If a product caused an injury to you even though you were using it in the way it was intended, then you have grounds for a product liability case. A product liability is generally very straightforward but there can be complications that you need to know about before you file one. If you do decide to file a defective product case, then you will need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The reason is that you will likely be going up against a big company or corporation and they will have an army of lawyers to take you on. By retaining an attorney of your own, you can even the playing field. That can give you a better chance of getting the compensation you need to take care of any injuries caused by the defective product. So be sure to contact an attorney if you are going to pursue a personal injury lawsuit because a defective product injured you.
The Different Types of Product Defects
Normally when a product does not work as intended, you would simply return it for a refund or an exchange. However, when a product fails catastrophically enough to cause an injury, then a product liability case is in order. Product liability is a subset of the broader category of personal injury, which is why you need a personal injury attorney to help you.The following are some of the more common types of product defects:
Defect in Design – This is when a design is flawed from the beginning and has a high chance of causing a problem even when used as intended. For example, at one time three-wheeled ATVs were common, but they were eventually phased out because they were perceived to be less stable, and more dangerous than four-wheeled ATVs.
Defect in Manufacturing – This is when a flaw in the manufacturing process creates a defect that could cause harm to people. A recent example of this is the Takata airbag recall where the airbags could explode and cause injury or death if they were exposed to heat or humidity for a long time.
Defect in Warning – If a product has inadequate warnings, or no warnings at all, regarding its use, then the manufacturer could be held liable for any injuries caused by the use of said product.
These are the most common types of product defects but there are others. A product could get damaged while being transported or while being put on display, in which case it is the store or transportation company that could be held liable for any injuries caused by the product.
Liability For Product Defects
Any entity in the manufacture and distribution chain of the product could potentially be liable for a product defect. It all depends on where the defect occurred. That is one of the reasons why product defect cases can be so tricky, because it can sometimes be difficult to know where the defect happened. Nonetheless, the liability for a defective product could lie with any of the following parties:
- The manufacturer of the product
- A manufacturer that makes component parts for the product
- The party responsible for assembling or installing the product
- The wholesaler that distributes the product to retailers
- The retail store that sold the product
You should note that only a party that sells a product as part of their regular business can be held liable for any defects that occur. That means if you buy a product from a garage sale or a pawn shop, then the seller cannot be held liable for any defects in the product.
Proving Product Liability
In most product liability cases, it is up to the plaintiff— the person who was injured— to prove that the defendant— the party responsible for the product defect— was negligent in their handling of the defective product. The reason is that product liability is a subset of personal injury law, which is all about how negligence is the cause of a person’s injury.
There are some cases where the burden of proof is shifted to the defendant, which means that it is up to the defendant to prove that they were not negligent in their handling of the defective product. There are also strict liability cases where the plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant was negligent, but simply that the product was defective; this makes it a lot easier for the plaintiff and gives them a better chance of getting the compensation that they need.
Product Liability Exceptions
Some products are unavoidably unsafe and cannot be made safer because they would not be useful. Kitchen knives, scissors, and lawnmower blades are just a few of the more obvious examples of products that need to be sharp in order to be useful. If a person is hurt when using those kinds of products and the products are not defective, and their potential danger is clearly indicated, then that person does not have grounds for a product liability claim.
Contact an Attorney If You Have Been Injured by a Defective Product
There is a lot to know about product liability, which means that if you get injured by a product you may be unsure as to whether it counts as a product liability case or not. The best way to be sure is by contacting a personal injury attorney so that you can get their opinion and advice. If you have a valid case, then your attorney can help you to identify the party responsible for the defect and hold them accountable so that you can get the compensation that you need..