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Product liability is the area of law which covers defective products that cause injuries. Defective products often underlie accidents such as auto accidents, construction accidents, and structure fires. Defective medications and medical devices also fall under product liability.
Examples of Defective Products Which Cause Injuries
Any product has the potential to be defective, but some are more commonly defective in ways which causes injuries and death. Examples include:
- Children’s toys, including those contaminated with lead paint
- Other children’s products such as high chairs, cribs, and strollers
- Automobiles or auto parts
- Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications
- Medical devices such as hip and knee replacements
- Heavy equipment
- Power tools
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Gas grills
- Space heaters
- Clothing, including clothing made from flammable materials and children’s clothing which poses a strangulation hazard
- Lawn mowers and other lawn equipment
- Construction materials, such as drywall from China
- Types of Defects
Although the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a defective product is one that malfunctions in some way, there are other types of defects which can lead to serious injuries and death.
- Design flaw
- Manufacturing defect
- Marketing defect
- Labeling defect/failure to warn
Marketing defects include marketing a product to children who are too young to use it safely and advertising a product to be used in ways in which it cannot safely be used.
Labeling defects and failure to warn include inaccurate, confusing, or missing instructions, and lack of warning labels.
Defective drugs typically fall under failure to warn because drug makers fail to warn doctors and consumers of the potential side effects.
A medication can also be defective if the pharmaceutical company engaged in off-label marketing. Drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for specific purposes. Doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs for other purposes if they believe it is in the best interest of their patients, but drug companies are not allowed to advertise drugs for uses other than those for which they have received FDA approval.
Responsible Parties in Product Liability Lawsuits
Manufacturers and sellers of defective products can be held responsible. This can include wholesalers and retailers. In some cases a party who made repairs or alterations to a product may be held responsible.
In some cases, it is immediately clear that a defective product caused an accident or injury, but it is not unusual for the defect to go undiscovered for some time. When a defective product is the underlying cause of an accident, it changes the nature of the case and the responsible parties.
Cases which may at first appear to be premises liability, medical malpractice, or caused by driver negligence may turn out to be product liability cases upon throughout investigation by a personal injury law firm.
Injured employees who are barred from suing their employers under Workers’ Compensation law may be able to pursue full compensation for their injuries through a third-party product liability lawsuit if a defective product was involved.