Defective Products

Defective Product Attorneys in Columbia SC

In the United States, we have some of the best laws in the world to protect consumers from dangerous products. Companies are responsible for injuries sustained due to three areas: the design defects, manufacturing defects, or a failure to warn of foreseeable dangers associated with their products’ use.

Defective product cases (or product liability cases) focus on the safety of products sold in the marketplace to consumers. 

Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers purchase product liability insurance to protect themselves in the event that one of their products causes personal injury to a consumer. We also have product recalls and class action lawsuits when manufacturers, government agencies, or others realize that there are dangerous products on the market.

Compensation for Product Liability Claims

If you or a family member has been injured or killed because of a vehicle with a defective part or an unreasonably dangerous design, you can involve a personal injury lawyer to file a claim for damages.

 

There are two main types of damages you might receive in your case.

 

Compensatory Damages

This covers your financial expenses for medical bills, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, property damage, and future medical expenses, as well as disabilities you may have experienced.

Punitive Damages

If a manufacturer or other defendant knowingly sold a defective product without warning people about possible danger, a plaintiff may be able to recover more money as a punishment to the defendant. This is essentially a fine to try to motivate the defendant to never act in this way again in the future.

types of Product Liability Claims

1

Design Defects

2

Manufacturing Defects

3

Marketing Defects (Failure to warn)

Tort Claims

Product liability cases fall under tort law. This section of the law protects people whose personal rights have been violated, resulting in damages, illness, or injury. There are four categories under tort law:

Negligence

A designer/manufacturer/seller unintentionally sells a defective product that causes harm and the harm was reasonably foreseeable within the scope of use of the product.

Strict liability

A manufacturer/seller is liable regardless of intent or behavior.

Intentional tort

A defendant purposely sold a dangerous product knowing it would likely cause harm. This action may result in criminal charges.

Breach of warranty

The product doesn’t work as the warranty claims it should.

Sometimes major corporations take cost-saving measures that can put consumers at risk.

Product Liability Statistics

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2017, juries awarded an average of over $5 million to each product liability case. This category is the highest average personal injury jury award, by far. Of course, the awards are often distributed among a large group of claimants in many of these cases.
  • Statista reports that automotive/industrial suppliers had the lion’s share of product recall insurance claims worldwide in 2017 (by the claim value) at 71%. The food/beverage industry was the next highest at 16%. 
  • Statista also reports the value of net premiums written by product liability insurance in the US in 2018 was $2.79 trillion.
  • According to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), about 400 products are recalled every year.
    Stats on the number of injuries per year from defective products? Only stat I can find is from Dolan and Dolan law. 29.4 million injuries and 21,400 deaths each year (they cite US CPSC).

Types of Product Liability Cases

There are many categories of products that cause injuries, illnesses, or death each year in the United States. Some of the major categories listed by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission include chemicals, fuel/lighters/fireworks, furniture/decor, home maintenance/construction, kitchen/dining, public facilities/products, sports/recreation, toys/children’s products, carbon monoxide, electrocutions, fire, non-pool submersions, and pediatric poisonings. 

The five biggest categories that are relevant in our area include:
  1. Pharmaceuticals
  2. Electronic devices
  3. Tools and machinery
  4. Appliances
  5. Motor and Recreational Vehicles

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sustained an injury or illness due to a defective product—or if you believe an unsafe product contributed to a loved one’s wrongful death—please reach out to an injury lawyer near you as soon as possible regardless of what type of personal injury case it may be.

Pharmaceuticals

We have the best medical system in the world in America today and we all enjoy the benefits immensely. But our medications are not without their problems. All drugs go through human trials before they go to the market to consumers. The FDA approves prescription and over-the-counter drugs that they believe will be safe, but all medications have known side effects and many also have known drug or food interactions.

Drug manufacturers have a duty of care to protect consumers and to make sure their product is safe. They even have a duty to continue to test and research their medications after the product is released for sale. Manufacturers must provide adequate warnings about any side effects or safety issues that consumers can read. If their product is not safe, they can be held liable for the damages consumers sustain from their products. 

Doctors and pharmacists have a duty to communicate potential side effects to patients before they take a medication. That is why your doctor talks with you about what to expect, your pharmacist counsels you or asks if you have questions, and you receive a leaflet from the pharmacy every time you get a new prescription that explains all of the possible side effects, adverse reactions, black box warnings, precautions, and contra-indications. When certain issues are known in advance and you have the opportunity to receive warnings, you may not have legal recourse if you experience these side effects.

However, unsafe drugs do get approved sometimes, unfortunately. You’ve probably seen class-action lawsuits against familiar over-the-counter and prescription drugs on TV many times. If you have been injured by a defective product because it was defectively designed, defectively manufactured, or was defectively marketed, you may be able to file a case and receive damages. 

Claims must meet specific guidelines to be filed in each state for product liability cases. A product liability attorney in South Carolina can help guide you through this process.

Types of drug-related product liability claims
  1. Defectively manufactured medications – Manufacture problems include incorrect labeling, a wrong ingredient being in the medication, damage that occurs during shipping, or contamination.
  2. Medications with dangerous side effects – If a company knew that there was a foreseeable risk of harm but didn’t warn people about the risk, an injured party may have a claim. Other times, a manufacturer may not have known about certain side effects when the drug went to market, but they show up over time after being widely used. The company may be held liable for serious health problems that appear later.
  3. Falsely marketed medications – A “bad advice” claim involves issues with inadequate instructions or warnings to the consumer.

 

There are many possible defendants for a pharmaceutical product liability claim including the manufacturer, testing laboratory, distributor, shipping facility, testing laboratory, pharmaceutical sales reps, doctors, hospital, clinic, pharmacy, or retail outlet.

Electronic Devices

We all depend on many electronic devices every day: our phones, computers, TVs, lamps, power surge protectors, etc…. Electronic devices also include medical devices like defibrillators, artery stents, implants, prosthetics, contraceptive devices, pacemakers, insulin pumps, etc…

Unfortunately, electronics can have problems that cause them to become unsafe. Recalls can often protect consumers from dangerous products, but sometimes problems happen before the recall is announced. If an electronic device has a defective component that causes injury to people, this falls under product liability, as well. 

Perhaps a cord is defective and causes a fire that results in property damage or bodily injuries. Or maybe a lithium battery is defective and explodes, causing injuries and property damage. Maybe a defibrillator fails to perform as it should, resulting in a wrongful death.

Defectively designed products, electronics with manufacturer defects, or marketing defects can cause injury or even death, at times. Victims in these situations deserve compensation for their suffering and expenses.

Tools and Machinery

Construction, heavy machinery, and power tools (whether for consumers or industrial grade) all have inherent risks. Machines have sharp blades, electrical components, and heavy parts. Tools require the use of great force. Electrical equipment shouldn’t be submerged in water. People should expect those dangers and know to take appropriate precautions. 

It’s impossible to avoid every incident of someone smashing a finger with a hammer. And people will sometimes fall from ladders. Construction workers and consumers try to minimize risks by wearing steel-toed shoes, hard hats, safety glasses, and other protective equipment. Many machines have safety mechanisms to try to prevent injuries as much as possible.

The problem is when a tool or machine causes unexpected injuries. If a product doesn’t meet current safety guidelines and puts people in foreseeable danger, there may be a legal case involving product liability.

If the safety mechanism on a circular saw doesn’t work properly and results in an injury, it may have a defective design or it may have been defectively manufactured. If a forklift’s marketing claims it can lift 1000 pounds, but it tips over and injures the driver with a load of 500 lbs, this could be a defective marketing claim.

Appliances

We all love the convenience of our appliances at home. We have washing machines and dryers so doing laundry doesn’t take three days as it did two hundred years ago. We have electric ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and refrigerators that make cooking and cleaning up infinitely easier than it was a few generations ago.

Our space heaters keep us warm in the winters. And our hot water heaters give us luxurious hot showers and hot water to use to wash dishes. We are thankful for all of our modern conveniences.

But these appliances we rely upon so heavily can be unsafe, at times. Perhaps something was not wired correctly. Maybe a part wasn’t assembled properly and something unexpectedly goes very wrong. Or maybe there is a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions in the owner’s manual and someone gets hurt.

This is why we have laws in South Carolina about product liability to protect consumers from dangerous products that can cause harm.

Motor and Recreational Vehicles

For most of us, our car, SUV, or pickup truck is an absolute necessity in life. Without our personal vehicles, we couldn’t get to work, get items we need from the store, take our kids to school, or leave the house.

There is an inherent risk in driving any motor vehicle, whether it is a motorcycle, car, or an RV. Car accidents happen that have nothing to do with the design of the car. 

Drivers may take a curve too quickly. People may not pay attention to dangerous road conditions or people may try to use the vehicle in ways that go way beyond the intended design of the vehicle.

But sometimes motor vehicles are unsafe and manufacturers need to be held responsible if they put a product on the market that leads to injuries and property damage.

If an SUV or ATV is designed poorly so that it tends to roll over when it shouldn’t, or a car is sold with a faulty ignition switch that catches on fire and burns people, these are product liability cases.

 

Motor vehicle product liability claims have two major types:
  • A vehicle is defectively manufactured (or it has parts that are)
  • A vehicle has an unreasonably dangerous design. 

 

Possible defendants in a defective product liability claim and include the manufacturer (of the vehicle or individual parts), the shipping company, or the car dealership/used car dealer.

Need a Product Liability Lawyer in South carolina?

Without the legal representation of a product liability injury attorney, a manufacturer or insurance company may tend to bully the injured party or not treat them fairly.