Each year, nearly
34 million people are hurt or killed by defective consumer products. The accidents caused
by these products result in medical expenses that exceed $12 billion every
year. Products liability is a growing and complex area of civil litigation
practice. Each day, the lives of consumers all over the country are changed
forever by defective products. It is imperative that these consumers are
represented by dedicated, talented, and experienced attorneys.
The Historical Development of Products Liability Law And Product Liability Lawyers
Prior to the mid-20th Century, most
products liability lawsuits were brought under either the tort doctrine of negligence, or under contract
law. However, as the doctrine of strict liability picked up steam, a separate
practice area of products liability began to come into being. The theory
behind it is that those who produce or sell defective products that harm
consumers should be held liable for those injuries, regardless of whether
the plaintiff can prove negligence or privity of contract.
Holding manufacturers and retailers strictly liable for defective products
serves to align the legal system with the expectations of consumers. It
also discourages manufacturers and retailers from producing or selling
products that may harm consumers. They should experience both the benefits
and the harms that their products lead to. Finally, it is cheaper for
manufacturers and retailers to simply stop selling defective products
than it is for consumers to wait for the harm and deal with the consequences
later. The costs of these injuries should be paid for by the responsible
parties, rather than by the consumers or society at large.
Types of Product Defects
There are three major subsets of consumer product defects that lead to
lawsuits. They are as follows:
1. Manufacturing Defects: In a product manufacturing defect case, the product is not in the condition
that the manufacturer intended at the time it left its control. To establish
a manufacturing defect, most courts apply a reasonable consumer expectation test.
2. Design Defects: In a design defect case, the product was in the condition intended by
the manufacturer or supplier, but was designed in such a way that it presented
an undue risk of harm in normal use. To establish a design defect, most
courts use a test that compares the risk of the design versus its utility.
3. Warning or Information Defects: In addition to the actual product itself, defects may arise from packaging
and inadequate instructions, warnings, labels, etc. Inadequate warnings
may make a product defective when the dangers are not apparent to consumers
and users. To establish this type of defect, courts use both the reasonable
consumer expectations test and the risk vs. utility test.
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Defective Product
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective consumer product,
you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney
can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable
claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.