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Law Archives - The Cooper Firm - The Cooper Firm


What does Product Liability mean?


What does Product Liability Mean?

Product liability means you prove that a product is defective and that a defect has caused an injury or a death. It’s different than an ordinary case because you need experts, engineers, and especially reconstruction experts. You need all of these technical experts to be able to tell you:

“Yes, the product is defective.”


“Yes, this defect caused this accident and this injury or death.”

So, it’s a complicated area of the law which requires certain legal knowledge on behalf of the lawyers who handle those cases. It also requires an ability on behalf of those lawyers to hire the right experts to prove the case, ultimately to a jury if that’s required. In many cases, this expert presentation in a trial can cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the technology that’s needed in order to present those kinds of cases.

Have a potential product liability case? Contact us today.

Why Should I Hire The Cooper Firm?


Why Should I Hire The Cooper Firm?

Clients who have a case involving catastrophic injury or wrongful death should hire The Cooper Firm because we are committed to relentlessly pursue justice on behalf of every one of our clients.

That’s not just a slogan. It means something to all of us at The Cooper Firm.

Relentless means we will leave no stone unturned in making sure that we uncover all the evidence necessary to ensure that whoever has harmed our client is held accountable.

Pursue. We pursue it all the way through trial. We are trial lawyers and we let clients know upfront that if necessary we are prepared to go to trial and present their case to a jury in order to hold those that harmed them accountable.

And ultimately, we are about justice and making sure that justice is served in every case where our clients are harmed. Although we can’t guarantee justice for all cases, we can guarantee we will relentlessly pursue it on their behalf.

Contact us today.

How to choose the right attorney

Lance Cooper - Car Accident Attorney

How to choose the right attorney

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be considering hiring an attorney to help you pursue your potential claim. Dealing with injuries, treatment, and insurance companies can be very overwhelming, but hiring an attorney doesn’t have to be.

Whether you are looking for attorney on the internet or through a referral source, there are four simple things to help you narrow down your search: Experience, Expertise, Cost and Trust.

Experience is a crucial factor to hiring an attorney. The more cases they’ve handled, the better suited they are to help you with your case. It is always a good idea to inquire about their history of cases and the outcomes. Be sure to ask about specific cases they have handled that are similar to your case.

Expertise. You may have a friend who has practiced law for many years, but if they do not specialize in personal injury or product cases, then they are most likely not suited to handle your claim. Lawyers specialize in certain areas of law, so it is important to make sure the attorney you are hiring has experience in the specific area you need.

Cost can be one of the first concerns that cross people’s minds as they look for an attorney. Although many people think that an experienced attorney is going to be expensive, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will not charge you anything unless you are awarded in the case. The attorney will usually take a percentage of the award which is decided early on when you sign a fee agreement with them.

Trust. It is foundation to any working relationship. Having an attorney that you trust to handle your case is crucial. The attorney should show you respect, compassion and have clear communication with you from the start. If you feel uneasy after meeting or talking with the attorney initially, it could be a sign that it is not a good fit. A good attorney and team will be there to help you and answer your questions.

If you or someone you know has been injured and is looking for an attorney, feel free to contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Should you hire an attorney after being injured in a car accident?

Relentlessly Pursuing Justice - The Cooper Firm

Should you hire an attorney after being injured in a car accident?

If you have recently been injured in an accident, you are probably overwhelmed with medical bills, insurance companies, and a variety of other headaches. As a result of all the stress and confusion, you could end up being under-compensated with a large financial burden from the accident. One of the best things to do in this situation is to reach out to a personal injury attorney to see if they can help you pursue your claim. It is important that you find an attorney you trust and that has the experience and resources to handle your specific situation.

Although it can be tempting to settle a claim on your own so as not to incur any attorney fees, a good and honest attorney will tell you if it is worth it for them to help you or not. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they do not charge any fees unless you are awarded compensation for your damages.

Another benefit of hiring an attorney is that they can give you an accurate assessment of what your claim is worth. Many people do not know this when talking to the insurance company, and the insurance company is not looking out for your best interest. Having an attorney to talk and work with the insurance company not only saves you a headache, but also gets you what your claim is worth. Insurance companies are almost always trying to pay out the least amount of money possible.

Hiring an attorney will also help you keep track of deadlines and will make sure that all of the necessary filings are taken care of. Companies will often try to take advantage of the client’s lack of knowledge. Having someone to work on your case that has the knowledge to fight for you is extremely beneficial. If your case ends up going to trial, having an attorney who has taken cases to trial many times before gives you a better chance of favorable outcome.

Having someone you trust to look out for your interest can really change your entire experience after an accident. Being able to hand the case over to someone who has experience can give you peace of mind, so that you can focus on healing and getting better.

If you have any questions for an attorney or are interesting in learning more about how a personal injury attorney can help you with your claim, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

What to look for in a personal injury attorney

Lance Cooper - Car Accident Attorney

What to look for in a personal injury attorney

You may find yourself in a situation where you’ve experienced loss or have been injured due to a negligent person or a defective product. You know that you need to hire an attorney, but you’re not quite sure where to start. There are a few important things to consider when looking for the right personal injury lawyer.

  1. Do they specialize in my case’s practice area? There are thousands of lawyers out there that have dozens of practice areas on their websites. While these attorneys may say they handle the kind of practice area your case falls in, they may not have the expertise or experience for that area. Look for an attorney who has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in handling cases similar to yours.
  2. Do they have referrals and positive reviews from both clients and attorneys? While it is important that previous client’s think highly of the attorney, it is also valuable to have positive testimonials from other attorneys. You want someone to handle your case that has an outstanding reputation among their peers and the community. Don’t look just at attorney websites for these referrals, but look all over the internet for uncontrolled reviews on google and other rating websites.
  3. How much do they charge? Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they take a portion of whatever compensation you receive. Other attorneys work on an hourly fee rate. Make sure that you understand the attorney’s fee agreement and how much will be awarded if a settlement or verdict is reached. Another good thing to think about is if the attorney has the capital to fund your case. If the attorney works on a contingency fee basis, they will have to front the cost for all of the investigation and trial cost. Having an attorney who can handle this is important as it can affect the success of your case. Always find out if your initial consultation with the attorney is free or if they will charge you to even look at the case.
  4. Who will handle the case and how? In your initial consultation with the attorney, it is important to understand who will handle your case and who exactly you will be working with. Most of the time, you will not work directly with the attorney on a weekly basis, but with a specific paralegal or associate assigned to the case. Make sure you feel comfortable with who will be working on your case and how they will communicate with you. A good attorney should have a solid team supporting them.
  5. Do you trust the attorney and their personality? Whoever you hire as your attorney will be your advocate and will fight for you and for your case. That makes it crucial that you trust that person and you work well with them. You do not want to be second guessing your attorney and their decisions. Make sure you feel at ease when you meet them and that you trust them to make the good and hard decisions.

If you have a clear answer to all of these questions, then you have most likely found a good attorney to handle your case. Dealing with an injury or loss can be quite overwhelming. It is best to not walk the journey alone, but to find a good advocate for you and your family.

When someone driving your car gets in an accident

Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

When someone driving your car gets in an accident

Getting in a car accident is already stressful, but loaning someone your car and them getting in an accident can be a terrible headache. Although you may or may not have been in the vehicle during the time of the accident, you are still liable for their actions through vicarious liability. Depending on the state and policy, there are limitations to how much the owner will owe based on state.

The good news is that it most likely will not have to come out of your pocket. Usually anyone that drives your vehicle and lives in the same residence as you or is a family member will be included on your insurance policy. If you have given permissive use to someone who is not a family member or who doesn’t live with you, they will also most likely be covered by your insurance depending on your policy. Most people tend to think that insurance follows the individual, but it actually follows the vehicle. This means that if you loan your vehicle out to someone and they get in an accident, your insurance would be primary coverage and their insurance would be secondary or excess. Secondary or excess insurance only applies if the damages exceed your policy’s limits.

The only exception to this would be excluded drivers. You can actually exclude drivers from your auto insurance policy because of poor driving records. This could not only save you money on your car insurance, but would also mean your insurance would not pay for damages if they were to use your vehicle and get into an accident. This only applies if you did NOT give him or her permission to use your vehicle.  You should know that it can often be difficult to prove you did not get them permission.   Note that you can be sued if you let an intoxicated driver operate your vehicle or you allow an unlicensed driver to drive your vehicle.

If the accident is not the fault of the driver who you loaned your vehicle to, then you would actually make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover the damages. This is however, if they have insurance. If they don’t, you should see if your policy covers uninsured motorist.

The best thing to do, is to know what your insurance policy covers and then make decisions based on your coverage. Be sure to ask your insurance agent if you have any questions about your policy or what is or is not covered. It is also important to know how damages will be covered or if you have collision coverage to help you pay for repairs. Once you have the knowledge, it is up to you to decide who drives your vehicle. Make sure that you trust that person to drive your vehicle and that you know the risk.

If your vehicle has been involved in an accident after loaning it to someone, contact an attorney today to get more information on how to protect your rights.

Questions to ask your attorney before you hire them

Lance Cooper - Car Accident Attorney

Questions to ask your attorney before you hire them

Finding the best attorney for you case can often be difficult. You should feel confident in your attorney’s abilities. You should also be able to trust them to make the best decisions for your case.  Some of the things you may want to ask the attorney when you talk over the phone or meet include:

  • How much experience do you have with legal issues similar to mine?
  • How recently have you handled a case like mine?
  • How was it resolved?
  • What was the result? (Did you win the case?)
  • When was the last time you went to trial on a case?
  • Have you ever been fired by a client?

Look for an attorney who concentrates his or her practice in the area of law that you need. Ask your state bar association if the attorney has ever been the subject of an ethical complaint or injury. Keep in mind that most legal cases are not “sure things.” Be wary of any attorney who “guarantees” results. However, an attorney will be able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case better than you can. The most important thing is that you are comfortable and have confidence in the attorney.

Tips for meeting with an attorney:

Be prepared. Make notes before the meeting so you can easily go over the important points with the attorney.

Bring all the documents concerning your case to the meeting (accident report, medical bill or records, photos, etc.).

Bring a pad to take notes.

What happens if you miss a recall?

Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

What happens if you miss a recall?

With only 70 percent of recalled vehicles ever being fixed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are thousands of vehicles on the road with open recalls and defects today. Some of this is due to owners ignoring recalls. Another large part is that owners never get recall letters or notifications. People move or they buy used vehicles with open recalls and never know it. Automakers need to make serious improvements on their notification systems, but until then, owners are responsible for checking for recalls and taking their vehicle in for necessary changes.

As an owner, try to be proactive about recalls as you are with other car maintenance. When you go to get your oil changed, check online for any open recalls on your vehicle. NHTSA has a fairly reliable tool on its website where you can check for relevant recalls by typing in your VIN number. There is no time limit on getting a recall fixed, and most dealers should honor the recall and fix your car free of charge. The only exception is if your vehicle is older than ten years at the time of the recall, the dealer may not fix the vehicle for free. Regardless, you should still make the necessary changes or contact the automaker directly and let them know of your predicament.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident as a result of a defect and missed a recall, it could be a different story. Most states have a statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit. It is always best to contact an attorney soon after your accident in order to protect your rights. If you were properly notified of a recall and chose to ignore it, the automaker may argue you should not be compensated based on your own negligence. However, if it can be proven you did not receive a recall notice, the automaker could be held liable for failing to notify you or not initiating the recall in a timely matter.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a product defect associated with an automobile recall, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Arbitration Clauses: The Slow Silent Death of Equal Justice Under Law

Marietta product defect attorney

Arbitration Clauses: The Slow Silent Death of Equal Justice Under Law

Over the lintel of the U.S. Supreme Court are these words: Equal Just Under Law. That’s the cherished hope and the dream of a fair and impartial judicial system, namely, that blind lady holding the scales of justice. Yet, those hopes and dreams are more frequently stillborn because of arbitration clauses buried in contracts for a myriad of services and products. The average consumer, blindly signing the form contract and never reading the fine print, does not know that by doing so, he or she has just signed away their constitutional right to a jury trial on significant issues.  They also do not know that courts—banned from the administration of justice by the contract forced on the consumer by the seller—are powerless to do anything about it later.

Arbitration clauses are simple, like arsenic. And just as deadly. They started obscurely, in 1925, in the Federal Arbitration Act, a law designed to apply only to businesses. Unfortunately, crafty corporate lawyers and greedy companies have found ways to expand the use of arbitration clauses. They now can be found in employment contracts, nursing home contracts, OB-GYN office contracts, many consumer purchase contracts, and private school contracts. The list is endless, and no contract seems immune.

The clause usually says that the parties to the contract agree to resolved any and all disputes arising out of the contract by arbitration. And it is usually deep in the fine print. Moreover, even if you saw the clause and had some inkling of what it really meant, your only real option is to not sign the contract. But what if you desperately need the job?  What if the nursing home that has about killed grandmother says they will not continue treatment unless you sign the arbitration clause it just faxed over to you?

And therein lies the rub.  Arbitration and its cousin, mediation, can be helpful tools if both parties have equal bargaining power and if both honestly and truly and voluntarily want to be at the arbitration table. But coerced arbitration, and that is what exists mostly in the U.S. now, is antithetical to those ideals. They are coerced. They are not bargained. They are often hidden. And they are surely not voluntary.

Why did arbitration clause grow in use? They grew because corporations want to stop consumers from suing them. They wanted to get beyond the reach of the jury, which is the great leveler between you and corporate America.

How were the clauses sold to us in the first place? Basically, we were lied to. Arbitration touts many alleged benefits. It is supposed to be cheaper. It is supposed to be faster and less cumbersome than court cases. It is secret, thus allowing parties to settle their disputes privately.  The arbitrator is a neutral party. You can do it without an attorney. Of course, most were not sold to us at all, but merely inserted in your contract when you were not looking. And, all turned out, in the main, to be generally untrue.

Did the benefits really pan out? Absolutely not. Large corporations still use attorneys in arbitration. They are masters at delay. So, arbitration cases can drag on for years. The secrecy did not help, as corporations used it to divide and conquer individual claimants, and to hide how the cases were decided. They hid precedent, basically. The lack of discovery and subpoena power hurts those with less money and legal skills. The arbitrators are often beholden to the companies for work, they are not neutral, and they are not bound by any rules of evidence or law.  And as to cost, that too was a pipe dream.  Arbitrations can cost many times over the amount you are disputing.   No one spends $5,000 over a $500 claim. The end result: the corporation keeps your $500 and you are out of court.

What about this neutrality thing? Arbitrators are supposed to be neutral. They are often not. They work time and again for the same corporations or the same mediator firms or the same law firms, usually the ones who represent corporate America. If they rule too often in favor of the consumer, they will not be hired again.

So, how then does the arbitrator decide the case? Any way they want. They do not even have to provide a reason. They can simply rule in one party’s favor and name an amount. They do not have to apply the law, although they are supposed to do so. They can decide the case any way they see fit.  They can also hold you responsible for letting yourself be ripped off. They can apply the law, some law, part of the law, or none of the law. They can go by “gut feel.” They can use their defaults, which may be giving you 20 percent or less of your claim if you have clearly proven your case.

Arbitrators may apply the “sophisticated user” defense to blame you for your own loss. One awful defense thrown up by companies is that you are a sophisticated user. You should have caught us robbing you. You are smart and sophisticated enough to have caught us early, before we robbed you blind. Thus, it is your fault. Amazing. But used often.

Arbitrators often split the baby. Remember Solomon and the baby? In reality, he did not split the baby. He only threatened to do so, to expose the real mom. When arbitrators split the baby, usually giving the consumer a much smaller award and thus keep the company happy, he or she has done substantial injustice. Five percent justice is not justice at all.

Arbitrators become used to the bad conduct they see. Juries, by and large, tend to be outraged at thieving fraudulent conduct, especially when it is done over and over again. They punish such behavior. Arbitrators, on the other hand, have seen the conduct over and over again, from the corporations they are hired by, and just are not outraged at it. Conduct that would certainly draw a punitive damages award from a jury are decided as if this was the company first time ripping you off, not its 500th time.

What if the result is contrary to law and wrong? As Justice Elena Kagan has said in a recent dissent, “Too darn bad.” You cannot appeal except in the rarest of circumstances. Thus, most attempts to appeal are dismissed, often by judges who hate what the law commands them to do, but who are bound by that law.

Can it get any worse? Oh yes, some consumers who went to arbitration found themselves stuck with large attorney fee awards. Yes, the arbitrator can order you to pay the $52,000 in attorney’s fees that the corporation ran up in defending your $500 claim.

For specific examples of just how bad, see

Arbitration Everywhere: Stacking the Deck of Justice, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/business/dealbook/arbitration-everywhere-stacking-the-deck-of-justice.html?_r=0 and

“In Arbitration, A Privatization of the Justice System,” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/business/dealbook/in-arbitration-a-privatization-of-the-justice-system.html.

And, yes, it is getting much worse. More recently, corporations have expanded their use of arbitration clauses to ban class actions. In other words, consumers with small injuries or small losses can no longer band together and seek redress from the company.   In other other words, companies can steal $10 or $20 from you, and you can do nothing about it.  And if they steal from enough consumers, they end up stealing billions. Courts find themselves dismissing more and more class actions because of the no class action bans.    And for the same reasons that they can do nothing about arbitration clauses.

So, what can I do? Go to the one place you are not powerless—go to your state and federal legislators.  Speak out about the growing erosion of the Constitution, and the right to trial by jury especially. Ask them pass laws that prevent you from waving a claim or cause of action before that claim or cause of action accrues in the first place. Ask them to protect the right to a jury trial.  And to limit the reach and expansion of arbitration clauses that were designed in 1925 to apply only to businesses. You have rights. Exercise them. Become part of various groups that are opposing the use and expansion of arbitration clauses and class action bans.

Volvo says it will accept full liability for driverless car accidents in its cars

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Volvo says it will accept full liability for driverless car accidents in its cars

Volvo recently announced that it will be accepting full liability for accidents that involve driverless vehicles. It is one of the first automakers to make that announcement.

For quite some time,the driverless vehicles debate has argued who will be responsible if a self-driving vehicle gets in an accident? Although many are eager to get them out on the road, others are hesitant of if driverless vehicles will really be as safe as some claim. Mercedes and Google have also made similar claims regarding accepting liability for accidents in the vehicles. Volvo said it would accept full liability as long as the accident was a due to a flaw in the vehicle’s design. It will not take responsibility, however, if the accident is due to the user or a third party.

Volvo’s representatives have said that the announcement was made in hopes that the US would speed up its regulation process where certain rules are holding back the industry. President of Volvo Cars, Hakan Samuellson, fears that the US risks losing its leading position as being the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of the vehicles. Currently, each state has very different and inconsistent rules, which makes it difficult for companies to roll out new technology. California and Nevada are the only states that currently allow autonomous vehicles on public roads. The largest question is mostly around who would be liable if the vehicle crashed.

Will Volvo’s announcement actually help speed up legislation? If enough manufacturers rise up and take the same claim as Volvo, then maybe. There is still a concern for how many accidents these vehicles will cause. Even if a company was to accept full liability, if its vehicles are causing thousands of accidents and causing severe injuries or death, then it really doesn’t matter who accepts liability. Too many lives are being lost.

We will most likely not see a great deal of driverless vehicles on all our roads until more of these grey issues related to safety are resolved. Unfortunately, it seems as though federal regulators are not eager to speed up the process.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective vehicle or product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

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