Articles Posted in Accidents, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the instant case could not come at a more appropriate time. Recently, the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas judge held that a person who sent a text message can be liable for an ensuing accident if the sender had reason to believe that the recipient would read the text while driving.

There, defendant Garguilo apparently took a text from defendant Fend and, while distracted, hit a motorcycle ridden by plaintiff Daniel Gallatin, who was pinned under the vehicle, dragged 100 feet, and killed. In addition to suing Garguilo, the Estate sued the texter, averring that defendant Fend sent a text message to Gargiulo who he knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known, was operating a vehicle. The decision was the result of a motion from a preliminary objection, or demurrer, akin to a pre-answer motion to dismiss in New York.

The Court, in arriving at its decision, cited a 2013 case, Kubert v. Best, where the New Jersey Appellate Court held that under certain limited circumstances a texter can be held liable: “the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.” Also, the Pennsylvania Court interestingly cited Section 876 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which provides that a third party can be held liable if he or she encourages another in violating a duty. “In reflecting upon [both] Section 876 of the Restatement and Kubert,” the complaint withstood the legal hurdle.

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PrintThe National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) recently unveiled its 2016 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. This list, which details the most important safety issues to be addressed in 2016, focuses on 10 broad safety improvements that the NTSB has previously recommended, but which have not yet been implemented. One of the top items on the list is the fight to prevent fatigue-related truck accidents.

According to the NTSB, in a recent survey performed by AAA of highway vehicles, over 43% of participants reported falling asleep at the wheel or nodding off while driving at least once in their lifetime; and a 2010 AAA study estimated that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents is the result of drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) Administrator recently announced at the “Asleep at the Wheel” program in November that between 5,000 and 7,000 fatalities occur annually in the United States.

Among the recommendations issued by the NTSB to combat this problem, is equipping all interstate commercial vehicle carriers with electronic logging devices that collect data on driver hours of service in a valid, accurate, and secure manner to enable the carriers and their regulators to monitor and assess hours-of-service compliance. The NTSB also recommends that companies establish fatigue risk management programs which includes policies or practices to address scheduling, attendance, education, medical screening and treatment, personal responsibility during non-work periods, task/workload issues, rest environments, and commuting and/or napping. According to the NTSB’s press release on the topic, “[u]ltimately, fatigue-related accidents can be avoided with a combination of science-based regulations, comprehensive fatigue risk management programs, and individual responsibility.”

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Research published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals an increased risk of drowsy driving related motor vehicle crashes when operating a motor vehicle during the daytime following night shift work.

In the study, 16 night shift workers completed a pair of 2-hour driving sessions on a closed track. Prior to one session, participants slept approximately 7.6 hours the night before, with no shift work. Prior to the other session, participants were tested after working a night shift. Measures of drowsiness were collected, including brief micro-sleep episodes measured by an electroencephalogram, and partial eyelid closure with slow eye movements.

The results of each session were compared, resulting in the following findings:

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For many, the winter holiday season means family gatherings and a resultant increase in bus tickets, to get college students home. We here at Bottar Leone, PLLC wish everyone a happy holiday and take this opportunity to ask our readers to be careful when traveling to see loved ones this year.

Recently, a motor coach owned and operated by Abbott Trailways was involved in an accident in Richmond Virginia. The motor coach was chartered to take students at Virginia Tech and Radford University back to their campuses after the Thanksgiving weekend, when it overturned. Thirty-three passengers were injured – thirty-two of which were non-life threatening and one reported as “critical.” According to state police, speed was a factor in the bus overturning, and the driver was charged with reckless driving. He was subsequently suspended from his duties.

This news story illustrates how important bus safety is. If you or someone you know was injured in an accident on, or with a bus, you should contact the Firm. The aid of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable in receiving compensation for your injuries.

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Yesterday, two people were killed and one was critically injured after a FedEx delivery truck collided with a car around 4:30 p.m. in the town of Granby, New York. Granby is located in Oswego County, approximately 25 miles northwest of Syracuse.

Multiple news reports provide that the FedEx delivery truck was traveling east on State Route 3 between County Route 8 and Rathburn Road, when it crossed over into the westbound lane and collided with a 2013 Honda Civic. The force of the crash caused both vehicles to leave the roadway and come to rest partially submerged in a nearby pond.

Why the accident occurred is under investigation. “The cause for a motor vehicle accident can be complicated,” said Syracuse injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar. “To determine fault, we review all potential causes for a crash, including driver error, roadway defects and equipment malfunction or failure.”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, FedEx drivers were involved in 1170 crashes between September 30, 2012 and September 30, 2014. Thirty-one (31) of the crashes involved fatalities.
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According to a Syracuse.com article titled “Syracuse Jury Awards Injured Roofer $2 Million For Fall From Binghamton Dorm Project,” on October 26, 2012, a Syracuse jury deliberated for more than three hours before awarding David Stauber $2,007,658 for injuries he sustained in June of 2010. Mr. Stauber was represented by Syracuse construction accident lawyer Aaron Ryder, of Bottar Leone, PLLC.

In June of 2010, Mr. Stauber was employed by Apple Roofing. He was installing a roof at a Binghamton University dormitory project when, suddenly and without notice, the platform from which he was working collapsed and he fell approximately 60 feet to the ground. The central New York scaffolding accident caused a traumatic brain injury and other orthopedic injuries.

Before trial, the general contractor, LeChase Construction, conceded liability for the accident. During the week long damages trial, Ryder called a number of the plaintiff’s treating physicians who testified that he sustained a brain injury with sequela including post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a severe elbow injury. Representing LeChase, attorney Lisa Coppola from the 35 attorney law firm of Rupp Base Pfalzgraf Cunningham & Coppola, LLC, argued that Mr. Stauber sustained minor and temporary injuries as a result of the five story fall.

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Every parent’s worst nightmare occurred on February 16, 2012, in Burlington County, New Jersey, approximately two hours south of New York City.

According to NJ.com, at around 8:05 a.m. that morning, a school bus being operated by a new driver was struck by a Mack truck. Apparently, the bus had stopped for a stop sign and was inching out around an environmental sight-line obstruction to visualize oncoming traffic. Several kindergarten through 6th grade children were critically injured and one was killed. According to reports, the Mack truck that struck the bus was overloaded with asphalt at the time of the crash.

“Determining who is responsible for this accident will not be simple,” said Syracuse personal injury lawyer Michael Bottar, of Bottar Leone, PLLC. Unlike the routine fender-bender car accident, when a crash involves a school bus and a commercial vehicle, there are other factors at play, such as driver training, distractions, vehicle momentum and equipment maintenance. Additional variables include blind spots and difficulty seeing around an environmental obstacle such as a tree, bush, or hill. This is known as a sight-line obstruction. Sometimes an accident like this is are caused by a series of failures, such as inattentive drivers, over-weight vehicles, lack of appropriate safety equipment, and poor roadway maintenance. “I imagine the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate this matter,” Bottar added.

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According to Syracuse.com, on December 20, 2010, a stairway collapsed inside of a home located on Oswego Street in Syracuse, New York. Apparently, two people were walking down the staircase when it gave way. The individuals fell approximately ten feet and were injured.

At the present time, the cause of the stairway collapse is unknown. “We have investigated a number of stairway collapse cases,” said Syracuse accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, of Bottar Leone, PLLC, a New York personal injury law firm.

Staircases can fail for any number of reasons, including improper design, shoddy construction, and/or poor maintenance. “Generally, we send an expert to the scene of a stairway collapse shortly after the incident to preserve evidence and identify why the failure occurred,” Bottar added.

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According to Syracuse.com, the New York State Police have identified 53 year old Mattydale resident Todd S. Young as the man killed on Sunday while operating a Northern Lights tow truck on the New York State Thruway. Young was providing assistance to a disabled vehicle parked on the shoulder of eastbound traffic when an Estes Express big rig struck him near Manlius.

“We are currently representing nearly 40 individuals injured in a similar incident just down the New York State Thruway,” said Syracuse tractor trailer accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a New York personal injury attorney with Bottar Leone, PLLC. “While that case involves a Michigan tractor trailer driving into the rear of an Ontario-based tour bus, what happened on Sunday is equally tragic.”

When it comes to prosecuting a claim against a trailer driver and his or her employer, an experienced attorney is essential because there can be complex insurance coverage and liability issues. If you were involved in an accident with a tractor trailer and wish to speak with a Syracuse personal injury attorney that is actively pursuing tractor trailer negligence lawsuits, contact us at 800-336-5297 or by email at info@bottarleone.com.

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A Jamesville, New York biker was killed yesterday when a United States Post Office mail truck made a left hand turn in front of him. Forty-seven year old William J. Allen was traveling north on Apulia Road, at or about the intersection of West Shore Manor Road, when the mail truck turned into his path. According to Syracuse.com, a witness driving behind the mail truck said that there was sun glare which may have made it hard for the mail truck driver to see Allen.

“While this sounds like an ordinary motorcycle accident, it is not,” said Syracuse wrongful death lawyer Michael A. Bottar. Because the United States Postal Service owned the mail truck involved, there are special rules that apply to any legal proceedings that may arise out of this incident. Generally, under a doctrine called “sovereign immunity,” a private citizen was not allowed to “sue the King.” The doctrine was continued into modern times and prohibits private citizens from suing the government – unless the government authorizes the lawsuit. The details about whether a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the government is authorized can be found int the Federal Tort Claims Act.

In order to file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the injured and/or or the injured’s family must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency allegedly responsible for the negligence. The claim typically is reduced to a document called a Form 95. This is where may lawyers fall short. If a Form 95 is not filed, then the private citizen lacks standing to file a lawsuit against the government. Also, the window to file a Form 95 is only two years from when the claim accrues.

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