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Corpus Christi Personal Injury Law Blog

Fatal trucking accidents are an unnecessary byproduct of economy

When a story about a tragedy makes national news, there may be a public outcry urging lawmakers or other leaders to put measures in place to prevent a reoccurrence. In Corpus Christi, there are deadly truck accidents that perhaps could be avoided if the right safety precautions had been taken. A recent news report demonstrates, however, that despite a surge in such incidents, there is yet to be much change in policy and practices.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that across the country, more than 100,000 people are injured and nearly 4,000 people lose their lives every year due to truck accidents. On average, a fatal accident occurs 11 times a day. The problem may persist in part because the nation’s economy relies on trucks to transport goods. American Trucking Associations estimates that tonnage will increase by 23.5 percent between 2013 and 2015, which will in turn put an increased demand on the number of drivers.

Ignition interlock devices save lives in Texas

Drunk driving is a real problem in Texas and across the country. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that there were more than 25,000 DWI accidents in the state in 2012, the year for which the most recent data is available. Even more frightening, nearly 1,300 people died as a result of an intoxicated driver, which accounts for 38 percent of all traffic deaths in Texas.

Depending on the severity of the situation as well as if the DUI is the driver’s first offense, there are a number of ways the Texas legal system will punish someone convicted of driving drunk. Typical consequences include fines, imprisonment, mandatory education programs and license suspension or revocation.

Oil-related workplace accident claims Texas man's life

There are a number of components that make the oil industry work. In addition to drilling and refining, there are many people in Corpus Christi and elsewhere who drive equipment across the country, unload it and use it. This leaves the door open to several risks, from oil refinery accidents to other work-related incidents. As several recent deaths illustrate, there are many factors at play that may pose a threat to industry workers.

Recently, there was a pipeline explosion at an oilfield services facility in New Mexico. The accident killed one worker and injured three others. Local law enforcement have launched an investigation into the accident to determine the cause of death. Medical officials report that the man may have died due to exposure to a gas that was released following the explosion.

Study: Hands-free devices still dangerous to drivers

Many people are already familiar with the dangers of texting while driving. In Corpus Christi and elsewhere, the behavior can cause death or serious injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that nine people are killed every day in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted behavior. Many states have passed laws banning texting while driving. While some industry leaders encourage drivers to use hands-free devices, a study suggests that those can also be problematic.

The American Automobile Association conducted a study that reviewed the effects of hands-free distracted driving behavior behind the wheel, such as using a voice-based phone system to email someone. The study revealed the following:

Cigarette maker on the hook for billions in product liability

Many people in Corpus Christi purchase products that have an inherent risk, whether it is food, toys or medicine. The manufacturers of those products are responsible for informing consumers about the items and any potential dangers. Giving buyers all the information can mitigate the risk of a product liability lawsuit. Withholding that information can be costly for both the consumer and the manufacturer, as a recent multibillion dollar lawsuit illustrates.

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Florida decided that people who smoke cigarettes or the survivors of deceased smokers can file a lawsuit without the responsibility to prove that manufacturers purposefully hid the hazards associated with using the product. Additionally, plaintiffs do not have to prove that the cigarette makers knew they were selling a dangerous product. The ruling came alongside the state’s highest court throwing out a $145 billion class action lawsuit.

Texas fixes glitch in work safety hotline

People who work in Texas, especially those who work in the oil industry, often face dangers every day. Fortunately, local, state, and federal regulations play a significant role in keeping these workers safe by enabling employees to report potentially unsafe working conditions. Such practices may ultimately prevent some workplace accidents.

For the last 20 years, workers in the state of Texas have been able to report possible work safety violations through a telephone hotline. Depending on the circumstances, the state may decide to follow up with the worker’s employer, and it is against the law for employers to retaliate against any employee who informed the government of a possible safety violation. It is unknown whether other states have similar hotlines for workers.

Texas is just one of five states without distracted driving ban

Personal freedom is a hot-button issue for many people who oppose having too much government regulation. There are some laws, however, that are put in place to help protect people from harm. Currently, Texas is just one of five states that has yet to pass a statewide law regarding distracted driving outside of school zones, though advocates hope to change that.

Gov. Rick Perry felt a 2011 bill imposed too much government involvement on Texans and vetoed the legislation that would have banned texting while behind the wheel. There are several cities that prohibit the behavior, which a spokesman for the state transportation department says causes 20 percent of all traffic accidents. The department has been campaigning to discourage people from using phones while driving, recently asking hundreds of Austin employers to prohibit workers from doing so while on the job.

Drug makers oppose FDA label change intended to protect consumers

Many products that consumers use come equipped with a warning label defining certain risks that may be inherent. People in Corpus Christi may see such labels on their medications, which is typically a Food and Drug Administration mandate that could offer protection against product liability. In a controversial move, the FDA is now potentially changing the way some drugs are labeled.

On an annual basis, Americans order 3.4 billion generic prescription drugs. That accounts for more than 80 percent of such medications in the country. Drug companies are opposing the new labeling method the FDA is pushing because they fear it could leave them exposed to increased litigation that could cost billions of dollars. Opponents say those costs will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher drug prices.

Lawmakers push for reform to prevent truck driver fatigue

Driver fatigue can be an issue for anyone who gets behind the wheel. Many people who live in Corpus Christi are familiar with how a lack of sleep can take a serious toll on their ability to navigate traffic and get to where they need to be safely. For those who drive for a living, such as truckers, delaying a trip to get more rest is not always possible. Fueled by stories of serious accidents, lawmakers are now reconsidering trucker schedules.

Fatal trucking accidents can happen anywhere as 18-wheelers barrel down roads across the country. One widow recalls an incident in which her trucker husband died when another driver fell asleep behind the wheel of his tractor-trailer and caused a head-on collision on a busy highway in South Carolina. In a more recent incident, comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo bus was involved in a fatal accident with a truck in New Jersey. The driver of the truck reportedly had been awake for 24 hours when he slammed into Morgan’s vehicle.

Oilfield accidents prompt OSHA to grow Texas operations

Ask anyone who has lost a loved one in an oilfield, and he or she will say that just one death is one too many. In Texas, workers die every year as a result of being employed in the industry. Oil refinery accidents, workplace explosions and other incidents can cause serious injury and death. There are certain measures that employers and employees can take to reduce their risk. The federal government is now stepping in as well.

According to a consultant with the University of Texas at Arlington, simply inspecting oil fields is an important part of keeping workers safe, even if officials do not find any violations. The consultant, who formerly worked for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, noted that inspections often create awareness, which can be a major deterrent for future workplace injuries.

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