Articles Posted in automobile accidents

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.

Recently, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against race car driver Tony Stewart. Although the loss of life was tragic, this is going to be a tough case for the family to win. If you saw the news clip, it appears that the young man got out of his car on the race track and walked towards Stewart’s car as it was coming down the track. Apparently, the young man was mad at Stewart for the way he was racing. Regardless, I really believe a jury will have a hard time finding that Stewart is more to blame for the tragedy than the young man who got out of his car and walked towards the oncoming race car.

According to this lawsuit, car driver Kevin Ward Jr. was hit and killed by Tony Stewart on August 9, 2014 during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Ward got out of his car after it hit the wall and walked down the track toward Stewart’s car during the caution when he was hit and killed. On September 24th 2014 a grand jury ruled that Stewart would not face criminal charges and Stewart stated that “I know 100 percent in my heart and my mind that I did not do anything wrong.”

This lawsuit alleges that Stewart “wrongfully caused Mr. Ward’s death by acting with wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence.” The lawsuit also states that, “As Stewart’s car approached Ward, who was standing on the track, Stewart climbed up, gunned his engine, causing his 700-horsepower vehicle to slide and strike Ward with his right rear tire, crushing Ward and flinging his body an estimated 25 feet down the track.” The lawsuit goes on to claim that Stewart could have easily acted more reasonably and avoided hitting Ward just like all the other drivers did when the passed Ward during the yellow caution flag warning. The Ward family, which is seeking punitive damages, has requested a jury trial. The lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages the family seeks. Stewart-Haas Racing had no comment.

Many factors can contribute to a car accident. It is not always just the driving of other people that may be involved. If roads are poorly designed or maintained or if street signs are obstructed or damage, these kinds of things can also lead to accidents that involve serious injuries or even death.

A short while ago, The Tennessee Department of Transportation examined the I-40 corridor near mile marker 226 in Wilson County at the request of state and local law enforcement after there were several car accidents involving wet road conditions. This examination included crash data, roadway design plans, and an additional road survey known as Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR.

That portion of I-40 was widened not long ago , from west of SR 171 (Mt Juliet Road) to east of SR 109, as part of a design-build contract with Lane Construction Corporation. Design build means that a project delivery method was used that allowed for one contractor to provide design and construction services.

Commercials, Billboards, Websites…. how can you pick a car accident lawyer that is right for your case? The key to choosing the right lawyer for you and your case is to do your homework. It is always good to ask around. If you know someone that has used a lawyer in a similar case ask how they liked the car wreck attorney and how their case turned out. When discussing the matter make sure to ask questions about the communication with the lawyer. Did his or her office return calls promptly? Did they keep the client informed as the case progressed? Did they include the client on decisions regarding the case?

You may also want to look at resources on the internet. Client reviews and verdict results are a great source of information. Also, how long has the lawyer been practicing and do they focus on cases like yours? Once you narrow it down to a few choices the next important step is to have a face to face meeting with the lawyer. There is really no substitute for a direct conversation. Also, when you come to the meeting come prepared. You need to be prepared to not only discuss your case with the car accident lawyer but also the lawyer’s experience. In turn, the lawyer should have some questions for you. For instance, I always ask a new client what are their expectations are about the case? What do they want from the case? I need to know that I can meet those expectations and that the client will be satisfied with the services my office can provide. To make the meeting productive you should bring the following:
– Any photographs of the accident scent, damage to vehicles and of any injuries you sustained as a result of the car wreck or other accident – A copy of your health insurance card and your automobile insurance card – A copy of the accident report. If you have not obtained this report our office can obtain it for you.
– A copy of any medical records and medical bills you may have – Any proof you may have of lost wages or other damages
Finally, when you are ready to make your choice and think there is one final yet crucial element: trust. It is difficult to describe but the needs to be a level of trust and comfort between the lawyer and client to ensure the case progresses as it should. The client needs to feel free to discuss any portion of the case with their lawyer and the lawyer needs to give straight forward and honest answers. The answers are not always easy or what the client wants to hear but these cases can be difficult and everyone involved needs to know that each can trust the other to be candid.
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Tennessee drivers and drivers all across the United States not only rely on their vehicles to keep them safe, they also expect the roads they are driving on to be safe as well. This includes guardrails on highways helping to prevent accidents and injuries when a vehicle may be out of control. However, sometimes companies that make these products are aware that they have defects and problems. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in an accident and you suspect defective guardrails may have been a factor, then you should speak to a Tennessee defective auto products lawyer right away. They will listen to your case and help make sure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

According to this case, Joshua Harmon, a self-described safety advocate, filed a lawsuit against Trinity Industries for defects in their guardrails. He filed this lawsuit following an investigation into the accident of Darius Williams. Williams had run his vehicle off an interstate at eighty miles an hour. A length of the guardrail pierced his door and pushed him into the backseat. Days later the police declared the accident a case of reckless driving and Williams was in intensive care. Harmon claimed U.S. federal whistleblower status in order to sue Trinity Industries.

His lawsuit claims that the Trinity Industries company made quiet changes to their guardrails that were meant to reduce injuries but actually led to possible deadly hazards. He is focused on the part the guardrail known as energy-absorbing end terminal. This is supposed to be on the end of a guardrail and give way when hit absorbing energy in order to slow down an out of control vehicle. Trinity, one of the biggest guardrail makers in the U.S., first gained federal approval in 2000 for its ET-Plus end terminal, now used nationwide.

Harmon’s lawsuit alleges that Trinity changed the ET-Plus’s dimensions between 2002 and 2005 without telling federal authorities. These changes caused the guardrails to lock up and act more like a shiv instead of a shock absorber that could impale cars and possibly the drivers and passengers in them.

Jack Todd, a spokesman for Trinity, states that the company has a “high degree of confidence” in its product. An executive in a 2012 deposition for a patent infringement lawsuit over the ET-Plus said that Trinity had made changes to its end terminal but that they were “cosmetic” and didn’t require new approvals because they didn’t hurt its performance. Todd said Trinity didn’t sell the revised end terminals until they had been crash-tested in 2005 and the Federal Highway Administration had “issued its letter of acceptance.” Trinity claims that Harman can’t claim to be impartial: He and his brother own two small companies that once made and installed generic end terminals based on Trinity’s ET-Plus design. In 2011, Trinity sued for patent infringement. The company also disputed Harman’s eligibility to sue under the federal whistle-blower law, saying he’s basing his allegations largely on public information, not insider knowledge. If Harman prevails in the case, his whistle-blower status could allow him to take about a third of any judgment.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap dismissed Trinity’s objections, saying Harman’s expertise qualifies him to sue as a whistle-blower. A jury will begin to hear arguments in July.
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So your lawsuit has been filed, depositions take and a trial date set. You are preparing yourself to tell the jury what you have been though and then an offer to settle comes from the defendant. Do you take it or go to trial? What a hard decision to make but a decision that our injury clients have to make all the time. As a lawyer when this happens I feel it is my job to make sure my client makes an informed decision. They need to know what is involved at trial, what do I think will be a likely outcome and why I see it the way I do. However, it is ultimately my client’s decision. They are the boss.

I was recently interviewed about this common dilemma. You can watch the interview below:

In general, here are some of the factors my clients will consider when determining whether to settle:

TIME: Lawsuits take time and we all know that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar a year from now. As such, everyone needs to consider how long the litigation will take when considering an offer. Is it likely worth the wait? How far away is trial? These are all questions that come into play when considering an offer.

COSTS: The Higgins Firm will front all the costs on our car accident cases, however, not all of the costs are recoverable at trial. As such, the costs can reduce the net recovery. Because of this we don’t spend money unless we feel it will make our client more money but again these are factors in that need to be considered.

STRESS: Jury trials can be stressful. Car Accident Trial Lawyers love going to court but most of our clients had rather be with their family or at work than explaining their life to a jury full of strangers. That being said it is a wonderful system. We have found over the years that when we have a case that needs to go in front of the jury most juries can tell our clients are good honest people who have generally never been in a lawsuit. Regardless, this is a factor that will be considering when determining whether to settle a serious injury lawsuit or taking it all the way through trial.

FUTURE LOSSES: When considering whether an offer is fair we also need to consider whether the money will cover future damages. These may include future surgeries, time off work, lost wages, pain and suffering. Sometimes it may be difficult to know if future medical treatment will be needed so we rely on medical experts to help us with this question. Obviously there is no crystal ball but a good doctor can tell us whether surgery or future medical problems are likely.

FAIRNESS: This one is hard to explain but there is often a component of does the offer seem “fair” in light of what you have been through and what you are going through. Obviously, all of my clients would have rather of never been injured in the first place so to some extant there is no amount that is “fair”. However, you need to consider what a jury would likely think is reasonable. That can be a tough call but something you must consider when determining whether to accept an offer.
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Unfortunately automobile accidents occur on the roadways every day. Being in an accident can be both confusing and overwhelming. Knowing how to handle the consequences of an accident can ensure that you make the best of a bad situation. We have provided a few tips that you should follow if you are involved in an accident.

What to Do
Call 911 for medical attention if anyone is hurt in the accident.

Call the police so that they are able to document the accident.

Exchange information with the other party. Be sure to exchange addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and any information regarding what type of vehicle is involved.

Document the scene of the accident with any photographs. Photograph the damage to the vehicles.

Report the accident to your insurance company.

What NOT to do
Do not panic. It is important to remain as calm as possible.

Do not leave the scene of the accident without exchanging information and talking with the police.

Do not forget to document the scene of the accident with photographs, notes, or other evidence.

Do not agree to any settlement until you have spoken with a Tennessee car accident attorney.
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Tennessee has lost out on a considerable amount of federal funding because of its weak Driving and Texting Laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that Tennessee will not get hundreds of thousands of dollars reserved for only those states meeting certain specifications in their texting while driving laws. Congress provided strict standards in determining which states would receive the federal grant money. Tennessee does not meet the specifications set forth by Congress because it has narrowly defined texting while driving and the penalty for violating the law does not increase for repeat offenders.

The current law which was passed in 2009 bans sending or reading electronic messages only while the vehicle is in motion. However, to qualify for the grant, the state law must make it illegal to send or read electronic messages regardless of whether the car is in motion or not. In addition, the current fine for texting while driving in Tennessee is $50 without an increase for repeat offenders.

Although there are mixed feeling about a state receiving federal funds, there should not be any mixed feelings on whether our law on distracted driving need to be improved and enforced.

Our office has handle catastrophic car accident claims for years. When we first started these cases we would see the horrible impact of drunk drivers. Although we still see those cases the devastating impact of driving and texting has become much more common. Recently, I was interviewed about this trend. You can watch the interview below:

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Being involved in some type of accident or injury can obviously be a traumatic and sometimes life-altering event. You may not know what your next step should be. If you have been injured, you may likely have some questions related to your injury. We are frequently asked a number of questions from our clients and potential clients. We have provided our answers to some frequently asked questions related to potential personal injury claims. If you have further questions, contact our team of Tennessee personal injury attorneys at The Higgins Firm.

How much is my case worth?
Although this question is frequently asked, it is not as easy to answer. Every case is different. There are a number of factors that can determine just how much your case may be worth. Assuming that there are not any issues with the liability of the injury, the amount that a case is worth can be determined by five different areas which may include:
• Past medical bills related to the injury • Future medical bills related to the injury • Any wages lost as a result of the injury • The loss of earning capacity as a result of the injury • Any pain and suffering as a result of the injury
However, there is not any certain calculation that can determine exactly how much you may recover. Rather, the true value can be based on the strength of your case. A strong case is typically built upon evidence that demonstrates what happened and why you should recover. The strength of your case can be analyzed by determining whether there may be discrepancies in your testimony, medical records, or any other types of evidence that may negatively affect your case.

In addition, other factors may affect how much your case is worth. One of those factors is the degree of injury that you sustained. Obviously if you have sustained a more severe injury, you are more likely to recover a larger amount due to the type of injury and the cost of recovery. However, other factors could affect the amount that you may be able to recover including whether you were at fault, your employment history, your ability to work, your life expectancy, and your lifestyle.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit last?
It can be hard to determine exactly how long your personal injury lawsuit may last. As stated above, every case is different. Because of that fact, there is not a specific timeline that can be provided. Some cases may last as little as a few months. Other cases may last several years. It often depends on the opposing party’s willingness to settle the case.

Do I need a lawyer?
There are sometimes when you may not even need a lawyer. If you have only suffered minor injuries as a result of a car accident or injury, it may not be cost effective to hire a lawyer. However, there are other times when a lawyer is definitely needed. We encourage you to consider hiring a Tennessee personal injury lawyer if any of these situations apply to you:
• You sustained serious injuries with potential long-term effects.
• The other driver was uninsured or underinsured.
• There is a dispute as to who is at fault for the injury or accident.
• You are feeling pressure from a claims adjuster to agree to a quick settlement.
• You feel that you have not been fully compensated for your past and potential future medical expenses.
• You have questions or believe that the statute of limitations may come into effect before you are able to file a claim.
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While we all have an expectation that our cars will get us safely from one place to another, sometimes our cars do not provide the protection that we expect. Recently, Toyota has been under intense scrutiny after several instances of drivers experiencing sudden unintended acceleration inside some of the company’s vehicles. The sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles has led to severe injuries and even deaths in some cases. Toyota has subsequently recalled millions of its cars and SUVs. If you have been injured as a result of vehicle’s sudden acceleration, you should speak with an experienced Tennessee Toyota accident attorney.

One of the first Toyota sudden acceleration cases to reach trial began last week in California. This particular case involved a 66-year-old woman whose car suddenly accelerated to a high rate of speed before a fatal collision. Known in the legal profession as a bellwether trial, this case is important because it will be a likely indicator as to whether Toyota should be held liable in other similar cases involving the sudden unintended acceleration of its vehicles.

Owner of a Toyota Camry, Noriko Uno was admittedly afraid of driving fast. She avoided taking the freeway whenever possible and drove the same route to work every day. When her vehicle suddenly accelerated to speeds up to 100 mph in a 30 mph zone, she tried everything that she could to slow the car down. She attempted stepping on the brake pedal and even pulling the emergency brake handle. However, she was unable to slow the car down before striking a telephone pole and a tree.

While the lawsuit on behalf of the Uno family includes products liability and negligence claims, the trial will likely focus on why Toyota did not have a breaking system to override the accelerator. Toyota has stated that the car had a “state-of-the-art” braking system and denied that any defect caused Uno’s death. Toyota has blamed other such crashes on accelerators becoming stuck, faulty floor mats trapping the gas pedal, as well as driver error. However, the attorney for the Uno family was confident that none of these factors were to blame. Witnesses claimed to have heard the engine roaring and reportedly saw the brake lights flashing indicating that she was unsuccessfully attempting to slow the speeding car down.

The attorney representing Uno’s son and husband stated, “Toyota decided to make safety an option instead of a standard on their vehicles. They decided to save a few bucks, and by doing so, it cost lives.” The Uno family is seeking general and punitive damages from the automaker.

While Toyota has settled some of the wrongful death cases outside of court, this case will be the first of approximately 80 similar cases filed in state courts across the country. Other suits have been filed in federal courts. Federal lawsuits allege that Toyota’s electronic throttle control system was defective causing the vehicles to accelerate.
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