Each day, we use an untold number of products at home, work, school and in recreational activities. Unfortunately, some of these products end up in consumers’ hands despite a product defect in their design, manufacturing, labeling or failure to meet required safety standards.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability is the legal responsibility to create, package, deliver, ship or sell properly functioning goods. Product liability rests with all parties involved in an item’s supply chain. Supply chain parties include suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers. Product liability arises when a faulty, damaged or unsafe item makes it through the supply chain and into a consumer’s possession.
What are Product Defects?
A defective product is defined as any good sold to a customer that does not function accordingly. If an item’s design, packaging, shipment or mode of delivery is compromised, the product is flawed and poses a potential risk for injury towards unknowing consumers.
A defective product enters a supply chain when a supplier, manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer is negligent or unaware of a product’s malfunction. A product can also be deemed defective and eligible for a product liability claim if the at-fault supply chain party fails to guarantee the proper quality of functionality of a product. Defective products can be found anywhere goods are manufactured, packaged, shipped, bought, sold or used.
How Serious are Product Defect Injuries?
Product defect injuries can harm individuals in many ways and on many levels of severity. In short, defective products can jeopardize an individual’s immediate health, their long-term wellbeing and the duration of their lives. Product defects have resulted in injuries such as wage or job loss, permanent bodily injury, dismemberment and even death.
Whether you or a loved one suffers bruises, scrapes, cuts, broken bones or bodily damage, our team at Ward & Barnes works to deliver the compensation you need and deserve from product defect injuries.
What Causes of Product Defects?
There are many laws in place to protect consumers from buying and using faulty products. Unfortunately, the reality is that not every supply chain party follows them. When product defects arise from poor design, improper manufacturing, the inclusion of hazardous materials or lazy packaging and delivery, innocent people may end up injured. The personal injury attorneys at Ward & Barnes are dedicated to holding all negligent supply chain parties responsible for the damages they cause.
In many cases, injuries occur when a supplier, manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler or retailer cuts corners. In an effort to save money, these parties engage in unsavory practices—like using inferior materials or cheaper materials—that disregard health, safety and legal standards. These issues reduce the quality of the product and compromise its safety for anyone who comes in contact with it.
Sometimes a supply chain party unknowingly degrades the quality of their product. The unintentional manufacturing and distribution of a faulty product usually arise when a company fails to thoroughly test and inspect their products, equipment and policies.
Product defect injuries also occur when a supply chain party fails to fully and adequately warn consumers of the known risks associated with the use of a product. These practices put innocent consumers at risk, leaving victims and their families to deal with costly medical and repair bills.
What Are the Product Liability Claims?
A defective product injury can leave you with surmounting medical and repair bills. If your injury is significant and ongoing, you may lose earnings and benefits from missing work. If your injury is debilitating, you may even lose your job and livelihood. In the event you are injured from a faulty product and face financial obligations from physical, emotional or occupational distress, you should file a product liability claim.
A product liability claim is your right to request or demand just compensation for an injury resulting from a defective product. There are three situations in which an individual can make a claim for an injury occurring from a defective product.
The different types of product liability claims arise from negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty fitness. A negligent product defect liability claim is when an individual makes a demand for compensation from an inferior product that was still knowingly manufactured or distributed.
Whereas with a strict liability product defect liability claim, compensation is requested from a product whose malfunction was unknown to any supply chain party. In this event, the at-fault party failed to enact preventative measures to identify and remove broken and unsafe products from the supply chain. And, a breach of warranty fitness product liability claim can be made if a supply chain party fails to adequately guarantee, market or advertise the quality and known risks of their product.
It can be difficult for an injured individual to determine which liability best suits their case and claim. Fortunately, each attorney on the Ward & Barnes team has extensive experience with each type of the above claims. Call us today to speak to a knowledgeable lawyer who can guide you to building an effective case to help you gain the financial reimbursement you deserve.
The Different Types of Product Defects
Product defects occur in every industry imaginable. Over the years, we’ve seen people injured by a wide array of product defects, like:
Defective Medical Equipment and Devices
- Contaminated pharmaceutical drugs
- Pharmaceutical drugs with weak clinical trials
- Defective medical equipment
- Improperly constructed or contaminated medical devices
Defective Tools and Equipment
- Ladders made with weak materials
- Ladders with poor safety mechanisms
- Damaged heavy machinery and specialty tools
- Leaking chemicals
- Exposed hazardous substances
Defective Food and Cosmetics
- Contaminated food and drinks
- Unsafe food and drink preparation or delivery
- Cosmetics with weak clinical trials
- Contaminated cosmetics and toiletries
- Unsafe food packaging
Defective Cars and Vehicles
- Unreliable automobiles, trucks and motorcycles
- Inferior car, truck and motorcycle parts
- Faulty tires, airbags and seatbelts
- Damaged headrests
Defective Toys and Recreational Equipment
- Cheaply manufactured toys and recreational equipment
- Toys with exposed electrical components
- Ineffective helmets and safety equipment
Who is At-Risk for Product Defect Injuries?
Anyone who uses a defective product is at-risk for injury or death. Some examples of how a defective product puts an innocent individual’s life and wellbeing at stake include a toddler collapsing in a high-chair that has weak legs or a construction worker falling while using a step-stool with a broken locking mechanism. Other examples are an elderly person slipping in the shower grasping a shower handle with poor suction or a disabled individual who cannot stop their electronic scooter because the brakes malfunction.
Maybe a dentist uses a chipped drillbit and it punctures a patient. Or, maybe a doctor uses a stethoscope with sharp edges that cuts a patient. As you can see, there are countless scenarios in which product defect injuries can occur. We use a variety of items and products throughout the day to take care of our health, homes, jobs and each other.
It is impossible to expect anyone to assess the quality of each object they use throughout the day. That is why it is vital for members of a product’s supply chain to ensure only high-quality products are available in our marketplaces.
Who is Responsible for Product Defects?
Any party in a product’s supply chain can be liable for product defects. Each member in a product’s supply chain shares the responsibility to deliver a safe and functional product to their customers. The members held responsible for defective products are suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers.
We know you work hard to buy the items you need and want. When you spend your hard-earned money on a good, you deserve to use it without fear for your health or safety. Contact a reputable lawyer at Ward & Barnes immediately if an at-fault supply chain party tries to avoid their responsibility for their product liability.
What Does a Personal Injury Attorney Do to Help With Product Defect?
A personal injury attorney is skilled in navigating through all kinds of injury cases. Product defect cases are no exception. A personal injury lawyer will help you with your product defect case by:
Identifying the type of product liability. Depending on your product and the circumstances by which your injuries were sustained, your case may fall under the product negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty fitness claims.
Building your case. Your personal injury attorney will organize, manage and construct a resolute case. This is based on the type of liability claim, the defective product, your injuries and circumstantial documentation.
Winning your compensation. Your personal injury lawyer cares deeply about your wellbeing and recovery. With years of knowledge and experience on their side, your personal injury attorney will work relentlessly to win just reparations for your injuries and sufferings.
What to Do If You’re Injured by Product Defects
Product liability law focuses on several key issues, including the ability to prove the victim purchased and used the product. The outcome of your case and compensation relies on the medical, retail, and anecdotal records of the defective product and your injury.
Document What Happened
If you’ve been injured, it is vital to document what happened. Keep all retail documents related to the purchase of your defective product. Things like store camera footage, receipts, product guides and warranties are important to keep. Also, maintain possession of the product until you speak with an attorney.
Do Not Alter the Product
Do not alter the defective product in any way after your injury. It may be necessary for you to prove the product you used is defective. It is crucial you keep the product in its current state so the condition and any defects can be documented and evidenced in your claim.
Save All Medical Records
Lastly, save all medical and financial documents related to the diagnosis and treatment of your injuries. This includes any loss of wages and out-of-pocket expenses. Saving medical records can help prove your injuries, and the case as well.
What to Do if You’re Facing a Product Defects Claim
If you are a manufacturer who has identified a faulty product in your manufacturing lines, stop its production immediately. Recall the product and recompensate your customers promptly and accordingly. Give us a call at (850) 912-8060 to discuss your legal plan of action. In the meantime, send your designers and engineers back to the drawing board and have your service technicians assess your manufacturing equipment.
If you are a manufacturer and have reason to believe your product was ruined in a third-party supply chain, contact us immediately! We can help relieve your business of misplaced blame and help you identify the true at-fault party.
The attorneys at Ward & Barnes can also help if you are a distributor, wholesaler or retailer. If you identify a process that sustains the release of defective items into consumer marketplaces, give us a call to discuss for advice on your next legal steps.
How To Prevent Product Defect Injuries
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely eliminate defective items from your production lines. It is also impossible to prevent 100% of all defective products from entering your distribution chains. Still, there are a variety of steps you can take to help prevent product defects.
First and Foremost, Insure Your Business
Get the necessary insurance you need for your type of business and the products you sell. This can save you from many expenses later on that you may not expect.
Perfect Your Designs
In this case, the adage that says measure twice, cry once offers invaluable advice. Think long and hard about your item’s intended use. Think about how it could be misused. Try to design your product in a way that could keep the item safe to use, even if it is used improperly. Allocate an appropriate amount of time and resources towards designing an infallible product.
Develop a Safe, Unbreakable Product
Use safe and durable materials responsibly. If you use hazardous materials to manufacture your products, ensure you have safe and responsible methods for cleaning your end-result products of hazardous substances. You should also dispose of your hazardous waste responsibly.
Invest In Quality Control
Inspect your production lines routinely. Perform rigorous and creative quality tests on your production and distribution batches. It is also important to inspect and service your machines and equipment.
Regulate Quality Control Among Your Internal Teams
You can educate your employees on recognizing and removing product defect liabilities. A popular way of encouraging employee product liability reporting is through incentive programs. This is a simple but huge way to decrease the likelihood of a defective product entering your distribution streams and into a customer’s hands.
Engage in Responsible and Reliable Supply Chain Partnerships
Create partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers you trust. You want to be able to hand off your items to third parties that will take care of your items and create safe marketplaces for your consumers.
Protect Your Items From Damage With High-Quality Packing
Believe it or not, poor packaging has harmed consumers in the past. So, it’s vital that you invest in high-quality packaging that won’t cut or hurt your customers.
Market Your Products Smartly and Honestly
You can go a long way in preventing product liability claims by investing in the education and satisfaction of your customers and client base. Place visible warning labels on your products, regardless if your insurance or the law requires them or not. You can demonstrate your due diligence to mitigate product defect injuries. This is done by writing thorough descriptions of the intended uses and limits of your products, as well as any situational hazards that may arise.
Show your customers you care by offering easy return and refund policies. Customers who sustain minor injuries from defective products are less likely to raise legal claims if they are satisfactorily compensated.
Call Ward & Barnes To Discuss Your Product Defects Case
If you have purchased or used a defective product that caused you or a loved one harm, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Ward & Barnes in Pensacola today for a no-obligation consultation. You can also visit us online and send us a message with a description of your personal injury situation.