We rely on thousands of products every day to help us go about our daily life. Although we may never think about it, many of these products can pose a serious risk of injury or death if they malfunction or have a defective design. Even the products that are supposed to keep us safe, like seat belts and airbags, can create a serious risk of injury when they are defective. When someone is injured by a defective product, the company or individuals responsible should be held accountable for the damage they've caused.
Product Defect Liability
Manufacturers, producers, distributors, and even sellers may be liable for product defects based on product liability law. The three primary types of product liability include manufacturing defects, design defects, and the failure to warn. These could fall under general negligence claims or strict liability claims. A negligence claim generally requires showing that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, they breached that duty, and the breach resulted in harm. With strict liability, the defendant may be liable without having to show that they were negligent.
A manufacturing defect generally involves a problem that occurred in the manufacturing process. This could involve using cheap materials that cause the product to fail or lack of quality control in the manufacturing and testing process. Unfortunately, a consumer has no way to know if the manufacturer was putting out sub-par products from the factory floor. If the product fails or malfunctions, the manufacturer may be liable for the damages caused.
A design defect involves a product that has some inherent danger, even if it was manufactured perfectly. Some products are not well designed, or have serious safety flaws, despite being manufactured to the exact specifications. In general, the product designer should be aware of the dangers posed by their poor design or should have conducted more tests to identify all the flaws. If a consumer is injured by a product with a dangerous design, the company behind the product may be liable for any injuries caused.
The “failure to warn” types of product defect cases generally involve products that could be used in such a way that the could become dangerous. If the other uses are foreseeable or predictable, the manufacturer should provide a warning. The warnings should be conspicuous to the user of the product. However, when the product does not contain a proper warning, the company may be liable for injuries sustained by the user.
Types of Product Defects
All kinds of products can turn out to be defective. However, some types of product defects pose a greater risk of injury than others. Motor vehicle defects are some of the most common ways people are injured because of a defective product. Pharmaceutical drugs and medical device defects can harm the patients who rely on these products. Increasingly, products that contain rechargeable batteries have been blamed for causing fires and explosions. Even some products that naturally pose a risk can be deemed defective because they do not adequately warn people of danger.
One of the more recent areas of concern for product defects involves exploding batteries. Electronics and consumer product companies are trying to get increased battery life, smaller batteries, and cheaper products. As a result, many new batteries are not fully tested to determine if they are safe. These batteries can explode or catch fire when they malfunction, injuring users and even setting homes on fire.
Some of the products with exploding batteries include hoverboards, e-cigarettes, tablets and mobile phones. It may only take a couple of weeks on the market before consumers begin suffering burn injuries from regular use of these products. Even if the manufacturers were aware of the fire hazard, they did not adequately warn consumers of the danger and continued to put their defective product out on the market.
A number of product defect cases involve automobiles. While an automobile may be one very complicated product, it is also made up of a number of parts and pieces, each of which could potentially harbor product defects. Many people use automobiles in their daily lives, and with so much use, it is understandable that parts of the car can break or malfunction. However, when certain parts of the vehicle are defective, those defects can put drivers and passengers at serious risk of injury.
Some of the major automobile defects involve problems with safety equipment. This includes seat belts, seat mechanisms, airbags, and vehicle braking. Each of these has also been subject to a vehicle recall because of manufacturing or design defects. Most recently, millions of vehicle sold in the U.S. have been recalled over concerns of airbag defects that could send metal fragments into the face of a driver or passenger when the airbag deploys.
A number of vehicles have also been recalled because seat recline mechanisms can fail, causing the occupant to fall back in their seat. If this occurs during an accident, they would not be protected by the seat belt and could suffer injury as they were thrown about inside the vehicle. Other design and manufacturing defects involve seat belts and seat belt parts. In some cases, seat belts become worn, causing them to snap in an accident situation. Without the safety of a seat belt, the occupant can suffer serious injury in an accident.
Another product defect in automobiles that got a lot of attention lately has to do with unintended acceleration. Drivers of certain vehicles reported losing control of their cars. The vehicles would accelerate out of control and drivers were unable to stop the cars. This caused a number of fatal car accidents across the country. Initially, car manufacturers denied there was a problem. Only after a government investigation did it become clear that car company knew about the problem, but failed to inform consumers. Most of the problems were caused by floor mat design defects.
As more cars implement more technology, the chances of defects involving computers will continue to increase. Many people have blamed the vehicle's central computer systems or engine control unit for runaway cars and unintended acceleration. As computers control more parts of the vehicle, including the acceleration, deceleration, brakes, airbags, climate control, and displays, it is foreseeable that design and manufacturing defects could cause serious accidents, injuring passengers and drivers.
The problem of defective medicine has become an increasing area of concern for many people. A defective medicine could have too much of the active ingredient or not enough. It could contain toxic ingredients that were never intended to be consumed by humans. Some medicines could contain dangerous bacterial levels. One problem is that it is almost impossible for a consumer to know if their medicine is defective. A normal pill may look exactly like a defective pill, and only chemical testing can show the difference. Unfortunately, the consumer may only notice the problem with their medication after the damage has been done.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly recalls pharmaceuticals, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications. In 2014, the FDA recalled more than 1,300 such products. They may recall these products for all kinds of product defects, including: mold contamination; unapproved drugs; high levels of impurities; incorrect labeling; containing particulate matter; containing undeclared ingredients; and unsterile products.
Defective medicine injuries can involve everything from minor pain and discomfort to permanent injury or death. When drug makers are trying to save money, they may use cheaper suppliers who end up giving them an inferior product. They may pass the inferior product on to the consumer without warning. Other manufacturers may not implement proper manufacturing and quality control. This could lead to drugs being made that have unequal levels of effective ingredients. The exact level and dosage of medicine is very important, especially with heart, blood pressure, and pain medications. An uneven dosage could cause serious harm to the patient.
Another problem with over-the-counter medications and pharmaceuticals is that they can have improper labeling or incomplete warnings. If a warning does not inform the consumer of the potential problems with drug interactions, the user will not know to avoid using certain products at the same time. This could result in toxic drug interactions that cause the patient serious injury.
Defective Medical Equipment
Doctors are increasingly using medical equipment to treat patients. This includes joint replacement parts, pain pumps, transvaginal mesh, heart valves, pacemakers, catheters, and others. When these products are properly made and work like they are supposed to, they can greatly increase a patient's quality of life, and even extend their life for decades. However, when surgically implanted medical equipment malfunctions, it can cause serious complications and even death.
When a product like a phone malfunctions, the user can simply put it away and try and buy a new one. However, when the defective product is implanted inside your body, it will take a surgical procedure to get the broken product out. Every surgery carries some risk of injury or death, and after learning about a defective product, the patient may have to have a conversation with their doctor whether to try and remove the product, or leave it where it is, and treat any new pain or symptoms.
The medical equipment industry is looking to maximize profits, and in doing so, they may release products on the market without properly testing them for patient safety. Some companies may even downplay the dangers involved, leaving patients to suffer the consequences. If you or a loved one was injured by a medical equipment malfunction or defective drugs, talk to an experienced attorney. Your DC product defect attorney will investigate your case, and go after the individuals or companies responsible for your injuries. They will fight to get you the full compensation you deserve.
Damages Available in Product Defect Injuries
After an injury from a defective product, the injured individual and their family may be wondering how the company who caused the injury will be able to make things right. The damages available in most personal injury cases are called compensatory damages. These are damages intended to put you into the position you would be but for the injury.
Damages include economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, property damage repair, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Noneconomic damages can include pain and suffering and loss of consortium. If you have any questions about the types of damages available in your personal injury case, talk to your DC product defect injury attorney.
Product Defects Causing Death
When a defective product harms the consumer, they can seek damages from the company responsible for their injuries through filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, when an individual is killed by a defective product, the family may seek justice from those responsible through a wrongful death lawsuit.
In Maryland, most product defect and wrongful death claims have a three-year statute of limitations. This statute can sometimes be longer or shorter; however, generally, the surviving family members have three years to file a wrongful death claim after their loved one died. In most cases, wrongful death claims can be brought by close relatives, including parents, spouses, or children of the deceased.
The damages available in a wrongful death case are different than those in a personal injury case. Wrongful death damages are generally based on the economic losses related to the individual's death. This includes the loss of financial support to the family, loss of benefits, and value of lost services. The surviving family can also claim noneconomic damages after the death of a loved one. This includes pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
Defective Product Injury Attorneys in Maryland
A defective product injury can be devastating for individuals and their family. Product defects can result in permanent injury or even death. The process of recovery and healing can impose a significant financial burden on individuals and their families. The Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a defective product claim against those who were responsible for the injury. We have decades of product defect litigation experience, will focus on getting you the compensation you deserve, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.