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Month: June 2017

Great Escape Accident Just One of Many

Knott's rideThis last weekend an accident at Six Flags in Upstate New York caused a girl to plummet 25 feet to the arms of other patrons. Onlookers called the accident “horrifying.” The case made national headlines and included viral video of the event.

CBS News reported on the scene. A Delaware 14 year old fell from a stopped gondola ride. The “Sky Ride” stopped as the girl was riding it with another minor. The operator stopped the ride after hearing that one of the riders was in distress. The girl struck a tree before falling into the crowd. She was evacuated by helicopter to the hospital. The fall injured one man who caught the falling teen.

While officials say the ride was in working order, far more questions remain. Furthermore, it appears that there are no proper procedures to avoid such a situation. There are no evacuation or emergency extraction procedures for the ride. Altogether, they are a vital danger.

What are My Rights if I’m Injured at an Amusement Park?

Many park owners and insurance companies do their best to minimize their liability after a serious accident. Many insurance carriers outright refuse to honor their policies and try to shortchange the injured party or parties.

There are far more rights for the hurt parties than often reported. Each person has the right to counsel and a chance to bring their case to light. Many companies hide their safety record and try to pay off the accident victims quickly. This often does not take into account long term injuries or other issues. In many cases, it does not solve the underlying issue that caused the accident in the first place.

For more information, keep reading our site about the risks at amusement and theme parks. The Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC successfully handled a number of similar injury cases. Our experience is key for families facing medical issues from such accidents. Contact us for more information.

Massive Bankruptcy Follows Massive Suits In Re Takata

Suffer an airbag burn? Injured in a vehicle crash in SD?
The San Diego Injuries at lawyers at Ehline law firm help victims of negligence in Poway, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and all San Diego cities.

The Japanese airbag company Takata rose and fell rapidly. The company’s stunning destruction was of its own doing. Its faulty airbags installed in a number of vehicles caused both injuries and deaths. The billions of dollars of issues surrounding the faulty products ultimately pushed the company into bankruptcy.

Now that the company is behind Japan’s equivalent of Chapter 11, what does that mean for Americans hurt by its defective products? Lawsuits and pending litigation still stands against the corporation.

Bloomberg reported on some of the impacts.

Takata promised replacements for tens of millions of faulty airbags, which now seems unlikely. The announcement will place the company in stasis. This follows a $1.62 billion takeover bid by another company, Key Safety Systems. Key hasn’t stated whether it will replace the faulty parts. While Takata’s assets will be auctioned off, it appears its recall obligations will not follow suit.

At least some of the impact of the recall should be offset by the auction. Up to $2 billion in assets go to the block. Takata is on the hook for about the same in costs. However, the 19 car manufacturers hurt by the airbag giant is still on the hook for about $3 billion in additional costs.

What Happens to Consumers?

Consumers still on the hook for injuries or replacements from Takata still have a chance. However, the window is closing. Bankruptcy laws may lock in existing suits and prevent future ones from having an effect. Even if the cases are allowed to proceed, the diminishing assets may make recovery very difficult.

If you believe your family may be entitled to compensation, contact a skilled attorney today. The Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC’s experience is key. We handled Takata and airbag cases before. Simply put: in California, we’re the best. Our team is second to none. We will assess your family’s legal options and guide you fairly. Call or email us for a free, no-pressure consultation.

The End of the Uber Model in View?

Mini van versus car accident.
Beverly Hills car crash involving minivan.

Many consumer lawyers are holding their breath. Since Uber has come into being, a whole new cottage industry has taken hold in tort law. Drivers are suing for worker’s comp benefits, and lawyers are suing for negligent hiring. Since the drivers are required to carry more than minimum coverage, lawyers are finding it easier to get clients paid. So although more people are getting hurt as passengers, there is money to pay them.

In any event, shareholders ousted the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalachnik, after a string of failures. The ridesharing company’s reputation, already poor, plummeted in the last several months. Between rapes, assaults, legal issues, and crashes, it stands on the brink of collapse. There were several other shakeups. Will this one solve the many issues Uber faces?

The LA Times reported that while Kalachnik is gone, a class action suit still hangs around his shoulders. Wired openly wondered why more employees aren’t suing the company.

Business Insider reported on the possible successors. Regardless of who the company chooses, there’s still a huge underlying issue. Business Insider also reported that the actions face the death of a potential IPO.

QZ reports that the company may poach a top Alphabet official. That may be, but it is likely too little too late. Also consider the last time Uber did that and its results.

The Future of Uber in Doubt?

All of these factors alone may kill any other company. Considering the long line of legal issues and lies from Uber, this may be the last straw. Its other officers implicated in similar actions, the company may be better off just starting from scratch.

Where does this leave the average consumer? It appears that the regular consumer is out in no man’s land. They already complained about poor service. Now they also face the end of whatever bit they already had. For the average rider, there is no sharing of the misery the corporate leadership created.

Ehline Law’s been out front on these types of issues for years. We’ve covered the potential risks for drivers and consumers alike using Uber or Lyft. Furthermore, the risks don’t just end with Kalachnik gone. However, maybe they’ll get just a little bit better instead of getting worse.

So personal injury lawyers may need to look to Lyft as a source of defendants. But ultimately what this means to PI accident lawyers is that other defendants could replace uber. In any event, it appears Uber could be in for some serious trouble.

When Can an Attorney Decline a Client?

Financial and Ethical Complaints after Medical Harm

Disaster approaching catastrophe.
Los Angeles catastrophe meter.

What happens when a loved one needs urgent surgery or medical care after an accident? This is a situation attorneys often represent for clients. However, there are increasing numbers of attorneys who won’t take on certain clients. Often it’s over the amount of money their potential claim is worth. It’s left a number of injury and accident victims in a precarious position.

ProPublica published a report on the matter recently. Many personal injury attorneys are hamstrung by the costs of a case. In many situations, attorneys work on contingency– they don’t take a cent unless their clients recover. Often lawyers work with or hire experts who determine the cause of the error or accident. Factor in court costs and time, it’s understandable why some attorneys are picky on the types of clients they take on.

This is very much the case with public harm issues. Often patients harmed during their hospital stay are without legal help. For many attorneys, the cost of such a suit is not worth the smaller dividend at the end. An Emory study came to similar conclusions.

The vast majority of accident victims are often boxed out due to this system. They’ve been wronged– and often attorneys agree with that assessment. Still, for all extents and purposes they get no protection in the legal system. This is disproportionately an issue for older people. This leaves them unable to fully recover from their injuries and trauma. For older patients at greater risk of such situations, attorneys often pass on their cases.

How to Find an Attorney to Take Public Harm Cases.

In many cases, the answer is harder than the question. Attorneys all over the country often have similar concerns. Experienced lawyers and firms which do not count money as their sole purpose may take on the case. Some firms specialize in taking on such “low reward” clients in order to ensure they are taken care of.

In my years as a personal injury attorney at the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC, I saw many of these types of cases. They don’t get any less heartbreaking just because the client might not earn me as much money. On the contrary, such cases are an example of defending public trust through medical accountability. The actions we take now prevent similar future accidents and errors.

Some suggestions for soft tissue cases include:

None of this makes it easier for accident and injury victims clueless about the legal system. Their trauma often extends into their wider family. However, it is a chance to ensure the best possible care for them and a chance to be heard in their most trying hour.

What Happens When a Robot is in an Accident?

US DOT and Michael Ehline - Los Angeles car accident lawyer.
Ehline attends US traffic safety hearings. Making traffic and surface streets safer for commuters and pedestrians.

In a few decades, consumer motor vehicle operations will be a thing of the past. Planes will be self-directed, trains will be automated, and we’ll all enjoy the peace and quiet of a self-driving car. It’s a pretty appealing concept. Long road trip on the horizon? Just jump in the backseat and let your Tesla’s A.I. take the wheel.

Nissan’s CEO recently stated that he expects the first self-driving vehicles to be on traditional roads by 2020, but you can already enjoy the convenience if you work at Google – which loads a ton of automated vehicles on their campus.

The goal is to create a safer, saner experience on America’s roadways. The human race is distracted and angry, it’s about time we pass over the reigns to a neutral, respectful autopilot program.

However, the rise of the self-driving car will open up a brand new controversy. Namely, what happens when a robot is involved in an accident? We’ve spent decades drawing up the specifics for personal injury law in vehicular collisions.

We’ve all done the dance with insurance companies sussing out fault, irresponsibility, and injury graveness. But how does that change when a computer is behind the wheel? It’s a complicated question, and at this point, it’s only a matter of time before we confront it head on.

The vast majority of accidents involving self-driving cars are not the fault of a A.I. itself. The automated vehicle is following the the rules of the road, and some fallible human idiot rear-ends them, or merges into their lane. However, that’s not always the case. Last Valentine’s Day a Google self-driving car slammed into a bus after it tried to negotiate a right turn.

It wasn’t a glitch, the car’s software simply made an error in judgement that caused a collision – which is a tacit confirmation that the era of the self-driving car will not be an era completely free of car accidents. Occasionally, there will be a need to get into the legal weeds.

There’s nothing fun about being in an accident, but there is evidence to say that being involved in a collision with a self-driving car might actually be more beneficial to the victim than a conventional personal injury case. Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, has taught a course on the burgeoning sector of automated vehicles, and told the Associated Press that “assuming you’re not dead, you’re in a much better position than if you’d been hit by an ordinary, human-driven vehicle.”

This is because self-driving cars will shift the legal nexus away from the traditional questions that surround piloted negligence, and towards product liability. “Whereas today’s crash liability regime is based largely on the liability of individual drivers under negligence, tomorrow’s may be premised on the liability of manufacturers under product liability broadly,” he writes in a paper called Automated Driving and Product Liability. “This shift will also create new issues for the judges and juries evaluating the resulting crash claims—as well as for the lawyers negotiating to avoid such trials.”

The reason that’s advantageous for a legal client is that you’ll be dealing directly with a corporate entity. It’s difficult to prove negligence in a personal injury case. A lot of the specifics are left up to unknowable conjecture. How can you prove that a driver took his eyes off the road in an inopportune moment? Do we know for sure he was looking at a cell phone?

However this becomes a lot easier when you’re dealing with cold hard calculations of a self-driving vehicle. If the nuts and bolts show that a car on auto-pilot miscalculated an off-ramp merge, you quickly eliminate any guesswork. There’s also speculation that the manufacturers of self-driving vehicles will want to err on the side of caution, and hand out generous settlements to keep the industry looking pristine.

Volvo, Google, and Mercedes-Benz have all already stated that they’ll take responsibility for any accidents involving their vehicles. Going to court over the specifics about a computer’s decision making doesn’t look good from the outside looking in.

That being said, there’s also a chance for the fault of a self-driving car accident to fall on the owner of the automated vehicle. Let’s say an accident happens because a self-driving car’s tire blows out and swerves into traffic, and after an investigation it’s clear that the tire in question needed to be changed for a long time. In that case, fault may fall to the pilot.

It’s a pretty easy defense to claim a driver wasn’t maintaining the proper conditions necessary to keep an automated vehicle safe. But again, that discretion will be left to a judge.

Again, this is all speculative. Despite all the money being poured into the self-driving industry, the legal jurisdiction is still lost in the Wild West. In a few decades enough legislation and precedents will be passed to outline the specifics of the status quo, but until then your best bet is to get a good lawyer and hope for a big settlement.

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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