Articles Posted in automobile accidents

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:

As the Tennessee grows, tragic accidents between cars and people have dramatically risen.  In fact, there have been one hundred and twenty pedestrians and bicyclists killed as of December 29, 2015.  Six  other pedestrians died in Nashville in November and December raising alarm among advocates and a new round of questions about why some people continue to be injured or killed on infamously dangerous streets, like Harding Place.  Mary-Pat Teague, chairwoman of Metro’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee was surprised by the high numbers and stated that, “A couple of these recent fatalities, people were crossing the street mid-block, out of a crosswalk , always very dangerous  but they were crossing because that’s where the bus stop was.”

Nashville’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee or BPAC and the on-profit Walk Bike Nashville, has been considering a move toward a “Vision Zero,” program that strives for zero fatalities. Teague stated that he program, as adopted in other cities, typically includes an education campaign about safe crossings, an analysis of speed limits in known danger areas, and engineering changes that try to anticipate driver errors. Mary-Pat Teague also went on to say that the “Police are doing everything they can to investigate and look at these issues, but they need help with policy changes, I believe.” Metro continues to examine crosswalks and police enforcement while the Tennessee Highway Patrol is also making pedestrian safety a priority in 2016. Lt. Bill Miller said he worries about distraction and not just for drivers. He asks, “Is there something that we can do to better educate the public as to the dangers that are involved with walking and being distracted at the same time?” Miller also went on to state that, “It’s an urgent challenge because 10 percent of roadway fatalities now involve people outside of vehicles. We are, unfortunately, being hit very hard with non-motorized and pedestrian fatalities. That is going to be one of our primary areas of focus in 2016.”

In this case, General Motors is recalling an estimated two hundred thousand Saab and Saturn cars in the U.S. and Canada to replace the Takata driver’s air bag inflators. The Takata air bag inflators have been known to explode with too much force in a crash and hurl metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. So far at least ten people have died worldwide and one hundred and thirty-nine have been hurt due to the problem. The recall includes the Saab 9-3 from 2003 to 2011 and the Saab 9-5 from 2010 and 2011 as well as the Saturn Astra from 2008 and 2009. This recall is part of a bigger recall of about 5.4 million vehicles announced last month by U.S. safety regulators.

As of right now, General Motors has no plans to offer loaner cars to people who don’t want to drive their vehicles, according to their spokesman Tom Wilkinson . Tom Wikinason also stated that, “The type of Takata inflators in the GM cars ruptured only in testing and not in the field. Our position is you can continue to drive the cars as normal until repairs are made.” The spokesman for General Motors went on to state that, “The Saab models under recall were sold in other markets including Europe, while the Astra was sold as an Opel in Europe and elsewhere. General Motors global safety team is reviewing data on the inflators in other markets and will respond appropriately.”  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the most recent of Takata recalls on January 22nd after the death of a man when an inflator ruptured on a 2006 Ford Ranger, and when testing showed four ruptures on a different type of Takata inflator.

The latest round of recalls covers vehicles made by GM, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Honda,Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Trucks. They bring to about 24.4 million the number of vehicles under recall in the U.S. for Takata air bag problems, affecting fourteen car and truck makers. It’s already the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, and the government expects it to grow. Worldwide, about fifty million inflators are under recall.

We rely on our vehicles to be safe and reliable so they can get us where we need to go each day. Unfortunately, sometimes vehicle tires will have defects and problems which can lead to car accidents and even severe or life-threatening injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated eight thousand accidents each year that lead to severe injury or death are caused by tires that had defectives that caused them to fail. If you or someone you know were involved in a car accident that you believe was caused by a defective tire or other car problem, then you should speak to a Tennessee car accident and defective product lawyer with the Higgins Firm. We will review your case and work with you to make sure that you get the compensation you may be entitled to by law for the injuries you have suffered.

The Discount Tire and America’s Tire stores are recalling almost 80,000 light truck and SUV replacement tires because the tread can separate. The chains started this recall because Discount Tire stated that it noticed premature separations on Pathfinder tires in February and started testing them. It found that the rubber coating between the two steel belts in the tire wasn’t thick enough. If the steel belts crack, the tread could separate, increasing the risk of a crash.

The tires effected by this recall include Pathfinder tires that were made between August of 2013 and May of 2015. The tires with the defect were not sold after May 19th. The stores will notify owners of these tires and either offer them replacement tires for no charge or offer other refunds. Discount Tire stated that there are no reports of deaths or injuries due to the defect. The recalled was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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