The most recent figures on workplace fatalities from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that deaths due to injuries on the job decreased from 4,628 in 2012 to 4,405 in 2013. In the private industry sector, fatal injuries fell by 6 percent between 2012 and 2013. Younger workers were safer on the job; BLS reported only five fatal work injuries among individuals under 16 years of age, the lowest number ever recorded by the agency. The news is not all good, however. Workplace deaths among Hispanics increased by about 7 percent during the same time period. More than half of these involved workers were not born in the United States. Fatalities due to aircraft accidents accounted for 8 percent of all workplace deaths in the transportation sector and were up by 5 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 figures. Firefighters were also hard hit in 2013, mainly due to wildfires and other incidents in which multiple individuals lost their lives. For the families of those lost, retaining the services of a Houston industrial accident lawyer can often provide the legal assistance needed to protect their rights. Contractors Continue to Be at Risk BLS figures also show that contract employees continue to be at higher risk in the workplace and constituted roughly 17 percent of all work fatalities in 2013. In all, 734 contractors lost their lives in 2013 compared with 715 in the previous year. Contractors in the gas and oil extraction and construction industries accounted for about half of these deaths. A number of Houston petrochemical plant accidents in recent years have highlighted the risks to individuals working in the oil industry. Ensuring Safety in the Workplace These figures offer hope for employees in high-risk occupations. More remains to be done, however, to protect worker safety and to reduce the number of injuries and deaths even further. Three key issues must be addressed to ensure the safest and most productive environment for workers across a wide range of industries:
Recent accidents and explosions in the oil industry have attracted attention from members of the press and federal agencies alike. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 120 oil industry workers lost their lives in the course of their duties in 2008; of that number, roughly 15 percent were killed due to fires and explosions. The March 23, 2005, accident at BP's refinery in Texas City is widely regarded as the worst Houston petrochemical plant explosion in recent years. At least 170 people were injured and 15 workers lost their lives when hydrocarbon vapors exploded at the facility. BP was eventually fined over $21 million dollars for code violations and negligence in protecting the safety of its workers. Texas Hardest-Hit by Oil Explosions Texas consistently ranks among the top three states for fatalities caused by the oil and gas industry; in recent years, the state was ranked number one with 41 deaths directly attributable to explosions and other on-the-job incidents. Figures released by the BLS indicate a 21 percent increase in oil industry fatalities during the five years between 2004 and 2008. Nearly one out of every 50 employees in the Texas oil industry missed work due to an occupational illness or injury sustained on the job. The October 24, 2014, explosion at the Cotulla oil rig is a recent reminder of the dangers that face Texas oil workers in the course of their regular duties; at least five employees were airlifted to local hospitals to be treated for burns. Systematic Failure to Protect Workers According to experts in the oil industry, 78 percent of the fatal accidents recorded in Texas were attributable to negligent or inadequate safety practices on the part of oil companies. The April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon took the lives of 11 workers and injured 17 others. This economic and environmental catastrophe resulted in serious damage to wildlife habitats and to small businesses along the Gulf Coast. In September 2014, BP was found to be grossly negligent and to have demonstrated "conscious disregard of known risks" by failing to ensure the safety of its workers and of the public during its operations in the Gulf of Mexico. A National Problem Industrial explosions and accidents are not confined to the state of Texas, however. Statistics indicate that deaths in the oil and gas industry are nearly eight times higher than in other sectors of the economy. In some cases, workers may be assigned to 14-hour shifts to manage the demands of expanding oil fields in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other areas currently under development by oil companies. These factors significantly increase the risks not only of explosions and fires but also of oil train accidents and spills that can also threaten the lives of workers and residents in areas where these incidents occur. A Measure of Accountability In many cases, the lawsuits filed against oil companies and employers found to be negligent in protecting worker safety represent the only way to hold these large-scale corporate entities accountable for their actions. Families of those lost in an industrial plant explosion or oil-related accident can achieve a measure of closure by pursuing their claims against oil companies. For workers injured in the course of their regular duties, pursuing compensation from their employers can provide real help in managing medical costs and replacing lost wages due to missed work. Enlisting the help of an attorney experienced in these types of cases can help victims of industrial explosions to obtain the maximum settlement for their injuries or losses. By working with a qualified Houston personal injury attorney, workers and families can ensure that these companies pay the price for their negligence and are held accountable for their actions.
A jury recently sided with Josh Harman in a $175 million case in which Trinity Industries Inc. had been charged with making false claims to federal regulators in 2005 after making changes to its guardrail end caps, which are used on many American highways. The federal whistleblower likely utilized the services of a Houston auto accident lawyer as Trinity is based in Dallas, and the case was decided in Marshall, Texas. The ET-Plus is the guardrail end treatment in question. It has been added to highways throughout the United States after it was changed at least nine years ago, and lawsuits such as this one have since been filed in various locales throughout the country by truck accident attorney clients in Houston and elsewhere. According to these lawsuits, the newer version of the guardrail fails to perform properly and has caused at least 12 accidents involving vehicles that have hit them after running off the road. Although these caps are supposed to collapse away from the crashing vehicle, those who have consulted with people such as 18 wheeler accident lawyers have claimed that the ET-Plus guardrails instead pierce the vehicle and have caused at least one fatality. This is due to a reduction of their feeder chutes from 5 inches to 4 as this often causes the guardrails to get stuck inside the guide chute. Harman has also claimed that this shrinkage has likely decreased the chances that these guardrails can be reused following a crash, allowing Trinity to sell more new terminals than had previously been the case. According to a study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and funded by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the Safety Institute, the ET-Plus guardrail is 2.9 times more likely to cause a death and 1.4 times more likely to result in a severe injury than Trinity's earlier guardrail model, the ET-2000. In July, a mistrial was declared in this case after it was alleged that a Trinity official had attempted to intimidate Dean Sicking, a UAB professor who led that study. The company has denied those allegations. Trinity Industries stated that Crash tests conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have shown that these guardrails are safe enough to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration. Trinity also continues to stand by its product, stating that it has a "high degree of confidence in (its) performance and integrity." However, in lieu of this jury decision, the federal government sent Trinity a letter, asking it to conduct further crash testing on this guardrail and stating that a crash test plan must be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration by Oct. 31. If this is not done, the organization may deem that the use of the ET-Plus is no longer eligible for federal reimbursement when state highway departments purchase them. Earlier in 2014, four states - Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia -removed these ET-Plus guardrails from their lists of state-approved products, consequently banning them from any future use on roadways in those states. Nevada did so after Trinity did not disclose a change in the product while the other three states cited safety concerns as the reasons behind their decisions. Harman originally sued Trinity in 2012 on behalf of the government, utilizing the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The company may end up paying $1 billion as the False Claims Act states that a guilty party will pay three times proved damages and possibly attorneys' fees and fines as well. Trinity has hinted that it will appeal this ruling as the company released a statement following the verdict that stated that "Trinity believes the decision cannot and will not withstand legal scrutiny" and that Harman's allegations are "false and misleading."
Despite falling traffic fatality rates across the U.S., the death rate for motorists on the streets and highways of Texas continues to rise. This trend is especially evident in the southeast portion of the state where recent high-profile accidents claimed the lives of a number of drivers and passengers. Many of the worst car crashes involved large commercial vehicles, including 18-wheelers and large cargo trucks. For those injured in these catastrophic accidents, working with a qualified Texas 18-wheeler accident attorney can often provide support during the recovery process and can ensure adequate compensation for medical bills and other costs incurred as a result of the crash. Looking for Answers According to statistics available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, deaths resulting from auto accidents in Texas have increased by eight percent between 2009 and 2013. Fatality accidents involving 18-wheelers, however, increased by more than 50 percent during the same period, rising from 352 deaths in 2009 to 532 accident deaths in the 2013 calendar year. Transportation experts and public officials have attributed this rise in traffic fatalities to a number of factors, including the following:
Forty-four passengers and crew have been impacted as a result of a train accident near Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 16. Of those, 39 were able to walk away from the accident while five were critically injured. One of the injured people was a conductor; he was airlifted away from the accident after having suffered what are believed to be injuries to his back. This individual may need to contact a FELA claim lawyer after he is treated to make sure his legal rights are protected. The two trains collided near Brentwood, a sparsely populated unincorporated community located about 15 miles south of Fayetteville, a city of 70,000 that is home to the University of Arkansas. A passenger train had stalled on the tracks before a second train that had been sent to assist struck it head on at about 10:40 a.m. CDT. Fourteen of those who were hurt that morning were taken to Washington Regional Medical Center, a 366-bed acute care hospital located in Fayetteville. According to spokeswoman Gina Maddox, all of them were in stable condition hours after the accident, an improvement on the situation earlier in the day as all of the critically injured people had been sent here. However, each of these injured individuals will likely still be looking for the services of a railroad accident attorney in the coming hours and days. Between Brentwood and West Fork, a small city with a population of 2,000 that is located about 8 miles to the north of Brentwood, U.S. 71 was completely blocked off due to the large number of emergency vehicles that crowded the road that morning. These included vehicles operated by Washington County Emergency Services, a hazardous materials unit from Fayetteville and a number of local fire departments. According to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the road reopened at 1:30 p.m., a little less than three hours after the FELA railroad accident and about 90 minutes after the final injured parties had been taken to nearby medical facilities. The collision appeared to have taken place between U.S. 71 and the train tracks that are located to the west of it in a wooded area. In that general area, the West Fork of the White River runs near the railroad tracks. However, it was initially unclear if that waterway was affected by the 300 gallons of diesel fuel that appeared to have leaked as a result of the accident. Four railway cars and two engines were damaged in the crash as well. The train that had been stopped on the tracks was an excursion train that is regularly operated by the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. This company is based in Springdale, Ark., a city located immediately north of Fayetteville. According to the organization's website, a train departed Springdale at 8 a.m. for a 135-mile "scenic excursion through the Boston Mountains with a three-hour layover in downtown Van Buren for lunch and shopping" before returning. The round-trip journey was expected to take eight hours. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is a Class III railroad that offers rail car freight business in addition to scenic passenger journeys on refurbished antique cars such as the cars that were taken on this day. In fact, this company owns the tracks on which the accident occurred as well as the second train that had been attempting to provide support for the first one. The passenger train operations manager for the company, Brenda Rouse, did not provide further comment on the collision other than to say that it was under investigation. Individuals from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in northwest Arkansas later in the day to investigate the crash as well.
Frequently, big companies bend the rules. Examples include big pharmaceutical firms, which routinely release medications without adequate testing. Truckers are known for driving too many hours in too few days. Now, the surge in moving oil across the United States and Canada by railway has come under close scrutiny. It seems railway cars used on these "mobile pipelines" have been overloaded and mislabeled, which has led to explosions. Those explosions have captured the eye of many a railroad accident attorney and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). It seems giant corporations are at it again. They bend the rules regardless of how great the consequences may be. Profits seem to be more important to these companies than human lives. Even as lawmakers scramble to establish new rules regarding the mile-long trains hauling oil, NBC News has obtained documentation proving that regulators knew that these train cars were being overloaded and mislabeled since at least 2011. That was 18 months before 47 people were killed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, during the first accident involving these vehicles loaded to the gills with highly flammable oil. In Western North Dakota, oil production has increased mightily in Bakken. Now, some 1 million barrels of oil per day are shipped via "unit trains" that roll directly through U.S. and Canadian cities. This is predominantly due to the lack of a pipeline infrastructure. Observers have said that not enough attention has been given to ensuring the safety of these pipelines on steel wheels. Certainly, railroad injury attorneys have noticed and are lining up to file cases against the negligent oil companies that mislabel their products as Packing Group III when the shipments are really in the more flammable Packing Groups I or II. The overloading also makes the rail cars more susceptible to incidents that cause the oil to explode. Some of the rail cars were just unsafe for oil transportation. Oil trains have derailed in such widely scattered locations as North Dakota, Alabama and New Brunswick, Canada. Fortunately, these accidents did not cause any serious injuries. However, nearly 1,500 people who live in Casselton, N.D., were forced to flee their homes after an oil train crash on December 30, 2013, caused giant fireballs when over 400,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled. NBC used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents that proved regulators were conscious of these issues for years. As early as October 2011 and June 2012, the FRA performed inspections on oil transportation and the increased number of loading operations in Bakken. The report, which was called "North Dakota--The Next Hazardous Materials Frontier," stated that the train cars being used were "out of specification" for the job of hauling oil. These cars were also being overloaded and sent on their way in the hopes that nothing bad would occur. A local consultant on chemical safety and railroad transportation said that the railways were being used because they were ready and convenient. Companies are clamoring for tank cars to ship the oil, which has led to the oil being shipped in an unsafe fashion. The shortage of available, safe cars was described as a "major concern." He also said that it is obvious there is inadequate infrastructure and ineffective regulation. Inspectors wrote that the reason these unsafe cars were being used is that the pressure to ship the oil is greater than the risk of failing to get the crude to the refineries. After fines were levied against companies that were responsible for overloaded and mislabeled cars derailing and causing evacuations, the companies began searching for ways to bolster the cars against future spills, but as train accident attorneys can attest, the cattle have already left the barn. New laws may be enacted, but there has already been plenty of damage caused by another issue of major industry's greed.
In its October 2014 edition of Vital Signs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented in-depth information regarding the financial costs of auto accidents on the U.S. economy. According to the CDC, car crashes accounted for over 2.5 million visits to the emergency room and 200,000 hospitalizations in 2012 alone. These injuries are expected to add up to $18 billion in medical costs over the lifetime of the victims and to result in $33 billion in lost work and productivity. For accident victims in Houston, Texas who are affected by these catastrophic car crashes, enlisting the help of a Houston auto accident lawyer can provide added help in obtaining compensation for their injuries and losses. Texas Residents at Higher Risk Statistics released by the CDC in 2010 indicated that the state of Texas ranked second in financial losses incurred due to auto accidents with $3.5 billion in costs directly attributable to these incidents. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recorded more than 3,300 traffic-related fatalities in 2013. When the cost of these deaths is factored in to the other economic losses suffered by victims, employers and families in Texas, TxDOT estimates the total financial damages caused by vehicle accidents at $25.7 billion for the 2013 calendar year. These losses represent a serious blow to the economic health of the state of Texas and to the U.S. as a whole. Outlining the Economic Damages The costs of a single auto accident can comprise a wide range of expenditures, losses and damages. Some of the most common expenses involved in an accident include the following: • Repair or replacement of vehicles damaged in a crash • Damage to contents, including cargo for semi-truck trailers and other large trucks • Rental car expenditures during the repair process • Medical expenses for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, physical therapy and other rehabilitation regimens • Long-term nursing care in the patient's home or in a skilled-care facility • Lost wages due to missed work time • Reduced earning potential for seriously injured or disabled accident victims • Funeral expenses and lifetime loss of earnings for those killed in auto accidents When all of these costs are figured into the economic losses sustained during a single calendar year, the resulting sum is astronomical. To put these costs into perspective, the total value of Texas oil production each year is estimated to be $100 billion. The financial losses sustained annually due to automobile accidents in the state equal approximately one-fourth of that figure. Saving Lives and Reducing Economic Costs A few simple steps could significantly reduce the number of fatalities and the economic losses sustained due to auto accidents. • Seat belts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries for those involved in car crashes. Increased enforcement of seat belt laws already on the books could potentially save millions over the course of a single year. • Mandatory implementation of systems designed to provide alerts to drowsy drivers could prevent accidents caused by fatigue. This is especially critical for drivers of 18-wheeler trucks who spend many hours on the road during a typical week. • Improved education for teen drivers that highlights the dangers of distracted driving and speeding. • Tougher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could reduce the number of accidents caused by these activities. Learning to drive defensively can also help Texas drivers to avoid accidents and to reduce the overall personal and economic costs associated with these traumatic events. If you have been financially impacted by an auto accident, consulting a qualified Houston personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your losses and injuries. An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer can provide guidance and support in navigating the insurance claim process and in achieving a fair settlement that takes into account all the economic costs of these serious accidents for you and your family.
Modern pharmaceutical products can provide real relief for patients suffering from a wide array of ailments. Over-the-counter medications are usually safe and effective when used as directed. In some cases, however, patients may experience unexpected side effects or may not be made aware of the potential risks involved in using these drug products. Individuals and families who have suffered injuries or losses due to the use of non-prescription and prescription medications can often receive compensation for their damages by working with a qualified drug lawsuit attorney. These legal professionals understand the intricacies of the pharmaceutical industry and can ensure a fair settlement for those injured through drug company negligence or oversight. Accidental Overdoses Can Result in Permanent Damage For most people, taking over-the-counter remedies for minor ailments is a quick and convenient way to stave off symptoms for a few hours. Antihistamines, pain relievers and medicines designed to combat motion sickness are often used to fight mild flu symptoms, for example. However, combining two or more different medications that may contain the same main ingredient can cause an accidental overdose that can cause serious and lasting damage to internal organs. The most common culprits in over-the-counter overdose cases include the following:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled in favor of Adam Johnson on Oct. 1, 2014 as his employer, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), was judged to have retaliated against him after he reported a work-related injury and provided the company with his physician's treatment plan. Thanks to his FELA attorneys, BNSF was ordered by the federal agency to pay Johnson back wages retroactive to April, emotional distress damages and legal fees totaling more than $30,000. He will also have his former or a similar position, benefits and seniority restored. After he was injured, Johnson suffered periodic headaches and was encouraged by his doctor to take time off of work when they were severe. However, BNSF responded by ruling that he violated its "availability" policy in late 2013 for several absences from work, many of which had taken place after his work-related injury occurred. A month after it ruled similarly again in March following absences in December, January and February that were related to his injury, the company let him go. BNSF cited violations of its Employee Performance and Accountability policies related to its attendance guidelines. In between those two instances, the Mandan, N.D., switchman contacted OSHA through its whistleblower program and communicated that BNSF had illegally retaliated against him after he reported his injury and treatment plan. He added that his rights had been violated under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. OSHA investigated his claim and determined that it had merit as it was clear that his doing so was a contributing factor in his later being terminated by the company. "Reporting an injury and a subsequent treatment plan ordered by a physician, regardless of an employer's policy or deadline, is protected activity by law," Gregory Baxter, an OSHA regional administrator who works out of Denver, said in a press release. "BNSF failed to prove that its personnel actions were anything other than retaliation." If it desires, the nation's second-largest freight railroad network has 30 days from the time it received OSHA's order to file any objections or request a hearing before the organization's Office of Administrative Law judges. If no objections are filed during this time period, the findings will become final. BNSF, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, operates trains through every state in the continental United States west of Alabama. Its trains travel nearly 200 million miles per year, the most of any company of its type located in North America. It has operated since 1996, first as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway before taking its slightly altered current name in 2005. Johnson's hometown of Mandan is located across the Missouri River from North Dakota's state capital, Bismarck. As part of this settlement, BNSF was also ordered to provide employees at its Mandan facilities with a copy of the Federal Rail Safety Act Fact Sheet to ensure that they are informed of their rights. The whistleblower program, which may be accessed at Whistleblowers.gov, provides an avenue for employees in a variety of industries to report violations to laws that their employers had committed. Workers are protected from any repercussions that may stem from reporting work-related injuries or violations of workplace safety, environmental or railroad laws. This is thanks to the Occupational and Health Act of 1970, which ensured that employers are responsible for providing safe workplaces, and those voicing violations of these rights should not be punished for doing so. If they are, attorneys such as a railroad injury lawyer should be consulted to make sure that the appropriate amount of compensation is provided for violating those rights. Railroad workers who are injured on the job are specifically protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Individuals who suffer these types of injuries should contact train accident attorneys to ensure that their rights are protected. Johnson was hurt in August 2013 while switching in a BNSF yard in Mandan.
How would you feel if you found out that your doctor was paid handsomely by a drug maker every time he or she wrote a prescription for you? If you knew that your physician received extra compensation for recommending a certain medical device, would you believe that they were more interested in the perks of prescribing than in actually offering you a cure for your condition? It is no secret that people have been hurt by drugs and treatments recommended to them by doctors they trusted. In some cases, patients who have been harmed have little choice but to turn to an injury from prescription drugs lawyer to help them. Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in effect, it is not hard to determine which physicians and hospitals receive monetary compensation from drug makers and medical device companies. Enacted in 2010, the ACA is slowly but surely changing the way America manages its health care. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act is an integral part of the ACA . Since it became law, drug and medical device makers are legally required to disclose how much money and other compensation they give to doctors, hospitals and research facilities. The information is compiled into a searchable database called Open Payments as of September 2014, the publicly accessible Open Payments database allows anyone to obtain data regarding the financial relationships between medical professionals and manufacturers. This information may be of use to private citizens, prescription drugs lawsuit attorneys and class action lawsuit attorneys. Who pays doctors and why There have been financial connections between medical practitioners and drug makers for a long time, and not all are considered suspicious. The tradition of research funding is well known. It is when a doctor has a vested interest in promoting a drug for no reason other than their own financial gain that the deal becomes suspect. When a doctor is paid by a pharmaceutical company, does it influence their research results? It might. Most above-board teaching hospitals severely restrict or even bar doctors from being paid by drug and medical device makers in exchange for researching and then promoting a particular prescription medication or medical device. They limit such activity for several reasons, not the least of which is the appearance of bias. Is My doctor Beholding to Big Pharma? If you live in Texas, there is a good chance that your prescribing physician is one of the dozens of licensed doctors who receive massive compensation in the way of fees, funding and other things of value from drug manufacturers and makers of medical equipment and devices. In a Houston Chronicle article dated September 30, 2014, it was revealed that doctors and hospitals in the Lone Star State received drug company compensation to the tune of nearly $250 million in the final five months of 2012 alone. Shocking news, but that is not the whole story. The moneys paid to Texas doctors and hospitals represents only around 7% of the $3.5 billion in cash, compensation and gifts paid to American medical professionals by major pharmaceutical firms between August and December 2013. Legal Remedy is Available When a person takes a drug as directed by their doctor, they trust that medication to be safe and effective. At the very least, that medication should cause no harm. Unfortunately, there have been numerous instances where a physician was found to have been negligent when prescribing. If you or someone you care for was hurt by a doctor who prescribed medication he or she was paid to research and promote, consult with a medical class action lawsuit without delay.
To increase safety, transportation officials are proposing new regulations for transporting oil. However, oil and railway companies are protesting the suggested timeframe for complying with the regulation changes. The number of rail accidents occurring in the United States and Canada has grown in recent years. These accidents have caused deaths as well as severe environmental damage. An experienced railroad worker injury attorney can help people gain compensation after they have been harmed in railway accidents. Railcar Failure Oil and railroad companies have been busy claiming the other is to blame for the many explosions and leaks. Oil companies assert that track issues and human error are the reason for the numerous accidents while railroad companies declare that tank cars are not able to withstand crashes and oil is too combustible to travel in cars by rail. A major problem is that the cars were originally designed to transport nonhazardous materials like fruit juice and corn syrup. The Proposed Timeline The Federal Transportation Department is proposing a two-year timeline for the retrofitting of older railway cars. The oil and railroad industries are both pushing back on the timeframe and are requesting that regulators give them seven years to complete the upgrades. Jack Gerard, the American Petroleum Institute's president, told correspondents that manufacturers need six to 12 months to prepare to renovate the tens of thousands of railcars that require the update. Mr. Gerard also claims that they need an additional three years to complete the repairs. The oil and railroad companies are asking for another three years to retrofit railcars that have been produced after 2011. One railcar manufacturer contradicted the others by confirming that the two-year timeline was difficult, but they could probably do it. If federal regulators grant the timeline extension, it could result in additional safety issues. People who have been harmed by a railroad company should contact a railroad accident attorney to see if they are eligible for compensation. Tougher Safety Regulations The Transportation Department's proposals include developing a new standard for the brakes in tank cars, imposing speed limits and creating special routes around areas with large populations. The department would also like the industry to destroy its oldest cars and retrofit newer models. Why the Companies are Protesting the Safety Changes According to railcar manufacturers, they do not have enough steel available to make the changes. In addition, railcar officials claim that they are lacking qualified laborers, such as welders, to complete the retrofitting job in the time requested by government regulators. Oil and railroad officials also stated that the short timeline could harm consumers by interrupting the transport of other products like gasoline, ethanol and chemicals. Companies convey these goods in the same tanker car models that the oil industry uses to transport its products. Agreed Upon Safety Changes Oil and railroad companies have agreed to implement a safer design for new tanker cars. Thermal blankets are included in the new design. Railcar manufacturers will install the safety feature between the tank car casings and the outer coverings. If a fire starts, the blanket will stop the oil contained within the car from heating up and exploding. Citizens Respond The oil industry has expanded its crude oil rail shipments from several thousand carloads 10 years ago to more than 430,000 just last year. Since 2008, the United States and Canada have seen 10 major railroad derailments involving oil shipments. Agents from the Transportation Department report that the public, businesses and elected representatives have expressed concerns about safety and are suggesting changes for transporting oil by rail car. Citizens made requests that ranged from banning the shipping practice altogether to developing special routes to prevent the shipments from entering the country's national parks. Train accident lawyers can help those who have been affected by incidents caused by transporting oil by rail.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often called the Jones Act, was instituted to provide a framework within which seamen could claim financial compensation from their employers for injuries that were sustained directly as a result of the negligence of the ship's captain, its owners or other crew members. These added protections were intended to provide a safer and more seaworthy working environment for sailors who otherwise had little or no recourse against unsafe vessels and incompetent owners and ship captains. Jones Act attorneys specialize in providing support for seamen in pursuing compensation for their claims. To receive these protections, however, sailors must first demonstrate that they meet the criteria necessary to qualify as seamen under the provisions of the Jones Act. What Defines a Seaman? Although all seamen are sailors, not all sailors can be called seamen under the Jones Act. Seamen must meet the following requirements:
A recent collision that claimed the lives of four members of a Texas college softball team is still under investigation, but witnesses at the scene reported that an 18-wheeler semi-trailer truck crossed the median on Interstate-35 near Sulphur, Oklahoma, and plowed directly into the side of the bus transporting the young women on the North Central Texas College (NCTC) softball team. Three victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident; a fourth died after her arrival at a nearby hospital. Two other team members were seriously injured and were undergoing treatment at area hospitals. While no charges have yet been initiated against the driver of the out-of-control truck, it is likely that the families of those lost in this tragic accident will require the services of a qualified Dallas 18-wheeler accidents attorney to hold the driver and his employer accountable for their deadly negligence. No Answers from Authorities Yet Although it is clear that the 18-wheeler truck left its designated lanes of traffic and crossed over the median to strike the bus carrying the NCTC team, many questions remain regarding contributing and causative factors for the crash. The truck continued its forward momentum even after striking the team bus and went off the road completely, leading some experts to question whether driver fatigue played a role in this accident. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol captain on the scene indicated that it took about an hour to locate the semi-trailer truck after the accident. The driver of the truck, 53-year-old Russell Staley, was treated for minor injuries and released from a local hospital. Both drivers were administered toxicology tests to determine if drugs or alcohol could have been a factor in the crash; however, the results of these tests may not be available to investigators for several weeks. Bigger Trucks Mean Bigger Risks The size and weight of 18-wheeler trucks can make it much harder to brake quickly. That same bulk can produce catastrophic results when semi-trailer trucks collide with smaller or lighter vehicles. While the drivers of 18-wheeler trucks typically walk away with only minor bumps and bruises, the drivers and passengers in other cars are not usually so lucky. Lost limbs, spinal cord injuries and trauma are typical results of car-vs.-semi accidents and can cause lifelong disabilities for victims of these high-impact crashes. To make matters worse, many truck drivers work extremely long hours with limited break times. This can result in fatigue and inattention on the road that can directly contribute to serious accidents. Financial Considerations Trump Safety Although a number of available safety systems and devices are available for installation or retrofitting on existing 18-wheeler trucks, many transportation companies are unwilling to make the necessary investment to implement these features. Inattention and sleep alerting systems can provide drivers with early warning of fatigue symptoms. If installed in all 18-wheelers in the U.S., these devices could potentially save hundreds of lives each year. The failure of trucking companies to implement these alerting systems is generally ascribed to a lack of financial resources or motivation on the part of these corporate entities. For the victims of these catastrophic accidents, seeking the assistance of a Dallas truck accident lawyer may be the only way to hold trucking companies and drivers accountable for their actions and to gain compensation for injuries and losses. A qualified 18-wheeler accident lawyer can provide advice and guidance in pursuing a fair settlement and applying financial pressure to implement safety systems on their semi-trailer trucks. By making it more costly to manage legal proceedings than it would be to install alerting devices and to enforce safer driving practices, victims and families can make a positive impact that can potentially reduce risks for drivers in Texas and across the U.S.