Posts Tagged ‘automobile accidents’

FHA Announces New “Toward Zero Deaths” Initiative

April 13, 2010

The Federal Highway Administration has launched a new initiative called ‘Toward Zero Deaths,’ a national strategy on highway safety, aimed at ELIMINATING, not reducing, all highway deaths.  The strategy is explained in a new article just posted by USA TODAY:    

The approach is called Toward Zero Deaths, based on a philosophy that even one road death is morally and ethically unacceptable. The goal: to alter behaviors that cause fatalities, such as speeding, drunken or distracted driving, and lack of seat belts. Speeding is a factor in more than 31% of road deaths, drunken driving in 32%, and distracted driving in about 16%. And 55% of those killed in passenger vehicles are not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More details regarding the purpose of the initiative are found within the announcement on the Federal Highway Administration’s website:

Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety will be a data-driven effort focusing on identifying and creating opportunities for changing American culture as it relates to highway safety. The effort will also focus on developing strong leadership and champions in the organizations that can directly impact highway safety through engineering, enforcement, education, emergency medical service (EMS), policy, public health, communications, and other efforts. The national strategy will be utilized as a guide and framework by safety stakeholder organizations to enhance current national, state and local safety planning and implementation efforts. The intent is to develop a mechanism for bringing together a wider range of highway safety stakeholders to work toward institutional and cultural changes.

One of the most significant needs is to change Americans’ attitudes toward highway safety. There are already programs and technologies that can result in substantial reductions in fatalities; however, those benefits will not be realized as long as the public and elected officials are not willing to pass laws or take the actions needed to implement them.

Sound like a grassroots effort?  In part, it is.  A lot also has to do with technology, and several states have already implemented state versions of the national campaign.  As an example, Utah has already implemented the initiative, and has seen clear, convincing results in just four years.  Robert Hull, the director of traffic and safety at the Utah Department of Transportation, explains:

Since launching a zero traffic deaths program in 2006, the state’s traffic deaths have fallen almost 15%, from 287 to 245 last year, Hull says. The state already had cut road deaths by 24% from 2000 to 2005, partly by implementing engineering changes such as rumble strips and median separations, he says. He acknowledges that the economic downturn likely accounted for some of the recent decline as people drove less.

The next steps, in regard to the national effort led by the Federal Department of Transportation, are “to identify and understand challenges and opportunities in reducing highway fatalities.”  In addition, “the impact must include projections of lives saved as well as the health care costs of highway injuries and deaths, best practices, effective means of creating a cultural change, and other issues,” as stated by the Department.

To date, there are members of over 30 organizations interested in participating in the Stakeholder Group.  With over 35,000 deaths ocurring on the Nation’s highways every year, assistance from more highway safety stakeholder organizations may certainly be put to good use within the initiative.

Is this possible?  Can it be done?   Think about how difficult that would be, all of the challenges involved.  Having said It is a noble but impossible cause .  We will continue to monitor this initiative and will report on its progress.

Seat belt law not ‘clicking’ with House

February 24, 2010

A House subcommittee has killed a bill in Virginia, that would have made the failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense.  Although there is another version of the bill that has cleared the Virginia Senate, it has been referred back to the same subcommittee that killed the first bill.  Some believe this bill will suffer the same fate:

Last week, the subcommittee voted to table House Bill 901, sponsored by Delegate William K. Barlow, D-Smithfield.

“This is the second year I’ve tried it. It never passes in the subcommittee,” Barlow said. “The bill gets killed at the lowest level.”

Now the subcommittee has been assigned Senate Bill 9, proposed by Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake. It passed 24-16 in the Senate last month.

Blevins said he is not optimistic about the reception SB 9 will receive in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

“The bill doesn’t have much of a chance,” Blevins said. “I’m a realist.”

Opponents of the bill cite government intrusion as a justification for rejecting such a law.

An article, as published through the online site of The Gainesville Times, briefly outlined the current law:

Currently, Virginia law states that “occupants of front seats who are 16 years or older are required to use safety lap belts and shoulder harnesses.” However, breaking that law is a secondary offense: Police may cite you for a seat-belt violation only if they see you committing another offense, such as speeding or running a red light.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, ask yourself:  “What is the risk of having my seatbelt on, vs. not wearing one at all?”  Are there children in the car with you?  What kind of a message does it send to them if we do not buckle up?  Would you tell your child that they do not have to wear their seatbelt, or be ‘ok with it’ if they didn’t?  Remember, as much as we can control our vehicle, we can never control anyone else’s.  Be safe out there, please!


January 13, 2010

Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals clarified what events trigger the statute of limitations, in determining how long an injured plaintiff in an automobile collision in Maryland has to file an underinsured motorist claim, in Pfeifer v. Phoenix Insurance Company.

Ms. Pfeifer was involved in an automobile accident in Baltimore City, Maryland on February 12, 2003.  The at-fault insurance company offered their liability policy limits in October of 2004, and, in accordance with applicable law, Ms. Pfeifer requested permission from the underinsured motorist (UIM) carrier, Phoenix Insurance Company, to accept the at-fault carrier’s policy limits.  This request occurred on October 13, 2004, and Phoenix subsequently granted permission for Ms. Pfeifer to accept the policy limits.  Ms. Pfeifer then sought to collect compensation for her injuries under the UIM automobile insurance coverage of the owner of the vehicle she was driving (Phoenix Insurance Company) at the time the collision occurred.  Ms. Pfeifer’s UIM lawsuit was filed on July 10, 2006.

The law in Maryland regarding the statute of limitations, or legal deadline, in regard to a civil action, states the following:

“A civil action at law shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues.”—Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Section 5-101

Accordingly, Phoenix argued that since the UIM lawsuit was filed more than three years after the date of the incident giving rise to the UIM lawsuit, that the claim should be dismissed.  However, as a case of ‘first-impression,’ the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held:

The statute of limitations in an underinsured motorist contract action for damages does not begin to run until, at the earliest, the date on which exhaustion of the tortfeasor’s coverage occurs.  A breach of contract, triggering the statute of limitations, can only occur after the underinsured motorist carrier denies further coverage.

Since the UIM action did not ‘accrue’ until Ms. Pfeifer settled with the tortfeasor in October of 2004, and the UIM lawsuit was filed within three years of that date (July 10, 2006), the Court held that Ms. Pfeifer’s suit was timely filed.

As always, Nash and Associates, LLC welcomes the opportunity to speak with injured victims of automobile accidents who have been seriously injured by uninsured or underinsured motorists.  Keep in mind that the facts of each case require proper analysis as to whether a cause of action exists and whether or not the statute of limitations may be a bar to your recovery. Remember also, even if another lawyer does not take your case, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have one!