Premises Liability

We trust that the buildings we enter are safe and functional for at least the time that we will be there. This is reasonable and necessary to live our day to day lives without fear. However, this trust is sometimes misplaced. Especially as a building ages and the wear and tear starts to affect its structure, a premises can quickly become unsafe. It is, in this case, the responsibility to property owners to care for and maintain their buildings so that they may remain safe for all who enter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur.

Common premises liability cases involve: elevator / escalator injuries, slip and fall accidents, porch collapse, stair collapse, fires, toxic molds, lead paint exposure, mercury poisoning, pesticide exposure, swimming pool injuries.

Any accident involving the collapse of a structure in a building is often the result of the wear and tear that comes with a buildings ageing and frequent use. A building is way more likely to break down as years pass than due to an initial design flaw right after it is built. Buildings must be maintained and these structures must be consistently reinforced as time goes on so that injuries can be avoided. It is the responsibility of property owners to maintain their structures.

Injuries caused by dangerous premises can be extremely harmful and in some cases, life threatening. Because of the nature of such incidents, these are rarely simply unfortunate accidents. Many times, they would have been preventable if there had been proper upkeep and care of the building by property owners. Therefore, these often the fault of the carelessness or neglect of the product manufacturer or another party. In these cases the victim of such an injury may be owed certain damages.

Cerebral Palsy: From the Mildest to the Worst Types

Cerebral palsy, which is currently the most common neurological or brain disorder among children in the US, is an incurable, chronic condition that affects muscle coordination, body movement, sensation, perception, cognition, speech and many other brain functions. This disorder is a result either of abnormal brain growth or brain injury, the causes for which may have occurred before, during or after childbirth.

There are four major categories of cerebral palsy, each being based on the part/s of the body affected and the severity of the effects. These categories (and their sub-categories) include:

  • Spastic. This form of cerebral palsy is the most common in children; it also disrupts normal growth, limits stretching of muscles during movement, causes abnormal movements and malformations in the development of muscles and joints. Spastic CP has five types:
    • a.1. Spastic diplegia – which affects both legs or both arms, though, the legs are the ones most usually affected.
    • a.2. Spastic quadriplegia – this is the most incapacitating and severe type of spastic cerebral palsy, affecting all four limbs of the body.
    • a.3. Spastic hemiplegia –this disorder impairs the limbs on one side of the body (one arm and one leg).
    • a.4. Spastic monoplegia and spastic triplegia – the first affects only one limb ( one leg or one arm), while the second affects three limbs. These types of CP are very rare, though.
  • Athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy – this involves slow and uncontrolled writhing movements of one’s hands, arms and/or legs, as well as involuntary facial grimaces and drooling. This type of cerebral palsy does not affect a child’s mental ability, though, allowing him/her to even possess above average intelligence.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – a child suffering from this type of CP can be deemed as clumsy and/or jerky. It also causes tremors or shaky movements, and difficulty in maintaining balance, in patients.
  • Mixed cerebral palsy – is the combination of any two types of cerebral palsy; however, the most common is the combination of athetoid and spastic.

Many of the causes of cerebral palsy are results of acts of negligence that lead to medical malpractice.

The Very Serious Risks Presented by Defective Tires

When talking about a vehicle’s most important safety features the parts that many experts commonly identify are the tires. Tires directly affect and influence any vehicles’ braking capability, stability, handling, steering and traction as these are the ones that have direct contact with the road; thus, when tires are defective or fail, these can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and possibly suffer a tragic accident, especially if the vehicle is running at highway speed.

To make sure that vehicles and aftermarket vehicle parts would never cause accidents or would be able to provide enough protection to drivers and passengers if ever an accident occurs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the federal government, has issued the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Regulations. These regulations on safety standards specify the minimum safety performance required on motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts; all manufacturers are called to conform and certify compliance with this regulation, which aims to protect the public “against unreasonable risk of crashes occurring as a result of the design, construction, or performance of motor vehicles,” as well as “against unreasonable risk of death or injury in the event crashes do occur.” (

Data from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate close to 11,000 tire-related accidents in the US every year; these accidents leave about 200 dead and 6,000 injured. Some of the identified causes of these accidents include:

  • Tire Defects – this may be due to poor manufacturing standards or poor engineering tire design.
  • Tread Separation – the result of the tire’s belts getting torn apart from one another. This leads to the tread getting detached from the tire while the vehicle is at high speed. Tread separation, which is actually due to manufacturing flaws, like insufficient tire bonding, increases the risk of catastrophic accidents;
  • Tire Blowout – usually due to a cut or a puncture in the tire’s sidewall which, in turn, is due to a faulty rim that either causes the bead to break or a cut into the sidewall. Tire blowout can also occur because of low or high air pressure in the tire or if the vehicle drives over a sharp object, like a nail.
  • Sidewall Zipper Failure – this tire failure is so named due to the zipper pattern that usually appears after tire damage occurs; it is characterized by the tire’s sidewall’s explosion which can occur while the tire is being inflated.
  • Bead Fracture – this is due to the high stress suffered by the bead that has gotten caught on the rim during tire mounting. Bead fracture can result to low-pressure explosions that can end up in very serious injuries, like head injuries, dismemberment or even death.

It is very important that manufacturers produce good tires and that drivers make sure that their vehicle’s tires are in good condition, especially before a long drive. While auto manufacturers advise car owners to replace their vehicle’s tires every six years, tire manufacturers lengthen the years to 10 (tires wear faster in southern states, though, because of the high temperatures in the region).

Victims of accidents (due to tire defects) have the right to pursue legal actions against liable parties, as well as receive compensation from them for all the present and future damages they will suffer due to whatever injury they have sustained.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Paid

Divorce can be devastating, but according to the website of the Marshall Taylor Law Firm there are situations in which divorce can be a blessed relief. Infidelity is one of the main reasons for divorce, but there exist circumstances, at least in North Carolina, when your divorce lawyer may instead advise a different legal action first: an alienation of affection lawsuit.

Similar to a personal injury lawsuit, alienation of affection is a common tort law that allows a spouse who has been cheated on to demand compensation from the philandering spouse for it in civil court. It differs from adultery, which is a degree misdemeanor in most states where it is illegal that can include fines and jail time, because there has to be proof of sexual intercourse. With alienation of affection, which is not a crime, the aim is to get compensated for the loss of affection.

In order to qualify for an alienation of affection action in North Carolina, the plaintiff has to basically demonstrate that the marriage was a loving one prior to alienation because of a third party. The complaining spouse (scorned man/woman) can sue that third party for taking away the love and affection of the wayward spouse. In one case, a Raleigh woman married for 33 years sued her husband’s girlfriend for alienation of affection and won. She was awarded $9 million in damages. Whether she eventually divorced her husband is not detailed.

Alienation of affection is a centuries-old law that is currently in force in 7 states. Like with any tort, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and alienation of affection can be difficult to prove. Since North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, it would be easier to simply file for divorce, but perhaps resulting in much less satisfaction. A divorce lawyer would be invaluable in assisting in such a case.

If your spouse has been unfaithful, your natural reaction is to call it quits. But you can get back at your spouse’s paramour before filing for divorce by suing him or her for alienation of affection. Consult with a divorce lawyer in your area about helping you pursue this course of action.

Personal Injury: Accidents Involving Pedestrians

A car collision can cause severe physical injuries to the drivers involved and to the car’s other passengers (if there are any); imagine, however, the severity of harm it can cause pedestrians. Without anything to protect them from the forceful impact of an incoming vehicle, an accident will surely not leave a pedestrian unscathed: worst scenario is he/she may either suffer a severe injury or untimely death.

An article on the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® airs the same concern, saying that the pedestrian will always be in the losing end; more so if the vehicle involved in the accident is an SUV or a truck as these vehicles’ bumpers can be higher than the pedestrian’s waist level [studies have shown that when a person is hit by a car (the bumper of which is below the person’s waist level), it would lift him/her onto the car’s hood; if the vehicle’s bumper is above the waist level, though, then the pedestrian can be thrown forward first and then possibly be run over by the vehicle].

Every year, around 70, 000 pedestrians figure in a car accident; about 4, 500 of these are fatal or end in death a few days after the accident. According to the National Safety Council, the greater majority of non-fatal pedestrian accidents happen in urban areas, where the volume of cars and pedestrian activities are always high. Fatal accidents, however, are more frequent in rural areas, where traffic is much lighter, allowing vehicles to run a greater speed; the absence of sidewalks, shoulders (as pedestrian facilities), paths and street lighting at nighttime (for greater visibility of pedestrians) also increase the risk of accidents.

Now, what makes pedestrian safety a concern for everyone? The fact that all Americans use streets and sidewalks longer and more often than driving their car. In fact, being a pedestrian is one thing that all Americans have in common. Besides walking, the description of a pedestrian also applies to joggers or to someone waiting for a cab or the bus at a street corner – it actually refers to anyone who is on foot.

To make streets safer for pedestrians and motorists, some car manufacturers have began introducing accident avoidance technologies in motor vehicles that will give drivers the needed capability to avoid crashing into anything or anyone. Among these modern safety features are the Forward Collision Warning system, the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake, and the Automatic Braking system. While there are features that simply slow down the vehicle to significantly reduce the force of impact (leaving the rest to the driver), there are systems that are capable of fully activating the brakes (without the need for driver input).

Accident avoidance technologies actually use car computers and sensors (radar, laser of video data) to detect any imminent collision with a pedestrian or another vehicle. Not all newly manufactured vehicles, however, are equipped with an accident avoidance technology, thus, one may consider choosing one (when purchasing a vehicle) that is equipped with a safety device.

A victim may be entitled to compensatory claims from the liable party/individual, but more often than not, however, it will be necessary to prove the other’s liability and support the injury with proper documents – a task that will definitely become easier and more orderly with the assistance of a personal injury attorney based in Santa Clarita.

Personal Injury Linked to Airbag Defects

This August 2014, Nissan North America is set to recall 226,326 more its cars (for a total of 664,628 vehicles) due to a defect in the cars’ air bag inflators. The inflators, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, were found to be at risk of rupturing when deployed during a crash. These can send metal fragments flying out and cause passengers serious injuries. Besides Nissan, other big car companies, such as Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chrysler and BMW, have also made recalls (in recent years) on certain lines of their cars due to the same problem – faulty air bags.

Years earlier, in 2004, more than 1.4 million recalls were recorded by the NHTSA. These were all due to wiring problems that can make airbags suddenly deploy for no reason at all. An airbag, otherwise known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 or FMVSS 208, is designed to provide cushion and protect the driver and occupants from hitting solid objects (like the dashboard, window or steering wheel) inside the car. Airbags, no doubt, are vital in car crashworthiness; but depending on how these have been manufactured and installed, these can either save thousands of lives or injure thousands instead. Three possible reasons for airbag-related injuries include: failure by the manufacturer to install the air bags inside the vehicle; the air bags do not deploy or deploy without cause; and, the airbags deploy despite a low-impact crash only, causing injury or death to the driver or passenger.

The most common cause of harm is due to airbags deploying despite low-impact crashes. This may be because of incorrect installation, the airbag itself was defective or there was no proper safety instruction. In this case, the victim and/or his/her family can file a claims lawsuit, especially if it can be proven that the product was really defective – a clear basis for a product liability lawsuit.

In the event of an injury, which can be linked to an airbag, it will be wise for the victim to immediately seek the assistance of an Appleton personal injury lawyer, who can help determine whether filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer is an action worth pursuing or not.

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