Who is Liable When the Cause of Your Injuries is a Car Airbag?

Car airbags prevent many more serious injuries than they cause. The purpose of this post is not to make you cagey about riding in a car with airbags. The clickbait industry thrives on fear; there is an entire genre of articles that deal in variations on the theme of “Is your [insert name of harmless product that you use every day] endangering you?” This is not one of those articles; airbags make cars safer in the event of a car accident, not more dangerous. It is possible for airbags to cause injury, though, when they malfunction and even sometimes just by doing what they were designed to do. If you were injured in an incident involving a car airbag, you should contact a personal injury lawyer, just as you should for any other accident that results in injuries.  Depending on the nature of the accident, it could be just another car accident lawsuit, or you might have grounds for a product liability lawsuit.

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How Airbags Work

Airbags are fabric bags concealed within the steering wheel, door, or other structures of the car.  They contain an impact sensor and inflation mechanism, so that they can inflate quickly in a collision and then deflate slowly. They first became widespread in the 1980s; originally, they only protected drivers in front impact collisions; thus, they were less effective in minimizing injury during side impact crashes and could not protect passengers besides the driver. By contrast, many 2018 models of cars have six airbags or more.

While airbags can reduce injury by cushioning impact and acting as a restraint, the mere presence of airbags in your car does not mean that you will walk away from the accident without a scratch. The rapid inflation means that the airbags themselves can cause minor injuries such as bruises, even when they work ideally. If you get injured in a car accident despite the car’s airbags functioning as they should, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the driver whose negligence caused the accident.

When Airbags Malfunction, it Could be Product Liability

In a product liability lawsuit, the injured party sues the manufacturer of the defective product that caused the injury.  If your injuries were caused directly by a malfunctioning airbag, or if your injuries are more serious than they would have been if the airbag had worked properly, you might have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. These are some ways in which airbags have caused or worsened injuries in car accidents:

  • The airbag failed to inflate.
  • The airbag exploded, causing shrapnel to injure the plaintiff.

Airbags are designed for adults. If the airbag inflates when a child is in the passenger seat, it might injure the child because of the child’s height relative to the airbag. For this reason, children should never ride in the front seat until the meet the age and height requirement for doing so.

Contact Case Barnett About Car Accident Injuries

Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you have been injured in a car accident in which airbags inflate.

What California Women Should Know About Essure Lawsuits

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 11.10.25 AMWhen Essure first debuted on the market in 2002, the media hailed it as the least invasive form of permanent birth control possible. Until Essure became available, the only option for permanent contraception was tubal ligation, which can only be done through an invasive surgery.  Of course, some women who underwent treatment with Essure went on to experience complications ranging from pain to damage to internal organs. In California, as in other states, people who suffered injuries as a result of Essure have filed product liability lawsuits against Bayer, the company that makes Essure.

What is Essure, and How Does it Work?

Essure is an insert made of polyester fibers, nickel, and titanium, surrounded by coils. When inserted into the fallopian tubes, it causes fibrosis, leading to blockage of the tubes and therefore preventing pregnancy. Unlike tubal ligation, which must be done in a hospital and with general anesthesia, Essure is a much simpler procedure, not much different from inserting an intrauterine device (IUD). Promotional materials for Essure claimed that it only takes seven minutes to insert the device, and the procedure can be done on an outpatient basis, by the same OB/GYN doctors women see for all concerns related to reproductive health. The effects of Essure are permanent; removing the device and reversing its contraceptive effects is more complicated than reversing a tubal ligation. At least in theory, the only way a woman who has undergone Essure treatment can become pregnant is through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Product Liability Lawsuits Related to Essure

Many women who had had Essure devices inserted experienced complications. For example, some women required hysterectomies because of severe bleeding and pain. In other cases, the devices became dislodged from the patients’ fallopian tubes and damaged other organs. The lawsuits related to Essure are product liability lawsuits against Bayer. In other words, the plaintiffs’ injuries are the result of Bayer’s negligence in manufacturing and in marketing the device. They are not medical malpractice lawsuits because the physicians who inserted Essure were installing it in the safest possible way and made sure that the patients were good candidates to use Essure rather than other forms of birth control.

Bayer has received several citations from the FDA because of adverse events related to Essure.  For example, it has been cited for having Essure made in unlicensed factories and with unapproved materials. Since November 2016, the FDA has required that Essure bear a black box warning detailing the risks associated with the device. Since April 2018, doctors who prescribe Essure must first go through a checklist of questions and warnings with patients before they insert Essure.

Contact Case Barnett About Product Liability Cases

If you have been injured as a result of Essure or another medical device, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. You could receive compensation for your medical expenses and lost income. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.

Preventing Accidental Overdoses of Acetaminophen: Is Legal Action Required?

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 3.14.11 PM.pngAcetaminophen, which goes by the brand name Tylenol in the United States and the names paracetamol and Panadol in other countries, is one of the most widely consumed over-the-counter drugs. It is the only widely available over-the-counter painkiller that does not belong to the category of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Popular over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). While millions of people routinely take acetaminophen to relieve minor pain and do not suffer any adverse effects, taking an overdose of acetaminophen can cause acute liver failure and has even led to several deaths; thus, it has been at the center of several product liability lawsuits.  What is most alarming in these cases is that, sometimes, the doses at which the patients suffered adverse consequences were not very much higher than the recommended therapeutic doses. So far, there is no agreement on the best way to prevent accidental overdoses of acetaminophen.

How do Acetaminophen Overdoses Happen?

Acetaminophen is metabolized in the liver. The current recommended dose is not to exceed four grams of acetaminophen per day. That is equivalent to eight tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol in a 24-hour period (usually two pills every six hours). Some acetaminophen-containing OTC drugs, such as Excedrin Migraine, contain almost that much acetaminophen in a single dose, and thus, they are intended to be taken only once per day. At higher doses than that, liver damage can occur. Symptoms of overdose include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain; in many cases, the patient does not seek treatment until the liver damage is advanced, mistaking these symptoms as simply part of his or her illness. One of the reasons that acetaminophen overdoses are as frequent as they are (about 150 cases per year in the United States) is that acetaminophen is an ingredient in many common OTC medicines, including Nyquil and Theraflu. If you take the recommended dose of several of these medicines, you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize.

For example, Marcus Trunk suffered a wrist injury at his construction job in 1995, and he took Extra Strength Tylenol every day to relieve the pain from his injury while recovering. Shortly thereafter, he developed flu-like symptoms and began taking Theraflu, while continuing his regimen of Extra Strength Tylenol for his injury. Within a few weeks, he had died from liver failure at the age of 23.

How to Prevent Acetaminophen Overdoses

Manufacturers have begun to label acetaminophen-containing OTC medicines more clearly, so that patients do not unwittingly take higher doses than recommended. Consumers should also read the labels on OTC medicines carefully to be sure of how much of each active ingredient they are taking. Some countries have lowered the maximum recommended dose as a precaution.  Some even restrict the amount of acetaminophen one person can buy within a certain period of time, much the way the United States restricts the sale of certain cold and cough medicines with considerable potential for abuse.

Contact Case Barnett About Product Liability Cases

Have you suffered illness or injury because of a faulty or improperly labeled over-the-counter medicine? Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California for a consultation to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Accutane is the Focus of Many Product Liability Lawsuits

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Product liability lawsuits are legal cases in which the plaintiff claims that a product, such as a prescription drug or over-the-counter medicine, is more dangerous than its labeling or marketing suggest. When the plaintiffs win, such lawsuits can result in damages being awarded to plaintiffs to pay for medical expenses resulting from the illnesses or injuries they suffered because of the products. The defendant, namely the company that makes the dangerous product, can be required to label the product more clearly with references to its associated dangers, and it might have to pay punitive damages. In some cases, the court can require the defendant to stop selling the product entirely. One of the drugs that has been the subject of product liability lawsuits is the acne medication Accutane.

Accutane and its Alleged Risks

Accutane is a prescription drug manufactured by Roche. Dermatologists prescribe it to patients whose acne has failed to show improvement after treatment with more conventional remedies such as topical medications, antibiotics, or even hormonal contraceptives. Some patients who took Accutane reported severe psychiatric or digestive side effects from the drug, including suicidal thoughts and behavior, and inflammatory bowel disease. After numerous complaints and liability lawsuits, the drug’s manufacturers added a black box warning to the packaging of Accutane, informing patients of the side effects that some patients who had taken the drug had suffered.

Product Liability Lawsuits and Appeals

The product liability lawsuits related to Accutane go back more than eight years. Several thousand patients have sued Roche because of adverse effects related to taking the drug. Many of the lawsuits were filed in New Jersey, where Roche is headquartered, although the patients themselves came from many different states. Roche ended up paying millions of dollars of damages to thousands of plaintiffs.

In 2017, an appeals court overturned the decisions of many of the trial courts. The issues had to do mainly with which expert testimony the trial courts had allowed and which testimony they had suppressed. Namely, the trial court had not allowed the testimony of a gastroenterologist who argued that the Crohn’s disease suffered by some of the plaintiffs could have been the result of taking Accutane. Additionally, the trial court had suppressed the testimony of a statistician who criticized the methodology of some of the epidemiology studies cited by the parties.  Controversy over expert witness testimony is a fairly common issue in lawsuits related to personal injury, including product liability lawsuits.

Contact Case Barnett About Product Liability Cases

If your illness was not caused by a doctor’s negligence, it is not medical malpractice. Instead, it could be a case of product liability if the doctor acted in good faith but the product is more dangerous than anyone, including healthcare professionals realize. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you think that your illness or injuries are the result of severe side effects from a dangerous prescription or over-the-counter drug.