Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Hours-of-service rules for truck drivers in the U.S. went virtually unchanged for more than 60 years, until they were revised in 2013. But two of those provisions were short-lived, thanks to lobbying by the trucking industry and the business community. An amendment tacked on to the FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, signed into law on December 16, suspends at least until October 1 changes made in 2013 that limit use of the “34-hour restart” to once in a seven-day period and require that it include two off-duty periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The restart rules have now been rolled back to the pre-2013 status.

FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in 2013, “With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer.”

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Shopping for a used car or truck? You probably assume that the dealer will have fixed any recalled parts and that it’s safe to drive off the lot. If that’s what you think, you’re probably wrong.

Already in 2014, 39.85 million vehicles have been recalled. How many of those do you think are sitting on used-car lots? And the dealer is not required to fix a recall defect on a used car before selling it. In fact, they don’t even have to tell you about the outstanding recall. Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers.

This is why nearly a dozen consumer safety groups have filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission urging the FTC to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the used-car superstore chain. The groups allege that CarMax uses deceptive advertising and sales practices when it characterizes its used vehicles as “CarMax Quality Certified” and assures consumers that each used vehicle has passed a rigorous inspection. Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), said, “CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers’ lives.”

CarMax has responded to the petition by stating that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future recalls.” As to existing recalls, CarMax pointed out that “manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls.” What they failed to acknowledge is that CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers . . . and then sell them. A NHTSA rule will take effect August 14 requiring all auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every seven days. Thus, CarMax and every other used-car dealer will find it even easier to check the safety recall status of their vehicles.

Here is what happened to Clarence and Angela Davidson, a California couple who bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, just two months ago. A short time after the purchase, the Davidsons contacted Chrysler because they wanted to add a feature to the truck. That’s when they were told that the truck had a serious safety defect and was under a federal safety recall. Chrysler had made the recall in 2013 because the rear axle pinion nut could come loose, causing a crash without warning. The Davidsons tried to return the truck to CarMax, but they were told that basically they were out of luck and they were responsible for getting it repaired. The couple then took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled the girl out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames, starting a fire that burned several acres and closing the highway for about four hours. We don’t know yet whether the accident was caused by a part under recall, but we do know that CarMax sold these folks a vehicle that was unsafe.

Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act prohibits new car dealers from selling recalled vehicles without first fixing the safety defects, but it does not hold used-car dealers to the same standard. In a June 24 letter to the FTC, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said if the FTC does not act to prevent used car dealers from selling defective vehicles, he will take legislative action to address this issue.

As the Senator said, “used cars with a safety recall shouldn’t roll one inch off the lot.”

If you’re shopping for a used car or truck, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of any used vehicle you are considering BEFORE you agree to anything. Look on the manufacturer’s website or call a local dealer and provide them with the VIN. They can give you recall information that could save your life.

If a defective vehicle has caused an injury or death in your family, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm – 1-888-440-3211. We’ve been securing justice for hardworking people and families since 1959, and we don’t believe any merchant should play Russian Roulette with your loved ones’ lives.

Women & Disability in SC

“Man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.” You’ve probably heard this before . . . maybe from the mouth of your mother or wife. For personal injury lawyers, this is more than an adage. It becomes a real factor in quantifying the value of women’s unpaid work when computing damages for loss of income due to disability in South Carolina or wrongful death.

In a civil action alleging injury due to someone’s negligence – a car accident caused by a drunk driver, for example – a plaintiff may seek compensation for loss of income and loss of future income caused by a reduced ability to work. In a wrongful death action, survivors may seek damages for the financial support lost by the victim’s death. The intent of the law is to allow survivors to attain the same standard of living that they would have enjoyed if the accident or death had not occurred.

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Researchers in Europe say that commercial drivers, such as those who drive buses and trucks, may deny or underreport serious sleep trouble in order to protect their jobs. At a recent meeting of the European Lung Foundation, researchers presented the results of a study focused on daytime sleepiness levels in commercial drivers versus the general public. According to a MedlinePlus review, the study focused on people with a condition known as sleep apnea, often targeted as a serious risk factor for auto accidents.

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes sufferers to have trouble breathing when asleep. People with the illness can be left with depression, headaches and high levels of sleepiness. As the MedlinePlus article points out, bus and truck drivers who have sleep apnea can have their licenses or jobs revoked if their employers think the medical condition will affect their ability to stay alert behind the wheel. Fear of losing their jobs may cause professional drivers who suffer from the illness to underestimate or hold back about how sleepy they really are — which may lead to serious, even fatal, auto accidents.

The researchers in Switzerland looked at two groups of sleep apnea sufferers — a group of 34 commercial drivers and a group of 74 people who don’t drive for a living. The study looked at actual levels of sleep disturbance versus the level of sleepiness that each person reported feeling. At the beginning, each group had the same level of problems sleeping. The commercial drivers, however, only reported an average sleepiness level of around 8, compared to the other group, which reported an average sleepiness of 11. (Higher scores mean higher feelings of sleepiness.)
Commercial Drivers Less Likely to Use Device to Aid Sleep
What the researchers found six months later is even more disturbing. All the participants were supposed to undergo treatment with a device called CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is supposed to help people with sleep apnea keep breathing throughout their sleep. According to the study, commercial drivers not only used the CPAP machine less than the non-professional drivers, but they also had more drop-in visits to sleep clinics. These results led the study’s authors to think that the bus and truck drivers were struggling with their illness and its symptoms more than other patients.

The study also asked both groups to report how sleepy they felt during the day after their six months of CPAP treatment. Again, the bus and truck drivers seem to have underestimated their own sleeplessness, scoring an average of only 4.8 on the sleepiness scale. The other group, which used the device more often and had fewer unplanned sleep clinic visits, reported an average sleepiness level of 7.7, in contrast.

‘Life-Threatening Condition’
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people who suffer from sleep apnea shouldn’t drive if they aren’t undergoing proper treatment for their condition. The NHTSA says that sleep apnea is “a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that should not be ignored.” Unfortunately, it appears from the European study that some people who drive buses and trucks for a living are doing just that — and they may be risking more lives than their own if they get behind the wheel when they’re tired.

Get Help from Our South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers
Legal cases resulting from truck accidents are extremely complicated when they involve extensive damages and multiple defendants. If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck, bus or other commercial vehicle, it is important to consult a qualified South Carolina tractor-trailer accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Carolina truck accident, contact the Louthian Law Firm today toll free at 888-662-2895, locally at 803-454-1200 or online for a free consultation.

We serve clients throughout South Carolina, including Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken and Sumter.

In a recent opinion item in the Charleston Post and Courier, North Charleston city councilman Ron Brinson urged South Carolina authorities to support much-needed upgrades to Interstate 26, the main route connecting the Charleston area to the rest of the state and nation.

Brinson rightly points out that I-26 is already over capacity and in generally poor condition, and that situation will only get worse as the Port of Charleston grows and more trucks take to the highway. “Congestion and outdated designs engender unsafe conditions. Accident rates are generally high, and there’s a well-documented disproportionate fatality rate, especially in the Orangeburg to Summerville segment,” he writes.
Motorists who frequently travel I-26 between Charleston and Columbia are aware of the road’s inadequacies, and Brinson suggests that conditions will deteriorate as traffic increases — unless the state gets serious about upgrading its infrastructure. With the potential for a doubling of truck traffic related to the port within 10-12 years, sufficient modernization of I-26 would cost at least $1 billion and take about a decade, according to Brinson.
The South Carolina truck accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm echo the writer’s concerns about the safety of I-26, and we urge the state and federal governments to support upgrades to the route. We have written here before about one state lawmaker’s proposal to put in place a temporary fix for the issue of heavy trucks on I-26 by restricting them to one lane. While that might or might not be part of the solution, it is important for government officials to begin taking a serious look at how they can improve the road’s safety.

The South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Louthian Law Firm, P.A., have been helping truck accident victims in Columbia, Orangeburg, Sumter, Aiken, and throughout South Carolina, obtain fair compensation for their injuries since 1959. We provide each of our clients with individual attention.

If you or someone you lovehas been seriously injured in a truck accident on I-26 or any of South Carolina’s roads, contact the Louthian Law Firm, P.A., today. Call us toll free at (866) 454-1200 or locally at (803) 454-1200. You can also contact our South Carolina personal injury lawyers online for a free evaluation of your case.

South Carolina may soon create a truck-only lane along the far left side on a seven-mile stretch on I-26 in Charleston, South Carolina. Legislators cite the growing port in Charleston as the cause of increased tractor-trailer presence and accidents between Cosgrove Avenue to Ashley Phosphate Road on I-26.

“If we can save a life, it is our responsibility to act. The only way to be proactive is to go ahead and try something that would be feasible for that area,” Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston), the sponsor of the bill, said. “It’s a safety issue. You don’t want trucks in the middle lane or the far right. In that scenario, you end up having lanes blocked near exits. With trucks to the far left, cars can proceed around them..

The value of truck-only lanes has long been debated by urban planners and traffic safety officials. In theory, truck-only lanes ensure that trucks do not intermingle with passenger vehicles and, thus, present less likelihood of collision. These lanes, however, effectively reduce road and highway size and thereby represent an added cost to the state. Some states have proposed special truck-only tolls, but such moves are strongly resisted by the trucking industry especially in a time when truck-related fatalities are decreasing. The cause of the decrease in accidents–whether because of the recession or increased safety– is still being debated.

Gillard asked the state Secretary of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study for a truck-only lane in August after witnessing a 9-hour traffic delay due to a truck accident. Gillard filed his proposal recently. The bill will not be voted on until the new session begins in January.

About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online contact form.

After only twenty minutes into a car accident trial last week, a recess was called and the two parties came to agreement on a $10 million settlement to be paid by the Port Authority Transit Corp. (PATCO). The transit authority had admitted before trial that its truck driver was liable for the collision.

The 55-year-old Berlin, NJ man was driving to work in July 2007 when he was struck by a PATCO truck in Philadelphia, PA. The man had just crossed a bridge into Philadelphia when the PATCO driver ran a red light and shoved the man’s vehicle into a median strip. The accident resulted in shattered bones and a broken ankle to the driver.

The man has since undergone 12 surgeries and a painful debriding procedure to try to rid the leg of a serious infection which had begun to cause his flesh to rot. Unable to do anything else to save his leg, the doctors were forced to amputate.

The man initially sought $12.5 million in damages, but agreed to the $10 million.

If you have suffered a personal injury or lost a loved one in an automobile accident, the attorneys at Louthian Law Firm can help. Call us for a free consultation at 1-866-454-1200.

Car Accident Settlement

A Chilton County, Alabama jury has awarded $3.5 million to the family of a man killed when the van he was driving was crushed between two logging trucks, reports the Montgomery Advertiser.

Ken Gorum Trucking and Gary Fruge, the driver of the logging truck, were held responsible for the accident and have been ordered to pay the award. The jury found Fruge was speeding, and the truck had defective brakes, when it crashed into the victim’s van.

The victim’s car was pushed into the logs on the truck in front of him, causing the logs to come through his windshield – one went through his head and killed him. Although the driver claims he was going only 45 miles per hour, evidence suggests he was traveling between 65 and 75 mph.

Progressive Insurance Co, the insurance for the defendants, had refused to settle the case before trial.

If you have been in an accident or have lost a loved one in an accident, it’s important to make sure you understand your legal rights. You may be able to recover money for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, as well as compensation for wrongful death or permanent disability. Contact the experienced car accident attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm for a free evaluation of your case at 1-866-410-5656 or fill out our confidential online consultation form.

Alabama Logging Truck Wrongful Death