Munley News

As families begin to settle with GM over crashes, is it too little too late?

Marion MunleyLast week, more than a dozen families were given a choice to accept a settlement or fight GM in a potentially lengthy court battle over deaths in crashes tied to faulty ignition switches. The families of two Wisconsin girls killed in the 2006 crash of Chevrolet Cobalt accepted offers from GM, dropping a lawsuit in favor the settlement.

The crash that killed 18-year-old Natasha Weigel and 15-year-old Amy Rademaker was one of the first blamed on the faulty switches. According to ABC News, a Wisconsin state trooper investigating the crash made the connection between the position of the ignition switch and the air bags not deploying. An investigation into GMs delay in handling the recall found that both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were aware of the trooper’s report, but largely ignored it.

Despite evidence from this crash and others that faulty ignition switches were causing engines to stall and air bags to be disabled, GM and federal regulators did nothing for years. Earlier this year, GM finally recalled 2.6 million vehicles that were equipped with the switches.

Not only had GM been aware of the ignition switch problem for more than a decade prior to issuing their recall, but investigations have shown that the NHTSA also received evidence of the safety issue as far back as 2007. That came when Wisconsin officials told the NHTSA of their findings in in the Chevrolet Cobalt crash that killed the two teenage girls. According to a congressional report, the NHTSA either overlooked or failed to understand the implications of the Wisconsin report and didn’t follow up properly.

An article in Time last week quoted David Friedman, acting head of the NHTSA, as stating “any life lost is one too many; anything that we can do to improve in a situation like this, we’ve got to do. We need a new normal when it comes to recalls. Dropping the ball will not be tolerated.”

The Associated Press reported that although GM admitted that people within the company knew for years about and failed to fix the defective switches, some victims’ families would have a difficult time winning against the automaker in court, because of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. A bankruptcy judge ruled that GM is shielded from liability in crashes that occurred prior to July 2008. It is still unclear how many critical crash injuries and fatalities occurred prior to that time.

In a statement, Amy Rademaker’s mother, Margie Beskau, said “GM is hiding behind their bankruptcy, so it would make it very difficult for us to sue them, because Amy died before they filed that bankruptcy.”

Families of victims of crashes that happened after July 2008 may be willing to fight in court, because GM can be found liable for death or injury.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of a faulty ignition switch with a Chevrolet Cobalt or another GM car, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529. The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are experts in the GM recall case, as well as car, truck and bus accidents. The Munley Law team will fight for you.

Safety group files suit for tougher trucker training laws

Daniel MunleySeveral groups, including the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed suit against the DOT and the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), seeking stiffer rules for training entry-level truck drivers.

Bloomberg reported that regulators have missed deadlines set by two laws passed by Congress since 1991. According to the article, the FMSCA issued a rule in 2004 that only requires 10 hours of classroom work on such topics as driver wellness and hours of service. The watchdog groups say that rule is inadequate, because it doesn’t require any training for entry-level drivers on how to operate commercial vehicles, according to the complaint.

In 2012, Congress passed a second law (the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” also known as MAP-21) requiring the DOT to issue the entry-level training rule, this time by Oct. 1, 2013. Congress specified that the rule had to include behind-the-wheel training.

According to TheTrucker.com, congress initially told the DOT to finish a rulemaking process on driver training by 1993, but the agency still has not done so. While the FMSCA is dragging its feet, people are dying in truck accidents. Deaths and injuries involving large trucks have been steadily rising. Fatalities were up 4 percent in 2012 and injuries were up 18 percent.

In a press release, the Teamsters Union said that 20 years, and two congressional mandates later, inexperienced truck drivers are still hit the road with no behind-the wheel training. Truck drivers can obtain a nationwide commercial driver’s license through their home state. That generally only requires a written test and brief drive around a closed area, similar to the process of getting a regular driver’s license.

The Teamsters release stated that the annual cost to society from large truck crashes is estimated to be more than $99 billion. Approximately 4,000 people die and nearly 100,000 more are injured annually in truck crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In a statement, Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said, “Proper training is absolutely necessary for new drivers to operate their rigs safely. The agency is shirking its responsibility by not issuing this long-overdue rule.”

It’s imperative that truck drivers receive the proper training, including time behind the wheel, before they can safely take to the road. An untrained truck drive can cause a serious accident.

A crash involving a passenger car and a commercial truck often results in devastating injuries, resulting in medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights. Choose carefully. Choose Munley Law.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers warn of the dangers of speeding

speed limitSpeed played a factor in many accidents this past week, including a fatal accident in Monroe County. Four children and one adult were killed in a four-vehicle crash on Saturday on Route 115 in Effort, PA. WNEP News reported that none of the children were wearing seat belts or in booster seats at the time of the crash. All of those killed were in the same vehicle, an SUV that hit two other vehicles before flipping on its side. State troopers reported that the driver of the SUV was speeding at the time of the accident.

Teens in another SUV, in Salt Lake City, Utah, were also believed to be speeding, before their vehicle lost control, went airborne and ended up landing upside down in a river. ABC news aired video showing bystanders rushing in to the river to help the teens, eventually flipping the vehicle over to save the driver from drowning.

In Delaware, a tour bus carrying 50 people was believed to be traveling over the speed limit on an exit ramp when it overturned and slid down an embankment and flipped on its side. The crash killed 2 and injured many others. The bus did not have passenger seat belts. USA Today reported that the bus is owned by AM USA Express in New York City.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speed is involved in about one of three fatal crashes. In 2012, 10,219 lives were lost in speeding related crashes. 37% of the 15- to 20-year-old males drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012 were speeding.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that speeding has been a factor in about one-third of crash deaths since 2003. In 2012, the percentage of crash deaths involving speeding was higher on minor roads (38%) than interstates and freeways (30%) or on other major roads (27%).

A recent study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that little progress has been made in reducing speeding-related traffic deaths. The GHSA says that despite progress in nearly every other area of highway safety, speeding continues to be a leading cause of crashes.

The GHSA study found that the public’s attitude about speeding is enormously conflicted. They found a large disconnect between the significant majority of people who condemn speeding and the majority of drivers who admit to the behavior, making it a serious challenge to create a safety-conscious environment in which speed limits are respected and obeyed.

The NHTSA’s National Survey of Speeding Attitude and Behavior survey of drivers found that nearly half of those surveyed said speeding is a problem, but that they try to get where they are going as fast as they can.

Following posted speed limits can help you avoid an accident and save lives. Speed limits are specifically designed for each roadway to prevent risks. Driving at safe speeds during bad weather will also help you avoid an accident.

Here are some tips from the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law to help you follow the speed limit:
• Check your speedometer regularly.
• Avoid distractions and pay attention to the road and your speed at all times.
• Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
• Set your cruise control to the posted speed limit and change it as the speed limit changes.
• Adjust your speed to changing weather conditions.

If you have been injured in a car, truck or bus accident, the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help. For a free consultation, call the professionals at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.

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.