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Winter has finally arrived with piles of fresh powder.  And for snowmobilers across the State of Michigan, the trails of northern Michigan are increasingly becoming more populated.  In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a snowmobile with a blood alcohol level equal or greater than .08.  The newly revised law took effect on December 30, 2014.  And while common sense dictates caution and due care, just like driving a car, there is no excuse for operating a snowmobile while under the intoxicating influence of alcohol (or controlled substances). Regrettably for all, a few people still recklessly use poor judgment and drink and ride snowmobiles while drunk.  And sadly, the tragic consequence for doing so can be fatal.  Sadly still, stories like this are endless and that is why snowmobiling publications and associations across the nation work tirelessly to promote safety and discourage drunk snowmobiling.  You can do your part by leading and encouraging others to do the same.  Now go enjoy the trails!

Authored by L. Page Graves

It may seem obvious.  It may seem an unnecessary public service caution to express.  Especially for us northern Michiganders.  But for whatever the reason, once winter returns the local news is ripe with car crashes occurring in our area, most often because a driver was driving too fast for conditions.  The posted speed limit is for optimum road driving conditions.  It is not the lawful and prudent speed in less than optimum conditions.  Winter road conditions mandate slowing down.  This is commonly known and referred to as “the basic speed law” which we are all taught in driver’s education.

Authored by L. Page Graves

With the growth and development progressing from Acme, east toward Kalkaska, the MDOT has elected to redesign M-72 to include roundabouts.  While MDOT proclaims roundabouts will decrease accidents and improve safety, a closer reading of its own exhaustive study reveals that the facts are not necessarily conclusive.  In fact, to quote directly from its study, MDOT cautions readers to keep in “mind that these results do not account for regression-to-the-mean, traffic volumes or the decreasing time trend in crashes in Michigan so these results should not be used to make conclusions about the effectiveness of roundabouts in Michigan.”  Further, lack of lane discipline, speeding and unfamiliarity with location were all contributing factors that resulted in roundabout crashes.   Needless to say, the jury is still out on whether roundabouts improve the safety of the general public.  At its core, however, — as always — is driver behavior which is paramount for the safety of us all.

Authored by L. Page Graves

 

Since last week’s major storm up in Northern Michigan, tree clean-up is the task at hand for a great many of residents.  Obviously, caution is paramount when operating a chainsaw.  Kickback is the most common and seriously harmful consequence of either inexperienced or careless operation.   Understanding the correct way to operate a chainsaw and avoid kickbacks is relatively straightforward.  If resources permit, it is advisable to hire expert tree service companies to clear fallen trees and debris; there are multiple reputable and local tree service companies here in Northern Michigan permitting you to “keep it local” too.

 

Authored by L. Page Graves

So you and your pals have driven to northern Michigan to play a round of golf at one of its many, beautiful golf courses. You get to the starter shack at the first tee box and the person takes down your assigned golf cart number and then presents to you a “Golf Cart Agreement”. You likely are told it is required that you sign the agreement before you can tee off. Chatter about the course and where the pins are located that day coupled with cart-path-only rules, follow as the signature sheet is placed in front of you to sign. You are consumed with the moment and beauty of the anticipated round; you could care less about the golf cart agreement because you know you will be a responsible person and nothing dramatic will happen. You tee one down the middle of hole number one and off you go. Unbeknownst to you, however, the grounds keeping crew forgot to put a sprinkler drain head-cover back on an irrigation system being worked on that morning. Tall grass grows around the large uncovered hole by the green. You make your put and walk off heading to your golf cart and…..down goes your foot and leg. You hyper-extend your knee and tear your ACL. Golf season is now over. And then the really bad news is revealed: that so-called “Golf Cart Agreement” was less about the golf cart and your responsibility for any damage you may cause to it and more about your having just completely released the golf course of any liability, whatsoever, for its negligence which caused your torn ACL. The dirt literally is in the details. Read any such form that is shoved into your hands while you are pulling out the driver on hole number one. You likely will sign it anyway because you want to play; but just be informed of what it is that you are signing and giving up in the process. For those of you who did not have to sign a “Golf Cart Agreement” or its equivalent and were injured because of the negligence of a golf course or its employees, please contact Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C., for your free consultation about your legal rights.

Authored by L. Page Graves

It is that time of the summer season up here in northern Michigan where festivals are in full swing. With that come corporate sponsors and vendors setting up their promotional tents for the designed purpose to engage potential customers. Vendor tents can be rather large and constructed of heavy metal. And when placed in open spaces (e.g., near the shore of a lake), wind becomes a foreseeable environmental factor that creates risk of the tent blowing over and hurting people. Minimum standards are required for anchoring vendor tents. Unfortunately, corners are cut or time is rushed to get to the festival and the vendor tent raised for business; the consequence of those negligent choices, however, is that the gathering public is put at risk of serious injury. People who have been injured because of the negligence of festival vendors are welcome to contact Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C., for a free consultation to learn more about their legal rights.

Authored by L. Page Graves

Up here in northern Michigan, we are blessed with so many trails, walkways and places to walk, hike, bike or recreate. And to many, dogs are equally part of that cherished family activity. For everyone’s benefit and safety using the trail, sidewalk, walkway or venue, dogs are required to be leashed at all times. Keeping dogs on a leash not only safely protects others from unwanted or unexpected contact, but it also serves to keep the family pet safe, too. Summertime brings increased motorized traffic to our region which, statistically, adds to the probability of a dog being hit by a car, when not on a leash. For more information about Michigan’s leash law or about dog bite liability, generally, please contact Smith & Johnson, for a free consultation.

Authored by L. Page Graves

The nice weather is upon us. Naturally, with that, so are avid motorcycle enthusiasts and cyclists. Sadly, although a motorcyclist or bicyclist is generally highly prudent and safe consciously aware of the road environment, this common Michigan traveler on the roadway seems to be the one missed, more than the one seen. Accredited motorcyclist and cyclist organizations promote high visibility programs to enhance safety for all. Studies show that high visibility clothing and accessories lower the risk to the motorcyclist or cyclist. Vehicle motorists must always still be aware of motorcyclists and cyclists on the roadway; revisiting the 10 common rules for safe coexistence, is always recommended. When a motorcyclist or cyclist is, regretfully, involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, special legal rights attach under Michigan’s compulsory automobile no-fault insurance system. Accident victims are welcomed to contact Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C., for a free consultation to learn their legal rights.

Authored by L. Page Graves

The auto no-fault insurance industry’s recent effort to reform the Michigan system of auto insurance is currently stalled before the Michigan House of Representatives. The version of the bill as passed by the State Senate, changed modestly after being reported out by the House Committee on Insurance. As with any politically charged issue, partisan rhetoric and misleading talking points have deliberately clouded the factual reality of what is really at stake. And regrettably, many news accounts of the important debate do not clarify or correct the rhetoric but instead, merely repeat what each side to the debate has alleged. Objectivity is what Michigan residents expect from their State Legislators as opposed to re-election campaign donation inspired action. For more objective information as to both sides of the issue, please contact Smith & Johnson, Attorneys, P.C., for a free consultation and discussion about this important topic that impacts all Michigan residents and our State’s critically important economic driver: Pure Michigan tourism from abroad.

Authored by L. Page Graves