What is Product Liability?
When we make a purchase, we do so in the hopes that the product we are paying for will live up to its expectations. There’s a certain amount of trust between a buyer and a seller built upon the functionality of the product. Every store has its own refund and/or exchange policy in place to make amends in case of a disappointed customer. Sometimes clothes do not fit right, or the books are the wrong edition. In either of these cases, most stores have a way to help the consumer out. But, the customer is not in any danger when it comes to one of these mistakes. When a product malfunctions or is not up to code, it can have dire consequences on the person who made the purchase. A faulty toy can pose a choking hazard for a small child, and faulty airbags can deploy and eject shrapnel out into a car if there is an accident. When this happens, does the customer have any way of seeking damages after the purchase was made?
Sometimes, the item will have a warranty. Most cars or other major purchases have a system where the company that created the product will replace or fix certain issues within a given window of time. Depending on the issue, though, the company is obligated to fix the problem regardless of when it occurred. If enough issues arise, the product may be recalled and the customer can receive a refund for the product. Unfortunately, a lot of these recalls happen when it’s too late.
Defective products do a lot more than cause an inconvenience. In fact, inconvenience is sort of the best-case scenario when a product malfunctions. Other times, faulty products lead to injuries, or worse, death. If death or injury does occur, one may sue on behalf of themselves or their loved one. Some products come with inherent dangers. No one is going to argue that a knife can cut someone. But, if the knife has a shoddy handle or is designed in such a way that one is has a higher risk of getting cut, the manufacturer is liable for any damages that occur. As long as the consumer was using the product for its intended purpose, they are potentially the victim of a product defect.
Many companies attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility by warning the general population of obvious dangers. The real danger occurs when they choose not to warn about dangers that are not quite as obvious to the consumer. A failure-to-warn can create massive problems for an unsuspecting population. Hammack Law Firm is an example of a firm that defends consumers against faulty products. When a product does cause grievous injury to a consumer that the consumer did not receive an adequate warning for, law firms can sue on behalf of the consumer to seek damages for medical expenses and other lost wages.