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ARCHIVES: December 2015

NHTSA Fines BMW $40 Million for Multiple Violations Related to Vehicle Safety Issues

BMW North America has recently been issued a multi-million civil penalty for multiple violations related to vehicle safety issues, officials at the NHTSA recently explained.

NHTSA Fines BMW $40 Million for Multiple Violations Related to Vehicle Safety Issues

This penalty totals $40 million and is part of a larger Consent Order, which will require BMW “to take a series of steps to remedy the practices and procedures that led to these violations,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has explained.

While $10 million of this penalty will be due in cash immediately, BMW is also required to pay another $10 million to take the steps towards remedies and compliance. If BMW fails to meet any of the terms of the Consent Order, the remaining $20 million will be due to authorities.

BMW’s Violations: What Led to the Consent Order

The violations that led to the civil penalty against BMW are related to the 2014 and 2015 Mini 2 Door Hardtop Cooper vehicles. According to NHTSA officials:

  • In October 2014, these Mini Coopers failed a crash test necessary “to determine whether the vehicle[s] met crash-protection minimums.”
  • BWM told regulators that the failure was due to “an incorrect weight” rating and that the vehicles would pass if with the proper weight rating. At this time, BMW also agreed to recall the Tire Info Placards (that listed the incorrect weight ratings) and to carry out a “voluntary service campaign” to “add additional side-impact protection” to these vehicles.
  • In July 2015, officials retested the Mini Coopers and found that they still failed this testing. At this time, officials also discovered that BMW had not conducted the recall or voluntary service campaign.

Commenting on this action against BMW, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has stated:

The requirement to launch recalls and inform consumers in a timely fashion when a safety defect or noncompliance is discovered is fundamental to our system for protecting the traveling public. This is a must-do… For the second time in three years, BMW has been penalized for failing to meet that obligation. The company must take this opportunity to reform its procedures and its culture to put safety where it belongs: at the top of its priority list.

Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured by vehicle equipment defects or failures – or if you have been hurt in a traffic crash, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, DOT Warns Drivers before New Year’s Eve

In the final days of 2015, transportation safety regulators are urging drivers to make safe choices, reminding them to not get behind the wheel if they have been drinking. This national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over anti-drunk driving campaign is part of an annual holiday tradition for regulators, as each year more than 10,000 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. support this crackdown.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, DOT Warns Drivers before New Year’s Eve

And this is because the month of December – especially during the last week that includes Christmas and New Year’s Eve – is notorious for impaired driving crashes.

In fact, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have pointed out that just over 8 percent of all fatal impaired driving collisions that occur each year in the U.S. take place during the month of December.

Elaborating on this campaign, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has explained that:

We hope the millions of Americans who will be on the road over the holidays will make the safe choice not to drink and drive… Across the country, local law enforcement officers will be on the roads, protecting all of us from the risk of drunk driving.

Impaired Driving Crashes: A Look at Some of the Latest Statistics & Data

While we have explained some of the general dangers associated with drinking and driving (here), taking a look at some of the latest statistics from the NHTSA, presented below, can underscore just how common – and deadly – impaired driving is in the U.S.:

  • In 2014, drunk driving crashes killed at least 9,960 people in the U.S. This constituted about 30 percent of all traffic-related deaths that occurred in the U.S. last year.
  • While this marked a 1.1 percent drop in drunk driving-related fatalities (when compared to the data from 2013), it still represented about one drunk driving death every 57 minutes (or so) in the U.S.
  • In all of the fatal drunk driving crashes that occurred last year, nearly 70 percent involved at least one driver with a BAC of at least 0.15. Note that, at BACs of 0.08, the risk of a crash is four times greater than it is for sober drivers. At BACs of 0.15, this crash risk exponentially increases, generally quadrupling.
  • Fatal drunk driving crashes are about four times more likely to occur at nighttime.

Columbia SC Personal Injury Attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

Following a drunk driving crash or any type of traffic collision, contact a Columbia SC personal injury attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

How to Give Gifts that Won’t Harm Your Loved Ones: 4 Holiday Giving Tips from the CPSC

Christmas is right around the corner. While some people will be hitting the roads to get to their Christmas celebrations, others may be rushing to the stores to buy gifts.

Holiday Giving Tips from the CPSC

If you are among these shoppers and you’ll be looking for gifts for children, the following safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can help you choose a fun gift that your little loved ones can enjoy (rather than a dangerous item that could potentially harm them):

  1. Get a gift intended for the age of the child – This might sound obvious, but it can go overlooked and end up putting little ones (who don’t understand certain risks) in danger. So, look for manufacturer’s instructions regarding appropriate ages for that toy or item – and follow them.
  2. Get safety equipment with sporting goods – In other words, get a helmet and safety pads with items like bicycles, skateboards and roller skates. For other sporting equipment (like a surfboard, for example), you may want to go the extra mile and get one or two lessons so the little recipient gets some professional guidance on how to use the equipment safely.
  3. Inspect and assemble toys before giving them to children – Inspecting toys can alert you to any damage, defects or other possible dangers that could harm children. Also, assembling toys, including adding batteries and charging toys for children, can also help reduce the risk that toys may harm them.
  4. Steer clear of certain gifts for children under 5 – These specifically include gifts with magnets, balloons and/or small parts.

Post-Holiday Safety Tips: How to Wrap It Up Safely

  • Don’t forget about your tree after Christmas. As long as your tree is up, continue to nourish it with water to prevent it from drying out. Dry trees can be fire hazards. In fact, each year in the U.S., at least 200 Christmas trees cause home fires, and more than 1 in 3 of these fires takes place in Janurary.1
  • Don’t burn your Christmas tree or wrapping paper in a fireplace. These items can be highly combustible, causing flames to shoot out of fire places.
  • When taking down lights outside, check the weather first, and get an extra pair of hands to help if possible. Also, remember to practice ladder safety (e.g., keeping 2 hands and 1 foot or 1 hand and 2 feet in contact with the ladder at all times, placing the ladder firmly on flat ground, etc.).

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been hurt by a defective, dangerous or toxic product, contact a Columbia SC personal injury attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

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1: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

E-Logs Now Mandatory for Tracking Truckers’ On-Duty Time, FMCSA Announces

Commercial truck and bus drivers operating vehicles on U.S. roads will have to be logging their driving time with electronic logging devices (ELDs) within two years, according to a new Final Rule recently adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

E-Logs Now Mandatory for Tracking Truckers’ On-Duty Time, FMCSA Announces

This rule, which is expected to impact about 3 million American truckers and commercial bus drivers, is intended to promote compliance with federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules. These are aimed at curbing driver fatigue by limiting the number of hours commercial motorists can drive, with the intention of preventing driver fatigue-related truck accidents.

Expressing support for this new trucking regulation, FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling commented that:

This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways… Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.

Details of the ELD Requirement & Projected Impacts

While truckers and bus drivers who use paper logs will have to switch to an electronic logging device by 2017, the Final Rule also:

  • Provides specifications for what constitutes an acceptable ELD – These guidelines are intended for both ELD manufacturers, as well as trucking companies and self-employed truckers who need to get these devices.
  • Banning the harassment of commercial truck and bus drivers due to the “information generated by ELDs”
  • Detailing a new HOS documentation system, which will cut back on paperwork and limit (if not eliminate) the requirement to keep supporting documentation regarding drivers’ on-duty driving time.

According to the FMCSA, this ELD Final Rule is expected to “save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.” Additionally, officials anticipate that this Rule will dramatically cut down in “the amount of required industry paperwork,” resulting “in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion.”

The complete Final Rule is available here.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a truck crash – or in any type of motor vehicle accident, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward. Since 1993, our lawyers have been committed to protecting the rights of injured people and helping them succeed in their financial recovery.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

Fiat Chrysler’s Failures to Report Safety Data to NHTSA Lead to $70M Civil Penalty

A $105 million civil penalty issued to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Fiat) this past July has just been increased by $70 million, according to officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA). That is because, as officials have explained, Fiat’s failures to properly carry out 24 vehicle safety recalls have been compounded by new findings that, since 2003, the auto manufacturer has also failed to report vehicle safety, crash and injury data to federal regulators.

Fiat Chrysler’s Failures to Report Safety Data to NHTSA Lead to $70M Civil Penalty

And now Fiat will have to pay at least $140 million in fines in cash. The remaining $35 million will be due if Fiat fails to comply with any of the terms of its July Consent Order, as well as the recent amendment to that Order (which was imposed earlier this month).

Background on Fiat’s Violations

Federal investigations into Fiat’s violations of the TREAD Act of 2000 have revealed that the automaker mishandled about two dozen safety recalls this year alone while significantly underreporting crash data (and other safety data) to federal regulators for at least the past decade.

Some of the ways that Fiat is alleged to have botched these recalls include by:

  • Failing to notify federal transportation officials about vehicle safety issues in a timely manner (The law requires automakers notify officials of safety issues within five days of discovering them.);
  • Failing to accurately report safety issues to federal regulators when notifications were finally made; and
  • Inadequately administering recall remedies.

These failures have impacted the owners of more than 11 million vehicles in the U.S., officials have pointed out.

The Next Steps for Fiat…

At this point, Fiat has to pay the civil penalties and abide by all of the terms of the federal Consent Order (and its amendment), only some of which require Fiat to:

  • Swiftly repair the vehicles identified to have safety defects
  • Purchase some defective vehicles back from owners
  • Hire an independent, third-party consultant to investigate the scope of the violations and monitor the company moving forward to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

Remarking on the penalties imposed on Fiat, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated:

Accurate, early-warning reporting is a legal requirement, and it’s also part of a manufacturer’s obligation to protect the safety of the traveling public…We need [Fiat] and other automakers to move toward a stronger, more proactive safety culture, and when they fall short, we will continue to exercise our enforcement authority to set them on the right path.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a crash caused by defective vehicle equipment – or any form of negligence, contact a Columbia SC personal injury attorney at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.

What Are the Dangers of Drinking & Driving?

Dangers of drunk drivingThe holiday season can be a fun, festive time. It can also be a time when drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident, as impaired driving is far more likely to occur between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s (when compared to any other time of the year).

So, if you will be drinking alcohol as part of your holiday celebrations – or if you will be driving and possibly sharing the road with impaired motorists, here’s what you should know about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Why Alcohol & Driving Doesn’t Mix

When drivers who have been consuming alcohol get behind the wheel of a car, they will likely experience difficulties with or impairments to their:

  • Abilities to see and hear – Alcohol impairment can prevent drivers from being able to distinguish where sounds are coming from and what different sounds may be. It can also result in a lack of peripheral vision and blurry vision. This combination of perception problems can mean that drunk drivers are not able to accurately assess the objects in their driving environment (like traffic lights, other vehicles, pedestrians, etc.).
  • Coordination – Alcohol impairment can also prevent drivers from being able to isolate certain physical movements and coordinate multiple, simultaneous movements. Consequently, this can end up meaning that drunk drivers have problems maintaining their course while looking in mirrors, checking blind spots, etc.
  • Understanding of what is happening around them – Even if impaired drivers are able to recognize the items in their driving environment, being intoxicated may prevent them from being able to connect the dots, interpret what these visual cues mean and then take the appropriate action.
  • Reaction times – While impaired drivers can take longer to figure out what is happening around them, they can also have far slower reaction times if or when they do end making the right assessment. In fact, these reaction times can be delayed by about 20 seconds, which can be just enough time for a crash to happen.

So, if you will be driving this holiday season:

  • Don’t get behind the wheel if you have been drinking – even if you have only had a few drinks.
  • Be a defensive driver.
  • Report other motorists who may be impaired to local authorities.

Contact a Columbia SC Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident or any type of traffic crash, contact a Columbia SC personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock

Don’t Fall for Christmas Decorations: 4 Christmas Decorating Safety Tips from the CPSC

Each year in the U.S., at least 12,000 Americans seek emergency medical attention after falling or getting hurt while decorating for Christmas. This is according to officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) who have also pointed out that, during an average holiday season in the U.S.:

Christmas Decorating Safety Tips from the CPSC

  • About 250 people are injured every day in holiday decorating accidents and mishaps.
  • More than 1 in every 3 emergency room visits related to holiday decorating accidents involves a falling injury.
  • In the worst cases, these falls can result in serious bone fractures and/or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Other common injuries for which people seek emergency care (as a result of holiday decorating accidents) include lacerations and back strains.

How to Avoid a Falling Accident While Decorating for the Holidays

To avoid hurting yourself as you decorate for the holidays, here are some tips from the CPSC:

  1. Know your physical limitations before getting started – Do you have back problems, balancing issues or other physical limitations that could increase your risk of a falling accident? Or are you taking medications that could cause vision or balancing issues? If so, you may want to keep your decorating limited to the regions you can reach from the floor/standing position and get help for putting up decorations in higher places (like on roofs, the tops of tall trees, etc.).
  2. For outside decorating, check the weather first – If you have big plans to hang up lights and other festive decorations outside, make sure you check the weather conditions before getting started. This can help you avoid icy, wet and slick conditions that could increase your risk of a slip and fall off of the roof.
  3. Familiarize yourself with ladder safety practices – If you will be climbing up a ladder to put up any of your holiday decorations, make sure that, first, you are using a safe/stable ladder and that, second, you are prepared to practice proper ladder safety. This includes (but is not limited to) keeping three points of contact with the ladder at all times and never scaling a ladder that is not resting flatly on the ground.
  4. Get some help – If you want to take the lead in decorating for Christmas, try to get at least one other person to help you, as an extra pair of hands and eyes can go a long way to staying safe. Alternatively, if you can afford it, consider leaving more elaborate (or risky) decorating to professionals.

Contact the Columbia SC Injury Attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured on a dangerous property, by defective equipment or by any form of negligence, contact the Columbia SC injury attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

11% of South Carolina Drivers Are Uninsured

More than 1 in 10 motorists in South Carolina is uninsured, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While this is a bit below the national average (of nearly 14 percent of drivers being uninsured), it is still a troubling statistic.

11% of South Carolina Drivers Are Uninsured

And what may be more distressing are the facts that:

  • Far more motorists in South Carolina may be underinsured.
  • When uninsured or underinsured motorists cause traffic accidents, crash victims can be left with serious injuries, a pile of bills and limited options for financial recovery.

Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Coverage Can Be Key to Future Financial Recoveries

South Carolina laws require all drivers to carry UM coverage, but they do not have any requirements when it comes to UIM coverage.

While this may make it tempting to forego UIM coverage (to try to save money), it’s important for motorists to understand that this type of coverage can provide some important protections in the future if an underinsured driver hits them and the resulting damages won’t be covered by the negligent motorist’s existing policy/insurance provider.

Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) Coverage: More Important Info

  • UM/UIM coverage can be used following hit-and-runs – Many drivers are unaware of this, but the fact is that damage claims can be filed under UM/UIM policies after hit-and-runs happen (and when the negligent drivers cannot be tracked down). This can be another important reason to have this coverage.
  • UM/UIM coverage can have loopholes that benefit insurers – Despite the protections that UM/UIM coverage can offer, these policies can be written to contain some loopholes, and knowing what these loopholes are can be important to understanding when you are (or aren’t) covered. For instance, UM/UIM policies may allow insurers to only pay the remainder of what another insurer doesn’t pay (rather than paying the full value of the policy).
  • Just because you have UM/UIM coverage doesn’t mean insurers will honor your policy – Another important issue to be aware of with these policies (or any auto insurance policy, for that matter) is that insurance companies may not always be forthcoming about honoring claims following crashes. In fact, insurers can (and commonly do) try to find ways to reduce claims or deny them entirely. So, the real takeaway here is that insurers are not necessarily on drivers’ sides after crashes happen and it’s time to file claims.
  • Pursuing recoveries via UM/UIM claims will work out best with the help of a lawyer – And this is the good news victims need to be aware of, as they can count on a lawyer to help them stand up to insurers, protect their claims to compensation and help them succeed in their financial recoveries.

Contact the Columbia SC Injury Attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Attorneys at Law

If you have been injured in a traffic accident, contact the Columbia SC injury attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward

Call our firm at (800) 531-9780 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.

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