Product Liability lawsuits often assist federal regulators in identifying dangerous products and making them safer for consumers to use or own. Federal Regulators are often caught off guard when emerging hazards develop. One of the goals of a product liability suit is to improve the safety of a product for the public at large. Most products can maintain their functionality while being made safer for very little additional cost.
When a new product is designed for sale it often enters the market place without regulatory guidelines and without any history or competent studies to judge its safety. It can often take years before there are a sufficient number of injuries or deaths to alert the attention of a federal agency to investigate a potentially dangerous product. It is often the case that personal injury lawyers have been at the forefront of informing the public and federal regulators about the hazards of many products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) did not start to investigate three-wheeled all terrain vehicles (ATV) until lawsuits were filed complaining of the multitudes of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries caused by faulty engineering and design principles that were ignored or overlooked by the ATV manufacturers. Even so, after being informed of the dangers of these products via lawsuits filed in various states, it still took three years for the CPSC to ban the sale of the three-wheel ATV, which was a product that had been proven to be clearly dangerous. Two years after the ban of the three-wheel ATV, a trade group published voluntary safety standards for a four-wheel ATV; however, cheaper versions of the ATV were being imported from China, without adhering even to the voluntary standards proposed in the United States, and often lacked the most basic safety features. Approximately 8 years later the CPSC finally enacted formal safety standards on the four-wheel ATV.
Today there are numerous models and brands of off road vehicles called Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV) that are currently unregulated. These vehicles have four wheels, a steering wheel and look like powerful golf carts. However, the high center of gravity on these newer UTV models, combined with the powerful engines and large tires often, often cause disastrous rollovers. Numerous people have been killed and thousands injured. Again it wasn’t until attorneys pressed their claims against the manufacturers that the CPSC started an investigation into the safety of these new products.