Sometimes, when a product doesn’t work correctly, we get frustrated, return it to the store, or vow never to buy another one. But what if your product malfunctions in such a way that it injures you?
What if you’re so badly hurt that you end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills, weeks of lost income, and other damages?
This situation is more common than you might think. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that consumer products are involved in over 50,000 deaths and more than 28 million injuries each year (although the product is not always the cause of injury).
Defective products in almost any category can cause harm, but some of the more common categories include:
Toys and children’s products. Every parent wants the products they buy for their children to be safe, but dozens of these products are recalled each year, often due to safety concerns. Walkers, items used in cribs, furniture, toys with moving parts, and items that could pose a choking hazard are often the subject of recalls.
Bicycles. Most bicycle accidents are caused by human error rather than a defective product, but in some cases, a defective component or design defect in the bike itself is to blame. If you have a bicycle accident for no apparent reason—you didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did anyone else—you might consider a bike problem. This is especially true if you noticed your bike didn’t respond the way it typically does or if a component of the bike specifically caused you to crash.
Other exercise equipment. Frequently, people report injuries related to the use of treadmills, stationary bikes, and other items for staying in shape. Sometimes, user error is also an issue here, but in other cases, the items were unreasonably dangerous.
Furniture. Items that collapse or are easily toppled (such as a bookcase that can fall on a toddler) may have a design defect that affects safety.
Health, beauty, and skincare. The FDA does not heavily regulate these products, and in some cases, they contain ingredients not mentioned on the package, toxins, irritants, or other contaminants.
Drugs and medical devices. Pharmaceutical products face more intense scrutiny by the FDA, but there are still some situations where unsafe drugs receive approval before a problem is identified. Even products that undergo clinical trials aren’t always as safe as they seem when they receive FDA approval—some potential dangers don’t become evident until the drug is studied in the broader population.
Household appliances. If your appliance has inexplicably caused a fire, given you a severe electric shock, burned you, or injured you in some other way, it could be defective.
How Can a Bridgeport Product Liability Attorney Help You?
We know how distressing it can be to wonder why your injury occurred or if it could have been prevented. Many people who are injured by consumer products are unsure of what happened or how to pay their medical bills while they’re out of work.
If you’re struggling to understand your accident or need advice about recovering damages, we’ll review your case and help you understand the options. Additionally, we’ll identify any and all liable parties (there may be more than one).
If you have a strong product liability case, we may be able to file a claim against the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of the item. Depending on the situation, we might recommend a lawsuit against one or more of these parties.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Product Liability Case?
Here are the elements of a product liability case that we will need to prove:
The Product Had a Defect
Some people may not realize what caused their injury because they aren’t familiar with the multiple ways a product could be defective. Here are the three main types of defects we will look for:
Design defect. This means the product has a flaw in its design that makes each item potentially dangerous to consumers (although many people may use the product without issue). For instance, some prescription medications have design defects that increase the risk of severe health complications, like cancer, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, birth defects, etc.
Manufacturing defect. This is different from a design defect because the formula or design of the product is not inherently hazardous. However, an error or irregularity in production causes a problem with some batches or lots of the product. Often, food products or medications are damaged by some kind of contamination—other medications, bacteria like Salmonella or other pathogens, small pieces of metal, glass, or other debris in the final product, etc. With household products, the items may be misshapen or fail to function as expected, leading to potential accidents.
Failure to warn of defect. This is also sometimes called a “marketing defect.” Many items have risks that are acceptable as long as the end user knows about them. For example, a chainsaw can be very dangerous if misused, and for that reason, the user manual will have a long list of things you should not do while using your chainsaw. If you ignore the instructions in the manual and injure yourself, that’s not the chainsaw manufacturer’s fault. However, what if the manual or product information doesn’t provide a warning about a specific risk? Most product manufacturers are very thorough in writing warnings about their products, but they can’t warn you if they aren’t aware of a potential problem. If you were harmed because a product manufacturer didn’t warn you about a risk, you may have a failure to warn claim.
The Product Was Defective When It Exited the Defendant’s Control, and It Reached You in This Defective Condition
The idea of this requirement is that a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer can’t be blamed for changes someone else makes to the product. For example, if an electronic product became defective because you took it apart and rebuilt it with unapproved parts, that isn’t the manufacturer’s fault.
Frequently, the defendant will claim that the end user altered the product in some way that rendered it defective. For this reason, we’ll examine the item (if possible), any available photos or video of the accident, and other evidence to create a timeline of what happened.
We’ll then work to show that you didn’t alter the product and it was already defective when you received it. Sometimes, in doing so, we learn who the liable party really is—perhaps the item was fine when it left the manufacturer, but a wholesaler or retailer damaged it before you bought it.
The Defect Made the Product “Unreasonably Dangerous”
As we discussed earlier, many products have risks that are considered acceptable. The reality is that no one can anticipate every possible way the use of a product might go wrong, and most of the items in your home could be dangerous under specific circumstances.
For this reason, it’s not enough to simply say that the item was dangerous due to its defect. If your case went before a jury, they would be asked to decide if the product defect was “unreasonably dangerous” based on a legal concept called the Consumer Expectations Test.
In other words, was the product more dangerous than the average consumer would expect it to be? If so, then you likely have a strong case.
Most product liability cases will not go to trial but will be resolved through negotiations with the defendant and/or their insurance company. However, the Consumer Expectations Test is still crucial.
If the other party’s personal injury lawyers in Bridgeport realize their product was probably unreasonably dangerous under these standards, they will be more inclined to agree on a fair settlement.
You Were Specifically Harmed by the Unreasonably Dangerous Defect and Suffered Damages as a Result
Even if we can prove the defect was unreasonably dangerous, we still have to show it directly caused your injuries. Again, we will gather as much evidence as possible, including photos, videos, witness statements, electronic data, and more.
We’ll then craft a strategy to demonstrate precisely how the unreasonably dangerous product defect harmed you. Finally, we’ll use medical records, bills, pay stubs, and other documentation to show that you had damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and more.
Where Can You Find a Bridgeport Product Liability Law Firm?
If you or a loved one suspects a defective product has injured you, please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation. We’ll learn about your injuries, examine the defective product (if available), and explain your options for seeking compensation.
Attorney Bert McDowell, Jr. is an experienced trial attorney who has worked in the insurance industry and gained the knowledge necessary to maximize client settlements. He has been honored as a Super Lawyers Rising Star for multiple years and was also in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine.
Dedicated to faith, family, and community, he has served on nonprofit boards and worked on numerous community service projects. He’s received the 100 Men of Color Award for his community service work as well as the Man of Excellence Award from the organization Black People Rocks.
There is no obligation, and if we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it. Call us today at (203) 590-9169.