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Rockford personal injury attorneysCell phone use—particularly texting while driving—has become a serious problem in America. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 1.2 million accidents are caused by texting and driving each year. Those numbers, however, may be far lower than the reality because the police rarely investigate to determine whether or not an accident was caused by cell phone use. However, skilled auto accident attorneys can help to uncover this information and may even be able to help their clients seek punitive damages for their injuries.

Why Texting and Driving Accidents Are So Serious

Studies that have been conducted on distracted drivers have suggested that cell phone use one of the most dangerous forms of distraction. In fact, one study found that, while the body tries to compensate for other forms of distraction through a flight or fight reaction, that same compensation is not present when using a cell phone and driving. This is because the brain relies heavily on hand-eye coordination to activate this defense mechanism, and texting takes that coordination away. As a result, the accidents that occur due to texting and driving often cause serious injuries.

Your Injuries and Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not often seen in auto accident cases. However, when a driver “willfully and wantonly” causes harm to another person, such as in accidents with drinking and driving or the use of a cell phone, victims may be due added punitive damages. Unfortunately, obtaining such damages is not an easy task. Knowledge of the law and of penal codes is required. This is why every victim who suspects that texting or talking on the phone while driving may have been a factor in their accident should seek skilled and experienced legal assistance.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysAfter your car has been towed and you have been to the doctor comes the part of an auto accident that most people hate the most: dealing with insurance. While every car accident is different, there are several common mistakes that people make when they have a car accident claim.

Not Doing Your Own Research on Your Car

If the insurance company has declared your vehicle a total loss, the value of your car must be determined. The insurance company will almost always attempt to determine the value, but be wary of their estimate. The mistake many people make is to simply accept the insurance company’s value without doing their own research. An offer from the insurance company is just an offer. If you can demonstrate your car was worth more than they are offering, you may be able to get more for your car.

Negotiating a Settlement Yourself

On a basic level, it may not seem like it should be that hard to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company for property damage, your medical costs, and your pain and suffering. After all, you may feel that you have access to all the data, and you were the one in the accident.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyAs the old proverb goes, two wrongs do not make a right. In fact, when applied to an auto accident or other type of personal injury, two wrongs can actually create an even bigger problem. Countless television commercials, billboards, and phone book advertisements bombard you daily about your rights to collect compensation following an accident. What they may not tell you right away, though, is that your contribution to your own injuries could impact the amount you may be able to recover.

Determining Who Was Negligent

Assume for a moment that you are in your car, sitting at an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green. You are listening to music on the radio, but are not otherwise distracted by a cell phone, or any other additional stimulus. Without warning, a drunk driver slams into the back of your vehicle, causing extensive damage and leaving you with broken bones and a neck injury. While the other details of the case, including insurance coverage and criminal charges, may not be so clear, the assignment of fault in this example would be very straightforward. The actions of the drunk driver caused the accident and he or she would likely be completely liable for your injuries.

Now consider a more complex hypothetical situation. In this case, you are driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit while talking on a hand-held cellphone when another driver, who is also texting, runs a red light and broadsides your car. In this example, both you and the other driver were engaged in illegal—possibly negligent—behaviors that may be seen as contributing the subsequent accident and injuries. If you file a personal injury claim, it may be left to a judge or jury to determine each party’s percentage of fault before damages can be awarded.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysAggressive driving is a common factor in traffic accidents across America. In fact, a 2009 study from the American Automobile Association (AAA), which used information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatal Accident Report System (FARS), had found aggressive driving to be a factor in as many as 56 percent of all U.S. car crashes between the years 2003 and 2007. What does these statistics mean for non-aggressive drivers, and what can victims do after an accident has occurred?

What Constitutes Aggressive Driving?

Most people see the terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” as synonymous, but road rage is actually a form of aggressive driving—certainly one of the more concerning displays of it. Other forms of aggressive driving include:

  • Speeding;
  • Following too closely, or “tailgating;”
  • Racing;
  • Improper lane changes;
  • Driving on the shoulder;
  • Driving in the median;
  • Passing where prohibited;
  • Failure to yield the right of way;
  • Failure to signal;
  • Driving too fast for road conditions;
  • Improper turns;
  • Reckless or erratic handling of a vehicle;
  • Failure to obey traffic signs or controls; and
  • Failure to observe warnings or instructions.

All these maneuvers and behaviors may place the driver and other road users at risk for an accident. If a crash does occur, aggressive drivers may be held liable for the injuries or damages experienced by victims.

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Posted on in Car Accidents

Rockford car accident attorneyOf all the car accident injuries, whiplash is, by far, the most commonly reported in the United States. In fact, recent statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that some 66 percent of all claimants file an injury related to the neck, and over 800,000 whiplash injuries have been reported over the last 12 years. What can accident victims with whiplash expect after a crash, and what kind of compensation might they be entitled to receive? It is important to understand the dangers of this condition and what can be done about it.

What is Whiplash?

A soft tissue injury that involves the tendons, ligaments, and surrounding tissues of the neck, whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly and violently thrust backward, and then forward. It might sound as though it takes a high-speed crash to create this type of motion. However, whiplash is often seen in even low-speed crashes (perhaps as little as six miles per hour, if going by the cut-off limits in the UK). There is also a common misconception that whiplash occurs only in rear-end crashes, but front-on collision victims are also at risk.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Though the pain of whiplash may not show up immediately after the accident, victims are likely to notice symptoms in the coming hours, days, or weeks after an accident. Often hard to ignore, and typically far more painful than just a simple ache, these symptoms can include:

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