Frequently Asked Questions
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What does Virginia law have to say about distracted driving?A new distracted driving law will take effect in Virginia on Jan. 1 2020. The law requires a $125 fine for the first time a driver holds a handheld, personal communication device while driving in the state. This law applies to any road with a speed limit of 35 MPH or higher in the state.
How many Virginians die in distracted driving accidents?According to 2017 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles statistics, there were 208 deaths and 14,656 injuries that year. Many of these preventable accidents happened in southeast Virginia, as well as on I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk. Distracted driving is very dangerous and if it is proven that the driver distraction led to injury of another party, a successful personal injury lawsuit is possible.
What legal options do I have if my child is injured in a school bus accident?Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who injured your child, the school bus driver and/or the school district. It all depends on who was negligent in the accident. Talk to a Virginia or North Carolina personal injury attorney for a free consultation to determine the best path of legal action.
What are other causes of school bus accidents that could result in driver and/or school district liability?School business drivers must go through a lot of driver training to get their CDL, but driver error still occurs. Driver fatigue also can cause accidents. Mechanical failure also is not uncommon and if the bus has a mechanical issue that injures your child, the school district could be held liable.
If my child's school bus driver got distracted and got in an accident, can I sue?Yes. If your child has injuries and it can be shown the bus driver was negligent and was distracted, you could have legal recourse. School bus drivers can be distracted by cell phones, something outside the bus, and children horsing around in the passenger compartment. But the bus driver has a high duty of care in his or her job and must drive safely at all times. If they fail in that duty, they could be held liable for your child's injuries.
What factors lead to drowsy driving accidents?
Most adults require 6-8 hours of sleep each night to function up to their peak physical and mental capacity. Many things prevent people from getting enough sleep, with the most significant problems being
- Working alternate shifts
- Working long hours, especially as a commercial truck driver
- Caring for family members
- Experiencing poor health
- Suffering from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder
- Using medications
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
Missed sleep takes a cumulative toll, but even a single night of insufficient rest and recovery puts a driver at risk for nodding off behind the wheel.
Why is drowsy driving so dangerous?
Driving while struggling to stay awake has the same effect as driving drunk. Reaction time slows, focus slips and controlling the steering wheel and braking becomes difficult.
A car traveling at highway speeds covers the length of a football field in a few seconds, so closing one’s eyes for longer than blink creates extreme hazards. During that brief period, a drowsy driver can miss a stop sign or red light, drift out of his or her lane, or come up on a line of slowing or stopped traffic.
Plus, a driver who jerks awake to immediately see an impending crash is likely to respond inappropriately. Panic braking and jerking on the steering wheel cause many collisions.
How many crashes do drowsy drivers cause?
Estimates of the effects of drowsy driving vary depending on how statistics are collected. No research has yielded good news.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected police reports from across the United States and determined that falling asleep at the wheel contributes to causing about 100,000 crashes each year. Those wrecks kill more than 1,550 people and leave around 71,000 others injured.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety monitored more 3,500 drivers with in-vehicle cameras for 40 months and found that nodding off was a factor in up to 9.5 percent of crashes. That would make drowsiness three times risker than the NHTSA figures suggest.
What Damages Can Railroad Workers Recover in a FRSA Lawsuit?
Depending on the facts of his or her case, a person who suffers retaliation for reporting unsafe or illegal practices can request reinstatement/rehiring, back pay, lost future earnings, monetary damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.
OSHA handles investigations into Federal Railroad Safety Act complaints. To pursue a claim, a railroad employee, contractor or subcontractor must file a claim within 180 days of when a retaliatory action such as firing or demotion occurred. A FRSA claim succeeds when evidence shows that the retaliatory action followed from the report of unsafe or illegal practices.
How Does FRSA Protect Railroad Workers?
According to a factsheet distributed by OSHA, the Federal Railroad Safety Act, or FRSA, exists to ensure that “individuals working for railroad carriers and their contractors and subcontractors are protected from retaliation for reporting potential safety or security violations to their employers or to the government.”
Protected activities under FRSA include, but are not limited to,
- Reporting injuries
- Reporting unsafe conditions and practices
- Filing claims for injury or illness compensation and damages
- Refusing to perform dangerous tasks without proper safeguards
- Assisting with an investigation into unsafe conditions and practices
- Assisting with investigations into alleged violations of laws and regulations
- Refusing orders to violate laws or regulations
Because of FELA, no one who performs any work for a railroad corporation can be fired, demoted, reassigned, threatened or disciplined for engaging in protected activities. A company that does retaliate against a whistleblower can be sued for reinstatement, lost wages and monetary damages.