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Toyota and Nissan expand Takata recall to nearly 6.6 million vehicles

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Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Toyota and Nissan expand Takata recall to nearly 6.6 million vehicles

Toyota and Nissan have issued a recall of an additional 6.56 million vehicles with defective Takata airbags.

Toyota’s recall affects 5 million vehicles across the globe including 637,000 in the United States, 1.4 million in Japan and 18,000 in Canada. The recall affects 35 different models including the Corolla, RAV4 and Tundra vehicles manufactured from March 2003 to November 2007. The recall was issued due to the fact that front passenger and driver-side airbags can deploy abnormally or rupture, which can cause greater risk or injury during a crash.

This recall is different than the original recall in which airbags would deploy with too much force sending metal shrapnel into occupants. The original recall affects ten automakers and nearly 30 million vehicles globally. Toyota decided to expand the recall after investigators uncovered moisture problems which could cause the airbags to be “susceptible to abnormal deployment in a crash.”

Nissan issued a smaller recall expansion of 1.56 million vehicles globally for new Takata problem including 326,000 in North America, 563,000 in Europe and 288,000 in Japan. The recall affects the Sentra, Caravan and X-Trail models made from 2004 to 2007. Nissan will test and replace the inflators as needed.

Toyota plans on replacing the driver-side airbags with inflators made by Daicel Corporation. Toyota will still continue to use Takata even though Takata has not been able to keep up with the demand for inflators.

Honda, who has recalled the most vehicles as a result of defective Takata airbags, has not made a decision on whether or not it will expand its recall.

Takata has been fined $14,000 a day by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since February 20, for allegedly dumping documents on the agency without legally explaining what is in them. Takata is still failing to cooperate with the agency’s investigation.

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

Source: TIME

Parents may be liable for what their kids post on Facebook

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Parents may be liable for what their kids post on Facebook

According to a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals, parents can be held liable for what their children post on Facebook.  The Georgia Court of Appeals recently ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade boy were negligent for not having their son take down a Facebook profile that defamed one of his female classmates.

In 2011, the boy with the help of a classmate made a profile pretending to be the female classmate. After morphing her photo on the “Fat Face” app, the boys posted the fake profile with comments that depicted the girl to be racist and promiscuous, according to the court documents.

When the girl discovered the profile, her parents went to the school principal who gave the boy two days of in-school suspension. The principal also alerted the boy’s parents who grounded him for a week. The boy did not take the profile down after his punishment and it remained online for 11 months. Facebook finally deactivated the account after the girl’s parents contacted Facebook. The girl’s parents did not go to the boy’s parents immediately because the school refused to identify the culprit due to confidentiality.  As a result of the parents not having the boy to take down the profile, they were found negligent for some of the girls injuries.

Judge J. Ellington wrote in the opinion, “Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers, for an additional eleven months, we conclude that a jury could find that the [parents’] negligence proximately caused some part of the injury [the girl] sustained from [the boy’s] action (and inactions).” The appeals court did dismiss part of the lawsuit which held the parents responsible of the boy posting the profile in the first place, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Many lawyers are saying that this ruling marks legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility regarding children’s online activity.

Source: Wall Street Journal LawBlog

Could using iWatch be considered distracted driving?

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Could using iWatch be considered distracted driving?

When Google Glass originally came out, a woman was pulled over for using the product while driving. Now that the iWatch has been released, there has been talk on whether iWatch will be considered the same as using a mobile phone while driving. The United Kingdom’s Department for Transport has already been quoted saying that using iWatch while driving would carry the same penalties as driving using a mobile phone. In the United Kingdom, driving while using a mobile phone could cost you a 100-pound fine, equivalent to $160.

Although the product won’t be hitting the market until next year, regulators feel strongly that the product could be a distraction to drivers. The Institute of Advanced Motorists study compared the smartwatch to the smartphone and feels that the watch may demand attention of drivers with ‘constant alerts.’ Although there have been no comments from the US Department of Transportation on the matter, with the challenges of the use of Google Glass behind the wheel, we may see more studies released on the subject matter. There are some laws that prohibit texting and driving depending on the state. This may open up to more devices as new products are released such as the iWatch. For a list of distracted driving laws by state, you can visit Distraction.gov.

Though the iWatch may not be prohibited behind the wheel yet, we do strongly suggest that any sort of distraction that takes your hands and mind from wheel should be removed.

Safety in Selling and Buying on Craigslist   

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Tips for selling and buying safely on Craigslist

Last week, a 28-year-old man was shot and killed after a 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend attempted to rob him in Dunwoody, Georgia. The couple had asked to meet the man after he had posted his PS4 Gaming system on Craigslist. After trying to strong arm him for the gaming system, the girl fired a gun shooting the man in the side of the chest.

Traumatic accidents like this one are much more common than people realize. People often hear the horror stories of craigslist sales, but never actually think it will happen to them. If you plan on buying or selling on Craigslist or any other online selling website practice these safety tips in order to prevent the worst.

  1. Don’t think that parking lots are safe places to meet. Just because a parking lot is public does not mean that it is safe. You need to meet in a place where there is surveillance and lots of people around. Preferably, you should schedule meeting times during the day when it is light out. Bank parking lots during business hours area good option for a place to meet.
  2. Don’t hesitate to walk away. If a buyer or seller will not opt to meet you in a public place, then do not hesitate to cancel the sale. It is okay to question their motive for not meeting in an open and public place. Trust your gut. Don’t risk your safety for any product.
  3. Don’t travel alone. Any time you are going to meet anyone to buy or sell make sure you have someone with you. Although many people think that only women should bring someone with them, there are many situations where men have been attacked when they are alone. Safety is in numbers.

No sale is worth risking your life or safety over. Always practice great safety habits with any transaction. If you are injured due to a negligence of someone or an internet service, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.

Combating Technology with Technology

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Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

5 Apps to help you stop texting while driving

It is extremely important to drive safe considering your life and the lives of others are at stake. As much as drivers do not intend to drive distracted, the alert saying you received a new message or call can spur a habitual action of reading the text or answering the phone call.  With drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds, there is plenty of time for an accident to occur.

No text or call is worth putting someone’s life at risk. With the way our smartphones are glued to our hips, it may be best to use technology to combat technology. There are several new apps that will help you drive without distractions as well as encourage safety while you are behind the wheel.

  1. DriveSafe Mode – (Free)  DriveSafe Mode sends an alert through email if your phone is being used while driving. Although it doesn’t block any incoming calls or text, nor does it block the user from using their phone, it does help parents to keep track of whether their child has been using their phone while driving.
  2. AT&T Drive Mode – (For Android and Blackberry Phones) – (Free) AT&T created an application that locks your phone when you are moving more than 25 mph. It will then send an auto response message of your choice to the caller or texter. When you speed is below 25 mph for more than five minutes the app will then show you your missed calls or messages.
  3. DriveSafe.ly – (For Blackberry and Android) – (Free) This app combats texting while driving by reading your text message, phone call, or email aloud. This prevents the driver from reaching from their phone. It also automatically responds to the recipients automatically or by voice using hands free.
  4. tXtblocker – ($6.99 monthly) This app will block text messages while you are driving and at certain locations, such as school, work, or home. It is a great application for parents who want to control phone usage or need GPS tracking.
  5. Textecution – (For Androids) – ($29.99) When your GPS detects that you are going a certain speed it will disable the phone and sent an automated text reply. You can override this function if you are a passenger or riding a bus through the account administrator who can override the app.

All of these applications are good resources to combat technology with technology. Although it can be beneficial, technology can also be very dangerous. Make choices based on safety, and always remember that “It can wait.”

Taking the call could risk it all

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Talking on the phone – not texting – Is the biggest killer in distracted driving

Cellphones are now involved in 26% of all motor vehicle crashes according the National Safety Council.  Although there are numerous warnings against texting and driving, it only accounts for about 5% of cellphone related crashes. Using a hand-held or hands-free cellphone attributes to 21% of cellphone related crashes.

Because of the fact that people are more comfortable talking on the phone while driving as opposed to texting and driving, it is more common. Texting while driving definitely adds more elements of distraction, considering your eyes are taken off the road. You also have to factor in that much of the data reported for these surveys is under reported because people do not want to admit they have driven distracted.

In the future, the number of crashes from texting while driving may increase. The lack of enforcement for distracted driving has also caused the number of drivers using devices while driving to increase. Since people are not facing jail time or large fines like they would if they were drinking while driving, they are less likely to stop the habit. The irony is that talking on the phone while driving has been shown to be worse than drinking certain levels of alcohol. You reaction time slows down nearly 50 percent slower than under normal conditions.

The future may hold many safety improvements such as bans on cellphones while driving, vehicles that disable you from using your cellphone while driving, and the self-driving vehicle. We are hoping that in the future more people will be concerned about their safety and the safety of others by not using their phones while driving.

For more useful statistics related to driving while using your cellphone click here.

Source: Quentin Fottrell, “You Killed me at help: 26% of car wrecks involve phones,” Market Watch, March 26, 2014.

Understanding Google’s Self-Driving Cars

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Understanding Google’s Self-Driving Cars

As Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic recently reported, Google’s ambitious plan for self-driving cars requires first that Google collect and upload a massive amount of data.  Why data?   Because Google is actually creating a “virtual track” out of our highways.   Well, 2000 miles out of 4 million so far, so Google has a lot of work to do.   But it is undaunted.

What is this “virtual track”?    Remember trolleys that move along rail tracks while connected to electric power?   Or those rides at Disney or other amusement parks that travel along pre-set groves in the constructed track?   They had routes.   They could not deviate from them, other than to shake a bit left and right.   Imagine the airport tram, but with a much much larger “track” on which to operate.

Now, imagine those “route” kind of tracks, but add them via computers, the internet, GPS, and a myriad of sensors, and not with asphalt or bulldozers.   The “virtual track” is what the self-driving car relates to first, not the real-world environment ahead per se, but with the map of the environment that is already loaded into its data system or beamed to it .  That frees up the cars to travel along known (as in the data is fully mapped and recorded in the car and the system database) tracks on known streets with ease, so the car can its sensors to focus more on variable hazards, such as other cars, bikes, dogs, and so on.

In other words, at least for the time being, the self-driving cars have to drive on a pre-mapped virtual track of the road.   And Google is mapping it down to the centimeter, even down to the curb level.   What does that mean for consumers?

Pretty much nothing right now as the technology is not finished, nor is the virtual track remotely complete.   Currently, there’s only about 2000 miles of roads mapped and uploaded for the track.   Thus, even if you have a self-driving car, it cannot go off track and remain self-driving   The car would not know where to go.  It would be like you trying to take the Disney ride off its track or having your trolley cut loose from the power lines and tracks and head off in an entirely new direction.   It can’t happen unless you discontinued the self-driving mode.

So, until your self-driving car has a mapped section of the road, you won’t be taking too many detours or using it in towns or even parts of the country that are not mapped.   At least not yet.

Also, if the virtual track, or the data-carrying device in the car or in cyberspace, goes down or suffers a glitch, then your car won’t drive on its own.  You will have to assume control and finish the job.  The good news is that Google is building the cars to “learn” from the users when they take over.   So, maybe next time you won’t have to take over.   The car will “remember” what you did when last confronted with a particular obstacle or event.

The most obvious first use of this technology would be taxis or trams that go from Point A to Point B on a fairly regular basis.    Mass self-driving transit would benefit people whose routes do not vary much, including city dwellers and commuters, bus riders, cab takers, and students.   The blind and disabled should benefit greatly and see their personal autonomy greatly increased.

It is promising technology, but there is still much to do.   But Google appears to have the excitement and resources to do it.

What’s the end game, according to Ms. Madrigal?   It eventually might be robots, namely, smart robots that can operate within or “on” the same “virtual track” in the future.   Recall too that Google is also starting to work on mapping the inside of various structures as well.

Is this the droid you are looking for?   Yes, Officer, that is my droid.  I sent him to the grocery store for some cold beer and pretzels.  

– Pat Dawson

Girl’s Facebook Post cost her Parents $80,000

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Facebook Post Cost Family $80,000

It’s probably not in your best interest to publicly announce that because your parents won their lawsuit you’re all going to Europe on Facebook, but unfortunately, that is exactly what Patrick Snay’s daughter did.

The previous head of a Gulliver Preparatory School in Miama, Florida is now out an $80,000 discrimination settlement due to the fact his daughter boasted about it on Facebook. Patrick Snay, at age 69 filed an age discrimination complaint when his 2010-2011 contract wasn’t renewed.

An agreement was made between the school and Snay that he would be paid $10,000 in back pay, $80,000 settlement and his attorneys would get a check $60,000 from Gulliver Schools. Before the deal was made final, Snay’s daughter wrote a Facebook post saying, “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” The message was seen by 1,200 of her Facebook friends, including many Gulliver students.

Because of the post, Snay was caught in breaking the confidentiality agreement and would not receive the $80,000. Snay filed a motion to enforce the settlement and won in a Circuit Court ruling, but the school appealed. The Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida agreed that Snay had violated the confidentiality agreement.

This proves that the rising use of social media can potentially damage cases.  To read more about how social media can hurt your case read our blog here.

Source: CNN, “Girl costs father $80,000 with ‘SUCK IT’ Facebook post,” Matthew Stucker, March 3, 2014.

The App You Need Most to Drive Safe – The SaferCar App

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SaferCar App

Keeping up with vehicle safety can be time consuming and overwhelming, but there is a new app to help aid consumers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an app called SaferCar which helps provide consumers with safety information for driving and vehicles. The app enables its users to see recalls and complaints on all models as well as comparing vehicles and their safety features.

“Safety is our highest priority, and we’re always working to find new and better ways for people to access SaferCar, one of the most popular programs on our website,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe.”

Some of the new features include:

• 5-Star safety ratings: When a consumer is shopping for vehicles they can access crash test ratings, safety information, and compare them with similar models across the board.

• Recalls and complaints: SaferCar will have automatic updates for new recalls and consumer complaints. You can also submit your complaints through the app itself.

• Safety Headlines and Alerts: Everything safety news related will be shown on the app. whenever a safety alert is posted a “push notification” can be sent through the app about it.

• Safety Help: There are many safety features you may not be aware of or be knowledgeable about. SaferCar will feature important tips and directions on how to make sure your vehicle and its occupants are safe.

The app is a great release and it is free on Apple’s iTunes Store. Development is in process for an Android compatible version. This is not the only step that the NHTSA has taken to help consumers stay safe. They also updated the www.SaferCar.gov site to help consumers stay up-to-date with specific defect investigations, recalls, and customer complaints.

Make sure you take advantage of this great free application. Just don’t use it while you’re driving.

Source: FindLaw, “NHTSA’s SaferCar App Taps Recall, Crash Test Info,” March 28, 2013.

Your Smartphone Could Be Causing You Sleep Disorders

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Sleep Disorders From Smartphones

If waking up was hard for you this morning, your smartphone might be the one to blame. Emory Sleep Disorders Laboratory, Medical Director, Dr. David Schulman, reported that using your device right before you go to bed may make it harder to fall asleep.

Checking your email, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks makes it hard to disengage your mind. We naturally want to respond to things or engage in conversations and post which doesn’t help in relaxing your mind. Even the light on your phone naturally stimulates your mind and has an alerting affect.

Dr. Schulman suggests reading a book instead of using your smart device. Light pointing downward as opposed to directly in your eyes can be less obtrusive. Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.

In a poll by the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people reported that they frequently use an electronic device the hour before bedtime. Although Facebook is not to blame, 19 percent of people under 25 reported posting to Facebook or Twitter whenever they wake up at night and 28 percent said they logged into social-networking before even getting out of bed in the morning. With teenagers being recommended to get close to 9 hours of sleep a night, an electronic curfew may be good for yourself or your teen.

Although all of our smartphones and tablets help our lives in one way or another, we need to make sure they are not stealing our sleep in return or causing us to fall asleep behind the wheel. Be sure to check out our blog for more information on how smart phones can also cause severe accidents as a result of distracted driving.

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