The weather outside is frightful so now is the time to check out BKM’s winter driving tips…

Just in case you haven’t looked outside yet, our “Three Ps” of safe winter driving tips will be extremely relevant and useful over the next couple of days.

Please be careful on the roads, and remember, if someone who isn’t driving safely runs into you or a member of your family, contact Betras, Kopp & Markota right away to arrange a free consultation to discuss your accident. Our experienced team of investigators and attorneys will evaluate your case, provide rock-solid advice, and fight to get the money your family needs and deserves.

So, call the LOCAL law firm big enough to win millions from the insurance giants: Betras, Kopp & Markota.

SAFETY ON WINTER ROADS

Bad roads can lead to bad wrecks. Driving on snow-covered, icy roads is tricky—even for those of us who have been doing it for decades. In order to help drivers avoid accidents, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and OSHA have developed the “Three Ps” of winter driving safety:

PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes on the road.

Some of the advice is pretty obvious—like making sure all the ice and snow is scraped off all your windows before you head down the road. But even though common sense dictates that being able to see is critical to safe driving, we’ve all seen people weaving around as they peer out of the very small space they’ve cleared on their windshield that looks like a porthole on a tank’s gun turret. There’s only one difference: a car isn’t a tank rolling through woods, it’s a car lurching down a road crowded with other vehicles that can be hit because the driver can’t see them, lane lines, traffic signals or stop signs. So let’s start with the obvious, clear off all your windows, it’s great way to prevent collisions. We’re talking to guys in particular, because as the graphic shows, men are a lot more likely to drive in cars with ice-covered windows then women…

Here’s rest of NHTSA’s “Three Ps:

PREPARE

Maintain Your Car: Check battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.

Have On Hand: flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares) and blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication and cell phone.

Plan Your route: Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the maps/ directions, and let others know your route and arrival time.

Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow — but not on a main road. Until you’ve sharpened your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, it’s best to practice in an empty parking lot in full daylight. Note our emphasis on the word “empty.”

Know what your brakes will do: stomp on antilock brakes, pump on non-antilock brakes.

Stopping distances are longer on water-covered ice and ice.

Don’t idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Buckle up and use child safety seats properly.

Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag.

Children 12 and under are much safer in the back seat.

Stopped or Stalled? Stay in your car, don’t overexert, put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light, and, if you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.

Don’t idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

PREVENT CRASHES

Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.

A word of caution about braking: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.

Stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go if you find yourself in a skid. Stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to maintain control of your vehicle. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.

Drugs and alcohol never mix with driving.

Texting while behind the wheel is especially dangerous in winter conditions. Put your phone down.

You can check out NHTSA’s interactive winter driving safety website by clicking here.

Here’s one more tip: even though you do everything right, someone who does just one thing wrong in icy conditions can cause an accident in the blink of an eye. If you’re involved in a wreck caused by a careless or distracted driver, contact Betras, Kopp & Markota BEFORE you talk to an insurance agent or adjuster. We’ll arrange a free consultation that will give us the opportunity to evaluate your case and provide you with sound advice that will protect your rights and your ability to secure justice and the financial settlement you and your family needs and deserves.

Jury finds that 20-year-old died as a result of medical negligence. Betras, Kopp & Markota secures $2,000,000 wrongful death award for family of Megan Clay

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month–BKM is here to help bikers enjoy the open road…

It’s no accident that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month because as the weather gets nicer and riders hit the streets the number of wrecks involving bikes and other vehicles skyrockets.
To help keep the open road safe for bikers BKM will post tips and videos from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), AAA, law enforcement, and the National Highway Safety Foundation during the month and throughout the summer. Check out this informative video from the MSF:  https://vimeo.com/543457795 
We’re leading off with the MSF’s Five Tips for car and truck drivers because statistics show they are at fault in 60% of the accidents involving a bike and another vehicle.
Here are the tips, please utilize them when you’re behind the wheel:
1. Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots, so check — then check again — before changing lanes or making a turn.
2. Predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks. A motorcycle may look farther away than it is because of its small size, and it may be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it appears.
3. Keep a safe distance. Motorcyclists often slow by rolling off the throttle or downshifting, thus not activating the brake light, so allow more following distance, about 3 to 4 seconds.
4. Understand lane shifting. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
5. See the person. When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle, see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.
Bikers enjoy the open road and remember, if you or someone you know is involved in a motorcycle accident, contact the local lawyers who will fight to win the settlement you need and deserve: Betras, Kopp & Markota.

Ohio Supreme Court says hijacking law firm names to drive Google results is a deceptive practice…

Attorney David BetrasI am the managing partner of this law firm which means I am a businessman, which means I am an advertiser. I understand that some people are appalled and offended by attorneys who market their services and are fond of referring to personal injury attorneys as ambulance chasers.”

That is ironic for two reasons: first, because the term was coined in the days when attorneys were forced to contact potential clients and their families directly because the bar was barred from advertising and, second because the pejorative is used regularly by the folks who run or work for mammoth insurance companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year on marketing.

Talk about hypocrites. I guess it is ok for Allstate to spend $500 million annually to convince accident victims that they are in good hands, but I am a ghoul for spending less than one-two thousandth of that to tell them the company is using those hands to pick their pockets.

Go figure.

But I digress. What I really want to discuss in this column is the way marketing in my profession has evolved since 1977, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lawyer advertising was commercial speech entitled to protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Immediately after the decision in Bates v. Arizona was announced law firms began using every available advertising medium to contact clients including television, radio, billboards, direct mail, and the Yellow Pages. For readers too young to remember, the Yellow Pages were the business directory section of something known as a phone book—a thick printed directory that listed every phone number and address in a community. Think of it as a printed version of Google, only much more difficult to use.

Anyway, because the phone book was the way most people obtained phone numbers for businesses, competition for the highly visible and easily accessible parts of the directory including the covers was fierce. Attorneys often paid tens of thousands of dollars for the coveted spots which explains why every Yellow Pages sales rep back in the day drove a Porsche, Cadillac, or Corvette.

Today, the Yellow Pages have been replaced by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and YouTube. The bidding wars for frequently searched keywords like “accident attorney” are every bit as fierce as the battles that raged for prime placement in the phone book with one major difference: the competitors cheat by doing things like purchasing the names of other law firms.

Here is how it works: a person who has been injured wants to contact my firm. They search for Betras, Kopp & Harshman. The result comes back in a millisecond, but the phone number and website that pops up belong to the law firm that is paying the most for our name on that day. So instead of calling us, the potential client calls one of our competitors.

I think the practice is dishonest. The Ohio Supreme Court agrees and recently issued an opinion that said using another firm’s name to drive traffic to a law firm’s own site “may constitute conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation,” and is an act “…designed to deceive an Internet user.”

I applaud the Court’s ruling. Now, if we could just get the justices to force Nationwide to admit they are not on our side…