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photo-200x300This past November, a semi-truck driver caused a major collision in Norcross, Georgia. Failing to heed the clear warning at a railroad crossing that prohibited tractor-trailers from driving on the tracks, he made a dangerous attempt to cross and got stuck on the tracks. He and his passenger were pulled from the truck by local police officers just before an oncoming train struck the truck. The impact caused debris to be strewn across the area. Miraculously, no one was harmed or injured in this collision. A tragedy was prevented by the fast and effective work on the part of the local police. After the crash, Gwinnett County Fire came on scene to help with the clean-up. The contents of the truck belonged to customers of a moving company … which likely caused some additional issues for both the trucking company and the driver. This type of collision involving trains and trucks are dangerous not only to the truck driver and the train passengers and engineer, but to anyone in the vicinity. Other drivers, pedestrians and bystanders can be seriously injured due to these crashes.

In Los Angeles this past September about 20 people sustained injuries when a commuter train crashed into a tractor trailer that was stuck on the tracks. The truck driver was not injured as he attempted to get his truck off the tracks. Witnesses said the truck may have already been on the tracks when the railroad crossing warnings began to sound and the gates went down.

In December of last year, a slow-moving vintage Christmas train with St. Nick himself on board, which was carrying children stopped for a while when it hit a truck that was improperly crossing railroad tracks. St. Nick and his wife visited with the children, while they waited for authorities. The pickup truck driver admitted he had been on the phone when he hit the train. He apologized and thankfully he sustained only minor injuries and none of the children or other passengers were harmed. The local railroad representative called these types of accidents “common.” It is shocking to realize just how often these train and vehicle collisions occur.

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iStock_000001983354XSmall-300x199The final chapter has been written on the tragic accident we shared with readers previously that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and injured two others. Two years have passed since the truck crash that brought shock and sorrow to many across Georgia and the entire nation. The fatal truck crash occurred when a truck driver from Louisiana slammed into the students’ vehicle which had stopped in traffic due to a wholly unrelated accident. The truck’s destruction was so significant, it literally and violently compressed two vehicles in its path. The nursing students were returning to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro after their duties at a Savannah, Georgia hospital. Ironically, the student nurses were on their final rotation at the hospital.

On several posts in the past, we have discussed the fact that in trucking accidents, not only the driver, but the trucking company or companies and others can often be held liable when a tragedy like this occurs. Those entities in this case had settled with the families of the deceased victims. They also settled with another survivor. But the final victim sustained traumatic brain injuries and claimed that these injuries had continued to make her life difficult. Last week, a jury awarded her $15 million. Both the trucking company that owned the truck and its parent company were held to pay the survivor, now a nurse. In this case, the driver took a plea and was given a reduced sentence of five years in jail.  He pled guilty to all five first-degree vehicular homicide counts among other serious violations. It is reported that he apologized to the nursing student for the accident that injured her and killed five of her cohorts.  Continue reading →

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Tragic Fatal Injury After Pine Tree Falls

Winter is a time for beauty and caution. The ice, snow and rain that has fallen in different parts of Georgia, bring beautiful images and can be dangerous. Just this month, storms in metro-Atlanta led to the tragic death of a woman when a tree fell on her car. The incident involved a rotten pine tree that dropped onto her Honda Civic on a DeKalb County road. She passed away after she was removed from her vehicle by emergency teams. In another frightening local incident, a child escaped injury and was safely rescued after a tree fell on a home. In California, where the rain has been relentless in the drought-ridden state, a woman was walking with her husband on the golf course near her home, when a tree fell on her and killed her instantly.

Responsibility for Injury or Death from Falling Trees

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Accident Caused by Distracted Driver Using FaceTime

A lawsuit filed in California has put another twist on the national discussion on distracted driving. The question is, in part, is Apple responsible for death or injury to motorists because they offer technologies such as FaceTime that allow users to have face to face conversations on their phones? More specifically, should Apple be held responsible when they have the technology that would shut down this application when used by a driver, but failed to install it in their iPhone 6?

In the California lawsuit, a family claims that Apple’s FaceTime app caused their child’s death. The tragic loss of their child occurred in Texas, but Apple is headquartered in Santa Clara County, California where the suit was filed. In the crash, the family’s vehicle was stopped and was rear-ended by a distracted driver. The distracted driver was using the FaceTime app at the time of the collision. The vehicle was struck so intensely that the children in the back of the vehicle were severely injured. Their daughter lost her life from the injuries she sustained.

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iStock_000001221748XSmall-300x199Over the past decade, researchers have made a great deal of progress in learning about the long term effects of brain injuries. Concussions are among the most common brain injuries. It is now understood that when someone sustains even a few concussions over his or her lifetime, it can be more difficult for the brain to return to normal function. We have seen a lot of publicity regarding the dangers to professional football players, for example, who have sustained numerous concussions and the prolonged and often debilitating impact on their lives. We have seen school sports teams becoming more aware about protecting kids from getting back on the field after a head injury.

This past summer, USA Today reported on Virginia Tech’s research in identifying high-impact training drills that can cause injury to young football players. The research indicated that one particular drill called “King of the Circle” is most dangerous for kids. The drill studied about 35 kids between 9-11 years of age. It illustrated the concussion risks to kids in football practice and was published in The Journal of Neurosurgery.

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Earlier this year, we posted about many spontaneous hover board fires that were causing serious issues, including house fires, all due to lithium-ion batteries. These spontaneous fire events were occurring when the batteries would overheat, often when the hover board was not in use. Similarly, the Samsung Galaxy 7 phone is banned on all United States airlines due to the fact that they can spontaneously combust and cause property damage or injury. If you carry such a phone, you cannot go through security or fly with one of these and you will be asked to discard it.

Now Huffington Post reports that ubiquitous e-cigarette batteries are the focus of concern. About 100 Americans have been hurt by exploding e-cigarettes. The cause is the lithium batteries used in these products. Often the injuries have occurred when the e-cigarette is in the pocket of the user, its batteries overheat and then explode with no warning. An explosion through clothing can cause damaging and disfiguring burns and should be of concern to anyone using these vapor alternatives to smoking. All it takes is for the batteries to overheat is to come in contact with something metal or when one battery comes in contact with another battery. In many cases that have been caught on camera, the batteries begin to smoke and then can spewed sparks, after which there is an explosion. These explosions can hurt the user and bystanders.

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christmas-tree-inside-house_2432104The National Safety Council (NSC) has a mission — preventing fatal injuries at home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also has a mission — preventing injuries due to defective or dangerous consumer products. Each year, the NSC and the CPSC publish holiday safety tips to help Americans have a safe and healthy holiday season. Earlier this week we cautioned about toy safety and the recalled toys on the CPSC site. Additional safety reminders are always good to consider at this time of year. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of injuries each day during this time of year — doing simple things like decorating our homes. Here are five key areas to consider for safer holidays.

First, avoid fire by taking several important steps. Some traditions use lighted candles on trees. This is considered to be dangerous. The NSC discourages the use of lighted candles that are simply near trees. And never leave a candle unattended. The NSC also urge the use of a strong and stable water-holding stand to maintain moisture in the tree. When the boughs become dry, the electric lights on the tree can cause fire. Artificial trees are a great alternative, but choose one that is certified as fire resistant. The CPSC warns that electric lights on trees should be turned off when you leave your home or go to sleep. They also warn that lights can be an attractive risk to small children, so keep little ones out of the reach of the lights. Do not toss gift wrap or other refuse into a fireplace. You don’t know what you are actually burning when you do, so although tempting, it is not a safe practice.

Second, decorating can be dangerous if not done carefully. If you are putting up your own house lights, have more than one person there to spot you on a ladder. Make sure to use the proper ladder height carefully placed on level ground. If you are putting decorations up inside your home, do not stand on chairs or furniture. Make sure you either have both feet and one hand on the ladder OR both hands and one foot on the ladder. This will help with balance and keep your body more secure. There are many fatal accidents involving ladders every year in our country.

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pexels-photo-93009-300x200This is the time of year when children are excited and parents are overwhelmed. We take time to think about what to get for the little ones for the holidays. And as they are older, they might get what they told Santa they want. Sometimes parents have to just figure it all out somehow. No matter which holiday your family celebrates during this season, children’s gifts are likely to be a part of this wonderful time of year. Although we all try to consider the potential hazards in the toys we bring home for our kids or those given to them by friends or relatives, we might not know the particulars of every toy. That is when Boston’s World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) list becomes very helpful. Each year they inform the public of their view of the most dangerous toys out there. The list is published in several media outlets and can be viewed by clicking on the link above.

WATCH notes that there are many toys that are not on their list that could be hazardous to children at certain ages. They choose to publicize those toys that fail in their view to provide warnings, or adequate warnings, about potential dangers. The toys on the list include choking hazards, suffocation hazards and others.

Toy makers have said in response that toys sold in America are required to pass safety review. But we do know that although toys can seem safe, they can also be subject to recall. A current list of recalled toys can be found at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These toys should not be found on shelves at this point since they have been recalled. However, sometimes parents might inadvertently buy a toy at a garage sale or hand-me-down, that has been recalled and they don’t know it. Checking the CPSC site for your toys is a good safety measure. This past year, Toys ‘R’ Us recalled pacifier clips for a choking hazard, Dazzling Toys recalled a chicken toy that also presented a choking hazard. Alex Toys recalled an infant building play set for the same hazard. Auldey Toys recalled its Sky Rover toys due to fire hazard and Flying Tiger Copenhagen recalled wooden toys also due to choking hazards.

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iStock_000016429140XSmallThere are some tragedies that first responders say change them forever. We are certain that the bus crash that occurred recently in Chattanooga, Tennessee will be one of those. Six children perished when a school bus lost control and hit a tree. This past Thanksgiving weekend has been a time of shock, prayer and mourning for the families in Chattanooga. Elementary school children as young as kindergarten were on the bus. In the midst of the tragedy, the community immediately turned out to support the families of the children, donating blood and finding other ways to give to the bereaved families. The sadness continues as funerals take place for the young victims.

The driver has now been charged with vehicular homicide. The route he took the day of the tragedy has been determined not to be part of the official bus route. He had received his commercial license in April and was relatively new to driving a school bus. Records have been released that indicate that earlier this fall, several students complained about the driving and a parent did as well. The students said he tried to make them fall off their seats and swore at them. The driver also had complained in the past that students were not minding his instructions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been at the crash site since the day after it occurred and is investigating all aspects of this monumental tragedy. One part of that investigation concerns “human performance” and whether the driver’s second job was causing fatigue. Apparently, he was also working at an Amazon fulfillment center. Other investigative work includes analysis of the mechanical and interior of the bus. The NTSB will analyze whether use of seat belts and the use of seat belts with shoulder belts would have made a difference in saving lives and avoiding injuries in this tragedy. The use of both seat belts and shoulder belts saved lives in a school bus crash in Anaheim, California a few years ago. The NTSB is seeking information from witnesses and will be interviewing parents and others.

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Truck4As drivers, we know that sharing the road with large vehicles like trucks and tractor-trailers can be treacherous. These vehicles raise the risk of serious or fatal injury when they lose control on the road and / or collide with other vehicles. In 2014 for example, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Association (FMSCA) reported that there were over 400,000 trucking accidents causing about 82,000 injuries and over 3,000 deaths in America. These vehicles are also very different in the way they maneuver and operate. There are several examples of the types of dangers that other vehicles have traveling around these massive heavy vehicles. There are also things that drivers can and should do to manage their travel with trucks on the road. Here are several safety tips to help avoid truck crashes that have been noted by the FMCSA that regulates these vehicles.

First, remember that it takes much longer for trucks to stop. If they are traveling too closely to the vehicle in front of them, they can fail to stop or rear end that vehicle. Every day we see truck drivers barreling down the rear of the vehicle in front of them, that  vehicle could even be the one we are driving. It is a frightening experience to be sure. If you can do so safely, give trucks room and move over to the right.

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