Since 2011, 21 Iowa bicyclists have been killed in collisions with cars and, according to a review of five years worth of crash data, Iowa drivers who fatally strike bicyclists rarely serve time in jail. Instead many will likely pay a relatively small fine and have their licenses suspended.
The lack of harsher punishments is frustrating to bicycle advocates, but reckless driving charges, which would result in stiffer consequences, are difficult to prove. After reviewing Iowa laws following a fatal accident involving a distracted driver, one Iowa county attorney was perplexed that texting and driving does not qualify as reckless. In fact, unless drivers are drunk, high, drag racing or fleeing from police, their behavior isn’t legally considered reckless in the state.
Iowa’s weak punishments for drivers who hit cyclists are reflected in the state’s mediocre national rankings for bike friendliness, which saw the state drop recently to 28th from 25th. Iowa lacks a number of laws that other states have adopted to protect bicyclists. Among them, a mandated 3-foot safe-passing zone or laws that prohibit motorists from opening their doors as cyclists approach.
While Iowa legislators hesitate to adopt laws to protect bicyclists, the conflict between motorists and cyclists about who belongs on Iowa roads continues. With bike season ramping-up across the state, motorists and bicyclists should exercise caution to avoid an accident. If you or a family member has been injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident, contact the Des Moines Personal Injury Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help.
Source: The Des Moines Register, “When Drivers Kill Cyclists — Small Fines, No Jail”, by MacKenzie Elmer, April 25, 2016.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. New technology has made it all too easy to text, email, update social media or make phone calls while driving, which all increase the likelihood of a car crash.
There are three main types of distraction including visual, which requires taking your eyes off the road; manual, which involves taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive, which is taking your mind off of the task of driving. Among the types of distracted driving, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Many of these incidences involve the use of a smartphone.
Sadly, many distracted driving accidents involve young, inexperienced drivers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash and drivers in their 20’s overall, represent 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes.
The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses, particularly young drivers who regularly communicate on smart phones and may not appreciate the risk. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver, contact the Des Moines Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help.
Des Moines Area Rapid Transit (DART) has a responsibility to provide safe, reliable service that does not endanger passengers, other motorists, pedestrians or bicyclists. Unfortunately, DART collisions do occur, sometimes causing serious injury to people or damage to property.
This past January, a DART bus crashed into a woman’s living room at the corner of East Douglas Avenue and Cambridge Street causing minor injuries to passengers and the driver and substantial damage to the woman’s home. Since 2007, there have been 7 pedestrian accidents in downtown Des Moines involving DART commuter transport vehicles, some of which resulted in serious injury to the pedestrians.
Some of the reasons that bus drivers get into accidents may be linked to driver negligence or recklessness, safety violations, lack of training, failure to yield to pedestrians or other motorists, driving impaired (fatigue, health issue or under the influence of alcohol and drugs) or poor bus maintenance.
A Transit Cooperative Research Program study found that bus collisions occur most often when buses turn at intersections, 69 percent of which are left hand turns. As a result many cities are adopting rules that require drivers to adopt a turn-and-honk policy and have placed limits on left hand turns in densely populated areas during peak times.
If you or a family member is injured in an Iowa bus accident, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the liable party to recover financial compensation for your accident. Contact the Des Moines Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help.
Long term exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent tinnitus or hearing loss. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work every year. Loss of hearing in one ear or in both ears can occur when an employee is continually exposed to loud noise, such as loud machinery and tools. Loss of hearing can also occur when a worker is exposed to a singular event, such as an explosion. If you experience hearing loss while working in a noisy environment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
In the United States, over 11% of the U.S. working population has hearing difficulty and roughly 24% of the hearing loss is caused by occupational exposures. Around 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise each year. Employees of mining, construction and manufacturing industries have the highest risk for hearing loss, particularly those engaged in highway, street and bridge construction.
Hearing loss is considered a scheduled member disability, meaning that your entitlement is based upon the body part injured. For loss of hearing in one ear, the maximum value is 50 weeks; for both ears 175 weeks. If your hearing loss is something less than a complete loss of hearing, then you are entitled to that percentage times the number of weeks.
Hearing loss and tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears) can affect your job performance and your everyday life. If you believe that your hearing loss was caused by noise exposure at work, filing a Workers’ Compensation claim with your employer to get the benefits you are entitled to is the first step. It is also important to contact a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer to make sure you receive all of the benefits you deserve under Iowa law. Contact the Law Offices of John T. Hemminger for help.
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