Auto Recalls and Cover-Ups

Last month, Toyota reached a $1.2 billion settlement with the United States Justice Department to resolve allegations that the automaker had covered up defects in its cars. Of course, this was after earlier paying $66 million for failing to timely report problems with unintended acceleration in its vehicles. 

This month, General Motors is under fire for concealing defects in the ignition switches of more than 1.37 million vehicles which has been linked to 13 deaths. And, the U.S. Department has also filed a criminal action again G.M. alleging it concealed brake problems in its vehicles. Last year, Ford was fined $17.4 million dollars (the maximum fine at the time) for delaying a recall of the Ford Escape when the automaker knew the gas pedals could become stuck.

There appears to be an alarming trend of automakers covering up defects and delaying recalls. By law, automakers must report safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within 5 days of becoming aware of an issue. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can open its own investigation if it notices a trend in consumer complaints or accident information.

 But while the NHTSA is supposed to be the watchdog for automakers, the agency’s staffing has been steadily decreasing in recent years.  In 2002, the agency had 64 employees responsible for managing defect investigations. Today, the staff has been reduced to 51 with only 28 investigators. And the agency’s budget of $10 million has not been increased in almost a decade. Is the reduction of personnel in these important offices - and thus the lack of bodies to police the industry - an unintended or intended - consequence of government cutbacks? 

With these budget and staffing levels, the NHTSA must monitor the 248 million vehicles on the road, effectively sort through the more than 40,000 consumer complaints about vehicles it receives each year and search for emerging defects in the tremendous amount of information it receives pursuant to the TREAD Act.  Recalls are expensive and detrimental to the automaker’s image so it seems some have taken the approach of delaying them or hiding defects in hopes that the overburdened NHTSA will never find out. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation in which one of our award-winning lawyers will review your accident, answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights. But, please do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your legal rights. Once the deadline has passed your rights are gone forever. Contact us today at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this formWe only get paid if we win and we advance all case expenses.

New Hope for Patients with Paralysis

In the United States, over 6 million Americans suffer with paralysis. Some of the injuries were induced by traumatic spinal cord injuries. Others were the result of medical conditions such as stroke or medical malpractice in the form of birth injuries and otherwise. 

But, there is new hope in the form of implanted electrical devices. The devices are implanted under the skin of the abdomen and electrodes are then placed at the patient’s spinal cord. Then, the device sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord which basically reboots the neurons and retrains the nerves.  

In a recent study, four patients who were all left paralyzed from car accidents and motorcycle accidents have been able to retrain their damaged nerves allowing them to voluntarily move their affected limbs. While none of the patients have learned to walk again, one of them has been able to stand for as long as 27 minutes. 

Researchers are excited about this breakthrough and the promise it holds for paralysis patients. Of course, we are excited too. We have been fortunate to help clients who have sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries, and we know the toll these types of injuries can take on not only the patient but also the entire family.  To have cause for hope is a beautiful thing.

If you would like to discuss a spinal cord injury case with one of our award-winning attorneys, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. But, do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your rights. Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form and we will contact you. For information on our fees and costs, click here.

New Hope for Patients with Paralysis

In the United States, over 6 million Americans suffer with paralysis. Some of the injuries were induced by traumatic spinal cord injuries. Others were the result of medical conditions such as stroke or medical malpractice in the form of birth injuries and otherwise. 

But, there is new hope in the form of implanted electrical devices. The devices are implanted under the skin of the abdomen and electrodes are then placed at the patient’s spinal cord. Then, the device sends electrical impulses to the spinal cord which basically reboots the neurons and retrains the nerves.  

In a recent study, four patients who were all left paralyzed from car accidents and motorcycle accidents have been able to retrain their damaged nerves allowing them to voluntarily move their affected limbs. While none of the patients have learned to walk again, one of them has been able to stand for as long as 27 minutes. 

Researchers are excited about this breakthrough and the promise it holds for paralysis patients. Of course, we are excited too. We have been fortunate to help clients who have sustained catastrophic spinal cord injuries, and we know the toll these types of injuries can take on not only the patient but also the entire family.  To have cause for hope is a beautiful thing.

If you would like to discuss a spinal cord injury case with one of our award-winning attorneys, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. But, do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your rights. Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form and we will contact you. For information on our fees and costs, click here.

Another Child Safety Seat Recall - Evenflo

Not too long ago, we told you about a recall involving Graco child safety seats, and we told you that recall would likely be expanded to Evenflo child safety seats because the two manufacturers used the same component supplier. It seems we were right. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a recall of more than 1.3 million Evenflo child safety seats.   The buckle on the seat can become stuck in the latched position. Of course, this presents a risk of injury in the event of a crash or other emergency event. The recall involves a number of different models and you can check to see if you own one of the affected seats by clicking here. If you own one of the affected seats, Evenflo will provide a replacement buckle with installation instructions. 

This recall serves as an important reminder about two things. First, the importance of registering your products (whether your purchase them new or used) with the manufacturer so that you are automatically provided important information about recalls and other safety issues. Second, every child should be placed in a proper safety seat. A child safety seat can reduce the risk of a death to an infant by 71% and the risk of death to a toddler by 54% in passenger cars. For trucks, the reduction is 58% for infants and 58 % for toddlers. So be sure to buckle up!

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective product such as a child safety seat or has been involved in a car accident, you only have a limited time to pursue your rights. To discuss your case for free, contact one of our award-winning lawyers today at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or by filling out this formFor additional information on our fees and costs, click here. 

Sexual Abuse and the Roman Catholic Church: The Crisis Continues

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently released its 2013 audit of 127 dioceses/eparchies and the numbers are staggering. Despite increased awareness and a pledge by Pope Francis for greater accountability and vigilance for sexual abuse, there were still 935 allegations of sexual abuse last year alone. Notably, the report indicates 136 of those claims have been substantiated, which is a large number given that sexual abuse is often a swearing contest between victim and perpetrator. In fact, 472 of the claims were unable to be proven either way. 223 claims are still under investigation, 78 were found to be unsubstantiated and there were 27 "other". 

As for the accused, 538 priests and 11 deacons were accused of sexual abuse. 175 others were also accused but their clerical status was unknown. With respect to the victims, 80% were male and only 20% were female. The most victimized were children between the ages of 10 and 14. 

According to the report, in the past 11 years, the Catholic Church has spent almost $3 billion on allegations of sexual abuse. The figure includes settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders, attorneys' fees and other costs. To review a full copy of the audit, click here.

To be sure, sexual abuse is not exclusive to the Roman Catholic Church - we have also represented people in this type of case against several other denominations. . And it can be perpetrated by any authority figure: teachers, coaches, pastors, babysitters, etc. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, contact one of our experienced and award-winning attorneys to help you get the justice you deserve. Simply fill out this form or call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We handle all sexual abuse cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. For more information on our fees and costs, click here.

Lyft, Sidecar and Uber: Great Service But Lots of Legal Issues

Have you seen cars driving around Nashville decked out with a fuzzy pink mustache? The pink mustache is the logo, if you will, for Lyft, a ride-sharing service. Lyft, Ubert and Sidecar all operate in much the same manner.  For Lyft, individuals who need transportation can summon a driver by using their phones -- the companies have apps for their services. A pre-screened driver then picks up the individuals and takes them to their destination. The driver does not charge a fare but instead takes a "donation." The cost associated with these types of ride-sharing services has been estimated to be 30% less than a traditional taxi, which is wonderful for the consumer.

But there are some questions related to these services. While these ride-sharing services are quasi-taxis, they are not currently subject to a number of regulations applicable to taxis and limousines. For instance, the drivers do not have to have chauffeur licenses. While the vehicles must be a 2000 model year or later, the vehicles are not subject to inspections. Unlike Nashville taxis, there is not presently a requirement that they be licensed by the city's Transportation Licensing Commission.

And then there is the issue of liability and insurance. Lyft's website indicates that it does criminal background checks and Department of Motor Vehicle checks for all of its drivers. These checks are designed to weed out drivers who have been convicted of a DUI, a violent crime, etc. Lyft also requires its drivers to have the state minimum in insurance coverage and then Lyft has its own, additional $1,000,000 liability coverage. 

But, what is not clear from Lyft's website is how the coverage applies. For instance, does the coverage apply only if the Lyft driver is transporting passengers? Or does it also apply while the driver is driving around in between jobs? If the Lyft driver hits a pedestrian, does the insurance coverage apply? Are the drivers independent contractors or does Lyft bear vicarious liability for the driver's actions? If Lyft fails to properly screen a driver, is Lyft independently liable? Are Lyft drivers common carriers which means they are held to higher level of responsibility when transporting passengers?

Some of these questions will be controlled by the terms of Lyft's insurance policy. And others will have to make their way through the court system to get solid answers. For now, some states are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these ride-sharing companies. For instance, California has already begun to regulate ride-sharing companies with vehicle inspections, insurance requirements, licensing and more. Arizona and Illinois currently have legislation pending.

As Nashville continues to grow, so does the need for better transportation options and these ride-sharing programs may be a great solution. But, as a consumer, you should be aware of these liability and safety issues. And you should also know how your own insurance policy applies to these situations. 

If you are involved in an accident with Lyft or some other ride-sharing company, one of our award-winning lawyers would be happy to discuss your case with you in a no-fee, no-obligation consultation. For more information on our fees and costs, click here. Then, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this online form to schedule an appointment.

Lyft, Sidecar and Uber: Great Service But Lots of Legal Issues

Have you seen cars driving around Nashville decked out with a fuzzy pink mustache? The pink mustache is the logo, if you will, for Lyft, a ride-sharing service. Lyft, Ubert and Sidecar all operate in much the same manner.  For Lyft, individuals who need transportation can summon a driver by using their phones -- the companies have apps for their services. A pre-screened driver then picks up the individuals and takes them to their destination. The driver does not charge a fare but instead takes a "donation." The cost associated with these types of ride-sharing services has been estimated to be 30% less than a traditional taxi, which is wonderful for the consumer.

But there are some questions related to these services. While these ride-sharing services are quasi-taxis, they are not currently subject to a number of regulations applicable to taxis and limousines. For instance, the drivers do not have to have chauffeur licenses. While the vehicles must be a 2000 model year or later, the vehicles are not subject to inspections. Unlike Nashville taxis, there is not presently a requirement that they be licensed by the city's Transportation Licensing Commission.

And then there is the issue of liability and insurance. Lyft's website indicates that it does criminal background checks and Department of Motor Vehicle checks for all of its drivers. These checks are designed to weed out drivers who have been convicted of a DUI, a violent crime, etc. Lyft also requires its drivers to have the state minimum in insurance coverage and then Lyft has its own, additional $1,000,000 liability coverage. 

But, what is not clear from Lyft's website is how the coverage applies. For instance, does the coverage apply only if the Lyft driver is transporting passengers? Or does it also apply while the driver is driving around in between jobs? If the Lyft driver hits a pedestrian, does the insurance coverage apply? Are the drivers independent contractors or does Lyft bear vicarious liability for the driver's actions? If Lyft fails to properly screen a driver, is Lyft independently liable? Are Lyft drivers common carriers which means they are held to higher level of responsibility when transporting passengers?

Some of these questions will be controlled by the terms of Lyft's insurance policy. And others will have to make their way through the court system to get solid answers. For now, some states are beginning to exercise greater scrutiny over these ride-sharing companies. For instance, California has already begun to regulate ride-sharing companies with vehicle inspections, insurance requirements, licensing and more. Arizona and Illinois currently have legislation pending.

As Nashville continues to grow, so does the need for better transportation options and these ride-sharing programs may be a great solution. But, as a consumer, you should be aware of these liability and safety issues. And you should also know how your own insurance policy applies to these situations. 

If you are involved in an accident with Lyft or some other ride-sharing company, one of our award-winning lawyers would be happy to discuss your case with you in a no-fee, no-obligation consultation. For more information on our fees and costs, click here. Then, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this online form to schedule an appointment.

Tennesseee Teen Drivers: New (and Scary) Information about Texting and Drinking While Driving

While knowledge may be power, it does not necessarily translate into positive action as evidenced by a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). According to the study, most teens understand the dangers associated with drinking and driving and texting and driving, but they continue to engage in these behaviors. The study also shows teenagers have an alarming definition of what constitutes a designated driver.

The report showed almost all teenagers (96%) understand the distraction associated with texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving. In fact, 62% of teenagers agreed that it is very or extremely distracting. Yet, 86% of teens still do it. The same applies to drinking and driving. While 86% of teenage drivers think drinking and driving is very or extremely distracting, more than two-thirds of the teenagers who admit to doing it also admit to doing it after consuming more than three alcoholic beverages.

As for the concept of a designated driver, 21% of teens think that means the driver is "basically sober," i.e., the driver can have some alcohol as long as they do not become too impaired. 4% of teens think a designated driver means selecting the most sober person in the group to drive. These numbers show us just how much more needs to be done to get teenager drivers to comprehend just how lethal these behaviors can be. Talk to your kids, model good behavior (i.e., don't text and drive yourself), use an app that will auto-respond to incoming texts to let the sender know the receiver is driving or consider using a device like CellControl

If you or a loved one has been injured in an car wreck and would like to discuss your case, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers. We only get paid if we win so you are not out of pocket any money to pursue your rights.

Tennesseee Teen Drivers: New (and Scary) Information about Texting and Drinking While Driving

While knowledge may be power, it does not necessarily translate into positive action as evidenced by a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). According to the study, most teens understand the dangers associated with drinking and driving and texting and driving, but they continue to engage in these behaviors. The study also shows teenagers have an alarming definition of what constitutes a designated driver.

The report showed almost all teenagers (96%) understand the distraction associated with texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving. In fact, 62% of teenagers agreed that it is very or extremely distracting. Yet, 86% of teens still do it. The same applies to drinking and driving. While 86% of teenage drivers think drinking and driving is very or extremely distracting, more than two-thirds of the teenagers who admit to doing it also admit to doing it after consuming more than three alcoholic beverages.

As for the concept of a designated driver, 21% of teens think that means the driver is "basically sober," i.e., the driver can have some alcohol as long as they do not become too impaired. 4% of teens think a designated driver means selecting the most sober person in the group to drive. These numbers show us just how much more needs to be done to get teenager drivers to comprehend just how lethal these behaviors can be. Talk to your kids, model good behavior (i.e., don't text and drive yourself), use an app that will auto-respond to incoming texts to let the sender know the receiver is driving or consider using a device like CellControl

If you or a loved one has been injured in an car wreck and would like to discuss your case, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or fill out this form for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers. We only get paid if we win so you are not out of pocket any money to pursue your rights.

Liquid Nicotine For Electronic Cigarettes: A Deadly Danger Especially For Children

Did you know that liquid nicotine comes in hundreds of flavors ranging from menthol to chocolate to boston cream pie and strawberry daiquiri?   More importantly, did you know that just a teaspoon of liquid nicotine can kill a child? To say this is scary would be an understatement. In fact, the director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System has been quoted as saying it is not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed, but a matter of when.

Electronic cigarettes are widely touted as a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Because the electronic cigarette is smokeless, the user does not inhale the tars and toxins in the tobacco smoke. But many electronic cigarette users are unaware of the hazards associated with the liquid nicotine. Oral ingestion of liquid nicotine or absorption through the skin can create toxic symptoms including rapid heart beat, dizziness, confusion, elevated blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, seizures, etc. Ultimately, the toxicity can lead to a coma or death. 

In the United States, there is currently very little government oversight over liquid nicotine. The New York Times reports that vendors offer to sell the product by the gallon and barrel despite the fact that as much as a teaspoon can be lethal. In Europe, liquid nicotine must be sold in child-proof and tamper-proof packaging and with health warnings. In Canada, manufacturers must comply with these same regulations and also submit proof evidencing the quality and safety of the product.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to liquid nicotine for electronic cigarettes, you could have a product liability claim. For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers, call us any time at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this formFor more information on our fees and costs, click here

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About John A. Day

I am a fifty-three year old lawyer who is fascinated by the law of torts. I have studied the field for over twenty-nine years. I represent plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

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