We all love giving and receiving gifts around the holidays. There’s nothing quite like the joy of seeing a smile light up a relative’s face as they open something you gave them.
But sometimes a gift doesn’t work as expected. This can be as silly as a shirt that’s too small or a robot vacuum that keeps smacking itself into a wall. Unfortunately, it can sometimes result in severe injury.
For instance, what if you bought your husband a new grill with a set of defective burners. He fires it up to test it out, and a huge spout of flame shoots out, severely burning him. Suddenly he’s in the hospital, and he won’t be able to work for several weeks. No amount of holiday cheer is going to be able to pay your bills.
If you’ve been injured or had your property damaged by a defective product, you deserve compensation. Here’s what you need to know about product liability this holiday season.
What Is Product Liability?
Most product defects fall into three categories. Depending on the defect, it may fall only into one category, or there may be multiple factors at play. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three categories.
- Design defects – Manufacturers are responsible for providing an appropriate degree of safety. This can depend on the type of product and the intended users. To use one example, a hunting rifle is capable of inflicting grave physical harm; if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be able to do its job. A children’s toy, on the other hand, needs to meet an extreme level of safety.
● Manufacturing defects – In some cases, a product is perfectly well-designed, but something goes wrong in the manufacturing process. The factory may miss a step, or inadvertently use the wrong materials. This famously happened to the manufacturers of the drug Zantac. It turns out that some of the chemicals used during manufacturing were carcinogenic, and they had to issue a recall.
● Labeling defects – If a product has inherent safety risks, manufacturers must warn customers of the danger. That’s why so many products come with multiple warning labels. If a manufacturer is aware of a risk and did not provide a warning, that could form the basis for a liability claim.
I was Injured by a Defective Product – What Should I Do?
If you or someone you love is injured by a product defect, you’ll need to take the proper steps to make sure you’re able to get compensation. Here’s what to do first:
● Get medical attention – Before you do anything else, have the injury taken care of. Go to the emergency room, or call an ambulance if you need to. Even if you’re not sure you’re seriously injured, it’s wise to have it checked out. The initial adrenaline rush can mask the pain from broken bones and sprained soft tissues.
● Collect the product and documents – Don’t throw the product out. If you think it failed due to a manufacturer’s defect, the product itself could be key evidence in any lawsuit. At the same time, round up any documentation you have, such as instruction manuals and warning labels. Don’t throw anything out, including the packaging and marketing material.
● Consult with an attorney – The last thing you want to do is represent yourself in a product liability lawsuit. This isn’t small claims court. You need a product liability attorney with experience in taking on big manufacturers.
Which Products Are Most Likely to Cause Injury?
Any product can cause severe injuries that require medical treatment. Take a fidget spinner, for example. You might think it’s just a harmless toy. But in one case in Texas, a mother bought her child a fidget spinner, not knowing that it could be disassembled. The child took it apart, and swallowed a small part that blocked her airway. The mother had to call an ambulance, and the daughter required emergency surgery to have the obstruction removed.
Then again, some types of products are more likely than others to cause an injury. These can include:
● Tablets and laptops
● Sports equipment
● Vehicles and related accessories
● Home appliances
● Skateboards, hoverboards, and bicycles
● Toys with small parts
Remember: a manufacturer is not liable for every injury sustained in the use of a product. The product must actually be defective in some way. If you don’t know how to skateboard, fall, and get a concussion, you’re not entitled to compensation. But if the wheels suddenly fly off your brand new skateboard and pitch you into a wall, you might be.