On August 4, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the withdrawal of their advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) which would have required railroads and trucking companies to test employees for obstructive sleep apnea. This is one of many withdrawals of proposed safety regulations by the Trump administration.

The ANPRM was jointly issued in March 2016 as the first step for the agencies to consider whether to propose requirements concerning obstructive sleep apnea for commercial vehicle drivers and rail workers in safety sensitive positions. Based on the potential severity of obstructive sleep apnea-related transportation incidents and crashes, the ANPRM sought information from interested parties regarding obstructive sleep apnea to better inform the agencies’ decision on whether to take regulatory action.

Continue Reading Sleep Apnea Rule for Truckers and Train Engineers Withdrawn

A recent study by a team of vehicle experts at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center found that pedestrian crash avoidance/mitigation (PCAM) systems can potentially reduce up to 5,000 vehicle-pedestrian crashes and 810 fatal vehicle-pedestrian crashes each year. Even if a crash is unavoidable, PCAM systems may reduce the resulting number of injured pedestrians by lowering the speed of the vehicle prior to impact.

It only takes a momentary distraction to cause a motor vehicle/pedestrian collision. That distraction may be on the part of the driver of the vehicle or the pedestrian, or a combination of the two. A driver may be distracted by children in the car or a ringing cell phone, or by changing the music that is playing. A pedestrian may be looking at his or her cell phone, talking to others, or even reading while walking. But whatever the cause or causes, the pedestrian is by far the most likely to be injured or killed as a result of the impact.

Continue Reading Do Pedestrian Detection Systems in Cars Save Lives?

For those unaware, government immunity is the doctrine that provides federal, state, and local governments with immunity against certain legal claims arising out of torts committed by a government employee, official, or agent. The doctrine comes from English law, which held that the crown could do no wrong. What this means today in Pennsylvania, in practical terms, is that in order to sue the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, your case must fall into one of several exceptions to government immunity.

One of the exceptions to government immunity is the motor vehicle exception, which seeks to hold the government responsible for motor vehicle accidents caused by government employees acting in the scope of their employment as a government employee. The motor vehicle exception to government immunity essentially waives immunity where the negligent act that caused the plaintiff’s injuries involves the movement and operation of the government owned or controlled vehicle or its parts.

Continue Reading The Motor Vehicle Exception to Government Immunity in Pennsylvania

According to a recent news release published by the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission, deer-vehicle collisions in Pennsylvania increase annually during the fall season due, in large part, to the fall breeding season. During the fall breeding season, deer tend to be moving around more than usual and they are not paying close attention to their surroundings as they may be preoccupied with finding a mate.

Here are some helpful tips for motorists to help avoid a dangerous collision with a deer:

  • Deer frequently travel in family groups, the crossing of a single deer does not mean that it is safe to proceed as other deer may be following closely behind;
  • The peak hours of deer activity are dawn and dusk, be sure to be extra alert during these times;
  • Slow down whenever you see hikers or hunters near a road as this may flush deer from forested areas;
  • Slow down whenever you are near farmers harvesting cornfields, many deer are flushed from fields as farm equipment approaches;
  • Keep your eyes peeled for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road;
  • Slow down where deer-crossing signs are posted, roads divide agricultural land from forestland and whenever you are in the vicinity of a forested area between dusk and dawn;
  • Assume nothing- deer tend to act in unpredictable ways. They have been known to stop in the middle of the road, cross quickly and then re-cross back from where they came, or move towards an approaching vehicle; and,
  • If you see a deer in the road, slow down and blow your horn. If the deer stays in the road just stop, do not try to drive around it.

If you have been injured in a crash with an animal and believe that your claim has been unfairly denied by your insurance company, please contact legal counsel immediately to discuss your incident.

I have previously written about the various exceptions to limited tort in Pennsylvania as contained in 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1705.  These exceptions allow drivers who have selected the limited tort option on their auto insurance policy to recover damages for pain and suffering as if they had elected the full tort option.  The most commonly applied exceptions are where the driver who caused the accident is convicted of DUI or operating a motor vehicle that is registered in another state.  In 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania effectively created an additional exception when it held that pedestrians injured by automobiles cannot be bound by the limited tort option.

In the case of L.S. v. Eschbach, 874 A.2d 1150, 1156-1157 (Pa. 2005), the Supreme Court considered whether an 11-year-old girl, hit by a car after exiting a school bus, was bound by her mother’s limited tort coverage. The Supreme Court determined that the girl, as an innocent pedestrian, was not bound by her mother’s limited tort election pursuant to § 1705. Id. at 1156. The Supreme Court noted that § 1705 is not written to apply to injured pedestrians, and a contrary result would do little to fulfill the legislature’s goal of promoting financial responsibility.  Id. at 1157.

If you or someone you know is injured in an automobile accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Stark & Stark for a free consultation.