Product Liability: Takata Airbags

Sometimes, social media curate the news, and sometimes they make the news with various memes and #hashtags that go viral to create news items of general interest of their own.

Sometimes, the news will create its own hashtag, and not in a good way. Why? Because this hashtag actually doesn’t make it into social media; it’s just a PR nightmare.

#Takata is not a thing on social media, but it is a dangerous word in the automotive industry these days. So in its own way, Takata has become a “thing.”

Takata is a Japanese firm that has a contract with many U.S. and foreign automakers for manufacturing the airbag systems in hundreds of models of vehicles on the road. It has been a trusted partner, until about two years ago, when an initial recall was ordered from some defective airbags. Those few defective airbags eventually morphed into the largest auto recall of any kind in automotive history.

How large is it? Well consider that Takata has been manufacturing and installing airbags into model cars for as many as 19 different automakers over 14 model years (2002 to 2015). If you carry the one, that’s an awful lot of cars to be recalled. Over the last year, the recall has tripled in size and now apparently involves as many as 37 million U.S. vehicles.

The recall stemmed from an inflator inside the airbags, which on occasion would ignite and explode. Other airbags would deploy and send shards of metal from a ruptured inflator casing into the passenger cabin, putting all passengers in the car at risk of injury. The recalls have resulted in several class-action lawsuits over the last couple of years, with many of the automakers suing Takata for relief.

The most recent result came in July, when Ford Motor Company settled with Takata with a deal that would put some compensatory damages in the hands of those involved in the class action p plus other Ford car owners who wish to participate; and Ford will give loaner cars while vehicles are waiting for repairs to the airbags. The parts are backlogged by weeks or months, so the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is helping with the delivery of parts by prioritizing areas with high concentration of Takata airbags, as well as those vehicles which seem to have a higher risk of explosion to gain top priority for any new parts delivery.

In the meantime, the NHTSA is asking owners of model-year vehicles from 2002 to 2015 to refer to their vehicle identification number (VIN) and enter it into an online database that can give status updates on any recalls pending for those vehicles, stop ensure that all affected vehicles are found and repaired as quickly as possible, So far, none of the models are deemed undrivable, but extreme caution is urged until the repairs can be made.

What To Do About Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft occurs when one’s vehicle is taken by another without permission. Technically, such theft would be considered a larceny under the law. A larceny, in simplest terms, is any theft of personal property. However, due to the severity of motor vehicle theft, and the frequency that they occur, the government has designated this form of theft its own category. Thus, motor vehicle theft has its own punishments and laws that come with it.

Penalties For Motor Vehicle Theft

Typically, motor vehicle theft is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the state and severity of the crime. However, some states have additional nuanced penalties depending on the type of motor vehicle theft committed. For example, in the state of Alaska, operating the vehicle in “a dangerous way” during the theft increases the potential punishment. In California, if the vehicle stolen was a police car, the level of vehicle theft increases from a misdemeanor to a serious felony. Texas gets even more nuanced — if the vehicle theft was committed in county designated by the governor as disaster area, the penalties are increased. Furthermore, as is typically the case with most crime, repeat offenses increase the severity of the penalties associated with it.

What Do I Do?

Well, if you’re a driver, it is relatively simple to protect yourself from being a victim of motor vehicle theft. There are a few crucial steps to minimize your potential risks. First, always make sure to lock your car doors. Even if you are just going outside your vehicle for a brief moment, this step is imperative. Next, make sure that all of your windows are rolled up completely. Don’t forget the sun roof if your car has one! In addition to these steps, you want to place all valuables out of sight. This means they can go in the trunk, glove compartment, or stay with you. Lastly, you can always opt to put an alarm sticker on your car window, informing potential thieves that you are secure.

If you have been accused of motor vehicle theft, the following steps are not quite as simple. In some cases, this accusation may be truthful, in others, the situation may be far more complex. Regardless, there is one step ubiquitous to all cases: contacting a criminal defense attorney. They can help develop a legal defense to best represent you and your motor vehicle theft case.

Who Is Liable For An Accident Due To Brake Failure?

Being in a car accident is scary, especially when its due to brake failure. Losing control of the car and crashing into something can cause serious injury to you, passengers and other drivers. When this happens to you, it might seem like you are liable for any damages. However, that’s not the case.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) survey on motor vehicle accidents, around 2% of accidents are caused solely by issues with the vehicle itself, such as brake failure. This figure encompasses two primary categories: manufacturing defects and design defects. The former refers to an automotive defect resulting from a poor manufacturing job in the factory. Typically, this will be a more isolated incident than one stemming from a design defect. Contrarily, if there is an issue with the car’s design, all of the cars matching that model and year are likely affected.

In order for an attorney to demonstrate that the manufacturer is liable for the accident, the issue with the brakes must be proven unreasonably dangerous. Further, this defect must be shown to be a direct cause of the injury. Often, such defects result in rear-end collisions with another vehicle. One important factor in determining liability in such accidents is driver negligence. Were the brakes really defective, or was the driver distracted and not paying attention to the road? Was the driver aware of their vehicle’s poor condition, or was it a surprise failure?

If the brakes can be shown to be faulty by an impartial mechanic shortly after the accident, an attorney can likely help you sue the vehicle’s manufacturer. In some cases, the car dealership or a mechanic can be liable as well. However, if the driver is proven to have been distracted, these claims are no longer viable and they must assume liability. Similarly, if the driver was aware of the poor condition of their vehicle before taking it on the road, they will be liable a result of negligence.

Often, in collisions due to brake failure, the liability is split between both parties. It is common for both drivers to have been acting recklessly and even illegally before the accident occurred. For example, one driver may have been going over the speed limit when crossing an intersection, failing to hit the brakes in time and hitting another car who was running a red light. Both drivers were acting unsafely, and thus would both share the liability for this accident.

In any regard, accidents involving or claiming to involve vehicle defects are complex situations centered around product liability law. To best protect yourself, contact an experienced auto accidents attorney to assist with your case.

Will I be Held Liable if my Car was Stolen and in an Accident?

Unfortunately, car accidents happen every day. They can be a tragic event involving fatalities or as small as a tiny dent on a bumper. Regardless, all car accidents should be reported to the police and the respective drivers’ insurance companies.

The only thing worse than being in a car accident yourself, is if your car is stolen and involved in an accident. Not only do you have to deal with the stress that comes along with a stolen vehicle, but you have to deal with the stress of your car being in an accident.

What Are Your Responsible For?

Well, first off, when you discover that your car was stolen, you should:

Call the Police: Tell the police all about your car. Let them know that it has been stolen, the make, model, color, license plate, and any other important information.

Call your insurance company: After you call the police, the next step is to call your insurance company. In case anything happens with the vehicle, you should document that the vehicle was stolen.

Are You Liable?

If your car has been stolen and has been involved in an accident, you will not be held liable. The reasoning behind this ruling is that you did not willfully lend your car out to someone.

Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft

The first step to avoiding a situation like this is to take steps to ensure the security of your vehicle. Some tips to prevent auto theft are:

  • Have a security system installed
  • Try not to park in high crime areas
  • Avoid dark, shady areas
  • Purchase auto theft insurance

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you, or your vehicle, has been in a car accident, the next best step after alerting the authorities is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. A car accident attorney will investigate your case and decide whether or not you will be held liable. In the case that you are injured in the said crash, a car accident attorney will file a lawsuit.


Steps You Should Follow After A Car Accident

Car accidents are a stressful experience and the collision can be terrifying. A car accident can leave you with injuries that range from mild, like a sprain or fracture, to severe, like a traumatic brain injury or paralysis, and in some cases death. Car accidents tend to have long lasting effects, whether it is an injury or emotional stress from being in the accident and possibly having to get a new car. If you are involved in a car accident and are injured you should contact an experienced car accident attorney.

Steps To Take After a Car Accident

After a car accident, there are some important steps you should follow; they are:

  1. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries: Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If you discover an injury, call 911 immediately.
  2. Stay at the scene: It is important that you remain at the scene of an accident until it is appropriate to leave. If you leave the scene early and the other driver suffered damages, injuries, or died in the accident, you may be brought up on criminal charges as a hit-and-run driver.
  3. Get to safety: If you are able to, pull over to the side of the road. Proceed by turning your engine off, turning on your hazard lights, and setting up road flares, if you have any. By turning on your hazards and putting out road flares, other drivers will be able to see you and avoid a collision with your car.
  4. Call the police: Whether you are in a fender bender or a major car accident, call the police. The police will come and file a report. You should ask if it is possible for you to obtain a copy of the accident report. The accident report outlines what happened, often proving fault and noting if any traffic laws were violated.
  5. Exchange Information: When things begin to settle, it is important that you exchange information with the other driver. It is recommended that you do not discuss fault of the accident or any other facts about the accident with the other driver involved in the collision. Some documents you will want to take note of are:
    1. Full name and contact information
    2. Insurance company and policy number
    3. Driver’s license and license plate number
    4. Type, color, and model of the vehicle
    5. Location of accident
  6. Document the accident: In an effort to protect yourself, you should document the accident. Take the following steps:
    1. Identify the officers: Get the name and badge number of all police officers who respond to the call.
    2. Get a copy of the police report: Ask a police officer if you can have a copy of the accident report.
    3. Take pictures: Take pictures of the accident from different angles; try to get the other driver’s license plate in one of the pictures.
    4. Take down a name: Write down names and addresses of every party involved. This includes passengers in the other vehicle.
    5. Talk to witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the accident, take note of their full name and contact information, as well.
  7. Inform your insurance company: Let your insurance company know you were involved in an accident. Be truthful, cooperate with them, and let them know of any injuries you have suffered. If you are not truthful with your insurance company, they withhold the right to deny you coverage of the incident and future insurance coverage. Obtain a copy of the police report for proof of fault.
  8. Keep track of medical visits: Note any doctors visits, physical therapy, or any other medical professional you receive treatment from. Keep a record of all treatments or medications you receive. Request copies of all medical reports and bills in order to help you prove your medical expenses later. 
    Tracking pain and suffering can be difficult. In order to do so, take note of how your injuries affect your day-to-day life. It is important to keep track of any missed work days, a list of any activities you cannot partake in, and describe how the injuries have affected your family life.
  9. Hire an attorney: If you have been in a car accident and you or a member of the crash was injured, you should contact a car accident attorney. A car accident attorney will help you either maximize your recovery for damages or defend you, if necessary.

Car Accidents Deaths By State

The number of deaths that have been a result car crashes in the United States has increased over the past few years by around 6%-7% a year. In 2014, the total number of deaths due to crashes was 32,744, in 2015, the number of crashes was 35,092 (+7.2%), and in 2016, that number rose to 37,461 (+6.3%). The total number of injuries also increased from 2014 to 2015 4.5%. The overall goal every year is to have the rate of deaths by car accident go in the opposite direction than they have been in recent years. Drivers can take a number of preemptive measures to prevent death in the occurrence of an accident. For example, wearing your seatbelt, following traffic laws, and practicing other various defensive driving techniques.

Top 5 States by Total Number of Car Accident Deaths

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), some states have a higher number of car accident related deaths. The top five states with the highest car accident related deaths are:

  1. Texas – 3,776
  2. California – 3,623
  3. Florida – 3,174
  4. Georgia – 1,554
  5. North Carolina – 1,450

Texas finished in the number one spot for this category, making it one of the most dangerous states to drive in, based on the sheer number of auto accident related deaths. North Carolina rounded out the top five with 1,450 car accident related deaths. Tennessee was not too far behind, rounding out the top ten with a total of 1,041 car accident related deaths.

Top 5 States by Car Accident Deaths Because of Various Factors

According to the records of the IIHS, one of the factors that weigh into the total number of an auto accident deaths is intoxicated driving. The top five states where the largest number of drivers who had died in a car accident and were found with a BAC greater than or equal to .08 are:

  1. Texas – 811
  2. Florida – 636
  3. North Carolina – 531
  4. Georgia – 470
  5. California – 470

Texas finished with the most car accident deaths with an illegal BAC with 811. California rounded out the top five with 470. Tennessee finished with 343 car accident deaths with a BAC result; that was bad enough to rank them 11th in the United States.

Another factor that weighs into the total number of deaths due to car accidents is the use of a restraint. A restraint was defined by the IIHS as a seat belt or a child’s car seat. The top five states with the most non-restraint use related deaths are:

  1. Texas – 935
  2. Florida – 747
  3. California – 587
  4. Georgia – 477
  5. North Carolina – 432

Once again the state of Texas finished first with 1,247 non-restraint use related deaths. Georgia rounded out the top five. Tennessee had the 10th most non-restraint use death (348).

Based on the information given by the IIHS we can conclude that some of the most deadly states to drive in are Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Although those finished top five in a lot of categories, that does not mean that other states are not deadly as well. Tennessee was around ten for most categories, making it on the more dangerous side of the 50 states.

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If you are a resident of Tennessee and your loved one has died as a result of a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for a wrongful death suit. Contact us at Memphis Law Firm. We have the expertise necessary to get you the highest compensation package you deserve.

Autonomous Driving Car Accidents: Who Is Liable?

We’re entering a new age of automation that will affect all walks of life. The way we work, the way we manufacture, and the way we drive will all be replaced quickly by radically new paradigms. What does that mean for liability on the road? Sooner or later, it will likely be illegal to manually drive a vehicle on city roads. That day isn’t even close, but it’s coming. Sadly, regulations have yet to catch up to the technological reality of where driverless vehicles are today.

Autonomous Driving Cars

Tesla was one of the first automakers to release software for its line of luxury vehicles that even closely resembles a fully driverless capability, and it only works on certain stretches of highway. Although there have been accidents already (of course), the driver was always liable. Although autopilot was enabled for these vehicles at the time of the accidents, the software comes with the stipulation that the driver be ready to take over at any time. In one case, the driver was actually attempting to test the limits of the software when the crash occurred. Since then, Tesla has updated its vehicles to automatically turn autopilot features off when the driver removes his or her hands from the steering wheel.

Who’s Liable?

Because driverless vehicles are allowed on our roadways but don’t have strict regulations governing liability, courts will have to deal with each situation on a case by case basis. If you were involved in an accident with a driverless vehicle, then you may be entitled to compensation. Speak with a car accident law firm to determine whether or not you have a case. Basic common-sense regulations govern these newly evolving laws. Negligence will likely determine whether or not someone will be blamed. If the manufacturer didn’t address an obvious technical flaw, then the manufacturer will be blamed. If the driver played around the vehicle’s electronics, then the driver will likely be blamed for any resulting malfunction, etc.

We can look across the Atlantic in order to have a better idea of where our own driverless vehicle legislation might end up. The UK parliament drafted The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill in order to determine liability for driverless accidents.

Under this legislation, insurance companies will be liable for general death and injury that occurs during driverless operations–so long as the vehicle is insured. If the human driver engaged driverless functionality when it was dangerous to do so, the human driver would remain liable. If the vehicle’s operating system was tampered with, then the insurance company would be freed from liability. If the driver failed to install required updates in a timely fashion, the driver would be liable. Last but not least, a mechanic might be held liable for an autonomous driving car accident if a repair failed or resulted in a defect.

These laws are just a framework, and they will pave the way to a world we’ll see soon enough.

What Causes Highway Car Accidents?

Car accidents are terrifying no matter what. Usually, you don’t know what happened until you and the other driver are both out of the car–and that’s assuming the other guy doesn’t decide to run away. Highway car accidents can be even more hectic, because there’s a much higher probability that other vehicles will be involved. Sometimes, dozens or hundreds of vehicles can pile up on a crowded highway, causing chaos, hysteria, and compounding the number of injuries or deaths. So what causes highway car accidents?

The short answer is easy: human error. Accidents are called accidents because they are the result of mistakes and usually simple ones at that. If all drivers followed the guidelines set forth by law, fewer accidents would result anywhere, highway or otherwise.

Causes of Highway Car Accidents

One primary cause of highway car accidents is distracted driving. Picking up that cell phone to take an incoming text might not seem like a big deal, but it reduces the amount of time spent watching the road by about 400 percent. Even though most people know they shouldn’t do it, a greater number acknowledge that they do it anyway. Distracted drivers are responsible for about a quarter of all car accidents.

Drinking and driving is another major factor. Huge numbers of people drink and drive. In some demographics, the number reaches as high as 30 percent. About a third of all traffic accidents are the result of alcohol impairment. When combined with distracted driving, we can now account for about 55 percent of all traffic-related accidents.

Highways are unique in that many people feel the need for speed when driving on them. Some even believe that speed is a crucial aspect to highway driving. The faster you drive, the more likely it is that you’ll lose control. On top of that, more speed almost always results in more damage and a higher probability of serious injury or death when an accident does take place.

Reckless driving accounts for nearly all the rest. Teen drivers are most likely to drive recklessly. Weaving in and out of traffic or bouncing back and forth from lane to lane for no reason whatsoever is common enough. When driving on the highway, it is absolutely critical to leave enough space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you that you can stop without slamming into the vehicle in front of you. Reckless drivers don’t care, and most drivers don’t realize how much space is enough to avoid an accident. If you’re driving at normal highway speed limits (and most people drive above it), then sixty feet isn’t enough room to slam on your brakes without slamming into the car directly in front of you. If you tailgate and hit the car in front of you, you are almost always liable for any damage or injury that results. Don’t do it.

If you’ve been in an accident, then seek legal counsel immediately.

How Do You Determine Lost Wages From A Car Accident?

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, then you know all about the uncertainty that results from that fateful moment. Will you recover fully? Will you still have the same earning capabilities that you did before your accident? Will your insurance cover the injuries that you incurred? If you were at fault, will your insurance cover any other injuries that resulted from the accident? What about the time spent recovering or going through physical therapy, when you’re unable to work? You’re in luck: the proper legal counsel will help you determine all this and more. Here’s how to determine the wages you lose after suffering an injury in a car accident.

Documents You Will Need

First of all, it’s important to know that you need the right documentation in order to prove that you missed out on wages due to your car accident. You can’t just take the time off from work. In order to show that you missed this time as a result of injuries sustained, you need to keep track of your medical expenses and ensure that the medical personnel looking after you have accurately described the ordeal. A doctor’s note will describe this in full, and provide an estimate of how much time a given injury will take to heal before you can reasonably be expected to return to your job.

Once that step is completed, you need to gather a few more things just in case: a month’s worth of paystubs in order to determine average earnings, a recent tax return or W-2 in order to provide similar information, and a letter directly from your employer. The letter should describe your employment status.

How to Calculate Lost Wages

If you make an hourly wage, then determine the number of hours you weren’t able to work. Multiply the wage by the number of hours you missed, and you have the lost wages calculation.

If you are on salary, then it gets more complicated. Your salary must first be divided by the number of work hours in a year (2080). After that number is calculated, you can multiply it by the hours missed.

These are basic calculations, but it can get more complicated if you were on the verge of a new promotion or another form of raise. This depends on where you live. Many states limit the recovering of lost wages to net income instead.

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These are the basics, and every situation is unique. If you were permanently disabled and suffer an injury that can reduce your productivity, then in all likelihood you won’t be able to achieve the same promotions and merit raises that you would have otherwise. If you believe this applies to your case, then be sure to discuss your circumstances with a qualified car accident law firm or personal injury attorney.

Accident Statistics Involving Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses perhaps the single greatest growing health risk to Americans today. Yesterday, it was the danger that results from drinking and driving. Now, it’s the danger that results from driving with a phone in your hand. The statistics show a trend toward increased cell phone use while driving, and the consequences for being caught on your phone are serious. If you cause an accident because of distracted driving, the consequences grow exponentially. Automated vehicles won’t solve this problem anytime soon, so it’s important to know what the statistics mean to you.

Distracted Driving Statistics

There are nearly 330 million people living in the United States, and by 2009 about 210 million of those were licensed drivers. That number experiences an annual increase of over 1.5 percent, and so the number of licensed drivers in 2017 is much higher. About 660,000 of those drivers will be on their phones at any point in the day. That means this: whenever you’re behind the wheel, there are over a half million people in your position but on their phones at that exact moment. That’s a terrifying number.

2.35 million people are injured each year in these accidents. How many years would you have to drive in order for it to be statistically likely that you’re one of that number? Do the math. Of those 2.35 million injuries, 330,000 are the result of distracted driving. Nearly a quarter of all accidents in the United States are the result of a driver texting behind the wheel. That’s not a surprise, because every time you try to send a text from the road, you’re increasing the amount of time that your eyes aren’t on the road by a staggering 400 percent.

These numbers are even more appalling when you acknowledge how many people believe there should be a national ban on texting while driving: 94 percent. 74 percent believe that you shouldn’t even be able to have access to a cell phone while you’re driving. These are common sense numbers until you accept how many people decide to use their phones because the laws aren’t actually in place. If you believe something is for the greater good, then act like it!

Every day, 11 teenage drivers die because of distracted driving. In a direct parallel to the number of drivers who believe there should be a ban on texting while driving, 94 percent of teens agree. 35 percent do it regardless.  

37,000 people die in traffic accidents every year. An enormous chunk of these deaths were caused by distracted drivers who knew the risks, but did it anyway. Don’t be just another statistic; be safe. If you were affected by a distracted driver, contact specialized legal counsel as soon as possible. You have rights.