Distracted Driving Awareness Month is upon us

Distracted Driving Awareness Month began April 1. It is the National Safety Council’s way of trying to get drivers to pay more attention to what’s going on around them…

Distracted Driving Awareness Month began April 1. It is the National Safety Council’s way of trying to get drivers to pay more attention to what’s going on around them when operating their vehicles. The government reports that 431,000 people were injured in distracted driving traffic accidents last year and 3,170 people were killed. Another horrifying statistic is that 10 percent of drivers ages 15 to 19 years old were distracted at the time that they were involved in fatal car accidents.

Many drivers erroneously believe that using a hands-free mobile device is safe — 80 percent of drivers, in fact. However, there are over 30 research studies that have found that a driver’s brain is distracted even when he or she is using a hands-free device.

One part of the message that the NSC wants to get out to the public is that your vehicle’s infotainment systems are not safe to use while driving. Over 53 percent of drivers believe that these systems that are installed by the car manufacturer are safe to use. The technology in a vehicle, according to the NSC, “should prevent crashes, not increase their likelihood.” Those who do use these features or mobile devices don’t see as much as 50 percent of their surroundings.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you learn more about your legal options, which may include filing a lawsuit against the driver and other responsible parties.

Source: cars.com, “Your Attention, Please: April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” Matt Schmitz, April 14, 2016

Do you know how to drive on snow and ice?

During the winter months, you should realize that snow and ice can move into the area at any time. When this happens, if you are on the road, you…

During the winter months, you should realize that snow and ice can move into the area at any time. When this happens, if you are on the road, you need to change your driving habits. There are many tips you can follow to improve your chance of avoiding trouble in inclement weather.

First and foremost, make sure your car is ready for the snow. This could mean everything from buying new tires to properly inflating your tires.

Moving on, make sure you drive slow when snow and ice begin to accumulate on the road. This may not be something you want to do, especially if you are in a hurry, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Also, make sure other drivers can see you at all times. For example, don’t stay in a truck’s blind spot for too long. If you do this, you are increasing the chance of an accident.

Finally, don’t accelerate fast or brake hard on snowy or ice roads. Either one of these actions can result in lost traction, thus increasing the chance of causing an accident.

The only surefire way to avoid trouble in the snow or ice is to stay off the road. However, you know this is not always possible.

Even if you know what you are doing, this doesn’t mean that every other driver is taking the same level of caution. It is essential that you take all the right steps, while also watching what those around you are doing. This can help you avoid Pennsylvania drivers who are taking too many risks.

Source: Edmunds, “Tips for Safe Driving on Snow and Ice,” accessed Feb. 15, 2016

Driver charged in crash that killed Bloomfield woman

A Belleville woman has been charged in connection with a fatal motor vehicle accident that killed a 20-year-old Bloomfield woman. The woman was killed in a single vehicle accident…

A Belleville woman has been charged in connection with a fatal motor vehicle accident that killed a 20-year-old Bloomfield woman.

The woman was killed in a single vehicle accident on August 2, 2015.

According to reports, the driver, an 18-year-old woman, was driving a Jeep on interstate 95 when the accident occurred. The Bloomfield woman was a passenger in the vehicle, returning home from an audition for the “American Idol” television show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Chief of Homicide by Vehicle Division for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the driver, who is being tried as a juvenile, will be charged with homicide by vehicle as well as three counts of aggravated assault by vehicle. On top of this, he noted she has also been charged with seven misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

Pennsylvania State Police responded to the accident at 6:41 p.m. According to a state police new release, it was then that they found “six individuals lying in various locations outside of the vehicle with injuries varying from minor to one being unresponsive.”

Despite the charges, when the driver was reached by phone she said she was “not driving recklessly.”

Every time a vehicle takes to the roadway, regardless of the driver and location, there is as chance of an accident. In this case, a vehicle full of people was involved in an accident, leading to the death of an aspiring singer.

When this type of accident occurs, it is important for everybody involved to receive medical attention. After that, the victims and their family members can then learn more about what happened and explore their legal options.

Source: NorthJersey.com, “Belleville driver charged in crash that killed aspiring American Idol singer from Bloomfield,” Roman J. Uschak, Belleville Times, Dec. 30, 2015

Fatal crash won’t result in charges for business leader

It’s been a little over a year since a 53-year-old man was struck and killed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The family said the man used a cane to get around…

It’s been a little over a year since a 53-year-old man was struck and killed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The family said the man used a cane to get around and was likely headed to a nearby restaurant or convenience store the night he was killed.

The man was hit as he crossed West Union Boulevard where it intersects with Main Street. According to authorities, witnesses said the man slammed against a black BMW’s hood, fell to the ground and was run over before the car stopped. The victim was died at the accident scene.

The driver of the BMW is a well-known business owner in the area, also serving on several board of directors for several Lehigh Valley institutions. The Northhampton County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the driver even though there was evidence that he had been drinking.

According to police reports, the driver wasn’t speeding and the victim attempted to cross the road against a green light. The driver’s blood alcohol content registered at .072, which is just below the .08 limit for a charge for DUI in Pennsylvania. He also submitted to a blood test, which put his BAC at .06. The man had admitted to having a beer while he waiting to pick up a pizza.

The victim’s family has retained an attorney who said that a civil lawsuit will be filed this month against the driver. He believes that the case will be strong in civil court because there is a lower burden of proof required than for criminal charges. The victim’s family is upset that the driver of the BMW was not charged. The driver’s attorney said that the accident was just that — and accident.

The district attorney denied allegations by the attorney for the victim’s family that the driver was treated any differently than anyone else would have been.

When someone is killed by another person’s negligence, the family has a right to seek compensation. An attorney with experience in wrongful death cases can provide more information about how to proceed with such a case.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live, “No charges for business leader drinking before fatal crash, cops say,” Nick Falsone, Nov. 24, 2015

Event cancelled after student dies in car accident

Penn State University’s THON charitable campaign has been going strong for years. This time around, however, the organization has decided to suspend a canning weekend, during which students collect…

Penn State University’s THON charitable campaign has been going strong for years. This time around, however, the organization has decided to suspend a canning weekend, during which students collect donations, due to the death of a student in a car accident.

According to reports, a 19-year-old female student from Connecticut was killed in an accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. She was returning from a canning event in Philadelphia, along with other students, when the crash occurred.

The executive director noted that the group is suspending the upcoming event to take a closer look at the policies associated with its fundraising model. This includes those who would not have been required to travel in order to collect donations.

The executive director also added the following:

“This past week, we have received multiple emails and calls from community members concerned with volunteer safety.”

The suspension of the upcoming event will give the organization time to consider its policies, while also ensuring the safety of students.

The student was the second one in four years to die in a car accident during a donation weekend for THON. This also happened in 2011.

The THON charitable campaign has nothing but the best intentions. Unfortunately, it has led to a couple student deaths over the past four years.

Anybody who spends time driving on the highway, regardless of his or her destination, should realize the importance of remaining safe at all times. This includes watching what other drivers are doing. In the event of an accident, the authorities should be notified and medical help should be sought.

Source: The Morning Call, “Penn State’s THON cancels ‘canning’ weekend after volunteer’s death,” Associated Press, Oct. 06, 2015

Police not blaming alcohol for State College pedestrian death

One concern Brodheadsville parents have about their children, no matter how old kids are, is road safety. Parents start out by warning children about playing too close to a…

One concern Brodheadsville parents have about their children, no matter how old kids are, is road safety. Parents start out by warning children about playing too close to a road or crossing a street and later progress to advice about driving. Parents understand what young children and some adults don’t – terrible car accidents happen.

A Penn State University engineering student was killed recently while crossing a State College street. The 23-year-old Wexford native was the third person to die at the same intersection since last summer. The car accident victim was rushed to a local medical facility and flown to a Danville hospital, where he died.

Police investigators said the student was struck while crossing the street late at night. The 27-year-old driver, a State College resident, apparently slammed on his brakes at the moment of impact. There was no indication the driver or pedestrian was under the influence, although standard-procedure toxicology tests were performed. A fault determination will be made after the investigation is completed.

A jogger was the first of three victims fatally injured at the intersection since July 2014. An 18-year-old student, a Penn State freshman, was killed by a pickup truck. The female pedestrian had been crossing against a traffic signal in an area without a crosswalk.

The second death in June involved a victim on a scooter, a 39-year-old man hit by a left-turning car. Authorities faulted the scooter operator for failing to stop at a red signal. Police patrols were stepped up in the area a month after the second fatality, even as local officials and residents began debating how to make traffic safety improvements at the intersection.

Civil courts determine what parties are liable for accident-related personal injuries and deaths. A Pennsylvania plaintiff may receive compensation when blame is shared, as long as the defendant’s percentage of fault is greater than the victim’s.

Source: Centre Daily TImes, “Penn State student killed in North Atherton Street pedestrian crash,” Shawn Annarelli, Sep. 08, 2015

Parent of teen who caused fatal car crash sentenced

An unlicensed teen, vacationing in the Poconos last year, lost control of a Chevrolet Suburban and crashed. The Pennsylvania car accident claimed the lives of three 15-year-old boys from…

An unlicensed teen, vacationing in the Poconos last year, lost control of a Chevrolet Suburban and crashed. The Pennsylvania car accident claimed the lives of three 15-year-old boys from Bucks County and injured three other teens, including the 15-year-old driver. The owner of the vehicle, the driver’s father, told investigators his daughter did not have permission to take the vehicle.

Authorities later learned the father, now 54, lied to avoid responsibility for letting his daughter get behind the wheel. A judge recently held the father accountable for his actions by sentencing the defendant to a prison term of 6 ½ to 16 years. The man also must pay $73,000 in restitution for what a Wayne County judge said was the out-of-state defendant’s “irresponsible” and “selfish” behavior.

The defendant struck a deal with prosecutors, exchanging a guilty plea for reduced charges. The father was sentenced for three counts each of reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter.

The rollover crash occurred as the group of teens was returning from a Lake Wallenpaupack-area restaurant. The inexperienced driver lost control of the vehicle while speeding in a turn.

The daughter was charged with vehicular homicide in juvenile court. The teen, now 16, was ordered to pay restitution, perform 300 hours of community service and write an essay about the effects of the fatal crash. The girl also was placed on probation indefinitely.

The teen’s parents had been divorced since the girl was a toddler. Her father, known as “the fun parent,” made no effort to show up at his daughter’s court appearances. The girl has not communicated with her father since the accident.

Civil claims may be filed against parties responsible for a car accident victim’s injury or death. Defendants may include a driver, a vehicle owner and any other parties guilty of negligent or reckless behavior. Damage awards cover losses suffered by victims and surviving family members.

Source: The Morning Call, “NY man sentenced to jail for letting unlicensed teen daughter drive prior to fatal Poconos crash,” Jo Ciavaglia, Calkins Media, Aug. 20, 2015

Victim auditioned for ‘American Idol’ before fatal crash

A 20-year-old passenger was killed recently on a Pennsylvania highway when a teen driver lost control of a Jeep. The 17-year-old driver and four other occupants suffered injuries when…

A 20-year-old passenger was killed recently on a Pennsylvania highway when a teen driver lost control of a Jeep. The 17-year-old driver and four other occupants suffered injuries when the vehicle rolled over on Interstate 95. According to a crash assessment by state police investigators, speeding led to the fatal car accident.

The woman who died had been in Philadelphia earlier that day among people auditioning for the televised talent show “American Idol.” Four of the six people in the Jeep were teens; the oldest was 24. Authorities said several occupants weren’t wearing safety restraints – three car accident victims were ejected during the nighttime crash.

Investigators reported the teen driver sped along the right shoulder of the northbound interstate in Bucks County to pass another vehicle. The Jeep Liberty then cut across traffic at a high speed and flipped over multiple times after entering the grassy median.

The driver, a 16-year-old female and two male passengers, ages 18 and 24, were hospitalized with noncritical injuries. A 19-year-old woman suffered broken ribs and a head injury. The unidentified teen driver is a Belleville, Mifflin County, resident — the woman who died and the other passengers lived in several different cities in a neighboring state.

The investigation into the fatal single-vehicle accident is incomplete. State police have not decided whether the minor driver will face criminal charges.

Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits may be filed in Pennsylvania whether or not a driver is charged with a crime. Accident victims and surviving family members appeal to civil courts for compensation to cover losses like medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. Courts make judgments based upon whether negligent or reckless behavior caused serious or fatal injuries.

Accident attorneys help victims and families hold careless drivers accountable for their actions. Compensation from claims cannot undo harm caused by a crash. Damages reduce victims’ financial stress.

Source: The Morning Call, “Police release name of American Idol hopeful killed in I-95 crash,” Jo Ciavaglia, Calkins Media, Aug. 04, 2015

Risks for Lehigh Valley motorcycle riders

The freedom to ride enjoyed by Pennsylvania motorcyclists can come with a heavy price. Motorcyclists are well aware of the hazards of riding, but the dangers bear repeating for…

The freedom to ride enjoyed by Pennsylvania motorcyclists can come with a heavy price. Motorcyclists are well aware of the hazards of riding, but the dangers bear repeating for drivers who, all too often, fail to acknowledge riders’ rights. Driver right-of-way violations are responsible for 66 percent of accidents involving motorcycles and larger vehicles.

The risks of dying in an accident are approximately 26 times greater for motorcycle riders than people protected by the steel bodies of cars. Motorcyclists fare a little better when it comes to injuries. Riders are only five times more likely to be hurt in crashes than passenger car occupants.

Motorcyclists aren’t surrounded by air bags or restrained by seat belts. Many riders choose not to wear helmets. In Pennsylvania, bikers 21 and older with adequate riding experience are permitted to make that choice.

Bikes are smaller vehicles and, therefore, more difficult than other vehicles to see in traffic, but size does not diminish the rights for motorcycles and motorcyclists have to be on Pennsylvania roads. Many collisions occur because drivers don’t watch out for bikes and misjudge motorcycle speeds. These may be the reasons about 70 percent of all car accidents involving motorcycles occur at intersections.

When bike-car accidents take place, fault is a major factor in determining who pays for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. Pennsylvania uses a comparative fault theory to decide whether compensation for negligence is warranted. Accidents victims and wrongful death plaintiffs may be awarded damages as long as their percentage of fault does not exceed the defendant’s percentage.

In other words, a rider injured in a bike crash may be able to recover compensation, even if the biker was partially responsible for the accident. This is important information for motorcycle accident victims who hesitate to file claims due to partial fault. An MHK Attorney can review your case and make claim recommendations.

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