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Stamford CT Personal Injury Law Blog

Nationwide, a yearly concern: protecting seasonal workers

Are you searching for an indicator of how busy Black Friday and the remainder of the upcoming holiday season will be for retail activity in Connecticut and nationally?

Here’s some relevant input from an international outplacement consulting firm: According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., the approximately 786,000 seasonal hirings last year in the retail industry will be outpaced significantly this winter season.

That means many things, of course, with myriad ancillary effects of a salutary nature being felt in many industries when consumers are confident and employers add to payrolls.

Distracted driving: Is this going to be a permanent scourge?

The federal government has been dangling a carrot in front of states in the form of money earmarked for distracted driving campaigns, but no state appears hungry enough to take a bite.

Except for Connecticut, that is. Connecticut is the only state in the country that has qualified for two years running to receive federal funding grants that the national government is awarding for the purpose of combating dangerous driving behaviors.

The U.S. Congress has set the bar high for states seeking to make a claim on government largesse, with federal administrators being sufficiently impressed thus far only with Connecticut’s traffic safety efforts.

Sen. Blumenthal calls for criminal probe of air bag maker

For obvious reasons, air bags are supposed to deploy in every instance in a safe and predictable manner that protects drivers and passengers in motor vehicle accidents. Air bags are manufactured according to specifications arrived at after rigorous testing. Regulators examine them for quality assurances, with consumers ultimately having a good-faith expectation that the products work as advertised.

Sometimes they don’t.

And when they don’t, outcomes can be flatly tragic. That is clearly apparent in a review of the sad saga relating to faulty air bags manufactured by the Japan-based supplier Takata. Deaths have been reported from shrapnel expelled during bag deployment that has struck motorists and passengers.

With Thanksgiving nearly here, it's time to revisit some safe driving tips

It may seem hard to believe, but the Thanksgiving holiday is now less than two weeks away. That means people are now busy finalizing their travel plans and looking for ways to ensure all of their work is finished so that they can get a head start on the roads, which are going to be very busy this year thanks the extra long weekend and the now low price of gasoline.

Before getting behind the wheel, however, drivers need to be aware that the Thanksgiving holiday is a notoriously dangerous time of the year to be navigating the roads and highways not just here in Connecticut, but across the nation.

Indeed, the National Safety Council, the nonprofit organization "with the mission to save lives … through leadership, research, education and advocacy," recently released its projections for car accident injuries and fatalities over the Thanksgiving 2014 holiday, and they are truly eye-opening.

Are videophones safer than standard cellphones for drivers?

While everyone knows just how dangerous distracted driving can be, a recently published study serves to shed even more light on why it's so important for motorists to keep their cellphones off and out of reach.

As part of the study, researchers at the University of Alberta divided 48 people into pairs and had them complete a challenging 12-mile course -- complete with exits, rapid braking, merging traffic and other motorists -- on a driving simulator and under one of four scenarios.

In the first scenario, the driver was alone and quiet in the simulator, while in the second scenario the driver was traveling with a partner with whom they conversed. For the third scenario, the driver was provided with a standard hands-free cellphone, which they used to converse with their partner.

In the fourth scenario, however, the driver was provided with a videophone system equipped with a one-way dash-mounted camera that enabled them to converse with their partner, while also providing the partner with a real-time view of both the driver and the road ahead.

Drunk driving in Connecticut: It'll cost you

Do you wince every month when it comes time to pay your auto insurance premium? Even some problem-free motorists with immaculate long-term driving records do.

As unfairly high as you may deem your monthly outlay to be, though, it’s a fair bet that is does not even remotely approach the exactions placed upon drivers convicted of drunk driving in Connecticut.

A recent article on drunk driving-related costs references the case of one twice-convicted motorist in the state. She was tapped for annual payments of $10,000 following her first DUI conviction. Her annual premiums were jacked up to $1,000 each month following her second conviction.

NCAA now front and center in sports injury discussion, litigation

It's eminently clear that contact sports such as football and hockey come with attendant physical risks for players, with a host of head-injury stories in recent years pointing to concussions as an especially acute concern.

How acute? The national Institute of Medicine states that about 3.8 million concussions were suffered last year by sports and recreational enthusiasts across the country. That number has propelled head trauma to the front pages of national media stories and highlighted it as a major public health concern.

Concussions and football have been tied together in especially close fashion and in a high-profile manner. Many of our readers in Connecticut and elsewhere likely know to some degree the salient facts and material details relating to the massive class-action lawsuit brought by many thousands of retired pro players against the NFL. That litigation staggers on, with a settlement receiving tentative approval this past summer calling for uncapped liability to compensate players for damage suffered from head blows.

Bike safety study findings: more riders, more fatalities

Do you seek confirmation to support your belief that you’re seeing more bicyclists on Connecticut’s roads and sidewalks than you used to see in bygone years?

OK, myriad sources stand ready to buttress that assumption, including the Unites States Census Bureau. According to that government entity, the number of bicycling commuters has spiked by a whopping 62 percent nationally since 2000.

With more bicyclists comes, unsurprisingly and tragically, an uptick in accidents, many of them fatal. A safety report authored by the Governors Highway Safety Association states that deaths in bicycle accidents rose by about 16 percent in the United States between 2010 and 2012.

CDC: High crash-related numbers are not inevitable

Although some statistics are a bit less than convincing regarding the seriousness of subject matter they seek to convey, others seem to get their point across with no trouble at all.

Here’s an example from the latter camp, as relates to motor vehicle accidents: According to a safety report authored by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitals across the United States host crash injury victims to the collective tune of about one million days each year.

That little parcel of information immediately and quite clearly underscores the magnitude of passenger car and truck accidents nationally.

Would a NHTSA leadership change improve auto safety?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal agency most directly tasked with ensuring that American travelers remain safe while navigating the nation’s roadways. In recent years, this agency has accomplished a number of important safety goals aimed at making vehicles, roads and motorists safer. Perhaps most notably, the NHTSA made significant efforts to stem the tide of distracted driving behaviors when the agency was led by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

However, the agency has become the subject of harsh criticism and intense scrutiny since shortly after LaHood left his post in 2013. Most recently, Congress, safety organizations and the media have questioned the agency’s effectiveness at responding to certain defect-related safety threats. “How is it,” many have asked, “could the NHTSA not have known about and acted upon the ignition switch defect that has affected many models manufactured by General Motors for a full decade?” This is a reasonable and proper question.

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