Archive for the ‘Catastrophic Automobile, Truck & Bus Accidents’ Category

Yamaha Rhino goes to court in Georgia – not happy with verdict!

June 3, 2010

When the weather is warm, outdoor activities are the amusement. Expecting them to end in injury usually isn’t the case!

In Gwinnett County, GA, Roger McTaggart was injured in 2007 while riding his Yamaha Rhino recreational utility vehicle. Mr. McTaggart and his wife, Glenda, sued Yamaha Motor Corporation USA, which happens coincidentally to be located in Gwinnett County.

The McTaggart’s case is just one of over 100 cases that allege the Rhino recreational vehicles are unsafe. The Rhino vehicles are alleged to have latent stability defects which cause the vehicles to unexpectedly roll over.

Similarly, the McTaggart’s claimed early in their case that the stability defect caused Mr. McTaggart to unexpectedly roll his vehicle at a low speed and on relatively flat ground.

McTaggart was driving his Rhino and stopped the vehicle. He then starting going forward again and turned the steering wheel to the right, “and the Rhino tipped onto the driver’s side, trapping his leg under the vehicle,” according to McTaggart’s complaint.

McTaggart sustained a “crush” injury in which the “skin exploded” and bone was exposed, Childers said.

Mr. and Mrs. McTaggart also argued that the recreational vehicle should include a barrier which would keep the rider’s legs inside the vehicle. Yamaha rebutted the argument, claiming that doors for the vehicle were produced and added three the four months after Mr. McTaggart’s leg injury.

During the two week trial, all experts, including plaintiffs, concluded that the accident could only have happened while Mr. McTaggart was riding on a side incline, not on an relatively flat and uneven surface. Counsel for the McTaggart’s focused arguments on the fact that had the vehicle contained doors,  Mr. McTaggart’s legs would not have been injured when the unexpectedly vehicle rolled over.

After 10 hours of deliberation, a Gwinnett County jury awarded $317,002 to the plaintiffs. Compensation included pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, future lost wages and loss of consortium for Mrs. McTaggart. The plaintiffs’ attroney, Andrew Childres, claimed that the jury was swayed by Yamaha’s lack of performance testing on the Rhino recreational vehicle, with particular focus on “occupant containment”.

Yamaha claims that the company is upset by the verdict and there is a chance for appeal in the Gwinnett County case. The well known motor-sport company further states:

[We are]…saddened whenever anyone is injured in a Yamaha product-related accident, and we urge all our customers to follow the safety recommendations on our products and, as importantly, to always operate the products in a safe and responsible manner.

As we enter the summer months, it is important to remember that safety is the number one key to outdoor activities. When operating motor vehicles, of any kind, be sure to heed all safety precautions to ensure safe amusement.

Advertisements

FHA Announces New “Toward Zero Deaths” Initiative

April 13, 2010

The Federal Highway Administration has launched a new initiative called ‘Toward Zero Deaths,’ a national strategy on highway safety, aimed at ELIMINATING, not reducing, all highway deaths.  The strategy is explained in a new article just posted by USA TODAY:    

The approach is called Toward Zero Deaths, based on a philosophy that even one road death is morally and ethically unacceptable. The goal: to alter behaviors that cause fatalities, such as speeding, drunken or distracted driving, and lack of seat belts. Speeding is a factor in more than 31% of road deaths, drunken driving in 32%, and distracted driving in about 16%. And 55% of those killed in passenger vehicles are not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More details regarding the purpose of the initiative are found within the announcement on the Federal Highway Administration’s website:

Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety will be a data-driven effort focusing on identifying and creating opportunities for changing American culture as it relates to highway safety. The effort will also focus on developing strong leadership and champions in the organizations that can directly impact highway safety through engineering, enforcement, education, emergency medical service (EMS), policy, public health, communications, and other efforts. The national strategy will be utilized as a guide and framework by safety stakeholder organizations to enhance current national, state and local safety planning and implementation efforts. The intent is to develop a mechanism for bringing together a wider range of highway safety stakeholders to work toward institutional and cultural changes.

One of the most significant needs is to change Americans’ attitudes toward highway safety. There are already programs and technologies that can result in substantial reductions in fatalities; however, those benefits will not be realized as long as the public and elected officials are not willing to pass laws or take the actions needed to implement them.

Sound like a grassroots effort?  In part, it is.  A lot also has to do with technology, and several states have already implemented state versions of the national campaign.  As an example, Utah has already implemented the initiative, and has seen clear, convincing results in just four years.  Robert Hull, the director of traffic and safety at the Utah Department of Transportation, explains:

Since launching a zero traffic deaths program in 2006, the state’s traffic deaths have fallen almost 15%, from 287 to 245 last year, Hull says. The state already had cut road deaths by 24% from 2000 to 2005, partly by implementing engineering changes such as rumble strips and median separations, he says. He acknowledges that the economic downturn likely accounted for some of the recent decline as people drove less.

The next steps, in regard to the national effort led by the Federal Department of Transportation, are “to identify and understand challenges and opportunities in reducing highway fatalities.”  In addition, “the impact must include projections of lives saved as well as the health care costs of highway injuries and deaths, best practices, effective means of creating a cultural change, and other issues,” as stated by the Department.

To date, there are members of over 30 organizations interested in participating in the Stakeholder Group.  With over 35,000 deaths ocurring on the Nation’s highways every year, assistance from more highway safety stakeholder organizations may certainly be put to good use within the initiative.

Is this possible?  Can it be done?   Think about how difficult that would be, all of the challenges involved.  Having said It is a noble but impossible cause .  We will continue to monitor this initiative and will report on its progress.

Bicyclist Dies in Collision With DC Guard Truck

April 13, 2010

In recent weeks, we have discussed bicycle and pedestrian safety within blogs on our firm website.  Unfortunately, the tragedies continue to mount, and the most recent DC bicycle fatality is related to the traffic issues surrounding the DC Nuclear Security Summit, that is now taking place here in the District.  As NBC News has just reported:

A woman was killed Monday night when her bicycle collided with a five-ton truck doing security work for a motorcade for the Nuclear Security Summit in Northwest Washington.  

The accident happened around 6 p.m. at the intersection of 12th Street and New York Avenue, NW.

The vehicle that collided with the woman was a five-ton truck with the D.C. National Guard.

“It was moving forward to block as a procession was coming through,” said Major Gen. Errol Schwartz of the D.C. Guard.

At this time, it is still unclear who is at fault.  Regardless, we again urge all motorists , pedestrians, and cyclists to obey all applicable traffic laws.  Currently, the road situation in DC is, for lack of a better word, a mess.  A significant section of NW is currently completely inaccessible, and it is taking a very, very long time to get around anywhere in downtown DC.

The NBC article also details the current road closures, which continue all day today.  Click here for a complete list, and to view real-time traffic maps.

Now, I can tell you first-hand from living in the District, that traffic has been just miserable to deal with over the past several days!!  Having a tremendously increased security presence at this time is needed, I know.  However, I can ALSO tell you first-hand that this past Saturday, my wife and I were almost plowed into by an unmarked police escort in Georgetown, as we attempted to leave the area.  This was only one four car motorcade.  Imagine what forty plus motorcades for the various heads of state are doing right now as we speak…BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

Aging Motorcyclists Hit the Road, But at Greater Risk of Injury, Death

April 7, 2010

Yes; Spring is upon us.  With the warmer, sunny weather comes more outdoor activity, including motorcycle riding.  The University of Rochester has just released a new study in regard to a noticeable increase in motorcycle injuries in the older population .  This study was the subject of a recent article, as published on the University’s website.  The study also details why older riders are injured more severely in motorcycle mishaps:

The increase in injury severity for older riders may be related to the reduced capacity to withstand injury as the body ages. Age-related changes, such as decreases in bone strength and brain size, may make older riders more susceptible to injury. Other factors associated with aging, such as impaired vision, delayed reaction time, and altered balance contribute to motorcycle crashes in this population, explaining in part the researchers’ finding that older riders crashed more often as a result of loss of control than younger riders.    

The figures regarding the increase in severity of injuries were compared to the younger population.  A short summary of those findings were listed in the article:

Between 1996 and 2005, researchers found the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately 34 to 39 years, and the proportion of injured riders above the age of 40 increased from around 28 percent to close to 50 percent. Of all injured riders included in the study, 50- to 59-year-olds represented the fastest growing group, while 20- to 29-year-olds were the most rapidly declining.

The article also details the unfortunate use of alcohol by motorcycle riders, and the fact that intoxicated riders are less likely to wear a helmet.  The combination of alcohol and the lack of a helmet may prove to be a deadly combination:

The younger and older riders did have two things in common: helmet use and alcohol use. Overall helmet use was around 73 percent for both groups, and alcohol use was seen in approximately one third of injured motorcyclists, with no significant difference between the older and younger riders.

Alcohol use and helmet use have been linked in prior reports, with intoxicated drivers less likely to be wearing a helmet and therefore at greater risk for injury and death. It is not surprising that the researchers at the University of Rochester found that riders who tested positive for alcohol use were two-and-a-half times more likely to not be wearing a helmet at the time of injury. Despite abundant evidence that helmets reduce mortality, brain injury, length of hospital stay and economic burden, only 20 states have universal helmet laws.

The complete study can be found in the March 2010 issue of The American Surgeon.

Maryland House advances bill raising auto liability limits

March 26, 2010

Earlier this week, Maryland came one step closer to mandating increased bodily injury liability limits for their vehicle owners.  In a 97-36 vote, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a measure to increase the coverage.  Here are some of the key details, as reported by Insurance and Financial Advisor:          

The measure, sponsored by 18 Maryland legislators, increases the minimum amounts of coverage for bodily claims or death from a motor vehicle accident from $20,000 to $30,000 for one person, and from $40,000 to $60,000 for any two or more individuals. The proposed legislation would apply to all vehicle liability insurance policies issued, delivered or renewed in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2011, according to the text of the bill.

The fiscal note accompanying the bill said there is not enough data to show an impact on Maryland’s general fund as a result of the measure, but that special fund revenues for the Maryland Insurance Administration may increase by about $25,000 in fiscal year 2011, assuming 200 motor vehicle insurers pay the $125 rate filing fee to comply.

If the Senate Finance Committee gives a favorable report, the bill would then move to the full Maryland Senate.

The increased liability coverage requirement, if passed, would provide an opportunity for injured victims of automobile collisions, depending on the circumstances, to seek additional compensation for their injuries through the increased liability coverage.

Deadly Saturday in D.C. – 3 Pedestrians Struck in Separate Incidents; 2 dead

March 9, 2010

Despite the beautiful weather this past Saturday in the DC Metro Area, there were several tragic events that unfolded on DC roads, all within an hour of each other.  The Washington Post posted an article detailing these incidents:

The first incident occurred just before 5:40 a.m. in the 7500 block of Greenbelt Road in Greenbelt, police said. A car traveling east struck an adult male, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver stopped and was interviewed by accident investigators, police said.

About 30 minutes later, another pedestrian was struck and critically injured in Fairfax County, police said. A 22-year-old Falls Church man was attempting to cross Arlington Boulevard between Patrick Henry Drive and East Manchester Street about 6:10 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle headed east, police said.

The third incident occurred in the District. Just before 6:20 a.m., authorities said, D.C. police were called to 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW for a woman reported lying in the roadway. She had apparently been struck by a vehicle, and she was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died shortly after, police said.

The article also states that DC officials previously devised, back in 2008,  a strategy to encourage pedestrian safety.  PLEASE stay safe out there when travelling as a pedestrian, or operating your vehicle.  Think about your family, loved ones, friends and those who care about you; imagine how the families of these three pedestrians felt when they heard the news of their loved ones.

Latest News in Auto Recalls – Will it Never End?

March 5, 2010

For the latest details on recent recalls by automakers – read this: WRAPUP 2-Hyundai feeds on Toyota woes; GM recalls 1.3 mln cars reported by Reuters.

To answer our own headline question – apparently not!

Seat belt law not ‘clicking’ with House

February 24, 2010

A House subcommittee has killed a bill in Virginia, that would have made the failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense.  Although there is another version of the bill that has cleared the Virginia Senate, it has been referred back to the same subcommittee that killed the first bill.  Some believe this bill will suffer the same fate:

Last week, the subcommittee voted to table House Bill 901, sponsored by Delegate William K. Barlow, D-Smithfield.

“This is the second year I’ve tried it. It never passes in the subcommittee,” Barlow said. “The bill gets killed at the lowest level.”

Now the subcommittee has been assigned Senate Bill 9, proposed by Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake. It passed 24-16 in the Senate last month.

Blevins said he is not optimistic about the reception SB 9 will receive in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

“The bill doesn’t have much of a chance,” Blevins said. “I’m a realist.”

Opponents of the bill cite government intrusion as a justification for rejecting such a law.

An article, as published through the online site of The Gainesville Times, briefly outlined the current law:

Currently, Virginia law states that “occupants of front seats who are 16 years or older are required to use safety lap belts and shoulder harnesses.” However, breaking that law is a secondary offense: Police may cite you for a seat-belt violation only if they see you committing another offense, such as speeding or running a red light.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, ask yourself:  “What is the risk of having my seatbelt on, vs. not wearing one at all?”  Are there children in the car with you?  What kind of a message does it send to them if we do not buckle up?  Would you tell your child that they do not have to wear their seatbelt, or be ‘ok with it’ if they didn’t?  Remember, as much as we can control our vehicle, we can never control anyone else’s.  Be safe out there, please!

Driver phone bans’ impact doubted – USATODAY.com

February 8, 2010

You need a study to tell you that distracted drivers are a menace?  Been on the road lately?

A new report by the Highway Loss Data Institute has now raised some question about whether the ban on hand-held phones has lowered the number of accidents in the 3 states (NY, Conn., CA) and the District of Columbia, which have had the ban in place.  See the report on this announcement – Driver phone bans’ impact doubted – USATODAY.com.

“Absolutely, we were surprised by these results,” says Adrian Lund, president of IIHS and HLDI. An Insurance Institute study in 2000 found that drivers talking on cellphones were four times as likely to crash as drivers not using phones. “The key finding is that crashes aren’t going down where handheld phone use has been banned,” Lund says. “This finding doesn’t augur well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving.”

Hate to say it – but – maybe the key to safety is NOT whether cell phone usage is ‘hands-free’ but whether some folks just can’t drive and ‘chat’ at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong – I love using my hands-free to get things done while on the road.  Lund seems to agree that the issue appears to go beyond ‘hands-free or not’:

“We know that people talking hands-free are really not much safer than people talking handheld,” he says.

Wading in on the issue come two other ‘folks-in-the-know’

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and auto club AAA said the study’s implications were unclear. Both also said the findings should not be interpreted to suggest that banning texting while driving would be ineffective.

Well said (even though perhaps a bit obvious).  Some people can’t type correctly when they’re at their desks.  Texting in vehicles should be verboten in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  We’ll just have to wait and see what further research/studies report on the use of cell phones while driving – but from your own personal research (like every time you drive) – have you formed any conclusions how well some people drive and chat at the same time – hands-free or not?!!!

Bakersfield, CA: Severely Brain Damaged Sisters win $31 million « The Accident Lawyer

February 6, 2010

for all the good work MADD has done over these many years, we still hear of these seemingly endless and unnecessary tragedies. Bakersfield, CA: Severely Brain Damaged Sisters win $31 million.

This verdict resulted from a horrible auto accident in 2007.  Two young ladies, ages 25 and 16, were on their way to dinner and a movie when a drunk driver, returning his employer’s truck to the yard, ran a stop sign and stuck the girls’ car.

Torres was able to walk away from the accident with no serious injuries but unfortunately both sisters’ were rushed to the hospital where they both suffered from traumatic brain injuries. Rosie (16 years old according to the report), the driver of the car, stayed in a coma for six weeks and was left with only a partial brain.

Marta (25 years old) was able to return to work but she was permanently scarred and sustained problems with her memory, had no patience to deal with daily life, and started to become easily aggravated at work.

The oft-repeated but apparently unheard moral of these  seemingly endless stories?  If you want to drink, fine – but stay the hell off the road!  These type of verdicts grab headlines (and blogs) but lives are left shattered.  While the money may go to help these young people with future care and living (if you can call it that) needs, it will never give them back the lives they were enjoying before this tragic accident.