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.

Five Killed and 60 Hospitalized After Tragic Pennsylvania Turnpike Crash

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A tragic accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning left five dead and over 60 injured when a passenger bus with Z&D Tour Inc. lost control around a turn and set off a chain-reaction which involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle.

Police say that the bus was not able to get around a particularly tight turn, went up an embankment and flipped between the exits for New Stanton and Breezewood.  This set off a chain reaction which led to the horrific amount of injuries sustained, in what the spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Carl DeFebo called “the worst accident in his decades-long tenure with the turnpike.”. 

UPS confirmed that two of their drivers were killed in the accident:

Sadly, UPS confirms the identities of two of our drivers who are victims of this tragic incident. Daniel Kepner, age 53, had 5 years of service, and, Dennis Kehler, age 48, had 28 years of service. Both were driving together in a tractor-trailer vehicle out of our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, operating center. Our drivers will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. This is all of the information available at this time,”

FedEx and Z&D Tour Inc. have so far declined to comment beyond that they are cooperating with authorities.

Trucking Accidents in Pennsylvania Cause Serious Injuries

There are thousands of fatal accidents each year caused by trucks and tractor-trailers, and sadly Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of trucking accidents in the US. Victims overloaded local hospitals and staff, having prepared for mass casualty plans, were able to handle the influx of victims, and provide the necessary treatment for their injuries.

Multiple patients had to be treated at Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital for neurosurgical issues, abdominal injuries, brain bleeds, contusions, and fractures from this Sunday’s accident, and staff from Forbes reported that their training for such an event had paid off.

Trucking accidents can cause serious injuries compared to standard vehicles, and almost 98% of the time a collision occurs between a large truck and a passenger vehicle the passenger sustains catastrophic injuries.

What or Who Exactly Caused The Tractor-Trailer Crash on The PA Turnpike?

While the bus from Z&D Tour Inc. has been identified as the first car in the crash, authorities have yet to determine what exactly caused the pile-up, and they say it can take weeks or months to determine.  While the weather can certainly be a factor, it’s still too early too determine whether it is a factor.

The bus that initially flipped was heading from Chinatown in New York City to Cincinnati.  

Finding The Right Attorney If You Or A Loved One Has Been In A Tractor Trailer Accident

With the severity of injuries that trucking accidents cause to passenger vehicles, it’s important that you make sure your medical costs immediately after the accident, and following the accident are covered.  

At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we understand the complexities that are associated with these catastrophic accidents, and we provide comprehensive counsel to those who have suffered injuries due to trucking or multi-vehicle accidents.  Our team can take care of all types of serious and catastrophic injury claims, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, burns, paralysis, and amputation or loss of limb and remove the stress from your family to help you focus on recovering from your injuries.

 McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt has won over $200,000,000 for our clients in various personal injury cases, and our team has worked directly with dozens of trucking cases involving commercial vehicles.

We take a vested interest in your case and you won’t pay a dime unless we win.  In many cases, we can advance the expenses necessary to help you find treatment and work with medical experts in order to properly diagnose your injuries, and how they’ll impact your life going forward.

Don’t hesitate to contact our team or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116 to speak directly to our team.

 

2.7 Million GM Trucks and SUVs Could Have Defective Brakes

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GM Trucks and SUVs Could Have Defective Brakes

The U.S. government is investigating General Motors (GM) big pickup trucks and SUVs due to faulty braking systems. Roughly 2.7 million vehicles sold in the U.S. may be affected by the issue, so if you own a GM truck or SUV, here is what you need to know.

NTSB Details Tesla’s Role in First Self-Driving Car Fatality

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a hearing today concerning the Florida self-driving car accident in May 2016 that resulted in the nation’s first fatality involving an auto-driving system. According to media reports, the semi-autonomous driving system had a “major role” in the crash because of “operational limitations.”

Update on NHTSA Whistleblower Rules

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to publish the proposed rules for the NHTSA whistleblower program. This whistleblower program was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in December 2015.

Eric Young Interviewed on Auto Whistleblowers by Corporate Crime Reporter

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Eric Young was interviewed for the January 16, 2017 edition of the Corporate Crime Reporter on the new auto whistleblower reward program established by Congress in 2015 as part of the FAST Act. With Takata and VW paying large fines to the U.S. Government in the past two weeks, it is a timely read.

VW to Pay Record Fine to Resolve Dieselgate

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Reuters is reporting that Volkswagen AG and the Justice Department are near an agreement to resolve criminal and civil liability for the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. If the reported $3 billion figure is finalized, it will be the largest fine ever paid by an automaker to the U.S. Government.

One Year Later, No NHTSA Whistleblower Rules Announcement

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When Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act as part of the FAST Act last December, it gave the Transportation Department 18 months to implement the regulations for the new whistleblower statute. A year later, there has been no public notice soliciting feedback on the new rules.

Self-Driving Cars to Meet Personal Injury Lawyers

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S with its Autopilot system engaged in May. The car occupant’s death is the first involving a self-driving car. The debate over who is responsible for the car accident could impact the future of both the technology and plaintiff’s attorneys.

US Announces $15 Billion VW Settlement

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The Environmental Protection Agency announced a massive settlement (between $14.7 and $15.3 billion) by Volkswagen in a press release today. More fines could be in the works as the EPA is still considering civil fines under the Clean Air Act and the Department of Justice is still investigating the automaker for potential criminal charges.

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