Let’s start with what product liability really means. In basic terms, it refers to injuries due to defective or dangerous products. Manufacturers, wholesalers and even retailers may be liable for any injuries caused to customers if they have placed defective products in the hand of the customer.
Famous examples of product liability cases
We’ll set the scene for product liability by looking at two high profile cases. Probably the most famous example is the elderly woman who sued McDonald’s for providing her with scalding hot coffee without a warning. She suffered severe burns when she spilled the coffee and eventually managed to get $200 000 for medical expenses and damages as well as $2.7 million in punitive damages.
In the Escola vs. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. case a bottle of Coca Cola burst and shattered glass into the plaintiff’s hand. She sustained serious injuries to the muscles and nerve cells in her hands as a result. She filed a Product Liability law suit with experienced lawyers and eventually won the case.
Types of product liability cases
There are three types of product liability situations: defectively manufactured products and defectively designed product and failure to give adequate warning.
Defectively Manufactured Products
In this case, the design of the product was safe, but the factory made a mistake during the manufacturing of the product. This is the most common case in product liability lawsuits. This also means that there might be batches of products that are safe and batches of products that are not safe. Regardless, you would have to prove that it was the defect caused during manufacturing that caused your injury and not any reckless action on your part.
Defectively Designed Products
In this case, because the design of the product is defective, the product is inherently dangerous. Imagine sunglasses without proper UV protection or a car with an ill-designed engine that has a tendency to burst into flames. Again, you would have to be able to prove that it was the design flaw that caused your injury and not your own actions.
Failure to give adequate warning
Some products like power tools are inherently dangerous. Yet, the manufacturer is liable for warning the end user about the dangers associated with the product. Sometimes the warning signs on products are laughably obvious while others are absolutely necessary as consumers would have no way of knowing about it. One example is if a specific medicine may not be used with alcohol or aspirin. Consumers are unaware of the pharmacological ways in which medicines work and pharmaceutical companies cannot assume that consumers would know how to use their products safely. There may be some legal complications in the case of pharmaceuticals as the manufacturer may provide a warning in the package insert, but the end user may not receive the warning. The question would then be whether the manufacturer is liable or whether the liability lies with the pharmacist who failed to provide the product warning to the end user.
Pharmaceuticals are an easy way to compare the three types of product liability cases. If a toxic substance has contaminated a batch of cough syrups and you have fallen ill because of the toxic substance that would be due to defective manufacturing. If a product was manufactured according to its design and you suffered a heart attack as a side effect of the product that would be a defectively designed product. And finally, if the product was safely designed and produced, but you were injured because you took aspirin while taking the medication and the manufacturer didn’t provide a warning that would be a case of failure to give adequate warning.
Liability can lie at the hands of a number of parties involved in the chain between manufacturing and the end consumer. Especially in the case of failure to give warning, there are several parties who may be liable for the injuries caused:
- The product manufacturer
- The manufacturer of components or parts
- The party that assembles or installs the product
- The wholesaler
- The retail store that sold the product to the consumer
If it can be proved that any one of these parties was negligent and that their negligence was the cause of your injury, you may have a case against them on the premise of Product Liability. In the case of Product Liability, it is usually easy to prove negligence as the defect wouldn’t have been present if there were no negligence. Therefore, if you decide to sue for Product Liability, the defense attorneys will work hard to prove that you were actually at fault and that it was not the defect in their product that caused your injuries, but something else. They may also try to prove that you have altered the product in some way and that this alteration caused your injury or they may argue that you misused the product according to the instructions and that this misuse caused your injury.
Mass Tort Lawsuit
What makes Product Liability cases different from other personal injury cases is that they are commonly taken on as mass tort suits with multiple plaintiffs suing the same defendant. Since a defective product will end up in the hands of hundreds of consumers, many people will end up wanting to sue the same company, in which case the case would be handled as a mass tort suit. However, despite the fact that the plaintiffs are suing the same company, in the case of defective drugs or products, everyone’s individual cases may propose different scenarios, which can make mass tort suits very complex and lengthy.
Product Liability with Linden Law
The Product Liability attorneys at Linden Law are experts at what they do. They know the Product Liability laws inside out and can quickly assess whether you have a valid Product Liability case or not. You can rely on Linden Law to see your case through aggressively to get you the best form of compensation possible for the injuries that you have suffered due to defective products.