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Hit by a Distracted Driver? Here Is What to Do
Hit by a Distracted Driver? Here Is What to Do

Motorists have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. When a driver elects to engage in distracting behaviors, including texting or talking on the phone while driving, they make a conscious choice to act negligently. If this negligence leads to an accident, they may be held liable for damages.

Distracted Driving Laws

Many states have passed laws in an attempt to combat the dangers of distracted driving. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from hand-held cell phone use. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.

Unfortunately, despite these provisions, many drivers continue to engage in these distracting behaviors.

Taking Action Against a Negligent Driver

Distracted driving is a dangerous behavior that endangers every other motorist and pedestrian on the road. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, taking the following measures can help you hold them accountable for their actions:

  • Obtain the distracted driver’s cell phone records. An experienced personal injury attorney can subpoena the Defendant’s cell phone records. This will allow the lawyers to examine when the driver was texting or talking on the phone.

  • Collect witnesses’ testimony. It is in your best interest to collect the contact information and testimony from any witnesses at the accident scene. They may be able to support your case that the other driver was distracted before the accident.

  • Obtain the police report. A police officer’s testimony or report will help support your claim that the accident was caused by a distracted driver.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington D.C. attorneys are here to help. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, we fight relentlessly on behalf of victims who have been adversely affected by distracted drivers.

Contact us today at (202) 644-8303 to learn how we can help you.

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Recent Posts
  • Hit by a Distracted Driver? Here Is What to Do

    Motorists have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. When a driver elects to engage in distracting behaviors, including texting or talking on the phone while driving, they make a conscious choice to act negligently. If this negligence leads to an accident, they may be held liable for damages.

    Distracted Driving Laws

    Many states have passed laws in an attempt to combat the dangers of distracted driving. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from hand-held cell phone use. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.

    Unfortunately, despite these provisions, many drivers continue to engage in these distracting behaviors.

    Taking Action Against a Negligent Driver

    Distracted driving is a dangerous behavior that endangers every other motorist and pedestrian on the road. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, taking the following measures can help you hold them accountable for their actions:

    • Obtain the distracted driver’s cell phone records. An experienced personal injury attorney can subpoena the Defendant’s cell phone records. This will allow the lawyers to examine when the driver was texting or talking on the phone.

    • Collect witnesses’ testimony. It is in your best interest to collect the contact information and testimony from any witnesses at the accident scene. They may be able to support your case that the other driver was distracted before the accident.

    • Obtain the police report. A police officer’s testimony or report will help support your claim that the accident was caused by a distracted driver.

    If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington D.C. attorneys are here to help. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, we fight relentlessly on behalf of victims who have been adversely affected by distracted drivers.

    Contact us today at (202) 644-8303 to learn how we can help you.

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  • Medicare’s Final Arbitration Rule Strips Nursing Home Residents of Invaluable Rights

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    Whether you know it or not, you and your loved ones have likely agreed to hashing out any potential legal claims with a contracted service provider through arbitration rather than the civil justice system.

    A form of alternate dispute resolution which keeps matters private and unfairly tips the scales in favor of corporations, forced arbitration has become a favored clause finagled into the fine print of all types of consumer contracts. Its use in nursing home contracts, however, has been a particular point of contention and dispute.

    Advocates from across the nation have fought for years to remove arbitration clauses from nursing home contracts, and succeeded in securing a pre-dispute arbitration ban in nursing home agreements in 2016 under the previous administration. However, the following year, under a new administration, CMS’ retraced its steps by publishing a proposed rule to remove the arbitration ban.

    On July 16, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published its long-anticipated final rule on the matter: it allows assisted and long-term care facilities to use forced arbitration agreements in facility admissions forms.

    Why Forced Arbitration is No Good for Consumers

    The administration’s move to permit the use of forced arbitration agreements is a dangerous blow to some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens.

    Although such clauses are common in many consumer contracts – from cell phone plans to employment agreements and, before last year, even Uber and Lyft’s terms and conditions– they are most troubling when used by nursing homes, where studies confirm a lack of transparency has perpetuated risks of abuse, neglect, and exploitation against residents.

    Arbitration clauses are favored by corporations. Here are a few ways they puts victim and plaintiffs at an unfair disadvantage:

    • Potential Bias – Private arbitrators, rather than an impartial judge, are often paid for by corporate defendants, or may seek repeat business relationships, which can create bias in their decision making and unfairly tip the scales in favor of defendants.
    • Private Matters – Because the arbitration process is confidential, plaintiffs can lose negotiating leverage against defendants that want claims to remain private.
    • A Lack of Transparency – Private arbitration proceedings mean facts of a case are kept secret, even if they are critical to public health or the safety of other guests who may fall victim to wrongful conduct. A lack of transparency also allows negligence to continue.
    • Restrictions – Many arbitration agreements can include restrictive clauses which further limit victim’s rights, including bars against punitive damages.
    • Evidentiary / Appeal Rules – Unlike matters handled in the civil justice system, arbitration clauses commonly create restrictions which impede victims’ abilities to argue their side of the story. These include limitations pertaining to evidence or appeals.

    Victims’ advocates have long waged efforts against binding arbitration, and have worked zealously to raise awareness about their often unfair and restrictive nature in consumer contracts. Unfortunately, Big Business and lobbyists have continually fought back. Their recent victory in stripping CMS’ arbitration ban mirrors the repeal of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule that limited the use of mandatory arbitration in financial contracts – something that earned a spot on the AAJ’s Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017 list.

    Though their use is nursing home contracts is especially egregious – given the fragile states of residents’ health and the risks for nursing home abuse and neglect– forced arbitration clauses in all forms are counterproductive to consumer rights. If you’d like to learn more about forced arbitration and nursing homes, or find ways to get involved in advocacy efforts, visit Take Justice Back.

    At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our lawyers know the power of the civil justice system, and are committed to protecting victims’ rights as they bring claims against corporations, powerful defendants, and insurance companies that prioritize their profits and bottom line. If you have questions about a potential case anywhere in the DMV, contact us for a free consultation.

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  • How to Avoid Distractions While Driving

    Vehicles contain many distractions that can inhibit our ability to drive safely. In addition to distracting devices, our own behaviors distract and endanger us, including eating, drinking, finding directions, managing children and pets in the car, and more. Learn about the top distractions present in a car and how to avoid them.

    Most Common Causes of Distracted Driving

    Distracted driving involves anything that takes your attention away from driving. The following are some of the most common distractions while driving:

    • Texting or talking on the phone, including hands-free

    • Using a navigation system

    • Changing the radio station

    • Eating or drinking

    • Performing personal grooming

    • Having a conversation with a passenger

    • Managing children or pets

    Avoiding Distractions in the Car

    In order to combat distracted driving, many states have enacted laws that ban cell phone use while driving. As of March 2019, 16 states and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from hand-held cell phone use. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.

    Aside from putting aside distracting devices, practicing the following safety guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of getting into a distracted driving accident:

    • Set up the directions on your device before starting the car or have a passenger read the directions to you aloud.

    • Pull over or stop at a restaurant to eat a meal rather than eating and drinking while driving.

    • Perform personal grooming before or after getting into your vehicle rather than during your trip.

    • Ask passengers to keep their voices at a low volume.

    • Keep children and pets secure in the car by ensuring children are safely buckled and pets are in proper carriers.

    If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington D.C. attorneys are here to help. Our team can investigate all circumstances related to the accident, secure supporting evidence, and create a customized plan that establishes negligence and liability.

    Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. at (202) 644-8303 to learn how we can assist you.

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  • Back to School Safety: Tips for Students, Parents & Drivers

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    A new school year is an exciting time, and while new teachers, courses, and classmates may offer plenty of reason to feel happy about the year ahead, there are as many reasons for students and parents to be concerned about safety.

    From a practical perspective, schools are filled with an array of potential hazards parents can’t always control – whether it’s motor vehicle traffic during congested pick-up and drop-off times, preventable dangers left unaddressed, or the proclivity of children and adolescents to find themselves in harm’s way. For anyone with a young student on their hands, that’s all the more reason to make safety a priority.

    As parents ourselves, our team at CSCS wants to ensure every student starts and finishes the school year safely. As attorneys who focus on matters of personal injury and preventable accidents, we know the numbers mean that may not always be the case.

    School Safety Tips

    To help prevent what can be serious injuries and lasting repercussions for our young ones, we’re providing a few helpful tips students, parents, and motorists should all be mindful off as the new school year begins – whether it relates to safety at school, on nearby local roads, or the sports field.

    Concussions & Brain Injuries at School

    As some of the most unpredictable physical injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a concern for people of any age, and especially young children who are still developing their cognitive abilities. As the Brain Injury Association of America notes, almost half a million kids are treated in ER departments for concussions and brain injuries every year – that’s over 5,000 of the largest school buses filled to capacity.

    With statistics like these, it’s critical to know where risks exist, and what parents, faculty, and students can do to manage them.

    • Sports-related brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries, most commonly concussions (or mild TBI), have become a significant concern in youth sports programs. Today, medical experts agree about the risks of youth concussions, as well as the long-term dangers associated with repeat head injuries. It’s why many municipalities, states, and school districts have enacted laws similar to legislation drafted by CSCS Partner Joseph Cammarata (the DC Youth Athletic Concussion Protection Act, enacted in 2011), which requires all youth programs in DC to immediately remove young athletes with suspected head injuries from practice or play, and ensure they’re properly evaluated before they return. As parents, coaches, or concerned parties, you can follow these types of precautions yourself by closely watching for signs of concussions in young players, removing them from play following a brain injury, getting them checked out by a medical professional, and talking to your athlete about concussions and why they should report symptoms to coaches and adults right away. If schools aren’t following protocol outlined by sports concussion laws in your state, you should bring it to the attention of administrators. Choosing the right gear (i.e. the proper-fitting, well-maintained, and sport-appropriate helmets) and teaching techniques for protecting the head can also help prevent concussions.
    • Non-sports concussion risks – According to a recently published study, sports like football, basketball, and wrestling (although a common cause of child concussions) aren’t the only risks children face when it comes to brain injuries; consumer products and household structures are top child brain injury causes too. That includes things like stairs, bicycles, car and booster seats, and playgrounds. Helping your child stay safe means ensuring use of proper helmets, properly installing age- and size-appropriate car / booster seats, choosing playgrounds with soft materials,, and that child bicyclists understand safe riding techniques.
    • Know the warning signs – Whether your child is a cheerleader, football star, or a student who simply goes to school, it’s important as a parent to spot signs of a possible concussion. Common signs and symptoms include a dazed or stunned appearance, changes in mood or behavior, clumsy movements or balance difficulties, headaches, nausea or vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion, and fatigue. Signs of more serious problems, such as a dangerous collection of blood (hematoma) include slurred speech, repeated vomiting or convulsions, loss of consciousness, and drowsiness or an inability to wake up. Experts recommend talking with your child to help them understand possible concussion signs, and how and when to report them to adults.

    The CDC has a great deal of information about brain injuries among students and youth athletes for parents, coaches, faculty, and care providers. Visit the CDC’s HEADS UP webpage to learn more.

    School Transportation Safety

    Kids get to and from school in all types of ways, but any form of transportation comes with inherent risks. Whether children walk, bike, or take a bus or car to school, they need to know proper safety precautions.

    Here are a few tips to ensure safe travels for your student:

    • Walking – If your child walks to school, be sure they know to stick to the sidewalks (or against traffic if there are none available), look both ways before crossing, make eye contact with drivers before entering intersections, and to stay alert and avoid distracted walking.
    • Bicycling – Young children face greater risks for bicycle accidents than adults, which is why they need to practice safe riding habits. Experts suggest parents not only teach their biking kids the rules of the road, but also engage in practice runs where they practice riding the route to school together. It also helps to ensure kids ride on the right side of the road (with traffic and in a single file), come to a complete stop before crossing streets (and walk their bikes across the street), stay alert, and wear properly fitted helmets and bright / reflective clothing.
    • Bus RidingBus accidents can have devastating consequences, and any child who rides the bus needs to know and practice proper school bus safety. Parents can help by bringing their child to the bus stop to teach them how to safely get on and off the bus, instructing kids to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb, and crossing the street only in intersections (or, when in front of the bus, only after looking both ways, ensuring they’re at least 10 ft. ahead of a stopped bus, and making eye contact with the driver). We discuss school bus laws in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as more safety tips on our blog.
    • Teen DrivingCar accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, and while teen drivers aren’t known for the best driving behaviors, there are ways to manage risks. As studies show, that means practicing slowly on a consistent basis (each week) before and after teens get their driver’s license, setting positive examples for new drivers, and having honest conversations about the risks of distracted driving, drunk driving, and carelessness behind the wheel. You can also take up the National Safety Council’s idea of making a “New Driver Deal” with your child; an agreement about the rules and expectations for driving safely.

    Other School Safety Tips

    The National Safety Council offers a number of safety tips for students, parents, and drivers, as well as a back to school safety checklist you can use to prepare your kids for a safe school year:

    • Backpacks – Backpacks can place repetitive strain on your growing child, and lead to injuries that could have easily been prevented. If your child uses a backpack, choose ergonomically designed ones with features that enhance comfort and safety. Ask your child to carry their pack on both shoulder to distribute its weight, and avoid overstuffing (backpacks should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s body weight). While rolling backpacks aren’t as physically taxing, they can be tripping hazards in crowded hallways, and should be used cautiously.
    • Playgrounds – Playgrounds pose many hazards to children, from bumps and bruises to serious brain injuries. Parents should be sure any playgrounds their child uses is age-appropriate, has soft surfaces (sand rather than cement or compacted dirt), and that their kids leave things like necklaces and jackets with drawstrings at home to avoid strangulation hazards.
    • Drivers – Motorists who travel through school zones need to be extra mindful of children. In addition to knowing school bus laws (i.e. when to stop and how to pass), drivers should also reduce their speeds in school zones, be alert to children entering the street from behind cars or riding bikes, and avoid cell phone use and distractions. When dropping off or picking up, don’t double part (it blocks others’ visibility of nearby children), avoid loading and unloading children across the street from a school, and carpool to reduce vehicle traffic at congested times.
    • Sexual Abuse – It may not be an easy topic, but parents should grasp the importance of speaking with their children about sexual abuse, assault, and misconduct. That means telling them what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, and when to speak up when they think something is wrong. As reported by the New York Times, k-12 schools are severely lagging when it comes to handling of sexual abuse claims, so working with experienced and compassionate attorneys when serious matters arise can be an important first step in protecting your rights and ensuring schools uphold their obligations.

    CSCS: Here to Help Families Across the DMV

    At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our team has seen a few trends in our line of work over the 45+ years we’ve been serving the DC region. Apart from things like summer-related injuries, distinctly winter-related dangers, and drunk driving wrecks during major holidays, we often hear from families with children injured in or around schools – especially at the start of a new school year.

    While we hope these tips help students and parents stay safe in the 2019-2020 school year, we know that preventable accidents and injuries can and do happen. If they happen to your child, CSCS is available to help. Contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.

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  • Why You Should Put Your Smartphone Down While Driving

    Using a smartphone while driving is an incredibly dangerous behavior that may lead to catastrophic and fatal accidents. In 2017 alone, 3,166 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Learn what makes distracted driving so dangerous and why you should think twice before picking up your phone in the car.

    The Same as Driving Blindfolded

    Sending a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded. While no one would attempt to drive the length of a football field while blindfolded, many decide to engage in an activity that is just as blinding—texting while driving.

    Using a smartphone while driving is particularly dangerous because it affects all three levels of attention: visual, manual, and cognitive.

    • Visual: Takes a driver’s eyes off the road.

    • Manual: Takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel.

    • Cognitive: Takes a driver’s mind off the task of driving.

    Such distractions lead to nine fatalities and 1,000 injuries in accidents per day. In order to reduce these statistics and keep drivers safe on the road, several states have enacted laws meant to curb distracted driving, including the following regulations:

    • Hand-held cell phone use: 19 states and the District of Columbia have prohibited all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. In these states, a law enforcement officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

    • All cell phone use: While no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, 39 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and the District of Columbia ban it for school bus drivers.

    • Text messaging: 48 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers.

    Despite these laws, many motorists continue to engage in distracted driving. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington D.C. attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel P.C. are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Do not spend one more day paying for someone else’s negligence.

    Contact us today at (202) 644-8303 to learn how we can assist you.

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  • 5 Types of Distracted Driving

    When people think of distracted driving, the first thing that may come to mind is texting and driving. While this is a major form of distracted driving, it is not the only behavior that takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road. Get the facts on five types of distracted driving and learn what to look out for on the road.

    Dangerous Driving Behaviors

    There are many ways for a driver to become distracted on the road. Smartphones are a major distraction, and their prevalence makes it so that most drivers have one in the car while driving. Even if they are not actively looking at it, the smartphone’s sounds and vibrations may be enough to take a driver’s mind off the road.

    In addition to smartphones, distractions for drivers include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Eating and drinking. Reaching for a drink, looking down at food, searching for napkins, and more can all take a driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel.

    • Applying makeup. This activity takes a person’s eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel for an extended period of time.

    • Managing children or pets. Children and pets may become distracting, particularly if children start crying or fussing, and if pets start moving around the vehicle.

    • Having a conversation with passengers. Driving becomes more distracting the more passengers are in the vehicle. Even having a conversation with passengers may take some of a driver’s cognitive function off the task of driving.

    • Fiddling with the radio or other controls. Adjusting the radio station or air conditioner takes at least one of a driver’s hands off the steering wheel, which distracts a driver’s manual attention from driving.

    Injured by a Distracted Driver? We Can Help

    Unfortunately, many motorists do not understand that driving comes with a responsibility to drive safely and carefully, and instead choose to engage in behaviors that they know are distracting and dangerous. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Washington D.C. attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel P.C. are prepared to fight for you.

    Contact us today at (202) 644-8303 to learn how we can help you.

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