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Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Roads more dangerous when employment increases

Minnesota residents may be at a higher risk of getting into a car accident in a late-model vehicle according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This is because a stronger economy means more drivers as well as increasingly risky behavior while on the road. The driver death rate for the model year 2014 was 30 per million registered vehicles, which is up from 28 per million registered vehicles from the 2011 model year.

Accident rates also vary depending on the type of car that is being driven. There were 11 vehicles that had no driver deaths while the Hyundai Accent had 104 deaths per million vehicles registered. Since the 1970s, the the number of road deaths in the United States had been falling. That changed in 2015 when road fatalities increased by 7 percent, and it is likely that the rate increased in 2016 as well.

What to do after a car crash caused by someone else

When a Minnesota driver gets into a car accident, it may be an unnerving experience. However, the best thing to do is to stay calm and first make sure that everyone is alright. If someone is hurt, that person should not be moved unless it is unsafe to remain in the vehicle. It may be a good idea to call the police who may be able to complete an accident report or provide other assistance.

In the aftermath of a car accident, it is a good idea to collect as much evidence as possible. This may mean taking pictures of the crash scene or getting witness statements. Individuals involved in a car wreck should exchange insurance and contact information before leaving the scene of the accident. Once home, an individual should report the accident to his or her insurance company regardless of who was at fault.

Distraction a factor in one in four Minnesota accidents

Using a cellphone or other electronic device to send or receive text messages while behind the wheel is a violation of Minnesota law, but this kind of legislative action has done little to stem a worrying surge in distracted driving in recent years. Driver distraction plays a role in one in four motor vehicle accidents in Minnesota, and figures from the state's Office of Traffic Safety reveal that these crashes claim at least 70 lives each year.

The increasing number of distracted driving accidents is generally put down to the growing popularity of smartphones, and the data suggests that stricter laws may not be enough to tackle the problem. Public education campaigns such as Minnesota's 'body bag" commercials have attempted to make motorists more aware of the risks and consequences of using electronic devices while driving, but most experts believe that advances in technology are more likely to provide a long-term solution.

Got injured in a car accident? Here's what you need to know

Let's say you were driving your new Mercedes home from the office one Friday afternoon and got sideswiped by a semitruck. Your injuries were catastrophic, requiring extensive medical care, surgeries and in-home medical services.

You've been receiving the best medical care available, but it's exorbitantly expensive. The only way you can pay for these costs is to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible. What's involved in the personal injury claim process?

Pedestrian fatalities are increasing

Minnesota pedestrians who are walking in low-income neighborhoods may be more likely to be hit by a car. This was one of the findings in both a white paper released by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center in 2016 and a report by the nonprofit Smart Growth America in 2017. Hispanics have a 50 percent higher fatality rate compared to whites, and the rate is almost twice as high for African-Americans.

In some cases, errors by drivers or pedestrians are to blame. However, both studies as well as other research blame design factors as well. According to one official at the Federal Highway Administration, aging infrastructure that communities lack the funds to repair are a serious issue. Pedestrians are in more danger when there are no pedestrian crossings or sidewalks. The absence of these safety accommodations may also encourage speeding drivers.

Statistics in from NHTSA on 2015 motorcycle crashes

It is clear that helmets save lives during a motorcycle crash. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 1,772 lives were saved because of motorcycle helmet usage in 2015. Unfortunately, 4,976 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes. While laws vary somewhat throughout the country, the helmet law in Minnesota is rather lenient because it only applies to riders 17 and younger. The state law extends to motorcycle operators with a learner's permit.

During 2015, 14 percent of all traffic fatalities were motorcyclists, which include both operators and passengers. A full 40 percent of motorcyclists who died were not wearing a helmet. Federal Highway Administration data shows 8.6 million motorcycles traveled the nation's roads in 2015. This statistic is up from 8.0 million motorcycles on U.S. roads in 2009.

New technology to identify cell usage before a crash

As traffic accidents rise, legislators have begun looking at ways to identify the factors involved in them. Minnesota drivers are likely aware that one of the recurring factors in fatal traffic collisions is illegal cellphone usage, which is very difficult to prove. However, there is technology being developed, which, if adopted, might make this much easier on authorities.

The new tool, called a textalyzer, would work in a very similar manner as a breathalyzer to establish if a driver had been using a cellphone illegally just before a crash. The device would be connected to the driver's cellphone via a cord, and then it would read the ways a cellphone was being used just before the collision, such as by identifying text messages with time stamps, as well as active social media apps and taps and swipes on the phone. It would also identify if a person was using the cellphone through a hands-free mode.

Tailgating and liability

Minnesota motorists should be aware that if they follow too closely behind the vehicle in front of them, they may be held liable for any resulting accident. In order to exercise due care when driving, drivers should maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them and be ready to come to a stop before striking it.

If a tailgating accident does occur, the fault of the accident could be associated with a driver's negligent driving behavior or his or her violation of motor vehicle laws. Duty, breach, causation and damages are the four primary elements of this type of a negligence lawsuit.

Distraction could be reason for increase in pedestrian deaths

Minnesota pedestrians may be in more danger of involvement in a deadly traffic accident than people in vehicles even though the fatality rate for traffic accidents in general has risen. However, the pedestrian death rate has risen disproportionately. In 2006, 11 percent of traffic-related fatalities were pedestrian deaths, but by 2015, that number had risen to 15 percent. Furthermore, overall, pedestrian deaths went up 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 compared with a rise of 6 percent in total traffic deaths. In 2016, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic-related accidents.

One factor is that people are both driving and walking more. Another factor may be alcohol. Around one-third of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers were under the influence in fatal motor vehicle accidents. However, experts do not believe that these factors alone can account for the increase. Instead, experts believe that the shift may be attributable to an increase in pedestrians using phones while they are walking.

Crash-related soft tissue injuries

Due to the thousands of vehicle collisions that occur each year on roadways in Minnesota and across the U.S., many people sustain soft tissue injuries, which constitute the most common type of crash-related trauma. They range from bruises and sprains to serious back, neck and head injuries.

Soft tissue injuries are ones that that a person experiences in his or her soft areas, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. In many cases, those who suffer from soft tissue injuries endure a great deal of discomfort and pain resulting from stiff, bruised, swollen and sore muscles or tendons. Accident victims can also get sprains if their joints have been overextended or ligaments have been damaged. Many people sustain these kinds of injuries by being severely jolted in violent collisions.

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