You reasonably trust that the products you bring into your home, the medication you take, and the vehicle you drive to be safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In today’s world of instant gratification, some manufacturers and other parties rush products to the market without ensuring that they are safe to use. When this happens and you are injured as a result, you need an advocate on your side who will help seek the accountability and financial compensation you deserve.
Our product liability lawyers represent consumers injured by various types of defective products. The team at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. has seen firsthand how devastating the harm can be when products are designed or manufactured in an unsafe manner. We want to help make things right after you’ve been harmed by dangerous products. We provide a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. Contact us today to get started on your claim.
What Is Product Liability?
Manufacturers, designers, distributors, suppliers, marketers, and others involved in selling products to the public owe the public a duty to only make products that are reasonably safe for their intended purpose. If these parties breach their duty, they can be required to pay financial compensation for the harm their products caused to the consumers who were harmed by them.
To recover compensation in a product liability case, you often must show the product was defective and that defective condition caused you harm. If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, a product liability lawyer can review your case and determine the appropriate course of action.
What Are Common Causes of Product Liability Cases?
Nearly any product can be at the center of a product liability case. However, some of the most common items that comprise this area of the law include:
Vehicles and Auto Parts
We rely on the vehicles we drive to get us safely to and from work, school, and home. However, vehicles and auto parts are one of the most common reasons people file product liability cases. Some vehicle and auto part defects cause accidents, such as:
- Tires that explode unexpectedly
- Steering mechanisms that fail
- Brakes that do not stop properly
- Defective electronic stability control systems
- Metallurgical defects
Other defective auto parts harm or fail to protect occupants in the vehicle in case an accident occurs, such as:
- Gas tanks that explode upon impact
- Airbags that fail to deploy
- Seat belts that do not hold the occupant in place in case of a crash
Our team of lawyers have deep knowledge both identifying defectively manufactured goods, but also prosecuting design defects, including those that may arise from organizational problems, such as lacking an ISO 9001 certification, failing to properly implement failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), not utilizing fault tree analysis (FTA), or improperly relying on finite element analysis (FEA).
Toys and Children’s Items
As parents and loved ones of parents, you want your children to be safe when using the products you’ve entrusted to them. However, some toys and children’s items are unsafe. Cribs may not have properly spaced slats. Small toys may pose a choking hazard. Furniture items may be unstable and likely to fall over. Clothing may be made with flammable material.
Even the food we feed our children can put them at risk. Healthy Babies, Bright Futures reports that 95% of baby food is contaminated with heavy metals. Many of these contaminants, including lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are on the World Health Organization’s top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children. These chemicals can cause developmental delays and lower a child’s IQ.
One of the difficult aspects of cases involving defective medical devices is that they may already be surgically implanted in the consumer. Once they realize there is a problem with the device, they may have to make the difficult decision of removing the item from their body or allowing an unsafe device to remain. Sometimes it is years before problems with these devices are discovered.
Examples of defective medical devices include:
- Hernia and vaginal mesh
- IVC filters
- Breast implants
- Knee and hip replacements
Whichever type of product liability issue you are dealing with, we are here to help guide you through the process of recovering fair compensation for the harm you experienced.
Large and small home appliances alike can pose dangers to consumers, including serious third-degree burns. Defective home appliances include:
- Ovens and ranges
- Refrigerators and freezers
- Water heaters
Defective power tools can cause injuries when we try to fix or improve our surroundings. Injuries with these defective products can often be serious and disfiguring.
Common Types of Defective Product Injuries
Defective products can cause a variety of injuries, ranging from mild to severe or even fatal. Depending on the nature of the defect and the circumstances surrounding the accident, possible injuries from defective products include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Birth injuries
- Torso injuries
- Arm or leg injuries
- Explosion and burn injuries
- Emotional injuries
- Continued sickness due to exposure to harmful chemicals
Types of Product Defects
Your product liability claim will be classified under one of the following types of product liability claims:
A manufacturing defect is a mistake in the production process, such as:
- An error in assembly
- Irregular moldings
- Subpar materials
- Bad parts
- Defective machinery
Human or computer error can arise during the manufacturing process, which can result in problems with one or more batches of product. The mistake was not intended to be part of the finished product.
A design defect occurs when there is an inherent flaw in the original design of the product, rendering it unreasonably dangerous. All products, rather than just a portion of them, stemming from the design are defective. The product was made as instructed, but it poses a hazard to consumers.
When determining whether a defective design is at play, questions that need to be answered include:
- Was the design unreasonably dangerous before it was produced?
- Was it foreseeable that the design could harm a potential user of the product?
- Could the manufacturer of the product have used a better design that was economically feasible to accomplish the same purpose?
Another product liability claim can be brought because of warning defects. The manufacturer may fail to warn of potential risks, and any party in the chain of distribution can be financially liable for resulting injuries. Consumers depend on these warning labels to avoid injuries.
Common warnings that are included on potentially dangerous items include:
- Electrical products can cause electrical shock, which can result in heart attacks.
- Hair dryers near water can cause electrocution.
- Poison can be created by combining different ingredients.
- Small items may be choking hazards for young children.
- People should not operate machinery or drive after taking certain medications.
In addition to having warnings, manufacturers are also responsible for making sure these warnings are effective. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) establishes requirements for warning labels for various products. Warnings should be conspicuous and positioned as near to the hazard as possible under these standards. ANSI also uses three color-coded keywords to warn customers of potential dangers.
The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to place black box warnings on certain medications to adequately warn consumers of the possibility of safety issues.
How Can I Prove My Product Liability Case?
To recover compensation for a product liability case, you must be able to show the following legal elements:
- The product had one of the types of defects described above
- You used the product as it was intended to be used
- The defect was the proximate cause of the injury
- The defect caused your injury
- You suffered actual injuries as a result of the defect
Possible Compensation You Can Recover in a Product Liability Claim
Dangerous products can cause substantial physical, financial, and emotional damage to unsuspecting consumers. You may be able to recover compensation from the responsible party for the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses – You may have incurred significant expenses for emergency treatment and transport, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy. You may also have medical expenses in the future, such as ongoing care and rehabilitation for which you can pursue compensation.
- Lost income – You may be entitled to compensation for the wages you lost while seeking medical treatment and recovering from your injuries. Additionally, you may be able to receive compensation for your reduced earning capacity, which reflects any long-term changes in your ability to earn a living caused by the injuries.
- Property damage – If your property such as your house or car was damaged because of the defective product, you may be able to recover compensation for this damage.
- Intangible losses – In addition to those losses that you can prove based on a bill, invoice, or estimate, you can also recover compensation for intangible losses. These losses often include pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, scarring, and permanent disabilities.
An experienced product liability lawyer can investigate your case and determine the potential value of your claim.
Contact Our Chicago-Based Product Liability Lawyers for Help
If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, the product liability lawyers at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. can help. Our attorneys handle a variety of personal injury and product liability cases. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help and to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer during a confidential consultation.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions our lawyers receive about defective products:
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries?
If you were injured by a defective product, there may be many parties who could be held responsible for your injuries, including:
- Retail outlets
An experienced lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding your injury and determine who is at fault for it.
How Do I Prove the Product Was Defective?
It can be difficult to show a product that injured you was defective. However, an experienced lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Records from the manufacturer about the manufacturing, design, or warning process or defect
- Official governmental reports regarding the defective products
- Other reports of injuries or deaths caused by the product
- Reports from experts we retain on your behalf
- Photos or videos of the accident
- Witness statements
An experienced lawyer can help compile evidence and present it to the insurance company and defendant in a persuasive manner.
How Can a Lawyer Help with a Product Liability Case?
A product liability attorney can help with all aspects of your case, including:
- Conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident
- Identifying all potentially at-fault parties
- Gathering persuasive evidence
- Determining the cause of action you can proceed with
- Explaining your legal rights and options
- Answering your questions
- Managing claim paperwork and deadlines
We offer a free case review, so you can contact us to learn more about your case at no risk.