Personal Injury Blog

Two Metro Atlanta Men Died in Mississippi RV Crash

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The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that 2 people were killed and 10 were seriously injured in southern Mississippi when a motorhome crashed on its way to tonight’s championship game between LSU v. Alabama in New Orleans. The motorhome, driven by Alfred Hold, Jr. of Lithonia, Georgia, lost control after it blew a tire, ran off the roadway and struck a tree in the median.

There were 14 people traveling in the motorhome. Mr. Holt and Darryl Parker of Riverdale, GA were ejected and killed. Ten other passengers were taken to local hospital for treatment: two patients are in ICU in “extremely critical condition,” three passengers are in stable condition, and several others were treated and released.

As I stated above, the accident occurred with the motorhome’s tire blew and it ran off the roadway sticking a tree. I can’t express enough how important it is to check the condition of your tires on a regular basis and again before long trips. Proper tire maintenance is an important safety function that is often neglected. Your tires are the only contact between your vehicle and the road.

UNDER-INFLATED TIRES:
Like I said above, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month and again before you travel long distances. Below are some steps for maintaining proper tire pressure:

  1. Locate the recommended tire pressure on the vehicle’s tire information placard, certification label, or in the owner’s manual;
  2. Record the tire pressure of all tires;
  3. If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve stem with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure;
  4. If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These “missing” pounds of pressure are what you will need to add;
  5. At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is under-inflated; and
  6. Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).

 

WORN TIRE TREAD:
Another cause of tire failure is worn tire tread. Your tire’s tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent your car from slipping or sliding. Worn tire tread can not only cause you to lose control of your vehicle but is can even cause your tire to have a blow out.

How Can You Tell if Your Tire Tread is Dangerous: 
You should replace your tire when the tread it worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Tires have a built-in treadwear indicator that will let you know when it is time to replace them. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear “even” with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace your tires. Another method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you are ready for new tires.

An Atlanta woman was struck by a tractor-trailer Wednesday night

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Lois John, 77, also known as “Granny,” is on life support at Grady Memorial Hospital after she was struck by a tractor-trailer last night. Ms. Johnson was crossing Virginia Avenue near Harrison Road in Atlanta when the tractor-trailer attempted a left turn, striking her with its left bumper and running her over.

The tractor-trailer driver, who stated he did not know he hit anyone, left the scene but returned after receiving a phone call with details of what occurred.

Witnesses told investigators that Ms. Johnson was jaywalking when she was struck.

Accident involving tractor-trailers often lead to serious personal injury and even death. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act is very specific as to what is required by the trucking industry and its employees. Failure by companies and drivers to comply with these rules and regulations demonstrates a complete disregard to the consequences.

Often tractor-trailer collisions are a result of the following:

  • Driver Fatigue
  • Driver under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Aggressive Driving/Tailgating or Speeding
  • Improper loading or weight distribution
  • Illegal Schedules/Illegal Logbooks
  • Improper Maintenance and safety equipment
  • Negligent hiring and training
  • Unqualified drivers

In Ms. Johnson’s case, it appears that the driver may have not seen her crossing the roadway. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Johnson and her family.

Honda airbag recall

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Honda Motor Co. has announced its largest recall ever. The Japanese automaker recalled 304,000 vehicles globally because they may contain defective air bags. (Approximately 273,000 of the cars recalled are in the U.S. and Canada.) This recall is Honda’s sixth recall since 2008 for the same problem, and brings the total number of cars recalled to nearly 2 million.

The recall affects some of Honda and Acura’s most popular models, including the Accord, Civic, Odyssey and Pilot. Honda has concerns that the vehicles’ air bags could burst in a crash due to defective inflators, sending metal and plastic pieces flying and potentially causing injury or death.

Honda has confirmed 20 accidents related to the air bag problem, including two deaths in the U.S., both in 2009.

The specific list of cars affected by Honda’s expanded recall includes: 2001 and 2002 Accord, 2001 to 2003 Civic, 2001 to 3003 Odyssey, 2002 and 2003 CR-V, 2003 Pilot, 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 Acura 3.2 CL.

For more information regarding this recall, please review Honda’s “Statement by American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Regarding Driver’s Airbag Inflator Recall Expansion.”

Defective Products Are Deadly

As I mention on my website, most of our everyday products are safe and pose no significant risk of danger, however, thousands of defective products make it to the market place and cause personal injury and even wrongful death.

Product defect cases can be more complex than they first appear, so it is important that a potential product liability claim against the manufacture or sale of a dangerous product be pursued immediately. Proving a product defect requires input and investigation from a variety of individuals and is necessary to show one or more of the following:

  • The product defect existed in the design of the product, occurring before the product was manufactured;
  • The product defect manifested during manufacturing, occurring while the product was being constructed or produced; and/or
  • The product defect was determined after market and was due to improper instructions and failure to warn consumers about the dangers of the product.

Two Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers Disbarred for Using Runners

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The Georgia Supreme Court recently disbarred two Atlanta personal injury attorneys, Steve Freedman and Thomas Sinowski for using “runners” from April 1995 through April 1999.

The use of runners (a non-lawyer who is paid by a lawyer to recruit, recommend, or direct people to use the services of that lawyer) is strictly prohibited. Under O.C.G.A. 33/24/53(a), a lawyer shall not compensate a person or organization to recommend or secure his/her employment by a client.

According to the Supreme Court Order, the pair had kept a record of their illegal payments to runners in a “Runner Book.” Although they have admitted to paying 46 runners the total amount of $276,025.00, the pair appealed their punishment of three (3) years disbarment handed down by The Review Panel of the State Bar of Georgia citing it was too harsh and other lawyers in similar circumstances had been given mere reprimands. After extensive discovery and multiple hearing, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld The Review Panel’s findings with a 5-2 vote.

As a result of their disbarment, Thomas C. Sinowski and Steven F. Freedman are required to immediately cease any practice of law in Georgia and notify all clients within thirty days (30) of their inability to further represent them.

To view the oral arguments made on behalf of Steve Freedman and Thomas C. Sinowski, visit the Fulton Daily Report website.

New firefighters to be hired in Cobb County

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Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services are hiring new firefighters for the first time since 2009. The department currently has 637 firefighters, 45 less than full staffing. The new hiring will only allow the department to add 24 firefighters due to the county cutting funding for 33 positions in its 2010 budget.

“We are expecting in excess of 1,000 applicants,” Training Division Chief William Tanks said, which is many more applications than positions available. Mr. Tanks expects many of the applicants to be great candidates for the job.

The application period will continue through December 23. The salary will begin at $38,355 in annual pay.

Selected applicants must pass oral, written and physical examinations as well as undergo background checks, drug screenings, and polygraph tests before beginning their training, which isn’t expected to start until next summer. Training will take about 30 weeks meaning new recruits will not begin work at the station until 2013.

Applicants who do not make the final 24 can be put on a waiting list and be asked to train in coming months. Cobb Fire is looking for a diverse group that is willing to perform EMT services and paramilitary duties. Trainees should be prepared to deal with the cold of winter and the heat of summer during the course of their training and should be prepared to work hard.

Cobb Fire last hired new firefighters in 2009, leading to 34 new firefighters in two classes, who began training in January and June 2010.

Applications can be found on the Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services website.

E. Coli linked to spinach – 16 cases so far

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The Food and Drug Administration is collaborating with the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate an outbreak of 16 foodborne illness infections believed to be tied to a blend of organic spinach and spring mix sold at the Wegmans chain of supermarket.

Wegmans recalled 5-ounce and 11-ounce packages of Wegmans brand Organic Spinach & Spring Mix sold in its stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts between October 14 and November 1. The recall was issued after New York State officials established a link between the product and reported illnesses in New York State due to E.coli O157:H7. State Garden, Inc. of Chelsea, Massachusetts provides the product to Wegmans.

The FDA is working with state officials, Wegmans, and State Garden, Inc. to determine further distribution of the product and ensure that it is removed from potential sale.

statement by Wegmans counsels consumers to discard any remaining product at home and visit their service desk for a full refund. Wegmans Consumer Affairs can be contacted at 1-800-WEGMANS (934-6267), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fast facts on E. coli

According to the FSIS, E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
FoodSafety.gov
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education
IsItDoneYet.gov

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.

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