Munley News

NHTSA coming under fire for not acting fast enough on recalls

Munley Law logoAn investigation by The New York Times into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has found that the safety organization has been slow to identify and act on vehicle safety issues. According to The New York Times, the failures go well beyond its slow reaction to the GM ignition switch defect.

The Associated Press reported that this week Congressional Republicans charged that the NHTSA was years late in detecting the deadly problem with General Motors’ cars and lacks the expertise to oversee increasingly complex vehicles.

The congressional report stated that safety regulators should have discovered GM’s faulty ignition switches seven years before the company recalled 2.6 million cars to fix the deadly problem. It also raised serious questions about the NHTSA’s ability to keep the public safe.

The New York Times reported that by the time GM started the recall, the NHTSA had received more than 2,000 complaints about the problem. At least 19 people died in crashes caused by the faulty switches in GM small cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt. Lawmakers have said they expect the death toll to rise to near 100. GM admitted knowing about the problem for at least ten years before issuing the recall in February. The long delay in the recall left many affected vehicles on the road, causing many additional crashes that resulted in deaths and injuries.

The New York Times cited other cases in which the NHTSA was slow to act. Last year, the regulator suggested that Chrysler recall 2.7 million jeeps for exploding fuel tanks. After Chrysler pushed back, the agency lowered its request to 1.1 million cars. Prior to making the recall request, the NHTSA had linked 51 deaths to the defect over a 14-year period.

The slow action has been going on for decades. Both lawmakers and consumer groups criticized the NHTSA in the late 1990s for failing to detect a high incidence of rollover accidents involving Ford Explorers with Firestone tires. The problem was estimated to have resulted in accidents causing more than 250 fatalities. At the time, congress passed a law giving the agency more control over the auto industry and better access to data, yet it didn’t help improve the speed with which the NHTSA reacted to the GM problem.

CNBC quoted a former NHTSA employee as saying that part of the safety agency’s problem in dealing with investigations is surely lack of resources, or at least how those resources are allocated. The article went on to say that the agency’s budget for safety defects investigation has only been about 1% of its total budget for each of the last 6 years. The $10.6 million total budgeted for this ear is less than the $14.4 million total compensation package that GMs chief executive, Mary Barra, could earn in 2014.

Although traffic fatalities have fallen considerably since the NHTSA was created in 1970, it is due in part to the safety improvement in vehicles and roadways. The NHTSA has a history of falling short of expectations in protecting the safety of the public.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of a problem with a Chevy Cobalt or another vehicle, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.

Drug recalls could hit record high in 2014

Julia MunleyAccording to a recent article in Pharmaceutical Online, new data released from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that 2014 could have the highest number of drug recalls in the past decade. In 2013 and 2014 to date, there have nearly been as many recalls as in the previous nine years combined.

A drug recall occurs when a prescription or over-the-counter medicine is removed from the market because it is found to be either defective or potentially harmful.

The FDA currently classifies the recalls in a three-tier system.

• Class I – A situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
• Class II – A situation in which use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
• Class III – A situation in which use of, or exposure to, a violative product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.

According to the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, one trend may be to blame for a sizeable portion of the recalls. Beginning in 2012, the FDA initiated a crackdown on compounding pharmacies after a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis. There was an outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received contaminated steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that 64 people died and 751 cases were reported in 20 states

An inspection of recall reports by Regulatory Focus found that a sizeable number of Class II recall reports were related to compounding pharmacies. Many of those pharmacies had products, which had possible, but unconfirmed, microbial contamination.

A list of all drug recalls this year can be found on the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/Drugsafety/DrugRecalls/default.htm. It is extremely important that people taking medication keep aware of drug recalls and warnings, as it could affect their health.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley law encourage you to tell your doctor immediately if you have any unusual symptoms that you fear may be linked to the medicine. If a prescription drug you are taking is recalled, call your doctor as soon as possible to find out what replacement is needed.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are among the top rated in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Call today for a free case evaluation. Call 855-866-5529.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer warns of the health risk of shift work

James Christopher MunleyThe National Sleep Foundation defines as shift worker as anyone who follows a work schedule outside of the typical 9 to 5 business day. Millions of Americans are considered shift workers, including doctors and nurses, pilots, police officers, customer service reps and commercial drivers among others.

According to WebMD, there are about 8.6 million people performing shift work in the U.S., either through rotating shifts during the week, or working a night job. WebMD quoted a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School as saying that there is strong evidence that shift work is related to a number of serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Shift work has also been linked to ulcers and other stomach problems, as well as depression and an increased risk of accidents or injury.

One of the most serious problems shift workers face is a frequent sleep disturbance that result in excessive sleepiness and fatigue. This can lead to serious accidents and injures in the workplace. According to The National Sleep Foundation, some of the most notorious of modern catastrophes, such as the failure of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the crash of the Exxon Valdez have been attributed to human fatigue. According to a CBS News report, a recent poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that one in five pilots make a serious error at work because they are tired. Sleep depravation and fatigue are dangerous in so many industries, including trucking. We have all heard about the sleep deprived condition of the trucker that led to the tragic truck accident this summer that fatally injured one, and left comedian Tracy Morgan and others in critical condition.

An article in The Ergonomics Open Journal from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that the risk of occupational injury was 41% higher for 10-hour working days compared to 8-hour working days. They also found that those working more than 12-hour days showed a 98% increase in involvement in occupational injury. The results of the study showed that shift work considerably increased the risk of occupational injury in the U.S.

Many industries, including health care, airline and trucking have all responded to this high rate of accidents by reducing mandatory work hours and placing limitations on the number of consecutive hours worked. However, we still see a high rate of injuries as a result of fatigued workers.

Here are a few tips for shift workers from the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law
• Maintain a healthy diet. Many shift workers suffer from obesity, so eating regularly scheduled, healthy meals, will help you stay at a healthy weight.
• Get enough exercise. This will help you sleep better and also maintain your weight.
• Get enough sleep. It may help to keep to the same sleep/wake schedule, even when you are not working. If you need to sleep during the day, eliminate light and noise from your sleep environment, using shades and even eye masks and earplugs.
• Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime, they will often disrupt and delay sleep.
• Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. It may seem to improve sleep initially, but will eventually disturb sleep.

If you have been injured on the job, call the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law. We are dedicated to helping injured employees obtain the full worker’s compensation benefit to which they are entitled. Call today for a free consultation at 855-866-5529

At least 19 deaths now linked to GMs faulty ignition switch

Marion MunleyGeneral Motors will pay compensation for 19 deaths linked to a faulty ignition switch, according to multiple news sources. This is more than the 13 deaths they originally estimated, and some lawmakers have estimate the death toll is close to 100.

According to the Automotive News, independent compensation expert, Kenneth Feinberg said the GM fund has now received 445 claims, including 125 for deaths, 58 for serious injuries and 262 for brief hospitalization or outpatient care. They have since approved 31 claims, including 19 for deaths. According to CNN, most of the remaining claims are still being reviewed. Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the program, told Automotive News that no claims have been rejected thus far.

GM has admitted knowing about the ignition switch problem for more than a decade, yet it didn’t begin recalling the switches in small cars until earlier this year. GM’s ignition-switch recall began in February and expanded to about 2.6 million cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The faulty ignition switches can slip out of the “run” position into “accessory” or “off,” cutting off power to the engine. That can disable power steering, brakes and also air bags if there’s a crash.

GM’s decision not to recall the cars until early this year, despite evidence that some employees knew of the problem more than a decade earlier, triggered numerous lawsuits and investigations, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department.

Greater scrutiny to GM’s handling of vehicle issues led to a stream of recalls; the company has issued 65 this year for a total of nearly 30 million vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has been under scrutiny for missing signs of the broader ignition-switch failures and passing on opening a formal defect investigation in 2007 and again in 2010.

GM set aside $400 million to fund the compensation program, although it is possible another $200 million may need to be set aside. There is no cap on the total cost for the number of claims to be accepted. Feinberg started accepting claims Aug. 1. The deadline to submit claims is Dec. 31.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of a problem with a Chevy Cobalt or another GM vehicle, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529. The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are experts on the GM recall case, as well as other car, truck and bus accidents.

Personal injury lawyers at Munley Law encourage the use of car seats and booster seats for children

trsbannerChild Passenger Safety Week is September 14-20 and it’s the perfect time to bring awareness to the importance of car and booster seats. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. The best way to protect your child in a vehicle is by using a properly installed car seat that is appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. Often times, fatalities and serious injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car and booster seats, as well as set belts.

Safe Kids Worldwide estimates that children ages 2 to 5 who use seat belts prematurely are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those in child safety seats or booster seats. Safe Kids also reported that of those children ages 12 and under who died in vehicle crashes in 2011, 33% were unrestrained. That is a tragic statistic that is preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2012, more than 1,100 children ages 14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes and more than 176,000 were injured. The CDC found that in 2011, restraint use saved the lives of 263 children ages 4 years and younger. The CDC estimates that proper car seats can reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers age 1 to 4, and that booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law want parents to know the stages for appropriate car seats. In addition to these appropriate age/weight recommendations, all children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

Birth to 2 – Rear-facing car seat. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat buckled in the back seat until they are at least 2 years of age or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular sat. Check the manufacturer information for limits.

2 to 5 – Forward-facing car seat. When a child outgrows their rear-facing weight or height limit, they should be buckled in the back seat in a front-facing car seat. They should remain in the front-facing car seat until at least the age of 5 or when they reach the weight and height limits of the seat.

Younger school-aged children – Booster seats. All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until they achieve the height and weight that that the vehicle seat fits properly. The CDC recommends a height of 57 inches tall for proper seat belt fit. Again, children in booster seats and in seat belts should ride in the back seat.

The NHTSA recommends that for safety, children 4 to 7 years old should be in booster seats. The NHTSA also recommends that parents refer to the specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions on weight and height limits. Car seats on the market today can exhibit a wide variation in height and weight limits. If children over the age of 7 are still within the weight and height limits of their booster seat, they should be kept in that type of seat.

The 2013 NHTSA National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats found that 40% of children newborn to 12 years old who were 37 to 53 inches tall were either unrestrained or prematurely graduated to seat belts. 84% of children up to 12 who were 54 to 56 inches tall were either unrestrained or prematurely graduated to seat belts.

Regardless of the size or type of vehicle, the age of the child, or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained. When properly installed and used, car seats and booster seats can save lives. Remember, children learn by example, so always buckle up when driving, no matter how short the distance.

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law have been fighting for clients for over five decades. They are experts in car, truck, bus and pedestrian accidents, representing clients throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. If you need a lawyer to fight for you, you need Munley Law. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

Another Victory For Munley Law

Munley Law logo

A jury returned a verdict in the amount of $200,500.00 in favor of Sandra Seamans of New Milford, Pa. on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, following three days of testimony before the Honorable Malachy Mannion. Mrs. Seamans claimed she was injured following a rearend automobile accident that occurred in 2011 on I-81 South near Exit 223.  The Defendant in the case was Universal Technical Institute and its employee. The verdict awarded damages to Mrs. Seamans for wage loss and pain and suffering resulting from chronic neck and back pain that she suffered in the accident. “We are thrilled with the verdict” said lead attorney, Marion Munley.  Justice was served.  Sandra Seamans was represented by Marion Munley, Caroline Munley and Julia Munley of Munley Law.

 

Drunk driving plays a role in death of a 12-year-old boy in Old Forge, PA

Robert W Munley IIIDrunk driving continues to be a serious problem in our area and across the country. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that across the country, about one in every four people who were convicted for drunk driving was a repeat offender. A Philadelphia Inquirer article published earlier this week reported that Pennsylvania has a high rate of offenders. The article said that although someone dies on average every day in Pennsylvania from a DUI accident, it is one of the few states that require a conviction before yanking a license for DUI.

Although than 600 Pennsylvania police departments, including the state police, participated in a nationwide DUI crackdown over Labor Day weekend, with DUI checkpoints and roving patrols, drunk driving that weekend caused heartbreak for many families. Locally, there was much accident-related tragedy. WNEP TV reported that crashes killed nearly a dozen people, including a 12-year-old boy who was killed in a crash while driving with his father in Old Forge. Their car was involved in a collision with an SUV. The driver of the SUV, who ran from the scene and was caught a short time later, is suspected of DUI. Neither the boy nor his father was wearing a seatbelt, which also reinforces the importance of wearing seatbelts at all times.

The NHTSA reported that in 2012, more than 10,3000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – one every 51 minutes. That accounted for 31% of the total traffic fatalities for the entire year. In 2012, 20% of the motor vehicle crashes involving children 14 and younger involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Of those deaths, 52% of the children were occupants of a vehicle with a drunk driver.

The Pennsylvania State Police just released these statistics regarding crashes over Labor Day weekend. Thirteen people were killed and 211 others injured in 686 crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police. These statistics only included those crashes investigated by the state police, not those investigated by local authorities. The State Police reported that 70 of those crashes, including two fatal crashes, were alcohol related. The state police issued 10,050 speeding tickets and arrested 545 drivers for DUI. In addition, troopers cited 813 people for not wearing seat belts and 204 drivers for not securing children in safety seats.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law offer the following warning signs of a drunk driver:
• Tailgating
• Quick acceleration
• Excessive braking
• Veering through the lanes or swerving
• Driving very slowly or under the speed limit
• Almost striking an object, curb or vehicle
• Straddling the center line
• Driving off the road
• Slow response to traffic signals
• Not using headlights at night
• Turning abruptly
• Stopping abruptly

Munley Law encourages you to stay as far away from a potential drunk driver as possible and call 911 immediately if you suspect someone is driving drunk. Pull over to call 911, giving your exact location and a description of the suspicious vehicle. By calling 911, you could be saving a life.

If you have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver or another car or truck accident, call the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 855-866-5529 or visit www.munley.com.

Munley Law encourages increased awareness of suicide prevention

Caroline MunleySeptember 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented. The tragic death of Robin Williams has drawn the nation’s attention to the topic of suicide. The outpouring of grief for Williams has including extensive conversations on the topics of mental health and suicide prevention. It was reported that Williams was battling severe depression when he took his own life.

Suicide is an increasing public health concern. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 39,518 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in America. It is estimated that one person will die as the result of suicide every 13 minutes in the U.S. The vast majority suffers from some sort of clinical depression or another mental illness, yet depression is still a misunderstood medical problem.

Psychology Today reported a large increase in suicide rates among 35 to 64 year olds. The publication also reported an increase in males 50 to 59 years old of about 48% and an increase in females 60 to 64 years of age of 60%. Economic factors may have contributed to these increases, as older workers often had a harder time recovering from recession. There is a significant relationship between suicide and unemployment among middle-aged Americans as well, according to a study published in the Social Science and Medicine Journal. Other research has also found a connection between a stressful economy and depression.

Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides may occur without warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings signs. You can help prevent the suicide of a friend or loved one by learning to recognize the warning signs and learning what to do if you see them.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law shared the following warning signs of suicide:

• Threatening suicide or talking about wanting to die, many people do talk about it first.
• Seeming depressed or in a very low mood
• Pessimism
• Expressing a sense of hopelessness or desperation
• Anxiety
• Withdrawal – losing interest in family friends
• Changes in sleep
• Reckless behavior
• Increased alcohol and/or drug use
• Obtaining a means, such as a gun, poisons or medications.
• Setting affairs in order.
• Exhibiting anger or rage

Take any suicidal behavior or talk seriously, it is not just a warning sign, but also a cry for help. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

The family of personal injury lawyers at Munley Law is committed to fighting for the rights of our clients. For more information, visit www.munley.com.

$2,050,000 settlement reached in Wayne County pedestrian accident case

SS DisabilityOn average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes in 2012, the most recent year for which data was available. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,743 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2012 and an estimated 76,000 pedestrians were injured. The NHTSA reported that fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4% over 2011).

On August 27, a $2,050,000 settlement was reached in a wrongful death case scheduled to go to trial in Wayne County, Pa. The accident involved the death of 60-year-old Ruthann Malti who was struck and killed by a Ford pickup truck on the corner of 7th and Church Streets in downtown Honesdale, Pa.

A case was filed on behalf of the Estate of Ruthann Malti by attorneys Daniel Munley and Julia Munley of Munley Law, Scranton. As a result of the accident, Malti suffered significant pain and suffering, and irreversible brain damage, which lead to her death a few days later. It was always the position of the Malti family that the change to the one-way street configuration and misplacement of crosswalks led to this accident.

Over the course of the case, the attorneys from Munley Law retained engineers who, after reviewing the site, concluded that the intersection was unnecessarily dangerous to pedestrians. Further review showed that none of the supervisory entities took any action to remove the dangers and improve safety, despite numerous ominous warnings and near misses prior to this accident.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported a 15% increase in pedestrian deaths from 2009 to 2012, as compared with a 3% decrease in all other motor vehicle deaths during that same time period. Data from the NHSA showed that the majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol. Although the GHSA says reasons for the increase in pedestrian deaths are not clearly understood, possibilities include more people walking in the aftermath of the economic recession and also the encouragement of walking for health and environmental benefits. An increase in distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians is also believed to be a contributor to the increase. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, in 2012, 44% of the pedestrian deaths occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 25% took place between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law offer ten tips for pedestrians:
1. Walk on a sidewalk or path whenever possible. If none is available, walk facing traffic, on the shoulder, as far away from traffic as possible.
2. Make yourself visible to drivers. Wear bright colored clothing, and if walking at night, wear reflective materials or carry a flashlight.
3. Be cautious. Never assume a driver sees you.
4. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. If none is available, cross at a well lit area. Be careful at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield to pedestrians while turning onto another street.
5. Be alert. Watch for traffic before and while you are crossing a street.
6. Do not walk on highways or pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
7. Use extra caution when crossing driveways and alley entrances.
8. Never assume that a vehicle is going to stop at a light, wait until it stops before crossing.
9. Obey all traffic signals.
10. Stay free from distractions while walking, including cell phones and other electronic devices.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident or a car crash, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529 or visit www.munley.com.

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Personal injury lawyer warns about the dangers of general aviation

James Christopher MunleyJust this past weekend, two people were killed in a small plane crash in New Hampshire, five in a small plane crash in Colorado, one in Florida, two in Texas, and one off the coast of Virginia among others.

An investigation by USA Today that was reported in the publication this summer talked about the lack of safety and hidden defects linked to small aircraft crashes. USA Today reported that nearly 45,000 people have been killed in crashes of small airplanes and helicopters since 1964. While federal investigators are often quick to blame pilots, USA Today found many instances in which defective parts and dangerous designs were the cause of crashes, deaths and injuries. The USA Today investigation found that many defects have persisted as manufacturers covered up problems, failed to fix defects and lied to regulators. Apparently some defective parts remained in use for decades, and some are still in use today.

USA Today reported that the danger of private airplanes and helicopters, known as general aviation, far exceeds that of airline flying. They reported that in 2013, there were 1,199 general aviation crashes, more than three per day on average, killing 347 people, including 571 and destroying 121 aircraft. Statistics released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for 2012 general aviation accident statistics included 1,471 accidents and 271 fatal accidents. NTSB statistics showed that in 2012, 95 percent of the aviation accidents and 97% of the fatalities occurred in general aviation.

According to the New York Times, an October 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the highest incidence of fatal accidents in general aviation occurred with single-engine piston airplanes, on personal flights, in which pilots lost control of their aircraft. In some cases, bad weather was to blame, and according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, nearly 75% of weather-related accidents are fatal.

The New York Times reported that five years ago the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set a goal of reducing the accident rate in general aviation by 10% by 2018, but it has remained static, with the NTSB reporting an average of 1,500 aviation accidents a year, resulting in about 450 fatalities. Some of the new FAA safety programs include NextGen, an air traffic modernization program, and the Got Weather program, aimed at helping general aviation pilots prepare for potential weather challenges. The NTSB believes that adequate education and training and screening for risky behavior are critical to improving aviation safety.

According to the FAA, the top 10 leading causes of fatal general aviation accidents 2001-2011 are:
1. Loss of flight control
2. Controlled flight into terrain
3. System component failure – powerplant
4. Low altitude operations
5. Unknown or undetermined
6. Other
7. Fuel related
8. System component failure – non-powerplant
9. Midair collisions
10. Windshear or thunderstorm

The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are highly experienced in small plane crashes. The firm represented the families of several victims of a tragic small plane crash that killed seventeen passengers in Bear Creek Township, Luzerne County several years ago, helping to get a $32.25 million settlement, the largest personal injury settlement in the history of Luzerne County. For a free consultation with the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law, call 855-866-5529.