A self-driving Uber vehicle has been involved in a fatal pedestrian crash in Arizona. Attorney Reza Breakstone’s article explores liability when self-driving cars crash: https://tinyurl.com/y8qrfs69.
Ford drivers are gripping the steering wheel anxiously after the automaker’s stunning safety recall this week. 1.4 million Ford vehicles have been recalled because the bolts on the steering wheels can become loose. Ford will repair the vehicles, but not until the end of April at least.
“This recall is very upsetting,” said Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck. “Nothing is more basic to a car than a steering wheel. Automakers have a responsibility to fully test vehicles and all equipment before bringing them to market. They continue to fail drivers.”
This recall affects 2014-2018 models of the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. According to Consumer Reports, Ford’s customer-service phone number is 866-436-7332 and Lincoln’s customer service phone number is 800-521-4140.
Ford has said it will replace the steering wheel bolt and install a larger nylon patch to maintain pressure. A company spokeswoman said consumers will be notified by mail the week of April 30th.
In announcing the recall, Ford said it was aware of two car accidents related to the defective steering wheels, one involving injury. This is not the full story though. After reviewing federal records, USA Today reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 45 reports of the steering wheels becoming loose or falling off, some resulting in car crashes.
One driver said the steering wheel on his 2014 Ford Fusion became unstable and he drifted into a manhole, destroying his vehicle. Others said they had the frightening experience of having steering wheels come loose as they drove down the highway. One driver said all he did was bump the steering wheel with his knee and it came off.
Once a manufacturer determines there is a safety defect, it has 5 days to notify the NHTSA. Automakers are then responsible for recalling defective motor vehicles or equipment.
Americans may associate Toyota, General Motors and Takata with most auto recalls. Yet Ford has made its own headlines for safety defects. Last year, it recalled 1.3 million F-150 Super Duty pick-up trucks with faulty door latches last year. Consumers reported the doors were swinging open while the vehicles were in operation. It also issued smaller recalls fixing more door latches and to stop cars from overheating. The company had received 29 reports of engines overheating and catching fire in some vehicles with 1.6-liter GTDI engines.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have investigated serious car and truck crashes caused in part by defective parts. We have over 100 years combined experience representing individuals injured by car crashes, truck accidents and other traffic collisions in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Many of our car accident and other personal injury cases involve product liability claims and investigation into dangerous and defective products.
|$3 Million Settlement in Tractor-Trailer Crash
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $3 million settlement for our client, who was hit by a tractor-trailer truck owned and operated by a beverage distributor. Read more about the case and the investigation of the truck.
|$1.15 Million Settlement in Defective Fitness Equipment Injury
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $1.15 million settlement for our client who was seriously injured while using defective fitness equipment at a local gym. The trainer who was supervising our client was also negligent in a number of ways. Read more.
Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck
If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our Boston personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
As a parent, you have probably talked to your college student about the risks of drunk driving and texting while driving on many occasions. What about drowsy driving? A new study reports college students are not taking this risk as seriously – even as drowsy driving causes an estimated 300,000 traffic crashes each year in the U.S.
The study was published in the February edition of the journal Sleep Health. Researchers conducted four focus groups involving 26 undergraduate students in 2016. Students were asked about their driving behaviors and perceptions about dangerous driving.
Most of the students considered themselves safe drivers, yet they viewed drowsy driving as less risky than operating under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving. Students actually said drowsy driving was “normal” and an “unavoidable part of their lives.” They admitted to drowsy driving in the past. Whether as a driver or passenger, many had actually been in some way involved in a drowsy driving car crash or near accident. In most cases, students were driving alone in the early morning or at night.
Here is another reason for Massachusetts and other states to consider passing laws which ban handheld cell phone use by drivers. A new study reports one in four drivers who crashed was using a cell phone within the previous minute. Cambridge Mobile Telematics released the study last week to coincide with April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Our country needs a reminder this year. Motor vehicle accident deaths are on the rise, as the National Safety Council reported nearly 40,000 deaths in traffic crashes last year. In fact, the period from 2014 to 2016 saw the largest two-year increase in more than 50 years.
Meanwhile, this year has already seen hundreds of deaths across the U.S. Just last month came a horrific accident in Texas. A driver in Uvalde County, who was texting while driving his pick-up truck, crashed into a church bus, killing 13 people. Texas is one of 5 states which do not ban texting while driving.
Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was quoted as a legal expert in a Boston Herald article titled “In Driver’s Seat With Insurance” (March 31, 2017). NuTonomy, the self-driving car company now testing its hands-free technology in Boston, has taken out a $5 million insurance policy to guard against lawsuits. Earlier this month, a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a car accident in Tempe, Arizona. Police found the Uber vehicle was traveling at 38 mph, below the speed limit, when the collision occurred and was not at fault. While there were no serious injuries, the accident has raised concerns.
Attorney Breakstone was asked whether the City of Boston could be held liable if there is an accident involving NuTonomy. He said no, but read his full answer.
Attorney Reza Breakstone has written on the topic of self-driving cars and the legal questions they raise. In 2016, he co-wrote an article titled, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” for The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California.
Driving on U.S. roads became more dangerous in 2016. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase from 2015.
- This was the first year more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents since 2007.
- According to The New York Times, 2015 and 2016 saw a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.
Attorney Reza Breakstone writes about the legal ramifications of self-driving cars in an article published in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California. Attorney Breakstone co-authored the article with Attorney Paul Hoybjerg of Roseville, California. In the article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” the authors write the time has come for the self-driving car.
“The self-driving car is no longer a distant dream of an imagined future. It is here, it is now, and it is reality. There already exist automated functions that come standard on vehicles: anti-lock brakes, self-parking, cruise control, and crash avoidance cameras. Automated cars will affect more than simply your ability to tie your tie or apply your make-up on the way to work. They stand to completely change the automotive industry, insurance world, legal market, public transport and city planning, while redefining the American culture of feeling “freedom” behind the wheel.”
The article explains the current levels of automation among vehicles on the market, investments in the industry and ramifications for auto insurers and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.
“The less thrilling ramifications may be to the bottom line of auto insurers and the plaintiffs’ and defense bars in personal injury cases. Currently, auto insurance premiums account for $200 billion nationwide. The insurance industry, with decreased vehicle ownership and decreased liability issues on the part of the user, will find itself cut out of the equation. Allstate Corp. Chairman Thomas Wilson predicts that driverless cars will have “the most detrimental impact on auto insurance” and one “we don’t want to wait” to figure it out.”
About Attorney Reza Breakstone
Attorney Reza Breakstone joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate in 2015. Learn more about Reza on our website.
Fox 25 TV has reported the driver who hit and killed a Massachusetts state trooper has left the hospital. He is scheduled to appear in court and be criminally charged, but has not been formally charged yet.
David Njuguna, 30, of Webster, is expected to appear in Dudley District Court in about a month and be formally charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stay within marked lanes and speeding, State Police told the news station. He is currently out free without court bail conditions, though his driver’s license has been revoked.
Fox 25 TV asked Attorney Marc Breakstone, who has represented car accident victims in Massachusetts for 30 years, why criminal charges have not been filed already.
Walking, even in the crosswalk, is becoming more dangerous.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting a 10 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in traffic crashes across the U.S. last year. This marks the largest increase in four decades, since data was first collected.
The official tally shows an estimated 2,368 pedestrians were killed between January and June of 2015. Researchers expect annual figures to reach the 10 percent mark.
The Massachusetts State Senate is expected to consider a ban on hand-held mobile electronic devices while driving. Many feel a ban is long overdue and we agree.
“Even New Hampshire has gone hands-free. It’s time for Beacon Hill to act,” wrote the Boston Herald editorial board.
The Senate is expected to consider the ban Thursday. Under the proposed legislation, Massachusetts drivers could still talk on the phone using hands-free technology.
Drivers would receive a $100 fine for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for all subsequent violations. Drivers cited three times would receive an auto insurance surcharge.
The bill would change the law in Massachusetts for all drivers over 18. Junior operators are already banned from cell phone use behind the wheel.
According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. At any given moment of the day, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA also reported one survey found almost half of all drivers will answer an incoming call while driving. One in four drivers is willing to place a call on all, most, or some trips.
Texting While Driving Bans
In 2010, then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law which banned texting while driving. The state is in good company; today, 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. By contrast, only 14 states have banned hand-held cell phone use, including New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut. Maine and Rhode Island have banned texting while driving but hand-held cell phone bans have failed to gain enough support.