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February 4, 2015

Defective Vehicle Parts can Cause Accidents

Defective Vehicle Parts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[1] (NHTSA), over 2.3 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents during 2012. While the vast majority of accidents are the result of driver error[2], a substantial number each year occur as the result of defective vehicle equipment or parts. When these accidents occur, victims are often able to recover for their injuries and other losses by filing a lawsuit. Specific examples of the types of losses that are often recoverable include medical expenses, lost income, damage to property, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and others. 

Product Liability Law

The area of law that allows people to hold designers, manufacturers, retailers, and other involved in the chain of commerce liable for injuries caused by defective products is known as product liability law.[3] Product liability claims generally arise from three distinct types of product defects. These are as follows:

Claims based on defective design – Defective design claims arise when the way that a product is designed make it inherently dangerous to use as it is intended. These types of defects usually affect all instances of a given product, not just a particular batch or lot. In the context of motor vehicle accidents, design defects could include issues such as vehicles that are inherently unstable or brakes pads or airbags that deploy with excessive force.

Claims based on defective manufacture – Claims that are based on defective manufacture arise when a product is manufactured in such a way as to make it unreasonably dangerous to use as intended.  Common examples of manufacturing defects include using the wrong or substandard materials, improper assembly or construction, shoddy workmanship, or other manufacturing errors.

Claims based on failure to warn – Also known as defective marketing, these claims arise when a nonobvious danger posed by a consumer product could be easily mitigated by providing the consumer with a warning.

Legally, these claims can proceed under various theories, including negligence,[4] breach of express or implied warranty, or strict liability. The legal theory used in a particular car accident case will depend largely on the specific reason the accident occurred. In addition, various parties could be held liable in a product liability claim based on a defective vehicle or vehicle part, including the vehicle manufacturer, the designer or manufacturer of a specific part, or the retailer that ultimately sold the vehicle to the consumer.

What kinds of Vehicle Part Defects can Cause Accidents?

Modern motor vehicles are extremely complicated machines with literally thousands of parts that have the potential to fail. Some of the more common kinds of defects that often lead to motor vehicle accidents are detailed below.

Vehicle DefectsBrake Failure – Brakes are an essential part of any vehicle, allowing it to slow down and stop. When a vehicle’s brakes fail, a driver may be unable to control his or her vehicle, potentially resulting in a serious accident. Additionally, there are many aspects of modern brakes that have the potential to fail, including brake pads, brake lines, brake cylinders, and brake pedals.

Steering Mechanism Failure – A vehicle’s steering mechanism is what allows the driver to control the direction of the vehicle. When a steering mechanism fails, serious accidents can occur as a result. The specific parts of a steering mechanism that have the potential to fail include the power steering pump, hydraulic lines, tie rods, or the steering gear.
Tires – A vehicle’s tires are extremely important, as they are (or should be) a vehicle’s only point of contact with the ground. When tires fail, a driver could easily lose control of his or her vehicle. In addition, tire blowouts can occur suddenly and without warning, potentially resulting in a serious accident. Defective tires could include those that were manufactured with substandard rubber, improperly treaded tires, structural defects, or poor adhesion between tire belts and treads.
Windshield wipers – Most people do not think of windshield wipers as a particularly essential piece of equipment on their vehicle. Their opinion would likely change very quickly if their wipers failed during a heavy rain or snow storm. Without effective windshield wipers, a driver’s visibility would be significantly diminished in the event of adverse weather. As a result, defective windshield wipers have the potential to cause serious accidents.
Airbags – Properly designed and manufactured airbags should deploy when a vehicle is involved in a significantly forceful collision. In some cases, however, defective airbags have been known to deploy randomly while driving, often causing serious motor vehicle accidents. In addition, defective airbags can cause serious injury even when they deploy correctly, especially if there is an issue with the rate of their deployment or the explosive charge used by the airbag manufacturer.

Injuries Associated with Car Accidents Caused by Defective Vehicle Parts

Like all motor vehicle accidents, those caused by defective vehicles or vehicle equipment can often cause serious injury. In some cases, car accident victims can develop serious and debilitating long-term complications as a result of their injuries, possibly keeping them from working or even living independently. Among the most common kinds of injuries that people sustain in car accidents caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Contusions
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Concussions
  • Sprains
  • Burns
  • Neurological injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Accidental amputations

Of course, there are many other kinds of injuries that can occur after a motor vehicle accident. Anyone who has been involved in a crash should seek medical attention immediately, even if they do not have any readily apparent injuries. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may take hours or even days to develop symptoms. By undergoing a medical evaluation, victims can be certain that their injuries are properly identified and treated.

Victims have options

Fortunately for people who are injured in accidents caused by defective vehicles or vehicle parts, in many cases they can recover for both their economic and noneconomic losses from the responsible manufacturer. In many cases, this recovery can be substantial and may compensate victims for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.  

[1] http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812006.pdf
[2] http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2013/12/human-error-cause-vehicle-crashes
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_liability
[4] http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/negligence

February 3, 2015

How Safe are the Products in your Home?

Defective Household Products

We all work hard to properly teach our children about all of the potential dangers in the outside world, such as traffic, strangers, and more. However, how often do you take a look to examine how safe your children may be when they are inside your home? Most people likely assume that their homes are safe for their families as they likely considered safety when they carefully chose appliances and other products. Parents are generally especially careful when they select from the wide range of baby and child-related products that are available. No matter how careful you may be, however, you may have  defective products in your home that have the potential to malfunction and cause serious injury to members of your family.

Negligent manufacturers

Manufacturers of consumer products have a legal duty to sell products that are safe for their intended use by the individuals who purchase them. Unfortunately, manufacturers can make errors and defective and/or dangerous products make it onto shelves and into stores and can, ultimately, cause injury to you or your family.

Products can be defective three primary ways, as follows:

  • Defective design, which means that the product was defective from the literal drawing board, and every product that came from that design likely has the defect.
  • Defective assembly, which means that though the product was correctly designed, defects arose due to poor workmanship, using the wrong materials, or other mistakes in the assembly process.
  • Failure to warn, which means that a company did not place adequate warnings for consumers if it knew of a possibly dangerous quality of the product.

If any of the above occur and a consumer suffers injury as a result, a manufacturer may likely be found negligent and responsible for the losses the injured victim incurred due to their injuries under the legal concept of products liability.[1]

Role of the CPSC

Recalled Household ProductsThe United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)[2] is the federal agency in charge of trying to keep the public safe from the unreasonable risks of serious or even fatal injury that may be caused by the hundreds of thousands of consumer products for sale in the U.S. Such injuries reportedly cost the U.S. over $1 trillion on an annual basis. For this reason—and for the physical safety of American families—the CPSC has worked for 40 years to keep defective and dangerous products off the shelves.

The CPSC plays the following roles in its attempt to protect consumers:

  • Collects and compiles reports of consumer injury and death due to consumer products
  • Enforces a number of regulations and statutes[3] that are related to consumer products safety
  • Recommends and oversees product recalls
  • Imposes penalties on corporations that refuse to comply with product recalls

What is a product recall?

A product recall occurs when a company admits that a product it sold is defective or unsafe and requests that consumers return the product to the company. The manufacturer will then either repair the product (if possible) or will replace the defective product with a safe one. New consumer product recalls are issued in the United States on a regular basis. The CPSC lists all issued recalls on its website[4] for easy reference for consumers. If you believe that a product you have may be defective, you can search the recall list to see if a recall has been issued for that product.

Potentially dangerous infant and child products

As previously mentioned, choosing the right baby and child products is often a painstaking process for parents. With so many options available for each different type of product, parents usually work diligently to select the right ones for their child. However, no matter how careful parents may be, they may still unknowingly end up purchasing defective products that may cause injury to their child. Some examples of child products that are commonly recalled due to defects include the following:

  • Slings and back pack carriers – The straps on these infant carriers can break and cause a baby to tumble to the ground.
  • Strollers – Parts can collapse and cause falls or cause a child’s fingers to get pinched in folding parts.
  • Cribs – The sides of some cribs have been known to detach, causing children to roll out of the crib or become trapped under the side. Drop-side and convertible cribs can be particularly dangerous.
  • Toys – Many different kinds of toys are regularly recalled, mostly due to potential choking hazards[5] or contaminated materials.
  • Car seats – The latches and other parts of car seats can malfunction and not provide adequate protection for child passengers.

These are only a few of the many different child products that may be defective and injure children  in your home.

Home appliances that can cause injury

Thousands of people are injured by seemingly innocuous home appliances on a daily basis. The injuries that victims sustain can be serious, sometimes requiring intensive medical care and even causing long-term medical problems. In particularly serious cases, those affected may be develop disabilities that keep them from working or even engaging in everyday activities. Some of the more common kinds of home appliances that often cause injury include:Faulty Wiring

  • Refrigerators
  • Televisions
  • Hairdryers
  • Space heaters
  • Washers and dryers
  • Toaster ovens
  • Dishwashers
  • Microwaves
  • Ceiling fans
  • Curling irons
  • Computers
  • Coffee makers

Home appliances can cause accidents in a variety of different ways. For example, an appliance may be defectively manufactured or designed in such a way as to cause the appliance to be unstable and pose an unreasonable risk of falling over. In other cases, the hazard posed by an appliance may stem from faulty electrical wiring creating a risk of electrical shock. Furthermore, many different home appliances have the potential to malfunction and start a fire, which can cause severe burn injuries.[6] The above are only a few examples of products in your home that may cause injury.

[1]http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/products_liability
[2]http://www.cpsc.gov/en/
[3]http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Statutes/
[4]http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/
[5]http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/choking-hazard-safety
[6]http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/burns.html

October 22, 2014

What if my child is injured by a defective product?

defective toysWhen a company sells a product, it has a duty to make sure the product is reasonably safe for the intended use by consumers. This is particularly true for toys and other products meant for children, as children often may not have the knowledge or awareness to recognize risks of injury before it occurs. However, mistakes happen and sometimes products that may be hazardous make into onto store shelves. When parents purchase such products, they may put their child at risk without even knowing. Moreover, parents usually do not recognize product defects or risks until it is too late and their child has already suffered injury. If your child has been injured by an unsafe product, you may face medical bills and your child’s pain and suffering. You should contact a Philadelphia personal injury attorney as soon as possible to help you recover for all of your injury-related losses.

In order to recover for an injury caused by a dangerous product, you must show that the company was negligent in some way. There are different ways that a company may be negligent in putting an unsafe product out for sale. Some of the possible ways include:

  • Design flaws: This means a flaw usually existed from the initial design process and that the product would be defective no matter how carefully it was manufactured.
  • Manufacture flaws: This means that a product was designed correctly, but a particular batch was put together incorrectly, usually due to poor quality materials or careless staff.
  • Improper warnings: In this type of case, a company knows a product may be dangerous, but fails to warn the consumer. For example, if a material used to make pajamas may be flammable in some situations, a clear warning label must exist or the company must fix the danger.
  • Improper age marketing: This includes labeling a product as appropriate for children younger than it truly is. This is very important for products meant for children, as young children may often choke or otherwise injure themselves with toys meant for older kids.

 

September 15, 2014

How do Consumers Stay Aware of Harmful Products?

consumer product recallAmericans purchase and use countless products every day. From motor vehicles to toys to home décor items, products play a huge role in our lives. However, with product use also comes the risk of accidents and injuries, which often occur due to negligence on the part of a manufacturing company. A product may be defectively designed, defectively assembled, or may come without adequate warnings of possible injury risks. Injuries caused by defective products may range from a simple scratch to life-threatening brain damage, burns, or spinal cord injuries. If you or your child has been injured by a defective product, an experienced Philadelphia products liability lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve from the manufacturer.

Product Recalls

In order to try to prevent injuries caused by dangerous or defective products, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates reports of product-related injuries and recommends product recalls. When a company issues a product recall, consumers who have purchased that product may return the defective or dangerous item and usually may exchange it for a safe item at no cost. Though such recalls may be costly for companies, they avoid injuries and related products liability lawsuits. However, not every company decides to issue a recall after reports of possible defects or risk of injury. If a company fails to issue a recall recommended by the CPSC, it may face civil penalties and fines.

The CPSC publishes a regularly updated list of product recalls on its website, and consumers can check the list to see if they own any defective or dangerous products. Some products currently on recall include such diverse products as solar panels, baby dolls, and off-highway utility vehicles, and bunk beds.

 

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