DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

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

Don’t Get Hacked! Tips for Owners of Computer-Equipped Cars

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Consumer Safety

Many exciting changes involving onboard computer technology are coming to the consumer car industry. Satellite-assisted navigation, traffic alerts, biometric customization, and similar features will soon be standard. Unfortunately, all of this luxury comes with a price.

The U.S. Government and privacy advocates have expressed concerns regarding the increasingly networked nature of automobile-based computing. They worry these highly anticipated features may open users to unanticipated risks regarding the security of private information.

Due to concerns about hackers disrupting communications to and from cars, the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Commission has established an office to develop novel cyber security strategies. They believe the threat of accidents or crimes caused by hacking networked automobiles warrants heightened attention. Automobiles rely on networked systems for proper operation, and they can never be shut off. This means a constant stream of personal data goes to and from cars at all times, whether drivers consent or not.

While automakers insist that no car has yet been hacked, privacy advocates worry about the future. We do not know what these companies (and their affiliates) might be able to do with the collected vehicle data and whether these data will be susceptible to theft. Customers cannot opt out of these services at this time.

Follow these tips to ensure your data is secure:

1)      Automakers have promised to obtain consent from drivers before releasing crash data to any third-party. Be mindful of this caveat, if you’re involved in an accident.

2)      Just because no one has yet reported hacking involving vehicle-based network-enabled devices doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the near term: keep track of developments in the news.

3)      Never provide consent to anyone seeking to obtain personally identifying data — even your car company — unless you know exactly what information they want and how they will use it.

4)      Read end-user-license agreements carefully for information regarding the vehicle owner’s responsibilities for vehicle-collected data.

While the possibilities of vehicle-installed computers are enticing, we must take care to ensure good data security.

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 today to explore your strategic options.

General Motors’ Recall Headaches Follow the Company into the New Year

Posted in Automobile Accidents

Let’s not mince words: 2014 was a very dark and unhappy year for General Motors.

 

The GM defective ignition switch recall issue (which this blog covered in detail over multiple posts) cost the American carmaker billions of dollars and led to a horrendous international publicity headache. Images of GM’s CEO Mary Barra getting grilled by Congress last April did not help matters. And following quickly on the heels of the ignition switch debacle, GM had to handle yet another recall related to exploding Takata airbags (which we also recently discussed). Although GM was not fingered to blame in the airbag recall, the news that its airbags might explode and send metal shrapnel into passengers a la a grenade probably did not exactly burnished the company’s image in the eyes of consumers.

 

The company had hoped for a fresh start in 2015… but that’s not exactly happening. Last Thursday, GM recalled 92,000 trucks and SUVs for yet another dangerous (separate) manufacturing flaw. In 2014, GM recalled approximately 40 percent of all its vehicles in the U.S. In 2013, it recalled just 757,000 vehicles across 23 campaigns. Although GM has radically changed how it addresses and responds to safety issues – thanks both to internal corporate and external governmental and legal pressure – it may be quite some time before the brand recovers.

 

This latest recall involved the following vehicles:

 

·         Chevrolet Silverado (2011 – 2012)

·         Silverado LD Suburban

·         Tahoe

·         Yukon

·         Yukon XL

·         Escalade

·         Sierra HD

·         Sierra LD

·         2015 Cadillac SRX (potential problem with seat track brackets)

·         2015 Chevrolet Silverado

·         GMC Sierra 1500 (problem that could break rear axle shaft during operation)

 

Hopefully, the emotional roller coaster over auto recalls across the nation (and internationally) will subside in 2015. Many auto industry experts are hopeful that things will, indeed, calm down this year. But if you or someone you love suffered an injury in a car or truck crash last year or this year, you may want to speak with a qualified Washington D.C. car accident lawyer with Regan, Zambri & Long today for a free and confidential consultation about your rights and options. Call us now at (202) 463-3030.

Learn more about the Takata airbag fiasco here: Battle Between the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Japanese Takata Corporation Has Ramifications for Millions of Vehicle Owners

 

Tips to Protect Yourself Against Extreme Cold

Posted in Consumer Safety

As frigid Arctic air dogs the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. area, local residents and business owners find themselves at risk for diverse dangers, including hypothermia, the flu, weakened immune systems, slick ice, and fatigue. A new scientific study suggests that cold really might be able to make you sick – just like your mother used to tell you. In the study, mice subjected to severe cold developed more acute rhinovirus-related symptoms than did mice kept at milder temperatures.

 

Another study suggests that cold itself can be contagious. Per RealClearScience: there’s… chilling news coming out of the journal PlOS One… neuroscientists from the United Kingdom reported that cold is contagious. Yes, just looking at someone who’s shivering or experiencing frigid temperatures can cause parts of your own body to become colder.”

 

Here are five ideas for how to protect yourself from the worst that Old Man Winter throws your way this January.

 

1. Solidify your emergency plans.

Develop a plan with your family for what to do during frigid spells or blizzards. How will you get in touch with each other? Where will you meet up? How will you handle an emergency with one of the kids? Etc. Write your plan down, and make sure that everyone in your family – particularly children who are old enough to understand – are on the same page.

 

2. Make sure you have enough food and medication at home.

This is keen advice, particularly if you elderly or very young people at home. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to choose between “braving” blowing snow to Rite Aid at 2 in the morning versus staying inside and suffering from a flare up.

 

3. Reduce or eliminate unnecessary travel.

Even if your vehicle is weatherized and ready, avoid putting miles on the road. You have no way to predict (or protect yourself against) the behavior of other drivers.

 

4. Prepare your car for the cold.

When was the last time you had your brake fluids and anti-freeze levels checked? Is your battery in good condition … or at risk of being frozen out during an Arctic blast? Do you have the right tires and treads installed? Are your heater, defroster and thermostats all functioning effectively?

 

5. Winterize your home, if you haven’t done so already.

Make sure your home has a backup generator, particularly if you have small children, elderly people or people with medical conditions living in your house.

 

For legal insight into what kind of compensation you might be able to obtain after a winter weather related accident, call our Washington D.C. personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation at 202-463-3030.

 

If the cold does cause an injury or illness that leads to hospitalization, be sure to read this article: 10 Tips Patients Can Do to Make Your Hospital Stay Safer

 

4 Tips for Safer Winter Sports

Posted in Consumer Safety

As winter descends on the Washington D.C. area, youth sports rivalries tend to heat up. As you (or your children) prepare for the big homecoming game or other key match, consider these 4 safety tips about how to protect your body during your sport’s “crunch time.”

 

#1. Wear proper head protection, particularly if you play a dangerous sport like cycling, hockey, football, skiing or snowboarding.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brain injuries cause more deaths among people under 45 than any other type of accident and lead to 2.5 million hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

 

#2. Prepare for accidents.

 

If you’re a skier or snowboarder, learn how to fall properly, so that you don’t break your legs or hurt your knees. “Fall” in a controlled fashion. Likewise, if you’re a wrestler or a football player or basketball player, think through accident-related contingences. Your coach should help you prepare and recognize potential injuries.

 

#3. Mind the weather.

 

Youth athletes tend to think of themselves as indestructible. They might forgo wearing coats when it’s frigid outside or play through a nasty ice squall just because their friends are playing. As the Boys Scouts wisely admonish: “be prepared.” Dress for the weather, and respect the weather. Such caution won’t necessarily prevent injuries, but it can keep you alert and prevent secondary problems, such as hypothermia, which can make injuries worse.

 

#4. Play hard, but don’t suffer in silence if you get hurt.

 

Especially in youth sports, the social pressure to “walk it off” or ignore the pain if you “get your bell rung” can be quite intense. Unfortunately, these consequences of failing to acknowledge a concussion or other nasty injury can be life-threatening. Someone who has recently been concussed, for instance, is at risk for a second impact injury, which can lead to bleeding in the brain, contusions, brain damage and death.

 

If someone you love suffered an injury while engaging in a winter sport, please consider calling the experienced Washington D.C. traumatic brain injury lawyers at Regan, Zambri & Long for a confidential and thorough free consultation.

 

Sports injuries can be horrific. But medical malpractice issues can also lead to brain injury: Brain Damage/Cerebral Palsy Can Be Caused By Malpractice

 

 

Winter Fireplace Safety Guidelines Reviewed

Posted in Burn Injury

As you prepare to light up your fireplace this season, be sure to adhere to the following safety guidelines to prevent fires and protect your loved ones from pollution.

 

#1. Inspect the chimney before the first fire.

 

Chimney and fireplace problems cause approximately 40% of home fires – a sobering statistic. First things first, find a certified fire sweep through the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Per the National Fire Protection Association, you should sweep your chimney before lighting the first winter fire to get rid of soot and debris and check the chimney’s integrity.

 

#2. Make your fire right, using seasoned hardwoods.

 

Pine and other green woods can give off a compound known as creosote, which can accumulate in the chimney and later catch fire. Hardwoods like oak that have been split and dried out for six or months tend to burn better and emit less creosote.

 

#3. Keep your fires small.

 

Bigger fires can lead to creosote accumulation and potentially even damage the chimney.

 

#4. Put a cap on the chimney.

 

Squirrels, birds, tree debris, snow and rain can enter an uncapped chimney and potentially cause hazards as well as needless death of animals. A professional chimney maintenance specialist can add a wire mesh cap to the top of the chimney for you.

 

#5. Repair chimney problems.

 

A chimney sweep can also help you identify and fix broken bricks, damaged chimney liners, and deteriorated mortar.

 

#6. When constructing a fire, do not use flammable liquids to ignite it, but rather use sheets of newspaper and kindling.

 

Keep the logs at the rear of the fire.

 

#7. Teach children good chimney and fire safety.

 

Do not leave young children unsupervised around fires.

 

If you or someone you love got hurt as a result of a chimney fire, inhalation injury or other problem related to a defective chimney or fireplace, call the effective and aggressive Washington D.C. burn injury attorneys at Regan, Zambri & Long for a free consultation.

 

Protect yourself from home fires and burns; brush up on these 8 Key Tips to Protect Your Family

 

Battle Between the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Japanese Takata Corporation Has Ramifications for Millions of Vehicle Owners

Posted in Defective Products

Will the Takata airbag recall go national?

 

In the wake of dozens of injuries and five (perhaps more) deaths caused by defective Takata airbags, National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) recent sought to extend the airbag recall to the entire United States. This act would lead to the recall of 8 million vehicles in addition to the 14 million vehicles worldwide that have already been affected.

 

Surprisingly, the Takata company rebuffed the NHSTA’s demand to widen the recall’s scope.

 

David Friedman, the NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator, responded by saying: “NHTSA received Takata’s disappointing response for demand for recall of certain driver’s side airbags… Takata shares responsibility for keeping drivers safe, and we believe anything short of a national recall does not live up to that responsibility.”

 

The Japanese company insists that its airbag products are safe in low humidity conditions and worries that extending the recall could exacerbate an existing parts shortage, forcing suppliers to divert replacement airbags away from high humidity states, where they are most needed.

 

The Center for Auto Safety’s Clarence Ditlow, however, does not believe that Takata can afford to put up much of a fight. Ditlow says: “if Takata continues to stonewall on this recall, NHTSA is going to take them to court, and their customers are going to leave them in droves… I don’t see a winning scenario in this for Takata to fight a national recall.”

 

Investors have already damaged the company by knocking down its stock by over 50% (against a gain of nearly 10% on the Topix Index).

 

NHTSA has also been bruised by this crisis. In November, the agency sent out conflicting and (in some cases) outright wrong information about problem cars and also sent concerned consumers to a website that didn’t work.

 

If you have been confused or concerned about this airbag issue, and you suspect that a defective auto part might have played a role in a recent accident or injury, please get in touch with the Washington D.C. auto accident lawyers here at Regan, Zambri & Long to set up a thorough and confidential consultation about your case.

 

We wrote this post a few months ago. Looks pretty prescient now… Could the Already Enormous Takata Airbag Recall Get Worse?

 

Update on Takata Airbag Recall and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About It

Posted in Automobile Accidents

Just as the auto industry began to recover from GM’s embarrassing (and deadly) defective ignition switch glitch, chaos struck the auto world again several months ago, after investigators discovered an odd defect affecting certain airbags made by Japan’s Takata Corporation. This discovery then prompted a massive recall of millions of vehicles. 

 

Here’s an update and an FAQ on what’s happening with the recall. 

 

What cars might be affected? 

 

As we reported a few weeks ago, Takata airbags are present in dozens of popular makes and models produced over the past decade. These include Toyotas, Subarus, Nissans, Mazdas, Mitsubishi, Hondas, Fords, Chryslers, BMW, and GM cars. All told, 14 million vehicles have been recalled – 8 million in the United States. Honda has suffered the most – the Japanese automaker has had to recall 5-plus million vehicles just in the U.S. 

 

Does my car have a defective airbag? 

 

To figure out whether your car has been affected by the Takata recall, head to http://www.safecar.gov, and enter your vehicle’s VIN number on the website.  

 

What is the problem with these airbags? 

 

The problem is simple and terrifying. Under certain high humidity situations, the airbags can blow up aggressively, shattering a metal canister inside and releasing shrapnel like a bomb, which can lacerate passengers and drivers. To date, this defect has been linked to numerous injuries as well as five deaths.  

 

Why does humidity trigger an explosion? 

 

Federal investigators, along with Takata officials, suspect that chronic moisture exposure can speed up the combustion of ammonium nitrate in the airbag system. This generates excess pressure, when then shatters the inflator canisters. It’s unknown at this point how much humidity is needed to set off this ammonium nitrate defect.  

 

How broad is the recall? 

 

At first, investigators confined the recall to regions of the United States that are known to have high humidity, including the Gulf Coast States, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands and Guam. On Tuesday, the government sought to broaden the scope of the recall to all 50 states. This act would force the recall of an additional 8 million vehicles. Takata initially refused these demands from the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration. We will report more on that critical story in our next blog post. 

 

If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective airbag or other auto part — or if you suspect that a damaged or defective part played a role in a recent car accident — contact the Washington D.C. defective product attorneys here at Regan, Zambri & Long to schedule a confidential consultation about your rights. 

 

Here’s another article that gives a birdseye perspective on the Takata recall issue: The Exploding Air Bag Problem