In a recent piece in The Legal Intelligencer, Ryan Hurd and Jim Ronca of Anapol Weiss contend that despite technology and time constraints, there is no substitute for a physical visit to the scene of an accident in assuring due diligence on behalf of car accident victims and other plaintiffs. Citing examples ranging from a fatal car accident to a slip and fall at work, the top PA personal injury attorneys describe instances in which crucial evidence and testimony was discovered even after an official car accident report and defense investigation. They further demonstrate the inherent value of firsthand knowledge of the accident scene for evaluating whether or not to accept a case or preparing an attorney to place testimony and evidence in context.
Driver fatigue is a major contributing factor to auto collisions involving trucks. Nearly 4,000 people die each year in truck accidents. Many of these are attributed to driver fatigue. Trucks, especially tractor trailers, are already more dangerous on the road because they are so much heavier than smaller vehicles and they have more blind spots. However, truck drivers also spend long hours on the road without much rest time, making trucks all the more dangerous.
Regulations about the number of hours that drivers can spend working at a time are mandated by the government, generally by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They maintain “hours of service” rules for truck drivers, regulating the number and length of rest breaks during shifts, and the number of hours that drivers can work before taking a longer rest period.
The US House and Senate are currently considering transportation bills that would change the hours-of-service restart rules for truckers. The Senate is considering a bill that would allow truckers to work more than 80 hours a week, up to 73 hours driving and 8.5 hours on other work like loading and unloading. The House is similarly considering measures that would revert back to the regulations of the Bush administration, voiding the new Obama regulations introduced in 2013.
Although nearly all safety advocates disagree with the proposal, the spending bill is likely to pass. This is because funding to stop the Zika virus is attached to the bill, making it hard for the White House to veto. This risks allowing more truck drivers on the road when they are too tired to drive safely, endangering the other cars on the roads around them.
Driver fatigue puts the driver and everyone nearby into danger. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto collision involving a truck, contact a truck accident attorney at Anapol Weiss for help.
Topics: Truck Accidents
Large truck and tractor-trailer crashes are often among the most serious of collisions. In the wake of a truck collision, victims may be overwhelmed by their injuries, medical bills, lost time from work, and at the very least damage to their vehicle.
However, it is important to gather information soon after a truck accident; at some point in the future, this information will be important for the hospital and doctors, insurance companies, police, and the victim’s lawyers. The following guidelines will help you to organize your research after a truck accident:1. Information about the driver and company. Gather any information that you can about the trucker driver and his or her company. You never know what information may be useful or important in the future, and the more information you have, the better. In particular, be sure to find out:
- The driver’s name and address,
- The driver’s commercial driver’s license number,
- The truck’s license plate number and other identifying information about the truck such as the company logo and the make and model of the truck,
- The trucking company’s name and the company’s US DOT number (often found on the side of the truck),
- The insurance company for the trucking company, and
- Any other companies associated with the truck or driver.
2. Details about the accident. Your memory may become foggy in the days after the incident, so it is important to record all the details and information that you can. Gather information and document everything! Important questions to answer include:
- What are the details of the accident? When and where did it occur, and what exactly happened?
- Were there witnesses? Who were they, and how can you contact them in the future? Witness names, phone numbers, and addresses are crucial.
- Was a police report completed? If so, what is the incident number and what did the officer report?
- Were you or the truck driver cited with any traffic violations? If so, what was the violation?
- Were any photos or videos taken of the incident and if so, by who?
- Did your vehicle sustain damage? Photograph the damage.
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
- Effects that the accident has had you physically or mentally,
- Any diagnosis you may have received following the accident,
- If you were hospitalized and if so, for how long,
- What doctors and practices you received medical care from,
- What tests were performed and what treatments were prescribed,
- Your income and employment status both before and after the accident,
- Your paystubs, particularly if they show that you have lost wages,
- Your automobile and health insurance information, and
- Your history of accidents or prior injuries, if relevant.
Even if this information does not seem important at first, it may become relevant later on. You may need to turn to accident attorneys, particularly if your car accident injuries require you to see additional financial support. Contact our truck accident attorneys at Anapol Weiss to discuss the incident and any legal questions you may have.
Topics: Truck Accidents
The central nervous system of a modern day motor vehicle is the Electronic Control Module (ECM). ECMs monitor the various sensors in cars and trucks, processing their information to make decisions about fuel management, brake activation, airbag deployment, and more. They also run diagnostics on the systems of the vehicle and alert the driver to problems if necessary.
ECMs store the data that they receive in Event Data Recorders (EDRs). Today, almost all cars are equipped with EDRs; a 2015 bill standardized EDRs and required car manufacturers to install them in all new vehicles. They act as “black boxes” and record data about where the car is and what it is doing at all times. The EDRs do not save all the information that they record; most of them record over old information, only saving data if the vehicle is involved in an auto collision. If an accident occurs, the EDR will save the data from the seconds before, during, and after the incident. Data saved includes information about speed, revolutions per minute (RMP), sudden deceleration, seat belt usage, and air bag deployment.
Data collected by EDRs can serve a variety of purposes; they can tell the story of what happened during an auto accident if witnesses are unable or unwilling to supply the true and complete facts. Both police and insurance companies may request the data to use in the course of their investigations. Records from EDRs can be invaluable tools in the crash reconstruction analysis following an accident. Data on an EDR will generally be accepted as evidence in criminal prosecutions and civil litigation.
The 2015 Driver Privacy Act mandated that information stored on an EDR is the property of the owner of the vehicle. Many states have laws providing that EDR data may only be collected with the consent of the vehicle owner or policyholder (with some exceptions). However, each state’s laws regarding EDR data is different; many states allow court orders to require vehicle owners to turn over the data after auto accidents.If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, data from an EDR may help to tell your story. Contact Anapol Weiss to speak with an experienced car and truck accident lawyer to discuss the accident and get your legal questions answered.
Deaths and catastrophic injuries resulting from truck accidents are unfortunately common. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that more than 3,500 auto collisions involving large trucks and buses resulted in at least one fatality in 2013. About 69,000 crashes involved a nonfatal injury during the same year.
Tractor trailer crashes differ from those involving other types of vehicles for many reasons. For one, the size and weight of a large truck make them very dangerous in the event of a collision with other vehicles. During a crash, debilitating damage can be inflicted on other motorists and their vehicles without much damage occurring to the truck itself.
Learn more about how to safely share the road with trucks
Tractor trailers also have various limitations in terms of maneuvering on the road. Trucks cannot stop as quickly as cars can in emergency situations. Their size and height also create several blind spots called no-zones for the truck driver. Other motorists should be mindful of a truck’s no-zones to help avoid being hit by the truck driver. Although motorists cannot anticipate every careless maneuver a truck driver may take, motorists can help to protect themselves from other drivers’ mistakes.
The trucking industry has an extensive list of laws and regulations called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), which cover:
- Registration, licensing and insurance rules
- Number of hours a truck driver is able to continuously work and operate a truck, and recording requirements
- Carrier and vehicle safety including GPS and bridge strike issues, hazardous materials, etc.
- Safety belt rules, civil penalty proceedings and other laws and regulations
- Driver safety and health regulations including drug and alcohol laws, medical requirements, etc.
- State-specific rules involving commercial driver’s licenses, apportioned tags, etc.
An experienced lawyer will be able to examine these and other key issues involved in a specific tractor trailer or semi truck accident in order to make important conclusions. More specifically, the above factors come into play when determining fault and seeking justice and compensation.
Contact Anapol Weiss for Assistance
Negligent driving in any vehicle is extremely dangerous and can lead to fatal accidents. When a crash involves a tractor trailer, the consequences are often devastating. Contact our truck accident lawyers if a careless driver caused a collision that injured you or a loved one. Our team can investigate the situation and answer your legal questions.
Topics: Truck Accidents
|Attorney Jim Ronca|
Working with reconstruction experts plays a huge role in discovering evidence about the events before and during an auto accident. Anapol Weiss Shareholder Jim Ronca answers a few questions about accident reconstruction and how it benefits clients.
What is accident reconstruction?
After a complex car or truck accident occurs, experts use fundamental scientific principles of investigation to determine factors such as: the speed of the vehicles involved, where and how the impact happened, weather conditions and visibility issues, the consistency of injuries to the crash, and much more.
When is accident reconstruction used?
Certain auto accidents are extremely complex and require a more thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash and who was at fault. Auto collisions involving large vehicles or construction equipment usually mean devastating property damage. Large pileups create a tangle of vehicles, and determining the series of events can be difficult. Accident reconstruction helps us figure out why the accident took place, which driver did what, and whether other factors like roadway defects came into play.
How does accident reconstruction benefit clients?
After a serious trucking accident or a crash involving another type of commercial vehicle, the company involved and its insurers will have investigators on the scene within hours. Our lawyers go to the scene with an investigator and an accident reconstruction expert as soon as we’re contacted to gather any information before it’s moved.
We then take our investigation findings to the courtroom to help prove our client’s case. In many situations, this evidence is what gives the jury the level of clarity they need to make a decision about the outcome of the case.
Contact Anapol Weiss for Assistance
The car and truck accident lawyers at Anapol Weiss have decades of experience using accident reconstruction to prove clients’ cases. Contact our firm if you or a family member was injured in an auto collision. We can help.
Tractor trailers are substantially heavier than smaller vehicles and have many more blind spots. Coupled with long work hours, and trucks can become extremely dangerous on the roadways. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year. Driver fatigue is a leading factor in those crashes.
Do you know where a truck driver's blind spots are?
To help prevent truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) changed the rules in 2011 to limit truck drivers’ legal “hours of service” per day. The FMCSA updated the requirements as follows:
- Drivers must take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift.
- Drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving must use a “restart period” for 34 consecutive hours once every seven days. The restart period must include at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. to give drivers the opportunity for a substantial rest before working another long week.
The new requirements took full effect in 2013 and reduced truck drivers’ average maximum work week from 82 hours to 70 hours. The FMCSA made these changes in response to truck inspections as well as new research demonstrating that chronic fatigue can result from long work hours without sufficient recovery time. The research found that fatigue leads to slower reaction times and a diminished ability to quickly assess situations. Further, people are often unable to assess their own fatigue levels and are unaware when their performance has degraded. For tractor trailer drivers moving at highway speeds, the result could be deadly.
Any careless driving on the road puts a motorist and everyone nearby in danger. Contact our firm for assistance if you or a loved one was hurt in an auto accident involving a tractor trailer. Our team has decades of experience investigating complex truck accident cases, and we can answer your legal questions.
Topics: Truck Accidents
Distracted driving is a nationwide epidemic that has been estimated to contribute to nine deaths and 1,153 injuries every day. It's particularly important for truck drivers to avoid driving distracted, as their vehicles have the potential to cause exceptionally devastating crashes. A tractor trailer's massive size, combined with its numerous blind spots and inability to stop quickly, make it a highly dangerous vehicle on the roadway.
Distracted driving is not just limited to cell phone use. In fact, distracted driving is categorized as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the task of driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This includes eating, using a GPS, reaching for a drink, and more.
There are three main types of distraction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): visual, which involves taking your eyes off the road; manual, or taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive, which involves taking your mind off of driving. While any distraction can endanger drivers and everyone around them, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
To help promote safety and prevent truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits texting by commercial vehicle drivers while operating their vehicles. Drivers who violate these rules face civil penalties and possible disqualification from operating commercial vehicles. Further, trucking companies are prohibited from requiring and/or allowing their drivers to use hand-held devices while driving.
Drivers and passengers in every vehicle have the responsibility of eliminating distractions. When they fail to do so, innocent lives are threatened. Be part of the solution by adopting a safe driving agreement in your household and/or workplace to commit to driving safely.
The sheer size and weight of many commercial vehicles cause them to be extremely dangerous when crashes occur. Sadly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that in 2013, 3,541 crashes involving large trucks and buses resulted in fatality and 69,000 crashes involved nonfatal injury.
Three common incidents in tractor trailer crashes include jackknifing, rollovers, and underride collisions. All three are complex events that are often caused as a result of driver error, unusual road problems, weather and other environmental issues, and other factors.
Jackknifing is often sudden and unpredictable to nearby motorists. When a tractor begins to skid as a result of sudden braking, the trailer will push the tractor around until the two fold together and collide. The driver in a jackknifed truck will have extreme difficulty moving the tractor, as it is then facing the opposite direction of the trailer. Other vehicles may not have enough time to stop or avoid the truck, which can quickly lead to a multi-vehicle accident.
When a truck travels along a curved path, it leans away from the direction of the curve and can turn over. Tractor trailers are particularly vulnerable to rollovers because of the trailer’s high center of gravity and frequently unstable loads. Data collected from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated that nine percent of all large truck crashes involve rollovers.
Underride crashes involve a passenger vehicle that collides with a tractor trailer and ends up positioned at least partially underneath the truck at some point during the crash. The distance between the road and the underside of a trailer is often greater than the height of a passenger vehicle hood, which allows these smaller vehicles to move underneath the trailer.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers
Tractor trailer accidents often result in fatalities and catastrophic injuries. When motorists act carelessly on the road, they put themselves and everyone nearby in danger. Contact our firm for assistance if you or a loved one was hurt in an accident involving a tractor trailer. Our team has decades of experience investigating complex truck accident cases, and we can help.
Topics: Truck Accidents
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 250,000 accidents involving cars and trucks each year. Research also shows that most deaths in these large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants.
When sharing the road with tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles, it is important to realize they have various limitations. Trucks can't maneuver as quickly as cars in emergency situations. They also have several blind spots because of their size and height. These danger areas are called no-zones because crashes are more likely to occur in those spots.
This illustration shows the no-zones around trucks, buses, and other large vehicles. Staying out of them could save your life.
Whether you are sharing the road with a car, bus or truck, do your part to prevent auto accidents by obeying traffic laws and following the rules of the road. Negligent driving can lead to serious accidents.
Contact us if a careless driver injured you or a loved one. We can investigate the situation and get the answers you need.