November 2016 - Kamerow Law
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Actionable Negligence Among Common Carriers

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Actionable Negligence Among Common Carriers

A common carrier is a provider of transportation of freight or passengers that promulgates rates and routes and accommodates all paying customers within its capabilities. Interstate bus companies such as Greyhound are examples of common carriers, but the definition includes public taxicabs, airlines, passenger ships, railroads, and trucking companies.

Common carriers are burdened with a higher standard of care to prevent harm than other entities engaged in transportation or other public business. A finding in Scales v. Boynton Cab Co. (1929) established that “[i]t is conceded that a common carrier owes its passengers the highest degree of care consistent with the transaction of its business.”

Res Ipsa Loquitur

The Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School defines res ipsa loquitur as “a principle that allows plaintiffs to meet their burden of proof with what is, in effect, circumstantial evidence. The plaintiff can create a rebuttable presumption of negligence by the defendant by proving that the harm would not ordinarily have occurred without negligence, that the object that caused the harm was under the defendant’s control, and that there are no other plausible explanations.”

Meaning “the thing speaks for itself,” res ipsa loquitur provides for a lower threshold of proof to show negligence on the part of a common carrier in cases in which the plaintiff has no way of knowing exactly what the common carrier or its employees have done or failed to do in conjunction with harm caused. For example, this principle can be invoked in a situation in which a collision occurs between two vehicles operated by the same defendant.

Not only collisions but any form of harm suffered while aboard the vehicle of a common carrier or at the hand of a common carrier is actionable pursuant to the imposition of a higher standard of care. Slip and fall circumstances arising in a public shop that would allow no recovery can allow recovery if they occur on a common carrier’s vehicle.

In one case, a female plaintiff was left with no choice but to exit a train at a subsequent stop after her intended stop, which was part of the train’s usual route, was missed by the conductor. After disembarking the train and while on foot in a high crime area surrounding the later stop, the plaintiff suffered harm while being assaulted. The plaintiff was awarded damages for the failure of the train to allow her to exit the train at her intended stop.

Get legal representation to demand just compensation

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or property damage as the result of an incident or accident while aboard a common carrier, the law provides protection for you and allows recovery with a lower burden of proof. However, liability for negligence and resultant harm is not absolute, but rather must be demonstrated by a skilled and experienced attorney. Contact the skilled and experienced accident attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC , for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

Mens Rea in Motorcycling

With its mild year-round weather, beautiful countryside, and historic urban scenery, the streets and roadways in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area host a large number of motorcycles. While motorcycling can be a very relaxing and enjoyable activity, it also poses a great threat. These vehicles present a heightened level of danger to riders and passengers because of the lack of protections afforded by cars, such as a four-wheeled base providing inherent stability and a protective compartment coupled with seatbelts. In the case of crash, this lack of protection leaves flesh and bone defenseless and at the mercy of pavement and other swiftly moving vehicles.

Danger engenders caution

Under most circumstances, this increased level of danger elicits the same behavior among riders as the principle of cost and demand that is found in economic theory; the more costly something is, the lower demand is for that thing. In other words, since the price of an accident is so high in terms of personal injury, riders are usually extra vigilant and take strict measures to prevent the occurrence of one. The inverse of this same principle proved true decades ago when most states implemented seatbelt laws. The mandatory wearing of seatbelts raised the number of accidents on roadways because drivers felt safer, and therefore, the cost of an accident (in terms of personal injury) went down, raising the demand for accidents (in terms of relaxed vigilance against their occurrence and a resultant higher frequency of accidents.)

Risk takers

Despite this, there is a small minority of motorcyclists who are risk takers. These riders disregard the dangers and push their rides to the limits of safety. The usual bike of choice for these riders belongs to a class of motorcycles known as sport bikes. Characterized by an aggressive forward-leaning riding position, these vehicles are designed for speed and agility and are capable of frighteningly high levels of speed and acceleration.

Stunt riders

This small faction of motorcyclists create danger by performing dangerous stunts on public roadways including riding at speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour and by performing both front wheelies and rear wheelies. Often, these thrill seekers ride in large groups.

While the brunt of the danger is borne by these stunt riders, the danger they create poses an insidious threat to all motorists sharing the roadway and pedestrians on nearby walkways because when a motorcycle loses control it becomes a projectile capable of causing severe damage and personal injury. Also, an errant motorcycle that strikes a car can cause the car to lose control, becoming a threat to others.

While most of these thrill-seekers are simply out for a fun ride and never mean to harm anyone, the choice to ride in a dangerous fashion constitutes recklessness, and therefore involves mens rea, which is defined as criminal intent.

Get legal assistance to fully recover for personal injury and property damage

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or property damage as a result of a motorcycle accident, you need an experienced accident attorney to properly demonstrate the fault, negligence and liability of others and to ensure that none becomes assigned to you. Contact the experienced accident attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.

I Inherited Real Property that Differs from the Description in the Deed

Property that abuts water is subject to change over years. Often, property lines can change and the owner does not become aware of the movement in boundaries until a dispute arises with a neighboring landowner or government entity, or is willed property and examines the deed as compared to the newly acquired land.

Accretion

Black’s Law Dictionary defines accretion with regard to real property as “[t]he gradual accumulation of land by natural forces, esp. as an alluvium is added to land situated on the bank of a river or on the seashore.” Shore lines are often used as property limits but are not necessarily static. When a water line is used as a defining border of a piece of property and that water line is moved in a direction so as to add land to the parcel in question, that increase in land becomes the part of the parcel and is rightfully owned by the owner of the waterfront land.

Avulsion

A necessary element for land to be added by changes in water lines that define property limits is the gradual nature of that change so that the change becomes perceptible only over long periods of time. However, water lines are subject to abrupt, overnight changes caused by severe storms. Such change is known as avulsion. Avulsion does not cause a change in property lines despite the fact that the previous water line defined the property limits.

Erosion

The opposite of accretion is erosion. Land can be washed away by natural forces of water flow and land becomes lost with respect to the shoreline or river bank. Accretion and erosion frequently occur in pairs and the loss in square footage in one parcel becomes an addition to another.

Consider the rapid expansion of a river affected by heavy rainfall which causes flooding that covers the houses built on adjacent land. It would be a substantial breach of justice for the riparian land owners to suffer loss of the property caused by avulsion, however, temporary it might be. Just as this is the law, exceptions to the rules governing accretion and erosion can apply to special situations.

The difference between changes created by accretion and erosion and those created by avulsion can be difficult to determine, yet the ownership of associated acreage pivots on the distinction. Courts have used the perceptibility test to determine the difference. The modern trend is that avulsion is deemed to apply only when the change takes place as the result of an event such as a severe storm.

Get legal assistance to protect your ownership rights

If you inherited property defined, in part, by the bank of a river or the shores of a lake or ocean, and you observe a disparity between the property itself and the description in the deed, you need legal assistance to protect your property rights. Contact the attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.