If a Crash is My Fault, Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?


If a crash is my fault, do I need a personal injury lawyer?

Oftentimes we’ll get calls from clients where they were the driver in a vehicle that resulted in a crash and were injured as result. Other times, the crash resulted in the injury or death of a passenger. The question that client has is, what should I do? Should I hire a lawyer to represent me? And should that lawyer specialize in personal injury?

Our response to them is to call us. Allow us to investigate the crash. Even if you were issued a citation for being at fault, there may have been something more that happened that either caused this crash, the injuries or the death to not be your fault. For example, if a seat belt didn’t work properly or an airbag didn’t work properly, even though you may have caused the crash, it’s really a defect with the product that caused the injuries. That is why it’s critical for clients, particularly in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, to contact our firm to make sure that we can conduct a full investigation to help them know the truth about what really happened.

If you or someone you know has been catastrophically injured as a result of an auto accident, please let us help you. Contact us today.

NHTSA Proposes Mobile Recall Notifications

mobile recall notices

NHTSA Proposes Mobile Recall Notifications

The NHTSA (National Highway Transportation & Safety Administration) has proposed a rule that would require automakers to include digital notifications of recall announcements. This would include sending notifications by mobile texts, phone calls and emails.

To date, recall notices or safety announcements are sent via mail. What was once an effective means of communication, the general public now rarely receives any useful mail except for perhaps wedding invitations, holiday cards, and the most exciting of them all, calls for jury duty. In an age where the majority of our communications happens at our fingertips, the faster vehicle owners can be notified of a safety issue the better.

This is exactly what the NHTSA is proposing.

It was reported that Anton Yelchin, the young actor that was crushed to death by his rolling Jeep Cherokee thought to be in the parked position, received his own recall notice in the mail  7 days after his death. Additional ways to notify vehicle owners of recalls might have allowed this message to reach him sooner. Although mailing would still be a requirement, automakers would be required to select an additional digital option to increase the likelihood of receipt by owner.

J.D. Power & Associates announced in July that nearly 45 million vehicles recalled from 2013-2015 remain unfixed. From exploding airbags, to faulty door latches and ignition switches, accidents occur every day from safety issues that have gone unnoticed or unaddressed. Hopefully, this initiative would help reduce that number. Recalled vehicles pose not just a safety threat to their drivers, but to others on the road as well.

A final ruling will be made on the NHTSA’s proposal following a 60 day comment allowance scheduled to end 10/31/2016.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a safety defect on a vehicle, please contact us for a complimentary case consultation.

How to File a Vehicle Safety Complaint

Safety First - The Cooper Firm

How to File a Vehicle Safety Complaint

The past several years have seen an incredible number of recalls on vehicles for safety reasons. Between defective airbags, sudden accelerations, and exploding gas tanks, we see the federal government taking your safety very seriously and holding automakers responsible. You may be wondering how you, the driver, may have a hand in notifying a manufacture of an issue you notice while operating your vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it easy for you.
If you are driving a vehicle and notice a possible safety concern, or mechanical problem that just can’t be solved, the NHTSA encourages you to visit their website and follow the directions to “File a Vehicle Safety Complaint”. These complaints are received and monitored by this federal agency and used when investigating ongoing issues with a vehicle. The more complaints they receive about a single issue, the better equipped they are when questioning a vehicle manufacturer.

If you or someone you know as been injured as a result of an auto-accident, please Contact Us for a complimentary case consultation.

Why Your New Car Could Need A New Airbag

Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Why Your New Car Could Need a New Airbag

Although the widespread Takata airbag recall began in 2015, new cars are still being sold with the faulty airbags installed.

A recent report from the U.S. Senate Commerce committee showed that 4 automakers: Toyota, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler, and Mitsubishi have confirmed selling new vehicles containing the Takata manufactured defective airbags.

AlthoughTakata is not permitted to contract new business, Federal regulators are allowing automakers to sell new cars with the previously installed Takata airbag as long as they commit to replacing by 2018. So what does that mean for you?

First and foremost, ask your authorized dealership before you buy. They will either know if you car contains a recalled airbag, or can find out. From there you can determine how you want to proceed with the purchase based on the information at hand.

Second, if you have purchased a new car recently by these 4 manufacturers, or if you want to know if your car is part of any recall, visit The National Highway Transportation Safety ‘s website and enter your VIN (vehicle identification number). If your car has an outstanding recall, contact your dealership immediately to schedule a repair.

And as always, if you or any you know has been injured in a car accident due to a faulty airbag, please contact us today for a complimentary case consultation.



Honda: Passing The Buck & The Blame to Takata

Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Honda is passing the buck and the blame to Takata for airbag recall crisis.

Despite setting the industry standard for best practices with regards to regulating suppliers, Honda blames Takata for supplying faulty airbags.

The number of vehicles involved in the Takata airbag crisis is staggering. It now involves over 20 automobile manufacturers and nearly 51 million vehicles worldwide. Honda alone has recalled about 8 million vehicles in the US.  These faulty airbags are deploying at such high pressure that the inflator may rupture causing metal parts to burst through the airbag like shrapnel after an explosion. Designed to provide an additional layer of safety, these airbags can do more harm than good.  And Honda says it’s not their fault.


Honda’s founding principle of “Best Practices, Best Processes, and Best Performance” has been the driver for excellence in a highly competitive market. They encourage their employees to question and re-examine every improvement or idea in an effort to seek perfection.  For a company so intent on creating a culture of hands-on investigation, it’s hard to understand how they can claim the dangerous airbags installed in nearly 8 million US Honda vehicles over more than a decade was the sole fault of the supplier. If Honda is successful in avoiding the majority of the blame for the faulty airbags, they could also avoid the majority of the financial penalties and responsibilities for replacement, not to mention the numerous inevitable lawsuits.

With a recall vehicle list that is growing by the millions, it doesn’t look like the end is nearing.

The Cooper Firm encourages everyone to visit the NHTSA recall website to see if their vehicle is included in the Takata airbag recall and contact their nearest dealership immediately to schedule the replacement.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a faulty airbag, please contact The Cooper Firm for a complimentary case consultation.

For more detailed information about the Honda and Takata blame game, visit  The Safety Research Blog.

The Cooper Firm Settles First-of-its-Kind Exploding Airbag Case for Confidential Amount

FEATURED CASE - The Cooper Firm

Featured Case:

The Cooper Firm Settles First-of-its-Kind Exploding Airbag Case for Confidential Amount

In April, 2014, our client was driving a 2004 Kia Optima when another vehicle pulled in front of her, causing her to brake, lose control of her vehicle, and hit a wall head-on at low speed. The impact caused her driver’s side front airbag to explode, sending shrapnel all throughout the cabin of the vehicle, and into our client’s face and neck. One large piece of shrapnel—about the size of a nickel—lodged inside of our client’s neck and was first discovered at the hospital during emergency surgery. The explosion caused our client to suffer permanent scarring on her face and neck.

Our client sued the vehicle manufacturer (Kia Motors America), the manufacturer of the driver’s frontal airbag assembly (Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC), and the manufacturer of the inflator in that assembly (ARC Automotive, Inc.). Our investigation focused on the inflator as the cause of the explosion. Although there are many exploding airbag cases ongoing against Honda and Takata (the manufacturer of Honda’s airbag inflators), this is the first case of its kind against Kia, Delphi, or ARC. Based on the nature of the defect that we discovered, we expect there will be similar failures in the future.

The case settled after extensive examinations of the vehicle and the airbag assembly, but shortly before the Defendants’ responses were due to our initial discovery. The case is Chavez et al. v. Kia Motors Corporation et al., Civil Action No. 1:15-CV-00462, U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico.

Yielding Car Seats: Death at the Weakest Link

Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Yielding Car Seats: Death at the Weakest Link

We all know the many analogies. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A three-legged stool can’t stand on two legs.   For want of a shoe the rider was lost. The iron man had clay feet. If you’ve left anything undone, you’ve left everything undone. Such analogies all apply when a weak link, sometimes the smallest part, destroys the strength or effectiveness of the overall product.

That is the sad case with many automobile seats. So much modern attention is paid to seat belts, air bags, and strong solid doors. But, if you do not stay in your seat during a wreck, all of those safety features are meaningless. Those features cannot function as designed, nor will they protect you if they are the weakest and first link in the chain. Defective seats nullify all the other safety features built so proudly into your car. Seats fail in the seatback, the recliner mechanisms, and the seat tracks. Seats tend to behave correctly in frontal collisions. It’s those from the rear that are the larger problem.

In rear impacts, it is well known that car seats can break or deform backwards. If they do that, the driver or passenger is left unrestrained. The driver’s body slips out from under the lap belt and the shoulder belt no longer holds the driver to the seat back, which has moved. As a result, the driver or passenger can fly out of the seat, usually rearward, where they hit the passengers behind them.  That can cause serious injury to both the driver and to the passengers or, in some cases, the driver might hit other objects coming forward in the impact, such as spare tires or parts of the trunk and back seat. Drivers can slip out the lap belt and ramp up over the back of the seat. Or some portion of their body can be partially ejected. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has estimated that in 1990 over 1,100 people died from collapsed seats. Over 1,600 more suffered other injuries due to failed seats, or to seats that simply yielded too far backwards.

The most common problems and seat failure dynamics include, according to one seat expert:

  • Loss of car control when the driver’s seat fails backwards and the driver can no longer steer or brake the car correctly.
  • Ineffective restraint systems that allow the occupant to twist and turn, or even come out from under the belt completely, enabling them to move rearward and injure themselves.
  • Full or partial ejection out of the car.
  • Injuries to the passengers in the rear of the car, including body to head and head to head contact that result in severe injury or death.
  • Inability of rear seat passengers to escape a wrecked car because they are trapped under the seats, which deformed rearward and trapped their legs or body.

All of these seat failures can happen at any speed, ranging from low speeds to high speeds. Thus, we think speed is not the real issue. It is about the seat strength. 

Seats can also fail even if the seat performs as the car makers currently intend them to perform, namely, by simply yielding too much during the crash impact.  The current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (“FMVSS”) 207 governs seat strength.  It is a minimum standard that the car makers have to meet.  Congress enacted it as part of the 1966 Safety Act. FMVSS 207 was grossly inadequate in 1966. As designed, FMVSS 207 gives you only about two percent of the frontal protective force of FMVSS 207 when you are hit in the rear. FMVSS 207 is still grossly inadequate, primarily because the car makers oppose making it any stronger and have aggressively opposed efforts to make the seatbacks stronger and more rigid. They have lobbied NHTSA to reject efforts to improve and modernize the standards in FMVSS 207, even though some fixes involve one dollar and a pound of added steel.

NHTSA is a federal agency. Because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution, the federal government’s safety rules “preempt” anything the States might do. Thus, our local governments can do nothing. But you can. Write your U.S. Senators and Congressmen and tell them to enact improvements that add strength to FMVSS 207.

You can find their addresses at

Honda Recalls 2016 CR-Vs for Exploding Airbags

Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Honda Recalls 2016 CR-Vs for Exploding Airbags

Honda Motor Co. is recalling some of its 2016 CR-V models for a new Takata airbag defect. The CR-V is the top selling crossover/SUV in the United States.

The potentially deadly defect, involves a manufacturing defect in the metal housing surrounding the driver’s airbag inflator. The inflator could rupture during an accident and shoot out metal fragments. The fragments could strike the driver or other passengers causing serious injuries or death. Honda posted the recall on its company website. The defect was originally discovered in Takata’s factory in Monclova, Mexico.

Takata has been under investigation by NHTSA for its rupturing airbags which have killed seven people in the United States and injured hundreds. The cause of the defect has yet to be identified. There are 12 affected automakers and a total of 23 million defective inflators that cover 19 million vehicles. NHTSA says less than a quarter of the vehicles have been repaired.

Honda’s newest recall affects 515 vehicles. Only 30 of those vehicles have been sold. The unsold vehicles will be put under a stop-sale until the needed repairs are complete. There are no reported injuries, warranty claims or crashes related to the defect.

Takata’s initial investigation after being in contact with Honda is that the defect may be related to structural failure in the inflator casing due to a manufacturing flaw. Ammonium nitrate has been contributed to Takata’s larger recall of explosive airbags.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 900,000 SUVs for airbags and brakes

Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 900,000 SUVs for airbags and brakes

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 900,000 vehicles due to issues with airbag deployment and anti-lock braking systems.

The first recall affects 284,089 2003 Jeep Liberty and 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs in the United States due to a defect with airbag components that could affect airbag deployment. The company is aware of seven injuries related to the defect, but no accidents. With the recent Takata recall, one would think that recall is related, but Fiat has stated that the SUVs were not equipped with Takata airbags.  There are about 70,000 vehicles outside the United States being recalled for the issue as well. The remedy involves dealers replacing the occupant restraint control module and impact sensors which have caused airbags to deploy inadvertently. The remedy will be made free of charge to owners.

The second recall affects 275,614 2012-2105 Dodge Journey cross-utility vehicles in the United States due to a defect with the anti-lock brake system. Water intrusion may disable the vehicles’ anti-lock braking and electronic stability control systems. This could cause serious injuries if the vehicle were involved in an accident in which these systems would not function. The recall also affects over 266,000 vehicles outside the United States. There are no known injuries or accidents related to the defect. The remedy involves dealers applying a moisture sealant and replacing electrical components free of charge to owners.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product or vehicle, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

NHTSA imposes $200 million civil penalty to Takata

Marietta product defect attorney

NHTSA imposes $200 million civil penalty to Takata

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued two orders regarding Takata airbags in order to protect those driving on the roads. The orders impose a $200 million civil penalty to Takata for violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This is the largest civil penalty in NHTSA’s history. NHTSA will also be using its authority to accelerate recall repairs for the first time. The agency will prioritize the recalls so that the greatest safety risks are addressed first and then deadlines will be set for all future recalls.

The consent orders come after Takata sold and manufactured defective products which have injured hundreds of people and caused at least 7 deaths. Takata initially refused to acknowledge the defect and failed to provide all known data regarding the defect to NHTSA. The delay then led to the most complex safety recall in U.S. history, according to NHTSA’s press release. The consent order will require Takata to phase out all inflators that use phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant, which is attributed to being the factor which causes explosive ruptures.

As part of the consent order, Takata admitted that it was aware of the defect and failed to recall the products in a timely matter, which in turn violated the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Takata also admitted that it failed to submit all of its data or inaccurately submitted its data as early as 2009. As a result, Takata will have an independent monitor selected by NHTSA to oversee and track its compliance with consent order and the phase out schedule.

Along with the Consent Order, NHTSA issued a Coordinated Remedy Order which gives the agency authority to accelerate the safety defect repairs. The Coordinated Remedy Order was also issued to the 12 automakers with Takata parts. The order will organize and prioritize the recall and remedy programs based on risk. Along with the Coordinate Remedy Order, automakers will need to have replacement parts for the highest-risk inflators by June 2016 as well as provide final remedies for all vehicles by the end of 2019.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of one of these defective airbags, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

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