Reduce Crash Fatalities in Indiana by 50 Percent?
Recently Indiana released their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Highway Safety Plan, prepared by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI). The Traffic Safety Division (TSD) of the ICJI is responsible for managing the federal funds that support the state programs focused on decreasing Indiana’s traffic injuries and deaths. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has a stated goal of cutting U.S. traffic fatalities in half from 2007 levels by 2027. The ICJI wants to achieve Indiana’s portion of this goal. They’ve announced their intent to decrease Indiana’s traffic deaths by around 20 per year, ending at 496 fatalities in 2027. 2018 is approximately the halfway point between 2007 and 2027, so we took a look at the ICJI’s FY 2018 Highway Safety Plan to assess Indiana’s progress toward its stated goal. Unfortunately, the mid-term grade shows that Indiana is failing. At the halfway point, you might expect the number of traffic deaths ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Vehicle Accidents
How About Some Good News?
October 15, 2018

How About Some Good News?

It’s not all bad news these days, despite how you might feel after regular exposure to the media. Our state police have received a high honor related to keeping us safe on interstates and Indiana state roads. The enforcement officers and civilian employees of the Indiana State Police’s (ISP) Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division were acclaimed best in the nation at making sure large trucks obey our laws and safety standards. Their oversight has prevented countless accidents, injuries, and deaths involving tractor-trailers, according to the 2018 study done by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). ATRI’s president, Rebecca Brewster, awarded Gov. Eric Holcomb and ISP officials a plaque in August, 2018, honoring Indiana’s status of No. 1 in the United States. Gov. Holcomb commented, “I’m proud to stand with these men and women who wake up each and every day and don’t know what’s coming at them, but they just knock it out of the ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
Can Cell Phones Prevent Distracted Driving?
You probably had to read the title twice, right? While cell phones are often the primary cause of distracted driving, the increased attention and concern with regard to this problem is leading to some creative ways to address the role of mobile phones and distracted drivers. Technology companies, truck fleets, and Indiana police officers all have innovative ways to prevent distraction and help identify distracted drivers. Distraction affects a driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive abilities—often all three simultaneously. But help is here. The Right App Technology and automotive companies have been putting their minds together to help prevent distracted driving by creating apps for your smartphone. The proper smartphone app can actually thwart your efforts to engage in distracted driving by blocking your ability to do so. One such company is DistractFree, started by a group of Georgia Tech grads. The DistractFree app is paired with a token you place inside your car. Together, they ... Continue Reading
Distracted Driving, Vehicle Accidents
Indianapolis Road Construction: Are You Safer Now?
While we all appreciate the potholes being filled in before Old Man Winter arrives again, road construction and maintenance can make us groan with impatience. Some road repairs can lead to improved road safety, such as when guardrails are added, when engineering errors are corrected to create a safer roadway, or, yes, when fixing potholes. Other repairs with positive results include new traffic lights, new pedestrian safety features, improved traffic flow patterns, and road expansions that will decrease congestion. These projects can all be good investments toward improved road quality and safety. However, there is also reason for caution when new road construction projects get underway, because work zones can present unique hazards for drivers and for workers. Work Zone Crash and Fatality Numbers In the United States during 2015, 70 work zone crashes produced at least one injury every day, and the incidence of collisions is rising. The number of work zone crashes in ... Continue Reading
Vehicle Accidents, Worker Injury
Fall 2018 May Bring More Motorcyclist Deaths
If you ride a motorcycle, you most likely have a favorite season. For many riders, it’s the fall. Or, perhaps your motorcycle is your main means of transport, so you ride it year-round. A greater number of people are enjoying motorcycles these days: it’s estimated that more than 8 million motorcycles are regularly cruising our highways. However, enjoying the pleasures of biking comes with a downside—motorcycle deaths in Indiana have jumped higher, and they are likely to keep climbing. The shifting seasons can play a part in motorcycle fatalities. Colder weather, along with shorter days, means that you’ll need to adapt to seasonal differences in order to ride your motorcycle more safely. Unique Autumn Risks While the cooler weather for riding offers welcome relief from Indiana’s sultry summer, taking your bike on the road during the fall produces some hazards that don’t occur at other times of the year. Some of these risks include: Glare ... Continue Reading
Drunk Driving, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury
A New Danger to Workers: Climate Change
Temperatures around the world have been rising for several years, and it looks as if 2018 may be considered one of the hottest summers on record. Extreme heat has already killed dozens of people in the U.S. this summer. For those who must earn their living by working outside in the heat, rising temperatures have placed them at risk. Several workers have already died during the summer of 2018 from dangerous heat conditions. Heat can also seriously injure workers who exert themselves for lengthy periods of time without breaks or adequate protection. If you have suffered an injury due to another’s negligence, you can be assured that our attorneys, Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife, are willing to go the distance for you and your family, because we believe justice matters. Call McNeely Stephenson today or use our online contact form. Heat-Related Illness and Death Approximately 15 million workers in the U.S. have jobs requiring that ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Worker Injury
Dangerous Hope Chests
September 3, 2018

Dangerous Hope Chests

Do you have a cedar chest, otherwise known as a “hope chest,” in your home? Perhaps you inherited it, or maybe you bought it secondhand. If you have children in your home, pay close attention to the following recall. They could be at great risk. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants everyone who has a cedar chest in their home to check and see whether it is a “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” brand chest. These chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987 have been recalled because, when the lid closes, it locks automatically. It is this flaw that has suffocated 14 children who have gotten trapped inside. A few cases stand out: During 2001 alone, three St. Louis, Missouri, kids suffocated together in a chest, and two brothers died inside a Springfield, Massachusetts, chest. In Unity, Wisconsin, three sisters suffocated in a chest (2002). In Somerset County, Pennsylvania, two brothers died inside a chest ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Product Injury
Can That Truck Stop?
August 27, 2018

Can That Truck Stop?

Large trucks are subject to many regulations and inspection processes to ensure that they are safe and roadworthy. But if a truck’s braking systems do not work, all the other regulations and inspections do not mean much. If a truck can’t stop, devastation and destruction of human life often follow. In a major study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it was determined that, when a large truck crash was caused by a mechanical failure, it was the brakes that were responsible 29.4 percent of the time, making it the most common cause. The statistic encompasses any brake-related issue, including brakes that are out of adjustment and actual brake failure. In all, approximately 41,000 truck crashes were associated with faulty braking systems. The FMCSA also discovered that nearly one-third of large trucks tagged with pre-crash safety violations had braking system problems. Semis Need More Room Tractor-trailers can’t stop as quickly as cars ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Truck Accidents, Vehicle Accidents
Tailgating Trucks? They Might Be Platooning
The next time you see one tractor-trailer closely tailgating another, the situation could be normal—the new normal, that is. Something called “platooning” is becoming legal in a number of states as technology advances, making this sort of behavior not only legally acceptable, but also safe. What is Platooning? Wireless electronic communications combined with other technology allow two semis to follow each other at close distances—as close as 30 feet in some cases. The most critical piece of the system is the communication portion that tells the second truck to brake as soon as the first truck does, often within ten milliseconds, and with no driver intervention. In other words, the two trucks brake more or less simultaneously. But platooning does not involve self-driving trucks. Both trucks have drivers who are fully engaged in their vehicle’s operation. The driver in the rear truck cannot simply sit there and get bored. And, if you’re wondering about how ... Continue Reading
Truck Accidents, Vehicle Accidents
Liability and the Duck Boat Calamity
Duck boats have become popular for visitor tours, possibly because they are quirky and versatile. As amphibious vessels, they can travel both on water and on land because they have tires. But near Branson, Missouri, a duck boat sank on July 19, 2018, during a thunderstorm. The Table Rock Lake tragedy killed 17 people, including nine from one family alone; only one female family member survived. The vessels have a checkered past when it comes to safety. Nearly 40 people have died in duck boat accidents in the last 20 years. A partial list includes: May, 1999: On Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Arkansas, 13 people died when a duck boat sank. July, 2010: On the Delaware River in Philadelphia, two young people died when a barge hit the disabled duck boat they were on. September, 2015: In Seattle, five students died when a duck boat collided with a bus. April, 2016: A woman died ... Continue Reading
Product Injury, Wrongful Death
What Does “Loss of Consortium” Mean?
In a personal injury case, most of the damage claims are based on the injuries and suffering of the accident victim; but some damages are based on the suffering of loved ones. One of these types of damages is called loss of consortium. You may have heard the phrase and wondered about it. Generally, loss of consortium is intended to compensate the victim’s loved ones for the repercussions that the victim’s injuries or death have caused. Specifically, it applies to relationship losses that occurred between the accident victim and the loved one(s). While some states permit long-term partners and children to seek loss of consortium damages, in Indiana, loss of consortium is limited to spouses. Damages can be sought for the loss of love, companionship, affection, support, and intimate relations. The Indiana Supreme Court has held that damage recovery for loss of consortium is valid for the “loss of care, love and affection” of a ... Continue Reading
Catastrophic Injuries, Personal Injury
A “Wake-Up Call”?
July 30, 2018

A “Wake-Up Call”?

Among young adults, the death rate from 1999 to 2013 dropped 33 percent. However, the death rate abruptly reversed direction between 2013 and 2016, rising 12 percent.  According to a recent report released June 1, 2018, by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). the increase in deaths is due to motor vehicle accidents, drug overdoses, suicides, and homicides, and not to illnesses like cancer, heart disease, or infections. Surprised by the Numbers The lead author of the report, CDC statistician Sally Curtin, expressed astonishment over the findings: “When I first conceded to do this report 2½ years ago, I thought that we would be documenting a decline. We were surprised that there was such a broad increase across so many causes of death. There wasn’t just one that was contributing.” Of the unintentional injury deaths, 62 percent came from traffic fatalities; poisoning (mostly drug overdoses) ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Wrongful Death
Make Your Time off Safer
It’s high summer, and there’s no denying that many of our minds are on vacation time and having fun. Whether you’ll be driving, taking a plane, or staying home, we have some ideas for you so that your entire family can enjoy vacation time safely. Hitting the Highway AAA estimates that nearly 47 million of us will be on the road over the Fourth of July holiday alone. If you’ll be joining the many millions traveling by passenger vehicle this summer, make sure your car or SUV is in good repair well before you leave. If you’ll be bringing larger or heavier items or towing something, learn how to do so properly. Things to do before you leave include: Check your tire pressure and tread. Your tires are critical to safe driving. Make sure your wipers are ready to go. Replace them if they appear brittle or are several years old. Losing a wiper during ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Vehicle Accidents
Don’t Leave the Kids in the Car!
Summer’s heat is in full swing, and with it comes an increased number of reports about children dying because they were left in a hot car. On average, each year 37 kids lose their lives to this senseless, avoidable tragedy. In June 2018 alone, we’ve already had two regional deaths due to hot cars: a 3-year-old in Anderson, Indiana, and a 2-year-old in Crittenden, Kentucky. To date in Indiana (late June, 2018), nine kids have suffered motor vehicle heat stroke death. In Kentucky, the number is 17 pediatric heat stroke deaths. Within 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees. If it’s 90 degrees outside, that’s an inside-the-car temperature of 110, which can be deadly to a child after little more than a few minutes. The Facts about Temperature, Cars, and Kids It’s not only the 90-degree days you need to worry about. It’s not even the 75-degree days. Testing done by ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Vehicle Accidents
Death from a “Mech Mod” Vape Pen
It’s been noted previously that e-cigarettes can explode, usually because of the lithium-ion (LI) battery in use. A number of e-cigarette accidents have taken place with horrific results. But in May, 2018, a vape pen malfunction meant death in St. Petersburg, Florida, where a man was found burned on 80 percent of his body. It is believed to be the first death directly attributed to a vape pen or e-cigarette. But it wasn’t the burns that killed him. He died because the force of the explosion drove two pieces of the vape pen into his skull. The man was using something called a mechanical mod vape pen, or a “mech mod.” Mech mods are frequently used by more experienced vapers, but they expose a person to more hazards. What Are E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens? E-cigarettes differ from vape pens in that the latter have twice the battery power and a larger amount of flavored liquid ... Continue Reading
Personal Injury, Product Injury