In the criminal court system, we prosecute only those responsible in some capacity for the alleged crime. In the civil justice system, where the goal is not to penalize but rather to restore, we do allow third parties to be held liable for the criminal actions of others when there is evidence those third parties failed in their duty to protect the victim or warn of danger. guncloseup

Still, our courts can struggle with this concept – when such a duty exists, the extent of it and whether victim was deserving of protection.

The recent Oregon Supreme Court case of Piazza v. Kellim, a Peruvian foreign exchange student living in Portland was brutally gunned down in a 2009 mass shooting at a teen nightclub. She was just 17, and she died from her wounds. The gunman, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, shot several students, killing two, before turning the gun on himself. The representative of one of the exchange student’s estate later sued the now-defunct club and other businesses, as well as the organizer of the student exchange program, were negligent. Continue reading

Sixteen people were killed in a recent central Texas hot air balloon crash in which the balloon reportedly caught fire in the air and crashed. Local authorities say there were no survivors in the incident, which is believed to have occurred as a result of the balloon striking power lines around 7:30 a.m. around 30 miles south of Austin.hotairballoon4

The area is reportedly frequently used for hot air balloon landings, though the activity itself remains relatively rare. A witness who lives near the site described seeing a “big ball of fire.”

If all 16 deaths are affirmed by officials, it will be the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history. Previously, the highest single number of people killed in a hot air balloon accident was six in 1993. Officers found the balloon basket on fire on the ground. A maximum of 16 passengers were allowed on this particular type of balloon.  Continue reading

Poor health outcomes alone are not grounds for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. Plaintiffs have to show that the doctor or other health care professional failed to follow the applicable standard of health care for their specific industry and region. heartdoctor

In order to establish this, plaintiffs need to present expert witness testimony from someone who is similarly educated and employed. There has to be some showing that the doctor or health care professional owed a certain duty of care and breached that duty by failing to provide adequate medical attention.

In the case of Morrison v. St. Luke’s RMC, a widow accused an emergency room doctor of breaching his duty of care in failing to make sure her husband received an expedient appointment with a cardiologist after he was released from the hospital emergency room. Continue reading

In any North Carolina slip-and-fall lawsuit, it is essential that the person injured prove the property owner/ manager had either actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard. That means either the owner knew about it because the owner created it or someone informed the owner about it or the owner should have known because it had existed for such a length of time that it should have been discovered in the course of exercising due care. watermelon

If this element is not satisfied, the slip-and-fall lawsuit will not succeed.

This was the case in Edwards v. Hy-Vee, Inc., recently before the Nebraska Supreme Court. This was a situation in which a woman slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon, suffering injuries as a result.  Continue reading

More than 50 former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestlers have filed a class action personal injury lawsuit against the agency, alleging acute and long-term damage to their brains. The organization is accused of failing in its duty to protect former wrestlers from the ill effects of repeated blows to the head during performances, according to CNNbrainscan

Among the ailments from which the former wrestlers claim to suffer:

  • Concussion;
  • Traumatic brain injury;
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) (an Alzheimer’s like disease).

Continue reading

Electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping – all are terms for a nicotine delivery device that contains no tobacco smoke. It’s hailed as a safer alternative to cigarettes and other tobacco products that burn plant matter. But an increasing number of personal injury reports are calling that safety claim into question. smokeswirls

Some have suffered burns. Some have lost teeth. Some have suffered facial fractures. Still others have been victims of severe internal injuries. Some of these cases stem from the fact that the chemicals inside these devices are largely unknown and unregulated. The devices have also been known to occasionally blow up.

Although statistics outlining the danger are scant, we do know the Federal Emergency Management Agency has tallied at least 25 instances of e-cigarettes exploding in the U.S. between 2009 and 2014 . However, that data is based on which cases the media reported.  Continue reading

Authorities are investigating a fall down an elevator shaft at a Pennsylvania correctional facility that proved fatal for both a correctional officer and an inmate.

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According to The New York Times, the pair were engaged in a scuffle following a verbal argument over the fact the inmate was being made to take the stairs, rather than the elevator, after playing basketball. They crashed through an elevator door and fell some five stories down the elevator shaft. Another corrections officer who was assisting the first just narrowly avoided plunging 70 feet down the shaft as well.

The elevator was reportedly on its way up from the first floor at the time of the accident. The 27-year-old inmate’s death was ruled accidental, but the 25-year-old guard’s death was ruled a homicide.  Continue reading

It’s a safe bet to say your grandmother probably isn’t on Snapchat. That’s especially true if she’s living in a nursing home. Meanwhile, the app is extremely popular among the younger cohort. It has also fast become known to those who advocate for protecting the elderly from nursing home abuse and exploitation. iphone6

Why? Because an increasing number of nursing home staffers have been caught taking photographs of elderly residents in demeaning or humiliating circumstances and then posting those images on the social media platform.

One case reported out of Wisconsin just recently involved an 87-year-old man suffering dementia who had just lost his wife of many years and his leg. His son placed him in a nursing home down the street, WGNTV reported, and he would wander the halls calling out for his wife. One day, he was particular agitated. A nurse aide, apparently frustrated, snapped a photo of him and shared it with her friends, captioning the image, “JERK!” His son later said an employee was kicking his father’s wheelchair and the Snapchat image showed him kicking back as other staffers laughed in the background.  Continue reading

Stairways are one of the most dangerous features of any property. That’s why they must be constructed according to very specific industry standards, depending on the type of structure and their purpose.stairs9

Building codes dictate things like riser height, railing material, tread depth and head room. But of course, building codes can change over time, and certain stairways that aren’t necessarily safe could be grandfathered in. On top of that, many property owners fail to maintain stairways. Stairs that fall into disrepair can be very dangerous as well.

In the recent case of Estate of Smith v. Salvesen, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a widower whose wife died after apparently falling down a flight of stairs in a guest room where they were staying.  Continue reading

In North Carolina, cities enjoy a general authority and control over all public streets, alleys, bridges and sidewalks within those corporate limits. However, those cities, by statute (NCGS 160A-296(a)(1)), must also maintain those sidewalks in proper repair. Cities are also responsible to conduct reasonable inspections from time-to-time to check for any possible defects. sidewalkcrack

In order to be found liable for a personal injury caused by a defective sidewalk, an individual has to prove that the city had actual or constructive notice of the defect. That means one needs to show someone actually told the city about that particular defect before – and the city did nothing to fix it or warn people about it – or the condition existed for such a length of time that had the city been using reasonable care, it would have discovered it.

In most cases, we’re going to be talking about constructive notice. That means plaintiffs have to gather lots of information to lay the foundation for the case. They may even need expert witness testimony to discuss how and when the defect formed.  Continue reading

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