April 2012 Archives

Q & A: Missouri Teens, First Cars & Safety Concerns

329556_chevy_cherry_2.jpgOur southeast Missouri car accident attorneys understand that parents want to do everything in their power to keep their children safe on our roadways. For years, car accidents have been the leading cause of death for teenagers. Choosing a vehicle can be a difficult process: where does a parent start? Parents often have several questions about what kind of car is appropriate for a newly licensed driver: Should you buy new or used? What kind of vehicle is best? Which vehicle will keep them the safest? Below, we offer some information to help answer those questions.

Should I buy a new or used vehicle for my teen driver?

For most parents, finances have to factor into this decision. It's true that spending the extra money on a new vehicle can have its advantages. "Buying a new car is insurance against breakdowns and repairs, regardless of the age or experience of the driver," says Bob Gritzinger, executive editor of AutoWeek.com.

However, you can also purchase an economical, safe used vehicle for your teen, provided you do your homework. If you get a certified pre-owned car, then you will still get the advantages of a new-car like warranty. Going certified pre-owned can also help you to score some excellent financing rates. In a late-model used car, your child will still have the benefits of airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control, according to Forbes.

What's more, just because your teen would prefer a new car doesn't make the purchase sensible. "A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

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Insurance Paperwork & Southeast Missouri Car Accidents: A Few Basic Tips

Paperwork.jpgOur southeast Missouri personal injury lawyers know how overwhelming it can be to deal with insurance paperwork following a car accident. In this post, we offer some helpful tips and useful information to make the process less daunting.

Organize Your Paperwork

The first pro-active step to take (for your own protection and peace of mind) is to organize and read through your policies. It's important to keep this paperwork organized efficiently: as tempting as it may be to simply shove it in a drawer, it's helpful to be able to locate your policy information quickly. This simple step can save you time and stress if an accident happens.

Keep a separate file for all of your policies. Ideally, it's best to keep them in a fire-proof, water-tight location. If the worst happens, you want to have your policies safe and accessible. Use a file that is easily portable, in case you have to leave quickly in an emergency.

Review Your Policies

An insurance policy is a legal document: it's a formal contract. And like other kinds of legal documents, many people find them confusing. It helps to simply know what you're looking at when you review your policy.

It's important that you know what kind of protection your coverage provides: take some time to ensure that you have enough coverage to protect yourself, and that you understand your rights. Ask yourself these questions:

• Will the money paid out provide enough to repair or replace my vehicle, if needed?
• Can I afford the deductible?
• And, importantly, will the policy cover any medical expenses?

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Drunk Driving Accident Causes 2 Fatalities in Poplar Bluff, Missouri

NightWater2_3008x2000.jpgOur Cape Girardeau car accident lawyers frequently represent the victims of drunk drivers. While public education and awareness about impaired driving are at an all-time high, these accidents still result in the deaths of hundreds of Missourians - and many more injuries - every single year. Last weekend, a suspected impaired driver in Poplar Bluff caused a 1 vehicle accident resulting in the deaths of her passengers.

It happened early Saturday morning around 4:00 a.m. Police estimate that 24 year-old Christina Aldridge was going at least 48 miles per hour on Saxon Drive when she failed to see a stop sign. She hit her brakes too late, causing her 2001 Jeep Cherokee to skid through the intersection, cross Ashcroft Road, flip over, and plunge into the Black River.

The Jeep landed on its roof in the water and was completely submerged: witnesses who live on Saxon Drive reported hearing a loud boom, and then Aldridge crying out for help. Aldridge was able to escape the vehicle through the driver's side window, which was open at the time of the crash, and witnesses helped her reach the riverbank. She was not injured. Her passengers, however, were trapped. It took a tow truck and several divers from the Missouri Highway Patrol to retrieve the vehicle later that morning: when they did, they found 25 year-old Joshua Phelps in the front passenger seat, and 29 year-old Jason Carrington in the back seat. Their windows were closed. No one in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.

According to officers from the Poplar Bluff Police Department, Aldridge admitted that she had been drinking all evening. She was arrested and booked for driving while intoxicated and 2 counts of manslaughter: she remains jailed in Butler County. Yesterday, autopsies were scheduled to be performed on Phelps and Carrington, although Butler County Coroner Jim Akers said "evidence at the scene indicates they did not die as a result of injuries from the accident," reports the Southeast Missourian. Akers believes the autopsies will show that the 2 men died of drowning.

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Staying Safe: Tips & Practices for Bicyclists in Southeastern Missouri

422002_bicycle accident.jpgRiding a bicycle in Jackson, Missouri and surrounding Cape Girardeau County is not only a fantastic way to exercise: it's also an economical and green mode of travel. However, bicycling can also pose some risks. Our Jackson car accident lawyers think it's always best be prepared before an accident happens. Ride safely, follow motorist laws, and read the following post for a few suggested extra precautions.

Tips To Follow In Case of A Bicycle Accident:

Carry a cell phone. You probably already do, but carrying a cell phone when you're riding a bike is an added safety precaution. Not only can you call for help if you are involved in a bicycle accident, but a cell phone can also come in handy to document the accident scene.

Carry paper and pen, or some way of recording information. If you are involved in an accident, collect the names and contact information for all drivers and witnesses. Paper will come in handy if you need to exchange information. Many witnesses have to leave the scene before law enforcement can arrive, so make sure you get their information.

Carry identification. Some bicyclists make copies of their driver's licenses and write their emergency contact information (as well as auto and home insurance info) on the back. Also, record any medical information, such as blood type, drug allergies or any other important medical conditions. Depending on your policy, your auto insurance may pay some of your medical bills (or possibly the entire claim) if an uninsured motorist hits you. Your homeowner's policy may protect you if someone claims you did something wrong and damaged personal property.

If your cell phone isn't equipped with a camera, carry a disposable camera with you. If an accident does happen, you can use it to photograph the scene.

Keep your records up to date. Keep current pictures of your bicycle along with your maintenance records. If your bicycle is damaged you want to have proof of value. If you have expensive equipment added to your bicycle or that you carry with you for your commute, keep these inventoried (with pictures and receipts as well).

Follow all laws. Keep abreast of traffic rules and follow them when you are on a roadway. Be alert, and remember, a bicyclist can be hard for a driver to see.

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Do Older Drivers Contribute to Car Accident Risks in Southeast Missouri?

file0001892987565.jpgAs baby boomers mature, the population of older drivers increases. It may not be just teen drivers that pose the highest dangers to other motorists anymore.

Our Southeast Missouri car accident lawyers understand that the effects of growing old can be alarming. It's important for families keep an eye on their loved ones, especially on their parents and grandparents, to make sure that they're still able to safely operate a motor vehicle. If you think they might be at risk because of an age-related condition, you are urged to speak up. It's certainly a difficult conversation to have, but remind yourself that you're bringing up the topic in the interest of your loved one's safety and well-being.

It's a fact of life: there are several unfortunate (and often unavoidable) symptoms that accompany old age. Drivers 65 and older made up nearly 20% of all licensed drivers in 2008, and those drivers over age 75 have proven to be high-risk on the road. Old age can often cause a loss of coordination, cognitive function, or eyesight, along with a decline in other skills, according to US News. When motorists start to experiencing these symptoms, it may be time for them to stop driving - for their safety, and for the safety of others.

A recent editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) recommends imposing restrictions on seniors' licenses. Using recent research, the writers argue for "a graduated license program akin to the one for teenagers, which has prohibitions against driving at night, on freeways, or with any blood alcohol level - even one below the legal limit," according to International Business News. Presently, in Canada, seniors' licenses are only restricted after they accumulate multiple traffic violations. Researchers Donald Redelmeier (Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto) and Matthew Stanbrook (CMAJ deputy editor) write that "this approach is often too late to prevent injuries."

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