What is product liability law?
Product liability is a body of law that allows an injured person to recover compensation from a manufacturer for injuries caused by a defective product. Like other personal injury claims, the purpose of a product liability claim is to put the injured person in the position they would have been in had the injury never occurred. In essence, the purpose of all personal injury law is to rectify an injustice caused by another person or company’s actions. Since the law is powerless to heal the body, the law remedies injustice by awarding monetary damages in relationship with the severity and nature of the injury.
The law specifies that certain conditions must be met before holding a manufacturer responsible for your injuries. While the exact nuances of the necessary conditions depend on the alleged defect, the general concept is encapsulated in the following elements:
- The product was defective
- The defective product caused the injuries complained of
- The injured victim was using the product as intended
Proving a product was defective is a challenging process and depends on the alleged defect.
Proving a product defect in a product liability claim
Proving a product is defective is not an easy task. Thankfully, to help facilitate an efficient resolution of a product liability claim and ensure injured victims receive the compensation they are entitled to, the law has carved out specific categories of injury-causing defects to help guide the litigation process. These categories include design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.
Product liability claims based on design defects
To successfully prove a product liability claim under a design defect theory, it must be shown that the injury-causing product was defective in the condition the manufacturer intended the product to be produced. In other words, a design defect means that the manufacturer designed and built a product that was unreasonably dangerous for its intended purpose.
Examples of design defects
- A car seat that fails to provide adequate safety
- A seatbelt that fails to contain the occupant
- A vehicle’s roof structure that cannot support the vehicle’s weight during a rollover crash
- Medical devices that exasperate an injury
Product recalls based on defectively designed products
As you can imagine, a design defect is a serious allegation that has a material impact on the manufacturer’s bottom line. In fact, many of the product recalls we see today are initiated after a product liability lawyer successfully proves that a product was defectively designed. Given the strong financial incentive a manufacturer has to defeat these claims, companies facing a design defect claim will spend significant resources on the best lawyers money can buy.
Don’t let this dissuade you from holding a responsible manufacturer accountable. With The Ammons Law Firm on your side, you have a team of industry-leading attorneys that have gone toe-to-toe with the nation’s best and won. In fact, at The Ammons Law Firm, we have held nearly every major manufacturer in America accountable for defective products and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of defective products being recalled.
Product liability claims based on manufacturing defects
To successfully prove a product liability claim under a manufacturing defect theory, it must be shown that the injury-causing product was defective in the manner in which it was manufactured. In other words, the product is defective because an error in the manufacturing process produced a product different than the manufacturer intended, resulting in an unreasonably dangerous product.
Examples of manufacturing defects
- Food or medicine that has been contaminated
- Tires produced with inadequate materials
- Electrical units that contain a faulty grounding
No manufacturing process is perfect, and when an error in the process results in a product that is unreasonably dangerous for its intended purpose, the manufacturer must be held responsible for the injuries caused by that product. To successfully prove a manufacturing defect, the injury-causing product must be retained and examined by industry experts.
If you were injured while using a product and believe the product may be defective, store the product in a secure location until trained experts can retain the product and conduct a thorough analysis of potential defects.
Product liability claims based on marketing defects
To successfully prove a product liability claim based on a marketing defect theory, it must be shown that the injury-causing product lacked safety instructions that would have prevented the injury had the warning or instruction been included. A marketing defect is often referred to as a “failure to warn” claim because the claim focuses on the manufacturer’s failure to warn of foreseeable danger associated with the product’s intended use.
- Dangerous household chemicals that lack proper warning or use instructions
- Medication that lacks proper dosing instructions or fails to warn of potential side effects
It is important to recognize that marketing defect claims are limited by common sense. A manufacturer will generally not be held liable for injuries caused by obvious risks. For instance, a manufacturer would likely not be required to warn consumers that a knife will cut their finger.
Examples of product defect lawsuits
While most product defect lawsuits go unnoticed in the public eye, several product liability lawsuits have attracted national attention. Below is a selection of notable defects that have garnished significant media attention.
General Motors ignition switch design defect
Between 2000 and 2004, General Motors manufactured several automobiles that contained faulty ignition switches. The defect caused the vehicle to shut off while driving, disabling the airbags. The defect resulted in at least 124 deaths and nearly 300 injuries. The defect led to the recall of nearly 30 million vehicles.
Takata airbag design defect
In 2014, Takata, one of the largest manufacturers of airbags in the world, notified auto manufacturers of a defect that would require the recall of nearly 40 million vehicles. The airbags contained a defective inflator that would rupture on deployment and project metal shrapnel at the unsuspecting victims. The defect has led to at least 16 deaths.
Big tobacco marketing defect
The single largest single-plaintiff verdict in American history was rendered against Phillip Morris for failing to warn of potential risks associated with smoking. The Plaintiff, Betty Bullock, alleged she began smoking in the 50s after an ad campaign circulated misinformation on the dangers of tobacco. The jury ultimately awarded Ms. Bullock over $28 billion in damages, although the parties settled for $28 million after the award was appealed.
Talcum powder marketing defect
In 2018, Reuters broke a story alleging that Johnson & Johnson knew that their Talcum powder products contained the deadly carcinogen asbestos but failed to warn consumers. Claimants have since come forth alleging that the powder has caused various cancers, particularly ovarian and mesothelioma.
Litigation regarding this defect is ongoing, but in June 2020, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $2.1 billion to women suffering from various cancers.
Instant Pot design defects
Instant Brands is currently being sued by numerous claimants for injuries caused by exploding Instant Pots. The claims allege that Instant Pot knowingly sells electric pressure cookers with defective lid-locking assemblies that explode under pressure.
Consulting with an Austin defective product lawyer
It is important to recognize that no matter how your injury occurred, you have a right to a free consultation to determine whether you have a product liability claim. Our team of trained lawyers will help you understand your rights and the steps that must be taken to recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law. We have been prosecuting product defect claims for over thirty years and have successfully helped thousands of injured clients in Austin and throughout the United States hold manufacturers responsible for their defective products. Our proven track record of success will provide you confidence that we can help you recover the fair compensation under the law.
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