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Knoxville Personal Injury Blog

Protecting loved ones from nursing home neglect

The safety and well-being of loved ones is always a top priority. Making the determination that your loved one may need round-the-clock care and monitoring can be difficult. Doing so shouldn’t result in added danger.

Nursing home neglect happens far too frequently. Just this month Tennessee state officials had to prevent a Knoxville nursing home from admitting new patients due to evidence of mistreatment of a patient with dementia. The Westmoreland Health and Rehabilitation Center must also pay $30,000 in penalties stemming from the case.

How safe are highway work zones?

Tennessee drivers have been educated in a variety of road hazards. You know to slow down approaching a blind turn and when traveling through intersections. You know a good rainstorm coupled with driving too fast may cause you to lose control of your car. You know it is dangerous to drink and drive. Another hazard you should be aware of is work zones.

With lane closures, detours and moving equipment to keep track of, it is easy to understand why drivers get confused, despite the use of traffic cones and signs to direct approaching drivers. According to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, there were nearly 100,000 work zone accidents throughout the nation in 2015, which break down as follows:

  • 642 crashes resulting in one or more deaths, which equates to an annual average of 12 fatalities each week.
  • 25,485 accidents with injuries to one or more people, which on average, means there are 70 crashes each day that result in injuries.
  • 70,499 crashes with only property damage. An overall average of accidents that occur equals a work zone crash about every 5 minutes.

What is hydroplaning and why is it dangerous?

Hydroplaning—which happens when water comes between a car’s tires and the road surface, often causing loss of control—is one of the scariest situations a Tennessee driver can face. Not being able to control a sliding car traveling at high speed is unnerving for the driver and other area motorists, who may become caught up in an accident involving property damage and severe injuries.

According to U.S. News & World Report, tire treads help disperse water and keep the mass of the tire surface in touch with the road. Driving too fast on wet pavement can cause the water pressure before the front tires to lift them off the ground, just a bit, but enough to put water between the tire and the road.

School buses designed to keep kids safe

When children are victims of a car accident, it is tragic. When a school bus crash causes multiple child deaths, the entire community is touched by the tragedy. Despite the high-profile incidents of ongoing school-bus crashes, including one in 2016 in Tennessee, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that school buses are still the safest form of transportation for children headed to and from school. In fact, the agency puts a number to the safety factor, saying that a safe arrival at school is 70 times more likely by bus than by individual cars.

The agency attributes this safety factor to the general design of a school bus, plus the support of stop-arm laws in every state in the nation. School buses are very visible, due both to their height and the color they are painted—yellow, which in traffic signs and signals is the color for caution. They also have flashing red lights to attract attention, stop-sign arms to halt motorists and cross-view mirrors that give the drivers a better view of the road and the traffic on it. State laws support the use of the stop-arms, making it illegal for drivers to pass when it is used. Drivers use the stop-arm when children are getting on and off.

Sudden deaths can bring traumatic grief

Losing a friend or family member is always difficult, but when the death is through an accident or another surprising event, trauma is added to grief, giving survivors a one-two punch that sends them reeling. If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one from an accident, the legal team at Pryor, Priest and Harber offers our sympathies. We have worked with bereaved family members who are experiencing traumatic grief, and we know you need an extra measure of support and consideration.

Psychology Today describes traumatic grief as “extremely painful” because so many things can trigger reminders of the person and bring the loss back again and again and again—so it is always fresh and it is always a shock.

A current outlook on helmet laws

The debate over whether motorcyclists should wear protective helmets when riding has been a seemingly endless one. Motorcycle enthusiasts across the nation are divided on this subject, some arguing that it crosses the line in terms of one's freedom. Tennessee motorcyclists are currently required to wear a helmet while operating bikes on the road, but might those laws change in the future?

According to one U.S. News article, some motorcyclists have recently continued the fight for freedom, despite the rising numbers of fatalities in some states that have loosened laws surrounding required helmet use. Some riders even go as far as to connect the freedom of choosing to wear a helmet with the freedom of speech; others claim that a tumble from a bike will likely do damage regardless of helmet use. However, doctors and safety experts alike argue otherwise, stating that making this choice comes with serious risks. While studies show a rising number of deaths alongside changes in helmet laws, one motorcyclist highlighted in U.S. News' article pointed out that an increasing number of motorcycle registration across the country has actually reflected a decrease in deaths since helmet-less laws took effect. 

New guidance on personal use of big rigs

Among the many concerns that Tennessee residents must contend with on the roads is the danger posed by large commercial trucks. Fatigued drivers can be a serious problem given the number of long and lonely hours that truckers spend behind the wheels of their rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule that was designed to reduce fatigue among truckers in an effort to reduce accidents and improve safety. 

Called the Hours of Service rule, this law caps the number of hours that a trucker may work in a given day or week, how many of those hours may be spent driving versus doing other activities, when breaks should be taken and how long those break periods must last before work is allowed to resume. 

Ooltewah motorcyclist killed in car accident

One might say that motorcyclists in Knoxville are already at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to staying safe on the road. The lack of protection offered by their bikes means that even in a minor collision, they could be at risk of suffering severe injuries. There are steps that motorcyclists may take to mitigate those risks (such as wearing a helmet and protective clothing), yet they also have to worry about inattentive motorists. It can be difficult to see motorcycles on the road, and despite extensive campaigns to increase awareness of motorcyclists, many drivers may still forget to do those simple things to make the road safer for all. 

Sadly, devastating consequences typically accompany collisions between motorcycles and vehicles. This fact was on full display following a motorcycle accident near Meigs County. Authorities believe that a driver pulled on to local highway from a private driveway without seeing a motorcycle approaching. The resulting collision between the two vehicles resulted in the motorcyclist (an Ooltewah resident) being thrown from his Harley Davidson. He died from injuries sustained in the collision. It was later reported that the motorist was not injured at all. 

Assigning liability even if a driver is not legally drunk

Determining liability for car accidents that occur in Knoxville can often be tricky, especially when no clear cut evidence points at one particular party. In cases where suspicion as to whether or not alcohol may have been involved exists, those who are believed to have been drunk at the time of an accident may point to them not having been shown to be legally intoxicated on a sobriety tests as absolving them. By now, popular media and word of mouth likely has filled most of the general public in on the details found in Section 55-10-401 of Tennessee's Annotated Code: that a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent is the standard for determining intoxication. 

Hidden within this standard seems to be an implication that it is permissible for one to drive after having consumed alcohol provided that his or her BAC remains under the legal limit. While one certainly could be said to be taking a big gamble by assuming that his or her BAC is below .08, technically he or she could avoid a DUI in such a scenario (the exception would be one driving a commercial vehicle; his or her BAC need only be above .04 to be charged with DUI). An important point to remember, however, is that simply because one suspected of driving under the influence did not register a reading above the legal limit, that does not absolve him or her of liability if his or her impairment caused a car accident

The most common motorcycle injuries

As perfect as hitting the road on a motorcycle feels, it can almost seem as if the two were made to go together. Most Tennesseee motorcycle enthusiasts would agree with this sentiment, especially as the weather continues to grow warmer in the Volunteer State. Unfortunately, this eagerness to keep the roads hot comes an alarming number of accidents. The below information shares a few accident prevention tips, as well as the most common types of motorcycle injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses in a brochure on motorcycle safety that motorcycle accidents take 2,100 lives each year. On the same note, motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than their automobile counterparts. The NHTSA also points out that most crashes involving motorcycles are not the motorcyclist's fault. To avoid injury on the road, the NHTSA encourages motorcyclists to wear proper protective gear, including gloves, jackets, appropriate footwear, helmets and eye protection. Helmets are the key in this list of protective gear, as they have proven to be 29 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries. 

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