When a person suffers an injury because of someone else’s negligence, the injured victim may feel overwhelmed about trying to prove a legal claim against the negligent party. This can be especially true when the party to blame is a large product manufacturer with seemingly endless resources to fight against the case. However, under California law, this is not necessarily true.
If a person suffers injury from a defective product, the elements that they must prove to prevail in a products liability case can be less burdensome than the elements involved in other kinds of personal injury cases. The injured victim must first show that the product at issue had some kind of unreasonably dangerous defect. It does not matter whether that defect was a result of poor design, negligent manufacturing or unsafe product handling.
A products liability claimant must next prove that the product’s defect caused an injury while the consumer was using it in a reasonably foreseeable manner. Finally, the injured victim has to show that at the time the product caused the injury, it was in substantially the same condition as it was at the time that it was purchased.
As with other types of personal injury cases, if a person suffers death from defective products, a personal representative for the deceased person — usually a close family member — can file the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.
Products that have defects cause many injuries to people in Orange County and elsewhere throughout the country. When this happens, injured victims and their families should not feel like they are powerless against a negligent product designer or manufacturer.
How does an injured victim prove a manufacturing defect?
On any given day, people use many different kinds of consumer products to accomplish various tasks. These products include the very complex, like an automobile, to the very simple, like hand soap. Regardless of the product’s complexity, just about any product can cause injury if something is wrong with it.
When a person in Orange County suffers an injury while using a product, he or she can pursue compensation from various parties that were responsible for putting that product in the person’s hands. One way to do this is to try to show that the manufacturer was responsible for the problem with an unsafe product due to an error in the manufacturing process. If the injured person suspects that the product was improperly constructed, he or she must produce evidence to show the specific defect. But how does an injured victim prove that a manufacturing defect led to their injury?
In some cases, the injured victim may be able to prove a manufacturing defect by showing that the manufacturer did not adhere to their own standards when producing the product. However, in many other cases, proving a manufacturer’s fault in making the defective product can be extremely difficult. Even in these situations, however, California law allows an injured person to advance their legal claim against the manufacturer through a strict liability theory.
Under this type of claim, an injured person can impose legal liability on a manufacturer by showing that the product did in fact have some kind of defect. The person must also show that he or she suffered the injury while using the product in a way that the manufacturer intended it to be used. Finally, the injured person has to prove that the product’s condition had not been changed substantially from its original condition prior to and at the time of the accident.
Strict liability laws can help an injured consumer win a products liability case against a negligent manufacturer. On the other hand, these cases are not always simple or easy to win. An experienced personal injury attorney can help injured consumers through every step of a case involving a defective product, advocating on their behalf for the compensation they deserve.
Who is responsible for death from defective products?
People in Orange County use a variety of different products every day without giving any though to the safety of those products. Products liability law is one of the main reasons why most of these products are generally safe for consumers. In other words, if a product injures someone, they have a right to file a lawsuit. Thus, if a manufacturer produces dangerous products, they could face enormous monetary liabilities and irreparable damage to their reputation.
Despite the economic and legal forces, and government regulations, that lead to most products being safe, occasionally a dangerous product slips through the cracks and reaches the hands of consumers. So who is responsible when someone gets injured or even suffers death from defective products?
Under California law, multiple parties can face liability when a defective product leads to injury. The manufacturer of the product is, of course, the most obvious party that would be responsible. But, products liability law also provides that the seller of the defective product can be liable for injuries that it causes. Furthermore, any other party that is involved in distributing the product and getting it into the hands of the consumer bears some legal responsibility for the product’s safety.
Most products in this country are generally safe because the costs, both reputational and monetary, of potential lawsuits to producers, sellers and distributors of dangerous products are just too high. But, when a consumer sustains injury or loss of life from a defective product, they or their loved ones can pursue legal action against the negligent manufacturer and other parties. Victims also have legal rights when a product’s insufficient warnings lead to injury.
What protections exist against unsafe products?
Death from defective products is a problem that plagues many different types of industries in the United States. Many Orange County residents are probably familiar with some of the more recent product recalls involving a wide range of goods, including automobiles, prescription medications and even toys. Likewise, most people know that if they suffer an injury from an unsafe product, they may have a legal claim against the manufacturer or some other party.
However, fewer people are aware of various other laws that protect consumers. News about a massive recall of a dangerous product can cause panic amongst the product’s owners and users. So who is responsible for protecting the public against these kinds of dangers?
In 1972, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Act, which led to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC has legal authority to require product recalls or even to ban products in extreme cases.
Since 1972, Congress has amended the CPSA and added other similar laws to further protect consumers against dangerous products. For example, the Child Safety Protection Act aims to prevent small children from choking on products. Under that Act, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers must report incidents involving a child choking on their product. Furthermore, those products that pose certain risks of choking must include warning labels.
In addition to public laws that protect consumers, private citizens can file a lawsuit if a product harms them. Through a products liability action, victims or their families can seek monetary compensation for accidents that are related to insufficient warnings or any other product defect that leads to injury.
Congress has enacted broad laws to protect the public from dangerous products. But these laws cannot protect every person from every kind of product injury.
Seek justice after defective products hurt people
In an ideal world, the products we use everyday would perform perfectly. However, in reality,this is not always the case. People are injured or even killed by defective products every year. For those who have experienced the sudden loss of a loved one due to a defective product, read on.
A defective product could be awaiting an unsuspecting user at just about any point in a person’s day. It could happen when blow drying your hair, when you start up your vehicle to get to work or even while on the clock at your job. An injury from a defective product could be so serious that it could result in a person’s unexpected death. There are strict laws governing defective products and if a company either failed to warn or did not meet design or manufacturing standards when crafting the deadly product.
Vehicles are often known to be defective, thereby injuring their drivers and passengers. There could be any number of reasons that could have caused a car to malfunction, which is especially troublesome for family members looking for a reason to explain their loved one’s sudden death. A full investigation can help to uncover if a products’ liability case could help to right the wrongs when a loved one is injured by a suspected product malfunction. At Easton & Easton LLP, we have over 70 years of combined experience working on cases involving defective products.
Losing a loved one is traumatizing and can be one of the most difficult challenges in a person’s life. Understanding the factors behind the accident that took away a loved one can put a piece of that nightmare to rest. Financial and emotional loss can result from the loss of a loved one. Proving The liability another party may have in that event is crucial to seeking compensation.
Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Statutes,” Accessed on Sept. 16, 2014
FindLaw, “What is Product Liability?,” Accessed on Jan. 30, 2015
FindLaw, “Proving Fault in a Product Liability Case,” Accessed on Nov. 19, 2015