Each year, defective or unsafe products injure thousands of workers and consumers. Too often, these injuries are fatal. Many of these accidents could have been prevented. Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers have a duty to produce or sell safe products. Many times, they disregard their obligations and put profit over the safety of workers and loved ones. If a product caused an injury because of an unsafe design, a manufacturing defect, or the failure to provide proper instructions, the victim can file a products liability lawsuit.
An experienced products liability lawyer can help consumers determine if they have a case. Many seriously injured people may not consult an attorney because they do not think they can sue. Sometimes they think the accident is their fault. Negligence does not prevent the victim from filing a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or supplier of an unsafe product. The key question is whether the product could have been designed to reduce or eliminate the defect that caused the injury.
A defective product causes injury or damage due to a flaw or insufficient labeling. Products may also be considered defective if they are designed in such a way that an injury occurs even when the product is used as intended. All states allow people injured by defective products to recover damages.
People can encounter unsafe or defective products in their daily lives at home, at work, or even at school. When using any type of machinery or industrial equipment, users should always use caution. Some examples of unsafe and defective products can be:
During a products liability case, you will have to prove that the product’s defectiveness caused injury or exacerbated an existing injury. A defect can appear at any point along the production line, from conception to the final sale. Some products are flawed from the outset in that when a person was designing them, they incorporated a flaw in the construction that they either failed to catch or did not foresee as a problem moving forward. When a problem occurs at this stage, it means all the products will have the same problem. There is a danger in the creation of the product and not in the way that it was constructed.
Some examples of a design defect include a certain model of a car that tends to flip over on sharp curves or a pair of sunglasses that do not protect the user from ultraviolet rays. Another example is an electric blanket that electrocutes people.
To properly pursue a case in this situation, the actual flaw in the design must be the cause of an injury. If a person is driving normally and the car flips, that is an example of the flaw causing an injury. If a person gets sideswiped by a truck and the car flips, the design had nothing to do with the injury.
Another example of a defect can take place during the construction or assembly of a product. In these circumstances, a person accidentally or purposely incorporated a defect into the manufacturing of a product. They could have forgotten to include an important screw or properly fasten a piece of machinery. A defect can also occur when someone fails to properly inspect a product before shipping it out. When a defect occurs at this level, it will only have an impact on a few products. Examples of this defect include a swing set with a weak or cracked chain, a case of cough syrup that is contaminated with a foreign substance, or a motorized vehicle with missing brake pads.
As with the design defect, the manufacturing mistake must be the one that caused the injury. If you were climbing on the swing set incorrectly and the chain gave way, it is difficult to say that your injury was caused solely because of the default in the chain. Mislabeling a product also becomes an issue; this covers problems such as failing to attach a sufficient warning label on the product or advertising a product for children when it is clearly unsafe for them to use. Products that fall into this category include a steam kettle that does not warn users about where the steam comes out, paint remover that fails to explain how to safely store and use the product, or a machine that does not warn people to keep a safe distance while in operation. The injury must originate with the defect. If you knew how to store the paint remover, but stored it the wrong way anyway, you cannot blame the lack of warning.
Different injuries can occur when a person uses a defective product. These injuries range from minor to serious. Among some of the more common include:
Burns: Electrical devices, such as a hair dryer, blender, or toaster, could have faulty wiring that can cause a shock when plugged in. The resulting spark could burn the victim or even set the product on fire, which could be even more worrisome. Chemical burns in warehouses due to an unsafe product can result in a more serious injury to the user.
Catastrophic injuries: A product that breaks and results in an injury, can also be the subject of a product liability suit as well. When a machine suddenly breaks down, it could cause a catastrophic injury. Head injuries can occur from a fall from a defective ladder or an improperly designed forklift can tip over seriously injuring the driver.
Choking injuries: These injuries usually occur with toys involving smaller children as some toys fail to label a toy as a choking hazard.
Death: A product defect can be so severe that it leads to the death of the user. This can also occur when large machines have defects, such as those that operate in factories or even a car having a faulty tire.
Hand Injuries: A hand injury resulting in degloving or amputation can result from a defective piece of warehouse equipment or machinery.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI can occur from more serious machine and equipment malfunctions. A traumatic brain injury is life-altering not only for the injured person, but also for their family.
The manufacturer, supplier, or seller can be held legally responsible and be required to pay full and fair damages to an injured party if:
The National Safety Council estimates that between 10 and 15 percent of all industrial injuries are caused by inadequately guarded or unguarded machinery. These are probably the most common and well-known type of product liability cases. Defective or unsafe personal protective equipment can be subject to a third-party lawsuit. Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers of products have a duty to manufacture, supply, and sell the equipment in a safe condition for all foreseeable uses.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents occur frequently. In some cases, those accidents are the result of a defective product. If a person is injured due to a defective product at work, a third-party liability lawsuit may be pursued. If a faulty tool or equipment is to blame for an accident, workers are entitled to seek compensation via a third-party claim against the manufacturer of the tool or equipment.
Workers injured because of a defective product at work must report their injury to a supervisor or the personnel department as soon as possible. When reporting the injury, it is best to put it in writing. Some important things to include are the date and time of the accident, as well as details of what happened. Keep a private record of the report as well. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, employers must file a report about the injury to the state. In Pennsylvania, the report goes to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and in New Jersey, it goes to the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation.
The next important step for an employee injured by a defective product at work is to contact an experienced attorney. A skilled product liability lawyer will know how to navigate your injury claim and hold all responsible parties accountable via a third-party lawsuit.
A third-party product liability case arises when a manufacturer is responsible for an injury that occurred to someone other than the person who directly purchased the item. There are a few ways that this situation can arise. Among them are:
The statute of limitations to file a products liability case varies depending on the state in which the injured party lives. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, consumers have two years to file a lawsuit. In both states, time starts when the person is injured because of the defective product, or at the time a person should reasonably know that they were victimized by a defective product.
If someone suffered injuries because of a defective product, they should contact an experienced products liability lawyer. The victim may be able to file a products liability action based on either strict products liability or breach of warranty. Strict products liability means that certain people or companies are automatically responsible for the damages their actions or products cause. In the case of manufactured products, the victim must prove that a product was defective.
Manufacturers can issue implied and expressed warranties for their products. Implied warranties are established by state law and state that a product will be safe to use for its intended purpose. Expressed warranties are guarantees from the seller that the product will function as it is intended and will be safe to use. Most warranties are included in the sales contract between the buyer and the seller. A breach of warranty means that the product was defective or did not function as it was intended. In addition, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) establishes the following two forms of implied warranty:
Implied warranty of merchantability. This is essentially a promise that there is nothing wrong with the product in terms of its design, manufacture, or promotion. If a product states that it will perform a certain function and fails in that function, a person could sue under a breach of warranty claim.
Implied warranty of fitness. Under this warranty, the seller is promising that they will sell a particular product to a person, because the product has the most appropriate function for what the customer needs. This need not have any fault in the design or manufacturing of the product itself, it just does not work for the purpose for which it was sold. For instance, if a person goes to the electronics store to purchase wires to connect a television to the DVD player and the salesperson knowingly sells the person the wrong wires, this could be a violation of the fitness warranty.
A products liability lawyer will represent an injured party’s interests and protect their rights. If one has been hurt by a defective piece of machinery or equipment at work, the insurance company for that manufacturer may try to offer a settlement that is below what one may be entitled to recover for their injuries. An attorney can assess the situation and demand an amount commensurate to one’s injuries. In general, those represented by an attorney will be able to recoup more of their losses in third-party litigation claims than those that try to go pro se.
A consumer may be seriously injured at the hands of a defective product. That injury could result in multiple doctor visits, treatment, and maybe even surgery. When victims file a lawsuit against a company for a defective product, they have a right to seek recovery for those medical expenses, among other costs associated with the injury. Some of these costs can include the following:
The family of the victim has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member they believe lost their life because of a product defect. If the family can secure a victory in this lawsuit, they can recover money to make up for the damages their family member suffered, as well as other expenses, including the following:
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a defective product, the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are ready to assist you. We will thoroughly review the details of your case and fully explain the process of filing a claim. Our dedicated legal team will protect your rights and ensure that you receive the assistance you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we help clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.