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AccidentsPersonal InjuryProducts Liability

Omnibus Clauses in Auto Insurance

An omnibus clause in an automobile liability insurance policy extends coverage under the policy to those using an insured automobile with a named insured’s express or implied permission.

The clause is also known as an additional insureds clause.
State statutes generally require automobile liability insurance companies to provide omnibus clauses in their insurance policies.

Manufacturer Defenses in Automotive Products Liability Cases

The basic elements of proof that a plaintiff has to establish in a products liability action against the manufacturer or seller of a motor vehicle are that the vehicle as sold contained a defect that created an unreasonable risk of death, personal injury, or property damage when the vehicle was put to its intended use and that the defect caused an accident or similar incident, such as a vehicle fire, that resulted in the loss or damage for which the plaintiff seeks to recover damages.

Vehicle defects can include shortcomings in the design of a vehicle, mistakes in the manufacture of its component parts or in their assembly into a complete car or truck, and failure to warn the purchaser or operator of a risk inherent in the use and operation of the vehicle. Manufacturers have a number of defenses available to them in seeking to prevent a plaintiff from succeeding in an automotive products liability action.

Effect of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards on Automotive Products Liability Cases

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, commonly known as NHTSA, an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, enacted an initial set of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, or FMVSS, in the late 1960s. NHTSA has amended and updated the FMVSS, and has added new standards to the original group of FMVSS, since that time.

Every new motor vehicle sold in the United States is required to comply with all of the FMVSS that are applicable to that type of vehicle. (Due to differences in the configurations of passenger cars and trucks, certain of the FMVSS are limited in their application to one type of vehicle or the other.) In an automotive products liability case, a legal action in which a plaintiff seeks to recover damages from the manufacturer or seller of a motor vehicle for death, personal injury, or property damage caused by an alleged defect in the design or manufacture of the vehicle or by the failure to warn of a danger inherent in its use and operation, the FMVSS sometimes play a role in determining the outcome of the dispute between the parties.

Automobile Fire Insurance

While the popular impression of the flammability of motor vehicles may be exaggerated due to such things as the manner in which they are portrayed on television and in the movies, cars and trucks do contain flammable materials, and they obtain their motive power through the use of flammable fuel. As a result they occasionally catch fire, causing damage to themselves and to objects around them. Fire coverage under policies of motor vehicle insurance has been devised in order to reimburse vehicle owners for the loss and damage sustained in such incidents.

Auto Insurance Coverage for Leased and Rented Vehicles

A rental car or leasing company may not be required to provide automobile insurance coverage for its renters or lessees during the rental or lease period. Further, an insurer of a renter or lessor can exclude any liability coverage for their customers. The specific provisions of a vehicle rental or lease agreement should be carefully reviewed to decide whether minimum insurance coverage is provided for renters or lessees.

Tort Liability Of Tenants

Because a tenant is an occupier of property, the tenant is liable for all dangerous conditions or activities that are conducted on the property just as any other occupier of property would be. However, the tenant is only liable for areas over which the tenant has control. The tenant is not responsible for areas outside the leased premises or over which the landlord has control.

Scope of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act applies to any employer who employs workers for maritime work or in a maritime occupation, either full-time or part-time, on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining waterfront areas.

Rules Regarding Road Signs and Markings

A state transportation department has the duty to place and maintain appropriate signs, signals, and other traffic control devices on highways that are under its jurisdiction. The state transportation department also has the duty to place and maintain signs, signals, and other traffic control devices that are in accordance with the state’s vehicle or transportation code.

Federal Tort Claims Act – Notice of Claim

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), a person who plans to file a personal injury action against the federal government must present a written “notice of claim,” or “administrative claim,” to the government agency that is allegedly responsible for the injury. A notice of claim is a prerequisite to a personal injury action against the federal government. If no notice of claim has been given, a court will dismiss the action.

Action by a Parent for a Tort against His or Her Child

In accordance with general tort principles, a person who injures a child through his or her tortious conduct is liable to the child for the child’s damages. A parent who is entitled to the child’s services or who has a legal duty to provide medical treatment for the child is also entitled to damages from the person for the person’s tortious conduct towards the child.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Prescription Drug Approval Process

The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Act) regulates foods, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. The Act established the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has responsibility to assure that new drugs are safe and effective.

Sudden Car Acceleration and Product Liability

Sometimes automobiles unexpectedly accelerate out of control, causing serious accidents and deaths. In the past, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has attributed this problem to driver error – the driver hitting the gas instead of the brake by accident. However, recent studies have provided evidence that driver error may not be to blame. Instead, defective design may be to blame.

As a result of the evidence suggesting design defect as the cause of sudden acceleration, the NHTSA has decided to investigate the problem again to determine what causes sudden acceleration.

Punitive Damages Awards in Product Liability Suits

Punitive damages are damages in excess of damages awarded to compensate a tort victim for injuries sustained. Also called exemplary damages, punitive damages are awarded to punish a tortfeasor for wanton or malicious conduct. Punitive damages have often been assessed in product liability actions.

Litigation Involving Drug-Related Birth Defects

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began monitoring adverse drug reactions in 1961 after it was discovered that thalidomide (a drug used for nausea in pregnancy) caused severe birth defects. An adverse drug event (ADE) is an undesirable side effect experienced by a patient after taking a drug or using a medical device. Serious adverse events must be reported to the FDA, including birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirths.

Aviation Breach of Warranty Claims

When an aircraft does not function properly, the operator of the aircraft may have a products liability action against the manufacturer based on breach of warranty. A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer about the quality or performance of the product. A warranty can be express (oral or written) or implied (unspoken or unwritten).

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