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Chesapeake, VA Navy Petty Officer Dies A Hero, Saves Son From Flames of SUV on Fire

It was a hot summer day, and a tired but happy family was on their way home from a military appreciation day at an amusement park. Joe Weschler, his young son Dalton and his wife Michelle were driving on Interstate 64 in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), when their brand new 2011 Chevy Traverse exploded into flames without warning.

In seconds, the car became a burning inferno but somehow Weschler managed to get the car to the shoulder. He frantically began trying to free his 4-year-old son from the car seat, even as he was being burned alive. In a final act of bravery, he draped his body around his son, saving his life.

A passerby managed to pull the baby free from underneath his father. The wife was also rescued by a passerby but was badly burned and injured. Still conscious, she screamed for her husband.  Tragically it was too late for this military hero. The passerby who rescued the baby could do no more as an explosion of flames engulfed the car.

As a father and licensed Virginia personal injury car accident attorney this story hits home with me.  I would do the same thing this dedicated father did and try at all costs to save my children, but this shouldn't be a choice parents have to make. A faulty part may consumers have not been informed about may have caused this vehicle fire. Most people would feel the safest in a new 2011 vehicle. 

The widow and child that were badly burned and injured emotionally and physically are going to need a lot of medical assistance to recover. Michelle Weschler may have the right of a faulty product wrongful death action against the seller of the car or the manufacturer if it was indeed a malfunctioning fuel line or defect that caused this terrible fire. An investigation is ongoing, but an insurance provider reported that the deadly fire was sparked by a vehicle malfunction.

What exactly is a faulty product wrongful death?

A defective product is one that causes injury as a result of a flaw or deficiency in the product such as labeling, construction, or how the product was used. The manufacturer of the product that caused the injury, in addition to the individuals involved in the chain of commerce such as the provider, are liable for injuries caused by these defective products. Product liability claims are cases dealing with injury or damage stemming from defective products (e.g., a car sold with a faulty fuel line or even a mislabeled product or drug that causes injury).

Our experienced defective product lawyers were able to win recovery for a worker who had his hand mangled and later needed to have his thumb amputated because a trailer slipped off a jack while he was working around the equipment. He received a $750,000 settlement from the maker of the defective parts.

Injuries resulting from defective products aren't always as straightforward as a defective fuel line or faulty jack. Our firm has handled a number of interesting cases. In one case the manufacturer and the seller of a baseball pitching machine had improperly designed their product in such a way as to cause a facial injury to a person using the equipment.

So what happens when the injuries from a defective product are so bad that they cause death?  

That's where the wrongful death part comes in. When an individual dies as a result from an injury caused by negligence the survivors may be entitled to damages as a result of the faulty product that took their loved ones life.

When a family member is permanently injured such as in this tragic case or even killed due to defective or dangerous product, the person injured or their family member often contacts our experienced faulty product injury lawyers to seek justice. If you have lost a love one this free VA wrongful death report is for you.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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