Stoned Drivers Create Accident and Injury Risks in Pennsylvania

18
Aug 2014
By:

Motor vehicle collisions are a top cause of death for young people, and one of the leading factors is driving under the influence. While alcohol remains the number one cause of impaired driving accidents, many teens and college-aged students tend to underestimate the dangers associated with driving under the influence of marijuana.

In reality, THC is second on the list of substances most likely to be in the blood of impaired drivers. Studies have demonstrated that 4 to 14 percent of motorists who are injured or killed in traffic accidents tested positive for having THC in their blood. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

With medical marijuana nearing a vote in Pennsylvania, it is more important than ever for college students to know that stoned driving is not safe.

Stoned Driving Dangers Underestimated by College Students

College students may be underestimating just how risky it is to drive after consuming products with cannabis. Research from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst provides plenty of cause for worry.

Researchers asked 640 incoming college freshman to respond to survey questions and 338 agreed. The students were asked about drug and alcohol use as well as whether they drove impaired. Just seven percent of the survey respondents admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in the 30 days leading to the survey. By contrast, 44 percent of men and nine percent of women admitted that in the prior 30 days they had driven after consuming cannabis products.

Students were also very likely to get into the car with someone who had used marijuana. In fact, 51 percent of men and 35 percent of women were passengers in the car with a stoned driver.

The difference between the number of students driving drunk versus driving stoned is especially striking when considering that college students were significantly more likely to use alcohol than cannabis. A total of 30 percent of men and 13 percent of women had used cannabis in the 30 days before the survey, compared with 67 percent of men and 64 percent of women using alcohol.

College students need more education and information on the risks that stoned driving presents so that they can make better choices about not getting into the car after consuming products containing THC.

When student accidents happen, an experienced attorney at Metzger Wickersham can help injury victims to take legal action. Our experienced Pennsylvania accident lawyers have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Harrisburg Bicycle Accidents – Are Drivers or Bicyclists at Fault?

Bicycle riders faced an increase in fatalities from 2011 to 2012. According to recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 726 bicycle riders killed over the course of the year. An additional 49,000 bike riders were injured in collisions. The death toll rose six percent from 2011 to 2012. The majority of the bicyclist deaths– 69 percent– occurred in urban areas.

bicycle-1443880-mBike riders in urban locations, as well as throughout the rest of the country, have been fighting to improve conditions and reduce fatalities. While The Burg News indicates that Harrisburg is far behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in terms of being bike-friendly, advocates from Bike Harrisburg have been promoting and encouraging improvements in road conditions for riders.

Recently, however, bicycle activists nationwide have been getting negative press as some claim that bike riders don’t actually obey the rules or share the road in a fair way.

When a bicycle accident happens, it is important to determine if the biker or the driver were following the rules of the road and if either were negligent. A personal injury attorney can provide assistance to bike accident victims in determining who was to blame for the collision and who is liable for damages.

Are Bicycle Riders Failing at Sharing the Road?

The Washington Post has had several recent articles about the problems of bicycle riders in urban areas. A litany of complaints includes:

  • Bicycle riders being overly-demanding about where bicycle lanes should go, resulting in bike lanes displacing some parking spaces and making it more difficult to park in popular areas.
  • Bicycle riders disobeying the laws and riding on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.
  • Bicycle riders riding at night without lights on so they are difficult for pedestrians and drivers to see.
  • Bicycle riders riding their bikes in the wrong direction in a bicycle lane.
  • Bicycle riders moving to the front of a line of cars waiting at a light and then holding up traffic by driving slowly along when the light changes as motorists are left waiting for a chance to pass.
  • Bicycle riders riding during high-traffic areas during rush hour and getting in the way of motorcycle riders.
  • Bicycle riders failing to obey the rules of the road even when they demand that they be given the same respect and held to the same rules as other drivers.

These are complaints that have been voiced by many motorists who have had experience with bicycle riders in urban areas. While some of the complaints may be legitimate, the reality is that biking is becoming a more popular way to commute and some drivers are simply unhappy that bike riders are disrupting long-standing traffic patterns.

Bicycle riders and drivers both need to be respectful of each other and need to follow all safety rules. This means yielding the right-of-way as required, drivers avoiding passing too close to bicycle riders and bike riders staying in bike lanes where they belong and not endangering pedestrians on sidewalks.

If everyone on the roads follows the rules and is aware of the rights of others on the road, perhaps the complaints against bicycle riders could stop and the death toll of pedalcyclists could be reduced.

Central Pennsylvania’s premier accident and injury law firm, Metzger Wickersham, has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact Metzger Wickersham at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Harrisburg Traffic Collisions – Feds Want Greater Oversight

4
Aug 2014
By:

car crashIn recent months, GM has recalled hundreds of thousands of vehicles in response to a myriad of problems, including issues with an ignition switch that may have caused at least a dozen car accident fatalities. The car company allegedly knew about the problems long before recalling the cars but failed to act to fix the problem or take the cars off the roads. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that something like this has happened and it likely will not be the last time. When a vehicle defect results in a collision, victims need to consult with a personal injury lawyer for help taking legal action.

In response to the wave of recalls and consumer concerns about safety issues, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced a Senate Bill (SB 2559) that would expand funding to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and that would give the agency more authority.

Proposed Bill Would Give NHTSA More Power

Senator Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. According to Modern Tire Dealer, the bill he introduced would result in significant changes including not just giving the NHTSA more power but also requiring more oversight of the agency.

If the bill passed, the NHTSA would be required to make consumer complaints public and would need to publicize the results of consumer satisfaction campaigns. The NHTSA would become responsible for alerting the public to consumer complaints; for publishing technical service bulletins; for providing field reports to the public; for alerting people to recalls and warranty claims; and for reporting to the public on “other activity involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment.”

The NHTSA would also become responsible for generating certain new reports on a regular basis and presenting the information to Congress. For example, the secretary of transportation would be required to provide regular updates on the Council for Vehicle Electronics, Vehicle Software and Emerging Technologies. Additionally, the NHTSA would need to do a report on early warning data, providing details on the safety investigations the agency opens, the duration of each investigation and what percentage of the investigations identified safety problems or resulted in a recall.

The NHTSA would be given more funding to comply with its new responsibilities and serve its new role. The additional funding would be generated from a new manufacturer’s fee on vehicles of $3 per car starting in 2015, rising to $6 per car in 2016 and $9 per car in 2017. The fee would be charged on sales from U.S. auto makers.

The Bill is before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. It is not clear if the bill will leave committee or if it will ever get a full vote of the Senate or House of Representatives. However, if it does become law, it could be a positive step forward in helping to ensure that the NHTSA is taking a much more active role to prevent and remove defective products from market.

The experienced Pennsylvania accident lawyers at Metzger Wickersham have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Ladder Safety Essential to Protect Harrisburg Workers From Falls

Falls from ladders are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death on the job, according to a new study the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Philly.com recently reported on the study, which involved an analysis of workplace deaths that occurred in the U.S. over the course of 2011. Some startling facts were revealed:

  • Work-related ladder falls caused 113 deaths.stair-folding-1185444-m
  • Almost 15,500 nonfatal injuries causing at least one day of missed work occurred due to ladder falls.
  • Around 34,000 nonfatal injuries on ladders were treated in emergency departments at hospitals nationwide.

An estimated 43 percent of fatal workplace falls over the past decade involved a ladder. The workers at the greatest risk for this type of injury included Hispanics, individuals working in construction, older employees, individuals working in mining or other extraction jobs, and those who do maintenance, installation or repair work for a living.

In Pennsylvania, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 23 workers were killed in falls in 2012. In an effort to prevent injuries or deaths before they occur, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a guide to ladder safety.

Pennsylvania worker injuries and deaths can hopefully be prevented by following OSHA’s safety tips, including:

  • Avoiding ladders when other devices would be preferable. A scissor lift is a better choice for doing work at elevated heights for extended periods of time or when you need your hands to be free.
  • Ensuring ladders are not too short. Your ladder should extend for at least three feet above the landing point so you can easily grip the ladder above you with your hands. Standing on the top rung of a ladder is always very dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Securing the base of the ladder. The base of the ladder should be on solid and stable ground and it should be secured. Cones or other barriers should be erected to keep others away from the ladder and ensure it doesn’t get bumped or knocked over.
  • Wearing the right shoes. Flat shoes should be worn at all times when climbing a ladder. The shoes should have non-slip or non-skid soles.
  •  Maintaining three points of contact between your body and the ladder at all times. Don’t remove both hands from the ladder and don’t carry items up the ladder in your hands.
  • Checking the ladder prior to use to ensure it is in good condition. Ladders should be maintained properly and stored safely to avoid damage.

Both employers and employees should do their part to reduce the risk of ladder accidents and fall injuries by following these simple safety tips.

If you or a loved one is injured at work as a result of a fall, a workers’ compensation lawyer in Harrisburg can help you to recover compensation for your losses. The experienced Pennsylvania injury lawyers at Metzger Wickersham have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Can a York Car Accident Attorney Help Me?

Should I hire a York car accident attorney to help me after a collision? This is a question every motor vehicle accident victim should ask.  Unfortunately, many people hurt in accidents don’t consider talking to a lawyer.

A recent survey of 948 car crash victims conducted by UNC School of Medicine found that even people in chronic pain were not speaking with an attorney. If you don’t talk to a lawyer, you may not be fully aware of your rights after a collision. The insurance company is not on your side, is not your friend and won’t explain those rights to you. You may be pressured to accept less money than you should receive after an accident. Worse yet, you may give up on taking the steps necessary to get any compensation at all, simply to avoid the hassle of dealing with the insurance company.

Hiring a lawyer ensures that you will understand the motor vehicle accident laws that apply to your case and that you have someone to advocate on your behalf. Motor vehicle accidents can cause debilitating injuries like traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage, and even death. There is too much at stake in car accident injury cases not to have an attorney representing you.

A York Car Accident Attorney Will Protect Your Rights

Of the 948 individuals in the UNC study, just 17 percent said that they had spoken with a lawyer after they were involved in a crash. The majority of injured victims (even those with widespread musculoskeletal pain and symptoms resembling the disabling condition fibromyalgia) weren’t planning on pursuing a claim to obtain compensation.

As many as 4 million Americans each year seek treatment for car accident injuries in hospitals, and more than 70 percent of victims report that they still experience persistent pain in the musculoskeletal system in one or more areas of the body six weeks after the accident. If you have widespread pain, the symptoms could persist or get worse, and you might not be able to work. You might have a decline in quality of life and may have to incur costly medical bills. All of these things factor into your injury claim and should not be ignored.

Don’t be one of the many accident victims who doesn’t get the necessary legal help. Insurance companies collect premiums from each and every one of us in order to be certain that they have enough funds to provide compensation in situations where the person they insure acts negligently and causes harm to another party. Talk to a doctor right away after your accident for an accurate diagnosis of all medical problems. Then, talk to an accident lawyer for help obtaining compensation in a bodily injury claim.

The experienced Pennsylvania accident lawyers at Metzger Wickersham have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Harrisburg Pedestrians Face Accident Risk From Distraction

29
May 2014
By:

Texting and driving collisions have been on the rise in recent years, with distracted drivers causing as many as one out of every four crashes nationwide. There are numerous educational efforts aimed at alerting the public to the risks of distracted driving. However, distracted driving is not the only potential cause of injury from cell phones. Studies suggest that distracted walking may be just as dangerous for pedestrians.

Distracted Walking Statistics

According to Science Daily, around 10 percent of pedestrians who seek treatment in emergency rooms after an accident were texting when their injuries occurred. This estimate may actually be lower than the reality, because many pedestrians who get hurt while on their phones are embarrassed to admit the role distraction played in the incident.

Further, the number of people injured in distracted walking accidents has increased dramatically between 2004 and 2010. Healthline reports that emergency room visits resulting from cell phone use while walking have tripled over this time period. The largest increase in pedestrian accidents has been among people between the ages of 16 and 25.

Distracted Walking Accidents and Your Rights

A texting pedestrian faces the same three types of distraction that a texting driver does: manual, cognitive and visual distraction. Like a distracted driver, a distracted pedestrian is not looking at the road or sidewalk in front of them; instead of focusing on safety, their brain is focused on the text message being sent or read.

Due to lack of attention, pedestrians put themselves at serious risk of injury when they use their phone as they walk. Texting pedestrians are at risk of bumping into things, walking into walls, or even stepping out into traffic.

If a distracted pedestrian walks into traffic, they could be deemed partially at fault for any accident caused as a result of their negligent actions. However, a driver may still share some legal responsibility if they strike and injure a distracted pedestrian with their vehicle. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, an injured pedestrian could potentially recover compensation as long as the driver is found to be at least 51 percent responsible for the accident that occurs. The driver will pay only for the portion of the damages equal to his part in causing the crash.

If you’ve been injured in any type of collision, whether as a driver or a pedestrian, it’s always best to contact a qualified attorney. Pennsylvania law can be confusing, and an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in Harrisburg can help you understand your rights and explain how the law applies to your particular case.

The dedicated Pennsylvania accident lawyers at Metzger Wickersham have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Metzger Wickersham Attorney Ted Knauss Speaks to Widener University Law School Students

31
Mar 2014
By:

This past month, personal injury attorney Ted Knauss was honored with the opportunity to speak at Widener Law School in Harrisburg, PA. He presented on the topic of civil litigation, offering practice advice to law students.

Jessica Smeriglio, a Widener Law student, commented, “It was a nice change of pace to have a local attorney come in and offer practical advice.” Attorney Knauss discussed various aspects of litigation, including the discovery process and tips on interacting with opposing counsel. Students were encouraged to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

Ted Knauss

Ted Knauss

Attorney Knauss has practiced law at the firm of Metzger Wickersham, PC since 1974. He concentrates his practice in plaintiff’s personal injury and workers’ compensation law. Mr. Knauss is Board-certified as a specialist in civil trial advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, the accrediting agency approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This certification is reserved for attorneys who have demonstrated high standards of competence, experience and integrity in civil trial work. He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Wilkes-Barre DUI Injuries and Deaths, Target of MADD Campaign

Last year, diners at a Wilkes-Barre breakfast eatery got a grand slam they weren’t expecting when a sport-utility vehicle smashed into the side of the restaurant, seriously injuring several people. The driver of that vehicle was drunk and was subsequently sentenced to jail time for the crash.

beergardenAlthough most drunk driving injuries occur on the road, cases like this reveal no one is safe from impaired drivers. The Wilkes-Barre DUI accident lawyers at Metzger Wickersham believe that aggressively attacking this issue should be a priority for everyone. 

It’s in this spirit that we are highlighting the latest push by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, called the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: 2014 Report to the Nation.

MADD isn’t shy in calling out drunk driving for exactly what it is: a type of violent crime. It is the cause of one-third of all traffic deaths, which is important to remember in light of recent statistics showing the number of DUI fatalities have been halved since the 1980s.

The MADD campaign focuses on supporting law enforcement efforts to target drunk drivers, as well as promoting ignition interlock requirements for DUI offenders – even for first-time offenders.

Here in Pennsylvania, the device is required only for those convicted a second or subsequent time for drunk driving. The systems cost an average of $1,000, with the offender expected to foot the bill. Usually, the court will require the offender to use the device for at least one year. However, any violation of the original court order could mean an extension for an additional year.

MADD intends to push legislators in states like Pennsylvania to adopt stricter ignition interlock requirements in 2014.

Another aspect of MADD’s effort involves support of developing technologies that would render all vehicles – not just those equipped with ignition interlock – inoperable if the driver is drunk.

The organization notes that in 2006, there were 38 states that held sobriety checkpoints and one state that required ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders arrested for operating a vehicle above the 0.08 limit. By 2011, there were still 38 states holding DUI checkpoints. There were also 32 states holding “no refusal weekends,” which involved on-site magistrates to sign warrants to obtain a blood draw for any suspected drunk drivers at a sobriety checkpoint who refused a breathalyzer. Also that year, the number of states requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders jumped to 16.

In 2013, there were the same number of states holding checkpoints and no-refusals, but the number of states that had bolstered their ignition interlock laws had spiked by an additional four.

Also in that seven-year time frame, the idea for driver alcohol-detection systems went from being a concept to being a proposal that is authorized and funded with $5 million annually by Congress.

The federal government has also offered a $20 million annual incentive grant for states to pass tougher ignition interlock laws. Pennsylvania has yet to act on this offer.

Another initiative MADD supports is the passage of greater penalties for those who drive intoxicated with a child passenger.  Pennsylvania is unfortunately quite lax in this regard. For DUI offenders who drive with under-18 passengers, a first-time offense will face a maximum penalty of 100 hours of community service and a minimum $1,000 fine. A two-time offender can receive up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A third-time offender can receive between six months and two years of incarceration.

Considering what a serious threat drunk drivers pose to the people of Wilkes-Barre, other communities throughout PA, and nationwide, we support MADD in their efforts to enact tougher DUI legislation.

The car accident lawyers of Metzger Wickersham have offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, York, Lancaster, Shippensburg, and Harrisburg, PA. Contact us at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit www.mwke.com for a free case evaluation.

Metzger Wickersham Sponsors Zumbathon to Benefit Daikon Youth Services

21
Feb 2014
By:

Metzger Wickersham is the food sponsor for a Zumbathon event taking place on March 16, 2014 in Dillsburg, PA. This fun event is being held to benefit Daikon Youth Services, an organization dedicated to providing specialized programs for at-risk youths across Pennsylvania. Daikon Youth Services transforms the lives of teens through a range of community-based treatment, vocational training, counseling, and mentoring services. We are honored to support admirable community programs like this one!

For more information or to register for the event, please visit: http://www.konhaus.com/zumba/

Zumbathon

Pennsylvania Traffic Collisions Rarely “Accidents”

Is it inaccurate to use the word “accident” to describe a car crash or traffic collision in which someone was at fault?

The words that people read and that people use make a difference in how they see the world. The Associated Press, which produces the definitive style guide for journalists, is aware of this and so the AP adjusts its style guide to reflect changing cultural perceptions about current issues in the media.

The AP style guide’s rules and recommendations have a profound impact because most reporters refer to the style guide, and thus news stories are shaped by the words that the AP recommends.

Recently, certain media outlets, have urged the AP to include an official entry in its style guide addressing the language used to describe collisions or car crashes that occur.one-car-key-1149771-mWithin its main style book, the Associated Press does not currently provide guidelines about the appropriate terms to describe a car crash. So, use of the word “accident” to describe car collisions has remained widespread in the media and is considered by most of the general public to be acceptable terminology.

Why does this matter, and why are certain journalists recommending a change? One opinion is that the word accident is “part of a cultural permissiveness toward dangerous driving.” (usa.streetsblog.org)

When the media describes a car crash as an accident, someone reading the story may think that the collision just happened or occurred because of bad luck or chance. Our car crash lawyers in Pennsylvania know that this is not true. In reality, a staggering number of collisions happen because drivers make careless or negligent choices.

Streetsblog Network is not the only one to believe that the word accident may not be the correct terminology to use when reporting on a traffic collision. The New York Police Department no longer uses the word because, as the police chief explained in a released statement: “the term ‘accident’ has sometimes given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability associated with a specific event.”  The San Francisco PD has also stopped using the word.

Using the word collision or crash, rather than accident depicts a more realistic stance to society about driver accountability; it sends the message that most traffic collisions are preventable, rather than simply incidents of chance.

Interestingly, as personal injury lawyers, we often find ourselves using the phrases “car accident,” “motorcycle accident,” etc., because these terms have become so common-place. Yet, it’s important for us to keep abreast of growing concern about the deeper meaning of this word. Perhaps we will soon see a major shift in the way the media and the public uses the word “accident.”

Metzger Wickersham law firm handles car crash claims for clients throughout Pennsylvania. The firm has offices in Harrisburg, Shippensburg, Wilkes-Barre, Lancaster, Pottsville and York. Contact Metzger Wickersham toll free at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit us online for a free case evaluation.