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.

NHTSA Moves to Prevent Distracted Driving

It is no secret that distracted driving is on the rise, along with the numbers of injuries and deaths attributable to distracted driving. According to the  (NHTSA), approximately ten percent of all traffic fatalities are due to distracted driving. While distracted driving occurs any time the driver’s attention and/or eyes are diverted from the act of driving, texting and driving (or using one’s cell phone while driving) is the most common type of distracted driving. To combat this, NHTSA has just promulgated a new voluntary guideline applicable to smartphone and auto manufacturers.

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What the Voluntary Guidelines Attempt to Accomplish

According to the guidelines promulgated by NHTSA, smartphone manufacturers and automakers are to develop technology that is able to “sense” when a smartphone user is driving a vehicle and automatically disable many of the smartphone’s functions, including the ability to send and receive text messages and browse the internet. Although some auto manufacturers have already created technology that allows cellphone users to use a touchscreen inside the car to access many of a phone’s features, the technology contemplated by the guideline does not yet exist.

Voluntary Guidelines Do Not Absolve Drivers of Responsibility

Even when enacted, the voluntary guidelines are voluntary. This means that there are no legal ramifications for automakers or smartphone manufacturers who choose not to develop and/or implement the technology contemplated by the guidelines. This means that drivers who choose to text and drive – and who cause an accident as a result – cannot bring a claim for compensation against the automaker or smartphone manufacturer for failing to follow NHTSA’s recommendation.

The NHTSA guideline is also unlikely to have any mitigating effect on a car accident defendant’s culpability. In other words, suppose a defendant-driver in a car crash case is found to be 75 percent responsible for causing a crash because he or she was texting while driving. The defendant’s percentage of fault is not likely to be reduced by any amount if the defendant attempts to argue that the car manufacturer or smartphone maker failed to comply with NHTSA’s regulation.

What if New Technology Malfunctions and Causes a Car Crash?

If the technology that is the subject of NHTSA’s voluntary guideline is developed, and this technology malfunctions, however, the entity responsible for developing and/or integrating the technology may be held responsible if the malfunction causes a crash (i.e., by causing the phone to startle the driver). In such a case, it would be the defendant-driver’s responsibility to prove the manufacturer acted with negligence and that such negligence contributed to the crash. The judge or jury would then be responsible for determining the role the manufacturer’s negligence played in causing the crash.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact the Costa Mesa car crash law firm of Case Barnett Law at (949) 861-2990. You or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses, and our experienced legal team can assist you in obtaining the monetary damages you need to recover from your accident.

Catastrophic Damage in Car Accident Cases Can Come from Tiny Culprits

 

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Last month an elderly California man was killed in a car accident. This tragic occurrence would not likely have gained must attention by the news but for the manner in which the accident occurred. The man was traveling northbound on the highway at about the time a state-owned Caltrans water truck was traveling that same highway, going southbound. According to investigators, a metal cap used to seal the opening on the top of the truck’s water tank detached and flew across several lanes of traffic, striking the elderly man in his neck. The cap was described as being about the size of a baseball and about two to three inches in width. The man crashed into the center median before his car came to a stop. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

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When a “Simple” Car Accident is Not So Simple

When one hears of an injury or death resulting from a car crash, one might naturally assume that the cause for the crash is simple and straightforward: One or both drivers drove their cars in a careless fashion and the crash ensued as a result. For investigators and others looking at this case, determining the precise cause of the crash is not so simple. While it can be said that the cause of the crash was the metal cap that became detached and hit the man in his neck, this does not necessarily explain who or what entity was actually at fault. There could be any number of culprits responsible in this crash:

  •      The truck driver, if he or she failed to ensure that the cap was properly secured before driving;
  •      The truck’s maintenance department, if the cap was damaged in some manner and a maintenance worker should have or could have discovered the damage through routine inspection;
  •      The agency or office responsible for maintaining the road, if a defect in the road (such as a large pothole) caused the cap to come loose;
  •      The manufacturer of the cap, if a design or manufacturing defect resulted in the cap not being safe for its intended use.

Answering the questions necessary to determine liability in a case such as this (unfortunately) takes time – the sort of time that surviving family members and/or injury victims do not generally have. The sooner such an investigation is completed and responsible parties identified, however, the sooner the victim(s) can obtain compensation and monetary damages for their losses.

The Case for an Attorney

This is why hiring an experienced car crash attorney is crucial: The attorney’s experience and resources can be used to complete the requisite investigation in a timely manner. Injury victims who attempt to “go it alone” (unfortunately) find out quickly that obtaining adequate compensation for their losses is no easy task.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or collision, contact Case Barnett Law right away for assistance. Our years of experience helping numerous car accident clients means that you can trust our firm to identify and pursue compensation against those responsible for your injuries in a prompt manner. Call our firm at (949) 861-2990 to learn how we can help you or your loved one. You can also contact our firm online for assistance.

Hollywood Screenwriter Settles Defective Medical Device Claim for $4.2 Million

Product liability claims for defective medical devices can arise under a number of different situations, but frequently come about when a medical device that was not properly tested injures a patient. This type of personal injury lawsuit is very common as the sale of medical devices is a massive industry that brings in approximately $85 billion-per-year, according to DrugWatch.com. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only lightly regulates medical devices, and once the FDA clears a particular medical device, physicians may use the the device however they deem fit.

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According to StatNews.com, a defective medical device lawsuit filed in Southern California was recently settled outside of court for $4.2 million. In this case, the plaintiff was experiencing numbness and pain in his hands and went in for surgery to relieve the discomfort. Although the surgery initially appeared to be a success, the man later experienced trouble speaking, his left eye drooped, and he developed terrible pain in various body parts including his neck, arms, and hands. Experts determined that these unintended side effects were caused by the implant that surgeons had fused into the man’s neck in order to relieve his original hand pain. StatNews.com reports that the implant had not been approved to replace a bone in the neck, which is how it had been used in this case. The man settled his case with the hospital for $4.2 million, and with the manufacturer of the medical device, Medtronic, for an undisclosed amount.

 

Medical Devices and Off-Label Medical Device Uses

 

Although Medtronic has already settled the defective medical device claim outlined above outside of court, the company is also facing a whistleblower lawsuit which claims that the it gained approval for the device from the FDA under false pretenses and that the device is being regularly used for unintended purposes, reports StatNews.com. Plaintiffs in the case claim that the medical device was specifically labeled as “not for cervical spine use”, and yet the company made it known that the device was in fact meant to be used in the cervical spine based on marketing emails and the small size of the device itself. In rebuttal, Medtronic maintains that its company policy is to only promote their products for FDA approved purposes.

 

Types of Defective Product Liability Claims

 

If you have been injured by a defective medical device it is important to note that product liability claims for defective medical devices come in three different forms. The three types of defective product liability claims in the United States are:

  1. Defectively manufactured medical devices,
  2. Medical devices with a defective design, and
  3. Defectively marketed medical devices.

 

Need Legal Advice?

 

If you have been injured by a defective medical device and would like to file a personal injury claim, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to discuss your legal options with you during a free consultation. Our office in Newport Beach can be reached by calling (949) 861-2990.

Personal Injury Claims Filed Across California Due to Malfunctioning E-Cigarettes

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.31.07 AMIn the last few years electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes” as they are commonly called, have become increasingly popular across California. An e-cigarette is a cigarette-shaped device that vaporizes a nicotine based liquid that the user inhales in order to simulate the experience of smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. While researchers are not sure of the long-term health ramifications associated with using e-cigarettes, many people are switching from traditional to electronic cigarettes because of perceived health benefits. However, e-cigarettes may pose an unexpected risk to your health. An article in the National Law Review reports that there are a rising number of e-cigarette malfunctions occurring in California. Malfunctions are occurring in a number of different ways, including exploding and catching fire, and are causing serious bodily injuries. As a result, product liability lawsuits for personal injury claims are being filed across California.

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Malfunctioning E-Cigarettes

 

The National Law Review reports that numerous e-cigarettes have exploded or caught fire due to a defective heating element. E-cigarettes work by heating a nicotine based liquid to its boiling point via a heating element that is often powered by a lithium ion battery. If the battery overheats it can combust or explode. A malfunctioning e-cigarette can be particularly dangerous due to the fact that users generally hold the device in their hand or between their lips while smoking.

 

California’s Product Liability Laws

 

In California, as in other states, we have product liability laws designed to protect consumers who are injured by a product that has a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or did not include sufficient warnings or instructions. These laws generally hold manufacturers, as well as sellers and retailers involved in the product’s chain of distribution, liable for compensating parties who are injured by their product. However, before an injured party can win their case, they must prove that their injury was caused by a defect in the product. Because California embraces a strict liability approach to product liability claims, the injured party does not need to show that the defendant was negligent in allowing the product to be unreasonably dangerous.

 

California’s Statute of Limitations

 

Most states have statutes of limitation that limit the timeframe in which an injured party can file a personal injury claim based on a defective product. In California, under California’s Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, there is a statute of limitations that bars recovery for product liability claims that are filed more than two years after the injury was discovered. Therefore, if you have been injured by an e-cigarette in California do not wait too long before filing your lawsuit or else you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

 

Need Legal Advice?

 

If you have been injured by a malfunctioning e-cigarette in California and would like to discuss your legal rights, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to meet with you during a free consultation. Our office in Newport Beach can be reached by calling (949) 861-2990.