Toyota is apparently not the only automobile manufacturer having trouble these days. According to ABC News, BMW has announced a voluntary recall of over one-hundred thousand vehicles, all of which could be on the road with faulty fuel pumps. The announcement came after news reports exposed the apparent problem, though BMW would not confirm that the recall was linked to any investigative efforts done by the media.
The recall follows hundreds of claims brought against the manufacturer alleging problems with the fuel pump. Most of these legal actions have led to settlements on the condition that BMW drivers sign a confidentiality agreement, which may explain why news of the problem has so far stayed under the radar of the mainstream media.
Plaintiffs attorneys would like to see these gag clauses lifted, or at least eased some. Their argument is that by silencing customers BMW is able to avoid necessary disclosures to customers and avoid warnings that some of their cars have a problem that makes them potentially dangerous.
The fact that BMW has voluntarily recalled approximately 150,000 vehicles is obviously a good start. But it would be better if the manufacturer did so with the kind of transparency contemplated by federal regulators and the law. Whatever short-term gain BMW believes it has by taking this route will most likely be lost should this recall expand. That’s the clear lesson from the Toyota recall and one the Minneapolis car injury Lawyers at Lord & Faris would have hoped other manufacturers had learned by now.
In one of the first disclosed settlements, Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four people killed in a runaway Lexus crash that led the automaker to recall millions of vehicles. The August 2009 crash killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer, his wife, their daughter and another passenger after their car reached speeds of more than 120 mph, struck a sport utility vehicle, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and then burst into flames. Investigators determined that the floor-mats were the wrong size and had caused the accelerator to stick.
According to reports the case was considered among the strongest of hundreds that have been filed against the manufacturer. Toyota and the plaintiffs had tried to keep the settlement amount private, but Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr ruled that the public’s right to know outweighed any concerns either side had about disclosing the settlement amount.
Our Minneapolis automobile accident attorneys are glad to see these cases start to come to resolution. The Toyota recall process has uncovered a lot of pain and tragedy, even here in Minnesota. The manufacturer’s slow response to chronic design flaws made an already troublesome situation far worse, and the fact that regulators were slow to step in only prolonged a process that should have been conducted with much greater speed and efficiency than it was. But what is important now is that the families have the opportunity to find some peace and others who have been injured by the manufacturer find some justice.
As part of the implementation of the health care reform bill the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced that it would require health insurance companies to disclose and justify any rate increases of 10 percent or more next year. The move is a bold step in the protection of consumers and one applauded by the Minneapolis attorneys at Lord and Faris.
According to reports, state or federal officials will review any such increases and determine whether or not the increase is reasonable. The reviews are designed to help rein in the kind of excessive and unreasonable rate increases that have become commonplace in the health insurance marketplace. Any insurer that shows a pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases can be excluded from the centralized insurance exchange, set to begin operating in each state by 2014.
This new regulation is designed to help control the cost of health insurance for American families. In recent years individual and small-group premiums have been increasing by far more than 10 percent a year on average and may increases far exceed national measures of medical cost inflation said federal officials.
Of course the insurance industry is not happy about the rule and insist that the administration and consumer advocates are ignoring the real factors that drive up costs. According to industry representatives, those factors include the power of doctors and hospitals to negotiate for higher reimbursement rates, new benefit mandates and the tendency of younger, healthier people to drop coverage, leaving sicker people in the insurance pool.
The state of Minnesota is stepping up efforts to combat traffic accidents and traffic fatalities with the launch of a new website dedicated to remembering those who lost their lives in an accident. The site, www.MinnesotaCrashVictims.org is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, once again putting Minnesota at the head of the pack in public health initiatives.
The goal of the site is to put a face and a story behind a statistic and to bring home the message that a traffic fatality can happen to anyone. The site can help the families of the victims remember their loved ones while they strive to make something positive and productive out of a senseless tragedy.
The launch of a site like this is especially welcome now as Minnesotans prep for spring and the inevitable onslaught of slushy roads and cabin fever. These often prove to be a dangerous combination, and one that only becomes more dangerous as teenagers finish school for the summer and find easier access to time and temptation.
The Minneapolis automobile accident attorneys of Lord & Faris know how important it is for families of the victims to feel as though their loved one did not die in vain. Hopefully participating in a site like this can help those families find some comfort and closure in their own lives. If even one accident is avoided and a life saved then the effort and expense of launching such a site will be worth it. In the meantime, please remember to drive safe as accidents can happen to anyone.
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The Law Firm of Lord & Faris is a Minneapolis and St. Paul based personal injury law office that works for individuals and families throughout Minnesota including the following cities: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Plymouth, Burnsville, St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, Edina, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Eagan, Richfield, Maplewood, Roseville, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Blaine, Lakeville, Woodbury, Duluth, Coon Rapids, Lino Lakes, North Oaks, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Minnetonka, Apple Valley, St. Cloud, Plymouth, Rochester, Wayzata, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Chaska, Mankato, Marshall, Hibbing, Brainerd.