Archive for July, 2013

Jul 2013

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Increasing Weight & Size Limits

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyLawmakers in Congress are eager to expand the size of commercial trucks, with proposals suggesting that the size limits increase from 80,000 pounds on five axles to 97,000 pounds on six axles. Congress has also asked the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a study on the impact of proposed changes to size and weight limits on commercial vehicles.

Our Fall River accident lawyers know that larger trucks may be more dangerous to operate and may be more likely to be involved in serious accidents. Recently, Landline Mag reported that the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) has also spoken out against increases in the size of trucks, cautioning about potential dangers associated with larger vehicles as well as about the potential problems these trucks could experience on the aging infrastructure throughout the United States.

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Weight-Limited Increases

OOIDA  is a professional organization that has as many as 150,000 members. OOIDA has a long history of fighting against proposed increases in truck size and weight limits. In fact, OOIDA along with three of its members recently submitted statements to the Federal Highway Administration expressing concerns.

OOIDA cautions that an increase in truck size would have significant costs, which would be passed on to small-business truckers. OOIDA also expressed concern that that roads and bridges in the United States are not built for such massive and oversize trucks. In fact, much of the infrastructure in the United States was built even before 53-foot trailers became the norm. If the size of trucks is increased even further, then trucks could be forced to change their routes or travel on roads that they are not able to safely traverse.

In addition to the concerns about cost and safe passage on the roadways, OOIDA has also warned that there could be serious highway safety issues associated with making trucks even bigger. As a statement from three seasoned drivers with more than 70 years of experience indicated, “Any seasoned driver will tell you that extra weight means extra responsibility and a reduced margin for errors.”

The statement was made in response to the FHWA’s request for public comments that is part of a widespread study related to the impact of changes to trucking laws. The FHWA was instructed by Congress to conduct the study when Congress passed a law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.  The survey is expected to be completed and delivered to congress by 2014.

The Safety Risks of Large Trucks

Large trucks already present certain safety risks as a result of their size. Their large size and heavy weight results in a long stopping distance because the vehicles have so much momentum. Furthermore, the fact that trucks significantly outweigh passenger vehicles creates a situation where drivers of passenger cars are often seriously hurt or killed when a truck crash happens. Finally, the size of the trucks results in the vehicles having large blind spots.

Making trucks bigger will only exacerbate these issues. It is very important that FHWA take into account the safety risks and the concerns of commercial truckers when advising Congress on whether the size of trucks should be increased.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough, and Fall River, Mass.

Jul 2013

Fall River Electrical Fire Destroys Rentals & Raises Questions of Liability for Apartment Injuries

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyOver the July Fourth weekend, tenants in eight different apartments on Columbia Street in Fall River were displaced from their homes by a massive fire. The fire occurred in a building above Sagres Restaurant where at least 13 tenants were living in rental units.

As Wicked Local reports, the fire is believed to have been caused by electrical problems.  Investigators are still looking into the origins and the investigation will hopefully reveal the specific cause of the massive blaze.

Our Fall River injury lawyers know that electrical fires often occur as a result of faulty wiring and improperly maintained electrical systems. If such a problem did occur in this situation, the tenants injured in the fire could have a legal liability claim against the landlord or against whomever was responsible for maintaining the building safely.

Injuries in Apartment Units 

The fire began around 11:40 p.m. on Saturday evening. It is believed that the fire originated in the area between the ceiling of the second floor apartment and the ceiling of the third floor apartment, directly in the core of the building. The fire then spread throughout the walls and floors of the building before breaking out in a second-floor living room.

An estimated eight apartments were affected by the fire, with around 13 tenants displaced from their homes. At least four tenants were rescued by firefighters from their homes on the east side of the building and were transported to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Firefighters called to the scene were able to fight the blaze without suffering injury, although there were some firefighters who were still chasing hot spots as late as 3:00 AM. Significant water damage occurred to the building and the damage was widespread due to the fact that the fire spread throughout.

It’s fortunate that no one was killed in the fire. Still, burn injuries are often very serious and costly to treat and can leave injured victims with lasting scars. Smoke inhalation can also affect the lungs when a fire occurs.

When serious injuries are sustained in an apartment fire, it is important to determine who was responsible for the blaze.

Individual tenants are responsible for securing the safety of items inside of their own apartments, such as toaster ovens and countertop appliances they might bring into the unit. However, landlords are responsible for the structure as a whole including fixed appliances and electrical wiring.

Landlords have a legal obligation to make sure that apartment buildings are safe for tenants living in them and if a landlord fails in his obligations to those living in the apartment, the landlord can be held legally responsible for any and all injuries and damages suffered as a result of his negligence.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.