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Personal Injury Law Blog

How do “hours of service” affect truck accidents?

In a previous blog post, we discussed the serious consequences that sometimes result when truck drivers are excessively fatigued. In that post, we noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a driver who has been awake for 24 hours straight is equally impaired as someone who is legally drunk.

In July 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented new regulations regarding the total hours of service in which commercial drivers are allowed to operate. These so-called "HOS Regulations" are meant to reduce truck accidents by preventing overly fatigued drivers from continuing to operate across America's roadways.

Pennsylvania boating law aimed at reducing fatal accidents

Pennsylvania safety officials hope that a new law will help curb boating and water-related accident fatalities. The new law, which went into effect Nov. 1, now requires all boaters and waterfowl hunters throughout the Commonwealth to wear life jackets while on the water between Nov. 1 through April 30. This regulation also extends to water vessels less than 16 feet in length such as canoes and kayaks.

According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, research drawn from boating accident reports show that nearly 80 percent of all boating accident fatalities happened to individuals not wearing life jackets.

No limited tort liability on Pennsylvania drunk driving lawsuits

In a previous entry on our website, we explained that Pennsylvania motorists should always elect to choose full tort car insurance vs. the limited tort option. That is because full tort coverage will allow you to recover for bodily injuries even if you are not seriously injured. The other reason is that full tort coverage only costs approximately 15 percent more, or $150 extra per year, than limited tort insurance. This may not seem like a wise decision at the time you are writing the check to the insurance company, but if you have an accident later, you will understand the prudence of taking that extra precaution.

However, Pennsylvania's relatively recent tort reform laws have several exceptions to the rules that normally limit the recovery of injured plaintiffs. Accidents caused by drunk drivers are not covered under the limited tort provisions. This means that even motorists with limited tort insurance coverage are entitled to seek compensation for their injuries if they were caused by a drunk or drugged driver.

Just how big a problem is alcohol in Pennsylvania car accidents?

It is impossible to watch TV, listen to a radio or even drive along our Pennsylvania highways without being bombarded with advertising warning against drunk driving. However, each year a fair number of Pennsylvania residents are killed in alcohol-related accidents despite the use of expensive advertising campaigns and random DUI checkpoints.

According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, alcohol was a factor in 11,956 accidents during 2012. At least 404 people were killed that same year as a result of drunk driving.

A look at 2013 Pennsylvania motorcycle accident statistics

Most Pennsylvania residents are aware that motorcyclists are not currently required to wear helmets throughout the Commonwealth. Certainly, the lack of helmet regulations have led to an increase in traumatic brain injuries during motorcycle collisions. However, the relatively smaller size of motorcycles compared to cars, SUVs and trucks ensures that many motorcyclists will nevertheless receive extensive injuries, regardless of helmet usage.

A review of 2013 motorcycle crash statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation supports that theory. According to the report, there were 3,427 total crashes involving motorcycles throughout the state in 2013. Here is a breakdown of the other motorcycle crash stats:

Dangerous property issues raised by fatal stabbing

On Oct. 9, a bar fight in Delaware County, Pennsylvania left one man in critical condition and another man fleeing from arrest at a local bar. The incident occurred inside the La Cantina Bar in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, which is located in the 6800 block of Market Street.

According to police, the victim's throat was slashed by a knife wielded by another patron who was also visiting the bar at the same time. The victim was hospitalized in extremely critical condition following the stabbing, yet died four days later on Oct. 13 from injuries suffered in the attack.

Statistics involving Pennsylvania commercial vehicle accidents

When many of us think about vehicle accidents, we instantly conjure images of the smoking and crumpled remains of cars or SUVs on the highway as we travel to and from our destinations. Most of us forget that we also share the roads with fleets of commercial vehicles that also become involved in similar accidents.

Commercial vehicles are vehicles hired to move people and things along our roadways. A few examples of these are taxis, chartered motorcoaches, cargo and utility vans and even airport shuttles. The point is that commercial vehicles can be found among nearly every class of vehicle using Pennsylvania roadways.

Pennsylvania’s noneconomic loss law and pedestrian accidents

If you or someone you know has been injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian, then there are a few things you should know about Pennsylvania's laws regarding pedestrian accidents. Most of us are already aware that pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks and intersections where there are no lights or signals. However, there are also many other situations in which pedestrians also enjoy right-of-way privileges. Some of these include sidewalks that cross driveways and alleyways.

Many accidents that involve automobiles and pedestrians quickly devolve into a dispute over which party has the right-of-way at the time of the accident. Establishing this liability is usually the most hotly contested component of many auto vs. pedestrian accidents. Perhaps the reason for this is that Pennsylvania law allows for injured pedestrians to recover non-economic losses for their injuries in such accidents.

Who may benefit from a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit?

To first understand who can benefit from filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to know what actually constitutes a wrongful death. The legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania considers a wrongful death as the premature death of an individual caused by the wrongful or neglectful act of another. Perhaps a good example of this would be a drunk driver causing an accident which results in the death of another motorist. Another example could be a charter fishing boat captain who failed to properly maintain lifesaving equipment which later resulted in the drowning of a boat passenger.

As a general rule, the right to bring an action for a wrongful death in Pennsylvania is extended only for the benefit of the decedent's spouse, children or their parents. This right of action is preserved by any of the above-mentioned surviving family members regardless of whether they reside in Pennsylvania.

Absence of fire detectors create dangerous property situation

A recent fire that claimed the lives of four children in Roseland, Illinois, earlier this month is a reminder that landlords play a significant role in reducing the dangerousness of the properties they rent. Speculation is now growing that the four dead children, ranging in age between 7 and 15 years old, may have perished in the second-floor apartment where they lived due to a lack of working smoke detectors in the dwelling. Sadly, the apartment did have smoke detectors in the apartment's hallway.

Although it has not yet been established whether the lack of fire alarms played a significant role in the Chicago, Illinois, area fire, similar questions remain about other deadly fires.

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