Ambulance Driver Falls Asleep on the Job

Collision CareJan Care Accident Injures Three People in Doddridge County:  West Virginia State Police are investigating an ambulance crash that happened in Doddridge County on the night of May 20, 2013.  A Jan-Care ambulance crashed on Route 50 near Arnold’s Creek just after 11 p.m.   The ambulance driver told police that he had fallen asleep while driving.

The driver said he was traveling toward Parkersburg when the vehicle ran off the roadway and ended up in the guard rail and a ravine, according to West Virginia State Police.  One person was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital.  There was one patient in the ambulance, according to 911 officials. The patient and another person in the ambulance were taken to United Hospital Center for treatment.

State police have not released the names of the people involved. Their injuries didn’t appear to be life threatening.

Drowsy Driving is one of the Leading Causes of Accidents on WV Highways

Most of us realize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.

Ambulance drivers are on call 24-7 — it is no wonder that the drivers are often driving while sleep deprived.  It is especically sad when an ambulance driver whose only intent is to save lives falls asleep at the wheel and causes injury.   This is the second major Jan Care accident in this area this year.  I am confident the Jan Care company will be revising policies or will at least have a new urgency in working to prevent future accidents that could injure their staff and the patients who have been trusted to their care.

Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving

  • Young people — especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
  • People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
  • Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged

Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:

  • 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
  • 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
  • In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.

Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
  • Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
  • Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
  • If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap — does not apply to ambulance drivers!
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep — also does not apply to ambulance drivers.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.
  • Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.

Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
  • Missed exits or traffic signs.
  • Repeated yawning.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.

Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV. You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can avoid the unnecessary pitfalls of dealing with the insurance adjusters who are motivated and trained to devalue your claim, if not destroy it altogether.

Call our office today for free books for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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Explosion at Harrison County Gas Well Drilling Site

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A spark from a natural gas drilling operation in north-central West Virginia ignited methane gas several hundred feet underground early Friday, sending up a fireball and triggering a blaze that officials said burned for about an hour on the floor of the rig.

Three workers were injured, two seriously enough to be airlifted to a hospital after the fire at the Antero Resources site near Sycamore in Harrison County. The fire was quickly extinguished and the well pad was in a rural area, so it posed no danger to the public.

Two victims were flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.  A third was transported by ambulance.

Their conditions weren’t immediately available, but WV State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said one had returned to the job site by 9 a.m.

Workers were in the early stages of drilling a Marcellus shale gas well. The drill was about 400 feet deep when they began to withdraw it, creating a spark that ignited the methane. That created more of a fireball than an explosion, he said.

The accident happened at the Cottrill No. 3 well on Antero’s Southern pad, and the crew doing the work was with Hall Drilling LLC of Ellenboro.

Neither Hall Drilling nor Colorado-based Antero immediately returned messages Friday.

Antero voluntarily shut down the operation, and a DEP investigation is underway.

Legal Insight You Need for Your Gas Well Injury Claim

West Virginia workers have had a long-standing tradition of persevering and working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions.  As the oil and gas drilling industry grows, an increasing number of workers are experiencing accidents resulting in serious permanent injuries and wrongful death.

In most cases, a worker who is injured on the job will be able to receive some benefits from a Worker’s Compensation claim.  In West Virginia, if an employer is found to have intentionally placed their employee in harm’s way, resulting in serious injury or death, that employee may qualify to file a claim against the employer’s insurance company.

Many injured workers think that their financial damages for medical bills and lost earnings are limited to West Virginia workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ compensation laws say that you cannot hold your employer accountable for damages above the amount of benefits paid by the workers’ comp insurance unless you can prove the employer acted with “deliberate intent,” as provided in W. Va. Code 23-4-2.

In many workplace injury and wrongful death cases, however, there may also be a third party who can be held liable for negligence. The third-party can include the manufacturer of a piece of defective industrial equipment, the property owner or a subcontractor working on the same job site.

If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations in the workplace, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim.  Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.  Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or visit our website for more information.

We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

 

Source:  Pipeline, ” Three Hurt in WV Gas Line Explosion,” http://shale.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/news/archives/24751-three-hurt-in-wva-gas-well-explosion, August 17, 2012

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