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Making a claim for chronic neck pain

Antitort proponents often trot out stories of fraudulent whiplash claimants in their defense of the insurance industry. A recent study overturns this stereotype and reveals a serious gap in how compensation is being awarded in certain personal injury cases.

Researchers from the North Carolina School of Medicine followed nearly 1,000 people who were treated in an emergency room after an auto accident. Six weeks after their release, participants reported the following:

  • 70 percent experienced some kind of chronic pain
  • 28 percent experienced chronic moderate to severe neck pain
  • 13 percent experienced chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain
  • 4 percent experienced fibromyalgia syndrome (chronic musculoskeletal pain, tenderness and fatigue)

Even though the majority of these auto accident victims had some kind of chronic, persistent pain, only 17 percent had contacted a personal injury lawyer. It was not clear from the study how many of the accidents resulted from the negligent actions of the at-fault driver.

Accident victims with chronic neck pain may be reluctant to proceed with a legitimate personal injury suit because no one takes their claims seriously. Soft-tissue injuries are more difficult to see compared to bruises or a broken bone and pain reports are subjective. Many people think that their only option is to swallow a pain reliever, grit their teeth and wait it out. However, if untreated, a neck injury can lead to depression, sleep problems, memory loss and fatigue — in addition to the disruption caused by living with persistent pain. For some people, the symptoms are long-term or permanent.

Insurance companies often attempt to deny neck injury claims or to minimize the seriousness of the injury. Knowledgeable car accident lawyers understand how devastating chronic neck pain can be and they know how to present the facts of your case so you get fair compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.

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Tips for dealing with tire blowout

A passerby caught a fatal accident on video when a tire blowout caused a truck driver to lose control and flip over the highway guardrail. Tire blowouts often happen without warning and cause drivers to panic and lose control.

Here are some life-saving tips for getting through a blowout in one piece.

Prevention

The best way to deal with a blown tire is to prevent it from happening. Monitor the air pressure in your car’s tires by checking them at the gas station on a regular basis. The proper pressure for your tires is indicated in the owner’s manual. Cars manufactured later than 2007 are equipped with tire pressure monitors. Keeping your tires properly inflated not only reduces your chance of blowout but it also improves gas mileage.

Buckle up

In the event of a blowout, your car might spin, hit a guardrail or even roll over. Your chances of surviving any of these events greatly increase if you are wearing a seat belt.

Keep driving

If your tire blows, your instinct is likely to tell you to turn the wheel sharply to compensate for the sudden veering motion and slam on your brakes. Both of these are wrong. Like skidding on ice or hydroplaning, slamming on brakes after a blowout can cause you to lose control of the car completely. To maintain control of your car during a blowout, tell yourself to:

  • Keep your foot on the gas — If you keep the wheels in motion, you maintain the car’s balance and prevent it from rolling over.
  • Correct the steering — By easing the car back into line, you can continue driving straight.
  • Slow down — Gently ease the brake to slow the car toward a stop.
  • Head to the shoulder — It is safer to change the tire out of the line of traffic.
  • Engage your flashing lights — Do so after you have stopped the car, not before. Never disengage your vision from the road.
  • Use care when standing outside your car on the side of the road — Use a flashlight, flares or reflective clothing to increase your visibility while changing your tire.

The best way to avoid a tire blowout is to maintain the tires on your car. If the treads are worn, replace them. Check your spare once in a while too. If you do not know how to change a tire, it’s time to learn.

Accidents happen, and sometimes they are simply unavoidable. If you have been injured in an accident, speak to Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Attorney about your right to compensation for your medical bills, damage to your car and your lost wages.

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4 elements of negligence in a car accident case

Building any kind of personal injury claim, including a car crash case, requires a strong legal foundation. In auto accidents, this foundation focuses on negligence and the four legal elements of it:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of that duty
  3. An injury occurs
  4. The breach of duty of care caused the injury

If you can prove these elements without question, you have a strong personal injury case. These elements are worth examining in more detail.

Duty: Every driver must exercise reasonable care toward the other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on the road, which includes abiding by the speed limit and right-of-way laws, among others.  That is part of having a driver’s license – one must abide by the rules that govern the operation of a motor vehicle.

Breach: If a motorist acts outside the law and puts other drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians in danger, he or she has breached the duty of care implicit in driving. This means that your lawyer must show that the at-fault driver is, in fact, at fault – that he or she broke a driving law.

Injury: This breach of duty has to have also caused an injury for negligence to exist. So if a driver simply ran a red light and no one was hurt, there are no grounds for a lawsuit. An injury must be present, and often only a significant injury warrants the filing of a legal claim.

Cause: Often where the auto accident case hinges, your attorney must prove that the other driver’s breach of care caused your injury; that no other aspect of your behavior or environmental factors or preexisting conditions explain your injury.

If you’d like to learn more about whether negligence was a factor in the injury you sustained during an auto accident, speak with Steven P. Roberts, Personal Injury Attorney.

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Frequently asked california auto accident questions

An horrific accident in Newport reminds us that bad drivers are not the only hazards on the road. Five teens were killed when their car went off-road and hit a tree. Upon impact, the car split in two and caught fire. No other vehicles are believed to be involved in the crash. A veteran firefighter remarked that it was among the worst accidents he ever witnessed.

If you suffered an injury in any type of auto accident, first get immediate and complete medical attention. After you receive medical treatment, consider whether you should pursue legal avenues.

Commonly asked auto accident questions include:

How long do I have to file my case?

If your case is against another private party, you must normally file your case within two years of your accident to satisfy the statute of limitations. If you are suing a government agency, you generally have less time ― typically six months or less, depending on which agency you are suing. If you wait too long to file your case and the statute of limitation lapses, you may be permanently barred from suing.

Who can be held responsible in an auto accident?

Any party that in any way led to the accident can be held responsible. Often, but not always, the responsible party is the driver the police report indicates was responsible for the accident. Less obvious third parties like governments, vehicle manufacturers and even passengers may also be held responsible.

What if I am also responsible for my injuries?

If you believe this to be the case, only share this with your attorney, as you may be mistaken. But even if you are somewhat at fault, other parties may also be blameworthy. Under the California pure comparative negligence standard, you can obtain the percentage of damages you are eligible for, minus the percentage of the damage that was caused by you.

What types of damages am I entitled to be compensated for?

Depending on the scenario, you may be eligible for the following:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Lost salary

When someone’s negligence causes a death, the victim’s surviving family can seek compensation for funeral costs, economic losses and non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me?

The vast majority of cases are settled by the parties before trial. Whether or not you intend to go to go to trial or settle your case, an experienced firm can help you immensely, particularly with the insurance companies that are looking to lower their exposure. If you have to litigate your case, a good firm can skillfully investigate the accident and fully comprehend the legal significance of every party’s behavior to determine their respective faults.

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Determining fault auto collision

Even for the most seasoned Aurora Grande traffic attorney, it can be difficult to identify exactly who is at fault in some collisions. Although it is in your best interest to seek competent legal representation after an auto accident, even if you think you are at fault, there are a few quick tips to help identify fault in most crashes:

1) Traffic violations can make all the difference. No matter what directly caused the accident, if one driver violated a traffic law leading up to or immediately before the accident, that driver will typically be considered at fault.

2) Rear-end collisions and left-hand turns are common indicators. In many instances, drivers who were taking a left-hand turn are found at fault for collisions, as is the case with vehicles that strike other drivers from the rear. If you rear-end another driver, the blame is most likely to be placed on you.

3) What you say after the accident can come back to haunt you. It’s common for drivers to apologize after an accident. Phrases like, “I didn’t see you there,” or “I’m sorry for that,” may be used in court to establish fault. If you get into an accident, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut.

4) Witnesses can make or break your case. Directly following an accident, you should gather the contact information of anyone who can help establish exactly what happened. An eyewitness account can go a long way to proving the fault of the other driver.

If you’re in an accident on a California road, keep these tips in mind. Then, be sure to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney.

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Three Common Obstacles to Getting the Compensation You Deserve

We’ve all heard stories about insurance companies going to great lengths to avoid paying the full amount they should on insurance claims. Often, this occurs when an insurance company refuses to honor a claim or fails to offer adequate coverage for extensive damage. While you might think this happens only in extraordinary cases, the unfortunate truth is that it is simply how many insurance companies operate.

If you have been involved in a collision in Santa Barbara County, there are three common ways insurance companies may try to shortchange you:

1) Underestimating the value of a totaled car. If an insurer declares that your car has been totaled as the result of an accident, it is important to second-guess the initial valuation of your vehicle. Often, insurers do not get their information about how much a car is worth from the same sources as the rest of us. Instead, they usually use claims servicing companies, which often undervalue vehicles to the insurance company’s benefit. To get a more accurate estimation of what your car is worth, look it up on a site like Edmunds.com or AutoTrader.com.

2) Totaling a car is an easy way out of paying for repairs. If your car has sustained relatively minor damage from an accident, you may be surprised when a claims adjuster declares the vehicle completely totaled. This is typically a cost-saving measure. Often, a minor collision will result in damage to just a few parts, but they can be very expensive parts that the insurer won’t want to replace. If you want to make sure your car has been totaled for the right reasons, consult with your own appraiser to determine if repairs can and should be made.

3) Auto shops frequently work for insurance companies. Because most insurers insist that their preferred auto shops handle repairs, it’s very important to speak with an impartial inspector to ensure that all repairs were done correctly. You can use this inspection to hold the insurance company accountable for any work that isn’t up to reasonable standards.

If you’d like to learn more about what you should do after an auto accident in California, speak with Steven P. Roberts, Personal Injury Attorney.

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How to drive in bad weather

Inclement weather conditions make the roads considerably less safe for drivers and passengers. While you cannot stop the rain, you can take precautions in order to drive more safely when you find yourself out on the road in hazardous weather.

Consider the following safety tips for driving in bad weather:

  • Maintain your vehicle. Your tires are especially important when driving in bad weather and rain. Make sure they are properly inflated and replace them once they become worn. Bald tires can quickly lose contact with the road and cause your vehicle to skid or hydroplane.
  • Be prepared. Check the weather before you leave the house so that you know what to expect. And be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going.
  • Drive slowly. Speeding in bad weather conditions drastically increases your chances of an accident. Also, you want to give yourself extra time to react, so don’t tailgate.
  • Minimize your risk of hydroplaning. If you are driving in the rain and begin to lose traction, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas as you gently steer until you can feel the road again. Do not slam on your breaks or jerk the wheel if you are hydroplaning, as this can cause your car to skid and lose complete control.
  • Use caution. If the conditions look really bad, use your best judgment. Don’t drive unless you absolutely have to.

If you are involved in an auto accident caused by bad weather or the actions of a negligent driver, contact Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Lawyers. They can help you navigate the complexities of filing a claim.

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Bicycle safety tips

Not only is bicycling better for the environment than driving, it is a great form of exercise as well. However, with so many cars on the road these days, bicycling can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Consider the tips listed below for staying safe on your bicycle:

  • Maintain your bike and gear. Make sure your bike has head and rear lights if you are riding at night, along with fully functioning brakes and a mirror. Also, wear a helmet at all times.
  • Signal if you intend to turn. Never turn left without putting your arm straight out to signal.
  • Ride further left. Some bikers think hugging the curb is safer, but riding further to the left can help you avoid several types of accidents. For example, if you are too far to the right side of the street you can easily be struck by an opening door or a car pulling into the street from a parking spot. You also make yourself less visible to cars pulling out from a side street or parking lot on your right.
  • Don’t ride on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in most major cities. And not just because it’s annoying for pedestrians — it’s also unsafe. When you have to cross a street and are coming from the sidewalk, you are invisible to motorists.
  • Avoid fast traffic. Drivers have less time to react and are more distracted by bicyclists on busy, fast roads. And cyclists are more in danger of collisions as well. Take side streets and slower roads when possible.

Don’t let the possibility of a bike accident deter you from enjoying the many wonderful benefits that come along with bicycling. With proper bicycle maintenance, concentration on the road, and an awareness and respect for the laws, your chances of being involved in an accident are greatly reduced. But if you are hit by a negligent driver, seek legal advice from an experienced attorney in Aurora Grande, San Luis Obispo County or elsewhere in California.

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How to stay safe on a motorcycle

Driving a motorcycle can be a cheap, effective and exciting mode of transportation. However, accidents are bound to occur, and when they do such accidents almost always result in serious injuries and extensive medical bills because bikers have little protection. But by taking some safety precautions, you can greatly reduce the risk of being severely injured in a motorcycle accident.

Listed below are some tips for staying safe while driving a motorcycle:

  • Maintain your bike — Before hopping onto your motorcycle, test your brakes, lights, turn signals and the position of the mirrors. Also, take your bike to a mechanic every so often to make sure that everything is functioning correctly.
  • Buy the right gear — Fashion is not vain when it can save your life. Many motorcycle drivers wear leather because it is strong enough to protect their skin in the event of a fall. If leather isn’t your thing, many companies make armored motorcycle gear in a variety of styles designed to keep you safer on the road.
  • Know the weather — Check the weather before you leave the house, and if it’s expected to rain, leave the bike at home or give yourself ample time to get to where you’re going.
  • Obey traffic laws — Going the speed limit and staying within your skills as a driver greatly reduces your chances of an accident. Don’t be coerced by friends, who may be more experienced drivers, into doing something dangerous.
  • Wear a helmet — If you do nothing else to stay safe on the road, protect your head and wear a helmet.

Driving a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than operating a standard vehicle, so there is no need to take extra risks. And in the event that you are ever injured in a motorcycle accident because of the negligence of another driver, contact Steven P. Roberts Personal Injury Lawyers.