Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

February 2012 Archives

What You Should (and Shouldn't) Do After an Injury

Do you know what you need to do if you've been injured in an accident? If you decide to file an accident injury claim or lawsuit, there's something you should be aware of.

You need to reduce your losses. This means you need to take appropriate action to make sure your losses are minimized -- not maximized.

If you don't, the defendant can try to reduce your damages award. So what should you try to do after an accident?

An intentionally disabled safety device likely led to a woman's gruesome death in a New York City elevator shaft, investigators say. The finding will affect lawsuits seeking damages from the incident.

Crews from Transel Elevator Inc. were repairing the elevator in a Midtown Manhattan office tower Dec. 14, and purposely overrode the safety system to gain access to the elevator car, The New York Times reports. The override allowed the elevator to move with its doors open.

Repair crews completed their work and left the building at 9:55 a.m., a city investigation found, according to The Times. One minute later, Suzanne Hart stepped into the elevator that lurched up with its doors open and crushed her between floors.

Can Ryan Seacrest Sue Sacha Baron Cohen?

How many of you wish that you, too, could throw the fake ashes of Kim Jung-Il in Ryan Seacrest's face?

Sacha Baron Cohen's red carpet stunt was perhaps the unofficial highlight of last night's Academy Awards. Dressed as a generic dictator, the comedian approached Seacrest with an urn containing the North Korean leader's fake ashes. He then purposely spilled them all over the E! host.

People now want to know if Ryan Seacrest can sue Sacha Baron Cohen for the prank.

One teenage student was killed, and four others hurt, in a shooting at Chardon High School in Ohio this morning. As with other school shootings, civil lawsuits are likely to follow.

A juvenile alleged gunman is in custody in connection with the Chardon High School shooting, but police have not identified the boy, ABC News reports.

The shooting happened about 7:30 a.m., when students were eating breakfast in the cafeteria, The Plain Dealer reports. The gunman walked in and opened fire without warning, students said.

IL Dog Owners Sue Pet Store Over Puppy Mills

A group of dog owners have filed a puppy mill lawsuit against Chicago-area pet store chain Happiness is Pets. The group accuses the store of falsely claiming the animals were healthy and came from reputable small-scale breeders.

Instead, they say the disease-prone puppies were purchased from overcrowded puppy mills and arrived at the stores visibly sick and covered in feces and urine. Employees were allegedly instructed to hide the poor conditions with grooming and by administering antibiotics.

Icy sidewalks can be wintry hazards this time of year. They can also trip you up in court, if you’re named in a slip and fall lawsuit.

States and local jurisdictions handle icy sidewalk accidents differently, but some general legal principles apply. Here are four legal questions that could affect the outcome of icy sidewalk slip-fall suits.

Who owns the sidewalk?

Slip-fall liability can vary for different types of property owners and occupants.

Sugarland Blames Fans for IN Stage Collapse

The fans, not Sugarland, are to blame for the injuries they sustained during last summer's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair.

This assertion appears in court documents filed in response to a lawsuit accusing the band of negligence. Victims of the Sugarland stage collapse claim the band acted negligently when it failed to stop the concert despite 70 mph winds and a severe weather warning.

But the band's attorneys believe that it was the fans who acted negligently when they "failed to exercise due care for their own safety."

A former Playboy Playmate has won $1.2 million in a lawsuit that claimed New York City police used excessive force when responding to a false 911 call.

A jury found that police roughed up Stephanie Adams, now 41, when they responded to a cab driver's bizarre 911 call in 2006, the New York Daily News reports. The cabbie falsely told police that Adams "flashed vampire teeth" at him, and threatened to shoot him.

At trial, a New York City police officer admitted he threw Adams to the ground to subdue her, because "we didn't know if she had a firearm." But a jury sided with the ex-Playmate -- largely because of what she was wearing that day.

Amanda Knox Appeals Slander Ruling in Italy

Amanda Knox will appeal her slander conviction in Italy. Knox's attorney has filed the appropriate documents abroad. What many may not realize is that slander in Italy is often prosecuted as a crime.

Knox currently resides in Seattle. She spent several years abroad -- and in an Italian jail cell -- accused of killing her roommate Meredith Kercher while studying in Perugia, Italy.

The avalanche deaths of three expert skiers highlight the risks of “sidecountry skiing,” an increasingly popular trend, experts say.

The skiers — Jim Jack, Chris Rudolph, and Johnny Brenan — were part of a group that purposely strayed outside the boundaries of the Stevens Pass Ski resort in Washington state, The Seattle Times reports. An avalanche swept down the steep slope on Sunday, and the three skiers were killed.

But because the skiers knew the risks involved with skiing out-of-bounds, their relatives probably won’t be able to sue the resort for the avalanche deaths.

Denver TV news anchor Kyle Dyer received a skin graft and 70 stitches after a dog bit her face during a live newscast. As she recovers, she may be considering a dog-bite lawsuit for personal-injury damages.

The dog bite happened Feb. 8, when an 85-pound Argentine mastiff named Max and its owner were guests on KUSA-TV's 9News, the Associated Press reports. Anchor Kyle Dyer knelt down to caress the dog, which lunged and bit her in the face.

The dog was quarantined and later released, and will not face further consequences, an animal-control agent told the AP. But the same can't be said for Max's owner, who faces misdemeanor charges -- and possibly a civil lawsuit, which Colorado law explicitly allows.

Ban Texting, Facebook, In-Car Dialing, Feds Say

Guess what has caught the eye of the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT)? Distracted driving. The agency is calling for automakers to step up and restrict or ban texting, Facebook, Internet browsing, and other electronics in cars.

This comes as many new vehicles come with a variety of electronic options installed in their dashboard. These hands-free devices are often popular additions to vehicles. They are attractive options for car-buyers.

But these options can become fatal.

An electronic cigarette exploded in a Florida man's mouth, causing disfiguring injuries and burns, firefighters say. A defective product lawsuit is likely.

Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, Fla., lost some front teeth and part of his tongue in the e-cigarette explosion, the Associated Press reports. He also suffered burns to his face.

The blast can be blamed on the e-cigarette's battery, firefighters said. "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," one firefighter told the AP.

A charter bus driver stood guard and even facilitated a FAMU band member's hazing-related beating death, a lawsuit claims.

Robert Champion, 26, of Atlanta, a drum major with Florida A&M University's famous "Marching 100," died after brutal beatings linked to hazing rituals on a charter bus in November, the Orlando Sentinel reports. No one has been criminally charged.

But it wasn't just other FAMU band members who had hands in Champion's death, the lawsuit by his parents claims. The charter bus driver -- who considered herself part of the bus' "posse" -- is also responsible, the suit asserts.

Man Who Shot Off-Duty Cop Must Pay $5.9M

Crime doesn't pay. In fact, it can be very expensive.

Billy Heisler learned this lesson last week when a New Jersey judge ordered him to pay Joshua Hahn $5.9 million. Heisler shot Hahn, a Mercer County sheriff's officer, during an off-duty altercation in 2007.

Hahn had intervened in a domestic dispute between Heisler and his sister outside a local pizzeria.

FL Woman Accidentally Shot in Head at Church

A Florida pastor's daughter was shot in the head after a gun accidentally went off at church. Twenty-year-old Hannah Kelley was taken to a local hospital in critical condition after the incident.

The gun belonged to a church member named Moises Zambrana. Zambrana brought the weapon to church to show Dustin Bueller. Bueller, 20, had wanted to purchase a gun when he turned 21.

The men were in a closet handling the weapon. Zambrana had taken out the clip. But there was one bullet in the chamber. The gun accidentally fired, going through the closet wall. It struck Kelley in the head, reports the New York Daily News.

A fight between golfers ended when a man was allegedly stabbed with a broken golf club and nearly bled to death on the green. Victim Clay Carpenter, 48, is now likely teeing up for a lawsuit.

The fight broke out about 3:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at a golf club in Tarrant County, Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Carpenter and two friends wanted to play through a group of slower golfers ahead of them.

A course marshal allowed it, Carpenter told the Star-Telegram, but the allegedly slower golfers -- four of them -- refused to give up their turf. A brawl ensued, and a 911 call reveals how it ended:

Indiana State Fair, Union Fined for Stage Collapse

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has completed its investigation into the stage collapse at the August Indiana State Fair. Fines were levied against three organizations, including the company responsible for building the stage.

The tragic event occurred during a Sugarland performance, and left 58 injured and 7 dead. A number of lawsuits have since been filed, many of which will be bolstered by the agency's report.

Beer Pong Lawsuit Tossed Out by NY Judge

A New Jersey man's beer pong lawsuit was tossed out by a New York judge. Alan Berger was 22 when he went to Wicked Willy's. At that bar, he played lots of beer pong.

Beer pong is a drinking game. The goal is to bounce ping pong balls into cups containing beer. If the ball lands in a cup, your opponent must drink the cup's contents.

Berger ended up quite inebriated. He took a bus home, but was subsequently hit by a car when he tried to cross a highway.

Staying seated on long plane flights may be hazardous to your health, according to a new study that seems to debunk some claims in so-called "economy class syndrome" lawsuits.

The study and the lawsuits involve deep vein thrombosis, or DVT -- when a blood clot forms in a vein, usually in the legs, and causes painful swelling. The clot can dislodge, block blood flow to vital organs, and can even lead to death, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Passengers who develop DVT on plane flights have sued airlines for negligence, as ABC News has reported. But the DVT study partly debunks some key arguments for "economy class syndrome," and lawyers and passengers may want to take note.

Denver Suncor Employees Could Sue Over Benzene

Denver-area refinery Suncor's benzene problems have some employees worried. The Suncor refinery's water may have been contaminated with a potentially carcinogenic substance.

Small amounts of benzene were detected in two faucets in the facility. The other faucets were determined to be clean.

The problem may have spread to areas even outside the refinery. The contaminants may have seeped underground. Tests indicated high benzene levels of 48 times the limit some nearby waterways.

FL Man Adopts Adult Girlfriend, 42, to Shield Assets?

Adopting an adult is something individuals do out of maternal or paternal love. But the Florida man who adopted his girlfriend probably did so for financial reasons.

Goodman, 48, adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend Heather Laruso Hutchins.

Plaintiff's attorneys say that Goodman made the unprecedented move in order to shield his assets from potential liability.

Southwest Plane Hits Light Pole in Denver

A Southwest plane hit a light pole at Denver International Airport earlier this week. The minor Southwest accident did not result in any injuries. But it did lead many to wonder how it happened.

The plane was taxiing to its intended gate when it hit the errant light pole. The wing was damaged, and the pole itself collapsed. There were 89 passengers and 5 crew members on board at the time.

A nationwide Pfizer birth-control recall, announced Feb. 1, could lead to lawsuits for unwanted pregnancies, legal experts say. Payouts could be huge.

Pfizer recalled about 1 million packets of birth-control pills because of a mix-up that could lead to unwanted pregnancies. The recalled products -- Lo/Ovral-28 and generic Norgestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol -- may not contain enough contraceptive to be effective, the Associated Press reports.

There are no health risks linked to the mix-up, Pfizer says. But some litigation attorneys foresee lawsuits linked to unexpected pregnancies that could net millions of dollars in damages.

Investigators recovered the body of an 11th victim from the wreckage of a massive chain-reaction Florida highway crash. Lawsuits are likely to follow.

The body of the victim, who was not identified, was pulled Tuesday from a truck that got caught in a series of crashes on Interstate 75, CNN reports. Thick smoke from a brush fire blew across I-75 near Gainesville early Sunday, and drivers were blinded.

At least 12 cars, six tractor-trailers, and a motor home were involved in the crashes, Fox News reports. Some survivors and victims' relatives are blaming state troopers for the accidents, and perhaps even a possible arsonist.

Brazilian Blowout Label Must Warn of Formaldehyde

Is there formaldehyde in your Brazilian Blowout? Apparently there is -- which may come as a surprise to some consumers. The product has been marketed as "formaldehyde free" in the past.

Those days are no longer. GIB, the company that makes the popular Brazilian Blowout products has agreed to label their products as potentially carcinogenic. They have also agreed to pay $600,000 in fines. The settlement comes after it was sued by California for violating state laws including statutes against deceptive advertising.

The company will send products to a state-approved lab for further testing. It is also required to send pamphlets to salons to instruct workers about proper safety procedures.

A former guest at the Las Vegas Luxor hotel-casino died from Legionnaires' disease, and the resort's water system may have been the source of the infection, Nevada health officials reported Monday.

The unidentified guest stayed at the Luxor in December and fell ill shortly thereafter, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Tests found Legionella bacteria in the Luxor's water system, which was immediately treated to kill the bacteria.

The Luxor Legionnaires' death may lead to a lawsuit by the victim's relatives against the hotel's owner, MGM Resorts. The company already faces another Legionnaires' lawsuit from a separate Las Vegas outbreak last summer.

Hosting a giant (or patriotic, as the case may be) Super Bowl party comes with more than just colossal clean-up duties. It may also make you personally liable for drunk party guests' actions -- even after they leave your house.

That's because throwing a party and serving alcohol makes you a social host in the eyes of the law. Under general legal principles, a social host has an obligation to the public to serve alcohol to guests in a safe and responsible manner.

Consequences can be costly.