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Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Getting divorced? Is your ex hiding something?

There are many issues that can spur debate and controversy between divorcing spouses. Undoubtedly, some of the most contentious divorce issues revolve around the division of assets and property. This is often especially true in high-asset divorces, where couples tend to have a complex and diversified assortment of investment and retirement accounts.

If you are contemplating filing or recently filed for divorce and suspect that a soon-to-be ex-spouse is attempting to hide assets, a divorce attorney who has experience handling complex divorces can be an invaluable asset.

Self-driving vehicle partly to blame for minor crash

Pennsylvania residents who have been following the development of autonomous driving technology may have heard that on Feb. 14, a Google self-driving car became involved in an accident with a Mountain City, California, bus. The company stated that the self-driving vehicle was at least partially responsible for the accident.

According to Google, the self-driving Lexus 450 hybrid SUV was traveling in the right lane of a city street. The vehicle moved back into the center of the lane to avoid hitting obstacles in the roadway, causing a city bus that was already traveling in that lane to bump it from behind. No one suffered any injuries in the minor fender bender. The Google car was reportedly only traveling about 2 mph while the bus was traveling about 15 mph. The self-driving car sustained some damage.

National data shows increase in car accident deaths

Pennsylvania motorists may not know that there has been an increase in car accident deaths. Analysts compared car accident data from the first nine months of 2015 to car accident data from the first nine months of 2014 and found a 9.3 percent increase in traffic fatalities. The recent rise in traffic fatalities followed several years of slow but steady declines.

The traffic fatality statistics were contained in a report that was put out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report showed that there were 23,796 traffic fatalities during the first nine months of 2014 and over 26,000 traffic fatalities during the same time period in 2015. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of annual car accident deaths went down by approximately 22 percent.

OSHA reaches out to employers to promote safety training

Construction and oil and gas extraction represent two of the most dangerous industries in Pennsylvania and around the country. In an effort to educate workers about workplace hazards, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched educational campaigns in partnership with other safety organizations. In previous years, millions of workers across the nation have participated in these events.

For each industry, OSHA assigns specific dates when employers are asked to pause work activities and review safety information. During the stand down, managers and workers take time to inspect their work sites for hazards. Employees spend time on additional safety training meant to reinforce their awareness of dangers and knowledge about protective gear.

Can software be a driver?

Pennsylvania motorists may recognize the concerns that many agencies have with the idea of driverless cars being approved for use on public roads. Software glitches, hacking and other potential malfunctions may cause safety agencies to hesitate in approving new phases of production and testing, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made an important move towards facilitating further development of autonomous vehicles.

In November 2015, the Google division devoted to developing self-driving technology addressed its interest in allowing development to move forward without the need for a human behind the wheel. The NHTSA has since determined that software can be a driver. This opens the door for testing to continue without requiring that a traditional driver be present. This may be challenging for legislators in some states to accept. California, for example, is addressing its safety concerns by working to develop standards requiring licensed drivers in autonomous vehicles. Additionally, the state is seeking to require the inclusion of steering wheels in these vehicles. Companies developing their driverless technologies, however, are concerned that the ability of a human to override the actions taken by software could create greater potential for car crashes.

Family works to change the law for DUI offenders

Each year, many people in Pennsylvania are seriously injured or killed because of intoxicated drivers. The problem is a national one, occurring with sobering frequency across the country. One Pennsylvania couple is trying to change the law in the state after they lost their 25-year-old daughter in an accident involving a drunk driver who had a prior DUI convictions.

In the case of the couple's daughter, she was a passenger in a vehicle in July 2010 that was being driven by a driver who was intoxicated. The driver lost control of the car and rolled while traveling along East College Avenue in Pleasant Gap, and the young woman was killed. The male driver's blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was measured at 0.209, more than two times the legal limit of 0.08. The man had already been convicted of an earlier DUI offense just a year prior in July 2009. In that offense, his blood alcohol content measured at 0.136, also well over the legal limit.

Volvo set lofty vehicle safety goal

Car and SUV buyers in Pennsylvania who value safety features and durability often place vehicles made by Volvo at the top of their shopping lists. The pioneering Swedish manufacturer has been behind a string of safety innovations including the three-point safety belt and the rear-facing baby seat, but Volvo believes that driverless cars may be the best innovation for preventing deaths.

Many of the latest accident avoidance systems borrow technology from self-driving cars. These systems use a vehicle's traction control and anti-lock braking capabilities to safely avoid an accident with no driver input. The technology determines when emergency action is warranted by performing thousands of calculations every second using data gathered by sensors and radar that can measure speeds and distances precisely, and Volvo says that they will be soon be standard equipment in all of their cars and SUVs.

The dangers of excavation work on construction sites

Safety is of paramount importance on building sites in Pennsylvania and around the country due to the hazardous nature of the work being performed, and excavation and trenching are among the most dangerous construction activities. Construction workers digging deep trenches may be most concerned about possible cave-ins, but oxygen deprivation, toxic fume inhalation and drowning in confined spaces are also significant risks.

Health and safety experts understand that excavations are inherently unstable, and measures that should be taken before digging begins include assessing the soil that will be removed and installing appropriate protection and containment systems. Getting in and out of the trench or excavation area should be easy in emergency situations, and the air should be tested in confined area to ensure that workers will receive adequate oxygen and are not exposed to toxic fumes. Trenches should also be inspected on a regular basis once excavation work has begun.

Overexertion and musculoskeletal work injuries

Every year in Pennsylvania and around the country, many workers are injured on the job. Of the injuries that are suffered, the majority result from overexertion of the musculoskeletal system, as revealed by data from both Liberty Mutual and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the 2016 Workplace Safety Index report released by Liberty Mutual, overexertion injuries were the primary cause of disabling workplace injuries in 2013. The company reviewed data from that year regarding the amount of money paid out for injury claims, finding that overexertion injuries made up almost 25 percent of the cost burden.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 32 percent of the work-related injuries during 2014 were musculoskeletal.

Mining accident death rate falls to lowest level recorded

Pennsylvania residents may recall media reports about a coal dust explosion in West Virginia that claimed the lives of 29 mineworkers in 2010. Following the tragedy, the Mine Safety and Health Administration began to conduct what are referred to as special impact inspections that are designed to hold mining operations that flout safety regulations accountable. The safety agency say that an increase in the number of this type of inspection was largely responsible for a dramatic reduction in the number of mineworkers who lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2015.

Some industry experts say that the falling fatality rate was more likely a reflection of falling natural gas and oil prices that has significantly reduced demand for coal, but the MSHA may point to the Sago mine disaster as evidence of the need for special impact inspections. The West Virginia coal mining facility where 12 miners were killed after being trapped underground had been cited for violating safety regulations an astonishing 270 times prior to the 2006 shaft collapse.

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Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford has been a member of the local Penn Suburban Chamber of Commerce (previously known as North Penn Suburban Chamber of Commerce) for more than 25 years.

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