Accidents are the third leading cause of death for males in California and the sixth leading cause of death for females. Some of those are caused by the decedent's own carelessness but many are caused by the negligence of others.
When another person's negligence causes a death, the law regards the death as “wrongful.” All wrongful deaths caused by negligence are preventable. There is little you can do to prevent another person or business from behaving carelessly, but there are some warning signs you can look for that might help you anticipate life-threatening situations. Spotting those warning signs could save your life.
If you have been following the news, you know that as many as 34 million vehicles in the United States have been recalled due to defective Takata airbags. If you have not been following the story, you should take steps to protect yourself. It may take time before you receive a recall notice and, if you are not your vehicle's original owner, the automaker might never locate you.
If you wonder whether your car is equipped with a defective airbag, you should be heartened to learn that automakers have finally identified every VIN number of vehicles equipped with the recalled Takata products. You can check your VIN number here.
Unsafe products kill California consumers every year. The products are usually marketed without the kind of thorough testing that would identify and correct dangerous conditions.
The Takata airbag is just one example of an unsafe product that has been recalled. Other dangerous products that have been recalled in recent weeks include:
- Colnago bicycles (front brakes detach, creating crash hazard)
- Bud and Skipit Wheely Cute Pull Toys (choking hazard)
- Multivitamin Women 50+ tablets (failure to use child-resistant caps poses poisoning threat to children)
- Cree LED T8 replacement lamps (fire hazard from electrical arcing)
- Apple Pill XL portable wireless speakers (fire hazard from battery overheating)
- Earthwise cordless 17-inch electric lawn mower (mower can start when key is not in starting position)
- Baby's Dream cribs and furniture (poisoning hazard from lead paint)
You can keep track of product recalls by regularly visiting the recall page of the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
People who know they have food allergies usually take care to read product labels before eating a food that could produce a life-threatening reaction. Unfortunately, some food labels are inaccurate, creating unexpected risks for food allergy sufferers.
Even if have no allergies, food contamination may put you at risk of death. Salmonella and E. coli are among the foodborne toxins that claim lives every year. Producers, importers, and retailers of contaminated food share responsibility for the problem. The Food and Drug Administration is charged with inspecting food supplies, but it is perennially underfunded and inspects only a small percentage of food producers and suppliers.
When contamination leads to a preventable death, personal injury lawyers can help surviving family members obtain compensation. To avoid becoming a victim, however, the FDA has some tips to help you purchase and store food.
Unsafe home conditions
Never assume that landlords, carpenters, and appliance installers know what they are doing. Free-standing stoves should have anti-tip devices that anchor the stove to the floor or wall. When landlords do their own stove installation or delegate it to a handyman rather than a professional, they often omit the anti-tip brackets. That poses a danger of a stove tipping over and killing a curious child.
Damaged stair treads and loose or missing handrails can cause deadly falls. Antiquated wiring and frayed electrical cords can cause fires. Dangerous chemicals that a landlord has stored in a basement or common area can pose a threat to all family members, but particularly to children.
Personal injury lawyers can help surviving family members when the negligence of a landlord or contractor causes a death. Recognizing safety hazards, however, might save your life. If you rent your home, inspect it carefully using a home safety checklist. If you discover unsafe conditions, report them to your landlord and insist that they be corrected. If your landlord refuses to act, report the problem to a city building inspector or find another place to live. Do not risk the lives of your family by ignoring unsafe conditions.
The Federal Highway Administration refers to intersections as “planned points of conflict.” Unfortunately, some are planned better than others.
Intersections account for about half of all serious traffic accidents and almost a quarter of all traffic accident fatalities. In many cases, poor design and the failure to install or maintain traffic control devices contributes to the death toll.
Some intersections are so deadly that it is best to avoid them entirely. Since there are no warning signs identifying dangerous intersections, you may need to rely on your personal experience and media reports to steer clear of the worst intersections.
City and county governments keep track of the intersections that produce the most accidents but they rarely publicize that information. In some cases, lawyers representing personal injury victims have used local governments that fail to address known safety issues at high risk intersections. You should always be careful when you approach an intersection, but you should be doubly cautious if you know the intersection is prone to deadly accidents.