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San Antonio injury lawyers support Congress in its efforts to take dangerous cars off our roads more quickly. Congress is considering legislation that would help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) quickly order recalls if it finds an imminent hazard of death or serious bodily injury. Currently, if an automaker contests the need for a safety recall, NHTSA must hold public hearings and develop a case, which can take months and cost lives.

Also being considered for the legislation are requirements that autos be equipped with brake overrides, black boxes and added penalties if car companies fail to promptly report safety defects.

Texas personal injury lawyers have known for a long time that corporations are driven to maximize profits; therefore, they can and often will make a calculated decision to not repair or to deny a defect if the penalties for nondisclosure are less than the cost of repair. Personal injury damages can be delayed or avoided by denying defects. It is often years before the defect is uncovered and many of the injured will be denied compensation because of individual state laws regarding the statute of limitations.

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Personal injuries in Texas caused by product defects occur too often. San Antonio personal injury lawyers with experience in product defect cases have kept all of us safer by holding manufacturers accountable. Product liability lawsuits have become an increasingly important means of keeping consumers safe.

Case in Point: the current Toyota Motor Corp. recalls highlight a corporation’s attempts to deny, hide, and obfuscate the seriousness of the product defects. It has now become apparent that numerous car models over a number of years had issues with sudden acceleration and the car owner complaints were either minimized or explained away. Some news agencies have reported that there were over 2600 complaints of sudden acceleration in a 10 year period and that approximately 5 years ago Toyota started to attribute the problem to its software and not the floor mats. Manufacturers cannot be relied upon to assure our safety and the regulatory agencies have clearly shown that they cannot stay abreast of all the serious defects in the marketplace.

Regulation is crucial to maintaining some base level of safety for products placed into the stream of commerce; however, Federal and State Regulators do not have the resources, staff or expertise to monitor all of the various products sold in the United States. Regulation of corporations has never been enough and the laissez-faire policies of the Bush Administration only further weakened regulatory agencies by cutting their budgets and staff. As we have written about previously, agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) , the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are all overwhelmed by their workload and budget constraints.

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San Antonio auto accidents are routinely caused by drunk drivers and occasionally caused by the driver’s abuse of prescription medication. Driving an automobile while under the influence of prescription medication is illegal and is considered a DWI with the same penalties as driving while under the influence of alcohol. When a serious motor-vehicle accident is caused by someone’s alcohol intoxication our San Antonio car accident lawyers routinely investigate to determine whether it is possible to bring a dram-shop case against the establishment that served the alcohol.

In cases where a driver under the influence of prescription medication causes an accident there is an emerging theory of liability that will need to be pursued by a San Antonio injury lawyer. In cases where the over medicated driver causes a serious accident it may be possible to hold the pharmacy or pharmacies liable for providing the drugs to someone who is clearly abusing the medication.

Texas is among the 35 States that collect information about narcotic drugs and track drug prescriptions. The availability of patient information will increase as Texas and other States move towards electronic records. As a result many parties including pharmacies are considering what are their legal obligations and duties when filling prescriptions for potentially drug abusing patients.

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A San Antonio bar employee was sentenced to prison on October 12, 2009 for his drunk driving accident that killed a motorcyclist. The drunk driver was an employee of the bar where he had been drinking. The drunk driver fled the accident scene but was captured a short time later. Court records show that a blood draw taken two hours later indicated that his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, or over .16.

The family of the deceased should investigate a possible civil suit for damages against the bar that overserved the drunk driver. The civil suit would be based upon the dram shop laws that allow an injured person or his family to bring a lawsuit against an establishment that overserved a customer alcohol. Experts in the field of alcohol intoxication have testified numerous times for this firm that everyone is obviously intoxicated at a .16 alcohol level. At a .16 alcohol level, which is double the legal limit, no one can hide their intoxication. Therefore, it is illegal and actionable to serve someone when they are at or above a .16 alcohol level.

Bringing a lawsuit against the bar or other establishment for over serving a drunk customer serves two purposes, it compensates the injured victim and their family and it sends a message to bars and restaurants that over-serving alcohol will not be tolerated in San Antonio.

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On Texas Highway 46 near Blanco Road, north of San Antonio, an accident occurred in which a 29 year old woman was injured and her 71 year old passenger was killed. It appears from published reports that an 18-wheeler lost control and jackknifed on a curve.

When an accident involves a commercial vehicle, especially 18-wheelers, it often results in catastrophic injuries. The size and weight of the vehicles increase the harm they cause and also increase the amount of vigilance required by their drivers.

Whenever a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler is involved in a serious accident it is necessary to do a thorough and timely investigation. As an experienced trucking accident law firm we have hired some of the best accident reconstruction experts in the Country to recreate how an accident happened and how it could have been avoided. When an 18-wheeler loses control and jackknifes it is necessary to look at a number of potential causes: was the driver going to fast for the conditions; was the driver’s inattentive because of logging too many hours; was the tractor- trailer’s maintenance up to date; were the tires unsafe; was the trailer properly lit and marked to be visible when in a jackknifed position; and finally what actions did the truck driver take when the rig jackknifed.

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In the recent debate over medical insurance reform an often trumpeted statement is that legal malpractice cases are driving up the cost of health insurance coverage. To support this view Texans for Lawsuit Reform cite the statistic that medical-liability-insurance rates have gone down by an average of 21% after Texas imposed various legal changes to medical liability laws.

The greatest change to Texas law was placing a cap of $250,000.00 for non-economic damages. Valid claims of medical neglect, no matter how blatant or careless the doctor, nurse or hospital staff may be, are all capped under the law. Although allegedly aimed at preventing frivolous claims, this Texas law actually places a cap against EVERY claim against a health care provider. Instead of punishing those that might try to bring a frivolous case, the law actually victimizes those with valid claims – by limiting the lawful recovery for serious and permanent injuries, victims of malpractice are also victims of this Texas law.

However, while this cap on damages may have allowed doctors and hospitals to increase their income by reducing expenses, it has done nothing to reduce the average Texan’s health insurance bill. Whether you live in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley or anywhere else in Texas your health insurance rates have risen at the same rate as everyone else in the United States. The difference is in Texas if you are seriously injured by the carelessness of a physician or hospital staff you may not be able to find a lawyer that can pursue the doctor’s insurance company if you do not have large economic damages. Therefore, the elderly, unemployed, and the very young often cannot pursue a medical malpractice case even though they may have been seriously injured by a physician’s negligence.

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As an update to the previous entry on all-terrain vehicles (ATV) from November 6, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA) recently released its final order on ATV safety.

Three-wheel ATVs are still under investigation and until final product safety guidelines are enacted, these models cannot be manufactured in, or imported into, the United States.

Beginning in April, 2009, all four-wheel ATVs must comply with the new product safety regulations set out in the November 14, 2008 CPSC Final Rule issued by the Commission. Injuries from these all-terrain vehicles (ATV) can be life-threatening and permanent, if not fatal.

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In a 2008 Texas Supreme Court Opinion the Court ruled that property damage or personal injury caused by large parts detached or separated from a motor vehicle are no longer covered by a persons uninsured motorist coverage. The style of the case is Nationwide Insurance Company vs. Elchehimi (“Nationwide Insurance Case”).

In the Nationwide Insurance Case a station wagon collided with a drive axle and attached tandem wheels that had separated from an eighteen-wheel semi-trailer truck. The unidentified truck, which was being driven in the opposite direction across the divided highway, did not stop. Momentum carried the axle-wheel assembly across the dividing median where it struck the station wagon, injuring the occupants and damaging the car. Ordinarily, your uninsured motorist coverage protects you when a “hit and run” driver damages your vehicle and/or injures you or your occupants. Essentially, the person driving the other vehicle didn’t stop, and therefore the other driver is considered uninsured since you have no way of identifying them or their insurance company.

Nonetheless, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Nationwide Insurance Company did not have to pay an uninsured motorist claim because the axle-wheel assembly which separated from an unidentified semi-trailer does not constitute a “motor vehicle,” and therefore, does not fall within the terms of the policy and the Texas Insurance Code. The Court explained that: (1) motor vehicles are self-propelled (2) the collision was not a legally recognized substitute for the statute’s actual physical contact requirement (3) adopting an integral part test (in other words, if an integral part of the vehicle separates and hits someone) would be unmanageable.