When you buy a product, you expect it to work according to the instructions. If it does not, then you get it repaired or replaced and that is typically the end of it. However, there are some cases where a product malfunctions to the point where it actually hurts the person using it. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you might think because hundreds of Americans are injured each year because of products that are defective or dangerous.
When a person is injured in this way their case falls under the set of legal rules called product liability law. Basically, these rules state that the injured person has the right to sue the manufacturer or seller of the defective product for their damages. At the Pendergrass Law Firm, we are intimately familiar with all of the details of product liability law and have used that knowledge to help clients from all across Gwinnett County.
Each state has its own set of rules about product liability because there are no overarching federal laws regarding this subject. Our knowledge of Georgia’s product liability laws is extensive, which is why we can help anyone who has been hurt by a defective or dangerous product receive the compensation that they are due. We will make sure that this compensation is enough to cover any medical bills or lost wages, and that it has provisions for pain and suffering as well. When you buy a product, you expect it to work. If it does not and you get hurt as a result, then we will work for you and with you to make sure that you get the justice that you deserve.
What Is Product Liability?
The general thrust of product liability law is that a product should meet the ordinary expectations of the customer. In other words, the product should work as they expect it to work. If the product is defective or dangerous to the point where it causes an injury, then the injured person has the right to file a product liability claim. However, that is only if they followed the instructions carefully and used the product as it was intended.
It should be noted that some products have inherent dangers that also contribute to their usefulness. For example, sharp objects like knives, scissors, and razor blades need to be sharp, but their sharpness also makes them dangerous. In those cases, the discretion falls on the consumer to be careful. The only thing the manufacturer can do is offer adequate instructions and warnings about the use of the product.
The Types of Product Defects
There are three types of defects that could make a product dangerous and they are as follows:
Design Defects – This is when the design of a product is inherently unsafe even before it is manufactured. That means anyone who buys the product is at risk. An example of this is when a child’s toy presents a choking hazard.
Manufacturing Defects – The design of a product may be safe but a mistake during the manufacturing process might make it dangerous to anyone that uses it. You see this when vehicles get recalled because a certain part or component may cause problems for the driver.
Marketing Defects – This is when the marketing or instructions for a product make it more dangerous. This could mean that the product has insufficient warning labels, the instructions are poorly written or hard to understand, or the labeling is incorrect. An example would be if the label on a bottle of medication failed to mention the potential side effects of taking the medication.
Who Is Responsible For a Product Liability?
First of all, it should be noted that the person who got injured by the product does not have to be the one who bought it. As long as someone got injured by a defective product, they are allowed to sue. As for who they can sue, it could be any party who was a part of the supply chain. That means any of the following:
- The manufacturer of the product
- A company that manufactures parts or components for the product
- The party responsible for assembling or installing the product
- The wholesaler or retailer that sold the product to the consumer
Since the culprit could be any one of the above, you will need to find out where the responsibility lies. This can be a tricky process since each party will likely put the blame on the others. That is why it is necessary to hire an experienced product liability attorney. At the Pendergrass Law Firm, our product liability attorney can find out which party in the manufacturing chain was responsible for the product defect and hold them accountable.
Strict liability is a legal doctrine that gives consumers an advantage in product liability cases. It means that a person injured by a product can get compensation from the manufacturer or seller of that product without having to prove that the manufacturer or seller was actually negligent. The reason is that in regular personal injury cases the injured party must prove that the party that caused the injury was negligent.
However, it would be very difficult and extremely expensive for an ordinary consumer to prove that a company was being negligent in the manufacture or distribution of a product. So the strict liability law allows the consumer to file a product liability lawsuit without having to prove negligence.
One important thing to note is that strict liability only applies to retailers that regularly sell or rent that product. If the product was purchased at a garage sale, thrift store, pawnshop, or any other place that does not sell any specific kind of product on a regular basis, then strict liability does not apply.
Proving Fault in a Product Liability Case
Regardless of which party in the manufacturing chain is being held responsible, the injured party can sue if they meet any of the following conditions:
- The product had a dangerous defect that caused an injury to the user. This defect could have occurred as a result of the product’s design, it could have happened during the manufacturing process, or could have occurred during the distribution of the product.
- The defect caused an injury even though the person was using the product in the way that it was intended.
- The condition or nature of the product was not substantially altered from the time it was sold. A substantial alteration is one that changes the way the product performs or functions.
If any of the above conditions exist, then it is not necessary for the injured person to prove that the manufacturer or seller of the product was irresponsible or careless.
Examples of Product Liability Cases
Product liability is a very common occurrence. Fortunately, most cases are relatively mild and do not result in serious or permanent injury. In many cases, the defective product will get recalled before it hurts too many people. However, there are quite a few cases where the defective product gains national attention. One of the most prominent is the recall of vehicles with airbags manufactured by Takata. The airbags had a manufacturing defect that caused the propellant canister to explode and send dangerous shrapnel throughout the cabin.
The Philip Morris tobacco company is a famous example of marketing defects. In this case, a woman successfully sued the cigarette maker for causing her lung cancer because it failed to notify users that there were serious health risks associated with smoking. You may also have seen ads asking mesothelioma patients to step forward if their condition was caused by exposure to asbestos.
The bottom line is that there are many types of product liability cases, and even though most manufacturers try to minimize or eliminate any risk associated with their product, defects and injuries sometimes happen. If one should happen to you, then you should contact the Pendergrass Law Firm. You will be able to speak to a defective product liability lawyer in Gwinnett County who is able to help you.
The Pendergrass Law Firm Will Help You With Your Product Liability Case
When you buy a product, the worst thing that you expect to happen is that it does not work as intended; you would not expect that it would hurt you or make you sick. Yet, in many cases that is what happens when a product is defective. If that happened to you or a loved one, then you should contact us at the Pendergrass Law Firm. We are experts in product liability law and will assign you an attorney to help you with your case.
Our product liability lawyer will give you the best chance of recovering the compensation that you need to cover any expenses caused by the defective product. That could include medical treatment costs, lost wages if you had to miss work, compensation for your pain and suffering, and more. With a product liability case, you will be going up against a big manufacturer or a big retailer and they will have money and lawyers on their side. It can seem like a David versus Goliath situation, but remember, David won. And with the Pendergrass Law Firm in your corner, you can win too.