What Can I Do if Someone Crashes a Drone into My House Or into Me?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Technology and law have always made a strange pair. This is certainly true for unmanned drones, which have legislators and lawyers perplexed about everything from insurance claims to personal injury disputes. These devices are incredibly innovative and valuable, poised to improve disaster response, construction, real estate, and dozens of other industries. Regulations are slowly catching up, but the technology is not slowing down; the market for unmanned aircraft is expected to explode over the next decade.

Current Laws Governing Drone Use

Drones have sparked plenty of debate about personal injury law, property damage, privacy concerns, and many other legal areas. In fact, these gadgets have been a major concern for the FAA since their inception. The organization is predicting over 30,000 of these devices will be in use within five years, and specialists are setting aside billions of dollars to ensure their safe operation in tightly regulated commercial air space. Pending laws will govern:

  • Increased drone use
  • National and global operations
  • Airspace control
  • Safety and environmental concerns

The FAA and federal government must also take steps to regulate:

  • How individuals can protect their land from drones
  • Stalking and harassment issues
  • Piracy infringements

These problems may seem straightforward, but putting laws into place on this scale requires extensive state, federal (including multiple departments), and international cooperation. Some laws have already been drafted, including the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act. This bill set up restrictions on private drone use, specifically outlining privacy standards and data collection regulations, how individuals can protect their rights, and the actions law enforcers can take to control drones.

Personal Injury and Property Damage Caused by Drones

Personal injury and property damage are two of the most pressing concerns lawmakers currently face. Insurers and legislators must consider where these aircraft operate (such as whether or not they fly over populated areas), their altitude, and their purpose. If a drone crashes into an individual, it would be covered under liability insurance, which also addresses privacy issues and property damage. Again, coverage varies based on several factors. For those working with or around drones, for example, workers’ compensation will need to be extended to cover drones’ use.

Pursing compensation would thus be similar to other liability claims; the company’s insurance would contact a plaintiff with a settlement price (if any). An individual can choose to accept that amount, which may cover the extent of his or her damages. If this is suitable, the matter can be settled out of court. However, for issues involving extensive damage, ongoing medical bills, or matters like wrongful death, working with an attorney may be the only way to receive the full amount a person is owed following damage caused by a wayward drone.

These laws will continue to evolve and so will the insurance policies written for drones. For example, if wrongful death claims increase as the industry grows, insurers will have to change the rates they charge for liability and other coverage options.

Reach Out to an Experienced Texas Attorney for More Information

The only way to protect your rights in such a dynamic time is to contact an attorney who has followed these laws and will continue to do so as they develop. Though this is a new area, many of the requirements for personal injury suits and property damage settlements are familiar to experienced legal teams.

The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. has extensive experience recovering the damages our clients are owed following a personal injury. We stay up-to-date on all relevant laws to safeguard their best interests; this includes personal injury and property damage caused by a crashing drone. Reach out for more information about these developing regulations, and schedule a consultation if your privacy or property has been threatened by one of these devices.

Posted by admin at 10:57 pm

I Was Injured by an Exploding e-Cigarette, What Do I Do Now?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When a product or service is used as advertised, the last thing a person expects is a devastating injury. Unfortunately, this does happen, and it’s why product liability laws exist. Product and parts manufacturers and the people who sell a good or service must meet high standards, keeping them accountable to suitably warn customers of potential dangers, advise them on how to safely use a product, and provide the safest services possible. When these standards are breached, any of these parties may be sued through a personal injury claim.

Three e-Cigarettes Explode in California

In California, three recent e-cigarette explosions severely injured vapers. One of the more recent cases, affecting plaintiff Vincente Garza, caused extensive bodily damage, including significant burns. Surgeons amputated Garza’s left index finger and performed multiple surgeries. Another victim, Daniel Califf, had a hole blown through his cheek while using an electronic cigarette. His room also caught fire when the device exploded.

Following these events, personal injury suits were filed against the e-cigarette designer and the product manufacturer. The stores where Garza bought the battery, device, and charger are also being prosecuted. There is plenty of precedence regarding lawsuits like these. For example, in September of 2015, a jury awarded $1.9 million for damages when an e-cigarette exploded in a woman’s car. Incidents like these have necessitated skin grafts, extensive property damage, and other life-long consequences.

Failing to Create a Safe Product and Warn of Defects

Consumers expect devices to work properly, and they must be adequately manufactured, designed, and tested. The industry is closely regulated to ensure a product is safe before it enters the marketplace. In the case of exploding e-cigarettes, plaintiffs are claiming that the electronic devices and their components (including batteries and chargers) are unsafe. These products also purportedly lack an inadequate warning explaining the dangers of lithium batteries and the importance of proper voltage when charging.

Lithium batteries use flammable liquid electrolytes, which can explode if overheated. This particular product liability largely hinges on the absence of a warning explaining the issue. Furthermore, retailers are responsible for recommending and selling chargers designed for the product a customer uses.

Pursuing a Product Liability Lawsuit in Texas

There are clear problems with safety regulations in this budding industry. There are fewer safeguards to protect consumers, and as this technology develops, its dangers must be continually investigated. As claims are filed against negligent parties, manufacturers must diligently work to provide the safest products possible.

Though e-cigs are a newer innovation, there are hundreds of laws in place to protect consumers from these types of accidents. When products like these cause unpredicted damage, you may pursue a claim to cover costs associated with property damage, medical bills, or a wrongful death. Like any customers, vapers are responsible for using their devices safely. There are, however, some serious risks related to these products and their batteries and chargers. When these items don’t perform as advised, anyone along the production line, as well as the retailers selling them, may be held liable.

If you have been injured by an electronic cigarette, seek medical help as soon as possible. You will need to carefully document the incident, including how you used the product when it malfunctioned, the extent of damage caused, and the medical treatment you will need to fully recover. Obviously, this a lot to account for, which is why working with an experienced personal injury attorney is so important.

Contact

Product liability cases are complex, as there are potentially dozens of parties to investigate, but that’s no reason to suffer without due compensation. Reach out to the legal team at the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for more information. We will explore every possible avenue for compensation and hold all parties who may have contributed to the accident accountable.

Posted by admin at 10:40 pm

What Happens if I am Injured While Getting a Tattoo?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Needle use may seem like an old problem, or one that could be considered an issue that we have effectively controlled and know how to avoid. In reality, it’s still a major problem, and it’s just one of the many complications a person can run into at a tattoo parlor. In fact, dozens of legal issues and negligence claims may be raised against these businesses, ranging from style and design mistakes to infections and diseases.

Tattoo Parlor Responsibilities and Legal Options

Negligence is one of the main legal issues tattoo parlors and artists face. This is an area of civil law that is commonly used to determine who is responsible in personal injury claims. To avoid committing a negligent act, individuals and businesses must provide a reasonable standard of care, ensuring they don’t cause intentional or unintentional harm. To determine negligence in court, a plaintiff must demonstrate:

  • A breach of duty. In this case, the business must have failed to provide a minimum standard of care.
  • There was an injury. The problem must be carefully documented, including side effects, medical treatments, and related expenses.
  • The breach of duty directly caused the injury. The tattoo parlor’s negligence must have clearly damaged the victim.

Understanding Standards of Care

Standards of care keep businesses safe and accountable, and tattoo parlors and artists must meet these principles at all times to avoid negligence. Common standards of care include:

  • Understanding a client’s medical history and any complications that may result. For example, a person’s allergies must be considered before starting a tattoo.
  • Only serving individuals over 18 years old.
  • Meeting all state and federal mandated health and safety standards.
  • Following hygiene criteria, such as washing one’s hands and using sterile gloves.
  • Providing accurate, complete advice for treating the tattooed area.

A business that fails to meet these standards can (and should) be held liable. Negligence may lead to infections and serious diseases, which can affect a person’s quality of life.

Liability and Health Consequences

Infections, rashes, and other injuries are common damages a person may experience following a tattoo. However, though negligence in this case mostly concerns whether or not the business maintained a safe and sterile environment, simply getting an infection may not be enough for a personal injury claim; customers must assume a few known risks when getting a tattoo.

Though clients do sign consent forms acknowledging these dangers, a parlor could still be found responsible. The outcome of these cases largely hinges on proving negligence and whether or not the damage caused extended beyond the assumed risk of getting a tattoo. For instance, a rash resulting from an unknown reaction to ink is an assumed risk. A rash caused by a dirty needle, however, is not a risk someone knowingly assumed. Indeed, proving the degree of a professional’s negligence against the level of assumed risk will affect the outcome of your case.

Proving Negligence Alongside a Texas Personal Injury Attorney

Demonstrating negligence in these cases can be difficult. Tattoo parlors will likely claim you assumed the risk associated with getting a tattoo. That’s why a successful claim hinges so much on demonstrating that the artists’ actions led to an injury that would not have occurred in normal circumstances. Evidence, such as proper health and safety documentation, will be pivotal to your case, as will working with the right attorney.

There are a range of defenses a business can try to claim, from calling your conduct into question during the appointment to pointing out that any waivers you signed protect the artist or business from any litigation. If you are suffering from an injury and run into these excuses, you may be faced with extensive medical bills on top of your pain and suffering. Reach out to the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., for a devoted look at your case.

Posted by admin at 11:57 pm

Can a Consumer Always Sue When a Defective Product Causes Injury?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Product designers, manufacturers, and sellers are responsible for providing consumers with safe and properly marketed products. One of these parties may be liable for an injury if there is a hazardous flaw in the design or manufacturing of the item or if the risks or hazards associated with the product have not been properly labeled.

You can attempt to sue a manufacturer or seller for a defective product related injury, but that does not always mean the lawsuit will lead to design/manufacturing changes or adequate financial compensation. An attorney may not recommend pursuing a product liability action if the injury was too minor to justify legal action, if the client was using a product for purposes other than intended, or if the client was acting carelessly.

Disclaimers: The Possible Exception to Product Liability Lawsuits

Many product manufacturers use warning labels and disclaimers to prevent individuals from filing product liability lawsuits. Much like a liability waiver, a disclaimer can protect a company from certain foreseeable risks associated with a product. For instance, a hair straightener may come with a disclaimer that the product reaches high temperatures and may cause burns or electrocution if dropped in water. However, it may not protect the company from a hair straightener that sparks, overheats, or explodes.

While disclaimers can minimize the liability associated with a product claim, consumers should always seek legal advice before writing off a potential claim. Disclaimers, limited warranties, and warning labels are often not enough to protect a company from dangerous defects.

Understanding Product Liability in Texas

Texas operates under a strict liability rule. Strict liability allows injured individuals to hold a defendant without using the traditional standard of negligence. A plaintiff must only prove the product was sold in a hazardous condition, the seller or manufacturer knew the product would reach the consumer in that state, and the product caused the injury or harm. Proving a breach of warranty in addition to liability may strengthen a plaintiff’s case.

Breach of Warranty Cases

In addition to suing a manufacturer for a defective product, a consumer may also hold a company liable for breaching an implied or express warranty. Express warranties are written or stated protections that come with several types of products, and many provide for standard replacement or repair services for a period of time.

Implied warranties apply to every product and require goods to pass certain criteria as sellable. In Texas, a product must pass a test of merchantability. If a product is not of reasonable quality, fit for use, or appropriately packaged, the seller may be liable for any resulting defects, product problems, or injuries.

Breach of warranty cases may not require any physical injury, but can strengthen defective product cases. All a plaintiff needs to prove is that the seller did not meet the expectations set forth in an implied and/or expressed warranty. For instance, if you purchase a smartphone to help you with your business, but the seller sold you a product that only handles calls and texts, you may hold him or her liable for failing to sell a merchantable “smartphone.” To successfully win the lawsuit, you will need to prove the breach of warranty caused you serious harm (e.g. prevented you from conducting business).

Finding a Product Liability Attorney

Some injured individuals may not know if they have a legitimate personal injury claim until they speak to an attorney who specializes in defective products. Keep all your warranty and packaging material, and try to preserve as much of the product as possible. All of these items may help your attorney determine if pursuing a defective product/breach of warranty claim makes sense. For a free case evaluation, reach out to the Law Offices of Aaron A. Herbert PC.

Posted by admin at 11:47 pm