| Read Time: 2 minutes | defective products

When Products Cause Harm

Product liability laws are based on the principle that manufacturers, resellers, distributors, and companies have a duty to protect consumers from potential hazards and dangers. These products include all sorts of consumer goods, from children’s products and pharmaceutical drugs to consumer electronics, medical devices, and vehicles. Unfortunately, dangerous and defective products cause thousands of injuries every year in the United States When To Take Legal Action If someone is injured by a defective product, there are three types of product liability claims that may apply to their case: Design defects – Occurs even before a product is manufactured, meaning something in the design of the product is inherently unsafe. Manufacturing defects– Issues that take place in the course of a product’s manufacture or assembly. Marketing defects – Failure to provide adequate warnings, labeling or instructions regarding how to properly use the product A Product Liability Attorney Can Help If you were injured by a dangerous or defective product, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you experienced. But product liability actions are detailed and complex and often involve large insurance companies or corporations with massive resources to fight your claim. That is why it is crucial to consult a lawyer with skill in this specific area. Gerling Law has the experience and financial resources to take on big companies, level the playing field and achieve justice for you! Our experienced product liability attorneys can help determine which parties are responsible for the defective or dangerous product and guide you through the negotiation and settlement process. Our knowledgeable lawyers will help you determine your damages, secure evidence of your losses, and advise you on different settlement options. Gerling Law has locations in Indiana (Evansville and Indianapolis) as well as Kentucky (Louisville and Owensboro) and understands the specifics laws in each state. Let Gerling Law evaluate your claim today by calling us 888-437-5464 or completing our free case review form for an initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | defective products

Takata air bag problems offer consumers chance at prevention

Takata air bag problems offer consumers chance at prevention In many ways, consumer safety seems to be on something of a reverse track. Typically, a person can only seek compensation for damages suffered after an accident occurs and injury caused. That certainly is true when dealing with motor vehicle accidents. The crash happens. Victims are hurt or worse, suffer fatal injuries. Recovery of benefits and compensation depends on being able to show through evidence that someone’s specific recklessness or negligence caused the unfortunate tragedy. Because of the legal nature of such cases, a skilled attorney’s help offers the best chance at optimal recovery. The normal process gets flipped on its head sometimes, such as in the matter of Takata air bags. Readers surely are familiar with this issue. The passive safety devices have been standard equipment in most passenger vehicles for many years. In the past few years, though, it’s been discovered that millions of models made by Takata could be unsafe. The chemical propellants that inflate the bags can become unstable from humidity and moisture and go off unexpectedly. It can happen with such force that canister shrapnel spews into vehicle passengers. At least 17 deaths and many more injuries are attributed to the faulty air bags. Tens of millions are already under recall, straining the ability of Takata and the rest of the auto industry to resolve the problem. In the wake of the initial discovery, Takata started adding a drying agent to new and replacement air bags. Then, earlier this month came word that many of those might not be safe. What makes this situation so different from other defective product cases is that the government knows about the problem and a website exists where consumers can check to see if the air bags in their vehicles are subject to recall. Then you can take action to ensure you are doing all you can to stay safe behind the wheel.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | defective products

The Dangers of Defective Products

The news has been hard to ignore: recently, German automaker Volkswagen admitted to installing devices designed to circumvent emissions testing in millions of their automobiles. The resulting scandal has shaken up the management structure in the venerated manufacturer and has caused worldwide outcry from both consumers and environmental groups alike. While no one was directly injured by the automaker’s actions in this instance, the scandal points out the lengths that some companies will go to in order to turn a significant profit. There are numerous examples of manufacturers putting company profits above the safety and well-being of the general public. Even with significant governmental oversight, many, many products fail and injure people every year. The Government Agencies That Protect Consumers There are three governmental agencies that monitor and regulate the products we use in the United States, warning the public when a product can be dangerous to health or public safety. These agencies are: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Food & Drug Administration (FDA) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Each of these agencies has a well-defined area of oversight and can issue recalls for products. Still, there are thousands of products that malfunction or fail every year that aren’t part of a larger recall, and many times consumers don’t realize they have legal recourse to protect themselves from defective products. Ways a Product Can Be Defective A product can be defective in one or more ways: Defective design – Flaws in the design of a product can put consumers in danger. An example of defective design is in the case of IVC filters, which have been used to prevent blood clots from traveling to a patient’s lungs. The design of an IVC filter makes it more likely to fragment and migrate throughout the body, causing medical complications, severe pain, and even death. Defective manufacturing – When there is an error in the manufacturing process, the resulting flaw can be dangerous. An example of defective manufacturing is a power strip that is assembled with a damaged component, causing the unit to overheat and starting a fire. Failure to warn or instruct (labeling) – failing to provide thorough instructions for the operation of a product, and/or failure to warn the consumer of possible dangers, can result in the improper use of that product. An example of failure to warn or instruct can be found in the use of Zofran to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. The manufacturer did not publish any warnings about possible dangers to developing fetuses even though they aggressively marketed the drug as a treatment for pregnancy-induced nausea. Protecting Your Legal Rights It might surprise you to learn that there are more than 2,000 product recalls each year. Even though governmental watchdog agencies exist in order to monitor products and warn consumers, a product doesn’t have to be part of a recall for you to be affected. Defective devices and products are still in the marketplace, and you can’t rely on a recall being issued, particularly if the flaw is in the manufacturing or labeling of a product. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact an attorney with experience in products liability. An attorney will examine the circumstances of your injury, determine if your injury is due to a product defect, and develop a case that helps to protect your legal rights. Don’t allow a defective product to ruin your life. Contact an attorney with experience in personal injury caused by defective products.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | defective products

Exploding E-Cigs: Health Risks You Didn't Expect

Recently, an Owensboro man learned what was so hot about the e-cigarette trend. You might have seen the dramatic video on the Evansville news, or even on CNN, where the story was picked up and became national news: an e-cigarette device igniting inside the pocket of his pants, giving him second-degree burns. His story, unfortunately, isn’t rare or unusual. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have been around since 2008, and are promoted as a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco products. Some e-cigarettes resemble their paper-and-tobacco counterparts, while others deliver their shot of nicotine via a device called a vape pen. These devices work by heating a liquid containing nicotine into a vapor, which users inhale. The heating element is powered by lithium-ion batteries, and while the healthfulness of electronic cigarettes is still open to debate, the batteries used within them present a very real danger. Lithium-Ion Batteries in E-Cigs The batteries used in e-cigarettes aren’t brand-new technology – lithium-ion batteries have been in use commercially since the early 1990s, and are common in many of the electronics that we use daily. Cell phones, laptops, cameras, cordless power tools, and many other electronic devices rely on the long-lasting power of lithium-ion batteries, and these batteries are safe for use provided they are properly cared for. Lithium-ion batteries charge more quickly and do not develop a discharge memory like Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, making them popular for devices that need a consistent and enduring power supply. Batteries generate their power through an electrochemical reaction, and it is this reaction that can render a lithium-ion battery unstable if it does not receive proper care. Vape Pen Design Flaws, Shoddy Construction Why do the batteries in electronic cigarettes seem to explode more often than those found in cell phones or laptops? Part of the answer lies in the design of many devices; their cylindrical shape can help to focus the energy of a failing battery, creating pressure that builds quickly and ruptures the device, typically at the end. Another part of the answer comes in the manufacturing of the batteries themselves. While the batteries used in electronic cigarettes are a common size and type manufactured by numerous companies around the world, there is a difference in how some of these batteries are made.There are three devices that can be built into a battery at time of manufacture which serve to protect it from failure: automatic reset of a battery if it overheats, disruption of current if it is over-charged, or a printed circuit board that prevents over-discharge, over-current, or over-charging. Batteries made with all three of these devices are known as “protected,” while anything less is considered “unprotected.” Most batteries used in e-cigarettes are unprotected – missing critical fail-safes, and running afoul of the voluntary industry standards of UL 1642 and IEC 62133. Protecting Yourself from Exploding E-Cigs If you choose to use e-cigarettes over traditional tobacco, you may be trading one set of health hazards for another. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has up to this point not regulated the e-cigarette industry to the extent that they oversee the tobacco industry, but changes may be on the way. In the meantime, you will want to protect yourself from the possibility of an exploding device. Precautions you should take include: Always use the charger specifically designed for your device Never leave a charging battery unattended Remove your device from the charger as soon as it has completed charging Don’t let loose batteries come in contact with metal (such as coins) or with each other Use the proper size battery for your device Don’t expose your battery to heat Additionally, the US Department of Transportation recently issued a flight safety rule regarding electronic cigarettes. As of October 2015, passengers on commercial airline flights can no longer pack e-cigarette devices into their checked luggage and are prohibited from charging these devices or their batteries in flight. Passengers may bring their devices into the cabin area on their person or in their carry-on luggage, but cannot use the devices in flight, a rule that is in line with traditional tobacco. This rule stems directly from the fire hazard created by lithium-ion batteries in electronic cigarette devices. Many people choose the electronic cigarette route as a way to quit smoking, only to find that the devices themselves can be hazardous to their health. If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective e-cigarette device, you may benefit from speaking with an attorney to determine your legal rights. An attorney experienced in products liability cases can examine the facts of your case and help you to preserve your legal rights. For help in quitting smoking, visit Smokefree.gov or contact the CDC at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | defective products

Have You Been Treated for Injuries Caused by an IVC Filter?

Each year, over 600,000 people suffer a pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot formed in the leg breaks loose and travels to the lungs. More than 60,000 die, most within 30 to 60 minutes after symptoms start. Common treatment options begin with oral and injectable anticoagulant medications, also known as blood thinners, and end with the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. IVC filters have been in use since the late 1960s, with a marked increase in use beginning in the late 1990s with the development of removable IVC filters. What is an IVC Filter? An IVC filter is a tiny metal device that can be described as cage-like or spider-like, which is implanted in the inferior vena cava, the artery that returns blood from the legs to the heart. The design of the IVC filter allows it to catch blood clots before they can travel toward the lungs. It is used as a last resort treatment for individuals who cannot take anticoagulant medications or those who are taking anticoagulants and still develop clots. Approved by FDA Without Testing Removable IVC filters have been approved by the FDA through their 510(k) clearance process. This process allows manufacturers to bypass the process of conducting new safety studies if their new device is similar to another device already on the market. This means that new designs of existing devices are not subject to rigorous testing to prove safety before being used by the medical community. The Dangers of IVC Filters IVC filters can fragment and migrate throughout the body, with potentially fatal outcomes if the fragments migrate into the heart, lungs, or other vital organs. By 2010, the FDA had issued a cautionary bulletin to doctors, following over 900 reports of adverse events involving IVC filters. Failure of IVC filters can include: Device fracture and fragmentation Device migration Embolization to heart or lungs Perforations of blood vessels Symptoms of IVC Filter Failure IVC filters come in two designs – permanent and removable. Removable IVC filters are designed for retrieval once the blood clot issue has resolved, but design flaws and fragmentation can render these filters impossible to remove. Individuals with a removable IVC filter that has fragmented and/or migrated are at an increased risk for severe complications, chronic pain, and even death. Symptoms of IVC filter failure can include but are not limited to: Rapid heartbeat Blood around the heart Difficulty breathing Nausea Vomiting blood Intermittent abdominal or back pain Gastric pain Have you or a family member been injured by an ICV filter? The manufacturers of IVC filters have repeatedly failed to warn the public about the potential risks associated with their devices. If you or a family member have suffered serious side effects from the use of an IVC filter, you may be entitled to compensation. Filters designed and produced by Bard Medical, Cook Medical, and Boston Scientific in particular have produced a high rate of failure for their devices. If you know or suspect that a faulty IVC filter was used to treat a blood clot issue in you or a family member, contact the Gerling Firm. An attorney experienced in medical products liability can help you understand your legal rights. Contact Gerling for a free case evaluation today.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | defective products

Airbag Recalls, Public Safety, and Your Legal Rights

The news about the Takata airbag recall seems to get worse and worse. In addition to the ever-expanding recall, news sources report that manufacturer Takata became aware of the issue in 2004 and yet continued to manufacture a faulty design regardless of data culled from crash reports. Similarly, in the wake of the GM recall earlier in 2014, data that should have been more closely examined by the NHTSA was instead ignored in favor of a quick out. If we cannot rely on manufacturers and watchdog groups to examine crash data and act in an appropriate manner to protect the public, where do we place our trust? It’s not as if manufacturers and public safety agencies don’t have access to solid data regarding crash statistics. There is a significant volume of information available, and qualified statisticians can examine this data to determine what action should be taken to protect the consumer. Unfortunately, this data is sometimes discounted or unexamined, for any number of reasons. What is the responsibility of the manufacturer? Vehicle components are manufactured by numerous outside companies. It is the responsibility of each manufacturer to design and test their components to meet established safety standards. It is also the responsibility of the car maker to heed the information provided by the manufacturer, in addition to data received from crash results. Component failures as a result of accidents are often examined by engineers at the manufacturer, as was the case at Takata in 2004. However, merely testing and examining the data does not always result in corrective action being taken on the manufacturer level. According to a story by the New York Times, Takata engineers conducted tests on deployed airbags in 2004 and determined that there was a significant design flaw that made the airbags extremely dangerous to vehicle occupants in a crash. Based on these findings, the Takata engineers began to redesign the airbag assembly, only to have their work abruptly stopped by company executives. The data accrued from these tests was ordered destroyed, and the manufacture of airbags continued to progress based on the original (though faulty) design. What is the responsibility of the NHTSA? Because cars continued to be manufactured with the Takata airbags as originally designed, a different set of data began to accrue from accident reports: persons injured or killed by exploding airbags. Car makers are required to report crash data to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), which is responsible for independently examining such data to identify trends. Accident data, when indicative of a trend, is used to determine if a recall is advised or necessary. While the data continued to mount regarding the airbag defect, the NHTSA instead chose to accept the assertion from Takata that the defect was the result of exposure to high humidity and therefore limited in scope – even after an initial recall of 4,000 Hondas for this issue, back in 2008. What happens when something falls through the cracks? The NHTSA sifts through a mountain of crash data every year and relies on car makers and component manufacturers to provide thorough information for assessment. Through the data provided and testing conducted by the NHTSA, recalls and advisories can be issued for a specific problem. However, the NHTSA can sometimes operate at a glacial pace, and recalls are not issued in a timely manner. This can be devastating to the general public. Can you depend on others to look out for public safety? Public safety can be a dicey business. Manufacturers balance safety with profit margins and must answer to shareholders. Oftentimes a problem such as the Takata airbag recall is so large and goes on for so many years that millions of consumers are put in harm’s way, just for the sake of company profitability. How important is it to seek out an individual to represent your interests? The question becomes, then, who can you trust to balance the scales in favor of your safety? This is where individuals such as attorneys step into the gap. An attorney versed in product liability laws can dive into the issue at hand and determine who is responsible and how far back that responsibility goes. While anyone can notice a problem and advocate for change, it is often those in the legal field who have the experience and depth of knowledge needed to make an immediate and long-lasting impact. Most attorneys are well aware of the reputation of the legal profession in today’s society, and yet the vast majority of lawyers out there wouldn’t dream of doing anything else for a living. Regardless of how society views the legal system, the fact remains that lawyers are champions of individual legal rights. We are committed to helping others solve problems that might seem overwhelming on the surface. So when an issue such as the Takata airbag recall begins to unspool in such a spectacular fashion, attorneys step in to assist individuals and their families in preserving their legal rights. The GM recall and the Takata airbag recall are prime examples of how a system designed to protect the public can be circumvented and rendered ineffective. Shoddy research and willful ignorance on the behalf of manufacturers and public safety groups can put individuals in danger, and it becomes the responsibility of attorneys to protect consumers. Hiring a lawyer means placing your trust in someone who has pledged to represent your interests, and it is a responsibility that your attorney takes very seriously.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | defective products

Massive Airbag Recall: Are You In Danger?

In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the In October 2014, a massive airbag recall of over 7.8 million vehicles was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over concerns that airbags from manufacturer Takata were faulty and dangerous. This recall covers numerous makes and models, affects vehicles worldwide, and continues to grow. Already this recall is substantially larger than the recent recall of GM vehicles; including vehicles worldwide, the recall currently affects 16.5 million automobiles. The Problem Airbags produced by manufacturer Takata contain a flaw that causes the airbag, when deployed, to inflate explosively, causing parts inside the airbag ignition system to break off. These parts, made of plastic and metal, effectively become shrapnel, puncturing the airbag’s fabric and seriously injuring the vehicle’s occupants. In affected Honda vehicles, rupturing airbags have contributed to two deaths and more than 30 injuries, with an additional 139 injuries reported from a varied collection of other manufacturers using the Takata airbags. The Cause There is particular urgency for vehicles located in high-humidity areas, such as the South, because the defect is associated with the airbag ignition source, which uses ammonium nitrate as a source for ignition and inflation of the airbag. Ammonium nitrate is sensitive to moisture, and it is suspected that the flaw in the affected airbags involves exposure of the compound to air-born moisture found in hot, humid areas. The NHTSA advises consumers living in hot, humid areas – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and US territories American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands – to have their vehicle inspected immediately. But regardless of where you live (and Southern Indiana can be hot and humid, too), assessing your vehicle’s risk for this recall should be done as soon as possible. The Legal Impact Happening so closely on the heels of the GM recall, the Takata airbag recall is alarming due to the incredible slowness of auto companies to respond to this defect. The issue with Takata’s airbags dates back to 2004, when Honda first noticed the defect and filed the necessary paperwork with the NHTSA. The defect was reported again in 2007, and continued to be reported as recently as 2009 and 2010, in which airbags deployed and exploded in minor accidents, severely injuring or killing vehicle occupants. Despite the reports filed as required by law, further investigation into the issue was limited at best. Only after Honda issued a second recall for the same issue did other automobile manufacturers begin to question the safety of the airbag products in use in their own product lines. According to a recent news article in the New York Times, when Takata became aware of the malfunction of its airbags in 2004, safety engineers at the company were ordered to conduct secret tests to determine the scope of the problem. The results of these tests led engineers to begin designing fixes for the issue in advance of a recall, but executives at Takata instead ordered testing data destroyed and maintained the existing airbag design. It was only after the growing body of evidence, several years in the making, pointed to a significant issue with the Takata airbag design that the NHTSA issued the airbag recall. Affected Models This recall affects more than 50 models manufactured between 2000 and 2011. The manufacturers include: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. The NHTSA recommends you check your vehicle’s VIN number to determine if your vehicle is one affected by this recall. You can check your VIN number here. If your vehicle is affected by the airbag recall If you determine that your vehicle’s airbags are affected by this recall, contact your dealer’s service department and make arrangements for the necessary repairs. If you’ve been injured If you, a family member, or friend have been involved in an auto accident in which your airbags have deployed and ruptured due to this defect, causing injury or death, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced attorney for a review of the facts of your case.

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