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Lexington Injury Law Blog

Recalls drop in 2017

In 2017, vehicle recalls fell to 30.7 million from 53 million in 2016. Kentucky residents may remember that 2016 was the year in which the Takata air bag recall took place. Between 2014 and 2016, there were roughly 50 million recalls or more in the United States annually. This was an increase over the prior two decades in which 10.2 to 30.8 million vehicles were recalled each year.

The recent increase was because of pressure placed on automakers in the aftermath of the GM ignition switch defect. In 2016, there were 924 different recall campaigns, which was a 7 percent increase from the previous year. However, in 2017, that number dropped to 813. Overall, vehicle recalls are at their lowest since 2013 according to Reuters. Those who have an active recall notice on their vehicle should have the issue fixed as soon as possible.

Owner-operator lobby group seeks review of sleep apnea regulation

According to a recent filing with the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, is seeking a rehearing of its argument regarding sleep apnea screenings. The OOIDA claims that a recent rule change by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, violates federal law. These regulations have a direct impact on Kentucky drivers given that they seek to limit collisions related to fatigued driving.

According to the OOIDA, the FMCSA violated a federal statute relating to the regulation of sleep apnea screening in truck drivers. The 2013 law requires the FMCSA to use the formal rule-making process when making any changes to the rules regarding sleep apnea screening. This formal process involves a public notice requirement and comment period, something the FMCSA allegedly did not comply with regarding the recent rule change. The rule in question includes modifications to the forms used by Department of Transportation during driver physicals.

FMCSA may issue changes to truckers' 14-hour clock

Commercial truck drivers in Kentucky will want to know about a proposal to change certain hours of service rules. A year earlier, truckers saw the overturning of rules that allowed only one 34-hour restart per week and that required them to have two early morning periods. The new proposal is now targeting the mandate that all truckers take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of every shift.

The proposal comes in the form of a petition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The agency is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow truckers to pause their 14-hour clock for up to three consecutive hours. This would overthrow the 30-minute break mandate as well as the requirement that 14-hour daily clocks never stop. However, the OOIDA does not ask for a change to the rule that drivers take 10 off-duty hours before their next shift.

Drowsy truckers asleep at the wheel

Tracy Morgan-the actor and comedian best known for his work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live-just about lost his life in an accident. Back in 2014, Morgan was a passenger in a limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer crashed into the van. The impact flipped the Mercedes with Morgan and five other passengers onto its side and smashed it into other vehicles. The crash involved a total of 21 people and 6 vehicles.

Even though Morgan spent two weeks in a coma after the accident and suffered a broken leg, nose, ribs and a traumatic brain injury, he fared better than his friend, James McNair, who died in the impact. It's only been recently that Morgan has been able to return to performing.

Ford Ranger trucks recalled due to air bags

Kentucky truck owners may be interested to learn that Ford and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have declared 2006 Ford Ranger trucks unsafe to drive. Tests have determined that the trucks have defective Takata air bag inflators that pose an "immediate risk" to drivers and passengers.

In January, a West Virginia man was killed when the air bag in his Ford Ranger exploded. Ford then studied the air bags in 2006 Ranger trucks and found that they have a higher risk of rupturing than air bags in other model years. According to the company and the NHTSA, the vehicles are not safe to drive. As a result, Ford dealers will arrange to have them towed to a service center to have the airbag inflators replaced. The recall involves 33,428 Ranger trucks built between Aug. 5 and Dec. 15, 2005. It also includes 2006 Mazda B-series trucks, which were built by Ford.

Parents awarded $42 million in birth injury case

Many Kentucky parents depend on doctors to safely deliver babies. However, medical professionals sometimes make mistakes during a child's delivery that can result in serious birth injuries.

For example, the federal government recently agreed to pay $42 million to a Pennsylvania couple whose son suffered brain injuries from the use of forceps during his birth. According to court documents, the boy was delivered at federally-supported Keystone Women's Health Center in February 2012. During the delivery, an obstetrician used forceps to pull on the boy's head, allegedly causing skull fractures and bleeding in his brain. As a result, the boy, now age 5, is unable to speak, read or write. He will also likely be confined to a motorized wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Drugs used to restrain nursing home residents

According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch, nursing home residents in Kentucky and the rest of the country who have dementia are given antipsychotic drugs on a regular basis so that they are more easily managed. This is in direct contradiction to nursing home regulations that prohibits the use of drugs as chemical restraints. It is also despite the fact that antipsychotic drug use is linked to a higher risk of death in dementia sufferers.

Information for the report was obtained from visits researchers made to over 100 nursing homes. The report estimates that over 179,000 older individuals in nursing homes in the United States are administered antipsychotic drugs every week without being properly diagnosed. In many instances, the drugs are administered without the informed consent of the nursing home residents or their families.

Automotive recalls hit record high in 2016

While the number of automotive recalls in 2017 has not yet been officially determined, it will likely not approach the figure posted in 2016. In fact, Automotive News has stated that 2016 was an all-time record, with 53.1 million vehicles being recalled in the U.S. In comparison, there were 50.8 million vehicles recalled in 2015, marking a 4.5 percent increase. Kentucky motorists should be aware of why 2016 saw such a spike.

One major factor was the Takata airbag recall. Takata Corporation recalled over 20 million airbags, and continues to recall them, because of defective inflators. The airbags were discovered to explode upon impact, injuring or killing the vehicle's occupants with metal shards. That year, General Motors Company was also recalling vehicles with faulty ignition switches. These switches would turn off the engine and disable the airbag, power steering, and other features.

Ford updates recall after confirming faulty airbag death

Kentucky Ford pickup owners may be interested to learn that, on Jan. 11, Ford Motor Co released a statement that confirmed that a second death was caused by a defective Takata airbag. The fatal accident occurred in July 2017 in West Virginia. The previous fatal accident occurred in December 2015.

Ford confirmed that the two vehicles involved in the accidents were 2006 Ford Rangers. Both airbags had actually been built on the same day. The death prompted Ford to issue an updated recall for vehicles that were recalled back in 2016. The affected vehicles included more than 391,000 2004 to 2006 Ford Ranger vehicles. The updated recall also identified 2,700 vehicle owners in the U.S. who were at the highest risk.

Senators introduce bill requiring truck side guards

On Dec. 12, two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would require all tractor-trailer trucks to have side and front crash guards. Safety experts say that the proposed legislation would make roads safer in Kentucky and across the country.

Federal statistics show that over 200 Americans are killed in side underride collisions with trucks each year. In this type of accident, a passenger vehicle slides beneath the side of a truck's trailer. When this occurs, the top of the passenger vehicle can be ripped off, killing the people inside. The National Transportation Safety Board says that side guards would prevent many underride accidents, but the trucking industry has resisted calls to install the safety devices.

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