Each day people are injured by dangerous or defective products. When faced with an injury caused by a product which was improperly designed, manufactured or maintained, it is important that you choose a law firm experienced in handling products liability cases. The products liability attorneys at Mason Law Firm have the experience to investigate, prepare and present your products liability case in a persuasive manner.
The proper handling of a products liability case requires a thorough investigation to determine which companies should be named as defendants and which legal theories should be pursued. Also, knowledgeable experts must be engaged in the investigation of the claim and to provide testimony at trial.
The law of products liability makes a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or seller of a dangerous or defective product strictly liable to anyone injured by that product. Consumers have legal rights which protect them from defective products and manufacturers and sellers have a legal obligation to provide safe products to the public.
A products liability claim seeks to recover for injuries or property damage which result from the defective or deficient performance of a product. A products liability claim can be brought against anyone in the marketing chain, from the manufacturer to the retailer. While repair persons, installers and inspectors may not be liable for the actual failure or defect of a product, they may be liable for negligence or breach of warranties for making faulty repairs or for negligent installation or inspection which then causes personal injury or property damage.
South Carolina has its own set of laws relating to products liability cases. There are four primary elements to every products liability case. There must be:
- A marketed product
- A defect in that product
- Personal injury or property damage
- Causation (injury or damage caused by the defective product)
- A defect is a shortcoming or imperfection in a product.
Generally, there are three types of defects which can give rise to a products liability claim:
- A design defect
- A manufacturing defect
- Defective warnings or instructions
A design defect is a deficiency which exists in a product that was made in the manner the manufacturer intended it to be made. That is to say, it was not made poorly; rather, it was originally designed in a way that was unsafe.
A manufacturing defect occurs when there is a product deficiency which exists because the product is not made as it was intended. The intended design may have been safe, but the product that actually came off the assembly line was not safe.
A product can also be dangerous to the user because it does not have adequate warnings or instructions.
A claim for breach of warranty arises under the law of contracts, which imposes certain “implied warranties” on the sale of goods. Such warranties include the warranty of merchantability (that the goods are in proper condition for use and free of defects) and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (for example, the chair must be able to support the weight of the person sitting on it). In addition, there may be express written warranties which apply to the product in question and breach of these can give rise to liability.
Research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that defective or unsafe products cause approximately 29 million injuries and 21,000 deaths each year.
You or someone you love may be injured by something as seemingly harmless as an iron, toaster, coffee maker or other household appliance, power hand tools such as a drill or saw, ladders, step stools, defective bicycle or motorcycle helmets, a baby’s high chair, humidifier or even defective toys.
Contaminated food can be the subject of a defective product claim. According to the CDC there are an estimated 1 million cases of food poisoning including nearly 20,000 hospitalizations. Most food poisoning is caused by one of the 3 following bacteria: E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella.
Nearly all products are subject to products liability law, not just those items found on store shelves. For instance, medical implants, medical devices, automobiles, tobacco and prescription or over-the-counter drugs are all subject to products liability standards.
Almost any product can be rendered defective or dangerous if the manufacturer fails to take steps to ensure that it is not. Unfortunately, some manufacturers, both in the U.S. and abroad, put corporate profits above the safety of their products.
Products liability law affords injured consumers the ability to sue for and recover damages from those manufacturers, distributors and vendors for injuries caused by unsafe products. Previous legal actions have forced large corporations to either remove dangerous products from the marketplace or to redesign the product to ensure its safety.
In today’s complex business world, many times one company is involved in the design of a product, while a second company manufactures its parts and still another company is involved in assembling those parts. Then, the final product is often distributed by a fourth company and sold by a fifth one. Even a company which does not actually make a product, but merely labels the item, may be liable for any injuries caused by that product. In addition to the confusion created by the chain of companies involved, often large corporations will have subsidiary companies which are involved in some part of the process.
Products liability cases require a thorough investigation by an experienced attorney to determine which companies should be named as defendants and which legal theories should be pursued. It is also essential in products liability cases to promptly take measures to preserve evidence, document the chain of custody of the product and to enable various expert witnesses to carefully evaluate the product which caused your injuries. A failure to property preserve and maintain the product causing injury can be fatal to a product liability claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured by any product, contact Mason Law Firm for a free initial consultation and evaluation of your claim.