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October 27, 2020

What is Product Liability?

There are dangerous products on the market. There’s no doubt about that. Every year thousands of lawsuits get filed against the manufacturers of some of the most popular products in the country, from children’s toys to prescription medication. For this reason, our nation created “product liability laws,” a set of legal rules concerning who bears responsibility for defective or dangerous products. These laws differ from typical personal injury law, and, sometimes, make it easier for a person injured by a defective product to receive compensation for their injuries. So, what are the ins-and-outs of product liability? Below, we outline all you need to know about product liability to make an informed decision about whether you have a case.

Product Liability: What is It?

When a manufacturer or seller is held responsible for a defective product reaching the hands of a consumer, this is considered a product liability case. Essentially, the law mandates for products to meet the normal expectations of the consumer. If a product falls outside of that expectation, a manufacturer or seller of a product could be found liable for a consumer’s injuries.

A defective product can range in type from a weedkiller containing toxic chemicals unknown to the public (like Roundup weedkiller) to a metal hip implant with design defects (like Stryker’s Tritanium Acetabular Shells). Some products are dangerous by nature, like a chainsaw or an electric knife. If products like these were too dull to injure anyone, the product would be useless, because they would be unable to be used for their intended purposes. But, if a manufacturer fails to provide proper safety instructions and warnings for how to use a chainsaw or electric knife to avoid injury, the manufacturer could be found liable for causing a consumer’s injuries.

While there is no federal product liability law, each state has its own unique product liability laws based on theories of liability, breach of warranty, and negligence. Some states have their own unique commercial statutes which contain warranty rules. These may impact product liability cases, but the attorney you hire for your case will know which ones apply to your case or not.

Product Defects

Typically, types of product defects are broken down into three categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.

Design defects are defects that are found in a product before it is even manufactured. Think about the blueprints of a house or the ingredients in shampoo. If, say, the architect did not design the house to fit proper safety protocols or one of the ingredients in a bottle of shampoo was a known carcinogen, the designs of these products could be found liable for failing to ensure their product design was safe for consumers.

In the middle of the distribution chain, manufacturing defects occur during the manufacturing or assembly of a product. For example, product liability lawsuits are being filed against the manufacturers of valsartan, a blood pressure medication. These lawsuits allege that during the manufacturing process, trace amounts of a carcinogen called NDMA entered into batches of valsartan, contaminating thousands of lots of the medication. This is considered a manufacturing defect, which is liable for a product liability claim.

Lastly, marketing defects happen when a marketing company or manufacturer fails to safely market a product. This could include improper labeling, lacking instructions, or subpar safety warnings. For example, lawsuits against JUUL e-cigarettes allege that the company illegally targeted minors in their marketing campaigns and downplayed the addictive nature of nicotine in their products. JUUL injury lawsuits claim the deceptive marketing counts as negligence, making JUUL liable for the injuries of children and young adults across the United States.

Who’s Responsible in a Product Liability Case?

Any and all sellers of a defective product within the distribution chain could be found liable for a defective product. This could include the product manufacturer, manufacturer of component parts, the wholesaler, the retail store that sold the product to the consumer, or even the party that installs or assembles a product. Basically, anyone involved with the creation, marketing, or distribution of a defective product could be responsible for your injuries.

Some cases states require that a “privity of contract” ---a contractional relationship---had to exist at some point between an injured consumer and the supplier of a defective product in order for the injured person to recover compensation. However, the majority of states say an injured person does not have to be the purchaser of the defective product in order to recover compensation for their injuries. Any individual who could have potentially been injured by a defective product can seek compensation for their injuries as long as the product was sold to an individual at some point.

Need Help with Your Product Liability Case? Connect with Us Today

In a product liability case, you want experience and extensive legal knowledge on your side to ensure you receive maximal compensation. That’s where we come in. At the McGartland Law Firm, we fight on behalf of individuals injured by dangerous and defective products across the country. We’ve acquired over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for clients, and we ensure that when you partner with us, you partner with excellence in service, experience, and results.

Facing a product liability claim may seem intimidating, even scary in some cases. When you partner with the McGartland Law Firm, we do our best to make this process as hassle-free as possible for you, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries, not cutting through red tape. For your convenience, we offer free, no-obligation case consultations to see if you may qualify to file a claim. In the end, if you decide that filing a claim is not longer what you want to pursue, no worries! You are under no obligation to our firm, and your information is kept private and protected.

We’re here to ensure your rights are protected and that you only get the best results from filing a product liability claim. For your free, no-obligation case consultation, contact us today or give us a call at 866.832.9300.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Product Liability?"

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