ARCHIVES: July 2017
Advocates Urge Congress to Take Time with Driverless Cars
In just a few years, self-driving robotaxis will share the road with human drivers. While humans routinely drive 10 to 15 miles per hour above the speed limit, these self-driving cars will be programmed to drive at the speed limit and abide all traffic rules. As a result, safety and consumer advocates are urging lawmakers to dramatically expand the testing of these vehicles.
According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, automakers should be obligated to guarantee the safety of driverless vehicles before they are tested on roadways.
Lawmakers in the House of Congress are debating the first federal legislations geared toward driverless cars while counterparts in the Senate are working out their own demands to guide approval for these autonomous vehicles. Companies such as Apple, Inc. and Ford Motor Co. are racing to develop the technology that would make roads safer.
The Metrics of Human Behavior
Despite driverless vehicles being likely to carry cargo or passengers in limited areas over the upcoming three to five years, experts say it will take decades before robotaxis can safely share the roads with human-piloted cars because programmers need to understand human behavior and local traffic characteristics.
Last year, highway fatalities in the United States exceeded more than 40,000, and highway injuries exceeded two million. Driverless cars are predicted to put a major dent in these figures.
Congress is in the process of considering a bill that would enable the expansion of on-road testing for driverless vehicles, which manufacturers want to prove the safety of these cars. The federal measures would also prohibit states from enacting different regulations overseeing the safety and performance of autonomous trucks and cars.
This comes at a time when auto manufacturers are racing to outpace tech companies to commercialize driverless cars. Ford Motor Co. plans on putting driverless vehicles on the road in less than five years, while General Motors has recently invested $500 million in Lyft, Inc., Apple recently announced that the company is leasing a small fleet of cars with self-driving technology.
Despite these numbers, automakers are still capped at 2,500 vehicles annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They are now asking congress to dramatically expand the number of driverless vehicles they can deploy.
Are Driverless Cars Safer?
Driverless cars are designed to have a superhuman-like ability to recognize the world around them by using sensors to gather data about their surrounding environment. These sensors include lasers, radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors, while GPS and mapping technologies are also used. They are also expected to obey all traffic laws, including the speed limit.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Are On Your Side
If you have been involved in a car accident due to another person’s negligence or auto defect, contact Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. today to get the help of our experienced Columbia car accident lawyers. Call us at 803-929-3600 or or contact us online.
With six offices located throughout South Carolina, we serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, including those in the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.
Fatality and Seven Injuries Close Rides at Ohio State Fair
Amusement park rides have been closed at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, Ohio after a ride broke apart and caused a fatality and a varying range of personal injuries for seven individuals on opening day. On Wednesday night around 7:24 pm, the incident occurred when a ride called the Fire Ball malfunctioned while in the middle of a swinging motion, and broke apart, ejecting several riders. One rider, an 18-year-old man, sustained fatal injuries, three riders sustained critical injuries, one rider is in serious condition, and three other individuals were released from the hospital. Although the state fair is currently open until August 6, all rides have been shut down until additional safety inspections are complete.
More than 10 rides did not pass safety inspections at the Ohio State Fair and have not opened. Despite receiving numerous inspections by a third-party safety inspector, the Fire Ball caused a catastrophic accident, and prompted state fairs in California, Illinois, and New Jersey to close similar rides. The Monroe, New Jersey company who brought the Fire Ball to the fair is working with experts to determine why the ride malfunctioned, and if the ride may have contained a defective part or manufacturing error in its design.
If you have been injured due to a defective product, the Columbia products liability lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. will fight for you. Call us at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 or contact us online. With offices located in South Carolina, we serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, including those in the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.
Executive Order Halting Truck Speed Limiter Rule
In 2015, 4,311 large trucks and buses caused or were involved in fatal crashes.
After several years of discussion, debates, and truck accident data analysis, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a speed limiter rule applicable to all new large trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds. The proposed speed limiter rule purports that it would decrease the number of fatal crashes involving vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds on U.S. roads that have speed limits of at least 55 mph.
The current administration halted the speed limiter rule, along with hundreds of other regulations, by way of executive order of the President. The executive order affects 43 proposed rules that are designed to improve safety, 10 of those rules focusing on highway safety. The executive order requires agencies to halt two existing rules for each rule implemented, due to unnecessary rules negatively affecting business, slowing down hiring, and impeding economic growth.
The New Rule
The speed limiter rule would require all new trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices that set a maximum speed. Trucking companies operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices in their commercial vehicles at or below the designated speed. The government agencies advocate the speed limiter rule as a life-saving safety measure. In addition to saving lives, the speed limiter rule would save more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was issued in September 2016 and the public comment period ended, after an extension, on December 7, 2016. As the government agencies tasked highway safety, the NHTSA and FMCSA utilized countless resources and work hours to apply their trucking safety expertise in the speed limiter proposal and rule. The agencies received, considered, and responded to 2253 public comments on the speed limiter rule and the effect on trucking safety in the requisite analysis.
Government agencies undertake the often years-long painstaking rulemaking process with great attention and due diligence, with an eye on reaching a compromise of various business, political, and personal interests of the American public. Rulemaking is an integral part of the democratic process, allowing the public, individuals, and companies alike, to weigh in on the measures that will affect their lives and businesses.
Almost 50 percent of the halted regulations were required, in part, by Congress. As part of our country’s system of government, agencies are required to adopt Congress-mandated rules. Now, due to the executive order, these agencies must eliminate expenditures by cutting other programs and regulations to be able to implement safety measures, including the speed limiter rule which was designed to lower the incidence of truck accidents. The speed limiter rule is one of the costliest pending transportation regulations, and it cannot be implemented until the Department of Transportation cuts existing rules resulting in billions of dollars in savings.
The American Trucking Association and Road Safe America petitioned the NHTSA in 2006 to require speed limiters to increase truck safety and reduce trucking accidents. Road Safe America was formed by the parents of Cullum Owings, who was fatally injured in 2002 when a speeding truck rear-ended his car, which was stopped in traffic. The driver was unable to stop partly due to excessive speed.
The Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Victims of Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one has been involved in a wreck with a big-rig or commercial truck, our truck accident lawyers in Columbia are ready and prepared to help you. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we can help you when a truck accident causes injuries, damage to your vehicle, lost wages, insurance disputes, or other issues.Contact us online or call our offices at 803-929-3600 to schedule a free consultation at one of our six convenient office locations.
Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving
Most people have heard about the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, but few are aware of drowsy driving. An American Automobile Association (AAA) study reveals that drowsy driving presents the same accident risk as drunk driving. Compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours a night, those who miss two to three hours of sleep quadruple their risk of getting in car accidents.
A Good Night’s Sleep is Essential
The amount of sleep a person requires for optimal functioning varies depending on several factors, including age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that teenagers get eight to ten hours of sleep per night and adults get at least seven hours. The AAA’s Director for Traffic Safety, Advocacy, and Research notes that teenagers, older adults, and people who aren’t getting enough sleep are at the greatest risk of being involved in a drowsy driving car accident.
Drowsy Driving Facts and Statistics
The more sleep-deprived drivers are, the more likely drowsy driving wrecks are to occur. The AAA study found that drivers who get five to six hours of sleep are twice as likely to get in an accident, those who get four to five hours are more than four times as likely, and those who get less than four hours of sleep are almost 12 times more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving car accident. According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep slows reaction time, decreases alertness, and impairs judgment and vision; the same effects and level of impairment as alcohol intoxication. The driving performance of those who are sleep deprived is similar, and sometimes even worse, than those who are intoxicated.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
The National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans have driven while sleep deprived. However, many people do not realize that they are engaging in drowsy driving or falsely believe that they can overcome their sleepiness. Signs of driver fatigue include difficulty focusing, heavy eyelids, yawning, drifting from your lane, feeling restless or irritable, and having difficulty remembering the last few miles driven.
Preventing Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
At least 100,000 police-reported car wrecks per year are the result of drowsy driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To reduce your risk of being involved in a drowsy driving car accident, make sure to regularly get a good night’s sleep and, if possible, take a 15 to 20-minute nap before driving. If you feel sleepy, drink some coffee or stop and take a break. When driving long distances, take regular rest breaks and take turns driving if traveling with a companion.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Car Accidents
Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in South Carolina. If you have been injured in a drowsy driving car accident, contact the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.. We are here to help you get justice, maximize your financial recovery, and get your life back on track. Our experienced legal team works from offices in Columbia, Charleston, Rock Hill, Aiken, Florence, and Sumter, South Carolina. We also represent clients in counties throughout the state including Columbia, Lexington County, Richland County, and Kershaw County. Contact us online or call us at 803-929-3600 to schedule a free consultation.
Truck Drivers to Face More Sleep Apnea Rules
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a medical condition that causes disruption of breathing while sleeping. The upper airways collapse frequently, causing breathing to stop and start, often leaving the person fatigued and with excessive daytime drowsiness. If left untreated, OSA can lead to cardiac conditions. A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that truck drivers with untreated OSA have a preventable crash rate that is five times higher than truckers without OSA. Drowsy driving causes up to 20 percent of all large-truck crashes.
Opposition from Drivers
Certain trucking companies require drivers with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher to be tested for sleep apnea. A driver who protested and provided a doctor’s note that stated that he didn’t need the test was fired when he refused to comply. The trucker in this case took his employer to court for wrongful termination, alleging his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had been violated, but ended up losing the case. He appealed the Eighth Circuit Court’s decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court had decided not to hear the case, meaning that screening for sleep apnea by trucking companies will continue and likely increase.
Some trucking companies not only screen for OSA, but monitor affected drivers to see if they are complying with treatment. The most common treatment for OSA is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which keeps airways open during sleep by pumping air through a mask worn over the nose and mouth. The treatment must be used consistently to be effective. For this reason, trucking companies monitor usage of the CPAP machine to ensure drivers with sleep apnea are getting enough sleep, aiming for a 70 percent usage rate. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says this practice violates federal privacy rules on medical records and personal health information.
OOIDA also disagrees with the practice of sleep apnea testing based on BMI. Additionally, the group denies any link between truck crashes and sleep apnea and states that federal collision data shows that only a small percentage of fatal crashes involving large trucks were due to fatigue.
Regulations for OSA
Currently there are no federal regulations for transportation workers regarding tracking and treating sleep apnea. However, two advisory committees to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have recommended sleep tests for drivers with a BMI of 35 or higher. Thus far, the FMCSA has not acted on the recommendations, as FMCSA regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea. However, the FMCSA regulations state that any medical condition likely to interfere with the ability to drive safely should be treated before the driver can be considered medically qualified to drive.
Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Victims Injured in Truck Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident caused by drowsy driving or another form of negligence, we can help you. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., our experienced truck accident lawyers in Columbia will fight to make sure you receive the maximum compensation allowable in your case. Call us today at 800-531-9780 for a free consultation or contact us online. We have six convenient locations throughout South Carolina to serve you, including but not limited to residents of Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, and Summerville, South Carolina.
Helmets for Motorcyclists
Studies show that the number of motorcycle accidents with trauma cases have vastly increased since a helmet law in Michigan was repealed in 2012. The law made it mandatory for motorcyclists to wear helmets, however that is no longer the case. The repealed law allows riders to wear helmets at their own accord if they meet the requirements set in place, including obtaining proper insurance coverage, significant training and experience with riding a motorcycle, and if the rider is over the age of 21.
Researchers analyzed motorcycle injury data for three years before and after the helmet laws were changed. The data was gathered from 29 different Michigan hospitals and included reports on over 4,700 victims of motorcycle accidents. The studies showed that the number of trauma injuries more than doubled in accidents involving motorcyclists without helmets, from 20 to 44 percent. It also illustrated that riders who opted not to wear helmets were twice as likely to experience head trauma or a facial injury; a 28 percent increase in facial fractures and a 56 percent increase in soft tissue injuries. The reports also showed the rate of injuries increased from 25.5 percent while the mandatory helmet law was in place, to 37 percent with the appealed law.
Earlier studies show that wearing a helmet can prevent up to 40 percent of fatal injuries and 13 percent of nonfatal injuries. Facial injuries increased for riders not wearing helmets, including scrapes, bruises, cheekbone fractures, and facial cuts. Statistics show that one in three motorcyclists do not wear a helmet while riding, despite the safety risks. Investigators claim this number is higher in states without motorcycle helmet laws in place. Additional information from the study can be found in the June issue of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal. The lead author, Dr. Nicholas Adams, has been urging state legislators to reinstate mandatory helmet-wearing laws to prevent the number of trauma injuries from further increasing.
Columbia Motorcycle Accident Lawyers of Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Victims of Motorcycle Accidents
At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we understand the pain and suffering that comes along with a serious accident. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident, it is important to know your rights. Call Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. today for a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers at (800) 531-9780 or complete an online inquiry.
Our motorcycle accident lawyers can offer legal services to accident victims in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, and Summerville, South Carolina.
Hiring a Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ Compensation can often be difficult for most workers and their employers to understand. Due to the many complexities and legal nuances involved, unrepresented workers are at risk of receiving an unfair award. Working with an experienced lawyer can help injured workers avoid costly mistakes, and ensure that they receive the full amount of benefits to which they are entitled.
What a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Do for You
An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer will develop a solid case that incorporates necessary medical evidence and witness testimony to prove the cause and severity of the work injury. He or she will also make sure that all filing deadlines are met. Claimants who are not represented by counsel often rely on the “independent” doctors who perform medical examinations on behalf of the insurance companies. However, these physicians work for the insurance company, and therefore have an incentive to downplay or minimize the severity of the injury and associated costs.
A lawyer can also help arrange for vocational experts to testify about the requirements of the job, and medical experts to testify about restrictions or tasks that the worker can no longer perform because of their work injury.
Moreover, an injured worker may have a claim outside of the Workers’ Compensation system against a third party. Potential defendants in these cases include anyone whose negligence contributed to the work accident and resulting injuries, with the exception of the victim’s employer or coworkers. Third-party liability claims commonly arise out of work-related car accidents, and injuries caused by defective tools or equipment. A skilled Workers’ Compensation law firm can identify any such potential claims to maximize financial recovery for the injured party.
When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
You should hire a Workers’ Compensation lawyer as soon as possible if any of the following are true:
- Your employer denies your claim for benefits. This happens far too often. Worse, many employees are reluctant to appeal the denial of benefits for fear of retaliation. If you have been injured on the job, you have rights.
- The settlement you have been offered does not cover all your medical bills and lawful lost wages. Do not rely on the Workers’ Compensation judge to ensure you receive a fair settlement. Judges will usually approve any settlement that is not blatantly unfair, but that does not mean it is a settlement in your best interest.
- You have sustained an injury that requires surgery.
- You are no longer able to return to work on a regular basis in your current job.
- You are no longer able to return to work on a regular basis in any job, because you have been severely disabled. If so, you may be entitled to lifetime weekly payments or a single lump sum for permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability. Insurance companies often fight these types of claims the hardest, because they are the most costly. It is essential that you hire an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer in these types of cases to get the settlement you deserve.
- You have a pre-existing disability.
- You want to make sure that you get the best settlement possible, and would feel more comfortable knowing that someone is representing your interests.
- You receive Social Security disability
- You are fired, demoted, or given a reduction in hours or pay because you filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.
- You suspect that you have a claim against a third-party (such as an equipment manufacturer, a motorist, or property owner) for your work-related injury.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are Dedicated to Fighting for Injured Employees
The experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are prepared to answer your questions and help you start building your case. Call us at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 or contact us online today.
Our offices are located throughout South Carolina where we proudly serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, including those in the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.
New Bill Makes Bars Liable for DUI Fatalities and Injuries
A new bill in South Carolina went into effect on July 1, 2017 making bars and other businesses that serve alcohol after 5 pm liable for fatalities and personal injuries caused by drunk patrons. Under what is called the Dram Shop bill, businesses and individuals who serve alcohol would be required to carry a minimum of $1 million of liability insurance to cover victims who incur injuries, paralysis, or fatalities due to alcohol-related offenses.
Three years ago, a drunk driver hit a former Dillon, South Carolina police officer who now suffers from paralysis and a permanent traumatic brain injury due to the car wreck, which prompted the bill. Since the bar where the drunk driver was served did not carry proper liability insurance, the city of Dillon absorbed the cost of over one million dollars to pay for the officer’s medical expenses.
With the implementation of this new bill, which our attorney, W. Hugh McAngus, Jr., was instrumental in getting passed, victims of drunk driving car accidents perpetrated by drivers who were overserved at bars and other establishments that serve alcohol, will receive proper compensation for their injuries and mental trauma. Businesses who overserve alcohol to patrons who commit alcohol-related crimes will be held liable and accountable for contributing to accidents that do potentially irreparable harm to others.
If you have been injured by a reckless or drunk driver, the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. will fight for you. Call us at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 or contact us online. With offices located in South Carolina, we serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, including those in the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.
Summer Truck Tire Blowouts
Summer travel can be particularly hazardous for a number of reasons: there is often more traffic on roadways due to summer vacations, more young drivers on the roads, more intoxicated drivers, and more dangerous tire blowouts. Most drivers have seen the evidence of truck tire blowouts strewn across the highway—strips of exploded tires and skid marks veering across the lines of traffic. When traffic is heavy, blowouts can lead to devastating truck accidents. According to Popular Mechanics, the period between mid-May and the end of October is known as tire-blowout season. This is because the heat of the pavement can transfer to the rubber tires, and any weakness in the tire’s structure can be catastrophic.
A tire blowout is not the same as a flat tire. When a tire blows out, it bursts, causing giant 18-wheelers to become unstable. In the event of a blowout, it can be hard to predict how a commercial truck or its driver will react. Often, blowouts will cause a truck to overturn or launch hazardous materials or heavy cargo onto the roadway and in the line of oncoming traffic. Sometimes, passenger vehicles are struck by the truck or cargo, or do not have sufficient time to react to the cargo that has been thrust in their path.
Other Causes of Tire Blowouts
Aside from the summer heat, there are a few other factors that are known to lead to tire blowouts. When any of these factors is in play during a hot summer day, the chances of a blowout increase exponentially.
Improper Maintenance. Trucking companies must regularly maintain their fleet, and ensure that their vehicles are safe to transport cargo. When commercial truck lines fail to adhere to safety standards, such as regularly replacing worn tires, blowouts can happen.
Improperly Inflated Tires. Trucking companies and drivers need to ensure that the tires on their vehicles are neither under- nor over- inflated. Overinflated tires can lead to blowouts because there is too much pressure on the rubber. Underinflated tires can also explode, because the warm summer air can cause the tire to expand and snap.
Road Hazards. Not all blowouts are preventable. Sometimes, other vehicles or road crews launch cargo into the path of trucks. When a truck drives over cargo or nails, the tire’s integrity can be compromised. Potholes and uneven pavement can also result in blowouts.
Overloading Trucks with Cargo. Trucks are meant to carry only a certain weight limit (Gross Vehicular Weight Rating). Trucking companies often try to stretch their profits by overloading vehicles with cargo, beyond what they can safely handle. This puts excessive pressure on tires, and can lead to blowouts.
Accumulated Damage. Tires do not usually blow out the moment they are damaged. However, driving around with too much or too little air pressure over time can wear down the rubber. Trucks must utilize a Tire Pressure Monitoring System to ensure that tires are properly inflated. When in doubt, have a professional check your tires for vulnerability.
Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Victims of Truck Tire Blowouts
If you have been injured as a result of a tire blowout, we can help you determine whether truck driver negligence or a manufacturing defect caused your injuries. The experienced Columbia truck accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. have a successful track record of representing truck accident victims. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 803-929-3600 or 800-531-9780 or contact us online.
Our offices are located throughout South Carolina, where we proudly serve injured accident victims in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, including those in the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.