Billions of products enter the market every year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) estimates that in in the U.S. in 2012, children visited the emergency room 192,000 times for toy-related injuries. Countless other preventable injuries occur every year by consumer products. The CPSC estimates that 13.6 billion emergency room visits each year can be traced back to consumer-product-related injuries. Most of those who have been hurt in such a manner don’t realize that someone else may be responsible.
Claims for defective products can generally be classified into one or more of three categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn. All of these fall under premises liability law, and if you are injured by a product, you should consult a product liability attorney who works at a product liability law firm.
A knowledgeable product liability attorney will tell you that manufacturing defects result from some error in the manufacturing process, like using poor-quality materials or shoddy workmanship. Product liability cases resulting from manufacturing defects are those where only some of the entire product line are defective because it departs from the intended design in some way that makes the product dangerous. Some manufacturing defect examples include a component with a missing part, the wrong part installed, or the right part installed incorrectly.
Design defects, on the other hand, predate the manufacture and result in an inherently dangerous or useless product, even with high-caliber manufacture. Design defects are designed poorly, as opposed to put together poorly. This means that in a product liability lawsuit for a design defect, every product with a certain design is defective, not just some of them. Design defect examples include airbags or phones that explode, heating blankets that spontaneously combust, and SUVs that roll over when cornering.
Failure-to-warn cases relate to products that have non-obvious dangers that do not come with adequate warnings that, if included, could prevent all or some of the danger. These product liability cases do not require the product to have some flaw in the design or manufacturing process; rather, the products are inherently dangerous (lawnmowers, power tools, microwaves, etc.), and do not have adequate warnings about the potential dangers and the correct uses of the product.
Here are some examples of product liability cases:
Product liability cases have the distinguishing characteristic that the plaintiffs, through their product liability attorney, do not have to prove any degree of fault in a product liability case. This is called strict product liability. In other words, in a product liability case, the designer or manufacturer of a defective product is liable for injuries caused by the defective product, no matter how careful they were to only make the safest products. In a product liability case, fault is irrelevant. Instead, if the defendant is in the chain of distribution (meaning they make money off of the product—they are the designer, manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer, they are liable for injuries caused by a product proven to be defective).
Anyone not in the chain of distribution cannot be strictly liable for injuries resulting from unsafe products. That means if you buy an unsafe product, and then loan it to your friend, you can’t be held liable. But the store you bought it from still can as long as your friend is a foreseeable user of the product (it’s foreseeable that you would let your friend use your lawnmower, but not foreseeable that you would let your friend’s kid use your bulldozer).
Product-defect cases are complicated because no two products, and no two defects are alike. Products-defect cases often involve multiple parties, experts, and can include tens of thousands of documents. Manufacturers and vendors are often high-dollar corporations who retain sophisticated attorneys to defend them. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you need a fearless and detail-oriented product liability attorney attorney who can advocate on your behalf.