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Lexington Injury Law Blog

Nearly 300,000 minivans recalled due to airbag defect

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the parent company of Dodge, has announced the recall of 297,000 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans in Kentucky and throughout North America. The affected minivans were part of the 2011-12 model year. They are impacted by a potential problem with the driver's side airbag that causes it to deploy inadvertently.

The automaker reported that the issue is linked to electrical wiring inside the vehicle that can develop significant wear over time, leading to a short circuit. This could then trigger the driver's side airbags. Unlike other recalls like the Takata airbag recall, this consumer automobile recall is related to wiring problems in older vehicles.

New regulations for truck driver training

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule that contains changes to the commercial driver's license training requirements. The rule became effective on June 5, 2017, but drivers, companies and training organizations have until February 2020 to be in full compliance with the new law. The training requirements will only apply to new drivers who receive their CDLs on or after Feb. 7, 2020. These changes are seen as a benefit to overall driver safety in Kentucky and throughout the United States.

The rule was delayed five months due to a regulatory review by the Trump administration. It benefits CDL training and improves safety and consistency by creating a core curriculum. It also requires some behind-the-wheel training and mandates that applicants receive training only from people and companies registered and approved by the FMCSA. Companies that have their own trainers and training facilities will also have to be in compliance with this aspect of the rule.

Cargo safety is the focus of 2017 International Roadcheck

Motorists in Kentucky are more likely to see semi-tractor trailers and buses undergoing roadside inspections between June 6 and June 8 as inspectors step up their enforcement efforts during the annual International Roadcheck safety initiative. The effort is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance with the goal of encouraging truck and bus drivers and commercial vehicle operators to observe road safety laws and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

The CVSA asks inspectors to pay particular attention to a different aspect of truck safety during International Roadcheck each year. Brake violations were the focus during the safety blitz in 2016, and this year inspectors will be focusing their efforts on cargo safety. Drivers who fail to properly secure their loads can expect a citation, but the CVSA has produced a flyer containing tips about securing cargo properly to help drivers and truck operators avoid having their vehicles ordered out of service.

Supreme Court declines to hear truck driver sleep apnea case

Truck drivers in Kentucky and around the country with body mass indexes of 35 or higher may be more likely to have to undergo sleep apnea testing after the U.S. Supreme Court announced on April 3 that it would not hear a case challenging the legality of such testing. The litigation, which was filed by a truck driver, claimed that the Americans with Disabilities Act protected American workers from mandatory sleep apnea testing.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that interferes with sleep patterns and can lead to extreme fatigue. Obesity increases the chances of developing the condition considerably, and many truck operators around the country ask drivers with high body mass indexes to take tests costing about $1,200 each. The goal of theses tests is to keep drivers who may be more likely to be involved in truck accidents caused by truck driver fatigue off the road.

Erb's palsy can cause arm paralysis in infants

Although most Kentucky parents expect the delivery of their child to go as planned, birth injuries can occur. One injury that can be caused by a difficult delivery is called Erb's palsy. Also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, it can cause an infant's arm to be partially or fully paralyzed.

The brachial plexus, a group of nerves located in the neck, provide mobility and feeling to the arm area, including the shoulder and fingers. If an infant's neck is stretched to the side during the delivery, damage can be caused to this group of nerves. In many cases, this injury can be overcome with daily physical therapy exercises. In the meantime, the infant may have trouble moving the affected shoulder or raising his or her arm.

IIHS says side underride guards should be mandated

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization, underride guards mounted on the sides of trucks in Kentucky and throughout the country offer similar safety benefits to those that are mounted on the rear of the vehicles. Regulations mandating rear underride guards are under consideration.

The IIHS did two crash tests in 2017. One was using an underride guard and the other was using a fiberglass side skirt that was not designed for underride protection. In both 35-mph crash tests, a 53-foot dry van trailer was hit in the center by a mid-size passenger car. The first test used the underride protection, and while it bent, it also prevented the car from going under the truck. In the second test, using the side skirt, the roof came off and the car became wedged under the truck. According to the IIHS, that crash probably would have been fatal for vehicle occupants.

Autonomous trucks raise concerns about road safety

Driverless trucks may soon be appearing in Kentucky and across the United States. While the technology to empower self-driving tractor-trailers still needs heavy refinement, there are a number of companies working hard to be first to bring these trucks to market.

Of course, driverless trucks raise new concerns about safety and road-readiness as well. For example, an automated vehicle in a truck crash situation will need to determine through its own logic how to handle an imminent vehicle accident. For this reason, among many others, discussion of autonomous vehicles continues to center on this technology's use as an assistance mechanism for drivers rather than as a replacement.

Federal government is liable for botched forceps delivery

Expectant parents in Kentucky who are concerned about birth injuries should know about a ruling that was issued by a Pennsylvania court against the federal government. The government will be required to pay $41.6 million in compensation after an obstetrician working at a health clinic funded by the federal government was deemed negligent in the use of forceps to deliver a baby. The baby sustained permanent brain damage because of the medical care.

According to the lawsuit, the excessive traction and force and the mishandling of the forceps on the baby's skull by the obstetrician resulted in disastrous neurological damage to the baby. An expert witness who testified at the trial stated that the use of forceps in these types of deliveries are an option reserved for severe cases in which a life is at risk. Another witness testified that the baby incurred bleeding in the brain, multiple skull fractures and damage to the brain stem and cerebellum as a result of the use of the forceps.

What to do when a car is on recall

Starting in 2013, millions of Takata air bags were recalled because of safety concerns. Kentucky car owners can check whether their vehicle is on the recall list by putting their VIN number into a tool offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the number is found to be on the recall list, the car should be taken to a dealer as soon as possible.

The car does not need to go to the dealership where it was purchased. Furthermore, the car does not need to be in warranty to have the repair made for free. Those who may have purchased the car after the recall was first issued may also want to check to see if it is still on the list. If it is, the car can still be taken to a dealer for repair.

Hidden camera captures nursing home abuse

Placing elderly relatives who are no longer able to care for themselves in a long-term medical facility can be a difficult and emotional process for Kentucky families. Media reports about nursing home abuse and neglect are not uncommon, and one such story involves a Minnesota woman who placed a hidden camera in her 94-year-old father's room after her efforts to get to the bottom of his deteriorating health proved fruitless.

According to news sources, the woman decided to take action after staff at the Forest Lake facility failed to adequately answer her questions about her father's situation. The World War II veteran had been a resident at the senior living center for almost a decade when his health began to worsen rapidly. The man is legally blind and suffers from dementia, and the hidden camera placed in his room captured harrowing footage of his mistreatment and neglect.

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