Rear-end collision causes chain reaction accident that kills 3
A recent chain-reaction car accident in Pennsylvania has resulted in three deaths and a dozen injuries. All told, there were seven separate vehicles involved in the accident, which began as a rear-end collision. Two of the three deceased individuals were in the same car — a driver and a passenger — and the third deceased victim was a driver in one of the other vehicles.
Apparently, a tractor-trailer was attempting to pass a box truck that was moving slowly. During this attempted pass, the tractor-trailer struck a car from behind. This resulted in a chain reaction that involved the tractor-trailer, the box truck, the car that was rear-ended and four other vehicles. Some of the vehicles caught on fire, making the chaotic scene even more dangerous.
It took several hours for the wreckage to be cleared and the accident to be investigated. The highway was shut off to traffic during this time. The driver of the tractor-trailer likely won’t have any charges formally filed against him for a few weeks, after all necessary data has been collected and examined.
It appears as if the tractor-trailer is at-fault for this accident. However, the accident investigation will determine this for sure. Regardless, any of the victims who were injured or families of victims who died in the car accident may be able to enforce their legal rights by filing a civil claim. A successful civil claim may provide a monetary award of damages that may help the victims or families of victims deal with the financial burden that is left behind following such a terrible rear-end collision in Pennsylvania.
Source: wfmz.com, “Multi-vehicle accident, fire on Interstate 78 East in Greenwich“, , May 12, 2014
Texting may elicit unsafe driving behaviors from self and others
Readers likely know examples of behaviors that might constitute negligent driving, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or texting behind the wheel. Other studies have compared texting behind the wheel to the level of impairment presented by drunk driving. A spokesperson for Allstate Insurance claims that texting and driving increases the rate of an accident by 23 times. With data like that, it’s easy to see why evidence of distracted driving may convince jurors of negligence in an auto accident case, resulting in a damages award to the crash victim.
Yet even if a driver is not distracted or impaired, a recent article cautions that the higher volume of traffic over the Memorial Day holiday weekend may require extra patience. Indeed, negligent driving may result from something as simple as anger over another driver’s road behavior. In that regard, the results of a recent Expedia survey may come as a surprise. According to the data, nearly 70 percent of drivers say that texting while driving is the leading behavior that might infuriate them.
Yet texting may also have a surprising effect on other drivers, especially if it induces road rage in them. Anger behind the wheel could possibly create a very dangerous driving environment. For example, an infuriated driver might tailgate or try to pass someone who is texting. Cutting off a driver under unsafe conditions could possibly lead to a motor vehicle accident.
According to a recent article, state troopers in 15 states along I-95 will be out in greater numbers, in anticipation of the Memorial Day holiday weekend — and the potentially irresponsible behavior behind the wheel that it might entail. Hopefully, their efforts will not be wasted.
Source: CBS Philly, “Survey: Texting While Driving Makes Other Drivers Really, Really Mad,” Jan Carabeo, May 16, 2014
Legal loophole may endanger drivers in used cars or rental cars
Conscientious consumers may value both money-saving and safety features in a motor vehicle. A used car purchase might seem to balance both of those concerns. In fact, the marketing of used cars often emphasizes those very features. For example, CarMax, which is the country’s largest used-car seller, offers a certified quality inspection to customers. Yet one item is conspicuously missing from that inspection: fixing recalls.
Unlike new car dealerships, rental car companies and used car dealers are not required by federal law to fix recall defects. In fact, they don’t even have to inform customers of a recall notice pertaining to a vehicle.
Yet it is a fact that drivers in America continue to be injured in motor vehicle accidents because a used car dealer or rental car company failed to repair a faulty part. One fatal crash involving a rental car in 2004 was particularly gruesome and newsworthy, prompting some federal lawmakers to introduce proposed legislation. However, the proposals have not yet become law.
Automakers have a responsibility to design and test their vehicles for safety. When a part is discovered to be dangerous or defective, it seems intuitive to require repairs. Yet the law imposes that requirement only on new car dealerships. Consequently, a driver injured by a defective car part in a used or rental car may be unsure how to pursue compensation for his or her losses and/or injuries. An attorney that has experience in bringing personal injury and product liability lawsuits may be able to devise a course of action for such individuals.
Source: New York Times, “Recalled Used Cars Roam the Roads as Federal Legislation Stalls,” Christopher Jensen, May 8, 2014
Truck accident safety: Slower speeds means quicker stops
Posted May 9, 2014 | negligence
In a truck accident case, a personal injury attorney’s investigation is into past behavior. For example, an attorney might examine whether a truck driver failed to comply with applicable commercial trucking regulations, and cite any failures as indicia of negligence.
Yet as safety advocates might note, many commercial trucking regulations are designed to be proactive by creating a safer environment on roads and highways in Pennsylvania and across the country.
In that regard, a new anticipated mandate by the U.S. Department of Transportation might virtually police speeding by trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds. Called an Electronic Control Module, the device would prevent trucks from traveling over a certain speed limit.
The theory behind the device is that reducing top travel speeds will reduce the minimum stopping distance required by large trucks. Data confirms that truck accident fatalities are more common on higher speed roadways.
Notably, the American Trucking Association has welcomed the mandate, advising that speed limiters be installed on all new trucks. Another safety advocacy group is calling for all large trucks manufactured since 1990 to be retrofitted with the devices.
Unfortunately, a victim of a truck accident may have to contend with more than just the driver. The driver may be employed by a large trucking company, and the thought of going up a trucking company’s insurance carrier can seem daunting, even for truck accident victims who believe the evidence establishes negligence on the part of the truck driver. That’s why a crash victim might need the help of an experienced truck accident attorney. An attorney can investigate the scene for potential evidence that may prove negligence or fault.
Source: Claims Journal, “Fed to Require Speed Limiters on Trucks,” Gary Wickert, May 1, 2014
Hospitals may need safety protocols to guard against drug abuse
For readers unfamiliar with drug diversion, the phrase refers to the misappropriation of medical drugs for recreational or unintended uses.
In the case of health workers, drug diversion can present a risk of serious personal injury to hundreds or even thousands of patients, depending on how long the prescription drug abuse went undetected.
In several notable examples, health care workers who were self-injecting patient medications in syringes and replacing them with saline caused hepatitis C outbreaks. If a doctor were to perform a surgery while impaired by prescription drugs or other substances, even a routine procedure might result in tragedy.
Unfortunately, a recent article suggests that many health care facilities may not have adequate safety protocols for preventing drug diversion. Simple steps like instituting more stringent record keeping protocols and installing security cameras might go a long way toward ensuring patient safety. Yet health care facilities may lack even these basic safeguards.
What’s even more disturbing than the lack of safeguards is the way that many facilities may handle a health care professional caught in the act of drug diversion. In some instances, an offending health care professional may not even encounter criminal consequences for his or her behavior.
An attorney that has experience in medical malpractice claims knows that the investigation into injury causation may require an extensive look not only at the specific procedure or medication administered, but also at general hospital procedures. For example, health care professionals must keep diligent medical records and perform a thorough intake of a patient before prescribing a treatment. Hospitals may be found liable for negligence if they fail to require such protocols for their admitted patients.
Source: USA Today, “Doctors, medical staff on drugs put patients at risk,” Peter Eisler, April 16, 2014
Bicycle accidents and traumatic brain injury
One of the challenges with mild or moderate traumatic brain injury is that its symptoms may not immediately appear. However, TBI symptoms that affect a person’s decision-making abilities and impulse control may surface in the days, weeks or even months that follow. TBI injuries may also exacerbate an individual’s chances at recuperation when accompanied by other injuries.
According to a recent article, diffuse axonal injury, which is a type of TBI injury involving damage to nerve fibers or blood vessels, may go undetected by CT or MRI scans. Yet even a mild case of TBI might affect the way information travels across different brain regions.
Of course, a TBI injury can also be very serious. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 50,000 Americans die from traumatic brain injuries each year. That amounts to a national death toll of about 138 Americans each day.
Although motor vehicle accidents can also result in head trauma, perhaps the risk of TBI is greatest for bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Even with a helmet, the force of impact from being thrown to the ground during a motorcycle or bicycle accident may be too great to prevent a TBI. Of course, pedestrians generally don’t have such protective gear on their heads, and may sustain the most severe injuries.
With the advice of a personal injury attorney, an accident victim might request sophisticated neural diagnostic tests to fully measure the scope of an injury. Only then can an accurate claim for damages be made in a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help an accident victim request full compensation for all of the pain and suffering that might accompany a bicycle or motorcycle accident.
Source: io9, “Why a Head Injury Can Be Far Worse Than You Realize,” George Dvorsky, April 1, 2014
Study examines truck accidents, tractor-trailer regulations
Posted April 18, 2014 | insurance
Readers may recall a certain physics equation involving variables for force, mass and acceleration. Under that law of motion, force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.
On Pennsylvania’s roads and highways, this equation explains why some motorists might view tractor-trailers as potential menaces. The sheer mass of semi trucks and tractor-trailers means that more force is generated than a smaller passenger vehicle. If a collision occurs, it’s not hard to predict which vehicle will usually fare better.
Lawmakers recognize the extra danger presented by truck accidents. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board recently presented a list of seven safety recommendations about tractor-trailers to the National Highway Safety Administration. The list addressed such issues as blind spots, outdated underride guards, and record keeping suggestions.
Notably, various laws and regulations are also in place to help ensure the safety of roads shared with trucks. Readers probably recognize many of these requirements as common knowledge. For example, commercial truck drivers may need a special driver’s license to operate their vehicles. Employees of a trucking company may also be required to submit to a background check, periodic drug and alcohol testing throughout the course of their employment, and take specialized training.
Special laws also apply to truckers’ vehicles. Drivers may be required to bring their trucks in for periodic inspections or maintenance screenings. There may be weigh stations along a highway. Special insurance may be required for large trucks or tractor-trailers, and there may be regulations pertaining to specific types of cargo that a truck might transport.
For a personal injury attorney, any laws that may apply to a truck driver might be characterized as that driver’s duty of care behind the wheel. When a requirement is ignored or failed, the safety of other drivers on the road may be jeopardized. An attorney can investigate these requirements to help crash victims present a strong personal injury claim.
Source: The Trucker, “NTSB offers 7 recommendation to improve truck safety,” April 4, 2014
Technology may make backing up safer for drivers and bystanders
Readers of this personal injury blog know what can happen when drivers fail to practice an appropriate standard of care when driving. As today’s story illustrates, that duty of safe driving begins the moment an individual gets behind the wheel — even if he or she has only begun backing up.
In fact, back-over accidents affect a tragically large number of Americans each year, according to data estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a 2010 report, the NHTSA asserted that drivers hit about 15,000 individuals each year when backing up. An estimated 210 people die from this type of accident.
Given those numbers, a new rule proposal from the NHTSA makes sense. The proposal would require all new light vehicles to have backup cameras that provide a view of a zone 10 by 20 feet behind each vehicle. The technology, officially referred to as rear-view visibility systems, would be required of in all light vehicles by May 1, 2018, although it would start phasing in two years prior. Notably, cars, trucks, vans and even SUVs are considered light vehicles, and thus would be subject to the rule.
As a personal injury attorney knows, jurors may be inclined to presume that a back-over accident occurred because of negligence. Pedestrians, after all, are often legally presumed to have the right-of-way. However, this type of accident may be unique in that its victims may have unknowingly put themselves in danger. Specifically, NHTSA data indicates that almost one-third of the victims hit by back-over accidents are children 5 years of age or younger. For that reason, federal officials may have been motivated to take matters into their own hands and issue the rule proposal.
Source: USA Today, “NHTSA to require backup cameras on all vehicles,” Chris Woodyard, April 1, 2014
To err is human; to cover up is negligence
Car designs have changed over the years, reflecting both scientific advances and consumer preferences. For example, aerodynamic principles are an expected feature in many car design ideas. Other features, like oversized grilles, beautiful surfacing, or detailing may be hard to justify as anything more than current consumer tastes.
Yet when an automaker discovers a potentially dangerous aspect in a car design, it is legally required to take steps to avoid that defect from causing personal injury to consumers. This requirement makes the response of automaker General Motors to a faulty ignition switch seem all the more negligent.
According to reports, the faulty ignition switch may cause a vehicle’s engine to lose power while driving. The sudden surprise of lost power, coupled with the difficulty in steering and controlling a vehicle without electrical power, is clearly a dangerous proposition. In fact, at least 13 fatal motor vehicle accidents have been attributed to this product issue.
At a recent House subcommittee hearing, federal lawmakers accused G.M.’s chief executive of ignoring a potentially dangerous car defect for about a decade. True, the automaker has issued a recall of over one millions vehicles that may have the defective part. However, the company is without justification for ignoring early warnings about the dangerous issue.
An attorney that specializes in auto defect cases knows that companies like G.M. have the resources to mount a strong defense against allegations of negligence, personal injury and/or product liability. It may take experts to establish that a carmaker failed to take adequate steps to ensure the crashworthiness of its product. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, however, an accident victim can work to hold accountable all those who may have been negligent.
Source: The New York Times, “G.M. Chief Faces Ire of Senators in Hearing,” Bill Vlasic and Matthew L. Wald, April 2, 2014
Forming good habits is essential for safe driving
Are teenagers who get their license early, such as in the 10th or 11th grade, incapable of safe driving? Could they lack the psychosocial and cognitive development to practice the standard of care expected of everyone who gets behind the wheel?
A recent study explored a narrow slice of this issue, following the drinking or drugged driving habits of a national sample of teenagers. Researchers collected data from the teens in the tenth grade, and followed them through their senior year. Researchers specifically sought to examine the extent to which early licensure and/or poor role models might influence impaired driving choices in the teens.
The data suggests some connection between early licensing and drinking and driving habits. Researchers theorize that teens who get their licenses early might be more adventuresome, or willing to take risks, than peers who don’t start driving until their senior year or later.
In contrast, the connection between poor role models and teenager’s unsafe choices about drinking and/or drugged driving was very strong. In fact, in the case of teens that had confirmed being a passenger of an impaired driver in all three surveys, one researcher claims an increased likelihood of impaired driving by a factor of 120 times.
A personal injury attorney might suggest a more practical explanation: experience. Safe driving habits can be encouraged in a classroom setting, but it takes real life experience to put those lessons into practice. In that regard, the study found that teenagers who had been passengers of another impaired driver were much more likely to drink and drive themselves. Other drivers can make an impact on young drivers, often serving as role models.
Source: USA Today, “Riding with impaired drivers increases teens’ DUI risks,” Michelle Healy, Mar. 17, 2014