Citing his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination, an engineer for Takata Corp. is refusing to testify in a defective airbag lawsuit filed by a woman rendered paralyzed in a 2014 crash. drive7

Accident victims say the airbag manufacturing company, based in Japan, withheld or altered test results both prior to and after the company’s airbag inflators started exploding, firing shrapnel into drivers and passengers when they deployed during crashes.

In preparation for trial, plaintiff attorneys sought testimony during the deposition phase from a man named Al Bernat. He’s an auto safety specialist at the firm, and he’s considered a key witness on a number of those aforementioned tests. However, he says his lips are zipped, citing his constitutional right not to be forced to testify to facts that might result in a criminal prosecution against him.  Continue reading

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports 20 percent of all auto accidents occur in commercial parking lots. Mostly, these will involve property damage and perhaps minor injury. parkinglot1

However, where pedestrians are involved, injuries may be serious.

There is generally a false sense of security while navigating parking lots. It’s part of an everyday routine. But that also means people often aren’t paying attention. Drivers are adjusting their radios, pedestrians are pushing carts, a child darts out in front of his mother. In a split second, everything can change.  Continue reading

The vast majority of car accident claims and lawsuits result in a settlement. That is, the cases never make it to the trial phase because the attorneys on both sides work out a deal that is fair on both ends and saves the expense and time of presenting the case to a jury. The settlement is approved by a judge, and that’s usually the end of it.caraccident7

However, it’s important in this process to have a competent lawyer who is mindful of future claims that may arise. The language in a settlement agreement could preclude plaintiff from making further claims – even against others who aren’t specifically named in the settlement agreement.

This is what happened a recent South Dakota Supreme Court case, Gores v. Miller Continue reading

If you rent – as opposed to own – your residence, there is a strong chance you’re paying more for car insurance. carinsurance

That’s according to a new study conducted by the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization. Researchers discovered most major auto insurance companies will charge good drivers almost 50 percent more for basic liability insurance if they do not own their home.

The national average was 7 percent higher, though some insurance companies were worse than others. Liberty Mutual, for example, slapped renters with a 19 percent higher premium than homeowners – specifically because they were renters. That amounts to more than $300 a year.  Continue reading

Another airbag recall – plus an expansion of an older ones – involves more than 9 million vehicles collectively, meaning many more drivers and passengers are at risk than previously thought.carcrash6

Japanese manufacturer Takata, after years of dragging its feet and concealing the problem from regulators and consumers, finally issued a recall of 4,000 exploding airbags in 2008. But the problem was much, much bigger. By last year, there would be 14 automakers involved in the recall of 24 million cars. Millions of those are still on the road, and now, more manufacturers and newer models are being added to the list, including late-model Hondas and Acuras, as well as Volkswagens, BMWs and Daimler AGs.

On top of that, two car makers have announced they will recall another 5 million globally for defective airbags supplied by German company Continental Automotive. That defect involves a corrosive element inside that could result in the airbag failing to deploy or deploying inadvertently. Continue reading

The deaths of three people – a 2-year-old, her young mother and a 13-year-old boy – didn’t need to happen. Those who survive them say there were numerous points at which the tragedy could have been prevented. caraccident7

Maybe if the drivers of two other vehicles hadn’t been racing at speeds of nearly 90 mph. Maybe if the racing driver who wasn’t struck hadn’t sped away without offering help or calling an ambulance. Maybe if the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NDOT) had installed a traffic light at the intersection where it happened.

That last point was the issue being decided in the recent case of Holt v. NCDOT, recently before the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In weighing an appeal by the state of a $3 million damage award to the families of the decedents, the appeals court ruled in plaintiff’s favor, affirming the award.  Continue reading

Traffic deaths are up across the country, with the Carolinas being no exception. moneycar

Preliminary numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated car accident fatalities had risen more than 8 percent in the first six months of 2015 as compared to 2014.

In North Carolina, death by vehicle incidents shot up by 19 percent in the first six months of last year, with at least 634 people killed from January to June 2015, compared to 531 the year before. It was an even worse start to the year in South Carolina, where state officials reported a 21 percent increase, from 436 deaths in six months in 2014 compared to 518 in 2015.  Continue reading

Eight students were hospitalized following a recent school bus accident in Charlotte on Barrington Drive. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photographs of the site, published by, show the front of Charlotte-Mecklenburg school bus sheered off by a tree, with the front right wheel smashed sideways against the trunk.

Authorities say the crash happened when the driver of a Cadillac Escalade approached the Barrington Drive intersection and failed to stop at the red traffic light. The bus was traveling through the intersection at the same time, and the Escalade struck the left front side of the bus. The bus then careened off the right side of the road, striking two trees and coming to a rest. Meanwhile, the Escalade caught fire.  Continue reading

Poor road conditions in South Carolina have posed serious risks to motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians in recent years. In fact, the problem has been so bad that The Greenville News reports the State Insurance Reserve Fund has doled out $30 million in six years for damage claims resulting from bad roads. That breaks down to an average of $5 million annually. pothole

Claims against the state Department of Transportation (DOT) primarily are the result of alleged road defects.

This information became available in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and then subsequent lawsuit filed by a local businessman in Greenville. The case ultimately resulted in the production of 32 pages detailing the state’s resolved claims from January 2005 through December 2010. There are also a few incidents wherein the claims resolved in the 1990s. Many of these claims involve damage to vehicles, including those that result from defects like potholes, but also injury and even deaths resulting from accidents caused by roadway defects.  Continue reading

Roadside vegetation can make travel a bit more pleasant with beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, depending on where it is an how large it is, it can also create a significant hazard to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. bushroad1

The responsibility for maintenance of overgrown vegetation can be two-fold: The government and the property owner. The government has a duty to make sure the roadways are safe, and that means making sure drivers can see signs, oncoming traffic and other important road features. There is also the duty of the property owner to make sure overgrown bushes, trees or grass on their property isn’t impeding the roadway or obstructing the vision of drivers or other travelers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Safety Administration encourages roadway agencies to develop roadside vegetation management plans that clearly define what has to be done at each location. That means making sure there is:

  • Sign visibility
  • Clear sight lines
  • Proper drainage
  • Road sign visibility
  • Making sure roadside trees don’t pose a hazard by creating a “clear zone”
  • Clearing winter snow and ice from trees that overhang the roadway

Continue reading

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