When a manufacturer makes its product available to the public they immediately take on the responsibility of liability for damage, injury or death resulting from the use of their products. This is a serious matter, which is why manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others making products available to the public must test their products and provide detailed instructions on the use and maintenance of the product. Proper use and maintenance guidelines can protect a manufacturer from liability. The consumer needs to be aware of this. A person injured by a defective product should consider all the factors that contribute to a good product liability case.
It is vital that the consumer was using the product as intended when damage or injury occurred. If the intended use was not followed, or altered in any way, then the manufacturer could argue that the actions of the consumer were the cause of the incident and not a defect in the product itself. If a consumer establishes that the product was being used in accordance with the guidelines of the manufacturer, claim can be made in most jurisdictions, based on negligence, breach of warranty, or misrepresentation.
Negligence would include a manufacturer’s failure to take necessary care in the production, design, or assembly of the product that caused injury. This would also involve adequate product testing, and providing detailed user instructions. It is the responsibility of the consumer to prove that upon receiving the product, it was in fact defective and this lead to an incident beyond the consumer’s control.
Product liability laws assume that the seller gives certain assurances about their goods, which they are required to uphold. Therefore, a breach of warranty refers to a manufacturer who makes a guarantee, claim, or promise about their product and the product fails to fulfill said guarantees. For example, if a manufacturer makes the claim their it’s product can withstand certain conditions, perhaps weather conditions or temperature changes, and the product fails to meet those claims and this results in damage or injury, the manufacture is in breach of his warranty.
Misrepresentation is a very serious matter. This involves issues with the manufacturer was aware of but failed to disclose. This can even involve necessary warning labels that should accompany a product. For example, if an automotive coolant does not have a toxicity warning on its label and it leads to accidental poisoning, a suit for damages can be filed. The key point in misrepresentation is that the consumer can show that they were unaware of an issue because of a false representation made by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer’s failure to disclose.
Actual defects in the product’s design or manufacturing also create valid claims for product liability. A design defect refers to a product with an inherent flaw that causes the product to be dangerous to use, even when used properly. A car that catches fire in an accident because the gasoline tank was designed with faulty walls is a prime example of a design defect. A manufacturing defect refers to a product that is assembled incorrectly. An example would be a car that had a wheel installed with defective bolts which later caused the wheel to dislodge while the vehicle is in motion, causing injury or even death to the driver, passengers or others. The car manufacturer would be held liable in this situation.
No matter what claim is being made or what type of product is involved, it is essential to the success of the case that all evidence is preserved, all manufacturer and product documentation presented, and all findings well documented. Having all related information in hand and being familiar with all available options are two steps to helping a consumer build a successful product liability case.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowtiz, Schatz & Frederick, L.L.P. at (212)-354-6800 or toll free 1-888-LAW-1744, 347-577-9440, or submit an online questionnaire. Our firm offers free case evaluation and our dedicated team can help you understand your legal rights and obtain the compensation you are entitled to.