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Northern Virginia Personal Injury, Business, Family Law, Consumer and Estate Blog

Helping you hold a negligent property owner accountable

Most days, residents in Virginia enter and exit the properties of others. Whether it is a grocery store, post office, clinic, gas station, department store or the home of another, most do not view these places as dangerous or prone to risks. However, when a property owner is negligent and dangerous conditions are not addressed, this could result in a visitor or patron being seriously injured.

While no one expects to be injured on private or public property, if an individual is harmed by a dangerous condition, this could result in much pain and suffering, serious injuries and damages. At Surovell, Isaacs & Levy, PLC, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping those harmed by negligent property owners, helping them successfully navigate a premises liability action.

What is a wrongful death action in Virginia?

Even a casual consumer of local news knows that accidental deaths are frequent occurrences in Northern Virginia. Such incidents frequently produce lawsuits by the decedent's family to recover damages from the party who is at fault. A common question about such suits is why does the family of someone who dies in a car accident or some other mishap have the right to sue someone else? The answer is provided by Virginia statute.

Under the common law, the death of an accident victim terminated the right of the decedent and their family to commence a lawsuit for damages. The unfairness of this rule prompted the Virginia legislature and the legislatures of the other forty-nine states to pass laws permitting such lawsuits. The Virginia statute is entitled "Action for death by wrongful act." The rule is straightforward: "Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default," the personal representative of the decedent may bring an action for damages against any party whose "wrongful act" caused the death.

Truck accidents: truck rear guards are often inadequate

A common but little known type of accident involving tractor-trailer trucks in Virginia is the underride collision, in which an automobile either collides with or is shoved into the rear end of the trailer. In these accidents, the occupants of the car suffer death or serious injuries when they are forced against the frame of the trailer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has adopted regulations that are intended to require adequate rear-end trailer shields to guard against such truck accidents, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recently released findings questioning the adequacy of existing regulations and their enforcement.

The IIHS said that rear guards are either inadequate as installed or are poorly repaired, thereby impairing their function. Rust in the parts that are intended to provide the underride shield is a frequent defect. One study found holes resulting from rust that penetrated the entire piece of metal. Other tests have shown that existing rear shields fail to prevent underride accidents, even at speeds well below highway speeds. The IIHS also points out that many trucks have no rear guards and that existing rear guards can be approved without going through actual crash tests.

Head-on collision on I-64 kills two in Albemarle County

Anyone who has traveled on the interstate system in Virginia has seen the crossover lanes marked with the red "O" with a slash through it. Most motorists know that the sign prohibits vehicles from using the crossover. In a recent car accident in Albemarle County, a driver attempting to avoid police ignored such a sign and ended up killing himself and another driver in a head-on crash.

At about 6:00 a.m. on July 16, police received reports of an Isuzu pickup being driven erratically in the westbound lanes of I-64. Troopers soon caught up with the truck, but the driver used an emergency crossover to enter the eastbound lanes. After traveling west in the eastbound lane for a few moments, the pickup truck crashed into an eastbound sedan. Both vehicles then struck an eastbound truck.

Moderate to severe TBI in middle age may raise dementia risk

Many Northern Virginians suffer blows to the head in a variety of circumstances - automobile collisions, work accidents and falls at home, to name a few. One consequence of a blow to the head is a traumatic brain injury. A new study has found a potential link between moderate to severe TBI and dementia later in life.

TBI is defined as a blow, bump or jolt to the head that causes physical damage to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013 TBI was involved in 2.5 million emergency room visits and 282,000 hospitalizations. Several studies have found a link between TBI and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, but a recent study in Finland has investigated the causal effect of TBI on three disorders, dementia, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ("Lou Gehrig's disease").

Retailer must face trial in parking lot injury case

During Northern Virginia business hours, parking lots are beehives of activity, with cars, trucks and pedestrians constantly moving about. Collisions and injuries seem to be inevitable, but the legal duty of retailers to post appropriate signs and otherwise regulate traffic in these lots remains an open legal question. A recent state court appellate decision on this issue may affect premises liability cases in Virginia and other states.

The plaintiff, a 72-year-old woman, was pushing a shopping cart when she was struck by a pickup truck. Two years later, she died from her injuries. The woman's family sued the department store, claiming that the retailer had a legal obligation to post stop signs or other warnings to slow vehicle traffic.

Air bag liability claims force Takata to declare bankruptcy

Automobile design and manufacturing defects are common causes of injuries and death in Virginia and elsewhere. Manufacturers frequently spend large amounts of money defending liability claims that are based on these defects, but occasionally such efforts are unavailing. In one the largest products liability cases in recent times, air bag Takata Corp. has been forced to file bankruptcy because it faces overwhelming recall costs and liability for damages caused by its defective air bag inflators.

Air bags have been a common safety features in cars for the last thirty years. Takata, a manufacturer based in Japan, has sold millions of inflator mechanisms to 19 automobile manufacturers during this time. Unfortunately, Takata's air bag has a serious defect. Ammonium nitrate, the gas that is used to inflate the air bag in case of a collision, deteriorates over time if it is exposed to high heat and humidity. The deterioration causes the gas to expand too rapidly and with excessive force. The resulting explosion sends metal shards into the passenger compartment. The flying metal pieces have caused more than 180 serious injuries and at least 16 deaths. Many of these cases are still pending in the courts.

Visitor's status can determine rights in premises liability case

When a person calls up their friend and asks the friend come over to their house for dinner, the friend may be considered an invitee into the home of the person hosting them for a meal. Situations like this happen each day in Fairfax, but interactions between property owners and others do not end at these straightforward pleasantries. If a person visits a store to buy goods, are they considered an invitee at the store? Or does their status as a visitor change because they were not specifically requested to come to the property owner's building? This post will explore the different statuses individuals may have when they visit properties and how those statuses can change their rights if they are harmed in premises liability accidents.

As discussed in this post's introduction, an invitee is a person who is openly invited onto the property of another person. Individuals who shop in grocery stores and other retail shops are also invitees, because the properties they visit openly invite shoppers to peruse and purchase their goods.

What types of accidents can lead to traumatic brain injuries?

The human body is an amazing thing. Its many systems work together to allow individuals to move, breathe, think, act and perform unlimited tasks in a seamless and consistent manner. The brain is responsible for coordinating many of those vital life tasks, so when Virginia residents suffer injuries to their brains their lives can be impacted in many ways.

There many ways that a person may suffer a traumatic brain injury. Common causes can include, but are not limited to, motor vehicle accidents, falls that result in head trauma and violence inflicted upon victims by other individuals. Although there are instances where a person's own fault may lead to their brain injury, these potentially devastating injuries can often occur when others act negligently and cause those near them harm.

What to do if you are injured by a dangerous product

Products liability cases arise in Fairfax when consumers suffer harm as a result of using products put into the stream of commerce by sellers. Sellers can be expanded to cover a wide range of possible defendants in a products liability case, including but not limited to the company that designed the dangerous goods, the entity that made the parts that went into the dangerous goods, the entity that assembled the defective good, and the store that sold the dangerous products to consumers.

When a Fairfax resident is hurt by a dangerous consumer good they may not know what steps to take to protect their rights. After seeking medical help for their injuries they may consider speaking with a personal injury attorney about their losses and their chances of pursuing litigation to recover their incident-related damages.

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