In our consumer-driven economy, product liability lawyers deal with an abundance of different types of products flooding the market, from automobiles to washing machines, and everything in between. Whether product manufacturers make airplane parts or cosmetics, they have a duty to ensure the products they place on the market are safe for consumers. Federal law requires manufacturers to alert consumers about dangerous or defective products that they have sold.
However, many product manufacturers do not recall defective products in a timely manner, or often do not recall them at all. Several manufacturers even fail to warn consumers about the dangers their products may pose. As a result, consumers may suffer serious or catastrophic injuries and death. As product liability lawyers, we see fatalities and injuries associated with several defective products, ranging from drugs and medical devices to automobiles.
If you or a loved one has been injured or sickened by a dangerous or defective product, you may be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. You need an experienced product defect lawyer on your side – a tenacious advocate who will fight for your rights and hold negligent manufacturers accountable.
Common Types of Defective Products
There are several products consumers routinely use and depend on to work as intended. Here are some of the most common types of defective products that result in serious injury or harm to consumers.
Automobiles and Auto Parts
Defective vehicles and vehicle parts kill and injure thousands of people each year in the United States. Automotive defects that may result in catastrophic injuries or deaths include:
- Airbag Defects
- Brake Malfunction
- Engine and Fuel Tank Defects
- Seat Back Defects
- Seat Belt Failure
- Software Glitches
- Tire Defects
- Transmission Problems
See more information on our Automotive Defects page.
Faulty Seat Belts
Seat restraint systems are supposed to protect vehicle occupants. However, there are times when they fail and occupants are either ejected or thrown around in the vehicle, resulting in major injuries or even death.
Most vehicles today depend on sophisticated electronics and computer software. When there are glitches in these systems, malfunctions may occur leading to major injury crashes.
Defective Drugs and Medical Devices
We count on prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical devices to help us feel better and recover from illnesses and health conditions. However, when drugs and medical devices don’t work as intended, they may cause more harm than good. While it is expected that a drug may have some side effects, when these side effects are fatal or cause major organ damage, the drug manufacturer must be held accountable.
Similarly, when a medical device fails or causes injury to the patient, he or she often requires surgery to have the faulty device removed and/or replaced. Needless to say, this not only results in additional medical expenses and other costs, but also causes a tremendous amount of physical pain and mental suffering to patients and their families.
Faulty Children’s Products
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that between 2012 and 2014, there were 284 children under the age of 5 who died due to defective nursery products such as cribs, mattresses, bassinets, play yards, infant carriers and baby bouncer seats. Causes of death included asphyxia, strangulation, and drowning. In 2016, about 62,300 children were injured and had to be taken to a hospital emergency department for treatment because of faulty nursery products.
In addition to defective nursery products, toys can cause injuries and deaths among children. For example, toys with loose or small parts may pose a choking hazard, while toys that are tainted with lead may cause issues ranging from learning disabilities to brain damage.
Several household products we use daily may pose risks. Here are just a few examples of the dangers that may be lurking in your own home:
Kitchen and Home Appliances
Defective stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines or dryers may lead to fires, electrocutions and other serious injuries. Faulty appliances, such as blenders, may lead to severe lacerations or burn injuries when hot liquids are involved.
Tools that are routinely used at home, such as saws or drills, may lead to laceration and other severe injuries. This is true of lawnmowers and other yard equipment, such as weed whackers.
Fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, when they fail to work as intended, may lead to devastating injuries and losses.
Understanding Product Liability Law
In the United States, “product liability law” refers to laws regarding who can be held responsible for injuries and damages caused by dangerous and defective products. Product liability lawsuits are adjudicated in the civil justice system, and are often the last resort for consumers who are attempting to hold a large corporation accountable for manufacturing unsafe products that lead to injury and harm.
It is important to note that when a product defect is responsible for injury or other harm, liability belongs to everyone within that product’s distribution chain.
The following parties may be held potentially liable for a dangerous or defective product:
- The manufacturer of the faulty product
- The company that made parts
- Any party who installs or puts the product together
- A distributor
- Any wholesaler of the product
- Any brick and mortar retailer or online outlet who sold the product
If an unexpected hazard that occurs due to such a product, this means that ordinary expectations have not been met on the part of the consumer. Unfortunately, there is no overarching federal product liability law that applies to everybody, so claims are usually decided based on state law in terms of negligence, breach of warranty, or strict liability.
Who Are the Responsible Parties?
For a product liability claim to be filed, the product has to have been sold in an actual marketplace. If someone is injured, they do not have to be the original buyer of the product to be eligible to recover damages. Any injuries and losses incurred by the product fault can be recovered by any person who has suffered them, as long as someone purchased the product. It doesn’t matter if the product was sold at a brick and mortar store or online.
It is also worth noting that if you are injured by a product you purchased at a garage sale, for example, you may still file a claim against the manufacturer of the product, but not the seller.
Types of Product Defects
Three types of product defects causing injury may lead to a product liability claim:
Any design defect is one that arises before the product is even manufactured. These design defects sprout up from inherent design-related problems in the product regardless of the manner in which it was manufactured.
These types of defects happen during product assembly or manufacturing. The product, for example, may be missing a part or have a part that is broken or not made to specifications. Products that are made with substandard parts also fall under this category.
These defects occur when the marketing of a product does not quite match up to the product’s reality. Examples of marketing defects include incorrectly printed labels, incorrect instructions, or inadequate safety warnings . Manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure that consumers are adequately warned about any potential dangers of using the product.
Proving a Product Liability Claim
If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, you may have a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. As the plaintiff, you have the “burden of proof,” or the responsibility to show evidence that the product manufacturer was negligent in manufacturing, designing or marketing the product.
There are four elements to successfully proving a product liability claim:
You Were Injured and Suffered Losses
You must show through evidence and testimony that you have suffered injuries and damages, such as medical expenses and lost income as the result of the injuries you sustained.
The Product is Defective
You must show that the product was faulty, by being able to prove that the product was defectively manufactured; that it had a design issue that caused the incident and your injuries; and/or that you did not receive sufficient warning about the dangers posed by the product.
The Product Defect Caused Your Injuries and Damages
You must also show that the defective product directly caused your injuries and monetary damages.
You Were Using the Product as Intended
One of the most common defenses product manufacturers use is that the consumer was not using the product as intended or that they were using it in an inappropriate or dangerous manner. It is up to the plaintiff in a product liability case to show the judge or jury that they were using the product correctly and as intended when it malfunctioned.
Damages in a Product Liability Case
The value or worth of a product liability case depends on the nature and extent of injuries and damages caused, and the degree of negligence exhibited by the product manufacturer. Here are some of the damages that are commonly awarded in product liability cases:
These are medically-related expenses that occur as a result of your injuries, including emergency room costs, hospitalization, surgery, cost of medical equipment, medication etc.
This includes any work time you had to take off due to your injuries. You may also be able to receive compensation for loss of benefits, loss of earning capacity, or lost future income if your injuries were catastrophic, and if you are unable to return to work or earn a livelihood again.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering includes not just the physical pain of the injuries you sustained as a result of the defective product, but also the emotional pain and other psychological issues such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that you had to endure.
These types of damages are often awarded in product liability cases, particularly where the degree of negligence was egregious. Judges award punitive damages, so they serve as a deterrent to other negligent manufacturers.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured as the result of a product defect or dangerous product, the experienced product liability lawyers at TorkLaw can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm has access to experts and other resources, which can make an enormous difference in your product liability case. We will strive to help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.