Articles Posted in automobile accidents

On March 18, 2018, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was struck and killed by a self driving Uber car. The Tempe resident had been crossing the road with her bicycle when the automobile driven by a robotic computer failed to stop before hitting her head on.

At first Tempe police said Herzberg was at fault. Their report stated that she had come “from the shadows” stepping off the median and into the road. Herzberg was jaywalking with her bike and ended up in the path of the vehicle. Legal experts monitoring the case have already said that Herzberg will likely be criticized for jaywalking and also for being homeless with a criminal history. They have also been quick to follow up these criticism by explaining that Tempe is not bicycle or pedestrian friendly meaning jaywalking is absolutely necessary to cross the street. Furthermore Herzberg was actively trying to get her life back on track.

The self driving Volvo XC90 Uber car did have a safety driver behind the wheel.  Video footage shows  Rafaela Vasquez  looking down rather than onto the road. Her hands were not on the top sides of the steering wheel as recommended by Uber. Vasquez was also not a professional driver and had a history of driving offenses,  although they were not enough to disqualify her from the position. If the case is prosecuted, she is likely to come under intense scrutiny. Vasquez has not been charged.

A new study published by the travel and insurance group, AAA, has shown that one out of 10 car accidents on U.S. highways result from drowsy driving. This number is eight times greater than previous estimates and has created a panic in the auto industry with many automakers already trying to find ways to alert drivers when they begin to nod off.

David Yang, executive director of the AA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says “Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show. Drivers who don’t get enough sleep are putting everyone on the road at risk.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has told GM that it will have to face the potentially billions of dollars in multiple legal claims after installing a deadly ignition switch in their cars. GM argues they were ‘free and clear’ of liability and use their 2009 bankruptcy sale as an appeal.

The justices overseeing the issue left no comment in the federal court appeals ruling which stated any accord of bankruptcy would not protect GM from accidents, and any following claims, that happened before the sale. Lawyers of plaintiffs estimate current claims total for nearly $10 billion dollars. This number could increase should there be more lawsuits to follow.

This ruling is another setback for Mary Barra, the GM Chief Executive Officer. She has already experienced woes within the company. In her first year, her role as CEO was heavily occupied by the ignition defect which is directly associated with at least 124 deaths and recalls of 2.59 million cars. One financial analyst says there is a finite risk which will require GM to reconsider buying back stock or paying out its

The futuristic dream of self driving cars could be a reality sooner than many people realize. In fact self driving cars already exist. Companies like Google and Tesla have cars that are nearly autonomous and lack a steering wheel or foot pedals. They could revolutionize the idea of driving, reduce the number of accidents or decrease traffic jams. That’s if the legal concerns encompassing them don’t slow down their full public release.

Self driving cars have added complications to the current legal definition of “driver”, and this has made it difficult to identify the at-fault party. Is it the manufacturer of the car? The software provider whose technology is used in the car? The human driver?

A bill has been filed in the Tennessee General Assembly that would make drivers immune from any civil liability if they hit and injure a protester who is blocking the road. The proposed bill was filed in early February by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and reads:

“A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right of way is immune from civil liability for such injury.”

According to the bill, if the driver intentionally hit the protester or did not exercise due care, they are not immune to being sued in a civil court. This bill is one of many that have been filed nationwide; each specifies similar protection for drivers, and targets protestors. Other proposed bills have been filed that would hold protestors financially liable for causing law enforcement officials to work overtime; thereby, leading to millions of dollars in overtime pay.
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It’s a breathalyzer for cell phones. A new device could be the start to an end of texting while driving in Tennessee. State Sen. Lee Harris, Democrat of Memphis is pushing for a bill to be passed that allows law enforcement officers to combat driver distraction with the “Textalyzer”. As a spin on the “breathalyzer” this device can show whether or not a driver was texting just prior to causing an accident.

State lawmakers have already stated that texting while driving is equivalent to driving while intoxicated, and since 2009, the act is illegal and punishable by law. Enforcing this rule has proven to be difficult because a warrant for cell phone records is required. With the Textalyzer, police can plug the device into a phone and conduct a scan to uncover any recent texts, emails, or other messages which may have ultimately contributed to a collision. The device is not able to read the message’s content or see who the receiving recipient is. Using the results displayed, the officer could determine that distracted driving was a probable cause. Insurance companies and Tennessee car accident lawyers may also be able to use the Textalyzer results to settle claims faster.

As drivers and passengers, we count on airbags to protect us in the event of a collision. Few people would think that these airbags could actually be the source of trauma and pain. Unfortunately, this is exactly what’s happening with airbags produced by Takata. Typically found in Hondas, these airbags are incredibly dangerous and explosive. In one case, a 17-year-old girl lost her life due to this faulty product.

The Case

Huma Hanif was killed on March 31 after her Civic was in an accident. The airbag inflated like it was supposed to but not without a metal piece breaking apart and causing her fatal injuries. This is in-line with the reported explosions happening in the metal canisters that are part of the Takata airbag make up. Grieving for their loss, her family filed a lawsuit against Takata, the car dealer they purchased the Civic from, and Honda. All three have recently settled the case with her family outside of court. The settlements were for an undisclosed amount, as is common in these types of cases. Due to this incredibly tragic event her family will mourn their loss for the rest of their lives. Money can’t bring her back, but the settlement can ease any financial burdens caused by this loss.

We’re all guilty of checking our cell phones for messages, missed calls and social media updates while driving. As tempting as this action can be, it’s one which comes with a lot of risk. Recently, The National Safety Council has found that as many as two in three drivers pulling into shopping centers, parking garages, and parking lots are distracted. And further, that one in five accidents happens while in these locations.

Parking Lot Accidents Account for 1 in 5 Collisions

Deadly Accidents in Parking Lots

The leading culprit for such collisions is cell phones. One researcher involved in the study says many people understand the risks associated with using a phone while on a highway or busy road. But in a parking lot, they’re going much slower and this speed offers a “false sense of security.” It’s true that a driver’s speed is significantly less than main roads; even so, the consequences have proven to be deadly.

The November 22 Tennessee bus accident which left 6 children dead and critically injured 23 more has impacted every family within the state. Now, families of the children who lost their lives have discovered they can receive no more than $750,000 in personal damages.

Modifications to the Tennessee tort reform law in 2011 limited payouts in any personal injury claim against doctors and other relevant businesses. This law, says Tennessee bus accident lawyers, will likely apply to the families considering a civil lawsuit against the Durham School Services and district. The driver of the bus, 24 year old Johnthony Walker, lost control crashing into a tree and telephone pole. Chattanooga police have said Mr. Walker has been charged with six counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.

The recent bus crash in Tennessee has once again renewed the debate about whether or not school buses should be fitted with seat belts. Regardless of such accidents being uncommon, the U.S. government’s top safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has spoken out saying all school busses should have seat belts. California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas all have laws which mandate seat belts on school buses; Tennessee is not yet one of these. Furthermore, 17 states have introduced seat belt bills, but none has passed. This could be attributed to the price figure estimate of $7,000 – $10,000 per bus. With over 480,000 public school buses on the road, carrying over 25 million children, these costs could exceed the billion dollar mark. After the collision, many people are hoping for a federal mandate.

Most recently, NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said “We know that seat belts will save lives if we put one for every kid on every school bus.”  However, in the past, the same association, along with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) has said they’re not convinced seat belts would increase safety. Likewise, The National PTA and The American Academy of Pediatrics have remained in favor of all school buses being fitted with seat belts for children. Both have voiced concerns that the message of “buckle up for safety” should remain consistent across all vehicles both private and public. Donald Carnahan, NAPT President, counters the statement by saying “Seat belts in cars and lap belts on school buses are completely different safety issues.”

The National Coalition for Seatbelts on School Buses, an advocacy organization, has noted several reasons to take the precautionary measure; some of which may include:

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