In an investigation of recalled products last November, ABC News found that a typical product recall only recovers five to 20 percent of affected products. With hundreds of products recalled every year, it is very likely that you have a dangerous or defective product somewhere in your home.
Having dangerous products in your home does not make you an irresponsible consumer or careless in any way. It can be extremely difficult to stay constantly updated about current recalls and to return or repair every single piece you come across. However, there are ways you can protect yourself and your family from defective and dangerous products, whether they have been officially recalled or not.
Manufacturers of consumer goods have what is known as product liability. This means that they are responsible for the damages caused by their products. If you are injured because of a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to file a product liability claim against its manufacturer and receive monetary compensation for your injury.
California Dangerous Product Liability
Product liability law is the set of legal rules that govern who is responsible for dangerous or defective consumer products. These laws are created and enforced at the state level. In California, product liability law is covered in California Civil Code section 1714.45. Every state also has its own version of the Uniform Commercial Code in place, which covers warranty rules.
Product liability claims are often made citing negligence, strict liability, or a breach of warranty on the defendant's part. The type of claim an individual files against a manufacturer is determined by the way he or she was injured by the product. There are many different ways a product may be defective or otherwise dangerous. Examples of product defects are as follows:
Defectively manufactured products. These are products that were made incorrectly and come to the consumer damaged or defective. They are not products that have a design flaw, but products that suffer from an error made by the manufacturer. Examples of defectively manufactured products include:
- A bicycle without a braking system;
- A swing with a cracked chain; and
- A tainted medical or food product.
Defectively designed products. Unlike defectively manufactured products, these products have a design flaw. They are made correctly according to their specifications, but these specifications prove to be dangerous to consumers. Examples of this type of product are:
- A vehicle model that is prone to flipping over;
- A coffee machine that overheats and can cause an electrical fire; and
- A ladder that does not support the amount of weight it claims to support, creating a falling hazard for users.
Failure to warn of dangers or provide sufficient instructions. Product designers and manufacturers have a correct way to use their products in mind when they create and sell them. The correct way to use a product must be included in its packaging, either in an instruction manual or on the actual packaging. If there are any risks involved with using the product, these must be addressed as well. If a designer does not include instructions for dangers associated with his or her product that are not obvious to the product's users, any victim injured by the product may file a product liability claim. Examples of this type of injury include:
- Suffering from a dangerous side effect from mixing drugs because one or both drugs did not include a warning about mixing it;
- Injuries caused by any type of corrosive substance or chemical compound that did not warn users to wear protective clothing or work in a well-ventilated space while using it; and
- Suffering from a burn after handling a hot product that did not warn users of its ability to reach dangerously hot temperatures.
If you are not sure about whether you have grounds for a product liability or personal injury case, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Martinez & Schill LLP can help. We will be able to tell you whether or not your claim is valid and if so, which of the above categories it falls into.
Resources for Finding Product Recalls
When a manufacturer realizes that its product is dangerous or defective, it recalls the product and provides users with information about how to safely return the product or have it repaired.
The best way to find out about product recalls is to join one of the mailing lists that the government sends out detailing every new recall as it occurs. You can find these lists, as well as an archive of more than 15,000 recalled products at www.recalls.gov. The site has these products organized into seven categories: consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics, and environmental products.
Contact a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a family member have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, you may have grounds for a product liability claim. Contact Martinez & Schill LLP at 619-512-5995 to discuss your case with one of our firm's experienced San Diego product liability attorneys. We care about your family's safety as much as you do. Let us help you through the process of filing your product liability claim and getting the compensation you deserve.