If you have been injured as a result of a defective product, you may have a claim for compensation under product's liability law. Although each state will have different rules governing claims for defective products, some general rules apply in most cases.
The key difference between a product's liability claim and a negligence claim, is the concept of strict liability. In sum, if you prove that the product is defective, then the manufacturer and/or seller of the product is liable for any injuries the defect caused you. In other words, you do not have to prove that the manufacturer or seller was negligent in creating the defect, just that the defect exists.
Who is responsible for a defective product?
Each state will have different rules governing who is responsible. Most states recognize that in order to pursue a product liability claim, the product must have been placed in the stream of commerce, and that no modifications or alterations of the product were made by the time the consumer is injured. The manufacturer, wholesaler and even the seller of the defective product may be held responsible for injuries the defective product causes.
What types of products may be pursued as product liability claims?
Although states will again have different laws governing the types of products which may be claimed, generally any defective product put into the stream of commerce (i.e. sold) may be claimed under product's liability law. Defective products may include anything from a defective food item or drink (glass chips in your margarita) to a defective air bag in your car. Claims may also include breach of warranties or inadequate warnings which lead to injury.
How do I prove that the product is defective?
Of course, proving that a product is defective is not as simple as it sounds. Most cases will require an expert to analyze the product. Often this is done jointly with experts from the manufacturer or seller so there is no accusations of tampering with the product during an inspection.
Does the manufacturer or seller have any defenses to the defective product claim?
Again, each state will allow different defenses. One common defense is misuse of the product, which means that the product was used in a manner not reasonably anticipated by the manufacturer or seller. Other defenses include knowingly using a defective product and modifying or altering the product from the way it was placed into the stream of commerce.
In many states, the effect of a successful defense to a product liability claim will reduce the responsibility of the manufacturer or seller but not wipe out the entire claim of the injured party. For instance, if you are 90% at fault for causing your own injury while using a defective product, some states will still allow you to recover 10% of your damages from the manufacturer or seller.
So, what can you do if you believe you were injured by a defective product? Let's take a look at the law at work for a few steps:
- Secure the product in a safe environment. Do not use it again. Do not throw it away. Take pictures of it.
- Contact an attorney to discuss the problem you believe exists with the product.
Remember, always use products in accordance with the instruction manual, warnings and purpose for which it was made. At the Haymond Law Firm, our philosophy is to be prepared. Our mission is to communicate, counsel and enlighten our clients. Our goal is to achieve results. By being prepared, together, we can achieve.
If you believe that you have been a victim of a defective product, or have questions regarding your legal rights, contact the Haymond Law Firm for help.