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Charleston WV Personal Injury Law Blog

Lawmakers, regulators grapple to improve trucking safety, P.2

In our last post, we spoke about a recently proposed bill that seeks to address some of the issues believed to be contributing to truck accidents across the nation. That bill would address issues of concern not only to truck drivers, but also to truck safety advocates. As we mentioned, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently added its own two cents to the truck safety dialogue by proposing changes to the way crash risk is measured by a program known as Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA).

Compliance, Safety, Accountability is a program overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which has the goal of collecting safety performance and equipment maintenance data and making that data publicly available. The idea is that public reporting of safety performance will help reduce the incidence of trucking accidents

Lawmakers, regulators grapple to improve trucking safety, P.1

Those who have been paying attention to trucking safety issues in recent months know that there is a lot of talk about making changes to federal truck safety regulations and passing measures addressing the causes of truck accidents. Making effective changes in Congress and at the regulatory level would not be that difficult to do if everybody could agree on exactly what changes need to be made.

The problem, of course, is that the trucking industry and safety advocates cannot agree on many issues,, and lawmakers are torn as well. While the industry is concerned about issues like efficiency, flexibility, and independence, safety advocates often want to impose restrictions and requirements to reign in safety risks. A bill proposed in the U.S. Senate earlier this month by Senator Cory Booker highlights some of these concerns from both angles. 

Safety regulation enforcement, workers’ compensation go hand in hand

Not all industries are created equal in terms of the risks workers face on the job. When it comes to the gas and oil industry, these risks are significant. With the increase in the use of hydraulic fracturing, the problem has grown both in frequency and severity.

Governor Tomblin, in an effort to address the problem, issued an executive order earlier this month establishing a commission that will have the task of reviewing and evaluating federal and state laws regulating workplace safety within the oil and gas industry here in West Virginia. The overall aim of the commission will be to ensure that workers are as safe as possible within the framework of the industry. 

Distracted driving ad a needed reminder of the risks of driving with electronics

Given that so many Americans nowadays own smartphones and a great many fail to exercise caution while driving, distracted driving is a major challenge for highway safety advocates. Many states, of course, have laws curbing the use of electronic devices while driving, but these laws are often difficult to enforce. Given the situation, public education is an important way to address the problem.

AT&T, in an effort to help remind motorists to drive safely, is circulating an advertisement depicting a crash resulting from distracted driving, the message being, “It Can Wait.” That is indeed a message that many Americans need to hear. This is especially the case for young drivers, who are particularly prone to distracted driving. 

Have you suffered employer discrimination for seeking workers’ compensation?

One of the issues we’ve spoken about on this blog before is the issue of retaliation in the context of workplace injury. When a worker is injured, he or she has the right to seek out benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. Doing so is not a privilege or something nice an employer does for its workers, but is a legal requirement for employers. For employees, it is a matter of entitlement. That is why it is illegal for employers to subject a worker to adverse treatment for seeking to exercise his or her rights under workers’ compensation law.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation retaliation cases occur all the time, here in West Virginia and elsewhere across the country. A recent case, for instance, was filed in Wyoming County last month in connection with an employment termination from 2014. In that case, which we previously wrote about, a coal miner apparently sought medical care for a workplace injury, and was suspended and ultimately terminated when he refused to sign disciplinary write-ups.

Brain injury and personal injury litigation: work with experienced advocate

Car accidents can result in some catastrophic injuries, ranging from broken bones to paralysis to head injuries. The latter can be particularly serious, leading to long-term brain damage. In recent years, there has been increased public awareness around the issue of traumatic brain injury and concussions, perhaps because of litigation among professional athletes.

When a serious head injury occurs as a result of a car accident, the accident victim and his or her family deserve to be properly compensated for the resulting costs and losses. Damages in these cases can include not only the costs of medical care and lost wages, but also non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages may available, depending on the circumstances of the accident. 

Debate over double trailers involves weighing efficiency against safety, P.2

In our last post, we began discussing the current debate surrounding the use of double trailers in the trucking industry. The issue has come up largely because of the efforts of a coalition of shipping companies, including UPS and FedEx, which has urged lawmakers to allow for longer trailers to help increase efficiency in hauling goods.

The problem, argues the industry, is that companies often max out their length limits well before they hit their weight limit, making their hauling less efficient. Increasing the length of double trailers would help address the situation. Under a current transportation spending bill, double trailers could be up to 33 feet in length rather than 28 feet. That measure has the support of Republicans, but Democrats and safety advocates have expressed concern. 

Debate over double trailers involves weighing efficiency against safety, P.1

Safety regulations applying to the trucking industry are important from the standpoint of highway safety. Because large trucks present significant risks in the event of accidents, it is imperative that truckers and their employers abide by the rules so as to minimize risks. One of the challenges, of course, is that policy-makers do not always agree on the best way to regulate the industry.

This can be seen in the debate surrounding hours-of-service rules, particularly with respect to the 34-hour restart rule which, prior to its suspension, required that truckers take their rest breaks during specific hours of the night. That debate has still not been resolved. A more recent debate has been going on regarding the use of double-trailer trucks. 

Employment or independent contractor? The answer impacts workers’ compensation entitlement, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the issue of worker status for purposes of workers’ compensation insurance. As we noted, state law does not require workers’ compensation coverage for independent contractors, and so the issue of worker status can come up in cases where workers’ compensation benefits are sought.

In proving a workers’ status as an independent contractor, there are various criteria that must be met. The first is that the worker must present himself or herself as being in businesses for himself or herself. The worker must also have control over his or her work schedule and the means and manner of performance of the work. In other words, the worker must not be under ongoing supervision. 

Employment or independent contractor? The answer impacts workers’ compensation entitlement

A lawsuit recently filed by an injured worker provides a good springboard to a discussion about employment status as it relates to workers’ compensation benefits. The case involves a worker who alleges that he was not properly trained according to guidelines and requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which left him vulnerable to injury due to a fall. And fall he did, after a water line was improperly pressurized and he was consequently knocked off a ladder. That fall caused him to fracture is left elbow, which required surgery and medical treatment.

Sources didn’t say whether the man was an employee or independent contractor, though this would make a difference as to whether or not he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for the fall. Employees, of course, are limited to obtaining compensation through the workers’ compensation, unless it can be shown that the employer acted with deliberate intent in causing the injury. Such cases are rare, as we’ve previously discussed. 

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Office Locations in Charleston, Logan and Summersville, West Virginia

Office Locations in Charleston, Logan & Summersville, West Virginia

213 Hale Street | Charleston, WV 25301 | Local: 304-932-4639 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us| Map & Directions

116 Stratton Street | Logan, WV 25601 | Local: 304-932-4639 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us | Map & Directions

704 Professional Park Drive | Summersville, WV 26651 | Local: 304-461-4733 | Toll Free: 1-800-889-5851 | E-Mail Us | Map & Directions

Fax Number for All Offices: 304-345-0375