Whether you’re a business hiring an attorney to protect your company from a lawsuit or filing for bankruptcy protection, or a consumer attempting to get relief from a product dispute or simply trying to decide how your assets will be divided when you pass on, hiring an attorney is can be one of the most important and complex decisions you’ll make in your lifetime.
We live in a litigious society, one in which people often seek legal means to redress perceived wrongs. In ancient Rome, there was a strict policy for legally dealing with disputes between citizens – they mostly didn’t. The rulers of Rome’s answer for eschewing civil litigation and tort was to command all merchants with stores to boldly display a sign above the front door of every Roman shop. The sign read “Caveat Emptor”, which translates: “Let the buyer beware.”
If a Roman citizen bought something, after reading this sign, and that product was deficient? Tough luck, Marcus Aurelius, you’re stuck with a lemon and there’s nothing more you can do about it – unless you kill the merchant who sold it to you, and then the Romans definitely had a way of dealing with that, just ask Jesus of Nazareth.
But today, we citizens of the American empire have a legal avenue for dealing with faulty products and/or services – the lawsuit. It’s not a cheap process, but is a most common use for our legal system. Black’s Law Dictionary defines lawsuit as: Any proceeding by a party or parties against another in a court of law.
One of the most widespread varieties of this very widely exercised legal procedure stems from injuries suffered by one party due to the actions of another. One not uncommon occurrence of that is an injury that results from design defects in many common household items.
One expert Detroit design defect lawyer puts it this way: “Product designers have a duty to design safe, effective products for consumers. When they fail in this duty, a defect can cause severe injuries and even death for consumers. A design defect accident can leave the victim and their family dealing with many short- and long-term consequences.”
These types of injuries from design defects can take many forms. One of the worst are burns that result from either improper shielding of hot surfaces, such as in a portable oven or devices that use heat-coils to soften adhesive material, such as a hot glue gun.
The designers who engineer these products often take more than necessary precaution in shielding the consumer from the heat source. But once the product moves from the prototype stage to actual production, cost-cutting executives often meddle with design parameters in order to keep the per-unit price point below predetermined criteria, regardless of safety. The designer is overruled; the product is safety compromised and injuries result.
The very nature of business, commerce between one individual or group with another, is a situation ripe for legal entanglements that must be defined and committed to contract. These can be business formations, writing contracts for business-to-business relationships, or business to consumer relationships, but there are going to be criteria to be met – and for them to be met, they must be first defined.
The normal initial step when anyone is forming a business entity is for the business creator, or creators, to write articles of incorporation describing what exactly this business is going to do. And, of course, there are the taxation, growth, and ownership issues that will result as the business grows. These all need to be anticipated and addressed in a procedural manner that is amenable to all parties involved.
That’s why it’s important for any new business to form a legal relationship with an attorney early in the formation process, so that the legal strategy can grow right along with the company.
Two things are inevitable: taxes and death. Eventually we are all destined to drop out of the rat race and then our assets must be distributed amongst our heirs. An estate-planning attorney will make sure that our hard earned worldly goods will go to the people who we want them to go to, rather than having the state decide who gets what in a probate court room.
The best way to do this is have your attorney create a living trust where all of your assets are identified and then you can allocate them exactly as you wish. It’s like you are “pre-probating” your estate. The living trust has replaced the proverbial “Last Will and Testament” as the legal mechanism of choice for distributing assets to our heirs.