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.

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

Where Does PA Stand on Safety Laws for Drivers?

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Feb 2013
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Driving safety should be a top priority for every state in order to protect their citizens and visitors who use the roads every day. Some states, however, do a better job of passing driver safety laws than other states. Every year, the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety report takes a look at which of 15 recommended safety laws have been passed in each state. The Advocates have just released the 10th annual Roadmap of Highway Safety Laws.

Our Harrisburg, PA accident attorneys have reviewed the 2013 Roadmap to see where the state of Pennsylvania stands. We urge every driver to read the Roadmap and learn about the recommended safety laws, the regulations in PA and the areas where the state can improve.

Pennsylvania Safety Laws for Drivers

Here is the Advocates’ summary of how PA is doing when it comes to passing safety laws and regulations to protect drivers:

  • The state doesn’t have a law permitting primary enforcement of seat belt requirements. This means police cannot pull you over for failing to be buckled up.
  • Pennsylvania does not have a law mandating every motorcycle rider wear a helmet while riding.
  • Pennsylvania does have a booster seat law.
  • The state does have a law imposing a minimum age limit of 16 before a learner’s permit can be obtained.
  • The state imposes a six-month holding period on teenage drivers prior to being able to obtain a license.
  • The state requires supervised driving for new teen drivers for between 30 and 50 hours.
  • The state has some night-time restrictions for teenage drivers. However, its laws are not sufficient to get credit from the Advocates.
  • Pennsylvania has imposed laws restricting the number of passengers that can be in the car with a teenaged driver.
  • Pennsylvania has a restriction on the use of cell phones among teen drivers operating vehicles. Again, however, the state’s law is not sufficient to earn it credit from the Advocates.
  • Pennsylvania does not make teenage drivers wait until their 18th birthdays before they become eligible for a full unrestricted driver’s license.
  • Pennsylvania does not have a law requiring all DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
  • The state does not have a child endangerment law for intoxicated or impaired drivers.
  • Pennsylvania has a law imposing a mandatory BAC test requirement, which means that by driving in the state you give implied consent to have a breath test performed with reasonable cause.
  • Pennsylvania has an open container law.
  • Pennsylvania has a restriction on texting while driving that applies to all drivers.

Based on this review of the laws, the Advocates gave the state of Pennsylvania credit for having eight out of the 15 recommended laws intended to improve road safety and protect drivers. The state was given a “Yellow” rating because of its eight laws. A yellow rating is assigned to states that have done some important work in passing driver safety laws and regulations but that still have many more laws to pass in order to make its roadways safer.

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

Harrisburg Residents Advised to Stay Safe When Driving in Snow

22
Feb 2013
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CBS 21 news reported that this winter has been relatively light on snow in Central PA, with fewer flakes than normal. However, the local Harrisburg news station also reported that more severe winter weather and even some storms may be on the horizon.

CBS 21 urges drivers to follow some basic safety tips to stay safe when snow does start to fall. Our Harrisburg, PA injury attorneys also want to suggest that drivers remember smart winter weather practices and stay off the roads when the weather gets bad.

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Snowy Weather

CBS 21 solicited some advice from local residents in order to get some information on what they have done to prepare for winter weather. Suggestions included:

  • Making sure you have good tires on the car. Bad tires will provide little traction for snowy weather and could create a dangerous situation.
  • Avoiding pumping the brakes. Let your brakes work for you, especially if you have anti-lock brakes.
  • Tune out distractions and pay attention when driving in the snow.
  • Staying home when it is snowing outside unless it is necessary for you to head out.
  • Wearing a seat belt every time you get into the car. Seat belts can save lives in accidents caused by bad winter weather.

These tips are great ones that come from residents used to driving in the snow. We’d also like to provide a few additional safe winter driving suggestions including:

  • Driving at a safe speed for the current weather and road conditions. Sometimes, when the weather is bad, it makes sense to drive even below the speed limit in order to have the best chance of avoiding skidding or spinning out of control.
  • Practicing your winter driving technique in an empty parking lot. This is especially important for someone who has never driven in the snow (like a teenager with his license for the first winter). Go with someone who knows how to handle a skid and have them show you what to do if your car starts to get out of control or skid on ice.
  • Keeping all parts of your vehicle properly maintained, including making sure you have enough fluids like windshield wiper fluid and anti-freeze. A car that is in bad condition is not going to perform as well for you when the weather is bad.
  • Adjusting the amount of distance you leave between you and the vehicle that you are following. Tailgating is always a bad idea, but you should leave an even longer following distance than normal when the roads are icy or when the visibility is low. This can help you to avoid a collision that can result from being unable to stop on a patch of ice or from not seeing that the vehicle in front of you has slowed or stopped.

If you follow these safe winter weather tips, you can hopefully stay safe when the next patch of bad weather hits and you can make it through to spring without becoming involved in a winter accident.

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

Harrisburg Car Accident Lawyers Comment on Fatal Highway Accident Near State Capital

6
Feb 2013
By:

Pennsylvania accident lawyers Metzger Wickersham weigh in on a car crash near Harrisburg that resulted in the deaths of two people.

Two people were killed in an auto accident on Interstate 283 near Harrisburg at around 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2013, according to an article published by PennLive.com. The accident, which police said happened after a man was driving in the wrong direction, occurred near mile-marker one near the I-283 interchange in Swatara Township. The same road was the site of another fatal accident on June 6, 2012, involving a tractor trailer, according to PennLive.com.

Fatal auto accidents caused by negligent actions – like driving in the wrong direction – unfortunately happen more often than many people might realize, according to Harrisburg auto accident lawyers at Metzger Wickersham.

“No one ever expects a loved one to die when he or she gets behind the wheel of a car,” Metzger Wickersham attorney Ted Knauss said today. “Our firm has worked with many families of car accident victims over the years, and it never gets any easier to see the pain these families endure after their loved one passes away due to someone else’s negligence.”

“Seeking the advice of an injury attorney may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re dealing with the pain of a loss,” Knauss said, “but fatal car accidents are far more complex than many people realize. It helps to have an experienced lawyer on your side to protect your rights and help you through the process.”

The Feb. 4 accident happened due to a man driving the wrong direction on I-283 southbound in a Hyundai accident, according to state police Trooper Rob Hicks, as reported by PennLive. The Hyundai collided head on with a Volkswagen Jetta. Police are not sure why the driver of the Hyundai was driving the wrong direction on the highway.

Fatal motor vehicle accidents happen every day in Pennsylvania, according to government statistics. Specifically, more than three people were killed every day in auto accidents in Pennsylvania in 2011, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That year, 1,286 people died in motor vehicle accidents statewide. In Dauphin County, 32 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2011, the NHTSA reported.

About Metzger Wickersham

Established in 1888 by Frank B. Wickersham, the law firm of Metzger Wickersham has a well-earned reputation throughout the state as a top-notch team of Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers. The law firm’s specialties include auto accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, Social Security Disability, workers’ compensation, premises liability, and dog bite cases. The law firm has six offices located in Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pottsville, Shippensburg, Wilkes-Barre and York. Attorneys at Metzger Wickersham work on a contingency fee basis; clients only pay for legal services if their case has a successful outcome.

For more information or to schedule a free case evaluation, contact Metzger Wickersham at (800) WIN-WIN-1 or online at www.mwke.com

Metzger Wickersham
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 238-8187