Most of us expect items we purchase off store shelves to be safe to use. It goes through many eyes and hands before it makes it into yours. There’s the designer, the manufacturer, the marketer, the buyer from the store who chooses that item for the retailer’s shelves, and others on the supply chain that should acknowledge problems with a product before it hits store shelves and gets in the hands of consumers.
Sadly, no matter how many levels of quality assurance checks products go through, problems seem to arise, endangering consumers’ lives. There’s not just one type of defect that ends up with the filing of product liability claims in West Virginia, but instead, multiple ones. Read on to learn more about the defects in product liability claims so that if you’ve had the misfortune of becoming hurt, you’ll have a better idea if you may have a valid reason to take legal action.
Defects That Products Can Have
Three of the most common types of defects products can have include:
Product designers have a dual-pronged focus. They have to worry about making the products they come up with both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing. Oftentimes, the utility of the product isn’t prioritized by designers as much as its visual appeal is. In a rush to get a product to market, it may not go through as much testing as it should to ensure it’s safe for regular consumer use.
Problems that arise because a product isn’t adequately vetted include that it may:
- Have small, removable pieces, like beads or watch batteries, that a child could easily choke on or become trapped in their intestinal tract
- Change consistency, such as melting or cracking, when subjected to extreme temperatures
- Be constructed from materials incapable of withstanding certain weight loads for extended periods of time
- Only be safe to use at certain speeds or when otherwise used under specific circumstances
A product’s design may be safe; however, it may have been fabricated differently from what was intended, thus rendering it unsafe. Manufacturing defects can happen because:
- The machinery used to make the product has some mechanical issues
- The equipment used at this stage was programmed incorrectly
- Of human error, such as the wrong raw materials being fed into the unit to create the item or instructions weren’t followed
Some examples of outcomes that can result from manufacturing defects include:
- A product may be constructed from inferior materials that can’t withstand its intended uses
- The wrong electrical wiring or hardware (i.e., screws or bolts) may be utilized to build an item, which can cause fires, shock, stability issues, and more performance concerns
- Some critical components (like wiring or a support beam) may not get manufactured or installed (in a pre-fab item), thus resulting in it not functioning as intended or posing a safety risk
Failure To Warn Defects
Generally, there’s another hand on the deck: a distributor for a product. That person is responsible for marketing or advertising that leads to a retailer deciding to offer a product on store shelves and, ultimately, a consumer buying an item. Advertising errors, or failure to warn of defects, as they’re often referred to in the legal industry, can cause harm in the following ways:
- A product may get released on the market that contains small parts and thus is only appropriate for ages three and up without warnings it contains a choking hazard
- Consumer goods like a traditional sauna may carry with them certain risks of burns if utilized in a certain way (i.e., someone throws a fair amount of water on the stones)
- A product fails to warn of designated uses and unintended ones, too
In some cases, products put forth false claims on their packaging or instructions, thus making it appear that consumers can achieve certain results through the regular, intended use of the product when that’s not possible. This may lead consumers to try doing unsafe things with the product, thus leading to preventable injuries or deaths.
Examples of Products That May Be Defective or Dangerous
There is a wide range of products that can be unsafe for consumers to use if they’re not properly designed, manufactured, or aren’t accompanied by adequate warnings. While some of these defects may ultimately lead to a product’s recall and those harmed filing lawsuits against the negligent party, countless individuals may suffer irreparable harm before that happens. Some examples of dangerous or defective products that hurt consumers sometimes more than others include:
- Children’s toys
- Home or office furniture
- Passenger cars
- Home electronics, such as curling irons, air fryers, or battery-operated technology like cell phones
- Medications, including both over-the-counter and prescription ones
- Exercise equipment
What Types of Injuries Result From Using Dangerous or Defective Products?
There are many injury dangers that can stem from someone using a product due to the defects described above, including:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Lacerations (cuts)
- Hearing loss
- Respiratory illnesses
While many of the injuries individuals suffer when using a dangerous or defective product are temporary, others can be long-term. A wrongful death is also a possibility when a person is injured by a dangerous or defective product.
What Are Your Options if a Dangerous or Defective Product Hurts You?
There are a few different steps you should take if you are maimed by a dangerous or defective product. Those steps include:
Seeking Medical Attention
Of course, seek immediate medical care anytime you suffer injuries. This is critical to ensuring you don’t experience any further decline in your health. Be sure to follow any treatment plan your treating physician recommends.
Notify Government Authorities of the Dangerous Product
Report the unsafe product to the proper government agency. The more reports these agencies receive about a particular concern regarding a product, the more likely it is for them to order a company to issue a recall or fine them for their oversight. Also, since consumers often research products before buying them, any reports you provide may ultimately be seen by would-be consumers before they make a purchase or get hurt themselves.
One federal agency that product defects can be reported to is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can report a complaint using their phone or fax hotlines, by email, by postal mail, or simply by using their online Report an Unsafe Product tool.
Consult With a Charleston Product Liability Lawyer
If you believe that you utilized the product that maimed you properly (in accordance with packaging warnings and ownership instructions) and it still caused you harm, then you should consider speaking with a product liability attorney. When you meet with one of our DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC lawyers, they’ll ask you about specifics regarding your case and discuss any legal remedies available for you to pursue per West Virginia law, including filing a product liability claim.
So, if a potentially dangerous or defective product has caused you serious injuries, led to the onset of an illness, or caused a loved one’s death, reach out to our Charleston law firm to tell us about your situation today. Your initial consultation with one of our DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC product liability attorneys is completely free.