The Law of Tort in a Factual Situation

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Introduction This task will evaluate the impact of the law of tort on ABS chemical plant in a given situation. Scenario You work on the Legal Team for ABS Chemical Plant, it is your role to advise the Company Directors and Management on any legal issues that arise within the company. Advice has been requested following an accident on a family day visit to ABS Chemical Plant. Before visiting, the family were assured by the ABS Manager that they “operated a safe environment and had safety advisors on site, at all times.” During the family visit, the chemicals used to treat waste water had caused a steam boiler to overheat, causing it to burst. The sheer blast caused serious physical injuries to the children and the mother who witnessed this suffered psychological trauma. The safety advisors were not present on the site and there was a delay in first aid and treatment being given to both mother and the children. The family car parked nearby had also been destroyed due to a blast. During the chaos, an employee who operated heavy machinery was distracted and caused a slight injury to a fellow employee. Apply the rules of negligence, vicarious and occupier’s liability to this case study, giving examples of relevant case and statute law. Develop the application of all these rules to provide a full conclusion and evaluation of the above incidences. Tort law impacts consumers and businesses like ABS chemical plant in various ways. Businesses are able to respect consumers to a great extent. On the other hand, the consumers enjoy diversity in the market. Tort law impacts businesses and consumers both positively and negatively. Tort law is basically the branch of law that deals with civil cases in which one party sues another party. For consumers, the threat of litigation is beneficial. For example, a restaurant that has meat spoiling in its refrigerator. The restaurant knows that serving bad meat can result in a £100 fine by the city (if the restaurant is caught). The restaurant might figure that the potential fine is worth it, since the total value of the meat is £1000. But enter the consumer. If the consumer (customer) gets sick after eating meat the restaurant knew was bad, the consumer might sue for £2000 (£1500 in medical costs and £500 in lost wages). The restaurant knows that customers who get food poisoning might sue, and this is a huge motivator in keeping businesses on the up-and-up. Of course, businesses hate tort law for this same reason. Negligence An advantage of negligence for the business is that all parties in the ABS chemical plant can be held liable for the company’s tort. This means that if ABS chemical plant is held liable they may be able to share or transfer the burden of damages by suing other members of the chain. However, if a party of ABS chemical plant were held liable they must prove the negligent party among the members of the chain. This may only happen if the company is a partnership etc. A disadvantage of negligence is that the plaintiff must show that ABS chemical plant did not meet its duty of care to the consumer in keeping them safe, and that the company’s actions were the proximate cause of the failure. This means that it may be a lengthy process and it would cost a lot of money in for legal professionals to take the case forward which the family may not be able to afford. Another disadvantage is that if ABS are held liable it would affect the reputation of their business and it would result in fewer people getting work carried out by them due to bad working practices and health and safety, this could result in the workforce of the business being reduced. A recommendation for businesses like ABS chemical plant on negligence is to get public liability insurance as it would cover ABS chemical plant from civil lawsuits. It is also called umbrella coverage. Thus, umbrella public liability insurance would provide coverage beyond ABS chemical plants primary policy. In essence, personal liability insurance provides protection against unexpected losses and catastrophic situations. Also, public liability insurance may provide coverage for the insured's spouse, children and other relatives living in the home. Amounts in liability coverage typically range from £0.6 million to £6 million, depending on a variety of factors. The calculation usually depends on an individual's state of residence and the risk of liability exposure. Typically, £0.6 million coverage has a premium amount ranging from £130 to £195 yearly. Catastrophic losses, frivolous lawsuits and high lawsuit settlements can occur as a result of liability claims against the insured. The limits on many primary businesses are not enough for unanticipated accidents and negligence costs. Therefore, public liability insurance enables the insured to be free from unforeseen costs. Without this additional umbrella policy, an individual may be compelled to utilise personal funds to pay any costs beyond the limits of his primary liability insurance. Moreover, public liability insurance can cover liability claims against the insured, including slander, libel, invasion of privacy and defamation. It can also pay for medical expenses and legal fees. Nuisance An advantage of nuisance is the fact that action is not restricted to the particular types of nuisance, which form 'statutory nuisance'. A disadvantage of nuisance for ABS is that if they failed to deal with a nuisance problem they could face legal action and a fine. The local authority could restrict or stop ABS’s activities. If ABS have a permit or exemption and they breach noise, odour or other conditions the Environment Agency or their local authority can take enforcement action against ABS. Another disadvantage of this for ABS is that if they cause a nuisance that causes harm to people or damages property they may be causing a private nuisance and could be sued by individuals or organisations. They may have to attend a court hearing and pay compensation or damages. A recommendation for a business like ABS would be that if ABS identified any nuisance they should take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise it. To avoid causing a nuisance, they should: check noise, odours and other emissions at the boundary, and in the locality, of their site - this should be done during different operating conditions and at different times of the day ABS could also try to maintain good relations with their neighbours. They could give neighbours early warning of any particular activities that they plan to carry out, such as installing a new plant. ABS could also assess whether odours are likely to be emitted from their site and the most likely sources, and appropriate control measures could be put in place. This could be made as part of their routine site inspections. ABS could also control or stop the odour at its source. They should be able to demonstrate that they follow good practice in their operations and that they have used the most effective means to prevent an odour nuisance. This could mean that the business builds a good reputation for itself and they could get more projects coming their way therefore increasing the demand for them, this could lead to an increase in the workforce and an expansion of the business. Vicarious liability An advantage of vicarious liability is that it is easier for the claimant to attach blame to a responsible person. Another advantage is that an injured person can pursue for compensation from an employer rather than an employee who caused the damage as they are covered by insurance for the harm. A disadvantage of vicarious liability is that if a claim is put in and a business like ABS does not have insurance they may have to pay compensation and fines out of their own assets and this may lead to decreasing the amount of wages, corporate profits being greatly affected and productivity going down. The bottom line is that the rising cost of torts is having a dynamic impact on our society. Another disadvantage is that someone is responsible legally for the behaviour and actions of somebody else, for example, the boss of ABS could find himself responsible for the injury to the fellow employee when in fact his staffs are the wrong-doers. Lastly a disadvantage of vicarious liability that the employee always gets away scot free receives any punishment for their action. Even if there is vicarious liability, the injured person does not necessarily give up any right he may have to pursue the employee individually. If, for some reason, the injured person is unable to get full compensation from the employer, then he might seek to recover the balance from the employee. In addition, the employer may well seek reimbursement for any amount paid to the injured person (although in practice this rarely occurs). A recommendation for businesses like ABS could protect itself from vicarious liability by imposing strict guidelines as far as acceptable behaviour. An "agent" or employee is said to be outside of the scope of his employment if he acts outside of his job duties. If a company makes clear what the job duties are, and limits thescope of employment, this can provide some measure of protection against this type of secondary liability being imposed. ABS could also provide extensive and offering ongoing training for supervisors and managers to employees on what constitutes illegal and unlawful acts in the workplace. Supervisor training is one of the most-effective forms of proactive measures that ABS can undertake to prevent incidents that increase the employer's liability for supervisors' actions. This would make reduce the amounts of incidents happening at ABS like the heavy machinery which was being operated and the employee was distracted resulting in an employee being injured reducing the amount of workforce and reducing productivity as the team was down by a member so has to make up for that member and also may feel unsafe in the workplace due to the blast. Conclusion This task has evaluated the impact of the law of tort on ABS chemical plant. Bibliography http://www.richardbuxton.co.uk/v3.0/node/18 http://www.ehow.co.uk/about_6613883_definition-personal-liability-insurance.html http://www.ehow.co.uk/info_8378431_advantages-disadvantages-strict-liability.html http://business.wales.gov.uk/running-business/data-protection-crime-insurance/noise-odour-and-other-nuisances-0 http://www.findlaw.co.uk/law/accidents_and_injuries/accident_claims/500045.html http://richardhall.articlealley.com/tort-law-change-and-its-impact-on-society-111707.html http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-vicarious-liability.htm http://smallbusiness.chron.com/impact-vicarious-liability-employers-24701.html http://answers.bloglines.com/Finance/How_does_Tort_Law_Impact_Businesses_and_Consumers
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