Ten Defensive Driving Tips You Should Always Practiceentry-title

Photos of Cars Stuck in Traffic

Did you know that traumatic injury is the number one cause of death in people under the age of 45? A report from CNN revealed not only that unintentional injury was the top cause of death for younger people, but that cars were responsible for most of those injuries. That means getting into the car and driving to the grocery store may be the most dangerous thing you do all day. So, how do we protect ourselves when driving our cars? Our Murrieta auto accident attorneys know some defensive driving techniques that could help.

1. Focus on Driving

The first step in learning how to become a defensive driver is learning to stay focused when you are driving. Many people don’t realize that driving is a very thought-intensive activity. You have to think about road conditions, traffic signals, traffic laws, checking mirrors and many other tasks. Talking on the phone, sending a text, eating or paying too much attention to a passenger can result in a crash.

2. Watch Out for Other Drivers

We all make mistakes, and this applies on the road as well. Don’t assume that another driver saw you signal and will let you merge into a lane. Don’t assume that another driver saw the light turn red and will stop. Be cautious, and don’t take another driver’s actions for granted.

3. Maintain a Buffer

Rear-end collisions are a common type of car accident. To help prevent this type of crash, always travel with a buffer of three seconds between you and the car ahead of you. This will allow you to react fast enough to stop your car if someone suddenly slams on their brakes.

4. Be Predictable

When you are driving, you want other drivers to be able to tell what you are going to do. That means moving at a steady pace, avoiding sudden increases and decreases in speed, no unexpected lane changes and using your turn signals.

5. Practice Situational Awareness

Are you using your mirrors and checking your blind spots? How far are you looking ahead of where you are driving? Using your mirrors and looking ahead will help you recognize potential dangers before they get to you.

6. Plan an Escape Route

Always plan two paths to get out of harm’s way while you are driving. If you need to pass a commercial truck, do you have enough room to get out of the way if the truck comes into your lane? If a car suddenly stops in front of you, could you steer into the courtesy lane instead of stopping? Have a backup route planned in your head in case traffic conditions become dangerous.

7. Be Willing to Yield

One of the best ways to ensure your driving safety is to be willing to give up your right of way. If you have the right of way through an intersection, but the cross traffic is not yielding, don’t keep going. It may slow you down a bit, but it will help you avoid crashing. Also, if you are confused about who has the right of way, err on the side of caution and let the other vehicle go.

8. Mind the Speed Limit

A good defensive driver should always pay attention to the speed limit and avoid exceeding it. The faster you drive, the harder it is to maintain full control of your vehicle. Your car will also sustain more damage the faster it is going when a collision occurs. So, slow down and get home safely.

9. Do Not Drive Under the Influence

Law enforcement strives to remind drivers to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, did you realize that even over-the-counter or prescription drugs can affect your driving? Before you get behind the wheel, honestly assess your ability to drive. If you have any doubts, do not drive.

10. Use Your Seatbelt

Utilizing the safety features of your car is a great way to drive defensively. Automatic braking and collision detectors are awesome devices to help you avoid collisions, and they come on many modern vehicles. However, there is one simple, effective device that comes equipped in every car—a seatbelt. This simple belt saves thousands of lives every year. So, please buckle up.

There are even more ways to help ensure your safety while driving on the roadways of California. To learn more, keep following our Murrieta auto accident attorneys on Twitter and Facebook. You can also catch more tips on our Murrieta personal injury blog.

Could a Kia Auto Defect Lead to Catastrophic Injuries?entry-title

Photo of Firefighters fighting a blaze

The Center for Auto Safety collected around 250 reports of Hyundai and Kia vehicles spontaneously catching on fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reportedly received over 350 complaints about fires involving these vehicles. In these cases, there was no collision and the source of the fires is suspected to be a defect in certain engines shared by these auto brands. So why hasn’t Kia or Hyundai recalled the affected vehicles?

Why Won’t Hyundai/Kia Recall Defective Engines?

As more reports pile up, executives at Kia and Hyundai (which owns 33 percent of Kia) continue to drag their feet. Hyundai claims to welcome comprehensive reviews of the non-collision fires while Kia is promising to hire investigators to look into these “thermal incidents”. Executives from the companies have even refused an invitation from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee to testify on the subject. This raises concerns that the companies are trying to avoid liability for these fires and the costs that fixing such defects could incur. Considering that an estimated 2.9 million vehicles could be affected, a Kia and Hyundai fire recall of this magnitude could be quite costly, and it could open the company up to be held responsible for the catastrophic injuries that have already occurred.

Burn Injuries and Recovery

In car fires such as these, burn injuries often occur. Depending on the severity of these injuries, it could take months or even years to recover. Some patients may never fully recover and could be forced to deal with physical and psychological pain for the rest of their lives. Multiple surgeries as well as complications such as infections, blood clotting and scarring could result.

At least six people have been reportedly injured due to these Hyundai/Kia non-collision fires. In the case of a teenager grocery shopping in a Kia Soul for his parents, the spontaneous fire proved fatal. Drivers are even reporting being flagged down by good Samaritans, so they can escape vehicles they didn’t even know were burning. That means everyone needs to be on alert when it comes to these car fires, and this is especially true here in California.

What Other Damages Could a Car Fire Cause?

In the past few years, our state has been plagued by wildfires. Though public utilities have gotten the blame for many of these blazes, not all of them were the result of negligently maintained powerlines. The Carr Fire was reportedly sparked by a car with a flat tire, and Fiat Chrysler was blamed for a 2013 fire that happened only a few counties away from Murrieta and Temecula. If one of these Hyundai or Kia vehicles ignite in our area, could thousands of people be affected?

How Can an Attorney Help After a Non-Collision Fire?

In the event of a spontaneous Hyundai or Kia fire, calling an attorney experienced in handling catastrophic injury cases is critical. Our attorney, Steven Gnau, is a trusted attorney who has helped injury victims throughout Temecula, Murrieta and beyond. Call (951) 370-1111 to schedule a free consultation about your injury today. For updates on the progress of a Kia or Hyundai fire recall, keep following our blog and Facebook.

3 Common Reasons for Thanksgiving Traffic Accidentsentry-title

Photo Of Rear End Car Accident

If you plan to travel by car to visit family or friends for Thanksgiving this year, stay safe and be aware that it is a peak holiday for traffic accidents. Here are three common reasons why traffic accidents occur during this time:

Reason #1: An Increase in Traffic

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 45 million people traveled by car to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in 2017. Throughout the holiday, there will be a higher volume of cars and in turn, less road space to share. People will be driving with determination to get to their destinations. Many drivers will be driving on unfamiliar roads. Mixed with other dangerous driving behaviors, such as talking on the phone or fidgeting with a navigation system, there is a greater likelihood for traffic crashes.

Reason #2: An Increase in Drowsy Driving

Many families will drive at least 50 miles during the holiday. Drivers may try to avoid heavy traffic delays by traveling early in the morning or late at night. Driving at times when the driver is usually sleeping could increase the driver’s risk of falling asleep at the wheel. In addition, if driving long distances, a driver should take proper rest breaks or switch places with a passenger to avoid a drowsy driving accident.

Reason #3: An Increase in Drunk Driving

When people do not plan a safe way home before going out and drinking, there is a greater chance that they will drive drunk. According to information published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 800 people were killed in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes in the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving Day between 2012 and 2016. Binge drinking at local bars has become the standard on Thanksgiving Eve. However, many people will drink with family on Thanksgiving and during the following days, too. Unfortunately, many people will drive back to their hotel or back home while intoxicated.

Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney?

If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, you should contact a California car accident attorney as soon as possible. At Gnau & Tamez Law Group, LLP, we handle every aspect of our clients’ car accident cases so they can focus on recovery.

We recommend that you keep our Glove Box Download in your car in case of an accident. It will guide you through what to do after an accident and will help you remember which information to gather before leaving the scene. Remember: If you need help now, call Steve Gnau! Call (951) 370-1111 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Are Common Spinal Cord Injuries Resulting from a Serious Car Crash?entry-title

Photo of a Chiropractor adjusting neck muscles on female patient

Car accidents can result in a variety of different injuries, depending on the circumstances of the crash. For example, a rear-end collision from a car accident will result in injuries that are different from a roll over car accident. One of the most common catastrophic injuries that drivers can sustain from a serious car accident is a spinal cord injury. Airbags and seat belts are designed to keep your body from absorbing a full impact, but sometimes this force will shift to your spine and cause spinal cord injuries.

What Are the Different Spinal Cord Injuries That I Could Sustain From a Car Accident?

  • Whiplash. This is a very common injury that results from rear-end collisions, which send the driver’s head snapping backwards. Whiplash usually affects the upper section of your spine near the neck, and symptoms can include stiffness, headaches, dizziness, soreness and blurred vision. Physical therapy and rest are two ways to manage whiplash symptoms.
  • Spinal fracture. This injury can occur during a car accident because the seat belt doesn’t always properly keep your body in one place. Your chest and head can move a lot more than the lower half of your body. This extreme force can leave a compression fracture on the spine, which can result in pain, numbness and muscle weakness. Some fractures might have to be treated with surgery, and others with physical therapy and rest over time.
  • Disc herniation. Your spinal discs between your spine vertebrae absorb a lot of force during a car accident. One or more of these discs can shift, and when this shift happens it can compress surrounding nerves, which causes extreme pain or numbness. Surgery can fix a herniated disc or any nearby damaged structures.
  • Vertebrae shifts. Also known as “spondylolisthesis,” this happens when a vertebra shifts due to a stress fracture in the backbone. This injury is similar to a herniated disc, and the displaced bone can also compress surrounding nerves or the spinal canal. This may cause weakness, numbness and radiating pain.

If you have suffered a spinal injury in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you could possibly receive compensation for your injuries. Contact our spinal injury attorney, Steve Gnau, today for a free case evaluation.

Who Is Liable for Injuries From an Autonomous Vehicle Accident?entry-title

Photo of wreck involving sedans

If you have read any recent technology news in our country, then you are probably familiar with the term “autonomous vehicle,” or AV. An autonomous vehicle is also known as a self-driving vehicle. Ridesharing companies such as Uber want to start incorporating this new technology into their services in certain states. However, in the past few years since AVs have been introduced, there have been a few deadly accidents involving these special cars. Experts are now asking who is liable if there are injuries or fatalities in an autonomous vehicle accident.

How Can Liability Be Determined in an Autonomous Vehicle Accident?

When a human is not behind the wheel of a car involved in an accident, it is difficult to determine who is at fault if that car caused an injury or fatality. Since this technology is still being developed, and since there are only a few accidents to base facts and evidence off of, the answer is still not clear.

In March, a pedestrian was fatally hit by an autonomous vehicle in Arizona. After seeing a video of the crash, the city’s law enforcement claimed that it would have been difficult to avoid the collision based on the specific circumstances of the event. Volvo, who has manufactured and supplied many of these self-driving vehicles, could be potentially liable for the accident if litigation occurred. Volvo admitted that its vehicle was involved in this crash, but that the software controlling the vehicle was not its own. In 2015, Volvo stated that they would accept full liability when one of its AVs, equipped with the company’s own self-driving system, crashed while in autonomous mode.

Car accident litigation for autonomous vehicles could involve design or manufacturing defects. A plaintiff would have to prove that a defect directly caused the injury or fatality. Besides this claim, however, any other litigation involving AVs so far have been handled behind closed doors. Accidents like the Arizona tragedy are still being investigated. Litigation will depend on the certain circumstances of the event.

If you have been involved in an accident with an autonomous vehicle, then you will want an attorney to help you answer questions you might have about recovering compensation. Contact Steve Gnau today for a free consultation.