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No Criminal Charges Does NOT Mean Immune from Negligence Claims

A recent Morning Call article (,0,3890198,print.story) reported that the driver of a dump truck that crashed  into another vehicle and the Leithsville Fire Station and killed a man will not face criminal charges. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli made sure to point out, however, that the decision of his office does not make the trucker and the company immune to possible civil suits.

According to the article, the driver of the dump truck attempted to apply the truck's brakes but the brakes tragically failed. Special care must be taken to operate vehicles such as these because of the increased dangers they pose to other drivers on the roadways. In certain circumstances, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply. Under those regulations, for example, before driving a motor vehicle the driver is required to perform a pre-trip inspection to ensure that the vehicle is in "safe operating condition". The link will take you to the FMCSA page.

Certainly, brakes that are not in safe, operating condition would be reason for a vehicle to be kept out of operation. All too often, due to the pressures of the job and the time-crunch that we all feel from time to time, something gets missed. In most cases, these mistakes do not have catastrophic results. Unfortunately, sometimes tragedy does occur. Care must be taken in every instance in order to avoid the worst of all possible outcomes.

America is a driving culture. Those of us who live or work in the Lehigh Valley, especially, find ourselves in a car practically every day for one reason or another.

Yesterday, while riding as a passenger in a car here in Bethlehem, I took this photo:

Scary? Yes.

Potentially deadly? Absolutely.

Luckily, the truck was stopped and the driver notified before anyone was injured. Be safe out there, the roadways can be a dangerous place.

Jonathan B. Acklen, Esquire

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