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Over the years, defective products have injured and even killed countless people in the United States. Federal regulations and administrative agencies try to protect consumers from using potentially dangerous products, but sometimes that system simply is not enough.

When a consumer or patient receives a defective product that causes injury or worse, he or she has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. They may sue the manufacturer or seller of the defective item. Thousands of people file lawsuits every year (sometimes as mass torts or class actions) claiming companies put profits above public safety by designing defective products or failing to warn users of their risks.

Product liability is the law governing injuries people suffer from defective items. It can help injured people receive financial compensation for their suffering.

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury is an injury to a person’s mind or body. It concerns the area of law that known as tort law. A “tort” is an act or omission that results in injury or harm to another person. Negligence is one kind of tort.

The primary goal of tort law is to reimburse injured people for their injuries and losses, to hold those responsible liable, and prevent others from committing harmful acts. This occurs when money is paid to the injured person for past and future medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, physical and mental, among other potential categories of damages.

There are generally three categories of torts: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability torts. Tort law arises from state law – statutes and common law (judge-made law). It deals with everything from trucking accidents, to nursing home abuse, and product liability, which we discuss in this next section.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability is a type of personal injury case that deals specifically with injuries or harm caused by unsafe or defective products. Manufacturers and sellers have a legal obligation to sell safe products to the public.

With personal injury law in general, there is no federal law that regulates product liability. State laws affect how product liability cases can be determined.

All the parties along the chain of manufacturing may be held liable for a defective product that causes harm. This includes the manufacturer of the parts, the company that assembles the parts, the wholesaler, and the store that sells the defective product.

Our group has experience dealing with a wide range of product liability, including:

For a case to be brought, the seller must have sold a product that the plaintiff uses. The plaintiff must have then suffered an injury from the product. The item must have been defective at the time of sale with the defect being the leading cause of the plaintiff’s injury

Types of Product Liability Defects

The types of product defects that can be brought against a manufacturer or supplier are design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing.

Design defects are issues that are present at the design stage of the product’s life. This means there is a problem with the product before it is even put into production. The item may adequately serve its designed purpose but may also carry a fatal flaw that causes unexpected injuries.

An example would be a structurally unstable dresser that tips over when a drawer is open too far.

Manufacturing Defects

This type of defect occurs at the manufacturing stage of the product. The product may have been effectively and safely designed, but a problem during the construction of the item caused it to become unsafe. Sometimes only specific batches of the item are affected by the defect.

One example would be a children’s swing set that was manufactured with a crack in the chain.

Defects In Marketing

Marketing defects deal with a failure to provide warnings and instructions about the proper use of the item. It might not always be obvious that a product is dangerous when used in a certain manner.

For example, there may be a rocking chair with a maximum weight limit of 200 pounds, but the instruction manual did not inform the consumer.

Product Liability vs. Other Types of Personal Injury

In nearly all types of personal injury cases, the plaintiff must show that the defendant did not act in a manner that a reasonable person would. However, a product liability case is different because it is considered a strict liability offense.

Strict liability does not require the defendant to meet a certain level of care to be held accountable. Most states shied away from negligence rules in product liability after plaintiffs could not win cases. It was too hard to prove that a manufacturer acted in a way that was below what was expected.

Strict liability means it is easier to win a case because a plaintiff must only show that the item was defectively designed, made, or marketed. It does not matter if the manufacturer exercised great care when making the product. If the plaintiff was properly using the item for its intended purpose and suffered an injury, the manufacturer could be held liable.

The particulars for defective device cases differ by state. The common elements that must be proven in a defective device lawsuit include:

  • The device caused an injury
  • The device was already defective when bought by the plaintiff
  • The device was expected to not require any changes before being bought
  • The device was used for its intended purpose
  • The device injured the plaintiff or the device damaged property owned by the plaintiff

How Product Liability Lawyers Can Help

Product liability cases can be complicated and time-consuming.

Tort law is a very specialized field that takes time to learn and understand, thanks to all the different laws and statutes in each state. A personal injury lawyer can help victims of defective products gather all the necessary documentation and evidence needed to prove their case in a court of law.

Those who think they have been injured by a defective product should contact a qualified attorney to learn more about whether they have a case.