Articles Posted in Personal Injury

New cars have cameras, computers and warning signals to make driving safer.  However, all cars have outdated 20th century technology for headlights.  On May 26, 2017, an article in USA-Today The Journal News by Nathan Bomey entitled “Vehicle headlights are stuck in tech’s dark ages”.  According to the article, 250 pedestrians are killed at night every year crossing the road and many cases it is because drivers can’t see them because their headlights don’t shine bright enough.  These findings are backed by headlight expert Michael Flanagan at The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded last year that two-thirds of lighting packages available on 21 small SUV models including Jeep Wrangler, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Nissan Rogue deliver poor performance.  Ten midsized car headlights systems were poor including Buick Verano, Hyundai Sonata and the Mercedes Benz C Class. The headlights of seven pickup trucks were rated poor including the Ford F-150, the GMC Canyon and the Toyota Tundra.

The cause of these poor headlights is outdated federal rules that have blocked automakers from introducing head lamps that automatically adjust to oncoming traffic to reduce glare even though the technology is available in Europe and Japan.  According to AAA “there’s technology available today that could potentially reduce some fatalities and it would be simply a matter of regulation change to allow that in the U.S.”

We previously blogged on the safety of bicycle lanes on July 31, 2015, September 28, 2015, July 29, 2016 & November 01, 2016, see my blogs.  Today, we are blogging about bicycle laws in the Town of Mamaroneck.  In an article in The Journal News on May 18, 2017 by Gabriel Rom, he points out the Town of Mamaroneck is considering a network of bike lanes through the Village and Town of Mamaroneck.  The Town would create up to 20 miles of new bicycle routes connecting the Town of Mamaroneck to the Villages of Mamaroneck and Larchmont along with new paths between train stations, schools and retail businesses.

Stephen Moser, a member of the Town’s sustainability collaborative stated “this is about seeing our roads as a shared resource not just for automobiles but for pedestrians & cyclists”.  The Town commissioned a draft proposal from bike consultants including former NYC Transportation Commissioner.  The plan presented to the Town Board lists about a dozen possible bicycle routes across the three municipalities as follows:

  1. A portion of Palmer Avenue within the Town;

In an article in The Journal News by Nathan Bomey, it was reported that Johnson & Johnson to pay $110,000,000 to a Virginia woman for failing to disclose the cancer risk from its baby powder.  The woman, Lois Slemp, is 62 yrs. old and was diagnosed in 2012 with ovarian cancer.  The products liability case alleged Johnson & Johnson concealed the possible talc in its baby powder can cause cancer.

Johnson & Johnson has a legal crisis where the company has already lost several similar cases with verdicts of $72,000,000, $70,000,000 and $55,000,000.  Johnson & Johnson faces multiple class action suits.

After three weeks of testimony (expert on both sides testified) a 12 person jury deliberated ten hours before rendering the verdict in the Slemp case.  An attorney representing Slemp and other plaintiffs stated “they chose to put profits over people, spending millions in efforts to manipulate scientific and regulatory scrutiny”.  Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly denied the connection between the talc and cancer.  Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal the verdict as it won two other cases in March.  The company stated “we are preparing for additional trials this year and will continue to defend the safety of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder”.  Johnson & Johnson sold the Shower to Shower brand several years ago.

The Volkswagen group plead guilty on March 10, 2017 to three criminal charges for its diesel emissions scandal setting it up for a penalty.  According to an article in USA Today – The Journal News on March 11, 2017 by Brent Snavely, this will propel Volkswagen’s total cost to the $20 billion mark.

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox in Detroit accepted the pleas and set down April 21, 2017 for fines.  They plead guilty to charges of fraud, obstruction of justice and misrepresenting the capability of vehicles with diesel engines imported into the USA.  Judge Cox needed time to review the terms of the settlement which proposes a $4.3 billion fine.  Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement worth about $17 billion for U.S. consumers and dealers who own Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles.

Manfred Doess, Volkswagen’s General Counsel acknowledge that Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, willfully and knowingly created software designed to fool government regulators so its diesel engines could pass tougher emission standards adopted in 2007.  The software allowed the cars to engage all emissions gears during testing, then turned it off on the open road.  This resulted in the Volkswagen engine to spew nitrogen oxide at up to 35 times the legal limit.  Doss admitted that Volkswagen’s employees designed software to chat on emissions and some employees destroyed documents after they knew Volkswagen was under investigation.  Doess said high level employees were involved but they were “below the level of Volkswagen AG Management Board”.

The National Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) keep statistics of winter car accident resulting in death.  NHTSA claims wintry weather car accidents killed 4,000 people over the last five years.

In an article by Doyle Rice in USA Today, The Journal News on February 7, 2017, points out wintry weather such as blinding snow squalls occur often in Pennsylvania on I83.  Snow squalls are like little blizzards.   Most people think tornadoes or floods are the deadliest weather but car accident in wintry weather kill more Americans each year than any other weather danger.

From 2011 – 2015, an average of 800 people died a year in car accidents because of snow, freezing rain, sleet or ice according to NHTSA and the Auto Insurance Center.  Ohio was the deadliest state for car accidents more than 420 deaths in the past 5 years.  The average of 86 deadly accidents per year.  New York averages 46 deadly accidents per year.

Other than two major snowstorms, this winter has been relatively mild.  Tuesday, March 14, 2017 a major snow storm dropped from 7.5 to 24” of snow in New York City and The Hudson Valley Region.  As a result of Tuesday’s storm and the frigid temperatures after the storm, it creates a dangerous snow and ice condition resulting in falls and personal injury.  As a result we are repeating our snow and ice checklist blogged about on January 13, 2016.

If you are a victim and sustained physical injuries as a result of a fall on snow & ice, the following should be done:

  1. Do not move before making sure you haven’t sustained a fracture or a serious injury;

We have previously written about the airbags in millions of vehicles of all makes and type that are causing personal injury or death.  The airbag inflators can explode with too much force shooting metal and plastic shrapnel at the vehicle’s front seat passengers.

The U.S. Safety Regulators are forcing automakers to speed up the replacing of the defective air bags.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an order forcing automakers to prioritize speed acquisition of parts and fix the vehicles most at risk according to an article in USA Today – The Journal News on December 11, 2015 entitled “U.S. forces Takata recall to speed up” by Nathan Bomey.  The recall will affect 42 million vehicles in the USA totaling 64 – 69 million airbag inflators.  The NHTSA issued a series of deadlines based upon the age of the vehicle, especially older vehicles in hot, humid climates.  The NHTSA released an updated list of vehicles affected by the recall.  All automakers are affected by the recall which could affect one quarter of all vehicles on the road.  The list has added the Tesla Model S electric vehicles.

Exploding airbags have been blamed for at least 11 deaths in the US and at least 184 injuries in foreign countries.  The announcement by the NHTSA is Tkata is in financial crisis and could go bankrupt.  All car manufacturers are still responsible to their consumers and will bear a greater brunt of the economic loss.

On January 19, 2017, we wrote about the last train accident of the Long Island Railroad on January 4, 2017.  It was thought that sleep apnea played a part in the engineer failure to stop at the end of the platform at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York.  We stated it was time to have all railroad engineers to be tested for sleep apnea.

In the Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journal on January 30, 2017 under “Briefly” it was announced that ENT & Allergy Associates, LLP has been selected by The Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials to screen and treat MTA employees for sleep apnea and other sleep conditions.  The medical staff of ENTA said the service and employee compliance could be a significant step in reducing potential dangers on the regions rails.

Sleep apnea has been identified by The National Transportation Safety Board as a contributing factor in some highway, railroad and airplane accidents.  The sleep condition is often underdiagnosed in transportation personnel.  The NTSB has been among federal agencies undergoing screening of commercial drivers, train engineers and pilots.

Wednesday’s Long Island Railroad accident sounds all too familiar.  A rush hour commuter train crashed into the end of a platform at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn on January 4, 2017.

According to an article in Lohud.com – The Journal News by Deepti Hajela & Michael Balsamo, more than 100 passengers were injured.  Passengers were hurled to the floor and slammed into each other.  The train had been traveling 10 mph when it crashed, double the 5 mph speed limit.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator said the train had erratically changed speeds in the 3 minutes before the crash, accelerating and decelerating between 2 & 10 mph.

Our last blog on the defective airbags manufactured by Takata, a Japanese company was February 22, 2016.  As of May, 2016, 25 million vehicles over the past 8 years have been recalled.  In May, 2016, Federal Regulators announced an expansion of the recalls to at least another 35 million vehicle with airbags that come out with such power that it shoots out metal shrapnel into the person in front of the airbag (driver’s and passengers’ sides).  At least 11 global deaths and approximately 100 injuries are attributed to the faulty airbags.

25 million airbags under recall is the largest consumers’ product recall in U.S. History.   Now with an additional 35 million added to the recall list, a new largest recall has been instituted.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that the cars covered by the existing recall would not be fixed until 2019. So far, according to an article by Peter Bigelow at autoblog.com, a million airbags have been repaired with doubling the recall of airbag by Takata.  The time line for fixing the airbags will extend into the future and millions of motorists will drive around with ticking time bombs in their cars.  Meanwhile, Takata spokesman states “Takata is working with regulators and automakers to develop long term orderly solutions to handle the millions of airbags recalled”.  Investigators state the defect drew worse with age.

On October 10, 2016, it was reported in USA Today – The Journal News that Takata Corp.’s defective airbag has been attributed to at least 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries.  Unfortunately, Takata Corp. is considering a U.S. bankruptcy to deal with the costs involved in the recall of its product.  The Wall Street Journal reported the companies consideration, Takata Corp. declined to comment.  Takata is still trying to find a private equity investor or an auto parts maker to consider a deal that would result in more cash for the company to deal with their recalls.  Takata’s Steering Committee confirmed this year that it was working with restructuring firm Lazard to seek new investments.  If this fails, Takata will go bankrupt and then who replaces the defective airbags?