Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact Lombardi Law Firm. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you should contact us for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free.

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  • Do I have a case if I got served a raw burger at a fast food restaurant? If so, how do I file a suit?

    This is one of those questions where my answer will not be well received because to the untrained eye this is terrible service and the buyer didn't get what they bought; but there is one thing missing, damages. What are your damages? Some people eat raw food, don't get sick and don't die. If eating the raw meat you were poisoned (food poisoning by Salmonella) then I would say you have a case for a lawsuit. But no damage equals no case and a waste of the court's time. Sorry, no case but I'm glad you didn't get food poisoning.

    Oh and one more thng, how after the first bite did you not know you were eating raw meat? Perhaps you yourself were negligent or at fault for 99% of the fault and if more than 50% you can collect nothing.

  • School treats and peanut allergies. Must the parents who provide school treats pay medical expenses for student's allergic reaction?

    Not necessarily. Your question is not easily answered. First, does the school have a rule prohibiting treats with peanuts, etc? If so did they provide a copy of the rule to you at the begging of the school year? Did you know any student was allergic to peanuts? Second, do you have homeowner's insurance? If so file the claim with your insurance company and allow them to decide what to pay. Third, does the school provide insurance for such incidents? Ask the main office about insurance coverage. The main goal is to get the medical covered and to make sure the child is back to school and healthy.

    Nice of you to want to pay but legally I'm not so sure legally there is any obligation to do so.

  • What do the lawyers mean when they talk about negligence? They also use the word "fault" and I'm not sure what that has to do with how much I'm going to recover.

    Negligence is a legal concept having to do with evaluating what someone did or didn't do that ultimately leads to someone else getting hurt. It can also be used when property is damaged. Fault is a legal idea that was introduced by the legislature when it passed Iowa Code Chapter 668, the comparative fault statute. Fault is defined as

  • Am I at fault if I crash into someone else while driving in dense fog? After all it isn't my fault, it was the fog!

    If we ignore all other facts and entertain only the fog issue, then my opinion is that you are likely to be at fault. There is nothing unusual about the fog. Fog is fog. It's a weather condition that all drivers must contend with and everyone knows that fog is the sort of weather condition that reoccurs and is known to the driver. Fog isn't usually a surprise that suddenly and unexpectedly occurs. If you are driving along in the middle of a bright sunny day, without any weather conditions and some freak of nature fog bank suddenly and without warning moves in overtaking your vehicle, then maybe you have a sudden emergency but otherwise no. A heart attack is a sudden emergency. Fog is not.

    To see what can happen when a driver continues driving in fog that interferes with their ability to maintain a proper look consider these two accidents and ask yourself; Were they preventable?

    Scott Nelson, 42, died when he drove his pickup into a semi-trailer truck that came to rest across Highway 20 after a collision with a stopped vehicle in dense fog about a mile west of Epworth, the Iowa State Patrol said.

    Ron Fowler, 56, of Boone, was attempting to turn left from the northbound lanes of Highway 6 onto Skyline Road near Dubuque Regional Airport at about 1:30 p.m. when a southbound vehicle driven by Gene Horn, 57, of LeClaire, struck the rear of his semi-trailer truck, according to the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office.

  • Can an 8 year old be found to be negligent?

    May it please the Court?

    An eight year old boy was skiing; ran into another skier and the collision caused the old geezer injury. So the old geezer in turn sued for damages. One might be lead to ask if this is legal, fair or morally right. And my answer is, "Absolutely, positively, unequivocally - it is!" Why not? Children today want all of the privileges but none of the responsibilities. Irresponsible parents love this argument. It gives them the free pass on being a responsible parent. They can't have it both ways. If society is going to give children the rights and protections the same as adults, then why shouldn't they be held accountable for their actions? It makes sense to send children a clear message because many parents don't get it. Some parents want to be a child's best friend. There is a huge difference between being a parent and being a best friend. And a free pass is not a clear message that reinforces the idea that with rights come responsibilities. Most parents have insurance that covers a child's actions. Their home owner's insurance policy will cover such acts. Of course the parents should also be defendants since it is the parents who have a legal duty to control their children.

    "David Pfahler, 60 of Allentown, Pa., claims Scott Swimm, then 7, was skiing recklessly and too fast, causing a collision that left Pfahler's shoulder tendon to tear, UPI (which asserts that Pfahler is from Colorado) and the Associated Press report."

    Young Mr. Swimm's father denies the claim. That doesn't surprise me. What parent wouldn't feel this way? But objectively looking at the situation why should the injured person who probably has a mortgage to pay, be penalized because the injurer was a child? The child is reported to have weighed 48 pounds. Take any 50 pound bag of sand from Lowes and attempt to play catch with it. Even from two feet it's got sufficient force to do damage. Now consider a 48 pound bowling ball with skies on. How much damage do you think it could cause? The point being, a child on skies isn't just a little darling all cute and smiling. That child becomes a weapon if not properly controlled.

    "The suit claims Pfahler suffered a torn shoulder tendon and seeks compensation for physical therapy, vacation time, nursing and medical services provided by Pfahler's wife, and other expenses. It estimates the couple's losses at more than $75,000."

    The mother is reported to have asked, "Who in the world sues a child?" Answer: Well for one, people they injure. What about the child who loads up a weapon and heads for the mall. Or the ones who go to school with dad's assault rifle. Or the few who car jack you and put a bullet in your head to cover their tracks? Perhaps mom and dad should be asking themselves about parenting classes or staying home and supervising their children. Or better yet, coach them in league play and teach the child responsibility. Then of course there is always the bunny hill until the kid learns control.

    I've coached soccer and for too long we've been handing out participation trophies. Only losers want a participation trophy. Winners want one they actually earn. My advice to Jim Chalat, the injured party's attorney, is to challenge the Colorado law that doesn't allow minors to be sued. Your argument should be clear. Direct the Colorado Supreme Court's attention to juvenile crime and suggest they need look no further than Columbine. We all need to reexamine how we weigh rights and responsibilities. Without a clear understanding of responsibilities our rights become an empty promise.

    I'd gladly sit second chair with attorney Chalet. And, I rest my case.

  • How can you prove fault or negligence against a railroad? The train was stopped for a long long time and I ran into it. Are they at fault for blocking the roadway?

    So why should the railroad be liable? Having played Monopoly you probably have a warm fuzzy place in your mind for Reading Railroad. You have to get over that sentimentality with the jury.

    A train with many cars is stopped in a city or town. The train has many cars and those cars once stopped block several of the streets in the city or town. The rail cars are black and this particular night it's very dark. A car comes along and not realizing that a flat bed car blocks the way drives into it, killing the driver and passengers. No one saw the flat bed car. So why should the railroad be liable? Having played Monopoly you probably have a warm fuzzy place in your mind for Reading Railroad. You have to get the jury over that sentimentality.

    The Reading Railroad may be liable because of a city or county ordinance that prohibits trains from blocking the city streets for more than twenty minutes. Most cities have such an ordinance. And why?, you ask. It has to do with police, fire and rescue operations. The city police, fire and rescue workers count on those roads being open when police and rescue operations are most needed. When planned and designed the assumption is that a railroad may block the route but for no more than twenty minutes or less.

    It's time for you to do some lawyer work. What municipality governed the location where the crash occurred? Those regulations are in place to protect fire lanes and law enforcement functions.

    Here are some things to think about: Was the driver of the vehicle drunk or had he been drinking alcohol? Had the engineer? Were there any reflectors on the rail car? Get the records to show how long the rail cars had been stationary/stopped. Look at it from a fire standpoint; what if a house fire had started on the other side of the tracks, how would the city or county have fought it if the road was blocked? Where was the rail engineer? Why had the train stopped where it did? Was it due to a break down or loading or unloading or some other reason? How long was the train? How many cars? How many roads had they blocked and for how long? You must appreciate the magnitude of the issue. Allow the jury to enforce the policy of the municipality.

    What about emergency vehicles like ambulances and EMT's? What if it were a person on the other side of the tracks having a heart attack? Before I picked that jury I'd know their addresses and the addresses of their relatives. And if I could put anyone of them on the opposite side of the tracks, just out of reach it would bring home the seriousness of the laws that the Reading Railroad had broken. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury think about those people on the opposite side of the tracks. What if one of them had a heart attack and needed the ambulance crew to save their life? What then? The rail road has to be a good citizen just as we have to."

    And that's what it's about being a lawyer. You have to understand the bigger picture. And that takes experience.

    Good luck with your case and remember, "Onward we march...."

  • If while driving under the speed limit, I rear-end someone in a rain storm will they consider me at fault for the accident? I've seen two PI lawyers who say the driver was at fault. What should I do?

    The PI lawyer is probably saying "No go," because of the weather conditions and the fact that your daughter's car ran into the other car. Experience tells me she will be found partially at fault, and without knowing NC tort law I can't say what that would mean.

    A tendency for everyone is to focus on the weather; and perhaps draw the conclusion the first car was disabled due to the weather. But that's the one unknown that needs to be the focus of the investigation. What was wrong with the first car causing it to have trouble and stop running? How old was it? How had it been maintained? Did the emergency flashers work? If not, why not? If so why weren't they on? Did that driver have flares available? If so why weren't they lit? If at trial the lawyer can change the focus of attention to the car's owner for failure to maintain it with proper maintenance and then to take proper emergency precautions, then your daughter's case has a better chance of being successful.

    And the first collision, that driver can hardly cry foul over your daughter doing exactly what he/she did in crashing into the rear of the other vehicle. That driver will in all likelihood support your daughter's claim.

    Let's get back to the speed of your daughter's car. She needs to be ready to defend her speed. Rain is rain and we've all driven in a rain storm without reducing our speed to much more than the speed limit. What she did up to the point of the actual emergency is important to be ready to discuss and must be dissected. Nothing unusual up until the vehicle in front veers left. She needs to be ready to testify, although it was raining up to that point there was nothing unusual or hazardous requiring a further reduction of her car's speed.

    In a rear-ender, speed alone is never analyzed alone. Speed is always coupled with distance between the two cars. How many car lengths were there between the front of her car and the rear of the vehicle in front?

    What other distractions did she have to contend with that were under her control? Radio? Smoking a cigarette? iPod? Cell phone? If she had a cell phone in the car you might get the next bill and see if that phone was being used at the exact time of the accident. That is an important fact that has to be analyzed.

    Litigation costs are another consideration. Not everyone can afford to drive a Porsche; so many people drive a Volkswagen, a Jetta or a Focus. Like your choice of car and what can happen in an accident, litigation costs drive the "ride" and with the inability to hire accident reconstructionists and spend a lot of money on expert evaluation the risks of loss increase. That's okay you just need to know the limits of what any lawyer will be able to do. Don't expect the lawyer to spend thousands of dollars in case analysis on a case that will never be worth more than $10,000.00. The economic feasibility isn't there.