Missouri Family Awarded $3.1 Million for Fatal Accident Caused by Police Chase

7524_slow_down.jpgRecently, a St. Louis jury awarded $3.1 million to the family of a woman killed in an Uplands Park police chase, ruling that two officers violated department policy in their handling of the pursuit. In December 2009, 34 year-old Lashanna Snipes died when a fleeing suspect ran a stop sign and crashed into her vehicle. Snipes' two children, her grandnephew, and her sister were also injured in the collision: the group was traveling to a relative's house to hang Christmas lights when 16 year-old Derion Henderson, on the run from police, crossed their path.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the family's wrongful death/personal injury lawsuit alleged that the officers were reckless and negligent in pursuing Henderson, who was traveling 46 mph in a 30 mph zone. During the trial, the plaintiffs' attorneys pointed out that Henderson had only committed an ordinance violation, and that the officers had not received authorization to pursue from a supervisor - meaning that the chase was in breach of their department's pursuit policy.

Furthermore, the driver of the police car, Lamont Aikens, was found to be an unlicensed volunteer officer with a lengthy criminal history involving 18 arrests. Aikens was convicted of third-degree assault and stalking in 1993, and he pleaded guilty to drug possession the same year. His other arrests were connected to some serious charges, including forcible rape, first-degree assault and first-degree murder. (Subsequently, Aikens and another Uplands Park officer were charged with holding a police commission without a license, and the acting police chief was charged with granting the commission.)

While Aikens and Sergeant Janet Riley maintained that they abandoned the chase about 12 blocks before the crash happened, a witness testified that both Henderson's vehicle and the police car passed her - at nearly 80 mph - several blocks past the point where the officers said they backed off. In fact, the witness had contacted St. Louis Police the evening of the crash to report that both vehicles had struck her car.

The defense insisted that the only person responsible for the crash was Henderson, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and vehicle tampering last year (he was sentenced to 17 years in prison). However, in a deposition presented by the plaintiffs, Henderson claimed the police car hit his vehicle from behind, causing the collision with Snipes.

Ultimately, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Approximately half of the $3.1 million award is to compensate the family for Snipes' death; the remainder is for the injuries sustained by her passengers.

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MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program Brings Construction Projects to Missouri Roadways this Summer

1032939_men_at_work.jpgThe summer of 2012 will bring many improvements to our state's roadways, as the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) implements the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program: statewide, more than 100 bridges will go under construction for maintenance and improvements by the end of 2013. As always, MoDOT will continue other renovations on both major and minor roadways. Construction zones can cause slowdowns in traffic along with road and lane closures, which can be understandably frustrating to drivers. However, it is necessary for motorists to make adjustments during road construction to help prevent fatal accidents in work zones.

While roadway construction is necessary and beneficial, it requires cooperation and patience from drivers. In 2010, 87,606 car accidents happened in work zones nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration. In 2006, Missouri passed legislation in 2006 to increase safety and discourage reckless driving in work zones, but unfortunately, there are still many accidents in construction areas each year: between 2007 and 2011, there were 57 deaths and 3,812 injuries in Missouri work zones.

MoDOT strives to promote work zone safety by using enhanced work zone warning signs, incorporating the latest technology to monitor traffic and creating detour routes. Motorists can contribute to MoDOT's efforts by being attentive, using proper following distances, changing lanes properly and abiding to special speed limits and/or regulations. Motorists who are not compliant with Missouri laws face many severe penalties: for example, speeding or passing improperly in a work zone can carry a minimum fine of $250. In addition, drivers can be fined up to $10,000 and lose their license for a year for causing an accident that injures or kills a highway worker. Most importantly, reducing work zone accidents means more lives are saved - highway workers, drivers, and passengers alike.

MoDOT reports work zones were safer in 2011 than in 2010: work zone car accidents decreased over 32 percent in 2011, which suggests that tougher regulations and more awareness led to fewer deaths and injuries in Missouri construction areas. Although the summer of 2012 brings inevitable road and bridge closures with work zones, drivers and highway workers can create safe work zones through extra caution and cooperation.

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Teen Driver Receives Prison Sentence for Causing Fatal Crash While Texting

A Massachusetts teen has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for causing a fatal car crash while texting, reports the Boston Globe. On Wednesday, a district court judge imposed the maximum penalty on 18 year-old Aaron Deveau, the first Massachusetts driver to be convicted of the offense since the state criminalized texting and driving in September 2010.

IMG_1723_u.JPG"I made a mistake," Deveau said at his sentencing. "If I could take it back, I would take it back."

In court, prosecutors argued that the teen "played Russian roulette" on the afternoon of February 20, 2011. While Deveau claimed that he didn't remember texting and driving that day, his phone records revealed that he sent a total of 193 text messages on the day of the crash, a few of them in the minutes just before he veered across a street's center line and struck a truck head-on. The truck's driver, 55 year-old Donald Bowley Jr., sustained serious head trauma and died 18 days after the collision. Bowley's girlfriend was also seriously injured.

The jury deliberated for only three hours before convicting Deveau on charges of causing a motor vehicle accident while texting and motor vehicle homicide. He will serve the sentences concurrently. In consideration of Deveau's age and his clean criminal record, the judge suspended a portion of the sentence: Deveau will serve one year of his prison term and lose his driver's license for 15 years.

David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives for the National Safety Council, praised the judge's ruling in an interview with msnbc.com: "This is a threat that did not exist just a few years ago, and we've never had to understand how being connected to a mobile world was dangerous," Teater said. "Unfortunately now the way we're beginning to understand the danger of it is by people getting hurt and dying. And that needs to change."

Indeed. Three years ago, a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute determined that texting is "associated with the highest [crash] risk of all cell phone related tasks": VTTI's research revealed that a texting driver's crash risk is over 20 times that of a driver who isn't using a cell phone. Based on the study's findings, the Institute strongly recommended a total texting ban for all U.S. drivers in all moving vehicles, and issued the following warning:

"As shown in findings overview, this cellphone task has the potential to create a true crash epidemic if texting-type tasks continue to grow in popularity and as the generation of frequent text message senders reach driving age in large numbers."

Americans sent 1.5 trillion text messages in 2009, the same year the VTTI study was released. By the end of 2010, that number jumped to 2.1 trillion, and driver distraction had become a factor in one in every 10 fatal car accidents throughout the country.

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Teen Mom Charged with Child Abuse, Aggravated DUI After Driving Off With Baby on Car's Roof

file0001704977235.jpgOn Saturday morning, a teen mom was arrested on charges of child abuse and aggravated DUI after she drove away from a friend's house with her infant child on the roof of her car. The accident happened on Saturday in Phoenix: according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 19 year-old Catalina Clouser drove about 12 miles before realizing she had left her 5 week-old son strapped into his car seat on the roof of the vehicle.

Only two hours earlier, the child's father, 19 year-old Manuel Pena, had been arrested for DWI, and both Clouser and the child were in the vehicle at the time it was stopped. According to the Arizona Republic, Phoenix police officers stopped Pena after observing him make dangerous lane changes, nearly causing a collision. Court documents reveal that Clouser told the arresting officer that she and Pena had been smoking marijuana in a nearby park. Their son was present. The couple then decided to run to the store and buy beer, and they were heading home with their purchase when they were stopped.

The officer drove Clouser and the child back to their residence. Sergeant Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police said the office initially chose to take Clouser and the baby home because they felt Pena, not Clouser, presented a threat to the child. Shortly thereafter, however, Clouser, reportedly upset about Pena's arrest, decided to drive to a friend's house. Clouser admitted to police that she and the friend smoked more marijuana in the presence of her son before Clouser decided to drive home around midnight. The baby was asleep in his car seat.

Officer James Holmes, spokesman for the Phoenix police department, said it appears that Clouser put the car seat on the roof of the vehicle and then drove away, forgetting about her son. Upon arriving at home, she realized the child was not in the vehicle and called the friends she had just visited, asking them to check the street for the child. Clouser then began to retrace her route.

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Truck Crashes Into Dozens of Teens Outside High School: 3 Students Critically Injured

67938_crosswalk_sign.jpgOn Wednesday, eight California high school students were injured - three critically - when one of their classmates ran a red light and plowed through a crosswalk filled with dozens of teenagers, according to CBS 47 in Fresno.

"The guy went through the red light...I saw the truck and started screaming out 'Whoa, whoa, whoa!'" said Rick Chavez, a parent who witnessed the accident after picking his son. "He plowed right into the kids. Two girls were really bad. I thought they were gone. I was in shock."

The crash happened outside Hemet High School, a small desert town southeast of Los Angeles, with only two days left in the school year: it was the last day of class for graduating seniors. The group of students was heading across the street from the school toward the student parking lot and football stadium, just after school had let out for the day. They were using a crosswalk legally when a 1994 Ford Ranger simply ran them down.

About 30 people were in the crosswalk at the time of the collision. In all, nine people were injured: eight students (six women and two men) and a 60 year-old woman. (The older woman's connection to the school is not yet known.) All three of the critically injured were students: those three were run over and sustained serious head trauma, according to authorities. MSNBC reports that one victim, a 15 year-old girl, is in a "conscious coma" and intubated. The other six victims suffered minor injuries. None of their names has been released.

Witnesses said that the truck, which had been modified for off-road use, seemed to accelerate as it approached the intersection. "He revved the throttle like crazy. We heard the RPMs build," Alex Bissett, a student at Hemet, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I've seen a lot of crazy stuff, but this tops it."

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Jet Ski Explosion, Swimmer Electrocution Among Lake Accidents Over Memorial Day: No Fatalities Reported

Thumbnail image for 866408_jet_ski.jpgMemorial Day weekend has come and gone, and according to Captain Matt Walz of the Missouri Highway Patrol, boaters at Lake of the Ozarks managed to stay reasonably safe, despite a few notable incidents. As of Monday, there were six recreational boating accidents reported, four of which resulted in non-life threatening injuries. "For the number of boats on the water, I would say it was a very safe weekend," Captain Walz told Lake News Online.

Memorial Day Accidents at Lake of the Ozarks

On Saturday afternoon, an inner tube accident left a Lee's Summit girl seriously injured. The tube became airborne as a result of a large boat wake, and the rider, Jessica Dennis, was airlifted to Kansas City Children's Hospital.

Then, on Sunday, a jet ski exploded at the 66 mile marker in Camden County, which caused burn injuries to three boaters. The accident happened as Sarah Ferry and Blake Samskey of Olathe were attempting to restart their Sea-Doo after refueling, reports KCTV5. According to Ferry's father, the fuel attendant accidentally spilled fuel into the jet ski's hull after mistaking the oil tank for the gas tank. When the pair was unable to start the Sea-Doo, Ronald Dodson of Lee's Summit offered to assist them. After Dodson checked the spark plugs, Ferry tried the ignition, which triggered the explosion.

Ferry's burns were minor, while Samskey sustained burns from shoulder elbow. Dodson's injuries were the most serious: he was airlifted to Columbia with second-degree burns from the waist up, but he has since been released from the hospital's burn unit.

961931_jump.jpgAlso on Sunday, three swimmers survived electrocution in the water near Gravois. The Gravois Fire Protection District said that the swift, smart responses by those who witnessed the incident likely made the difference between life and death. When responders arrived, witnesses had disconnected the electricity, pulled the three women from the water, and administered CPR to one of them. All three were taken by ambulance.

According to Lake News Online, the dock was reported to be built before new inspection regulations took effect. "It is critical that dock owners take the responsibility to have a qualified electrician perform work on docks and to see that all available electrical safety devices are installed and operational on their docks along with all work being performed to the established standard," the Gravois FPD said in a news release.

Throughout the state, the Missouri Highway Patrol investigated 14 boating accidents that caused six injuries over Memorial Day weekend 2012, according to a recent news release. In addition, 24 boaters were arrested for boating while intoxicated.

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Joplin Marks Tornado Anniversary With Day of Unity

Joplin1_Aaron.jpegIt's been a long, difficult year. The people of Joplin have proven their strength and resilience again and again over the last 12 months: here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to be part of such a fine community. Today, we honor the first anniversary of the EF-5 tornado that tore through our city on May 22, 2011 at 5:41 p.m.

"That story is part of you now," said President Barack Obama, speaking at Joplin High's School's commencement ceremony last night. "You've grown up quickly in the last year. You've learned at a younger age than most that we can't always predict what life has in store for us. No matter how we might try to avoid it, life can bring heartache. Life involves struggle. Life will bring loss."

The storm lasted only 32 minutes, but 161 people were killed, making it the deadliest tornado to touch down in over 60 years. With wind speeds over 200 miles per hour, the tornado was nearly three-quarters of a mile wide and caused approximately $2.8 billion in damages. Over 7500 buildings and homes were destroyed.

But Joplin's people are made of tough stuff. A year ago, Joplin was faced with 3 million cubic yards of debris. Today, two-thirds of homes destroyed have been granted permits to rebuild. "Joplin is on the mend. We have a long road to travel, but the way everyone is joining together and unifying and chipping in, we're going to make it," Mayor Melodie Colbert-Kean said.

Indeed, by the end of April 2012, over 130,000 volunteers had provided 810,476.5 hours of service to rebuilding Joplin. As a result of the immense support from those both inside and outside of Joplin, our city has begun to heal. Today, the Day of Unity will mark groundbreakings at three new schools: Irving Elementary, East Middle School, and Joplin High School, reports the Joplin Globe.

Joplin2_Aaron.jpegThe ceremony celebrating the high school will be just one stop on this afternoon's Walk of Unity, which begins in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 15th Street and Range Line Road. A group will depart from there at 2:30 p.m. to walk the path of the tornado, approximately 3.7 miles. Those who wish to participate are invited to join the walk at any of its stops.

"We encourage all to participate in the Day of Unity activities in the manner they find most appropriate for them," said Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr. "Staying together as one has been significant in our success in recovery efforts, and it will continue to provide benefits as we work together and finish the rebuilding process for a stronger and better community."

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Recent Missouri Accidents Cause Multiple Injuries, Fatalities: None of the Victims Wore Seatbelts

107206_buckle_up.jpgFatal Missouri car accidents are on the rise. As of May 6, the Missouri Highway Patrol reported a 22% increase in the number of deadly car crashes statewide, when compared to the same date in 2011. Our personal injury lawyers can't help but notice a common factor that connects the people injured and killed in many of these accidents: a good number of them failed to buckle up.

Recent Missouri Accidents

May 3: Missouri woman dead after crash near Advance; patrol suspects manslaughter

28 year-old Amanda Allenbaugh was killed when the vehicle she was riding in ran off the road and flipped over, colliding with several road signs and a utility pole before coming to rest. Allenbaugh was ejected from the vehicle along with the car's driver, 35 year-old Donald Smith. Neither of the occupants was wearing a seat belt. The Southeast Missourian reports that Smith was initially suspected of manslaughter after the crash, but as of this morning, he has not been charged with a crime.

May 4: 2 teens dead after crash near Warrensburg

24 year-old Travis Arnold was traveling west on U.S. 50 when he lost control of his vehicle, sending it into the median. Arnold then overcorrected, bringing his car back onto the roadway, where it slammed into another westbound vehicle. Arnold's car went off the right side of the road and overturned: all 3 occupants were ejected. His passengers - 18 year-old Jacob Netz and 19 year-old Malcom Thomas - were pronounced dead at the scene. Arnold also sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. None of the 3 young men were wearing seat belts. The driver of the other car was not listed as injured.

602535_seatbelt.jpgMay 4: Woman dies after crash in Springfield

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a pickup truck traveling west on Republic Road in south Springfield crossed the center line into eastbound traffic. It struck another vehicle head-on. 36 year-old Melissa Eastland, an occupant of the pickup truck, was taken by ambulance but later died as a result of her injuries. Meanwhile, the truck's other occupant, 33 year-old Darrell Eastland suffered non-life threatening injuries, as did the driver of the other vehicle. Police say that neither Darrell nor Melissa Eastland was wearing a seat belt, and they are still trying to determine which one of them was driving the truck. They do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

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SUV Skids Off Elevated Highway in New York City & Plunges 60 Feet Into Bronx Zoo: 7 Family Members Killed

162020_on_the_move.jpgA Sunday drive turned deadly for a family in New York: 3 generations of relatives were killed yesterday in the city's deadliest car crash since March 2011.

It happened on New York's busy Bronx River Parkway. A 2004 Honda Pilot was traveling south when it hit a center median, causing it to bounce off the concrete wall and hurtle across three southbound lanes, leaving a line of skid marks behind it. Then, the SUV struck a curb, which propelled it over the top of a guard rail. The guardrail was undamaged. The SUV plunged 60 feet into an area of dense brush in the Bronx Zoo.

To watch the Today Show's coverage of the accident, including a video simulation of the crash, click here.

All 7 occupants - relatives, heading to a family party - were killed on impact. Among the dead were the driver, 45 year-old Maria Gonzalez; her parents, 85 year-old Jacob Nunez and 81 year-old Ana Julia Martinez; her daughter, 10 year-old Jocelyn Gonzalez; her sister, 39 year-old Maria Nunez; and her nieces, 7 year-old Niely Rosario and 3 year-old Marly Rosario. The family was less than 5 miles from their home when the crash occurred, and they were all wearing seatbelts. Jacob Nunez and Ana Julia Martinez had arrived in the U.S. only 3 days before the accident: they had come from the Dominican Republic to visit their children (they had 13, 6 of whom live in the U.S.).

The site where the SUV landed is a wooded area of the Bronx Zoo that is closed to the public. No animal exhibits are in the vicinity.

Police do not yet know what caused Maria Gonzalez to lose control of the vehicle: it was a sunny day, the roads were dry, and no other vehicles appeared to be involved. At present, police speculate that the vehicle's speed - around 70 miles per hour - may have been a contributing factor. "Obviously, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed," said Ronald Werner, FDNY's Deputy Chief. "It hit something that caused it to become airborne." Some witnesses reported that a tire blew on the SUV, but police have not yet confirmed that. The New York Times reports that there were no visible skid marks on the roadway before the SUV initially collided with the concrete median.

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Drunk Drivers & Repeat Offenses: A Growing Epidemic in Missouri & Nationwide

111147_steering_wheel.jpgNationwide, car accidents involving alcohol are on the decline, but even so, the news is filled with stories of drunk drivers. Consider these recent headlines:

Rockland police: Drunk driver caused three-car crash, Rockland, MA
A Massachusetts woman was injured on Monday after a drunk driver caused a 3 car accident. According to police, 35 year-old Daniel Loughlin's vehicle spun out and smashed into an SUV, knocking it into a 3rd car. The woman driving the SUV was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Loughlin, who police said smelled of alcohol, already had 2 DUI convictions. At the scene, he admitted he had consumed a few beers. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test, so his license was automatically suspended. He is now charged with negligent driving, violating marked lanes, and third-offense DUI.

Police: Drunk driver kills 2 in fiery Philly crash, Philadelphia, PA
On Thursday, 26 year-old George Vidra had been drinking when he ran a stop sign and broadsided another vehicle, which caught fire. The occupants (a 26 year-old woman and a 31 year-old man, whose names have not been released) were pronounced dead at the scene. Vidra faces multiple charges, including vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

State high court tells judge: Give man max on DUIs, Lincoln, NE
The Nebraska Supreme Court intervened in the sentencing of a repeat drunk driver, imposing a 10 year prison term on 56 year-old William Parminter. Parminter, who had been convicted of back-to-back drunk driving charges, is a 4 time offender. The Supreme Court found that Parminter's concurrent sentences for the last 2 offenses were "excessively lenient," and ordered that the Lancaster County District court re-sentence him. Parminter must serve at least 5 of those 10 years.

Drunken Driving Foes: Return Licenses to Repeat Offenders, Boston, MA
WCBVTV investigates the number of Boston drivers who have had their licenses revoked for life after committing 5 drunken driving offenses. The answer? 1,824. The article identifies 2 specific Boston men who appeared in court on the same day: Edward Wright, who pleaded not guilty to his 8th drunk driving charge; and Stephen Buchanan, who pleaded not guilty for his 5th OUI (operating under the influence). The fact is that drunk drivers who lose their licenses are continuing to drive drunk anyway, leading the MADD chapter in Massachusetts to advocate for alternative penalties (like ignition interlock devices).

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Polk County Driver Faces 2nd-Degree Murder Charges After Allegedly Striking, Dragging His Cousin

1094467_high_country_road.jpgIt's no secret that car accidents can have unspeakably tragic consequences. Most crashes are 100% preventable: they happen as the result of a driver error, carelessness, or both. However, the Missouri Highway Patrol believes that a recent hit and run collision was anything but an accident, and today, they filed second-degree murder charges against a Polk County man.

The incident happened on Sunday evening near Eudora. Earlier in the day, 28 year-old Tommy Ray Bryant and his cousin Shannon Shaffer Sr. were involved in a physical fight during family gathering at Lake Stockton. According to witnesses, both men had been drinking. Hours later, Bryant and Shaffer fought again at a residence on Route W, west of Highway 123. This time, the altercation also involved Shaffer's son, and his girlfriend was also present. According to the probable cause statement from law enforcement officials, a neighbor heard the fight and attempted to break it up. He led Bryant away from the driveway and down the street on foot.

As they walked away, investigators allege, Shaffer got into his truck, pulled out of his driveway, and drove directly at the 2 men. The neighbor was able to get out of the way, but the vehicle struck Bryant, who dove into the grass. The vehicle drug Bryant approximately 50 yards while continuing to accelerate, and then it sped away. Bryant was killed.

Police continue to search for Shaffer, who has not yet been arrested. After he is taken into custody, he will be held on $250,000 bond.

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Jaywalking Georgia Mother Fights Vehicular Homicide Conviction

1118296_crosswalk.jpgThis week, an Atlanta mother formally appealed a conviction of second-degree vehicular homicide. Raquel Nelson's young son was killed by a drunken hit and run driver as she and her family crossed the street: her plight earned national attention when she was charged and subsequently convicted in connection with her son's death.

The incident happened in April 2010. Nelson had spent the day out with her 2 daughters and young son, and the family was walking home from the bus stop. They needed to cross Austell Road to reach their apartment complex directly across the street, but the nearest crosswalks were a half mile away in either direction. Instead, the family crossed the northbound lanes to the median: as they crossed, 4 year-old A.J. darted away from his mother and ran towards his older sister, who had already crossed to the median safely. He ran directly into the path of an oncoming van. Nelson, who was carrying her young daughter, was also injured in the collision: she lunged towards A.J. in an attempt to save him.

It was later revealed that the driver of the van, Jerry Guy (who fled the scene), had been drinking and taking prescription pain medicine that day. He was also partially blind, and he had been convicted of hit and run on 2 separate occasions in 1997. Guy was also charged - he pled guilty and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. In contrast, Nelson could face 3 years in prison if her conviction is upheld. Prosecutors contend that because Nelson was jaywalking, she bears partial responsibility for her son's death.

It's certainly a controversial case. When Nelson was initially charged, the case received national media coverage, with Georgia prosecutors coming under heavy fire for opting to charge her. Also, it has brought attention to the dangers posed to pedestrians in suburban areas, particularly in Atlanta. Several of Nelson's supporters have argued that it was unreasonable to expect Nelson to walk half a mile with her 3 young children, cross the street, and then walk half a mile back to her home. Further, they argue, that her jaywalking offense doesn't make her criminally responsible for her son's death: instead, that burden lies with Guy.

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MO Supreme Court Votes 5-2 to Uphold Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

file000704919536.jpgLast week, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of our state's limits (or "caps") on non-economic damages a plaintiff can collect in a wrongful death lawsuit, reports LegalNewsline.com.

The case (Sanders v. Ahmed) involved Ronald Sanders, whose wife Pauline died in 2005. In 2003, Pauline had been admitted to an Independence hospital after experiencing numbness in her legs and difficulty walking. Her primary care physician requested a consultation from a neurologist, Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed. After seeing Pauline (who had a history of seizures), Dr. Ahmed changed her medication and prescribed the drug Depakote.

Pauline's condition did not improve - in fact, she began to deteriorate. Over the next week, she became lethargic and suffered a focal seizure, and Dr. Ahmed cancelled her Depakote dosage at that time. Within days, Pauline stopped responding to all stimuli (even painful stimuli), and it was determined that she had suffered permanent brain damage. She lived in a long-term care facility for 2 years before she died.

Initially, Sanders had filed a personal injury lawsuit against Dr. Ahmed, which was subsequently amended into a wrongful death suit after Pauline passed away. The suit alleged that Dr. Ahmed failed to recognize and treat rising ammonia levels in Pauline's body, which was caused by the Depakote (Pauline's medical condition made it impossible for her body to dispose of byproduct ammonia). Those rising levels, Sanders claim said, resulted in the damage to Pauline's brain.

The jury concurred: when the lawsuit went to trial, Sanders was awarded $920,745.88 in past economic damages, and $7.5 million in future non-economic damages, making his total award $10,120,745.88.

However, because of Missouri's cap on non-economic damages, the final amount of his award was cut to $1,265,207.64. Sanders' non-economic damages had been cut to reflect Missouri's $350,000 cap on these awards.

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Recent Study Reveals Many Teens Still Admit to Texting and Driving, Despite Knowing the Dangers

908434 teen old car_.jpg A recent study from State Farm Insurance found that only 22% of parents talk regularly with their teen children about safe driving responsibilities - and that many teen drivers still believe texting and driving is less dangerous than drunk driving. The study found that 57% of licensed teen drivers admit to texting and driving: while 83% of those surveyed acknowledged that drinking and driving leads to car accidents, only 63% expressed the same attitude towards texting while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving, drunk driving, and the general inexperience of teenagers combine to cause many car accidents on Missouri roadways. In 2010, a Missourian was injured or killed every 35.5 minutes in an accident involving a teen driver, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. In general, young drivers are 4 times more likely to crash per mile driven. For our Missouri personal injury lawyers, these are staggering statistics.

How can parents help reduce teen accidents?

Many schools provide driving classes and drunk-driving damage demonstrations. These courses include statistics, real stories, videos and photographs to convey a powerful message that drunk driving and distracted driving on Missouri roadways is dangerous and leads to serious injuries and death. Some courses bring an actual vehicle that was totaled in a drunk-driving accident.

However much it seems that your teen doesn't listen to you, studies show that parents and respected care-givers still have much influence. What's more, the State Farm study showed that parents and teens actually talk less about safe driving practices after the teen becomes licensed - during the time period when these conversations are the most crucial.

The news is full of celebrities who use poor judgment while driving, and these examples provide cautionary tales that can help you demonstrate the very real risks. For example, many teenagers were affected by the death of Jackass movie star, Ryan Dunn. Dunn and a friend (newly married Iraqi war veteran Zachary Hartwell) both died after Dunn chose to drink and then drive 130 miles per hour. He lost control of his Porsche, which traveled 40 yards off the roadway where it hit a tree and exploded.

Also, Utah State teenager Taylor Sauer's parents have used their daughter's tragedy to demonstrate the real dangers of texting and driving to other teens. Sauer's last Facebook message, posted seconds before she slammed into a slow moving tanker truck, was this: "I can't discuss this matter now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha." Sauer never even attempt to brake: she smashed into the truck at 80 mph and was killed instantly.

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Automotive Technology & Distracted Driving: Are Innovations Making Missouri Motorists Safer?

236993_car_navigation_system_by_gps_1.jpgThese days, it seems like a car is now more of a piece of consumer technology than anything else. Today's drivers can talk to their friends, jam out to their iPod play lists and find their destinations without ever taking their eyes off the road, according to the Denver Post. Or at least that's the claim of manufacturers. In reality, an increasing array of distracting technology is being added to cars.

Some would argue that these devices are making our roadways safer by allowing drivers to multitask without ever taking their eyes off the road. Others argue that any type of electronic device in a vehicle serves as a distraction and increases a motorist's risk for a car accident.

"Consumers are wanting, expecting and you could say demanding more technology in their cars," said Tim Jackson, president and chief executive of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. "As their lives have become more technologically driven, they want those same creature comforts in their cars."

Our Missouri car accident lawyers understand that the race is on to have the most modern and technologically advanced car. Unfortunately, a number of these new devices, mostly designed to make your trip in the car easier, do nothing more than take driver attention away from the road and endanger all motorists. "Certainly, car companies should focus on streamlining the interface, enabling you to perform what you need to perform with a minimum of buttons being touched, maybe controls from the steering wheel," said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of Edmunds.com.

Jim Buczkowski, director of Ford electronics and electrical systems engineering, concurs. "The most important thing we've found in our research and various studies is keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel," Buczkowski said.

A number of electronic devices now allow you to make phone calls, reply to a text message, surf the Internet and get driving directions without ever taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. A number of these new features are all voice activated: Ford and Toyota are two companies that offer such features.

But the number of car accidents in our country are still entirely too high. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,500 people were killed in the U.S. in car accidents that reported distracted driving in 2009. The number one distraction reported in these accidents was the use of a cell phone - reported in nearly 20% of these accidents.

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