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Friday, April 29, 2016

Head-On Collision & Crush Injuries

Head-on collisions are caused when a driver crosses the center dividing line for any reason. The driver could have been trying to pass another vehicle on a two-lane road or could have been driving negligently and moved to the lane of traffic coming from the opposite side. Statistics collected by the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) brings out the following facts:

• 75 percent of all head-on collisions occur on rural roads.
• Head-on collisions happen most frequently on two-lane roads.
• Of the 7,000 reported head-on collisions on two-lane roads.
  Only 4.2% were caused when a driver was trying to pass another vehicle.
• Failure in negotiating a curve on the road is a cause of 23 percent of fatal head-on collisions.

The FARS data reveals that many head-on collisions result from ‘unintentional maneuvers’ of a driver. These include distracted driving, not following the speed limit, negotiating a curve at a very fast speed, and falling asleep while at the wheel. Driving under the influence is the other major cause of head-on collisions.

In addition to expensive medical bills, a victim of a Head-on collision crush injury may suffer additional financial losses due to the inability to continue working.

A crush injury occurs when two heavy objects compress or squeeze a body part. For example, a passenger’s legs may get squeezed under the dashboard in a head-on collision. A crush injury may damage the muscles, obstruct or completely stop blood flow to an organ, and may even cause tissue death. Some common symptoms of crush injuries include heavy bleeding, bone fractures, bruising, and loss of consciousness.

Crush Injury
Crush injuries are common in head-on car crashes. The vehicles involved in such an accident often are completely damaged, with the seats, steering wheel, dashboard, and other parts getting crushed. In many cases, the passengers inside the car suffer severe injuries. Immediate medical help is required in such situations.

A common injury sustained in a head-on collision is a crushed leg injury. A crushed leg injury occurs when the leg of the victim gets trapped under a heavy object or gets squeezed between two heavy objects. The consequences could be devastating and may even cause loss of the limb. A crushed leg injury may cause lacerations, major fractures, vascular damage, excessive bleeding, and bruising.

Consequences of a Crush Injury
Not all crush injuries are fatal. In case of mild crush injuries, necessary first aid treatment may suffice. However, some crush injuries cause serious medical complications and may even cause death. In addition to severe pain, a victim may develop a serious infection in the injured limb.

There is also the risk of serious bone fractures, and in some cases, the doctor may recommend an immediate surgery. In extreme cases, it may be required to amputate the damaged leg, while some crush injuries may trigger long-term complications, such as chronic pain, neurological and psychological disorders. Another severe outcome of a crush injury could be rhabdomyolysis, a medical condition that causes rapid destruction of skeletal muscles due to extensive muscle damage.

How to Deal with the Consequences of a Crush Injury
Crush injuries require immediate treatment. In most cases, the victim needs to be hospitalized and undergo a surgery. In some cases, long-term treatment will be required. Some symptoms may arise at a later stage and thus the patient needs to watch out for any long-term complications under the guidance of an experienced doctor.

Experience in a Full Range of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
At Miller Weisbrod, our team of attorneys can offer you the sound advice and concerted legal action you need in order to pursue financial justice and real recover after a serious personal injury or the loss of a loved one. From our office in Dallas, we serve clients nationwide.

We have substantial experience and a proven record of success in obtaining multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases nationwide.

Motor vehicle accidents include:
Car accidents
Truck wrecks
Motorcycle accidents
ATV accidents
Bus crashes
Boating accidents

Contact Us
To learn more about your rights and legal options in seeking maximum financial recovery after a serious or fatal head-on collision, please call our Dallas office at 214.987.0005 to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced trial lawyer.

We offer free initial consultations to potential clients nationwide. If you are calling from outside the DFW Metroplex, please use our toll-free line at 888.987.0005 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Worksite Guardrail Accidents

On an apartment construction job in North Texas, an electrician Carlos knelt down and began to feed an extension cord from the second story balcony down to the ground so it could be plugged in below. Carlos placed his hand on the temporary guardrail that had been constructed as a fall protection safety precaution. Suddenly, the guardrail gave way propelling Carlos head over heels to the ground below. The impact broke his back leaving him a paraplegic.

The faulty temporary guardrail

At another apartment complex job in Lewisville, a plumber named Jerry was at work inside a second story unit. Jerry was waiting on a delivery of plumbing equipment for the construction project. When he hears a honk, he walks to the second story balcony and places his hand on the temporary guardrail as he looks down to see if his delivery truck arrives. The next thing he knows he is falling straight down, guard rail in hand. The fall shatters Jerry ankle and hind foot joint ending his twenty plus year career as a Master Plumber.

Improperly secured temporary guardrail

On a new apartment construction job in Lubbock, a painter is told there is left over paint on a balcony on the third floor. It is a typical windy West Texas day. When the painter opens the door to the balcony, the wind effect pulls the door violently outward along with the painter. As the painter is thrown to the balcony he reaches for what is supposed to be there—the guard rail. But someone has removed it in order to stock materials for the upper floor, the painter is propelled off the balcony breaking his spine leaving him permanently paralyzed.

These are just a few examples of cases Miller Weisbrod attorneys have handled involving improperly constructed/maintained guardrails. OSHA 1926.952 sets that standard for guardrail construction and maintenance. The guardrail system must have a top rail that is 42 inches above the walking/working level—in order to prevent someone from being able to fall over the top of the rail. The system should have a mid-rail that is 21 inches from the working/walking level—in order to prevent someone from slipping underneath the rails. And the guardrail system must be capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds applied in any outward or downward direction along the top edge of the rail.

We see time after time, guardrails that are constructed in such a way that they do not withstand anywhere near the 200 pounds of pressure, allowing the rails to fail and send workers tumbling to the ground. The most common incidence is where guard rails are constructed or replaced by nailing the rails to the outside of the building rather than on the inside or onto an independent wooden member. This allows the guard rail to be pushed out (often with little force depending upon what it is nailed into) when someone places their hand on it for balance or just resting part of their body weight on it.

Other guardrail negligence occurs when guardrails are removed by trades for work or material stocking—the repeat offenders are typical the framing or stucco crews that remove the guardrails to place waterproofing wrap or stucco around balconies or landings or drywall contractors loading in their materials. Many times these guardrails are replaced incorrectly (as described above) or many times not replaced at all!

Our lawsuits are typically against either framing subcontractors or the general contractor for allowing the dangerous condition to exist or failing to maintain the guardrails correctly. Many general contractors contractually require the framing subcontractor to construct and maintain the guardrails throughout part of or the entire project.

Below are two excerpts from the cross examination of framing superintendents where guardrails were not maintained to withstand proper force:

Miller Weisbrod has partnered with law firms across the state of Texas on a referral and joint venture basis to pursue cases of catastrophic injury and wrongful death arising from construction and work site incidents. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you to obtain justice for your clients injured or killed on the job.

Contact Us
If you were seriously injured or a loved one died in an oil field or construction accident caused by a negligent contractor or subcontractor or OSHA safety violations, we encourage you to call our offices in Dallas today at 214.987.0005 or toll free at 888.987.0005 for a free consultation. You may also contact us by e-mail today for answers to your important questions or to schedule an appointment.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More texting drivers in Texas and other states

In four states where texting and driving is not banned, a study by AT&T found drivers text at a rate 17 percent higher than in states where the practice is banned.

Comparing the 46 states with bans on texting to the four that do not – Texas, Missouri, Arizona and Montana – researchers with AT&T found drivers in the states without a ban have a roughly 17 percent higher rate of texting.

The study used AT&T customers with Android phones and logged their texting from moving vehicles. The information, which only included incidents of texting and shielded identities, was then analyzed with a host of other factors to get a valid sample of how likely people are to text while commuting in metro areas, Susanne Halstead, senior data scientist with AT&T, said Tuesday. (Data gathered by AT&T Drive Mode® application)

That means unlike surveys where people are "asked" about their texting habits behind the wheel; the study is based on actual incidents of people texting from a moving car and census data related to how many people drive alone or with someone.

Supporters of statewide texting bans said the findings demonstrate laws have a positive effect.

“There is concrete evidence that states with texting bans have fewer drivers who are texting,” said Kara Macek, spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. “Which is the exact behavior we are trying to change.”

Forty cities in the state have a local ban, including Bellaire, Conroe, Galveston, Missouri City, Tomball and West University Place. But attempts to ban texting while driving in Texas have run into opposition or ambivalence in Austin, where Gov. Greg Abbott and his predecessor Rick Perry have both balked at a law they said controlled adult behavior.

The study, which provides valuable comparisons, Macek said, gives ban supporters more opportunity to urge for law changes but also another chance to warn drivers. Ultimately, she added, it is not about texting but all types of distractions that drivers confront.

Distracted Driving Statistics
Although teen drivers are the most susceptible group to distracted driving, nearly every age group participates in some type of distracted driving habits. According to Distraction.Gov, “An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012.”

Contact Us
If you were seriously injured, or a loved one died in a car accident caused by distracted driver, call the offices of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, located in Dallas, today at 214.987.0005 or toll free at 888.987.0005 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury trial attorney. You may also contact us by e-mail for answers to your important questions or to schedule an appointment.

Distracted Driving has surpassed drunk driving deaths

Distracted driving has become rampant on roadways across the country, outranking drunk driving as our nation’s leading cause of auto accident fatalities.

Distracted driving-related crashes have skyrocketed over the last decade, as smartphones, music players, and navigation systems have grown in prevalence. Too often, drivers forget that cars can be dangerous weapons when handled improperly, allowing their attention to drift away from the task of driving in order to answer a text message, bite into a burger, or change a song. Texting while driving is especially dangerous since it takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving.

Right now, approximately 660,000 drivers are texting, talking on a phone, or using an electronic device in our country. Studies have found that no demographic is without guilt—drivers of all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors while driving.

Dangerous Driving Behaviors in Different Ages

Teen Drivers
Around one in three teens between the ages of 16 and 17 have reported texting while driving. But texting isn’t the only dangerous driving behavior that teens are likely to engage in. Many teens also have admitted to reading, doing homework, and changing their clothing while driving. Additionally, teen drivers can easily become distracted by passengers, especially when those passengers are their peers.

How to Reduce the Odds of an Accident
If you’re not comfortable with your teen driving a car full of rowdy passengers, set your own restrictions. If you do allow your teen to drive their friends around, make sure you talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of staying focused on their environment—not the other people in the vehicle.

Ask your teen not to drive at times known to be particularly dangerous for teen drivers, or at least ask them not to drive at night (with an intermediate license in the state of Florida, teens should not be driving on their own after 11 pm anyway). Caution your teen to watch out for dangerous driving behavior— weaving or sudden acceleration and deceleration—and to leave plenty of room if they see a driver who may be drunk. If your teen does drink, make sure they know it is better to call you and ask for a ride than to risk driving home drunk and put their lives in danger.

Remember, just because your teen has earned their driver’s license doesn’t mean they are done learning about defensive driving and the rules of the road. Continue to instruct your teenager when you drive with them, and they will hopefully begin developing the skills necessary to reduce their chances of being in a crash.

Adult Drivers
A shocking 47 percent of adults who text say that they have texted or read a message while driving. Other common distracted driving behaviors among adult motorists that cause serious accidents include daydreaming, smoking cigarettes, and adjusting music or climate systems.

Senior Drivers
Today, there are more drivers aged 65 and older on the road than ever before. Senior drivers are 16 percent more likely than younger adult drivers to cause a crash due to deteriorating health, slower reaction time, and the influence of medications. When seniors engage in distracted driving behaviors, it’s usually a recipe for disaster—and when senior drivers text behind the wheel, they are four times as likely to accidentally veer out of their lane than younger adults or teen drivers.

How Technology Can Help

Of course, in-car technology isn’t all bad. While technology is often the cause of many distracted driving accidents, it can also be used to prevent it. Today, there are a variety of apps for your smartphone specifically designed to prevent distracted driving behaviors, such as:

Drive First
Sprint customers enjoy a free download of this handy app, which auto-responds to incoming text messages and redirects calls to voicemail during a drive. While the app prevents drivers from texting or making calls during a drive, it does allow emergency calls to certain numbers.

Drive Mode®
AT&T Drive Mode switches on automatically when a vehicle is in motion, auto-responding to text messages while allowing the driver to easily access music and navigation. Parents can even arrange to receive text message alerts if their kids ever turn off their app.

Safely Go™
Verizon’s distracted driving prevention app, Safely Go, allows drivers to access only three important apps and receive calls from three key contacts while driving. Calls are enabled through Bluetooth and other hands-free devices.

Distracted Driving Statistics
Although teen drivers are the most susceptible group to distracted driving, nearly every age group participates in some type of distracted driving habits. According to Distraction.Gov, “An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012.”

•    10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the
      crash.This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted

•    Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes
    – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

•    At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or
     manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010
     – National Occupant Protection Use Survey

•    Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s
     enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded – VTTI

•    25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20% of teens and
     10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving
     – University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Contact Us
If you were seriously injured, or a loved one died in a car accident caused by distracted driver, call the offices of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, located in Dallas, today at 214.987.0005 or toll free at 888.987.0005 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury trial attorney. You may also contact us by e-mail for answers to your important questions or to schedule an appointment.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Electronic Logbooks Truckers

Federal Mandate Could Mean Less Road Time for Truckers

Truck monitoring designed to increase safety, called costly
Weary drivers who clock hours of illegal overtime to make faraway deliveries and some who alter their paper logbooks to hide violations of regulations meant to reduce their risk of crashing.

“When a truck’s not moving, a driver isn’t making money,” said Trendell Dixon, a driver for Houston-based Leedy Logistics. “I see drivers just go, go, go.”

Some truckers skip or shorten mandatory rest periods structured to keep fatigue in check, creating a hazard on freight-heavy corridors like those that run through San Antonio. Because most drivers record their hours in paper logbooks, it takes only a few strokes of a pencil to conceal the extra time on the road.

Oversight of drivers is increasing as companies across the country, including W.W. Rowland in San Antonio and Reynolds Nationwide in Von Ormy, begin to replace their paper logbooks with digital ones in advance of a federal mandate.

Large Truck Crashes and Inspections
Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) published a rule that requires most long-haul drivers to start using digital logbooks by the end of 2017. When the mandate takes effect, it will be easier for roadside inspectors to determine whether drivers are in compliance with hours-of-service regulations, set by the FMCSA in an attempt to cut down on large truck crashes.

Though the data suggest most truckers stick within their time limits, those who don’t are more likely to cause a serious accident. Using crash and violation data to model projections, the FMCSA has estimated electronic logbooks could help prevent about 1,850 crashes and 26 fatalities each year.

It is hard to predict how the mandate will affect the number of crashes. FMCSA data show Bexar county’s total crashes involving large trucks rose from 567 in 2011 to 762 in 2014, mirroring an increase in traffic.

Last year’s total fell to about 490 crashes, according to the FMCSA. The Texas Department of Public Safety recorded 44 carriers with hours-of-service violations during the same period. Many had multiple citations, and two had been involved in a crash at the time of inspection.

Improving Compliance
The paper logbooks that truckers for decades have used to record when they stop and start driving have made it difficult for law enforcement officials to monitor hours-of-service regulations — or time limits — set by the FMCSA in an attempt to reduce commercial vehicle crashes.

The regulations allow interstate truckers to be on duty for 14 hours following a break of least 10 hours.
While on duty, they’re allowed to drive for 11 hours and must take a break of at least 30 minutes within the first eight hours on the road.

The digital equivalents of paper logbooks, referred to as electronic logging devices, or ELDs, automatically track where a truck goes and how many miles it travels in a given period, creating a permanent record that company and law enforcement officials can more easily check.

“What’s going to happen is drivers are going to be more readily caught,” said Nick Wingerter, CEO of San Antonio-based consulting firm Truck Safety 1. “The (ELDs) enhance the ability of highway enforcement officials because they don’t have to do manual inspections of a driver’s handwritten log book. That’s where it’s really great in helping the safety of the highways.”

The FMCSA expects the mandate will reduce fatigue-related crashes by holding drivers and their employers accountable for their time at the wheel, but the total level of noncompliance within the industry is largely unknown. The agency noted the scope of the problem is difficult to measure because it cannot continually monitor every carrier and violators have incentive to hide their behavior.

The agency’s inspection data provide some insight into the extent of the noncompliance. Last year, inspectors discovered about 893,200 violations nationwide, about 15 percent of which involved time limits. Serious logbook offenses, including false records, lack of records and failure to retain seven days’ worth of records, accounted for about 10 percent of all violations.

In Texas, where thousands of trucks drive each day to or from Laredo, Houston and other major freight hubs in and around the state, roughly the same percentage of violations related to serious logbook offenses, while only 6.1 percent related to hours-of-service.

National Attention
Though fatigue is only one of many factors in large truck crashes, logbooks have come under scrutiny in a number of high-profile incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB), which put electronic logbooks on its 2016 “most wanted” list of safety improvements, has identified fatigue as a central factor in about a fifth of the crashes it investigated between 2001 and 2012.

In January, the board cited fatigue as the probable cause of a 2014 crash in Illinois involving a truck driver who had slept for less than 4½ hours in the 37 hours before the incident.

The driver crashed into two stopped vehicles — a state police car and a tollway vehicle — on Interstate 88 one night in January. The collision killed the tollway worker and caused the patrol car to burst into flames, seriously injuring the officer. It was later discovered the truck driver had a history of falsifying his

The accident bore some similarity to one that happened near Dallas in Sulphur Springs a decade earlier. In June 2004, a truck driven by a fatigued driver collided with an SUV stopped in traffic on Interstate 30, pushing it forward into another tractor-trailer, which then hit the car in front of it. The pileup caused a fire and killed the four occupants of the SUV and the fatigued driver, who was also found to have falsified his logbook on multiple occasions, according to the NTSB.

Several companies, particularly those with large fleets, began installing the devices well before the rule was published.

Some, like W.W. Rowland, are banking on better safety ratings on the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety and
Accountability database. Within the last two years, drivers for the company have been inspected about 760 times and cited for 91 violations involving time limit or logbook issues, according to agency data.

The database scores help the FMCSA determine which carriers ought to be monitored or audited.

W.W. Rowland contracts with about 280 owner-operators, independent drivers who have their own trucks and often drive for multiple carriers.

Reynolds Nationwide employs drivers to man its fleet of 340 light-blue trucks, which haul milk, tequila and a range of other products. As of February, the company had nearly completed installing the devices in its trucks.

The company, which has been preparing for the mandate for the past two years, spent $630,000 to purchase the devices and plans to spend $15,000 a month to operate them, Nester said. During that period, company drivers were inspected 463 times, 81 of which involved time limit or logbook violations.

Not all truckers are eager to go paperless. Luther Forest, a driver for Houston-based Trinity Victory Trucking, said he thinks the devices are unnecessary, especially for drivers who can’t readily afford to
install them.

Industry Impact
It might not be as easy for other owner-operators and small carriers to adopt the devices. While the FMCSA drafted its rule, many opponents of the mandate raised concerns that installing them will prove too costly for companies without the time and money to operate them.

“Most of the nation’s freight is hauled by very small trucking companies,” said Lane Kidd, managing director for the Trucking Alliance, a national coalition of large trucking companies that has consistently supported ELDs. “That’s the segment that will be the last to put these devices on. A lot will decide if they can’t fudge those logbooks a little, they’ll just leave the business.”

During 2013-2014, more than 2,000 small carriers left the business, and Donald Broughton, of Nashville-based Avondale Partners, said more will likely follow. He anticipates companies will make about 5 percent less money from their assets when the mandate takes effect.

Contact Us
Miller Weisbrod has an impressive track record in obtaining multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for trucking accident victims and their families.

Commercial transportation is a major U.S. industry with a vested interest in limiting corporate liability in truck accident cases. Many large companies maintain rapid response teams of trucking company attorneys, accident investigators and insurance adjusters who are on call 24 hours a day to respond immediately in the event of a serious or fatal truck accident. They have one goal: Minimize the ability of victims to seek the compensation they may be due.

Miller Weisbrod, LLP, represents victims of truck accident injury and wrongful death nationwide. Our Dallas truck accident attorneys are prepared to take on even the biggest trucking companies and commercial transportation operations across the United States. For more information, contact our offices in Dallas at 214.987.0005 to schedule an appointment.

If you need legal advice anywhere outside the DFW Metroplex, please call us toll free at 888.987.0005. You may also contact us by e-mail now for prompt attention or to request an appointment.

We welcome the opportunity to apply our years of experience, skill and demonstrated ability to produce real results in difficult and complex cases involving:

• Truck driver error & carelessness
Fraudulent logbooks
• Equipment failure and negligent maintenance
Aggressive driving and speeding
• Issues of corporate responsibility RE: encouraging the use of onboard computers and texting while driving
Truck underride accidents due to lack of underride protection or defective under guards

If you were hurt or a loved one was severely injured or died in a trucking accident, immediate investigation and concerted legal action may be necessary to protect your right to seek maximum recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation.