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Why are Millennials Changing Product Liability Litigation?

November 16, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

The divide between generations is often difficult to pin down, but Millennials are, by and large, the 20 and 30-somethings who were born in the 80s and 90s. They’re the first generation that grew up with computers and are the ones dealing with the student loan crisis you keep hearing about. They are also entering the courtroom for the first time as jurors, which means big changes may be coming. The opinions of Millennials are changing product liability litigation in particular, since their general view of businesses and products is starkly different from their predecessors.

In a way, the Millennials are the safety-conscious generation. The reason may be tied to childhoods full of anti-smoking warnings and safe driving commercials depicting possible car crash injuries. Or it could be that the internet and the increased connectivity afforded by smart phones has allowed Millennials access to more information in real time. No matter the cause, Millennials have some very decided opinions about safety and a company’s responsibility to its customers, according to a survey presented at the recent Emerging Issues in Motor Vehicle Product Liability Litigation Conference.

Down with Big Business, Up with Technology

According to the survey, Millennials do not like big corporations, with nearly 75 percent agreeing that big businesses put profits before people’s safety. This bias could hurt big companies in lawsuits involving defective products. Outside of the courtroom, the fact that almost 85 percent of Millennials believe that corporations should take every safety precaution possible, even measures that are impractical and expensive, could mean a higher cost of doing business in the future. Even more agree that government safety standards are not adequate, and more regulations are needed for products and manufacturing.

Millennials have different expectations when it comes to lawyers, too. They are the generation that loves technology, so visual presentations that utilize new tech will probably be on the rise over the next few years. Even more challenging is the Millennial need for short, quick bursts of easily understood information. This could change the way attorneys argue products liability cases by forcing them to condense their arguments into just the vital points.

While it may not be clear to what extent Millennials will change product liability litigation and courtrooms in general, it is certain that some change is coming. Technological updates in attorneys’ strategies and shorter arguments could affect the way a lawyer plans a case. More jury verdicts in favor of injured victims could mean, not only more positive precedents in these cases, but potential changes to the policies regulating products liability as a whole.