Ways to spot an impaired driver

The new year is certainly a time for celebration. We leave behind the old and make way for the new. Many of us will celebrate New Year's Eve and Day in the company of our loved ones, eating, drinking, and being merry. Unfortunately, this is also the time when impaired drivers are most likely to get behind the wheel. Such drivers endanger themselves and others, both drivers and pedestrians.
The Arkansas car wreck injury lawyers at Taylor King Law recommend that other drivers be watchful and report suspected impaired driving to authorities. You could help save innocent lives. 

Tips to Spot a Drunk Driver
Though it's impossible to know whether someone has been drinking just by watching them drive, there are several warning signs to be aware of. A driver who displays several of the following behaviors may be impaired and should not be behind the wheel. 

  • Straddling the lane marker or center lane while driving
  • Nearly hitting another vehicle or object (example: nearly side-swiping a sign) - An impaired driver will struggle to judge distances accurately, resulting in "near misses." 
  • Making very wide turns
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road - This may be considered the "classic" sign of impaired driving. 
  • Weaving from one side of the road to the other
  • Driving at very slow speeds - Some drivers are aware of their impaired state, so they believe driving more slowly will help them drive safely. Very slow-moving vehicles may cause a chain reaction of rear-ending. 
  • Erratic braking - This includes stopping at a green light or at a crosswalk when there are no pedestrians around.
  • Forgetting the basic rules of driving (example: driving at night without headlights on)

Do Your Part
If you believe you've seen a drunk driver, don't try to overtake them or make them stop their car. Instead, follow them, maintaing a safe distance at all times. Impaired drivers tend to stop without warning and make other erratic decisions. Call the local authorities and report the driver to them. You will be doing yourself, other drivers, and the impaired driver a big service. If everyone acts responsibly and reports suspected drunk driving, the roads will be safer in 2016. 

Safe driving tips for bad weather

Arkansas weather is notoriously hard to predict. One day there's sunshine; the next a tornado could be on the horizon. 

Sudden changes in weather are especially dangerous for drivers.

1 out of every 5 vehicle accidents is weather-related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A “weather-related crash” is one that occurs in rain, sleet, snow, fog, or on slick pavement. Nearly 6,000 people will die in weather-related crashes each year.

Many weather-related accidents are beyond your control, but by taking certain precautions while driving in inclement weather, you are more likely to arrive home safely. 

Given the choice between driving in rain or snow, which would you choose?

If you chose rain, as so many of us would, you might be surprised to learn that you much more likely to have a wreck in rain than in snowy conditions. Consider the NHTSA data: of all weather-related crashes, 17% occur when it's snowing, 46% occur in rain, and a whopping 73% are caused by "wet pavement." The main factor in weather-related crashes isn't what's falling from the sky, but what's happening under your tires. 

To avoid becoming a rainy day statistic, the attorneys at Taylor King Law have some practical tips:

  1. Maintain your car. Check the tire treads (experts now recommend the "quarter test" rather than using a penny), replace worn tires, replace windshield wipers, and check your headlights, taillights, and brake lights to be sure they're in good working condition. You don't want to wait until it's raining to get your car ready! 
  2. Stay focused. You know it's a bad idea to text, talk on the phone, eat food, or do anything else that distracts you while driving even in the best circumstances, so it's even more important to focus solely on the road when rainy or stormy weather hits. 
  3. Turn on your lights. In Arkansas, you're required by law to turn on your headlights any time you use your windshield wipers; they're a package deal. 
  4. Slow down. Reduce your speed by about 1/3 when it's wet or rainy. Wet conditions reduce the friction between your tires and the road. If the friction is reduced to nothing, it's call hydroplaning. This is also very important for icy conditions. 
  5. Keep your distance. While it's never a good idea to drive closely behind the car in front of you, it's especially important to give them some extra space when it rains. This is doubly true if you're behind an eighteen-wheeler. 
  6. Turn off cruise control. 

If you do hydroplane, your first reaction may be to slam on your breaks. Instead, it's important to react calmly and gradually. Gently take your foot off the gas pedal, and gently apply pressure to your brake pedal. Don't turn your wheel sharply, either into or away from the skid. Instead, continue to steer in the direction you want to go - straight down the road. 

Were you injured in a weather-related crash where the other driver was at fault? You may have legal rights to compensation for your pain and property damage. The attorneys at Taylor King Law are ready to help. Call 1-800-CAR-WRECK (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) to begin your FREE consultation. Taylor King will listen to your story and offer his professional opinion. You're one call away from getting help today. 

You may remember the massive airbag recall that began in 2008. Well, it isn’t over yet, according to a recent report from Reuters. The Japan-based company Takata Corp has issued a recall on 5.1 million more American cars. These cars may have the same airbag defects that have been linked to 9 deaths in the United States and more worldwide. This brings the total number of Takata-related recalled vehicles in the U.S. up to 24 million.

What You Need to Know

In a crash, your airbag will inflate at a speed of 200 mph. In the defective Takata airbags, the metal inflator cartridge may explode, spraying those shards of metal into the car - and into passengers - as the airbag inflates. These defective designs are obviously a serious safety hazard.

Don’t assume you aren’t at risk. Although the majority of past recalls have been on older model cars, the new recalls include some 2014 models.  Our Taylor King Law legal team recommends checking the new recall list to be sure your car isn’t involved. You can find a complete list of recalled vehicles from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration here.

Ask for Help Today

Vehicle safety has come a long way over the years, and airbags work to protect passengers the vast majority of the time. But the complex process of airbag inflation occurs in 1/25 of a second, meaning that even the slightest malfunction could cause serious injury or even death. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident because of defective or malfunctioning airbags, call Taylor King today at 1-800-CAR-WRECK (1-800-227-9732) to begin your FREE, no-obligation consultation. You're one call away from getting help today! 

Airbag safety, Takata Corps recall

With the enormous Takata airbag recall still not fully resolved, you may be concerned about the airbags in your own car. We don’t blame you! The attorneys at Taylor King know how unsettling it is to learn that something that’s designed to protect you could instead cause of harm.

In spite of the bad rap they sometimes receive, you are safer with airbags than without them. The NHTSA estimates that airbags reduce the risk of death in front crashes by about 30%. We’ve done our research to answer your questions about how airbags work and how you can protect your family from airbag injuries.

1. How do airbags work to keep me safe?

Airbags work together with seatbelts to keep you safe. Seatbelts function to keep your body semi-stationary inside the car during a wreck. The laws of motion come into play during a car crash: when your car comes to an abrupt stop, your body continues moving forward. While seatbelts keep you from flying through the windshield, airbags cushion your body from violent motion and prevent you from slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard.   

Some studies show that while seatbelts will protect you in side-collisions, airbags in the steering wheel area only help when it’s a head-on crash. It’s true that seatbelts are the #1 best form of accident protection. But technology has advanced rapidly. Newer model cars often have multiple airbags, including some in the side door or seat. This means you’ll be protected from all sides. And all new cars sold in the United States since 1998 have been required to have driver- and passenger-side airbags.

 2. What causes the airbag to inflate?

Your car is equipped with a sensor that detects impact. Airbags will not inflate if you simply slam on your brakes; there has to be an impact (like hitting another car, or a pole). If the impact is small or at a low speed, your airbags will not deploy. But if the force of the impact is equal or greater than that of running into a brick wall at 10-15 mph, the sensor signals the inflation system. The inflation system is designed to inflate the airbag quickly, at speeds up to 200 mph, and then to deflate quickly so that your vision and movements are not limited. And all of this happens in about 1/25 of a second.

3. Why do airbags sometimes cause injuries, and how can I avoid that?  

You already know that serious injury or death may be caused by defective airbags. But in other cases, people have been injured by properly functioning airbags. Sometimes the problem isn’t the airbag, but the passenger.

There’s a common factor among people who are injured or killed by airbags, and it’s not their height, weight, or gender. It’s how close they were to airbag when it deployed. An airbag must inflate quickly and forcefully to protect you, and the force is greatest in the first 2-3 inches after it inflates - called the “risk zone.” If you are 2-3 inches away from the airbag when it deploys, it can hit with enough force to cause serious injury or even death.

The very best way to ensure that airbags will protect you from injuries, not cause them, is to keep your distance. Experts says that sitting with your chest 10 inches away from the dashboard will minimize your risk of airbag injury.

It’s also very important to keep children under the age of 12 in the back seat, because the force of the airbag may be too powerful for a child's small body. Never let a younger child ride in the front passenger seat.

Were you or someone you know injured by a defective airbag or other defective part in a car? You may have legal rights. Taylor King Law is ready to help. Call 1-800-CAR-WRECK (1-800-227-9732) to begin your FREE, no-obligation consultation. You're one call away from getting help today. 

For more information on the Takata Corp airbag recall and a full list of the recalled vehicles, read our last post: Takata Corp Issues New Airbag Recalls.

 

Arkansas guidelines for infant and child safety seats

Parents, you know that it's important to buckle your baby into a child safety seat. But it's not that simple, according to car experts.  

Having a baby changes everything (sleep-deprived new parents, we feel for you), even the way you drive. The most lead-footed speed demons transform into Driving Miss Daisy when there’s a child in the back seat. A motorcycle-loving dad suddenly sees the merits of a minivan. And two twenty-somethings may find themselves spending hours at Target in the car seat aisle, trying to find the perfect seat to keep their baby safe and sound.

But how will you know when you've found that perfect seat? And, even more important, how can you be sure you're buckling and snapping everything correctly to keep your child as safe as possible on car rides? Our friends at Little Rock news station Today’s THV recently shared the staggering statistic that 9 out of 10 car seats in Arkansas are installed incorrectly.

Why? Most parents simply don’t know what they’re doing wrong. Did you know, for example, that safety belts should not be fastened over thick winter coats, which can keep the straps from holding your child securely? Instead, trying buckling your child in and then covering him or her with a warm blanket. This THV article will help you identify any mistakes you might be making.


One car seat mistake many Arkansas parents are making?
 Neglecting to replace your child’s seat after being involved in a car accident. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) strongly recommends replacing child safety seats in all moderate to severe crashes, and sometimes in minor wrecks as well. How do you know if the wreck was “minor”? Use this checklist provided by the NHTSA. You may be able to continue using your safety seat ONLY if your wreck meets ALL of these requirements:

  • You are able to drive your vehicle away from the crash site
  • The vehicle door closest to the safety seat was undamaged
  • No one in the car was injured
  • Airbags did not deploy (inflate)
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat.


Why is it so important to replace car seats after an accident? The impact could have caused unseen damage so that the seat no longer protects your child in an accident. For the same reason, never purchase a used safety seat unless you can be certain it was never involved in a wreck. Consider the fact that a child riding unrestrained in a car that crashes at 25 mph will experience a force equal to falling from a 3-story building. Saving money on a new seat isn’t worth it.


What are Arkansas laws for child safety seats?
Arkansas law is clear on child safety seats: Any child younger than 6 years old and weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in a child passenger seat secured in the vehicle. Anyone who doesn’t comply with this requirement may be subject to a fine.

Currently, there are no Arkansas laws that require manufacturers to replace your car safety seat if it's damaged in a crash. But if you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was at fault, you likely can include the cost of replacing the seat in the sum of your damages. Be sure to discuss this option with your personal injury attorney.


What resources exist for Arkansas parents?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more specific recommendations. Infants should remain in rear-facing seats until they are at least 1 year old AND weigh more than 20 pounds. Once they are over the age and weight requirement, they can ride in a front-facing seat with an internal 5-point harness. Don’t graduate your child to a booster seat until he or she weighs more than 40 pounds, and always use both the lap and shoulder belts with a booster seat. You can learn more about these guidelines at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Services page.

The attorneys at Taylor King Law want to work together with our community to protect our most precious asset: our children. Was your child injured in an accident due to a defective car seat? We're here to help. Call today at 1-800-CAR WRECK or submit the Free Case Evaluation form to get answers to your questions about a defective product injury claim. 

Tips to avoid child heatstroke in hot cars

As July comes to end, heat advisories are in effect across the country. With the warmer weather comes a serious concern for the safety of young children and infants. Since 1998, over 600 children in the United States have died from heatstroke after being forgotten or left inside a parked car. Several children have already lost their lives in 2016, with the most recent tragic loss of a 2-year-old boy in Kentucky a few weeks ago. 

The Science of a Hot Car 

The attorneys at Taylor King Law want all parents and caretakers to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child unattended inside a car under any circumstances. According to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine,  the interior temperature of a vehicle left in the sun can increase by an average of 40 degrees in 1 hour, regardless of the temperature outside. This means that even on a mild 65-degree day, the interior temperature of a car can reach 105 degrees in 60 minutes. 

80% of this temperature rise occurs in the first 30 minutes after parking a car. This means that there is no "safe" length of time that you can leave your child inside a parked car. Partially rolling down a window has no impact on the interior temperature, researchers found; additionally, running the car's air conditioner prior to turning off the vehicle delays the temperature spike by only 5 minutes. The only proven method to keep your child safe from heatstroke is to take him or her inside with you every time you park and exit the vehicle. 


The Increased Risk to Children 

Why are small children and infants particularly at risk? This is due in part to the fact that their bodies cannot regulate their core temperature as efficiently as adults. Their body temperatures can rise 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's. And because small children may not yet be able to speak, or may likely fall asleep on a short drive, they are more likely to be overlooked. 

At 104 degrees, the body experiences symptoms of heatstroke. Those symptoms include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and seizures. When the body temperature reaches 107 degrees, internal organs begin to shut down.  


If You See Something, Say Something - The Good Samaritan Law in Arkansas 

For every story in the news of a concerned passerby who took action to save a suffering child, there are many more citizens who are concerned that by getting involved, they might face legal repercussions for breaking a car window or for harm the child might suffer. The good news  is that a law protects people who act to help someone who is at immediate risk. 

In Arkansas and many other states, there is a Good Samaritan Law (AR Code 17-95-101) which states that any person who "acts in good faith" when they believe a person's "life, health, and safety are under imminent threat," and who takes "reasonable and accessible" action, will be protected. In other words, as long as you act 1) in good faith, 2) without gross negligence, and 3) without willful misconduct in these emergency situations, you should not face legal action for acting to save a child in an unattended car. If you see something, say something. 

For more on keeping children safe and preventing heatstroke, see the NHTSA's Parents Central site

Graduation safety, avoid underage drinking

In the words of Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the places you'll go!" At Taylor King Law, we want to help ensure that you not only "go," but that you go safely.

Over the next few weeks, more than 3 million students across the US will graduate with high school diplomas. Graduation is an exciting time not only for students, but also for the parents and families who have supported and challenged them along the way. In fact, it may feel like a milestone for you as a parent as much it does for your teenager! 

It's natural that you'll want to celebrate, whether that's with a small family gathering, a bash for everyone you know, or a weekend trip. With all of these celebrations, there also come risks.

Teens, Driving, & Underage Drinking

Drunk driving is a major problem in our country, and it's not limited to adults. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 10% of high school students said that in the past 30 days, they had driven after drinking alcohol at least once. 22% of students had ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. That means in any given room, 1 in 10 teenagers has recently driven under the influence, and 1 in 5 has ridden in a car with a buzzed or drunk driver in the past month alone.

Even if you take alcohol out of the picture, statistics from the National Safety Council show that for teenagers, the risk of having a fatal car wreck increases 48% when someone climbs into the passenger seat. In other words, a car full of even the most soberly celebrating graduates is still a significant safety risk.

If You're a Parent 

Parents, don't assume that your child is the exception. There are many, many factors that influence teenagers to try alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy behaviors. While your child may be preparing to "leave the nest" in the next few months, you can still influence them to make smart decisions in the present. As a parent himself, Taylor King recommends a few tips for keeping your teen safe: 

  • Make it a conversation, not a lecture. 
  • Ask questions. Require adult supervisions at every celebration your child attends, and discuss beforehand with those adults whether alcohol will be served or allowed at the party. 
  • Set a curfew (yes, you can do that!) and stick to it. If your child and his or her friends want to keep hanging out past that time, offer to let them watch a movie at your own home. 
  • Remind your children that they can call you under ANY circumstances if they need help or a sober ride. Teenagers may make bad decisions because they're afraid of calling and asking their parents for help. Make it ok for your child to reach out to you without fear. 


If You're Hosting a Party

As the party host, you might assume that teenagers will find a way to drink, regardless, so you'd prefer it be at your own house where you can supervise them. Whatever the reasoning involved, the truth is that it's illegal in Arkansas to allow minors (who are not your children) to drink alcohol on your property. Arkansas Code 3-3-219 defines this as being a "social host," and you can face criminal liability for letting minors drink while at your home, regardless of whether you are the one who purchased the alcohol or served it to them. Please consider the consequences before allowing alcoholic beverages in your home with teenagers present. 

A few extra precautions will help you succeed in hosting a fun, alcohol-free event for your favorite graduates:

  • If you're sending invitations, include wording that makes it clear that liquor will not be served or allowed at the party.
  • Talk to your teen beforehand to make sure you're on the same page. 
  • Ask a trustworthy adult to stand at the door and make sure guests aren't entering with alcohol - or large, suspicious backpacks that might be hiding the bottles.
  • Offer a variety of delicious, non-alcoholic beverages to keep taste buds happy. 


If you're graduating or have a child who is, congratulations from all of us at Taylor King Law! We hope these tips will help make your celebration one to remember. 

Arkansas fireworks safety and laws

Ahh, Independence Day. One of the United States’ most beloved holidays, the 4th of July is a time of relaxation, celebration, family barbecues, ever-larger fireworks displays, and...trips to the Emergency Room? 

The cause? Everyone’s favorite flaming showstopper: fireworks. Fireworks cause more than 7,000 injuries that require emergency medical care between June 20 and July 20 each year, according to the Consumer Protection Center. That’s 7,000 families who spend the remainder of their holiday sitting in the Emergency Room.

Fireworks Safety in Every State

Does that mean you have to forego the festivities in order to protect your family this year? Never! The most common cause of fireworks injury is improper use. Following some common sense safety guidelines can significantly lower your risk of harm.

Those safety guidelines start with following your local fireworks ordinances. Laws concerning the sale, possession, and use of fireworks vary significantly from state to state, and even from city to city within the same state, so it’s important to check your local laws.

The Huffington Post offers a great infographic showing a map of fireworks laws in every state.

Arkansas Fireworks Statutes

If you’re an Arkansas resident want to know more about our state’s specific statutes, you can read more in the 2015 Arkansas Code on Fireworks § 20-22-701. The abbreviated version: 

  1. You must be 12 years or older to purchase fireworks.
  2. It is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone “known to be intoxicated or irresponsible.”
  3. You may purchase fireworks between the dates of June 20 - July 10 and December 10 - January 5 each year
  4. It is illegal to shoot fireworks within 600 feet of any church, hospital, or public school.


Fireworks Safety Guidelines for All Ages

  1. Never make or attempt to light homemade fireworks. This is not the time to DIY!
  2. Think sparklers are the most harmless firework? Think again. Though these are a popular choice for young children and make for great pictures, sparklers burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that in perspective, an average house fire burns at 1,100 degrees, and gold melts at 2,000 degrees. It’s about the same temperature as a blow torch. These handheld fireworks are the leading cause of firework injuries for young children.
  3. Fireworks and alcohol don't mix. If you’re at your own home, designate a sober friend to handle all fireworks. Better yet, leave the launching to the pros and enjoy your city’s display from the comfort of a picnic blanket.
  4. Never attempt to relight fireworks that didn’t work the first time. Soak these “duds” in water and throw them away. 
  5. Light all fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from trees, power lines, and people. 
  6.  Double-check that no parts of your body are positioned over the firework when you light the fuse. 
  7. Keep a bucket of water or hose and a fire extinguisher nearby if you shoot fireworks at home. A little planning ahead can help you avoid a disaster later. 


Burn Injuries from Fireworks Accidents

Serious burns are the most common injuries caused by fireworks - most commonly to the head, face, neck, hands and arms.

If you or someone you love was seriously burned in a fireworks accident because of another person’s negligence, you may want to consider your legal rights in the matter. Taylor King can help determine whether you have a case and help you get the compensation you deserve.  Call today at 800-227-9732 to begin your free consultation.

Arkansas Good Samaritan Laws; Arkansas personal injury lawyer

You've probably thought through what you'd do if you experienced a car accident. But have you ever stopped to consider how to react if you see a wreck? 

It’s a great question, because some states do have statutes that hold “first responders,” or the first people to come upon an accident scene, responsible for offering aid to the extent that they are able. These are called “Affirmative Duty to Assist” statutes. 

States that recognize some form of affirmative duty statutes include California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

Then there are “Liability Protection” statutes. You may know them by another name: “Good Samaritan” laws. Unlike affirmative duty statutes, which are only in effect in a few states, all 50 states and the District of Columbia recognize some form of liability protection for those who offer aid to victims. 

Affirmative Duty to Assist Statutes in Your State

These statutes vary widely from state to state. They may apply only to particular healthcare professionals, or only in certain situations. Some hold witnesses responsible for giving reasonable aid to a victim, while others require them only to report the crime to police. 

For example, California’s Mandatory Emergency Services statute applies only to health care facilities, while the Rhode Island statute specifies that a person with knowledge that “another person is a victim of rape, murder, manslaughter, or armed robbery” must report the crime to police as soon as they are reasonably able, if they are at the scene of the crime.

If you are a resident of a state with some form of affirmative duty statute, we encourage you to read more about the details in your particular state in A Comparative Study of Laws that Protect First Responders Who Assist Accident Victims. It’s a long title, but a worthwhile read! 

Good Samaritan Laws in Your State

Although every state’s code includes some variety of a Good Samaritan law, no two are alike. The general premise of a Good Samaritan law is that it protects someone from being sued or otherwise penalized if they act to help a victim who needs medical help or is in physical danger. You can read about your state’s particular statutes here

Good Samaritan Laws in Arkansas 

We hear two common misconceptions about helping people after an accident. The first: “You’re likely to be sued if you attempt to give someone emergency care and it doesn’t have a good outcome, so it’s best not to do anything.” The second: “My state’s Good Samaritan law means that anyone who stops to help an accident victim is protected and won’t face any consequences if things go badly.” Neither statement is true. 

While there are no laws in Arkansas that require you to stop and give aid to victims of a car accident, you may feel compelled by compassion and concern for others. In that case, you should be familiar with the Arkansas Good Samaritan Law. 

This statute is found under the “Medical Professions” subtitle in the Arkansas code, so you might assume that it applies only to people who work in the medical field. While the statute’s primary purpose does seem to be directed toward medical professionals, it also includes a section about how the Good Samaritan law applies to ordinary citizens. Two main takeaways: 

  1. Any health care professional who in “good faith” gives emergency care at the place of an accident will not be legally liable, as long as his or actions were not “willful misconduct” or “grossly negligent.” If, for example, a doctor performs CPR on the man who has a heart attack while sitting next to him in a movie theater, and the doctor is not able to resuscitate him, he or she can’t be sued for trying to help. If he attempted open-heart surgery in the middle of the theater, however, that would be a different matter and would likely lead to legal action.

  2. A person who is not a health care professional can also be protected from legal backlash when giving emergency care, with a few conditions. First, they must believe that the “life, health, and safety” of a person could be helped by taking reasonable actions to provide emergency care. Next, they must be acting in “good faith” to remove or lessen the threat. Again, the actions must not be willful misconduct or grossly negligent.


Taking Reasonable Action

Should you find yourself in a situation where an accident victim needs help, you can decide how to respond by asking yourself these three simple questions:

  1. Is this person’s health or life in immediate danger?
  2. Can I help lessen that danger by doing something?
  3. What reasonable action can I take? 


We recommend reading the full text of the Good Samaritan law, also known as AR Code § 17-95-101 (2015), online in the most recent version of the Arkansas Code provided by Justia Law.

Arkansas Accident Victims Find Help at Taylor King Law 

Have you been injured in a car wreck that was not your fault? Filing a personal injury claim can be very complex, but the lawyers at Taylor King Law can help. Everyone who calls or visits one of our 6 Arkansas office locations will get a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney. Find out if you have a case today. Get started by calling 1-800-CAR-WRECK or submitting a case evaluation form on our website. 

 

National Bus Safety Week in Arkansas

We can all agree that nothing could be more important than protecting our children, but some of us might need a quick reminder of the Arkansas school bus laws that are designed to do just that. 

We've made it easy for you: here's a quick guide to help you get an A on your morning commute!

Stop for School Buses

At first glance, the law seems simple enough: When you see a school bus stopped on the road, you stop as well. Arkansas Code § 27-51-1004 (2015) is a bit more specific:
When a school bus stops and displays its flashing red lights, every driver coming from any direction must bring their vehicle or motorcycle to a complete stop before they reach the school bus. They must remain stopped until students have finished boarding or exiting the bus and the bus begins moving again.

Multi-Lane Highways and Medians

Now comes the tricky part: Another subsection of the code states that when busses are traveling on a multi-lane highway with a dividing strip or median that is at least 20 feet wide, opposing traffic is not required to stop, but should continue to exercise caution and be on the alert for children.

A multiple lane highway is defined as one with 4 or more traffic lanes, including at least 2 lanes traveling in each direction. A dividing strip or median is defined as either a barrier, grassy median, or paved median - a section in which cars can’t drive. This means that a turn lane is not considered a dividing strip. Thus, if you are driving on a 5-lane highway in Arkansas that includes a turn lane, but no physical barrier or median, you are required to stop when you meet a stopped school bus traveling the opposite direction.

This is important because much of Arkansas roadways are rural highways that do not have a physical dividing strip. We believe that many driver violate the law because they are confused about this specific section of it. In a single day in 2013, Arkansas bus drivers counted 589 instances of illegal passing. 445 of those incidents occurred when the driver was approaching from the opposite direction.

The law does state that students should never be allowed to cross a multiple-lane highway, and bus drivers are required to adjust their routes so that this never happens. Still, children may act impulsively, and accidents can happen in mere seconds.

Isaac's Law in Arkansas

Stopping for busses is not a mere suggestion. Thanks to Isaac’s Law, named for Bryant elementary student Isaac Brian who was killed in 2004 after exiting his school bus, violating Arkansas school bus laws now carries a stiff penalty. Anyone convicted of passing a stopped school bus will face any combination of a fine of $250-$1000, up to 90 days in jail, driver's license suspension of 21 days to 1 year, and up to 400 hours of community service. And in cases like Isaac’s where the driver kills a student, he or she is guilty of negligent homicide, a class C felony.

Limitations of the Law

Unfortunately, many bus drivers don’t have time to record the license plates of cars who pass them illegally. Some Arkansans argue that legal penalties will not be a significant deterrent to law-breakers if they are rarely caught in the act.

But at Taylor King Law, we believe our true motivation to follow Arkansas bus stop laws is not found in fines or penalties, but in a desire to keep our children safe. Every stopped school bus and flashing red light indicates that someone’s son or daughter is near the road. We can all do our part to ensure they get home safely.

For more resources or to learn more about National Bus Safety Week, visit the National Association for Pupil Transportation website. 

National Stress Awareness Day, Distracted Driving

You're Stressed - Are You Aware? 

November 4 is National Stress Awareness Day. While stress serves a biological purpose, doctors and scientists agree that high levels of stress can significantly contribute to chronic health problems, disease, and even early death.

This day was established to raise awareness and educate the American public on the growing problem of stress in their lives.

2016 seems to be a particularly stressful year, and we can't blame it all on the World Series. The presidential election has been particularly contentious, with 52% of American adults admitting that the election is a significant source of stress.

But we want to draw your attention to another source of stress - one that's far more subtle, just as dangerous, and not likely to end on Election Day: distracted driving.

Stress and Distracted Driving 

You already know that texting and driving significantly impairs your driving abilities, but it turns out that distractions do more than take your eyes off the road. When you engage in another activity while driving, your body begins to show signs of stress: increased heart rate and perspiration. These findings come from researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute who have been studying the topic using a driving simulator.

What Qualifies as a Distraction?

The impact doesn't just come from texting or talking on the phone, the researchers note. Technology-related distractions tend to get the most negative attention, but distractions can also come in the form of refereeing a fight with your children in the backseat, talking to someone in the passenger seat, or getting upset at another driver on the road. Bottom line? Your body does not like it when you try to multi-task. 

If you've been looking for a good reason to focus exclusively on the road, you've found (another) one.

 

Arkansas Road Safety Deer Danger

From October to January, drivers are at increased risk on Arkansas roads. It’s not due to snow or ice, the typical winter culprits, which make their appearance much less frequently in Arkansas than in more northern states. No, in Arkansas the real danger is one of our four-legged friends: the deer.

If you live in Arkansas, chances are you know someone who’s hit a deer while driving, or you’ve experienced it yourself. Why does it seem to be more common in the late fall months? This is deer breeding, or “rutting,” season, so they are highly active and on the move during this time.

While most of us would be far more afraid to come face-to-face with a lion or crocodile than a deer, hitting one with you car can cause extensive damage, both to you and your vehicle. Collisions are usually fatal for the deer, as well.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that crashes with deer cause about $4 billion in vehicle damage each year, and close to 200 people are killed in deer collisions annually.

Obviously, you would prefer to avoid hitting a deer in your car. Let's look at some practical ways to do so.

Meeting a Deer: What are the Odds?

  • You are most likely to encounter deer along the roadside at dawn and dusk. It’s important to drive with heightened awareness during those times. You know not to use your phone while driving, especially at night, but even “zoning out” can put you in danger and cause delayed reaction times.
  • Deer are more likely to frequent the roadsides in heavily wooded, less populated areas, but because so much of Arkansas is considered rural, they’ve been known to pop up in the middle of small towns and along busy interstates. 
  • Deer also rarely travel alone. If you see one deer, there will be others nearby.

Preventive Measures to Avoid a Deer Collision

  • SLOW DOWN. This is our #1 tip to avoid hitting a deer. The more conservatively you drive, the more time you have to react if a deer darts out in front of you.
  • Watch for the “shine” of deer eyes reflecting along the sides of the road, and immediately slow down if you see some.
  • If there’s no oncoming traffic, use your high beams to increase road visibility.
  • The phrase “deer in the headlights” is based in fact: Deer often freeze in the road because they’re mesmerized by bright, steady lights. Flashing your lights can help break the trance, as can giving one long blast of your horn.

When You Can’t Avoid the Crash

  • Don’t swerve. Not only does swerving confuse the deer, but it puts you at risk for swerving into oncoming traffic, hitting a tree or ditch, and flipping your car, all of which pose more danger than the deer.
  • Maintain control of the car and steadily increase your pressure on the brake - don’t “slam” the brake at the last minute. It’s hard to remember in the moment, but letting off the brake at the moment of impact is important. Braking can cause the front of your car to dip down, making it more likely that the deer will go through the windshield and seriously injure people in the car.
  • Call police even if your car is the only one involved in the accident. It’s dangerous to touch the deer, which may still be alive, and you need documentation of the accident for your insurance company.

Insurance for Deer-Vehicle Collisions

Do you live in Arkansas, particularly in a rural area? You may want to consider opting in to Comprehensive insurance coverage, because deer are not covered under Collision. Comprehensive insurance also covers events like fire, storm damage, theft, and vandalism.

Accident Recovery: Help is Waiting at Taylor King Law

At Taylor King Law, we can’t file a claim against the deer if you’re involved in a collision with one. But if you were the victim of a car accident where the other driver was at fault, you may have legal rights to compensation. We can help make complicated paperwork simple, handle insurance negotiations, and stand firm to be sure you get the settlement you deserve. Call today at 1-800-CAR-WRECK or submit a question through the Case Evaluation Form on our website. 

Holiday Home Safety Avoid Mistakes

For a prime example of what can go wrong when you travel for the holidays, look no further than Home Alone. True, you probably won’t forget your child as you jet off for a Christmas vacation in Paris, and even if you did, there’s an invention called cell phones. Still, we probably all have a thing or two to learn about keeping our homes safe during holiday travels – without resorting to BB guns and tarantula traps.

Are you making any of these 5 home safety mistakes this season?

 1. Posting specific details about your travel plans on social media.
No matter how tightly edited your Facebook Friends list may be, there’s always room for error. In an age of instant updates, we’ve all been tempted to post pictures of our view from the ski lift (or a bored selfie on a 15-hour road trip to Grandma’s house). But you might not realize that to someone with bad intentions, that seemingly innocent post is like a flashing neon sign that screams, “WE’RE NOT HOME.” Wait to post updates and pictures until the trip is over, or at least write generic captions like “Having a great time with family” without specifying that you’re out of town. 

 2. Putting your Christmas tree – and gifts – in front of a window.
We can’t deny that your tree looks fabulous in front of that full-length window. Your decorating skills are second only to your gift-wrapping abilities. But the great view might also attract would-be burglars who can easily smash the window and snatch your family’s presents. Consider putting your tree in another location, keeping valuable gifts out of view, or at least closing your blinds when you leave home.

 3. Leaving your spare key in its usual place.
Let’s be honest: that decorative planter/frog/rock isn’t fooling anyone. When you leave for a trip, remove your spare key. Better yet, give it to a close friend who’s staying in town. Ask him or her to check in every few days to pick up your mail and check the faucets if you live in a colder area where freezing pipes are a concern.

 4. Leaving all your lights off – or on.
Most people know that a dark house is a clear signal that nobody’s home. But if you’re tempted to just leave your lights on, think about the damage you may be doing to your electric bill – and your efforts to “go green.” Instead, consider investing in a light switch timer. You can set the timer to turn lights on and off at specific times of day, which simulates your regular routine.

 5. Decking the halls without checking the cords.
More than 400 people die each year in electrical-related house fires. Check your lights for frayed cords or cracked bulbs before stringing them on your tree or roof. Don’t connect more than one extension cord, either – if it’s not long enough, buy a new one. And as lovely as they may be, don’t leave your Christmas tree or outdoor lights on overnight or while you’re traveling. Using an outdoor timer makes it a no-brainer!

We hope these tips will help you and your family stay safe and make the most of your holiday together!  

Get Your Car Ready for Winter in Arkansas

As you get Christmas decorations down from the attic and begin pulling scarves and sweaters from their winter storage, you might be forgetting to prepare one important thing: your vehicle. Arkansas doesn’t typically experience the same harsh winter weather as more northern states. But this can lure people into a false sense of security when it comes to driving in the coming cold months. Because extreme weather is less common, Arkansans are more likely to be caught unprepared when it does happen. Sudden snow or ice has been known to leave Arkansas drivers stranded on highways and interstates for hours, even overnight.

Luckily, it’s simple and relatively inexpensive to get your car ready to anything December, January, or February might send your way - and you can take these steps right now.

5 Easy Ways to Prep Your Car for Winter Weather

1. Upgrade your car emergency kit. To be ready for anything when cooler temps hit, add a pair of gloves, blanket, flashlight (with fresh batteries), snack bars, jumper cables, first aid kit, and an ice scraper for your frosty windows. Pro tip: buy a scraper that includes a built-in mitten on the handle to keep your fingers from freezing!

2. How are your windshield wipers doing? Experts say you should replace your wiper blades once a year, so why not do it now? Consider replacing your usual wiper fluid, which freezes quickly upon contact with cold windshields in the winter, with one made specifically for winter weather. It can even help loosen ice and snow from your windshield.

3. Change your oil. Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a mechanic, let the changing weather be your reminder to do routine maintenance. You may need a different type of oil entirely for the winter months. In general, the colder the weather, the thinner the oil in your engine needs to be.

4. Check your antifreeze and coolant levels. As the name would suggest, “antifreeze” helps keep you car engine from freezing up when your toes do. Your car’s manual provides instructions for checking antifreeze levels. You can find kits to check your coolant mix at auto supply stores or larger grocery stores.

5. Check your tires - both air pressure and tread depth. Most people don’t need snow tires if they live in the southern states, but good tires are key to staying safe on the road when winter storms do blow through. You can check your tire pressure with a simple, inexpensive gauge. Your car manual will tell you the optimum pressure (called PSI, or pounds per square inch) for your particular vehicle. Most gas stations offer free air fill-up stations. To check your tire treads, use the “Lincoln test.” It’s easy: insert a penny into the tire tread with Lincoln’s head pointing down, toward the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, that means it’s time to replace your tires. Tread is important; it allows your car to “grip” the road, particularly in rainy or snowy conditions.

Help for Winter Car Accident Injuries

Each year, people are injured in accidents where snow, ice, or other weather conditions played a role. If you were the victim in a car wreck, you may have legal rights to compensation and should speak with a personal injury lawyer about your potential case. The attorneys at Taylor King Law are ready to help. Call 1-800-227-9732 (CAR-WRECK) today for a no-obligation, free consultation. We’ll be on your side, by your side, even when the weather isn’t.

 

Arkansas lemon law; personal injury lawyer

In 2014, Arkansas passed a New Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance Act, better known as the Arkansas Lemon Law. A “lemon” is the common name for a new car that requires repeated service and repairs, often without entirely fixing the problem. The name likely originated from a 1960's Volkswagen ad that depicted "picking out" every car that didn't meet the car manufacturer's standards. Today, "lemon" is almost universally understood to be synonymous with shoddy craftsmanship.  

Under the Lemon Law, Arkansas owners are protected if their car is determined to be a “lemon” within 2 years or 24,000 miles of purchase.

This doesn’t mean that you can automatically get a refund or a new car if yours has problems, however; it’s a bit more complex than that. Below, we’ve done the work of decoding the Arkansas Lemon Law to put it in plain language for you.

Which Vehicles are Covered?
The law covers a motor vehicle that has been licensed, purchased, or leased in Arkansas. You must be sure that your vehicle is legally registered and titled, also.

As the owner or lessee of the vehicle, you are covered for the full length of the Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance period, which is 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes LAST. If the vehicle changes ownership during that period of time, it is still covered under the Lemon Law.

Which Vehicles are NOT Covered?
5 types of vehicles are NOT covered under this law: mopeds, motorcycles, the “living facility” or interior portion of a motor home, vehicles weighing over 13,000 pounds, and vehicles that have been significantly altered after their purchase.

Which Defects are Covered?
“Nonconformities” that substantially impact the use, safety, or market value of a vehicle, OR that make the vehicle nonconforming to the manufacturer’s warranty, are covered.

Nonconformity is defined as "any specific or generic defect or condition, or any combination of defects and conditions."

Many defects clearly pose a substantial safety risk: faulty brakes or steering, defective seatbelts, wiring problems, and much more. It’s less clear whether other defects would fall into that category, and determination of such may vary by state.

What’s the Difference Between a Lemon and a Recalled Car?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to “issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety related defects or do not meet safety standards” (NHTSA website).

Recalls occur when a defect is found in one or more cars that may be replicated across multiple vehicles of the same make and model. The manufacturer is required to repair the defect at no cost to the consumer. Manufacturers may voluntarily issue these recalls, as well. Examples of this recall include the widespread Takata Corps airbag recall and Mazda's recent recall of some RX-8 models over fuel pump sealing rings. 

A “lemon” vehicle, on the other hand, is one that has been repaired and serviced multiple times and still has problems. It is unlikely that more repairs will provide a final solution for the car.

When Should You File a Claim under the Arkansas Lemon Law?
Most attorneys recommend that filing a claim under the Lemon Law is a last resort.

Manufacturers are given a “reasonable number of attempts” to repair the defects. In Arkansas, they can attempt the repairs up to 4 times (or up to 2 times when there is a serious risk of death or injury) before being required to repurchase or replace the car. If the reasonable attempts fail, they must issue the refund or replacement within 40 days of the final attempt.

Questions? You can find a more detailed Arkansas Lemon Law Summary from the Better Business Bureau or this Consumer Alert from the Arkansas Attorney General.

Find an Arkansas Defective Product Lawyer at Taylor King Law 
Have you or someone you know been injured by a defective mechanism or recall on your vehicle? You may have legal rights to compensation. The attorneys at Taylor King Law can help; call 1-800-CAR WRECK or submit an online form to begin your no-obligation Free Consultation. 



Drunk driving, safe New Year's Eve in Arkansas

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

It seems appropriate that December should be National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, given that drunk and impaired driving spikes during the holiday season. And since New Year's Eve is on Saturday in 2016, we expect to see an even bigger rise in alcohol-related incidents this year. 

Alcohol-Related Deaths in Arkansas 

30% of traffic-related deaths in 2015 involved drunk drivers - that's more than 10,000 people across the nation. 148 Arkansans died in alcohol-related wrecks during that same period.

And those percentages increase significantly between Christmas and New Year's Day, according to The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). 4 out of every 10 traffic-related deaths during that time period involve drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) higher than the legal limit of .08%. 

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

DUI arrests in the United States are highest between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. 

If you live in Arkansas, expect to see increased state and local law enforcement on the roads this weekend. They've joined the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, which will continue through January 1. 

Why Do People Drive Under the Influence?

Most people would agree that drunk driving is bad news. So why are there still so many substance-related wrecks around the holiday season? 

Experts say that part of the problem lies in using the phrase “drunk driving.” When someone asks, “Am I drunk?” they’re not thinking about their BAC; they’re thinking about how they feel. If they still feel in control of their speech and motor skills, or if they’ve only had “a few” drinks, they may not consider themselves “drunk” even though their BAC is higher than the legal limit. Someone might drink more during the holidays and chalk it up to celebration, not realizing their true impairment.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs your driving ability. Even “recreational” drugs like marijuana can impact your fine motor skills and slow your reaction time. And don’t assume medicine is safe just because you have a prescription for it – many medications carry warning labels about driving, and others can negatively impact you if taken other than as prescribed.

Drinking or taking drugs impairs your judgment, so you may not be making the best decisions at precisely the moment when your choices matter most.

Safe Holidays = Smart Planning

That’s why the first step in preventing alcohol- or drug-related car wrecks is the most vital: If you drink at all, especially during the holidays, commit not to drive. Make this commitment before you get to the party or restaurant.

Next, have a plan in place. Make arrangements ahead of time for a sober friend to drive you, save the number of a taxi service in your contacts, carry bus fare, or download the Uber app. Check to see if your city offers a free ride service during the New Year’s weekend – many do!

What if your friend is drinking and tries to get behind the wheel? Don’t be afraid to be assertive. Take the keys. Call for help or help them get home using public transportation. Your friends might be angry in the moment, but that’s a small price to pay in order to keep them safe and potentially save their lives. They’ll thank you later – and so will everyone else on the road.

Spotting an Impaired Driver: Know the Signs

So you and your friends have committed to driving safely and soberly – great! But what about everyone else on the road? You don’t have to be a police officer to know the signs of an impaired driver. Keep an eye out for drivers exhibiting the following behavior:

  • Weaving or zig-zagging across the road
  • Stopping randomly in the road, or braking erratically
  • Tailgating, flashing their lights, or honking the horn erratically
  • Traveling at unusually high or low speeds
  • Straddling two lanes
  • Striking or almost striking road signs, traffic cones, or other objects
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or swerving into opposite lanes of traffic

What to do if you Spot an Impaired Driver

  • Stay far away from the other vehicle. Do not try to pass the vehicle or make the driver pull over. Don’t put yourself in danger.
  • Take note of as many details as you can, including their license plate, make and color of their car. Don’t risk your own safety to get this information, of course.
  • Finally, pull over and call 911. Give them as many details as possible, including the name of the road or nearest mile markers and the direction the car was traveling. Then, let law enforcement officers do their job.

Have You Been Injured by an Impaired Driver?

Even when alcohol- or drug-related wrecks don’t result in death, there can still be serious consequences. Victims may be seriously injured or have extensive property damage. Have you been injured in an accident with an impaired driver? The driver may face criminal charges, but you may want to file a separate personal injury claim to receive compensation for your suffering. The personal injury lawyers at Taylor King Law have 20 years of experience defending the victims of drunk driving. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Tell us your story and we’ll see if we can help.

At Taylor King Law we’re on your side, by your side for the people of Arkansas.

Tips for safer driving; Arkansas personal injury lawyer

How do you like to begin the new year? Are you a goal-getter who makes one (or more) resolutions each year and keeps them all the way through December 31? Or, perhaps, do you begin with good intentions but find yourself derailed midway through March? Maybe you’re utterly realistic (or content with yourself as you are) and don’t make resolutions at all.

Regardless of how you feel about New Year’s Resolutions, it can be helpful to see the beginning of a calendar year as a fresh start, a time to evaluate and make changes to improve your life or the lives of others.

Not sure where to begin? We suggest one resolution that everyone can keep: Become an All-Star Driver in 2017!

Beat the Odds of a Car Accident 

Think about it: the average American spends 17,600 minutes driving each year. That’s more than 45 minutes in your car each day. Driving is an everyday activity for the majority of Arkansans, since our state is more rural with fewer methods of public transportation - but it’s anything but an ordinary task.

Your odds of being killed in a car wreck are 1 in 113, compared to a 1 in 358 chance of being killed by firearm or 1 in 1,183 odds of drowning. That doesn’t mean you should throw away your car keys and never drive again. But it does mean that no matter how many times you get behind the wheel, you should never go on “autopilot.”

You can take small, tangible steps toward becoming a better driver, helping keep yourself and others safe on the road. And you can start today!

5 Ways to Become a Better Driver Today

Choose one of the following tips to put into practice the next time you get behind the wheel. Write a reminder on a brightly-colored Post-It note and stick it somewhere in the car where you’ll see it.

  1. Keep Your Hands on the Wheel at the Correct Positions. When most of us learned to drive, we were told to hold the steering wheel at “10 and 2,” referencing the numbers on a clock. Apparently, we’ve been doing it wrong. This hand position puts you at risk for hand, wrist, and even head injuries when your airbag deploys in a car wreck. Instead, the official guidelines recommend keeping your hands lower, at “9 and 3.”

    And don’t think about “hooking” the wheel, with your hand under the wheel and your palm facing you, or “palming” it, when you keep your palm resting against the wheel without closing your fingers around it. These positions don’t give you good control of the steering wheel and, again, set you up for injury in the event of a collision.

  2. Drive the Speed Limit. This is one safe driving tip that truly requires no special skills or training. Whether you’re going significantly slower or faster, you are always at a greater risk for accidents when you drive at a different speed than the cars around you. And although it may feel like you’re getting there more quickly, speeding really doesn’t save you much time, particularly when you factor in traffic and traffic lights.

    Don’t believe it? Try this interactive tool from DefensiveDriving.com to see for yourself: Does Speeding Save Time? Once you consider how much time and money you’ll waste if you’re pulled over and issued a speeding ticket, driving the posted speed limit just makes sense. 

  3. Learn to Merge Correctly. This is a tough one for many people. When we see that a lane of traffic is ending, most of us fall into one of two categories: the "rule followers" who merge as soon as they see the sign, falling in line long before the lanes actually narrow, and the "line jumpers" who wait until the last possible second to merge from the narrowing lane. According to experts, neither style of merging is correct and both, in fact, cause major traffic jams.

    Instead, you should "zipper merge," which is explained in The Urge to Merge by the New York Times as well as Lifehacker's article The Right Way to Merge. There's no guarantee that all of your fellow drivers will cooperate, but you can do your part to reduce traffic jams. Feel free to share this article on social media as a subtle nudge to your friends who could use a lesson on merging. 

  4. Eliminate Distractions. When it comes to distracted driving, texting gets the most attention because it involves both mental and physical distractions. However, when you commit to being a focused driver, you’ll need to think twice about other common car distractors: eating, changing the radio station/adjusting music settings, using your GPS or map app, and talking to other passengers.

    You’re operating a 2-ton machine. Give it your full attention; you may be surprised by how quickly your driving improves!

  5. Don’t Drive If You’re Not Alert. This is where you expect to see the standard warning against drinking alcohol and driving. Drunk driving IS a serious danger: Alcohol is involved in 1 out of every 3 traffic fatalities in the United States. But there are other factors that keep you from being alert when you drive.

    Did you know that driving after pulling an-all nighter is just as risky as driving while drunk?

    That's right, according to an Australian study on driving and sleep impairment. Once you’ve been awake for 18 hours, your driving impairment is similar to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05 percent; stay awake for 24 hours straight, and your impairment compares to a BAC of .10 percent, well over the legally drunk level of .08 percent. Certain medications and even severe illness can also impair your driving. 

What to Do When Another Driver Causes Your Wreck 

While these strategies can help you become a better, safer driver, you can't always prevent an accident. If you were the victim of a car wreck in Arkansas and have injuries, Taylor King Law is here to help. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to everyone who calls us at 1-800-CAR WRECK. If you have a case, we'll handle everything from requesting medical records to negotiating with the insurance company. Hiring an experienced Arkansas personal injury lawyer can help you protect your legal rights to compensation. 

Bicycle safety; injury lawyer Arkansas

It's not officially spring in Arkansas, but the warmer, longer days have many people shedding their heavy coats and emerging from their winter hibernation (we’re looking at you, Netflix!). You’ll begin to see many more bike riders out and about in the next few weeks.

Whether you admire their commitment to health or just wish they’d get out of your way, there are laws in Arkansas that govern how car drivers should interact with cyclists, and vice versa. Odds are, some of these will come as a surprise:

1. Bikes are not vehicles, but…
In Arkansas, bicycles are not defined as “vehicles,” but bicycle riders are granted all the rights and duties of a vehicle driver. That means that a cyclist must yield for pedestrians, stop at intersections, and signal (using arm signals) when making a turn.

2. Share the road:
Except for freeways and controlled-access highways, cyclists can use any public road, street, or highway, just as cars do. So yelling “get on the sidewalk” to a bike rider in your lane is not just rude; it's also incorrect.

3. Speaking of sidewalks:
Many states have laws prohibiting bike riders from riding on sidewalks. Many people have been injured in accidents where cyclists collided with pedestrians on a sidewalk. In Arkansas, however, there is no state law governing this. The cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Maumelle all have ordinances to keep bikers off the sidewalks and on the road. Check with your local town to see if there are local ordinances.

4. Give me three: 
As a car driver in Arkansas, you are required to keep three feet between you and a bicycle rider at all times. This is especially important when passing. If you can’t stay three feet away as you pass, wait until the road widens or traffic thins out. Ask any bike rider; they can attest to the scary feeling of having a car THISclose as it swerves around them. The 3 Feet Rule is law in 26 states, including Arkansas.

5. No cutting corners:
Since bike riders follow the same rules as drivers, this means you can’t cut them off to turn in front of them. Bicycles move more quickly than you might think, and jumping in front of them (only to slow down and make a turn) often results in a collision. If a bike is to your right and you want to turn, wait until they pass and then move over.

Car crossing in front of bicycle; right turn

Bicycle Accident? Call Taylor King Law 

If you or someone you love are injured in a bicycle accident due to the actions of a car driver, you may have legal rights to compensation. The experienced Arkansas injury lawyers at Taylor King Law are ready to help. Call us today at 1-800-CAR-WRECK to begin your FREE consultation and get answers to your questions. Don't let time run out on your legal rights. 

 

 

Water safety and drowning prevention, water injuries

When you think of personal injury lawyers, you might assume we only handle car wreck cases. And while we are passionate about helping our Arkansas neighbors who’ve been the victim of a reckless driver, personal injury encompasses much more than that. 

While water is the source of lots of summer fun, it can also be the cause of serious injury or even death.

In Arkansas, our motto is “The Natural State” for good reason: you’ll find plenty of natural water sources, from smaller ponds and bayous to more well-known lakes and rivers, including Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, the Buffalo River in northwest Arkansas, and the White River which runs through Batesville. Or, perhaps, a local waterpark or personal pool is more your style.

Wherever you’ll be cooling off this summer, it’s vital to practice smart water safety. About ten people die each day in the United States from unintentional drowning. Drowning ranks fifth on the list of leading causes of unintentional death in the US. And this number doesn’t include those who live but may suffer permanent injuries, including irreversible brain damage.

The American Red Cross and The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals have some great safety tips to avoid injuries near water. We’ve combined their advice to give you a list of Six Super Safety Tips for Water Safety and Drowning Prevention:

1. Never swim alone. Yes, adults, the buddy system even applies to you. Even if you’re an experienced swimmer, there may be factors outside of your control that put you in danger. You need a friend nearby to notice if you’re in distress and call for help if anything should happen.

2. Learn to swim. Every child is different, but experts say you can begin safely teaching children to swim when they’re as young as 6 months old. Whether you’re 3 or 35, though, it’s never too late to learn! Many local public pools offer inexpensive lessons.

3. Learn CPR. Parents, caregivers, and babysitters should become certified in CPR and first aid. A victim can spend critical minutes without oxygen if you wait for paramedics to arrive to begin administering first aid, resulting in permanent brain damage or injury.

4. Wear a life jacket if you’re boating, whether that’s in a kayak or canoe, sea-doo, or larger boat. It’s simply not worth the risk.

5. Never leave a child unattended in or around the pool. Actively observe your children and don’t assume that they’re ok because they’re quiet. Drowning is often called a “silent death” because victims are so focused on getting air that they don’t make a lot of noise or splashing motions. If your child is going to a friend’s pool or local pool where you can’t be there to supervise, be sure to check ahead of time that lifeguards or vigilant caretakers will be present.

6. Reach and throw; don’t go. Your first instinct may be to jump into the water to help someone who’s in trouble, but that puts both of your lives at risk. A person who is struggling in the water may panic and pull you downward if you try to swim to them. Instead, throw them something that floats or grab a pole that you can use to reach them.

At Taylor King Law we know firsthand how enjoyable it is to spend summer days by the pool, in a fishing boat, or paddling a kayak. Unfortunately, we also see people every day whose lives have been forever changed by water accidents. Never assume it couldn’t happen to you. Learn to swim, practice smart water safety, and teach your children to do so as well.

Have you or a loved one suffered injuries in a water accident where another person was at fault? You may have legal rights to compensation. The attorneys at Taylor King Law would be glad to talk with you, hear your story, and give a professional opinion. This consultation is FREE and at no obligation to you. Get started today by calling Taylor King at 1-800-CAR-WRECK (227-9732). Choose an experienced Arkansas injury attorney who will be On Your Side, By Your Side. 

national grilling month, taylor king, fire safety

Warm sunshine on your face, a cool breeze blowing, and the smell of something delicious wafting over from the grill – what could be better?

There are few summer Arkansas activities we love more than a backyard barbecue. After all, July is National Grilling Month! Take a look at Bradi Bear’s latest blog post to learn about that: https://www.taylorkinglaw.com/blog-topics/bradi-bear-2/national-hot-dog-month.html

With so many families enjoying the long summer days gathered around their favorite grilled goodies, it’s probably no surprise that July is also the peak month for grill fires. Familiarize yourself with these quick tips to ensure your family fun isn’t interrupted by injuries – or a visit from the local fire department!

  1. Keep your grill where it belongs. Both propane and charcoal grills should always be used outdoors. Keep it a safe distance from your home, deck railings, and overhanging tree branches – anything that could be flammable. 
  2. Keep it clean. When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your grill? If you can’t remember, it’s probably time to give it a scrub. A build up of grease can cause some serious flame flare-up, leading to burn injuries. Purchase a quality wire grill brush and use it each time you grill.  
  3. Keep close – but teach kids to keep their distance. You may be tempted to “set it and forget it,” but you should never leave your grill unattended. Children and pets are often curious about what’s cooking. It’s important to keep them at least 3 feet away from the grill at all times. Thermal burns are the leading cause of cooking-related injuries.
  4. Keep it cool – then heat it up! We can’t forget the importance of food safety when we discuss good grilling practices. Food poisoning is no joke! To avoid the risk, keep your meat refrigerated until you’re ready to place it on the grill. Before serving it up, check the internal temperature of those hamburgers and chicken kabobs; poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and burgers are safe at 160.

And of course, if you smell gas while cooking on a grill – or a gas-powered indoor stove – immediately turn it off, get away, and call the fire department. Gas leaks can cause serious injury or death.

Keep these grilling tips in mind, and keep the fun going at your next summer cookout!

If you or someone you love has been injured in a grilling accident due to a defective product or the negligence of another person, you may have legal rights to compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Taylor King Law work every day to help Arkansas accident victims like you. When you call 1-800-CAR-WRECK, you’ll get a free consultation with Taylor King, whether or not you hire our firm. We’ll be on your side, by your side, every step of the way. You’re one call away from getting help today! 

boating safety, arkansas, taylor king law

We spend a lot of time emphasizing the importance of safe driving on Arkansas roads. But in the summer, you may find yourself spending less time in your car and more time on a boat!

It’s no wonder that many of us take to water to beat the heat; great getaways like Lake Hamilton, Lake Degray, and Greers Ferry Lake are just down the road for many of us. 

Spending time on the lake is meant to be relaxing, but unfortunately, many people apply that same sense of leisure to their boating skills. With more than 200,000 boats registered with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, there are a significant number of people on Arkansas water each day of the summer season. That’s why it’s so important to brush up on your boating safety knowledge before you hit the waves!

  1. Take a Boater’s Safety Course – and get certification. Arkansas, along with more than 40 other states, requires boaters to take an approved Arkansas Game and Fish Education Course before operating a boat on state waters. You can complete the course either online or with a classroom instructor. There’s an assessment at the end; once you pass, you’re able to operate a boat, including motorboats and sailboats. We took a look at the course material and trust us – there’s a lot to learn!
  2. Wear a Life Jacket. Arkansas law requires that anyone under the age of 13 wear a life jacket while boating, and all persons must wear life jackets while on a personal watercraft (like a jet ski). It also requires every boat to have a life jacket for each person on board. Drowning causes 7 out of every 10 boating fatality accidents, and 9 out of 10 drowning victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. Experts agree that wearing a life jacket is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe around water. So why don’t more people wear them? The most common reason is concern over how they make you look or feel. However, the bulky orange life vests of years past are just that – past. Manufacturers now make life jackets in many colors, more comfortable and flattering cuts and fabrics, and multiple size options. It’s worth finding a life jacket that you’ll be proud to wear!
  3. Act Wisely about Weather. Keep a weather app on your phone and check it often. If bad weather is in the forecast, stay off the water, even if it hasn’t reached your area yet. Water and lightning don’t mix. This applies to all water activities, including canoeing and kayaking.
  4. Don’t Drink and Boat. Think of “drunk boating” in the same terms as drunk driving – it’s a serious offense. The state of Arkansas agrees; the penalty is the same for both. It is always illegal to operate or physically control (steer) a boat while under the influence of alcohol. Your first offense could leave you with up to a $1,000 fine, a six-month license suspension, and a year in jail – not to mention the risk you pose to other boaters and swimmers. If you plan to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on a boat, be sure that you will not need to operate it, even for a few minutes.
  5. Learn to Swim. Whether you’re 3 or 33 years old, it’s (almost) never too early or late to learn to swim. This is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your safety while near water, whether on boat or on shore. Many local pools offer swim lessons, and private instructors often advertise their services. Find a swim instructor near you today!

Whether on land or sea, the personal injury attorneys at Taylor King Law take safety seriously! We hope these tips will help keep your family safe as you soak up the Arkansas summer sun. 

Were you the victim of a car or boat accident where another person caused your injuries? You may have a legal claim for compensation. Call today at 1-800-CAR-WRECK to begin your FREE consultation with Taylor King. You can trust our experience Arkansas injury lawyers to be On Your Side, By Your Side. 

pedestrian crossing, car wreck, taylor king law, arkansas

When it comes to driving safely, most of us focus our attention on how to react to other vehicles on the road, whether that’s a car, motorcyle, or bicycle. But there’s another important group you may be forgetting: pedestrians.

Each year, nearly 5,000 people across the US are killed in motor-vehicle related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An additional 75,000 suffer injuries. These numbers come only from accidents that occur on public roadways, so that doesn’t include any car-related injuries that may occur on private land.

Why is pedestrian safety so vital? Car accidents can be devastating, of course, but vehicle passengers have some protection within the car’s frame and with seatbelts. Pedestrians are unprotected, so their resulting injuries are often catastrophic. Additionally, the most vulnerable pedestrians are children and people with disabilities; they may be less aware of their surroundings and less able to react quickly in an emergency situation.

The topic of pedestrian safety seems fraught with misconceptions, and today we’d like to debunk two of them. No matter how you like to travel, whether that’s in a car, on a motorcycle or bicycle, or on foot, it’s important to understand and obey the Arkansas laws related to pedestrians. Safety begins with awareness!

Myth #1: Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right-of-way (in other words; pedestrians rule the road).

It’s true that drivers ALWAYS have a duty to exercise caution and take “due care” to avoid striking any pedestrian, regardless of whether a crosswalk is present. However, Arkansas law states that if a person

is trying to cross a roadway outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection (i.e. anywhere other than a marked crosswalk or intersection), he or she must yield right-of-way to the vehicles.

You may see how this could become a complicated issue if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle outside of a crosswalk area. The pedestrian failed to yield right-of-way, but the driver failed to exercise due care in avoiding the person. Avoid taking this risk and cross only in marked crosswalks or intersections, and  never assume that a car is going to stop, even if required by law.

The law also states that if traffic controls (stoplights) are present on a road, pedestrians must not cross between two adjacent intersections except in the crosswalk. If there is a “walk/don’t walk” traffic signal, you should only cross when the signal flashes “walk.”

Myth #2: Drivers are only required to stop or yield for pedestrians if a crosswalk is clearly marked with paint or signs.

There are two types of crosswalks: marked and unmarked. The concept of an unmarked crosswalk is often misunderstood. Generally, any intersection (where two roads cross at right angles) is understood to be an unmarked crosswalk. An unmarked crosswalk is found where the sidewalk would naturally extend into the road.

Arkansas law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians at any marked OR unmarked crosswalk - that includes street corners in small towns where there may be no traffic signals or lights. You may be driving through unmarked crosswalks each day without ever realizing it!

This is particularly important in more rural areas, where there may be few traffic signals, and on college campuses where there is heavy foot traffic.

While all 50 states have laws concerning pedestrian crossings and crosswalks, each state is different. To get an overview of your own state’s specific laws, take a look at this 50 State Summary from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident where a car failed to yield to you as a pedestrian, you may have legal rights to compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Taylor King Law work every day to help Arkansas accident victims like you. We help all victims of car accidents, and that includes pedestrians and bicyclists. When you call 1-800-CAR-WRECK, you’ll get a free consultation with Taylor King, whether or not you hire our firm. We’ll be on your side, by your side, every step of the way. You’re one call away from getting help today!

school zone safety arkansas taylor king law car wrecks

Backpacks are filled with notebooks and pencils, lunches are packed, and bulletin boards are decorated - it’s Back to School time in Arkansas! Many school districts in Arkansas are already back in session, and the rest will follow suit in the coming weeks.

Your children may be ready to ace their new classes, but you face a different test each morning and afternoon: school zone driving safety.

Whether you cross paths with school buses on your morning commute, see children boarding the bus in your neighborhood, or drive through a school zone near your local campus, Back to School season requires heightened safety awareness from Arkansas drivers. Taylor King is here to give you a crash course in school-related driving safety to ensure you’ll get an “A” each time you get behind the wheel.

1.  Stop for School Buses.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but Arkansas school bus laws are commonly misunderstood. When a school bus stops on a roadway with either its red lights flashing or its stop sign raised, the law requires all vehicles traveling in BOTH directions to stop.

Most Arkansans are aware of this law on two- or three-lane city streets, but it also applies on multi-lane highways. The exception is when there is a median or dividing strip, such as a concrete barrier or large grassy strip dividing the lanes of traffic. Turning lanes are not considered a median.

This is important because much of Arkansas is rural, with buses stopping at houses on the edge of highways. Those highways, even those with a turning lane, do not have a median, which means that all traffic in BOTH directions must stop when a school bus is loading or unloading. We believe many drivers violate this law because they do not understand this specific situation, but we can all do our part to help educate our fellow drivers.

2. Be Vigilant Near Crosswalks.
Children often act impulsively and don’t always understand the safety risk of stepping into a road. That makes them particularly vulnerable to pedestrian/vehicle accidents.

While you should always come to full stop at stop signs and red-light intersections, it’s especially important to do so when children are nearby. Stop fully, look both ways, and proceed with caution through the crosswalk. Even if you’ve followed all laws, you should still yield to pedestrians and avoid a collision if at all possible.

3. School Zone? Slow Down.
If you’ve grown accustomed to breezing through school zones in your community during the summer, it’s time to hit the brakes. Arkansas law states that “a person shall not operate a motor vehicle in excess of twenty-five miles per hour when passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building.” It is also illegal to talk on the phone while driving through a school zone in Arkansas.

The law also requires ample signs and warnings to be posted at the beginning and end of the school zone, so you won’t be caught off guard - and you’ll have no excuse for speeding past a school.

“When children are present” refers to any time when children are present at crosswalks, sidewalks, roads, or highways that are part of a school zone. It also applies to situations where a traffic control person (such as a police officer) is present as well as any time that a sign-mounted light is flashing to warn you of a school zone.

Regardless of the time of day, it’s important to be alert and watchful any time you drive near a school building or zone. Early sports practices or late evening events may bring children to roads and sidewalks outside of the “normal” school hours. Watch closely and drive slowly.

The “Flashing Red, Kids Ahead” Safety Campaign

This is the fifth year for the “Flashing Red, Kids Ahead” safety campaign in Arkansas. The campaign seeks to remind drivers to stop when they see flashing red lights on a school bus (as discussed above).

Thanks to Isaac’s Law, named for Bryant elementary student Isaac Brian who was killed in 2004 after exiting his school bus, violating Arkansas school bus laws now carries a stiff penalty. Anyone convicted of passing a stopped school bus will face any combination of a fine of $250-$1000, up to 90 days in jail, driver's license suspension of 21 days to 1 year, and up to 400 hours of community service. And in cases like Isaac’s where the driver kills a student, he or she is guilty of negligent homicide, a class C felony.