Increased global trade where products are manufactured in countries with less stringent safety standards has resulted in an increase of potentially defective products being imported to the United States. Products manufactured within the United States can also contain dangerous defects due to mistakes in the design process or in the manufacturing process. While no one wants to be injured by a product that they purchased at a major retailer, small store, or online the good news is that the law recognizes that profits should not be put before the safety of Arkansans and Americans. Our experienced Fayetteville, AR product liability lawyers can fight for compensation for you if you have suffered a serious injury or if a loved one has been wrongfully killed.
Product liability cases are challenging. Proving that a product had a design flaw or was defectively manufactured requires an intense and aggressive investigation. It is different than proving someone injured your back by rear-ending your car. Some products are inherently dangerous. In other cases, someone could have hurt themselves by not following the instructions or taking proper precautions.
You need a law firm with the knowledge and resources to thoroughly examine the facts surrounding your case. There are several legal grounds for a product liability claim, including breach of warranty, negligence, and strict liability. The path our Bella Vista lawyers will take depends on what occurred. Call (479) 316-0438 to discuss your case and rights.
What Types of Products Can Cause a Product Liability Suit?
Any consumer product that enters into the stream of commerce can potentially be considered a product liability suit risk. However, for there to be a viable liability suit, there must be a product defect and an injury must occur as a result of that defect. Some products that are commonly involved in product recalls due to defects can include:
- Clothing– The materials may contain skin irritants or they may be mislabeled, such as allegedly flame-retardant children’s pajamas that are actually flammable.
- Children’s toys– the toys may contain small parts that are not age-appropriate or they may be contaminated with lead or other hazardous chemicals.
- Defective cars, trucks, and SUVs – Defects in a motor vehicle can be extremely varied. Infamous automobile defects have included the fuel tank placement in the Ford Pinto, the General Motors ignition switch defect, and the Toyota unintended acceleration defect. Unfortunately, many other defects are found each and every year.
- Defective appliances– Appliances purchased for the household can also have a broad array of issues. They can be designed for the incorrect voltage or have other defects which make them unreasonably dangerous.
Product defects can arise in a vast amount of circumstances in nearly every product that is available.
What Can I Do if I Have Been Injured By a Product in Bella Vista?
When the defect is with the product itself, there are generally two types of defects that can exist: a manufacturing defect or a design defect. A manufacturing defect is one where the product is not produced according to design. That is, a mistake in the manufacturing process introduces an unintended change to the product that makes it unreasonably dangerous. In contrast, a design defect occurs when a product is manufactured exactly according to specifications, but the design itself was the source of the defective condition.
Other types of product liability suits can include failure to warn claims and over warning claims. Both of these defect types are sometimes called marketing defects because the defect is in the product’s marketing rather than with the product itself. Failure to warn claims arise when a foreseeable risk is not warned against. One exception is that risks that are obvious do not have to be warned against. Over warning claims can arise when warnings are so numerous they dilute the value of real risks so that they are disregarded.
Types of Product Liability Claims in Bella Vista, Arkansas
As stated above, if a defective or faulty product injures you, your product liability claim will probably be based on one of the two most common product defects: design flaw or manufacturing defect. In some cases, your claim could arise from an inadequate warning label or insufficient safety instructions.
A design flaw or defect occurs when the product is inherently dangerous because of its design. These defects will impact every product – even it was correctly manufactured. When a product fails to operate reasonably safely when used appropriately, it could be defectively designed.
Under the law, a product must not be unreasonably dangerous if used correctly. This does not mean that a product cannot be dangerous. For instance, certain household cleaners could cause considerable harm or death if ingested. If used correctly, no one would expect a household cleaner to cause an injury. However, if the packaging caused the liquid to squirt outward, potentially hitting someone in the eye, it could constitute a design flaw.
Another example of a design flaw would be an SUV with a high center of gravity. If the vehicle had a tendency to roll over under certain conditions, the vehicle’s design could be unreasonably dangerous.
A plaintiff must show a connection between the product’s design and their injury. In many cases, the defense will allege that the plaintiff used the product incorrectly or was otherwise to blame. Often, proving a design defect requires examining the product’s blueprints or schematics and demonstrating a series of similar injuries.
The most common basis for a product liability claim is a manufacturing defect. A plaintiff will allege that the product is inherently safe, but an error in the manufacturing process rendered the product unreasonably dangerous. Manufacturing defects are usually found in a few products. A defect could occur in the manufacturing process because of human error, a malfunction in the manufacturing process, or other reasons.
A defect in manufacturing will compromise the product’s ability to perform as expected. When a product fails to adhere to the industry safety standards, the manufacturer could be held responsible for any injuries. For example, when someone purchases tires, they anticipate that they will perform as intended for a reasonable period of time. If gravel or sand infiltrated the adhesive used during the manufacturing process, a tire could be liable to tear apart and blow out while someone is driving.
A plaintiff needs to establish that the product would have been reasonably safe if the manufacturing defect did not occur. Our Bella Vista product liability lawyers will have to examine the product in relation to another version to show that a defect existed.
Warning Label or Insufficient Safety Instructions
Some products are designed properly and manufactured correctly yet still are inherently dangerous. In the case of a warning label defect or inadequate safety instructions, the product manufacturer is aware of the hazard the product presents. Because the danger is known, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to provide an adequate warning to consumers. A warning label should be clearly written, concise, and in an obvious location on the product. When a warning label fails to meet any of these requirements, it could be deemed a warning label defect. In some cases, the product’s operating instructions must include sufficient information regarding the safe use of the product.
A defendant could be liable for damages that were avoidable or unavoidable. For example, medications will come with a warning regarding potential side effects. You could use the medicine correctly and still experience the side effect. This would be an unavoidable harm. However, a corrosive cleaner should have a clear warning label that any direct contact with the skin could cause irritation or worse. If a person takes the proper precautions, any harm should be avoidable. Nonetheless, the manufacturer must provide an adequate warning.
Damages Available in a Bella Vista, AR Product Liability Lawsuit
When someone files a personal injury lawsuit, they are usually seeking monetary compensation for their medical bills and other damages. A product liability claim is no different. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include any financial losses you incurred because of the injury. For example, if you required medical treatment or medication, you could recover the costs in addition to any co-pays you were required to pay. You could also be reimbursed for parking fees or other out-of-pocket expenses. In addition to your medical costs, you are entitled to be compensated for any lost income.
Non-economic damages compensate you for your physical pain and emotional distress. For instance, you could recover for subjective harm such as anxiety, depression, and lost sleep. It is often difficult to quantify these damages. Our experienced personal injury lawyers will look at your circumstances and case law to calculate your potential damages.
In some cases, punitive damages are awarded. While economic and non-economic damages are related to the harm you suffered, punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for malicious and willfully malicious behavior. While rare, punitive damages could be awarded if a company was aware of a dangerous condition and purposefully ignored it.
Contact Our Bella Vista, AR Product Liability Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury due to a manufacturing defect, design defect, or marketing defect, contact GKD Law by calling (479) 316-0438.