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shutterstock_1742482733-scaledCalifornia drunk and impaired driving accidents often result in serious and potentially fatal injuries. The trauma of these accidents ripple throughout the community and can have lifelong medical, psychological, and emotional consequences on everyone involved in the incident. Insurance payouts rarely meet the significant expenses that victims and loved ones face after a California accident. Victims must often pursue personal injury claims to ensure that they can appropriately address the extent of their losses.

Many drunk or impaired driving accidents result in both criminal charges and civil claims. However, California accident victims can pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver regardless of whether a criminal charge is underway. Plaintiffs may file a claim for damages when they suffer injuries because of a drunk or impaired driver. The victim must prove that the driver was negligent, and the plaintiff suffered injuries because of that negligence. Under the theory of negligence per se, the law presumes that the other party was negligent if they violated a law, statute, or ordinance designed to prevent the injury that occurred. However, the defendant can rebut the presumption by showing evidence that they did not violate the statute or the violation did not result in the plaintiff’s injury.

For example, recently, a national news report described a harrowing California impaired driving accident where six people suffered injuries, and three people died. According to reports, an impaired driver drove over a curb and onto a sidewalk slamming into the victims. Police arrested the 71-year-old motorist for vehicular manslaughter, driving while impaired, and causing great bodily injury while committing a felony. It is unclear if the impairment was related to alcohol or another substance; however, the case is still under investigation.

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California motor vehicle accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles are the most deadly type of motor vehicle collisions. The sheer magnitude and design of these vehicles make them more prone to causing wide-reaching destruction. After a California tractor-trailer accident injury, victims may suffer from long-term physical and psychological medical conditions. Insurance companies’ initial offers rarely cover the full extent of an accident victim’s losses and expenses, and a personal injury lawsuit is often the best way to recover damages.

Accident victims may recover damages from the negligent truck driver, their employer, or any other party responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. California plaintiffs may pursue damages for losses such as medical expenses related to the accident, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some rare cases, victims or their families may pursue punitive damages against the culpable party. Under California’s comparative fault framework, injury victims who bear some responsibility for their injuries may still be able to recover against the defendant.

Despite the state’s comparative negligence laws, tractor-trailer accident victims often face challenges determining fault after these accidents. Plaintiffs must establish negligence on the part of each potential defendant. For instance, in claims against a truck driver, plaintiffs may be able to prove negligence by establishing that the driver was distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or they were engaged in other unsafe behavior. In cases against the trucking company, the plaintiff may be able to point to negligence by showing that the tractor-trailer was over or improperly loaded, the vehicle was not maintained, or the employer engaged in negligent hiring or training. Moreover, plaintiffs may be able to file a claim against a truck’s manufacturer if the vehicle or any of its parts was defective. In each of these cases, the plaintiff must prove that the other party’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries.

imgonline-com-ua-twotoone-pBIySkCoGqFPV-300x151Two major recalls of tree trimming devices were issued by the United State Consumer Protection Commission (“USCPC”) on December 9, 2020, affecting over half-a-million devices sold by Fiskars Brands, Inc. and Black and Decker, Inc. under its Craftsman brand. Both products are designed to allow the user to trim tree branches otherwise inaccessible without a ladder or lift.

The first recall involves approximately 467,000 Fiskars 16 foot Extendable Pole Saw/Pruners. The device consists of a telescoping pole that can be adjusted between 7’ and 16’ and a head with a pruner and a hooked wood saw. The pole is improperly designed such that it can separate while the device is being used. The saw blade and pruners can then call down on the user, potentially causes serious injuries. As of the date of the notice, multiple consumers reported lacerations requiring stitches from the device’s failure.

Pruner-300x88Fiskar’s product was available for purchase between December 2016 and September 2020 for $100 (Model No. 9463) or $65 (Model Nos. 9440 and 9441). They devices were widely available at home improvement and hardware stores, as well as online direct from the seller at fiskars.com. Consumers are directed to stop using the product immediately and contact Fiskars Brands. The company will provide instructions on disposal of the defective device and provide a new one free of charge.

Pedestrian-228x300Car accidents can cause serious injuries, but when an automobile strikes a pedestrian, it is almost always catastrophic. Even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow rate of speed, it can cause life-altering injuries when it strikes a human being. The average midsized sedan weighs about 3,300 pounds, or a little over one-and-a-half tons (in case you’re wondering why trucks are categorized as “half-ton” or “one-ton” trucks when the average sedan weighs more than one-and-a-half tons, the truck category is referring to its payload capacity). A fundamental principle of physics is that the heavier an object is and the faster it is traveling, the more violent the impact will be when it collides with another object. This is why a pedestrian accidents are so devastating. Who pays for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering of the injured pedestrian?

The answer to this question requires first determining who was at fault for the accident. In legal terms, the pedestrian seeking compensation must establish the ‘liability’ of the driver. The question of liability is usually first evaluated by the law enforcement personnel responding to the accident—however, their conclusions are not final.

When a pedestrian is severely injured by an automobile, the local police department, sheriff’s department, or highway patrol will prepare an accident report. Someone from the responding agency will interview the parties involved, to the extent they are able to answer questions, as well as any witnesses. They will also retrieve any video footage of the accident, which is not uncommon, given the ubiquitous nature of close circuit security recordings. An experienced investigator will survey the area for any cameras that happen to capture the area where the accident happened, as well as the surrounding areas. Even if there is no footage of the vehicle striking the pedestrian, there may be video from a block or two away showing unsafe speeds or other erratic or dangerous behavior.

Soldier-200x300On July 28, 2020, a Florida federal court ruling breached the central defense against claims certain military earplugs were defective, damaging the ear and causing hearing loss. The lawsuits claim the earplugs were improperly designed, and did not completely block loud noises common to the military, such as gunfire and or the operation of heavy machinery or vehicles. Neumann Law Group has previously written about the earplug litigation, and you can read that article here.

The defendant, 3M, attempted to invoke the ‘government contractor defense,” a doctrine that would relieve it of any liability even if it were proven to have produced and sold a defective product to the military. The Supreme Court articulated the government contractor defense in Boyle v. United Technologies Corporation, 487 US 500 (1988), which involved a wrongful death complaint made against a company that produced military helicopters—the plaintiff alleged the escape system in the helicopter was poorly designed, causing the death of a pilot.

The jury in Boyle found that the manufacturer was in fact negligent when it designed the helicopter, but the Supreme Court would eventually uphold an appellate reversal of the verdict. It outlined the strong federal interest in military equipment and concluded those interests outweighed any state law claims, but only when the federal government gave reasonably precise specifications for the equipment, the equipment conformed to the specifications, and the supplier warned the federal government of the danger involved in using the equipment to the best of its knowledge.

lady-justice-statue-wallpapers-1024x768-1-300x225Neumann Law Group believes in justice, not only for our clients and the communities we serve, but for anyone, anywhere. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer while a crowd of bystanders begged him to stop. Three fellow officers stood by idly, while a frightened human being narrated his own death. When the video of Officer Derek Chauvin sadistically choking Mr. Floyd to death went viral, America stood witness to an act of depravity—an act so horrendous that even the willfully ignorant could no longer deny the reality of police brutality.
The gruesome scene must be viewed in context. It is easy to see Officer Chauvin as a barbarian, devoid of human compassion and fueled by hatred and racism. Except for those in the fringe holding extremist ideals, every American has denounced Mr. Floyd’s murder. But we cannot pat ourselves on the back for finding the racist and locking him up. We must act, as the videographer bravely did, or we’ll be no better than Chauvin’s fellow officers.
The nation’s problem is not Officer Derek Chauvin; racism runs far deeper than a few bad cops. While the American majority has accumulated wealth, luxury, and security over the centuries, the institutions and policies fostering that growth often did so at the expense of black Americans. Racism was once overt, as enshrined in our constitution. Then came the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments which were our first steps of absolution, beginning the process of ending our great evil of slavery. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 took aim at Jim Crow and segregation. However, neither of these steps eradicated hatred. Our sordid history of systemic racism stained the very fabric of our nation. A stubborn, pernicious, and deadly illness.

Employees-300x200A few weeks ago, the global economy rolled forward under its own immense inertia. While concerns of an economic downturn were growing, few suspected the preceding years of expansion would end overnight . . . yet here we are. It wasn’t the business cycle; it wasn’t an overheated housing market; it wasn’t irresponsible financial products. The behemoth was struck down where it stood because workers stopped working. Over the last five weeks, over 26 million people in the United States filed for unemployment assistance. In addition to those who lost their jobs, many employees were sent home to work or are temporarily laid off. What sort of protection do these employees have when restrictions are lifted and companies call them back to the workplace?

Lawmakers are debating when and how to reopen the larger economy—some arguing for a rapid reopening designed to minimize the length of time commerce remains stagnant, while others plea for a cautious reopening focused on minimizing infection rates. Although much depends on the way government loosens the current restrictions, tension between employee safety and the desire to resume normal operations is certain to grow.

Employees may feel powerless when their employers ask them to return to work. Can an employer fire employees who are reluctant to perform certain tasks? Should an employee that suffers from a medical condition that increases the danger of the virus be forced to return upon the employer’s demand? What if a worker has been exposed to the virus during the shutdown? Can employees be required to test in order to return to work?

AndersonNeumann Law Group is accepting new clients who were sexually assaulted by Dr. Robert E. Anderson, university physician at the University of Michigan. Our firm successfully sued Michigan State University on behalf of survivors of the shockingly similar predator, Dr. Larry Nassar. Our firm is committed to advancing the rights of individuals who suffered because the two of the most vaunted educational institutions in America failed to protect the students charged to their care.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson (deceased, 2008), who worked as a physician for the University of Michigan from 1968 through 2003, is at the center of numerous allegations of sexual assault. The university is now the subject of a federal lawsuit, brought by a survivor of his abuse, alleging the school had knowledge of the doctor’s predilections, and rather than protecting the vulnerable students, U-M protected him. The university allowed him to continue his pattern of assaults for several decades.

Survivors describe Anderson’s behavior began during the draft era of the Vietnam War. The first step in being drafted was receiving a physical. Anderson offered to write students a letter stating that the potential draftee was homosexual, a declaration that at the time disqualified an otherwise suitable candidate for compelled military service. However, he demanded sexual favors in return—something that was well known in the Ann Arbor gay community at the time.

Dark-Hospital-300x191In the 1990s, the use of a neurovascular stent for a procedure call “stent-assisted coiling” was considered a breakthrough treatment for treating brain aneurysms. The medical device offered a non-surgical method to address weak spots in blood vessels in the brain. An aneurysm occurs when a weak point in a vessel allows blood to bulge out the vessel wall. If the aneurysm bursts, it can cause traumatic consequences, particularly when the aneurysm is located in the brain.

A non-stent assisted coiling treatment for an aneurysm involved running a stint from a patient’s leg up into the location of the aneurysm in the brain. The catheter would then inject a string of soft platinum into the aneurysm, which coils upon itself within the “bubble” of the aneurysm. After the platinum was fully deployed, the blood in the aneurysm clots along the coil and eventually fills the either aneurysm, such that is no longer poses the threat of rupture.

The procedure described above worked well, unless the aneurism had a “wide neck.” Where a normal aneurysm looks like a bubble stuck on the side of the vessel, a wide neck aneurysm looks more like a semi-circle. Instead of having a small weak spot in the vessel bulge out into a bubble, the wide neck variety involves a larger weak spot that expands the vessel in a distorted manner. Introducing the platinum coil into the aneurysm is not feasible, as the coil is too exposed to the blood flow and will not remain in place.

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