Toyota Recalls Nearly 900,000 Vehicles, Again

In continuing coverage, the AP reports that Toyota has issued a recall of 880,584 RAV4 and Lexus HS 250h vehicles because a fix announced last year may not have solved a problem involving loose suspension nuts that can rust and separate from the vehicle. The AP notes that nine crashes and three injuries have been reported to the NHTSA due to the problem and at least 131 owners have complained to NHTSA and Toyota. Toyota had recalled the vehicles last August for the same issue “but spokeswoman Cindy Knight said the repair procedure in the previous recall was incorrect.”

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Workplace Violence: Who Is Liable?

This article is from Emma Sturgis, a freelance writer living in Boston. She writes on a variety of topics, including politics and law. When not at her computer, she enjoys film noir and rock climbing.

Workplace Violence Who Is Liable

Each year, about two million American workers are victims of violence in the workplace. Workers have a right to safety at work, and employers must provide safe conditions in which all controllable dangers are noted and protected against. Even with safeguards, however, workplace violence still occurs. It ranges from intimidation and abuse to physical harm and homicide. The causes of workplace violence are usually grouped into four categories: disgruntled employees, unknown assailants, displaced domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Who is liable for damages caused by workplace violence varies by cause:

Disgruntled Employees

A disgruntled employee generally sees themselves as wrongly treated by the employer. Usually, after some disturbing actions, such as loud complaints and other inappropriate behaviors at the workplace, the disgruntled employee commits a violent act, usually against a fellow employee. No one can guarantee that a particular employee will behave reasonably, but employers can be held responsible if there is no pre-employment screening to help weed out potential troublemakers. Performance evaluations and employee assistance programs should be in place to keep an eye on potentially volatile employees.

Unknown Assailants

Some workplaces, like bars and restaurants that stay open late into the night with few employees on duty are easy targets for troublemakers. These places may be difficult or expensive to protect, but an injury attorney in Edmonton, representing McCourt Law Offices, reports that employers can be held civilly liable if an employee is robbed or assaulted while on duty and unprotected.

Displaced Domestic Violence

Domestic violence at home often becomes domestic violence in the workplace. It is not uncommon for people who suffer abuse at home to report threatening calls from their abuser at work. Sometimes these threats escalate to confrontation at the workplace, which endangers not only the victim but their coworkers as well. To reduce these threats, employers should take measures to aid the abused worker by approving any reasonable request for transfer to another work site or allowing time off for court cases or doctor visits.

Sexual Harassment

Almost anyone in the workplace can be involved in sexual harassment, including employers. Violence that stems from sexual harassment may be charged against the employer as violating state or federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1994.

Anyone who has been injured from violence in the workplace should consult an injury lawyer to become informed as to their personal rights and receive possible compensation for physical injury and pain and suffering. No one should suffer violence in the workplace. If you have been a victim of any violence on the job, seek legal advice now.

Oscar Pistorius: Five Things to Know About the Intense Court Battle

The South African murder trial of Oscar Pstorius has nothing to do with injury or disability, but I’m sure many other people are as fascinated by the trial as I am.

This article is from Kara Masterson, a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing about business and law, and spending time with her dog Max.

Oscar Pistorius

The murder trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius is being heralded as a case of the century, and puts South Africa’s legal system in the international spotlight for one of the first times since apartheid.

1           It is a Bench Trial

Apartheid took its toll on South Africa’s legal system. The country abolished jury trials out of fear that white jurors would automatically convict any black defendants regardless of justice. As a result, all of the country’s trials are bench trials, presided over by a single judge who makes the full decision. This is in stark contrast to most other common law systems of the West that rely on juries for basically all criminal matters.

2           Pistorius is Claiming Mistaken Self Defense

Pistorius’s defense is centered on the notion that he mistook his girlfriend, Reva Steenkamp, for a burglar when she was behind his bathroom door. In order to defend himself from this supposed threat, he then shot multiple times through the door, fatally wounding Steenkamp. He didn’t realize he had killed his girlfriend until he returned to the bed and found her missing, and then he broke down the bathroom door to find her body.

3           Witnesses Do Not Seem to Support Pistorius

Witness testimony does not seem to support Pistorius’s account. They recount hearing screams and several shots, including a man’s voice calling for help. This raises many questions about what actually happened, since there are no true eyewitnesses. Why would Pistorius call for help if he was already armed and prepared to kill the intruder?

4           Pistorius May Still Be Convicted of Manslaughter

Even if Pistorius is not found guilty of homicide, which carriers a life sentence, he may still be convicted of lesser manslaughter charges. Many legal experts assume that the judge will consider shooting an unknown individual behind a closed door without taking any measure to identify that individual to be reckless and negligent.

5           Pistorius Seems Sincere

Although the evidence and witness testimony does not strongly support Pistorius, he seems sincerely apologetic about his actions. One witness who arrived shortly after the incident claimed to have found Pistorius holding Steenkamp’s body and praying, begging God to save her. Considering other testimony that claims Pistorius had a short temper, had cheated on a past relationship and was generally considered prone to rage-filled outbursts, it is not for sure that the judge will see his remorse as true. The fact remains, however, that in order to be convicted of murder, Pistorius would have had to intend to kill his girlfriend and the act would need to have been premeditated.

The trial is still ongoing and is expected to last several weeks at minimum. Pistorius may have the option to appeal the verdict if it is not in his favor.

Information credited to Houston Criminal Lawyers, Houston Trial Attorney

How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney Who Will Go Above and Beyond

This article was written by Kandace Heller, a freelance writer from Orlando, Florida.

How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney Who Will Go Above and Beyond

Whenever you are involved in a legal incident regarding a personal injury, getting assistance from a professional attorney is highly recommended, regardless of the side of the case you are on. Working with a personal injury attorney is a way for you to get the best legal representation when you have a case that goes to trial. Knowing how to find a personal injury lawyer who will go above and beyond for you and your case is a way for you to ensure you get the most out of their skills and expertise, regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or defendant.

Gather and Organize Your Evidenc

Before you begin your search for a personal injury attorney to take on your case, it’s important to gather and organize as much evidence you have that pertains to your case as possible. Gather police reports, hospital and doctor visit records, eyewitness reports, video media, photographs and any other documentation that may help to prove the case in your favor. The more evidence you are able to gather, the easier it is to find an attorney who can devise a plan for you before going to court.

Compare Local Personal Injury Attorneys

It is possible to compare local personal injury attorneys with various business directories and listings, depending on where you currently live. Comparing local attorneys is a way to save time but may also limit your options. You can call the attorneys and get a general idea of what they offer, but this will take a lot of time.

Review Personal Injury Attorneys Online

Finding a personal injury attorney who will truly go above and beyond for you and your case is possible right from home or using your mobile phone online. Browsing personal injury attorneys online is a way to find the most reputable and credible lawyer near you that also has experience with similar cases to yours. Some attorneys, like Eric Harron at, post the results from previous cases so you can get an idea of what they are capable of. You can also find contact information and further reviews by comparing attorneys online.

Read Reviews and Client Testimonials Before Making a Decision

Read reviews and client testimonials before selecting the personal injury attorney you want to hire to work for you. It is possible to find real client testimonials online before selecting a professional to represent you in a courtroom.

Knowing how to find a personal injury attorney who will go above and beyond for you when you are involved in a legal matter is a way for you to feel more secure and prepared for any outcome. Additionally, when you hire a personal injury lawyer, you are often given various options when it comes to routes available to take for your case. Making a mistake and choosing the wrong representation could cost you thousands of dollars and leave you with unpaid medical bills. Be sure to do your research and find an attorney you can trust will do all they can to win your case.

Friday Fun

I’m a bit of a stickler about punctuation, so examples of poor punctuation, even when wildly funny, still grate on me. Enjoy these
16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation.

Graco Recalls Car Seats Over Faulty Buckle

Parents of young children have so many safety issues to worry about already, and now here’s one more — your child’s car seat may be unreasonably difficult to unbuckle in an emergency.

Seat-maker Graco Children’s Products is recalling almost 3.8 million car seats because faulty buckles can make it hard to free the child in an emergency.

Details were provided in an article in the New York Times. Parents should read the entire article. Here are excerpts:

Federal safety regulators said the recall, the largest in five years, did not go far enough, and have asked for an additional 1.8 million seats to be included because they use the same buckles.

In an unusual move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Graco in a letter that unless those additional seats were fixed it would take legal action to force a recall.

The seats in the recall are the 2009 to 2013 model years of the Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite and Argos 70.

Graco told regulators that the problems with the buckles stemmed from contamination with “foreign material such as food or dried liquids.” But investigators dismissed that explanation, saying that buckles getting dirty with food and drink was “completely foreseeable,” and not an excuse.

In a statement Tuesday, Graco maintained that the problem with the buckles “does not in any way affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain the child. And a car seat is always the safest way to transport your child.”

Here is additional information from the American Association for Justice news release:

NHTSA probing Graco child seat buckle recall.

USA Today reports that NHTSA has issued a special order to child seat manufacturer Graco inquiring as to why the company “decided to exclude seven infant seat models from its recall of 3.8 million child seats last month.” Graco had suggested that accumulated food and dried liquids in a car seat can make the harness buckles “progressively more difficult to open,” thereby “making it difficult to remove the child from the seat.” The order is described as asking Graco for “a trove of other related information.”

The Elkhart (IN) Truth notes that last month’s recall came at the behest of NHTSA indications that the seats “could pose a safety hazard because the buckles can be difficult to open.” NHTSA allegedly “dismissed” Graco’s attribution of the problem to food and dried liquids, responding that it is “‘completely foreseeable’ that such items will contaminate a child car seat.” NHTS documents show that Graco had received over 6,000 consumer complaints, while two lawsuits are currently pending against the company over the issue. The “Signature,” “QT,” and “QT3” models from years 2009-2013 are included in the recall.

Mesothelioma Cases are Winnable as Long as Clients do Their Homework to Find Quality Representation

This article was written by our newest contributor Jenna Brown. Jenna is a freelance writer who has been blogging on random topics from law to business since her days in college, feel free to e-mail her if you would ever like to have her write for you!”

One of the more prevalent areas of personal injury litigation in the past decade has come from mesothelioma cases. Although this form of cancer is relatively rare, it has a low survival rate, even when detected and treated in early stages. Because of the many ways mesothelioma can devastate victims and their families, it is critical to consult an attorney with expertise in this disease to prevent long-term financial ruin.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of mesothelioma is aware that its highest risk group is made up of people with extensive exposure to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, about three-fourths of mesothelioma cases form in the chest. This comes from working jobs, typically in mining or manufacturing, where exposure to asbestos is pretty common. The small fibers that make up asbestos are easily breathed in and can damage the DNA of mesothelial cells in the lung. After the DNA of these cells is damaged, they can produce more damaged cells that in turn reproduce rapidly, thus resulting in cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted a series of bans from 1973 to 1990 that eliminated the use of asbestos for all but a few applications. Nevertheless, many who were exposed to the material are still alive today and very much at risk. It can take decades for mesothelioma to appear after exposure and once detected, it is often difficult to treat. Even the least advanced forms (stage I) have a median 5-year survival rate of 21 percent.

The Baron & Budd attorneys ( successfully litigated one of the first asbestos lawsuits in the 1970s. The chances of recovering damages are pretty good in mesothelioma cases, but victimized parties need to act quickly to file their cases to avoid the statute of limitations. Some states like Maine and North Dakota will allow up to six years from diagnosis to file a case, while others like Louisiana and Tennessee only allow one.

Asbestos/mesothelioma law is not a practice where ‘any old lawyer’ will do. These cases are not a part of class actions, because each one has a unique set of circumstances that must be litigated individually. Since mesothelioma can take so long to appear, it is not always an easy case to make that exposure from a particular site caused the victim to end up with the disease. Any suit involving medical issues will also require expert testimony to demonstrate credibility.

Unlike other areas of law where clients pay fees up front, attorneys take mesothelioma cases on a contingency basis. In such cases, no one gets paid unless the plaintiff wins, so attorneys will only take the case if they think they have a good chance of winning.

Conversely, mesothelioma clients must not choose a law firm unless they also think its attorneys have a good chance of winning. This means performing a lot of due diligence to obtain the best representation possible. Checking the prospective attorneys’ education, standing with the bar and track record are a great start. Speaking with past clients to learn more about success stories and how they were treated is also important.

The unfortunate nature of mesothelioma cases bears much similarity to lawsuits filed against the tobacco industry. It wasn’t until after years of exposure that many people discovered the serious health problems. The victims who did not die often lived a poor quality of life. With asbestos exposure cases, getting a fair settlement or judgment is certainly doable. Clients cannot take things for granted however, and must do the legwork and research beforehand to improve their chances of winning in court.

How to Protect Yourself from the Financial Burdens that Come from Injury

This article is from Annette Hazard. She is a freelance writer who usually writes about business, home, and financial issues. She is a mother of one and currently resides in Illinois.

Injuries are among the top three reasons for hospitalization. According to a Harvard study, medical insurance offers very little protection against catastrophic injury or accidents. However, there are options to help hedge against loss during unstable times.

Purchase Supplemental Insurance Benefits

Supplemental disability and accident insurance pay cash benefits due to injury. Major medical insurance pays hospital bills. However, there are out of pocket costs that are rarely considered. These include deductibles and out of pocket maximums that can easily exceed $20,000. Other out of pocket costs include transportation and lodging if travel is necessary to see a specialist. Loss of income must also be considered as many have little more than a week’s worth of vacation or sick pay and very little savings.

However, these costs must be paid in addition to daily living expense. Many supplemental benefits pay cash amounts based on treatment and services received. Some benefits have no lifetime maximums on specified services which means they continue to pay as long as the individual is being treated.

Implement a Savings Plan

Saving money is challenging for many people. However, it does provide a small solution in the event of an emergency. A heath savings account (HSA) allows money to be set aside and used on a pre-taxed basis for medical expenses. However, this has its advantages and disadvantages. Unused funds can be rolled over from year to year, and they also accrue interest. However, there is a limit to annual contributions; and no one can predict accidents. Therefore, funds may or may not be sufficient when an injury occurs.

Hire an Attorney

This is one of the most guaranteed means of protection after an injury. Most people are unaware of their rights and protections under the law. Legal language is very confusing to the layman, and conformity seems to be the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this can lead to stress, bankruptcy, bad credit, garnished wages and a mountain of financial challenges. Legal experts provide support, guidance and the right of protection under the law.

Practically all attorneys provide free initial consultations to determine the legitimacy of a given claim, and many opt to get paid only when the claim is settled. However, they provide expert knowledge, work with creditors and ensure consumer rights are maintained at the highest level. Experts like Michael G. Myers Attorney at Law provide a list of disability services that include social security, survivor benefits, appeals and more.

Your Workers’ Compensation Case: What Exactly Can You Expect?

This article is from Karleia Steiner, who works as a freelance blogger and consultant. You can follow her on Google+.

Your Workers Compensation Case What Exactly Can You Expect

An individual who is facing a day in court for a workers’ compensation trial needs to prepare themselves mentally for the experience that they are about to endure. Any trials, especially workers’ compensation trials, are never easy or pleasant affairs. During the trial, there are going to be two groups of individuals basically arguing with each other trying to prove that their side of the case is the most valid side. Court trials are not about trying to find a compromise, but instead, they are about trying to win and make the opposing side lose.

Your Credibility Is in Question

An individual involved in a workers’ compensation trial will have to realize that a good portion of the trial is determining whether or not what they said about their injuries is true. This means that the insurance company, which backs the business that the worker worked for, is going to come into the situation looking to put the injured individual in the worst light possible. For this reason this individual must be prepared to have their credibility attacked.

In an attempt to discredit the injured individual, insurance companies are going to use everything at their disposal, including surveillance films, photographs, and witness testimony to show the court that the worker is either not as injured as they claim or the worker received these injuries outside of work.

A Good Lawyer Will Make All the Difference

Going into trial, the injured worker has to have a few things clear in their mind. First, they must realize that just because they have a strong case does not automatically mean that they are going to win. One of the determining factors in whether or not an injured worker wins their case is the lawyer they have working for them. Having an experienced attorney back you up while you are in court is going to make your day in court a lot less stressful, and it is also going to increase the chances that the end results are positive. The lawyers at the Law offices of James E. Latimer understand the entire workers’ compensation litigation process. And for this reason, many have turned to them to help them through the challenges that come with workers’ compensation litigation.

A good workers’ compensation attorney is going to spend hours preparing for trial. They will review and gather all of the information that is available pertaining to your case. This may mean sitting down and talking with witnesses, reviewing medical records, and reviewing medical bills.

Friday Fun

As further proof of the theory that if you can think of it, someone else has already done it, here is a series of photos titled “Stuff Being Thrown At My Head.”


GM Ignition Switch Recall: 10 Things You Need to Know

This is my third post about the recent General Motors’ ignition switch recall, but this is an extremely important issue. At least a dozen people have died because of this defect, which could have been resolved for only a few dollars per vehicle.

CNN’s tells us ten things to know about the recall. Please read this article. Here are excerpts:

What’s the problem? The cars’ ignition switch, where the key is inserted and turned to start the car, can easily be knocked out of the “Run” position into the “Off” or “Accessory” position. This can happen if the key is jostled by a driver’s knee, for instance, or if the car hits a bumpy patch of road. The loss of power means the power braking and steering, as well as the airbags, can stop working.

What cars are involved? The cars involved in the recall are the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac G5 and Solstice and the Saturn Ion and Sky. All are from model years 2003 through 2007. Not all of these models were available through all of those model years.

How many people have been killed? GM acknowledges that at least 12 deaths are linked to this problem.

The non-profit Center for Auto Safety says there may be as many as 303 deaths that could be tied to the defect. But the organization simply counted every fatal crash these cars had where the airbags failed to deploy. All we can say, for now, is that the number fatalities is probably somewhere between 12 and 303.

How long did GM know about this? GM engineers experienced a seemingly related problem when it was testing a Saturn Ion in 2001. Internal reports from GM indicate that the problem was solved with a redesigned switch. However, in 2004, another GM engineer driving a Chevrolet Cobalt, hit the key and accidentally shut the car off. That is apparently the first time GM became aware of the problem that ultimately caused this recall.

Why did it take GM so long to recall these cars? When the problem first surfaced it wasn’t thought to be a safety issue, according to documents GM shared with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers could still still steer and stop the car and they could restart it. GM says its safety engineers weren’t aware of any deaths as a result of this issue until 2007. It then took GM engineers years to trace the problem back to a defective ignition switch, according to the papers.

How will the ignition problem be fixed? These cars were built using a defective ignition switch. A better ignition switch was installed in cars built after the 2007 model year. GM dealers will replace the defective ignition switch in the recalled cars with the new, redesigned switch.

When can my car be fixed? Not until April. It will take time to manufacture and distribute 1.4 million ignition switches. If you have one of these models, you should have already received a letter alerting you to the recall. Another letter will arrive later telling you to make an appointment to get your car fixed.

I’m worried. Should I stop driving my car? For now, GM advises drivers to make sure that there isn’t anything hanging from their car key that could knock it out of place. GM dealersare authorized to provide loaner cars to owners who are really scared about this issue. That will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Read More »

Victim Says Highway Guardrails “Designed to Save Lives, Not Destroy Them”

How much time have you spent thinking about highway guardrails? Have you ever inspected one? Maybe you should.

A video from an Arizona television station tells a frightening story about many of the guardrails currently in use in the United States. Here are a few excerpts from the report:

Guardrails and their terminal heads are designed to save lives.

But according to some lawsuits, they have become more dangerous since the guardrail head model changed in 2005.

These guardrails are all across the world, including 60 countries and all 50 states.

This is how they are supposed to work:

In the older model, the feeder chute was five inches wide and more than 15 inches high. The exit chute is one-and-a-half inches.

Upon impact, the railing should thread through the terminal head and pigtail out the side away from the car.

We checked guardrails across the Valley and found the majority are smaller, newer heads.

It’s easy to check because the smaller ones are only four inches wide, not five.

Harman said with the smaller terminal head, the railing either gets stuck behind the head or acts like a projectile shooting through the car and its passengers inside.

“These changes are resulting in fatalities, injuries,” said Harman, “a guardrail is not supposed to cut a person in half.”

Here’s a follow-up to the story.

Review to investigate safety of guardrail terminals.

The WPTV-TV West Palm Beach (FL) West Palm Beach, FL website reports that a committee at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials “approved an in-service review of guardrail terminals” in March, in the hopes of “determine whether or not guardrail end terminals currently on our roadways…are actually performing the way they are designed to perform in real-world accidents.” The study is expected to take about three years and cost $650,000. Tony Dorsey, AASHTO’s Manager of Media Relations said the review “was approved with the intention to look at all types and brands of end terminals on our roadways.” The National Cooperative Highway Research Program will conduct the review, with funding provided through AASHTO by state department of transportation agencies. The NCHRP “is operated in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration,” according to the article.

In a second, longer article, the WPTV-TV West Palm Beach (FL) West Palm Beach, FL  website reports on safety issues that have been raised with guardrail terminals, citing lawsuits raised alleging they contributed to the death of motorists.

How to Know if You’ve Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice

How to Know if You've Been a Victim of Malpractice

This article is from Emma Sturgis, a freelance writer living in Boston. She writes on a variety of topics, including politics and law. When not at her computer, she enjoys film noir and rock climbing.

Cases of malpractice aren’t always cut and dried. Sometimes you receive care that borders on negligent, and this can leave you wondering whether you might be a victim of malpractice. If the latter is the case, you have a right to be informed of what constituted the malpractice you experienced and any reparations you are entitled to as a result of it. Here are a few common ways to know that you’re involved in a malpractice case.

Your Treatment Did More Harm than Good

If your medical treatment causes further damage, this can be a result of malpractice. Injuries can result from incorrect diagnosis, illegal medical procedures, poorly-trained medical practitioners and staff, or simple negligence.

You Received an Incorrect Diagnosis

Incorrect diagnoses involve failure to correctly identify an injury, failure to perceive the severity or actuality of an injury, and/or failure to use the proper tests to confirm a diagnosis. Any of these can result in complications, further injury, and wrongful death.

Your Doctor Failed to Follow Up

Some diagnoses warrant follow-up testing or mandatory care. If the treatment requires additional visits, it is up to the medical center to follow through and be sure the treatment is complete to the best of their abilities. Patients may not always know when their treatment is concluded, so it’s up to the practitioners to be aware of their schedule and requirements. If you received an incomplete treatment or sustained further injuries from your doctor’s failure to fully investigate your condition, you may have experienced malpractice.

Negligent Care

If you stayed in a hospital or underwent a surgical procedure at a specialists’ office and feel like you did not receive adequate care, then you may want to consult with your lawyer about malpractice. Since hospital patients rely on their attendants to provide comfortable and complete care, malpractice can sometimes occur when these attendants are either poorly-trained or ignorant of proper care-giving practices.

Legal Options for Victims of Malpractice

If you feel that you have a case for taking legal action against our medical provider, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. A legal consultant will be able to tell you what your best option is for receiving compensation. Most likely, you will choose to settle out of court. Your lawyer will help you get a fair settlement and negotiate with the other side to be sure that the issue is ended fairly.

No medical provider is perfect. But when you’ve been wronged or injured, through either negligence or ignorance, you are entitled to take some action. Once you have determined that you have a case for malpractice, it’s important for you to follow up with legal advice to settle the case properly.

NHTSA Presents Questions to GM Over Ignition Switch Recall

The CBS Evening News led its nightly broadcast by reporting that “the government is demanding answers” related to GM’s ignition switch recall affecting 1.6 million vehicles. Correspondent Jeff Glor details the NHTSA order containing “107 questions in all, including exactly how many consumer complaints has GM received? How many lawsuits has GM settled and the details of each.” The report notes the April 3 deadline for a GM response and gives the background on the ignition switch problem itself. Glor also referenced the potential $35 million fine, which Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D) described as “just a parking ticket” relative to the public danger involved and the company’s profits. Anchor Scott Pelley ends the report by commenting that it was “worth noting that GM volunteered to recall the cars itself.”

The New York Times reports that the NHTSA question list “underscores the significant gaps in the chronology of events that the automaker turned over to the safety agency last month.” Notably, the article suggests that NHTSA’s move “also shows how slow the agency has been to respond to the deadly ignition problem.” The article describes how heavy key rings could move the ignition switch to the accessory mode, potentially disabling the car’s engine and electrical system. The article also points out that GM only expanded the February 13 recall last week to include over 800,000 more vehicles. Former NHTSA attorney Alan Kram is quoted as describing the order as “the most detailed special order that I ever recall seeing.” NHTSA’s probe is characterized as focusing on instances in which engineers and mechanics had proposed fixes to the ignition problem, but no recall was ordered. The article also compares the order to one given to Toyota in 2010, which ultimately resulted in maximum fines related to unintended acceleration issues.

The Detroit Bureau reports that the heat on GM “just got turned up today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” The article likewise groups the 107 questions as probing “what [GM] knew, who knew, when they knew it and why they didn’t act sooner.” The article notes that the ignition switch defect, which GM initially discovered in 2004, has been “linked to 31 crashes and 13 deaths.” GM already has settled one lawsuit stemming from the issue, while the recall is reported as affecting “the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-07 Saturn Ion, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.”

The AP reports that NHTSA is asking GM to respond with “pictures, memos, electronic communications, engineering drawings and other data to answer 107 questions” under oath. The article notes that GM would have been required to notify NHTSA of the issue within five days of discovery and that the $35 million fine could be levied in either the case of withheld evidence or delayed response. The article also frames the incident in the context of GM’s emergence from 2009 bankruptcy, saying that GM’s “admission that recall procedures were lacking 10 years ago shows how the old culture can still haunt the automaker.”

Automotive News quotes a NHTSA statement saying, “We are a data-driven organization, and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us.” The article notes that the investigation will also ask for “data on each complaint, including the date on which GM received each report” as well as why GM was unaware until 2013 that the ignition switch had been redesigned by Delphi Mechatronics in 2006.

The Detroit News attributes the 27-page letter to NHTSA General Counsel O. Kevin Vincent and reports that the probe follows from last week’s opening of “a formal investigation into the timeliness of GM’s recall.” The article also quotes one of the questions as specifically wanting to know if GM performed “any work in 2008 (relating) to the defect that is the subject of this recall.” The article notes the in-house GM investigation into the matter, being conducted by a “working group of senior executives,” led by CEO Mary Barra.

Reuters reports that a team of lawyers was already interviewing employees on Wednesday to get a sense of how the company handled its 2004 discovery of the ignition flaw. The article adds that replacement parts for the expanded recall will be made available in April but that there were not any cost estimates available on the recall itself, though the article predicts a flurry of subsequent litigation.

Bloomberg News reports that “GM has now linked the defect to at least 23 crashes, including 13 deaths.” The NHTSA order is quoted as saying that “falsifying or withholding information in response to this special order may also lead to criminal penalties of a fine or imprisonment of up to 15 years, or both.” The article also points out that NHTSA “didn’t start a defect investigation” after being notified by a research team of the potential flaw in 2007.

USA Today quotes one attorney involved in a previous lawsuit over the ignition switch defect as saying that “it appears that the government is taking an aggressive approach, which is the right way.” The article refers to earlier explanations from GM that the cars were still safe to drive because they could be steered and stopped in spite of an ignition switch failure.

Read More »

Florida Supreme Court Tosses Caps on Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Awards

Texas victims of medical malpractice desperately need this to happen in our state. I’m not holding my breath though. Our Supreme Court cares much more for doctors and hospitals than for innocent patients.

The AP reports that yesterday in a 5-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional “caps placed on how much money people can receive in cases” in which a physician’s mistake led to the death of a patient. The limits on lawsuits “were part of a law then-Republican Gov. Jeb Bush pushed in 2003 in an effort to lower the cost of malpractice insurance rates and to keep doctors from moving out of state.” In its ruling, the Florida Supreme Court wrote, “The cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members.”

The Miami Herald reports that in its ruling, the court blasted “the Legislature for creating an ‘alleged medical malpractice crisis’ and concluding that the cap on wrongful death non-economic damages violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause.” The ruling, which was “written by Justice R. Fred Lewis, suggested that legislators created a crisis to push through the caps on damages in medical liability lawsuits which ‘has the effect of saving a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few.’”

The Orlando (FL) Sentinel reports that the ruling “gave a huge victory to plaintiffs’ lawyers who fiercely opposed limits on so-called ‘noneconomic’ damages.” The ruling was also considered a blow to physicians, “who have made a priority of reining in medical-malpractice lawsuits.”

The Palm Beach (FL) Post reports that the cap had “limited the amount for pain and suffering to $500,000 for injuries and $1 million if someone died or was left in a permanent vegetative state.” Also covering the story are the Tampa (FL) Tribune and Reuters.

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Friday Fun

This map from is not “funny” but it sure is interesting. It shows each county in the United States, and the census date at which that county’s population peaked. For many countys that date is 2010 — the last census. But for others the date was way back in the 1800′s. Those counties are pretty much dying. Where does your county fall? The map is interactive, so you can zoom in and move around.

For people who live in the North Texas region, notice the decline in population growth starting two counties west of Fort Worth and extending west and north from there. That’s all ranch and farm territory. As ranching and farming have become big business and more mechanized, the people have moved away. Notice also Sierra County, California. The population there peaked in 1860 — a direct result of the gold rush that began in 1848 and ended soon after 1860.

I don’t know what the deal is with Buckingham County, Virginia. The population there peaked in 1810.

Five Signs That You Need Help Handling Your Personal Injury Claims

This article is from Tricia Borren, mother and blogger in Beverly Hills, California.

An injury is a serious event. When faced with this problem, a person should not go at it alone. No, when looking to get compensation, you should look at hiring a lawyer who can get to the bottom of the problem immediately. With that being said, here are five signs that you need help handling your personal injury claims.

Permanent injuries

When faced with a small and painless injury, one may not need a lawyer. On the other hand, when dealing with a serious and life-changing event, one must contact a personal injury lawyer. When doing so, a client can get the money he or she needs to live a full life. Simply put, it is not best left to chance, and a person must get legal advice when dealing with a permanent injury.

Missing work

It is possible to get hurt so badly that a person will miss work for a long time. In fact, often, a person will never regain his or her career. When this happens, one should not try their case alone. No, instead, when dealing with a loss of work, a person should consult an attorney and get the settlement he or she needs to get by in the future.

Bills mounting

After a serious accident, most people will see their bills pile up. This can happen quickly as a consumer only needs to look at his or her statements to see all the charges. To avoid getting stuck with the bill, a smart individual should call an attorney who can resolve the issue.

Settlement offers

When a consumer receives a settlement offer, it is most likely a bad deal. To avoid getting taken advantage of, one should opt to take the settlement letter to an attorney. With this step alone, a person can see his or her settlement offer climb. Remember, most companies will exploit a careless client and try to buy them off with a low offer. Luckily, with an attorney, one can avoid this issue. The law offices of Michael C. Cohen are a great place to get help, especially with settlements.


When delaying the process, most insurance companies are trying to get their client the worst settlement. Since they have a legal right to exercise this, a smart person should head to a qualified legal expert who can decode the delays. Then, one can move on quickly and resolve the issue without any further wait.

When dealing with a personal injury claim, it is best to attack the problem with a qualified legal advisor. With this tip, one will get more and avoid problems during the process.

Different Types Of Law: Knowing The Differences & Finding The Right Fit For You

Different Types Of Law- Knowing The Differences & Finding The Right Fit For You

The term “lawyer” is tossed around quite a bit as if it were one job. In actuality, there are many different types of law and many different types of lawyers. Understanding the type you need is important to finding the best service for your particular issue. Below are some of the most common types of law and legal services attorneys provide.

Criminal Law

These attorneys help clients who have run afoul of the criminal code. Whether it is in state court, federal court, or juvenile court, these attorneys work to keep their clients out of jail and defend their liberty. The cases can pertain to anything from arson to domestic violence, lawyers from Harley & Pecora recommend being aware of the different types of people you will be representing before going into this law.

Family Law

These attorneys handle difficult problems within the family. If you have a divorce, child custody issue, or other domestic matters, these attorneys can help.

Personal Injury

These lawyers work to help those who have been injured by another’s negligence. A personal injury attorney often helps clients who have been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall, a dog bite, or other injury accident. They seek monetary damages within the civil courts.


A bankruptcy attorney helps people and businesses when they have serious debt problems. For consumers, Chapter 7 bankruptcy (debt discharge) and Chapter 13 bankruptcy (debt reorganization) are available, while businesses have Chapter 11 (liquidation) and Chapter 13. These attorneys work to get your debt under control while keeping as many of your assets as possible.

Tax Law

These lawyers help clients who have problems with the IRS, including audits or tax evasion charges. They are often equally skilled in understanding the complex federal tax code as well as being competent accountants.

Wealth Management

These attorneys help clients who wish to protect themselves from risks (such a lawsuit) and protect themselves from onerous tax obligations. These attorneys can also help with estate planning, allowing a person to pass his or her assets to their family or to other beneficiaries as smoothly as possible, avoiding the time and cost of having these assets stuck in probate.

Corporate Law

These attorneys help with complex commercial issues, such as breach of contract or tax problems. It encompasses a wide variety of needs that arise from both large multinational corporations as well as small mom-and-pop operations.

Immigration Law

People who wish to come to the United States to either go to school, work temporarily, or relocate permanently, need an immigration attorney who can help secure the various visas needed for their endeavors. This way, a person can live here as long as they like without fear of deportation.

Hopefully this brief overview gave you an idea of what branch of law your legal issue falls under. By working with an attorney who is an expert in their respective field, you can be sure you getting the expert advice you need for your particular legal matter.


This article is from Brionna Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Washington, then moving down to Oregon for college. She enjoys writing on fashion and business, but any subject will do, she loves to learn about new topics. When she isn’t writing, she lives for the outdoors. Oregon has been the perfect setting to indulge her love of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking.

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Negotiating Your Personal Injury Case: Knowing How the Process Works

This article is from Marissa Turner, a freelance writer with a passion for politics and antique toys.

Personal Injury Law

Ninety percent of civil cases never go to trial, reports the Department of Justice, and about 95 percent of personal injury suits settle before trial as well, according to the Law Dictionary’s analysis of government statistics. This means your compensation in an injury suit will usually depend on how well you negotiate. Consult a good attorney and understand the negotiation process.

Identify All Defendants

Lawyers with the personal injury firm Collins & Collins suggest on their website that you start by identifying all possible defendants responsible for your injury, as well as all sources of monetary recovery. A defendant can be an individual, corporation, government entity or other party or parties. The recovery source is usually the defendant’s insurance provider, unless the party is uninsured.

Notify Their Representatives

The next step is to notify the defendant’s representative, normally their insurance provider, who will conduct an investigation. Meanwhile, your attorney will conduct his own parallel investigation.

The insurance company opens a claim and assigns the investigation to an adjuster. The adjuster will first ascertain what is being claimed by reading the report. They will usually follow up by contacting you to hear what you have to say. They will then request official records, such as police and accident reports.

If you follow up by filing a claim, the adjuster may conduct a more thorough investigation. This typically begins with a generic letter requesting further documentation, such as medical records. The adjuster may investigate your background as well. recommends that if the investigation reaches this stage, you should consult your attorney before authorizing the release of medical records or allowing the adjuster to take a recorded statement, as this may not be in your best interests.

State Your Claim

Your attorney’s investigation and the insurance company’s investigation will give both parties an idea of the value of your case. You can then file your claim in the form of a letter demanding payment. A demand letter includes a description of the accident, liability, injuries, medical treatments, financial loss from medical bills and lost work. It concludes with a settlement demand. Options such as structured settlements may be broached at this point. Supporting documentation should be included.

In serious injury cases, sending of a demand letter may be delayed until medical improvement has progressed. Normally you should have an attorney help you craft your demand letter, but if you want to get an idea what one looks like or if you’re pursuing a claim on your own in small claims court, the California Courts website provides a template.


Sending the demand letter initiates the negotiation phase of the settlement. Personal injury attorney Jimmy Fasiq suggests on the Barrett, Fasig & Brooks blog that you invite the defendant to make an offer before asking for a specific dollar amount. The defendant will dispute items and offer lower counter-offers until both parties reach an agreement, which may take several rounds.

When Is The Time To Sue? Five Common Situations That Should Be Tried

When Is The Time To Sue- 5 Common Situations That Should Be Tried

Unlike criminal cases, civil suits only require a plaintiff to prove that their claims of monetary damages are reasonable, and backed by records and documentation. In this sense civil cases are easier won than criminal cases.

Before you begin a civil suit, you must consider if you have the standing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself first.

1. Did you suffer monetary damages?

If someone fails to follow through on a contract, then you have been financially harmed. For instance, say you paid a house painter to paint your home. Even after taking the agreed-upon amount, he did not finish. At this point the painter is in a breach of contract, and you are owed money because he did not keep up his end of the bargain.

2. Did you suffer physical damages?

This applies to possessions, such as your car. The most important part of a physical damage claim is proof. You must have physical evidence of actual damage. Take pictures from different angles. Following the car example, get an estimate from a reputable body shop. Multiple estimates work best, if possible. If your car is wrecked beyond repair, get an estimate from your insurance company.

3. Was a loan never paid back?

Personal loans between friends and family happen all the time. But sometimes, these loans are not repaid. If you have agreed to lend somebody money and they refuse to pay you back, then you have cause to sue to recover your funds.

It is important in such cases to have a written contract, especially if you paid in cash. Checks can sometimes serve as proof as well, but not always. In any business arrangement, it’s important to get everything in writing, and personal loans are no exception.

4. Did you suffer a personal injury?

In such cases, you must have records to launch a viable suit. Doctor’s notes, medical bills, and prescription receipts are all acceptable forms of record, and should be carefully maintained before heading to court.

If possible, take pictures of your injuries. This can better illustrate the real extent of damages.

5. Did you go through pain and suffering?

This is always a dubious case to prove. In order to receive compensation, you must prove that you have been the recipient of malicious intent to cause you pain. As with everything else, this requires documentation. For example, say you were being stalked for several weeks by an angry ex-fiancé. After requesting a restraining order and multiple police reports, you might be able to show a judge a history of malicious intent, and be compensated.

It is worth reiterating this is always one of the hardest suits to establish, and is rarely won.

A key factor in civil suits is documentation. If you have evidence proving that you have suffered financial loss, then you have a good chance of winning your case.

Information Source:

This article is from Brionna Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Washington, then moving down to Oregon for college. She enjoys writing on fashion and business, but any subject will do, she loves to learn about new topics. When she isn’t writing, she lives for the outdoors. Oregon has been the perfect setting to indulge her love of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking.

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