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California FELA Injury Law Blog

Not all commercial vehicle accidents involve collisions

Sharing the busy California highways with big rigs, 18-wheelers, semis and tractor-trailers is enough to make any driver of a car feel vulnerable. However, drivers of passenger cars may focus on defensive driving without realizing that not all commercial vehicle accidents involve collisions between two vehicles. Anytime when the cargo carried by large trucks are not properly secured, passenger vehicle occupants are at risk of being struck by lost cargo.

This danger was recently underscored by an accident that left a passenger in a car with a metal bar impaling her leg. According to a report by the California Highway Patrol, the incident occurred at about 10 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning. A CHP report indicates that both the truck and the car were traveling at highway speeds when a metal bar separated from the cargo load on the truck. It penetrated the car through the glove compartment on the passenger's side.

Amputations and other catastrophic injuries can happen in seconds

Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, whether they involve cars, trucks, motorcycles or theme park rides. However, catastrophic injuries often occur in the railroad industry. When accidents cause injuries such as amputations, lives are changed -- for both the victims and their families. Railroad workers in California might not realize how many of their duties put them at risk of amputation injuries.

Workers in this industry can risk their limbs in incidents that involve crushing or being struck by equipment or objects in the workplace. Potentially hazardous machines include power press brakes, mechanical power presses, conveyor belts, milling machines, drill presses, portable and table saws, grinders, slitters and shears. Safety authorities prescribe strict standards to prevent contact with moving parts of machines, but noncompliance is prevalent.

Do motorcycle helmets make a difference?

There a few modes of transportation more exciting than motorcycle. Hitting the open road under the California sun whenever you want is a great way to spend your day or get to work.

If you’re like most riders, you care about your safety and the safety of your fellow motorcyclists. California has over 800,000 registered motorcycle riders, the most of any state, making motorcycle safety important for many residents.

Lawmakers consider proposal to limit truck speeds to 65mph

Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Chris Coons of Delaware introduced a new bill that could increase the safety of the nation’s roadways. The bill requires new tractor-trailer trucks have speed limiters installed and activated. Although the law would not require trucking companies retrofit their current fleet to meet this requirement it would require those with speed limiters to begin using the devices.

Factors behind truck accidents

When people drive on California highways, they may sometimes feel uncomfortable driving next to large trucks. Some people may worry about what will happen if there is a collision. Large truck collisions happen for many reasons, and to stay safe on the road, it is important to know the factors at play in these crashes. 

Sometimes truck accidents happen because the weather is bad. According to GTG Technology Group, ice, snow and rain can cause truck accidents if the trucker does not drive in an appropriate manner. Additionally, a trucker might cause a crash if he or she does not maintain the vehicle. Important safety components, such as the braking system, usually experience a lot of wear, and a collision might occur if these systems do not work. A truck accident might also happen if the cargo is not loaded properly. If people overload a truck or if the cargo is not secured correctly, the cargo might fall off the truck, and this situation can cause an accident.

Unions to fight back against freight redefining Conductors

The fight to protect the jobs of conductors and promote the safety of both railroad workers and the public just got ugly. Today the National Railway Labor Conference - the lobbying and negotiating group which represents the nation's carriers - filed suit to allow the railroads to "arbitrate" to eliminate traditional conductor's jobs. This is part of the process which has been on the horizon for some time and the reason why the Organizations have been pushing so hard for minimum two person crews. It will be important to rally behind the unions in their effort to block the summary elimination of safety sensitive jobs.

Read more about this lawsuit filed by the major freight railroads here.

Trucking industry resists simple fix to underride truck accidents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that almost half of all fatalities involving tractor trailers are "underride" accidents. Unfortunately, there are no definitive studies that pinpoint the exact number of these accidents. Underride is the term used to describe when a smaller vehicle passes under the side or rear of the trailer portion of a truck. In many cases, the side of the trailer crashes through the windshield or even shears off the roof of the car.

When a smaller vehicle goes under a large truck, the safety features in the smaller vehicle are largely useless. Reinforced areas in the fronts and sides of cars that, by design, should lessen the impact during a crash instead pass right under the truck. These kinds of accidents are often fatal -- and largely preventable. But the trucking industry has resisted changes to reduce underride tragedies, in favor of their bottom line. 

Autumn weather can increase large truck dangers

Many residents of California and elsewhere are looking forward to the cooler weather of autumn and the Holiday season. However, it is important to note the traffic concerns whenever the weather changes, especially when it comes to sharing the road with large trucks.

Esurance cautions that along with the changes many people enjoy, autumn can increase traffic hazards in numerous ways. These include the following:

  • Frost in shady areas in the early mornings
  • Visibility challenges due to fog or sun glare
  • Rain and mud making roads slippery
  • Increased school traffic congesting roads

What should you know about catastrophic injuries?

Any injury can be "serious", particularly if it prevents you from working for a few weeks or months while you heal. There is a difference between a "serious" injury that you eventually recover from and an injury that is deemed "catastrophic."

FindLaw defines "catastrophic" injuries as those that are permanently disabling, resulting in a significant disruption to your quality of life, preventing you from working for a long period of time or eventually resulting in death. The following examples illustrate injuries that can be considered catastrophic:

  • Third-degree burns sustained from a house fire caused by faulty wiring
  • Memory loss and behavioral changes that begin showing up years after your traumatic brain injury
  • Shattered bones and internal injuries resulting from a truck accident
  • Significant facial scarring following a dog attack
  • Irreversible lung damage after exposure to harmful chemicals on the job
  • Paralysis from a spine injury after falling down the stairs

Identifying the increased dangers of driving at night

Cars and trucks fill the roadways of California, even after the sun sets and darkness rolls in. People are rushing home from work, running their last errands or headed out for dinner with friends and family. What many people may not know is that they are three times more likely to be killed in a car accident while driving at night than they are during daylight hours. What is the cause of this increased danger and what can be done to minimize the risk of becoming involved in a deadly motor vehicle accident?

A lack of sunlight can reduce the ability to see certain hazards that lurk on the roadways. This includes objects in the road, other vehicles, bad weather conditions, bicyclists, animals and pedestrians. Furthermore, depth perception and peripheral vision are compromised at night. It can be difficult to judge the distance and speed of an oncoming car when pulling out into traffic. This is especially true for older drivers, who do not see as well in small amounts of light. Headlight blindness can also be a problem. When drivers look directly into the bright lights of an oncoming car, they may experience temporary blindness that can make it hard to navigate alongside other vehicles for a period of time.

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