Product Liability Lawyers
Lake Charles Defective Product Attorneys
As consumers, we expect to be able to trust the safety of the items we use on a daily basis, yet product liability lawsuits continue rising as defective or dangerous products injure and even kill. Medical devices cause serious medical issues once implanted in the body, prescription drugs cause worse health issues than those they were intended to help, seat belts fail, airbags fail to deploy—or deploy in a dangerous manner—power tools malfunction, baby products cause harm and ladders collapse.
When products fail to work in the manner they were expected to work, whether due to a design defect or a manufacturing defect, consumers need assistance. Product liability laws protect consumers from defective or dangerous products, and a product liability lawyer from Hoffoss Devall can ensure your rights are properly protected after an injury from a product. Our attorneys work within their legal areas to aid clients in collecting equitable compensation from those responsible for the injury. Product liability lawsuits also force manufacturers to address dangerous or defective products, instigating repairs or recalls as necessary.
Are Some Products Inherently Unsafe?
There are certain products which are unavoidably unsafe, such as knives, power tools and chainsaws. Despite this, the manufacturer of such a product is required to properly warn consumers about the potential dangers and risks, allowing the consumer to make an informed decision about the use of the product. In other words, a chainsaw, by its very nature, is dangerous and must include clear instructions on how to properly use the chainsaw, how to avoid misusing the chainsaw, and the dangers associated with misuse of the chainsaw. However, if the chainsaw has a safety brake installed to stop the chain from rotating, and the brake failed to work as designed, the chains itself could be considered to have a defective design, or the one chainsaw could have been defectively manufactured.
Product Liability Claims Have the Highest Settlement Amounts
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2016 product liability settlements were higher than any other type of settlement, followed by: medical malpractice settlements, business negligence settlements, personal negligence settlements, vehicle liability settlements and premises liability settlements. In fact, the average product liability settlement was about $3,762,000 dollars.
Examples of Defective Products
Examples of defective products which result in a product liability claim include:
- Any item which contains asbestos;
- Injuries caused by faulty tools or machinery;
- Baby product defects which cause infant injuries;
- Defective automobile parts;
- Defective or dangerous medical devices;
- Dangerous drugs;
- Children’s sleep apparel which is not fire-resistant;
- Unreasonably dangerous cleaning products or household chemicals;
Automobile recalls tend to happen with alarming frequency, as evidenced by the recent recall of thousands of Takata airbags and, in recent years, dangerous drugs and medical devices make up a significant portion of product liability claims. There are three basic types of defect in a product:
- A manufacturing defect occurs when the product is being assembled or manufactured and is the most obvious type of product liability claim. A defectively manufactured product is different from others on the shelf, meaning an error was made during assembly or manufacture. As an example, a ladder whose bracing was improperly attached would be due to a manufacturing defect—all the other ladders were properly assembled, but that one was not, therefore caused an injury.
- A marketing defect is a problem in the way a product is marketed, such as inadequate safety warnings, improper labeling, or insufficient instructions to the consumer. When an injury occurs, a failure-to-warn claim may be instigated, because the product was dangerous in a manner that was not apparent to the user. An example of a failure-to-warn claim could include an over-the-counter drug whose labeling failed to warn of potential side effects when taken with another drug, which could be dangerous or even deadly.
- Design defects are present even before the manufacture of the product when a defect in the design of the product renders it inherently dangerous. An example of a design defect would be the DePuy ARS metal hip, because its design made it dangerous to consumers, causing a myriad of injuries. Another design defect example would be a heating pad which could cause severe burns when the “high” setting was used.
As a method of comparing the different types of product liability claims, consider the following: You purchase an over-the-counter NSAID at your drug store, take the drug and become extremely ill. If it is later found that the specific bottle of NSAIDs you bought happened to be contaminated with a dangerous material, which accidentally fell into that one single bottle as the pills were in the bottling process, then you would have a manufacturing defect claim.
If the drug was generally considered to be safe, but you combined it with another drug and fell gravely ill, you would have a marketing defect claim (if the labeling did not warn patients of dangerous drug interactions). Finally, if you had a heart attack after taking the NSAID and it was found there was a substance in the drug which could lead to a heart attack, then your claim would be for a design defect—the drug was inherently dangerous.
Injuries Most Commonly Seen in Product Liability Claims
While your injuries are unique, there are some “typical” injuries seen in product liability claims. A vehicle with defective airbags or seat belts could lead to traumatic brain injuries when the driver or passengers’ heads hit the glass windshield during a collision. A malfunctioning electric blanket or heating pad or a flammable mattress could result in moderate to severe burns. A defectively designed or manufactured child’s toy could cause a child to choke, could have pointed edges which resulted in punctures or lacerations, could be prone to overheat, which could cause burns, or could be extremely loud, which could cause hearing loss. A defective tire could cause a blowout at a high rate of speed, leading to a collision, and resulting in severe injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Who is Liable for Injuries Caused by a Consumer Product?
There are several entities that could be held liable for injuries received from a product. If the design of the product was responsible for the injury, then the designer could be held liable. If a specific part of a product—or the entire product—is found to have a manufacturing flaw, then the manufacturer could be held liable. If an installer or assembler improperly assembled or installed apart on a product and injuries resulted, then the liability could lie with the assembler or installer. Finally, the wholesaler or retailer could be held liable for injuries caused by a dangerous or defective product.
The sale of the dangerous or defective product must occur in a “normal” manner, through regular channels. This protects those who re-sell items (in a thrift store or garage sale, for example), Finally, if a product is altered in any way by the user, then a product liability claim may not be valid. As an example, if you buy a gun then remove the safety on the firearm, if the gun accidentally discharges and causes injury, the manufacturer or seller is not responsible.
Why Legal Representation from Hoffoss Devall is Essential in a Product Liability Case
If you have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, it is important to remember that there is a very limited amount of time in which to file a product liability claim. This is known as the statutes of limitations, and should you exceed the time limit, you could be left injured and unable to collect compensation for your injuries. In the state of Louisiana, the product liability statutes of limitations are one year from the date of the injury. That being said, under the discovery rule in the state, the clock does not begin until the time you know—or should have known—about your injury and its connection to the defective product.
Louisiana law also limits damages in some product liability claims—under the state’s pure comparative negligence rule, if you were at least partially to blame for the accident which led to your injuries, you can still recover damages, but the damages you receive will be reduced in direct proportion to your level of fault. Louisiana product liability claims can be extremely complex, due to the fact there may be more than one defendant who was aware of the risks of the product.
Having a highly experienced Hoffoss Devall product liability injury attorney in your corner can truly make the difference in the outcome of your claim. We never shy away from going up against a large manufacturer in order to obtain justice for your injury. We will also never rush into a settlement—we want to be sure you are fully compensated for your injuries, and that if your injuries will lead to expenses in the future, those will be covered as well.
The Hoffoss Devall product liability attorneys will work hard to present a compelling case on your behalf, recouping your losses from the injuries caused by a dangerous or defective product. Contact the Hoffoss Devall product liability attorneys online today for a free consultation or call us at (337) 433-2053.