PERSONAL INJURY BLOG

Many States Ban Guardrail Unit Because of Safety Concerns

Sunday, October 12, 2014

As the controversy over the level of fraud committed by a company that supplied a key guardrail component to many states rages, several states are moving to ban the sale of those units, because of fears that the guardrails could injure car occupants.

The ET-Plus rail head at the center of the controversy is manufactured by Trinity Industries. The Federal Administration recently demanded that the unit be retested and inspected for safety, prompting Mississippi and Oregon to declare that they would ban the installation of the guardrail unit.

The problem with these units seems to be the fact that the company made changes to the design, without informing federal agencies. The company continued to neglect requests to provide information about the safety of these units. The units could possibly increase the risk of the guardrails piercing a vehicle, during an accident. Five fatalities are linked to accidents involving these guardrails, and several injuries have been reported. Trinity Industries faces several personal injury lawsuits related to these deaths and injuries.

Several states have already banned the guardrail units, but California has not yet followed suit. The defects in the guardrails were brought to light after a whistleblower lawsuit that resulted in a massive verdict against the company. In that lawsuit, a Texas jury found that the company had defrauded the Federal Highway Administration for seven years, by concealing changes that were made to the ET-Plus unit. The Federal Highway Administration is demanding that the company allow federal inspectors at new crash tests of the guardrail unit.

Almost every state currently has these guardrails in place. Several states have already launched assessments of the device, and will wait for the results of these before making a decision. Other states are waiting for more information from the Federal Highway Administration before they make a decision.

Concussions Can Cause Behavior Problem in Teens

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Behavior problems or risky behaviors are a very real risk in teenagers who suffer a brain injury, like a concussion.

Those are the findings of a new study that was conducted by Canadian researchers. The results of the study find that both male and female teenagers were likely to engage in a number of risky behaviors after they had suffered a concussion. They had suffered concussions while playing sports, or as a result of accidents.

In both the genders, suffering a brain injury was linked to a number of dangerous and risky practices including smoking, and using drugs. These teenagers were much more likely to drink alcohol, and their grades in school dipped after they had suffered an injury to the head that resulted in a concussion.

The researchers however warn that the results of the study should not be used as an excuse for bad behavior after suffering an injury. Not all children who have suffered a concussion are likely to react this way. However, other studies have indicated that when a person suffers even a mild brain injury, there could be an increased risk of odd behaviors that are not in line with the person's personality.

Additionally, females seem to react differently to a brain injury, compared to males. Male teenagers in the study were found to be three times more likely to get bad grades in school after suffering a brain injury, and were twice as likely to use marijuana, compared to boys who did not suffer a brain injury. Female teenagers were much more likely to engage in risky behaviors, after a concussion compared to males. They were more likely to smoke, and become victims of bullying or suffer from suicidal tendencies or depression after a brain injury.

Most Drivers Could Do with Refresher Training

Monday, September 15, 2014

The last time most motorists underwent a proper driver education program or driver training course, was when they received their license. Unlike commercial drivers or fleet drivers, motorists are not required to get their driving skills upgraded, and that, according to new research, could be a problem. Los Angeles car accident lawyers believe that there could be far too many motorists driving on Los Angeles roads, with inadequate knowledge of driving safety or driving laws.

In a study that was conducted recently, researchers found that motorists were unable to clearly figure out how much stopping distance to leave between their vehicle and the car in front. In approximately 50% of the cases, they overestimated the stopping distance, while only 16% of the motorists were able to remember the stopping distance that they learned in their driving education program.

But motorists are not required to undergo a driver education program to upgrade their driving knowledge of driving laws. For instance, the laws related to distracted driving, or speeding, bicycle safety and other laws frequently change in California. Motorists could benefit with upgraded driver training modules that allow them to stay updated with changes in the laws. A new law in California, for instance, now requires motorists to maintain a minimum of 3-feet passing distance when they pass by a bicyclist. A motorist who is not even aware of this new law could be at serious risk of causing a bicycle accident, and getting a traffic violation citation on his record.

The researchers are calling for at least periodic retraining of motorists to learn about the latest driving safety laws, and refresh their driving skills.

Parents Develop Devices, Apps to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

There are no federally-approved devices or technologies that a parent can use to reduce the risk that he or she will leave a child behind in a hot car, and walk away. In the absence of any such technology, a number of parents across the country are using their own imaginations to develop devices and apps that can be used by other parents to reduce the risk of such a catastrophe.

Every year, there are hundreds of heatstroke-related incidents involving children who were left behind in cars. In most of these cases, Los Angeles car accident lawyers find that the children are rescued in time, when the parent remembers that the child is in the car, or when a passerby notices the child, and calls emergency help. However, in many cases, the children suffer severe heatstroke and suffocate as the temperatures in the locked car rise.

These are the kind of errors that no parent could ever imagine making. However, they are more frequent and more common than believed. According to Kids and Cars, every year, there are at least 38 fatalities involving heatstroke in children who were left behind in hot cars.

The auto industry has failed to develop any devices or technologies that would help alert parents when they are in danger of walking away from a locked car with their child inside. However, that hasn't stopped imaginative parents around the country, from developing technologies to help prevent such disasters. These technologies include everything from sensor systems that are embedded in car seats and would actually alert the parent when he walks away from the locked car with the child still inside, to smart phone apps that warn the parent to check the backseat once again, when he turns off the car.

What Parents Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Accidents

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Parents can set a better example to help inculcate better driving practices in their teenage children. Unfortunately, far too many parents actually ignore advice by their teenage children about driving safely.

According to the results of a new study that was released by Liberty Mutual, many parents continue to ignore warnings about distracted driving and other dangerous driving practices by their teenage children. About 42% of teenage passengers in the study admitted that they have asked their parents to stop text messaging while driving. About 32 percent said that they had tried to get their parents to stop driving while under the influence of marijuana. Among the children who advised parents to stop such dangerous driving behavior, 40% said that their parents either ignored them, or made excuses for their bad driving behavior. The results indicate that the parents must also be included in safe driving awareness campaigns and other initiatives.

Los Angeles car accident lawyers believe that the worst kind of driving behavior exhibited by parents is distracted driving. Your teenage child is not likely to take your warnings about cell phone use while driving seriously, if you don't bother to switch off your cell phone while driving. If your child sees you frequently checking your text messages or texting back or answering a cell phone call while you are driving, he very likely to believe that such practices are not really that dangerous.

Additionally, parents who ignore warnings by their teenage children against driving under the influence of marijuana, drunk driving or distracted driving, only grant legitimacy to such types of risky behavior. This only increases the risk that the teenager will begin to consider such behaviors as acceptable, or at least not as dangerous as the media makes them out to be.

There's very little that can be done to help reduce the risk of teenage accidents, if parents do not educate their children about safe driving. Parents need to set a better example for their children, and must take proactive steps to display safe driving in front of their children. You must drive attentively at all times, but it is even more important that you do so when you have teenage children in the car.

NHTSA Tool Helps Motorists Identify Whether Recalled Car Has Been Repaired

Monday, August 11, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is helping motorists identify whether the recalled car that they are driving has been repaired or not.

The new service is included in the SaferCar.gov website operated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the federal agency, motorists can simply enter the vehicle identification number into the search box, to identify whether the car has been repaired after being included in a recall list. The unique identification number can be found on the dashboard near the windshield. You can also look out for the number on the driver’s side doorpost.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also requiring that auto companies maintain and update the same data on their website. The data must be updated at least once every week. The National Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as one-third of all vehicles recalled in the United States are not repaired. That means that millions of cars every year that are included in the recall list for other defects are simply not repaired. Many of those cars continue to be driven in a possibly dangerous condition, until they are finally sold into a used car lot.

When new buyers purchase these cars, they may not even be aware that the car was earlier recalled for possibly serious defects. Similar dangers also exist when a person walks into a rental car service, and drives out with a recalled car that has not been subjected to a fix. The federal agency believe that much of the problem is linked to the fact that people move homes often, and therefore, may not receive recall notices sent by the federal agency. In other cases, motorists are simple too negligent to take their cars in for a fix.

Riverside Region Is One of the Most Dangerous Areas for Pedestrians in California

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region in southern California is listed as one of the most dangerous areas for pedestrians in the country in a new study.

The listing was compiled by Smart Growth America in a new edition of Dangerous by Design. The report spotlighted those cities across the United States in which pedestrians are at the highest risk of being involved in a fatal or injurious accident. The researchers derived the results by analyzing the fatality rate for pedestrians per 100,000 against the percentage of the local population that commutes to work on foot.

Florida was found to be the riskiest state in the country for pedestrians, with large numbers of metropolitan areas considered very risky for pedestrians. The most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians is Orlando. In California, the most dangerous area is the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region. In this region, the total number of fatalities was 889 between 2003 and 2012, with a danger index of 102.2. In comparison, Orlando's pedestrian danger index was off the charts at 244.3.

Other dangerous areas for pedestrians in California are the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville region with an adult fatality rate of 390 and a danger index of 81.3. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana region in southern California saw 2, 435 pedestrian fatalities during the study period, with a the danger index of 66.9.

Other areas in California that were designated as dangerous for pedestrians include the San Diego-Carlsbad- San Marcos area, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region, and the San Francisco-Fairmont-Oakland area.

Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers have found that much of California's problems with pedestrian safety stem from the lack of adequate pedestrian infrastructure in this state. A heavy motoring culture has meant that infrastructure is geared towards the safety of motorists, with very little thought to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. That means an increased risk of accidents for an increasing number of pedestrians in California.

Federal Law Could Mandate Interlock Devices for All Drunk Driving Offenders

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A new piece of federal legislation could help reduce the incidence of drunk driving accidents further. It would require all 50 states to pass laws that require the installation of ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders. Failure to comply could lead to a reduction in the highway transportation funds that the state is eligible for.

The legislation has been proposed by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Democrat-New York) who says that even a first-time DUI offense is one time too many. According to the plan that she has proposed, all first-time DUI offenders must be required to install an ignition interlock device in all of their vehicles. States must pass laws that include this requirement. States that do not do so before the deadline will be eligible for a reduction in highway transportation funds. The deadline for complying with the legislation is October 1.

The beverage lobby, as expected, has spoken out against the proposal. According to the American Beverage Institute, the real problem drinkers, like binge drinkers, will not really be targeted under the law.

The fact is that many drunk driving accidents caused in the United States every year are caused by repeat offenders. When a person is able to get away with a mere slap on the wrist the first time that he is arrested for DUI, he is just more likely to drive under the influence, placing his life and other motorists’ lives in danger. California currently has a program in four counties, in which even first-time DUI offenders are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The program was kicked off in 2010, and under the program, even persons arrested for the first time for DUI are required to get the devices installed. The devices measure the amount of alcohol content in a person’s breath, and if the amount exceeds a certain limit, will prevent the vehicle from starting.

Can a Pedestrian Recover Damages If He Was at Fault in the Accident?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Sometimes, pedestrians may be at least partly to blame for their own injuries in an accident. This is covered under the doctrine of comparative negligence, and under this doctrine, Los Angeles pedestrians may be held partly liable for their own injuries.

That does not mean that they will not recover compensation for their injuries. However, it could possibly mean that the damages could be reduced to the extent of the pedestrian’s own negligence in causing the injuries. For instance, say that a person darted out into traffic, without looking left and right, and was too quick for a motorist to slow down in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian. In such cases, the insurer may claim that the pedestrian was partly to blame for his own injuries, because of his carelessness and failure to look left and right before crossing the street. A pedestrian may be held negligent if he was crossing out of a marked and designated crosswalk at night while wearing black. In such cases, an insurer could successfully argue that the motorist couldn't possibly have seen the pedestrian in time to avoid him.

In such cases, it doesn't mean that the pedestrian will not be eligible for damages at all. It merely means that the damages that he is eligible for will be reduced by the percentage that he's believed to have been at fault. If he is believed to have been 20% at fault, the damages will be reduced by 20%.

Even if have been partly to blame for the injuries that you sustained in an accident, you must speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer in Los Angeles before filing a claim. Many pedestrians make the mistake of simply giving up on the claim, or not bothering to file a claim at all, believing that they will not recover damages since they were at fault in the accident. This is a major mistake.

CarMax Targeted for False Promises of Safety

Sunday, June 15, 2014

CarMax, the country’s largest dealer of used cars, is named in a petition filed by a number of consumer safety groups. The petition claims that CarMax falsely claims in its advertising, that it inspects its automobiles for auto safety defects, before they are sold.

The petition was filed by a group of 11 consumer groups, who asked the Federal Trade Commission, to take strong action against the dealer. The consumer groups are especially concerned about the company's promise, that the cars that it sells are inspected for safety defects. Those promises are made even though CarMax does not have a policy of fixing recalled cars, before these are sold.

Those concerns about recalled cars are especially high, with the increased number of recalls in 2014. This year alone, the number of recalls is expected to exceed previous years. General Motors is expected to recall more than 20 million cars in 2014. Add to this recalls by other manufacturers, and the total could be very high this year.

There are concerns that defective recalled cars could make their way to used car dealers like CarMax when they haven't even been fixed, increasing the new owner’s risk of being involved in a car accident. CarMax proudly claims on its advertising that its cars are inspected before they are sold. However, the company does not have a policy of identifying which cars are involved in recalls, and fixing these before they are sold. The company claims that it inspects a number of car components for safety defects before the cars are sold. However, many of the safety components may have been involved in recalls, a fact that CarMax conveniently fails to mention in its advertising.

The groups want the Federal Trade Commission to get the car dealer to fix its advertising, so that it no longer makes such dangerously deceptive promises.


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