What is meant by "Products Liability"?
How do I know if my injury is the result of a defective product?
What are some of the ways in which defective products cause injuries?
How is a safe product different from a defective product?
Are there Statutes of Limitations that would forever bar my claim based upon a defective product?
Can a defective product come with warnings that make the product safe?
Q. What is meant by "Products Liability"?
A. The courts and lawyers often refer to "products liability" as the legal concepts that allow a person injured by a defective product, such as an automobile, drug, or stepladder, to seek compensation for injuries against the designer, manufacturer or seller of the specific product.
Q. How do I know if my injury is the result of a defective product?
A. Sometimes an apparent defect in the product is immediately known to the injured person. For example, you may be sitting on a chair that collapses and reasonably assume that some defect in the design may be responsible for your back or neck injury. Or, you could be injured when an escalator suddenly stops. Although these circumstances would certainly raise a suspicion that the product involved was defective, it is possible that, in the case of the chair, the homeowner had just replaced one of the legs improperly or, in the case of the escalator, that a sudden, unexpected power outage caused the abrupt stop. There are other circumstances where the possibility of a defective product causing or contributing to a serious injury or death is hidden or buried by the surrounding circumstances. A classic example of this situation is a steering defect in General Motors vehicles some years ago that caused some drivers to literally veer sharply off the road and collide with trees and other obstacles. Initially, no one believed the drivers who survived the crashes when they described a sudden "locking" of the steering. Investigators who examined the crashed vehicles did not find "locked" steering. After numerous crashes it was discovered that there was, indeed, a transient steering defect that had caused all of the crashes, injuries and deaths.
Another example would be the sudden death of a hospitalized patient following surgery because an alarm failed to sound promptly when a respirator was disconnected. Only a careful analysis of the medical record by an alert expert could spot the product defect hidden among the many complicated medical entries.
In order to detect and to prove that a defective product caused or contributed to a serious injury or death it is necessary that well-trained eyes review the circumstances. Normally, this effort starts with the suspicions of an experienced personal injury attorney who has investigated and prosecuted defective product claims on behalf of other victims. The attorney has access to national databases of product defects, product recall campaigns, and applicable standards. He or she also has relationships with experts in product design, manufacturing practices, and specific defects. There are automotive experts, furniture experts, drug experts, and other experts with specialized experience in every product line.
The attorneys at Trammell Law Firm, P.A., have investigated, litigated and settled defective product claims. We are pleased to provide a free consultation in situations in which a serious injury or death has occurred and there is the possibility that a defective product was responsible.
Q. What are some ways in which defective products cause injuries?
A. Just about any product is capable of causing injury. For years the spacing of crib railings were just about right to allow some baby heads to pass through with the result of numerous baby deaths. The Ford Pinto had a fuel system that would explode in a relatively minor rear-end collision. Chainsaws without kickback bars resulted in horrendous injuries. Some Christmas toys came with small parts that were easily swallowed by toddlers. Every year we have discovered that a drug or a food additive is causing sickness or death. Some auto airbags have been known to have deployed at the wrong times or to have deployed at excessive force. These are only examples of the harm caused by defective products in our society where millions of consumer products are purchased and consumed each year.
Q. How is a safe product different from a defective product?
A. A safe product performs in the manner expected by the user without causing injury during proper use. No safe product is designed to cause an injury during its anticipated, proper use (with the only exception being a firearm, which is another story entirely). A defective product does not perform in the manner expected by the user and causes injury despite proper use. A good example of a safe product would be a hammer with a head firmly attached to the handle. If the head of a hammer flew off during proper use and struck a nearby worker in the eye it is likely that the hammer was defective in design or manufacture.
Q. Are there Statutes of Limitations that would forever bar my claim based upon a defective product?
A. Yes. Each state has specific statutes of limitations that would forever bar a claim against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product. It is critical that an attorney be consulted as soon as there is any suspicion of a defective product in order to learn the applicable statute of limitations.
Q. Can a defective product come with warnings that make the product safe?
A. No. The first rule in the design of a product is to make it safe so that it does not cause injury in proper use. This does mean, however, that the instructions for proper use must be clear and concise. If a product has the ability to cause injury when used by the consumer who is following the instructions, and this danger could have been reasonably corrected in the design or manufacturing process, warnings do not convert a defective product into a safe product. The manufacturer cannot simply warn of unreasonable dangers that lurk in its product. Warnings are not designed as protection for defective product manufacturer.