I am sad to report that a tragic crash in Harrison County, Indiana on Thursday claimed the life of a student at South Central High School and injured several others. This crash is particularly devastating for my family, as both of my nephews attend South Central and know the victim, Clint Burns.

Thursday afternoon, Burns and three others were driving on Highway 11, when police are reporting that the Honda Accord they were in crossed the center line, lost control and slammed into a tree. Burns died at the scene and the others suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalization and surgery.

It is still unclear from news reports who was driving or what caused the distraction, but this is yet another opportunity to remind parents to talk to your kids about distracted driving. It is very easy when you get four teenagers in a car to have multiple distractions – talking and joking/horseplay, radio, cell phones and texting, etc. All it takes is a split second for any one of the distractions to cause a tragedy such as this.

My nephews tell me that the South Central High School and whole Elizabeth, Indiana community has come together in support of these teenagers. My hearts go out to the Burns family for this unimaginable loss, and I wish the others a fast and full recovery.

An electronic cigarette exploded while in the mouth of 57 year-old Floridian Tom Holloway resulting in severe burns, partial loss of his tongue, and loss of teeth. His wife said it sounded like a firecracker going off and the local fire department chief said the best analogy is like trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth and setting it off.

The explosion started a fire and caused property damage in the form of burned carpet, office equipment, cushions and pictures. The shrapnel reportedly melted almost everything it came into contact with. Investigators speculate the battery type as the rechargeable lithium variety because of evidence found at the scene.

The brand of the e-cigarette is unknown. None are regulated by the FDA and there are no studies with respect to their safety of effectiveness.

Mr. Holloway required transport to a burn center for treatment. Hopefully, he can make a full and speedy recovery.

Dangerous and defective products are responsible for many injuries and deaths nationwide. Our profession calls this area of law products liability. Consulting an attorney experienced in handling these matters is usually easy. Most lawyers will provide a complimentary initial consultation to evaluate a claim or case and let the person know if they can help.

This consumer protection information is provided by Louisville, Kentucky attorney Will Nefzger, a partner at Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger PLC.

The Kentucky State Senate has acted to close a loophole that currently exists in the Commonwealth’s seat belt law. Now, Kentucky law only requires seat belt use in vehicles that carry up to 10 people. Senate Bill 89 would push the requirement to vehicles that carry up to 15 passengers. Federal law begins regulating at vehicles that carry 16 or more people, which are classified as buses.

Unfortunately, it took the worst car and truck crash since the Carrollton bus crash in 1988 to bring the gap in the law to light. I previously posted about it here. It involved a 15 passenger van. 10 of 12 people in the van died when a semi-tractor trailer truck crossed over and through the median of I-65 in Hart County and crashed into it. Most passengers in the van were not wearing seat belts.

A crash on Saturday in Jessamine County injured several people. Officers are reporting that an ambulance was running through a red light with lights and sirens flashing, in front of the Lowe’s on US 27, when it hit a pick-up truck, spun around and hit two other cars.

A person was reportedly in the back of the ambulance at the time of the crash but early indications are that the individual suffered no additional injuries.

The ambulance driver and several others were taken to the hospital as a precaution. No word yet on their conditions.

In 2009, I handled a case against Louisville Metro Government arising out of an ambulance who sped through a red light with lights and sirens flashing and struck my client’s vehicle. Many people think that ambulances have free run of the road when their lights and sirens are flashing, but they still have to use extreme caution when running red lights. Most cities and counties have in effect a policy that requires ambulances to stop briefly at a red light, even with lights and sirens flashing, to visualize all vehicles around them and ensure they are stopped.

The year 2012 has barely begun but, according to State Police, we are already seeing a rise in roadway fatalities. As of last Thursday, there have been 64 deaths on Kentucky’s roads, which is five more than this time in 2011.

Preliminary numbers indicate that 31 of those deaths involved individuals not wearing a seatbelt, and 9 are reported to be alcohol-related.

Kentucky State Police said 21-year-old Matthew Miller was driving on Woodlake Road when his car left the road and hit a tree. Authorities reported that Miller was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected, and the car landed on top of him.

A 17-year-old passenger in the car with Miller was taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital with injuries.

“On both sides of the roadway, there’s about a four foot drop,” said Trooper Ron Turley. “They hit a tree, and the vehicle landed right on its top.”

Our sympathies and condolences go out to both families of the parties involved. Hopefully, a full investigation looks at all potential causes in addition to driver error. Car wrecks, such as these, often involve complex questions of law regarding insurance coverage. We use our blog as a forum to educate the public using real life events. However, we are very sensitive to the fact that these real life events have resulted in a tragedy that will inflict great pain and sorrow on those involved and those close to the victim(s). As such, we understand that they may not approve, and we will immediately remove a post if a victim or their loved ones makes that request.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) esimates that the use of helmets saved 1,829 lives in 2008 (the date of their last major study on the subject). What is more amazing is that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 823 lives could have been saved. The NHTSA estimates that helmets are 37-percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41-percent for motorcycle passengers. Translated into real numbers, this means that for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.

NHTSA’s studies have estimated that as of 2008 motorcycle helmet use was 63 percent. As of 2008, 20 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico required helmet use by all motorcyclists. Other States either required only a subset of motorcyclists to use helmets (such as those under age 18), or had no helmet requirement.

Justice has apparently been reached in a story worthy of a episode of the popular crim drama, “Law and Order.’’ In a real life injury actress Rosie Perez has settled her personal injury lawsuit with the producers of hit U.S. crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit after suffering an accident on set in 2009.

The actress sustained back and neck area injuries and was forced to wear a brace after she was violently shaken by an extra while shooting an episode for the show.

She filed suit against the show’s production company bosses last year accusing them of negligence in allowing for the conditions for the particular stunt in question to injure her. She insisted they “recklessly and carelessly” failed to provide experienced personnel for the scene.

According to reports, earlier this week, Perez, who was seeking damages in excess of $75,000, reached an agreement with TV executives, according to her representatives. The details of the settlement have not been made public.

Police are investigating a wreck that killed one person late Sunday night. Witnesses report that around 11:30 p.m. on Interstate 71 near the Watterson Expressway, the driver of a Chevy Corvette was speeding and lost control. The car went off the shoulder and flipped several times.

A passenger in the Corvette died at the scene. The driver was taken to University of Louisville Hospital for injuries. No word on the identity of the individuals or the condition of the driver at this time.

Unfortunately for the driver of the Corvette, if witness accounts are true, depending on the outcome of the investigation, the driver may face both criminal charges arising out of this wreck and civil claims for wrongful death of the passenger. When the driver of a vehicle operates the vehicle recklessly and injures or kills a passenger, he or she may be liable for the damages.