At Lawyer Legion we created a directory of attorneys for product liability cases. You can search for personal injury attorneys focused on product liability law using our directory. Search by state, city, or zip code. Find profiles for different attorneys in a particular city or state. The profiles have information on the attorney's membership and leadership in legal organizations related to personal injury, speaking engagements at quality CLE seminars, and participation in specialty certification programs.
As a result of great advances in transportation and the ever growing expanse of commercial markets, manufactured goods are being shipped and delivered to every corner of our nation and beyond. Manufacturing is a process which means many things. Manufacture can include assembling components from another country, forging or creating parts domestically and straight-forward domestic manufacturing of complete consumer products.
Each year thousands of consumers are injured from the use of products which are purchased at the local stores, malls and even from on-line retailers. The type of products involved in product liability lawsuits can include simple consumer goods such as household cleaners, electronics, yard tools all the way up to and including automobiles and recreational vehicles. Product liability cases can also involve the food industry.
When a manufacturer places an item into the stream of distribution or commerce, the item is presumed to be in proper working order and to be free from defects which could cause a risk of harm during the proper and expected usage of the product. Different type of defects can include latent and patent defects.
Defects can be obvious or it can be hidden in the product. Patent defects are defined as products with flaws and defects that are obvious. If a consumer purchases a product with a patent defect, the product is returned to the seller or manufacturer for a refund or replacement. A patent defect is defined as a defect which is discoverable upon a reasonable inspection of the product.
A latent defect is defined as one which is not visible or apparent by a simple, visual inspection of the product. An example would be a product that heated up after extended usage which could cause a burn or start a fire. Many latent defects are not discoverable until the product is placed into use by the purchaser.
Products liability is based on several different legal concepts. When a product is sold in commerce, the manufacturer and the seller of the product make certain warranties. A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer or seller or both regarding the product’s promised performance. A written warranty which comes with the product is known as an express warranty can be governed by state law or various federal laws dealing with consumer products.
An express warranty affirmatively tells the consumer that the item will perform to a certain level or standard and that if a product failure occurs, a refund or repair may be made. The warranties which operate with products liability are express warranties and other warranties which exist as a matter of law. The primary implied warranty is that the product is free from latent defects and will operate as represented without any unreasonable risk of harm to the consumer or those who come in contact with the product.
Some products are dangerous even when they are used for their intended purpose. A chainsaw can cause serious personal injury or death because of a single accident by the consumer. The manufacturer of the chainsaw is not a guarantor that no accidents will occur. When the product can cause harm even when it is used in a prudent manner and no defects exist, manufacturers provide warnings to help prevent against accidents and injury. When there is a foreseeable risk of harm to the purchaser, even during the normal and intended use of the product, product’s liability law requires that proper warning be given.
Warnings can provide valuable information to help the user to avoid making certain mistakes while using a dangerous product. Manufacturers are under a legal duty to warn consumers and other foreseeable users of the product of any dangers or risks associated with the proper and expected usage of the product.
If a consumer is injured from a product because the manufacturer failed to give adequate warning, the manufacturer may be liable for damages. Complete and effective warnings generally improve safety. Many product liability claims are based on missing or inadequate warnings. Warnings alone do not insulate a manufacturer for liability for damages.
The law of products liability requires the product functioned as it was designed to but the product design was negligent. The duty which exists is that a prudent and reasonable manufacturer knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that the product could cause injury or death.
A manufacturer has a duty to design their products such that it does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the foreseeable consumer under normal and ordinary usage. Products are required to be designed with safety in mind. If a design decision was made which would make it foreseeable that a personal injury could occur from normal usage, the product was defectively designed.
Design defects exist in the planning stages of a product, before it is even released to the market. All of the products share the same defect. There are manufacturing defects where only a few out of a manufacturing lot or run are defective. There is also a usage defect where the manufacturer promotes a certain usage, fails to adequately warn or provides inadequate directions for the product which can lead to foreseeable harm.
The law of products liability is related to the law of negligence. Manufacturers have a duty to produce a reasonably safe product, when that duty is breached and injury or death occurs because of that breach, a damage claim for products liability exists. In the law of negligence, the injured party may have failed to act reasonably and as a result of some action or omission, commits comparative negligence. When this happens, the recovery of damages by a jury is reduced by the percentage of fault of the injured party.
Products liability utilizes the concept of a strict liability. Strict liability imposes liability on the manufacturer without considering any fault by the injured party provided the product was used in the intended manner. The consumer can recover for injuries provided that they used the product as the product was intended to be used by the manufacturer.
No comparative negligence duty exists in for strict liability on the part of the consumer. Strict liability makes it easier for an injured consumer to impose liability on the manufacturer of a product that is being used as it was intended and advertised by the manufacturer.
The law of products liability is a combination of both state and federal law. Common law is law which the courts have developed over the years. Various states have enacted products liability laws or statutes which codify the law of products liability. Many states have adopted versions of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) as they relate to products liability and injuries from the use of those products.
The United States Department of Commerce has drafted and designed the Model Uniform Products Liability Act (MUPLA) which the states are free to use at their legislative discretion as a model regulatory structure for products liability.
Because products are marketed and sold in record numbers, a defective product can cause great injury to thousands of people in many different states, products liability cases are often the subject of Class Actions or are handled in the federal court system under the Multi District Litigation (MDL) rules.
Lawyers who focus on representing parties who are injured from products are civil trial law attorneys or personal injury lawyers. None of the states have a specialty certification program for product liability, but many states have certification programs for the boarder subject of civil trial law or a similar fields such as personal injury or medical malpractice.
To qualify for this certification, applicants must have dedicated a certain percentage of their practice to civil trial law, had a certain number of jury trials involving negligence or accident claims and taken and passed an exam. In many states, peer review and professional references are required.
The skills typically utilized by a lawyer who focus on products liability claims are civil procedure, the rules of evidence, insurance law, contract law, mediation. Because the claim is based on some aspect of the product’s manufacture, many products liability lawyers are familiar with various aspects of engineering and product design. Civil trial lawyers must have strong negotiating skills. Civil trial lawyers appear before judges in state and federal courts, administrative boards and arbitrators.
The purpose of the state bar standards in establishing certifications in specialties such as civil trial law is to educate the public that certain lawyers have demonstrated an advanced proficiency and have special knowledge, skill, character, ethics and professionalism to be ‘certified’. Certification is a badge of honor and those who hold and maintain such a certifications can advertise and hold themselves out to the public as having such certification in their certified specialty.
At Lawyer Legion we created our directory of personal injury lawyers to help the public find a qualified attorney in a variety of practice areas including product liability law. We organize attorneys according to the focus of their practice, their membership and leadership in organizations related to personal injury law, and other objective factors.
Use our online attorney directory to find product liability law attorneys throughout the United States.
This article was last updated on Thursday, June 11, 2015.