Archive for the ‘Auto Accidents’ Category

Current Indiana and Illinois Laws on Distracted Driving: Dangerous But Not Against the Law (yet)

September 11th, 2014 by admin

Distracting Driving Laws in Indiana and Illinois

Illinois

  1. All drivers are banned from using their cell phones as hand-held. Hands free is still allowed except for novice drivers.
  2. Learner’s permit holders and drivers under the age of 19 years (novice drivers) are not allowed to use their phones at all (hands held or hands free).
  3. School bus drivers are not allowed to use their cell phones at all.
  4. All drivers are not to text while driving.
  5. No use of cellphones by any driver in a school zone or a construction zone.
  6. Primary enforcement for all offenses.

Indiana

  1. There is no ban for hand-held cell phones or hands free phones for drivers unless they are new to driving.
  2. Drivers under the age of 18 years (novice drivers) are not to use phones at all (hand-held or hands free).
  3. No drivers are to text while driving.
  4. Primary enforcement for all offenses.

Police in Indiana Aren’t Ticketing for Distracted Driving?

This summer the Indiana State Police released data from 2013 and the news wasn’t good: it appears that law enforcement is not ticketing many with violations of the Indiana distracted driving laws. Reports are that police find the laws difficult to enforce as written.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, many more tickets have been issued for using phones while driving (over 6700 in Illinois compared to 186 tickets issued by Indiana during the same time period).

What’s going on? In Indiana, it’s illegal to TEXT while driving but it’s okay to use other kinds of apps — like Facebook or Google Maps — even though that is distracting to the driver as well.

 

Dangers of Distracted Driving

From Distraction.gov:

  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
  • At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (NOPUS)
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. (UMTRI)

Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving Are a Real Danger Here

The Facebook-related distracting driving case out of North Dakota (see our previous post) has resulted in a 20-year-old facing murder charges as a result of a fatal traffic accident where she was checking Facebook photos on her phone while driving at a high speed (85 mph).

In Indiana, it would not be illegal for a 20 year old to be driving along and checking Facebook photos on her phone.  (It is against the law in Illinois.)

This doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous and that distracted driving may well be the cause of serious accidents and traffic fatalities in our part of the country.

Please consider NOT using your phone while driving regardless of the legalities: it’s just too dangerous.

National Attention On Facebook Distracted Driving Homicide Case

September 9th, 2014 by admin

 

Perhaps you or your kids heard about the horrific crash in North Dakota where two lives were destroyed.  The case is making the national news now, because the driver is facing murder charges.

It all happened when a pretty 20-year-old woman was busy checking her Facebook page on her phone while she was driving. Maybe she didn’t notice she was speeding along at 85 mph while she was checking out her phone screen for Facebook photos.

Obviously, she didn’t see the car she rear-ended at high speed, where the 89-year-old woman who was innocently driving along was killed, having died at the scene.

Imagine the horror here. The young woman is now facing criminal homicide charges and will likely see jail time. She’s probably going to face civil claims too based upon wrongful death law. Her family is forever harmed.

And the accident victim’s family must deal with the loss of their loved one, family that includes 8 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. They must hope that their beloved relative didn’t suffer in the crash, they must deal with the sudden shocking pain of loss that these crashes bring.

This accident didn’t happen in Indiana, but it could have. Far too many people here and in Illinois are on their smartphones while they’re driving, thinking that it’s not that dangerous and they’re good drivers, things will be okay. It’s a dangerous mistake and anyone doing this is risking a major crash — where they may survive with minor injuries while others perish, like today’s example.

Homicide Charges for Using Phone While Driving

In the above case, the state prosecutors have decided to pursue homicide charges against the 20 year old driver, after they got a warrant to review her phone records and learned she was surfing Facebook at the time of the crash. That, coupled with evidence of no skid marks at the scene of the accident, which means she didn’t brake before the crash because she didn’t see the grandmother’s car before she hit it.

All across the nation, the seriousness of using your phone while you are driving is becoming more obvious and authorities are becoming less tolerant. We can expect more prosecutors to file criminal charges in crashes involving distracting driving.

Criminal charges, however, will not provide financial help for those innocent victims of a distracted driving crash. Civil cases must be pursued for these victims under wrongful death and personal injury laws, and if necessary, lawsuits must be filed and aggressively fought for justice in these situations.

Back to School Safety: Keeping Kids Safe

September 2nd, 2014 by admin

It’s time for the kids to go back to school and part of each new school year is getting settled into new routines for getting there and back.

Some parents may drive their kids to school. Other moms and dads will put their children on the school bus. Students may be going back to school by walking there, or riding their bicycles.

While Student Safety in getting to and from school is always important, it’s imperative that at the start of the new School Year, that kids and their parents make sure that everyone knows how important school transportation safety is for everyone.

School Transportation Safety Tips

Here are some School Transportation Safety Tips for children of all ages:

1. Kids should walk on the sidewalk, and if there’s no sidewalk then they need to know to walk on the side of the road where they are facing traffic.

2. Kids need to know to always look twice — left and right — before crossing the street.

3. Parents should do a practice walk with their younger children if they are going to be walking to the local elementary this year.

4. Children that ride their bicycle to school should wear a helmet.

5. If children are riding bikes to school, then they need to know the rules for riding on city streets.

6. When on a bicycle, each child should ride single file on the right side of the road, traveling the same way as the traffic is moving.

7. Parents who are entrusting their kids to the school bus driver should walk their kids to the bus stop their first few days, so they get adept at waiting for and getting on the school bus.

8. Kids need to know that school buses are to be respected; they should never cross right in front of a school bus and they need to make sure that the bus driver is able to see them from his driver’s seat.

9. Backpacks should be worn with both straps being used, so their weight is evenly distributed.

10. Backpacks should not weigh over 20% of your child’s body weight, or the child may be hampered in movement from the excessive weight.

Why is this important? Because school-aged children are vulnerable to accidents that cause serious injury or even death as they are on their way to school or return home after a day of classes.

From the Centers for Disease Control:

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.

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.

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:

 

General Motors NYT Expose: Documents Reveal GM Knew of Dangers and Kept Silent

July 17th, 2014 by admin

We know that personal injury lawsuits are sometimes the only way that people can be protected over those dedicated, even obsessed, with making more money and the pursuit of profits. It is why we do what we do (read our firm philosophy here). So, when the New York Times expose regarding the recent GM recalls was published this week, it only served to energize our passion for helping injury victims while enflaming our sense of justice: how can General Motors Corporation, of all the car makers out there, have ever thought that it could evade justice regarding these product defects?

1968’s Larsen v. General Motors: Landmark Case

Consider the Larsen case of 1968, the lawsuit that made GM liable for its cars: there, a man named David Larsen was driving his GM-built Chevolet Corvair when he was hit head-on and died horrifically as the car’s steering wheel was thrust by the force of impact into Mr. Larsen’s head.

GM’s design of the Corvair’s steering wheel column was shown to be defective. While General Motors argued that car manufacturers had no duty to design their products to make sure the car had protections for the occupants in the event of a crash, the court ruled otherwise.

Larsen was the cornerstone case that demanded car companies build their cars with safety in mind. Larsen has been cited by judges in literally 1000s of courts since the opinion was first issued over 45 years ago — and it was GENERAL MOTORS that was the defendant in that historic precedent.

From the opinion:

General Motors contends that it has no duty to produce a vehicle in which it is safe to collide or which is accident-proof or incapable of injurious misuse. It views its duty as extending only to producing a vehicle that is reasonably fit for its intended use or for the purpose for which it was made and that is free from hidden defects; and that the intended use of a vehicle and the purpose for which it is manufactured do not include its participation in head-on collisions or any other type of impact, regardless of the manufacturer’s ability to foresee that such collisions may occur. ….

The intended use and purpose of an automobile is to travel on the streets and highways, which travel more often than not is in close proximity to other vehicles and at speeds that carry the possibility, probability, and potential of injury-producing impacts. The realities of the intended and actual use are well known to the manufacturer and to the public and these realities should be squarely faced by the manufacturer and the courts. We perceive of no sound reason, either in logic or experience, nor any command in precedent, why the manufacturer should not be held to a reasonable duty of care in the design of its vehicle consonant with the state of the art to minimize the effect of accidents.

The manufacturers are not insurers but should be held to a standard of reasonable care in design to provide a reasonably safe vehicle in which to travel. Ford Motor Company v. Zahn, supra. Our streets and highways are increasingly hazardous for the intended normal use of travel and transportation. While advances in highway engineering and non-access, dual highways have considerably increased the safety factor on a miles traveled ratio to accidents, the constant increasing number of vehicles gives impetus to the need of designing and constructing a vehicle that is reasonably safe for the purpose of such travel. At least, the unreasonable risk should be eliminated and reasonable steps in design taken to minimize the injury-producing effect of impacts.

New York Times Reports GM Documents Show General Motors Knew of Defects As People Were Dying

In a report written by Rebecca R. Ruiz and Danielle Ivory this week, the New York Times is reporting (”Documents Show General Motors Kept Silent on Fatal Crashes,” July 15, 2014) their investigation has revealed that while people were dying from product defects now subject to recall and federal agencies were asking GM questions about these fatal crashes, General Motors was shrugging its shoulders to the federal questioning while internally, its own people had determined that the car’s components were causing the deaths.

In sum, GM may had hidden known flaws in its products, and continued to sell them for well over a decade, and then gone so far as to keep silent about this when the federal safety people came to question GM about what was happening with its cars.

Read the entire NYT expose here.

Think of the billions of dollars GM took in over those 10 years — was it really worth the deaths of all these people?

When people argue that personal injury law isn’t a worthy endeavor and is, in and of itself, motivated by a love of profits, consider Larsen and what is happening right now.

It is through personal injury litigation that those who have been hurt by GM’s wrongdoing will find justice — and it is through personal injury cases that have been filed and will be filed in the future that General Motors will be made to understand that this kind of behavior is intolerable in the United States using the only language that GM apparently understands: the bottom line.

GM Car Crash Since 1997? Do You Have a Claim Against General Motors?

July 3rd, 2014 by admin

The recalls from General Motors Corporation (GM) just keep coming and within the news releases from the GM CEO, it’s assumed that more GM recalls are coming in the near future. This week, for instance, the car maker issued another recall announcement where SIX additional recalls of its vehicles are issued.

This week’s recall announcement alone would be a major recall. GM recalled 7.6 million GM vehicles — and especially concerning about this week’s GM Recall was the revelation that cars made and sold almost 20 years ago are dangerous.

That’s right. For almost two decades, GM has been selling cars, and the American public has been buying GM cars (and trucks and minivans) that we now know to be defective and unsafe.

 

 

1997 – 2005 Chevy Malibu and 2003 – 2014 Cadillac CTS Recalls

Specifically, the Chevrolet Malibu has been recalled for model years 1997 through 2005 in this recall. Also, the Cadillac CTS model years 2003 through 2014 has been recalled. Why? Both the Chevy Malibu and the Cadillac CTS have “unintended ignition key rotation” — which is dangerous and a potentially deadly defect.

In fact, this ignition switch problem is the same product defect that resulted in some of the other MILLIONS of GM model vehicles being recalled in the past few months. It is this same ignition switch defect that forms the basis of the controversial GM “victims compensation fund” that was announced this week, providing settlement offers to some GM car owners (not all, and not for every situation).

Check Your General Motors Vehicle Here Using Your VIN

If you can find the vehicle identification number for the GM model (hint: if not in or on the car, check your insurance paperwork, auto insurance policies will have the VIN), then you can go online and check to see if your General Motors vehicle has been recalled.

Go HERE to input the VIN and find out at the General Motors website.

 

What Does This Mean? Millions of Crash Claims and Accident Causes May Be Reexamined for GM Liability

As more and more General Motors cars and GM trucks and GM minivans get recalled, the time period for these model years seems to be increasing. It is shocking to consider that models like the beloved Chevy Malibu (so popular that if you haven’t owned one, you know someone who has) have been dangerously defective since 1997.

Which means that wrecks have happened because of these product defects over the years and there may be claims paid and verdicts issued where the fault was not found to lie with General Motors. We wrote earlier about the Texas driver who had a felony conviction on her record after a fatal car crash involving a GM car, where no one knew the GM vehicle defect had caused the accident and the resulting death of her passenger (and fiance).

Now, she is in the process of pursuing justice against GM and getting that criminal record erased. See: “GM Recalls: What is General Motors’ Liability for Crashes Going Back 10 Years?

Her story will be among many others where GM has evaded justice in car crashes and traffic accidents for years as these serious car defects were not revealed to the public and GM just kept selling cars.

Products Liability Law Exists for Justice

In both Indiana and Illinois, state products liability personal injury law provides the basis for victims of defective products, like these GM vehicles and the dangerous components within them, to find justice from the businesses that chose profits over people.

If you have questions regarding a GM recall issue, then please feel free to contact our offices for more information.

You can also read our past coverages of this evolving GM Recall Crisis, including details on what cars are involved in the various recalls:

  1. GM Recalls Millions of GM Cars and SUVs: Congress Is Investigating while Justice Department Begins Criminal Investigation – Is Your GM Car Dangerous?
  2. GM Recall: GM Ignition Switch Dangers Grow – Moves to Stop People from Driving these Cars, Get Victims’ Claims Recognized
  3. RECALLS JUST KEEP HAPPENING: CAR MAKERS LIKE GENERAL MOTORS MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY, MANY SERIOUS INJURIES AND DEATHS