DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

National Work Zone Awareness Week: Expect the Unexpected

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Truck Accidents

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

As road construction and repair  season nears, the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched an initiative for National Work Zone Awareness Week, as noted by road signs along many commuter routes.  This year’s theme, “Expect the Unexpected,” emphasizes that drivers should be prepared for changes, including reduced speed limits, narrowed, shifted or closed lanes, and workers on or near the road. “The 2015 theme was the original theme used 15 years ago in the national event that was created to focus attention on work zone safety and work zone workers. Since the creation of the national campaign by FHWA, ATSSA and AASHTO, the number of work zone fatalities has dropped significantly.”

National Work Zone Awareness Week – sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials at the beginning of construction season each spring –raises awareness of safety measures taken on roads all over the country. Typically, work zone crashes occur when drivers fail to obey posted speed limits, fail to adapt to changing road conditions, or use cellphones while driving.”

“As the temperatures climb, thousands of highway workers nationwide are heading back to work to improve America’s roads,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “To keep them safe, we owe them our full attention when driving through work zones so please avoid distractions like cellphones and obey posted speed limits.”

Hundreds of fatalities occur each year in work zones, of which 23% were attributed to drivers speeding in a work zone. We should always be focused on the road when driving, but the next time you see bright orange highway construction signs, try to be extra vigilant–it could save someone’s life.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Basketball: Not as Safe as it Seems

Posted in Child Safety, Consumer Safety

It’s March Madness time, and fans everywhere are watching their favorite basketball teams tear up the court. However, few people realize the risks associated with this popular sport.

When most people think of concussions and traumatic brain injury in contact sports, football or hockey comes to mind. Unfortunately, football is not the only sport capable of causing these serious conditions. In fact, according to CBS News, a Pediatrics Magazine report from 2010 showed that 375,000 children were sent to the emergency room with injuries related to basketball each year. The same report also found a 70 percent increase in basketball-related traumatic brain injuries over the last ten years.

CBS News also reports that researchers are now taking steps to better understand the risks basketball poses to the brain. At the University of New Haven, players on the men’s basketball team now wear headbands equipped with Triax head sensors. These sensors collect data about the g-forces associated with any hits players take to the head. These data are then transmitted to computer software that stores and manages them. Using these data, the trainers can determine which players took hits to the head during the practice, as well as the strength of each hit. When the season is complete, data will be transmitted to the Sports Legacy Institute for further review.

To prevent complications from traumatic brain injury on the court:

• Know the signs of concussion, which may include headache, nausea, dizziness, balance problems and sensitivity to light.
• Have a professional evaluate any known head injury immediately.
• Allow a person who has suffered a concussion to rest, both physically and mentally, before returning to his or her normal activity.

Is your child involved in contact sports? Understanding concussion risks is important: Comprehensive Pediatric Concussion Guidelines Released by Canadian & US Pediatric Emergency Medicine Researchers.

With Millions of Vehicles Remaining at Risk of Malfunction, Honda Reaches Out to Owners

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Defective Products

As pressure on the Takata Corporation increases, Honda Motor is doing what it can to encourage owners to bring their vehicles in for repairs. The cars in question are equipped with malfunctioning airbags that have been linked to at least six deaths worldwide, according to the New York Times. At this point, only 14 percent of the affected vehicles have been effectively repaired.

Honda’s campaign to increase the number of repairs involves a number of channels, including social media, radio and newspapers. The company has focused its campaign on customers in locations with high humidity, where the risk of malfunction is likely highest.

Poor customer participation isn’t the only obstacle Honda faces as it replaces the faulty airbags. The parts needed to repair the recalled vehicles are in short supply. Some customers have even waited weeks for the parts to arrive. Honda maintains that it is utilizing all available parts, as well as making efforts to supplement the needed parts in the near future.

If you have been involved in an accident and you suspect that malfunctioning vehicle parts played a role:

• Check whether the part has been recalled. If a recall was issued but you were unaware of it, you may still be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer.
• Call a qualified Washington D.C. auto accident lawyer. He or she can help you decide how to proceed.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today for more information.

Car accidents, which may result from faulty parts, are a leading cause of traumatic brain injury: March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.

AAA Research Reveals Distraction & Teen Crashes More Serious than Previously Believed

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Child Safety

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

By this time, most everyone realizes that distracted driving is inherently dangerous. Many people even acknowledge that teen drivers are the most likely offenders. Today, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released their comprehensive research of crash videos of teen drivers. According to the 1700 in-vehicle crash videos of the six seconds leading up to a crash that were analyzed by researchers, distraction was a much greater factor than previously estimated from police reports.  NHTSA previously estimated that 14% of all teen driver crashes were attributable to distraction.  The results of the AAA Foundation analysis of  the crash videos showed that distraction was a factor in 58% of all crashes studied, including 89% of road-departure crashes and 76% of rear-ear crashes.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”

The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:

  • “Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes”

Researchers found that drivers manipulating their cell phone (includes calling, texting or other uses), had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning  they crashed without braking or steering.”

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any other group in the country. In 2013, police-reported crashes indicated that about 963,000 drivers aged 16-19 were involved in crashes, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

Most states now have graduated driver licensing (GDL) requirements as well as cell phone use and passenger restrictions for teen drivers. In addition, parents need to set strict ground rules for teen drivers relating to distraction.

As I have previously stated and continue to believe, while it may be convenient to convince yourself that multi-tasking is not so difficult, driving should never be mixed with any other activity. Every year I give presentations to area schools about distracted driving in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while distracted, at least not while they are in the car.

If you, your child’s PTSA, or your child’s school would like to know more about my presentation, please contact me. I of course do not charge a fee for my presentation, as it is part of my volunteer community service program.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

 

Does a Vehicle Recall Mean Emergency? Sometimes, But Not Always.

Posted in Consumer Safety, Defective Products

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

Practically every day in the news, we learn of another vehicle recall. During the first nine months of 2014, there were over 500 automaker recalls, which affected more than 50 million vehicles. How does the average consumer sift through all this information to determine which recalls are actually safety issues and which are minor enough to delay a repair?

After manufacturers notify NHTSA about a recall, they have 60 days to notify vehicle owners. However, owners may contact their dealership in the meantime for a replacement appointment, without waiting for the official notification. Consumer Reports recently published guidelines for determining whether a recall should be cause for worry. Although some recalls are for nuisance factors, if the recall involves a key operating component, such as acceleration, brake, steering, suspension, or fuel systems, you should contact the dealership right away. If you are not sure of the potential danger, call the dealership and ask.

However, vehicle owners do not have to wait for a recall if they believe their car has a safety defect. They can file a complaint directly with the automaker and the government by contacting safercar.gov or by calling 888-327-4236.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

How Apps Like BACTrack and Services Like Uber Are Changing the DUI Prevention Landscape

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Uncategorized

Super Bowl Sunday witnessed a surge of DUI activity and arrests – a development that defense attorneys, police officers and public officials anticipated. While Seahawks fans gnashed their teeth and New England cheered, officers across the city (and state and country) set up dragnets and checkpoints to flag down dangerous drivers and get them off the roads.

BACtrack, a breathalyzer attachment that connects with smartphones, cited an average of .091% blood alcohol content (BAC) levels among DUI drivers arrested on Super Bowl Sunday in 2014. That’s roughly the same average BAC as officers typically find among drivers on holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day. BACtrack defines the months from December to March as “drinking season” because they witness “the highest occurrence of days with an average BAC above .06%, the level at which the negative effects of alcohol often begin.”

The popular ride share company Uber, in collaboration with MADD, reported that, “nearly 300,000 people drive drunk every day.” The report, which authorities released right before the Super Bowl, found that the number of DUI driving accidents has decreased substantially in Uber markets: “In California… drunk-driving crashes fell by 60 per month among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates.”

The information from BAC tracking apps — along with the increased use (and ostensible effectiveness) of Uber — indicates an increase in the general public’s DUI awareness. Both Uber and BACtracker offer smartphone apps, transforming mobile devices into valuable tools for maintaining the public safety. In conjunction with DUI checkpoints and educational campaigns, these tools can make drinking safer and less likely to lead to injuries (during future Super Bowl weekends and beyond) as well as raise awareness of critical DUI-related challenges and solutions.

Call our Washington D.C. car accident attorneys about your recent crash to determine whether you might be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and damages.

Drivers who get behind the wheel while intoxicated are not the only threats to motorists. What if, for instance, your car is defective? Learn more here: How to Handle Difficult-to-Replicate Auto Issues: Do You Think You Have a Defective Vehicle?

Statistics and Safety Tips to Avoid St. Patrick’s Day Holiday Hazards

Posted in Uncategorized

People around the globe know St. Patrick’s Day as a celebration filled with shamrocks, green beer, and Irish whiskey. With the celebration fast approaching on March 17th, the Internet has started to flood with ideas for festive themed drinks. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a scientifically-backed hangover cure, but we can provide statistics and safety tips to make your holiday a little safer.

Statistics from the Department of Transportation show that 54 DUI related deaths occur on St. Patrick’s Day every year. In 2014, for instance, law enforcement in Denver arrested 471 individuals for DUI over the St. Paddy’s Day weekend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show that 32% of fatalities on March 17th in 2012 were due to DUI related accidents. According to the CDC, binge drinkers have a 14 times higher rate of DUIs than non-binge drinkers.

Remember that DUIs cost. Anyone convicted of DUI can face fines, months of legal proceedings, a lasting criminal record, and a tarnished reputation. You could even cost someone his or her life. One bad decision stands between you and all those consequences.

Consider these safety tips before donning your green attire and pre-gaming with some Guinness at home:

• Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Even if you feel okay, avoid driving if you’ve had more than one drink.

• Use apps like Uber and Lyft to easily catch a ride if you can’t drive.

• Discourage anyone who has been drinking from driving.
Don’t count on the luck of the Irish to save you from a DUI this St. Patrick’s Day. Use good judgment and stay safe by following these tips for a memorable Irish tradition. If someone hurt you or a loved one in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact our Washington DC car accident attorneys today for more information.

With winter holding on tight, keep your St. Patrick’s Day holiday even safer with our Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving.

Baseball Spring Training: Are Your Ball Players at Risk for Head Injuries?

Posted in Child Safety

Every year, a few professional baseball players suffer injuries associated with direct ball strikes to the head. The strikes happen quickly, and they can impact with a force of up to 100 or 120 mph. In 2014, Dan Jennings of the Miami Marlins suffered a concussion after being struck by a line drive going 101 mph. The pitcher stumbled around the mound for a minute before emergency responders took him to the hospital.

The risk of head injury affects more than professional ball players. Children and adults in amateur leagues also face similar risks. Faster strike speeds affect the extent of injury, but slower speeds can also have devastating effects.

Roughly 1 in 300,000 pitches result in a ball coming straight back at a pitcher. That number may seem low, but each ball that makes contact with a head can potentially alter that person’s life. Head injuries cause short-term effects, including concussions, bruising, and fracturing. They can also cause chronic conditions, including dementia and brain damage.

For children, head injuries can be devastating. 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 are treated in hospitals for baseball injuries each year. As many as four die from those injuries.

Playing baseball is an inherently risky activity. All players, from small children to Major League contenders, should follow the recommended guidelines for their position to avoid injuries. As spring training picks up, anyone playing the game can follow these tips to lessen the risk of injury:

• Wear appropriate head gear during practice and games.

• Teach children to be mindful during the game, especially when they’re batting, playing infield or pitching.

• Play ball with people at your skill level.

• Seek medical attention immediately after an injury, and follow the physician’s recommendations for rest and recuperation.

Reach out to our Washington DC traumatic brain injury attorneys for more information about your rights and avenues for compensation in a head injury case.

Football players also commonly suffer from head injuries. Read our post on The Hottest Topic in Pro Football: How Concussions Are Changing the Game for the NFL for more information.

Japanese Air Bag Manufacturer Will Be Fined $14,000 a Day Until a Solution Is Reached

Posted in Uncategorized

Japanese air bag manufacturer, Takata Corporation, faces $14,000 in fines per day from the U.S. federal government. As we’ve reported several times over the past several months, Takata faces a serious federal investigation pursuant to charges that the company made faulty and potentially dangerous airbag inflators. Although Takata officials say they have been cooperating with investigators, the company has refused demands to expand the airbag recall.

Takata allegedly flooded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with nearly 2.4 million pages of unorganized data, infuriating safety officials. U.S. federal law requires that Takata provide catalogued documentation of these data. The fines will accumulate until Takata can explain the documentation.

What’s the problem with the airbag inflators? The devices use a propelling force fueled by ammonium nitrate. If exposed to prolonged moisture, ammonium nitrate can burn extremely fast and potentially cause an explosion of the metal encasement upon deployment. Globally, investigators say that these airbag defects have led of the deaths of 6 people as well as 64 injuries.

While the investigation efforts continue, the U.S. government is taking steps at home and overseas to remedy the situation:

• Automakers are recalling vehicles en masse. More than 22 million vehicles have been recalled so far, including Acura, Dodge, Pontiac, Honda and Toyota models. Check SaferCar.gov to see if your vehicle has been affected by the recall.

• The NHTSA and the U.S. Justice Department are threatening Takata with court action, which will include employee depositions.

• The Grow America Act, a transportation bill, will raise the maximum automaker fine to $300 million (fines are currently capped at $70 million). This change would give NHSTA a larger budget and authority to stop defective autos and auto parts from being sold.

• The bill will also require used car dealers to get recalled vehicles repaired before they can sell them to the public.

Under current infraction fine limits, it could take almost 1.5 years for Takata to reach the maximum limit while still manufacturing faulty airbags. If the Grow America Act passes, the NHTSA will be able to act quickly and get any potentially affected vehicles off the roads.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email us.

Used Car Buyers Beware: Unfixed Recalls Are on the Market

Posted in Consumer Safety, Defective Products

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

Following a year of an unprecedented number of vehicles recalls for safety defects, potential used car buyers need to be more cautious than ever before in purchasing a used car. Currently, there are no laws that require sellers of pre-owned vehicles, both private sellers and registered used car dealers, to make any of the recalled repairs. Sellers are not even required to inform potential buyers that a vehicle was subject to a recall. As a result, since at least 20% of recalled vehicles are never repaired, possibly millions of vehicles were sold without safety repairs.

Official government research indicates that about 25% of all drivers simply ignore recall warnings. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief, “We cannot allow vehicles with potentially dangerous defects to leave used-car lots without the necessary repairs.” With no laws to protect potential buyers of used cars, the best practical advice is for buyers to thoroughly research any recalls for a vehicle being considered for purchase, then demand evidence that the necessary repairs were made. One available option for potential buyers is the Department of Transportation’s free online search tool for recalls. By entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), consumers are able to identify uncompleted recalls. To learn more about vehicle recalls, safercar.gov provides an overview of specific vehicle recall information.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.