Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

December 2016 Archives

Unfortunately, the cost of legal help can often be prohibitive for most people. Consumers are often forced to forgo legal help because they cannot justify the immediate high cost, despite the potential for even higher costs over the long term. In order to capitalize on this insecurity of consumers, businesses have popped up offering consumers access to legal forms and legal services using low-cost subscription models. However, these services can often hurt consumers more than they help.

While many service industry jobs can easily be replaced by automation and outsourcing, legal services require a professional's touch. That is because each legal situation is different, and standardized documents and services frequently fail to account for individualized situations.

The past 365 days haven't been great for many reasons, a laundry list of lost artists and athletes and a nasty presidential election being just a few of them. But it wasn't a great year for food and drug companies, either. The past 12 months have been riddled with recalls, from E. coli-tainted burritos to non-dissolving antidepressants.

Here are the top five health scares of 2016:

A major household brand name in small appliances, Cuisinart, issued a voluntary recall this week that affects approximately 8 million of the company's food processor units. The recall applies to all units sold between 1996 and 2015 that have the four-rivet blade. Consumers have been warned to stop using the four-rivet blades immediately due to concerns that the product can cause injury.

The company issued the recall after it had received nearly 70 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the food processor's blade in their food. Shockingly, a little less than half of these reports included individuals discovering the broken pieces of blade in their mouths. These types of blades break down over time and can break apart, leaving small fragments of metal blade in food.

Counterfeit toys are a problem year-round, but during the holiday season the problem is especially pronounced. When people are trying to find those highly sought after toys, counterfeiters are hard at work trying to make cheap replicas that will fool a purchaser, and disappoint (and potentially harm) a recipient. Despite the best efforts of customs and other federal investigators, counterfeit toys do get through and get sold to unsuspecting consumers.

Some fake toys can look identical to the originals, but may contain differences that are imperceptible to the naked eye, such as using lead based paint. One of the biggest concerns when it comes to fake toys are the materials that get used. Toy safety is a highly regulated industry that requires manufacturers to comply with extensive safety regulations. Counterfeiters ignore these regulations which, in turn, put children's lives in peril.

Stories about scammers asking for payment in gift cards, a relatively new trend, seem to be increasing in frequency. Gift cards, believe it or not, are a relatively untraceable method for scammers to steal money from victims. Generally, if a person is asking you to provide them with payment via a gift card over the phone, you are being scammed (that is unless you're legitimately shopping by phone using a gift card).

Recently, the story of John Gutz made headlines after his daughter saved him from giving a scammer $10,000 in gift cards. Mr. Gutz was able to walk into a Sam's Club and purchase the pile of gift cards, and luckily, his daughter inquired into what he was doing before he started reading off the numbers to the scammer over the phone.

Despite the numerous warnings we hear every year from local fire departments, police, news stations, family, friends, neighbors, and even bloggers, unattended Christmas trees cause hundreds of home fires every single year. Generally, tree fires are the result of a combination of factors, including bad lights, bad wiring, improper placement, and letting the tree dry out. If you are careless with your tree and it catches fire, not only can you potentially ruin your own family's Christmas, you could be legally liable for ruining your neighbors or whole neighborhood's Christmas.

Below, you'll find four important safety tips to prevent a Christmas tree fire.

San Diego, Riverside, and Los Angeles District Attorneys prosecuted Allstate as a result of the insurer's 'Accident Forgiveness' advertising campaign. Under California law, auto insurers may not offer consumers accident forgiveness in their insurance policies. Allstate's national advertising campaign reached California consumers and failed to clearly disclose that accident forgiveness was not available to California consumers. Now, they've agreed to pay a $600,000 settlement.

If this sounds familiar, that's because Liberty Mutual learned a $300,000 more expensive lesson at the hands of the same DAs for the exact same thing just over a month ago. While the Liberty Mutual advertisements had a disclaimer, it was deemed to be too small to be an effective one. Both Liberty Mutual and Allstate settled out the claims against them and entered into a stipulated judgment, which, of course, did not admit any wrongdoing.

There is no bright line rule that says once a driver reaches a certain age that they must give up their license. While a few states have laws requiring older drivers to confirm they are physically able to continue driving, most do not. Instead, drivers must use their best discretion when deciding to stop driving and not renew their driver’s license.

For many seniors, making the decision to stop driving is not easy. Giving up driving might feel like giving up their independence. However, when the warning signs start to present themselves, older drivers that continue to drive not only endanger themselves, but also the public at large.

Below, you will find some of the common warning signs that should make older drivers consider giving it up.