When a consumer buys a product, they expect it to operate the way it was designed to operate, without any unnecessary or unexpected risks. Nevertheless, consumer product accidents happen more often than you might expect. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2021, 11.7 million people received emergency room treatment for injuries caused by a consumer product. That is a lot of injuries caused by consumer products, and that figure does not include injuries that are self-treated or treated by a primary care doctor.
If a manufacturer or vendor sells you a product that is unsafe, defective, or that does not function as advertised, you may qualify to bring a product liability claim to recover damages for your injuries. Contact a product liability claims attorney at O’Connor, Parson, Lane & Noble today to discuss your case.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Unlike other personal injury claims, defective product cases are “strict liability” cases in New Jersey. That means if you can show a defect existed, the manufacturer is strictly liable for the injuries you suffered. Product liability claims arise when a defective product causes an injury. There are three types of defective product cases:
- Manufacturing defects,
- Design defects, and
- Failure to warn.
The different types of product liability claims are described in further detail below.
Manufacturing Defect Claims
Manufacturing defects occur during the assembly or development of a product. A manufacturing defect often affects one or more units but not the entire line of products. When a manufacturing defect occurs, the defect makes the product depart from its intended design. Manufacturers hire employees to weed out products containing manufacturing defects before they are sold. However, defective products sometimes fall through the cracks and land in the hands of a consumer. In manufacturing defect claims, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the manufacturing defect caused their injury.
For example, a manufacturing defect could cause your car’s windshield wipers to malfunction when you try to turn them on. However, if you suffered injuries in a car wreck while your windshield wipers were off, it is unlikely the malfunctioning wipers caused your accident. If you have questions about injuries that might have been caused by a manufacturing defect, contact one of our product defects claims attorneys. A lawyer at O’Connor, Parson, Lane & Noble can guide you through the entire process of filing your claim.
Design Defect Claims
A design defect occurs when a product is produced according to a particular design, but the product design itself creates a foreseeable risk of harm to consumers when the product is used for its intended purpose. To show a design defect, the plaintiff must demonstrate the risk could have been reduced or avoided if the manufacturer had adopted a “reasonable alternative design.” For an alternative design to qualify as reasonable, the following three things must be true:
- The manufacturer must have the ability to produce the alternative design;
- The cost of creating the modified product must not pose an undue hardship to the manufacturer; and
- The alternative design must not conflict with the product’s intended purpose.
For example, a company might design a fan that is intended to keep a room cool on a hot day. However, the original design does not contain any safety barriers to prevent a child from sticking their fingers between the fan blades. It is foreseeable a child would suffer injury by sticking their hand into a fan that doesn’t have a protective barrier preventing them from doing so. Adding a small barrier is likely a small and insignificant change to the original design, and the fan would still function as intended. Someone whose child suffered injuries as a result of the unprotected fan blades could argue the fan had a design defect because it lacked a protective barrier, and they might be entitled to damages for their losses. Contact a lawyer today to discuss the potential damages in product liability claims.
Failure to Warn Claims
You can hold a manufacturer liable for your injuries if the product is labeled inaccurately or lacked adequate warnings about how to safely use the product. For example, items like hair dryers or curling irons display prominent warnings stating you should not get the device wet. These tags satisfy a manufacturer’s obligation to provide consumers with a warning about the foreseeable hazards associated with using the product.
Manufacturers have two duties when giving instructions and warnings for their products. First, they must advise users on how to use the product properly so they can avoid any dangers. Second, the manufacturer must include warnings about any hidden dangers the product has. An adequate warning must be clear, specific, and placed in a location that is easy for the average consumer to find.
For example, a wax warmer might combust into flames if you leave it on for more than six hours. That means the manufacturer needs to include a warning with the product that tells the consumer about the fire risk. If the product does not include warnings and someone is injured by a fire that started because a wax warmer was on for more than six hours, the manufacturer can be strictly liable for that person’s losses.
Contact O’Connor, Parson, Lane & Noble Today to Learn More About Types of Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims differ from other personal injury lawsuits because the victim does not have to prove negligence or intentional misconduct. However, that doesn’t mean getting compensation for a product liability claim is easy or straightforward. O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble’s history of success and professionalism has gained the respect of our peers and our clients. In 2021, seven of our attorneys were selected for inclusion on the 2021 “New Jersey Super Lawyers and Rising Stars” lists. We know how to get tough with our opponents while treating you with the compassion and attention you deserve. Our attorneys and staff are ready to fight for you. Contact us today by phone or online to schedule a free consultation.