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Tag Archives: dangerous condition

Takata airbag manufacturer pleads guilty to fraud

The world’s largest vehicle airbag recall was sparked after, analysts say, the Takata manufacturer fraudulently claimed that their airbags were safe. However, the company now admits that they knew for many years that there was a defective part that could cause the device to explode. This, in turn, could lead to a more serious and deadly injury from a car accident. The company has produced tens of millions of dangerous airbags that have been installed by motor vehicle manufacturers around the world. Everything from cars to SUVs to trucks have dangerous airbag components made by this company and have been recalled. The guilty plea by Takata comes along with an agreement to pay a hefty $1 Billion in fines and penalties. However, this money is not earmarked to go to the injury victims and families of victims killed in a car crash that may have been affected by the hazardous situation. A top injury law firm in New York explains that this doesn’t shield the manufacturer or others from a personal injury lawsuit. In fact, it has been noted that some of the car companies allegedly knew about the dangerous condition posed by the defective airbag problem but continued to install them anyway. This opens those car makers to injury and wrongful death lawsuit as well, according to experts. Product liability laws describe the actions that should be taken by all involved to ensure that consumers aren’t injured by a product that is known to be potentially dangerous. You can find out more about this product recall and repercussions here.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Robin Corps [License]

Are Suffolk County’s red-light cameras causing more accidents with injuries?

New York – Public safety activists are in an uproar about an ongoing investigation that shows an increased accident with injuries risk at intersections equipped with red-light cameras. Lawmakers and citizens alike have expressed concerns regarding the dangerous condition created by these traffic light cameras. They note that some of the traffic signals have faster-than-normal yellow lights and confusing signals, creating a risk for injury due to car accidents that inevitably follow. In the meantime, Suffolk County officials claim that the camera program is fine and plan to continue with it, despite the public safety concerns involved. Opponents question why the program isn’t suspended until they, at least, investigate the increased car crash concerns. They explain that this would allow the time to safely look into the issues and prevent injury or wrongful death accidents. One theory as to why there is an increased accident risk at these intersections revolves around concerned motorists who become afraid of getting a ticket, instead of remaining focused on driving safely. Experts say that drivers may needlessly brake too soon or too quickly, leading to a rear-end collision. Others may become a distracted driver when looking at the camera instead of the road.

Some community activists in New York have claimed that the local county government is simply being greedy and unwilling to give up the revenue that they receive from traffic tickets. The fines associated with these tickets goes to the government’s coffers and is shared with the company that installed and maintains the cameras. This creates a possible incentive for some politicians to keep the cameras functioning even in light of the risk of injury or death. However, this may actually lead to increased personal injury lawsuits, which would be much more costly if lawmakers neglect to deal with the hazardous condition that they’ve created. Motor vehicle accident victims are encouraged to seek legal advice from a top injury lawyer to determine their rights. You can see a video and read more about the controversial traffic light program and investigation here.

Illustrative Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale, www.rentvine.com [License]

$297,500 Pre-Trial Settlement for Injuries From a Trip and Fall Accident in Queens

New York — This 88-year-old trip and fall victim claimed that his injuries were caused by negligent maintenance on the part of the owners of the driveway where the accident occurred. The elderly man’s fall injuries included a hip injury and wrist fracture. The man came to the injury lawyer experts of Morrison & Wagner and together, they filed a negligence lawsuit. In a pre-trial settlement they recovered $297,500 for the injury victim.

Illustrative Photo (Altered to obscure license plate): Alan Stanton [License]

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Damaged driveway a hazard, plaintiff claimed (VerdictSearch)

Settlement Amount: $297,500

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Court: Queens Supreme, Queens County, New York

Injury Type(s): hip – fracture; other – loss of services; wrist – fracture

Case Type: Slips, Trips & Falls – Slips, Trips & Falls, Trip and Fall; Premises Liability – Dangerous Condition, Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance

Date: January 17, 2011

Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Stuart Wagner; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY

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Facts:

On Feb. 19, 2010, the plaintiff, 88, tripped on the sidewalk apron of a driveway that was located on the east side of 66th Avenue, between its intersections at Queens Boulevard and Saunders Street, in the Rego Park section of Queens. He fell, and he sustained injuries of a hip and a wrist.

The injured plaintiff sued the 35 owners of the residences that had access to the driveway. He alleged that the homeowners were negligent in their maintenance of the driveway. He further alleged that the homeowners’ negligence created a dangerous condition that caused his accident.

The fall victim claimed that the driveway was damaged and hazardous.

The defense was coordinated by a claims adjuster of the insurer that represented a plurality of the defendants. The defense contended that the plaintiff had been crossing the driveway on a near-daily basis for years and thusly would have been aware of any defect. The defense also contended that any defect was caused by sanitation vehicles that regularly accessed the driveway.

Injury:

The injury victim sustained a fracture of his left hip and a fracture of his left, nondominant arm’s wrist. He claimed that he suffers permanent residual pain and limitations that greatly hinder his ambulation and his performance of many of his everyday activities. He sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering. His wife sought recovery of damages for loss of services.

Result:

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. Each defendant’s insurer agreed to pay $8,500. Thus, the settlement totaled $297,500.

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Judge: Valerie Brathwaite Nelson

Editor’s Comment: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. VerdictSearch was unable to solicit feedback from defense counsel.

Repeat dog attack in Brooklyn leaves questions about citizen safety

New York – Another pit bull attack occurred in a residential neighborhood of Brooklyn. This time the assault was on another dog but only a few years ago the attack was on a restaurant owner at the same residence. In the 2010 episode, the worker suffered severe injuries during the attack, when three pit bull dogs belonging to the same home owner lunged at the victim. The man was mauled by the dogs and taken to the emergency room for bite and crush injuries. Citizens in the city have expressed concern regarding the safety of people who live and work in the area. Some have asked why the dogs haven’t been taken away from their owner, saying that it’s negligent to allow them to continue to roam free after they have been known to injure people. They exclaim that pedestrians, bicyclists, workers, children, dog walkers and many others are at risk for being attacked by a dog. This constitutes a dangerous condition that puts everyone at risk or injury or death. The police have apparently determined that they can’t do anything since the assaults have taken place on private property. However, community activists warn that city officials, including police, bear some of the responsibility along with the dog owner who allows the dogs to roam around without a leash or muzzle. They note that the next dog attack victim may suffer even more injuries or even wrongful death. In the meantime, the public is being urged to file a civil lawsuit, such as a personal injury lawsuit, if they were injured by a dog. A victim who was bitten by a dog can speak to an experienced attorney to learn more about his or her rights. Find out more about this dangerous situation here.

Illustrative Photo Credit: BoostinChick [License]

$350,000 – Premises Liability – Slip & Fall Causes Ankle Fracture

When D. Kustov was 33 years old, she had a slip and fall accident while walking on private premises in Jamaica, New York. The accident caused her to break a bone in her ankle that required an open reduction internal fixation operation. The pain, swelling and difficulty walking remained and she was confined to bed for several weeks. Over that time, Ms. Kustov discussed her legal rights with the preeminent slip and fall injury lawyers of Morrison & Wagner, LLP in Manhattan. A grievance was filed against the property owner for negligent maintenance, along with a lawsuit for financial compensation. They asserted that the owner’s negligence created a dangerous condition that directly caused Kustov’s fall and injuries. After meticulous negotiation, the ankle injury victim won a settlement of $350,000 from the landlord of the property.

Read about more trip and fall cases here and here.

Photo by Wkc3 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Seat back failures during car crash can cause serious injuries

Research data shows that during a car accident, the back of the driver’s seat can break, causing severe injuries. The worrisome thing noted by experts is that this is true even of cars that meet the most current National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines. The concern involves not just the driver’s seat but also the seat back of the front passenger, according to specialists. They note that the problem is not limited to any one car manufacturer and is a well-known dangerous condition that has been ignored for way too long. The car seat failure often occurs during a rear-end accident where the vehicle is hit from behind. The force of the crash is transferred into the seat back which then buckles and cracks under the pressure. The person sitting in the seat is then violently thrown and injured, even when wearing a seatbelt. Common injuries can include spinal injury, paralysis and internal bleeding from lacerated organs. Activists familiar with the problem explain that passengers in the rear seat of the vehicle, often little children, are also prone to suffer severe injuries and wounds due to the defect. Children have been known to suffer facial injuries, head injury and even death after being struck by pieces of the seat. Cases have been documented of the headrest breaking off and striking the back seat passenger as well.

Car safety advocates have expressed outrage over the fact that the federal government and car makers haven’t properly fixed the hazard. They insist that the federal regulations must be changed to force factories to reinforce the seats so that they don’t collapse or snap during a high force impact of a motor vehicle collision. Some have pointed out that not doing so may be considered negligence and expose the negligent parties to accident lawsuits. You can read more about the weak federal safety standards and deadly problem here.

Illustrative Photo (Altered to obscure license plate): Joe Shlabotnik [License]

Dangerous furniture falls, killing children

New York – Product safety specialists have long warned about the dangerous condition caused by tall furniture that isn’t properly secured. Reports show that two children were crushed to death under heavy dresser drawers from Ikea, a popular furnishings retailer. The store has now issued repair kits to allow consumers to secure their furniture to various types of walls, in case they have not done so thus far. The wall anchor set will be issued for specific pieces of furniture that meet the criteria set by the business, as they are likely to fall over and injure or kill an unsuspecting person. Experts say that all furniture should be checked for safety or a fall hazard by manufacturers and stores before being sold. They note that proper instructions and equipment should be included with all products to ensure secure installation of the furniture. Ikea has included wall anchors with some of their products for several years but it is unclear if the specific units that caused the deaths of these kids had them included. Safety activists warn that the concern is not just regarding these specific accidents or even this specific company. Rather, they note, there are some companies that are more negligent when it comes to consumer safety than others. Explicit warning labels, instructions and equipment as well as constant after-market research is necessary by manufacturers and stores to prevent accidents, injuries and wrongful death. Effort must also be made to prevent heavy, unstable objects, such as a television set, being kept on furniture without proper safety precautions that prevent the object from being pulled or falling onto a victim. Businesses that do not do this may face a negligence lawsuit for manufacturing or selling a hazardous product. Additional information on this topic and the fatally injured children is available here.

Illustrative photo by: BeckyF [License]

$ 4.5 Million Settlement - Premises Liability - Hole in Kitchen Floor Not Repaired

New York — A 38-year-old hospital cashier was in the apartment that she rented in the Bronx. While bringing a large saucepan to the sink in the kitchen, she stepped in an oval-shaped hole in the floor, causing her to trip and fall. As she fell, the woman spilled the boiling hot contents of the pan on herself, resulting in burn injuries in 18% of her body. The victim sued for damages that she suffered due to the accident injuries after consulting with the injury lawyers at Morrison & Wagner. The woman alleged that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the apartment and that their negligence created a dangerous condition. Justice prevailed and they reached a $4,580,000 settlement for the trip and fall victim.

Illustrative Photo by Chris Sampson [License]

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Hole in kitchen floor not timely repaired, tenant alleged (VerdictSearch)

Settlement Amount: $4,580,000

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Court: Bronx Supreme, Bronx County, New York

Injury Type(s): arm; arm-scar and/or disfigurement; leg; leg-scar and/or disfigurement; leg
burns-third degree; other-scar and/or disfigurement; surgeries/treatment-skin graft

Case Type: Premises Liability – Apartment, Trip and Fall, Tenant’s Injury, Dangerous Condition, Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance

Date: January 4, 2007

Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Stuart Wagner; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY
Eric H. Morrison; Morrison & Wagner; New York, NY

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Facts:

On May 1, 2001, the plaintiff, 38, a hospital’s cashier, was in the apartment that she rented from Natasha and Hardial Singh and David and Surojni Farnum, at East 175th Street, in the Bronx. While the woman was bringing a large saucepan to the sink in the kitchen, she stepped in an oval-shaped hole in the floor, causing her to trip and fall. As she fell, the plaintiff spilled the boiling hot contents of the pan on herself, resulting in burns of her 18% of her body.

The accident victim and her family thought that she was a lawful tenant of the Singhs and Farnums. However, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc. had acquired ownership of the property at a foreclosure sale on April 12, 2001, as a result of the Singhs’ and Farnums’ delinquency on their mortgage payments. No one notified the woman of the foreclosure until she received a notice of eviction from Wells Fargo two days after her accident.

The plaintiff sued Norwest Mortgage Inc., which was the original mortgagor before being acquired by Wells Fargo; the court-appointed receiver who received the property during the foreclosure action; the Singhs; and the Farnums. The injury victim alleged that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the apartment and that their negligence created a dangerous condition.

Wells Fargo commenced a third-party action against Mortgage Contracting Services. It alleged that it hired Mortgage Contracting Services to perform monthly inspections of the property and that Mortgage Contracting Services was at least partially responsible.

Mortgage Contracting Services commenced a second third-party action against Quantum FACS Inc., Caretaker Properties Co. and Red Hawk Properties. Mortgage Contracting Services alleged that it hired the third-party defendants to perform interior repairs on the property and that they failed to do so.

Caretaker Properties failed to appear at trial, and a default judgment was entered. The court-appointed receiver was dismissed via pretrial summary judgment because it was determined that she had no management duties for the property. The matter continued against the remaining defendants.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendants failed to repair the hole in her floor. She contended that the defendants had known of the problems with the kitchen because the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development had regularly cited the Singhs and Farnums for code violations for hazardous disrepair to the premises, including her kitchen. She also contended that when employees from Quantum FACS and Red Hawk Properties had come by to perform repairs, she informed an inspector of the problems with her kitchen. The woman claimed that the original owners were negligent because they continued to falsely represent themselves as the owner of record and accept her rental payments. She also claimed that Wells Fargo was negligent because it was the true property owner.

The injured woman’s counsel claimed that he discovered that Wells Fargo had been penalized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to complete the foreclosure action within the time requirements of federal law.

The Singhs and Farnums contended that Wells Fargo’s acquisition at foreclosure six weeks before the woman’s accident relieved them of any subsequent liability for open and obvious defects of the premises. They further claimed that Mr. Farnum had abandoned the property shortly after the plaintiff’s family moved in and that his wife moved out one month before the accident. They moved to be let out of the case on summary judgment.

Wells Fargo contended that, as an out-of-possession owner, it had neither actual nor constructive notice, especially since it had never physically entered the premises. It alleged that Mortgage Contracting Services was responsible for any problems with the property because Mortgage Contracting Services was hired to inspect it. It also denied that it ever had contact or communication with anyone still living at the property. Wells Fargo also moved to be let out on summary judgment.

Mortgage Contracting Services asserted that its contractual responsibility to Wells Fargo was only to inspect the property from the outside and not to actually go inside or effect repairs. It also contended that it had reported to Wells Fargo that the building was occupied, but in disrepair and had hired Quantum FACS and Red Hawk Properties to do repairs that might need to be done, making them contractually indemnified. It also moved to be let out on summary judgment.

The court denied all motions for summary judgment.

Injury:

The plaintiff sustained third-degree burns throughout her legs, arms and torso. She was hospitalized for one month and underwent five separate split-thickness graft surgeries. She was left with keloid scarring of about 18% of her body surface, including her wrist, arms, legs and stomach.

The injured woman claimed that she missed three months of work as a result of her injuries. She did not need any follow-up care for her injuries after returning to work, but she claimed that she needed to see a psychiatrist on an outpatient basis five times over the ensuing five years. She sought recovery for damages for her past and future pain and suffering.

The defendants did not dispute the plaintiff’s burn scars as a result of her accident.

Result:

The matter went to mediation before retired judge Milton Mollen at JAMS/ENDISPUTE, but it settled outside of mediation for $4.58 Million prior to trial. Of the total settlement, Wells Fargo agreed to contribute $4.5 Million, and the insurer of the Farnums and the Singhs agreed to contribute $80,000 from its $100,000 policy.

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Judge: Douglas E. McKeon

Editor’s Comment:
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and counsel of the Farnums, Mortgage Contracting Services, Quantum FACS, Red Hawk Properties, the Singhs and Wells Fargo. Counsel of Caretaker Properties, the court-appointed receiver and Norwest Mortgage was not asked to contribute.

New York ranks 7th highest in dog attack lawsuit payouts

An industry report shows that just one insurance company in New York State paid out $6.4 Million in dog bite attack claims last year. Specialists say that the statistics are similar for other insurance carriers who pay hundreds of millions of dollars to injured victims of assaults by dogs. They explain that very often the dog attack could have been prevented by simply putting the canine on a leash or containing it inside of a fence. However, many dog owners are negligent and create a dangerous condition for others that share the sidewalks, streets and public parks. Public safety activists note that dog owners sometimes think that their dog is safe and well trained while the reality is that even small things can set the animal off, triggering a vicious assault. Even dogs that are on a leash as well as small dogs can pose a threat and require close monitoring, especially while in public. The unsuspecting assault victim, often young children, can suffer severe and evening life threatening injuries in the matter of seconds. Common dog attack injuries include lacerations, cuts, broken bones, head injury or even internal bleeding. The long-term effects of the trauma can lead to infections, brain damage, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dog bite associated diseases and even death.
Police relate that local, state and federal laws regarding dog safety are in place to prevent injuries and wrongful death due to someone being attacked by a dog. In response to inquiries, they answer that owners of dogs that bite someone face fines and personal injury lawsuits. In some circumstances, the owner may face criminal charges for battery, especially if the dog was a known danger or the owner knowingly created a hazardous condition. Homeowner and renter’s insurance policies often contain a third party liability policy that helps cover the cost of a negligence lawsuit and medical bills arising from dog bites. Victims of a dog assault can speak to a qualified personal injury lawyer for further advice. This can include a general passerby, visitor or even a workman injured while at work. Check out more about the frightening reality of dog attacks in New York.

Illustrative photo by Karen Arnold [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Boy rescued after falling into broken manhole in Brooklyn, New York

New York – A 10-year-old boy fell into an open manhole in a busy intersection of a city street earlier today. Various reports show that the manhole cover had broken but it was unclear as to when or how that occurred. The young boy fell into a hole while crossing the street but apparently slowed down his speed as he grabbed onto the walls and a ladder. Some telephone company workers nearby rushed to the accident scene and helped rescue the injured boy with their ladder. Some reports explain that the open hole had already been reported but the cover had not yet been repaired or replaced. The injured victim was taken to the hospital emergency room for treatment of his injuries. New Yorkers have expressed concern over what they describe as negligence by utility companies and the city in maintaining safe streets and sidewalks. They explain that manholes, sidewalk grates and construction sites are left broken or in disrepair on an alarmingly regular basis. Potholes, cracks and protruding tree roots are other dangers that pedestrians encounter on a daily basis. Others warn that businesses and even private homeowners sometimes ignore their responsibility to keep their property safe and free of trip hazards. They describe how store workers often leave metal doors that lead down to storerooms below the sidewalk wide open for extended periods of time. Sometimes the workers will place a chair or even a traffic cone nearby but rarely will the dangerous hole be properly secured, according to reports. Neglect of this sort puts the public at risk, according to accident prevention specialists. This is especially true during the snow, ice and rain during the winter months. Constant vigilance, forethought and repairs are necessary to prevent injury from these types of fall accidents and dangerous conditions. See this article for more about this morning’s fall victim.

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons