We personal injury lawyers see some recurring fact patterns, particularly for the spinal cord and brain injury cases. The fatigued tractor-trailer driver driving beyond the FMCSR hours. The fully loaded passenger van rollover. The scaffolding collapse at a construction site. Commercial vehicles and equipment drive our modern economy, but they do so with more than enough force to maim or to kill if not used carefully.

But nothing beats alcohol, the “social lubricant,” which can turn even the most mundane situation into a crippling or fatal tragedy. Cars, guns, and bodies of water are inherently dangerous anyway — for any given American, their lifetime odds of dying from one of the three are, respectively, 1-in-100, 1-in-325, and 1-in-9,000 — and the addition of alcohol exponentially increases the likelihood of accidents, shootings, and drownings. A mind-numbing (and soul-numbing) number of our cases involve, in one way or another, the use or abuse of alcohol.

Which brings us to the subject of today’s post:

East Hempfield police said Hershey, a salesman at Imports of Lancaster County, East Petersburg, had taken the Jensens on a test drive when he told Tyler Jensen to pull over so he could show him “how it’s done.” Witnesses estimated Hershey was traveling as fast as 90 mph on the two-lane road when a truck pulled into his path and he swerved and hit an embankment, according to the affidavit filed in the case.

The car rolled several times, ejecting Hershey and the elder Jensen, who sustained severe head injuries and died at the scene.

According to the affidavit filed in the case, Hershey admitted to drinking Bacardi rum prior to the crash. His blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was .06, below the legal limit of .08, said police. He also tested positive for marijuana.

It’s a horrible story, told in excruciating detail by the article. Hershey is rightfully facing criminal charges, and the car dealership is rightfully facing a civil lawsuit for, among other problems, negligently hiring an individual who “was charged with drunken driving twice in 2002, according to court records,” who before then “pleaded guilty to ‘exceeding the maximum speed limit established by 28 mph,’” and who had separately “pleaded guilty to careless driving and following too closely.” That’s not the person you entrust with the test drives.

Let’s put that aside, and put aside the marijuana, too. (Not least since “tested positive” means he used some amount of marijuana at some point in the recent past, not that he was driving under the influence of marijuana at the time.)


Continue Reading Proving Intoxication In Auto Accident Lawsuits Despite Legal Blood-Alcohol Levels

The Wall Street Journal (and their Law Blog) had an amusing piece recently about the jockeying underway for the position of lead counsel in the Toyota Motor Corporation Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation, which has been consolidated in the Central District of California:

Lawyer Daniel Becnel Jr. of Reserve, La.,

Via Overlawyered, George Will at the Washington Post favorably reviews Philip K. Howard’s "Life Without Lawyers:"

Long Beach, N.J., removed signs warning swimmers about riptides, although the oblivious tides continued. The warning label on a five-inch fishing lure with a three-pronged hook says "Harmful if swallowed"; the label on a letter opener says "Safety

EDD Update points us to this article from Wes Billingsley in the Texas Lawyer:

… all too often, lawyers raise spoliation claims not for legitimate reasons but instead to turn cases lacking substantive merit into opportunities to procure a quick settlement.

Openly challenge spoliation allegations through candid discussions with opposing counsel. Often these

Over at PhilaLawyer, an anonymous (and largely humor-focused) part of the Rudius blog network, there are four ideas for "Shyster-Proofing the Courts:"

1. Immediate Mandatory Mediation
2. Allow Expert Witnesses to be Deposed
3. Give Frivolous Litigation Claims Teeth and Allow Expert Witnesses to Be Sued in Such Claims
4. Eliminate Referral Fees

First

The “Truck Injury Lawyer Blog” points us to a new development in the world of trucking accidents:

In his recent article, Premiums Fall 10% to 50% As New Firms Enter Market, Frederick Kiel describes the effect that the drop in premiums has on the trucking companies, as these new insurance companies are