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Category Archives: Personal Injury


preparing car

How Can I Prepare My Car for Snow?

When winter weather hits, driving may be unavoidable. While it is advisable to stay off the roads when there is an approaching winter storm, there are some ways drivers can reduce their risk of a car accident.

Additionally, preparing for winter driving should start long before the snow begins. Drivers should get ready for the cold weather well in advance by having their car checked, stocking it with emergency essentials, and reviewing some driving tips to stay safe.

Vehicle Maintenance

Drivers should make sure to have their cars checked out in anticipation of the cold temperatures and slipper weather conditions. The combination of wet conditions and the temperature dips causes dangerously slippery roads.

Among other basic safety checks, your pre-winter vehicle assessment should include examining the following:

  • Tire tread: Tires that are worn or damaged do not offer good traction, leaving drivers and other road users at risk. The presence of ice or snow on the roads significantly increases the risk. Have a professional take a look at your tires before the winter begins. Worn tires should be replaced.
  • Tire pressure: As the temperature gets colder, tire pressure is affected. The cold causes the air to contract, leading to the need for car owners to add air to their tires to maintain adequate tire pressure. Without enough air pressure in your tires, you may experience issues with road grip and driver control.
  • Battery: A drained or corroded battery can cause trouble for you during the winter. The cold can cause stress to the battery. If it gives out and leaves you stranded, that could be a big problem in dangerously low temperatures. It is best to get your battery checked to ensure it has the power it needs to get through the season.
  • Fluids: Your car’s fluids should be checked throughout the year, but winter is an especially important time to ensure that fluids are topped off or replaced. Antifreeze keeps your car’s engine from freezing, but it is also important to make sure your oil is changed and your windshield wiper fluid is full.

Emergency Kit

Every driver should have a few items in their car at all times, including a flashlight, road flares, and a small collection of basic tools. You should also bring drinking water, snacks, and a charged cellphone on every trip in case you breakdown or become involved in an accident that leaves you stranded.

In winter, however, there are a few specific items that you should consider adding to your emergency supplies. Having a blanket might come in handy if you are stuck on the side of the road in winter. An ice scraper and a snow shovel should also be kept in your trunk to help deal with the elements. Finally, a pair of warm gloves and a hat are nice to have in a cold-weather emergency.

Safe Winter Driving Tips

Some important winter driving tips include:

  • Allow extra travel time. Dangerous winter road conditions may involve slippery surfaces or poor visibility that call for drivers to inch along in order to maintain safety. Drivers delayed by weather must not lose sight of safety.
  • Remove all snow and ice. Use an ice scraper to clear all windows and mirrors to establish safe visibility from the driver’s seat. Be sure to remove accumulated snow from the car to keep it from sliding off as you drive and becoming a threat to other road users.
  • Be careful accelerating and decelerating. On wet or icy winter roads, increasing speed too suddenly can cause you to lose control of your car, and slamming your brakes can cause spinouts. Instead, ease into your stops and starts if possible, and avoid abrupt use of either the gas pedal or the brake.
  • Beware of black ice. Black ice is ice that is barely detectible because it blends in with the asphalt. Drivers must be aware of the possibility of black ice at all times.

What if I Get Stuck in a Snowstorm?

If you find yourself stuck in a snowstorm, it is best to pull over and wait it out. Trying to drive through a storm puts you and others in danger. If you must drive in order to deal with an emergency or to get somewhere safe, drive slowly, and use your headlights and emergency blinkers to make yourself visible to others.

When it comes to icy roads, you should drive slowly, and if you encounter a patch of ice, do not slam on your brakes. Instead, turn your wheel in the direction your car is sliding until you regain control.

If your car becomes stuck in the snow, you may be able to dig your car out with a shovel, but you should take breaks so you do not exhaust yourself. Using road salt may help melt any ice or provide traction for your tires. Spinning your wheels may work against you if it causes the car to dig itself deeper. If you must rest or take refuge in the running car, make sure the tail pipe is free of obstruction to avoid carbon monoxide exhaust from backing up into the car.

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

It is important to prepare your car for cold weather ahead of time, but some motorists will not take necessary precautions. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you pursue legal action. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. From our offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

driver fatigue

How Does Driver Fatigue Increase the Risk of a Car Accident?

Some of the most serious car accidents are entirely preventable. While drunk driving and distracted driving are among the most common examples of unsafe driving behaviors that are known to cause car accidents, drowsy driving is just as dangerous. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, motorists who only get between five and six hours of sleep in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to get into a car accident. The risk increases substantially with each hour of lost sleep.

Extreme drowsiness can cause motorists to fall asleep at the wheel. However, drowsy driving is dangerous under any circumstance, even if you do not actually fall asleep while driving. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy driving actually has a similar impact on the body as alcohol. For example, drowsy motorists have a slower reaction time, they are less aware of hazards, and they are less able to keep their attention focused on the road. In addition, when a motorist drives after being awake for 18 consecutive hours or more, it has the same impact on the body as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. Being awake for 24 hours or more is comparable to having a BAC of 0.10 percent.

What Are the Main Causes of Drowsy Driving?

There are a number of factors that cause drowsiness. The following are some of the most common causes of drowsy driving:

  • Lack of sleep: This is the leading cause of drowsiness during the daytime hours. It is recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. However, a large percentage of adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis.
  • Sleep disorders: One of the most common sleep disorders that can cause drowsy driving is obstructive sleep apnea. Conditions like this cause the person’s sleep to be restricted, interrupted, and less restorative. When undiagnosed or untreated, sleep disorders can cause extreme daytime drowsiness.
  • Medications: There are a wide range of medications that can cause drowsiness, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, sleep aids, and dietary supplements. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist when taking any medication to confirm whether it is known to cause drowsiness.
  • Alcohol: In addition to causing impaired coordination, a slower reaction time, and impacting your ability to make smart decisions, alcohol also causes drowsiness.
  • Shift work: If you work irregular hours, it can be difficult to get the recommended hours of sleep, particularly if you work night shifts. This can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. When the sleep cycle is disrupted on a regular basis, it can lead to extreme fatigue.

What Are the Signs of Fatigue?

One of the reasons that drowsy driving is so dangerous is that the signs of fatigue often appear gradually. However, just because you are not falling asleep at the wheel does not mean that you are not suffering from fatigue. Even mild signs of drowsiness can increase the risk of a serious drowsy driving accident. Common signs of driver fatigue include:

  • Frequent yawning.
  • Tired, droopy eyes.
  • Difficulty maintaining a proper speed.
  • Drifting into other lanes or hitting the rumble strips on the road.
  • Dozing off.
  • Following other vehicles too closely.
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles that you drove.
  • Missing your exit.

Who Is Most Likely to Drive While Drowsy?

Drowsy driving is common because it is not generally considered as serious as drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, and other unsafe driving behaviors. The following motorists are more likely to drive while drowsy:

  • Motorists who do not get the recommended hours of sleep per night.
  • Commercial truck drivers.
  • Shift workers.
  • Motorists who have untreated sleep disorders.
  • Driver who take medication that causes drowsiness.
  • Male drivers.
  • Drivers between 16 and 24 years old.

How Can I Avoid a Drowsy Driving Accident?

Getting enough sleep on a daily basis is important, not only for your overall health, but to ensure that you are able to maintain control of your car and avoid getting into a serious accident. The following are proactive steps you can take to get enough sleep and reduce the risk of a drowsy driving car accident:

  • Get enough sleep. Adults generally need at least seven hours of sleep per day, and adolescents require eight or more hours of sleep.
  • Develop good sleeping habits. Go to bed at roughly the same time each night.
  • Recognize the signs of drowsiness and avoid driving.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take medications that cause drowsiness. Mixing alcohol with medications can intensify feelings of drowsiness.
  • Talk to your doctor if you think you might have a sleep disorder. Symptoms of sleep apnea may include feeling sleepy during the day and snoring at night.
  • Avoid driving at night if at all possible.
  • If you start to feel fatigued while driving, pull over to a safe spot and rest or get some fresh air.
  • If you are driving a long distance, share the driving responsibilities if there is another licensed driver in the car. Take turns driving every couple of hours.
  • Coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages are a quick fix, but keep in mind that it takes approximately 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter the bloodstream.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Clients Injured in Drowsy Driving Car Accidents

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident involving a drowsy driver, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer. Our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will investigate the details of your case. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford

car headlights

Do Higher Quality Headlights Prevent Car Accidents?

Nighttime driving is challenging for many reasons, including low visibility. If a driver cannot see well, the chance of a car accident is much higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of all car accident fatalities in the United States take place at night. The percentage of fatalities among cyclists and pedestrians is even higher.

Headlights are a vital part of all vehicles, brightening the road so that drivers can see more safely at night. Without them, driving would be almost impossible, especially in rural areas. However, does the quality of a car’s headlights make a difference?

In 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) added headlights to its safety ratings. They test how well headlights illuminate certain distances of the road in a car traveling 40 to 50 miles per hour, and they give them a rating of good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Out of 80 headlight systems tested that year, only one received a good rating.

The IIHS then looked at police reports for 44,000 single-car nighttime accidents and found that cars equipped with the headlights they rated as good had 19 percent less crashes per mile than the poor group; the acceptable headlights had 15 percent less, and marginal 10 percent less.

The study and subsequent ratings have brought about good results in the auto industry. As of 2021, 29 percent of this year’s models received the top rating. Additionally, the IIHS reports that many automakers stopped offering better headlights as an upgrade customers could add, instead, they started outfitting vehicles with IIHS-rated good or acceptable headlights as standard.

Should I Improve My Headlights?

In vehicle maintenance, the headlights are often overlooked. The condition of your vehicle’s headlights may make the difference between safe driving and causing an accident. Since half of all car crashes happen at night, driving with dim, hazy, broken, and burnt-out headlights dramatically increase your risk of causing an accident. Over time, the plastic headlight casings can become scratched, cloudy, and dirty due to wear and tear and weather, and this can reduce the distance your headlights reach. In this condition, the lights are only functioning at 20 percent, and the darker the road and the higher your speed, the more deadly the accident.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) suggests regular maintenance checks of your headlights and replace bulbs as needed to keep your headlights functioning at 100 percent. Some headlight and bulb options to consider include:

  • Upgrade the headlights. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are the brightest bulbs on the market, 500 percent over halogen, and last many years longer. LED bulbs offer a true white light versus the yellow tint of halogens, which most cars were fitted with over the last couple of decades. There are available conversion kits on the market that allow you to replace your stock halogen bulbs with LED bulbs. Another alternative to halogen are high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, which are more than three times brighter. Conversion kits are available for these bulbs as well.
  • Replace headlights and fog lights. If you prefer, depending on the model of your vehicle, you can retrofit the headlights and fog lights with LED or HID headlight assembly, which can improve the lighting by up to 500 percent. For this type of fix, you will want your mechanic to install the new assembly.
  • Clean the headlights. Using a headlight restoration kit can improve visibility dramatically. Over time, wear and tear, scratches, and moisture on headlight coverings can make the lights appear hazy, which limits your visibility. Restoring your vehicle’s lights will noticeably improve your night vision, and upgrading to LED or HID bulbs at the same time will provide even more.
  • Purchase premium halogen bulbs. If you prefer not to convert your headlights or replace the assembly entirely, you can still improve your lights by upgrading the halogen bulbs. Premium halogen lightbulbs are inexpensive and simple to install and will improve your nighttime visibility by up to 50 percent.

Keep in mind that car manufacturers must meet federal regulations on headlights, but those that meet the regulations may perform differently. In order to meet the federal regulations, the light intensity of headlights is measured at different angles from the center. Visibility and glare are measured, but federal standards allow a wide range of intensities and angles.

Headlights also differ from one vehicle model to another. Regulations permit a wide range of height and width and do not specify where they should be aimed, so different cars with the same headlights may have a significant difference in the distance their lights reach.

What if I Have Been Involved in a Nighttime Accident?

Low visibility and darkness at night can impact your ability to take evasive measures to avoid a crash. You may not realize a potential crash incident as easily at night as you would during the day.

If the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle with poor headlights, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to compensate for the damage to your car and medical expenses for your injuries. You will want to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can work on your behalf to investigate the collision and prove your case.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Assist Can Help You After a Nighttime Collision

If you were injured in a nighttime car crash by a negligent motorist, our experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow are here to advocate for you. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

child concussion

What if My Child Suffered a Concussion in a Car Accident?

The trauma of experiencing a car accident can be compounded by injuries. For children, this often means concussions. When your child is hurt, trauma is amplified due to seeing the pain of your child as well as the financial strain of missing work to care for your child. If your child suffered a concussion as the result of a car accident, they need to see a medical professional immediately for treatment. You should also contact an experienced lawyer to understand you and your child’s rights.

Concussion Is a Form of a Traumatic Brain Injury

A direct hard blow or bump to the head can jolt the brain, causing damage to the blood vessels, nerves, or bruising. This jolt affects the brain’s ability to function temporarily. Concussions often happen in children because their heads are large in comparison to the rest of their body, and because in very young children, the skull is not yet fully developed into a hard protective shell.

What Are the Causes of Accident-Related Concussions?

Every year, thousands of children are seen in emergency rooms for concussions, many of which are related to car accidents. The impact of a front-end or rear-end collision can be powerful enough to cause real damage to the undeveloped body of a child. Common causes of accident-related concussions in children include:

  • Defective child seats. Small children should always ride in the back of the vehicle in an appropriate child seat. An ill-fitting or defective car seat could result in the child’s head being left unprotected in the event of a crash.
  • Faulty seat belts. Child seats are restrained with the car’s existing seat belt system. If it is defective, it could release the child seat on impact.
  • Striking the head on a hard surface in the car. In a car accident, the impact can cause the occupants to be flung forward or backwards. A child’s head could hit something hard, or a loose flying object can strike the head.
  • Violent shaking of the head. In this case, the head does not strike a hard surface, but the impact of the accident causes the child’s brain to strike the skull inside, causing a concussion.
  • Air bags. Air bags are meant to provide additional protection to passengers, but they can also cause injuries, including concussions.

How Do I Know if My Child Got a Concussion From a Car Accident?

There are many symptoms of a concussion, and every child will respond differently to a head injury. However, the most common symptoms of concussions include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating

It is important to know that symptoms often appear between 24 and 72 hours after an accident. Symptoms of a concussion can easily be mistaken for other illnesses or not identified as the result of a head injury. This is why it is crucial to see a doctor after a car accident, even if you feel that your child is okay.

A professional may recognize the signs of concussion that may not be readily apparent to a lay person. With small children, there is the added problem that they may have trouble describing any physical and cognitive symptoms they are experiencing.

Symptoms of a severe concussion include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Continued vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness or unresponsiveness
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion and talking nonsense
  • Memory loss

A child with any of these symptoms should be taken immediately to the emergency room.

How Are Concussions Treated?

A child who has suffered a concussion must rest to give the brain a chance to recover from the impact. While basic activities are fine, more physical activities, like sports, should be restricted until the symptoms subside and the concussion is healed. The child should also avoid mental activities that stress the brain, including reading, doing homework, watching television, playing video games, using a computer, tablet, or other devices. Bright lights and loud noises can also aggravate symptoms.

Activities can be resumed as the child’s condition improves. Recovery should be monitored by a pediatrician to check on brain function, memory, and behavior. You can also ask your child’s teachers or caregivers to give feedback on any changes they observe.

When someone is injured in a car accident that happened because of the negligence of another party, they have a right to pursue compensation for their injuries. Since a child is a minor, the parents are allowed to file a personal injury claim and negotiate a settlement on behalf of the child.

Compensation can include damages for injuries, pain and suffering, and for the expenses incurred by the parents, such as medical bills and wages lost related to caring for the child’s injuries. For injuries that require long-term care, damages for future medical bills should also be taken into account.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Fight for Children Injured by Negligent Drivers

Our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow know there is nothing more stressful for a parent than seeing your child injured because of someone else’s negligence. If your child has a severe injury because of a car accident, we can help. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

top lawyers 2021

Joseph Rhoades and Stephen Morrow Receive Top Lawyer Acknowledgment

Rhoades & Morrow is pleased to announce that Joseph J. Rhoades, Esq. and Stephen T. Morrow, Esq. were named on the Top Lawyers 2021 list in Delaware Today Magazine. The publication honors lawyers from the state in multiple practice areas. Joseph and Stephen were honored for their work in personal injury.

Lawyers named to Delaware Today’s 2021 Top Lawyers list are nominated by their fellow lawyers, who also practice law in Delaware. The only individuals, who may vote in this process, are lawyers who practice law in Delaware. Clients, paralegals, and other legal professionals are not permitted to vote, which means that lawyers who make this list have been recognized by their colleagues. The magazine publishes the list on an annual basis. To find more information regarding Joe and Steve’s selection as “2021 Top Lawyers” look for the November 2021 edition of Delaware Today.

Joe earned his Juris Doctor from Widener University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude. Since then, he has been licensed to practice law in Delaware, along with the U.S. Federal Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of several organizations, including the American State Bar Association, the Delaware State Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the National Crime Victim Bar Association, the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group, and the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association, where he served as a past president.

Steve received his Juris Doctor from the New England Law in Boston, Massachusetts where he graduated cum laude. He is past president of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association (“DTLA”) and continues to serve on DTLA’s Board of Governors where he is a co-chair of DTLA’s Legislative Committee as well as a member of DTLA’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. Steve is also a member of the American Association for Justice (“AAJ”) and previously served on AAJ’s Council of Presidents. In addition, he is a member of the Delaware State Bar Association (“DSBA”) and previously served as the Chair of the DSBA Workers’ Compensation Section. Currently, he is a member of the DSBA Workers’ Compensation Section Rules Committee and is a frequent presenter at DSBA seminars, which address workers’ compensation topics. Steve also offers pro bono services through the State of Delaware Office of the Child Advocate where he serves as a child attorney for dependent, neglected, and abused children in Delaware.

Those who have been hurt in an accident or injured because of the negligence of another party can seek help from the Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Those interested can call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, the firm serves clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford, Delaware.

distracted drivers

What Are the Biggest Distractions for Drivers?

Distracted driving is a significant cause of car accidents and injuries in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that distracted driving caused 3,142 fatalities in 2019, which represents a large portion of the overall driving fatalities for that year. The NHTSA also reports that distracted driving caused about 424,000 injuries to people in motor vehicle crashes in 2019.

Drivers who lack focus and allow their mind to wander while on the road account for many distracted driving accidents. Fatigue, drowsiness, or daydreaming is enough to cause your attention to lapse long enough to make an error while driving. If your eyes wander off the road for any reason, you are driving while distracted.

Although daydreaming is a top cause of distracted driving accidents, texting and driving is the number one cause. Out of all cellphone tasks, texting is the most dangerous.

Some other common causes for distracted driving car accidents include:

  • Cellphone use.
  • Looking at something located outside of the vehicle.
  • Being distracted by a passenger.
  • Reaching for something that you brought into the vehicle.
  • Eating or drinking beverages while driving.
  • Adjusting the audio, heater, or air conditioning.

Some lesser-known causes for distracted driving accidents include:

  • Using vehicle devices or controls, like adjusting outside mirrors or buckling your seat belt.
  • Lighting a cigarette.
  • Being distracted by pets.

Teenagers Are Especially Vulnerable to Distracted Driving

Typically, the younger the driver, the more likely that driver will engage in distracted driving. According to the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA, in 2018, 202 teenagers were killed in distracted driving accidents. There are many reasons why teenagers are prone to distracted driving.

Teenagers typically take longer to process hazardous road conditions and how to react properly in emergencies. Inexperienced drivers improve over time as they gain more experience with the rules of the road. Parents of teenage drivers should set a good example while driving by not using their cellphone or engaging in other unlawful driving behaviors.

Another issue that greatly affects teenage drivers is the number of passengers that they carry. When a teenage driver has more than one passenger of the same age in the car, that teenager is three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident. That is because the potential distractions are greater when multiple young people are in a vehicle with no parental supervision.

Teenage drivers typically engage in distracted driving far more than their older counterparts. Teenagers often use their cellphone, talk to friends, eat, adjust the radio, and even apply makeup while looking into a mirror instead of paying attention to the road. Parents can help their teenage drivers by strictly enforcing that they do not drive with more than one other teenage passenger.

States Regulate Cellphone Use

Since distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in the United States, especially among young drivers and their passengers, most states strictly regulate cellphone use by drivers.

In Delaware, texting and driving became illegal in 2011. The state banned the use of hand-held phones and other mobile and electronic devices while driving, including laptops and games. Delaware only allows the use of hands-free devices while driving. You also cannot read, write, send text messages, email, or use the internet while driving in the state.

What are the Penalties for Cellphone Use in Delaware?

Anyone caught driving while using a hand-held cellphone or other device is subject to a $100 fine with the first offense. Subsequent offenses could net a fine between $200 and $300.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 24 states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. The offense is subject to primary enforcement, and you can be pulled over and given a ticket.

Texting and driving is banned in 48 states and the District of Columbia, and 36 states have phone use bans that specifically target young drivers.

While most states have laws designed to thwart distracted driving, it still occurs, and it is a rising concern among motorists of all ages. Many drivers are becoming more worried about the widespread use of mobile technology in vehicles.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Seek Justice for Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving is a significant cause of accidents, injuries, and deaths in the United States. Our experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you if you were injured by a negligent, distracted driver. We know how distracted driving accidents can be devastating, and we can protect your rights. For more information and to schedule a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 302-427-9500 today. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and 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.

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.

2021 Super Lawyers

Joe Rhoades Selected to 2021 Super Lawyers List

Joseph J. Rhoades, Esq., founder of Rhoades & Morrow, has been chosen to this year’s Delaware Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers highlights lawyers throughout the country from over 70 practice areas. Those who are peer-nominated undergo a multi-phase process that assesses their professional work and firm standing, as well as awards, evaluations, and peer reviews. This is his first year being selected to Super Lawyers. Joseph Rhoades 2021 Super Lawyers

Joe earned his Juris Doctor from Widener University Delaware Law School and is admitted to practice in the State of Delaware, the U.S. Supreme Court, and other U.S. federal courts. He focuses on representing injured individuals in personal injury and worker injury claims. He is a member of the American and Delaware State Bar Associations, the American Association for Justice, the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association, the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and the American Board of Trial Advocates.  He is a Past President of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association.  He is a former member of the State of Delaware Workers’ Compensation Health Care Advisory Panel, serving as the Panel’s Chair, as well the State of Delaware Workers’ Compensation Task Force.  He is the Injured Workers’ Representative on the State of Delaware Workers’ Compensation Oversight Panel and is currently serving as the Panel’s Chair.  He is also the Vice Chair of the Delaware Superior Court Civil Rules Committee.

Aside from being selected to Super Lawyers, Joseph has received prestigious awards, such as a 10 Year Volunteer Service award for the Office of the Child Advocate in Delaware, an Outstanding Service Award from the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association and a Delaware State Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section Distinguished Service Award. He has also been previously named a Top Lawyer by Delaware Today Magazine.

For help with a legal matter, the legal team at Rhoades & Morrow can help. Call 302-427-9500 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, the firm serves clients throughout the state.