Archive for the ‘Auto Accidents’ Category

Sending a Text to a Driver Could Make You Liable

textingIn many states, drivers face fines for texting while driving – and in some states, drivers even face prison time when their texting while driving causes injury or death.

But it may not just be drivers who can end up in trouble for accidents caused by texting while driving.

Recently, a New Jersey state appellate court published an opinion establishing that text message senders can also be held legally responsible if they know that the recipient of the text message is driving and likely to read the text while behind the wheel.

The opinion, published last week, says, “We do not hold that someone who texts to a person driving is liable for that person’s negligent actions…” but “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”

It may sound like a stretch, but a texter who is not physically in the car at the time of an accident could still be considered “electronically present.”

As texting becomes increasingly prevalent, the standard described in the opinion certainly sets a precedent for assessing liability in future cases involving texting while driving. Texters should be prudent about carrying on a text message conversation with a person they know is driving.

Source: Philly.com, “Sending texts to drivers could draw penalties

Toyota Recalls Vehicles Due to Seat Belt Problems

toyota recallWhen consumers buy a car, they expect it will operate safely and that all promised features will work as intended. This includes major parts such as the brakes or engine, as well as important safety features like air bags and seat belts. While seat belts may seem like a simple component of a vehicle, they are one of the most crucial. The use of a seat belt can significantly reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a motor-vehicle collision.

Recently, several Toyota models were recalled as a result of problems with the seat belts. The recall, which affected around 342,000 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks manufactured between 2004 and 2011, was announced in early August. The recall was prompted by a problem with the screws used to fasten the seat belt’s pre-tensioners.

The pre-tensioners are mounted on the rear doors of the truck and are attached to both the driver’s seat belt mechanism and to the passenger’s seat belt mechanism. The job of the pre-tensioners is to pull or cinch the seat belt tightly against the motorist’s body when an impact is sensed in the vehicle. This prevents motorists from being thrown as far forward upon impact and can help to prevent motorists from being ejected in the event of a crash.

In the recalled Toyota vehicles, when the rear doors are opened and closed repeatedly and/or opened and closed too forcefully, the screws can start to loosen. As a result, the seat belt will no longer pull tight across the driver or passenger in an impact. Even worse, the seat belt could come loose entirely, putting motorists at great risk in an accident.

This recent Toyota recall follows an earlier recall that occurred in March, also prompted by seat belt issues. In the March recall, 209,000 FJ Cruiser SUVs had to be taken off the roads because of a possibility that the seatbelt would detach if the rear door panel cracked.

The recalls of two separate Toyota vehicles for seat belt problems in such a short period of time mean that many consumers were put at risk by Toyota’s potentially dangerous designs. Auto manufacturers that make unsafe products may be held legally responsible for any harm that occurs as a direct result of releasing those dangerous products to the public.

We can only hope that the Toyota recalls will prevent people from getting seriously hurt or killed as the result of dangerous design or mechanical defect.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact the Pennsylvania defective vehicle lawyers at Metzger Wickersham. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit us online for a free case evaluation.

Interesting Lancaster County Motorcycle Accident Case Involving a Pig

pig crossing road

On the unusual front, Metzger Wickersham attorney Clark DeVere recently represented a 20-year-old man who was injured when a pig ran out in front of his motorcycle in Lancaster County. Our client suffered shoulder separation, severe road rash and scarring as a result of the accident.

The owner of the 70-lb pig was a farmer. Attorney DeVere investigated the facts and was able to negotiate with the farmer to reach a fair settlement for his injured client.

Over the years, our law firm has skillfully handled a wide variety of accident claims. We take on the unusual, difficult cases and persevere to get our clients the justice they deserve.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident or any other type of accident caused by the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with Metzger Wickersham today for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys. Call us toll free at 1-800-946-9461, or submit our online contact form.

Construction Sites are a Dangerous Place to Work

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA, a part of the US Department of Labor, was put in place to ensure safe working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

The goal of the administration is to prevent workers from being seriously injured or killed on the job. As part of its agenda, OSHA works to identify methods to reduce falls and other dangers in the high-hazard construction industry.

OSHA refers to the top leading causes of death for construction workers as the “fatal four”:

  • falls
  • electrocution
  • struck by object
  • caught in or between

Out of the fatal four, falls rank number 1 as the leading cause of death in construction. According to OSHA, there were 264 fall fatalities (255 falls to lower level) out of 774 total fatalities in construction in 2010. 46 of those fall fatalities occurred in Pennsylvania.

OSHA promotes three steps for preventing falls as part of their Fall Prevention Campaign.

  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
  • PROVIDE the right equipment
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

As a Pennsylvania work accident lawyer, I strongly agree that receiving proper training and using all necessary safety precautions can reduce the chance of an accident happening on a construction site — however, I also realize that, unfortunately, no amount of legislation or regulations can fully prevent all accidents from occurring.

Construction workers play a vital role in our economy and local communities, and when they do get injured, they deserve to have their rights protected. Metzger Wickersham law firm helps injured workers with their workers’ compensation claims, and our experienced work injury attorneys can also investigate if any negligence may have been involved in a construction site accident.

If you’ve been injured on the job, contact Metzger Wickersham today for a free consultation: 1-800-Win-Win-1 (1-800-946-9461).

Three Injuries Occur at Fireworks Show in Pennsylvania

Summer is the season for fireworks, as they appear not just on the Fourth of July but also at summer fairs, festivals and sporting events. While fireworks can be enjoyable to watch and can be a great way to commemorate a celebration, fireworks can also be dangerous when the proper safety precautions are not followed.

Those who operate fireworks shows must comply with all state and local safety laws and regulations and must ensure that the fireworks show is done safely so that no accidents occur.  As Pennsylvania injury lawyers we know that when a company or entity responsible for a fireworks show fails in its obligations to ensure the safety of the public, the negligent parties could face potential injury lawsuits.

Fireworks Show Causes Injury in PA

Recently, an accident at a fireworks show that occurred 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh illustrated the dangers associated with attending a fireworks event.

According to news reports, the fireworks show was being presented at a local area high school in western PA on the Fourth of July.

Approximately seven minutes into the show, a shell from one of the fireworks exploded into the bleachers where spectators were sitting at the time.  A woman who was in the bleachers watching the show sustained a cut to her head, bruises and other injuries.  There were also two children injured in the incident. The kids sustained puncture wounds when projectiles burst out of the misdirected fireworks shell.

It has not yet been made clear who sponsored the fireworks display that led to the injuries, nor is it clear what company was hired to produce the show. However, it is possible that those who put on the show could be held legally liable for the accident and made to compensate the injured woman and children.

Burn injuries can be painful and costly to treat, often requiring skin grafting if the injuries are serious. Those liable for the accident could be responsible for paying for all associated medical bills and costs of the injured parties, as well as for other losses arising from the incident.

In order to be held legally responsible, those who put on the fireworks show would need to have done something negligent or careless that put the patrons of the show at risk, such as fail to ensure that patrons are seated a safe distance away from where the fireworks are being set off. If any safety regulations or industry best practices were violated, the injured victims may have legal recourse.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Pennsylvania, contact Metzger Wickersham law firm at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461).

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A Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law Firm Rich in History

2013 marks the 125th anniversary of Metzger Wickersham law firm. In honor of our anniversary, please enjoy these historical photos and tidbits of the early years at Metzger Wickersham. For additional information, please see our post on the History of Metzger Wickersham.

Metzger Wickersham founder, Frank B. Wickersham

Frank B. Wickersham

“As a practitioner of his profession, he enjoyed a large and varied clientele and was always astute to protect the interests of his clients… He was particularly helpful to young lawyers and frequently aided them with many useful suggestions.” (Memorial and Resolution of Honorable Frank B. Wickersham, by the Dauphin County Bar Association)

Born April 7, 1863, Frank Borbridge Wickersham was one of 12 children. He obtained his preliminary education in the public schools and taught school for several years before graduating from the Cumberland Valley State Normal School (now known as Shippensburg University) in 1884. The following year, Mr. Wickersham registered as a law student under Senator McCarrell. He was admitted to the Dauphin County bar on June 9, 1888 and soon after began the law practice that is known today as Metzger Wickersham.

During his career, Mr. Wickersham served as solicitor for the borough of Steelton, among other local leadership positions. He was highly esteemed by his colleagues and was elected as a member of the Pennsylvania state legislature for two terms. He also served as Assistant District Attorney and as president of the Dauphin County Bar Association. In 1920, Frank B. Wickersham left his law practice to become a judge. He served twenty-two years as a judge until he retired on January 5, 1942.

Honorable Frank B. Wickersham passed away in Harrisburg on February 20, 1945, at which time he was remembered by his colleagues at the Dauphin County Bar as “one of the oldest and most respected members.”

Sources: “History of Dauphin County” / “Memorial and Resolution of Honorable Frank B. Wickersham, by the Dauphin County Bar Association”

Maurice R. Metzger soon joined Mr. Wickersham in the practice of law

Maurice R. Metzger

Photo credit: “Reminiscences of an Octogenarian” by Bruce M. Metzger (1995)

Also a former school teacher, Maurice R. Metzger joined Frank B. Wickersham in the practice of law to form the partnership of Wickersham & Metzger in the early 1900s.

Maurice Rutt Metzger was born in Londonderry Township on September 12, 1884 and was raised with a farming background. His early years attending a one-room school developed his characteristics of hard work, patience and persistence. Upon graduating as valedictorian from Middletown High School in 1902, Mr. Metzger taught school for several years. He then attended Lebanon Valley College from which he graduated in 1907. Following Lebanon Valley College, Mr. Metzger attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was subsequently admitted to practice law.

Maurice Metzger practiced law for 55 years, and although his main office was always in Harrisburg, he also met with clients in the evenings and on Saturdays at his home in Middletown.

Besides practicing law, Mr. Metzger was elected to serve for two terms as a Republican representative of Dauphin County in the Pennsylvania state legislature. He also served as President of the Dauphin County Bar Association and was known as a “powerful factor in the mercantile and industrial enterprises of Harrisburg.”

Maurice R. Metzger

“Harrisburg and Dauphin County: a Sketch of the History for the Past Twenty-five Years, 1900-1925, Volume 2″ by George Patterson Donehoo

Mr. Metzger’s “courtesy to both clients and fellow lawyers and his willingness to help younger lawyers as preceptor and adviser is almost legendary… He was noted for his calmness, patience and understanding… He was a student of the law and enjoyed many hours in the rocking chair at his office in Harrisburg reading law and preparing his court cases. His reputation for hard work, fairness and humanity followed him throughout the years of his long and active practice… He is remembered alike by his former clients and fellow lawyers as the epitome of the general practitioner, who practiced law and treated his fellow men with kindness, ability and fairness.” (Memorial and Resolution of Maurice R. Metzger, by the Dauphin County Bar Association).

Sources: “Memorial and Resolution of Maurice R. Metzger, by the Dauphin County Bar Association” / “Reminiscences of an Octogenarian,” by Bruce M. Metzger

Metzger Wickersham business and legal directory listings from 1917

Boyd's Harrisburg City Directory

Boyd’s Harrisburg City Directory, 1917

Wickersham & Metzger

Hubbell’s Legal Directory for Lawyers and Businessmen, 1917

 

Past Partners/Shareholders of Metzger Wickersham and their years of service at the firm

Frank B. Wickersham, 1888-1918
Maurice R. Metzger, 1909-1965
F. Brewster Wickersham, 1920-1973
Edward E. Knauss III, 1945-1982
Christian S. Erb Jr., 1957-1997
Richard B. Wickersham, 1960?-1971
Robert E. Yetter, 1965-2000
James F. Carl, 1971-2012
Richard H. Wix, 1970-1972
Robert P. Reed, 1972-1998
Edward E. Knauss IV, 1974-Present
Jered L. Hock, 1974-2006
Karl R. Hildabrand, 1982-2002
Richard B. Druby, 1989-1999
Steven P. Miner, 1993-2006
Clark DeVere, 1993-Present
Francis J. Lafferty IV, 1999-2011
Andrew W. Norfleet, 2000-2011

F. Brewster Wickersham, Photo credit: American Bar Association Journal, 1959

Photo of Edward E. Knauss, III taken around 1980

Voice-Activated Technology is a Safety Risk for Drivers

We all know that electronic gadgets, like our trusted iPhones, can be a dangerous distraction when used behind the wheel.

The obvious solution to stop the distracted driving epidemic is to encourage people to refrain from using any electronic or mobile device while driving.

Yet, as concern about distracted driving dramatically increases, car manufacturers have instead been busy installing voice-activated technology in new vehicle models, so that drivers can have the luxury of updating their Facebook status or Tweeting while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Safe alternative, right?

Image courtesy of The New York Times

Wrong. A new study says that voice-activated systems actually create a different and worse safety risk: taking a driver’s mind off the road. Automakers and consumer electronic organizations say that voice recognition systems are safer because they are hands-free, but safety advocates argue that the technology creates a dangerous cognitive distraction.

The study, conducted by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, is the most exhaustive look to date at new in-car technology.

Read the New York Times article here.

Read more about AAA’s new research findings here.

Pennsylvania Bicycle Safety in Focus this May

Learning to ride a bicycle is a right-of-passage for most children, and many kids and adults ride bikes either for recreation or to commute to school and work. In Pennsylvania, these bicycle riders will find a state that is doing a pretty good job of meeting their needs. In fact, according to the Detroit Free Press, PA ranks #15 out of 50 states when it comes to being bicycle-friendly.

Of course our Pennsylvania bicycle accident attorneys know ranking #15 out of 50 means that there is still plenty of room to do better and to make the state even safer for bicycle riders. This will require a joint commitment from drivers and from riders themselves as everyone will need to obey safety rules and laws. To help encourage bicyclists and drivers to take steps to improve safety, PA is participating in National Bike Safety Awareness Month.

How You Can Make PA Safer for Bicycle Riders

There are a lot of different things going on during National Bike Safety Awareness Month, including organized events where riders are encouraged to bike to work or school. The hope is that if many thousands of people ride to work or school, drivers will take notice of the bicycle riders and will be reminded of the importance of bike safety.

The Department of Transportation is also rolling out a Roll Model campaign during Bike Safety Month. The campaign is targeting parents specifically and it encourages them to model good behavior for their kids by wearing a helmet when riding a bike. Parents are also urged to make a rule that their kids must wear helmets and advised on how to ensure that a child’s helmet fits properly.

The Roll Model campaign also goes beyond encouraging parents to help keep their own kids safe. Parents who ride bikes are also drivers. And, as drivers, they can take some concrete steps to help reduce the risk of bicycle accidents occurring. In fact, all drivers — and not just parents of bike riding kids — should follow some basic tips to help keep bicyclist safer on the road.

Safety tips to practice both during Bike Safety Month and Beyond include:

  • Paying careful attention while driving and watching for bicycle riders. Be careful to watch for riders in blind spots and avoid doing things such as driving while distracted that could cause you to miss the fact that there is a bicyclist in your path.
  • Leaving bicycle riders plenty of room. You shouldn’t pass a bike rider unless you have plenty of space to get around. In fact, in PA, it is illegal to pass a bicycle rider unless you can leave at least four feet of space. Yahoo reports that this 4-foot law went into effect in 2012.

Drivers who respect bicycle riders, who give them plenty of space and who remember that bike riders have the same rights as anyone else on the road will help to reduce the number of bicycle accidents. Hopefully, if drivers make a commitment to being careful, PA can become an even more bike friendly state and can move up on the list from #15.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, contact Metzger Wickersham at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Pennsylvania Parents & Proper Use of Car Seats to Avoid Injuries

According to Health Day News, car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids four years of age and younger, at least in part because these young children are often not properly restrained. While kids under four need to be in car seats, many parents aren’t really sure how to use them correctly. Unfortunately, a new study shows that even when kids get into a car accident and are taken to the emergency room, parents are still not educated properly on safe car seat use.

Our Pennsylvania accident attorneys know that a child can be very seriously hurt in any car accident. If the child is not properly secured into a car seat, however, the injuries are likely to be more severe. It is imperative that every effort be made to provide parents with better education on car seat use so kids can be better protected in the event that a crash happens.

Parents Not Receiving Car Seat Education

A recent Health Day News article released information from a study lead by a clinical lecturer in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The lead author of the study indicated that a visit to the emergency room after an auto accident presents an extremely important chance to educate families about safe car seat use in order to help keep kids out of the hospital in case a future accident happens.

Yet, the study shows that parents simply aren’t receiving this information because emergency rooms are failing to provide it. The study author indicated that the research showed emergency room physicians were largely unaware of resources in the community intended to show parents how to use child seats safely. As such, emergency room physicians simply don’t provide this potentially life-saving information to parents.

This is a huge missed opportunity to save lives, since more than 130,000 kids ages 13 and under go to the emergency room each year after getting hurt in a car wreck. More than one-third of doctors surveyed, however, indicated that they didn’t know if the emergency departments where they worked even had information available about safe use of child seats.

When kids are treated in general emergency departments without specialized pediatric care, parents are even less likely to get information on proper use of child seats than in healthcare environments where the treating physicians have a pediatric specialty. Since almost 85 percent of kids who get into car accidents are treated in general emergency rooms, this means that the vast majority of parents and kids aren’t getting any support for how to use car accidents more safely.

Protecting Your Kids

While hospitals should do better as far as making sure parents are educated about safe car seat use after an auto accident, parents can also get help and information on their own.

At most local police stations, there is information on safe use of child seats. Parents may be able to attend special events where they are taught how to secure their child properly, and can get a hands-on demonstration from community groups and programs specifically intended to teach safe child seat use.

Parents should also be aware that car seats need to be replaced after every car accident with vehicle intrusion; with air bags that deployed; or with a car that was not drivable after the wreck.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, contact Metzger Wickersham injury lawyers at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

2 Killed in Seton Hill Lacrosse Team Bus Crash near Carlisle, PA

Seton Hill’s women’s lacrosse team was on their way to Millersville University for a game, when the team bus veered off the Pennsylvania Turnpike and crashed into a tree on Saturday morning, March 16th,  just before 9am. It was a one vehicle accident, and police couldn’t immediately determine what caused the crash. The accident is currently under investigation.

According to news reports, the pregnant team coach, Kristina Quigley, and her unborn baby sadly died in the crash. Quigley, 30, of Greensburg, was known as a “very happy person, very passionate about life, about her players, about her job and most importantly about her family,” reported the Huffington Post. She was married and had a young son, Gavin.

The bus driver, Anthony Guaetta, 61, also died in the accident. Numerous other passengers were injured and all were taken to local hospitals as a precaution.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, call Metzger Wickersham’s Pennsylvania injury lawyers for a free consultation.

Metzger Wickersham
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 238-8187
www.mwke.com