Rental Car Companies Agree not to Rent or Sell Recalled Vehicles

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The four largest rental car companies in the country have agreed to requests made by two senators who are pushing for legislation to prevent rental companies from renting or selling defective vehicles that have not yet been repaired. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer announced the agreement Thursday with Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and Dollar Thrifty, the four most popular rental companies in the United States.

The companies have said they will support the law, which will for the first time put them under federal oversight on recalls. The push for this new law came from Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, who were both killed in a fiery crash in 2004 while returning to the Bay Area after visiting their mother in Ojai.

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Toyota Yaris Ranks Poorly in Injury Crashes

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The Highway Loss Data Institute released a report based on insurance data for vehicle model years 2009 to 2011, which shows that people traveling in a Toyota Yaris are more likely to get injured than occupants of any other vehicle. According to the Los Angeles Times, the institute found that personal injury claims were filed 28.5 times for every 1,000 Yaris vehicles that were insured by the industry.

Next to the Yaris, the Suzuki SX4, a small crossover, had the second highest risk of injury to occupants posting 26.6 claims per thousand vehicles insured. Other vehicles that scored poorly in terms of occupant safety include the Chevy Aveo, Mitsubishi Galant, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa and Sentra, Hyundai Accent and the Dodge Avenger. It is interesting to note that the vehicles with the highest injury claims are also small cars.

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Man Killed in Angeles Crest Highway Motorcycle Accident

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Dan Cretu, 38, was killed in a Los Angeles County motorcycle crash, after he lost control of his cycle near mile marker 27 of the Angeles Crest Highway. According to a report in The Pasadena Star-News, the fatal accident occurred the morning of September 22, 2012 in La Canada Flintridge about four miles north of the 210 Freeway. Cretu was riding a 2012 Aprilia motorcycle when it veered off the right side of the roadway and struck a sign, California Highway Patrol officials said. Cretu was thrown off his motorcycle and landed on a dirt and grass embankment. He was transported to an area hospital where he died. Officials are still looking into what caused this fatal injury accident.

I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved Dan Cretu for their terrible loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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Trader Joe’s Supplier Recalls Peanut Butter for Salmonella Contamination

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Sunland Inc., which makes the Trader Joe’s brand peanut butter, has recalled 76 different defective products due to the possibility of salmonella contamination. According to an NBC News report, the company has recalled three brands of Trader Joe’s peanut butter and almond butter. The products have been linked to 29 infections in 18 states including California caused by the rare salmonella Bredeney. Sunland is also recalling peanut and almond products sold under popular brands including Archer’s, Earth Balance, Fresh & Easy, Heinen’s, Natural Value, Naturally More, Sprout’s and Serious Food. The products have best-by dates between May 1, 2013 and September 24, 2013.

The food poisoning cases linked to these products were reported between June 11 and September 2, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far four people have been hospitalized. The company is recalling the products although officials say they have not detected positive results for the rare salmonella strain in the products. Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping. The illness may last four to seven days. Some people who become more seriously ill may require hospitalization.

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General Motors Recalls Vehicles for Transmission Issues

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General Motors is issuing an auto defect recall for nearly 474,000 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars due to transmission problems, which can cause the cars to roll away unexpectedly. According to a news report in The Associated Press, the vehicle recall affects 2007 to 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura vehicles, many of them in the United States. All the vehicles involved in this recall have four-speed automatic transmissions.

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Young Football Player Killed in Accident Caused by Tire Tread Separation

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Even Perez, 10, was killed in a car accident in California after the vehicle in which he was a passenger went out of control and crashed, the morning of September 15, 2012. According to a news account in The Hanford Sentinel, the fatal SUV rollover crash occurred on the 5 Freeway south of Derrick Avenue near Coalinga. California Highway Patrol officials say that 2001 Mitsubishi SUV was traveling at about 70 mph when the tread on the left rear tire separated.

The SUV overturned into the center median and three out of the six passengers, including Even, were ejected. Even died at the scene. His mother, Alma Lopez-Diaz, 37, and four other passengers were transported to a Fresno hospital. They were identified as Even’s three siblings and one other child – 13-year-old Eddie Lopez, Christian Cervantes, 9, Alex Alukya and Rosemary Perez, both 12.

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FDA Halts Imports of Mexican Mangoes due to Salmonella Contamination

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is putting a hold on mango imports from a Mexican packinghouse after the company’s mangoes have been related to food-borne illnesses in 15 states including California. According to an Associated Press news report, the FDA announced the safety alert against Agricola Daniella, a mango supplier with multiple plantations and one packinghouse in Sinaloa, Mexico. This alert basically means that the U.S. government will not accept any further imports from the company unless it can show testing that proves that the mangoes are no longer contaminated.

The company’s mangoes have been linked to salmonella illnesses in 15 states. So far, 121 people have been sickened. No deaths have been reported. A California importer recalled the Daniella brand mangoes last month after they were linked to dozens of illnesses nationwide, a majority of them in California. Various retailers sold those mangoes from July 12 to August 29.

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Government Probes Ford Crown Victoria Steering Issues

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Federal officials have launched a vehicle defect investigation into Ford Crown Victoria police cars after complaints regarding possibly faulty steering columns. According to a news article in The Associated Press, the probe affects about 195,000 cars from the 2005 through 2008 model years. So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received three complaints that part of the steering column can separate and result in loss of steering control. No crashes or injuries have yet been reported. During the investigation, officials will determine whether the vehicles in question are defective and whether a safety recall is warranted.

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Honda Element Vehicles Recalled for Wiring Defect

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Honda has issued a vehicle defect recall for Element crossover SUVs from the 2007 to 2011 model years that come with a trailer hitch add-on. According to a news article in The Car Connection, the wire that supplies power to the trailer’s turn signal lights was inadvertently switched with the stop lamp wire. As a result of this error, turn signal lights on the trailers attached to the Element will only work when the brake lights are illuminated.

This means that if you are hauling a trailer and not hitting the brakes, drivers behind you will have no idea that you are turning. This could increase the risk of a car crash. About 5,216 vehicles are included in this recall. Element owners will most likely be notified around September 20, 2012. Once the recall begins, owners will be able to take the affected vehicles to Honda dealers who will repair it free of charge. Concerned owners are asked to call Honda at 1-800-999-1009 and ask about recall #S53.

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Fireworks Explode In Truck Accident Seriously Injuring Three People

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September 2, 2012—Lake Elsinore, CA—The Press-Enterprise reports that three people suffered burns after a truck accident in which a vehicle carrying fireworks caught fire and exploded.

The accident took place in the parking lot of a baseball field where the Storm and Inland Empire 66ers were scheduled to play a couple of hours later.  One member of the fireworks company suffered both second and third degree burns over most of his body and was transported to a burn center.  Another member of the crew and a firefighter suffered minor burns and were transported to local hospitals.  The resulting fire spread for half an acre before firefighters were able to control it.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this accident, and I want to wish them a speedy recovery.

Fireworks Accidents Are Common And Sometimes Cause Serious Injuries

According to statistics compiled by the government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, at least 8,600 people were treated nationwide in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.  At least 73 percent of these injuries occurred in the two to three weeks surrounding the July 4th holiday and involved civilians who mishandled private purchased fireworks.

Burns were the most common type of injury, followed by foreign objects in eyes or loss of fingers due to explosions.  Most fireworks victims were treated and released for minor burns or cuts, but some victims were hospitalized and three died as a result of their injuries in 2010.

This Accident Highlights The Need for Careful Handling of Fireworks

Whatever the reason for the fire in this incident, the results underline the need for extreme care when handling and transporting fireworks.  A fire in an enclosed area containing fireworks, which are filled with explosive material, can easily cause an explosion and a spreading fire that could cause people far removed from the scene to experience injuries.

Who Is Liable for a Fireworks Accident?

Because fireworks are so inherently dangerous, only those who have been certified to handle them are allow to pack, transport, and set up fireworks displays.  California’s Fireworks Law, passed in 1938, designated the Office of the State Fire Marshal as the oversight agency for issuing fireworks licenses and governing their use and transport.

If the people transporting the fireworks did not practice safe handling, leading to this accident, it is possible they would have liability for the injuries.  It is also possible that the company that made the fireworks, the trucking company, or even the State Fire Marshal could have liability if one of these individuals did not follow strict procedures for safe handling.  A good accident injury lawyer should review the case and help make a determination about the liability issue.

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