Product liability refers to the legal responsibility of a manufacturer or seller for any injuries or damages caused by a product they produce or sell. Defective product liability, on the other hand, refers to a specific type of product liability where the product in question is deemed defective and poses a danger to consumers. This type of liability holds the manufacturer or seller accountable for the harm caused by their product, regardless of whether they were negligent or intentionally caused harm. Defective product liability covers a wide range of products, including but not limited to, vehicles, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and household appliances. In this article, we will explore what defective product liability is, the types of defects that can trigger liability, and the legal principles that govern this area of law. Our San Diego personal injury lawyers will also discuss the steps consumers can take if they have been injured by a defective product and the remedies available to them.
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Eye-Opening Product Injury Statistics You Should Know
Product-related injuries can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. They may occur while using a toy, a piece of furniture, or even playground equipment. The statistics on product injuries can be quite alarming:
- 107,500 ATV-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in the United States in 2011
- 265,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2012
- 43,400 emergency room-treated injuries were related to the instability of televisions, furniture, and appliances between 2008-2010
- Over 200,000 children receive emergency room or walk-in clinic treatment annually for injuries sustained while using playground equipment
These numbers serve as a reminder of the importance of product safety and the need for manufacturers to take responsibility for ensuring their products are designed and manufactured to be safe for consumers.
Understanding Your Rights if You’ve Been Injured by a Product
When an organization creates and sells a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that the product is safe for consumers. This responsibility includes the manufacturer, designer, distributor, wholesaler, and seller of the product. When they fail to do so and their failure results in injury or death, the victim or their family has the right to sue for damages. It’s important to note that consumers aren’t just limited to the product purchasers; they include the product users and even bystanders in the general public.
Product liability cases are typically built on one of three general theories of liability: negligence, warranty, and strict liability. Negligence claims are based on the idea that the manufacturer or seller failed to exercise the proper level of care in the design, production, or sale of the product. Warranty claims arise when the manufacturer or seller has breached an express or implied warranty regarding the safety or performance of the product. Strict liability claims, on the other hand, hold the manufacturer or seller responsible for any injuries or damages caused by a product, regardless of their level of care or intent.
In some cases, intentional bad behavior claims can also be added to a product liability lawsuit. These claims typically involve fraud and violations of state unfair competition laws. If you have been injured by a product, it’s important to consult with a product liability lawyer who can help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action.
Understanding Negligence Claims in Product Liability Cases
Manufacturers and all other parties involved in the distribution chain have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care when creating, distributing, and selling a product. Specifically, they must ensure that the product they release is safe and free from defects. Defects can arise from various sources, including the design, manufacture, packaging, or labeling of a product. Negligence can also occur when manufacturers fail to properly test or inspect the final product before it is released or neglect to attach a proper warning label.
In product liability cases, a negligence claim can be filed against a manufacturer or seller who failed to exercise reasonable care. This means that the victim or plaintiff must prove that the manufacturer or seller breached their duty of care and that the breach caused the victim’s injury. This can be done by demonstrating that the manufacturer knew or should have known that the product was dangerous, yet failed to take appropriate steps to ensure its safety.
If you have been injured by a defective product, it’s important to understand your legal options. A product liability lawyer can help you determine if you have a viable negligence claim and guide you through the legal process to seek compensation for your damages.
Understanding Warranty Claims in Product Liability Cases
In product liability cases, a warranty claim can be filed against a manufacturer or seller who breaches an express or implied warranty. Express warranties are created by promises or affirmations of fact, while implied warranties cover common-sense expectations and public policy goals. There are two types of implied warranties: merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The warranty of merchantability means the product is generally fit for ordinary use, while the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose applies when the seller knows the intended use and the buyer is relying on the seller’s expertise. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, consult with a product liability lawyer to understand your rights and options.
Understanding Strict Liability Claims in Product Liability Cases
In product liability cases, strict liability claims can be filed against a manufacturer or seller who knowingly puts a defective product on the market that causes injury to a person. The second requirement is that the manufacturer must know that the product is likely to be used without inspection for defects. Strict liability is a legal concept that seeks to prevent manufacturers and others in the distribution chain from releasing defective products onto the market and endangering unsuspecting consumers. If you’ve been harmed by a defective product, it’s important to seek legal counsel to understand your rights and options.
Fraud and Unfair Competition Claims in Product Liability Cases
In California, manufacturers and sellers can be held liable for fraud and deceit if they deceive buyers. The state also has an Unfair Competition Law that imposes liability on manufacturers and sellers who engage in deceitful, deceptive, or untrue business practices or violate other state laws. Such intentional acts may lead to punitive damages, which is a form of punishment. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or unfair competition in a product liability case, it is recommended that you consult with a product liability lawyer to understand your legal options.
Common Areas Where Defective Products Can Cause Harm
Defective products can cause serious harm to consumers, sometimes resulting in injury or even death. The types of products that can be defective and cause harm are numerous. Some common areas where defective products can cause harm include:
- Children’s toys
- Medical devices
- Televisions, kitchen appliances, and furniture
- Cribs and strollers
- Pharmaceutical (drug) products
- Lead paint products
- Auto design liability
- Defective drugs
- Industrial machines and equipment
- Farm machines and equipment
If you have been harmed by a defective product, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. A product liability lawyer can help you determine if you have a viable case and guide you through the legal process to seek compensation for your damages.
The Importance of Contacting a Product Liability Lawyer
Product liability cases can be complex and involve multiple parties, including manufacturers and subcontractors located both domestically and internationally. To prove your case, you may need to tie your injuries or harm directly to the product and not other activities. It’s important to seek help from a qualified product liability lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
An experienced product liability lawyer can work with engineers, medical professionals, and other experts to build a strong case on your behalf. They can also help preserve evidence and start an independent investigation to uncover all possible sources of liability. If you have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, a product liability lawyer can help you hold the responsible company accountable and obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us immediately to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.