In general, many product liability lawsuits tend to arise from defective consumer products that cause bodily injury to consumers who use them. For instance, a bodily injury may result from a product that does not work as it was intended or as a consumer expected. In other words, despite the fact that a consumer properly used the product, it still managed to injure them.
Some common examples of how these types of situations can occur may include when:
- A consumer is poisoned or falls ill due to a product containing an improper ratio or mixture of chemicals;
- A consumer sustains a physical injury because the product fails to include proper instructions or to place conspicuous warning labels on the outside packaging of a product;
- A piece of the product breaks off and falls on a consumer, which then causes severe bodily injury; and/or
- A consumer suffers lacerations, broken bones, or death because some moving part on the product fails (e.g., gears, levers, or hydraulic mechanism found in various modes of transportation).
There is a widespread assortment of bodily injuries that a consumer can receive from a faulty or defective product. This will largely depend on the kind of product involved in the incident as well as on the circumstances that led to the injury.
Some other examples of the types of bodily injuries that a consumer may suffer as a result of using a faulty product include:
- Brain damage; and/or
- Impairment of a specific body part, such as a person’s kidneys or liver.
In addition, the kind of bodily injury that a consumer can receive may be either temporary or permanent. In extreme cases, a product may even cause death.
Therefore, if you or a loved one has suffered serious bodily injury as a result of using a defective product, then you should speak to a local consumer lawyer immediately to find out whether you can file a product liability lawsuit and recover damages for those injuries.
What is a Defective Product?
As previously mentioned, a defective product can be described as a product that fails to work in the way in which a designer or manufacturer intended the product to work. The term defective product may encompass any type of product, such as houseware, electronics, vehicles, beauty items, and many other kinds of consumer products.
In general, product defects may occur in one of three ways, including either by:
- Having an overall defective design;
- Having defective warning labels or instructions (or a lack thereof); and/or
- Having a defective manufacturing process.
What Do I Need to Prove that a Product is Defective by Design?
When a product is said to be defective by its design, this means that its conception was flawed from the start and that the product is too dangerous to be used by the average consumer.
For example, imagine that a furniture designer created a chair that was so poorly made that it could not support the weight of the average consumer or the chair contained legs that constantly snapped. Despite these obvious flaws, if that chair was able to make its way into the stream of commerce and every consumer who bought it ended up getting hurt, then this could lead to a class action product liability lawsuit.
In order to prove that a product is defective by design, the plaintiff will need to demonstrate the following elements:
- The overall design of the product is defective;
- The design is too dangerous to be used by the average consumer; and
- The creator of the product could have found another way to design the product that was both feasible and would make the product safer for consumer use.
What is a Manufacturing Defect?
On the other hand, a manufacturing defect may result from an error that occurred in the manufacturing process. Basically, unlike a design defect, there may be nothing wrong with the overall design of a product, but rather the defect stems from a flaw in the way that the product is assembled which then makes it dangerous for consumer use.
A common example of a manufacturing defect is when an important piece (like a screw) is left out during assembly of a tractor or lawn mower. In these cases, the prevailing plaintiffs were able to recover damages for their injuries due to the manufacturing defect, which was that the missing screw caused the landscaping equipment to explode or led to some other kind of dangerous accident.
What is a Warning Defect?
A warning defect can arise when a business fails to include a proper warning label, instruction manual, or advertisement that warns consumers about the dangers of using the product or using the product in an improper manner. A business can also be held liable for a warning defect if the warning or instructions they included were not clear or sufficient enough to prevent against consumer injuries.
The following list provides some of examples of when a business may be held liable for a warning defect:
- A company failed to attach any type of warnings to its product;
- The warning affixed to the product was written in such small script or was placed in a spot where it was virtually invisible, effectively rendering the warning useless; and/or
- A product had a warning label or came with instructions, but they contained inaccurate information. This type of issue frequently happens with prescribed or over the counter medications (e.g., incorrect dosage, wrong ingredients, etc.).
Cases that involve warning label defects that contain inaccurate information and are placed on medications can have serious repercussions.
For instance, if a warning label did not provide correct details regarding the risks and side effects of a certain medicine and a consumer proceeded to take the medication without that knowledge, it might cause the consumer to become extremely ill or even die. This type of injury could easily lead to a product liability lawsuit.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Product Liability Injury?
There are a number of parties who can be held liable for the injuries involved in a product liability lawsuit. The following is a list of the parties who could potentially be held responsible for product liability injury, including:
- The manufacturers of a product;
- The designers of a product;
- The wholesalers or the distributors of a product; and/or
- A retailer or seller of the product in question.
In most instances, the legal remedy issued to a prevailing plaintiff in such cases will likely be some type of monetary damages award. For instance, a plaintiff may receive a compensatory damages award to reimburse them for the out-of-pocket costs they were forced to spend due to their injuries. These may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering costs, and various other economic or noneconomic damages associated with their injury.
Should I Contact an Attorney about My Bodily Injury?
Lawsuits involving product liability claims can be extremely difficult to navigate without the help of a lawyer. There are often many complex procedural requirements to follow as well as complicated state product liability laws to interpret.
Thus, if you or a loved one has sustained a serious bodily injury as a result of using a defective product, then it is strongly recommended that you hire a local consumer lawyer as soon as possible for further legal guidance.
An experienced consumer lawyer will be able to determine if you have a viable claim and can discuss what types of damages you could potentially recover from a lawsuit. Your lawyer can also explain your rights under the laws in your state and can walk you through the legal process. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to provide representation in court or at a settlement conference.
Lastly, if there is an issue with an insurance company, your lawyer will know how to properly communicate with an insurance company’s representatives. They can help to efficiently resolve the issue and will be equipped to handle extensive negotiations.