November 29, 2010

N.H.T.S.A. Opens Audit of Rental Car Repairs

As a Chicago lawyer with auto accident and products liability experience, I am appalled that rental car agencies failed to fix recalled vehicles in a timely manner. I am hopeful that this will never happen again, and the rental car companies will be held responsible for their carelessness.

Citing troubling reports of injuries and deaths in rental cars, “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun investigating whether millions of rental cars are being fixed when they are recalled for safety problems.” (C. Jensen, 11/23, NY Times blog Wheels).

The agency opened the investigation to audit the recall remedy chosen by rental car companies. Some have accused the rental car agencies of waiting too late, until it was convenient for them, to issue the necessary recalls. The NTSHA has asked Chrysler, Ford and General Motors to aid them in the investigation. This follows a tragedy this year where Enterprise “admitted in a California court that its failure to fix a Chrysler PT Cruiser was responsible for the deaths of two California women when it caught fire and crashed.”

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November 20, 2010

Toyota seeks to dismiss acceleration lawsuits

A federal judge in California “will consider a motion by Toyota Motor Corp. to dismiss lawsuits that claim there are sudden acceleration defects in its cars.” (AP Santa Anna, California, 11/19). This hearing is in the wake of a fatal crash in Utah, likely due to a faulty Toyota Camry.

Toyota seeks to have hundreds of class action lawsuits dismissed arguing “the plaintiffs have been unable to prove that a design defect, namely its electronic throttle control system, is responsible for sudden acceleration problems.”

As a personal injury and products liability attorney in Chicago with experience in auto accidents, I am hopeful that the federal judge will allow the suit to continue and allow the plaintiffs to prove the design defect. A motion to dismiss is appropriate only where the plaintiff has plead no facts upon which relief can be granted.

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November 20, 2010

Feds say all motorcycle riders should wear helmets, and Illinois is one of three states with no requirement

Federal safety officials “want states to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in deaths since the late 1990s.” (J.Lowy, Washington AP, 11/16). The National Transportation Safety Board says that while overall traffic fatalities have decline, motorcycle deaths have increased over the last decade. According to the NTSB, there were “4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined.”

Considering that head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, the NTSB wants all states to require helmet use. Currently, 20 states require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, and the majority of states have limited helmet requirements. However, Iowa, Illinois and Vermont have no helmet requirement.

As a Chicago car and truck accident lawyer, I strongly urge all motorcycle users to wear helmets to safeguard against head injuries, and join the NTSB in wanting all states to require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

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November 7, 2010

Hole found in plane that took off from Miami

This wee, a “1-foot-by-2-foot hole was found in the fuselage of a commercial airliner that suddenly lost cabin pressure shortly after taking off from Miami.” (AP Miami, 10/29). As a personal injury attorney in Chicago, I am hopeful that this situation will be studied quickly to avoid possible future incidents of greater magnitude. Thankfully, the National Transportation Board has already begun an investigation.

American Airlines Flight 1640, a Boeing 757 carrying 154 passengers and 6 crew members, was headed to Boston from Miami when the cabin suddenly lost pressure, sending passengers into hysterics. Passengers said the plane began descending quickly and loudly, lights were flashing, and oxygen masks were deployed.

An inspection of the plane” revealed a hole in the upper part of the fuselage near a cabin door toward the front of the plane.” American Airlines applauds the crew for acting quickly to declare an emergency and making a safe return to Miami. Although there were no injuries in this case, it was, needless to say, an extremely close call.

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