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What Are a Consumer’s Rights Regarding Defective Products?

defective products

When you buy a product, no matter what it is, you expect it to work as intended and not harm you. Although most products operate correctly and do not injure consumers, sometimes there is an issue with a product. If you buy an item that does not perform as intended, you can return it for a refund. But if the product injures you, you might have a cause of action against the manufacturer for damages.

This legal action is called a products liability claim. It is a complex lawsuit that will require the assistance of skilled and experienced lawyers to help you collect the compensation you need to get better.

Products Liability Claims

A products liability claim is a lawsuit you file against the manufacturer of the product that injured you. To have a valid claim, you need to have been injured and suffered damages. If you have no injuries, you probably have no damages and therefore, nothing to collect.

Most often, products liability claims seek compensation for reimbursement of medical expenses paid out for the medical care you needed as a result of the injury from the product you purchased. But that is not the only type of compensation you can seek, as you may have suffered other losses.

Before you consider compensation, you and your lawyer will need to determine what the manufacturer did wrong. That is determined by a thorough examination of the details surrounding your injury.

Types of Claims

There are three types of products liability claims. Each of them varies slightly, but they all have one thing in common: the manufacturer of the product did something wrong, which resulted in your injury.

Design defects. A design defect arises when the product is designed in such a way that every item is faulty. This is not just something that could go wrong; it is something that goes wrong with every item manufactured.

A chair that is designed with only three legs, for example, would be a design defect. This chair would not provide adequate support for a consumer who could easily fall over and suffer injuries.

Manufacturing defects. Unlike design defects, manufacturing defects do not usually happen with every item produced. Manufacturing defects result from an error during the manufacturing of a product.

For example, a bicycle that has a brake line that is too thin to support stopping could be a manufacturing defect. This defect occurred on just one bicycle, and all the rest had proper sized brake lines. When a rider attempts to brake on this particular bicycle, the brake fails and the rider may suffer injuries.

Failure to warn. Sometimes, products have inherent dangers to them, which may not always be obvious. In this instance, a manufacturer is required to warn consumers about the dangers of using the product.

A space heater, for example, that stays hot too long could be a fire hazard. A manufacturer would be required to place a warning on the device, letting consumers know that leaving the space heater on for too long could result in a fire. If the manufacturer does not provide this warning, they could be liable for any damages suffered by the consumer.

Proving Liability

There are two ways you can prove a company is liable to you for injuries you received using one of their products. Each of these legal theories has merit, and depending on the specifics of your injuries, one path may be better than another.

Negligence. Proving negligence requires that you show the company took action or failed to take reasonable action to prevent your injuries. For example, a car manufacturer who does not put a vehicle through proper testing could be liable for injuries caused in an accident. If the manufacturer had tested the vehicle and learned that side impact collisions could prevent air bags from deploying, they could have taken action that would have prevented more serious injuries in those types of accidents.

To prove negligence, you need to show:

  • The product manufacturer owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached that duty of care by not properly testing their product or designing it with inherent dangers.
  • You purchased the product, used it as intended, and suffered injuries.

To many people, this seems straightforward and simple. However, proving these elements to a legal standard requires evidence of wrongdoing and a failure of the manufacturer to take appropriate action. You can absolutely bet the company will have a team of lawyers ready to discredit your claims.

Strict liability. The other theory of products liability is called strict liability. Under this legal theory, product manufacturers are strictly liable for product defects. These defects must occur during the manufacturing process, but it does not matter if the company took extra precautions.

Under strict liability, you do not have to prove the company was negligent or failed to act appropriately to prevent your injuries. You simply need to prove that the company made the product, and you suffered injuries. The mere fact that the company produced the item is enough to hold them liable for any injuries you suffered.

If you buy a chemical, for example, and you suffer injuries using the chemical, you may have a strict products liability claim. Because the chemical is inherently dangerous and that danger cannot be mitigated by you using the product with extra care, you can file a claim against the manufacturer for your injuries.

Possible Compensation

A key component to collecting compensation under a products liability claim is that you were using the product as intended. You cannot, for example, hold a lawnmower up to trim bushes and then sue the manufacturer when you lose a finger. That is not the intended purpose of the lawnmower, and the manufacturer would not have expected anyone to use the product in that way.

Therefore, if you have used the product as intended and you still got injured, you may have a valid claim against the manufacturer. You may be able to collect compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs

Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may incur a substantial amount of medical bills. Even minor medical expenses can result in serious bills. These bills should not be your responsibility to cover; they should be covered solely by the manufacturer of the product that injured you.

Your injuries may also prevent you from working. Whether permanently or just for a short time, being out of work means you do not have a way to support yourself and pay your regular bills, let alone your medical expenses. Many people injured fail to realize they can collect compensation for lost income from the company that manufactured a defective product. This can be a substantial amount of money, depending on how long you are out of work.

Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Protect the Rights of Consumers

You have a right to be safe when you use a product as intended. If you get injured, the manufacturer should be responsible for your medical expenses and other financial losses. To help you protect your rights and get the compensation you need, speak with the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.