We’ve all heard the old saying, “You break it, you buy it” but what of the opposite? What if a product you buy causes you harm? If you use a product and are injured or suffer damages as a result, you may be able to file a Product Liability claim. Product Liability claims fall into three distinct categories: defective product design, defective manufacturing, and failure to provide adequate product warnings. California has some of the most strict product liability standards in the United States, so it is important for you to know your rights before you file a claim. Below is some basic information and examples of each type of product liability cause of action.
Defective Product Design
When a product has a design defect, it means that there is a problem with the design of the entire product line which renders the product unsafe for its intended or foreseeable uses. A claim for defective product design generally includes evidence that the product fails to satisfy ordinary consumer expectations as to the safety of the product, and/or that the risks of the product, when used as intended, outweigh its benefits.
Examples of a defective product design include:
- A bicycle’s brake cables come apart during normal use;
- A line of sunglasses that does not protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays;
- A power saw without a guard to protect the user’s hands.
A manufacturing defect occurs when a particular product is being made according to its intended design but something errant occurred or was omitted during the manufacturing process. It could mean that substandard materials were used during the manufacturing process, or that one or more steps in the manufacturing chain of events were not performed as required. If a product that was poorly manufactured leaves the factory and causes injury when used for an intended or foreseeable purpose, the manufacturer may be deemed liable for failing to meet a legal obligation to make the product safe and may be responsible for paying damages. Here are some examples of manufacturing defects:
- An accelerator in a car that is prone to sticking because of a defective manufacturing process;
- A children’s swingset that is sold with a cracked chain;
- Excessive formaldehyde infused into wood flooring during the manufacturing process.
Failure to Warn
A company that fails to accurately warn consumers about the risks involved with using their product can also be held liable in a defective product claim. Under California law, the manufacturer, maker or seller is required to let the consumer know how to properly use the product and inform users of any danger(s) involved with use. Manufacturers have a duty to inform consumers about all of the risks involved when using a certain product, whether the risk is apparent or less-than obvious. If the product does not contain such warnings or the warnings provided are inadequate, the product becomes unreasonably dangerous and the responsible parties can be held liable if injury occurs. Here are a few examples of a failure to warn claim:
- A food company that does not inform consumers that a product’s ingredients may cause allergic reactions;
- A toy that does not provides a warning that it could pose a choking hazard to a child and is intended to only be used by a child over a specific age;
- A corrosive chemical, such as a paint remover, that does not have proper instructions on how to handle the product.
Damages which may be recovered in a product liability claim include past and future medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity, and any pain and suffering caused by the injury.
Keep in mind that in the State of California a product liability claim must be filed no later than two years after the injury is discovered or should have been discovered, and any claims made after the statute of limitations cannot be litigated.
Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of a defective product that was improperly manufactured or designed, or a product which failed to warn you adequately about the dangers of its use? If so, Berman & Riedel, LLP may be able to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Future Berman & Riedel, LLP blog articles will provide more in-depth information on each of these types of product liability claims, so please check back to find out more about defective product design, defective manufacture and failure to provide adequate product warnings.
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