Articles Posted in truck accidents

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A fatal multi-vehicle accident involving six vehicles and one tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike brought national attention to drowsy professional drivers, the importance of adhering to posted speed limits especially in construction sites, and industry truck regulations. As reported by CBS Philly, early Saturday morning on June 7th at about 1 a.m. in the Cranbury Township of New Jersey a chain reaction crash gravely injured comedian Tracy Morgan fatally injuring his mentor while severely injuring several passengers in other vehicles. According to New Jersey State Police the accident involved professional driver, Kevin Roper, who set off a chain reaction car crash involving 5 other cars in a construction zone, when he allegedly swerved his Wal-Mart tractor-trailer to avoid hitting traffic while on the New Jersey Turnpike. Instead of crashing his truck directly into traffic the driver allegedly swerved and struck the side of a limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and friends. Fellow comedian and mentor James McNair was fatally injured in the crash and pronounced at the scene, several other passengers were listed in critical condition spending several weeks in critical care. Nearly two weeks after the crash Tracy Morgan was released from the Intensive Care Unit at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, for further rehabilitation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) regulates nearly every aspect of the trucking industry including the transportation weight limit, maintenance records, blood alcohol levels, and limits the consecutive number of hours a professional driver can log. Shortly after the accident originated many questioned the length of time the driver had been behind the wheel prior to the accident. With one such criminal complaint alleging that the driver had not slept for 24 hours prior to beginning his shift. Investigators are currently reconstructing the hours and actions of the driver prior to the crash. While drowsy driving is a real safety concern, with about 13 percent of all commercial drivers accidents involving fatigued drivers, sleep deprivation may not have been the leading cause of the crash.

Slowed down reactionary traffic may have been an aggravating factor for the Wal-Mart driver on the night of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) released their preliminary report regarding the suspected cause of June 7th crash. Driver Kevin Roper had logged 13 hours and 32 minutes the day of the crash. The federal limit on consecutive hours that a commercial driver can log is 14 hours; therefore Kevin Roper had not surpassed the legal limit at the time of the crash. Far more interesting was the reported speed that the Peterbilt combination truck was traveling 60 seconds prior to the crash. According to the truck’s electronic engine-control system the truck was traveling 65 mph prior to striking Tracy Morgan’s limousine. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesperson, following the preliminary report’s findings stated that their fleet of trucks are all equipped with devices that limit the maximum speed of their trucks to 65 mph, therefore the driver was traveling at the maximum speed allowable at the time of the crash.

Further troubling was where the driver was traveling which was in a construction zone at the time of the crash. The driver was traveling 20 mph above the posted speed limit. Construction, and subsequently construction zones and their lethargic traffic are a necessary evil for maintaining roadways. In this case a road-widening project that began in 2009 limited the speed and funneled traffic from three lanes down to one. According to the NTSB report, lane closure and speed reduction signs were clearly posted prior to the lane shift. As was the case here, large truck accidents often prove deadly for the occupants of smaller vehicles. Speed limits are in place to allow all motorists to know what the maximum speeds allowable in which to safely travel on a certain patch of road. Unfortunately the driver either ignored, did not pay attention to, or simple disregarded the posted speed limit and many suffered from his actions.
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According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, winter begins with the solstice on December 21st and does not end until the commencement of the vernal equinox on March 20th; this leaves three long months of winter driving, with an increased potential for collisions, property damage, and loss of life. What makes winter driving so different from other seasonal driving? In short, the unpredictable weather factor, and the vast number of people on the road, many of whom are neither as experienced nor confident driving in winter conditions. The winter season happens to coincide with the three deadliest driving holidays, two of which fall within the winter months and one at the cusp, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Nearly 39 million motorists were estimated to have traveled more than 50 miles to celebrate this past Thanksgiving holiday. The estimate according to AAA for motorists who drove home for Christmas this past year is expected to have lapsed the Thanksgiving estimate by the millions. The unpredictability of the type of weather one may encounter on a winter drive encompasses everything from blinding sunshine to a nor’easter. By slowing down, and estimating into our winter arrivals a bit more travel time, as well as tripling the driving distance between vehicles, we can all help to avoid a potential car crash. If we accept for argument’s sake that we as motorists in the United States enjoy the freedom of freely traveling, then we must also accept the responsibility for doing so in a safe manner.

Part of winter traveling that is especially different from other seasons is the cost of procrastination and the importance of preparedness. Take for example a typical springtime scenario, you got a flat while parked, and now your car wont start, and you have no idea where you placed those jumper cables. Assuming no other factors, you typically will be able to wait out a jump and tire repair from a local AAA road service assistant, without it impeding your health. Take that same example and place it during a February’s winter storm, and we are talking the difference between a potentially life and death scenario. Now that winter has arrived you may want to ask yourself is my winter survival pack replenished, and or restocked, and ready for the 2014 winter season?

Things to consider in your winter preparedness include are the windshield wipers in working order? Have you replaced your wiper fluid with high-quality winter fluid? Especially helpful for long drives, have you treated your windshield and mirrors to a coating of water-shedding material such as Rain-X? Are your lights in working order? Will other cars in limited visibility be able to see your cars headlights? Are you going to be driving in a place that regularly has significant snowfalls? If so, has your county or state regulated winter tires? Do the tires currently on your vehicle have sufficient tread and air pressure? If there is any major repair that needs to be done to your car, do so before you must drive your car for an extended period, such as a 6-hour drive to visit your family for the holidays. Can you easily access your ice scrapper, booster cables, blanket, warning flares, small snow shovel, gloves, flashlight, and a bag of abrasive material (such as sand salt mixture, or cat litter)? Lastly, if you do need to use your car as a shelter while waiting for AAA or road assistance, do you have everything you need to survive? The main difference between driving during the winter months and any other season is that when you break down, or are involved in a collision, the situation shifts from what can we do while we wait, to can we survive the wait.
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As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I was sad to read about a suburban Philadelphia accident involving a tractor-trailer whose driver was apparently breaking the law. According to the Times of Trenton, a Brooklyn truck driver was trying to make an illegal U-turn in Mercer County, New Jersey, when an SUV struck it and became trapped underneath the truck. The crash killed Jamella Tisdale, 25; Jaevon Durante, 9; and a baby boy, Jaden Tisdale. Driver Shaqwan Tisdale, 25, and passenger Mellady Duante, 8, were hospitalized with injuries. All of the victims were from Levittown, Pennsylvania. The Mercer County prosecutor’s office has charged trucker Richard Williams, 45, of Brooklyn, with three counts of death by auto.

Both the Tisdale SUV and the tractor-trailer driven by Williams were heading south on Brunswick Pike in Lawrence, N.J., when the crash happened. Authorities believe Williams was trying to make a U-turn at the intersection with Darrah Lane around 6:30 p.m. on August 2 when the SUV struck the side of the truck and became wedged underneath it. Emergency crews found two-thirds of the SUV underneath the truck and had to stabilize the truck before they could begin extracting the passengers, which took several hours. No injuries to Williams were reported. He was being held in the Mercer County Corrections Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Unfortunately, this pattern of deadly injuries to victims in cars while truck drivers walk away is not uncommon. As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I know that truck drivers are well protected by their much larger, much heavier vehicles. By contrast, a Chevy Tahoe like the one this family was driving is far lighter than the truck–and therefore contributes much less force to a crash. That’s why people inside ordinary cars can be catastrophically injured in crashes with big rigs, even when the crash was clearly the trucker’s fault. When truck drivers and their trucking companies break the law–or violate trucking safety regulations–the innocent motorists around them can suffer. As a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I believe the cost of that suffering should be laid at the feet of the irresponsible driver or trucking company that caused it.
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,870 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2011. That is one every 53 minutes. And one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is wrong, but is it ‘outrageous conduct,’ ‘done with a bad motive or reckless indifference to the interests of others?’ This question was recently posed before a Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Elvin Jenkins was driving east and John Krivosh was driving west on New Year’s Eve 2011. Elvin was driving a truck and it crossed into the opposing lane and struck John’s vehicle head on. John suffered serious injuries including a broken thigh bone, elbow bone, a closed head injury, internal bleeding and multiple bruises. John alleged that Elvin was under the influence of alcohol while driving the truck and requested punitive damages in his complaint.

Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages. They are not intended to compensate the injured but are meant to reform or deter the defendant from similar behavior. They are meant to set an example for society. Even though these damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff, they will receive all or some portion of the punitive damages. In Pennsylvania, “[p]unitive damages may be awarded for conduct that is outrageous because of the defendant’s evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others.” Chambers v. Montgomery, 192 A.2d 355, 358 (Pa. 1963) citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 908(2).

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As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I was interested to read about a minor car accident here in Philadelphia involving a celebrity. NBC Philadelphia reported March 20 that WWE wrestler John Cena was in the car at the end of a chain-reaction accident on Route 76, but wasn’t hurt. Cena was out doing media appearances to promote his fight that night against Mark Henry, “The World’s Strongest Man,” on Monday Night Raw at the Wells Fargo Center. His driver, Jules Anderson, told WWE that their SUV was rear-ended by a sedan that had itself been hit from behind by a tractor-trailer. Fortunately, they said no one was hurt, even though the sedan appeared to be totaled by the crash. Cena was checked over by WWE medical personnel and cleared to fight Henry that evening.

The WWE website said the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Route 76. Cena was on the phone at the time and a WWE Live Events employee was also in the car, along with Anderson. The SUV took damage, but according to WWE, no one inside was seriously hurt. The doctor who cleared Cena to fight said he may feel neck stiffness in a few days, a common symptom of whiplash-style injuries from rear-end accidents. Doctors plan to keep an eye on him, particularly since he will face The Rock in less than two weeks at WrestleMania XXVIII. Media reports said the drivers involved were arguing after the crash, but Cena’s celebrity — or perhaps his size — stopped the argument when Anderson told them who he was.

As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I’m very pleased that no one was seriously hurt in this crash — though if the tough Cena had whiplash-style symptoms, it’s likely that the other WWE employees and the sedan driver did too. The truth is, accidents between cars and big rigs are frequently deadly. Federal accident statistics show that large commercial trucks are involved in fewer accidents than passenger cars and trucks — but when they do crash, the chances that someone will die go up dramatically. Because of their size and weight — many times the size of a Honda Civic — trucks can crush smaller vehicles at speeds that would not be concerning in a crash between two equal-sized cars. In this case, it’s likely that the trucker was legally at fault for the crash, because the person behind is almost always at fault in a rear-end crash. Nonetheless, the sedan driver should be on guard, because trucking companies expect to get into accidents and have far more experience and legal firepower than the average driver. They may try to find a way to shift blame to the sedan’s driver, to avoid paying for the damage.
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Highway deaths in Pennsylvania for 2010 total 1,324. This represents a number that is up an alarming 68% from the previous year in 2009. In 2009, in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvanis region, highway deaths dropped to 226 from 251 in 2009 accoring to the Philadelphia Inquirer. While road deaths declined slightly in the Philadelphia region in general, highway fatalities rose in general from the historic lows of 2009. Philadelphia still has the highest incidence of deaths and injuries on the road in the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania.

Fortunately death tolls are still not yet seeing all time highs again as they did in 1970 when there were 2,555 fatalities and thousands of injuries on the roads as well. However, now, with the new 2010 statistics released and available, many Philadelphia residents are wondering why the dramatic increase in highway deaths has unfolded and what can be done to make Pennsylvania’s highways safer. Namely, how can we help teen drivers stay safer. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 were among the groups whose fatalities and crashes increased the most.

If you feel that you or a love one has suffered wrongful death or injury while on the road in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, it is important to get the facts as soon as possible to avoid statute of limitations and get whatever you may be entitled to. Contact a Philadelphia accident lawyer or a Philadelphia injury lawyer today.

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Just a few months ago, a Megabus crash on Onondaga Lake Parkway left several passengers and a driver injured and proved fatal for four passengers. This tragic accident is still under question as four of the 28 passengers have filed personal injury lawsuits against the bus company.

According to reports, the passenger’s lawsuits seek more than $50,000 each in compensation for damages including injuries suffered as a result of the crash. The Megabus involved in the crash was on its way from Philadelphia to Toronto. When the Megabus took a wrong turn in Syracuse, the bus crashed into a CSX railroad bridge on the Onondaga Lake Parkway.

Both the driver of the bus and the railroad company are being looked at by an Onondaga county grand jury for criminal charges. Lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. District Courts in New York and Pennsylvania as well as the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. Megabus driver John Tomaszewski, 59, of New Jersey has been named as the defendant in one case. Investigation into whether Tomaszewski was properly trained and licensed to drive the bus is underway. Other defendants in the case include Megabus Philadelphia LLC, Megabus USA LLC, Megabus Northeast LLC, Coach USA Inc and Coach USA Northeast. A Philadelphia injury lawyer or Philadelphia accident lawyer can help if you have been injured in a crash involving a commercial vehicle.

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Accidents in a big city like Philadelphia are an unfortunate reality, and no amount of fiddling with policy or reworking traffic engineering rubrics will eliminate the risks associated with taking your car, motorcycle, bike, or other vehicle on local surface streets and highways. But two recent stories have many local residents concerned. Both involved trains operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The first incident happened in Park Side in West Philly on November 18th at 49th Street and Lancaster Avenue at around 7:30 in the evening. An SUV slammed into a Route 10 trolley, causing injuries to eight people. 3 people in the SUV and 5 trolley passengers were sent to University of Pennsylvania Hospital and treated for minor injuries. Fortunately, early reports suggest that none of the injuries was serious.

A second SEPTA accident resulted in much graver consequences, however. An as-of-yet unidentified man got run over by a SEPTA train near Market Street and 34th at approximately 1:04 PM. The Market-Frankford line train slammed into the man while he was on the west bound tracks – reports thus far have not confirmed whether he jumped onto the tracks or fell.

Now, obviously, the SEPTA service provides essential transportation for city residents and the Philadelphia business community. And a Philadelphia accident lawyer would have to make a probing investigation to determine how or whether any of the hurt parties would have legal redress against the city or against any other potential defendants. All that said, it costs nothing for injured victims (or family members of hurt victims or people who have been killed in accidents) to consult with a Philadelphia injury lawyer about best practices.

Often, examining a traffic accident or other injury case is like peeling an onion. As you go deeper into the layers, more nuances are revealed. For instance, the case of the SUV crashing into the trolley may seem cut and dry based on the news reports. But a probing analysis may show that the SUV’s brakes malfunctioned, contributing to the crash; or that the trolley driver had been driving under the influence of prescription medications. These subtleties can profoundly influence your potential legal remedies to get paid for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs.

Furthermore, an actionable situation may emerge long after the accident. For instance, say you got hurt in a car crash near a SEPTA station and got taken to a hospital to be treated for a slipped disc. Then the doctor who operated on you exacerbated your injury through carelessness or negligence. In that case, you might need a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer to help you extract compensation for any follow up surgery you need, time off work and so forth.
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Last Sunday, two Philadelphia accidents shocked and shook the city – hammering home just how dangerous it can be to conduct regular business in town.

On Sunday afternoon at around 3 PM, seven different vehicles got involved in a chain reaction crash on Roosevelt Boulevard. The traffic backlog led to hour-long delays on the northbound lanes and resulted in the hospitalization of one person. The cause remains under investigation.

In a separate event at around 11:45 Saturday night, November 13th, a truck slammed into multiple concrete barriers and flipped over, killing the driver. Apparently, the 22-year-old had been returning from a Philadelphia Flyers game, when his speeding pickup flew out of control on Morrell Avenue (3700 Block), flipped over, and slammed into the wall of a nearby rehabilitation facility. A passenger survived and got treated at a Torresdale area hospital.

A Philadelphia accident lawyer advises victims in crashes about what to do to collect compensation for property damage, medical and surgical bills, wages lost at work, pain and suffering, and so forth. A Philadelphia injury lawyer would closely examine both the cause of the accident and the actions taken by the various parties afterwards. Often, accidents that you read about in local newspapers are far more complicated than the simple narratives may suggest.

For instance, in the seven car collision, perhaps multiple factors conspired to cause the crash. Perhaps poor road signage, a defective brake on one car, heavy traffic, inclement weather and another driving talking on a cell phone could have all “collaborated” to set the stage for the accident. To get a true objective understanding of how the crash happened, who “caused it,” what else contributed to the disaster, and how all these causal factors led to harm to various people, you really need to thoroughly analyze what happened, talk to experts, pore over witness statements and police reports, and lean on established case law to figure out how best to proceed.

A Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer will use the same kind of thinking when he or she assesses a claim of doctor negligence, a diagnostic mistake, or a pharmacist error. Essentially, you need to be able to tie some kind of error, omission, or negligent act (or failure to act) to a Philadelphia victim’s harm and/or damages. This may sound like a simple task. But you might be surprised by the diversity of resources available to defendants. Even a small “logic gap” in your argument can scuttle your case. So it’s imperative to lay careful groundwork for any kind of claim.
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Last week, a horrifying New Philadelphia auto accident unfolded while bystanders watched, helpless to intervene. Although this blog typically reports only on Pennsylvania and Philadelphia personal injury matters, this horrific crash merits some extra attention.

Blow by Blow of a Horror Story
In the middle of the afternoon in Ohio’s Stark County, an 83-year-old man named Peter Mingo lost control of his Ford Explorer and started driving chaotically. Other cars veered out of the way to avoid getting hit. One witness, David Mathey, followed the vehicle to track it down and prevent it from hitting someone. Mathey later reported: “I thought, oh my God he is going to kill somebody.” Unfortunately, Mathey and the Ohio Highway Patrol could not get to the Explorer in time. The vehicle swerved into the southbound lane on Route 800 and slammed into a Mercury Grand Marquis and then spun off and hit a 2003 Jeep Liberty. All told, the accident resulted in the deaths of four people – Peter Mingo (the driver of the Explorer), 61-year-old Bruce Goudy, 5-year-old Kira Goudy and 8-year-old Alex Goudy.

Mingo’s daughter was horrified at the news and reported that her father had been taking nearly two dozen different medications. Possibly, some bad drug interaction made Mingo suddenly lose control of his vehicle and not be able to stop in time.

This Philadelphia personal injury story highlights an important lesson: namely, that normal freeways and streets can turn quickly chaotic and deadly without any advanced warning. Since driving is something that most of us do on a regular basis, we tend to underestimate its risks — e.g. the dangers associated with driving to the grocery store or dropping our kids off at school. But statistical analyses paint a scarier picture. Even a cursory look at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration statistics reveal just how dangerous the simple act of driving can be.

The takeaway here is that it is well worth everyone’s time to examine systems, tactics and strategies to reduce the number and severity of Philadelphia auto accidents. On a personal standpoint, for instance, you might rethink driving at the most dangerous times – such as Friday and Saturday nights and holidays like the 4th of July, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve. You should also eliminate any distractions that could imperil your ability to drive defensively. Most people know not to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and to avoid driving when overly fatigued. But few realize that driving while talking or texting on a cell phone can be as hazardous. Indeed, some recent studies – conducted by institutions like Virgina Tech – suggest that driving while texting may be even worse than driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you or a family member got injured in a Philadelphia auto accident, or if you suffered significant property damage, you may need a lawyer to represent you to get you compensated for your wages lost, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
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