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.
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.
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.
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.
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:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW31bsdcSCA
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.