4 Things to Know Before Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit
If you have sustained injuries from a dangerous or defective product, you can recover compensation for the injuries you have sustained. It is important to understand the meaning of product liability before you make a claim for damages caused by a manufacturer’s product. It is equally important to know the three top types of product liability lawsuits namely defectively manufactured products, defectively designed products, and failure to give sufficient warning. You should be able to differentiate these lawsuits to make an appropriate claim. Under all of these lawsuits, you also need to understand the theories for obtaining damages: breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, and misrepresentation. The following paper will review these four areas in sufficient detail.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability is the responsibility of a vendor or manufacturer of goods to award compensation for injuries caused by defective or dangerous merchandise that was availed for sale. If you are harmed by unsafe merchandise, you can take action against the one who designed, created, or sold the product. The law of product liability in the U.S. is meant for consumer protection and has changed from “let the buyer beware” to the concept of strict liability for product defects that make merchandise unreasonably dangerous.
Types of Product Liability Law Suits
Defectively Manufactured Merchandise
A defective product is flawed due to some error in its creation process, like a problem at the workshop where it was produced. The result is that the injury causing merchandise is different from the other products displayed on the shelf. Examples of manufacturing defects include:
- A moped without brake pads.
- A cough syrup that contains a poisonous substance.
In each of these cases, the injury results from a manufacturing defect. Consider a scenario where you wrongly judge a curve and veer off the road, and eventually sustained injuries while riding a moped that does not have brake pads. You can only make a manufacturing defect claim by showing that the accident was caused by the lack of brake pads and not by your poor steering.
Defectively Designed Products
In this kind of product liability, the design of a product is inherently defective or dangerous. Defective design claims are not caused by some mishap or error in manufacturing. They involve a claim that a whole line of merchandise is inherently dangerous.
Examples of design defects include:
- A brand of sunglasses that does not protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- A motor vehicle brand that is capable of flipping over when turning a corner.
In this case, the defective design of the product should be the cause of the accident. Consider a scenario where you crash into another automobile when driving the flip-prone vehicles mentioned above. You can only make a claim of design defect if you can prove that the accident occurred because the vehicle was about to flip over while you were turning.
Failure to Provide Sufficient Warning
Failure to warn lawsuits involves merchandise that is dangerous in a way that is not obvious to you or that requires you to observe proper diligence or precaution when using it.
Examples of failure to warn lawsuits include:
A cough syrup without a label warning you about the side effects it can have when combined with other drugs
An electric kettle package without a label warning you about its improperly positioned steam valve
In these cases, to succeed in a claim, the accident must be a direct result of the failure to properly instruct or warn. Consider a scenario where you are burned when using the electric kettle mentioned above. The only time you would pursue a failure to warn claim is if you sustained burns due to the improperly positioned steam valve.
Comparing the 3 Types of Product Liability Law Suits
Pharmaceutical drugs are ideal for differentiating product liability claims. Consider a scenario where you are injured because a bottle of cough syrup you purchased accidentally contained a small amount of arsenic that accidentally fell into the bottle at the manufacturing industry. In this case, you shall make your claim on the grounds of manufacturing defect.
By comparison, if you take the same uncompromised cough syrup and suffer from a heart attack due to its normal contents, you shall make your claim on the grounds of a design defect.
Finally, consider a scenario where the cough syrup was manufactured correctly and is safe to use. When you combine the syrup with aspirin and sustain injuries because the label did not warn you that combining it with other drugs was dangerous, you shall make your claim on the grounds of failure to warn.
Theories of Liability
Breach of Warranty
A warranty is a kind of guarantee by a seller regarding a product’s quality. A warranty can be either express or implied. An express warranty is where the seller makes a specific representation about a product’s quality. If the quality of a product falls short of the seller’s representation, the seller might be held liable for breaching an express warranty.
Implied warranties are divided into two:
- Implied warranty of merchantability: An implied warranty of merchantability means that the manufacturer promises the consumer that the merchandise sold is in good working condition and will perform as it supposed to.
- Implied warranty of fitness: It means that the seller promises the consumer that their advice on how to use the product is correct.
You can make a claim for product liability based on a breach of warranty when a product falls short of the seller’s express or implied warranties and results in your injuries.
Negligence means that a manufacturer fails to pay attention to destructive or dangerous elements of a product resulting in a consumer’s injuries. The basic elements required to show negligence include:
- The manufacturer owes a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The manufacturer breaches their duty of care to the plaintiff
- The breach of duty of care is the main cause of the plaintiff’s injury
- The plaintiff was injured because the manufacturer was negligent
A person who relies on information conveyed by a seller and is harmed by relying on such information can recover for such a misrepresentation. The basis for recovery depends on the false communication and not on the product’s defect.
Strict liability is a legal concept whereby a seller, manufacturer, or distributor of a defective product is responsible for the injuries of a buyer or consumer of the product without the need to prove negligence.
In case you are injured after using a product, you can claim compensation from the business that sold it or the person who manufactured it. The conditions that need to be satisfied to pursue a claim under strict liability are as follows:
- The product should have an unreasonably dangerous defect that caused your injuries
- The product’s defect injured you while you were using it the way it was meant to be used
- The product’s condition has not been changed from the way it was when it was sold to you
At Law Offices of Vastola & Associates., we understand how important to make the right steps when filing a product liability lawsuit. Contact us for a free consultation.