As consumers, we often trust that the manufacturers of the products we buy are careful in their design and manufacturing. Some products hold our lives in their hands, and we need them to work safely. We rely on cars, medical devices, and household appliances to be safe for us and our families to use, but sometimes they fail catastrophically.
When that happens, we usually lose the product – but defective devices can cause severe injuries, burns, and even death. In recent years, the news has commonly been filled with incidents of exploding cell phone batteries, scooters and Hoverboards that catch on fire, and vehicle recalls that threaten lives with dangerous designs.
If you or a family member has been hurt, or a family member has been killed by a defective product, you deserve compensation. In Baltimore, Bennett and Heyman, P.A., fights for its clients’ recovery against manufacturers who create dangerous products. If you need an attorney for your defective product injuries, contact our firm today to talk to an experienced attorney about your case.
Products Without Warnings Cause Injury
Everyone has likely seen products with labels that warn of hot surfaces, sharp objects, electric shock, and other dangers associated with the product’s use. These are there to help keep consumers from injuring themselves on products – but also to cover the manufacturers. If a user knows that a product can be dangerous, it is less likely that they will be able to recover in a lawsuit against the manufacturer when they are injured. However, when people are injured by products that lack warnings, these companies can be made to pay large sums to the injured users. For example, lawnmowers and chainsaws are dangerous by nature, but a warning to keep your hands away from the moving parts helps keep users safer.
If a product poses a danger to the user when being used as intended, it can often lead to liability if there is no warning. Even when the product’s dangerous use is not the intended use, if the misuse is foreseeable enough, courts may still award damages when there are no warnings. For instance, a barbeque/grill is intended for use outdoors, but it is reasonably foreseeable that someone might try to grill indoors. To protect those users and cut off liability, most grill manufacturers warn users never to use the grill indoors.
When the use is intended or reasonably foreseeable, the failure on the part of a manufacturer to warn its users can result in grave injury that deserves compensation.
Sometimes products are poorly designed, and lead to user injury because of the lack of built-in safety precautions. A classic example is the Ford Pinto, whose gas tank was poorly designed and unsafely located within the vehicle, which lead to many ruptures and fires that injured drivers. Many of these deaths and injuries were compensated in lawsuits against Ford and created a bad reputation that still persists today.
To prove a design defect requires three main proofs:
- As designed, the product was unsafe;
- An alternative, safer design is possible; and
- The alternative, safer design would not cost more to implement.
If an injured consumer can prove these elements regarding the product that injured them, they are able to recover against the product manufacturer.
For example, a food processor or blender may be unsafely designed if it can be turned on while the lid is off and the blade is exposed. To counter this, many manufacturers design their appliances so that they cannot be turned on unless the lid and bowl are locked into place. If adding this safety feature does not cost more than excluding it, a case can be made that the blender was unsafely designed, and its manufacturer is liable for user injuries.
Proving a defect in the design of a product means proving that all products that follow the same design are unsafe, not just the particular product you received. This means that, even if the product you were personally injured by is destroyed or lost, you can use any example of the product to show a jury it is dangerous.
Often, proving a design defect requires using expert witnesses in the industry, such as engineers, product designers, and other manufacturers to prove that the design is dangerous. Our attorneys use whatever experts are necessary to help us prove our clients’ cases to a jury.
Sometimes, the product is designed safely enough, and has all of the proper warnings, but the specific product that the consumer received was defective. Sometimes, somewhere along the manufacturing process, manufacturers fail to properly assemble the product. That might lead to the product breaking, falling apart, or containing some imperfection that injures its user.
Some examples of this might be a loose screw, an electrical short, or a missing piece. Sometimes, factories substitute other materials to save time or money. For instance, if a product’s design calls for a piece of metal, but the factory uses plastic instead to save money, the plastic may break, causing a consumer injury.
In these cases, the proof is much simpler. Instead of proving that an entire product line is flawed, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the product they received was defective. This specifically means proving that the product deviated from the design, and that deviation caused injury.
That does mean that, while a design defect can use other products of the same design to prove the danger, a manufacturing defect usually requires bringing the specific device that injured you into court. That requires saving the device that injured you, so that it may be examined by experts and manufacturers to prove the defect.
Talk to a Lawyer Today About Your Products Liability Claim
Since some products liability cases require saving the product in question, and because all product injury cases must follow legal time limits, it is important to talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as you can. Missing deadlines or failing to save the defective product may hurt your ability to recover for your injuries.
If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed or injured, by a defective product in Baltimore, call Bennett and Heyman, P.A., today. Our experienced product injury attorneys are waiting to hear about your case. Call us at (410) 727-2168.