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Defective, unsafe, dangerous, and hazardous products are addressed in personal injury law by product liability. Simply put, product manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are responsible for injury and damage resulting from use of their products. This includes virtually all consumer products, food, drugs, real estate and more.
Often, product liability is subject to a classification of personal injury law called “strict liability.” This means that the usual burdens of proof of specific, intentional or negligent acts is dismissed; the simple fact that an injury occurred is proof of liability on the part of the product manufacturer or retailer.
Product liability, for the most part, assumes proper use of an unmodified product by the plaintiff. Using a product in a way other than as directed or altering the product (such as disabling safety features) may void any liability on the part of the manufacturer or retailer.
Above and beyond strict liability, distinctions of negligence and breach of warranty also exist under product liability. Regarding negligence, the company may have been inadequate (negligent) in testing and assuring the safety of its product. Regarding breach of warranty, the “warranty of fitness and freedom from defect” implied when an item is sold may be breached if the product is later found to be defective or unfit for the purpose intended.
A defective product may become so at different times during production/manufacture. Three areas are generally accepted:
- Failure to warn. This refers to incomplete or inadequate directions for use and safety, which can render a safe product deadly. For example, toxicity information and directions for use on antifreeze for automobiles ensure that is it ingested by cars, not people.
- Defect of design. A defect is built right into the product; it is flawed in its planning and conception. A car wheel designed with an inadequate number of bolts may lead to a wheel detatching from the car while on the highway, even though production/manufacture was flawless.
- Defect of manufacture. In this case, the design is sound, but something has gone wrong during production, creating a defect that would not exist if the product were created as intended. A car wheel designed with adequate bolts that are then cross-threaded during production may lead to the same problem of a wheel detatching while on the highway, but through the fault of production rather than design.
For success in cases of product liability, the product in question should be preserved, along with all paperwork detailing the product’s origin and chain of ownership.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977 or contact us online. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.