Product Liability

There is an implied trust between the manufacturer and buyer when a purchase is made. The consumer buys the product believing it will serve its purpose to the best and safest level possible. Additionally, manufacturers claim their products are safe if warning labels and instructions are following properly.

Thus, when a defective product causes property damage or severe personal injury or death, the consumer becomes a victim and may take action in the form of a product liability lawsuit. In most cases, there is a statute of limitations that requires product liability lawsuits to be filed within two years of the injury.

Injury can stem from defective products that have:

  • Poor design
  • Improper manufacturing
  • Inadequate warning labels

Sometimes this means several parties are responsible for the defective product, including the designer, manufacturer, assembly facility, wholesaler, retailer, and/or others.

Just because the product has passed a government test or standard does not necessarily mean the product is safe.  Many government tests and standards are out-of-date.  Furthermore, the products actually tested are usually a tiny fraction of the total number of products released into the marketplace for sale.  Also, manufacturers have been found to withhold information from the government necessary to determine whether the product actually passes applicable government standards.

A product defect case can be based on negligence, breach of warranty or most commonly “strict liability.”  An aggrieved party asserting a strict liability products claim does not have to prove that the defendant was at fault or negligent.  Instead, the claimant must establish that the product which caused the injury or damage was defective.

A product is considered defective if its design, manufacture or marketing rendered it unreasonably dangerous with foreseeable use.  A design defect occurs when the product could have been made safer with an alternative design.  A manufacturing defect occurs when the product was not made as intended (i.e., per the design) and this flaw renders the product dangerous.  A marketing defect occurs when the manufacturer or seller fails to warn of latent dangers in the product.

The laws of each state differ with respect to exactly what must be proven in order to establish a strict products liability case.  However, most of the states pattern their requirements after Section 402A of the Restatement of Torts (Second).  The Restatement of Torts is an influential treatise published by the American Law Institute.

A product liability case must be brought within the applicable statute of limitations period which is commonly two years, but can be shorter or longer in some states.

What You Should Do

If you have suffered injury or property damage from a defective product, you should follow these steps:

  1. Document all information about the product, the store at which it was purchased (if applicable), the date of the purchase, and the date and circumstances of the injury or damage.
  2. If possible, take photos of the product, the personal injury/damage and the location of the incident.
  3. Keep documentation of any time lost at work due to an injury and all medical records and bills resulting from treatment of the injury.
  4. In cases of property damage, keep documentation of any estimates or repair bills.
  5. Save the defective product, and do not tamper with it in any way.

All documentation, photos and the product itself should be given to a qualified attorney with a strong track record of successfully resolving product defect cases. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we’ve litigated hundreds of product liability cases to favorable results for our clients.  Among the products involved are the following:

  • Aerial bucket lifts
  • Asbestos products
  • Automobiles
  • Cigarettes
  • Circuit breakers
  • Concrete forms
  • Diet drugs
  • Electrical conduits
  • Elevators
  • Fentanyl patches
  • Hay balers
  • Hearing aids
  • Heart monitors
  • Heating pads
  • Hip implants
  • Jet bridges
  • Motorcycles
  • Refrigeration units
  • Seats
  • Steel beams
  • Televisions
  • Tires
  • Tractors
  • Trocars (medical devices)

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or significant property damage from a defective product, please contact us for a free consultation.