March 2009 Archives

March 18, 2009

YAMAHA RHINO ROLLOVER PROGRAM FOR UTV

 
Yamaha Motor Corp. announced that it has agreed to stop selling Rhinos model numbers 450, 660, and 700 until repairs can be made. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has advised all consumers of these UTV's to immediately stop using  them until safety repairs could be made. The Rhino has been alleged to be extremely unstable and lacks features which would help protect the occupants in crashes.
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The CPSC has investigated 50 incidents so far, 46 involved deaths with two-thirds involving rollovers at low speeds on level terrain. There are also hundreds of severe injury cases.

The repairs include installation of a spacer on the rear wheels, removal of the rear anti-sway bar, and installation of half doors and passenger handholds to keep passengers arms and legs inside the vehicle during a rollover.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your rollover case with us. We are committed to hiring the best experts in the country to help win your case. These cases are vigorously contested by the maker of these vehicles. Call a MS accident lawyer today to discuss your legal rights. Don't wait until it is too late.

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March 17, 2009

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT ALLOWS PUNITIVE DAMAGE AWARD

 
The United States Supreme Court allowed an $80 million dollar punitive damages award alone to be upheld in essence requiring Phillip Morris to pay the award. The case involved a deceased smoker and was awarded to his widow. The litigation lasted ten years and started in 1999 when a jury in Oregon held that Philip Morris was liable for misleading her husband that cigarettes were not harmful, nor addictive. The $80 million award doubled to $150 million because of all the appeals and delays of Philip Morris.
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Just how foolish are these juries? We've all heard about the woman awarded "millions" just for spilling coffee on herself. But how many people know the actual facts of the case: That McDonald's brewed its coffee about 20 degrees hotter than anyone else,despite the risk of spilling as customers fumbled with their cups while in the drive through lane? That this scalding coffee could cause third degree burns in just a few seconds? That several hundred other customers had suffered burn injuries before this one? How many people know that the 81 year old woman suffered third degree burns requiring skin grafts? How many people know that the attorneys for McDonald's refused a request to settle just for the payment of her medical bills?  Did you know that the judge reduced the award more than 80% from $2.9 million to $480,000? I'm sure you read the front page article regarding the $2.8 million award, but how many of you read the newspaper( if anyone reported it) when the judge cut it back to $480,000? Most people do not know the whole story. So the moral of this story is don't make any opinions on any case UNLESS you know all of the facts. Just like in this tobacco case.

The case was appealed to the Court on two previous occasions where it was returned to the Oregon Supreme Court who left the verdict stand. The decision to leave the award alone by the Supreme Court, indirectly states that in some cases such an award is justified. Of course, if Philip Morris had paid the award back in 1999, then Philip Morris would not owe any additional money,i.e., the extra $70 million that was incurred in interest over the ten year period, but they chose not to.

Punitive damages are awarded to discourage companies from reprehensible conduct. Reprehensibility is the most important factor in judging the reasonableness of a punitive award. The Oregon Court expressed outrage at Philip Morris's conduct. This is the third time that the United States Supreme Court has passed on deciding that the award was too high which should send a message to big business.

As a footnote, under Oregon law, 60% of the money must go to the state. Philip Morris is refusing to pay the money to the state. Go figure. Sounds like someone may have another claim for punitive damages. When will they ever learn? 

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March 16, 2009

Picayune, MS Mother Injured In Accident

 
Gail Morris of Long Beach, MS and her two year old son were taken to a local hospital in Hattiesburg for treatment of injuries when their vehicle was hit head-on by Alaric Aucoin of New Orleans, Louisiana who was driving a Chevrolet Z71 without headlights on. The case is being investigated for possible alcohol involvement of the at fault driver.
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WHO CAN SUE WHOM AND WHY: The mother and son have a claim against the driver of the Z71 for hitting her head-on and causing serious personal injuries to them; If the at fault driver were driving drunk, then the victims may also have a claim against the bar for selling alcohol to an intoxicated customer. The husband of the mother may also have a claim for loss of consortium as a result of injuries to his wife. If you know of someone who was injured or killed where alcohol was involved, you should talk with a MS accident lawyer to discuss your rights.

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March 15, 2009

MISSISSIPIAN KILLED IN ARKANSAS WRECK

 
A forty-six year old Kenneth Shirley from MS was killed in an auto accident when a pick-up truck crossed over the centerline and hit Shirley's vehicle head-on on I-55. Two other passengers in the pickup truck were also killed: Kenneth Jones of Oscelola and Mikosa Butler of West Memphis.
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WHO CAN SUE WHOM AND WHY: The driver of the van, Mr. Shirley, has a claim against the driver of the pick-up truck; the passengers in the pick-up truck also have a claim against their driver; anyone who does not collect enough damages, may have a claim against their own insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits. Sometimes these kind of cases can get complicated, so you should talk with a MS accident lawyer to determine if you have a case and how much money you can expect to recover and why.


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March 14, 2009

Two Teens Killed By 18 Wheeler In Ashland, MS

 

Two teenagers were killed when their vehicle pulled out of a parking lot in front of an 18 wheeler. Neither teen had their seat belt on when the accident occured. Both teens were ejected from their vehicle and were pronounced dead at the scene. The accident happened at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 72. The deceased were 17 and 15 years old.

This is a perfect case for waiting to allow teenagers to get their driver's license. The age should be increased so that young drivers are mature enough to be behind the wheel of a vehicle. When teenagers take their driver's license exam, part of the requirements should be that they have to view a videotape of some severe auto accidents to show them the blood and guts of what can happen in an accident if they are not careful. If that doesn't slow them down or make them pay attention, nothing will. Or, we can do it the same old way and have alot more accidents like this one.

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March 13, 2009

CAN A GOOD SAMARITAN RECOVER AFTER HELPING ACCIDENT VICTIMS?

 

After a two car wreck in Lucedale, MS, a good samaritan who helped the accident victims died of a heart attack at the local hospital. A 1997 Pontiac crossed over Highway 98 causing the accident with a 2006 Ford F-350 truck. It was a broadside collision and both vehicles came to rest about 75 ft. away. The car had two passengers in it,neither of which were wearing a selt belt. The three year old had no child seat.

pic of car wreck.jpgWHO CAN SUE WHOM AND WHY? The driver of the truck can sue the driver of the car for pulling out in front of his vehicle. The passengers in the car can sue their driver for pulling out in front of the truck;also, someone was negligent for allowing the 3 yr. old baby to be riding in the car without a child safety seat. The good samaritan may be able to make a claim against the driver of the car if his family can prove that the accident and his helping out thereafter contributed to his heart attack and subsequent death.

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March 7, 2009

SHOULD YOU HIRE AN ATTORNEY OR SETTLE ON YOUR OWN?

 

Numerous clients over the years have asked me is it better for me to settle my case on my own or hire an attorney. The bottom line is the client is worried that after paying my attorney fee that they would have come out better by settling their case on their own.

Most of the time it is better to hire an attorney because the client usually gets more money in the settlement AFTER paying the attorney fee.

Let's take for example, the Trade Center Litigation. There were 5,560 claimants who chose to settle by themselves without hiring an attorney. They received $7,000,000,000.(that is seven billion).Just recently 92 families of victims of the WTC attack who were represented by lawyers settled for $500,000,000.  That may seem like alot of money to you, but lets take a closer look at the settlements. 500 million divided by 92 equals $5,434,782 average per family. These were families who were represented by attorneys. The families who chose not to hire an attorney received an average of $1,258,992. The families represented by attorneys received about 4.3 times more money than the families who represented themselves.

The cases were filed against three airline companies and other defendants.

jet.jpgThe insurance companies know this,the lawyers know this,but the clients usually do not know this. Of the 95 families who filed suit with an attorney, 92 settled before trial for the above amount;three families decided to go to trial. Who wants to guess how much money to jury will award in these three cases? Will it be more than $5,434,782 per family?

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March 6, 2009

Hit and Run Driver Kills Pedestrian In Panola County, MS

 

A Panola County, MS accident resulted in the death of Benny Hicks whose car had broken down. Benny was found dead alongside I-55 near the Como,MS exit. Apparently, he was hit by an 18 wheeler who keep going and left the scene of the accident. Parts of the red fender were found by the MS Highway Patrol. MPH later found the tractor trailer and driver that caused this accident. 18 wheeler.jpg

QUESTION: How can you run over someone,knock their body over 30',cause damage to your front end and not know you were involved in an accident? I'm sure the driver is going to claim that he never knew that he hit anything, but the physical facts should show otherwise. I wonder if the driver would be willing to take a lie detector test to determine if his story is true? If he passes the test, don't charge him criminally, if he flunks the test, indict the sucker. Either way, the family of Mr. Hicks has a claim against the 18 wheeler company for causing his death.

Under the wrongful death statute, any family member can make a claim against the insurance company of the truck driver for the accident. They can claim damages for loss of income, loss of love,society and affection, pain and suffering, funeral and other bills. Usually the tractor trailer companies carry at least $750,000 to $1,000,000 of insurance coverage.

The MS Legislature passed a law putting caps on damages in these type of cases so the most anyone can recover for non-economic damages is $1,000,000.

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March 5, 2009

Two Injured In Car Wreck On Natchez Trace In Jackson, MS

 

There was a one vehicle accident on the Natchez Trace in Jackson, MS when Richard Greene ran off the road and hit a tree. The passenger, Linda Milner, received enough injuries to stay hospitalized. They were both officers for the library system in Kosciusko,MS.

Who has a claim against whom and why? The passenger has a claim against the driver and his insurance company in additon to being able to make a claim against her own insurance company if the driver's insurance coverage was not enought to take care of her damages. Also, since they were coming back home from a required work related meeting,then workman's compensation may apply. I wonder what caused him to run off of the road at 6:30 pm?

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March 4, 2009

Cyclist Killed By Speeding Car In Jackson, Mississippi

 

The driver was going so fast that after he hit Bennie Moore that he drug the biker over 100 yards before hitting the curb. Charlie Taylor pled guilty to manslaughter for causing this accident. Mr. Moore was riding his bike in the turning lane when he was hit by a Lincoln driven by Taylor. After causing severe life threatening injuries and severing the biker's feet, Taylor does not stop to try to help his victim,but instead, leaves the scene of the accident and allows Mr. Moore to lay dying in the road.

Who has a claim against whom and why? The family of Mr. Moore has a claim against the driver of the Lincoln for causing the accident;but, the family may also have a claim against their own insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage and med pay coverage. One may be covered under this provision in your own insurance policy even though you were not in your car at the time the accident occured. In other words, it covers bikers and pedestrians.

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March 3, 2009

No Seatbelts Send Two Children To Jackson, MS Hospital

 

Two children were severely injured in a one car crash when the driver ran off the road and hit a tree in Amite County, MS. The impact caused one child to go through the windshield and the other child to be pinned in the back seat. The children were taken to UMC in Jackson, MS.

After working on injury and death cases for over 34 years, I have seen so many accidents come across my desk. Usually the ones who wear seatbelts live, and the ones who don't wear seatbelts, die; it's as simple as that. Accidents happen so fast that there is not enough time to react and then it is too late. My family buckles up as soon as the ignition is turned on;the car does not move unless everyone has their seatbelt on, no ifs ands or buts.

The warning light and the buzzer are a reminder of something that you already know.Please buckle up out there for you and anyone in your car. Thumbnail image for van.jpg

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March 2, 2009

Head-On Crash Kills Two People In Leake County, Mississippi

 

A truck and suv collided head-on in Leake County, MS which killed two people and injured three other people in the crash. The truck lost control while traveling in a curve and went into the wrong lane hitting the suv head-on. The driver of the truck and a passenger in the suv were killed. Passengers in both vehicles sustained personal injuries and ended up at UMC in Jackson, MS.

Who has a claim against whom and why? Lets assume that the people killed in the accident are from the Indian Reservation, and that the accident happened within Indian property. If that is true, then anyone who was injured or killed by an Indian, cannot sue in a Court of Law,but would have to go before the Indian Tribunal to seek relief. Go figure. Maybe, the driver had too much FIREWATER which may have caused the accident. So beware of traveling in and near Philadelphia, MS you just may end up dead with your family left out in the cold with no recourse.

It may be possible for the personal injury victims to file a claim against their own underinsured motorist coverage since they are unable to make a claim agaisnt the Indian Reservation driver.

If you know of someone who was injured or killed on the Reservation, call us now to discuss your case 601-969-1977 or 1-800-640-4478.

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March 1, 2009

MISSISSIPPI CAR WRECK CAUSED BY MORGAN FREEMAN

 

Actor Morgan Freeman is being sued in a Mississippi court for causing a one vehicle car wreck that happened in August, 2008, near Clarksdale,MS. The allegations are that Morgan was drinking before, during and after diner at a local country club and the alcohol contributed to the accident. Demaris Meyer filed the lawsuit seeking damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and permanent disability as a result of the accident.

morgan freeman.jpgAny business that has a license to sell alcohol can be sued for serving alcohol to a customer who has become visibly intoxicated. So, in this case, if Morgan was showing signs of intoxication to the bartender at the country club, and they continued to serve/sell drinks to Morgan, then the country club could also be sued for contributing to the car crash and resulting injuries to Demaris. This is especially true if the blood alcohol content of Morgan was over .25% at the time of the accident. At that level, most drinkers show signs of intoxication. The time of the taking of the test is important because the body eliminates one drink per hour from your system. So if the BAC test was not done until about 5 hours after the accident and showed .15% at that time,then you can backtrack and prove that the BAC was .25% 5 hours earlier at the time of the accident. One drink is about the same as .02%, so 5 hours X .02%= .10% difference. Other factors have to be taken into consideration, such as the weight of the person, the ability of the person to build up a tolerance to alcohol,if you are a heavy drinker, and whether you have had anything to eat which slows down the absorption of the alcohol,but not the amount. There are also three phases of the alcohol in a person's system: the absorption phase when the person is drinking the alcohol, the leveling off phase when the person stops drinking alcohol, and the elimination phase when the alcohol begins to start getting out of your system.

There are numerous other factors involved in handling these liquor liability cases. We know one thing for sure,i.e., 40% of the accidents in MS involve alcohol. morgan freeman car.jpg

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