Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Drivers have been distracted since the first driver got behind the wheel of the first car. But the types and frequency of distractions have definitely increased since the advent of smart phones, navigational systems, and other hand-held devices. In fact, about 431,000 people were injured due to distracted driving in 2014 alone. A MA car accident lawyer can help you determine how to  proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

The reality is, our entire life is at our fingertips (or rather, in our pockets) at all times. What better way to break up the boredom and monotony of a long drive than to text a friend, check your email or Facebook, or make a quick phone call? Unfortunately, taking your eyes or focus from the road, even for a few seconds, can be deadly. Even placing your smart phone on the dash or passenger seat can pose problems. When the phone lights up or dings to alert you to a text message or email, it’s hard to resist the temptation to glance at your phone.

Is Hands-Free Safe?

The best way to prevent distractions from smart phones is to keep your phone in your glove box, purse, or somewhere else that is not visible while you’re driving. If you absolutely must make a call, send a text, check directions, or read an email, pull over to a safe location or ask a passenger to do it for you. You can also use hands-free technology to make a call or send a text, but there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the safety of hands-free devices; although they keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, a distracted mind can be just as dangerous.

How to Identify, and Avoid, Distracted Drivers

Even if you are the most responsible driver on the road, there’s no guarantee that the drivers with whom you share the road are also responsible. In fact, there’s a better chance that most of them have read or sent at least one text while driving. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the other cars and trucks on the road. Although you can’t always tell when a driver is distracted, there are several behaviors that can help you identify a distracted driver. Many of these behaviors are similar to those of intoxicated drivers. Avoid driving too close to a driver who is:

  • Drifting out of the appropriate lane and swerving to get back.
  • Slowing down without actively braking, when there doesn’t appear to be a good reason to do so.
  • Slamming on the brakes.
  • Driving erratically.

Proving that a driver was distracted at the time of an accident isn’t always an easy task. However, if you believe that a distracted driver crashed into you, the best thing to do is call the police. If law enforcement finds evidence that the driver may have been using a smart phone or other hand-held device, he or she can issue a citation. If you decide to file a personal injury claim, this citation can be of immense help to your case. The police report can also be used to build a successful case. Evidence of smart phone use while driving may include:

  • Usage records from the cellular carrier
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • Surveillance or traffic cam footage

An experienced Boston motor vehicle accident attorney will know how to look for evidence that can help you win your case. Continue reading

It’s common knowledge that accidents involving tractor-trailers (otherwise known as 18 wheelers and big rigs) can be deadly. Due to a large truck’s sheer weight and size (up to 80,000 pounds), drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles are disproportionately at risk of serious injury and death when involved in a collision involving a large truck. But what many people are not aware of are the multiple blind spots, on both sides and behind tractor trailers. Knowing that these blind spots are there, where they are located, and how to ensure that truck drivers can see your vehicle, may just save your life.

Avoid the “Danger Zones”

When driving beside or behind a tractor-trailer, avoiding the “danger zones” can dramatically reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. Danger zones are located:

  • 20 feet in front of the truck;
  • on both sides of the truck;
  • and 30 feet behind the truck.

Interestingly, the blind spot on a tractor-trailer’s left side is slightly smaller than that on the right. For this reason, it is usually safest to pass on the left side. A MA trucking accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a large truck.

In addition to being aware of the blind spots, drivers of passenger vehicles should also take into account the extended time that it takes large trucks to come to a complete stop, up to 40 percent longer than passenger vehicles. If you find yourself in a truck’s danger zone, consider decelerating or accelerating (whichever option is safest) to remove yourself from the blind spot.

Trucking Accident Statistics

Trucking accidents kill thousands of people in the United States annually. Causes range from driver negligence to equipment failure. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a trucking accident.

  • In 2015, 3,852 people died in accidents involving large trucks.
  • About 69 percent of these fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles, while 16 percent were truck occupants, and 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
  • The number of people killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2015 was up 22 percent from the lowest year on record, 2009.
  • Common causes of trucking accidents include, driver fatigue, improper truck maintenance, distracted driving, equipment failure, driver texting, speeding, and inadequate training.

In addition to avoiding “danger zones,” you can stay safe when driving near tractor-trailers by following the tips below:

  • Avoid making abrupt lane changes in front of a large truck.
  • Don’t maneuver to the right of a large truck while it is making a right-hand turn.
  • Misjudging the speed of an approaching truck at an intersection can be deadly; avoid making a left turn in this scenario.
  • When a large truck begins to change lanes, accelerate or decelerate as appropriate.
  • Beware of air turbulence and cross-wind when passing a truck.
  • Use caution when merging into traffic ahead of an oncoming truck.
  • Do not drive between two large trucks.
  • Never abandon a vehicle in a travel lane.
  • If your car breaks down, pull safely onto the shoulder of the road.

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Federal regulators have recently proposed new legislation that would require large commercial vehicles to be fitted with devices that limit their speed. Commercial truck accidents often have devastating consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), such devices could save lives and significant money, to the tune of about $1 billion in fuel costs annually. Safety advocates are thrilled with the proposal, but not everyone is on board.

The notice of the proposal, issued jointly by the NHTSA and FMCSA, includes several key points. Among them are:

  • The speed-limiting devices would be required for commercial vehicles weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds.
  • The ‘speed limiters’ must be set to a specified speed, but they must also include diagnostic equipment that shows the current speed, previous settings, and the dates on which the settings were changed.
  • Speed limiters must remain installed for the entire service life of the vehicle.
  • The designated speed limit maximums are still under consideration. Officials are currently considering 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour.

Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This means that they take more time to come to a complete stop, are difficult to maneuver, and can be especially deadly in a collision involving a passenger vehicle. The risk of accidents, and the damage produced by those accidents, is significantly greater than that of passenger vehicles. Contact a Boston Trucking Accident Lawyer Today.

What’s the Safest Speed Limit for a Large Truck?

Studies have shown that keeping the speed limit at or under 68 mph could save up to 96 lives annually, at or under 65 mph could save up to 214 lives annually, and at or under 60 mph could save up to 498 lives annually. Although this may sound like a no-brainer to some, many trucking companies and organizations vehemently oppose the limiters, claiming they could actually become dangerous in certain situations. For example, if a truck driver has to accelerate to avoid a hazard but cannot because of the speed limiter, it could result in disastrous consequences. Such organizations argue that training is the answer, not technology. While this may be true, the reality is that many Massachusetts truck drivers do not receive adequate training. And human error is always a concern, even for the safest drivers on the road. Continue reading

A truck driver is receiving thousands in compensation after his employer recently fired him after he refused to violate federal safety regulations in order to make his delivery on time.  The driver was making a delivery from Massachusetts to New Jersey when he became concerned he would not complete the delivery on schedule without breaking safety regulations and putting his safety and the safety of others at risk.  The driver thought he planned a route that would allow him to run on time without breaking regulations, but his employer fired him as a result.  His employer, NFI Interactive Logistics Inc., violated the anti-retaliation clauses of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, as found by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  As a punishment, OSHA is demanding the company reinstate the driver, as well as pay him over $276,000 in back wages and damages.

The driver was assigned by NFI to deliver a truckload of Poland Spring bottled water from Northborough, Massachusetts to Jersey City, New Jersey on August 15, 2012.  The trip was prolonged to due severe weather, including thunderstorms, flooding, heavy traffic, and multiple accidents.  With the delay, the driver did not believe that he would be able to make the delivery and still get home without violating the hours of service restrictions included in the U.S. Department of Transportations Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.  Specific hours of service rules depend on if the driver is carrying property or passengers, but all rules limit the amount of hours a truck driver can drive consecutively.  When the driver realized that he would be driving longer than he was technically permitted, he arranged to deliver the water to a closer customer facility near Kearny, New Jersey.  NFI opposed that the driver making the delivery Kearny.  It was later arranged that another driver would pick the load up from Kearny and drive it to its final destination in Jersey City.

Both NFI and the customer approved this change.  The driver made the delivery to Kearny and successfully returned to Northborough, MA without violating the hours of service restrictions.  However, the following day, NFI terminated him for “insubordination”.  Afterward, the driver filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA to which the agency found the driver had a valid complaint.  In a statement made by Kim Stille, OSHA’s New England regional administrator, “The driver found a way to do his job and ensure motor carrier safety. Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a link slip. The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employee—including refusing to violate safety regulations—without fear of termination or other retaliation.”  OSHA is ordering NFI Interactive Logistics respond to a laundry list of remedial actions including: Continue reading

Winter weather cannot be avoided in Boston, and snowy or icy conditions make driving exceedingly hazardous. In total, motor vehicle crashes accounted for 2.3 million injuries and 32,675 fatalities on U.S. roadways in 2014 alone. Considering that more than one-quarter of those accidents were weather-related, it is wise to utilize special care when driving in Boston in winter weather conditions. The best way to avoid weather-related accidents is to avoid driving in adverse weather conditions, such as snow, ice, sleet, and heavy rainfall. Of course, this is not always possible. The U.S. spends more than $2.3 billion on snow and ice removal annually. Despite these efforts, accidents do still happen. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Adverse weather is a contributing factor in nearly 20 percent of fatal highway crashes.  Although some crashes are caused solely by winter weather conditions, driver error or negligence often play a role. Driving too fast for conditions, not leaving enough space between your car and the car in front of you, and distracted driving are typically involved in winter weather crashes. This is good news because it means that many of these Boston accidents are avoidable. However, in order to prevent accidents you have to be aware of other vehicles on the road at all times, not just your own. Even if you utilize safe driving practices, many other drivers do not. Defensive driving is key to preventing accidents all year long, but especially in winter.

Other Factors in Winter Weather-Related Crashes

In addition to slick, slushy, or slippery roads, winter travel can be dangerous for multiple other reasons. These may include:

  • Limited visibility – Falling snow can make it nearly impossible to see the road in front of you, especially at night. Avoid driving at night when possible. Use windshield wipers, leave ample distance between you and other cars, and drive slowly when heavy snowfall limits your visibility.
  • Black ice – When a layer of ice forms on the road but the driver cannot differentiate between ice and asphalt, it is referred to as ‘black ice’. Black ice is not visible to drivers because the black asphalt can be seen through the ice. For this reason, there is typically no warning and hitting a patch may cause you to lose traction and have an accident. Driving over black ice at high speeds puts you at a much greater risk of losing control.
  • Low temperatures – If you have an accident in an unpopulated area, you may be stranded for hours with no heat source. To avoid hypothermia and dehydration in these conditions, keep your car stocked with blankets, extra socks, gloves and hats, bottled water, and flares to signal for help.

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An Enterprise box truck crashed into a home in Whitman, Massachusetts early Wednesday morning, resulting in injuries to two individuals. The driver of the Enterprise rental truck was injured when his vehicle collided with the side of the Whitman home—but following the arrival of law enforcement officials on the scene, the driver of the vehicle became combative and was subsequently tased by responding police officers. The extent and nature of his injuries was not made immediately available.

Police officers have identified the driver of the Enterprise truck as 30 year old David Anderson of East Bridgewater. Initial reports for the accident have indicated that Anderson struck another vehicle from behind with the box truck, which caused the driver of the other vehicle to veer off of the road. Responding officers have stated that the other vehicle in question was a dump truck driven by 24 year old Isis Barbosa of Bridgewater. Barbosa sustained non-life threatening injuries following the accident and was transported to nearby Brockton hospital to receive treatment. An update on Barbosa’s condition has not yet been provided.

Police officers went on to say that the initial accident occurred when Isis Barbosa stopped the dump truck for a school bus ahead of Barbosa on the road, and it was at this time that David Anderson rear-ended the vehicle. The impact of the collision forced Barbosa’s truck off the side of the road where it stayed on the right shoulder of the road. Anderson’s Enterprise truck, however, careened off the road and struck the side of a garage of a home located on nearby Auburn Street. The garage suffered extensive damages as the result of the collision, and officers specified that splintered wood and debris from the roofing shingles littered the ground. The front of the Enterprise truck also suffered heavy damage. There are no further injuries reported for the incident aside from the injuries sustained by David Anderson and Isis Barbosa. Continue reading

A North Carolina man was charged with the death of a woman from Hudson after an accident that took place in May. Following his hearing in Central District Court on Monday however, he was released on personal recognizance. 62 year old Gary Shray from Oriental, North Carolina has described the occurrence that claimed 24 year old Sarah Ewing’s life as a “freak accident”.

The accident took place on May 14th of this year in Worcester’s Kelley Square. Gary Shray, a truck driver, was operating an 18 wheeler vehicle for Ocean Star Transportation (based out of East Hartford, Connecticut) when he pulled over onto the side of Millbury Street in order to let a firetruck pass by him. Once the firetruck had passed him, Shray had attempted to take a right turn onto the Interstate 290 ramp when his vehicle hit the curb and proceeded to knock over a stop sign and a street lamp. Sarah Ewing and a 25 year old male identified as Joseph Meszaro of Oxford, who was a friend of Ms. Ewing, jumped forward in order to avoid being struck by the falling street lamp. It was at this time that Sarah Ewing became wedged in the wheels of Gary Shray’s 18 wheeler truck.  She would later succumb to her injuries, but the extent and severity of these injuries has not been disclosed. Her friend, Joseph Meszaro, suffered injuries to his feet and is still currently in recovery from these wounds.

Gary Shray tested negative for alcohol and drugs upon investigation into the matter. He maintains that it really was an accident, and he expressed remorse and grief about what has happened. “You know, I am truly sorry.” He did not provide any further comments regarding the accident and later requested a court-appointed lawyer for his hearing at Central District Court this past Monday. Continue reading

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has decided to stop the use of a guardrail-end terminal over concerns that there may be safety issues. The rail-end guardrail pieces, known as the ET-Plus, are made by Trinity Industries of Texas. The manufacturer has already have been the subject of products liability lawsuits by motorists claiming they lost their legs in traffic crashes.

This week, a federal jury ruled that Trinity should pay $175 million in a whistleblower lawsuit that exposed the hazards involved with using the guardrail end caps. It was guardrail installer Josh Harman who accused Trinity of making the ET-Plus unsafe when the company redesigned it.

He sued Trinity under the False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions. As the whistleblower, Harman is entitled to a percentage of what is recovered. Because of statutory mandate, the $175 million figure is expected to triple.

Actor Tracy Morgan has filed a truck accident lawsuit against Wal-Mart. The former 30 Rock star and Saturday Night Live alum almost died in a limo bus-truck crash on the New Jersey Turnpike last month. Now, Morgan is suing the retail giant for negligence.

Morgan’s personal assistant Jeffrey Millea, comedian Ardley Fuqua, and Millea’s spouse Krista are also plaintiffs in this case. Millea and Fuqua were injured in the collision. Comedian James McNair, who was also a passenger on the limo bus but is not one of the plaintiffs, died from his injuries. His family will likely file a wrongful death case.

The catastrophic collision happened when a Wal-Mart truck rear-ended Morgan’s limo bus. Truck driver Kevin Roper is accused of operating the large truck at 20 mph above the speed limit, driving close to his limit time, and not sleeping in the 24 hours leading up to the accident. Under federal rules, truck drivers are allowed to work no more than 14 hours a day and no more than 11 hours behind the wheel.

According to authorities, Kevin Roper, the Wal-Mart truck driver behind the wheel of the big rig that slammed into a limo bus carrying comic Tracy Morgan, another tractor-trailer, two cars, and an SUV hadn’t slept for 24 hours when the fatal multi-vehicle collision on the New Jersey Turnpike happened on Saturday. All of the injury victims from the semi-truck crash were passengers in Morgan’s limo.

The actor was critically injured, sustaining multiple broken bones. His mentor, James McNair was killed. Two other limo passengers, comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr. and Jeffrey Millea, also sustained critical injuries. Comic Harris Stanton was treated at a hospital and later released.

Roper is charged with multiple counts of assault by auto, as well as death by auto. The criminal complaint against the 35-year-old trucker accuses him of committing vehicular homicide without having slept for more than a day. Police say that he failed to observe that the traffic ahead of him was moving slowly. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the tragic traffic wreck.

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