NEW ORLEANS, LA — Being involved in a car accident is traumatic enough; but what happens when the at-fault driver lacks insurance to cover the costs of the damage he caused? The motorist who is the victim of a collision with an uninsured driver might find himself unable to pay necessary medical expenses, or lacking money to pay his bills should his injuries cause him to miss time from work. Recent studies indicate that uninsured drivers cost motorists and insurance companies a whopping $2.6 billion dollars in the year 2016 alone.
It’s important that motorists understand the risks of being involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist – and understand what they can do to protect themselves.
While carrying automobile insurance is the law in every state, except for New Hampshire, approximately 13% of Louisiana drivers operate uninsured on our roads, roughly on par with the national average. This means that more than one of every ten vehicles we pass on our daily commutes are uninsured for any damages they might cause in a collision. Car accidents cost an approximate $260 billion per year, from small fender benders and soft tissue injuries, to major collisions with life-altering consequences for the victim and his family. It’s important that motorists protect themselves and their families from this threat.
One way to minimize the consequences of being struck by an uninsured motorist is to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In many states, especially those with a higher-than-average percentage of uninsured motorists, this form of insurance coverage is mandatory, but in Louisiana a motorist can choose either to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, or to decline this additional protection. This protection may be exclusive to medical payments, economic loss coverage, or it may provide full protection that will take into account the pain and suffering you may endure in a collision as well as providing much needed funds for medical bills and economic loss.
As the name suggests, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage doesn’t just come into effect if you’re struck by an uninsured driver. Louisiana law provides that motorists must carry minimum coverage of $15,000.00 per person, $30,000.00 per accident, and many motorists purchase only this minimum, which can quickly be exhausted by medical bills. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that your damages exceed the amount of coverage held by the person who hit you.
It’s important to protect ourselves against risk, and our mandatory liability insurance protects us against being held financially responsible for the damage we cause another person in a collision. But uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is essential for the driver who wants to protect himself against the damage caused to him by a motorist who violates the law and doesn’t purchase any insurance, or in instances where the insurance coverage on a vehicle that hits you isn’t enough to cover your damages. Another important part of protecting yourself and your rights, if you’re in a car crash, is to consult with an attorney who understands how to recover as much as possible for the damages you’ve suffered. If you’re in a car crash, the experienced attorneys at The de Boisblanc Law Firm are ready to schedule you for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
NEW ORLEANS, LA — The safety of the personal information we share online comes under question yet again in the aftermath of a cyberattack which targeted the profiles of fifty million Facebook users.
In this instance, hackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s ‘view as’ feature, which allows users to view their profiles as another account would. Through manipulation of this feature, hackers were able to access profiles, and potentially, information from the apps that users signed onto using their Facebook login. To date, Facebook has not stated that they know the identity of the hackers, or what the purpose of the attack might have been.
This is only the most recent Facebook scandal. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the firm Cambridge Analytica legally acquired data from up to 87 million Facebook users, in order to analyze their personal and political preferences.
By developing an app known as ‘This is Your Digital Life’, agents of Cambridge Analytica accessed data when users downloaded the app in order to participate in quizzes and other time-passers, thereby linking the app to their account. However, users were never informed that their data would be taken and analyzed for political purposes.
At its most basic level, social media sites like Facebook create a clearinghouse for our valuable personal data, which is then “mined and measured, sorted and sold.”
We willingly share this information, because we enjoy networking with others, and because of the convenience in-app purchases. But whether this data is then stolen, or simply sold to marketing firms or behavioral researchers, has Facebook done enough to make users aware of how extensively personal data shared to Facebook is harvested, sold, analyzed, and even potentially stolen by, a wide variety of third parties?
In 2011 Facebook entered into a consent decree with the FTC, which had specifically accused Facebook of deceiving users with regards to the privacy of their data. However, two of the federal officials who helped craft the consent decree now feel that Facebook might have violated it, due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. So far, the FTC has made no comment regarding any violation, but the potential for another investigation cannot be ruled out.
Indeed, it seems only a matter of time before another privacy-related scandal occurs. The entire business model of Facebook, whose ‘free service’ ran up an operating cost of $3.28 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, is to gather personal data from individuals around the world, then sell that data to interested parties. And while Facebook and other social media sites don’t do much to alert the user to this fact, they do design their program in such a way that sharing personal information, whether it be lifestyle choices or political leanings, is rewarding, and studies say, even addictive. There is a clear incentive for any company to encourage users to share as much data as possible; it’s just as easy to see that if users were warned before sharing that their data would be sold, analyzed, and exploited, and that the act of sharing itself was potentially addictive, then social media giants like Facebook might find themselves with a rapidly shrinking number of profitable users.
The law has yet to fully consider all of the complex issues potentially involved social media platforms. In the meanwhile, users of social media should fully consider just how large their audience actually is, before they share or like that post.
NEW ORLEANS, LA — Chances are, the car you drive has a black box, also known as an Event Data Recorder, and it’s there to monitor almost all you do behind the wheel. If you’re in a crash, that EDR is able to supply such information as your speed, break use, engine throttle at the time of impact, and data from a dozen other mechanical categories, including whether or not you were wearing your seatbelt at the time of a collision. When a motorist is driving, the EDR continuously records data, but only in the event of a collision is that data stored, so that it can be retrieved by accident reconstruction experts, insurance companies, and even courts.
An Event Data Recorder has many useful functions. In some car accidents, it can be difficult to determine fault. When the EDRs of vehicles involved in a collision are analyzed, accident investigators or reconstruction experts can often determine which party was at fault, helping the victims of careless drivers find justice and compensation for their injuries. Event data recorders also help fight insurance fraud, which helps insurance companies save money and charge lower rates to customers. An EDR can help an insurance company determine the severity of a crash, so that it can analyze a claimant’s injuries and better ensure that the injuries make sense in the context of the crash. Some EDRs also record whether or not a seat was occupied at the time of collision. And finally, an EDR helps fight back against staged accidents.
The EDR can even help save lives. When accident investigators explore the data saved in the EDR of a vehicle involved in a catastrophic collision, they aren’t just able to analyze dangerous driving practices, they can determine if the vehicle encountered any mechanical failure, such as a failed airbag deployment or a faulty breaking system, which led to injury or loss of life. If the failure is the result of some deficiency in manufacturing, an automaker can enact a recall to solve the problem, perhaps saving many lives.
However, in spite of all of the benefits of the EDR, some believe that Event Data Recorders invade our privacy. In today’s world, it’s concerning that a computerized device in our vehicles might be used to determine where we go and when, potentially revealing other personal details about our lives. Americans are concerned over who can have access to the data stored in their EDR. Might an employer, or some other third party, be able to access that information? The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 aims to address these concerns. Unless authorized by a court, necessary to provide post accident medical treatment, used to carry out investigations that are authorized by Federal Law, or anonymously used for purposes of traffic safety research, the owner of a vehicle owns his EDR data, and a third party must obtain his consent before accessing his driving data.
Technology such as the Event Data Recorder will continue to evolve and enhance, as will questions and concerns about the potential uses of such data. It’s important for motorists today to realize that their vehicle is most likely equipped with an EDR, and that the EDR will help them understand just how a crash happened, should they be involved in a motor vehicle collision. If you’re involved in any motor vehicle accident, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney like the attorneys at the de Boisblanc Law Firm, who can help you protect your rights, and seek compensation if another party’s negligence has injured you.
NEW ORLEANS, LA — Motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of accident-related injuries and fatalities in Louisiana today. From 2012 through 2016, four hundred and thirty-two people were killed in motorcycle accidents on Louisiana’s streets and highways. According to the CDC, wearing a helmet while operating or riding a motorcycle reduces the risk of dying in a collision by 37%, and reduces the risk of head injury by a full 69%. In the state of Louisiana, the law requires that motorcyclists wear helmets. In 2016, almost 1,900 lives were known to be saved by motor cycle helmets, and nearly 3.4 billion dollars in economic damages were saved by the use of motor cycle helmets. However, even when a helmet is used, serious head injury is a likely outcome when a motorcyclist is involved in a motor vehicle collision. Helmets can prevent many penetrating head trauma injuries, such as skull fractures or foreign objects entering the brain. Yet even when a helmet is worn, the forces involved in a collision can cause the brain to be injured, because the brain can be shaken inside the skull, causing swelling, bruising, or bleeding of the brain tissue.
A common outcome of a motorcycle injury is a concussion, which causes symptoms ranging from dizziness and headaches to memory loss. There may or may not be a loss of consciousness involved. Concussions are usually temporary, and may not have lasting impacts on the victim’s health. Yet sometimes, a concussion can be a symptom of a more serious condition, including those conditions categorized as Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI. Traumatic Brain Injury can have lasting or even permanent effect on the victim’s life, including a loss of economic potential and a requirement for long-term medical care. A third possible outcome of a head injury caused by a motorcycle collision is a hematoma, which is when blood pools inside the brain or between the brain and the skull. A hematoma is a life threatening condition which requires surgery.
The severity and potentially disastrous outcomes involved in a motorcycle collision require cyclists to take precautions, such as wearing a helmet, obeying all traffic laws, and being alert for other drivers. But if the worst happens, and you or a loved one is a victim in a motorcycle collision, it’s important that you seek legal representation to fight for your rights. The costs associated with head injuries are often extremely high: from surgeries to special therapies to lost wages and the potential requirement for long term medical care, the lifetime cost for the victim of a severe traumatic brain injury can reach 4 million dollars. Insurance companies will often try to make a quick and low settlement, leaving the victim and his or her family stuck with the costs. If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle collision, call the experienced attorneys at the de Boisblanc Law Firm and arrange for a free consultation today.