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Alcohol and Truck Driving: A Deadly Combination

Drivers of smaller vehicles sharing roads with 18-wheelers would never think that the driver of the truck beside or in front of them is sleepy or alcohol-impaired, unless there are obvious signs that would show these. Hundreds of data, however, show that many truck drivers were indeed either falling asleep, asleep, alcohol-impaired prior to an accident. As a matter of fact, with regard to use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that it actually is the second major reason behind truck accidents.

Drivers operating a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) exceeding 33000 lb, like 18-wheelers, also called big-rigs or semi-trailers, observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, and pick-ups, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. This means that anyone who will be caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Big-rig drivers, however, have more to worry about than just having a 0.04% BAC level because those who will be found with a 0.02% BAC level can also be suspended from driving for about 24 hours, while those who will register a 0.08%, even when off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.

The need and desire to stay awake and alert in order to cover more road miles are what make drivers drink and continue to drive even while feeling the effects of alcohol. This is one of the saddest effects of getting paid by the mile (about .40 cents per mile). However, rather than making them awake and alert, alcohol will only make them sleepier and more impaired.

It is the duty and responsibility of drivers to always stay sober when operating their truck. Alcohol, though, will lessen their ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles they are driving, putting the lives of so many in danger because alcohol can result to:

  • Slowed and impaired motor control;
  • Inability to remain focused on the roadway;
  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Heightened risk of falling asleep; and,
  • Compromised judgment and decision making abilities

Any act in violation of the laws against drunk-driving can make truck drivers face serious criminal chargers, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for whatever injuries and damages their drunkenness might cause.

According to the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, despite everything they know about the inherent dangers of the vehicles they operate, the fact is that some truck drivers still choose to get behind the wheel while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As difficult as these decisions are to understand, the consequences of accidents caused by intoxicated truckers can leave victims and their families reeling. Victims, therefore, should be ready to take legal action against the trucker responsible for their accident.

Personal Injury: Defective Car Part

Saving lives by passing and enforcing laws which will reduce road accidents, and prevent injuries and/or untimely death is one of the very important tasks of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some of these laws are directed to designers and makers, mandating them to comply with federal standards on vehicle safety and excellence.

The NHTSA legally obliges car manufacturers to make sure that all vehicles leaving their manufacturing plant will never put lives at risk and that no unit is defectively designed or is equipped with a defective part. However, the contrary is what usually happens. In 2013, records from the NHTSA show that 22 million vehicles were recalled by more than 10 car manufacturers due either to defective design or parts, which included tires, brake parts, steering wheel, child seats, seat belt, wipers, and air bags that just deploy despite the vehicle not crashing. There was also a case wherein gas leaked from the engine, increasing the risk of fire.

The biggest recall in the car industry so far, though, is the defective airbag from Takata which, in November of 2014, it was revealed that Takata had produced millions of dangerously defective airbags. These airbags had a tendency to explode, releasing shrapnels as these exploded. In December of 2015, the NHTSA further discovered more problematic airbags in four other vehicle models, raising the count of affected vehicles to more than 30,000,000.

According to Wilson & McQueen, PLLC, though strict regulations are imposed by the NHTSA regarding testing of vehicle safety, such as timeliness of airbag activation and the effectiveness of seatbelt restraints, many vehicles still operate with some kind of flaw that will either cause an accident or prevent safety systems from functioning properly in the event of a collision. And the worst danger of a defective car part is the car owner’s or driver’s absence of knowledge about such defect.

With regard to Takata’s exploding airbags, lawsuits and mass torts continue to be filed against Takata, which is already facing up to $200 million in fines.

Drunk Driving: Its Effect to Injured Victims and the Guilty Driver

Alcohol makes people less sober, rendering them less able to immediately react to dangerous road situations which could harm them or someone else. Federal and state authorities have always pointed out the clear dangers associated with driving while intoxicated, even substantiating their declaration with statistical data. in 2012 for example, 10,322 individuals were killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) impaired driving claims at least 10,000 lives every year.

Impairment is the major reason why drunk driving is prohibited and considered a serious traffic violation. Being less sober, a person’s reflexes become slower. Besides this, impairment also affects a person’s judgment, perception, coordination, reaction time and general ability to focus on the road.

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is set at 0.08%. This means that anyone caught driving with this BAC level (or higher) can be charged with alcohol-impaired driving or DUI/DWI, driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated. Though set at 0.08%, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that even at 0.05%, a person’s coordination is already affected. Deciding to drive puts him or her at risk of accident.

People charged with drunk-driving suffer harsh punishments, which can include a large fine, imprisonment, mandatory attendance in a DUI school, suspension of driving privileges, and community service. Drunk-driving accidents that cause injury or death to someone else, or if a driver is found guilty of repeatedly violating the anti-drunk driving law, then he or she can face more severe punishments (in addition to the ones mentioned above), like having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in his or her vehicle and be required to carry an SR-22 filing. An SR-22 is the only way for a driver to have his or her driving privileges reinstated immediately. By filing one, however, this means additional fees and a higher car insurance policy for the next three yeas. With regard to finding the lowest SR-22 rate and the fastest SR-22 filing, independent car insurance companies, like Insure on the Spot, will be of great assistance.

Injuries sustained in a car accident, as mentioned in the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, can lead to troubling consequences for the victims and their families. Aside from the physical and emotional damages that accident victims may experience, the related financial impact is often significant, making it necessary for the victim to seek compensation for damages.

The Bard G2 IVC Filter and the Power Morcellator: Causes of Harm Instead of Remedy

Millions of people in the U.S. live with a medical device implanted in their bodies. Devices like surgical mesh, heart defibrillator or artificial joints. While one would naturally think that these devices have been tested for safety and effectiveness, such is rarely the case for manufacturers of high-risk devices and implants do nothing more than pay the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a user fee of about $4,000 and file some paperwork to be able to start selling their products. With no actual safety testing of the medical device, these often become the cause of harm than remedy to unsuspecting patients.

The Bard G2 IVC Filter is one example of a defective medical device. This cage-like wire device is implanted into a patient’s inferior vena cava, or the vein between the heart and lungs, for the purpose of catching blood clots before these enter the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism.

Created by C.R. Bard and approved by FDA in 2005, the G2 IVC Filter System was marketed as having increased migration resistance, improved centering and enhanced fracture resistance compared to the Bard Recovery IVC Filter system, which registered a high number of fractures and other problems and which it was meant to replace. Unfortunately, even the G2 IVC Filter was linked to a high rate of fractures and migrations that could cause life-threatening complications or severe internal injury in patients.

Despite awareness of the problems associated with their IVC filters, C.R. Bard allowed the Bard G2 filter to continue to be implanted into thousands of individuals – a clear show of the manufacturer’s desire for profits over consumer safety.

Another medical device, the safety and effectivity of which has been questioned, is the power morcellator, a surgical device used in laparoscopic surgeries, such as hysterectomy ( the surgical procedure that removes the uterus) and myomectomy, or the removal of uterine fibroids, more commonly known as myoma.

The use of a morcellator during laparoscopic surgeries was discovered to cause the spreading of the cancerous tissue, uterine sarcoma. The risk this device put women’s lives in made the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issue a safety alert on April 17, 2014, to discourage the further use of morcellators in laparoscopic surgeries. Many law firms, such as that of Williams Kherkher, encourages women who have received a power morcellator treatment to find out if they have been affected with the cancerous effects of the device and, if so, to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for the compensation they may be legally entitled to receive.

Likewise, the Bard G2 IVC Filter lawsuit attorneys of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® say that patients who have experienced complications after being implanted with the Bard G2 IVC filter may be entitled to receive injury settlements from the manufacturer of the defective device.

Read that Charlie wants to thank the Charleston personal injury lawyers of the Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group.