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.
Tattoos are a favorite form of self-expression, with some 45 million Americans sporting ink, including 30 percent of college graduates. But before you decide to get tatted up, as they say, it’s important to know the risks, personal injury attorneys say.
Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that some tattoo ink may be unsafe. Earlier this year, California’s White and Blue Lion, Inc. issued a massive recall of its tattoo inks, needles and kits after testing confirmed pathogenic bacterial contamination in unopened bottles of ink. Company and FDA officials warn that use of recalled tattoo kits may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Sepsis carries bacteria through the blood stream and is marked by a range of symptoms including fever, shaking, chills and sweats. It’s particularly dangerous for anyone with a pre-existing heart or circulatory condition. At least one case of sepsis has been linked to the recalled products.
The risk isn’t limited to DIY tattoo artists. Because regulation of professional tattoo artists and parlors varies from state to state, some states can be less vigilant about protecting consumers than others. As a result, tattoo clients can be at risk for developing hepatitis, HIV, staph infections and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections, due to dirty needles and unsanitary environments. It wasn’t until 2012 that Florida implemented legislation requiring licensure of tattoo artists and establishing standards of hygiene, training and supervision similar to those required at body-piercing studios and nail salons.
Those temporary tattoos popular with teens, kids and even adults not quite ready to undergo permanent ink, also pose risks. That’s because they often contain ink marketed as “black henna” and typically made with black hair dye containing para-phenylenediamine. Because of the name, consumers often assume that black henna is simply a variation of the natural red henna. Truth is, there’s no such thing as natural black henna and chemicals used in making it can cause painful and potentially dangerous skin infections. Symptoms can include blistering, open sores, loss of pigmentation, permanent scarring and lifelong health issues including persistent sensitivity to sunlight and certain chemicals, as well as allergic reactions. Because of the risks, the FDA has approved henna for use in hair dye only, not in products intended for direct application to the skin.
Before getting a tattoo, be sure to confirm licensure of the artist and check out any complaints that may have been filed with the Florida Department of Health concerning the parlor you’re considering. If you have suffered skin irritations or other health issues that you believe may be associated with your tattoo, get medical attention, then contact a personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help you secure fair compensation for your related injuries and costs. Reach us at 800-251-1111.
Military veterans who sustained traumatic brain injury while serving our country may be at a heightened risk for developing dementia, new research suggests.
Researchers found that veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia years earlier than those who had not suffered an injury – at 78.5 years of age on average, compared to 81 years old, respectively.
The massive research project began a decade ago and evaluated some 190,000 veterans with an average age of 68 and who had not been diagnosed with dementia. Of these participants, 1,229 previously had been diagnosed with a brain injury. Nine years later, researchers revisited those veterans and found that 16 percent of participants with a brain injury had since developed dementia, compared to just 10 percent of study subjects who did not have a brain injury.
“Our results suggest that [brain injury] may increase the risk of developing dementia in older veterans, with an age of onset about two years earlier,” study author Deborah Barnes, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, told reporters. “So clinicians may want to keep an eye out for signs of cognitive impairment in older veterans with a history of [brain injury].”
It’s believed that each time the brain takes a substantial hit, its ability to bounce back after being damaged is reduced. Plus, brain injuries may lead to a buildup of amyloid or tau, proteins known to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Researchers also noted that the risk for developing dementia is higher in TBI veterans who also experienced depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or cerebrovascular disease. What’s more, these veterans’ caretakers also are at a heightened risk for depression and related issues, including suicide. That domino effect means potential harm to an even greater population, making the TBI among veterans an increasingly serious health issue.
While it’s important to note that the study results do not prove a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between TBI and dementia among veterans, it undoubtedly reveals an association worth further attention from physicians, caretakers and other researchers. If you’re suffering health consequences of a TBI sustained during your military service and have been denied your veterans disability benefits, Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell can help. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an attorney specializing in veterans disability benefits today.
The number of FDA drug recalls has risen each year, multiplying seven times over from 166 in 2004 to 1,225 last year. With nearly 840 already announced this year, 2014 is on track for an all-time record number of medications removed from the market. In fact, FDA data shows that the last 24 months have seen almost as many recalls (2,061) as the previous nine years combined (2,217). While the sheer numbers are troubling enough, what’s more concerning is that the nation’s health officials are unsure what’s pushing the continual surge.
Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers often have to recall drugs, devices and food products for an array of reasons, which can range from simple and relatively innocuous labeling mistakes to serious, potentially life-threatening issues. Common recall prompts include including improper labeling, packaging defects, contamination, improper testing or a product’s inherent safety and the potential that its use could cause harm to a patient or user.
Drug recalls are issued in three separate classes:
- Class 1: A product undoubtedly will cause serious ill effect, including possible death, in a user.
- Class II: A product has been known to cause an adverse, but reversible health effect.
- Class III: A product is unlikely to cause adverse health consequences, but is being recalled simply for safety’s sake.
Class II recalls make up about 70 percent of the total drug recalls, followed by Class 1 at 21 percent and Class III at 9 percent.
Experts believe that one factor in the latest surge may be the fungal meningitis outbreak of 2012, which killed more than 60 people. In response, the FDA quickly initiated a crackdown on compounding pharmacies, noting that a large percentage of Class II recalls were related to issue with these pharmacies, including their provision of products that had possible, but unconfirmed microbial contamination.
Another factor may be continual efforts to improve current good manufacturing practices (cGMP). A single manufacturing plant found to be deficient in any one cGMP can lead to dozens, or even hundreds of recalls of its multiple products.
Whatever the reason, a rise in the number of FDA drug recalls is certainly a matter of concern. If you or your loved one has suffered adverse health consequences after using a recalled drug or device, you may be due fair compensation. Talk with a doctor immediately to assure your health issue is treated, then call 800-251-1111 and speak with a product liability or dangerous drugs and medical products attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.