California Emergency Responders Growing Cause of Distracted Driving Accidents

emergency responders

Increase in Distracted Driving Among Emergency Responders Leads to Serious Accidents

emergency respondersNew statistics from Southern California show a rise in distracted driving accidents caused by emergency responders, such as firefighters and police officers.

On Sunday, October 5th, a Los Angeles-area newspaper reported that distracted driving accidents caused by police officers, firefighters, and EMTs in ambulances killed three Southern California residents, and injured 140 other people. In all, distracted driving among emergency responders led to 180 accidents just last year. That number was up from 165 distracted driving collisions in 2012.

The report said that distracted driving accidents caused by emergency responders had gone up 122% in the last decade. A huge factor in such collisions is an increase in in-vehicle technology such as GPS and built-in computers, which are supposed to help emergency responders get to the scene of an accident or crime more efficiently. Emergency responders also have exemptions in many states’ distracted driving laws, which allows them to use cell or smart phones as part of their job.

“Black-and-whites now are equipped with more equipment that affords faster and more accurate information to officers, but at the same time provides a certain degree of distraction while driving,” Robert Stresak, executive director of California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, told the newspaper.

One of the distracted driving victims was 48-year-old Gregory Kirwin, whose daughters were awarded $15 million in a civil lawsuit filed after their father was rear-ended by a state fire chief who was talking on his phone, but using a hands-free device. Another victim from last year, Milton Olin, was cycling along Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles when a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy struck him, because the officer was distracted while typing on his patrol car computer regarding a recent fire call.

However, the number of distracted driving collisions in 2013 was still low compared to 2008’s statistics, in which the number of emergency responder-caused distracted driving collisions topped 200.

The current Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department manual prohibits cell phone use in vehicles “absent extenuating circumstances,” but there are no explicit guidelines for in-car computer use. Other Los Angeles County emergency responders have similar vague policies on computer use, including the fire department, although that department requires two in-vehicle fire fighters, and they train the passenger to use the phone, camera, or computer while the other focuses on driving.

“Do we legislate or create policies for issues that are not seriously negatively affecting public safety?” said Officer Leland Tang, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. “If there was this broad situation where you’re having people die in record numbers because of negligent operation of (mobile digital computers) and data shows it, then, yes.”

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

Man Charged in Fatal Boating Accident

fatal boating accident

Man on Jet Ski Charged in Fatal Boating Accident from May

fatal boating accidentA Midlands-area man has been charged with reckless homicide related to a boating accident he caused while driving a jet ski on Lake Marion in May of this year.

Justin Reed Walters, 26, was arrested and charged with reckless homicide by operation of a boat on Monday, September 29th. He is believed to be responsible for the fatal boating accident that killed 19-year-old Millicent Anne McDonald.

On May 19th, the day of the fatal boating accident, Walters reported passed a field sobriety test. Reportedly, McDonald and Walters were riding personal watercraft near landings around 7 PM that day, when Walters crashed into McDonald.

McDonald was airlifted to a hospital, but she never regained consciousness and died 24 hours later.

The investigation took 132 days – just over 4 months – to determine fault in the boating accident.

Melissa Grice, McDonald’s mother, said she hopes that the fatal boating accident criminal charges will serve as a warning to those who participate in water sports. “You don’t have to have a driver’s license to drive a boat or a jet ski,” Grice said. “But boats and jet skis don’t even have brakes, so it’s up to people to be responsible, to maintain proper speed and be careful. You’ve got to look out for yourself out there, and you’ve got to be looking out for others. I don’t want any other family to have to go through what we’ve been through and are still going through.”

“He has reckless behavior,” she said. “What other family has to be dealt this life sentence?”

Boating Accident Injuries in South Carolina

With miles and miles of coast serving as a prime location for water sports, South Carolina  water related injuries can and do occur.

Boating accidents are often caused by:

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Injury Cases from Boating Accidents

If your boating accident injuries are the result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. The South Carolina boat accident attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC, will fight hard to obtain the compensation that you deserve. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us.803.252.4800.

Man Arrested for Boating Accident

boating accident

Man Faces Charges in Boating Accident that Led to Death

boating accidentClarendon County police and officers from the SC Department of Natural Resources have arrested a man on charges from a boating accident in July that killed a University of South Carolina student.

The boating accident that occurred on Lake Marion last month led to the death of 21-year-old Haley Joanne Bordeaux of Sumter, who was attending USC. Her boat was hit by 38-year-old Chad Morris on July 4th, who then left the scene of the crime.

July 4th is a common time for boating accidents and deaths, as Independence Day celebrations often occur outside and on the water during the hottest days of summer.

Morris has been charged with reckless homicide and failure to render aid. Bordeaux was on the boat with her boyfriend and two other friends, none of whom were injured in the boating accident. The group had pulled their boat up to a landing when Morris’s craft struck them, severely injuring Bordeaux who was taken to a hospital. She was pronounced dead later.

Morris was released from jail on a $40,000 bond.

Boating Accident Injuries in South Carolina

South Carolina is home to 2,876 miles of shoreline and 437,672 acres of lakes including Lake Murray and Lake Wateree.  This creates seemingly limitless opportunities for recreational activities on Lake Murray and Lake Wateree and along the South Carolina coast. Unfortunately whether sailing, or riding a jet ski, recreational water sports also create the opportunity for a water related injury.

Boating is an activity that thousands of people in South Carolina participate in throughout the year.  Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions are taken, boating accidents can and do occur. A boating accident does not occur as often as a car accident; however, it can be just as deadly. A crash or explosion can result in a fire and injure people around the boat.  A negligent boater can permanently disable or even kill innocent passengers in a split second.

Boating accidents are commonly the result of:

The insurance companies who most often defend at-fault drivers spend millions of dollars teaching their adjusters how to successfully deny claims. Do not let insurance adjusters take advantage of the situation by settling your claim for as little as possible. If you have been in a South Carolina boating accident, it is important that you understand your legal rights.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Injury Cases from Boating Accidents

If your boating accident injuries are the result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. The South Carolina boat accident attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC, will fight hard to obtain the compensation that you deserve. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us.803.252.4800.

Settlement in Lake Murray Boating Accident Wrongful Death Case

boating accident

Family Settles in Wrongful Death Case for Lake Murray Boating Accident

boating accidentThe family of a man killed in a boating accident on Lake Murray in May 2010 has agreed to a settlement from the boat driver’s insurer for $77,200.

Randall Carter of Irmo was killed in a boating accident after the boat’s driver, Steven Miller, collided with another vessel during a late night outing to go camping. Both Carter and Matthew Kyle Howk of Columbia were killed in the boating accident.

As part of the settlement, Miller admitted no wrongdoing in the boating accident and wrongful death case. The settlement will also give Miller “peace from litigation and save the expense of trial.”

The boating accident settlement could also be a prelude to resolving criminal charges against Miller. He currently faces two counts of felony boating under the influence of alcohol. Reportedly, he also did not display proper lighting on his boat, although he was boating late at night.

The crash led to the deaths of two women on the other boat as well.

In the boating accident lawsuit that led to the wrongful death settlement, Carter’s family contended that Miller was speeding out of control.

Howk’s family is not pursuing damages against Miller, either criminal or civil.

Boating Accidents in South Carolina

South Carolina is home to 2,876 miles of shoreline and 437,672 acres of lakes including Lake Murray and Lake Wateree.  This creates seemingly limitless opportunities for recreational activities on Lake Murray and Lake Wateree and along the South Carolina coast. Unfortunately whether sailing, or riding a jetski, recreational water sports also create the opportunity for a water related injury.

Boating is an activity that thousands of people in South Carolina participate in throughout the year.  Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions are taken, boating accidents can and do occur. A boating accident does not occur as often as a car accident; however, it can be just as deadly. A crash or explosion can result in a fire and injure people around the boat.  A negligent boater can permanently disable or even kill innocent passengers in a split second.

Boating accidents are commonly the result of:

The insurance companies who most often defend at-fault drivers spend millions of dollars teaching their adjusters how to successfully deny claims. Do not let insurance adjusters take advantage of the situation by settling your claim for as little as possible. If you have been in a South Carolina boating accident, it is important that you understand your legal rights.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Injury Cases from Boating Accidents

If your boating accident injuries are the result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. The South Carolina boat accident attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC, will fight hard to obtain the compensation that you deserve. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us.803.252.4800.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in BUI Crash from 2010

shutterstock_141571273Families of Victims of Boating Accident in 2010 File Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In May 2010, three friends decided to go camping on an island in Lake Murray late at night. However, the camping trip ended in a deadly crash, killing two of the three boat’s passengers when the boat collided with a second boat on the lake. Now, the victims’ families are filing wrongful death lawsuits against both boat’s drivers. The wrongful death lawsuits were filed this spring by Mary Howk and Lynn Leggette, who allege that their sons’ deaths were caused by recklessness and carelessness on the part of Steven Miller, the victims’ friend, and the other boat driver, David Porth. Both Miller and Porth deny responsibility for the victims’ deaths. However, in 2010, both boat drivers were charged with BUI. Miller faces two counts of felony boating under the influence (BUI), and authorities say that his boat was not displaying the proper lighting required at night. Porth faces one count of felony BUI. So far, no other criminal charges, such as manslaughter, have been levied against either Miller or Porth. The families’ wrongful death lawsuits allege that both boats were speeding, out of control, and failed to yield to each other, leading to the fatal accident. Prosecutors in the case hope to settle the wrongful death lawsuits by the end of the year. “We’ve been working on getting all the parties together,” said Nicole Holland, spokeswoman for the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  While mourning their loss, surviving family members are often with mounting medical bills, the loss of an income, and sudden expenses such as hospital bills and funeral costs. If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one. Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for:

  • Medical bills and funeral expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of consortium and loss of support.

Depending upon the circumstances, our South Carolina wrongful death attorneys may also assert a claim for punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in such behavior

The Strom Law Firm Can Help With Wrongful Death Cases

The wrongful death lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC, will help you during this extremely difficult and emotional time. You do not have to face the emotional and financial pain of a loved one’s wrongful death alone. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Parasailing Accident Kills SC Man

A parasailing accident off Florida’s west coast killed a South Carolina tourist on Monday, June 27, 2011.

The St. Petersburg Times reported the fatal accident happened about a mile off Longboat Key after the boat lost speed and the victim floated down to the water.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said the South Carolina man was in the air when the boat started experiencing a problem and stopped moving.

The Coast Guard stated the victim fell into the water from as high as 800 feet at an unknown speed.  The man was waving his hands while in the water and wearing a life jacket.

“What we do know is that he landed in the water just fine, but something happened to cause him to die once he was in the water,” said wildlife commission spokesman Gary Morse. “He did not come down hard.”

The tourist was pulled back to the boat, but was unconscious.

The coast guard transported the man to Coquina boat ramp on Anna Maria Island, where Manatee County emergency workers pronounced him dead about 5:55 p.m.

The Coast Guard is still investigating the fatal incident.

If you need legal advice, we recommend that you seek the advice of a licensed attorney.  If you have any questions about this blog and/or need to talk with an attorney, contact us today for a free, no cost consultation to discuss your legal rights. At Strom Law Firm, L.L.C, our attorneys provide comprehensive legal services designed to protect your rights and your interests.  Our lawyers are licensed in South Carolina, New York, and Georgia.