Trump moves to stop Screening Truck Drivers for Sleep Disorder

The Trump administration has withdrawn a proposed law to screen truckers for a hazardous sleep condition.  Sleep apnea can threaten the lives of every driver on the road, because sleep-deprived drivers are a potential danger to every other driver.  Nevertheless, President Trump sees it as an unnecessary regulation overly burdensome to truckers.

How Asleep should Truckers Be on the Road?
The Atlantic Monthly asks, “How asleep should truck drivers be on the job?” Public Citizen, meanwhile, is leading a related lawsuit against President Trump’s edict that no new regulation can be put into law unless two other regulations are rescinded. This idea – backed by the Koch Brothers, Chamber of Commerce and ALEC – may benefit corporations, but it puts ordinary citizens at risk.

Conductor with Sleep Apnea injures 100 People
Sleep apnea entered the national safety debate with a bang last summer in New Jersey when a conductor with undiagnosed sleep apnea crashed his train into a crowded station in Hoboken.  That accident injured more than 100 people. Obstructive sleep apnea affects alertness. It can make people spontaneously sleep even during stimulating activities.

The New Jersey accident is just one high profile case. How many tragic trucking accidents have been caused by truck drivers with undiagnosed sleep apnea?  That number is sure to be at least in the hundreds, considering the number of commercial truck drivers and train engineers who use the nation’s public roads and rail tracks.

In March of 2016, the Obama administration proposed that deadly sleep-related accidents should be prevented where possible. One approach was to begin sleep apnea-screening of train engineers and truck drivers.

On August 11, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had withdrawn that proposed sleep test requirement. The reason was the same as always, part of a larger effort to remove any regulations that might limit economic growth.

NTSB “Disappointed” with Change
The National Transportation Safety Board, which has advocated screening truckers for sleep apnea for years, said through a spokesmodel that it was “disappointed” that the DOT withdrew this “much-needed” rule.

Sleep Apnea affects 1 in 10 People
The sleep-inducing condition is increasingly common, affecting at least one in 10 people to some degree. Obstructive sleep apnea in serious cases can give someone symptoms that sound like classic narcolepsy. Such a person can fall asleep with little to no warning. It is similar to narcolepsy, though the primary problem is respiratory. People with sleep apnea don’t breathe well while sleeping at night. This degrades the quality of the sleep, and leaves people impaired and exhausted throughout the day.

Trump moves to stop Screening Truck Drivers for Sleep Disorder
The problem with dropping screening is that sleep apnea applies even to many people who report sleeping well for seven or eight hours each night. These people are unaware that their breathing interruptions are precluding deep, restorative cycles. Without those deep cycles, accidents are more likely to happen. It only makes sense to screen people whose jobs involve trucking or training enormous machines at high velocities, always a potential recipe for human tragedy.

Trucker Objections Fair

Many truckers fairly object to being tested for sleep apnea if they have to pay for it themselves.  It can cost upwards of $1,000.  The fair answer is to make the corporations pay for the testing.   Those that make the most profits from our roads need to pay the freight to better safeguard those who do the heavy lifting and the OTR driving, as well as all the rest of us who must travel on public roads.

 

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Houston Bus Kills Walker

The first Houston pedestrian-killed-khou-photopedestrian to be killed in 2017 lost his life around 6:30 Tuesday, Jan. 11. The man was hit by an empty METRO bus in downtown Houston at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Milam Street.

Police, still investigating the crash, said the walking man died at the scene. Authorities told KHOU that the bus contained no passengers. The driver is reported to have worked with METRO for more than 10 years.

Related:   Houston Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Record Number of Houston Pedestrians Killed in 2016
The latest bus accident death suggests that Houston is entering 2017 the way it left 2016, as one of the country’s most dangerous cities to walk. Houston set a record for pedestrian deaths in 2016, when more than 71 walkers were killed by Houston cars, trucks and buses.

U.S. Dangerous for Pedestrians
The entire United States is not a very safe place to walk. Roughly a dozen people a day are murdered by car, truck, or bus drivers. While “terrorism” threats scream daily in all the national headlines in the mainstream media, on television and in fake newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times (which both trumpeted U.S. Government lies about Iraq ‘s non-existent WMD’s to justify illegal and endless war, among other transgressions), none seem interested in the deaths of some 4,400 walking Americans each year. That numbers represents way more Americans than are killed by “terrorists” each year. Where is the public outcry for all these walkers’ deaths? Where is the outrage? Why is this huge number of senseless deaths acceptable?

Houston Bus Kills Walker

The man killed yesterday was not a statistic any more than the thousands of Americans and dozens of Houstonians killed each year by cars, trucks, and buses. He was a human being, with a family, friends, and hopes and desires just like any of us.  It’s easy, perhaps, to imagine that  any of us reading this will not be hit by a Houston bus, truck, or automobile; it’s much harder to imagine that Houston and our country have our priorities in order when so many of us are allowed to be murdered by motorcars.

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Houston Pedestrian Accident Deaths Increase

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Houston Pedestrian Accident Deaths Increase in 2016

Houston is a crosswalk dangerous city to walk, and it grows more dangerous by the day. More pedestrians were killed by  Houston drivers in 2016 than in any previous year. In Houston, even the police chief hits walkers with his car.

Related: Houston Pedestrian Accident Attorney

71 Houston Pedestrians Killed

As of October 31, 2016, at least 71 pedestrians were killed, and the year isn’t yet complete. Local police say they are investigating the rising death toll for walkers, but that itself may be problematic. Houston police chief Charles McClelland was suspended in 2013 by Mayor Annise Parker after video showed him running over pedestrian James Harris. Mr. McClelland was driving a city-owned Jeep Cherokee at the intersection of Travis and Clay when a walking man got in his way.

Distracted Driving

Mr. Harris was six steps into the crosswalk when the chief smashed into him. He was lucky to survive. Houston police, meanwhile, have determined that many of the walker deaths in the city occurred when pedestrians did not use crosswalks while attempting to cross local streets or roads. The police chief’s own walker smash up, however, undercuts that conclusion. Many experienced walkers have learned to fear crossing at a crosswalk for good reason, including (no doubt, now) the hapless Mr. Harris. Other studies have shown crosswalks can be more dangerous places for pedestrians to cross a street than jaywalking places.

Not using the crosswalks is clearly not the only reason for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths in Houston. Houston’s urban planners guess that the mortality increase for walkers is due to more and more people walking. Many people do walk to improve their health, which in Houston clearly may not be a “healthy” choice.

Distracted Walking

The solution may lie in narrowing car lanes (which Houston has done in some cases, as on Drexel Lane in Greenway), strongly emphasizing safe speeds, building more sidewalks, adding more crosswalks. Much of Houston’s urban design may well be flawed; it could certainly use some improvements. In addition to distracted driving such as the Houston police chief’s, distracted walking with a cell phone may be a factor in some accidents. (We’ve all been annoyed by a dawdling walker texter not paying attention to the 3-D world we all need to abide.) Distracted driving combined with distracted walking can clearly be a perfect storm, a deadly combination.

Related: Most Dangerous Cities for Walking

U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Increase in 2016

Texas is not the only state to see an increase in pedestrian deaths. In October 2016, U.S. Department of Transport figures show that January to June saw an increase of 10.4 percent more traffic deaths in the United States compared to the same period in 2015.

The constant pull of texting and the internet have allowed us to imagine that life is more abstract than it is. It’s a terrible wakeup call for the Houston chief of police or some other distracted driver to smash into and injure or kill a pedestrian. Let’s hope the rest of us Houston drivers and walkers wake up before it’s too late.

Free Legal Consultation

Contact a Houston Pedestrian accident attorney if you or someone you love was injured in a car accident. We offer a no-obligation free legal consultation.

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Big rig falls off Houston 59 Ramp, Kills One

December 21, 2016 –khou-photo A big rig fell off a Houston 59 ramp and killed at least one person this morning. The  18-wheeler crash and fire slowed traffic both north and south on the 59 Eastex Freeway. At 7 a.m., TranStar cameras showed flames shooting from the toppled big rig on the side of the freeway’s northbound lanes at the 610 North Loop.

KHOU reported that all northbound main lanes of 59 remained shut down at 9 a.m. Traffic was being forced onto the loop eastbound. Only one southbound lane of 59 was getting by, with significant delays, inbound from Humble and Kingwood.

Truck falls on Car
Police at the scene said they believed the 18-wheeler fell off an elevated ramp onto the lanes below, then burst into flames. Firefighters said another car was also involved in the incident. The truck is believed to have fallen on or in front of that other car and killed at least one person.

Officials said the 59 freeway will probably not reopen until sometime in the afternoon.

Truckers often not at fault in crashes

Truck drivers are often automatically blamed in such crashes, but often they are not the ones most at fault. Companies frequently push truck drivers too hard for too many hours, and pay them too little for their trouble, making their work lives dangerous for all of us.

OTR Truckers often Overworked

In the spirit of the holidays and our shared responsibilities to watch out for one another, it is important to remember that OTR truckers perform a task as vital to our lives as food and water. In fact, most of us would not have food and water were it not for 18-wheeler drivers trucking these life essentials to our neighborhoods. In point of fact, the comfortable living most of usually take for granted would not even be possible without truckers. The food we eat, the fuel that heats and cools our homes, the wood and steel that builds them, the clothes we wear – nearly our entire lives are  dependent on those driving 18-wheelers.

Dangers of Tired and Overworked Truck Drivers 

Truck drivers are, unfortunately, often expected to drive too far in too short a time. Many trucking companies pay drivers by the mile rather than by the hour, putting added pressure on truckers to overwork themselves.  Under certain circumstances, this type of compensation might arguably be seen as a company’s negligent encouragement of an employee’s speeding, driving without proper rests or breaks, driving while fatigued. This can create treacherous conditions for the driver as well as everyone else risking their lives on the same roads.

We mourn the tragic loss of another human life this morning on Houston’s busy highways, and we pray for the safety of our truckers and all the rest of us driving  this holiday season.

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Cell Phones and Car Crashes

Cell Phones and text-and-drivecar crashes are as American as the glorification of fake news and military violence. America’s cell phone obsession comes at an awful steep price. Drivers using cell phones cause 1.6 million auto crashes each year, according to the National Safety Council. Some 330,000 accidents are caused by texting while driving. One of every four car accidents involves texting and driving. Texting while driving is even more dangerous than drinking and driving; a driving texter is six times (6x) more likely to cause an accident than a drunk driver.

Teen Texters fare worse than Adults
Eleven teenagers are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of texting while driving. A Triple poll shows 94% of teens acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, yet 35% admit they do it anyway. So many will be killed by this habit, or will kill or maim others. Statistics show that twenty-one percent (21%) of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted by cell phones. Teen drivers are four times (4x) more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.

Texting & Driving tops Danger List
Texting while driving is by far the most dangerous cell phone activity. (Though holding it tightly to the head may also get you cancer, eventually.) Answering a text takes focus from driving for roughly five seconds, which, at 55 mph, gives a distracted driver the length of a football field to do some damage. That leads to a lot of dead teens, or their unwitting passengers, or other drivers or pedestrians trying to share the road.

It is quite ironic how many continue to text and drive and kill and maim one another, because 94% of Americans support a ban on texting and driving, while 74% support a ban on the use of a hand-held cell phone.

Cell Phone Distractions
At any given moment in the day, roughly 660,000 people are distracting themselves with their phones while commanding a two-ton murder machine.  Doesn’t anyone have time just to drive anymore?  How is all of our so-called “multi-tasking” improving our lives when we are killing one another at such appalling rates?

U.S. Cell Phone Driving Statistics – 2013
In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-related crashes. Roughly 424,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. (That is a LOT of people. Imagine the cost, and what is lost.)  In 2013, 10% of all drivers aged 15-19 involved in fatal crashes were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash.

Teen Statistics
Drivers would do well to be especially wary of teenaged drivers. You might want to  take a road  that bi-passes that local school down the street. Consider: one-fourth of teen drivers respond to at least one text message every time they drive, while 20% of teens and 10% of parents report that they engage in multiple life-threatening text message exchanges while driving.

Meanwhile, nearly half (48%) of all death machine operators admit to answering their cell phones while driving.

Cell Phones and Car Crashes

Of those drivers who answer their cell phones, 58% continued to drive while talking. In the survey, 24% of drivers reported that they are also willing to make a phone call while driving. One in ten drivers surveyed said they sometimes send text  messages or emails while driving. Of the drivers surveyed, 14% said they read text messages or emails while driving.

Texting Pedestrian Study – 2012
The only thing more annoying than waiting for the texter in front of you to drive his car through the green light may be waiting for the ambulating texter to move her butt across the crosswalk. We all know the interminable time it seems to take to watch texters react to the three dimensional world outside of their text bubbles.

University of Washington researchers studied 20 of Seattle’s busiest intersections. They found that walkers texting are four times less likely to look before crossing the street, cross in crosswalks, or obey traffic signals. They also found walking texters take an average of two seconds longer to cross the street. (Aargh!)

Cell Phone Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it may have been caused by a texting driver, or one distracted by a cell phone. In such cases, we typically secure the perpetrator’s cell phone records.  Contact us for a free legal consultation.

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Exploding Air Bag Lawsuit filed in Texas

A woman nearly Takata admits Airbags Defectivekilled by an exploding air bag in an otherwise minor traffic accident has filed a lawsuit against Takata and Honda. The petition seeks more than $1 million in damages.

Related: Air Bag Lawsuit Lawyer

The Takata air bag exploded Sept. 11, 2016, in the low-speed crash of a 2002 Honda Civic. The defective bag sent shards of metal into Serena Martinez, 42 in Fort Bend County, Texas. The shrapnel severely cut her chest and arm.

Ms. Martinez said she is lucky to be alive. The metal shards narrowly missed a major artery as they pierced her chest instead of her neck.

Related: Takata Air Bag Blinds Man

“I thought I was going to bleed to death,” said Ms. Martinez. “I don’t understand how something that was supposed to protect me (caused) my injuries.”

Exploding Takata Airbag

The air bag in the 2002 Civic was made by Takata Corp., a Japanese auto parts company that enjoys 30% of the world’s airbag market. Takata air bags are inflated by explosive ammonium nitrate in a metal canister. The problem can occur if the ammonium nitrate burns all at once. That occurrence can then blow the canister into metal shrapnel that can penetrate passengers and injure or kill them.

Exploding Airbag Deaths

Exploding Takata air bags are believed to be implicated in the deaths of at least 16 people, while more than 50 injuries have been reported, most of them in America. The potentially fatal aibag problem has triggered the largest safety recall in U.S. history – some 70 million airbag inflators sold by 15 automakers.

Humidity, Moisture Related Problems

Air bag injury lawyers allege that Takata has known for decades ammonium nitrate can be dangerously unstable, especially with moisture exposure. Most explosions have occurred in hot and humid regions in the U.S. By year 2019, regulators want Takata to recall all of its airbags which use ammonium nitrate with no drying agent.

Exploding Air Bag Lawsuit filed in Texas

Ms. Martinez lawsuit was filed October 31, 2016 in state district court in Houston, Texas.

Takata Air Bag Settlement in Houston

A confidential Hondasettlement was recently reached in a similar case. On March 31, 2016, 17-year-old Huma Hanif was killed in a 2002 Honda Civic near Houston. She rear-ended another auto in a low speed accident, but her Takata air bag exploded and sent metal shrapnel into her neck. Ms. Hanif died at the scene of that accident.

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Volkswagen Settlement Approved – $15 Billion

A federal VWjudge Oct. 25, 2016 ruled that a $15 billion payment from Volkswagen will settle the company’s U.S. emissions scandal. The legal action helped put into motion an enormous vehicle buyback program. It also green-lighted ongoing environmental remediation requirements faced by the German automaker.

Fair, Reasonable, Adequate

Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco approved the settlement agreement between VW car owners, the U.S. government, California regulators, and Volkswagen. The judge penned the ruling a week after indicating he was likely to approve the settlement. He called the agreement “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

VW rigged software on 11 million autos

About one year ago, Volkswagen admitted to rigging software on 11 million VW vehicles worldwide in order to dodge emissions standards.

Volkswagen still faces criminal investigations by the U.S. Justice Department as well as German prosecutors. The U.S. investigation could lead to more monetary penalties and criminal indictments.

Settlement affects 475,000 VW Owners

The settlement agreement allows some 475,000 Volkswagen owners in the U.S. to choose between taking a buyback or accepting a free fix and financial compensation, if a repair should become available.

Buyback estimates range from $12,475 to $44,176, and include restitution payments. VW owners who opt for an EPA-approved fix will receive payouts from $5,100 and $9,852, depending on their cars’ book values.

$4.7 Billion for Environmental Fines

As part of the settlement, the German automaker will also pay $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation, in addition to $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure.

Volkswagen has also agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement with dealers it tricked with the emissions doctoring.

VW Diesel Owners also Affected
VW is also negotiating a separate settlement with some 80,000 owners of 3-liter diesel autos also doctored with bogus software.

More than 336,000 of the eligible VW owners have already registered to accept the settlement. They could still back out, however, if VW can’t find a fix for the doctored software. The company has yet to receive approval from the U.S. EPA. If it fails to get approval, everyone will be offered the buyback option.

Fewer than 1% of eligible VW owners opted out of the deal before its September 2016 deadline. Those who failed to respond to the offer are automatically considered to have accepted it.

Volkswagen Settlement Approved – $15 Billion

Some two dozen VW owners objected to the deal during an Oct. 18, 2016 hearing. Most objections concerned the payout amount, though some criticized VW’s duplicitous “clean diesel” advertising while the company was purposefully polluting.

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Defective Takata Air Bags in New Vehicles

At least four auto Takata admits Airbags Defectivemakers have confirmed defective Takata air bags are installed in their new vehicles. Those bags will need to be replaced, according to a U.S. Senate panel that met this summer, as the government continues to tackle the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

Related: Air Bag Lawsuit Lawyer

Four automakers have confirmed the installation of rupture-prone Takata air bags that lack a drying agent: Toyota Motor Corp.; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV; Volkswagen AG; Mitsubishi Motors Corp. According to a summer 2016 report from U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Democrats, those air bags are linked to most of the deaths and injuries from ruptures. The defective bags are allowed to be sold, but all must be recalled by the close of 2018.

Ammonium Nitrate Propellant

Ammonium nitrate is used as a propellant in the Takata air bag inflaters. It can destabilize from prolonged moisture and heat exposure, leading to explosions that can send shrapnel into people in vehicle cabins. The inflaters weaken and worsen with age, becoming more prone to explosion. The exploding air bag problem is linked to at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries world-wide.

70 Million Air Bags Recalled

Nearly 70 million air bags have been recalled in the U.S. after a recent recall expansion included air bag devices without a drying agent to prevent moisture buildup. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) coordinating the recalls is prioritizing warmer states where air bags have higher explosion risks. Regulators now monitor Takata and may order more recalls. Officials have said some air bags will need to be replaced more than once, as newer devices, which still have problems, replace older, explosion-prone air bags.

The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that federal car-safety regulators fined a Chevrolet dealership in Arizona $40,000 after a two-year investigation found it selling unrepaired recalled vehicles. That violated U.S. law, according to NHTSA website documents.

Additional 40 Million Recalled

Takata is set to recall up to 40 million more air-bag inflaters. That adds to the 28.8 million air bags already recalled.

The recall and actions continue an unprecedented U.S. government crackdown on the auto industry for safety lapses that have triggered congressional hearings, investigations, and monetary fines. In November 2015, Takata agreed to fines for failing to alert regulators to defective air bags in a timely manner as required by law. Takata faces more fines, depending on the outcome of a U.S. Justice Department investigation.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) a persistent critic of Takata and car-safety regulators’ handling of widespread recalls, released his report in June 2016. It found that Toyota still expects to produce some 175,000 vehicles with the defective air bags, from March 2016 to July 2017.

Models with Defective Air Bags

At least one current Fiat Chrysler model contains a front passenger-side air bag with an inflater that lacks a drying agent, the report found. The Toyota and Fiat Chrysler models weren’t specified.

The report cited several car models with defective air bags that lack a drying agent:

  • 2016 and 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • 2016 Volkswagen CC
  • 2016 Audi TT
  • 2017 Audi R8

Volkswagen’s luxury unit, Audi, said through a spokesman that Volkswagen launched a recall in February 2016 and is following NHTSA guidelines to replace certain Takata air bags.

Fiat Chrysler
A Fiat Chrysler spokesman said the company isn’t putting parts under recall into any new vehicles. A Toyota spokesman said Toyota is phasing out Takata air bag inflaters that lack a drying agent in vehicles being built now.

Mitsubishi
A Mitsubishi spokesman said the company is working with another supplier to develop replacements for the air bag inflaters in the two models lawmakers mentioned, with a recall expected in early 2017 once parts are ready.

2.1 Million Exploding Bag Vehicles?

The report found more than 2.1 million replacement air bag inflaters with ammonium nitrate sans a drying agent installed in U.S. vehicles as of March 2016. Democratic lawmakers suggested sales of vehicles with those air bags be halted until they are repaired.

The report also faulted lagging repairs to vehicles with defective air bags and urged Takata, regulators, and auto makers, to increase supply of devices that don’t use ammonium nitrate. More than 70% of replacement air bag inflaters now come from auto parts’ makers besides Takata, said a U.S. official.

Faster Repairs Needed
An NHTSA spokesman called the air bag recalls “urgent” and agreed repairs should be done faster. The spokesman said, “While the agency recognizes (constraints) due to the size and complexity of the recall, NHTSA has called on auto makers to do more to find and fix vehicles more quickly.”

Defective Takata Air Bags in New Vehicles

Honda Motor Co. , Takata’s largest customer, initially said 17,000 new vehicles were equipped with air bag inflaters lacking a drying agent, according to the report. But in more recent discussions with lawmakers, Honda said no new vehicles would be equipped with such inflaters. A Honda spokesman said no Honda or Acura vehicles for sale in the U.S. now are being built with Takata air bag inflaters that lack a drying agent.

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Ford $3.3 Million Air Bag Verdict

Ford Motor Company Ford Escape 2010was hit with a $3.3 million air bag verdict Sept. 2, 2016. A South Carolina federal jury ruled for the wife of a man badly hurt in a crash when an air bag malfunctioned and inflated too late. The jury found that Ford shared responsibility for the man’s suicide that followed the accident.

Related: Air Bag Lawsuit Lawyer

2010 Ford Escape Air Bag Malfunction

Plaintiff Crystal Wickersham, widow of John Wickersham, sued Ford after her husband hit a tree while turning from one state highway onto another at a T intersection near Beaufort, S.C., in February 2011. The air bag failed to deploy when the crash began, said the petition. By the time it did deploy some milliseconds late, Mr. Wickersham was so close to the steering wheel that the bag’s force fractured his skull, upper jaw, cheek bones, a rib, and ruptured his left eye. Crystal Wickersham also said Mr. Wickersham’s 2010 Ford Escape’s seatbelt pretensioner was defective.

Plaintiff proves Breach of Warranty Claim

The jury voted Ford_logo2that Crystal Wickersham proved, “by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant made and breached any express warranty with respect to the 2010 Ford Escape, and that this breach of defendant’s express warranty was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries.”

The jury awarded $4.65 million, but also found Wickersham 30 percent at fault, which resulted in a final amount of $3.26 million. The verdict form was signed Aug. 26, 2016 and filed Aug. 29.

The jury awarded $1.25 million for John Wickersham’s pain and suffering between the accident and his suicide; $650,000 for Crystal Wickersham’s loss of consortium before his death; $1.38 million for loss of consortium after death; $1.375 million for beneficiaries of John Wickersham;.

The jury awarded no punitive damages, ruling Ford did not act recklessly or maliciously.

Mr. Wickersham went over a curb in a rainstorm at 19 mph and hit a tree, according to court filings. Investigators found he was wearing his seatbelt and traveling under the speed limit.

Ford Verdict Response

A Ford spokeswoman said of the verdict: “Our sympathy continues to go out to the family of Mr. Wickersham. While this incident was certainly tragic, the scientific evidence demonstrated that the accident was caused by the driver’s own inattention, as well as not being properly seated and restrained at the time of the accident.”

Car Accident led to Suicide

Besides the multiple surgeries caused by the accident, Mr. Wickersham suffered lasting “extreme pain,” according to the judge, which was essentially untreatable. In addition, his pain medications triggered suicidal thoughts discovered in an April 2012 hospitalization. Mr. Wickersham lost his left eye in November 2011, a terrible blow, especially considering longtime vision problems plagued his right eye. The accident also caused the Wickershams severe financial hardship.

Mr. Wickersham’s jaw was wired shut for six weeks after the accident. He also required a tracheotomy to breathe, according to the plaintiffs.

Mr. Wickersham committed suicide in July 2012 by taking prescription painkillers.

Mr. Wickersham had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003. According to orders filed by the judge, he had worked as a pharmacist and pharmacy consultant for decades, including stints at Roper Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, and Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Crystal and John Wickersham had been married 30 years. The plaintiff’s filings said they had four children and two grandchildren. Crystal Wickersham works as a career nurse.

Ford Hit with $3.3M Air Bag Verdict

According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, the Restraint Control Module within the car was not programmed to deal with an event like Mr. Wickersham’s – a 19-mph crash into a pole at an angle – so it failed to  deploy for 120 extra milliseconds, though it never should have deployed at all.

The case is Wickersham v. Ford, case number 9:13-cv-01192, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

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America’s Hottest – Most Stolen – Autos

Ever since we stopped Honda Accord 1996hanging thieves for stealing our rides, ride theft has exploded in the country. While horse and cattle thieves were routinely hanged (ala Lonesome Dove), car and truck thieves enjoy relatively light sentences.  Anyone who has ever had their car stolen might think thieves deserve frontier justice; but unfortunately car thief victims don’t make the laws.

Regardless of your law enforcement leanings, if you’re the sort of person who likes to find your car where you parked it, you might care to check out the latest statistics regarding the most stolen autos.

How does your ride stack up against others in regard to attractiveness for thieves?

National Crime Information Center Data

The list shows thieves chose Hondas #1 and #2. The Japanese cars are followed by American-made pickup trucks. Ford pickups finished in third place, while Chevys came in fourth.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked the 10 most stolen vehicles in the country with data from the NCIC.

America’s Hottest – Most Stolen – Autos

Top Ten Most Stolen Autos – 2015

(total thefts tallied):

1. Honda Accord (52,244)

2. Honda Civic (49,430)

3. Ford pickup (full size) (29,396)

4. Chevrolet pickup (full size) (27,771)

5. Toyota Camry (15,466)

6. Ram pickup (full size) (11,212)

7. Toyota Corolla (10,547)

8. Nissan Altima (10,374)

9. Dodge Caravan (9,798)

10. Chevrolet Impala (9,225)

Model Year 2015 – Most Stolen Autos

1. Nissan Altima (1,104)

2. Chrysler 200 (1,069)

3. Toyota Camry (923)

4. Toyota Corolla (776)

5. GMC Sierra (670)

6. Dodge Charger (666)

7. Hyundai Sonata (632)

8. Chevrolet Malibu (629)

9. Chevrolet Impala (594)

10. Chevrolet Cruze (586)

Foolproof Theft Protection?

NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said that the number of late-model autos stolen despite their anti-theft protection goes to show the technology isn’t foolproof. Criminals continually work to beat the latest anti-theft devices while auto makers continue to work on improving security.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers advice to prevent car theft:

  • Lock your car and take the keys. (Hello!)
  • Carry a visible or audible warning device to help spot your car.
  • Install an immobilizing device, such as a kill switch, fuel cut-off, smart keys. A car that won’t start is harder to steal. (Though thieves do tow steal.)
  • Track your car. A tracking device can send signals to police or monitoring stations.

Frontier Justice for Ride Thieves?

Of course these solutions all take money and time, the same thing thieves are stealing when they proffer your ride. We feel that maybe hanging wasn’t such a bad idea. Say what you will about ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ hanging car thieves would at least prevent repeat offenders. It might also prevent a lot of first-time car hackers or jackers.  Just sayin.’

 

Top Ten Stolen Vehicles for June – Houston

Auto thieves in Texas and the city of Houston, meanwhile, show a decided preference for pickup trucks, which comprise the top three spots in the city’s hottest auto list for June 2016.

The Houston Police Department reported July 13, 2016 the following rundown of the “Top Ten” makes of vehicles reported as stolen to HPD during the month of June 2016. The total number stolen for the month was 759.

1. Chevrolet Trucks – 229

2. Ford Trucks – 83

3. Dodge Trucks – 80

4. Chevrolet Cars – 53

5. Toyota Cars – 49

6. Honda Cars – 41

7. GMC Trucks – 33

8. Ford Cars – 30

9. Nissan Cars – 27

10. Dodge Cars – 24

 

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