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Anchorage Personal Injury Blog

The dangers of traveling by private plane

Traveling by small plane is a way of life for many Alaskans, but it can also be an inherently dangerous method of getting from one location to another. While the accident rates for commercial airline flights have improved over the last decade, the accident rate associated with smaller, private planes has risen considerably. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Schneider, a Professional Corporation, we understand the devastation that can occur when small planes crash, and we have helped many accident victims and their families seek appropriate recourse after plane crashes.

Per, accident rates associated with private planes have spiked 20 percent over the last decade, while the fatality rate associated with private plane crashes jumped 25 percent during that same period. Just what is to blame for the spike? Statistics show that pilot error is frequently a factor in private plane crashes, with many occurring after the pilot loses control of the aircraft.

Drug use by truckers often overlooked

The demands of the trucking industry are numerous, with many of today’s drivers facing tough schedules, tight timelines and, in Alaska, frequently hazardous weather conditions. Regrettably, some truckers abuse drugs in an effort to stay awake, boost morale or shake boredom, among other reasons, and when it comes to their drivers’ drug use, some trucking companies do little more than look the other way. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Schneider, we recognize that tragedies often result when semi-truck drivers choose to drive under the influence, and we have helped many victims of commercial trucking accidents seek recourse.

According to the National Law Review, the drug abuse problem in the trucking industry is so prevalent that, in a survey of fatally injured truck drivers, more than 40 percent of them had drugs in their systems when they died. While stimulants have been an issue in the trucking industry for decades, with some truck drivers relying on them to stay awake and cover additional miles, opiate use, too, is becoming increasingly common among truckers.

The facts on turbulence: one of airline travelers’ worst fears

Whether your upcoming flight is your first or your 101st, you might always feel a sense of anxiety once the bumping and jolting in the cabin kicks in at 40,000 feet. You would not be alone – many residents of Alaska and elsewhere are mildly afraid to downright terrified of airplane turbulence. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Schneider, A Professional Corporation, we understand how scary turbulence can be. Just how dangerous is turbulence, though?

According to USA TODAY, mild to moderate turbulence is a phenomenon experienced on nearly every flight. There are constant streams of air rushing through the atmosphere, which pilots describe as akin to the currents of a river. You might be dismayed to learn that pilots do not have a scientific formula to predict how severe the turbulence of any particular flight will be. Instead, they mostly rely on reports from other pilots and air traffic controllers regarding the conditions of prior flights. Fortunately, airplanes today are built to withstand severe turbulence. A plane’s wings are meant to flex with the wind currents, creating a safer and more stable environment in the air.

How can you prevent accidents at sea?

The cruise manual for the National Science Foundation's Sikuliaq boldly states that "virtually all accidents" are preventable. If anyone can make a statement that bold, certainly the NSF can. They, along with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, operate Sikuliaq, "one of the most advanced research vessels in the world." In the manual for operating the sophisticated ship, mariners establish safety guidelines to protect Alaskans from avoidable injuries. Even if your boat is much smaller and less technologically driven, and you use it mostly for fishing runs with family and friends, following these recommendations can help you keep both passengers and crew safer when navigating ocean waters.

One of the best ways to prevent mishaps on boats is to train frequent riders in safety and emergency protocol. When first-timers join you for a day on the water, let the experienced navigators pass their knowledge on to the newcomers. Whatever you do, do not neglect taking the time for this important step. It may seem easier to rush through a few pointers and hand out life vests, but in the event of an unexpected emergency, you will not regret the extra minutes or hours you spent preparing your passengers.

Brake failure results in multi-car crash

Anchorage residents likely realize the importance that freight carriers play in helping to sustain commerce in the U.S. They also understand that the semi-trucks and tractor-trailers that these companies utilize are complex machines that require scores of additional maintenance beyond that which is required for traditional cars, trucks and SUVs. A failure of any of the component systems that contribute to the operation of these vehicles can result in accidents that cause extensive damage and catastrophic injuries. 

Some might say it is a small miracle that such damage was not the result of a recent truck accident that occurred in Pennsylvania. Nine vehicles were involved in a collision that came as the result of a tanker experiencing the loss of its brakes. All of the vehicles were stopped at a traffic light when they were hit. Amazingly, while 11 were hurt in the crash, none of the injuries sustained were considered to be life-threatening. Officials are investigating the cause of the truck's brake failure, and the driver has yet to cited. 

How does marijuana use affect driving ability?

While the dangers associated with drinking and driving are well documented and have been for some time, Alaska and several other states’ relatively recent legalization of recreational marijuana is raising new questions. Just how much does the use of marijuana impact one’s ability to drive, for example, and how much does that person's decision to use before getting behind the wheel endanger you and everyone else on the roadway?

While more research is necessary to answer these and related questions effectively, there is little question surrounding whether marijuana impacts your ability to drive safely, at least to some degree. Here is how:

Understanding Alaska's wrongful death laws

At the Law Offices of Michael J. Schneider, a Professional Corporation, in Alaska, we understand that when your loved one dies unexpectedly, you and other family members are left in a state of shock. You suffer a great deal of emotional pain and may suffer financial losses as well due to the death of your loved one.

If your loved one’s death was caused by someone’s negligence, such as by a drunk driver or a negligent health care professional, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that person to recover compensation for your damages. As explained by the Alaska Court System, Alaska law allows you to sue for both economic and noneconomic damages.

Cellphone rules for truck drivers

Truck drivers in Alaska may not always think about the rules which govern their cellphone usage behind the wheel. However, some of these rules can be far-reaching and it is important to understand the ways these devices can legally be used on the road.

Alaska has several rules about cellphone use behind the wheel. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, texting while driving is illegal for every driver. However, general cellphone usage is allowed and there is no ban on hand-held devices.

What do motorcyclists need to be aware of this fall?

Fall is a beautiful time of year in Alaska, especially for those who love the outdoors. If riding through the countryside on your motorcycle is something you enjoy doing, this is the time to do it, before the harsh Alaskan winter sets in. You need to be aware, however, of numerous hazards that are common in autumn and may threaten your safety on a motorcycle.

According to Esurance, weather-related road conditions can cause serious accidents in the fall. All drivers are at risk, but you are especially vulnerable on a motorcycle, due to your machine’s smaller size. Motorcycles pick up speed faster than larger vehicles, and you can quickly lose control of your bike in poor conditions. These may include the following:

  •        Visibility problems – Fog, rain and early snow are common during autumn in Alaska, and sun glare may also create a safety issue.
  •        Slippery roads – Frost, wet pavement and muddy leaves can cause slick driving conditions.
  •        Back-to-school – Drivers must remember that with school back in session, children will be walking and riding bikes to and from school, and more buses will be on the road.

Injuries sustained on cruise ships

When you go on a cruise in Alaska, you usually expect to have a good time, not sustain injuries. Some people are injured on cruise ships, though. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Schneider, we know that receiving compensation for these wounds can be more complicated than you may think.

After you are injured on a cruise ship, it is important that you understand the deadline for filing a claim. FindLaw says that many cruise lines have a notice-requirement clause. This means that you may have only a year to file a claim for any physical harm you sustain. You can usually find the time limit on the back of your ticket. Additionally, your ticket will likely have information about the cruise line's liability policies, as well as list the state where you will need to file your claim. This state may not always be Alaska or your state of residence, so it is important to pay close attention to this information.

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