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Falling Furniture Can Seriously Injure Small Children

In recent years a series of recalls has brought to light the serious risk that furniture can pose to small children. Ikea has issued recalls for its Malm series of low-cost dressers, which the company says pose an unreasonable risk of toppling over if a child climbs on them. The recalls came after the eighth child was killed by a dresser in the Malm line falling on top of them.

Take steps to make your home more safe

Everyone, not just parents of small children, should give some consideration to the potential risks of furniture tipping over in their homes. The recalled Ikea dresser is only one example of “tippy” furniture. Another common source of serious injuries is modern TV sets. Modern televisions are quite large, and though they tend to be lighter than obsolete tube-based units they can still cause serious harm if they tip over onto someone. Fortunately there are simple steps that people can take to make their homes more safe. Securing tippy furniture doesn’t necessarily require making every piece of furniture impossible to move. The key is to ensure that if the furniture does tip over the anchor breaks the fall. Here are some suggestions:
  • Secure furniture and other heavy objects to anchor points, such as shelves that are firmly secured to walls or by using drywall anchors that are rated to handle the weight of the anchored object.
  • Mount flat-screen televisions on the wall instead of using tabletop stands.
  • Make sure to repair damaged furniture, especially if the damage could make the furniture more likely to fall over.
  • Supervise small children who might be prone to climbing bookshelves or open drawers. If necessary, put up gates to restrict access to dangerous rooms.

Pay attention to recalls

One reason the Ikea case is significant is the sheer number of the affected dressers. Because they are inexpensive the dressers are very common, meaning they frequently show up for sale on Craigslist and other informal channels. Even if they are available for free, consumers should not bring these dangerous items into their homes. If a product poses an unreasonable risk to consumers the manufacturer and marketers of the product may be subject to a products liability lawsuit. Retailers like Ikea try to avoid this liability by issuing recalls, which do not absolve the company of responsibility but can serve to mitigate the company’s risk. Customers who know about a recall but choose to ignore it may be considered to have assumed the risk of injury, and therefore may have difficulty recovering compensation from a company like Ikea if a recalled piece of furniture causes serious injury. People who keep furniture that poses known risks around their homes may also increase their risk of facing a lawsuit by a guest who is injured by the dangerous furniture. Homeowners can bear legal liability for injuries that occur within the home. Even if a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will assume some of the costs associated with defending against such a claim, this is not a position anyone should want to be in.

Have you been injured by falling furniture?

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in Las Vegas pursue products liability and personal injury claims. If you have been injured by furniture falling over and you would like to explore pursuing compensation from a manufacturer or other responsible person, we are happy to talk through your options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Hernia Mesh Litigation Update

In recent years manufacturers of hernia meshes have come under legal scrutiny for complications arising from the implants. Hernia meshes function by adding support beneath and around weakened tissues that have allowed an organ to squeeze through, creating a painful hernia. They can be made from a range of substances, including synthetic fibers and animal tissues, and can have a few different forms. A properly functioning mesh can treat a hernia and prevent it from recurring. But some patients have discovered that their hernia meshes have not performed as advertised or have had design defects that may be responsible for a range of complications. Plaintiffs in lawsuits against Atrium (maker of the C-QUR mesh) and Ethicon (maker of the Physiomesh) have raised a range of complaints against the manufactures. The problems related to hernia meshes have included pain, infection, migration (implants moving from their original locations), physical collapse of the implant, bowel obstruction, and even damage to nearby tissues and organs. In many cases serious complications require additional surgery. Hernia mesh lawsuits often raise a number of specific claims that are common in products liability cases involving medical devices. Among other things, the lawsuits often argue that the manufacturers knew about the complications that were possible with their devices but didn’t disclose those risks to patients. Plaintiffs also may argue that the manufacturers failed to follow legally mandated safety processes to ensure that their products performed safely. Over the years the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received numerous complaints about complications from hernia mesh implants. Some products have even been recalled for safety reasons, forcing patients to endure new surgeries to replace the recalled mesh. For patients who have received hernia mesh implants there are a number of important steps to take:
  • Keep an eye on product recalls and news about your implant’s make and model.
  • Notify your doctor about any complications you experience as soon as possible so that any serious problems can be addressed quickly.
  • If you do suffer a serious complication, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation for cases involving defective products. If you have questions about your legal options to seek compensation for problems associated with a hernia mesh, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Failing Knee Replacements Leading to More Lawsuits

A defective joint replacement can cause severe pain and lead to additional surgeries and recovery time. It can also cause or worsen trip-and-fall accidents. In recent years patients who have received certain knee replacements have been pursuing products liability claims against the replacements’ manufacturers. There are several types of knee replacement, all of which involve the surgical installation of hardware to replace or supplement the knee’s natural structures. In a total knee replacement, the most common type, the surfaces of both the thigh and shin bones are replaced using implants that are attached to the bones themselves. Implants are often attached to the bone using a specialized glue called bone cements. Patients who have had knee replacement surgery can suffer a range of potential complications after surgery. Some complications are typical of medical procedures in general: infections, challenges with healing, slow restoration of movement, and so on. But some types of complication are specific to way implants are made or designed. Implant problems can also arise from improper installation by the surgeon. Surgical mistakes can include misalignment of the implants, among other things. An example of lawsuits against implant manufacturer DePuy. Plaintiffs have sued DePuy for problems with its Attune knee replacement hardware. Some patients have experienced loosening of the bone cement intended to keep the hardware in place. As the cement loosens, patients experience pain and instability in the affected knee, and can require additional surgery to correct the problem. Nevadans who have suffered complications from a defective knee replacement may have a legal claim against the manufacturer of the implant for products liability. In some cases the patient may also have a claim against the surgeon who performed the operation. Quite often plaintiffs can benefit from pooling their resources in a class action. As one might expect, medical cases involve complicated facts that need to be analyzed by an attorney to determine the best course for the client. If you are suffering with complications from a defective knee replacement consider consulting with an attorney to understand your legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury, products liability, and medical malpractice cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Car Customization and Liability Risk in Nevada

Customizing cars is a hobby almost as old as the automobile itself. The popularity of cable TV shows about custom shops, the availability of consumer aftermarket components, and the deep roots of American car culture combine to make custom cars an increasingly common sight on the road. Although customization is fun, its fans should take a moment to think about how it can affect their legal liability. There are a number of considerations worth bearing in mind.
  • Know your insurer’s position on modifications.

If a custom modification causes an accident an insurer may not be willing to cover the resulting damages unless the insurance policy specifically allows for the custom work. Insurers like to know the details about the vehicles they insure. The vehicle identification number (VIN) provided to the insurer tells it much more than just the make and model of the car: it helps the insurer know exactly what the vehicle is equipped with and how much the vehicle is worth. A customization may alter the vehicle’s value but can also alter its performance. For example, installing an engine enhancer that increases horsepower could make the car more dangerous to drive. An insurer needs to know the kind of risk it is taking on so it can appropriately price its policies.
  • Installing aftermarket parts may complicate products liability protections.

When a consumer is injured as a consequence of design or manufacturing defects in a product the consumer can have the option to sue the manufacturer under a products liability theory. Changes to the stock configuration of the vehicle can free the manufacturer from responsibility. Instead, the manufacturer or installer of the custom part might be responsible. But determining who is at fault in such cases can be tricky, especially if the nature of the problem that caused the accident is difficult to determine.
  • Direct responsibility for unsafe modifications.

A hobbyist who does his or her own customization work often assumes the risk that some part of the work wasn’t completed correctly. Making changes to a car in a way that renders the car unsafe could expose the hobbyist to liability for any resulting injuries. Absent insurance that specifically covers it, the hobbyist could be left bearing all of the cost of the ensuing litigation and compensation to injured parties.

Ask an accident attorney about injuries from custom cars

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients injured in auto accidents in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about an accident involving a customized car, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats
Child car seats are not designed to last forever. Manufacturers label each of their car seats, as well as related equipment like bases for removable bassinets, with expiration dates past which the car seat should no longer be used. Manufacturers do this for a variety of important reasons. Parents should take expiration dates seriously.

Why do car seats expire?

If a seat were to fail in an accident the potential for catastrophic injury to the child would expose the manufacturer to expensive products liability lawsuits, not to mention a loss of confidence in the marketplace. For that reason, manufacturers of car seats put their products through extensive safety testing before selling them to the public. Manufacturers also pay close attention to how their products perform in the field and will be quick to issue recalls if something isn’t working as intended. That is why registering car seats is recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and every manufacturer. There isn’t a hard and fast rule governing when a car seat has reached its expiration date. Instead, manufacturers determine expirations based on their safety testing procedures and engineering standards. There are a number of reasons why a car seat is given an expiration date:
  • Safety standards are constantly changing, and older seats may no longer be compliant.
  • Materials and safety technology are constantly getting better.
  • Wear and tear can make straps, buckles, and safety padding more prone to breaking in an accident.
  • Manufacturers do not test seats for an indefinite time and will stop evaluating expired seats for faults that might otherwise trigger a recall.

The risks of using an expired car seat

For all the reasons above, using an expired car seat places the child at greater risk of injury. A buckle that’s worn out could snap open in a collision, potentially eliminating the seat’s protections altogether. The seat’s impact foam could be brittle and cracked underneath the external padding, making it less able to absorb shocks. The possibilities are endless. In the event of an accident an expired car seat that causes injuries could limit the parents’ ability to seek damages from the manufacturer on a products liability theory. In extreme circumstances where the responsible adult knew that the seat was defective but used it anyway, there may even be liability for the person who put the child in the seat. Using a seat that isn’t expired is one way to avoid making a tragic situation worse. This advice is especially important to keep in mind when considering whether to buy or accept a used car seat from someone else. Most thrift stores don’t take used car seats because the risks are too great, but they are often available for sale or for free through channels like Facebook and Craigslist. Used car seats may have hidden defects, may have been subject to a recall, or may be past their expiration. When it comes to safety equipment, it’s always better to buy new.

GGRM is a Las Vegas car accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in auto accident and products liability cases. Contact us if you have questions about how your car seat may affect your legal rights. For a confidential, no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability
Safety recalls are a routine part of the automotive world. Harley-Davidson recently had to recall a large number of motorcycles to address concerns that owners may not be properly maintaining their antilock braking systems, creating a risk of dangerous failure. Vehicles with the now-notorious Takata airbag system have been recalled in vast numbers to address a design flaw that has been deemed responsible for at least 15 deaths in the United States. Owners of recalled vehicles should be mindful of how such recalls can affect their ability to sue a manufacturer.

Is the manufacturer liable for injuries caused by its defective products?

Nevada’s products liability laws give consumers robust protection against defective products by making manufacturers and marketers responsible for compensating anyone injured while using them. In a nutshell, a manufacturer of a product can be liable for injuries provided that the product was actually defective at the time it left the manufacturer’s factory and the defect injured the plaintiff while the plaintiff was using it in a foreseeable way. Products liability laws are a major reason manufacturers go to the expense of issuing recalls. Consider the Harley-Davidson brakes recall. The issue with the motorcycles’ breaks wasn’t necessarily that they were inherently defective, but rather that owners weren’t following the instructions in the owner’s manual to regularly flush and replace brake fluid. An owner who failed to follow the recommended maintenance routine could end up in an accident due to a failure in the antilock system. The fact that the owner hadn’t followed the owner’s manual to the letter might help Harley-Davidson in court. But a jury could just as likely conclude that owners not studying their manuals is a foreseeable problem. Sure, an owner might glance through the book once or twice, but it’s hardly realistic to assume that every owner will follow recommended maintenance procedures to the letter. In fact, the opposite situation, where the owner doesn’t attend to regular maintenance at all, is probably common.

Recalls and litigation

In the context of personal injury litigation, the fact that a product was recalled to address the specific fault that caused the plaintiff’s injury can be a factor in determining liability. The recall is effectively an admission by the manufacturer that there’s a problem. But a recall doesn’t mean that the plaintiff automatically prevails. The defense can still raise a number of stout arguments, including:
  • Did the plaintiff know about the recall and ignore it?
  • Did anyone else work on the vehicle, potentially creating the specific problem that caused the plaintiff’s injury?
  • Did the issue that triggered the recall really cause the injury, or was there another cause? For example, did the motorcycle’s antilock braking system fail to work and cause the crash, or was the road slippery with spilled oil, making it unsafe even with fully working brakes?
Issues like these will invariably complicate a products liability lawsuit against an auto manufacturer. Someone who is injured needs an experienced products liability attorney to help them put together the best possible case. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Suing for Defective Medical Implants

Suing for Defective Medical Implants
The medical implant industry has seen enormous growth as technology has advanced. Some operations, like joint replacements, have become routine. But sometimes an implant fails to work as advertised, or it contains a significant defect that poses serious risks to the patient’s health. In recent years a number of problems with some hip implants have caused metal fragments to escape into patients’ bodies, leading to serious side effects and large lawsuits. In such cases, an injured patient may be able to recover under a products liability theory. In other cases, where the individual surgeon improperly installed an implant, the patient may be able to recover under a professional negligence theory.

Products liability for medical implants

In an ordinary products liability case the plaintiff must show that the defendant—in the case of medical implants, most likely the manufacturer—negligently designed the product. The difficulty of a plain negligence claim is that the burden rests upon the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent. That can be especially difficult in cases involving highly technical products like medical devices. If the plaintiff can meet the requirements for a strict products liability claim, the burden shifts to the manufacturer to prove that its product was not defective. A strict liability case requires the plaintiff to make a preliminary showing of five things:
  1. The defendant was the manufacturer or marketer of the product.
  2. The product was defective.
  3. The product’s defect existed when it left the defendant’s possession (in other words, it wasn’t damaged by the surgeon when it was installed).
  4. The plaintiff used the product in a way that was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant.
  5. The defect caused the plaintiff’s damages.
For medical implants, many of these elements will be fairly straightforward. The most challenging one to prove will be the product’s defectiveness. That’s in no small part because the implant is inside the plaintiff’s body. Things can get easier if the implant was removed and the defect discovered after removal. In some cases the product’s defect may come to light as many other patients begin to suffer similar problems.

Professional negligence cases against surgeons and others

In some situations the manufacturer of an implant is not responsible, or at least not solely responsible, for the patient’s injury. In cases were the installing surgeon failed to follow proper procedures or made mistakes, the patient may bring suit for professional negligence (more popularly referred to as “medical malpractice”). A professional negligence claim is based on the idea that the defendant doctor failed to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by a similarly trained and experienced professional. NRS 41A.015. Among other things, the plaintiff in such a case must provide the written affidavit of a doctor who practices in a similar field to the defendant, attesting to the defendant’s negligence.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Injuries from medical implants can be painful and expensive. Working with a local law firm to resolve the issue is important for anyone suffering from implant problems. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks

The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks
Every year in the months around the Fourth of July we hear about people being injured in accidents involving fireworks. The underlying cause of these accidents often involves an element of recklessness on the part of the injured person. Someone who hand-holds an explosive while its fuse runs out is asking for trouble. But sometimes fireworks can be involved in accidents that are less clearly the fault of the person who gets injured. In these cases an injured person may have the option of suing for compensation. Here are some possible causes of action:
  • Negligence

The most common cause of action in personal injury cases is negligence. In a nutshell, a negligence case asks whether the defendant failed to comply with a legal obligation toward the plaintiff, and as a consequence of that failure the plaintiff was injured. Someone who is lighting off fireworks arguably owes nearby people a duty to light them in a way that will not put bystanders at undue risk of harm. The boundary of this duty quickly becomes clear the more reckless the defendant was. For example, if the defendant thought it would be funny to light a firecracker on someone’s head, and the person suffered hearing loss, this would be a clear case of negligence and probably would qualify as gross negligence due to the particular disregard the defendant showed for the plaintiff’s safety. A defendant can be liable for accidentally causing someone harm as well. For example, a defendant will probably be liable for injuries that result after the defendant throws an explosive into the air with the idea that it will pop overhead, only to have it sail into a crowd by mistake. Negligence claims can be easier to establish if the responsible person was also committing a crime doing the activity that caused the plaintiff’s injury. Here in Clark County use of fireworks is only permitted from June 28 through midnight on July 4, and only products that labeled “safe and sane” list are permitted. Fireworks that explode or fire into the air are generally illegal for consumers to use within the county. Potential plaintiffs may also be violating the law if they are participating in a use of illegal fireworks—an attorney can advise how this may affect a civil case.
  • Products Liability

Everyone understands that fireworks involve a degree of risk. Even a relatively low-risk device like a sparkler can cause minor burns. That probably means that in ordinary use a properly designed and manufactured firework doesn’t create limitless liability for the business that makes or sells it. But a firework can be defectively designed or made in such a way that it is much more dangerous than a consumer will know to anticipate. For example, an unpredictably fast fuse may give users too little time to get out of the way before the firework detonates. In such cases chances are good that other people have been similarly injured and can group their cases together in a class action.

Call a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to discuss your fireworks-related injury

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident involving fireworks and you have questions about how a lawsuit can help you recover compensation, call us today for a free consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability
Thousands of consumer goods get recalled every year, from tainted lettuce to defective cars. Sometimes a manufacturer voluntarily issues a recall after discovering a problem that makes their product unsafe. Other times a regulatory agency, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will take legal action to compel a manufacturer to issue a recall. Someone who is injured by a recalled product continues to have legal recourse against the manufacturer for products liability.

A product recall is not a “get out of jail free” card

Nevada’s products liability law provides that anyone involved in the creation or marketing of a dangerously defective product may be held legally responsible for any injuries the defect causes. NRS 695E.090. This captures not only the product’s manufacturer, but also its designer, importer, distributor, and marketer. One reason for this broad scope is to ensure that injured consumers have the best opportunity to recover for their damages, without needing to target only one entity. It then falls to the parties involved in the defective product’s distribution chain to work out amongst themselves who is ultimately responsible. Businesses involved in making or marketing consumer goods typically carry insurance to cover products liability claims. An injured plaintiff can sue on two different theories:
  1. Negligence. The plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to ensure the product was reasonably safe.
  2. Strict products liability. If sufficient facts are available, the plaintiff can seek to shift the burden of proof to the defendant by showing that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession, the plaintiff used the product in a foreseeable way, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury. Nev. J.I. 7.02.
A product recall doesn’t absolve the parties in the chain of liability from responsibility. In fact, it can be a potentially powerful piece of evidence in a trial. The fact a product was recalled can be used to establish that the product was, in fact, defective. If marketers and distributors don’t pay attention to the recall they may be committing a serious act of negligence. To ensure fairness, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defect was present in the specific item that caused the injury. For example, a manufacturer of electric blankets issues a recall for a blanket due to a short in its power switch that creates a fire risk. If the plaintiff was injured by a fire caused by the same short, chances are good that a court will allow the fact of the recall to be presented to a jury. But if the plaintiff was injured by a different problem with the blanket (such as a short within the sheet itself), the recall probably isn’t relevant.

Ignoring a recall and assuming the risk of injury

Consumers who become aware of a product recall should comply with them to avoid injury. Failing to heed a recall is not just dangerous, but also potentially hands potential defendants a legal argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the product. The weight of an assumption of risk defense will depend on the facts. A plaintiff injured by a burning electric blanket may be assuming the risk of injury if she ignored multiple recall notices and a news story about the issue. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area in products liability cases. If you have been injured by a defective product and have questions about your legal options, our attorneys can help. To speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?
3D printing technology promises to revolutionize the way products are designed and made. At the industrial scale it allows manufacturers to build customized goods at a fraction of their historical cost. Affordable consumer-grade 3D printers give anyone with a computer unprecedented creative control over the design and construction of products. But if a 3D-printed item is unsafe and causes an injury, who bears responsibility? A 3D printer works by translating a digital model into a real object typically made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a common plastic used in all sorts of products. The printer builds up an object one thin layer at a time, allowing designs to incorporate complex elements like hinges or wheels. In theory a 3D printer can be used to create just about anything. Libraries of downloadable model files are available on the web, many of them for free. Many designs are simple toys or decorative objects. But other models are for useful objects. Instead of tossing out an old product with a broken part, the consumer could simply print a replacement part. Instead of running to the store to track down a specialized tool for solving a particular problem, the consumer could simply print one.

The potential risk of harm from 3D-printed objects

There probably is little harm if a model file for a cat figurine doesn’t print out correctly. But some products may involve real risk of personal injury. For example, a printed model of a safety fitting on a chainsaw may not have the same performance specifications of the original part, perhaps because the printer’s output material isn’t appropriate for the application or because the model itself isn’t precisely the right shape. If a consumer is injured by an improperly designed model the creator of the model might be legally liable for damages. Most likely such a case would need to be based on a theory of negligence. The injured person must show that the designer did not take reasonable care to ensure that the model would be safe in reasonably foreseeable applications. A designer might be responsible for warning consumers if the model needs to be made using a specific kind of material, especially if it is something other than ABS. A central challenge for a plaintiff in such cases will be proving the source of the defect in the 3D-printed object. The model designer likely will point out that he or she had nothing to do with the printing process itself, which could introduce flaws that aren’t inherent in the design. There may also be a good argument that the user of a 3D-printed object assumes the risk that it will not work the way an ordinary commercial product would.

Talk to a personal injury attorney if you have questions

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a 3D-printed object we can guide you through your legal options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.