Articles Posted in Products Liability

Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney Joseph Lipsky wants owners of Ford vehicles to be aware of a potentially dangerous problem with seat belts which can fail and cause life threatening personal injuries. Ford just announced a recall of nearly 700,000 vehicles because a vehicle defect with their seat belt anchors can overhead resulting them breaking during a crash.  The anchors are part of the vehicle’s pretensioner system which is designed to tighten up seat belt webbing slack and work together with the vehicle’s air bag system.

As Ford says, the defect which affects 2016 – 2016 Fusions, 2013 – 2015 Lincoln MKZ’s and 2015 – 2016 Mondeo’s “may inadequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing risk of injury,” resulting in personal injuries which the seat belts were designed to prevent. To date, this known defect has resulted in at least two separate injuries.  Ford’s recall is supposed to commence in early January 2017. The anticipated repair will involve a Ford dealer mechanic injecting an insulating coating around the anchor. The coating will keep the anchor cool, allowing the seat belt to restrain the occupant as designed in the event of a car accident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control not only do seat belts prevent vehicle occupants from being thrown from their vehicle during a crash, as evidenced by research of traffic death statistics which demonstrates that occupants not using seat belts are nearly thirty times more likely to be thrown from a vehicle during a crash. Not surprisingly, almost 75% of people thrown from a vehicle during a wreck are likely to suffer fatal injuries. Considering over 15,000 people’s lives are saved each year by seat belt use, Ford’s faulty design jeopardizes hundreds of thousands of vehicle occupants’ lives safety. Additionally, failing to use a seat belt greatly increases the likelihood of serious injuries caused by vehicle occupants striking the dashboard and windshield.

Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that a personal injury products liability case against Ford Motor Company, in which a drunk driver caused a single car accident and suffered catastrophic personal injuries may continue. The injured motorist claimed that she suffered personal injuries because Ford negligently designed the suspension and roof supports in a 1999 Ford Explorer.

The Court held that if someone is injured due to a car’s mechanical defect, that Florida’s strict liability standard in product liability cases should hold the manufacturer responsible even if the defect which caused the injury was not the cause of the crash. The Court reasoned that a manufacturer’s responsibility should also include cases where a crash is not caused by a structural defect; stating that how a crash occurs, and the mechanism of injury, are inseparable and should be considered a single incident. And, because such car accidents and personal injuries are foreseeable, the vehicle manufacturer must assume those risks.

Having helped seriously injured victims of dangerous products across the State of Florida for more than twenty years we agree with the Court’s reasoning and hope that all manufacturers understand the necessity in making their products less dangerous and crash-worthy.

As personal injury lawyers helping the innocent victims of deadly car accidents throughout Florida, we are pleased to note that although Floridians are driving greater distances, car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths have drastically decreased over the past decade. According to the NHTSA this welcome decrease in deadly accidents is due to car manufacturers’ greater concern for safety.

Due to a better understanding of how to build vehicles that better protect occupants, the NHTSA concluded that over a million people have been spared serious personal injuries and more than 2000 lives have been saved. The NHTSA’s study looked at the ability of vehicles to protect their occupants from the so-called secondary impacts; that is, the occupant striking the interior portion of the vehicle.

Some examples of more crash resistant safety advances include more and improved air bags, pre-tensioning seat belts, increased vehicle crumple zones, side impact protection, additional interior padding and accident sensing head rests. We concur with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in celebrating the decline in wrongful deaths and personal injuries.

As personal injury attorneys handling medical malpractice and products liability cases throughout the State of Florida, we try to keep consumers informed of dangerous products which cause personal injuries. The DePuy ASR, a metal-on-metal hip replacement system, is one such product which is continuing to injury too may patients.

Although the FDA approved the DePuy ASR for use in traditional hip replacement in 2005, the device did not undergo appropriate clinical trials. Unfortunately, since 2008, hundreds of patients have had to have the device replaced soon after getting it.

According to The New York Times, DePuy hip implants are used in about one-third of the approximately 250,000 hip replacements performed annually. However, many orthopedic surgeons have stopped using these DePuy devices due to concerns that they cause severe tissue and bone damage.

As Florida Lawyers we are truly disappointed by the current state of the law regarding the erosion of injured victims rights caused by the negligence of medical product manufacturers. A Federal Judge in Minnesota just dismissed cases brought by thousands of injured patients with heart-defibrillator wires which were proven to fracture, shock and sometimes kill patients .

The cases were dismissed because of a recent decision by United States Supreme Court which proclaimed that federal law pre-empts state based product-liability lawsuits, essentially preventing such cases. Therefore, in the absence of some new law passed by Congress, victims injured due to faulty medical products will be unable to file a lawsuit unless they can prove the medical company violated FDA regulations. This will certainly be a difficult, if not impossible, hurdle for injured patients to meet.

Unfortunately, given the efforts of medical manufacturers and drug makers, who have convinced lawmakers that federal regulations take precedent over state laws, the Supreme Court will probably soon also apply this pre-emption to drugmakers.

A Miami Dade County Judge ruled that Florida smokers, former smokers and survivors of smokers may be eligible for a portion of an unprecedented fund of $600 million which was established by the tobacco industry. The qualifications are: the disease or medical condition must have been first diagnosed or manifested itself before November 21, 1996; and claimants will be required to submit “contemporaneous, verifiable proof,” mainly medical records dated before November 21, 1996, to support their claim.

The fund, known as the “Engle Trust Fund,” named after the original plaintiff in the Florida products liability case against the tobacco industry, is for people, or survivors of immediate family members, who have suffered, presently suffer, or have died from the diseases and medical conditions, including aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), cervical cancer, COPD (including emphysema), heart attack, throat cancer, kidney cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer, miscarriage, and oral cavity/tongue cancer.

We cannot stress strongly enough that all claims must be registered no later than June 16, 2008. Any claim not submitted, along with the necessary medical records documentation, by June 16, 2008, will not be eligible for a proportionate share of the fund.

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