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Product liability laws are welcomed by America’s buying public due to their effectiveness in protecting consumers from dangerous, low-quality products. Product liability is that area of the law which holds manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, sellers, and all others who see to the availability of products to the public liable for the harm these products cause consumers. Its primary intent is to protect consumers and to end the thousands of injuries that dangerous and defective products cause every year.
For example, some famous product liability suits that found success include defective cars that exploded if collided with, coffee that was served so hot it presented a scalding danger if spilled on a person, and pool drains whose suction force was literally strong enough to disembowel a human. Not all product liability lawsuits are clear cut, and they often require the assistance of a legal professional to help prove the lawsuit.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission is the branch of government which makes sure that consumers get exactly what they pay for, and not end up taking home a defective or dangerous product instead. Besides this, the bureau also works to stop fraudulent, deceptive and unjust business practices by: formulating and implementing fair marketplace rules; accepting consumer complaints and investigating reports of product defects; filing suits against people and/or companies that deceive consumers or violate consumer rights; and, educating consumers and business firms about their rights, duties and responsibilities.
In the past, claims due to product liability had to be supported by a “privity of contract,” a contractual relationship between the seller and the person who bought and was subsequently injured by the product. In majority of the states today, however, the fact that the product was sold and injured someone is enough to hold the seller (or anyone involved in the chain of distribution) liable while allowing for the injured party to seek compensation.
Product liability claims are actually based on three suppositions: negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. Negligence can be imputed on product manufacturers who either failed to do something that ought to have been done or did something that was totally not part of the production process. Regardless of what it actually is, negligence the results to harm boils down to one fact – the lack of care required in the design or production of the product to be made available to the buying public.
Failure to fulfill any claim or promise made about any product or service, on the other hand, such as a universal remote control that was guaranteed to control any electronic equipment you have in your home, but ends up controlling only your television set, is what comprises breach of warranty. And then there is strict liability which extends the manufacturer’s or seller’s liability, to the injury or harm cause by the product, to all those affected and actually injured by it, that is the purchaser and all other persons who were affected by it.
Though product liability law falls only under the jurisdiction of the state, there is another law that protects the buyers at both the state and federal level – the Consumer Rights Law. This law, with the consumer protection law, gives every consumer the means to expose and stop abusive business practices, which, by the way, is not limited to the manufacture and distribution of defective and harmful goods, but includes services performed rudely and through abuse. One example is collection of payment for credit card debts by collectors who would deliberately call you at very inconvenient times or where you would not want to be contacted, like at the workplace. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) can mandate collectors, who resort to these acts of harassment, to pay their victim $1,000 in statutory damage, plus legal fees resulting from the lawsuit filed by the victim against them.
Weak Vehicle-roof Support and the Increases Chances of More Severe Injuries during Rollover Accidents
Multiple-vehicle collisions are among the deadliest types of car accidents in the US. These include rear-end collisions, head-on collisions and side-impact crashes, also called side-swipes or T-bones. More dangerous than any of these, however, are rollover accidents, which have claimed more lives and greater damages in the past years.
Based on the figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,000 individuals are killed each year from rollover accidents alone, which number to more than 280,000. And the types of vehicles that are more prone to rollover accidents are pick-up trucks, vans and SUVs. This is because the center of gravity of these vehicles, compared to cars, is higher from the ground.
Collapsing vehicle roof is a major cause of severe injuries and fatalities during rollover accidents. A vehicle’s roof crashing down on the driver and the other passengers’ head and spine, is enough to cause severe head and spinal injuries.
One reason for roof collapse is failure of the roof pillars, the vertical structures which hold up the vehicle’s roof, as the vehicle rolls over. There are usually six (if counted individually) or three pairs of roof pillars: the A-pillars, which support the windshield, front side windows and the beginning of the roof. These can also channel the electrical wiring for the lights at the rear of the vehicle and for overhead lighting. The two other pairs are the B and C pillars; the former are the vertical supports between the front and rear doors, while the latter joins the vehicle’s rear side and rear windows.
Despite the great danger posed by weak roof support, many vehicles are built with reduced pillar strength to lessen vehicle weight and lower its cost. This move, though, also greatly increases the risk of serious injury for the driver and his/her passengers. Thus, to ensure the safety of every occupant even when the vehicle rolls over, the government has mandated a roof crush resistance standard which manufacturers should incorporate in every vehicle built.
Besides the roof crush resistance standard, the NHTSA has also required manufacturers to make the electronic stability control system (ESC) a basic feature of every car. The ESC is designed to give drivers greater control of their vehicles, especially when these skid, to lessen the possibility of a rollover.
Rollover and roof crash are usually direct results of poor vehicle design to which the manufacturer can be held totally liable. Filing a lawsuit against car companies, with your injuries as proof of their failure to make safe vehicles, may result either to a lost cause or a compensation that is far too short of the amount that you really deserve. With a good lawyer who is determined to fight for your rights and apply the full extent of the law for your benefit, then you might just get the amount of compensation that you are legally entitled to.
The many legal concerns that need to be addressed by business owners, especially small and developing ones, make running the business and overcoming business obstacles and competitions really challenging. The taxes, salaries, and company debts to pay – there should be a steady flow of cash or income to ensure that each of these financial issues are addressed on time.
During a weakened economy, however, the challenge for many small firms, just to keep their head above the water, is even increased. Thus, to keep operations going, some resort to applying for business loans – until all financial matters that need to be settled become a debt too big for the company to settle.
This is when some company owners just decide to call it quits, as they are no longer able to stay in the competition to assure the firm a spot in clients’ and customers’ preferences, and the absence of customers means absence of income. When the firm closes, though, will it be enough as settlement for the amount of debt actually owed, or will the debt require other properties, personal properties, that is, as payment?
Business lawyers can tell you that the type of business chosen will actually determine the safety or non-safety of your personal assets when your business is faced with an overwhelming debt. Two most popular business types applied for by owners are sole proprietorship and limited liability company.
While sole proprietorship may be easy to start and run, your financial liabilities, concerning debt payment, are unlimited, which means that creditors have the right to go after your personal assets for payment of your company’s debts. A limited liability company, however, may be more expensive to form and may require higher taxes, but the owner/owners are ensured of limited liability protection, a protection for their personal assets from being taken by creditors or by the court. In both cases, however, you and your partners lose your business.
On its website, the Law Office of Russel Van Beustring, P.C. in Katy speaks of another way – a legal solution, actually, that will not only allow you to settle your debts, but let you keep you company too, even maintain control over it. This is Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
Owners of small businesses will find Chapter 11 quite complicated, time-consuming, risky and expensive; but this is the only legal solution for them if they want to continue operation and reorganization. Under this chapter, you can:
- Reorganize your finances after the bankruptcy court gives you its approval
- Continue business operation, regain profitability and balance your company’s income and expenses by modifying payment terms and reducing your firm’s obligations
- Either sell all or some of your assets and, if necessary, downsize your business to be able to make initial debt settlements
Business lawyers have the entire arsenal you need to keep your business profitable and on the competitive side. Often, it is only a matter of which legal steps or solutions to take to make to the top.
It requires advanced knowledge and skills to be able to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), such as a bus, a tow truck and a big rig or an 18-wheeler, which can measure up to 70 feet in length and weighs about 40 tons or 80,000 lbs. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a branch of the US Department of Transportation, makes sure that every State’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program adheres to the standards and requirements stipulated in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. This is to guarantee highway safety by ensuring that drivers are qualified to handle commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), while simultaneously removing unqualified and unsafe drivers from the road.
The FMCSA-implemented 11-hour maximum driving time as part of every truck driver’s 14-hour duty plus 10 consecutive hours of off-duty period has shown in a study that driver fatigue is no longer the leading cause of truck accidents. Most truck accidents are, rather, caused by brake failure, which are usually due to overheated brakes, thin or worn out brake pads, brakes suffused with oil or grease, or worn tires.
Brakes are among the most important functions of automobiles, especially of 18-wheelers, due to the damage these can cause in the event of an accident. To ensure the safety and efficiency of these vehicles’ braking systems, the federal government has set standards that manufacturers ought to strictly comply with. Based on these standards, a braking system must enable a truck to adhere to the government’s required automatic brake adjustment system.
Failure by the manufacturer to meet such standards would mean violation of the mandates of the federal government. In some instances, however, the failure lies on the side of the truck driver and the trucking company. Due to the urgency of delivering cargo, hazardous chemicals at times, drivers and their employers fail on their duty of ensuring that the braking system is in perfect working condition.
Based on federal regulations, trucking companies ought to have a record that shows accomplishment of regular or scheduled truck maintenance. Drivers, on the other hand, are required to: do a complete check on the brake shoes to make sure that these function properly and that there is no broken or missing mechanical component; check for brake components that may be loose or not firmly attached; and, listen for possible air leaks in the brake chamber, which is an indication of possible failure in the brake system.
There are instances, though, when failure in the braking system is a clear careless act of the owner of the trucking firm, who choose to put the full pressure of slowing down or stopping the truck on the brakes of the trailer and by downshifting. They do these by deliberately depowering or unhooking the truck’s front brakes; a tactic, which they believe, will reduce wearing of brake and tire and the cost of replacing these.
Hundred of trucks are regularly visible on main roads and highways every day, so are thousands of other much smaller vehicles. Manufacturers should never slack in complying with federal standards on the way they produce brake parts; drivers and truck owners too should, in no way, compromise the safety of other motorists by failing to perform maintenance checks or by deliberately depowering the truck’s front brakes just to save on maintenance and replacement costs, for any malfunction in the truck’s braking system can cause a Delaware 18-wheeler accident, which, as factually stated in an article in the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, can result to “anything from a minor injury to, in the worst of cases, death.”
A criminal record, whether for a petty crime or a juvenile offense, can cause any person much difficulty when applying for a job, seeking for a house to rent or applying for a professional license. This is because the question of whether having been charged with a criminal offense is almost always asked by possible future employers, landlords, or other people concerned.
To be able to legally say “No” to such questions, many of those who have actually been charged with and convicted of crimes apply for the expungement, expunction, sealing (usually applies to records of juvenile offenders) or non-disclosure of their criminal record. These are court orders that allow for the removal of a person’s arrest or conviction record due to the negative effects it has, or may have, in his/her life.
Removal of record from computers, files and other depositories may not, however, include depositories used by the FBI, police, public officials, immigration officers and other government offices as such record may be used by authorities for certain valid purposes.
Each state has laws which let people apply for the expungement of arrest and conviction records; these laws and the specific definition for expungement, as well as specific requirements to qualify for it and what particular criminal offenses may be removed from one’s record, may differ from one state to another, though.
When applying for the expungement of a criminal record, it is necessary that the applicant knows and understands his/her state’s specific expungement procedures. It may be a common rule in all states not to expunge serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, sex crimes, driving while intoxicated and murder, as well other crimes more serious than these.
In many other states, sealing of arrest and conviction records for minor and juvenile crimes may be allowed only after sentence or term of probation has been served or completed; in some others, it is allowed only if the applicant can prove a real change in his/her life and that commission of another crime would be very unlikely.
In some occasions, wherein a minor offense (like vandalism) has been committed, but charges have been dropped eventually, the person charged may apply for a Certificate of Actual Innocence, probably the highest form of expungement. This certificate does not simply seal an arrest record; it states that such record should not have been made at all.
The process of expunging one’s arrest and criminal records involves a court hearing and requires a lot of paperwork, besides being a really complex procedure. Thus, the Law Offices of Kyle Sampson in Houston is accurate in saying that having an attorney, who fully understands your situation and who can help you prepare all the needed documents and a strong argument in defense of your rights and interests, is an indispensable necessity.
A research conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies, an independent and non-profit research organization, shows that between and first quarters of the years 2000 and 2013, about 5.3 million legal and illegal immigrants found work in the United States.
U.S. employers are allowed by the government to employ foreign workers either on a temporary or permanent basis. There are statistical caps, though, for both employment statuses, which limit the number of people to be hired (limits are set per skill and nationality). Prior to being allowed to employ a foreigner, employers must first be issued a certification by the Department of Labor (DOL) to show proof that no American citizen is available for, or willing to take, the job. This requirement is called for to ensure that the hiring of immigrants will have no unfavorable effects in the job opportunities (including salaries and working conditions) of American citizens.
Being hired as a permanent employee has far greater advantages than when hired for temporary employment only. The limited period of work or temporary employment offered to a foreigner also means a temporary visa; thus, upon the termination of the visa, it will also be time for the hired foreigner to pack his/her bag and leave the US, unless the visa is extended by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.
Permanent employment, however, means a green card (called Alien Registration Receipt Card or Alien Registration formerly) for the immigrant which, in turn, means lawful permanent residency – the immigration status of foreigners authorized by the United States to reside and work permanently in the country. And, as a permanent, legal worker, that means equal employment privileges and equal protection under the law, even and especially if the foreigner is a female.
These mandates on equality are clearly stipulated in two separate laws passed by the US Congress – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (also passed in 1964), a self-regulating body tasked to enforce the Civil Rights Act.
According to the 1998-99 U. S. Government Manual, the laws enforced by the EEOC strictly prohibits any form of discrimination in the workplace, whether based on age, disability, religion, color, race, national origin or sex where promotion, hiring, salary and benefits, firing, apprenticeship, training, testing or any other employment-related matter is concerned. Sex-based discrimination was added to the prohibitions enforced by EEOC after it was included, at the last minute, in the provisions of the Civil Rights Act. This last-minute addition illegalizes unfavorable treatment of an employee or an applicant due to that person’s gender, connection with a group of people of a certain sex or non-conformity with sex-stereotypes. Sexual discrimination also includes unfair treatment of the transgender, bisexual, gay and lesbian.
Any form or feeling of discrimination in the workplace can be reported to the EEOC, which also has the authority to investigate the case being complained about.