Welcome to the Blog of The Glassman Law Firm, P.C., St. Louis Personal Injury Attorneys

We blog about relevant issues in personal injury law, discuss the misconceptions surrounding personal injury law and some of the most popular cases in the news, inform on the legal and political landscape of tort reform and insurance company lobbying, and provide readers with helpful personal injury information and resources. Please visit www.glassmanlegal.com for more information.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Keep Your Family Safe And Buckle Up This Summer

After a six year decline, Missouri traffic fatalities are up 20%, this according to Missouri Highway Patrol. Statewide in 2011, there were 313 traffic fatalities. This year fatalities are up at 375. Of these crashes, two thirds of people were not wearing a seat belt.

Seat belts save lives. Seat belt use across the country is at 88% nationally, however there are still groups of people that are less likely to wear a seat belt. Teens, males in rural areas, commercial drivers, pick-up truck drivers, people driving at night and people who have been drinking all are less likely.

When preventing death and injury, wearing a seat belt is the singular most effective traffic safety device. From 2004-2008, seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives and reduced the risk of injuries in a crash by 50%.

There are safety belt laws in all states except for New Hampshire. In some states, like Missouri, adult seat belt laws only apply to front seat occupants. Police may stop a vehicle in 32 of our states solely for seat belt violations, in other states police must have another reason to stop a vehicle before giving a citation for failing to buckle up.

In 16 states, Missouri included, safety belt use can have implications in civil suits which is referred to as the “safety belt defense.” This defense can reduce damages collected by someone in a crash if the person was not wearing their safety belt at the time. By statute in Missouri, if the absence of a seat belt is found to have contributed to an injury, a victim's award may only be reduced by 1%.

All states have child restraint laws. These laws requires that children ride in approved devices until a certain age and weight, then use the vehicle’s own seat belt. A child 3 years and younger and/or 40 pounds or less must be in a child restraint. Children 4 to 7 years old who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and are 4’9” or shorter must be in either a booster seat or a child restraint. All children who are 8 to 16 years old, all children who are 4 years old and older who weigh 80 pounds or more, or are 4’9” and taller are permitted to use an adult safety belt.

There is no doubt that wearing a safety belt can save a life. When embarking on family road trips this summer make sure that your family is safe and that everyone is buckled up.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stay Safe Around Fireworks

With the fourth of July just around the corner, many families have already begun celebrating. It is important to be aware of the dangers of fireworks and how to safely use them, if you choose to.

The U.S. Product Safety Commission has released a report stating that in 2011 approximately 9,600 injuries and 4 deaths were attributed to firework use; that’s 1,000 more injuries than recorded in 2010. It is estimated that between the months of June and July, roughly 200 people will go to the emergency room for firework related injuries.

The remedy to avoiding any potential danger is simple, do not use fireworks at home. Leave the explosive displays to the professionals. This is the easiest and safest way for you and your family to enjoy the festivities. Pyrotechnicians stress that it’s too difficult for a non-professional to gauge the risk involved when lighting fireworks at home.

"While fireworks are exciting to see, they are potentially dangerous and when misused can lead to serious injuries, fires, burns and even death," said Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy L. Cole. "Misuse of fireworks is not only dangerous for the user, but also for the bystanders and surrounding structures. Even a sparkler—which is often thought of as safe for children—burns at a temperature that is hot enough to cause third degree burns.”

In addition to the potential bodily injuries, injury to property is also a factor, especially during periods of extended high temperatures and drought, as we are now experiencing. The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2008, 22,500 fires were a direct result of fireworks. That number included 1,400 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 20,600 various other fires. These fires have resulted in approximately $42 million in property damages.

It is legal to purchase fireworks from licensed seasonal retailers in Missouri from June 20th to July 10th. Look for a state permit displayed at the retail location. There are 1,199 seasonal retailers in Missouri.

If you choose to use consumer fireworks, use them safely. Here are some helpful safety tips:
  • Only purchase fireworks from a licensed retailer. Never purchase them illegally. 
  • Wear eye protection and ear plugs. 
  • Detonate only one firework at a time, after assuring that bystanders are a safe distance away. 
  • Do not ever try to re-light a “dud.” 
  • Wait at least 20 minutes and then douse with water to ensure it has been extinguished properly before throwing them away. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or a hose nearby when you are setting of fireworks in case of emergency. 
  • Children and fireworks do not mix! Do not permit unattended youngsters in the presence of unsupervised fireworks. 
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place and do not save them from season to season. 
Remember, the best and safest way to enjoy fireworks is to see a professional display at one of the local venues. Click on the link below for a listing. Have a safe and happy Independence Day from The Glassman Law Firm.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Malpractice Premiums Increase While Patient Safety Is On The Decline

In society, we tend to collectively attach ourselves to something that sounds right, rather than taking the time to carefully consider all of the facts. One such instance is in the case of medical malpractice. Ask anyone and they will tell you (based upon millions spent on ads run by insurance companies and the chambers of commerce), “Premiums are outrageous as a result of people suing the doctors and bilking the system.” Sounds true? Wrong.

Since 2003, payouts to patients nationally have steadily declined to the tune of 51%. Still however, people are calling for “more reform” when the current reform has worked... for doctors.

By placing a cap on how much compensation a patient can receive, state legislatures have created a disincentive for hospitals and doctors to practice safer medicine. Regardless of how negligent a medical provider is, by limiting damages recoverable by the victims of medical negligence, the medical profession essentially feels that, “No matter how negligent we are, we will only pay for a fraction of our error.” Consequently, medical error rates remain dangerously high.

"Mistakes are happening every day in every hospital in the country that we're just not catching," says Dr. Albert Wu, an internist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. More than 250,000 people every year die as a result of medical errors, and medical error injuries are in the millions. These combined numbers result in medical malpractice being “the third leading cause of death" in the country, according to Dr. Peter Pronovost, an anesthesiologist and critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

If we decided to adopt the same philosophy regarding auto insurance, we could rear-end a Rolls Royce and pay no more than if we hit a Dodge Neon. Unfortunately, that absurdity is commonplace in the medical field. They are saying the same thing, “Whether we give you a scar or we permanently disable you, even kill you or a loved one, we’re only offering a one-size fits-all package.”

Still think more reform is needed? The statistics show that while medical malpractice premiums in Missouri have increased from $108 million to $176 million over the past 20 years (an average of only 3.15% annually), the number of patient injury and death payouts have fallen dramatically from 16,000 to 8,450, a 47% reduction. From 1991-2011 the cost of annual claim payments, including legal defense fees, fell from $76 million to $61 million; 60% of claims paid were less than $250,000 and 80% were under $500,000. Yet premiums continue to rise as the insurance companies air misleading ads claiming that “excessive” jury awards compel them to raise prices.

Since 1991 the number of insurers selling malpractice insurance in Missouri has grown from 72 to 93, an increase that wouldn’t happen were the business of malpractice were unprofitable. This business is so profitable in fact, a new report reveals that the average profit margin for the top 10 medical malpractice insurers is twice as high as 50 of the most profitable Fortune 500 companies. A report done by the American Association for Justice found that by distorting profits and losses, insurers have created bogus malpractice insurance “emergencies” so that lawmakers would consider limiting the legal rights of injured patients.

The president of the American Association for Justice said, “While health care costs skyrocket, Congress should not give another handout to malpractice insurers that have average profits higher than 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Congress needs to focus on patient safety, not efforts that will pad the pockets of insurance companies at the expense of Americans’ legal rights.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fun At The Pool Starts With A Responsible Adult

As the weather gets warmer, families are able to spend more time outdoors doing activities they love such as barbecuing, playing sports or swimming. Spending time at the pool with your family can be a wonderful way to occupy your summer; however, taking your eyes off of your child for just a moment at the pool can be life changing. 
Each summer, too many children are victims of drownings or near drownings. Below are just a few steps every adult should exercise when watching children in, or around a pool. 
  • Assign an adult to supervise the children. Whether there is one or several adults in the immediate area, be sure that at least one knows they are keeping an eye on the kids. 
  • Remove the children from the pool area if you are taking a phone call or are going to be distracted, even for just a moment. 
  • Pool toys and floaties are not life jackets and should never be substituted for supervision by an adult. 
  • Be sure that your pool is fenced in and has a self latching gate. 
  • Do not over crowd your pool with toys that float on the surface, be sure that you can see any children in the pool clearly, without obstruction. 

Two summers ago, The Glassman Law Firm handled a case in which a nine year old girl had drowned at a pool party where she was celebrating the end of the school year. While there were plenty of adults around the pool area to watch the children, no one was specifically assigned to the task. Since the adults were so distracted by their own conversation, they failed to notice that the young girl had jumped off of the diving board-- and never resurfaced. Once it occurred to them that the girl was missing; they wasted valuable time searching for her in the home-- not realizing because of all of the pool toys and rafts floating on the surface, that the girl was lifeless at the bottom of the pool. This situation was completely avoidable. Regardless of the fact that The Glassman Law Firm was able to settle the case for the highest amount ever awarded for a child’s death in that county, the grief of a lifetime still haunts the surviving parents and siblings. 
In addition to these suggestions, make sure that there aren’t any objects your child could use to gain access to a neighbor’s pool. You could be the safest person in the world with the most secure, childproof swimming pool but a jungle gym or ladder too close to a fence could give a determined child an entry way into a neighbor’s yard. 
During the summer of 2010, a six and three year old accessed their neighbor’s pool and drowned, even with the neighbor’s pool fenced and gated. It is unknown how the children were able to access the pool, however, they were seen playing with a stepladder in their own backyard before the accident occurred. During the drowning, there were no adults home watching the children. 
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States. When a drowning is non fatal, the child can suffer from brain damage that may involve long term disabilities such as learning disabilities, memory problems, and permanent loss of basic functioning. Don’t let your child become another statistic this summer. Child drownings are preventable and it all starts with a responsible adult.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Third Week In May Is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Tips For Keeping Your Family Safe

The third week in May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dog may be man’s best friend but dog also accounts for $109 million being paid out on 3,800 bite claims last year by State Farm Insurance. It was estimated by the Insurance Information Institute that approximately $479 million was paid by all insurance companies in dog bite claims.

California, home to more dogs and people than any other state topped the list in 2011.

Research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that nationally, approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year and more than half of those are children. Of the 800,000 people that seek medical attention, only 50% actually require treatment. Each year, roughly 16 people die from dog bites.

Seniors represent the largest group at risk for dog bites after children ages 5 to 9 years old. Letter carriers come in third within that group.

In the United States, 5,600 U.S. Postal Service letter carriers were bitten by dogs each year for the last two years. In California, a letter carrier was attacked and died just four days later after suffering a stroke which was likely brought on by the dog bite trauma. Despite the substantial number of attacks on letter carriers, the Postal Service has elected to focus on preventing dog bites in children since they are 900 times more likely to be bitten than a letter carrier.

It is predicted by the ASPCA that half of all children in the U.S. will be bitten by a dog before the age of 12 and most of the bites will be from the family dog or a friends dog. The good news is that dog bites can be prevented. There are appropriate ways for a child, or anyone for that matter, to meet a dog and these tips may help prevent a future dog bite.
  • Avoid playing aggressive games with your own dog. 
  • Teach submissive behavior. Your dog should be trained from an early age to give up food or a toy without growling or biting. An example of submissive behavior is having your dog lie on his back and expose his stomach on command. If your dog knows that you’re in charge, you may be able to stop any unwanted or dangerous behavior. 
  • ALWAYS spay or neuter your dog, this reduces aggression. 
  • NEVER leave your dog alone with babies or small children. 
  • Teach your child that “stranger danger” is not limited to people but this also includes dogs that they do not know. 
  • Do not run or scream if a strange dog approaches you; stand still and stay calm. Running could escalate the dog’s aggression. If a child is knocked down, they should roll up into a ball and stay still. 
  • If a child sees a stray dog or any dog, exhibiting strange behavior, they should tell an adult immediately. 
  • Everyone should exercise the “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” rule when meeting a dog for the first time. Let the dog come to you, sniff you, and submit to being petted. 
  • Let a sleeping dog lie. This goes for any dog, even your own. 
Hopefully these tips will help you and your family stay safe and prevent any future dog bites.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Disclosure, Apology and Offer

A coalition of six healthcare organizations announced on Wednesday, the 18th of April, that the new “Disclosure, Apology and Offer” process will be piloted this year in seven various Massachusetts hospitals. This process requires disclosure to patients when a medical error is made and something goes wrong over the course of the patient's care. The error is then investigated, an apology is made, and financial compensation is offered in lieu of legal action.

“This idea that you have to wait for five years (for a suit) to play itself out in the legal system before you can get an explanation that you need to heal, I think it’s unacceptable,” says Dr. Ashley Yeats, chief medical officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton. “ It takes precious time away from patients, it takes time away from physicians, and it ultimately takes good people, I think, out of the health care system.”

While more transparency among health care providers is a good thing, it is cause for concern when the entire process can be controlled by the hospital itself. If it is decided that malpractice has occurred, the hospital then apologizes and makes an offer to the patient. In accepting that offer, the patient has just signed away all of his legal rights -- even if the patient requires future medical treatment that the settlement did not cover.

The hospitals say that patients will be “encouraged” to hire an attorney to evaluate whether an offer is fair, however counsel is not required. And since the overall goal of the program is to prevent any litigation, a representative from the hospital would most likely offer a settlement designed to minimize what a patient could likely recover if he was represented by an experienced malpractice lawyer. How could the average person decide if the offer is reasonable without the assistance of his own experienced counsel?

Suffolk University Law professor Gabriel H. Teninbaum reviewed apology programs across the country and writes this about the University of Michigan hospital system (UMHS) on which the Massachusetts apology program is based:

“Patients need an advocate because programs like UMHS have attorneys whose primary obligation is to protect the assets of their organization. Without legal advice of their own, patients who take part in apology programs must trust that risk managers would violate their obligation to their own employer (of keeping overall costs low), in order to give them an appropriate settlement. There is simply no evidence that this has, or will, occur and no program has released any data to that effect…

In other words, it has not been made public whether patients with valid claims for malpractice are giving up some compensation to which they are entitled in exchange for the warm discussions UMHS provides. If the small glimpse provided by [one anecdotal] case is a representative of what UMHS does, then the organization derives significant financial benefits by paying less money to patients injured by medical errors.”

If an “apology” is accepted by the patient, an apology protection provision would be included that would prevent a litigant from using the apology against a hospital or doctor, as proof of negligence, if a lawsuit were filed. This fact alone, calls into question both the sincerity of the apology and the true reason it was made. Was it to save the defendant money or merely an effort to persuade a grieving plaintiff from pursuing fair compensation in the legal system?

People should also be aware that this “apology” program may be no more than a subterfuge. Medicare now refuses payment of medical bills that were caused by medical negligence. If the hospital can “slip in” an apology before Medicare reveals its negligence, how many lawsuits will it avoid by giving the appearance of acting like a good citizen?

Bottom line: Representation by your own lawyer is the only way you can be assured of fair compensation. Hospitals and physicians do not give you something they could not already be liable to pay.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stay Safe While Sharing The Road With Large Trucks

March 20th kicks off the first day of spring this year. With spring comes blooming flowers and sunny days ahead. Spring also comes with unpredictable weather and slippery conditions on the road. Motorists need to be especially careful around big rigs and semi trucks on our nations highways and roads during this time of year due to these conditions.

Large trucks have the capacity to weigh up to 80,000 pounds depending on their cargo; comparatively, a car can weigh around one or two tons. Mix these vehicles together with icy, slippery conditions and a distracted driver and you have a recipe for disaster. In addition to the road conditions you can have violent thunderstorms, high winds, and in some parts of the country, giant dust storms called Haboobs that bring visibility to near zero.

To protect yourself and the occupants in your car, there are several steps you can exercise while sharing the road with a semi truck:

  • Stay out of the truck’s blind spots- Even though every truck is equipped with side mirrors, the driver still has blind spots. If you find yourself driving next to a large truck either pass the truck or fall behind it. While passing, try to stay to the trucks left side where their visibility is greater.
  • Never follow a large truck too closely- Keep roughly 20 car lengths in between the front of your vehicle and the back of the truck. A large truck’s stopping distance varies greatly depending on if their carrying cargo or not so it’s best to steer clear incase the truck driver underestimates their stopping distance.
  • Use extra caution when passing a truck- When you’re passing a truck, do not go back into your lane until you can see the trucks headlights in your rear view mirror. Leaving this distance is important because if you are in a collision with a truck, the smaller vehicle will be the one that takes the brunt of the damages.
  • Never allow a truck to follow your vehicle too closely- Again, the truck driver could underestimate their stopping distance so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Simply move your car into another lane if it’s possible. 

By exercising caution and being diligent of your surroundings, you could avoid a collision with one of these giants and keep enjoying the sight of nature blooming around you.

If you or a family member is unfortunate enough to be involved in a tragic accident with a semi-truck or rig of any kind, our knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations enables us to help injured victims and their families obtain substantial settlements from trucking companies each year. Call us for a free case evaluation whenever involved in this type of accident.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How Tort Reform Affects Your Medical Malpractice Case

Finding an attorney to represent you with your medical malpractice case can feel frustrating, and rightfully so. As a result of the recent tort reform, legislation has made it more difficult for an injured person to pursue a lawsuit since jury awards are now "capped" at a maximum of $350,000 for pain and suffering over the course of a lifetime.  This means that unless there are substantial damages for future medical care or lost income resulting from disability, that the damages that a court can award may not justify the tremendous expense of expert witness fees and extensive depositions that are necessary to prove the case.
The reason for the change is that legislators felt that surgeons, pharmacists, and doctors were too often subjected to frivolous lawsuits, and so they set in motion a tort reform that changed the way medical malpractice cases were dealt with. While the tort reform affected frivolous lawsuits, it also made it much more difficult for the victim to receive the compensation that they deserve. 
We cannot recommend that an injured client pursue a case where two-thirds or more of the recoverable damages may be consumed by the need for expensive expert witness fees, lengthy discovery, and attorney fees. This is the primary reason that the Missouri Superintendent of Insurance reported that following the tort reform legislation of 2005, the volume of newly filed medical malpractice cases dropped more than 50%. Many law firms that formerly specialized in defending malpractice cases have reduced their staff or gone out of business. Lest anyone think this was caused by lawyers filing frivolous suits, you should know that insurance companies continue to charge doctors high premiums for their malpractice coverage, despite the dramatic drop in claims. Until this becomes common public knowledge and consumer groups begin lobbying the Missouri Legislature to change the law, many injured patients will not receive any justice.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Glassmand Law Firm Welcomes Attorney Maria Sanchez!

The GlassmanLaw Firm warmly welcomes former Assistant US Attorney Maria C. Sanchez to our team as our newest associate. Born in Cuba, she immigrated to the United States with her family in the 1960’s. She received her BA from University of Missouri-St. Louis and her JD from University of Miami School of Law. 
Her full bio is on our website here: http://glassmanlegal.com/sanchez-maria.html
We are thrilled to have her as an addition to our team!

Stephen Glassman, St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney

Friday, March 2, 2012

Are Personal Injury Lawyers Better than Quick Insurance Settlements in Today’s Economy?

Question: I’ve been seriously injured in an accident. Should I take the quick cash settlement from the insurance company?

Answer: As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I have noticed a disturbing yet understandable trend. Many individuals who have been seriously hurt in an accident forgo hiring a personal injury lawyer and instead accept a quick cash settlement from the insurance company.  To answer this complicated question that many injured individuals are facing, we need to explore the current economic climate, and understand what happens when an insurance settlement is accepted.

If you have been in a serious accident such as a car accident, truck accident, or have sustained other serious personal injury caused by negligence of others, you will most likely find yourself working with an insurance company. Often they will offer you quick cash settlement. Many Americans have felt the pain of the recession and the current difficulties of living in an economy that just can’t seem to recover, so the temptation is to accept this quick and easy settlement. (Read this recent article on “theeconomiccollapseblog.com ” titled,  50 Economic Numbers from 2011 That Are Almost Too Crazy to Believe”  if you need statistical detail regarding the difficult economic conditions many Americans currently face.)

Given the statistics above, and adding ongoing medical bills and lost time from work to this economic pain, it is not surprising that families with significant injury claims accept the quick settlement. They forgo hiring a personal injury attorney, who may take a year or more to achieve full and fair compensation for them, in favor of quick cash, in order to move past the traumatic aspects of the accident and move on with their lives.
However, it is vital to bear in mind the insurance adjuster represents the insurance company, not the injured person. His job is to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible, before the injured person has an opportunity to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help him fully and fairly evaluate the injury, its effect on his life, and the full value of the case.

In these tough economic times, insurance companies typically offer less to needy injury victims than in prosperous economic times. They know that people who are facing more hardship may make more desperate decisions.  When dealing with an unsuspecting and unrepresented victim of a serious injury, an insurance adjuster has no obligation to disclose anything to the injured party concerning the long-term effects of the injury or the likely future care and costs of treatment.

Insurance adjusters who offer cash settlements will pay a significant amount less than the claim value, if that. To add to the pressure to settle, professional claim adjusters will often discourage an injury victim from seeking legal representation by informing him that he'll typically have to pay a lawyer 1/3 of his settlement, and asking, "Why give your money to a lawyer when we're willing to pay your claim now, without any legal fee being deducted?”  

This fraudulent approach implicitly assumes that an expert personal injury lawyer would not be able to achieve a higher settlement for the injury victim than he could obtain for himself by dealing directly with the adjuster, a fact disproven by every study conducted on the subject.  

So, in the short term, it is understandable why accepting the high-pressure insurance settlement seems like the “right” thing to do. But note this very important fact: once an insurance settlement is reached, your case is over. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

Here’s the rub: what if the short-term settlement is not enough in the long run? How could you know for sure that you and your family would have what you need? Recall that insurance adjusters will typically offer a quick settlement for a sum that, while perhaps sounds like a reasonable amount for the injury victim's current out-of-pocket expenses, may only represent 25-50% of the claim's true ultimate value. You do not want to be faced with unexpected financial surprises after you have already accepted the insurance money and your case is closed.

A qualified personal injury lawyer will determine the case’s true ultimate value by conducting a comprehensive analysis of how the injury has, and will in the future, affect the victim's life.  A fully investigated case will ensure proper compensation is reached.  Without ever investigating the long-term ramifications of injury, future treatment, recurrent and/or residual medical issues, risks, and costs, the victim of an injury is not only operating in the dark, but at a decided disadvantage when negotiating with claim representatives who are trained to know what the future is likely to hold for the injured person.  

Now that we have explored this question in depth, I hope all the facts point to the importance of finding and consulting with the most ethical and experienced injury lawyer before settling with the insurance company.  A personal injury lawyer can give those who have serious injuries the legal support they need to be fully compensated for their pain, suffering, disruption of life, both past and future costs of treatment and loss of income or livelihood.  In fact, our firm would not even accept an injury case unless we were certain that our representation would result in a higher net settlement (after fees), than the injury victim could achieve on his own.

I know how to fight the insurance companies. Beware the tempting quick cash settlement. Consult with a personal injury lawyer before you settle, and know your rights.
Please contact me with personal injury questions anytime. I am here to help you and your family through difficult times.
Take good care- Stephen Glassman, St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney.
Ask me any personal injury question on Twitter @GlassmanLegal and I will get back to you. Or “like” our Facebook page or Google Plus page for news and information.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Huge Trucking Accident Verdict Highlights Trucking Company Failures

We all know that people travel more over the holidays, many using our interstates to travel to see their family and loved ones. This holiday season, in addition to ensuring you drive safely, truck drivers and trucking companies need to do their part to ensure their drivers are well qualified and operating their tractor-trailers safely and within the law. All too often, this is tragically not the case.

As a Missouri trucking accident attorney, I was interested to learn about the trucking accident case described here:.

 A Missouri family was recently awarded a $7 million dollar verdict over a fatal tractor-trailer crash. This verdict was rendered against the trucking company for its driver’s negligent failure to drive in his lane, and the company’s failure to properly investigate and train its employee.  The article states that the tractor-trailer driver was “overtired, wasn't qualified, wasn't trained and had two previous license revocations that should've prevented him from getting the job.” The fatal truck crash occurred less than three weeks after the trucking company hired the driver. "[The trucking company] broke every rule in the book with respect to safety and safe driving," the article quotes.

Just what are these rules that the trucking company broke? At trial, a trucking industry expert testified to the multiple failures on the part of the trucking company that the accident exposed:
• The driver never should have been permitted to drive because he had received two license revocations for substance abuse, which disqualified him from driving a commercial vehicle.
• At the time of the crash, the driver lacked adequate knowledge and experience to drive a tractor trailer.
• The trucking company failed to have a training system in place to educate and train truck drivers who lacked experience before putting them on the road.
• The trucking company violated federal trucking regulation FMCSR § 395, by assigning the driver a trip that he could not complete within the maximum allowable hours of service.
• The driver was in violation of the maximum hours of service regulations at the time of the fatal crash.
• The driver falsified his log book to cover up his hours of service violation.
• The trucking company failed to monitor the driver and other truck drivers to ensure compliance with hours of service regulations.
• The driver violated a fundamental rule, FMCSR § 383.113, by permitting his trailer to cross the center line when negotiating a curve in the roadway, which caused the fatal collision.

This list points to inexcusable, systemic failures on the part of the trucking company that led to the fatal crash and justified the jury's outrage, as reflected by its verdict.

This case points to an important question: Just how often are trucking companies in violation of the law? On my trucking accident website I explain this in detail, “Missouri is a prime example of how these trucking companies recklessly disregard the law. In 2005, the Missouri Highway Patrol issued 4,183 tickets to truckers who violated the hours-of-service regulations or driver logbook regulations, and this number does not include the big-rig drivers who were simply let off with warnings instead of citations. Imagine: the Missouri Highway Patrol catches more than 11 semi drivers breaking the law every day!” This practice is damaging, dangerous, and potentially fatal.

It is clear that trucking companies must be held accountable for unsafe trucking practices such as failure to investigate driver’s background, failure to train drivers, and practices contributing to violations of the maximum hours of service regulation. For more information on Missouri trucking accidents, please visit my website: www.glassmanlegal.com.  The Glassman Law Firm is dedicated to assisting victims of trucking accidents and committed to making the trucking industry accept responsibility when they violate federal safety regulations.

Video Caption: The Glassman Law Firm investigates not only a truck driver's driving record, but his medical history, in order to assess his fitness to operate a 40 ton, 16-wheeler on the highways of our state.

Be safe and take good care. ~ Stephen Glassman, St. Louis trucking accident attorney

I am also on Twitter @GlassmanLegal. Follow me for timely news and information!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Transportation Rules Preventing Driver/Pilot Fatigue Don’t Go Far Enough

As discussed in an earlier blog post, driver fatigue plays a role in far too many truck and plane crashes and is one of the greatest threats to transportation safety. Every year both truck driver and pilot fatigue contribute to thousands of crashes and deaths in the trucking and aviation industries.
As I state on my website, despite federal “in service” regulations put in place to ensure drivers do not drive while sleep deprived,  “less principled companies do cut corners and ‘overlook’ the hours-of-service regulations that legally limit the number of hours that a trucker can drive per week. As a result, 40-ton commercial tractor-trailer rigs are being operated on our highways by sleep deprived drivers every day.”  The ramifications of this negligence are staggering: The Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 30% of the deaths and 70% of highway injuries are the result of negligently operated trucks by fatigued drivers.
Just as serious, but less reported in the media is pilot fatigue. However, pilot fatigue is now in the news. As you may have heard reported, in December 2011 the Federal Aviation Administration announced new rules to reduce potentially dangerous pilot fatigue .
An editorial recently published by USA today is highly critical of the new transportation rules for both trucking and aviation. The editorial claims that while the new rules are more realistic, they fall short of what is truly needed.
As a personal injury lawyer, I agree the new rules don’t go far enough to protect the drivers, pilots, passengers and bystanders that have been seriously injured by driver and pilot fatigue. It is important to keep pushing this issue until rules are in place that truly protect the roads and airspace, and ensure that companies follow the regulations.
Take care and be well ~ Stephen Glassman, St. Louis personal injury attorney.
Ask me any personal injury question on Twitter @GlassmanLegal and I will get back to you. Or “like” our Facebook page or Google Plus page for news and information.

Monday, January 2, 2012

MDOT launches Pedestrian Safety Campaign- 2011 Statistics Show Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Missouri

Photo credit anankkml
According to a recent article, pedestrian accidents are rising in Missouri, worrying officials. The article states, “After just nine months in 2011, the number of pedestrian traffic deaths is nearly equal to those experienced in 2010,” reports the Missouri Department of Transportation. “In fact, during the first quarter of 2011, 21 pedestrian deaths were recorded, compared to nine during the same period in 2010.”

As a St. Louis pedestrian accident attorney I find these statistics disturbing. Why is this happening? The experts don’t know, and it appears there are no patterns to point to the increase. “Slightly more pedestrians died last year on city streets (31) than on interstates or rural stretches of highway (28). And the 941 injuries in Missouri towns were more than triple those on the long-haul routes,” the article states. 

Motorists are required to do everything they can to avoid hitting pedestrians. That means slowing down or stopping as they approach crosswalks or intersections where pedestrians may be present. However, pedestrians have a responsibility to use good judgment and do their part to prevent an accident. "It's a two-way street," said Brent Hugh, Executive Director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. "Drivers need to watch and drive with care around pedestrians, and pedestrians need to look for cars. Even when the pedestrian has the right of way, that right won't stop an oncoming vehicle."

The article states a few tips on how to stay safe as a pedestrian, “When walking by a road, walk against the traffic; when crossing one, always be aware that your electronic devices may be making you vulnerable. Try to make eye contact with the drivers, but never assume you have been seen when you step out into traffic.” 

In fact, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) has launched a new pedestrian safety campaign on their website with the slogan “Be Safe, Be Seen, Arrive Alive.”

As a pedestrian accident attorney, if you have questions or concerns about a pedestrian accident or pedestrian injury, please reach out to me at www.glassmanlegal.com.

Be safe and take good care ~ Attorney Stephen Glassman, Glassman Legal

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