Join us for Safe and Sound Saturday on April 18 at the Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield!

safeandsound.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we'd like to invite you to join us tomorrow, April 18, at Safe and Sound Saturday! The event, hosted by KY3 and KSPR, will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex Center. Be sure to stop by and say hello to our team: we'll be handing out children's bicycle helmets as part of our safety helmet program, which has been going strong for nearly two decades, providing thousands of helmets to children statewide. In fact, we have a special prize for the family of the child who receives our 30,000th helmet: a Branson vacation giveaway! The Minions will also be there to join in the fun.

Our team is proud to support Safe and Sound Saturday, which provides a chance for families to learn all about different kinds of safety, whether at home, at play or on the road. Since spring is nearly here, we think it's a good time to highlight the importance of safe bicycling and the importance of helmet use. Below, we share some important facts and information about bicycle helmet safety.

Facts about auto accidents involving bicycles:

• The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that approximately 2% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities are bicyclists - and, "in a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head." In 2013, 471 cyclists were killed nationwide in collisions involving motor vehicles.

• Annually, about 300,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries, according to Of that number, at least 10,000 suffer injuries that require hospitalization.

• With warm weather arriving - and summer just around the corner - it's especially important to be vigilant about bicycle safety. During the summer months, child bicycling fatalities increase 45% above the monthly average throughout the rest of the year.

• About 63% of cyclists who were fatally injured in 2013 were not wearing helmets. Bicycle helmet use has been proven to reduce head injury risks by as much as 85 to 88%.

• Safety helmets are essential, wherever you or your children are cycling: in fact, about one-half of all bicycle crashes happen in driveways or on sidewalks.

Continue reading "Join us for Safe and Sound Saturday on April 18 at the Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield!" »

Involved in a Missouri auto accident? Tips for injury victims

car-crash-1432754-m.jpgBeing involved in an auto accident can be a traumatic experience, both physically and mentally. In fact, traffic accidents are a leading cause of cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the American Family Physician. In fact, many crash victims - even those who don't suffer from PTSD - report experiencing the following emotions following a collision:

• Shock (trouble believing it really happened)
• Anger
• Nervousness, uneasiness, and/or fear
• Guilt

Doctors agree: it's absolutely normal to deal with emotional stress after an auto accident. And of course, when car accident victims suffer serious physical injuries along with emotional stress, they also endure physical pain - and they often have numerous practical worries. We hear these kinds of questions all the time:

• What if I can't return to work because of my injuries?
• How will I pay my bills - not to mention my medical expenses?
• Should I accept a settlement from the insurance company?

We know first-hand how overwhelming a crash can be. For that reason, we want to recommend a few tips to help you be prepared, just in case the worst happens. No one wants to be involved in an accident, but the auto insurance industry data reveals that, on average, drivers file a crash related claim at least every 18 years: odds are, you'll be involved in some kind of collision at least once in your life. Being prepared can help you ensure your rights - and your family - are protected.

Being prepared for an auto accident: A few basic safety tips

1. Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Here are a few items you might consider including:

• All car insurance and medical insurance policy information
• Paper and pen/pencil (to record/exchange insurance information; to make notes)
• Medical information (to make sure emergency responders know if you have an existing medical condition, if you take medication regularly, or if you have allergies)
• Emergency contact information (including local police)
• Basic first aid supplies
• Basic tools (i.e. jumper cables, Swiss army knife, flashlight, etc.)
• A disposable camera (if your phone is not equipped with a good camera)

2. Know what to do when a crash happens:

• Above all, remain calm. Again, car crashes are often overwhelming, but keeping your cool will help you to take the necessary actions to protect yourself.

• Call for help. Especially when you're injured - or when others are injured - you will need to alert emergency responders immediately.

Continue reading "Involved in a Missouri auto accident? Tips for injury victims" »

Avoiding car accidents in winter weather: Tips and resources for Missouri drivers

February 20, 2015

winterroad3.jpgHere in southwest Missouri, we've been dealing with a rather dangerous bout of winter weather this week - and the forecast predicts more sleet, freezing rain and ice from tonight through tomorrow. Of course, it's best to stay home in this kind of weather, but if you don't have that option, our Missouri personal injury lawyers urge you to take appropriate precautions to help ensure your safety - and the safety of the motorists you're sharing the road with.

When you have to drive in wintry conditions, it's essential to be ready for what you may encounter: after all, doing so can help reduce your risk of being involved in a serious car accident. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination, and be patient and alert when you're behind the wheel. Remember, it's better to arrive late than to not arrive at all. Before you get on the road, you should also take a moment to check road conditions for the route you're planning to take: MoDOT offers a useful Traveler Info Map that provides details on weather-related road conditions, road closures, and work zone locations. (You can also download MoDOT's Map App for your Apple or Android device.)

Another way you can help protect yourself is to prepare your vehicle for winter travel. Below, we share some car prep tips to help you make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle snowy or icy conditions.

Driving in dangerous conditions: Preparing your car for winter travel

Have your vehicle's systems checked. You'll want to ensure that your vehicle's key systems are properly maintained, including your battery and charging system; your brakes; your cooling system; your exhaust; your heating system; your windshield washer and wipers; and your interior and exterior lights.

Make sure your tires are in good shape. In particular, check your tired tread depth and your tire pressure. Safety experts recommend checking your pressure on a weekly basis throughout the winter months.

Get your oil and filters changed. Make sure you're not overdue for an oil change. When you're having your vehicle serviced, ask the technician to check your fuel, air and transmission filters - and to change them if needed.

Continue reading "Avoiding car accidents in winter weather: Tips and resources for Missouri drivers" »

Q&A: Missouri personal injury settlements

file7571263662948.jpgAs Missouri personal injury lawyers, we know that our clients come to us with a number of questions about the settlements they may receive. In this post, we discuss the most common questions we hear and provide some useful info for auto accident victims.

Q: Why would I need a personal injury lawyer if I've already been offered a settlement that covers my bills from the other driver's insurance?

A: In the majority of cases, it's best to refrain from accepting a settlement until you are completely certain about the nature of the injuries you have suffered (and the treatment you'll require, both now and in the future). It's easy to recognize - and diagnose - the type of damage that's been done to your vehicle, but it's not so simple to assess the physical damage you've suffered. You need to consider the long term implications for recovery, to what extent you will require ongoing medical treatment, and any lost wages you'll incur while recovering.

An attorney can help you determine the full value of your claim before you accept any settlement from an insurance company. If you skip this step, you may find that a settlement amount does not meet your current and/or future needs. And remember, accepting a settlement often means that you waive your right to collect any future monies in compensation for your injuries. We know it can be tempting to take that check immediately and be done with it, but if you do that, you may very well be cheating yourself out of funds you'll need to manage your recovery. The best way to determine if a settlement offer is fair is to consult with a Missouri personal injury attorney, whose specific experience in this area can guide you.

Q: What if I can't afford an attorney?

A: Most personal injury law firms work on a contingent fee basis, which means they provide a free initial consultation and will only collect money if they win a claim for you. So, you have no need to worry about legal bills on top of medical bills: you can feel confident in hiring the proper legal representation to get you the settlement you deserve.

Continue reading "Q&A: Missouri personal injury settlements" »

Join us in supporting KOAM-TV's Annual Toybox Campaign!

December 5, 2014

Toybox1.jpgIt's December, which means Christmas is right around the corner! Most of us are eagerly anticipating celebrations with friends and family, but for others, the holidays may not look so bright. Here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to partner with KOAM-TV in Joplin, the U.S. Army, and the Salvation Army as a sponsor of their Annual Toybox Campaign. This toy drive, which has been providing gifts to children in our community for over 25 years, makes a significant difference for local families during the holidays - but of course, we need your help.

The holiday season is an especially difficult time for low-income families and families that live in poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, there are over 29 million needy children throughout the U.S. who live in low-income families. That means about 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line, and research shows that living in poverty is the single greatest threat to a child's well-being. In 2014, charitable organizations nationwide have reported an increase in the number of families seeking assistance - and even more families are in need of help at this time of year.

By donating a toy, you can help a less-fortunate child in our community experience the joy and giving spirit of the Christmas season - and you're making an investment in one of our country's most valuable resources: our children. We hope you'll join us in supporting the Toybox Campaign by dropping off a new, unwrapped toy at our Joplin office or at one of the other drop off locations in our area. Click here to learn more about those locations, the Toybox Campaign, and how you can get involved.

From our family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays!

Continue reading "Join us in supporting KOAM-TV's Annual Toybox Campaign!" »

The dangers of "driving drowsy": Facts, statistics & safety tips for Missouri motorists

October 29, 2014

driving-at-night-314564-m.jpgDrunk drivers and distracted drivers are regularly in the news, but there's another form of impairment that causes a number of accidents statewide: drowsiness. Since next week (November 2-9) is Drowsy Driving Prevention week, our Missouri personal injury lawyers share some facts, statistics, and safety tips related to the problem of the drowsy driver.

Drowsy drivers: Facts and statistics

• In a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, about 60% of adult drivers (or approximately 168 million people) admitted to getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy within the past year. In addition, nearly 40% of those drivers (approximately 11 million people) said they had actually dozed off while driving.

• Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that drowsy drivers contribute to at least 100,000 police-reported crashes every year. These accidents result in approximately 1,550 deaths; 71,000 injuries; and $12.5 billion in costs.

• When you've been awake for about 18 hours, your cognitive impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol content, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After you've been up for 24 hours, your impairment is similar to a driver with a 0.10% BAC.

Drowsy driving: Who's at risk?

• Younger drivers, particularly males under age 26

• Employees who work long hours or night shifts (notably, night shift workers have a crash risk six times higher than the average driver; drivers who work more than 60 hours a week have a 40% greater risk)

• Commercial drivers (fatigue is a factor in at least 15% of all heavy truck accidents)

• Drivers with undiagnosed/untreated sleep disorders

• Business travelers (drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel, or who may be jet-lagged)

Warning signs: Are you driving while drowsy?

• Are you yawning or blinking excessively?

• Are you struggling with wandering or disconnected thoughts?

• Do you have trouble remembering the last few miles you've driven?

• Have you drifted out of your lane or been jerked awake by a rumble strip?

• Have you missed exits, turns or traffic signals?

Continue reading "The dangers of "driving drowsy": Facts, statistics & safety tips for Missouri motorists" »

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) a common consequence of Missouri car accidents

ct-scans-2-262491-m.jpgWhen a loved one suffers from a traumatic brain injury, his or her life can be permanently changed, impacting not just the victims but their loved ones as well. Often, those afflicted with these injuries are forced to relearn basic tasks, as brain injuries can impact an individual's thinking, sensation, language and emotions. Traumatic brain injuries can also result in long-term financial consequences associated with medical care, disability, and rehabilitation.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, a traumatic brain injury is defined as "an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force." These injuries are, unfortunately, common. They can be associated with a number of incidents, including the following:

• Workplace accidents (like falls, which make up 35.2% of traumatic brain injuries each year)
• Birth injuries and loss of oxygen to the brain
• Medical errors (i.e. medical malpractice, also known as "anoxic encephalopathy" or "anoxic brain injury")
• Auto accidents, including car, truck, and motorcycle crashes

Auto accidents account for 17.3% of traumatic brain injuries in the United States, and medical professionals report that it is remarkably easy to suffer a brain injury in a car crash. You don't have to be traveling at a high rate of speed, and you don't even have to strike your head on an object to suffer injury. Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Glen Johnson explains a common scenario: "If a person is driving a car at 45 miles per hour and is struck head-on by another car traveling at the same rate of speed, the person's brain goes from 45 miles per hour to zero in an instant. The soft tissue of the brain is propelled against the very hard bone of the skull. The brain tissue is 'squished' against the skull and blood vessels may tear. When blood vessels tear, they release blood into areas of the brain in an uncontrolled way."

Bleeding in the brain can be especially dangerous, because it can cause brain tissue to stop functioning or even die off - and it can happen fast. In many cases, symptoms of these injuries don't appear right away: "Some people have sustained a head injury from a car accident and [seemed] 'just fine' right after at the accident. Some have even gotten out of the car and directed traffic," Dr. Johnson says. "Within a short period of time, they began to get more and more confused until they eventually [lapsed] into a coma."

Continue reading "Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) a common consequence of Missouri car accidents" »

Preventing hot car deaths in Missouri children: Facts & tips for caregivers

September 3, 2014

closed-825531-m.jpgSummer is nearly over, but high temperatures and heat advisories are still with us here in the Ozarks. Our Springfield personal injury lawyers want to remind you to take precautions to prevent heatstroke and hot car deaths in children - not just during the summer months, but all year round. Recently, national media outlets reported the tragic death of a 22-month old Georgia boy who was left in a vehicle by his father. After authorities investigated, they determined the father's actions were deliberate. The father, Justin Ross Harris, has since been indicted on three murder charges and seven other offenses.

Of course, the vast majority of hot car deaths are not caused by parents who intend to do harm to their children. Sadly, most cases of vehicle-related hyperthermia are accidental, and they're disturbingly common - this year alone, 26 children have died nationwide. In this post, we discuss some important facts about hot car deaths and provide a few simple tips to help you keep your children safe.

Facts about hot car deaths: What Missouri parents and caregivers need to know

• Since 1998, 619 children in the U.S. have died of heatstroke after being left unattended in vehicles, according to data compiled by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science. That's an average of 38 children every year.

• Roughly half of hyperthermia deaths happen when caregivers, often distracted, simply forget that a child is in their vehicle. About 30% occur when a child gets into a vehicle without a caregiver's knowledge and becomes trapped; 20% happen when a caregiver intentionally leaves a child in a vehicle.

• Children's body temperatures can rise three to five times more quickly than the body temperatures of adults. Heatstroke occurs when a person's body temperature reaches 104 degrees, causing symptoms like dizziness, disorientation, seizures, sluggishness, increased heart rate and loss of consciousness. A body temperature of 107 degrees or higher can prove to be fatal, as cells begin to suffer damage and internal organs begin to fail.

• A vehicle can heat up extremely fast, warming up by as much as 20 degrees within a 10 minute time frame. In fact, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to 110 degrees when the temperature outside is only in the 60s - and a vehicle occupant can experience hyperthermia when the temperature outdoors is as low as 57 degrees. Heatstroke deaths have occurred in 11 months out of the year.

Continue reading "Preventing hot car deaths in Missouri children: Facts & tips for caregivers" »

Join us for the Cherish Kids 5K/10K on Saturday, August 16 at James River Assembly in Ozark!

runnergirl.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Cherish Kids 5K/10K, which will be held this Saturday, August 16, at the James River Assembly South Campus in Ozark (at Highway 65 and CC). Our team will be there handing out free bicycle safety helmets to kids ages 12 and under who are registered for the Kids K! We hope you'll join us for what promises to be a fun event, with 100% of all proceeds going to support a great cause.

Cherish Kids 5K/10K: Event details

8:00 - 10:00 a.m.: Cherish Kids Family Fun! This year's event features a number of activities for the whole family, including bounce houses, games, face painting, giveaways, a silent auction, a hot air balloon launch, and an amazing all-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast ($5 per person). Special guests Sara and Ethan Forhetz will also be in attendance. And if you have a child age 12 or under who's participating in the race, be sure to stop by our tent for a free bicycle helmet!

8:00 a.m.: Start time for the 5k/10K! Participants will receive a race T-shirt and bag and free snacks - and they'll also be eligible for over $3000 in prizes. Water stations will also be positioned along this year's new, improved course.

9:00 a.m.: Start time for the "Kids K" portion of the event! The Kids K is a 0.6 mile race for participants age 12 and under (and all participants 12 and younger will receive a medal, whether they run the 5K/10K or the Kids K). Children in foster care will receive a free registration.

9:30 a.m.: Award Ceremony! The ceremony will include Overall Winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd Male & Female); Masters (1st, 2nd, 3rd Male & Female); 1st Place in each 5 year age group (Including age groups 10 & under to 75 & over); and Overall Kids K: Boy & Girl Trophies.

About Cherish Kids

• Founded in 2009 by Debbie Lindell, Cherish Kids works tirelessly to find homes for the nearly 2,000 orphans living throughout Missouri. Their mission is three-fold: to raise awareness about the needs of children in crisis, both locally and worldwide; to offer resources to people who want to help these children; and to provide support by helping meet these children's various needs and offering financial, emotional and spiritual support to families who wish to foster or adopt.

• The organization's efforts include supplying gift cards to children to purchase clothing when they are suddenly placed in foster care; providing summer camp scholarships to foster children; and hosting special events to encourage and support foster children.

Continue reading "Join us for the Cherish Kids 5K/10K on Saturday, August 16 at James River Assembly in Ozark!" »

Seat belts save lives and reduce injury risks in Missouri and nationwide

buckle-up-107206-m.jpgNo matter how carefully you drive, the odds are that you'll be involved in a car crash at some point during your lifetime. While you can't control other people on the road, you can take one simple, basic precaution to reduce your risk of serious injury: wear your seat belt. In this post, our Springfield personal injury lawyers share ten things Missouri drivers should know about seat belt use and roadway safety.

Ten things Missouri drivers should know about seat belts:

1. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest, most effective step you can take to reduce your chances of being injured in a car accident.

2. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that lap/shoulder seat belts reduce fatal injury risks by 45% and moderate-to-critical injury risks by 50%.

3. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, Missouri drivers who aren't buckled up are 42 times more likely to be killed in an auto accident.

4. Since 1975, seat belt use has saved nearly 300,000 lives in the U.S. alone, according to the AAA Exchange.

5. In 2012, seat belts saved 12, 174 lives - and over 3,000 more lives could have been saved if all passenger vehicle occupants over age four had buckled up.

6. A NHTSA study estimates that over 1,600 additional lives could be saved annually - and 22,000 injuries prevented - if seat belt use was 90% in all 50 states.

7. Air bags are not a replacement for seat belts: the two devices are meant to work together. If you're not wearing a seat belt when your air bag deploys, you could be thrown into the air bag as it opens. That kind of force can cause serious, even fatal injury.

8. Seat belts should be worn so that the lap belt is secured across your pelvis (across the hips, below the stomach); the shoulder belt should be secured across your rib cage (away from your neck). These areas are able to withstand crash forces better than other parts of the body.

9. The way your seat belt fits makes a difference. When you're shopping for a vehicle, check the fit of the seat belts. In addition, you can use seat belt adjusters or extenders to help ensure the fit is right.

10. All passenger vehicle occupants should be buckled up. If you're carrying young passengers, make sure they are properly restrained in appropriate child safety seats. (To learn about Missouri's Child Restraint Law, click here.)

Continue reading "Seat belts save lives and reduce injury risks in Missouri and nationwide" »

Missouri burn injuries more common during the summer months

sparkler-1431759-m.jpgThe Fourth of July holiday weekend is almost here, and our Missouri personal injury lawyers want to remind you about the importance of fireworks safety at this time of year. On average, 200 people are treated in emergency rooms nationwide during the month around July for fireworks related injuries. As you celebrate this year, be sure to take precautions to help prevent injury. Below, we share a few useful safety suggestions

Fireworks safety: A few tips for the Fourth of July holiday

• Don't allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Never try to pick up or re-light "duds" - fireworks that haven't fully ignited.

• Always keep a bucket of water or garden hose on hand.

• Never throw or point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or any flammable materials.

• According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than half of all fireworks-related injuries are burns. 41% are injuries to hands/fingers, and 19% are to hands, faces and ears. Be sure these areas are protected when igniting fireworks.

• Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all six fireworks-related deaths that occurred last year: if you plan to use fireworks this holiday weekend, make sure the ones you purchase are legal.

Burn injuries more common during the summer months

In general, burn injuries occur more frequently in the summer, when temperatures soar and conditions tend to be dry, creating ideal circumstances for fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires cost residents of Missouri and the US more than $15.5 billion in damage in recent years. These kinds of incidents can lead to property damage, serious personal injury, and even death. Many fires lead to serious burn injuries that can have long-lasting negative effects on victims and their families.

The American Burn Association reveals that more than one million burn injuries require medical treatment every year, and the cost from medical bills resulting from these injuries can be financially crippling. Burn injuries can take years to recover fully from, and some sufferers never completely recover. Treatment can be lengthy and painful, and is often extraordinarily expensive. Victims of burn injuries should be aware that they may be entitled to compensation for their losses.

Continue reading "Missouri burn injuries more common during the summer months" »

Excessive speed contributes to many Missouri car accidents, increases injury risks for motorists

relax-speed-2-578724-m.jpgAccording to the Missouri Highway Patrol, excessive speed is a leading cause of auto accidents in Missouri: each year, drivers traveling well in excess of the posted speed limit are responsible for car accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities. As with many other kinds of accidents, car crashes caused by excessive speed are easily preventable: catastrophic injuries and expensive medical costs caused by these accidents can be avoided. Missouri drivers are urged to follow a few simple rules to help prevent car accidents, and keep all motorists and passengers safer on our state's highways.

Observe and obey posted speed limits. Speeding can limit the time you have to avoid a dangerous collision.

Pay attention. Distracted driving, often caused by cell phone use and texting, leads to a loss of focus on the road, and can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Don't drink and drive. If you do plan to drink, appoint a designated driver.

Don't tailgate. Following too closely reduces the time and space you need to avoid a car crash.

Don't drive while tired. Tired driving carries many of the same risks as drunk driving, and can lead to a deadly accident.

The Highway Patrol reports that in 2012, there were 286 fatal crashes involving speed and over 6,500 speed-related crashes that resulted in personal injuries to vehicle occupants. 320 people died and 9,723 were injured in these accidents.

Safe and careful driving is the best way to prevent these senseless injuries and fatalities. By paying attention and following the rules of the road, Missouri drivers can get where they're going safely, and protect other drivers as well. Safe and careful driving can help you avoid the dangerous, careless driving of others, and help prevent car accidents, personal injury, property damage, and costly medical bills.

Continue reading "Excessive speed contributes to many Missouri car accidents, increases injury risks for motorists" »

Avoiding Missouri ATV accidents & injuries: Tips & info for summer 2014

1109243_quad.jpgSummer is just about here, and many Missourians are already enjoying the numerous outdoor activities that are popular in our state. In this post, our personal injury lawyers share some information and safety tips related to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Facts about ATVs, accidents and injuries

• In the U.S., approximately 800 deaths and 135,000 injuries occur each year as a result of ATV accidents.

• Around one-third of ATV-related deaths and injuries involve children under age 16. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of children killed in off-road vehicle accidents rose by 88%.

• ATVs are especially prone to rollover accidents, especially when they encounter unexpected obstacles or uneven terrain. Since ATVs can weigh up to 800 pounds, these rollover accidents commonly cause serious, life-threatening injuries.

ATVs and Missouri law

• Under state law, all ATV riders (whether operators or passengers) under age 18 must wear a helmet.

• ATVs may not be used on highways, except for agricultural or industrial purposes.

• No one under age 16 may operate an ATV, except when accompanied by a parent or when on land owned by a parent.

• All ATVs must be titled and registered, with the registration to be renewed every three years. No one under age 16 can legally register an ATV.

ATV safety tips

Always wear appropriate protective gear. Wearing a helmet certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation is the most effective way to reduce your risk of sustaining head injuries in an ATV accident. In addition, protective gear like boots, goggles, and gloves can help protect you from cuts, abrasions and other injuries caused by outdoor debris.

Don't allow children to ride adult-sized ATVs. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, children under 16 are twice as likely to be injured when riding adult ATVs compared to youth ATVs. Many safety experts recommend that parents prohibit young children from operating ATVs because they lack the necessary knowledge, strength, size and cognitive ability.

Don't carry a passenger - or ride as a passenger - on an ATV designed to carry a single rider. Most ATVs are only meant to carry one rider - and ATVs are meant to be ridden interactively, so that the vehicle responds when the operator shifts his or her weight. A passenger can alter the distribution of weight and limit the operator's ability to control the vehicle.

Avoid riding an ATV on paved roads, unless you are crossing a road legally and safely. ATVs are meant to be driven off-road, and they can be tricky to maneuver on pavement, making accidents more likely.

Take an ATV safety course. Whether you're an experienced ATV rider or you're just learning, a safety course can help you build and develop safe riding skills. The ATV Safety Institute offers a free online E-course along with information about hands-on courses offered in your area.

Continue reading "Avoiding Missouri ATV accidents & injuries: Tips & info for summer 2014" »

Missouri reports sharp decline in auto accident fatalities in 2013

motion-1197254-m.jpgDespite law enforcement initiatives, innovations in vehicle safety features, and campaigns designed to curb dangerous driving behaviors, fatal car accidents are disturbingly common. Consider these statistics:

• The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that over 35,000 people died in U.S. car accidents in 2013 - and approximately 3.8 million more suffered crash-related injuries that required medical attention.
• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a motor vehicle death occurred every 16 minutes in 2012. A motor vehicle injury occurred every 14 seconds.
• On average, car accidents cost the U.S. $230.6 billion each year. That's about $820 per person.
• Given current trends, experts say car accident injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.
• The vast majority of auto accidents are caused by simple human error.

Here in Missouri, however, there's some good news to report: data from the Highway Patrol indicates that car accident fatalities have declined steadily over the past few years. In 2006, there were 1,257 crash deaths statewide, but in 2013, the number of fatalities dropped to 757. That's a difference of 500 lives: as a Patrol news release points out, it's the equivalent of the entire town of Irondale, MO. What's more, it's only the second time since 1949 that Missouri experienced fewer than 800 annual traffic fatalities.

Unfortunately, however, the decline hasn't continued into this year. Thus far in 2014, Missouri has experienced a 9% increase in car accident deaths. In response to this increase, the Patrol is urging Missouri motorists "to make a conscious decision to help lower that number by being safe drivers."

Preventing fatal car accidents in Missouri: Three simple things you can do to make a difference

Always wear your seat belt. Of the 757 people who died in Missouri auto accidents last year, the Patrol says 63% of those required to be restrained were not buckled up when the crash occurred. Fastening your seat belt is the easiest way to reduce your risk of life-threatening injury: in fact, seat belts can reduce crash injury risks by 50%. It only takes a second, and it really might save your life.

Follow the law. Sadly, factors like excessive speed, alcohol use and improper lane changes play a role in many Missouri car accidents. These accidents are entirely preventable, provided we all follow the rules of the road. When drivers break traffic laws, they pose a threat to roadway safety for all motorists.

Don't divide your attention between driving and other activities. The NSC reports that some form of cell phone cause causes over one in four crashes nationwide. However, cell phones aren't the only source of driver distraction. Other high-risk secondary tasks (such as eating, fiddling with the radio, talking to passengers, etc.) can be extremely dangerous. Remember, safe driving requires your undivided attention.

Continue reading "Missouri reports sharp decline in auto accident fatalities in 2013" »

Warm weather brings increased risks for Missouri hot car deaths

carseatphoto.jpgAs warmer temperatures return to Missouri, our Springfield personal injury lawyers would like to remind parents and caregivers about the dangers of leaving children alone in cars. Every year, there are more and more serious injuries sustained by children who are abandoned in hot vehicles. Statistics show that more than half of children who die after being left in hot cars are simply forgotten by caregivers who were rushed or stressed.

Research indicates a heightened risk of serious injury or death for children, accidentally or purposely, left in vehicles in the heat. Hyperthermia, or heat-stroke, is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. And according to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, there have been over 600 hyperthermia deaths of American children since 1998 that directly resulted from children being left in vehicles. Sixteen of those deaths occurred in Missouri.

It's essential that parents and caregivers are extra cautious when exiting their vehicle during the warmer months. Tragedies may also occur under the watch of babysitters, daycare centers, schools and summer camps. We urge you to talk with day care employees, school employees and caregivers to stress the important of checking for children when they leave their motor vehicles. You should ask that you be notified immediately if any of the parties notice that your child did not arrive on-time to a destination. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 27 documented deaths caused by children being left in hot motor vehicles are reported each year.

NHTSA offers you these tips to help prevent your child from getting left in a vehicle and experiencing hyperthermia:

• Never ever leave an infant or a child in a vehicle unattended -- not even if the windows are open or the engine is on and the air conditioning is running.

• Do not allow children to play in an unattended vehicle. You should be sure to teach them a vehicle is not a play area.

• Make a habit to look in the vehicle before locking the door and walking away. Be sure to check the front and back seats.

Continue reading "Warm weather brings increased risks for Missouri hot car deaths" »