When a child reaches 4’9” in height, he or she can transition from a front-facing car seat to a booster seat. A booster seat lifts a small child to the correct height to use a seat belt.
  • Children under the age of eight must be seated in the rear of a vehicle, not the front seat or cargo area.
  • Once a child is tall enough for a standard seat belt to fit properly over the chest and lap, the child can discontinue the use of a booster seat. 
  • All motor vehicle passengers, regardless of age, should wear seat belts when the vehicle is in motion.

 Parents, guardians, motor vehicle operators, and daycare providers in Nebraska must all obey these child safety seat laws when traveling, even for short distances. There are exceptions, however, for a taxi, Uber, and Lyft drivers, as well as for school buses. If you are unsure of how to correctly install a car seat in your vehicle, there are free inspection stations available throughout Nebraska.

What Are the Penalties for Not Using a Car Seat in Nebraska?

Nebraska car seat laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Nebraska’s car seat laws by having an unsecured child in your vehicle or using the incorrect safety seat can result in a fine of $25 and one point being added to your driving record. In Nebraska, if you accumulate 12 points in a two-year period, you will have your driver’s license revoked. 

If you get into a car accident while your child is unlawfully unrestrained, you could also face legal trouble, such as criminal charges for reckless endangerment. Your financial recovery for your child’s injuries will also be reduced if you contributed to these injuries by failing to use a car seat.

Safety Tips for Car Seats

Following Nebraska’s car seat laws can keep your child as safe as possible while traveling in a motor vehicle. For optimal safety, use the following tips:

  • Do not use an old, outdated, or used car seat. Car seats lose their integrity over time. The plastic can become brittle from sitting in the sun, or a car accident could damage the seat. If you cannot afford to purchase a new car seat, financial assistance is available.
  • Thoroughly read the owner’s manual and manufacturer’s instructions for installing, using, and replacing a child safety seat. Do not put your child in a seat that is not suited for his or her height or weight.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as his or her weight and height allow. Transitioning a child to a forward-facing seat too soon can put him or her in danger.

If you get into a car accident in Omaha with your child in the vehicle, contact an Omaha car accident attorney from The Knowles Law Firm for a free consultation about your options for financial recovery.

Explaining The Nebraska Driving Record Points System

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2021

Nebraska is one of many states that uses a driving record points system to penalize people who do not drive safely, to encourage safer driving. As a driver in Nebraska, if you accumulate too many points on your driving record in a short period of time, you could face penalties such as driver’s license suspension or revocation. Learn how the point system works to understand which driving violations will put you at risk of losing your license.

What Offenses Result in Points on a Driver’s Record in Nebraska?

The driving record points system in Nebraska is connected to many different offenses and rule violations associated with motor vehicles. If a driver breaks a law or makes a mistake behind the wheel, and this results in a car accident, traffic citation, and conviction, the driver will receive a certain number of points on his or her driving record based on the nature of the offense. If a driver gets a ticket in another state, points will still be assessed against his or her driving record as if the infraction occurred in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Driving Record Points System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of points that are assessed for different violations are as follows:

  • One point: refusing to submit to an alcohol test, operating on an expired license, minor speeding
  • Two points: failing to yield to a pedestrian without causing a bodily injury
  • Three points: texting and driving, negligent driving, violating a school bus crossing signal
  • Four points: failing to yield to a pedestrian and causing a bodily injury, careless driving, driving 35 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Five points: reckless or dangerous driving 
  • Six points: driving under the influence (DUI), willful reckless driving, hit-and-run, failure to render aid
  • 12 points: third or subsequent DUI offense, vehicular homicide

In Nebraska, convictions for vehicle-related violations remain on the driving record for five years. If a driver accumulates 12 or more points in a two-year time period, starting on the date of the most recent violation, it will result in adverse action being taken against the driver by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

What Are the Penalties for Accumulating Too Many Points?

The DMV will automatically revoke the license of a driver who accumulates 12 or more points in a two-year period. License revocation means the driver cannot lawfully operate a motor vehicle until having his or her license reinstated. The revocation periods are six months for a first offense and three years for a second offense within five years. Reinstating a revoked license requires completing a Driver Improvement Course, filing proof of financial responsibility (SR22 insurance, in most cases), paying a $125 reinstatement fee, and testing and applying for a new license.

How Can You Check the Status of Your Driving Record in Nebraska?

If you are not sure how many points you currently have on your driving record, you can check the status of your driving privileges using the Department of Motor Vehicles’ online portal. You need your driver’s license or Social Security number, last name, and date of birth to look up your driving record. You can also view the requirements for reinstating a suspended or revoked driver’s license and pay the associated fees online.

Get a Two-Point Credit With a Driver Improvement Course

The DMV offers a way for drivers with fewer than 12 points on their driving records to reduce the number of points acquired within the past two years. You can receive a two-point credit by enrolling in and completing a four-hour Driver Improvement Course that has been approved by the DMV. If you have only acquired one point in the last two years, the course will only result in a one-point credit. You must complete the class voluntarily, not under a court order. In addition, you must complete the course prior to the date of a violation that would add the 12th point to your driving record. Drivers may only use this program once every five years.

Do Truck Companies Drug Test Their Drivers After a Crash?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2021

Operating a commercial truck under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an extremely reckless mistake that can result in catastrophic traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths. If you get involved in a truck accident and believe the truck driver was under the influence of something, the trucking company will most likely have to conduct a drug test under federal law. You may be able to use the results of an employer-provided drug test as evidence against the truck driver during a truck accident claim.

Federal Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements

The federal government has many rules in place to regulate the trucking industry and improve its safety. These rules are enforced by the FMCSA or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. One of the government’s main concerns is preventing truck drivers from operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Under federal law, employers must test their truck drivers for substance use in the following circumstances:

  • Before hiring them.
  • At random throughout the year.
  • After most truck accidents.
  • If there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence.
  • When the driver returns to duty after testing positive.
  • A follow-up with drivers who test positive or refuse to be tested.

If a drug test comes up positive, the trucking company or employer must take reasonable steps to prevent the driver from putting others at risk of harm. This may mean suspending or terminating the driver’s employment. If an employer negligently allows a trucker who tested positive for drugs or alcohol to continue operating a big rig when this could put others in danger, the employer could be liable for a subsequent truck accident.

Drug Tests Required By Employers After Most Accidents

According to Section 382.303 of the FMCSA Code of Regulations, truck drivers must submit to drug and alcohol tests administered by their employers after most types of traffic accidents. There is a chart that is used to determine when an employer lawfully must test a truck driver after a crash. The chart creates the following rules:

Omaha truck driver accident lawyer

  • Mandatory testing for a truck accident involving a human fatality, whether or not law enforcement issued a citation to the driver.
  • Mandatory testing for bodily injuries with immediate medical treatment away from the scene, but only if a citation is given to the driver.
  • Mandatory testing for disabling damage to any motor vehicle that requires a tow, unless no citation was given to the truck driver.

Federal law gives employers no more than 32 hours after a qualifying truck accident to administer a drug test to a truck driver. The employer only has 8 hours to perform an alcohol test. They should administer drug and alcohol tests as soon as is practical after the accident. If an employer fails to perform tests within the time limit, the company must give a reason why the test was not promptly administered.

Always Call the Police After a Truck Accident

If you are driving in Omaha and see a truck driver that you suspect is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, such as a driver who is drifting in and out of a lane or driving erratically, keep a safe distance and call 911. Explain why you believe the driver is intoxicated and give the responder a description of the truck and the truck number, if possible. Do not attempt to get closer to the truck to see the number, however. If you get into a collision with a commercial truck, always call the police to report the accident.

Note that the Federal Highway Administration allows law enforcement agencies (local, state or federal) to substitute for employers when it comes to administering post-accident drug and alcohol tests. If you call 911 after a truck accident, law enforcement will administer a blood or urine test to check for any drugs in the driver’s system. You could then use positive test results as evidence against the driver during an injury claim. Calling the police can ensure that the driver gets drug tested, even if the truck company doesn’t administer a test.

Contact a truck accident attorney at Knowles Law Firm for more information about what to do after a collision.

How Can Car Maintenance Affect a Claim?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2021

Not all car accidents in Nebraska trace back to driver error. In some cases, car accidents arise from poor vehicle maintenance or low-quality repairs. If an investigation finds that a lack of proper car maintenance caused or contributed to a car accident, the person responsible for maintaining the vehicle – the owner, a company, or an auto mechanic – could be held liable for the collision.

Poor Maintenance and Vehicle Breakdowns

All vehicle owners have a legal responsibility to properly maintain their vehicles. This means to keep them in proper working condition and ensure that they are roadworthy. The owner of a motor vehicle must regularly check and inspect his or her car for potential problems, as well as bring the vehicle to an auto shop for professional maintenance and repairs, as needed. Any lapse in the required standard of vehicle care by an owner or operator can increase the risk of a car accident.

Common maintenance-related vehicle problems that are connected to car accidents in Omaha include:

  • Underinflated or overinflated tires
  • Worn-down tire tread
  • Brakes that need to be replaced
  • Leaking fluids and fire hazards
  • Engine problems
  • Overheating
  • Electrical failures
  • Faulty lights
  • Steering system issues
  • Misalignment

Omaha car accident lawyer

Mechanical failure from poor maintenance can result in tire blowouts, brake failure, engine failure, loss of power steering, and other significant hazards that can cause car accidents. If the owner of the vehicle reasonably should have done more to keep his or her car in safe working condition, the owner can be held liable (financially responsible) for a related crash. 

Lack of Required Equipment

It is also a vehicle owner’s legal responsibility to make sure that the car has all of the required equipment to make it roadworthy under federal and state traffic laws. This includes working windshield wipers, brakes, headlights and taillights, and a windshield that is not obscured. Driving a vehicle that does not have all of the required equipment increases the risk of a related car accident and can place liability on the negligent owner.

Auto Mechanic Negligence

When poor vehicle maintenance causes a car accident in Nebraska, the driver or owner of the vehicle is the party that is most often found responsible. In some cases, however, the vehicle defect or breakdown is linked to negligence by an auto mechanic in charge of maintaining or repairing the vehicle. 

The owner of a vehicle is responsible for taking a car to a licensed and trained professional to complete difficult repairs. DIY vehicle repairs could lead to liability for a related car accident going to the owner of the vehicle. If the owner did his or her part by bringing the car to an auto mechanic, however, it could be the mechanic that takes the blame for a collision-related to part breakdowns.

Auto mechanics have a legal obligation to act according to the required standards of the automotive industry when inspecting, diagnosing, and repairing motor vehicles. Falling short of this obligation can place liability with the auto shop for a car accident. If a mechanic failed to recommend replacing a worn-down tire at the last maintenance check, for example, the auto shop may be held solely or partially liable for a related tire blowout accident.

How to Prove Your Case

If you were recently involved in a car accident that you believe was related to negligent vehicle maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact an Omaha car accident attorney in Omaha for legal assistance with the claims process. You may have grounds to file a claim against one or more parties, even if you were the person driving the poorly maintained car. If you were not the owner of the vehicle or the person responsible for its maintenance, you may still be eligible for financial compensation from someone else, including an individual owner, rental car company, trucking company or your employer. 

 

Contact an attorney today for more information about your accident claim.