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Articles Posted in Unsafe vehicles

Recall Is Largest, Most Fraudulent in History

The airbag was considered one of the most effective auto safety advances in auto manufacturing history. But over 15 years ago, they began exploding without warning, killing at least six people and seriously injuring at least 139 others. Takata, the company that produced most of them, denied it was at fault.

But pressured by over 100 lawsuits, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), fines, and loss of revenue, Takata admitted its airbags were dangerously defective yesterday. It also agreed to recall another 17 million vehicles. This brings the total number to a shocking 34 million — one out of seven of the vehicles on U.S. roads. Takata still effectively denies that it was at fault. 

This is the largest recall in automotive history, surpassing even the G.M.ignition switch debacle. Both companies knew about their defective products for many years and engaged in massive fraud which endangered drivers all over the world. I’ve blogged about these corporate cover-ups and am glad that the public will be better protected.

Takata Aware of the Dangers Since 2000

When there is an impact, gas inside a canister is ignited which rapidly inflates the airbag. Takata’s airbags contained an ammonium nitrate propellant that is commonly used in fertilizer — think back to what happened to the town of West two years ago when it blew up.  But it is cheaper to use than the previously used propellant based on tetrazole. Unfortunately, it is highly risk because it is sensive to moisture, obviously a problem in humid states like Texas. The canister can quickly heat up, then violently explodes.  This sends sharp metal fragments flying into the interior of the vehicle like shrapnel. The shards of metal can lacerate, blind, or even kill the driver and front seat passenger. Other drivers on the road are obviously at risk if a driver goes out of control. It’s a nightmare waiting to happen.

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GM Claims to Protect Trade Secrets; Victims Fight to Protect Consumers 

The Texas Supreme Court decided almost 30 years ago that attorneys could share information gathered in automobile defect cases. The issue has come before the court several times when large corporations sought to restrict the rights of plaintiffs’ legal teams to share information. However, in each case, the case has settled before the Texas Supreme Court could affirm the precedent case law. The issue is likely to be before the court in the near future, according to an article in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News. Which way will the court rule?

GM Defect Lead To Original Precedent

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Crash Tests Show Serious Defects in Popular Minivan Models

The minivan is a staple for many Texas families that need to tout several children around town. Parents are able to fit their kids, sports equipment, groceries and multitude other items into these convenient vehicles, which also have a reputation for being very safe.

But how safe is your minivan? Although popular minivan models performed well on older testing platforms, they exhibited serious flaws when subjected to the new small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In some cases, the researchers had to cut the test dummy out of the vehicle using a crowbar. Had the dummy been a human being, the driver would have suffered horrific leg injuries.

Small Overlap Front Crash Tests

The small overlap front crash test replicates a common accident scenario in which the driver strikes another car or s stationary object — such as a pole or tree — with the front corner of the vehicle. The new test was introduced because these types of frontend corner crashes account for one-fourth of fatal and severe automobile accident injuries in vehicles that had previously earned a Good rating in the IIHS’s older version of the front overlap test. In the new test, 25 percent of the front end of the vehicle on the driver’s side hits a solid barrier at a speed of 40 mph, mimicking a typical real-life situation.

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President Nominates Mark R. Rosekind to Fill National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vacancy

Shrapnel that flies from an exploding airbag; a lance-like highway guardrail that pierces a crashing car; a malfunctioning ignition switch that sends a car hurdling into speeding traffic; a sleep-deprived tractor-trailer driver who rams into a car and kills its occupants. These horrific incidents make daily headlines in what has been described as a series of safety crises in the transportation industry. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) has been slow to take action to protect the public from these serious dangers.That may be about to change with a new leader at the agency’s helm.

President Obama has nominated an unusual candidate, Mark R. Rosekind, as chief of the N.H.T.S.A. Often this position goes to a person from the automotive industry or from within the agency. Mr. Rosekind currently occupies a position on the National Transportation Safety Board (N.T.S.B.) and is a specialist in human fatigue. The members of the N.T.S.B. regularly butt heads with auto industry executives because of the expensive safety recommendations it often proposes. Mr. Rosekind won even more critics in 2013 with his recommendation that the blood alcohol concentration per se intoxication standard be set at .05 percent down from the existing level of .08 percent — a proposal I highly support.

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Profit Before Safety is a Disturbing Trend in the Auto Industry

Airbags represent one of the most important advancements in vehicle safety. When a car crashes, the airbags deploy to create a cushion that absorbs the impact. Frighteningly, one change in the Takata airbag design has turned this innovative device into a deadly weapon. The reason for the change? To save money, of course.

In a shocking trend, Takata joins G.M. and Trinity in the list of auto industry corporations that put drivers at risk to save a buck.Takata has recalled approximately 7.8 million airbags installed in 10 different types of vehicles that contain exploding propellant canisters.

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General Motors issued the biggest recall in auto history nine months ago. What caused this extraordinary event? A design flaw that GM knew about for 10 years that caused the engine, steering, brakes and airbags to suddenly shut down, leaving drivers vulnerable to horrific crashes. Despite the serious risks, G.M. dealers are turning away drivers who are forced to wait for months for repairs to the deadly defect.

Another Woman Killed Because G.M Dealers Refused to Make Repairs

25 year-old Brittany Alfarone tried twice to have the ignition switch of her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt repaired, but dealers refused. The first certified G.M. dealer claimed the car was ineligible for repairs because she bought it from a towing company following a crash. The second certified G.M. dealer told her the car had already been repaired before she bought it and was safe to drive. Tragically, she believed him.

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Post Halloween note: the federal agency that regulates vehicle safety has ordered the giant airbag supplier Takata to produce its internal documents. Why? Its airbags explode even without an impact and shoot metal shards into the faces and bodies of drivers. Sounds like a nightmare on Elm Street.

Company officials will also have to give sworn testimony about its production, quality control, and knowledge of the defect. This promises to be a bonanza for plaintiff’s attorneys who have — and will — sue the company for producing this deadly product that ironically is designed to protect drivers. My law firm is investigating these cases.

This is good news — unless the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration backs down again.

Five years ago, NHTSA asked Takata and Honda — the car maker with the most airbags from this supplier — to produce information about the defect. Then, suddenly, the government shut down its investigation and the airbags continued to be installed.

Over 14 million cars — most in the U.S. — have been recalled, starting in 2008.

To demonstrate the power of airbags, and in deference to Halloween last night, here is a video of an airbag exploding inside a pumpkin.

But the government has known about this catastrophe since 2000. Multiple lawsuits have been filed after drivers were killed or seriously injured.
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Berenson Injury Law is investigating claims for people who were injured or for the familes of those who were tragically killed in collisions involving GM vehicles that have been recalled due to defective ignition switches or other mechanical problems.

If you or a loved one were injured in a crash involving one of these vehicles listed below, please contact us today for a free consultation at 1-888-801-8585.

Damage Claim Filings Begin This Friday For Defective Ignition Switches
Beginning on August 1st, damage claims can be submitted for drivers who were injured or who died due to defective GM ignition switches. This office stands ready to assist you.

Over 2.6 small, often basic General Motors cars had defective ignition switches. This caused the key to suddenly turn off, shutting down the engine, brakes, steering, and air bags. Even something as minor as the driver’s knee brushing against the key ring or the vehicle hitting a pot hole could suddenly move the switch to “off” and cause a crash. It only would have cost GM 57 cents per switch to fix the problem. GM chose not to spend this paltry sum, fully aware that fatal wrecks would occur.

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Latest Recall Announced Today In Connection With Defective Switches

General Motors yesterday recalled another 8.4 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches that disabled their cars while people were driving. This brings the total number of its recalled vehicles in the U. S. for the first half of this year to an astonishing 25 million.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, 303 people were killed after their steering, brakes and airbags suddenly became disabled and they crashed. GM claims that it only knew about 13 deaths, which it only acknowledged many years after the design defect was first noticed — and only after attorneys proved this in lawsuits. If General Motors had not delayed its recalls for 13 years after it first learned of the defect back in 2001, hundreds of lives would have been spared.

I attended the monthly luncheon of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association today and heard an excellent presentation by well known Dallas vehicle defect attorney Todd Tracy on this topic.

What if you were driving your vehicle at a reasonable speed while wearing your seat belt obeying all the traffic laws and no other driver was being careless. You would think that you would be safe, right? But what if a part of your vehicle was defective and causes you to crash or you are in a collision and you are seriously injured or not protected by a vehicle component. Should the auto or truck maker be held responsible?
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