Each year, many U.S. citizens are injured because of products they used that might have had defects. You may have even heard of some of these cases in the news. For instance, in 2011, a New Jersey lawsuit over severed fingers lead to a U.S. Supreme Court case on product liability. A man was operating a shearing machine when his right hand slipped forward and caught in the device, slicing through four of his fingers. The man sued the product manufacturer due to the machine’s safety guard allegedly being ‘inadequate’ and causing his accident to occur. But it isn’t just this case – every year, many cases are seen due to defective products.
The Three Categories of Product Liability
- Defectively Manufactured Products: These products are flawed due to some error in the making of them. This can include a problem that occurred at the factory where it was initially fabricated. Examples may include a swing set that has a cracked chain or a moped missing brake pads. The injury must have been caused by the manufacturing defect to have a case.
- Defectively Designed Products: These involve the claim that an entire line of products is inherently dangerous, regardless of the fact that the injury-causing product was perfectly made according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The injury must have been caused by the defective design involved in the product and nothing else.
- Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions: This involves a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product’s proper usage. These usually involve a product that is dangerous in some way that isn’t obvious to the user or requires a person to use special precautions or diligence when using it.
Elements of a Claim
Furthermore, there are typically four elements involved in product liability claims. It is always helpful to be familiar with what the law requires you to prove in order to win your case, which can actually vary from state to state. Here are the following elements in order to win:
- You Were Injured or Suffered Losses: You must have an actual injury or monetary loss as a critical element for a product liability claim. Many things may have almost happened to you but may not have. Take for example a tea kettle that explodes due to a hairline crack in its base, but you jump out of way just in time to miss the scalding hot water. Since you didn’t actually receive third-degree burns from it, you will not have a claim.
- The Product is Defective: It may be easy or difficult to prove that the product that injured you is defective. This may include errors with the manufacturing of the product, a design defect that made the product unreasonably dangerous, or a failure to warn that did not include a warning of the hazard at hand.
- The Defect Caused Your Injury: It may not be so easy to prove that the defect in the product caused your injury. For instance, you may have been driving a car that is prone to flipping, but your accident proved that you were speeding at the time of the event. It could be argued that the manufacturer is not responsible, but that you may be because of your reckless driving at the time.
- You Were Using the Product as It Was Intended: You must have been using the product in a way that the manufacturer intended all consumers to use it. This does not always have to conform perfectly to the manufacturer’s specifications, but pretty close.
If you believe that you have a product liability claim, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney. Product liability law can be quite complex and confusing, and many elements must be proven for the case to actually exist in the first place. Call WTW today to see where you stand.