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Monday, March 31, 2008

Ex-MLB Player Sued for Wrongful Death

Former major league baseball player, Jim Leyritz, has been sued for wrongful death. This stems from an accident in December that left a 30-year-old woman dead, and Leyritz charged with DUI manslaughter and DUI property damage. Leyritz allegedly ran a red light and plowed his Ford Expedition into a Mitsubishi Montero, driven by Fredia Ann Veitch. Veitch was ejected and died at Broward General Medical Center. She was leaving her job as a bartender to return to her family. Leyritz bonded out of jail after being held for nine hours and has pleaded not guilty to all charges, but had a BAC of .14 above the legal limit of .08. He has also admitted that he was driving the car.

The suit, filed by the family of Veitch, seeks at least $15,000 in damages. The Veitch family attorney, Howard L. Pomerantz, stated, "Leyritz is personally guilty of intentional misconduct and/or gross negligence." Veitch was allegedly driving over the limit as well, but Pomerantz said her condition will have "no bearing" in the wrongful death suit.

If you have been injured, or lost a loved one, due to the negligence of someone driving under the influence, please contact an experienced injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 12:16 PM

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scores Injured in Runaway Freight Car Collision

A freight train came loose from a lumberyard and rolled onto a commuter track in Boston on Tuesday. At least 150 people, including the engineer, suffered minor injuries. The collision occurred on the main line at Canton Junction.

In the 911 tapes released, train engineer Ronald Gomes can be heard asking the dispatcher for instructions as the freight car rolled toward the commuter train. Gomes began to back the train up and was hit moments later. The impact sent him to the ground where he then radioed in an emergency.

In another tape released, an employee from the lumberyard called Stoughton police to tell them that a freight car got loose, and warned them it was on the commuter line. It took fifteen minutes for the freight car to hit the commuter train.

Eighty of the 150 passengers injured were sent to area hospitals with bruises, facial cuts, and neck and back injuries.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a train accident, please contact an experienced injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 8:28 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

$82.6 Million Award Upheld for Woman Injured in SUV Rollover

The 4th District Court of Appeals in California has upheld damages awarded to a San Diego woman paralyzed when her Ford Explorer flipped. Benetta Buell-Wilson's back was crushed in June, 2002 when she swerved to avoid something in the road. A passenger side wheel lifted off the ground, the SUV fishtailed, and then rolled four and a half times.

Buell-Wilson's lawsuit against Ford alleges that the Explorer's design was flawed due to a high center of gravity and low wheelbase. This made it prone to rollover accidents. The suit also alleges that the Explorer had a weak roof. Buell-Wilson's suit contends that Ford new about the flaws, but did nothing to fix them.

San Diego Superior Court awarded Buell-Wilson and her husband $369 million. $246 million of this was for punitive damages. This was the first verdict against Ford in an Explorer rollover case. The automobile company had previously won at least 12 other rollover cases. This award was reduced to $150 million in 2004. The judge in the case, Kevin A. Enright, agreed with the jury that there was evidence to support the claim that Ford knew of design flaws, but did nothing about it. In 2006, the award was reduced again, this time to $82.6 million. The reason given was that the punitive damages were "excessive" and violated the state law's ban on awards that are the result of "passion or prejudice."

An attorney for Ford says they plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, or further to the U.S. Supreme Court should the need arise.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in an SUV rollover, please contact an experienced injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 8:50 AM

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tejano Music Star Critically Injured in Bus Crash

Grammy Award-winning Tejano singer Emilio Navaira, known to his fans simply as Emilio, underwent emergency brain surgery after being critically injured in a bus crash yesterday morning in Houston.

The bus was carrying Navaira and his band when it hit traffic barrels on the Southwest Freeway on Easter morning. Navaira was taken by helicopter to Memorial Herman Hospital. Of the seven other members of Navaira's band, two were taken to Memorial Hermann, treated and released, and the other five were taken to Ben Taub Hospital. Two of the five are listed in critical condition.

At this point, police are unsure who was driving the bus or what caused the accident. Theories of the driver falling asleep, missing a turn on the ramp where the accident occurred, or being intoxicated are all possibilities, according to the police.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a bus accident, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 8:00 AM

Friday, March 21, 2008

Woman’s Traumatic Accident Leads to Creation of New Law

An accident that occurred in February 2004 has ushered in the creation of a new law in Washington. Called "Maria's Law," it increased the penalty for causing injury or death as a result of failing to secure a load. Instead of being a minor traffic citation with a maximum $250 fine it is now a gross misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Maria's Accident

The accident was caused by a piece of particleboard from an entertainment system that had fallen from a U-Haul trailer onto I-405. The piece of wood became airborne and crashed through the windshield of 24-year-old Maria Federici's Jeep Liberty. It glanced off the steering wheel and hit her in the face. As a result of the accident, Ferderici suffered brain damage, the loss of both eyes, and her sense of taste and smell. She requires a service dog and looks little like she did before the accident due to multiple surgeries.

The entertainment system was secured to the U-Haul by improvising ratchet strips to the outside. This was done because there was a lack of internal tie-down points inside the trailer. The driver, James Hefley, rented the U-Haul and did not stop when the entertainment system fell out. He was eventually found through a thumbprint on the particleboard and arrested.

Verdict

A jury eventually found that both Hefley and U-Haul were to blame for the accident and awarded Federici and her mother $15.51 million. Hefley has filed for bankruptcy, and U-Haul is appealing the verdict. Federici's lawyer stated, "We believe this result is appropriate because U-Haul manufactured the unsafe open trailer and rented it to Hefley without any guidance on load securement."

Maria's Law has already been used in the prosecution of two men who caused a fatal accident as the result of an unsecured load.

If you, or a loved one, have been involved in an auto accident due to someone's unsecured load, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 11:42 AM

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New SUV Safety Ratings Released

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released another round of SUV safety ratings, and while the news is better, it isn't good for all SUVs. The tests involved nine 4-door midsized models and how the vehicles responded to front, rear, and side crashes. The good news is that SUV safety is improving.

Test Results

Testing in 2001 showed only half of the SUVs tested earned good ratings in frontal crashes. This latest round showed all midsized models, except the Hummer H3, earning good ratings. The worst performers in side tests were the Kia Sorento, Jeep Liberty, and Jeep Wrangler 4-door. The best side crash performers were the Mazda CX-7 and CX-9, as well as the Mitsubishi Endeavor. However, the Mazdas and the Endeavor didn't fare as well with rear-end crash testing.

People often believe they will be safer in an SUV if they are involved in an accident. The IIHS looked at what injuries can occur when the SUV is struck from different positions. Head, neck, and chest protection were evaluated and the vehicles were given a rating. Those models that earned poor side crash ratings are SUVs that lack side airbags, which protect the torso.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

IIHS added ESC to their crash test research in 2007. ESC is a control system made up of sensors that continuously monitors how the vehicle responds to steering input. ESC then applies brakes and modulates an engine's power to keep the SUV traveling on the path the driver has indicated. IIHS research has shown that ESC reduces the risk of single-vehicle accidents ending in a fatality by 56% and multiple-vehicle accidents ending in a fatality by 32%. This feature also reduces single-vehicle rollovers by 80%. ECS is still an option in most SUVs, but the Nissan Murano has made it standard. This helped the Murano win the "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS.

The Good News

Institute senior vice president Joe Nolan states that there is good news, even for the models that earned poor ratings in one or more category. Safety on these vehicles is improving, especially because more SUVs are equipped with ESC. And manufacturers of SUVs have moved quickly to add safety features, including side airbags.

If you, or a loved one, are in an auto accident involving an SUV, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 2:40 PM

Monday, March 17, 2008

Crane Collapse Kills Five, Injures 24 in New York City

A crane collapsed in New York City on Saturday, smashing into a high-rise and crushing a brownstone below. Five construction workers are confirmed dead and two people are missing, including a woman who was visiting a friend for St. Patrick's Day.

It is unknown at this point what caused the crane to collapse, but Mayor Bloomberg states that mechanical failure or human error may be to blame. The crane, which was attached to an apartment building under construction, was inspected on Friday. On Saturday, it was being lengthened with a new section when it fell more than 20 stories. The company that manages the crane believes a piece of steel fell, which then sliced through the tie holding the crane to the apartment building. Witnesses said they could see people hanging onto the crane as it crashed into the apartment and brownstone.

Site Has Violations

Though Mayor Bloomberg does not believe other cranes in the city are in danger of collapsing, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer thinks Bloomberg should form a task force to inspect major construction sites. Over the past 27 months, the city has issued 13 violations to the construction site where the crane fell. In response to this, Bloomberg stated, "Every large construction site has violations."

Until more is known about the crane collapse, family members of the dead, as well as those whose homes were destroyed will have to wait to find out why this happened.

If you have lost a loved one or suffered an injury due to a construction site accident, please contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to find out your legal options.

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posted by Neil at 10:51 AM

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sheriff’s Deputy Killed in Collision with Truck

An undercover sheriff's deputy was killed when his SUV was hit by a box truck in Houston. Authorities say Deputy Craig Miller was killed instantly when the truck failed to yield to oncoming traffic.

The truck, driven by Jose Vieyra, allegedly crossed three lanes of traffic after leaving a car dealership when it his Miller's SUV. Vieyra was charged with criminally negligent homicide, but the prosecutor on the case may reconsider the charges. Vieyra is an illegal immigrant who was working on an expired work visa at the time of the accident.

Miller's family may not receive all the benefits they would otherwise have because Miller's toxicology report states his blood alcohol content was .27, more than twice the legal limit. Though Miller's family is disputing the allegation, especially since he never had any problems on the job in his 20 years of service, the case has become more than simply a tragic accident.

However, at heart, this is still a probable case of wrongful death. Authorities state Vieyra's negligence caused Miller's death.

If you have lost a loved one due to driver negligence, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer
in your area.

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posted by Neil at 12:02 PM

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jury Awards $22.5 Million in Injury Case

Thirty-eight year old Dawn Renae Diaz was awarded $22.5 million for injuries sustained in a 2006 auto accident in Ventura County, California. Prior to her injuries, Diaz was the head emergency-room nurse at Community Memorial Hospital.

Diaz was travelling south on Highway 101 when a collision occurred between a speeding Peterbilt box truck and a pickup truck travelling in the opposite direction. The collision caused the pickup to cross the center divider where it landed on top of Diaz's car. Diaz suffered severe brain injuries, was in a coma for two and a half months, and now has difficulty walking and speaking, and suffers double vision. She also requires around the clock care.

Defendants    

The defendants in the case are Jose Gerardo Carcamo, who drove the Peterbilt truck, and piockup truck driver, Karen Tagliaferri. The jury found that the two shared responsibility for the accident. Also at fault is Carcamo's employer, Sugar Transport of the Northwest. Sugar Transport has admitted that they did not give safety training to any of their drivers. Furthermore, Carcamo's previous employer had told Sugar Transport that he was fired for being an unsafe driver. Sugar Transport testified they hired Caracamo because they "needed to put bodies behind the wheel."

Dawn Renae Diaz

Over the course of the five-week trial, Diaz's former co-workers, including doctors and nurses, testified Diaz was a dedicated and hardworking caregiver. She started working in the hospital as a clerk, but when her potential was seen, she was encouraged to go to nursing school. Diaz had been working as a nurse for the last 12 years. She now lives with her mother in a mobile home. And she has lost custody of her daughter, Mikeala, because she is a single mother and can no longer care for her due to her injuries.

Of the $22.5 million award, $16 million will cover past and future medical and nursing care, and will help to cover the cost of a nanny for Mikeala. The rest of the award was given for physical pain, mental suffering, past medical expenses and lost wages.

If you, or a loved one, have suffered injuries sustained in an auto accident due to driver negligence, please contact an experienced injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 2:56 PM

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pedestrian Vs. Auto a Lose-Lose Situation

Every week, newspapers and newscasts across the country report on pedestrians who are injured and killed as a result of being struck by a vehicle. In rural and urban areas, on suburban streets, and even highways, lives are changed in an instant. Though the percentage of pedestrian fatalities and injuries is down from those ten years earlier, the numbers are still in the thousands.

2006 Statistics (from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration)

  • 42,642 pedestrians injured
  • 4,748 pedestrians killed
  • Every nine minutes, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident
  • Every 110 minutes, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident

The NHTSA statistics also show that a majority of pedestrian fatalities (74%) occurred in urban areas; 79% at non-intersect areas; 90% in normal weather conditions; and 69% at night.

While there are many occasions in which the pedestrians are at fault, drivers are taught to be especially careful when people who are walking or riding bikes are around. However, pedestrians must be aware of traffic around them, and act safely.

Safety Reminders

  • Drivers must yield right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the street in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Drivers must be extra cautious when turning at intersections, and where yielding right-of-way usually occurs.


     

    Pedestrians:

  • Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.
  • Cross at designated crosswalks and look both ways before crossing.
  • Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight or wearing retro-reflective clothing, which will highlight body movement.

Auto/pedestrian accidents happen for a variety of reasons, and at a variety of locations and times of day. However, determining the level of driver negligence also determines who might be at fault.

Driver Negligence

  • Driver fails to pay attention
  • Driver is speeding
  • Driver fails to stop at crosswalks and give pedestrians right-of-way
  • Driver has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs

And those pedestrians harmed by a vehicle can suffer a number of debilitating injuries, such as broken bones, brain or back injuries, and mental distress – as well being killed.

If you, or a loved one, has been struck by a vehicle and injured through driver negligence, please contact an experienced injury lawyer
in your area.

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posted by Neil at 11:40 AM

Friday, March 7, 2008

School Bus Accident Injuries Don’t Have to Happen

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 474,000 school buses take 25.1 million students to and from school each year. And, on average, fewer than eight passengers are killed in accidents involving school buses each year. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, this makes riding a school bus one of the safest modes of vehicle transportation in the country. Yet, the NHTSA also shows that, up through 2005, 8,000 students were injured each year in school bus accidents. This is a much smaller number when compared to the hundreds of thousands of injuries reported each year in other motor vehicle accidents, but several groups are looking at ways to make this number even smaller – or perhaps eliminate it altogether.

Federal law does not require students to wear seatbelts, but several states such as California, Texas, and New York require them. There have been several accidents reported lately in the media involving school buses, in which students have been injured or killed in states where seatbelts are not required.

  • A bus driver ran a traffic signal in Harrisonburg, Virginia, hitting a car and another school bus. 28 people were injured.
  • North of Atlanta, Georgia, a school bus overturned injuring several high school and middle school students. Some students suffered head and neck injuries.
  • In Cottonwood, Minnesota, a school bus hit a van, then a pickup, before rolling over, killing four students and injuring 14.
  • In Washington, D.C., a school bus driver turned too fast, causing the school bus to flip. Five middle school students were injured.

In November 2007, before these accidents, Secretary Peters proposed higher seat backs and seat belts standards on all school buses. While it is unclear if seat belts would have saved the lives of the students killed in Minnesota, most of the injured might have walked away had they been wearing them.

It isn't just the accidents themselves parents and others are concerned about, but what causes them. Driver error is certainly a factor, not just with bus drivers, but with other drivers as well. However, school buses are large vehicles, and when they roll, there is a lot of room inside for students to bounce around, if they are not wearing seatbelts. Perhaps changing the Federal law will make a difference, but there is the assumption that, even without seatbelts, students will get to school safely. It's the obligation of the drivers and school districts to make sure this happens.

If your child has been injured in a school bus accident through negligence or carelessness, please contact an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your case.

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posted by Neil at 11:54 AM

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Traffic Accidents Cost U.S. Motorists $160 Billion a Year

A new AAA report shows that auto accidents cost U.S. motorists $160 billion a year. This includes costs to property damage, lost earnings, medical costs, emergency services, delays in travel, and legal fees. The report states works out to $1,051 per person, nearly double the losses from the common gripe of highway congestion, which costs $430 per person.

While the AAA report shows the average cost per person, it also shows residents of smaller cities face a larger burden of per-person costs. Accidents in the Little Rock-North Little Rock, Arkansas region cost $1.4 billion, or $2,258 per person, while New York City's region costs $18 billion, or $962 per person.

Because so many auto accidents happen a year, killing and injuring thousands of people, most do not consider them a major problem unless personally involved. However, AAA president, Robert L. Darbelnet, says, "It's time for motor vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are." AAA is pushing lawmakers to make safety a higher priority in their transportation planning, as well as impose stiffer penalties on drunken and impaired driving. AAA also hopes more states pass seat belt laws to save more lives.

When you are involved in an auto accident, it will cost you something, even if it's only time out of your day. However, when you are involved in more serious accidents, those costs can turn into real financial strains. If you feel that you were involved in an auto accident where the other party's neglect was to blame, you have the right to compensation, especially if your injuries caused you to lose wages, or more. Please contact the Accident Lawyers Network to find an experienced lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 8:23 AM

Monday, March 3, 2008

$6.5 Million Award Upheld by Appeals Court in Soldier’s Death

In 2004, 21-year-old Army Pvt. Van Ryan Marcum was half way through his 14-week basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. As he leaned against an abandoned latrine after a firing range exercise, he was electrocuted and died.

Investigators found there was a short in a fan's wiring, a faulty circuit breaker, and that the latrine was not sufficiently grounded. The private contractor, The Shaw Group, based out of Baton Rouge, was in charge of maintenance and repair on Ft. Benning, including the latrine.

Marcum's family filed a wrongful death suit against The Shaw Group, and a jury awarded them $6.5 million for mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of life. The Shaw Group countered, claiming it was not responsible because the Army gave them an extension on the demolition of the latrine. They also claim that the judge in the case made a mistake in giving the rules to the jury.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis disagreed with The Shaw Group, and upheld the jury's earlier ruling. The Court of Appeals states they support the jury's verdict "that an appreciable risk from harm was foreseeable, including electrocution."

We all know that there are risks involved during the basic training phase of those who join the military. However, family members also expect some degree of care to be taken, as well as given, to the soldiers who volunteer. What is not expected is that soldiers, like Pvt. Marcum, will be electrocuted on the firing range. If negligence is found, then the families have a right to seek compensation.

If you, or a loved one, feel that you are entitled to compensation resulting from a wrongful death, please contact the Accident Lawyers Network to find an experienced injury lawyer in your area.

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posted by Neil at 9:43 AM

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