Articles Posted in Kirk Bernard

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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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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Two men sustained serious injuries after the scaffolding they were standing on collapsed, according to a recent report. The construction accident occurred in the 3900 block of 48th Avenue South in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. The two men were taken to Harborview Medical Center. One of the victims was listed in serious condition while the other was in satisfactory condition. Officials are looking into what caused the accident. The men were apparently construction workers who were working on a house in the area.

As a skilled Washington personal injury attorney, Kirk Bernard is familiar with how falls from scaffolds are one of the main causes of Washington construction accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that more than 2 million construction workers operate on scaffolds each year. In addition, OSHA estimates that protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year. However, not all construction companies or contractors follow the safety standards and procedures that are meant to keep workers safe on scaffolds. These are injuries and deaths, which can be easily prevented.
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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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The driver of a Toyota was injured in a Bellevue auto accident after he drove the wrong way and collided head-on with a construction vehicle. According to a news report, the crash occurred when a man in a 1998 Toyota entered the Interstate 90 the wrong way from an HOV off-ramp. He ended up crashing head-on with a large road construction vehicle parked near an exit at 150th Avenue SE in Bellevue. The driver of the Toyota was trapped inside and had to be extricated. He was taken to a Seattle hospital with critical injuries. No one else was injured in this crash. Washington State Patrol officials say the driver may have been under the influence of alcohol.

This accident is yet another reminder that driving under the influence is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries or death. In this case, it is extremely fortunate that this wrong-way driver did not injure anyone else. Yet, it is unfortunate that the driver sustained injury. As any motorist or Seattle car accident attorney should know, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also a serious crime in Washington State. According to the Revised Code of Washington Section 46.61.502, driving under the influence is when “a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within the state.” It is also illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.
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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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Men’s Health and USA Today released a recent study, which lists Spokane 51st among the “Drunkest Cities” in the United States. According to a KREM news report, these rankings are based on 100 major cities in the country that have high numbers of DUI car accidents, high death rates from liver disease, DUI arrests and severe binge drinking. In fact, Spokane ranked higher than Seattle on this list. Seattle is ranked the 64th drunkest city in the United States.

According to Washington State Patrol officials, there were 100 DUI auto accidents in Spokane County in 2009. Last year there were three high-profile DUI crashes in Spokane, which may have drawn attention to the Lilac City. In December, there was a triple fatal crash on the Interstate 90 where the driver was drunk.

Driving drunk is illegal in all 50 states. In Washington State, as in most other states, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. If you or a loved one has been injured in a DUI car accident caused by another driver, please remember that you have a legal right to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and loss. Seattle car accident attorneys may be able to help an injured individual hold a driver who was under the influence financially responsible for causing the accident and resulting injuries.
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A 35-year-old man was recently hospitalized with injuries he sustained in a Washington bicycle accident. According to a news report, the bicyclist was headed east on a road in Bainbridge Island when a driver pulled out in front of the bike and caused the collision. The bicyclist was transported to a Seattle hospital with serious injuries. However, officials said that his injuries were not life-threatening. The bicyclist was wearing proper reflective gear and had lights on his bicycle; however, the car’s driver apparently told officials that he was not able to see the bicyclist. The Kitsap County prosecutor’s office is reviewing the case to determine whether any charges should be filed.

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 698 bicyclists died in 2007 nationwide and about 43,000 were injured. Bicycle accidents often occur because motorists are not actively looking for smaller vehicles such as bicycles or motorcyclists when they attempt a turn on the roadway or come out of a parking lot. As a bicycle accident victim, if you have been injured by a negligent driver, you could seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost earnings, cost of hospitalization, physical therapy and other related damages.
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Falls from scaffolds are one of the main causes of Washington construction accidents. When a worker is on a scaffold, a number of things could go wrong. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that more than 2 million construction workers work on scaffolds each year. In addition, OSHA estimates that protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year.

As a skilled Seattle personal injury attorney, Kirk Bernard knows that some of the most common hazards include falls from elevation due to lack of fall protection; scaffold collapse; being struck by falling tools or object; and electrocution because of the proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines. If you work on scaffolds, here are the top 7 safety tips:

  1. Make sure that a competent person has inspected the scaffold before you work on it.
  2. Wear protective gear, including a hard hat whether you are working on or under a scaffold.
  3. Use a personal fall arrest system such as a harness.
  4. Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles.
  5. Always use common sense and move slowly and carefully. If you are not sure if a scaffold is safe, talk to a supervisor.
  6. Never overload a scaffold or hit a scaffold with anything heavy such as truck or forklift.
  7. Use an outdoor scaffold in stormy or windy weather or if it is covered with ice or snow.

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You could be left agonizing for days about the right car seat for your little one. After all, it is the car seat, which you count on to protect one of your most precious family members. So, how do you select a secure car seat that will not break the bank and keep your child safe and comfortable? Here are the top five questions you can ask yourself to help pick that perfect car seat:

  1. Is it easy to install? – If it looks too complicated, it’s not the car seat for you. You need a car seat that is easy to install CORRECTLY. If you do not install the seat properly, your baby may not be secure. You also need to look for a base that you can permanently install in the car. After that, all you’ll need to do is settle the seat securely into the base and buckle up your child. Life is busy enough with a little one around. Keep it simple.
  2. Are there adequate restraints? – Remember that you need to look for an infant seat with a five-point safety harness. The straps – one for each shoulder, one for each thigh and one between your baby’s legs – are more adjustable and therefore safer for an infant. Car seats with plastic shields or T-bar restraints should be avoided.
  3. Are the belts easily adjustable? – Do not buy seats that require you to adjust the buckle from the back of the seats. Buy one that will allow you to easily adjust the belt from the front.
  4. Does it have a LATCH system? – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that all child safety seats be compatible with a LATCH system, which is short for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system enables you to attach the seat directly to the vehicle instead of using the seatbelt to secure it.
  5. How easily can it be kept clean? : Although this is not a safety issue, you want to make sure that car seats come with pad covers you can remove and wash easily. Let’s face it, babies are messy. And finally, you want to buy a well-padded seat with good head support so baby has a comfortable ride. That way, so will you!

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