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Category Archives: Auto Accidents


injury severity

What Factors Determine the Severity of a Car Accident Injury?

A car accident can be a traumatic experience for anyone, both emotionally and physically. Even if you only suffered a minor injury, you should expect to be sore for at least a few days following the accident. However, there are times when some injuries could take longer to heal. With any injury, you want the recovery to happen as soon as possible. 

The extent of your injury plays a major role in how long your pain will last, but there are other factors as well. Your age, the type of injury, as well as what happened in the car accident all influence how long you will recover. 

If you are wearing a seat belt, the seat belt will restrain your body to help prevent a severe injury. If you are not wearing a seat belt, then something else must stop your body from moving when the car stops, such as the dashboard or the steering wheel, which can cause a catastrophic injury. When your body comes to a complete stop, the momentum of the accident can affect your internal organs, which can lead to internal organ damage.

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

Your age and overall health will also determine the severity of your injury. Younger people will generally heal quicker than the elderly. People with poor health cannot heal as quickly as well. For example, a person with a pre-existing condition like an autoimmune disease will take longer to heal, even if the accident is minor. 

Most mild injuries take a few days to a few weeks to heal. On average, a car accident injury takes about six weeks to heal, but each injury is different. You cannot predict the recovery time of your injury, so it is important to get medical help as soon as possible.

Although many factors can determine the severity of your injury, some injuries are more common than others. Common car accident injuries include:

  • Whiplash: Whiplash is common in rear-end accidents, where the head moves forward and back in a violent motion. This causes back and neck soreness, disc pain, and shoulder and arm pain. Whiplash is generally not felt immediately, rather, it takes hours or days after the accident to show up. If you have whiplash, your injury may take up to a few weeks or longer to heal.
  • Soft tissue injuries: There are many different types of soft tissue injuries, such as bruises, sprains, and strains. These injuries can take weeks or even months to heal. 
  • Back or neck injuries: The impact of a car accident can cause the discs in your spine to shift and go out of alignment. More serious accidents can cause major back injuries, such as ruptured discs. The recovery time of a back injury varies, but most take about six to 12 weeks to heal if surgery is not needed. 
  • Broken bones: In most cases, broken bones take six to eight weeks to heal. However, the severity of the injury can cause a longer recovery period.

It is imperative to seek medical attention after any type of car accident. Many injuries take days to appear. Additionally, insurance companies may deny a claim if you take too long to see a doctor after a car accident.

What Are Possible Treatments?

Every injury is unique as well as the treatment plan. Doctors may prescribe the following to treat your car accident injury:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Prescription medications.
  • Physical or occupational therapy.
  • Epidural injections.
  • Surgery.

What if My Pain Worsens?

A main reason to seek medical attention immediately after an accident is because a doctor can determine the severity of your injury. Minimal pain can be misleading, and you may be seriously injured without even realizing you are hurt. A doctor can examine you and create a treatment plan, and they can give you a timeframe of your recovery period.

You may find that your pain extends past your estimated healing time. If your pain worsens or does not subside, you should return to the doctor who diagnosed you, as they may have missed something during your initial appointment. You should schedule a follow-up appointment if you are experiencing the same symptoms. It is important to follow the doctor’s orders and go to all follow-up appointments. You should go to the doctor immediately if you have any new symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or if you are having trouble sleeping.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

There are some steps to take following a car accident: 

  • Seek immediate medical attention. This is the only way you can determine the severity of your injury. 
  • Document your injury as well as your treatment plan. Keep all medical records.
  • You also should contact your insurance company right away. You should notify them of the accident.
  • Speak with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will protect your rights and determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury suit.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Provide Legal Help While You Focus on Healing Your Car Accident Injury

Many factors determine the severity of a car accident injury. You should always go to the doctor after an accident, but it is also important to seek legal help if you have a catastrophic injury that was caused by a negligent driver. Our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you explore your legal options after a collision. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

Self Driving Car

How Can Electric Cars Be Made Safer?

To reduce emissions and preserve natural resources, automakers around the world are moving to all-electric vehicles.  In 1997, Toyota brought electric technology to the masses with the production of the Prius, which is a hybrid, electric and gasoline type vehicle.  The consumer has responded in droves; since 2016, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have grown over 40 percent, perhaps even more in city-wide areas.  

The increasing popularity of EVs present several benefits for both drivers and the environment.  However, they do have a negative impact, particularly for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Gasoline engines make a sound, and pedestrians and those outside of a vehicle use the combustion sounds of an engine to be alerted of the vehicle’s presence.  With EVs and hybrids, there is essentially no sound, and if there is, it is drowned out by any ambient noise.    

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both hybrid and EVs are 37 percent more likely to cause a car accident with a pedestrian; with cyclists, it is 57 percent.  Governments are now mandating automakers to help solve this increasing problem: to have EVs and hybrid cars produce an alarm tone or sound to warn pedestrians.

Of course, this is easier said than done.  The noises heard in any city warning pedestrians a vehicle is traveling near them are primarily combustion engines and tire or brake noise.  At low speeds, however, it is very difficult to hear any tire noise, which is heard more often when the vehicle is traveling faster than 30 mph.  Finally, a gasoline vehicle will produce a wind noise at over 19 mph, but this noise is generally silent with an EV.  

Furthermore, many pedestrians rely on their sense of vision and hearing to travel safely in an urban environment.  However, studies have shown that it is more difficult for younger pedestrians to understand what is going on around them.  Combine that with cellphone or headphone use, or if the pedestrian has a visual impairment, traveling in a city by foot becomes even more dangerous.  

Other Electric Car Dangers

Electric cars can be dangerous for the drivers themselves.  Many drivers use the sound of an engine to determine their speed.  Without it, a driver will lack the sense of speed, making them speed up too quickly and lose control of the vehicle.  Furthermore, even though EVs and hybrid vehicles are safer for the environment than gasoline cars, their production of electricity and battery usage is still harmful to the planet.   

Automakers and Sound Production

Not only must automakers decide how or when to produce the alarm, but also they must decide what the warning should actually sound like.  The U.S. government is requiring automakers to make the noise discernible from various distances at different speeds, giving the pedestrian enough time to react.  

A study performed by researchers at Penn State University and Virginia Tech tested how well people can understand the EV sound.  They were asked to press a button when they were able to determine an electric vehicle was traveling nearby.  Although the artificial sound drastically improved the test subject’s ability to detect over no sound, regardless of distance, their detection never reached 100 percent.  This means that sound alone is not the answer.  

Furthermore, additional research has been made by third-party companies to help solve this issue.  Through their research, one such company found that:

  • The three most important aspects of an electric car sound would be to increase pedestrian safety, reduce noise pollution, and design the sound so that it is easily discernable for an electric car or even brand recognition.  
  • A sudden change in sound can communicate a warning, not just loud volumes.  
  • People interpret sounds differently from one another, and, internally, assess a dangerous situation differently as well.  This means that people will need to be educated about what the sound means and how to react appropriately and safely.  
  • The best audio solution for automakers to implement are ones based on the senses, similar to parking aid sensors.  This suggests outer sensors installed on a vehicle to consider a vehicle’s speed, direction, outer conditions, and how many pedestrians are in the area.  With this information, the sound can adjust to provide the appropriate warning.  

 

Many manufacturers have hired sound design technicians to help determine not only what an electric car should sound like, but also how to make it the alarm they need to advertise safety.  These carmakers also discovered that the consumer may want to have their vehicle sound their own way.  Additionally, for carmakers who span the globe, one warning sound in the United States may be different than other countries.  Finally, manufacturers must be sure the sound they approve is highly detectable but also does not cause any noise pollution.  Still, it is agreed that some type of sound should be implemented.    

There are a few disadvantages to an acoustic alarm system.  Experts believe that, if their EV is producing an audible warning for pedestrians, motorists will drive without acknowledging the pedestrians, transferring the responsibility to the pedestrian to stay safe.  However, other experts believe that both the driver and pedestrian will adapt to the acoustic warning system the more it is implemented into our daily lives.  

Another issue is electric cars in rural areas, and how to warn bicyclists or pedestrians if they rarely, if ever, see an electric car.  Although they are popular, they are mostly not seen in rural or low-income areas.  Carmakers must also consider how to educate these areas what the alarm is and make the sound more widespread and available.   

Additionally, older hybrid and EVs, made before the federal mandates, do not have any type of acoustic warning system.  Carmakers will also need to decide how to retrofit such a system to comply with federal regulations.  

Finally, there have been other non-acoustic ideas that carmakers have considered to help reduce pedestrian accidents, but there has not been any research supporting their production as compared with acoustic warning systems.  

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Drivers and Pedestrians Injured by Electric Cars 

If you have been involved in an accident with an electric car, whether you were a driver or a pedestrian, reach out to the Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow.  Our skilled and experienced team have decades of car accident experience and will fight to get the compensation for which you are entitled.  Contact us online or call any of our three numbers: 302-427-9500, 302-834-8484, or 302-422-6705 today to schedule your free evaluation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients in Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford, Delaware.

 

car totaled accident

What Should I Do if My Car Was Totaled in an Accident?

By insurance standards, a car is deemed to be a total loss if the cost to repair the vehicle is more than its value. Generally, this is when repairs are estimated to cost 70 to 80 percent of what the car is worth. A vehicle may also be declared totaled if it is deemed irreparably unsafe, or the extent of the damage is considered a total loss under state regulations. After a serious car accident, the insurance company must determine the actual cash value of your car to be able to decide if it is a total loss. If you get in an accident that completely wrecks your car, you should take the following steps:

  • Contact your insurance to start the claims process. The insurance company has to decide whether to repair your car, replace it, or declare it a total loss and reimburse you for the car’s actual cash value. The process to declare a car totaled can take some time, so do not delay. You will not necessarily know right away if the damage is considered a total loss, which is why it is important to file a claim as soon as possible.
  • Take your car to a body shop approved by your insurance company. This can save you time and headaches from having to change mechanics during the process. Insurers like to work with shops with whom they have a good relationship, and the body shop’s job will be to assess the damage to your vehicle and the cost of repairs. The insurance will review their estimate, keeping in mind that often as cars undergo repairs more damage is discovered, and decide whether your car can be declared a total loss.
  • Be prepared with the right documents. You will need the title and sales receipt to prove the value of your car. If you are leasing the car or making payments on it, then the title will be with the lessor or lender. It is also a good idea to do some research on what your car was worth at the time it was totaled. This can be done through resources, like the Kelley Blue Book, or by comparing the prices of similar cars in your area.

How Is the Actual Cash Value of My Car Determined?

The insurer will look at various factors, such as the make and model of the car, major options the car featured, how old it is, how much mileage is on the car, the resale value, and the overall condition at the time of the crash. After considering all of this information, they will decide on the vehicle’s actual cash value and offer you that amount minus any deductible on your policy. This is where your research on your car’s value comes in; it will help you evaluate whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and reasonable.

How Does My Insurance Protect Me After My Car Is Totaled in an Accident?

If you are involved in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver and your car gets totaled, the other driver’s insurance has to pay you the value of your car through their property damage liability coverage. However, if you have the bad luck to be hit by an uninsured/underinsured driver, then your own insurance kicks in to cover your losses. It is a good idea to periodically review your insurance policy and really understand what you are paying for and your liabilities should you be involved in a serious accident.

The two kinds of auto insurance are comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive insurance covers all types of unexpected events other than collisions, such as fires, hitting a deer, or someone stealing your vehicle. Collision insurance is optional except for cars that are leased and can be quite expensive in some states. This supplemental insurance covers damage to your vehicle regardless of who caused the accident.

If your car is totaled after an accident caused by another driver, their insurance should pay damages up to the limit of the policy, and then your comprehensive and/or collision coverage kicks in, minus the deductible. If your car was being financed, then it is possible that after the insurance payment you may still owe money to your lender and that comes out of your pocket. There is insurance to cover this gap known as loan or lease gap coverage.

Can I Keep My Car After the Insurance Declared it a Total Loss?

There are different reasons why you might want to hold on to your car after it has been declared a total loss, whether it is for the salvageable parts or for sentimental reasons. A number of factors will determine whether keeping it is possible. If you own the car outright, then you have control over the decision, however, if it was leased or you are still paying on a loan, then the lienholder gets to decide because they own the title.

Some states do not allow drivers to keep a totaled car. Other considerations are whether you will be able to get insurance for your salvaged vehicle or if it is even repairable and can pass an inspection.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Help You After a Serious Car Wreck

Any car accident can be a traumatic experience, but one in which your car was totaled can be particularly overwhelming. Let our experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow help you sort out the negotiations. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. We have convenient office locations in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we represent clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

daylight saving accident

Do Car Accidents Increase When Daylight Saving Time Ends?

Soon after Halloween, the clocks need to be turned back to end daylight saving time (DST). This year, the time change will happen in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 7.

For drivers, the end of DST means that the common commuting hour of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. will be in darkness. Also, the commute into work and school is more likely to involve sun glare. All of this can create dangerous conditions for drivers.

Even though DST is not a popular tradition, it will likely continue in Delaware until many other states eliminate the time change. Since it will be happening in most of the United States, there is something far more serious for people to keep in mind. Drivers are more likely to get in car accidents for about two weeks following the time shift. AAA Mid-Atlantic said the increase in accidents in Nov. results from disrupted sleep patterns, even if an hour of sleep is gained.

Pedestrians are also vulnerable during the end of DST, specifically between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Driving in Morning Glare, Going Home in Darkness

The morning commute comes with sun glare when the clocks fall back, making it difficult to see the road ahead. With the end of DST, the evening commute time of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. is now in darkness. The week before, people were driving in more light during this time, even if it was fading. In essence, drivers are coming across visual challenges on both ends of the commute.

Morning glare causes accidents, but crashes are far more likely to occur at night than any other time of the day. Despite 60 percent less traffic on the roads at night, more than 40 percent of all car accidents occur at night, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

It takes time to adjust to the time shift. Sleep experts advise that you should expect to take at least a week or so to adapt to the time change. At first, people tend to become drowsy when it is dark outside, and that is another thing to keep in mind while traveling during your evening commute. Drowsy driving, similar to drunk driving, means inattention and reduced reaction time, according to the AAA.

Besides darkness coming early, adjusting sleep to your new sleep schedule can make you feel more agitated. Agitation can lead to aggression. On the road, you may also see more aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and tailgating.

There are biological reasons for irritability, too. The circadian rhythm, which controls the release of mood, appetite, and sleep hormones, will be thrown off, even when the time change is just one hour. That shift in the circadian rhythm can lead to headaches and other adverse side effects.

How Can I Prevent an Accident Following the End of DST?

The AAA has a few tips that drivers can follow at the end of DST and throughout November and the winter months:

  • Follow a safe driving distance so you can react to changes in the road. This is something that drivers should do all the time, but it is more important when visibility is reduced, which may be true for both the evening and morning commuters.
  • Slow down at crosswalks and intersections, and anticipate that pedestrians may cross mid-block. Like drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are adjusting to the shorter daylight, and accidents can happen very easily. Jaywalking may be frowned upon and a finable offense, but it is common.
  • Adjust speed to compensate for low-light conditions. Driving slower helps drivers adjust to the reduced visibility on the road.
  • Maintain vehicles so that your headlights, taillights, and signals work properly. Replace worn wiper blades so you are not stuck with non-working wipers in a rainstorm, and refill fluid reservoirs.
  • Clean and maintain windshields, windows, and mirrors. A dirty or damaged surface that drivers rely on for gauging traffic and the road ahead can distort their view.
  • Avoid two-lane highways if possible. The visual glare of traffic from the opposite side of the road can be blinding. In addition, with lower visibility, two-lane highways tend to have more curves and turns.
  • Use high-beams when visibility is low. High-beams can be blinding for the other drivers, but if used on an empty, poorly-lit road, it allows the motorist to see the road ahead. Low-beams will allow the driver to see about 160 feet in front of their vehicle, high-beams will allow the driver to see up to 500 feet away.
  • Check the lighting inside the car and adjust it to the changing outside conditions. Visibility will be challenged, and bright lighting inside the car may further compromise the vision of the driver.
  • Avoid distractions. Put down the cellphone, and set up your music playlist or radio station ahead of your journey. Avoid eating, drinking, and checking the passengers in the seats behind you while driving.

For pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Wear reflective gear at night.
  • Walk against traffic, but bicycle with traffic.
  • Cross at corners, not in mid-block. Not only are drivers more likely to be on the lookout at corners, they are legally required to stop at crosswalks.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Help You After a Drowsy Driving Collision

There will likely be an uptick in car accidents in the weeks following the end of DST. You should prepare for the time change, but you cannot guarantee that other drivers will do the same. If you were injured by a drowsy driver, contact our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

avoid car accidents on halloween

How Do I Avoid a Car Accident on Halloween?

Halloween is a fun holiday for many families. Children get dressed up and go trick-or-treating to get a lot of candy. It is a night when the street will be packed with young trick-or-treaters with candy on their mind.

As children go around the neighborhood, they do not always remember how to pay attention, particularly when they cross the street. The number of fatal car accidents rises significantly on Halloween night, and it is up to motorists to be extra vigilant, especially when it is dark.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween. On average, there are about 2.6 child pedestrian fatalities per day, however, that number jumps to 5.5 fatalities on Halloween night, with children between 12 to 15 years old being the most impacted.

Given the increased dangers for pedestrians and children on this night, it is even more important that drivers are extra vigilant when they are out on the road. There are a few tips that drivers should take to ensure everyone’s safety on this evening.

Drive Slowly

Particularly in residential neighborhoods, you need to modify your speed to account for children running around. You should also drive slowly as you pull out of your driveway in anticipation of trick-or-treaters walking up and down the sidewalk. By driving slower, you can stop quicker if someone unexpectedly jumps out in front of your car.

Avoid Distractions

While it is always important to pay attention to the road, it is more so on Halloween. You need to avoid distractions, such as using your cellphone or adjusting your radio. Distracted driving should always be avoided, your attention should be on the road.

Use Headlights

Do not wait for the sun to set fully before you turn on your headlights. Children trick-or-treat well past dark, and it can be dangerous for those who are in dark-colored costumes. Turning your headlights on early will prevent you from getting caught without lights when it gets dark.

Watched for Parked Vehicles

While you are driving on Halloween night, you may encounter a vehicle pulled on the side of the road. Approach and pass these vehicles with caution. Many times, it is a parent dropping off or picking up children.

Listen

Keep your radio turned off, and open your windows so that you can hear everything that is going on around you. If you can hear children nearby, you will be more cautious with how you drive as you approach crosswalks and other areas.

Do Not Drink and Drive

Even though Halloween is mostly for children, adults still have their own fun and attend parties. There can be alcohol at Halloween parties. When you drink, your senses are impaired, and you will not react as quickly as you normally do. That can make for a dangerous combination on Halloween night. You should not drink and drive, and if you find yourself unable to drive, have a friend or hire a rideshare service.

Other parents might be driving their own children around for trick-or-treating on this night. While it is important that you make sure your child is buckled up, you should not do it while they are in their costume. Regardless of whether they are in a car seat or a regular seat, their costume could have extra padding or a hard surface that will make it difficult to fully secure the child.

When you pull over to drop your child off for trick-or-treating, be sure to do it in a safe spot. Turn on your hazards, and have all the children exit onto the curb and not the street. Finally, pull over somewhere where you will not have to back up to leave. Backing up can be more dangerous with children running around.

If you do have to back up, you should have another person stand outside your car who can help direct you out of the space and keep an eye out for anyone getting near your vehicle as you start to move.

How can Pedestrians Stay Safe on Halloween?

While drivers should increase their vigilance as they make their way around on Halloween night, pedestrians and trick-or-treaters should be cognizant of cars in the road and act accordingly. They should make themselves as visible as possible, including wearing a bright-colored costume or walking around with a flashlight. This will keep you visible to other pedestrians and drivers, particularly as it begins to get dark.

Always make sure to walk on the sidewalk as you go from house to house, and stay out of the road unless you are crossing. When you do cross, you should do so only at designated locations, such as crosswalks. Always look both ways when you cross the street or a driveway because drivers may dart out without looking.

Halloween can be a lot of fun for children as well as adults, but it can be also a very dangerous holiday. If an accident does happen, you might have legal recourse.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow are There for You if a Car Accident Ruins Your Halloween

A collision on Halloween can be traumatic, but our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow understand how you feel, and we will have your back. Call us at 302-427-9500 or fill out our online form today to schedule your free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

Autumn

How can Drivers Prepare for Autumn?

While some people dread the end of the summer, others simply love the fall. The change of season brings cooler weather and cherished traditions. A drive to see fall foliage is a ritual many people enjoy. A lot of autumn activities involve driving. You should be prepared for fall-related driving issues ahead of time in order to avoid a car accident in autumn.

Prepare for Reduced Visibility

Fall in the Northeastern United States involves shorter days. Trips that were previously in full daylight in the summer may now be in the dark. You may find your commute involves driving into the glare of a setting sun, which can greatly impair your vision. Consider wearing glasses with an anti-reflective (AR) coating on the lenses to reduce glare and improve vision.

The ability to drive at night changes with age. If you notice halo effects or increased glare from lights while driving at dusk or at night, you may need prescription eyeglasses. If so, be sure to have your eyes checked, and wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct vision.

Visibility can be very limited in conditions of heavy rain, fog, or water spray, which are all common during the fall. Be sure windshield wipers are not worn out, and the windshield washer fluid reservoir is full. Wiper blades that make a scratching sound when operated, appear cracked or distorted, or leave streaks need to be replaced. Replace blades regularly or as soon as they show signs of wear.

Fog can decrease visibility greatly, and slowing down and increasing following distance are both important precautions to take in foggy conditions. When driving in foggy conditions, it is best to use low beams since high beams reflect off the fog.

Avoid Piles of Fallen Leaves

Fallen leaves can pose some unique hazards. They are slippery, and driving on them makes it harder to stop quickly. They can also conceal potholes and other roadway deficiencies. Unfortunately, accidents have happened where children playing in piles of leaves have been injured or killed when drivers attempted to park on the leaves and were unable to see the children playing.

Be Mindful of Students and School Buses

Children have returned to school, and school buses will be dropping off and picking up students. Remember to stop in both directions when a school bus is loading or unloading students. Be careful to wait before proceeding as children may need to cross the street once they exit the bus.

Expect Poor Weather

Fall weather includes a lot of rain, which poses a series of difficult driving conditions. Rain can cause problems when it first starts because the water combines with oil on the road to create a very slippery film. This increases the risk of hydroplaning, which is when the tread fails to channel water away from the tire and the tires lose contact with the road. Poor tire tread increases the risk of hydroplaning.

Heavy rain can also cause flash floods. If you must drive during heavy rains, be sure to check local news reporting on roadway conditions. Heed local flash flood warnings and barriers. Do not drive into puddles when the depth cannot be determined. Driving in water deeper than about 6 inches will likely cause the vehicle to stall. Driving a vehicle in 12 inches or more of water will risk it floating away.

Be Careful of Deer

Fall is deer mating season, and they are most active during dawn and dusk. It is especially important to practice the “three-second plus rule” to allow enough time to maneuver safely around unexpected obstacles. Ordinarily, it is advised you maintain three seconds worth of distance from the vehicle in front of you.  Once the vehicle in front passes a stationary object, you should be able to count for three seconds before passing the object.

The “plus” part of the rule suggests adding one second of distance for each situation where conditions may require additional time to react. For example, when driving in the rain during deer mating season, allow five seconds worth of distance from the vehicle in front of you. The added distance provides more time to react and avoid a collision.

Vehicle Maintenance

Be sure your vehicle is up to the task before taking to the road to enjoy fall activities. Tires are important for safe operation of every vehicle. Both tire tread and tire pressure need to be kept within safe limits.

Adequate tire treads protect against losing traction. The rate of wear depends on driving conditions. Tire ratings are a poor measure of how long tires will last.  Check tire tread with a penny by inserting it into the tread and touching the tire with the top of Lincoln’s head pointed toward the tire. If it is possible to see the top of his head, then there is not enough tread. Be sure tires have enough tread in advance of the fall season.

Underinflated or overinflated tires increase wear and tear and can be more prone to blowouts. Fill tires when they are cold to the proper pressure as indicated in the tire and loading information label on the inside of the driver’s side door jam or in the owner’s manual. Many gas stations have air pumps with built in tire pressure gauges for this purpose.

The following are additional routine inspection and maintenance tasks to tackle before taking any long trips in the fall. Oil must be changed regularly for safe operation. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for changing oil.

Check the condition of brake pads and rotors regularly. It will save money in the long run to replace worn brake pads before damage to the rotors occurs.

Finally, check the engine coolant level and condition. The coolant keeps the engine cool, lubricates the moving parts, and protects the rubber seals from cracking. Change the coolant as per manufacturer’s instructions or the advice of a trusted mechanic.

Plan Out the Route

If you will be taking an excursion to see the fall foliage or visit relatives, be sure to first follow the above maintenance trips. Next, be sure to know where you are going. Cellphones now have apps that provide directions, including information on points of interest, such as lodging, gas stations, restaurants, and the like. Some apps provide warnings of traffic delays and offer alternate routes to avoid accidents.

Make sure the cellphone is charged, that there is a charger in the vehicle, and you position the cellphone so it can be used hands free. Additionally, have drinking water, snacks, warm clothes, and a first-aid kit for added comfort and security.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Drivers Injured in Severe Autumn-Related Accidents

Autumn presents unique driving hazards, and you should prepare for the weather change ahead of time. If you become injured in a fall-related accident, speak with one of our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

Mechanic

Can a Mechanic or Auto Repair Shop be Liable for a Car Accident?

Car accidents happen every day and for many different reasons. However, what if a car accident resulted from a mechanic’s negligence? Could an injured driver hold the mechanic or auto repair shop liable for the accident? These questions may come up after someone is in a car accident because of a faulty tire, brake, or another auto part.

Although it is possible to file suit against a mechanic or repair shop, winning this type of lawsuit requires clear and strong documentation to prove that the mechanic’s actions directly caused the collision. For this reason, it is important to contact a lawyer after this type of accident.

Transactional Expectations Between a Mechanic and Car Owner

When a car owner brings their vehicle to an auto technician, repair shop, or car dealership, they enter into a transactional agreement. The car owner agrees to give up temporary physical control of their vehicle. The mechanic is expected to honor this transaction by doing work under the implicit or explicit agreement. The goal of this type of relationship is for both parties to get value from the arrangement. The car owner gets the value of knowing that the car has been fixed. In turn, the mechanic is paid for acting responsibly and professionally.

If the mechanic breaches this expected duty of care by acting negligently, they may be liable or the shop may be responsible. For instance, if a mechanic replaces a car’s tires with faulty, used patched tires without the driver knowing, the mechanic puts the driver at risk. If the driver subsequently gets into a serious crash linked to a tire blowout, full or partial fault could lie with the mechanic.

Some examples of a mechanic acting negligently include:

  • Incorrectly replacing hoses or belts during a routine maintenance visit.
  • Allowing an untrained technician to work on a vehicle.
  • Failing to ensure all parts are correctly put back after a repair.
  • Knowingly installing auto parts that are dangerous or faulty.
  • Not doing the job as hired or damaging the vehicle.

How Do I Know That a Mechanic’s Negligence Caused My Car Accident?

After an accident, a driver might believe that a mechanic is completely or partly at fault for the crash. Proving negligence can be tricky, however. It is not enough to merely think that a technician or auto shop is negligent. There must be proof that the mechanic or auto shop caused the car accident. Proving that connection can be difficult, especially without the help of a legal professional.

For example, a driver might take a car to a mechanic to have the brakes repaired. After paying the mechanic for replacement brakes and the cost of labor, the car owner could take the vehicle onto the highway for a test run. Once on the highway, the brakes could suddenly fail. The driver might then slam into the back of another car, causing serious injuries. In this scenario, it is critical that the car owner has paperwork that indicates the brakes had just been replaced and should not have failed. Ideally, the mechanic would give the car owner descriptive paperwork outlining their work.

After the crash, another technician might try to look at the damaged vehicle’s brakes to see if there is any indication that they are faulty or improperly installed. Even with documentation, a mechanic’s insurance provider might argue that the driver might not have braked quickly enough, leading to the crash. The burden of proof would be on the car owner. The car owner must clearly show the mechanic contributed to the accident and injuries.

How Does Comparative Negligence Play a Role?

In Delaware, comparative negligence is factored into car accident cases. If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault for an accident, they may be entitled to damages. Even if a mechanic proves that a driver is partially responsible for an accident, they can still be held liable to an extent.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Expenses after a car accident can add up very quickly. Any claims exceeding several thousand dollars may warrant a visit to a lawyer who helps clients recover damages from insurance providers and third parties, like auto technicians, car dealerships, and vehicle repair shops.

Although it is possible for an individual to negotiate with an insurance adjuster or even file a claim in court against a third party, retaining legal counsel can make life less stressful. Statistically, plaintiffs tend to get a much higher settlement offer when they work with a lawyer. Additionally, trying to deal with rapidly approaching deadlines can be difficult for someone recovering from a significant or catastrophic accident. A lawyer can handle all the deadlines and paperwork.

Additionally, putting blame on a mechanic or auto repair shop can be complicated and require specialized assistance. Speaking to a lawyer is beneficial in this situation.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can Help You Determine if a Mechanic’s Negligence Caused Your Collision

Although it is difficult to prove, a mechanic or repair shop may be partially liable for a collision. If you suspect that an accident was caused by a mechanic or auto repair shop, speak with one of our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

School Bus

What are Essential Back-to-School Safety Tips?

Before children return to school, it is important for families to review back-to-school safety tips. All children, including teenagers, need to be reminded of how to stay safe at school. Children and teenagers can be impulsive, easily distracted, and they are more inclined to be thinking of fun rather than safety. Listed below are crucial back-to-school safety tips for all students and parents.

Be Careful Around School Buses

The hours before and after school are the most dangerous times for students. Whether a student is riding a bus, walking, biking, or driving themselves, safety precautions should always be followed.

Bus riders should wait for the bus at least 6 feet away from the edge of the road, and only enter the bus when it has completely stopped and the driver has indicated it is safe. When crossing the road in front of the bus, make sure to keep eye contact with the driver and stay 10 feet ahead of the bus where the driver can see all pedestrians. Parents of very young children should plan to stay at the bus stop. Once on the bus, students should listen to the bus driver’s instructions, and they always know the location of the safety exits.

Walkers and Bicyclists Need to be Aware of Surroundings

Walkers should always use the sidewalk when it is possible. On a street that has no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk facing traffic. When crossing, stop and look left, right, and left one more time to be sure the street is clear. Use crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the roadway. Walkers should stay alert and be aware of their surroundings. Cellphones and loud music can cause distractions and accidents.

Unlike walkers, bikers should ride in the direction of traffic. They should use hand signals so others are aware of their intentions and come to a complete stop at stop signs. Use the crosswalk to walk bikes across the street. Never use a cellphone while riding a bike, and always wear a helmet that fits properly. Put reflectors on bikes, and always wear reflective gear at night.

Avoid Distractions

Teenagers who can drive are at high risk for fatal car accidents. It is best for new motorists to drive alone until they are more experienced because peers can be distracting. Other causes of distracted driving include personal grooming, eating and drinking, and texting. Students should be dressed and ready for school with the cellphone stowed away before they get behind the wheel.

Get Enough Sleep

Drowsy driving is another problem for teenage drivers who stay up late because of after-school activities and homework. Being well-rested is crucial for preventing drowsy driving accidents. Leave plenty of time to get to school instead of rushing out the door because leaving late encourages speeding.

Drive Safely in School Zones

All motorists must adjust to back-to-school traffic and be extra vigilant. Take a minute to walk around the back of the car before reversing out of a parking space or driveway. Drive slowly through residential areas, and approach intersections and crosswalks carefully while scanning the area for children. Additionally, never pass a bus that is stopped with flashing lights because there could be pedestrians on the other side.

Do Not Misuse Playground Equipment

Before school starts, parents should remind children about the safe way to use playground equipment. Some playground safety tips include:

  • Go down the slide feet first.
  • Do not stand on swings or railings.
  • Do not walk in front of moving equipment, such as swings or seesaws.
  • Wait in line without pushing or roughhousing.
  • Children should leave jewelry at home as it can get caught in equipment. Children should also avoid wearing clothing with drawstrings.

After-School Safety is Just as Important

Parents should talk to their children about what to do once they leave school grounds. If possible, they should always stay with a friend or in a group. Parents must warn students to never talk to strangers, and never accept a ride from an unfamiliar person. Parents should teach children that if a stranger does something inappropriate or tries to grab them, they should yell as loud as they can and run away.

For parents who work, new technology, such as smart home locks and smart video doorbells, can improve safety. Each family member has their own code to a smart lock, and an app notifies parents who has arrived at the home. Children with cellphones can also be tracked so that parents can be sure of their location. Security cameras can provide a view of what is going on inside and outside the home until parents or a caregiver arrives.

Make a Back-to-School Safety Checklist

Families should make a safety checklist that can be posted and easily accessible. The safety checklist should include everything the whole family needs once the school year begins. The family should refer to the checklist periodically throughout the year.

Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Accident Victims During the School Season

Before school is in session, families should review back-to-school safety tips. If an accident does happen, families should explore their legal options. If you or your child becomes injured in an accident at school because of another person’s negligence, contact the Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Complete an online form or call 302-427-9500 for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

Burn Injuries

What are Common Workplace Burn Injuries?

Some of the most serious workplace injuries involve employees being burned. The most common types of workplace burns are relatively minor, but others can cause extreme pain, skin and tissue damage, possible amputation, and even death.

Burns can occur in restaurants, factories, construction sites, or even commercial office buildings. Employers of all types have an obligation to protect their workers from being burned at work. When an employee is burned on the job, they should be covered under Workers’ Compensation.

Most people are familiar with burns that result from contact with a hot object, such as a stovetop or a household iron, but there are many different types of burns. In workplaces across many industries, there are a variety of dangerous substances, equipment, and situations that put workers in danger of being seriously hurt. Some common types of workplace burn injuries include:

  • Thermal Burns: Burns that are caused by contact with a burning fire or an extremely hot surface are considered thermal burns. Other sources of thermal burns include hot water, hot oil, or steam. Thermal burns can cause damage when a person touches a hot object, is splashed with hot liquid, or comes into contact with an open flame.
  • Electrical Burns: Electrical currents cause electrical burns. Contact with sources of electricity, such as outlets or electrical machinery, can result in electrical burns that cause damage to the contact site. In addition to these direct contact burns, electricity also presents a danger of being burned through indirect contact, such as arcing. An arc burn can happen when the current passes into a person’s body and causes damage to the tissues at the contact site.
  • Chemical Burns: Acids and other corrosive materials can cause chemical burns. Heavy-duty cleaners or solvents can be hazardous for workers who use these strong chemicals. Chemical burns cause harm to a person’s skin, but the fumes that often accompany these chemicals can also result in burns to the eyes or lungs.

How are Burn Injuries Classified?

Burn injuries are classified according to the severity of the damage to the skin:

  • First-Degree Burns: First-degree burns are surface-level injuries that damage the epidermis, which is the skin’s top layer. These burns do not usually require medical attention.
  • Second-Degree Burns: These burns go a layer deeper, causing damage to the dermis of the skin, which is just below the epidermis. These burns may call for a trip to the emergency room.
  • Third-Degree Burns: Third-degree burns are the most serious. Third-degree burns cause harm to every layer of the skin and reach the tissues beneath. The damage caused by third-degree burns must be treated in a hospital. These serious burn injuries can cause severe pain and lasting damage.

Who is at Risk of Severe Workplace Burn Injuries?

Firefighters, restaurant workers, construction crews, car mechanics, and factory personnel are at high risk of suffering from a burn injury at work. Even employees whose jobs do not involve working directly with heat sources or dangerous chemicals can still be burned if a fire breaks out in the office, a damaged outlet creates an electrocution hazard, or a staff coffee machine spews hot liquid.

What Actions Should be Taken in the Workplace to Prevent Burn Injuries?

Employers should implement safety protocols to keep their employees safe from the threat of burns in the workplace. Each industry and individual workplace will need to address its specific risks, but some recommendations include:

  • Safety Protocols: Employers should establish a set of safety protocols that directly address the specific dangers their workers face on the job. The safety practices that keep a restaurant worker from getting burned on a hot stove will not keep a firefighter safe from a room full of open flames. Employers should assess the burn hazards present on the jobsite and come up with plans for how workers can be protected.
  • Training: The most important factor that influences the success of a burn safety plan is its implementation. Among workers, this can only be achieved if the staff is fully trained and constantly aware of possible burn dangers. Training is necessary, and not just when a worker first starts the job, training should be ongoing.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers should provide all necessary PPE to shield workers from dangerous burns. Gloves and other wearable protections from heat and dangerous substances offer a layer of defense against burns for workers handling hot equipment or liquids. Certain tools, such as lifts or dollies, can allow workers to avoid any manual contact, while splatter shields and other guards can prevent splash injuries.
  • Safety Assessments: It is vital for employers to maintain vigilance to prevent workplace burns. Safety inspections should be performed on a regular basis to identify burn hazards, including physical dangers and an assessment of safety protocols.

Milford Work Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Assist Employees Suffering From Occupational Burn Injuries

If you were severely burned at work, you might be able to collect benefits from your employer’s Workers’ Compensation program. If you have been denied benefits or you are experiencing other problems, the Milford work injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help protect your rights. Workplace burn injuries can be extremely severe and debilitating, and we can help you with your case. Call us at 302-422-6705 or complete our online form for a free consultation and more information. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

memorial day

How can Motorists Stay Safe on Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor fallen heroes. It is also a long holiday weekend that is looked upon as the kick-off to summer. Approximately 39.3 million Americans will travel over 50 miles during the Memorial Day weekend, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). With so many more vehicles on the roads, more car accidents occur on Memorial Day weekend than any other holiday weekend of the year.

Last year, the National Safety Council (NSC) predicated that 366 deaths would occur over Memorial Day weekend. It was also estimated that 41,800 injuries would require medical attention that same year. This year, it is projected that traffic will be even worse because many people are wanting to travel due to less strict Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

Part of why these accidents and injuries happen is because there is alcohol at holiday events. While driving under the influence is listed as a cause in nearly one-third of all deadly car accidents, the NSC estimates that drunk driving is responsible for 37 percent of fatal car crashes during Memorial Day weekend.

Since many collisions will likely happen over the holiday weekend, drivers should know the common causes of Memorial Day weekend car accidents and how to prevent them. Listed below are some helpful safety tips for motorists.

Maintain a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles

It is vital to remember that more drivers on the road means more mistakes are likely to happen, so this is a weekend where it has to be anticipated there will be more motorists doing unpredictable actions. Keeping plenty of distance from other cars is helpful.

According to the national car window repair service, Safelite AutoGlass, drivers need to keep about 16 car lengths from the car in front of them at highway speeds around 55 miles per hour to avoid collision if that car suddenly hits the brakes. Many drivers know that this distance is not commonly found between cars on any given day, much less highway traffic during Memorial Day weekend. However, this distance will provide enough time to brake and reduce speed to avoid a collision.

Avoid Drowsy Driving

Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents and can be as dangerous as drunk driving. In the excitement of getting ready for a weekend adventure, travelers may return from work or school on Friday and spend the night packing and driving to get an early start on the holiday weekend. This can create a driver with the same focus and reaction times as a drunk driver, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

After 20 hours of being awake, drowsy drivers are equitable to having a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) level, which is the current legal limit in most states. After 24 hours of being awake, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.1 percent, which means even slower reaction times and focus. Travelers should plan to leave for their trip after a good night of rest.

Do Not Drink and Drive

Drinking impairs judgement, reaction times, and focus. Since it is common to have drinks at night, that is also the most likely time for drunk driving accidents. If a driver consumes a few alcoholic drinks, it is best for them to call a cab or a rideshare service and come back for the car in the morning. It can be helpful to have a plan in place before going out to an event where alcohol will be served.

Maintain Speed Limits

Like maintaining a safe distance from other cars, maintaining reasonable speed and observing the speed limits helps drivers avoid collisions. Motorists should remember that a speed-related collision leads to more severe injuries. Also, fatalities are more likely to happen in speed-related car accidents.

Do Not Overpack the Car

A holiday weekend vacation might mean that children are squeezed in with suitcases and camping gear. However, drivers need to maintain a clear line of sight so that they can see the side and rear-view mirrors. In addition, bicycles, canoes, luggage racks, and other cargo items need to be secure in case stop-and-go traffic or huge potholes cause the cargo to move around.

Plan the Route

Figuring out the most direct route to take is important, and drivers should have a plan ahead of time. If a driver waits until the last minute to figure out the route, they might rush to get to their destination. Motorists may speed to stay on track of time, so drivers should figure out their plans a couple days prior.

Prepare the Car

Making sure the gas tank is full is just one step on the list of car preparations for a road trip. Check tire air pressure, oil levels, and keep emergency essentials, such as a first aid kit, water bottles, flashlights, and a blanket in the trunk.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Fight on Behalf of Injured Victims After Holiday Car Accidents

Sometimes, drivers take all the recommended precautions during a holiday weekend and still find themselves victims of a car crash. The Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can advise you on the best steps to take after a collision. Contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500 for a free consultation and more information about your car accident case. Located in Bear, Wilmington, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.