Articles Posted in Vehicle Defects

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The massive recall of defective Takata airbags last year underscored a major ongoing issue with unsafe motor vehicles and related devices that has dogged the auto industry in recent years.airbag

The one bit of good news is that since awareness of the problem has grown, vehicle owners are informed about proper corrective actions to ensure the defective airbags (prone to high-force explosion even in low-impact collisions) can be removed from the vehicles. However, The New York Times recently highlighted a startling scenario in which vehicle owners may have no clue one of these ticking time bomb devices is sitting right in front of their faces.

Used cars. It is legal per federal law for air bags or other parts that may be subject to recall to be taken out of vehicle that have been in collisions and sold to junkyards and even repair shops. Neither the shops nor the buyers may have any idea that the devices were recalled – and there is no government agency that monitors such transactions to be able to tell them. Further, there don’t appear to be any states that have passed any laws barring the reuse of recalled auto parts.  Continue reading →

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A federal appeals court reversed a $3 million judgment in favor of a personal injury plaintiff who alleged a defective vehicle caused him to suffer serious injuries in a 2012 car accident. The court ruled that expert witness testimony pertaining to the speed control cable should not have been admitted. Specifically, the appellate court ruled, the precedent set in the 1993 case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals meant the trial court had a duty to perform certain gatekeeping functions with regard to its expert witnesses, and yet the court failed to do so.gavel

According to court records from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the most recent case, plaintiff was driving his pickup truck, which he had recently purchased, on a road in West Virginia. He was traveling about 50 mph when he realized he was unable to slow down when he let up on the accelerator pedal. He tried to slow the pickup by applying the brakes, but this did not work. In order to avoid hitting anyone else, he turned the truck off the road, drove over a curb and crashed his vehicle into a brick wall of a local business. The tires continued spinning for about half a minute after the engine shut down.

There was no indication the vehicle previously had problems with the accelerator, throttle or cruise control.  Continue reading →

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Purchasing a car with 5-star safety ratings may reduce the risk of severe injury or death in a Naples car accident , but it doesn’t give motorists a free pass to drive recklessly or get distracted when they are operating these highly rated vehicles. Safety ratings only help consumers make an informed decision on what vehicle is most equipped to withstand a rollover crash or other dangerous rear-end or forward collision impacted crash.

Our Cape Coral car accident lawyers agree that car safety is an important consideration when purchasing a vehicle but nothing can guarantee safety like motorists playing it safe every time they get behind the wheel. However, consumers are encouraged to check out crash test ratings before you purchase if you want to reduce the risk of injury to you or your family in a collision involving a drunk, distracted or aggressive driver in South Florida.
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Family Car Guide recently reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in the process of finishing up crash testing for 2011 models but has recently released the list of more than seventy 2012 models that will be put through rigorous testing next year. The 2012 vehicle list will be comprised of 42 passenger cars, 2 minivans, 8 pickup trucks and 22 SUVs and crossovers which is over 80 percent of the vehicle models on the projected market for 2012.
The following are samples of some of the 2012 vehicles being tested:
-Family cars: Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac CTS, Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300, Toyota Camry, Volvo S60 and the Volkswagen Passat.
-Minivans: Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country.
-SUVs and crossovers: Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sorento and Subaru Outback.

For a full list of which vehicles will be crash tested and assessed a star rating for 2012, visit NHTSA online.
In a recent press release, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated “Our 5-star ratings program is a critical resource to help consumers make the best possible decisions about the cars they want to buy. People should remember: More stars, safer cars.”

In recent years, crash avoidance technology has been an important added feature in warning motorists that they are about to leave the roadway, veer over the center line or hit someone or something head-on or from behind. For the first time ever, the NHTSA will make recommendations to consumers about vehicles containing forward collision warnings (FCW), lane departure warnings (LDW) or both features. Last model year crash avoidance technologies were offered in 45 vehicles as optional equipment. There are 68 models for 2012 that have FCW (18), LDW (12) or both features (38) standard equipped in the vehicle.

Safercar.gov will post the results of the Government 5-star safety ratings program for the selected 2012 models once the crash tests have been performed. You will also be able to find the NHTSA’s recommendations for which vehicles have the best crash avoidance technologies for 2012 models available on this website.
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Defective products in Fort Myers create substantial hazards for consumers. Holiday weekends can be a particularly dangerous time for both defective product injuries and premise liability injuries in Fort Myers and elsewhere in South Florida.

Our Fort Myers accident lawyers encourage you to check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for defective product news when making a substantial purchase, such as a crib, gas grill or portable pool. And to use extra caution in supervising children around swimming pools this holiday weekend and throughout the year.
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Recent defective product news in South Florida includes:

-A 1-year-old child drowned in the family swimming pool after getting out through a dog door in Deltona Beach, Pet Access Dangers reported. It was the sixth reported drowning in Volusia County so far this year. The site reports 70 percent of preschoolers who drown are in the care of both parents at the time and 75 percent are missing from sight for 5 minutes or less. Even portable pools may pose a significant risk. CNN reported recently that 244 submersion incidents have been reported involving small portable pools in the last decade — in 209 cases the accident resulted in fatal injuries.

-Those concerned about defective vehicle injuries in Fort Myers should be aware that the Detroit News recently reported a recall of 50,000 Cadillac SRX crossovers, which need to have the airbag reprogrammed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the right side airbag won’t deploy in a crash if no one is in the front seat — as a result, backseat passengers may not be fully protected.

-The Consumer Products Safety Commission is warning about the risks of small fireworks, such as bottle rockets and firecrackers, whether defective or not. “From purchase to ignition, know how you and your family can stay safe and which fireworks are allowed in your state if fireworks are part of your July 4th celebration,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Never assume that a fireworks device is safe based on its size and never allow young children to play with or light fireworks. By knowing the dangers of all types of fireworks, consumers can prevent tragedies.”

Last year testing of fireworks shipments found that 43 percent were not compliant with the Federal Hazardous Substance Act, meaning users could be at increased risk of serious or fatal injury.

-The government has also announced a recall of 460,000 bottles and jugs of Pourable NAPAfire and FIREGEL. The gel fuel distributed by Napa Home and Garden of Duluth, Georgia can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto people and nearby objects, creating the risk of Fort Myers burn injuries and of structure fires. The product was sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Shopko, Restoration Hardware, and other stores nationwide. Consumers should stop using the fuel and return any unused portion for a full refund.
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Automotive Discovery reports lawmakers are considering a pair of proposed bills that would limit the rights of accident victims in crashes involving defective vehicles.

The bills (Florida Senate Bill 142 and House Bill 201) may place undue blame on drivers involved in car accidents in Fort Myers and elsewhere in the U.S., instead of keeping the blame on manufacturers for their faulty products.
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Our Fort Myers defective products attorneys know that hundreds of recalls are issued each year involving defects. Many of those have the potential to either cause an accident or increase the risk of serious or fatal injury in the event of an accident. Defective car parts and manufacturing can pose potentially deadly threats when car makers put profits ahead of people.

The two bills proposed in legislature will attempt to allocate blame. Currently, Florida law places blame in the lap of the manufacturer in accidents involving defective vehicles.

The bill “changes Florida law to permit juries in a Florida courtroom to hear all of the facts leading up to a products liability case, thereby allowing that jury to apportion fault,” said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, sponsor of SB 142. “It’s an opportunity to put all the facts on the table.”

Richter is also backing insurers in opposition of a bill that would require them to pay upfront replacement costs in the event of an accident — current law permits them to withhold part of the payment until proof that repairs are being made.

The occurrence of crashworthiness-related cases have increased nearly 400 percent in Florida over the last 10 years while national cases are down roughly 50 percent, according to The Florida Bar News.

“We Floridians buy these vehicles and we are led to believe that they will be safe, and safe from inherent defects that will cause secondary issues that can cause even more damage, injuries to people,” said Sen. Maria Sachs, R-Delray Beach. “Those manufacturers should be held accountable whether it’s a tractor, or a motor vehicle.”

Regardless of driver error, the company should still be held liable for producing a defective product.

With the new bill effective in Florida courts, drivers may fall victim to faulty products twice, once in a car accident and once in court. The house bill will not apply to law enforcement first-responders involved in car accidents, according to Automotive Discovery. The average motorist should be afforded the same protections.

We urge you to contact our Florida State Lawmakers to oppose this bill and keep responsibility for faulty products where it belongs — with the manufacturers. No driver should be punished for an accident in which a defective product influenced the outcome.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident involving a defective or recalled product, it is more important than ever to contact an experienced attorney to help you fight for your rights. Don’t let the court system blame you for poor manufacturing.
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Today’s new cars are safer than ever before. But some cars remain safer than others and what you drive can have a significant impact on the safety of you and your family in the event of a serious car accident in Cape Coral, Fort Myers or the surrounding area.

Our Cape Coral personal injury lawyers want you to know about an improved government rating system and encourage you to make it part of your review process when considering the purchase of a new vehicle.

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For the first time, the government’s 5-Star Safety Ratings System includes an overall vehicle rating. New, more rigorous crash tests are also performed using female crash-test dummies, in addition to the standard male test-dummies that have been in use for years.

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After announcing within the last two weeks that it was recalling a huge number of various models of vehicles due to problems with the accelerator pedal, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a worldwide recall of as many as 437,000 hybrid cars, including its popular Prius model, because of what may be problems with the braking system.

Additionally, Japanese news sources were reporting on Monday that Toyota was also gearing up to warn owners of the Lexus HS250h, also a hybrid model, that their cars may require similar repairs. This revelation will only further damage the Japanese auto maker by dragging its luxury line of vehicles into the same quagmire, and continue to damage the reputation of what had generally been regarded as one of the most quality-conscious car makers in the world.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received about 100 complaints involving the brakes of the Prius model. Two involved crashes resulting in injuries. (It is being reported that Prius models manufactured since May 2009 are not effected by the potential recall). Prius owners have reported what seemed to be a slight lag time between depressing the brake pedal and the actual slowing of the cars, as well as a pulsing of the brake pedal when braking on a bumpy road. While Toyota has said it is investigating the purported problems, it has also said it does not believe that there are safety concerns with the cars, and are questioning whether a problem actually exists.

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LogoToyota%20%281%29.jpgIf you are the owner of one of several different models of Toyota vehicles, your car, pick-up or SUV may be affected by a massive safety recall undertaken by the Japanese automaker.

In September 2009, Toyota announced the recall of 4.3 million vehicles it said were susceptible to an accelerator pedal that could become stuck. At the time, Toyota indicated the fault of the problem was related to the car’s floor mats. Subsequently, the manufacture released an announcement that the fix would involve “trimming” the pedal mechanism. However, a Toyota website now says “In rare instances, there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position”, and makes no mention of the floor mats.

In January, an additional 600,000 Toyota vehicles were added to the recall list. Toyota, which has enjoyed a long-standing reputation as an industry leader in quality and customer satisfaction, shocked the automotive world and its dealer network when it told its dealers to stop selling eight models, including the Camry and Corolla sedans, two of the biggest sellers in the U.S. market. Other models affected by the move include the RAV4 and Highlander sport-utility vehicles and the Tundra pickup truck. They also announced they were halting production of the recalled vehicles for an undetermined amount of time.

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The Florida injury lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, begin 2009 with a new toll-free phone number, 1-800-Dial-BLS.

Whether you are injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident or are the victim of a drunk driving crash or other personal-injury or wrongful-death situation, representatives are available 24 hours a day at 1-800-Dial-BLS to review your case.

The firm has four decades of experience handling car accidents and other personal injury cases throughout Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Arcadia, Port Charlotte, Venice and Sebring.

Started in 1971 by Bruce L. Scheiner, the family-run firm is dedicated to representing Florida residents who have been injured by the negligent or careless acts of other individuals, businesses or insurance companies.

The firm has never worked for big businesses or insurance companies and practices exclusively in the area of personal injury law. Unlike many other firms, which split their attention between personal injury cases and other types of law, like divorce, real estate and criminal cases, Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, is a team of almost 100 professionals dedicated to fighting for justice for those how have been injured or killed in Florida.

Bruce L. Scheiner still hand selects each case the firm represents. Together with his wife Cheryl, who runs the office, and son, Preston J. Scheiner, who is an associate attorney, the Scheiner team is dedicated to getting you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve.

After four decades of service in Southwest Florida, there promise to you is simple: at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, you’ll pay nothing unless we win.

Look for the new toll-free hotline throughout Southwest Florida, on billboards, on television, in the yellow pages and online.
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Some 148,000 people suffer a car accident each year without ever getting behind the wheel: They are injured by a closing car door in what the federal government has announced is the most common non-moving injury inflicted by automobiles.

For the first time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has collected data for non-traffic related death and injuries and non-crash related death and injuries to the ways in which people are seriously injured or killed in or around automobiles.

“It shows you don’t have to be in a moving vehicle to be seriously injured,” said Bruce L. Scheiner, founder and senior attorney at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers.

Florida Injury Lawyers point out such cases can involve legal questions surrounding car accidents, bicycle and pedestrian injuries, property and premise liability law, slip and fall issues, injuries to children, vehicle defect, defective product law and other legal issues.

“The bottom line is, if you are seriously injured you should contact a lawyer to examine whether you have a case,” Scheiner said.

Such dangers are now being tabulated by the federal government, including: falls from vehicle, battery acid and antifreeze burns, jack accidents, tire explosions, window strangulation, and those injured or killed by being locked in the trunk.

“I don’t think anyone until now had an accurate sense of the extent of vehicle-related injuries and fatalities that did not occur on a public highway,” NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson told Forbes Magazine. “It certainly underscores the risks that exist in a vehicle whether it’s on the road or off, and I hope it will call some attention to some of those issues.”

The new statistics also shed light on what the government terms Nontraffic crash fatalities and injuries, including single-vehicle crashes on private roads, collisions with pedestrians on driveways and two-vehicle crashes in parking facilities.

Bicyclists and pedestrians account for about half (614 of 1,159) of non-traffic crash fatalities and about a third (34,000 of 98,000) of non-traffic injuries.

Backovers, where drivers injure or kill a non-occupant by reversing over them, account for another 19 percent of fatalities and 14 percent of injuries.

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Annual average of non-crash fatalities by type:

Struck by falling vehicle: 168 Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust: 147 Fall from vehicle: 88 Vehicle fire: 57 Struck by Object: 44 Hyperthermia (excessive heat): 37 Hypothermia (excessive cold): 14 Poisoning: 9 Exploding Tire: 7 Vehicle window asphyxia: 5 Electrocution: 4 Drowning: 3 Closed in trunk: 3 Radiator fluid burns: 2
The government reported that 22 percent of injuries (164,000 of 743,000) occur as people enter or exit a vehicle: falls (84,000), striking a door or door frame (36,000) and in other situations such as sprains or strains while exiting (44,000).
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