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Suing for Self-Inflicted Injuries in California

At first, filing a lawsuit for self-inflicted injuries might seem ridiculous. After all, if you choose to harm yourself, you cannot turn around and blame someone else…or can you? As it turns out, there are a few situations in which it may be possible to sue a negligent third party for self-inflicted injuries and even suicide. While this is a rare situation, there have been many lawsuits in California and around the nation that involve these kinds of incidents. When you examine these cases in closer detail, the concept of suing for self-inflicted injuries becomes more understandable.

Woman Sues California Jail After Blinding Herself While Behind Bars

 One of the most recent examples of lawsuits over self-inflicted injuries involves a woman who was incarcerated in San Diego County. While behind bars, this individual used drugs and managed to blind herself while under the supervision of a deputy. In her lawsuit, she argued that the county jail staff failed to prevent her from harming herself. She claims that they had a legal duty not only to protect her from other inmates, but also from herself.

The incident occurred in 2019, and the story begins when the plaintiff was picked up outside a motel while under the influence of drugs. While still under the influence, she was placed in a prison cell by herself. During her time in the cell, she began to claw at her own eyes. This behavior was noted by jail staff, and written records were made of the inmate’s odd actions. However, no preventative steps were taken to stop the individual from harming herself.

In fact, the plaintiff argued that a deputy even stood and watched while she clawed away at her own eyes, attempting to remove her own eyeballs. Ultimately, the inmate succeeded in her drug-fueled goal, and she clawed out her own eyeball. It is not clear whether the inmate removed both of her eyeballs, but she claims that she now has difficulty living independently.

This victim’s story is part of a larger pattern of deaths and injuries in San Diego County jails. In fact, a recent survey has found that these jails rank highest in the state in terms of their death rate. Another report found that the sheriff’s department routinely fails to assess inmates’ mental and physical health before providing them with necessary attention, care, and supervision. Deaths have continued despite the sheriff’s department  claiming that they have adopted better policies.

In the end, this woman was successful with her lawsuit, winning a settlement of $4.35 million from San Diego County. She is reportedly planning to use the money to live independently and pursue further accountability for the San Diego County jail system.

Amazon Accused of Selling Suicide Kits to Teens

 On October 9th, it was reported that Amazon had been sued in the California state court for allegedly selling teenagers so-called “suicide kits” online. Two teenagers apparently managed to buy these kits online before using them to commit suicide. This is another clear example of how a self-inflicted injury or death can result in third parties being sued. The key aspect of this lawsuit is the definition of a “suicide kit.” It seems that Amazon did not technically sell package deals that were marketed toward people who wanted to take their own lives. But they are accused of “recommending” multiple products that could be considered a “suicide kit” when shipped together.

The parents allege that Amazon’s “recommended” feature actively promoted multiple products that were all related to suicide in some way. The starting point seems to have been a chemical called sodium nitrite, which can be fatal when taken at high doses. According to the parents, teens who visit Amazon’s page for sodium nitrite products can scroll down and see several other recommended, related products. The platform’s algorithm apparently shows a scale that can be used to measure out a fatal dose and a handbook that contains instructions for assisted suicide.

The lawsuit also argues that the sodium nitrite sold by Amazon is between 98% and 99% pure. The families’ lawyers claim that there is no household use for sodium nitrite with such high purity levels, and the only viable way to use this extra-pure chemical is to attempt suicide. The lawyers claim that this is a key distinction because other items that Amazon sells that could be used to commit suicide (such as rope and knives) can also be used for other tasks. The New York Times recently reported that at least ten people have used sodium nitrite to commit suicide.

Meta and Snapchat Sued for Causing Suicides

 Amazon is not the only major tech company that has been sued for causing suicides. In January 2022, it was reported that Meta and Snapchat had been sued for contributing to an 11-year-old’s suicide. The mother claimed that her deceased daughter’s “addictive and problematic” use of Instagram and Snapchat played a central role in her suicide. According to the lawsuit, these tech companies are fully aware that their products are highly detrimental to users’ mental health – particularly younger women and girls.

This represents a somewhat complex product liability claim, as the plaintiff is arguing that platforms like Facebook and Instagram are “defective” because they are unsafe for use by younger individuals. The lawsuit also argues that the platforms have a legal responsibility to post adequate warnings for both minors and parents that the use of these products could result in serious mental, physical, and emotional damage.

Where Can I Find a Personal Injury Attorney in California?

 If you have been searching for an experienced personal injury attorney in California, Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. is here to help. We know that some injuries are complex, and it may not be immediately obvious who is to blame. Even self-inflicted injuries may be indirectly caused by negligent third parties in some situations. Whether you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit for suicide or you are suing for your own injuries, it makes sense to get in touch with us as soon as possible. With our assistance, you can immediately start working towards a fair level of compensation.

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