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Will DOT Be Taking Action Decrease Pedestrian Casualties?

Sports car rushing to hit pedestrian
A man at a pedestrian crossing seen through the window of an oncoming sports car

By accident attorney Michael Ehline – So we now have attention deficit disorder and distracted driving. But wait, there is a new crisis for a government agency to use to justify its existence. It is called “Distracted Walking.”

The Department of Transportation has become concerned with the rise in pedestrian deaths in recent years. As always, the government’s answer is always more fees, taxes, fines, and regulations (some would say “over-regulation”).

This intrusion is always accompanied, of course by a need for more tax-payer funded public employees, a govt employee union, and bloated benefits and pensions. And of course, these are typically much greater and better than a typical worker in the USA.

So do the apparent benefits of more regulations reduce societal problems? Or does the bloat and overreach come to the point of diminishing returns? Does common sense, and just being a decent human being play more or less of a role in avoiding pedestrian deaths than it was? If so, why, or why not?


What the DOT is Saying About Distracted Walking

Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has termed the rise in pedestrian deaths as “distracted walking,” since this more significant number of pedestrians being injured and killed while texting or listening to music. Foxx also said that drugs might also have contributed to this increase in pedestrian deaths. So if you are bee-bopping down street stoned on a joint of marijuana or playing with your cell phone, you could get hurt! Figure?

It looks like we need a new law right away to hurt the law-abiding and restrict their freedoms to justify what we did as elected officials and government agencies right? Here it comes.

The data for pedestrians that were killed and injured by the Department of Transportation showed a rise from 4,109 in 2009 to 4,432 in 2011. The evidence further indicates that there were 69,000 pedestrians were injured. Oh, my god!


LA and Chicago Strike Again With the Highest Pedestrian Death Rates

Interesting that dense and overcrowded cities have more people getting hurt on foot. I propose we make big cities illegal. In any event, this data shows Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York have the highest percentages of pedestrian-vehicle collision deaths. (See also, the pedestrian accident attorney blog here.)

The rate of pedestrian deaths due to motor vehicles in Los Angeles is 42%. It is 30% in Chicago and 51% in New York. According to a report by the U.S. Product Safety Commission, over 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms during 2011. All of these were injured while walking. Or perhaps they were walking and using electronic devices such as a cell phone.


First Step More Enforcement and a Safety Campaign – Enter the Federal Grants.

So rather than looking at population increases, DOT wants to increase “enforcement” and so-called “education” (“Here is your ticket, now pay up and don’t be distracted sir again”). The answer Foxx said is education and more enforcement, as there would be in a pedestrian safety campaign.

There are as many as twenty-two cities that are battling the increase in pedestrian harm and fatalities. These cities have until August 30th to apply for federal grants that have 2 million dollars allocated to deal with distracted walking.

Remember, grants can be like the Hotel California. Pure and straightforward, this is a way for the feds to get control over your state. So follow the money. According to Foxx, who plans a pedestrian advocacy summit in the fall that will include the national nonprofit America Walks. This summit is a coalition of groups who advocate improving conditions for pedestrians.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Administrator David Strickland said that everyone should play a role in pedestrian safety. And he stressed that driver’s need to adhere to driving laws.


The Safety Data.

Figures by the Department of Transportation data shows several details, including 3 out of 4 pedestrians die in urban areas. I fact, at least 2 out of three of these fatalities occurring at locations other than intersections. The highest rate of pedestrian deaths at approximately 70% happens between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. is proven in the compiled data.


What are The Flaws in the Study?

All I can say is no duh. More people get hurt in crowded cities who are on foot. And many of our clients are hit by government buses. So perhaps the government should consider that it is distracted government employees, and maybe not pedestrians.

The study also fails to distinguish that in California, the pedestrian has the right of way in most cases. But in New York, the car operator has the right of way unless the person on foot is disabled or blind.

So it would be interesting to see how many of these cases are just govt employees running people down. Then all they must do is blame a cell phone or headphones of the person walking down the street, etc.


Safety Yes, DOT Regs, and More Enforcement No.

At common law, all persons are required to act reasonably. This code is a social code of conduct that is supreme even above a criminal law. It is the basic rule for life. And if a person violates this code, he or she can be sued for negligence, or be hurt or run over by a car, for example.

So education and safety are essential. But it is the job of the individual to take responsibility for their actions, get off welfare and government mind control, and be a sovereign unto themselves and their neighbor, always acting with benevolence and graciousness.

So yes, right now, I am doing my part, and it did not take a new government employee, or traffic cop to raid your bank account. You just learned from me.

Hey, be careful out there and stop screwing around. In any event, there is zero evidence that big government, govt safety campaigns or anything like that reduces anything. Like the war on drugs, this is a problem that educated individuals, not their government minder, can figure out themselves, once they are left alone to use their brains. Semper Fi.
Other Sources of Information:

  1. LA Times Propaganda on Pedestrian Safety
  2. Official US Govt Propaganda on Distracted Walking
  3. More USDOT Distracted Walking PR
  4. LA. Pedestrian Lawyer Site: https://www.elfpi.com/pedestrian-lawyers/

Video About Pedestrian Accidents:

Personal Injury Settlements and Taxes

The word Taxes and Keep Your Money jumping over it on an arrow
The word Taxes and Keep Your Money jumping over it on an arrow

Most of us know that personal injuries are unplanned events. And usually, people would rather avoid being personally injured.  But when an incident does happen, the victim is often entitled to recover compensation to get their life back on track. When an individual obtains a personal injury settlement, it compensates them.

The agreement will cover them for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. So this is a financial award to help in the healing process after an accident due to carelessness or recklessness. But this financial gain that is used to offset the costs related to an accident may also have an impact on personal income taxes.


Compensation—Loss and Non-Taxable Money

There will be no impact on federal income taxes due when a person is awarded compensation for medical expenses or pain and suffering. The reason that this is not taxable money is that it is to compensate the person who suffered harm losses. This financial gain is not considered as earned income under federal tax laws.

What about Lost Wages?

Compensation is awarded that may be considered taxable money when the claimant is awarded money for lost wages. So this would be regarded as income that would usually appear on the claimant’s W-2 federal tax form. The IRS would receive a copy of from the employer. Applicants who live in states where there are state income taxes are responsible for the taxes on the awarded compensation. And typically, it would be reported by the employer when it is for lost wages.

State Law and Personal Injury Settlements

In some states, the law will contradict federal law when it involves financial compensation or a personal injury. In these states, an individual may not be required to pay federal taxes on a significant portion of the personal injury settlement. In other states, the law includes terminology that requires the individual to pay on all of their earnings. And this includes a financial settlement.

Knowing that these laws can vary from one state to another, it is essential for taxpayers to see the tax laws of the state in which he or she is domiciled in or resides. This knowledge can be gained through research, consulting with a tax attorney, or a CPA. So do so before filing state or federal income tax returns.

Do Confidential Settlements have Tax Implications?

Many PI lawyers may not be aware of this. The sad truth is that the IRS will come after someone for taxes in a confidential PI settlement unless the agreement is structured correctly.

You heard right. In these cases, confidentiality is being purchased to keep a party quiet. Examples could include cases where a child gets raped on a cruise ship, and both the parents and the cruise industry wants to keep this delicate matter “hush-hush.”

Since this additional side deal for confidentiality has nothing to do with the actual injury, it is subject to tax consequences.  If it is not spelled out how much the silence was purchased for, the IRS will assess an amount.  Sometimes the tax assessment is so outrageous; no compensatory award remains for the injured party. To help alleviate this risk, the parties need to spell out the amount. Also, it must show who is bearing the burden of the tax consequences. Otherwise, do not engage in a confidential settlement at all!


What About Settlements more than Loss?

There are some compensation awards which generally will occur in a civil court setting. And these may be over the actual losses of the victim. This usually happens in personal injury cases where punitive damages are awarded.

Under the federal tax laws, this financial gain over what the actual losses suffered are is taxable income. When a judge approves this type of award, the court records will show the amount of taxable compensation. This money can be reported as other income when filing a federal income tax return.

Other Resources:

“Confidentiality in Settlement Agreements Is Bad for Clients, Bad for Lawyers, Bad for Justice” (ABA): http://www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2012/november_december2012privacyandconfidentiality/confidentiality_settlement_agreements_is_bad_clients_lawyers_justice.html

“IRS Issues New Rules For Tax-Free Legal Settlements” (Forbes): http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2012/01/31/irs-issues-new-rules-for-tax-free-legal-settlements/

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Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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