What About Products That Cause Injuries?
Just think of the myriad of products which you use every day which have the
potential, if improperly designed or manufactured, to cause serious bodily harm.
The tools and electrical appliances we use, the cars which we drive, and the
food which we eat all have the potential to create serious injury.
With product liability claims we are concerned with injuries which have occurred
or are caused by products as opposed to injuries that are caused by other people.
When an injury has occurred by or through the use of a product, one of the
most important steps is to preserve the product which caused the injury and
the evidence which surrounds the way in which the injury was caused. For example:
The ladder which gave way and caused the fall to occur must be preserved so
that the specific product can be identified, and then analyzed by a trained
professional to determine the cause of the failure. It may also be necessary
to show that the product was not altered after the time it was manufactured.
The product and the scene of the accident should be photographed just as soon
as possible after the accident, and it may, depending upon the case, be appropriate
to take statements from certain witnesses.
Product liability cases generally fall into three categories. The first are
products which are defectively designed. For example: The child's toy soldier
which, when its head is removed, exposes a sharp nail, becoming a dangerous
weapon in the hands of a child. Another example might be a saw which is dangerous
enough when used normally, but which could have been guarded to prevent the
injury which occurred.
The second type of product liability claim arises from the defective manufacture
of products. These are products which, through some flaw in the manufacturing
process, are defective and thereby create injury. As an example, the jar of
instant coffee, which during the manufacturing process created glass spikes
inside the jar which were then swallowed by the purchaser. In these types of
cases, preservation of the evidence becomes even more critical because we are
often dealing with a product which is not like the products which the company
The third category involves cases where the manufacturer had a duty to warn
the consumer of a known hazard or necessary precaution, but failed to do so.
In most product liability cases the manufacturer and other parties in the chain
of distribution may be held responsible for the injuries suffered, including
medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability or disfigurement, pain, suffering,
and emotional distress. If it can be established that the company knew of the
defect in the product and had an ample opportunity to correct it but failed
to do so, then the company may additionally be held responsible for punitive
damages. These are damages which are designed to deter the company and others
from knowingly making or selling products which are unreasonably dangerous to
the consuming public.
Product liability claims are generally not easy to settle for a very simple
reason. In most cases the company has its' reputation at stake. The company
will be concerned about establishing a pattern of paying damages for injuries
which are caused by their products. For this reason you will find that companies
take these claims seriously, investigate the cases thoroughly, and generally
will not enter into a monetary settlement unless it has been demonstrated that
the claim is valid, that the evidence has been properly preserved, and the case
In any case involving a defective or dangerous product, we urge you to have
the case reviewed and investigated just as soon as possible by an attorney who
is familiar with this area of the law.