South Carolina Crash Victim’s Family sues Ford, Takata

Following up on an earlier post on our blog, Ford and Takata have been sued by the family of a South Carolina man who was killed in a crash. According to KNBC-TV Los Angeles, Joel Knight was killed when a large shard of metal from his airbag entered his neck after a collision with a cow on his way home from work. The Knight family's tragedy is the latest in a long string of deaths and injuries linked to defective Takata airbags.


Joel Knight, 52, was driving home from work three days before Christmas in Kershaw, South Carolina, when he struck a cow in the road. His air bag deployed, rupturing with such force investigators say a large metal shard killed him. A preliminary autopsy report says the cause of Knight' death was a "fatal projectile of the neck probably from the air bag."


The air bags in Knight's 2006 Ford Ranger were manufactured by Takata Corp. of Japan. Knight was the 10th person killed by a Takata air bag, federal regulators say; more than 100 people are believed to have been injured by the defective airbags. As a result, carmakers have recalled more than 20 million cars and trucks nationwide. Knight's car had been recalled for the passenger side air bag, but not the driver's side air bag -- until this Monday, when Ford expanded its recall to include the vehicles with the same model driver's side air bags as the one in Knight's truck


The Knight family has sued Ford and Takata, saying they knew about a 2014 death in Malaysia involving the same air bag model found in Knight's Ford Ranger. The lawsuit claims the Malaysia death lead to an earlier recall in 61 countries.


Although the number of vehicles already recalled is staggering, Mr. Knight's death shows that Takata, and the auto manufacturers who utilized the defective airbags, have not been proactive enough in removing these dangerous airbags from vehicles. This neglect is inexcusable considering the product at issue only exists to prevent injury and save lives in the event of a crash.


A list of vehicles already recalled for defective Takata airbags can be found here.

LATCH Child Seat Connection Safety Questioned


A study published in Traffic Injury Prevention concluded that Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) connections do not offer equal protection to using the vehicles lap/shoulder belt combination to connect rear-facing child safety seats in rear impact crashes.


The study's authors at Robson Forensic, Inc. tested three popular rear­-facing infant child safety seats—the Graco SnugRide, the Britax Chaperone and the Evenflo Tribute ­­in rear ­impact sled tests using three different installations – LATCH, and seat belts with Emergency Locking Retractors (ELR) and Automatic Locking Retractors (ALR). The safety seats were installed in the outboard seating positions of a sled buck representing the backseat of a 2012 Toyota Camry and occupied by a six ­month ­old crash test dummy. The researchers were interested in how well LATCH secured the infant seat in comparison to seat­belt installations in a 30 mph rear impact.


High-­speed videos in these rear­-facing infant seat tests revealed very different kinematics from forward-­facing child and adult restraints, namely the rotation of the seat and the dummy around its attachment axis, allowing the "child's head to extend beyond the confines of the car seat in many instances, allowing the head to strike the seatback in which the RFCRS was installed."


These effects were more pronounced in the LATCH configuration, resulting in an increase in angular momentum and rotation and more severe head strikes. The tests looked at Head Injury Criterion (HIC) values, even though there are no Federal Motor Vehicle Safety HIC standards for a six­ month ­old infant. But, what is notable in this study is that the HIC values, which are based on acceleration, are much higher in Britax and Graco seats secured with LATCH (60 percent higher in the SnugRide and double in the Britax.) The authors concluded: "the results of this study suggest that LATCH does not offer equal protection to lap/shoulder belts from head injuries in rear impacts when used with infant seat type rear facing child restraint systems."


This study suggests that if caregivers want to use the LATCH system with rear-­facing infant seats, they should consider doing so with a tether. Tethers serve a critical purpose in reducing head excursion in a crash and few parents recognize its importance or that it can and should be used in conjunction with lower anchors or seat belts. The study's authors refer to this type of installation in other countries, but apparently did not use tethers in their tests: Swedish rear­ facing child restraint designs differ from US products, in that they route a tether down and forward to a point on the floor in front of the vehicle seat where the child seat sits. This tethering system limits rotation towards the rear of the vehicle on rebound in frontal impacts or initial impact in rear impacts. By doing this, the forward rotation of the child seat is limited and allowed the child to "ride down" the collision with the vehicle. For many years, rear­-facing infant seats in the U.S. did not have tethers. Today, a few brands, including Britax and Combi, include tethers in their rear­-facing infant seat design.


Mankato Man Dies Following Workplace Fall in Jordan


According to The StarTribune, on July 10, 2015 John Dickerman, of Mankato, fell while working on an expansion project at Accu-rite Powder Coating in Jordan and later died from his injuries. Mr. Dickerman had come out of retirement to help out on the project for contractor R.L. Wells Construction.


The leading cause of death on construction sites is falls from height. Unfortunately nearly every injury or death caused by a fall from height is preventable. Proper planning, training and equipment all combine to protect workers from the risks of working at heights. Sometimes, despite best efforts to prevent such injuries, the equipment workers rely on fails to protect them when they need it most.


It is important to seek immediate assistance from an attorney who specializes in injury and wrongful death cases if you or someone you know has been injured in a construction accident. Experience is crucial to spotting potential claims. Such injuries are often processed as worker's compensation claims alone and other third party claims are not identified. Time is often critical in documenting and preserving critical evidence, especially in the case of a defective product or ever changing construction site. Experienced personal injury attorneys can provide advice and guidance on how to pursue such claims and take immediate action to protect the rights of injured people and their families. The personal injury attorneys at Maschka, Riedy & Ries will explore all potential sources of liability and recovery for their injured clients.


Source: StarTribune, "Construction worker, interrupting retirement, falls to death at Jordan job site " Paul Walsh, July 14, 2015.

Nicollet County Jury Returns Verdict in Favor of MRR Client

After a two day jury trial in Nicollet County, a jury of seven Nicollet County residents returned a verdict in favor of our client in a hotly contested intersection automobile crash. The verdict results in  $75,000 recovery for our client where only $1500 had been offered to settle the case before trial.


Maschka, Riedy and Ries attorneys Jed Chronic and Baylea Kannmacher represented a client who had been injured in a crash at the intersection of Highways 99 and 111 in Nicollet, Minnesota during a snowstorm. Our client pulled away from a stop sign at 111 into the intersection after stopping and checking for oncoming traffic and not seeing Defendant approaching the intersection in a white minivan. The Defendant traveling east on 99 had the directional right of way, but admitted he was traveling 35 in the 30 m.p.h. zone. According to Minn. Stat. § 169.20 he therefore forfeited his right of way at the intersection by traveling at an unlawful rate of speed. Whether or not Defendant had his headlights on was a hotly contested issue in the trial.


An eyewitness had come forward at the scene and testified he saw the Defendant's van approaching the intersection prior to our client pulling away from the stop sign. Both parties presented evidence from expert accident reconstructionists. In the end, the jury determined that Defendant was 60% at fault for causing this crash and our client was 40% at fault. The parties had previously stipulated to the damages amount.