Trinity Industries’ Guardrail Failure

On June 9, 2015, Trinity Industries was assessed more than $138 million in penalties and a Texas federal judge trippled a $175 million False Claims Act verdict against the company. Trinity Industries had previously been found guilty of knowingly selling defective guardrails to the U.S. government back in October of 2014.

This recent final judgment was delivered by U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, which also included a $199 million awarded to whistleblower, Joshua Harman, in conjunction with the $663.4 million. Harman was awarded $218 million, which included 30 percent commission along with more than $2.3 million in expenses, $15 million in attorneys’ fees, and $177,830 in taxable costs. The amount awarded was based on the fact that the U.S. did not participate in the trial and left the defense solely to the whistleblower.

According to Harman, the guardrail device’s original design, which had previously been approved by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2000, was changed sometime between 2002 and 2005, unbeknownst FHWA.

Harman has stated that the new changes that caused the device to fold over into crashing vehicles were deliberately hidden from the FHWA. In 2005, the FHWA partially approved the device, however, it is unclear whether the current version or the originally approved version was used for testing.

If you have recently been involved in an accident involving faulty guardrails, or have any information regarding Trinity Industries’s case, please contact Caputo and Mariotti today.


The Impact of Defective Tires

When you have new tires put on your vehicle, they need to be safe and not adding potential risk when you and your family are driving. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the tires are your car may have a defect that you’re unaware of, which is why it is extremely important to monitor and check your tires regularly.

Even checking your tires may not reveal an unseen problem which could cause serious harm or injury to you and your loved ones. Some of the issues that can occur include defects that cause blowouts or retreads long before you would normally think it’s time for your tires to be replaced. Any defects can greatly shorten the lifespan of a seemingly normal tire, putting you and your family at risk.

Defects can have an extremely negative impact, one of the most common being car crashes. Defects that cause car crashes are compounded when the weather is bad and you’re at a time when you’re relying on your tires the most. . Air, sunlight, and heat can cause the rubber the tires are made of to break down, and in tires that are defective, this breakdown process can happen faster than you would normally expect.

Defective tires can also cause serious injuries or death to the vehicle occupants, particularly in accidents that involve the rollover of your vehicle. If there is a defect discovered in a tire by the manufacturer, the manufacturer must inform the public of the defect and the potential risk associated with it. It is the consumer’s right to know, and failure to follow through with offering the information to the public is a serious offense.

If you’ve been involved in accident that you believe has occurred due to a faulty tire on your vehicle, contact Caputo and Mariotti today to find out more about your options.


Accidents Involving Heavy Trucking

Cases involving accidents with interstate trucking are handled very differently from those involving a typical car accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCS) regulations at the heart of most, and it is very important that your representative have complete familiarity with them.

Our Truck Accident attorney have an intimate understand of the business practices, insurance coverages, and technology associated with interstate trucking, and also be able to discover electronic and written driver records.

Unfortunately, death and serious injury commonly occur as a result of tractor trailer accidents involving passenger vehicles. These cases typically require expert testimonies, as trucking companies almost always send out accident investigators to do everything they can to limit the trucking company’s liability. Because of this, your representation needs to work quickly in order to preserve evidence and to document the facts of the accident.

There are a variety of reasons that trucking accidents occur. One very common reason is simply driver negligence. Seat belt malfunctions and crushed roofs are other regular occurrences. A common example of driver negligence occurs when a driver does not secure a load properly, which can cause additional damage if an accident should occur. Any of the unsecured load can easily crash through a passenger vehicle’s window and seriously injure or kill its driver and/or passengers.

If you have recently been involved in an accident with a semi or tractor trailer, please contact Caputo and Mariotti today. We have the experience with heavy trucking you need in order to get the representation you deserve.


The Dangers of Takata Air Bags

The dangers of air bags made by Takata Corp. are evident, and U.S. Government officials are alerting drivers with warnings declaring them unsafe. According to reports, the Takata air bags violently explode and can seriously injure or kill passengers sitting in the front seat of the vehicles in which they are being utilized.

The Takata air bags have being causing a considerable amount of injuries over the last several years. Experts believe that the defect is directly linked to the bags’ inflator systems, which cause material to be projected into the vehicle, causing immediate harm to its inhabitants. This shrapnel consists of sharp and dangerous metal pieces that have been known to cause several external and internal damage to vehicle occupants.

Not only are the Takata air bags extremely dangerous, they are also overly sensitive and have regularly gone off even during the smallest fender benders. The air bags made by the Tokyo based company are considered to be a serious danger to all passengers in the vehicles in which they are installed including Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and General Motors.

If you believe you have been the victim of an accident involving faulty air bags manufactured by the Takata Corp., please reach out to Caputo and Mariotti today to review your options.


Daylight Savings Time Connected to Rise in Crashes

If you are one of the billions of people located all over the world who observe daylight savings time, recent research has demonstrated that the time change may have a significant impact on your health. People have considered whether moving clocks ahead is really beneficial for the public as a whole for many years.

There are, of course, clear benefits to moving the clock ahead. The extra daylight gives people more incentive to exercise after work if they choose to do so, and also saves on electricity, cuts back on crime, and decreases the number of traffic fatalities. However, some of the research available contradicts several of these claims. Opponents argue that there are health risks potentially associated with turning the clocks ahead, including those associated with lack of sleep and increase in heart attacks.

One of these researchers, a PhD candidate named Austin Smith, studied the national data on fatal car crashes that occurred between the years of 2002 and 2011 and made a presentation regarding his information at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. His research was to determine what really happens immediately after people reset their clocks in both the spring and the fall.

Smith compared the number of accidents that happened immediately before and after these time changes were made on each of the years mentioned as well as daylight savings changes that took place in some years but not in others.

Smith’s resulted showed that the number of accidents increased by six percent during the spring time change, but there was no increase whatsoever during the fall time change. The six percent increase affected six of the days following the actual time adjustment. For a variety of reasons, Smith believes that the increase in crashes is a direct result of drivers losing one hour of sleep and how there bodies deal with the time adjustment.

If you’ve believe you’ve been involved in an accident that may have resulted do to lack of sleep from daylight savings time, don’t hesitate to give Caputo and Mariotti a call today to arrange a free consultation.


U.S. Trial Orders Toyota Payout of $11 Million

Toyota Motor Corporation was ordered to pay almost $11 Million on February 3rd by a jury that found a fatal crash in Minnesota back in 2006 was caused by a defect in the vehicle’s accelerator. The vehicle involved in the accident was a 1996 Toyota Camry. The jury found that the vehicles driver, to be 40 percent liable for the accident and the remaining 60% of fault was placed on the Toyota Company.

During the accident, the vehicle’s breaks failed to work properly. The defect in the accelerator caused it to become stuck while the vehicle was in operation, and was the main cause of the crash. According to Toyota Motor Corporation, the driver of the vehicle was the one at fault and not the defective accelerator. The vehicle in question had not been included in the over 10 million vehicles recalled by Toyota between 2009 and 2010. The vehicles recalled during this time were experiencing unexpected and sudden acceleration problems.

If you believe you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to an accelerator defect in a Toyota vehicle or any other type of vehicle, contact Caputo and Mariotti today to arrange your free consultation.


Trinity Industries Inc. Guardrails Causing Injuries

An appeal by Trinity Industries Inc. has been denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in their effort to eliminate a lower court’s $175 million judgment in a False Claims Act suit made against the company for selling the U.S. Federal Highway Administration dangerous guardrails.

The original FCA complaint was filed in 2012, claiming that Trinity had falsely stated that its modified ET-Plus guardrail was adequately crash-tested. The first ET-Plus was created to absorb and dissipate the impact of a car by flattening the guardrail and pushing it out into a ribbon that is deflected away from the collision. This reduces the impact that passengers experience inside the vehicle.

The original design was approved by the FHWA in 2000, but statements have been made that the company changed the guardrail’s design at some point between 2002 and 2005. The issue with the new design is that it locks up, folds over and protrudes in the crashing vehicle. According to several reports, these changes were never disclosed to the FHWA. The new guardrails were also not tested according to the FHWA protocols.

The FHWA did partially approve the guardrails after a 2005 crash test, but it is not clear whether Trinity used the new ET-Plus for that particular test. This obviously further complicates the current situation.

If you believe you’ve been affected by defective guardrails in anyway, please feel free to reach out to Caputo and Mariotti today to schedule a free consultation.


Air Bags Cause 8 Million Car Recall

Of the 8 million cars recalled in the last two years, recent information shows that Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., and other major automakers have only fixed a fraction of the defective Takata Corp. air bags. According to Bloomberg News, only 6 percent of the affected vehicles recalled by nine carmakers have been repaired.

The 6 percent repair calculation by Bloombeg was based on numbers provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two of the companies that have confided that less than 6 percent of the vehicles have been repaired are Toyota and Honda, both of which have the highest number of recalls.

Although millions of car owners are affected by the recall, only a small percentage of people have actually brought their vehicles in for repair. These people are clearly at a higher risk of injury or possible death.

The defective parts inside the air bag were metal components. These components are being shot at passengers, injuring or killing motorists. The faulty air bags have caused the deaths of six individuals in the U.S. and one individual in Malaysia.

If you believe that you are the owner of a vehicle or have been involved in an accident related to a vehicle with faulty air bags, contact Caputo and Mariotti today to set up your free consultative.


$11 Million Verdict Against Continental Tire

A Florida jury has ordered Continental Tire North America Inc. to Pay nearly $11 million to a woman who was seriously injured in a 2009 car accident. It was alleged in her lawsuit that the accident was caused by a faulty tire. The Palm Beach County jury found in favor of the Plaintiff in the case. The Plaintiff spent 102 days in the hospital following a tire blowout in May 2009 that caused her vehicle to roll over three times. The jury found that a defect in the tire caused the sudden and catastrophic tire failure.


Tractor Trailer Accidents Can Be Prevented

Many cases involving Tractor trailers and large trucks are caused by such things as driver fatigue, excessive speed and inattention to road conditions.  Others causes have been the result of a companies’ improper hiring and inadequate training of drivers. Tractor trailer drivers operate extremely large vehicles that have the capability to cause a great deal of harm to others on the highways. Drivers, as well as the companies that employ them, have to follow regulations that other drivers don’t have to follow. As a result, commercial drivers receive training that the rest of the general public does not have. Therefore, commercial drivers have a greater obligation to safety than other drivers on the highways throughout the country.

Establishing fault in an accident when a truck driver runs a red light or rear-ends a vehicle that is legally stopped isn’t all that difficult in most cases. But difficult issues can be involved even in those cases. It may be necessary to find out exactly why the driver wasn’t operating the vehicle responsibly and safely. The trucking company’s conduct, when it comes to the hiring and training of drivers, can also be involved. Many trucking accidents can be avoided, saving many lives simply by having a trained commercial driver behind the wheel of 18-wheelers on the road.

If you need more information on any aspect of truck litigation, contact Caputo and Mariotti today.