Penn DOT and Governor give safety tips for driving in winter weather

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Governor Tom Wolf give safety tips for driving in the winter.

  • Carry a cellphone and a winter emergency travel kit.
  • Listen to weather and travel advisories, if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Slow down and increase following distance between you and other cars.
  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).
  • Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.
  • Avoid abrupt stops and starts.
  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as needed.
  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • If you do become stranded, it’s better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.
  • Do not drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt.
  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice.”
  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning.
  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.
  • Turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.
  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. If snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.
  • Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes.

 

Being prepared is the best thing to do in order to successfully navigate winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that both you and your vehicle are ready for ice and snow.

Click here to view a winter service guide that can help you stay safe during the winter weather.

Resources: http://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-1/Pages/details.aspx?newsid=126

This article was last updated on January 19, 2017.

Consumer Product Safety Commission hopes to be tougher on violators

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for protecting children and consumers against unreasonable risks associated with thousands of consumer products.

For all products regulated by the CPSC, a Letter of Advice (LOA) is issued when there has been a violation of a mandatory standard. This letter advises the company of such a violation and any corrective action that can be taken such as to correct future production, stop the sale of a product, and recall the product. Click here to view lists of importers and manufacturers who have been issued a LOA beginning in the Fiscal Year of 2013.

Under 15 U.S. Code § 2068 – it is unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale, manufacture for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the U.S any consumer product, or other product or substance that is regulated under this chapter or any other Act enforced by the commission, that is not in appliance with applicable consumer product safety rules under the chapter, or any similar rule, regulation, standard or ban under any other act enforced by the commission.

Any person who knowingly violates provisions of the U.S Code mentioned above shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation. In determining the amount of a penalty violators of Section 2068 have to pay, the Commission shall consider the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation. This includes the nature of the product defect, the severity of the risk of injury, the occurrence or absence of injury, the number of defective products distributed, the appropriateness of such penalty in relation to the size of the business of the person charged, including how to mitigate undue adverse economic impacts on small businesses, and other factors as appropriate.

The term “knowingly” means:

  1. Having actual knowledge that you may be violating this mandatory standard.
  2. Having reasonable knowledge deemed to be possessed by a reasonable person.

Over the years the CPSC has increased staffing and funding with hopes to get tougher on violators who may face civil and criminal penalties. There is a ban on reselling recalled products, enhanced whistleblower protections, safety certifications, and product tracking labels. Being tougher on violators strengthens the CPSC’s ability to protect American Consumers from things that may harm them.

Now more than ever it is important for companies and producers to review their products safety policies and procedures to determine if they comply with all applicable product safety rules and regulations.

Personal Injury Attorney in Pennsylvania

Contact the attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices if you have been injured or harmed due to a product not being safe. Your first consultation is free so call (610) 719-3190 today so that attorneys can start investigating the details of your particular case.

This article was last updated on January 18, 2017. 

Pennsylvania’s ‘Ride on Red’ Law Takes Effect

Act 101, more commonly known as Pennsylvania’s co-called “Ride on Red” law, went into effect on September 18. The law allows motorists in all types of vehicles to proceed through red lights if traffic-control signals are out of operation or are not functioning properly.

The legislation was sponsored by Representative Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County, who sought to change the law after being approached by motorcycle organizations that wanted solutions to situations in which bikes failed to trigger traffic lights to change, according to The Patriot-News. While the bill was originally designed specifically for motorcycles, it was ultimately expanded to apply to all vehicles.

“This law does not give drivers a free pass, but ensures a safe and legal option to avoid the danger and inconvenience of being trapped in perpetuity at a locked red light,” Bloom said, according to The Patriot-News. “This issue is more common than many people realize, especially on rural roads and during late hours when long periods often elapse before a heavier vehicle comes along to finally trip the unresponsive light.”

In applicable situations, motorists are expected to treat red lights like stop signs and proceed with caution. While the law is intended to apply only to broken or malfunctioning lights, there is some understandable concern that some more impatient drivers may use the law to pass through any red lights they believe are taking too long to change.

Red Light Crashes in West Chester, PA

The new law does not specifically state how long motorists must wait before proceeding through red lights. The people who are expected to benefit the most are drivers in rural parts of the state with less traffic, but it remains to be seen how often motorists in busier more urban areas might use the belief of a red light being out of operation or not functioning properly as a defense against any tickets for running a red light.

More importantly, allowing more drivers to pass through red lights could increase the chances of motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Coalition for Safer Roads, more than 3.7 million drivers in the United States ran a red light in 2014. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 709 people were killed and an estimated 126,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running that same year.

Drivers who rush to get through red lights can be at risk of causing catastrophic crashes that result in serious injuries for all people involved. Oncoming drivers may be powerless to avoid collisions that can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death.

The Ride on Red law certainly comes as a relief to many motorcyclists who have been stuck at unresponsive lights, but drivers of other types of vehicles still need to be especially cautious in deciding to proceed at intersections in which they believe a traffic signal may be out of operation or not functioning properly. In virtually every case, it is far safer for a motorist to simply wait for a light to change than attempting to turn into or pass through an intersection where the light is red.

If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in any kind of automobile accident in which a negligent driver ran a red light, it will be critical for you to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact an experienced West Chester personal injury lawyer today to get a free review your case that will help you understand what compensation you might be entitled to for any medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Study Reveals Thousands of Drivers Playing ‘Pokemon Go’ While Behind Wheel

‘Pokemon Go’ is a free location-based augmented reality game (a video game that allows players to experience digital gameplay in a real-world environment) that created a worldwide craze when it was released this past July. Players use their mobile devices to locate, capture, battle, or train virtual creatures, and the popularity of the game was not without criticism.

Some people complained about players using the app in sensitive locations such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum or Arlington National Cemetery, and many other players suffered serious injuries or were killed because they entered dangerous settings or ignored certain real-life hazards while playing the game. On September 16, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that demonstrated yet another concern about people using “Pokemon Go” at inopportune times: Playing while driving.

The study’s authors searched Twitter postings (tweets) containing the terms “Pokémon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive,” or “car” for July 10 through 19, 2016, as well as Google News reports that included “Pokémon” and “driving” published from July 10 to 20, 2016. The Google News results yielded 321 story clusters, but the researchers found that the 33 percent of tweets indicating that a driver, passenger, or pedestrian was distracted by “Pokemon Go” suggested there were 113,993 total incidences reported on Twitter in just 10 days.

While the findings were certainly concerning, one of the study’s authors, John Ayers, told NPR that the analysts knew they were undercounting because not all players use social media and the study did not reveal how many of the players were involved in automobile accidents. The study noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among essentially the game’s primary audience: 16- to 24-year-olds.

Catherine McDonald, an assistant professor of nursing in the Family and Community Health Department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NPR that young people may prioritize the game over the road. “The gaming aspect or the collecting of Pokemon and the competition aspect may outweigh some of the [safety] risks for them,” McDonald told NPR.

Distracted Driving Accidents in West Chester, PA

Even before mobile devices became more commonplace in society, motorists were still susceptible to various distractions that posed certain risks for others on the road. Generally, there are three types of possible distractions:

  • Visual — A distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual — A distraction that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive — A distraction that takes a driver’s mind off of the task at hand.

The amplified danger of “Pokemon Go” is that people who are playing the game while driving are subject to all three of these kinds of distractions. Much like people who text while driving, “Pokemon Go” players are at increased risk of causing motor vehicle accidents.

Innocent people involved in crashes caused by distracted drivers may sustain any one of a number of catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death. Negligent drivers will not necessarily admit that they had been preoccupied with “Pokemon Go” or something else on their mobile devices, which is why it is critical for any person who was hurt or had a loved one killed by a distracted driver to immediately retain legal counsel.

An experienced West Chester personal injury attorney can investigate the cause of a car crash and subpoena a negligent driver’s phone records, if necessary, to prove that the motorist was distracted. Contact a lawyer today if you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed by a distracted driver so you can get help obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.

Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones After Multiple Injuries, Property Damage

Samsung released its Galaxy Note 7 phone in mid-August in hopes of getting a jump on its competitor Apple releasing the latest model of the iPhone. On September 2, Samsung issued a recall of the Note 7 after finding that the batteries of some of the phones exploded while they were charging, and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall of the smartphones on September 15.

According to the CPSC, “Samsung has received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage.” Consumers are advised to immediately stop using and power down recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before September 15, 2016. They can then contact the establishments where they purchased the devices to receive a new Galaxy Note 7 with a different battery, a refund, or a new replacement device, free of charge.

One day after the CPSC issued its recall, Reuters reported that a Florida man filed what was believed to be the first (but probably not the last) lawsuit against Samsung over severe burns he suffered after his Galaxy Note 7 exploded in his front pants pocket. The 28-year-old man’s lawyer told Reuters that the man suffered “a deep second-degree burn, roughly the size of the phone, on his right thigh,” as well as severely burning his left thumb when tried to remove the phone from his pants.

The technology website CNET reported on September 14 that a Samsung spokesperson said the reason that the devices were exploding was “a very rare manufacturing error.” According to CNET, “Samsung’s preliminary findings show a production error that pushed together negative and positive poles within battery cells, causing it to heat up excessively.”

Product Liability Claims for Defective Devices in West Chester, PA

Like every other company, Samsung has a responsibility to ensure that the products it sells are safe for consumers and contain warnings that specifically address any possible dangers or hazards about certain uses. When normal use of a product results in serious injuries, the accident victim may be able to file a lawsuit against the company to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial harm.

If you or a loved one is ever injured by a defective product, here are the steps you should take in the immediate aftermath in order to preserve your legal rights:

  • Seek Medical Attention — People who have been severely injured will obviously call 911 when their injuries may be life-threatening, but even individuals who suffered seemingly minor injuries should still have a doctor conduct a formal review—and thus create a medical record.
  • Take Pictures — Try to take photographs of any injuries as well as the defective product after its use.
  • Save the Product — Whatever you do, do not throw away the defective product. Find some way to safely store the product somewhere that it will remain in its current condition.
  • Contact a Lawyer — You should call a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you or your loved one has been injured by a defective product. An experienced lawyer will know how to conduct a thorough investigation and help you pursue legal recourse for your injuries.

If you or your loved one suffered serious injuries as the result of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 or some other defective product, it is in your best interest to speak to a West Chester personal injury attorney so you can understand all of your legal options.

Who is Liable in an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?

Self-Driving Cars in Chester County, Pennsylvania

 As technology continues to evolve and become increasingly capable of handling complex tasks, car manufacturers and technology companies are in a mad race to develop fully functioning driver-less cars.

Companies such as Uber, Ford, and Google have such a huge stake in the development of driverless cars that they have teamed up to create the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to help ensure policies are created to further their ‘self-driven’ interests.

Uber-CMU Partnership Makes an Abrupt Stop in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania will play a substantial role in the advancement of self-driving cars. After all, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is the birthplace of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. However, after collaborating with Uber for only one year to advance AV technology, the Uber-Carnegie Mellon partnership has come to an abrupt halt. Could this be because they realized self-driving cars pose a serious threat to public safety?

If you were involved in an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, commercial truck accident, or bicycle accident in West Chester, Philadelphia, or Lancaster, PA, and have medical bills or have been unable to work due to injuries from the accident, contact the team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

The Ciccarelli Law Offices have experienced personal injury attorneys with extensive experience recouping monetary losses stemming from car accidents. Ciccarelli Law Offices have multiple locations throughout Pennsylvania, including; West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, and Philadelphia.

It is important that you immediately consult an experienced personal injury attorney to preserve your case and recuperate your losses. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

Driver-less Cars May Endanger West Chester, PA Motorists

Since the early 1890s, automobiles have been under the direct control of human beings. That constant may soon change within the next decade when operating systems “take the wheel” and begin controlling automobiles.

According to PennDot (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation), passenger cars made up more than 55% of the car crashes that occurred in West Chester, Springfield, and Pennsylvania as a whole.  The large number of passenger vehicles involved in car accidents could be contributed to distracted driving.

Drivers have become more distracted over the years with production of products and features commonly used while driving, such as car radios, cell phones, text messaging, GPS systems, and display screens in the driver’s view. One could present a compelling argument that technology and automobiles aren’t a very good combination.

Recently, a Florida man was killed while his Tesla’s autopilot feature was engaged, which prompted the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a letter stating that it is investigating all Tesla vehicles equipped with any version of their “Autopilot Technology Package”.

With a 5% increase in the total number of car accidents in Pennsylvania, self-driving cars using busy highways such as US 322, PA 162, and PA 842 is a major concern for drivers in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and other cities throughout Pennsylvania. Especially when high-end car manufacturers like Tesla are having difficulty creating an autopilot feature that can simply distinguish a massive truck from the sky.

Keystone State Politics and Self-Driving Cars

Seven other states and the District of Columbia currently have legislation that authorizes self-driving cars to use public roads in some capacity. To help update Pennsylvania’s transportation legislation, a newly-formed think tank has been charged with assisting PennDot draft policies for autonomous vehicles.

The Autonomous Vehicles Policy Task Force is comprised of Pennsylvania legislators, transportation officials, and other key figures with public safety experience. As of July 2016, Pennsylvania legislatures have proposed State Senate Bill 1268 to the transportation committee, which would permit the testing of automated vehicle once a company has provided proof of $5 million in general liability insurance.

Common Types of Collision Injuries in West Chester, PA

A person involved in a motor vehicle accident could sustain a number of different injuries. A few of the injuries that could result from a car accident include:

  • Head – Traumatic brain injuries, concussions, coma, to lasting cognitive problems.
  • Back – herniated disk, spinal cord injuries which could result in paralysis
  • Neck – whiplash, neck pain, swelling, and temporary vocal cord paralysis
  • Chest –trauma to chest area, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, traumatic cardiac arrest
  • Other injuries – broken bones, torn ligaments, severed or amputated limbs, post-traumatic stress disorder

 Injuries caused by automobile accidents can get costly and become a huge burden for the victims involved. Some injuries may present themselves immediately after the accident, while others may go undiscovered for months after the accident. This is why it is important to contact the team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190 so we can immediately help preserve your case.

The Future of Self-Driving Cars in Pennsylvania

 As self-driving cars are being tested on the streets of Pennsylvania, creating potential hazards for many drivers, confusion exists as to what impact autonomous cars will have on the law and personal injury cases. With so many unknowns, it is important to have a highly experienced attorney working on your behalf.

The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have years of extensive experience dealing with car accident victims. From the initial consultation, the seasoned attorneys will work together to obtain the best possible result in your case.

If you were involved in an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, commercial truck accident, or bicycle accident in West Chester, Philadelphia, or Lancaster, PA, and have medical bills or you have been unable to work due to injuries from the accident, contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

Ciccarelli Law Offices have multiple locations throughout Pennsylvania, including; West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, and Philadelphia. It is important that you immediately consult an experienced personal injury attorney to preserve your case and recuperate your losses.

References:

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2015&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=1268&pn=1835

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-80-2013mo%20-%201020173292832303.pdf?cb=1

http://www.penndot.gov/TravelInPA/Safety/Documents/2014_CFB_linked.pdf

http://news.psu.edu/story/329056/2014/10/07/research/probing-question-will-americans-accept-self-driving-cars

 

Sports Waivers and Child Injuries in Pennsylvania: Do I have legal recourse?

iStock_000026508384SmallMany parents with physically active children want to support that energy by placing them in activities such as sports. As sports have been found to improve youth development and academic achievement, there is also a risk of sports injury, including broken bones, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

To minimize liability, school districts and sports teams often require parents to sign a waiver or consent form. Generally, these waivers state the school district, sports team, or body hosting the sports activity is not liable for any injuries, medical expenses, or other damages related to the sports activity.

Most parents believe these waivers are absolute and absolve the other party from any liability or fault in the event of injury. However, this is not always the case. There are instances in which the waiver does not apply or does not completely limit liability.

If your child has been injured which playing sports anywhere in Chester County, Pennsylvania, including the 12 public school districts in the area, which include Avon Grove, Coatesville Area, Downingtown Area, Great Valley, Kennett Consolidated, Octorara Area, Owen J. Roberts, Oxford Area, Phoenixville Area, Tredyffrin/Easttown, Unionville-Chadds Ford, or West Chester Area, it is imperative to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

What are Common Causes and Types of Sports Injuries in Pennsylvania?

Children and young adults throughout Pennsylvania and Chester County participate in a variety of sport activities, including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and cheerleading.

Unfortunately, every year young athletes are affected by injuries, some of which may have long-term consequences. Some causes of physical injuries would include but are not limited to:

  • Negligent Medical Care
  • Defective and/or Dangerous Equipment
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • Improper Training
  • Negligent Supervision
  • Overuse injuries and/or Dangerous Workloads
  • Prior physical injuries/Re-injury

Some of the most common types of sports injuries in Chester County, include the following:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
  • Broken Bones
  • Spinal Cord Injuries, which include quadriplegia and paraplegia
  • Head Injuries, which include concussions
  • Sprains and Torn ligaments.

According to the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania (BIAP), approximately 156,000 concussions occur in Pennsylvania. Most of those concussions occurred during high contact sports, with more than 60 percent occurring during high school football practices and games.

Statistics also show over 1.4 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries of TBIs each year. Children between the ages of 0 to 14 years and teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 years are at the highest risks for TBIs.

According to the Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research, approximately 22 or more injuries occur each day by high school and college athletes.

If your child was injured playing sports in Avon Grove, Coatesville or Downington school districts in Chester County, please contact Ciccarelli personal injury attorneys for a fee case evaluation.

Waivers

In Chester, Lancaster, Berks and surrounding counties, parents have the ability to excuse the school district, sports team, or other party of legal liability, including waiving the right to a lawsuit, by signing a properly executed waiver.

If the waiver is accurately worded, listed clearly on the document, complete with the signature against who it would be used, then it will usually be valid, even in the case of negligence.

Essentially, a waiver must be in the following form:

  1. The waiver must be in writing;
  2. The waiver must be clearly worded and clearly express the intent to limit all legal liability;
  3. The waiver must clearly list the types of risks, including serious injury or death;
  4. Waiver must be prominently displayed in the document. The waiver cannot be in the fine print or otherwise hidden;
  5. The waiver must be signed by the person excusing liability; and
  6. The waiver cannot violate any Federal or State laws or public policy.

However, no waiver or permission slip will be able to sign away a child or parent’s right to sue in cases of extreme or gross negligence. Gross negligence is behavior that is so careless that it does not come near to the duty of care that was called for.

An example could be, if a child breaks his leg during a soccer game and his coaches pressure he/she to continue playing without pursuing medical attention, this coach most likely would have committed gross negligence.

Conclusion

Figuring out whether or not a lawsuit is necessary or possible after a waiver has been signed can be a complex issue. Ciccarelli Personal Injury attorneys welcome your calls and will review your child’s case, claim and advise you. Our southeastern Pennsylvania attorneys are more than qualified to help you evaluate your case and get the best results you wish for.

Ciccarelli Law Offices has defended many personal injury individuals throughout West Chester, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Kennett Square, Radnor, Plymouth Square, Malvern, and the surrounding area.

Contact the West Chester personal injury attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190 for a free, confidential consultation. Place your case in good hands at Ciccarelli Law Office.