Engineering and law interface

Whether engaged in R&D, manufacturing, engineering services, or technical consulting, today's engineer must be cognizant that the law imposes substantial accountability on both individual engineers and technology-related companies. The engineer can never expect to be insulated entirely from legal liability when designing a product. However, one can limit liability by maintaining a fundamental understanding of the legal concepts one is likely to encounter in the course of one's career, such as professional negligence, employment agreements, intellectual property rights, contractual obligations, and liability insurance.

Producer of a product has shown reasonable consideration for the safety, correct quantity, proper labeling, and odier social aspects of the product to the consuming public. Since the 1960s these types of important concerns have expanded and been reinforced by a recognition of the consumer's right to know, as well as by concerns for conservation, ecology, antilittering, and the like.

Designer's failure to be aware of and comply with existing laws and regulations can lead to legal entanglements, fines, restrictions, and even jail sentences. In addition, there are also the penalties of cosdy, damaging publicity, and the loss of consumer goodwill. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, so problems can develop, which is simply a fact of life.

Numerous safety-related and socially responsible laws have been enacted and many more are on the way. A lawsuit begins when a person (corporations, etc.) whose body or property is injured or damaged alleges that the injury was caused by the acts of another and files a complaint. The person asserting the complaint is the plaintiff; the person against whom the complaint is brought is the defendant.

Plaintiff complaint must state a cause of action (a legal theory or principle) that would, if proven to the satisfaction of the jury, permit the plaintiff to recover damages. If the cause of action asserted is negligence, then the plaintiff must prove, first, that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty (had a responsibility toward the plaintiff, the public). Then the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached that duty and consequendy, that the breach of duty by the defendant was the cause of the plaintiffs injury.

A breach of this duty of care that results in injury to persons or property may result in a tort claim, which is a civil wrong (as opposed to a criminal wrong) for which the legal system compensates the successful plaintiff by awarding money damages. To make out a cause of action in negligence, it is not necessary for the plaintiff to establish that the defendant either intended harm or acted recklessly in bringing about the harm. Rather, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's actions fell below the standard of care established by law. The standard of care or conduct that must be exercised is that the average reasonable person of ordinary prudence would follow under the same or similar circumstances. The standard of care is an external and objective one and has nothing to do with individual subjective judgment, though higher duties may be imposed by specific statutory provisions or by reason of special knowledge.

There are many examples of acdon to eliminate or reduce problems. As an example there is the Quality System Regulation (QSR). FDA requires details on how products such as medical devices are manufactured. The details of the process are documented so that once a product produced in USA is approved, following what was in the QSR preparation can only produce the product. No change can be made. The exact plastic composition has to be used, process control settings remain the same, etc. Literally if a waste paper basket had been identified and located in a specific location in the plant, you can not relocate, change its size, etc. It has been reported that to make a change could cost literally a million dollars. Result of the QSR regulation is too ensure the safety of a person when the medical device is used.

It has been unofficially reported that in USA there exists more liability court cases and over 85% of the lawyers worldwide are in USA. This location condition of number of cases and lawyers exists because in USA both parties (defendant and plaintiff) are innocent and if the plaintiff loses, the defendant only pays what he/she developed. Practically in the rest of the world, the law says that one side is right and the other side is wrong. But more important is the fact that if the plaintiff loses he/she pays all bills (those of the defendant, the court, and plaintiff).

0 0

Post a comment