In the realm of products, there are three major ways that a product can be deemed defective or dangerous- worthy of a recall. First of all, there could be a defect in the manufacturing. This type of defect involves an otherwise good product which has been manufactured poorly. A product that is not performing how it was designed and intended to perform may fall under this category. Another type of liability is a failure to warn, also known as a defect in the marketing of the product. This may be a little more difficult to define. When a product is designed and released onto the market, the product manufacturer is responsible for fully explaining its intended use to consumers. This can include proper instructions, for example.
Products that have small parts and could pose a choking hazard to small children should say that on the packaging. The intended use of the product is also an incredibly important feature. Many of the injuries that consumers sustain are because they did not use the product properly. Manufacturers need to include detailed instructions or they may be guilty of failure to warn. Finally, there is the design defect. This is a defect in the very structure of the product itself, rather than a mistake that was made to an otherwise good product. Even if a product was manufactured as carefully and safely as possible, it would still be defective or dangerous because of a fault in the design itself.
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Most personal injury claims operate on the basis of negligence, which is a type of carelessness administered by one party that results directly or indirectly in the injury of another individual. Negligence connotes bad behavior in a way. It is more of an attitude of carelessness. Sometimes, a party is responsible for damages while having no intention or carelessness on their part. This is when a case changes hands to "strict liability." Since manufacturers who design products that don't work or don't work as intended did not make their product with the intention that it would fail, they are liable but not negligent. For example, a person who owns a building and fails to get the sidewalk repaired would be both liable and negligent if someone tripped and hurt themselves on that particular area of the sidewalk. A product manufacturer can be liable, but not negligent, for designing a product that did not work as it was intended to work.
The Role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission & the FDA
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the regulating agency for products that reach the shelves, just as the Food and Drug Administration is the regulating agency (an arm of the government) that is responsible for all food and drugs that reach consumers. With these regulating agencies and strict rules in place, how do so many dangerous products still reach the shelves each year? Unfortunately, many products are not recalled until multiple consumers report injuries. When accidents are reported, the regulating agencies will then step in to run tests on the product, or ask the manufacturers to run additional tests on their products.
What is often found are problems all the way up to the warehouse level, where the products are actually manufactured. If you were injured by a product of some kind, whether a toy, a prescription drug, or a coffee maker, then you may even be able to join a mass tort. This happens when a product injures multiple people in the same way. You may be able to band together with others who have been injured by the same product.
Regardless of what product injured you, we would like to hear about it. Contact Arnold & Itkin today to learn more about what we can do for you.