Articles Posted in Auto Crashworthiness

Recently, lawyer Larry Coben from the law firm of Anapol Weiss talked with Tracy Davidson from Philadelphia NBC 10 to discuss car seat safety. Mr. Coben has practiced law for over 30 years as a personal injury attorney. One of his most notable cases was won against General Motors in which he helped a client obtain a $26 million verdict against the manufacturer for the passenger’s seat back defective design, which had failed in a rear-end car accident. The defective seat caused the passenger to be thrown to the back seat and became a quadriplegic as a result.

The news clip highlights the potential dangers car seats can pose to all occupants in a motor vehicle during a crash. Many people may not be aware that car seat backs can fail, which entails the collapse of a front seat in a car, which can not only injure the person in the seat, but anyone in the backseat. Engineers believe the poor quality of car seat crash performance is due to the almost laughable car seat safety standards that have been in place since 1968. Manufacturers are required to produce car seats that can withstand a static test of 3,300 inch pounds of pressure. It is a rather flimsy test that essentially just pulls on the seat. The test does not adequately test what actually occurs in crashes.

In the video, engineers tested a beach chair as well as a chair made of cardboard using the same standards that are used to test car seats. Both chairs passed the test.

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is being taken into consideration by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a possible cause for the influx of acceleration-related vehicle issues plaguing Toyota Motor Corporation and its vehicles. The issue was recently highlighted in a usatoday.com article that discussed the problems associated with EMI and how auto manufacturers have known about these issues for quite some time. While faulty floor mats and gas pedal malfunction have been the more closely examined causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, EMI could end up being cited as a contributing factor in at least some crashes which, at this point, have not been assigned a definite cause.

The theory of EMI explains that electronic devices emit a certain amount of electronic radiation, and it may be possible for that radiation to interfere with electronic control systems that all modern day cars now rely on. In regard to the unintentional acceleration issue, it is being examined whether or not the electronic throttle systems in Toyota vehicles are experiencing interference which is causing them to malfunction. However, regardless of whether or not this issue or another is found to be the cause of motorist accidents involving Toyota vehicles, it is safe to say that negligent action of some kind may be greatly contributing towards the numerous auto vehicle recalls that seem to be taking place on a weekly basis.
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A 61-year-old man from Derry recently lost control of his vehicle in Westmoreland County. Reportedly, the man had just purchased a 1965 Pontiac GTO and was on his way home when the car suddenly failed to stop, came to rest on railroad tracks, and was then struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The operator of the train did attempt to apply the train’s brakes prior to striking the car, but was unable to stop in time. This incident marks the third fatality involving a train to have taken place in Derry since this past summer.

According to Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate, WTAE-TV channel 4, the man was able to bail out of the vehicle prior to the collision, and was found about 40 yards from the scene of the accident. It was determined that the 61-year-old died at the scene from blunt force head trauma. Police are investigating the accident and trying to determine what exactly went wrong with the vehicle. In accidents where vehicle malfunction plays some sort of contributing factor, it is important to attribute any instance of negligent action to the appropriate party so that they can be held liable for their actions. Although the vehicle involved certainly wasn’t brand new, the man involved in the accident had purchased the vehicle the very day that the accident took place. Whether or not the seller of the car knew that there was something wrong with the vehicle is yet to be determined.
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It was reported on the website sfexaminer.com that families of the 10 people killed when a semi truck smashed into stopped cars on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma have decided to file a joint lawsuit against several defendants. The defendants mentioned in the lawsuit are the driver of the truck, his employer, Associated Wholesale Grocers, ACE American Insurance located in Pennsylvania, G.D. Transport out of California, their insurer National Liability and Fire Insurance Co. located in Nebraska, Rajeev Sharma a resident of California, and Erin Alf who is from Texas.

At approximately 1:15 p.m., the 73-year-old truck driver slammed his big rig into the cars while cruising at 70 miles per hour. Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports that the driver made no attempt to avoid the devastating collision. The lawsuit contends that the driver was rushed by his employer Associated Wholesale Grocers to make a delivery and forced him to work beyond what is deemed safe and lawful. The two residents mentioned in the truck accident lawsuit were the drivers of another tractor trailer involved in the collision that had stopped traffic on the turnpike when unfortunately the worst case scenario occurred. G.D. Transport is their employer and they are accused of not training their drivers properly.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said the grieving families acted this way as “a means of obtaining efficiency and economy in the administration and handling of the case, and demonstrates the enormity and gravity of the loss, and harm caused.”
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The website post-gazette.com reported that another big rig accident on route 22 in West Wheatfield claimed the life of an 82 year old man from Apollo, in Armstrong County. The man suffered serious injuries according to the authorities. He was immediately taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, where he was later pronounced dead of multiple traumatic injuries according to the Cambria Country Deputy Coroner. State police said the 82 year old man crossed over to oncoming traffic and hit the semi truck. The man stood no chance of surviving the impact, and there was a third vehicle involved which ran over a tire that became loose from the truck accident in Pennsylvania. That driver suffered minor injuries.

Accidents involving trucks account for over 130,000 injuries in the United States. There are 5,000 deaths each year and close to 35% of the injuries are catastrophic. Trucks over 10,000 pounds (semis and tractor-trailer) represent only 3% of all registered vehicles but are responsible for over 25% of vehicle related deaths. The most common causes of truck accidents are unsafe driving, driver fatigue, oversized loads and mechanical negligence.
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Honda has recalled many models of its 2001 Civics and Accords for an airbag defect, which may cause serious injuries to vehicle occupants. According to this news report, a 26-year-old woman was nearly killed when metal fragments shot out of her Honda airbag during a car crash in April.

The metal shards from the airbag apparently cut two arteries in her neck and left her with a whole in her chest. What this woman, like many others in the country, found out was that the airbag that was supposed to protect her in the event of a car crash instead hurt and almost killed her.

Honda recalled these vehicles for a problem with a device that inflates the airbag on the driver’s side, which produces too much pressure. This in turn can cause the device to rupture, sending metal fragments through the airbag. These sharp metal pieces can injure or even kill a driver during an auto accident. Consumers expect that the vehicles they purchase are safe and won’t pose any direct harm caused by a defective auto part.
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