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Posted on Friday, August 28th, 2015 at 2:38 pm    

Booking through Airbnb has become very popular. In fact, Airbnb now claims more than one million listings in about 190 countries. In many ways Airbnb can look like a win-win. Hosts can rent rooms or their homes through Airbnb to earn extra income. Travelers typically can save money by booking through Airbnb and in some instances can stay in residential neighborhoods or rural areas where hotels, etc. might not exist.

All well and good until someone gets hurt.The New York Times recently reported of one such incident where a 58-year-old American, Mike Silverman, was bitten by a host’s Rottweiler on the third day of his stay in Salta, Argentina. This resulted in a six inch gash in Mr. Silverman’s arm and a two night stay in a hospital for treatment. Airbnb’s initial response to Mr. Silverman’s request that they reimburse his medical expenses was to refund the cost of his stay, but to decline to cover his medical expenses.

The Times article notes that most insurance companies frown upon people turning their houses into hostels and have even threatened to cancel the policies of homeowners who do so. Furthermore, according to the Times, only last year did Airbnb begin to provide liability insurance for its hosts. However, that coverage is secondary to the host’s own insurance and doesn’t extend outside of the United States.

The Times article also points out that as in Mr. Silverman’s case, Airbnb’s listings frequently make no mention of pets.

Mr. Silverman was a seasoned traveler and was aware of what he referred to as the Latin American view of liability, which is that bad things sometimes happen and there’s not much you can do about it when you are the victim. Nevertheless, he is continuing to press Airbnb for reimbursement for his medical expenses. And, with the assistance of the Times reporter, Airbnb has now indicated that they want to make things right and have requested the medical bills and receipts. An Airbnb spokesman also stated that Airbnb is seeking to expand its host liability coverage to other countries. This is certainly a step in the right direction. For the time being, it looks like Airbnb guests could be at risk of recovering nothing for an injury sustained at a host property located outside the United States.

Source: An article appearing in The New York Times on April 11, 2015 entitled Dog Bites Airbnb Guest. Who Pays? by Ron Lieber.


Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 at 2:33 pm    

A study, soon to be released, by consultants McKinsey & Co., looks at how autonomous vehicles could reshape our lives. The answer is dramatically and sooner than you might think.

According to the study by McKinsey, early adopters could be tooling around in self-diving cars by 2025. Among the benefits identified by the McKinsey study are: 1) saving commuting time by being able to work, relax or be entertained while commuting instead of focusing on driving; 2) reduced risk for car crashes; 3) more parking spaces since self-driving cars could drop off passengers and then park themselves. This would allow parking spaces to be narrower as doors would not need to be opened.

Other possible benefits identified by the McKinsey study include reduced insurance rates since insurance companies would no longer be insuring drivers against their own mistakes but rather would be insuring against technical failures by the vehicle. Another benefit might be fewer cars since more people might use car sharing or robotic taxis.

The McKinsey study also notes that some industries are already using autonomous vehicles on the job in enclosed environments such as trucks in mining pits and tractors on farms.

In spite of the potential benefits pointed out by this study, we still wonder how autonomous cars will meet the challenges presented by such things as adverse weather conditions or construction zones. See our discussion in a previous blog article entitled Snow and the Google Self-driving Car posted on February 24, 2015.

Source: An article appearing in USA Today by Chris Woodgard entitled McKinsey study: Self-driving cars yield big benefits on March 5, 2015.


Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015 at 3:29 pm    

According to an AP article, Harley-Davidson is recalling more than 185,000 motorcycles because the saddlebags can come loose and fall off, thereby increasing the risk of a crash. This recall covers several 2014 and 2015 Harley-Davidson models of motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson says it found the problem through warranty claims and has determined that the problem is a result of defective mounting hardware. Harley will replace the hardware free of charge on the affected bikes starting on July 27, 2015. Additional information regarding the recall should be available at the Harley-Davidson website or by contacting your local dealer.

The Law Office Of Bill Pelhan has been representing victims of unsafe or defective products for over 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured by an unsafe product call 717-392-6362 to learn more about your legal rights and options. Get the personal attention you deserve.

Source: An article appearing at entitled Harley-Davidson recalls 185,000 motorcycles on July 24, 2015.


Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 at 1:39 pm    

According to an article appearing in the USA Today, GM announced two new recalls involving seats or seat belts. The first recall involves nearly 470,000 Chevy Malibus from the 2011 and 2012 model years. According to GM, the steel cables linked to the front-seat seat belts can weaken over time.

The second recall involves about 53,000 2015 Chevrolet Colorados and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. In the pickups the problem is related to seat frame hooks that may not have been properly installed when the vehicles were manufactured.

GM stated it was not aware of any crashes as a result of the defect and that only one minor injury has been reported with respect to the seat belt defect.

Source: An article entitled General Motors recalls 523,000 Maibus, pickups by Chris Woodyard appearing at on May 12, 2015.

Why Most School Buses Don’t Have Seat Belts

Posted on Friday, August 14th, 2015 at 2:02 pm    

Under current federal law, seat belts are only required in school buses under 10,000 pounds.  However, that is only a small portion of the school buses in use and typically applies to those small, 6 to 12 student school buses you occasionally see.

However, federal law does not require that the standard long, yellow buses that comprise about 80% of the nation’s school bus fleets have seat belts.  With regard to these buses, the feds have left the decision up to the states.  And thus far, only six states require seat belts to be installed in these types of school buses.

Pennsylvania is not one of the six states that require seat belts in the typical school bus. Some of the states that have adopted seat belt requirements for larger school buses are California, Florida, Texas and New York.

Apparently, the federal government has not mandated seat belts on large school buses because numerous studies have shown these buses to be relatively safe with about six children dying each year in bus accidents.  Federal regulators have concluded that in most instances seat belts would not have prevented the deaths that have occurred because the child killed was seated at the point of direct impact.

Some groups, like the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, believe this evidence is incomplete and unconvincing.

If you, or someone you know, sustained injuries in a bus or auto accident in Lancaster, contact the Law Office of Bill Pelhan at 717-392-6362 to learn more about your rights and legal options.

source: Article appearing on entitled Why Your Child’s School Bus Has No Seat belts by M.Alex Johnson 12/29/2010.


Posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 at 2:31 pm    

According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, lawmakers in the House and Senate proposed legislation that would require NHTSA to consider integrating “active safety technology” or so-called collision-avoidance systems into its 5-star crashworthiness ratings. NHTSA’s current program measures the level of safety provided by the vehicle in frontal and side crashes and rollovers and requires the results to be posted on windows stickers of new cars. However, the program does not include crash-avoidance or active safety technology systems in its ratings.

This proposed legislation came just days after NHTSA reiterated its call for crash–avoidance systems to be included as standard equipment in all new cars. This is a recommendation NHTSA has been making for some years.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts stated that “Today’s 5-star safety rating system only tells them [consumers] how safe they are in the vehicle once a crash occurs, ignoring any features like collision warning and automatic emergency braking, that helps avoid that crash in the first place.” Markey stated that a lack of such information in the 5-star rating system means that the consumer lacks important information regarding the true safety of a new vehicle.

Source: An article appearing on entitled Collision-avoidance could be part of car ratings by Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press on June 11, 2015.


Posted on Thursday, August 6th, 2015 at 8:07 pm    

According to a recent AP article, Google has released details related to the 12 accidents involving its self-driving cars as part of a commitment to provide monthly updates.

In a recent summary released by Google, Google described all of the crashes as minor saying no injuries were reported. And, Google again stated that none of the crashes were a result or fault of the self-driving technology and occurred over 1.7 million miles of driving. One accident involved an employee who used the self-driving car to run an errand and rear ended another car while it was stopped for traffic.

Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group, has been pushing Google to release all of the accident reports filed with the California DMV and other enforcement agencies. However, thus far Google has refused to do so citing privacy concerns.

John Simpson, privacy project director of Consumer Watchdog, argues that given that Google’s ultimate goal is a self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals, making it impossible for a passenger to take control, makes it “even more important that details of any accident be made public – so people know what is going on”.

Source: An AP article appearing in LNP on Saturday, June 6, 2015 entitled Self-driving car crashes detailed and an AP article entitled How safe are self-driving cars? appearing on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.


Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 4:16 pm    

NHTSA is investigating airbag inflaters made by a second automotive company, ARC Automotive, a supplier of airbags that uses the same chemical compound that has plagued the inflaters made by Takata. ARC Automotive is an American company located in Tennessee and according to an article appearing the New York Times, NHTSA is investigating inflaters used in about 420,000 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivans and approximately 70,000 Kia Optima sedans. The investigation is the result of two reports of airbag ruptures, one in a Town and Country minivan in 2009 and the other in a Kia Optima in 2014.

In the 2009 incident, the driver of the vehicle was struck by shrapnel when the airbag ruptured upon impact. NHTSA states that at this time it is unclear whether there is a common cause for these incidents. A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler states that the auto maker is cooperating with NHTSA’s investigation and that it no longer uses the inflator model in question.

The Law Office Of Bill Pelhan has been representing victims of unsafe or defective products for over 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured by an unsafe product call 717-392-6362 to learn more about your legal rights and options. Get the personal attention you deserve.

Source: An Article appearing at on July 14, 2015, entitled “Airbag Flaw Investigated at ARC Automotive”, by Hiroko Tabuchi