February 8, 2016

VW Decides To Buy Back Rather Than Repair Some Older Models

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The public, both here in the U.S. and around the world, have been waiting for months to hear what Volkswagen intends to do to address the mounting scandal associated with the software it designed to cheat emissions tests. Engineers with the automaker have been busy testing and re-testing various approaches to solve the problem, including physical repairs and software patches. The problem is that the suggested fixes keep getting rejected by American regulators, forcing the company to continually go back to the drawing board.

As a bit of background, the current emissions scandal relates to a few different engines, including a 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel. The latest fix tested by VW engineers would cost the company more than $2,000 per car, something that does not make economic sense for some of the older, first generation 2.0 liter models. The engines in these vehicles date as far back as 2009 and the company appears to have decided that spending $2,000 per vehicle would not make sense given the age and likely diminished value of the cars.

As a result, the company intends to start the process of buying back first generation 2.0 liter diesel models. Before consumers rejoice, we should explain that the buy back will currently only apply to certified pre-owned models that are owned by dealerships. VW has taken this step because the dealers are stuck with cars they are legally prevented from selling, with a stop-sale order issued by U.S. regulators that shows no sign of being lifted. In an attempt to help out the beleaguered dealers (and save the company money on costly repairs), VW will take this group of impacted vehicles off their hands.

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February 5, 2016

New Product Liability Lawsuits Target Hoverboard Manufacturers

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Anyone who has been paying attention has likely encountered hoverboards. They were the hot new gift this holiday season and can be spotted at your neighborhood mall grocery store or even street corner. Children and adults alike are fascinated with the new gadgets, treating them more as fun toys rather than a serious alternative mode of transportation.

The problem is that the hoverboards aren't all fun and games. Thousands of YouTube videos are devoted to cataloging the ways riders can hurt themselves on the hoverboards. Videos of people flipping and falling and slipping off the devices have accumulated hundreds of thousands of views. While some of these accidents are comical, others are quite serious. People can suffer broken bones, fractures and concussions due to the sudden and violent accidents involving hoverboards.

Beyond the accidents, another even more troubling danger of the hoverboards has become apparent: fires. Reports of fires related to hoverboards are on the rise, with the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announcing that it is investigating 22 such reported incidents. The fires occur while the boards are charging and even while the boards are in use. Several have caused damage not only to the boards and riders, but also the homes where the boards were being stored.

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February 3, 2016

Wild Winter Weather In Mississippi Carries Risk of Car Crashes

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As headlines discuss the massive snowfall totals in D.C. and elsewhere on the east coast, residents of Mississippi were forced to contend with wild winter weather of their own this weekend. Though no one in Mississippi saw 2+ feet of snow, several inches of snow, ice and even tornadoes were spotted across the state.

According to the National Weather Service, at least two tornadoes were spotted in southern Mississippi. The tornadoes left miles of destruction in their wake, tearing down trees, downing power lines and damaging homes. At the other end of the state, and the other end of the weather spectrum, several inches of snowfall occurred, with Oxford and the suburbs of Memphis getting hit the hardest.

Experts say the snowfall, while nowhere near as bad as what drivers in New York or Philly are dealing with, can create serious traffic hazards. Even a light dusting of snow can cause problems, and police departments have reported an increase in accidents as the bad weather began.

So what makes winter weather so dangerous for drivers? Though snow can be problematic, the biggest problem by far is ice. Ice acts as a barrier between your tires and the road, preventing the rubber from gripping the asphalt. This lack of friction makes it very difficult to maintain control over your vehicle, increasing dramatically your risk of being involved in a serious accident.

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February 3, 2016

Impaired Mississippi Driver Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison

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Everyone's heard about the dangers of drunk driving and the harm it can cause. Though drugged driving isn't discussed as frequently, the harm that it can result in is equally serious. The reality is that intoxicated driving is dangerous, regardless of what substance you've ingested to lead to the intoxication. Intoxication leads to impairment and impairment leads to mistakes, sometimes very costly mistakes.

A good example of that occurred earlier this month when a man from Gulfport, MS was sentenced to jail after a September 2014 accident that left an innocent woman seriously injured. Back in 2014, police say they received a call from a concerned motorist about a driver who was weaving dangerously through traffic. Police were dispatched, but before they could arrive, the caller recounted in horror as the impaired driver missed a curve and crossed directly into oncoming traffic. This resulted in a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle, putting the woman in the other car in the hospital with serious head and neck injuries.

After the accident the impaired driver, Kelly Hammons, was given a blood test which showed that he had several illegal drugs in his system at the time of the crash. Among them were cocaine and methamphetamine. Hammons was charged with driving impaired by drugs and only a few weeks ago was sentenced for his crime. The judge presiding over his case sentenced Hammons to 25 years in prison given that his DUI resulted in bodily harm to another motorist.

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February 2, 2016

OSHA Cites Mississippi Company After Workers Seriously Injured

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When a person heads off to work in the morning the last thing he or she thinks is that a workplace accident will occur that results in permanent disability. You assume that your company and the supervisors empowered to watch over operations make worker safety a priority, implementing procedures to guarantee that no one suffers avoidable harm. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some companies are too lax when it comes to their employees' safety and fail to take action to prevent accidents from occurring until it's too late.

Recently, a major manufacturer in Mississippi, Corinth-based Mississippi Polymers Inc., was slapped with a fine for serious violations uncovered by an OSHA investigation. OSHA (the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration) says the company committed 11 safety violations and must now pay a $56,300 fine due to the problems that were revealed.

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December 24, 2015

Premises Liability Cases And Hazardous Conditions

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If you've been injured on another person's property, such as in a slip-and-fall case, you are likely eager to more fully understand premises liability cases and how legal responsibility is determined. Many premises liability cases occur when a person is harmed by a hazardous condition on the property. At its most general level, a hazardous condition is anything that could lead to harm to another person. To find out more about hazardous conditions and how they can impact your Mississippi premises liability case, keep reading.

Permanent hazardous condition

A permanent hazardous condition refers to some danger that has long existed or is a fundamental component of the property. Good examples include things like a loose stair or a hidden hole in someone's yard. In both cases, these issues have been around for some time and, as a result, in many premises liability cases, property owners will be found legally responsible for the injuries that result from these permanent hazardous conditions. The reason for this is that property owners with permanent hazardous conditions are seen as having been aware of the danger and having had an opportunity to fix the problem or mitigate the risk of harm. Should the property owner fail to take steps to address the hazardous condition, he or she will be liable for any harm it creates.

Temporary hazardous condition

A temporary hazardous condition is, as the name implies, a potential danger that comes and goes. An example might be a leaky roof that can make certain parts of a grocery store slick when it rains. Another example might be ice forming on a store's entryway. Neither are always present meaning owners might not always have had a chance to guard against these risks.

When it comes to temporary hazardous conditions, it is crucial to determine whether the property owner knew or should have known about the danger or whether he or she was completely unaware and unable to address the harm. Liability will result if the property owner was aware of the hazardous condition, even if the hazard only occurs temporarily. The same is true if the property owner should have known, meaning if a reasonable person would or should have discovered the hazard, then the property owner will be liable. If, on the other hand, the property owner took reasonable steps to ensure the safety of his or her property and a temporary hazard occurs leading to injury, it's possible that the owner may avoid legal liability.

If you have been injured and you have a personal injury/premises liability claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury lawyers at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.

December 21, 2015

Advice on how to avoid nursing home abuse/neglect

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It can be very difficult when a loved one ages to know how best to continue to care for him or her. Many people struggle with the choice of putting a parent or grandparent into a nursing home, fearing that they could become the victim of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, such cases do happen, with elderly victims suffering at the hands of their supposed caregivers. For tips on what you can do to educate yourself about nursing homes and advice on how to help protect your loved ones, keep reading.

First things first, the problem of nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious one. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 44 percent of nursing home residents report being abused and a staggering 95 percent say they've witnessed other residents being either abused or neglected. This kind of shameful treatment is shockingly widespread, though it should be noted, is not true across the board. There are plenty of kind and generous caregivers that sincerely want to help those they watch over. The trick is knowing what to look for (and what to look out for) when considering nursing homes.

Experts say the first thing that you should look for when visiting nursing homes is staffing levels. It is absolutely critical that a nursing home be well staffed. The vast majority of problems that can occur in a nursing home setting, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and even malnourishment occur almost uniformly because of understaffing. If there are a sufficient number of caregivers, it becomes difficult for one person to ignore or abuse a resident, as others are around and actively monitoring the welfare of the residents. When nursing homes are short staffed, it's the patients that suffer, with too many residents demanding too much time and resulting in too little care and attention on the part of employees.

Another thing to be mindful of when visiting a nursing home is the way that staff members interact with patients. Pay close attention to how the staff speaks to and handles the patients. Are they using their names? Do the staff members seem to know the patients or, given high turnover, are they strangers? The more close interaction you're able to observe, the better sense you'll have for what kind of facility the nursing home is and whether it is one you can entrust with the care of an elderly loved one.

A final piece of advice is to stay actively involved in your loved one's care. All nursing homes host meetings between residents, their family members, and caregivers assigned to the resident's team. Attend these as much as you are able. It's important that the staff understand that you are actively involved and monitoring your loved one's care and condition. Those with actively involved families are less likely to be the victims of abuse given that perpetrators understand the abuse is more likely to be uncovered.

If you have questions about a medical malpractice or nursing home matter, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys and medical malpractice attorneys at Kobs & Philley toll free at (877) 856-0330.

December 18, 2015

Holidays And House Fires

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The holidays are supposed to be happy times, full of families, food and fun. It can be especially devastating when these good times are interrupted by tragedy, such as a house fire. Though it may come as a surprise, a sizable share of fires occur during the holiday season thanks to the abundance of candles and lights. To find out more about the dangers of holiday house fires and how resulting products liability cases are handled, keep reading.

You may be surprised to learn that between 2007 and 2011, the National Fire Protection Association says that more than 10,000 fires were started thanks to candles. The fires resulted in 115 deaths, 903 injuries and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that the three leading days for candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's. Fires caused by holiday lights or Christmas trees are similarly destructive, with estimates indicating 160 fires are caused each year due to decorative lighting.

If something terrible should happen and you or a loved one becomes a victim of a holiday house fire, the first thing that will need to occur is an investigation and analysis of the fire and its likely cause. The fire marshal will usually commence a search for potential sources of the fire and, once those sources are identified, attempt to understand what may have actually sparked the blaze. If the results indicate that a defective product is to blame, at that point, a products liability case is likely to commence.

Plaintiffs should understand that a defendant, often the alleged defective manufacturer, will do what it can to muddy the waters. This process starts with the manufacturer hiring an investigator of their own whose job it is to come up with alternate theories on how and why the fire occurred. The manufacturer will do what it can to place the blame elsewhere, potentially on other products or on you, the plaintiff.

Plaintiffs need to be prepared for the sometimes hard road that can come with proving a fire was sparked by a defective product. It's often the case that in a house fire the defective product was destroyed, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact flaw that led to the trouble. In these cases, plaintiffs will need to hire experts to explain why the defective product is likely to blame, relying on other cases and circumstantial evidence to make a compelling enough claim to convince a jury.

In the end, these kinds of products liability cases can be difficult to prove and time-consuming, something plaintiffs should understand from the start. However, the horrible and expensive damage that can result from these fires and the desire to hold those who manufacture these dangerous products responsible is often incentive enough to endure the difficulty.

If you have been injured and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Madison / Jackson personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.

Source: "Products Liability Cases Arising From Holiday Fires," published at TheLegalIntelligencer.com.

December 17, 2015

Premises Liability In Mississippi

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People know a lot about certain kinds of personal injury cases just from listening to the news. Car wrecks, medical malpractice, even products liability cases are frequently discussed. A practice area not so widely known, but important nonetheless, is premises liability. To learn more about premises liability law and how it works in Mississippi, keep reading.

What is premises liability law?

Premises liability law is best viewed as a subspecies of the broader personal injury realm. The difference is that in personal injury cases, the plaintiff who suffered harm sues a defendant. In a premises liability case, the injured plaintiff sues a property owner. Premises liability cases are based on the idea that property owners have a legal duty to those who enter their property, a responsibility to keep them safe or warn them of obvious dangers. If a property owner should fail in this duty, they can be sued and held financially responsible by the injured plaintiff.

Examples

Like many other areas of the law, premises liability cases can take multiple forms, with no one case looking like another. The most common category of premises liability cases are those involving slip-and-fall claims. Tripping, slipping or falling at someone's home, in an office or in a commercial development, like a grocery store or shopping mall are all frequently cited examples of premises liability cases. Other examples of such cases are inadequate maintenance cases, swimming pool accidents, amusement park ride injuries, fires, elevator or escalator problems and many, many others. In fact, dog bite cases are even considered premises liability matters because the property owner had an unsafe condition (the dangerous dog) on their property.

How to win a premises liability case

For a plaintiff to win a premises liability case, he will first need to show that he was harmed in some way. If you've fallen or been bitten by a dog, the injuries are pretty easy to demonstrate. Next, you'll need to show that the property owner you're choosing to sue was negligent in some way. To successfully prove this, you'll need to prove to the court that he or she had a duty of care that they failed to live up to and that this failure led to your injury.

What's the duty of care owed by property owners? It depends on the particular circumstances of the case. Property owners owe a high level of care to invited guests, known a licensees or invitees, meaning friends or, in a commercial setting, customers. In this case, property owners are required to keep their premises as safe as is reasonably possible so that these guests avoid suffering harm. For trespassers, this duty is greatly diminished (except in the case of children), and property owners owe very little if any duty to watch out for the safety of these uninvited and unwanted guests.

Time limits

In Mississippi, the statute of limitations for a premises liability case is three years from the date the harm was suffered. That means that you have three years from when the incident occurred to bring a claim for damages or risk losing your ability to sue forever.

If you have been injured and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Madison / Jackson personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.

December 16, 2015

Ohio Supreme Court Hears Damage Cap Challenge

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The Ohio Supreme Court will now join those in many other states hearing challenges to existing damage award caps. The case before the state's highest court is different than most in that it concerns damages associated with sexual assault and whether they should be subject to the same cap despite the lifelong repercussions that such an assault can have on a victim.

Currently, Ohio's law says that victims in civil lawsuits are limited to receiving $250,000 in noneconomic damages. These include things like pain and suffering or emotional distress. These damages can be uncapped only if the harm is deemed catastrophic, meaning permanent physical disability. The state currently does not have a cap on economic loss, such as medical expenses or lost wages, those easy to quantify. The problem is that in truly tragic cases like those involving rape, the real loss isn't tangible; it's subjective and thus likely (in the worst cases) to run up against the arbitrary damages cap.

In this case, a 15-year-old girl was raped by a pastor at her church during a counseling session. The man has since pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery and is serving a prison term. The girl's family decided to sue the church after it was uncovered in a subsequent investigation that the church was aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct concerning the minister, but chose to continue employing him.

A jury heard the case and, after deciding the church bore some responsibility for the harm suffered by the young girl, awarded her $3.5 million in damages. However, the jury then was forced to reduce the award to $250,000, given that it was based on noneconomic damages.

The girl's lawyer is now appealing the reduction of damages, saying that though she cannot point to catastrophic physical injuries to justify exceeding the cap, the emotional harm that can accompany juvenile sexual assault is every bit as serious and deserves to be compensated. Additionally, the lawyer argues that the state's law violates the girl's constitutional rights to trial by jury and to due process by depriving the plaintiff of the right to have the verdict of the jury fully enforced.

As in Ohio, many Mississippi personal injury attorneys view the state's damage caps as unfair restraints on the will of juries. By blunting the impact that large verdicts can have against wrongdoers, the law is bad for consumer rights. If you have been injured and you have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury lawyers at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.

December 15, 2015

When can you file a Mississippi products liability claim?

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Though most people don't often think about it, the reality is we interact with hundreds if not thousands of different products each and every day. Clothing, household items, electronics, vehicles, even food, they're all products and they all come with the potential for risk. Nothing is perfect 100% of the time and when something goes wrong with a product, whether an item of food, a big machine or a prescription medication, it can cause serious harm to the unsuspecting consumers on the other end. So what do you if you've been injured by a defective or faulty product? Keep reading to find out more about Mississippi product liability cases.

What is products liability?

Products liability cases are those where a manufacturer or vendor is required to compensate consumers for harm caused by a product sold or manufactured by the company. The law says companies are required to ensure their products are as safe as is practically possible and must go even further to warn consumers of potential harms that could result from using or even misusing the product. Companies must do their part to make products as safe as possible and consumers are required to use the products in the way that a reasonable consumer would, not creating additional or unnecessary risks.

When can you sue?

Consumers can sue when they've suffered harm due to a defective product. What are some examples of these defects? There are three common situations where consumers bring product liability claims. One is when the product's design is defective. This happens when a product is inherently unsafe or dangerous and the design of the item itself is what creates the harm. Another example is a manufacturing defect. In these cases, the problem isn't with the design, but with the execution. This arises when there are problems in the various manufacturing steps leading up to the sale of the product that are either ignored or slip by the company responsible. Finally, informational defects can lead to a product liability lawsuit when improper or inaccurate labeling results in harm to a consumer. A failure on the part of the manufacturer to provide instructions for using the product safely or warnings about potential risks are both examples of informational defects.

What do you need to prove?

For a consumer in Mississippi to bring and win a products liability case, a few different things must be demonstrated to the judge or jury. First, you must show that you've been harmed in some way, whether physically, emotionally or even financially. Second, you will need to prove that the product you are now suing about is in some way defective. Third, you must convince the court that the defective product is what caused your injuries. Finally, you'll need to show that you were either using the product as it was intended to be used or, if not, that you were using it in a way that a reasonable person would have. If you can do these four things you stand a very good chance of winning a Mississippi product liability claim.

If you have been injured and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Madison / Jackson personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.

December 13, 2015

Repetitive Stress Injuries and Mississippi Workers' Compensation

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You may realize that the workers' comp system exists to provide medical support and financial reimbursement for workers injured on the job. Though this may sound relatively straightforward, there are many complexities to the process. For one thing, many people believe that injuries covered by workers comp are those that are clear and immediate. An example would be when a piece of machinery breaks and injures a worker or a worker slips and falls. The cause and effect are definite and knowable.

Though these are examples of injuries covered under the Mississippi workers' compensation system, they aren't the only ones. A major category of workers' comp claims deals with repetitive stress injuries (RSI). To find out more about RSI, keep reading.

What is RSI and what are its causes?

RSI include those things that result from repetitive motions. RSI occur when a person assumes an awkward or fixed posture for a long period of time or engages in repeated motions over and over without a break. Activities that commonly lead to the development of RSI include computer work or manufacturing, especially when one employee does one task without sufficient variation or breaks.

Why do RSI occur so frequently?

RSI occur because the human body was not designed for monotonous desk/manufacturing work. Our joints and muscles and bones need to do a variety of movements to remain healthy. Contorting ourselves into unnatural positions or engaging in the same motions over and over can cause stress that builds up over time, eventually leading to serious injuries.

RSI occur with such frequency today given the uncomfortable positions many workers find themselves in during the workday. Being hunched over a computer all day can lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, neck problems and many other issues. Engaging in constant motion on a manufacturing line can cause problems with muscles and tendons, cause joint pain and lead to lasting harm.

What should you do if you suspect that you have an RSI?

Even though you may not have suffered an injury with a clear and precise cause, the injury is just as real and just as deserving of compensation. RSI can cause serious pain for workers and should be dealt with as seriously as a sudden accident. If you believe you've suffered an RSI, reach out to a supervisor right away to ensure your workers compensation claim is filed as quickly as possible. You'll also need to meet with a doctor who can evaluate your condition and recommend treatment options or behavior modification designed to help avoid exacerbating your existing injuries. If your employer isn't taking your claim seriously or has indicated that he or she may reject the claim all together, it may be time to reach out to an experienced Mississippi workers' comp attorney who can advocate aggressively on your behalf.

If you have questions about the workers' compensation process or if you have been injured on the job and think you may need representation, please contact the Jackson workers' compensation attorneys at Kobs & Philley, PLLC at (601) 856-7800.

December 11, 2015

VW expected to save billions on recall

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Every week it seems there's another new development regarding VW and its recall trouble. Most all of these developments, whether about additional software issues or expansion of the models effected, have been bad news for the company. The latest update appears to represent a change from that pattern, good news VW, though how this could impact consumers remains to be determined.

The latest news concerns the costs of the emissions recall. Previously, experts said that the recall would cost untold billions and prove destructive to the company's bottom line. Though the total will still be in the billions, the executives can breathe a little easier as estimates are the repairs will prove less expensive than expected. In particular, an estimate was done concerning the cost of recalls in Germany. VW is said to now save close to $3 billion thanks to a very cheap hardware fix.

The new plan for fixing the 2.4 million impacted diesel vehicles in Germany calls for installing a $10 sensor in the air filter and a relatively simple software update. Analysts say the advent of the cheap sensor is responsible for saving potentially billions of dollars. Whether the same simple fix will be applied to the millions of other vehicles that could be swept up in the recall remains to be seen.

Though the cheap fix is certainly good news for VW, some consumer rights advocates say they worry that a "cheap" fix could make matters worse for consumers. After all, taking the easiest way out often involves cutting corners, exactly the kind of thing that got VW into this mess in the first place. A cheap fix that fails to properly address the issue will leave consumers with dangerously polluting cars. Additionally, a cheap fix may encourage a further drop in resale prices, something that has already hit drivers' wallets by thousands of dollars per vehicle. Rather than try and find the cheapest way out, VW should be required to take its time and address the problems that it created fully. Consumers deserve to be made whole, regardless of how that may hurt VW's bottom line.

By way of background, the issue in this case concerns VW's decision to cut corners when it comes to emissions testing. Engineers at the car company created a bit of software that was able to detect when it was being subjected to emissions testing. When the car was being tested, the software would turn on pollution controls, making the vehicle appear vastly more environmentally friendly than it is. When the car wasn't being tested these controls turned off, releasing dangerous pollutants into the air.

Continue reading "VW expected to save billions on recall" »

November 20, 2015

NHTSA Chief Reverses Course, Now Recommends Seat Belts For School Buses

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The chief administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an important press release earlier this week. The announcement was significant not only because it impacts the lives and safety of tens of millions of school children across the country, but also because it represents an about-face for the NHTSA.

Though seat belts have long been required in passenger and commercial vehicles, an exception existed for vehicles designed to carry multiple passengers, such as motor coaches and school buses. For years, the NHTSA has counted itself among those groups opposed to putting seat belts on school buses. Their argument was always that school buses are already the safest way for children to get to and from school (a fact backed up by statistics). Given the perceived safety of school buses, the logic was that it didn't make sense to invest the time and money it would take to overhaul the millions of buses already on the road. Opponents of belts on buses argued that a simple cost-benefit analysis showed that the number of lives saved was not worth the potentially great cost.

What's new?

The NHTSA has now publicly reversed course, coming out strongly in favor of installing seat belts on school buses. In fact, the NHTSA said that it believes every child in America should use a seat belt while riding to and from school, regardless of the chosen mode of transit. Though the NHTSA embraced the idea of belts on buses, it stopped short of an even more sweeping pronouncement. For one thing, the NHTSA said only that it now recommends the use of three-point seat belts on school buses, without crafting new rules to legally require them.

Why now?

So why the new stance? Experts believe two factors contributed to the change. First, the reality that rollover accidents are not uncommon in bus crashes and that the lack of a safety belt puts children at risk. Though buses are designed to offer support and restraint in the event of a normal collision, these safety features cease being effective in the event of a rollover crash. Three-point seat belts would hold children in position and increase the odds of walking away safely from such an accident.

The second reason behind the change is an interest in consistency. The chief administrator of the NHTSA said that children are told repeatedly by parents and teachers how important it is to wear seat belts all the time. The fact that school buses lack seat belts entirely undermines the safety push, sending a message to kids that belts don't have to be worn every time. By requiring belts in buses, the hope is that the word on safety remains consistent and, with increased consistency, comes increased success.

In the end, there may be costs associated with the new move as it certainly won't be cheap to outfit the millions of school buses on the road today with seat belts. That being said, every child whose life is saved from wearing a seat belt makes whatever cost incurred well worth it. After all, you can't put a price on safety, especially with such precious cargo.

Source: "Feds now recommending seat belts for school buses," by Keith Laing, published at TheHill.com.


November 18, 2015

Volkswagen Continues Throwing Money At Mounting Recall Problem


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VW recently grabbed more headlines with its latest attempt to move beyond the current emissions recall scandal. The company revealed that it would begin offering incentive packages to current VW owners in an attempt to make amends. Though the gesture is better than nothing, critics leapt on the news, pointing out how insignificant the gesture is relative to the harm suffered by VW owners.

So what is the offer exactly? VW says that the package being created for owners of impacted Volkswagen 2-liter turbo diesel vehicles will include a $500 gift card, $500 off another VW purchase and three years of roadside assistance. Yep, that's it. VW evidently believes a few gift cards is enough to compensate owners for intentionally creating and installing software on vehicles designed to cheat emissions tests. The faulty software meant that while drivers and regulators believed the "clean diesel" engine was functioning properly, it was actually spewing up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.

The incentive package is an attempt for VW to buy time, trying to appease angry VW owners who continue driving their faulty vehicles around waiting on a fix. Experts say that VW engineers are still working on repairs and have not yet found an acceptable alternative that fixes the problem while allowing the engines to pass emissions tests. The incentives are currently only offered to those who own VW vehicles. The company has said it expects to release similar incentive packages for owners of Audis caught up in the same recall.

Though some consumers may be appeased with the offer of a gift card, critics have lined up to slam the deal. Two U.S. Senators held a press conference denouncing the incentives, saying the company should go much further than it has. Specifically, the Senators argue that VW should do what's right and offer every owner a buy-back option, giving the owners the chance to hand back the keys to the defective vehicles. For those owners who want to keep their vehicles, critics say the company should offer to provide financial compensation for lost resale value and lost fuel economy, as well as any other damages suffered.

As a reminder, the following are vehicles involved in the recall:

VW Jetta TDI (2009-2015)
VW Golf TDI (2010-2015)
VW Beetle TDI (2012-2015)
VW Passat TDI (2012-2015)

Source: "Volkswagen Gives Diesel Owners $1,000 in Gift Cards Ahead of Recall," by Justin Hydge, published at Yahoo.com.