Contact The Barker Law Firm today if you have suffered personal injuries as a result of a defective product. You will immediately receive prompt, courteous attention, and the help you need in deciding how to deal with medical bills, property damage, wage loss, insurance claims, and other important questions that you or your family may have following an accident.
Defective or dangerously manufactured products cause thousands of injuries, and even deaths, every year. Product liability law determines who is responsible for the dangerous or defective products, and the injuries caused by an unsuspecting consumer. It is different from ordinary injury aw and sometimes this makes it easier for an injured person, or a decedent’s estate, to recover damages.
In a product liability claim, the manufacturer or seller is held liable for producing and placing on the market and in the hands of a consumer a product which, because it is defectively designed, is dangerous to the user. Not only the manufacturer, but each seller of the product in the distribution chain can be held legally responsible for the injury or death of a consumer who used that product.
Essentially, the product liability law requires that any product which will end up in the hands of a consumer must meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer. One of those implied expectations is that the product is safe, without defect, and will not cause the consumer to be injured or die from its use. If a product has a defect or poses an unknown and undisclosed danger to the consumer, the product does not meet the consumer’s ordinary expectations.
Typically, product liability claims are based on state laws, and brought under the theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. In addition, a set of commercial statutes in each state, modeled on the Uniform Commercial Code, will contain warranty rules affecting product liability.
At some point, products are sold to consumers in the marketplace. There is no longer a requirement that a contractual relationship has to exist between the person injured or killed by a product, and the supplier of the product. In other words, the person injured or killed does not have to be the purchaser of the product to recover for injuries or death to recover damages.
Liability for a product defect could rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution, such as:
The actual manufacturer of the product;
The manufacturer of parts of the product;
Any party that either assembles and/or installs the product;
The wholesaler; and
The retail store that sold the product to the consumer
For strict liability to apply, the sale of a product must be made in the regular course of the supplier’s business. This means that someone who sold a product at a garage sale would not be a liable party in the product liability action.
Some burden of the proof in product liability case shifts to the defendant(s) under the doctrine known as “res ipsa loquitur”. This Latin term means “the thing speaks for itself”. This indicates that the defect which caused injury or death to a consumer would not exist unless someone was negligent.
The plaintiff no longer is required to prove how the defendant was negligent, but instead, the defendant is required to prove that it was not negligent.
Strict liability in product liability cases also helps the plaintiff’s claim. When strict liability applies, the plaintiff does not have to prove that a manufacturer was negligent, but only that the product was defective. Eliminating the concept of strict liability allows the plaintiff to recover damages where they otherwise might not.
Some products cannot be made safer, without losing the usefulness of the product. An electric knife that is too dull to injure anyone will also be too dull, and useless, for the purpose for which it was intended. In situations like this, consumers are expected to minimize their risk by safely using the product, knowing that injury is possible because of the intended use of the product.
Despite the fact that a product might not be deemed unreasonably dangerous, given its intended use, manufacturers and suppliers of unavoidably safe products still have the responsibility of giving proper risks and warnings of the danger if a product is used improperly.
Of course the manufacturer or any party in the distribution chain of a defective product will raise the defense that the plaintiff has not sufficiently identified the supplier of the product that allegedly caused injury or death. A plaintiff must be able to connect the product with the party(ies) responsible for either manufacturing the product, or supplying it. “Market share liability” applies in cases involving defective medication. Sometimes a plaintiff cannot identify which pharmaceutical companies supply a particular drug that the injured person took, and therefore each manufacturer can be held liable according to its percentage of sales in the geographical area where the injury or death occurred.
A manufacturer may also raise the defense that the plaintiff substantially altered the original product after it left the manufacturer’s control, causing injury or death. This occurs often in cases where, for example, guns or weapons have been altered by the consumer. The manufacturer may also assert that the injured party used the product in an unforeseeable way, and that their misuse of the product caused the injury or death.
Product liability actions can be complex, and establishing fault for an injury or death will likely require the assistance and testimony of experts. Every state has its own laws and specific statutes that will affect product liability action. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury caused by a potentially defective product, The Barker Law Firm will be able to answer your questions and protect your interests.
Have you or a loved one sustained injuries or died as a result of a defective product?
The Barker Law Firm has represented the families of those who have been injured or died as a result of a defective product. Call The Barker Law Firm at 727-328-9000 to find out what your rights are to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor of a defectively designed product.
To schedule a free consultation or request additional information about our services, please contact The Barker Law Firm at 727-328-9000 or click here to contact us by e-mail.