Demystifying Product Liability and Slip and Fall vs. Trip and Fall

Product liability law refers to the legal rules that concern parties who are responsible for dangerous or defective products. Product liability refers to a situation where a seller or manufacturer is held liable for distributing defective products to consumers. All sellers in a distribution chain bear the responsibility for any product defect that leads to injury or damage. The law requires a product to satisfy the expectations of consumers. Whenever a product has an unexpected danger or defect, the product is said to have fallen short of the customer’s expectations. Product liability claims are made based on negligence, breach of warranty, or strict liability. Furthermore, each state has commercial statutes based on the Uniform Commercial Code and which have warranty rules that affect product liability.

Responsible Parties in a Product Liability Case

Responsibility for the defect of a product can rest with anyone in a product’s distribution chain such as:

  • Retail store and wholesaler that distributes the product;
  • Any party involved in assembling or installing the product;
  • A manufacturer of the core parts of the product;
  • A manufacturer of the final product;

Type of Product Defects

The three types of errors that are likely to cause injury giving rise to supplier or manufacturer liability are as follows:

  • Design Defects: These errors exist in a product from its inception even before its manufacture, and this means that something in the product’s design is defective.
  • Manufacturing Defects: These errors occur during assembling or manufacturing a product.
  • Marketing Defects: These are flaws in the commercialization of a product. These include insufficient instructions, improper labeling, and inadequate safety warnings.

Proving Fault in a case of Product Liability

The doctrine referred to as “res ipsa loquitur” in a product liability case gives the accused party(s) the burden of proof responsibility. The translation of this term is “the thing speaks for itself,” which indicates that the defect exists because of someone’s negligence. When the doctrine is invoked successfully, there is no longer any need for the plaintiff to prove the negligence of the accused party. Rather, the accused party should demonstrate that they are not negligent.

The second basis of proving fault in cases of product liability is through strict liability. Where strict liability applies, the plaintiff should not demonstrate the negligence of a manufacturer. They are only required to show the defects of the product. By eliminating the no-fault or strict liability concept, a plaintiff can recover in cases where they might have not succeeded.

Differentiating between Slip and Fall and Trip and Fall Accidents

The National Safety Council considers fall as one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the U.S. resulting in up to 8.9 million emergency room admissions.

Although they appear to be the same, making the wrong claim is likely to ruin your chances for compensation. Therefore, it necessary to determine whether you slipped and fell or tripped and fell. Your lawyer can help you in making the appropriate claim given the circumstances of your accident and your injuries.

Property owners are mainly liable for injuries sustained on the property especially if the owner was aware of the danger at the time the accident occurred. Dangerous conditions like poor lighting, torn carpeting, wet floors, hidden hazards, and cracked sidewalks are the leading causes of slip and fall and trip and fall accidents.

The difference is that with slip and fall accidents, one loses their balance because there is a lack of friction between the shoes and the walking surface. In many cases, the person involved falls backward.

The injuries resulting from slip and fall accidents include hip injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, herniated disk injuries, and back of the head injuries.

With trip and fall accidents, your foot or body hits against something causing you to lose balance and fall. In many cases, the affected person falls forward. The injuries sustained from a trip and fall includes knee and elbow injuries, fractures to the arms and hands, and injuries to the front of the head and face.

Proving Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Cases

In both slip and fall, and trip and fall cases, you are required to prove four elements to succeed in your claim:

Duty

This means that the occupier or owner of the premises is responsible for maintaining the facilities and addressing any conditions that are likely to cause harm. The plaintiff has to prove the defendant’s owed duty.

Notice

The occupier or owner of any premises is required to adhere to industry practices regarding inspection, hazard prevention, and maintenance procedures. If an occupant or owner is shown to have deviated from these standards, the plaintiff can prove improper premises management and actual notice can be established.

Dangerous Condition

The plaintiff has to show that the defendant was aware or should have been conscious of the hazardous conditions on the premises. Furthermore, the plaintiff should prove that the accused should have dealt with the dangerous situation, but they did not thus create a hazard that caused the injury.

Damages

The plaintiff must prove that the dangerous conditions caused their injuries. In other words, the plaintiff must show how the fall and landing caused the injuries they are contesting.

What to Do If You are Involved in a Product Liability, Slip, and Fall or Trip and Fall Accident

  • Take pictures: Pictures of the or an accident scene are necessary to prove cause or negligence. Ensure you capture spills, adjacent items or objects that may have caused the fall.
  • Take note of witnesses and try to get their contact information: In most cases, the details of an incident or accident may not be clear because it occurs unexpectedly. Witnesses can help you prove the circumstances surrounding your incident or accident.
  • Seek help: Visit a doctor as soon as you are injured. When time elapses between the crash and an examination, it becomes difficult to prove the injuries were a direct result of a defective product or a fall.

Call a lawyer: It is important to involve counsel in the initial stages of your injuries so that he/she may begin to collect information necessary for legal action. Furnish the attorney with all relevant information including documents, pictures, witness information and reports, as they may be helpful in building a strong case.