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Product liability

All of us use many different products in the course of an average day. They include but are not limited to motor vehicles, household appliances, medicines, health and wellness products, children’s toys, and furniture. What happens, however, when one of these products fails to work as expected and causes you or someone you love to be injured or even killed?

Defective products can change your life forever by causing significant injuries and even death. A toy with loose parts can choke a small child while an SUV with defective brakes could cause an accident that leaves you permanently disabled. Every year, people across New York state are injured by using or being exposed to products that are not safe to use. When this happens, you have the right to bring a product liability lawsuit against any party in the manufacturing chain that appears to be at fault, even the store owner where you acquired the item. Such lawsuits often involve:

  • Defective design
  • Defective manufacturing process
  • Misleading marketing

There are several parties responsible for the design, production, and sale of a defective product, and any of them may be liable in a given situation. Examples include:

  • The product manufacturer
  • The manufacturer of any components
  • Anyone responsible for assembling or installing a product
  • The wholesaler
  • The retailer

By holding those involved in the manufacturing, assembly, and sale of a defective product responsible for any injuries, both consumer protection and safer manufacturing standards are heightened.

Different types of product defects

There are three primary defect types that trigger product liability lawsuits. Each one is examined at length below.

  • Manufacturing defects: Manufacturing defect claims arise when a flaw in the production or assembly of any given product is detected. This tends to involve individual products instead of an entire line: for example, a single bicycle with defective brakes due to assembly error.
  • Design defects: Design defects affect an entire product line. This means that every product of a certain type or make is potentially dangerous to use. A recent example is the Johnson and Johnson pelvic mesh implants: the company was recently ordered to pay one woman $57 million, $7 million of which was for “negligent design and strict product liability design defect.” Design defects often result in general product recalls.
  • Marketing defects: Marketing defect claims arise when a product does not include adequate instructions for using it safely or there is a failure to warn of any latent dangers. For example, if you should avoid a certain over-the-counter medication while taking a new prescription drug and there is no warning advising you of the fact, you can file a claim if you mix the two and are injured as a result.

The bases of product liability suits

In New York, you can bring a product liability suit against another person or entity on the basis of negligence, misrepresentation, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

  • Negligence means that the manufacturer did not exercise a reasonable amount of care. This claim is often made in design defect lawsuits alleging that the manufacturer failed to account for a probable use of its product and the harm that could result.
  • Misrepresentation, which may be negligent or intentional, applies when the promotion or advertising of a product fails to reasonably address safety issues.
  • Strict liability addresses the responsibility of the manufacturer to sell products that are safe to use.
  • Breach of warranty applies when a manufacturer gives an express or implied warranty that their product is of a certain quality and safe to use, and you are injured after using it.

If you are harmed after using a defective or misrepresented product, seeking compensation should be as simple as demonstrating that you were hurt, and the product in question caused the injuries. In most instances, however, the manufacturer will try to deny that their product is dangerous and may even suggest that you were injured due to your own carelessness. For this reason alone, it is important to engage a personal injury attorney to assist you in recovering damages.

Your personal injury attorney will help you prove the extent of your injuries by presenting photographs, medical records, witness statements, and other evidence that you were injured after using the product. They will also collect and present evidence supporting the assertion that the product in question was actually defective, whether due to a manufacturing mistake, defect in design, or advertising misrepresentation.

In New York, you generally have a maximum of three years to file a product liability claim. A New York personal injury attorney will help ensure that you do not forfeit your right to pursue an action against the responsible party. When you have been injured and the medical bills are mounting, your attorney will advocate for you so that you get the compensation you deserve.