September 7, 2010

DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Recall

By now, you may have already heard about the DePuy ASR Hip Replacement product recall. If you are one of the unfortunate recipients of this defective product, you may be left wondering what to do next.

Within 5 years of receiving a DePuy Hip Resurfacing system, it's reported that 12-13% of patients need to have revision surgery to correct the damage. If you've been experiencing pain, malalignment, infection, dislocation or bone fracture, there's a good chance that you fall within the category of recipients necessitating correctional surgery.

Because the poorly designed piece exhibits a dangerous amount of friction between the two metal components, tiny fragments of chromium and cobalt ions are released into your body's soft tissue.

This can compromise the success of the revision surgery so if your surgeon is concerned about this, they should perform a metal ion test beforehand. By performing an ultrasound or MRI scan, soft tissue damage can be visible.

DePuy has agreed to pay what they consider to be reasonable costs for patient evaluation, treatment, and even revision if necessary. They intend to reimburse patients for their medical bills and out of pocket expenses.

As a Seattle personal injury lawyer my firm has extensive experience with product liability cases and I know that dealing with the manufacturer can be a lengthy, complicated process. That's where the experience of a hip recall attorney fighting on your behalf can be essential to recovering the compensation you deserve.

March 26, 2010

Baby Bracelets Recalled for High Lead Levels

Allreds Design is recalling about 900 sets of baby bracelets and pacifier clips because they contain high levels of lead, according to a news report in Consumeraffairs.com. The company issued this defective product recall after getting a report of a 10-month-old child who ingested lead from these bracelets and was being treated by a physician for elevated lead levels. Lead can be extremely toxic if ingested by young children and in serious cases, can cause lifelong adverse health effects such as brain damage.

This product defect recall includes Allreds Design brand baby bracelets and pacifier clips sold in sizes 0 to 6 months, 1 to 4 years and 4 to 8 years of age. The baby bracelets and crystal and plastic beads come in various colors with a metal clasp. The items were sold by resale stores and other retailers nationwide from June 2008 through December 2008 for about $5. These items were manufactured in the United States. If you have these defective products in your home, Seattle injury lawyer Kirk Bernard advises that you take them away from your children right away and contact Allreds Design for details about how to get a replacement bracelet or pacifier clip.

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March 24, 2010

Two Spokane Bars Cited in Fatal DUI Collision

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has issued citations to two Spokane bars in connection with a DUI car crash in December, which resulted in three deaths. According to an Associated Press news report, the driver who caused the head-on collision was "over-served" at the downtown Spokane bars – The Lion's Lair and the BLVD. Officials say they want the BLVD's license suspended for a month and are asking for a five-day suspension or a fine against the Lion's Lair. The drunk driver apparently drove west in the eastbound lanes of the Interstate 90 in Spokane. The drunk driver, as well as two people in the other car, were killed in the collision.

This news, interestingly enough, comes around the same time as when Men's Health and USA Today released a study listing Spokane 51st among the "Drunkest Cities" in the United States. In fact, Spokane ranked higher than Seattle on this list. By assisting drunk driving accident victims, Seattle auto accident lawyers are working to help lower the city’s ranking as the 64th drunkest city in the United States.

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March 23, 2010

Pedestrian Sustains Critical Injuries in Spokane Auto Accident

A pedestrian was critically injured in a Spokane car accident in the South Hill area, according to a KXLY news report. The injury collision occurred at the intersection of 10th and Oak where the victim was hit by a car. The driver of the car fled the scene of the crash. The victim was taken to a local hospital. The pedestrian is believed to have sustained life-threatening injuries. The suspect’s vehicle has been described as a light brown or blue sedan with a loud muffler.

As a Seattle car accident attorney, Kirk Bernard understands the serious consequences of hit-and-run accidents. Leaving the scene of an auto collision is a serious crime in Washington State and is punishable by jail time. According to the Revised Code of Washington Section 46.52.020: "A driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person or involving striking the body of a deceased person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to, and in every event remain at, the scene of such accident until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section; every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary."

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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 17, 2010

500,000 Defective Cribs Recalled after Infant Deaths

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers about defective cribs, which have been responsible for three infant deaths. According to an Associated Press news report, the federal safety agency is recalling 500,000 drop-side cribs, manufactured by Generation 2 Worldwide and ChildESIGNS. The plastic hardware on these cribs can break and allow the drop side to detach, creating a space where the child can become entrapped and suffocated. Also, the mattress supports in these cribs can break away from the crib frames creating a gap where children can suffocate.

CPSC has received three reports of children who died after getting trapped and being suffocated in these defective cribs. The victims were an 8-month-old boy from Ohio who died in June 2007; a 6-month-old boy from Indiana who suffocated in a crib and died in October 2003; and another 6-month-old boy from Virginia who died in September 2002 after two missing screws allowed the lower drop-side track of his crib to pull away from the headboard post. These cribs were sold at retailers nationwide including Buy Buy Baby, Kmart and Wal-Mart.

Several consumers and Seattle products liability attorneys are aware of the fact that more than 5 million cribs have been recalled over the last few years because of similar defects and hazards. Almost all of these recalled cribs were drop-side cribs. These cribs were recalled because when the drop-sides detached, an entrapment and suffocation hazard was created. Inferior parts and poor quality control have also contributed to these product defects.

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February 12, 2010

New Washington State Law Will Keep First Responders Safe on Highways

Troopers and tow truck drivers in Washington State are supporting a bill that creates "emergency zones" which they believe will protect them and other first responders who help stranded motorists on the state's highways. According to a news report in King 5 News, 23 Washington State Patrol vehicles were hit in 2009 on the side of the state's highways. Under the proposed law, drivers who are caught speeding within 200 feet of a vehicle that has flashing lights – police cars, tow trucks or ambulances – would receive citations for double the standard speeding amount.

The new law, if passed, would also require drivers to move out of the far right lane as long as it is safe. Also, drivers who operate their vehicles recklessly in those zones could face a $5,000 fine and lose their license for two months. It is not known yet when this law would go into effect. However, Washington State Patrol officials would be responsible for educating and informing drivers about the law before they start writing out these citations.

As a Seattle auto accident lawyer, I'm absolutely in support of this law. This law is necessary to keep these first responders, who are the first to get to the scene of an accident on the highway, safe and secure so they can do their jobs. Anyone who has had their vehicle break down on the highway knows that it can be a very scary place. A lot of times, motorists are negligent, driving recklessly or simply not paying attention to their surroundings.

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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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February 4, 2010

Cadmium Contamination: Children's Necklaces Sold at Wal-Mart Recalled

About 55,000 children's necklaces sold at Wal-Mart stores are being recalled because they contain high levels of cadmium, according to a news report in consumeraffairs.com. Cadmium is a toxic metal listed high on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) list of substances most harmful to the environment. Cadmium is toxic when ingested by young children and can cause several adverse health effects including brain, kidney, lung and bone damage.

These defective products, which were manufactured in China, were sold exclusively in Wal-Mart retail stores across the country from November 2009 through January 2010 for about $5. The recalled jewelry is in the shape of a metal crown or frog pendant on a metal link chain necklace in a crown hinged box. If you have one of these necklaces at home, please take it away from your child and return the product to Wal-Mart to obtain a full refund.

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January 8, 2010

Crimes by Convicted Felons in Nursing Homes on the Rise

An alarming report in the Chicago Tribune talks about an increase in reports of violent attacks by felons living in nursing homes. Many nursing home facilities are apparently not complying with a four-year-old disclosure law that requires them to notify state and public health officials when they admit offenders. As a result, some offenders in that state have been living in facilities undeclared for as long as a year.

There have been several recent incidents involving felons abusing or seriously injuring other nursing home residents. Most recently a 22-year-old mentally ill felon pleaded guilty to brutally raping a 69-year-old woman who lived in the same nursing home. In that case, the felon's background screening had been improperly handled by the nursing home because they used the wrong birth date. In Illinois, nursing homes are required to conduct criminal background checks on all new residents and immediately notify state health authorities when someone with a serious felony conviction is admitted.

However, some homes still fail to conduct these important background checks or make serious errors on the checks, or simply fail to report these felons to officials. Some of these offenders, as a result, went on to commit assaults and serious crimes inside the homes. As a result of the nursing home's negligence and their failure to take these background checks seriously, they exposed their own residents to danger.

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December 30, 2009

Defective Car Seat Carriers Recalled for Fall Hazard

Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. has issued a product defect recall for about 447,000 baby car seat carriers after many reports of the child restraint handle coming loose and infants falling and getting injured. According to an Associated Press news report, at least three infants have been injured. They have sustained bumps, bruises and even head injuries. The Indiana-based manufacturer of the car seats has also gotten 77 reports of the child restraint handle fully or partially coming off the products.

This recall involves several brands of car seats, commonly sold in retail outlets, including Safety 1st, Cosco, Eddie Bauer and Disney. The defective car seat carriers were sold at department and children's product stores all over the United States from January 2008 to December 2009. This recall is being conducted by Dorel, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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December 8, 2009

Former City Light Employee Receives $812,250 Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit

It’s not every day that you hear about a race discrimination and harassment case based on a hostile workplace environment. However, a recent seattletimes.nwsource.com article reported on such an incident. According to the report, the city of Seattle recently settled a discrimination lawsuit with an ex-employee of City Light for $812,250. The woman was awarded $503,000 in 2007 for race discrimination and harassment. Interestingly, the city’s appeal after the 2007 case resulted in the appeals courts upholding the harassment verdict, but dismissing the half a million dollar damage award due to the statute of limitations having already expired.

Based on the article, the jury determined that the woman had endured workplace hostility because of her race and that she was underpaid for the work she was doing. The jury verdict also found that City Light discriminated against her and another long-term employee who was awarded $947,000. At the time of the award, it was the fifth incident within ten years that City Light had either settled or had a jury rule against it in a racial-discrimination case. The four prior incidents cost the city-owned utility over $1 million.

Although the above mentioned case did not involve a personal injury accident that caused harm to a worker while on the job, the case is indicative of the many responsibilities that an employer has the duty of upholding. The discrimination case also emphasizes the importance of understanding the elements of the statue of limitations when filing a claim against another person or entity.

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December 3, 2009

Roast Beef Recall Extends to Washington

As trusting consumers, we expect the food products we buy to be free of any substance or ingredient that may cause us harm, illness, or injury. When a food product’s labeling fails to include an important ingredient that many individuals are allegoric to, such as soy, it may be subject to a recall.

According to a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) report by the United States Department of Agriculture issued on November 4, 2009, Curly’s Food, Inc., has recalled an estimated 12,181 pounds of roast beef deli products. This recall is due to the deli products being accidentally mislabeled in that they contain an allergen – soy. Apparently, the mislabeling issue was revealed after a product check by Curly’s Food, Inc.

Based on the report, the roast beef deli products were made on October 5 and 12, 2009, and were circulated to retail-type delicatessens and Department of Defense Commissaries in Washington and 14 other U.S. states. The report on the recalled product states the following about the product: “Cases containing two (2) various size weight deli-faced pieces of "Healthy Ones, Medium Cooked Roast Beef, 97% Fat Free, No Fillers, No Artificial Flavors, Lower Sodium" in vacuum packaged bags. Each package bears a use by date of "01/03/2010" or "01/10/2010," a case code of "30900-17856" as well as the establishment number "EST. 15878" inside the USDA mark of inspection.”

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December 1, 2009

Wenatchee Construction Site Takes Exemplary Safety Precautions

Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in our nation. A recent wenatcheeworld.com report emphasizes this point as it discusses safety precautions at a Central Washington Hospital construction site. According to the article, the M.A. Mortenson Company project supervisor of the five-story building leads a crew of about 50 workers in stretching exercises to help prevent muscles from being pulled or strained. In addition to getting the workers warmed-up so that they aren’t injured while working in weather as low as 32 degrees, the project supervisor also warned the crew to be cautious of slippery conditions on the site resulting from the cooler weather.

The exercises these construction workers do stem from Mortenson’s Zero Injury safety program, which began in 1995. Based on the article, before this safety program was implemented, the company had a higher than average injury rate. Now however, the company has a lower than average industry injury rate. In fact, it recently broke the million mark for man-hours worked without any injuries occurring and resulting in lost work days. This number includes over 36,000 injury-free man-hours on the Central Washington Hospital site.

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November 26, 2009

Washington One of 7 States Banning Hand-Held Cell Phone Use

As November begins, residents of the State of Washington must brush-up on new laws pertaining to hand-held cell phone use. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, November 2009 marks the beginning of the ban against hand-held cell phones.

Based on the announcement, the other six states participating in the new ban besides Washington include California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, New York, and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia. Considering that Utah has defined the offense of using a hand-held cell phone as careless driving, it leaves one to question why all the other states issuing the ban have not done the same. On the other hand, speaking on a cell phone while driving will not be considered an offense in Utah unless a motorist is also committing some other moving violation other than speeding.

Many residents of Washington are likely to support the ban against hand-held cell phone use. This support is likely considering that it should contribute to lowering incidents of auto collisions caused by these devices distracting a driver or preventing a motorist from having both hands on the wheel. However, while Washington has banned texting while driving for all drivers, it has not issued a ban on young/novice drivers from using cell phones while driving, nor has a ban been placed against bus drivers from using cell phones while transporting a large bus with many passengers in tow.

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November 25, 2009

Stork Craft Crib Recall Largest In U.S. History

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of potentially dangerous cribs, the largest crib recall in the history of the United States. The CPSC is advising consumers to stop using The Stork Craft drop-down-side crib because it poses a serious strangulation risk to infants. Approximately 2.1 million of the cribs have been sold and are in use.

The move follows the news that 4 infants have died of suffocation after becoming entrapped in the crib’s drop down sides. There have also been at least 110 incidents in the United States and Canada when the drop-down sides of the cribs became detached, which resulted in dozens of babies either becoming entrapped between the side and the crib frame, or falling out of the crib altogether.

Drop down side cribs have a track record for injuring infants. Nearly 5 million cribs have been recalled over the past two years and the CPSC has discussed banning dropdown sides all together. Adding to the danger in this particular case is the fact that parts used to create the cribs are easily broken, missing, or misassembled. For instance, the crib's drop-side could come off its tracks and create a "hazardous gap which can lead to infant entrapment and suffocation."

Stork Craft has released a toll-free number for consumers to call, or to order a free repair kit: (877) 274-0277.

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November 19, 2009

Flammable Robes Recalled, Linked to Nine Deaths

The connection between nine deaths and extremely flammable women’s robes has instigated a recall by Blair LLC. According to a kfoxtv.com report, a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announcement stated that four additional reports of death linked to the full-length women’s chenille robes have been reported to Blair LLC of Warren, PA since June. Because of this, the company has expanded its recall to incorporate additional products imported from the Pakistani manufacturer. The recall now includes more chenille robes and three other chenille products, all made by A-One Textile & Towel, of Karachi, Pakistan.

What has been quite unnerving to consumers is that these dangerous robes were initially recalled in April by Blair after it discovered that three robes caught fire, including one incident in which a consumer suffered second-degree burns. Considering that the robes fail to meet federal flammability standards, they present great risk of serious burns to anyone who wears the garments while exposed to an open flame, such as a stove in the kitchen. Most of the reported deaths linked to the full-length robes took place when the victims were wearing the robes while cooking. A CPSC spokesman said that the victims were mainly in their 70s and 80s.

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October 30, 2009

Hit-and-Run Accident Leaves Seattle Man Seriously Injured

A 51-year-old Seattle man, who remains unidentified, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a pedestrian accident. He sustained life-threatening injuries.

The Seattle Times reported that the unidentified man was walking on the shoulder of an Interstate 5 ramp when he was hit by a car. Although the driver of the car drove away, a Bremerton man called 911, described the vehicle and followed it until Washington State Patrol troopers apprehended the driver, a 45-year-old woman, who was arrested for driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run.

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October 29, 2009

Drug Deaths Rise Above Traffic Fatalities: Washington One of 16 States

A recent washingtonexaminer.com article has revealed some startling statistics regarding the increase in deaths caused by drug use and overdose in comparison to a decrease in traffic-related fatalities. Washington State is among 16 others in the United States where it would seem that motorists are becoming more cautious when driving but taking more risks when it comes to drugs. So, can this information lead us to simply conclude that the legal and illegal use of prescription painkillers is on the upswing? And, has driving really become safer?

The article stated that based on recent CDC data, the drug-related death rate has almost doubled from the late 1990s to 2006. On the other hand, a decrease in auto accident fatalities is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, revealing that throughout the U.S., traffic fatalities dropped by approximately 6.5 percent from 1999 through 2006 (a drop from 15.3 deaths per 100,000 people to 14.3 per 100,000).

Aside from Washington state, the other locations in which drug-related deaths have risen above traffic fatalities include: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Although it is not apparent at this time as to why these particular U.S. States have experienced such a change, experts are wondering if certain drugs in particular may be more of an issue in some states than they are in others.

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October 27, 2009

Twin Sisters Suffer Critical Burn Injuries from House Fire

Burn injuries can happen in a matter of seconds, but the pain caused by such injuries can last a lifetime. Whether a person suffers first, second, or third degree burns, in many cases, a burn injury victim may have to endure years of rehabilitation and even multiple surgeries to help avoid disfigurement or scarring. Unfortunately, in a number of incidents, disfigurement can be permanent. Burn injuries are commonly seen in auto accidents, but some other causes of burn injury have been associated with explosions, faulty products, defective equipment, and a wide-range of negligent behavior and careless action. And as a recent komonews.com article demonstrates, critical burn injuries can be caused by house fires as well.

According to the report, twin 9-year-old sisters suffered critical burns from a house fire in Yelm, but are expected to recover. The fire is said to have been started in an electrical socket in a front room in the house. Others in the home during the time of the fire received treatment for smoke inhalation. The twin girls suffered severe lung burns. Apparently the fire began around 2 a.m. on October 1, 2009 and the survival of the two young girls can be attributed to their step-dad who, after escaping the burning house, returned to rescue the twins.

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October 26, 2009

Kirk Bernard of the Bernard Law Group Announces $425,500.00 Settlement in Washington Motorcycle Injury Case

PRWEB announced on October 22, 2009 that Kirk Bernard, founding partner of The Bernard Law Group, declared that partner and personal injury attorney Elizabeth Lindquist reached a settlement at mediation in September 2009 for $425,500 in a Washington motorcycle accident injury case. This news reflects a successful outcome for a motorcycle passenger who suffered a burst facture of her lower back due to a negligent motorist that drove past a stop sign, pulled into an intersection, and directly into the path of the motorcycle. Now that the female plaintiff represented by Ms. Lindquist has received compensation to help pay for her pain and suffering, as well as much needed medical surgery and treatment, she can focus on rehabilitation.

The entire press release can be accessed on PRWEB for those who wish to learn more about this specific personal injury case and the efforts of The Bernard Law Group.

October 16, 2009

Cyclists Want Tougher Driving Laws in Seattle

Last February, a 39 year old father was killed when he was hit by a car while riding his bike to work.

His widow says, "…I don't want it to happen again." Speaking at a crowded bicycle summit at Seattle City Hall on Wednesday night in support of tougher laws against dangerous drivers, she said, "The person behind the wheel was negligent; their behavior was the cause of someone's death. Why are they allowed to get behind the wheel of a car?"

A Seattle city ordinance that made it a misdemeanor to kill or injure someone in a traffic accident was overturned by the state Court of Appeals in August of this year.

As a result, drivers involved in deadly crashes can only be charged with felony vehicular homicide, and the charge only applies if they were drunk, on drugs or acting recklessly at the time of the crash.

KOMOnews.com reports that according to statistics, some 500 people are killed or badly injured in traffic accidents in Washington state every year. But many of the offenders can't be charged with any type of felony, and instead are just given traffic tickets.

One man at the summit said, "It just seems like you can break a whole lot of laws at the same time and you're still not being reckless in the legal sense."

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October 13, 2009

Lakewood Residents Argue that Speed Cameras Don’t Capture their Best Side

Much debate has circulated around the use of camera vans and the effectiveness of fixed camera installation to help prevent speeding in school zones. Lakewood school zones in particular have had camera vans in position to catch such speeders. However, according to a report from thenewstribune.com, these roving vans should be removed within two to three weeks due to an amended contract with Redflex Traffic Systems. Lakewood’s city council voted 3-2 to install fixed cameras near Park Lodge Elementary and Lochburn Middle School, in addition to having uniformed officers periodically patrol the school zones.

The main argument residents seem to make in regard to speeding cameras and the tickets that result is that the cameras are error-prone and the tickets are more difficult to challenge than those issued directly by an officer. In opposition to the amendment to install fixed cameras, a councilman referred to the process as a “disproportionate reaction, or solution, to a problem we don’t have.” Undoubtedly behind the councilman’s statement is the fact that officials have noted there hasn’t been a serious pedestrian-auto accident in a school zone in Lakewood’s 13-year history. However, in argument against the councilman’s stance, perhaps the reason for this is the very existence of the cameras.

Pertaining to the complaints of residents that the cameras are inaccurate in “capturing” speeders, local Police Chief stated, “Technology has bugs, and we will try our best to work them out”.

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October 7, 2009

Johnson & Johnson's Voluntary Recall of Infants' and Children's Liquid Tylenol

A recent komonews.com article reported that the McNeil unit of Johnson & Johnson has issued a voluntary recall of 57 lots of liquid Tylenol products, intended for use on infants and children, due to a plausible bacterial contamination. Many parents are shocked to learn that the reputable company revealed that a B. cepacia bacterium was found in a portion of raw material that went unused in the finished product.

Although no bacteria were discovered in the finished product that reached consumers, Johnson & Johnson decided to recall the products as a precautionary measure after consulting with the Food and Drug Administration. As skilled Seattle product liability attorneys, we believe it is better to be safe than sorry in instances such as these, especially when the lives of infants and young children are involved.

According to the report, the recalled products were manufactured between April and June and are made-up of almost two dozen varieties that include Infants’ Tylenol Grape Suspension Drops ¼ oz., Children’s Tylenol Suspension 4 oz. Grape, and Children’s Tylenol Plus Cold/Allergy 4 oz. Bubble Gum. Despite there being a very slim chance that any medical events will take place since the bacterium was not present in the finished products, the company released the following statement: "It was decided, as a precaution, to recall all product that utilized any of the raw material manufactured at the same time as the raw material that tested positive for the bacteria.”

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September 16, 2009

Making Seattle's Roads Safer: Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program

On August 12, 2009, Seattle’s Department of Transportation announced its intent to increase safety in the Ballard Community by implementing a two-phase plan to impede speeding. In order to steer drivers in the right direction towards increasing safety, the program will focus on making motorists driving through neighborhoods aware of how fast they are driving. Representatives from the Department of Transportation stated that the program is aiming to fulfill neighborhood concerns regarding ways to ease traffic volumes and decrease the amount of cut-through traffic, as well as hinder traffic speeds in the process. In fact, it has been reported that a radar gun will supposedly be lent to residents that would like to measure and report the speed of drivers on their street so that they can play an active role in the department’s efforts.

The program’s Phase 1 measures include speed watch trailers, Neighborhood Speed Watch signs, Seattle Police Department enforcement requests, painted intersections, parking management measures, and yard-placed signs advocating driver awareness to reduce speeds. If these tools turn out to be ineffective at reducing speeds on residential streets, physical traffic calming devices such as speed humps, movable barriers, and traffic circles are likely to be installed as part of Phase 2.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s 2005 Highway Collision Data Summary, speeding is consistently the number one contributing circumstance for auto accidents throughout all the regions of the state. When someone causes an auto collision because he or she was speeding, that person is responsible for committing a negligent and careless act in which he or she may be held financially accountable for the costs associated with another person’s injuries or property damage. Speeding accidents are one of the most preventable types of car accidents, and programs such as the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program will hopefully remind drivers about how serious operating a motor vehicle truly is in order to create safer Washington communities.

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September 3, 2009

Seattle Traffic Law Denied Relating to Bicyclists' Death

A recent article from seattletimes.nwsource.com discusses the recent conclusion that a Seattle ordinance created in 2005 that criminalizes certain traffic violations resulting in injury or death of an individual is in fact invalid due to its conflict with state law. Specifically in question is whether or not failing to yield the right-of-way is a violation in which a person could be held criminally responsible for. That is, the article mentions a man that failed to yield the right of way to a bicyclist. The bicyclist was consequently struck by the man’s vehicle, and died from brain injury sustained during the crash. The driver of the vehicle, having a previously unblemished driving record, was at first not prosecuted, then was charged with misdemeanor assault based on local city ordinance, and then eventually had the charges dropped once the ordinance’s inconsistency with state law was realized, ultimately deeming the man’s charges as being unenforceable and, therefore, reversed.

There are 60 traffic-related crimes in Washington in which vehicular homicide and assault, racing, reckless endangerment of roadway workers, and driving while intoxicated are included. Failing to yield the right-of-way is not a criminal traffic offense. It goes without saying that this realization represents both relief and anger to citizens. On the one hand, some believe that negligent drivers that cause imposing catastrophic injuries, especially those that take another person’s life, should not only be held civilly responsible for their actions, but criminally responsible as well, even if their actions result from failing to yield the right-of-way. On the other hand, criminal charges are extremely serious, and some feel that the harsh consequences are too intense for a person, one that has already made a mistake and is now forced to have to live with the results of reckless, negligent driving, to have to endure.

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August 26, 2009

Lowe's Pays $1.7M to Settle Discrimination Case

A $1.7 million settlement in a sexual harassment case against Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Inc. has been announced by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
On Thursday, the deal was signed by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour, and resolves a lawsuit on behalf of three workers at a Lowe's outlet in Longview, Washington.

A 21 year old woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by the 44-year-old store manager in his office. Two other people involved in the case are men in their 20s. They joined the woman in claiming they endured six months of physical and verbal abuse. All three wound up being fired.
According to the Seattletimes.com, besides awarding them more than $1.7 million in damages, the three-year consent decree requires Lowe's to provide anti-discrimination training to all employees in Washington and Oregon.

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July 20, 2009

Washington State Restores $14 Million DUI Award

On Thursday, the Supreme Court in Washington State unanimously voted to reinstate a $14 million award to a family who sued a tavern and a bartender after one of the bar's customers drove away from the establishment and crashed into their vehicle. Their 7-year-old-son is now a paraplegic due to the tragic collision.

According to information from an Associated Press article, the law states that bartenders who serve visibly intoxicated customers are liable for damages to potential victims. At question was the type of evidence needed to prove "negligent over-service". Most states have so-called "dram shop" laws that can make taverns or bartenders — and in some states, even social hosts — liable for damages if they serve intoxicated customers who leave the premises and harm themselves or others.

It was noted by Washington State’s justices that a forensic consultant found that the bar patron likely drank the equivalent of either 21 12-ounce beers or 30 ounces of 80-proof alcohol, and probably had a blood alcohol content of 0.32 at the time of the collision. The legal blood alcohol limit in Washington State is 0.08.

The man was drinking at the Bellingham Moose Lodge, about 90 miles north of Seattle, just before the April 2000 auto accident in Washington. His girlfriend was the bartender at the lodge and served him the night of the accident.

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July 8, 2009

Unsafe Driving Around Commercial Trucks Targeted by Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Patrol reports that between 2005 and 2007, there were almost 5000 commercial truck accidents in Washington alone. These accidents involved drivers of cars who drive unsafely around large commercial trucks. In two-thirds of the accidents, statistics show that the driver of the car was at-fault. These accidents resulted in 175 fatalities and 450 injuries. According to the Patrol, drivers need to leave space for trucks and learn ways to share the road.

John R. Batiste, chief of the Washington State Patrol, says, “Motorists who drive recklessly, or are unsafe around these big rigs, are asking for trouble. When a car and a commercial vehicle are involved in a collision, the car will lose.”

Given these statistics, the Patrol has a worked with other law enforcement agencies to create the Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Truck (TACT) project. In an effort to reduce accidents, the Washington State Patrol is trying to increase the public's awareness of unsafe driving behaviors around commercial vehicles. These dangerous driving behaviors include:

  • cutting off trucks

  • tailgating

  • failure to yield the right of way

  • speeding

  • aggressive driving

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June 15, 2009

Tests Show Higher Risk for Small Cars in Crashes

The website latimes.com reported in an article on April 14, 2009 that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently published the results of a series of crash tests. The Institute crashed a Honda Fit into a Honda Accord, a Smart ForTwo into a Mercedes C-Class, and a Toyota Yaris into a Toyota Camry each at 40 miles per hour. Test results showed that small cars may be more efficient but your safety is definitely compromised. The vehicles were tested in “offset” crashes in which the cars do not crash head on; instead, the collisions are made to simulate the type of collision that would occur during an auto accident if a car had veered over the center line where the damage can easily break into the passenger compartment. The institute believes that the cars sustained enough damage that their occupants would also have suffered moderate to serious injuries.

Adrian Lund, president of the Arlington, Virginia based institute said, “Though much safer than they were a few years ago, minicars as a group do a comparatively poor job of protecting people in crashes, simply because they're smaller and lighter. In collisions with bigger vehicles, the forces acting on the smaller ones are higher, and there's less distance from the front of a small car to the occupant compartment to 'ride down' the impact. These and other factors increase injury likelihood."

Dave Schembri, president of Smart’s U.S. operations said the tests were an example of “rare and extreme” accidents. The Smart ForTwo meets or exceeds all U.S. government crash-test standards. The other manufactures released similar statements.

Everyday trusting consumers use a variety of products, such as automobiles, electronics and medications, and do not think of the harmful effects that those products may have on them. If companies produce dangerous or faulty products, they can cause serious bodily injury or even death to innocent victims. A product manufacturer assumes responsibility regarding the consumer. The public has the right to expect that a manufacturer will produce a safe product built with the highest quality materials available.

If you have been seriously injured in an car accident in Seattle, the Bernard Law Group can help you determine if the manufacture was at fault. They have been representing the victims of wrongdoing for years. Their team of devoted Washington defective product attorneys represents those persons who have suffered monetary loss, serious injury, personal loss and future damages due to negligence, including but not limited to, recalled products, auto product liability. Please call 1-800-418-8282 for a free consultation.

June 8, 2009

Bus Safety Review after Fatal Bus Accident Ordered by Transportation Boss

The website philly.com reported in a storyon April 29, 2009 that Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation has plans to order a full departmental review of motor coach safety. This action comes a day after five people were killed when a tour bus carrying French tourists crashed in Soledad, California a small town located in Monterey County. The wrongful death accident prompted the California Highway Patrol to close highway 101 in both directions.

Spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Rae Tyson, stated that the review was issued after an April 21 hearing into a crash in Utah that killed nine people in January 2008.

In 1999 the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the highway administration develop bus construction standards to reduce injuries during collisions and rollover accidents.

Tyson stated he expected the agency to present new bus safety policies by the end of the year.

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April 14, 2009

Texting Driver Crashes into Idaho Police Officer

Seattle's KOMO TV News Station reports in an article that a driver who was texting while driving over 60 miles per hour crashed into the back end of a Boise patrol car on Interstate 84 in Meridian, Idaho.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Though the patrol car was empty at the time of impact, the driver suffered injuries and was taken to a hospital in Meridian for treatment. The 37 year old driver had been drinking, but his blood alcohol was under the legal limit.

At this time, the driver has not been charged. Washington State Vehicle Code has several statutes which provide penalties for sending, reading or writing a text message while driving (RCW 46.61.668) or using a cell phone that is not hands-free while driving (RCW 46.61.667).

If you believe your car accident was caused by a negligent driver using their cell phone, call Seattle's top personal injury attorneys at Bernard Law Group, 1-800-418-8282. We can help you immediately. All e-mail and form submissions will be responded to by a qualified and knowledgeable member of our firm within 24 hours. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we promise to respond immediately.

March 24, 2009

Algona Car Accident Seriously Injures Two People

Valley Regional Fire Authority reported that two people were critically injured when a vehicle struck a power pole and landed in a ditch in this Algona car accident.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at Algona Boulevard and Boundary Boulevard.

When crews arrived, they found the car in a ditch. Both people inside the car were trapped and had to be cut out. One was unconscious, the Authority reported.

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March 23, 2009

Washington Auto Accidents May Involve More Uninsured Drivers As Recession Grows

The washingtontimes.com website reported on February 16, 2009 in an article released by the Insurance Research Council that estimates that by next year, one out of six drivers may be driving without insurance. This would mean bad news for an uninsured driver or those involved in a car accident in Washington with an uninsured driver. As the nation’s economy worsens and more people are laid off, families are being forced to cut expenses including their insurance coverage. This translates into more than 3 million drivers behind the wheel without insurance than just five years ago.

David Corum, Vice President of IRC said, "We can't explain why people drive uninsured. We just know that a certain percentage of people do, and it does change with economic conditions like unemployment."

According to Corum, the percentage of drivers without insurance goes up ¾ of a percentage point for every 1% percent increase in unemployment nationwide.

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March 20, 2009

Everett Pedestrian Accident Hospitalizes Man After Being Hit By Bus

A pedestrian, 44 years old, was seriously injured by a Sound Transit bus Friday night in Everett. He is now recovering at Harborview Hospital from the Everett pedestrian accident.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The accident occurred just before 5 p.m. at the intersection of Pacific and Wetmore avenues. It is being investigated by Everett police.

It's not certain whether or not the Everett man was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident. A bus-camera video will need to be reviewed by police to help determine the cause of the accident.

The man was taken to Providence Hospital and airlifted later to Harborview.

If you are seriously injured in an accident, or someone you know is injured or possibly even killed, call the Washington pedestrian accident lawyers at Bernard Law Group, 1-800-418-8282. We can help you immediately. All e-mail and form submissions will be responded to by a qualified and knowledgeable member of our firm within 24 hours. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we promise to respond immediately.

March 19, 2009

Kirkland Car Accident Stems From Carjacking and Chase On I-5

A Kirkland carjacking, followed by a police chase, ended in a serious Seattle auto accident on Interstate 5 on Saturday. It added to traffic already jammed from construction on the freeway's southbound lanes.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The carjacking happened just after noon in the 13000 block of 116th Way Northeast. The driver of a parked Jaguar XJ6 was threatened by a man with a knife. The man appeared to be in his 20’s. He demanded the Kirkland man's vehicle, according to police.

Medina police officer saw the stolen Jaguar heading west on Highway 520 and chased it, while Kirkland police were at the scene gathering information. The chase continued across Lake Washington and onto I-5 southbound. It ended when the stolen car collided with two other cars and came to a stop on the freeway at Pine Street.

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March 18, 2009

Washington Car Accident On Highway 99 Hospitalizes Four People

Four people, including one child, were taken to a hospital Sunday evening after a three-car crash on Highway 99 north of Seattle.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Edmonds Fire Battalion Chief Don White said that medics responded to the 21700 block of Highway 99 about 6:30 p.m. They then drove a 9-year-old boy and two adults to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Another woman was taken to Stevens Memorial Hospital. White said that their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

The collision blocked both southbound lanes and the turn lane of Highway 99, White said.

All three vehicles suffered serious damage.

If you are seriously injured in a car accident in Washington, or someone you know is injured or possibly even killed, call the skilled Washington personal injury attorneys at Bernard Law Group, 1-800-418-8282. We can help you immediately. All e-mail and form submissions will be responded to by a qualified and knowledgeable member of our firm within 24 hours. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we promise to respond immediately.

March 17, 2009

Lakewood Auto Accident On Highway 512 Invovled Pierce Transit Van

According to Seattletimes.com, a Pierce Transit shuttle van for the disabled was involved in a car accident on Highway 512 in Lakewood.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lars Erickson, a Pierce Transit spokesman, said that the driver and all five passengers were taken to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood.

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March 12, 2009

Washington Bill Seeks A Ban On Novelty Lighters

The seattletimes.com website reported in a story on January 20, 2009 that State Senator Claudia Kauffman was sponsoring the senate version of bill SB 5011 that would ban Novelty lighters to prevent personal injury in Seattle.

Kauffman said, “It’s really to stave off any potential dangers that are out there for youth in such a confusing manner.”

One lighter that particularly struck Kauffman as dangerous was one shaped like a miniature camera. Kauffman said, “you put it up to your eye, and the flame comes out the top, and these lighters are displayed at the front counter of any convenience store.”

Joe Meinecke, public educator with the Tacoma Fire Department can attest personally to the dangers of these novelty lighters. As a matter of fact, he owns one shaped like a miniature gun and refers to it as his $50,000 lighter. The reason for this name is because that is the total sum of damage it caused to a Tacoma family’s home when a four year old played with it and set a couch on fire. Meinecke now uses it as a prop in his fire safety lessons with children and families.

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March 10, 2009

Seattle Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Blames University President

The Seattle Times reported in an article on January 14, 2009 that the President of Seattle University, Rev. Stephen Sundborg, has been sued. The claim is that since he is president, Sundborg must have been aware of an abusive Jesuit priest. Nonetheless, the priest was allowed to continue with the ministry. According to the Seattle personal injury lawsuit, more than 40 victims claim to have been abused when they were children or teenagers by Sundborg and/or other defendants who are mentioned in the lawsuit. The suit also states that Sundborg had examined “hell files” which were files comprising of information about priests that was “not public,” and “not good.”

Given this information, Sundborg must have been aware of Rev. Henry Hargreaves past of child abuse. The priest now resides with a Jesuit community in Spokane.

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March 3, 2009

Seattle Wrongful Death Search For Woman By Coastguard Suspended

The website pnwlocalnew.com reported in an article on January 14, 2009 that the search for Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz 45, had been called off. Stafford-Yilmaz’s van was found with no sight of the woman when the Puyallup ferry she was riding from Seattle to Bainbridge arrived at Eagle Harbor. Washington state police reported that Stafford-Yilmaz’s personal items were found on the passenger deck.

Marine divisions from the Seattle police department, Bainbridge police department, along with a coast guard helicopter, searched the area with no luck in this wrongful death case. Commander Michael Long, chief response for the Seattle coast guard, stated that the search had been exhaustive.

Long said, “We have saturated the search area and have not located anyone. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.”

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February 26, 2009

Puyallup Boy Dies At Monster Truck Show

The Seattle Times published an article on January 18, 2009 about the tragic story of a young 6 year old boy who was killed by flying debris launched from a Monster Truck during a performance in Tacoma, Washington. Crime scene investigators were taking a closer look at the drive train from a “monster” truck to try to determine why ripped parts came off the vehicle.

Sebastian Hizey 6, was struck with a metal ring-like object that came from the monster truck as it was performing doughnuts on the field. Jessie Hizey, the child’s father, was interviewed by the News Tribune of Tacoma and stated that a metal ring about 7-12 pounds flew at his son partially severing his skull. This accident may lead to a premises liability lawsuit.

Hizey said, “You go out for a night of fun, and you loose your son.”

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February 24, 2009

Origin of SeaTac Apartment Fire Still Unknown

Jennifer Sullivan, a Seattle Times writer, reported in an account on January 19, 2009 that the cause of the SeaTac apartment fire was still unknown to fire fighters. Two women who jumped from their balconies to avoid the fire sustained life-threatening injuries and were being treated at Harborview Medical Center. Flames broke out at the Emerald Place Apartments around 6:55pm, forcing young children to jump from their balconies to get away from the flames.

In all, seven people were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Approximately 100 people were left without a home in the area of the 3000 block of South 192nd street. Those affected by the fire may need to contact a skilled premises liability lawyer.

Spokesperson for King County Fire District said, “Everyone in this complex did a great job notifying their neighbors.” Moreover, Nelson stated that the apartment units did not have sprinklers, but were not required by law due to the building’s age. Officials estimated that 15 of the 48 apartments would not be habitable. On a gracious note, the building management opened up empty units and several tenants stayed there while others stayed with family and friends.

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February 19, 2009

Fort Lewis Soldier Dies After Car Accident

The newstribune.com website reported in a story on January 19, 2009 that a Fort Lewis soldier had died while on post. The family of the soldier has yet to be contacted and so the identity of the soldier was not released. The only information that was released by the army was that the soldier died from his injuries sustained during a Washington car accident sometime before 6 am.

Based on Allstate data for 197 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 people, Seattle ranks 150th. Drivers here are 20 percent more likely to have an accident than those in other areas -- and file accident claims on average once every 8.3 years. In Tacoma, ranked 157th, residents are 22 percent more likely to have an accident, and file accident claims every 8.2 years.

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February 17, 2009

Clallam County Sheriff and Man Shot

The Peninsula Daily News reported in a story on January 19, 2009 that a Clallam County sheriff’s deputy along with another male where shot in a residence between Sekiu and Neah Bay on the Olympia Peninsula. Sheriff Bill Benedict confirmed that deputy Bill Cortani, an 18 year veteran, had been shot while answering to a trespassing call.

Each man had shots to the hip and arm area and were being transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Their status has not been released. The sheriff’s name involved in the shooting is Bill Cortani, 41 of Forks who was fortunate to have been wearing a bullet proof vest according to Krista Hedstrom, State Patrol Trooper. Hedstrom also said that the man came from the Silverdale region and no name was given to report for in this Washington personal injury.

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February 11, 2009

Snohomish County Reaches $300,000 Settlement With Injured Bicyclist

A report states that a $300,000 settlement was reached between Snohomish County and a bicyclist injured in a traffic accident that occurred three years ago. The Washington trucking accident involved a 31-year old man and a public-works employee who hit the bicyclist with his public utility truck.

The accident left the man with two broken elbows. He was subsequently unable to continue his job at a lumber yard and is looking to train for another form of employment.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Washington State every day.

If you are seriously injured in an accident, or someone you know is injured or possibly even killed, call the skilled Washington auto accident attorneys at Bernard Law Group at 1-800-418-8282. We can help you immediately. All e-mail and form submissions will be responded to by a qualified and knowledgeable member of our firm within 24 hours. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we promise to respond immediately.

January 12, 2009

Speed Traps Catch 471 Pierce County Motorists

Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force is trying to make the roads safer for drivers. On January 3rd, they conducted an X-52 speeding patrol 3 focused on enforcing the speed limit on State Routes 512 and 7 and on Meridian and 176th Streets where there are a significant number of speed-related crashes.

At Bernard Law Group, we handle Washington personal injury lawsuits that are the results of auto accidents in Seattle and communities throughout Washington State every day. Call our attorneys at 1-800-418-8282. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

According to the Tacoma Daily Index, 36 officers, deputies and troopers stopped 558 motorists and issued 288 speeding tickets. An additional 183 citations for unsafe driving were issued including driving aggressively or while suspended or, in the case of teenagers, in violation of intermediate driver's license restrictions.

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June 9, 2008

DSHS and day-care centers reach deal over suits

Two long running civil rights lawsuits have reached a tentative settlement. The suits were brought by Latino-owned day-care centers in Mattawa, in Eastern Washington, against the state Department of Social and Health Services over unauthorized searches and seizures of property.

A federal judge must approve the settlements, but if approved, nine plaintiffs in one case would receive $45,000 each. The suit results would also require the state to revise its manual on handling home child-care inspections and notify all 7,000 day-care centers in the state of the changes. Columbia Legal Services, which represents the day-care owners, would receive $350,000 in fees.

Approximately $1.7 million is the tentative settlement in the other case. But according to DSHS, the split between the 21 plaintiffs and their private Seattle attorneys hasn't been determined.

"We think this is a reasonable solution," said Steve Williams, DSHS spokesman.

According to YakimaHerald.com, “Columbia Legal Services in Wenatchee in 2005 won class-action status on behalf of about 4,000 day-care providers in Washington and a subclass status for all non-English speaking day-care providers in the state. They sought systemic changes within DSHS and unspecified monetary compensation for the nine Mattawa day-care providers.”

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March 4, 2008

Justice sought by mother in daughter's murder

A man who was just released from a Massachusetts prison killed Beverly and Brian Mauck. Daniel Tavares had been let out after serving time for killing his mother. Now Beverly’s mother says she owes it to her murdered daughter and son-in-law to change the state law.

Beverly's mother, Karen Slater, says she feels helpless trying to hold that prison accountable for releasing Tavares. She wants to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the prison but can't do so under the state law. According to the Mauck family, Tavares should have been held in prison longer. He apparently had a history of attacking prison guards and making threats against then-Gov. Mitt Romney.

"Even though there's criminal action, conviction and sentencing occurred, the ability to seek civil action is not allowed," said Rep. Timm Ormsby, R-Spokane.

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February 14, 2008

Former court worker paid by Snohomish County to settle lawsuit

$85,000 has been paid by Snohomish County to a former court worker after she agreed not to file a civil lawsuit alleging that her demotion was retaliation for cooperation with a 2005 state investigation of a judge.

Sherree Marler, who had worked for that court for 26 years, filed a claim against the county, saying that her employment was "terminated" without notice in retaliation for her testimony before the state Judicial Conduct Commission. A lawsuit was prepared, but she continued to negotiate with the county and didn't file it, according to her lawyer, Jean Huffington of Seattle.

And agreement was reached by Marler and the county in November, and the county paid Marler the money last month, Huffington said.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Steven Bladek said that any claim can be a risk to an employer.

"It was determined, as a business decision, this is the best course of action for the county," Bladek said.

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February 12, 2008

Yellow license plate would be required for DUI drivers, under proposed WA bill

Drunk drivers in Washington State may soon have their own fluorescent yellow license plate.

Republican state senator Mike Carrell is sponsoring a bill that would require a person convicted of DUI to drive a vehicle with front and rear fluorescent yellow license plates.

The same thing was required in Ohio four years ago.

"I believe shame will keep people from doing it. Looking at somebody who is driving around with a fluorescent yellow license plate should be a good reason for others to decide 'I don't want to have my neighbors knowing that I'm a drunk,'" said Carrell.

Under the proposal, if someone is a convicted DUI offender and they’re caught driving without the special license plate, they could be charged with a Washington misdemeanor.

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February 4, 2008

Smoker’s award upheld by court

For the third time, the Oregon Supreme Court has allowed a $79.5 million punitive-damages judgment against Philip Morris. This award was twice struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which suggested it was excessive.

Jesse Williams was a longtime Malboro smoker. The money was for his family. Jesse, who started smoking during the Army in the 1950s, died of lung cancer in 1997.

According to www.Seattletimes.com, the Oregon court's decision this week did not contest the U.S. Supreme Court's latest ruling. This ruling said that when juries assess punitive damages, they can punish a defendant only for the harm done to the people suing. But the Oregon court said that a judge’s decision not to allow the jury instructions proposed by Philip Morris at the trial was correct. The instructions were regarding punitive damages, and have been in the middle of the legal battle over the suit brought by Williams' widow. The award was made by a Portland jury in 1999.

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January 31, 2008

Two bills related to drunken driving set to be presented today

All first-time drunken-driving offenders must install an alcohol-detecting interlock device in their cars in order to can get their licenses back, under Washington State Auto law.

But, State Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, wants to change that laws, because offenders often drive illegally for months or even a year or more without a valid license or the device, and that goes into effect only when drunken-driving offenders reapply for licenses.

He has proposed a bill in the Legislature that would create a "provisional" license that would have the locks installed soon after someone is arrested.

Goodman says that while 25% of drunken drivers get their licenses suspended, 75 percent drive anyway and many never get caught.

This bill is modeled after a law in New Mexico. "We want to create this new driver's license that allows them to drive only if you put an interlock on your car," Goodman said.

The ignition-interlock bill is a major drunken-driving proposal before the Legislature this year. But it is not the only one. The other, which is more controversial, is a bill sponsored by Rep. Patricia Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, and endorsed by Gov. Christine Gregoire. It would authorize police to set up sobriety spot checks. This is a practice that hasn’t been seen in Washington since it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1988.

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October 19, 2007

Halloween Costumes Can “Mask” Toxic Dangers

Blocked vision and dark outfits are not the only dangers to be concerned about when choosing a Halloween costume for you or your child. Just as there are toys which have recently been recalled for toxic dangers, Halloween costumes are proving to be a potential hazard as well.

According to a report on www.king5.com , Halloween items that were purchased from a variety of outlets, including Fred Meyer, Halloween Express, and Value Village, were taken to the Washington Toxics Coalition, which uses an X-ray gun to detect toxins. Lead was found right away.

In one costume made by Fun World which contained a medallion to be worn around a child’s neck, 121 parts-per-million of lead was detected. Lead was also found in “Little Brat” party favors, skull bracelet, and pirate sword. Some of the chemicals found in items are associated with toxins like Phthalates that are linked to male reproductive and asthma problems. Erika Schreder, of the Washington Toxics Coalition stated, “I would personally be concerned about a child wearing a PVC mask that they would be getting exposed to phthalates.”

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September 24, 2007

Supreme Court Ruling on Minor Beneficiaries

The Washington State Supreme Court made a controversial decision last month when they upheld a Clark County Superior Court ruling that granted the defendants motion to dismiss in Atchison v. Great Western Malting Company. The court decided that Kaela Atchison, 21, could not file suit for a wrongful death that occurred when she was 15 because the statute of limitations had expired. Atchison, a minor at the time of her father’s death, was unable to file the wrongful death lawsuit until she turned 18. The defendant argued that Atchison needed to file her suit before June 2003. Atchison argued that since she was a minor, the minority tolled (delayed) the statute of limitations. Therefore, the three year statute of limitations would not have begun until she turned 18. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that that statute grants only a personal representative the right to sue for wrongful death and that minor’s cannot perform that role. Justice Bobbe J. Bridge wrote, “Kaela could not have been a person entitled to bring the wrongful death action when the action accrued, thus, the statute of limitations did not toll during her minority.”

Article Source: http://www.legalnewsline.com/news/200242-wash.-sc-limitations-clock-still-ticks-for-minor-beneficiaries

August 12, 2007

Tips to Survive the I-5 Lane Closures

Between August 10th and 29th, drivers in western Washington will face one of the worst traffic headaches in the state’s history. Beginning Friday night, I-5 northbound between Spokane Street and the I-90 exit will be reduced to two or three lanes for construction. The lanes on I-5 will narrow to 10 feet wide and there will be no HOV or shoulder lanes. With the closures, officials are expecting traffic congestion that will affect Seattle and all surrounding regions. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the backups:

• Drive on roads west of I-5. Many northbound roads, including Airport Way South, First Avenue South, Fourth Avenue South, Highway 99, and East Marginal Way South will have their stoplights retimed to make green lights longer along northbound routes. Other measures will also be taken by police and the Coast Guard to help the congestion.

•Use van pools. Van pools registered with transit agencies will have a special rate for the month of August. An eight person van will cost each rider $45, much cheaper then the normal rate of $81.50. Metro provides the van, gas, maintenance, and the insurance. These vans can also use the designated bus and truck lanes on streets like Airport Way South. For more info, visit http://transit.metrokc.gov/tops/van-car/vanpool.html or call 206-625-4500.

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August 11, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collapses, Recovery Beginning

The Interstate 35W Bridge unexpectedly collapsed during the evening commute August 1st. The eight lane bridge, a major artery of Minneapolis, was undergoing repairs when it buckled sending dozens of vehicles into the Mississippi River below. The bridge, built in 1967, was about 1,900 feet long and rose about 64 feet above the river. Over the last week, road crews were out working on the bridge’s joints, guardrails, and lights. During the evening of the collapse, workers were laying concrete on the surface of the bridge completing a routine resurfacing project. This was considered the final phase of the construction project. There were 18 construction workers on the bridge during the collapse, only one is still unaccounted for.

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July 19, 2007

Class-Action Rights Court Ruling

A victory for consumers happened Thursday July 12th when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that consumers cannot sign away their class-action rights. Many times consumers sign contracts agreeing to resolve their disputes through mandatory arbitration. Most people do not realize that when they sign this type of contract they are also waving their right to file a class action law suit against the company. A consumer may come across this type of contract when signing up for such things as credit cards, wireless service, buying new cars, and for employment. According to Justice Tom Chambers, the class-action waiver denies large number of consumers the protection of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

In 2004, five consumers sued Cingular Wireless, now AT&T, citing improper billing for long distance calls and roaming charges. The consumers were overcharged from an average of $1 to $45 each month for calls that were supposed to be free. Instead of going after Cingular individually, they decided to band together and form a class-action law suit against the company. They filed the suit for themselves and for others who were similarly overcharged. Even though none of the five consumers were significantly overcharged, they claimed that Cingular unilaterally overcharged the public large sums of money. After filing the suit, a King County Superior Court judge denied the class-action because of the contract the consumers had previously signed with Cingular. The judge ordered the claimants into individual arbitration with the company.

Fortunately for consumers, the Washington State Supreme Court disagreed with the judge’s orders. In the court’s majority opinion, class action “is often the only meaningful type of redress for small but widespread injury,” and “claims as small as those in this case are impracticable to pursue on an individual basis even in small claims court, and particularly in arbitration.” A spokesperson for AT&T stated that the company still believes that consumers are better off pursuing arbitration rather than through class-action.

Article Source: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/323520_arbitration13.html

July 13, 2007

August I-5 Northbound Lane Closures

Starting August 10th the Department of Transportation (DOT) will close two to three lanes of Interstate 5 northbound between the West Seattle Bridge and the 1-5/1-90 interchange. The lane closures will last all day and continue through August 29th. These closures are expected to slow traffic on I-5 and cause congestion on I-405, the I-90 Bridge, Highway 99, and on surface streets throughout the area. According to Jamie Holter, a DOT spokeswoman, this will be the largest-scale DOT highway closure ever in Seattle.

About 130,000 drivers daily use the stretch of I-5 where the construction will take place. The DOT is hoping that about half of those driver’s will find alternate routes during the lane closures. The agency is encouraging drivers to plan their alternate routes now. They say if people do not find alternate routes, the backups on I-5 could extend to Tacoma and congestion in the area could last from 4:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m. In order to help drivers, the DOT will provide alternate route maps and updates on traffic conditions on their web site.

During the closures, DOT crews will be replacing metal joints on the roadway. Currently the joints are outdated and may pop up into the middle of the freeway. The crews will also repave the highway. Holter stated that replacing the joints is a very time consuming and complex job and that is why weekend or night closures were ruled out.

There will also be some on-ramp closures throughout the surrounding area:

-The Spokane Street on-ramp will close for two weekends
-The Columbian Way on-ramp will be closed
-One lane of northbound Airport Way South will be for transit and trucks only
-Northbound I-5 exits to Fourth Avenue South, I-90 and James, Madison and Dearborn streets will close periodically
-Other onramps will be closed and northbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane at night

Click here to read the full news article.