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DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS

The law firm of Bell & Brigham represents people in Augusta, Georgia and throughout the surrounding communities, including in South Carolina, who have suffered serious injury or a wrongful death because of a defective product.  Defective products can play a role in nearly any type of personal injury case, including motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries, and often cause serious injuries as well as wrongful deaths.

What is a Product?

For the purposes of a products liability claim, a product is nearly anything available for sale in the marketplace.  This includes food, medications and drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, vehicle parts, animals, houses or buildings, household electronics, maps, navigational charts, and other consumer products.  Manufacturers and designers have a legal duty to create products that are safe for their intended use and for any reasonably foreseeable uses.

Design Defects

A product has a design defect if its very design is flawed.  As a result, every product that is manufactured according to that design’s specifications is similarly defective, even if the products are all properly manufactured.  Examples include child’s clothing made of flammable fabric that result in every item of clothing made with that fabric being dangerous, or a vehicle whose design renders it dangerously unstable and susceptible to rolling over.

Manufacturing Defects

A product that has a manufacturing defect was often designed safely, but obtains a defect when something occurs during the manufacturing process that causes one product or one batch of products to be defective.  This can be the result of using low-quality parts or taking shortcuts during the manufacturing process that result in a defective item.  For example, a medication might be generally safe for its intended use, but if too much or too little of an active ingredient was put into one batch of the product, it would possess a potentially dangerous defect.

Defective Warnings

Some products, even if they are designed and manufactured safely, contain inherent dangers.  Power tools, medications, gasoline, paints, and many electronic devices can cause serious injuries if used incorrectly.  Manufacturers have a legal duty to provide clear, understandable, and conspicuously placed instructions or warnings that will inform people how to use a product safely and alert them to the dangers that can result if such precautions are ignored.  Information as to any safety equipment that is required for safe use, such as wearing goggles or gloves, must also be included.

A product’s warnings and instructions can also be found defective if the manufacturer learned about the defect after the product entered the marketplace but failed to take the necessary steps to correct the problem, such as sending retailers additional warnings to place on packaging.  A product that fails to include the necessary warnings is defective, and we can seek recovery from the manufacturer on your behalf.

Types of Products Liability Claims

Products liability claims can arise out of three legal theories: negligence, breach of warranty, or strict liability:

  • Negligence

To prove a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the manufacturer, seller, or other party involved in the chain of distribution had a duty to exercise reasonable care in the process of manufacturing or selling a product and failed to fulfill that duty, which resulted in your injury.  A products liability case based on negligence includes any aspect of the manufacturing, distribution, or sales process where due care is not used.  Examples of negligence-based products liability cases include a manufacturer failing to anticipate foreseeable unintended uses of the product, failing to inspect or test it adequately, or failing to issue adequate warnings or instructions regarding how the product should be used safely.

  • Breach of Warranty

A breach of warranty claim arises under the law of contracts, where the law imposes certain “implied warranties” on the sale of goods.  These warranties are considered implied warranties because the law assumes that they apply even if they are not expressly stated on the product.  They exist to guarantee to consumers that a particular product is in the proper condition for use, free of defects, and works for the purpose its manufacturer intended.

  • Strict Liability

In a strict liability case, we need not prove that the defendant failed to meet a certain standard of care.  Instead, if we can demonstrate that the product was defective, that you used the product in a manner consistent with its intended use, and that you did not substantially change or modify the product from the time it left the manufacturer or seller’s hands, the defendant will be liable for the defect.  This can be a useful theory to use because it does not require the plaintiff to prove the defendant actually knew about the defect.

Product Misuse and Alteration

In your case, the defendant might try to say that it is not liable for your injuries because you misused the product.  This is important because the manufacturer is only liable for injuries caused by reasonably foreseeable uses of the product.  For example, people often stand on chairs to change light bulbs, so it would be reasonable to expect that a chair would be able to support someone standing on it.  It would not be foreseeable, however, to use an oven to dry clothes.  If you did this and got hurt as a result, the manufacturer would likely not be held responsible.  Whether a manufacturer can refute your case with a defense of product misuse depends on whether the misuse was foreseeable.  Manufacturers of products are required to recognize that some misuse of the product is foreseeable, and to design their products accordingly.

Another important defense the manufacturer might use is product alteration.  For example, if your accident occurred because your brakes gave out in your car, the manufacturer that installed them can avoid liability if it can prove that you somehow altered the brakes in a way that caused the danger.

Why You Need an Experienced Attorney

Each theory of products liability requires different methods of proof, procedures, and has different recoverable damages.  At Bell & Brigham, we have a proven record of obtaining recovery in numerous settlements, judgments, and trial verdicts in cases involving injury and death caused by defective products.  We are committed to thoroughly investigating every case to find important evidence that can not only prove your claim but also refute any potential defenses.  For more information about our past successes, please see our results page.

BELL & BRIGHAM
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
457 Greene Street (30901)
P.O. Box 1547, Augusta, GA
30903-1547
Phone: 706-722-2014
Toll Free: 800-763-2063
Fax: 706-722-7552

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