You should not have to analyze a product’s potential for causing injury before you buy or use it. That is the manufacturer’s responsibility. A manufacturer must consider its product’s risks before placing it on the market.
When consumers report product-related injuries, companies must take actions that ensure consumer safety. In our information-rich world, manufacturers, designers, and distributors recognize the most common examples of defective products. Their defense attorneys understand the legal issues.
Unfortunately, manufacturers often leave injured consumers blowing in the wind. When a defective product injures you, you need a product liability lawyer who will compel them to take responsibility for their actions.
When you sustain a product-related injury, manufacturers rarely take your case seriously unless you force the issue. Whether you deal with a self-insured manufacturer, a liability insurer, or a defense attorney, their claim decisions often favor corporate profits over consumer safety.
When a defective product injures you, corporate denial helps keep the claim process convoluted and legally complex. That does not mean you should simply walk away. When a product liability lawyer represents you, they work hard to get the justice you deserve.
What Makes a Product Defective?
Designers, manufacturers, and distributors sell products to produce income, but they do not have the authority to do whatever they please. They must comply with established standards, regulations, and laws.
Regulatory agencies and industrial organizations set policies that standardize product functionality and support consumer safety. State and federal legislators pass laws that give consumers legal recourse when they sustain product-related injuries. In most cases, manufacturers do not intentionally disregard these guidelines. Product defects still occur, and injuries happen anyway.
Agencies Regulate Manufacturers; Organizations Establish Manufacturing Standards
Manufacturers market numerous products each year. In producing these items, they must meet uniform design and safety standards and comply with regulations. These and other agencies and organizations provide manufacturing guidelines.
Government agencies issue product regulations.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Industry organizations set manufacturing standards
- National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST)
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- Other industry-specific agencies
Each year, designers and manufacturers seek patents for innovative products and create upgraded versions of existing products. Some companies import unique products from other countries and market them to American consumers. As standards and regulations cannot anticipate every common example of defective products, they serve as a measure of product integrity. Agency regulations allow potential enforcement actions against manufacturers and product importers. They do not determine a manufacturer’s liability for your injuries or help you recover damages.
Product Liability Laws Establish Legal Responsibility and Damages
Product liability laws further define a manufacturer's legal duties and responsibilities. They set the standards of proof an injured person must meet when proving that a product was defective and caused their injuries. The laws also determine what damages an injured person can recover.
Product liability statutes vary from state to state, but they mirror federal laws in many respects.
In most jurisdictions, attorneys, courts, judges, and insurers assess product liability based on:
- Design Defect: A product design incorporates a defect with the potential for causing injuries.
- Manufacturing Defect: The manufacturing process generates a potential defect.
- Labeling/Marketing Defect: The product includes defective or ambiguous wording in its labeling, packaging, instructions, and promotional materials.
- Missing or Inadequate Warning: The manufacturer recognizes that its product is inherently dangerous but does not adequately warn potential users.
- Warranty of Merchantability and Fitness: In selling its product, a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer offers an express or implied warranty that it is safe and fit for its intended use. A manufacturer, distributor, or retailer has few defenses to this strict liability standard.
Who Enforces Product Safety?
Even if you suspect a product has injured you, confirming your beliefs often requires effort. Until someone forces a manufacturer into action, they rarely notify the public that their defective products have caused their injuries. By the time you see a news blurb about a product recall or a TV ad recommending legal action, in most instances, the products in question have already caused multiple injuries, sicknesses, or fatalities.
As a consumer, when a product injures you, you have legal rights and may be able to recover damages. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not usually respond to a lone consumer’s inquiry.
Consumer Enforcement Agencies
As an injured consumer, you have several information sources about product defects. These and other watchdog agencies maintain websites that provide essential information. While the agencies involved will not help you file a claim or lawsuit, their information can help determine if other consumers have had similar problems.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
This government agency documents and publishes consumer product information, updates, and recalls. Their onsite search function shows information about past, current, and pending product issues. When a product defect causes concern, the CPSC recommends that manufacturers take action. If a product continues its pattern of consumer harm, the CPSC issues product alerts and enforces recalls.
CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System captures data from emergency departments nationwide. The data assists them in estimating national consumer product injury statistics. CPSC publishes this data in its annual NEISS Data Highlights report.
Food and Drug Administration
As the name suggests, this government agency regulates and monitors food and drugs sold in the U.S. They also regulate and monitor:
- Medical Devices
- Radiation-Emitting devices
- Vaccines, Blood, and Biologics
- Animal and Veterinary Products
- Tobacco Products
The FDA issues and enforces regulations that protect consumers. Its Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts page lists products that have generated concern.
U.S Department of Transportation
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s FMCSA and NHTSA divisions actively promote vehicle safety. They regulate vehicle manufacturing, vehicle safety, equipment specifications, roadway safety, commercial trucking company standards, commercial trucker licensing driving requirements, and other safety concerns. The NHTSA primarily addresses personal vehicle consumer issues. The FMCSA deals with commercial matters.
The NHTSA reviews and analyzes nationwide law enforcement accident reports. They accept product defect reports from consumers and address them directly with vehicle and equipment manufacturers. When necessary, The NHTSA issues consumer alerts and mandates manufacturer product recalls if a company will not do it voluntarily. They publish traffic and accident statistics for consumer review. Consumers access recall information on the Safety Issues & Recalls page.
Product Liability Lawyers
Agencies protect all consumers, but your product liability lawyer protects you. If you sustain injuries due to common examples of defective products, lawyers enforce your legal rights—both informally and in the civil court system.
When you consult with an attorney, they investigate and evaluate your injuries and deal directly with manufacturers and their representatives. Attorneys can access multiple resources with information about past, current, and pending product cases. They receive early notifications through legal journals, court records, and other legal research tools. When a manufacturer does not cooperate, your lawyer helps you decide your legal options.
The Most Common Examples of Defective Products
If you sustained a product-related injured, you are not alone. Defective products harm children, men, and women everyday. Even if you think you are dealing with an isolated incident, other people have likely dealt with the same issue. Government agencies and other legal resources provide insight into new, pending, and resolved product issues. Product defect data documents common examples of defective product categories and recurring trends.
Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical Products
LexisNexis Legal data affiliate Lex Machina produces an annual report that addresses product liability trends. They analyze recent court cases filed for defective product victims. A recent report shows medical-related litigation as more common than other product liability cases. The report provides a litigation trend analysis only. Other resources offer manufacturer names and the specific drugs and products involved.
You should also note that many injured product liability victims never file lawsuits.
- Zantac: The indigestion product also known as ranitidine, is the focus of numerous claims and lawsuits. After two prior recalls, the FDA ultimately ordered the manufacturer to ensure that all retailers removed all (over-the-counter) ranitidine products from their shelves. Testing determined that tablets contained N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) possibly generated during the manufacturing process. Medical authorities have identified NDMA as a carcinogen.
- Talcum Powder: Courts handle these high-profile cases as medical product injuries. Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers knew their talcum powder products contained asbestos, but they never informed consumers. Numerous women who used talcum powder for personal care developed ovarian cancer. Some studies show that talcum also causes mesothelioma.
- Laparoscopic Power Morcellators: Gynecologists and surgeons use these devices during laparoscopic hysterectomies. Morcellators break up uterine tissue for easy removal through a small incision. Some patients have alleged that the morcellation process broke up malignant tissues, spreading cancer throughout their bodies. The FDA issued labeling guidance. Some hospitals banned the device. Johnson & Johnson, one of the device manufacturers, issued a voluntary recall.
- Other Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices: Litigation records document common product liability cases involving several additional drugs and medical devices. Devices include Phillips CPAP, Hernia Mesh post-surgical devices, hip replacement devices, and others. Current drug cases include Elmiron, Belviq, Singulair, and others.
Vehicles and Equipment
The NHTSA consumer database lets consumers input their vehicle identification numbers so they can check for safety issues. The site provides information about these and other recalls.
- Takata Airbags: The NHTSA designated this ongoing vehicle problem as one of the largest, most complex recalls in history. To date, it includes at least 67 million vehicles. Under certain hot and humid conditions, the airbags explode. Some release metal pieces that hurt passengers and sometimes cause fatal injuries.
- Ford SUVs Power Train: In June 2022, the NHTSA issued a safety recall involving 2.9 million Ford vehicles. The involved SUVs have potentially defective gear shifting devices. As the recall explains, the bushings that attach the shifter to the transmission "may degrade or detach." At present, only a few affected owners have reported injuries or property damage.
As a consumer, you expect high safety standards, especially from manufacturers who create products for babies and children. Unfortunately, defects still occur, affecting the most vulnerable among us. The CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System projects injury incidents for these child product categories.
NEISS bases its data estimates on nationwide emergency room treatment reports.
- Nursery Equipment: 82,658 injuries
- Toys: 170,392 injuries
- Skateboards and Hoverboards: 245,177 injuries
- Playground Equipment: 178,043 injuries
The two following product liability cases will likely be around for a long time.
They demonstrate how families suffer when manufacturers produce and market defective products.
- Baby Formula: The FDA became involved in this case in February 2022. Doctors anticipated a formula problem after several emergency facilities diagnosed babies with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The mothers had fed the victims a Similac formula created explicitly for premature babies. Similac, an Abbott company, issued a cautionary partial formula recall while simultaneously denying any problems. After the FDA documented more sicknesses and two fatalities, the manufacturer recalled all formula produced at their Sturgis, Michigan facility. An inspection eventually uncovered an Enterobacter sakazakii contamination at the plant. This opportunistic bacterium causes NEC and other conditions. Enfamil also recalled its baby formula.
- Fisher-Price Rock N’ Play: After receiving injury and fatality reports, the CPSC issued a safety alert on April 5, 2019. On April 12, 2019, the manufacturer recalled the seats. Since then, numerous families have reported injuries or fatalities involving this line of products. Newborns succumb to asphyxiation while sleeping unrestrained in the seat. This occurs when they roll from their backs to their stomachs. They cannot breathe but are too young to free themselves or roll back over. Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel, has issued multiple recalls in the U.S. and Canada. Recalls include its Rock N’ Play, Rock N’ Glide, and other products.
A Product Liability Lawyer Protects Your Legal Interests
Every day, common examples of defective products cause or contribute to fires, accidents, and other unexpected casualties. They cause severe property damage, mild to catastrophic injuries, and fatalities. Sadly, injured victims and their families do not always take the steps necessary to obtain the settlement they deserve.
This occurs for several reasons.
- Injured people do not always recognize the connection between a product defect and their injuries.
- Manufacturers do not always respond when a consumer reports that a defective product caused their injuries.
- Regardless of a claim’s validity, manufacturers often deny responsibility for injuries.
- Product cases involve complex legal issues. Proving liability is often time-consuming and requires expert evidence.
Despite common product liability obstacles, lawyers present your claim to the responsible parties. They take steps to determine liability and negligence, protect your legal rights and seek damages on your behalf.
Contact a Product Liability Attorney
Product liability claims are far too complicated to handle without a legal representative working on your behalf. A product liability attorney protects your rights and works to resolve your case. When you schedule a legal consultation, you have an opportunity to discuss your product-related injuries and learn more about your legal options. Contact us to reach out to a personal injury lawyer and get your consultation.