Independent Thinking: Setting Up a Product Safety Compliance Program

July 6, 2012

There’s always a lot of talk about “tort reform” in an election year and 2012Small Law: Independent Thinking is no exception.  Politicians rant and rave about the high cost of litigating products liability claims and there is no doubt that they have a point.  Litigation of any kind is expensive and time-consuming these days and can bring even the biggest companies to their knees.

While products liability matters generally fall into the domain of the litigation department, business lawyers can really provide help in this area by encouraging their clients to take preventive steps to identify and eliminate potential product safety issues before they erupt.

The first thing that needs to be done is to be sure that clients understand that “bad things can happen to good people” and that products liability law casts a broad net in terms of who might be found liable and the standard for liability.

Once you’ve gotten the client’s attention it’s time to help them put together a comprehensive product safety program that covers the entire lifespan of the product:

  • Design
  • Collection of the necessary raw materials and components,
  • Manufacturing,
  • Marketing and sales
  • Post-sale support and repairs.

One of the best ways to do that is to use the questionnaire and diagnosis form format pioneered by the classic West publication Legal Compliance Checkups: Business Clients (available through the Westlaw Store).

Or if you’re already a WESTLAW subscriber, just go to “LCOMPLC” and start with Chapter 31 (“Product Liability”).

Do you have a client who already seems to be riding on the edge with respect to product safety compliance? Need something to get started right away? Attached is an excerpt from a July 2012 – Westlaw Insider Products Liability Checklist, just one of the great tools that you’ll find in Legal Compliance Checkups.