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New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Product Liability and Civil Justice System

Or . . . What Would Cars be Like without Trial Lawyers?

I'm proud of what I do. Without trial lawyers, you wouldn't be as safe from defective products, as protected from the consequences of carelessness, as secure in your personal and civil rights, as you are. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not. It's why every effort by corporate, banking and insurance interests to take those rights away starts with attacks on lawyers.

You want us on that wall. You need us on that wall.

Along those lines, this is the first in a series of blogs, the theme of which I'll revisit from time to time, wherein I talk about how important the efforts of trial lawyers are, and what a difference we make in the lives of our clients. And remember; there but for the grace of [our efforts to protect you, one case at a time] go thee.

What Would Cars Be Like Without Trial Lawyers?

You're aware of the recent GM debacle with regard to the exploding gas tanks, right? Did you know that GM could've fixed the gas tanks for $8.40 per car, but instead callously calculated that paying for 500 fatal accidents per year would cost only $2.40 per car?

How sick is that? How do you feel about voting for people who constantly bash trial lawyers in the civil justice and jury system? When you're rooting for them, or even considering for voting for them on other issues, think about GM deciding that it was $6.00 cheaper per car to let 500 people die.

If we didn't have trial lawyers and jury trials, if we used a system of arbitration of claims and did away with juries or did away with trial lawyers, do you ever think that truth would have come out?

As a result of the litigation against GM and Ford, gas tanks are now universally located within rigid engine frames.

Ford's engineers identified a problem with its "paddle-style" door handles, which allow doors to accidently open in collisions. Rather than fix the problem, Ford covered it up until trial lawyers held them accountable in court.

Tire manufacturers, from Firestone to Good Year, tried to cover up problems with defective tires and had been held repeatedly accountable for these cover ups in the courts. Firestone's defective tires caused 271 deaths, and the resulting litigation brought tires and their manufacturers under increased scrutiny.

GM admitted in court documents that seats costing just $1.00 more could reduce injury levels by up to 90%. Safety Engineers have called the prevalence of weakened seats "the most egregious, wide spread defect to be found." How do you feel about that? Do you think that would have come out without trial lawyers and jury trials?

Children were especially vulnerable to power-window deaths and other injuries through accidental operation of "rocker style" window switches. The inexpensive solution, a "lift-up" style switch, was ignored by manufacturers in order to cut costs. Litigation eventually forced universal acceptance of safer switches.

As early as 2001, GM knew that an ignition switch used in cars - which was defectively designed - could allow the ignition to slip from the "run" position to the "accessory" position while the car was in motion, causing the engine to lose power and leaving the driver to unable to adequately steer or brake. It was a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who died in her Chevy Cobalt that exposed the problem and forced GM to recall more than 2.6 million cars.

The next time you're jumping on the band wagon and bashing trial lawyers and the civil justice system, know what you're talking about. Don't vote for candidates who bash trial lawyers and jury trials, because, chances are, those candidates are taking big checks from big oil, big insurance, big medicine and big manufacturing, the same people who make cynical calculations about what lives and injuries costs.

So what would cars be like without trial lawyers? Would you or a member of your family want to have found out the hard way? Imagine an America without juries and trial lawyers representing victims and working people to balance out the power and the money of big industry, big insurance and vested interests. Want to live there? I don't.

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Costello & Mains, LLC

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Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

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