What Is Product Liability
Product Liability refers to any claim where someone was injured or made ill due to a defective product. In the United States, products have to meet certain basic requirements before a company can legally offer them for sale. These requirements change depending on the type of product, but in general fall into two broad categories:
- They cannot contain unsafe or unhealthy materials
- They must be reasonably safe to use
Product liability claims can include anything sold, including cars, home appliances, food, or even medication. However, for a company to be found liable for an injury caused by something they sold, the product has to be defective. For example, someone running a red light and crashing into another car is often not the fault of the vehicle manufacturer. However, if the airbags in the car didn’t function properly and caused additional injuries, there could be a product liability claim.
Types Of Product Liability
Since product liability cases can involve almost anything bought or sold, every case is unique. However, there are three broad types of cases that they largely fall under: Manufacturing, Design, and Instruction.
Many products today are mass produced. Machines and computers automate the process, allowing companies to produce more than they ever did before. Automation also helps make products uniform which means that every product will tend to work the same way.
However, no system is perfect and an error in this process could result in defective or dangerous products. Defective manufacturing liability occurs when something in the assembly process fails, resulting in a product that causes injury. For example, in a factory that cleans and packages food, some vital system might fail, resulting in products that ship with potentially dangerous bacteria such as E coli. If someone gets sick by eating the defective food, they could hold the manufacturer responsible.
Before a company decides to sell a product, they’ll test it to make sure that it’s safe. In some industries, like car manufacturers, there are strict safety requirements every vehicle must meet before going on sale. Sometimes, however, a flaw is only discovered after a product goes on sale.
Design liability is different than Manufacturing liability because in this case the product is built exactly the way it should be. In this case, every product is potentially dangerous, which can have serious consequences. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see a company recall a product completely.
For example, a company making children’s toys might discover that pieces fall off too easily, creating a potential choking hazard. In this case, the problem is not how the product was put together, but instead the materials that were used.
Unclear Instructions or Warnings
When someone buys a product, they have a reasonable expectation of safety. A warning of “do not use in the shower” on a hair dryer might sound odd, but they are there to help protect people from potentially dangerous situations with otherwise safe products. Safety instructions are a promise by the manufacturer. But what if those instructions aren’t clear?
It’s impossible for a company to offer warnings for every potentially dangerous situation. People are creative, and can think of ways to use a product that the manufacturer never considered. However, companies have the responsibility to provide instructions and warnings that would cover how most people might use a product. Hair dryers are used often in bathrooms or places with running water, so providing a warning about the shower makes sense. Injuries caused by improper labeling is a form of Marketing Liability.
If a pharmaceutical company comes up with a new drug, it is their responsibility to warn customers how the medication will interact with anything else they’re taking. For example, if a new painkiller reacts negatively with alcohol, the company making it must provide a warning. If they don’t, they could be found liable in a personal injury claim from a patient who took their medication.
Get An Advance On Your Expected Claim
If you or a loved one experienced an injury due to a defective or dangerous product, the manufacturer could be responsible to pay for your medical bills and other costs you have because of the accident. However, getting the money from your claim can take time.
While you wait for your attorney and the insurance companies to come to an agreement, you still need to find money to help you pay your bills. If you need cash and can’t wait for your settlement, give us a call. At Peachtree Financial, we can help connect you with companies willing to buy a portion of your expected settlement proceeds for money to spend sooner.
Recovering from a personal injury can take money and time. Pre-settlement funding can help you pay bills until your case resolves.
Peachtree Financial does not offer legal, tax, or financial advice. Please contact independent professionals for those services.