Subcompact Car Crash Tests Yield Sobering Results

With fuel prices rising, subcompact cars, or “minicars,” are becoming more popular, and new models are introduced regularly. But how do those very small and very light vehicles fare in auto accidents? According to a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), perhaps not so well.

The IIHS recently subjected 11 popular minicar models to its toughest crash test, and just one protected its crash test dummies well enough to earn a rating of “acceptable.” To be sure, the IIHS tests — especially the small overlap front crash test — are very strenuous.

In the federal government’s frontal crash test, the car strikes a rigid barrier, fully head-on, at 35 mph. The IIHS moderate overlap front crash test sends each car into a deformable barrier at 40 mph, with just 40 percent of the vehicle’s front end (on the driver’s side) absorbing the impact. This concentrates the force of the collision onto a smaller area of the car, increasing the likelihood of structural failure and “injury” to the crash test dummy.

The IIHS small overlap front crash test, introduced in 2012, is tougher still. It too is conducted at 40 mph, but just 25 percent of the vehicle’s front end (on the driver’s side) absorbs the impact, and the barrier the vehicle strikes is rigid. This is the type of impact a vehicle would experience if it struck a large tree or utility pole head-on on the driver’s side.

The IIHS gives each car an overall rating and ratings for each of several distinct categories. The possible ratings are “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal” and “poor.” Just one of the 11 cars tested — the Chevrolet Spark — earned an overall “acceptable” rating. The rest were rated either “marginal” or “poor”, including the popular Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius c and Ford Fiesta.

All vehicles were given structural ratings of “marginal” or “poor”, but the Spark scored better overall because the dummy’s movement was better restricted and showed lower injury levels.

The IIHS reminds consumers that the Spark compares favorably only with other vehicles in its own class. The ratings the institute bestows cannot be compared across different weight classes of automobile. Among the 17 “small cars” the IIHS has tested (which are just slightly larger and heavier than minicars), five earned “good” ratings and another five earned “acceptable” ratings.

If you decide a that smaller car is right for you, it is very important to check out crash test ratings and, of course, drive cautiously. If you are involved in a serious auto accident, you need all the help you can get.

Study Shows Many Accident Victims, Even Those in Pain, Never Consult an Attorney

Almost 4 million people go to U.S. emergency rooms following car accidents each year, and more than 90 percent are discharged after evaluation. Many of them suffer persistent pain from their accidents, but a majority of them never contact an attorney to discuss a lawsuit. Such are the findings of a recent study at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Researchers enrolled 948 individuals from four states in the study, all of whom had been in auto accidents. More than 70 percent of them reported persistent pain in one or more regions of the body six weeks after their accident. More than 30 percent reported pain in more than three body regions.

Among the 83 percent not planning litigation, persistent pain was still common. Just 17 percent of the 948 people reported contacting an attorney for planned litigation at the six-week mark. More than 25 percent of this group suffered moderate to severe neck pain, and 13 percent had widespread pain in more than six body regions.

Some misguided individuals view those who sue after an auto accident as opportunists or fakes. But if you have suffered pain, medical expenses and missed work because of an accident, you know that the losses and suffering are real. Judgments against those who cause accidents represent justice being served.

Some accident victims believe that they should “tough it out” and wait for the pain to go away, but many injuries require specialized treatment, which can be expensive, and others may never fully heal. If you have been the victim of an auto accident, do not let pride cloud your judgment. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today.

Florida Pill Mill Doctor Receives 30-Year Prison Sentence

A Florida Panhandle doctor has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for operating a “pill mill” (a center for the inappropriate or non-medical distribution of narcotics).

Dr. Robert L. Ignasiak, 58, was known as “Dr. Bob” in Freeport, Florida. For a period of several years, he worked as the only physician in town. Ignasiak was first convicted in November 2009 of improperly prescribing hydrocodone and other painkillers to patients.

On November 3, 2012, while awaiting a second trial, Ignasiak disappeared. Investigators found the doctor’s car near Seagrove Beach. Inside was a suicide note and what appeared to be blood. But police suspected that the suicide was staged, and they found Ignasiak alive and well in Coral Springs in September 2013.

A month later, Ignasiak pleaded guilty to the original charges, and on January 14, 2014, he was sentenced on 29 counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances and 12 counts of health care fraud.

The doctor ran his pill mill out of Freeport Medical Clinic from 2001 to 2005, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, developing a reputation for freely prescribing narcotic painkillers.

Prosecutors said that even after he became aware that patients were abusing the drugs he had prescribed, he continued to do so, contributing to the deaths of several individuals.

If you have been injured, or if a family member has died because of improperly prescribed drugs, consult with an experienced pill mill attorney who can explain your options.