Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Personal Injury Laws in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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What are the dangers of Indiana hazmat trucks?
We see large tankers carrying hazardous materials on Indiana roads every day. We may not know what’s in the containers, but we know we don’t want to come in contact with whatever it is. When one of these trucks crashes and hazardous material is released, motorists are in danger of more than just broken bones. Exposure to chemicals could cause a variety of ailments, including chemical burns, respiratory damage, eye damage, and organ failure, and the trucker may not be the only liable party.
What Are Hazmat Trucks Carrying?
In Indiana, hazardous materials are grouped by several classifications, depending on risks associated with them. Trucks are required by law to communicate the risks through signage on the tank indicating what is being transported. The driver is also required to carry shipping papers and emergency response information. Trucks in Indiana may be transporting the following materials:
- Class 1: Explosives, including dynamite, flares, fireworks, and ammunition
- Class 2: Flammable or toxic gases, including propane, helium, and compressed fluorine
- Class 3: Flammable liquids, such as gasoline
- Class 4: Flammable solids, such as ammonium picrate, white phosphorus, and sodium hydroxide
- Class 5: Oxidizers and organic peroxides, such as ammonium nitrate and methyl ethyl ketone
- Class 6: Poison and infectious substances, such as potassium cyanide and anthrax virus
- Class 7: Radioactive substances, such as uranium
- Class 8: Corrosives, such as battery fluid
- Class 9: Miscellaneous hazardous materials, such as PCBs
If a hazmat truck crashes and releases any of these materials, even those not directly involved in the crash could suffer injuries.
Who Is Liable for a Hazmat Truck Spill?
In the case of a hazmat truck crash, liability for damages will have to be determined. An investigation into the trucker’s actions, maintenance and repair records on the truck, and actions on the part of the shipper of the hazardous materials must be conducted. If the trucker’s actions caused the crash, but the hazardous materials he was hauling caused most of the harm, there may be a shared responsibility.
Our Indiana Truck Accident Attorneys Will Represent Your Interests
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a hazmat truck crash, you need a law firm that will pursue every possible liable party on your behalf to get you the compensation you need to recover from your losses. Call Keller & Keller when you want tenacious, experienced representation.
Why do I need a lawyer for my New Mexico semi-truck accident?
If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident in New Mexico, you are already at a disadvantage. Not only are you in pain, but you are probably missing work and have a long road to recovery ahead of you. You want to make sure that the negligent truck driver and the trucking company pay you fully and fairly for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The trucking company likely has a legal team with years of experience handling the many accidents their drivers are involved in, so you should have the same advantage of having an experienced team behind you. Crashes with commercial vehicles are not like car accidents and should not be handled the same way.
How Keller & Keller Can Help Your Recovery
When you hire the experienced truck accident attorneys at Keller & Keller to represent you in your claim against a negligent truck driver, we will strengthen your case by doing the following:
- Conducting a thorough investigation. It is critical that truck accident cases are investigated as soon as possible. Witnesses need to be interviewed before their memories fade and evidence needs to be preserved before it disappears. Our experienced team of investigators will file the necessary paperwork to block the destruction of key pieces of evidence, including driver logs and the truck’s electronic data recorder, to support your claim for compensation.
- Standing up to aggressive insurance companies. The trucking company’s insurer has one goal: to save themselves and their insured money. Most commercial trucks carry over $1 million in insurance, so there is a great deal of money on the line. You need someone on your side who is not afraid to stand up to the insurance company and demand the settlement you will need to make up for your losses.
- Fighting claims of shared liability. One way the trucker’s insurer will try to reduce its liability is to pin at least part of the blame on you. New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence law means your recovery will be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault. For example, if you are found to be 50 percent to blame for the accident, your settlement will be cut in half. Our attorneys will not allow the trucker’s legal team to influence determination of liability. We will fight to protect your recovery.
Get a Free Analysis of Your New Mexico Truck Accident
When you have been injured in a crash with a commercial semi-truck, call us as soon as possible. Our experienced team of attorneys and investigators will be able to make sure that you get the assistance you deserve. From our office in Albuquerque, we're proud to serve injured victims of trucking accidents throughout all of New Mexico.
What are the most common types of New Mexico truck accidents?
Traveling on I-40 or I-25 in New Mexico, you see plenty of commercial semi-trucks passing through Albuquerque. In fact, I-40 is one of the most dangerous sections of interstate in the country, due in large part to its heavy use by semi-trucks making their way across the country. When you are aware of the kinds of accidents semi-trucks can cause, you may be able to avoid becoming the victim of one.
Types of Truck Accidents Common in New Mexico
Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck, or a combination of these issues. Because of their size and weight, there are many different types of accidents that can result, including:
- Jackknife accidents. Jackknifing is a term used to describe what happens when the back end or trailer portion of a truck swings around and creates a fold or an angle between the trailer and the cab. This happens when truck drivers are speeding or following too closely to be able to stop suddenly.
- Underride accidents. Because truck trailers are higher off the ground than most other vehicles on the roadway, cars traveling next to or behind the truck can end up pinned underneath the trailer when the truck stops suddenly. These kinds of crashes are often fatal for the occupants of the car.
- Unsecured cargo accidents. A fully loaded semi-truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. If the cargo is not loaded and secured properly, it can fall into the roadway. This can be very dangerous if the truck is carrying hazardous material. Another common accident caused by improperly loaded cargo is overturning. When a truck is attempting to make a turn, it may be thrown off balance by improperly loaded cargo in its trailer.
- Truck driver negligence. Some of the most common examples of truck driver negligence include aggressive driving, drug or alcohol abuse, inexperience, criminal behavior, speeding, texting while driving, unsafe lane movements, and driver drowsiness.
- Failure to maintain the truck. Trucks are driven thousands of miles a week and because of this, it is critical that they are regularly examined and maintained by a trained mechanic. Common problems that can result in serious accidents include brake failure, work tires, defective equipment, improper reflectors and worn out locks and load straps.
- Employer negligence. Employers of truck drivers have a legal obligation to ensure that their drivers are qualified. This means that they have a duty to perform random drug testing, conduct background checks, and take measures to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and licensed. Federal and state regulations require that companies annually review each trucker’s driving record, which includes checking for any traffic violations.
When You Are Injured, You Need a New Mexico Truck Accident Attorney
If you were injured in any of these types of truck accidents in New Mexico, call the truck accident attorneys in our Albuquerque office. We have the experts you need on your side to investigate the crash and support your claim for compensation.
What should I do when I see a reckless truck driver?
Seeing a 40-ton tractor-trailer in front of you swerve off the road or drift out of his lane can be frightening to witness and, if you’re smart, you will back off to avoid a potential collision. However, you can do more to prevent the trucker from harming someone else. When you see a reckless driver, you should report him to the police and to his employer.
How to Spot a Reckless Driver
We’ve all taken our eyes off the road for a second to turn up the heat or set the cruise control and may even swerve out of our lane in the process, but when a driver is drunk, fatigued, or purposely driving aggressively, his behavior should be easy to spot. Look for these signs to see if you are dealing with a dangerous truck driver:
- Driving too fast or too slow
- Weaving in and out of cars
- Drifting out of a lane or driving between lanes
- Excessive braking
If you have been driving behind a truck for several minutes and have witnessed these actions repeatedly, you should report his driving to the state police.
How to Report a Dangerous Driver
The first thing to consider is whether you can safely report a dangerous driver without becoming one yourself. You should either have a passenger do the reporting or pull over when it is safe to do so. If someone has already been hurt or is in immediate danger, you should call 911. If there is no immediate danger as far as you can tell and a passenger is able to help you, look up the nearest Indiana State Police post and call their 800 number. You should try to give them as much of the following information as possible:
- Your location, including nearest mile marker or exit if on the interstate
- The name of the trucking company
- The license plate number and state
- The USDOT number or IN number displayed on the cab of the truck
- Your name and cell phone number
It may not be possible to gather all of this information, but the more you have the more likely it is that the police will be able to find and stop the driver.
How’s My Driving?
If the truck has a sticker on the back with a phone number to report bad driving, you can also call that to report the driver to his or her employer. If there is no sticker, you can still call the trucking company and give them the license or USDOT number.
If you are able to take these steps, you could save a life. If you are injured or a loved one is killed by a reckless truck driver, call Keller & Keller in Indianapolis to help you file a claim. We will check the driver’s record to see if he has been reported in the past for traffic violations, which will help your claim.
What is the most dangerous truck route in New Mexico?
You may never feel all that safe when driving near a commercial semi-truck. After all, your mid-size SUV will not offer much protection if you are sideswiped or rear-ended by a 40-ton tractor-trailer. And what if you are in a head-on collision with one? Your chances of survival are minimal. That is exactly what makes U.S. 550 so dangerous. In fact, it is among the deadliest stretches of road in New Mexico.
What Makes U.S. 550 So Deadly?
This 175-mile stretch of road runs between Bernalillo just north of Albuquerque to the Colorado border, passing through the towns of San Ysidro, Cuba, Nageezi, Bloomfield, and Aztec. It is a four-lane undivided highway with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, only I-40 had more fatalities per road mile in New Mexico from 2013-2015, and that interstate carries twice the traffic of U.S. 550. With no barrier between the two directions of traffic, vehicles—including semi-trucks—can easily cross the 6-foot-wide median into oncoming traffic. This is exactly what happened in a tragic 2017 crash on U.S. 550—a semi-truck crossed the median and collided with the Crawford family, killing them all. Another family of four—the Millers—were killed in a similar accident on U.S. 550 in 2014.
What Can You Do When You Are the Victim of a Tragic Truck Crash?
While the lack of a barrier and the high speed limit on U.S. 550 make it a dangerous road, it is still a driver’s responsibility to be alert, sober, focused, and in control as they travel on it. When a truck driver fails in this responsibility and causes an accident, he—and possibly his employer—can and should be held liable for the damage that is caused. If you or your passengers are injured or a loved one is killed by a negligent trucker on U.S. 550 in New Mexico, contact the truck accident attorneys Keller & Keller in Albuquerque. We will investigate the crash to determine the cause and stand up to the team of attorneys the trucking company is likely to send in defense of its driver. Whether we are seeking injury damages or wrongful death damages, we will fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our New Mexico office today.
Are Indiana’s highways safer because the speed limit for semi-trucks is lower than for cars?
That’s a good question! Certainly, the motivation behind the lower speed limit for trucks is safety. Indiana and the six other states—California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—that currently have a speed limit of at least 5 miles per hour less for semi-trucks believe that slower trucks result in safer highways. However, there are concerns about the logic behind this belief. We take a look at the question here.
It Is a Fact That Speed Kills
After the repeal of the national maximum speed limit in 1995, states were free to set their own speed limits. At the time, several states took the opportunity to raise the limit for cars but not for trucks. The thinking was that trucks are more dangerous at higher speeds because they are more difficult to maneuver and need more distance to stop. As speed limits for cars continue to increase—going as high as 80 or 85 mph in some areas—supporters of truck speed limits believe that trucks should never be allowed to travel at those speeds. While it is true that speed plays a part in a large number of highway crashes, there is concern that the difference in speed between cars and semi-trucks poses more problems than it solves.
How the Speed Differential Creates Problems
Proponents of a uniform speed limit for cars and trucks argue that it is the difference in the speed of travel that creates dangerous conditions, not the speed of the truck. For example, if trucks are driving at lower speeds, cars wishing to drive the speed limit will need to pass every time they approach a truck. Because drivers often pass carelessly, this creates a hazard that would not exist if the two vehicles were traveling at the same speed. Another argument in support of a higher speed limit for trucks is that it would reduce the number of hours a trucker must drive to get to his destination, thus decreasing the risk of driver fatigue and, ultimately, decreasing the number of trucks on the road.
Whatever the Cause, We Are Here for You
Whether Indiana ever votes to repeal the differential speed limit or not, truck drivers will continue to be responsible for their own actions when they cause a highway collision. If a truck driver is exceeding the 65 mph limit and causes a crash, he should be held liable. If the speed limit for trucks is increased and a trucker fails to stop in time to avoid an accident or loses control of his truck due to speed, he is also liable for the damage he causes. If you were in a crash with a commercial semi-truck in Indiana that was not your fault, contact Keller & Keller at one of our Indiana offices. We protect the rights of truck accident victims in Indiana.
Does my severe skin condition qualify me for SSDI benefits?
It may sound absurd to collect disability benefits for a skin condition, but for people who suffer from painful, chronic skin disorders, it can be a lifesaver. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is very clear about the symptoms they consider severe enough to qualify you for benefits. As with all disability determinations, the bottom line is that the condition must be verified by medical evidence and must prevent you from being able to do any gainful activity for an extended period of time. These requirements can be particularly difficult to meet with a skin disorder and you will want to work with the experienced New Mexico SSDI attorneys at Keller & Keller.
What You Will Need to Prove
A serious skin condition can cause the sufferer to experience constant pain and require extensive treatment, preventing them from holding down a job. Some of the questions that will be asked to determine eligibility for SSDI include the following:
- How extensive are your skin lesions?
- How frequent are your flare-ups?
- How do your symptoms limit your activity?
- How extensive is your treatment?
- How does your treatment limit your activity?
If your answers to these questions indicate a severe condition that affects your ability to function normally, you may qualify for benefits.
Skin Conditions Included in the Listing of Impairments
While a condition does not have to be specifically listed in the SSA’s Blue Book in order for you to qualify for benefits, it can make the process easier if your condition is listed. Currently, the SSA includes the following conditions under its skin disorder section:
- Bullous disease
- Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Genetic photosensitivity disorders
Again, simply being diagnosed with and treated for one of these conditions does not automatically qualify you for benefits. You must also prove that the condition is expected to persist, is severe enough to limit your activity, and prevents you from working.
Work With an SSDI Attorney to Build a Strong Case
If you are suffering from a debilitating skin disorder, contact our Albuquerque SSDI attorneys to discuss your application for benefits. We can help you gather the evidence you will need to substantiate your disability claim.
What can I post on social media after my car accident?
NOTHING. Ok, we realize this might be impossible for some of you. If you are a Facebook or Twitter addict, you may not be able to avoid social media after a car accident. However, it is very important that you don’t post anything related to your accident or your recovery and that you are aware of how your social media activity may affect your injury claim.
Too Much Posting and Liking Could Affect Your Settlement
Many of us connect to the world through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Liking and sharing posts is how we get recipes, stay current on news, find out what other people are up to, and let people know what we are up to. It is that last activity that can make it hard for a personal injury attorney to negotiate for the maximum possible settlement for his or her client. If you are sharing pictures or information about the crash or about your daily life since the accident, it can be used to lower your damages in a settlement. Some of the pitfalls of using social media following a crash include the following:
- Saying something about the crash that contradicts what you said earlier or what your attorney is saying during negotiations.
- Sharing pictures of an active lifestyle—working out, attending kids’ games, taking a vacation—when you are claiming serious injuries.
- Badmouthing the other driver (even if you don’t share his name), making you less sympathetic to an insurance agent or judge.
- “Checking in” or sharing locations in places that appear to contradict your condition, such as an amusement park or beach.
Even if you think your accounts are private, they can often be accessed by someone who is determined to dig up dirt, such as an investigator for an insurance company that does not want to pay up. Even innocent posts—or posts you made before the accident even happened—could be manipulated to work against you.
To Be Safe, Suspend Your Social Media Activity
We advise our clients to suspend social media accounts as we work to settle their car accident claims. This way, there is no risk of making an innocent mistake that is used against them later. If you have questions about what is and isn’t appropriate social media activity following an accident, contact one of our Indianapolis offices today. We are happy to help!
What is the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments?
Nearly 70 percent of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. There are many reasons for these denials—from an improperly filled out form to a missed deadline—but a common reason is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes the determination that you are not actually disabled. The SSA provides various tools to help applicants determine if they meet disability qualifications. One such tool is the Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book.
What Is the SSA's Blue Book?
While the listing is now completely electronic, it was once published annually with a blue cover, giving it its nickname. On the SSA’s website, you will see a listing of 14 categories of disability. Each category provides a detailed explanation of what the SSA considers to be a disabling form of the particular conditions that fall under that category. Currently, the following body systems and functions are listed:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Special senses and speech
- Respiratory disorders
- Cardiovascular system
- Digestive system
- Genitourinary (kidney) disorders
- Hematological disorders
- Skin disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Immune system disorders
It is not enough to just have your medical condition listed here; you must also meet the standards of severity, duration, and debilitating effects that are listed in each subsection. For example, the skin disorder psoriasis is listed under section 8.05 Dermatitis, but your psoriasis must produce extensive skin lesions that persist for more than three months despite continuing treatment as prescribed and your symptoms (including pain) must limit your ability to perform work. The Listing of Impairments also provides examples of the kinds of evidence you will be expected to produce in order to prove your disability.
Just as having your condition listed here does not automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), NOT having a condition listed does not automatically disqualify you. If you can prove that your condition—despite not being included in the Listing of Impairments—has the same effect on you as another listing, you can qualify for benefits.
Our SSDI Attorneys Can Help
The SSA’s Listing of Impairments is a detailed, complicated document. It is very difficult for a non-medical person to understand all of the requirements for qualification included here. When you work with one of Keller & Keller’s Social Security disability attorneys, however, you will get the help you need to determine your eligibility and secure the evidence you need so that your application is accepted the first time. Call our Albuquerque office to schedule a free consultation today.
What can I expect at my first meeting with a Social Security disability attorney?
When you first suffered the illness or injury that left you unable to work, you probably thought applying for disability would be a fairly straightforward, do-it-yourself process. However, whether you have been denied or have simply become overwhelmed by the process, you are now considering hiring an attorney to represent you. Many of our disability clients are meeting with a lawyer for the first time in their lives and they are often nervous and unsure. While there is nothing you absolutely have to do before your initial consultation with us—we are happy to explain everything!—we offer this guide to your first meeting to help put your mind at ease.
Your Free Initial Consultation in New Mexico
At Keller & Keller, we offer a free initial consultation to all of our disability clients. In this meeting, we will explain the disability process and ask you a few questions about your situation. It is not necessary that you bring anything with you, but the more prepared you are to answer these questions, the better able we will be to determine your eligibility. You may want to write down what you know about the following:
- Your education, training, and work history, including start and end dates for jobs you have had over the last 10 years
- What you do at your current job, particularly tasks that are physically demanding
- Whether you have paid into Social Security
- Your medical diagnosis
- A list of your current medications, ongoing treatments, and upcoming procedures or surgeries
- The names and addresses of every doctor you have seen since you stopped working
- A description of your physical limitations, including an estimate of how long you are able to sit and stand, how much weight you can lift and carry, and any other activity relevant to your line of work
- A list of questions you have for us—no question is too basic or too complicated!
We realize that this is a lot of information and you may not have easy access to all of it. Again, in our first consultation, it is not necessary to have gathered all of this information before you come, but the more you know about your disability and work history, the better.
What We Will Do for You
If we believe you have a legitimate claim for disability after our initial free consultation, we will schedule another meeting to discuss your claim in more detail. At that point, we will tell you what you need to bring, which will include much of what is listed above. We will need to confirm that you have paid into the system and have enough work credits to qualify. We will also need to make sure that your condition meets the qualifications set forth by the Social Security Administration as a disabling condition. Finally, we will need to prove that the condition makes it impossible for you to continue in your previous position or in a similar position. We will request your medical records and may send you for additional medical testing.
If you have a hearing, our attorney will review the questions you are likely to be asked and make sure you are prepared to answer them. We will gather the medical and vocational evidence needed to support your claim. We likely will not meet with you until four or five weeks before the hearing, but are happy to answer any question you have at any time.
You Will Not Pay Until We Win
We do not require any up-front payment from our disability clients. You will not owe us anything until you are approved for benefits and back pay. We will make sure you understand our fee structure before we take your case so that there are no surprises. If you are facing a Social Security disability application, do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation. We are here for you when you are facing an uphill battle.
Do I need a lawyer for my New Mexico SSDI claim?
You have been working full-time since you were 18 years old. You have had a variety of jobs, but have always worked hard to support yourself and—eventually—your family. Now you find yourself unable to work. Whether it was an illness or an injury that has left you disabled, you are now in need of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you have paid into virtually your whole life. This should be easy, right? Unfortunately, it is not this straightforward. Nearly 70 percent of first-time applicants are denied SSDI. So what can you do to improve your odds? You might want to start with hiring an experienced SSDI attorney.
What Can Our Attorneys Do for You?
While this is probably your first time dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is not our first time. This is probably the greatest advantage we can bring to you. We know whether you are qualified for benefits, how the application process works, and what a successful application needs. When you come to us right away, we can potentially save you months of waiting for benefits. Specifically, the SSDI attorneys at Keller & Keller will do the following for you:
- Determine your eligibility. When you schedule a free consultation in our Albuquerque office, we will take a quick look at your medical records and work history to determine if you are indeed eligible for SSDI. Many people apply for disability when they are not eligible, which is a waste of time and effort. If we believe you should qualify based on what we see, we will help you with the next steps.
- Explain your options. Social Security programs can be confusing. We will help you understand all of your options so you can make the best choices moving forward. Depending on your age, number of years in the system, and economic status, you may have some important decisions to make and we will help you with those.
- Prepare paperwork. Many people are denied disability the first time because they do not complete the proper paperwork or they do not correctly fill out the application. We will take care of all paperwork for you, ensuring that it is done right the first time. We will gather the documentation you need to prove your claim and submit a strong application.
- Evaluate your medical records. If you do not have adequate medical records, we will help you get the tests and evaluations you will need to prove your disability. Medical records are the most important part of an SSDI application and we will review them to make sure you have everything you need for a successful application.
- Work with vocational experts and others. Along with physical disability, you will have to show that you are unable to perform work duties or maintain substantial gainful employment. We will have a vocational expert examine your work history, education, and training in order to demonstrate your inability to work given your physical condition. The SSA will also have vocational experts examining your application, so it is important that you prepare by working with one of your own.
- File all necessary legal briefs. We will stay on top of time limits and file all legal papers on your behalf. Should you need to file an appeal, we will be on top of that and make sure everything is in on time.
While your chances of approval are greatly improved by working with our attorneys, if your initial application is denied, we will be ready to start the appeal process immediately.
No Fees Unless You Are Awarded Benefits
SSDI claims are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means that until and unless your application is approved, you do not pay us a dime. The SSA has a cap on legal fees of 25 percent of your past due benefits, up to $6000. The maximums may increase if your case proceeds to the appeals court or federal district court. If you have questions about anything you have read here, feel free to call us to schedule your free consultation. We are happy to help you through this process.
Does new car technology actually keep us safer?
If you have shopped for a new car in the last several years, you may have been overwhelmed by all of the available safety features. You may have wondered when seat belts and airbags were replaced by electronic sensors and cameras as the latest and greatest in car safety. The fact is, cars are safer than ever, but many of the safety features are difficult for some drivers to understand—particularly older drivers—and other features actually distract the driver from the task of driving, creating an additional safety risk. We take a look at important new safety technology and offer advice on using these features effectively.
Best Safety Features
While there are plenty of high-tech safety features available, the features that continue to save the most lives are the tried-and-true mechanical features that have been around for many years: seat belts and airbags. Nothing will protect you more in a collision than these standard features. However, new safety technology focuses on accident prevention. A few of the most effective safety technologies include the following:
- Anti-lock brakes (ABS). Anti-lock brakes have been available on most car models since 2003. They are now standard on all cars. ABS prevent accidents by stopping the wheels from locking up when you are forced to brake suddenly, allowing you to steer away from an obstacle.
- Adaptive cruise control. Drivers love cruise control because it allows them to maintain a consistent speed without having to keep a foot on the accelerator. Adaptive cruise control takes this one step further by using a radar unit to scan the road ahead and automatically slow the car down if it is approaching slower-moving traffic, forcing you to keep a safe following distance.
- Back-up camera and sensors. Many fender-benders and pedestrian accidents happen when a driver is reversing his vehicle. Having a back-up camera and sensors tells you when there is something or someone behind you so you can stop before hitting it.
- Blind-spot and lane-departure warnings. Using radar or cameras, blind-spot monitors let you know when there is a car in your blind spot so that you can safely change lanes. Lane departure warning systems tell you when your car is drifting out of its lane, which may be an indication that you are dozing off or are distracted by something.
All of these features can save lives, but they require an understanding on the part of the driver as to how they work and how to use them properly. Many older drivers have a hard time adapting to the new technology and may actually find that some of these features inhibit safe driving.
Features Older Drivers Struggle With
Many older drivers are thrown for a loop when they shop for a new car. They are often overwhelmed by the infotainment systems, safety warning systems, and Bluetooth options. Instead of embracing the new technology, many seniors opt for as few features as possible on new cars. This is unfortunate, because many of these features are just what older drivers need to keep them safe. Lane-departure and blind-spot warnings, for example, can help drivers suffering with arthritis or poor flexibility identify hazards they would not otherwise see. In fact, AAA recommends certain safety features for older drivers who suffer from particular age-related problems.
The key to the proper use of safety features for all drivers—but particularly for older drivers—is a thorough training session with the car salesman or dealership. Dealers recommend driving the car for a couple of weeks and then, once you have questions, returning to the dealership for a training session on particular features. The National Safety Council has an interactive website, My Car Does What?, to help people understand their vehicle’s features.
Misuse of Safety Features Does Not Protect From Liability
New car technology is obviously there to enhance the driving experience and to keep drivers and others on the road safe. As people are getting used to new features, they may take their eyes off the road or become cognitively distracted and cause an accident. Being confused by safety features is not an excuse for unsafe driving. If you were injured in a crash with someone trying to blame his car’s technology or warning systems for the accident, don’t be fooled. No matter what his excuse is, he is liable for your injuries. Contact one of our Indianapolis offices today to find out what we can do for you after a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
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