Most people are under the mistaken belief that defective product injuries and fatalities are fairly rare and rather unlikely to occur. The reality is that consumers are injured, even killed, all the time from products that are defective in design or manufacturing. In some cases, the products are marketed for use in ways that are hazardous. In the majority of cases, the consumer is injured or killed while using the product as intended, with no reason to think it would cause them any harm. When this happens, the injured consumer, or the survivors of a consumer who has passed away from their injuries, can file a defective product personal injury or wrongful death claim, as the case may be, against the manufacturer, designer, or distributor of the product, depending on which of these parties is responsible for the defect.
Types of Defective Products that Cause Personal Injuries
Take a moment to think about all of the products that you use on any given day. You wear clothes, you shave, and
you brush your teeth. You drive a vehicle, eat food, and take medications. You use a phone, a computer, a tablet, and various electronic devices. While at home, out and about, or at work, there are dozens or even hundreds of different products used by consumers and employees throughout the day. Any one of these products could easily turn out to be defective and hazardous to your health and well being.
Some common examples of defective product claims involve defective vehicle parts, defective sporting goods, defective products and toys for children, and defective household appliances. Some cases involve defective safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Defective yard equipment, like lawn powers and power tools, are also common examples. There are even examples related to unsafe and tainted foods and toxic cleaning products.
In some cases, the products are completely designed, manufactured, and sold in the US. In other cases, certain parts come from other countries, often with less regulations concerning their safety and effectiveness. This can complicate the process of recovering compensation for defective product injuries, but it does not necessarily prevent you from doing so.
Within the state of Massachusetts, there are specific legal protections for consumers who are injured or killed by defective products. Not only is the designer, manufacturer, and/or distributor of the product likely to be held liable for your injuries, but they can also be made to pay twice the value of your damages, or even triple the value of your damages, in addition to your legal fees, depending on the case.
Yet, it will be necessary for the victim to prove that the product was used correctly, that there was a defect, that this is what caused their injury, and that the injury resulted in damages. This is where it is very important to work with a skilled Massachusetts consumer protection attorney with experience in defective product claims.
Proving Negligence in a Defective Consumer Product Claim
To prove negligence in a defective consumer product claim, you will have to establish that the defendant (whether it is the designer, manufacturer, or distributor) owed you a duty of care. This means that they had a duty to protect you from harm by designing or manufacturing a safe product and/or by instructing you about safe product use and warning you of any potential hazards. You then must prove that the defendant violated their duty of care to you. This could mean that they failed to warn you of the hazards or that they allowed a defective product to be designed, manufactured, and/or sold to unsuspecting consumers. You must then prove that you did sustain injuries and/or damages because of this, and that this was a direct result of the negligence (breached duty of care) of the defendant.
Establishing Negligence in Breach of Warranty Claims
There are also breach of warranty claims that involve defective products in which the manufacturer has warranted that the product was appropriate for the intended use. In these cases, as long as you were using the product as intended, you can pursue compensation for any damages that result from a product defect. You will have to establish that you were using the product correctly in a way that you would reasonably expected to use it, that a defect made the product dangerous, and that this caused your injury. These cases frequently require expert witnesses to establish that the manufacturer breached the warranty.
When Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices Factor Into Your Claim
In cases where the manufacturer of a product breached the warranty or was otherwise negligent in producing and selling a given defective product, the issue of unfair or deceptive business practices may factor into your claim. If so, you can generally recover compensation for your legal fees (including attorney’s fees) and double or triple the value of your damages. In these cases, you need to send a 30-Day Demand Letter to the manufacturer and ensure that your claim is investigated thoroughly to establish the legitimacy of your claim.
What You Should Do After a Defective Product Injury Occurs
Whenever you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a defective product, you need to find out who the manufacturer is and get their address and other contact information. Then, you should take pictures of the product, the serial number, any warnings and instructions associated with the product, and the injuries that resulted from using the product as intended.
You should save the product as it is after the incident, and do not try to fix it or dispose of it. It will be needed when it comes to proving liability. Keep the packaging and instructions of the product if you still have them, or attempt to locate such information online. You should also gather the contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident, seek medical treatment right away, and keep all records of such treatment.
Contact a consumer protection attorney as soon as possible to learn more. Call the Rights Protection Law Group to schedule a free consultation with a consumer protection lawyer.