Each year defective or unsafe products injure thousands of workers and consumers. Too often, injuries leave victims of unsafe products disabled and unable to work. Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers have a duty to produce or sell safe products. Many times, they disregard their obligations, putting profit over the safety of workers and loved ones. If a product caused an injury because of an unsafe design, manufacturing defect, malfunction, or failure to provide proper instructions and warnings, the victim may have a products liability lawsuit.
Products liability lawsuits are highly technical, very complex, time consuming, and expensive to pursue. When seeking to recover compensation for injuries, a successful claim requires legal representation by an exceptionally credentialed lawyer who has the experience and resources to properly evaluate the details of a case and pursue the case fully. A skilled litigator must prove that a product was defective, that the consumer used the product in an anticipated way and that the defective product caused the consumer’s injuries.
Expert witnesses that are specialized in engineering, safety, and design often play a key role in preparing a successful case. Their expertise is required to examine evidence and provide testimony. Laws affecting products liability vary by state. Therefore, it is imperative to seek guidance from a products liability lawyer.
The legal team at Galfand Berger LLP is among the nation’s pioneers in investigating and litigating all types of products liability cases. For over 75 years, our firm has represented thousands of individuals injured by dangerous and unsafe products and have helped shape many of the laws that required product manufacturers in Pennsylvania to make their products safer for consumers. We have helped many of our clients in obtaining justice and compensation for their injuries in obtaining jury verdicts for them and getting significant settlements.
A defective product is a product that causes injury because of a design flaw or inappropriate or insufficient labeling. Products may also be considered defective if they are designed in such a way that, when used as anticipated, it results in an injury. If a product is deemed defective a manufacturer or supplier will be strictly liable, meaning liable without proving any fault or negligence on its behalf.
People can encounter unsafe or defective products at home, at work, or even at school. Some examples of unsafe and defective products include:
Each state has their own laws and statutes that govern the area of products liability and they can vary widely by state. Claims are typically based on the legal theories of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty.
Design Defect: A claim based on a design defect must prove the product is inherently dangerous and defective based on the way that the product and its warnings or instructions were designed. This type of defect generally involves the entire line of the product and exists before the product is made. An injury victim needs to prove that an alternative design would have made the product safer. Safer alternative designs can include additional warnings, safety guards, or better instructions that will instruct the user on how to use the product safely.
Design defects may involve switches, control mechanisms, tool housings, wiring, or any one of a wide range of product features. Examples of documented design defects that cause serious injury to workers include the following:
Manufacturing Defect: This type of defect is alleged to occur at some point during the manufacturing process. A claim based on a manufacturing defect alleges that a product may have been designed properly but there was an error in making or assembling the product. This type of defect does not always affect the entire line of the product, with only an isolated few being flawed. Several examples of manufacturing defects that caused injury to workers include the following:
Product instruction, labeling or warning Defect: A manufacturer may be responsible for selling a product without appropriate warnings and instructions. Knowing how to use a product, equipment, or machine safely may have prevented an injury. For example, if a worker uses chemicals at work, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard requires that the seller properly label the chemical, advise workers of any dangers, and how to safely use the chemical. Failure to provide warning and instructions makes the equipment, machine, or chemical unsafe for use.
Each year, defective products are responsible for causing a wide range of injuries, including the following:
Amputations, Cuts, and Lacerations: Unguarded moving parts on machinery account for a significant percentage of injuries to hands, arms, fingers, legs, and feet. All moving parts should have fixed or interlocked guards to prevent injury. The technology to eliminate injury from unguarded moving parts has been available since the 1860s. Machine suppliers who fail to sell safeguarded machinery are both legally and socially irresponsible.
Burns: There have been numerous cases in which defective machinery, automotive batteries, or other equipment has exploded, causing severe or fatal burns to workers. Chemical burns are also common in warehouses or factories that use caustic acids or bases in processing and cleaning. Manufacturing defects, as well as a failure to warn, can cause serious burn injuries or death.
Electric shock. Tools with faulty wiring or poorly constructed housing can lead to electric shock.
Fractures. Workers can suffer broken bones or have their limbs crushed by equipment that tips over because it is unstable, or by forklifts that get stuck in gear because the manufacturer did not install an optional device to cutoff power when contacts stick.
Poisoning. Industrial and manufacturing processes often employ toxic substances. For example, welding rods contain manganese, which can be fatal if ingested. Manufacturers and suppliers are responsible for providing adequate warnings about these substances.
Scalping Injuries: If a worker’s hair is pulled into a lathe, a spindle of a drill, or other rotating machinery, it can pull off portions of the scalp. Scalping injuries may happen when machines lack guards or emergency shut-off switches.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI can occur from serious machine and equipment malfunctions. A traumatic brain injury is life-altering, not only for the injured person, but also for their family.
Any of these injuries may end up being fatal. Family members of workers who have succumbed to injuries caused by a defective product may be eligible for death benefits under Workers’ Compensation, as well as damages from a wrongful death claim.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents occur frequently. Often, the injured worker only thinks they are eligible for Workers’ Compensation. In some cases, those accidents are the result of a defective product. If someone other than an employer is responsible for a worker’s injury or disease, the worker may be able to sue a third party in addition to collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits. The third party may be a manufacturer of unsafe equipment, a seller of dangerous chemicals, or a contractor or subcontractor working on the employer’s premises. Making a claim against the third party responsible does not affect a Workers’ Compensation claim. In fact, Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers encourage claimants to pursue third party claims to recover damages not available in a Workers’ Compensation claim, including damages for pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, and damages suffered by a spouse.
Below are examples of scenarios in which a third party may be responsible for an injury:
The statute of limitations to file a products liability case varies depending on the state in which the injured party lives. Because of these time limits, injury victims should reach out to an experienced products liability lawyer as soon as possible.
When injured by a defective or dangerous product, first seek medical attention for any injuries. Keep the product, packaging, labels, and instructions that were included, as well as the receipt and any other related paperwork. Take pictures of all injuries, the accident scene, and the defective product. The more evidence, the better chance of preparing a solid case. If there were any witnesses, obtain all contact information in the event that you need their testimony later. Be aware that all states have a statute of limitations, which puts a deadline on when someone can file a claim.
Defective products may seriously injure workers and consumers. That injury could result in multiple doctor visits, treatment, and maybe even surgery. Injury victims not only must deal with the physical and emotion trauma, but also lost wages, medical bills, and the uncertainty of providing for their loved ones. 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 because 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, including a third-party lawsuit. 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.