Monday, April 28, 2014

Swimming Accidents and Drowning Deaths

Swimming Safety

Now that summer is approaching, many of us and our children will spend quality time in the water. Whether it is swimming pools, lakes or the ocean, we all love swimming and playing in the water. In order to be safe it is important to swim with someone or with someone watching. Cramps, passing out, panic, and unknown medical conditions can all cause the drowning of otherwise healthy swimmers. The Red Cross provides good safety advice.

Most people are surprised when they learn that very frequently someone drowns without a lot of noise and splashing. Splashing is actually what someone does when they are staying afloat. What actually often happens is the drowning person panics and tries to conserve air while going under the water without a struggle or a sound. This is why it is critical to keep an eye on whomever is in the water. 

Drownings often occur with many people around as a result of a lack of attention. Most lifeguards are dedicated and attentive but even the best lifeguard can become distracted. This is especially the case with teenage lifeguards if their supervisors have not trained them well and do not supervise them properly. Many a child has drowned because parents assume the lifeguard is paying attention.

Just in the past couple years our firm has represented the families of two drowning victims. Both drowned with people around. One drowned at a hotel pool with a lifeguard on duty and one drowned in a public lake. Obviously, no one saw or heard anything until it was too late. In the lake drowning the victim could not swim and there was a sudden, unmarked drop-off in the "shallow" area and he just slipped under. In the case of the pool there was host of problems to be on the lookout for. The water was dirty and too hot; the air was too hot; the lifeguard was poorly trained and poorly supervised; and, most importantly, was distracted by other swimmers and pool deck duties.

Defective Products

Defective Products

Consumers have the right to expect that the products they purchase are safe or that they will be warned of any possible safety issues.  Even with the best intentions, companies inevitably put unsafe products on the market.  To protect themselves from liability they purchase product liability insurance and employ highly skilled lawyers.  These cases can be very complex but an experienced lawyer can assist you if you or a loved one has been injured.

One of the interesting aspects of products liability law in Virginia is that the negligence of the user is not fatal to the claim. Foreseeable misuse is something the manufacturer of the product has to take into account before placing the product in the marketplace.  As a result, for what the law calls a "breach of warranty", the manufacturer can be liable even if the consumer does not use the product exactly as it was intended.

Defective products can appear in all areas of life, from the tires on the car to the kids' toys.  Design defects, manufacturing defects, failure to warn of safety concerns, and breach of warranties are all types of products liability cases.  If you are injured by a defective product, you may be able to recover for your injuries from the manufacturer, the distributor, the supplier, or the retailer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cycling Accidents


Cycling accidents can be devastating to the cyclist. Fatalities and brain injuries are common because of the severe trauma a cyclist can suffer when hit by car or thrown to the ground at 30-40 miles an hour. Automobile drivers rarely understand that bikers have the exact same rights on the road as a car does. Car drivers also do not pay enough attention to cyclists sharing the road with them and often cause crashes because of a failure to look for cyclists.

In cases involving cyclists it is advantageous to have a lawyer who is an experienced bike rider. The perspective of a cyclist/lawyer can help by analyzing the accident from the perspective of a cyclist who is not only familiar with the rules of the road but also familiar with how drivers behave and react towards cyclists.

Matthew O'Herron is an experienced and avid cyclist. During law school he cycled around Ireland for a month. He is a member of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and follows the racing in Europe during the spring and summer. For more information visit our website.