What is Product Liability Pertaining to Personal Injury?
Product liability exists to protect consumers!
Sometimes when we buy something, no matter the marketing or how many friends have and rave about the product, it’s still defective. Not only is this disappointing, it can be dangerous. In the worst-case scenario the product is a safety hazard to minors and the elderly. Regardless of age, defective products cause a number of injuries to consumers. What happens when a person sustains injuries during the normal use of a defective product?
This Shaked Law Resource article covers information necessary to make a smart purchase.
- What is Strict Product Liability law?
- What does product liability do for consumers?
- Is there a reasonable use of consumer products?
- What’s the process for a product recall?
- What is “Awareness of Defect” in Product Liability law?
What is Strict Product Liability law?
Recovering compensation for a product that causes injury is not “as” difficult as car accident litigation, so to speak. The process of litigating a defective product has its own set of regulations. These regulations apply for all aspects of product liability.
No Personal Injury case is “simple” whatsoever. However, product liability law has specific rules and regulations that do not allow a lot of leeway. Thus, the process of “do I have a defective product?” is clear.
What happens after a defective product injury?
A victim who sustains injuries as a result of a defective product can recover damages from anywhere within the chain of command. This just depends on specifics of the case. The chain of command could be the manufacturer, an online retail shop, wholesale, or a brick and mortar location. This is dependent upon laws that apply in the state the product was purchased, or shipped for its intended use.
In Florida, anyone in the chain of distribution, can have a lawsuit brought against them for failing to uphold a standard of care. This means, those designing the product are aware of its defect(s) but fail to act to correct them. In the case of a tangible item (as opposed to a service), the standard should be that the product works effectively when its use is per instructions. Any use falling outside the manufacturer’s suggested use for the product may not have grounds for litigation. This is because the consumer may have found an alternative use for the product.
What does product liability do for consumers?
Under normal circumstances such as a car accident, victims must show that the defendant is acting unreasonably, negligently, or recklessly. This means a lawyer must be able to show the other party is unreasonable, ultimately resulting in the client’s pain and suffering.
When it comes to items sold to consumers in a “marketplace” setting it’s financially prohibitive and time consuming to attempt to place blame on one person. Thousands of people work to produce products, then ship them to retail stores, every day. It’s just a not feasible task to seek out a single person and still provide a client with adequate, fair compensation.
Product liability law to the rescue?
Product Liability Law exists for a reason. There is no expectation that the customer should know, upon purchasing a product, that it would have a harmful defect. Most people make purchases with the intent to use the product as intended. Product liability exists to protect these honest, credible consumers.
Is there a reasonable use of consumer products?
So, what is strict product liability? This legal principle allows a victim who sustains injuries to recover damages from the manufacturer or the seller of the defective product. In these cases, the customer can do so without showing a specific person within the chain of command is at-fault.
How does this legal principle actually work? Read on to find out!
A person purchases a product with the reasonable assumption that it works as advertised. Instead, they find the product is so defective it causes extreme harm. This could mean burn injuries, broken bones, or in extreme cases death. In these cases the customer may pursue litigation and seek compensation for their injuries.
What’s the process for a product recall?
The law enacts certain steps to prevent misuse of product liability law. The following steps help carry out the law and provide fair compensation to victims who sustain injuries as a result of a defective product:
- The product has to be “unreasonably dangerous” in regard to its defect. This can be either a design flaw, during manufacturing, or during shipment to whoever is selling the product.
- The defective merchandise causes the victim injury while being used for its intended purpose.
- The product hasn’t been modified from the condition in which it was originally purchased. The word “substantially” applies in this instance. I.E. having to remove furniture from its packaging to build it is not “substantially” modifying the product. If after building per instructions, the furniture is unstable and falls on the victim, this was still reasonable use of the product. It was not the fault of the customer (if building per directions) if defective furniture causes them bodily injury.
Further reading: IKEA’s Malm furniture recall.
What is “Awareness of Defect” for product liability law?
Both the seller and the manufacturer have a claim of defense against “strict liability” that applies to every consumer. If a consumer owns a product with a defect for an extended period of time, it may not be possible to claim laws of strict liability. This is “Awareness of Defect” and heavily relies upon the credibility of the customer. This is especially true if the consumer is aware of the defect but fails to act. Worse, they continue to use the product! This is not credible. Those with credible claims seek legal advice as quickly as possible after realizing their purchase is defective.
Sometimes, there is a manufacturer a time limit on how long a consumer has to return a defective product for a refund. Sometimes the only offer is to receive a replacement item that works correctly.
What should a customer do after realizing their product is defective?
It’s always important to seek legal advice from a professional. This means a Personal Injury lawyer who is credible, honest, and sees these cases regularly. Not every lawyer is equal. In fact, some lawyers never even see trial! These are not the lawyers that should be handling product liability cases.
In any situation where pain and suffering occurs, the best thing to do is contact a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible. These law firms are the ones that will go to trial whenever necessary, resulting in higher verdicts and happier clients.