Stun guns have an undeserved reputation for being safe simply because they are intended to be non-lethal weapons. But just because someone might not die from a Taser, doesn’t mean he or she cannot suffer severe injuries. Police officers have a responsibility to use all weapons in a controlled, thoughtful manner. But government liability lawyers in Riverside know all too well the prevalence of police brutality and excessive force violations. Contact a personal injury lawyer right away if you or a loved one has sustained injuries from an unwarranted Taser attack.
The specifics of a government liability lawsuit can depend on the exact classification of the victim, such as whether he or she was a suspect, detainee, or convict. Since suspects and detainees haven’t been convicted, the use of excessive force or punishment against them could be considered a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which guarantee the right of due process. On the other hand, the unwarranted use of Tasers against convicts who have already received due process would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment.
Tasers can cause severe injuries in several ways. First, hand-held stun guns work by shooting two barbed electrodes at the victim. The barbs penetrate the skin, causing a painful wound that requires careful treatment, especially if the barbs penetrated near a sensitive body part like the neck or face. Second, the electrodes deliver up to 50,000 volts of electricity to the body, which disrupts the body’s natural and necessary functions. Third, the jolt of 50,000 volts causes the person to fall to the ground, and to violently and uncontrollably spasm. All of these actions can cause serious injuries, including the following:
- Penetrating wounds (safe removal of barbs requires specialized medical knowledge)
- Skin burns
- Cardiac disease
- Cardiac arrest and sudden death
- Mental health crisis (possibly exacerbated by substance abuse)
- Head trauma
- Eye injuries
- Testicular torsion
- Torn tendons and ligaments
- Organ damage
Arguably, the possible effects on a pregnant woman are even more frightening. There is a connection between the use of stun guns on pregnant women and miscarriage. Another troubling aspect of indiscriminate Taser use is the fact that it’s impossible for a police officer to know if a person has a pre-existing health condition. A stun gun can interfere with a life-saving pacemaker, for example, yet many officers won’t think twice before using a “non-lethal” stun gun, even when the situation does not warrant it.
One of the primary tasks of personal injury lawyers serving the Riverside area is proving causation. This refers to whether the negligent actions taken by the defendant caused the plaintiff’s slip and fall injury. Watch this featured video to learn about two types of causation and how they might be proven in court.
“But for” causation indicates that, but for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would not have sustained the injury. For example, but for the defendant’s failure to clear the aisles of a store, the plaintiff would never have been in a trip and fall accident. Another type is substantial causation. This means that the injury might have occurred anyway, but the defendant’s actions substantially contributed to it. As an example, a hypothetical plaintiff with pre-existing knee pain files a personal injury lawsuit, claiming the defendant’s failure to clear the aisles of a store resulted in a fall that required knee replacement surgery. Since the plaintiff has a history of knee problems, he or she might have needed the surgery at some point anyway. However, the defendant’s actions substantially contributed to the worsening of the knee pain, which led to the surgery.
Indoor rock climbing gyms are a great way to experience the thrill of the sport without worrying about falling off a cliff hundreds of feet in the air. But even indoor climbing walls present the possibility of injuries, and injured climbers might not always be the responsible party. A climbing wall injury case can be a little more complicated than the average slip and fall lawsuit . Consult a personal injury lawyer serving the Riverside area who has plenty of experience with complicated types of premises liability cases.
Assessing the Possibility of Product Liability
Injured climbers might assume that the gym is usually to blame for an accident and their subsequent injuries. But this isn’t necessarily true in all cases. Your personal injury lawyer will consider whether the climbing equipment was inherently defective in design or manufacture. If so, then the manufacturer could be held liable for the damages. For example, the manufacturer might have produced the carabiner out of a poor quality of aluminum alloy that caused it to malfunction. One possible defense to this claim is that the climber was using the equipment in a manner not intended by the manufacturer. Hypothetically, if the climber decided to light the climbing rope on fire, and the climber fell as a result, then the manufacturer would not be found liable because the rope was never supposed to be lit on fire. Additionally, the climber could be found liable for the damage to the equipment and gym.
Taking a Closer Look at Gym Waivers
One key piece of evidence in any climbing gym lawsuit is the waiver. Climbers are required to sign a waiver before they’re allowed to use the equipment, and many of them don’t read the full document. The premises liability attorney will need to carefully examine the waiver, and consider the facts of the case in light of the provisions in the document. Liability waivers are supposed to prevent climbers from suing the gym in the event of an injury. However, if the gym owner or supervisor can be proven negligent, climbers can usually file a lawsuit regardless.
If someone’s spouse dies as a result of acute toxicity from pesticides or chemicals, the surviving victim may have legal recourse. This could include a wrongful death claim that falls under the category of toxic torts. Toxic torts are claims filed by a personal injury lawyer in Riverside. They seek compensation for the victims based on the defendant’s negligence in causing the decedent to be exposed to deadly environmental hazards. A personal injury lawsuit won’t bring the decedent back, but it can allow the surviving family members to attain a sense of justice. It’s also possible to file a toxic tort in the absence of a wrongful death, as long as the injuries were directly caused by the negligent act.
Legal Concepts Regarding Toxic Torts
Like other personal injury lawsuits, a toxic tort claim is based on the legal concepts of liability and negligence. Negligence refers to any careless behavior that leads to the plaintiff’s injury or the decedent’s wrongful death. Liability means that the defendant has been found responsible. In order to win a favorable jury verdict for the plaintiff, the lawyer must prove the following:
- The defendant owed a duty to act with reasonable care toward the public or a specific person.
- The defendant’s careless behavior failed to meet this duty of reasonable care.
- The defendant’s careless behavior caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.
Hypothetically, assume that the defendant is the owner of a farm that grows peppers, and he or she uses pesticides on the fields. The plaintiff is a farmworker who was exposed to toxic levels of pesticides after being instructed to apply the chemicals. The plaintiff may sue the defendant for these injuries if the defendant failed to provide the worker with the necessary safety equipment.
Examples of Toxic Torts
Toxic torts can be based on a wide range of allegations. For instance, plaintiffs may claim that a landfill or manufacturing plant polluted their groundwater, causing cancers and birth defects. One of the most well-known toxic torts is the Love Canal case. In the mid-1900s, Hooker Chemicals & Plastics Corp. used a dump site at Love Canal, New York to bury 22,000 tons of hazardous chemicals. During the next two decades, the chemicals seeped into the pipes and into the air. More than 1,000 families had to leave their homes permanently, and more than 600 personal injury lawsuits were filed. The cases resulted in multi-million dollar settlements.
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