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2014 Record Car Recalls: Here’s Why You Need to Check Your Car (and Any Crashes)

August 28th, 2014 by admin

In April, experts were already calling 2014 a record-breaking year in the number of car recalls that were being issued by car manufacturers.  Things have continued to escalate since this Spring.

Millions of Cars Recalled in 2014

Consider the following list of recalls covering a 30 day period, ending this Tuesday, as compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

* August 26: 120,426 GM vehicles from 2011-2013, including Buick Regal and Chevrolet Malibu models, Recalled for turn signal bulbs that may burn out.
* August 26: 106 GM vehicles from 2014, including Chevrolet Camaro and Buick Regal models, Recalled for potential loss of steering due to improperly torqued fasteners.
* August 26: Sutphen Minitower fire truck from 2013, Recalled for seat belts latches that may become partially engaged with the buckle, making the seat belt difficult to unlatch.
* August 21: 15,956 Chrysler vehicles from 2014-2015, including Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200 models, Recalled for insufficient welding that may cause the rear shocks to detach from the vehicle.
* August 21: 81 Jaguar XF vehicles from 2013-2014, Recalled for potential reduction of power steering assist.
* August 20: 144 Jaguar XK vehicles from 2013-2015, Recalled for incorrect information about proper inflation on the spare tire, which could lead to tire failure.
* August 19: 39,181 Recaro ProSport model 385 car seats, Recalled for failing to conform to Federal Safety Standard requirements, increasing the risk of injury.
* August 19: 2,990 GM vehicles from 2013-2014, including Buick Encore and Chevrolet Cruze models, Recalled for engine block heater cord wires that may become exposed.
* August 18: 9,371 GM vehicles from 2007-2011, including Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD models, Recalled for a potential risk of fire.
* August 15: 124,007 GM vehicles from 2013-2015, including Chevrolet Silverado and Cadillac CTS models, Recalled for an incomplete weld that may not keep the front seats secured in the event of a crash.
* August 15: 16,249 Toyota Tundra vehicles from 2013-2014 modified by Gulf Stream Toyota, Recalled for chrome-plated lug nuts which may fracture or give, causing the wheels to separate from the vehicle.
* August 14: 83,250 Ford vehicles from 2013-2014, including Ford Flex and Lincoln MKX models, Recalled for the halfshaft and the linkshaft which may become disengaged while driving.
* August 14: 57,242 Chevrolet Impala vehicles from 2014, Recalled for a potential loss of power steering assist during start up or while driving.
* August 13: 40,551 Land Rover vehicles from 2010-2015, including LR2 and Evoque models, Recalled for the air bags which may be disabled in the event of a crash.
* August 12: 455 Thor motorhomes from 2014-2015, including Axis and Vegas models, Recalled for the use of incorrect adhesive that may cause the treads on the entry stairs to come loose.
* August 11: 151,389 Volkswagen Tiguan vehicles from 2009-2014, Recalled for a potential vehicle stall due to bubbles that may form in the fuel system.
* August 11: 235 Morgan 3 Wheeler Limited 3W motorcycles from 2012-2014, Recalled for missing a warning lamp to inform the rider about low brake fluid levels.
* August 8: 18,526 Volkswagen Routan vehicles from 2009, Recalled for the ignition switch which may move out of the run position, turning off the engine or causing the air bags to not deploy in the event of a crash.
* August 6: 184,611 GM vehicles from 2005-2007, including GMC Envoy and Chevrolet Trailblazer models, Recalled for a potential short in the circuit board which may cause a fire.
* August 6: 263 Toyota Sienna vehicles from 2014, Recalled for the transmission shift control cable which may separate while the vehicle is being driven.
* August 5: Subaru vehicles from 2003-2005, In a limited regional recall for air bag inflators that may rupture upon deployment of the air bag.
* August 5: Mitsubishi Outlander vehicles from 2007-2013 with 6-speed automatic transmissions, Recalled for the power steering pressure tube that may leak.
* August 1: 225,000 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles from 2001-2006, Recalled for the front coil spring which may fracture and potentially puncture a tire.
* August 1: 133,075 Hyundai Sonata vehicles from 2011, Recalled for a potential brake fluid line leak.
* August 1: 61,122 Hyundai Veracruz vehicles from 2007-2012, Recalled for a potential oil leak that may damage the alternator.
* August 1: 3,361 Harley-Davidson FXDL Dyna Low Rider motorcycles from 2014, Recalled for possible engine vibrations that may cause the ignition switch to move to accessory mode, causing the motorcycle to stall.
* August 1: 1,939 Chevrolet Corvette vehicles from 2014, Recalled for an improper welding that may cause the shock absorber tubes to separate, resulting in a sudden change in vehicle handling.
* August 1: 1,919 Chevrolet Spark vehicles from 2014, Recalled for lower control arm bolts that may not be tightened properly.
* July 31: 131,568 Brake Parts rear wheel brake shoes, Recalled for possible detachment from the brake lining.
* July 31: Certain Mitsubishi Outlander vehicles from 2007 and 2009, Recalled for replacement transfer case assemblies whose oil seal may come out of position.
* July 30: 883,000 Hyundai Sonata vehicles from 2011-2014, Recalled for the transmission shift cable which may detach.
* July 30: 4,794 GM vehicles from 2013-2014, including Chevrolet Caprice and SS models, Recalled for the windshield wipers which may become inoperative.
* July 29: 414,333 GM vehicles from 2010-2012, including Cadillac SRX and Buick LaCrosse models, Recalled for a seat bolt that may fall out, which could cause the seat to suddenly drop to the lowest vertical position.
* July 29: 25,899 Suzuki Verona vehicles from 2004-2006, Recalled for potential heat generation that could melt the DRL module, causing a vehicle fire.
* July 29: 2,473 Sunright Rodia RDH 500 motorcycle helmets, Recalled for potentially not protecting the user’s head adequately in the case of a crash.
* July 29: 305 Piaggio Vespa 946 Vespa scooters from 2013, Recalled for a fuel line that may leak.
* July 29: 9 Spartan Motor Gladiator emergency vehicles from 2013-2014, Recalled for a potential fuel leak, which could cause a vehicle fire.
* July 28: 643,618 Chrysler vehicles from 2005-2007, Recalled for the ignition switches that may be knocked out of the run position, turning off the engine or causing the air bags to not deploy in the event of a crash.
* July 28: 226,326 Nissan vehicles from 2002-2004, including Pathfinder and Maxima models, Recalled for air bag inflators that may rupture upon deployment of the air bag.
* July 28: 5,650 Hyundai Sonata vehicles from 2015, Recalled for a manufacturing error of the front brake calipers, which could reduce braking effectiveness.
* July 28: Mitsubishi Lancer vehicles from 2004-2005, In a limited regional recall for air bag inflators that may rupture upon deployment of the air bag.

 

Why Do You Need to Know About Car Recalls?

You need to know about car recalls because:

1.  your car may need to visit the dealer and get fixed before it causes a crash

2.  a friend or family member may be driving an unsafe vehicle

3.  you may have been in an accident or crash where blame or fault was assessed against you — but now, it may be that the car maker is responsible for what happened.

4.  you may have been hurt in an accident or crash where you received damages from the other driver – -but now, it may be that the car maker is responsible to you financially.

How Long Should You Look Back?

These dangers (e.g., the General Motors revelations) go back years and years.  If you were involved in an accident 10 years ago, you may still need to investigate the car maker’s responsibility for what happened in that wreck.

Go here to investigate past recalls.

What About Future Recalls?

NHTSA has made this easier for everyone.  Go here to access a database where you register your vehicles with NHTSA and if a future recall impacts your car, van, or truck, then NHTSA will let you know.

 

 

Road Debris: Driving Hazards That Cause Serious Accidents

August 26th, 2014 by admin

There are many kinds of road hazards that can contribute to a car crash or traffic accident here in Indiana or Illinois.   Weather conditions like snow, rain, or fog can form a hazard for us during the winter months, for example.

However, another kind of road hazard that is often underestimated as a cause of accidents here is road debris.

 

What is Road Debris?

In an accident case, “road debris” is a contributing factor in an accident or wreck. It can be many different things. It can be on the road itself, or off the road.

Technically, “road debris” in an injury case is any object or material that shouldn’t be on the roadway at the time of the accident.

Examples of road debris include:

  • Trash (fast food bags, food items, furniture, etc.)
  • Pebbles or rocks
  • Ice patches
  • Grease or oil patches leaked from car / truck traffic
  • Road salt from de-icers
  • Snow
  • Flooding waters
  • Tree branches
  • Tires or parts of a blown tire (especially dangerous, blown big rig tires)
  • Construction materials (bits of dirt from a dump truck, lumber that has fallen off a supply truck, etc.)
  • Dead Animals

Why is Road Debris Dangerous?

Road debris may not be big and may not seem that dangerous. A part of a tire on the roadway or an old grocery bag laying there in your path may not seem worthy of much concern. After all, you can just drive around it — or over it, as the case may be.

However, that is a dangerous assumption.

At certain speeds, road debris can cause you to lose control of your vehicle if you hit it or if you swerve to avoid hitting it. Some road debris can cause you to slam into other cars or into barricades, trees, etc., include patches of oil, grease, snow, or rain on the roadway.

Flooding can be considered a form of road debris. Too often, drivers underestimate the power of even slow moving water, or the depth of a road puddle, and end up in a serious accident.

Moreover, the type of vehicle you are driving may make you at a higher risk for injury than others.

Road debris is more risky for motorcyclists than someone driving a pickup truck, for example. The road debris can easily deflect the motorcycle’s wheel when struck, causing the motorcycle driver to lose control of his bike and crash.

According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 25,000 accidents each year are caused by road debris.

Claims Based Upon Road Debris

Who or what parties may be liable for these injuries depends upon the situation.  For instance, if a work crew left road debris in the form of overturned traffic cones and caused an accident, then that contractor (and others) might be legally responsible for the injuries sustained in a crash resulting from that cone (road debris).

If a major trucking company fails to monitor its trucks and the roadways outside its area are filled with grease and oil spots from the semi trucks, then an accident resulting from that road debris might be the legal responsibility of that trucking company.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving road debris, then you need to investigate your legal avenues under state and federal law for accident damages.

Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Campaign Began Last Week (8/15)

August 21st, 2014 by admin

You may still be making plans for your Labor Day holiday this year, but it’s already started for law enforcement here in our part of the country.

Working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), local and state law enforcement are already on our roads and highways, on the lookout for drivers under the influence.

The “Labor Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign begin last Friday, in fact, in both Indiana and Illinois. It continues through midnight on the Labor Day Holiday weekend.

“Drunk driving is a deadly and preventable crime that destroys lives and costs the nation billions of dollars every year,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of law enforcement around the country, we are going to continue doing all that we can to stop drunk driving and the needless tragedies that result from this reckless behavior.”

According to NHTSA, over 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving accidents. Over a third of these deaths (35%) involve passengers, occupants of other vehicles, or non-occupants.

“The costs of drunk driving — in lives and economic harm — are far too high for anyone to ever get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking,” said NHTSA’s Administrator David Friedman. “Do not make one of the last wonderful days of summer the final tragic day of your life – or someone else’s – by driving after drinking. Remember to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

Safety Tips from Indiana’s Criminal Justice Institute for Labor Day 2014

Here are some things to consider as you plan your holiday fun, tips compiled by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute for all of us:

  • Plan a safe way home before you start the Labor Day festivities;
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
  • If you’re drunk, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
  • Use your community’s sober ride program.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement immediately.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while drunk, be a friend and take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • Remember, driving drunk is simply not worth the risk. So don’t take the chance. Law enforcement will be out in force and will be watching, so Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

E-Cigarette Dangers: Indiana, Illinois AG Demand More Regulation of Vapor Cigarettes

August 19th, 2014 by admin

 

We all know how dangerous smoking tobacco cigarettes can be, and the public awareness campaigns against tobacco products as cancer-causing have been very successful. Which means that there are going to be people out there thinking of ways to provide alternatives to these smokers and former smokers.  It makes sense that innovative products will be introduced into the American marketplace to substitute for toxic tobacco products.

Voila, the electronic cigarette!

In recent years, E cigarettes have not only been introduced to Indiana, Illinois, and the rest of the country, but these alternatives to conventional tobacco cigarettes have become extremely popular — especially among teenagers and young adults. In fact, it is estimated that the manufacturers of E cigarettes have created a new industry with revenues already exceeding $2 billion a year. That’s a big business.

What are Electronic Cigarettes?

E cigarettes were first seen in China as a new product sold as a means of quitting smoking. That changed fast.

Today, these gizmos have become popular in their own right all over the world. One reason? Their vapors contain nicotine which is inhaled through a vapor.  Other reasons include:

  • E cigarettes can mix the nicotine vapor with chocolate, strawberry, or other tasty flavors.
  • They don’t have ash; you don’t need ashtrays.
  • They can be used in places that tobacco cigarettes cannot because e-cigarettes don’t give off smoke.
  • They can be packaged in all sorts of fun ways (like the image above, where they resemble fountain pens).

Rising Popularity of Electronic Cigarettes

Most users of E cigarettes think there choosing a more healthy alternative to smoking the traditional tobacco cigarette. They are also opting for a cheaper and less messy alternative than the traditional tobacco cigarette.

However, E cigarettes are still delivering nicotine to the user’s system. How much nicotine, and the dangers of inhaling nicotine vapor as opposed to nicotine smoke, is still not clear.

Dangers of E-Cigarettes

Studies have shown that e-cigarette vapors can harm the lungs and cause serious damage. For instance, one new study published in the Journal Of Toxicology And Applied Pharmacology has shown that e-cigarettes are as dangerous to the user as if the user were inhaling nitrous oxide: both causing a reduction in lung function and a higher risk of cardiac arrest.

The Centers for Disease Control are reporting a skyrocketing number of poisoning cases from electronic cigarettes.

Indiana and Illinois Attorneys General Push FDA To Regulate Marketing of E-Cigarettes

Now, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have formally requested that the FDA adopt new rules regarding e-cigarettes.

Zoeller’s and Madigan’s request has been co-sponsored with the attorney generals of Massachusetts and New York, along with 25 other state attorneys general.

They want advertising and marketing of these products to be regulated in the same way that tobacco cigarette advertising is controlled — meaning, no marketing to kids.

If Zoeller and Madigan’s request is accepted by the FDA, then E-cigarettes will be further regulated pursuant to the Food, Drug And Cosmetic Act, as are other tobacco products.

Until changes are made to federal law, however, these popular vapor cigarettes are not considered to be “tobacco products” subject to the FD&C Act. Accordingly, teenagers and young adults are free to buy these trendy products in vending machines, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and elsewhere without being asked for identification, for example, or having any warning of dangers being shown on the product packaging.

Read the proposed August 8, 2014, final rule by the FDA regarding electronic cigarettes here, making them subject to regulation under the FD&C Act.

Hurt By E-Cigarettes? Then You May Be Covered By Defective Product Laws

If you or a loved one has been injured by inhaling an e-cigarette, or otherwise harmed by the liquid contained in the product or its vapors, then you may have a product liability claim against its manufacturer as well as others (such as the store where the gizmo was purchased.)  These manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of electronic cigarettes are aware of the risks and dangers of these products, and are freely selling these gizmos to teenagers and young adults (and other users) without regard for the risks involved. There are no standardized warnings on these things, like there are on many other products, for instance.

Accordingly, if you or someone you love has been hurt or injured from using an electronic cigarette, then it is up to you to investigate the possibility of a claim against these e-cigarette businesses to find justice. The law and regulations protecting the safety of consumers has not kept up with the marketplace here and right now, individuals must seek justice for themselves in cases of harm, injury, and death from these things.

Traffic Deaths in 2014 Lower Than Expected Per NSC – But Still Too Many Deaths, and Many Preventable

August 14th, 2014 by admin

From their offices in Itasca, Illinois, researchers at the National Safety Council have released their research on motor vehicle accidents in 2014 and there is good news: less people have perished in car crashes and traffic accidents so far this year than were predicted to die.

 

According to the NSC, the real numbers are 4% less than the projected number of traffic fatalities estimated to occur between January and June 2014.

Which is fabulous news, right?

Of course, the sad truth is that so far this year over 16,000 people have died in car crashes (16,180 according to NSC numbers). That is less that the same six month period in 2013, where another 680 people died above that number (16,860 fatalities in January to June 2013).

For families, friends, and loved ones of people who have perished in traffic accidents this year, knowing these statistics will not bring much comfort. The truth is that far too many people in this country are victims of motor vehicle accidents, leaving them with serious or severe injuries that impact their long-term health and sometimes cause their demise.

NSC numbers show that approximately 1,700,000 people were seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents during the first six months of 2014 (defined as those needing medical care after the incident).

The need to fight harder against the tragedy of traffic accidents is brought home by comments made by NSC’s president as part of the release of this six-month research study:

“Studies show that 90 percent of crashes involve driver error, including speeding, alcohol use and distractions,” said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO at NSC. “Although it’s encouraging to see a decrease in fatalities, the unfortunate fact remains that many of these crashes could have been prevented.”

NHTSA Study of January – March 2014: Are We Just Driving Less?

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also studies accident statistics, and NHTSA recently released its study of January – March 2014. According to the federal agency’s research, there has been an approximate 5% decrease in motor vehicle accident deaths during the first three months of this year (6800 in 2014; 7150 in 2013) — but NHTSA points out that during this same time period, people drove less: the Federal Highway Administration reports that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) were down by approximately 4.2 Billion miles during this same three month time span.

Illinois and Indiana Drivers: Be Aware of the Dangers of Driving Our Roads

In our part of the country, we have specific dangers and risks as we drive: in the winter, there are those weather conditions to consider. Roads covered with ice (especially black ice) and visually impaired routes caused by snow or fog can increase the risk of a crash.

We also have many roads where big rig semi trucks share the lanes with smaller vehicles (sedans, SUVs, minivans, etc.) and the risk of a traffic fatality is especially high when a commercial truck is involved.

Add to this the warnings of the NSA president — distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, etc. — and the danger of a traffic accident in our area skyrockets.

So, please be careful out there.  Take precautions like:

  • Be aware of how dangerous those semi trucks can be on the interstate.
  • Take more time to get to work in stormy conditions.
  • Don’t be distracted while driving.
  • Watch out for the Other Guy on the road.

And if you are in a crash, or have a loved one involved in a traffic accident, then make sure that you know your legal rights and remedies when you’ve been the victim of a negligent or wrongful driver and face long-term, life-long consequences as a result.

Residential Construction Workers – Greater Danger of On the Job Injuries

August 12th, 2014 by admin

Last month, a new study was published in the journal Industrial Health that spotlights construction workers who help build homes, single family dwellings, condos, townhouses, and other residential properties, as these workers are at special risk and danger of being hurt and injured while working on the job.

You can read the entire research study online here.

Residential Construction Has Special Dangers

Commercial construction is dangerous, of course. However, this new study may confirm something that many construction experts (like plaintiff’s attorneys) suspect: residential construction contractors may be more lax in protecting their workers than the bigger commercial contractors.

Residential construction workers may see less things on the job designed to keep them safe; things like written safety programs.

For instance: according to the study, residential construction workers are most likely to suffer from slip and fall work injuries (36 percent). Most of these workers were NOT wearing safety gear to protect against falls at the time that they were hurt.

Construction Workers: High Risk for Injury

According to OSHA, there are 12 deaths every day in the United States where construction workers are killed on the job from injuries they sustain in an on the job work accident. Most of these construction workers (working either in commercial or residential builds) died because of a fall (slip and fall, or trip and fall).

Falls are the number one cause of death in construction in this country. The other three most common causes of construction death (commercial and residential) are:

  • Struck by Object
  • Electrocutions
  • Caught-in/between.

There has been a decrease in commercial construction fatalities in the United States in recent years, which is a good thing. However, as the recent study suggests, the dangers to residential construction workers for on the job work injuries remains high.

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Construction workers incurred the most fatal injuries of any industry in the private sector in 2009, but this number declined in both 2009 (by 16%) and 2008 (by 19%). With this decrease, private sector construction fatalities are down by more than a third overall since peaking in 2006. Economic conditions may explain much of this decline – the total hours worked in construction also went down 17 per cent in 2009 and 10 per cent the year before.

These decreases were more pronounced in some construction subgroups. Fatal injuries involving workers in the construction of buildings, for example, were down more than a quarter (27%) from 2008, with most of the decrease occurring in nonresidential building construction (down 44%). Fatalities in heavy and civil engineering construction were down 12 per cent, and the subsector with the largest number of fatal work injuries – specialty trade contractors – had 16 per cent fewer fatalities in 2009 than in 2008.

Construction Workers and Legal Justice

In the United States, workers compensation laws are on the books to protect workers who are hurt on the job. However, justice may demand that workers who are seriously injured or killed while working a construction job look to other legal remedies other than workers’ compensation. Experienced personal injury lawyers will be able to assess these situations to determine what legal remedies apply to the worker’s case.

Illinois I-55 Semi Truck Crash: Truck Driver Risks and Construction Zone Dangers

August 7th, 2014 by admin

 

Sadly, our part of the country has suffered another huge commercial truck accident where several victims have been seriously injured or killed in a crash involving a big rig semi truck and a freeway.  

Four people died in a tragic accident on Illinois Interstate 55 back on July 22, 2014, when a semi-truck driving by Francisco Espinal Quiroz of Leesburg, Indiana, crashed into vehicles that were stopped on I-55. The cars were at a standstill; the force of the collision was tremendous.

The victims were setting ducks to the rolling semi truck as they sat on the asphalt where two lanes of I-55 were being merged into one lane of traffic because of freeway construction. It is known that the big rig was speeding at 15 MPH over the speed limit at the time of the accident.

  • Four people died as a result of this big rig accident.
  • Another four people were seriously injured; one had to be airlifted from the site for emergency medical care.

The chain reaction caused by the truck slamming into the row of parked cars meant that some of the cars literally had to be cut apart – a horrific demonstration of the force with which the big commercial vehicle hit the victims setting there on the construction lane.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the truck driver drives for Espinal Trucking, and he is the company’s only employee. FMCSA has no reports of any safety issues with the company. The driver himself has a record of tickets for driving over the speed limit going back twenty years.

Now, it has been revealed that Francisco Espinal Quiroz fudged his logbooks. We know from the truck driver’s admission that he had been driving for 12 hours before the crash. This is over the HOS (hours of service) legal limit of time a truck driver can be driving on the road without a break.

He’s been charged with several felonies, including (1) keeping a false log book; (2) willfully making false entries in the log book; and (3) failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident.

Interstate 55 Construction Zone Danger

The danger of a truck driver driving passed his HOS limit is one problem here. Another is real danger of driving in construction zones. This portion of I-55 has seen not just this fatal and tragic accident involving a big rig and smaller vehicles — other wrecks have happened here as well.

Governor Pat Quinn has announced an investigation into the I-55 Construction project, pointing to 4 accidents there in the past few months.

Big Rig Semi Trucks on Our Highways Are Dangerous Vehicles; Here There are Added Dangers

In this recent crash, several lessons on the real and present dangers of big rig semi trucks sharing the highways with other drivers are given.

  1. Truckers who are pressured to meet a deadline (and make their mortgage, etc.) are going to speed to get that cargo to its destination.
  2. Truck drivers will alter log books (this is why there’s a movement to automate them). This is because they want to stay on the road past the HOS limits to get that cargo delivered.  And get paid.
  3. Finally, construction zones are filled with hazards for all drivers; however, these behemoth vehicles are slow to stop once they get moving and any truck zipping down a freeway into a construction zone will need time and distance to come to a halt. Witnesses in this crash are reporting that the big rig didn’t appear to slow before the crash; however, if there is a question of how much warning this trucker had that a construction zone was in his path.

Our sincere condolences to everyone hurt or harmed in this crash and to their loved ones, families, and friends.

Forced Arbitration for Workers’ Claims? July 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

August 5th, 2014 by admin

Last week, President Obama issued an executive order on “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”  Here’s what it does for American workers.

What the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Does For Workers

What the president has done is issue an order that prohibits any corporation that has a contract with the federal government of $1,000,000 minimum (for all sorts of things) from forcing arbitration upon their employees when those workers are pursing claims for discrimination or for sexual assault (rape) or harassment (both civil rights violations). It bans forced arbitration for all disputes filed under Title VII.

This new Executive Order will also:

  • Make prospective contractors reveal their past 3 years of federal labor law violations if they want to be awarded a federal government contract.
  • Block companies that have violated labor laws over and over again from getting federal government contracts.
  • Forces companies to give their workers backup information on their work to make sure they are getting paid what they are supposed to be paid (overtime hours, total hours worked, etc.)

What This Means to Workers in Indiana and Illinois

This executive order impacts big companies that have deals, or want deals, with the federal government. There are a lot of these big corporations in our area, and many workers in our communities will be impacted by this change.

Workers in companies that do business with the federal government can make sure they are getting paid what they are supposed to be paid. Now, they will be able to protect themselves against discrimination as well as pursuing claims for things like harassment on the job in open court and the standard litigation process.

What is Forced Arbitration?

The employee is required by the employer to waive their right to sue the company in a civil lawsuit, or to become part of a class action lawsuit, and to opt instead for “arbitration” of any claims against the company. In arbitration, the result is final, and the decision is confidential. Companies love arbitration and like to include forced arbitration clauses in their employment agreements.

Why is Forced Arbitration Bad?

Forced arbitration takes the dispute out of the traditional justice system and places it into the “arbitration system.” Here, different rules of evidence apply. There is NO right to appeal. The decision will not be made by one’s peers but instead by a single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. No one knows what happens in the arbitration, it’s private. The results are private, too.

Forced arbitration is notorious for favorable results for big corporations and being less than fair to the Average Joe Citizen. All the protections of the civil system, with trial court judges overseeing the accumulation of evidence through the discovery process, and having a jury trial to decide justice — these are removed in a forced arbitration.

This new executive order is good news for American workers because it takes away forced arbitration of worker disputes in many situations.

However, much still needs to be done.

Forced arbitration is still a huge problem in this country. This is one step forward to the absolute bar of forced arbitration in this country and this is a good thing.

From Citizen.org:

If your bank, cell phone provider, employer or other company that you conduct business with violated your rights or cheated you, would you want to retain your ability to take them to court? Many companies are now using fine print to stop you and other consumers from doing so. … These corporations put “forced arbitration” clauses in their terms of service to block consumers from holding them accountable in court. If consumers (or employees) are hurt or ripped off by these companies, they must take their claims to private, secretive tribunals that favor the companies.

Go here to surf through their Rogue’s Gallery of Companies Using Forced Arbitration.

____________________________

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE FAIR PAY AND SAFE WORKPLACES EXECUTIVE ORDER HERE. 

Update on U.S. Car Recalls — Recalls from GM, BMW, Nissan

July 31st, 2014 by admin

General Motors continues to recall its products because of defects that can harm or kill people on U.S. roads today. We’re monitoring this situation, which shockingly keeps rising with more and more recall announcements for GM particularly.

However, other car manufacturers are also recalling thousands and thousands of cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs that are being driven in our communities and across the nation. Literally millions of vehicles on the roads today are being driven with dangerous flaws which could cause a crash and serious injury or even death to the car’s occupants as well as others on the road.

If you have been involved in an accident involving any of these vehicles, then you need to investigate whether or not you have a legal claim against the car maker for damages resulting from that crash.

This is true even if you were held to be at fault in the crash because more and more cases are being uncovered where liability was wrongfully placed upon a driver who was a victim of one of these design defects.

This week’s update on US Car Recalls:

1. BMW

This month, BMW recalled 1.6 million of its 3 Series models due to defective passenger side front air bags. It seems that the air bags sometimes explode because of a faulty air bag inflater manufactured by parts maker Takata Corporation in Japan.

This is the same part by the same Japanese manufacturer that has been the cause of so many other car recalls for problems with air bags. BMW 3 Series model years 2000 to 2006 are subject to the recall; around 600,000 are being driven here in the United States.

2. Nissan

A few days ago, Nissan voluntarily recalled over 226,000 more vehicles due to a problem with air bags installed in the cars. This is the same Takata air bag that is the reason for the BMW recall this month. The air bag inflators can blow up the air bag without warning, apparently, causing wrecks as well as damaging occupants with flying bits of metal thrust into the car’s interior compartment by the force of the unexpected inflation of the air bag.

Nissan has recalled over 650,000 vehicles thus far because of the air bag problem. The current Nissan recall involves:

2002 Infiniti I35
2002 Maxima
2002 Pathfinder
2002 Sentra
2003 Maxima
2003 Pathfinder
2003 Sentra
2002 Infiniti QX42
2003 Infiniti QX42
2003 Infiniti I35
2003 Infiniti FX 35
2003 Infinite FX 45
2004 Sentra

3. General Motors

As of this past week, GM has recalled 29,000,000 cars sold around the world with almost all of these recalls (approximately 26 million) being driven by American drivers. This month, GM even began recalling products it has just sold as 2014 and 2015 model year Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks were among those GM vehicles recalled by the car company.

There are simply too many model names and numbers to list in this post. If you or a loved one have a GM vehicle, or if you were involved in an accident involving a GM product in the past ten or more years, then please investigate whether or not that model is now subject to recall. AOL is maintaining an ongoing list of these GM recalls on their website (here) and CNN is also keeping a running record of the various makes and models that have been recalled by General Motors (here).

General Motors is being investigated on several fronts (including criminal ones) for the company’s knowledge over a long period of time that there were dangerous parts being placed into their cars and GM allowing these products to be sold in the U.S. marketplace regardless of the risk of serious injury or death resulting from those flaws.

For more information on GM’s intentional hiding of these dangers and the tragedies that have resulted, read our earlier post, “General Motors NYT Expose: Documents Reveal GM Knew of Dangers and Kept Silent.”

Below: an infographic showing General Motors Recalls — it is not complete:

 

Helmets Do Not Stop Child Head Injuries and Concussions

July 29th, 2014 by admin

There’s an article from Slate magazine that has been published in various news publications around the country (e.g., Miami Herald, Huffington Post) which points out something that parents should know: those children’s helmets that you see sold everywhere, sized for infants through teenagers and young adults, are not going to protect your child from every kind of head injury.

The article, “There’s Something About Helmets You Might Not Know,” points out that helmets are not designed to be concussion-proof and that parents should not assume that their child is completely protected from a head injury just because they have a helmet.

Concussions May Happen Even With a Helmet

The Slate article references an 2013 study by the Institute of Medicine (read it here) that confirms that the way that helmets are currently made, the product design isn’t going to stop someone wearing that helmet from suffering a concussion while they are riding a bicycle or play a school sport like soccer, hockey, or football.

 

Helmets Are Still a Smart Move

The fact that helmets are not being designed at this point in time to protect wearers from concussion injuries does not mean that helmets are not a safety protection that does work to protect the wearer from harm. Consider, for example, this month’s warning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), advising people who are riding bicycles in the nice summer weather to wear a helmet.

According to the NHTSA, anyone riding a bicycle should “wear a properly-fitted helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.”

Helmets may not prevent all injuries, but they can lessen the damage suffered during an accident. Consider the first-person account published in Yahoo News by Beth Greenfield last week; she described a bike accident where she did suffer injuries but they were significantly different than those suffered by a friend who was also biking but crashed without the protection of a helmet. The friend experienced massive brain trauma and a long term recovery; the writer did not.

Sports-related concussions in our children are a real problem in this country. This is a recognized national problem to be solved: for instance, President Obama hosted a national White House summit on the issue in May 2014.

Helmet design is key to finding better protections for our kids.

However, as Andrew Sullivan points out in his column, part of the issue with concussions and traumatic brain injury is the way a sharp and sudden blow to the head causes a brain injury: the brain moves within the human skull and is harmed by the force of that movement when the impact forces the brain to collide with the skull itself. That collision within the human head is the problem: that is where the brain Is hurt.

School sports and minor bike accidents can cause the brain to collide against the human skull internally in an event that isn’t thought to be life-altering or serious to the victim (or their parents, coaches, teachers, etc.) at the time. Nevertheless, these silent injuries to the brain can have permanent and severe repercussions.

Sullivan calls them “micro-concussions.” And as he points out, the bike helmet especially will not protect you or your child from them.

In fact, one neurosurgeon in Great Britain warns that bike helmets, as they are currently designed, offer much less protection than many may assume; he considers them “flimsy” and of little protective value to the wearer.

Should your child wear a helmet? Yes.
Should coaches, parents, teachers, caretakers, and others be aware and understand that anytime a child suffers any type of blow to the head they need to be monitored for minor brain harm? Yes.

Should you rely upon a helmet to keep your child safe?  No.  If you allow your child to ride a bike, or to play a sport, then you must be aware and alert to the risk of injury and make sure that those responsible for overseeing that child in any sport activities are closing monitoring play for the possibility of head injuries, even minor ones.