Almost any product has the potential to injure, harm, or kill a person. Every year, thousands of people are seriously harmed or killed in accidents caused by defective designed and manufactured products. If a person is seriously injured or killed by a defective product, the designer, manufacturer, supplier, and/or retailer may be held liable for damages. Manufacturers, designers, and distributors of products are legally required to make sure that the products they release for public consumption do not pose unreasonable risk of injury or illness to the public.
There are numerous ways in which a consumer may be injured by a product he or she purchased, but it does not necessarily mean that the product is faulty. Product defects stem from some form of negligence or oversight at some point during the design, manufacture, or sale of a product. Product liability claims typically involve the following:
Defective Design: a design defect occurs when the way the product itself was designed is unreasonably dangerous and the user is threatened simply by using the product.
Defective Manufacture: a manufacturing defect occurs when something goes wrong while the product is being put together and makes it such that the product is dangerous to use.
Failure to Warn: a failure to warn occurs when then manufactured neglects to warn the consumer of potentially dangerous uses of a given product.
In a product liability case, you can proceed using a number of legal theories including most commonly, strict liability, but negligence and breach of warranty theories are also used.
Strict Liability: this is the most popular type of product liability theory because you do not need to prove any violation of the duty of care. Strict liability applies when a company is engaged in the business of selling the product that caused the injury, and that product is expected to and does reach the public provided it is in substantially the same condition in which it was sold. Strict liability theory holds all the defendants in the chain of distribution responsible for any defects in the products they release to the public. This includes those involved in the design, manufacture, and sale of a product.
Negligence: a negligence theory is used when it is possible to prove the defendant did not exercise the proper degree of care when designing, manufacturing or otherwise providing the product to the public. This duty is owed to anyone who is likely to be injured by the product if it is defective. This includes the duty to make adequate inspections during product manufacture, the duty to use proper packaging, and the duty to issue adequate instructions and warnings. If it is possible to prove in court that any of these duties were breached, an injured party can bring a product liability claim based on negligence.
Breach of Warranty: an action for the breach of warranty, either express, implied, or of fitness for a particular purpose, is similar a strict liability claim, in that no negligence or other fault needs to be shown. In these cases the seller must receive prompt notice of the breach if liability is going to be imposed and it must be shown that the buyer relied on the warranty. This theory is less popular that the strict liability and negligence theories for holding defendants accountable in product liability cases.
When bringing a successful product liability claim, it is important to be able to properly document evidence. It will also be necessary to prove that the product at issue was actually defective. If possible, the product that caused the injury should be preserved to be used as evidence. It will also be necessary for you to be able to show that the injuries or illness caused by the defective product with proper medical records and reports, as well as other proof of the damage caused by the product, for example photographs and expert testimony.
As is the case with most lawsuits, you only have a certain amount of time in which to bring an action against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the offending product. This is known as the statute of limitations. The time limit begins to run as soon as the injury occurs or at the moment you become aware of the injury in cases where the injury develops over time. Typically, you have a maximum of three years in which to file a product liability claim in New York. Filing a claim after the statute of limitations has run, will most likely lead to a dismissal of your case.
A common types of product liability product cases are those involving health and medicine. For example, defective drugs, medical devices and surgical implants.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by either a defective product or a product with an improper warning, you may have a valid product liability claim. Contact the Law Offices of David I. Pankin at 888-529-9600 to arrange for a free consultation or fill out our free legal analysis form.