Truck Debris

Industry Update: Driver Beware

Driver Beware: Dangerous debris in the road or from an unsecured load falling off other vehicles has been blamed for more than 200,000 crashes on U.S. roads between 2011 and 2014. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths from those incidents during that time. It has been reported that a majority of these crashes are preventable, if drivers would just take the necessary precautions to secure their load or maintain their vehicle properly.

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How to Minimize Civil Liability; Recommendations for Sellers and Servers of Alcoholic Beverages

Donald J. Simonini, Consultant ::::

Business owners that hold licenses to sell or serve alcoholic beverages (licensees) must follow regulations set forth by the host state as part of the terms of their licenses. Failure to remain in compliance with regulations can result in fines, suspension of licensing privileges, forced divestiture, or revocation of the license. Additionally, licensees may face civil liability under their Dram Shop coverage. Two typical events that trigger this liability are serving a patron an alcoholic beverage when the patron was intoxicated, and serving a patron who is not of the legal age to purchase alcohol.

Culpability and liability are determined by the laws of the host state, and there are some complexities in the differences of these statutes from state to state. However, there are actions that a licensee in any state can take to minimize their civil liability. The goal of this article is to describe three methods of mitigating the culpability, and companion liability that licensees face in operating their businesses.

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Water Damage Mystery

Col. Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety / OSHA Consultant ::::

Case Description/Summary: A recently constructed home began showing signs of water infiltration and damage. The plaintiff hired an architect to inspect the home in order to identify the cause(s) after the builder failed to take adequate measures to fix the problem. The architect identified problems with the roofing and stucco cladding.

Expert Analysis: An engineer was engaged on behalf of the carpenter subcontractor to defend against allegations made that inadequate carpenter workmanship contributed to and/or caused the stucco to leak.

The plaintiff’s expert argued that the wood stud framing and exterior oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing were installed defectively and that this allowed the stucco to crack and leak during rain events.

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Drill Bit

Making Machines Safe

Ronald J. Panunto, P.E., Electrical Engineering Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: Plaintiff was injured when his core-boring machine struck a rebar and jammed. When the drill bit jammed, the drill carriage broke free, began to turn and slammed into his body. An expert was retained in order to determine if a safety system could be designed whereby the drill motor would stop if the drill bit jammed.

Expert Analysis: An internet search was conducted in order to find a vendor who manufactured speed switches that readily adopted to cylindrical shafts. This was needed in order to sense zero speed on the drill shaft. Upon arrival of the speed switch, a bracket was built to hold the speed sensor attached to the drill carriage. The magnetic split ring speed device was then attached to the drill shaft.

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Table Saw

The Inquisitive Student and the Injury

Edward Dragan, ED.D., Standard of Care Consultant ::::

Whenever children are around equipment of any kind – a slide on a playground, a table saw in shop class, folding tables in a cafeteria, or a pair of scissors in art class – teachers, camp counselors, program administrators, as well as custodians and bus drivers, have a duty to ensure that equipment is always in top condition, maintained regularly, or taken out of service when in need of repair. A teacher’s job description may include a requirement to inspect and maintain equipment in the classroom on a regular basis. This requirement becomes a professional standard of care in that school – and one that can be referred to in litigation.

In a case involving a student and table saw, the woodshop teacher knew that a bolt was missing from the saw blade guard. Rather than referring to the manufacturer’s requirements for a replacement, he rooted through a drawer in the shop, found a bolt he assumed would hold the guard to the saw table, and replaced it. Later, when a student was using the saw, the bolt came loose, the guard jammed, and the student lost three fingers. After thousands of dollars’ worth of surgery, the student filed a law suit against the school and the teacher.

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Off-Tracking of Right Turning Tractor-Trailer

Watch Where You Stand

Steven M. Schorr, P.E., President of DJS Associates ::::

A tractor-trailer operator was executing a right-hand turn at a four-way intersection in a major city. As he was completing his turn and heading straight down the roadway onto which he turned, he was flagged down by a person who advised him that his truck contacted a pedestrian.

The physical evidence indicated that indeed the right side of his trailer did contact the pedestrian and knocked him down whereupon the pedestrian was run over by the right rear trailer tires of the right-turning tractor-trailer.

These dynamics are consistent with the properties of a right (or left) turning tractor-trailer wherein the tractor pulls the trailer. The trailer itself has no steering therefore as a result, in a right-hand turn, the right rear tires of the trailer will always track to the inside of the path of the right front tires of the tractor. This concept is referred to as “off-tracking”. The longer the trailer, the further to the inside (of the front tractor tires) the rear trailer tires will “off-track”.

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