- January 26, 2023
- Posted by: Fatos Dervishi, ESQ.
- Category: Personal Injury, Product Liability
Unsafe products cause approximately 29 million injuries, resulting in more than 20,000 deaths, according to research from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The damage, injuries, property loss, and even death account for much more!
Product liability laws govern defective and dangerous products. The law puts guidelines on where manufacturers should meet the quality expectations of the consumer. When the product is damaged or cannot meet these expectations, it is unfit for consumption. The law makes it easier for someone who has suffered from an unsafe product to recover the damages.
On the other hand, product liability holds the manufacturer liable for putting a defective product into the hands of the consumer or customer. Product liability law is not under any federal law; it is under state laws under negligence, breach of warranty, strict liability, and commercial code, among many other statutes.
We cannot get into the examples of defective liability claims without understanding what the law says about them and who the parties responsible are.
A defective product refers to a product’s fault, content, or design. The imperfection may come from the manufacturer that caused a design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate instructions on the product. A product in a defective condition is dangerous to the consumer or user and may lead to injury, harm, or even death.
For product liability to occur, the product must be in the hands of the consumer—either sold in the markets, supermarkets, or retailers. Previously, the manufacturer (who often took his products to the market) and the consumer who bought the products had a relationship. The ‘Privity of Contract’ governed this relationship. This contract protects the injured person from any damage should there be a product liability case. The world has shifted to a digital front, and manufacturers cannot keep up with their consumers, hence the product liability law. A person can now recover from damage whether or not they know the manufacturer. Such product liability claims rest with product distribution chains like:
a) The manufacturer
b) The wholesaler
c) The assembler of the product
d) The retailer or retail store
e) The manufacture of components of the product
It is important to note that strict liability only happens when products are sold in the official chain of business mentioned above, so a product sold in someone’s house or at a garage sale would not be liable for product liability action.
Types of defective product liability
There are three ways in which a manufacturer can get a product liability claim. These defects are the most dangerous to the consumer and may lead to injury, harm, and death in some cases, as we have stated above. These defects are:
1. Design Defects-This occur during the manufacturing process. For example, defective products in the medical field lead to catastrophic losses.
2. Marketing Defects – Marketing defective product liability claims come after the product has been manufactured and is in its marketing phase. Some product defects include improper instructions or labeling and a lack of safety warnings.
3. Manufacturing Defects – Manufacturing defects also come during the manufacturing process. Here, defects may arise during assembly, affecting the product design.
A design defect occurs when the manufacturer alters the design of the product. This allegedly defective product flaw could happen with or without their knowledge.
A consumer must make a defective design claim when the product they are using is considered unreasonably dangerous and could cause injury. In severe instances, a faulty product can cause loss of life. In such an instance, the manufacturer is strictly liable for damages caused.
Some examples of design defects lead to catastrophic losses. In the medical field, a design defect in a syringe or a piece of medical equipment can lead to errors and fatal results. When a patient develops complications from using prescription drugs or the wrong type of medical equipment, the family is legally allowed to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for the product’s adverse effects.
Another example is the automotive industry. In 2016, automotive giant Toyota was involved in a legal tussle with the owners of their latest car. The owners of the Prius model car alleged that a faulty brake malfunction posed a danger to them. After years in the corridors of justice, the company opted for an out-of-court settlement. The drivers received part of the $20 million as part of the settlement.
Other design defects include children’s toys laced with toxic materials, cars built with no balance, especially if built on top, causing a tip-over in turns, intrauterine birth control like the coil, etc.
Claiming Product Liability Compensation
Not all claims are successful, so the consumer must prove the following in court when filing a design defect liability claim.
- Their relationship with the product, for example, purchasing receipts.
- The danger that the product posed to them during use.
- Evidence that the product caused harm to them.
- Proof that the user used the product for the intended purpose.
- Provide enough evidence that the manufacturer is the sole vendor of the product
- Based on the manufacturer’s manual supplied on sale, the product is unsafe to use.
Manufacturing defects happen when the manufacturer omits a vital component of a product. Sometimes this omission occurs by mistake or due to negligence. It takes place in the manufacturing process of development.
When an injury occurs due to loose parts, the consumer can file a defective product liability claim. In most cases, filing a manufacturing liability claim is insufficient; the plaintiff must prove sufficiently that the specific products caused the injuries.
For example, when a manufacturer fails to follow the proper protocols in making a car engine, any product liability lawsuit filed against them will be within the legal boundaries of the law. Other examples include using the wrong ingredients in the incorrect quantity, which may lead to manufacturing defects using inappropriate plastic materials or spare parts.
General Motors, the automotive giant, had a car model with a faulty ignition switch that switched off during a drive. This defective product led to 13 deaths and a compensation fund of over 400 $million. Even though no agreement is signed with the person injured beforehand, they can still file a case to receive compensation from the manufacturer.
Other manufacturing liability cases include harmful prescription drugs like birth control and dialysis medication, among many others.
Marketing defects happen in the manufacturing labeling phase. It occurs when the manufacturer displays inaccurate information to the ordinary consumer. This miscommunication could lead to injury or, in some severe cases, death due to using a dangerous product.
This claim stems from manufacturers failing to disclose the dangers of using a particular product. Sometimes, manufacturers could mislabel their products, exposing consumers to harmful and dangerous effects. While manufacturers are not obliged by law to disclose all components in their products, they are expected to label their products correctly to avoid injury. A manufacturer or a seller should warn consumers about harmful ingredients in the product to minimize the risk of being held liable if a claim is made. Such critical information could help the consumer stay away from inherently dangerous effects.
When the manufacturer fails to provide adequate instructions on whether a product is defective or not, and a defective product injures a person. In such a case, a product liability claim against a manufacturer or seller should be able to compensate for the plaintiff’s injury.
For example, the manufacturer should provide a label showing the side effects of a drug. Failure to which they could be held responsible in case an injured party uses the product. In 2002, Altria Group Inc suffered $850000 as compensation charges after a woman claimed that she got cancer after the company failed to indicate that smoking the tobacco product would lead to cancer. According to her, it was the company’s negligence in failing to warn her about the consequences of smoking the tobacco product.
Visible Product Warnings
Product manufacturers should always ensure that the critical product warnings are placed in a visible, readable format that is noticeable to the consumer. The purpose of the visual notice is to ensure that the branding is visible to anybody interested in knowing the components that make a product.
For example, it would be against logic if the branding of a product exploded on the label while the product’s side effects are written in small fonts that will take a while for people to notice. The purpose of the visual warning is to protect the consumer from injury arising from the use of defective products.
Negligence Liability Lawsuits
A negligence breach occurs when someone is responsible for another person’s harm. A plaintiff suing for negligence is supposed to prove that the manufacturer was privy to the product’s harmfulness and failed to provide sufficient information beforehand to the consumer. This liability claim mainly focuses on whether a manufacturer has been unable to provide sufficient warning that led to the plaintiff experiencing an injury.
Negligence liability suits are meant to curb cases of blatant disregard for the law. A practice that is common with some manufacturers who tend to believe that they are above the law. There are four types of negligence:
- Gross Negligence – Gross negligence is usually used in medical malpractice. Maybe a case of reckless behavior leads to grave consequences. Gross negligence is the most common type of negligence. A nurse’s failure to tend to a patient to his dying breath is gross negligence.
- Contributory Negligence Theory—Just as the word says, contributory. In this type of negligence, the person may not be fully responsible but participated in the incident in one way or another. For example, driving on the phone or texting and missing a traffic light leading into incoming traffic is classified as contributory.
- Comparative Negligence – This type of negligence has participation from the two parties, even if it’s to a small degree. It is mainly in the only four states in the United States, with Mary Land being one of them. An example of comparative negligence is someone hitting his head on the staircase labeled “watch your head.” This scenario is comparable because the person is responsible for their surroundings and acknowledges and follows the signs. In this case, both parties are responsible.
- Vicarious Negligence – This occurs when someone is indirectly responsible. An attack by a pet like a dog would result in vicarious negligence. A dog is one example—the owner would be liable for injuries caused by their dog even though they did not bite the victim.
Personal Consumer Responsibility
While manufacturers are expected to follow a uniform commercial code of practice, consumers should also take responsibility for the use of products. A manufacturer is safe if the consumer disregards the information provided to help them avoid defective products.
Defective product liability claims law
A liability claim can be made against a product’s manufacturer, importer, distributor, or seller. One is entitled to compensation in the event of injury.
When should you contact your lawyer for defective product liability claims?
If you have been injured immediately by a defective product, then you are eligible for a product liability case. You can sue the immediate party responsible for your damage. Your product liability lawyer should initiate an investigation against the party responsible.
Each product liability claim is case-specific; your lawyer can help you identify who is at fault and who is liable. In the case of a manufacturing defect, your lawyer can go after some of the engineers assembling the product. Your lawyer can go after the labeling company if your claim is a marketing defect, maybe inappropriate labeling, etc. As in the above example, even though the lawyers will go after the labeling company, the retailer may suffer some consequences and be responsible for a product liability claim.
You are eligible for a claim even if you borrowed a defective product. The law doesn’t discriminate against the purchase of a product; i.e., you don’t necessarily have to buy a product to be eligible for a defective product claim. Your lawyer should identify the person at fault in the whole distribution and manufacturing chain.
There are several ways to prove negligence in product liability cases.
- If the product manufacturer owes a duty to the defendant
- If the product manufacturer violates that duty
- If the breach was the cause of injury and damage
- If the breach was the immediate cause of injury that occurred
- If damages and injury caused were a result of negligence.
Product liability claim process
The following process ensues upon contacting a product claim lawyer.
- File a liability claim: A product liability claim file is the first stage of the process of compensation for the damages. The file includes the extent of injuries done. The damages may include medical bills, job losses, physical impairments, mental instability, and death, among many others.
- History Check: In most cases, there is usually a case of history in product liability claims. The history check will indicate if we’re dealing with a case of negligence or repeated offenses, which significantly helps your case. Look for a case history with similar issues with the same company.
- Investigation: Your lawyer will issue an inquiry to get to the core of the claim and injury. Investigation exposes any defects in products and processes of manufacture, among many others.
- Compensation: Compensation is after an investigation. Your lawyer will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
How to raise a Product Liability Claim
There are many ways to identify whether you are liable for a product liability claim, but how can you ensure you achieve the proper compensation without any defense?
a) Always identify the supplier and the product that has caused an injury. Ensure you know who is responsible for making the product, supplying, and distributing it. This knowledge will help identify who is liable for the claim. In the event of medical products or pharmaceuticals, the companies would be responsible for a ‘market share liability” where they all share a percentage of the claim.
b) Ensure you don’t alter the product after it has left the manufacturers. Most manufacturers use this method as a defense against product liability claims. They claim that the plaintiff may have misused the product and hence self-inflicted the injury. Avoid these cases by identifying the product beforehand saves you these defenses.
Defective Product Liability Claims
If you have experienced defective product liability cases that have led to damage or injuries caused, contact our product liability claims lawyer at DERVISHI LAW GROUP.
We deal with product liability lawsuits and ensure you get the best product liability attorney to help you fight your product liability case.
You can visit our website or email us at email@example.com. Call us at 917-300-0797 for a free consultation or visit our offices at 2322 Arthur Ave., Suite 3A, Bronx, New York 10458.