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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Documenting car accident damages and injuries

When filing a claim following a car accident in Missouri, accident victims tend to be more likely to get a fair payment or settlement if damages and injuries are well documented. It's a process that often goes smoother if an affected party remains calm so important details can be recalled. However, before any documentation of damages begins, the standard recommendation is to call 911 first to deal with emergency issues related to an accident first.

Generally, it's best for everyone involved to leave their vehicles where the accident occurred unless it's not safe to do so. If possible, victims of car accidents are also advised to take photographs before the police or other drivers move vehicles. The next step is for an involved party to get contact information from other drivers and witnesses. It can be helpful for a victim to remain neutral and calm when doing so to avoid potential confrontations so that everything can be properly documented.

NTSB releases list of most wanted traffic safety improvements

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List, and both truckers and truck fleet owners in Missouri should take note because 6 out of the 10 desired items relate to the trucking industry. The first item is to eliminate distracted driving. Among other things, the NTSB recommends that all states ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices with the exception of navigation software.

The organization also wishes to see an end to impaired driving and asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for access to positive drug and alcohol test results. The FMCA is also advised to create a plan for reducing the use of impairing substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, among truckers.

What the GHSA recommends to reduce speeding deaths

Throughout Missouri and the rest of the U.S., speeding accounts for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths. Since speeding does not have the cultural stigma that DUI or driving without a seat belt has, it is often seen as acceptable and continues to pose a threat, especially to pedestrians and bicyclists. That's why the Governors Highway Safety Association has released a report recommending ways to tackle the challenge.

Stricter law enforcement and better education are especially important. The report also recommends that safer driving environments be engineered. In particular, roundabouts and other traffic-calming structures could be helpful. The GHSA's State Highway Safety Offices are in a unique position within the state governments to spearhead such efforts.

Proposed legislation aims to restrict cell phone use

Since 2014, there has been a 35 percent increase in the number of accidents related to cell phone use in the state of Missouri. To help prevent these accidents, lawmakers in the state have introduced a variety of legislation to further restrict or ban the use of phones while driving. Currently, those who are younger than 21 or drive a commercial vehicle cannot text while doing so.

The most recent proposals call for barring all drivers from texting as well as prohibiting the use of cell phones entirely in school zones. If the proposed legislation to ban all drivers from texting passes, the penalty would be $50. That fine would double if the infraction occurs in a school or construction zone. Those who violate the current texting while driving ban could be required to pay a possible fine of up to $200. Furthermore, two points could be added to a driver's license.

Missouri ranks poorly in terms of traffic safety laws

If someone asks you what helps to keep drivers safe on the road, one thing that may come to your mind is the law. Traffic laws are vital to keeping drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians safe. Therefore, it is important to take a look at the traffic safety measures in Missouri.

Unfortunately, Missouri ranks poorly in terms of highway laws according to a new study. Missouri only has four out of 16 important traffic laws. Here is why Missouri drivers may be at a higher risk of accidents and injuries. 

Tips for avoiding drowsy driving in Missouri

Almost one third of respondents to a AAA survey said that they drove drowsy to the point of having drooping eyelids at least once in the previous month. Drowsy driving is a serious danger, and even the best-intentioned drivers cannot avoid it. In its effects, sleep deprivation has been compared to alcohol. The National Sleep Foundation says driving after being awake for 24 hours is like driving with .10 percent blood alcohol content.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night. Those who find themselves drowsy even after this should see a doctor since they may have a sleep disorder. For example, obstructive sleep apnea is marked by pauses in breathing while one is sleeping, and this disruption will naturally lead to drowsiness in the day. A doctor could also adjust the regimen of a patient's medications to prevent sleepiness on the road.

Ridesharing industry plagued by sleep-deprived drivers

In April 2018, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine called sleep deprivation in the ridesharing industry a public safety risk. Its position statement made some points that should be of interest to all motorists in Missouri. Sleep deprivation leads to alterations in the body's circadian rhythm that can cause sharper peaks of sleepiness in the early mornings and late nights.

Unfortunately, many ridesharing drivers undervalue sleep and overwork themselves. Low fares and salary incentives factor into the trend as well. Some drivers may suffer from conditions that reduce attentiveness, such as obstructive sleep apnea. However, since they are independent contractors, they're never screened for such conditions.

Why truck accidents are usually more serious than car crashes

Missouri residents are often surprised to know that there are major differences between accidents that involve cars and ones that involve trucks. A tractor-trailer crash is usually more serious for all vehicles involved in the incident.

Trucks usually have larger insurance policies when compared to smaller vehicles because of the additional risks associated with them. In fact, these policies can be up to 50 times larger than average car policies. A trucking policy is likely to be over $1 million, which makes the stakes quite high for the insurance company.

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Missouri?

When people in Missouri lose a loved one due to someone else's harmful actions or negligent behavior, they may wonder what they can do to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Those responsible may face criminal charges connected to someone's death, but in many cases, the criminal courts may not provide a clear path to accountability. In addition, the loss of a family member can devastate people financially as well as emotionally. In many cases, the deceased was relied upon to support growing children or aging parents.

People who have had a loved one taken from them by someone else's actions may go to court to seek compensation for some of their losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. Only specified family members have a cause of action under Missouri state law. The spouse, children or parents of a deceased person may file a wrongful death lawsuit. An unmarried partner does not have standing to file a case, although any children of the relationship would have the right to sue.

NHTSA and FMCSA look into worrying increase in truck accidents

Missouri motorists might be aware that the number of truck accidents around the country has risen in the last 10 years. This is concerning for road safety advocates because about 15 million semi-tractor trailers transport about 70 percent of the goods purchased in the United States. To better understand the causes of this disturbing rise in truck accidents and truck accident deaths, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studied a representative example of about 120,000 fatal truck accidents that took place over a 33-month period.

Deadly truck crashes are often blamed on inexperienced, impatient or reckless passenger vehicle drivers, but the NHTSA and FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study suggests that truck drivers are more often responsible. About three-quarters of the accidents studied by the federal safety agencies involved a semi-tractor trailer striking at least one other vehicle, and more than half of them were caused by truck drivers who made a mistake of some sort.

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