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Not all attorneys are created equal. The truth is that many attorneys lack the passion, experience and ability to fully represent the interests of their clients in a personal injury matter. That is, in order to receive the full value for your injuries and damages, it is imperative that you find a personal injury attorney who has your best interests in mind. If you do, chances are that you will have a long and beneficial relationship.

When and if you are injured through the negligence of another, these are some of the qualities you should look for in an accident attorney:

  1. SUCCESS – How much experience does this attorney actually have? Does he or she try cases before a jury, or does he or she settle cases for less than full value? Is the attorney willing to try my case? Will the attorney that I am meeting with, the attorney that will actually handle my case or will I be passed off onto a young associate?
  2. COMMAND OF THE COURT – Trial attorneys are only as good as their ability to actually try a case. Before you hire an accident attorney, ask about their successes and failures. Find out how they try cases and what their philosophy is. Determine if the attorney is familiar with the court system. Some “trial attorneys” don’t really know where the courthouse is, let alone how to try a case.
  3. COMMON SENSE – The attorney you hire needs to have some basic common sense. Can the attorney grasp the peculiarities of your particular case? Can he or she understand what the accident has caused to your life? Most important, can you relate to the attorney? If the attorney is someone that you have nothing in common with and uses words you don’t understand, then a jury will not relate to him or her and you won’t get the best result.
  4. PEOPLE SKILLS – A lot of cases are settled with an insurance adjuster. If this can be done for full value then this works to the benefit of everyone concerned. To do this, an attorney must be able to relate to the insurance company and be able to honestly, fairly, and successfully explain how the accident has caused you harm. This needs to be done in a non-threatening manner. As I have been told, “No one has ever been bitched at relentlessly and then concluded that the other side was right.”
  5. TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS – The old standard rings true in law, time is money. A good attorney understands how to manage his time, the time of the client and most importantly, how to get the best result. Part of this is communication skills and part is the ability to get to the heart of the matter. In personal injury cases, attorneys are paid by the result and not the hour. Therefore, if an attorney is in love with his or her voice and drones on endlessly, your time is being wasted.

So, now that you know the qualities to look for, how do you get this type of information. First, remember to have a healthy bit of skepticism. Personal Injury attorneys are trying to sell themselves. Yes they are professionals, and yes they are for the most part hard working, but they are in business and there is a tremendous amount of competition. Trust what the attorney tells you, but try to verify.

Here are the 14 killer questions to ask of every personal injury attorney.

1. How long have you been practicing law as a licensed attorney?
There is something to be said for youth and enthusiasm, but there is also a lot to be said for experience. After 28 years of practice, I can honestly say that I am not the same attorney I was when I started and like a fine wine I have improved with age. This is not the be all and end all. Some attorneys who have been practicing for years are simply bored with what they do and have lost their passion. This is just an indicator of what depth of experience the attorney has.

2. Has your license ever been suspended or revoked?
This is a red flag. There may be a very good reason why an attorney has had their license suspended or revoked. If so, ask about the situation. What caused it and how has the situation been fixed? Trust your gut and it the explanation doesn’t ring true, then it’s time to find someone else.

3. How long have you been practicing as a personal injury plaintiff attorney?
Just because you have been practicing patent law for 20 years doesn’t mean you know a lot about personal injury. And it is not enough that you have been representing insurance companies for 15 years. There is a world of difference between defending a personal injury case and representing the injured victim. You may get some insight into how a case should be handled, but the only true way to become a great trial attorney is to actually be in the trenches and fight for justice.

4. What percentage of your practice is related to personal injury and wrongful death cases?
My mother once told me it is better to be an expert in one area than a jack of all trades. If an attorney is dedicated to the representation of injured victims he or she will have very little time for anything else. The quest for justice for injured people is time consuming. Dealing with other areas of the law and being knowledgeable about each individual area is exhausting. I would rather be great at one thing then good at many. When it comes to my attorney, I want him to be great at my case and care less about anything else.

5. How many court and jury trials have you handled? What are your results?
There is a reason that personal injury attorneys are called trial attorneys. It’s because they are willing to go to court and find justice. If a personal injury attorney simply tries to negotiate every deal, then the insurance carriers will shortly figure this out and will low-ball every offer. That means that as the client you will not get full value for your damages. On the other hand, if your attorney has a successful track record, the insurance company will know and will not want to be the next victim in court. However, be wary of an attorney that says he has never lost. This means that he isn’t willing to go out on a limb and fight for every case. An attorney who has never lost has never experienced the anguish that comes with it and is unwilling to go to the ends of the earth to win for you. Having tried and lost cases, I can tell you it is an experience I do my very best not to relive. I will work myself to the bone to provide the very best representation so I never have to taste defeat again.

6. Who will I be dealing with? Can I speak with you, or will my case be handled by someone else?
You want your attorney to be accessible and knowledgeable about your case. It is fine to have a paralegal or associate work on the case, but you are hiring the attorney for his experience, not his staff or underlings. If you are simply meeting with a suit and the case will be handed off to someone else, maybe you are talking to the wrong person. Why did you just spend twenty minutes going through the first five questions when the person answering the questions will not be handling your case?

7. How are you rated by your peers? Can you provide me with anything to support this?
There are lots of services that rate attorneys. Some are good, some not so good. A good attorney will be able to show you how he or she has been rated. However, be careful that the rating is independent of any payment. Anyone can pay to be in the “Top 10 Attorneys” list. It is another matter to not be able to buy your way to the top. In addition, you should be careful that the attorney is not just under the umbrella of a firm and given the rating by proxy. A law firm can have great attorneys and poor attorneys. You want your attorney to be great.

8. Are you an active member (not just paying dues) to any trial lawyer associations?
There must be hundreds of trial lawyer associations. Attorneys, like all professionals can simply pay dues to be a member of an organization. Such things are in reality meaningless. On the other hand, active participation in an organization shows a degree of concern and interest. Does the attorney actively participate on the Boards or Associations or committees of trial lawyer groups? Does she work for organizations that support areas of interest in the community? For example does the attorney work for Mothers Against Drunk Drives, or similar community based organizations. Hopefully, the attorney does not finish her day at work and then just go home. Hopefully, the attorney gives back to the community.

9. Can you provide me with the names of references that I can contact?
If an attorney is good, then his former clients should speak well of him. After 28 years of practice, I have many former clients who have returned, and more importantly have sent me their friends and relatives to represent. These former clients are obviously pleased with the representation provided and will be happy to speak to potential clients. If an attorney cannot provide positive references, then there may be a real problem.

10. Do you have any testimonials about your services?
Just like references, testimonials from both peers and clients will give you an indication of how the attorney has done in the past. Some attorneys are great, but are not well liked by their peers. This is an area that should be evaluated. It may be jealousy, or it may be that the attorney is simply not a nice person. The absence of peer reviews is an indicator. In addition, former clients who have written reviews and testimonials are ready and willing to permanently say how they feel . This shows a level of trust and confidence that should be considered.

11. Have you been recognized by anyone or any association for your representation?
An attorney who has been practicing for many years has probably handled some difficult cases. These type of cases can be recognized for the effort that it takes to bring them from the beginning to trial or ultimate result. These types of cases are important because they let you know that this is an attorney that is willing to fight for you. Any decent attorney can handle your basic auto rear end case, but does this attorney have the ability to truly fight for the full value of your case? An attorney that has been recognized for his or her representation in the past is evidence of the extent to which this attorney will go to represent you. It is also an indication that the attorney will go out there and fight as opposed to just settling for the last offer.

12. Will you be able to look me in the eye and tell me the truth about my case and not just tell me what I want to hear?
Not all attorneys are good at answering the hard questions. Some don’t deal well with bad facts or issues and won’t tell you “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” If after talking with an attorney you don’t have a feeling of complete trust, then it is time to find a new attorney. I have found that for me, I tell every client that I will answer any question fully and completely with the unvarnished truth. I tell my clients that I do this partly because it is the way I was raised and partly because I am not smart enough to remember any partial truth that I may tell. As a result, I simply tell the whole truth and will explain exactly why things are the way they are. I sleep better this way. You want your attorney to be completely honest with you even with bad information.

13. Will you be able to fully account for all settlement funds?
It is not enough to simply give a client a check and say here you go. A good attorney will account for every last penny and will show you specifically where the funds came from and where they were spent. An attorney acts as a “fiduciary” that is one of trust. If the attorney will not fully account for the funds spent and received on your case then you may have an issue.

14. What do you need me to do during the case?
I view the attorney client relationship as a partnership. You and your attorney are working towards a common goal. This means that you will need to communicate and consult on numerous issues during the case. For me it means that in order to explain how you have been affected by the accident, I need to get to know you. I need to learn your story. Anyone can relate the facts of an accident and the medical history. It is quite another thing to be able to tell your client’s story and the consequences. This requires a real relationship and an attorney that doesn’t want anything from you won’t know your story. This attorney will not be able to fully understand the impact he accident has had on your life and therefore can truly negotiate a resolution for the full value of your damages.

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Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Explains Catastrophic Injuries That Lead to Hearing Loss

The sense of hearing is very important for an individual’s quality of life, but often is not taken very seriously. It isn’t until it is too late and the damage has been done that people get concerned about their ability to hear. Much of the damage done to ears is irreversible so it’s important to protect your ears whenever possible. Because the damage can alter your life and the life of loved ones, it’s important you consult with experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine whether you deserve compensation.

Injuries that may result in loss of hearing

Unfortunately, our ears are exposed to the world at all times. There’s no way to turn them off, unlike with eyesight. This leaves them vulnerable when exposed to physical danger and loud sounds, especially over time. Individuals may not notice damage creeping up on them when exposed to dangerous conditions on a daily basis. There are several ways ears and hearing may be damaged, such as:

  • Physical accidents – Trauma to the head may cause a loss of hearing. This can occur during car accidents or other physical events that involve blunt trauma.
  • Work environments – When working in loud environments, such as concert venues and construction sites, it is quite common for individuals to incur hearing damage.
  • Medical procedures – Some medications can be ototoxic (damaging to the ears). It also may be possible to lose hearing during surgical procedures, such as tumor removal. Hearing loss also may occur with improper treatment of ear infections or compacted earwax.

Types of hearing loss

The ear is relatively complicated, with several parts that can cause a loss of hearing when damaged. Below are the three main types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss – This type of hearing loss is caused by damage to the ear canal, ear drum, or the little bones within the middle ear (just on the other side of the ear drum). Injuries that may cause this type of hearing loss include compounded earwax or infections that are not properly treated, damage to the eardrum for example caused by a foreign body, and perforated eardrums caused by trauma.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss – This type of hearing loss is due to problems in the inner ear and relate to damage to the nerves. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by exposure to loud noises, trauma to the head, and various viruses and diseases.
  • Mixed hearing loss – Sometimes there are both types of damages. It is possible to have damage to the inner ear or nerve as well as the outer and middle parts.

If you have suffered any type of hearing loss from an injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Sacramento personal injury lawyer who has a skill in handling these type of personal injury cases can represent you in court during this difficult time in your life.

Hearing loss symptoms

People don’t often realize or want to admit when they are experiencing problems hearing. It may be embarrassing, or they just don’t want it to be true. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you may have hearing loss:

  • Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing in groups?
  • Do you listen to the TV or radio at volumes that bother others?
  • Do you often blame other people for mumbling, believing you can hear but not understand what they say?
  • Do you have trouble hearing when someone is speaking behind you?
  • Do you have trouble hearing people on the phone?
  • Do you often miss your alarm clock going off?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in the movies?

It’s important to get tested to see how severe your hearing loss is and to determine the cause.

The aftermath

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of an individual’s life. It is difficult to communicate with others on a daily basis, which is important for many parts of life. Often, people who have hearing loss isolate themselves because it can be so frustrating trying to communicate. This can lead to depression, which creates a vicious cycle of isolation. When hearing loss is severe, it can be dangerous to drive or ride bikes, as an individual can’t hear when an emergency vehicle is approaching or the warning honks of other vehicles.

If an individual loses their ability to hear due to someone else’s negligence, for example in a car accident or at the workplace, they may have a case to receive just compensation. Speak to your local injury lawyers who can evaluate your case and determine the best course of action. Employees have the right to be protected from damaging environments, but often are not offered the necessary equipment. Treatment for hearing loss and changes to one’s lifestyle can be expensive. The change in quality of life and frequent depression that accompanies the loss of a sense deserve to be compensated.

Proving negligence can be difficult and complicated, but is the best chance for an individual to receive the compensation they deserve. It is important to seek legal advice from skilled personal injury attorneys in these situations, even when the negligence isn’t obvious or certain. An experienced law firm will be able to investigate the situation and determine whether you have a case.

Contact Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured do not hesitate and contact a Sacramento personal injury attorney at The Weinberger Law Firm to discuss your legal options. We have offices in Sacramento & Folsom for your convenience and have the resources and expertise to aggressively litigate your case in court, fighting to get you just compensation for your injury.

Call (916) 357-6789 today for a free consultation with our Sacramento personal injury lawyer regarding your personal injury case.

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Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney

Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney Explains Premises Liability Law and Who is Responsible If You Are Injured

As if being robbed or assaulted while on someone else’s property, or at a place of business wasn’t enough!

Now you have serious injuries that require medical attention!

What happens if the assailant gets away and there is no possibility of recovering your damages from them? You may not know, but property owners have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment, and if they do not, they may be deemed liable for injuries sustained on their premises.

Property Owner’s Responsibility

In California, property owners are required to ensure their premises is safe, habitable, and in good working condition. If any of these conditions are not met, then the property owner could be sued for damages that result from their neglect. This is governed by premises liability law and determining whether or not you have a case can be a complicated task. You should consult with a personal injury attorney if you have been injured on another’s premises and feel the injury could have been avoided had the property been properly maintained.

What Does Safe Mean with Regards to Crime on the Premises?

The law states that for a property owner to be liable for injuries sustained on their property, they must reasonably have been able to detect the flaw that caused injury. In the case of a slip and fall accident caused by a broken stairway, the landlord most certainly should have noticed, and remedied the issue.

When we enter the realm of injuries caused by crime on that same landlord’s premises, it becomes more difficult to prove that the owner should have reasonably assumed the crime could happen. Better yet, how could the landlord have mitigated the occurrence of that crime or further protected those that occupy the property? These are all questions for a qualified Sacramento personal injury attorney, call today for a free consultation!

If it can be shown that crime is prevalent at a location, and the landlord was aware, California law may require them to have security on the premises. If security was not present, or security was acting negligent, there may be grounds for suit. Precautions that could or should be taken include:

  • Hiring security personnel
  • Restricting street access to the premises with fencing or gating
  • Modifying operating hours
  • Trimming foliage to allow clear lines of sight
  • Installing anti-crime light fixtures
  • Installing security cameras

Contact Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured do not hesitate and contact a Sacramento personal injury attorney at The Weinberger Law Firm to discuss your legal options. We have offices in Sacramento & Folsom for your convenience and have the resources and expertise to aggressively litigate your case in court, fighting to get you just compensation for your injury.

Call (916) 357-6789 today for a free consultation with our Sacramento personal injury attorney regarding your personal injury case.

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sacramento accident attorneys

SACRAMENTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS

THE “STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS” (SOL)

Statute of limitations are deadlines for filing a lawsuit and every state has them. The period of time during which you can file a lawsuit varies depending on the type of legal claim. For example, with personal injury cases, you have two years to file from the time of the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered. For a breach of written contract, its four years from the date the contract was broken and two years for an oral contract. Any property damage lawsuits have 3 years from the date the damage occurred.

If you fail to go to court and file a lawsuit against those who have injured you within the 2 year time frame, the court will likely refuse to hear your case at any time in the future and your right to compensation will be lost. There is a time limit of 6 months to file an injury claim against a government entity and claimants must adhere to a strict set of procedural rules. In some personal injury cases, the defendant may make the argument that you’re actually to blame(at least partially) for causing the accident that forms the basis of your claim. IF you do share some level of liability, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you’ll end up receiving from other at-fault persons and businesses. In shared fault injury cases, California follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule which basically means the amount of compensation you’re entitled to will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident.

There is a strict liability for dog attack cases. Unlike most states, California does not adopt the “one bite” rule which gives dow owners exceptions for the first time their dog attacks someone. In California, the owner is “strictly liable” regardless of the times the dog has bitten someone.

Because lawsuits are a long and complicated process, contact Sacramento accident attorneys at The Weinberger Law Firm immediately so you can get started on getting the compensation you deserve.

accident lawyer sacramento california

ACCIDENT LAWYER SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA

THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE

Your interests and those of your insurance company will conflict, especially when an uninsured or underinsured motorist injures you. In this case, you will seek compensation from your own insurance company. In every auto accident, your insurer will pay your medical bills and lost wages. But it is through the insurer’s investigation of the accident that determines total financial payout. It is vital that you contact an auto accident attorney at the Weinberger Law Firm whose only interest is to obtain maximum compensation for you. Many insurance companies give out advice that should be followed at the scene of an accident. These include calling the police; not admitting fault at the scene; exchanging insurance information with the other driver; and obtaining the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number etc.

The final piece of advice is to notify your insurance agent immediately. Although your policy obligates you to notify your insurance company of any accidents, your attorney should personally do so if injuries were involved. Without notifying your lawyer, you may make mistakes that will go against you in the future. Employees at the insurance company are trained to investigate accident cases to defend against fraudulent and exaggerated claims in order to protect their company’s pocket. Sometimes insurance companies misrepresent the amount of their policy limits in order to settle cases for far less than justified by the nature of the injuries. In some cases, insurance adjusters might advise claimants to avoid getting an attorney because the lawyer would supposedly take all of the money. It is important to understand that contacting your lawyer first is always safer and wiser.

If you were injured due to the negligence of another, regardless of the nature of the underlying accident, it is important to contact an experienced injury attorney to discuss your legal options. The Weinberger Law Firm has the resources and expertise to aggressively litigate your case in court, fighting to get you just compensation for your injury. Call (916) 357-6767 today for a free consultation regarding your personal injury case.

sacramento auto accident attorney

SACRAMENTO AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

THE AUTO ACCIDENT EXPERIENCE LOG

You should begin an “Auto Accident Experience Log” immediately following the auto accident. In this log, you should document everything related to the auto accident. For example, all the information you have collected at the scene should be kept in this log. You should also keep a continuous diary of phone calls, correspondence, and bills relating to your recovery. In addition, you should keep a running diary of your physical and emotional treatment and healing.

There are a number of reasons this log is important. First, an ongoing record is a much more reliable and accurate method of documenting your case than a rough reconstruction months after the auto accident. The better you can document your claims, the more apt you will be to get the settlement you deserve. Not only are tangible medical bill important, an honest ongoing account of your emotional and physical healing process is useful in evaluating your recovery as well.

If a criminal case is involved such as drunk driving, such a log can be useful when asked to write a Victim Impact Statement. Keep in mind that the log may be considered “discoverable: in a criminal or civil case and a copy turned over to the other side.

Recording your ongoing healing process, how you feel and what treatment you have received, will help you communicate with the medical professionals treating you. In addition it will give you some perspective on your own progress. It can be comforting to be able to review your progress from week to week.

The log itself need not be fancy. A three-ring notebook or an expandable accordion file will work best. Any system where you can keep ongoing written journal/log and keep loose bills and letters together is what you need.

If you were injured due to the negligence of another, regardless of the nature of the underlying accident, it is important to contact an experienced injury attorney to discuss your legal options. The Weinberger Law Firm has the resources and expertise to aggressively litigate your case in court, fighting to get you just compensation for your injury. Call (916) 357-6767 today for a free consultation regarding your personal injury case.

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Personal Injury Attorneys in Sacramento Discuss Danger of High Winds

This winter has certainly been a wet and wild one for Northern California so far this season. The Sacramento Valley in particular has seen some extraordinary winter weather and the third week of January brought with it incredibly strong winds that have left the Sacramento area rebuilding on this Thursday, January 19, 2017. High winds were reported across the Valley, with the strongest gust coming in at an intense 63mph, which was reported at the Sacramento International Airport. 50mph gusts were reported across the region, and reports from SMUD indicate that almost 50,000 people in the immediate Sacramento region suffered power outages last night and early this morning as a result of downed power lines.

Power wasn’t the only thing people lost last night, many individual’s homes, vehicles, and other personal property were damaged in the high winds, and one vehicle was actually struck by a falling tree on the corner of 19th and X streets in Sacramento. In El Dorado Hills, multiple reports came in of trees being uprooted and falling onto houses and cars as a result of intense wind. Downed trees were also responsible for road closures across Northern California, and Highway 160 was closed from Highway 12 up to the Antioch bridge as a result of downed trees blocking the roadway.

All this crazy weather and the damage associated with it might have you thinking who will be paying for all of this property damage and personal injury. Lucky for you, the Sacramento personal injury attorneys at The Weinberger Law Firm are taking the time to explain a few important items pertaining to liability in these scenarios. First we will explain how to determine who owns the tree.

California Civil Code Section 833 states that if the trunk of a tree stands wholly on the land of one landowner, that landowner owns the tree regardless of whether its roots, foliage, or branches have grown onto the land of another. California Civil Code Section 834 states that if the trunk of a tree stands partly on the land of two adjoining landowners, then both landowners own the tree. Now that ownership has been attributed, you can attempt to determine liability and whether you or the tree owner’s insurance policy will cover anything.

  • What happens if my tree falls onto my house or property?
  • What happens if my neighbor’s tree falls onto my house or property?
  • What happens if my tree falls onto my neighbor’s house or property?

Acts of God and Liability

The above are questions that are floating around in the minds of thousands of Northern Californians today, and they are not always easy to answer. The main question to ask when determining liability and coverage for damage caused by a fallen tree is whether the tree toppled due to “an act of god” (term used by insurance companies) or it was related to negligence. The term “act of god” is used to describe events that take place in which a property owner has no control over the situation. An extreme wind storm or other weather event falls into this category, and therefore, if a tree fell on your house and was caused solely by the wind storm, your insurance policy would likely cover it regardless of who owns the tree.

Negligence and Liability

Not all trees that fall during a windstorm, however, fall because of the wind. Property owners are expected to maintain a certain level of safety on their property, and inspecting and maintaining their trees is part of this responsibility. If damage is caused by a diseased or damaged tree, insurance companies will likely determine that negligence on the part of the property owner caused the tree to fall, not an “act of god”. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying out claims, and they will do all they can to prove negligence in the event of a fallen tree. You need an experienced personal injury attorney in Sacramento to navigate the process for you and ensure you are not taken for a ride.

Have you been injured by a falling tree in Sacramento?

Was your car or home damaged by a falling tree in Sacramento? The Weinberger Law Firm has the top personal injury attorney in Sacramento and the right wrongful death attorney in Sacramento to help you with your injury needs. Call a Sacramento personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation with a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer that can help get you the compensation you deserve.

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Smartphones and other handheld electronic devices have become woven into the fabric of daily life. There are some routines and activities, though, that should stay smartphone-free. One in particular: driving.

According to Distraction.gov, there were 3,154 auto accident fatalities attributed to distracted driving in 2013, and that same year distracted driving resulted in about 424,000 injuries. While texting and driving is one of the most dangerous kinds of distracted driving, a survey from earlier this year shows that texting isn’t the only smartphone activity that is putting motorist’s lives at risk.

In a poll commissioned by AT&T as part of the company’s “It Can Wait” campaign, more than 2,000 drivers admitted to some very dangerous behavior behind the wheel. All of the respondents said they were smartphone users, and disturbingly, 61 percent admitted to texting while driving.

In addition to texting, 33 percent of survey participants said they emailed while driving. Twenty-eight percent said they drove and searched the Internet at the same time, while 27 percent said they used Facebook while operating a vehicle.

Some drivers (17 percent) drove distractedly by taking selfies, and others used Twitter (14 percent), Instagram (also 14 percent), video (12 percent), Snapchat (11 percent) and video chat (10 percent).

The reality is that distracted driving is comparable to drunken driving in terms of how the two behaviors raise the risk of injury and death. California already bans texting while driving, as well as use of handheld devices for all drivers. Still, far too many people continue to put their lives and the lives of others at risk by prioritizing gadgetry over safety.

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Whenever a pedestrian and a motorized vehicle collide, there is no question as to which one will win. Because of this, pedestrians have a vested interest in paying attention to their surroundings and always looking out for cars and trucks. The incentive for this vigilance is obvious: Saving your own life.

Unfortunately, drivers are not the only travelers who are distracted these days. A growing number of pedestrians are being struck and killed in traffic accidents, at least in part, because their eyes are staring at cellphones and their ears are listening to music coming from a pair of headphones. Here in Sacramento and across California generally, pedestrian accidents have become an especially vexing problem along light-rail train routes.

Last year alone, about 154 people in California were struck by trains. Nearly two-thirds of those victims died. The rate of train accidents last year went up nearly 50 percent from just the previous year.

Earlier this month, Sacramento Regional Transit began a safety and awareness campaign aimed at pedestrians but also focusing on bicyclists and drivers. The title of the campaign is: “See Tracks? Think Train!” It aims to call attention to the many grade-level crossings in Sacramento where light-rail train tracks intersect with streets and sidewalks.

If your daily commute puts you in contact with a rail line (and most commutes do), please be sure to follow some basic safety rules. They include looking both ways before crossing a track, obeying crossing arm gates and signals and finishing a cross quickly with no stopping in the middle. A little common sense and focused attention could very well save your life.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, “Sacramento agency: Too many distracted pedestrians hit by trains,” Tony Bizjak, March 18, 2015

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