There are stringent federal regulations in the U.S. aimed to protect consumers from the defective manufacturing, design or performance of cars to avoid accidents. Despite this, defective vehicles injure and kill thousands of people every year — 30,000 deaths were reported in 2009.
According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who governs vehicle safety, recalls have been issued for more than 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires and 66 million items of vehicle equipment since 1966.
A safety recall occurs when there is a defect in the performance, construction, component or material of a motor vehicle or its equipment and this defect poses a risk once driven. Some of the defects that are considered safety-related include:
- Steering wheels that stop responding
- Fuel system causing fuel leakage
- Accelerator controls that don’t work
- Ignition controls don’t work
- Broken wheels that cause a loss of control of the vehicle
- Air bags system that deploy when not needed, or don’t deploy when needed
- Seatbacks that fail while using normally
(U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety, Title 49, Ch. 301)
Car manufacturing defects include any component of the automobile; common defects include brakes, tires, steering components, windshields, door latches and seat belts. Automotive design defects include seatbelts, roofs, tires, and fuel systems.
In personal injury cases stemming from motor vehicle accidents, Nevada law allows for the recovery of compensatory damages, which compensates a plaintiff for all loses resulting from the accident to make them whole. This includes pecuniary damages, such as lost wages, lost earning potential and medical bills, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Economic damages awards in defective product cases can be unlimited and are usually determined by a jury; non-economic damage awards are capped at $350,000. (NRS 42.005)
In addition, after compensatory damages are awarded, the law allows for punitive damages to be given when the conduct causing the accident is ruled to be a result of intentional oppression, fraud or malice. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and hold him or her up as an example of what not to do (NRS 42.005(1) In the case of a car defect or safety recall,
“After an accident, you will need to find out if the cause was a defective automobile part or design for compensatory damages, and if this defect was a result of intentional fraud or malice, which is complicated,” said attorney Glen Lerner. “We have the resources to determine if you are entitled to emotional and financial damages.”
Cars that are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) or “self-driving cars” are touted as safer and could be one of the best things for public health and safety in the next 20 years.
Alliances are being developed by carmakers and technology companies to create reliable self-driving cars and even “robotaxis” to put autonomous car technology into production as soon as possible and share the high costs of development.
Autonomous cars can sense their environment and drive without human involvement. As of the summer of 2017, any automated cars allowed to drive on public roads are not yet fully autonomous and need a human behind the wheel who can control of the car.
Traffic crash data from the Nevada Department of Public Safety reveal that traffic fatalities have been rising yearly in Nevada. Factors include: Las Vegas drivers have a reputation for not knowing where they’re going, and those who come to visit drink alcohol and gamble, which causes the city to have high insurance rates and a large number of traffic accidents.
There are many possible benefits of AI in self-driving cars including:
- Large reduction in traffic accidents; collateral injuries; and associated costs, including a lower need for insurance.
- Expected ease in traffic flow;
- Enhanced mobility for those unable to drive (such as children, the aged and disabled);
- Decreased gas consumption; and
- Reduced parking space needs.
Automated vehicles are estimated to save up to 50 minutes a day for users, who can spend driving time doing other things including reading, working and relaxing.
Additionally, the current model of insurance which is currently predicated on human error will move to a focus which insures auto manufacturers from liabilities from a technical failure of their self-driving car. This could reduce monthly insurance premiums, which would be great, as Las Vegas has one of the nation’s highest car insurance rates.
Attorney Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys noted, “While there are many benefits from AI in cars, it will be interesting to see how liability disputes are resolved and how government regulations for self-driving cars will be established.”
Glance down any busy street in Las Vegas and you will see hundreds of pedestrians. Many of those people will likely have their heads down, totally focused on the smartphone cradled in their hand, texting away, oblivious to what is going on around them.
Safety experts say texting and walking is as dangerous a problem as texting and driving is, causing fatalities and serious injuries across the country. In fact, texting and walking has become such a dangerous issue that the National Safety Council (NSC) now adds it to its safety report it releases each year.
Pedestrian accidents, as they are referred to, continue to increase each year. Not only are texting pedestrians a danger to themselves, they are also a danger to those around them. Multiple studies have confirmed this.
In one study conducted by Stony Brook University in New York, pedestrians engaged in cell phone use were 60 percent more at risk to go off their course (such as failing to stay in a crosswalk). This not only poses a danger to the pedestrian but also to others around them. For example, a distracted pedestrian walks into another person, knocking them down and causing injury.
Just as vehicle drivers have a duty of care to follow the rules of the road and watch out for others, pedestrians, too, have a duty of care to those they share roads and sidewalks with. Pedestrians are also required by law to follow traffic laws, such as obeying crossing signals and traffic lights, walking on sidewalks, and using crosswalks.
If a person is injured in a traffic accident because they were texting and walking, can they be held negligent? Depending on the circumstances of the accident, and under Nevada’s comparative negligence law, they could. Under this law, the court will determine what percentage – if any – the pedestrian was at fault. If the court finds that the victim was 51 or more percent at fault, the victim may not receive any compensation.
Texting and walking accidents and determining pedestrian negligence can be complex and requires the skill of an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. If you would like to discuss the details of your case, contact Glen Lerner today.
Last month, a three-year-old boy died after being left alone in a vehicle in Las Vegas. This same tragedy happened ten other times across the country in July, with young victims, ranging in ages from seven weeks to three years old, accidentally being left in hot vehicles and dying of heat stroke. There are approximately 37 children who die this way each year, however, there has already been 29 children killed in 2017 after being accidentally left in vehicles. What is the law if you see a child who is trapped in a vehicle and when can you break into a car to save a child?
The summer heat in Nevada can be brutal, with triple digit temperatures. These high temperatures can result in the internal temperature of a locked-up vehicle reaching as much as 170 degrees. A person can only withstand temperatures of up to 103 degrees; at 104 the body will begin to shut down, and death will occur at 107 degrees. Under the law in Nevada, a child who is seven years of age or younger cannot be left alone in a vehicle. Tragically, most of these incidents occur because a caregiver forgot the child was in the vehicle and leaves the child in their car seat, exits, and locks the vehicle up.
Under Nevada’s Good Samaritan law, if you see a child in distress and break into the vehicle to help, you are protected from prosecution for “breaking into” the vehicle. There are steps you should take if you do discover a child locked in a vehicle. The first thing is to call 911 to report the incident. Provide all details to the operator. If the child is alert, then staying with the vehicle until emergency responders arrive should be okay, unless the operator instructs you to do otherwise.
However, if the child is in distress, tell the operator and then take steps to break into the vehicle to remove the child. It is best to break a window that is away from the child. You also want to break the window close to the door lock in order to make it easier to unlock the vehicle. Despite what type of heavy object you use to break the window, it will likely be difficult and take several attempts. Once you have gained access to the vehicle, quickly remove the child from the hot vehicle and into a shaded area until help arrives.
Driving safety advocates recommend that when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, we always drive defensively. It is especially important to remember that when we are driving in rush hour traffic. Not only do commuters in Las Vegas have to deal with typical Monday through Friday, morning and afternoon rush hour traffic, but even the weekends can be exasperating, particularly during the height of tourist season. So what kind of rush hour safety tips will help decrease your risk of being involved in a vehicle accident?
The first thing that can help make that rush hour commute a little easier is figuring out the best time to leave. Sometimes leaving a little before or a little after the time you would normally do can make all the difference. One recommendation is to begin your regular route at different times over the course of a few weeks and see if there is any time where the traffic congestion is not as heavy. Keep in mind, however, that no matter what time you choose to leave, make sure you are allowing yourself extra time to get to your destination.
Another suggestion safety advocates recommend is seeing if there is another, less congested route you can take. You may be surprised to find that another route that mileage-wise between your home and destination will actually take less time than driving through a shorter, but more traffic-filled route.
If you are driving through rush hour traffic, try to remain as patient as possible. Frustration will not get you to your destination any faster, but could instead distract you to potential dangers in the road in front of you, such as vehicles in front of your suddenly stopping. Also avoid lane jumping. Although at the moment the vehicles in the lane next to you may be creeping along, it is a pretty good bet that within minutes, they will be at a standstill and your lane will be moving.
If you or a family member have sustained injuries in a crash caused by another driver, contact a Las Vegas car accident attorney to find out what type of damages you may be entitled to for your injuries.