Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

A trucking accident on September 20, 1994 on the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County, Maryland killed one person and left construction worker Brian Buber paralyzed. The subsequent fight over payment of damages shows how difficult it can be to enforce judgments against corporations and other business entities.

On that day in 1994, a tractor-trailer owned by Gunther’s Leasing Transport crashed into a small rental truck. The two vehicles then hit an asphalt-rolling machine in the construction area where Buber was working. The tractor-trailer jackknifed and caught fire. The truck’s passenger, Keith Briscoe, Jr., died in the crash, while the driver was injured. Buber was thrown through the air and suffered head injuries. He reportedly spent hours in surgery as doctors tried to remove fragments of skull from his brain.

Buber still suffers from brain damage, remains confined to a wheelchair and spends twenty hours a day in bed at a nursing home in Harford County. According to the Baltimore Sun, he cannot speak. He communicates by pointing to letters on a laminated card to spell out words. He relies on Social Security and workers’ compensation for support. His mother took care of him until her death in 2009, and now his sister looks after him when she can. Buber’s medical costs exceeded $1 million, and Gunther’s Leasing Transport reportedly had at least $1 million in liability coverage. Buber never saw any money from Gunther, though.

Buber , the family of Keith Brsicoe, Jr., and others brought a lawsuit against Gunther’s Leasing Transport. A jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiffs in 1997, awarding almost $16 million to the plaintiffs. Of that amount, the jury earmarked $13 million for Buber’s medical expenses and ongoing care. The company’s insurance paid the $1 million policy limits amount, but that was divided between the six plaintiffs and did not offer much help towards Buber’s mounting expenses.

Within weeks, Gunther’s Leasing Transport filed for bankruptcy reorganization. It reportedly listed $9 million in assets and $17.5 million in liabilities, most of which was the court judgment. At the time, it also faced an FBI investigation. Mark David Gunther, owner of Gunther’s Leasing Transport, was sentenced to thirty months in prison by a Baltimore federal jury for forging drivers’ logs. A bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan for the company that included payments to Buber and the other plaintiffs, but by 2001 the company was so far behind on payments that the IRS had the case converted to a liquidation.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has spent two years considering modifications to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers, but any proposed increase in regulation could inspire opposition in Congress. The agency has delayed the release of new rules until October, requesting further comment during the summer of 2011. While the agency cites its own research to argue that revisions to the existing regulations are needed to improve safety, members of Congress have vowed to fight any changes.

Four Republican Representatives led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) wrote to President Obama regarding the proposed changes, stating that “we are very concerned the proposed changes will result in additional trucks and drivers on the road to deliver the same amount of freight, adding to the final product costs and increasing congestion on our already overburdened roads.” Industry groups have expressed similar concerns about new regulations. Since the FMCSA has not released new rules, the situation is still simmering. It pits concerns over driver safety against concerns over the impact of new rules on the trucking industry.

Under current rules, commercial truck drivers who do not carry passengers can drive for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after at least 10 consecutive hours off duty, and they can be on duty for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours. Drivers are also limited to 60 to 70 hours total driving in a 7- to 8-day time period. Proposed new regulations would limit the total number of 14-hour shifts to two per week, with driving time limited to 10 or 11 hours. The FMCSA issued the current rules in 2003, in the first major revision of hours-of-service rules since 1939.

As an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the U.S. trucking industry, enacting and enforcing safety regulations covering commercial motor vehicles and drivers. It is tasked with monitoring highway safety data, researching existing safety concerns, promulgating rules and regulations enforcing safety policies, and developing technological solutions supporting safety. The agency was established January 1, 2000.

The FMCSA issued a report in May 2011 analyzing driving performance of commercial truck drivers and considering all activities expected of drivers in addition to driving. Aside from driving, drivers may spend time during shifts performing “heavy work” like loading and unloading their trailers and “light work” like paperwork and other administrative tasks. Drivers also take breaks during shifts to eat, sleep, and relax. The report identified driver drowsiness as a major concern, but also the variety and range of tasks performed by drivers during a shift. All of these factors can negatively affect driver safety.

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The National Transportation Safety Board has formally recommended a ban on the use of cell phones and other mobile electronic devices by commercial truck drivers while driving. While this does not have the force of law, the recommendation follows on a prior recommendation to ban text messaging by truck drivers. The Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog previously reported on how this led to a formal ban by the federal government on texting by commercial truckers. Nineteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia already ban all drivers from texting while driving. The federal texting rule for truckers, set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, carries fines of up to $2,750 per incident. The NTSB recommendation on cell phone use is likely to lead to similar rules regarding cell phone use.

The NTSB recommendation resulted from its investigation into a tragic crash on Interstate 65 in Kentucky last year in which a commercial truck driver veered across the median of the highway into oncoming traffic and struck a van carrying a total of 12 people. The crash killed the truck driver, the van driver, and nine of the van’s occupants. Two children in the van were reported to have been saved by their child-restraint systems. The investigation concluded that the truck driver’s distraction from use of a cell phone, combined with fatigue, caused the crash. Investigators found that the truck driver had used his phone for calls and text messages while driving 69 times during the previous 24-hour period. Road conditions, weather, and driver health issues did not play any role in the accident, according to investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent agency of the United States government, formed in 1967 and tasked with investigating accidents in the civil transportation system. It investigates certain types of car and truck accidents. Since the accident in Kentucky occurred on an interstate highway, which is partly administered by the federal government, it came under the NTSB’s jurisdiction. The NTSB also investigates aviation, marine, shipping, pipeline, and railroad accidents. The agency lacks the legal authority by itself to create laws or rules, but its system of recommendations frequently leads to the adoption of new safety regulations. In it 44-year history, it has issued over 13,000 recommendations.

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While motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of child fatalities, our Washington DC personal injury lawyers want to warn you of other auto vehicle-related dangers that could put a kid at serious risk. Here are a few of these safety hazards, as identified by the National Highway Safety Administration:

Backover accidents: This usually involves a vehicle backing out of a driveway or parking lot and the driver not realizing that there is a child behind the auto. Backover accidents can prove fatal. Because the vehicle is being operated in reverse, the motorist must take extra precautions to check all viewing mirrors, footage from the backup camera, and perhaps even physically look back to make sure there is no one there.

Power windows: Power windows can entrap a young child’s hands, fingers, feet, neck, or head. It is important to make sure that power window switches have been locked. Otherwise, a child can accidentally activate the switch.

The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine what caused a bus and tractor-trailer to collide on Saturday, killing 15 people in New York. The 56-seat bus then drove through a guardrail, skidded some 480 feet, before turning on its side. A highway sign cut off most of the bus’s roof. Our Washington DC bus accident law firm is continuing to monitor this story and its latest developments.

According to the medical examiner’s office, the victims died from blunt-force trauma as the impact of the crash left passengers bloodied and jumbled over debris, each other, and shattered glass. Most of those who died were of Chinese descent. The latest victim to die is a man in his 70’s. Several others are still in the hospital—six of them in critical condition.

The bus, driving back from the Mohegan Sun casino, is one of a number of buses that travel back and forth between the casinos in Connecticut and New York’s Chinatown. While bus driver Ophadell Williams has said that the tractor-trailer struck the bus, witnesses and survivors says that even prior to the deadly crash, the bus was swerving to the right. Some have speculated that Williams, who has a history of vehicular offenses and served time behind bars for grand larceny and manslaughter, was tired. Meantime, officials are saying that he may have been speeding.

Police are investigating a fatal Washington DC traffic crash in the Third Street Tunnel involving a Department of Public Works truck. The victim, 23-year-old Haja Seymore-Wilson, died on Tuesday after the vehicle she was riding crashed into the truck, which was stopped. Also injured in the DC truck crash were three city workers.

If the city workers were negligent in where they parked their truck or could/should have act in a way that would have prevented Seymore-Wilson’s car from crashing into the truck, her family may find that they have grounds for a DC wrongful death case. However, if it was Seymore-Wilson who was at fault, then it is the city workers who may have grounds for a DC injury case.

During such a stressful time, settling immediately may seem like the best solution. Unfortunately, you may be also be giving away your legal right to receive the maximum recovery possible. There is no need to make your healing process more challenging by trying to pursue your injury recovery without legal help.

Also, figuring out who caused a Washington DC car accident can be difficult, which is another reason why you need to have a DC injury law firm that is working for you. Your attorney can make sure that all evidence is explored and a solid case is built on your behalf. In addition to physical evidence and your actual injuries, your lawyer can look at driving records, witness testimony, auto repair/maintenance records, the history of traffic accidents on that road, and other key data.

Woman killed in D.C. tunnel crash, The Washington Post, March 1, 2011
Candlelight vigil for woman killed in Third Street Tunnel, The Examiner, March 4, 2011
Related Web Resource:
Department of Public Works, The District of Columbia
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Car Accident News: Baltimore Trucker Survives Head-on Crash when Minivan Crosses Centerline on Rte 9, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 3, 2011
Baltimore Car Accident News: Driver Dies in Fatal Beltsville, Maryland, Automobile Traffic Wreck, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, February 28, 2011
Baltimore Auto Injury News: Three Hurt when Train Hits Minivan in Wicomico, Maryland, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, February 24, 2011

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The District intends to install more traffic cameras at street intersections. The main purpose of these new portable cameras is to catch motorists committing traffic offenses, such as failing to come to a full stop and not yielding to pedestrians. The cameras will be placed in areas where there is proven need for greater enforcement and control. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the cameras will be put in place “within the next year.”

Intersections are a common site for traffic crashes. With vehicles approaching from opposite directions, pedestrians crossing the street, and people attempting to make left and right turns, the fact that the risk of collision goes up is no surprise.

Our DC personal injury law firm hopes that with additional cameras set up, more people will be discouraged from committing traffic violations that can lead to Washington DC car accidents. The knowledge that one can get caught on camera running a red light or not coming to a full halt at a stop sign, or turning left even when the left turn arrow is red will hopefully prevent such “minor” offenses, which are, in fact, among the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths at intersections.

How to Avoid Becoming Involved in an Intersection Accident:
• Pay Attention
• Don’t drive while distracted
• Be ready to stop or slow down even if there is no “Stop” sign or traffic light
• Yield to the pedestrian that is already crossing the street or the vehicle that is already moving through the intersection even if you technically have the right of way
• Always look in all directions before driving across the street or turning
• Obey traffic rules
D.C. to Add More Traffic Cameras, Government Video, February 7, 2011
Red-light cameras save lives, study says, Washington Post, February 1, 2011
Related Web Resources:

DC Department of Transportation

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

More Auto Accident Posts:
Washington DC Car Accident Involving Metro Bus Causes Injuries, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2010
Baltimore Injury Accident News: Alcohol Blamed in Fatal I-70 Car Crash that Killed Montgomery County Woman, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, February 6, 2011
Maryland Bicycle Injury News: Family Settles Wrongful Death Suit following Fatal Baltimore Cycling Accident, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, December 24, 2010

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While New Year’s Eve and Day are definitely occasions to mark with celebration, it is unfortunate that there are people who may end up dying or getting seriously hurt in a Washington DC car accident because another person was driving while drunk. Hopefully, the more aggressive push by lawmakers and law enforcement officials through their “Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest” campaign will help keep more people safe this year. That said, it is still up to motorists to refrain from driving drunk.

According to new analysis from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, at about 80 drunk driver-related deaths on New Year’s Day, the average number of traffic fatalities where alcohol is a factor goes up by almost 150% more than if it were the same day of another week during the holidays. For example, in 2005 when New Year’s fell on a Saturday, there were more alcohol-related deaths at 98 fatalities than if the holiday fell on the season’s other Saturday. Last year, there were 73 drunk driving fatalities on New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve fell on a Thursday night. Unfortunately, although many Americans don’t approve of drunk driving, AAA says that many of them do it anyway.

These fatality figures don’t take into account the number of injuries that can occur on New Year’s Day as a result of alcohol. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among underage drinkers alone, 1,980 of them went to the hospital on January 1. That’s a lot more than the approximately 546 who end up in the hospital on a typical day. Drunk driving, other alcohol-related accidents, and acute intoxication were among the causes. There are, of course, also adults and children who may have sustained injuries in a New Year traffic crash involving alcohol.

Steps motorists can take to drive safely into 2011:
• Appoint a designated driver.
• Don’t let your friends drive while drunk even if they think they can.
• Don’t get in the car with a drunk driver.
• Pack an overnight bag just in case you end up drinking more than you intended.
• Bring cab money just in case.

• Be careful if you choose to walk to or from your destination. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says New Year is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.

Beware of heightened drunk driving dangers this New Year’s Eve, Consumer Reports, December 30, 2010
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Holiday Drunk Driving Crackdown, NHTSA, December 13, 2010
Underage drinkers a New Year’s hazard, Washington Examiner, December 30, 2010
Related Web Resources:
What to do after a car accident, MSN
Metropolitan Police Department,

Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog

Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced this week that thousands of law enforcement agencies across the US will be combating drunk driving crashes during the holiday season through the annual “Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest” campaign. Some $7 million in advertising will run between December 15, 2010 and January 3, 2011 to promote the campaign.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 753 US drunk driver-related deaths in December 2009. In total for that year, there were 10,839 alcohol-related traffic fatalities with one of these deaths occurring every 48 minutes. 7,281 of the those who died were drivers with a BAC of .08 or greater. 2,891 of those who were killed were motor vehicle occupants. 667 were nonoccupants. Our Washington DC car crash lawyers have reported on these developments in the past.

In addition to the national holiday crackdown campaign, a number of states have adopted the “No Refusal” strategy, which lets law enforcement officers quickly get warrants for blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who exercise their right to not take a breathalyzer test. Secretary LaHood is encouraging other states to adopt this approach.

Beginning Friday in Washington DC, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free taxi rides (a $30 limit) to people who call 1-800-200-TAXI. Participants have to be age 21 or older and the free service is available between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. weekly.

With the holiday season underway, people are likely to find themselves attending social and celebratory gatherings were alcohol is being served. During this time of the year, the last thing that anyone wants to have happen is to suffer serious injuries or lose a loved one in a Washington DC car accident because someone was driving while drunk.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Holiday Drunk Driving Crackdown, NHTSA, December 13, 2010
Holiday crackdown on drunk driving, The Washington Post, December 13, 2010
Related Web Resources:

Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA (PDF)

40 Million in U.S. Driving Drunk or Drugged, US News, December 9, 2010

Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog

Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, post-mortem test results from between 2005 and 2009 reveal an increase in the level of drug involvement among drivers killed in US traffic crashes. This, however, the NHTSA is quick to qualify that this does not mean that the motorists tested were impaired at the time of death or that use of a drug caused the fatal collision.

Per NHTSA Data:
• 63% of the 21,798 drivers killed in 2009 were tested for drugs.
• 3,952 of these drivers tested positive for drugs.

• Over the last five years, US states have reported an increase in drug use among fatally injured drivers.

According to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, this report is a warning that too many motorists in the US are driving with drugs in their system and not realizing that this is causing them to become a danger to themselves and others. The data is part of the traffic safety agency’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Our Washington DC injury lawyers want to remind you that if you or someone you love was injured in a car crash by a motorist who was under the influence of drugs or driving while drunk, you may have grounds for a civil case.

Drugged driving is dangerous driving. It doesn’t matter whether the driver is on medication prescribed by a doctor or taking an illegal drug. Depending on the type of drug used and the corresponding side effects, drugged driving can modify a motorist’s perception, attention, cognition, coordination, balance, and reaction time, which are all faculties that affect a driver’s ability to drive safely.

Unlike with alcohol, there is inadequate current technology for determining drug levels and the impairment that can result. There is also no legal limit to serve as a marker for when someone is considered legally impaired and under the influence of drugs. Different US states, however, have passed their own laws and programs for trying to determine whether someone is engaged in drugged driving.

Report is First Ever Analysis of Drug Involvement Among Deceased Drivers in Fatal Crashes, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, November 30, 2010

Read the Report (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
What is Drugged Driving?, National Institute on Drugged Driving

Stop Drugged Driving

Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Attorney Blog

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