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What to Expect in Defective Product Litigation

Most of us use manufactured products every day to improve our physical health, mental health and to make life a little easier. We rely on these products to help us in the way that they are supposed to. Products are tested for safety before being placed on the market. However, sometimes products that reach the open market and consumers are not safe for use. When this happens, people may be injured. Injuries may be caused by products that were defective when manufactured, or they may be inherently unsafe for use. Manufactures have a legal duty to test their products and ensure their safety before they are marketed and made available to the public. If a product has risks, the manufactured also has a duty to warn the general public of any dangerous associated with use. If companies do not adequately test their products or do not produce them correctly, injuries may occur when consumers use them. If this is the case, the victim (or victim’s family) may have a claim for injuries and litigation may be appropriate.

Responsible Parties

There are different types of products on the market and factual situations that may determine the party liable for injuries from defective products. If the product is medical in nature, the liable party may be the manufacturer, the physician who prescribed the medication or medical product or the pharmacist who administered the drug or medical device. For other types of goods, such as machinery, tools, toys and electronics, the product manufacturer may be responsible for the product defect. The product (or market good) may have been defective in design or in manufacturing. The company liable depends on at what point in the product’s creation the defective condition occurred. The company that designed the product may be different from the company that manufactured it.

Additionally, product manufacturers are mandated to test all products for safety and they must meet government safety requirements before a product may enter the flow of commerce. If testing reveals that a product has the potential for harmful side effects or injuries, the manufacturer has a legal duty to warn consumers of these risks.

Possible Legal Claims

If a person has been injured as a result of using a defective product, he or she may have remedies at law. The causes of action available to an injured party may differ depending on the product, the severity/or type of injury and other specific facts of the case. Defective product cases will generally involve legal claims of personal injury or product liability. In some cases, there may also be a claim for wrongful death. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff (injured party) must prove to the court that the manufacturer had a legal duty to the consumer, that duty was breached, the breach of duty was the direct (proximate) cause of the victim’s injury and that the injury occurred.

In contrast, if the cause of action is for product liability, the plaintiff must prove that the product was either defective in design, defective when manufactured or that the product’s manufacturer know of harmful risks associated with the product and failed to warn potential consumers. In cases of wrongful death, the victim’s family must prove that their loved one’s death was caused by using the product. There may also be wrongful death cases where the company failed to warn consumers of dangers associated with using the product, or, in cases of medical drugs or devices, the doctor failed to warn the victim of potential risks. Other potential claims in defective product cases include fraud, negligence and/or breach of warranty. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney prior to defective product litigation.

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