I've been injured in a Cape Girardeau car crash: What now?

95448_accident_3.jpgThe aftermath of a serious car accident can be a confusing, overwhelming time for injury victims, who often have numerous questions and concerns. In this post, our Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers answer some of the questions we commonly hear from car accident victims.

What are the most important steps to take immediately after a car accident?

If you've involved in a collision, stay at the scene and contact authorities. First and foremost, call for an ambulance if anyone was injured in the crash - getting immediate medical attention for injury victims is the most essential step. You'll also want to speak with the responding law enforcement officers about the circumstances surrounding the accident. Doing so will create a formal record of the incident that may be extremely important in the future.

What information do I need to keep a record of?

When you can, collect as much information as possible at the accident scene - it's a good idea to keep a pen and paper in your vehicle, just in case you need them. Write down the time, date, and location of the accident, along with names and contact information for all involved parties and witnesses. Exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved in the crash. Finally, if you've been injured, it's also a good idea to make some notes about the nature/extent of any and all injuries you sustained.

How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?

The best way to know for sure is to speak with a personal injury lawyer. In general, however, you may have a personal injury claim if you suffered physical injury caused by the negligence of another party. This negligence need not involve intentional wrongdoing - if another driver's carelessness or unreasonable conduct caused you bodily harm, that driver may be liable for your injuries.

Do I need to file a claim within a specific time frame?

Yes, Missouri's statute of limitations limits the time frame in which a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. Also, there may be other time limits, notice requirements and restrictions that narrow the time period within which you must file a claim. A personal injury attorney can review the specific details surrounding your accident and help you understand any time restrictions that may apply to your claim.

How do I know what my case is worth?

Numerous factors can affect the value of a personal injury claim, including your reasonably related expenses, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Determining what a case is worth requires a full evaluation of your injuries and damages.

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Traumatic brain injury & southeast Missouri auto accidents: Facts for injury victims

666037_x-ray_head.jpgAs Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers, we know that car accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The Brain Injury Association identifies two main types of TBIs: penetrating injuries, where a foreign object penetrates the brain and damages specific tissues; and closed head injuries, where a blow to the head causes the brain to knock against the inside of the skull. Closed head injuries can result in primary brain damage, or damage that is complete at the time of the injury (i.e. bruises, contusions, skull fractures, etc.), but they can also cause secondary brain damages, or damage that manifests itself over time. In the case of secondary brain damage, symptoms may not present themselves immediately following an injury. That's why it's so important to seek medical attention following a head injury, even if you think you're not badly hurt.

Here are a few common symptoms of TBIs:

• Severe, persistent headache
• Drowsiness, dizziness or loss of vision
• Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
• Abnormal behavior
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stiffness in the neck or shoulders
• Slurred speech
• Confusion or loss of consciousness

Facts about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and Missouri car accidents:

• About two million Americans suffer various forms of head injuries each year, and about 5.3 million live with a long term disability caused by a TBI.

• TBIs cause about 34% of all injury deaths, and auto accidents cause about 28% of all TBIs and about 31.8% of all TBI fatalities.

• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBIs can result in numerous short or long term health consequences, depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Individuals suffering from TBIs may experience changes to their thinking (memory and reasoning); sensations (touch, taste and smell); language (speech, communication and understanding); and emotion (personality, mood and behavioral changes).

• A TBI victim is more likely to develop epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other brain disorders.

• Treatment for a TBI may involve immediate emergency care, medications (like diuretics and anti-seizure drugs), surgical procedures (to repair skull fractures, remove blood clots or relieve pressure on the brain), and rehabilitation. These forms of treatment can result in numerous medical expenses, both in the present and throughout the victim's life.

• Annually, direct and indirect costs associated with TBIs amount to an estimated $43.8 billion. For a single person who survives a severe TBI, lifetime costs can reach $4 million.

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Catastrophic injuries & Missouri car accidents: Frequently asked questions

Thumbnail image for 1114180_-_im_still_mobile_-.jpgOn average, more than two million Americans suffer injuries in car accidents each year. In all too many cases, the victims of these crashes are left with catastrophic injuries, which can have an enormous impact on the victims' future quality of life. A catastrophic injury can leave an individual unable to work and in need of constant care - while accruing extensive medical expenses. Often, these injuries occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and they have long-term implications not just for the victims, but for their families and loved ones. The aftermath of such an injury can be a confusing, overwhelming time for everyone involved.

If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in an auto accident caused by another driver's negligence, it may be beneficial to seek advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can review the specific details of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

What is a catastrophic injury?

A catastrophic injury is an injury that causes permanent disability or results in the need for long-term medical treatment and/or rehabilitation. Here are some examples of catastrophic injuries that are common in serious car accidents:

• Severe burn injuries, which can require multiple surgeries and cause chronic pain and suffering, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and physical limitations.

• Injuries to the back, neck or spinal cord, which can cause permanent disability, paraplegia and quadriplegia.

• Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can impair a victim's motor skills, speech, sight and memory. TBI's can also cause psychological issues like mood swings, depression and insomnia.

• Bone injuries or loss of limb, including fractures and permanently damaged joints, which can limit mobility and necessitate multiple medical procedures.

What kind of compensation is available in a catastrophic injury case?

Victims of catastrophic injury may be entitled to compensation for their expenses and damages, which may include medical bills, missed work, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other losses. The amount and kind of compensation available varies, depending on the case.

The other driver's insurance company keeps calling me. What should I say?

You have no legal duty to cooperate with adjusters who represent the at-fault driver's insurer. We encourage you to speak with a lawyer before you give an adjuster a recorded statement about your accident and before you sign any documents. In many cases, accident victims feel pressured to accept a settlement offer just to put the ordeal behind them. However, especially in the case of catastrophic injury, you need to make sure that your current and future needs are met before you settle your claim. In many cases, accepting a settlement means that you are waiving your right to receive any future compensation from the insurer.

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Proving your Missouri personal injury claim: What Cape Girardeau accident victims need to know

274334_car_crash.jpgWhen filing a Cape Girardeau personal injury claim, auto accident victims must prove that another driver was negligent in order to collect monetary damages following a crash. Negligence is defined as "a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances." In general, drivers can be negligent in two basic ways: (1) by doing something careless or illegal; or (2) by failing to do something that should have been done. If another driver's negligence caused you to sustain injury in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation, and you may need to seek advice from a Missouri personal injury lawyer.

Here are the four elements of a successful Missouri personal injury claim:

• The law requires drivers to use the "highest degree of care." Under Section 304.012 of Missouri law, Missourians are required to drive "in a careful and prudent manner...so as not to endanger the property of another or the life and limb of any person."

• The other driver did not use the highest degree of care. To determine whether or not another driver violated his or her duty of care, the law will compare that driver's actions to that of a reasonable, careful driver. Was there speed involved in the crash? Was the driver following traffic laws? Was he or she following too closely? Or keeping a watchful eye out for pedestrians? If the other driver is guilty a traffic violation - and especially if he or she was cited by police - your attorney can use that violation as evidence that the driver was not using the highest degree of care.

• Because the driver failed to use the highest degree of care, you suffered injuries. A successful personal injury claim must demonstrate that another driver's lack of care led to your physical injury and financial losses. For instance, let's say a driver follows your vehicle too closely, causing a rear-end collision. You must demonstrate that your resulting back and neck injuries are a consequence of that rear-end collision, and not of another incident or accident. A personal injury lawyer may rely on testimony from your doctor (or from another expert witness) to establish this point.

• Because you suffered injuries, you also sustained damages and losses. You must prove that your injuries caused physical suffering and financial loss in order to receive compensation. If you haven't incurred any damages like medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering, you cannot recover compensation. For this reason, it's essential that you keep records of all your damages. We recommend that you keep all paperwork related to the accident in a folder or binder: that way, you have all pertinent information stored in the same place, and nothing is lost or forgotten.

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Aggressive drivers threaten roadway safety in southeast Missouri and nationwide

Thumbnail image for file00044382313.jpgIn a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, eight out of 10 respondents characterized aggressive driving as a "serious" or "extremely serious" threat to roadway safety. And it's true that aggressive drivers increase car accident risks in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and throughout the country. Our personal injury lawyers know that such accidents often have catastrophic consequences, including serious, life-threatening injury.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the term "aggressive driving" refers to a progression of illegal driving actions that endanger other people and/or property. These actions may include the following:

Speeding: Driving faster than the speed limit; or driving too fast for road, traffic or weather conditions

Improper or excessive lane changes: Failing to use a turn signal; or changing lanes suddenly and/or repeatedly without regard for other drivers and traffic

Improper passing: Failing to use a turn signal to show intent; or using an improper lane to pass, like an emergency lane or the shoulder of the road

Many people think that aggressive driving and road rage are the same thing, but that's actually not the case. Road rage is a criminal offense requiring the "willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others." Aggressive driving is a traffic offense, but ultimately it can prove to be just as dangerous - and deadly.

Am I an aggressive driver?
Here are a few basic behaviors that are common in aggressive drivers:

• Expressing your frustration with traffic or roadway conditions - and taking them out on drivers traveling near you

• Following too close ("tailgating"), which is a common cause of rear end collisions

• Whipping in and out of lanes

• Excessive speeding or racing

• Ignoring signs, stoplights or other traffic laws

What should I do if I encounter an aggressive driver in Kansas City?
NHTSA officials offer these basic tips:

Get out of harm's way. Your top priority should be to make sure you aren't in an aggressive driver's path. Whether it means slowing down, making a turn, or changing lanes, take the necessary steps to get out of the way.

Swallow your pride. Again, your safety - and the safety of your passengers - is paramount. Don't engage or challenge an aggressive driver by speeding up or cutting them off. Avoid eye contact, and ignore any gestures or comments.

Report the driver to police. If you see an aggressive driver whose behavior is putting other motorists in danger, you are encouraged to contact authorities. You just might be saving someone's life. (If you choose to call from your cell phone, be sure to pull over to a safe location.)

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Support the KFVS12 Heartland Winter Blood Drive, Jan. 10-12

1114174_red_plaster.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, our car accident lawyers are pleased to partner with KFVS12 for the upcoming Heartland Winter Blood Drive on January 10 to January 12, 2013. At this time of year, the American Red Cross typically sees a drop in blood donations because of factors like holiday travel, poor weather conditions and seasonal illness. All blood types are needed, so we'd like to encourage our readers in southeastern Missouri to come out and donate blood. While supplies last, donors will receive a Red Cross T-shirt and a $3.00 Subway gift card.

KFVS blood drive: How you can help

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment to give blood on January 10 (2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), January 11 (2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), or January 12 (10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) at any of these participating locations:

• Sikeston: Factory Outlet Mall
• Poplar Bluff: First United Methodist Church
• Cape Girardeau: West Park Mall
• Dexter: Fraternal Order of Eagles
• Perryville: Perry Park Center Gym
• Marion, IL: Illinois Star Centre Mall
• Carbondale. IL: University Mall

What you'll need:

• A blood donor card and driver's license (or two other forms of identification) are required to check in.

• Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in reasonably good health. (Note: High school students and donors age 18 and younger must meet specific height and weight requirements.)

• Donating blood involves four basic steps: registration; medical history and mini-physical; donation; and refreshments. Any information you give the Red Cross during the donation process is confidential.

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Off-duty highway patrolman killed in three-vehicle motorcycle crash

247384_e___motion.jpgThis evening, an off-duty highway patrol officer was killed while riding his personal motorcycle on California's Highway 12. According to the Napa Valley Register, 38 year-old John Fanene was traveling west when his motorcycle was clipped by an eastbound pickup truck that was attempting to turn left off the highway. The driver of the pickup, 39 year-old Edward Turner, reportedly saw Fanene at the last moment and attempted to accelerate through the turn, but Fanene struck the right rear side of the pickup.

Authorities say Fanene was ejected from his motorcycle on impact and thrown nearly 200 feet. He landed in the roadway, where he was struck by another eastbound vehicle. Fanene was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured. Police are investigating the accident, but drugs or alcohol are not believed to be contributing factors.

Sadly, many motorcycle accidents happen every year simply because drivers fail to see motorcyclists traveling near them. Consider the following facts:

• Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury than other motorists because they do not have the protection of an enclosed vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the number of motorcycle fatalities in 2010 was about 30 times the number of deaths in other types of auto accidents.

• Motorcycles are less visible than other kinds of passenger vehicles, and less stable in braking and swerving maneuvers.

• 2009 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that 42% of fatal two-vehicle motorcycle accidents occurred when a vehicle attempted to turn left while a motorcyclist was going straight or passing the vehicle.

So, what can motorcyclists do to help make themselves more visible to other motorists? Here are a few basic tips:

• Allow extra distance between your motorcycle and other vehicles. You need space in front of your bike in case an obstacle suddenly presents itself, so it's important to create an exit route, just in case you need it.

• Don't ride in other vehicles' blind spots. Your best bet is to ride

• Slow down as you're proceeding through intersections, and be aware of what other vehicles are doing. Position your motorcycle so it's clearly visible to motorists attempting to make left turns.

• Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing - and use your lights and signals to alert other motorists to your presence, and to your intentions.

• Ultimately, it's best to ride like other drivers can't see you. If you assume a driver sees you and you're wrong, you can put yourself in harm's way. Conversely, if you assume you can't be seen, you'll be prepared for the unexpected.

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Wrongful death / personal injury lawsuit against the Kraft Group will proceed to trial, judge rules

tennessee 070lthe long and winding road.jpgA Massachusetts judge has ruled that a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against the Kraft Group and other companies affiliated with Gillette Stadium can proceed to trial. According to the Boston Globe, the lawsuit is connected to a 2008 drunk driving crash that killed two young women and seriously injured a third.

On the day of the crash, the three women - Debra Davis, 20; Alexa Latteo, 19; and Nina Houlihan, then 20 - were drinking in the Gillette Stadium parking lot during the New England Country Music Festival, along with tens of thousands of other tailgaters. After leaving the lot around 6:00 p.m., they traveled approximately one mile before Latteo, the driver, lost control of her vehicle on a curve, left the roadway and struck a tree. Latteo and Davis, the front seat passenger, both died at the scene. Houlihan, who was riding in the back seat, sustained multiple fractures and a broken pelvis. A blood test later determined that Latteo had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.24% - three times the legal limit - when the accident occurred. Davis's BAC was 0.20%.

The lawsuit, filed by Davis's parents and Houlihan, argues that the Kraft Group is guilty of negligence, gross negligence and willful and wanton behavior. It maintains that the Kraft Group failed to properly monitor the parking lot to verify that everyone had a ticket to the concert, and to ensure minors weren't drinking on the premises.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the Kraft Group say the parking lot was marked with signs that said "No tickets, no entry." The three women did not have tickets to the concert, but had merely gone to Gillette to participate in the tailgating festivities. In addition, the Kraft Group maintains that the women brought their own alcohol to the facility, so the drinks weren't furnished by Gillette Stadium.

However, the lawyer representing Houlihan and the Davises disagrees with that assessment. "Supplying alcohol, furnishing, means to allow underage drinking to occur, whether you actually hand the alcohol to the party or sell it to them or not," attorney Joseph Borsellino, attorney for Houlihan and the Davises, told WBUR in Boston. "If you are allowing them to underage drink on your property and you're not doing enough to prevent, you are now furnishing them alcohol."

Davis's parents are seeking $2.5 million in damages. Houlihan is seeking $250,000.

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Are older drivers in Cape Girardeau, MO at a greater risk for auto accidents?

78226_dad.jpgAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), older drivers account for about nine percent of the general population, but they represent approximately 14 percent of all auto accident fatalities, and about 17 percent of pedestrian fatalities. As drivers age, they may find that changes to sight, hearing and reflexes can hinder their abilities behind the wheel, and it's common for their loved ones to worry about their safety. However, talking to senior drivers about these issues isn't always an easy task. "People have been driving their whole life and have trouble believing they're incapable of continuing," Richard Nix, executive director of Agingcare.com, told ABC News. "They feel like their independence has been taken away."

So, how do you know when it's time to bring up the subject? Here are some common warning signs for senior drivers, courtesy of SeniorDriving.AAA.com:

• Receiving two or more traffic tickets (or warnings) within the past two years
• Being involved in two or more collisions within the past two years
• Confusing the gas and brake pedals
• Disregarding or missing traffic signals
• Having difficulty remaining in his/her lane
• Getting lost or confused easily, even in familiar areas

If you're seeing these signs, it may be important to have a discussion about safety with your senior driver. Here are a few basic tips:

Be straightforward and respectful. Remember that these conversations are uncomfortable for all parties involved, and - understandably - they can make senior drivers defensive. Stay positive and supportive, and don't make generalizations about older drivers. Miriam Zucker, a geriatric care manager, recommends starting with something like this: "Dad, you've been a safe driver for 60 years, but with your cataracts, I know it's harder for you to drive at night. If you got hurt or hurt someone else, that would be awful."

Don't involve the whole family in the conversation. Inviting a large group of family members to an "intervention" style discussion can make an older driver feel targeted, ganged up on, and alienated. Keep the group small and non-threatening.

Don't violate your loved one's privacy. Don't talk with a driver's doctors, friends or neighbors about your safety concerns without asking permission first.

Don't jump to conclusions. Avoid making accusations and assumptions without knowing all the specific facts. Stick to what you know - for example, that a driver has a medical condition that could impair his or her driving skills.

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Do distracted driving laws stop drivers from texting?

file7071257952599.jpgDistracted driving car accidents in Kennett are deadly -- and preventable. According to the Chicago Tribune, many states are now taking an in-depth look at the causes, the consequences and the costs of distracted driving accidents.

One of the most dangerous distracting diving activities that a driver can engage in is texting. Texting behind the wheel takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the task of driving: in other words, it involves all three main forms of distraction (manual, visual and cognitive).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 20 percent of all deadly car accidents and more than 20 percent of all injury accidents involve some sort of driver distraction. Accidents caused by texting drivers are 100% preventable. No life is worth a text message.

At present, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have passed laws that ban texting for all drivers of all ages. Unfortunately, Missouri is not one of those 39 states. Our only distracted driving law bans texting in young drivers under age 21.

However, some states with texting bans in effect have reported difficulty enforcing these laws. For example, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State Troopers "have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking. Most drivers simply stash their phone when a cop is in sight," law enforcement officials report. In Georgia, texting and driving is illegal, but talking on a cell phone is permissible.

And in Pennsylvania, where a similar law is in place, police report similar issues. "It's difficult to make that arrest due to the current law," Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano told the Times-Tribune. "It's difficult for an officer to discern whether they're texting or looking up numbers on their phone."

To combat this problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation is providing $550,000 in funding for pilot projects designed to improve the enforcement of texting and driving laws. Connecticut and Massachusetts will each receive $275,000 for "high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs," which will involve training police spotters to be stationed on highway overpasses, keeping an eye on drivers from above.

"While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cellphone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver's ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, in a press release. "These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving."

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Expert witnesses and their role in Missouri personal injury claims

Missouri Expert WitnessesAs personal injury lawyers, we know that witnesses can be a key component of an injury claim connected to a Missouri car accident. Different kind of witnesses can support a claim in numerous ways. For example, lay witnesses are ordinary people who are somehow involved in your case. For example, a lay witness might be someone who was a passenger in your vehicle when a crash occurred, or a bystander who witnessed the events leading up to a collision. Lay witnesses can testify about their personal, first-hand knowledge of how an accident happened.

On the other hand, expert witnesses are professionals such as medical doctors, engineers, crash reconstruction experts, economists, vocational professionals, and life care planners. These professionals must be appropriately qualified to offer an opinion in a specific field, and their testimony is used to help a jury understand evidence or make a decision about a disputed fact.

It's common for personal injury lawyers to call upon expert witnesses to help prove certain elements of a case. Essentially, these witnesses possess specialized academic training, professional experience or other specific credentials that provide direct, reliable insight into the particulars of a case. Our New Madrid, Missouri personal injury attorneys often use experts to prove both fault and damages in a personal injury case. The use of expert witnesses can help demonstrate the extent of a victim's injuries or clarify the circumstances that caused those injuries to occur.

Missouri car accident claims: How expert witnesses can help

• A medical doctor or specialist can testify to the extent of the victim's injuries, the care and treatment that victim has required (and will require); and the long-term physical consequences associated with a specific injury.

• An accident reconstruction expert can use engineering knowledge to recreate the sequence of events leading up to an accident, and then use that knowledge to draw a conclusion about what factors caused the crash to occur.

• A life care planner can identify the economic impact of a serious injury sustained in a crash, including future costs and lost wages.

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Pedestrian Accidents in Jackson a Trick-or-Treat Danger

file9251291040084.jpgAs Halloween draws near, young children will be looking forward to getting in costume and collecting candy from neighbors. Trick-or-treating may be one of our children's favorite holidays, but it can also be one of the most dangerous if we're not careful.

Parents are urged to keep an eye on little ones this year and share some safety tips with them before they head out to gather candy to avoid a child pedestrian accident in Jackson and elsewhere. Parents play a vital role in the safety of our young ones during this time of year.

Our Jackson child accident attorneys understand that car-related accidents continue to be the number one killer for children under the age of 14. These types of accidents include pedestrian accidents as well. Children may not be able to fully understand the function, risks and consequences of traffic flow. For this reason, parents are urged to supervise young children during their trick-or-treating adventures this year. Be sure to follow the safety tips listed in this blog to help ensure their safety during this year's holiday events.

According to SafeKids, there were 244 American children under age 14 killed in pedestrian accidents in 2009, and about 13,000 young pedestrians were sent to emergency rooms during the same year. More than 70 percent of these accidents occurred at non-intersection locations. And importantly, a quarter of these fatalities occurred between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., which is prime time for trick or treaters.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol recommends these Halloween Safety Tips:

Motorists: Keep an eye out for young ghosts and goblins walking along our roadways. Remember that young children could dart out in front of vehicles at any time. Be sure to drive slowly and to use extra caution in areas where trick-or-treaters are present. If you're driving to a Halloween costume party, make sure that your costume or your mask doesn't impair your vision.

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NHTSA announces federal funding for anti-texting enforcement

1212374_mobile_phone.jpgToday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will provide $550,000 in federal funding for pilot programs designed to prevent texting and driving. NBC News reports that Connecticut and Massachusetts will each receive $275,000 to implement high visibility anti-texting enforcement programs.

"We have come a long way in our fight against distracted driving, but there is still much work to be done," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a NHTSA news release. "Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous, which is why we're working with states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to address this important safety issue."

Secretary LaHood says the funds will be used to train police officers in the two states, equipping them with more effective methods for identifying texting drivers and enforcing texting laws. Law enforcement officials in several states have experienced some difficulty enforcing texting bans, since it can be hard to tell whether a driver is texting, or dialing a number, or using a GPS program. In addition, the grant money will work to support media campaigns designed to spread awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

Currently, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have enacted text message bans for drivers of all ages. Missouri is not one of those states: our only texting and driving law is a ban for drivers under age 21. In 2012, the Missouri Legislature considered seven separate distracted driving bills, but none of them even came to a vote.

Why is texting and driving so dangerous?

• According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are four main kinds of driver distraction: visual (looking at something besides the road); auditory (hearing something unrelated to driving); manual (doing something with your hands besides steering); and cognitive (thinking about something other than driving). Since texting involves three of those forms of distraction, it can be especially perilous.

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Arkansas driver pleads not guilty in hit-and-run crash that seriously injured motorcyclist

file3951268343242.jpgA North Little Rock man has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection with a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a motorcyclist. According to KTHV, Nathan Ray is charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident with injury, and driving with a suspended license.

At around 1:00 a.m. on September 3, police say Ray was traveling east on Interstate 40 when he struck the rear end of a motorcycle. The rider, 28 year-old Trevor Ware, was thrown onto the car's windshield and then dragged under the vehicle. But Ray kept driving, dragging the motorcycle for about a mile and half down the highway before it dislodged itself from his car.

Ware was seriously injured in the crash. He sustained a brain injury, a torn colon, a fractured femur and fractured vertebrae. He remains hospitalized in a coma. Family members say he was not wearing a helmet when the collision occurred.

Investigators located Ray later that morning and took him into custody. They suspect he was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but they have not released the results of his blood screen. Authorities say he has an extensive criminal record that includes charges of driving while intoxicated, refusing a breathalyzer test, driving without proof of insurance, failure to yield and leaving the scene of a single-car accident. Ray is free on bail until his next court date, which is set for January 9.

If you'd like to contribute to the Trevor Ware Hospital Fund, click here to visit his family's donation website.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the number of motorcycle deaths was about 30 times the number of car deaths in 2010, per mile traveled. Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to serious injury when they're involved in collisions with passenger vehicles, because there's nothing to protect riders from the force of impact. And motorcycles are simply less visible than other kinds of vehicles, making them easy to overlook.

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Woman awarded $3.2 million in wrongful death lawsuit after husband was killed by truck debris

file000354569325.jpgThis week, a Pennsylvania jury awarded $3.2 to a woman whose husband was killed by a piece of mining equipment that fell from a semi-truck on the highway.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the accident happened in December 2005 and caused the death of 36 year-old Shawn Collingwood. Collingwood was reportedly traveling north when he encountered a southbound tractor trailer hauling a coal shearer loader. The loader, which was being taken for repair, included four large cylinders weighing 123 pounds each. One of these cylinders had been loaded on top of the shearer, and it was not properly secured. It flew off the truck and struck the windshield of Collingswood's Chevy Silverado. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the widow of the deceased. In the verdict, the jury assigned 90% of liability to the semi-truck driver, John Milner, and 10% to the owner of the coal shearer, Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company. Milner has also pleaded guilty in criminal court to charges of driving with an unsecured load, operating a vehicle with unsafe equipment and careless driving.

A Consol spokeswoman told the Post-Gazette that the company plans to appeal the verdict. "The trucking company and its driver took full responsibility for the accident at trial. For some reason, the jury found Consol 10 percent liable, but we think we have numerous and significant bases to appeal this verdict, and we intend to do so," the spokeswoman said.

Accidents caused by unsecured loads and other truck debris can have devastating consequences. In July, an 8 year-old boy died when a semi-truck dropped its transmission, throwing debris into another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle - 29 year-old Jameka Nicole Malone - lost her arm. Her young son, Cameron Mcllwain, was killed. And in May, an Iowa man was injured when a semi blew a tire, flinging debris into the windshield of his van.

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