San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Product Liability

Wildfires continue to dominate the headlines in California and throughout our region.  For some, fires are a hard-to-watch story on the news.  For others, they are a very present danger, a threat to property and well-being.  Some wildfires are sparked by nature, but others are manmade.  Our San Francisco fire injury lawyer represents people who are injured or suffer the loss of a relative because of a manmade fire.  Attorney Brod and his team also use this blog to provide information that we hope helps prevent future tragedies.  Today’s topic is fresh from the headlines — water heater fires.

Water Heater Blamed for Massive Fire

On Wednesday, officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (“Cal Fire”) identified a faulty water heater located in an outbuilding as a significant factor causing one of our region’s massive fires.  According to the Napa Valley Register, Cal Fire representatives said the gas water heater sparked one of two fires that eventually became the Rocky Fire.  Flammable liquids in the outbuilding caught fire and then the blaze spread to nearby vegetation.  The Rocky Fire consumed almost 70,000 acres, caused the evacuation of 13,000 residents, and destroyed 43 homes before it was contained late last week.  Officials are still looking into the circumstances surrounding the fire and working to identify the cause of the second fire that became part of the Rocky Fire.

Other Water Heater Fires in the News

Water heaters are known to be a potential fire hazard, especially when flammable materials are stored in the vicinity.  In July, a San Antonio house fire began when a man was attempting to repair a water heater using spray-on foam.  My San Antonio reported that the man suffered minor burns.  In May, CBS affiliate WREG covered a house fire in Tennessee that investigators traced to a water heater.  Flames spread to the attic and the rest of the home.  A volunteer firefighter living in the home saved the lives of his own and the family was okay aside from a minor burn to the son’s face.  A family in Ghana was not as lucky.  According to Graphic Online, two children died earlier this week in a house fire.  While the cause has not been officially determined at the time of this writing, neighbors suggest that two water heaters may have been to blame.

The Details & Prevention Tips

waterheaterDo-it-yourself website The Family Handyman lists appliances, including water heaters and clothes dryers, among its Big 7 list of common causes of preventable home fires.  According to the site, lint in dryers and combustible materials stored near gas water heaters are the leading culprits of appliance fires which account for 7% of home fires and 4% of home fire deaths (stoves and heaters are in a separate category).  While that sounds like a small percentage, it is anything but small to those impacted by these fires.

The website suggests marking off and maintaining a three-foot “combustible free” zone around a water heater.  Other causes of water heater fires include defective equipment and installation/maintenance problems.  Always hire professionals, the cost is nothing compared to what you risk.

Fire Liability & Compensation 

When a fire is caused by the negligent or willful acts of an individual or corporate entity, the injured have a right to compensation via a civil claim.  A civil suit involving such a fire might include negligence, product liability, premises liability, and even landlord/tenant principles.  The Brod Law Firm is experienced in all these fields and is honored to help fire victims recover the money they are due.  We have offices for our fire injury law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Oakland to serve those injured by fire and/or smoke throughout Northern California.

We will continue to watch news reports and talk to people affected by this year’s wildfires.  We hope the fires stop forming and that the firefighters gain the upper-hand on those currently burning.  Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these terrible blazes.

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A Discussion of Electrical Fires from Your Santa Rosa Fire Injury Law Firm

When People Cause Wildfires: California Fire Injury Attorney on a Growing Threat

(Image by Shannon Prickett)

powerlinesEvery day the news seems to get more and more frightening as wildfires consume so much of our lovely state.  Our thoughts are with those who’ve been impacted by the fires and our thanks go out to all the men and women working to keep Californians safe and limit property damage.  While wildfires are, with good reason, the top fire-related headline at the moment, it is important to remember that other types of fires are always a concern.  As people in Guerneville and the surrounding areas were reminded this week, electrical fires are a real threat.  When an electrical fire causes injuries or death and the blaze can be traced to the negligence or wrongdoing of a person or entity, our Santa Rosa fire injury lawyer is prepared to fight for those affected using civil personal injury and/or wrongful death law.

Blaze that Consumed Shop in Guerneville Blamed on Electrical Transformer

The Press Democrat reports that a fire destroyed much of the Odd Fellows Recreation Club’s store located on the 13500 block of Riverside Drive.  The store is part of Odd Fellows Park, a private, limited-admission facility east of Guerneville encompassing 317 acres with campsites and a Russian River beach.  Fire broke out around 9:30 P.M. on Tuesday night and by 11 P.M. flames had gutted much of the structure.  Firefighters from at least seven fire agencies worked to extinguish the blaze which may have been ignited by a blown electrical transformer.  The paper does not mention any injuries, although it does not specifically state no injuries occurred.

Electrical Fire Statistics

In a 2013 report, the National Fire Protection Association indicates that approximately 47,700 home structure fires and 16,400 non-home structure fires reported to fire departments in the U.S. during 2011 involved an electrical failure or malfunction contributing to ignition.  Taken together, residential and non-residential electrical fires claimed the lives of 431 civilians and injured 1,813 civilians in 2011.  These numbers do not include fires where electrical equipment only provided the heat that led to ignition such as where a hot iron caused flammable fabric to ignite.  Fires involving an electrical failure or malfunction represent 74% of all home structure fires involving electrical or lighting equipment.

When equipment as a heat source is included, electrical distribution and lighting equipment were the fourth leading cause of home structure fires from 2007 to 2011.  Including electrical equipment as a heat source, the items that sparked the most home structure electrical fires in the 2007-2011 timeframe were: Wiring and related equipment (63%); Cords and plugs (11%); and Transformers and other power supplies (6%).  Interestingly, while cords and plugs accounted for 11% of home electrical distribution or lighting equipment fires, they were linked to 30% of civilian deaths and 21% of civilian injuries.

Accountability & Compensation

At the Brod Law Firm, we represent people injured in electrical fires and other blazes that can be traced to someone else’s negligent or wrongful acts.  Examples might include a fire that started because of a shoddy repair job on an electric generator or a fire that started because a landlord failed to respond to tenant complaints about a frayed wire in a common area.  These cases can involve traditional negligence theories and can also involve landlord/tenant law, product liability and premises liability principles.

If you have been injured or lost a close family member in an electrical fire or other blaze and you believe someone else is to blame, call us at (800) 427-7020 to discuss your legal rights.  Our Northern California fire injury attorney has offices in Sonoma County, San Francisco, and Oakland to serve your legal needs.

See Related Blog Posts:

When People Cause Wildfires: California Fire Injury Attorney on a Growing Threat

The Threat of Home Electrical Fires

(Image by Rachel Kramer)

Picture an escalator.  Some people stand still, others power-walk.  Parents hold children’s hands.  Some people barely break stride as they board, others hesitate and wait for just the right moment.  Typically, the biggest concern is an out-of-service flight that turns would-be-riders into climbers.  However, as we were reminded this week, escalator accidents are a very real danger and can have life-altering or even life-ending consequences.  When people are injured or killed due to an escalator accident in Northern California, our San Francisco injury lawyer is prepared to fight for their legal rights and the compensation they deserve.

Escalator Abruptly Stops Causing Stumble and Minor Injuries

At the time of this writing, few details had emerged about a Sunday afternoon escalator accident at the Powell BART station.  ABC7 reports that a man fell backwards into four women when an escalator stopped abruptly between the platform and the concourse.  Four people received treatment for minor injuries.

News Reports: Examples of Escalator Accidents Causing Injuries and Deaths in 2014/2015

A sampling of news reports from 2014 and 2015 vividly demonstrate that escalator accidents can have much more dire consequences.  Last month, a 3 year old boy suffered a foot injury when his boot became trapped in a step aboard a Burger King escalator in Welescalatorlington, New Zealand (The Dominion Post).  Also in June, a toddler lost his hand when it became stuck in a gap while playing aboard an escalator in a Kuala Lampur train station (AsiaOne) and a boy in India lost three fingers when, while riding a mall escalator with his parents, he fell and his hand became stuck near where the escalator meets the floor (Times of India).  In April, a five year old girl died at a mall in Kuala Lampur after slipping through a gap between an escalator and rail (The Star).

Children are not the only escalator accident victims.  Last week, Australian sports news site AFL.com reported that a man was in serious but stable condition after falling from a crowded escalator.  October 2014 saw at least two adult escalator fatalities.  One woman fell to her death while apparently playing around and straddling the rail after a hockey victory in St. Louis (Stltoday.com).  Another woman was strangled when first her scarf and then her hair became caught in a Montreal transit station escalator (CBC News).

Researchers Examine Details of Escalator Accidents

Escalator accidents are surprisingly common.  According to a 2013 research report titled “Riding the Escalator: How Dangerous is it Really?” (available via Medscape), there are approximately 10,000 escalator-injuries each year in the United States that result in emergency room treatment, a number that has been steadily rising since the 1990s.  Researchers reviewed incidents involving 173 patients over age 16 admitted to one Swiss hospital following escalator accidents.  There were two fatalities, one suffered a cardiac event before the accident and one incurred intracranial bleeding as a result of the escalator accident.  About half of the patients received only conservative treatments and half required hospital admission, with 55% of the admitted patients staying for more than 24 hours.

Public transit facilities (62%) and shopping centers (30%) saw the vast majority of the injuries reviewed in the study.  Patients were pretty evenly split by gender, but women tended to suffer lower extremity injuries while men tended to experience head/neck injuries.  Interestingly, half of injured men but only 7% of injured women were intoxicated at the time of injury.  Researchers noted that people over age 60 were hurt at a disproportionate rate.  While the 2013 report focused on adults, a 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics found, unsurprisingly, children under age 5 are disproportionately hurt in escalator accidents.

Escalator Accidents: Fault and Compensation  

True accidents do occur, but often investigation reveals someone (or some entity) was at fault.  In some cases, a defect in the escalator’s design (ex. an unsafe gap between the steps and the rail) is to blame.  Other cases involve an installation/maintenance defect (ex. loose connections or aging wires cause electrical malfunction).  The facility where the accident occurred may bear some of the blame as may companies involved in building and maintaining the escalator.  Another individual may also bear some of the fault, perhaps maliciously pushing someone down the escalator or causing a chain-reaction injury by failing to pay attention and stumbling at the end of the flight.  As in other accident cases, the principle of comparative fault is realistic and means people can recover even if they played a role in causing the accident (ex. a distracted person trips and her shoelace becomes caught in a stair).

If you or someone you love has been injured in an escalator accident in San Francisco or the surrounding region, you may be entitled to compensation.  Attorney Brod offers a no-cost consultation at the offices of our injury law firm in San Francisco, Oakland, or Santa Rosa.  If circumstances require, we can also come to you or schedule a telephone meeting.

See Related Blog Posts:

Bay Area Injury Attorney on the Rights of Balcony Collapse Victims

“The Sky Is Falling!”: Bay Area Injury Lawyer Examines Legal Rights Following Injuries from Falling Debris

(Image by Alexander Mueller)

The remnants of a picnic lunch sit on a blanket.  Mom shades her eyes as Junior calls out for her to watch.  Dad fires up the boat pulling Junior along in an inner tube.  He picks up speed and they all laugh as Junior struggles to hang on.  Most likely the day will be remembered for laughs and fun; sunburn and perhaps a bruise or two are all the family fears.  Sadly, tubing accidents can turn this seemingly idyllic summer scene tragic in mere moments.  As we look at the threat, the hearts of our Sonoma County drowning injury lawyer and legal team go out to a grieving family that will never look at a day on the lake the same again.

Holiday Turns Tragic with Lake Sonoma Drowning

On Monday, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that a dive team had recovered the body of a 14 year-old San Francisco boy who had been missing since July 4th.  According to reports, the boy and his younger cousin had been playing on inflatable toys during a Lake Sonoma gathering when they drifted further than they intended.  After persuading 13 year-old aboard a personal watercraft to tow them to shore, the boys lost their grip on the rope and slipped into the water.  Neither boy could swim; neither was wearing a life jacket.  The survivor reports he initially panicked and held onto his cousin, but the pair separated.  The younger boy made it to shore.  His cousin never followed.

There appear to be many factors at play in the terrible incident at Lake Sonoma, the Lake’s first drowning since 2009.  It is not clear exactly what types of inflatable toys were being used and whether those toys carried appropriate warning labels.  Further, state law requires operators be at least 16 years old to operate a personal watercraft solo.  Children ages 12 to 15 may operate a two-person watercraft with an adult’s supervision.  These factors could only exacerbate the dangers of more typical water tubing.

Researchers Report 250% Increase in Water Tubing Accidents

Water tubing, as we will use the term, involves one or more individuals riding an inflatable inner tube while being pulled by a tow rope extending from a boat.  In 2013, researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital shared their findings from a 19-year study of water tubing accidents.  Noting the rising number of participants, the researchers tubingreported a 250% increase in the number of water tubing injuries from 2,068 injuries in 1991 to 7,216 injuries in 2009.  Since more than 83% of the injury-causing incidents occurred during the summer months, this translates into more than 65 people arriving in emergency rooms because of tubing injuries every summer day.

Looking more closely at the reported injuries, researchers found that the head (27%) and upper extremities (24%) were the most frequently injured parts of the body.  The most common types of injuries were sprains/strains (27%) and soft tissue injuries (16%).  Nearly half of all water tubing injuries resulted from contact with the water while contact with another individual accounted for 16% of the injuries.  Parsing the results by age, researchers found people under age 20 tended to suffer head injuries and were more likely to be injured during contact with another participant while adults tended to suffer knee injuries and be injured by contact with the water.

Researchers suggest several reasons for the increase in injuries beyond the simple increase in tubing participants.  Co-author Lara McKenzie, PhD. pointed to the inability of the rider to control direction and/or speed, the positioning of riders on the tube, and the number of riders aboard each tube as key factors in tubing accidents.

Legal Options Following Water Tubing Accidents

There may be a number of civil claims available to people injured while water tubing including claims based on product liability and traditional negligence theories.  Manufacturers, rental companies, and negligent boat operators are among those who might be legally responsible for a tubing tragedy.  We strongly believe that, in addition to compensating the injured and the grieving, civil litigation can prevent future tragedies by holding individuals/entities accountable for their actions and providing a warning to others who might engage in similar behaviors.

If you or someone you love is involved in a tubing accident in Sonoma or elsewhere in our region, please call our Northern California recreational law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, or Oakland.  We help families get through the hardest days of their lives.

See Related Blog Posts:

Sports Injury Attorney Looks at Soccer Injuries

Summer Safety Primer: Avoiding Accidental Pool Drownings

Fatal Personal Watercraft Collision in Contra Costa County Points to Dangers of Recreational Boating

(Image by Kevin aka kkilometer via Flickr)

baybridge2While the Golden Gate Bridge is the traditional symbol of our town, we think that other spans are no less beautiful.  Reopened in 2013 following reconstruction, a project that faced years of delays and ultimately cost five times initial estimates, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is a gorgeous piece of engineering.  However, given continuing Bay Bridge safety concerns, our San Francisco bridge accident law firm is left wondering whether the bridge will ultimately be recalled as beautiful but tragic.

Cracks Found in Rods Used in Bay Bridge Foundation

As reported on SFGate.com, this week Caltrans formally acknowledged that tiny cracks found on rods used to secure the foundation of the Bay Bridge’s new tower may threaten to more than 400 other fasteners, particularly in an earthquake.  Caltrans chief engineer for the bridge project, Brian Mahoney, added: “As an engineer, if I have these micro­cracks I have to assume they exist in every rod.”

baybridgeLikewise, the agency admitted that a high-strength anchor rod, one of four in the tower, appears to have become brittle and snapped following exposure to water.  In 2013, a similar problem caused 32 rods on seismic stabilizers to fail after being submerged, costing Caltrans $45 million just months before the span’s much-anticipated re-opening.  On Tuesday, Mahoney told an oversight panel that experts found that a fastener that was removed for failure to hold up to testing suffered a “fast brittle facture.”  Experts suggest this type of failure could only occur if the rod was exposed to hydrogen in water.

Potentially Corrosive Saltwater Found in Rod Sleeves

These reports are particularly concerning in light of revelations earlier this month that approximately one-quarter of the steel rods anchoring the tower are in sleeves that are penetrated by corrosive salt water.  On June 5, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 120 rod sleeves continually flood and half of those will fill with over 6 inches of water in only a matter of weeks, some filling with more than a foot of water merely days after being drained.  Agency director Malcolm Dougherty who said that, while no bridge could be fully watertight, the saltwater intrusion is an issue because the foundation has “sensitivity to water getting to some components.”  He elaborated, “We need to protect this — we need to come up with a solution.”  The same article cited other potential concerns with the Bay Bridge including possible thread failures in a nut intended to secure one of the rods to a steel plate.

“Ominous” Results, “Unreliable” Components

An expert interviewed for this week’s article said that the discovery suggests the rods could break without a great deal of force, meaning they could snap even without the stress of an earthquake.  “[T]hey are unreliable in the service loads they are under now.”  Another expert called the results ominous and noted embrittlement can take years to occur.  He suggested that the bridge might be safe today but wondered how safe it will be in years to come.

The bridge oversight panel declined to approve spending to clean and protect the rods, opting to weigh the options following further testing and additional expert recommendations.  Per the June 6 article, the bridge project is already around $50 million over-budget and further testing could cost some $10 million.

Our Bridge Safety Law Firm

Bridge engineering accidents are incredibly serious whether the problem is a structural failure or a traffic accident caused by an unsafe design, such as the crashes that plagued the notorious S-curve that was part of a temporary fix to the old Bay Bridge span.  When such accidents occur, all those involved from government agencies to private construction firms to at-fault drivers must be held accountable.  We hope you never need us, but our Northern California bridge safety law firm is here to help if a bridge-related tragedy impacts you.

See Related Blog Posts:

Witnesses Call Into Question the Safety of the Bay Bridge, 4 Months After Re-Opening

Brittle Rods Break During Construction of Bay Bridge Eastern Span

As Public Access to New Bay Bridge Fast Approaches, Legacy of Old Span Will Include Wrongful Death Chapter

(Image1 (daylight) by torbakhopper, Image2 (shadow w/ boat) by Edward Stojakovic)

For many apartment dwellers, a balcony is their version of a backyard providing a chance to enjoy a sunny day or cool evening and functioning as an extension of their home.  Both occupants and visitors should be able to enjoy a balcony with confidence in its stability.  Sadly, as we were reminded this week, balcony and deck collapses are a very real danger.   San Francisco balcony collapse lawyer Greg Brod is prepared to use California law to help injured victims and grieving families following devastating balcony collapse tragedies.

Berkeley Balcony Collapse Kills Six, Injures Seven

In the early hours of Tuesday June 16, a balcony collapsed in downtown Berkeley claiming at least six lives and leaving seven others injured.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the collapse occurred at Liberty Gardens, a four-story apartment building on Kittredge Street near Shattuck Avenue.  The victims were attending a birthday celebration when the balcony of a top-floor apartment detached from the building and sent partygoers tumbling.  Most of those attending the party were Irish students participating in work-study programs.

Liberty Gardens was built in 2006 and is managed by Greystar with rents ranging from $2,150 to $4,000 per months.  The reason for the collapse was not initially evident.  Initial reports suggest up to 14 people were on the balcony when it fell.  Pieces of wood and insulation remained attached to the fourth-floor site while the balcony structure landed upside-down on the balcony one floor below.  During the initial investigation, police officials flagged at least one other balcony at the complex as potentially unsound.

Causes of Balcony and Deck Collapse

balconiesBalcony collapses can stem from a number of different causes.  In general terms, collapses can be traced to construction defects, improper/inadequate maintenance, and/or excess weight.  Maintenance problems that can lead to a collapse include rotting wood, rusted supports, and loose elements.  Construction defects can range from unsafe design to substandard materials.  Many sources, including Robson Forensic, cite ledger board failure as the most common cause of deck collapses.  The ledger board connects the balcony to the building and failure can caused the deck to pull away from the structure.

Balcony Collapse Injuries and California Law

When a person is injured or killed by a deck collapse on someone else’s property, premises liability law may help the victims recover monetary damages.  As defined in California Civil Jury Instruction 1000, the essential factual elements of a premises liability claim are: 1) The defendant owned/controlled the property; 2) The defendant negligently used or maintained the property; 3) The plaintiff suffered harm; and 4) The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor leading to the harm.

In many states, premises liability duties are based almost exclusively on the status of the injured person (i.e. invited guest, licensee, or trespasser).  While the plaintiff’s status may be a factor, California does not use rigid categories to determine the viability of a claim.  Instead, cases turn on the use of reasonable care.  Elaborating on the standard, Instruction 1001 explains: “A person who [owns/leases/occupies/ controls] property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.”  Factors that may be relevant to the question of reasonable care include the likelihood of injury, the probable degree of injury, and whether the defendant knew or should have known of the danger.

While premises liability is probably the most common basis for a deck collapse injury suit, it is not the only legal doctrine that can help.  Construction defect claims apply a professional standard of care and often turn on whether an injury was foreseeable.  When a faulty item such as a defective beam caused the collapse, product liability law can apply and provides the benefit of a strict liability standard.  Landlord/tenant issues can also arise in balcony collapse cases.

As a Northern California deck collapse law firm, The Brod Law Firm is prepared to use a wide-range of civil law principles to protect the injured and grieving.  Call for more information and to arrange a free consultation with Attorney Brod.

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“The Sky Is Falling!”: Bay Area Injury Lawyer Examines Legal Rights Following Injuries from Falling Debris

Theatre Collapses Injures Dozens, Investigator Say No Criminal Liability

(Image by Sharat Ganapati)

Imagine you’ve been hit by what feels like a nasty stomach flu.  You feel nauseous, develop diarrhea, and spike a fever.  Your body aches all over.  You feel miserable.  You haven’t heard about anything going around until you learn that a friend is battling a similar illness.  You and the friend shared a meal (or even just a snack) a few days prior.  The culprit may be listeria, a potentially deadly foodborne illness making headlines recently.  While symptoms can sometimes pass quickly, listeria can lead to life-threatening complications.  Listeria in particular is a major threat to an unborn baby if a pregnant woman is exposed.  Our Oakland foodborne illness attorney, Greg Brod, works to help victims of tainted foods recover compensation and obtain justice.  Attorney Brod and our firm’s clients also work to protect our nation’s food supply against future outbreaks by holding companies responsible for their products.

Massive Blue Bell Recall Tied to Listeria

On Monday, Blue Bell Creameries took an unusual step and recalled all of the company’s products from stores and food service establishments nationwide.  According to CNN, the recall follows weeks of narrower recalls linked to concerns the compbluebellany’s frozen treats might be contaminated with listeria.  Blue Bell representatives say it is unclear how the bacteria was introduced, but note that products sold in different states and produced in different plants have tested positive for listeria.  Current tests in Oklahoma revealed a strain of listeria nearly identical to that involved in an outbreak in Texas as far back as 2011.

Health official say three deaths and five other illnesses have been linked to listeria.  The officials say Blue Bell’s products may be to blame.   In a case of cruel irony, five of the sickened individuals had been treated at a Kansas hospital for unrelated ailments and at least four had consumed milkshakes made at the hospital using Blue Bell ice cream.

Hummus Recall

Blue Bell is not the only company facing a Listeria problem.  Earlier this month, the Oakland Tribune carried an Associated Press article that reported the recall of approximately 30,000 cases of hummus.  The recalled hummus was manufactured by The Sabra Dipping Co., a joint venture by the Strauss Group and PepsiCo.  Although officials are concerned the hummus may be tainted with Listeria, there have not been any reports of illness linked to the products.

Son of Listeria Victim Fights back

Listeria can be deadly.  This week, ABC reported on the emotional, regulatory, and legal fall-out of a deadly listeria outbreak last fall.  Eighty-one year-old Shirley Frey was one of seven people who died from listeria believed to have originated in an apple-packing plant in Bakersfield, California.  A total of 35 people in 12 states fell ill during the outbreak.

Frey’s son says he is committed to preventing future outbreaks and saving other families from heartbreak.  Brad Frey is expected to testify this week at a hearing in Washington, D.C. examining the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”).  The FSMA, signed into law by President Obama, attempts to institute a more preventative approach to food safety.  Prior to the FSMA, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) took a reactive approach and only responded after someone was sickened by foodborne bacteria.  Notably, it can be several weeks before someone who has been exposed to listeria becomes ill which means a reactive approach puts the FDA far behind and gives the bacteria the upper-hand.  Frey’s son is also pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.  As he told reporters, his mother had been conscious of food safety but consumers can only do so much and strong food safety rules are critical to the fight against foodborne illness.

Ensuring a Safe Food Supply

Civil suits involving foodborne illnesses, including both personal injury and wrongful death claims, often rest on a product liability theory.  Product liability law holds companies responsible for the products they manufacture and/or sell.  These claims may involve allegations of a manufacturing or design defect or can involve a claim that the company failed to provide adequate warnings/instructions.   In most cases, product liability involves a strict liability rule which means the plaintiff does not need to prove the company was negligent.  However, there can also be traditional negligence claims in addition to the strict liability allegations.

As a food poisoning law firm San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa, the Brod Law Firm is available to help victims of food-related illness throughout Northern California.  Please call to schedule a free consultation with our skilled product liability attorney.

 

See Related Blog Posts:

Sonoma Food Poisoning Lawyer on Food Safety Law and Allegations of Arsenic in Wine

Spotlight on Listeria as Retailers Pull Dips from Shelves Nationwide

(Photo by Johnny Hunter)

bounce.jpgFrom birthday parties to town fairs, bounce houses are a surefire way to make a child’s eyes light up. Somehow the same equipment that leaves many an adult with an upset stomach and a dizzy head makes children laugh and scream with glee. There are few joys as sweet as listening to kids have that much fun and it’s especially refreshing when modern day kids are enjoying something physical instead of staying “plugged in” and glued to a digital screen. Unfortunately while bounce houses are great fun, bounce house injuries are a very real danger and a concern to our San Francisco child injury attorney.

CPSC Reports on Increasing Number of Inflatable Amusement Injuries
Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) released a study looking at injuries associated with inflatable amusements. The study focuses on the ten-year period from 2003 through 2013 and looks at injuries tied to air-filled structures that use one or more blowers to provide a continuous air flow. Bounce houses, also called moon bounces or space walks are the most common type of inflatable amusements with slides, obstacle courses, and other games also falling into the category. Importantly, although they are quite similar, the report does not cover smaller structures that are only inflated once per use. Researchers used injury data from emergency room codes provided by a sample group and then extrapolated to create nationwide estimates.

From 2003 through 2013, there were an estimated 113,272 injuries associated with inflatable amusements treated in emergency rooms nationwide. A whopping 93% of these were tied to moon bounce style equipment. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 accounted for 61% of the injuries and 88% involved youths under age 15. The CPSC reports 12 deaths associated with inflatable amusements, 5 involving inflatable slides and 4 involving bounce houses. Many of the deaths involved head and/or neck injuries
The CPSC reports a statistically significant increase in inflatable amusement injuries in recent years. Seventy-three percent of the total injuries occurred in the second half of the decade-long study period. On average, there were 15,815 injuries annually from 2011 through 2013. This is compared to only 5,311 estimated injuries in 2003 and 6,101 in 2004. The report notes that it is unclear whether the increase is due to an increased injury rate or an increase in exposure (i.e. more people using the amusements).

Safety Tips for Parents Last week, USA Today reviewed the CPSC study and provided some safety tips for parents and other adults to help prevent inflatable amusement injuries. The recommendations include: 1) Always follow the instructions for setting up and using the equipment; 2) Use stakes and other anchors as indicated; 3) Stay alert for changing weather, particularly high winds; 4) Keep younger children away from power equipment, particularly when there is also water nearby; 5) Do not allow younger children to use bounce houses while older (often more physical) children are playing; 6) When the amusement is at a public event, be sure the event operators are licensed and experienced; 7) Have adults supervise children and also have the company supplying the equipment provides appropriate personnel to oversee set-up and use.

Legal Help When Injuries Occur If your child (or you) is injured while using an inflatable amusement, our Northern California bounce house injury attorney can help. There are a number of legal principles that may apply and you and/or your child may have a legal claim based on a manufacturing defect, a failure to provide adequate warnings, too few or poorly trained personnel, inadequate security, or other factors that led to the injury. Call to discuss your unique situation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Northern California Injury Looks At the Danger of Trampoline Injuries
Safety and Legal Concerns in Northern California Amusement Parks

(Image by Daniel Orth)

There are few sounds as good for the soul as the noise of children at play. In a world where technology often keeps even young children glued to screens, it is especially heart-warming to hear kids engaged in active, outdoor play. It is important for kids to take part in physical activity, but it is also important for that activity to be safe. Scooters have been one of the most popular outdoor toys for many years, but they are also one of the most dangerous. In today’s blog entry, our Oakland child injury lawyer focuses on the danger of scooter injuries, injuries that often involve defective products, careless drivers, or other forms of adult negligence.

Trio of California Scooter Deaths in Late 2014 Late 2014 saw at least three fatal scooter accidents in California. On November 11, a 14 year-old high school freshman was riding his scooter near his home in San Leandro. According to the San Francisco Chronicle a driver heading south in a scooter2.jpgnorthbound lane swerved, ran a red light, and crashed into the high school freshman who later succumbed to his injuries at an area hospital. Only one day later, a 13 year-old boy was riding his scooter to school when he was struck by a car and killed in Riverside, a town about an hour west of Los Angeles. Witnesses said that driver had also run through a red light and ABC7 reported that the 44 year-old driver was taken into custody on charges of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. A third child was killed in a scooter accident on December 26 in San Bernardino County. News station KTLA reported that 12 year-old boy was playing with his new Razor-brand scooter, a Christmas gift, when he the into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Study Blames Scooters for Increase in Toy-Related Accidents In December, USA Today reported on a study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics that focused on the problem of toy-related accidents. The study suggests that “kick” scooters, like the foot-powered collapsible Razor scooters that have been widely popular since around 2000, were largely responsible for a 40% increase in toy-related injuries between 1990 and 2011. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 52,500 children under age 15 were taken to the emergency room and one died as a result of injuries stemming from non-motorized scooter accidents in 2013 (Side note: It is unclear whether this number includes traffic accidents). The study authors and the CPSC urge parents to be sure children wear safety helmets when using scooters.

A Child Injury Law Firm for Scooter Accidents in Northern California Scooter accidents can be caused by a number of different factors. In some cases, the root cause is a defect in the toy itself. In other cases, a negligent driver bears responsibility for the accident. As a Northern California child injury lawyer, Attorney Greg Brod understands that each case is unique. Along with his team, Attorney Brod has the wide-range of experience in personal injury matters that is crucial for getting compensation for injured children and/or grieving families. If your child has been injured in a scooter accident in San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, or the surrounding communities, call to arrange a consultation. Most injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no cost unless you or your child receive compensation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Toy-Related Injuries in the Holiday Season
Toy Safety Reminder From Your San Francisco Injury Lawyer

(Image by Pabak Sarkar)

Technology is great. Until, that is, it isn’t. Our days our filled with technological devices that we couldn’t have even dreamed of even a short 15 years ago when the year 2000 arrived. New devices and modern additions to older products have changed the way we live, often offering huge safety improvements. However, sometimes a new technology turns out to be dangerous. Product liability law protects consumers in these situations. In today’s entry, our Oakland California product liability attorney examines in-car technology that has proved more harmful than good and looks at the types of product liability claims available to those harmed by a consumer item in the Bay Area.

Ford Recalls Vehicles, Design Linked to Unexpected Vehicle Shut-off
On Tuesday, CNN reported on the recall of approximately 13,500 Lincoln MKC crossover vehicles. The vehicles have a push-button ignition and buttons also take the place of a traditional gear shift. In a dangerous twist, Ford found that drivers who intend to press “S” pushstart.jpgto put the vehicle in sport mode sometimes hit the nearby start-stop button instead, causing the vehicle to shut down. Similarly, one car owner told federal regulators that his passenger was reaching for the radio but accidentally pressed the ignition switch button causing the vehicle to come to a sudden stop much as it would if a driver slammed on the brakes.

Ford plans to move the on-off button and reprogram the powertrain controls to prevent future incidents. The automaker says it is unaware of any injuries or accidents caused by the problem. Nonetheless, the problem poses a significant safety hazard. Ford also issued an unrelated recall for some MKCs involving a flaw in the fuel pump that could cause the vehicle to fail to start or cause it to stall while driving.

Notably, GM is dealing with a similar technology problem. In GM’s case, the believed culprit is a design flaw in the key ignition system that may cause cars to shut off unexpectedly. The flaw has been linked to at least 42 fatalities.

Product Liability Claims in California
Product liability law provides recourse for people injured by consumer products. In California, like in many other jurisdictions, there are three main theories under the product liability umbrella. Per the California Civil Jury Instructions, the theories and the related elements of proof are:

  • Design Defect: Must show: 1) The defendant sold, made or distributed the product; 2) The plaintiff suffered harm; 3) The design was a substantial factor causing that harm (note: defendant can prevail by showing the benefits of the design outweigh the risks).
  • Manufacturing Defect: Must show: 1) The defendant sold, made or distributed the product; 2) When the product left the defendant’s possession, it contained a manufacturing defect (i.e. did not conform to design specifications); 3) The plaintiff suffered harm; 4) The defect was a substantial factor causing that harm.
  • Failure to Warn: Must show: 1) The defendant sold, made or distributed the product; 2) The product carried potential known/knowable risks; 3) Those risks presented a substantial threat when the item was used properly or misused in a foreseeable or intended fashion; 4) An ordinary consumer would not recognize this risk; 5) The defendant did not adequately provide warning of the risk; 6) The plaintiff suffered harm; 7) The failure to warn was a substantial factor in this injury.

Importantly, most product liability claims involve a strict liability theory meaning the plaintiff does not need to show the defendant had a dangerous intent or was negligent. This is due to a policy judgment that companies should be responsible for injuries caused by their products.

If you were injured due to a vehicle defect, including a dangerously designed control panel that led to unexpected braking, we can help you recover compensation for your injuries. We can also help if a dangerous vehicle design or a defect claimed the life of a close relative. Call our product liability law firm in Santa Rosa, Oakland, or San Francisco to schedule a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
CA Vehicle Defect Attorney on Dealers Selling Used Cars Without Repair or Notice to Purchaser of Recall
Vehicle Recalls: Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

(Image by Flickr User tienvijftien)