Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Proving Personal Injury from Defective Products

In order to make a successful defective product liability claim, several factors come into play.  While particulars that must be proven may vary from state to state, in general product liability law requires that you prove the following:

Injury or losses occurred
• The product  was defective
• The defect caused the injury or loss
• The product was being used in the intended way

These factors are known as "elements" in the legal claim and will be considered in depth below.

Manufacturing Error 
A manufacturing error means that a mistake was made during the creation of the particular product you purchased -- it had a crack, a threadless screw, a sharp edge -- that was unintended. This type of defect is typically easier to prove than a design defect.
Design Defect
A design defect, on the other hand, means that intended design of the product had a flaw. This is usually more difficult for the injured party to prove. There are, however, cases in which there is a clear design flaw. Numerous examples can be found in manufacturer recalls in which a product such as a crib or a tire has been found to be defective. 

Limits on Liability

The fact that a product is, by its nature, dangerous, does not mean that a person injured by that product has a case. Being cut by a sharp knife or burned by a lit match is not considered to be the result of a faulty product, but of personal carelessness, since everyone knows knives are sharp and fire is hot.
 Were Warnings of Possible Danger Provided by the Manufacturer?
If the car manufacturer has warned you that the car's airbags are inherently dangerous, though they protect against life-threatening injuries during impact, you have been forewarned and are not likely be able to pursue a successful personal injury case. In the same vein, manufacturers who provide Caution! stickers about electrical or other dangers are more likely to be able to withstand an injury claim. 

Was the Defect the Cause of Your Injury?

If you were reckless in using the product, whether it had a defect or not, you may not be able to prove that the defect caused the injury. Your speed or carelessness may have played a part. Also, if you were using the product in a way that was not intended by the manufacturer, the court may rule against you.  Using a tool or kitchen implement as a toy, for instance, is an unintended usage. Even if you are injured because said object appears to malfunction (loses a handle, for example) , it can be argued that the handle came off because you were misusing the product.
In spite of the limitations on personal injury cases concerning defective products, many such cases result in legitimate restitution. If you have suffered injury or monetary loss due to a product defect, you should consult a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

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