Imagine carrying a newborn in an infant carrier, and suddenly the locked handle gives way and the newborn, buckled in or not, falls to the ground in the infant carrier. A defective product like this could result in a serious head, neck, spinal cord or other injury for your baby, leaving you with a new pile of medical expenses you never asked for.
In cases like this, it’s appropriate to contact a product liability attorney for help obtaining the appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries or those of a loved one.
When you purchase a product from the store, you have the right as a consumer to expect your item to be fully functional in the way it was intended to be used. It was purchased to benefit you, not harm you. However, with tens of thousands of claims filed each year, product liability is a major area of concern. It’s important to know exactly what it is, which components need to be met to validate a claim and how to prove all necessary components.
What is “Product Liability?”
Product liability is a legal obligation in which manufacturers, distributors, designers and retailers alike all take responsibility of supplying a product that will not inflict injuries or harm on the consumer. When this obligation isn’t met, the consumer is affected and has the right to make a product liability claim to earn compensation for the physical or emotional distress. However, before going through with filing a claim, you will want to consult with a product liability attorney to outline your case and determine if you meet all the criteria for earning compensation for your damages.
Do I Have a Product Liability Case?
The best way to know for sure if you or a loved one fell victim to product liability is to consult with an attorney who specializes in personal injury from product liability. As a plaintiff, you carry the duty of providing proof of four components.
Proof of Injury or Suffering
Even if you were close to third degree burns or stitches from your item, you don’t automatically have a case. For example, if your garage door suddenly collapsed while you were cleaning out the garage, and you ran out of the way just in time, you would lack the necessary injury for a product liability claim. Because of this necessity, it’s important to immediately document your damages through photographs, documentation from a medical expert, X-rays, etc.
Proof of Defective Product
Proving the product is defective can be simple or difficult, depending on which claim you are filing against the seller.
- Manufacturing Error
A manufacturing error means the manufacturer who assembled the item did so incorrectly, causing an injury. If the garage door mentioned in the previous paragraph was missing a spring or had a broken belt-drive, proving the door was defective would be fairly simple.
- Design Defect
The burden of proof is a little heavier if you want to claim a defect in the product’s design. What a design defect means is that the item was assembled correctly, but the design causes harm. An example of a design defect is a newly renovated car model that is incapable of safely turning at sharp corners, leading to a major accident. When your car is towed to the mechanic, he says the car was manufactured properly according to its design. So, how can you prove the design is dangerous and all models of that kind should be recalled? Consult with a seasoned product liability attorney who can assist you with finding ways to prove a design defect.
- Failure to Warn
If the product is not defective, but the directions did not heed a crucial warning that resulted in your injury, you will want to claim an offense for failure to warn. In these cases, liability depends on whether or not the directions or warnings provided by the seller were sufficient. Did your hair catch on fire from cooking pasta in the kitchen because it was attracted to your hairspray? Most hairspray bottles have a clear warning about its high flammability, which means your chance at winning your case is rather low.
Proof That Injury Was Caused by Product
Just because you were injured while using the item, you don’t always have a case for product liability. Proving the product caused a specific injury can be tricky. This is because manufacturer’s can attest that an outside factor caused the injury. For example, if you are claiming your motorcycle flipped while turning a corner, but there is evidence you were speeding while making the turn, the court may decide that the injury was caused by your recklessness rather than the manufacturer or designer.
Proof That Product Was Used the Way It Was Intended
Were you using the item the way it was intended? It seems obvious, but in many cases, plaintiffs lose a court case because they simply were using the product incorrectly or for reasons it was not designed. Manufacturer’s must only provide a safe product when it’s used for the correct purposes. If you use a household candle in the kitchen to roast a marshmallow for s’mores, causing your marshmallow to catch on fire and giving your finger a third degree burn, you likely won’t earn any compensation for your injury.
Making sure that your defective product claim includes all of the basic elements required in your state may be tricky. Depending on your case, you will likely wish to consult with a lawyer who specializes in products liability.
Make Safety the Responsibility of the Product Manufacturer
Enough is enough. Manufacturers will no longer be able to rush items out the door without proper safety testing if you do your part to hold them accountable. At the same time, we will help alleviate your stress over your injuries and put your mind at ease over rising medical bills. When you contact the defective product lawyers at W.T. Johnson for help with product liability, you are putting yourself in charge — and we are right there with you.