Courier Journal Article Highlights Winters & Yonker Case

Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

The Courier Journal has written an article on the lawsuit recently filed by a former client against Winters & Yonker.  The article looks in depth at the claim made by Sharon Langford.  The article focuses on the relationship between the law firm and the medical providers who treated Ms. Langford and the potential conflicts of interest that arise.

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Lawmaker Alleges Toyota Withheld Evidence in Lawsuits

More Trouble for Toyota

More Trouble for Toyota

Things have not been going well for Toyota and it looks like things just got much worse.  The AP has reported that House oversight committee chairman Edolphus Townes accused Toyota of “deliberately withholding key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.”  Towns wrote that Toyota chose to enter hefty settlements with plaintiffs to avoid disclosing the database, which the lawmaker said was referred to as the “Books of Knowledge.”

Toyota said in a statement that it is confident it acted appropriately in product liability lawsuits and it looks forward to addressing Towns’ concerns. The automaker said it is not uncommon for companies to object to demands for documents made in lawsuits. “Consistent with that philosophy, we take appropriate steps to maintain the confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets,” the statement said.

If true, the article discloses another example of corporate business choosing profits over people.  These allegations along with those by the NHTSB that Toyota did not disclose problems to regulators continues to create a portrait of a company that hid significant safety problems with its vehicles at the expense of gaining market share and becoming the number 1 automaker in the world.  Toyota’s path to number 1 is littered with the bodies of people who bought their cars.  Next time you hear someone talk about frivolous lawsuits and tort reform, you might want to mention Toyota.

I am glad these Plaintiff’s received hefty settlements, unfortunately, their silence contributed to Toyota’s ability to hide problems for a much longer time, presumably at the expense of other people injured or killed by their products.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more information comes to light showing that Toyota knew about the unintended acceleration problems with its vehicles but didn’t take any comprehensive action to warn its customers about it.  I do know that you can disclose information in lawsuits in a manner which protects the “confidentiality of competitive business information and trade secrets.”  Toyota’s decision to settle those cases instead of disclosing that information, speaks for itself.

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Winters & Yonker, PSC Sued by Former Client

Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

Kentucky Lawyers Defendants in Lawsuit

The former law firm Winters, Yonker & Rouselle, now known as Winters & Yonker, PSC and its principal attorneys, have been sued by a former client in Jefferson Circuit Court.  The law firm, along with 1st Physicians Rehabilitation, Inc. and its owner, are alleged to have had a relationship whereby the medical provider would refer clients to the law firm, who would then instruct the client to have all future medical treatment provided by facilities owned and operated by the medical provider who referred the client.

The Complaint alleges that neither the law firm nor the medical provider disclosed the true nature and extent of the relationship.  Furthermore, the client alleges that she was told by the law firm not to use her health insurance to pay for treatment.  The end result were medical liens held by the medical provider in higher amounts then the client otherwise would have paid had she used her health insurance.  When her settlement was reached, the client received less money then either the law firm or the medical provider, after payment of fees and expenses and medical liens.

The ultimate gripe by the client is that her lawyers and the medical providers were not acting in her best interest, but in their own interest to her detriment.  Of course, allegations in the Complaint give only the Plaintiff”s side of the story.

While there is nothing unusual about medical providers and attorneys referring clients in need of their services to one or the other, the purpose of these referrals should be for the benefit of the client.   If these allegations are true, they go well beyond the acceptable bounds of referral practice.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident and need the services of an accident attorney or a medical provider who specializes in accident injuries, do not be afraid to ask your lawyer or doctor if they know someone who can help.  However, if you have questions about the treatment you are getting from your medical provider or the advice you are getting from your lawyer, you should ask your doctor or lawyer to address those concerns immediately.  Don’t wait until your case is settled to find out the impact those concerns might have on your case.

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According to the Federal Government 34 “Deaths” Alleged in Toyotas Since 2000

Toyota's Acceleration Problems Lead to Deaths

Toyota’s Acceleration Problems Lead to Deaths

The Lexington Herald’s Kentucky.com reported on consumer data gathered by the federal government revealing 34 deaths linked to sudden acceleration in Toyotas since 2000.  Complaints related to acceleration in vehicles have surged in since Toyota’s recalls were announced.  According to the article:

The new complaints reflect the heightened awareness of the massive recalls among the public and underscore a flurry of lawsuits on behalf of drivers alleging deaths and injuries in Toyota crashes. Three congressional hearings are planned on the Toyota recalls.

In the past three weeks, consumers have told the government about nine crashes involving 13 alleged deaths between 2005 and 2010 due to accelerator problems, according to a NHTSA database. The latest reports are in addition to previous complaints from consumers that alleged 21 deaths from 2000 to the end of last year.

According to Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss the company takes, “all customer reports seriously and will, of course, look into new claims.” According to Voss, Toyota was taking steps to improve quality control and investigate customer complaints more aggressively.

The data by the federal government suggests that Toyota knew or should have known of acceleration problems as far back as 2000, yet waited until recently to issue a massive recall of vehicles.  This has led the federal government to question Toyota’s commitment to safety and has shed light on its secretive corporate culture that encourages quiet design changes each model year over embarrassing public recalls.  While this corporate climate may have allowed Toyota to gain market share over the past decade, it has turned into a public relations nightmare with no sign of letting up any time soon.  More embarrassing information is likely to come to light before this issue fades.  Whether it will have a long term impact on Toyota’s reputation is yet to be seen.

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Toyota’s Deadly Secrets?

MSN Money has an informative article on the recent spate of recalls by Toyota Motor Company, including regulator’s doubts of Toyota’s commitment to addressing safety defects.  According to MSN:

On Jan. 19, in a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., two top executives from Toyota Motor gave American regulators surprising news.

Evidence had been mounting for years that Toyota cars could speed up suddenly, a factor suspected in crashes causing more than a dozen deaths. Toyota had blamed the problem on floor mats pinning the gas pedal. Now, the two Toyota men revealed they knew of a problem in its gas pedals.

The article goes on to chronicle the tension between Toyota and federal regulators governed with overseeing the safety of cars.

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Kentucky Accident Information is Now Available on Your iPhone.

Access Accident Information Directly from Your iPhone.

Access Accident Information Directly from Your iPhone.

You can now directly access Kentucky Accident Information directly from your iPhone or iPod Touch.  Simply type “kyaccidentinfo.com” into your mobile phone web browser.  A new easy to use mobile version of Kentucky Accident Information will appear.  Access information regarding your car, truck, or motorcycle accident, post comments or questions, or contact The Brutscher Law Office about your accident from your mobile phone.

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Don’t Loan A Car–Not Even To Tiger.

Should You Loan Your Car?

Should You Loan Your Car?

MSN Money has a great article on the consequences of loaning a car to someone who is involved in an accident. Although the article takes a tongue and cheek look at the accident involving Tiger Woods, it provides helpful insight into what you can expect if you loan your car, and it is involved in an accident.

Perhaps most insightful is what happens if you loan your car to an uninsured driver.  If the uninsured driver who borrows your car causes the accident, your insurance will be 100% responsible for covering damages, including any injuries that occur.  If your uninsured friend is not responsible for the accident, but is injured, the other person’s insurance company will usually pay.  But what happens if the other driver is uninsured or carries too little insurance?

If you have uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage on your car, your insurance company will pay for your friend’s bodily injury.  In these cases, your friend is treated as an insured under the policy, just as you would be.  He would be entitled to the same benefits as you.

What happens if you don’t carry insurance?  If you loan your car to someone who doesn’t have insurance, you have created a worst case scenario.  Not only are you violating Kentucky law, you’re setting yourself up to be personally responsible and criminally liable for the damages caused by your uninsured friend, including repayment of some benefits, like PIP, that do not depend on fault.

If you must loan your car to someone, at least understand the consequences if your car is later involved in an accident.  Make sure that you carry sufficient insurance to protect you and your friend.  Under no circumstance should you drive or allow someone else to drive your car without insurance.

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Statistics Reveal Men Are Worse Drivers Than Women.

Men Worse Drivers Than Women?

Men Worse Drivers Than Women?

MSN Money posted an interesting article on the topic of which gender made for the worse driver.  According to government and insurance industry statistics men are more likely than women to break traffic laws, drive under the influence, and be involved in accidents, including fatal ones.  Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for women drivers.  One statistic in which they led men was the percentage of women who received a DUI.  While men typically had more DUIs than women, the percentage of women receiving DUIs was actually increasing, while the percentage of men receiving them actually declined.

While these general assumptions might determine which gender was the worst drivers, they didn’t necessarily transfer into lower insurance premiums for women.  Those were based on more specific factors, including an individual’s driving record and the insurance company.

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Happy Thanksgiving

The Brutscher Law Office would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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Two Pedestrians, Including One Teen, Killed While Crossing Streets

Pedestrians At Risk

Pedestrians At Risk

Two pedestrians, including one teen, were struck and killed by separate cars in Lexington, Kentucky.  It appears that both accidents may have happened at night or at times of low visibility.  No information existed on whether the accidents occurred at intersections or crosswalks or in low lighted areas.  One of the drivers faces pending criminal charges for hit and run.  No criminal charges were reported in the other accident.

I recently reported on the Louisville area’s poor ranking for pedestrian accidents.  These recent accidents show that pedestrian fatalities continue to be a concern.  However, the most striking result of the Courier Journal’s article is not the discussion on ways to improve the situation, but instead the discussion on who was to blame for the accidents.  I heard many comment that since they had observed pedestrians crossing traffic illegally at one time or the other, the pedestrians were to blame.  This argument is similar to comments I hear when the subject of bicycle fatalities arises.

Blaming the victims of these terrible accidents does nothing to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence.  Each accident is different and when it comes to blame, experience tells me there is plenty to go around.  While the lack of a citation may evidence a lack of criminal responsibility, it does not mean the accident was the pedestrian’s fault.  In fact, the driver may still face civil liability for the accident.

We have all experienced a situation where a pedestrian did not exercise the best judgment concerning where to cross, the type of clothing to wear, or the proper respect to show an oncoming car.  However, that fact alone does not excuse drivers from exercising caution or doing their best to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians.  This is true whether or not the pedestrian is exercising judgment for their own safety.  Ultimately, nothing will reduce these accidents, if pedestrians and drivers fail to respect each other’s right to use the roadway.

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