September 26, 2010

Hyundai Recalls 139,500 of Its 2011 Sonatas for Steering Defect

Hyundai is recalling “about 139,500 of its new 2011 Sonatas because of a steering defect that could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” (C. Jensen, NY Times Wheels, 9/26). The recall affects all Sonatas manufactured in Montgomery, AL from December 11, 2009 through September 10, 2010.

The recall is a major blow to the Korean Manufacturer, which was hoping to capitalize on those consumers who became weary of Toyota vehicles after Toyota’s recalling fiasco earlier this year. Hyundai executives were hoping the Sonata would become a serious competitor with the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

The NHTSA says the issue arose because the “intermediate shaft universal joint connections may have been either improperly assembled or insufficiently tightened.” As a result of the apparent manufacturing defect, “the driver could experience a loss of or reduction in steering capability increasing the risk of a crash.”

As a car and truck accident attorney, I always encourage consumers to stay informed about recalls affecting their vehicles and to act swiftly to remedy any safety issues.

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September 19, 2010

School Buses Recalled by Thomas Built Buses

For the second time this month, “Thomas Built Buses is recalling school buses for a safety problem.” (C. Jensen, NY Times Wheels, 9/17). The latest recall suggests that the company apparently waited several months before officially disclosing the safety problems to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration. This is problematic because “under federal regulations, a manufacturer has five business days to notify the safety agency after discovering a safety defect.”

However, a spokeswoman for the bus company denied any delay in an e0mail, and further stated that the company has and plans to continue to “fully comply” with federal safety regulations and procedures.

Most recently, “almost 1,200 buses were recalled because an electrical problem could cause stalling or a malfunction of the headlights or windshield wipers.” The affected model is the 2009-11 MVP-EF models.

As a car and truck accident attorney in Chicago, I hope all school districts utilizing these buses are taking swift actions to ensure the safety of their students.

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September 12, 2010

Commuter train kills 2, injures 1 in Calif.

In an extremely sad and gruesome accident, a Southern California based Metrolink commuter train “struck and killed two people who may have been sleeping on the tracks and injured a third in Orange County on Thursday, authorities said.” (G. Flaccus, AP, 9/10). The trio on the tracks included two young women and one young man.

Investigators state that the three may have been sleeping on the tracks, and there is no evidence of drinking at the scene. The young woman who was injured said she “heard the train coming and jumped out of the way and it nicked her arm and leg.”
People in the neighborhood have complained of teenagers who trespass the tracks and party late at night. Metrolink confirmed that partying had been an issue, urging the local police to patrol the area more frequently.

As a personal injury attorney, I urge everyone, but young people especially, to understand and appreciate the dangers of train tracks. Each year, many train related deaths occur because victims fail to respect the danger that trains impose.

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September 6, 2010

New Phenomenon of Billing Crash Victims

As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago with car and truck accident experience, I am disturbed by the following story, especially in light of the lack of transparency. I further believe that victims of negligence should not be forced to pay for emergency response, especially when the responders are not needed or called by the victim.

Christopher Jensen reports for the New York Times, “about a year ago Cary Feldman was surprised to find himself sprawled on the pavement in an intersection in Chicago Heights, Ill., having been knocked off his motor scooter by the car behind him. Five months later he got another surprise: a bill from the fire department for responding to the scene of the accident.” (Wheels, 8/3). Mr. Feldman stated he had no idea why the fire truck came since he was not hurt badly and did not go to the hospital.

This scenario has become enmeshed in what appears to be “a nascent budget-balancing trend in municipal government: police and fire departments have begun to charge accident victims as a way to offset budget cuts.” Although ambulance charges are common and are usually paid by health insurance, fees for other responders are new. The fee for other responders, such as the one Mr. Feldman received, is “variously called a “crash tax” or “resource recovery,” depending on one’s point of view. In either case, motorists, even those who are innocent victims, are billed for services they may have thought were covered by taxpayers.”

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