Wheelchairs provide the freedom of mobility to disabled people nationwide, including those in Virginia. However, this form of transport can be as deadly as automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles. If you have to rely on your wheelchair to get where you need to be, many trips could be anxiety filled. Traveling in a parking lot can be as dangerous as riding on the side of the road or in a crosswalk.
While you -- as the operator of a wheelchair -- must comply with the same road safety rules that also govern drivers of all motor vehicle types, you might not receive the required consideration by other road users. Reportedly, hundreds of thousands of accidents involving wheelchairs occur every year.
Who is responsible?
Wheelchair accidents can be tragic, and to determine who was at fault is usually quite a challenge. The two most typical parties at fault in these unfortunate incidents are below:
- Other vehicle drivers: When a wheelchair accident involves another vehicle, authorities will investigate it in the same way as they do with any other automobile accident. They will determine whether there were any violations of traffic or state laws. Drunk driving, disregarding a red light or any reckless behavior by a motorist could indicate negligence and legal liability.
- Equipment manufacturers: As with any motorized or electric equipment, there will always be a possibility of a fault or a defect that can cause it to function in an unanticipated manner. If that then causes the wheelchair user harm, there may be grounds for a product liability claim.
If the wheelchair manufacturer fails in its duty to ensure safe operation of its products, the company might be held liable. If you suffer injuries in an accident involving an unsafe wheelchair, one of the following three aspects might form the base of a lawsuit:
- Design defects – This occurs when a product is unreasonably dangerous due to a fundamental design flaw.
- Manufacturing defects – This occurs when a product is manufactured in a manner that is completely unrelated to its intended design.
- Lack of proper warnings – This can result in the product being deemed unsafe due to the lack of adequate operating instructions and/or warnings.
If you have suffered injuries and losses due to a poorly manufactured or improperly designed wheelchair with inadequate warnings or instructions, you are entitled to seek restitution. However, determining negligence on the part of another vehicle operator or the wheelchair's manufacturer could be tough, and the support and guidance of an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney can help. As you focus on recovering from your injuries, a skilled lawyer can advocate for you while working toward a monetary judgment to cover both financial and emotional damages.