Cell Phone Use While Driving

In a recent discussion, several lawyers thought that a jury would react more harshly to a driver talking on a cell phone while getting into an accident than a drunk driver. It’s a conscious choice to talk on the phone in a traffic situation and I think that most people can relate to that.

Thomas Creech gave an excellent list of articles to research on cell phone use and the increased risk of collisions.

  1. Association Between Cellular Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collision. D.A. Redelmier and R.J. Tibshrani. NEJM February 14, 1997 pp 453-8
  2. Cautions about Car Telephones and Collision. Editorial M. Maclure and M.A. Mittleman NEJM February 14, 1997 pp 506-7
  3. Cellular Telephones and Traffic Accidents Correspondence NEJM July 16, 1997, pp 127-9
  4. Study Analyzes Cell Phone Use in Fatal Collision. Highway and Vehicle/Safety Report August 3, 1998 p. 4
  5. Cellular Telephone Use and Fatal Traffic Collision: A commentary, D.J. Cher, R.J. Mrad and M. Kelsh. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 31(5) 1999, p. 599
  6. Driver Distraction with Wireless Telecommunication and Route Guidance Systems. L Tijerina, NHTSA, July 2000, 94p
  7. In-vehicle cell phones: fatal distraction? D. Curry. Professional Safety, Vol. 47, No.3, March 2002, pp 28-33
  8. Cell Phones and driving: how risky? D Ropeik. Consumers Research Magazine, Vol 86, No.1 January 2003, pp 14-16.

I have switched to a hands-free system and don’t use the phone in heavy traffic. Thanks for the references Tom, those will be great to look up.

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Basic Research on Cities

If you need basic information on cities, then try City-Data. According to the site:

We've collected and analyzed data from numerous sources to create as complete and interesting profiles of all U.S. cities as we could. We have tens of thousands of city photos not found anywhere else, hundreds of thousands of maps, satellite photos, stats about residents (race, income, ancestries, education, employment...), geographical data, state profiles, crime data, housing, businesses, birthplaces of famous people, political contributions, city government employment, weather, hospitals, schools, libraries, houses, airports, radio and TV stations, zip codes, area codes, user-submitted facts, similar cities list, comparisons to averages...

Wow. That’s a lot of info. Here’s what they have to say about Myrtle Beach. A lot of interesting stuff. Most of it would not be admissible at trial, but it can give you a start, plus it could be very useful for demand packages or mediation. Thanks goes out to Randy Hood for pointing the site out.

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Reverse Dictionary - Give the Definition and Look Up the Word

If you can’t remember the exact word, but know the definition you can look up the word using OneLook Reverse Dictionary.

This would have been a real help to me when I was a linguist in the Army. Speaking four languages in addition to English (Arabic, Hungarian, French and Spanish). I would often forget the names of very simple things like bread and chair. And in case you were wondering, French and Spanish came from high school and self study, the Army taught me Arabic and Hungarian.

Thanks to Bob Kraft’s P.I.S.S.D. -- Personal Injury, Social Security Disability for the link. Bob always has great stuff on his blog.

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Weblog Terminology

I have a lot of trial lawyer readers that aren’t as up on weblog technology. Well here’s your chance to catch up. The Hartford Courant has a great Glossary of Weblog Terminology.

Thanks to Kevin O’Keefe at LexBlog for the find on this one.

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Find a Lawyer in South Carolina

The South Carolina Bar has a Member’s Directory that is quicker and easier to use than the Lawyer’s Desk Book.

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Pathology Abbreviations and Acronyms

Here’s a listing of over 12,000 Medical and Pathology Abbreviations and Acronyms. The listing is 215 pages long and was put together by Jules J. Berman, Ph.D., M.D. Thanks to Shirley Hughes and Janabeth Taylor who brought the list to my attention.

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Justia Offers Free Migration for Findlaw Clients

Well, you sort of had to see this coming. With Thomson West bought Findlaw, you knew it was only a matter of time before the corporate world would rear it’s ugly head and mess up a good thing. I say this not to say anything bad about Thomson West specifically, but with a historical knowledge of great products ruined when purchased by corporate masters. TimeSlips and WordPerfect are two that immediately come to mind.

Findlaw is shutting down the free websites that it has been supporting and is giving the client firms only two and a half weeks to find a new home.

That’s not a good public relations move. Fortunately, Justia is offering free search migration solution with engine optimized websites. Read more about it at the link, or click here to start building your own SEO website now.

[Disclosure]:  Justia did my website and did a bang up job.  I’m very pleased with the work, the price and the search engine results.

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Use a Third Party Vendor to Format Federal Appellate Briefs

If you’re filing an appellate brief to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, they are sticklers for details. Most of us trial lawyers don’t go to the appellate level often and the rules can be daunting to make certain you get everything just right.

The LEX Group, a third party vendor takes all of the thinking and guesswork out of the process. You can e-mail your brief to them and they will format it exactly the way the court likes it for you. They also do US Supreme Court briefs.

What a wonderful service to have. I’d gladly pay a few hundred dollars to make certain that the filing is right. Thanks to Johnny Peace for the heads up on this.

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Great Recall Information from Justia

Justia has a fabulous page of Auto Recalls sorted and organized by manufacture, model and year. You can even sign up for an RSS feed for your make and model, so you will automatically be notified if there’s a recall on your car.

Justia also has a Recall site for other products. Their Major categories are Infants & Children, Clothing & Accessories, Food & Drugs,
Health & Beauty, Pets & Pet Care, Operating Equipment, Outdoor Recreation & Sports , Household & Office, Music, Art & Hobbies, and Political Recalls.

The best part is that it’s free. Justia has been busy lately. I’m a big fan of Tim Stanley and Justia, as I mentioned before they did my website and I’m very happy with the looks, the search engine optimization and the search engine results.

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Ten Minute Mentor: Great Resource of Video Talks from the Greats

Imagine being able to sit down with one of the best lawyers in the state for 10 minutes of advice. Now multiply that by 100. That’s what the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association did. They took a video production crew around the state for several months, videotaping 10 minute presentations from some of the best lawyers in Texas. Robert Ambrogi describes the project well:

In cooperation with Texas Bar CLE, TYLA created a library of short video presentations by some of the state's best-known experts on key points of law, firm-building, tactics and personal development. Anyone -- no need to be from Texas to find value in this series -- can hear veteran trial lawyer Harry M. Reasoner of Vinson & Elkins tell how to structure a legal argument, "King of Torts" Joseph D. Jamail discuss the lawyer's role in society, and Haynes Boone co-founder Michael M. Boone tell how to build a law firm that will last.

The site is Ten Minute Mentor. You can browse by topic, or by author. A lot of the information is not Texas specific. The best part of it is that it’s free. The project is described as “Concise. Practical. Free."  Yep.

[Note: I’m slow to post about this great resource. In addition to Robert Ambrogi, MyShingle, Illinois Trial Practice Blog, Al Nye the Lawyer Guy and Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog have also gotten out the word.]

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South Carolina Workers Comp Forms

The State of South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission has all of their forms on-line.

The SC Bar has a great disk of the forms in Hot Docs where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. I can’t imagine practicing without the Hot Docs forms.

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Useful Workers Comp Calculators

McAngus, Goudelock and Courie has done all of us a favor and put two useful tools for workers comp cases on-line.

Number of Weeks Calculator – You put in a start date and an end date and the calculator will tell you the number of weeks in between.

Present Day Value Calculator – You put in the number of weeks awarded and the calculator will tell you the commuted value.

This is good stuff. Sometimes a defense firm can help Plaintiff’s lawyers.

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Use Technorati to Stay up on News

Technorati is a great way to stay on top of news that’s important to trial lawyers. If you’re not familiar with Technorati, it’s a search engine with an RSS feed. That means you can have the search results continually dump into your newsreader as the information gets updated on the net. Here are a few of the technorati feeds I ‘subscribe’ to:

  • Consumer safety
  • corporate greed
  • corporate welfare
  • tort reform

Whenever any of those terms are put on the internet, I see the headline in my newsreader. If you are doing a products liability case, you can set a Technorati newsfeed for any time the manufacturer is mentioned, or any time the product by any manufacturer is mentioned.  The best part of technorati is it’s free.

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WordPerfect Resources and Links

It’s great to see WordPerfect making a resurgence. It was almost on life support, but lately I’ve been hearing more and more people switching back to WP. Ben Rondeau gives us a lot of WordPerfect resources to help us use the program better. Each of these sites has tons of information and links to other WordPerfect sites.

I knew of a few of these, but most were new to me. Thanks for the tip, Ben.

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Coolest Zip Code Locator Ever

Ben Fry of M.I.T has written a graphic zip code locator called zipdecode. Type in the zip code and it will not only identify the city for the zip code, but also show you a graphical representation of the areas served. It’s a bit hard to explain, but click on the link and give it a try. You have to see it yourself. It’s really neat.

Don’t forget to try the Zoom function. The program is written in java, so you have to have a java plug-in. If you don’t have java, you can get it here. Thanks to Preaching to the Perverted for the link.

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Yahoo! Maps Sends Driving Directions Directly To Mobile Phones

Brighthand   brings us news that

Starting today consumers can go to Yahoo! Maps and click the "Send to Phone" link on the driving directions page to send the full, step-by-step directions directly to their phone.

You still have to use a computer on Yahoo! Maps to look up the information, but the driving directions can be sent straight to your phone. Yahoo beat Google to the punch on this one. Thanks to Engadget for the heads up on this new feature.

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Know where the nearest Kinko's Is When You Travel

When I travel out of town, I have my secretary get directions for me on MapQuest. Even if I’ve been to the particular courthouse a number of times, I still get confused and do not want to get lost going to the courthouse (it doesn’t inspire confidence in the clients).

In addition to having directions to the courthouse, you can go to FedExKinko’s website type in the zip code of where you are going and it will find the nearest Kinko’s location. You can then have your secretary get directions from the courthouse to Kinko’s using MapQuest again. This can come in handy for any number of things, copying, binding, blow up posters, internet access, conference rooms…

This is a good idea that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own and is the final tip we have from Mark.

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Forms on the SC Judicial Website

Mike Hursey gives the tip of forms on the SC Judicial website. They have forms for Appellate, Alternate Dispute Resolution, Common Pleas, Family Court, Family Court mediation, General Sessions, Magistrate/Municipal and Probate Court.

I've listed the Common Pleas forms below:

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Online Traffic Report Manual & Links to SC Police Departments

Robert Phillips gives us the heads up on the SC Criminal Justice Academy having the SC Traffic Collision Report Form (TR-310) Instruction Manual online. This is a great resource for the codes on traffic reports and exactly how officers complete the traffic reports.

The Criminal Justice Academy also has a great links page that lists all of the sheriff's offices, police departments, campus police, federal agencies and other good links.

Thanks for the tip, Robert.

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CPT Code and ICD-9-CM Lookups

Another tip from Mark Zamora.

Flash Code has all CPT and HCPCS codes that you can access for free. This helps you decipher and make sense of the doctor’s illegible handwriting.

FlashCode also has a companion site for ICD-9 CM coding.

You do have to register for both the sites, but accessing the information is free. Thanks Mark.

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2005 Standard Mileage Rate is 40.5 Cents

The IRS has posted the 2005 mileage reimbursement rate at .405 or 40.5 cents a mileage. Good to know when calculating mileage for witness fees.

Thanks to Eric Philpot for the heads up on this one.

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Free Reverse Phone Number Directory

Bespacific has a good find. An applet written by Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch that uses Google to search for a phone number. It also functions as a reverse phone directoy, looking up the name and address associated with a phone number.

FoneFinder looks up area codes, prefixes and cities. You can either search by area code or by city. And if that isn't enough for you, it also has all of the international codes.

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Inexpensive Aerial Mapping by Street Location

In October, Google purchased Keyhole, a digital aerial mapping company. There's been a lot of aerial mapping companies before, but what makes Keyhole different are the digital features and it's high resolution.

You can find a location by typing it's address. The pro version of Keyhole allows you to zoom in and fly to anywhere in a a city. Go to the site and check out their demo tours of Boston and Athens. They are really quite spectacular.

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How to Find A Missing Doctor

Randy Hood suggests a few ways to track down a doctor. If the doctor is in South Carolina, you can check with the SC Medical Board.

You can do a nationwide search for the doctor on the AMA's website and selecting Doctor Finder. To use the Doctor Finder function, you have to know the state that the doctor is in.

He also suggests using American Board of Medical Specialties website to track down the state that the doctor lives in. The site is free, but requires registration. Once you know the state the doctor lives in, you can go back to the AMA site and get the full info on the doctor.

Thanks for the tip Randy.

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Looking for a Court?

This is more research information than a trial technique, but here are all of the Federal Courts and all of the State Courts, which includes all of the South Carolina Courts.

You can also find the Official South Carolina Judicial Site and the South Carolina District Court Site.

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