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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Risk in Motorcycle Accidents

May 26th, 2015 by admin

The great danger in motorcycle accidents, even minor wrecks where a motorcyclist may not feel the need for medical treatment, is that the motorcycle rider has suffered a blow to their head which has resulted in injury to their brain or nervous system. In our part of the country, where so many people are free to ride their motorcycles without a helmet legally, the risk of traumatic brain injury due to a motorcycle accident is high.

Danger of TBI and Concussions in a Motorcycle Crash

Bikers / motorcycle drivers and their loved ones need to be aware of how sneaky a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be — and that TBI victims may not exhibit immediate symptoms even though they have sustained a severe injury to their brain.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that brain injuries can cause death hours or days after the injury.

TBIs and concussions that have been sustained in a motorcycle accident may prove fatal hours later, or even after several days have passed since the crash happened.

Another warning for those who ride motorcycles and suffer a blow to the head in a crash: the costs of care in these situations can be astronomical. Consider the following estimates on care costs following a TBI injury from the Brain Injury Association of America:

• Average hospital-based acute rehab is about $8,000 per day;
• Range for post-acute residential is about $850 to $2,500 per day;
• Day treatment programs (e.g., 4 hours of therapy) are about $600 to $1,000 with no room/board.

Watch Out for These TBI Symptoms and Get Help ASAP

Freedom and independence are the reasons that people ride motorcycles. The experience of riding a motorcycle on the open road is so different from any other kind of transportation: it’s unique and thrilling and for many motorcyclists, it’s worth the risk of injury to drive their bike – helmet or not.

That’s a position to respect; however, for those loved ones who are concerned about the possibility that a motorcyclist has suffered a brain injury or concussion that warrants medical care, the CDC provides this list of symptoms which, if seen, mean that the person should have immediate emergency medical treatment:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Look very drowsy or cannot be awakened.
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other.
  • Have convulsions or seizures.
  • Cannot recognize people or places.
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated.
  • Have unusual behavior.
  • Lose consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored).

Injury Claims After Motorcycle Accidents

Most motorcycle accidents involve traffic accidents with bigger vehicles. Often, the drivers of the sedans, minivans, trucks, or SUVs have failed to see the bike sharing the road with them and have hit the motorcycle as they change lanes, turn left or right, or enter/exit an expressway.

Other dangers that motorcyclists face include road hazards that cannot be avoided (like cargo that has fallen from a truck, or debris that has not been collected by road workers) as well as construction zone risks and design flaws in highways that were built without consideration of motorcycle traffic (harsh curves, hidden signals, etc.).

Personal injury claims can be made by the motorcyclists or on their behalf against those who may be responsible for the crash. Insurance policies covering the defendants in these situations can provide the funds needed not only for immediate medical care but also the long term therapy and lifestyle needs that a serious TBI injury may require.

And remember: the motorcycle helmet isn’t a solution and bikers can suffer serious brain injury in a crash while wearing a helmet.

Check out this video that is pro-helmet insofar as protecting against brain injury in a motorcycle accident:

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May 2015: Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May 21st, 2015 by admin

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), your chances of dying in a motorcycle accident are 26 TIMES HIGHER than if you had chosen to drive a car, pickup truck, SUV, or any other kind of motor vehicle.

Motorcycles are dangerous for riders if there is any kind of accident on the road, since there is little if any protection (other than helmets, leathers, boots) for the human body in a crash.   From NHTSA:

  • There were an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists injured during 2013, a five percent decrease from 93,000 motorcyclist injured in 2012.
  • Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 26 times more frequently than passenger car occupants in a traffic crash.
  • 25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses.
  • 40 percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2013 were alcohol impaired.
  • Motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes at night were almost four times more frequently to be alcohol impaired than those killed during the day.

 

 

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

To protect people from being seriously hurt in motorcycle accidents across the country, every year the federal government mounts a national campaign — Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month — to educate those who ride motorcycles about the risks they face while on the road as well as helping make drivers who share the roads with motorcycles more aware of the risks and how drivers can give more respect to motorcyclists driving alongside them.

“Sharing the road means looking out for your neighbors, whether driving, riding, or walking – and when everyone obeys the rules of the road we all travel more safely,” said Secretary Foxx. “It’s especially important now as the weather gets warmer and more motorcyclists will be out on the road – we must look out for their safety.”

Helmet Laws in Indiana and Illinois

One of the biggest controversies surrounding motorcycle safety is whether or not the rider should wear a motorcycle helmet. Helmets are not federally mandated, it is up to the individual states to pass laws regarding who has to wear a helmet in their state.

Right now, there are 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that make it illegal to drive a motorcycle without a helmet. That means in most states, helmets are either not required, or they are only required for certain riders (like motorcyclists who are under 18 years old).

Illinois is one of three states that has NO HELMET LAW.

In Indiana, you only need to wear a motorcycle helmet if you are under the age of 17 years.

 

Head Injury Risk in Motorcycle Accidents

According to NHTSA research, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Proponents for motorcycle helmets argue that helmets are around 37% efficient in preventing fatalities in motorcycle crashes involving the driver of the bike and 41% efficient in protecting those who are passengers on the motorcycle at the time of the accident.

Their argument is that helmets protect the wearer from brain injury in a motorcycle accident.

Those who don’t like wearing motorcycle helmets argue that wearing the helmet makes it more dangerous for the driver to see what’s going on around him and can be the cause of accidents just as much as preventing them. Additionally, they are cumbersome and curtail the freedom of movement that is part of the pleasure of riding a motorcycle on the open road.

Injury Claims After Motorcycle Crashes

For those riding motorcycles that are in a serious traffic accident here in Indiana or Illinois, the risk of serious injury is great. Traumatic brain injuries, even if they aren’t fatal, all too often result in permanent damages and life-altering harm.

Motorcycle accidents often mean huge damage claims where medical expenses, long term medical care, pain and suffering in the past and future, lost earning capacity, loss ability to enjoy life, and other claims must be advocated on behalf of the accident victim and their families.  If you or a loved one has suffered in an accident involving a motorcycle, then you may have legal recourse under state laws protecting victims form personal injury or wrongful death.

Workers in Indiana And Illinois Work in Some of The Most Dangerous Jobs in America

May 19th, 2015 by admin

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has release its latest research study on the dangers facing workers in the United States and as part of that study, it has compiled the annual list of the Ten Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States.

Indiana and Illinois: Not in Top 5 Most Dangerous States for Workers

They are the following — and notice how most of these jobs are the kinds of work that many people in our part of the country, in Indiana and Illinois, go off to everyday to make a living for themselves and their families, depending upon their employers to keep them safe in a safe work environment.

Fortunately, according to the AFLCIO, neither Indiana nor Illinois are among the top five most dangerous states in which to work: they are North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Alaska, and New Mexico.

The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America

10. Construction
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 18.1

9. Electrical power-line workers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 21.5

8. Farmers, ranchers, agricultural
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 22.9

7. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 23.6

6. Mining machine operators
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 26.9

5. Refuse / Recycable material collectors (Garbage Workers)
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 33.0

4. Roofers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 40.5

3. Aircraft pilots / engineers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 50.6

2. Fishers
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 75.0

1. Logging workers / Forestry
Fatality rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers): 91.3

Liability in Fatal Big Rig Semi Truck Accidents: Self-Driving Trucks

May 14th, 2015 by admin

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 14 Million licensed truck drivers are on the job in the United States, driving their huge trucks and moving their cargo loads over roads and highways in Indiana, Illinois, and the rest of the country at all times of the day and night, every day of the year (actual number per BLS: 13,828,000 truckers in August 2013).

While goods and freight do get moved in the U.S. marketplace via planes, trains, and boats, it is the commercial semi truck, the 18 wheeler that is responsible for moving over 80% of all U.S. freight transportation in our country. Our economy relies upon the big rig semi truck and the professional truck driver.

 

 

Which means that not only do we all depend upon the trucking industry; we all share the road with these heavy (80,000 lbs or more) commercial rigs as we go about our day or when we travel for business or vacation. Anyone driving along Borman Expressway knows how much everyday driving involves sharing lanes with big rig semi tractor trailer trucks.

Self-Driving Big Rig Semi Trucks are a Reality on U.S. Roads

Now that the announcement has been made that the State of Nevada has okayed the new Self-Driving Semi Trucks to ride on Nevada highways, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see these commercial trucks here in our part of the country.

As envisioned by the trucking industry, not only will single semi trucks be able to drive alongside us with the automation operating the big rig while the truck driver is free to do other things, but eventually these new gizmos are projected to allow a single truck driver to move a caravan of self-driving big rig semi trucks down the expressway. One truck driver in this scenario will be moving a line of big rigs down the freeway, all of them connected by the self-driving computer technology.

What does this mean for the safety of those who share the roads with these Self-Driving Trucks?

Well, first of all any personal injury claims resulting from a truck crash may have an injured plaintiff with a harder case to try. Consider how easy the defense will argue that truck driver error is not to blame for a crash. The truck driver’s lawyer as well as the trucking company may both point the finger at the manufacturer of the device, the manufacturer or the truck itself, as well as any company in charge of maintenance and upkeep of the trucks and the technology.

These cases may be more complicated as products liability cases focused upon the product and whether or not it failed rather than negligence cases based upon driver error where the human behind the wheel failed in their duty to drive that truck safely.

Elements of Claim for Victim of Commercial Truck Crash

In all accident cases, damages can be awarded if the plaintiff can prove there was a legal duty to him or her that was breached by the defendant(s) and that this breach of duty was the cause of their harm and injury.

Duty, breach, cause, harm: these are the elements of any truck crash case where someone is seriously injured or killed.

The cause of truck accidents where the Self-Driving Truck is involved may well have the defendants arguing about that “cause” and the trucking company and the truck driver will challenge the product or gizmo as failing and causing the crash.  It was hacked, for instance; there was a communications failure between devices in the caravan; etc. 

What about the driver?  It is foreseeable that the manufacturers of the gizmo (and the truck and those involved in maintenance) will counter that because the truck driver is still in the cab of that truck, and responsible for taking over in case of potential danger where the system sounds an alert or alarm for the human to take the helm, that the driver and driver error will still be the cause of the crash, or a contributing factor to the accident.

Do These Devices Really Address Reasons Behind Truck Driver Error?

Already we know that truck drivers can make mistakes that cause big rig semi truck accidents where all too often, people are seriously injured or die in the accident.  We know that, for instance:

Will the addition of a Self-Driving gizmo on these big rigs prevent these reasons for driver error?

Isn’t there an argument to be made that having the Self-Driving feature may only increase the temptation for truck drivers here to sleep, to surf the web, or to use drugs or alcohol, and when the alarm signals that the driver is needed to operate the big rig, it may be too late to stop a crash?

Will Self-Driving Big Rig Semi Truck Lessen Liability for Trucking Industry?

May 12th, 2015 by admin

This week, it’s being revealed that those new self-driving cars being tested by Google are having accidents and crashes. These are vehicles that do more than cruise control and automatic speed limits: these are vehicles that steer the vehicle as well, making the human being being the wheel unnecessary.

For details on the self-driving car crashes, read “SELF-DRIVING CARS CAN’T AVOID ACCIDENTS ON CALIFORNIA ROADS.”

Self-Driving Trucks Hit the U.S. Highways This Month

Which brings to the other big news in personal injury accident issues on Indiana and Illinois roads this week: the debut of the self-driving big rig semi truck. Already, the State of Nevada has approved these monsters to drive the Nevada highways where trucking companies are excited to test out these new gizmos driving vehicles in excess of 80,000 lbs. along public roadways.

Safer Roads or Bigger Profits?

The self-driving big rig semi trucks still have a licensed commercial truck driver behind the wheel. The difference is that the truck driver is freed up “to answer email” and other matters while the gizmo, similar to the Google cars, not only monitors speed but manuevers the truck along the roadway based upon tracking the yellow and white lines painted on the asphalt. If there’s a problem, a signal sounds to alert the driver that he needs to take the wheel.

The trucking industry is VERY excited about these new self-driving trucks. They dream of days to come where a caravan of self-driving big rigs move along the American Highway and perhaps only that truck in front has a human being overseeing things, ready to take control if needed.

Thing is, an argument can be made that this isn’t about driver fatigue or truck safety as much as it is about greater profits for trucking companies so they can move as much cargo as fast as possible along their routes.

How this impacts liability claims and crashes in our post on Thursday.

Here’s a video of the new self-driving commercial trucks:

In a Bike Accident, Bicyclist Can Be Seriously Hurt or Die

May 7th, 2015 by admin

Here in Indiana and Illinois, there are lots of people encouraging bike riding, not just for sport or exercise, but as a way to commute to work or school. Riding a bicycle to work fights against climate change as well ask helping to lower personal expenses of driving a car or truck every day.

You can save lots of money by opting to ride a bike to work instead of taking your car, and statistically since many American workers live within 3 miles of where they work, riding a bicycle instead of driving a car is a viable alternative.

The Danger of Bicycle Crashes

However, riding a bicycle comes with its own dangers. When someone riding a bike is involved in an accident with a car, truck, SUV, minivan, or other large motor vehicle, the bicyclist has little body protection and is often seriously injured in the car crash. This is true even if the vehicle is traveling at a slow rate of speed. Risk of severe and long-term injuries only increase if the bike rider has chosen not to wear a bike helmet at the time of the accident.

Many may not consider bicycle-car accidents a serious concern. Still, thousands of people are involved in these kinds of accidents each year, and as more and more people begin riding bicycles alongside Indiana and Illinois roadways, there will be a rising risk of fatal bicycle accidents in our part of the country.

People do get really hurt, and sometimes they don’t survive their injuries. Just last September in Porter, Indiana, Albert Green was killed in a bicycle accident where he fell from his bike alongside Waverly Road and hit his head; his traumatic brain injuries were so serious that he did not survive.

And fans of Bono and the band U2 are aware that Bono was in a serious bicycle accident last year while riding his bike in New York City. Bono suffered injuries to his head, neck, spine, elbow, hand, and face and has sustained permanent injuries to his hand. Bono’s bike accident may mean that his hand injuries are so severe he will never be able to play the guitar again. For the frontman of a mega-band like U2, that is an extremely serious result from an accident that many fail to respect as a dangerous one: bike accidents get less respect than motorcycle crashes, for instance.

Bicycle Safety Tips

From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

1. Bike Riders

* Wear a properly-fitted helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
* Check your bike before heading out: check all equipment and parts for proper fit and function, including tires, brakes, handlebars and seats.
* Ride as a vehicle on the road; always travel in the same direction as traffic.
* Obey traffic signs, signals and lane markings; signal all turns; and follow local laws.
* Be predictable by riding in a straight line and use hand signals at every lane change or turn. Look ahead for traffic and obstacles.
* Be visible: wear bright colors, reflective materials and lights on your bicycle at night.
* Ride focused and alert: don’t use electronic devices, and never ride impaired by alcohol or drugs.

2. Drivers

* Respect designated bicycle lanes.
* Allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road.
* Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space.
* Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
* Look for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
* Never drive distracted or impaired. Always buckle up.

May is Bicycle Safety Month and National Bike Month

May 5th, 2015 by admin

This month is National Bicycle Safety Month — as well as National Bike Month. One campaign focuses upon accidents where people are hurt while riding bicycles, especially on the road in car accidents; the other campaign seeks to encourage people to ride bikes more often.

 

National Bike Safety Month

From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we know that 726 people were killed while riding bicycles in 201 and another 49,000 were hurt in traffic accidents where the bicyclist was hit by a car. Most of these accident victims aren’t kids: the average age of someone hurt while riding a bicycle, according to NHTSA data, is 43 years. It’s usually a man that gets hurt; and most of the bicycle accidents that result in someone dying happen in the late afternoon until midnight.

“Our agency is committed to increasing safe riding behaviors among bicyclists, and heightening awareness and personal responsibility among motorists and others about safely sharing the road with bicyclists,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “All cyclists should always wear their helmets, as it is the most effective way to prevent head injury in a crash.”

 

National Bike Month

The League of American Bicyclists has been promoting bicycle riding with May as National Bike Month since 1956. Every year, Americans of all ages are encouraged to get out and ride their bikes.

Next week, from May 11 – 15, 2015, is being heralded as National Bike to Work Week as part of the month long campaign. People in Indiana, Illinois, and elsewhere in the country will be encouraged to ride their bike to work next week — even if they’ve never done it before and even if they’re rusty at riding.

From the League:

More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.

Indianapolis Bike to Work Day is May 15, 2015:

6:30AM | Bike Trains depart from various starting locations across the region
7:00AM | Big Hub Plaza/Market St. opens to commuters
Temporary parking by Pedal & Park, complimentary breakfast by Whole Foods & coffee served by Hubbard & Cravens
All day bike parking (showers & lockers incl.) is available in the Indy Bike Hub YMCA
7:55AM | Presentations by Indianapolis Mayor Ballard & other VIP’s
8:20-8:25 Blessing of the Bikes (Rabbi Aaron Spiegel & Rev. Steve Carlsen)
11:00AM to Noon | Market St. open to outdoor dining
Noon | Free bike commuter lunch and learn at the Indy Bike Hub YMCA sponsored by CIBA
4:00PM to 6:30PM | Sun King sponsored Happy Hour Fundraiser for INDYCOG @ Tomlinson Tap Room with pizza
4:30PM to 6:30PM | Bike trains depart for home (Meet @ Tomlinson Tap Room)
7:00PM | All-day parking expires at the Indy Bike Hub YMCA

Chicago is not taking part in National Bike Week.

Chicago has set up its own bike-riding promotion as “Chicago Bike Week” scheduled for June 12-15, 2015. Bike to Work Day in Chicago will be on June 19, celebrated as a Bike to Work Rally at Daley Plaza (begins at 7 o’clock that morning).

 

Bicycle Accidents and Insurance Claims

Given that bicycle safety is a concern in this country, and that more and more people are being encouraged to ride bicycles in our part of the country, it’s to be expected that we will see an increase in people being injured in accidents where an injury victim was riding a bicycle at the time. These may be school age children; however, prior years’ research has shown that it’s adults that are hurt more often in serious bicycle accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle-related accident, then you may want to investigate the possible claims you have under state law for your injuries (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.). Drivers and others are quick to point the finger at the bike rider and place blame; however, these accidents are rarely that simple and often, the bicyclist is not at fault for what has occurred.

School District Liability for Kids Getting Hurt: When Indiana Parents Sue the School

April 30th, 2015 by admin

In the past week, Indiana parents learned about a central Indiana high school (only 20 miles away from Indianapolis) where the school’s auditorium stage floor collapsed in the middle of a student performance, sending over a dozen students tumbling down into the orchestra pit. Fortunately, while several of the children had to be treated at the hospital for the injuries they sustained in the school accident, all were safely at home recuperating within 24 hours of the incident.

This isn’t the only school accident here in our neck of the woods in recent days. Around three weeks ago, a Valparaiso school bus filled with kids was hit early on a Tuesday morning in Union Township; the kids were on their way to a field trip when an ambulance ran a stop sign and slammed into their bus. Six of the kids had to be taken to the hospital for treatment; luckily, none of the students sustained serious injuries in the crash.

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Kids Hurt at School: When Parents Sue the School for Injuries to Their Child

Parents trust their children to school authorities day after day, week after week, throughout the school year — as well as after school hours for extracurricular activities like practices, sporting events, school-sponsored trips, and choral events. Most parents assume that the school district and the school administration, as well as coaches, bus drivers, teachers, aides, and others are fulfilling their duty to keep those kids safe.

It is true that under the law, the school is responsible for keeping students safe while the kids are in their custody and control. As a general rule, courts will hold the school responsible for accident damages that have resulted from the school’s negligence. How is this shown? The parents must be able to prove that their child was injured because the school failed in its duty to keep the child safe, and that failure resulted in the child being hurt and injured.

Schools will have insurance policies in place to cover the possibility of injuries on school grounds. If there was inadequate supervision of a child, for instance, then this policy may cover the child’s medical expenses and any long term care needs resulting from the accident.

Schools must act in a reasonable manner to keep the school facilities (the building, the grounds) safe for students as well as making sure that the kids are not hurt by other kids, teachers, coaches, or individuals who have gained access to the school without permission or approval. This duty toward the students is not limitless, though.

Limited Liability of the School for Injuries to a Child: Defenses Against Paying the Claim

The law puts boundaries on the amount of responsibility that a school district has for kids being hurt in an accident while at school.  Insurance defense lawyers for the school may also assert other kinds of defenses against the school district having to pay an injury claim.  These defenses include:

1.  Foreseeability.

Schools are not legally liable for actions that could not be foreseeable — school districts are only responsible for protecting kids against known dangers or risks that are reasonably foreseen to be a possible danger to them.

2.  Immunity.

Furthermore, there may be “governmental immunity” laws that the school district will assert as a defense. Public school districts may claim that they are not subject to a damages claim because of this immunity, for example. Private schools, as private entities, are not covered by governmental immunity claims.

3.  Parents’ Fault.

Additionally, parents also have a role to play in keeping kids safe. If a child needs a particular medication during the school day, for example a kind of heart medication, then the parent is responsible for making sure that the medication is available at the school during the day and that the school nurse, teacher, etc., is aware that the child needs to take the medication (as well as the dosage, etc.). Also, children are expected to be instructed by their parents on the need to abide by school rules (no running in the parking lots, for example).

Indiana High School Stage Crash: Parents Cannot Assume Kids are Safe at School

April 28th, 2015 by admin

Last week in central Indiana, a bunch of kids were performing their big finale in their school concert at Westfield High School when the stage suddenly broke apart and the performers dropped into the orchestra pit beneath the auditorium stage.   Luckily, one of the audience members was filming the performance and caught the event as between 10 and 15 kids were dancing and singing on stage when the floor collapsed beneath them.  We can all watch and see exactly what happened here.

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Parents send their kids off to school each day, assuming that the classroom and the school buildings are safe.

 

At first, national news reports (like this one from the Associated Press) were that the children were not really hurt in the stage collapse. However, later reports are that over a dozen of the high school students did sustain injuries when the flooring over the school’s orchestra pit failed and collapsed. Several had to be treated at the hospital; luckily, they were all back home within 24 hours.

Lots of questions are being asked about when inspections were made of the stage flooring for safety and building code compliance. Others are questioning what if any state laws, rules, or regulations apply to public school stages like this one in the Westfield High School auditorium.

Right now, federal and state inspectors are involved in finding out why this accident happened: even Indiana Governor Mike Pence got involved, issuing a statement from his office that every effort would be made “…to prevent this or worse from happening in the future.”

How Safe Is Your Kid’s School?

The stage collapse at a high school located 20 miles north of Indianapolis has people all over our area of Indiana and Illinois wondering how safe it is to send our children off to schools each day. It’s not just the danger of kids being hurt while playing sports that is the question now — parents have a right to be concerned about whether or not the school facilities themselves are safe.

Inspections may be assumed to be taking place in public schools by parents who see OSHA materials around their workplace, or know that both federal and state agencies monitor buildings where they work or shop. However, a big question coming out of this Westfield High accident is just who is monitoring the facilities where kids and teenagers are going each day for school?

School Duty to Keep Kids Out of Danger

It is understood by most everyone that a school (teachers, coaches, aides) and the school district have a duty to keep those students in a safe environment while the children are in their care and control. School districts have rules and regulations in place to make sure that each individual school within its jurisdiction is safe for the students.

However, recent years have tended to focus that concern for a safe school environment on things like safety during sports (concussion injuries during football, soccer, etc.) and keeping kids protected from bullies and actions by other students.

While schools and school districts have a duty to protect the children from defects and dangers in the school’s infrastructure, building and surrounding grounds, the inspection queries that popped up during the last week suggest that not much concern or action has been involved here.

Are Indiana schools or Illinois schools being negligent right now insofar as protecting kids from the danger of accidents caused by failing structural problems on the school property? It’s a good question.

And one that has already been answered for lots of kids at Westfield High.

How Dangerous Are Private Planes? General Aviation Plane Crash vs Car Accident

April 23rd, 2015 by admin

General aviation in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) includes over 220,000 aircraft that vary from balloons and amateur-built planes from kits to complex turbojets. It includes any domestic flight that is not on a commercial aircraft.

For most people, these are helicopters or small planes that seat the pilot and a passenger to a handful of people. General aviation also includes business jets, like the Cessna Citation shown in the image below.

 

 

People in the United States are dying and being seriously injured in general aviation crashes and making general aviation flight safer is one of the big goals of the FAA, which set a target in 2009 of 10% decrease in General Aviation Fatalities by 2018.  The death rate for General Aviation in this country, based upon flight hours, has not changed much however.

The number of fatalities in general aviation plane crashes has gone down in the past few years not because these aircraft are less dangerous or because pilots are flying safer, but because the economy has cut back on the amount of flight time — it’s not cheap to fly these planes, after all.

FAA Top Ten List of Reasons for a US General Aviation Plane Crash

According to the FAA, these are the top 10 reasons that small planes and general aviation craft crash and cause the deaths of their pilots and passengers:

1. Loss of Control Inflight
2. Controlled Flight Into Terrain
3. System Component Failure – Powerplant
4. Low Altitude Operations
5. Unknown or Undetermined
6. Other
7. Fuel Related
8. System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
9. Midair Collisions
10. Windshear or Thunderstorm

Flying in Small Plane: More Dangerous Than Traveling by Car?

For those choosing to fly their Piper or Cessna instead of taking a commercial flight or driving their car to their destination, it’s important that they understand one confirmed research fact: flying a small plane is not any safer than driving a car on the interstate.

Private planes are dangerous

Flying in a small plane is not the same as flying a commercial aircraft. While the safety of U.S. commercial flight has increased in the past decade, this is not true for general aviation.

In fact, there are those that argue flying in general aviation small planes are a higher risk of death than if they were to travel by car. In a Live Science comparison of National Transportation Safety Board statistics regarding small plane fatalities and federal motor vehicle accident deaths, on a traveled-per-mile analysis, the plane is a bigger risk than the car.

Much more dangerous, in fact: their study shows that it is 19 TIMES more dangerous to travel in a small plane than it is to travel by car.

For details, read their investigation, “Why Private Planes Are Nearly as Deadly as Cars.”

Injury Claims for Plane Crashes Involving Small Planes and General Aviation

Just like car crashes, there are negligence claims to be pursued in many general aviation plane crashes. Pilot error or the mistakes of a mechanic, the failure of a engine part, or incomplete information from relied upon sources for vital facts like weather conditions can all be facts making up fault and liability in a general aviation plane crash injury claim or lawsuit.

If a company plane is involved, then the business may also share legal liability for the fatalities and serious injuries resulting from the crash. Wrongful death statutes may apply here, as well, providing statutory remedies for grieving loved ones.