Defective Products: Injured Individuals May Recover Damages

April 27, 2018

Everyday, we interact with dozens, if not hundreds of products that are designed and manufactured to perform certain functions.  When these products fail to perform their functions in a reasonably safe manner, or when they otherwise expose others to a heightened risk of injury, then the injury victims may be entitled — under Pennsylvania law — to sue and recover damages from the manufacturer.

If you’d like to determine whether your product defect claim is worth pursuing, make sure to speak with an experienced Bethlehem product defect attorney here at Drake Hileman & Davis, PC.  We will evaluate your claims and develop a step-by-step plan for securing damages given the facts of your case.

Product defect claims are not as simple as one might assume.  In many cases, the circumstances can be somewhat complex, and are not fully revealed until a more thorough investigation is conducted.

For example, suppose that you are injured due to a defective blender product, which shattered upon normal use, thus flinging shards of plastic into your face.  You purchased the blender from a small local shop.  The case seems straightforward — the manufacturer either defectively designed or manufactured the product, and this led to your injuries.

In reality, however, you may find out that the manufacturer isn’t liable at all.  In fact, it could be that the local retailer significantly modified the product, which is what led to the malfunction (and subsequent injuries).  You may still be entitled to recover damages, but against the retailer — not the original manufacturer.

There are many types of product defect claims, and the way in which one must litigate their claims depends on the unique circumstances of the case at-hand.  We’ll move forward with the basics, first, to serve as a sort of foundational understanding.

Strict Liability for Defective Products

In Pennsylvania, as in most other states, product defect claims implement strict liability principles.  That is not to say that negligent, reckless, or intentionally wrongful conduct is not useful for your product defect lawsuit — in fact, you can pursue claims for negligence and intentional misconduct as well.

What is strict liability?

Strict liability is quite different than liability for negligence, or for otherwise wrongful conduct by the defendant.  When applying strict liability to a product defect case, the injured party need only prove that the product at-issue was defective, and that this led to their injuries.  If the injured party was suing the defendant for negligence, by contrast, he would have to not only show that the product was defective (and that the defect led to their injuries), but would also have to show that the defendant was negligent in allowing the defect to be created, or in failing to correct the defect.

Simply put, strict liability demands less out of the injured plaintiff.  Under Pennsylvania law, it does not matter how much effort the manufacturer put into ensuring that their product was safe for its foreseeable uses.  All that matter is that the product was actually safe.  This shifts the cost burden of injuries onto the manufacturers, which is generally a good thing — manufacturers have the financial resources necessary to bear such costs.

Different Types of Product Defect Claims

There are multiple types of product defect claims.  As a general rule, if you’re bringing a product defect claim, you will be asserting one or more of the following:

  • Design defect
  • Manufacturing defect
  • Failure to warn of risks of injury
  • Breach of warranty

A product may be well-designed and properly manufactured, but may have inherent dangers that are not obvious to end-users.  In such cases, the manufacturer still has a duty to warn end-users of the heightened and unexpected risks of injury — this can be accomplished through warning labels and the like.  Failure to do so could lead to liability, even if the product did not have a defect “per se.”

Importantly, no matter the type of product defect claim that you’re bringing against the defendant-manufacturer, you’ll have to show that your use of the product was reasonably foreseeable.  If you use a weed whacker to give your friend a haircut, that is not necessarily a reasonably foreseeable use — if your friend is injured, you cannot sue and recover damages on the basis of defective design.  The manufacturer has no duty to design the product to work for all possible conceived uses, such as using the weed whacker to give a haircut.

Speak to an Experienced Bethlehem Product Defect Attorney for Assistance With Your Claims

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a defective product, whether or not you were the anticipated end-user, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under prevailing Pennsylvania law.  Product defect litigation can taken many forms, depending on the circumstances of your case.  The defendants in product defect litigation — manufacturers and other businesses who may have “deep pockets” and a hostile mentality towards personal injury lawsuits — can make it rather difficult to successfully recover damages.  It’s therefore critical that you consult with an attorney who has a long track record of success in litigating product defect claims in Pennsylvania against diverse and powerful corporate defendants.

Here at Drake Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have represented injured victims in a range of product defect litigation for over three decades, helping negotiate favorable settlements on their behalf, or — in the event that negotiations fall through — pushing through to trial litigation and securing a favorable verdict.

Call (888) 777-7098 to get connected to an experienced Bethlehem product defect attorney today.  During your free initial consultation, we will assess your claims and develop a strategic plan of action for securing the maximum available compensation.