Tools, medical devices, automobiles, toys, and even medications can be defective and dangerous. Virtually any product may be the basis for a product liability claim.
When a manufacturer has cut corners and put defective products into the marketplace or fails to put appropriate warning labels on a product and someone gets hurt, then they can and should be held accountable. It is part of doing business and makes us all safer.
Product liability claims require a thorough investigation of the product and what caused the defect. A determination about which party in the manufacturing chain is responsible for your or your loved one’s injuries must be made. Depending on the nature of the defect, various parties could be held responsible under product liability law, including the manufacturer, parts manufacturer, assembling manufacturer, packaging company, wholesaler or retailer.
It’s critical that you act immediately and hire an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible after an accident resulting from a defective product to protect your legal rights. At Sheff & Cook, we have been helping victims of products liability cases for over six decades. We recognize that an injury from a defective product can be devastating for victims and their families. Our lawyers have the resources and experience to investigate your case, help you recover from your injuries, and get you the maximum compensation possible.
If you or a loved one has suffered a life-altering injury because of a defective product, contact our team to discuss your options.
Types of Product Liability Cases
There are different types of theories under which product liability lawsuits may be brought:
- A negligence product liability claim requires proof that the defective product was made defective as a result of negligence on the part of one of the parties in the manufacturing/design chain.
- A strict liability claim shows that your or your loved one’s injuries are the result of a defective product. A strict liability claim does not have to establish negligence; rather, it simply establishes that the product was defective and that the defect was a substantial factor in producing the injury.
If you or a loved one is injured by a product, you may be able to file a breach of warranty lawsuit. Although many breach of warranty lawsuits are filed when there is either a written or expressed warranty, the law also recognizes certain implied warranties.
How Does a Product Become Defective?
Products that you use every day can cause injury or death because of a defective design, a manufacturing flaw, or because the manufacturer failed to warn you about certain product restrictions or other important information necessary to use the product safely.
- Design – To prove a design defect case, an injured party must show that an alternative design existed at the time which was safer and at least as economically feasible as the original design. In addition, the new proposed product must retain the same measure of usefulness as was intended by the original design before changes were made.
- Manufacturing – This usually occurs when there are flaws in a particular batch of products. It is often difficult to distinguish between a design defect and a manufacturing defect and that is where having an experienced and skilled products liability lawyer becomes extremely important.
- Labeling – A product manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, or marketer must label their products adequately to warn consumers of any dangers that the product may pose. Failure to warn adequately is essentially the same as not warning at all.
Famous Product Liability Cases
Many business practices and warning labels on commonly used products are there because an injured consumer brought a suit against the manufacturer to make sure that others didn’t suffer the same fate. You might be familiar with these well-known product liability cases that resulted in substantial changes by large corporations:
- One of the most infamous design defect cases in recent history involved the Ford Pinto. In 1972, a Ford Pinto exploded when it was struck from behind. Six years later, a similar accident occurred. Eventually, during lawsuits brought on behalf of the dead or severely injured victims, the parties found out that Ford not only knew that its gas tank design was defective and that the design flaw would result in many deaths, but it also knew that the problem could be fixed for $11 per car. Ford chose not to fix the problem, deciding that the cost of fixing it was greater than what it would have to pay in lawsuits from the deaths, injuries, and car damages from exploding gas tanks. After many lawsuits, Ford had to fix the Pinto.
- In 1994, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s arguing that the company had a responsibility to warn her that her coffee was excessively hot and if spilled could cause severe burns. Although that case received enormous negative publicity that trivialized the case, Ms. Liebeck actually suffered severely disabling and disfiguring third-degree burns, had hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, and received very little in actual damages after the jury award was reduced. What the “hot coffee” lawsuit did do is force companies like McDonald’s to be more careful, to either heat their coffee to a temperature that is not dangerously hot or to warn its customers.
Sheff & Cook’s Approach
Sheff & Cook’s unique team approach to product liability cases distinguishes us from other personal injury lawyers near Boston. We leverage the courtroom experience, expert witnesses, and investigative expertise of multiple attorneys to ensure your case is documented, enhancing our ability to produce compelling evidentiary presentations. We employ a team of medical experts to determine the extent and ultimate cause of your injuries. We demonstrate the impact of visible and invisible injuries in the lives of our clients and develop lifetime care plans that enhance the value of settlements and courtroom awards. In every case we pursue, we reinforce our hard work to achieve compensation for injured consumers with advocacy for greater product safety and corporate accountability.