A product liability lawyer holds manufacturers responsible for harm caused by a defective product. Despite government regulations and industry standards, dangerous products injure innocent people every day.
The manufacturers of products often have profits at the front of their minds. However, they also have a duty to create safe and usable products. When they fail in this duty and sell a defective product, they are liable through a product liability lawsuit.
If you were injured after safely using a faulty product, you have legal options. Our Michigan product liability lawyers file your claim against a negligent manufacturer and request full and fair compensation in a claim. We are here to help.
- Types of product defects
- Product liability case examples
- Defective product injury statistics
- Common injuries from defective products
- How to file a product defect injury lawsuit
What Does it Mean for a Product to be Defective?
If a person is injured while using product or device, they do not automatically have a liability claim. Under Michigan law, a manufacturer can be held liable for harm caused by defective product only when specific requirements are met.
According to Michigan Compiled Law §600.2946, plaintiffs must prove a pair of essential elements. First, the plaintiff must show the product in question was not reasonably safe when it left the control of the manufacturer. This means that the product’s defect was the result of an unsafe design or manufacturing error. Therefore, any damage that occurs during shipping or while on a store shelf does not fit into this category.
Second, plaintiffs must prove that an alternative production practice would have prevented the injury (and that this design would be feasible). To prove this element, it is often necessary to hire a product designer or engineer to provide a design for the same product that is safe for use by consumers or workers.
However, proving these steps can be difficult. A Michigan product liability lawyer with experience in these claims can help prove your case. Our team of attorneys has the skill and expertise to win your product liability lawsuit.
Types of Product Defects
In general terms, a product may be considered defective due to flaws in manufacturing, errors in design, or defects in marketing materials and instructions. Some products have multiple defects which make them dangerous for use by the public and in an industrial setting.
Often the most obvious defects are those that occur when a product is in production. A component may be left out or installed incorrectly during assembly, or substance may have contaminated a liquid compound so that it fails to harden properly.
Many different types of errors during the manufacturing process can cause failure in a product. This includes a parts that are cheaply made but used to keep the price down, the failure to inspect the product before putting it on the market, and mishaps in production that go unnoticed due to poor quality controls in the factory.
When a product suffers from a defective design, there is virtually no way to make it safe. The way the product is engineered, it poses dangers for ordinary users even when manufactured properly.
For instance, a vehicle may be defectively designed with too much weight up high so that it tips over during normal driving. Other products might be designed without adequate safety protections or have sharp edges that can harm a small child.
While just as dangerous as defectively manufactured products, defectively designed products are more difficult to challenge in court. A Michigan products liability lawyer may bring in expert witnesses to show that it was possible to design the product in a way that avoided the dangers.
A product may be designed and manufactured correctly and yet still be considered defective under the law if the product does not include adequate warning materials. The manufacturer must provide instructions for safe usage and warn about dangers that could cause injury during foreseeable use of the product. Many products, like household drain cleaners, have vague directions on usage and the average consumer may not understand to proper use of and be harmed by dangerous chemicals in the cleaner.
The manufacturer may be held liable for defective products under a breach of warranty claim. A product warranty is a promise about the quality or characteristics of that product. An express warranty is usually written and contains specific terms promising to provide repairs or replacement of a product within a certain time frame.
Michigan law also creates implied warranties that are offered with products in many situations. The implied warranty of merchantability is an implied promise that a product will fulfill its intended purpose.
A second type of implied warranty is the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. This warranty comes into play when a product is shown or described as being used for a particular purpose. A consumer has the right to believe that the product will be safe for its ordinary use.
Michigan consumers use a wide variety of products, so the types of product liability claims are virtually limitless. Examples of products that could cause injuries due to defects include:
- Cars with defective seatbelts or airbags
- Toys with choking hazards or lead paint
- Medical devices
- Industrial equipment, like machine presses
- Household products, like drain cleaners
- Exploding products and devices
- Tainted foods
- Baby products
- Kitchen products
- Recreational items—including trampolines, tree stands, guns, pools, scooters, fireworks, ATVs, jet skis, and moped
For instance, improperly designed and manufactured medical implants cause pieces to break off and cause internal injuries. Children’s toys or baby products containing lead paint or choking hazards are dangerous. Cars with defective seat belts or airbags cause injuries or fail to protect passengers during collisions. Finally, many products lack necessary safety devices to protect users.
A variety of defective products cause injuries each year. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports some of the latest statistics on its website. For instance, in 2016, 240,000 children under the age of 15 were treated in the emergency department for toy-related injuries. Additional information is also available through the Insurance Information Institute.
The pie chart shows the distribution of consumer product non-fire carbon monoxide deaths from the years 2014-2016 in the United States. According to the graph, three out of every four deaths are due to engine-driven tools and heating systems, with the rest of the products being responsible for all other deaths.
- Engine-Driven Tools: 45.03%
- Heating Systems: 29.82%
- Multiple Products: 7.02%
- Charcoal Grills, Charcoal: 4.68%
- Water Heaters: 4.09%
- Ranges or Ovens: 2.4%
- Lanterns: 2.34%
- Grills, Camp Stoves: 2.34%
- Other Products: 1.75%
- Pool Heaters: 0.58%
Depending on the circumstances, a consumer injured by a defective product may be able to bring a claim. Lawsuits are filed against the product designer, distributor, seller, or marketer of a product. Sometimes, liability is shared among more than one party.
For instance, if a pressure cooker causes steam burns when used as directed, a Michigan product liability lawyer will file a claim against the designer for a defective design and manufacturer and marketer of the product for failure to warn about the dangers of burns. It might be possible to claim that the seller violated the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
The bar chart below shows the percentage of injury types due to toys of all groups in the United States in 2018. Most toy-related injuries are lacerations, with lacerations, contusions and abrasions and fractures being responsible for more than half of all types of injuries.
Products may be defective in many different ways resulting in various types of catastrophic harm to consumers. Some common injuries caused by defective products include vision damage (such as blindness), amputation, traumatic brain injuries, burns, spinal injuries, nerve damage, poisoning, and fractures. Some products are so dangerous that they cause death. A consumer injured by a defective product may suffer emotional trauma as well.
Unlike other simple negligence cases, you will definitely need a product liability lawyer to file a manufacturer lawsuit. These lawsuits have very strict legal requirements from a procedural standpoint and the proofs required to win a case require an experienced lawyer file the case.
In all cases, it is necessary to have an expert witness provide an opinion in support of the case. This includes cases based upon design, manufacturing, and warnings. For cases alleging negligent warnings, we often hire a human factors expert. These experts specialize in analyzing whether the instructions and warnings were sufficient to to protect the consumer of a good or product.
Before filing a lawsuit, it is necessary to gather evidence to support a claim. You should take all measures to keep the product that caused the injury so that it can be inspected and photographed by an expert. When we determine that you have a viable product liability case, our legal team will prepare the written Complaint and file it with the court. Filing the Complaint starts the lawsuit process, which will involve a discovery phase before the case can proceed to trial. Although, many cases result in settlements before going to court.
An individual injured by a dangerous product may be eligible to receive compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and reduced future earnings.
Non-economic losses are factors that impact someone’s life, but do not have a definite monetary equivalent. Examples include pain, suffering, and emotional distress, and disability. Some products cause loss of limbs or result in amputations.
When a fatality occurs, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases demand compensation for the loss of the loved one and for pain and suffering that occurred prior to the death. They also demand economic losses incurred by the family for lost income, medical expenses, loss of financial support, and funeral and burial expenses.
Michigan law puts a limit on the total amount an individual may receive for non-economic damages. The damage cap is determined by the type of injury suffered from the product. These amounts change every year so you should contact us to find out the amount that will apply to your case.
If you suffered injuries caused by defective products, it is a good idea to act quickly to protect your rights. A Michigan product liability lawyer can help you obtain compensation. To do so, it will be necessary to collect evidence to support your claim.
The availability and quality of evidence deteriorate as time passes, so prompt action to preserve evidence could make all the difference.
For a free consultation to learn what may be possible in your case, call now. We do not charge any fee unless you get a settlement.
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