July 2016 - Kamerow Law
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Personal Injury and Products Liability

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Alexandria, VA 22311
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Personal Injury and Products Liability

People often place their personal and financial well-being into the reliance upon products. When these products fail, great harm can result. The ways in which a consumer of a failing product may recover for product repair or replacement, property damage and personal injury depend on the circumstances.

The Hand Formula for Determining Negligence

Manufacturers can be found negligent in the way they design or market products. Courts use a formula to determine if the consumer has a cause of action after suffering harm arising out of the malfunction of a product. The formula is expressed as PL>B, where B is the burden of the manufacturer in implementing the design, manufacture and quality control necessary to prevent the harm, P is the probability of harm to be caused by the product, and L is the degree of harm. While it seems extraordinarily illogical for an abstract legal concept such as negligence to be expressed in mathematical terms, it works well in judging liability. This formula was introduced by Judge Learned Hand.

Simply put, this formula considers whether the likelihood of harm joined with the possible gravity of it outweighs the burden of the manufacturer in implementing procedures, alternative designs, or materials to prevent the harm. If it does, the manufacturer is liable for failing to implement those alternatives. If the alternatives are more costly, the manufacturer incurs no liability for utilizing the methods chosen.

Strict Products Liability

At times, injuries caused by products will be recoverable by a plaintiff who need not demonstrate negligence on the part of the manufacturer, as discussed above. Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer, strict products liability focuses on the inanimate product, itself. Any user of the product who is injured can make a cause of action in such a case.

The defendant in such a case must be a manufacturer or merchant who regularly sells such products. Occasional sellers such as flea market vendors usually incur no liability from strict product liability cases.

To be valid, the harm must extend beyond the product itself, and have injured a person or damage other property. Also, the product must be a physical good and not a service. If it is hybrid of both, the preponderance of it must be a physical product.

Defects

To prove such a case, the injured party must demonstrate an actual defect. This may take the form in a design, manufacture, or warning failure associated with the product.

A manufacturing flaw arises when the product somehow deviates from the intended design during the manufacturing process. Foreign matter found in canned goods is a common form of this defect.

Design flaws arise when the product is manufactured exactly as planned, but the design is somehow bad and leads to harm. A theoretical product with exposed, live electrical wiring would be an example of a design flaw.

Lastly, a defect might exist in the failure of the manufacturer to warn about relevant characteristics of the product likely to cause harm to the user.

Get Legal Representation to Gain Just Compensation     

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or property damage caused by a defective product, assert your rights and demand just monetary compensation. The law provides remedies for harmful products, but only a licensed and experienced attorney can recover your full claim as allowed by law. Contact the attorneys at the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC in Virginia for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

Negligent Car Accidents

In recent years automobile accidents have increased in frequency. One cause is the ever-increasing volume of traffic, but a more culpable one is the increasing trend of people multi-tasking while driving. Undertaking secondary tasks while behind the wheel of a vehicle on the public roadways divides the driver’s attention and effectively diminishes the capacity to concentrate on safe driving.  This behavior can encompass many activities, examples of which include eating and applying makeup, but the most common multi-tasking activity that divides the attention of drivers on our streets and highways is the manipulation of cell phones while behind the wheel. Each year, thousands of people nationwide suffer injury and death at the hands of others who choose to text or otherwise interact with cell phones while driving. For this reason, legislators in a majority of states have enacted statutes prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.

Malice Intent

One necessary element of crimes against persons, such as homicide, is malice intent, which is a legal term describing the intent to do harm. While most motorists who get into accidents as a result of cell phone manipulation never meant to harm anyone, harm often results. The average person who causes an accident by driving while texting simply intended to commute to work, arrive at social engagements, or otherwise condense the utility of time by communicating via cell phone while driving. Nevertheless, malice does exist. At the point at which a person makes the conscious decision to pick up a cell phone and avert line of sight from the roadway to the phone, that person knowingly makes a concurrent decision to create the risk that an accident might result. The risk endangers others on and near the roadway, and not merely the driver. For these reasons, a seemingly innocent accident victim can be deemed by law to have acted with malice upon making the conscious decision to manipulate a cell phone while driving.

In Virginia, if a driver texts or otherwise interacts with a cell phone while driving and as a result, causes an accident that, in turn, causes the death of another, that driver could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. While Virginia statutes do not cover such charges, they are part of the Commonwealth’s common law offenses.

Civil Liability

Accidents caused by cell phone use at the same time as driving create civil liability as well as criminal liability. A case in negligence can arise under such circumstances, and can be won against the texting driver who causes harm, even if that defendant was found innocent in criminal court. The burden of proof in a criminal case is that beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas the level of proof needed in a civil case is significantly lower, being a preponderance of the evidence.

Get Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that is likely to have been caused by cell phone use while driving, you need legal assistance. Causation is a necessary element to win any case involving property damage, death, or personal injury, and can be a very difficult to prove in a court of law. Contact the attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC in Alexandria for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

 

Standards of Safety for Bicyclists

Virginia law regards bicycles as vehicles, and accordingly, persons riding bicycles on public roadways are subject to the same rules as motorists in engine driven vehicles, except when the language of the Code of Virginia section on motor vehicles stipulates otherwise. This means that stop signs, red lights, pedestrian crosswalks, and other regulated features must be obeyed by bicyclists.

Virginia Code 46.2-100 defines a bicycle as “a device propelled solely by human power, upon which a person may ride either on or astride a regular seat attached thereto, having two or more wheels in tandem, including children’s bicycles except a toy vehicle intended for use by young children.” That same statute goes on to establish that a “bicycle is a vehicle when operated on the highway.”

It goes without saying that people involved in traffic crashes while riding bicycles are subject to much greater levels of bodily injury than those protected within passenger cars, and therefore should undertake a high level of vigilance with regard to obeying safe riding practices including wearing protective helmets, high visibility clothing or vests, and following the rules of the road.

Common Accident Patterns Involving Bicycles

  • Bicyclist riding against the direction of traffic

One of the most common accident patterns is caused by a bicyclist riding against the direction of traffic. Risk created by this violation encompasses a head on collision which usually has particularly devastating results. While it might seem safe because it affords the bicyclist a view of traffic, this practice allows less time for oncoming motor vehicle traffic to observe and therefore accommodate the bicycle, especially around curves or just past inclines. Riders of bicycles should always ride in the direction of traffic.

  • Bicycle unsafely emerges from alley or driveway

Just as drivers in cars have the duty to stop before emerging from an alley, driveway, and other entryways leading onto a public roadway, bicyclists must come to a complete stop and look both ways when making initial access onto a road.

Usually, lack of timely visibility is a contributing factor in accidents resulting from this violation. Bicycles making this type of entry onto streets are often hidden by shrubbery or buildings until they are well within the path of a moving motor vehicle. Likewise, cars emerging onto traffic lanes lack the ability to see oncoming bicycles when backing out onto the street or pulling out from narrow alleys lined with physical structures.

  • Bicycle swerves or weaves among traffic lanes

Bicycles should stay to the right of traffic, and within the bicycle lane if one has been provided. As a general rule, slower traffic, regardless of vehicle type, should stay to the right. This rule is particularly important in preventing bicycle accidents.  Bike riders entering into the lanes of traffic, which usually travels at speeds greater than the bicycle, creates unpredictability for motor vehicles and amount to hazards on the roadway.

Get Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one suffered property damage or personal injury as the result of a traffic crash involving a bicycle, the stakes could involve your freedom and your finances. Whether you were the driver of a motor vehicle or a bicyclist, whether you were the alleged cause of the accident or merely victimized by it, your rights hang in the balance until competent legal representation ensures them. Contact the experienced accident attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC in Alexandria for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088