You have been injured by a defective product and now, naturally, you want to sue the product manufacturer for your damages. The good news is that product liability law generally holds product makers to a standard of strict liability, which makes them automatically responsible for any harm done by unreasonably unsafe products they allow to enter the market. The bad news is that even with strict liability rules applied, product manufacturers can still challenge your product liability claim using various arguments – and you can assume that they will.
There are three main arguments product makers use to defend against product liability claims:
- Product alteration: When a company sells a product, they usually sell it in its intended and final form, unless there are supplied directions regarding how to complete its assembly. Changing a product to be different from its intended form, and then getting hurt by that modified product, will likely put some liability on the consumer, not the product maker. For example, you took the rubber grips off your new shoes to make them look sleeker, but then slip on tile flooring. Since you decided to remove the rubber sole, you would likely be assigned full liability for your slip and fall accident.
- Adequate warning: Any product sold needs to come with adequate instructions and warnings of potential dangers. Usually, you can find printed instruction inside a package and on its exterior packaging, such as on the back or bottom of the box. A product manufacturer can shield themselves from some liability if they can prove that you were provided adequate warnings of possible dangers when you purchased or received the product. It will be difficult for a product maker to be completely excused of liability, though, as no amount of warnings can account for an unreasonable product danger.
- Unpreventable dangers: Some products are inherently dangerous, like a power tool or a kitchen knife. The industry calls the expected hazards of such products “unpreventable dangers.” After all, you cannot expect to purchase a knife and believe it will not cut things. However, product manufacturers have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to make unpreventable dangers less dangerous to consumers. For example, a company that sells kitchen knives can include a blade cover in the packaging, which the buyer can use whenever the knife is not in use to prevent inadvertent cut injuries.
Keep the Product in Your Possession
To build up their defenses against your product liability claim, a product manufacturer will want to examine the product that hurt you. They will certainly ask you to send it to them as soon as you notify them that an accident has happened. With this in mind, do not send the defective product back to the manufacturer until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney.
Your lawyer needs a chance to see the product and possibly send it to a neutral third party for evaluation, like a mechanical engineer. You have no obligation owed to the product manufacturer to quickly send them something that is your property. When your attorney is satisfied that they have gathered enough evidence about the product, they will advise if or when you should send it to the manufacturer, who will then analyze it to try to boost their defense strategy.
Todd Miner Law offers representation to injured consumers throughout Orlando. If you were using a product and a defect or hazard hurt you, we want to know about it. Call (407) 269-5877 to discuss the situation, and we can tell you what to do next to pursue compensation for your injuries.