April 21, 2010

Birmingham Personal Injury News: Consumer Safety Commission Recalls One Million Baby Slings after Infant Deaths

Every once in a while one reads about a product that has such as a significant manufacturing or design defect that it can result in a potentially life threatening situation. Whether the product in question is a poorly designed automobile part or a simple consumer item, such as a faulty electrical appliance, the results can often be devastating to an unsuspecting member of the public.

Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (XPSC) and Infantino LLC announced a recall of more than one million baby slings following reports of three separate cases of infant death in connection with the apparently defective product. According to news articles, the victims include a seven-week-old infant, a three-month-old baby, and a six-day-old newborn. Each of the three infant fatalities took place in 2009.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I understand how a parent can easily trust a product. And since we as a society put so much faith in manufacturers to sell proven and safe devices and products, it can be a shock when something as terrible happens to a family such as those affected by these apparently defective baby slings.

Whether you live in Dothan, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville or any of the dozens of communities throughout Alabama, my job as an injury attorney is to help victims and their families who have been injured or suffered as a result of another party’s negligence.

Based on new reports, the recall came just a couple weeks following a CPSC warning that was issued to families about the importance of using these sling carriers in the correct fashion. Nearly a dozen deaths have been linked to baby slings over the past 20 years. However, despite an earlier warning by Consumer Reports in regard to various hazards posed by using a baby sling, many parents remained unaware that these “hip” child carriers can cause infant suffocation leading to serious injury and sometimes death.

Since newborn babies are not capable of controlling their heads, an infant may not be able to turn away if and when the sling’s fabric obstructs the child’s nose and mouth. When a baby’s breathing is cut off in this manner, suffocation can occur in just a couple of minutes. Also, if the baby is curled up in the sling so that the child’s chin is pressed into the chest, oxygen may have a difficult time getting to the lungs, resulting in a tragic situation due to slow suffocation.

Infantino baby sling recall: Are any baby slings safe?, Christian Science Monitor, March 24, 2010

Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies, CPSC, March 12, 2010

January 27, 2010

Birmingham Injury Lawyer Update: Unseasoned Hunters Most at Risk in Alabama Tree-stand Accidents

Hunting season is a time for many Alabama residents to take some time and enjoy nature and the out of doors. Residents of large cities, such as Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham, as well as smaller towns and communities, can find themselves a quiet place to hunt here as well as in nearby states. But as an Alabama personal injury attorney, I know that hunting does not come with a guarantee of safety.

Whether a hunter uses a bow, rifle, shotgun or any other weapon, accidents can and often do happen, even to seasoned hunters. Fatal or life-threatening gunshot wounds are common, as are “friendly-fire” incidents. Surprisingly, tree-stand accidents apparently take one of the largest tolls on younger and many times less-experienced hunters around our state.

According to a recent article, hunters between the ages of 15 and 34 years old are most likely to suffer serious injuries in tree stand-related incidents. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences provided data collected from the 2000-2007 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Based on their research, the center reported that the number of Americans engaging in hunting has remained stable over the past 10 years -- 12.5 million hunters were registered as of 2006. In the study presented online in the Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection and Critical Care, researchers reported that men were twice as likely as women to be injured in a hunting accident.

In this same study, the data collected apparently showed that there were 46,860 reported injuries related to tree stand use between 2000 and 2007. Of these injuries, the most common were fractures usually of the hip or lower extremities. Injuries to the trunk, shoulder and upper extremities were less common. Head and spinal cord injuries were even less common, but still frequent enough to be considered significant.

Hunters between the ages of 15 and 24 years old had injury rates of 55.7 per 100,000; those hunters in the 25- to 34-year age range averaged 61 injuries per 100,000. Hunters over 65 years of age had injury rates of only 22.4 per 100,000.

It has been suggested that younger hunters may have higher injury rates because they may be more willing to take risks. Additionally, they may have less exposure to safety information and spend more time hunting than older hunters. In any case, safety campaigns to remind hunters to use safety harnesses and to be certain that tree stand equipment is well-maintained could help prevent future injuries.

Young hunters most likely to be injured using tree stands, study says, OrthoSuperSite.com, January 4, 2010

Tags: Accidental Shooting, Alabama personal injury attorney, Birmingham Injury Lawyer, Death, Fall, Firearm Safety, Fracture, Friendly Fire, Gun Deaths, Gunshot Wound, Hunting Accident, Personal Injury, Spinal Cord Truama, Traumatic Brain Injury, Tree-stand Injury

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January 13, 2010

Birmingham Injury Lawyer News: Alabama Boy Severely Injured in Hit-and-Run Traffic Accident

It only takes a moment of inattention for a car crash to turn a passenger into a victim of another senseless traffic accident. Here in Alabama, automobile crash injuries and deaths are commonplace. As a Birmingham personal injury attorney and parent myself, I cringe whenever I hear of a youngster being involved in a car or truck collision. Even coming home from school or riding to a play date with friends, auto accidents can happen in a neighborhood or on the highway.

A recent news story out of Huntsville shows how seemingly callus some people can be. The accident in question left a little boy laying in the hospital apparently in serious condition. According to news reports, a family was riding together in their car on Saturday, December 26, when it was hit by another driver who then drove away and fled the scene. The parents have since made a public appeal that the hit-and-run driver come forward and own up to what he or she did.

Emergency workers arriving at the scene treated members of the family, including little Jacob Austin. The boy’s injuries were such that he was transported to the pediatric intensive care unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. At the time of the article, Jacob was hooked up to various monitors, a feeding tube, a ventilator and an oxygen supply.

Police reports show that the crash occurred on Highway 53 at Burwell Road. The force of the crash jammed the passenger door shut, which made it difficult to get Jacob out right away. According to the news, the boy’s father, Ronnie Austin, tried to pry the car door open while his mother, Denise, jumped over the front seats to help get him out. Reports indicate that the father remembered seeing a red Ford Explorer briefly before it left the scene.

The little boy was treated for a broken jaw, a fracture behind his eye, lacerations on his liver and kidney, and a sheer brain injury. However, doctors did not know the extent of the brain injury at the time of the report.

Family Pleads For Driver In Hit and Run To Come Forward, WHNT.com, December 31, 2009

Tags: Alabama Injury Attorney, auto accident, Birmingham Personal Injury Lawyer, brain truama, defective equipment, driver error, excessive speed, head injuries, hospitalization, infant, injured child, negligence, passenger car, pediatric ICU, serious injury, spinal column injury, traffic accident, traumatic brain injury

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December 2, 2009

Alabama Injury News: Toyota Recalls Another 110,000 Vehicles for Dangerous Defect on Pickup Truck Frames

From time to time I hear of potentially life threatening situations created by faulty or poorly designed automobile parts and components. Recently, Toyota recalled 110,000 2000-2003 model year Tundra pickup trucks because of a dangerous rust problem that could affect the mounting hardware holding the spare tire to the frame.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I understand how a seemingly minor mechanical or structural problem on a passenger car can easily lead to injury or even death. My job is to help those victims and their families who have been injured or suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.

The defect mentioned in a recent news article could cause the Tundra’s spare tire to become detached from the vehicle’s frame and fall onto the roadway in front of other cars and trucks, which could cause those drivers to lose control and possibly crash. At highway speeds, this could result in multi-vehicle accidents. I’m glad that Toyota has taken the steps to recall these defective trucks so that they don’t become potential hazards on the road.

Apparently the federal government has urged owners of these vehicles to take preventative action by advising them to remove the spare tire from the frame before a dangerous situation occurs.

According to reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into excessive rust on Tundra frames this past October after receiving 20 complaints of what the agency refers to as severe frame corrosion. The NHTSA also said that it received 15 reports of the spare tire (carried under the pickup bed) allegedly separating from the frame. Five other complaints alleged that the vehicle’s brake lines were broken or damaged because of the rusty condition of the frame.

Although the recently announced recall involves Tundras registered in 20 "cold weather" states, the NHTSA said owners of 2000-2003 Tundras registered elsewhere will also be notified to have their vehicles inspected and repaired if the owners desire. If you own an affected model that was purchased from a rust belt state, you may want to be especially cautious.

Tundra owners will soon be contacted by Toyota to take their trucks to a Toyota dealer for an inspection of the rear crossmember. If the inspection shows that it can no longer safely support the spare tire, the crossmember assembly will be replaced, according to Toyota. If no significant rust is found, a corrosion-resistant compound will be applied to the frame. Toyota said the inspections and repairs will be done at no charge to owners.

Toyota to recall 110,000 Tundras over rust, MSNBC.com, November 24, 2009

Tags: Alabama Injury Attorney, auto maufacturer, Birmingham Personal Injury Lawyer, car accident, defective equipment, negigence, NHTSA, pickup truck, products liability, recall, spare tire, vehicle frame, wrongful death

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November 4, 2009

Alabama Personal Injury News: 3.8 Million Toyota Vehicles Recalled for Safety-Related Problem

Some of the simplest automobile defects can potentially kill and injure innocent people. Recently, across Alabama and elsewhere, Toyota recalled nearly four million cars and trucks for a problem that may cause the gas pedal to stick. This could make the vehicle accelerate out of control, possibly injuring the driver and passengers, and potentially endangering pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles. Curiously, the problem has to do with the floor mat design in some of the company’s vehicles.

While not strictly a mechanical defect, the design of these floor mats was obviously not thought out completely. This may sound humorous to some, but it’s no laughing matter. As an Alabama personal injury lawyer, I recommend that anyone injured by a Toyota vehicle affected with this problem should consider their right to compensation for any medical cost and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering they may have endured as a result. You need a qualified attorney to represent your case.

In September 2007, Toyota recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in some 2007 and 2008 model year Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry vehicles because of similar problems. More recently, Toyota ordered 1,400 Toyota and Lexus dealers nationwide to ensure that each new, used and loaner vehicles had the proper floor mats and that the mats were properly secured.

This latest recall involves popular Toyota models such as the popular Camry and the hybrid Prius model. News articles indicate that Toyota is cooperating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find a fix for the problem.

This kind of product defect, although seemingly simple in nature, is just one of many equipment problems that can cause a motorist to lose control of his of her vehicle and perhaps become injured or even be killed. Because this problem could cause a racing engine scenario, the lives of other drivers, pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles could be endangered.

The NHTSA said it had received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on the Toyota vehicles involved. It’s unclear how many of these resulted in crashes but the inquiry was prompted by a high-speed wreck back in August in the state of California. At that time, a Lexus sped out of control, reaching speeds exceeding 120mph. The family inside the vehicle made a frantic call to 911 to say that the accelerator was stuck and they couldn't stop the vehicle.

Anyone hurt as a result of such an incident should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with a deep knowledge of automotive accident cases. No matter how minor the problem may seem, almost any defective vehicle component can become a safety concern if proper action is not taken to correct the problem. Don’t let your wellbeing or that of your family be adversely affected by even the simplest of vehicle defects.

Toyota, Lexus Mat Recall: 3.8 Million Vehicles Recalled Over Floor Mats, HuffingtonPost.com, September 29, 2009

September 9, 2009

Alabama Wrongful Death Case Results in $3.5 Million Jury Award to Dead Motorist’s Family

The recent decision by a Chilton County jury to award $3.5 million to the widow and three children of a Clanton, AL, man killed in a horrendous traffic accident has sent a message to log truck companies across the country. As a Birmingham personal injury attorney having represented clients from around Alabama who have been in similar circumstances, I must say that I am pleased by the outcome of this recent wrongful death lawsuit.

According to news reports, 56-year-old James Sanderson was killed in January 2008 at an Elmore County intersection. The man’s passenger van was rear-ended by a logging truck while waiting for traffic ahead to make a left turn. The driver of that truck, Gary Fruge, was named in the lawsuit along with Ken Gorum Trucking. The events of that day were covered in the trial and included the deadly details.

On that day, according to news reports, Sanderson was stopped behind two vehicles -- a passenger car and another log truck -- in the left-hand turn lane at the intersection of Highways 14 and 170 in Wetumpka. While waiting on the passenger car to turn left, Sanderson was struck from behind by Fruge’s log truck, sending his van into the back of the first log truck. As a result of the collision, one of the logs from the first log truck was forced through Sanderson’s windshield causing a traumatic head injury.

The plaintiff’s attorney showed that Fruge was speeding and that the truck had faulty brakes. Apparently proving that the trucking company had failed to properly maintain their vehicle, the jury fined both Fruge and the company for whom he was driving. The lawyer for the Sanderson family produced experts who testified that Fruge was traveling well in excess of the posted 50mph speed limit.

The Sandersons' attorney argued that Fruge had about one thousand feet in which to bring his truck to a full stop. From the evidence, experts testified that the truck must have been travelling around 65-75mph for Fruge to have applied the brakes and still strike the victim’s van with sufficient force to cause the resulting damage and fatal injuries. Experts showed that if Fruge been going 45mph, he would have been able to stop within 360 feet after first application of the truck's brakes. The jury apparently agreed and found Gruge and Ken Gorum Trucking liable for Sanderson’s death.

While other states across the nation have laws that instruct juries to consider the income and earning potential of a victim, Alabama law does not restrict an award based on these factors. Instead, our state asks juries to base their decisions on the gravity of the conduct, as well as using the award to discipline the defendant and send a message to others. The resulting $3.5 million award is an example of Alabama's approach to wrongful death cases such as this one.

Jury awards $3.5 million to family of man crushed by log trucks, clantonadvertiser.com, July 22, 2009

Tags: Alabama Injury Attorney, Birmingham Personal Injury Lawyer, defective brakes, excessive speed, fine, logging, negligence, passenger car, plaintiff award, semi-tractor, traffic death, trucking accidents, widow, wrongful death

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August 12, 2009

Multiple Injuries, One Fatality Related to Honda Airbag Modules Recalled in Alabama, Nationwide

An automobile accident is bad enough when another driver makes an error causing you serious injury, but no one expects that the safety equipment designed to protect you in a car crash will actually be the cause of physical injuries or possibly death. Yet, this is why Honda is recalling nearly 500,000 of its Civic and Accord models, as well as some Acura cars, many of which are being driven in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville and other cities throughout Alabama.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I’ve handled many automotive defective equipment cases, but this one is perhaps worse in that it involves a car part that is supposed to save lives, not kill people. According to reports, the defective components are part of these cars’ steering wheel airbag system. During operation, portions of the airbag inflation system can break off and be propelled at the driver or passengers.

One fatality has already been reported, as well as several other non-fatal injuries, which involve this specific airbag defect. Back in November of last year, Honda announced it would recall some of its 2001 model year Accord and Civic sedans, but now the company has expanded that recall to include another 440,000 cars.

According to news reports, the potentially life-threatening defect is part is the vehicle’s driver-side airbag inflator assembly, which can rupture as a result of excessive air pressure and potentially cause metal fragments to shoot out through the airbag, possibly hitting vehicle occupants.

I know there are many people who drive Honda cars and I worry for them if this defect is not fixed soon. Being an Alabama personal injury attorney, I understand how this type of vehicle problem can only make an already bad automobile crash much worse. Nobody can imagine that an automotive safety system will actually hurt them, but in this case it could easily happen, which is why Honda is now recalling the affected vehicles.

The safety recall covers a number of 2001 and 2002 Accords, 2001 Civics and some 2002 and 2003 Acura TL models. The driver's side airbag is the defective component that needs to be replaced on the affected vehicles. Owners can check to see if their vehicle is affected by visiting Honda’s owner website and logging on. Honda has encouraged its customers to wait until they receive a recall notice before going to a dealership, since it may take a while for the parts to be in stock.

Honda recalls 440,000 cars for airbag risk, MSNBC.com, July 31, 2009

Tags: Accord, Acura, airbag, Alabama injury lawyer, Automobile Recall, Birmingham product liability attorney, Civic, defective equipment, Honda, injury, product liability, wrongful death

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