Apple to Combat Distracted Driving with “Do Not Disturb While Driving” iPhone Feature

“When you’re driving, just drive.” That’s Apple’s new mantra to combat distracted driving following a much-needed new feature coming soon to iPhones.

As part of Apple’s upcoming newly announced iOS 11, the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature will block all incoming calls, text messages, and notifications. Those trying to contact a person who has the feature activated will receive a short, polite and automated response notifying them that the party is unavailable while driving.

When this optional mode is activated by the driver, the iPhone will automatically lock when the car is in motion or the iPhone is connected to the car via a cable or Bluetooth. However, someone else in the vehicle could unlock the iPhone and use it while the driver continues to drive.

The iPhone lock won’t restrict visibility of Apple Maps so that a driver can still receive directions. They will not be able to input new directions as someone else in the car would need to disable the feature and perform that task.

Apple CarPlay will still work in vehicles that support the hands-off feature allowing voice-activated calls and texting while driving.

“Do Not Disturb While Driving” comes at a crucial time when distracted driving injuries and deaths are on the rise, especially for younger drivers. The feature will release this fall with iOS 11, and will rely on the driver’s responsibility to themselves and others on the road to activate and use it on their iPhone.

Goldberg & Osborne continues to support distracted driving awareness through our Don’t Text and Drive Scholarships.

Uber or Lyft Injury Claim

Uber and Lyft continue to gain popularity as on-demand rideshare services. With more Uber and Lyft cars on the road to meet growing demand, accidents involving drivers and even Uber lawsuits are becoming more commonplace.

These companies provide an app that allows users to request a ride using their smartphone. The passenger can even see an estimate of the fee for the trip to their destination directly through the app.

Hiring an Uber or Lyft driver works like a taxi service – – – the passenger gets a ride to their destination for a fee based on the distance and time of the ride. Unlike a taxi service, the driver is using their own personal vehicle and not a vehicle provided by the company. Payment is made through the app so the passenger and driver never have to exchange cash and deal with calculating change.

In most cases, hiring an Uber or Lyft driver works smoothly. However, when things go wrong, it can be complicated to understand from a legal perspective.

Uber Accident Claims

Uber reportedly has over 8,000,000 users and 300,000 drivers in the US. Car accidents involving Uber drivers and passengers are bound to happen. The accident could be due to the fault of the Uber driver, or the driver of the other vehicles, or perhaps both. Accident and insurance claims involving Uber drivers can be complex.

Uber Accident Insurance

Uber requires their drivers to carry liability insurance. Uber also provides additional insurance of $1 million that covers the accidents that are due to the fault of the Uber driver. However, that additional insurance applies only when the Uber driver is carrying a passenger or is en route to pick up a passenger.

Some car insurance policies have exclusions for using the car to transport passengers for a fee. If the Uber driver doesn’t have the right type of insurance coverage, it might not cover cars that are damagesd and people that are injured.

Insurance for Uber Passengers

If an Uber passenger is injured due to the fault of another car, Uber provides both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of $1 million. Uninsured motorist coverage will cover the injury claim of a passenger if the other vehicle has no insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage will cover the injury claim of a passenger when the other vehicle has insurance, but that insurance is inadequate to cover all of the passenger’s damages.

Uber Driver Lawsuit

Uber drivers filed a class action lawsuit against Uber in 2014 in federal district court in California. The drivers claimed that they should be compensated for certain expenses and that Uber improperly told Uber passengers that the gratuity was included, resulting in lost tips to the drivers.

Uber Settlement with Drivers

In 2016 there was a proposed settlement of $100 million, but the Court declined to approve the settlement. The case was still pending as of the date this article was written.

Uber Lawsuits

Uber has attempted to prevent passengers from filing any lawsuit against Uber for injuries caused by an Uber driver. Users agree to certain Terms of Use when accessing or using the Uber services. Those Terms of Use include an Arbitration Agreement. In essence it provides that Uber users give up their right to have a dispute with Uber decided by a jury trial and must submit the dispute to arbitration.

The arbitration must be administered by the American Arbitration Association and the arbitrator must be a retired judge or California lawyer that is on a list of approved arbitrators. The decision of the arbitrator is final and binding with no appeal provision.

Uber Lawsuit in Arizona

Arizona is among several states that have enacted new laws relating to Uber and similar rideshare services. The Arizona law, enacted in 2015, requires Uber drivers to have at least $250,000 of liability insurance coverage when they have a passenger in their vehicle. The law also requires companies like Uber to conduct background checks on its drivers.

The new law does not address every legal issue that may arise when Uber drivers cause accidents. Some of these issues will need to be answered on a case-by-case basis. Uber passengers who are injured in an accident may be wise to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer familiar with the laws relating to Uber and similar ride-sharing companies.

Distracted Driving Factor in Projected 10 Percent Jump in 2015 Pedestrian Fatalities

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has issued a new report projecting a 10 percent rise in 2015 pedestrian fatalities versus the prior year. Projections are based on 2015 pedestrian fatality trends as reported by all 50 state highway safety agencies and the District of Columbia.

Never in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which was instituted in 1975, has a double-digit increase in pedestrian fatalities occurred from one year to the next. In many years the number of fatalities has decreased, and the previous maximum year-to-year increase in fatalities was 8.1 percent.

Numerous reasons are likely culprits for the unprecedented rise in pedestrian fatalities. Distracting driving, including texting and driving, is taking drivers’ eyes off the road. Likewise, distracted walking is also contributing to the fatalities rise as pedestrians aren’t aware of their surroundings or ready to react when they eyes are fixated on a mobile device.

Other factors that may contribute to the rise in pedestrian fatalities include continually safer vehicles that protect drivers but not pedestrians, more pedestrians walking outdoors for exercise, and the lowest gas prices in the past decade leading to more vehicles on the road.

The GHSA continues to work toward improving pedestrian safety, such as the recently passed and instituted federal surface transportation bill, the FAST Act, that empowers states with additional resources.

Goldberg & Osborne is helping spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving through the Goldberg & Osborne Don’t Text and Drive Scholarship.

22 Car Accident Help Suggestions: Before, During and After

No one wakes up wondering if today is the day their life will be turned upside down due to a car accident. However, becoming an auto accident victim is an unfortunate reality of many lives that strikes when least expected. The ensuing emotional distress, potential minor or serious injuries, and numerous repercussions can be overwhelming to deal with if you’re not informed and somewhat ready before the accident occurs.

Car accident help techniques can be applied preemptively, during and after an accident to greatly reduce the stress of the situation, help prevent further injury to yourself or others, assist with local authorities, and prepare for a potential legal battle that may lie ahead.

We have put together a comprehensive list of 22 car accident help suggestions in a nifty chronologically-ordered guide that covers accident preparedness through how to mentally cope with car accident injuries after you’re home or recovering in a hospital.

Before an Accident
During an Accident
After an Accident

Emergency Accident Kit For Your Vehicle

Whether your vehicle happens to blow a tire and skid out in the deep wilderness at night or gets hit by a bus in rush hour city traffic, it’s always a wise idea to have an emergency kit right there and ready for immediate use.

These are some great items to include in a personalized vehicle emergency kit that will come in handy regardless of the accident’s severity. Some items might seem obvious but you can never be too careful during preparation to ensure all bases are covered.

  • Cell phone with camera and voice recording function (if you don’t normally carry one)
  • Disposable backup camera
  • Car insurance card
  • Medical information card noting special health conditions and insurance carrier/number
  • All emergency contacts including family, friends, doctor and desired injury lawyer
  • Pen/pencil and paper to write on
  • First aid kit
  • Roadside flares
  • Small cones
  • Small, powerful LED flashlight
  • Water bottles (switched out bimonthly) or insulated drinking containers
  • Snacks like peanuts
  • At least one blanket and towel
  • Hat/gloves/change of clothes if you travel in cold weather areas
  • Spare tire

It is highly recommended to keep a physical copy of all information in case a cell phone is damaged during the accident and rendered useless. We also recommend against the prepackaged accident preparedness kits as they are typically overpriced and won’t ever contain everything you need. Purchasing your own items, much like shopping for school supplies, is the best way to go.

GPS on Phone or Separate Device

Imagine being in an accident and needing immediate medical attention but not knowing exactly where you are due to either a remote area or concussion symptoms. Wouldn’t it be nice to look at your phone and know immediately where you’re located?

Most iPhones and Android phones come with a prepackaged mapping app. If for some reason you can’t find one on your phone then make sure to get one installed as soon as possible.

Emergency Contacts Easily Accessible on Phone

People don’t generally regularly call their doctor, lawyer or insurance company to shoot the breeze so those numbers might not be easily accessible on your phone. You can save yourself a lot of headache and hassle by making sure 911 and the local police, immediate and secondary family emergency contacts, doctors, a local accident lawyer whether you are a client or not, AAA if you’re a customer, and your insurance company are quickly accessible in your phone’s contacts to offer car accident help and guidance with a single button push.

Understand Your Vehicle and Health Insurance

Many of us are guilty for buying vehicle and health insurance because we legally have to and never take the time to fully understand our coverage. If you’re in an accident and need car accident help, knowing your coverage ahead of time without having to figure out it on top of the emotional stress of an accident is hugely beneficial.

Insurance companies are notorious for presenting your coverage in the equivalent of a short novel. Spend an hour to pluck out the important information you might need such as:

  • Deductibles for health coverage
  • Emergency room, ambulance, tow truck, and out-of-network costs
  • Rental car coverage

Stay Put and Remain Calm

You’ve just been in an automobile or truck accident and are probably in immediate shock as a result. Unless you and your vehicle are literally on fire, do not under any other circumstance exit the vehicle and try your best to remain calm while you assess the situation.

First and foremost your accident will impact vehicles in the immediate vicinity. You see it in the news every now and then; someone gets out of their car after an accident or a good samaritan comes to help and one or both individuals get hit by a car speeding by wasn’t paying attention to the road.

You could also have an injury that will worsen with movement, injure yourself trying to force open a damaged door or window, or injure someone else who sees you struggling to exit and tries to offer assistance.

Move Your Vehicle if Operable

If your vehicle is still operable then it’s a good idea to maneuver it out of traffic lanes and off to the side of the road as long as there is a clear and safe path to do so. This will lessen the probability of another car or truck barreling down the road from slamming into it if they were distracted and not paying attention.

Call The Police and 911

Now that you’re still in your vehicle and calming down a little, it’s time to call the Police and 911. Ask someone else in the vehicle or the first person to arrive at the vehicle to place the call for you if you are unable to make the call due to injury or phone inaccessibility/damage.

Make sure you or whoever is on the phone with the police remains on the line until they arrive at the scene or until the 911 or police operator instructs you to hang up.

Do Not Admit Accident Fault

You may come face-to-face with the other vehicle driver(s) involved in the accident and get engaged in a conversation. Regardless of whether you feel you were at fault in the accident, do not under any circumstance admit fault for the accident to the other driver(s) or authorities. Fault discussion is best left for your attorney.

Exchange Insurance Information

If you followed the emergency kit for your vehicle directions then you’ll have your car insurance information handy. Swap this information with the other driver(s) making sure to get the following back in return:

  • Driver name(s), address and phone number
  • Car(s) make/model/year/license plate number
  • Insurance company and policy number

Talk to Witness(es)

Oftentimes one or more third parties witnessed the accident. You never know when a witness statement or testimony might be needed so it’s best to get their name and phone number at minimum, either using your pen and paper or phone, in case you need to pass the information along to your attorney.

Do Not Talk About Your Injuries

What you say about your injuries at the accident scene to anyone could come back to hurt you in the wallet later on if you underestimate the injuries. If someone asks you how you’re doing or if you’re hurt, stick with vague responses like, “I’m not sure” rather than offering any specifics.

Obviously if the paramedics are helping you at the car accident scene and ask you where you hurt, you tell them! Do not try to self-diagnose yourself; let the professionals do their job.

Car Accident Help Scene

Photograph the Accident Scene

Use your cell phone or backup disposable camera to take extensive pictures and video of the accident scene. These pictures should include the following at minimum:

  • Damage and positioning of your vehicle and the other vehicles
  • Terrain immediately before the accident including skid marks
  • Multiple angles of the accident scene

Remove Personal Belongings From Your Vehicle

If you’re physically able and it’s safe to do so after the accident scene has been secured and the vehicle is still safe to enter, you should remove all your personal belongings from your vehicle. Other people you don’t know will have access to the vehicle once the tow truck hauls it off so it’s best not to invite theft by leaving valuables laying around.

Collect Your Thoughts — Alone

At some point during the accident scene chaos, after you’ve gone through the necessities, take a few moments to stand or sit by yourself and collect your thoughts. Healing Trauma recommends a series of exercises where you rotate between focusing on the first feeling or sensation in your body and them shift that focus to the exact opposite feeling in your body over and over again. This act of Pendulation will help discharge the nervous energy.

If the injuries are so severe that you’re physically or mentally unable to do this at the scene, practice it later when you’re alone and able to do so.

Call Your Doctor

Oftentimes back and neck pain stemming from a car accident don’t show up until several hours or even a day or more after the accident. For both your personal well-being and potential lawsuit, have your doctor check you out as soon as possible after the accident. Your lawyer will need a detailed diagnosis of injuries as part of the evaluation process of your potential injury claim.

Call Your Lawyer

It’s best to err on the side of caution and contact your lawyer as you’re physically able to do so and especially before talking to the insurance company. Your lawyer shouldn’t charge you for initial advice on how to proceed with a potential injury claim and will help you spell out your options, next steps, and help define expectations.

Call Your Insurance Company

You will want to report the accident to your insurance company after you’ve talked to your lawyer. Don’t deliberately avoid getting insurance involved because the damage to your vehicle looks minor to the eye. You have no idea what nightmares are brewing under the body like a bent frame or expensive damaged parts. The former often results in a total loss of the vehicle.

Do Not Talk to Other Driver’s Insurance Company

You may get a phone call from the other driver or drivers’ insurance company inquiring about the accident. You are under no obligation to speak to them and are advised to politely decline the conversation. They are working for the other party or parties, not you.

Document Medical Treatment, Lost Wages and Distress

Your attorney will need to see documentation for all your doctor visits, medication, and wages lost as a result of any car accident injuries. If you choose to file suit then it will be a lot easier to produce documentation, such as a diary, of this information rather than trying to recreate it from receipts or memory.

If you intend to file suit for distress then also document in a journal or other medium every time the injuries impact your normal way of life.

Take Care of Yourself

Different people will experience a varied range of emotions in the hours, days, weeks and even months following an injury accident. One of the worst things you can do is cope by falling into bad habits. Use this unfortunate circumstance as a change for good by balancing your diet and regularly exercising if physically able to do so.

Seek Support From Friends and Family

It is a lot easier to get through a traumatic injury and subsequent physical healing with the support of friends and family. You may feel like being alone most of the time to deal with guilt, but you’d also be amazed how powerful being around those that care for you can be to your mental well-being during difficult times.

Be Patient

Being patient and hoping for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience of a car accident to wash away for good is easier said than done, right? Absolutely. However, knowing beforehand that the healing and legal process can take weeks, months, and sometimes longer depending on the accident and injury severity can mentally help prepare you for the aftermath of an injury accident.

NCAA Reaches Preliminary Settlement on Head Injury Case

The NCAA has reached a preliminary settlement in a class action suit with victims of traumatic head injuries during college sports games. The lawsuit was brought against the organization by former college athletes who wanted the NCAA to institute significant reforms on its head-injury policies.

The settlement indicates a big change in the care and safety of both male and female college athletes in all sports and across all divisions. The settlement will not only apply to former athletes, but also current players and those that play in the future. This settlement issued a new national protocol on how to treat head injuries sustained by players during games and practices. Athletes will no longer be allowed to continue playing after a head injury until a full workup has been conducted, and the player has been declared concussion symptom-free.

Concussions will be taken more seriously by coaches and trainers. Medical personnel will be required to attend at all sporting events. Other precautions have been specifically laid out, and all college teams will be required to comply.

According to the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steve Berman, the preliminary offer will be good for the players. “This offers college athletes another level of protection, which is vitally important to their health. Student-athletes – not just football players – have dropped out of school and suffered huge long-term symptoms because of brain injuries. Anything we can do to enhance concussion management is a very important day for student-athletes,” stated Berman.

Financial Compensation for Athletes That Suffer Head Injuries

The preliminary settlement also establishes a $70 million medical monitoring fund to treat injuries that occur during college sports competitions. This fund would give all former college athletes a chance to receive a neurological screening to examine brain function and get diagnostic support for any potential problems. It would also have doctors look for any signs of brain damage.

While this money would be a much-needed step in the right direction, many still say that this does not do enough to compensate athletes who receive brain damage, because the fund is only used for diagnostic purposes. If damage is found, victims will have to pay for treatment on their own.

The settlement does leave open the possibility to sue for damages in individual cases, but some lawyers worry that this will not be a realistic option. “It’s going to be tough to find a lawyer to fight against the NCAA’s machinery when you’re talking about only $20,000 in damages. This is going to snuff out the vast majority of claims,” says Jay Edelson, a lawyer involved in the suit representing one of the plaintiffs.

Still, the majority of people are cautiously optimistic that this settlement will make significant strides towards protecting athletes, as was the original goal of the class action. All that is left now is to wait and see what the final settlement offer will contain.