Archive for February, 2012

Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires recalled after fatal wreck in Texas

The tragic deaths of two young Texans last August has prompted a major tire manufacturer to recall about 41,000 of its tires manufactured in 2009. Matthew Smith (21) and Kerrybeth Hall (18) from Port Lavaca, Texas died when the tread came apart on the front tire of Smith’s Ford F-150 pickup truck, which caused the pickup to go into a side skid and then overturn. The tires that are the subject of the recall are the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires, used on vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

The concern is that the Wrangler Silent Armor tire could tear, increasing the risk of a crash. During a May 2010 review Goodyear noted an increase in warranty and property damage claims, subsequently reporting this by letter to federal regulators. In a February 22 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Goodyear said: “A small number of tires within this population may experience a partial tread separation under certain severe usage conditions. Use of these tires in severe conditions could result in partial tread separation which could lead to vehicle damage or a motor vehicle crash.”

Goodyear decided to recall the tires on February 16, based on an analysis of warranty and damage claims and discussion with safety regulators. Goodyear plans to send notices to customers by March 22. The Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires affected by the recall can be identified by the following Department of Transportation serial codes, also known as tire identification numbers, which can be found on the sidewall:

PJ0UY5HV0909 through PJ0UY5HV2209
PJAB35HV0909 through PJAB35HV2209
PJ4335HV0909 through PJ4335HV2209
PJ1535HV0909 through PJ1535HV2209
PJAH35HV0909 through PJAH35HV2209
PJLHL6HV0909 through PJLHL6HV2209

If you have been injured due to the failure of a Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor or other motor vehicle tire, contact Houston injury attorneys Smith & Hassler for an analysis of your products liability case. It is important to preserve the failed tire intact whenever possible so it can be examined by suitably qualified experts.

Sheila Cronk and Justin Springer victims of wrong way driver on Highway 59

Channel 2 is reporting on a major accident that occurred over the weekend claiming the lives of two young people; alcohol involvement has yet to be ruled out. Sheila Cronk and Justin Springer, both age 26, were pronounced dead at the scene of the Highway 59 head-on collision. Sheila and Justin’s car crashed head-on into a Jeep Wrangler that was traveling the wrong way on Highway 59 early Sunday morning in the Stafford area. Ms. Cronk and Mr. Springer were from Lincoln, Nebraska. The driver of the Jeep was taken to hospital though the news report does not indicate his condition. Officials say alcohol may have played a role in the deadly crash however no charges have been filed yet.

The Houston Chronicle’s article on the accident is available here and identifies the Jeep driver as 45-year old Roy Armstrong of Houston. Family members of Sheila and Justin indicated the two had been in Mexico and were on their way back to Nebraska at the time of the crash. Sheila Cronk’s Facebook page indicates Sheila was trained as a nurse and worked at the LTACH Unit at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraksa. Channel 13’s report is here.

What a terrible, terrible tragedy for the families of these two young people. Family and friends of Sheila’s mother Janet Klapperich Cronk have been posting condolence messages since Ms. Klapperick Cronk posted a link to a news story on the crash to her Facebook page midday Sunday along with the message: “This is my daughter Sheila Cronk and her good friend Justin Springer….we just got the news early this morning….they went down to houston for a friends wedding.

This Jeep Wrangler collided head-on with the car on Highway 59. The Jeep was traveling the wrong way.

Sheila Cronk (26) of Lincoln, Nebraska.

18-wheeler faulted for major accident on Dallas tollway

A major accident involving a big rig caused traffic to grind to a halt in Dallas on Thursday and investigators have concluded the 18-wheeler was to blame. The wreck caused several accidents on the tollway and the ramp from Interstate 635 on to the Dallas North Tollway was closed. Evidently there is video footage showing how the accident happened and investigators are blaming the 18-wheeler’s excessive speed. The big rig crossed 3 lanes of traffic, flipping onto its side and crushing a car. The 18-wheeler also struck an SUV pushing into over the concrete median and into the path of oncoming traffic. The truck driver was uninjured and the drivers of the crushed car and SUV were taken to hospital, but fortunately do not appear to have suffered life threatening injuries.

The driver of this car is lucky to be alive. A speeding 18-wheeler flipped onto the car, crushing it.

Since it appears to have been established through video evidence that the 18-wheeler was at fault for this serious accident, presumably the 18-wheeler company’s insurer will not challenge any claims on liability (in other words, they will likely not try to claim the 18-wheeler was not at fault). What the insurer may attempt to do however is secure early settlements with those injured in this accident due to the 18-wheeler driver’s negligence. Early settlements such as these, even in less severe collisions, are always a bad idea. Automobile accident victims should always make sure their injuries are fully understood before ever considering settling a claim. Once a release is signed there is no coming back later seeking more money for necessary medical treatment. Smith & Hassler has litigated hundreds of trucking accidents, including wrongful death claims against 18-wheeler companies. Smith & Hassler attorneys Roger Sullivan and Daragh Carter were in trial this month in Harris County, Texas on an 18-wheeler accident case. If you have been injured due to the negligence of an 18-wheeler driver, call Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.

Channel 11 investigates tow truck rip offs after Houston car accidents

Here is a link to an interesting story posted on Channel 11’s web site on February 23, 2012 discussing how some unscrupulous tow truck drivers in Houston are taking advantage of car crash victims. The City of Houston and Harris County place a cap on the amount a tow truck company can charge for moving a vehicle after an accident, however in some cases tow truck drivers and storage lots are turning what should have been a maximum $150 tow into thousands of dollars of expense for the car accident victim.

In the Channel 11 article Houston driver Ryan Haley talks about his experience after his Toyota was rear-ended and ordered to be towed by police. His vehicle was towed to Vickery Auto Storage, located off East Mount Houston Road near Highway 59. The morning after the accident he signed papers presented to him by the storage lot: Ryan claims it not honestly explained to him that he was actually signing papers to have his vehicle repaired at City Wide Collision Center, a repair facility that is owned by the same man who owns Vickery Auto Storage.

When the Haley’s insurance company came to pick up the vehicle (which was deemed a total loss and not repairable), Vickery Auto Storage reportedly charged $2,000: labor, a “yard/gate fee”, storage and a $370 tow charge. “The consumer is very, very vulnerable,” said Monica Russo, Investigations Manager of the Houston Better Business Bureau. The BBB gives Vickery Auto Storage and City Wide Collision Center an “F” grade for unresolved consumer complaints.

If you are involved in a car accident Texas law says you have a right to decide where your vehicle is repaired. You should promptly report the accident to your own insurance company, even if you do not plan to file a claim with them. Your insurance contract requires you promptly notify the insurer of an accident so they have an opportunity to investigate. Your insurance company should be able to give you some guidance regarding towing and storage charges to help you avoid some of the problems mentioned in the Channel 11 investigation.

Also remember that you do NOT have to agree to have your vehicle towed to whatever storage lot the tow truck drivers wants to take it to. Tow companies make money towing vehicles but, as the Channel 11 news story makes very clear, they make a lot more money on storing vehicles and repairing them. Put another way, in many cases the tow truck driver will be actively working to get you to agree to have your vehicle taken to a particular storage lot so they can get the repair work. You probably wouldn’t let a complete stranger decide where you went to dinner, so why would you let one decide where to repair your vehicle?

Smith & Hassler has helped thousands of car accident victims over our 20+ years in business.

Robert Scruggs killed by suspected drunk driver on Highway 105

An overnight car accident has claimed the life of 42-year old Robert Scruggs, and police are saying a drunk driver is to blame. The chain of events apparently started when a car failed to yield the right-of-way when exiting a private driveway on Highway 105 near Conroe (according to the Texas Transportation Code, a vehicle leaving a private driveway must yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling on the main lanes). That car hit Robert Scruggs’ white pickup truck, wrecking it an trapping him inside. While witnesses to the original accident were trying to help Robert get out of his vehicle about 3-4 minutes later, Kenneth Nichols heading eastbound on Highway 105 struck the rear of Scrugg’s pickup causing Robert to be ejected. Scruggs died at the accident scene and Kenneth Nichols was arrested for intoxication manslaughter. The Houston Chronicle’s story on the accident is here, and gives the location of the accident as near McCaleb Road, and the time of the accident as approximately 8:30pm. Channel 2’s story is here.

Pickup truck involved in fatal crash on Highway 105 on February 22, 2012

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) car accidents seem to happen every single night in the Houston area and throughout Harris County.  Sadly Harris County Texas ranks among the highest counties in the nation for drunk driving fatalities anddrunk driving accident injuries year after year.  Drunk driving car accidents often create even more complications for the victim than a regular car accident: insurance companies usually won’t pay a claim or provide a rental car until they speak to their insured driver and get their version of what happened. The insurance companycan’t do that if their insured was charged with DWI and is in jail. Call Smith & Hassler if you have been injured by a drunk driver’s gross negligence and ask for speak to one of our personal injury attorneys right now.  Smith & Hassler aggressively pursues claims against drunk drivers.

METRO bus accident on North Freeway may have involved drunk driver

Sunday February 19, 2012: five people were hospitalized after a crash involving a METRO bus on the North Freeeway. According to officials there was an initial collision around noon between a car and a truck; the car spun around and hit the METRO bus head-on. The truck veered off the freeway where it went into the parking lot of Northline Mall and struck several other vehicles. One witness who was in a van struck by the out of control truck, Kasandra Loera, reported seeing beer in the pickup truck. One bus passenger, two people in the car and two others were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries. The driver of the truck is being investigated for possible DWI. Channel 2’s coverage of the METRO bus accident is here. Channel 2’s story identifies the truck involved as a Dodge pickup and the car that spun out and collided with the bus as a Honda Accord. Channel 13’s coverage of the crash is here.

Suspected drunk driver rear-ends police car at Unity and Hillcroft

Channel 13 is reporting that a suspected drunk driver caused a rear-end collision involving an HPD police car at a red light at around 1:00am on Friday February 17, 2012. The driver, who was thought to be highly intoxicated, crashed into the back of one car and pushed it forward into the police car. The driver was arrested for suspected DWI. The news report did not mention whether anyone was injured in the accident.

Smith & Hassler aggressively pursues settlements on behalf of clients hurt by drunk drivers, and this law firm has no interest in low-ball offers on cases against intoxicated drivers. If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, do not allow an insurance adjuster talk you into taking too little, too soon. Speak with a Smith & Hassler personal injury trial attorney and make sure you understand your rights.

Hit and run driver critically injures bicyclist on FM529

At around 10:15pm on Tuesday February 14 a hit-and-run driver struck and seriously injured a bicycle rider who was crossing FM529 in northwest Harris County. The accident happened near FM529 and Log Cradle Drive. The victim was hit so hard by the car that he was knocked out of his shoes; the victim remained in the roadway until several minutes after the accident when he was discovered and someone called the Sheriff’s department. The unidentified white male bicyclist was taken to Memorial Hermann where he was in critical condition; unfortunately there is no description of the hit-and-run vehicle.

Smith & Hassler has represented thousands of injured Texans over our more than 20-years in business. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident you can speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer for a no-cost assessment of your case, either by phone or in-person.

Car accident near Houston Galleria sends one woman to hospital

At around Sunday morning a single car accident near the Galleria sent one woman to the hospital. A white vehicle that appears to be a minivan or SUV slammed into a tree when the driver lost control at a sharp curve as she traveled from the West 610 Loop onto Hidalgo at around 2:00am. A female passenger was transported to Ben Taub in stable condition.

Multi-vehicle wreck on US290 near Mangum – one person killed

A multi-vehicle wreck on US290 today has left one person dead. The wreck happened around 3:00pm: all three lanes of the freeway were shut down as emergency services worked the scene. FOX News Houston is reporting that five vehicles were involved in the accident, and that it appears an older model Chevrolet pickup truck sustained heavy driver’s side damage and was leaking fluid. A blue four-door car also sustained heavy damage. Channel 2 News’ account of the accident relates that the deceased person was driving a Ford Taurus, and the Taurus driver caused the collision by swerving across the freeway.