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Federal Overreach: NHTSA Foreshadows Possible Preemption of State Tort Law

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By William C. Ourand

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Self-driving cars are already being tested, and will become increasingly more common in the years to come.  There are good reasons to be optimistic about this technology, as it has the potential to reduce crashes.  But make no mistake: the battle over tort liability for self-driving car crashes has already begun, and there is a very real possibility that automakers and software companies may secure a sweeping victory in the form of federal preemption.  We are at a critical juncture in this fight as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) just released its initial guidance on the topic.  NHTSA’s guidance contains several unfortunate statements which may foreshadow a massive power grab by federal bureaucrats—one that could completely displace state law and deny Floridians the right of access to the civil justice system.

This article will analyze the troubling aspects of the NHTSA guidance, expose the hollow arguments advanced against automotive products liability law and in favor of federal preemption, and provide recommendations for consumer advocates who wish to remain informed and engaged in the fight.

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Pre-Suasion: Applied to Trial Practice

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By Pat McArdle

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All trial lawyers seek to tell true stories, every day. Trying to sway an adjuster. Explaining the law to a red-faced judge. Comforting a broken family. All these moments of truth make up our lives.

But as we go, are we doing everything we can to win over the people who can help restore our clients? Without a long life of trial and error, how would we know?

Young or old, we must look for what works when telling our clients’ true stories. With chances for trial rare for young lawyers, the search for knowledge to bridge the trial gap is key. Because we only have one life to live and limited time, reading research is a needed tool to find the best path. No matter how many mock trials, CLEs, or big trials you have had, social science research is the only way to reach beyond hunches and beliefs.1 Research is the only way to answer whether your trial experiences are the exception, or the rule.

The book Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade gathers the newest research.2 Its focus is on controlling attention in an ethical way. Because the book champions truthful communication, this article explores its ideas apply to practice.

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