Weighing ‘Total Loss’ Classification Following Hartford Crash

Car insurance is supposed to provide you with coverage if you have an accident. In the event that a crash causes injury, a personal injury attorney can assist in pursuing a damage claim and recovering money for medical bills and other losses from the person responsible for causing the wreck.

Insurance is also supposed to provide the money to repair or to replace your vehicle if it is damaged or destroyed in a collision.

However, in some situations, the insurance company will declare your car is not able to be repaired. This is called declaring the vehicle a total loss. In other words, the vehicle is “totaled.”

When your car is declared a total loss, the insurer will pay the replacement value of the vehicle. This may not always be enough to get a car similar to what you had, and it may be difficult for you to actually find a vehicle  you can buy that is affordable for what the insurance company pays out to you.

When is a Vehicle Declared a Total Loss?

The insurance company gets to make the decision about whether a vehicle is declared a total loss. The insured does not get to make this decision and your insurance company may declare your car to be a total loss even if you would prefer the vehicle was repaired.

According to Claims Journal, an insurance company will declare that a car should be considered a total loss if it would cost more money to repair the vehicle than the car is actually worth. In some cases, this can happen with damage that seems minor to the naked eye. If the frame is bent or there are hidden defects caused by the crash, then the insurance company may declare it a loss.

If you have a less expensive or older car, the insurer may also decide it is not worth fixing the vehicle if it is not practical to spend that much money on a lower value car. For example, if a car is worth only $4,000 and the cost to repair the vehicle is totaled at around $3,000, the insurer may decide it is not worth repairing the car because the repairs would be equal to 75 percent of the total value.

The problem is when an older vehicle is declared a total loss, you may not actually be able to find a similar car in a similar condition for the $4,000 or whatever specific low amount of money is being offered. This is also an issue with brand new or newer vehicles, because they depreciate in value so quickly. Because of this problem, some insurance companies offer special policy options where those who total a new car are able to replace it with another new car.

Although you don’t get to decide whether your insurance company totals your vehicle or not, you may have the option to try to argue for a higher payout than the insurer initially offers you. You can consider asking for more if you have clear evidence that the insurer is not providing what your car is actually worth. Contact an experienced crash lawyer for help.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com.  Also serving New Britain and Norwich to Manchester, New Haven and the Waterbury-area.

Daylight-Saving Time End Means More Hartford Crashes

Daylight-saving time has come to an end for the year when the clocks changed in November. Although many people may appreciate the extra sleep, Time Magazine warns this added slumber can come at a big cost. A personal injury lawyer recognizes there is evidence to suggest daylight-saving time can make the roads less safe, resulting in an increased risk of motor vehicle collisions, especially those involving pedestrians or bicycle riders.

Drivers need to be aware the end of daylight-saving time can be dangerous. Motorists should take extra care, especially in the days immediately following the change, in order to ensure they don’t put themselves, motorists or pedestrians at greater risk.

Ending Daylight-Saving Time Can Be Dangerous

When daylight-saving time ends, there is an extra hour of sunlight during the morning and it gets dark one hour earlier in the evening. As one University of Washington professor who studies daylight-saving time has asserted that darkness is dangerous, and sunlight can save lives. This refers to the fact that when it is dark outside, there is a greater risk of crashes. Visibility is reduced and drivers are more likely not to see pedestrians or bikers on the road.

Because it is much safer for drivers to be on the road during daylight, the key question about whether daylight-saving should end or should continue throughout the year is when sunlight is the most beneficial. Those who believe daylight-saving time should continue believe it is better to have brighter hours in the afternoon while those who believe that daylight-saving time should end believe that it is better to have sunlight in the morning.

One argument for perpetual daylight-saving time is that there are more people who are awake and active at 5 p.m. than at 7 in the morning. It is better to have light out for longer when more people are active so drivers are better able to see pedestrians in the early evening.

Some evidence seems to support this position. For example, a 2004 study showed  if an hour of sunlight was added to each evening year-round, this could prevent as many as 170 pedestrian fatalities and 200 fatalities among motor vehicle occupants.

There are also concerns the abrupt shift in time caused when daylight-saving time ends could result in drivers being less safe because they have difficulty adjusting. In the immediate wake of the change, drivers tend to operate their vehicles as though it is light, even when it is dark. This means they don’t slow down the way that they should in order to be better able to avoid pedestrian or motor vehicle collisions.

The counterargument, however, is it is better for children to end daylight-saving time so it is bright in the morning when kids go to school. This argument is why the National PTA opposed moving daylight-saving time from April to March.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com.  Also serving New Britain and Norwich to Manchester, New Haven and the Waterbury-area.

Hartford Drivers Distracted by Hands-Free Devices

There are many electronic devices that people have become dependent upon today. From talking on cell phones and text messaging to using an electronic GPS to get to your destination, there is a good chance that you use at least some electronics in your car. Unfortunately, using these devices can increase your risk of a collision whether traveling along I-91 in Rocky Hill or while leaving the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester.

A personal injury lawyer knows that many motorists believe they will be safer if they use a hands-free system in their car rather than physically picking up their phone or manually typing into electronic controls. The reality, however, is that multitasking can have a long-term negative impact on your brain. Not only that, but you are still so distracted by using hands-free devices that driving safely is difficult or impossible.

Studies Show Dangers of Driving Distracted

According to Yahoo News, recent studies have demonstrated that voice activated phone systems and voice activated infotainment systems are not any safer for drivers than using handheld systems. In fact, in many cases, using electronic devices with voice control systems can actually be more dangerous than it would have been to simply use your hands to complete the desired task.

Researchers studied drivers using Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, on a simulated driving course. Researchers also tested drivers using popular hands-free infotainment systems made by popular car manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Mercedes, Hyundai, Ford and Chrysler. Each of the different systems was rated on a scale based on how much of a distraction that particular system caused. When the hands-free electronic use caused the least distraction, it would receive a one on the scale. The most distracting devices would receive a five.

Researchers found that using Siri was the worst and most distracting thing that a driver could do. Siri received a 4.14 rating out of five. On the simulated driving course, the motorists who were talking to Siri to get Siri to do tasks actually ended up rear ending vehicles in front of them twice.

In-vehicle electronic systems did a little better, but not much better. The worst of the infotainment systems was the Chevrolet MyLink, which received a distraction score of 3.7. Other systems were not as distracting, but all were found to cause more of a problem in terms of safe driving than if the driver had just used his or her cellular phone in the first place.

The news that multitasking is dangerous is bad news for drivers, because it means that people who try to use electronics can increase the risk of an accident. However, an article from Forbes also suggests that those who are routinely involved in multitasking are actually likely to be the worst at it. This is because people who multitask regularly become less able to pay attention, less able to recall information, and less able to effectively switch from one task to another. As a result, those who are likely to multitask in the car, who are often serious multi-taskers are likely to be the least safe of all.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com.

Preventing Halloween Pedestrian Accidents in Hartford

Halloween night is supposed to be a time of lighthearted tricks and delicious treats. Unfortunately, with so many young children on the roads trick or treating in West Hartford, New Haven, Manchester and throughout Connecticut, there is a significant risk of a pedestrian collision occurring. A personal injury lawyer knows that kids are always more likely than adults to become involved in a pedestrian collision. Unfortunately, the risk of a crash causing a child’s death is increased on Halloween compared with other days of the year.

Kids Face Added Risks on Halloween Night

According to a comprehensive study conducted by State Farm of more than four million collision records from accidents between 1990 and 2010, an average of 5.5 children were killed on Halloween night in pedestrian accidents each year. This is more than double the 2.6 kids who lose their lives in pedestrian collisions on the other days of the year.

An estimated 70 percent of deadly pedestrian crashes involving children occurred in the middle of the block, rather than at intersections or corners. Consumer Affairs speculates that this is because children run out in the middle of the road from in between two parked vehicles and drivers are unable to see them in time to stop their vehicles and avoid a deadly crash.

Accidents are most likely to occur between the hours of 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and 60 percent of the total deadly pedestrian accidents happen between 5:00 and 9:00 PM. The hours with the most accidents are the time when it begins to get dark and visibility is reduced.

It is surprisingly not the youngest children who are at the greatest risk of deadly pedestrian crashes on Halloween night. Young adults between the ages of 12 and 15 are the age group with the highest number of fatalities. In total, kids in these age groups made up 32 percent of the victims of deadly Halloween pedestrian collisions. Children between the ages of five and eight were the second most likely to be killed in a Halloween pedestrian crash. A total of 23 percent of the victims of deadly Halloween collisions were within this age range.

Parents need to be aware that children of all ages face dangers on Halloween Night. Safe Kids Worldwide provides some advice for parents and kids on how to stay safe. For example, children under the age of 12 should not be out trick-or-treating or participating in Halloween activities unless they have an adult with them. Kids should wear bright colored costumes if possible and should have reflective gear on their trick-or-treat bags such as stickers. Wearing a mask should be avoided as it can obstruct vision, and kids should be reminded to cross at corners and look both ways before going across the road.

By following these best practices for safety, hopefully there will be fewer deaths during the upcoming Halloween events. Drivers should also do their part by focusing on the road, slowing down in residential neighborhoods and being extra careful of kids out on Halloween night.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com.

Fall Driver Safety Tips to Prevent Hartford Collisions

Fall brings rapidly changing weather, as well as a change in the clocks.  These and other factors can make fall a dangerous time on the roads. Motorists need to be prepared for the conditions they’ll face when driving in Hartford and should make an effort to follow best safety practices to avoid accidents. If a collision does occur, victims should speak with a personal injury lawyer.

Safe Driving Tips for Fall

The AARP provides some information to motorists on fall driver safety. Drivers should:

  • Be careful of wet leaves on the roads. Wet leaves can lay on the road and become very slippery. If you park your vehicle too close to dry leaves, this can also be dangerous because the catalytic converter on your vehicle could cause the leaves to catch on fire.
  • Remain alert and be aware of the reduced visibility that daylight savings time can cause. Exercise additional caution even on familiar roads after the time change and be on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Check the pressure of your tires. As the weather changes and there are rapid swings from hot to cold weather, this can cause your tires to expand and contract. Check to ensure that the tire treads are not too worn and that the tire’s have the manufacturer-recommended amount of air pressure.
  • Prepare for the glare of the sun. The change in time can alter the morning or late afternoon sun and cause visibility to be impaired as a result of the sun reflecting off of car windows and car hoods. Consider glasses with anti-reflective glare and have sunglasses ready in your vehicle to help you to see better.
  • Be prepared for wet roads. Fall is often a very rainy time and you could be at risk of hydroplaning when water lays on the roads. Remember to slow down when you are in a wet road or when visibility is reduced during a rain storm. You should also check to ensure that your windshield wipers are in good working order and effective at clearing the windshield.

A military safety alert also warns of the potential pitfalls of fall driving, including the risk of unexpected early snow storms as well as the dangers that a frost can present when there is dew on the roads. Fog is also a concern, especially in low places or in areas where there are lots of trees. Drivers should slow down and turn on their low beams or fog lamps.

Fall can also lead to icy conditions. Bridges in Hartford and across Connecticut tend to freeze first before other areas of the roads do and black ice can form even before the dead of winter if the weather becomes unseasonably cold in the fall. The day after the first snowstorm of the year is one of the most dangerous according to Forbes, and you need to be ready in case the snow comes early this year.

Contact a Hartford, CT accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com

Drunk Driving Collision Prevention Year-Around Effort in Hartford

Drunk driving has a tremendous cost to individuals and to society. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) has published a report about the societal costs of impaired driving. A personal injury lawyer knows more than 10,000 people die each year due to impaired driving, and the cost of these losses to the grieving family members left behind is not measurable in dollars. In just the state of Connecticut alone, 85 people lost their lives in 2012 according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Measuring The Costs of Impaired Driving

According to the NHTSA, the direct financial costs of impaired driving totaled at $47 billion in economic loss in 2010. At this amount, this means that the costs of drunk driving were $152 per person in the United States. Once loss of life and lost qualify of life was factored in, the costs of impaired driving reached $195 billion per year.

Each individual person or family affected by an accident has costs to pay. For a minor injury caused by a driver with a blood-alcohol content of .08, the average cost in actual economic loss is $22,000. There are also additional losses associated with impaired quality of life, which reach a total of $25,000.

For individuals who suffer catastrophic injuries as a result of an impaired driving crash, the economic losses from the injuries can reach $1.1 million and loss of quality of life may be as much as $5 million.

The people who face these costs are often innocent victims who did not make the choice to drive drunk. In 35 percent of collisions with impaired drivers, the victims are non-occupants of motor vehicles (like bike riders or walkers) or are either passengers in the drunk driver’s car or other motorists on the road.

Protecting the public and preventing collisions is a top goal for the NHTSA. One recent campaign was organized by the NHTSA and involved more than 10,000 police departments throughout the country. The campaign was called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and it ran from August 15 through Labor Day weekend. It included both added enforcement as well as educational efforts like commercials warning the public about drunk driving.

Although the campaign is over now, enforcement efforts have not stopped and drivers need to continue to follow the laws prohibiting impaired driving. It is very clear that driving while impaired significantly increases the risk of collisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention summarize the impacts of alcohol on the body, which start with a blood-alcohol concentration of just .02 percent.

At a BAC of .02, you may have impaired judgment, more difficulty multi-tasking and reduced visual function. At a BAC of .05, your small muscle control will not be as good as when you are sober and you will also have impaired judgment and lowered levels of alertness. Difficulty steering your vehicle and a reduced ability to respond in an emergency can occur. All of this happens even before you reach the legal limit of .08. Once you have consumed enough alcohol that your BAC has reached .08, you have myriad problems, including impaired perception, and a reduced ability to control your speed or process information. You are a danger to yourself and others if you have consumed this much alcohol and you could be responsible for causing a collision.

Contact a Hartford, CT accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com

Are Men Worse Drivers Than Women?

In today’s world, both men and women generally drive motor vehicles to commute to work or school or to run errands. As a result, the age-old question of whether men or women are better drivers continues to be debated. Unfortunately, it is a question that has no easy answers. In fact, a recent article on Yahoo News suggests that neither men nor women are very good drivers and that both take different risks behind the wheel that can increase the risk of a collision.

When a collision does happen, the victim or surviving family members may have certain rights to obtain compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help those who have been harmed in a motor vehicle crash to understand their rights and pursue a claim.

Accident Risks: Male Drivers vs. Female Drivers

At first glance, it appears that information on male vs. female drivers is conflicting. For example:

  • Yahoo reports that a 25-year-old Oakland man with no accidents and no past tickets is going to pay $385 more in premiums for car insurance than a woman with the same driving history. Since insurers charge based on risk, this would suggest men are worse drivers. The gap between men and women’s premiums doesn’t go away as people age, although it narrows. Men end up paying thousands more during their life.
  • Readers’ Digest reports that men tend to be better than women at many different kinds of driving skills. This would suggest that men are actually better drivers than women.
  • The Daily Mail reported on a study of 6.5 million motor vehicle collisions between 1998 and 2007. Research into the collisions showed more collisions than expected involving two female drivers. Intersections were a high-risk area for collisions involving women.

When looking more carefully at the data, it is easy to explain the apparent discrepancy. All of the studies show that while women may get into more fender benders and minor collisions, men tend to get into more very serious collisions.

Men are more likely than women are to drive while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are much more likely to speed when they drive than women are. They make up 71 percent of people who are killed in motor vehicle collisions in the United States. When they are involved in accidents, the collision is more likely to be caused not by a lack of skill but instead by aggressive driving or other dangerous behavior.

When a person totals a car, it is much more expensive for the insurance company than a fender bender. Likewise, if a driver causes very serious injury or even death to passengers or others on the road, insurance companies may have to pay out very large settlements to victims or surviving family members. As a result, insuring men costs more and men pay higher premiums not because they are more likely to become involved in collisions but instead because they are more likely to be involved in serious collisions.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation.

Accident Prevention & Road Safety Efforts

The Governors Highway Safety Association has published its annual report on agency activities. The GHSA is responsible for helping to improve road safety and reduce collisions. The report details the progress that is being made in protecting the public on roadways.

Unfortunately, accidents continue to occur even as safety laws get tighter and safety efforts improve. If you or a loved one is the victim of a collision, a personal injury lawyer can represent you.

GHSA Report on Accident Prevention Efforts

The GHSA report provides information on the progress that has been made in reducing the dangers of some of the major risks that motorists face on the roads. For example:

  • Since 2010, more states have begun enacting and enforcing distracted driving laws. Just three years ago, only 28 states reported that distracted driving was a safety concern necessitating attention. There has been a 43 percent increase and now 40 states report distracted driving as a concern. The public is also becoming more aware, as more than 20,000 people accessed online resources on distracted driving provided by GHSA.
  • Motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 20. Teenagers become involved in three times the number of fatal motor vehicle collisions as all other drivers. Efforts to reduce teen driving deaths include the Ford Driving Skills for Life Program, which is in its 11th year and which GHSA helped to develop. The DSFL program awarded $100,000 to state highway safety offices last fiscal year to promote safe driving for teens. National Driver Safety Week was also held in October of last year.
  • Drugged driving is becoming a bigger concern as states like Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana use. GHSA strengthened its drugged driving policy last year and is encouraging states to expand existing Administrative Law Revocations or enact new revocation laws for drug-impaired motorists who refuse to take a drug test. Administrative revocation of a license is already the law in most cases when a motorist refuses to take a test to detect his blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
  • Motorcycle fatalities declined seven percent last year, but motorcycle safety has not increased over the past 15 years. The GHSA published a report featured in 20 publications on the issue, which prompted advocacy for new laws to require helmets for all riders in four states.
  • Motor vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of fatalities for young children. However, more than a million people visited GHSA’s online resources to learn about child safety seat laws last year.

GHSA is also working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to facilitate the implementation the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) law, which was signed into law in July of 2012 to fund transportation programs nationwide.

While government agencies could certainly do much more to help motorists and to improve road safety, this report highlights some areas where the GHSA is at least trying to make a difference in reducing the risk of collisions.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation.

Connecticut Taking Aggressive Approach to Stop Student Accidents Among Athletes

Student accidents are a very real risk for both high school and college athletes. Unfortunately, when the school staff overseeing the sports programs are not properly trained, young people may be at risk of brain injuries and other serious health problems.

The state of Connecticut has taken an aggressive approach to protecting young athletes from getting hurt at school, passing legislation designed to ensure that schools do what it takes to keep kids safe. If a student accident causes injury to you or a loved one, call the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli.

Connecticut Laws Designed to Reduce Student Accidents

According to the Norwich Bulletin, Connecticut became one of the first states in the country to enact legislation designed to minimize the risk of concussion to young people playing sports. Concussions can impact memory and cognitive function and can have a lasting impact on health, including increasing the risk of dementia later in life, particularly in cases involving repeated head injuries. Lawmakers in Connecticut enacted legislation in 2010, as the dangers of concussions became more well-established.

Under the legislation, anyone given a state permit to coach either interscholastic or intramural sports is required to receive periodic training on both recognizing and treating concussions. Further, any student who was sidelined for having a suspected concussion is required to get medical clearance before being allowed to resume playing the sport.

Other states have since passed similar legislation designed to ensure that school staff and coaches know how to respond appropriately to a head injury. Connecticut decided to once again consider the issue of concussions and sports accidents in 2014, to expand its laws and to continue to be a leader in protecting children.

The General Assembly’s Committee on Children heard testimony about an expansion to the 2010 concussion law, which would impose tougher restrictions and add additional public education components.

The proposed law would limit the amount of time spent in practices for contact sports to a total of 90 minutes per week. The State Board of Education would also be required to develop a concussion education plan and operators of youth athletic activities would be required to provide information on the risks of concussions to both young athletes and their parents. Local and regional school boards would need to report all instances of concussions that young student athletes experience, and an awareness education program would be developed about the dangers of concussions.

Taking a comprehensive approach to preventing concussions is important because of the lasting risks of brain injury, especially on a developing brain. When a young person does suffer brain injury, it is important to determine if the school or coaches were negligent in a way that caused or exacerbated the damage. In such cases, it may be possible for the victim and his family members to obtain compensation for the losses and damages resulting from the brain injury.

Contact a Hartford accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com.

Look Before You Lock Prevents Child Injury in Connecticut

When a child is left inside of a hot car, that child could suffer brain damage or loss of life. Unfortunately, some parents leave kids inside of their cars on purpose while they run in to do errands, not realizing the risk they are taking. Other parents accidentally leave a child in the back of the vehicle because they forget their kids are there.

Parents are not the only ones who may endanger a child by leaving their son or daughter in a vehicle in the heat. There are also instances where children are left inside of buses or inside of daycare vans and are injured or lose their lives as a result. If a caregiver causes a child injury, a personal injury attorney can help parents to take legal action.

Look Before You Lock

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is running a campaign to try to draw attention to the danger of leaving a child inside of a hot vehicle. From May through September, the “Look Before You Lock” campaign encourages parents to get into the habit of checking the front and back seats every time before they lock their car. This way, they will see if a child has been left inside before tragedy strikes.

The Look Before You Lock Campaign could help to reverse a disturbing trend of children dying of heat stroke. Each year since 1998, an average of 38 children have died each year when they were left inside of cars. Last year in 2013, there were at least 44 fatalities in the U.S. and there have already been several deaths in 2014.

Children may not only be at risk if parents unintentionally leave them in vehicles, but some parents leave kids inside of their cars on purpose. Parents may think that they are leaving their children for just a second while they run into a store, but it does not take very long for a child’s temperature to reach a dangerous level. If a child’s temperature hits 107, the child will die. Unfortunately, kids are less able to regulate body temperature than adults are and their bodies can heat up anywhere from three to five times faster than adults’ bodies.

Despite the risks of heat stroke, around 14 percent of all parents in the United States said that they have left their child unattended inside of a vehicle. Only eight percent of moms said that they do this, but 23 percent of dads admitted to leaving kids in cars. Children under three are at the biggest risk, and 23 percent of parents of children in this age group have indicated that they have left children inside of cars.

This means that around 3.3 million kids are potentially being put at risk of heat stroke within the United States. On a day in the mid-80s with the window cracked two inches, a child could die within 10 minutes in a hot car. Parents need to understand this incredible danger and avoid putting their children at risk.

Contact a Hartford personal injury lawyer today at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. Calling 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for your free case consultation or visit http://www.salomoneandmorelli.com