Langdon & Emison has litigated defective car seat cases for almost 30 years — here is the latest piece of news from the world of auto product defects.
Spring break season is upon us, which places many vacationers on U.S. highways for road trips to their destinations. If your spring break has yet to start and you’re planning to hit the highway soon, Langdon & Emison partner David Brose offers five simple tips for save travel.
This fall marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court argument in Baker v. General Motors, and a news piece that aired this fall on several broadcast affiliates takes a look at this precedential case. Baker was a Langdon & Emison victory described as influential in the law because it provided an answer to the question of whether expert testimony could be called upon from former employees.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released its 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. The guide is a compilation of data from the overall state of the industry to enforcement activity. The Pocket Guide incorporates and replaces the one-page data summaries, “Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts,” which were published occasionally over the past 10 years.
Takata has finally pleaded guilty to deceiving automakers about the safety of its airbags. This week's guilty plea by Takata in federal court, as well as the new accusations against automakers in a separate lawsuit, show that legal proceedings in the airbag scandal continue to move forward.
Langdon & Emison attorney Mark Emison published an article recently on establishing liability in roadway signage cases. The article, “Signage and Traffic Control Defects in Catastrophic Injury Cases,” appeared in the 2016 Winter Edition of AIEGVoice, a publication of the Attorneys Information Exchange Group.
Langdon & Emison partner Brett Emison recently published an article, "Screening for Auto Defects" in the November 2016 issue of Trial magazine, an American Association for Justice publication. Emison works routinely with attorneys across the United States to evaluate catastrophic injury and death cases for potential auto product defects.
"When handling auto crash cases, you must be diligent and identify all potential failures that resulted in injury--an auto defect may result in more serious injuries than would have occurred otherwise," Emison said.
In most cases, drivers carry only the minimum auto insurance that their states require, ranging from only $15,000 to $50,000. In these instances, negligent drivers are vastly underinsured, highlighting the critical importance of carefully evaluating every motor vehicle crash for a potential auto product defect.
According to Emison, there are four scenarios to consider when evaluating whether an auto defect contributed to an injury or death:
· A minor collision at residential speeds results in catastrophic injury or death.
· A single occupant is severely injured or killed while other occupants suffer minor, if any, injuries.
· Failure of or severe damage to a localized area of the vehicle.
· Seat-belted occupants are seriously injured or ejected.
The work conducted within the first few days or weeks after a client contacts an attorney is crucial for successfully identifying a product defect. Emison describes several types of auto defects that can contribute to a serious injury, including defective seatbacks, fuel-fed fires and defective tires.
“Every trial lawyer should screen an auto crash for potential auto defect claims,” Emison said. “You often can conduct an initial review with only an accident report and few photographs, though additional follow-up may be required.”
View Emison’s full article here, or listen to him talk about identifying auto product defect claims in this video.
About Brett Emison
Brett A. Emison is a partner at Langdon & Emison where his practice focused almost exclusively on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as class action and other complex tort cases. His experience and expertise spans an array of personal injury litigation, including auto product defects; railroad crossing accidents; trucking accidents; and defective drugs and medical devices. Mr. Emison is a member of the American Association for Justice Leaders Forum. Brett also serves on AAJ’s Publications Committee; PAC Board of Trustees; and its National Finance Council. Because of his vast experience, he is regularly published in national trade publications on product liability and other contemporary legal topics.
About Langdon & Emison
Langdon & Emison is recognized as one of the nation’s leading personal injury law firms, having taken on some of the world’s largest corporations on behalf of injured people and their families in courtrooms from coast to coast. Langdon & Emison represented the plaintiff in Baker vs. General Motors, a landmark lawsuit where for the first time evidence was admitted into court proving an automaker’s deliberate choice of profits over human safety. With offices in Lexington and Kansas City (Mo.), St. Louis, and Chicago, the firm has earned a national reputation as a leader in auto defect cases, trucking accidents and a full array of personal injury litigation.
Insurance companies have an obligation to protect the people they insure and consider their interests when handling claims. Far too often, insurance companies put their own interests ahead of those they insure, leaving their customers vulnerable to financial ruin through a judgment in excess of the insurance policy limits.
A Lafayette County, Mo., jury awarded $200,000 to client Cheryl Westerman for injuries sustained in a car crash. The defendant, Barbara Shogren, admitted fault for causing the September 12, 2008 crash. State Farm Insurance, who covered the driver with a $100,000 policy, had several chances to protect its customer and settle the conflict without subjecting her to the risks of trial. However, State Farm instead chose to place its own interests in front of its insured and offered only $25,000.
and led the Langdon & Emison trial team in this matter. Westerman and her husband were heading to a Friday matinee movie in Lexington, Missouri when the Shogren vehicle turned left in front of them, causing the crash. Westerman refused treatment from medical personnel at the scene, but suffered enough pain over the weekend that she immediately saw her primary care physician on Monday. Westerman’s treating physicians diagnosed her as having a cervical neck strain. Ms. Westerman also claimedpermanent knee injury. Following the crash, Westerman treated with her primary care physician and a neurosurgeon for her neck injury.
At trial, Westerman’s legal team proved that the crash caused significant injuries that required future care and treatment. Dr. Garth Russell, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that Westerman’s injuries were permanent and would require lifelong care – including epidural steroid injections and the possibility of neck surgery. Sheryl Bunce, a certified life care planner, testified regarding the costs of future care and treatment.
Counsel for Westerman offered an extensive life care plan calling for future care, though Westerman had not received substantial treatment following the crash. Over two and a half years, Westerman received 24 physical therapy treatments and had medical bills of around $10,000. Under the decision, the parties agreed to a stipulated exhibit informing the jury that $10,305 had been billed for past medical expenses, but only $2,765.54 had been paid.
“It is often difficult to prove causation and damages in soft tissue cases, particularly with an older client,” Emison said. “Defendants often point to natural degenerative changes that we all get as we age as a pre-existing condition and cause of the injury. In this case, the defense tried very hard to convince the jury that Mrs. Westerman’s injuries were the result of her age and pre-dated the crash. However, we were able to present excellent medical testimony refuting each of the pre-existing sources of injury raised by the defendant. Our experts and Mrs. Westerman’s treating doctors confirmed that her injuries were caused by this crash.”