Thousands of Americans are injured each year by defective products in their own homes. These victims have trusted product that should have made their lives easier, safer, and healthier but are often left with large medical bills and nowhere to turn.
Defects are found in a wide variety of products, including prescription drugs, automobiles, kitchen appliances, power tools, and even toys. Despite the safety testing that is required before a product is made available to the public, defects in the design or the parts used frequently result in serious injury to those unlucky enough to purchase these products.
Some accidents that occur with shocking regularity due to defective products include:
Motor vehicle accidents;
Adverse drug side effects; and
The victims of defective products are often left with cuts, burns, amputations, broken bones, spinal injuries, and head trauma. To add insult to injury, many of these victims also find themselves financially strained by the cost of medical treatment for their injuries.
Product Liability Law
Product liability statutes are carefully written to govern both who is liable for injuries caused by defective products and the duty that the manufacturers, designers, distributors, and merchants of a product have to those who buy it.
In general, everyone in a product’s “chain of distribution” has a duty to ensure that the product that they manufacture, distribute, and sell is safe for consumers to use. As such, product liability can be broken down into two types:
Warranty/Strict Liability (which implies liability, regardless of negligence)
In many cases, a lawsuit will allege both of these against a defendant, as more than one may apply.
In a product liability case you are claiming that the manufacturer or distributor committed an act of negligence that led to the product being defective and as a result, you were injured. So, you must prove that the manufacturer breached their duty to sell you a product that is safe to be used.
For example, a manufacturer might have failed to tighten a bolt on a lawn mower that you purchased. They had a duty to tighten the bolt, which was breached when they failed to do so. When you use the lawn mower and the blade comes loose and injures you, you can bring a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer for negligently failing to tighten the bolt and causing you to be injured.
Generally, when you purchase a product, any intermediary in the product’s chain of distribution is giving you a guarantee, whether they intend to or not, that the product they are distributing is reasonably safe to use. This is called a warranty. Those in a product’s chain of distribution typically include, but are not limited to:
The distributors; and
The retail outlet where the product was sold
If you are injured by a defective product, you can potentially bring a product liability lawsuit against any of the above. Furthermore, you won’t need to prove that they committed an act of negligence–only that the product was defective. In other words, you can hold them strictly liable for the injuries you suffered when using their product, which should have been safe to use.
However, you still have to prove that your injury was directly caused by a defect in the product. What’s more, you will be barred from recovering any damages under the following conditions:
You misused the product;
You used the product for a purpose other than which it was intended; and/or
You damaged the product prior to using it.
Suppose, for example, you are carrying 50 pounds of goods in a basket clearly stated to support a maximum of 20 pounds. If the bottom gives way and the goods fall out and break your toe, you will not have a claim for compensation.
On the other hand, suppose you are using the basket as intended and the handle breaks and results in your toe being broken, you would then be able to bring a product liability lawsuit under warranty and strict liability.
Product Liability Lawsuits
In recent years, there has been a growing number of lawsuits filed against products that have hurt people because they were defective in one way or another. Large corporations like Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, and companies that manufacture lithium-ion batteries have been named as the defendants in thousands of lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who are seeking compensation for the injuries they have suffered.
In fact, so many lawsuits have been filed against some products, that judicial panels have to consolidate federal complaints that share similar allegations. The thousands of plaintiffs in these multi-district litigations are hopeful that their voices will be heard and that manufacturers across the country will think twice about the methods they use to test the safety of new products.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact us for assistance with locating a qualified product liability attorney in your area.