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legal.online, August 1996
Copyright 1996 Robert J. Ambrogi
Tort Lawyers Can Use The 'Net
To Research Products,
By Robert J. Ambrogi
Personal-injury lawyers are limited only by their imaginations
in how they use the Internet. Through its vast resources, they
can research a defective product, read up on a client's injury,
or locate an expert witness.
What follows is a sampling of some of the best resources for
personal injury lawyers on the Internet.
- U.S. House of Representatives, Internet Law Library, http://law.house.gov/110.htm.
The library's section on tort law may be the Internet's
best general resource on the subject. A unique feature is
its collection of recent court decisions relating to tort
law. The site also has links to a number of articles and
commentaries, as well as to other, related Web sites.
- Law Journal EXTRA!, http://www.ljx.com.
This is a useful site with a variety of general
information. From the main screen, follow the link to
"Practice Areas," then choose either
"Negligence/Malpractice" or "Intentional
Tort." Both have an assortment of columns, news
stories, memoranda, court decisions and other resources.
The Negligence section features a searchable database of
verdicts and settlements.
The Consumer Law Page offers an encyclopedic collection of
articles and brochures of interest to PI lawyers and
consumers. Topics include: automobiles, insurance, products
liability, toxic torts, and traumatic brain injuries.
From this site you can follow a link to The Personal
Injury Law Page, with its own collection of articles,
brochures and resources (although many are the same). Or you
can jump to the National Consumer Complaint Center, whose
purpose is described as offering "a method of promptly
communicating consumer complaints to agencies that are
interested in investigating and taking action."
- ATLA, http://www.atlanet.org.
This site is home to ATLA Net, an online service
restricted to members of the Association of Trial Lawyers
of America. However, a portion of the site is open to the
public and offers useful information. It includes a list
of ATLA's litigation groups; click on any group's name
for a detailed description of its purpose. The site also
has articles from the newsletter "Amicus News."
Also at the site are a selection of full-text decisions
from cases in which ATLA submitted briefs, and a calendar
of ATLA events.
- Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association, http://webcommerce.com/philatla.
PTLA's site is new to the Web, and the organization
is continuing to add material. So far, the site includes
full text articles from PTLA's monthly newsletter and a
schedule of CLE programs. The site offers one of the best
collections of links for trial lawyers.
- Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, http://www.unilaw.com/itla/main.htm.
Access to part of this site is restricted to members. The
public part includes information on pending Indiana and
federal legislation of interest to tort lawyers, an
attorney referral service, and a list of members and
events. Coming soon, the site promises, is a searchable
data bank of verdicts and depositions.
- New York Trial Lawyers Association, http://www.NYSTLA.org.
There is little here in the way of content -- the site
mostly has descriptions of publications available for
- Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, http://www.wstla.org/index.html.
Besides general information about the WSTLA, this site
offers a monthly "Tort Law Update" and a
section devoted to state legal news of interest to
- ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section, http://www.abanet.org/tips/home.html.
TIPS' site has general information about the section
and selected articles from The Brief, its quarterly
- Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, http://pwr.com/legal/aftl.
Part of this site is restricted to members. The
public area has information about the AFTL and its
publications and an online directory of members.
- Consumer Attorneys of California, http://www.seamless.com/consumer.
This organization of plaintiffs' lawyers divides its
site into two parts: the CAOC home page and the Consumer
Alerts Page. The home page contains general information
about the organization. The Consumer page has information
about recent ballot initiatives of interest to PI
lawyers, reprints of articles from the CAOC newsletter,
and a member directory.
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, http://cpsc.gov. This
is a treasure trove for products-liability lawyers,
offering the full-text of CPSC publications on everything
from toy and recreational safety to indoor air quality
and poison prevention. There are also current press
releases regarding product recalls and other matters. The
Web site links to a gopher site, where even more
materials are housed, including MECAP News, a publication
that reports on injuries and deaths associated with
CPSC also operates a listserv that allows you to
automatically receive press releases and other information
and reports by e-mail. To subscribe to this free service,
send an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave the subject blank and in the body of the message enter:
sub CPSCINFO-L Firstname Lastname (substituting your real
- Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov.
The FDA's Web site offers a wealth of useful
information for personal-injury lawyers. The site is
divided among the major categories of products the FDA
regulates: Foods, Human Drugs, Biologics, Medical
Devices/Radiological Health, Animal Drugs, and Cosmetics.
Each subsection is home to a variety of resources. Under
Human Drugs, for example, is a link to the Center for
Drug Evaluation & Research, including a list of
FDA-approved drugs. The site also has current FDA news
releases and information on related topics such as
imports and toxicology.
- U.S. Department of Transportation, http://www.dot.gov.
Trial lawyers will find this site useful for its
listings of product recalls and safety notices from
agencies under the DOT umbrella, including the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal
Aviation Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the
Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Railroad
- Standards & Specifications, http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/society/standards.html.
Products-liability lawyers should prepare themselves
to settle in for many hours of surfing from this site,
which provides links to more than 30 collections of full
text professional standards and specifications,
promulgated by organizations such as the Acoustical
Society of America, American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics, American Iron and Steel Institute, American
National Standards Institute, American Society of
Mechanical Engineers, SAE International, and more.
- Skip Tracing Tool Box, http://www.infoquest.com/ara/skip.html.
"Skip tracing" is the art of finding
"lost" people, be they witnesses, defendants,
debtors or what have you. The Internet offers many tools
to help locate someone. This site, maintained by the
American Recovery Association, provides links to several
of the most useful finding tools, including phone books,
area-code directories, zip-code information, and others.
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, http://www.hwysafety.org,
and the Highway Loss Data Institute, http://www.carsafety.org,
two sites sponsored by the insurance industry, house a
collection of articles, reports and other resources
relating to highway safety. The latter site features data
on injury, collision and theft losses, organized by make
and model of vehicle. The former organizes resources
under such topics as: Roads & Highways, Passenger
Vehicles, Pedestrians, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Traffic
Laws, Trucks, Motorcycles, and Bicycles.
- Goodyear Tire, http://www.goodyear.com.
If you have a case involving a defective tire, you might
want to start by attending Goodyear's "Tire
School." This online course offers a thorough
introduction to grades, traction, tread, temperature
ranges, care and wear.
- Medscape, http://www.medscape.com.
The premier source for medical literature is the Medline
database, produced by the National Library of Medicine.
Several Internet sites offer access to Medline, but this
is the only one that is free and unrestricted. This site
also includes Medscape's own database of clinical
articles and medical news and discussion groups.
- Medical Malpractice Home Page, http://www.law.vill.edu/~psand/medmal.
This site is intended to be a starting point for doctors,
lawyers and others on the topic of medical malpractice.
It provides links to substantive medical and legal
information, pointers to traditional reference materials,
and an expert-witness section.
Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is editor
a monthly newsletter about the Internet published by Legal
Communications Ltd., Philadelphia. He can be reached by e-mail at
or by phone at (978) 546-7898.