Category Archives: Product Liability

What Is Sudden Unintended Acceleration?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Car accidents can happen at any time, in any place, and for any reason. Many of these collisions occur due to negligent driving behaviors, such as speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence. Other accidents occur due to bad weather, poorly maintained roads, and sudden unintended acceleration. If you are injured in an accident due to sudden unintended acceleration, you could hold the at-fault party accountable for your losses through an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Understanding Sudden Unintended Acceleration

Sudden unintended acceleration refers to the unexpected or uncontrolled acceleration of a motor vehicle. Some drivers may be unable to brake or control the vehicle once it starts to accelerate. This dangerous occurrence can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, resulting in a motor vehicle accident. If another vehicle in your vicinity experiences sudden unintended acceleration, the driver can crash into without warning—leading to severe injuries and vehicle damage.

Many factors may contribute to sudden unintended acceleration. These accidents may occur due to defective vehicle parts, such as defective brakes or a mechanical or electrical issue inside of the vehicle. However, some of these accidents occur due to driver error. For example, a driver may accidentally step on the gas pedal instead of the brake, causing him or her to collide into another vehicle.

Legal Options for Sudden Unintended Acceleration Victims

Victims of sudden unintended acceleration have multiple options for compensation after their accident. Since California is a fault accident state, the at-fault party is responsible for the collision must pay for his or her victims’ damages. If you are injured after a driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes and collides into you, you could file an insurance claim or lawsuit against him or her.

Many cases of sudden unintended acceleration occur due to a defective vehicle part, however. In this situation, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of that defective part. You may need help from a Bakersfield car accident attorney to identify the nature of the defect.

What to Do If You Experience Sudden Unintended Acceleration

If your vehicle starts accelerating uncontrollably while you are on the road, it is important to remain calm and take careful steps to regain control of the vehicle. The following tips can help you reduce the risk of a serious collision in the event of sudden unintended acceleration.

  • Try hitting your brakes and apply as much force as possible. Keep the pressure on the brakes steady. Do not pump the brakes.
  • Avoid jerking your steering wheel—this could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. 
  • Do not turn off your engine. This will not stop the vehicle; it will only cause you to lose control of the brakes and your steering wheel, which you need to safely bring your car to a stop.
  • Put your vehicle in neutral or depress the clutch. This will hopefully stop the engine from moving your vehicle forward.
  • Once your vehicle starts to slow down, pull over in a safe location on the side of the road. 
  • When the vehicle comes to a stop, turn off the engine, set the parking brake, and exit the vehicle.

While these tips can help protect yourself in case of sudden acceleration, accidents may still occur. As soon as possible after your collision, seek medical attention, call 911, and contact a Bakersfield car accident lawyer. Your attorney will be able to evaluate your case and help craft a compelling case for your right to compensation.

Posted by highrank at 4:53 pm

Joel T. Andreesen Reflects on his 16 Years Spent at Rodriguez & Associates

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Joel_AndreesenJoel Andreesen attributes his lifelong commitment to fact-finding as a huge reason for his success as an attorney. And that success is about much more than financial settlements. Throughout his career, and during his 16 years at Rodriguez & Associates, where he is now a Senior Partner, Joel has been driven more by a desire to help victims reach closure than by any monetary prize.  

Joel was born and raised in a farming family in Iowa. Leaving that setting, he initially set out to become a journalist. Though he switched to law, he cites parts of his journalism training—rigorous investigation, meticulous fact-checking, effective communication—as enormously helpful to his work as an attorney.

Joel met and began working with Daniel Rodriguez at a different law firm in the late 1980s. Some years later, Daniel left to start Rodriguez & Associates, eventually proposing, in 2004, that Joel should come and work with him. Joel has been there ever since. 

At the firm, Joel says he covers many areas of personal injury, though he started off working on business litigation, employment law, and criminal defense. “I think all of those areas helped me at a young age to be able to get into the courtroom a lot sooner than if [I] was only doing personal injury work,” he says.

Over time, however, his interest shifted to personal injury because of the opportunity it provided in terms of helping others. Like so many at Rodriguez & Associates, that drive to help those in need motivates many of Joel’s choices, right down to the cases on which he chooses to work: “We’ve taken on cases that other firms have turned down that may be tough liability cases but we really truly wanted to try and help these people.“

He cites one product liability case from several years ago as a prime example. A family had contacted Rodriguez & Associates after the father was killed by a defective product. Joel says that another law firm had turned the case down flat out. Joel met with the family and, through what he says was some very basic research, determined that there was a real viable case against the product manufacturer based on a detail the other firm had overlooked. He won the case, and was even told by opposing counsel that the settlement received was the largest one ever paid out by the product manufacturer. 

Not that the money is the prime driver here. For Joel, the real payout was “the satisfaction of helping the family through this process and through a very difficult loss of a great loved one. In the end, we can never bring them back, but hopefully we can help [the family] through it.”

The success of that case is in no small part due to Joel’s commitment to the lengthy process of personal injury cases, which rely so much on minute details and require attorneys to keep very open minds in order to uncover new facts that could influence the outcome. “From the very beginning, we think as broadly as possible,” says Joel. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but Joel starts out treating each one as though it were headed to trial, in order to motivate himself and the team to put as much effort as possible into it.

That involves bringing experts onboard from the start — many firms do not bring experts in until the end — and making them part of the process. He gets other attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates involved because “the more eyes that can look at something the more possibilities come up.” And he conducts focus groups with potential juries in whichever county the case is taking place.

The long hours and attention to detail pay off, and not just in financial terms. For Joel, being an attorney is about helping those in need and bringing both material and emotional resolution to often tragic situations. For him, there is no greater settlement than that. 

 

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 2:37 pm

Who Is Liable for Injuries Caused by a Defective Product?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Suffering a defective product injury can be painful and confusing. Liability in product injury lawsuits can be complex, and you may not know who you can hold accountable for your injuries. Oftentimes, these cases involve multiple entities.

You can file a product liability lawsuit against any entity along the chain of distribution, depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury. You may name one defendant in your case, but it may be in your best interest to name every single entity or individual who was involved in the creation, sale, or supply of the defective product.

#1: The Manufacturer

The most obvious defendant in a product liability claim is the manufacturer of the product. These entities control multiple processes where the defect might have occurred, from assembling the product to developing an inherently defective design to failing to include adequate warnings or instructions. You can include additional parties who worked with the manufacturer on this product in your lawsuit as well.

#2: The Component Supplier

In products that contain several important components, such as motor vehicles, the manufacturer as a whole may not be solely liable for your injuries. If the accident occurred due to a component inside of the product that a third-party supplier provided, you can file a claim against the component supplier directly as well as the manufacturer.

#3: The Retailer

Although retailers are not involved in the design or manufacture of the product, they may be liable for selling you a defective product. Retailers have a responsibility to ensure that the products they sell are safe and not defective. They must remove any products that are defective, and failure to do so is an act of negligence.

You do not have to be the actual buyer of the product to hold the retailer accountable, and you do not have to be the product user either — for example, if you suffer an injury after a friend’s vape pen exploded, you can still hold the retailer, manufacturer, and any other entity involved in the chain of distribution accountable. Both new and used products may be eligible for this type of litigation.

#4: The Distributor

You can also hold the distributor or wholesaler who provided the product to the retailer responsible for your injuries. The distributor is the reason why the product made its way to store shelves, after all, and distributing a defective product is an act of negligence. Any middlemen that appear between manufacturers and retailers may be liable for your injuries.

What to Do After a Defective Product Injury

If you suffer an injury while using a product, you need to take two immediate actions: seek medical attention and preserve evidence. Keep the product and all physical evidence related to your injury, such as your clothing or vehicle — do not throw anything away. Visit a hospital as soon as possible to treat your injuries and save all documentation. After you seek medical attention, contact a product liability attorney.

Your defective product lawyer can help you determine the cause of your injury, seeking help from expert witnesses who can examine the evidence and provide valuable testimony in your case. Your attorney will also help you understand who to hold liable, helping you navigate the complex litigation process. To preserve your right to compensation, speak to your attorney as soon as possible following the accident.

Posted by highrank at 11:52 am

How Can I Prove an Injury Is from a Defective Product?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Injuries from defective products can be devastating. From vape pens to dangerous drugs and medical devices, you deserve compensation for the losses you suffered as a result of the product — and you can claim these damages through a product liability lawsuit.

Most defective product lawsuits rely on the concept of strict liability to establish a plaintiff’s right to damages. Whether your injury is the result of a manufacturing defect, a dangerous design, or a lack of adequate safety instructions, you will need to establish a series of elements to prove your claim.

Element #1: You Suffered Damages

First, you must establish that you suffered damages during the accident involving the defective product. California laws allow you to claim both economic and non-economic damages in product liability lawsuits, such as medical expenses and property damage.

You cannot claim compensation in this type of lawsuit if you did not suffer actual physical injuries or financial losses as a result of the defective product. If the product almost injured you, but did not actually cause an injury, you will not have grounds for a claim.

Element #2: The Product Was Defective

Next, you will need to prove that the product had a defect. The process of proving this element will depend on the type of defect involved in your claim.

  • Manufacturing defects: You may need to examine the product or bring it to an expert to search for issues.
  • Design defects: The design must be unreasonably dangerous from concept to production. For example, if you use a knife and suffer injuries when you drop it, this is not unreasonably dangerous because this is a reasonable risk. If you use a tea kettle with a design that leads to pressure build-up and explosion, you may have a claim on your hands.
  • Failure to warn: You will need to prove that the product’s dangerous qualities are not obvious to the average person, and the manufacturer failed to include adequate warnings to inform the consumer of the danger.

Your attorney will connect you with the resources necessary to identify the defect and validate your claim. For example, he or she may hire a manufacturing expert to analyze the product for damage.

Element #3: The Defect Caused Your Injuries

To successfully claim compensation, you must prove that the defect directly caused your injuries. You can prove this fact through a number of means, such as testimony from medical experts, your medical documentation, and witness statements.

Element #4: You Were Using the Product as Intended

Finally, you must prove that you were using the product as the manufacturer intended you to use it or could have reasonably expected its consumers to use it. For example, say you suffer electrocution injuries from a hair dryer. The court finds that you were using the device in a pool when the manufacturer clearly states that you should not use the product near water.

In this situation, you will likely not win your claim since you were not using the product as intended. However, if you were using the product in your bathroom away from water and suffered an electric shock, you may have a claim.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Defective Product Lawsuit?

While these elements may seem straightforward, investigating and proving a defective product lawsuit is difficult without an attorney on your side. When pursuing a product liability claim, you will likely need to face large corporate legal counsel equipped with resources you may not have access to.

When you hire a product liability attorney to represent your best interests, you will receive a number of benefits, including the following,

  • Your lawyer will have access to manufacturing experts, medical professionals, and other expert witnesses who can provide testimony in your claim.
  • You may not know the full value of your claim, and your attorney will have the ability to calculate an estimated settlement amount, so you do not accept insufficient offers.
  • Negotiating with the at-fault party can be difficult without the right experience, and your lawyer will have the skills necessary to advocate for your best interests.

Hiring a defective product lawyer is an important investment in your future recovery. If you have not done so already, contact your Bakersfield defective product attorney as soon as possible to begin investigating your claim

Posted by highrank at 6:22 pm

What Is an Implied Warranty?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

When purchasing products, many people are wary of warranties that could ultimately impact how long a product can receive repairs or even the timeframe we can return the product in. However, warranties can apply in many more situations than getting a costly appliance fixed. Some warranties apply to the quality of the product or the validity of making product liability claims.

Implied and Express Warranties

Many of us are familiar with written and spoken warranties, which include statements of what is and is not part of a warranty. When it comes to products, warranties serve as a guarantee that a product will meet stated quality and reliability standards – often with a money back statement applied. When a product does not meet the expectations of the warranty, a consumer can easily pick out the discrepancies and take the matter up with the manufacturer.

In contrast, an implied warranty does not involve any form of written or verbal agreement – the guarantee of proper operation is an implication. However, this does not make such warranties any less valid or enforceable. If you purchased a toaster that does not produce enough heat to operate as a toaster, then it would be a breach of the implied warranty of the product.

Consumers have several legally enforceable warranty rights that work on the concept of providing fair value for money spent. These warranties fall into two major categories.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

One of the types of implied warranties is that of merchantability – that the product will work if used for its intended purchase. If you purchase a product that does not work as it should for the intended purchase, like the toaster in our earlier example, you have a right to an exchange or refund. However, if the product doesn’t work because you are using it for an unintended purchase, the warranty of merchantability does not apply.

To be a merchantable item, a product must:

  • Conform to stands of trade as applies to the contract for sale
  • Be suitable for intended purposes, even if a consumer purchased it for another use
  • Be uniform involving quantity and quality
  • Packed and labeled appropriately
  • Meet specifications on package labels

The implied warranty of merchantability is also applicable to used items, given the condition of the product at the time of sale.

Some states allow merchants to mark items as “with all faults” or “sold as is” to avoid implied warranty, often under the argument that the consumer had the opportunity to observe the item before purchase. California is one of these states.

Implied Warranty of Fitness

While all products have an implied warranty of merchantability, others also have a warranty of fitness. Products with an implied warranty of fitness are not only suitable for the merchantable standards, but for an additional, specific purchase. Coming back to the toaster example, if you asked a salesperson for a toaster that could toast four slices of bread at once but it only has the capacity to handle two, then you could return the product for breaching the warranty of fitness.

In most cases, the warranty of fitness comes from a salesperson’s recommendation of an item for a specific purchase. These warranties can apply even if a product meets the standards of merchantability.

Implied warranties work to protect a customer’s rights to functional products that work as intended. They not only serve as grounds for returns and exchanges but can also help to support a product liability case. If you have suffered damages due to an improperly functioning product that violates the implied warranty of merchantability, then you may have grounds to seek compensation. Discussing your potential claim with a Bakersfield product liability attorney is the first step to understanding your warranty rights.

Posted by highrank at 6:50 pm

How Effective Are Disclaimers?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

When it comes to injuries and damages caused by products, it can be legally possible to pursue compensation through a product liability case. These claims allow for consumers to protect their rights to safety when using products. However, as a lawsuit can take up the time and money of a company and cast poorly on its reputation, many manufacturers hope to avoid such procedures altogether.

Product disclaimers are one such strategy to avoid fielding lawsuits and claims for damages from a company. And while a disclaimer may seem discouraging when you read it, the legal effectiveness of these written warnings isn’t as airtight as you may think.

Implied Product Warranties

All manufacturers must uphold two types of warranties that boil down to one conclusion: the manufactured product is safe enough for consumer use, so long as you follow the intended purchase. Even if you don’t see such a warranty written out when you purchase a product, the law implies this safety for all manufactured and sold products.

Because you have these warranty rights, a general written disclaimer has no legal standing. You as a consumer have had no opportunity to bargain or revoke your warranty rights, so a written general product disclaimer would be invalid. Your default warranty rights still hold, and you’d be able to file a product liability lawsuit if you suffered unfair injury during reasonable use of the product.

Reasonable Use and Assumption of Risk

One of the included provisions of implied product warranties that they are only valid so long as a consumer uses a product within the reasonable limitations. For example, if you followed all safety precautions when lighting fireworks and still sustained an injury due to a malfunctioning product, then you would have a chance to file product liability.

On the other hand, if you were handling fireworks in an unsafe manner, such as aiming them at other people or objects, then you would not be using the product in a reasonable way, thus revoking your right to potential compensation for your damages. This is because assumption of risk has come into play.

Assumption of risk is a common defense for manufacturers during product liability cases, where the company purports that the plaintiff was using the product in an unsafe manner and assumed the potential risks of that use. Ways to reinforce this claim involve a product including a specific disclaimer rather than a general one.

General disclaimers often try to claim that the manufacturer has no form of liability through use of its products, no matter the situation. Specific disclaimers focus on stating the company isn’t liable if the consumer misuses the product in any way. If a manufacturer had included such a specific disclaimer with its product, then a court is much more likely to uphold it in court, so long as there is proof of product misuse.

Are There Situations Where General Disclaimers Can Apply?

While a court is much more likely to dismiss general disclaimers, it’s still possible for them to be valid in court. One common scenario is that if a written and signed contract indicates that the consumer has waived his or her warranty rights after given the chance to negotiate. A typical consumer may not see contracts for most purchases, but they can come into play for handmade or customizable products.

Even though general disclaimers aren’t effective in most situations, they can prevent lawsuits by discouraging customers from pursuing legal action – and it can be hard for an average consumer to tell the difference between a legally valid and invalid disclaimer. Seeking the counsel of an experienced Bakersfield product liability lawyer can help you determine if a disclaimer is legally binding. If not, you’ll be able to work with a lawyer to determine if you have a product liability case and start the claims process.

Posted by highrank at 6:39 pm

Can You Sue a Restaurant for Food Poisoning?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Food poisoning is extremely uncomfortable for anyone who has experienced it. If you get food poisoning after going out to eat, you may determine that the restaurant was responsible for your illness. When this is the case, you may be wondering if it’s possible to sue the restaurant for food poisoning.

Is a Lawsuit Possible?

When injury and illness result from another party’s actions, California law allows for victims to pursue rightful compensation from those responsible for their suffering. This means that if the restaurant’s food truly was responsible for your illness, then you may have grounds to file a claim.

Potential claims for food poisoning can include:

  • Product liability. In product liability claims, the restaurant is responsible for providing you with a proper product, which would be food free of bacteria or other illness-causing viruses.
  • Personal injury. These cases work on a basis of negligence – the restaurant’s negligent actions, such as serving spoiled food or not preparing items correctly, led to your illness.

When these circumstances occur, you may be eligible for compensation. However, pursuing a lawsuit over food poisoning may not always be the most worthwhile move.

Chances of Success

Personal injury cases and similar lawsuits require that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was responsible for their injuries, and the same rules apply to cases of food poisoning. While it may be easy for you to think your meal at the restaurant may have led to your illness, proving this in a court of law can be difficult.

The most critical piece of evidence – your meal – may already be gone. Even if you have leftovers, proving that you didn’t tamper with the food after taking it home can also be difficult. A restaurant may claim that you did not properly refrigerate your leftovers, which then led to your illness. There is also the chance your illness arose due to other circumstances besides your meal.

Proving that your meal caused your food poisoning can involve testing samples of your food and stool for matching bacteria. It is also easier to prove that a food resulted in sickness if several people who ate it fell similarly ill, such as a class action lawsuit due to mass food contamination. If you can confirm these factors, you will have a chance of a successful lawsuit, but it is not always a guarantee.

The Value of a Food Poisoning Case

Even when you have solid proof that the restaurant’s food caused your illness, going to court may not be a worthwhile endeavor. Even though you have suffered through food poisoning, the lack of intense medical bills may not amount to much in terms of damages. The time and cost of court may not be worth the potential payout.

However, situations that have incurred massive damages can result in larger compensation. For example, if your illness caused you to miss work for an extended time resulting in lost wages, you may have a stronger case. Food poisoning that involves more deadly bacteria, such as E. coli or salmonella often requires hospitalization, which results in higher financial damages than cases where you simply needed to stay at home and rest to recover. Class action lawsuits that involve damages to many people also have a higher potential payout.

Determining the exact value of your food poisoning case can be tricky. If you are uncertain if your case is worthy of a claim, schedule a free consultation with an attorney in your area. An experienced Bakersfield personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have solid proof of liability and determine your potential compensation. If you wish to file a claim, you will need an attorney to represent you fully in court.

Posted by highrank at 6:31 pm

Auto Manufacturers With The Most Recalls

Friday, October 14, 2016

When you search for a new vehicle, you may look at safety ratings, consumer satisfaction reports, and the popularity of the car in the marketplace. You may not, however, search for the number of recalls a brand experiences. Today, some car brands seem to announce information for a new recall on a daily basis.

Whether they are cutting corners on the manufacturing floor or failing to vet all of the parts and designs they approve, automakers often take consumer lives into their hands. One of the most notorious recalls lately, the Takata airbag recall, continues to affect cars on the roadways today. The latest estimates suggest that 34 million vehicles are at risk in the United States alone.

AxleGeeks by Graphiq, a company that combines data and identifies trends in various sectors, recently compiled information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization identified the top 10 most recalled vehicle makes based on reports made since January 1, 2015. The most recalled automaker brands in business today may surprise you and include:

  1. Honda Motor Company. With the Honda and Acura brand, this automaker experienced 26 recalls affecting 13,577,460 vehicles.
  2. General Motors. The Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brand automaker experienced 52 recalls affecting 10,602,714 vehicles.
  3. Toyota Motor Company. With the Toyota and Scion brand under its banner, this automaker experienced 27 recalls affecting 8,420,039 vehicles.
  4. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Responsible for Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram brands, this automaker experienced 10 recalls affecting 6,867,022 vehicles.
  5. Ford Motor Company. The owner of Ford and Lincoln makes experienced 53 total recalls affecting 5,410,495 vehicles.
  6. Mitsubishi. With 10 recalls affecting 4,885,280 vehicles, this car brand saw a dramatic increase in recalls from 2014.
  7. Nissan Motor Company. This automaker of Nissan and Infiniti brands experienced 23 recalls affecting 3,992,606 vehicles.
  8. BMW. In 8th place, the BMW and Mini automaker had 19 recalls affecting 1,568,305 vehicles.
  9. Hyundai. This automaker experienced 15 recalls affecting 1,568,871 vehicles.
  10. Mercedes-Benz. This automaker responsible for the Mercedes-Benz and Smart car brands had 22 total recalls affecting 1,203,210 vehicles.

The sheer number of recalls that occurred during 2015 is astounding, and showcases the pervasiveness of recalls in the motor industry today. As you hunt for your new vehicle, consider the trustworthiness of the brands you choose. You may notice that certain brands do not appear as often in recall lists.

Questions to Ask About the Data

This is only one of the most recent lists of most recalled automakers/vehicle brands online today. As you search for information on recalls, safety, and more, consider the timeframe for data collection, the date of publication, and how the data scientists parsed the information. Compared to sales over the same period of time, these numbers may change. Identifying the true story within the data is much harder than looking at the brand name listed in the number one place.

As you explore the most recalled automakers, keep these questions in mind:

  • Are these automakers really more dangerous, or are they more attuned to the potential risks in their vehicles? Not all recalls occur because consumers suffer injuries. Some automakers recall vehicles if they happen to notice the possibility of a concern during testing and quality control studies.
  • Is a particular model responsible for the majority of recalls? Sometimes automakers release a dud, and the model goes away after a year or two. Consider the past frequency of recalls as well as data on a single model to make your purchasing decisions.
  • Are the recalls about dangerous parts and problems or minor inconveniences? When an airbag explodes or a braking system locks down, you could see your life flash before your eyes. However, when power windows stick, you may not experience much of a life-threatening risk. Consider the severity of the recalls as well as the numbers.

During a car search, we highly recommend that you explore the number of recalls on the vehicles you choose, but consider the context, too. If you do experience an injury as the result of a faulty vehicle part, discuss your ability to seek compensation with an experienced product liability attorney.

Posted by highrank at 9:05 pm