Posts tagged with "injury"

No lawsuit can happen without these three components, no matter how terrible the conduct of the people involved.

No matter how outrageous a defendant’s conduct may be, there’s one thing you can never sue for:

Picture this: A person is walking down the sidewalk, enjoying a warm Spring day, when out of nowhere a drunk driver hops the curb and strikes them over from behind. The pedestrian flies through the air, lands on his feet and finds himself to be completely unharmed. A miracle occurred, as most people would have been permanently injured or killed.

On what grounds can that pedestrian, unharmed only by a stroke of luck, sue that driver, who clearly acted negligently and was at fault for what happened.

The answer is, none. There is no chance of a lawsuit here. The pedestrian does not have a case.

Why? Because you can’t sue for what could have happened, only what did happen. In this case, no one was injured.

Lawsuits aren’t some kind of bad luck lottery ticket, where people profit off of their own misfortune. No, personal injury lawsuits are about compensating people for their suffering and to help them adjust to life-changing events.

The three elements of a lawsuit

A lawsuit requires liability, causation, and damages. In this example, the driver was liable for what happened as he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, which is a clear case of negligent behavior. He is also the one who caused the pedestrian to be struck, it wasn’t a faulty steering wheel or other mechanical problem. Both of those elements are required for a case, but so is damages. In this example, there were no damages as no one was injured.

Sometimes people say things like “I could have been killed.” They rightly find themselves shocked by how terribly things could have gone because of someone else’s bad behavior. Those issues shouldn’t be ignored. There may be some kind of legal consequence that will fall on the person who caused that problem. However, a lawsuit is not the solution for things that could have happened but didn’t.

Study reveals brands with most product recalls

Parents all across the country use many products to help them take care of their children, and Massachusetts residents are no exception. From bottles to baby formula and high chairs to safety restraints, we entrust the well-being of our children to dozens of different manufacturers. We feel safe in this practice because we assume most dangerous products are recalled, so we know what products are and are not safe. However, because this system relies mostly on self-reporting, product recalls may not be as reliable as you think.

A safety advocacy group recently analyzed major recalls on children’s products in the last five years. The group, aptly called Kids in Danger, made some interesting discoveries about the relationships between number of injuries and time of recalling. These findings revealed the companies that issued the most product recalls:

  1. Target with 24 recalls after 30 injuries and 106 reported incidents.
  2. Fisher-Price with 19 recalls after 130 injuries and 828 incidents.
  3. Dorel Juvenile Group with 11 recalls after 10 injuries and 808 incidents.
  4. IKEA with 11 recalls after 12 injuries and 55 incidents.
  5. Pottery Barn Kids with 11 recalls after 17 injuries and 86 incidents.
  6. Walmart with 11 recalls after two injuries and six incidents.

What is most interesting about these data is that Target issued more recalls than Fisher-Price despite having barely one-eighth of the reported incidents and only about one quarter of the injuries. This indicates that some Fisher-Price products caused many more injuries before being recalled than Target products.

These findings illustrate how important it is to investigate any injury by a product. Even if the product has not been recalled, it could still be a defective product, and if you are injured by a defective product, you could be entitled to compensation.

Source: WTSP, “Which sellers have the most kids’ product recalls?,” April 20, 2015

What is Massachusetts’s product liability statute of limitations?

Product liability refers to instances in which individuals are injured by defects or faults in products. These defects could occur in either the design or manufacturing phase of a product’s lifestyle, but if a consumer is injured by a product, they could file a product liability lawsuit. However, if the statute of limitations for such a case expires, then your chances of filing a successful claim will dramatically reduce.

Because product liability falls under the personal injury area of legal practice, it is affected by the personal injury statute of limitations. As this article states, the statute of limitations for injury to person in Massachusetts is three years. This means that if you are injured by a defective product, you have three years to file a claim. If you do not file a claim within this time, there is a strong chance that your case will be dismissed outright.

Even though the time limit for the statute of limitations is very clear, the beginning of that timeline is a bit more ambiguous. The clock for the statute of limitations generally does not begin ticking until the injured party should have reasonably been able to determine that they were injured by the product. Depending on your injury, you may not realize that you were injured for a good long while.

Even if you are afraid that the statute of limitations for your injury has expired, it is still in your best interests to meet with an attorney. An attorney who has experience with product liability injuries may be able to look at your case from a different angle or prove that you could not have reasonably detected the injury immediately. You do not have to pay for an injury that was someone else’s fault.

FDA analyzes increased trend in recall of faulty medical devices

The Food and Drug Administration is charged with monitoring and managing the recall of any food and drink products, supplements, drugs and medical devices that could potentially cause illness or injury. Nowhere is this more crucial than with life-saving medical equipment that, when faulty, can instead become life-threatening.

The FDA has just released a 10-year trend analysis of recalls of defective medical devices. Recalls have been affected by the ongoing work the FDA does with manufacturers, which in recent years has led to:

  • Improved self-regulation by medical equipment companies.
  • Increased awareness of performance safety.
  • Better classification of types of equipment that are frequently recalled.

The data trends are dramatic but also somewhat reassuring. Total recall events, with single events sometimes affecting multiple products, numbered 604 in 2003 and almost doubled to 1,190 in 2012.

Class 1 is the sub-group of devices that have the potential to cause death, or at least serious injury or illness, when they malfunction. Examples are ventilators and defibrillators. Recalls of Class 1 equipment have increased from a low of seven in 2003 to a high of 57 almost a decade later.

Class 1 recalls increased from about 1 percent of all recall events in 2003 to closer to 5 percent in 2012, and the increase may have to do with the reclassification of many products to be included in the Class 1 category.

A recent example of the scale of some recalls is one that happened in December 2013. Ventilators, manufactured by a firm with its U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts, were found to have errors in the software that put them at risk of ceasing to work at crucial times in the treatment of patients. More than 16,000 units had already been distributed in the U.S. If you include sales to other countries, the total number of units distributed globally was more than 56,000.

The FDA’s increased vigilance over medical device manufacturers can only help medical care to become safer. Still, when machinery does fail, companies are liable to face legal action by affected patients and their families.

Source: Boston Business Journal, “Life-threatening medical device recalls up eightfold since 2003,” Don Seiffert, March 21, 2014

With cold weather comes the use of space heaters — and fire risk

Many people are using space heaters to keep warm during these winter months. If you use a space heater, you must be very cautious. Recently, there were two house fires that investigators are saying may have been caused by space heaters. During the coldest months in Boston, the use of space heaters is quite common. With the recent conclusion of Burn Awareness Week, it is good to discuss and keep in mind how common a burn injury can be, and how it might lead to a product liability case.

These fires are just two examples of how dangerous a product can be. While both events happened in Texas, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that even more houses in the wintry state of Massachusetts make use of these potentially dangerous products. It was reported that a few pets died due to the fire; however, no people were injured. Not everybody is as lucky as the people in these two incidents. These kinds of fires may cause serious burn injuries or death — especially in the overnight hours when people are sleeping.

In both cases authorities believe the fire was caused by the use of a space heater. This demonstrates that space heaters can be dangerous products and that many things can go wrong with their use. It is possible that the heaters may have been defective or may have had insufficient warning labels. They can easily catch on fire if placed near a flammable object such as furniture or fabric. There also may be something wrong with the wiring if it was not correctly assembled.

If you are burned by the use of a space heater, it is good to know your legal options. If defects are found due to manufacturer negligence or various other flaws in a product such as a space heater, you could receive compensation for your injuries. With the continued cold weather, it is advisable to take note of these two accidents and be careful when using space heaters.

Source: KTRK-TV, “Houston firefighters battle two house fires, both blamed on space heaters,” Feb. 7, 2014