What does Product Liability mean?

What does Product Liability mean?

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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.”

and

“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?

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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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

428,000 VW Diesel Vehicles Violated Emissions Standards

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Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

428,000 VW Diesel Vehicles Violated Emissions Standards

Volkswagen AG violated federal law by allowing 482,000 diesel VW and Audi cars sold since 2009 to evade emissions requirements by using sophisticated software to alter the results.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California made the announcement regarding one of VW biggest sellers in the United States. Volkswagen concealed the issue since the vehicles were originally manufactured in 2009. VW finally admitted its misconduct this year. Now, the automaker could face fines or criminal prosecution. The vehicles affected include four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars manufactured from 2009-2015. The vehicles were manufactured with software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Due the defeat device built in these vehicles, they will pass during emissions testing, but during normal operations, they can emit nitrogen oxides (NOx) up to 40 times the standard amount.

The EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) have already started investigations due to the alleged actions of Volkswagen. California is also issuing a separate In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen.   The problem was initially discovered in 2014 by independent researchers at West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-governmental organization, after they raised questions regarding emissions levels. After several probes, Volkswagen admitted to EPA and CARB that the vehicles contained a defect device. EPA is now requiring Volkswagen to recall all of the vehicles and notify owners. Exposure to NOx pollution has been linked to health issues including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory issues. Owners of these affected vehicles should note that the violations do not present a safety hazard to them and the vehicles still remain legal to drive and resell.

Volkswagen’s president has apologized and has promised to stop selling the recalled vehicles in the United States. Europe, one of Volkswagen’s largest markets, will now be taking a closer look at its vehicles. This could mean more trouble for Volkswagen, considering Europe is one its largest markets.  It isalready looking like VW will receive an $18 million fine in the United States.

Uber Driver Sued for Sexually Assaulting Teen

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Judge - Marietta Attorney

Uber Driver Sued for Sexually Assaulting Teen

Uber is once again going back to court and not holding up to its claims of trustworthiness. A mother of a 13-year-old girl is suing Uber and one of its drivers after the driver sexually assaulted her daughter.

Isagani A. Marin, a driver for Uber, drove the 13-year-old girl from her house to her middle school around 10-20 times from October to November of last year. During that time, Marin made several inappropriate sexual comments to the girl, offered to buy her panties, and asked her to not get another boyfriend. The girl also reported that Marin rubbed her inner thigh. Marin was arrested three months later, and charged with a misdemeanor assault. Marin pled guilty.

Marin was lucky enough to receive only a six month jail sentence, a suspended driver’s license for a month, and he was banned from having any contact with the girl. But that is not the end of the fight. Marin will be going to civil court with Uber for the mother’s suit against Uber for not properly screening and training Marin. The suit alleges that Marin had several traffic violations, which included reckless driving, that Uber overlooked when they hired him. The victim’s daughter is seeking $2.4 million in damages.

This is not the first issue with sexual assault or failure to properly screen that Uber has had. In the past few years, a woman was raped in Chicago by an Uber driver and an Uber driver in Boston was arrested for kidnapping and raping a woman. The company has also been banned in Dehli, India after a girl was allegedly raped by an Uber driver. Although the company has announced steps to reduce these incidents, not much has changed.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a ride-share company or driver, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

How You Could Be Signing Away Your Right to Trial by Jury Without Knowing

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Jurors - Marietta Attorney

How You Could Be Signing Away Your Right to Trial by Jury Without Knowing

The right to trial by jury is vital to our country’s legal system. Our founding fathers revered the right to jury trial.  It was cited in the Declaration of Independence and in three separate places in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, without knowing, consumers sign away that right on a daily basis.

It happens when consumers are buying a cell phone, borrowing money, signing a job contract, signing up for a credit card and much more. How is this happening? It is called a mandatory arbitration agreement. It is hidden in the tiny fine print in most of the consumer contracts that people never bother to read. This little legal agreement is one that could come back to haunt you in a big way.

What you are signing is basically an agreement waiving your right to a trial by jury and instead authorizing that if you have any conflict with the company, it must be settled through an arbitrator. Most of the time, this arbitrator is one selected by the company who you have the issue with.

What the company is basically doing, is trying to protect itself in case someone tried to take the company to court. It also is to protect the company from group of people trying to pursue a class action lawsuit against it which could cost the company big. These arbitration clauses in turn cost American consumers millions of dollars every year.

As a consumer your options are limited considering almost all companies use arbitration agreements. You can either do business with them or don’t. There is an option on some contracts which allows you to opt-out of the mandatory arbitration, but it usually gives the consumer additional work with a tight deadline. Another option is to reach out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and sign an online petition from consumer groups working against mandatory arbitration.  Other groups that have online petitions include Save our Juries, Take Justice Back, Change.org and Public Citizen.

Because of jury verdicts or the threat of one, we have safer products and newer safety features, safer pools and premises, better safety warnings, cleaner and healthier food supplies.  Don’t sacrifice your rights to save these companies money when they have done wrong.

Source: USA Today, Save Our Juries

 


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