DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

The Hottest Topic in Pro Football: How Concussions Are Changing the Game for the NFL

Posted in Child Safety

The NFL Players Association and other advocacy groups are raising awareness regarding traumatic brain injuries and concussions. Many players are subjected to forces far beyond natural human tolerance, and they receive head injuries that can ruin their lives. Dozens of these injuries, however, continue to go unreported.

Players fear coming forward about their injuries because of cultural norms, such as the expectation that NFL football players should play through pain no matter how severe. Also, social stigmas against appearing weak or uncommitted cause players to be secretive about their injuries. On top of this, players are contractually obligated to only consult team doctors, who sometimes downplay injuries.

Some retired athletes are speaking out about the long-term effects of untreated NFL related traumatic brain injuries. This tactic has garnered national media attention and led to a higher level of public scrutiny. Major media organs, such as PBS’ Frontline and The Denver Post, have extensively covered this issue, revealing the severity and prevalence of the problem in the NFL and beyond.

How can you prevent concussions from causing long-term damage? Follow these tips when you or a loved one participates in sports where impact is likely:

  1. See a third party doctor if possible. Many players report feeling more comfortable speaking to their own private doctors.
  2.  Be open with your physician. No doctor can treat a patient who is not forthcoming. Remember: a lifetime of proper brain functioning is on the line.
  3. Seek help if you face discrimination. Schools and sports associations should not discriminate based on illness; doing so is illegal, and it could be the basis of a lawsuit.
  4. Never play through injuries that result in dizziness or distorted vision. Encourage teammates and loved ones to immediately report injuries.
  5. Foster a compassionate culture by rewarding players for reporting injuries. Many athletes sacrifice their health for playtime, which violates basic human rights.

Nobody should tolerate suffering and abuse in athletics. Report incidents of underreported injuries to school officials, or seek legal representation.

Please get in touch with our Washington D.C. brain injury attorneys today to explore how you can obtain fair compensation and justice in your potential case.

 

 

 

Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Truck Accidents

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

Much of the country has been blanketed by snow or experiencing other brutal winter weather during 2015.  Although school children may be enjoying their mini-vacations, drivers are feeling tortured by the conditions. If you did not prepare your car for winter before now, you should certainly do so now. Listed below are tips from safercar.gov that could help minimize some of the breakdown worries of winter driving.

  • Get your car serviced now. Do a routine maintenance and checkup for worn parts and repairs.
  • Check your battery. Make certain that you have sufficient voltage, as well as charging system and belt inspections.
  • Check your cooling system. Verify that you have enough coolant, that it has been flushed recently, and that you don’t have leaks anywhere in your cooling system.
  • Fill your windshield washer reservoir. Use a “no freeze” fluid, refill as needed.
  • Check your windshield wipers and defrosters. Consider heavy-duty winter wipers.
  • Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference. Use mats that are designed to fit your car.
  • Inspect your tires. As a matter of fact, tires should routinely be inspected once each month. Follow manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure guidelines. Look for uneven wear or insufficient tread.
  • Check the age of your tires. Some aging isn’t necessarily obvious. The last four digits of the DOT number on your tire indicates the week and year of manufacture. Owner’s manuals usually recommend replacement every six years, regardless of use.
  • Know your car. Since cars behave differently on wet, icy, or snowy roads, take time to learn your car’s behavior. Don’t overdrive the road conditions. Drive slowly and give yourself plenty of room for stopping. Know your car’s brakes and how to use the properly. In general, antilock brakes require firm, continuous pressure. Other brakes need to be pumped gently. Know which kind of brakes you have.
  • Plan your travel and route. Avoid traveling when road conditions are hazardous. If you have to travel, don’t rush. Keep your gas tank close to full. Your trip may take much longer than you expect.
  • Stock your vehicle. Keep the following supplies in your car: snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, abrasive material (sand or kitty litter), jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blankets. For longer trips, you should also keep a cell phone with charger, water, food, necessary medicines.
  • Learn what to do in a winter emergency. If you are stalled, follow these safety tips:
    • Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself.
    • Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep interior dome light on.
    • Don’t run your car for long periods. Run it just long enough to stay warm. First, clear your exhaust pipe of snow. Make certain you open a window while the car is running to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Protect your self and your loved ones. Wear seat belts, don’t text and drive, put blankets around children if needed for proper fit into car seat harness, and never leave your child unattended in or around the car.

Winter driving is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Don’t handicap yourself by ignoring the commonsense guidelines listed above. Drive carefully and stay safe.

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.

5 Safety Reminders for Burn Awareness Week

Posted in Uncategorized

Burn Awareness Week takes place at the beginning of February every year. Burn injuries most commonly affect small children in the home. Accidents regularly occur from scalding liquids, hot stoves, and steam.

Scalding liquids cause the highest rate of injuries in children under the age of 4. Physicians treat more than 100,000 minors annually for injuries associated with scalds. These accidents range from minor burns with minimal or no scarring to devastating and life altering disfiguration and pain.

Prevent burns in the home with these 5 tips:

  1.  Move flammable items to a safe area. Lighters, candles, and other fuel sources may tempt little ones to explore the world of fire. Keep these items in a safe location, and monitor their use carefully to prevent accidents.
  2.  Set ground rules for children. Running, playing, or otherwise being in the kitchen while stoves are on and food is hot sets a dangerous stage for burn accidents. Consider making the kitchen an adults-only area when cooking, and closely watch any children who enter the area. Use the back burners if children will be in the area to reduce the risk of an accident.
  3.  Adjust your water heater. Set your heater’s temperature to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent children from turning on a scalding tap. Water will stay warm without raising the concern for scald injuries. Always monitor small children using a bathtub or sink tap.
  4.  Never wear loose clothing while cooking. Wearing frills, fringes, and flowing blouses increases the likelihood of experiencing a burn or larger fire. Watch the stove area for any other wayward packages or flammable items that might get hot enough to catch fire, too.
  5.  Run cold water over a burn immediately. Ice and cold tap water reduce the temperature of the burn and lessen the extent of damage if caught in time. Contact emergency services for major burn injuries.

Reach out to our Washington DC personal injury attorneys for an evaluation of your potential burn case.

NHTSA Recommends Equipping New Vehicles with Automatic Braking Systems

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Consumer Safety

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

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that two new automatic braking systems should be added as part of the safety features to be included under it New Car Assessment Program (NCAP): Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic Brake Support (DBS). NHTSA data indicates that a third of all police-reported crashes in 2013 involved a rear-end collision, many of which were made by drivers who did not apply their brakes at all or did not apply their brakes fully before the crash. With a CIB and/or DBS system, automatic brake application or assistance with braking could avoid the crash altogether or at least limit its severity.

According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the newest safety innovations proclaim, “an enormous leap in the evolution of auto safety by encouraging adoption of new technologies to keep drivers and their passengers safe on our roads.” This recommendation is another step forward for NCAP’s revision to the program “to encourage both consumers and automakers to develop and adopt advanced vehicle safety technologies.” As technologies become more readily available that make safer driving, NCAP continues its efforts to encourage automakers to develop and adopt advanced vehicle safety features. NCAP provides a checklist for consumers to compare the availability of safety features for vehicles at www.safercar.gov.

Although more safety features are becoming available for vehicles, the ultimate responsibility for safer driving is on you and me – the drivers.

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.

15 Year Finnish Study Finds Premature Death Risk Associated with Previous Head Trauma

Posted in Uncategorized

A new research study, Head trauma with or without mild brain injury increases the risk of future traumatic death: A controlled prospective 15-year follow-up study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma, suggests that any serious head injury, with or without brain impact, can lead to an “increased risk of future traumatic death.”

Since 1999, researchers at Oulu University Hospital in Finland have been following traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients to determine their long-term health outcomes. They chose subjects based on hospital admittance for head injuries. All subjects lived in Northern Ostrobothnia, south of Oulu, and the control group had similar characteristics to the test group.

The researchers evaluated cause of death and death rates to compare the two groups and found stark differences between test group mortality rates and control group mortality rates:

  •  Moderate/severe traumatic brain injury: test — 56.9%; control — 6.7%
  • Mild traumatic brain injury: test — 18.6%; control — 1.4%
  • Head injury/no traumatic brain injury: test — 23.8%; control — 1.9%

The Finnish researches concluded that head trauma highly predicts an increased risk of death. Scientists who participated in the study cite a need for further evaluation to determine causation. Just because they found a correlation between TBI and a spike in all cause mortality, in other words, does not mean they figured out what might be driving this association.

Brain injuries may develop immediately after trauma, or problems may take days to present. Car accidents, sports injuries, and slip and falls all contribute to thousands of cases of serious TBI in the U.S. every year. Seek medical advice if you or a loved one has experienced any type of head trauma, even “mild” damage or a “light” concussion.

If you suspect that you or someone has sustained a TBI:

  •  Track and maintain awareness of your symptoms, including headache, nausea, cognitive difficulty, lack of awareness, dizziness, difficulty focusing your eyes, and other issues. Immediately contact a physician or hospital if you experience any of these symptoms. Determining the extent of neurological damage requires extensive testing.
  •  Follow the advice of your physician. Diverse treatment modalities might include taking medicines, undergoing rehab and surgery (especially in the first hours or days after a TBI event), focusing on psychological wellness and seeking support group advice.
  •  Keep good records. Your journey to recovery from a brain injury may require thorough records for court cases, insurance, and personal use. Keep a journal (or ask a loved one to do so on your behalf), and organize all test results and medical documentation.

Please get in touch with our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys today to explore how you can obtain fair compensation and justice in your potential case.

How New Technologies Will Make Athletes Safer: Exploring Tools for Preventing Sports Related Brain Injuries

Posted in Uncategorized

Traumatic brain injuries are among the most common hazards athletes face. Yet many TBIs go unreported because coaches — and even athletes themselves — avoid coming forward to complain. Cultural barriers sometimes also prevent athletes from getting the proper care, but the constraint is generally a lack of proper information.

Helmet-mounted accelerometer technologies may be able to help athletes avoid or minimize damage from cranial impacts, but the limitations of these technologies (at least currently) are significant. Helmet-mounted accelerometers often provide junk data, because they are placed improperly or they shift from optimal positioning. Furthermore, these helmets may be bulky, which discourages their use. Lastly, many sports, such as soccer and field hockey, still do not require helmets, even though head injuries are prevalent in minor and major league play.

Contemporary Mouth Guards and Sports Safety Research

Force Impact Technologies has developed a mouth guard that measures impacts and sends data instantly via Bluetooth to coaches and safety personnel. The FITGuard provides Stanford-University-tested-and-approved data that can determine whether a player is at risk for a concussion. Placing the accelerometers closer to the rear molars, which are attached to the base of the skull, will allow for better, clearer detection. This strategy provides scientifically sound information to officials on the sidelines, who need to make decisions about whether to leave players in a game or take them out.

Based on biometric information from individual players, the FITGuard determines whether the impact of the injury has exceeded the preset safe threshold for the athlete. The impact data is instantly transmitted to a smartphone application nearby, and an LED display on the front turns green if the player is safe and red if not.

The Future of Concussion Detection

If the company’s Kickstarter campaign is successful, FITGuard will soon be sold in retail outlets. With this technology in hand, sports teams may be able to dramatically reduce risks of traumatic brain injury and damages. We’ll hopefully see more exciting developments in this area, as medical science continues to research the relationship between impacts and brain injuries.

Double-edged new technologies can save lives, but they can also cause problems: A Quick Primer on Dangerous Toys

See the Future of Car Design Today: Mercedes Benz, Google and Other Brands Are Revolutionizing Mobility

Posted in Automobile Accidents

The automobile industry currently faces challenges from tech-giant Google to re-conceive transportation. At the yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, companies from around the world converge to showcase their latest products and design ideas. While wearable technology has grabbed more than its fair share of headlines, a German automaker is aiming to change how people travel.

As one of the oldest and most respected car manufacturers, Mercedes Benz has a history of grappling with aesthetic and technological concerns. Mercedes Benz has built a brand known for luxury and pinnacle performance.

The car giant unveiled its latest autonomous concept vehicle at the 2015 CES in the hope it can put forth an alternative to the minimalist Google car. Reports from the floor at CES indicate that Mercedes’ vision is expansive. Designs showed a self-driving vehicle that is both wider and more versatile than sedans currently on the market.

With a 12-foot wheelbase, the interior is more like a cozy living room than a conveyance. The front driver and passenger seats resemble trendy lounge chairs, and they can swivel to face the rear passengers when in self-driving mode. The steering wheel and vehicle controls then recede into a compartment, hidden from view and safely stowed.

Vehicle passengers will use six gesture-responsive touchscreens. Mercedes says that it seeks to transform the role of the car in society from a simple mode of transportation to a mobile living room.

The car will use laser projection technology to navigate and ensure safety even when humans are in control. Mercedes claims that with a hybrid-electric motor, the autonomous vehicle will get over 700 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

Self-driving cars are quietly entering the mainstream, and carmakers are already daring one another to create the first commercially viable design. 2015 could be the year of the first retail autonomous vehicle.

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 to explore your strategic options.

Self-driving cars promise safety gains, but sometimes safety tech can go awry. Please see our previous post: The Exploding Air Bag Problem

How to Handle Difficult-to-Replicate Auto Issues: Do You Think You Have a Defective Vehicle?

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Consumer Safety, Defective Products

Automotive ownership comes with many sources of anxiety – especially as designs and functions become increasingly complicated. Most car owners can relate to the irritation that comes with hearing a problem with a vehicle but then being unable to reproduce the sound for the mechanic.

This replication problem is a source of frustration for many car owners, who are often forced to continue owning and driving a defective vehicle. Consumer advocates pressure car companies to honor their recalls, but what if you can’t even find the problem?

Working With Your Vehicle’s Manufacturer

Manufacturers provide few, if any, alternatives for customers who feel they have a defective vehicle but cannot reproduce the problem at the dealership. There are, however, some strategies that may ensure better outcomes when problems arise. Follow these tips if you experience problems with your car:

  • Track what happens. Documentation makes everything easier. Use photos, videos, written journaling, and audio recordings to track your journey to get the vehicle fixed.
  • Maintain copious records of service, if available.
  • Remain conciliatory with mechanics and others who help you, and emphasize the importance of safety.
  • Explain the persistent nature of the problem, and offer to let the service department hold the car until they can identify it.
  • Speak to a service manager to gather more information about what happened; consulting with the higher-ups in the chain of command at the company will encourage the manufacturer to take the complaint seriously.
  • Consider filing a complaint with the Federal Highway Safety Administration.

Conscientious car ownership is not always enough to avoid hassles. Never let a mysterious issue catch you off-guard. Always be firm, and never settle for anything that leaves you feeling unsafe. Car companies sometimes risk safety to try to cut corners and eliminate costs. Hold these manufacturers responsible, not just to protect yourself and your auto investment but also to prevent them from providing dangerously mediocre service to other drivers.

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.

For a recent post about vehicle safety, check out: Battle Between the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Japanese Takata Corporation Has Ramifications for Millions of Vehicle Owners