Do I Need an Auto Accident Attorney?
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not you need legal representation following an auto accident. While every auto accident is unique, there are several situations in which you should definitely consider contacting an experienced auto accident attorney.
- When a serious injury or death occurred. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an accident, contact an attorney immediately. Hiring an attorney in a timely manner can help protect your rights and ensure that essential evidence is preserved. Serious injuries include broken bones, soft tissue damage, head and face injuries, neck and back injuries, or any other injury requiring hospitalization.
- When a loss of wages occurs. If an accident has cost you time away from work and resulted in lost income, you may be able to recover those lost wages from the responsible party.
- When a commercial vehicle is involved. If you were involved in an accident that involved a commercial vehicle, such as a delivery truck or an 18-wheeler, it is better to err on the side of caution. Accidents involving company vehicles can become complicated very quickly as company vehicles are subject to additional laws and regulations. You need an attorney who has the experience and resources to navigate these complex cases.
- When there is contested liability. If there is any dispute about who caused the accident, an attorney can help you make sure that any fault determinations are correct. In Texas, civil litigation is decided on preponderance of evidence. This means that a party found to be 51% liable or more is unable to recover damages. Additionally, insurance companies will often dispute liability and assert their policyholder was not entirely responsible for a crash to mitigate payouts.
- When an insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement. If an insurance company is not offering a fair settlement, it is time to contact an attorney. Insurance companies are in the business of making money – as such, they will attempt to payout as little as possible. If you believe you deserve more than what an insurance company is offering, do not be afraid to seek legal representation.
- When an insurance company ignores you. Some insurance companies will drag their feet and ignore your phone calls as a tactic. The hope is that you will be so fed up with the process by the time they make an offer that you will accept a settlement that is less than what you deserve. If you feel that an insurance company is ignoring you or attempting to delay the closure of your claim, contact an attorney to apply pressure.
- Your claim was denied. Occasionally, and insurer will attempt to deny a justified claim outright. If you feel that your claim should be covered under a policy, contact an attorney.
- When you have questions. If you are ever unsure about your rights following an accident or have questions about how you should proceed, contact Thomas J. Henry for a free consultation. One of our experienced personal injury attorneys will review your case and help you determine if legal representation is right for you. Our attorneys are available to assist you 24/7, nights and weekends.
Ford Expands F-Series Pickup Door Latch Recall
Details of the Ford F-Series Recall Expansion
According to the Car Connection, the recall was expanded from covering 551 vehicles, 247 of which were sold in the U.S., to covering 14,410 pickups in the U.S.
The root problem is described as aftermarket door handle covers manufactured by Putco in Des Moines, Iowa and sold by Ford dealerships. According to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the covers can result in doors unlatching during a side-impact collision.
For obvious reasons, this defect can significantly increase the risk of injury to the truck’s occupants should such a collision occur.
Vehicles Now Covered by the Recall
With the expansion, the recall now includes the following models:
- 2014-2017 Ford F-150
- 2017 Ford F-250
- 2017 Ford F-350
- 2017 Ford F-450
- 2017 Ford F-550
Owners of recalled vehicles can expet to be notified July 21, 2017.
Millions of Recalled Takata Vehicles May Have To Be Recalled Again
Around 100 million Takata brand replacement airbags that are set to be installed in vehicles may have to have to be replaced. This was discovered after tests showed that 2.7 million of the replacement airbags were defective.
About the Defective Airbags
NBC News reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that the new replacement airbags from Takata were found to be defective.
The 2.7 million defective airbags that were tested and found to be defective contained a drying agent called calcium sulfate, and the others contained zeolite.
The issue is that moisture has been getting into Takata airbag inflators, and this causes a potentially lethal ammonium nitrate compound to be released.
Takata tried to remedy this problem by using a drying compound in the airbag inflators so it would lessen the possibility of the airbags exploding. However, experts are skeptical that this will solve this massive issue for the auto industry.
More Details on the Recall
Around 20 automakers have been affected by this recall including Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, who have stated that they will no longer be using Takata inflators.
According to Keiichi Hori, who oversees automotive safety components at the Japan Explosives Society, the compounds in the airbag replacements can reduce the chances of explosions, but it can’t eliminate the possibility of it occurring.
Bike Safety Tips for Kids
Summer is a great time to go biking with your children around the neighborhood. However, it can also be a dangerous activity if you aren’t smart about how you’re biking. Here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on how to stay safe while biking with your family.
Double-Check Your Equipment
It’s important to make sure that all of your bike equipment is in working order before you go for a ride. Check to see if your bike tires are filled with air and there aren’t any issues with your tire chain. Also, test your brakes while riding at a slow speed before you ride at high speeds or on hills to ensure that they work. Most importantly, make sure that everyone in your family is wearing a helmet so there’s no risk for brain injuries.
Depending on what you’re wearing, you may not be visible to drivers when you’re biking near a road. Cyclists should wear vests with reflective tape on it so that they’re more noticeable to drivers if you’re biking when there isn’t a lot of sunlight.
Watch The Roads
If you decide to ride your bike on the road, you must be very aware of your surroundings. You need to look around for broken glass, potholes, and vehicles that are driving too close. If you’re turning while riding in the road, put out either your left arm or your right arm to signal to the vehicles behind you that you’re turning. Make sure that you don’t make any sudden movements, and that drivers will be able to anticipate your next move.
Don’t Ride at Night
If you’re with your kids, it’s best to make sure that they can always see and be seen while they’re riding their bikes. Parents should avoid biking with their kids at night, and they should also set a curfew for their children if they go out with friends around sunset.
Stick to Riding On Sidewalks
Some experienced adult bicyclists are fine riding bikes on the road. However, kids should stay away from riding on the road. Children are more likely to fall or not pay attention to what’s going on around them while they’re riding bikes. It’s best if they stay on the sidewalks where they can fall and not be at risk for being hit by a vehicle.
Police Not Waiting for Recall, Begin Pulling Ford Explorers for Carbon Monoxide Leaks
As the public waits for Ford to issue a recall on its 5th-generation Explorers, the Austin police department has decided to take action, pulling dozens of Ford Explorer patrol vehicles from its fleet due to reports from officers that their vehicle interiors are filling with dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks a Known Issue in Ford Explorer Vehicles
So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 150 complaints concerning carbon monoxide leaks in 5th-generation (2011-2017) Ford Explorers.
Additionally, Ford has faced at least one class action lawsuit, which began after a 5-year-old girl suffered from carbon monoxide. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement that included any owner or lessee of a 2011-2015 Explorer from Florida dealerships.
Despite all this, Ford has refused to issue a recall on the defective vehicles, instead opting for the issuance of technical safety bulletins; however, that may all change amid national news coverage that Ford Explorer-related carbon monoxide leaks are becoming a growing problem for our nation’s law enforcement.
Austin PD Becomes Hotbed of Ford Explorer-Related Carbon Monoxide Illness
The Austin Police Department says the first incident of carbon monoxide exposure in a Ford Explorer patrol vehicle occurred back in March. In that instance, an officer, Zachary LaHood, began to feel nauseated before striking a curb and calling for help.
Officer LaHood has since made a full recovery and has filed a lawsuit against the Ford.
Since the incident, APD has placed paper carbon and hardwired monoxide detectors in all Ford utility vehicles. Things seemed to quite down for APD until last week when six officers reported carbon monoxide leaks over a six week period.
These reports were followed by the hospitalization of two more APD officers who fell ill Wednesday evening due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The conditions of the officers have not been released.
Police Department Pulls Ford Explorer Vehicles from Fleet as Lawsuits Mount
In reaction to the string of carbon monoxide incidents, the Austin Police Department has begun pulling their modified Ford Explorers from their fleet. So far, the department has pulled 37 interceptors from service, and the city is considering whether to replace all of its 400 Ford Explorer patrol vehicles (about 60 percent of its fleet).
In addition to LaHood’s lawsuit, CNN reports that at least three officers from other states are considering bringing their own lawsuits. Among those is a 30-year-old officer from Northern California who suffered a stroke after suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
Officials with NHTSA say they are investigating the patrol vehicles as well as civilian Ford Explorers.
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Every year, 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires. Additionally, more than 20,000 visit emergency departments, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
Even when not fatal, carbon monoxide poisoning can have long lasting effects including irreversible brain damage, loss of memory, and other mental impairment.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Dull headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
If you think you or someone you are with may have carbon monoxide, seek emergency medical care immediately.
Contact an Experienced Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If you or a loved one has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Thomas J. Henry has handled numerous carbon monoxide cases and has knowledge and resources necessary to represent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thomas J. Henry injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends. Contact us now for a free consultation.
Children Are Still Getting Injured Riding ATVs Despite Warnings
A new study has found that young children are still getting injured and killed in ATV crashes, despite warnings from pediatricians warning parents to not let children under 16 ride all-terrain vehicles.
Details of the ATV Accident Study
Beginning in 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children under the age of 16 be restricted from ATV use. Additionally, riders have been urged to wear helmets, refrain from taking passengers, and to avoid roads.
In the face of these warnings, the mortality rate from ATV crashes involving children under 18 has remained consistent over the past few years.
In their study, researchers examined data on 1,912 patients under age of 18 who were injured while riding an ATV. All patients were treated in trauma centers in Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2014.
The analysis included, 28 children who were killed in ATV accidents. This averages to about one death for every 100,000 kids in the population.
While the study did find a slight decrease in the injury rate, from 6.7 kids per 100,000 children over the first five years to 5.8 kids per 100,000 over the second five years, the decline was not large enough to rule out the possibility the drop was simply the product of chance.
ATV Safety Tips
The following information was provided by the ATV Safety Institute:
- Always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves when riding an ATV.
- Avoid riding on paved roads except to cross when done in a manner that is safe and permitted by law.
- Never operate or ride an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV or more than one passenger on a two-person ATV.
- Only ride on designated trails and at safe speeds.
How To Stay Safe While Driving in Work Zones
Driving in work zones can prove to be extremely hazardous to drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that, over the past 5 years, 4,400 people have died and around 200,000 more were injured in work zone crashes. They also reported that drivers are most frequently killed in work zone crashes.
In order to be prepared for avoiding accidents in work zones, here are some quick tips to keep you safe on the road.
Be Alert While Driving
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re on a long road trip and you slowly become less aware of what’s going on around you. You may enter a work zone quickly and all of a sudden the speed limit and traffic patterns have changed completely.
When you’re driving, make sure that you’re always paying close attention to the road and the other cars around you in case you quickly approach a work zone.
Don’t Drive While Distracted
People make small movements to change the radio station or look for something in their car while driving. While this may not seem like a big deal, just a second or two of being distracted by something in your car can lead you to having an accident.
Don’t look away from the road while changing radio stations while you’re driving, and avoid trying to find various objects in your car. Also, most importantly, never text and drive. A two-word text message isn’t worth the grief that will be felt by your loved ones after a distracted driving accident.
Obey the Speed Limit
It’s common for people to want to go a little faster than the speed limit while driving since it’s fairly common on highways. However, you should always drive at the speed limit because they have been put in place to show the safest speed at which you should drive. On top of that, if you speed in a work zone, you may be fined heavily.
When you drive by a speed limit sign on the highway, just take a quick glance at your speedometer to make sure that you’re driving at a safe speed.
Be Careful When Merging
There can be a lot of close calls with other vehicles when you’re merging into another lane. Blind spots in your rearview mirrors can put you in a dangerous situation if you don’t double-check if there are cars around you while you merge.
To avoid any accidents, be very aware of the cars around you when you’re merging. Traffic patterns can change daily, and sometimes merge signs come up sooner than you think, so always check the signs around you while you’re driving. Also make sure that you’re that you’re merging when the paving markings show that you’re allowed to do so.
Workers and vehicles might move around unexpectedly in a work zone, and you need to always be on the lookout for any possible hazards. Vehicles might block off lanes on the highway, or they may start putting cones in a lane that will force you to merge into another lane. This is common in work zones, so you should always expect something about traffic to be different when you’re entering one.
When Can a School Be Held Liable for a Child’s Injuries?
Our children spend nearly a quarter of their waking hours on school property. Therefore, it is not necessarily surprising that roughly 25 percent of all unintentional child injuries occur on or around school grounds.
As parents, we have an innate desire to protect our children from harm and, and we do everything in our power to shield our children from danger – but, who is responsible for your child’s safety when he or she is at school? And if a serious accident occurs, who should be held accountable?
The answers to these questions are not necessarily as simple as they should be.
A Question of Negligence
Generally, schools are expected to take reasonable measure to provide a safe environment for their students. This includes:
- Preventing harm caused by other students, teachers, or staff.
- Ensuring that there are no known structural problems with the school building or ground.
- Not allowing any person to enter the building without permission.
This does not mean, however, that schools are insurers of a student’s safety. If, for example, a child should fall while running down a flight of stairs, the school would not likely be liable as the incident was caused by the child’s actions.
Instead, whether a school is held accountable for a child’s injury normally comes down to a question of negligence. Did the school or a school official breach their duty of care to a student by creating an unsafe environment or by failing to address a known, unsafe situation or condition?
Common Examples of Negligence by a School
If a child is injured while at school or on school grounds, the school may be held accountable if:
- School officials were aware of bullying incidents, but did nothing to stop or prevent them.
- Necessary medication was not given to a student, or medication was not administered properly.
- Cafeteria personnel failed to properly cook lunch items or served food that was not fit for human consumption.
- A school was aware of damaged walls, stairs, or playground equipment, but did not make the necessary repairs.
- A school failed to enact adequate evacuation plans or ensure that fire alarms were working properly.
- School personnel ignored security policies, or did not notice a stranger entering the school without permission.
- A child suffered injury could have been prevented had the child been under proper supervision.
Who Is Accountable for My Child’s Injury?
Most often, we see a school as a single entity, a building all under singular supervision. In truth, however, it takes multiple parties to build and run a school.
There are outside contractors responsible for the building and maintenance of the building, contractors responsible for barriers like fences, third parties who provide janitorial services and food.
This means that if you child was injured on playground equipment while at recess, the manufacturer of the equipment may be liable, not the school. If your child slips on a recently mopped floor that was not properly marked by janitor, your claim may need to be filed against an outside contractor instead of the school district.
It is because issues like these that injuries suffered children in school settings are so complex. Such instances should not be taken lightly and should be addressed immediately.
What is a Duty of Care?
Establishing a duty of care is essential in proving negligence in a personal injury case. Beyond that, an attorney must demonstrate that an individual or business breached their duty by performing an action that resulted in reasonably forseeable harm to others. Below are common questions clients may have concerning how duty of care relates to their case.
How Does the Law Define a Duty of Care?
A duty of care requires that an individual adheres to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could forseeably harm others. This includes practicing the same watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable person would practice in similar circumstances.
When an individual’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent and the individual may be liable for any damages resulting from said actions.
A common example in which a duty of care is owed is when an individual is operating a motor vehicle. As a motorist, an individual owes a duty of care not only to other drivers, but to all other road users. This requirement can be traced back as far as 1832 when Boss v Litton determined that “all persons, paralytic as well as others, have a right to walk on the road and are entitled to the reasonable care on the part of persons driving carriages upon it.”
When Does a Business Owe a Duty of Care?
Individuals are not the only ones who can owe a duty of care. The law requires that the same standard be applied to business and organizations when certain relationships are established. Some examples of this are:
- Property Owners – Business owners have a duty to care to those who come onto their property; however, the length at which a property owner must go to protect visitors generally depends on the visitor’s status. For example, a trespasser will receive little or no care while customers are generally provided a high level of care.
- Manufacturers – A company that makes a product generally has a duty of care to the consumers who buy and use it. This includes ensuring that the product is reasonably safe and properly warning consumers about and dangers the product may pose.
- Commercial Trucking Companies – Commercial vehicle companies have a duty of care to their drivers and to all other persons on the road. Included in this duty of care is the duty maintain their vehicles’ vital parts in proper working order, including brakes, tires, steering mechanisms, and emergency equipment.
What Constitutes a Breach of Duty?
When considering whether a defendant has breached his or her duty of care toward a plaintiff, courts will often ask the following:
- Did the defendant owe a duty of care to the plaintiff? If so, was it a general duty of care or was the duty of care based on a special relationship such as professional liability, medical liability, or premises liability?
- Did the defendant fail to provide the same amount of care that a reasonable person would have provided in a similar position.
- Did the defendant foresee the risk of harm to the plaintiff? If not, should the defendant reasonably have foreseen the risk of harm?
- Were there alternatives available that may have prevented the harm of the plaintiff?
- Was the burden of using a safer alternative significantly higher than the risk involved in not using it?
While no single question can prove a breach of duty happened, courts can consider all of these questions together to determine if, when applied to the specific facts of a case, they suggest a breach of duty occurred.
What to Consider When Buying a Crib
A crib is one of the largest and most important purchases you will make when preparing for your child’s birth. Solidifying the fact that your baby is well on its way, many soon-to-be mothers and fathers spend hours reviewing potential cribs for the perfect match to their child’s nursery.
However, while you are stressing over the right size, right style, and right color don’t forget to consider your child’s safety.
Proper Spacing Between Slats
Wide slats can pose an entrapment hazard to your little one. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says cribs should have no more than 2 3/8 inches between slats and corer posts. Don’t be afraid to bring a ruler with you when crib shopping.
Corner Posts Should Not Be Higher than End Panels
Corner posts should be no more than 1/16 of an inch higher than end panels. Raised corner posts can catch on your babies clothing, possibly posing a choking or entrapment hazard.
Check for Splits and Cracks
Upon unboxing your baby’s crib, check thoroughly for splits, cracks, chips, and splinter. Stray pieces of wood can result in scratches, punctures, spinsters, eye injuries, and even choking hazards when detached from the rest of the crib.
Make Sure the Mattress Fits Snugly in the Crib
When checking how a mattress fits, use the two finger test. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, the mattress is not a good fit and can pose an entrapment hazard.
Bare is Best
Do not put plush toys, soft bedding, or blankets in the crib. Medical professionals and organizations agree that a mattress with a tight, fitted sheet is all that needed. Anything else can pose a suffocation hazard.
Avoid Bumper Pads
While bumper pads may seem like a reasonable safety product, the American Academy of Pediatrics have determined that they increase the risk of SIDS and crib-related death.
Check for Sharp Edges or Hardware
Thoroughly examine your crib for any sharp corners or protruding nuts and bolts. A safe crib with have hardware that fits flush against the wood, at least in areas that are within the child’s vicinity.