Do drivers convicted of DUIs have to use Ignition Interlock?

The ignition interlock system was designed to check a person’s breath for alcohol before allowing a motor vehicle to start. Every time he or she wants to use the…

The ignition interlock system was designed to check a person’s breath for alcohol before allowing a motor vehicle to start. Every time he or she wants to use the car—regardless of the time of day—the person has to blow into the device. Only when he or she is cleared will the vehicle start.

So, do you have to use this system if you get a DUI in Pennsylvania? As you’ll see, the answer can be both yes and no, depending on the circumstances.

If you have just been given your first DUI, you are most likely not going to be ordered to use the ignition interlock device. It is not mandatory at that time.

If you have been given a second DUI, though, you qualify as a repeat offender and you do have to use the device. Your suspension has to be served first, as you are not allowed to drive at all without a license. After the suspension ends, you then have to have the device on your car for the next year.

This is also true if you get any subsequent DUI charges. This applies for charges starting on the first of October in 2003, when the new law went into effect.

For most recent DUI offenses—those after 6/30/2007—it is worth noting that a second DUI only counts as a repeat offense if you’ve had another one within the last 10 years. After that, you can get another DUI and it will not make the ignition interlock mandatory.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, “IgnItIon Interlock “The Law” Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed July 31, 2015

Without independent agreement, injured worker wins workers’ comp

A recent story out of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, shows employers and employees the importance of signing contracts in a timely manner. Reportedly, an independent subcontractor hired as a painter for…

A recent story out of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, shows employers and employees the importance of signing contracts in a timely manner. Reportedly, an independent subcontractor hired as a painter for Lee’s Metal Roof Coatings & Painting in 2011 is entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries received in a fall.

The worker was injured on May 6, 2011, when he fell from a roof, striking his head and injuring his right knee and left ankle. The accident reportedly occurred several days after the contracting company hired the worker. In October of the same year, the injured party filed a workers’ compensation claim despite that he was allegedly hired as an independent contractor.

The owner of the company claimed that no employment relationship existed between the two parties when the incident occurred as an independent agreement was never signed. However, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania disagreed, ruling in the injured party’s favor. The story indicates that the injured party “might have” signed the agreement after his release from the hospital, but the court says it does not matter. Since the contract was not signed prior to the accident, it places the injured worker in the realm of employee rather than independent contractor.

In order to receive workers’ comp benefits, an injured worker must show that he or she was an employee, that the injury occurred during work and that it resulted in a loss of earning potential. It seems the injured party in this case did exactly that and will receive benefits for his injuries.

This story reveals the importance of exploring all of the options when injured during the course of employment. When it seems as if you have no chance of winning your right to workers’ compensation, discussing the matter with an experienced attorney might make all the difference.

Source: Business Insurance, “Timing is everything: Before signing contract, worker was employee,” Stephanie Goldberg, July 22, 2015

Passenger van dangers and legal remedies

Passenger vans can be an affordable and suitable alternative to buses for Lehigh Valley schools, clubs and other organizations. These vehicles aren’t the same as vans sold to large…

Passenger vans can be an affordable and suitable alternative to buses for Lehigh Valley schools, clubs and other organizations. These vehicles aren’t the same as vans sold to large families. Interstate drivers paid for operating commercial vans, with a nine-passenger to 15-passenger capacity, are subject to rules set down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants the public to understand risks associated with these vehicles to prevent van accidents. The government studied fatal 15-passenger van crashes over a 12-year period. Researchers learned about 60 percent of 1,111 fatalities between 1990 and 2002 were the result of single-vehicle collisions — over 80 percent of deaths in these accidents were due to rollovers.

Perhaps even more disturbing was the finding that over three-fourths of van occupants who died were improperly restrained or weren’t wearing safety belts. Restrained occupants in 15-passengers vans are three times less likely than unrestrained occupants to be ejected from a vehicle during an accident.

Speed and passenger loading can increase or decrease the chances of a rollover. Fifteen-passenger vans at half capacity are more than twice as likely to roll over as vans at full capacity or less than half capacity. Vans traveling at under 50 miles per hour were five times less like to roll over than faster passenger vans.

NHTSA officials caution passenger vehicle owners and operators to check tire size, pressure and wear before any trip. Mechanical repairs and replacements should follow manufacturer recommendations. Avoid overloading, which can destabilize a vehicle, and make sure all passengers are securely restrained.

People who ride in passenger vans may assume the good reputation of an organization is enough to guarantee safety on a trip. Victims of commercial vehicle accidents and their families have the right to file civil claims against vehicle owners, operators or other third parties whose negligence cause serious injuries or deaths.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Consumer Advisory: NHTSA Offers Tips for Safe Travel in 15-Passenger Vans,” accessed July 23, 2015

Tips for protecting your eyes at work

The eyes might be the windows to the world, but they are also necessary when working in most any type of construction and similar work. Protecting one’s eyes should…

The eyes might be the windows to the world, but they are also necessary when working in most any type of construction and similar work. Protecting one’s eyes should be of utmost importance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 2,000 U.S. workers suffer an eye injury while working each day. Approximately one-third of these injured workers require care at an emergency room and over 100 will miss a day of work of more. Most of these injuries are caused by an abrasion of the eye caused by substances like wood chips, metal shavings, cement chips and dust. Some of the injuries result in permanent loss of sight because of the penetration of the eyeball. Blunt force trauma can also cause broken eye sockets or damage to the eyeball.

Infectious diseases can also be transmitted through exposure in the eye. The mucus membranes of the eye can allow the transmission of such disease through splashes of blood or other means. Chemical burns to the eyes can easily occur from splashes of cleaning products or industrial chemicals. Welders and those around them can suffer thermal burns to the eyes.

In order to avoid such injuries to the eyes, employers should ensure employees are equipped with the proper eye protection. Such personal protective eyewear includes:

— Goggles

— Safety glasses

— Face shields

— Full face respirators

This protection must fit the employee or be adjustable to a correct fit. It should allow an employee to have sufficient peripheral vision and be comfortable.

If your eyes are injured while you are working, you should be covered by workers’ compensation. If your claim for medical expenses and/or wage loss is denied, an attorney can help you appeal such a decision.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Eye Safety,” accessed July 17, 2015

Does workers’ compensation cover injuries to federal employees?

Like employees for private organizations, those who hold federal government positions are at risk for workplace injuries. However, the way these employees receive benefits or compensation for such injuries…

Like employees for private organizations, those who hold federal government positions are at risk for workplace injuries. However, the way these employees receive benefits or compensation for such injuries is much different. Where private company employees turn to workers’ compensation for recovery, federal employees must rely on the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation.

The DFEC provides many benefits to injured federal employees including monetary compensation for lost wages, payment of medical expenses and disbursing death benefits to survivors. However, the program also provides valuable assistance with returning to work as quickly as possible. Here is a breakdown of some of the work return assistance an injured federal employee might expect:

A registered nurse can work with employees suffering long-term recovery to ensure the worker is receiving the proper care. The nurse also helps the federal employees recover enough to return to work.

Injured federal workers can gain referrals to medical specialists in order to acquire additional medical opinions, when necessary.

Injured workers can also be referred to vocational rehabilitation services if their injuries prevent them from returning to their previous job categories.

A major focus of DFEC services is speed and timeliness. The division stresses that employees suffering from workplace injuries will receive a prompt ruling on their compensation claims.

Despite the good work of the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation, some injured federal workers may need additional assistance to become whole once more. In these situations, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against third parties that either caused or contributed to the workplace injury. An attorney can provide more information on such lawsuits.

Source: United States Department of Labor, “Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC),” accessed July 14, 2015

What are Pennsylvania’s car seat safety rules?

Protecting children from harm is a top priority for Monroe County parents. Parental vigilance includes safeguarding children from dangers like car accidents caused by negligent drivers. About 7,000 children…

Protecting children from harm is a top priority for Monroe County parents. Parental vigilance includes safeguarding children from dangers like car accidents caused by negligent drivers.

About 7,000 children below the age of 5 are involved in motor vehicle accidents statewide every year. More children in the U.S. are hurt and killed in traffic crashes than for any other reason. Pennsylvania’s Child Passenger Protection Act provides guidelines for child safety restraints.

Pennsylvania parents must secure children under age 4 using a federally-approved rear-facing child safety seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends using this seat for babies at least through the first year of life and for children weighing less than 20 pounds – the American Academy of Pediatrics sets the standard at 35 pounds. When possible, keep a toddler in a rear-facing seat as long as the child’s height and weight fall below the car seat manufacturer’s limits.

Forward-facing car seats may be used for young children older than 1. The NHTSA suggests using forward-facing car seats for children up to age 7 or as long as height and weight requirements are maintained.

Pennsylvania law requires children, at least age 4 but under age 8, to be restrained in booster seats. Federal officials recommend using this restraint for children up to age 12, when possible. Seat belt use is permitted statewide for children 8 and older.

Car seats can be purchased that convert from one safety stage to the next. Parents are expected to install and secure car seats, according to manufacturer’s directions using the proper belts, anchors, straps, tethers and harnesses. Drivers can be fined for violating Pennsylvania car seat rules, but other consequences are much more severe.

No parent wants a child to suffer needlessly. Civil claims may be filed against negligent motorists who cause child injuries or deaths. An attorney can help with a claim assessment.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Car Seat by Child’s Age and Size,” accessed July 09, 2015

Construction worker killed by tractor-trailer on I-95

Construction zones present many dangers to the people working in them. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2010, there were 576 fatalities because of work zone crashes. That…

Construction zones present many dangers to the people working in them. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2010, there were 576 fatalities because of work zone crashes. That amounts to one fatality every 15 hours.

On June 25, at about 1:30 a.m., a 62-year-old construction worker was killed on I-95 near Beltzville, Maryland. According to a captain with the Maryland State Police, a tractor-trailer crashed into the work zone site after it didn’t “follow a bend in the road.” The contractors that were working had all the right safety equipment where it was supposed to be.

After crashing into the work site, the semi-truck continued on and struck an attenuator truck. It had a flashing arrow on and the lights were on. The attenuator truck then crashed into another vehicle, which was also struck by the semi-truck. The semi then hit the construction worker, killing him.

The driver of the semi-truck was injured and was transported to Prince George’s County Hospital. The State Police captain said that the injuries suffered by the driver were not considered life-threatening.

The driver’s logs are being reviewed by investigators to determine where the driver was coming from, if he had been following the regulations regarding hours and more.

If you are injured because of a truck driver’s negligence, you have recourse available. You can sue the driver for your expenses, losses and damages. In addition, workers’ compensation should pay for your medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation and more. An attorney experienced in workers’ compensation and personal injury can be very helpful during this difficult time.

Source: wtop.com, “I-95 reopens after fatal Md. crash,” June 25, 2015