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

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

November 13, 2015

VW Recall Could Be Most Expensive Ever


The troubles for Volkswagen appear to be compounding every day. The company continues to issue press releases adding more and more vehicles to the recall list, just this week including several Porsche models sold in Europe. The company's former reputation as a brand known for producing fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles was tarnished if not destroyed after it was revealed that the company used a software trick to cheat emissions tests. Experts in the auto industry say that VW will pay a high cost for its deception, with some estimating that the recall will qualify as the most expensive ever.

The first component of the recall cost will be the expenses associated with repairing millions of vehicles worldwide. It is difficult to understand what this might cost as the list of impacted automobiles continues to expand, but industry experts believe the total will run into the billions. Already, VW has told shareholders that it has put aside $8 billion to cover expenses, though many believe this will be a drop in the overall bucket.

Next up are the fines from environmental regulatory agencies, both in the U.S. and around the world. Estimates are that the EPA could fine VW as much as $37,500 for each impacted vehicle sold in the United States. Globally, the total cost could rise to $34 billion.

Another area where VW is expected to spend billions is in civil class action lawsuits, with consumers bringing claims for financial compensation. One aspect of such lawsuits involves the loss of resale value suffered by the hundreds of thousands of VW owners. Customers paid more for a VW diesel vehicle, a car long known for having "clean diesel" engines, and this additional value has since been lost after it was revealed the "clean" engines weren't so clean after all. Experts believe VW owners will incur lost resale value as high as $5,000 per vehicle. Compensating for this loss in resale value could cost VW several billion more dollars.

Beyond the direct costs to VW and to consumers, other companies will suffer serious losses thanks to VW's deceptive actions. Suppliers and other companies that provide parts and service to VW are likely to face steep cuts in orders as vehicle sales plunge, adding billions more in indirect costs. What is increasingly clear is that VW's actions have created ripples that are spreading out across the automotive industry, meaning many millions of people will suffer because of the deception perpetrated by a few.

If you have a vehicle that is subject to the recall, please call Kobs & Philley for a free consultation. We have experience in pursuing claims such as that subject recall as we have been active in the BP litigation as well as other Mass Tort claims. Please let our friendly staff of attorneys help with your claim.

Source: "The VW scandal could cost car owners $5,000," by Rocky Newman, published at

November 11, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions About VW's Recall


As the headlines continue to blare new details of the Volkswagen emissions recall, it can be confusing if you're a VW owner to know what to make of all the details. VW owners likely have a million questions running through their heads: What exactly happened? How are you impacted? What does the recall mean for you? What do you do next? To get some answers and learn more about the VW emissions recall, keep reading.

First, what models are included in the potential recall?

Globally, experts believe as many as 11 million vehicles have been sold with the deceptive emissions control system. In the U.S., that number totals just under 500,000. The cars were sold since 2008 and come with a 2.0-liter diesel engine. The impacted models are:

VW Jetta - 2009-2015
VW Beetle - 2012-2015
VW Golf - 2010-2015
VW Passat - 2012-2015
Audi A3 - 2010-2015

What's the problem?

The issue in this case involves certain emissions testing requirements and how the VW engines were able to detect whether they were being tested in artificial conditions or were instead driving down an actual road. When being tested, a sophisticated software algorithm would lower the emission of a dangerous pollutant, nitrogen oxides, to legally acceptable levels. However, once the vehicle believed the testing was complete and the vehicle was driving, these nitrogen oxide levels would spike dramatically, up to 40 times the levels detected under testing conditions.

Are the cars safe to drive?

Yes. There is no indication the deceptive emissions software has impacted the safety of the vehicles. Regulators are currently saying that all impacted VW models are safe and legal to drive. As a result, unlike some recent automotive recalls where safety was a concern, no immediate action needs to be taken by drivers.

What happens next?

For now, consumers need to wait to be notified that their vehicle is affected. VW is working on preparing a software fix that will correct the problem they created. Most people believe the software fix will relatively quickly resolve the issue with newer model cars. However, it may take time to address the problem in older model VWs as they have different diesel systems. The good news is that the recall and repair will be performed at absolutely no cost to owners.

Once the repair is finished, you will then need to assess what if any damage you suffered as a result of the company's deception, including loss of resale value. If you have a vehicle that is subject to the recall, please call Kobs & Philley for a free consultation. We have experience in pursuing claims such as that subject recall as we have been active in the BP litigation as well as other Mass Tort claims. Please let our friendly staff of attorneys help with your claim.

Source: "Guide to the Volkswagen Emissions Recall," published at

November 5, 2015

What Does "No-Fault" Mean In The Context Of A Mississippi's Workers' Compensation Case?

It can be scary to suffer a workplace accident in Mississippi. Not only are you suffering and trying to recover, but you also likely don't know where to turn for information or advice. Adding to the stress and confusion is the fact that you may have missed or are continuing to miss work, losing money that you need to support yourself and your family. In an attempt to demystify the workers' comp system, let's discuss one particularly confusing aspect of the Mississippi workers' compensation process: the no-fault basis.

What does "no-fault" mean?

The Mississippi Workers' compensation system was put in place by the state legislature back in 1948 and has always existed on a no-fault basis. So what does this mean? In Mississippi, as in many other states, it does not matter whether the employee is responsible or partially responsible for causing the harm he or she suffered. A workers' comp claim can be made regardless of whether the worker is to blame for his or her injury.

So is everything covered under Mississippi's workers' comp system? The law is clear that any injury, whether it's minor or extremely severe, is covered so long as it arises out of the course and scope of employment. Illnesses or disease that result from workplace harm are also covered, as is accidental death, all without regard to the employee's fault.

What's the reason behind the no-fault system?

The no-fault system was put in place for several reasons. First, it benefits employees, by allowing them to receive back pay and medical coverage regardless of who was responsible for the harm. This assists workers getting back on their feet quickly after an accident. Second, the no-fault basis is helpful in that it streamlines the process dramatically. Rather than wasting weeks or months fighting about why the accident happened and who was to blame, benefits can be dispensed quickly, saving the employer, employee and insurance companies time and money.


There are only two exceptions to the no-fault rule in Mississippi. The first is when an employee's intoxication is responsible for causing his or her injury. Mississippi law is clear that no compensation will be paid to any employee if the use of either illegal or prescription medications taken against doctor's orders is found to be the proximate cause of the injury. The law shifts the burden of proof to the employee in the event that drugs or alcohol are found in the employee's system at the time of the accident. It then is up to the employee to prove that the intoxication was not a factor in the accident.

The second exception is if an employee willfully intended to harm him or herself or another person. Thankfully, the presumption is in favor of the employee in this case, and the employer would need to firmly establish that the injured employee truly intended to cause the harm.

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November 4, 2015

Speeding Driver Crashes Into Hinds County, MS School Bus


It's a terrifying thing to realize that a normal day can turn dangerous in the blink of an eye, but that's exactly what happened earlier this month to one unsuspecting school bus driver in Hinds County, MS. In a truly scary illustration of how risky speeding can be, authorities say a fast-moving white sedan crashed into a school bus head-on, resulting in injuries to three people.

According to school officials, the accident happened a little before 8:30 a.m. just outside Central Hinds Academy. Thankfully, no students were on the bus at the time, just the driver and a bus monitor. As the school bus was preparing to go around a corner she noticed an oncoming vehicle in her lane. The car, a white sedan, was traveling at a very high rate of speed and nothing could be done to avoid the crash. Instead, the bus driver had to simply brace of impact.

One witness reported seeing the driver of the white car pass by moments before the crash, estimating that the vehicle was traveling more than 90 miles per hour at the time. Given the speed and the curvy road, an accident was all but inevitable.

The impact of the accident was so loud that the principal of nearby Central Hinds Academy heard the news and came running, eager to do what he could to help. The white sedan had caught on fire and quick thinking led the first responders to put it out with the fire extinguishers from the school bus. The driver of the white car was flown to a nearby hospital for medical treatment after emergency responders realized he had suffered serious injuries. The driver and monitor of the school bus were also taken to the hospital, but with thankfully less critical injuries.

The accident serves as a good reminder of the danger that comes from driving faster than road conditions allow. Speed limits exist for a reason, with engineers working out how fast a car can safely travel on a stretch of road. Going 90 miles per hour on even the best of road conditions is dangerous; doing so on a curvy road is begging for trouble. Stopping is nearly impossible and losing control of your vehicle becomes likely. In fact, experts say that a car traveling at 90 miles per hour requires 603 feet of total distance before coming to a complete stop, or nearly two football fields.

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October 28, 2015



There will be many children out trick-or-treating and attending various fall activities. Here are some safety tips you can follow this Halloween to have a safe and fun night.

Make sure all costumes are safe and fit properly. They should not be too tight or too big. If you have on a mask, you want to make sure you can see out of the mask properly to prevent you from falling or tripping. You should not use any sharp or extra large props with your costumes. If you are applying any type of product to your skin, you should always try it on a small area before applying to entire area. You want to do this to prevent the possibility of any type of irritation or allergic reaction.

You should also always go trick-or-treating with friends or family. You should never go trick-or-treating alone. Take any and all precautions when walking in the streets at nighttime. To make sure all drivers can see you, put various reflectors on your costumes or trick-or-treating bags. You can also use a flashlight while trick-or-treating so that you can see where you are going. Illumination is key! With heavy rain in the forecast, it is even more important to remain visible and trick-or-treat in well lit areas. Always remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Try to use crosswalks or sidewalks at any time you can. If there are no crosswalks or sidewalks then walk as far toward the edge of the road as you can, facing the traffic to stay safe. You should not enter homes and never ride with strangers.

At the end of the night you should always check your candy before consumption to look for any signs that the candy has been damaged. You should only eat candy that is made and wrapped properly. You should never eat any homemade treats from strangers. Make sure not to eat too much candy while you are trick-or-treating.

If having a party, you should offer your party guest healthy snacks including fruits and vegetables. You can also keep children active by playing various party games. Make sure all areas are well lit if doing activities at night time. If you are using flames or candles to light an area, make sure they are kept out of the reach of children. You should always stay away from any flames that are being used for decorations.

We at Kobs & Philley, PLLC hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween.

October 27, 2015

Volkswagen Recall


Many diesel cars will begin to be recalled in January of 2016 by Volkswagen. The Volkswagen brands included in this recall are VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT. The initial recall will be on the Volkswagen diesel cars in Germany. The Company has not set a date for repair on vehicles in the U.S. There are as many as 11 million cars worldwide that will have to be recalled.

Volkswagen admitted fault after they were caught cheating on diesel emission tests in the U.S. earlier this year. The affected cars have software that makes their engines produce more toxic emissions on the road than during the official testing. New reports show that once on the road the cars are pumping out close to 40 times the legal level of nitrogen oxide.

Volkswagen is currently trying to develop a fix for these vehicles. The fixes will included changes to the software and hardware depending on the vehicle. As a result of this cheating on the emissions test, Volkswagen had to return two awards they received for Green Car of the Year for two of their diesel cars that are now at the center of the scandal. These two vehicles are the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta and the 2010 Audi TDI.

So far Volkswagen has recalled 2.4 million in Germany and they have ordered to recall close to 500,000 from the U.S. Volkswagen has not yet issued the date the new software will be available in the U.S.

The Volkswagen headquarters in Germany has been searched by authorities to try to find out who is responsible for the cheating on the emissions tests. So far Volkswagen has set aside close to 7 billion to settle issues and claims coming from the scandal. It is being speculated that Volkswagen could face a total cost of $87 billion. This is more than two times the cost of the Deepwater Horizon Spill to BP. Volkswagen does not agree with this estimate. Only time can tell what the true cost will be.

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April 21, 2014

Young Driver Airlifted Following Mississippi Car Crash

Post #2 image. 2014-04-02.jpgAccident investigators with the Mississippi Highway Patrol say they are in the process of investigating a terrible accident in Kosciusko, MS that happened earlier this week and left the drivers of two cars seriously injured.

Police say that they first received a call about the Attala County accident a little before 9 p.m. Monday night. Emergency responders were then dispatched to Highway 35 South where the wreck occurred. Once there, officials say they discovered a pickup truck lying on its side just off the roadway, while a passenger vehicle was seriously damaged on the shoulder of the road.

Continue reading "Young Driver Airlifted Following Mississippi Car Crash" »

April 16, 2014

Drunk Driving Leads To Deadly Weekend Accident

Post #1 image. 2014-04-02.jpgThis past week a judge in Jackson, MS ordered a woman held in jail on $150,000 bond after she was charged in connection to a deadly weekend car accident that left one person dead and another seriously injured.

Officials with the Jackson Police Department say they were called to the accident scene located at the intersection of Highway 18 and TV Road a little after 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Police officers say that 33-year-old Tiffini Martin was found driving a Ford F-150 that had slammed into a Toyota Forerunner carrying four passengers.

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April 14, 2014

Failure To Yield Leads To Three-Vehicle Accident

Post #7 image. 2014-02-25.jpgIn an unusual multi-vehicle crash, 54 kids were involved in a crash earlier this month in Amite County, Mississippi. Police officials say the wreck happened around 3:30 p.m. after school had let out for the day.

A packed school bus was heading down Mississippi 24 near Plymouth Church Road when it came to a stop to yield to oncoming traffic. A 2008 Dodge pickup truck was heading east along the highway when another Dodge truck tried to cross the highway, failing to yield. The eastbound Dodge then collided into the other truck, pushing both vehicles into the left side of the stopped school bus.

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April 10, 2014

Texting While Driving Remains Serious Problem In Mississippi

Post #8 image. 2014-02-25.jpgIt sometimes seems like no matter how many times people hear the stories of how dangerous texting while driving can be, there are some who will continue their behavior unabated. The incredibly dangerous and irresponsible behavior leads to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year, each one preventable. Sadly, Mississippi legislators have not done enough to stiffen penalties for distracted driving, something that may be encouraging the problem for those drivers in the state.

According to the federal government, more than 3,300 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2012. Add to that number the more than 400,000 people who suffered injuries in distracted driving crashes and you've got an epidemic that needs serious attention.

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April 7, 2014

BP Handed Serious Defeat By Fifth Circuit

Post #2 image. 2014-03-26.jpgIn an important victory for plaintiffs across the Gulf Coast, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals delivered a serious blow to BP last month when the court rejected BP's attempt to block settlement payments to large numbers of victims.

Specifically, BP had tried to prevent businesses from claiming a share of settlement funds unless they could clearly trace their losses back to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Fifth Circuit chose to reject BP's argument that the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, had misinterpreted the terms of the carefully agreed upon settlement.

The defeat was a surprise to BP's lawyers who have engaged in an aggressive campaign to cast victims of the oil spill as undeserving thieves. BP has taken out newspaper ads, run commercials on TV and generally gone after companies that it felt did not deserve a share of settlement funds. BP argued that businesses across the Gulf Coast were filing false claims and receiving compensation despite the fact that their losses had no connection to the oil spill.

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April 3, 2014

GM Recall Highlights Hidden Danger To Drivers

Post #1 image. 2014-03-26.jpgIn a tragic case that has managed to grab newspaper headlines for weeks, GM's recent recall which now appears to be headed for an increasingly litigious end. That's because GM revealed earlier this week that it had hired Kenneth Feinberg, a famous defense attorney who has worked on major disaster payment cases previously.

In fact, Feinberg recently worked on establishing the victims' fund for those who were harmed by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Feinberg has been brought on as GM says it is considering its options, including possibly establishing a fund to pay victims of its faulty ignition switch that is responsible for the millions of recalled vehicles.

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April 3, 2014

Oil Carrying Trains Pose Serious Risks

Post #6 image. 2014-02-25.jpgLate last month a train operated by the Canadian National Railway Company derailed and began leaking hazardous materials in southeastern Mississippi. The derailment forced the evacuation of residents and businesses located nearby.

Officials with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency say that no one was injured in the incident. However, 21 tanker cars derailed with eight of the cars suffering ruptures that led to their contents being spilled. Hazardous materials, including fertilizer and methanol, leaked out and emergency officials attempted to contain the damage.

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