Recently in Car Accident Category

Travel safe this holiday season: Winter weather tips for Springfield drivers

December 19, 2014

winterroad2.jpgWith the holidays just around the corner - and after our first taste of winter weather over the last few weeks - our personal injury lawyers want to remind you about the importance of safety when roadway conditions are poor. Winter weather conditions can create ideal circumstances for car accidents, simply because many drivers don't adjust their habits behind the wheel to accommodate for bad weather. Snowy or icy conditions can result in slick roads and limited visibility: when traveling in winter weather, you'll want to take certain precautions to help ensure you arrive safely at your destination.

Of course, when the weather is bad, the best choice is to avoid driving until the roads have been cleared. However, if staying home isn't an option, here are a few tips to help you travel safely in winter weather.

Before you go:

• The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recommends that you "winterize" your vehicle before you travel. Make sure you have fresh antifreeze and a reliable battery; get your oil changed; and have your exhaust system checked.

• Prepare an emergency kit containing supplies you might need if you're involved in an accident, or if your vehicle becomes disabled. You might include the following items: a flashlight; a first-aid kit; blankets; extra winter weather clothing (hats, gloves, socks); a small sack of sand (to help you get traction under your tires); an ice scraper/snow brush; a basic toolkit; a small shovel; jumper cables; bottled water; nonperishable foods; etc.

• Check road conditions for your route. You can receive updates 24 hours a day by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636).

When you're on the road:

• Slow down: avoid speeding, and adjust your speed for road and traffic conditions.

• Allow plenty of extra room for yourself, just in case you need to stop. The National Safety Council advises that you allow about three times more space than usual between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

• Keep your headlights on so you're more visible to other motorists.

• Brake gently to reduce your risk of skidding on snow or ice.

• Use extra caution on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads.

• Avoid passing snowplows, and allow these large vehicles extra room.

• Always wear your seat belt.

• If you don't feel safe driving, pull over and park at the first safe opportunity.

Continue reading "Travel safe this holiday season: Winter weather tips for Springfield drivers" »

Failure to yield a common cause of Springfield car accidents: Who has the "right of way"?

December 3, 2014

yield-sign-1340780-m (1).jpgAs Springfield car accident lawyers, we know that certain factors commonly play a role in injury collisions here in the Queen City. One such factor is failing to yield. In fact, failing to yield has long been a common catalyst for injury and fatality accidents - here in Missouri and nationwide.

In particular, "failure to yield" crashes and accidents involving right of way are prevalent at intersections that are equipped with stoplights that do not have left turn arrows to allow protected left turns. At these intersections - and there are many here in Springfield - drivers making left turns are always expected to yield.

According to findings from the National Safety Council, 14% of all fatal traffic accidents are caused by a driver's failure to yield. Sometimes, this behavior is associated with aggressive driving tendencies - deliberately careless behaviors that increase the risk of an accident. The American Automobile Association's (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that these behaviors are "typically motivated by impatience, annoyance, hostility, or all of the above." In other words, a driver is frustrated by slow moving traffic, or in a hurry to make it through an intersection, or angry about another driver's actions: and, as a result, that driver makes a rash, reckless decision. However, there are also a good number of drivers who fail to yield simply because they don't understand who has the right of way.

In these situations, you are legally required to yield:
• At yield signs
• At intersections that are "uncontrolled" (i.e. there are no lights or signs) when another vehicle is already passing through the intersection
• At "T" intersections, when another vehicle is on the through road
• To all pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks, particularly those who are sight-impaired (using a seeing eye dog or a white cane)
• To emergency vehicles, construction vehicles, and school buses (when appropriate)
• When making a left turn that is unprotected (i.e. there is no left turn arrow)
• When leaving a parking space

The "Yield to the Driver on the Right" rule
This guideline applies to situations where multiple vehicles approach an intersection simultaneously, and it is frequently misunderstood by Missouri drivers. If you arrive at a four-way stop sign at the same time as another vehicle, then the vehicle on the right should be allowed to proceed through the intersection first.

It's important to remember that traffic laws actually don't "give" the right of way to anyone. Instead, these laws identify specific situations where drivers must concede the right of way. As a responsible motorist, you are legally required to take actions to prevent an accident when possible, even if that means letting someone go in front of you. For example, if you approach an intersection and see a vehicle making an illegal left turn, you must attempt to stop. Speeding up - because you're angry that the vehicle is turning illegally, perhaps - is not a legally acceptable response. If an accident occurs, some measure of the fault can be transferred to you.

Continue reading "Failure to yield a common cause of Springfield car accidents: Who has the "right of way"?" »

Child safety seats significantly reduce injury risks in Missouri car accidents

September 5, 2014

baby-feet-1439529-m.jpgAccording to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), seven out of 10 Missourians who suffer fatal car accident injuries are not wearing their seat belts. Seat belt use is an important part of safe roadway travel for all vehicle occupants, but especially for children, who can be particularly vulnerable to injuries in the event of a crash.

The proper installation and use of child safety restraints have long been concerns for parents and safety advocates. When used correctly, car seats can reduce car accident fatalities by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (children aged 1 to 4) when compared to seat belts. Accordingly, booster seats can reduce accident injuries by 45% for children aged 4 to 8. However, safety seats must be installed and used correctly in order to provide protection. Shockingly, according to Safe Kids USA, "the overall critical misuse for child restraints is about 73%." Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats are the most commonly misused devices.

Here are a few guidelines aimed at keeping young passengers safe:

• Make sure you are familiar with Missouri's Child Restraint Law (RSMo 307.182), which requires safety seats for children ages 4 and under (or who weigh less than 40 pounds); and booster seats for children ages 4 to 7 (or who weigh less than 80 pounds or who are shorter than 4'9").

• When you purchase a safety seat, remember to register the product with the manufacturer so you'll receive any pertinent recall information. You can also visit

• Purchasing safety seats secondhand (at yard sales, resale shops, etc.) is a risky endeavor. You have no way of knowing whether or not the seat has been through an accident. stresses the importance of reading both your car seat and vehicle manuals to ensure you install the seat properly. If you're not sure, call the seat manufacturer and/or the automaker. There are also several workshops that teach proper installation (see the resources at the end of this post).

• Safety advocates recommend that all children ride in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible: until they are at least 2 years-old and/or until they exceed the weight or height limits of a particular seat.

• Similarly, after age 2, children should continue using front-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height and weight limits for a particular seat: many front-facing seats place limits at 65 or 80 pounds.

• Booster seats are the next step, and should be used until a regular seatbelt fits properly. Before getting rid of the booster seat, be sure to check that fit: Safekids USA says "the adult lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt must lie snugly across the shoulders and chest (usually when a child is approximately 4'9" and between 8 and 12 years of age)."

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Springfield car accidents can cause both physical and emotional injuries

August 12, 2014

file0002062790027.jpgFor most of us, getting behind the wheel is the riskiest thing we do all day. As Missouri personal injury lawyers, we know auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. However, the general public doesn't always recognize how dangerous driving can be. Because crashes are scattered throughout the country, many of us lose sight of how many accidents occur on a daily basis: nationwide, an average of 18,000 car crashes happen throughout the U.S. every single day.

If you've ever been involved in a serious accident, you know the experience can be nightmarish. What's more, in addition to the physical consequences that accompany car crash injuries, research has shown that motorists may experience mental consequences as well. Traumatic accidents can cause symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although PTSD is most often associated with the horrors of combat, millions of Americans suffer from this mental disease, which can be brought on by a number of different causes: many Americans report PTSD symptoms after living through auto accidents, house fires and natural disasters.

Of course, it's natural to feel nervous, afraid and upset after an accident. In fact, most people do. It's good to have a healthy fear of the road, but too much fear can actually put a driver in danger. To help overcome feelings of anxiety about driving, start slow. Start by just sitting in the driver's seat and simply starting the engine. Then, step by step, try to work your way up to taking a short drive. As you become more comfortable behind the wheel, extend the length of your driving time. Remember to push yourself, but not too far. Take small steps. Over time, driving will become easier, and fear and panic will subside.

However, there's an important distinction between normal feelings of uneasiness and fear and PTSD symptoms. reports that "strong feelings that stay with a person for a long time and start to get in the way of everyday life are signs of [PTSD]." For most car accident victims, the symptoms subside as time passes, but those afflicted with PTSD experience fear and panic that seems overwhelming and never-ending.

Here are some common indications of PTSD following an auto accident:

1) An ongoing feeling of general uneasiness, especially when driving or riding in a vehicle
2) Irritability, excessive worry and/or anger
3) Persistent nightmares or sleeping problems
4) Persistent memories from the accident that you can't control
5) Fainting, or feelings of dizziness and nausea
6) Chest pains
7) Excessive sweating
8) Inability to breathe and/or the feeling of a dry, closed throat
9) The lack of clear vision or hearing

Continue reading "Springfield car accidents can cause both physical and emotional injuries" »

Avoiding car accidents this spring: Tips for Springfield, Missouri drivers

February 28, 2014

1377780_highway_in_the_sky.jpgSpring is nearly here, and our Greene County personal injury lawyers know that many Missourians are looking forward to some relief from cold temperatures and wintry weather. However, springtime also brings certain changes that can also impact roadway travel. In this post, we discuss five useful safety tips for spring driving.

Spring driving safety tips for Missouri motorists:

• Use caution when traveling in unpredictable spring weather. As Springfield residents know all too well, springtime in the Ozarks can mean rain, sleet, hail, flash flooding, fog and widely varying temperatures, all of which can complicate roadway travel. When you encounter wet or slick roads, remember to slow down and increase your following distance. You'll also want to use your headlights and your defroster to help yourself see and be seen. Finally, avoid driving through large puddles, which can affect your brakes or cause you to hydroplane.

• Expect to see farming equipment on the road. With spring comes the planting season, which means more farming vehicles will be on the move. During the months ahead, drivers should expect to encounter these large slow-moving vehicles, especially on rural roads. Be sure to slow down and give them plenty of room, and be especially careful when passing. Remember that wide farming vehicles make extremely wide turns, so don't assume that a vehicle is moving to the right to allow you to pass. The driver may be preparing to turn left.

• Watch for increased recreational traffic. Missouri is home to a beautiful landscape, several rivers and lakes, and numerous state parks, so it's no surprise that many Ozarkers will be out enjoying the outdoors as temperatures continue to warm. Anticipate increased traffic, including local motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Also, expect more cars and trucks on the road, especially over the weekends.

• Have your vehicle serviced. Many drivers "winterize" their vehicle to prepare for traveling in cold temperatures, but spring is also an excellent time of year to ensure your vehicle is in good working order. Replace your windshield wiper blades, check your headlights and your tire pressure, and chance your vehicle's cabin air filter (especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies).

• Make safe driving a priority. Taking a few basic safety precautions can help ensure that you and your passengers are protected in the event of a crash. Buckle up, put your cell phone away, and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking. It's common-sense advice, but it might just save someone's life.

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After a crash: What car accident victims need to know

February 14, 2014

broken-car-480202-m.jpgNo one expects to be involved in a car accident, but thousands of crashes happen every single day nationwide. If the unexpected happens to you, the aftermath can be confusing, overwhelming and just plain scary - so it's best to be prepared, just in case. In this post, our Springfield car accident lawyers discuss ten important things to do following a collision.

Ten Things to Do After a Car Accident

1. Call 911. Reporting the accident to the authorities will create an official record of your accident and provide documentation of important facts and info. A police record can be extremely important evidence, should you need to file a personal injury claim to recover your losses and damages.

2. Seek medical treatment for any injuries. You should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you think you're not really hurt. Symptoms associated with certain common car accident injuries may not appear right away - in fact, they may take hours or even days to appear.

3. Get insurance information from the other drivers involved. Always exchange insurance information at the scene: doing so can help you protect your rights in the future.

4. Get contact information from all parties involved and from any witnesses. As time passes, memories fade and evidence can be more difficult to locate. When possible, it's best to obtain this information immediately following a crash.

5. Do not discuss fault. Don't talk with the other drivers involved about who or what might have contributed to the crash. There may be contributing factors that you're unaware of - driver impairment or distraction, for example - and making an impulsive statement right after an accident could hurt you down the road.

6. Report the accident to your insurance company. Be sure to report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible - doing so will help protect your rights and expedite the claim process.

7. Photograph your injuries, your vehicle and the scene of the accident. Here again, this evidence can be invaluable. Document everything.

8. Keep records of your medical care and other expenses. You'll want to track any expenses you have that are connected to the crash, including doctor's visits, medical equipment, rehabilitation, and prescriptions.

9. Save all documents pertaining to the crash. Keep a folder that includes your police report, all insurance documents, and any other paperwork you receive that's related to your accident.

10. Seek advice from an experienced attorney. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner you'll have a clear sense of your options - and the sooner you'll have an advocate working on your behalf.

Continue reading "After a crash: What car accident victims need to know" »

10 facts to know about car accidents in Springfield, Missouri & nationwide

January 31, 2014

480202_broken_car.jpgCar accidents happen in a matter of seconds, but they can have devastating long-term consequences for victims and their loved ones. In this post, our Springfield personal injury lawyers discuss ten facts about motor vehicle crashes and common contributing factors.

Ten facts about car accidents for Missouri drivers:

1. The average American has a 30% chance of being involved in a serious motor vehicle crash at some point during their life.

2. Annually, more than 30,000 people are killed in U.S. car accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the total societal cost of these fatal accidents is more than $200 billion each year.

3. Distraction is a leading cause of serious traffic accidents. A study conducted by Monash University found that drivers who use hand-held electronic devices are about four times more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in injuries.

4. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), speeding was a contributing factor in 31% of 2011 auto accidents. Since 2002, speeding has played a role in about one-third of all traffic crash fatalities nationwide.

5. Nearly 30 people are killed every day in U.S. crashes involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol - that's one death every 48 minutes.

6. Pedestrians accounted for about 14% of 2011 auto accident fatalities. Approximately 69,000 pedestrians were injured in car crashes and 4,432 were killed.

7. Younger and older drivers have an increased risk of involvement in accidents. Teens between age 16 and 19 have a higher crash risk than any other age group - in fact, they're three times more likely to crash than drivers over age 20. And the IIHS reports that 'per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older."

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Preventing child injuries: Safety resources for Springfield, Missouri parents

January 16, 2014

file0001704977235.jpgKeeping children safe on the road is a top priority for parents and caregivers, but learning to use car seats properly can be confusing and overwhelming. In this post, our Springfield car accident lawyers provide some useful tips and resources for drivers with little ones on board.

Traveling safely with children: What Missouri parents need to know about car seats

• Rear-facing seats are significantly safer for small children. Infants should always ride in rear-facing seats, and safety experts recommend that parents keep their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. A child's spine is made of cartilage that doesn't harden until around age 4, and for this reason, car accidents involving children can result in serious neck and spinal injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toddlers are more than five times safer in rear-facing car seats up to age two, so it's best to hold off on switching to a front-facing seat until it's absolutely necessary.

• Proper installation is essential. Every car seat is different and will thus have different installation instructions. Consult the manual that came with your car seat and your vehicle owner's manual when installing a car seat, and remember that all car seats should be installed "using either the lower anchors of the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure it in place." A car seat should always be installed in a vehicle's back seat, and it should be secured so that it doesn't move more than one inch from side to side or front to back when you pull at the belt path.

• Make sure your child is fitted correctly in the seat. Safety straps should be flat, not twisted, and positioned appropriately to secure your child. According to, the seat's chest clip should be positioned at the child's armpit level, and the harness should be tightened so that extra material can't be pinched at the shoulder.

Seek help if you're not sure you're using your child's car seat correctly. There are numerous resources available online for parents who want to learn more about car seat safety or ensure that their seats are properly installed. For example, the AAP offers a useful guide, "Car Seats: Information for Families," that provides an overview of the different types of car seats and general guidelines for their use. You can also click here to review Missouri's Child Restraint Law (RSMo 307.182). And finally, if you'd like to locate a Child Car Seat Inspection Station, there are several in the Springfield area: click here to use the National Highway Traffic Administration's Inspection Station Locator tool.

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DOT facing lawsuit from consumer advocates after backup camera rule delayed

September 30, 2013

backupcamera.jpgOur Springfield personal injury lawyers know that backover accidents involving young children are all too common, both here in Missouri and throughout the U.S. Federal data indicates that, on average, backover accidents cause 292 deaths and 18,000 injuries each year. One tool that could dramatically reduce the number of backover accidents is the installation of backup cameras in all new vehicles: experts say these devices would prevent 95 deaths and more than 7,000 injuries annually. Unfortunately, despite this research, too many vehicles still lack this potentially life-saving technology.

Recently, media outlets announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is being sued by a group of consumer advocates for delaying the passage of a federal rule requiring backup cameras in new vehicles to improve rear visibility. The rule, which was signed into law in 2008, included a deadline of three years for the DOT. Now, in 2013, the DOT says it will complete the standards outlined in the rule by 2015, citing the need for additional research. However, the consumer advocates behind the lawsuit say that's simply not good enough. "When Congress ordered this rule issued in three years, they meant three years, not seven," said Scott Michelman, attorney for the plaintiffs. "It's time for a court to step in and make the Transportation Department issue the rule. No administration is above the law."

Facts about backover accidents from

• Every week, at least 50 children in the U.S. become the victims of backover accidents. Research indicates that 48 of these children are treated in emergency rooms for backover-related injuries, while two children suffer fatal injuries.

• One year-old children are the most likely to suffer injuries in a backover accident.

• More than 60% of backover accidents involve a large vehicle like a truck, van or sports utility vehicle, and in more than 70% of these accidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel of the striking vehicle.

Avoiding backover accidents: Safety tips for parents, family members and caregivers:

• Be aware of the size of your "blind zone" - i.e., the area behind your vehicle that you can't see while sitting in the driver's seat. According to, a driver who is five-feet-one-inch tall and operates a pickup truck can have a blind zone that is around eight feet wide and 50 feet long.

• Walk in a circle around your vehicle before reversing out of a driveway or parking spot. If there are children in the area, know exactly where they are before you move your vehicle.

• Talk with children about the dangers associated with playing around vehicles. Since young children often act impulsively, it's imperative they are taught that parked vehicles may move without warning and that drivers may not always be able to see them.

Continue reading "DOT facing lawsuit from consumer advocates after backup camera rule delayed" »

Fatal accidents down, injury accidents on the rise in Springfield

September 17, 2013

car-accidents-by-vward-4-145315-m.jpgNationwide, hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur every year. In Missouri alone, there were nearly 143,000 crashes throughout the state in 2011. Of those accidents, 716 resulted in a fatality and more than 35,000 caused injuries to vehicle occupants. As Springfield car accident lawyers, we know that a life-changing collision can occur in a matter of seconds, leaving victims to deal with the emotional and physical trauma of recovery.

Recently, the City of Springfield Public Works Department issued its newest traffic crash report card, which reflects accidents that occurred in the Queen City between January 1 and June 30 of this year. According to the report, there were seven fatal crashes in Springfield within that time frame, compared to 13 fatal accidents during the same time frame in 2012. However, while the number of crash fatalities has decreased, the total number of accidents has increased, with 94 more collisions occurring this year, as has the number of injury accidents, with 18 more crashes resulting in injury.

What causes Missouri auto accidents?

The Missouri Highway Patrol identifies several driving behaviors that commonly contribute to crashes throughout the state. For example, excessive speed was a factor in 17.3% of all 2011 Missouri accidents and in 38.2% of fatal crashes. Additionally, alcohol use was cited as a "significant contributing factor in Missouri's serious traffic crash experience in 2011," with alcohol playing a role in 26.8% of 2011 fatal crashes.

What factors have contributed to the increase in Springfield car accidents in 2013?

Dew. When temperatures drop during the overnight hours, dew and moisture forms on vehicles that are parked outdoors. Drivers are encouraged to "take time to clean windows and ensure the vehicle has warmed up to ensure good visibility."

Glare. In late March, when the season begins to shift from winter to spring, the sun is positioned in an east - west alignment, which creates increased glare that limits visibility. Officials say glare often contributes to crashes around two hours after sunrise and around two hours prior to sunset, because the sun is so low on the horizon at those times of day. When the sun is in front of you, it can be extremely difficult to see other vehicles, objects and pedestrians that may be in your path, which often forces drivers to shield their eyes. Alternatively, when the sun is behind you, other vehicles' signals and taillights are less recognizable, so it can be tough to recognize a vehicle that is turning, slowing, or changing lanes.

Continue reading "Fatal accidents down, injury accidents on the rise in Springfield" »

Hit and run accidents create serious consequences for at-fault drivers, injury victims

494062_that_hurt.jpgA hit and run accident occurs when one vehicle strikes another vehicle, causing property damage and/or personal injury, and the at-fault driver leaves the scene of the crash. As Springfield personal injury lawyers, we know that hit and run can have many serious consequences. Under Missouri law, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a class D felony if the accident resulted in one of the following: 1() physical injury to another party; (2) property damage in excess of $1,000; or (3) the driver has previously pled guilty or been found guilty of this offense. In addition to legal consequences, hit and run drivers may also be subject to personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of their victims.

Unfortunately, the average number of hit and runs in Missouri has increased dramatically in recent months. According to KY3 News, 132 hit and run accidents were reported in Springfield during the month of May, and over the past 6 months, the number of reported hit and runs has averaged 120 per month. It is worth noting that these statistics only reflect hit and run accidents that were reported to authorities. Local police believe the actual number of crashes is much higher, and that the cause of many hit and run accidents is connected to drivers who are either under the influence or uninsured. Currently, an estimated 20 to 22% of Springfield drivers are getting behind the wheel without insurance.

Under state law, any motorist that is involved in an auto accident is required to pull over and provide the other motorist with their correct name, address, driver's license number, and motor vehicle number. Failing to provide the appropriate information can result in serious legal consequences. Further, drivers who are uninsured or under the influence create more severe consequences for themselves when they leave the scene of a crash.

When a collision occurs, the drivers involved should pull over immediately and contact emergency help for anyone injured. They should also contact local police to file a formal report. In some cases, a police officer may not be able to come to the scene of the accident. Under these circumstances, the involved parties should exchange the appropriate information and go to the nearest police station to report the crash. This step is especially important for accident victims: a formal police report can be an important piece of evidence in a personal injury claim connected to a hit and run crash. Victims should also contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

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Missouri man pleads guilty to felony hit and run for crash that killed STL tow truck driver

October 23, 2012

file000994196738.jpgOn Monday, a Missouri man pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an injury crash in connection with a St. Louis accident that killed a tow truck driver. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 21 year-old Aaron Bogue will appear in court for sentencing on December 7.

Police say Bogue struck and killed 51 year-old David Bense Sr. on Interstate 70 near West Florissant Avenue. Bense, a tow truck driver for AAA, had stopped on the shoulder of I-70 to assist a motorist on his last call of the night. At about 9:20 p.m., Bense was putting cones and flares around a disabled vehicle on the highway when he was hit by an eastbound motorist. The vehicle - a white sedan - did not stop after the collision. However, another driver who witnessed the crash followed the sedan and contacted police.

Ultimately, law enforcement officials located Bogue near the intersection of 11th Street and Salisbury Street. His vehicle was seriously damaged and Bense's blood was found on it. At the time of his arrest, Bogue told officers that he thought he had hit an animal on the interstate.

Authorities say Bogue has an extended criminal record, including convictions for burglary, property damage and drug possession. In addition, the Post-Dispatch reports that Bogue has a pending St. Louis County charge for fraudulent use of a credit card.

Leaving the scene of an accident causing injury carries a minimum penalty of one day in jail and a maximum penalty of four years behind bars. Bense's wife and other family members recently met with prosecutors, as the family was unhappy that Bogue hadn't been charged with more serious offenses. After his arrest, Bogue was tested for drugs and alcohol, but the results were reportedly inconclusive.

"Over the past several months, a thorough investigation was conducted and we exhausted every possible scenario to ensure Aaron Bogue was charged with the highest charge under Missouri state law and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, given the circumstances and evidence available in this matter," the prosecuting attorney's office said in a recent statement.

Continue reading "Missouri man pleads guilty to felony hit and run for crash that killed STL tow truck driver" »

"LOL" Facebook post about drunk driving crash lands KY teen behind bars

September 16, 2012

865021_type.jpgA Kentucky teen was sentenced to 48 hours in jail after causing a crash while driving drunk and posting an "LOL" comment about the accident on Facebook. A judge in Woodford County imposed the sentence on 18 year-old Paula Asher, who is still facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Local law enforcement officials say Asher was drunk when she T-boned another vehicle in July and then drove away. When she was arrested later the same night, her blood alcohol content was over the legal limit and police discovered two Xanax pills in her vehicle. Asher reportedly told the arresting officers that she didn't realize she had hit anything.

After she was formally charged, Asher posted the following sentence on Facebook: "My dumb (expletive) got a DUI and hit a car LOL." Of course, "LOL" is a commonly used internet acronym meaning "laugh out loud." According to LEX18 News, Asher's post was seen by parents of the teenagers who were in the car Asher struck. They reported Asher's comment to Woodford District Judge Mary Jane Phelps, who ordered Asher to delete her Facebook account immediately.

However, Asher didn't follow that order. When Judge Phelps learned that the Facebook account was still active, she charged Asher with contempt of court and ordered her to spend two days behind bars. Officials at Woodford County Circuit Court say that deactivating the Facebook account was a condition of Asher's release.

Asher says she didn't intend to be flippant about the accident, and that she has apologized to the victims and to Judge Phelps. "I didn't think LOL would put me in jail," she said. Asher appeared in court on September 10 told the judge the account had been disabled. She is scheduled to appear again on September 24.

Because of social media's growing role in daily life, it can impact car accident investigations and legal proceedings in numerous ways. After all, websites like Facebook and Twitter can provide specific, time-stamped details about user's activities. People write about what they're doing, where they're going, and how they're feeling - and some do so multiple times each day.

As a result, social media can be a useful tool for law enforcement officials as they conduct investigations. In fatal crashes (especially where distracted or impaired driving is suspected), social media accounts can help police determine what a user was doing in the hours leading up to (and following) the accident. This week, police officers in Minnesota used Facebook photos and tweets to identify, locate, and arrest a suspected thief who escaped during a high speed chase. And Virginia police recently used tweets sent by two college students to help establish the sequence of events leading up to a fatal train crash.

However, using social media can also have unwanted consequences, particularly if you're a car accident victim who's involved in a personal injury lawsuit. It's now common for defense attorneys and insurance companies to request access to social media accounts - and it's fairly easy to take a photograph or a post out of context and use it as evidence undermining an injury claim. For example, if an injury victim posts "I feel great!", an insurer could characterize the post as evidence that the victim's injuries aren't as serious he or she claims.

Continue reading ""LOL" Facebook post about drunk driving crash lands KY teen behind bars" »

Jury Finds Driver Not Guilty of Negligent Homicide in Crash That Killed Family of Five

file000704919536.jpgOn Friday, a jury returned a not guilty verdict in the trial of 35 year-old Monica Chavez, who was charged with five counts of criminally negligent homicide and two counts of child abuse. The charges were connected to a fatal car crash caused by Chavez, who had a seizure while behind the wheel.

On February 17, 2011, police say Chavez lost control of her SUV and slammed into a Mazda sedan before hitting a median, which launched the SUV into the air. It landed on a pickup truck carrying a family of five: 34 year-old Randy Stollsteimer; his wife, 31 year-old Crystaldawn; and their three children, 12 year-old Sebastian, 9 year-old Darrian, and 7 year-old Cyrus. All five were killed in the crash. Chavez's passengers - her two children - were also injured in the wreck.

During the trial, which included three days of testimony, prosecutors argued that Chavez was negligent because she failed to follow up with a neurologist after having a seizure-like episode in 2006. At that time, Chavez was treated at a hospital, and the physician told her not to drive until she had been cleared by a neurologist. However, that recommendation wasn't appropriately transferred to Chavez's discharge papers, and Chavez instead followed up with her own primary physician, who didn't feel that the episode was actually a seizure.

"No doctor will tell you that she should not have been driving five years after something that they never called a seizure," Chavez's attorney, Megan Downing, said in court. "She was told she was fine and that's why she was in the car that day."

Then, in 2010, Chavez reportedly had another seizure-like episode, but she did not seek treatment. Downing said both Chavez and her husband believed that episode was connected to heat stroke.

The trial earned increased interest after Secretary of Commerce John Bryson was found unconscious in his vehicle on June 9 after reportedly suffering a seizure while driving. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Bryson rear ended a vehicle at a railroad crossing, spoke with the occupants of the vehicle, and then drove away, hitting the vehicle again as he left. Then, Bryson struck another vehicle about five minutes later. He has not been formally charged, and no one was seriously injured. Three days later, Bryson announced that he was taking a medical leave of absence.

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Missouri Highway Patrol Reports Seven Auto Accident Fatalities Over Memorial Day Weekend

692135_us_flag_4.jpgSeven people were killed in Missouri auto accidents between 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 28, according to a recent news release from the Missouri Highway Patrol. Troopers reported a total of 232 accidents over the holiday weekend, which caused 95 injuries to the involved parties. In addition, 184 Missouri motorists were arrested for driving while intoxicated.

All seven fatal crashes were lane departure accidents, meaning they involved a vehicle leaving the appropriate lane of travel and either running off the road or crossing into the path of oncoming traffic.

Memorial Day Auto Fatalities in Missouri

Friday May, 25

• 16 year-old Rachelle Alling of Ozark died on Friday evening in a single vehicle crash in Christian County. At around 8:00 p.m., Alling's vehicle ran off the roadway and struck a culvert, which caused the car to overturn into a volunteer fire department's driveway. Alling was pronounced dead at the scene. She was wearing a seat belt.

Saturday, May 26

• On Saturday, another single vehicle wreck claimed the life of 23 year-old Ulyses Neal IV of Sikeston. Neal was a passenger in a vehicle that lost control and struck a tree. Neal was ejected from the vehicle and died as a result of his injuries. Two other occupants sustained serious injuries in the crash, while a third suffered minor injuries.

Sunday, May 27

Christopher Harrah, 26, of Rolla, was killed on Sunday in a Franklin County crash. Harrah was a passenger in a vehicle that failed to properly negotiate a curve in the roadway: it ran off the road, struck a driveway, became airborne, and eventually collided with a tree. Harrah was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt. A 5 year-old passenger suffered moderate injuries. The driver, 25 year-old Autumn Smith, was seriously injured: she has since been changed with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and driving while intoxicated, according to STL Today.

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