Products aren’t always put on the open market being completely safe to use. You may be able to get compensatory damages for your injuries with a product liability lawsuit.
Before making a claim, you should be aware of what product liability law entails and the different types of product liability suits.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability law pertains to the responsibilities that manufacturers and vendors have for selling defective or dangerous merchandise. If you’ve been harmed by merchandise that isn’t safe, you can take legal action against the parties that designed, created or sold the product.
Product liability laws are intended to be strict, holding the people who make products unreasonably dangerous accountable.
Types of Product Liability Lawsuits
There are three chief types of product liability lawsuits that your claim could fall under if a product injures you:
- Defectively-Manufactured Merchandise: Sometimes products wind up with defects during the manufacturing process. This can be unintentional such as a machinery malfunction causing a car accessory to not work as it was intended to, injuring the driver as a result. This unsafe merchandise is different from the safe versions of the same product available for sale. To have a valid manufacturing defect case, you would need to prove that your injuries were sustained as a result of the defect and not the way you used the product. Using the car accessory example, you would need to prove that your injury resulted from the accessory and not road conditions or your driving.
- Defectively-Designed Products: Unlike manufacturing defects, this type of claim implies that an entire line of merchandise is deemed unsafe. The product design itself is considered to be inherently defective or dangerous, whether this was intentional or not. For instance, a kitchenware manufacturer may design a blender that frequently unhitched the pitcher from the blades that slashes your hand in the course of normal use. The defective design needs to cause an accident. You can only make this type of claim if you can prove that the accident happened as a result of normal use opposed to carelessness.
- Failure to Provide Sufficient Safety Warnings: Certain products carry an inherent risk even if the product was properly designed with safety in mind, such as over-the-counter medications and power tools. Injuries resulting from using these products would merit a failure-to-warn claim if the danger of using the product is not obvious, or if precautions need to be taken when using the product and the manufacturer failed to provide a warning. If you buy a coffee machine that doesn’t tell you what areas are prone to overheating and where the steam valve is placed that could cause injury, this would be a failure to properly warn or instruct you how to safely use the machine.
Theories of Liability
If you have a valid claim, there are different theories of liability that your damages will be based on:
- Breach of Warranty: A warranty guarantees the product’s quality. An express warranty involves the seller making a specific representation about the product’s quality. An implied warranty can apply to a manufacturer or seller, promising the product is in working order and the advice on how to use it is correct. If the quality and advice are not what they claim to be, it can be a breach of warranty.
- Negligence: A manufacturer is negligent if they failed to pay heed to unsafe aspects of a product’s design or manufacturing process. The manufacturer needs to have owed the plaintiff a duty of care, breached it, and that breach caused the injury.
- Misrepresentation: If a seller makes false promises and communications that wind up causing injury to the buyer after relying on them, this is a misrepresentation. Damages are based on the false communication rather than any actual product defects.
- Strict Liability: Strict liability means that the seller, manufacturer, or distributor of a defective product is responsible for sustained injuries without needing to prove negligence (breaching duty of care.) Plaintiffs can seek damages from the business that sold the product or the manufacturer. The product needs to have an unreasonably dangerous defect, the defect caused injury as a result of intended use, and the product was not changed from the way it was at the sale.
If you or your loved ones have been harmed by a defective or malfunctioning product, you may want to consider a product liability claim. Contact GOM Law today for a free consultation so you know your rights.