The value of litigation in preventing injuries from
unsafe products has been greatly refuted by corporate tort-reform interests. In the eyes
of the American Tort Reform Association, members of which include major
corporations and insurers, these lawsuits have led to unreasonable increases
in product liability insurance premiums paid by manufacturers. They claim
that this has caused many firms to cut back on product research and the
introduction of new products.
Yet injury litigation often shines a bright light on fraud, defective products,
and unscrupulous companies—something regulators and the NHTSA aren’t
always able to accomplish. It is through litigation that many dangerous
and defective products are exposed and removed from consumer shelves.
One highly publicized example is the General Motors
ignition switch malfunction. In early 2014, GM recalled more than two million Cobalts and other vehicles
with defective ignition switches. When jarred, the switches could inadvertently
shut down a car’s engine and electrical system disabling its airbags,
power steering, and power brakes. Despite being sued as early as 2009 for
crash deaths caused by the faulty switch, the company has only just now admitted to
knowing about the defect for over ten years.
Even so, the defect was not exposed by The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration or GM engineers, but rather by an engineer that was hired
by the victim’s family as part of an investigation surrounding a
lawsuit. The engineer uncovered the malfunction that forced the car company
to acknowledge it, and set in motion a worldwide recall of 2.6 million
Cobalts and other vehicles.
In a perfect world, safety regulators would be able to identify and deal
with every product defect in a timely manner. However, the reality is
that regulatory agencies responsible for that mission are routinely underfunded,
understaffed, and bogged down by bureaucratic red tape.
The bottom line is that product-injury litigation continues to make a definitive
contribution to identifying and curbing unsafe products. An analysis published
in 2003 by a group of public health experts at Johns Hopkins School of
Public Health, concluded that injury litigation has a definite role in
the charge against unsafe products. It urges safety advocates to “consider
litigation” as a viable option in their attempts to curb product
hazards and the resulting injuries.
When you purchase a product, you have several rights, the most basic of
which is to be safe while using the product. If you have been hurt by
a poorly designed or manufactured product, you need an experienced Fort
Lauderdale injury lawyer to help you get the justice and compensation
you deserve. Kelley/Uustal has been successfully fighting for the rights
of injured consumers for decades.