Everyone loves to hate lawyers, especially personal injury lawyers. Personal injury lawyers are often characterized as greedy ambulance chasers, but in fact personal injury lawyers are consumer lawyers. Personal injury lawyers protect consumers from unreasonable behavior in the marketplace and everyday life. What is less obvious is that personal injury lawyers have made and continue to make American businesses competitive. Big business will of course mislead consumers to believe that personal injury lawyers make products more expensive and point fingers to lawyers when it comes to price increases. Other countries such as Mexico, China, and Honk Kong which export a lot of product to the United States spend much less on attorney fees and costs and seem to have an advantage. Businesses claim that personal injury lawyers cost consumers several thousand dollars a year and that the same is not the case for foreign businesses.
To some degree there is truth in statements that lawyers cost consumers several thousand dollars a year. What is misleading is how those costs come about. Are the costs because payment are made to victims suffering serious injury or death from a defective product ? Is it because lawyers have to review all types of contracts for big business ? Is it because big businesses are constantly suing other businesses ? Often the majority of legal expenses are in business related litigation and transactions not so much personal injury claims. Is it because of legal defense from the frequent screw ups brought about by greed such as the Savings and Loan Scandal or the current Wallstreet mess ?
The reality is that good laws protect consumers from corporate greed and it protects businesses from themselves. It is true that some laws are not so great and some laws simply protect the wealthy while other laws may only protect the less fortunate and some the lazy.
So how do personal injury attorneys make business more competitive in the workplace. This is done by forcing business to be responsible. When a business puts a product on the marketplace that causes injury there is a good chance a personal injury attorney will put his time and money into a lawsuit. At first blush it seems to be of little import, but if we look to China one of the biggest exporters to the United States we see that personal injury attorneys play a very important role in making American businesses more competitive.
In 2008 there was the Chinese milk scandal where many of the People’s Republic of China’s babies were fed tainted milk. The incident involved milk and infant formula, and other food materials and components, which had been altered with melamine. China’s exports food products was large enough that the incident affected countries on all continents. In November of 2008 China reported an estimated 300,000 victims. Among these six infants have died from kidney stones and other kidney damage and about 860 babies were still hospitalized. The chemical was added to milk in order to cause it to appear to have a higher protein content.
Back in 2004 in a separate incident, watered-down milk resulted in 13 infant deaths from malnutrition. As a result about a dozen countries stopped importing food products from China. Unlike the United States, China does not recognize personal injury law and therefore victims were for the most part out of luck. During negotiations offers were extended to resolve claims at about $ 300 per victim. What is most significant is the fact that a similar incident occurred in 2004 and then again in 2008. China also has a history of hiding the actual statistical data and the number of victims in both incidents may have been much greater.
Of course these are just a few of many incidents involving dangerous products. There were many more incidents. In June of 2007, there was the Chinese-made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze. It was found in Miami, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.
In 2007 about one in five products inspected by its own food safety organization failed to meet the minimum standards imposed. The number of problems included fake human blood protein found in hospitals; excessive additives and preservatives in children’s snacks; massive death numbers of cat and dogs in the United States from tainted pet food; poisonous lead paint toys in the US; defective fireworks in the US; fake birth control pills and fake HIV drugs in the European Union. About 50% of counterfeit goods found in the UE are from China;
Ironically, but not surprisingly, some Chinese consumers prefer food products from the United States, Europe, and Japan because they trust the products. Some Chinese think foreigners are fools to eat foods in China without regard to the poor food standards.
The Chinese government has taken some measure to curb the amount of low quality product and has closed hundreds of factories and seized tons of food products including sweets, pickles, crackers and seafood that was found to be tainted with formaldehyde, illegal dyes and industrial wax.
At least 11 people were killed by antibiotics that contained diethylene glycol, an industrial toxin. In 2005, two boys in Guangdong province died after receiving bogus vaccinations for rabies.
What would happen if the Chinese government permitted personal injury claims to go forward and permitted punitive damages where the personal injury award can be tripled ? Clearly if a business is in it for the long run they would not expose themselves to the risk of lawsuits. That is why made in the USA means something, it means our stuff is safe.
San Diego Personal Injury Attorney