BIG BROTHER KNOWS (IF YOU’RE WEARING A SEATBELT)

In many automobile accident cases the question as to whether one of the occupants is wearing a seat belt comes into question.  Oftentimes, the investigating agency charged with investigating the accident either fails to review all of the evidence or does not properly interpret the evidence.  This is especially true when an individual has lost consciousness or has left the vehicle prior to the investigating agency arriving.

The determination whether a seat belt was fully functional and operational can be an expensive proposition.  Retaining an expert to inspect the vehicle and restraint system can cost as much as $10,000.

The practitioner needs to be aware that in many situations the determination of seat belt usage can be as simple as downloading data.  Technology developed since the mid-1990s, allows for the practitioner, for a reasonable cost, to download information from the Restraint Control Module installed in most vehicles that can answer the question of belt usage.  The restraint control module (or “RCM”) will store, amongst other data, information regarding the use or non-use of the seat belt.  The RCM reacts to the forces experienced by the vehicle during a collision.  To determine whether or not an occupant has been wearing a seat belt, some type of deceleration force, in the longitudinal direction of travel must have occurred. This can be either brake application or impact. The RCM will also provide information regarding the engine RPMs, percentage of power of the engine, brake application and vehicle speed.

The RCM can be downloaded for as little at $1,500 for the vehicles that have them. Today most manufacturers black boxes can be downloaded. Certain manufacturers still maintain the proprietary code. It is important to properly safeguard against any deletion of data. In most product liability cases cases the adverse party should be advised that you are conducting the download

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The above graph details the information that is provided by the RCM. The graph is from a 2001 GM model. In this case, our occupant was ejected and the question was whether or not he was wearing his seat belt and failure of the side curtain airbag to deploy. At first glance, the data leads you to believe that the vehicle was traveling at approximately 100 mph (red line). That did not correlate with the physical evidence or the engine power output detailed in the graph (green line). Further review by our expert determined that the reason for the high-speed indication was due to rotational velocities of the vehicle experienced while spinning down the roadway. The acceleratometers found in the RCM gave an artificial indication of speed due to this phenomenon. Please be aware of this type of potential “false read”. Always verify results with the physical evidence.

A local expert, Rick Galdos, Ph.D. (813-654-0172), has both the hardware and software to download this data in these particular automobiles and can provide you with this information relatively inexpensively.

Omar F. Medina is a nationally recognized attorney practicing in the area of automotive crash worthiness and products liability cases. In 2002 Mr. Medina received ATLA’s Stephen J. Sharp Public Service Award, for his work in the Ford/Firestone litigation. Mr. Medina principal office is in Tampa, Florida.

RECOGNIZING THE CRASHWORTHINESS CASE

What is crashworthiness?

Crashworthiness is the ability of a vehicle to protect its occupants in the event of a crash. However, not all automobile products liability cases are “crashworthiness” cases. In Florida, there is a distinct advantage to having a “crashworthiness” or “secondary impact” case.

Crashworthiness cases are expensive and may require expenditure into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to properly prepare for trial. The practioner must recognize that preserving the evidence is the first concern.

Roof Crush:

Roof crush defects affect virtually all brands of SUV’s and Light trucks sold in America. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 216 allows roofs to be so weak that it provides nearly no protection whatsoever. In fact, vehicle roofs obtain up to 40% of their strength from the windshield. Accordingly, when windshield glass shatters during a rollover the roof no longer provides even the minimal strength required by FMVSS 216.

Volvo suggests that for optimum safety vehicles should be equipped with laminated side glass, pre-tensioners, and both frontal and side curtain airbags. Pre-tensioners are devices that fire a  pyro-technique charge milliseconds prior to impact, which tightens the seatbelt. Significantly reducing occupant extrusion in a crash. The costs of pre-tensioners can be as little as five dollars.

Rollover Accidents:

The instability of a vehicle is a well-known defect that affects virtually all compact SUV’s, Mini Vans and 15 Passenger Vans.     There has been successful litigation against various SUV manufacturers including the Toyota 4-Runner, Ford Explorer,  Bronco II, Mercury Mountaineer, Isuzu Rodeo, Mitsubishi Montero and Nissan Pathfinder. All of these vehicles have one trait in common – a narrow track width and a high center of gravity.

Fifteen Passenger Vans are particularly deadly vehicles since mostly church groups and schools use them. These vehicles are unstable in highway conditions and even more so when fully loaded. Additionally, the 15 Passenger Vans have inadequate safety restraint systems and provides almost no roof strength.

Door Opening :

Common sense dictates that doors should remain closed during collisions especially, during rollover collisions.        For example, the Ford Explorer incorporates a compression rod system to open it’s doors, which when involved in an accident can “for- shorten” allowing the door to unexpectedly open.

In addition to the above crashworthiness cases may also include defects involving airbags, seatbacks, child safety seats, park to reverse cases, fire cases, and glazing cases

In summation, in catastrophic injury or death cases always keep in the back of your mind whether or not a potential “crash worthiness” case may exist.

Omar F. Medina is a nationally recognized attorney practicing in the area of automotive crash worthiness and products liability cases. In 2002 Mr. Medina received ATLA’s Stephen J. Sharp Public Service Award, for his work in the Ford/Firestone litigation. Mr. Medina principal office is in Tampa, Florida.

Two teens were killed in an auto accident in Pasco County

On behalf of Omar Medina:

The car accident happened on Moon Lake Road just south of Bethwood Avenue. Courtney Little was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Aveo and was attempting to make a left-hand curve on Moon Lake. She lost control of the car and it spun and landed in the northbound lane. A Dodge Dakota driven by James William Butz, 53, of New Port Richey struck the passengers side of the car.

Troopers said the driver, Courtney Little and her passenger died at the scene. Mr. Butz and his passenger were taken to Bayonet Point Hospital with serious injuries. A third vehicle saw the crash and was able to steer off the northbound shoulder.

BE CAREFUL ABOUT REQUESTS MADE BY EITHER INSURANCE COMPANY

Never give a recorded statement to the at fault party’s insurance company. If your own insurance company requests your recorded statement, you have to comply but should you do so in the presence of your lawyer in order to appropriately protect your interests.  Remember, the insurance company’s job is to defeat your claim.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Manatee, and Hillsborough for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

A Spring Hill man died on Monday after a head-on crash with a school bus

On behalf of Omar Medina in Spring Hill:

The accident happened on Monday afternoon. Michael L. McCall, was driving west on Elgin Boulevard when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, McCall’s 2001 Ford Mustang crossed into the eastbound lane of Elgin Boulevard and collided head-on with a Hernando County School bus. McCall was transported to Bayonet Point Hospital where he died from his injuries on Monday night. The bus driver had minor injuries and there were no children on the bus at the time of the accident.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Clearwater, New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Lakeland, Brandon, Bradenton, and Tampa for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Attorney in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

Crews spent part of the day cleaning up debris on Interstate 4 after a FedEx truck crashed into an overpass

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On behalf of Omar Medina in Lakeland:

According to Florida Highway Patrol, the accident happened on I-4 near Kathleen Road and authorities said the driver was not hurt.
The driver failed to control the truck and drove onto the outside shoulder, the truck hit the guard rail and bounced into a railroad track support pier. The crash ripped open the top of the truck and packages fell out on the roadway. Officials had to re-route traffic and this caused a huge backup for miles before trooper began to reopen the lanes before 7am.

This accident also caused two additional crashes in the traffic backup. One involving a dump truck but there were no injuries. FedEx officials are trying to expedite the deliver of the packages. The crash remains under investigation.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Manatee, and Tampa for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

Hardee County teenager was killed in a Polk County crash over the weekend.

On behalf of Medina Law Firm posted in Mulberry

According to Deputies, Monica Gonzalez of Bowling Green died in a single car accident late on Sunday in Mulberry. The report states that Lezer Mendoza was headed eastbound on State Road 60 just West of County Line Road in a white 1997 Ford Explorer. Mendoza said she saw a dark shadow in the roadway and swerved to avoid it when her SUV slid and rolled over. Monica Gonzalez and another passenger were ejected. Investigators say neither passenger was wearing a seatbelt. The driver was wearing a seatbelt and only suffered minor injuries. The investigation is ongoing but neither speed or impairment appeared to be a factor in the crash.

Florida Statute (Ch. 316-614) requires drivers and their passengers to fasten their safety belts.

You must buckle up every time you get in your vehicle.

* Do it to protect yourself and others.
* Do it to avoid a serious dent in your wallet- a ticket could be costly.

While a majority of Floridians wear safety belts, those who don’t cost the state thousands of dollars in medical costs. Of course, you can’t put a price tag on the valuable lives lost.
Florida has had a safety belt law since 1986, but officers could only ticket unbuckled drivers when they stopped them for other violations. The new law allows officers to stop motorists for not wearing safety belts.

Florida law requires the use of safety belts for all drivers and passengers in all motorized vehicles, except:

* Persons who have a doctor-certified medical condition for which the use of the safety belt may be inappropriate or dangerous.
* Employees of a newspaper home delivery service or solid waste/recyclable collection service working designated routes.
* Persons traveling in the living quarters of a recreational vehicle or a space within a truck body primarily intended for merchandise or property.
* Persons traveling in vehicles that are not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Manatee, and Tampa for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

Pedestrian Accidents in Florida

Clearwater- A 14-year old boy was hit while crossing U. S. 19 in Clearwater on Tuesday afternoon. He manage to cross the southbound lanes and tried to cross the northbound lanes when he was struck. He was not in a crosswalk.

Spring Hill- A-50-year-old man was struck and killed early Sunday morning in Spring Hill. He was standing in the in the outside lane when he was hit and died at the scene.

Florida has one of the highest rates of pedestrian accidents in the Nation. Where you have high traffic density mixed with a large group of pedestrians, bad things are bound to happen. Many pedestrians are hit at night or in poor visibility conditions such as rain or fog. Some pedestrians are struck when they try to run across a darkened highway.

Every accident has issues regarding Comparative Negligence and pedestrian accidents are no exception. The court will balance the issues such as use of the crosswalk, visibility, speed, and other considerations when deciding a case. The jury will be instructed on comparative negligence but all other things being equal, most juries would place a large portion of blame on the vehicle rather than the injured pedestrian.

If you don’t want to be a statistic, wear white at night and follow the rules of the road. Try to walk as far off the pavement as possible and cross only at stop lights. Pedestrian safety is everyone’s job.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Largo, Clearwater, Seminole, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Spring, Spring Hill, New Port Richey, and Tampa for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

Single Car Accidents

Single Vehicle Collisions

Single vehicle collisions put a heavy burden on the trial lawyer to discover exactly what happened. There are many scenarios when there is a single car crash. Was it the driver? (i.e.drunk driver) This might not be the end of the story. If the driver was underage and was knowingly served by a bar, there could be legal liability under the Dram Shop Act.

What about the vehicle? It may be a defect in the vehicle itself that caused the accident. If so, and if the injuries are serious enough, there may be a design defect or manufacturing defect case. In addition, there may have been faulty repairs done on the vehicle which led to injury or death.

Road conditions may play a part in single car injuries. Was there standing water on the road? Were there construction barrels or saw horses out of position? Was there adequate signage? Was there a large pot-hole or subsidence in the side of the road?

In a single car injury or death case, preserve the vehicle, inspect the road and interview witnesses. These steps are important to preserve your legal case.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee, and Hillsborough for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

A sleepy driver is blamed for an accident on I-95 this morning.

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On behalf of Medina Law Firm posted in Brevard County

Florida Highway Patrol stated a sleepy driver was the cause of a crash on I-95.  A Toyota Camry headed north on I-95 and the driver fell asleep and turned into the guardrail. The car bounced off the guardrail and came to rest in the center lane of I-95 facing south. Then a tractor-trailer headed northbound in the center lane but the driver did not see the Camry in time to stop. The tractor-trailer hit the Camry and then flipped onto the right shoulder. A third vehicle was also involved but nobody was seriously injured. The trailer was full of Mother’s Day flowers and had to be unloaded before they could flip it upright. The driver of the Camry was ticketed for careless driving.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Largo, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Port Richey, Seminole, Spring Hill, Palm Harbor, and Tampa for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Attorney in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.

An accident involving a SUV and a Lawn Care truck closed Dale Mabry Highway for two hours.

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On behalf of Medina Law Firm posted in Tampa

This morning northbound traffic on Dale Mabry was shut down for two hours. Charles Eadens, of Tampa was driving a 2000 Chevrolet 3500PK, carrying 250 gallons of fertilizer mixed with water. He had stopped in Dale Mabry’s center median and was going to head northbound.

Ali Zumbado of Tampa was in a 2002 Mercedes-Benz headed north on Dale Mabry in the left lane. Troopers said, for an unknown reason Zumbado failed to control the vehicle and drifted into the median hitting the rear-end of the truck driven by Eadens. When the crash happened the truck started to leak some of the fertilizer onto the road. Hazardous crews had to be called in and remove the material.

The Law Office of Omar Medina is located in Tampa and serves clients in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, and Hillsborough Counties for Personal Injury clients.

We specialize in roll over cases, tire blow out accidents, and product liability cases. Please contact Omar Medina one of the best Personal Injury Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area for a free consultation.