We are all consumers. We buy products every day to help us in virtually all aspects of our lives, from the food we feed our family to the car we drive to work. We assume that the things we buy are relatively safe, or else they wouldn’t be sold to us. Unfortunately, dangerous products regularly make their way into the hands of consumers and cause serious injury or even death.
There are close to 40 million injuries related to consumer products every year in the United States, and more than 35,000 deaths. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds people that these injuries and deaths are related to and not necessarily caused by consumer goods, and that distinction is important. But the statistics still reveal that the products we buy can – and do – cause an extraordinary amount of harm.
When these injuries are due to defective or faulty products, consumers have the right to take legal action to recover costs associated with their injury. When you’re harmed by a defective product, you shouldn’t be left to face the medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses alone. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, our product liability attorneys want to hold companies accountable when they put profits before your safety.
If you’ve been injured by a defective product, we can help protect your rights. Our legal staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week—call (800) 444-5000 or fill out our free initial consultation form today.
What Does Product Liability Mean?
Product liability is a legal term used to describe the burden of responsibility carried by the makers and sellers of goods. If a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer sells a dangerous product and a consumer suffers serious injuries because of that product, the consumer can file a product liability claim.
These claims are extremely important because they ensure that an injured person doesn’t have to pay the costs resulting from the negligence of the company selling the product. Equally important is the fact that product liability claims can help bring awareness to the dangers of a product and prevent future harm from occurring to consumers.
When Many Injured Plaintiffs Sue One Defendant
Lawsuits brought by a number of people who suffered similar harm or losses are “class action” and “mass tort” litigation. And though they do share similarities, they are different in how they go about compensating the many that have been harmed by a single negligent defendant – usually a company. Below is an explanation of both types of civil cases, and also how some mass torts become an MDL – multi-district litigation.
A “class action” lawsuit is one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sues the defendant as a group.
Types of Product Defects
From medical devices to goods off of store shelves, nearly any product can be susceptible to a defect. Three common types of defects include:
- Design defects: These defects occur when a flaw in the initial design of a product, such as a missing safety latch or handle, leads to injury—even when the product is used as intended.
- Manufacturing defects: Poor product construction, due to a factory’s assembly process or a component failure, may lead to injury.
- Improper labeling or inadequate instructions: Manufacturers must provide you with clear warning labels and directions to help ensure safe and proper use of their products.
Because a single product may be designed, produced, and sold by different companies, it may not be clear who is responsible for a product’s defect. Our experienced product liability attorneys have the legal resources to investigate the details of your injury, so the proper parties can be held accountable.
Examples of Product Liability
Any defective product that causes someone harm could be the basis of a product liability claim. There is a long list of examples, though it is most helpful to focus on some of the most common ways consumers suffer serious injuries.
- Defective medical devices – Because patients are dependent on medical devices to sustain or improve their health, it’s no surprise that when these devices fail, they can have terrible repercussions. Our firm deals extensively with faulty medical devices, including knee and hip replacements, mesh devices, IVC filters and pacemakers, to name just a few examples.
- Defective drugs and medicines – Just like defective medical devices, the drugs consumers take can be prone to failure or contamination. 20% of new drugs sold to consumers will be recalled or will need to be given an additional safety warning. Some of these products might be purchased as prescription drugs, such antidepressants or SSRIs, while others are available to the public as over-the-counter medications.
- Defective automobiles and auto parts – Some of the most highly publicized consumer product hazards center around vehicle parts. Defective airbags, ignitions, and tires have all made headlines for the potential dangers they cause motorists. The number of safety-related recalls in the automobile industry have soared over recent years.
- Defective child products – Several of the products we buy for our children could pose a threat to their health. For example, defective child safety seats are frequently subject to recalls. Defective toys can present unexpected choking hazards or be prone to explosion if they are powered by a faulty battery.
These are just a few of the most common types of faulty products, but the list is incredibly long. Common household products like herbicides used in our gardens or cleaning agents carry the potential to cause cancers and other potential fatal conditions if they are made with dangerous chemicals or are improperly labeled.
How Harmful Products Make It Onto the Market
As consumers, we place a certain amount of faith in our institutions. When we go to the grocery store, we trust that the food we’re buying is safe to eat. When we buy cars, we expect that the vehicle will meet certain standards. Medical devices, toys for our children, cell phones – we assume that if these products are available for purchase, they are also safe.
However, harmful or defective products regularly make it into the hands of consumers, and they can sometimes cause very serious illness and injury. How is it possible that commonly purchased goods carry the potential to cause us harm? Consumer product-related injuries are often the result of institutional failings, on the part of manufacturers, government agencies, or both.
Recalls and Consumer Safety
One of the most important safeguards against consumer product-related injuries is the use of recalls. Recalls can be issued by the government (the Food & Drug Administration, commonly referred to as the “FDA”) or by the company that sold, distributed, or manufactured a product. It is important for consumers to be aware of safety-related recalls, but it is often the case that companies do a poor job of alerting buyers of these recalls.
Unfortunately, it is also true that recalls are sometimes issued only after serious injuries have been suffered and several complaints have been filed. That’s why it is important for consumers to seek legal counsel if they have been hurt by a defective product. They may be entitled to compensation for the damages they suffer, and their claim could help alert other consumers about the dangers posed by a faulty product.
Get Help Today
Texas law limits how long you have to file a claim—so if you’ve been injured by a defective product, it’s important to talk to a lawyer about your injuries as soon as possible. Terry Bryant has more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of injured people, and we want to help you, too.
To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.