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Montana Personal Injury Law Blog

Explaining the concept of privity of contract

The general assumption amongst most in Bozeman may be that if a company makes a product that, further down the line of the product's lifecycle, injures someone, then the manufacturer is ultimately responsible. That is what many of those who come to us here ay Cok Kinzler PLLP believe. If you or a family member have been injured due to a product defect, then you will likely want to know how far manufacturer liability goes in compensating cases such as yours.

Often, manufacturers cite the legal concept of "privity on contract" when defending themselves in product liability cases. According to the International Risk Management Institute, this philosophy states that a contract cannot impose duties on a non-contracted party. Likewise, a non-contracted party cannot claim a duty or benefit promised in a contract. Following this line of thinking, you would have to be the purchaser of a product in order to hold the manufacturer liable for any defects.

Understanding seat belt usage liability

As summer approaches, Bozeman residents no doubt look forward to vacationing and enjoying outdoor activities. The inevitable rise in such activities typically means more vehicles on the road, which can increase the risk of traffic accidents. Fortunately, seat belt and safety restraint technology now affords even greater protection to drivers and their passengers. That protection can only be enjoyed, however, if people take advantage of it by using such safety measures.

Information shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that national seat belt usage was up to 90.1 percent in 2016, with usage rates in the western U.S. (in which Montana is included) being slightly above the national average at 93.4 percent. However, it only takes a single incident of one forgetting to use a vehicle safety restraint to leave him, her or a passenger suffering devastating consequences. The question then becomes who is liable if passengers are injured due to not wearing a seat belt: themselves or those driving them?

What are nosocomial infections?

You likely view the hospitals and medical centers in Bozeman and throughout the rest of local area as being safe havens where you can go and expect to be cured or treated for whatever illness or injury you may be experiencing. This expectation is justified, as these facilities offer state-of-the-art treatment technologies administered by skilled professionals. However, it should also be remembered that you and other patients may bring with you disease-causing pathogens that can be easily transmitted to others in such a setting. The question then becomes how likely are you to acquire an infection while in the hospital?

Information shared by the World Health Organization shows that seven out of every 100 patients in developed countries such as the U.S. will develop a hospital-acquired (or “nosocomial”) infection. In the United States, that number translates to 1.7 million patients annually, or 9.3 infections per every 1,000 patient days. Such cases exact a huge financial toll on the domestic healthcare system, costing an estimated $6.5 billion in treatment expenses.

Family sues to get to bottom of what caused woman’s brain injury

Oftentimes, liability or negligence cases in Bozeman involve circumstances that cross over into the realm of criminal law. In such cases, those involved often choose to allow the criminal investigation into their cases occur while waiting to pursue any sort of civil action. Sometimes they may be left disappointed if no charges are brought as a result of these investigations. They then may choose to pursue the only method of recourse they have left, which is to file a civil claim against those they believe to be responsible for the consequences that their cases produced. While any compensation earned through such action may be helpful, their ultimate motivation may be to uncover the truth that earlier investigations could not.

Such was the stated purpose of the action taken by a New York family after their daughter suffered a serious brain injury under what they believe to be suspicious circumstances. According to the account given by her boyfriend at the time, he discovered her lying unconscious outside of his home after having slipped on ice. When he tried to pick her up, he claims to have dropped her, causing her head to hit the ground. Yet subsequent assessments by doctors seems to contradict his story, as they claim her injuries were consistent with a much more traumatic incident. A police investigation, however, failed to end in charges being filed. The woman’s injuries have since left her suffering from memory loss, anxiety issues, and behavioral disorders.

Understanding cause of action

Losing a loved one to an accident in Bozeman can be a heartbreaking experience. In such a case, few may question your decision to attempt to hold those whose actions or inactions may have contributed to your family member or friend’s death responsible. However, many often come to us here at Cok Kinzler PLLP prepared to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, only to discover that not all unanticipated deaths warrant such action. Thus, before considering seeking legal recourse, it may first be helpful to understand wrongful death cause of action.

According to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 136,000 occurring in 2013 alone. While news coverage regarding wrongful death lawsuits may seem frequent, it may be safe to assume that not all unintentional injury deaths result in legal action. That’s because cause of action must be established when arguing a wrongful death claim. “Cause of action” is defined as those facts that allow you to being action against another.

Understanding the concept of market share liability

Most in Bozeman may assume that product liability cases generally play out as follows: One is injured by a product, then sues that product’s manufacturer. Yet what if one cannot identify a dangerous product’s exact manufacturer? Is he or she then left without any legal recourse?

Not if his or her case meets the standard of applying market share liability. The Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems defines market share liability as a tort theory that allows plaintiffs to recover damages for injuries caused by fungible, mass-marketed products even though they are unable to identify the responsible manufacturer. In this instance, any responsibility for a plaintiffs injuries is apportioned to a defendant (or various defendants) according to market share. An example would be a person injured after taking a drug. Several different companies each offer a version of that drug. If the person cannot discover which company manufactured the exact drug he or she took, the court could choose to assign liability to all of them according to each company’s market share.

Examining different forms of driving distractions

While you, like many, might consider drunk drivers to be the biggest threat to your safety on Bozeman’s roads, another safety risk that often goes overlooked is distracted drivers. When hearing the term “distracted driver,” you likely envision someone using talking on their cell phone or texting while driving. Many of those that we here at Cok Kinzler PLLP have worked with once shared the same assumption, only to later find out that there are several different forms of distracted driving.

Information shared though a collaborative effort between the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance recognizes three forms of distractions that drivers face:

  •          Visual distractions
  •          Manual distractions
  •          Cognitive distractions

Court rules woman cannot sue out-of-state doctor under state laws

People in Bozeman who have suffered due to poor care rendered by medical providers may count on the law to provide them with recourse. Often, their intention is not to punish the doctors or clinicians involved, but rather earn compensation to cover the cost of the issues that they are left to deal with. However, as is the case in all legal proceedings, issues such as jurisdiction must first be settled before one can move forward with any intended legal action.

What if, for example, one received medical care in another state, only to later learn that incompetence or error on the part of the doctor who provided it had caused his or her condition to worsen? Such was the scenario encountered by a New Mexico woman years after having received gastric bypass surgery in Texas. A subsequent procedure found that the chronic abdominal pain she had been experiencing since that initial surgery was due to poor suturing done by the original surgeon. However, since the surgeon was a state employee, and Texas state law prohibits people from suing its employees, she was unable to initiate action in the county where the surgery had taken place.

What are the common injury risks in the oil industry?

If you work in the oil industry in Montana, then you have likely been exposed to the many risks of the job. The oil industry is well-known for its potential dangers. It is also highly regulated by the government to ensure the safety of workers. However, despite regulations, accidents still occur. According to records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the best way to prevent injuries is to be aware of them.

Common risks in this field range from falls to vehicle accidents. Equipment is one source that has to be carefully monitored. You should ensure that you are trained to work with or around any equipment being used. High-pressure lines can expose you to two different kinds of trouble. They could leak, exposing you to the chemicals inside them or they could fail and put you at risk of being struck. Another common issue to be aware of is working in confined spaces. You may be required to enter tanks or pits that can expose you to toxins. You should be clear on how to test the area and enter it safely.

Reviewing bullying as a cause of action for wrongful death

Most may assume that the details of a majority of wrongful death lawsuits filed both in Bozeman and throughout the rest of the U.S. describe negligent actions (or inactions) by a certain party. While that may be the case in many complaints, recent years have a seen a rise in a new type of wrongful death action: lawsuits involving bullying. As the concept of suing over bullying is still relatively new, states are often left scrambling to determine if their wrongful death statutes apply to such actions.

The website StopBullying.gov states that the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have collaborated to officially define the different types of bullying. These include:

  •          Physical abuse
  •          Verbal abuse
  •          Damage to property
  •          Relational damage

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Bozeman, MT 59715

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