It’s often the case that corporations put more importance on product sales and profits than on consumer safety. Many serious and fatal accidents could be avoided if product manufacturers and distributors took appropriate steps to ensure consumer safety. Defective products are products which cause injury due to errors made in labeling, defects in design or in issues with the manufacturing process. This area of law covers a wide range of product related injuries including injuries sustained from kitchen appliances, misleading health claims on food product labels and car defect injury claims such as those involving faulty tires.
There are many ways people can be injured by defective products. A part can fall off something to create a choking hazard to children. An automobile defect such as faulty tires can lead to a deadly accident. A driver on a busy road can lose control when a faulty accelerator pedal sticks to result in a horrific accident with many injuries. Even products we use to keep our children safe like car seats, high-chairs and cribs can be defective wherein young children are seriously injured or killed.
If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured due to a dangerous product, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible as you may have grounds to file a defective product liability claim. Your attorney will review your case to determine what has happened, the extent of your injuries and whether or not a product fault was to blame for the accident. In order to win a defective product lawsuit, you must be able to prove the following:
- That you were injured or suffered losses
- That the product is defective
- That the defect was what caused your injuries
- That you were using the product as it was intended
Product liability claims usually involve items such as toys, household products, industrial machinery and equipment, farm machinery, tires and electronics. These types of claims can also involve faulty auto parts such as tires, airbags and brakes. When these types of products are defective they can cause a variety of physical injuries such as:
Burns – A victim of a defective product that suffers burn injuries can endure a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, both physically and mentally. Burn injuries range in severity from first degree burns to third degree burns which damage the innermost layer of skin and nerves. Fourth degree burns are the most serious as they can do a great deal of damage to underlying nerves as well as the skin to result in a loss of sensation, muscle and bone.
Bone fractures – Victims of accidents that were caused by defective products such as vehicle tires can easily suffer from broken bones. Often times, a broken bone suffered in a car crash is much more serious than one sustained in a fall or from a sporting accident. This is due to the forces acting upon a person who’s involved in a car accident. People who suffer bone fractures in auto accidents often need surgery which may involve hardware such as titanium screws which are necessary to secure the bones.
Eye injuries – Many types of accidents involving dangerous products can result in eye injuries that cause a victim to experience diminished eye sight or even blindness. To make matters even worse, knowing that a dangerous product is to blame for your vision loss can make dealing with what happened very difficult to say the least. Eye injury victims who experience vision loss often face extended time off from work or not being able to work at all due to the injuries they’ve sustained.
Head injuries – A head injury is any type of head trauma that leads to injuries of the scalp, skull or brain. The worst head injuries involve the brain and can result from dangerous products of all types ranging from defective brakes or airbags on cars to falls from heights due to faults in ladders or scaffolds. Many accident victims with traumatic brain injuries require around-the-clock care and supervision due to them suffering from cognitive impairment.
There are many other types of injuries victims of dangerous product accidents can suffer from including contusions, sprains, lacerations and hearing loss. If you’ve suffered some type of serious injury due to a dangerous product, you should speak to a personal injury attorney to find out if you have reason to file a claim.
Who Can Be Held Liable Injuries and Damages Suffered Due to Dangerous Products
If you’ve been injured due to a dangerous/defective product and wish to file a claim to recover damages, the first order of business is to identify who or what is responsible. Unfortunately, depending on the product, identifying all the parties that may be held responsible for your injuries can be challenging. You should however, with the help of your attorney, work to identify all the potential responsible parties as doing so will increase your chances of winning your case.
The general rule of thumb in identifying possible responsible parties is to consider any and all parties involved in the chain of distribution. In other words, you should consider any parties who were involved along the way on the path the injury-causing product took from the manufacturing stage to the distribution of the product to the consumer market. It’s important to keep in mind that there are often several parties responsible within each of the following categories:
Manufacturers – The chain of distribution naturally starts with the manufacturer of the product. The manufacturer of the injury-causing product could be a single individual working out of his/her home or a globally recognized brand name manufacturer. In the case that the product in question is a part of a larger product, it’s necessary to include both the manufacturer of the faulty product and the manufacturer of the whole product that contains the defective part. For example, if you were injured by a fire caused by an explosive motorcycle battery, you would file your claim against both the motorcycle manufacturer and the manufacturer of the battery.
Distributors and Retailers – Even though distributors and retailers are not responsible for the manufacturing of a product, they too can be held liable for injuries sustained due to a dangerous product. Usually, a manufacturer sells its product to a distributor or retailer who then makes the product available to consumers without making changes to the product’s original condition. However, many players in the product supply chain including distributors and retailers do sometimes make considerable changes to the original product before selling it to consumers. These changes can include the overall design of the product, additions to it as well as component parts, packaging, labeling and warnings.
As in other personal injury cases that involve negligence, if an injury victim of a faulty product proves his or her case, the manufacturer and/or other responsible parties may be held liable for damages related to the injuries caused by the said product. A claimant may be able to recover compensation for his or her:
- Medical expenses both past and future
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Loss of earning power and,
- Loss of consortium
In the case that a faulty product caused a death, the survivors of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties found liable for the product found to cause the death.
Each year, approximately 34 million people are injured or killed as a result of product-related accidents. Product liability claims benefit the injured victims by compensating them for the injuries they’ve sustained. These claims also put pressure on manufacturers and others to produce and distribute products which are safe to use. Even though no amount of money can truly compensate for a debilitating injury or for the loss of a loved one, bringing such cases to court does benefit future consumers by ensuring that they are not at risk for the same defect.