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Liability And Your Rights



Ronald R. Gilbert
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What is Liability?

Liability means responsibility under the law. If a person or company is responsible, or partially responsible, for someone else's injury, they can be held liable by a court of law.

Under the American civil court system, people have the right to pursue litigation, and to be compensated for negligence, wrongdoing or bad faith. People also have the responsibility to pursue litigation when it can bring about changes that will benefit society.

Anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury or serious back injury should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine their legal rights. There is no charge or commitment for such a consultation. An accident that may appear to be no ones fault or your own fault could still result in economic recovery for you.

Even if you are told that the victim is at fault, other parties may be partly or totally responsible under the law. Another party's conduct could have contributed to your spinal cord accident, even if you or others think that you were responsible. This is because most accidents could have been prevented by an adequate, safe environment.

Because they are aware of ways to prevent accidents, equipment manufacturers, property managers and other share the responsibility for many injuries. This legal principle is called "superior knowledge." Another party's negligence may not be apparent to you at first, but legal action can provide many answers to questions of liability.

Liability in spinal cord injury accidents can be a very complex and subtle issue. Here are some examples of liability:

  • Diving accident

    A 33 year old man in Virginia has dove off the deck next to his above-ground pool dozens of times. One time, however, he hit the bottom and broke his neck, becoming paralyzed from the neck down. Even though the pool was only four feet deep, he had thought he could safely perform shallow dives. A jury found the pool maker negligent in failing to adequately warn the victim and others that they could be hurt diving into their pool. In fact, the pool maker had even depicted people diving into the above-ground pools in their advertising.

    Because of the lawsuit, and the damages awarded to the injured party, this pool manufacturer and others have started to adequately warn people about the dangers of diving into above-ground pools.

  • All terrain vehicle accident

    An eighteen your old man was driving through a Kentucky woods in his all-terrain vehicle (ATV). He was later discovered thrown 15 feet from the overturned vehicle. The accident left the young man with a severed spinal cord and made him a quadraplegic.

    He sued the manufacturer, because the vehicle was unsafe for operating on all types of ground, and did not provide proper safety warnings. He also argued that the vehicle was difficult to handle and hazardous to operate. The paralyzed man collected a large sum of money in damages and since then the manufacturer of the ATV has installed automatic warning signals on the dashboard and issued a notice on safe uses of the vehicle.

  • Skiing accident

    At a northern New England ski resort, a woman athlete was practicing for Olympic tryouts. She descended a hill, and headed down the eastern face of the mountain. Seconds later the woman went over a 25 foot vertical jump that was not properly marked. She later died from a spinal cord injury.
    Because there were no warning signs at the top of the ski run or immediately before the jump, the ski resort owners were found partially responsible. Now signs have been placed in visible areas to prevent similar accidents from happening.

  • Trampoline Injuries

    Plaintiff was 16 years old at the time.  Plaintiff was bouncing on a backyard trampoline.  Due to the defective design of the trampoline, Plaintiff lost his balance and went off the trampoline and came down on his head hitting the ground.  As a result, Plaintiff was a C-4 quadriplegic.  Although the product itself was destroyed, Plaintiff was able to trace the manufacturer of the product through the purchase at the retail outlet which sold the Defendant's trampolines exclusively.  A lawsuit was brought in Federal District Court in South Carolina.  A seven-figure settlement was made on behalf of Plaintiff by Attorney Ronald R. Gilbert.  A special needs trust was set up to provide Plaintiff adequate medical care for the rest of his life.

  • Horseback riding accidents

  • Retail security accidents

  • Single vehicle product accidents

Other Situations Where Liability Has Been Established:

  • safety equipment is poor or nonexistent
  • warnings of risk are inadequate
  • falls from ladders, platforms, stairs, and other objects
  • depth markings in swimming pools are absent or not readable
  • equipment is improperly placed or installed
  • motor vehicle is hazardous for designated normal use
  • assorted gunshot wound situations
  • various types of sports related activities
  • highway design cases

Liable Parties Can Include:

  • sports equipment producers
  • swimming pool and component manufacturers
  • property owners
  • makers of athletic accessories
  • hotels and apartment owners
  • municipalities
  • schools
  • supervisory personnel
  • car manufacturers -- role and crash and seat belt
  • firearm manufacturers and instructors
  • resort owners
  • private club employees
  • youth or infant caretakers
  • medical mismanagement
  • manufacturers of products which may result in falls

Spinal cord injury victims have also brought successful lawsuits against insurance companies, to collect benefits they rightfully deserved.

For additional information regarding your legal rights and options send an email inquiry to

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