When a person uses a product in a reasonable manner and that product causes injury, the manufacturer, wholesaler, or seller may be liable. Think of a hairdryer that emits a dangerous shock or a child’s toy that contains small, sharp pieces—consumers should be able to use these products as they are intended to be used without worrying about being hurt.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous product, consult with an experienced attorney from The Mellino Law Firm to discuss your options. We are available to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. With more than 30 years of experience, our Cleveland product liability lawyers are prepared to fight for justice and a fair recovery on your behalf.
HOW PRODUCTS CAN BE DEFECTIVE
There are three primary ways in which products can be defective; the type of defect a product has depends on various factors, most importantly the stage of production at which the defect was introduced.
The three main types of product defects include:
- Defective Design: A defective design means that the product is unreasonably unsafe when used as it is intended. A product with a design defect was not properly designed or tested for consumer safety.
- Defective Manufacturing: Defective manufacturing refers to defects that are introduced during the manufacturing phase. For example, if a batch of pharmaceutical drugs is contaminated during production, they have a manufacturing defect.
- Defective Marketing: If a product does not have adequate or proper safety warnings, labels, or instructions, it has a marketing defect. In other words, it was not properly marketed for safe use by consumers.
At The Mellino Law Firm, we carefully examine all of the factors relevant to your case. This allows us to determine what type of defect a product had and how that played a role in your injuries. It also helps us determine who is liable for your injuries and other losses.
TYPES OF PRODUCT LIABILITY CASES WE HANDLE
All types of products can be defective, and all types of products can cause harm, ranging from cars and motor vehicles to household products to medical devices to children’s toys. At The Mellino Law Firm, we assist clients who have been injured by a wide variety of products. As experienced medical malpractice attorneys, we focus our products liability practice on defective and dangerous medical devices and drugs.
Our firm has assisted clients with cases involving:
Products liability law allows consumers to seek compensation when a product harms them. Compensable injuries can result from several types of wrongdoing on the part of the manufacturer, wholesaler or seller, such as negligence; design defects; manufacturing defects; lack of proper warning or instructions; and unreasonably dangerous conditions of the product.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DEFECTIVE PRODUCT INJURIES
Q: Who is responsible when a product causes an injury?
A: Manufacturers, wholesalers, and sellers may all be responsible when a product injures someone. If the product is defective or presents an unreasonable danger, and the defect or danger causes the injury, the injured party may have a case. The defendants can be found liable under theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.
Q: What compensation or damages can be awarded in products liability cases?
A: Depending on the strength and the facts of the case, the plaintiff may recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be available if the defendant acted in a malicious or grossly negligent manner. The level of the award and its application depends on the state in which the litigation takes place.
Q: If the product that harmed me had a written warranty, how does that affect my case?
A: If the product’s warranty made representations about the performance or safety of the product, the product should have met these standards. If the manufacturer failed to meet its own standards for the product, that may help you show that the product had a design defect or manufacturing defect.
Q: What if I threw away the product that injured me before I called a lawyer?
A: Although it is better for your case if you keep the product (so that your lawyer or an expert can explore what kind of defects the product has), it may be possible to file a lawsuit. An experienced product liability attorney in Cleveland will be able to evaluate how strong your case remains without this type of evidence.
Q: What if I didn’t read the instructions for a product, and then I got hurt?
A: If the instructions were clear and appropriate, and you were hurt because you did not look at them, then the manufacturer probably has a defense against a legal action. But if you were hurt because of a design defect or manufacturing defect, then you may have a viable products liability case.
Q: If a recalled product injures me, do I still have a case?
A: The product recall should not negatively affect your case. Whether you can use the recall as evidence of the harmfulness of the product or of what the manufacturer knew depends on the state in which the litigation takes place. If the recall was issued after your injury, you probably can’t use it as evidence of negligence. Sometimes, a recall is inadmissible in court; sometimes, it may be used to establish that there was a defect.
Q: What if I modified a product and it injured me after that?
A: Alteration of a product by the user or another party can change the outcome of a personal injury case. If you modified the product enough so that the alteration contributed to the injury, it could reduce or eliminate your recovery. If the modification had no effect on the injury, then it may not harm your case.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED
After seeking medical treatment, you can take steps to strengthen your case. Do not throw away the product that hurt you if it is safe to keep it. This will preserve important evidence about what went wrong and what kind of defect the product had. If an investigator for an insurance company or the manufacturer asks you to hand over the product, consult with an attorney first. If the product that harmed you was a car, notify anyone who tows it or otherwise comes into contact with it not to destroy or alter it.
Take note of when and where you bought the product. If the product came with instructions or a warning, did you read it? Make note of how the accident occurred and how you were using the product at the time.
When you meet with a products liability attorney, the attorney will want to hear the story of how you were injured. Tell your attorney the details you remember without embellishing. This allows your attorney to accurately evaluate the strengths of your case.
Your attorney may also ask you about the life of the product—if it was new when you bought it, if you altered it in any way, and if it was in your possession the whole time you owned it.
Successful products liability cases often require expert witnesses to examine the evidence and explain its meaning. Expert witnesses can clarify to the jury or the judge the problem that made the product defective or unreasonably dangerous. Expert witnesses typically have backgrounds in areas such as engineering, safety issues, medicine, and design. Qualified experts can be key to the success of your case, depending on its complexity and level of detail.
WHAT IS THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), under authority granted by the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), is a governmental agency that protects consumers from the risks of injury or death caused by products. Not all products, however, are within the scope of the agency. Tobacco, medical devices, and food, for instance, are not covered by the agency; items such as furniture, clothing, toys, and tools are.
The CPSC publicizes recalls of products including those that contain excessive lead paint, cause fires or present other threats of injury. It also establishes standards of product safety and fines manufacturers for violations. Companies must convey reports of unreasonably dangerous products to the CPSC.
Not all injuries, of course, can be prevented by the CPSC. If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed, you may have a case against the product’s manufacturer or seller. State law typically deals with products liability. State law, however, may be preempted by federal law in certain situations, and specific products liability laws vary from state to state. This is why it is important to consult an attorney.
CONTACT OUR CLEVELAND DEFECTIVE PRODUCT LAWYERS
If you have questions regarding an injury that was caused by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, it is best to speak with an attorney. Schedule a consultation with a Cleveland products liability lawyer from The Mellino Law Firm to discuss your situation.