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  • Jurydoctor@aol.com
    Please feel free to offer any comments to these comments before I reveal the pictures.. amy I ll offer a few thoughts: 1) Nothing can excuse a violation of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2008
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      Please feel free to offer any comments to these comments before I reveal the
      pictures..
      amy


      I'll offer a few thoughts:

      1) Nothing can excuse a violation of the seatbelt law. It leads to a
      comparative negligence scenario, but only if a jury believes that competent
      evidence
      has been presented which quantifies the amount, i.e., value of negligence by
      the violator. If severe injuries would have resulted regardless of seatbelt
      use
      or occupant positioning, the argument will be weak in the eyes of a jury.

      2a) It is certainly foreseeable that passengers will recline in some manner
      on a road trip, and most modern vehicles encourage such activity through use
      of
      reclining seats and various other creature comforts. However, automobile
      manufacturers often provide a warning (in the Owner's Manual) against such
      (reclining) use in a moving vehicle, since the seatback angle and/or the
      position of
      the body in the seat have a direct relationship to seatbelt and airbag
      effectiveness. It "appears" that manufacturers take the middle ground, in
      that such
      warnings are given...but seats are still allowed to recline while moving
      without any ignition locks or dashboard warning lights/buzzers.

      2b) Since this incident doesn't seem to include reclining seats... just
      reclining passengers... we're just left with the thought that passengers will
      recline in some manner on a road trip, regardless of whether the equipment
      makes it
      more attractive or comfortable to do so. With that said, the overall
      crashworthiness of the vehicle moves to the forefront. What the passengers
      did or did
      not do is a minor issue and a comparative-negligence argument. The vehicle
      itself should protect the occupants in a reasonable manner, even if the
      passengers are riding upside-down like "Mork" for those who remember that
      television
      series!

      3a) Next, of course, is speed. And this issue is the one that counters the
      crashworthiness subject. No vehicle can be made (for consumer economies)
      which
      guards against all hazards. If the minivan was, for example, doing 40 or 50
      on
      the Interstate and a fully-loaded tractor trailer barreled into it at 80 or
      more, I would expect the minivan to essentially collapse and end up with the
      van's back bumper being somewhere near the middle of the van at final rest.
      If
      the impact was that severe, an argument can be made that no vehicle can be
      reasonably expected to survive such an impact unscathed, and no passengers
      can
      >expect< to walk away unharmed.

      3b) As a further discussion of the speed issue, even IF the passengers were
      sitting upright and perfectly aligned in their seats, two common injury
      mechanisms could have still occurred: (a) seatback failure on the front
      passenger
      seat, also resulting in a violent movement of the torso and potential spinal
      injuries; and (b) the rear-seat passenger being "pinned" by the seatbelt,
      whereby
      the seatbelt securely keeps the rear-seat passenger planted in the seat...
      while the vehicle's structure collapses behind them... resulting in the body
      being drawn-into the crushing movement such that the seatbelt either "holds"
      the
      occupant in place to be injured by the crushing structure or the seatbelt
      itself fatally lacerates the body across the lower abdomen.

      So, my final thoughts are...

      * The passenger's positioning in the seat is only significant for impacts
      within the realm of a vehicle's crashworthiness. For extreme impacts, the
      passenger's position either doesn't matter or the "proper" position may still
      result
      in predictable, catastrophic injuries.

      * The vehicle's crashworthiness only goes so far. A high-speed,
      large-momentum-variance impact will often negate any crashworthiness
      features. Not having
      seen the photos, I don't know if any otwalk away unharmed.

      3b) As a further discussion of the speed issue, even IF the passengers were
      sitting upright and perfectly aligned in their seats, two common injury
      mechanisms could have still occurred: (a) seatback failure on the front
      passenger
      seat, also resulting in a violent movement of the torso and potential spinal
      injuries; and (b) the rear-seat passenger being "pinned" by the seatbelt,
      whereby
      the seatbelt securely keeps the rear-seat passenger planted in the seat...
      while the vehicle's structure collapses behind them... resulting in the body
      being drawn-into the crushing movement such that the seatbelt either "holds"
      the
      occupant in place to be injured by the crushing structure or the seatbelt
      itself fatally lacerates the body across the lower abdomen.

      So, my final thoughts are...

      * The passenger's positioning in the seat is only significant for impacts
      within the realm of a vehicle's crashworthiness. For extreme impacts, the
      passenger's position either doesn't matter or the "proper" position may still
      result
      in predictable, catastrophic injuries.

      * The vehicle's crashworthiness only goes so far. A high-speed,
      large-momentum-variance impact will often negate any crashworthiness
      features. Not having
      seen the photos, I don't know if any other argument can be made about the
      van's
      structural integrity... or whether the impact speed was in fact a significant
      element here.

      ______________________________
      Despite not wearing seat belts, they would not have been injured at
      all if they hadnt' been rear-ended. The seatbelt laws are for the
      protection of the wearers, not for the protection of bad drivers who
      hit them!
      ________________________
      What was the cause of the collision? Do we know?

      Geri should have had her feet on the floorboard where they belong. Thank
      God an airbag didn't deploy. I believe an expert medical doctor will be
      able
      to easily convince a jury that the position of her feet was contributory to
      her damages thereby creating a negligence per se for comparative fault
      purposes.

      You ask, "Is it is "reasonable" to lay down during a road trip and be
      unrestrained?". NO !!!! Anyway, REASONABLENESS doesn't matter. It is
      UNLAWFUL
      !!!!

      Since I never received a "next email" it is hard to really speculate without
      seeing the actual damages. However, if the driver was barely injured, I do
      not agree with the Plaintiff's position that they would have been severely
      damaged had they been seated in a normal fashion.

      Although damages are due, how much is determined by some relevant issues not
      being provided.


      ________________________________________________________________________

      I have a few arguments:

      The injuries themselves may be irrelevant because the other driver should
      have been cited for following too closely and/or speed violations. I would argue
      NONE of this would have happened had the other driver been far enough back
      and going slow enough to avoid collision.

      Geri's injuries probably would have been less severe had she been sitting up
      properly. However, unless the law requires this, it may not make a difference.

      Tom may very well be out of luck. He was neither sitting up, nor restrained;
      both of which may limit the other driver's liability.

      Finally, this may all be moot if there was highly extensive damage to the
      car. Severe injury is almost unavoidable if the car is catastrophically damaged
      regardless of the use of restraints. Can't wait to see the pictures!

      ____________________________
      The airbag, no doubt intensified the injuries......... but a percentage of
      liability has to go with the claimants........ if they were that tired, they
      should have stopped and got a room. I wonder what the claimants vehicle was
      doing just prior to the accident.... if the parents were that tired, maybe the
      driver was just as tired. I know the law says that someone that rear-ends
      someone has the most liability......... but I think that you have to look at the
      whole picture of what was going on just prior to the accident.
      _______________________
      Well, doing this stuff for 22 years, I can tell you when you are sitting in a
      car with your feet up on the dash and hit hard, the Airbags will seriously
      injure. Also someone laying in the back seat, instead of sitting upright in
      restraints, will suffer more extensive injuries. However, for the type of injuries
      noted, this must have been a very serious collision. Sounds like while
      sitting properly, and being restrained properly may have lessened the injuries
      suffered, the people more than likely still would have had extensive injuries. No
      matter what, its a shame.
      ______________________________

      Rear ended is the key to me. The driver who rear ended them should pay.

      Geri was wearing a seat belt and had serious injuries.
      _________________
      Not my line of work, but I agree. The injuries might have been been less had
      they been in the proper position and restrained properly. but those were very
      extensive injuries so it was one hell of a collision.

      ____________________

      I don't think them doing anything wrong would matter. Someone HIT them and
      hurt them and should pay the medical expenses. Is it reasonable to put your
      feet up? Sure. To lay down in the back? I don't know the lay out of the van. I
      still think that wearing a seat belt or not has no hold on the case. They didn't
      ask to be hit. If they were pulled over and didnt have their seat belt on or
      meaning they were breaking the law in other ways, then it would matter to the
      cops. They made a bad choice but it was someone else who was actually
      wreckless and hurt them.
      ________________________________
      Geri I believe, would be in her RIGHTS to put her feet up, at the sacrifice
      of the safety provided by any airbag system on the passenger side.
      Safety features are provided to protect passengers when the passengers are
      seated and restrained properly. Due to the infinite number of possible positions
      it would be impossible
      to anticipate and engineer for every scenario, Therefore a "Proper" seating
      position is established and the safety features are designed around those
      placements.
      When Geri CHOSE to put her feet up, she also CHOSE to negate some of her
      safety.
      Tom is S.O.L. (lol)
      Usually the only vehicle you can move around in is an RV...whether the
      minivan can be considered in the same light as a motorhome is problematic.
      One again, Tom chose to negate his safety by laying down unrestrained in the
      vehicle.
      However, I believe that both of these people were within their "Rights" to
      sit however they felt comfortable. I think the fault would be totally on the
      person that rear ended them....
      In California, If you rear-end someone, you are automatically ticketed for
      following too closely.

      ___________________________

      The accident description leaves a lot to be considered. Questions arise as to
      speed, weather, road conditions, time of day. I would have to see photo's,
      police report, accident reconstructionist, and read witness statements.

      BOB

      The driver was approaching a construction site. Caution is immediate. Would
      emergency flashers prevented the accident?

      GERI

      Geri may have contributed to the nature and extent of her injury. Dashboards
      were not constructed for the purpose of resting feet or legs. Most
      importantly, she may have prevented the air bag from being properly deployed. I suspect
      that had Geri been seated and restrained properly her injuries may have been
      less serious.

      TOM

      I would not consider Tom's position in the vehicle to be unlawful or
      unreasonable. Perhaps opinion on seatbelt restraint could be an issue.

      ______________________
      Whether or not the plaintiff's were wearing the their seltbelts is
      irrelavent...the defendant had a duty to maintain control of their vehicle...the duty
      was breached...if the duty hadn't been breached..no injury would have occurred
      and they would have arrived unharm to their destination. It is absolutly
      reasonable to lay down without the restraint of a seatbelt during a roadtrip. The
      plaintiff's are trying to shift the blame and muddy the waters...good luck on
      policy limits!!

      ____________________________

      Both Geri and Tom are negligent, for having not been properly seated in a
      moving vehicle or not wearing a safety belt as required by law. However, their
      negligence must be measured against the apparent greater negligence on the part
      of the driver who rear-ended them. It is POSSIBLE that their injuries might
      have not been as severe, had they been properly seated/restrained, however
      that negligence seems to pale in comparison with that of the offending driver.
      Clearly, Geri is less negligent assuming there is no legal requirement
      regarding the position a passenger must take in a moving vehicle in Kentucky, as long
      as she was wearing a seatbelt. Tom might have been a bit more negligent in
      not being restrained because of the state law. Regardless, the entire accident
      must be laid at the feet of the rear ending driver with some minor mitigation
      for the poor judgment of Tom and Gerri.
      I would give a remote analogy by saying if a driver rear ended a Mercedes and
      totaled it the cost for replacement will be dramatically more than if the
      same driver hit an old Toyota. You cannot fault the Mercedes driver for the kind
      of car he/she is driving. Tom and Geri would not have had ANY injuries were
      it not for the negligence of the rear ending driver.
      _____________________________


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