As a consumer, you have certain rights. Manufacturers are required by law to sell products that are safe for people to use. Unfortunately, dangerous and defective products sometimes slip through the cracks and end up on the market. People who are injured or suffer other damages because of a product may have a defective product liability claim. Product liability claims are complex, and determining whether you have a valid claim and preparing your case can be challenging. Familiarizing yourself with how these claims work makes the process a bit easier.
Types of Product Liability Claims
There are many ways one can be injured or suffer damages because of a defective product. The claims, however, can typically be broken down into three categories of product liability. These categories are defective manufacturing, defective design and inadequate warning or instructions.
Claims related to defectively manufactured products are some of the most common. In these cases, injuries or damages occur as the result of a flaw caused by a manufacturing error. Companies manufacture millions of products, and once in a while, a defective one ends up being sold to an unsuspecting consumer. This could be something like a bad batch of medication that causes illness, a piece of furniture that breaks because of a damaged screw or other problems from production.
Claims involving defective design are those in which injuries or damages occur because there is something inherently dangerous about the way the product is designed. While defective manufacturing can impact just one or a few individual items out of millions, defective design impacts the entire product line. Cell phone batteries that explode when overcharged and tires that fail and cause serious accidents fall into the defective design category.
Failure to Provide Adequate Instructions or Warnings
Manufacturers are also required to provide adequate instructions or warnings on their products. When injuries or other damages occur as a result of their failure to do so, the victim may have a failure-to-warn claim. These types of claims often involve products that are dangerous in a way that is not immediately obvious to the user and those that require extra caution when using them. Medications that don’t list potential drug interactions, corrosives sold without labels that indicate how to safely handle them, or electronics that do not warn of potential dangers if the products are misused are all examples in which consumers may have failure-to-warn claims.
Proving a Product Liability Claim
The exact requirements for proving that you have a valid product liability claim vary from state to state. In general, however, you are required to prove that you were injured or suffered another type of loss, the product is defective or not adequately labeled, the defect or lack of liability caused your injury/loss, and that you were using the product as it was intended.
It is extremely important to note that you must have actually been injured or suffered a loss. If a defective product breaks and you almost get hurt or your property is almost damaged, you don’t have a claim. Without actual damage or injury, filing a claim will get you nowhere. In this situation, it is best to just contact the product manufacturer to report the problem.
If you are injured or suffer a loss, you need to be able to prove that the product is defective and that it directly caused the damage or injury. You also need to be able to prove that you were using the product as intended. If you cut your fingers by adding food to your food processor manually without using the included pusher, you are to blame for the injury, not the manufacturer. Of course, if the food processor didn’t come with instructions telling you to use the pusher instead of your fingers, you could have a claim.
When to Contact an Attorney
If you have been injured or suffered a loss as the result of a defective or improperly labeled product, contacting an experienced attorney is your best course of action. At Kopelman Sitton, we are experienced in both product liability claims and personal injury claims, and we can help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. Our Georgia personal injury lawyers have helped countless people with product liability claims, and we will help you determine whether you have a case and guide you through the process. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.