Frequently Asked Questions About Product Liability Cases
What is a product liability case?
If you were injured by a product because it was defective, you may have a product liability claim. Products are generally defective for one of two reasons: (1) the product was improperly designed to be safely used for its intended purpose, or (2) the product was not manufactured according to its design, and the manufacturing error made the product unsafe.
Sometimes, the product may have been designed to be as safe as possible, and manufactured according to its design, but the manufacturer or seller of the product failed to warn the consumer of inherent dangers in the product that might not be obvious to the average person. We call this a “failure to warn” case.”
What if the product was designed well, but I still got hurt while using it?
It is possible that your injury was caused by a manufacturing defect, rather than a design defect. A manufacturing defect occurs where the manufacturer produces a product that does not meet the design requirements. For example, if a child’s pajamas are designed to be flame retardant, but the manufacturer fails to use flame retardant materials when making the pajamas, the manufacturer may be responsible if the child suffers injury caused by a fire.
I was injured while using a product. Is the product manufacturer responsible for my injuries?
It is possible, but not every product-related injury results in a legal claim. You must prove that your injury was caused by design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a failure of the manufacturer to provide a warning before the manufacturer can be held responsible.
I called the manufacturer and reported my injury. The manufacturer wants me to return the product to them. Should I do that?
Absolutely not. You should preserve the product in the condition it was in at the time of your injury. If the product is lost or destroyed, it may be impossible to pursue a product liability claim. You should preserve all parts that may have become detached. If you still have the original packaging, you should save it. You should also save all owner’s manuals, instruction manuals and the receipt from the purchase.
The manufacturer says that I “misused” the product. What does that mean and will it affect my case?
It depends. Manufacturers are required to anticipate “foreseeable misuses” of their products. If the engineers who designed your product knew, or should have known, that the product could have been used in the manner that caused injury, and if they failed to provide a warning about this “misuse,” the manufacturer may still be responsible for your injuries.
I’ve saved the product. Now what do I do?
You should contact a lawyer with experience investigating defective products. The product may need to be tested by engineers or other experts. It is important to document the examination and investigation of the product, so that the manufacturer will not be able to later claim that the product was altered after your injury.
What is a “breach of warranty?”
A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer to the consumer. Warranties can be written, verbal or implied. Many warranties concern the safety of the product. For example, if you purchase a bicycle helmet at a department store, and the product includes a promise to provide protection in the event of a bicycle accident, the manufacturer may be responsible for head injuries suffered if the helmet breaks apart during a bicycle accident.
What is an “implied warranty?”
An implied warranty is an obligation imposed upon the manufacturer, even if the manufacturer hasn’t made a specific promise. For example, if you purchase a hockey puck, you are entitled to assume that the puck won’t shatter into pieces when it is hit with a hockey stick. If the puck explode into pieces, causing injuries to the hockey players, the manufacturer may be responsible for those injuries even though it didn’t specifically warn that the puck could shatter or explode.