Smart Keys – defective products?


Smart key accidents
Car accidents and smart keys

The so-called “smart keys” that have some glaring and safety issues. With a smart key everything that you need to operate your car is at the mercy of a  little battery and dampness or pressure to your smart key.  You cannot store a hidden smart key on your car as a backup without simultaneously making the vehicle fully operable.  (You must take steps to disable it.)  You can drive off in a car without the smart key, only to find that you cannot start your car because the key is still at your last stop.  In short, if your car uses a smart key, you should plan on being stranded from time to time.

But that’s nothing really. “Smart keys” also seem to have the added little safety problem of occasionally killing their owner or a member of their owner’s family.   Most smart keys can be removed from the vehicle without the engine turning off (unlike the traditional key).  Many smart keys have a remote start feature.  Modern cars often are so quiet that they can run nearby without being heard.  Yet modern internal combustion car engines still produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide.  It seems that smart keys have killed a number of people whose homes became exposed to deadly levels of carbon monoxide because their cars were running unnoticed in an adjacent garage.  If your car has a smart key and your garage is near your home, until the car manufacturers try “safety next”, we suggest that you invest in carbon monoxide detectors for your garage and nearby rooms.  Some car manufacturers have limited the time that a remotely started engine will run.  Or perhaps consider getting rid of your car with “smart keys” and get one with “dumb keys” instead – at least until the auto manufacturers can make a key which is not a defective product.  If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an accident caused by a “smart key”, you may want to consider a product liability claim and you may wish to call Accident Lawyer Honolulu – Products Liability.


Privacy Protections for Personal Injury Litigants

In its February, 2014 decision in Cohan v. Marriott SCPW-13-0000092 (Civ. No. 11-1-2192) (February 27, 2014), the Hawai’i Supreme Court revisted the issues raised previously in Brende v. Hara.  In its decision the Supreme Court reversed a trial court order requiring Mr. Cohan to sign releases for his medical information and also requiring him to agree to the form of Stipulated Protective Order promulgated by a bench-bar committee a few years ago. The Supreme Court broadened the privacy protections in personal injury claims for litigants like Mr. Cohan found in  Brende v. Hara and stated: “We hold that the privacy provision of the Hawaii Constitution, Article I, Section 6, protects Cohan’s health information against disclosure outside the underlying litigation.”  PDF files of the majority opinion and the concurring/dissenting opinions in this important case for personal injury litigants can be found on the page “Court cases re: Hawaii accident law” which is linked in the right margin of the Accident Lawyer Hawaii website.

Google is forcing up the costs of websites for law firms to get personal injury clients.

Websites for law firms have been around for 20 years now – since the mid-1990s.  Law firms have been trying to get personal injury clients from searches on the web since the beginning.  At first there were a number of prominent search engines, but now it’s down to three:  Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Google is by far the most prominent.

Google has been continually re-writing its formula for ranking law firms (and other websites) in its search results.  Only one characteristic seems to be more and more important with each re-write.  That characteristic?  How much the law firm spends on high priced SEO companies.  Google’s algorithms consistently require

An outfit calling itself JDSupra now charges $7,500 a year to allow legal authors to post articles on its site with links to the author’s website.  Why would any author pay such a sum you ask?  Because JDSupra‘s website has high rank in Google (formerly PR5) and adds a lot of link juice to the lawyers who spring for such “publication rights”.  Many attorneys have done so – including some attorneys here in Hawaii – and they have seen their site’s rankings get a significant boost.  Really Google?  Didn’t you all come out from my alma mater, Stanford, as bright-eyed shoe-string budget entrepreneurs?

The range of SEO options to boost a law firm site in Google goes all the way from JD Supra down to a questionable site like Tuton Engineering – which claims that it will give you a link back if you either pay $5.00 a month or put up a reciprocal link to them.  Is this really what Google should be encouraging?  I thought that they were against ‘paid links’.

From Google’s hostile treatment of legal sites that have links coming to them from other sites that Google deems as ‘link farms’ all the way up to Google’s loving treatment of law firm sites with unreciprocated high page rank links, one thing is consistent – Google treats attorneys and law firms well that spend enormous sums on high priced SEO consultants in order to rank well in Google’s search engine results.  Really Google?  Is that your contribution to the world?

Attorneys fees’ and costs for prevailing personal injury litigant against insurer

Complete success in claims against an insurer for policy coverage related to a personal injury case often can only be obtained when attorneys’ fees and costs can be recovered against that insurer in connection with the litigation.  In Hawaii, like in many jurisdictions, if an insured must litigate in court in order to obtain a court order compelling the insurer to pay benefits for which the insured had purchased coverage, then the insured is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for the coverage action.  These fees are typically recoverable by the insured under HRS section 431:10-242 when the insured is the prevailing party.   Often the insurers use shotgun litigation techniques which greatly increase the attorneys’ fees involved, even when the amount in controversy does not justify such tactics.  Then later the insurers claim that the attorneys’ fees and costs awarded against them must reasonable in amount in light of the amount in controversy.  This does not appear to be the law – nor should it be.  All attorneys fees and costs – including fees incurred to prepare and pursue the fee application – should be recoverable under HRS section 431:10-242, as they are in other prevailing party litigation.  See the case of Muniz v UPS Case No. 11-17282 (9th Cir. Dec. 5, 2013) where the prevailing party recovered attorneys’ fees and costs which were  twenty-six times (26x) the size of the damages awarded by the jury.

Medical malpractice crisis? Yes, but it is not the one you think.

Medical malpractice insurance payouts have declined every year for a decade.

The National Practitioner Data Bank information for 2013 was just released in June 2014. As I have been saying for years, the numbers confirm that both (1) the number of payments made by medical professional liability insurers for doctors and (2) the total amount of the payments made to patients because of doctor error have gone down every year for more than a decade. See the link here. Medical malpractice crisis? Yes, but it is not the one you think. The actual crisis is the overcharging and undue burden that the insurers have been placing on the doctors of this fine nation – by using misinformation campaigns and lobbyists. The number of payments made by medical professional liability insurers on behalf of doctors has decreased every year for the past 12 years, from 15,898 payments in 2001 to 9,205 in 2013, a reduction of 42%. Similarly, the total amount of the payments made to patients because of doctor error has gone down every year since 2004, from $4,424,050,000 in 2004 to $3,101,550,000 in 2013, a reduction of 30%. This payment reduction has taken place in absolute dollars, without any consideration for inflation or the small but steady growth in the number of doctors in the U.S. (Information provided by attorney Michael End of AAJ).