When we buy and use everyday products ranging from household appliances to cars, we expect them to work as intended. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a defective product, you may have a product liability claim. Injuries caused by faulty products could range from minor to catastrophic or even fatal.
Types of Product Liability Claims
While there may be a number of different types of product liability cases, they largely fall into three categories:
Manufacturing defects: This is the most common and obvious type of product liability claim when the product that causes the injury was defectively manufactured. A product that has a manufacturing defect is faulty because a mistake occurred in the manufacturing process. It could have, for example, occurred at a factory where the product was fabricated. Examples of a product with a manufacturing defect include:
- An elevator with a defectively manufactured pulley system that causes the car to collapse or fall injuring passengers.
- A vehicle with a missing steering part that causes loss of vehicle control.
- A bicycle with a defectively manufactured steering bar that causes the bicyclist to lose control.
- Children's jewelry or toys containing unacceptable levels of lead, which could be toxic.
In such cases, in order to file a product liability claim, the injury must be caused by a manufacturing defect. So, for example, if your vehicle veered off the roadway because of a faulty steering, you would have a product liability claim only if you can show evidence that your accident and resulting injuries were caused by the steering defect, not because of a mistake you made.
Defective design: In these cases, a product's design is inherently dangerous or defective. So, these types of product liability claims don't arise from some mistake during the manufacturing process, but rather involve the claim that an entire line of products is inherently dangerous irrespective of the fact that the product that caused the injury was made perfectly according to the manufacturer's specifications.
Here are some of the most common examples of design defects:
- A pelvic mesh device that disintegrates inside the body and damages internal organs because of its poor design.
- A poorly designed SUV that has the tendency to roll over when the driver takes a curve.
- A badly designed coffee maker that sprays hot liquid on users causing burn injuries.
- An inclined sleeper that could cause children to accidentally suffocate as a result of defective design.
In order to have a valid product liability claim, the injury must have been caused by faulty design that makes the product inherently dangerous. For example, if you use a product in a manner that it was not intended to be used, you may not have a claim. You must be able to show evidence that the product was defectively designed.
Failure to warn: The other type of product liability claim involves a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product's proper use. These types of claims often involve a product that is dangerous in a way that is not apparent to consumers. In some cases, these might involve products that require consumers to use special precautions while using them. Here are a few examples of situations that could result in a failure-to-warn claim:
- Child car seats and booster seats should come with specific instructions about proper installation failing which the seat may not properly protect the child.
- A sleeping pill that does not include on its label a warning that it may potentially cause dangerous side effects.
- Toys that don't have warning labels, which could cause serious injuries.
As with other product liability claims, for the claim to be successful, the plaintiff must prove that the injury resulted from a failure to warn or properly instruct.
What to Do If a Defective Product Has Injured You
The strength of your product liability lawsuit depends largely on the actions you take after you have been injured by a defective product. First, it's important to seek prompt medical attention, treatment and care. If you have been injured by what you suspect may be a defective product, go to the emergency room or hospital right away. It is crucial that you have a record of the injury you sustained and the treatment you received for it.
Report the accident to the manufacturer and make sure you get a copy of the report for your records. Never give a verbal or written statement before you speak with a product defect attorney. If you are injured by a defective product at work, report the accident to your employer and/or supervisor and contact your insurance company.
It is also important that you compile the necessary evidence that could help bolster your claim. Take photos of the defective product or images that show that the product had malfunctioned. Also take photos of the injuries you have suffered. It is also important, if possible, to preserve the product that caused your injury in its current state so it can be carefully examined for manufacturing defects, faulty design and other evidence. For example, if you were involved in a car accident where you suspect a product defect, do not repair your vehicle until it has been thoroughly examined by an expert for evidence.
Resist the urge to share your experience on social media. What you post on social media or online can be used by you. Do not sign an agreement with the manufacturer or accept a settlement offer unless you've discussed the matter with your product liability lawyer. Once you've signed an agreement, you may not be able to recover any further compensation for your losses.
Experienced Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, you may be eligible to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, permanent injuries, disabilities, and pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
In addition to compensatory damages, injured victims may also be awarded punitive damages, which are typically awarded in the most egregious cases – such as those where a manufacturer knew about the dangers the product posed, but did not warn consumers. Call the experienced Los Angeles product liability attorneys at Greenberg and Ruby to find out how we can fight to help you receive maximum compensation for your losses.