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Why You Should Put Your Smartphone Down While Driving
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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  • 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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  • Distracted Driving: What It Is and Why It Is Dangerous

    Distracted driving involves any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. It is an extremely dangerous behavior that puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk. In fact, distracted driving caused 8.5% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. Get the facts on why distracted driving is so dangerous and how to seek legal action if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver.

    The Dangers of Distracted Driving

    When a driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds or more when driving 55 miles per hour, it is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with their eyes closed. Many behaviors may take a driver’s eyes off the road for this long, including using a smartphone, eating, drinking, looking for a lost item, and more.

    While all distracted driving behaviors are dangerous, using a smartphone while driving is particularly dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive:

    • Visual distraction: The driver’s eyes are taken off the road.

    • Manual distraction: The driver’s hands are taken off the wheel.

    • Cognitive distraction: The driver’s mind is taken off the task of driving.

    Sadly, the dangers of distracted driving do not seem to deter people from engaging in these behaviors. Distracted driving deaths rose from 3,092 in 2010 to 3,477 in 2015, and those injured by distracted driving totaled 391,000 in 2015 alone.

    While people of all age groups participate in distracted driving, certain age groups are most at risk. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distracted-related fatal crashes. Additionally, in a study conducted by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), researchers found that 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving.

    State Laws Regarding Distracted Driving

    The rise in cell phone use in the last couple decades—compounded with the introduction of smartphones—has led many states to enact laws surrounding cell phone use while driving.

    • 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.

    Distracted driving has serious consequences. Not only will distracted drivers face heavy fines, higher insurance premiums, and loss of driving privileges, but they also have the potential to seriously injure or kill another motorist or pedestrian. This may lead to criminal penalties and possible jail time.

    Types of Distracted Driving

    Despite these potential risks and penalties, many drivers continue to engage in distracting behaviors while operating their vehicle. While dangerous, texting and driving is not the only way for drivers to become distracted on the road. Other forms of distracted driving include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Looking up directions on a smartphone or map

    • Eating

    • Drinking

    • Applying makeup

    • Having a conversation with a passenger

    • Listening to music

    • Managing children or pets in the car

    While the onus should be on motorists not to drive distracted, many will never accept the responsibility that comes with driving. Therefore, it is in your best interest to know what to look out for in order to avoid distracted drivers and reduce your likelihood of an accident. While driving, be wary of drivers that are:

    • Driving too fast or slow

    • Swerving in between lanes

    • Braking suddenly

    • Staying still once traffic starts moving

    Taking Action Against Distracted Driving

    Unfortunately, even if you take the appropriate safety measures to avoid distracted drivers, accidents may still happen. If you have been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you should not have to suffer for their negligence.

    An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove distracted driving caused your accident and recover the compensation you deserve. In order to support your case, you and your personal injury attorney will collect:

    • Cell phone records. If you make a negligence claim, the law firm has the ability to subpoena the Defendant’s cell phone records. That will allow the lawyers to examine when the driver was texting, or talking on the phone.

    • Witnesses. It is in your best interest to collect witnesses’ contact information and testimony. Eyewitness accounts may help bolster your case.

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

    Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today

    When motorists engage in distracted behaviors while operating a vehicle, they make a conscious decision to drive negligently. When this results in an accident, you may be left with catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

    At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we fight relentlessly on half of victims and families who have been adversely affected by car accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you or someone you love has been injured by a driver who you suspect was engaging in distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact us. We will investigate all circumstances surrounding your accident, secure supporting evidence, and create a customized plan that establishes negligence and liability.

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

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  • DC's Right Care, Right Now Program Could Help Serious Car Crash Victims

    By: Dan Hausman

    Mayor Muriel Bowser started the Right Care, Right Now initiative in Washington, D.C. about 15 months ago. The program connects 911 callers with issues that are not life threatening to a nurse through a triage phone call rather than directly to first responders.

    Upon consultation with the nurse, 911 callers who can be better treated in a primary care setting are connected to a convenient primary care provider to handle their medical issues, often on the very same day they call in. Medicaid and Medicare callers even get free transportation to their primary care providers. Major goals of the program are to save valuable emergency resources for those that need them the most and to reduce the cost of healthcare in the District of Columbia.

    So, how is the initiative doing in its first year? On average, D.C. Fire and EMS gets more than 400 calls about medical issues every day, 100 of which are considered to be non-life-threatening. However, of the 100 non-life -threatening calls a day, only four patients are directed away from emergency care at a hospital by way of the Right Care, Right Now program. With reports of people using emergency rooms for tetanus shots from office stapler wounds or for skinned knees, it is clear there is a lot of work to be done.

    I have a lot of clients who, although injured in a serious car crash, are persuaded to exchange information with the other driver and go on their way on their own rather than wait for a police officer and an ambulance. This phenomenon often occurs because of the fear of long wait times for first responders to arrive at the scene of the collision.

    I think that the Right Care, Right Now initiative can really do a lot of good for people involved in serious crashes by freeing up first responders. It not only frees up first responders to treat car crash injuries, but it also allows police officers to make an accident report. Memorializing how a crash occurred and the damage it did are important first steps in protecting oneself and one’s rights should one eventually wish to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

    Unfortunately, there are many crashes that occur every day in Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent or irresponsible driver, CSCS is here to help. Contact us for a consultation with our attorneys today.

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  • Lawmakers Propose Setting Commercial Truck Speed Limiters at 65 MPH

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    A bipartisan bill introduced by a Republican and Democratic senator is proposing a major change for the trucking industry: capping the top speed of commercial trucks at 65 MPH.

    Here are some details about the bill:

    • The bill – The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 (S.2033) was introduced in late June by Senators Johnny Isakson (Georgia) and Chris Coons (Delaware).
    • The reason – The bill is named after Cullum Owings, a young man who was tragically killed by a commercial truck while returning to college after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his parents. Cullum’s father, Steve Owings, is President and Co-Founder of Road Safe America, a road safety advocacy organization and major backer of the bill.
    • The requirements – Under the bill, speed-limiting devices would be mandatory for commercial trucks weighing 26,001 pounds or more, and must be set at 65 mph at all times. The Department of Transportation would also be required to establish rules for ensuring speed limiters are accurate and that they effectively keep trucks within the accepted speed limit.

    Hailed by the Senators as a “lifesaving road safety measure,” the new measure is an attempt to do what lawmakers have previously failed for roughly a decade to achieve: codifying a clear federal law on the maximum speed for large trucks and tractor-trailers. Similar measures have been proposed in Congress, most recently in 2016, but those efforts were shot down under the current administration.

    Although many commercial trucks are currently equipped with speed-limiting technology, use of such technology is optional for operators. As Steve Owings noted when commenting on the bill, the loss of his son was a tragedy compounded by knowing his death could have been prevented if all trucks were required to use speed limiting technology.

    The time, he and other advocates agree, has long passed for regulators to compel truckers and trucking companies into using critical and widely available safety measures like speed limiters.

    Insight Into the Trucking Industry: Profits First, Safety Last

    The Owings are unfortunately not the only family to suffer as the result of a commercial truck accident which arguably could and should have been prevented. Over the years, it’s become clear trucking companies and the trucking industry at large place their priorities squarely on their profits, rather than the public or people who share roads with these large and dangerous motor vehicles.

    On our blog, we’ve discussed how the trucking industry’s “profits-first” agenda is anything but subtle, particularly in relation to proven safety measures the industry is reluctant to adopt or support for the sole premise that it may cut into their bottom line.

    A few examples include:

    • Side-underride guards – Side-underride accidents involve vehicle passing underneath the side of a large truck, and they hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. Though they have been proven to save lives, are mandatory for the rear of trucks, and are required in countries across the world, there’s no mandate in America for trucks to have these safeguards.
    • Sleep apnea regulations – Despite the fact that sleep apnea makes drivers 5x more likely to be involved in serious crashes, regulators publicly stated they won’t pursue specific regulations to directly test and regulate drivers diagnoses with this condition.
    • Increased weight limits – Trucking companies have been boisterous in their efforts to increase the maximum weight of trucks from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds, even though the added weight means longer stopping distances, reduced responsivity, and greater chances for crashes.

    In the past few years alone, the trucking industry and many lawmakers (presumably those with favorable relationships with industry lobbyists), have continued to support new measures that sacrifice safety at the expense of money, look to block proposed safety measures, or aim to rollback existing safety-oriented laws altogether. That includes dangerous practices such as:

    An industry unbound by clear and reasonable safety regulations, and equipped with tremendous leverage over lawmakers, has had real, disastrous consequences – for victims like Cullum Owings and his family, and for anyone on or near our roadways.

    In fact, trucking fatalities have increased in America, and experts like those at NTSB – which included crash-avoidance technology and sleep apnea training in its latest “Most Wanted List” – say the problem is due in large part to an industry that lacks meaningful safety regulations.

    Proven Advocacy for Truck Accident Victims

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has covered the trucking industry extensively throughout the years. While there are some safety “victories” here and there, there have been far more regulatory rollbacks and stagnated proposals. It’s a sad story that is unfortunately not new nor exclusive to the trucking industry; it’s something many major industries and corporations have in common. It’s also a sign of the devastating toll that can accompany a zealous, tunnel-vision pursuit of profits.

    Even as the trucking industry looks to pad its pocketbooks through regulatory and political interventions, the stories of real people and the efforts of genuine advocates have the power to bring change. Part of that comes with holding truckers and trucking companies accountable for regulatory violations, shortcuts, and negligence in civil personal injury or wrongful death cases. Our team at CSCS helps clients throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia seek accountability through these means, as well the financial compensation they deserve.

    Have a potential truck accident case in the DMV region? Contact us to speak with a lawyer.

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  • Harvey Weinstein Strikes Tentative Sexual Misconduct Settlement

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    Harvey Weinstein has tentatively agreed to a $44 million settlement to resolve a number of lawsuits filed by women who have accused the Miramax co-founder of sexual misconduct, a suit filed by the New York State Attorney General, and other pending claims against the film producer and his former empire.

    Though a proposed settlement is on the table, other legal issues and claims involving Weinstein are making victims’ fight for justice all the more difficult.

    About the Proposed Settlement

    Regarded among one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful figures, Weinstein is currently facing a number of civil lawsuits over sexual assault and misconduct, as well as criminal charges. Here’s a brief breakdown of key issues surrounding the entertainment executive:

    • What led to the legal issues – Weinstein came under fire in late 2017 after investigations from The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed allegations that he sexually harassed or abused numerous employees and women over the course of several decades. In March 2018, The Weinstein Company, co-owned by Harvey and his brother / business partner Bob Weinstein, filed for bankruptcy and has since sold off most of its assets.
    • Pending civil lawsuits – Since 2018, at least 18 women who filed claims against Weinstein have been in mediation (a type of out-of-court settlement negotiation process). Settlement talks have also included former board members and officers of The Weinstein Co., who victims say enabled Weinstein’s misconduct, and the NY Attorney General’s office, which sued Harvey and Bob Weinstein for violating New York laws against sexual harassment and abuse, coercion, and gender discrimination.
    • Criminal charges – In addition to pending civil litigation, Weinstein is also expected to begin a criminal trial in September 2019 in New York over sex-crime charges involving three women who accuse the producer of rape and / or forced sexual acts.
    • The Settlement – The tentative settlement was announced during a bankruptcy court proceeding in late April. Less than half of the $90M victims’ fund initially discussed in settlement talks, and less than a tentative $60M deal agreed to in December, the new proposal would disperse $30M not only to alleged victims, but also a pool of plaintiffs, Weinstein Co. creditors, and former employees, with the remainder going to company board members’ legal fees. According to the Los Angeles Times, victims have called the settlement process a “re-traumatizing” experience, and attorneys for two women rejected the proposal outright.

    High-Profile Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits

    Though $44 million is a significant sum, difficulties in reaching a final settlement highlight the many challenges of high-profile sexual misconduct claims. Some of these include:

    • Corporate ties – Harvey Weinstein holds stakes in major corporations, which is not uncommon for high-profile individuals accused of sexual wrongdoing. However, corporate ties can create additional challenges in a victim’s fight for justice, especially when companies have significant assets, liabilities, and legal duties owed to shareholders that must be considered or addressed before settlements are reached.
    • Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy proceedings like those surrounding The Weinstein Co. are designed to unwind companies and address their liabilities and dwindling assets. Unfortunately, that means accusers may become part of a long and convoluted legal process in which defendants seek settlements to resolve all pending suits, debts, and other related expenses, and where they may have to compete with others also owed money.
    • Multiple parties – Weinstein may be the individual accused of sexual assault and other improprieties, but some suits also name his company and board members as defendants for their parts in failing to prevent misconduct and protect victims. Multiple defendants create challenges for victims, as those alleged to have some liability (as well as any insurance companies which insure those parties) are motivated to evade accountability and payouts.
    • Multiple defendants – As with Weinstein, high-profile figures often face an onslaught on claims when allegations become public or one or more victims step forward to share similar stories. In this matter, that means a number of individual lawsuits must compete with “class-action lawsuit applicants” who commonly see their claims resolved based on their suffering and the severity of their allegations. These defendants may disagree on terms of “global” settlements that attempt to resolve all claims at once, and may have differing views about final resolutions.
    • Publicity and confidentiality – Claims against individuals in the public eye are subject to intense scrutiny and speculation, even when negotiations or other aspects of a case are kept out of public record. This can create challenges in maintaining confidentiality and privacy, and protecting the rights and reputations of claimants who courageously come forward with claims.

    Proven Representation for Victims with Complex Claims

    Without question, those who’ve filed claims against Harvey Weinstein find themselves in one of the most complex sexual misconduct cases to date. Although the #MeToo era has helped provide a platform for victims to step forward, it hasn’t necessarily made their legal battles any easier – something evident in cases featuring high-profile individuals, religious institutions, and major organizations. For victims, experienced legal representation is critical to navigating such challenging cases.

    Over the years, CSCS attorneys have seen the difficulties of high-profile sexual misconduct claims first-hand; from the infamous Jones v. Clinton case and a defamation suit filed on behalf of women who publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault (both of which were handled by Partner Joseph Cammarata) to claims against former Georgetown Rabbi Barry Freundel and his synagogue Kesher Israel, among many others.

    Our firm knows sexual assault and sexual abuse allegations can be immensely difficult, and we understand the importance of handling complexities and added risks prudently so victims are spared the “re-victimization” which so often accompanies high-profile litigation of sensitive, personal matters.

    As the Weinstein case unfolds, CSCS will follow its developments, and will remain committed to helping sexual assault, abuse, and harassment victims who want to explore their legal options in cases of their own. If you have a potential claim you wish to discuss, contact us to speak with a lawyer.

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