If you have been injured by a product you may have a claim against the manufacturer to compensate you for your medical costs and other damages. In order to win a products liability case, you need to prove that:
- You were injured or suffered losses
- The product is defective
- The defect caused your injury
- You were using the product as it was intended
Let’s examine each element in more detail.
Injury or Loss
In order to prove a claim for products liability, you must be able to show that you were injured or suffered economic damages due to the defective product. Without damages, there is no claim. For example, if you were almost hit by an exploding tire but managed to get out of the way in time to avoid injury, you have no claim.
There are three main types of defect product claims: (1) Manufacturing Error (2) Design Defect and (3) Failure to Warn.
A manufacturing error, such as a faulty seal in a tire that caused it to explode, is usually fairly straightforward to prove. However, a design defect is more difficult to prove because you have to demonstrate that the design itself was unreasonable. For example, if a tire is designed as not withstand the pressure of ordinary driving and it explodes, you may have a design defect claim. Determining whether a product is unreasonably dangerous is complicated and must take into consideration the availability and cost of alternative designs. Consider the case of airbags–they cause injuries every day. However, courts have determined that their low cost and effectiveness at saving lives does not mean they are unreasonably dangerous. Also just because an item is dangerous does not mean that it is defective. For example, knives are inherently dangerous but they are not designed incorrectly. A more common way to prove products liability is through failure to warn. If a manufacturer makes a dangerous product without proper warnings and instructions for the average customer, the manufacturer can be liable. For example, if a manufacturer makes a tire that will explode above 120 PSI and doesn’t warn you that not to exceed this pressure, you could have a failure to warn claim.
In some cases, the link between the defect and an injury is obvious. For example, your tire exploded while you were changing it and you suffered injuries as a result. However, other relationships may be more complicated. If you were speeding in a car with an exploding tire problem and got into an accident, the car manufacturer will argue that your speeding caused the accident and not the exploding tires.
You must have been using the product in a way that the manufacturer intended or could reasonably foresee customers to use it. If you use the product in a way that no reasonable person would do, then you have no claim. For example, if your son skateboards off the roof intending to land in the pool and misses the pool because the wheel of the skateboard comes off, he has no claim because the skateboard was not intended to be used on a rough surface like a roof.
As described above, products liability can be a complicated legal area. If you have been injured by a product and believe you have a claim, please contact us at 702-522-0696 so we can assist you in evaluating your case.