18 Wheeler Plows Into Stopped Vehicles and Kills 5

18-wheeler-truckA horrible scene played out on I-30 early on the morning of Sunday, April 12, 2015, when an 18-wheeler smashed into an existing accident scene. The incident left five people dead and 12 others injured. Undoubtedly, the victims and their families will be searching for a truck accident attorney in Texas to help them receive compensation for the damages caused by the reckless trucker.

The whole tragic situation began when a single motorist veered into a concrete median barrier that divided the highway. After the original crash, numerous drivers drove past the crash scene without stopping to offer assistance. A few kind individuals did stop, however, to do what they could to help the motorist. This was the scene when the tractor-trailer plowed into the wreckage.

Most of the motorists who were killed in the second collision were outside their vehicles trying to render whatever assistance they could. A large fire erupted when the tractor-trailer hit the group. The fire quickly spread to the rest of the vehicles that were grouped around the accident.

One man and three women were pronounced dead at the scene, and another woman was taken by Careflight air ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital to have her burns treated. Three other injured motorists were transported to John Peter Smith Hospital, and three more victims were quickly taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital.

The names of four of the deceased have been released, including 18-year-old Clarissa Alexandra Banda-Castillo of San Antonio, Steve Franklin, 43-year-old Mary Hernandez of Fort Worth and 42-year-old Veronica “Roni” Gonzalez who is also from Fort Worth. Ely-Alba Gonzalez, the fiancé of Veronica Gonzalez, also received serious injuries and is recuperating at a local hospital. This sort of mayhem should not happen on our highways. Reckless, unsafe driving must be punished. Those who survived the horrific accident will be requiring the special services of a team of experienced Texas truck accident lawyers.

The truck that barreled into the group was delivering the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The truck driver reportedly sustained his own minor injuries and had to be hospitalized as well. However, the police have not released his name. Police are still investigating the cause of the pileup, but at this point, the truck driver has not been charged with a crime.

There is little doubt that sharing the road with 18-wheelers is a dangerous proposition. While tractor-trailers are important for delivering products and supplies all across the United States, they can cause havoc and are a serious threat to other drivers. When an 18-wheeler collides with one or more passenger vehicles, the results are always catastrophic. It only takes a small miscalculation or a brief moment of inattention on the truck driver’s part to cause death and grievous personal injury to the other motorists. All truck drivers know that they are behind the wheel of a potentially deadly machine, which is why they are held to a higher standard than the drivers of passenger vehicles.

It is hard to understand how an accident like this could have occurred. Truckers know that their vehicles take a long time to stop. They know that driving above the speed limit puts their lives and the lives of everybody else on the road at risk. A Dallas truck accident lawyer knows all about highway safety and the danger of 18 wheeler trucks . Truck drivers do not have the right to jeopardize the lives of other motorists just so they can get their load to its destination on time.

If you were involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries and any monetary damages you incurred. Do not be victimized twice. Seek appropriate representation from a qualified truck accident attorney immediately.

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Distracted Driving in Texas: A Man-Made Disaster

textingAny Houston auto accident lawyer will tell you that distracted driving has reached epidemic levels in the state of Texas. The number of traffic accidents in the state caused by distracted driving is high and getting higher. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2013, an astounding 94,943 accidents were attributed to drivers who were paying attention to their cell phones or some other distraction instead of the road. In 2014, that number was even higher: There were 100,825 such accidents, which resulted in over 3,200 serious injuries and 468 deaths.

Why are so many of us so reckless? People who would never think of getting behind the wheel while drunk think nothing of talking on the phone or texting while they drive. Perhaps it is overconfidence. If you are like most people, when you first started driving, it seemed extremely difficult. There were so many things to remember and so many factors to keep in mind. Over time, however, you got used to the activity, and it started to feel like it came naturally. One study by Allstate found that nearly two-thirds of Americans rate themselves as “excellent” or “very good” drivers. Perhaps we have gotten a little too comfortable with driving, and that leads us to think we can safely multi-task while we do it. Whatever causes that belief, it could not be more wrong.

Part of the problem is the failure of drivers to recognize how dangerous distracted driving is. There is also the issue of products that disingenuously imply they are safer than traditional cell phones, such as “hands-free” headsets, earpieces and speakerphones. Regardless of whether or not a driver is using his or her hands, such devices pose a serious risk when used on the road.

That is because the problem is not your hands being distracted but rather your brain. Scientific studies have revealed that when listening to or talking on the phone, activity in the part of your brain that detects moving objects decreases by as much as one-third. When you talk on the phone, your field of vision actually narrows, and you miss seeing up to 50 percent of what is going on around you. We normally do not even notice this decreased awareness, but it is plain to see how it can severely impair our ability to drive.

Despite the science showing how dangerous it is to drive while distracted, Texas remains one of the few states that has not outlawed texting while driving. Bills to ban it have been opposed on multiple grounds. Some have cited a concern for individual freedom while others declare that such laws are simply not enforceable. It should be noted, though, that many Texas cities, including several in the Houston area, have passed ordinances against it on their own. There are also some statewide limitations, such as a rule forbidding the use of handheld devices while driving in a school zone. As a result, it is hard to know what is and is not permitted in any given place. You should consider that another reason why it is best simply not to use your phone at all when you are driving.

Even if distracted driving is not against the law in an area, it can still cause a driver to be held legally responsible for an accident. A Houston car accident lawyer can help inform you of your rights if you have been in an accident as a result of someone’s distracted driving. Because the law is so complex, it takes a professional, such as a Houston truck accident attorney, to keep on top of the latest traffic rules.

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18 Wheeler Truck Tires Not Designed For Highway Speeds Over 75 mph

18-wheelers-150x132Recent news highlights something that 18 wheeler accident lawyers have known for a long time: higher speed limits for big rigs means more tire blowouts and more accidents. The reason for this comes from an unexpected location: where the rubber meets the road.

Truckers who drive at speeds above 75 mph may be violating the speed limit. Not the speed limit on the highway — the speed limit on their tires. According to an AP report, the higher speed limits on some US highways, including highways in the Houston area, may be unsafe for tractor-trailers with standard truck tires.

It may come as a surprise that tires have speed limits. They are actually called speed ratings, and have to do with how well a tire holds up under the stress of high-speed driving. A tire is not a load-bearing device. It is more of a container. The weight of the vehicle is actually carried by the air inside the tire.

If you watch a car’s tires on the road, you can see that the sidewall at the bottom tends to bulge outward. That is because the weight of vehicle pushes some of the air upward. As the wheel rotates, different parts of the tire are at the bottom, flexing under pressure, then smoothing out as the pressure is released.

All this flexing creates heat. Heat damages tires. This is why speed ratings matter. When a trucker drives too fast for the tire, the tire can fail.

Why Are Truck Speed Limits So Fast?

Most truck tires are rated for 75 mph. Since factors other than speed, such as road conditions, load weight and temperature, can also damage tires, that speed may still be too much for the tire to withstand. So, why do 14 states have speed limits of 75 mph or more?

Speed limits are usually based on how fast the majority of drivers think they should drive. If the speed limit is too low, drivers tend to ignore it. That makes a higher limit the safer choice in many cases. This is especially true in states like Texas, where people have to drive long distances.

In many cases, the state officials that set the speed limits were unaware of the technical limitations of tires used on 18-wheelers. Each state sets its own speed limits. Tire standards are created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Why Aren’t Truck Tires Built for Higher Speeds?

Since many trucking companies outfit their trucks with devices to limit driving speeds, there is little financial incentive for tire makers to build their products to a higher rating. They feel the market for fast truck tires is too small to cover the cost of changing the design.

Tire speed ratings apply to passenger vehicles, too. Car tires have the rating marked on the sidewalls. As an additional safety measure, tires for cars and light trucks must be able to run at 112 mph.

Who Is Responsible If a Tire Fails?

In Texas, truck drivers are required to know the limits of their rigs. Some drivers are aware of the fact that most truck tires are only rated for 75 mph, and in many cases, trucks have governors to limit their speed.

Where such devices are not used, the speed is left completely up to the driver. Unfortunately, some drivers base their decision on the speed limit, not the limitations of their rigs. They may even be unaware that speed ratings exist.

Houston 18 wheeler accidents often have tragic consequences. The highways trucks use are also used by thousands of passenger vehicles. The enormous size difference between a car and a tractor-trailer makes serious injury or death a common occurrence.

A tire failure often affects drivers beside or directly behind a truck. To protect yourself, avoid driving too close to an 18-wheeler on the highway. Be especially careful if the truck is traveling at speeds of 75 mph or higher. If you, or a loved one, is involved in a collision with a big rig, contact a truck accident attorney who understands how to best protect your rights.

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Deaths and Injuries at Gulf of Mexico Oil Platform

BP-Rig-ExplosionIt was early in the morning of Wednesday, April 1, 2015 on the Abkatun Permanente oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly, a fire broke out on the platform, which is situated in the Bay of Campeche and is owned by Pemex, Mexico’s state-run oil company. At the height of the conflagration, there were eight firefighting boats battling the flames. Authorities say that four people died, as many as 45 were injured in the blaze with 16 of those serious, and 302 Pemex employees were evacuated from the site. One of the people who died was reportedly a contractor with Cotemar, a Mexican oil services company. Sadly, accidents such as this one are all too common in the oil industry, which explains why many prudent workers keep the name of an offshore injury lawyer handy just in case such an incident should occur on their watch.

The Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields, where this pumping and dewatering platform is located, are relatively modest producers by world standards, making only 300,000 barrels per day in 2013. Compare that to Canterell, also in Mexico, which yields almost two million barrels of oil per day. However, the Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields were, at one time, much more prolific than they are now. During their heyday in the 1990s, they generated 700,000 barrels per day. Even though they have declined markedly over the past two decades, they continue to be a work environment which poses significant risk of injury or death to all the men and women who are employed there.

Wednesday morning’s fatal incident was not the first Pemex oil platform accident. In 1970, the Ixtoc 1 oil rig exploded, spewing 140 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It took Mexican and U.S. workers over nine months to clean up the disaster. Then, in 2007 at the Kerrick Kab 121 platform further up the coast, 21 Pemex workers were killed in a crude oil spill and natural gas leak. Six years later at the company’s Mexico City headquarters, 37 people lost their lives in an oil-related explosion.

Those who make their living on the oil rigs and platforms located offshore work in one of the world’s most dangerous sectors. In fact, someone working in the oil or gas industry is six times more likely to die while on the job than the average American employee. Furthermore, oil and gas jobs are rated consistently less safe than construction work, which many people erroneously believe to include the most dangerous tasks.

Fortunately, U.S. laws, most notably the Jones Act, have been put in place to protect employees from negligent oil companies and ship owners in the event that an accident or fire occurs. Because navigating the legal system can be a complicated and stressful process, an entire industry of Jones Act attorneys has come into being for the sole purpose of addressing these complex and special situations. An oil rig accident attorney can, for example, work with an injured employee to understand his or her rights under the law and to advocate on their behalf in obtaining financial compensation for the pain, suffering and medical expenses that occurred as a result of a fire, explosion or accident. For as long as oil rigs and platforms like Abkatun Permanente continue to pump and refine the oil we use every day, the dangers will continue and accidents both large and small will happen. Furthermore, until people no longer work at sea, there will be qualified, experienced Jones Act attorneys ready and waiting to advocate for justice after an accident occurs.

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Oil Trains Pose Serious Risks to Houston Residents

Train FireResidents of Houston may be at risk from the routine train traffic that passes through the city every day. Oil train accidents have caused significant property damage and loss of life in the U.S. and Canada over the past decade. Many train transport companies, however, continue to fail to institute the upgrades and safety measures recommended by federal agencies and experts in the field. Train accident attorneys across the country have represented clients in wrongful death and personal injury cases resulting from negligence on the part of rail transportation companies. Unfortunately, these efforts often come too late for the victims of these tragic accidents.

A Growing Problem

According to figures recently released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, as many as 200 trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation travel through Houston every week. This formation is primarily located in North Dakota in the U.S. and extends across the border into Canada. The Bakken is the source for much of the crude oil transported through Houston. Some research studies have found that oil extracted from the Bakken may be more volatile than oil produced in other areas. In many cases, however, train companies carrying this crude oil continue to use outdated oil cars and to resist the implementation of positive train control systems mandated in the U.S. by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Widespread Failure to Protect Public Safety

The Association of American Railroads was established to represent the interests of rail companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The organization has gone on record with a request for an extension to the December 2015 deadline for implementation of positive train control systems, citing technological barriers and limited financial resources available for these upgrades. In the meantime, train accidents continue to claim lives and create threats to public safety:

  • The 2013 Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster claimed the lives of 47 people and caused millions of dollars in property damage. The accident was caused when an oil train was left unattended and rolled downhill, derailing in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, and releasing burning crude oil directly into the downtown area of this small community. Positive train control systems could likely have prevented this tragedy.
  • On March 6, 2015, 21 of 105 oil train cars derailed in a rural area near Galena, Illinois. While no injuries were reported in this accident, five of these cars continued to burn for two days following the accident.

In many recent cases, significant loss of life and property destruction have been avoided only because the accidents took place in uninhabited or sparsely populated areas. Houston, by contrast, boasts over two million residents in fairly close quarters. An oil train accident in Houston could be devastating.

Making a Positive Change

Railroad employees who work on oil trains are at even higher risk than the general public. The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was established in 1908 to protect the legal rights of rail workers who are injured in the course of their duties. FELA railroad injury and accident lawyers provide representation for workers and their families in achieving fair compensation for their losses. This can provide direct financial incentives for railroads and oil companies to implement added safety measures and to change the way crude oil is transported across the U.S. and in the Houston area.

For families affected by these catastrophic train accidents, working with a qualified FELA claim lawyer can provide added peace of mind in pursuing a fair settlement for their injuries, damages and losses. By pursuing these cases aggressively, attorneys can ensure that railroad companies are held accountable for their failures to protect workers and members of the public against the horrifying consequences of oil train derailments, explosions and fires.

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