It Figures

January 24, 2011

10,000

Estimated number of people killed over the last decade when they were ejected from vehicles during rollovers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ordering car manufacturers to develop new approaches, such as larger side airbags, to limit vehicle ejections. The ejection rule, which was years in the making, is the latest action by NHTSA to address rollovers since deadly crashes of Ford sport utility vehicles — linked to defective Firestone tires — in the 1990s spurred congressional scrutiny and massive recalls. Carrying out the mandate would cost manufactures roughly $31 per vehicle, or $400 million based on total annual U.S. sales of 13 million cars and trucks, which is what the auto industry forecasts for 2011.

$2.3 Million

Settlement reached between the Justice Department and a Virginia couple, Scott and Michelle Holweger, who claimed inadequate care at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center caused their child to be born with neurological damage. A federal judge approved the settlement earlier this month. The Holwegers filed a $15 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the government last year. The government admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, which calls for $1.57 million to be paid into a trust fund set up to care for the child. Their attorneys will receive about $675,000 in fees and expenses and $54,000 will go toward medical bills.

2.7%

Drop in tort costs in 2009, according to a new report by professional services firm Towers Watson — a decline of roughly $6.8 billion. Total tort costs amounted to $248.1 billion in 2009. Towers Watson said a decline in both real and nominal GDP, a rising unemployment rate and decreasing tort activity as a result of a lower level of economic activity helped drive tort costs down. The drop-off in 2009 was most evident in commercial tort costs: Total tort costs from commercial lines decreased 5 percent from 2008 to 2009. At $152.7 billion, 2009 commercial tort costs were 11.9 percent lower than average commercial tort costs in the peak years 2004 and 2005.

14%

Drop in traffic deaths last year in Delaware, according to new statistics released by state safety officials The count shows that 101 people died on Delaware roads last year — the lowest number of roadway deaths since 1968 when 98 people died in crashes. The data shows a 10 percent drop from 2009, when there were 118 traffic deaths. Officials credit the decline to more people wearing seat belts. Officials also cite strong partnerships with state, county and local law enforcement and partners in health care, traffic safety and in the corporate community.

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Insurance Journal West January 24, 2011
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