Archive for January, 2012
Monday, January 30th, 2012
There is a certain stereotype regarding motorcycle riders which designates all of them as reckless, wild and crazy riders who automobile riders are forced to share the road with. In truth the actual number of bad bikers is very small, with somewhere around one percent actually fitting the stereotype of the Harley rider. Unfair as the stigma may be, bikers themselves tend to perpetuate the myth. They install loud pipes on the bikes, and dress like the dangerous movie character bikers modifying their motorcycles to go along with the stereotype. Further, because motorcyclists often ride in groups, it furthers the perception of the high number of wild-driving bikers.
The Safety-Conscious Motorcyclist
There is a wide range of diversity among motorcycle riders and you will find every age and every profession driving a motorcycle and many times the motorist who finds himself or herself in trouble on the highway ends up receiving the help they require in the form of a motorcycle rider. Most motorcycle riders are even more conscious of safety than ever before. More riders are taking motorcycle safety courses and receiving extended training in order to receive their motorcycle license. The clothing typically worn by motorcycle riders has even improved through the years through helmet standards and more protection in their leathers, gloves and boots.
Blaming the Motorcyclist
Unfortunately, insurance companies and juries tend to automatically pin the blame for the accident on the motorcycle rider without benefit of the actual facts. Far from being reckless bad boys with a death wish, accident statistics prove that the majority of car/motorcycle crashes are caused by automobile drivers and even many single bike accidents are actually the result of actions of the driver of an automobile.
In many cases of single bike accidents the negligence of the automobile driver is directly responsible for the single-bike motorcycle accident. Drivers may be inattentive due to talking on their cell phone, fiddling with the radio or CD player, chatting with other passengers in the car, eating, or disciplining the children in the back seat. This inattentiveness can lead a driver to veer into the other lane, sending a motorcyclist careening off the road in an effort to avoid a head-on collision with a car.
In other instances, an auto driver can come up on a motorcyclist too fast, again causing the rider to be forced off the road, and potentially into fixed object. Auto drivers will often change lanes without being cognizant of the motorcycle rider in the neighboring lane, or will back out of a driveway or parking lot, never seeing the motorcycle. Even when the motorcyclist is not hit by the car, they are required to take evasive action to avoid a collision, which often leads to what appears to be a single bike accident. The car drives away, leaving the motorcyclist injured and with a damaged bike—and no one to assign blame to.
Why the Motorcyclist Needs a Personal Injury Attorney
When the motorcyclist ends up before a jury pleading his or her case, they may be swayed by their mental image of the biker flying down the highway at an unsafe speed, weaving in and out between cars and generally taking unsafe chances. It is very important that you have an experienced motorcycle personal injury attorney by your side as you attempt to get the compensation for your accident that you need and deserve. Your attorney will work hard to differentiate you from the stereotype and will present evidence which proves you were safe on your motorcycle. He or she may present evidence regarding your education, your family, your employment and your community responsibilities in order to show you are far from a daredevil. You need compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and damage to your motorcycle, and a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can ensure you receive a fair amount.
Friday, January 27th, 2012
Although there are some similarities between an accident which involves only passenger vehicles and one which involves a commercial truck, there are also many things which are different, as well as things you must do immediately following your trucking accident. In some states, the laws regarding commercial truck accidents, not to mention the compensation you are entitled to receive for your injuries are completely different from those which involve only passenger vehicles. There will be variations depending on whether the truck is individually owned, or part of a company’s truck fleet, which state your accident took place in, what state the trucking company resides in and a variety of other issues as well.
What You Must Do Following Your Accident
Just as you must do following an accident which only involves passenger vehicles, getting medical attention and dialing 911 are the two most important tasks you have to take care of. Since truck vs. car accidents usually result in very serious injuries, you may not be in any shape to do anything at all and will have to depend on witnesses to the accident or the truck driver to call for help. Even if you don’t believe you are hurt, it’s still a good idea to have a medical professional check you out. Many times the body is so full of adrenaline following an auto accident that you really are unaware of pain.
Then hours, days or even weeks later you realize that you are having chronic pain or other symptoms which are a direct result of the accident. Don’t take chances—let a doctor look you over. Once everyone has been checked for injuries, it is time to call the police. You will need a police report down the line even if the wreck does not appear to be particularly severe. If you are able, get contact information for the truck driver and his or her passengers, as well as any witnesses who may have seen the accident. This information may seem unnecessary at this particular moment, but you will be very glad you have it later on.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After your injuries have been seen to and the police have been notified, it’s time to call your insurance company. If you have significant injuries, perhaps you can contact a family member or spouse who can make this call. In many states you have one year from the time of the accident to contact the insurance company and file all required forms regarding compensation. In California, as an example, you must file this application for benefits in order to receive reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, help at home and mileage to and from your doctor’s office. These applications must be filled out correctly and completely, and must be in within the one year deadline or you could face loss of coverage.
You have three years to file a claim for negligence against the company the trucker drives for, and again, this is not a deadline you can afford to miss. Commercial trucking companies, while required under the law to keep records of safety inspections and logbooks of driver’s hours, are only required to keep such records for a certain length of time, and after that time the records can be destroyed. This means that critical evidence in your case may be lost or destroyed if you don’t hire an attorney immediately who knows how to obtain this information. Many trucks are now equipped with a “black box” which will show how the truck was being driven at the time of the accident as well as a complete history of the truck driver’s driving habits. This could be of critical importance as the black box can tell the speed the truck driver was traveling, whether or not the brakes were applied, idle hours, fluid temperatures and maximum rpm meaning it could give you a good idea of what caused the accident. The problem with this black box is that unless subpoenaed by your attorney the black box information will not be available to you and could even end up being destroyed before you can use the information to your benefit.
Why You Need an Attorney
Many people who have been involved in a trucking accident were surprised to see the trucking company’s insurance adjuster at the scene of the accident however this is not especially uncommon. Trucking accidents can cost the company a considerable amount of money therefore their immediate goal is to lessen their liability in the accident. The very best thing you can do is to hire a highly experienced personal injury attorney with solid background in trucking accidents. Once you’ve found a great trucking attorney you can focus on healing and getting your life back while your attorney handles the legal side, fighting hard for your rights and the compensation you deserve.
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
One of the most common complaints consumers have regarding their insurance provider is that even though they have faithfully paid in for months or years, when the chips are down the insurance company gives them the runaround for months on end then denies their claim. Such behavior on the part of an insurance company can definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth, especially if you’ve watched the commercials on television in which the insurance agent is your friend and wants to help you following your accident. Insurance companies are businesses and as such they have a constant eye on their bottom line. Their goal, of course, is to bring in significantly more money in insurance premiums than they have to pay out for accident claims.
Why Claim Denial is So Effective
As such, the standard policy is to deny claims until they can deny them no more. This method actually works in a fair percentage of accidents. People get tired of spending the amount of time necessary on the phone with the insurance company trying to get what is rightfully theirs. Eventually, they simply give up, pay their own medical bills and never feel the same way again about their insurance provider. Over one quarter of consumer complaints relate directly to the delays they receive as a policyholder when waiting to hear about their claim. A denial of the claim is the next most frequent consumer complaint, while the third stems from unsatisfactory claim amounts offered by the insurance company. There are certain things you can do which will give you a greater chance of settling your claim in a timely manner and receiving an offer that’s not downright insulting.
Record-Keeping is Key
First and foremost, the records you keep following your accident are the single most important thing you can commit to in order to get your claim paid quickly and fairly. If you are able, once you have received medical attention, jot down anything you think might be important later on—and even things you think won’t. Make a note of the weather at the time of your accident, draw a simple diagram of the accident, write down your version of how the accident occurred, get witness names, addresses, phone numbers and statements if you can, as well as all the standard information from the other driver.
If you were injured, keep immaculate records of each and every doctor visit, medical procedure, prescription and non-prescription drug you required as well as documenting every single time you had to take off work in order to receive medical treatment. You will be very glad you kept careful records down the road—much as we all think we will remember certain things, the truth is as time passes we tend to forget the details which can make the difference between an equitable settlement and no settlement at all.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
While you may eventually end up in court as a result of your auto accident, this should actually be your last resort since claims can linger in court for many years, keeping you from receiving the benefits you desperately need. Hiring a personal injury attorney soon after your accident is a smart idea. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney with a solid background in auto accidents will know exactly how to deal with your insurance company—and let’s face it—insurance companies tend to take lawyers much more seriously than the average person. Additionally, it is your attorney’s job to be persistent. You should be able to focus on getting better, healing your injuries and putting your life back together without also worrying about how you will pay your medical expenses or pay your bills after you’ve been off work a considerable amount of time. A skilled personal injury attorney can not only seek reimbursement for your medical expenses and lost wages but can also work to get money for your pain and suffering which is an important aspect of your accident. After all, your life could be changed forever due to the negligence of another driver. Don’t let your insurance company further compound your injury—let your lawyer advocate for your rights.
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
In 2010 there were over 3600 motorcycle accident fatalities, and in 2007 and 2008 that number was over 5000. Over the past decade, the incidence of motorcycle deaths has more than doubled, and the age of motorcycle owners over forty has taken a significant leap, from 15% to nearly 45%. Some statistics show that at least half of all motorcycle fatalities occur when the driver has problems negotiating a curve prior to the crash, while another significant percent are the result of intersection accidents in which auto drivers did not see the motorcyclist.
Many of these intersection accidents occur as a car makes a left hand turn in the intersection and either does not see the oncoming motorcycle, or believes they have time to make the turn, underestimating the speed of the cyclist. Other accidents happen when an automobile driver changes lanes without properly looking, sideswiping the motorcyclist, many times on a busy freeway which compounds the accident. If you were fortunate enough to survive your motorcycle accident you may now be dealing with a barrage of issues stemming from your injuries such as how you will pay for the necessary medical treatments you require.
The Medical Cost of a Motorcycle Accident
In any type of auto or motorcycle accident, medical expenses can mount alarmingly, with the average hospitalization and treatment for injuries starting at $30,000 and rising dramatically depending on the level of continuing care which is required. Should the accident have been very serious, ongoing physical therapy can not only continue for the patient’s life, it can easily run into millions of dollars. Even with health insurance, the victim of a motorcycle accident may quickly reach his or her limit, making them responsible for 100% of the astronomical medical expenses associated with physical therapy. The person who was so severely injured may have very mixed feelings following the accident—they are certainly happy to have survived, yet wondering how they will cope with the injuries and expenses resulting from the accident.
Returning to Your Life
The goal, of course, following any accident is to be able to return to the life you led before the accident or to live a life that is as normal as possible. Not all of those accident victims who have been involved in a serious accident are able to return to their former life. Brain injuries can leave the victim unable to process thoughts like they once did, possibly forever. Limb amputations can leave the victim with at least some level of disability, while spinal and neck injuries can leave the victim paralyzed or requiring months, years or a lifetime of physical therapy.
Physical therapists can train victims of amputated limbs to learn to live without the use of the limb as well as how to get the best use from prosthetic limbs. Sufferers of spinal injuries can receive massage therapy which keeps the muscles strong and prevents atrophy. A physical therapist can retrain a victim of head trauma to carry out the everyday functions necessary to life such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals and even brushing one’s teeth.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is particularly crucial following a serious motorcycle accident. Following any major trauma, the recovery process must begin the minute the victim is released from the hospital if a transition to normality is to occur. Having a qualified personal injury attorney in your corner will ensure you receive the physical therapy you need, without your having to worry about how you will pay for the therapy. Your attorney will offer you compassion, while fighting aggressively to make the negligent party pay for your injuries. No stone will be left unturned when you place your trust with a highly skilled personal injury attorney.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Despite the numerous federal statutes in place which govern commercial truck drivers, the fact is that at any given time there are hundreds of drivers on the road who are exhausted and have driven without the required number of hours of rest. Commercial long-haul truckers work long hours, and average around 2500 miles per week when first starting out, with more experienced drivers racking up even more miles. The driver faces demands from the customer who wants their product on time, demands from the trucking company which makes more money the longer the driver is on the road, and even from their own family since the trucker gets paid by the mile.
Federal Regulations Which Govern Trucking Hours of Service
Trucking companies have been known to turn a blind eye to the number of hours their drivers are putting in behind the wheel because their focus is on their financial bottom line. In the attempt to meet the deadlines and demands, drivers frequently drive without the rest they so desperately need. Currently Federal regulations allow commercial drivers to drive 11 hours within a fourteen hour period after taking ten hours off for rest. They are not allowed to drive more than 60 hours within a week or 70 hours within eight days. While most long-haul truckers sleep in sleeper berths, they can be a difficult place to get a truly restful sleep. There is a movement in the works to lower the eleven hours to ten with a goal of creating an environment where truck drivers are rested, alert, and focused on the safety of those around them.
Falsified Logbooks Not So Uncommon
Falsified logbooks are so common as to be almost a non-issue with trucking companies. In many cases drivers routinely keep two sets of logbooks, allowing them to drive longer periods than allowed under Federal guidelines. The number of logbook violations which are actually discovered each year numbers nearly a quarter of a million, while those which go undetected account for an untold number. Employers are only required to preserve and keep comprehensive time records for six months. These records must show when the driving time started, finished, and the total hours driving each day. If a driver does not get caught violating the allotted hours during that six months, then the records can be destroyed and no one is the wiser.
The Deadly Results of Exhausted Truckers
Most people underestimate the physical and mental intensity it requires to drive a truck which can weigh 30,000 pounds without a load and all the way up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Many of the loads contain hazardous materials, making an accident all the more serious. More than 4000 people are killed each year in accidents involving commercial trucks, and over seventy percent of those are the occupants or drivers of the passenger vehicles. The National Transportation Safety board estimates that as many as forty percent of all trucking accidents are a result of driver fatigue. When you are out on the road driving and find yourself becoming very sleepy, you can simply pull over and get a catnap. The truck driver, however, is under a strict deadline, and must make that fifty, one hundred or even more miles before he or she can rest. Even one second of distraction or nodding off can result in an accident which has tragic consequences.
Why You Need an Attorney Following Your Truck Accident
If you have been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck it is vitally important that you receive knowledgeable legal assistance. Trucking accidents are different and more complex than traditional passenger vehicle accidents, and come with specific statute of limitations as well. There can be multiple defendants in a trucking accident—the trucking company, the driver, and possibly the manufacturer of the truck or a truck component as well. A highly experienced truck accident attorney can fight aggressively for your rights while you heal from your accident and attempt to regain your life.
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Each year in America there are literally millions of auto accidents resulting in some forty-five thousand deaths and nearly three million injuries which range from relatively minor to very severe. In the case of serious accidents, the injuries can range from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures and amputations of limbs. The loss of a limb is devastating for anyone; even in the “best case” scenario an amputation from an auto accident leads to a permanent disability, while on the other end of the spectrum, amputation can lead to severe medical complications and can even be fatal. While the number one cause of traumatic amputations are farm or factory accidents, automobile accidents run a close second and across the United States over 30,000 people undergo traumatic amputations each year, while nearly two million people are living with the aftermath of an amputation.
Different Types of Amputations
There are essentially two types of amputations, one being the accidental severing of a limb during an accident which is known as a traumatic amputation. In the case of a traumatic amputation there can also be extensive nerve damage, complications which result from extreme blood loss, and significant levels of scarring or deformed tissue. The other type of amputation is a surgical amputation meaning the limb or body part was removed by a surgeon, prompted by a severe injury or serious disease. An amputation can be partial or complete, and is divided into upper limb and lower limb categories.
If a part of the limb which was damaged in the accident remains, then the amputation is partial and the victim may have a better chance of adapting to the use of prosthetics than the person with a complete amputation. In certain instances a limb can be reattached, although the length of time before the victim receives treatment as well as the overall condition of the person play a large role in whether or not this will be possible. No matter which type of amputation a person undergoes, the results are essentially the same—a negative impact on the person’s physical and mental well-being.
Chronic Pain as a Result of an Amputation
Both types of amputations can result in phantom limb pain—a phenomenon in which the victim experiences excruciating levels of pain which appears to emanate from where the amputated limb once was. This type of pain can be nearly impossible to treat—even children who are born without a limb can experience this type of phantom pain leading scientists to believe that our limbs are hard-wired into our brains. This phantom pain experienced by those who have lost a limb is often described as constantly burning or aching, and no amount of pain killers can dull the effect. In the majority of cases, phantom limb pain, once developed, is persistent and rarely improved by any sort of medical treatment.
Getting the Help You Need
Every auto accident deserves an experienced attorney who can help the victim recover the expenses which were a direct result of another person’s negligence. A person who has suffered an amputation as a result of an auto accident may need legal help even more. This person likely has staggering medical bills which can only be expected to continue to mount as time goes on. Many times amputees must undergo multiple surgeries and may be subject to infections. They will often need months or even years of physical therapy in order to be able to continue with their lives. There will likely be lost wages, both present and future to be recovered, vehicle damages and compensation for the physical pain and emotional trauma which resulted from the accident. Finally, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of quality of life. A knowledgeable attorney can be the advocate in your corner, aggressively fighting for your rights while you allow yourself time to heal. It’s important to retain a personal injury attorney as soon after the accident as possible.
Friday, January 20th, 2012
Most all American consumers have felt the bite of higher gas prices, and these inflated prices have been responsible for many more drivers using motorcycles as their primary mode of transportation, especially in commutes to their place of work. Consequently, the number of motorcycle accidents, many of which resulted in fatalities, has also risen. Motorcycle accidents are largely caused by the drivers of other vehicles, although there are instances where the motorcyclist is as fault as well. Because a motorcycle is much cheaper to operate than an automobile, their use will probably continue to rise, however motorcyclists need to use much greater caution on a motorcycle than behind the wheel of a car in order to avoid a collision.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
Many motorcycle accidents are the result of the inability of motorists to see the motorcycle rider. Drivers become so accustomed to watching out primarily for other vehicles, that a motorcycle can be headed directly toward them and the driver may nevertheless make a left hand turn across the intersection, causing the motorcyclist to hit the car broadside. Other times a driver will change lanes without properly looking to see that there is a motorcyclist in the lane next to them, causing a serious or fatal accident.
Drivers backing out of their driveways or a parking space must take extra caution not to back into a motorcyclist. In some cases drivers open the door of their parked car into traffic, causing the motorcyclist to either hit the door or swerve violently to miss is, skidding across the road. Other instances of driver error can include a driver who is distracted by a cell phone, by fiddling with a radio or GPS, from eating in the car or from attempting to look at the children in the back seat. Drivers may also be driving while fatigued or while intoxicated, both of which can be deadly to other drivers who share the roadways. When a driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the motorcyclist’s accident and subsequent injuries, the careless driver must be held accountable to pay compensation to the victim.
Many of the motorcycle fatalities were among motorcyclists who did not have a motorcycle endorsement on their license, meaning they were likely not properly trained or experienced in riding a motorcycle. As of 2006, a full one quarter of motorcyclists who were involved in an accident had little to no training in riding a motorcycle and no motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. These drivers may not be aware of the rules of the road which are specific to motorcycles. The motorcyclist who has had formal training and possesses a valid motorcycle endorsement will stand a much better chance of being awarded a reasonable settlement should the case go before a jury. Before driving off on a motorcycle it’s very important that riders take a motorcycle safety course, and receive sufficient training.
What Compensation is the Motorcyclist Entitled To?
When financial losses are suffered due to a motorcycle accident it is important that the motorcyclist hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after the accident as possible. The attorney you choose should have a wide background in motorcycle accidents, since there are specific complexities involved. Your attorney will work to ensure you are properly compensated for your medical expenses, both present and future, the repairs to your motorcycle, a reasonable amount for lost wages if you were unable to work, as well as possible compensation for physical pain and emotional trauma which resulted from the accident. It is hoped that as more motorcyclists take to the roadways they will seek better training and that drivers will be more attentive to the smaller vehicles they share the road with.
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Trucking accidents rarely have a positive ending due to the sheer size and weight of a loaded 18-wheeler vs. the passenger car which may weigh only 2500 pounds. Of the over three and a half million truck drivers in the United States it is estimated that approximately one in ten are independent owner-operators while the vast majority work for one of the half a million trucking companies across America. Truck drivers generally make around 30 cents per mile, which averages out to only about $33,000 per year, and they only get paid for the time they are on the road—a significant factor in truck drivers who drive while sleepy or exhausted.
Of the more than half a million trucking accidents which take place each year there will be approximately 5,000 fatalities and untold serious injuries, most of which can completely alter the course of a person’s life. While there are a variety of issues which contribute to these serious trucking accidents such as driver negligence, inexperience and overloaded cargo, one factor centers around manufacturing defects in the truck or its components. These defects are responsible for a fair number of the trucking accidents which take place in our nation every year.
Potentially Defective Truck Parts
There are many parts on a large commercial truck which can fail through a defect or weakness, and these defective parts may be the root cause of the trucking accident or may have exacerbated the crash effects. The primary parts of a truck which are noted for having defects or failing include the brakes, tires, transmission and steering. Add to this mix other external issues such as defective truck pallet jacks, dock ramps or forklifts, and you truly have a recipe for disaster when all components are not routinely and thoroughly inspected.
Brake Inspections and Defective Brakes
When truck brakes fail, it could be the responsibility of the truck driver, the establishment who was responsible for loading the truck, the mechanic who was accountable for brake maintenance, or the company which manufactured the brakes. In some instances owner-operators of large commercial trucks deliberately depower the front brakes, relying on the brakes of the trailer or downshifting to slow and stop the truck. This can be done to minimize the expense of brake replacements due to constant wear and tear.
A large commercial truck must have the ability to come to a complete stop from a speed of 20 mph at a proportion which is relative to the size of the truck, must meet system requirements related to the automatic braking adjustments on the truck and must exhibit a particular braking force based on the weight of the truck. If the truck’s brakes do not meet the federally mandated standards, then a person who is injured in a truck accident which can be directly tied to defective brakes may have a claim against the manufacturer.
There are some instances of defective brakes which have already fallen under federal governmental recall, meaning it was evident that the brakes were defective. Even though federal regulations also mandate that these companies keep meticulous records of brake maintenance on their fleet, these guidelines are not always adhered to. Finally, a truck’s cargo which has been improperly loaded causing cargo distribution problems can cause the brakes to overheat and ultimately malfunction.
If you’ve ever noticed a truck driver stopped by the side of the road, hitting each tire with a sort of club and wondered what they were doing, they are likely checking the tires to determine whether they are maintaining the proper pressure. When a truck tire blows out, you will see the evidence in the heavy strips of tire which litter the road. Blowouts can be caused by a defect in the tire, lack of proper tire maintenance, a trucking company who mounts mismatched tires with substantially dissimilar wear or when radial tires are mixed with bias tires on the same axle. A tire with any of these problems can fail and result in loss of control of the truck, leading to a catastrophic accident involving those who share the road.
If a truck manufacturing defect played a part in your truck accident you could have a product liability claim against the company who manufactures the truck component as well as simultaneous claims which may be filed against the driver, the trucking company and any other parties who were party to the accident. It is very important to seek the services of a highly experienced personal injury attorney who has a solid background in trucking accidents. Your life has been forever changed by your accident, and you need professional help in the form of an advocate who will fight aggressively for your rights.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
In the nearly half a million trucking accidents which occur every year in the United States, there are over five thousand fatalities and over a hundred thousand severe injuries which result from these crashes. While these accidents have many causes, including defective truck components, poorly secured cargo or poorly maintained equipment, perhaps the most pervasive cause of trucking collisions centers around driver error.
When Driver Error is a Result of Inexperience
One factor in driver error is driver inexperience, while others include driver exhaustion or driver distraction. Drivers of 18-wheelers are required to participate in an all-encompassing training program which teaches trucking regulations, the configuration of the commercial truck and instructions on handling and maneuvering an 80,000 pound vehicle while sharing the road with much smaller vehicles. The drivers are schooled in how specific cargo or weight of the cargo can increase the chances of an accident. They are given instruction on how to operate the truck during hazardous weather conditions, at night and in heavy traffic. Drivers who will be hauling hazardous chemicals or toxic waste must engage in further training and testing before getting behind the wheel.
Despite these apparently stringent requirements, many truck drivers take to the road before they have a solid grasp of their role on the roadway. Truck drivers who lack the training or the experience to cope with dangerous or stressful driving conditions may end up being a hazard to themselves or other drivers. Following a truck accident an investigator may look for signs that point to lack of experience as a cause of the accident. These may come in the form of a driver who blatantly disregarded traffic rules, who was guilty of excessive speed, or maneuvering the commercial truck in a manner which was unsafe to those around him. Slick roads obviously add to the hazards as they can hamper the performance of the truck’s stopping ability, and reckless behavior or aggression on the part of the driver can also greatly increase the chances of an accident occurring.
Instances of Driver Error Which Lead to Deadly Accidents
Due to the sheer size of the truck, if the truck driver is responsible for cutting off another driver or swerving into another lane, tragedy can result. Especially young truck drivers have a disproportionately high incidence of trucking accidents, likely due to their inexperience or lack of training. Even though employers are charged with performing thorough background checks on new hires, there is a fair amount of corner-cutting which takes place in the industry. Drivers who are not as experienced as they should be may drive while drowsy, or may be much more subject to distractions than more seasoned drivers.
Distractions take many forms, such as cell phone use, changing radio stations, looking at something by the side of the road instead of the drivers around you, or simply daydreaming when attention should be focused on the road. Inexperienced drivers may drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or may be unaware of how an over-the-counter drug they are taking impairs their ability to drive. The inexperienced driver may continue to drive even though they are ill, or engage in aggressive driving behaviors. Lack of familiarity with the road is also a result of inexperienced drivers, and can lead to serious collisions.
Getting the Help You Deserve
If you were injured in a trucking accident that you believe was caused by an inexperienced truck driver, it’s important that you get legal help as soon after the accident as possible. Trucking accident claims are much more complex than a typical car accident due to the fact that there are a variety of potential defendants. The driver may be at fault, the trucking company who hired the inexperienced driver may be at fault, or it could be due to a manufacturing defect. Whatever the cause, you deserve an advocate in your corner who will fight aggressively for your rights, ensuring you are compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and the damages to your vehicle. Don’t wait until it’s too late—evidence can be lost or destroyed and you will need a strong advocate in your corner to help you get what you deserve.
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
Thankfully, fatal bus accidents are relatively rare in the United States, however over 21,000 people experience moderate to serious injuries each year as the result of a bus collision. School bus accidents account for only 15 fatalities each year in the United States, and while these deaths are tragic, in light of the number of miles traveled each year by school buses this statistic means it is pretty safe to put your child on a school bus. In fact, considering that over 365 million people ride on various types of buses for a combined distance of over 32 billion miles, you can feel relatively safe getting onto a bus. If you have been one of the unfortunate people who have been involved in a bus accident, you will need to seek out experienced legal representation.
Factors in Bus Collisions
Driver fatigue on the part of the bus driver accounts for over a third of all bus crashes while a medical condition suffered by the bus driver accounts for another 18%. In fact, over sixty percent of bus collisions are directly related to the driver, with a much smaller percentage attributed to the condition of the vehicle or weather conditions. Many accidents are a combination of driver error, negligence or inattention combined with a poorly maintained component of the bus such as the brakes or tires. Fifteen-passenger vans are the most likely type of bus to be involved in a rollover accident due to their high center of gravity, and another factor in subsequent injuries lies in the fact that most all buses lack safety restraints.
Bus Driver Error
Driver fatigue among bus drivers is by far the most common reason for bus accidents, and has been responsible for several fatal accidents in the past. The hours of service regulations for bus drivers are largely ignored, especially by bus companies which are non-union. As a general rule police officers do not perform the same level of random checks on passenger buses in the same way they do commercial trucks. This is largely due to passenger annoyance when a bus is taken out of commission and there is no handy replacement bus.
Since it is somewhat unregulated, bus drivers may often get behind the wheel when they are tired, drowsy or under the influence of medications which can cause sleepiness. Bus drivers who routinely drive in city situations may also engage in aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way or simple inattention. There have been several reports recently of city bus drivers who were caught on camera texting while driving the bus. Some feel that increasing the pay of bus drivers while placing more regulations on the number of hours they are allowed to drive would go a long way in reducing bus accidents.
Although they are not as common as automobile accidents, when a public or municipal bus is involved in an accident the consequences can be devastating. If you are the victim of a bus accident it is very important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney who has a background in bus accidents. You need an attorney who will advocate for your rights and ensure you are fully compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages and physical pain or emotional trauma suffered. A knowledgeable attorney will prepare your case as if it is going to trial while negotiating to get you an equitable settlement which will fully cover your expenses. Remember to make sure the attorney you choose has experience with the federal regulations which govern commercial trucks and buses, then concentrate on healing while your attorney gets you the maximum settlement possible.