The Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve holidays are among the busiest times of the year for people on America’s roadways, in the stores and out on the town. Unfortunately, all that merriment can quickly turn to despair if you’re not careful. Personal injury attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell offer these five tips for staying safe during the harried holiday season.
- Shop smart: Muggings and thefts spike during the Christmas shopping season. Shoppers are urged to be wary of people around them while buying gifts and taking them home. Keep your wallet securely inside your purse or jacket pocket until it’s time to pay, and be particularly watchful while taking your purchases to your vehicle. Park in a well-lit area of the parking lot and avoid shopping alone. If no one is with you, ask for an escort by mall or store security personnel. Also take care while taking gifts from your driveway into your home.
- Don’t advertise: Once the gift exchange is done, never place tell-tale packaging in your trash. This practically advertises potential loot to home burglars and can put your family’s safety at risk. Destroy or take boxes, bags and other packaging to a public dumpster instead.
- Travel safe: If you plan to enjoy a cocktail or two during your holiday celebrations, be sure to have a non-drinking designated driver. Know that drunken driving accident rates can double during the holidays. Limit your time on the roadways and be extra wary when you are traveling. Also be aware that the number of large commercial trucks on America’s highways increases during this time, as distributors rush to get merchandise to retailers.
- Deck the halls wisely: Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Dec. 23. are three of the top five days for home fires caused by candles. Skip conventional candles for battery-operated flameless candles instead. If you do use open-flame candles, place them far way from Christmas trees and decorations made of flammable fabrics including ribbons, tree skirts and stockings. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Ring in the New Year safely: Consumer-grade fireworks are popular among New Year’s Eve celebrants. Unfortunately, they’re also to blame for the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries. In fact, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,400 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments nationwide and that eight non-occupational fireworks-related deaths occurred during calendar year 2013. When using fireworks, hold them away from your body while lighting them, then immediately move back to a safe distance. Never allow minors to use fireworks without responsible adult supervision. And douse spent devices with water before disposing of them.
Automobile and truck accidents, as well as product and premises liability cases often are results of holiday activities gone wrong. If you or your loved ones are injured by someone else’s negligent or deliberate act during this time, get medical treatment and contact Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
From all of us here at Harrell and Harrell, have a safe and happy holiday season.
Officials with the National legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action, this week called upon the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform to investigate evidence suggesting that General Motors purposefully delayed the recall of defective ignition switches. The move comes with reports of the 38th death confirmed to be linked with the faulty switches and news of emails that show the company ordered 500,000 replacement switches a full two months before it notified safety regulators of the defect.
News of the defect first hit in February 2014, with notification to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the company was recalling 780,000 vehicles. GM warned that the ignition switches were known to shift out of place, causing a vehicle’s engine to stall and shutting down multiple functions including power steering, power brakes and airbag deployment mechanisms. Weeks later, GM expanded the recall and admitted that it had known about the problem – which could have been fixed with a 57-cent part – for more than a decade.
In the months since, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against GM over deaths and injuries believed to have been caused by the defective switches, and new GM CEO Mary Barra testified before the US House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, saying “When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators and with our customers.”
Now, emails released in a Texas court case allegedly prove that GM placed an “urgent” order for a half-million replacement ignition switches to be delivered “ASAP” on or around December 18, 2013. Yet, the defect wasn’t reported to the NHTSA until February 13, 2014 – nearly two months later. While GM contends that ordering parts before issuing a recall is standard procedure, attorneys argue that the delay needlessly put millions of customers at risk. In the Texas case alone, it’s alleged that a timely warning might have prevented at least one death and 85 injuries.
To date, GM has recalled some 29 million cars in North America this year, most of which involve the faulty ignition switches. While GM has thus far approved 38 death claims for compensation, a Reuters investigation claims the true death toll surpasses 150.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury that you believe was caused by a malfunctioning ignition switch in a vehicle affected by the recall, get medical attention and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
As the controversy over defective airbags made by Japanese auto parts maker Takata intensifies, federal regulators with the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety are calling for an expanded recall of the airbags and issuing orders for detailed reports and documentation. These orders have gone out to not only Takata, but to the 10 automobile manufacturers known to have installed the deadly airbags in millions of vehicles on America’s roadways.
The original recall affected some 7.8 million American-owned vehicles registered in a handful of the nation’s states and territories with high-humidity climates, noting results of an investigation showing that the airbags were prone to rupturing in humid conditions. Upon rupturing, the airbags send sharp-edged shrapnel throughout a vehicle’s cabin, inflicting stab-like wounds in drivers. But when an incident involving an airbag rupture was reported outside the affected region, NHTSA officials immediately acted by:
- Calling upon Takata and the 10 automakers using its airbags and airbag inflator to expand the recall of driver’s side airbags nationwide or become subject to the agency’s full statutory powers. The 10 automakers are BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.
- Issuing a Genera Order compelling Takata and these 10 automakers to submit, under oath, detailed reports and documents relating to completed, ongoing or planned testing of the Takata airbag inflators outside the current regional recall areas.
- Issuing a Special Order to Takata demanding the company provide, again under oath, documents and detailed information about the propellant used in its airbag inflators, as Takata recently disclosed that it changed the chemical mix of the propellant.
- Issuing a Recall Acknowledgement Letter summarizing the details from Takata’s latest report regarding defective passenger side airbag inflators and pointing out information gaps that need clarification to ensure full disclosure as required by law.
“We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in a prepared statement. “We’re pushing Takata and all affected manufacturers to issue the recall and to ensure the recalls capture the full scope of the problems.”
If you or your loved ones have suffered an injury that you believe may be related to the defective airbags, contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida, as well as South Georgia. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an experienced product liability or auto accident attorney today.
Automobile manufacturers have one primary job – to sell you their cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles. But they also have a legal and ethical responsibility to assure that their products and parts are safe. Unfortunately, that responsibility sometimes is taken lightly – with potentially deadly results.
Among the requirements of automobile manufacturers is the submission of early warning reports, (EWRs) identifying potential or actual safety issues. Federal law requires large manufacturers and their affiliates to submit comprehensive EWRs quarterly, allowing for timely notice to the US Department of Transportation and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Smaller-volume automakers aren’t required to submit quarterly EWRs, but are mandated to report fatal incidents involving their vehicles.
That’s where Maranello, Italy-based Ferrari recently made an inexcusable mistake. Though considered a small-volume manufacturer, it’s owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and markets its wares in the United States, which makes it beholden to the federal laws requiring quarterly EWRs and fatality reports. Company officials recently admitted violating the law by failing to submit EWRs to the NHTSA over a three year period, and failing to report three fatal incidents. Now, Ferrari has been hit with a $3.5 million fine and new mandates to improve its EWR reporting processes, train personnel on the EWR requirements, and retroactively submit all required reports.
“The information included in early warning reports is an essential tool in tracking down dangerous defects in vehicles,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, adding that EWRs “are like NHTSA’s radar, helping us to find unsafe vehicles and make sure they are fixed. Companies that violate the law and fail to comply will be subject to comparable swift NHTSA enforcement action.”
Ferrari isn’t the only auto manufacturer to shirk responsibility for reporting potentially dangerous issues. Two US Senators last week called upon the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into evidence that Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata destroyed evidence of a default that thus far has contributed to the deaths of at least three American drivers and prompted a 7.8 million-unit recall. Plus, newly revealed emails suggest that carmaker General Motors ordered more than a half-million replacement ignition switches nearly two months before it notified safety regulators of a defect in the switches linked to 32 known deaths – and issue that company officials admit they’ve known about for a decade.
If you or your loved ones are injured or lost in an incident involving a known or suspected defect in the manufacture of a vehicle, whether it belongs to you or another involved party, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact a product liability or auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
This month, we celebrate America’s military veterans, the men and women who sacrifice months and years of time away from their loved ones and put their lives on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms. Celebrated each November 11, Veteran’s Day has its roots in Armistice Day, created via a proclamation by US President Woodrow Wilson to mark the date and time of the ceasefire that essentially ended World War 1 – the 11th hour of November 11, 1918. It would be another seven months before the war’s official end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
Today, the holiday has a new name and typically is spent watching parades go by or, if you live in a warm climate like we here in Florida do, grilling on the deck. And of course, many will take advantage of Veteran’s Day sales at local retailers. But once the parades wind down, the grill cools off and the sales are over, millions of US military veterans return to difficult daily lives.
Statistics show that 32,221 servicemen and servicewomen came home with combat wounds from the Iraq War alone. These include catastrophic conditions such as amputations, spine injuries, traumatic brain injuries and ruptured ear drums which can lead to total hearing loss. Many also suffer mental or emotional troubles including clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, statistics show that 228,875 troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan returned with PTSD as of 2012, and throughout 2010, some 22 veterans committed suicide each day.
Unfortunately, the celebratory fervor of Veteran’s Day often doesn’t translate when it comes to medical treatment. Ongoing investigations into alleged troubles in the Veterans Administration hospital and health care system have turned up highly questionable or unethical appointment scheduling procedures, alleged cover-ups and chronic treatment delays, many of which may have led to preventable deaths of veterans.
Here at Harrell and Harrell, we believe our veterans deserve better. If you are a veteran suffering adverse health issues and have been unable to secure a timely appointment at a VA medical facility or because your claim for the VA benefits you’re due was denied, we can help. Our team of veterans disability benefits attorneys is led by 10-year South Carolina Army National Guard military policeman and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Jason Odom – someone who knows just what you’re facing and can help assure you get the care end benefits you’ve so valiantly earned. Contact us at 800-251-1111.
From all of us here at Harrell and Harrell, deepest appreciation goes out to all of our military service members on Veteran’s Day and every day.
No doubt you’ve heard news of the massive recall of faulty vehicle air bags made by the Japanese manufacturer, Takata, and installed in upward of 14 million Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors models worldwide – upward of 8 million of them here in the United States. Now, there’s evidence that Takata officials allegedly knew about the issue as early as 2004 and deliberately hid the truth.
On Thursday, the New York Times published an investigative report alleging that Takata officials learned of the problem that causes airbags to rupture in even minor collisions during testing a decade ago. But rather that notify federal safety regulators about the default, which can cause debris to fly from the bag, causing stab-like wounds in victims’ face, neck and chest areas, company officials instead ordered its engineers to destroy all related data and physical evidence. It would be another four years before Takata publicly acknowledged the problem and another six before the first major recall. Meanwhile, the default thus far has contributed to three deaths, including that of an Orlando woman, and at least 139 injuries.
Investigators report that extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures appears to make the air bags more prone to problems. That’s why the NHTSA is targeting registered vehicle owners in hot, humid states including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii.
The problem is so pervasive that Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) this week called on the US Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.
“Reports that Takata concealed and destroyed test results revealing fatal air bag defects, along with other evidence that the company was aware of these deadly problems, clearly require a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice,” Markey and Blumenthal wrote. “If the reports are true, the company must be held accountable for the horrific deaths and injuries that its wrongdoing caused. These allegations are credible and shocking – plainly warranting a prompt and aggressive criminal probe.”
If a cover up is proven, older related personal injury cases that have passed statutes of limitations or statutes of repose may again be viable, even if the vehicle and air bag involved are long gone.
If your vehicle’s make, model and year are listed below, check the manufacturer’s website for a VIN search feature that will confirm whether your vehicle is included in the recall. If so, and if you’ve suffered no injuries as a result of the defective air bag, take your car to your local dealership for a free repair. However, if you or members of your family have sustained airbag-related injuries, get medical treatment immediately and keep the airbag intact, as it may be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Contact Harrell and Harrell, serving Northeast and Central Florida as well as South Georgia, at 800-251-1111.
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
- 2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
- 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
- 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
- 2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
- 2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
- 2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen
- 2004 – Ranger
- 2005 – 2006 GT
- 2005 – 2007 Mustang
- 2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 – Saab 9-2X
- 2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
- 2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
- 2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
- 2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
- 2003 – 2011 Honda Element
- 2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
- 2006 – Honda Ridgeline
- 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
- 2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
- 2005 – Acura RL
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
- 2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
- 2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
- 2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
- 2003 – Infiniti FX
- 2003 – 2007 Mazda6
- 2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
- 2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
- 2004 – 2005 MPV
- 2004 – B-Series Truck
- 2004 – 2005 Lancer
- 2006 – 2007 Raider
- 2003 – 2005 Baja
- 2003 – 2005 Legacy
- 2003 – 2005 Outback
- 2004 – 2005 Impreza
- 2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra
Halloween night is fraught with scary costumes and spooky decorations. But while the characters and sights are make believe, true terrors to exist throughout the Halloween weekend, and among them is an all-too-real spike in pedestrian accidents, attorneys warn.
Results of a joint study by State Farm Insurance and Bert Sperling of Sperling’s Best Places show that children have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year. Consider that the US Census Bureau estimates there are 41 million trick-or-treaters ages five to 14 on America’s neighborhood streets each year (not including potentially millions more who are 15 and older) and you’ve got a frighteningly high number of young victims whose lives are forever changed or even ended each year.
Among the findings of the study:
- An average of 5.5 child pedestrian fatalities occur across the nation each year on Halloween. That’s more than double the average 2.6 fatalities on other days of the year.
- Nearly a fourth of pedestrian accidents occurring on Halloween happen between 6 pm and 7 pm, known as the “Deadliest Hour” by emergency room workers and personal injury attorneys. Over 60 percent of these accidents take place in the four-hour period between 5 pm and 9 pm.
- While it may seem safest, the middle portion of a neighborhood block actually proved most dangerous in the study. Researchers found that over 70 percent of Halloween day pedestrian accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.
- Children ages 12 to 15 are most at risk, accounting for 32 percent of all child fatalities on Halloween. Children ages 5 to 8 followed, accounting for 23 percent of fatalities.
- Young drivers ages 15-25 posed the highest risk to trick-or-treating children, accounting for nearly a third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.
Halloween should be a fun and memorable experience for children. Keep your young trick-or-treaters safe by assuring that they choose costumes that are safe and highly visible to drivers. Avoid long, flowing costumes that can prove a trip hazard. Choose glow-in-the-dark costume props; have your children hold flashlights or glow sticks; or place reflective tape on your child’s costume, shoes, props or candy bags to help increase visibility. Before they leave your home, go over the rules with your children, including insisting that they walk, not run while trick-or-treating and that they stay together throughout the evening. Finally, assure that your children are accompanied by a trusted adult at all times.
If your child is injured while celebrating Halloween, get them to an emergency room immediately, then contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. Call 800-251-1111.
Studies show that some 70 percent of patients who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience memory loss and or reduced memory capacity a full year after sustaining the injury. In fact, few TBI survivors every realize 100 percent memory recovery. And scores of these victims are the military servicemen and servicewomen who put their lives on the line to defend and protect our country. But a new device being developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) may offer promise.
As part of a major federal initiative dubbed the Restoring Active Memories (RAM) Program, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded grants of up to $22.5 million to Penn and another $15 million to UCLA to help fund the development of a wireless, implantable device designed to help restore memory function in patients who have suffered TBI or other cognitive disorders. The devices will feature electronic interfaces that can sense memory deficits caused by injury and attempt to restore normal function and are being developed by teams of top-rated experts in neurosurgery, engineering, neurobiology, psychology and physics.
Development and testing of the new technology dubbed the “neuroprosthesis” in patients is expected to take about four years. But success can’t come soon enough, say patients, doctors and TBI attorneys. Statistics with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that TBI is a major cause of disability and death nationwide, contributing to upward of 30 percent of all injury-related deaths. It has been diagnosed in more than 270,000 military servicemembers since 2000 and affects an estimated 1.7 million US civilians each year. Besides memory loss, effects of TBI can include impaired cognitive, movement, sensory and emotional functioning.
We here at Harrell and Harrell applaud the university’s efforts and DARPA’s support. If you or someone you love suffers a TBI as a result of someone else’s negligent or deliberate action, one of our highly specialized TBI attorneys can help assure you get fair compensation. Call us at 904-251-1111.
If you’re a male who has undergone testosterone therapy to treat symptoms of Low-T levels, take note. Results of a recent study show a definitive link between testosterone therapy and heart attacks.
In the study, conducted jointly by the University of California, Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health and Consolidated Research, analyst reviewed data from Truven Health Analytics, which aggregate information on patient care. Data included health care records of 55,593 men who had been prescribed testosterone therapy. Of them, 48,539 were under the age of 65 and 7,054 were 65 or older.
Researchers found a two-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in men under age 65 with a history of heart disease shortly after undergoing testosterone therapy treatment. Researchers also found a two-fold boost in heart attack risk for patients over 65, regardless of a history of coronary health issues.
Symptoms of Low-T can include reduced muscle mass, decrease in bone strength and energy, increased body fat, depression, reduced sex drive and sexual dysfunction – all factors that can significantly affect a man’s health and confidence. So, it’s no surprise that marketing efforts for Low-T treatments have been so successful. Statistics show that the number of testosterone therapy prescriptions has tripled nationwide since 2001, despite the fact that clinical cases of Low-T remain relatively rare, affecting just five percent of men of all ages, and 20 percent of men age 70 and older. Many experts suspect that manufacturers of drugs used to treat low testosterone levels in patients may be using trumped up symptoms to push sales.
Meanwhile, patients may be needlessly risking their health.
“The extensive and rapidly increasing use of testosterone treatment and the evidence of risk of heart attack underscore the urgency of further large studies of the risks and the benefits of this treatment,” said the study’s senior author, Sander Greenland, also a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a professor of statistics in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Patients and their physicians should discuss the risk of heart attacks when considering testosterone therapy.”
If you have suffered a heart attack or other adverse health effect that you believe may have been caused by undergoing testosterone therapy treatment, contact Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
With the fall season under way and temperatures set to drop soon, women are pulling out the scarves. Silk is a top choice because it allows the skin to breath while holding in body heat, keeping you fashionably warm. But if you’ve purchased a silk scarf from Berkley, California-based Zazou Scarves recently, take note.
The company has issued a voluntary recall of nearly 3,800 silk scarves, warning consumer that they fail to meet the federal flammability standard for wearing apparel. That means they’re a fire hazard. And that’s particularly troubling with the holidays just around the corner, as candles are so frequently used in Halloween, Hanukkah and Christmas decorating. Fortunately, no related injuries have been reported, but company officials and product liability attorneys warn that the risk exists.
The recalled scarves are made of 100-percent silk, measure 72 inches long by 20 inches wide and come in 20 colors including black, burgundy, celery, chili red, coral, espresso, fuchsia, grey, indigo, iris blue, mist blue, olive, peacock, periwinkle, pink, purple, ruby, sea foam and white. They were sold on the Zazou Scarves website and at specialty boutiques nationwide for about $30 from August 2012 to August 2014. Look for the Zazou Luxe logo printed on a tag sewn into the side seam of the scarf.
If you own one of the recalled scarves and have not been injured, contact Zazou Scarves at 800-472-2783 or email the company at email@example.com. A representative will send you a prepaid postage label for returning the scarf. If you do suffer a burn injury while using one of the recalled scarves, keep the scarf intact, get medical attention immediately and contact a personal injury or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.