Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Connecticut Legal Blog

Autonomous vehicles may cause car accidents, injuries

Drivers in Connecticut and across the United States who use autonomous vehicles may be interested to know of the limitations the cars pose. These limitations were brought to the public's attention in 2018 when a Tesla Model S vehicle set on Autopilot crashed into a firetruck that was pulled over to the side of the road in Los Angeles.

Though a human can easily spot a firetruck and discern that the lights and sirens mean that there is an accident ahead, the same is not the same for vehicles with driver-assist systems, such as Autopilot. Vehicles with this type of technology use cameras and radars to scan the road ahead to gauge what actions should be taken. Experts say that the technology is often better at recognizing moving traffic than parked vehicles.

More than any other car, Crosstreks are accident-prone

Insurify, the vehicle insurance comparison website, has surveyed newer vehicles in Connecticut and the rest of the United States on how frequently they are involved in at-fault crashes. It used its database of more than 1.6 million insurance quotes to do this. The result is a list of 10 accident-prone vehicles. At the top is the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek.

When it comes to crashworthiness and crash avoidance, the Crosstrek was awarded the highest possible rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. It's true that in the majority of accidents, the occupants of the Crosstrek can walk away without serious injuries, but why it's so accident-prone remains a mystery. Crashes affect 25.81% of Crosstreks currently on the road.

Some of the key factors in workplace safety

Connecticut employers need to do all they can to create a safe work environment. There are several key factors in this, and one of them is maintaining good indoor air quality. This applies to all industries, though the details will be different.

Certain industrial chemicals like benzene must be regulated in their use. Many buildings built before the 1970s will contain asbestos, especially in materials like tiles, pipes and roofing sheets. Some 1.3 million workers are exposed to asbestos every year in the U.S. In wood industries, there is also the danger of silica exposure. Silica can be found in dust and, if inhaled over long periods of time, can cause lung disease. Employers in office buildings need to protect against exposure to pollen and mold.

Study finds older drivers more likely to drive distracted

Though younger drivers in Connecticut get a bad reputation for becoming distracted by technology while driving, a new study shows that this belief may be unfounded. The report found that older drivers are more likely to be distracted by technology.

Researchers from the University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at the number of times drivers looked away from the road to perform simple tasks involving technology. The study found that drivers between 55 and 75 years of age looked away from the road eight seconds longer on average than drivers between 21 and 36. The study also showed that older drivers took 4.7 to 8.6 seconds longer to use in-vehicle navigation systems than younger drivers.

Construction work in the summer: the top dangers

To create safer job sites, it's important for construction workers and employers in Connecticut to understand the dangers of working outdoors during summer. The top five hazards are fatigue, heat-related illness, dehydration, sun exposure and cars in roadside construction zones.

Heat-related illnesses include heat rash and heatstroke. Extended sun exposure can lead to sunburns in the short term and skin cancer in the long run. Of course, extreme heat will also lead to more fatigue. This can make workers listless, slow to react and more prone to bad judgments. Roadside construction zones are often deadly, with NIOSH stating that nearly 100 workers die every year in them.

July Fourth tops holidays for number of drunk driving deaths

The Fourth of July tops all the other major holidays in the U.S. when it comes to the number of drunk driving fatalities. Connecticut residents may also be intrigued to hear that the DUI fatality rate fluctuates based on what day the holiday falls on. Researchers from ValuePenguin have gathered data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come to these conclusions.

NHTSA reported 1,192 DUI fatalities on the Fourth of July between 2010 and 2017. The fatality rate was calculated as 42.4 deaths per day. Following this was Memorial Day with a total of 1,105 deaths during that same period and a fatality rate of 39.5. Labor Day was third with a rate of 38.1.

Limits and rules for wrongful death claims

In Connecticut and other states, people only have a certain amount of time to take legal action related to wrongful death. When this time period runs out, the party loses the right to file a lawsuit. This legal rule is known as the statute of limitations. The timer on the statute of limitations begins when the person bringing suit learns about the wrongful death or when a court determines that they should have reasonably learned about the cause of death.

Other factors can also limit the amount of time a decedent can sue for wrongful death. In some jurisdictions, claims involving product liability may be limited starting at the date of death regardless of when the cause of death was discovered. The decedent may even be barred from filing a claim at all if the product has reached a certain age. Limitations also arise in cases where wrongful death claims stem from personal injury cases.

Summer presents teen drivers with "100 deadliest days"

Residents of Connecticut may be wondering if there is a time of the year when teen drivers are at a particularly high risk for a car crash. That time happens to be the summer since teens, being on summer vacation, are out on the road more, and more drivers are liable to become impaired after parties, such as those during the Fourth of July celebrations.

To be more specific, the 100 days between Memorial Day, which marks the unofficial start of summer, and Labor Day are considered the worst of the whole year for teen drivers. This is according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA states that the risk for a fatal car crash involving a teen driver goes up 15%, on average, during this period.

Injury risk rises for inexperienced miners working long hours

Mining activities in Connecticut present many workplace hazards due to the nature of the job. A new research study that analyzed over 500,000 injury reports from the Mine Safety and Health Administration concluded that long work hours and employees with limited experience exacerbated the risks to extraction workers.

University researchers studied reports spanning the years 1983 to 2015. Injured employees working shifts of nine hours or longer accounted for 9.6% of accident injuries. In 1983, the rate of accidents for people clocked in for at least nine hours was 5.5%. By 2015, workers on long shifts sustained 13.9% of the injuries. The chances of dying on the job increased by 32% for workers on these long shifts. Additionally, people working long hours were associated with a 73% greater chance of involvement in accidents that resulted in injuries.

Memes, other social media a frequent distraction for drivers

Drivers in Connecticut and across the U.S. are using their phones and other mobile devices more. Though most drivers acknowledge the danger of being distracted behind the wheel, they engage in it anyway. This appears to be one finding of an online study from the market research firm Wakefield Research. Nearly 2,000 U.S. drivers responded to it; below are some of the results.

Of those surveyed, 99% ranked phone use among the top three distractions for a driver. Almost half said that distracted driving is their top concern on the road. The majority were critical of other drivers who drove distracted with 89% saying they would leave a bad rating on ride-hailing drivers who text behind the wheel.

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