Munley News

New truck driver rest rules: a step backward?

Trucking Lawyer Just last year,  new laws  were put in place regarding the number of hours commercial truck drivers can spend on the road during the work week. The laws were designed to decrease the number of accidents caused by sleep-deprived drivers dozing off at the wheel, and thus promote public safety. Under the 2013 laws, drivers were allowed to drive for a maximum of 11 hours per day, and 70 hours per week. Drivers who reached the 70 hour maximum within a week could resume work only after taking a 34 hour break, including two nights of rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

This week, however, a provision included in the new spending bill passed in Congress will suspend some of these safety rules, pending a study of their effectiveness. Under the new rules, truckers could conceivably work up to 82 hours per week, and are no longer required to have two nights of rest before returning to work.

Those in Favor of Suspending Trucking Safety Measures

The author of this provision is Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).   According to Collins, the previous rest-rules had some unforeseen consequences that demand further study.  She argues that the safest time for truckers to be on the road is overnight, when there are fewer passenger vehicles and less traffic. The previous regulation, she says, ended up forcing more truck drivers to operate during daytime hours when highways are more congested, thereby increasing the risk of accidents.

Collins’s amendment is supported by the trucking industry and the American Trucking Association, while safety advocacy groups like the Truck Safety Coalition and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, as well as Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, fervently oppose it.

Those Opposed, and “Seriously Concerned”

“I am seriously concerned that this suspension will put lives at risk,” Foxx said last week,  urging lawmakers to drop the measure.

Jackie Gillan, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated, “We’re appalled at the deal-making and horse-trading behind closed doors and out of the public view. Some elected officials think it’s acceptable to bend to the demands of corporate trucking interests, and it’s acceptable to make political bargains that have life and death consequences.”

“This is a major step backwards,”  said Daphne Izer of Lisbon, Maine, who founded Parents Against Tired Truckers.

Driver Fatigue Leads to Truck Accidents

The concern about truck driver fatigue  is certainly not unfounded. Long-haul truckers are under pressure to meet deadlines and are typically paid by the mile; they only get paid for time spent driving.  Too often, tired drivers opt to stay at the wheel rather than rest, and end up drifting off to sleep and off of the road.

Trucking safety regulations drew public attention in June, 2014, when an accident involving a  Wal Mart truck seriously injured comedian  Tracy Morgan and killed James McNair.  The truck driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel after having gone more than 24 hours without sleep, and rammed into the actors’ limousine.

At our firm alone, we have seen numerous truck accident cases in which a drowsy driver was to blame for devastating damage. In October of this year, attorneys Marion Munley, Caroline Munley, and Julia Munley achieved a settlement of $3.8 million for their client who was involved in a devastating crash with two tractor trailers. Kyle Kelly, then 23, was driving home from work at approximately 3 a.m. when a tractor trailer crossed the highway median and struck Kelly’s vehicle. Disabled in the roadway, Kelly was then hit by a second large truck traveling at 67 mph. Cases like this one refute arguments that disregard the danger posed by sleep-deprived truckers.

If you or a loved one have been in an accident involving a large truck, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers at Munley Law by calling 855-866-5529.

Who is most likely to be in a fatal car crash?

logoAre you among the nation’s most or least likely to be in a deadly car wreck? According to the Georgia Injury Law Blog and Health Day, young males in newer large vehicles are most likely to survive a head-on collision, according to a new study by Indiana University’s School of Public Health. This may sound surprising, as young people are more likely to be involved in these types of crashes than other age groups, and men are involved in more fatal crashes per year than women.  Men tend to drive more miles per year than women, on average, and are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But, of the 1,100 serious accidents studied by Indiana University, young men driving larger vehicles had a better chance of surviving.  Drivers in cars were found to be 9 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers in SUV’s, and 17 times more likely to die than drivers of light trucks.

Other factors play an important role in determining who is most at risk. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529 today for a free consultation.

car crash deaths

The Munley Lawyers look at some of the factors that determine who is most at risk for a fatal car crash

 

 

 

Carbon monoxide is the #1 cause of accidental poisoning

carbon monoxideYou would not move into a house or apartment that did not have a smoke detector – but what about a carbon monoxide detector?  Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and often goes undetected until it is too late.

A new law in Pennsylvania, the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standards Act,   requires landlords to have carbon monoxide alarms installed in all of their units by June, 2015.  Pennsylvania is reportedly among the states with the most accidental carbon monoxide poisonings in the country. Whether law requires it or not, it is best practice for all homeowners and renters to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. They are generally inexpensive and it is the only means of detecting an otherwise undetectable substance that could cause serious harm or death. CO detectorWhat is carbon monoxide poisoning? How does carbon monoxide poisoning occur?  Carbon monoxide leaks when a device isn’t burning all of its fuel. The gas enters the blood stream and prevents the blood from absorbing necessary oxygen. Gas stoves, fires, heating boilers, gas-powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, and solid fuel-powered water heaters are all potential sources of carbon monoxide. The problem arises when such appliances are poorly maintained, not serviced and housed in poorly ventilated areas. Space heaters are one of the most popular ways to stay warm when the winter weather sets in.  But, if a heater is not properly ventilated, if it is used improperly or malfunctions, it can cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

Leaving your car running in the garage is another way that carbon monoxide can seep into your home. In the winter it can be tempting to let the car warm up for a few minutes before leaving the house, but if you do so inside an attached garage, even with the garage door open, the poisonous gas can leak into the house.

Earlier this week, two people were killed and twelve were poisoned by carbon monoxide in a recording studio in Passaic, New Jersey. Witnesses describe that two musicians hit the floor while they were playing – “they just dropped.”

Michael Shafrin, the city’s fire prevention official, said the deaths could have been prevented by a carbon monoxide detector. Commercial buildings in NJ were not required to have them, but the Passaic City Council is looking to introduce new legislation that would require carbon monoxide detectors in all multi-use buildings.

A few days later, a man, woman, and four-year-old boy were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a heater in Pensacola, Florida.

The best way to prevent these kinds of tragedies is to install a carbon monoxide detector, and to always use heating devices safely. But, early detection of poisoning symptoms can help prevent fatalities. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. The symptoms are often mistaken for common illness, but if multiple people in the same building are experiencing the same symptoms, that may be a sign.

These cases of poisoning can be the result of a product defect, or of negligence on the part of the property owner. If you or a loved one have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning on someone else’s property or in a public building, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment and pain and suffering.  To learn more about your legal options,  contact the carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.

Trucks crash into buildings across Northeast Pennsylvania

truck accident lawyerMany drivers find that sharing the road with large trucks can be nerve-wracking. But, most people never expect a tractor trailer to come hurtling into their dining rooms. What might sound like a freak-accident has actually occurred several times in the last few weeks in our region. This week, local news outlets reported multiple incidents involving large trucks crashing into people’s homes, and one crashing into a beloved local restaurant.

earthquake quote 2

Two of the victims in two separate crashes said they initially mistook the impact of the truck for an earthquake

In Luzerne County, a garbage truck spun out of control on an icy road and slammed into a house in Dallas, pushing the building off of its foundation. The house was deemed uninhabitable and was condemned. Neighbors and community members have reached out to help the woman who lived there, as she is expecting her second child in three weeks. Earlier the same week, a tractor trailer crashed into a home in Shamokin, Northumberland County.   Neighbors say that tractor trailers often get stuck in this neighborhood, and that this is the second time that particular house was damaged by a large truck.  In Clinton County, a  milk truck damaged the home of two brothers.  And, Café Rinaldi of  Old Forge, PA, closed after a truck came through the wall of the restaurant where two patrons had just finished their meal.    Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt in these recent truck crashes, but the property damage was extensive, and at least one home was condemned. It has not been reported what caused all of these truck accidents, but three of them were attributed in part to icy road conditions.

So how common are crashes like these? The Storefront Safety Council reports that approximately 20,000 vehicle-into-building crashes occur each year, but their research is limited to collisions between vehicles and commercial or nonresidential buildings, like storefronts and restaurants, as these are more common. It does not include crashes between vehicles and residential homes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 144 people died in collisions with buildings in 2012, but does not report the number of people who were injured, or the number of crashes where no one was hurt.

If you or a loved one have been involved in any kind of truck accident, call the truck accident lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.

Watch your step! Lawyers warn, it’s slip and fall season

pedestrian accidentIt’s slick out there today. Winter in our home region of Northeast Pennsylvania means the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks are likely to be slippery this time of year.
Slip and fall injuries are more common than you might think – according the National Floor Safety Institute,  8 million people end up in the emergency room each year as the result of a fall. Slip and fall incidents are also the leading cause of workers compensation claims and lost days from work.

The results of a slip and fall can be very serious. Injuries can range from sprains and bruises to broken bones, back, neck, spine, or brain injuries.

Elderly people are even more at risk for falls. The New York Times  recently published a fascinating two-part series titled, “After the Fall,” illustrating the risks faced by America’s aging population, and how a fall can be a life-altering event. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among the elderly, and many older adults who suffer a fall can no longer live independently or enjoy the same quality of life.

Can an establishment be held accountable for your slip and fall?

Business owners do have some degree of responsibility to keep their customers and employees safe. Depending on the circumstances, a business or property owner may be liable if unsafe conditions lead to a serious slip and fall injury.

Jervon White, a woman from Illinois, slipped on some liquid at a TGI Fridays in November, and is now suing the restaurant chain, seeking damages for her substantial medical bills.

In the winter, and especially during the holiday shopping season, businesses and retailers may have a more difficult time keeping their premises safe for customers and employees. Hordes of customers tracking in snow and slush make store floors slippery, and a staff struggling to keep up with the crowds might not immediately address the hazard.  Crowds of shoppers also mean an increased likelihood of hazardous clutter: stacked boxes, merchandise,  stray shopping carts and baskets can call cause a trip and fall.  Outside, parking lots and sidewalks can become icy very quickly.

Tips for avoiding a slip and fall injury

  • Stay alert – watch for icy spots outside of stores, in parking lots, and on sidewalks.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots – carry dress shoes separately until you reach your destination.
  • Keep your hands free and out of your pockets – keeping your hands free will help you keep your balance, and brace yourself in case of a slip.
  • Take your time – test questionable surfaces without using the full weight of your body before proceeding. Don’t run or jog on icy roads.
  • Use handrails whenever possible.
  • If you see a slip and fall hazard while in a store or a restaurant – like wet floor without a “wet floor” sign – bring it to an employee or manager’s attention.

If you have suffered a slip and fall injury, contact the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.

Surprising Car Accident Facts from the Munley Lawyers

logoCar accidents are a leading cause of death in the United States today. The facts below might surprise you. For instance, you may already be aware that drunk, drowsy, and  distracted driving are three of the major causes of fatal car crashes in the United States. But, did you know our home state of Pennsylvania is #5  in the country when it comes to the annual cost (medical and lost wages) of auto accidents?

 

Car accident facts1

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law provide some statistics and facts on deadly car crashes.

 

For  more information on car accident statistics, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.  If you have been injured in a car accident, call the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529 for a free consultation.

TAKATA UPDATE: More vehicles recalled, Takata has yet to identify problem

Car Accident AttorneysOn Tuesday, December 2, airbag manufacturer Takata Corp. responded to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ultimatum  by refusing to extend their recall nationwide.

Takata has already recalled over 14 million vehicles globally, and 8 million vehicles in the U.S.  from a number of states in regions with humid climates. Humidity is thought to be a major environmental factor that causes the airbag inflator to malfunction and explode, sending metal shrapnel into the cabin and causing serious injury.  The NHTSA called for a nationwide recall of driver side airbags, as some of the injuries attributed to Takata airbags occurred outside the recall zone.

takata quote 1Takata defiantly maintains their stance that a nationwide recall is not warranted. On Wednesday, December 3, Takata publically acknowledged in a hearing before a House subcommittee that they have not yet definitively identified the root cause of the airbag defect.

Understandably, House lawmakers concerned with public safety are frustrated with Takata and their unwillingness to expand a recall on their airbags. Billy Long, (R-Missouri), likened it to driving while having a shotgun pointed at you.

Despite Takata’s stance, Honda (Takata’s biggest customer, according to USA Today) will expand the recall on its vehicles to include automobiles from all 50 states. Now, Honda will face the challenge of acquiring enough replacement parts to fix the recalled airbags. Right now, Takata cannot supply enough replacement airbags to keep up with the demand created by the recall.  Honda will be working with other suppliers to try to solve that problem.

In the days following, Chrysler, Mazda, and Ford agreed to expand the recall on certain models of their vehicles as well.

To see if a recall has been issued on your vehicle, visit the NHTSA website. Click here to learn more about Takata recall lawsuits

If you or a loved one have been in a car accident and suffered injuries related to a possible Takata airbag defect, contact Munley Law at 855-866-5529

Game changer: player’s tragic death highlights concussion problem

sports injury lawyersAs you may have heard by now, on Sunday, November 30,  22-year-old Ohio State University football player Kosta Karageorge was found dead in a dumpster in Columbus, OH, as the result of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Preceding his death, he sent his mother some troubling text messages, apologizing, and saying that his concussions had “messed up” his head.

Throughout his athletic career in football and wrestling, Karageorge suffered multiple concussions, the most recent of which occurred just weeks before his death. As we have observed earlier this year, it turns out that concussions are not uncommon for athletes at the professional, college, and high school levels. In fact, it has been described as an “epidemic.” It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of student athletes suffer from concussions each year, and many more likely go unreported and untreated. Often, the effects of these types of injuries can’t be healed with a cast. They are lasting, and they are serious.

The lawsuit that thousands of former professional football players have filed against the NFL has gotten national media attention.  LeBron James publically announced last month that he would not allow his children to play football because he believes it is too dangerous. The famous basketball player reportedly encourages his children to engage in all different athletic sports – except football and hockey.

News outlets have reported that suicide is more prevalent among college students than in other groups of the population. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center lists suicide as the second leading cause of death among college-age young adults. Head injuries and concussions significantly increase the likelihood of depression and violent or self destructive behaviors, as well as suicidal thoughts.  It is troubling, then, that as our young people get older or go away to school, we talk ad nauseam about the dangers of drugs, drinking and driving, but not about the risks to their psychological health. It seems, especially among athletes, this is a subject that has gotten too little attention.

All of this information illuminated by recent events practically begs us to reevaluate the way we think about sports injuries and mental health. We must respond by educating and training athletes and coaches on how to prevent, identify, and respond to concussive injuries. We must treat unseen head injuries as seriously as we would any other sports injury, if not more so. And, we must acknowledge illnesses such as depression with openness rather than stigma.

To learn more about sports-related injuries and the law, click here.  If your child has suffered a sports-related head injury, contact the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529 for a free consultation.

Pregnant workers treated worse than drunk drivers? Discrimination case goes to Supreme Court

personal injury lawyersWorkplace discrimination, in one form or another, is, unfortunately, a common occurrence  for women in the workforce today.  The most recent case to make national headlines involves former United Parcel Service driver Peggy Young, who will take her pregnancy discrimination case to the Supreme Court later this week.

When Young, a resident of Maryland, became pregnant with her third child, she was instructed by her doctor not to lift more than 20 lbs. She requested light duty assignment, as was offered to her company’s employees who had been injured on the job or affected by other types of disability and work restrictions. Young was denied, and placed on unpaid leave.  She lost her health benefits and seven months of wages.  Young sued her employer for pregnancy discrimination, arguing that she should be eligible for the same accommodations afforded to non-pregnant employees with similar limitations. She lost twice, but the Supreme Court will hear her case on Wednesday, December 3.

Young sued under federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which states that,

women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same … as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.

UPS initially won in court, as Young was unable to prove that her employer discriminated against her because of her pregnancy.  According to the New York Times, the company maintained that their policy, though not “charitable,” was lawful, and that they have no legal obligation to offer accommodation to pregnant employees. Their policy only applied to workers who were injured at work, or who were covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or who had his/her driver’s license suspended and could not drive.

That’s right – under this policy, an employee convicted of drunk driving and therefore unable to drive his/her delivery vehicle would be entitled to benefits, while a pregnant woman unable to lift heavy loads would not. As you can imagine, this seemed wrong to Young, and to many others.

UPS has since changed its policy, and will begin offering light duty assignment to pregnant workers starting in January of 2015.

Young’s case puts the spotlight on how women’s roles in the workforce have changed in recent decades, and employment laws have not yet caught up. Women are the primary breadwinners in 40% of households with children. About 65% of women work during their first pregnancy, and  many are remaining at work longer in their pregnancies and returning sooner after giving birth, according to The Washington Post. The need for accommodations or duty-modifications apply mainly to women working lower-wage jobs that require some amount of physical labor or prolonged standing.

Even more amazing is the fact that Young has gained support from both ends of the political spectrum. While cases involving women’s rights tend to pit the political left and right against each other, this case has united groups from both the left and right in support of Peggy Young.  On one hand, women’s rights groups are concerned with female workers not being forced from their jobs, or forced to choose between a job and having a child.  And, on the other hand,  pro-life groups  are concerned with the pressure working women may feel  to terminate a pregnancy if they are faced with the possibility of losing their jobs.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  Supreme Court judge and bold women’s rights advocate commented on this case in an interview earlier this fall.

While UPS’s previous policy may have been legal, their subsequent change in policy and the recently modified guidelines published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reflect that the laws are due for a change.  These new guidelines, as Young’s lawyer says, are “helpful, but not the same thing as a Supreme Court decision.”  Women, who comprise nearly half of the American workforce, should not have to fear being forced from their positions when they become parents.  The decision in this case has the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of many American families.   We will have to wait to see if the Supreme Court will agree with the EEOC or not.

As the case goes to court this week, we will stay tuned to find out what the results will be.

Personal injury lawyer warns of 10 deadliest jobs and other unsafe work environments

Workers compensationThousands of workers die from injuries inflicted at work each year. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 4,405 workers died on the job in 2013. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA said that “making a living shouldn’t have to cost you your life. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities to protect their workers.”

MSN News recently published America’s 10 Deadliest Jobs. The job with the highest fatality rate according to that list is Loggers. This is the 2nd year that loggers have topped the list of fatal jobs.

Here is the complete list of America’s 10 Deadliest Jobs, 2013
1. Logging Workers
2. Fishers And Related Fishing Workers
3. Aircraft Pilots And Flight Engineers
4. Roofers
5. Refuse And Recyclable Material Collectors
6. Mining Machine Operators
7. Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers
8. Farmers, Ranchers, And Other Agricultural Managers
9. Electrical Power-Line Installers And Repairers
10. Construction Laborers

According to MSN, the greatest numbers of work fatalities in 2013 were caused by transportation accidents, which accounted for 40% of all work-related deaths. OSHA reported that fatal transportation incidents accounted for about 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2013. Of the 1,740 transportation-related fatal injuries, nearly 3 out of every 5 were roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles.

Forbes Magazine reported that although firefighter is not among the 10 occupations with the highest fatality rate, fatal work injuries among firefighters increased significantly in 2013 to 53 from 18 in 2013. This is contributed to several major incidents, including the Yarnell Hill wildfires in Arizona, in which 19 firefighters lost their lives.

If you have been injured on the job or have developed a work-related illness, the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help you get the compensation you deserve. Workers’ Compensation benefits are designed to cover most injuries or illnesses directly related to your job. Workers’ Compensation could help cover a portion of your lost wages, medical care, and rehab, and also provide benefits for permanent debilitating injuries and even death benefits to dependents.

If you or a loved one has been injured at work, act quickly. You may lose the right to Workers’ Compensation benefits if you do not report the injury within certain time frames set by law. Call the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law today at 855-866-5529.