Preventing Defective Toy Accidents This Holiday Season

Parents know that the holiday season means kids will be getting gifts. Between you and your extended family members all purchasing presents for your children during the festive time of the year, kids are likely to get a big haul and have lots of new toys to enjoy.

This should be a joyous time for children who get to have fun trying out a host of new toys. Unfortunately, for hundreds of thousands of kids each year, a fun new toy could actually turn harmful.  If toys have defects or problems, kids could be hurt by their holiday presents or could even be killed. Parents need to understand the dangers of new toys, be cautious, and take appropriate steps to prevent accidents this holiday season by making careful choices about gifts for kids.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a total of 254,200 toy-related injuries occurred in 2015 which sent children to emergency departments in hospitals across the country. Injuries due to toys can happen for lots of different reasons, including a defect when the toy is used as intended and an injury which happens because parents were not properly warned of the risk the toy presented to their kids.

Parents should be aware of the problems which can occur with toys, which range from issues like small pieces of the toy falling off and creating a choking hazard to the presence of lead paint or other unsafe components. Electronic toys can also malfunction in dangerous ways, including overheating. Some toys have inherent risks, and if they do, the product should come with a clear warning label and an indication of the age groups the toy is appropriate for.

When buying a toy, parents should also check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) before purchasing to find out if there are any open recalls or alerts on the item they are considering.  If a gift to a child comes from some other relative or friend and is not purchased by a parent, parents should still check out CPSC to make sure it is a safe toy. This check should be done before the toy is actually given to children.

Parents may also want to be cautious about buying older used toys at places like garage sales or flea markets. Older toys may not have been subject to the same safety standards as newer products, and it could be much more difficult or even impossible to find out if a recall might have happened with an older model toy if you do not have the model number.When you find out about a recalled toy, you should take the product away from the child right away.

If a toy turns out to have a defect and a child gets injured because of it, parents should understand their right to pursue a claim for compensation on behalf of the injured child.

Can an Event Venue Be Sued for Negligent Security?

Attendees at a concert waiting to hear a popular rapper perform found themselves in a dangerous situation when shots were fired back stage. The sound of the gunshots caused a panic to break out in the crowd waiting for the concert to begin. The concert attendees began a massive stampede to get out of the venue, which caused fans at the show to be trampled.

Now, Billboard reports several fans have filed a lawsuit alleging that negligent security at the venue led to personal injury. The fans claim the concert security should have better screened attendees to prevent the gun from getting in to the venue. The case raises questions regarding when a personal injury claim can be based on a security failure.

This is a type of situation which arises frequently, like when people are able to bring guns into crowded establishments as well as in situations where someone is assaulted or hurt in stores, parking lots, or other venues which property owners may have an obligation to keep secure.

The case of the concertgoers suing the venue after the shooting is one of many examples where people harmed by gun violence have tried to hold the venue accountable.

Another famous example of this was when survivors and family members of victims of the Aurora shooting massacre at the Century Aurora 16 multiplex movie theater tried to file suit against Cinemark, the owner of the movie theater. LA Times reported those families were not successful in their claims, but there have been many situations where property owners were held accountable for damages.

The key question that determines whether the venue can be held liable for negligent security is whether the venue took reasonable measures to protect patrons in light of the particular risk they faced. In the case of the movie theater example, for instance, it was not clear there was a threat of a shooting based on the past history of the movie theater, nor were there reasonable steps which the cinema could have taken to prevent the massacre.

In other situations, a history of violence in the area would suggest a venue should take more precautions to prevent violence. If industry best practices involve screenings or security and a venue falls short of fulfilling standard security measures, this would also be a situation where the venue may be held accountable. In the case of the concert, for example, if it is customary to screen attendees for weapons and this venue fall short of doing so, this could be used as evidence suggesting the venue was negligent.

Although it is up to victims to prove the venue was responsible, an experienced personal injury attorney can help demonstrate negligence and recover compensation for those who were injured or lost a loved one.

The Dangers of Being Hit While Standing Outside Vehicle

Early morning car accident involving 4 cars places 2 people in critical condition

Motorists are required by Kansas law to stop and exchange information after an accident, and rightly so. However, as a recent accident in our area showed, doing so can put you in danger of further injuries.

Early in the morning of October 6th this year, as News Channel 4 reports, a large and complex car accident resulted in multiple serious injuries. It started ordinarily enough when a truck was rear-ended by a car. The two drivers, Robert Joseph and Nicholas Hitchcock, left their vehicles and stood off to the side of the road to exchange insurance information.

While they were outside their vehicles, a third vehicle crashed into the car, which then propelled the truck across the road. The truck then collided with a fourth vehicle travelling in the oncoming lane. Joseph and Hitchcock were both seriously injured and taken to the local hospital in critical condition. Two others were also injured.

Staying conscious of safety in the event of an accident.

If you are involved in a car accident, take these steps to prevent further accidents:

  1. Call the police right away. The investigating officer will put his or her lights on at the scene and divert traffic to keep you and the other people involved in the accident safe. Cooperate with the officer’s instructions in order to maintain safety at the scene.
  2. If possible, turn on your hazard lights. Even if your car isn’t drivable, your lights will most likely still work. Turn those lights on to show other motorists that there is a disabled vehicle.
  3. If possible, remove your car from the road. Once you have taken pictures of the collision and notified the police of the accident, you and the other driver should move your cars off of the road as much as possible, especially if they are blocking traffic. If your cars cannot be moved, make sure you inform the police so that they can immediately begin diverting traffic.
  4. When you and the other driver exchange information, do so away from the edge of the road. This is especially crucial if you are on a busy roadway. You want to put as much distance as possible between yourself and other cars driving by in the event that one of those cars collides with your car.

Car accident cases can be difficult enough to resolve when they only involve two people. The more people and vehicles are involved in an accident, the more complicated it can become. It may be harder to find fault in a case that involves so many different factors, especially if it’s difficult for those involved to figure out the chain of events. Multiple insurance companies may be involved, and liability for the injuries sustained may be hotly contested.

The dedicated car accident attorneys at Bretz & Young know how to ask tough questions and get the information our clients need to successfully resolve their cases. We investigate every aspect of an accident. We interview witnesses. We review police reports, medical records and anything else that can build a case for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact us today.

Why Fall is a Dangerous Time for Drunk Driving Accidents

A tragic drunk driving accident allegedly took the life of a Kansas police officer recently, according to the Wichita Eagle. The officer had been on the job for close to 21 years when the tragic accident happened, and he had just celebrated the birthday of his four year old daughter. The officer was conducting a traffic stop at approximately 1:30 AM and within minutes of the stop, a pickup truck slammed into the back of the officer’s patrol car. The patrol car was engulfed in flames, and the impact of the collision was so great nearby residents indicated they were awoken by a sound which was as loud as thunder.

The pickup truck driver fled the scene of the collision, but was captured a short time later by police dogs and was taken to the hospital for the treatment of his injuries. The driver of the pickup is suspected of being intoxicated at the time of the incident. Unfortunately, drunk driving car accidents can happen at any time, but are especially common during the fall season. Drivers need to be aware of the added risks of intoxicated driving collisions during fall and make sure they do their part to avoid contributing to the problem of impaired driving.

Why Fall is a Dangerous Time for Drunk Driving Accidents

There are many reasons why fall is a high-risk time for impaired driving collisions.  Some of the issues include:

  • College students returning to school. Wichita State University, Wichita Area Technical College, and Newman University are among the colleges in Wichita. When college students return to class to start a new semester, they often celebrate by drinking with friends. This can result in intoxicated young people on the roads.
  • Football season. According to Bloomberg, one in 10 football fans is legally drunk by the end of each football game.  Further, among people who attend tailgate parties, there is a 14 times greater risk of intoxication compared with people who don’t go to parties. Around one in four tailgaters consume five or more drinks while tailgating. With people leaving games intoxicated, or leaving football parties intoxicated, there is a substantial risk of drunk driving accidents.
  • Fall holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving are both big drinking days, and the risk of intoxicated drivers on Halloween is compounded by the fact there are also lots of pedestrians on the roads in many locations.

Drivers need to make sure they do not drink and drive, whether they are celebrating a return to college, enjoying a football game, celebrating a holiday, or simply enjoying fall.  Other motorists also should be watchful for drunk drivers and should report suspicious vehicles to police if they see signs of weaving or other evidence of intoxication in their fellow motorists. If drivers do become intoxicated and cause collisions to occur, victims have the right to pursue a claim for compensation from the drunk driver who hurt them or who caused the death of a family member.

Road Rage a Significant Risk for Kansas Motorists

Recently, a man was killed in a traffic confrontation. The 40-year-old victim was shot as the end result of what authorities a referring to as a road rage incident. Kansas reported on the deadly incident. The 42-year-old man who shot the victim called 911 to report the confrontation. When police arrived at the scene, they found the 42-year-0ld performing CPR on the victim. The victim later died from the gunshot wound he had sustained.

Police indicate that the older man who used his weapon will not be arrested for the shooting and he is cooperating with the investigation. It is believed the victim may have been the one to have initiated the confrontation and early investigation suggests the shooter was acting in self-defense.

The victim who died as a result of this recent shooting has had previous issues with traffic confrontations. In 2001, he followed a 48-year old man and sucker-punched him. The man he struck fell down, struck his head on pavement, and died from the injuries. As a result, the perpetrator was sentenced to 11 year in prison at the age of 26. The widow of the man killed 11 years ago was quoted as saying the recent death of her husband’s killer in another road rage incident was “poetic justice.”

While this situation was an unusual one, it is not uncommon for road rage to cause car accidents or fatalities. In some cases, road rage actually leads to intentional acts of violence which cause serious injuries or fatalities. Washington Post reports that there were 47 fatal accidents attributed to road rage in 2013. This is a significant increase from the 26 deaths attributed to road rage in 2004.

In other situations, road rage results in acts of aggressive driving which increase the chances of auto accidents even when motorists are not intentionally causing crashes. KSAT recently reported on a troubling survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which revealed 80 percent of U.S drivers had exhibited road rage or shown aggression or anger on the roads at least once over the past year. A quarter of motorists said they had purposefully blocked or prevented another motorist from changing lanes, and 12 percent of motorists said they had intentionally cut off another driver who was traveling on the road.

When drivers engage in this aggressive and dangerous behavior, they can be held responsible for auto accidents they cause. Motorists need to be responsible, keep their tempers in check while driving, and not give in to anger which results in dangerous behaviors. All motorists will be safer if drivers can keep calm and not allow their driving behavior to be influenced by road rage.

Avoid These Mistakes After Kansas Motorcycle Accidents

Two Kansas men were hospitalized recently when their motorcycles collided. According to the Salina Post, a 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle was being driven by a 44-year-old man when it crashed into a 2014 Harley being driven by a 28-year-old man.

The two motorcycles were passing a car when a southbound vehicle came into view. The 44-year-old driver swerved to try to avoid a collision and hit the 28-year-old man’s motorcycle. Both riders were ejected from their motorcycles and sustained injuries. They had to be transported to the hospital for treatment.

The motorcycle accident is one of many which occur on Kansas roads each year. Many of these accidents cause serious injury, and some are fatal. In fact, Governors’ Highway Safety Administration reportedly recently on a 10 percent surge in motorcycle accident deaths which occurred over the course of 2015. Death rates are also expected to remain high in 2016 because of continued improvements in economic conditions as well as because of low gas prices.

As more people ride motorcycles and accident rates rise, it becomes especially important for motorcyclists, their families, and other drivers to know what needs to be done after a motorcycle accident happens.   The law allows for victims to make a personal injury claim after a driver causes a motorcycle crash through negligence or carelessness. It also allows for wrongful death claims in the event of fatal motorcycle crashes. However, anyone who wishes to pursue a case for compensation following a motorcycle crash will need to make smart choices at the scene of the collision and in the accident’s aftermath.

Motorcycle riders and other motorists involved in motorcycle collisions should try to obtain as much information as possible from others involved in the crash as well as from witnesses. The rider and driver(s) involved in the accident will need to obtain insurance information and contact details. They should also try to get witness contact information in case of disagreement about how the crash happened.

To protect their rights, motorcyclists and drivers also need to avoid errors which could undermine their case. Some of the key mistakes to avoid after a motorcycle accident include:

  • Delaying medical treatment. You need to get help to ensure no injuries are life-threatening and so your injuries can be documented.
  • Failing to report the crash to an insurer. Always alert your insurer, even if the other driver says they will pay. Injuries could turn out to be more serious than anticipated and it is important to protect the right to make an insurance claim.
  • Giving a statement to the other driver’s insurer without talking to a lawyer. You don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your right to get legal benefits.

These are just a few common mistakes you want to make sure you don’t make so you can protect your right to motorcycle crash compensation.

Kansas Rear-End Crash Prevention Tips

Hays Post reportedly recently on a rear-end accident which resulted in two Kansas adults being hospitalized. The incident occurred when the driver of a Chevy pickup truck had to brake sharply as he approached heavy traffic. A motorcycle rider behind the truck hit the brakes, but a driver in a Ford Focus couldn’t stop in time. The Ford pushed the motorcycle into the back of the truck. Three individuals were injured due to the crash, and the driver of the Focus was cited for following too closely.

Unfortunately, accidents in which drivers are tailgating are very common. Drivers need to leave enough space between their car and a lead vehicle to prevent rear-end accidents. There are also some other things drivers need to do to reduce the chances they will become involved in a rear-end collision.

How to Avoid a Rear-End Accident

Drivers can determine an appropriate following distance based on current conditions on the road. In general, drivers should have a following distance measured as three to four seconds. This distance is measured by counting the number of seconds between the time the front car passes a fixed point and the time the car behind him passes the same point. If there are slippery roads or if the weather is bad on a particular day and visibility is affected, drivers may need to leave a longer following distance so they can feel more confident in being able to stop in time.

Leaving a long enough following distance is just one of many rear-end crash prevention tips that motorists should know. Drivers also have to be careful not to speed. Going too fast increases the momentum of a vehicle and causes the car to have a longer stopping distance. The high-speed car could end up being unable to stop or slow down in time to react to something the car in front of him does.

Drivers also need to pay careful attention at all times. Motorists should scan the road ahead of them to identify possible obstacles early on so they do not have to hit their brakes at the last minute. When a driver stops suddenly, this increases the chance he will be hit from behind. Drivers should not use cell phones or other devices which cause them to be distracted from the road ahead of them, and motorists should also make sure they do not drive while they are too tired or while they are intoxicated. A driver who is drunk or who is tired will not be as focused on the road as he should be and is more likely to strike another vehicle from the rear.

If motorists follow these safety tips and make cautious choices while operating their vehicles, hopefully rear-end accident rates can decline and motorists will all be safer on the roads.

Elderly Kansas Driver Shows Dangers of Senior Driving By Hitting Cookie Sales Booth

An 81-year-old Kansas woman caused serious injuries recently when she lost control of her vehicle. Joplin Globe reports the 81 year old struck a cookie sales booth that had been set up in front of a Dollar Store. One young Girl Scout was seriously injured in the incident and two adult troop leaders also sustained minor injuries as a result of the collision. One of the mothers attempted to pull the young girl out of the way of the oncoming SUV but she got hit by the vehicle before she was able to reach the child. The child was flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital for emergency treatment.

The incident is one of many car accidents in which senior drivers are involved in each year. Seniors are disproportionately likely to die in motor vehicle accidents. They can present not only a risk to themselves but, as this accident shows, also a danger to others.

It is very important that older drivers and their family members monitor a senior’s condition carefully in order to determine if there are any health issues or mental impairments which could prevent the senior from continuing to operate his or her vehicle in a safe manner.

The Dangers of Senior Drivers in Kansas City

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides some troubling details about the tremendous risks faced by seniors who drive for longer than it is safe to do so. Senior drivers have higher death rates than any demographic group, other than very young teen drivers who have just started to drive.

Although seniors are the demographic least likely to get into drunk driving crashes, the natural physical and mental declines which go along with aging – coupled with the added risk of developing medical conditions that affect driving abilities – can make seniors very dangerous on the roads.

Seniors consistently account for a small percentage of drivers on roadways throughout Kansas and across the United States. However, despite the small percentage of senior drivers on roadways, these drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of fatal accidents.

In some states, there are laws that are aimed at making sure seniors cannot renew their license if they have become unable to drive safely. Seniors may have to undergo road tests, for example, or may have to renew their licenses in person instead of online or by mail. Unfortunately, Kansas does not have any of these reqiurements.

The only requirement imposed in Kansas for senior drivers that differs from other motorists is accelerated renewal rules. Kansas seniors aged 65 and older have to renew their license every four years, as compared with every six for other motorists. This requirement may not be enough to keep dangerous seniors off the roads. As a result, it is up to older people and their families to make sure they make smart choices about when it is time to stop driving.

Could Technology Prevent Wrong-Way Accidents in Kansas?

Wrong way accidents are almost always head-on collisions. They occur often at highway on-ramps or off-ramps, or on highways. They are frequently high speed crashes, and they are often fatal or cause serious and permanent impairing injuries. Prevention of these types of crashes is essential to saving lives.

Dayton Daily News recently reported on new technologies which could help to reduce the risk of wrong-way accident fatalities. These technologies are currently being tested, with the goal of requiring installation in new vehicles at the end of this year.

Drivers need to ensure they continue to be cautious, even if this technology does come to fruition, as it ultimately remains the responsibility of every motorist to follow road signs and safety rules and prevent wrong-way car accidents from happening.

Could This Technology Help to Save Lives By Preventing Wrong Way Crashes?

The technology which is currently being tested to prevent wrong-way crashes is a communication system which would allow communication between vehicles on the road. The communication system could be used to warn oncoming traffic of a vehicle going in the wrong direction. The system would also alert transportation agencies to cars going the wrong way so a prompt response by emergency personnel could occur.

The technology not only aims to allow communication about wrong-way drivers but would actually make it possible for drivers in different cars to receive warnings about all kinds of hazards and potential risk factors of collisions. The system has not currently been deployed yet, but apps allowing vehicles to send messages back and forth are in the testing phase.

The technologies work via a special radio frequency which has been designated by the Federal Communications Commission. It is referred to as connected technology. While there has been no final app approved yet, the Department of Transportation is aiming to move quickly to get the technology into vehicles. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a DOT agency, has already begun moving forward with a rule expected to be finalized towards the end of 2016. The NHTSA’s proposed rule would require connected vehicle technologies to be installed on all new light duty vehicles and trucks.

DOT is moving fast with promulgating rules allowing vehicle-to-vehicle communication because it has been working on communications technology like this for cars for around a decade. DOT’s research has shown crash rates could be reduced by as much as 80 percent when cars can communicate with each other.

Unfortunately, even with this technology, some wrong way accidents are likely to continue occurring. Many of these crashes are caused by impaired drivers, who could ignore the warnings which are given by the vehicle to impending collisions. There is little that can be done to prevent crashes when drivers choose to engage in such dangerous behavior, short of completely automating vehicles. At least the technology will be a step in the right direction, but the bottom line is drivers need to make smart choices to prevent crashes.

We Thoroughly Investigate Kansas Train Wrecks

Any time you are injured in an accident, it is essential that a thorough investigation is conducted in order to identify all of the responsible parties. A perfect example of this is the recent wreck that occurred when an Amtrak train derailed in southwest Kansas.

Southwest Kansas Amtrak Accident

Shortly after midnight on Monday, March 14, 2016, an Amtrak train carrying 131 passengers derailed in southwest Kansas, according to NPR. The train was travelling from Chicago to Los Angeles. At least 32 people were hospitalized for injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began an investigation into the cause of the accident. According to The Wichita Eagle, an agricultural feed truck owned by Cimarron Crossing Feeders LLC hit the train track and caused the track to shift it 12 to 14 inches.

Conducting a Thorough Investigation

The individuals who were injured in the Amtrak accident have a claim for compensation. A good attorney can help these individuals obtain fair compensation by building on the NTSB investigation in order to determine all of the parties who are responsible. Is the track damage done by the Cimarron Crossing Feeders truck the primary cause of the accident? If so, what evidence can be gathered from the truck and the company records to support such a claim?

However the investigation cannot stop with damage to the track. It is also essential to consider the train’s onboard cameras and recorders to determine whether any responsibility lies with Amtrak. Was the train traveling at an appropriate speed at the time of the accident? Were all safety procedures being followed?

At Bretz & Young, we always conduct a complete investigation of the events surrounding an accident. By identifying all of the potential responsible parties, we maximize the compensation that is available to our clients.

 If you are injured in any type of transportation accident-whether it be a car, truck, motorcycle or train-don’t try to make sense of it on your own. You need an experienced and diligent attorney who will work hard to identify all the facts of the case. You need Bretz & Young.