Munley News

Fatal Vehicle-Train collisions can often be prevented

RRLast week, WNEP news reported that two men died in Lycoming County after the pickup truck they were riding in collided with a freight train. Police reported that the truck was driving over a railroad crossing when it collided with a Norfolk Southern Train.

About every 3 hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train, according to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization focused on providing education to prevent collisions at railroad track and highway-rail grade crossings. The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons, and can weigh up to 6,000 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car. By the time a locomotive engineer sees a person or vehicle on the tracks, it is often too late. It takes a freight train travelling at 55 mph more than a mile, or the length of 18 football fields, to stop.

According to statistics reported by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there were 2,087 highway-rail incidents at public and private crossings in 2013, resulting in 251 fatalities and 929 injuries. As the statistics show, these accidents can be catastrophic but are often preventable. Many of these accidents occur either because the driver fails to see the train coming, or makes a decision to race through the crossing.

Although it might seem impossible that a driver could miss something as large and loud as a train coming, it happens often. One reason may be that safety measures, such as warning lights at some of these crossings are much less effective than those at normal highway intersections. Some may have nothing more than a sign. Figures from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) state that approximately 60% of all railroad crossing fatalities occur at unprotected or passive crossings.

The Association of American Railroads reported that there are approximately 210,000 grade crossings in the U.S., for which state and local governments are responsible for the installation of active warning devices. While federal, state and local governments are responsible for the installation of these devices, railroads are responsible for the maintenance of the devices. Railroads can also chose to install safety devices on their own, without waiting for government assistance, and to help save lives. The FRA estimates about 80% of railroad crossings do not have adequate warning signs.

An important move to improve safety is the installation of flashing lights and automatic gates signal systems at all crossings. Statistics show that this could help prevent 94% of collisions at crossings. This important measure can save hundreds of lives each year.

Here are some tips from the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law to help insure your safety at railroad crossings:
• Stop, look and listen when approaching a railroad crossing.
• Always look in both directions before crossing the tracks.
• Do not race a train to a crossing, as the results could be deadly.
• Never drive around lowered gates.
• Never stop on the train tracks.
• Only cross the tracks at a designated railroad crossing.
• If you get stuck on the track while crossing, immediately leave your vehicle and call for help.

If you have been injured in an accident with a train, the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help. We’ve represented thousands of accident victims and their families in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Call Munley Law today for a free consultation. Call 855-866-5529 or visit www.munley.com.

Community Health Systems hacked, records of millions of patients stolen, including many in NEPA

Marion MunleyCommunity Health Systems, the owner of Moses Taylor and Regional Hospitals in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre General, Tyler Memorial near Tunkhannock and First Hospital in Kingston, announced Monday that it was the target of a cyber attack.

Community Health Systems operates 206 hospitals across the country, including those mentioned locally. The company said that hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 4.5 million patients. According to reports on Fox News, they believe the attack originated in China.

CNN reported that the hackers gained access to names, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates and phone numbers, which is considered a breach under HIPPA. Anyone who received treatment from a physician’s office tied to a network-owned hospital in the last five years, or was merely referred by an outside doctor may be affected. In its SEC filing, the company said the stolen data does not include medical or credit cared information. Fox reported that in response to the breach, the company has notified people whose information was stolen, and if offering them identity theft protection services.

Reuters recently reported that the upsurge in hacking makes customer data a corporate time bomb. In the report, Reuters said that cyber security experts say that no matter how much companies spend to increase IT security, they are unlikely to be able to stop their systems from being breached. They say the best defense may be to reduce the data they hold or encrypt it so that it will be useless if stolen.

The Community Health System attack comes on the heals of many large cyber attacks in this country, including retail giants Target and Neiman Marcus. Cyber attacks have bean steadily on the rise, and online hackers have emptied bank accounts, stolen identities and ruined the credit of millions of unsuspecting individuals.

We all have many devices that can be hacked, from computers to tablets and smart phones. If you can plug it in or connect it to a network, your device can be hacked by someone.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law offer the following tips to protect yourself from hackers.

• Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots, they are not very secure.
• Only visit secure sites. Install the HTTPS everywhere browser extension. It is an add-on for Chrome, Firefox an opera that ensures that whenever you visit a site that offers data encryption, you’re using it.
• Create strong passwords. Make them long and difficult to figure out, using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The longer a password is, the harder it is to crack.
• Don’t use the same password for everything; create different passwords for different accounts.
• Change your password often.
• Beware of phishing. Don’t open email from unknown sources, especially attachments.
• Password protect all of your devices

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law have been fighting for clients for more than 50 years. They are experts in car, truck and bus accidents; medical malpractice; wrongful death; workers’ comp and product and premises liability. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

Munley Law urges motorist to slow down as school children return to the classroom

school-crossingMillions of students are returning to the classrooms this month, which means extra care must be taken for all who are driving motor vehicles. With the start of the new school year comes increased traffic on area roads, and also an increased risk of accidents.

Drivers must be aware at all time, especially when near school zones and along bus routes. Watch for children walking on sidewalks, in parking lots and crossing streets, they can be unpredictable. AAA estimates that 55 million children across the country are returning to school this fall, warning drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the highest percentage (42%) of fatalities among pedestrians under 15 occurred between 4p.m. and 8p.m. The NHTSA reports that 23 million students nationwide ride on a school bus, but the greatest risk is approaching or leaving the bus. The danger zone is 10-feet in front of the bus, 10-feet behind, and 10-feet on each side. Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop for loading or unloading children, so drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.

Here are tips from the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law for safe driving near school zones and in the vicinity of school buses:

• Be aware of school buses and children at all times when driving near a school or bus stop.
• It illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
• Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm on a bus is a signal that children are getting on or off the bus.
• Never pass a school bus on the right, even if you think it is parked, it is illegal and could have tragic consequences.
• Watch as students get off a bus or are walking, they may quickly change direction, walk out from between cars, or dart out into the street.
• Remember that the 10-foot area around a school bus presents the greatest risk for children being hit.
• Pay close attention to crossing guards.
• Don’t drive distracted – pay attention to the road at all times.
• Obey the posted speed limit at all times.
• Be patient. Expect extra traffic during peak bus times, plan ahead and give yourself extra time.

Many pedestrian accidents can be prevented when drivers slow down and pay attention. Every parent wants their child to arrive and return safely from school, and that requires motorists to be attentive around school buses and school zones. The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers encourage you to drive safely today and always.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law have been fighting for clients for over five decades. They are experts in car, truck, bus and pedestrian accidents, representing clients throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. If you need a lawyer to fight for you, you need Munley Law. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer says seat belts can save lives

Buckle_UpWearing a seat belt can help save your life. According to the Just Drive Pa, a seat belt increases your chances of surviving a crash by 60 percent. Seat belt usage rose to 87 percent nationally in 2013, which sounds great, but means that although 184.4 million people are wearing seatbelt, 27.5 million still are not.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), there are several demographic groups that have a lower seat belt rate than others. These groups include 16- to 24-year-olds, African Americans, males, and drivers who are alone in the vehicle. Research also showed that 67 percent of the pickup truck drivers killed in crashes were not buckled up.

The NHTSA released the following startling statistics regarding age and seat belt use. The numbers reflect occupants killed who were completely unrestrained at the time of the crash.
• 3 in 5 young occupants, 21 to 24
• 3 in 5 teen occupants, 13 to 15
• 1 in 2 young tweens, 8 to 12
• 2 in 5 children, 4 to 7

Safe Kids Worldwide surveyed 1,000 teenagers about their seatbelt use, and a quarter said they don’t buckle up every time for a variety of reasons. Some said they simply forgot, while others said they didn’t feel they needed to because they weren’t going far. The survey also found that many parents of the teens do not buckle up.

Of the 21,667 motor vehicle occupants who died in crashes in 2012, more than half (52%) were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the 2012 Occupant Protection Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. Last year in Pennsylvania, 425 people died in unrestrained crashes statewide, according to Just Drive PA. More motorists seem to drive unrestrained at night, as 61% of those killed in nighttime crashes were unrestrained compared to 43% killed during the daytime.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. The NHTSA found that of all passenger vehicle occupants ejected from their vehicles in crashes, 79% suffered fatal injuries.

In the past five years, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved nearly 63,000 lives, according to NHTSA statistics. Remember, seat belts should be worn on every trip, no matter how short. Many people believe that if they are not going far or traveling fast, that seat belts aren’t necessary, and that is simply not true. Most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds of less than 40 mph.

As a driver, you need to make sure everyone is bucked up, including rear-seat passengers. Ensure children are in the proper restraint system for their age and weight, and that all children under 13 are properly restrained in the back seat. Set a good example for your children and others by buckling up at all times, and have a conversation with your teens and children of all ages about the importance of bucking up.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law specialize in car and truck accidents. We can fight for you and your family. Contact Munley Law today to schedule a free consultation. Call 855-866-5529 or visit www.munley.com.

Many admit to distracted driving although they know it is risky behavior

Caroline MunleyA Harris poll of more than 2,000 adults earlier this summer revealed that although more than nine in ten Americans believe sending and reading texts while driving is dangerous, 45% of those surveyed said they still do it. Among those surveyed with smartphones or tablets, over one-third said they use the devices to search things while driving.

Despite knowing that talking on a cell phone is also dangerous when driving, 74% of those surveyed said they do talk on their cell phones when driving. They admitted to other distracting behaviors as well, such as grooming, posting to Facebook or Twitter, and some admit having read a book or magazine or watched a video on a smartphone while driving.

USA Today reported that about 660,000 drivers in the US are using handhold cellphones while driving at any moment. This number has steadily increased since 2010, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey.

Accidents as a result of distracted driving can often be fatal. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 3,328 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2012 and 421,000 people were injured. The NHTSA reported that 71% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes were male. Additionally, 57% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were driving in the daytime.

Distracted driving is any behavior that can divert a drivers attention away from driving, even for just a moment. Distractions can include cell phone use, eating or drinking, talking to other passengers in the vehicle, reading, grooming, using navigational systems, and adjusting radios among others.

According to the website distraction.gov, 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. A recent AAA Foundation in-car study found that teen drivers were distracted almost a quarter of the time they were behind the wheel. Electronic devices, such as texting, emails and downloading music, were among the biggest distractions.

53% of teens that reported talking on a phone while driving, said they were chatting with their parents, according to a study presented this month at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in Washington. The researchers in the new study found that the proportion of teens that reported using cell phones while driving has risen dramatically in recent years, despite publicity about the dangers.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law encourage adults to set a good example for their teens:
• Don’t talk on a cell phone or text while you are driving.
• If you must call your teen, don’t call when you know they are driving. If it is an emergency, call them and ask them to pull over into a safe spot and call you back.
• Set rules for your teens regarding distracted driving and talk openly about the importance of following the rules and the tragic accidents that can happen if they don’t.

If you have been injured as a result of a distracted driver, the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help you get the compensation you deserve. Visit www.munley.com.

Kids and pets left in hot cars can have tragic ending

RTA_9958Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle on a hot summer day can lead to heatstroke and can kill in minutes. The Department of Earth & Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University reported that there have already been 21 child deaths this year due to heatstroke from being left in a hot vehicle.

Tragedy can strike when parents or caregivers forget or knowingly leave children or pets in hot vehicles. It can also occur when unattended children play in parked vehicles. A car can heat up by 20 degrees in just ten minutes. Even with temps in the 60s, the interior of a car can eventually heat up above 110 degrees. A child will die of heatstroke when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The issue of child heatstroke deaths reached national attention in June when a father in Atlanta said he forgot his son in the car seat while he was at work all day. The 22-month old boy died after many hours trapped in the vehicle. The father faces charges of murder and child cruelty.

Many more cases have been reported this summer. The Washington Post reported that a father in Sarasota, Florida said he left is 2-year-old daughter inside his vehicle while he ran inside his home to grab a phone charger. He fell asleep inside the house, leaving the toddler in a hot car for five hours. The child died and the father faces manslaughter charges. Earlier this month in Utah, an 11-month-old-girl, died after being accidentally left in a car by her mother.

Hot, parked cars are also deathtraps for dogs that are left alone. Last month a woman left her dog in a Walmart parking lot in Florida as she spent most of the day shopping in the store. Another customer found the dog dead of heat exhaustion as a result of the high temperatures in the vehicle. Earlier this summer in Phoenix, a dog died after having been left in a closed vehicle in a mall parking lot. Because dogs have built-in fur coats and can coal themselves only by panting, they can succumb to heatstroke in just 15 minutes and can suffer brain damage or die as a result, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Child and pet heatstroke deaths are becoming a common occurrence that is totally preventable. Safety tips provided by the NHTSA to prevent vehicle-related heatstroke deaths include the following:

• Never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or the engine running and the air conditioning is on.
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle, front and back, before locking the door and walking away.
• Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn’t show up as expected.
• Do things to serve as reminders that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing your cellphone, purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure a child is not accidentally left in the back of a vehicle.
• Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
• If you see a child alone in a vehicle, you should call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If the child is in distress, do whatever is necessary to get him or her out.

PETA recommends that if you notice a dog locked in a car on a hot day, check with businesses nearby for the owner. If no owner appears, call the police or local shelter. If the dog appears to be in distress, find help immediately.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law handle all types of personal injury cases, including truck, auto or bus accidents; medical malpractice, work injury; product or premises liability and car recall cases. We serve client in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

GM issues more recalls for safety issues

imagesGeneral Motors issued six more recalls on Friday totaling more than 312,000 vehicles. The recalls put GM’s total for the year to 66 recalls of just over 29 million cars and trucks.

Friday’s recalls included more than 215,000 Saturn Vue SUVs, 2002 through 2004 model years for an ignition key cylinder problem, saying the keys can be removed when the ignitions are not in the off position and the engine is still running. The problem has been linked two crashes. GM has discontinued this vehicle and the Saturn brand.

Other GM U.S. recalls that were announced Friday include:

• 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedans and 2013 Buick Encores in the U.S. for an issue with front seat belt pretensioner cables.
• 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala sedans for a problem with the front console storage compartment latch opening in a rear crash.
• 2009-2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2008 Pontiac G3 cars because brake fluid may not protect key components against corrosion, weakening brake response.
• 2014 Chevrolet Sparks for a problem with the lower control arm bolts.

GM also recalled a third group of SUVs last week to fix a fire hazard problem. If door switches are exposed to liquid, the circuit boards inside can short circuit overheat and even catch fire. This fire hazard was disclosed in documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the International Business Times, the NHTSA and GM received at least 242 complaints, including 28 fires. Affected vehicles include 2006 and 2007 Buick Rainer, 2006 and 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer, 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT, 2006 and 2007 GMC Envoy, 2006 GMC Envoy XL, 2006 and 2007 Isuzu Motors Ltd.

GM tried to fix the circuit problem on two separate occasions by putting a protective coating around the boards that control the power locks and window switches, which cost less than replacing the switches. After the coating was installed, GM was still receiving complaints that the fix wasn’t working. GM is telling owners of these vehicles to keep their vehicles parked outside rather than in garages until they can be fixed.

All of these recalls come on the heels of the massive GM recall of vehicles for ignition switch defects. The Wall Street Journal reported that in the first eight days of GMs compensation program related to the ignition switch problem, the company received about 120 claims, more than half of which involved deaths allegedly linked to GM cars that were recalled early this year to fix an ignition switch defect.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of a problem with a Chevy Cobalt or another GM vehicle, contact Marion Munley and the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529

Personal injury Lawyer warns drunk driving a factor in one-third of traffic fatalities

dont drinkA 2014 national drunk driving enforcement crackdown called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” goes into effect across the country from August 13 to September 1. Drunk driving is one of the deadliest and most often committed crimes. Although it is preventable, it has become a serious epidemic in our country.

The New York Daily News reported that just last week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s mother and cousin were hit head on by a drunk driver. Luckily both survived the horrific collision. Every day in America 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. In 2012, there were 10,322 fatalities in crashes involving a drunk driver, 31% of the total traffic fatalities for the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There were nearly 300,000 drunk-driving related injuries that same year.

1,168 children age 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. The NHTSA reported that 20 percent of those fatalities occurred as a result of drunk-driving crashes. The NHTSA also reported that of all of the children who died in drunk driving crashes, 54% were riding with the drunk driver.

Statistics released from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) that came from a 2012 FBI Crime Report, stated that each day, people drive drunk almost 300,000 times, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested. Results from a National Survey on Drug Use and Health released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds (23.4 percent).

What can you do to help prevent drunk driving?

• Prior to drinking, designate a non-drinking driver.
• Don’t let your friends or others drive impaired. Take their keys.
• If you have been drinking and don’t have a designated driver, get a ride with someone who is sober or call a taxi.
• If you are hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind guests to plan ahead and designate a driver. Offer plenty of alcohol-free beverages and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver.

The nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown, which begins next week, will include high-visibility enforcement supported by a national media campaign. According to the NHTSA, this promotion was designed to curb drunk driving throughout the high-accident period of August and through the Labor Day holiday weekend. In 2012, 147 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes over Labor Day weekend. Federal officials believe that increasing state and local enforcement efforts, raising public awareness, education, and social media use can make a difference to save more lives on roadways by reducing the number of alcohol impaired drivers. According to reports, past drive sober campaigns have resulted in a 20 percent decrease nationwide in alcohol-related crash fatalities.

If you have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver or another accident, call the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 855-866-5529 or visit www.munley.com.

Department of Transportation proposes new rules to protect bus passengers in rollover crashes

James Christopher MunleyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just proposed a new federal safety standard to protect passengers in motorcoaches and other large busses in the event of a rollover crash.

The new standard focuses on improvements to the structural design of large busses to ensure passengers are better protected and that there is ample space around them that remains intact and that the emergency exits remain operable in the event of a rollover.

750 million people travel by motorcoach each year, with 65 percent of travelers being students and senior citizens. A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation that was reported in their Motorcoach Safety Action Plan found that driver fatigue, vehicle rollover, occupant ejection, and operator maintenance issues contribute to the majority of motorcoach crashes, fatalities and injuries.

According to the D.O.T., rollovers were a contributor to 52% of the bus and motorcoach fatalities from 1999 to 2008. Passenger ejection during rollover was a major contributor to the fatality numbers, accounting for nearly half. One of the action items mentioned in the safety report was to evaluate and develop roof crush performance requirements to enhance structural integrity. Another was to develop performance requirements and to assess the safety benefits for stability control systems on motorcoaches to reduce rollover events.

The new safety standard proposed by the NHTSA would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level service. The new standard would:

• Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained as a survivable space in the event of a crash;
• Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings; and
• Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.

The D.O.T. is also planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability control technologies in motorcoaches and buses, which would prevent rollovers from occurring. In a statement released about the new standards, the NHTSA said that stronger bus structures, combined with seat belt use would help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law encourage you to make safety a top priority when booking your next motorcoach or bus trip by checking the following safety-related items before selecting a carrier:
• Safety performance history
• Safety rating
• Operating authority and insurance requirements
• Consumer complaints

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also provides a free Saferbus mobile app, which can be downloaded by IPhone and Android users.

If you have been in an accident involving a bus, either as a passenger in a bus or in a vehicle involved in a bus accident, call the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law. The attorneys at Munley Law have extensive experience in bus accident cases, and have successfully fought against some of the largest bus companies in the country. Visit www.munley.com for more information.