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Archive for the "Product Liability" Category

What Clients Should Know When Preparing for a Deposition

A deposition is a question-and-answer session with the parties to the lawsuit and the other side’s attorney. Typically, a lawyer will ask the same or similar questions of a witness during the deposition as he or she will ask during the trial of the case. The purpose is to determine what type of witness the person would be if the matter were to proceed to trial. In doing this, lawyers are looking at the credibility of a witness if his or her story differs between the deposition and trial.

Deposition preparation and evaluation of the deponent is critically important in cases. In order to adequately obtain information that is being solicited from the witness, an attorney always must prepare for the deponent. In a deposition, lawyers meet with parties in a case, as well as experts and other witnesses, to ask questions before trial and take statements under oath. This formal questioning is part of the discovery phase, which lawyers use to gather facts to prepare their cases. While depositions are a routine part of litigation, understanding their purpose and how to prepare for them is crucial.

Additionally, lawyers use depositions to determine the strength of their case. Depositions are one of the few times that an attorney gets to evaluate witnesses and use that assessment to determine whether settlement of the case is an option, or if the matter should continue through other motions and trial proceedings. 

South Carolina Auto Liability Case May Set New Bar For Awarding Damages

Questions before the South Carolina Supreme Court could change whether negligence in causing a car accident now may be considered in awarding damages for injuries allegedly caused by a vehicle’s design flaw.

The answers to questions of state law certified in the federal products liability case Donze v. General Motors hinge on the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision on whether comparative negligence, which apportions damages based on fault, applies in crashworthiness cases.

For years, South Carolina plaintiffs have been able to successfully argue that the circumstances of what caused an accident are irrelevant when considering liability based on crashworthiness, which is the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident – often referred to as the second collision.

Under the crashworthiness theory in South Carolina, a manufacturer can be held responsible for a design flaw of the vehicle that enhances or aggravates the injuries above and beyond those from the initial collision.

Take the Extra Step in Product Warnings to Protect Your Company from Liability

For years, the assumption in South Carolina law has been that a manufacturer doesn’t have to warn about something that is obviously dangerous, such as a power saw. Do you really need to tell users to keep their hands away from spinning blades? The more challenging concept is: how do you effectively warn about a product that is beneficial when used properly, but that may have dangerous or unintended outcomes if used improperly?

A basic principle of product liability warnings is the concept of the “sophisticated user.” A professional carpenter who uses power tools in his job should be aware of the inherent dangers of a powerful, spinning cutting blade. In comparison, a skilled worker may – or may not -- be expected to appreciate the dangerous qualities of flammable or toxic substances that sometimes are integral components of the job site or the task at hand.  

What to Expect When You are the Target of a Lawsuit

It’s frightening for most business owners to receive notice of a personal injury or premises liability lawsuit, and one of the first questions lawyers are asked is whether to settle the suit and for how much. The good news is that a majority of suits settle, usually within the limits of insurance coverage, and those plaintiffs who insist on going to trial generally have weak cases.

Considerations for Whether, When and How Much to Pay to Settle Litigation

Most lawsuits never go to trial, but it is still difficult for a business that is the target of litigation to know whether and when to settle, and for how much. 

It may be especially challenging for a defendant to take the initiative to settle when it feels it occupies the moral or legal high ground. However, while it may not seem fair, every defendant starts losing money the day the complaint is filed. Unless a defendant has a viable counter claim or a contractual agreement that the loser pays the winner’s fees and costs, the best a defendant can hope for is to lose only the cost of defense. For this and other reasons, it is often the best business decision to settle, even when in the right. But how much should a defendant pay to settle and at what point in the litigation, and at what number is it better to try the case? 

A Full Plate:  South Carolina’s Revised Food Regulations

Restaurants have a lot on their plate, from food management to employee management to customer satisfaction. Add to that plate the host of federal, state and local laws and regulations that pertain to retail food and you have a mound of issues to digest.