Personal Injury Blog

BB Gun Safety

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BB gun safety is extremely important. People have been told many times that BB guns are not toys but they are still being treated as such. Anyone who has seen “The Christmas Story” should know that BB guns are more dangerous than they seem. Ralphie didn’t take the proper safety precautions with his BB gun and almost shot his eye out. They are not toys and should be used carefully.

Last year approximately 8,000 people were injured by BB guns. Within the last week there have been many cases of the misuse of BB guns: Two 17 year old boys were arrested for disorderly conduct because they were shooting a BB gun at people, a 13 year old was shot by the police because he was waving around a BB gun, a 14 year old shot a 12 year old in the foot, and then there is the story of Tommy Gallagher. Tommy was accidently shot by his 9 year old brother Jamie with a BB gun. The Gallagher family assumed the pellet grazed Tommy under his eye but the next morning he woke up and could not use his left arm or leg. The pellet entered underneath his right eye and was lodged far into the right side of his brain causing him to lose control over his left side. It cannot be removed, so Tommy has to live with the pellet in his brain. He is going through intensive therapy and is starting to regain the use of his arm.

It is important that if your children are introduced to BB guns, they need to learn safety before anything else. We here at The Cooper Firm wanted to inform you of a few safety tips to keep your children safe.

Do not allow children less than 18 years of age to shoot any type of gun, including a BB gun, without active adult supervision.
Never point your BB gun at anyone.
Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.
As stated above, in the “A Christmas Story” incident, always wear protective eyewear.
Do not shoot at a target if there is a potential that someone is behind or on the sides of the target.
Realize that BBs can ricochet so be aware of the type of surface at which you are shooting.
If the BB gun has a fluorescent orange tip, do not allow your children to alter the color. Policemen have been known to shoot and fire upon children who have removed the safety orange color from their guns because they could no longer recognize the guns as a BB gun.
Take proper care of your gun. A damaged or dirty gun is more likely to cause injury.

Most importantly: Treat all guns as though they are loaded. Do not assume that a gun is not loaded.

Jury verdict set aside as Ford caught in lie

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On October 28, 2003, Peggy Stimpson and her husband, Ralph, had gotten into their 1991 Ford Aerostar van which was backed into their carport. When Ralph put the car into gear, it suddenly accelerated (burning rubber) and drove forward down their driveway, across the street, and into a utility pole almost 100 feet away. Peggy was ejected from the van and sustained a broken neck. She was left permanently paralyzed from the chest down.

Peggy’s case was heard February of 2011. After several weeks of both Peggy’s attorneys and Ford’s attorneys making their case, a jury came back with a verdict in favor of Ford. Peggy’s attorneys appealed to the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Sumter County, Florida and as of last week the verdict was set aside.

Senior Judge William T. Swigert based his decision on the automaker deceptively withholding information from the Court as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, such as years of testing which showed that electromagnetic interference was not only a frequent but a root cause of unintended acceleration in Ford vehicles. (All the while claiming that it knew of no other cause of unintended acceleration than driver error.)

Judge Swigert commented, “The proofs introduced at trial include various patents owned by Ford showing that electronic malfunctions in the cruise system can cause sudden, unintended acceleration, in addition to reports from Ford’s engineers, including SIRs and CQIS reports, diagnosing sudden acceleration as a problem with the cruise control system. Ford’s Ishikawa engineering diagram likewise shows that EMI is a cause of sudden unintended acceleration.”

I’m sure there will be more fallout given this decision. Check back with us for more information as it develops.

The importance of getting a second opinion on your health

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The idea of getting a second opinion may feel like you’re betraying your doctor but consider your healthcare like remodeling your kitchen. You are likely to get varying estimates and design plans from many contractors, why not get varying information and treatment options from different doctors? We cannot emphasize this enough: take no chances and do not rush your health. It is the most important thing you have. When it comes to major problems such as breast cancer or a heart condition to even a small problem such as eye surgery, getting a second opinion on surgery is crucial before you take a step towards your treatment.

There are many websites or databases (i.e., Georgia Doctors) that can help you locate a doctor or specialist in your area. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know which doctor to choose, narrow down your search to a few doctors and then research them online. You can find information on their practice, where they went to school, and sometimes even ratings and reviews others patients have given them. Researching your doctor is an important step to getting a second opinion.

It can be overwhelming and difficult to make decisions on your health. There are many options out there but it is important to choose the course of treatment that makes the most sense to you. A different doctor can give you a fresh perspective or new information on your case. If the opinions are the same, your anxieties can be put to rest and you will feel more confident about your choices.

We here at The Cooper Firm ask you to make the most of your healthcare and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Don’t rush yourself and make sure you understand all of your options before moving forward.

Under-ride guards on tractor trailers still failing-death likely

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In 2009, approximately 3,163 people were killed as a result of a crash with a tractor trailer. At leaset 97 of those deaths were reported in Georgia. Many of these accidents were caused by a passenger car rear ending the tractor trailer and becoming imbedded under the truck body. These types of accidents are referred to as “under-ride accidents.”

Under-ride accidents makes death or serious injury more likely since the upper part of the passenger vehicle’s compartment crushes as the truck body intrudes into the vehicle safety cage. The problem is that the car sits low and the tractor trailer sits high. So, of course, when they make impact, the car is going to go under the truck body- resulting in death.

In 1996, the NHTSA published a final rule establishing two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) – 223, Rear Impact Guards, and 224, Rear Impact Protection. FMVSS 223, the equipment standard, specified strength requirements and compliance procedures for rear impact guards on semitrailers. FMVSS 224, the vehicle standard, specified mounting instructions and location specifications for those guards. (The NHTSA has done very little to improve these standards over the past 15 years.)

Earlier this year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed a series of crash tests to determine which under-ride guards performed better as well as what type of failures occurred. The testing was performed on both Canadian and U.S. tractor trailers using a low speed impact of 35 miles per hour. As you can see in the video attached below, the Canadian tractor trailer withstood the impact significantly better than the U.S. tractor trailer. Clearly, the Canadian requirements for strength and absorption are much stricter than the U.S. requirements.

On February 28, 2011, the IIHS filed a petition for increased rear impact protection with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting that the NHTSA reopen FMVSS 223 and 224 to:
  • Substantially increase the quasi-static force requirements, at least to levels that would guarantee all guards are as strong as the Wabash;
  • Move the P1 test location father outboard to improve the offset crash protection;
  • Require that attachment hardware remains intact throughout the tests;
  • Require guards be certified while attached to the trailers for which they are designed;
  • Investigate whether the maximum guard ground clearance can be reduced; and
  • Reduce the number of exempt truck and trailer types.

A 15-year-old Gwinnett high school student was severely injured in bus crash on I-75 North

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GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA- On Sunday, April 10, 2011, the Mill Creek High School’s Show Choir was returning from a competition in Orlando, Florida on a bus chartered by the school’s booster club. As the group traveled on I-75 north in Dooly County, Georgia the driver swerved off the road to avoid an accident ahead. The bus went up an embankment and hit the side of an overpass. A 15-year old student was ejected from the front window of the bus.

Debra Waddell, a parent-chaperone, stated, “It happened in seconds. I was in shock. The kids were screaming. I looked down and didn’t see my daughter. I heard one of the kids say she was outside.” Mrs. Waddell’s daughter had been sitting in the front of the bus. She was thrown through the windshield and lay near the embankment.

The student was airlifted to Macon Medical Center with a fractured facial bone and eye socket, a broken shoulder and many bruises. She remains hospitalized but is reported to be in stable condition. A second student was also taken to Macon Medical Center and is in stable condition. Many other students were left with broken bones and black eyes.

Georgia State Patrol officers reported that a driver traveling in front of the bus had been following another car too closely and caused an accident. The bus driver had to swerve to avoid that accident.

Bus Accidents All Too Common:

Bus Crash 1Just a few months ago, a bus carrying 31 people in New York crashed killing 15 people. The bus, traveling on I-95 near Lower Manhattan, swerved to avoid a tractor trailer, causing it to roll onto its side and strike an exit pole. The exit pole sheared off the roof of the bus.

New York City police officers called this crash the most horrific accident they have ever seen. Thirteen people died at the scene and 18 other passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment- two of which later died at the hospital.

The driver of the bus, Ophadel Williams of Brooklyn, New York, is currently under a criminal investigation.

Just this past February, a Cherokee County school bus collided with a tractor trailer, sending both drivers and six students, ranging in ages between 5-12 years old, to Northside Hospital Cherokee. All were treated and released.

Investigators believe the bus was trying to make a left hand turn from Lovelace Lane onto Highway 369 when the tractor trailer struck it. The tractor trailer flipped onto its side and rolled down an embankment.

The Cooper Firm has handed many of these types of cases. If you have any questions regarding bus or tractor trailer accidents, please feel free to contact us.

Killer Keyless Ignition

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There have recently been deaths and injuries associated with keyless ignition in certain Lexus model vehicles.

Mary Rivera parked her Lexus in the ground floor garage attached to her home. She left the engine running. The next day family members went to her home and found Mary unconcious and her partner, Ernest Cordelia in bed, dead. Ms. Rivera suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and is brain damaged. An autopsy showed that Mr. Cordelia’s blood was filled with carbon monoxide.

Chastity Glisson was found dead in her townhouse and her boyfriend, Timothy Maddock injured. Ms. Glisson’s Lexus was found in the garage. The carbon monoxide levels in Ms. Glisson’s home was more than 150% of what is considered dangerous.

How did this happen? The key fob is a small transmitter that communicates with the vehicle’s computer. The driver doesn’t need to handle the fob to unlock or start the car.
The keyless ignition feature in the Lexus allows the engine to continue to run indefinitely even after the driver walks away with the key fob that communicates with the car.

If a driver is distracted, it can be easier to leave the car running without realizing it. If that occurs in an attached garage, it can be a deadly mistake. It can be difficult to hear that the vehicle is still running. Essentially, the engine can be left running as easily as the headlights can be left on.

Keyless technology was introduced less than a decade ago, but it is rapidly spreading. The number of models with them as standard or optional equipment has risen in the past five years. Automakers offer the system on 155 models this year.

What can be done? A switch could turn the ignition off if the car has been idle or unoccupied for a period of time. A warning alarm could sound similar to not wearing a seat belt.

A keyless car may be a convenience, but there is nothing to remind you to turn the vehicle off.

The Cooper Firm specializes in auto product liability cases. Please contact The Cooper Firm for additional information.

The Georgia Court of Appeals Decision on Offer of Settlement Rule Stands for Now

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The Georgia Court of Appeals just issued a significant decision for consumers. The case is Austell Healthcare, Inc. v. Scott , (A10A2346, March 11, 2011).

Dan Scott was employed by Austell Healthcare in Austell Georgia when he was injured in a vehicle collision. Travelers Indemnity was Austell Healthcare’s worker’s compensation insurer. Mr. Scott sued the parties that were responsible for the collision. Travelers paid over $59,000 for workers compensation benefits to Mr. Scott. Travelers wanted to be reimbursed out any settlement that Mr. Scott entered into with the responsible parties. Mr. Scott settled his claims against the responsible parties for $76,000.00 and then filed a motion to quash Travelers lien of $59,000 against his settlement proceeds. Mr. Scott contended that he was not fully compensated and, therefore, Travelers was not entitled to be reimbursed. The trial court granted Mr. Scott’s motion and quashed Travelers’ lien. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. Specifically, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient evidence that Scott had not been fully compensated and was not required to reimburse Travelers out of the settlement proceeds.

This is an important decision because it reaffirms that workers who have worker’s compensation insurance can be assured under Georgia law that they must be fully compensated for any injuries they sustain as a result of the negligence of another, even when the worker’s compensation insurer pays their benefits. This is not only a correct legal result, it is the most equitable result. To allow the workers compensation insurer to take the vast majority of the settlement proceeds without proving that the employee had been fully compensated would no doubt be unfair and unjust.

Our personal injury attorneys at The Cooper Firm often represent workers who have been injured by the negligence of others. This decision will help make these workers whole.

Did you know your bedroom window was dangerous to your children?

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Approximately 4,700 children ages 14 and younger are injured from falling out a window each year. About 18 children ages 10 and under die annually from these falls.

Here are some tips on preventing these types of accidents:

  • A screen will not prevent a fall- don’t think it will.
  • Install windows that open from the top. If you need to open the window for fresh air, use the top window.
  • Safeguard your windows with window stops. You can find window stops at any hardware department.
  • Make sure that there is not any furniture placed near the window. Often children will climb the furniture and fall out the window.
  • Supervise your children if there is an open window.

The Dangers of BB Guns

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Yes, a BB gun, also known as a pellet gun, can kill a person. Actually about 4 people are killed each year by BB guns. I’m not sure why these guns are considered a “toy.” They have muzzle velocities higher than 350 feet per second. That means that the pellet leaves the gun at 350 feet per second. A common handgun has a muzzle velocity of 800 feet per second. That’s not much of a difference if you ask me.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that children under 16 years of age should not have such a gun. However, if you do, please teach your child the proper safety tips. Here are just a few:

  • Never, never, never point your BB gun at anyone, loaded or not.
  • Keep your BB gun on safety until you are ready to fire.
  • Keep your fingers off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • BB’s can ricochet, be careful of your shooting targets.
  • Do not carry your BB gun into a public place as it may be mistaken for a real gun.
  • Unload the gun when not in use.

Sexual predators using modern technology resulting in victims of attacks, serious injury and death

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We live in a technology driven world, from computers and the internet, cell phones, blogging, and on-line personal journals to name a few. Time tested parenting rules no longer apply. It is important for parents to have the education, knowledge and understanding of these modern technologies so that they can be fully aware and able to deter and prevent predators from making their families victims. Many predators pretend to be what they are not. What may start out as innocent conversations and friendships often opens the door for potential face to face liaisons. Parents must teach their children to be aware, recognize questionable behavior and have open lines of communication when a child feel they are in harms way.

Virtually every technology provider has parental controls and information to help guide parents in the protection and safety of their children. The parenting challenge is to stay “one click” ahead of would be child-predators. Teach your children to be critical thinkers when using the technologies you provide to them. Be sure they understand basic technology socializing safety. Be open to discussions with your children. Listen in a way that is nonjudgmental and nondistracted.

Some of the following web sites provide families with current issues and safety measures:

NetFamilyNews.org 
BlogSafety.com 
GetNetWise.org 
StaySafe.org
SafeKids.com
Netmom.com


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