Welcome to the world of personal injury law, an area of in-depth knowledge for attorneys Frank J. Phillips and Jeffrey T. Millman that covers:
- Automobile accidents
- Slip/Trip-and-Fall injuries
- Animal bites
- Incidents at work and in health care facilities
- Lead paint poisoning
- Product liability
Strict Liability, according to the American Bar Association, "holds designers and manufacturers strictly liable for injuries from defective products. In these cases, the injured person does not have to establish the negligence of the manufacturer. Rather, you need to show that the product was designed or manufactured in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended."
As for automobile accidents, the American Bar Association says this is the area in which most personal injury actions arise.
According to nolo.com, “Negligence is careless conduct that ends up causing harm to another person.” In a car accident, a driver can be negligent “by doing something that he or she should not have done (for example, running a red light or speeding), or by failing to do something that he or she should have done (for example, failing to yield, not stopping for a pedestrian, or forgetting to turn on headlights while driving at night).”
Explained another way, nolo.com continues, “A driver must use reasonable care to avoid injuring other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians.” When a driver is not “reasonably careful, and someone is harmed as a result, the driver (and the driver's car insurance carrier) can be financially liable for that person's injuries and other losses (damages).”
So what’s involved with you, and by default your personal injury attorney, proving that the other driver was negligent? Well, according to nolo.com, there’s plenty, including proving:
- That the law required the defendant to be reasonably careful.
- The defendant was not careful. i.e. liable
- The defendant's conduct caused your injuries. i.e. causation
- The plaintiff suffered measurable losses. i.e. damages for injuries
Personal injury lawsuits can get a bad rap sometimes because inaccurate information is given to the public. Take, for example, the woman who sued McDonald’s because her coffee was too hot.
You remember her, don’t you? 79-year-old Stella Liebeck? Here’s the short story:
According to the Consumer Attorneys of California organization, Stella in 1992 bought a cup of takeout coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque. She spilled it on her lap and suffered third-degree burns. Stella sued McDonald’s and a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages prior to an appeal.
Here’s the longer story.
In a stationary car, Stella had the cup positioned between her knees. She removed the lid to add cream and sugar, the cup tipped over and the coffee spilled on her lap.
Stella required skin grafts. And McDonald’s, according to caoc.org, had already received more than 700 reports of injuries from coffee, including third-degree burns. McDonald’s made a business decision to brew the coffee hot and save money on coffee beans. In some cases, McDonald's paid settlements.
Stella offered to settle for $20,000. McDonald’s offered $800. The case went to trial. Stella was found partially at fault. The jury awarded her nearly $3 million in damages. According to the Associated Press, the judge cut that amount to $480,000. But according to caoc.org, Stella and McDonald’s later reached a confidential settlement, “to avoid what likely would have been years of appeals.”
The big takeaway here is that this isn't a personal injury lawsuit strictly about hot coffee and a fast-food chain. As the Consumer Attorneys of California website reported, a news story about the lawsuit quoted a juror saying the case was about the “callous disregard for the safety of the people.”
And this is where Phillips & Millman come in.
Sure, Frank and Jeff focus on all the details of a client's case, with the singular goal of securing damages. But they also take a step back and look at the big picture. How has our client been injured? What is the degree of that injury? What is the lasting effect of that injury? Will it affect the client's ability to earn a living? What compensation should the client be paid? What have Frank and Jeff learned in past cases that can be used in this case?
Consumers have rights, and when companies, manufacturers, property owners, and the like refuse to acknowledge those rights, or accept responsibility when they have failed to uphold those rights, someone needs to be held accountable and pay restitution for their failures.
According to the Brookings Institution, the United States is the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest consumer market. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. consumers, businesses, and government entities in 2019 spent $1.77 trillion on food and beverages, alone.
That's a lot of dough spent on a lot of things, which leaves a lot of room for screw-ups. Those screw-ups can result in a lot of personal injury, far beyond horrific third-degree burns from a cup of coffee that's simply too darn hot.