Causes of Truck Accidents

When a trucking accident results in serious injury or death, assigning liability for victims’ losses is critical, and depends on accurately determining the cause or causes underlying the crash. Evidence degrades quickly, and witness’s memories become unreliable after a short time. For that reason, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrive at the scene of a serious truck accident shortly after the crash is reported. Investigators from the trucking company’s insurance company may arrive even before the NTSB. As a result, there is good data available on causes of truck accidents.

What are the primary reasons for trucking accidents?

Crash reconstruction experts agree that most truck accidents are complex events, involving more than one causative factor and two or more vehicles. It is common for more than one factor to contribute to the crash. A truck-crash causation study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that a majority of truck accidents involved fatigue, alcohol, and speeding. When breaking out details overall, however, the study pointed to a much wider range of factors that increase the risk a large truck will be in an accident, including some that may have occurred long before the accident.

  • Driver error was considered a critical reason for 87% of the accidents, and includes two major categories—the driver’s condition before the crash, and decisions made by the driver. The most common critical events resulting from driver error were driving out of the lane, crossing into another lane or off the road and loss of control due to speeding. The category of driver condition includes poor training, driver fatigue, alcohol, illness, and use of legal or illegal drugs. Poor decisions on the part of the driver include traveling too fast for conditions, responding to work pressure from carrier, inattention (distracted driving due to texting, eating, or other activity), following too close, making an illegal maneuver, and responding to an internal distraction in the vehicle.
  • Equipment failure, with brake failure the lead in the category, followed by tire failure.
  • Carrier negligence, a category that includes inadequate driver training and hiring, improper load distribution, pressure to drive longer than legal hours, and failure to maintain equipment.
  • Environmental issues, such as poor road conditions, improperly marked construction zones, and defective roadways can be contributing factors.

Assigning liability for injuries and death

Truck accident injury victims and families of deceased are entitled to compensation from negligent parties. Sorting out the degree to which each party is liable for the damages can be challenging. A person who has a serious injury or death claim should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident in order to ensure a fair settlement or result at trial.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Anesthesia Errors in the 21st Century

Since its introduction in the mid-19th century to the present day, anesthesia has become notably safer. The first anesthetic compounds were explosive, dosages were not established, and unexpected negative effects included fatal aspiration of stomach contents.

Today, anesthesia is administered by anesthesiologists (MDs) and certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) with extensive specialized training in the field. The operating room (OR) is equipped with devices that monitor blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and actions of the heart and lungs during surgery. The anesthesiologist can choose from a range of drugs proven to be safe and reliable.

Why do patients still die from anesthesia?

Despite the abundance of knowledge about anesthesia drugs and their effects on humans, about allergic reactions and antidotes and about techniques and devices to keep airways clear during surgery, deaths and serious injuries still result from anesthesia. Some are unpredictable and inexplicable. Others, resulting from human error, are medical malpractice. And still others are the result of defective drugs or medical devices.

It is critical that the patient’s airway remain open to receive oxygen. During general anesthesia (when the patient is unconscious, paralyzed and can’t breath normally), the anesthesiologist protects the airway by inserting an endotracheal tube into the trachea (windpipe). If the doctor carelessly inserts the tube into the esophagus instead of the trachea, the patient’s oxygen level will drop and the patient will suffer cardiac arrest and, if the airway is not cleared within four to six minutes, brain damage. A well-equipped OR will have a device to verify correct placement of the endotracheal tube. When a procedure is done in an office, the risk of error rises.

Anesthesia is an entire branch of medical science, not just a class of (potentially toxic) drugs. The anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, and anesthesia assistants are responsible for observing the patient, noting any unanticipated changes after administration of a drug and responding accordingly. Fatigue, stress, inattention, or poor training may result in operating room staff’s failure to identify an emergency and take appropriate measures.

One of the earliest noted causes of anesthesia-relate death was aspiration of stomach contents; it continues to threaten patients today, especially those who are pregnant, obese, or have bowel obstructions. Special techniques will protect those patients. Another human error is overuse of a sedative during a minor procedure, causing a patient to stop breathing and die. Strong sedatives are often administered by poorly trained staff in a doctor’s or dentist’s office. After the anesthetic is stopped, the anesthesiologist’s or anesthetist’s failure to administer drugs to reverse the paralyzing effect may result in the patient’s failure to resume breathing.

Mechanical devices used during administration of anesthesia are very reliable, but the doctor/nurse anesthetist is responsible for going through a checklist to ensure the device is working properly and avoid death or injury from failure of the anesthesia machine, ventilator, or monitor.

A family that has lost a loved one, or a patient who suffered brain injury or another serious injury as a result of an anesthesia error, may be entitled to compensation from the hospital, anesthesiologist, anesthetist, or manufacturer of defective medical equipment. If a survivor is considering a personal injury claim, it is important to work with a law firm with the resources to pursue a complex, expensive case, and a successful record in personal injury law.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Fire Injuries: the Third Leading Fatal Home Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fires are the third leading cause of fatal home injuries. Every day sees an average of 435 children treated for fire injuries. Two of them will die. Most victims die from inhaling smoke and toxic gases, not from burn injuries. Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related death and cooking is the most common cause of residential fire. Statisticians can break down the cost of injuries, demographics (children four and under are most at risk of fire injury or death), ethnicity, economics, and social factors.

We also know that most home fires happen during the winter months, alcohol is often a contributing factor, and over one-third of home fire deaths happen in structures without working smoke alarms; one-quarter resulted from fires in homes in which smoke alarms were present but not operational. While there are numbers regarding losses and cost there are none to describe the pain and suffering of a family that loses a child, or a victim who survives but suffers serious burn injuries.

Completely preventable tragic accidents

The steps property owners and families can take to prevent home fires and related injuries and deaths are simple and inexpensive. Take the time to do the following and protect your family:

  • Install smoke alarms in or near every sleeping area and on every level. Check batteries monthly.
  • Discuss fire with your family members. Have an escape plan, with two exits from every room in the house. This might require investing in hanging ladders for second-story bedrooms. Have a meeting place outside of the house. Be sure everyone understands the importance of getting out without stopping for pets or personal belongings.
  • Discuss safe cooking practices, including never setting flammable materials on the stove.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and make sure everyone knows how to use it.
  • Enforce a no-smoking-in-bedrooms rule.
  • Be clear that matches and lighters are not toys.

Fire injuries resulting from tenants’ or landlords’ negligence

Owners of rental property, including multi-family units, college dorms, and apartment buildings, are responsible for providing fire exits and smoke alarms. Specific requirements for inspections and permits vary by community and state. A landlord who fails to provide and maintain smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire alarms, or exits may be liable for damages to tenants injured as a result. A personal injury lawyer who takes on a fire injury or wrongful death claim should have resources available to conduct a thorough investigation. If a defective smoke alarms or other poorly designed equipment was to blame, the manufacturer may be liable. A landlord who failed to provide a safe building can be sued. In both those situations, insurance companies for the defendants will handle the cases and either agree to settlements or go to court.

Tenants are themselves responsible for taking reasonable precautions to prevent fires. A tenant who causes property damage, injury, or death through dangerous cooking or smoking practices, disabling smoke alarms, or blocking exits can be sued or charged with negligent homicide. If a tenant charge with a crime cannot afford a criminal defense lawyer, the state will provide a public defender. Again, the outcome of a civil or criminal case will depend heavily on the quality of the defense investigation.

When someone suffers injury or loss in a fire

It is important, if a person is injured or suffers another loss in a house or apartment fire, that a thorough investigation be conducted immediately, before evidence degrades or disappears, and witness memories become unreliable. It is common practice for personal injury law firms to offer free initial consultations and, if a firm takes a case, to arrange for that investigation. Therefore, person who has been injured, suffered loss of property, or lost a loved one to fire, should contact a firm as soon as possible afterwards.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Dealing with Your Insurer after an Accident

Mount Laurel Personal Injury Attorneys

In 2010, Allstate, one of the nation’s largest insurers, paid $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it by 41 states. The lawsuit claimed there were inconsistencies in how Allstate used a claims software called “Colossus” to calculate claim payments in injury accidents. While Allstate agreed to standardize the use of Colossus, the claims software is still used today – and not just by Allstate. Colossus is used by many large and smaller insurance companies in order to determine claims payouts in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian knockdowns, and other kinds of accidents where personal injuries are involved.

What is Colossus?

Colossus is a proprietary software used by some of the nation’s largest insurers (MetLife, Farmers, and the Hartford) for estimating claims in personal injury cases. In many ways, Colossus acts like a database for providing a baseline range of costs associated with different kinds of injuries that are similar in kind. To begin, a claims agent selects certain variables and enters them into Colossus – variables like “broken femur, “concussion,” lost wages, and the kind of accident you were in. Using pre-determined algorithms, Colossus then estimates the amount you should be paid based on costs associated with injuries that are similar to yours in your situation.

However, since there are certain questions associated with each variable entry, what is entered determines how each variable interfaces with value drivers considered by Colossus. Value drivers include such things as the kind of injury involved, hospitalization, its duration, treatment, etc. After analyzing costs associated with these value drivers, Colossus provides an estimate for a claims payout.

Questioning the Estimates of Colossus in Injury Claim Payouts

In this way, the results provided by Colossus depend in part on the variables entered by a claims agent in the first place. If your broken shoulder results in chronic pain or the weakness in your hand, the estimate provided by Colossus may not take into account these other factors that are a part of your injury. Critics of Colossus have pointed to this aspect of Colossus, though its supporters claim the software has been improved. Additionally, the manner in which Colossus determines an average payout has come under fire since insurers can tweak results by selecting from the low end of what is considered an average payout.

Why It’s Important to Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney

Insurance companies don’t always tell you that they’ve used a computer software to estimate your claim. And, since the result provided by Colossus is dependent upon what a claims agent enters, the estimate is subject to error. Further, Colossus does not take into account pain and suffering, especially in cases where an injury results in chronic pain or a loss in strength or the use of an arm or a leg. For these reasons, it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to challenge the estimates provided by Colossus and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck wreck, motorcycle crash, your slip and fall, contact Mount Laurel personal injury attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today to discuss your case.