The holidays are a wonderful time. A season of joy, there’s nothing better than spreading cheer through thoughtful gift giving. When we give a gift to a family member, friend, coworker or employee, the last thing we expect is to cause pain and suffering. However, with close to 400 products recalled every year for defects that threaten the safety of consumers, there is a chance that the defective gift you give could cause injury to its recipient.
If you give someone a gift that ends up being defective, are you liable for the damages it causes? Medical bills due to personal injury can be incredibly costly. In addition, being responsible for them may deter you from ever giving a gift again. Thankfully, the product liability attorneys from Sweet Lawyers want you to know you have nothing to fear. If your present ends up being a dangerous dud, you’re off the hook.
When it comes to defective gifts, a third party can be held accountable. While you may not be responsible, it is good to understand how a product defect lawsuit determines liability. If you or someone you know has been injured due to a hazardous product defect, the expertise of a top product liability attorney can help to guide you through the process of determining fault. Here are some things you should know about product defect liability:
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is an area of law that holds manufacturers, suppliers and sellers responsible for their part in allowing the sale and distribution of dangerous or defective products. Depending on the type of defect, one or more parties can be held liable for the damages the product caused once in the hands of consumers.
The federal government does not govern product liability, as there is not yet a federal liability law. As a result, the ability to pursue a product defect lawsuit will depend on your own state’s product liability laws.
A state’s product defect liability laws are written to protect the consumer while still requiring a burden of proof. What proof is needed and the thresholds that confirm responsibility will vary. The consumer protections put in place by every state will cover negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty.
To better understand what rights you have as a consumer in your state, consult with an experienced product liability attorney.
What Kind Of Product Defects Do I Need To Watch Out For?
If you receive a defective gift, you have the right to sue everyone responsible in the chain of distribution. You do not have to purchase the item in order to seek damages for a hazardous product.
If you give a gift or allow someone to borrow an item that turned out to be defective, you are not liable. Known as strict liability, there are laws in place that protect gift-givers for any injury sustained by a defective gift.
There are three areas of defects that consumers should be aware of:
- Design Defect: A design defect in a product liability claim means that there was a flaw in a product’s design that rendered it unusable and dangerous. Broken into two categories, inadvertent design error and conscious design error, a design defect does not need to be proven intentional in order to prove true. However, your product liability attorney could prove that a manufacturer intentionally cut corners to increase profit at the expense of safety. As a result, that willful negligence may result in punitive damages being sought.
- Manufacturing Defect: Sometimes, the design of a product is perfect but a flaw in the manufacturing process renders it defective. Manufacturing defects are unfortunate realities that exist even when the highest quality control measures are met. A product that deviates from its intended design and use will likely fall into the manufacturing defect category when the subject of a product liability lawsuit.
- Marketing Defects: Also known as a labeling defect or a defect in warning, this is when a product does not adequately warn consumers about any potential hazards or dangers of use. Whether the item is missing instructions, has imperfect instructions, or does not have the necessary warning labels, a marketing defect can cause injury to a product user by not alerting them to a possible hazard. Examples of this defect would be a power tool without instructions or a food item without listed allergens.
How Do I Know If A Product Is Recalled?
Product recall alerts are a common occurrence. Sometimes they go by unnoticed, and sometimes they make nationwide news – like the Rock ‘n Play infant sleepers. If you are worried about a product you own or gifted someone being recalled, here are ways you can stay informed:
- Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, cpsc.gov, which lists all current and past recalls, as well as warnings for potentially hazardous products.
- If your item comes with a registration card, fill it out and send it in. Some do not like to hassle with filling out the card. However, doing this will give the company a way to reach you if their product is recalled. In addition, it will make it easier for you to be compensated.
- While many products don’t come with a registration card, you can register your item online with the manufacturer directly using its serial number.
- Stay informed by reading or watching the news, as major recalls are usually covered.
Commonly Recalled Gifts
As the holiday season approaches and we begin our holiday shopping, it’s helpful to know the hazards to avoid. As product liability attorneys, Sweet Lawyers has seen the following cases related to product recalls and product liability lawsuits:
- Car seats – both travel systems and stand-alone seats
- Products that contain lead paint, such as dollhouses, furniture, and dolls
- Toys that are easy to break, where the small pieces are easy to choked on
- Anything containing a lithium battery
- Toys with wheels, where faulty screws cause a hazard
- Stuffed animals – button eyes are choking hazards
- Pre-packaged fruits or other food items – unsafe bacteria and cross contamination of allergens
Product Defect Lawsuit Settlements
In order to receive a settlement for your injuries relating to a defective product, your product liability attorney must be able to that your defective product fits into one of the three categories mentioned above: design defect, manufacturing defect, or marketing defect. As per strict liability, product liability law and personal injury law holds the applicable parties accountable for any defective products released into the market.
To pursue a product liability lawsuit, your product liability lawyer must be able to prove that you:
- Properly used the product
- Followed the product directions
- Read and adhered to all warning labels
If you prove the above, your compensation can cover economic damages, non-economic damages, and in some states, punitive damages.
Do I Need A Product Liability Attorney If I Gave Someone A Defective Gift?
Given that there is no overarching federal regulations regarding product liability, the laws surrounding each individual case of personal injury or wrongful death due to a defective product or drug are complex. In addition, this includes a defective gift you may have unknowingly given someone. Hire the right product liability attorney. As a result, you and your loved ones will receive the maximum compensation for any injuries.
Do not let the complexities or challenges of a lawsuit stop you from seeking what you are owed. Contact Sweet Lawyers’ experienced team of product liability attorneys today and hold companies liable for the damage they do.