San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Product Liability

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)

Each year, Oxford Dictionaries picks a “Word of the Year,” a term of that a group of experts finds reflects the mood or the preoccupations of the year and has “lasting potential as a word cultural significance.” Having discussed the unique issues posed by electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) on this blog, our San Francisco product liability attorney is not surprised to hear this year’s term is “vape.” The term, an abbreviation for vapor or vaporize, refers to inhaling and exhaling the fumes produced by an electronic cigarette or related device. E-cigarettes are battery operated devices that produce a vapor from liquid nicotine. With the rise in popularity, cities, states, and the federal government are all considering whether and how to regulate the devices. At the same time, researchers are examining the safety of vaping and its health impact.

Regulation Questions Loom as E-Cigarette Use Skyrockets
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that e-cigarette use has surpassed traditional smoking among teens in the United States. The popularity has both federal and state authorities considering whether and how to regulate the devices as health experts examine a range of issues including whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit or serve as vaping.jpg something of a gateway into traditional smoking. The San Francisco Department of Public Health campaign is kicking off a campaign this week aimed at public awareness, with messages calling the devices harmful and referring to flavored versions as a way to hook young people on nicotine. Most health professionals say the devices expose users to fewer hazardous chemicals than regular cigarettes but the verdict is not yet in as to the overall impact on a user’s health. Sales are expected to grow 24% each year through 2018 and some analysts believe they will surpass traditional cigarettes for all users within a decade.

Currently, according to the Chronicle article, e-cigarettes are largely unregulated. They do not count as medical devices and are not actually smoked so avoid the rules covering traditional cigarettes. Last April, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to begin regulating the devices. San Francisco was among a number of cities that passed laws in 2014 treating e-cigarettes much like their traditional cousins. California lawmakers banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but further legislative regulations have failed to gain traction. While some groups push for more regulation, the industry is fighting attempts to regulate e-cigarettes and there is concern about regulations that vary greatly from one municipality to the next.

The E-Cigarette Health Debate
In June, Health News took a close look at e-cigarettes. While conceding that they are safer than traditional cigarettes, the researchers found e-cigarettes can deliver high levels of dangerous chemicals that have been linked to a range of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and asthma. E-cigarette vapors contain known lung irritants and both known and suspected carcinogens. Additionally, the vapors may make it harder to kill dangerous germs. A study found mice that inhaled air containing MRSA bacteria previously exposed to e-cigarette vapors had three times the number of bacteria in their lungs compared to mice who breathed air containing unexposed germs.

Representing Californians Injured by E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes may pose a significant health danger. There have also been numerous injuries as a result of malfunctioning e-cigarettes. If you or a loved one has been injured by electronic cigarettes, call our Northern California e-cigarette lawyer. Our team can help whether the injury is a result of a malfunctioning product or a health problem stemming from e-cigarette use.

See Related Blog Posts:
Considering the Health Impact of the Next Generation of Nicotine
Cigarette Fires & Civil Liability

(Image by Johnny Williams at ecigclick)

Holidays such as Christmas and Chanukah are about many things — religious beliefs, longstanding traditions, family, and friends, to name a few. For kids, no matter how hard adults try to teach otherwise, these holidays are often about one thing – presents! As parents, aunts, uncles, and dear friends, we find there are few pleasures as sweet as watching a child’s joy gifts.jpgwhen s/he opens just the right gift. The right toy can brighten a child’s entire face. And the wrong toy…to our Northern California child injury law firm the wrong toy is not the one that doesn’t match the child’s list but rather the one that results in a toy-related injury, a problem that is far too common this time of year.

40% Rise in Toy-Related Injuries Between 1990 and 2011
Earlier this month, CNN reported on a study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics abstract that found toy-related injuries increased 40% in the U.S. between 1990 and 2011. There were over 3 million kids treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries throughout the time span with the rate of injury rising from 18.88 per 10,000 children in 1990 to 26.42 in 2011. Dr. Gary Smith, lead researcher and Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, suggests these numbers underestimate the problem of toy injuries. The study included hospital emergency room visits but not injuries treated in urgent care centers and doctors offices in addition to those who did not seek treatment. The study also left out toy-related deaths.

Toy-Related Injuries: Common Culprits
What are the most common injuries and who is impacted? Just over half of toy-related injuries surveyed involved kids under age six. For children under age three, choking hazards are the top concern. For children under age five, indoor toys are usually to blame. For older kids, scooters are a leading source of toy-related injuries and Dr. Smith recommends the use of helmets and emphasizes adult supervision for riders under eight years of age.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group also conducts a yearly survey of toy safety. In 2014, their survey revealed many choking hazards and five toys that contained toxins in excess of federal standard including a play sheriff’s set with unsafe levels of lead and a tambourine marketed to young children that contained nearly ten times the legal limit of chromium. In addition to small parts that posed a choking hazard, several of the other items pose a danger if swallowed including balloons (which can become stuck in a child’s airway), magnets (which can cause severe internal damage if a child swallows two or more), and batteries (which can cause internal burns). Another area of concern is toys that are excessively noisy and can lead to hearing loss.

Helping Child Injury Victims in Northern California
If your child is the victim of a serious toy-related injury in Northern California, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

From our child injury law offices in Santa Rosa, Oakland, and San Francisco, we wish you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season. We are here if you need us. We hope you don’t.

See Related Blog Posts:
A Warning About the Danger of Falling Furniture from Our California Child Injury Law Office
Toy Safety Reminder From Your San Francisco Injury Lawyer

(Image by Flickr user Jennifer C. at www.metaphoricalplatypus.com)

It is a season of magic and happiness. It is a time for family. It is a time for memories, recalling holidays past and making memories to last a lifetime (or even longer as stories are told to the next generation). It is a special time, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice, or simply enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Sadly, the same decorations that help make the season special can turn a happy scene into a tragic one. In this post, we look at the risk of holiday decorating injuries with the goal of helping readers stay safe this holiday season and ensuring your memories are of family and friends not paramedics and emergency room personnel (though we cannot thank these everyday heroes enough for their work, especially when they sacrifice time with their families to protect all of ours).

xmaslight.jpg Holiday Decorating Injuries on the Rise
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), between November and December 2012 approximately 15,000 people ended up in the emergency room because of injuries linked to holiday decorations. The number has steadily increased since 2009 when the figure was 12,000. Put another way, there are currently somewhere around 250 injuries each day during the holiday season with falls, lacerations and back strains topping the list. Another holiday danger is fire with 200 fires per year between 2009 and 2011 originating with the Christmas tree, incidents that left 10 people dead, 20 injured, and caused $16 million in property damage. Candles were another common fire culprit, leading to 70 deaths, 680 injuries, and claiming $308 million in property from 2009 to 2011.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips
The CPSC provides a number of tips for preventing both fires and other holiday-related injuries including:

  • If you opt for a live tree, pick one that is fresh and keep the tree watered, monitoring the water level daily.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, look for one marked “Fire Resistant” but know that is still not a guarantee it cannot/will not catch fire.
  • Keep any type of tree away from heat sources like radiators, vents, and fireplaces.
  • Extinguish candles before leaving the room and before going to bed. Always put candles on stable, heat-resistant surfaces and keep them away from children and pets. Never put lighted candles near evergreens.
  • Choose holiday lights that indicate they have been fire-tested, such as those with an Underwriters Laboratories mark. Check all lights and discard any that have broken sockets, loose connections, or bare wires. Make sure outdoor lights have been approved for such uses.
  • Check extension cords and discard any with frayed or bare wires.
  • Practice general ladder safety, including following any warning labels.
  • If you have small children in the home take special care to avoid decorations that can break or otherwise injure a child and avoid anything that could pose a choking hazard (especially items that may look candy-like).

A bit of prevention can help keep December 2014 a joyful time. If a tragedy does occur and you believe someone else is to blame, such as a commercial location that failed to take care when decorating or a manufacturer that released an unsafe product, please know you are not alone. We hope you don’t need our services for a holiday-related injury but our San Francisco injury law firm is here to help if you do.

See Related Blog Posts:
The Threat of Home Electrical Fires
Fire Injury Lawyer Urges Caution to Prevent Home Heating Fires this Holiday Season

(Image by Jeffrey Smith)

Earlier this year, our San Francisco child injury attorney highlighted a recall that at the time involved some 1.3 million car seats , a number that has since ballooned to include an unprecedented 6.1 million seats. This week, the story became even more disturbing as an investigation opened into allegations that the company knowingly delayed alerting authorities to the potentially defective child safety seats.

Federal Agency Looks At Whether Company Delayed Reporting Child Seat Defect carseat.jpg
According to The New York Times, federal safety regulators opened an investigation this week into Graco Children’s Products focusing on whether the company delayed reporting a safety defect that became the subject of the nation’s largest child car seat recall. Earlier this year, Graco recalled approximately 6.1 million child safety seats because of concerns that the buckles may become difficult to unlatch and hinder the ability to remove a child during an emergency. Graco had resisted the recall, asserting that the seats were safe and claiming any problems were the result of food or liquids being spilled on the buckles rather than a safety defect. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) disagreed.

Regulators allege that Graco’s files show that the company knew about latch-related complaints as early as 2009 and was working to address the issue by 2012. Federal laws require that a manufacturer must inform the safety agency of a safety problem within five business days from the time the company becomes aware of the issue. Failing to meet this deadline can result in a civil fine of up to $35 million. Graco denies wrongdoing and also suggests there have been no injuries related to the alleged safety issue. However, company documents reviewed by the NHTSA include a report on a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the family of a two year-old allegedly killed in a car fire in 2011 while seated in a Graco car seat. A spokeswoman for the company said the buckle was not to blame but did not provide details, citing a confidentiality clause in a settlement agreement.

Notably, this is not the first time Graco has been accused of failing to inform officials of safety concerns. In 2005, the company paid a $4 million fine to resolve similar allegations by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Protecting the Injured: Child Injury Lawsuits in California
Recalls are an important safety tool. However, they cannot compensate those already harmed by the product. This is typically the job of the civil product liability laws.

In California, whether in product liability or traditional negligence actions, there are some important differences between a child injury claim and that of an adult. Most child injury claims, like most other personal injury suits, settle prior to trial. However, the court must approve these settlements in order to provide an extra layer of protection for the child (called a Minor’s Compromise, see Probate Code 3600 et seq. and the related pages provided by Alameda Probate Court for details). Typically the proceeds of a settlement or the funds awarded at trial are placed in a trust until the child turns 18, although monies can be accessed for injury-related care with court approval. Damages can include money for pain and suffering in addition to projected economic costs. Parents may have their own legal claim for reimbursement of money spent on the child’s medical expenses and, in some cases, for emotional distress and/or for the impact on the parent/child relationship.

If your child is injured because of a defective car seat, you should contact an experienced injury lawyer. You can be certain any manufacturer has an attorney on their side and your child deserves the protection of an experienced legal professional. Attorney Greg Brod can help and an initial conversation is always free. Call our child injury law firm in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, or Oakland to arrange a consultation.

See Related Blog Entries:
Recall Highlights the Importance of Child Safety Seats
Tools to Keep Children Safe: WHALE Program and Rules on Car Seat Replacement

(Image by Daniel X. O’Neil)

Throughout the year and especially in the holiday season, there is little we are more thankful for than family. As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and family of the heart, the team at the Brod Law Firm knows that protecting our youngest loved ones is one of our greatest duties and greatest honors. We are proud to serve as an Oakland child injury law firm and we are also dedicated to preventing accidents that hurt young children. One danger that often goes unnoticed until it is too late is improperly mounted and/or unsecured furniture, a danger illustrated in a recent accident at an area preschool and one that everyone who loves a child should know about.

Two Children Injured By Falling Cabinet at Fremont Preschool
This week’s Oakland Tribune reported on an accident that left two youngsters injured at a Fremont preschool. According to police, an improperly-mounted large wall cabinet fell onto two children while they were napping at an unnamed preschool located near Warren Avenue and Warm Springs Boulevard. Fire officials and police responded and found one child, a 3 year-old female, unresponsive. She was taken by helicopter to a children’s trauma center with critical injuries. As of Monday, her status had improved but she remained in the hospital. A second child incurred minor injuries.

Shocking Statistics on Furniture Tip-Over Injuries tipovers.jpg
A fact sheet authored by the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, a research group working to prevent intentional and unintentional injuries impacting children and adolescents, includes some surprising statistics on injuries caused by falling televisions and other furniture. Every day more than 40 children visit emergency rooms because of injuries caused by furniture tip-overs. For children under age 10, televisions are the leading culprit while desks, cabinets, and bookshelves cause the most injuries to those between 10 and 17 years old. More statistics are found on the US CPSC poster at left (image link follows entry). In some cases, children too young to appreciate the potential danger either pull the furniture down or are hurt when they try to climb on an item.

An Ounce of Prevention – Avoiding Injuries From Falling Furniture
The Alliance recommends that TVs either be mounted to walls with appropriate brackets or strapped to stands made for the heavy-duty job, preferably a low and wide base with the TV as far back as possible. Other heavy items should be kept on low shelves to minimize danger with large pieces of furniture secured to the wall using L-brackets, safety straps, or other attachments. There are options that do not require drilling holes available for items under 100lbs. Drawer stops should be placed on all drawers to prevent them from falling out onto an unsuspecting child.

In addition, adults should try to think of the room from the perspective of a curious child. Avoid placing toys or other items that are likely to attract a child’s interest on high shelving or on top of a television to avoid the risk of the child attempting to climb up to get the item and causing the unit to tumble. Likewise, cords should be tucked away to avoid a child pulling an item down.

We hope every parent and caretaker hears about the danger of falling furniture before witnessing it firsthand and that none of our readers ever has to receive the type of phone call that must have gone out to the parents of the two Fremont-area children. We urge that readers in any home or facility that hosts young children take a moment right now to walk around and look for any furniture or other bulk items that could fall over and injure a child. If you find a danger, fix it — do not run the risk of a terrible regret.

A Reminder from our Child Injury Attorney
When a child is injured, medical care (and love!) should be the first concern. Parents or guardians should also consider whether someone may be legally liable for the injuries, especially those that may have long-term impact on the child’s well-being. Was a caregiver negligent? Was a property owner careless? Did a company produce an unreasonably dangerous product? Was someone otherwise to blame?

If your child has been injured in the Northern California region, our injury lawyer can help. Call our child injury law office in Oakland, San Francisco, or Santa Rosa to arrange a no-cost consultation. Most injury cases are handled on a contingency basis so you only pay us if you (or your child) recover compensation.

See Related Blog Posts:
California Product Liability Lawyer Concerned by Danger Detergent Pods Pose to Young Children
A Difficult Calculation: California Wrongful Death Lawyer on Damages Following the Death of a Child

(Image by USCPSC)

headon.jpgIt seems like almost every week we hear about a new auto recall, many involving defects that could cause serious injuries or even lead to fatalities if necessary repairs are not made. When a recall is announced, those who own the subject vehicles often receive a notice in the mail about the recall. In other cases, the owners simply hear about the recall through the media, their ears perking up when their make/model/year is involved. What if, however, you purchase a used vehicle that was involved in a recall but never repaired? It is unlikely you’d remember every recall, especially a recall on a vehicle you didn’t own yet at the time it was announced. Our Northern California vehicle defect lawyer hopes that the car dealer would warn the buyer of any outstanding recalls, but a recent report suggests this may not always be the case.

Used Cars, Auto Recalls, and California Law
ABC7 recently spoke with a Fresno man who purchased a Dodge Ram from a used car lot. After owning it for fewer than 125 days, he was driving on Highway 41 when the drive shaft separated from the vehicle’s rear axle. The incident could have killed the new owner and bystanders.

Perhaps the most frightening part of the foregoing story is that was legal for the dealer to stay silent, hence the report including other examples noting that “potentially dangerous cars are hiding in plain sight.” As part of the investigation, a reporter spoke to a salesman about an advertised vehicle and was not told about two ongoing recalls despite directly asking the salesperson. A manager suggested that the office staff would intervene before the sale occurred, but the report cited examples that run counter to this promise. Another manager suggested new checks and balances would prevent the Dodge Ram accident, but the article doesn’t contain any evidence that this has occurred.

Proposed Changes, Purchaser Protections, and Civil Liability
An advocacy group is working to change the law on used car sales and recalls in California. Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, aka “C.A.R.S.,” is asking the legislature to pass a state law that would prevent dealers from selling vehicles under active recalls. Until such a law is passed, C.A.R.S. spokesperson Rosemary Shahan says people cannot trust the dealer and should do their own research before purchasing a vehicle. The organization is hoping to have a ballot initiative in 1016 that would require dealers to disclose any open recalls.

For readers considering a used car purchase, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a list of recalls and a database searchable by model and year. Additionally, the site allows you to use the unique Vehicle Identification Number (aka VIN) to see if a specific car has been repaired.

For those in Northern California who suffered injury due to a vehicle defect, our Oakland auto defect attorney can help determine any and all legal claims you may have, including claims against the manufacturer and/or claims against a seller. These claims involve complex issues of product liability and consumer protection law, issues Attorney Brod can help you understand and navigate as he works to get you compensation for your injuries or for a loved one’s death.

See Related Blog Posts:
Guardrails: When a Safety Device Becomes Dangerous
Vehicle Recalls: Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

(Image credit: Oragesky3)