Frequently Asked Questions
- Page 7
What is a demand letter in a personal injury case?
A demand letter is a document that “demands” financial compensation for a correction of a problem or a wrong. In a personal injury case, the demand letter is used to present the facts of the case to the at-fault party (via their insurance company) in order to show them why they should provide that restitution instead of going to court to litigate the case. Your Virginia personal injury attorney is usually the one to send the demand letter on your behalf.
What proof is needed to win a food contamination injury case?
Virginia law recognizes a special "food warranty" that is an obligation on any seller or distributor of foods or consumable or edible products. Food is considered a product and therefore food that is contaminated is considered to be a defective product. Under Virginia’s product liability laws, only strict liability is needed, meaning the victim does not have to prove the negligence on the part of the defendant, only that they put a defective product that was dangerous on the market and that product caused the victim’s injuries.
Who are the possible liable parties in a food contamination claim?
- The company that grew (or sourced) the food.
- The company that refined and/or prepared the food, including bagging the food, canning the food, or freezing the food.
- The wholesaler
- The retailer
- The restaurant or supermarket that sold the food to the victim.
What is the difference between food contamination and food poisoning?
Food poisoning can occur when there is a presence of some type of bacteria (i.e. listeria or salmonella) in the food. Food poisoning is usually caused by the improper handling of the food, such as not cooking the food long enough or not keeping it refrigerated.
Food contamination occurs when food has a foreign object in it, such as glass, chemicals, or any other item that is not supposed to be there.
What Is the One Bite Rule in North Carolina?
As defined by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University, the one bite rule
Says that the owner of a domesticated animal (e.g., a dog) will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal only if the owner knew or should have known about the animal’s dangerous or vicious propensities, which have been manifested in the past. The burden of proof is on the injured party to show that the animal owner possessed this knowledge. The “one-bite” rule originated in common law and has been rejected or modified by most states, either by statute or by case law, with regard to dogs.
North Carolina is one of the minority of states that continues recognizing this principle. However, section 67.4-1 of the state code pretty much invalidates the one bite rule by making a dog owner completely financially responsible for any attack that results in a severe injury. That statute also defines a severe injury from a dog bite as one “that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization.”
In practical terms, any dog bite that requires stitches or more should provide grounds for an insurance claim in North Carolina.
What Defenses Can North Carolina Dog Owners Use in Dog Bite Cases?
Dog owners in North Carolina have the following defenses against insurance claims and civil lawsuits arising from dog bites:
- The victim was threatening or abusing the dog.
- The victim was threatening or assaulting the owner or a member of the owner’s family.
- The victim was trespassing or otherwise on the owner’s property without permission.
- The victim was committing some other crime.
- The dog was trained for and working in a law enforcement capacity or was being used in a lawful hunt.
Are North Carolina Dog Owners Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?
Yes, but some conditions apply.
Generally, a dog bite victim in North Carolina will have grounds for filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against a dog owner when the attack results in severe injuries or death. It will also be essential that the victim did not provoke the dog into attacking.
Note that minor nips or mild bruising do not count as severe injuries. Section 67-4.1 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines a severe injury as “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization.”
The owner of a dog that is older than 6 months and attacks someone while running free and unaccompanied after dark can also be held liable for injuries.
A final provision of North Carolina state law that makes dog owners financially responsible for dog bite injuries concerns attacks by “dangerous dogs.” By statute, a dangerous dog is one that inflicts severe injuries or that has previously bitten someone or previously attacked another domestic animal.
What happens if I miss Virginia’s statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Before you assume you have waited too long to file a medical malpractice claim, consult a Virginia plaintiff’s attorney. The date on which the usual two-year statute of limitations clock starts ticking is different for every case. Note, as well, that Virginia sets special statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims on behalf of infants who suffer birth injuries and for children who are under 18 years of age when an alleged medical error occurs. Contact us for more information.
Depending on what happened to you, the date from which you needed to take legal action could be the day on which a medical error occurred, the day on which symptoms caused by a medical error became disabling or the day you learned a medical error harmed you. Additionally, the standard two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations can be extended to three years when the case involves a missed cancer diagnosis, an object left in your body following surgery, or fraud intended to cover up a medical error.
Why does Virginia impose a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims?
Succeeding with a claim for a preventable injury or wrongful death requires presenting a great deal of evidence that can be lost, destroyed or damaged as time passes. This is especially true with medical malpractice claims, which can depend on biological samples and paper records and notes that health care practitioners and facilities cannot keep forever.
Additionally, memories fade, people move or pass away, and drawing a direct connection between a medical mistake and an adverse health outcome becomes impossible after a certain time. Essential testimony will not be available if a patient waits too long to file a malpractice claim. Even more importantly, waiting too long will give the defendants in a medical malpractice stronger grounds for arguing that the patient’s current health problem resulted from some cause other than alleged negligence.
What is the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice claim in Virginia?
Generally, a patient who is harmed by a health care provider’s negligence in Virginia has two years to file a medical malpractice claim. Similarly, a family member or estate/legal executor for a person who gets killed by a medical error has two years to file a wrongful death claim.
As spelled out in section 8.01-243 of the Virginia Code, an extension to the 24-month statute of limitations can be granted when the case involves
- A foreign object left inside a patient’s body;
- “Fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation prevent[ing] discovery of the injury within the two-year period”; or
- A missed cancer diagnosis,
Depending on the facts of the case, the clock on the medical malpractice statute of limitations starts ticking on the day of the medical error, the day when the victim discovered the medical error, or the day on which health problems brought on by the medical error became disabling. Consulting with an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney will help you determine if your possible case falls within the statute of limitations.
Note, as well, that Virginia sets special statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims on behalf of infants and children who are under 18 when an alleged medical error occurs. Contact us for more information.