Every year, thousands of needless injuries and wrongful deaths are caused by defective products. These claims typically arise when manufacturers fail to install or supply appropriate safety devices with or as part of the product, fail to give adequate warnings or instructions for safe usage, or fail to design a product in a way that it can be used safely for its intended use by the consumer.
Product liability is the area of law that holds manufacturers and sellers/resellers accountable for selling a product with a dangerous defect that ends up causing an injury. According to law, responsibility for a defective product can potentially involve every party in the chain of distribution, including the manufacturer, the distributor, the marketer, the wholesaler, and even the retail store where the product was sold.
Some examples of such products include defective tires or wheels, dangerous baby toys, car seats and cribs, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and industrial machinery. A brief summary of the law which governs such cases is outlined below.
Causes of Defective Product Injuries
Defective products can cause injuries in several different ways, depending on the type of product and the nature of the defect. However, all product liability cases are rooted in three basic types of errors:
- Design defects – A product should be designed so it is safe when used in its intended manner. For example, the gas tank of the Ford Pinto was not properly insulated from impact during rear-end collisions, leading to several cases of explosions from when the car was hit from behind in a rear-end collision.
- Manufacturing defects – The design of a product may be safe, but mistakes during the manufacturing process can lead to defect(s) in the product’s construction, causing it to not work properly and become dangerous. For example, the toy company Mattel recently recalled several products because unsafe amounts of lead were used in the toys’ paint, which if consumed by the child was toxic.
- Inadequate warnings – When products are sold to customers, they should come with proper instructions informing the customer how to use the product safely and what the potential dangers/risks are from use. If there are any inherent dangers, hazards, or side effects, the product should come with sufficient warnings to prevent improper use. For example, a pharmaceutical company may fail to warn about a drug’s potential side effects or contraindications, which leads to further illness or even death, that had the user known, they would not have taken the drug.
Examples of Defective Products
Virtually any type of product can be defective, but some of the most common defective products that lead to injuries include:
- Household appliances or tools (e.g. smoke alarms and space heaters)
- Automobiles and automobile parts (e.g. airbags, tires, brakes, seatbelts)
- Children’s products (e.g. toys, cribs, strollers, child car seats)
- Food and food additives
- Gas grills
- Industrial machinery and power tools
- Medicine, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs
- Medical devices (e.g. heart valves, defibrillators, hip and joint replacement systems)
Understanding Strict Liability
Defective product cases fall under the category of law known as “strict liability,” meaning you do not need to provide proof of the manufacturer’s negligence in order to recover compensation – you only need to prove that the product itself was defective and you were injured due to that defect in order to recover.However, in cases where the victim ignores strict warnings from the manufacturer as to the proper use of the product, the product has been modified by the user from its original condition, or the user uses the product improperly, problems with recovery may arise.
Anyone involved in the business of manufacturing, marketing, or selling a defective product can be held strictly liable for a person’s injuries. However, strict liability may not extend to retailers of used products. For example, if the product was a used item that was sold in an isolated sale (e.g. on eBay), and the seller was not in the business of selling the product as hi/her regular business, the seller may escape liability.
Do Not Dispose of the Product or Part of the Product that is Defective!
In a defective product case, time is crucial. Many potential clients come to us with product liability claims a year or more after the incident that caused their injury. By this time, important evidence in the case, namely the product has usually been either destroyed, altered or lost.
If you believe you may have been injured because of a defective product, save whatever remains of the product (including the packaging) and consult with one of our Maryland defective product attorneys today to discuss your claim. We offer free case evaluations to all potential clients.
If we believe you do have a valid product liability claim that is worth pursuing, we will work with engineers and other field experts to examine the product, investigate its history, and review the manufacturing process and supply chains in detail – documenting any links between the defect(s) and your injuries. You can trust our attorneys to use every resource at our disposal to develop the strongest and most compelling case possible on your behalf.
Please contact the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Maryland defective product lawyers. We represent injured victims of defective products throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.