March 16, 2010

Chrysler Recalls Minivans for Airbag Defects

Chrysler has issues an auto product defect recall for more than 355,500 minivans because of a defective airbag sensor, which could cause the airbag to fail in the event of a car accident. According to a news report, Chrysler's recall scheduled to begin in June, covers 355,562 of its 2005-2006 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, including 259,437 in the United States and 72,035 in Canada.

Chrysler officials said they found that one of the front airbag crash sensors could crack under certain environmental conditions and allow water to enter the sensor causing the sensor to become inoperative. So far, no injuries or fatalities relating to these defects have been reported. If the front crash sensors become inoperative in these vehicles, the driver will be warned by the airbag warning light. However, until the vehicle is repaired, the occupants of the vehicle may not receive protection in the event of a car crash.

Airbag defects can result in devastating injuries or even death. Thanks to modern vehicle technology, airbags are an important safety feature in all vehicles today and if they function the way they are supposed to, they definitely offer enhanced protection to the vehicle's occupants. The most common airbag defects in vehicles are failure to deploy and unintentional deployment – which means they deploy when they are not supposed to deploy. Both of these occurrences may result in serious injuries.

If you suspect an airbag malfunction caused your serious injuries or caused your car accident, please contact a reputable Seattle auto accident law firm. Make sure you preserve the vehicle in its current condition, in tact, so it can be examined by an expert for any evidence of product defects. Doing away with the vehicle may destroy the only evidence you may have in an auto products liability case.

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March 2, 2010

Seattle Toyota Auto Accident Victim's Case Raises Questions

Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles over auto product defects – primarily sticky gas pedals, defective floor mats that can slip and jam the accelerator, and brake issues. Based on news reports, outside experts even speculate that electromagnetic interference may have caused several incidents of unintended acceleration in recalled Toyota models. Now, the auto maker is facing a government inquiry over whether it tried to delay or avoid a recall in the first place.

Parents of a Seattle resident are one of many who are asking questions about how and why their son died. According to a KOMO News report, like many injured victims or grieving families, the bereaved parents are wondering whether sudden acceleration caused by a sticky gas pedal in the victim’s Toyota Tundra may have caused the fatal car accident on Oct. 17, 2007. The crash occurred when the pickup truck inexplicably crashed head-on into a tree.

Recently this victim’s parents found out that his Tundra was on the recall list as well. They now rightly believe that had Toyota paid attention to the problem, recalled the vehicles and fixed the defects, their son would have been alive.

Toyota's recall comes too late for those in situations similar to this family’s. It is too little too late for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries potentially as a result of the unintended acceleration problem. It is too late for those drivers who have been sent to prison because their car went out of control and injured or killed someone. Seattle personal injury attorneys understand that there have been several car accident cases nationwide where drivers tried convincing juries that it was not them, but their car that was to blame. But no one believed them. Some of those cases are now being reviewed by local prosecutors in different parts of the country.

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February 24, 2010

Toyota and Federal Government Knew about Product Defects for Years

State Farm Insurance Company officials are saying that they alerted federal safety regulators as early as 2007 about an increase in reports of unintended or sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. According to a news report, State Farm insurance said it noticed a rise in reports of such acceleration in Toyotas and notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The federal agency in fact received warnings about sudden acceleration in Toyotas as early as 2003. It is not clear whether the agency completely missed these warning signs. That is an issue congressional investigators are exploring.

Toyota, over the recent months, has recalled over 8 million vehicles for faulty gas pedals and floor mats, which are believed to have caused the sudden acceleration problems. Most recently, the auto maker recalled about 437,000 Prius and Lexus hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix a braking problem caused by a software glitch. The auto maker also stopped producing and selling eight vehicle models including the top-selling Corolla and Camry models. Federal officials said they are also looking into complaints from Corolla owners about steering problems. So far, consumers and Seattle personal injury attorneys are shocked by the fact that NHTSA has received 80 complaints from drivers of 2009 and 2010 Corollas.

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February 23, 2010

Reports of Toyota Corolla Steering Problems Trigger Federal Investigation

Federal auto safety regulators have now launched an official investigation into possible vehicle defects, this time involving the power steering in 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corollas. According to a news report in USA Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been getting complaints from Toyota Corolla drivers that they cannot hold the steering straight going down the highway. So far, NHTSA has received 168 complaints, including reports of eight crashes, involving this vehicle defect. NHTSA has opened a preliminary evaluation to determine whether it needs to take a closer look at steering problems in the Corolla and also, the Matrix models, which are quite similar to the Corolla. Much to the shock of consumers and Seattle auto product liability attorneys, about 500,000 vehicles could be involved in this investigation.

If this results in a recall, it certainly would not be Toyota's first in recent months. In fact, the number of vehicles that were recently recalled by the Japanese auto maker adds up to more than 8.5 million. That includes vehicles that were recalled for defective gas pedals, floor mats and brakes. Toyota also suspended production and sales of eight different models of vehicles including the Corolla, until all the defective vehicles can be fixed. Government officials are also looking into whether Toyota officials issued these recalls in a timely manner. Meanwhile, the company is also facing a slew of lawsuits over the unintended acceleration caused by the gas pedal and mat defects.

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February 19, 2010

Man Killed in Washington Auto Accident

A 66-year-old man sustained fatal injuries in a Washington auto accident after his car collided head-on with a bridge support on the southbound Valley Freeway at 15th Street Northwest in Auburn. According to a news report in the Auburn Reporter, the man was driving a Toyota pickup truck, when he struck the bridge support at a high rate of speed. In fact, eyewitnesses told investigators that there were no brake lights from the Toyota before the impact. The man died at the scene. The incident is being investigated by the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

In such cases, it is extremely important to have a skilled Seattle car accident lawyer help you determine whether the accident was caused by a defective auto. The vehicle involved in this incident was a Toyota pickup truck. Witnesses state that the driver made no attempt to stop and went speeding right into the bridge support. It might be useful in this case to find out whether the vehicle malfunctioned and whether it is one of the models included in Toyota’s recall of more than 8 million vehicles for defective gas pedals or floor mats said to cause sudden or unintended acceleration.

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February 9, 2010

Toyota to Fix Defective Gas Pedals

So far, Toyota has recalled more than 7 million vehicles over faulty gas pedals and floor mats. The auto maker has also stopped production and sales of eight models, including its top-selling Camry and Corolla models. The first Toyota recall was issued last year after an auto accident in California killed a highway patrol officer and three members of his family. The officer was in a loaner Lexus and the defective floor mat in the car allegedly caused the accelerator pedal to become jammed. The car accelerated out of control at 120 mph, crashed, and caused four fatalities.

Toyota officials say they have come up with a fix for the gas pedals, which has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The problem with the gas pedals was that the pedal mechanism could become worn and harder to depress or it could get stuck in a partially depressed position, thus causing sudden or unintended acceleration.

Toyota engineers have been working to insert a spacer in the pedal mechanism in order to increase the tension in a spring and reduce the risk of the gas pedal sticking or staying down. The auto maker has also come under quite a bit of criticism for failing to act quickly on unexpected acceleration issues related to the faulty floor mats. Federal officials say Toyota has known about the problem with the mats since 2007 and has still done nothing to fix it.

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January 22, 2010

Washington Couple Injured in Rollover Accident

A Washington couple was injured in an auto accident after their pickup truck and trailer rolled over on the Interstate 82 near Prosser, Washington. According to a news report in the Yakima Herald-Republic, a 64-year-old man was driving a 2002 Ford pickup towing a 37-foot trailer. He lost control of the vehicle rolling both the pickup and the trailer on the inside shoulder of the highway. The man and his wife both suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital, but it is not clear whether they sustained serious injuries. Both were wearing seatbelts. Washington State Patrol officials say the driver's inattention may have caused or contributed to this accident as well.

In any rollover auto accident, it is also important to look into whether an auto product defect, design defect or mechanical malfunction may have caused or in any way contributed to the accident. The auto maker or the manufacturer of the defective product could be held liable for the injuries and damages, if so. If a vehicle defect is suspected in an auto accident, it is important to preserve the vehicle so it can be examined carefully for product defects, malfunctions or other evidence. Experienced Seattle personal injury attorneys will almost always suggest that, if possible, photos are taken of the accident in order to document the scene.

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January 7, 2010

Auto Recall for Range Rover Vehicles Involves Airbag Defects

Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling 4,001 Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles because of possible airbag defects, which might prevent the front passenger airbag from deploying in the event of a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these affected 2010 Range Rover models may experience airbag lamp illumination on the instrument cluster. The NHTSA report states: “This warning lamp may clear on each subsequent ignition cycle. The passenger airbag will be disabled when the airbag warning lamp is illuminated as a result of this defect and the passenger airbag warning disable lamp in the overhead console will also illuminate.”

The deployment of the passenger side airbag may fail to occur in case of a car accident. This could cause devastating personal injuries and even death to the passenger. When this recall begins, Land Rover dealers will update the vehicles' restraint control module with the integrated diagnostics system tool with updated software.

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December 24, 2009

Toyota, Lexus and Ford Models Get Most Sudden Acceleration Complaints

A Consumer Reports analysis of a federal safety complaints database is showing that more than 40 percent of sudden acceleration complaints involve Toyota and Lexus models. According to a recent news report, the study looked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) safety complaints database, which apparently also found Ford standing out with a significant number of complaints relating to sudden acceleration.

Consumer Reports analyzed all 5,916 reports on 2008 models and identified 166 cases in which the complaint described unintended, sudden acceleration that the driver could not control. A fatal car accident in San Diego which killed a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family led Toyota and NHTSA to issue a safety advisory on floor-mat entrapment. Toyota is also preparing for a massive recall involving 4 million vehicles to modify gas pedals and make other changes to remedy potential sudden acceleration problems. Consumer Reports' research found that sudden acceleration incidents were distributed over 22 brands with 47 complaints about Toyota models and five about Lexus vehicles.

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December 15, 2009

Tire Tread Separation Causes SUV Rollover Accident

Tire defects can become a serious factor in car accidents causing devastating injuries and in numerous cases, fatalities. Many car accidents are the result of what is known as "tire tread separation." The aftermath of such accidents can be catastrophic. Tread belt separations frequently cause tire blowouts. Even when the tire does not lose pressure, the driver often loses control of the vehicle when the tire tread and belt separate from the tire. Even experienced and skilled drivers can lose control of their vehicles. There is also more of a chance that a vehicle can roll over, causing serious personal injury and even deaths.

There was a recent report of an SUV rollover crash involving tire tread separation, which resulted in four people getting ejected from the vehicle. Thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries. Apparently, in this case, the tread came off a rear tire, causing it to blow out. The driver ended up losing control of the SUV. The SUV then rolled over ejected three men, who were not wearing seatbelts as well as a woman who was wearing her seatbelt. In such accidents where people are ejected in spite of wearing a seatbelt, it is important to look into whether there were any seatbelt defects.

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December 10, 2009

Washington Fatal Rollover Car Accident

Rollover accidents can be extremely devastating for the occupants of a vehicle. Because of the intensity of a violent rollover, victims may suffer catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or even death. Sometimes, factors such as vehicle defects including tire defects, seatbelt defects, or seatback failure could cause or contribute to these injuries. That is why it is extremely important that these auto accident victims or their families consult an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer if they suspect auto product defects, roadway defects or negligence on the part of another driver.

A recent car crash in Yakima, Washington, shows how deadly a rollover accident can be. A 67-yar-old man was killed in Pasco after his car hit another driver's SUV. According to a news report in the Yakima Herald-Republic, the crash occurred on the Interstate 182 in Pasco. Both drivers were westbound on the highway when the man's Honda Accord clipped the rear of a Dodge Durango SUV. The impact of the crash caused the Honda to roll over and land on its top. Officials determined that the man was not wearing his seatbelt and believe that speed may have played a part in the crash as well.

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December 7, 2009

Hyundai Ordered to Pay $8 Million to Washington Car Accident Victim

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled in an auto products liability case against Hyundai Motor Co. that the auto maker withheld evidence in a lawsuit over flawed seat design and should pay $8 million to a man who was rendered paraplegic in a car accident as a result of that auto product defect. According to a Bloomberg news report, the state's high court reversed an appellate court ruling and reinstated a trial court's judgment. The Olympia, Washington court, in its 7-2 ruling stated that the Korean auto maker tried to undermine the discovery of evidence in the 9-year-old case.

One of the Supreme Court justices said he hoped the ruling in addition to appropriately compensating the victim will also send a strong message to Hyundai and other corporations, deterring them from involving themselves in such "deliberate and willful discovery abuse." The victim in this case sued Hyundai in 2000, three years after he was injured as a passenger in a Hyundai hatchback that went off the road. The victim was ejected from the rear window and claimed that his injuries were partly caused by design flaws in the seat, which collapsed during the crash. In 2006, the trial court found that Hyundai officials had falsely responded to the victim's request for internal documents and police reports relating to previous accidents. The court found that this impeded the victim's preparation for trial and undermined this important evidence.

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September 9, 2009

Truck's Brakes Give Out on Seattle Street

A runaway dump truck hauling shards of broken concrete took motorists traveling down Madison Street, including the truck’s driver, by surprise when it crashed into a strip mall. However, the incident could have resulted in serious injury to a large number of people had the truck driver not intentionally crashed into a nearby building, thus bringing his vehicle to a halt and avoiding further reckless travel down the street. The truck did hit three cars in the process though, only one of which included a motorist that required medical attention. The dump truck driver was not injured.

According to the report, one man whose driver’s side of his car was clipped by the truck said that he saw the truck coming toward him at a high speed when he looked in his rear-view mirror. The man stated, “I could have been killed…it was unbelievable.”

Trucks serve multiple purposes and are required to dispose of waste and also transport commodities that our communities rely heavily on. Although we need trucks of all kinds to function on a daily basis, due to their great size and heavy loads, trucks can pose many dangers and hazards to other drivers on the road. Truck maintenance requires acute attention and, although it is not known at this time why the truck’s brakes failed in the above incident, defective auto parts are capable of causing serious truck accidents in Seattle that can result in catastrophic injuries.

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June 19, 2009

Kirk Bernard Launches New Auto Product Liability Website

Kirk Bernard of the Bernard Law Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new website focusing on the legal arena of auto product liability law. The website, focuses on detailing the latest in auto product recall news, offering consumers information and advice on automobiles and automotive parts that have been deemed dangerous.

The Bernard Law Group hopes to share its substantial experience litigating these types of cases with the public for the purpose of educating and warning drivers throughout the state of Washington about the dangers of the automobiles they commute in daily. The group also hopes to reach out to those individuals who may have been injured due to a defective auto product and offer them an opportunity to not only share their story, but also pursue just compensation under the law.

The public has the right to expect that auto manufacturers will produce a safe product built with the highest quality materials available. A manufacturer is expected to stand behind its product, and the public should demand accountability from the manufacturer for injuries caused by the product. When automakers fall short of that goal and put profits ahead of the safety of their consumers, injured individuals have a right to seek restitution for their losses through the legal system.

The Bernard Law Group is a limited liability company. For two decades, we have applied our collective experience and knowledge exclusively to personal injury. We have been successful in obtaining millions of dollars for our clients in a number of settlements and trial verdicts. If you or somebody you love has been injured due to a defective auto product, contact the Washington auto product liability attorneys at The Bernard Law Group today for a consultation of your case.