An Indiana product liability attorney can assist people who have been injured or harmed by a dangerous and defective product. When people purchase products, whether for their home, vehicle, children or personal use, they should feel confident that the merchandise they are using is safe. Sadly, there are some situations where people are injured or even killed because of defective products. Individuals hurt by a product may need the assistance of an Indiana product liability attorney when they have been harmed while using an allegedly defective product.
What is Product Liability?
Companies have a responsibility to make sure that the products they produce are not going to cause harm to consumers. Under the law, there are three different types of defects that consumers can claim when seeking compensation:
- Label or marketing defects – This occurs when companies fail to provide clear warnings about risks associated with their product. Recently, women undergoing chemotherapy have filed multiple lawsuits against the maker of a drug called Taxotere, claiming that the company failed to warn them that the drug could cause permanent hair loss, a condition known as alopecia.
- Manufacturing defects – These can include a change in materials that leads to harm, a mistake made in the making of a product or even contamination of a product within the production setting. Recently, The Chicago Tribune stated that federal inspectors discovered manufacturing defects in supplement companies, which included rodent infestations, not having master recipes for their products, incorrect formulating of ingredients, failing to follow sanitary guidelines and even substituting ingredients.
- Design defects – In some cases, a product is simply designed wrong, posing a risk to any consumer who uses it. After receiving reports of 55 problems with its child safety gates, Ikea issued a recall of 80,000 units, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Injuries included bruises, cuts and in at least two cases, concussions. The company admitted a design defect in the locking mechanisms on the gates.
While personal injury cases usually rely on proving negligence, this is not always the case for a claim involving a defective product, states Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. In some cases, people just have to show that a defect exists or that there was an implied warranty that the product was safe to use.
Types of Compensation
People who have received an injury due to the malfunction of a product may be eligible for certain types of compensation. Companies can be held liable for actual damages and/or punitive damages. Actual damages are designed to compensate injured victims for expenses stemming from the injury itself, such as medical expenses, emotional and mental trauma, the need for future medical treatment, and lost wages – whether from having to take off of work during a healing period or for future wages if the victim is left unable to work.
Punitive compensation, on the other hand, is used as a way to discipline the party for its wanton negligence in failing to protect the public. For example, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a punitive damage award of $50 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. The family was successful in proving to the jury that the woman’s use of the company’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes resulted in her cancer. The company denies that claim.
Protecting Consumers from Harm
Legislation, such as the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, are designed to shield citizens from the dangers associated with product flaws and malfunctions. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also reported that the Child Safety Protection Act requires manufacturers to place choking hazards warnings on items that children may be exposed to. Furthermore, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act requires companies to package dangerous products in way that makes them child-resistant.
How an Indiana Product Liability Attorney Can Help
Product makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their products, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a product maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by the fault of others may be eligible to recover money for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
The families of those killed may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.