Personal Injury Cases
That Bring Change
Results, Verdicts & Settlements
When Don Corson was a young attorney in the 1980s, one of the first major product liability cases he worked on involved a recreational vehicle that had a “fuel geysering” defect. After the driver pulled up to the gas pump, he got out of his car, walked back, and started to unscrew the fuel tank cap. Gasoline suddenly gushed out, covering him and the surrounding area, caught fire, and burned the man so severely that he died a day and a half later. After notifying the RV company, the manufacturer promptly sent out replacement gas caps. But the real problem was in the engineering of the fuel system, which took more litigation and analysis to figure out, but later led to safer recreational vehicles. The experience made a strong impression on the young attorney: lawsuits help make us all safer.
It took much longer for him to more fully appreciate that the almost invisible web of safety rules that protect our communities work only when rules are enforced. Safety rules and principles don’t do much good if they just gather dust. Cases are not just about compensation, but about making sure that substandard policies are changed, good policies and practices are followed, and defective products are made safe. The fact that Oregon’s legal system can enforce those rules at any time results in a society where most of the safety rules are followed most of the time. As a result, we and our families are safer.
These principles are expressly recognized in Oregon law, as described by the Oregon Supreme Court. “[N]egligence law itself like all law is a part of a state’s public policy.” Donaca v. Curry County, 303 Or. 30, 35, 734 P.2d 1339 (1987). “It is axiomatic that public policy favors the deterrence of negligent conduct.” Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor, Inc., 356 Or. 543, 572, 340 P.3d 27 (2014). “[T]he ‘prophylactic’ factor of preventing future harm has been quite important in the field of torts. The courts are concerned not only with compensation of the victim, but with admonition of the wrongdoer.” Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor, Inc., 356 Or. at 551.
What the courts call the “prophylactic factor” is simply the effect that the court system has in discouraging unsafe behavior that violates society’s safety rules. Every case has this helpful effect.
But some cases go further, to create positive safety change. Sometimes a company continues to do it “the way we always have done it,” even when times and standards have changed. Sometimes an industry writes standards to benefit itself, not the safety of the public. Sometimes a corporation’s cost-benefit analysis favors its benefits over the cost to others. Sometimes laws or regulations need to be changed to keep up, but the need for that is not recognized until the facts come to light in a lawsuit. In a lawsuit, people can be required to testify under oath, subpoenas can be issued to find hidden documents, and light can be shined on dark corners that need a good cleaning.
Examples of Cases That Bring Change Can Be Seen Below
See More Personal Injury Cases Below
Brain Injury Cases
Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Cases
Car Accident Injury Cases
Spinal Cord Injury Cases
Motorcycle Accident Cases
Truck Accident Injury Cases
Drunk & Impaired Driver Caused Injury Cases
Pedestrian Injury Cases
Bicycle Injury Cases
Workplace Injury Cases
Wrongful Death Cases
Unsafe Product Cases
Hospital Negligence Cases
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