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What Should You Do After a Truck Accident

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If you or your loved one were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you know firsthand how devastating this type of accident can be. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them roughly 20 times the size of a small passenger car. Their large size means they can take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, with even greater distances on wet or slippery roads. The sheer size and weight of a truck mean any encounter with them has the possibility to cause catastrophic injuries.

In 2018, large trucks and buses were involved in over 5,000 fatal crashes, and the number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes has increased by 48-percent since 2009. If you were injured in an accident involving a large truck, there are several steps you can take to ensure you receive fair compensation that covers the cost of your medical bills and auto repairs. Keep reading for our top tips on how to protect your legal rights after a trucking accident. 

Call for Help

Your first priority should be to assess your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. You should always be examined by a doctor, as internal injuries and head trauma can sometimes go undetected and cause greater damage later on. You will also want to get a police report, which will be pivotal in documenting and proving your case

Take Photos at the Accident Scene

Take shots from multiple angles, and be sure to include pictures of your vehicle, the truck, your injuries, and your passengers’ injuries. If you are unable to take photos yourself, have a trusted friend or family member take the pictures for you. Taking photos will be especially important if the weather may have been a factor in visibility, or in making the roads slick. 

Collect Witness Information and Other Documentation

Other things you should try to collect at the scene are:

  • The names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of all drivers and witnesses 
  • Pictures of the truck driver’s insurance cards
  • Pictures of the truck driver’s license
  • The name and contact information of the trucking company the driver works for
  • The trucks license plate number, make and model, color, and any other identifying information

Leave Your Vehicle As It Is

Make sure to communicate to your mechanic that they are not to perform any repairs until the vehicle has been appraised by the insurance company. Just like injuries to your body, your car may seem fine, but it’s best to get the opinion of a trusted mechanic to check for hidden damages that may not be evident at first glance. 

What NOT To Do After a Trucking Accident

It is important that you don’t admit fault after a trucking accident. If you are partially responsible, a skilled lawyer can help you understand the extent to which you may be liable, and help you find ways to reduce your liability. 

You’re also under no obligation to talk with the insurance companies that will call you. Politely, but firmly, let them know “I am working with a lawyer, and they will reach out to you”. Insurance adjusters are notorious for offering small settlements in the hopes that you will accept readily, not realizing that you can fight for better compensation. 

Contact an Attorney

This is of the utmost importance because you can be sure that the trucking company already has specialized attorneys to minimize their own liability. A truck accident attorney working on your behalf will conduct an investigation, gather and protect key evidence, and handle communications with all other parties involved. This also lets the trucking company and their insurer know you mean serious business, and they are more likely to offer you a better settlement offer. 

Trucking accidents can be much more complicated than accidents involving two personal vehicles, as multiple other parties may be involved. These may include the trucking company, the driver’s employer, or the manufacturer of the goods being transported. The skilled lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if you have a case, and who is ultimately liable for your accident, with a free consultation. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out by filling out our form

 

Bristol Township – Two Injured by Space Heater

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Two Bristol Township residents suffered significant burns and were airlifted to Temple Hospital after an electric space heater started a fire that caused significant damage to their home. Fire department officials arrived around 4:00 a.m. and stated that no smoke alarms were sounding when they arrived. Thankfully, several neighbors had woken the couple up by banging on their doors and windows, allowing them to escape the blaze. 

Bristol Township Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito stated that it was not clear whether the electric space heater was too close to something flammable, or if a defect/malfunction was responsible for the fire. Whatever the cause was, the fact remains that space heaters continue to pose fire hazards in homes across the United States, and these malfunctions leading to destructive and sometimes deadly fires are sadly all too common. The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if your devastating space heater fire was caused by a faulty product, and if so, who should be held liable for damages.

Why Are Space Heaters Dangerous?

Over half of all home heating fire deaths start because the heating equipment is placed too close to something flammable, such as bedding or furniture. Other factors that can lead to fires are failing to clean the heater, or heaters that are left unattended. But between 15 to 30 percent of space heater fires are caused by mechanical or electrical malfunctions.

The safest heaters are ones that have fire-preventative features such as automatic shut-offs and long cords, and these models are usually certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). But a UL certification is not legally required, and there is no current legal requirement that space heater manufacturers install critical safety features on all of their models. 

 

How Many Fires Are Started by Space Heaters?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) states that heating equipment, such as space heaters, is the number one cause of fires in homes. Between 2012-2016, there were an average of 52,050 fires every year caused by heating equipment in the United States, resulting in 490 deaths and one billion dollars in property damage. Of these, approximately 1,200 fires were caused by portable electric space heaters specifically.

The winter months of December, January and February are the most dangerous months for home heating fires in the United States, and they usually occur sometime between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Early morning fires, like the one in Bristol township, are the most uncommon but are also the most deadly time for a space heater fire to occur. In fact, nearly half of all fatalities due to fires caused by heating equipment occur between midnight and 8:00 a.m.

Who Is Liable for a Fire Caused by a Space Heater? 

Understanding who is liable for a fire caused by a space heater is a complicated question that will ultimately rely on the specific circumstances of your case. Liable parties may include:

  • The manufacturer of the space heater
  • The manufacturer of defective parts in your space heater
  • The retailer who sold you your space heater

All space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and must be turned off when unattended. Consumers are also advised to always plug a space heater directly into a wall socket, and never to use a power strip or extension cord to plug in a space heater. But even when all these precautions are in place, catastrophic fires can still happen when using a space heater.

If you or your loved ones have experienced a fire caused by an electric space heater, you deserve answers and compensation for your losses. If the manufacturer or retailer is liable, you may have recourse to file a wrongful death or product liability lawsuit against them. The skilled attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can answer your questions with a free consultation, and help you begin your recovery process. Fill out our online form here, or call us at 1-866-869-5318 to speak with someone today. 

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Increasing Along With Rising Opioid Abuse Nationwide

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From 2004 to 2014, health officials began to sound the alarm, as the number of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased five-fold. Yet the problem has only gotten worse in recent years, and 24 states across the country are now reporting increases of 100% or more for infants with drug withdrawal symptoms from 2010 to 2017. 

Opioid abuse in the United States was already reaching record levels in 2019, and the ongoing global pandemic has only worsened the crisis. The opioid epidemic has been aided by doctors inappropriately prescribing pain medication to patients who do not need it, and negligence on the part of drug makers. Although the coronavirus has dominated the headlines over the last year, the attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have been closely following developments with the ongoing opioid crisis in an effort to keep consumers informed of the latest trends. 

 

What Is NAS?

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is the term used for a group of symptoms that can appear after a baby is exposed to opioids or other substances while in the womb. Once diagnosed, infants who receive treatment often get better within a few days, but NAS can also cause lifelong problems for the infant’s health and development. 

NAS can be caused by substances other than opioids, such as sleeping pills or antidepressants. It can also be caused by street drugs like heroin, and prescription opioids such as:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine

How Does a Baby Get NAS?

When a baby is still in the womb, they absorb their mother’s nutritional and medicinal intake through the placenta. Powerful drugs like opioids easily cross through the placenta and affect the unborn child. This can leave an infant with a chemical dependency on whatever drugs their mother is taking, just like the chemical dependency that adults develop when becoming addicted to a substance. 

When the baby is born, they will no longer receive a supply of opiates from their mother, and they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, just like an adult would. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last days to weeks depending on treatment and severity. 

What Are the Symptoms of NAS?

Symptoms vary from case to case, depending on how frequently the mother used opiates, the baby’s gestational age (how many weeks old the baby was when it was born), or what drugs were taken. Common symptoms can include:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Excessive fussiness
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor feeding or slow weight gain
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Lots of yawning and trouble sleeping

Recent Increases in NAS

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) reported in early 2021 that NAS has increased by 82% from 2010 to 2017, while mothers with an opioid diagnosis during pregnancy have increased by 131% in the same period. 

The opioid crisis has continued to worsen over the past decade, with opioids causing nearly 47,000 deaths in 2018. Philadelphia has been hit particularly hard by this crisis, with Pennsylvania seeing over 4,000 deaths in the same year. Pennsylvania ranks as the 8th hardest-hit state in the country for rates of NAS, with nearly 15 out of every 1000 newborns hospitalized for NAS.

 

Experience Matters

Multiple studies have linked opioid exposure in the womb to physical and cognitive issues later in life. The effects of NAS can cause lifelong issues for these infants and their families, and the costs of treatment over a lifetime can be astronomical. Yet reports keep coming in of doctors and pharmacies overprescribing opioids, with full knowledge of the dangers they cause. 

The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have successfully brought lawsuits against companies who tried to illegally profit off of opiates, including taking part in a $225 million lawsuit against INSYS Therapeutics, after INSYS paid kickbacks and engaged in other illegal marketing tactics to promote sales of its fentanyl spray, Subsys. This kind of experience is critical in bringing a successful wrongful death, medical malpractice, or qui tam lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company or medical practice. Contact us for a free consultation today by filling out our form or by calling us directly at 1-866-521-0865.

Serious Car Accidents Remained High During COVID-19 Pandemic, While Minor Crashes Dropped Drastically

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A doctor takes a nasal swab from a patient at a drive-in coronavirus testing clinic Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the nation’s way of life. One example of this can be seen in the amount of traffic on the nation’s roadways. When people are commuting as normal, there are certain times with elevated levels of traffic. However, now that many people are suffering a lack of work and work schedules and routines have been changed to adapt to necessary coronavirus precautionary procedures, the amount of traffic on the road has decreased.

Researchers have been looking into whether these altered traffic routines have resulted in any changes to traffic accidents. While it’s clear that the number of cars on the nation’s roads has dropped considerably as a result of the coronavirus and related shutdowns, research has suggested that the number of serious accidents, injuries, and fatalities has largely remained level.

In the fall of 2020, researchers from the University of Missouri investigated traffic patterns as they changed during the lockdown period in several states. They were looking into whether the reduced amount of vehicles on the road reduced the number of car crashes and their seriousness. They performed an analysis using data from the Statewide Traffic Accident Records System. This system logged nearly 2,300 traffic accidents on Missouri roads from January through May.

To determine whether or not the shutdowns affected the number of car accidents, the researchers categorized the period from March 23 to May 3 as the shutdown period. According to their findings, the number of daily accidents on the road was reduced, falling from 17.9 to 14.4 incidents per day. They also found that there was a significant drop in the rate of collisions resulting in minor or no injuries, dropping from 14.5 to 10.8 incidents per day. Unfortunately, despite these reductions in crashes, the rate of serious and fatal accidents increased from 3.4 per day to 3.7 per day during the lockdown.

The researchers hypothesized that there could be a number of reasons for these conflicting results. One possible factor is that the more clear highways allowed dangerous drivers to speed more easily, leading to an elevation in crashes at high speed. These high-speed crashes are naturally more likely to lead to serious injuries and deaths. Other possible factors are reduced policing and an increase in the speed of commercial vehicles.

There have been previous studies that analyzed the effects of COVID-19 on traffic and the results supported the theory that open roads resulted in a change in driving behavior, with the drivers increasing the vehicle’s speed. INRIX, an analytics company that focused on driving behavior, also released a study that showed that the speed of the average driver increased by 75% on highways when traffic dropped from the lockdowns. They also concluded that these higher driving speeds could lead to more serious crashes.

Further supporting the conclusion that increased speeds are the cause of the increase in serious crashes, transportation officials in New York City reported a 60% increase in the number of speeding tickets from speed cameras in March when compared to the previous year. In Washington D.C., there was a 20% increase in the number of speeding tickets issued, with officials reporting that the number of drivers found going over the limit by more than 20 miles per hour also increased by almost 40%.

What we can see from these studies and their conclusions is that speed plays a major factor in the number of serious accidents. Even if the roads look clear, you should be defensive when driving.

Partner Jim McEldrew Featured on Who’sWho Philly Labor Show

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Partner Jim Mceldrew was featured on union talk-show Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show on Dec.8th hosted by Joe Dougherty. The show, featured on WWDB recognizes and celebrates those who serve and make a difference in the lives of working families, injury victims, the community, and charitable endeavors throughout greater Philadelphia.

Listen to it by following this link: Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show Feat. Jim McEldrew

In the extensive interview, Mr. McEldrew takes a deep dive into the history of the American Railroad system and how the precursors to workers comp got set up, explaining the how’s and why’s of how it functions in the modern-day. He fields some questions about labor injuries and gives some guidance to common questions that railroad workers and other laborers often have.

Jim goes into detail about how the fallout from COVID-19 has affected his business, his lawsuits, and his clients, and how little changes he made in the past ended up protecting his business when the worst happened with the sudden 2020 COVID lockdowns. The idea of safety has changed throughout 2020, and Jim guides Joe and his listeners through the ins and outs of unsafe working conditions due to COVID-19, especially those in regards to union workers and labor forces, as these are the workers who are at the highest risk for the virus and who deserve to be defended the most.

Joe also Mr. McEldrew talk about nursing homes during the pandemic, and how COVID has deeply affected the most vulnerable of American citizens, the elderly. Many complexities have risen up throughout the healthcare and the law professions during 2020, and Jim McEldrew often works at the intersections of these fields, doing his best to bring justice to those who did not receive the proper protection throughout a difficult and convoluted year.

Jim talks about his many years of experience within the labor industry, why he is so passionate about labor workers and unions, and how he ended up working so closely with them for so long and will continue to for years to come!

Joe Dougherty and Jim McEldrew’s full interview again can be found here: Who’sWho in Philly Labor Show Feat. Jim McEldrew, hosted by WWDB, where they are joined by Robyn Lewison of Healthmark Enterprises.

COVID 19 Outbreaks in Nursing Homes Linked to Quality Score

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As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered industries across the nation. One field particularly hard hit has been the nursing home and residential care industry. With hundreds of residents living in close proximity, often people that are highly vulnerable to the virus, alongside their caretakers and center staff, nursing homes across the country have experienced major outbreaks. Many of the residents and their families have suffered as a result.

The unfortunate reality is that however difficult it has been for these kinds of facilities to contain the virus, those that made the effort to fulfill their regular duty of care to their residents performed better at controlling the spread of the virus when it hit. A new study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed a correlation between the quality of care in nursing homes and the spread of COVID-19. They found that facilities that had better federal rating scores were less likely to have major outbreaks.

Correlation Between Quality Of Care and Likelihood of an Outbreak

In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, they announced the findings of their researchers, who discovered a relationship between how good a nursing homes rating by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was, and the facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during outbreaks. Overall, the higher the nursing was rated, the better they were at protecting their residents.

To collect data for the study, researchers used information from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to pinpoint all of the area’s coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes from March through June with outbreaks including any number of cases above one within two weeks. They also used data from CMS’s Nursing Home Compare website, which rates nursing home facilities from one star to five stars based on their health inspections, quality measures, and staff level.

From their data, the CDC found that 14 of the 123 nursing homes they looked at suffered COVID-19 outbreaks. Of these nursing homes, the odds of a coronavirus outbreak happening at a facility with a 2 or 3-star rating was 87% lower than a 1-star facility. Whereas facilities with a 4 or 5-star rating were 94% less likely to have a COVID-19 outbreak. This information could be used to find facilities that are likely to suffer coronavirus outbreaks and be proactive in preventing them.

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Coronavirus Outbreaks in Nursing Homes

During the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been much attention given to the spread of the outbreak in nursing homes. Many nursing homes have failed to contain the spread of the virus in their facilities due to understaffing, unpreparedness, and the increased vulnerability of their residents. A summer CMS report showed that nursing homes and long term care centers reported over 216,000 COVID-19 cases and had an additional 129,000 suspected cases. The confirmed cases resulted in 53,196 coronavirus related deaths up until August when the data was collected.

As a result of these findings, investigators from federal agencies are looking into the possibility that nursing home neglect is a significant factor in the devastating spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and similar facilities, rather than as a natural result of the fundamentals of these types of facilities and the residents that live there. They suspect that a failure of nursing to respond correctly, taking the effort, time, and resources to prevent the virus from spreading between residents when infections do occur may be a larger factor. This means that the residents that entrusted their health and safety to these facilities may have been unnecessarily put at risk.

Railroad Crossing Accidents Targeted By Nationwide NHTSA Campaign

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Recently, highway safety officials from federal agencies have started a multi-million dollar awareness campaign to educate people on the dangers associated with train crossings. They’re doing this partly in reaction to the latest study on railroad crossing accidents, which showed a greater need for efforts to reduce the number of resulting injuries and deaths.

“Stop. Trains Can’t.” is a campaign running nationwide as part of a joint effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). With a budget of over $6 million, funding is being spent to raise awareness on the dangers of railroad crossings by spreading the message via advertisements on digital, radio, and social media channels. The advertisements will urge drivers to be alert to railroad crossing warning devices, like descending gates or flashing lights, that show when a train is nearing. 

The two agencies will be targeting their ads at several areas in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas, where there are an elevated number of higher-risk railroad crossings and fatal collisions. In 2019, accidents at railway crossings led to over 900 deaths. This was an increase on the previous year’s numbers by over 10%. Officials have asserted that these recent numbers are the highest levels recorded in over a decade. 

Why Trains Are So Dangerous

Part of the reason for such elevated death rates and the reason that the campaign is so important is that, according to figures from the NHTSA, a crash involving a train is nearly 20 times more likely to be fatal than an accident with another vehicle. There are a variety of causes for the elevated danger posed by railways, but the primary cause of danger is the massive force caused by the impact of a train, which can weigh anywhere from 4,000 to 20,000 tons.

Not only does the massive size of a train mean the damage from an impact involving one will be massive, but it also means that the train itself is less able to avoid the collision. A train can require more than one mile of the railway to stop, meaning that a train will not be able to stop itself from hitting a vehicle in its way, even if the emergency brakes are used. When you combine this with the fact that trains aren’t maneuverable and can’t turn to avoid a crash, it is entirely up to the operator of the motor vehicle to ensure that they heed warning signs and stay out of the train’s path.

Steps to Reduce Car Collisions

A talking point for the campaign is that the majority of railway crossing fatalities could be avoided if drivers took more precautions around railways. They’re promoting a series of proactive steps that the public should make when nearing railroad crossings to reduce the risk of collision and injury. They say that drivers should:

  • Stop, look both ways, and listen for trains because trains have the right of way and are unable to stop
  • Ensure that they have adequate room to cross the tracks before attempting to cross the railway
  • Stop 5 yards away from the any crossing gates so there’s no chance of crossing entering the track
  • Never ignore crossing alarms or attempt to cross when the gate is lowering
  • Allow the gate to fully raise and signals to stop entirely before crossing
  • Consider the possibility that there is more than one train passing

The agencies involved in this outreach campaign believe that if drivers follow these simple steps, fatalities around the country could be greatly reduced.

McEldrew Young Partner Eric L. Young Named “Lawyer of the Year” for 2020 by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund

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The law firm of McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is pleased to announce that its co-founder and name partner, Eric L. Young, was honored as one of two “Lawyers of the Year” for 2020 at the 20th Annual Conference & Awards Ceremony of the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund (“TAF”). TAF also named James E. Miller of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, as a recipient of the award. TAF is the nation’s preeminent organization dedicated to combatting fraud against the government and advocating for stronger whistleblower protections. It also serves as a significant resource for whistleblowers and their attorneys who bring actions under the federal and state False Claims Acts, as well as the whistleblower programs of the IRS, SEC and CFTC.

Mr. Young and Mr. Miller were honored for their groundbreaking work representing three whistleblowers in two successful qui tam False Claims Act cases against two of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers − Novartis and Teva. Both cases were hard-fought and required substantial investments of time and resources for both law firms. In total, more than 100 depositions were taken across the nation, and over $6 million were advanced for expert fees and investigatory expenses in both cases.

Read more here

Even More Harbor Freight Jack Stands Recalled

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The very recent recalls of the Harbor Freight Steel Jack Stands have brought to light an alarming safety hazard and source of severe injuries that cause over 4,500 injuries each year according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA).

With over 1.7 million Pittsburgh 3-Ton and 6-Ton Jack Stands recalled to potential for severe injury and death from a jack stand collapse remains an incredible risk.  With decades of experience getting justice for injury victims, our jack stand collapse attorneys can help you or a loved one get suitable compensation for their injuries or possible death.  We have always offered a free case evaluation and you won’t pay a dime unless we win.

How Dangerous Are Floor Stand Jacks?

Even without recallable manufacturing defects, jack stands remain a dangerous tool for any business or individual needing to jack a vehicle up for repair.  Over 4,822 people were injured by collapsing jacks annually according to an NHTSA report, with over 96% of the individuals needing to visit the emergency room.  Currently – there is no concise study available on any fatal injuries caused by collapsing jack stands.

Of these 4,800+ injuries, the NHTSA broke them down into the following injury types:

  • 5% – Amputations
  • 40% – Contusions
  • 15% – Fractures
  • 18% – Lacerations
  • 10% – Strains or Sprains
  • 13% – Other Injuries

In over 39% of these cases – the hand, wrist, or fingers were injured by the jack stand collapse.

Our attorneys understand the law surrounding these incidents, and by calling us at 1-800-590-4116 we can help you learn whether or not you have a case with no fees required.

The May 2020 Harbor Freight Jack Stand Recalls 

After years of complaints, the NHTSA finally issued a recall of over 1.7 Million Pittsburgh Automotive® 3-Ton and 6-Ton Heavy-Duty Steel Jack Stands.

Harbor Freight is generally known for producing cheap tools and severe manufacturing defects within their Chinese factory led to the possibility of these stands collapsing suddenly under large loads.  This collapse can result in serious injuries and even death. 

The July 2020 Harbor Freight Jack Stand Recall

Harbor freight put out a new batch of jacks to replace the ones that had to be recalled, however, in July of 2020, just a few months later, the new 3-ton jacks also had to be recalled due to a manufacturing issue. A number of these new jack stands were failing and collapsing as the old batch had, except for a different reason this time. While the exact cause of the manufacturing issue has not been reported, the cause of these collapses is a defect in the welding of the jack stand. In response, the company has issued a recall to cover many of the jacks that people had bought to replace the jacks that had already been recalled.

What Harbor Freight Products Were Recalled?

In March 2020, an initial 454,000 Pittsburgh Automotive 6-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands were recalled by Harbor Freight.  Only months later in May 2020, an additional 3-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands were recalled due to the same manufacturing defect. In July 2020, more 3-Ton Heavy Duty Jack Stands were recalled, due to an issue with the welding which caused them to collapse.

What Manufacturing Defects Caused These Harbor Freight Jack Recalls?

The first two instances of these product recalls were linked to manufacturing defects within a manufacturer called Jiaxing Golden Roc Tools Co., Ltd.  An analysis of these jack stands determined that the product quality was inconsistent due to aged tooling – and due to this the gears used to keep the load aloft are prone to slippage.  In addition an inconsistent location of the main pawl armature hole also caused a margin of error which further exacerbated the issue.

The latest recall was due to a defect in the quality of the welding of load bearing pieces in the jack. When these welded joints received a heavy load, the stress caused them to snap and the jack to collapse, putting Harbor Freight customers in danger again due to twisting metal and falling loads.

This kind of welding defect could have a number of causes. If the joints don’t get hot enough when they’re formed, several issues could occur. For welding to be done successfully, both of the pieces have to be hot. This is because welding is basically fusing together two pieces of metal, until they become combined on the molecular level, if one of the pieces is too cold, that means it’s material won’t be altered enough to accept the fusing. The outcome of this is that if both pieces aren’t adequately heated at the same time, you’re essentially sticking one piece of metal onto another instead of fusing them together, creating a weak joint.

The failures of the July 3-Ton Jack Stand could also be due to cracking. This is a common defect that happens within the joints of the weld. It happens when the heated metal gets cooled rapidly, causing a build up of stress that makes cracks appear in the metal. A common process, annealing, is used to prevent this kind of issue from happening. By reheating the weld to a lower temperature than the original one and allowing the metal to then naturally cool, the metal refuses but undergoes less stress while cooling. Of course, cutting corners on these product quality steps is one way that suppliers and manufacturers are able to cut costs, unfortunately, the result is that the customer on the receiving end can be put at unnecessary risk.

Weld problems could also be a result of distortions, oxidation, slag, and corrosion, many issues that can be caused by poor quality base metals.

With such a large load depending on these jack stands, even a small defect can have catastrophic responses for those individuals working around the lifted load. 

How Were The Defective Harbor Freight Jack Stands Failing?

If affected by the May defect, the ratchet teeth on the jack stand lifting extension were inconsistency engaging the pawl, which provides the support for the load.  Due to the manufacturing defects these ratchet teeth were not engaging at an appropriate depth which could cause sudden slippage.

While under load, potential shifts in weight were causing these gear teeth to slip suddenly, which would cause the jack stand to collapse and potentially injure any bystanders. 

In the case of the July defect, the top stand that holds the arm of the jack is also the place where the teeth and levering action are located, because of the pyramid shape of the stand, the top of the stand had to be fused by welding. However, because this is where the levering action is located and where the arm meets the base, the area has to absorb a lot of stress, and the welds could not handle it and would fail, causing the entire jack to collapse.

How Can Our Jack Stand Collapse Attorneys Help You?

Our team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have helped bring justice to hundreds of individuals that were injured through no fault of their own.  Our team provides a free consultation so we can help you understand whether or not your injuries deserve compensation.  Throughout the entire process – you won’t pay a single dime.  We don’t charge any fee unless we win your case.

If you or a loved one owns or has been injured by a jack stand collapse, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately at 1-800-590-4116 so we can help you determine whether or not you have a case.

Fiat Chrysler SUVs and Minivans Recalled Due to Projectile Hazard During Airbag Deployment

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Another year has brought another massive vehicle recall due to defective airbags. On July 13, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall of 1.2 million Fiat Chrysler minivans and SUVs due to a defect which has already resulted in at least 14 reports of injury. The airbag covers of the recalled 2007–11 Dodge Nitro SUVs and 2008–10 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans are secured by defective clips, many of which have loosened over time to turn themselves and the plastic emblems they hold into projectiles.

This recall comes on the heels of the 6-years-and-counting saga of Takata’s airbag recall, involving 56 million vehicles made by 19 different automakers in what the NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” As many as 15.9 million defective Takata airbags still remain on the road, resulting in occasional tragedies like the story of 17-year-old Huma Hanif, whose neck was cut by a piece of metal ejected from a faulty airbag inflator, causing her to bleed to death. Her family claims that they were never contacted about the recall.

How Defective Product Law Protects Drivers

Federal laws cover manufacturing defects, design defects and communication about known product dangers, ensuring consumers of a basic right to the implied safety of a purchased product. When you buy a product and use it in the proper way, these laws are there to protect you from unexpected harm. 

On the other side of the equation, consumer safety laws aim to keep everyone in the manufacturing and supply chain honest, applying equally to manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Companies have an obligation to design and manufacture safe products — and when they fail to do so, you have a right to seek action. 

Vehicle Makers Are Held to an Especially High Standard

Product law requires automobile manufacturers to go to great lengths to ensure that every car they produce performs well under typical driving conditions, and mitigates injury in the event of a crash. There is even the added burden of crashworthiness, which requires a car’s designers and manufacturers to look ahead to the human consequences of all types of driver outcomes. This is one of the reasons that auto makers use devices like crash test dummies in simulating crashes.

Since airbags were first required in new passenger vehicles at the start of the 1999 model year, they have been a big part of that safety. Front airbags have been shown to reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29 percent and front-seat passenger deaths (provided they are 13 or older) by 32 percent. Side airbags reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by 52 percent.

The heightened safety that airbags deliver has become an expectation — which makes it all the more tragic when airbag defects end up causing injury instead of preventing it.

What Types of Injuries Can Defective Airbags Inflict?

While the Fiat Chrysler airbag issue is still unfolding, more is known about the ramifications of Takata’s airbag issue, which has so far claimed the lives of 24 people worldwide while injuring hundreds.

Airbags come out of their housing at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, and must be held to a high design and manufacturing standard. When they fail, injuries can include:

  • Broken bones, skull fractures and brain injury
  • Chemical burns from the gas propellant used for inflation
  • Deep cuts and hemorrhaging from projectiles and shrapnel
  • Blindness caused by exploding airbags

Source: Wikipedia, shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

When to Consult with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer

At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have over 30 years of experience in litigating product liability cases. We take all claims on a contingency basis, and will only charge you attorney fees if we are able to obtain financial compensation for your losses. Our experience comes in handy when connecting cases with the right expert witnesses, which can be invaluable in demonstrating the validity of a claim.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt welcomes clients local to our Philadelphia offices and those from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and further afield. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-866-694-5578.

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