Articles Posted in Defective Vehicles

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Airbags are supposed to make people riding in cars feel safer. However, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues a major manufacturer of airbags with systems on more than a dozen makes of cars the largest civil fine in agency history, customers may question their feeling of safety. Defectively designed products in cars, or cars themselves, can lead to a serious risk of accidents, and these accidents would the basis for negligence action, should a serious or deadly car accident occur.

airbagAs discussed by SafeCar.gov, a NHTSA project, well in excess of 30 million automobiles are being recalled over defective air bags on both the passenger and driver’s side of the vehicle. The problem is very serious, in that, when they deploy, they could do so with enough explosive force to injure or even kill a vehicle occupant. All air bags deploy with some degree of force, as propellant wafers comprised of sodium azide and potassium nitrate are ignited to produce nitrogen gas. The newly created nitrogen case expands to the fill the air bag. While this is technically an explosive chemical reaction, it is a controlled reaction with enough force to quickly inflate the air bag, and it is not supposed to cause any damage. Continue reading

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Seal belts have been one of the most important safety features on all cars for decades, but that wasn’t always the case. Following the Second World War, automotive travel was becoming increasingly popular for returning GIs and their families, but the seat belt was considered a novelty at the time. People did not want them on their cars, and they are associated with only being necessary for airplane pilots.

seatbelt-602535-mInterestingly, it was Robert McNamara, who was in the United States Army Air Force during WWII, that realized the airplane seat belt could save lives on the road, and, as president of Ford Motor Company, pushed for safety increases in all cars. In addition to the seat belt, he also included a concave steering wheel to prevent driver head injury, better door handles to prevent occupants from being ejected, safety glass, and padded visors in what he would name the Lifeguard package available on Ford models beginning in 1956. Continue reading

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Defective tires pose a serious threat to the safety of everyone on the road, and they are more common than one might think.
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A recent ABC News investigation revealed there are potentially millions of dangerous, recalled tires in use or on store shelves, primarily because of an archaic government recall system that yields a low response rate.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there are an estimated 11,000 tire-related accidents each year, resulting in approximately 6,000 injuries and 200 deaths. Tires weaken and crack over time, and recommendations for replacement are generally between 6 and 10 years, regardless of how much they’ve been used.
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Our Boston attorneys who represent clients injured by defective vehicles understand the importance of using an expert witness.

car-fire-1267612-m.jpgIn White v. Mazda Motors of America, Inc., a case from the Supreme Court of Connecticut, plaintiff’s car caught on fire a month after he purchased it. According to court records, plaintiff was driving home after working the night shift. He had owned the car for the past month and had driven to and from work each day during that month, putting a total of 2800 miles on the car.

While driving home, he began to smell gasoline coming from the car. He pulled over and got out of the car. Everything else seemed normal, and the gauges and dashboard lights were reading as normal. When he inspected the engine, he saw a bright flash, and the car burst into flames. Plaintiff fell backwards in reaction to the explosion, and, while he luckily was not burned, he did injure his knee when he fell to the ground.
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Experienced Boston car accident attorneys understand that sometime a case must be filed against parties other than a driver involved in the crash.

wrong-way.jpgHughes v. Kia Motors Corp., et al., a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, involved plaintiff who was leaving the parking lot of a restaurant after midnight, went out the wrong exit, and ended up traveling the wrong direction on a one-way street.

Plaintiff realized her mistake and tried to change to the proper lane when she entered an intersection, but a Mack truck hauling a fuel tanker hit her. After the truck came to a stop, plaintiff’s car spun out of control into a gas station parking lot. The car hit another parked car and then ran through a fence and back onto restaurant property. The car then spun onto a nearby residential property, where it sideswiped a tree and was thrown into a carport. The car crashed into the tree, metal support poles, another parked car, and a flagpole before coming to a stop.

EMS personal arrived at the scene and found plaintiff already removed from the vehicle. She was unconscious but was able to breath several times a minute with the help of a bag-valve mask. According to EMS, the only obvious physical injury was a cut on her knee.
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Our Boston car accident lawyers know being run over by a vehicle is one of the scariest and most dangerous types of vehicle crashes. You are almost certain to suffer serious injury that may require extensive medical treatment and physical or occupational therapy.

1149771_one_car_key.jpgAccording to a recent article in the Boston Globe, a woman was seriously injured when she was run over by her own vehicle outside a Massachusetts hotel. It has been reported that the victim stepped out of her car and walked around the rear bumper to see how far she was from a wall as she was attempting to park.

Witnesses stated that the vehicle began to move unexpectedly and crushed the woman against the wall. She suffered the majority of the impact to her chest and was in serious but stable condition at a local hospital.

Being run over by your own car may seem like some sort of freak occurrence, but this is more common that you might imagine. As your car accident attorney can explain, even though it was your own vehicle that caused the accident, it does not mean that you are at fault.
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Our Boston car accident lawyers understand the importance of arguing for jury instructions helpful to the plaintiff’s case.

111147_steering_wheel.jpgIn Reis v. Volvo Cars of North America, as reported in the New York State Law Reporting Bureau, the court applied a standard of care instruction applicable to malpractice cases in a products liability action.

In Reis, the plaintiff was looking at a 15-year-old car that had recently been bought by a friend. The plaintiff was examining the engine with the hood raised when his friend asked him if he would like to see what the engine looks like when it is running. The friend then started the engine while the car was in a forward gear. This car had an older style manual transmission that did not require the car to be in neutral when started. When the car was started in what was probably first gear, it lurched forward and crushed the plaintiff between the front bumper and a wall.

As a result of being crushed by the car, the plaintiff had severe damage to his leg, and that leg was eventually amputated. The plaintiff sued to recover compensation for his personal injury under a theory of negligence – specifically, that the defendant car manufacturer knew or should have known that the car was likely to lurch forward when started in gear and should have included an ignition interlock to prevent this from occurring.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced they will be doing a full blown investigation of Chevy Volt cars that may be susceptible to a fire hazard following a car accident in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the country.

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Bloomberg Businessweek reported the most recent incident involving a Chevy Volt that caught fire at a NHTSA testing center in Wisconsin. Investigators believe the use of lithium-ion batteries in the plug-in electrical vehicles cause them to be at risk of a fire hazard. Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are two current models that contain these batteries, but it is expected that a plug-in version of the Prius and Toyota RAV 4 will also use these batteries.

Boston car accident lawyers know that defective vehicles are a growing concern as car manufacturers continue to advertise new and improved bells and whistles with each new model year. The new and improved part is what is in question here. President Obama’s goal is to put 1 million electric vehicles in operation on U.S roadways by 2015. Vehicles containing lithium batteries could make consumers purchasing these vehicles leery after recent reports of fire-related car accidents.

In May, a side-impact crash test was conducted on the Chevy Volt. Three weeks later the car ignited into flames. Investigators concluded that the damage to the battery during the crash test is what caused the vehicle to burst into flames. Since then, the NHTSA has taken extensive measures to learn more about the batteries, the hazards involved in using them and has worked with the Department of Energy and Department of Defense to conduct strict test on the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries. These tests involved purposely damaging the battery compartment and the vehicle coolant line. After the Volt was exposed to a real-world crash scenario and following a third test, the lithium-ion battery pack again caught fire at the facility raising concern for NHTSA researchers.

No recall has been announced but a safety defect investigation of Chevy Volts has been initiated. The NHTSA continues to support the purchase of electric vehicles in an effort to save consumers money in gas purchases, create jobs and help protect the environment.

Advice from the NHTSA:

-Consumers are encouraged to contact local dealers if you have questions about an electric vehicle.

-Electric vehicles that have been damaged should not be kept in a garage or near other vehicles after being hauled away from the scene by a tow truck operator.

-If you are involved in an accident, wait for emergency responders to arrive or if health conditions permit, exit the vehicle safely.

-Emergency responders should look for electric vehicle power indicators and exercise caution to avoid electrical shock from a battery pack or disconnect of the vehicle’s circuits.

For more information about electric vehicle ratings or defective vehicle recalls, visit safercar.gov.
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The new model 2012 vehicles will be going through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s (NHTSA) 5-star safety rating program soon. Vehicles that have carry-over designs from their 2011 models have already been rated by the administration. The rates for vehicles that have already been through inspections are available on www.safecar.gov. When the new model cars are competed, their ratings will also be added to the website. All drivers are urged to go on this website to check out the new ratings and review vehicle recalls to see if any apply to your vehicles.
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These ratings were revamped last year to make the program more thorough. Cars are now more than ever expected to come equipped with safety features that not only protect passengers in the event of a car accident in Boston, but to prevent them as well. As tests get stricter, vehicles most come with safer and more effective features.

Our Massachusetts car accident attorneys would like to announce that more than 80 percent of all new model 2012 passenger vehicles in the U.S. will be subjected to this testing. More than 90 percent of the vehicles in the 2012 fleet will be put through rollover tests as well. This year there will be nearly 75 new model 2012 vehicles that will be rated. This includes 42 passenger cars, two vans, 22 SUVs and eight pickup trucks. With the new rating system, these vehicles will not only be rated in a number of different feature categories, but will be provided with a single overall rating as well.

“Our 5-star ratings program is a critical resource to help consumers make the best possible decisions about the cars they want to buy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

With more thorough rating systems, car manufacturers must raise the safety features to meet the standards, to receive higher ratings, to sell more cars.

The NHTSA reminds consumers “More Stars. Safer Cars.”

With the new rating program, consumers have a better sense of which cars will do a better job at keeping them safer on our roadways. More and more vehicles are coming equipped with “crash avoidance” technologies. These technologies most times include forward-collision warning (FCW) and lane-departure warning (LDW), or both.

Nearly 70 of the new model vehicles come equipped with some type of crash-avoidance technology. Nearly 40 come with both.

For about 30 years, the NHTSA has used its 5-star rating program to help consumers to determine which cars are most likely to keep them safe on our roadways. With every year in which the program advances, vehicles must advance alongside.

You’re urged to visit www.safercar.gov if you’re looking into purchasing a new car. For those of you who are good with the car you’ve got, you’re still urged to visit the website to read up on any recalls that may affect your family’s vehicles.
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An SUV rollover accident in Massachusetts on Route 495 left one man with serious injuries recently, according to Boston 5. Troopers received a number reports from a several witnesses that said that a second vehicle may have cut off the victim’s car and caused the accident.

The driver of the flipped car was ejected during the rollover and was later taken to Jordan Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the second vehicle involved in the accident was later arrested and is being charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, according to state troopers. The southbound lanes of Route 495 were closed and traffic was detoured over to Route 138.
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Our Boston personal injury attorneys understand that some vehicles may be deemed safer than others through a number of studies. In the past, drivers of sport utility vehicles were scrutinized because of the vehicles’ frequent rollover incidents. The main cause used to be because they were so top heavy. Now, these larger vehicles provide more safety feature for occupants, making them least likely to die in a accident, according to the latest death rates from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

“The change is due largely to the widespread availability of electronic stability control (ESC), which helps prevent rollovers. With the propensity to roll over reduced, SUVs are on balance safer than cars because their bigger size and weight provide greater protection in a crash,” reports the IIHS.

The makers of these vehicles also have an influence on your safety in the event of an accident. Currently, South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia and German car makers such as Volkswagen are topping insurance industry’s yearly list of the safest new vehicles. These vehicles are chosen for their ability to protect an occupant during a front, side and rear crash test. For an automobile to qualify for the award, the insurance industry group requires that vehicle to have anti-rollover electronic stability control and receive top scores in their roof-strength test.

According to statistics, American cars ranked beneath foreign cars when researchers studied death rates. Out of Detroit’s Big Three, the statistics rank Chrysler Group as the clear winner, followed by Ford Motor Co., then General Motors Co:

-Chrysler ranked number one for the safest in the U.S. market with four vehicles: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler two- and four- door and Dodge Dakota. Each of these vehicles placed in the top 25 for having the lowest rates of driver deaths and had no vehicles in the bottom 25.

-Ford had one vehicle, the Edge, in the top 25 lowest rates of driver deaths. Unfortunately, Ford had two Ranger pickup models that placed in the bottom 25.

-GM had six vehicles in the bottom 25, including Chevrolet Aveo, Cobalt, Malibu Classic, Colorado and Buick Lucerne and LaCrosse. GM had no vehicles that placed in the top 25.

The study concluded that non-American automakers took 20 out of the 25 spots for lowest death rates.They also took 17 out of 25 spots for having the highest death rates, according to Mlive.com.

This is another reason why not only the type of vehicle you choose can potentially save your life in an accident, but the maker of the vehicle you choose can contribute to your safety as well. Do your research on what type of vehicle to buy, but also practice safe driving habits to reduce accidents on our streets and highways.
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