Our motorcycle accident attorneys wish to remind all drivers to be aware of motorcyclists. Be mindful that the warm weather means more motorcycle riders will be taking trips to the shore, countryside, or mountains. Due to the increase in motorcyclists on the road, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Consequently, it is a great time for all drivers to remind themselves to be extra safe while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle deaths occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other motor vehicles. Motorcycle accidents most often occur because other vehicle drivers are not paying 100 percent attention to driving. They are not looking at everything that is going on around them and they too often take their eyes off the road ahead for a second or more.

Continue Reading May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Roar to the Shore is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. This event covers every inch of wildwood with vendors, music, bikes, and games. Visit the Stark & Stark tent and join The Riders’ Lawyers as they answer any questions you may have about the differences between an automobile policy and a motorcycle policy as well as carrying proper and adequate insurance coverage. Bring your declarations page for a FREE on-site evaluation.

The team will also be presenting free informational seminars about insurance on both Friday and Saturday at 1:00pm and 3:00 pm at the Stark & Stark tent. Stop by the tent at the following times for a chance to win a raffle for a Battery Charger/Engine Starter

  • Thursday – 1pm and 3pm
  • Friday – 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm
  • Saturday – 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm
  • Sunday – 12pm and 2pm

Entrants may only win once during the weekend and must be present at the booth during the drawing in order to win.

Visit the website for more details about this event.

 

Join Stark & Stark Motorcycle Attorneys Chris PyneJoel Rosenberg, Deborah Dunn and Domenic Sanginiti, along with a representative from ProRider®, as they answer questions you may have about the differences between an automobile policy and a motorcycle policy as well as carrying proper and adequate insurance coverage. ProRider® will talk about how to apply tried and true riding techniques that are guaranteed to improve your riding ability and riding confidence. Click here for more information.

Visit Stark & Stark and the ProRider representative for the free presentation. The dates and times for the sessions are below.

Friday, September 11, 2015

1:00 PM • 3:00 PM

Saturday, September 12, 2015
11:00 AM • 1:00 PM • 2:00 PM

Nighttime riding is so much more dangerous than daylight trips due to the obvious difficulty of being seen by drivers of other vehicles. Add in factors such as glare from headlights, wet roads, inexperienced drivers, distracted drivers, drivers tired after a long day at work and congested roadways and the danger multiplies. If you ride after dark, you know you should wear reflective clothing, helmets and equipment. Unfortunately, most of us prefer not to do this.

Just recently, I came across a reflective spray product called Albedo100. While I have not yet tried it, it seems like a great product that I thought was worth sharing. Albedo100 is a series of four different sprays for different uses. One spray is said to be a “permanent light-reflective spray, suitable for applying to metal, wood, concrete and plastic.” A second spray is colorless and invisible. It reflects light and is suitable for applying to clothing. It is non-permanent and disappears when washed. You can spray it on your gear and it’s invisible by daylight but reflective at night. A third spray has a pale gray color and is light reflective and used on sneakers or such. It also disappears when washed. The fourth product is a “semi-transparent light reflective spray for applying to fur.” It may be invisible on some animals and also disappears when washed. Volvo automobiles has a short video of a product that they call “Lifepaint”. It is a safety ad filmed in London, England and focuses on bicyclists riding on very busy roads at night. The ad is selling safety and uses the Albedo100 product to do so.

Many of my clients were innocently riding, complying with all laws and wearing proper approved safety gear, but have been struck by careless drivers who didn’t see them. Recently, a client of mine was riding his bike to the store and proceeded through a green light when another driver turned left at the intersection striking him on his leg. His leg was shattered, and while it is is healing now, it will permanently be one inch shorter than his other leg. My client was fully compliant with the law but the other driver, for unknown reasons, didn’t see him. This is a perfect example of why riders need to go above and beyond to make themselves visible.

I am not sure these products are available in the US at this time. I checked Amazon and the product is listed but is currently “unavailable.” It does seem to be something we all should look into. I also have not found information on the safety of these products and recommend you research before using, but, anything that saves a life, which could be your own, is worth investigating.

As most riders know, wearing a helmet is mandatory in New Jersey. Not so in Pennsylvania where anyone 21 years of age or older and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years OR has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation can ride without one. Beyond the arguments for or against mandatory helmet laws is the reality of the dangers associated with riding without one.  A few years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on the Pennsylvania law that permits riders to forgo a helmet and State Representative Dan Frankel’s effort to reinstate a mandatory helmet law.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, in New Jersey for the year 2007, there were 85 motorcycle related fatalities of which 82 % were wearing helmets. The National Highway Safety Institute estimated that 42 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets and that 6 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets. In 2008, 82 fatalities with 87% wearing helmets and NHTSA estimates another 42 lives saved because of helmets and 4 fatalities would have been prevented with 100% use of helmets.
In Pennsylvania in 2007 there were 225 motorcycle related fatalities. 46 % were wearing helmets and another 61 people’s lives were saved by wearing helmets. In 2008, 239 fatalities with 49% wearing helmets and another 70 lives saved because of helmets. The NHTSA also estimated that in 2007 45 lives would have been saved and in 2008 45 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets.

Across the US there were over 5000 fatalities in both 2007 and 2008 from motorcycle accidents with only 58% wearing helmets.  NHTSA estimated that in those two years there were 3615 lives saved by the use of a helmet and another 1627 lives would have been saved if they were wearing helmets. More recently, in 2012, NHTSA  estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists and that an additional 781 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. In states without universal helmet laws, 62% of the motorcyclists  killed in 2012 were not wearing helmets compared to 9% in the states with universal helmet laws. Think about that for a minute.

In addition, NHTSA sponsored a study in 1996 to assess the effect of wearing a helmet upon the ability of motorcycle riders to: (1) visually detect the presence of vehicles in adjacent lanes before changing lanes and (2) to detect traffic sounds when operating at normal speed.  The results indicate that wearing helmets does not restrict the ability to hear auditory signals or the likelihood of seeing a vehicle in an adjacent lane prior to changing lanes.

I have no reason to doubt these figures.  A few years ago while traveling to Court in rush hour traffic on I 95 towards Philadelphia I saw a rider go flying over his handle bars onto the roadway. It was shocking to say the least.  I thought he was unconscious. I pulled over the side of the road and watched as he got up. Another motorist an I assisted the rider to the side of the road. He had a full face helmet and a motorcycle leather jacket and blue jeans. He was disoriented and almost lost consciousness a few times.  His knees were scraped through his jeans and bleeding. His jacket showed the signs of a serious incident. His helmet showed damage that would have caused a serious injury to a rider without one. Despite his protective gear, I was sure that he had suffered serious injuries.  I am happy to report that he called me the next day to tell me that but for his bruised/scraped knees, he was fine. It is clear to me that his helmet and jacket had adequately protected him from more serious harm.  As a rider I routinely see other riders in Pennsylvania riding without helmets. In both states it is common to see riders in shorts, sneakers and T shirts. I rode for many years in jeans and a T shirt but always with a helmet. It is great to ride on a warm summer day without the bulk of protective clothing. It’s also dangerous.  At many of the rally’s I attend I am often engaged by visitors about their right to ride without a helmet. It’s a debate worth having. What is often overlooked are the true consequences of that action. As indicated above, helmets save lives. That’s indisputable.

What is missing from those statistics are the consequences of sustaining an injury as a result of not wearing a helmet and surviving.  NHTSA estimates on a national level we would have saved 2.7 billion dollars in 2007 and 2.9 billion dollars in 2008 if there was 100% helmet use. This of course fails to consider the impact to the rider and their families. Many head injuries are quite serious and have long term consequences, job loss, medical bills and other financial strains. Many of the more serious head injuries lead to long term disability and regular care. We see this regularly when representing injured riders.  As many of us in the motorcycle community know, motorcycle insurance provides in most cases no medical benefit and in others, very little coverage. Riders without insurance who suffer serious head injuries become dependent on Federal programs such as SSI and Medicaid. Even people with insurance don’t have enough coverage for a lifetime of care.

I urge anyone reading this to reconsider riding without a helmet. I’m sure the families of those who lost loved ones or who are now watching someone suffer because they were not wearing a helmet would join in my request. Every motorcycle rider understands that there is some danger associate with riding but that doesn’t mean that you should not be prudent and take precautions to minimize your risk.

Another brutal winter has resulted in minefields of potholes on our roadways. As the weather warms and we unplug our battery tenders to take to the highways, there are serious dangers lurking for the unwary. Riders always ride with a level of concentration greater than those operating cars – and we must. One of the challenges with potholes is that they can be difficult to spot until it’s too late. Obviously the greatest danger is at night when they are the most difficult to see. Even when using the utmost caution during the daytime, sunlight, shading and traffic can obscure the danger.

Pothole accidents can and do cause serious injury. What makes those accidents even worse is the difficulty riders have in getting fairly compensated for their property damage and bodily injury. As motorcycle attorneys, we have in the past and currently have these types of cases in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Both states have Tort Claim immunities that effect a riders right of recovery against the State to be compensated. One of the most urgent issues involved in these cases is proper notice to the state after an accident known as a Tort Claim Notice. If these notices are not timely filed, a rider can lose all rights to make a claim. In addition, early investigation to document the condition of the roadway that caused the accident is vitally important in protecting the rights of an injured rider. If you or someone you know was injured in an accident caused by a defective roadway, don’t hesitate to call us at 855-BIKELAW for a free consultation.

A Texas Jury found that a highway guardrail manufacturer, Trinity Industries, deliberately withheld information and defrauded the government and awarded damages in the amount of $175 million dollars, which, under federal law, will triple to $525 million dollars. The dispute centered around a design change Trinity made in 2005. During the discovery phase of the litigation, an internal document was uncovered which showed that a Trinity official estimated that making a modification to the guardrail which reduced a piece of metal from 5 inches to 4 inches would save the company $2 per guardrail. However, experts found that this modification made the guardrails more dangerous to motorists. The guardrail system works by collapsing when hit head-on, absorbing the impact of a vehicle and guiding the railing out of its path. The rail head or end terminal, which is often marked with yellow and black stripes, is supposed to slide along the guardrail itself, pushing it to the side. This modification was to the end terminal, and when struck from the front end, rather than absorb the car’s impact, it would spear straight through the car and its occupants. Even though Trinity was supposed to advise the government that this modification was made, these changes were not disclosed for 7 years. At least 14 other lawsuits blame the guardrails for five deaths and more injuries. Some states have gone so far as to ban further purchase of these guardrails, citing safety concerns.

Unfortunately, this case is an example of the dangers of when companies place profits over safety. If you, or someone you know, has suffered injuries from a defective product, or would simply like more information about product liability, please contact us. Stark & Stark has many experienced attorneys who specialize in products liability matters.

Guardrails are a common occurrence.  They are a vital safety component on thousands of highways and roadways across the country.  They are designed to protect vehicles from leaving the road as well as to lessen the severity of a crash.  Many motorists do not even take notice of them.  Guardrail energy absorbing end terminals are designed to lessen the severity of a crash, by allowing the striking vehicle to ride down the crash forces safely, without deflecting the vehicle back onto the roadway.  Since the 1960s, guardrail end designs have evolved from blunt-end terminals, which often acted like spears, penetrating the vehicle compartment, to twist turn-down designs that served as a ramp, causing vehicle rollovers.  Today, the W-Beam guardrail with an energy absorbing end is the most commonly used energy absorption system.  In this design, the end terminal rails deformed away from the striking vehicle, either by flattening, cutting, or kinking the rail.

But what if a guardrail doesn’t provide the protections it is supposed to offer and instead is dangerous?  This exact issue has cropped up in the news recently.

Trinity Industries, a major supplier nationwide of guardrails, was accused of selling systems that can malfunction during crashes and slice through cars.  A jury in Texas recently found that Trinity Industries defrauded the federal government.  The case was brought under the False Claims Act by a competitor who discovered that Trinity Industries made changes in 2005 to its rail head (the flat piece of steel at the front of the system) without telling the Federal Highway Administration, as is required.  A major issue in the dispute concerned the allegation that the design change that Trinity made in 2005 to its ET-Plus rail head caused the guardrail system to fail.  Those changes were not disclosed to the FHWA for seven years, even though the company was required to immediately report those changes.

The company sold the guardrails to state governments that, in turn, received federal reimbursement.  The Texas jury awarded $175 million that will, under federal law, be tripled to $525 million.  In response, Trinity Industries has suggested that it will appeal.

The ET-Plus guardrail system works by collapsing when hit head-on, absorbing the impact of a vehicle and guiding the railing out of its path.  The rail head or end terminal, which is often marked with yellow and black stripes, is supposed to slide along the guardrail itself, pushing it to the side.  But some state officials maintain that the redesigned Trinity produce narrowed the channel behind the head, which can cause it to jam instead of sliding along the rail.  When that happens, the rail can pierce an oncoming vehicle like a harpoon, and cause injuries or deaths to occupants.  A news article states that according to internal company documents, the change was expected to save about $2 on every rail head.

Delaware recently joined 29 other states in banning the installation of the end treatment (also known as a “guardrail head”) of Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus System.

On October 24, Trinity Highway Products, LLC announced that it will stop the shipment of the ET-Plus System until additional crash testing can be completed.  The company has stated it will continue working with the Federal Highway Administration related to further treating and will stop shipment of the product until requested testing is completed.

At least 14 other lawsuits blame the guardrails for five deaths and more injuries, including lost limbs.   A September 18, 2014 study by the Safety Institute questioned the safety of guardrail end terminals, including the ET-Plus.

If you are someone you know has been injured as a result of the ET-Plus guardrail, please let me know right away.  At Stark & Stark, we represent people every day who have been injured in truck accidents and car accidents.  We know what it takes to make sure your rights are protected, regardless of whether the defendant who caused the crash is a small local company or a large national corporation.  I only represent injured people.  I do not defend or represent insurance companies or defendants in personal injury cases.  So if you have been hurt in an accident due to a faulty guardrail call me right away to discuss your situation.  We’re here to help.

Personal injury attorneys are advocates for people who have been injured in an accident, whether it is a slip and fall, trip and fall, work related, car, motorcycle or recreational accident.  Our job is to represent the rights of the injured party, not the insurance company.  So, why do personal injury attorneys have such a bad reputation in our society and why are we so often seen as greedy ambulance chasers?  Whether the reason for the negative image is television, commercials or the few bad apples out there, the stereotypes are damaging to our legal system and society. The legal system is what people should turn to in their time of need. It is their last avenue for appeal and redress when private parties and the government will not act responsible for their negligent acts. And truth be told‚ the goal of the vast majority of personal injury lawyers out there is to help people in their time of need.

Injury attorneys not only help people‚ but the most important consequence of their work is a safer environment for all of us, our children, mothers, fathers and friends. Corporations and people have to be concerned about what can happen to them if they do not behave in a reasonable manner.  Safety laws and regulations that are currently in place are largely the result of injury attorneys; enacted in response to negligent behavior‚ and these laws provide a standard which intends to keep the public healthy and safe.

There may be a time in your life when you are faced with a situation that will require you to hire a personal injury attorney. You should be represented and protected and not made to feel like just another file in the filing cabinet. You are an individual with your own worries and hopes about your injury claim and we are here to help you.

This is especially true with us at Stark & Stark. We treat all of our clients with the utmost care and we do everything we can to ensure that your rights are represented. If you or your family are ever injured in an accident‚ please contact us  for a free consultation.

 

Fall is here. The leaves are just starting to change and we had our first rainy day in a long time. The days are still warm and inviting to riders to get out and enjoy a nice ride, but with autumn comes new hazards to motorcyclists. Obviously, wet leaves, slippery roads and objects or potholes hidden by fallen leaves are a danger to us. But, something we don’t necessarily consider is the change in lighting conditions. As the days get shorter riders should be aware that low light presents an additional hazard. Not only are bikers harder to see but we will have a more difficult time seeing potential hazards in or on the road ahead. For those of us who love taking a ride after work to wind down please be particularly mindful of this since we probably do not realize how dim the lighting actually is or how quickly it gets dimmer.

The best option is to ride more slowly than you would in bright daylight. This will give you more time to see and identify potential hazards and will give other drivers a greater opportunity to see and identify you. You also will give yourself more time to react should something happen.   Remind yourself before you ride of the change in daylight conditions and adjust your driving accordingly. If you are unfamiliar with the road ahead, or if you know there are curves or hills coming up, reduce your speed so you can clearly identify any hazards common in autumn and low light conditions and give yourself plenty of time to avoid them.

You might also consider wearing more visible clothing and helmets. I understand that white helmets are much more visible than black and a lime green or orange reflective jacket will make you much more apparent to other drivers.

Finally, remember that the sun rises later and sets earlier than it has the last few months. As the sun gets lower in the sky all drivers have problems with sun glare. Be particularly alert for this in the mornings and evenings as you and the vehicles around you may suddenly round a curve and find yourself looking directly into the sun. Drivers react differently to this sudden blinding glare and you want to be sure to give yourself extra room to maneuver should someone hit their brakes or unexpectedly swerve out of their lane of travel due to the blinding sun.

A great reason to live in this area is the change of seasons, but with each new season comes new hazards to contend with. Please add some of these thoughts to your pre-ride mental checklist and be safe.  If you have have any questions, please contact us at Stark & Stark.