A 9 year old boy was hit by a motorist and suffered fatal injuries when the motor vehicle, while approaching a drive way surrounded by hedges, turned to the right and moved across the sidewalk. Claiming the hedges were too high, the boy’ estate sued the condominium association and it’s Management Company for failure to maintain. They claimed that there was a non-regulation stop sign that was placed too far back and too low, causing the drivers who came out of the driveway to approach too far into the traffic of pedestrians and cyclists on the sidewalk, endangering them. The Jury awarded about $12.1 million, apportioning liability of 60% to the Management Company, 30% to the Condominium Association, and 10% to the motorist.
Exposure to sandstorms and trash burning in open pits in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to lung problems for those who have returned from overseas tours and Afghanistan, and the military is struggling with how to address the issue. While the military has their own health care coverage, civilian contractors are exposed to the same environment. If you have been harmed or injured by sandstorms, dust, or silica while working overseas; you may be covered under the Defense Base Act (DBA). You may need a Defense Base Act Attorney to help with your claim. Now, the Department of Defense is reviewing its policy of not requiring mandatory lung tests for troops amid growing outside pressure to take a harder look at what two wars in perennially dusty, sometimes toxic climates have done to soldiers’ lungs and how to better handle these issues in the future.
Other service members are in similar situations, because unlike many fire departments and industries where workers face potential lung problems, the military doesn’t require the tests until after troops report problems.
Returning veterans and contractors have brought lawsuits against their employers and the U.S. government, citing exposure to burn pits, where troops typically burn all their trash while on deployment, including plastics, human waste and things like batteries. Congress has ordered the VA to establish a burn-pit registry by January, where vets from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf Wars can log on and document their concern about health problems tied to the exposure..
Nearly two million troops have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. About 14% of deployed troops complained of lung problems, according to research cited in a 2012 article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Separate research showed 6.6% of troops who had deployed to Iraq had VA-diagnosed asthma, higher than the figure for troops not deployed to those countries.
Shopping for that new baby in your life? Be sure to check out the new federal mandatory standard to improve the safety of bassinets and cradles. Every year children die or are injured in unsafe sleeping situations. The CPSC received notice of 426 incidents involving bassinet/cradles, including 132 fatalities from November 2007 through March 2013.
The new standard defines “bassinet/cradle” as a small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants, supported by free standing legs, a stationary frame or stand, a wheeled base, a rocking base, or swing relative to a stationary base. In a stationary (non-rocking or swinging) position, a bassinet/cradle is intended to have a sleep surface less than or equal to 10 degrees from horizontal.
A bassinet/cradle is not intended to be used beyond the age of about 5 months or when a child is able to push up on his hands and knees. Bassinet and cradle attachments for non-full-size cribs or play yards are considered to be part of the bassinet/cradle category, as are bedside sleepers that can be converted to four-sided bassinets not attached to a bed.
The effective date for the mandatory bassinet/cradle standard is 6 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Manufacturers are allowed an additional 12 months to comply with the provision for removable bassinet beds.
The new federal standard incorporates provisions in the voluntary standard (ASTM F2194-13), Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles. CPSC staff recommended five modifications to F2194-13 standard. These modifications address risks not adequately covered by the voluntary standard. The modifications include:
1.a clarification of the scope of the bassinet/cradle standard;
2.a change to the pass/fail criterion for the mattress flatness test;
3.an exemption from the mattress flatness requirement for bassinets that are less than 15 inches across;
4.the addition of a removable bassinet bed stability requirement; and
5.a change to the stability test procedure, requiring the use of a newborn CAMI dummy rather than an infant CAMI dummy.
Be sure that your new baby has a bed that meets these standards!
Ford paid NHTSA a $17.35 million fine after the agency said the automaker did not notify customers of a defect in a timely manner after it recalled 423,000 2001-04 Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes in July 2012. The vehicles were recalled for sudden acceleration, a condition that Ford knew about long before the vehicles were recalled. Ford paid the maximum fine under current law but did not admit any wrongdoing.
“We take the safety of our customers seriously and continuously evaluate our processes for improvements,” Ford said in a statement. “While we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government.”
Ford recalled 421,000 Escapes in the U.S. for a problem in which the vehicles’ gas pedals could remain depressed almost all the way down even after the driver had removed his or her foot. That would cause the SUVs to continue accelerating unintentionally.
General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles equipped with 1.4L DOHC gasoline turbo engines and 6T40 front wheel drive automatic transmissions and equipped with an electric vacuum pump to provide supplemental vacuum for brake assist, when needed. In the affected vehicles, the pump may not activate, resulting in an intermittent reduction or loss of brake assist.
A loss of braking assistance will require extra pedal force and/or distance to bring the vehicle to a stop, increasing the risk of a crash.
General Motors will notify owners, and dealers will replace a microswitch in the power brake vacuum pipe assembly, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020. GM’s recall number is 12213.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. If you have had a car accident in Florida call Michael Seelie PA.
The personal injury protection (PIP) law, adopted in 1972, has changed. The new law limits the amount of time that individuals have to receive PIP benefits following a car accident. If you are insured in the state of Florida, your personal injury protection (PIP) may no longer cover you for a maximum of $10,000.00 come January 1, 2013. However, you will still be required to pay the premium to have the coverage. After an accident, unless you seek treatment within 14 days, you will forfeit your right for medical treatment under PIP.
There is often a lag in the onset of symptoms following an automobile accident. No claim can be opened after 14 days under PIP. Medicare and other major medical insurance companies are not liable for injuries sustained in an automobile accident until the PIP benefits are exhausted. However, at that time the coverage would range from limited to none at all. If treatment is initiated within 14 days of an accident, coverage will extend as long as is medically necessary
There is never a good time to get injured in an automobile accident.
If you have a crash, please do not wait to call us, even if you are at fault. We will help you determine what actions you need to take.
Report Details Rising Dangers from Trucks, Offers Market-Based Solutions
AAJ Urges Congress to Increase Trucking Insurance Limits set in 1980
Washington, DC—An outdated economic model allows unsafe trucking companies to operate on U.S. roads, according to a new report released today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ). “Truck Safety Alert: Rising Danger from Trucks and How to Stop It,” details safety hazards in the trucking industry, including a compensation program that promotes fatigued driving and ignores safety risks, and inadequate insurance limits that shift the cost burden to taxpayers, medical insurance carriers, and Medicare.
According to the report, artificially low insurance limits prevent unsafe trucking carriers from ever being held responsible for the full amount of damage they cause. A fatal truck crash costs approximately $4.3 million in direct costs, yet the insurance minimum for cargo trucks has remained at $750,000 since 1980. Adjusted for inflation, the rate would be equal to $2.2 million today, or $4.4 million adjusted for the equivalent in medical care dollars. This allows companies and drivers to take risks that jeopardize public safety.
One Virginia State Trooper was killed in 2002 when a commercial tow truck turned in front of him while the trooper was responding to a call of gun shots fired during the D.C. sniper crisis. The trooper had his lights and siren on, but the truck driver was on his cell phone. The statutory minimum insurance requirement of $750,000 applied to the truck, while the trooper’s lost income and services were around $2 million.
“Without adequate insurance limits for the trucking industry, all consumers pay the price when a vehicle and truck collide,” said American Association for Justice (AAJ) president Mary Alice McLarty. “Not only are consumers who share the roads with trucks at risk, but so are truck drivers who operate in an industry that incentivizes risky driving conditions. Congress needs to address the antiquated trucking insurance limits,” added McLarty.
The report concludes with suggested, market-based solutions that would make strides towards increased safety. Solutions include an emphasis on the realities of truck drivers’ work and compensation – not just logged hours – and changing insurance requirements.
3,757 people died in trucking accidents in the U.S. in 2011. Fatalities (per miles driven) are 17 percent higher for trucks than for passenger vehicles.
More than 28,000 trucking companies with safety violations operate on U.S. roads.
Nearly three times as many people die in truck accidents as die in aviation, boating, and railroad accidents combined.
In a fatal two-vehicle crash involving vehicle and a large truck, 97 percent of the deaths were the occupants in the passenger vehicle.
Last week the Trucking Alliance, a coalition of trucking companies, published a study detailing 42 percent of crash settlements exceeded the federal government’s minimum insurance requirement for trucking companies.
As the world’s largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.
A recent Supreme Court decision will affect just about anyone who has a credit card, bank account or a relationship with a financial services company and is a major blow to America’s consumers, employees and small businesses.
The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to uphold as valid an arbitration clause (put in the small print within the contract). The ruling will potentially prevent merchants and consumers from binding together their claims to form a class action to redress their claim of breach of contract or other monopolistic activity by the company. See American Express Co. Et Al. V. Italian Colors Restaurant Et Al.
How does this ruling matter to consumers? Anyone who fits into this group of consumers is likely to have agreed to settle a dispute through arbitration and forfeit the right to sue if you believe that the company has charged you an excessive fee for example.
Typically, the arbitration clause is embedded as part of standard contract language, but you’ll have to look hard for it. Certain businesses prefer arbitration for several reasons: primarily it caps their losses, and the cost of arbitration often outweighs the amount of the loss, and usually the injured decides not to prosecute the claim. For example, the cost of filling most law suits is under $500.00 while arbitration starts at $3,000 as the arbitrator is paid a fee and if the arbitration calls for 3 arbitrators well you get the picture.
Thursday decision will only encourage Companies to write in arbitration clauses in even smaller print, in the most innocuous places in the contract.
Protect your small business and your consumer rights by searching the contract for the right to reject arbitration or opt out of that part of the contract. The contract will typically only provide a short time within which to exercise that right.
Unlike some of their competitors in the past, Chrysler is doing the right thing in accepting NHTSA’s recommendation to recall those Jeep models that are at risk of a fire in a rear-end collision.
Based on NHTSA’s preliminary analysis, Chrysler has voluntarily agreed to conduct a safety recall of model year 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles.
Model year 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep SUV models are at risk of fire in a rear-end collision.
For details and recall documents go to NHTSA’s website:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given Chrysler a deadline of June 18 to formally respond to its request for the recall of 2.7 million model-year 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Liberty SUVs.
According to national news stories; during the last twenty years, Jeep SUV models have shown a concerning susceptibility to burst into flames after rear-end collisions. At least 51 people have died.
For information and investigation documents go to NHTSA’s website:
Select model year: 1998 – 2004 Make: Jeep and then Model: Grand Cherokee.
When the page opens, select the tab “investigations”. You will have access to the PDF documents related to the investigation.
Contact Michael Seelie with any legal questions.