Product Liability

Consumers are often injured from products and devices they use and buy. Air bags and seat belts fail to operate, machinery and power tools fail to function, and household products such as toys, kitchenware, and appliances may have design or manufactured defects that can potentially result in serious injury or death. In Product Liability Law, the suppliers, designers and manufacturers of products are held responsible and must pay for all damages caused by defects or hazards in the products they market, sell or lease.

In general, there are two types of defects (1) Manufacturing defects and (2) Design defects. Manufacturing defects occur during the manufacture of the product and often are created by sub-standard materials or poor workmanship. Design defects are those in which the product design has dangerous qualities that could have been alleviated (designed out) through the use of proper engineering and/or design practices. Design defects are present even if the product is manufactured properly.
Defects in products may be shown by demonstrating that the product does not satisfy the ordinary expectations of consumers (consumer expectation test) as to whether the product is safe or that the dangerous risks inherent in the product’s design or manufacture outweigh the benefits of the product (risk/benefit test).

Further, Designers and manufacturers of products have a duty to warn of non-obvious dangers which are present in the products they distribute regardless of how well the product is designed or manufactured.

Product Liability cases can be tried on three different theories: negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty.

Negligence theories of product liability law rest upon below standard conduct of the defendant in the manufacturing, designing, testing and inspecting of its product. Careful thought and deliberation must also be put toward providing proper warnings to prevent injury in certain conditions. If any manufacturer or seller of a product fails to act responsibly in the design and/or manufacture of its products they may be held accountable for their negligence.

Strict liability requires the injured party only to prove that the product had a defect and that the defect existed before it reached the consumer’s hands. The “consumer expectation test” and the “risk/benefit test” are used to determine whether the product is defective. Negligence is not required to be demonstrated for a product manufacturer/distributor to be liable under strict liability principles. Strict liability is imposed if the product is shown to be defective and the defect caused harm to a person and/or property.

Breach of warranty allows an injured party to recover damages from an injury if the express or implied warranty is violated. Disclaimers are usually included with the product in the fine print of labels and in the sales contract. Such disclaimers must be obvious and clear in their description for product manufacturers/distributors to avoid liability for breach of warranty.

If you are injured by a defective product:

Keep all of the evidence! Keep as many pieces of the product as you can find. Write down the name of the manufacturer, model and serial number. Keep all receipts, packaging, instructions, and take pictures of the injury and site of the injury. Create a record that documents exactly what happened, where, when, and under what circumstances. Also, make sure you have names and addresses for all hospitals and doctors that treated the injured party.

If you were involved in an accident and believe it may have resulted from a defective product, click here to call the Law Offices of Berglund & Johnson. We will arrange a free consultation to help you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

Examples of Defective Products

Defective Toys

Approximately 150,000 families visit the emergency room each year due to a toy-related injury. The following list contains the most potentially harmful toy defects:

Small parts and balloons that present choking hazards (most frequent hazard)
Sharp parts that can cut skin
Chemical poisoning hazards, such as lead poisoning, which can cause permanent brain damage
Defective electrical systems that cause fire hazards Magnets that can be swallowed and may shred a child’s intestines.
Toys that create noise loud enough to cause ear damage
Toys that can fall apart as a result of a child sitting or standing on them
Manufacturers do not always follow their obligations to inform the consumer of potential toy hazards. As a result, thousands of dangerous toys reach a child’s hands every year, increasing a risk of a serious injury. For more information on consumer safety, please visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website at http://www.cpsc.gov/.

For safety tips on specific consumer products, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/tips.html .

Defective Tires

Serious injuries and death occur because of accidents that are caused by defective tires. Tire manufacturers sometimes cut corners and use cheap materials in order to reduce manufacturing costs and increase profits. Over the past few years, there have been countless tire recalls-including a 450,000 tire recall in 2007 involving Chinese-manufactured tires for trucks, vans and SUVs. Over 24 million tires have been recalled have been documented since 1966, the year in which the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was put into effect.

There are many ways a defective tire can be dangerous:

Tire blowouts cause approximately 530 fatalities and 23,000 collisions per year, according to Michelin. Blowouts occur when the tire comes apart quickly, causing a quick loss of air pressure. In the event of a tire blowout, remain calm and resist the desire to brake. Keep the steering wheel straight and accelerate slightly. When your vehicle is out of the way of traffic, you can then decelerate and pull to the side of the road.

Tread separation occurs when tread from the tire peels off as a result of a manufacturing defect. In 2001 and 2002, Bridgestone/Firestone tires caused at least 270 deaths and 800 injuries due to tread separation. Vehicles with high centers of gravity yield higher risk to vehicle rollovers. Such vehicles include various SUVs and 15-passenger vans.

Tire or rim explosionsare extremely dangerous and can cause drivers to lose control and result in a severe accident. Tires and rims need to match in size perfectly; and if they are incorrectly put together, an explosion is more likely to occur. A half inch difference in size is enough to potentially create an explosion.

Misplaced tires,which can be described as having new tires in the front of the vehicle and old tires in the rear of the vehicle, can cause hydroplaning which affects handling of the vehicle and can lead to an accident.

Used tires can sometimes be sold as new tires, and if a used tire was the cause of a serious injury in an accident, the retailer can be held liable. Recently, it has been demonstrated that some retailers are selling new tires that have been on the shelf for several years and that have deteriorated over time. When replacing old, worn out tires, you should question the tire retailer to make sure you are receiving tires that have been recently manufactured to insure that you are not sold tires with a limited lifespan.

SUV and 15 Passenger Van Roll-0vers

There are over 500,000 fifteen passenger vans are on the road in America. These large vans are widely used by churches and community organizations. High Schools and Colleges also use them to drive sports teams to games. Many drivers of these vehicles are not familiar with the dangerous characteristics and propensities of these vans to rollover during emergency situations. Ford Motor Co. builds and sells most 15 passenger vans on the highway in the U.S. Chrysler and General Motors build similar sized vehicles.

Ford produced models that include the E350 and Club Wagon E350. Chrysler models include the Dodge Ram Wagon B350 and Ram Van/Wagon B3500. General Motors manufactures the Chevrolet Express 3500, the GMC Savana, and the Rally/Vandura G3500. The same basic inherent design problems that make the Ford 15 passenger vans so dangerous are present in the Chrysler and GM versions. Other vehicles, such as various SUVs like the Ford Explorer have embodied serious roll-over characteristics.

15 passenger Vans have significant design and safety related defects that include allegations that the vehicles are:

Difficult to handle and subject to over-steering and loss of control
Unstable when loaded as advertised, leading to deadly rollover crashes;
Not crashworthy in that the roofs crush under foreseeable loads. Further, the windows are not laminated and pop out during rollovers, resulting in deaths in rollover crashes that would otherwise have been easily survivable.
Designed with seatbelts that are defective and confusing thereby causing passengers to be effectively unbelted causing occupant ejection during rollover.
Our Law Firm

The Law Offices of Berglund & Johnson is a nationally recognized law firm with offices in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and Riverside Counties. Our attorneys are recognized for the successful prosecution of lawsuits involving deaths, serious personal injuries including brain injury, burn injury and paralysis due to defective products, automobile accidents, construction accidents, Elder Abuse & Neglect, Dog Bites and Medical Malpractice. In addition, the injury law firm of Berglund & Johnson has successfully represented victims involved vehicle rollover accidents and other product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers.

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