Seven Ton Postal Truck Crushes Cyclist

This gruesome case demonstrates that bicycles and large trucks do not mix.

“This is a horrific case. A seven-ton U.S. Postal Service truck crushed a woman on a bicycle and then left the scene of the accident,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P. “As the facts unfolded, it turned out the man driving the truck hadno idea he had hit anyone.”

The victim in this case was a former State Supreme Court special referee, and she was out biking with her husband one day in Manhattan, when she fell under the right rear tire of the postal vehicle. She was hit as she pedaled through a small gap between a moving truck and the parked postal truck. The driver, a 64-year-old man, indicated to police his vehicle bumped and rocked all the time, due to the nature of the streets in the city. He had not been aware of anything unusual that day and finished his run, returning to headquarters later, where he learned there had been an accident.

He did not connect the dots for some time. “However, roughly two hours later, in the middle of another postal run, the trucker began to have a sinking feeling he might has been the man who hit the cyclist. When he asked his supervisor for more details of the accident, he advised him he thought it was his truck that hit her,” Schuelke explained.

This case made it to trial and the prosecution wanted to know why the worker had waited two hours or more to talk to his supervisor. They did not accept his explanation that he did not feel anything out of the ordinary that day, when running over a human on a bike would certainly engender more than just a mere bump. Facing up to seven years in jail, if convicted, the man stuck to his story, and the jury believed him.

Leaving the scene of an accident is more common than people think. Some leave as a result of being under the influence of something. Some leave because they are scared and have no driver’s license or a suspended license, and some leave because they are not aware anything happened. Far too often death comes to cyclists on Americas streets. “It’s brutal for the families of those killed in this manner. Many wish to file wrongful death lawsuits, to ensure something like the loss of their loved one does not happen to anyone else,” Schuelke added.

 

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Assault in Nursing Home Results in Wrongful Death

Nursing home abuse may escalate into a wrongful death scenario. This case did.

“It’s difficult to read and hear about senior citizens being mistreated so badly that they die as a result of someone’s abuse. In this case, an 85-year-old woman was viciously throttled, then thrown on the ground. She was further neglected by assisted-living home staff,” recounted Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P. “The woman died in a hospital a few days later.”

The facts of this case are disturbing because they paint a picture of an environment no one would want to find themselves in. The woman had chosen to live in the retirement community where she felt she would be secure and safe. Instead, she was stalked by a male Alzheimer’s patient, a man who has a record of assaulting others in the same facility. She was advised to avoid him. She did. He did not avoid her however, and one day he nabbed her in a corridor, brutally choked her and tossed her to the floor.

“Evidently, staff witnessed this event, but they did not call for medical help. She was escorted back to her room, where it was later noticed the left side of her face was drooping and the left side of her body was unresponsive. The woman was rushed to hospital at 3:00 a.m. several days later,” said Schuelke. Medical negligence? “The court may well regard this incident as being grossly negligent, as the staff did not provide the woman with immediate medical attention.”

The lawsuit alleges the facility was negligent in carrying out its duties to protect and care for the residents, and asks the court for damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and humiliation. “If you see medical negligence, or suspect it, don’t wait to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer. Someone needs to be held responsible for their negligent actions, particularly if they seriously injure, or kill someone,” Schuelke stated.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Roadside Safety Check Prevents Serious 18-Wheeler Accident

Case proves an ounce of prevention can prevent a serious accident.

“If the police had not been out checking tractor trailers for various infractions of the law, the rig in this story could have seriously injured or killed someone. There are times when an ounce of prevention may avert a disaster. It did in this instance,” said Brooks Schuelke, a personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P in Austin, Texas.

The big rig was pulled over into a traffic safety check point. The inspecting officers discovered 25 safety violations, including defective brakes, a shredded tire, four bald tires and a broken trailer cross member. Eight of the violations were serious enough to pull the truck off the road.

“With four bald tires, a shredded tire and defective brakes, that 18-wheeler was an accident waiting to happen,” said Schuelke.

When big rigs meet smaller vehicles, the results are never good. If someone does make it survive a wreck of such magnitude, they are often severely injured, and their lives are irrevocably changed. Recovery may take years, if at all.

“The trucker was cited by the police for vehicle maintenance violations and for being over his industry regulated hours of service. The trucking company was cited for the brakes and tires and other assorted violations. What is disturbing is the light fines they received. The driver was fined $276, and the trucking company $620. These arehardly punitive and not likely to stop them from trying to patch together their vehicles to keep them running. This is a serious loophole in monitoring trucking safety violations,” said Schuelke.

Without proper safety regulations, stiffer fines and a commitment to compliance, the trucking industry is likely to remain a leader in fatal accidents. “Even with checkpoints set up to monitor drivers and equipment, they can’t catch everyone,” Schuelke said.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Hit and Run Drunk Driver Kills Pedestrian

Texan arrested in fatal hit and run was driving under the influence.

“In this case, two brothers were walking beside I-37 when one of them was hit by a blue Chrysler PT Cruiser that took off. The man, a 39-year-old, died at the scene,” said Brooks Schuelke, a personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P in Austin, Texas.

The police had their work cut out for them, as eyewitness reports were unreliable. However, a break in the investigation came when a passenger in the PT Cruiser called police to tell them what happened. The witness said he was passed out in the passenger’s seat when he was startled awake by a loud crashing noise and was then showered in glass. Further investigation led to eventually identifying the Cruiser owner, a 32-year-old female, as the driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident. She was charged in connection with the incident.

“It was evident from the eyewitness report, and from other sources, that the Cruiser driver had been drinking the night of the hit and run. The woman was arrested and put in jail. In jail, she told a cellmate she had hit a man, after spending time in a bar, but that ‘he should not have been on the road in the first place,’” said Schuelke.

The wrongful death of the 39-year-old man was a sudden and horrific shock for his family. They are trying to pick up the pieces after their son’s death and are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit with the hope that what happened to their son will never happen to someone else.

“If you have been in an accident like this, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. They can advise you of your legal rights and explain what needs to be done, should you wish to file a lawsuit, either a personal injury or a wrongful death suit. Doing so may help you cope with your injuries or loss,” said Schuelke.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Says Some Wrongful Death Cases Settle Outright

In instances where the plaintiff’s case is strong and the defendant knows it, often a settlement is reached before going to court.

“This case involved the sudden death of a 19-year-old college student. In the wee hours of the morning, the man was riding on an all-terrain vehicle with another student when it flipped over. The young man was fatally injured, and the driver was charged with driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter,” outlined Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

This case did make it to a criminal court the first time, and the jury acquitted the ATV driver. The deceased’s dad launched a civil federal lawsuit, a wrongful death suit, indicating the driver was drunk and speeding recklessly, causing the death of his son. Further details provided in the federal statement of claim intimated the ATV driver’s family had served both young men alcohol continuously over a period of several hours prior to the fatal wreck. “In fact, the ATV driver admitted to police at the scene that he had been drinking,” Schuelke pointed out.

The reason for the criminal trial acquitting the defendant involved the man invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. These two factors would not hamper a wrongful death lawsuit as the case would be heard in a civil court.

“As it turned out, the case did not go to court. It was settled before that for $2.7 million most likely because the details in the statement of claim and the admission of the ATV driver to police that he had been drinking continuously were strong indicators that a jury would find for the plaintiff,” remarked Schuelke.

Wrongful death lawsuits are those pursued in civil court, and they have a different standard of proof than required for a criminal case. In other words, the standard of proof for a wrongful death case is on a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not.

“These types of lawsuits address the concept that in addition to harming the person who died, those who depended on the deceased for support, emotionally or financially, are injured as well. This is the reason for plaintiffs asking for compensation for the death of their loved one. They have sustained a grievous harm, and have not only lost their family member, but have lost their financial support, which are two devastating blows in one. Someone needs to be responsible for that loss,” Schuelke said.

A wrongful act may be a careless or negligent action such as driving while under the influence, a reckless act or an intentional act, like murder. Virtually every state has a wrongful death statute that allows the family of a victim to bring a lawsuit seeking compensation for the death of a loved one.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Explains that Trucker Driving Logs Exist for a Reason

Altering the information in a truck driver’s log is more common than people think. It is also a crime.

“Truck drivers are required to keep a log of their travel to prove they complied with state and federal laws. There are a fair number of cases in which trucker’s or their employers have altered the driving log for trips. In some cases, there are two sets of books;  the one for inspectors to see, and the one that reflects the true number of hours a trucker logged,” commented Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

Consider the case that happened in North Carolina where a truck company owner chose to waive indictment and plead guilty on behalf of his company and individually to one count of violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1011. This meant he pled guilty to one count of making false statements.

The facts of the case show that the trucking company and its president doctored truck drivers’ duty status logs to hide the true number of hours their employees had driven. These numbers are required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations, and they state there is a limit to the number of hours a trucker may drive to avoid accidents caused by driver fatigue.

Truckers are mandated to track their hours in a log book to make sure they do not go over the maximum number of hours allowed. They are also required to get proper rest breaks before hitting the road again. According to the charges in the North Carolina case, the owner of the trucking company falsified those logs because his truckers were driving more than the allowable number of hours by law. The owner and the company were also trying to avoid detection by law enforcement.

The man individually faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The company he owned may face probation for one to five years and a fine of up to $500,000.

“It makes you want to ask if faking the books was worth it. From the point of view of the law, it was not worth it. From the point of view of a potential victim involved in a wreck with a big rig, it was not worth it. From the point of view of honesty and ethics, this man and his company failed the grade,” said Schuelke. The good news is that chasing down and charging offenders for altering log books is becoming more common.

Someone needs to take action to put a stop to dishonest individuals and companies trying to circumvent the law. Trucker’s driving logs exist for a good reason to save lives, to follow the law and to keep others on the road and the trucker safe. It is time money took a back seat to being safe, alert and honest while driving an 18-wheeler.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Truck Versus Pedestrian Accidents Often Fatal Says Austin Personal Injury Lawyer

Due to their size, big rigs versus pedestrian accidents often have a fatal outcome. The two deaths in this case are a reminder to use caution around big trucks, whether on foot or on the road.

“Often the best way to explain a legal premise or what the law means is to highlight a case that happened to someone else. This particular case was bizarre in that two men were killed four days apart at the same location, in the same manner. Each of these deaths are examples of men who, although they were familiar with big rigs, did not pay attention to what they were doing when they got out of their trucks. Equally, other truckers were not paying attention to pedestrians,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

The first truck crash happened early in January 2011. The second wreck was four days later. Both truckers on the ground were killed by other truckers who did not see them. Unfortunately, the second fatality was a hit and run and the police have not yet located the 18-wheeler who killed the Texas trucker.

Are these personal injury or wrongful death cases?

“In each case, it is likely the families of the dead truckers would want to speak to a wrongful death attorney to ask how to obtain compensation for the loss of their loved one. Sudden death like this comes as a great shock to everyone left behind. Does the question of negligence play a part in these cases? Yes, and that would likely focus on what the truckers who hit both men were doing just prior to the impact. It’s something that needs to be known to put together a wrongful death case,” Schuelke said.

Wrongful death cases are typically about compensation for those left behind to allow them to get on with their lives. “Figuring out the damages that may be collected for a wrongful death is often complicated and although the family may claim medical bills and funeral and burial expenses, the future needs to be considered. In other words, damages may address future losses, such as an estimated total of wages the person would have earned had they lived and the pain and suffering of the survivors who have lost their loved one,” Schuelke said. Often, future earning testimony will need to be given by an expert witness.

Does a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit need to be shared with all the relatives? “The answer to that is, possibly, and that entirely depends on which state’s law governs the case,” said Schuelke.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Quick Auto Accident Settlements Not Always Beneficial Says Austin Personal Injury Lawyer

Claimants can get a settlement quickly if they go along with the insurance company and settle fast and low. Unfortunately, this may also result in the victim not getting fair compensation.

“If there’s one thing that I hear a lot of in my practice as an injury lawyer, it is the question, ‘How long will it be before I get a settlement from my car accident?’ The response is usually that getting a settlement takes whatever time is necessary if you are dealing with an insurance company with the assistance of a lawyer. It may take less time if you choose to try and deal with the insurance people on your own; something I don’t highly recommend,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

Dealing with an insurance company can be one of the worst experiences anyone could ever have, largely because, although they want to settle fast, insurance companies do not want to settle quickly for the same reasons that the victim does. When an insurance company is in a hurry to get a claim settled, they try to get the injured victim to resolve the claim fast and for a low amount. In other words, settle for far less than the victim may actually be entitled to should their case go to court. Their main goal is to give victims as little as possible, send them packing, close the file and call it done.

Often, some of the tactics used by insurance adjusters would shock anyone with a sense of fairness. For instance, it is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to put words into the victim’s mouth and then add a twist to them. They may start out with a nugget of truth and then spin their sentence into something completely different.

It is not uncommon for them to change horses and opinions mid-stream, either. In one conversation, the victim may be told the other driver did not have the right to do what they did. In another conversation, the opposite may be said. Confusion, diversion, fabrication, offensive remarks and subtle, or not so subtle, accusations are the stock in trade for many aggressive insurance adjusters aiming to keep as much money as they can and close out a claim for as little as possible.

Insurance companies run a business; the business operates on a bottom line. The bottom line is to keep as much money as they can, not hand it out to claimants. If all the claims were paid out at values that were actually fair and equitable, the insurance company would not make as much; hence the drive to save money on the backs of injured drivers.

Be aware that most insurance companies will take notes and record what victims have to say for use against them later. What may appear to be just facts to the plaintiff may suddenly become a conspiracy theory against the insurance company to wring more money out of them unfairly. Dealing with insurance adjusters is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

“While it may seem like you are getting a good settlement offer, you may not be aware, without having spoken to a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer, that you should be compensated fairly for the damages you have sustained. Perhaps the injuries seem minor on the surface and you sign a waiver on your insurance file. Big mistake. Crash injuries have a way of developing into something else over time and if you waive your rights, you can’t claim for anything later. This is why you need to talk to an attorney if you want justice and adequate compensation,” Schuelke said.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at Civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Big Rig Brake Failures the Cause of Many Fatal Wrecks Says Austin Personal Injury Lawyer

Mechanical failure is one of the leading causes of 18-wheeler accidents. Maintenance is crucial to safe operation.

“While this should be a no-brainer, it seems that a great number of trucking companies don’t always keep their trucks up to snuff. Perhaps they are tired, don’t have time or forget, but maintenance can be the biggest lifesaver when they take their rigs on the highways and byways of the nation. All it takes is one missed brake or load check to ultimately become the reason for a fatal wreck,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

The trucking industry, by and large, does a good job of keeping their behemoths running smoothly and on the road. Those rigs keep the nation in business every day of the week by transporting goods. More often than not, truckers check their loads; check how they are strapped down, check their tires, their fuel levels and brakes. Unfortunately, there are those who would prefer to go for the cash at the end of the run and not take the extra time to do due diligence to ensure their truck is safe.

“Any trucking company and/or trucker that does not take the time to properly perform safety checks on a regular basis is taking the potentially fatal risk of killing someone in a wreck. It’s a given that when an 18-wheeler hits another vehicle, the results are usually deadly. It is up to the driver and the company to take the responsibility to be safe, drive safe and travel safe. The lives of others, including their own, are at stake every time a rig hits the road,” Schuelke said.

Mechanical flaws that affect the function of an 18-wheeler, such as poor or worn brakes or loose tires that come off, have the potential to blow up when least expected. No one wants to be in front of a big rig whose driver suddenly discovers that the vehicle’s brakes are not working properly; a disaster in the making that could have been avoided had the driver done a proper safety check before starting the run.

Consider the case of the four vehicles stopped at a construction zone on the highway, waiting for a piece of heavy equipment to clear the road. Out of the blue, the tractor-trailer coming up behind them suddenly realizes the cars are stopped. In an attempt to avoid the inevitable, the trucker hit the brakes and steered toward the ditch.

The brakes failed. The truck did a sideswipe, snake-like motion and completely creamed the last car in line. There were no survivors in the vehicle. The trucker had not checked his brakes and performed proper maintenance on them for months. The estate of the family killed in the wreck would ultimately file a wrongful death lawsuit based on the trucker’s negligence in not maintaining his vehicle.

“Regular inspection and maintenance are the responsibility of every trucking company and trucker. If they fail to take care of their fleet, the results can kill. If you have been in a situation like this, please, call my office for information and to find out what your legal rights are in cases like this,” said Austin personal injury lawyer Schuelke.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at Civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Wrong Way Driver Kills Two and Almost Dies Himself Reports Austin Personal Injury Lawyer

A witness to a fatal crash is haunted by his attempts to try and avert the accident. It did not work and two died.

“It is not too often that when a person sees an accident about to happen that they try and avert it, like one driver did in this case we heard about. It was very early in the morning and a taxi driver was on the highway on the way to pick up a fare, when he noticed a pickup truck speeding the wrong way in the westbound lane. The truck was all over the place and in and out of traffic. It appeared the man behind the wheel was ripping along at about 80 miles per hour,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.

The cab driver flashed his headlights as a warning and then frantically tried to call 911. It was too late by then, as the accident had already happened before he had finished hitting the last number 1. As the truck was rounding a curve in the road, it swerved and then careened head-on into another vehicle, without ever hitting the brakes. The hit was a direct head-on, and the impact was ferocious.

“There were two men in the Jeep Cherokee that was hit by the pickup truck. One was 37 years old and the other, 42. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene of this horrific wreck of twisted metal,” Schuelke said. EMS crews thought the pickup truck driver was also dead, but he moved, prompting the ambulance to rush him to the nearest hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

There is not much doubt that the families of the dead men will want to speak to a wrongful death personal injury lawyer about compensation for the loss of their loved ones. It is obvious the pickup truck driver was negligently and recklessly driving the wrong way on a one-way road. “That decision cost two innocent victims their lives. Whether or not drugs or alcohol, texting or distracted driving was the cause, the end result was that the pickup driver’s negligence was the proximate cause of the two men dying that morning,” Schuelke said.

The police report indicated that there will likely be charges pending in this case, although there was no specific mention of what types of charges were being contemplated. If there are criminal charges laid, which is entirely likely, and the man goes to jail, this does not preclude either of the families filing a wrongful death lawsuit. “If you have been in a similar situation, please do not hesitate to contact my office. We will take the time to explain wrongful death lawsuits to you and help you through the legal process,” Schuelke said.

Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.

Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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