People rely on a nearly infinite range of products in their everyday lives, such as home appliances, computers, automobiles, and even clothing. A defect or dangerous condition in any of these products could cause serious injury. So that people do not have to spend every waking moment worrying about the safety of everything they touch, our legal system has devised several mechanisms to protect consumers from dangerous or defective products in the marketplace. Product safety laws establish guidelines for products before they ever become available to the public, in the hope of preventing injuries from occurring at all. Companies may issue a recall of a product known to be dangerous or defective, or the government may order a recall. If an injury does occur due to a dangerous or defective product, the law of products liability provides the injured party with a means to hold the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product liable.
The three main types of product defects are design defects, manufacturer defects, and defects in instructions or warnings. The legal remedy for injuries sustained from a defective consumer product varies from case to case.
· Defects in Design - Example: A bicycle manufacturer's design specifies brake cables that tend to come apart when the rider applies the brakes during normal use.
· Defects in Manufacturing - Example: A car has an accelerator that is prone to sticking, due to a defective manufacturing process, creating the possibility of a serious accident and injuries or death.
· Defects in Warnings - Example: An adequate written warning is required for a space heater that is prone to overheating and causing a fire hazard if left on for more than 12 hours.
Legal Remedies for Defective Products
The law provides numerous remedies for the effects of dangerous consumer products, depending on the situation. The two main legal theories for product defect cases are negligence and strict liability:
· Negligence: Plaintiffs may collect damages from a liable defendant (i.e. the manufacturer and/or retailer) if he or she can prove that the manufacturer breached a duty owed to a plaintiff, that this breach caused an injury, and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result. For example, a motorcycle that wasn't tested properly and loses a wheel, causing serious injury to the rider, would most likely result in the plaintiff receiving a monetary award for damages. See "Proving Fault: What is Negligence?" for more information.
· Strict Liability: Manufacturers are "strictly" liable for product defects occurring during the manufacturing process, regardless of the manufacturer's level of care. In other words, the plaintiff need not prove negligence in order to prevail in a lawsuit against a manufacturer for injuries caused by a dangerous product, as long as the defect resulted from a manufacturing error. See "Defects in Manufacturing" for more details.
Other legal avenues include the assertion of one's warranty rights (implied or express) and the theory of tortuous misrepresentation. See "Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases" for a concise overview of these different legal theories.
Dangerous Products: From Cribs to Cigarettes
Targeted information about various different categories of defective or dangerous products, listed below:
· Smoking Injuries and Your Legal Rights
· If you or a loved one experienced smoking-related injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future expenses, in addition to special legal damages. Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include whether you and your loved ones may be entitled to compensation for current and future medical and treatment expenses; if you and your loved ones can recover lost wages from work, and other out-of-pocket expenses stemming from smoking-related injuries; and whether smoking injuries may entitle you and your loved ones to recover damages for pain and suffering.
· Brass Knuckles and the Law
· Are brass knuckles legal? States in the U.S. have differing views on this question. Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles of any kind. Materials used to make hardened knuckles include brass, steel, hard plastics, and acrylic. Although the possession of a pair of brass knuckles is generally a misdemeanor crime in states where they are against the law, using brass knuckles in a violent crime can lead to felony charges.
· Hookah Pipes and Water Pipe Smoking Injuries
· According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention Hookah smokers are at risk for the same kinds of cancers and other diseases as those that are caused by cigarette and cigar smoking, including oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function, and decreased fertility. It can also lead to the spread of tuberculosis and hepatitis.
· Product Liability and Guns
· Defective and unreasonably dangerous products can cause serious injuries to adults and children alike. No one uses a product expecting it to break or fail; when a product's defect becomes apparent, it can take the user by surprise. Products liability cases involving weapons have been successful where the injury is alleged to have occurred due to a true malfunction of the weapon or due to inadequate warnings relating to an unexpectedly dangerous quality of the weapon.
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