Hurt by a Defective Product
Dangerous and defective products injure thousands of people each year. A lawyer who specializes in product liability law can provide litigation support and file a product liability lawsuit to compensate you if you have been injured by a defective product. You have a right to purchase products that are safe for you to use.
Unfortunately occasionally product defects occur the most common reasons for product defects are:
- Design Defect - A company is responsible for determining that the design of their product is not dangerous. A product liability lawsuit can be filed if the design process used to produce a product contributed to that product being unusually dangerous. Unfortunately, if the design is dangerous, all products with that same design could be unsafe. A flaw may not be found until after the products have been purchased. Sometimes companies may recall the product, but if you purchased the product you might not be able to avoid injury. One of the most famous design flaw cases was the case of the Ford Pinto. In the early designs the company decided to put the gas tank in the rear even though there was a risk for injury for occupants involved in a rear-end collision. Ford was aware of the design flaw but allegedly refused to pay for the expense for the redesign. Ford decided instead to payoff the lawsuits for possible deaths. In one of the most famous product liability cases to date, Ford had to pay compensatory damages of $2.5 million and punitive damages of $3.5 million for their disregard of safety in favor of corporate profits.
- Manufacturing Defects - A product liability lawsuit might also be filed by a lawyer if the manufacturing of a product was defective. Unlike a design flaw, the design was not defective but the defect occurred during the construction, or production of the product. As a result, there may only be a few products with that flaw. If you are injured by a defective product you may not have to prove the product manufacturer was negligent. An expert liability lawyer can help determine if your injuries may be filed under strict liability laws.
- Inadequate Testing - People are injured every year by products that were not tested thoroughly enough. For instance, many drugs enter the market with out adequate testing. Have you been injured by a drug that was approved for consumption without adequate testing? Tests are always done, but were the test constructed well? Was there a rush to get the product to market? A product liability and defective product attorney can hire experts and collect the evidence necessary to file your personal injury case.
Product Liability and Personal Injuries
Most sellers and manufacturers do everything they can to produce and sell products which are safe, but occasionally products are made and sold which are poorly manufactured, fail to adequately warn of their dangers or have a defective product design. If these mistakes cause injury or death to consumers, consumers have the right to file a product liability claim.
Common product liability claims can include injury due to defective tires, air bags, seat belts, food products, construction equipment, medication, and baby products. Every year hundreds of defective products cause burns, lacerations, broken bones, back and neck injury, brain injury or death.back to top
Injured by a Recalled Product?
If you have been injured by a product that has been recalled, you may need the help of a product liability lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller. A product recall is issued by a seller or manufacturer of a product if safety issues are discovered with a product. The recall is often an attempt to not only eliminate potential corporate liability from the dangerous product, but also reduce negative publicity about the company. If the product is not recalled quickly enough there could be injuries from the product and the trust and good name of a company can be ruined.
There are several safety agencies which regulate the safety of products. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects against unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products. The Federal Drug Administration regulates food, medical devices, animal feed and drugs, cosmetics and drugs. Regulations have been established to determine how products are recalled. The regulations have established if the recall is voluntary or compulsory and the amount the manufacturer will reimburse. There are also laws and fines applied to consumers who fail to return defective products to the seller for a replacement or a refund.
A company will use several methods to announce a product recall. These methods could include mailings, newspaper articles, news reports, and website postings. Product recalls are not always easy to find out about. Unfortunately, some companies might not widely publicize a product recall in an effort to limit costs.back to top
Your Rights under Defective Product Law
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the sale of 15,000 types of consumer products. Their main objective is to prevent these products from causing injury or death. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates damages from injuries and property cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has established recall regulations for a manufacturer or seller of products that are found to be defective.
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Get Help From a Defective Product Attorney Today
If you have been injured by a defective product, a product liability attorney can help you determine if you have a personal injury case. A product can be defective in the design phase, or in the testing phase of production. The product might also be a recalled product. A lawyer specializing in defective product injury law can help gather evidence, hire product experts and provide expert legal advice for you. If you believe that you have a case for personal injury due to a defective product, Please fill out the Free Evaluation and an expert defective product lawyer will evaluate your case.
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Famous Product Liability Cases
McDonalds Coffee Case
This is probably the most famous product liability case. Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson's car when she was severely burned by McDonalds' coffee in February 1992.
Liebeck was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body. This included her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks and genital and groin area.
- Liebeck also underwent debridement treatments
- Liebeck sought to settle her claim for $20,000, McDonalds refused
- More than 700 claims by people burned with McDonalds' coffee between 1982 and 1992
- McDonalds held its coffee between 180 and 190 degrees
- Coffee served at home is generally between 135 and 140 degrees
- Burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above
- Liebeck was awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages that was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck to be 20 percent at fault in the spill
- The jury awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which the trial court reduced to $480,000
- No one will ever know the final ending of the case because the parties eventually entered into a secret settlement that has never been revealed to the public.
The Ford Pinto Cases
In the early 1970's, Ford Motor Company with Lee Iacocca as its president, introduced a new line of cars called the Ford Pinto. The Ford Pinto was to weigh less than 2,000 pounds and cost less than $2,000.
It became apparent that the Ford Pinto had a dangerous design flaw during crash tests that were done before the Ford Pinto was sold to the public. The gas tank of the Ford Pinto was located and designed where when it was involved in a rear end collision at an impact speed of 20mph or higher, the tank was likely to rupture, which would cause a fire or explosion.
- Changes to repair the defects would have cost around $11 per car
- A confidential company policy memo in late 1971 directed no additional safety features be adopted until required by law
- Benefits from spending the $11 per car were estimated to be $49.5 million
- Estimate was based on $200,000 for each death that would be avoided
- Estimate was based on $67,000 for each major burn injury that would b avoided
- Estimate was based on the repair cost of $700 per car being avoided in a rear end collision
- The cost of $11 per car to repair defects was calculated to be $137 million, which was far greater than the $49.5 million benefits from repairing defects
- Ford Motor Company, as a result of this cost-benefit analysis chose not to repair defects
- Should a risk/benefit analysis be used in situations where a defect in manufacturing or design may lead to death or serious bodily harm
Merck & Co. manufactured and marketed the drug Vioxx from 1999 to 2004. Vioxx was one of a class of drugs that are referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Vioxx was intended to reduce pain, stiffness and inflammation in people who had various forms of arthritis. Vioxx was also used for migraines and fevers.
The use of Vioxx may have led to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before it was pulled from the market in 2004. In 2011, Merck & Co. agreed to pay $950 million and plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge in order to resolve government allegations that the company promoted Vioxx illegally, and the company deceived the government in regard to the safety of the drug. This marked the settlement of a seven-year United States government investigation.
- In May 1999, the FDA approved the use of Vioxx as a painkiller
- Merck & Co. began almost immediately to market Vioxx as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
- Merck & Co. recorded more than $11 billion in the sale of Vioxx while it was on the market from 1999 to September 2004
- Over the 5 year period, around 20 million people took Vioxx worldwide
- Up to 38,000 people died from heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx
- A total of around 160,000 people were injured who took Vioxx
- In November 2007, Merck & Co. settled around 50,000 patient lawsuits for $4.85 billion
- The company won about two-thirds of the personal injury lawsuits that went to trial
- Merck & Co. has paid nearly $6 billion in litigation settlements, which does not include legal-defense costs and possible payments from pending litigation
- Merck & Co. has not acknowledged any liability or wrongdoing
The Exploding Coca-Cola Case
Gladys Escola was a waitress in a restaurant. As she was putting away glass bottles of Coca-Cola, one of the bottles spontaneously exploded in her hand. As a result, Escola suffered a deep five-inch cut. The cut severed the blood vessels, nerves and muscles of her thumb and the palm of her hand. The top portion of the bottle, with the cap, stayed in her hand, while the lower portion of the bottle fell to the floor but did not break.
At the personal injury trial, the broken bottle was not presented in evidence due to the fact that an employee of the restaurant had thrown the pieces of the bottle away shortly after the accident. However, Escola described the broken pieces, and a diagram of the bottle was made that showed the location of the "fracture line" where the bottle had broken in two.
- One of Coca-Cola's delivery drivers testified for the plaintiff
- The delivery driver said that he had seen other bottles of Coca-Cola explode in the past
- Escola was represented in the trial by legendary litigator Melvin Belli
- The jury found for the plaintiff, following the doctrine of "res ipsa loquitur" (Latin for "the thing itself speaks")
- The case was appealed to the California Supreme Court
- The case was decided on the basis of negligence
- Justice Roger Traynor argued that the case should be decided on a rule of strict liability that would be imposed on manufacturers whose products cause injury to consumers
- The case became a landmark case in the development of the common law of product liability in the United States
- The case is mandatory reading for first-year students at many American law schools
Sta-Rite's Defective Pool Drain Cover
On June 24, 1993, 5-year-old Valerie Lakey was playing in a wading pool at the Medfield Area Recreation Club in Wake County, North Carolina. The pool drain cover on the only suction outlet in the pool had been removed earlier by other children at the pool, after the swim club failed to install the cover properly. When Valerie approached the uncovered outlet, the suction was strong enough to pull her down and suck 80% of her small intestine and 50 to 70% of her large intestine out through her anus. Four adults were not able to free Valerie until the pool's pumps were turned off.
Valerie survived the accident. However, she has to spend 12 to 14 hours a day being fed by a tube in her chest that drips nutrients into her body. The expensive procedure will probably be necessary for the rest of Valerie's life. Valerie's parents sued the club, the county, the maker of the pool's circulation pump and Sta-Rite, who was the manufacturer of the missing drain cover. The first three defendants settled before trial for a total of $5.9 million. However, Sta-Rite, a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Energy Corporation, went to trial.
- John Edwards and his partner David Kirby represented the Lakeys
- Edwards discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drain covers
- Edwards spoke to the jury for an hour and a half in his closing arguments and referenced his son, Wade, who had been killed shortly before testimony began
- The jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages
- By North Carolina state law, punitive damages could have tripled the $25 million amount
- The Lakeys accepted the settlement in 1997
- Sta-Rite immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history
- The Lakeys gave up the potentially massive punitive damages that the jury could have awarded in exchange for Sta-Rite's waiving of appeals that could have lasted for years