Product Liability Lawyer
Product liability law deals with the injuries suffered by users of consumer products that are found defective either in design or from the manufacturing process. In many such cases, the consumer was not given an adequate warning, if any, regarding the possible harm that could result. There are countless examples of flawed consumer products that have caused catastrophic injuries or death.
Examples of Defective Products
- Industrial machinery
- Child seats
- Baby cribs
- Power tools
- Automobile products such as airbags, brakes and seat belts
- Sporting goods
- Contaminated food
- DePuy hip implants
- DePuy knee implant
- Transvaginal mesh
- Zimmer knee replacement
A number of claims against certain products are in, or were, the subject of class action lawsuits or consolidated suits in state and federal courts. Consult with a product liability attorney if you were injured by any of these products or drugs or any other consumer item.
Liability for Injuries Caused by Defective Products
Any party involved in designing, manufacturing or distributing of a consumer product might be liable for any personal injuries that result from its use. These parties have a legal responsibility to provide a safe product. Designers have a duty to protect against product failure and to eliminate any dangers or hazards in its use. If a product is inherently dangerous or has the potential to cause harm, then the manufacturer or designer has a duty to clearly warn users of the hazards or physical complications that could result.
Products need to adequately tested to determine their safety, though some manufacturers have been found liable because they failed to fully test their products, failed to include adverse results or simply fabricated test findings, believing that it was still cost effective despite the potential for lawsuits.
Theories of Liability in a Product Liability Claim
Product liability claims generally allege different theories of liability:
Similar to other types of personal injury law, a manufacturer or designer has a duty to exercise ordinary care when designing, manufacturing and marketing its products to the public. Manufacturers can be liable for breaching its duty of care in its design, materials used, production, testing, and placement of clear warnings so that an ordinary user is unaware of any foreseeable risks of harm in using the product.
Once a breach is established, the plaintiff has the burden of showing a causal connection between the defect and the injury that resulted. It must have been the defect, such as lack of a safety guard, that caused the victim’s injury.
A manufacturer can be liable for even one product that contained a manufacturing defect even if other similar products were safe since there was a defect in the production process. If no other explanation for the defect other than negligence is the case, then the burden shifts to the manufacturer to prove that its production process was safe, that it had an adequate quality control protocol to avoid such defects, or that its employees used that system as required.
For defective design allegation, expert testimony is generally required to show that a safer design was possible and feasible.
A failure to warn is a common allegation in a product liability case. These are required to warn of any likely danger when the product is used as intended or in a manner that was foreseeable. The user must not have misused the product in order to prevail and the danger should not have been obvious to a reasonably prudent consumer.
Strict liability is a type liability whereby if a product is deemed unreasonably or inherently dangerous because it is not fit for its ordinary purposes, the plaintiff need only prove damages as liability is presumed regardless of the plaintiff’s own possible negligence. The defect must be one that threatens the safety of the user despite the manufacturer’s reasonable care in handling the product. A lack of a clear warning on a dangerous item could render it unreasonably dangerous for strict liability purposes.
Breach of Warranty
Under the principles of product liability law, consumer products are under warranties, express and implied, regarding their safe use and suitability for their intended purpose. These include the implied warranty of fitness for use, warranty for a particular purpose and an express warranty of merchantability.
An express warranty is created when the manufacturer or supplier of a product represents that the product is safe by oral or written statements or provides a sample or model that is made part of the bargain. An implied warranty of merchantability is created and imposed by law and represents that the item meets minimum quality standards and includes a reasonable standard of safety. An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose applies where the supplier knows of the particular purpose pertaining to the product’s use and recommends it to meet the consumer’s needs.
To prevail, the plaintiff also must give notice of the breach and show a reliance on the warranty.
If Injured by a Defective Product
Should you have been injured by a defective product, take steps to preserve the item in the form it was in when you were injured. A defense to a product liability claim is that the product was modified, altered or repaired from its original condition and thus the supplier or manufacturer should be free from responsibility for your injury. If the product is owned by someone else, you may need to get a court order or other legal assistance in securing the product and putting it in a safe location.
Immediately retain an experienced product liability lawyer. Your attorney will have to immediately investigate the facts and circumstances of your injury, which may well include hiring health care and medical device experts to substantiate your claim. These are often complex cases involving complicated and difficult issues regarding liability, causation and proof of damages.