Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Toyota’s Hard Road to Recover After their Global Vehicle Recall Woes

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Toyota has been one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles in the world. One of the best Japanese automakers, it has been enjoying sales successes not just on their domestic market in Japan, but also in other countries. Toyotas are preferred by car buyers from the first world countries, even the developing ones.

One of the brand’s strong qualities is its dependability and reliability. Its vehicles are relatively easy to maintain and can really go the distance. As shown in one of Top Gear UK’s episodes, a Toyota vehicle, a Hilux pick-up in particular, still has managed to run and continue functioning in spite of all the harsh things done to it by the show’s presenters. When one thinks about a durable and dependable car, the brand that first comes to mind is Toyota.

However recently, the carmaker has been facing a lot of problems about its cars’ quality. Remember the dreaded Toyota recalls?  In late 2009, the carmaker had started conducting recalls of various models in the US and other countries across the globe.

As of October 10, 2012, the Japanese carmaker has already recalled millions of vehicles for various faults. This has spawned a number of complaints from its millions of affected customers. This also led to the filing of a number of class suits against the auto giant.

Consequently, the recalls have affected Toyota’s standing in the global market. From being the number 1 automaker in the entire world, the brand has dropped a couple of places, falling behind General Motors and the Ford Motor Company.

Also, Toyota is also currently facing several cases after victims from accidents caused by the vehicle defects. In Los Angeles alone, customers have hired their respective Los Angeles accident attorney and filed cases against the carmaker.

And so, after a series of investigations held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Toyota has formally agreed to pay $17.35 million in civil penalties. This is the maximum fine allowable under the law. The biggest Japanese automaker was asked to pay the fine after it failed to report safety defects to the federal government in time. Additionally, this action is the single highest civil penalty amount to be paid to the agency for violations stemming from a vehicle recall.

So how can you avoid ending up getting a defective vehicle? There are a lot of ways that can help you with choosing the vehicle you’d buy. Informing yourself is the key. You can read online reviews, or check owners’ forums so you can see the issues that the vehicle you’re eying has.

So as a discerning customer, you should be more careful with the choices that you make. Before giving up that hard-earned money, make sure that you nothing but the best to stay away from lemons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ESC Saves Lives

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You have probably heard of the terminology ‘Electronic Stability Control’ fitted on modern day cars. But you are also probably asking: does it really help in making your vehicle safer? Basically, ESCs are technological gizmos that are installed in your vehicle that helps ensure your vehicle has the maximum grip at all times.

How does the ESC work?

The faster your vehicle runs, the more that it can lose that all-important grip to keep it in control at all times. When it does lose grip, your vehicle will skid and it will be harder, if not impossible, for you to steer it to wherever you want it to go.

There are a number of factors that affect the vehicle’s grip. Heavy rain and uneven roads are the usual culprits as to why vehicles lose control on the road. Furthermore, the wrong driver attitude or lack of advanced skills can make a motorist apply the right corrective action to bring back vehicle control.

This is where the ESC system kicks in. This device has computers that get vital information about your vehicle. Depending on the situation, the system automatically applies the brakes or power to the wheels with the most grip, helping you control your vehicle better. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered the deployment of this new safety feature for all light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles since September 1, 2011.

Benefits of the ESC

According to the NHTSA’s three-year study released last November 30, 2012, the agency estimated that ESC alone has saved 2,202 lives from 2008 to 2010. In the year 2008, 634 lives have been saved by this new technology. Another 705 deaths were avoided in 2009 and some 863 more in 2010. These growing number of people saved because of this new technology only prove that the device is an effective deterrent to fatal accidents.

That is why the NHTSA is strongly urging the public to consider vehicles that are fitted with this technology. Buyers can go and visit to check out vehicles from 2005 – 2010 that are fitted with ESCs. To make searching easier for consumers, they can look for individual makes and models in the abovementioned site.

ESC on all cars plying by American roads

The NHTSA published a rule in April 2007 establishing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126, requiring automotive manufacturers to fit all passenger cars, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), vans, and pickup trucks with ESC. Additionally, the agency is now proposing a newer federal motor vehicle safety standard that will be requiring the installation of ESC on large commercial trucks, as well as large buses. This new measure aims to prevent some 56 percent of rollover crashes every year and up to around 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes.

Nothing beats good, safe driving practices

ESCs and other active and passive safety systems may help prevent or lessen the extent of injuries and damages brought about by car crashes. Incidentally, every  Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers also knows that practicing good and safe driving habits is always necessary.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Some Social Security Beneficiaries Aren’t Sold with the Electronic Mode of Payment

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Starting March 1, 2013, the Social Security will stop sending most paper Social Security checks via mail to beneficiaries. What will happen is that recipients will have to switch to the electronic mode of payment, in which they’d either have to sign in for direct deposit using a bank account or through a debit card issued by the Treasury Department.

Said date is not too far from now. In fact, any beneficiary who fails to make the switch to electronic payments before March 1 may force the Department to send the monthly benefits through a Direct Express card program. That way, there would be no interruption on the flow of payments.

For the Social Security Administration (SSA), the transition from the print to the digital form of sending monthly benefits is a way to cut down huge costs, especially with the usage of paper in mailing out checks. Moreover, this switch from paper to electronic payments would lessen the occurrences of lost or stolen checks, therefore protecting the monthly benefits every beneficiary receives.

While millions of Social Security recipients in the U.S. have already switched from paper to electronic payments long before the March 1 deadline, there are still a small number of them who still stick to the paper checks they regularly received on their mailboxes. Many senior citizens, to be specific, are not too impressed with the idea.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based organization Consumers for Paper Options president Paul Runyan, many of the senior citizens who have been content with having their Social Security checks mailed don’t have any access to financial services. He asserted that they must be given due consideration, and that they should not be forced to switch to electronic deposits, which, for seniors, are uncomfortable and may possibly confuse them.

Fortunately for the SSA, it won’t penalize recipients who may miss the March 1 deadline, saying that it won’t stop sending them paper checks. However, the federal agency may have to ask them to have a pre-paid debit card that is credited every month with their monthly payments.

Incidentally, Los Angeles Social Security claim lawyers think that it would be for the best interest of the recipients to sign up for the electronic payments right away before the deadline.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Newest U.S. Pedestrian Accident Statistics

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Pedestrian accidents account to only a small percentage of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that some 4,432 people who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2011 were pedestrians. This was a 3 percent increase from the previous, in which the NHTSA recorded 4,302.

Meanwhile, the number of injuries in pedestrian accidents reached approximately 69,000; a 1.4 percent decrease from the previous year, which stood at around 70,000. With these statistics, it is reasonable to conclude that many pedestrians right now are nowhere safe with vehicles around, especially in big cities such as Los Angeles in California.

In fact, the pedestrian activity in the second-largest city in the U.S. account to 20 percent of road activity. Sadly, it was revealed that the so-called “City of Angels” had three times as many pedestrian fatalities as the national average, which stands at 11.4 percent.

Indeed, getting involved in an accident while you walk on a sidewalk or use the crosswalk can be devastating. If you live in Los Angeles and you regularly travel on foot to work or school, then you must know that you are entitled to monetary compensation in case you have been injured in an accident.

If you want to claim for damages in a pedestrian accident, it is a must that you seek the expertise of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyers. Basically, pursuing a claim in such an unfortunate incident can be complicated, as this involves hard work with your chosen legal representative.

As it is, there is paperwork involved, as well as investigations to help establish the negligence of the liable party involved in the accident. Also, your claim is negotiated with the insurance company of the liable party. With your chosen attorney, he or she will do his or her best to successfully settle your pedestrian accident claim without resorting to litigation.

As you know, litigation may take a long time to settle, and this may involve legal fees that may be too much for you to handle. More importantly, you must cooperate with your attorney to ensure that you obtain the best compensation you deserve.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Avoiding Rain-induced Car Mishaps on the Road

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Time and again, the government has been making repeated calls for motorists to be very careful when out on the road driving. Just last year, excessive rains in the Southern California have caused multiple accidents. The drivers and victims of these vehicles may have already talked with a Los Angeles car accident attorney for insurance claims.

These accidents were due to the continuous rains that happened in the SoCal area last year. As it is, rains can cause the roads to be slippery. Water on roads cause hydroplaning that leaves a vehicle with little or no grip at all.

This consequently leads to loss of traction and ultimately accidents. So does this mean that one has to stop driving when it is raining? Of course not! All you have to do is follow these very useful tips that will let you drive through the most torrential downpours minus the accidents.
  • Slow down. When the roads are wet, chances are it is more difficult to put the vehicle to a stop. Driving slowly gives you more time to slow your vehicle down, helping you avoid mishaps.
  • Stay in the middle lanes. Rainwater tends to pool on the road’s outer lanes. This lessens the chances of your vehicle hydroplaning.
  • Give enough driving distance to the vehicle in front of you. This gives you more time to react, slow down, and steer your vehicle away from accidents.
  • Try to drive on the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. These tracks have probably less water, enabling you to enjoy much grip.
  • Stop tailgating. It doesn’t only give you less time to react when the vehicle in front of you suddenly slows down. The water mists from the vehicle in front of you impairs your vision.
  • Be alert. Watch out for brake lights and other things on the road. This lets you do the right things that needed when emergency situations arise.
  • Employ engine braking. Take your foot off the accelerator to slow down instead of using the brakes. Brakes can lock up your wheels, causing you to lose grip. If you need to slow down, use the brakes with minimal braking force.
  • Turn your headlights, fog lights, and/or the hazard lamps when raining. This increases your visibility on the road, letting you steer away from road hazards and helps others avoid you.
  • Never drive through water if you can’t see the ground through it. If it is moving, your car could be swept. If it is not, your vehicle might stall.

The thing is these accidents could have been avoided if the drivers have only exercised proper driving habits. Officer Adam Eggleston of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), in an interview with the ABC said that “we believe it was just the rain” and warned drivers to “really reduce speed”. So follow the above-mentioned tips to ensure your safety when driving through the heaviest of downpours.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rise in Seat Belt Use: Something to be Thankful For

Los Angeles Car Accident
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Among the many blessings that we received last year, and that was the fact that seatbelt use among Americans hit record-highs, particularly during Thanksgiving weekend. According to one of the recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), use of seatbelts has reached an all-time high of 86 percent in 2012.

Based on the NHTSA’s yearly National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), seatbelt use has been on the rise since 1994. Just last year, the use of seatbelts in the United States was recorded at 84 percent before hitting this record-breaking milestone. In the many years of the NOPUS, the NHTSA has noticed that there has been an upward trend with the use of seat belts among vehicle occupants in the US.

Highlights of the NHTSA report

Three out of the four regions in the country saw increases in seat belt use in this latest report. Specifically, the one that enjoyed the biggest improvement is the southern region of the country, in which seat belt rose to 85 percent in 2012; a 5-percent increase from the previous year.

Meanwhile, people living in the western parts of the country still have the highest percentage of seat belt use at 94 percent, a 1-percent increase since 2011. However, the Northeast area of the United States saw no increase in the use of seat belts despite the NHTSA’s efforts in promoting them.

Additionally, seat belt use remained high in states that have primary belt laws. In these states, a law enforcement operative can issue citations to erring motorists. This is deemed more effective than requiring additional traffic violations before any form of disciplinary action can be meted to offenders.

NHTSA’s reaction

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland thanked the agency’s state and local partners for the success of its various campaigns for seat belt use. The ‘Click It or Ticket’ program has been making steady gains in belt use year after year. He added that these successes will be vital in finding more ways to come with “multi-faceted approach”; that is through the “enactment of good laws, the effective enforcement of said laws, and an effective public information drive and awareness”.

To begin with, some 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed primary laws that require the use of seat belts. On the other hand, another 17 states have come up with secondary laws. So far, the only state so far that has not enacted a primary or secondary seat belt law is New Hampshire. However, the state’s primary child passenger safety law applies to all drivers, as well as passengers under the age of 18.

So would you still risk not wearing your safety belts and be a victim of severe injuries caused by accidents? Would you still want to end up seeking the help of a Los Angeles car accident lawyers to help you seek for damages brought by these injuries? Or would you rather find something to be thankful for in the next Thanksgiving Day for staying safe by adhering to the NHTSA’s plea of simply wearing your seatbelt? Well, the choice is yours, my friend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

About Winterizing Your Car

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Winter season may be over, but it doesn’t mean you should not keep yourself well-prepared. Regardless of the weather or the climate outside, it still pays for you to keep your car in tip-top condition.

Being prepared keeps you away from accidents, but you should know that this is not a guarantee that you’ll stay mishap-free for the rest of your driving days. There is a possibility that you may get involved in one, especially if it is due to someone else’s negligence.

If that is the case, then you may want to seek the expertise of a  Los Angeles car accident attorney.

Meanwhile, here are some tips on how you can winterize your car, helping it become safer in the coldest nights of winter.

•    Prepare and keep an emergency kit. Bring with you a spare tire, bottles of engine oil, washer fluid, coolant, and anti-freeze. Put an emergency kit inside the glove compartment. Carry an ice scraper. All of these things can help you stay away from trouble when the going gets tough.
•    Make sure your car’s working well. A car in top shape helps prevent accidents from happening.
•    Replace wipers and wiper fluid. See the road ahead clearly, all the time. Make sure that the wiper mechanism works and you’ve got enough amounts of washer fluid.
•    Check the car’s defrosting and heating units. Make sure that the car’s window defroster and cabin heater in good, working condition. These help keep the windows clear from fogs and the car’s cabin warm.
•    Gas up. Keeping your fuel tank full to the brim helps prevent condensation and water inside the tank. Water in the tank and fuel lines, more than being bad for the engine, can freeze up and clog down these vital components.
•    Load up on antifreeze. This keeps the coolant from freezing that retards coolant circulation and worse, overheating. With this in your cooling system, you’re assured of perfect engine temperature and operation during the coldest of winter.
•    Check the oil and its viscosity. The right amount of oil and viscosity helps keep the engine lubricated and running well. Winter can have the oil thicken and have problems lubricating your engine. Filling up with oil with the right viscosity helps ensure optimum engine protection.
•    Check the battery. The cold winter is tough on the engine and the battery. Make sure that it is in the best condition for worry-free winter motoring.
•    Check your tires. Does it have the right tire pressure? The cold weather can cause the tire pressure to drop. Fill it up with air if needed and deflate if the pressure’s too high. The right tire pressure ensures optimum grip to avoid accidents. Given the season, you should also consider replacing all-weather tires with special winter tires for safer drives.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Calculating for Your Personal Injury Damages

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No matter how good one takes care of his or herself, accidents are bound to happen. When it does, they leave him or her sustaining injuries. With these injuries, the victim may end up either physically, or mentally unable to work. How can one pay for your bills, help you survive with your daily life, as well as have yourself treated and rehabilitated well?

Given this predicament, one has no choice but to file for a personal injury claim. By doing so, he or she would be able to receive compensation for his or her injury, helping him or her get by with each day and recover from his or her injuries.

Basically, personal injury is one of the most tort claims in the United States. Every year, Americans file their claims for personal injury after being involved in different kinds of accidents.

As it is, filing a personal injury claim is not easy. You have to go through a lot of difficult steps before the ball starts rolling, and have your claims processed. But how much can you get out of these claims?

Insurance companies are compensating personal injury victims in different ways. It could be for any of the following reasons:

•    Payment of medical care and expenses;
•    The equivalent amount of income you’ve lost because of the accident;
•    Support for permanent disability or disfigurement;
•    Damages for family, social, and educational experiences;
•    Damages for the stress, embarrassment, depression, strains in your family relationship, or other emotional damages; and
•    Payment for property damage related to the injury.

But just how do they compute the amount of the damages you’d receive?

•    The company adds up the total of medical expenses including “medical special damages” and “general damages”. 
•    This amount is multiplied by the depending on the graveness of the damage. It starts from lows of 1.5 to 2, to as much as 5. For severe damages, the amount may be multiplied by as much as 10.
•    The adjuster adds on the amount of income one has lost as a result of his or her injury. Then, your lost income is added.

The methodology given doesn’t yield the final amount though. Instead, that would be the mean amount where the negotiations will begin. The most important part is the factoring in of the “percentage of fault” between the defendant and the plaintiff, which is not an exact science.

To ensure that you will receive a bigger amount as payment for the damages you suffered, you must hire the services of a reputable personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. A legal counsel can give you good legal advice to help mount a stronger, more credible claim. This way, you can get a bigger amount that can help secure both you and your family’s future.