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California Business, Insurance And Environmental Law Blog

More businesses voluntarily beginning to track greenhouse gas emissions

Last time, we looked briefly at a legislative proposal that would entail a new scheme for the regulation of carbon emissions in California. As we noted, the state of California is particularly strict when it comes to environmental regulations, and environmental compliance is an important aspect of doing business.

When it comes to compliance with carbon emissions, there is a sort of baseline that businesses are required to meet, at both the federal and the state level. Compliance with these requirements is important, but there is also the potential for companies to take environmental compliance further. 

Lawmakers propose new scheme to regulate carbon emissions in California

Carbon emissions regulation is an important issue for businesses, not only because of the fact that businesses are regulated at both the state and federal level in this area, but because there are costs associated with noncompliance.

California currently has a program in place which involves a cap-and-trade approach to carbon emissions regulations. The rules put a maximum limit on carbon emissions, and that limit decreases over time. Companies which exceed the carbon emissions limit are required to pay penalties. California companies are also able to buy and sell permits on a market, which is supposed to incentivize emissions reductions. 

What is a manufacturer’s duty to warn consumers? P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at some of the basic principles of manufacturers’ duty to warn consumers of risks associated with their products. As we noted, warnings must be provided for risks which are known or which reasonably could have been discovered by the manufacturer.

Another important issue with respect to the duty to warn is who is supposed to receive the warning. This issue can come up with prescription medications and medical devices. Manufacturers of these products certainly have a duty to warn, but to whom do they owe that duty? The answer can vary from state to state, as a recent out-of-state case shows. 

What is a manufacturer’s duty to warn consumers?

Last time, we mentioned that one potential basis for product liability litigation in California is failure to warn consumers of the dangers of a product. There are a handful of elements that must be proven to make such a claim. First of all, a failure to warning claim can be aimed at either manufacturers or suppliers of the product.

The core of a failure to warn claim is that the product had potential risks or side effects which were known or could have been discovered given generally accepted medical and scientific knowledge at the time of manufacture or sale. Those risks must have presented a substantial danger if the product were to have been used as intended or misused in a reasonably foreseeable way, and ordinary consumers would not have been able to recognize these risks. In addition to these elements, a manufacturer or distributors failure to provide adequate warning must have been a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm. 

After a breach of contract, you have options

Imagine that you have been running a small medical practice for many years. During this time, you have used the same vendor for you office's medical supplies. Recently, your orders have contained mistakes. At first, the mistakes were minor, but they have slowly gotten worse during the last few months. The last order arrived more than a week late and only contained half of the supplies you needed. The new representative that you have been dealing with has not taken any steps to correct the problems.

When a vendor does not follow through on your order, you might be able to take legal action for breach of contract. If you have entered into a contract for goods or services and the other party has failed to deliver, a business law attorney in the San Diego area can help you recover your losses. Read further for what you should know about breach of contract laws.

Work with experienced attorney to manage product defect liabilities

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at the issue of product liability as it relates to Tesla’s Autopilot feature. The technology has been blamed for a number of accidents, and has become the subject of litigation because of potential safety risks to consumers.

For any company, designing, manufacturing, and marketing consumer products is something that must be done very carefully to ensure not only the production and sale of quality products and customer safety and satisfaction, but also to minimize legal liabilities and increase the company’s profit. With respect to the legal aspects of product quality, there are several categories of defects that must be managed. 

Automatic driving technology and the issue of product defects

Last time, we mentioned the increasing prevalence of automatic driving technology in new vehicle models, and the various levels of automation these technologies fall into. As we noted, determining liability in the event of an accident involving automatic driving technology is an issue that is going to become increasingly important.

The issue of product defects is bound to be an important one in resolving these cases, particularly when the driving technology is at a high level of automation. In fact, the issue of defectiveness is likely to be more prevalent at lower levels of automation, since distinguishing between driver error and product defects is bound to be more challenging. One of the companies that is demonstrating this is Tesla. 

Automatic driving technology and the issue of product defects

As readers know, automatic driving features are increasingly making their way into newly manufactured automobiles. There is a wide variety of such technologies, and not all of them have the same functions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided a classification system of the various technologies.

The system identifies five levels of automation, with zero being no automation, meaning the driver is in complete control of the vehicle and there is no system that interferes with driving. Level one automation features are classified as driver assistance, as these features only modify the speed and steering of a vehicle when necessary. Level two is partial automation, meaning that the driver is left in partial control of the vehicle if corrections are needed, but is not in control of speed and steering.  Tesla’s Autopilot falls into this category.

Nonprofit group highlights auto insurers’ unfair rate-setting practices, P.2

Previously, we began looking at a recent analysis by the nonprofit ProPublica which found significant disparities in premiums charged to drivers in minority zip codes as compared to those living in predominantly white neighborhoods. As we noted, the insurance industry disputes that auto insurance premiums are based on race or ethnicity, but the data isn’t clearly in their favor.

The Insurance Information Institute and the California Department of Insurance, to take two examples, have been critical of the ProPublica analysis, both as to its conclusions and its methodology. One of the criticisms is that an insurance company’s losses in any given zip code can vary significantly from the industry average, so it isn’t the case that an insurance company is necessarily being unfair in charging higher than average premiums in those zip codes. 

Nonprofit group highlights auto insurers’ unfair rate-setting practices, P.1

Insurance is a valuable commodity, and one that is a practical necessity for most people. As consumers of insurance products, we expect that we will be treated fairly, that we will be charged a fair price based on accurate risk figures, and that insurance companies will not be allowed to defraud consumers by taking advantage of their lack of knowledge about rate setting.

Unfortunately, consumer advocates have long suspected that there is a significant lack of justice in how insurance companies set rates, particularly among auto insurers. According to a recent report by ProPublica, insurance companies routinely charge those who live in minority neighborhoods more for car insurance than those who live in wealthier neighborhoods. This is the case despite the fact that most states have laws prohibiting discriminatory rate-setting.

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