Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pittsburgh Personal Injury Blog

Auto accidents can linger with drivers

In the moment, auto accidents can be quite frightening, confusing and painful. Beyond any immediate physical injuries, there may be additional trauma that drivers and accident victims must deal with.

If you or a loved one have been in an accident, it is important to fully understand the possible side effects. You can review a few below.

Signs a driver may be drunk

Drivers in Pennsylvania have the right to feel safe when they are on the road. Unfortunately, some people get behind the wheel after having too much to drink, and this poses a danger to other motorists. If another driver suspects someone is driving under the influence, it is important to report it so the impaired driver does not cause any harm. To make it easier, it is good to know what some of the signs are that indicate drunk driving.

MADD outlines some of the signs of impaired driving. These include:

  • Weaving or drifting in and out of traffic lanes
  • Driving way slower than the speed limit
  • Coming close to hitting another vehicle or object
  • Lack of headlights at night
  • Slow start or sudden stop at traffic lights
  • Driving in between two lanes

What safety gear should motorcycle riders wear?

If you are a motorcycle rider, it is important to maintain your personal safety with adequate protective gear. Whether you are commuting to a downtown job or simply enjoying the scenery of Pennsylvania's back roads, you may reduce your risk of injury by wearing the right clothing. While Pennsylvania law requires you to wear a helmet in some circumstances, other types of safety gear are vital as well.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides information about the state's motorcycle helmet law and other safety concerns for riders. In Pennsylvania, you must wear a helmet if you are under 21 years old. If you are over 21 years old, you must wear a helmet unless you have at least two years of riding experience. An alternative to meeting the experience requirement is taking a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Labor Day concludes 100 deadliest days for teen drivers

Whether you spend it at the lake, an amusement park or in your own backyard, Labor Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the end of summer before the chill of autumn arrives. If you have a teenage driver in your family, you may also breathe a sigh of relief when Labor Day passes. 

According to AAA, the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for young motorists. Even though the roads around Pittsburg are safer statistically after Labor Day, the risks do not cease altogether. As such, there is never a bad time to coach your teen driver on road safety. Here are some topics you should think about covering. 

Do not drink and operate a water vessel

Pennsylvania has numerous lakes, rivers, canals and other waterways that provide recreation in the summer months. Unfortunately, some boat operators equate drinking with being on the water, and this can have serious consequences. Boating under the influence has the same penalties as driving under the influence, and it is important that everyone understands that law enforcement takes it seriously.

According to FindLaw, a BUI occurs when the operator of any watercraft on any body of water is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drinking and/or taking drugs contributes to over 50% of boating accidents, and alcohol use increases fatal crashes by 34%. While the effects of alcohol interfere with driving on land, there is an even bigger effect when on the water. This is due to factors such as the wind, sun, heat, water motion and noise.

Safety training may help prevent motorcycle accidents

Motorcycles are fairly common in Pennsylvania, but not all drivers and riders know how to share the road safely. Unsafe driving and riding practices may be especially dangerous for motorcyclists, as they tend to suffer more serious injuries in an accident than do people in a car. Basic safety measures, such as wearing a helmet, may help reduce the risk of fatalities for motorcyclists. Rigorous training may also help reduce the number of motorcycle accidents, including both single-vehicle crashes and those involving cars or pedestrians.

In many cases, motorcycle riders incur more serious injuries and deaths than drivers and passengers in cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's accident statistics, the number of motorcyclists who died in fatal accidents in 2016 was 5,286. This represents 14% of all deaths from motor vehicle accidents in that year. Additionally, the NHTSA indicates that in 2016, there were nearly 28 times more motorcycle deaths than car deaths per mile traveled. Speeding seems to be a frequent cause of accidents involving motorcycles. In fatal crashes in 2016, 33% of motorcyclists involved were speeding, which is higher than the percentage of car drivers (19%) who were speeding.

Road traffic injuries are the top killer of young people

In 2018, ABC27 News reported that Pennsylvania adopted Act 153 to tackle drunk driving problems within the state. The bill allowed the state to charge drunk drivers with a felony under the following conditions:

  •          It was the fourth arrest or higher.
  •          It was the third DUI offense or higher.
  •          Blood-alcohol content was 0.16% or higher.

The bill also increased incarceration time for intoxicated drivers if it resulted in the unintentional death of someone else. The minimum sentence was originally three years, but it was raised to five. Repeat offenders who were caught driving on a suspended or revoked license could also face prison time of up to six months and fines up to $2,500.

The importance of a trucking log

Commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania can be under a lot of pressure to deliver goods on time. This sometimes results in long working hours which, in turn, can lead to exhaustion. One of the causes of truck accidents is fatigue, and the trucking industry has certain rules that regulate the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road. To keep track of this, all drivers must also fill in a trucking log on a regular basis.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines the regulations for hours of service for trucks that carry passengers or property. Truck drivers that have passengers can drive a maximum of 10 hours a day, and they must have at least eight hours off before the shift. Drivers that carry cargo can drive for an 11-hour shift as long as they have 10 hours off beforehand. If working seven consecutive days, the driving limit is 60 hours, and the driver must take off a minimum of 34 hours before the next shift. If drivers use the sleeper berth, they must be in it a minimum of eight consecutive hours.

What are the penalties for distracted driving?

As a Pennsylvania resident, you likely know the potential charges and penalties you may face for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. However, distracted driving is becoming a frequent problem as more smartphones and other personal electronic devices become essential for daily life. It is important to understand that there are state regulations that prohibit you from using a cellphone or tablet while you are behind the wheel. The penalties also change slightly if you are a truck driver.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides information on the state's distracted driving laws. According to the DOT, using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device while driving is a primary offense. The DOT specifically lists several actions: sending, reading and writing texts, emails and instant messages. Essentially, if you use your device to engage in written communication while your vehicle is moving, you may face a $50 fine. You may also have to pay additional expenses for court costs.

Third-party liability is common in personal injury cases

When accidents happen in Pennsylvania and recovery from injuring is already underway, many accident victims find themselves wondering how they will manage the unexpected medical expenses and financial aftermath of their ordeals. One common action is to sue the alleged negligent party for damages. In many personal injury accidents, liability falls on multiple parties. There are even circumstances where the victims share some of the blame. 

When the need for financial damages for physical and mental pain and suffering exceed what work, motor vehicle and other accident victims can recover directly from negligent parties, plaintiffs can seek compensation through third-party liability claims from individuals and companies they believe had a contributory role. 

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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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