NTSB Issues Initial Report From Fatal Duck Boat Accident

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) issued an initial report regarding the fatal duck boat accident that occurred on Table Rock Lake in Branson Missouri last month. The accident killed 17 of the 29 passengers who were aboard.

The report states that the boat sank while it was within fifteen (15) of water, and eventually sank to to bottom at 70 feet below the surface. The report, unfortunately, only raises more questions, including why the boat company and its’ captain allowed the boat to go back out into the water while an enormous storm with 70 mph winds was about to hit them? Also, why weren’t the passengers wearing life jackets? Were there enough life jackets? I’m also curious as to the design of these boats? Are they safe or is there a flaw in the design which can cause it to capsize?

Two (2) different lawsuits have been filed already for a handful of the deceased’s families. Once lawsuit was filed in federal court in Kansas City, which names the touring company, their parent companies and also the boat manufacturer. A second lawsuit was filed in state court. It will be interesting to see how much information is gleaned during discovery period of these lawsuits, or if settlements will be reached prior exchange of documents and depositions. I will also be looking forward to the NTSB’s final report.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an Illinois boating accident or a Chicago personal injury accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Arizona Back-Up Uber Driver Was Watching TV On Her Phone At Time Of Fatal Crash

I wrote several months ago about the self-driving Uber accident that killed a pedestrian. It was unclear at the time whether the self-braking system had failed or whether the pedestrian who walked out onto the street gave the vehicle enough time to stop.

Many of those questions have now been answered in a 300 page accident report from the Tempe, Arizona police. According to a car accident lawyer, the back-up driver was watching the television show “The Voice” on her phone when the car crash occurred. The report concludes that if the driver would have been paying attention to the road rather than her phone, she could have braked on time as she could have reacted 143 feet prior to striking the pedestrian.

The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), released a separate report last month, which said the autonomous driving system on Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted the pedestrian about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled. Thus, the duty of stopping on time for pedestrians or other vehicles was left to the back-up driver.

The family of the deceased pedestrian has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the driver and Uber. In most states, Uber insures their driver’s vehicles up to 1 million dollars per accident. I’d imagine that the family of the deceased are seeking over 1 million and to collect over the policy limits they would need to allege in their complaint and prove that Uber was negligent in the training and supervision of their driver (i.e. the driver was not made sufficiently aware that the self-driving brake system would not stop in certain situations).  Maybe the drivers are overly reliant on the autonomous braking system, and that they should have been trained to be more vigilant even when the self-driving program is on. The family could also allege that Uber’s technology was faulty or that it should not have been disabled, especially at night. I will be following this case as it progresses.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago pedestrian accident or Chicago Uber accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Recommends New School Buses Include Improved Safety Requirements

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) met in Washington D.C. earlier this month for a board meeting to discuss safety improvements for school buses. The meeting came in the wake of a 2016 fatal school bus crash that occurred  in Chattanooga, TN, which killed six (6) and injured another twenty-six (26) children. The NTSB recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that all new school buses should contain lap-shoulder seat belts, the board also issued recommendations that buses be equipped with electronic stability control — computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing skidding.

The NHTSA, which sets national standards for school bus safety, requires lap-and-shoulder belts on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds, but allows individual states to decide whether to require seat belts on larger school buses. Eight (“8”) states — Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas — have passed laws requiring seatbelts be installed on school buses.

It will be interesting to see if the NHTSA follows the NTSB’s recommendations that states should enact laws requiring these lap seat belts on all new buses. Or, the NHTSA can look to the U.S. legislature to enact a law requiring all states follow these safety protocols. I think this is vastly needed, but would be shocked if this current congress and presidential administration would enact laws that would require these additional safety regulations. The current congress and president seem more apt to deregulate as much as possible regardless of the safety ramifications. We shall wait and see what happens here.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Illinois bus accident or any type of Illinois traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Tesla Driver Recreates Fatal Autopilot Accident

It was reported in multiple news outlets that an owner of Tesla Model X, crashed into a concrete barrier and died  last month in Mountain View, California. The vehicle was in autopilot at the time of the accident.  According to reports, the vehicle had the choice to veer right or left, did not break, and the autopilot sensors did not detect the concrete block, causing the fatal accident.

The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. Tesla, release the following statement regarding this fatal car crash:

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

Essentially, Tesla is attempting to put the blame back on the driver.

Another Tesla Model X owner recreated the accident himself and recorded the test on his phone. You can watch the video here.

I think it is fair for us to conclude that this is not a true “autopilot.” The driver still needs to be aware as what is going on and be on alert as to any warnings that may come. Further, I don’t believe Tesla’s software still has flaws as do other self-driving vehicles, or we wouldn’t continue to see these fatal traffic accidents.

The litigation that is coming our way with these car accidents is going to be very expensive. There is no doubt in my mind that this will all be very expensive litigation, in part, due to the expert testimony that will be required to try to prove that Tesla’s software systems are faulty . Second, there will be lawsuits and cross-claims between parties as none of the parties involved or their insurers are going to want to take responsibility for the fatalities.  This will be on top of the normal lawsuits against the individual driver, who most likely holds an individual auto policy. This is going to lead to a lot of finger pointing and litigation. I will be interested to see what the NTSB concludes, and will be following this closely.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Studies Show Summer Is Most Dangerous Time Of Year For Drivers

The Chicago Tribune published an interesting article last month about what we should expect this summer for on the highways in Illinois. Basically, the authors pointed out that that due to the increased number of expected travelers this summer, we should expect more car accidents and traffic fatalities than we saw in 2014. Going into Memorial Day weekend, Illinois already had 15 more traffic fatalities than the same time last year.

While vehicle fatalities have increased 5 percent in Illinois so far this year, motor vehicle deaths nationally increased 11 percent — to 8,250 fatalities — in the first three months of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council, based on preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The traffic safety administration’s official count includes only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days of accidents, whereas the safety council counts deaths that occur within a year of accidents.

Injuries resulting from car crashes in which medical care was received hit almost 1 million from January through March of this year in the U.S., a 26 percent increase from the same period in 2014, the safety council said.

The increase in crash-related deaths correlates to more vehicles on the roads, more total miles traveled and lower fuel prices, officials said.

The leading causes of traffic accidents continue to be intoxication and the use of cell phones. Despite most states, including Illinois, which have outlawed the use of cell phones while driver, not state has banned hands free usage.The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) and subsequently the the National Safety Council  have called for a ban on hands-free cellphone use of any kind, but no states have enacted laws completely prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving. Illinois law permits the use of hands-free devices, except in construction zones.

If you are going to be travelling on the road this summer, be sure to buckle up and put away your cell phone.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Investigation Continues Following Deadly Amtrak Crash

It has been almost three weeks since the fatal Amtrak train accident in Philadelphia and the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is still trying to find answers. First, the NTSB is investigating whether the conductor was on his cell phone at the time of the derailment. The agency says investigators are comparing time stamps from engineer Brandon Bostian’s phone records with locomotive data, radio transmissions and surveillance video to see whether the phone was used while the train was in motion. Phone records show the phone was used to make calls, sent text messages and access data the day of the derailment, but it’s unclear when.

The NTSB is also reviewing what Bostian was doing the day before the train crash to determine if fatigue was an issue.  The first leg of Bostian’s shift on May 12 was particularly grueling, union officials say, with equipment-related delays on his train to Washington shortening his rest break. A system displaying track signals on the dashboard failed, forcing Bostian to pay close attention while reducing speeds far below normal, according to Railroad Workers United. The train reached Washington 26 minutes late, leaving Bostian about an hour to rest, eat and use the restroom before his trip back to New York on the train that eventually derailed.

The NTSB is focusing all of its’ attention on Bostian at this point because he was alone at the controls at the time of the train accident.  There’s no explanation for why the train went from 70 mph about a minute before the crash to 106 mph a few seconds before it left the tracks. Investigators say preliminary inspections found no problems with the track, the signals or the locomotive. They’ve also ruled out a bullet causing a grapefruit-size fracture on the locomotive’s windshield and say they’re uncertain whether anything struck the train.

This is an investigation I will be following closely as there appears, at this point, nothing faulty with either the train or the track. The focus is on the conductor. Was he on his phone or distracted some other way? Did he pass out or faint or have a seizure right before the derailment? Something needs to explain why the train increased in speed so rapidly. The families of the deceased and the injured will want answers.  As do those who continue to ride Amtrak trains.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an Illinois train accident or Chicago CTA accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Horrific Amtrak Train Derailment Leaves 6 Dead, Injures Hundreds


Horrible news came in last night as an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia which killed 6 passengers and injured hundreds more. Multiple news outlets reported that the train, which was headed for New York, derailed at about 9:30 p.m. last night in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. Hospitals treated 200 passengers, with half of those being released overnight. Apparently one of those seriously injured in the train accident was the conductor.

The National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is currently investigating the cause of the train crash and spokesman said they would like to have some answers within the next 24 to 48 hours. CNN reported this morning that Investigators are seriously looking at speed as an issue in the crash. This is partly because of the angles of the train wreckage and the type of damage seen on its cars. To describe how violent the derailment was, an  U.S. Department of Transportation representative stated that the engine and two cars were left standing upright, three cars were tipped on their sides, and one was nearly flipped over on its roof. The seventh one was “leaning hard.”

Among other things, authorities will examine the condition of the track and the train, how the signals operated and “human performance,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said. The speed limit in the crash area is around 50 mph.

There’s not much for me to add to this horrible event other than the NTSB and U.S. Department of transportation will and should perform a thorough investigation on the cause of this train derailment. News reports do not indicate there is anything glaring right now that would pinpoint the cause of this crash. Regardless, I think we can assume there will be multiple wrongful death lawsuits from the families and estates of the deceased and personal injury lawsuits from those who were injured. More importantly, the investigation will hopefully give us answers on how this happened and how this can be prevented in the future.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago train accident or Chicago bus accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report In Tracy Morgan Truck Crash

USA Today reported today that the National Traffic Safety Board
(“NTSB”) issued a preliminary report in the Tracy Morgan truck accident case, which doesn’t bode well for the defendant driver or his
employer, Wal-Mart. The report stated that a preliminary
review of the data showed that the truck was traveling at 65 mph for the 60
seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van. NTSB
investigators are correlating these data with the physical evidence. The speed
limit at the traffic accident scene was 45 mph. The speed limit had been
lowered from 55 mph due to construction in the area.  

It was previously
reported nationally (and on this blog) that the driver had not slept for 24
hours prior to this crash. The NTSB report is now saying that electronic
log data show that Roper “had logged 9 hours 37 minutes of driving time
when the crash occurred. With respect to the maximum 14-hour consecutive duty
period for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the driver had logged 13 hours 32
minutes at the time of the vehicle collision.”

Although it’s early, it appears that
the truck driver was negligent in this case and will be responsible for the
damages he caused to Tracy Morgan and the other passengers in his limousine.
Further, Wal-Mart is ultimately on the hook for the damages as they are
responsible for any negligent actions caused by one of its drivers during the
course and scope of their employment. 

If you or someone you love has been
seriously injured in a Chicago truck accident or Chicago car crash, then call
Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation
at 312-614-1076. 

NTSB Head Urges Obama Administration To Make Safety Changes On Trains

The Associated Press reported
yesterday that the National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) is strongly
urging the Obama administration to order immediate changes to trains that haul
crude oil. Concern about the safe transport
of highly flammable oil and ethanol were heightened after a runaway oil train
derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in
Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more
than 1.3 million gallons of crude oil from the booming Bakken region of North
Dakota and Montana. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed
in resulting inferno.

There have been eight oil train accidents in the U.S. and Canada in the past year, including several that
created spectacular fires. Most were in lightly populated areas, although one
crash and fire in December occurred less than two miles from the town of
Casselton, N.D. 

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated
Wednesday, “In addition to moving forward on updating tank car
regulations, we have taken immediate action to issue multiple safety
advisories, conduct investigations, and reach agreements with the rail industry
to reduce speeds, utilize new braking technology and improve first responder
training — an unprecedented, comprehensive approach.”

The issue it appears at this point
is who will fund the upgrades and how the tanker upgrades will implement. There
appears to be a lack of consensus between the oil companies, train companies
and train manufacturers. 

I agree with the NTSB here as the
writing is on the wall for changes. What happens when there is another accident
and more people are injured or die and the evidence shows that the faulty
tankers, if replaced, could have mitigated the damages? The answer is clear:
the oil, train and manufacturing companies will all be on the hook for any
personal injuries, wrongful death or property damages. There could also be a
strong argument for punitive damages since the companies all knew (for a long
period of time) that they needed to improve the quality of the oil tankers
being hauled across the country.

If you or someone you love has been
injured in an Illinois train crash or Chicago train accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, at 312-588-3384 for a free legalconsultation

Train Operator Involved In Blue Line Crash Fired By The CTA

The CTA Blue Line crash which occurred last Monday at O’Hare airport has been all over the news the last few weeks. One area of contention that I discussed earlier this week was the condition of the train operator at the time of the train accident. There were conflicting reports on how many hours she had worked in the days prior to the crash. The operator freely admitted to National Traffic Safety Board (“NTSB”) that she had dozed off prior to the crash and that she had also nodded off to sleep back while working back in February. Well, the New York Daily News is reporting today that the train operator has been fired. It is unclear whether this will affect the lawsuits that have been filed against the CTA on behalf of some of the injured passengers. The NTSB is also awaiting investigation results on why the emergency braking systems did not stop the train immediately prior to the accident. I’m sure there will be more news to report in the weeks to come on this always changing case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago bus accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 773-456-8858.