Frequently Asked Questions
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My wife purchased a vacuum cleaner a number of years ago, and when using it it suddenly burst into flames causing burns. We don't have any receipt showing the proof of purchase, do we still have a case if we could show the product was defective?
There are some tricky issues, but proof of actual purchase such as a receipt is not mandatory as long as corroborating evidence can show when the machine was purchased. Remember, as long as we know what company manufactured the vacuum we've identified the manufacturer, but it is required to know which business sold it in order to sue the retailer as well.
I was injured by a product that slashed my wrist because there was no guard across the blade. What types of legal theories does a defective product attorney use to sue a manufacturer or distributor?
The most common theories in defective product cases are breach of warranty (it can be an express warranty that was written, an oral warranty, or an implied warranty by law). Some states have another theory that is called strict liability, but not every state follows that rule so talk to one of our defective product lawyers for advice.
What is negligence with regard to a product defect, how do we go about proving negligence?
There are a couple of negligence theories in product liability/faulty product cases: Proof that the product was defective as manufactured when it left the factory (this is done by tracing the product condition back to the time it was manufactured, with no changes or significant maintenance, which can be the proof of a defect as manufactured). Or it can be shown that the manufacturer negligently failed to warn you or general consumers about a known product defect, and that the manufacturer had the ability to get the word out by letters, by Internet or other means.
What types of breach of warranty claims can be made against a manufacturer?
All states have implied warranties under state laws or the Uniform Commercial Code which state that products must be free of material defects or defects in workmanship, that products must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which they are sold, and state laws vary on whether these implied by law warranties can be waived or not, so consult with a defective product attorney with our firm. Implied warranties are in addition to any written warranty that was advertised along with the product.
One of my family members suffered an electrical shock when their work equipment touched a power line causing a serious shock. What laws apply to this type of activity?
State and federal law have a strict liability statute that work equipment may not be placed within a certain number of feet of any overhead power lines. So if the employer or person was responsible for putting the work equipment in close proximity to an overhead power line there will be liability on the company that authorized that work. Consult with an experienced electric shock attorney with our law firm for advice.
In a medical malpractice case, involving a doctor's surgical error, if it is obvious the doctor was negligent, is it necessary to obtain a surgeon on our side of the case who said that it was an error?
In a surgical error case it is virtually always required that our side, the side representing the injured victim, retain a medical doctor in the same field as the surgeon, who must give an opinion that the surgeon violated applicable medical standards. Virginia and many states require that the expert who says malpractice occurred, practice in the same field, and have been practicing in recent time close to when the negligent occurred as well. In other words, a surgeon that we retain must also be practicing and must be familiar with the area where the medical malpractice allegedly occurred.
I was in an accident where a tractor trailer rear-ended my car, and it appears the driver may have fallen asleep. Do I have a valid claim against him even if I can't prove for sure he fell asleep before he struck my vehicle?
In serious car accident cases involving large, commercial trucks, a myriad of federal regulations require that truck drivers not exceed a certain number of hours of service in each calendar day and also measured over several days. A skilled Virginia and North Carolina trucking injury attorney with our firm can require the trucking company to produce log books, and other data which shows how much the driver was operating the truck in the couple of days before the incident. This becomes very important in any case like the one you describe.
I've been diagnosed with lung cancer and I worked for a railroad for 25 years, is it possible to bring a claim against the railroad for exposing me to toxic substances that may have contributed to my lung cancer?
Yes there is a claim for occupational diseases, it depends on whether it can be proved that the railroad failed to properly protect the worker during his workplace activities over the many years. And there is a 3-year statute of limitations with a discovery rule. The 3 years begins to run when the worker "knew or should have known" that their occupational disease was connected with the railroad activities. Often, the worker does not know what caused the lung disease until a doctor diagnoses the condition so that often is when the statute begins to run. There are exceptions, consult with one of our attorneys if you have a question.
I'm a railroad worker with 25 years experience and my lung doctor says that my lungs are so bad I should not work at the railroad in dust and fumes any longer. Do I have a claim against the railroad that employs me for exposing me to toxic dust or fumes?
Occupational diseases are fully covered, by a federal law called the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) which applies to injury or disease claims of workers against the employing railroads. If the railroad negligently exposed you to dust or fumes, and should have taken industrial safety preventative measures, a claim may be made. Often there is "accident report" associated with these type diseases since they don't strike on a certain day of your life.
My vehicle was struck by a tractor trailer and it was his fault, and I got the police form that shows the driver's name. Whose insurance applies, the driver's or the company he works for?
Both insurances apply, that is if the driver has his own policy covering his commercial activities, that policy applies coverage. If he is working for a trucking company as their driver, moving their load, then the trucking company's insurance will apply under federal regulations governing interstate trucking business. Sometimes, the insurance covering the trailer, even if the trailer was not struck, can also provide additional insurance.