Have you been injured by a household product, toy, medical device, or cooking appliance? Maybe you were injured in a car wreck because of a problem with the car itself, such as a seat belt or tire issue?
If you believe you were injured because of a defective product or device, you may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer and potentially even against a retailer and/or distributor.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims typically fall under one of four broad categories: defective design, manufacturing defect, failure to properly warn, or marketing defect.
- Defective design. A product with a defective design is designed in a way that makes it dangerous even when it is being used properly. For example, a car that tends to flip over when turning tight corners is unsafe no matter who is driving it.
- Manufacturing defect. Some products are generally safe to use, but an error in the manufacturing process creates a small number of products that are different from others on the shelf. For example, a swing set built with a cracked chain could harm a child, while swing sets that were manufactured correctly have no safety issues. The manufacturing defect that caused the cracked chain is at the heart of the product liability claim.
- Failure to properly warn. Consumers purchased an item and were not adequately warned about how to use it safely. For example, over-the-counter medications are required to have warnings about their safe use. A brand of cough syrup that doesn’t warn the user it can cause dangerous heart complications when taken with acetaminophen would be unacceptable.
- Marketing defect. A marketing defect means that the company advertised a product for a purpose for which it is clearly unsuitable. For example, a toy that contains small pieces and presents a choking hazard should not be advertised as being suitable for infants or toddlers.
Possible Defenses in a Product Liability Case
The type of defense a manufacturer will use in a product liability claim depends on the specific circumstances of the case, but there are several common defenses you should be aware of if you are seeking damages related to a defective product.
- The plaintiff’s injuries or damages were not caused by the product. To win a product liability claim, you must be able to prove that your damages were caused by the defective product. If the manufacturer can cast doubt on the cause of your damages, this can prevent the company from being held financially responsible.
- The plaintiff was negligent. This type of defense asserts that the plaintiff used the product in a way that was not intended and couldn’t have been reasonably predicted by the company.
- The plaintiff assumed the risk. A variation of the comparative negligence defense, this defense argues that the plaintiff knew the product could be dangerous and chose to use it anyway.
- The warranty does not apply. This defense is not typically used when a consumer simply purchased a product at a store instead of directly from the manufacturer but can be an issue when a plaintiff “disclaimed” the warranty by agreeing at the time of purchase that the terms of the warranty did not apply.
How to Protect Your Right to Compensation
When a company sells a product, they are asserting that their product is safe to use. When dealing with a situation in which you or a loved one has been injured by a product, it is important to know which of the product liability claims to file.
Working with an attorney who is familiar with product liability law is the best way to protect your right to compensation for medical expense, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering. Manufacturers have access to top-notch legal teams, which means you need someone who can aggressively advocate for your interests throughout the settlement process.
Foster Wallace is committed to helping individuals who have been harmed by defective products of all types receive the compensation they deserve. Call today to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.