Thursday, July 23, 2009

Unsafe Products

Products Liability--What is it. When a person is hurt by a product, whether in the home, at work, or during other activities, that area of law is known as “product liability.” Recently, there has been a spike in the occurrence of such incidence with the recent recalls of children’s toys and products due to safety concerns. Manufactures reap substantial profits from consumers, often with little regard for the safety of their products. Often, products are sold without neccessary safety features, or contain features that make them unsafe, or there could be a manufacturing defect in the product. Defect doesnt mean the product is simply broken, it means the product does not contain every element neccessary to make it safe, or contains an element that makes it unsafe. These cases are defended vigorously. They often require a variety of experts. As a result, these cases can be quite expensive and time consuming to pursue. The ability of defendants to create procedural delays often creates a hardship for plaintiffs, but there are many legal tools available to avoid unnecessary delay.

Tractor Trailer Crashes

Crashes involving tractor trailers have been of increased frequency over the past several years and now represent an alarming percentage of traffic related fatalities. These crashes often occur because of sleepy truckers logging too many driving hours, to get where their employer requires them to be. Due mostly to their substantial size and weight trucks impose a particular threat to other motorists. The prosecution of trucking cases require an attorney with experience to identify the fundamental issues in the case and determine how to obtain the necessary discovery. Often trucking cases contain unique circumstances that make it differ greatly from other motor vehicle accidents, including, state and federal regulations, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and insurance coverage. Additionally, theories of negligence on behalf of the driver concern his/her negligent or reckless driving, logging too many hours and/or miles and improper loading of cargo. All of these factors make the prosecution of these cases highly complex and necessitate representation by an attorney experienced in the field and committed to your cause.

Verdict against GM upheld on appeal

$13,004,051.00 Recovered on behalf of the survivors of a family killed in a post-collision fuel fed fire. After a nearly 10-year legal battle with General Motors, Atlee, Hall & Brookhart has helped recover nearly $13 million from General Motors for the surviving family members whose loved ones were killed in a fiery collision as a result of defects in the fuel system of their 1995 Chevrolet Lumina.The case involved a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina that was impacted from the rear by a tractor-trailer. Immediately after impact the vehicle was engulfed in flames killing a husband, wife and their child. With the assistance of numerous automotive experts and extensive examination, it was learned that the clamp used to connect the fuel filler hose to the fuel pipe was missing from the Lumina.The litigation included the filing of over 75 discovery and pre-trial motions, 9 opinions and 99 orders from the Court before trial, more than 30 pretrial oral arguments, 4 interlocutory appeals from discovery orders taken to the Supreme Court, a 5-week trial, and post-trial appeals by GM to the Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court.After exhaustive discovery, it was learned that nearly a year before the manufacture of our client’s Lumina GM identified a problem with these clamps either being omitted or not tightened properly. It was learned that GM engineers ordered that changes be made in the assembly process to correct this problem; however, these changes were not made at the Oshwa, Ontario Assembly Plant where our client’s Lumina was manufactured. Over the years of pursuing this litigation, Plaintiffs consulted with over 10 experts in the field of automotive design, biomechanics, and forensic pathology. More than 100 depositions were taken in the case in Canada, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey and Texas. After filing motions to compel, 21 orders were entered by the Court compelling GM to produce materials in discovery. After reviewing tens of thousands of documents and deposing GM's engineers, it was learned that in 1972, a GM engineer advised GM's management that GM should be designing their cars so that if people survive the crash, they should not be killed in a post-collision, fuel-fed fire. GM management refused to adopt this standard and the engineers who made the proposal testified they were disappointed at GM's reaction.During this same time frame, it was also learned that a young GM engineer performed an analysis concerning what it would cost GM to defend lawsuits concerning post-collision, fuel-fed fires. GM determined that it would cost less to defend the lawsuits than it would be to make changes to correct the design of its automobiles. After several interlocutory appeals to the Supreme Court by GM to keep these documents from the Jury, Plaintiffs prevailed and showed these documents to the jury at trial.Following a 5-week trial which included extensive expert testimony, presentation of computer animations and a model Lumina in the courtroom, a Lancaster County jury found the Lumina to be defective and returned a verdict in the amount of $8.2 million. The largest personal injury jury verdict in Lancaster County. GM immediately filed post-trial motions and Plaintiff filed a motion for delay damages which was granted in the amount of $2,429,165.75.Following extensive briefing and arguments on the post-trial motions, the Honorable Lawrence F. Stengel authored an Opinion in excess of 102 pages denying GM's motion for a new trial. GM immediately appealed to the Commonwealth Court and later to the Supreme Court but again, Plaintiffs prevailed and GM's appeals were denied. Ultimately, GM was required to pay $13,004,051.00 in verdict and delayed damages.
Automobile Defect/Crashworthiness- Jaime has extensive experience in the field of Automobile Defect/Crashworthiness cases. He has helped obtain several multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts in jurisdictions throughout the State and Nation, including the largest ever personal injury jury verdict in Lancaster County. These cases are highly complex, labor intensive and require the utmost attention to detail and preparation to prosecute. Due to his vast experience in this field he has access to documents, resources and experts in the field necessary to serve his clients. He has the knowledge, experience and desire to bring a successful conclusion to your case. BUT WHAT ARE CRASHWORTHINESS CASES? These cases are often very difficult to identify as often it appears that the injuries are due to the accident. In fact, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed each year because of defects in automobiles, but, most of these cases go unidentified and are never pursued. Through experience Jaime is able to identify potential claims and investigate to determine if a client’s injuries are due to a defect; therefore, any accident that involves a serious injury or death should be carefully reviewed for possible auto products liability defects. These cases are commonly known as an enhanced injury or crashworthiness cases - in other words, the defect causes injuries to be worse then they should have been. Auto manufacturers have the research and technology to design cars that will perform in such a way that the occupants should not be severely injured or killed if they are properly restrained. Common characteristics to look for, in order to identify auto product liability cases, include the following…
Multiple occupants in a collision- one catastrophically or fatally injured while others have only minor injuries;
Minor accidents resulting in catastrophic injury or death;
Severe damage or failure of a localized area of the vehicle (i.e. roof crush or seatback collapse);
Belted occupants who are seriously injured or who are partially or fully ejected;
Post-collision fuel-fed fire. If any one or more of these characteristics exist in your case, you should assume that you have an Aauto product liability@ case until proven otherwise. Post-Collision Fuel-Fed FiresA number of vehicle defects can result in occupants receiving severe burn injuries or causing death in an otherwise survivable collision. Fuel system engineers with many of the auto manufacturers have publicly recognized that occupants who survive the initial impact of collision should not suffer severe or fatal injuries as a result of post-collision fire. Simply put, if an occupant can survive the initial impact, he or she should not be injured or killed in a fire that results following the initial collision. Any automobile accident involving a post-collision fuel-fed fire should be closely scrutinized for a potential crashworthiness products liability case. Seat BeltsWhen a seat belt works properly, it is the most important safety device in an automobile. When it works poorly or completely fails to work, the seat belt can cause serious injury and even death. When the occupant is killed or seriously injured in a car accident despite wearing his/her seat belt, it is reasonable to ask Why?Seat Back Failure/CollapseMany people are injured or killed when their seats collapse rearward during a rear impact collision. During a rear collision, the seat back is the key component of a restraint system. While the occupant of the collapsing seat is at risk for injury from contact with the interior of the vehicle or rearward ejection, rear seat occupants, such as children seated in car seats, are also placed at great risk from contact with the seat and/or the front seat occupant moving rearward.Roof CrushWhen a vehicle's restraint system works properly and the vehicle maintains good survival space for the occupants, roll-over accidents can be among the least threatening type of accident. Auto manufacturers have known for more than thirty years that the key to occupant safety in a roll-over accident is the ability of a vehicle roof to have good strength. When the roof of a vehicle excessively deforms during a roll-over accident, occupants are placed at risk of head injury, spinal cord injury or positional asphyxiation.Roll OverRecent government surveys indicate that pick-ups and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have a roll-over rate that is two to three times higher then the average passenger car. Eighty percent of all deaths in single vehicle crashes of SUVs involve roll-overs. Despite technology being available for several years, numerous vehicles on the road still lack electronic stability control.AirbagsAirbags are supposed to be fully inflated before the passenger falls into it during a crash. Serious injuries occur when airbags, which can travel at speeds up to two hundred miles per hour, hit occupants prior to full inflation. There are numerous low-speed impacts where an airbag may deploy when it is unnecessary. Likewise there are severe collisions where the airbag should have deployed but didn't. Despite the fact that most manufacturers had perfected side impact airbag technology years ago; many new vehicles on the road today are not equipped with side impact airbags.Tire FailureThis has been a problem for years, but has come under increased scrutiny recently due to the Firestone debacle. Tire failures, separation and blow-outs are foreseeable events that occur on a daily basis. Some kind of designs are more prone to tread seperation then others.Child Safety Seats and Booster SeatsMany of the devices sold in toy stores and baby shops are not up to the task of protecting children in crashes. Many severe injuries and deaths of children are the result of defectively designed child seats and a lack of adequate warning and instruction for use of child seats provided by auto manufacturers. Even the safest of child seats can be dangerous if the vehicle is not properly designed to accommodate child restraints or the vehicle lacks adequate instruction on how to properly install the child seat in that vehicle.Whenever you investigate an accident that has a serious injury or death, you must evaluate the possibility of an auto products liability case. In doing so you should follow these priorities:
Preserve or obtain the vehicle in question;
Do not allow the auto insurer to take the car and sell the salvage;
Do not settle with the negligent driver. This will create an Aempty chair for the defendant auto manufacturer to point to. Further, if there is joint and several liability, the negligent driver will need to be in the case.
Evaluation of auto product liability cases can be done efficiently and expeditiously if the vehicle is preserved, the accident report is available, and photos of the vehicle are available.
While in many cases, serious injury or death in an automobile accident may be unavoidable, attorneys handling what otherwise seems to be a simple, straightforward automobile accident case can provide a great service to their clients if they evaluate those serious injury cases for potential defects causing an enhanced injury.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jaime's background

Jaime Jackson specializes in complex litigation, including automotive products liability, medical malpractice, and representing victims of corporate neglect. These victims have sustained catastrophic brain or spinal cord injuries, paralysis, burn injuries or death. His efforts have placed his clients on the same level playing field as major corporations. He has obtained significant recoveries on behalf of clients against domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers. In litigating crashworthiness cases, Mr. Jackson has developed a specialty in airbag defects, seat and seatbelt failures, rollovers, roof crush and post-collision fuel fed fires, together with other vehicle failures.Mr. Jackson has also successfully represented numerous clients who have been significantly injured in automobile accidents or have been victims of medical malpractice. Mr. Jackson has also helped several clients who have been injured by a dangerous product.Mr. Jackson has been named a Super Lawyers Pennsylvania Rising Star for 2005, 2006 and 2007.EDUCATION: University of Maine, 1990, B.A.University of Maine School of Law, 1997, J.D. Cum LaudeADMISSIONS: PennsylvaniaCOURT ADMISSIONS: U.S. District for the Eastern District of PennsylvaniaU.S. District for the Middle District of Pennsylvania AFFILIATIONS:Lancaster Bar AssociationPennsylvania Bar AssociationAmerican Bar Association, Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers AssociationAmerican Trial Lawyers AssociationSociety of Automotive EngineersTrial Lawyers for Public JusticeAmerican Inns of Court (Member W. Hensel Brown Inn)
An unequivocal dedication to our clients remains the bedrock principle of the firm.

GM abandons victims injured in defective GM cars

Please watch this and tell GM American's will not stand for abandoning victims and allowing GM to escape responsibility.;eveningnews