Published on:

ThinkstockPhotos-599896574-SmallA large auto recall is currently underway with General Motors (GM). More than 800,000 trucks are affected across the United States and Canada, including certain 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks. The issue with this recall concerns power steering. These models have been found to suddenly lose power steering with no warning whatsoever to the driver. This is highly dangerous because a sudden loss of power steering could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the loss of power steering can occur when the vehicle is using certain levels of electrical power. This can be triggered when a vehicle is making a turn at low speed, among other actions. When such power steering problems occur, the driver could lose control of the steering wheel. While the power steering could ultimately return within as little as one second, the short period of time without it could result in a car accident if the driver does lose control of the vehicle. This is what has federal auto regulators worried and prompted the recall.

Per NHTSA guidelines, GM is required to notify all vehicle owners affected by this recall. To see if your vehicle is included, you can visit the NHTSA’s website. Some owners of these vehicles are no stranger to recalls, as these trucks were subject to a 2016 recall involving 3.64 million cars with airbag software problems.

Published on:

Crime-Scene-SmallRecent news reports have been littered with tragic and heartbreaking stories about criminal activity at places of business and apartment complexes. Crime in Memphis is up 10% this year. Sometimes, the victims were intentionally targeted through acts such as burglary, robbery, homicide, or sexual assault, to name a few. Other times, however, innocent bystanders were the ones who suffered harm while the perpetrator was committing the criminal act.

If this happens to you or a loved one, clearly the perpetrator will bear responsibility for the harm you suffer. However, the analysis does not end there. It may be that the property owner or manager also bears responsibility for what happened. For example, was the property located in a high-crime area? Was management aware of threats made? Was criminal activity on the premises foreseeable?

NST attorney Glenn Vines recently went on WREG Channel 3 Memphis to answer these questions and more. The interview can be found here. Topics discussed included inadequate security and the duties that property owners owe to customers and tenants in Tennessee. Many inadequate or negligent security cases arise in apartment complexes, shopping malls, and convenient stores, and the results are normally catastrophic. Injuries suffered can range from broken bones to paralysis to wrongful death.

Published on:

A California man, 35 years old, was awarded $9.8 million by a jury following a product liability trial concerning claims of a defective wheelchair designed and manufactured by Sunrise Medical LLC and later sold and repaired by National Seating and Mobility, Inc. The product at issue was the Quickie Q7 manual wheelchair. In 2014, the victim suffered a puncture wound from an inward-facing bolt on the chair. One month later, he suffered further injury to that area when a screw came loose and he was ejected from the wheelchair. He suffered a nerve injury that doctors advised may never resolve.

The victim sued for defective design, manufacture, failure to warn, and defective repairs. At issue during the 15-day trial was a design change made to the wheelchair back in 2013. The wheelchair manufacturer had received complaints that certain bolts on the wheelchair were backing out. Thus, the product was redesigned in a way that placed those bolts facing inwards. The victim was injured through one of those inward-facing bolts. The trial included proof and testimony from expert witnesses who claimed the bolts were not strong enough to support the average user, making the product unsafe and dangerous. The jury deliberated for two days, and the $9.8 verdict was broken down as follows:

  • $4.8 million in economic damages for a life care plan for the victim
Published on:

Did you know that you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi while injured on the job, even if you are found to be at fault for speeding during an automobile accident? In a June 2016 decision (affirmed in July 2017) from the Mississippi Court of Appeals, a police officer for the City of Jackson was injured while speeding and on his way to an emergency call. His employer, the City, alleged that he was acting with a “willful intent to injure” himself, and based on this intent, that he should not be permitted to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The case is City of Jackson v. Kearney Brown, No. 2016-WC-01164-COA.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals disagreed with the employer, stating that in the 10-0 decision mentioned above, that the police officer was entitled to benefits, regardless of his disputed fault. Workers’ compensation laws in the State of Mississippi cover injured workers who receive injuries by way of an accident arising out of the course and scope of their employment. However, workers’ compensation benefits will not be paid to an injured worker if they were injured by their willful intent. This test for willfulness is based on intent and whether the facts of the claim support a willful intent to injure oneself.

The attorneys for the employer above tried to argue that the police officer intentionally injured himself, which meant he should not be paid benefits owed to him pursuant to Mississippi law. The facts presented by the employee showed that he was injured by an accident, and therefore, he was entitled to his benefits.

Published on:

Driver fatigue is a widespread issue across the country. Research shows that drivers who are fatigued tend to exhibit many of the same side effects as drunk drivers – delayed reaction times, impaired judgment, and lapses in concentration, just to name a few. What has recently come to light is a troubling trend – Uber drivers working dangerously long shifts. According to USA Today, an Uber driver in Utah drove for 20 consecutive hours on at least one occasion last year to take advantage of a sudden spike in the hourly rate he could earn. Situations like this are occurring across the country. Uber drivers in the Seattle area are reported to work in excess of 16 consecutive hours.

As of this time, Uber does not cap the number of consecutive hours that its drivers can work. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits passenger-carrying vehicles to 10 hours of driving following 8 consecutive hours off duty, Uber vehicles do not fall under the definition of passenger-carrying vehicles. Thus, drivers would not be subject to federal hours-of-service guidelines. Lyft, on the other hand, has been reported to shut down its app after a driver has been logged on for 14 hours and will not let that user log back on until 6 hours after that.

According to Uber, only 7% of drivers work in excess of 50 hours per week. Further, Uber claims that it recognizes the dangers of drowsy driving, investigates instances of driver misconduct, and takes appropriate action when necessary.

Published on:

In the early hours of July 1, 2017, dozens of people were injured in a Little Rock, Arkansas, nightclub shooting. The shooting occurred in the middle of a concert at Power Ultra Lounge. In total, 28 people suffered injuries, with 25 of those people suffering injuries from gunshot wounds. One witness advised the shooting occurred during the middle of the performance, with more than 50 shots being fired. The Little Rock Police Department began investigating immediately following the shooting, and local police will receive assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well.

Government officials in Arkansas say this shooting is indicative of higher crime levels in Little Rock than in recent years. Between January and July 2017, for example, there have been 29 homicides in Little Rock. However, there were only 15 homicides during the same period of time in 2016. Violent crime in the area is also up more than 20% so far this year.

When a shooting, robbery, or other criminal act takes place at a private place of business, most immediately think of the criminal investigation that will take place and leave it at that. They think of yellow crime scene tape and officers flooding the scene to secure the premises and begin taking witness statements. The police will investigate and the perpetrator will then be charged and prosecuted in criminal court. However, in Arkansas, the analysis does not end there for victims of criminal attacks that were injured during the course and commission of a crime, including innocent bystanders.

Published on:

ThinkstockPhotos-525489094-MediumThe time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the “100 deadliest days of summer” around the Knoxville area. When the school year ends, more teenagers are out on the road during summer, either enjoying their time off or driving to and from summer jobs. In fact, AAA estimates that fatal teen accidents increase by 15% during the summer months. Leading causes of those wrecks are speeding, distracted driving, and not using seatbelts.

Teen driving is not just an issue in Knox County. Nationwide, motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death for teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data shows that on average, approximately 6 teens between the ages of 16-19 are killed each day as a result of a car accident.  Further, teens in that age range are nearly 3 times as likely to be involved in a fatal wreck than drivers who are 20 years old or older.

When discussing a link between teenage driving and car accidents, the CDC lists eight “danger zones.” They include the following:

Published on:

Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are often stereotyped as a lot of things: entitled, sensitive, idealistic. Some people even blame a number of society’s problems squarely on millennials. While many of these perceptions are generally untrue, one fact is concerning: millennial drivers display riskier and more erratic driving behavior than other demographics.

A study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) presented evidence that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 display far more risky driving behavior than adults and senior citizens. The study found that roughly 88% of the 2,511 licensed drivers surveyed displayed at least one risky driving behavior in the last month. Risky driving behavior, as defined by the AAA, included speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and using a cell phone. Millennials acknowledged texting while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers, and nearly half of the individuals surveyed reported running a red light, even if they could have stopped the vehicle safely.

Not surprisingly, the study fits with findings of a 7% increase in accident fatalities from 2015 to 2016. This increase follows a tragic trend in the frequency of traffic-related fatalities, which legislators throughout the country, at the federal, state, and local levels, are keenly aware of. Many states rely on marketing campaigns to increase awareness of ways to prevent fatal car accidents. For example, entities like the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Mississippi Department of Transportation routinely publish car wreck statistics on their websites to ensure citizens are informed about motor vehicle-related dangers.

Published on:

A 37-year-old man who fell while walking down stairs at his apartment complex received a jury verdict of $12 million. The incident occurred in 2012. One morning, he reached the bottom of a staircase when it collapsed, causing him to fall down and injure his ankle. Initially, he thought he just had a sprained ankle so he went to work.

However, as time went on, he started to feel more pain and was eventually diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This condition affects the nervous system and causes consistent pain, stiffness, swelling, and muscle spasms, among others. He ended up receiving extensive physical therapy and over 100 nerve block injections to treat his agonizing pain.

He sued the owner and manager of Legacy Corner Apartments, where the accident took place. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants did not properly maintain their premises by allowing the staircase to deteriorate. At trial, the defendants disputed liability and damages. They did not take responsibility for the fall. Further, they contested the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. Before trial, the defendants offered $1.25 million, which was rejected. At trial, the jury awarded $12 million – $6 million in actual damages and $6 million in punitive damages.

Published on:

Self-serve taprooms are on the brink of revolutionizing the bar industry by adding the same elements that make self-serve frozen yogurt places so wildly popular. For example, Pour Taproom is a chain of bars that sell a wide variety of craft beer, but with a slight twist: customers pour their own drinks. Customers can pour as much, or as little, as they like and pay by the ounce. Naturally, when Pour Taproom attempted to obtain a beer license for its newest establishment in Knoxville, it raised some red flags.

The Knoxville City Council has voiced legitimate safety concerns over the bar’s method of serving customers. The self-serve policy seems to be ripe with potential Tennessee dram shop lawsuits, which is one reason why the Knoxville City Council raised the possibility of an ordinance that would effectively ban self-serve bars. Knoxville Beer Board chair, Brenda Palmer, explained that the new ordinance would only permit service of beer from the permit holder, the permit holder’s employees, or agents of the permit holder.

Board members and concerned citizens are worried that self-serve bars’ new style of service could be dangerous. With semi-unregulated drinking and with the option to pour more beer than would traditionally be served, there is the definite possibility of an influx of serving alcohol to people who are too intoxicated.