Takata airbag safety recall

With the enormous Takata airbag recall still not fully resolved, you may be concerned about the airbags in your own car. We don’t blame you! The attorneys at Taylor King know how unsettling it is to learn that something that’s designed to protect you could instead cause of harm.

In spite of the bad rap they sometimes receive, you are safer with airbags than without them. The NHTSA estimates that airbags reduce the risk of death in front crashes by about 30%. We’ve done our research to answer your questions about how airbags work and how you can protect your family from airbag injuries.

1. How do airbags work to keep me safe?

Airbags work together with seatbelts to keep you safe. Seatbelts function to keep your body semi-stationary inside the car during a wreck. The laws of motion come into play during a car crash: when your car comes to an abrupt stop, your body continues moving forward. While seatbelts keep you from flying through the windshield, airbags cushion your body from violent motion and prevent you from slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard.   

Some studies show that while seatbelts will protect you in side-collisions, airbags in the steering wheel area only help when it’s a head-on crash. It’s true that seatbelts are the #1 best form of accident protection. But technology has advanced rapidly. Newer model cars often have multiple airbags, including some in the side door or seat. This means you’ll be protected from all sides. And all new cars sold in the United States since 1998 have been required to have driver- and passenger-side airbags.

 2. What causes the airbag to inflate?

Your car is equipped with a sensor that detects impact. Airbags will not inflate if you simply slam on your brakes; there has to be an impact (like hitting another car, or a pole). If the impact is small or at a low speed, your airbags will not deploy. But if the force of the impact is equal or greater than that of running into a brick wall at 10-15 mph, the sensor signals the inflation system. The inflation system is designed to inflate the airbag quickly, at speeds up to 200 mph, and then to deflate quickly so that your vision and movements are not limited. And all of this happens in about 1/25 of a second.

3. Why do airbags sometimes cause injuries, and how can I avoid that?  

You already know that serious injury or death may be caused by defective airbags. But in other cases, people have been injured by properly functioning airbags. Sometimes the problem isn’t the airbag, but the passenger.

There’s a common factor among people who are injured or killed by airbags, and it’s not their height, weight, or gender. It’s how close they were to airbag when it deployed. An airbag must inflate quickly and forcefully to protect you, and the force is greatest in the first 2-3 inches after it inflates - called the “risk zone.” If you are 2-3 inches away from the airbag when it deploys, it can hit with enough force to cause serious injury or even death.

The very best way to ensure that airbags will protect you from injuries, not cause them, is to keep your distance. Experts says that sitting with your chest 10 inches away from the dashboard will minimize your risk of airbag injury.

It’s also very important to keep children under the age of 12 in the back seat, because the force of the airbag may be too powerful for a child's small body. Never let a younger child ride in the front passenger seat.

Were you or someone you know injured by a defective airbag or other defective part in a car? You may have legal rights to compensation. Taylor King Law is ready to help. Call 1-800-CAR-WRECK (1-800-227-9732) to begin your FREE, no-obligation consultation. You're one call away from getting help today. 

For more information on the Takata Corp airbag recall and a full list of the recalled vehicles, read our last post: Takata Corp Issues New Airbag Recalls.


What Determines Your Injuries?

Car accidents can do more damage than simply putting your car in the shop. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.3 million Americans were injured in car accidents in 2014. The good news is that with increased safety awareness and major advances in vehicle technology and design, those numbers are gradually decreasing. The bad news, of course, is that even ONE accident can cause serious injuries.

There are a number of factors that can impact the type and severity of your injuries, including whether you are

  1. Wearing a seatbelt (hint: If not, your injuries are much more likely to be severe!)

  2. Hit from the front, rear, or side of the car

  3. Driving at a higher or lower speed

  4. Facing forward in the car or facing another direction, leaning over, or lying down in the seat

If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, the attorneys at Taylor King cannot overstate the importance of getting medical attention as soon as possible, even if you initially feel fine. Why? While you might not be experiencing an obvious injury like a broken leg, you may have internal injuries or head trauma that won’t show symptoms for several days - but could be doing serious harm in the meantime.

Common Injuries

Because every car accident is different, no two injuries will be exactly alike. But there are some injuries that people commonly experience after being in a car wreck:

1. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. Whiplash occurs when your head and neck are suddenly jerked back and forth (like the cracking of a whip...hence the name). It most often occurs in rear-end collisions. Symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. Most of those symptoms resolve over time, but may require medication, therapy, or chiropractic work. A smaller number will suffer from chronic neck problems and pain afterward. Other, more serious possible neck injuries include disc injury and cervical radiculopathy (irritated nerves).

2. Concussions are another well-known car wreck injury and is usually caused by hitting your head on part of the car, like the steering wheel or window, giving your brain a “jolt” that can actually cause it to move in your skull.They’ve received recent attention for being more serious than previously thought, with doctors seeing long-term consequences in athletes who experience concussions more often than the average person. A concussion is actually classified as a mild traumatic brain injury. If you or someone you love has been involved in a car wreck, watch for signs of a concussion: confusion, slurred speech, nausea or vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, or memory loss, to name a few.

A doctor will be able to diagnose a concussion if you seek medical attention after your accident.  

3. Back Injuries - Your spine is divided into three different sections: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae. With all of the discs, muscles, tendons and nerves in your spinal area, a back injury may be very painful. In a car wreck, back injuries can range from strained muscles or dislocated discs to serious spinal cord trauma. In many cases, chiropractic work or physical therapy can relieve pain and help realign your spine, but some injuries may require surgery to restore mobility. You should never ignore back pain after being in an accident.

4. Leg and Knee Injuries - Most people think of upper body injuries when discussing car wrecks, but your legs and knees are also at risk. This is usually results when a passenger hits their knees or legs on the dashboard, or when part of the car is smashed inward. The knee area, with its ligaments and tendons, is especially prone to injury. Other possible injuries include fractures, broken bones, or cuts and bruises.

Chiropractic Care

If you have “soft tissue” injuries, and not broken bones or open wounds, then you should consider seeing a chiropractor for treatment. Chiropractors are health care professionals who treat musculoskeletal injuries, particularly neck, back and spine issues. While they cannot prescribe medication, they can treat your injuries with a variety of adjustments, manipulations and massage. If you were injured in a car accident where you were not at fault, your chiropractic visits could be covered as part of your personal injury settlement.

Arkansas guidelines for infant and child safety seats

Having a baby changes everything (sleep-deprived new parents, we feel for you), even the way you drive. The most lead-footed speed demons transform into Driving Miss Daisy when there’s a child in the back seat. A motorcycle-loving dad suddenly sees the merits of a minivan. And two twenty-somethings may find themselves spending hours at Target in the car seat aisle, trying to find the perfect seat to keep their baby safe and sound.

As parents, we know that you want to do what’s best for your child. But buckling your baby into a carseat may not be enough, according to car experts. Our friends at Little Rock news station Today’s THV recently shared the staggering statistic that 9 out of 10 car seats in Arkansas are installed incorrectly.

Why? Most parents simply don’t know what they’re doing wrong. Did you know, for example, that safety belts should not be fastened over thick winter coats, which can keep the straps from holding your child securely? Instead, trying buckling your child in and then covering him or her with a warm blanket. This THV article will help you identify any mistakes you might be making.

One mistake you might not have considered...

...neglecting to replace your child’s seat after being involved in a car accident. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) strongly recommends replacing child safety seats in all moderate to severe crashes, and sometimes in minor wrecks as well. How do you know if the wreck was “minor”? Use this checklist provided by the NHTSA. You may be able to continue using your safety seat ONLY if your wreck meets ALL of these requirements:

  • You are able to drive your vehicle away from the crash site
  • The vehicle door closest to the safety seat was undamaged
  • No one in the car was injured
  • Airbags did not deploy (inflate)
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat.

Why is it so important to replace car seats after an accident?

The impact could have caused unseen damage so that the seat no longer protects your child in an accident. For the same reason, never purchase a used safety seat unless you can be certain it was never involved in a wreck. Consider the fact that a child riding unrestrained in a car that crashes at 25 mph will experience a force equal to falling from a 3-story building. Saving money on a new seat isn’t worth it. 

What are Arkansas laws for child safety seats?

Arkansas law is clear on child safety seats: Any child younger than 6 years old and weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in a child passenger seat secured in the vehicle. Anyone who doesn’t comply with this requirement may be subject to a fine. Currently, there are no Arkansas laws that require manufacturers to replace your car safety seat if it's damaged in a crash. But if you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was at fault, you likely can include the cost of replacing the seat in the sum of your damages. Be sure to discuss this option with your personal injury attorney. 

What resources exist for Arkansas parents?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more specific recommendations. Infants should remain in rear-facing seats until they are at least 1 year old AND weigh more than 20 pounds. Once they are over the age and weight requirement, they can ride in a front-facing seat with an internal 5-point harness. Don’t graduate your child to a booster seat until he or she weighs more than 40 pounds, and always use both the lap and shoulder belts with a booster seat. You can learn more about these guidelines at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Services page.

The attorneys at Taylor King Law want to work together with our community to protect our most precious asset: our children.

Using health insurance after car accident

When you’re the victim of a car accident, there’s a lot to deal with: damaged cars, rental cars, physical pain, missed days of work, and more. But the most common questions we get from clients are about something else entirely: health insurance. When you require medical treatment, therapy, or surgery after a wreck that wasn’t your fault, you may not want to get your own health insurance involved.
Today, our attorneys are helping clear up some of those misconceptions and questions regarding insurance and car accidents.

Q: “If the accident wasn’t my fault, shouldn’t the other driver’s insurance pay for my medical bills?”

A: Yes, the other party’s insurance should pay for your medical treatment, and they will - but not while you’re still getting treatment. Their insurance adjuster will pay your bills at one time, when your case is settled. There is no “pay as you go” process, and they are not legally required or expected to pay each bill as it is received.

Q: “Why should I use my own health insurance to pay my bills? Why can’t I wait for a settlement from the insurance company?”

A: When you are injured in a car wreck, getting medical treatment and recovering from your injuries is the most important thing. Medical providers will not typically treat your injuries without first having your insurance information or another form of payment. If you refuse to give that information, you’ll be locked in a stalemate waiting for a settlement that can’t happen until you receive treatment. You could also damage your case by failing to “mitigate” your injuries.

Furthermore, getting a settlement from the other party’s insurance company is not a quick process. In the meantime, your bills could be sent to a collection agency, leaving you with credit problems.

Q: “Will I be penalized by using my own insurance or MedPay?”

A: In the state of Arkansas, your insurance provider cannot penalize you for using MedPay coverage in an accident where you were not at fault.

Q: “Will I lose money in the long run by using my own health insurance?”

A: Simply put, no. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Insurance companies typically have an agreement with medical providers, so they pay a discounted portion of your medical bills. The insurer will usually file a lien to recover that money once your claim is settled. By using your settlement money to reimburse your insurer, rather than paying each medical provider separately, you will likely pay much less - and that payment will come from your settlement, not your own pocket.

Additionally, Arkansas observes something called the “Made Whole Doctrine,” which states that the insurer’s lien must balance with the victim’s right to be “made whole” after an accident. In other words, their right to recover money is secondary to your right to recover the physical and financial losses you have suffered. Your attorney will ensure that this doctrine is observed so that you are treated fairly and your needs are considered first.

Consult with an Attorney

Because each case, client, insurance company and medical provider is unique, you should speak with an attorney to learn more about using health insurance in your specific case. Taylor King will gladly provide you with a free consultation. Get started by calling 1-800-227-9732 or complete the form on our website. 

Location Stamp Photos of Car Accident

What if I told you that your smartphone can be one of your most important assets if you’re involved in a car accident? You may be thinking, “Aren’t you the one who’s always telling me not to text while driving? Isn’t this a little contradictory?” Well - yes, I still firmly maintain that there is never a good reason to use your phone while you are driving. However, if you’ve been in a car wreck and have helped ensure that everyone involved is safe, it’s time to pull out your cell phone.

Gathering Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
In the aftermath of a crash, there’s often a lot of “he said, she said.” There may be as many versions of what happened as there are people at the scene: you, the other driver, eyewitnesses, the police officer who responds to the wreck, etc. And while witness statements will be important evidence if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident, there’s another piece of evidence that can prove even more valuable: photos. Photos can present facts and give context to the accident in a way that an eyewitness account cannot.

Smartphone Features: Location Tagging for Photos
Before you begin documenting the scene of the car accident, you’ll want to be sure that Location Tagging is enabled for your camera app. You probably know that every time you take a picture on your phone, it’s tagged with digital information, called metadata, that includes the time and date the photo is taken. This timestamp adds a layer of authenticity to your accident photos; it proves that you took the photos on the day and time of the accident.

With constantly advancing technology, however, now you can take it one step further: you can prove that the photos were taken at the place of the accident. This is thanks to Location Services, which uses a combination of GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspots, and cell tower locations to determine your locations. While this is the technology that allows you to use Google Maps to find your friend’s house or a new restaurant, it also can tag your photo with the latitude and longitude coordinates where it was taken.

Step-By-Step: Enable Your Camera's Location Services 
Some phone providers have Location Services enabled automatically, but others do not. It’s a simple process to turn on this feature.

If you have an iPhone:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Scroll down to the Privacy option
  • Select Camera, and under Allow Location Access, select While Using App

If you have an Android:

  • Open the Camera app
  • Swipe from left to right on the screen
  • Tap the Settings icon
  • Toggle the Save Location button to On

Take a wide variety of photos: wide shots of the entire scene, close-up pictures of damage to vehicles, multiple angles, and surrounding street signs or intersection lights. Many people are not comfortable leaving those location settings turned on at all times; that’s understandable. You can enable this setting before taking pictures of the accident scene and then disable it when you’re done. 

Get a Free Consultation from an Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyer
Now that you have photos, what should you do with them? If you've been injured in a car wreck in Arkansas, a local personal injury lawyer can help. The attorneys at Taylor King Law are ready to answer your questions - your no-obligation consultation is always free. Call today at 1-800-CAR WRECK (227-9732) to get started. With offices in Arkadelphia, North Little Rock, Springdale, Jonesboro, Fort Smith and West Memphis, Taylor King will be on your side, by your side throughout the entire process of filing a personal injury claim.