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Kent Washington Personal Injury Law Blog

State sees increase in auto deaths

Residents in Washington State have for years heard about the dangers of drunk driving. Numerous public awareness and education campaigns have been launched to reiterate the need for people to make responsible decisions and to make safety a priority. However, many drivers simply refuse to think this way when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Instead, they choose to drive in ways that put others at risk. Drunk driving, speeding and more are just some of the problems this results in.

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington State saw an increase in the number of vehicular fatalities it experienced in 2017 versus 2016. In looking at the various factors contributing to the 565 statewide deaths in 2017, increases are seen in categories including pedestrians, excessive speed and alcohol. 

How to spot the signs of road rage

If you have ever found yourself getting irritated or becoming enraged while attempting to navigate the Washington roadways, you are not alone. According to AAA, at least 80% of drivers say they have angry while driving at some point within the last year. The problem comes when feelings of frustration and anger turn into road rage and lead to dangerous driving behaviors. Aggressive driving not only puts the driver at risk of becoming involved in a deadly car accident, it endangers the lives of everyone else on the road. Knowing how to spot the signs of road rage may help you minimize your risk of getting into a deadly car accident. 

Aggressive driving includes a wide-range of hazardous driving behaviors, from speeding to ramming other vehicles and initiating physical altercations with other motorists. Other dangerous driving behaviors include the following:

How to drive safely around tractor trailers

If you navigate Washington roadways on a regular basis, you may be used to sharing the street with tractor trailers. These massive vehicles may seem like commonplace on the freeways and city streets. Yet, they can be extremely dangerous, especially in certain conditions, such as bad weather, stop-and-go traffic and driving at high speeds. It is important to understand how to drive around tractor trailers so that you can minimize your chances of being involved in a catastrophic truck accident

First you must realize that due to their length, height and weight, large trucks take a longer distance to stop when compared to a normal-sized vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely hard for them to come to an abrupt stop if a vehicle should pull out in front of them and put on the brakes. Be sure to never cut in front of a large truck and give them plenty of space to slow down if approaching slowing traffic. 

Study: Hands-free cellphones not safe for drivers

In Washington, and in many other states in the nation, it is illegal for drivers to use a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel. The dangers behind this practice can be seen through the many people who are injured and killed in drunk driving accidents every year. In an attempt to use a cellphone while behind the wheel and stay in compliance with the law, many drivers have started using hands-free cellphones. Although these devices are marketed as safe alternative to hand-held cellphones, studies show that this may not always be the case.

The study, published by AAA, showed that using a hands-free cellphone while driving caused a significant amount of cognitive distraction and that this distraction may lead to a car accident. During the study, researchers measured participants heart rate, eye movement, response time and brain activity while they operated a simulator vehicle and a car set up with monitoring equipment. The participants were given various tasks to complete during the study, including the following:

  •      Talking on a hand-held cellphone
  •      Talking on a hands-free cellphone
  •      Listening to the radio
  •      Listening to an audio book
  •      Composing a text and/or email using voice-activated technology
  •      Talking to a passenger in the vehicle

Why driving at night is riskier than daytime driving

The presence of cars, trucks and buses on Washington roadways does not stop once the sun sets for the day. The streets are still full of cars traveling home from work, or going out for a night of fun. While driving at night may not seem much different than daytime driving, the risk of losing your life is higher when you drive during nighttime hours. According to the National Safety Council, you are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident while driving at night. As a nighttime driver, it is critical that you understand what these factors are so that you can minimize your chances of becoming involved in an accident. 

One of the most prominent changes you experience while driving at night is a lack of natural light. The reduced amount of light can affect your ability to see objects in the road, pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic signs and other drivers. Your eyes may also have limited capabilities at night, as your depth perception, peripheral vision and focus may all be affected by reduced light levels. This can make it hard to judge the distance and speed of an oncoming car as you turn into traffic. 

Driver error often responsible for truck rollovers

Media coverage pertaining to large truck accidents can look terrifying, but like many Washington residents, you may believe it is something that will never happen to you. Unfortunately, as we are aware at the Greaney Scudder Law Firm, serious motor vehicle accidents can happen without warning to anyone. Accidents involving semis can be some of the most devastating.

Rollover accidents are common among large trucks, since big rigs can be unbalanced and more easily lose control than smaller vehicles. You may have seen photographs of an 18-wheeler tipped on its side or rolled down an embankment, which can be frightening just to look at. As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explains, truck driver error is often found to be the cause of rollover accidents, in the following ways:

  • Shifting or improperly loaded cargo
  • Speeding, changing lanes too quickly or taking a turn too fast
  • Inadequately maintained brakes or tires

What are damages resulting from loss of consortium?

Some damages that result from an accident in the state of Washington are easy to convert into dollars and cents. For instance, you can compute how much money it will take to cover the repair bill for your car. But when it comes to loss of consortium, damages take on a noneconomic nature. They are not easily computed into monetary amounts. Nonetheless, the losses sustained from loss of consortium are very real to the family of the injury victim.

FindLaw defines a loss of consortium as a loss of familial and relational benefits as a result of a family member sustaining injury. Sometimes a loss of consortium is called a loss of companionship or a loss of affection, and for good reason. For example, a wife that is severely injured in a car wreck may wind up disabled and cannot care for children or provide intimacy to her spouse. These would be considered damages under loss of consortium.

Is it risky to turn right on a red light?

Many Washington motorists think nothing of turning right at a red light. Provided that there are no circumstances to dictate otherwise, it is legal to make a right turn if you stop first at a red light. Still, this does not mean that right turns on red do not present some added risk to anyone crossing the intersection at the time someone makes a right turn. The Bellingham Herald explains how these risks may manifest themselves.

It was not until 1980 that all fifty states had actually legalized making a right turn after stopping at a red light. The states made these changes so that cars would save fuel while driving. However, analysis that followed this policy change discovered that accidents and crashes were more likely to occur, with one study finding that total crashes were up 23 percent at intersections that permitted right turns on red.

Man dies after oxygen equipment malfunctions

While the death of a loved one is never something easy to process, it can be significantly more traumatizing when it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Situations, where a person's death was caused by the negligence, ignorance or recklessness of another, are extra complicated for families in Washington. 

For one family in South Carolina, the pain of losing their loved one has been excruciating. The family claims the incident began when their loved one had received treatment at a local medical facility for a stroke. As part of treatment, it was determined that the man would be set up with oxygen in his home so he could have assistance breathing. The family claims that the apparatus that should have been carefully checked and monitored before the caretakers had left, was improperly connected. As a result, the man was not getting adequate oxygen and ultimately ended up suffocating which resulted in his death. 

What is negligent entrustment?

As the owner of a vehicle in Kent, you (and others) owe a duty of care to each other that your cars, trucks or SUV's not cause them any harm out on the road. That duty is typically fulfilled by you and other vehicle owners driving safely. Yet does it also extend to vehicle owners permitting others to use their vehicles? If you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who was using another's vehicle, then you might wonder what sort of liability the vehicle owner may face. That all depends on whether negligent entrustment applies to your case. 

The legal doctrine of negligent entrustment allows vicarious liability to be assigned to third parties for damages caused by one to whom they entrusted with a potentially dangerous instrument (such as a car). There are two key elements that must be present in order to apply negligent entrustment to your case: knowledge and consent. First, the vehicle owner must have known (or should have known) that the person they were loaning their car to was an incompetent or reckless driver. Indeed, when establishing the state's standard for negligent entrustment, Washington State Superior Court rulings adhere to the following definition: "A person entrusting a vehicle to another may be liable under a theory of negligent entrustment only if that person knew, or should have known in the exercise of ordinary care, that the person to whom the vehicle was entrusted is reckless, heedless, or incompetent."

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