Man Charged with Felony Fraud for Faking a Slip on a Banana Peel

It is a classic vaudeville trope: hapless pedestrian slips on an errant banana peel, taking a broad slapstick fall to the delight of the audience. It might be a surprise to learn that this type of injury is somewhat based in fact. Grocery stores and other venues have been successfully sued for negligence for failing to timely clean up a banana peel. However, it does not work if the banana peel was planted by the supposed victim.

This past August, Maurice Owens allegedly slipped and fell on a banana peel exiting an elevator at a Metro stop in Washington, DC. He filed a $15,000 lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the body that governs the Metro and its stations. However, NBC 4 Washington reports that surveillance video footage from the elevator clearly shows that Owens himself planted the banana peel shortly before the alleged slip-and-fall. Owens’ lawsuit has been dismissed, and he now faces second-degree fraud charges.

The Law of Slip-And-Fall

Negligence lawsuits all depend on whether someone had a duty to the injured party, and whether that duty was breached, resulting in the injury. When dealing with slip-and-fall injuries, the area of law is called “premises liability.” The person or people in charge of maintaining the premises are liable for certain injuries suffered by the people on the premises, depending on what category of visitor they fall into.

There are three kinds of visitor for the purposes of premises law: licensee, invitee, and trespasser. A trespasser is someone who is on the premises without permission. The caretaker of the premises owes a trespasser very little duty. Basically, the caretaker must refrain from doing anything deliberately to harm the trespasser. If the trespasser gets injured while on the premises, that is the trespasser’s fault, and he cannot sue the caretaker.

An invitee is someone who is on the premises with permission for the invitee’s own benefit. Think of guests at a party. If the invitee is injured by a condition the caretaker had actual knowledge of, the caretaker is liable for the injury. The caretaker is not liable, however, for dangerous conditions he did not know about.

A licensee is someone on the premises with permission for the benefit of the owner or lessee of the premises. Licensees include customers in a supermarket, or ticket holders at a train station. Not only is the caretaker liable for dangers he knew about, but he has a duty to inspect the premises and remove risks that he either discovers or could have reasonably discovered. If a banana peel has been left to rot and get slippery, and someone falls and is injured as a result, the caretaker is liable for the injury.

Premises Liability and You

If you are a legitimate victim of a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, as well as your loss of income and other damages. An experienced DC Metro area attorney can collect evidence, depose witnesses, and build a case so you can get the results you deserve. If you have been injured, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today.

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New C. Diff Treatment May Be On the Horizon

 C. diff is a disease that, if misdiagnosed through medical malpractice, can result in permanent damage. However, researchers in the UK are seeking clinical trials for a treatment for C. diff that could radically reduce the number of deaths and injuries from the disease. Medical News Today reports that scientists have isolated bacteriophage (bacteria-eating) viruses that can specifically target C. diff bacteria, while sparing bacteria that is neutral or beneficial. While these developments are promising, the threat from C. diff is currently very real.

The Disease

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that spreads in the intestines. It releases a toxin that causes damage, resulting in numerous symptoms. In healthy patients, the symptoms tend to be minor. However, the bacterium affects in-patients and those with compromised immune systems more severely.

The most common difficulty arises when a patient in the hospital begins taking antibiotics to combat infection. C. diff is antibiotic-resistant, and will survive the use of most antibacterial drugs. The intestines, however, is home to many types of bacteria, some of them beneficial. The difficulty with antibiotics is that they do not differentiate between bacteria, and thus will kill the beneficial bacteria. This creates an imbalance in the bacteria, and C. diff becomes more problematic. C. diff, left unchecked, will cause a disease called colistridium difficile colitis, and the symptoms range from the relatively mild (diarrhea, mild pain) to severe (extreme pain, necrosis of the intestine, death).

The Treatment

There are two main treatments for C. diff. C. diff is vulnerable to certain antibiotics over others. Doctors have found that changing the antibiotic prescription of a patient as soon as the C. diff bacteria are found can help combat the symptoms. Failing to timely diagnose and change the prescription has been grounds for malpractice suits.

Because C. diff only really begins causing damage through the imbalance between it and other, beneficial bacteria in the intestines, doctors have developed treatments aimed at increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria. One such treatment is eating probiotic food, such as yogurt. Ingesting pills containing material that has been culled from human feces may even out the imbalance in the intestine as well. These treatments have met with mixed success.

The new treatment based on bacteriophage virus is promising. The UK researchers who have isolated the virus are optimistic. They are seeking trials for the treatment, and they hope to see an effective treatment based on these viruses within the next 5 to 10 years.

C. Diff and You

Until this treatment is viable, the traditional treatments are effective enough. However, the true enemy in C. diff infection is time. Left unchecked, C. diff can be very dangerous. Doctors have a duty to test for the disease if they encounter symptoms in hospital patients. Failure to timely diagnose C. diff and begin treatment can result in permanent damage to the intestines, or even death. If you or someone you know has suffered injury from C. diff, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Contact an experienced Maryland injury attorney today.

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Recent MD Case Shows Importance of Filing Medical Malpractice Suits As Soon As Possible

The Maryland Court of Appeals filed an opinion in September of this year, Mummert v. Alizadeh, which illustrates the importance of contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a medical malpractice injury is discovered.

In 2011, the surviving relatives of Mrs. Margaret Varner filed suit against her long-time physician, Dr. Massoud Alizadeh, under Maryland’s medical malpractice and wrongful death statutes. During the 7-year span of time between 1997 and 2004, while regularly seeing Dr. Alizadeh, Mrs. Varney lost weight and had fluctuating digestive issues. The claims alleged that Dr. Alizadeh negligently ignored these symptoms and failed to test Mrs. Varner on a regular basis. Because of these failures, according to the claims, Mrs. Varner was not diagnosed with colorectal cancer that had spread to her liver by the time treatment began, in 2004. Mrs. Varner died in 2008.

Medical Malpractice Vs. Wrongful Death in MD

The Circuit Court of Washington County dismissed the claims as time barred. Under Maryland’s medical malpractice statute of limitations, a claim against a doctor must be made within 5 years of the injury, or within 3 years of the injury being discovered. Any claim Mrs. Varner’s family brought for medical malpractice, then, must necessarily be in violation of the statute and dismissed. The alleged injury occurred sometime between 1997 and 2004, and the suit was filed in 2011. Even if the injury occurred in 2004 (which, allegedly, it did not), the claim was filed 7 years from the injury, much longer than the statute allows.

Compare this with the wrongful death statute. Maryland allows survivors to file a claim against a defendant for acts or negligence that result in death within 3 years of the death of the decedent. Since Mrs. Varner passed in 2008, the suit filed by her family was not time-barred, and so the Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s decision.

Dr. Alizadeh argued that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice should apply to this case, and thus it should be dismissed. The Court of Appeals dismissed this argument for a number of reasons, the most pertinent being that the interpretation Dr. Alizadeh suggests would be absurd. Truly, it makes little sense to deny a wrongful death claim to a family when they would have to file the claim before anyone actually dies.

What This Means For You

If you live in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, and you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is vital that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. Time is of the essence, and not just because of statutes of limitation. Evidence gets lost or destroyed, witness’ memories get hazy, and injuries get progressively worse. Contact a Maryland medical malpractice attorney today.

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A new law will soon allow law enforcement officers in Maryland to pull over and ticket drivers who are talking or texting while driving.  Under the existing version of this law, drivers can only be pulled over and ticketed for using their cellular device while driving if they are committing another offense.

Maryland’s joins nine other states and the District of Columbia with similar laws.

The new law will take into effect on October 1, 2013.  The fine for driving while using a cellular device will be $100.  In passing the new law, Maryland joins nine other states and the District of Columbia in allowing law enforcement officers to fine drivers for using their cell phones while driving in the absence of any other offense.

The District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the area that currently employs such a law, the law was passed in 2004.  Since then, District of Columbia law enforcement officers have issued 95,268 tickets for distracted driving, approximately 88,000 involved cell phone use.

Opponents argue that banning cell phones while driving is not an effective way to eliminate distracted driving.

However, opponents of the law argue that studies have shown that cracking down on drivers who use their cell phones while operating their vehicle has done little to reduce traffic accidents.  For example, a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that texting bans did not reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents in a jurisdiction.  Similarly, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study showed that the District of Columbia had the same number of insurance collision claims before and after its cellphone driving ban was passed.  According to the same study, the frequency of insurance collision claims from the District of Columbia were comparable to those of Maryland and Virginia, neither of which had cellphone driving bans at the time.

Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explained that distracted driving is not a new concept, nor is it limited to cell phone use.  As such, he suggests that focusing on cell phones and other electronic devices may not be an effective strategy for reducing distracted driving incidents.

In addition, opponents argue that banning the use of cellphones while driving is hard to enforce.  It is often difficult for a law enforcement officer to determine whether someone is using their cell phone argues Kara Macek, spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

Also, laws such as the one passed in Maryland, allow drivers to utilize hands-free devices such as, a Bluetooth headset.  As such, the law does not eliminate distracted driving altogether.

However, new technology which alerts drivers when they are too close to another vehicle, person, or object is currently being introduced in cars.  Safety advocates hope that these systems will help bring distracted drivers’ attention back to the road.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident which involved a distracted driver, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Related Blog Posts: Maryland Appellate Court Rules That Insurance Carriers Can’t Hide Their Identity From Juries, DISTRICT WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MANSLAUGHTER AND DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

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Maryland Appellate Court Rules That Insurance Carriers Can’t Hide Their Identity From Juries

Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued a significant opinion in the case of Davis v. Martinez, holding that the identity of a defendant underinsured motorist insurers in a personal injury action may not be concealed from the jury.

In Davis, a Maryland trial court granted a defendant’s motion to conceal the identity of his underinsured motorist insurer, State Farm, at trial.  Accordingly, State Farm was not identified and the jury was not informed about the plaintiff’s claim against State Farm.  Further, it was never disclosed to the jury who the attorney for State Farm represented.

The trial court’s decision seems surprising considering the previous Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision in King v. State Farm.  In King, a trial court ordered that the parties to a personal injury action refrain from identifying the insurer as the defendant.

After trial and on appeal, the Court of Special Appeals reversed the trial court and ordered a new trial, opining that “the court’s ruling, concealing [the insurer’s] identity and role as the party defendant, infringed on the role of the jury.”

The questions remains, however, given the decision in King, how did the trial court in Davis end up issuing the decision to conceal the identity of State Farm from the jury.  The answer lies in the party that brought the motion in the first place.

In Davis, the motion was made by the negligent driver defendant, who contended that he would be prejudiced if State Farm was identified as his underinsured motorist insurer because the jury would be more inclined to award a large verdict, believing the deep-pocketed State Farm would cover any judgment.

The driver defendant argued that King was distinguishable because, in that case, the insurer was the sole defendant, and therefore no other defendants would be prejudiced by the identification.  As stated above, the trial court agreed with this rationale and granted the motion to conceal State Farms identity.

On appeal, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s reasoning, ultimately holding that the identity of an insurance carrier may not be concealed when it is a party, regardless of whether there are other defendants or not.  In so holding, the Court essentially reiterated its analysis from King, stating that “hiding the existence of State Farm created a ‘charade’ at trial risking the ‘integrity of the jury system.’”

As evidenced by the trial court’s order underlying Davis, courts don’t always make the correct decision when it comes to contested issues.  Further, it is clear that such decisions can have substantial impact on the outcome of any particular case.

The attorneys of Edward Phillip Amourigs  have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured in car accidents at all stages of litigation, including trial, and, if necessary, on appeal.  If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another, contact our attorneys today.

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On Tuesday, a District woman plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence (DUI).  The woman’s plea deal calls for seven years of incarceration.  She will be sentenced in late July at the D.C. Superior Court.

The woman is responsible for the April 28th motor vehicle accident in Southwest D.C., which killed 58 year old Emmajean Gainey.  The accident occurred after the woman drove her vehicle onto the sidewalk and struck the pedestrian.  At the time of the accident, she had been drinking alcohol and smoking crack cocaine.

According to court documents, after the accident, the driver told police that she had drank two twelve ounce malt liquors, two shots of coconut vodka, and smoked a dime bag before getting behind the wheel of her 2010 Toyota Yaris.

Reports indicate that the driver made an illegal right turn at the intersection of First Street SW and South Capital Street.  As a result, she cut off another vehicle, which swerved in order to avoid a collision.  The driver “gestured wildly” at the other car; the distraction caused her to loose control of the vehicle.

The vehicle then mounted a curb where Gainey and another individual were walking.  They tried to avoid being hit by the car however, Gainey was struck head on and pinned against a tree, killing him immediately.

Witnesses attempted to push the vehicle off Gainey’s body and called 911.  They observed the driver attempt to flee the scene of the accident and were able to intercept her.

After arriving on the scene, law enforcement officers administered a field sobriety test.  The driver failed the sobriety test and was arrested at the scene.  A subsequent breath test verified that her BAC exceeded the legal limit.

The driver told officers that she was a passenger in the vehicle and only got behind the wheel of the car in order to move the car off the victim.

Over 40 DUI arrests made in the District in 2011.

According to the Century Council, there were 43 DUI arrests made in the District in 2011.  In addition, there where eight alcohol impaired driving fatalities.  Half of these fatalities occurred while the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a related offense, you should contact an attorney immediately.  An attorney can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the representation you deserve.


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Over 70 percent of D.C. residents support the area’s traffic camera program.

A recent survey found that D.C. area residents support the use of traffic cameras by local law enforcement.  The survey was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and found that D.C. area residents largely support both red-light and speed cameras.  Overall, 87 percent of those surveyed were in favor of red-light cameras, while 76 percent were in favor of speed cameras.  71 percent of drivers supported traffic cameras, while 90 percent of non-drivers supported traffic cameras.  These numbers are surprising to some given that the area’s camera program has been often portrayed as unpopular and unfair in the media.

D.C. traffic camera program generates an annual revenue of $78.8 million.

Last fiscal year, the City issued approximately 700,000 tickets, which generated a total of $78.8 million in revenue for the City.  The City is on track to match these numbers for the coming year.  The City issued nearly 335,000 speed camera tickets between October 2012 and March 2013.  These tickets generated a total of $44.8 million for the City.  AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that in fiscal year 2012, the City issued 91,500 red light camera tickets, generating approximately $13 million.

D.C. traffic camera program has drastically reduced traffic fatalities. 

The Metropolitan Police Department defends the traffic camera program by cite to traffic fatality statistics.  Since traffic cameras were introduced into the City 11 years ago, traffic fatalities have decreased significantly.  The City has experienced a 73 percent reduction in traffic fatalities.

Residents continue to question some aspects of D.C.’s traffic camera program.

However, residents interviewed for a news report after the survey results were released provided mixed opinions regarding the area’s traffic camera program.  Many of the residents interviewed viewed the program as a way to generate money for the City.  Others questioned their accuracy and expressed concern that using machines eliminated an officer’s discretion not to issue a citation in particular circumstances.

But City residents do agree that traffic cameras make roadways safer.  Several residents admitted that they drive slower and with more caution after having received a traffic camera citation in the mail.

Residents tend to be more supportive of red light cameras.  This is due to the fact that violations are more predictable.  In addition, right angle, or t-bone crashes are the deadliest type of collision and can be avoided if drivers stop at red lights.  However, critics also point out that red-light cameras penalize drivers for minor offenses, such as failing to come to a complete stop.

D.C. is one of 125 jurisdictions in the country to implement a traffic camera program.  Nearby Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland also have similar programs in place.  In Virginia, state law prohibits the use of speed cameras.  However, red-light cameras are utilized by law enforcement in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and the city of Fairfax.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a traffic accident, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Related Blog Posts: NTSB RECOMMENDATION OF LOWERING DRUNK DRIVING THRESHOLDS SPARKS UNLIKELY OPPONENTS.  Family of Maryland teen who was fatally struck by a motor vehicle en route to her bus stop receives $90 million jury award.


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Family of Maryland teen who was fatally struck by a motor vehicle en route to her bus stop receives $90 million jury award.

In mid-April, a six member Price George’s County jury awarded $90 million in damages, including medical expenses and funeral costs, to the family of a girl who was killed after being hit by a car in 2009.  The victim, Ashley Davis was 13 years old at the time of the fatal motor vehicle accident.  She was struck by a motor vehicle on her way to her school bus stop in Temple Hills, Maryland.  The same motor vehicle also hit a 17 year old student and another car.

School district violated its policy requiring that students be picked up on their own side of the road.

According to the family’s attorney, the school district acted negligently and the accident could have been avoided if they had adhered to their own transportation safety policy.  Prior to the accident that took Davis’ life, the school district had adopted a policy that required students to be picked up on their own side of the street.  However, the school district did not follow this policy.  Instead, Davis had to cross the street in order to be picked up by the school bus.  It was during one of these crossings that she was struck and killed by a motor vehicle.

The jury’s award of $90 million is one of the highest amounts awarded in this type of case nationwide.  A spokesman for the Prince George’s County school system declined to comment, citing that they had yet to make a final determination regarding how the school district plans to proceed.  However, they are expected to appeal this decision.

Children are the most likely victims of pedestrian fatalities.

While pedestrian fatalities have declined within recent years, they continue to effect many families every year.  Pedestrian injuries are the leading cause of death amongst children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 500 child pedestrians are killed every year.  In addition, over 33,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for pedestrian injuries.

Approximately 70 percent of these fatalities involve a motor vehicle.  In 2010, one out of every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in a motor vehicle related accident was a pedestrian.

Given these statistics, it is not surprising that traffic safety is cited as the second most common reason why parents refuse to allow their children to walk to and from school.

If your child has been injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, you should contact an attorney immediately.  An attorney will be able to review the facts of your case to determine whether you have a claim against the driver or another individual or entity for your losses.  If so, your attorney will be able to initiate a case on your behalf and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Related Blog Posts: RECENT SUPREME COURT RULING REQUIRES WARRANTFOR BLOOD TESTING DURING DRUNK DRIVING INVESTIGATIONS.  Lawmakers, Safety Groups and Victim Advocates Urge the Obama Administration to Establish Long Delayed Rear Visibility Rule.

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Earlier this year, the Pentagon released data showing that divorce rates amongst military personnel had declined for the first time in over a decade.  In 2012, the rate of divorce amongst military personnel was 3.5 percent.  Between 2001 and 2011, military divorces increased every year, starting at 2.6 percent and topping off at 3.7 percent.

Female soldiers and Marines experience the highest rates of divorce within the military at 9.4 and 9.3 percent respectively.

Historically, female soldiers and Marines have had the highest rates of divorce amongst military personnel.  In 2012, the rate of divorce for female soldiers was 9.4 percent and the rate of divorce for Marines was 9.3 percent.  Female soldiers’ divorce rate was three times that of their male counterparts.  Still, these divorce rates also declined from 2011 when the rates of divorce amongst female soldiers and Marines was 9.6 and 9.8 percent.

Military divorce rates cannot be compared to civilian rates.

Military and civilian divorce rates cannot be accurately compared because they are calculated differently.  The divorce rate amongst military personnel is measured by determining the difference in the number of married military personnel in the beginning of the year versus the end of the year.  This number is then adjusted for attrition, new recruits, and new marriages.  This is not the same method used to calculate civilian divorce rates

New military programs and fewer deployments may have lead to healthier marriages amongst military personnel.

In an article published by, one divorce attorney who was interviewed suggested that the young age of military personnel makes it difficult for them to handle the stress of long separations from their partners.  As deployments become shorter and less frequent, less strain is placed on young military couples.

In addition, military officials attribute the decline in divorce rates to the success of new programs that seek to provide support to married couples and to promote the emotional health of military personnel.  One such program is the Army’s Strong Bond program that takes participants on a weekend retreat where they are partake in relationship building classes.

An attorney can help military personnel and their spouses through the divorce process.

Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas are home to nearly 20 military installations.  In addition, many retired military personnel move to this area in order to work for variety federal government agencies.

Active or retired military personnel living with the Washington D.C. area may be eligible to file for divorce in the jurisdiction where they are currently living.  In addition, military personnel who are from the Washington D.C. area, but stationed elsewhere may be eligible to file for divorce in their home state or the District.

If you are an active or retired member of the military who is considered filing for divorce you should speak to an attorney immediately.  An attorney can help you determine your options for where to file you divorce and go over the pros and cons of each option with you.  In addition, an attorney can help you navigate issues that are specific to military divorces such as the division of military retirement pay and pensions.


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Lawmakers, Safety Groups and Victim Advocates Urge the Obama Administration to Establish Long Delayed Rear Visibility Rule.

A recent press event on Capitol Hill sought to bring attention to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s long delay in issuing a rear visibility rule.

On April 11, safety groups and parents of children killed in backover accidents joined United States Representatives Jan Schankowsky, D-Ill. And Pete King, R-N.Y. on Capitol Hill for a press event aimed at putting pressure on President Barack Obama’s administration to release a rear visibility rule for motor vehicles.  The rule would require backup cameras to eliminate blind zones behind vehicles.

In 2007, Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act.  The Act was signed into law by then President George W. Bush in 2008.  According to the Act, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is charged with establishing a rear visibility rule.  However, as of December 31, 2012, the Administration has missed four deadlines for establishing a rear visibility rule.  The initial deadline set by Congress for NHSTA to establish a rear visibility rule was February 2011.  In a statement issued by NHTSA, a spokesperson for the Administration stated that a final rule would be issued after completion of the regulatory review process.

A startling number of children are killed or injured as a result of backover accidents every year.

Every year, many parents suffer the ordeal of having their children killed or seriously injured as a result of backover accidents.  A backover accident is one where a driver backs over a child they did not see, usually when coming out of a driveway or parking space.  The number of children involved in backover accidents in the United States every year is quite startling.  Approximately 50 children are backed over by a vehicle each week.  Of these children, 48 sustain injuries serious enough to require an emergency room visit and at least two sustain injuries which prove to be fatal.  This amounts to nearly 228 fatalities and 17,000 injuries from backover accidents every year.

Backup cameras are a cost effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from backover accidents.

NHTSA projects that installing backup cameras, which include rear-mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays, on all vehicles would reduce the annual number of backover accident related fatalities by a range of 95 to 112 and reduce the annual number of backover accident related injuries by a range of 7,074 to 8,374.  Moreover, the NHTSA estimates that the costs of meeting these proposed standards would cost between $159 and $203 for vehicles without the display screen and cost between $58 and $88 for vehicles with the display screen.  These costs would decrease over time.

If your child has been injured or killed in a backover accident, contact an attorney immediately.  An attorney can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.


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