seattle car wreckWe read about motor vehicle accidents everyday that take place in Seattle or the greater King County area.  Some of these accidents involve simple property damage.  Many others deal with injury, disability, and even death…to both motorists and pedestrians alike.

Motor vehicle crashes undoubtedly can cause pain and heartache to individuals and families.  The Phillip Law Firm definitely has the experience to understand this.  Nonetheless, a recent study produced by the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) informs us that there are other losses suffered when it comes to motor vehicle accidents.  These losses are economic losses.  They impact us all as a nation and the costs are staggering.

Almost $900 Billion Worth of Economic Loss Every Year

Let’s run some numbers for a brief moment.  The U.S. DOT has recently concluded that motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $871 billion in economic loss every single year.  Yes, $871 billion.  This is a loss we all incur no matter if we were or weren’t involved in a motor vehicle accident.  This figure includes $277 billion in economic costs and $594 billion in harm from the loss of lives and the pain, suffering and decreased quality of life endured by individuals due to accident related injuries.

Of the $277 billion in economic costs, this figure equates to approximately two percent of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product.  Economic costs here refer to costs related to: productivity losses, property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs, and costs to employers.  Nearly 75 percent of these costs are absorbed via taxes, insurance premiums, travel delay, exorbitant fuel consumption, and environmental concerns.  These costs are essentially absorbed by us all no matter our driving record, location, health status, insurance carrier, etc.

Drunk Driving, Speeding and Driving While Distracted

According to the U.S. DOT study, three specific motor vehicle accident causes are responsible for the greatest total amount of economic cost to our nation.  The first is drunk driving as intoxicated driving related accidents cost us all approximately $50 billion every year.  This figure translates into an average annual cost of about $158 for every person in America.

Next up, speeding.  We all know that speeding can kill, but according to the U.S. DOT study, it also costs.  Motor vehicle crashes involving speeding cost the nation $59 billion every year.  This figure translates into an average yearly cost of about $191 for every person in the United States.

Finally, we have to mention distracted drivers.  The U.S. DOT study tells us that accidents caused by distracted drivers cost our nation almost $50 billion every year.  This translates into an average yearly cost of about $150 per person in America.

Need a quick tab?

  • Drunk driving related accidents…………….$158/yr
  • Speeding related accidents………………….$191/yr
  • Distracted driving related accidents…………$150/yr

The total is?  The total is almost $500 every year that every single person in America incurs due to the top causes for motor vehicle accidents.  Once again, this cost is incurred by us all.  This is regardless of the fact that we might have actually been involved in an auto related accident or not.

What to Do?

As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Or, be safe and smart when operating a motor vehicle.  Our firm deals with irresponsible motorists on a daily basis.  Through experience, we understand that these drivers cause damaging and even deadly accidents that have profound and unforgiving repercussions to families and loved ones.  We as a firm wish to avoid these repercussions.  Granted, one of our main goals is dedicated towards seeking justice for those injured; but, a closely related goal is justice for all motorists.

Image Credit: Tony Alter via Flickr


It seems drivers are constantly bombarded with reminders not to use their cellphones when behind the wheel, but current statistics show that some are still not listening. The 2014 edition of “Injury Facts,” an annual report assembled by the National Safety Council (NSC), shows that cellphone use by motorists was a factor in 26 percent of the nation’s car accidents in 2013, a slight increase from the previous year.

The greatest number of accidents was attributed to distracted driving due to talking on both hand-held and hands-free cellphones, while only 5 percent of crashes were blamed on texting.

Together with Texas A&M research institute’s “Voice-to-Text Driver Distraction Study,” the NSC report cautions drivers that talking can actually be more dangerous than texting while driving, and that using a talk-to-text feature is not an acceptable solution. Interestingly, the Texas A&M survey discovered that for most phone-related tasks, manual texting took slightly less time than did the talk-to-text method. However, both tasks affected driver performance nearly the same.

In the NSC report, tasks were rated on a cognitive distraction scale in relation to the effect they have on a driver’s mental workload. Talking on a hand-held phone while driving has a 2.45 workload, using a hands-free device while driving has a 2.27 workload rating, and using the talk-to-text application while driving carried a 3.06 workload rating.

As early as 2009, studies have been published, such as one in the Journal of Safety Research, that suggest hands-free cellphone use has become a driving force in cellphone related driving distractions, and that they serve as no less a distraction than hand-held phones.

Car Accident Statistics

Data collected on car accidents and fatalities caused by cellphone use is said to be under-reported because of drivers’ lack of willingness to confess to cellphone use, but according to NSC’s website, there were 245,358 car accidents involving cellphones in the first three months of this year.

Using data from 2011, NSC and Nationwide Insurance collaborated to report the most accurate number of cellphone-related car accident fatalities- 350 fatal crashes in 2011. The NSC goes on to report that the number of drivers observed manipulating hand-held devices increased from 2010 to 2011.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, twelve states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have made it illegal to use hand-held devices while driving, and forty-three states have banned texting and driving.


Buses are a fairly safe mode of transportation in Seattle, and chartering a bus is certainly an efficient way to ferry groups of tourists from one location to another. As statistically safe as they are, however, accidents can still happen, and sometimes lead to insurance claims and lawsuits.

In the eyes of federal and most state laws, a bus is considered a “common carrier,” an entity whose business it is to move people or goods from one place to another for a fee. In addition to tour buses, school buses, commercial buses, taxicabs, commercial airplanes, cruise ships, and some trucks are included in this designation. Because they are responsible for the safety of passengers, common carriers must be conscientious and exercise the utmost diligence in regards to this obligation. Examples of negligence that often result in successful lawsuits against common carriers include:

  • Poorly or inadequately maintained buses and equipment
  • Overloaded or improperly loaded buses
  • Bus operators who are overtired, under the influence of intoxicants, or inadequately trained

When negligence results in injuries, victims may sue for damages. However, if the bus driver was exercising a reasonable degree of care and the bus accident happened as the result of some other vehicle being driven recklessly, a court would most likely not find the bus driver negligent.

Determining Liability in a Tour Bus Accident

Any one of several different entities could be found liable in a tour bus accident including, the tour company, the bus company, even one of the various locations at which the bus stops. Sometimes, multiple parties could be held liable for contributory negligence if they had any part in causing the accident.

Tour companies, which hire bus companies with a documented history of safety violations or negligent activity, could share liability with the bus company if an accident ensues and injuries result. Likewise, bus companies have a duty to maintain reasonably safe buses in their fleet, employ drivers and operators who meet basic requirements, and generally demonstrate its fitness as a common carrier. If a passenger trips or falls at a tour destination after leaving the bus, the venue operator may be liable for the passenger’s injuries.


Amusement park accidents get a lot of media coverage, but it might actually be the less adrenaline-boosting attractions that cause the most injuries. Although thrill rides and roller coasters might seem like the rides that would most commonly result in injuries, a recent study has shown that inflatable bounce house are the major source of theme park accidents. Trampoline parks have also come under scrutiny, and lawsuits have been filed, after serious injuries were reported.

In a recent study, researchers in Canada collected information from the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), reviewing hospital emergency room injury reports linked to amusement rides. The researchers discovered that 42 percent of the injuries reported were attributed to inflatable bounce attractions and 20 percent were linked to roller coasters. Carousel-related injuries were third and bumper car-related injuries came in fourth on the list. Of the total 13,000 injuries included in the report, one-third of them were not attributed to a specific ride.

Owners of the increasingly popular trampoline parks might want to take head of this study. Lawsuits alleging park visitors were severely injured due to problems at the park have been filed against various trampoline parks, which are attractions centered on bouncing on trampolines.

In particular, one lawsuit was filed against a trampoline park in Houston when a 16-year-old fell through a tear in the trampoline canvas, hitting his head on the concrete floor underneath. According to a local news station, the teen sustained skull fractures, seizures, and bleeding on the brain. He survived the accident, but his family now says he has suffered long-term injury, and no longer takes honor courses in school.

An investigation by a Denver news channel turned up evidence of dozens of calls to paramedics from area trampoline parks, responding to reports of fractures, concussions, and neck injuries.

Currently, trampoline parks are unregulated for the most part, however, officials in some states are reportedly looking into enforcement of the parks.


Its common knowledge that serious car accidents can be linked to poor vehicle maintenance, and in light of that, April has been designated as National Car Care Month. The Car Care Council has made a list of checkpoints to help keep your vehicle running at optimum performance year-round. Here is what they suggest:

  • Check all fluids and refill them if necessary. This includes any engine oil, power steering fluids, brake fluid, transmission fluid, antifreeze/coolant, and windshield washer fluid.
  • Look carefully at all belts and hoses for signs of undue wear, and to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed or loose.
  • Inspect the battery connections to ensure they are clean, tight and corrosion-free. Replace the battery if necessary.
  • Check the brake system each and every year, and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change. If your brake pads need to be replaced, don’t delay.
  • Examine the exhaust system for any leaks. Be sure to watch for signs of damaged and broken supports or hangers if there is any unusual noise because exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected immediately.
  • Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system because proper heating and cooling performance is crucial for interior comfort and for defrosting and other safety considerations.
  • Pay close attention to the steering and suspension system annually. This includes examining all shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related parts.
  • Examine the tires, looking for bulges and bald spots. Also check tire pressure and tread wear. Uneven wear can indicate a need for wheel alignment.
  • Check the wipers and lights to be sure you can see and be seen. Check wiper blades and replace worn ones so that you can see clearly when driving during precipitation. Make sure that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly.
  • Take your vehicle for a tune-up to ensure the engine is delivering its best balance of power and fuel economy, while producing the lowest level of emissions.

Drivers have a responsibility to ensure that they are not putting their lives, or the lives of others at risk by driving an unsafe vehicle. A thorough inspection of your car or truck this spring will keep your car safe and dependable, while helping to ensure the safety of those who share the road with you.


Sleep deprivation is a known risk factor for car crashes. In fact, researchers estimate that drowsy driving is responsible for 20 percent of all car crashes in the United States. But, up until now, studies have not focused on young drivers. Researchers point out that young people should be a target of education efforts to eliminate drowsy driving because their alertness, mood and physical performance are more adversely affected by sleep deprivation than older, more experienced drivers with similar sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation contributes to car crashes because it impairs elements of human performance that are critical to safe driving. Sleepiness reduces optimum reaction times, causes delayed responding in attention-based tasks, and increases the time it takes to process and integrate information. Even moderately sleepy drivers can have a performance-impairing increase in reaction time that will prohibit stopping in time to avoid a collision.

The new study involved more than 19,000 young, newly-licensed drivers living in New South Wales, Australia, who fielded questions about their sleep habits, including weeknights and weekends. Then researchers tracked the participants, aged 17-24, for two years, and obtained police reports to document car accidents.

The drivers who reported sleeping six or fewer hours per night were about 20 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash, compared with those who got more than six hours of sleep a night. Among the sleep-deprived, car crashes were most likely to occur between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Even after researchers considered other factors that affect people’s risk of a crash, such as age, number of driving hours per week, risky driving behavior such as speeding and a history of car accidents, the same findings held.

The researchers did note however, that participants were only asked about their sleep habits once over the course of the study, so the exact number of hours participants slept the day before they were involved in a crash is unknown.

Still, researchers hope the new findings will increase understanding of the impact of reduced hours of sleep on crash risk, and pinpoint subgroups of young drivers to facilitate education.


According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), every year an estimated 292 people are killed and 18,000 are injured when drivers back into them. These types of accidents usually occur in driveways or parking lots, and young children and the elderly are most likely to be killed in such crashes. The risk of backing over someone is increased by the large blind zones of many vehicles, which don’t allow drivers to see objects behind the bumper, in particular, those objects, which are low to the ground. Pickup trucks and SUVs, which have the largest blind zones, are typically involved in more backover crashes than cars. According to a study conducted by IIHS, rear cameras appear to be the most promising technology available for thwarting such crashes.

The IIHS study, conducted with volunteer drivers in an empty parking lot, measured the blind zones of various vehicles in relation to different size children represented by markings on a moveable pole. Mostly, small cars were found to have the best visibility while large SUVs had the worst. Generally speaking, without the added technology, the larger the vehicle, the worse its visibility. However, with the rearview cameras, the blind zones of vehicles were reduced by about 90% on average.

How Drivers Use the Technology In a related analysis of the effectiveness of rearview cameras, drivers were not told the true purpose of the study. The drivers were told they were to evaluate a vehicle’s entertainment and information system, then after adjusting the radio and reading from a navigation screen, they were instructed to back the vehicle out of its parking spot and drive to their own vehicle. As they backed out, a foam cutout of a child-size test dummy was placed in the backing path of the vehicle.

Drivers with the rearview camera had the fewest collisions with the stationary object, but it did not prevent all collisions, even when properly used. The study found that weather and lighting conditions, such as shade, could likely affect the usefulness of cameras.

Nevertheless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated that rearview cameras are the only technology available that meets a congressional mandate to expand the required field of view behind a vehicle, and will be adding the cameras to the list of recommended features in its vehicle safety ratings.


Everyone is aware of the dangers of texting and driving, but for some reason, many drivers continue to do it. Your phone alerts you to a new message, and you instinctively look to see what it is. Regardless of how important you think that message might be, it is much more important to keep your eyes on the road. The few seconds you look away from the road to respond to that message could change someone’s life forever.

Celebrities and politicians, alike, have launched campaigns in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. More states have begun adopting anti-texting laws as statistics continue to emphasize the perils of texting while driving. Currently, thirty-nine states have adopted ‘no texting and driving’ policies, and state lawmakers in California, as well as ten others, have taken those policies to the next level by banning hand-held phones, requiring drivers to keep their hands free for driving.

Texting and Driving Statistics There are many alarming statistics on texting and driving. Here are just a few:

• Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be in an accident as those who don’t • In 2011, 23% of auto accidents involved a driver using a cell phone • Half of children ages 12-17 say they have been a passenger in a car where the driver was texting • One-third of teen drivers ages 16-17 report that they text and drive and 27% of adults admit to texting while driving • Fifteen percent of teens say they have seen their parents text while driving • Seventy-seven percent of teens think they can safely text while driving

Remember, no matter how important the message seems it is not worth risking an accident. While driving, keep your phone out of reach to avoid checking the message, and wait until you are stopped safely somewhere to look at your phone. If you have a passenger in the car with you, let them read the message to you, and have them respond. Don’t risk your future on a text message.


Experts agree that even when external factors are applied, human error is responsible for most car accidents, at least to some degree. Most people equate human error with drunk driving, speeding or distracted driving, and while these certainly are leading causes of crashes, they are not the only ones. Here are a few facts about car crashes that may surprise you:

  1. Rubbernecking: According to a 2003 study by Virginia Commonwealth University Transportation safety Center, rubbernecking was the number one cause of car accidents that year.
  2. Driver Fatigue: Lack of sleep can have a profound impact on any driver. According to the Department of Transportation, staying awake for 18 hours in a row is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent.
  3. Night Driving: Reduced visibility and fatigue can make it much more difficult to stay alert, and to judge speed, distance, and depth. The DOT recommends that you avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. because of reduced visibility, and between 2 and 4 p.m. because so many people suffer reduced energy levels at that time of day.
  4. Aggressive Drivers: Some drivers act as if they own the road with little regard for the safety of others. These drivers often fail to yield, change lanes frequently, fail to use turn signals, ignore traffic signs, tailgate other vehicles, and even verbally abuse other drivers. Their actions can be annoying and very dangerous. In 2011, speeding (a form of aggressive driving) was a contributing factor in 30% of all fatal crashes.
  5. Teenage Drivers: The primary danger with teenage drivers is their lack of experience, which can lead to poor decision-making. Teens are more likely to speed and not use their safety belts. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States.
  6. Poor Car Maintenance: Poor vehicle maintenance on the part of the owner can be a major cause of car accidents. Drivers should check lights, tire tread and pressure, and brake pads and lines on a regular basis. Avoid making modifications to your vehicle without the supervision of a professional. Brake failure can contribute to up to 5% of accidents a year.

The manner in which a claimant handles a pre-existing condition can greatly affect the outcome of an injury claim. It is imperative that clients disclose all previous injuries to their attorney at the beginning of any casework. Failure to disclose this information can discredit the plaintiff’s word and drastically reduce the value of the overall claim.

Most everyone has some pre-existing condition in his or her medical history, whether it is from an earlier car accident or an old college sporting injury. It is important to remember, however, that if the pre-existing condition was not causing you any discomfort prior to the car accident, the person at fault for the accident is still fully responsible for injuries you sustained in the accident, or to any degree the accident worsened your pre-existing condition.

If your pre-existing condition was causing you discomfort at the time of the accident, the insurance company does have the right to reduce the value of your settlement. However, you are still entitled to compensation equivalent to the difference in pain level before and after the accident.

Advantages to Pre-existing Injuries

Even though a pre-existing condition has the potential to complicate a personal injury claim, there are also distinct advantages. If the claimant has suffered a pre-existing injury, they may be in a weakened state, thus making them more prone to injury, and worsening the pre-existing condition. This, so-to-speak, “soft-shell” plaintiff argument is especially effective in a low-impact car accident where a jury may question how the accident could have caused the claimed injury.

The opportunity for a car accident attorney to compare past medical records with current ones to objectively substantiate how the accident aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition is another advantage. Based on diagnostic tests taken years apart, a medical expert can testify how the accident adversely affected the pre-existing condition. Clinical records can also be used to compare pain level, extent of necessary care, or disability before and after the accident. If a plaintiff has become permanently disabled, and at least a degree of that is attributable to the pre-existing injury, a medical expert can ascertain the extent to which the accident worsened the disability.

By using medical records, an attorney can use your pre-existing injury to your advantage. By showing that your weakened condition made you more susceptible to new or worsened injuries, they can assist you in recovering the appropriate amount of compensation to which you are entitled.