Compensation For Injuries Resulting From A Dangerous Product

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“Products liability” is the legal term for holding those responsible who manufacture, produce, design or market a product that — due to the fault of one of the providers of the product — injures one or more of its users. It is not only the manufacturer of the product that can be held liable, but depending on the circumstances also designers, distributors or retailers.

State law varies on the requirements an injured consumer must meet in order to successfully prove a product liability case. In order to bring a successful lawsuit in New Jersey, for example, the injured person must prove that the product that caused harm was:

  • Not reasonably safe for its intended use
  • Dangerous when it left the control of the defendant
  • Not significantly changed after it left control of the defendant
  • Used by the consumer in a way that the defendant could foresee
  • The reason the consumer was injured

In addition to proving all of the above, the injured person might be required to show how the product is “defective.” For example, the product could be dangerous because it was manufactured incorrectly, was designed defectively, or because the defendant did not properly warn consumers of the product’s intended use or inherent dangers.

Bars To Recovery

Even if all the above requirements are met, there are other reasons that prevent an injured consumer from recovering compensation. For example, determining what uses are “foreseeable” with a product can be very difficult. Legally, whether the use of the product is foreseeable is an objective test; this means that whether or not the defendant literally foresaw the use of the object in a way that injured the consumer is irrelevant. For example: a person stands on a chair to reach an object and subsequently the chair breaks. How often do people stand on chairs? A jury would have to decide if a chair manufacturer, who knows that a chair is incapable of handling a person standing up, would be liable for injuries if an individual used the chair to reach an object.

Another bar to recovery occurs when the injured consumer assumed the risk. This occurs if a person knowingly uses or participates in a product or activity that he or she knows is inherently dangerous. For example, an individual who is injured while riding a motorcycle at dangerous speed cannot claim that the manufacturer was at fault for making a dangerous product. However, if the motorcycle had a defective design or was made incorrectly, a consumer can obtain recovery if the consumer wasn’t aware of the defect.

Contact An Attorney

Because state laws vary and individual circumstances are unique, those injured by the use of a product should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney experienced in product liability cases to determine whether they may qualify for compensation.

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