April 2010 Archives

April 13, 2010

Toyota's Lexus SUV a Potential Rollover Risk

Florida residents and consumers across the country have been advised not to purchase the Lexus GX 460 SUV until issues with the vehicle's electronic stability control are resolved. This latest warning comes from Consumer Reports after labeling the car a "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" as a result of on-track safety testing. According to ConsumerReports.org, the Lexus SUV is a rollover risk because the electronic stability control fails to engage quickly enough to prevent the back wheels from sliding and causes the vehicle to go sideways.

The test conducted by Consumer Reports simulated a driver taking a curve at high-speed and then attempting to slow down by releasing the accelerator through the turn. Although most cars with electronic stability control compensate for such a situation by cutting engine power and braking individual wheels, the Lexus stability control took too long to engage and correct such driving pattern and allowed the wheels to slide out from under the vehicle. Consumer Reports conceded that neither of the two Lexus SUVs tested actually rolled over during testing, but the poor performance of the vehicle makes the back wheels more likely to come into contact with a curb or leave the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn.

Vehicles that fail to properly prevent rollover accidents because of defective safety equipment should be of great concern to Florida drivers since this state sees more than its fair share of rollover accidents every year. According to the 2008 Traffic Crash Statistic Report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 348 fatal crashes, 8,748 injury crashes, and 1,729 vehicle/property damage crashes involved an overturned vehicle during the reporting year.

Toyota responded to the concerns over its luxury brand's SUV by agreeing to conduct similar testing to identify the problem. Toyota said that similar testing was conducted on the Lexus GX 460 during development and that the vehicle had met all federal testing requirements. This latest safety concern adds to the growing list of Toyota complaints that began with defective pedals and uncontrollable acceleration of many of their models.

Consumer Reports is advising people not to purchase the Lexus GX 460 until a solution is made available potentially through a software update. Owners of the Lexus SUV were instructed to exercise caution when on highway exit ramps and winding roads, to be alert for road hazards, and to always obey the speed limit.

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April 7, 2010

New Florida Slip and Fall Bill and What It Means for Injury Victims

A recent bill that passed through to the Florida Senate would make it more challenging for victims to win against businesses in slip and fall cases. Currently in Florida, the slip and fall law is plaintiff-friendly. Ever since 2001 in the Owens v. Publix case, the presence of a liquid or unsafe substance on a floor showed that the owner of the establishment did not keep the premises safe for customers. This made it easier for a person suing to get a case in front of a jury and obtain payment from an insurance company. If the new bill becomes a law, the burden would be on slip and fall victims to show that the defendant had knowledge of the unsafe condition.

The new bill, which advanced to the Senate in March of 2010, is supported by many, including Rep. Gary Aubuchon, who believe slip and fall costs in Florida have gone up since the 2001 Owens case. Opponents of the bill say it does not ensure that businesses will keep evidence such as surveillance video and incident reports in slip and fall cases. Rep. Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood criticized the bill, saying it "is not good public policy."

Under the new proposed law, a person claiming injury would have to prove that a business knew or should have known a hazardous material was on the floor and should have corrected the situation. The bill gives two ways to prove knowledge: the length of time the substance was present or a regular reoccurrence of the condition. An attorney experienced in conducting thorough investigations of accident locations and similar prior accidents at those locations can help slip and fall victims overcome this higher burden.

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April 2, 2010

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Led to Man's Death on Boat, According to Lawsuit

A family boating trip that resulted in carbon monoxide exposure and the death of an Arizona man has led to a lawsuit. The family of Glen Howeth, who died as a result of a heart attack after he and his family were exposed to carbon monoxide, is suing the companies they believe to be negligent in this tragic incident.

Glen Howeth and his family rented a boat on Lake Powell, Utah in June 2008. According to the wrongful death lawsuit, as the family slept, they were breathing in dangerous carbon monoxide fumes due to a generator located on the boat. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide detectors did not alert the passengers. While the family was sleeping, Howeth woke up because he heard his grandson throwing up in the room they shared. Howeth made an effort to wake up the rest of the family and call for help.

According to the lawsuit, Howeth died of a heart attack as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Howell was helping his family and calling for help when he passed away. Howeth's relatives had symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that included headaches and loss of consciousness, and they were taken to a hospital via helicopter.

One of the companies that Howeth's family is suing for negligence is Aramark Corp, the boat rental company. The companies being sued claim no responsibility in this case. For more information on this story, click here.

Earlier this year a man in Florida died as a result of carbon monoxide exposure on his boat. He was using a generator inside the boat's cabin, which gave off dangerous fumes. Experts warn against using gas-powered equipment, such as generators, indoors because it will lead to carbon monoxide exposure.

Carbon monoxide claims more than 400 lives each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here for tips on what you can do to help protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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