The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
Here at the Lombardi Law Firm we add blog content that is personal to those involved in accidents. We write this way so you have an understanding of how we think and handle cases - your case. We invite you to call us if you think we can help you resolve your legal problems. We settle most of our cases, because we do the basic legal work necessary to understand the facts of your case. We offer on our website, relevant and concise information that you will be helpful to you as you get ready to settle or to try your case.
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Steve Lombardi, 515-222-1110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida School Bus Hit and Killed a Pedestrian
In Palm Beach County, Tequesta, Florida, a pedestrian was hit by a school bus on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:15am, according to online news sources Justice News Flash. The bus was picking up Limestone Creek Elementary students when it made a left turn from Seabrook Road onto Tequesta, when Jerry Licklider, a 69 years old from Jupiter, walked in front of the bus, was hit and then pinned underneath the bus. Tequesta Fire Rescue got Licklider out from under the bus, and then Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crew brought him to St. Mary’s Medical Center. He later died from serious injuries. The bus had on it 20 students at the time of the accident, but were reported to have no injuries, and arrived safely to their school by another bus. I'm not sure that's a safe assumption. Young children seeing a pedestrian run over and then later learning he died could develop some very mixed up emotions and thinking. They could suffer from PTSD. Better check that out.
Tequesta police are investigating the pedestrian collision.
Late Saturday night, September 26th, Devin Fry, age 13, and Rabiatu Timothy, 17, and Marcus Ira-Jenkins, 15, were hit by a dark SUV, now known to be a black Jeep Grand Chereokee, according to the Des Moines Register. Fry and Timothy were brought to the hospital after the police arrived at the scene around 11:45pm. Fry died after surgery on his lungs on Sunday morning. Timothy was in critical condition, but is now said to be doing better. The third teen, Ira-Jenkins, was brushed by the car, but not hurt. The kids were crossing the 1600 block of East University, not in the crosswalk, going north to go to a friend’s house or the Liberian Cultural Center. Ira-Jenkins said he saw the car swerving and with no head-lights on as it came towards them.
There was a tip given to police that led them to 36 year old Angela Arellano. The police found the black grand Cherokee which was the alleged vehicle in the accident on Sunday at Arellano’s address. Monday morning Arellano, who police were looking for as a material witness, turned herself in to police bringing her own lawyer. Arellano is now charged with “vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle” and it is also reported by the Des Moines Register that, “Police Sgt. Lori Lavorato said Arellano was intoxicated at the time of the accident.” Arellano is in the Polk County jail and has an $80,000 bond.
NOTE: There is no known proof of her being intoxicated. A this point that allegation is only an allegation.
The third hit and run accident that has led to a fatality in Des Moines within a month has now killed a young teenage boy who was said to be a good student and hoped to one day play on the high school football team. This has caused people to wonder the cause of multiple hit and runs in a short span of time. Officer Don Ouimet commented on the topic after the hit and run involving McKinney and Mark Grgurich. Ouimet said:
“Usually it’s that they don’t have a driver’s license, or no insurance or they have a warrant for their arrest, or there’s some illicit activity going on. Maybe they really didn’t know it happened or that it was so minor it wasn’t worth reporting.”
“Hit-and-run people are everyday folks who make a poor choice,” Ouimet said. “But rarely do they leave from sheer panic. There is almost always another reason.”
From a civil standpoint hit-n-run accidents cause many challenges that make the lawyers' job difficult, if not impossible. Many drivers in hit-n-run cases don't have a insurance; a point which I've stressed as a reason to look at your uninsured motorist coverage on your own auto insurance policy.
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What is “threading the needle”?
I became interested in the idea of threading the needle after reporting on an intersection collision in rural Iowa that killed three people. The accident occurred in Washington, Iowa on May 23, 2009. I reported on it in a blog dated May 26th. Here is the blog post if you’re interested to review it.
One commenter raised the question of whether the young driver was attempting to thread the needle. Another commenter seemed irate about that being suggested and after the dust settled I left the comment alone because it appeared to me to be fair for discussion. So I’ve been asking myself, what is threading the needle and are the kids in Washington County, Iowa doing it? I was not able to locate any video on YouTube involving the Ellen DeGenerus show and threading the needle. If anyone has it please send us the link.
“It is my opinion that teenagers pay only lip service to the idea of driving safely. To be a teen is to risk your life and survive to tell the tale. If somehow these teens had performed that much-viewed feat seen on Ellen Degeneres and YouTube, where an SUV "threads the needle" between two cars at an intersection at highway speed.”
Partial comment, Posted by VCDaedalus on May 28, 2009 8:41 AM.
Well low and behold another commenter later asked the same question and pointed out about a more recent collision in Washington County. Whatever the case may be the Courts need to get tough on the kids in Washington County and figure out if that is what is going on down there.
Posted by Gordon D
July 11, 2009 9:07 AM
Another "accident" in Washington County, where and I state from the local paper "According to reports from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, at about 11:13 a.m. Thursday, a green 2004 Saturn driven by Zachary Ryan Bonebrake of Keota was westbound on 190th Street east of Ginkgo. According to report, the vehicle didn't stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Ginkgo and 190th and stuck a gray 2000 Chevy S-10 driven by Russell Albert Yoder of Richland in the intersection." Is this another possible case of "threading the eye of the needle." From the talk here in Washington, Iowa, by the High School age drivers, yes.
I’ve checked but am not able to confirm this collision or the people stated by Gordon D as being involved. So I can’t say the collision occurred or if it did that it happened as reported. But the idea is one that parents, law enforcement, lawyers and judges need to be aware.
Here is threading the needle with a car while crossing an intersection in heavy traffic. It's very dangerous and scary.
Let’s assume that young adults are brave, stupid or crazy enough to try this. If they are we have to wonder where young adults are getting the idea to attempt this. I was surprised how prevalent the idea is and how often the term “thread the needle” is used in our society. News reporters use the terms, as do coaches and even parents. It's used in sports, leisure activities and for anything where competition to one-up the next guy is involved.
THREADING THE NEEDLE DEFINED
Threading the needle refers to performing some action at a high rate of speed through a narrow opening. You might wonder why parents and lawyers need to know what threading the needle involves. Well, your child may be threading the needle with your family car and kill someone; in which case the lawyers need to understand either how much trouble their client is in or to plead for punitive damages against the driver who unsuccessfully tried to thread the needle causing injury to the client. Parents need to know about this because as owners of the cars their kids drive they are legally responsible for their driving accidents that cause injury and death.
WHERE DO KIDS GET SUCH IDEAS!
How about if we look around to see how this term is used today in American society, who is using it and in what context. You'd never believe responsible parents would allow it to be taught; would you? And I'm sure we doubt our schools are teaching it to our children. Right? And certainly coaches aren't teaching it. Certainly not.
As parents we can in some ways be teaching the skill of threading the needle. While it may be cute at a young age, it does teach the idea of thrill seeking that can later lead to serious injury or death. Here is a young snowboarder, about 6 years of age, threading the needle. From the sound of the voice on the recording it appears to be an older man, which I’m assuming is the boy’s father proudly recording his young son while threading the needle on a snowboard.
Here a very young wrestler “threads the needle” using a half-nelson while rolling the opponent over onto his back for a pin.
Here it is with a plane flying at over 100 mph through a hole in a rock formation.
Threading the needle in a jet boat on a lake or river in this case involved driving at a high rate of speed between two trees. Of course this isn’t the smartest thing to do because if you have two dead trees there may be a stump between the two that can puncture the hull of your boat sending the occupants overboard where they can suffer a head or neck injury leading to traumatic brain damage, paralysis, quadriplegia, paraplegia or death.
Children are being introduced to this idea at a very young age. In this video about concerning how to win a video game involving combat the instructor tells us how the Wolverine threads the needle. Threading the Needle on the X-Men game involves moving Wolverine through a narrow opening; in this case a ring.
There is threading the needle with radio controlled model planes as well. In this video the RC Plane operator shows us how to fly the plane through a narrow opening created by two palm trees.
Threading the needle with a truck refers to driving it through a narrow opening. As you can see in this video clip the narrow opening through which the driver threads the needle is a narrow pass.
In dance threading the needle refers to a maneuver whereby one leg that is being held is used to create a narrow opening in which the dancer hops on one leg and threads the free leg over the leg and by the arm that holds it. Here watch it’s easier to see than for me to explain.
Here is another example of how to perform this break dancing maneuver.
And in this video tape threading the needle is introduced as “entertainment”, it being a part of the game. The idea is introduced to teenagers and young adults through a combat video game where the participant is a pilot flying at a high rate of speed through and around skyscrapers eventually being ejected and skydiving to an island.
Here is another entertainment version of threading the needle by a skateboarder lying down on the board while threading under fixed objects.
EA Skate 2 More Dam coffin shenanigans ~ successfully threading the needle!
This idea of TTN is about having the skill to take the risk and to avoid injury. Here we have a skateboarder demonstrating threading the needle over a chain.
Our society encourages developing skills enabling us to be entertained by maneuvers that expose the participants to a level of risk that can cause injury or death. The higher the risk the more exciting and highly regarded the maneuver. In this video we see a kayaker threading the needle. As a kayaker threading the needle is a maneuver taught by threading through two boulders with water rushing around and over them.
And let’s not leave snow skiing out of the mix. They too thread between two skiers who are standing still. While this skier isn’t very skillful the idea is still put out there as threading.
Football teaches threading the needle as a skill young people need to perfect. In this case it’s taught to wide receivers who drag their feet to stay inbounds as they catch a pass tossed over or very close to the out-of-bounds side line.
In this second video a girl is taught in football how to thread the needle by passing the ball between two defenders while successfully making the pass to the receiver.
The same reference is made in college football. This one involving Texas A&M at Southern Arkansas.
In car racing the concept is also introduced.
The idea is even part of snowmobiling.
Just look around you and you will see evidence of where they might be getting the idea to thread the needle. While no one can argue that throwing a pass between two defenders can be compared with recklessly driving a car through a busy intersection against a stop sign or light, you have to know that we are planting the idea out there and then handing junior the car keys giving them the means to perfect this insane maneuver.
And we wonder why this generation seems so confused.
This week we are covering highway accidents and how to look at the issue of negligence. On Monday we covered mistakes in passing on a two-lane undivided roadway; then Tuesday we wrote about heading the wrong-way on a four-lane divided interstate highway; Wednesday we discussed crossing the center line that kills the one main witness who could explain why their vehicle may have come across the center line; and Thursday we covered whether medical conditions can overcome allegations of negligence. Thursday’s case we used the report of a driver charged with reckless driving that led to the injury of a Wisconsin State Trooper.
Today we are going to cover whether weather conditions are a factor that gets the negligent driver off the hook.
Going back to the Corallville Courier report of December 17, 2008 we can read about the collision. The gist of the report is as follows.
“The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the southbound car lost control, crossed the center line and was struck broadside by the northbound semi- tractor trailer. Both occupants of the car were killed in the collision. Neither the driver nor passenger of the semi was injured.”
What if the roads were slick and the driver lost control? Is that enough to excuse them? The answer is no it is not. We live in Iowa a place where everyone knows our winters include snow and icy conditions on the roads especially during the month of December. Drivers know this and it’s no excuse when they fail to take into consideration that the roadway may be slick. Most of the time due care requires us to simply slow down. There are times when the answer may be stay home or pull off the road and wait till the weather and traffic clears.
I’ve covered this before as blogs, FAQ and news items. If you’re interested read the other posts that discuss this point.
Today’s post is about negligence, what it is and how to view evidence to appreciate what is negligent behavior. Here is a headline and the opening line of a news story out of Indiana.
Snow causes crash and brief
closing of I-65 near Lowell
LOWELL | An early Saturday snowstorm is being blamed for a traffic accident that briefly closed a south Lake County section of Interstate 65 and left a downstate man injured.
For years I’ve read headlines and opening sentences in news stories with the lines blaming weather conditions for causing accidents. The idea that snow or weather or even slippery conditions can cause an accident is absolutely preposterous. There is snow outside in my driveway this morning and as I walk to the mailbox to retrieve the morning’s newspaper I notice that the driveway is slippery. The slippers I’m wearing don’t quite fit snuggly on my feet. (Acorn slippers) There is a car sitting in the driveway with snow on it and all around it. So far the snow hasn’t caused an accident. Why not? If snow causes accidents why hasn’t my car in the driveway had an accident? It’s been snowing all night and still there is no accident. The driveway is even slippery and so far no accident. I walked all the way down to the end of the driveway and back and still there is no accident. Maybe I should come back in an hour to see if there’s been an accident. What do you think will there be one? Will I come out to find the fenders crunched and wrecked car?
What’s necessary to have an accident? That’s the place where negligence starts. We need a driver or drivers. No driver and I dare say the car, snow and slippery driveway can coexist all day without having an “accident”.
Now let us turn the discussion to duty. As a juror sitting in a civil car accident case or as the judge will say, a tort case, there are four elements to be proven and then analyzed. The four elements are duty, a breach of duty, proximate cause and damages. Today we are looking at the first two elements, duty and breach of duty. Back to the snow.
As a lawyer with 28 plus years of experience trying civil lawsuits I am confident in saying snow has no duty not to be slippery or to avoid falling on the public highways. I am equally confident in my assertion that no judge would instruct a jury that any law required snow, not to be slippery or on the highway. That I am certain. Drivers on the other hand do have certain duties. A duty is a standard or rule of the road (a law or regulation) that driver must follow in using the public highways. Those duties can include restrictions on speed, when to pass, when not to pass, which side of the road each car should be driving, when to brake and when to make adjustments to the manner in which they drive. Adjustments are the key to this analysis. If it snows and the roadway is slippery the driver must slow down and operate the car or truck in a manner that allows the vehicle to be safely operated. It is the driver who has a duty not the snow. The slick conditions are just that; a condition which the driver must evaluate and adjust his or her driving habits to avoid colliding with other cars, trucks, people, signs, buildings, bridges, culverts and other fixed or moving objects. Drivers are what is needed in my driveway before there can be an accident and it’s those drivers that have the duty and can breach the duty. So when you’re sitting on a jury and someone says that it was the snow or other weather that caused the accident, explain to them how wrong they are and then sit back, hopefully you've wore that power tie or skirt, and see how quickly you’ll become the foreperson.
Here is the full report from Indiana about the snow having caused an accident. While it’s permissible with news reporters to write this way, it’s not proper for lawyers or jurors to think this way. People cause accidents, not weather or cars without drivers.
Snow causes crash and brief
closing of I-65 near Lowell
LOWELL | An early Saturday snowstorm is being blamed for a traffic accident that briefly closed a south Lake County section of Interstate 65 and left a downstate man injured.
Indiana State Police said Kevin Tomeo, 30, of Avon, In., west of Indianapolis, suffered head and internal injures. He was transported to St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point.
The National Weather Service said Saturday an overnight snow system deposited a half inch of snow across much of Northwest Indiana.
Police said an unidentified passenger car was southbound on I-65 shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday when it lost control on a patch of black ice that formed from snow melt at the 238 mile marker, two miles south of the Indiana 2 exit.
Police said the passenger car pulled out of the skid and continued unharmed, but Tomeo's Jeep Cherokee, which was traveling behind it, lost control when he attempted to brake to avoid a collision.
Police said the Jeep began spinning, hit the guard rail and bounced back onto the highway where it was hit by a 2003 Mack truck pulling a double trailer.
Police said the tractor trailer jackknifed, hit the guard rail on the right side of the pavement and came to a halt, blocking all southbound lanes of travel for two and a half hours.
Police said the tractor trailer driver, Roosevelt Bell, 28, of Park Forest, Ill., was uninjured, but ticketed for driving too fast for road conditions.
The National Weather Service said temperatures will remain in the low 30s, but no more snow is forecast until Tuesday.
I saw a few stories on wrong-way drivers and earlier wrote about them. That story lead me to several others and low and behold I found that wrong-way accidents aren’t as infrequent as I first assumed. Just in these past few weeks I’ve found quite a few and thought to report on a few to see if there are similarities. I’m still not sure I see any, except drinking while driving don’t work.
Iowa – February 13, 2009 - A Buick Station Wagon being driven by Theodore Springman and a Dodge Dynasty driven by Rodney Fisher were involved in a head-on crash on I-380 in the northbound lanes of traffic. Springman was driving south in the northbound lanes of travel. The collision occurred around 1:00 P.M. yesterday, Friday, February 13, 2009. Both men were taken to Cedar Rapids’ St. Luke’s Hospital.
Montana - February 13, 2009 - Driving in the eastbound passing lane on I-90 in Gallatin County, Montana.
Several vehicles reportedly swerved to miss the car. A Dodge Durango, traveling east on I-90 at mile marker 317 tried to avoid the car and struck the median, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The Durango sustained extensive damage and its female driver was taken to the hospital for possible head, neck and back injuries, court papers state.
The husband of the woman driving the Durango located a 1989 Ford Festiva that matched the description of the wrong-way driver's vehicle and contacted the car's driver. The husband reportedly told authorities that he smelled alcohol on the defendant's breath and told him to remain while he notified Gallatin County Dispatch.
New Mexico – February 13, 2009 – A wrong-way car collides with school bus of middle school children injuring four students. City street with no report of driver’s condition or reasons for driving the wrong way on the roadway.
Illinois – February 5, 2009 – Drunk driver heading the wrong-way on I-255 resulting in the death of three people. Funeral services were held on this day. This wrong-way driver was driving drunk and faces three counts of reckless homicide. The dead include the 32-year old aunt, a 9-year old boy and a 28-year old man.
Michigan – February 12, 2009 – For reasons unknown the driver of a pickup truck drove the wrong-way down an exit ramp, entered U.S. highway 31 northbound in the southbound passing lane causing a three car collision resulting in the death of one and injuring another.
“A three-car crash this morning on southbound U.S. 31 between Laketon and Sherman resulted in one death and injuries to another driver.
Muskgon Police Department Sgt. Monica Shirey said around 7 a.m. a man driving a pickup went the wrong way down the off ramp on southbound U.S. 31 at the Sherman exit ramp.
"We have a witness who said a man driving a pickup truck went the wrong way. He started going northbound in the sounthbound lane on U.S. 31."
Shirey said another vehicle swerved to miss him but the Jeep behind him did not see the pickup truck and they hit head-on.
"The driver (of the Jeep) had no time to make any evasive moves," Shirey said.
Upon impact, the pickup truck flipped over the Jeep into the median, killing the driver.”
England – February 12, 2009 - Using a tire flattening device the police stopped a 54 year old man who drive nearly 20 miles the wrong-way on A-38. No reasons were given for the driver’s decision to drive the wrong way. No one was injured or killed.
Texas – February 12, 2009 – At about 3:30 A.M. a person driving a sedan headed the wrong way on the W. Sam Houston toll way. The driver of the sedan died, the passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The other vehicle was a pickup truck was injured and is in critical condition.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Thomas McCormick of New Port Richey was driving his 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle south in the northbound lane of Little Road near Bourbon Street and collided head-on with a 1996 Chevrolet about 11:10 p.m. Saturday. McCormick, who was not wearing a helmet, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and listed in critical condition. He died at 3:45 a.m. Sunday, the patrol said. The car's driver, Ava Corbin, 41, and a passenger, both of New Port Richey, received minor injures, the accident report said.”
England – February 11, 2009 - Driving the wrong-way wasn’t the smartest thing for this criminal to do. After she was stopped the police smelled pot, conducted a search, discovered her stash, then searched her house and found what they believe to be cocaine. Oops this was not her day.
Illinois – February 10, 2009 – Trying to avoid police and evade arrest this man headed the wrong-way onto Highway 242 at which point out of concern for the safety of others police stopped the pursuit. The stolen car was later found and the driver is still being sought.
California – January 28, 2009 – The Camry driver was approaching Interstate 405 at about 5 a.m. when he crashed into the officer's car, according to the California Highway Patrol. Both cars burst into flames and both men were pronounced dead at the scene. As the officer's body was put into a coroner's van, police, firefighters and CHP officers draped his body in an American flag and saluted.
Massachusetts – January 23, 2009 – Driver and officer died./ The Culver City police Sgt. Curt Massey was driving eastbound in West Los Angeles when a Toyota Camry heading the opposite direction collided with the officer.
Massey was a 17-year veteran of the Police Department who had received many awards and commendations, said police Chief Don Pederson. Massey was married with three children.
Massachusetts – February 7, 2009 – Attleboro, Police cruiser struck head-on Route 95 around 4:45 a.m. between exits 2 and 4 in the southbound side of the highway.
New Mexico – February 5, 2009 – Wrong-way driver drunk drving charges near Grants on Highway 40 at mile marker 72.
Oregon – February 6, 2009 on I-5 the wrong-way driver crashed into a barrier. This is the one story providing some ideas and warnings of how to protect yourself.
About wrong-way drivers
Wrong way drivers present an obvious danger to all motorists on our highways.
The most recent available crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates wrong way drivers are involved in 1.5 percent of all fatal crashes.
Drivers who travel the wrong way on one way highways generally fall into one of our different categories:
- Intoxicated driver
- Older drivers who easily get confused
- Intentional drivers (example - trying to avoid traffic jams / congestion caused by crashes)
- Inattentive drivers who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp
OSP and ODOT provided the following safety tips and information related to wrong way driver situations:
- Watch far ahead for signs of a possible wrong way driver, looking for signs similar to pending problems or developing emergency situations such as other traffic braking or swerving to avoid something, or the obvious - headlights coming in the opposite direction.
- Caution against driving long periods in the inside lane on freeways, especially on curves.
- Be aware that wrong way drivers usually drive in the inside lane or inside shoulder, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway.
- Most common types of wrong way driver involved crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes.
A car collision in Villisca, Iowa demonstrates a point about your car insurance coverage and whether or not you have adequate coverage. Here is the story as reported in the news.
A two car collision occurs when one of the cars fails to stop at a stop sign. The police later determine the vehicle that failed to stop at the stop sign was stolen. Now let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that the vehicle that the at-fault vehicle is in fact stolen. What happens to the claims of the not-at-fault injured participants?
The participants who are not at fault will want to pursue their claims against the owner of the stolen vehicle; but that will go no where. For insurance coverage to apply to the at-fault acts of a non-owner, the driver must have permission to be driving the vehicle. Permission requires driving with the knowledge and consent of the owner. In this case the vehicle if stolen is not being driven with the consent of the owner. Isn’t that pretty much the definition of a stolen vehicle? It is so trust me on that definition. The owner’s insurance company will deny coverage because insurance coverage doesn’t apply to those who steal an insured’s car.
Now don’t go whining about how it’s not your fault and why should your insurance company have to pay. Trust me when it comes to whether you have coverage, fault has nothing to do with it. It’s a matter of contract language. The policy will govern coverage. After you have coverage then it’s a matter of fault and who which insurance company or individual gets to pay. And if that’s not enough to make you appreciate what I’m talking about then put the shoe on the other foot. By that I mean think of your car being stolen and whether your insurance company should cover a non-fault driver colliding with a stolen car that later is determined to be your own. Right, now you understand.
Okay, so you’re scratching your head and asking me where you go from here. Well, our first target for insurance coverage will be the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage; but you can bet either of two things applies to him. First, it’s unlikely he has auto insurance. Second, if he does it’s not going to cover him while stealing cars.
You’re still scratching your head aren’t you? Well you should have collision coverage on your auto policy that will cover damage to your car. You should have medical pay coverage that covers your medical bills, to the extent you purchased it. If you purchased rental car insurance coverage that will be covered under your policy; it should be shown on the declarations page of your auto policy. And, your personal injury type damages along with lost wages and loss of earning capacity along with pain and suffering will be covered under the uninsured motorist provisions of your policy.
So how do you know if you are covered? Pull out your policy and read the Declarations Page of the policy. It will list the insurance coverage along with the dollar limits per type of claim made. So go do it and then ask yourself, if you have enough coverage for your own claims. If not call your agent and increase what you have.