A Personal History of Negligence – Is It Relevant?

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We all know individuals who are chronically clumsy or careless. These generally are not bad people; rather, they simply seem to routinely forget to take the precautions and protections necessary to keep themselves and those around them safe. While this can cause these individuals to develop a negative social reputation – individuals know to be on their guard whenever they are around such people – can this reputation be used in a personal injury lawsuit to help an injury victim prevail?

How Prior History Could Be Helpful to a Personal Injury Plaintiff

Plaintiffs who are injured by individuals known to be clumsy or negligent may wish to have this information presented to a judge or jury to help bolster their claim. The plaintiff could argue, for example, that because the defendant has a history of engaging in careless conduct that injures others, it is more likely than not true that the person engaged in careless behavior in the present case. In other words, the plaintiff could argue that while any defendant is capable of engaging in negligent conduct, a defendant with a reputation for clumsiness is more likely than others to have been careless in a personal injury incident.

The California Rules of Evidence and Evidence of Carelessness

Knowing the persuasive power of such evidence, the California Rules of Evidence prohibit a plaintiff from introducing evidence of a defendant’s character or reputation or of specific incidents of negligent behavior for the express purpose of creating an inference that the defendant is more likely to have committed a negligent act in the present case. To illustrate, the Rules of Evidence in California would not permit a plaintiff to introduce the fact that the defendant has been found at-fault in five previous car accidents to suggest to the judge or jury that the defendant is at fault in the present case.

There are exceptions to this general prohibition, however. First, evidence of prior acts or reputation can be admitted as evidence of the defendant’s motive or the lack of mistake. Also (and more significant), evidence of prior acts or reputation is admissible when used to rebut the defendant’s characterization of his or her habits or reputation. If the defendant in a car accident case testifies that he has a spotless driving record and is a careful driver, the plaintiff could then introduce evidence of prior car accidents in which the defendant has been involved to rebut the defendant’s testimony.  

Contact Case Barnett Law for Help with Your California Car Wreck Lawsuit

The experienced Orange County car accident lawyers at Case Barnett Law are thoroughly familiar with the rules of evidence applicable in California personal injury lawsuits. We know how to help you build a convincing case for compensation, and we will devote our firm’s resources to collecting the evidence you will need to prevail in your case. Call Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990, or reach out to the firm online for help today.

When are Warning Labels Appropriate for Products?

In our current culture, we are accustomed to seeing warning labels on various types of products – lightbulbs, coffee cups, and scissors are just a few of the everyday items we use that have one or more obvious dangers but that still have labels and advisories alerting consumers and users of the product to those dangers. Are avocados the next product to receive a warning label? According to a report in the London-based Times, surgeons in the United Kingdom are seeing increasing numbers of patients who have caused serious damage to their hands (including nerve damage). This has led the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons to begin pushing for warning labels on the delicious fruits.

When are Warning Labels Appropriate for Products?

In general, manufacturers of products that may be dangerous to the average consumer even when used as directed are generally advised to include warning labels alerting consumers to these dangers. This is why many disposable coffee cups include a warning regarding the likely temperature of the contents, why scissors include a warning on the package advising the user of the potential dangers of being stabbed or cut, and why lightbulb packages alert the consumer about the heat that a lightbulb can produce.

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Are Avocado Warning Labels Coming Soon?

Unlike dangers that are inherent in a product’s design and construction, avocados themselves are not inherently dangerous. That is, holding an avocado or deciding to use one in your next meal is not in and of itself dangerous. It is only when one decides to use a knife or other sharp instrument improperly while opening an avocado that one risks stabbing one’s hand and/or causing nerve damage as a result of a stab wound. Because there are no “hidden or obvious” dangers with the avocado itself, it is unlikely that avocado farmers will need to place warning labels on the fruit.

What If a Dangerous Product Does Not Have a Label?

If you or a loved one are harmed by a product that has dangerous characteristics or properties and there was no warning label present on the product and/or its packaging, a warning defect may exist. If the manufacturer of the product knew or should have known of the product’s dangerous characteristics and the manufacturer unreasonably failed to place a warning to alert consumers, then the manufacturer may be civilly liable to any consumers who are subsequently injured by the dangerous product. Whether a particular product needs a warning label – and, if so, how detailed that warning label ought to be – are usually fact-specific inquiries.
Case Barnett Law can assist you and/or your loved ones if you find yourself injured by a dangerous or defective product in California. Our experienced and dedicated legal team will investigate the facts and circumstances of your injury and will help you obtain compensation for your losses and injuries. Contact Case Barnett Law today to discuss your dangerous product-related injury by calling (949) 861-2900 or by reaching out to us online.