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Apr
02
2014
GM CEO Mary Barra testified on Capitol Hill that she doesn't know why her company waited a decade to publicly acknowledge a deadly ignition switch problem. Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for General Motors.

GM CEO Mary Barra testified on Capitol Hill that she doesn’t know why her company waited a decade to publicly acknowledge a deadly ignition switch problem. Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for General Motors.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was in the Capitol Hill hot seat today, testifying to Congress about a decade-long issue with GM vehicle ignition switches that to date is to blame for more than a dozen deaths. It’s the latest development in a controversy involving the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles and an ongoing risk to any one driving or riding in certain GM vehicles, auto accident and product liability attorneys say.

News of the issue first hit in February with the recall of 780,000 GM vehicles after reports of 22 crashes and six deaths. In each of those incidents, the ignition switch shifted out of place, causing the engine to stall and all electrical components, including the mechanism that deploys air bags, to immediately shut down. GM initially laid part of the blame on heavy key rings and bumpy roads. Weeks later, however, the death toll rose to 13. The company expanded the recall to include additional models, and admitted that it had known about the problem for more than a decade. What’s worse – GM officials now acknowledge that the ignition switch falls short of the company’s own specifications, and that fixing the problem before these vehicles rolled off the assembly line would have cost just 57 cents each.

As it currently stands, the recall affects more than 2.6 million GM vehicles and the issue has prompted two congressional investigations and probes by the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On Tuesday, Barra testified before Congress, maintaining that she does not know why it took GM, which she has helmed for just two months, to publicly acknowledge the problem, but assured that an internal investigation would provide answers in time.

Meanwhile, the company last week announced two additional, unrelated recalls. One affects 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs with transmission oil lines improperly secured in their fittings. The issue allows transmission oil to leak, potentially causing fires if the oil hits hot surfaces. The second affects 172,000 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruz cars with defective right front axle shafts that can fracture and separate during operation. Wheels then could lose power without warning, causing the car to coast to an unexpected stop.

If you own or drive a GM vehicle, check with your nearest dealer to find out if yours is affected by the recall. If there have been no injuries to you or your dependents related to any of the recall-involved issues, take your vehicle to your dealership where workers will repair issues free of charge and, in some cases, may provide you with a loaner car. However, if you or someone you love has suffered an injury that you believe was caused by one of these defects, get medical treatment, stop driving the vehicle and contact an experienced auto accident or product liability attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida and Southern Georgia, can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Mar
31
2014
The 2014 Nissan Altima is included in recall of more than 1 million vehicles prompted by an ongoing airbag issue.

The 2014 Nissan Altima is included in recall of more than 1 million vehicles prompted by an ongoing airbag issue.

A problem with airbag sensors in certain Nissan and Infinity models first addressed over a year ago still is not resolved – and it’s prompted a recall of more than 1 million vehicles across North America and Canada. In affected units, the front passenger air bags may fail to inflate in an accident, leaving adult passengers at risk for serious injury.

The problem lies in faulty software. Front passenger seats of the recalled vehicles have sensors designed to determine the passenger’s weight, then turn airbags off if the sensors indicate that a child is on board. That’s because children’s still-developing bones are far more fragile than those of adults, which means they’re more vulnerable to injury from a deployed airbag. Keep in mind that airbags are not soft, billowy pillow-like buffers. Rather, they deploy from a vehicle’s dashboard at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and the impact against a body or face can be severe enough to cause fatal injuries.

In at least three incidents reported to Nissan officials, the sensors malfunctioned, turning off front-seat passenger airbags despite those passengers being adults of sufficient weight to keep the airbags turned on. Though no deaths were reported and it’s unclear whether those passengers were injured, the risk is clear. Airbags are credited with saving the lives of thousands of adults involved in car crashes nationwide each year.

Vehicles affected in the latest recall – nearly 990,000 in the United States and another 60,000 in Canada – include:

  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Altima;
  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Leaf electric car;
  • 2013 and 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SUV
  • 2014 and 2014 Nissan Sentra;
  • 2013 NV200 Taxi Van
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35 SUV
  • 2014 Infiniti QX60 SUV
  • 2014 Infiniti Q50 SUV

If you drive one of these vehicles and had yours repaired after the February 2013 recall, you may need to get a second repair. Dealers replaced seat sensors in those vehicles, but Nissan officials said the company continued to receive customer complaints and warranty claims in vehicles that had been repaired. Nissan and Infiniti will notify registered owners of affected units and will update the software free of charge.

If you or your dependents are injured as a result of a failed airbag, whether in one of these recalled vehicles or a different one, get medical treatment and contact an experienced auto accident or product liability attorney. Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout North and Central Florida and Southeast Georgia, can help assure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

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Mar
04
2014
The 2007 Saturn Sky is among the cars affected in GM's expanded recall over a decade-long problem with faulty ignitions.

The 2007 Saturn Sky is among the cars affected in GM’s expanded recall over a decade-long problem with faulty ignitions.

Two weeks ago, we told you about a massive recall of 780,000 GM cars prompted by an ignition defect that already had been blamed for 22 car crashes and six deaths. Now, another nine accidents and seven deaths reportedly have resulted from the problem, forcing an expansion of the recall to include more than 1,367,140 cars in North America. Even more troubling, auto accident and product liability attorneys say, is the automaker’s admission that it has known about the problem for more than a decade.

Faulty ignition switches installed in various GM models made between 2003 and 2007 can cause a car’s engine to shut off unexpectedly and disable the airbags. Heavy key rings and driving on rough roads or terrain can trigger the problem by moving the ignition switch out of position, causing all electrical components, including the mechanism responsible for deploying air bags, to immediately shut down.

The recall originally affected Cobalt and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 to 2007 model years sold in the US, Canada and Mexico. Now, company officials also are recalling Saturn Ions made between 2003 and 2007; and Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky cars made in the 2006 and 2007 model years.

“The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, said in a written statement addressing the company’s waiting over a decade to publicly acknowledge the problem. “Today’s GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward.”

GM says it will notify registered owners of recalled vehicles by mail and expedite repairs. If you belie that your vehicle is affected by the recall and you have not been involved in an accident cause by the faulty ignition, take your car to a licensed GM dealership where the company will replace the ignition switch free of charge. However, if you have suffered an injury while driving or riding in one of the recalled cars, get medical attention immediately. Then, call 800-251-1111 and speak to an auto accident or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.

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Feb
14
2014
The 2007 Pontiac G5 is among the 780,000 cars recalled by GM over an ignition defect blamed for six deaths.

The 2007 Pontiac G5 is among the 780,000 cars recalled by GM over an ignition defect blamed for six deaths.

General Motors this week announced the recall of nearly 780,000 vehicles due to an ignition defect blamed for six deaths. Auto accident and product liability attorneys are urging drivers of Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s to take heed.

Company officials warn that faulty ignition switches installed in Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 to 2007 model years a sold in the US, Canada and Mexico can cause the engine to shut off unexpectedly and disable the airbags. The problem thus far has caused 22 crashes, all while the cars were traveling off-road at high speeds. Six people (all drivers or front-seat passengers) have been killed as a result, and the potential for more deaths exists so long as affected vehicles continue to travel the roadways.

If you drive one of the cars, know that US safety regulators warn that heavy key rings and rough roads or terrain can trigger the problem by moving the ignition switch out of the run position. As a result, the engine and all electrical components, including the mechanism responsible for deploying air bags, immediately shut down.

In a media statement, GM noted that each of the five fatal crashes “occurred off road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment. In addition, failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were factors in some of these cases.”

If you own one of the recalled vehicles and have not been injured, take your car to a licensed GM dealership where the company will replace the ignition switch free of charge. However, if you have suffered an injury, either as a driver or passenger, in an incident that you believe the defect caused, get medical attention immediately. Then, contact an auto accident or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. Call 800-251-1111.

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Feb
11
2014
Ikea's popular Kritter and Sniglar junior beds have been recalled over a laceration hazard.

Ikea’s popular Kritter and Sniglar junior beds have been recalled over a laceration hazard.

Ikea again is issuing a voluntary recall of two popular junior beds after receiving an additional report of a child in the United Kingdom receiving a small scratch to the arm. The company’s Kritter and Sniglar Junior Beds feature a metal rod connecting the guard rail to the bed frame. Unfortunately, that rod can break during use, posing a laceration hazard to children.

The recall of 22,000 units initially was issued in August 2013 and was expanded to include another 3,500 upon news of the latest injury. The pine wood Kritter beds feature animal cut-outs, including a dog and cat, on the headboard. Look for a date stamp of 1114 to 1322 indicating the year and week of production; a 600.904.70 model number; and 19740 supplier number on the underside of the bed.

The Sniglar natural beech wood beds have a white painted fiberboard insert on the headboard and footboard. A label on the headboard or underside of the bed has a date stamp of 1114 to 1318, a 500.871.66 model number, and 18157 or 19740 supplier number. This recall expands the date code for Sniglar beds to 1049 to 1318.

Affected units were sold exclusively at Ikea stores nationwide and online at www.ikea-usa.com from July 2005 through May 2013 for between $60 and $90. If your child is using one of these beds and has not been injured, contact Ikea at 888-966-4532 and ask for a free repair kit which includes a replacement metal rod, tools and instruction sheet.

However, if your child has been injured, seek medical attention – even if the injury is minor. Keep the bed and all parts intact and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. We serve clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida, as well as Southeast Georgia.

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Jan
30
2014
A popular coffee press sold exclusively at Starbucks has been recalled after causing cuts and burns.

A popular coffee press sold exclusively at Starbucks has been recalled after causing cuts and burns.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who just can’t seem to get their day started without a coffee jolt, we may have bad news for you. Bodum USA, the Swiss-based global housewares brand with distribution in more than 55 countries, this week issued a recall of its popular rose gold Chombord glass coffee press sold exclusively at Starbucks. Officials say the glass carafe can fall out of the metal frame and plastic base of the coffee press and break or shatter, posing laceration and burn hazards.

Though the four confirmed injuries are minor cuts and burns, there is a risk of more serious harm. At press time, Bodum had received reports of 14 broken carafes. About 28,000 units are affected by the recall.

The locking-lid, 8-cup coffee press’s glass carafe, screen and plunger are held in place by a rose gold-colored metal frame with a black molded plastic base. Users fill the carafe with ground coffee and hot water, then push the plunger and screen down through the water to brew coffee. The coffee presses measure 10 inches high and about four inches in diameter. Look for the Bodum name printed on the glass carafe; on a white label affixed to the bottom of the base with the SKU number 11029732; and embossed on the bottom of the black plastic base, along with words “Made in Portugal.” Recalled coffee presses were sold for about $40 at Starbucks locations nationwide and on Starbucks’ website through November and December 2013.

If you own one of the recalled coffee presses and have suffered no injuries, you can return it to the Starbucks store where you purchased it or contact Bodum for a full refund. However, if you or one of your dependents has suffered a laceration, burn or other injury as a result of the defect, keep all parts intact, get medical attention immediately and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an attorney serving the Northeast Florida, Central Florida and Southeast Georgia regions.

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Jan
14
2014
Head injuries sustained in falls from high chairs jumped 90 percent from 2003 to 2010.

Head injuries sustained in falls from high chairs jumped 90 percent from 2003 to 2010.

A new study shows upwards of 9,400 children are injured falling off high chairs every year in the United States. And even high chair models with the highest of safety records can pose risks if not used properly, say personal injury attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.

Researchers with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio looked at children three years old and younger who were treated for high chair-related injuries in US emergency rooms from 2003 to 2010. Results showed that the annual rate of such injuries increased by 22 percent over the study period. Not surprisingly, head injuries were the most common type suffered, followed by bruises and cuts.

But the most alarming finding is that while the rate of total injuries across the board jumped just 22 percent, the rate of head injuries increased nearly 90 percent. The leading cause of falls from high chairs: children climbing or standing on the chair. Such a case suggests that the high chair’s safety restraint system was either not being used, was being used improperly or was faulty. In situations that involved high chair restraints known or suspected to be faulty, manufacturers often issued recalls. But a recall is only effective if product owners respond.

“We know that over the recent years, millions of chairs have been recalled in the US because of not meeting safety standards, said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy and one of the study researchers.”But usually, a very low percentage of recalled products are actually returned.”

In fact, a 2009 study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed just 30 percent of Americans returned recalled products. Other studies place that statistic as low as 12 percent.

However, another possible reason for the increase in reported cases is that parents are taking head injuries more seriously than in the past, perhaps due to increased awareness via media coverage.

In any case, physicians and personal injury attorneys urge parents and guardians to closely review usage instructions before placing your child in a high chair, and to follow those instructions every time the chair is in use. Also, check the manufacturer’s website periodically to a make sure your high chair hasn’t been recalled.

If your child suffers a high chair-related injury, take him or her to an emergency room or physician’s office immediately, even if you believe the injury to be a minor one. Soft tissue injuries from falls often won’t be immediately recognizable. Then, contact an experienced personal injury attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Jan
09
2014
Joovy has recalled 1,500 Zoom Car Seat Adapters that pose a fall hazard to babies and toddlers.

Joovy has recalled 1,500 Zoom Car Seat Adapters that pose a fall hazard to babies and toddlers.

It was designed to make things easier for moms and dads on the go, but one recently recalled product could pose a danger to infants and toddlers. Dallas, TX-based Joovy, which makes and distributes infant and youth products, has recalled its popular Zoom Car Seat Adapter, citing a fall hazard.

The Zoom adapter uses a child car seat’s existing latching mechanism to attach infant car seats to stroller frames. Unfortunately, it’s been determined that the adapter clips can loosen from the stroller frame, posing a fall hazard. At the time of this writing, Joovy had received nine reports of incidents involving loose adapters on stroller frames. Though no injuries have been reported, significant risk to your child remains if you continue using the adapter, personal injury and product liability attorneys say.

The recall affects about 1,500 adapters sold at independent specialty juvenile retailers nationwide and on Joovy.com between May 2012 and August 2013 for about $25. The adapters are gray with black plastic clips. Affected models include 00945 for Graco, 00946 for Chicco and 00947 for Peg Perego frames. Look for the Joovy name and the model numbers on the label at the center of the end bar of the adapter.

If you own a recalled Joovy Zoom Car Seat Stroller Adapter and there has been no injury to your child, call the company toll-free at (855) 251-0759 for a free repair kit that will help assure proper attachment to Zoom stroller frames. If your child has fallen while using one of the adapters, get medical attention immediately – even if there is no immediately apparent injury. Keep the adapter intact and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Dec
11
2013
Angelcare movement and sound monitors with sensor pads have been recalled due to a strangulation risk.

Angelcare movement and sound monitors with sensor pads have been recalled due to a strangulation risk.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Quebec-based Angelcare Monitors, Inc. have issued a recall of the company’s Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitors with Sensor Pads after two infant deaths, say product liability attorneys in Jacksonville.

Officials say that the cord attached to the baby monitor’s sensor pad poses a strangulation risk. When in use, the sensor pad, connected to the monitor via an 11-foot electrical cord, is placed under the crib mattress. But if a child pulls the cord into the crib, it can end up wrapped around the child’s neck. Already, two children have died – a 13-month-old girl in San Diego in 2011 and an 8-month-old girl in Salem, Oregon in 2004. Two other infants became entangled in the cords, but fortunately were discovered in time.

The recall involves all versions of Angelcare sensor monitors including model numbers: AC1100, AC201, AC300, AC401 AC601 and 49255. The model number is located on the back of the nursery monitor unit. The monitors were manufactured between 1999 and 2013 and sold at Babies R Us/Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Meijer, Sears, Walmart and nearly 70 small baby specialty stores, as well as online at Amazon.com, Target.com, Overstock.com,, from October 1999 through September 2013 for about $100 to $300. Note that industry-wide, eight infant deaths involving strangulation with baby monitor cords have been reported since 2002.

If you own an Angelcare monitor, stop using it immediately and call the company toll-free at (855)355-2643 or visit www.angelcarebaby.com to order a free repair kit. If your child has been injured by use of a baby monitor of any brand, contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Oct
29
2013
Toyota is recalling 87,000 Avalon, Camry and Venza vehicles because of spider webs.

Toyota is recalling 87,000 Avalon, Camry and Venza vehicles, citing a problem  likely caused by spider webs.

It’s been a bad month for automotive airbags. Earlier in October, Hondo Motor Co. announced the voluntary recall of 374,000 vehicles, citing an electrical issue that can cause airbag systems to malfunction and deploy prematurely. Now, Toyota has issued a massive recall of 870,000 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza and Avalon cars – and they’re blaming it on, of all things, spiders.

Just in time for Halloween, Toyota announced the recall “due to a problem with the air conditioning condenser unit housing.” A media release explained that water from the water from the air conditioning condenser unit housing could leak onto the airbag control module and cause a short circuit. In most cases, the result is the airbag warning light illuminating. But in several others, airbags have deployed unexpectedly. The company added that in limited instances, communication lines in the airbag control modules can be damaged, rendering the power steering assist function inoperable.

What Toyota officials skipped in that media release, but confirmed in conversations with reporters, is that in every instance of these water leaks, there were spider webs found inside the AC condenser units. While they still won’t say for sure that the webs caused those leaks, it stands to reason considering that webs are amazingly water resistant. With webs blocking the condenser units’ drainage systems, the water instead drips into the airbag modules.

If your car is affected by the recall and you’ve suffered no injuries as a result of the airbag issue, take it to your nearest Toyota dealer for a free-of-charge repair. If you or your dependents have been injured however, get medical attention and contact an experienced product liability attorney.

Speaking of cars and Halloween, remember that kids will be out in full force trick-or-treating this Thursday. Statistics show that children are four times more likely to be injured in pedestrian-involved car accidents on Halloween night than on any other night of the year, auto accident attorneys warn. Protect your kids by walking with them while trick-or-treating and keeping an eye on neighborhood traffic. Have your children hold flashlights or glow sticks, and place reflective tape on their costumes, props, shoes and candy bags to make them more visible to oncoming drivers.

From all of us here at Harrell and Harrell, have a safe and happy Halloween.

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